2018 was an amazing year at Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church.
Five years ago, the congregation of Spirit of Joy! entered into a process called “Redevelopment.” Redevelopment is intended as a time of rediscovering our mission and purpose in this community.
Through partnership with the wider church, we discerned that God was calling us to head in a new direction – to revive our ministry and community in a new way.
As we discussed through that process, we heard God calling us to focus on relationships – deep, joyful relationship with God, with one another, and with our neighbors. Those relationships have been reshaping our lives and our faith as we grow closer to God and one another.
Deeper in Scripture
In 2018, we focused on growing deep roots in our faith. We returned to the basics: worship together, prayer, and reading the Bible.
Over the summer, we read the WHOLE BIBLE in just 90 days. Not everyone finished, but most of the congregation participated to some extent. In fact, 63% of our congregation reported reading the Bible more in 2018 than they did in 2017 – and not just a little bit, people said that they read the Bible a LOT more.
The Bible is our story – it is our primary witness to the promises and grace of God. In an age when fewer and fewer people know the Bible, we are creating a community rooted in the story of God’s love.
Already in 2019 we have continued this trend, as we are reading together the whole Gospel of Mark.
Deeper in Worship
In most churches – Lutheran, Baptist, Roman Catholic, and every other flavor – an average of just 25% of the members come to worship each week.
Here at Spirit of Joy! we have grown with a culture of high commitment to worship.
We currently have 127 members of the congregation, and our average Sunday worship attendance in 2018 was 83. That means that on an average Sunday, 65% of our members are in worship.
How committed are we to weekly worship together?
In 2018, 76% of our member families were in worship for more than half of our Sunday worship services – and a full third of us attended 80% or more of the weekly worship services!
Are you looking to grow in faith? We learned this year that almost everyone who reported increasing their worship attendance also said that their faith grew stronger this year.
Since we began redevelopment 5 years ago, our total worship attendance has grown by more than 30%, and in 2018 it grew by 5% over 2017.
Deeper in Prayer
As we grew deeper in faith, we were reminded that prayer is the first language of faith. We learned some basic prayer practices, and many of us tried on new routines and habits of prayer.
43% of us reported that our prayer life grew stronger in 2018.
As we continue to grow in 2019, we will share new opportunities, tools, and resources for prayer.
Deeper in Generosity
The people of Spirit of Joy! are generous!
One of our core convictions is that “Joyful people live generously” – and the actions of this congregation show that truth.
In 2018, 67 households gave to our ministry together … Oh, and by the way, our 127 members represent 51 households. That means that we have a number of households who regularly participate in our congregation both in attendance and giving, and we have people outside of our congregation who support our ministry.
Of those who gave to our ministry in 2018, more than a third of them contributed more than they did in 2017.
And it’s not just about money. Our community shows up to volunteer –in our wider neighborhood, in outside organizations, and in support of our ministry. Loved people serve people.
In a given week, at least 40 hours of volunteering happen in and around our building. And that doesn’t begin to reflect the countless hours that we volunteer with other organizations.
As we head into this new year, we are reminded of our commitment to love our neighbor. Together we are opening our eyes and our hearts to the ways we can serve our community.
Our Financial Health
Looking toward the future, the Leadership Team is conscious of our need to manage well the generosity of our members.
Our Operating Fund income for 2018 was $273,921.
Our Operating Fund expenses for 2018 were $264,265.
Our 2018 income was slightly above our budgeted number, and our 2018 expenses were below our budgeted amounts.
In line with our projections, we expended the last of our 2016-2019 capital funds, out of which we have been paying our monthly mortgage note. The remaining balance on our mortgage is approximately $270,000. We are in the beginning stages of a new capital campaign, so that we can free ourselves for more ministry and outreach by paying down this debt.
Looking Toward 2019
As we look forward to this year in ministry, we give thanks for the ways that God’s Spirit has been poured out on our community.
Watch this year for new opportunities for relationship building, prayer, and Bible Study outside of Sunday morning.
As we grew our roots deeper in 2018, this new year promises to be a year of our branches beginning to reach out. We will be called this year to serve our neighbors and to carry the love of Jesus to our community through our actions.
Five years ago the members of Spirit of Joy! stepped out in faith. They believed that God was calling them to a new and exciting thing.
In the midst of that process we encountered the power of God who brings new life from the dead, we re-discovered the joy of our faith, and we have built meaningful relationships with our neighbors.
Thanks be to God for this ministry that we share.