Without further adieu, here’s the Best Of 2013 with hyperlinks to the relevant blog posts:
Best Moment: Telling the church on February 3 that the previous Sunday (January 27) they had given $389,000 toward the Home Campaign and its ministry of healing our homes while building a home that heals. Today girls rescued from domestic sex trafficking are receiving healing grace in a home you paid for. Wow. Considering that our Miracle Goal for that day was $150,000, the whole experience still gives me chills.
Best Ministry Partner: On Eagles’ Wings Ministry and its commitment to the rescue and restoration of underage girls victimized by the rape-for-profit industry. See above Moment.
Best Compliment: A couple who joined GSUMC in 2013 sent out a “newsy” Christmas card to their long list of friends. I made this list! Here’s what they said about their church: “Both of us joined Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, an evangelical, Bible preaching, hand raising, foot stomping congregation that would make John Wesley proud.” I only hope we can live up to those kinds of accolades.
Best Sermon: When 17-year-old Amber Carter took the pulpit (OK, here it’s a rolling table) and gave some serious Gospel truth as she brought the Not A Fan series to a close.
Best Video: How Chris Macedo took the raw material of my idea of shooting a video in a slave cemetery and turned into the work of art that opened Wildest Dreams. Watch it here.
Best Event: MarriedLife Live which supported our Home Based series with a BBQ dinner, video teaching from Andy Stanley, and, best of all, the launching of a vibrant new LifeGroup for couples. This event helped us coin the phrase: every event is a step. Look for more MarriedLife Lives in 2014.
Best Hire: Devin Tharp as Youth & Family Pastor. The more I know him, the more I love him.
Best Farewell: John Pavlovitz who after eight years as our Youth Pastor and a brief time as our Pastor of Ministry Development realized that you can run from a call to students but you can’t hide from it. So he answered a call to a Student position in Raleigh. Church departures can be fraught with anxiety but this one was filled with grace.
Best Expansion: When the United Methodist Church asked us if we could adopt the Zoar United Methodist Church, absorb its obligations, and embrace its people. After much research and preparation, the answer was “yes.” Best result: a whole collection of new friends & church members. Second best result: the ZROC! Zoar Road Outreach Center.
Best Blog Post: Exclusive Inclusivity which takes on some of United Methodism’s sacred cows while also taking an almost bewildered look at the racial & ethnic diversity God has given us here.
Best New Song: Let It Be Known. Does anyone else look for a disco ball when this one starts?