August 16, 2019
|Sadly, I had some technical problems with Tinyletter, so several unsuccessful attempts at sending prayerletters earlier this summer have gone for naught until now. Please forgive my tardiness. As a result, this will be a bit long. But I wanted you to be caught up...|
God has been at work here in the Centennial, CO area in some delightful ways - but not always in ways that we had anticipated or even hoped, to be honest. Please allow me to recap some such blessings before mentioning our key prayer needs:
1. We were disappointed in the follow-up response to our outreach marriage seminar, "Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage". Although we had 20+ adults attend, over half were from a sister church. Only one couple was from our community - and they weren't interested in further contact.
2. Rod & Susan Henderson (our relatively new teammates - from ABWE Portugal) offered to teach a home Bible study that one of our church members offered to host. Then the Hendersons started a class (which was held at a local library in an attempt to connect with folks outside the church) about the teachings of C.S.Lewis.
Low attendance (only a small handful from our church and a guest or two) at both and neither group brought in any community prospects.
3. One very good ministry that Rod and Susan have brought has been getting us on Facebook and upgrading our church website. We have had a large number of "hits" on each of the events we have done in 2019.
4. Our Ladies Tea in May was a great blessing with at least one lady specifically asking, "So what does this 'being born again' mean?" She has not embraced Jesus yet, but the door is still open.
5. A number of major maintenance issues have arisen at our church this year. We have had to replace 2 major A/C units - to the tune of nearly $17,000 each. We also needed some parking lot lights. Thankfully, our giving has been very good - enabling us to handle those major issues quite well. Praise God.
6. Darlene and I enjoyed some vacation time - which included the national GARBC conference in Iowa (just 20 min. from our eldest daughter and family) and seeing both my side of the family (my dad's dementia has gotten much worse) as well as both of Darlene's brothers in Illinois and Michigan. At the conference, I was blessed to be once again added to the Council of 18 in the GARBC (RBM) and am very optimistic in the direction our association is now headed under the leadership of our new national rep, Mike Hess. Please pray for that association's wisdom and evangelistic fervor.
(Below is our "boss", Clare Jewell, and his wife, Donna as our west coast missionaries met for a retreat.)
7. Shortly after we returned, we were blessed to have one of our supporting churches offer to bring a group of teens and leaders to do something like Vacation Bible School. We called it "High Voltage" to differentiate from all the "professional VBS children" who go from church to church each summer. We had VERY high hopes due to all the publicity, the "hits" from facebook, and all the people we had found door-to-door who seemed quite positive about it. (We have had terrible numbers in our first 3 efforts at VBS compared with other cities in which we have served.) So when only 11 kids showed up on day one, I was stunned! How could this be, Lord?!?! Fortunately by the week's end we had 27 children (1 better than our best Colorado VBS previously) and 4 professed to want Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Plus, 1 child was from a family I had been trying to reach for nearly 3 years!
8. I have enjoyed playing on a city over-50 softball league the past few summers (since our church couldn't field a church league team). I switched to a local team after playing with a church member's Castle Rock team previously. At first I thought I was the only Christian on a team that had attitudes and language that would never have been tolerated by my Castle Rock coach. But not only have I found that there are 4 or 5 of us, but have been able to have some spiritual conversations with a few teammates. Two teammates have now come multiple times to worship services.
9. We are having our large fall outreach event on Sept. 8th after the worship service - "Western Round-Up". Please pray that our newest event (mechanical bull) will lead to new people attending who have been prepared by the Holy Spirit to be ready to respond to the Gospel. Pray for good weather, too. 2 years ago we had almost no one come due to cold temps and rain.
10. This is perhaps the most important item in this letter... We have been praying for 3 years for some help to get this church moving forward more effectively. We have such an elderly congregation, we can't seem to keep younger families with kids - who, when they see a lack of kids and us sitting in one section (out of four sections) of pews - they don't seem prone to want to make us their church. Gaining a hearing of the Gospel has also been much tougher than any previous city in which we have ministered.
This summer God seems to have opened the door to 2 possible options for assistance:
a. A church in Highlands Ranch that was birthed 11 years ago and is still meeting in a rented recreation center. They are very similar to us in many ways, but much younger - about 65-70 attend it. If we were to consider a merge with them, we would see similar music styles, preaching as central, and probably be able to merge will minimal ripples related to change. There are a couple of other "issues" that would have to be worked out...
b. A 42-year-old small groups pastor at a mega-church has contacted us after we had reached out to the church where he serves. He believes God is calling him to a pulpit ministry and feels committed to the south Denver suburbs (like us). He is a very gifted young man who has served in another mega-church as youth pastor. He has wisdom beyond his years. According to him, others at his current church said that if he ever left the associate pastor position to become a lead pastor somewhere nearby, they would follow him. He thinks that number of people could be quite large. His name is Shannon. Please pray as we meet with Shannon and his wife tomorrow (17th) to discuss his theology, vision, and expectations.
As you can see, one option represents a bird in the hand.
The other is a bird in the bush - but could be a lot of unseen birds in that bush.
And, yes, I am normally very "down" on church mergers - unless both churches are at death's door; but these two opportunities seem a bit different and we really want South Holly to be an bright light on the hill - a church that is effectively being used by God to accomplish His will in reaching and discipling lost people.
One more item: Darlene continues to have gastro-intestinal issues - sometimes very debilitating. Please pray as we pursue more options as to how to treat them.
Thanks for your faithfulness in praying and supporting us. In that latter regard, our mission (ABWE) just modified their support levels for the first time in perhaps 20 years. We can now enlarge our support income, but only if we raise it from churches and individuals so as to have it available in our account. If you have any missions money available, we would be delighted to be considered to receive some of it. Thanks for considering us.
For HIS glory,
Sam and Darlene Farlow
ABWE - Centennial, CO
Sam's cell: 208-371-3498