To The Family of God at Gardenside,
There are times when you need to evaluate and take stock of circumstances and situations. And if Jesus tarries in His return, Sunday August 31st will be one of those times (1 year since Kari, Karissa, Peanut and I began our ministry here at Gardenside Christian Church). I followed a minister that had been here for only 16 months…he followed a minister that had been here for 10 years and when his ministry ended here at Gardenside there was a separation that still causes pain today. At close to the same time Gardenside went through the grieving process of the death of their beloved Worship Leader, one of my dearest friends, Gary Nelson.
I knew all of this as I met with Gardenside’s present leaders, and some from the past. I remember one of them saying…“This is our last chance.” And I told them a story…one I’ve told from the pulpit, at least once. “If you get up every day of your life for 20 years, take your shower, eat your breakfast and walk down the same path that leads to the barn…it gets very familiar, worn down, you could travel it with your eyes closed. But suppose one day you get up, take your shower, eat your breakfast and decide you don’t want to go to the place you’ve gone for the past 20 years…you want to go to the pond instead. But the path to the pond is different, new, uncomfortable….so you decide you will take the path that you always have….to the pond. No matter how much you want to go to a new place…if you travel the same path you always have, you will end up where you’ve always been.” The definition of Insanity is “doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.”
So, my calling and ministry here, alongside some courageous leadership and staff, is to lead Gardenside Christian Church to a healthier place. I know that the only way this is possible is through discernment and courage given by the Holy Spirit, and a willingness to stay on a path that fulfills God’s plan and purpose for His Church, even when there are “old path” people who shout about how much they dislike this new journey.
God’s plan and purpose for His Church has always been twofold: 1. Reach lost people, and 2. Help Christ’s followers grow in their faith to maturity. It involves surrendering some of the things we’ve always done…like a Sunday night service, so that we could partner with Iglesia Nueva Vida…they desperately needed a place to meet on Sunday evenings because they were losing their current meeting place…and as our leadership connected with their leadership, we clearly recognized the leading of the Holy Spirit. In this past 8 months they have baptized 7 people into Christ, and are making deep connections within the quickest growing demographic in the Gardenside community. God continues to open new ministries that allow us to walk a new path of passion and purpose…will it involve change? Absolutely. Will everyone like it? Absolutely not! But if Gardenside Christian Church is to have a future beyond the next 10 years then we must invest ourselves in that future. Young families with students and children have to be made a priority. One of my deepest desires is for our mature leaders, both male and female, to connect with younger leaders. Biblically this is what we are called to do…it creates an influx of new enthusiasm, but tempers it with wisdom and patience. Each of our present Elders have been challenged to adopt a young man or men to mentor and prepare for future leadership. Why? Because “people are always more important than programs and things, and kids are people too.” On August 31st at our combined family meeting at 11:11 am (there will not be a 9 am service), we also will present to you “The Timothy Build,” an exciting part of our future that goes right along with the other mentoring projects.
In September we are going to call the church together in unity to study and hear from the book of James in a 7 week study called “Life App.” 7 Sunday morning sessions…each of our adult Sunday School classes studying the same material…and 4 Sunday evening sessions for new adults, and young families to help support our Student ministry.
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On September 19th through 21st Gardenside will have a Mission and Focus weekend with David and Rachel Kibler from Catalyst Christian Church in Nicholasville. Everyone is invited to the 6:30 Friday night session where we’ll talk about our mission. Saturday morning at 9:00AM David will address our men and Rachel will share with our women…and then David and I will exchange pulpits for Sunday morning services.
You will also hear about our new ministry group studies for Wednesday nights on the 31st, as well as a miracle offering we have planned for November 2 called, “The Measure of Grace Is the Gift.” Our goal will be to raise $75,000 and that offering would be focused in three purpose driven areas: Pastoral, Our Facilities, and Outreach (others). We will celebrate and plan forward with an “All-In” (congregational meeting) on Wednesday, November 5th.
What can you do in preparation for the 31st and beyond? Pray for the Spirit of God to be at work in us and in you. Plan to be a part of the unifying study and ministries. Proclaim “good news.” Instead of being a critic…be an encourager….trust that God is working in your leadership and staff so that we can courageously follow His example “in a new and living way.” Thank you in advance for choosing to be a part of God’s Kingdom at work in our community.
His servant and yours,
Rick Burdette, Lead Minister
Gardenside Christian Church