Thanksgiving week is upon us! This is a special time to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. I happen to be writing this the day after the Texas Rangers won their first World Series Championship. I know that there are many who are thankful for this in our church—and rightfully so. I remember being thankful last year when another Texas team won the World Series. But putting sports aside for a moment, we truly have so much to be thankful for both individually and as a church. I believe it’s healthy and appropriate to spend time reflecting back on the last year and remembering all that the Lord in his mercy has allowed us to experience as a church.
Every year as I look back on the work of the Lord in our church, I start by thanking God for the transformed lives we’ve witnessed as a result of the ministry of Providence Church. One of the greatest blessings we have experienced a couple of times this past year was getting to baptize folks in our outdoor pavilion services. It was such a joy to hear stories of people who came to Jesus because someone loved them, invited them in, and shared the gospel with them. It’s been exciting to see folks from all walks of life, different ethnicities, and ages come to a saving knowledge of Christ and be baptized at Providence.
Our community groups have continued to thrive as we’ve grown as a church. We currently have fifty groups that are meeting throughout Collin County and we have wonderful group leaders and coaches leading the charge of helping our people live out the “one anothers” of Scripture in authentic community. Freedom Groups continue to thrive as we equip folks to embrace their identity in Christ and view their story in the midst of the ultimate story of redemption that Jesus is writing. Sixty folks have walked through these groups finding hope in the midst of suffering.
There is a lot of excitement surrounding the upcoming expansion of our building. This expansion will allow us to be able to reach more people in the surrounding Frisco area and in turn to be able to send more people out as we invest in future leaders. As exciting as this upcoming building is, I personally may be more excited about the structures and pathways of disciple-making that have been implemented in our church. We have added Huddle Groups as a strategy to help train people on how to study the word of God for themselves. We have twenty huddle groups that have been meeting and going through a book of the Bible together and learning to be self-feeders of Scripture. We have piloted an intensive theological training program we are calling The Providence Institute. We have a group of thirty-five men and women walking through this biweekly meeting that includes reading and discussing theology with an emphasis on application.
In taking the gospel beyond the walls of our church, we have sent out three Go Teams with a total of forty-two participants into our community for the sake of personal evangelism. Our folks are learning to live life on mission in their everyday life as they intentionally go in pairs into our streets to engage the world with the hope of Jesus Christ. We have sent four short-term trips internationally to assist ongoing work on the frontlines of missions in some of the spiritually darkest places in the world.
We had the incredible privilege of sending a beloved staff member, Arch Mcintosh, to become the new lead pastor of a church we planted in 2013—Christ Redeemer Church in McKinney. This is the heartbeat of Entrusted & Sent: we desire to grow as a congregation, to continue to reach more people with the gospel, and to be a sending church like the church in Antioch (Acts 13), willing to send out our very best for the sake of gospel advancement. We see a day when gifted leaders will desire to come to Providence to be equipped through the leadership pipelines that God is building in our church, and be part of starting numerous churches that share the DNA of Providence.
Looking back on all this, our hearts are full in giving the Lord glory for what he has done. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:15 that as grace extends to more and more people, it increases thanksgiving to the glory of God. This lines up with our mission statement: Providence Church exists to glorify God by making disciples through the gospel, in community, and on mission. God is glorified as disciples are made and nurtured through the gospel, strengthened in community, and sent out to make other disciples. This past year, we also went through a series based on 1 Thessalonians 1 on the characteristics of a mature disciple. Our desire is the same as Paul’s when he said that he longs to “present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28).
Our goal is to see mature disciples made because mature disciples continue to make more mature disciples. In this way, a disciple-making movement where all members of the church are using their gifts to see lives transformed through the gospel, will allow us as a church to continue growing in numbers and in health. And all of it for the glory of God!
My beloved brothers and sisters, this is a time to truly be thankful! In our thankfulness, we remember that all the blessings of life and ministry come from the Lord. Therefore, in all our efforts to live out our mission, we recognize and embrace that nothing happens apart from the Lord’s powerful hand. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1). May we earnestly pray to the Lord with thankful hearts to see his name continue to be magnified through Providence Church!