Last fall, our congregation entered into a management agreement with Shawn Walker and his company, Event Management Solutions (EMS), to run the day-to-day operations at our Fusion campus. Since we are about six months into that partnership, I would like to provide an update.
Using financial gifts contributed by members of our congregation, significant improvements have been made to the facility. We upgraded the HVAC capabilities in the gym and the enhanced air conditioning has made a dramatic difference, now allowing us to fully utilize the area during warm weather months. We also renovated the childcare area, purchased inflatables, added partitions that enhance both children’s church and private parties, and repaired lighting fixtures throughout the building. A new cleaning crew is maintaining the facility and the place looks and feels greatly improved.
New management and accounting procedures have been put into place, helping us operate more efficiently. While Shawn provides general oversight, he has assembled a great team of personnel that manage day-to-day operations. Brent Dillard is overseeing our sports leagues, Martin Lloyd is the fitness director, Jessi Pennington guides the afterschool and summer programs, Marcia Pineda coordinates the child watch area, and Makayla Hoskins oversees the front desk. We also have contracted with Joyce Morris, who now operates the snack bar.
Our biggest changes have come in the sports leagues we are offering. We have completed two youth flag football leagues (and had a 50% increase in participation from the fall to spring seasons), as well as youth soccer, youth basketball, and adult soccer leagues. We are gearing up for a huge summer with kids camps being held on weekdays, along with youth leagues for flag football, basketball, and soccer and adult leagues for soccer and basketball. Over the winter months, Fusion became the local “go to” spot for pickleball, a racquet sport popular with many of our northern guests. We also are hosting a steady stream of birthday parties in the Play Kingdom inflatables park.
As a result of this increased usage, we have decreased our net losses substantially and have a plan in place to “break even” by year’s end. Most importantly, we have many more persons utilizing the facility, giving us added opportunities to minister to our fellow residents and share the love of Christ with them. At the same time, Fusion continues to provide a second location for worship services and a valuable platform for youth ministry.
There are several ways in which you can help us reach our goals of making Fusion financially stable and maximizing its ministry potential. First and foremost, pray! Ask God to bring financial increase, to anoint our ministry efforts, and to enable us to reach people with the gospel.
Second, consider using the facility and its programs. Purchase a fitness membership for you or your family, schedule a birthday party for your child(ren), sign up for a sports league, or enroll your kids in the summer camp or afterschool program. Just 100 new members or 25 additional campers would help us reach financial viability. Besides, once involved, you will have the chance to interact with others and tell them about Christ and our church. You can find more information on all of our programs at www.playatfusion.com or stop by the front desk. And remember, as a Lynn Haven UMC member, you get 15% off all published prices.
Third, we need folks to be available at various times to minister to the clientele. These servant opportunities are as simple as welcoming families to the Play Kingdom area, praying with teams before games, or interacting with spectators at the sports leagues. This is the reason we have Fusion in the first place – to minister to the needs of the community and reach people for Christ. If you are willing to volunteer on a regular or periodic basis, please contact Fusion Campus Pastor Rudy Olivo (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I thank God for the wonderful gift He gave us in Fusion. Let’s use it to make disciples of Jesus and further His Kingdom. To God be the glory! In Christ,
Craig CarterLead Pastor, LHUMC
P. S. We are updating the advertising signs around the Fusion soccer field and basketball courts. If you or your employer are interested in securing a spot, please contact Brent Dillard for pricing information (850-248-3800; Brent@MyLHUMC.net).
The 2018 Major League Baseball season begins on March 29, the earliest opening day in history. That fact doesn’t mean much to most of you, but for me, it’s truly good news. Former major league baseball player, Al Gallagher, once said: “There are three things in my life which I really love: God, family, and baseball. The only problem is, once baseball season starts, I change the order around a bit.” While I hope that is not entirely correct, it is not far from the truth for me as well. I absolutely love the game of baseball. I love playing the game, watching the game, analyzing the game, talking about the game, reading about the game…I think you get the idea.
One of the reasons I love baseball so much is because it teaches a great deal about life itself. Baseball shows the value of individual contributions to a team’s success, the importance of a good work ethic (you play like you practice), and the inevitably of failure (even Hall of Fame hitters make an out 70% of the time). At the same time, baseball always affords its participants a chance to bounce back. At best, there’s another at bat coming. At worst, wait ‘til next year! (which is what we, Atlanta Braves fans, have been saying since 1996)
Some of you may recall a routine made famous by stand-up comedian, George Carlin, a number of years ago. In it, he compares the two most popular sports in America (no, not NASCAR and fishin’) – baseball and football. From his observations, you may get an idea why baseball is our national pastime and my sport of choice.
Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.
Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football is concerned with downs. What down is it? It’s the last down!
Baseball is concerned with ups. Who’s up? Oh, I’m up!
In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error…oops!
In football the specialist comes in to kick something.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.
Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, late hits, and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.
Football has the two minute warning.
Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.
Baseball has no time limit so we don’t know when the game is gonna end. We might even have extra innings.
And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:
In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use the shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.
In baseball the object is to get home! And to be safe! I hope I’ll be safe at home!
Baseball lover or not, we all like to be safe at home. Maybe that’s why I love Christ’s Church even more than the game of baseball. It gives me a safe place to call home where I can learn and live the Christian faith. That’s why I agree with the writer of Hebrews when he says, “Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. You should not stay away from church meetings…you should meet together and encourage each other.” (Hebrews 10:24-25a ICB) Let’s take these words to heart so the Lynn Haven UMC is a place where everyone can feel “safe at home.” I’ll see you there or in the park…the baseball park, that is! In Christ,
Many of us had our spiritual lives revitalized and refreshed during our recent Renewal services. Using an analogy commonly found in Scripture, the Holy Spirit lit a revival fire in and among us. The question now becomes, how do we keep the revival fire burning?
The founder of our denomination, John Wesley, had his own heart strangely warmed by God’s power and grace. That divine encounter brought about a spiritual awakening that birthed the people called Methodists. To keep the revival fire burning among early Methodists, Wesley suggested they avail themselves to what he called “the means of grace,” which are God-ordained ways in which we encounter the Lord’s power and presence and receive His goodness and grace. Last year, we studied them in a sermon series called, “Living Grace-Fully.”
We currently find ourselves in the season of Lent. It is a time of preparation for the celebration of Easter by reflecting on what it means to be a follower of Jesus. This special time of the year provides us a marvelous opportunity to renew our commitment to Christ and use the means of grace to keep the revival fire burning – both in our individual lives and in our life together as a church. Let me briefly describe what they entail.
Prayer: John Wesley claimed this was “the grand means of drawing near to God.” It is the primary way in which we develop our relationship with God since all relationships require good communication. Prayer should be practiced both publicly and privately and should express praise, thanksgiving, confession, and intercession. During Lent, find ways to pray in solitude and with other Christians.
Bible Study: Scripture provides “fuel for the fire” as the Word of God and the Spirit of God form a potent combination. On Sunday mornings during Lent, we are exploring the New Testament book of 1 John. I hope you are following along as we read the daily devotional, “This Is How We Know” by J.D. Walt. If you are not, consider reading through the New Testament book on your own or find an alternative Bible reading plan.
Worship: Something very significant happens when God’s people meet together. Using the fire analogy, it is like embers being stirred together into a blaze. Please make a commitment to be in worship every Sunday during Lent.
Fellowship: John Wesley was convinced this was the key to Christian growth, so group fellowship became an indispensable component of the Methodist movement. The revival fire was stoked as early Methodists got together weekly for Bible study, singing, testimony, and prayer. If you’re not already in a small group, Lent is a marvelous time to give it a “test drive” (contact Mindy Clemons, email@example.com, for more information).
Fasting: John Wesley encouraged early Methodists to observe at least one day of fasting each week. While largely neglected in our modern world, fasting (which is abstaining from food for spiritual purposes) serves to remind us of our relationship with and dependence on God. Would you consider setting apart one day or at least one meal each week to fast and seek the Lord?
I believe God is doing something very special in the life of our congregation. I am convinced the Lord will do an even greater work if we engage in these means of grace on a regular basis. So let’s fan into the flame the gift of God’s Holy Spirit and keep the revival fire burning – during Lent and beyond!
In Acts 3:19, Peter addresses a crowd in Jerusalem and proclaims, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” (NIV) I think we would all agree that, as a result of living in the world in which we do, we oftentimes find ourselves tired and worn out. So we all sense the need to be renewed and reinvigorated. Yet many of the remedies we employ don’t bring us the relief we long for and instead, leave us feeling even more exhausted. But God’s Word provides us the means by which we may find genuine refreshment. It involves turning from our normal, worldly ways and turning toward God. Thought of another way, it is taking time out from our daily lives in order to spend time with the Lord. When that happens, He washes away our sins and renews us with His Spirit. While this sort of activity should take place on a continual basis, we also need for it to happen occasionally in a more concentrated way. It is my hope and prayer that our Renewal conference scheduled for February 10-13 will do exactly that and provide us with a genuine “time of refreshing” from the Lord.
I am very pleased to have my friend and mentor, Rev. Mark Nysewander, coming to lead our time together. Mark is the teaching pastor of the Riverstone Church in suburban Atlanta and has served as a United Methodist pastor, evangelist, missionary, and church planter. He has authored four books and has had a tremendous influence on my life and ministry.
Renewal will begin with a Saturday morning seminar, 9 am – 12 noon, on what spiritual revival looks like and how we can prepare for the next great awakening. Sunday through Tuesday, we will have evening services starting at 6pm with teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing personal and church renewal. Our worship ministry team will lead the singing at each service and is putting together music that will direct our attention toward God in a variety of styles and formats. All Renewal events will take place in the Transmitter Sanctuary.
I’m especially pleased we are offering a children’s program during our Renewal services. While we are seeking the Lord through worship and teaching, the children will discover “The Gospel According to Dr. Seuss.” The fast-paced program will include Bible lessons and fun activities based on Dr. Seuss books, along with times of praise and worship. In addition, dinner will be available for purchase on Monday and Tuesday evenings for $5 per person ($20 maximum charge per family) to make it easier for families to attend. The nightly activities will always end by 7:30 pm.
Please join me in praying for Renewal as we turn to God for a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit. Each night, from 5:00-5:45 pm, we will gather in the Chapel to intercede for our services and seek the Lord’s blessing. Also, if you’d like to serve as an altar worker, either for our regular worship times or Renewal, come to one of the intercessory prayer training sessions that will be held immediately following our morning services on February 4.
I strongly encourage you to do whatever is necessary to free up your schedule so you can attend Renewal. Invite a friend or neighbor to come with you. May we experience a marvelous “time of refreshing” that can come only from the presence of the Lord in our midst. Praying to that end…