In this Midyear Update, we follow up on the main initiatives laid out at January's Annual Vision & Prayer (AVP) as well as provide an update on our finances. You can also watch or listen to RSF Executive Director Dale Gustafson's Midyear Update presentation below.
At AVP, we shared several ways moving forward that our community will measure success. One of them sums up this year’s focus: “Success is when people in our church have cultivated deep and intentional intimacy with God.” This vision guided our first three sermon series of the year:
The last three sermon series of this year will continue to deeply engage with this theme of cultivating intimacy with God:
In August and September, Everyday Mystic will explore living in union with Christ and cultivating a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute relationship with God.
From September to November, The Empowering Presence will concentrate on the Holy Spirit and how we live into the gifts and work of the Spirit as a community.
Community Groups are intricately woven into the life of our church. And we recognize that there is room for improvement in how we facilitate and lead them. So with a diverse group of staff and highly-gifted volunteers, we have been working on a renewed CG vision and structure. This new structure involves a shift from our Neighborhood Minister Model to a Support Team Model.
Our former model relied on Neighborhood Ministers exercising spiritual responsibility, caring for RSF members, and leading outreach in assigned geographical regions. Some of the challenges of this model were limited scalability for CG growth, lack of resilience due to staff availability and skills, complicated placement and care due to city transience, and unclear pathways of development for leaders.
The new Support Team Model, on the other hand, shifts from a geographical focus to a gifting emphasis. It is more scalable and resilient in that it releases and empowers leaders in their unique gifts while also creating clear roles and responsibilities for CG leadership. The model does this through staff-led, focused support teams, facilitated by volunteers gifted in specific areas. Support teams are now overseeing areas such as care, content, training, hospitality, and placement. If you’re interested in learning more about joining a support team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year, we have taken intentional steps to care for and equip our leadership community in new ways. For one week during the months of February, March, April, and May, we cancelled formal Community Group gatherings in order to give leaders of all kinds the opportunity to rest and to be poured into by our elders and staff at special Leaders Nights.
At these Leaders Nights, we explored the meaning of leadership and sought to answer leaders’ most pressing questions and concerns. And we ended each night by praying for our leaders — an opportunity they don’t often get, as they are usually the ones praying for others! We plan to continue these Leaders Nights into the fall and press into more challenging aspects of leadership in the church. (If you're not currently a CG Leader or Volunteer Team Lead but would like to participate in these nights, we encourage you to reach out to your leader.)
A Barna Group study indicates that nearly half (43%) of all Americans who accept Jesus as their Savior and commit to following Him do so before the age of 13 — and two out of three born-again Christians (64%) make their commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday! Therefore, we believe that a thriving youth ministry is an essential part of bringing renewal to our city. To pursue this vision, we are planning to invest in a staff Youth Minister. The job description and application for this role can be found here. Church, please pray with us that we find the right man or woman to champion this ministry.
Following our staff’s season of conflict in 2016-2017, we decided to pursue new organizational health through the hiring of an Executive Director. And in May of this year, we brought on Dale Gustafson in that role! Dale is from the Bay Area, has been in ministry for over 30 years, and most recently served as a pastor in Los Gatos. In his role as Executive Director, he oversees, develops, and brings alignment to our ministry departments. Additionally, Dale is providing leadership development that supports healthy, long-term sustainability and growth for our church. Please continue to pray for our staff as we grow into new ways of working and relating to one another.
Admittedly, we have always had too few elders for a church our size. That’s why this year, we were thrilled to install two new lay elders, Wilson Leung and Joe Tuson! Both of these men have served our church in a variety of capacities and proven themselves faithful and fit for the task of eldership. After a long process of discernment and prayer, they have now joined Dave Lomas, Tarik El-Ansary, and Kevin Cooke in guiding and guarding the mission, vision, life, and doctrine of Reality SF — all under the Lordship of Jesus, the Chief Shepherd of the Church. Please pray for these men, as they deepen in friendship and lead our community together.
We trust that the needs of our community will be met through the church. And over the years, we’ve been amazed at how you, church, have given so faithfully and sacrificially! Thank you. We believe that as our generosity grows, our capacity to pour out into our city and church will also grow. Here is a financial snapshot from January through July 2018.
Our current net income provides us with opportunities to prayerfully consider initiatives which God may call us to pursue in the years to come.
* Initiatives: funds spent on previous initiatives of Center for Faith & Work, Ministry Center Campaign, Year of Biblical Literacy, and Grafted, our church-planting incubator.
We are at a place in our church’s story where we recognize the need to invest more deeply into the personal development and care of every church member. While we are excited to see continued numerical growth, we are greatly burdened by the fact that many in our community feel uncared for or not developed spiritually.
We have a vision for a church that’s constantly growing in faith and in love for one other. Just as God meets us where we are and brings us to where He wants us to be, we should all constantly be growing and encouraging one another to do the same! To pursue this vision, we will soon begin hiring key pastoral staff with the proven ability to develop amazing, caring leaders — who in turn can care for and develop individuals. Our heart is to be a church where people can come to be cared for and developed in order to bring renewal to our city and world.