The Rocky Mountain Conference enters 2024 with much for which to be thankful, even in the face of some real challenges that face both our conference, the wider church and society.
Here’s some of what we are grateful for in 2023:
- Strong academy graduating classes totaling 52 new alumni from Campion and Mile High.
- Our dedicated educators working hard to implement NAD-supported Standards Based Learning under the direction of our education leadership team.
- Wonderful summer camp programs headed by our youth department leaders which provided not only great camping experiences for 343 young people, but also led to 40 baptisms.
- Churches and pastors investing in evangelism again now that COVID is behind us.
- 56 pastors leading 125 churches and companies, and 62 teachers leading 776 students in our 17 schools.
- Finally filling most of the pastoral openings around the conference, which was complicated in recent years by large spikes in housing costs, especially in our Front Range.
- An active conference departmental staff providing ministerial support, trust and wills services free for our constituents, health and wellness programs, communication workshops and assistance, women’s retreats, prayer retreats, support for our Spanish language work, assistance for local clerks and treasurers, IT support for our conference office and schools, religious liberty support, and Human Resources support.
- A training weekend for new church officers organized by Aurora First Church pastor, Jose Alarcon, to which all Denver area churches were invited. Our departmental staff and numerous area pastors were asked to participate in the training.
- 202 new church members joined our churches by mid-September 2023, and as of this writing our membership is 17,171, with more expected by the end of the year.
- For these and other blessings, we are extremely grateful for the Lord’s kindness to us!
We have our challenges, too.
Much discussed in recent times is the growing need for pastors and teachers as the number of ministerial and education students in our colleges has seriously dwindled. There are more openings in both ministry and education than we have available people to fill them. How will we respond?
On the horizon is another significant issue to be faced. With many church leaders and financial supporters growing older, will the younger generations be able to step in to provide the leadership and financial support the church will need to continue its work?
How can we best continue to support and build up our schools? How can we help more parents see the value of a Christian education?
How can we better covenant together to make our mission to the world around us our top priority in both our churches and schools?
Responding to the challenges takes all of us!
While we have many reasons for praise and thanksgiving, ours is a work that requires constant devotion until Jesus breaks through the clouds. There are things we can do together.
For example, what if each of us kept a watchful eye out for a young person or two in our church or school who shows early signs of a spiritual tenderness that God could one day tap to be a teacher or pastor? Why not take time to talk with them, and let them know they’d make a fine pastor or teacher one day?
If there are young adults and youth in your church, why not invite them to participate in church leadership?
What if each of us decided we want to make sure our churches matter to our communities? How might that impact how we spend our time, attention and resources?
And finally, I’d like to ask that we all commit to making Jesus the center of all we are and do. We might disagree about one thing or another, but if we can rally together around Jesus, 2024 will bring greater blessings and growth for His kingdom. Let’s work together to make 2024 the best year yet for the Lord’s kingdom in Rocky Mountain Conference.
By Mic Thurber, president, Rocky Mountain Conference