Step up to the plate
If you aren't familiar with the idiom it literally means for a batter in baseball to move near home plate in preparation for striking the ball when it is pitched. Sadly for me, "stepping up to the plate" has been one embarrassing experience after another. When I was in 6th grade, I joined the baseball team. I was sporting a set of oversized bifocal lensed, gold, aviator style glasses that matched my buck teeth that I was "sure to grow into" soon. 
Side Note: I never did 

In my first game, I faced a behemoth man-child on the mound. The previous inning, “Edgar” had turned a base hit into a home run by sheer intimidation, forcing errors at every base. I was so scared I closed my eyes! Yet, I swung with all my might! “Strrrrike!” I remember hearing a mom’s voice shouting between pitches: "Strike him out Eeddgaaar!" "Keep 'em coming Eeddgaaar!""He doesn't have a chance Eeddgaaar!" She was right. I whiffed “Ouuut!” on first three pitches. 
Side-note: I still don't like the name Edgar. 

Fast-forward 24 years - I am asked to play on my church softball team. We made the playoffs, and wouldn't you know it... it's the bottom of the last inning, we are down by 2, the bases are loaded, there are 2 outs, and I'm up to bat. All we need is a base hit, and we win the game. I step up to the plate...and freeze. Paralyzed, I hold my stance while multiple pitches fly by and I find myself up against a full count. The final pitch comes, and you know what I do? I watch.. it... sail... by... "Strike 3! Yer Ouuut!" Game over. Turn out the lights. Pack it in. It’s over. 
Side-note: This was slow pitch, church league softball, and yet I stood still... 

Step Up To The Challenge 
Recent history shows the majority of evangelical churches are striking out standing still. SBC Life reports that "the number of churches that close each year is nearly three times the number that open, and no county in the nation reports a higher percentage of church attendance than ten years ago." In Luke 19, Jesus tells a parable about a man who buried his owner's bankroll rather than investing it, for fear of taking on risk. In the end, the owner removes his portfolio and rewards it to someone else. The Church should expect nothing less. I believe the future of Randall Church will require all of us to step up to the plate. This means we will have to shake off both failures & successes from the past, and be willing to swing at whatever God throws at us. 

Stepping Out
Thanks for reading the 2017-18 Annual Report. It gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect, on all the great work God has done over the previous year. We hope that while you take it all in, you have an incredible sense of integrity. Your church takes seriously the great responsibility we have with every single gifted dollar or invested hour that you have provided us, to advance God's Kingdom. We hope that you have an incredible sense of humility. Your church is doing all it can to partner with, and come alongside great teammates both locally and globally that will love their community like Jesus would. We hope that you will feel an overwhelming sense of generosity. We believe that God's heart is generous. John 3:16 says that: God so loved the world that He gave! We reflect that spirit of giving in our lives when we steward prioritized lives for His glory! Join me. You matter. You belong. You can make a difference. 
Side Note: I still believe the best is yet to come!