In the coming weeks, we will say goodbye to one of my good friends, and certainly one of our greatest resources as a church over the last five years. On July 18th, we will be saying goodbye to Pastor Mario, Denise, Carly, and Josh as Mario moves on to the next chapter in his life. Ok that sounds kinda morbid like he died… but actually he's just moving to Louisville, KY.

For many years, I've often been the person in meetings making presentations, or speaking up in open forums advocating for change. However, this time around I very much find myself longing for things to stay the same. And while selfishly, I've always wanted them to stick around, I know that their leaving is part of God's plan for their life.
God has always done the same thing; whether it's Abraham's obedience in leaving Ur, it's Paul's obedience in going to Asia… God is constantly calling many of us to go. This is not to say that staying somewhere is disobedience to God – in fact, staying somewhere is a calling itself and sometimes even more difficult to obey! But the truth is, staying or going are decisions mature men and women of faith need to deal with at periods of transition. By ignoring the tugging at our hearts or the wrestling we need to do with the Lord, we are simply putting our heads in the sand and not living out the full lives that Jesus died to give us, lives worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1).

So, even as I say goodbye to my friend, my heart is filled with more joy and excitement than sadness. I have no claim on his life, on his future any more than I do on any of your lives. We all belong to the Lord and our tomorrows are His.

That said, I do want us to celebrate the last five years of ministry impact of Pastor Mario and Denise and send them out really, really well. Following the worship gathering on July 18th, we will have a reception to follow in the dining hall, where we have a few exciting things planned. If you have questions about how to get involved, please reach out to the office, or Helen Monegro who I have asked to keep momentum moving forward in the planning of this celebration.

Also, we do want all of you to plan for this one thing in advance. We will have a "giving tree" set up as part of the reception. Mario and Denise are downsizing into an apartment, so they do not have the space to accommodate a large number gifts and mementos. But what they will always have room for is gift cards and cash :-)

Please be very generous in sending our friends off on their way well!

- Pastor Milo
____________________________________

We wanted to give you a quick update on where things stand with our Family Pastor Search.  As we mentioned a few weeks back, we are steadily working towards finding a Family Pastor who leads himself well, leads his family well, leads others well, and leads with others well, in regards to shepherding our children and youth here at Randall Church. We have had our job posting available not only on our own church website, but through the Southern Baptist Convention's job search website, as well as active postings at various seminaries. 

There has been a steady flow of names coming in, but fortunately not at a pace would be overwhelming to our search team consisting of Ken Samland, Veronica Smith, Tim Graffam, and Tim Stewart. This, among many other things, has been a huge answer to prayer. While the processing only 10-15 resumes may not seem like a lot, most of the applicants have been well worth our time and consideration.  As is the tagline of one of those job-search agencies on the radio says, "We are not looking for more hay… but looking for a needle in the haystack."

After taking a first look over the resumes, there were 5 candidates that deemed to merit a closer look… and thats exactly what our team has been doing. Each of these 5 candidates was asked to go through three rounds of questioning regarding their convictions, their character, and their competency. This week we were able to notify all those who applied, that while we will hold on to each of their resumes, all but a small number of 2-3 finalists would not be invited back to the next round of interviews. 

Now, it is the expectation of the pastors and elders to fly into high gear, doing a deep dive on this final group, pouring back over their resumes, taking another look at their answers to previous questions, assessing their fit and chemistry with our leadership and congregation to ultimately arrive on the one whom will lead the next generation of young people in this church, both my own children and yours, to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. 

What can you do for us?  Join us as we pray for discernment in this process. We are confident that God is at work, and we want His will to be front and center as we move forward as a congregation.  Please pray for the right candidate to emerge in this process and for our team to discern what God intends for Randall Church.  We are working now as a team on how to best conduct our individual part of the final interview process, including how to get the fullest picture of any candidate's vision for seeing the next generation on fire for Christ!

We can make our plans, but may the Lord order our steps!

- Pastor Milo
________________________________

Have you ever wondered why the name for the score of zero in tennis is called love? I was reading about it in an article written by J Michael Shannon. No one knows for sure, but one of the best theories suggests it is an English corruption of the French word for egg—a word that sounds a lot like love. A zero resembles an egg, so zero was called an egg. Today, we sometimes refer to zero as a goose egg. In life, however, love is never a zero. In fact, if you read the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13, we are zeros if we don't have it. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I had a phone conversation yesterday with Ryan S. Kozey, who walked me through the results of our recent church survey on Spiritual Formation and Missional Activity. We covered a lot of things, and he gave us a number of action steps, but the phrase that will stick with me the most is when he said: "Your first priority here, is to move your people from zero... to one." From zero to one. What did he mean by that?

Well friends, be encouraged. Because far and wide, the church survey indicated multiple layers of spiritual health and an individual commitment to Jesus Christ. Our congregation reads their Bible 5 days a week, attends church at least 3 times a month, and invites others into their homes at least once a month. Our congregation seeks active involvement in various Bible study groups, and numerous service projects to the extent that we more than double the national average in these categories.  Our people feel cared and loved for by the church leadership, are challenged by the preaching and teaching, and are drawn to a closer to relationship with God by the music and worship ministry.

Where we have to grow, is where we need to move from zero; to one. In the last 12 months, there were a fair number of people in our congregation that intentionally built a personal relationship with someone far from Christ. In the last 12 months however, (other than one individual who shared their faith 40 times) most of you marked "zero," as the number of times you personally shared the Gospel message / your Grace Story of Jesus Christ.   

Here's the thing. Nearly half of the people who marked "one" or more as the number of times they shared the Gospel, also marked "one" as the number of times they personally saw someone come to faith in Jesus. Isn't that wonderful? The word of Christ will not come back void! When we share God's love with others, love is never a zero. Love never fails. 

God, would you do something incredible in our church. God, may you take the spiritually healthy roots here, and drive them down even deeper. God would you take our church from Zero... To One. Praise be to God!

- Pastor Milo


___________________



I ordered lunch a few minutes ago and sat at my table to jot down my thoughts. Like many of you, there has been a lot for me and our team to consider over the last few days. Upon entrance to the restaurant, I was asked to wear a mask, but now that I’m seated and consuming my meal, my mask is on the table beside me. 


Yesterday I had a cup of coffee in another local establishment, and witnessed a commotion with the cashier and a guest. The guest refused to wear a mask upon entry, because of the latest Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations regarding vaccinated individuals. The person behind the counter was most likely a high school student, and he struggled to handle the situation as it escalated before him. Within seconds, the other customers waiting in line divided into two camps; those agreeing with the unmasked patron, and those in support of the ill-equipped youngster simply trying to do his job. 


Upon the CDC’s recommendation(s), the State of NY issued its own guidelines this week regarding Covid-19 vaccinations. These guidelines created two classifications of people; two different sets of rules to abide by. How does that mixed messaging translate to local businesses? More importantly, how do we make sure that this doesn’t negatively effect the united gathering of the local church?


First, we must acknowledge that we are Biblically to be a people of unity, bound together by a God-given desire to lift up a Christ-like banner of love in all situations. We are God’s people. We are the Church. We are to honor and respect one another, and there is to be not even a hint of division among us. Behavior like what I witnessed in the coffee shop has no place in the local Church. We are one. We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord. 


As a church, we want to make decisions that are sensitive, responsible, and forward-moving in hope. We recognize that the new guidance provided to us differentiates between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. We see vaccination as a Christian liberty issue, with neither choice being an issue of spiritual maturity or of sin. What we must realize though is that we have a responsibility to love one another well and to look out for one another. As Philippians 2:3 tells us: “...in humility, value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”


When attending our worship service this weekend, May 23rd, you will notice that we have relaxed our mask mandates to match the guidelines given to us. As a matter of personal conscience, we would ask that you exercise a prayerful balance of personal freedom and love for your fellow man. In all things, we will be a unified community who love and respect each other. 


If you have family in our weekly programming, you should know that there is very little guidance given regarding the local church for young people. We have been, and will continue to monitor closely the directions given for children and youth in public schools, as well as instructions given to summer camps. In that light, we are making no changes at the present time to our protocols for children and youth, or for the adult volunteers working with our children and youth. 


Finally, if you and I bump into each other this Sunday, you will find that I will be wearing a mask. I meet and interact with a lot of people every week. If I’m vaccinated, you will know that I’ll be doing this, because I want to show love and kindness toward each and every person I meet. If I’m not vaccinated, you will also know that I’ll be doing this because I want to show love and kindness to each and every person I meet. Maybe you’ll never know which :-)


I love you all, and I can’t wait to be with you this weekend. Isn’t it good to be together? We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord.


Grace and Peace be with you all!

Pastor Milo



______________________________________




The role of Family Pastor / Minister is somewhat new in the church. Titles can be confusing, and because the title alone is not common enough, like Executive Pastor for instance, we have to clearly define what is meant by that title. I'm referring to a staff person who is responsible for leading a team of people (some stipend, but mostly volunteer) that oversee children and youth ministries, from birth through high school and even the first year(s) of college. While the role is somewhat new, it is rapidly becoming more recognized, as seminaries create education tracks for those who desire a holistic approach to family ministry. 

At Randall, we are committed to equipping each believer for significant ministry by discovering their God-given gifts, talents and experiences. Family ministry recognizes that parents are uniquely responsible for the spiritual guidance of their children, regardless of where they may be on their own faith journey. The church's role is to equip parents with practical tools that they can use at home to lead their children in that effort. 

As we are making steps towards a new hire, we are also making internal adjustments to our structure in order make some of these changes possible. Recently, our children's director, Stephanie Bochynski, and I were talking through the ministry needs of our kids and some of the ways we can be more intentional about meeting with parents. How can we better help parent's be the primary disciple makers in their home that they were meant to be, while still navigating the complexities of life together?

As a result of much thought and prayer, Stephanie let me know that she would like to step aside as a paid employee at Randall Church in order to create more financial margin to bring on a Family Pastor in a full-time capacity. She will continue to be a leader in the classroom, as well as a champion for all thing children's ministry related, but when the time comes, much of the "big picture" thinking will be the priority of this new hire.  

In one sense, all pastors are to be family pastors. God tells us that a pastor is to "manage his own household well seeing that his children obey him with proper respect" (1 Timothy 3:4). Godliness is lived out in the home. But when it comes to a paid staff position, a Family Pastor / Minister will, in the spirit of Ephesians 4:12, be very intentional to equip the flock to live the gospel out in their homes and in their interactions throughout the week. 

This happens on an individual level not only when the Family Pastor / Minister gives oversight to the equipping of children and youth to love God at their weekly meetings, but also in equipping adults to lead the family to glorify God the other six days of the week.

Please be in prayer with us as we seek God's candidate for leading the family ministry at Randall Church. If you know someone who fits this description, or would like to be considered yourself, please submit an application through the job posting listed at our website at jobs.RandallChurch.org  

This is a season of transition for our church. Change is hard. I look forward with great expectancy for what God has in store for his people on the other side! Let us be vigilant! Let us be faithful. To God be the Glory!

-Pastor Milo

______________________________________________