Reflecting on our first year together as an Elder Board, we wanted to take a look back at all God did in and through our church in the past twelve months. Join us in taking a quick look back.
Overall, we witnessed baptisms every weekend in 2019. We also experienced unity among our church leadership including the Church Leadership Team, our Campus Pastors, and the Elders. And we rejoice that throughout the many, significant changes of the past year, our church family and staff remained faithful to the Lord.
Now let’s look at a few of the highlights of the year month-by-month.
In May, we began serving as your new elder board. We knew there were many challenges in front of us as a church, but we knew the Lord was able to lead Harvest Bible Chapel through our gifts and through our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). We asked for your grace and understanding as we dug into the challenges alongside our pastors and staff as we charted a new path forward.
June brought two big all-church events. On June 5–7, 574 men attended Palooza Unplugged at Camp Harvest. We thank the Lord for the amazing work He did in the hearts and lives of our men. We also held our twelfth year of High Five on five of our campuses. 1,876 campers attended and 1,377 volunteers served during these exciting weeks of summer day camp that continued to be all about Jesus. June also marked the beginning of Pastor Dave Stone teaching twice a month on the weekends as well as his generous shepherding of both our church family and staff.
July featured four fun-filled, life-changing weeks at Camp Harvest for our junior high and high school students in Harvest Students. 616 campers attended and 172 volunteers served. We also launched a new Finance Committee comprised of congregants with financial expertise, Elders, and staff. We also called the church to pray for favor with our lenders.
Our Church Leadership Team, Campus Pastors, and Elders spent two days away on a retreat to pray, spend time together in God’s Word, and discuss the future leadership structure of our church in August. We also announced plans to plant the Niles Campus as an independent church starting in September 2019.
Those fruitful days of unity on the leadership retreat produced a leadership restructure that we unfolded to the church family on September 14–15 as we launched the new teaching series through the book of Mark entitled Just Jesus. We explained that the new leadership structure would include a three-person team of Senior Leaders. The first of these leaders would be Greg Bradshaw serving as Lead Ministry Pastor. This was followed in January 2020 by the addition of Roger McCoy as our Lead Operations Director. And our future Lead Teaching Pastor. We also communicated that our teaching team would include Pastor Dave Stone speaking twice each month as well as our own pastors Tommy Creutz, Eddie Hoagland, and Ed Ollie along with our campus pastors preaching about once every six weeks.
September also included the recording of Vertical Worship’s March 2020 release, Grace is on Our Side.
Additionally, in September, God answered the prayers we started praying in July and our lender released the temporary hold on the Spring 2019 sale of the remaining broadcast rights for $4.1 million, allowing the funds to be used for future monthly mortgage payments.
In October, we reported some great news from our lenders and banks as well as some substantial cost-saving measures our staff, Elders, and Finance Committee put into place.
God surprised us by providing A Night with Tim Tebow featuring Vertical Worship in November through his generosity combined with the relationship between Tim and Dave Stone as well as Greg Bradshaw. Nearly 3000 people attended and many made first-time and rededication decisions for Jesus Christ.
In December we celebrated what God did through the song, Yes, I Will, by Vertical Worship which was one of the top 10 songs on K-LOVE radio in 2019.
A new year brought new blessings. In January, we welcomed Roger McCoy on staff as the Lead Operations Director and promoted Jon Bell to Campus Pastor of the Aurora Campus after previously serving as the Student Ministry Pastor at that location.
We also started the year by calling the church to a season of prayer and repentance. Following a three-week teaching series entitled, If/Then, based on 2 Chronicles 7:14, we held a Solemn Assembly on each campus on January 23. The purpose of these gatherings was to do exactly what the text says: to humble ourselves, pray, seek the Lord, and turn from our sin. We wanted to reflect on the application of this Scripture both as a church body and in our own personal lives. We thank the Lord for how He used this season in our church and our lives.
February marked the completion of the Niles Campus becoming CityLine Bible Church. They are now an autonomous church apart from Harvest Bible Chapel. We thank God for the good work He continues to do there for His glory. More than 500 of our women from across all six campuses celebrated a life-changing, unifying, Spirit-led women’s retreat in Delevan, Wisconsin, on the last weekend of the month.
Vertical Worship planned an album release concert on March 12 which the beginning of our “shelter-in-place” orders came out from Governor Pritzker. But, by God’s grace, the album, Grace is on Our Side, released on March 13 and has already passed all download projections. More than 3,000,000 in the first four weeks! As the official COVID-19 quarantine began, we launched our first online-only services on March 14–15 after less than 48 hours notice.
We prepared our hearts for Good Friday and Easter through four online devotionals followed by Communion at Home led by Pastor Greg Bradshaw on April 9. Then, we remembered the Lord on Good Friday, April 10, with four powerful, reflective online services. Those images, music, and message set the stage for us to celebrate the resurrection on April 11–12 during our weekend services online. We thank God for the team He assembled to make these services memorable and used to bring 136 people to faith in Jesus Christ during the Good Friday and Easter services.
This past weekend, we officially launched the search for our new Lead Teaching Pastor. Watch the video created for candidates interested in this role. We invite you to join us as we pray for God’s best man for the good of our church and His glory.
We look forward with excitement and anticipation as we invite God to do His work through this church for our good and His glory. Thank you for your continued partnership to glorify God through the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
This continues to be our prayer as we lead our church by the power of the Holy Spirit. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
—The Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel