New Blended Worship Service begins this Sunday!

 This summer our Crossfire Youth Choir went on choir tour to Nashville, TN, with a stop at the Grand Ole Opry. 

This summer our Crossfire Youth Choir went on choir tour to Nashville, TN, with a stop at the Grand Ole Opry. 

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I’m beyond excited to get things rolling again after a short summer break from Crossfire and Chancel Choir rehearsals. I’m excited to see the new 6th graders as they come to youth choir for the first time, returning choir members and the new choir members about to join.  

In general, most people seem to have strong opinions on music in worship. Some only like to hear and sing the songs they grew up with, while others want something new and different that they would hear on their favorite Christian radio station. Some people could care less what kind of music there is, they come to hear Pastor Matt’s message and find community. For some, music is everything and the style of music will determine which worship service they will attend. I enjoy most styles of music and am moved by all types of worship music. We are all different, thank goodness. Otherwise, life would tend to be boring.   

Keeping in mind our goal of reaching new and younger families per our Healthy Church Initiative prescription, starting THIS SUNDAY, the 8:30 service will have a different feel than before. The youth will have an active role in worship as we sing a few more modern praise songs that they will lead, as well as the traditional songs we all love. For the first time (or at least since I’ve been worshiping here since 2006), FUMC Plano will offer three distinctive worship services; 8:30 Blended service with the Crossfire Youth Choir, 9:45 Contemporary service with the Praise Team, and 11:00 Traditional service with the Chancel Choir. I’m super excited with this change becasue I believe it will speak to the youth and get them more involved in worship. When youth want to come to worship, their families will follow. Hope to see you in worship!

Robin Kaufman Anderson
Director of Worship Arts

A Change for Our Children 

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Many have heard the news that Allison Hicks, our Minister with Children and Families, is going back to school. What most have not heard is that there will be no drop-off as Mardi Bowen will be stepping back into that role.
 
Mardi served this church well in that position from 2009-2015.  When she heard of Allison's decision to go back to college, Mardi felt the call of God upon her heart once again. She approached me asking if applying for the position was a possibility. Things moved quickly after that as our staff and Staff Parish Relations Committee interviewed Mardi and offered her the position of Minister with Children and Families. Through Allison's accomplishments and Mardi's continued leadership, we are confident our children and their discipleship will be in excellent hands. Mardi begins her tenure on Monday, Aug. 27. Our children could not be more fortunate for the witness of these two strong and faithful women.
 
Be sure to be present in worship on Sunday, Aug. 26, as we recognize Allison for her three years of service. Help us in thanking, celebrating and praying for her as she starts this new chapter in her life.
 
Blessed,

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Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor
 

Shopping for Church and School Success

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My shoulders sagged the week of July 4th, not because of the holiday, but because school supplies were already in the seasonal aisles of the stores. Summer had only officially begun two weeks earlier, June 21. I hadn't even been in a pool or lake yet and already, summer was being pushed out the door at 50% off to make room for the fall investment that people were already making for their kids. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised; for the shoppers it's about making an investment in a top priority regardless of season. 

Already, we are giving serious thought about ministry for our children, small and large in 2019.  That planning turns on the money we spend now for that seemingly distant future.  Right now, as Finance Chair Rick Billings reported, we are doing extraordinarily well in the Our Home Campaign but lagging in our giving for the baseline ministry success we all want to see continue growing.  

  • Strong staff leadership means competitive compensation and merit raises for jobs well done.  
  • Expanded outreach to more people means expanded costs in supplies, utilities and maintenance.
  • Ramped up communications and advertising means more visible investment.

We are doing an excellent job at cost controlling. Our new AC units are helping with those savings. But the difference-making in our planning for 2019 is our baseline "tithes (10%), gifts and offerings" that we give now, even though summer is not even a month and a half old. 

Thank you for shopping and investing now for your church's next season. You can give right now HERE or text "FUMCPLANO" and the amount to 73256.


Breathe peace,

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Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor
 

Youth Days of Summer

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Summer was always my favorite time of the year when I was in youth. Aside from being out of school and being less busy, I loved the relationships that were formed during the summer. Those three months were always jammed packed with mission trips, lock-ins, fun outings, snocones, swim parties, sleepovers, and much more. All of these things brought me closer to the friends I already had and created new friendships. I will forever be thankful for those fun summer days and nights.

This summer was no different. I had the privilege of taking 34 middle school students to Katy, TX, where they worked on the homes that were affected by the flood last August. The opportunity to meet the homeowners is always the best part, as they share there stories with the kids and sometimes even work along side them!

I also got to take 22 high school students to Sinton, TX, (near Corpus Christi) where we worked on homes in surrounding areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Our work there sometimes felt tedious and small but in the words of our construction manager, Jack Maverick, “We are helping to rebuild not only these families homes, but also rebuild their faith.” 

That’s the incredible work of God that we got to be a part of in these two weeks. 

I want to thank all of the youth that gave a week of their summer to serve others, the awesome adult chaperones that worked alongside these youth and the whole congregation of FUMC Plano for your prayers and your gifts that make our youth mission trips possible. If you get a chance to talk to some of the youth and adults that went on either of these trips, I promise you will not be disappointed with their stories or how they saw God at work! 

CJ Rice
Minister with Youth & Families
 

Vision: a Healthy Church Initiative

"... write a vision, and make it plain ..."  Habakkuk 2:2

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This was the word from God to Israel when they had become unfocused in their life and work together as God's chosen people. It happens in cycles to organizations — the need to reassess and refocus to again, as James Covey said, "keep the main thing the main thing."

On Sundays from Aug. 19-Sept. 23, I will preach a six-week series entitled, "Vision: a Healthy Church Initiative." In it, I will unpack our church's new Vision Statement that very few know: "Connecting God and grace to self and community." When I briefed our church's leadership team on my goals with this series, Finance Chair Rick Billings  said, "That is really helpful; I hope you will unpack that for the whole church."

To this end, I am writing an accompanying small group curriculum with each week's sermon to promote and encourage discussion. I am asking every small group to use this study during this six-week series — UMW Circles, Emmaus Reunion groups, Sunday School classes, prayer groups.  In this way, we will become of one mind and understanding of a God-given vision that has bubbled up from our Healthy Church Initiative work together over that last 18 months. With a singular vision, we will be able to see more clearly where our focus of resources needs to be. 

I am excited to make our work with HCI more visible again ... for ALL to see.  

Thanks be to God!

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Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor
 

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Sharing the Load

" ... your surplus can fill their deficit so that in future their surplus can fill your deficit."  
- Paul, 2 Corinthians 8:14

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Last night some 50-75 people from families and all walks of life gathered at our church for dinner and age-grouped counseling sessions afterward. Why? In most cases a parent has died unexpectedly and the children, youth and remaining adult are striving to cope in the aftermath. That is why the organization is called Journey of Hope. It is the brainchild in part of our own Russ and Sandra Aikins.  

Last month Journey of Hope asked if we would forgive for the remainder of the year the $400/month they pay for use of our facility – a total of $2400. We said yes. Our ability to absorb a $2400 loss of income is greater than a small 501(c)3's ability to come up with the revenue, especially during the summer. My word to Lara Korba, the Executive Director of JOH, was that I had every confidence that our congregation would make up the loss of income, even during the summer months.  

I am challenging you as a church to do just that, and more. 

For the first six months of 2018, we are running nearly $100,000 behind in projected revenue. Analysis shows that those who submitted Estimate of Giving cards last fall are close to tracking their estimates. We are falling short on the usually stronger general giving from those without an Estimate of Giving. The shortfall is not gaping with a few in this category but consistently short among many.

The good news is that in previous years we catch up at the end of summer. If we collectively  do some catching up with our historically good intentions this summer, we will be fine going into the fall. So as Paul appealed to the Corinthians, I appeal to you now: let us finish the good work we have begun financially so that ALL of the children and families we serve will find in us the hope that God promises. You can text “FUMCPLANO” and your giving amount to 73256, go online with your credit card HERE, or send in an old fashioned check, but do it now; it is time.

See you on the journey to hope this Sunday,

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Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor
 

You Were There

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Because we are bound together by our baptism, and because we are in covenant together with our prayers, presents, gifts, service, and witness ...

... when our college students rebuilt a house in Victoria, TX,
You were there.

... when our middle high youth cleaned up a house post-hurricane this summer,
You were there.

... when 150 adults and youth ministered to over 365 children during vacation bible school,
You were there.

... when Bill Downs stuffs and mails boxes of your donations to our troops,
You were there.

... when I stood graveside with Monica and Greg Peters during the funeral for her father tragically killed in Sterling City, TX,
You were there.

Thank you for being there.

Held with you in Christ,

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Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor
 

"What Happened to HCI?"

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We have heard that question several times since the announcement of the Healthy Church Initiative (HCI) prescriptions in January. Some folks have been under the impression that little has happened to fulfill our prescriptions. However, many small groups and committees have been meeting over the last several months and many ideas have been set in motion. We are publishing those updates weekly in our e-newsletter and worship bulletin. You can learn more on our HCI web page HERE.

Greater clarity will also come as we worship and study together during a six-week series beginning August 19, entitled Connecting God and Grace to Self and Community. This is FUMC Plano's new Vision Statement that we discerned and voted upon in the spring. For six weeks we will unpack this statement in sermons and small group curriculum that I hope every small group and Sunday School class will use. By the end of September, we will have a clearer understanding of what our Vision Statement means, who we believe God is calling us to be, and what we believe God is calling us to do in our mission field for the sake of "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world (our United Methodist Church's mission statement)."

I hope you will make it a priority to be part of our Vision Series in August. In the meantime, check out our summer series Summer Blockbuster: God at the Movies HERE. It should be both fun and compelling!

Blessings in your travels and thank you for your steady gifts, prayers, service and witness this summer.

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Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor
 

What is the SPRC?

BY MIKE BOWEN, SPRC CHAIR

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Hello again FUMC Plano from the SPRC. 

This is our second installment of communications between the SPRC and the congregation.  When we last gathered on Sunday morning to be available for discussion and questions, there was one question that kept being asked. That question was,”What does SPRC stand for,  and what is the responsibility of the SPRC?”

The answer to the first part is easy.  SPRC stands for Staff/Pastor-Parish Relations Committee. Staff/Pastor is the clergy and staff at our church, which includes all staff and not just ordained, appointed ministers. Parish is all of you, the congregation. The key to the responsibility of the committee is the word Relations. Regardless of the size of the congregation, the SPRC focuses on a strong relationship between the staff and the congregation, and between the congregation and the district superintendent. The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (¶258.2g) lists specific tasks for the SPRC and goes into more responsibilities for the SPRC. 

We volunteer on SPRC in an effort to help the staff and congregation grow to our full potential in Christ. We pray for direction and discernment, and along with the staff work to move our church in the plan God has for FUMC Plano. Sometimes this is a difficult task for SPRC when having to make difficult decisions in an effort to discern God’s plan. Sometimes the job is easy and fulfilling when things are going well. Like anything we do in our lives there are ups and downs. The most important thing to remember is that we are all in love with Christ and have the same spiritual goal which is to have a closer stronger relationship with our loving God.

Being on staff at a church, any church, can be a thankless job. There are so many expectations from the congregation and so many people want so many things. Many times these things are pulling our staff members in many different directions. In reality, our staff is constantly working to stay within God’s plan and are everyday giving themselves up to God.  Let’s show our appreciation to staff this Sunday! I am declaring this Sunday Staff Appreciation Sunday! Find a staff member this Sunday (or any time this week) and tell them how much you appreciate them and say a prayer for them. Remember, we are all on the same team!

I appreciate you all!

Mike Bowen

Listen Up, Men!

Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart. 
1 Samuel 16:7 CEB

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It seems only fair. Two weeks ago I preached to our children and youth about God's call upon their lives. On Father's Day I will preach to the men of our church, not because I know anything but because God does. In this text for Sunday, the prophet Samuel, the king Saul and the father Jesse all think they know what makes for a man and a leader. God confounds them all.

Historically we construct images and archetypes of "real men" around our own preferences and ideals. Over the centuries, they have ranged from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Pope Pius to Pope Francis, from Teddy Roosevelt to Franklin D. Roosevelt, from George Washington to Denzel Washington, from John Wayne to Kenny "Blues Boss" Wayne, from Oscar Romero to Anthony Romero.  

What is your idea of the ideal man? How does it compare to historical ideas? To others' ideas? To celebrity? To your core values?  

This Sunday I will explore what turns out to be a pretty consistent biblical idea of a best man.  

See you in the manly place Sunday,

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Matt Gaston
Lead Pastor

P.S.  What's ahead on Sundays:
July 8-August 12: God at the Movies
August 19-September 23: Healthy Church Initiative Moving Ahead