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Dear Mill City Family,

I am so proud of you. You should hear me talk about you all behind your back! I tell everyone about the risks that you are taking and the ways that you are stepping out in mission. I tell people about how you love people different than you and how you are embracing your neighbors no matter their background. I share the stories of people coming to know Jesus and beginning to heal from their wounds.

Here is my biggest hope for each of you: Continue to give all of yourselves to Jesus.

I know this “living sacrifice” idea sounds dangerous, but I promise you it will always be worth it. When we open our lives to God and surrender,  he will fill our lives with good things. At this point we know it’s true, it won’t always be easy.

But if you really want to know what God wants for you and have the opportunity to respond….

You have to give your life away. Give it all to Jesus. You can trust him.

As much as I brag about you, it’s important that we stay humble. It’s easy in the world we live in to compare ourselves to others. We want to try to validate ourselves by putting others down. Let’s not think of ourselves more highly than we ought, but instead let’s be good at what we are good at and let others do the same.

As a church, we bring specific things to this city and our brothers and sisters at other churches bring different gifts to the table. Let’s continue to be a church that brings unity by living out our strengths but also being quick to praise the strengths in others.

Affirm other communities, don’t tear them down.

Let’s care about them with a sincere love, even if we disagree in certain ways. Honor others above ourselves – This is what it means to cling to what is good.

When it comes to our church community, be devoted to one another in love.

Let’s love each other enough to work through conflict, not to ignore it.

Let’s love each other enough to stay in covenant even when our fight or flight impulse comes on.

No matter what we face together, when it comes to conflict or disagreement, Jesus can lead us though it if we trust him.

Stay passionate, keep the flame in your heart lit! It might actually lead to conflict at times. If that happens, bless each other, don’t curse. Try to listen, open up your life to each other and pray for each other. Remind each other that the hope we have in Jesus brings joy even when we go through trials.

When people are new to our community, look for people who seem left out.

We are all hosts offering hospitality at our church, not just the staff or leaders. Let’s make everyone who comes to be with our community feel like the most important person in the world! If others need something in our community, help them out if you can. Also, be willing to ask for help when you need it too!

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Never take revenge, it doesn’t make you feel better long term anyway. We could all use more shalom in our lives! We know our world needs it! You don’t have to forget what you believe or change your mind and think like everyone else. But being an independent thinker doesn’t mean you have to be a lone ranger.

Let’s stick together and not let controversies, even important ones, keep us from unity in diversity.

Let’s not become one of those sad tales of a community ripped apart. Pray that God would lead us through whatever we might face.

I wake up every day and think, “I can’t believe I get to pastor these amazing people!”

I really mean that. You all are amazing and if there is any reason that I hope our church will grow it is that I want more people to be in a family like this.

I want more people to know that the family of God is for them.

I want them to know that Jesus loves them so much and if they want to know a glimpse of what that feels like, they should have the chance to be loved by Mill City Church.

We get the chance to show people what it means to be loved like Jesus as we love our community in his name.

Let’s keep it up! Our love, hope and peace will echo in our city and the effect of that echo we may never know. But I promise it will make a difference because God is moving!

With Love,

Pastor Steph