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10 Days and Counting for 144

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We’re down to 10 days and counting until the first gathering of 144! Are you ready to grow in your discipleship and leadership? Are you one of the 144? We will launch 144 in the Family Life Center on February 24th at 6pm and continue for 12 weeks. We will have 144 places prepared and more if needed!

I’d like to remind everyone that 144 is a theoretical number and more or less people can participate. We welcome all who want to grow in their discipleship of Jesus Christ. Each group will consist of a team leader and co-team leader. The size of each group will be twelve persons which will allow everyone to share the journey together.

Team leaders will decide the day, time of week, and location of meetings. Location can be anywhere the group prefers. They can be on church campus, private homes, or any place. We already have a Niceville location and other geographically convenient groups can be added as needed.

During these meetings, we will share God sightings and draw from the teachings of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7). We will read Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute, Turn the Ship Around by Dave Marquet, and The Great Omission by Dallas Willard. We will build a covenant that speaks to what will make our teams successful. We will share our dreams and how we sense God leads us to use our gifts through a MAP exercise. A MAP stands for Ministry Action Plan. Each week will offer a variety of teaching and sharing to learn, love, and lead together.

Are you one of the 144? My reason for writing about this is encourage you to participate. This will be our Lenten focus as a church and it will extend to Pentecost. I am as excited about the launch of 144 as anything else we have done in recent years at Shalimar! Come and be a part of this brand new discipleship making system which will be unique to our church! Our spirits will be inspired each week with Ephesians 3:20 “God is able to do immeasurably more than we think or imagine!” This will be our key focus verse for 12 weeks!

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144 is Coming Soon

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In just a little over two weeks, we will have a gathering of 144 persons seeking to grow as disciples. The number 144 is symbolic. However, more or less can participate. Our gathering will begin February 24 at 6 pm in the Family Life Center. For week one, we will worship then assemble into small groups.

The 144 groups have a shorter time table than the 12x12 groups but will still focus on discipleship and leadership. Each team of twelve will have a leader and co-leader. The 12 teams will decide a weekly meeting time and location. Around week six and twelve, all of the 144 will meet back together.

What will a regular meeting of 144 look like?

  • We will have weekly God sightings to discuss how we’ve seen God’s glory during that time.
  • We will study the Sermon on the Mount. Our discipleship focus will be the Gospel of Matthew chapters 5-7.
  •  The only cost will be for the books or kindle versions you purchase. We will learn together from three different books. Turn the Ship Around by David Marquet, Anatomy of Peace by the Abinger Institute, and The Great Omission by Dallas Willard.We will encourage each other to follow the dream
  • God has placed in our hearts and learn about MAPS (Ministry Action Plans).
  •  We will draft a covenant for our group and each team will pen their own covenant.
  • We will hold one another accountable in ways that individuals want to choose. It is totally up to you what you want others to help you with.We will pray for one another during the 12 w
  • eek journey.

We are looking for 144 in our congregation ready to grow in their discipleship together during this season of Lent and move us to Pentecost Sunday!


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State of the Church 2020 Look Through the Windshield and Not the Rear View Mirror

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Any reports of the demise of Shalimar United Methodist Church are greatly exaggerated and certainly premature. Our church is sixty-eight years old with deep roots and is not easily swayed by the winds of uncertainty. In the face of challenge and adversity last year, we remained resilient and faithful. Thank you for your faithfulness. As a result of that, we have grown in our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

2019 was not an easy year for SUMC. There were differences of opinion and we are learning from them. We seek to learn (but not dwell) by looking forward through the windshield and not the rear view mirror. In fact, our February sermon series is on forgiveness. We will ask our congregation to receive and extend forgiveness. We will focus on our need for forgiveness, forgiving family members, forgiving others, and forgiveness in in our church family. WARNING! You may want to sit this sermon series out if you do not plan to ask for or extend forgiveness! Imagine our church environment being a place filled with people that live and offer forgiveness!

This year, two goals have surfaced: to have more effective COMMUNICATION and more intentional EVANGELISM. We continue to learn from congregational feedback that we need to COMMUNICATE more within and beyond by advertising to our community. Seeking effective communication and promoting the church are two of our main objectives this year. We will announce one significant change this Sunday.

This year, we will sharpen our focus on EVANGELISM. We will be more engaged to invite others to share through word and deed the good news of Jesus! We want to extend our outreach into the community! An announcement could come soon about this priority.

Our DISICIPLESHIP as a congregation has grown over the last year. The 2019 year-end report shows more people in studies, small groups, and classes of all kind than in previous years. Beginning February 24, we have a new opportunity to find 144 persons ready to grow as disciples. This will involve 12 groups, 12 leaders and co-leaders, and 12 weeks of learning, loving, and leading together. 144 people growing as disciples at the same time could tip our congregation toward greater growth in discipleship. Are you one of the 144? All are welcome!

We also have a new ministry led by our new Lay Leader, Angie Turnbow. PLACE is a structured ministry with required training that will be implemented in the coming years. This course is designed to help everyone find their PLACE in the church. While this ministry was formed in response to the congregation’s request for more volunteers, it is structured to help everyone find their place of service.

SUMC continues to focus around growing disciples in these focus areas: CHILDREN, YOUTH, YOUNG ADULTS, and ADULTS. Already this year, children and youth are off to a great start. We have a new initiative study for young adults, and JOY (Just Older Youth) is having a major impact on adults throughout the congregation. According to Scott Newbold, our church administrator, we currently impact about 10,000 people a month with all the worship, ministries, programs, and activities. We have a fine administrative staff that works very well together. We have several new chairpersons who are excited in their new roles, and as a result, a new Lead Team has already begun meeting regularly. Our committees are holding their first meetings and are moving forward with formulating plans in each of their areas of responsibility. Please pray for all the elected chairpersons and committees along with our staff as actions and plans progress.

Finance Chairman, David Mobley, reports that end of year giving was stronger than anticipated. Thank you for your faithfulness! The 2020 budget has been reduced by 5% from last year and the Finance Committee seeks to strengthen the church’s overall financial landscape so even more fruitful ministries will be possible!

There has been some concern over the future of the general United Methodist Church. General Conference meets again in May and there are numerous proposals that may be considered by the 862 delegates. I would remind our congregation these are only proposals until the General Conference adopts them. Only a majority vote by the General Conference will bring any changes which would not be implemented until 2021. This would allow conferences, districts, and local churches time to consider the impact and best path forward.

We do know for certain that Shalimar UMC has an opportunity to move forward making disciples before, during, and after General Conference. Let’s not be distracted by what we cannot control, but instead, focus on the great opportunity to make disciples of Jesus Christ! I fully expect Shalimar will become a more thriving congregation in the coming years. Let us act now to make this so!

Again, any reports you may have heard of the demise of Shalimar United Methodist Church are exaggerated and premature. Our church remains vibrant in so many ways! We do have some challenges, but these will make us stronger. There is growing optimism in our congregation that 2020 will be a bounce back year to one of renewal and revival! So let us continue to look forward through the windshield and not the rear view mirror!


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