To our Riverside family and friends,
There is much to celebrate in the body of Christ today as many see God pouring out His Spirit and impacting lives daily, including here at Riverside. But the spiritual battles are clearly heating up. As these battles increase, they add to the daily tension of focusing on His purpose and plan.
While not as connected as I once was, I currently serve on two ministry boards. I also remain connected to several from serving in the past. Adding pastor friends from different geographical regions and former churches in which we have served, I have a fairly broad perspective on the spiritual climate around our country.
With few exceptions, EVERY pastor that I know personally and have spoken with and EVERY ministry I am connected to seem to be struggling with the resources to continue the charge they feel they have been given by the Lord. Riverside is not immune to this struggle. Even in our strong denomination, approximately 1000 churches are closing every year. Our own international missions’ organization, the largest in the world, is forced to make deep cuts and remove hundreds of missionaries from around the globe in order to balance the budget. This of course is funded by the dollars that we give through our local church. Worldwide ministries in our own backyard that once were seemingly untouched by the economy are being forced to significantly scale back.
Could it be in part that the news from around the world and in our own backyard seems mostly dark? It feels like depravity is winning and those who are against us are stronger than ever before. So many believers, families, churches and ministries are struggling on many levels.
While we are looking for answers, we know you are as well. So are your friends, neighbors, co-workers and families. We must remember there is truly “gospel” in the unraveling. The good news is that Jesus still saves!
It truly is much more than a cliché that light shines brightest when it is the darkest! For those of us who know the God of the Bible through Jesus His Son and read His word we know that HE WINS!
LET ME ENCOURAGE YOU WITH THIS THOUGHT: With the spiritual battle intensifying, then now is NOT the time to develop a bunker mentality. We must leverage everything we have for the kingdom of God. The days have passed for pursuing things that do not satisfy. The souls of men, women, boys and girls all over the world are at stake. If we truly believe the only hope for the world is Jesus, then we must press forward in Kingdom advance.
His light is truly piercing the darkness around the globe, including here along the Front Range. The opportunity and desire to reach the nations is right in front of us. Our staff and leadership are passionate about partnering with like-minded people to flood the darkness in radical ways with His light.
We continue to adjust and sacrifice to that purpose by focusing our resources toward that goal. We will enter 2016 with five fewer staff members and six less salaries than we had in 2015. Remaining staff will take on even more responsibility because we are each sold out to His cause. Each step we take is driven with a sense of urgency for reaching and disciplining people for Christ which is our clear calling. Our goal is to equip you to do the work of the ministry and lead as examples in the process. We together are His program for reaching the world.
I am writing this to encourage you but also to ask you to help us like never before. Extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. God’s people have always risen to the occasion and Riverside is no exception. Will you seek the Lord over the next few weeks and let’s give like never before to our general budget for the cause of Christ?
I understand that hands are being extended with needs from every direction. We want to continue to be faithful to missions both locally and globally as God has commissioned. In part this is why we have weekly made cuts for months while waiting for God to use you to provide the need. I am asking that you remain soft in the Father’s hands as our world seemingly sprints to the finish line. Will you begin this week to give sacrificially and extraordinarily like never before?
I have never written a letter to you like this and would not have if the need was not critical. I believe that you will, as in the past, respond generously to this great need. The time is now!
Luke 15:7 “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”
Focusing on His joy! Thanking you in advance!!
Dr. Tony Lambert, Pastor