2022 Annual Report
Our Mission: "To help you deepen your daily experience of being loved by God through offering intimacy-building activities and removing barriers to being loved and loving."
Our Vision: "All people loving the Jesus way"
Big Updates in 2022!
A brand exists to help people remember who you are and what you mean to them. We want people to see our colors, logos, and images and think about the “easy, light, and rest” of Jesus’ love. After much collaboration with our teams and our designer, we landed on what you see here! Our primary colors are inspired by lavender, which evokes a sense of grace, health, and rest. As you read this report and explore our website you will see all the different design elements included in this update.
We want to make sure that everything we say and write effectively communicates the emotional force behind what we are saying. So now we use the phrase “intimacy-building activities” to describe Love Verses and God Sightings because activities are fun and anyone can do them! Plus, as of this year, we are able to name what we offer in three categories: Teaching, Training, and Touchpoints. A touchpoint is a term in psychology to describe a point in a person’s life that marks the start of a leap in growth. A FLM touchpoint leads to spiritual growth.
“First Loved: Taste and See” Video Scripts
Rachel had been working with another writer to clearly and concisely write scripts for all the sessions in our Taste and See series before she was brought on to be our Associate Director. She and her writing partner continued this project throughout the year and are scheduled to wrap up the scripts by year's end. This means that we will be able to move on to the next stage of filming the First Loved: Taste and See teaching and training videos!
Hired an Associate Director
Mark has had the great privilege of working with exceptional people over the years to accomplish the mission of FLM. This year, for the first time in FLM’s history, we were able to bring on an Associate Director to work alongside Mark in making our vision a reality. Rachel Delgado has been volunteering with and contributing resources to First Loved for years, and we are thrilled to have her on the team full-time.
Developed Critical Teams
To scale our reach and impact we need multiple teams of volunteers doing a variety of tasks. This year we were able to establish an Advisory Team of deeply invested friends of First Loved to help with scaling and sustainability decisions. We also re-established a Discernment Team that meets regularly to pray and listen to the Lord together. Finally, we now have a team of Facilitator Trainers who are editing and updating our training curriculum (See our Things to Come section below for more details!)
Mark Returned to Costa Rica
Vida 220 is a 10-month discipleship school where Mark teaches First Loved for a week in the fall and Getting Along in the spring. This fall is his 9th school year in the past 10 years (missed a covid year). Students, ages 18-30, come from at least 7 different countries to study at Vida 220. Many have become missionaries, church planters, and leaders in their local churches throughout Latin America.
Check out their website.
WHAT PEOPLE SAID
Bill Shoemaker, Pastor
"A First Loved workshop about the Love Verse Practice captured my heart and imagination and transformed my personal time with God. God spoke to my heart day after day as I listened to his love for me. I couldn’t imagine enjoying his love any less. After six months, I knew that I wanted to share this with others in my church. My wife and I attended a First Loved weekend with another couple. Then we attended a weekend with my Leadership Team and their wives. I also taught a group at the church. [Now] we share our God Sightings in our weekly Staff Meetings. This year we can’t wait to host a First Loved Weekend at the church. Mark and his team have designed a wonderful experience that captivates your mind and your heart with the infinite love of God. I can’t get enough."
Ann Marie, Zoom Participant
"I still can’t find the right words to describe it other than mind blowing. I have never felt the love of God sooo strongly before… Feeling that love sooo deeply, has given me a new perspective on the scripture “Love Conquers All”. Now it means to me -God’s Love Conquers All. I have been on a healing journey since I started CR in 2015. In 2018, after a break-down, I got a diagnosis of Complex PTSD. And was told I was a “trauma survivor”. I have been on several medications and thru numerous years of therapy. However, I feel whatever I have done up to this point- has been mediocre, compared to this weekend. I can’t thank you enough for what you do and this ministry. I can’t wait to continue my healing thru this ministry."
Philip Byler, Vida220
"I may have received the greatest birthday gift of my life this week (at 73). Wow, I wish I had been exposed to this teaching 50 years ago. It is so deeply foundational! As the teaching evolved over several days I came to realize that so many familiar verses about God's unfailing love, His compassion, and delight over me had always seemed almost too good to be true. I thereby, never allowed those expansive truths to penetrate the depths of my heart because I always felt so unworthy. I plan to spend time in the resources of the First Loved website to continue rewiring the decades of disbelief in God's unbelievably good love whereby he "delights in me" and proclaims me Philip Ray Byler, like Jesus, a beloved son in whom he is well pleased. Dare I truly believe that?"
Things to Come
We have seen multiple iterations of our workbooks for FLM throughout the years. As we have worked to update our language and make our Teachings more clear, we are finalizing a new Guidebook. It incorporates our new branding and is more concise than ever before. This will be available for purchase online in early 2023.
Zoom Event Every Other Month
Since 2020, we have been able to host multiple zoom events, which allows us to connect with people all over the world! This year alone we were able to share First Loved with people in every time zone in the continental US, plus with people in Canada and the UK via zoom. We already have some of our zoom event registrations up and open - sign up for our January event now.
Working on FLM Book
We know a book can never replace the experience of an FLM event, but it will certainly make it easier to share our stories, and Mark has countless stories of lives being transformed by the message and methods of First Loved. We have an outline and a rough draft of chapter one already completed.
First Facilitator Training Cohort
As we mentioned above, we have a new Facilitator Training team that will be hosting our first FLM Facilitator Certification cohort this January. This training will equip our volunteers for the unique role of Touchpoint Group Facilitator. We will have another cohort this fall, and moving forward we intend to offer this training
Film "Taste & See" Video Series
Now that we have the scripts for the videos we will be able to go to Foundations and apply for grants for the next stage, which will be filming. We know that getting our message out in videos will immeasurably grow our reach and impact, and are excited for what God will do in this next season!
Re-establish Intercessory Team
We need so many different types of people to accomplish our mission, especially people who love to pray! We are rebuilding our Intercessory Team this spring, which will be responsible for covering all of our events and participants in prayer. If that is something you would be interested in, sign up today.
How To Get Involved
We are aiming to raise $20,000 by year’s end in our “How Much More?” Campaign. Give a special offering to this goal here.
We want you to share in our joy by coming alongside us in ministry. We need all sorts of people with all sorts of gifts, talents, and skills. Fill out our volunteer application so we can have a conversation about what you love to do!
You can help us love more and more people by joining us as a monthly giver. As a donor-supported nonprofit, your monthly partnership makes everything we do possible.
Our Touchpoint Groups are critical for the FLM event experience and our facilitators are what make these group times so special. Facilitating enables you to share with others the love you experienced first, plus create new God Sightings at each event. Apply today!
Thank you so much for reading our whole report and making it to these last words of thanks. God has truly done amazing, amazing things this year, which, without your loving support, would not have happened. Yes, God called and commissioned me on November 5, 2005, to take the First Loved message to his Bride. But implementing that “call” is not a one-person operation. I am so grateful for all our volunteers who are so vital to operations and future scaling – our Board of Directors; our Discernment Team and so many of you who regularly pray for us; our Advisory Team; our growing team of facilitators; our staff who oversee finances (accounting), administration, and communications; for God’s special gift to me and the ministry – Rachel Delgado, my full-time Associate Director. Together we have at least doubled to tripled our output of resources to help people daily experience God loving them! Finally, thank you to all of you who have financially supported us. It’s your generous giving that allows us the time to create resources – written and spoken, to teach and train in person and via zoom, and to pursue relational networks. Rachel and I know what a privilege and gift it is to have the time to do all of this. But most of all, we wish you could read and hear all the profound expressions of gratitude from so many for the way First Loved’s resources and events have forever changed their lives. And as individuals are transformed, so are marriages, families, friends, and churches all because of you!!! So thank you from the bottom of my heart. I leave you with two quotes from Paul the apostle.
First, the profound joy we have remembering you: “How can we (I) thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we (I) have in the presence of our God because of you?” (1Thess. 3:9). It’s so true!
Second, his promise to you for your generosity the truth that your generosity results in praise to God: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. . . . You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”