Weekly e-News Friday, September 19, 2014

Looking Ahead

           Sunday Worship times: 8:45 a.m., 10:00 Sunday School, 11:00 Contemporary Worship

Bible Study Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

Xtreme Faith youth group is Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

Craft Club 10:00 a.m. Saturday making Ghosts in a Jar. $3 includes all materials needed.

Bonfire at church this Saturday at 6:30 p.m. sing by the fire, enjoy S’mores & hot chocolate. Rain date is the 27th.

            The Sermon Sunday is “God Provides” from Exodus 16:1-15- God’s gift of the manna; and Philippians 1:21-30- the struggle between the desire for heaven and remaining on earth to do God’s work here.

“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21.

 National Back to Church Sunday is 9/21/14. This annual date is a challenge for us to make the effort to connect with people and encourage them to be in worship. For a variety of reasons (vacations, camping, family and other activities, etc.) attendance in most churches slumps over the summer. Some people need an extra boost to get back in the habit of attending. This date is the nudge for each of us to reach out to others and offer the kind of encouragement that can get them back to church on Sunday mornings.

We are not trying a program like Invite a Friend this year because it hasn’t worked very well for us in the past. However, I am hoping that we can exactly do that- to make the effort to invite someone to come with you to worship. I have been inviting, but because of my responsibilities on Sunday morning I am unable to fit the “walk alongside” component, to be like the Disciple Andrew as he brought people to Jesus (he brought Simon [Peter]- John 1:41, the boy with the 5 loaves and 2 fish at the feeding of the 5,000- John 6:8-13, he brought some Greeks to Jesus- John 12:20-22).

So, be an Andrew. I have been praying that we might have over 40 at 8:45 a.m. and over 30 at 11:00 a.m. this Sunday, but as I listen to what I have just shared I am wondering if I am praying too small, trying to be safe? If we get serious about praying for others and being followers of Christ and invite people to church, we will exceed my first hopes.

Go and be like Andrew!

 

Around Church this Week:

           The eave troughs and down spouts were installed on the church on Wednesday and Thursday.

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The two windows in the entry that were broken during the shingling were replaced on Thursday. There was no expense to the church.

Thanks to Roger Parham and Dick Thompson for seeding new grass along the north side of the church

            Xtreme Faith youth group got off to a great start with 10 youth the first week. Here are a couple pictures of lesson time and a couple more of fun in the sanctuary.

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Chuckle: “The One whose throne is in heaven sits laughing. . . .” (Psalms 2:4)

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

Forbidden fruits create many jams. If God is your Co-pilot, swap seats!

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

Prayer: Don’t give God instructions, just report for duty!

 

Birthdays this Week:

26 Madison Sletten

Anniversaries this Week:

25 Robert & Marcie Pickett

 

Prayer Thought:

I gathered the following at pray-today.com:

Do you know fully what God wants for your life? Do you live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord? Are you producing fruit? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of God? Are you serving in God’s strength? Can others see God at work in your life?

Are you like Christ in every way? What change in your life would please God? Do you have any spiritual goals you are working to achieve? Do you have others who are praying for you as you grow in the Lord?

I believe that asking others to pray for us as we work to mature in our faith and serve God will bring about the kind of change that will please our Lord. I believe that God is working through the prayers of my prayer partners to accomplish changes in my life that I could not even begin to accomplish without their support. I believe this is one reason He has told us to pray for one another.

Do you need to put on love, compassion, forgiveness, humility, mercy, meekness, patience, kindness, thankfulness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control? Does Satan have a stronghold in any area of your life? Do you need to put off worldliness or sin of any kind? Do you have trouble finding time for God’s Word and prayer? Are you serving others? Do you have a relative, friend or neighbor that you want to share the good news of Jesus Christ with?

As you have read I would guess the Holy Spirit has brought to mind a spiritual goal for you. If not, ask Him to identify one area that He would like you to grow in or gain victory in. And then, gain strength for the spiritual battle you face by asking others to pray with you and for you.

As you gain victory give God praise and thanks. Rejoice and share how God is working with someone.

Please keep in prayer: Gerald Harmer in Sanford Hospital (hoping to go home today, Friday); Audrey Kapaun– preparation for shoulder surgery; Joyce Carpenter; Bev Van Bochove; Esther Bakker; Pete Van Regenmorter; Ruth Weise, Pastor Dave; Loren Wiese; Marv Haffner; For Arlene Lewis, Dale Klutman, Pete and Dolores Van Regenmorter– pray for balance, core strength and protection from falls.

The following is a challenging article that is worth the read. How deep is the water you are willing to wade in?

Shallow congregations only take off their shoes and socks

What does it take to become fully immersed?

           By George Bullard

Since they only plan to wade into the shallow end of the pool or a few feet into the river, lake or ocean, the typical congregational participant only needs to remove shoes and socks. And we are not talking about feet washing here.

They have no plans to change into a swimsuit and get fully immersed in water, to swim in the deep end above their heads or to allow the currents or the ocean’s undertow to challenge them. And we are not talking about baptism here.

Shallow congregations, like people who only wade into shallow water, only plan to lead people connected with them into a Christian lifestyle that gives them just enough Jesus to get their feet wet. That is not enough to call for a full commitment to a Christ-like lifestyle, and an ever deeper journey into a Christian community characterized by significant discipleship and mutual accountability.

One of my previous commentaries spoke to the shallow and private nature of many Christians. That commentary suggested congregations often lack a commitment to open sharing, personal accountability and meaningful community. Such a posture leads to an overall shallow congregation.

Who are these shallow congregations?

No congregation plans to be shallow. Or do they? Unfortunately some do plan to be shallow. It was established as a church in its community to which people in the Protestant tradition could go, worship God and provide some reasonably good role models for their children. For them the phrase “good enough is good enough” applied not only to the quality of their programs, ministries and activities, but also to the depth of their personal and congregational discipleship.

Other congregations started out with an intentional desire to be a deeply spiritual fellowship. Over the years several things happened. First, they lost that vision. Second, a crisis or unwise decisions refocused their energies around organizational and institutional issues rather than disciple-making and missional issues. Third, they compromised their cutting-edge nature supposedly to help the church sustain its numerical size and not exclude anyone.

People who did not have a deep disciple-making commitment became friends of congregants or were their family members, and the church relaxed some of its high commitment principles. Eventually it moved to a place where it did not want to offend anyone, so it allowed silt to fill in its once deeper waters. Ultimately it developed a theological rationale that this is where it should have been anyway.

Many congregations are unaware they are shallow. They were founded as cultural congregations in the Christian tradition with an overly churched mindset. They learned culture first, and Christ later. Cultural and family were at their core. Christ was at the outer edge.

Pastors, staff ministers and a core of committed laypersons often toil for years seeking to help congregational participants with spiritual formation. But people still have the same attitudes and perspectives as though they had never been through thousands of hours of sermons, teaching, and small group and personal sharing. The idea of changing their attitude and life actions to be more like Jesus is an unknown concept to many congregational participants.

Creating the anti-shallow congregation

Ouch! I do not like this negative subhead. Yet I must admit that the long-term tendency of many congregations is to become shallow. Therefore, in addition to going deeper spiritually, it may also be necessary to work against becoming shallow and thus intentionally function as an anti-shallow congregation. How do you do this?

The best way is to start a new congregation with a set of non-negotiable core values that focus on being invitational, discipleship and spiritual formation, focused and unashamedly missional in ministry engagement. Creating a new culture that is deeply Christ-centered stands the best chance of creating and sustaining an anti-shallow congregation. My informed guess is that this will be successful one out of two times.

A second way is to radically reset your existing congregation — reset to become a new inviting culture of spiritual formation and missional engagement with a new eternal mission, everlasting purpose, enduring core values and empowering vision. Congregational participants then covenant with one another around living into these. Do this within four to six months from the time you start. You will probably lose the people who do not want to make this commitment. My informed guess is that this will be successful one out of five times.

The way many congregations who decide to become anti-shallow are likely to move forward is through incremental transition and change. This takes three to five years to achieve, and five to seven years before we will know if it is sustainable. It involves the same actions as reset, but also incrementally engaging rather than radically and quickly moving in that direction. My informed guess is that this will only be successful one out of 10 times.

How deep is the water into which you are willing to wade? Will you make the full plunge? How about your congregation?

Eternally Blessed,  

Pastor Dave Ullom <*}}}<

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