FROM PASTOR'S DESK
How are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Some of you will reply, “Quite well, thanks for asking.” For others, “I’m doing well with a couple of them, but that exercise program has really been an uphill climb.” And for most of the rest of us, “What resolutions?” As we roll into August, we approach what I like to think of as a second ‘New Year’. In the church for many years, we have approached the beginning of the school year as a new beginning in our calendar. A time to retool and start fresh with ministry. And our local school district is starting classes on August 23rd. So, this seemed like a good time for a newsletter article about new beginnings in our church ministry.
We are all aware that with the lifting of the Covid restrictions, it’s almost like we are coming out of hibernation. And for our church, I have had a strong sense from the Lord that He is beginning a special work among us and in our community. But I’ve also had to admit that from a ministry standpoint, we need to get our ministries up and running. While it is important that we make every effort to regrow our church, the spiritual health of our body of Believers is my greatest concern. Church growth has a direct correlation to church health. A church is healthy when her members are walking in the Spirit as a way of life. This would be reflected in the individual’s personal life by a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus, a deepening love for His Word, and ongoing evidence of the fruit of the Spirit, and the fruit of faithful ministry (church growth).
New beginnings and new ministries do not happen without prayer. So as we look at starting again, I want to devote this final part of my article to the church prayer needs. They include but are not limited to:
· Sewer hookup will cost upwards of $50,000.
· Staff needs in the church office
Education and training ministries
· Children’s ministries restart – Children’s Church needs more workers. Nursery needs workers. Mid-week club ministry needs workers.
· Youth ministries restart – workers for Junior High and Senior High ministries.
· Small group ministries restart– we need a coordinator.
· Discipleship training – both one-on-one discipleship as well as small group discipleship groups.
· Evangelism training
· Outreach events – men’s events, women’s events, holiday-themed outreaches, and just general events that welcome the community to meet Jesus.
· Hospitality team – workers.
Facilities maintenance, repair, and improvement
· Media team – livestream, computer display techs, sound techs.
· Music – worship team vocals, musicians.
· Greeting and Usher teams.
This is not an exhaustive list. In fact, my prayer is that we will see innovation and new ideas add to and even replace items on the list as we seek to make disciples of Jesus and develop a multigenerational community of His followers. So let us embrace this new beginning for our church. And let us resolve to obey what the Holy Spirit tells us in First Peter,
“The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins (1Pet. 4:7-NAS20).”
May He find us walking in the Spirit, diligent in prayer, and fervent in our love for one another when He comes.
In Christ our living hope,
I was working on a visitor letter recently to one of the newcomers to our church and had a crazy thought, what sort of things would Jesus include in a welcome letter if He were the pastor here? I don’t think it would be ‘cheesy’ comments such as “your needs are our greatest concern” or some ominous challenge like “get your act together bucko, you’re running out of time.”
Seems to me that Jesus would talk about the availability of living water or the provision of the bread of life that satisfies our deepest hunger. Perhaps a line or two about the promise of resurrection and life eternal. It just always seems like in the Scriptures that when Jesus met someone new, He told them about the love of God. And for the visitor, Jesus might mention that God really loves the world or say something about the New Commandment, that we should love one another with His love.
Perhaps Jesus would include an invitation to share a meal with Him. After all, He told the Laodicean Church (Rev. 3:20) that He was actually at their door knocking, waiting for them to open it and welcome Him in. Of course, He would likely be careful to identify Himself: the Good Shepherd, the Vine, the bread of life, living water, the resurrection and life, the Messiah, one with the Father, etc. And in light of who He is, He might offer the opportunity for the newcomer to self-reflect so as to see their own need for the Savior.
As it turns out, Jesus did write some letters to churches in the past (technically, He dictated them to the Apostle John, who wrote down the words, Rev. 2, 3) but He is doing His welcome letters a little bit different these days. In the book of 2 Corinthians, the Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, describes the Corinthian Believers themselves as “a letter of Christ…” Here is the whole quote,
“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all people, revealing yourselves, that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Cor. 3:1-3 NAS20
So, it turns out that we, the followers of Jesus, are His welcome letter to the newcomers to the church. And not just to the newcomers but to everyone with whom we come in contact. He is writing to this lost, dark, and hopeless world through the medium of us. That’s why it is so important that we remain in Him, vitally connected to the “Vine” so that the communication of His life and love can be clearly visible in and through our lives. And the great thing about being a letter of Christ is we don’t need a stamp. Jesus has already paid the postage in full!
May God bless us all as we live out the Gospel to everyone around us!
In Christ our living hope,