This Sunday is the end of a chapter for our church. And as excited as I am about what God has for us in the days ahead as we move into a new church home, I’m also a bit nostalgic about all that has happened in our almost 11 years above the revenue office.
In fact, I want to take some time this Sunday for some reflection and some sharing during our morning worship service. I’d love for you to be thinking about any moments that stand out to you as you think about our time in the home we’ve occupied our current space.
While our facilities have been a blessing from God as our church has grown, our new church home will allow for a lot more hospitality. We expect to have a lot of new folks dropping in in the next few months.
Someone shared with me a great article from Rebecca McLaughlin about three rules she and her husband have adopted that, as she says, make their Sunday mornings less comfortable but more rewarding. I’ll summarize her main points, but I hope you’ll click the link and take time to read the whole article.
Rule #1 – An alone person in our church gathering is an emergency.
It may be someone who doesn’t know Jesus, or someone who has decided to give church “one final try.” It may be a brother or sister in Christ who is isolated or lonely. Rebecca and her husband have three children, which makes getting to church early a challenge. But the whole family is coming ready to see what assignment God has for them on any given Sunday. They come ready to connect with anyone who is alone.
Rule #2 – Friends can wait.
One of the highlights of Sunday morning is being able to connect with people we haven’t seen for a while. But instead of huddling with our tribe, she says we need to come ready to expand our network of relationships and to connect with new folks. “The Bible calls us fellow soldiers,” she writes, “and few bonds are stronger than those forged in battle. Soldiers seldom turn to face each other. Rather, they look outward, standing shoulder to shoulder.” Connecting with newcomers is part of our shared mission.
Rule #3. Introduce newcomers to someone else.
When we have a first time conversation with someone, part of what we’re doing is asking each other questions to see where there might be a connection or where we might have something we share in common. Sometimes those conversations will lead us to connect a newcomer with someone else we know. “You lived in Alabama? Come meet Don and Lane. Your kids go to Don Roberts? Meet Beth! You like the Spurs? Meet our Pastor!” J
“We may never know what difference a small act of welcome made,” McLaughlin says. And I think she’s right.
I feel like I’m preaching to the choir here. You all are an unusually welcoming group of people. Over and over again I’ve heard from visitors how friendly we are as a church. It would be extremely rare for someone to visit Redeemer and not be welcomed warmly.
But here’s the rub. If we want to excel still more in this area – and I think we should – then it means we recalibrate our Sunday morning routines so we can arrive at church 20 minutes before the worship service starts. If you’re working in the nursery, it needs to be 30 minutes. You know who arrives early for church? Visitors. And nothing is more awkward than for someone to arrive at 9:45 with a nine month old only to find that there’s no on in the nursery.
I’ve shared with you before that my constant prayer for our church is the prayer found in Ephesians 4:3 – that God would preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace at Redeemer. And in the past year, I’ve added to that prayer the words of Jesus from John 15:8 – that we would be people who prove we are His disciples by bearing much fruit.
Here’s what I’m praying God will do in our midst in the next 12 months:
Bring to us both unchurched and de-churched people. People who will come to understand the gospel in a way they’ve never understood it before, and who will learn to believe it and re-believe it every day.
Bring us people who know the truth of scripture but who need to confront their self-righteousness and learn how to grow in grace.
Bring us people whose lives have been transformed by God’s grace and who need to grow deeper in their understanding of who God is and how we are to live for Him.
Bring us people whose eyes are opened to the gospel for the first time and who find new life in Christ.
Grow each one of us more and more into His likeness.
I hope you’ll join me in praying for these things for our church.
Just to make sure you’re all up to speed on our plans for our Dedication Sunday, September 8:
We’ll have our Sunday morning worship service as usual at 10:00 am, with our special guest Justin Unger leading the music.
At 4:00 on Sunday afternoon, we’ll gather back at the church for a get together. We’ll have inflatables and games. We’ll serve Corky’s BBQ starting at 5:00. And at 6:00, we’ll head inside for an all church hymn sing and a concert from Justin.
We’ve invited our neighbors. Think about friends you’d like to invite.
And get ready for a great Dedication day!
By now I trust you’re up to speed on the upcoming changes for our kids on Sunday mornings. Once again, here are all the details:
If you have questions, Mrs. Jen has the answers!
I imagine you’ve heard the good news:
Here's the link for Matt and Kary’s meal train to celebrate Miss Winnie's arrival! And if you need help delivering the food to the Wests (who live a few miles out of town) Mary Johnson or Matt will be happy to meet whoever in town!
After five months, we’ll wrap up our study of 1 John this Sunday. We’ll see what John means when he says “there is a sin that leads to death” and the different ways people have interpreted that phrase.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!