Monday, September 29, 2014

Letters from the Soul: This Month's Newsletter Column + New Sermon Series

October 2014: "Growth is Never Static"

Dear Church,

I am thrilled to report that with Lacie Cook's baptism on Sunday, September 28th, we have now had eight baptisms in the church in 2014. It has been such a wonderful experience to watch new members formally join our church family in this way, immersing themselves in the waters of renewal and arising as beloved brothers and sisters in Christ--performing these baptisms definitely counts as one of the perks of this gig!

Baptisms also represent the growth our church is experiencing, both numerically and spiritually. And with either type of growth, we can expect the church to change in new and exciting ways...including ways that may sometimes be unexpected and surprising!

We often want our beloved church to remain the way it is; I know I definitely felt that growing up in a church plant that started with 50 people in one worship service when my family began taking me there at ripe old age of six and grew into roughly 500 attendees on a Sunday between three worship services by the time I graduated college. We're not operating anywhere close to that scale, nor are we trying to, but even going from 50 to 60 people means that a church will see some new energy.

And that's ultimately a good thing. Far too often, I've experienced with both churches and denominations a wish to have more people, but to not have more ideas. Put differently: they want reinforcements to keep doing the same things that have been done for decades, but not necessarily to create new things to add on to or complement the existing ministries, programs, and activities.

But that's no way to go about growing the body of Christ, because it means the Church (big "C", universal church) is saying to potential new believers, "We want you, but only if you do what we'd like for you to do rather than what you may feel called to do with your own God-given gifts and talents." It isn't a very welcoming message, and a lot of people--young people especially--have felt that sentiment directed at them.

Ever since I arrived, I have striven to be intentional and up-front about my vision for this church as a safe space for people to try new spiritual practices and disciplines that might draw even more people in, and I hope you will hold me to that vision, because ultimately, the church isn't about what I want, or you want, or what any one person wants. It is what God wants, and as the early church leader Irenaeus said, the glory of God is man fully alive.

May our growth in spirit and in numbers continue in such a way that all our members, present and future, feel fully alive for God!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Eric

You may also have noticed that on Sunday, I began a new sermon series, entitled "The Sermon on the Mount's Little Sibling: Luke's Sermon on the Plain."  If you're interested in seeing what comes next and/or in following along, here is the rest of the series in outline, which will take us through Sunday, November 2:

October 5: “Newton’s Third Law,” Luke 6:20-26
October 12: “Children of the Most High,” Luke 6:27-36
October 19: “On Planks and Specks,” Luke 6:37-42
October 26: “Omnia Munda Mundis,” Luke 6:43-45
November 2: “Upon Sand, Upon Rock,” Luke 6:46-49 

What is super-crazy to think is that the next full-blown sermon series that I'll be kicking off after this one is my Advent series. Holy freaking cow! -E.A.

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