Email From the Pastor

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

We’re moving in to the third week of our six-week series, Brick by Brick: How Christ Builds His Church. In the first sermon, we looked at the eternal purpose of God and reflected on how the church is God’s chosen instrument to bring about the kingdom upon the earth.

Therefore, we should see Grantham Church as a local expression of Christ and the kingdom where we live, work, and play. 

This past Sunday, we considered how Christ wants us to be “living stones” (disciples in formation) who are being built into a spiritual house. I talked about how are we to be chiseled and shaped into living stones that fit into the beautiful building of God.

This sort of discipleship, the kind Jesus wants, is meant to take place within a committed community of faith. If you missed the sermon, you can now listen to The Call to be Living Stones (2 of 6) at our website or on the go by subscribing to the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes.

Also, remember that you can access the small group discussion questions under “Worship Resources” at the bottom of each sermon posted to our website. Please use the questions to help your group engage with the sermon and guide you in fruitful conversation together.

The sermons and small group discussion questions are posted to our website each Monday afternoon. That’s pretty fast! Each post also includes the sermon slides, video (mp4) of the sermon, and the bulletin from the service.

Please be on the lookout for an email from Ron and Barb Burwell that will have information about our small groups, as well as other helpful tips for those leading small groups. I pray that the Spirit will bless your efforts as you set aside time to develop relationships, listen in for what God is saying to you, and share your journey within a personal space that is intended to deepen discipleship.

This Sunday I’m going to introduce you to the different “spaces” that exist in the church, i.e. the public, social, personal, and intimate spaces. It’s important that we’re working each of these spaces if we want to be healthy disciples and grow up into Christ together.

The sermon this Sunday will focus on the nature and importance of the public space, including its limits. How was Jesus active in the public spaces? What does this mean for our corporate worship experience? Join us as we talk about the purpose of our worship services and how we believe Jesus wants to use them to draw us closer to himself and each other.

Finally, set your calendar for our annual Harvest Happening, being held here at Grantham Church on Sunday, October 8 at 4:00 pm. I’m looking forward to this festive time together. If you like bluegrass, apple cider, good food, heart-warming fellowship, and fun activities and games for all ages, please don’t miss this upcoming fall event. Stay tuned for more details.

See you in worship on Sunday!

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

I hope you’re having a great week!

Our Fall 2017 ministries are well underway. Last Sunday we launched our Learning Communities and our sermon series, Brick by Brick: How Christ Builds His Church. Did you miss the first sermon in the series? Visit our website and download the message and access other helpful worship resources, or listen on the go to the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes.

In The Master’s Plan for the Church (1 of 6), I encouraged us to see the “eternal purpose” God has for the church (Ephesians 3:10-11). The church is God’s idea and his chosen instrument for bringing Christ’s kingdom. Therefore, not only should we be committed to a local church (e.g. worshipping, growing, serving, etc.), but we should also be hopeful that Christ will establish his church and expand the kingdom through us. The church will always face challenges, and make mistakes along the way, but we continue to pray that more of the kingdom will come in our generation. We’re called to do good and not grow weary (Galatians 6:9).

Are you interested in going deeper with the sermons and being spiritually formed in relationship with others who are following Jesus? Please consider signing up for a small group near you by filling out a form at our welcome centers and dropping it in the offering plate when it comes around in the service. The church office will contact you soon with details about your group. Ron and Barb Burwell are helping with forming our new sermon-based small groups. They will be sharing a brief word this Sunday in our service about how our small groups have changed and how you can join one this semester.

Each message in our Brick by Brick series will build on the next. So, if you miss a message, it will certainly help to stay caught up online. This Sunday I will begin where I left off with last week’s sermon on God’s eternal purpose for the church. I will be addressing the topic of discipleship and what it means to follow Christ and be in a process of spiritual formation. In my experience, sometimes local churches will think of certain events or programs as “discipleship” that may just be a social gathering, which doesn’t help us gain clarity on what we mean by “making disciples” and what counts as intentional disciple-making ministries.

Yes, while everything done in the right spirit can be edifying, not everything we do in the church should be thought of as discipleship. I’ll be expounding on this in our upcoming worship service. I hope that you will closely follow our Brick by Brick series as we think about what we’re doing as a church and how our ministries fit into a disciple-making strategy for individual and corporate growth.

Finally, don’t forget that our Discover Grantham Church begins on Sunday, September 24. This 4-week class is for those interested in learning more about our church, our denomination, baptism, and church membership. The class is filling up! If you’re interested, or know someone who might be, please contact our pastoral assistant, Jill Stauffer, via email.

It’s an exciting time to be at Grantham Church. The Spirit is at work among us and your staff is working and praying hard for you. Let us know if there is anything you need.  Check out our new staff page at our website and contact us directly. You can also find our Fall 2017 Ministries guide and updated info and times for our programs and events. Stay current on what is happening by utilizing our website.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

A new season is upon us! Your church staff is working hard to officially launch us into our ministries for Fall 2017 beginning this Sunday.

This past Sunday we offered a preview of what is coming. If you didn’t receive a Fall 2017 Ministries guide, you can download that as a PDF on our website. If you missed the service on Sunday, you can now access the sermon, Getting the Gospel Right, at our website or via iTunes. The sermon serves a precursor to our upcoming fall sermon series. As I articulated in last Sunday’s message, if we are going to be his people and be the spiritual house he is building on the earth, it’s critical that we understand what Christ proclaims as his “good news” for the world

You may have noticed that on the back of the Fall 2017 Ministries guide you can find information about our fall sermon series. To sum up the focus, Brick by Brick: How Christ Builds His Church, is a series that looks at God’s way of building us into a “holy temple” and a “spiritual house” made up of “living stones” (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:4-5). We will be challenged to consider what it looks like for us to become disciples of Christ, to be shaped and fashioned for his divine purposes. This edifying 6-week sermon series will also invite our growing congregation to answer the call of Christ to be a disciple-making church.

This Sunday I will begin our series by talking about what the apostle Paul called God’s “eternal purpose” for the church (Ephesians 3:10-11). The church is God’s chosen instrument for bringing the Kingdom of God to the world. Jesus said we are the light of the world, a city on a hill. He said that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church and his intentions to build his Kingdom here on earth (Matthew 16:18).

Do we believe this today? If we’re followers of Jesus, we must believe it and not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). While the church in America is currently facing some serious challenges, we would do well to see the bigger picture of what the Spirit has done since her inception, and how God might be on the move in unexpected ways today. I’ll talk more about this on Sunday.

As we move along in the series, I’ll be applying what we know about God’s design for the church to what we’re doing here at Grantham Church. I’ll invite us to think about various “spaces” that exist in the church and how we must be involved in public, personal, and intimate spaces if we’re to grow into healthy disciples on mission for Christ.

For example, a personal space opportunity is our small groups ministry. As I’ve said before, we are re-launching this ministry as “sermon-based” small groups where I’m encouraging us to specifically engage with the content of the sermons, using discussion questions as a springboard into conversation that is intended to deepen your relationship with Christ and with others in Christian community. I’ll be sharing more about the importance of small groups in the weeks ahead and why, in time, we’d like the majority of Grantham Church to participate in this vital ministry. 

In the meantime, please consider signing up for a small group near you this semester by filling out a form and dropping it in the offering plate when it comes around in the service. The church office will contact you soon with details about your group.

Finally, I’d like to ask that you pray for what God wants to do this fall. Please pray for your staff and all of our volunteers. Pray for God’s protection against the enemy and for the Spirit’s empowerment, as we seek to be all that he wants for us as a thriving church. I’m praying for you and I look forward to seeing you on Sunday as we pour ourselves out in worship to Christ, the one who builds his church.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S. Don’t forget, Matt Bushoven, our new Youth & Young Adult Pastor, has invited all college students to stay after the service for a picnic on our lawn facing Messiah College. If you’re a college student or you’re interested in college ministry, please plan to attend the picnic and enjoy the food and fellowship. If you’d like to volunteer to help in some way, contact Matt ASAP atmbushoven@granthamchurch.org.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

Summer is almost officially over at Grantham Church. I’m thankful for all that God has been doing in our congregation over the last few months.

If you missed a service in the last two weeks, I have preached on baptism and communion. In the baptism sermon, Buried & Raised with Christ, I encouraged us to see how closely tied our initial profession in Christ is to baptism, as we see it practiced in the New Testament. For example, the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized immediately upon belief in Christ (Acts 8:26-40).

In addition, the Brethren in Christ (BIC) have traditionally held confession, baptism, and church membership together. Unfortunately, many churches don’t do a great job of teaching this, often downplaying the importance of “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:38). And of course, Jesus told us to make disciples, teach them, and baptize them (Matthew 28:18-20). So, I thought it would be helpful to invite us to see baptism as “vows” (like marriage) and as a first act or step of obedience to Christ. It’s also a corporate act that connects us with the local church. We are baptized into Christian community.

Therefore, in last Sunday’s sermon, The Table of Memory & Mystery, I said that it is appropriate to view communion as a renewal of those baptismal vows, where we once again say “yes” or “I do” to Christ and the church. Both of these ordinances or sacraments are best understood as identifying us publicly with Christ and the church, instead of individual acts that are optional and nothing more than symbols. And as I said in the sermons, I’m proposing that baptism and communion are more than symbol (as we normally think of symbol) because they truly reflect an inward spiritual reality. 

In other words, like a Christian marriage ceremony is a testimony to a spiritual reality in the union of husband and wife, so it is with baptism and communion. God mysteriously meets us in them as we approach them in sincerity, and he blesses us through our participation. Based on the biblical passages I shared in my messages, I think this is a healthy perspective on baptism and communion. This is why I personally believe that we should teach the proper order of these things: first baptism, then communion. 

However, as I said in the sermon on Sunday, I also believe it’s the role of the parents to decide how they want to approach communion with their own children, just as it is up to the unbaptized adult who has made a profession of faith in Christ to decide what they will do for themselves. As pastor, I see that my role is to teach the Scripture as best I understand it and encourage us in that way, while always extending grace to others. But it’s also your responsibility to do that and decide what you will teach and model to the children of our congregation.

I’ll say one more thing about communion. You will find churches that view and practice the table differently, and that’s OK. Please know that Grantham Church has never and will never police the communion table. The important thing is that we’re doing our best to obey Christ’s teaching in the New Testament, and that we’re listening to the voice of the Spirit together.

Finally, remember that our fall sermon series and ministries begin on Sunday, September 10. Be looking for information on all of our upcoming fall events and ministries this Sunday in your mailbox, in the bulletin, and in various places throughout our facilities. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday in worship. I will be preaching a message entitled, Getting the Gospel Right.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church in the days ahead.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S. No doubt we are all aware of the flooding that has been caused by Hurricane Harvey and the tropical storm in Texas. At the time I’m writing this, the storm has unleashed over 15 trillion gallons of water on the fourth largest city in the US. My heart is breaking as I continue to see pictures and footage of the devastation. We lived in Houston for 6 really good years and so the city is very special to us. If you’re wondering how you can respond, here is what I’m suggesting we do. First, PRAY for all those in Texas and Louisiana who have been affected. Second, please consider giving to the relief and rebuilding efforts. I recommend giving to Mennonite Disaster Service at www.mds.mennonite.net. MDS will help specifically with the rebuilding process. You can even volunteer for an upcoming work project. Also, if you’d like to give to a church on the ground in downtown Houston, and help with immediate needs, I recommend giving to Ecclesia (Elder Campus) at: http://ecclesiahouston.org/give.  I know this church well and have continued to follow them over the years. They do great things for the city of Houston. Thank you for joining me in prayer and for considering how God may want you to give toward relief and recovery efforts.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I am still overjoyed from our experience last Sunday. The morning worship service was jubilant and uplifting. I preached a message entitled, Buried & Raised with Christ, before many of us went down to the creek for a baptismal service. We baptized six people in the Yellow Breeches! It was a beautiful day and a meaningful time of celebration. Even some tubers and kayakers witnessed the event.

I’d like to thank everyone who shared in this memorable time together. I also want to thank Duane Asper for assisting me and making sure we didn’t have anyone float away with the current. It was my first time to baptize in the creek and I shall never forget it. Please continue to pray for the six who were baptized: Sami White, Dan Curry, Joanna Barnhouse, Nathan Seibert, Noah Bisbee, and Amber Fogelsanger.

This coming Sunday will be focusing our attention on another ordinance (or sacrament) of the church, the communion meal. I will be preaching a message called, The Table of Memory & Mystery. Naturally, we will take communion (via intinction) at the conclusion of the service. I hope you will join us for our monthly communion and then stay for a welcoming luncheon for Matt Bushoven, our new Youth & Young Adult Pastor. We will have a brief installation ceremony for Matt toward the beginning of the service. I hope you can join us for this special time.

Also, we will be including the Blessing of the Backpacks in this week’s service. This is when we set aside a time of prayer and blessing for students as they begin a new school year. All students are invited to bring their backpacks or school bags to the worship service. I look forward to seeing all of our students as we show them our love and support for a new year.

Can you believe that summer is coming to an end? I want to remind you that the launch of our fall ministries is happening on Sunday, September 10. Our fall sermon series will invite us to consider the divine purpose of the local church, how we make disciples here at Grantham Church, and how God may be leading us forward as a congregation. We will also be re-launching our small groups as “sermon-based” small groups at the same time.

What are “sermon-based” small groups and how is this different than what has been done in the past? This modification means that small groups will be encouraged to specifically engage with the content of the sermons, using discussion questions as a springboard into conversation that is intended to deepen your relationship with Christ and with others in Christian community.  Also, this means that we will form and re-form small groups each semester, allowing people to change small groups, though not requiring it.

I believe this approach will help us in the following ways: (1) it allows us to engage with the sermon content in a personal space and discover what God is saying to you in community; (2) leaders do not have to do any significant prep work to lead the discussion; (3) it is easier to join with a beginning to a small group, having the option to step away during a busy season, or join another group the next semester.

There will be more information on our fall ministries and how you can sign up for a small group coming soon. Please stay tuned for more details.

Finally, I want to invite you to pray for what God is already preparing to do this fall. I truly believe that the Spirit is at work among us. Your church staff is expecting to see our sphere of influence as church expand even more this fall. Please pray that God would provide the hands and feet (volunteers) to help us minister to one another in the church, and to those outside who need Christ. And as you pray, ask the Lord where he might want you to plug in and serve the Body of Christ during this exciting season of church growth.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

Over the last few days I’ve been thinking about how Jesus said he was the light of the world (John 8:12), and how the writers of the New Testament spoke of Jesus’ life as the light that shines in the darkness, and that darkness shall not overcome it (John 1:5). The apostle Paul said that we once walked in darkness before we became “children of the light” (Ephesians 5:8). Paul goes on to say a few verses later that living as children of the light requires that we “expose” deeds of darkness with the light of goodness and truth. In other words, we are called to lovingly shine the light of Christ on every matter and dispel the darkness.

Light can be comforting when you know you’re walking in darkness and you really want to see, but when you don’t know that you’re in darkness and so don’t think you need to see anything (or you think that you already see), well, then receiving the pure light of Christ and his gospel, which confronts, convicts, and calls us to repent, will feel like we’ve just tried gazing at the sun with a pair of binoculars. Not pleasant.

I know that confronting injustice today and exposing the darkness, especially concerning issues that have been heavily politicized in our culture, can be extremely challenging. As many of you know, we experienced this last Sunday as we gave attention to recent events in Charlottesville. As I said at the benediction, if you felt the struggle in the service, it’s because the struggle is real. But despite any efforts made to distract or deter us from our calling to exude Christ and be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), we went on to have a meaningful time of worship.

You can now listen to Dr. Todd Allen’s message at our website. You can also access other items under worship resources, including the congregational prayer that we prayed together in the service. Thanks to all those who came to the evening event at Harrisburg BIC. We had a great turnout and a wonderful time of listening and fellowship. It’s clear that our racial reconciliation work will continue. 

Brothers and sisters, please hear my heart. I want you to know that my concern for racial reconciliation is a biblical one (e.g. Luke 10:25-37; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 2:11-22). As the Senior Pastor of Grantham Church, I am not interested in partisan politics or furthering any political agendas. No, I’m concerned about living out the good news of the Kingdom for which Jesus has made us ambassadors. That means that standing up for the poor and the oppressed may at times take on the appearance of being partisan, whether it be abortion, refugees, or racism, but I assure you it is not.

Instead, I’m sincerely seeking a “third way” through the polarizing nature of American politics, and it is my desire that you would join me in being the Kingdom difference the world needs. This was why I believe God led us through the Aliens & Exiles series last fall. We must find the third way if we’re going to be faithful to Jesus and be of any help to the world around us. May the Spirit help us to discover that way together, so we can prove to the world that our love for Christ and each other is a much greater bond than our political opinions and affiliations (John 13:34-35).

Finally, I hope you will join us this Sunday for an exciting time of worship and celebration. I will be preaching on the meaning of our Christian baptism, and following the service we will venture down to the Yellow Breeches to baptize a handful of young people. This is a special time in the life of our congregation. I hope to see you there.

Until we meet again, I encourage us all to live in love as children of the light. Have a great week!

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S.  Matt Bushoven, our new Youth & Young Adult Pastor is working in the office this week and he will be with us this Sunday! If you see him, please welcome him to Grantham Church. Don’t forget that we will officially welcome Matt with a luncheon next Sunday, August 27. We’re so excited about Matt’s arrival and can’t wait to see what God is going to do through his ministry among our young people.