Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

Every generation of the Church is located in a particular time and place within human history. When I was in high school, we had a word in response to a statement like that: “Duh!” In other words, that’s obvious. But here is the thing, while we can all easily acknowledge that statement is true, the Church often has a difficult time understanding what it means for how we should disciple folks, how we should evangelize, and how we should worship as the Body of Christ in our own context. So, I’d like us to consider two questions to help us think about where we are in time.

First, How should our church change in response to culture so that we are relevant to the people around us? Now, I don’t mean “relevant” in the way of mirroring the culture. We certainly don’t need more of that. No, I’m talking about using the gospel and our church practices to speak directly to where people are so that they might experience God’s presence and power; that the good news speaks to our needs, our fears, our anxieties, our politically polarized society, and everything else that is challenging and troubling us in our post-modern world.

Being relevant means that outdated programs and methods have to be laid to rest so that new expressions of ministry might be born to keep in step with the Spirit. We’ve been working on that at Grantham over the past few years. This is partly what growth looks like in the church. Even though growing comes with some aches and pains, if we’re going to effectively minister to people in the present and follow the Spirit into the future, we can celebrate the past while keeping our hearts open to ways the Spirit is leading today. It’s a challenge every local church faces, but we can meet the challenge.

And just think about how fast the world around us has changed since 9/11. As one church and culture researcher recently said, “For most of our American history, cultural and technological change was gradual, sufficiently paced for churches to lag only 5 to 10 years. Now churches are lagging 20 and 30 years as the speed of change increases dramatically. To many people, the church seems irrelevant.” Friends, I don’t believe that Grantham Church is irrelevant. God’s Spirit is at work and on the move! And I believe that whatever we need to do to remain relevant, the Lord will equip us to re-contextualize, change our approach, and adapt to the shifting culture around us so that we might continue shining the light of Christ to our neighbors. Let’s pray to that end.

So, change is important for every living organism But we need to ask an equally important question, What should remain the same? What traditions or historical practices help to keep us rooted in who we are (distinctives), connected to the larger Church (unity), and help us to proclaim that we are part of an old story that is ongoing—that the Spirit is alive within our congregation (mission)! You might be surprised to know that a growing number of young adults today (Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z) are not looking for a hipster, make-it-up-as-you-go church. They see great value in tradition and being connected to the past.

As Winfield Bevins says in his book, “Rather than looking for the new, they are returning to the old—even as they seek convergence between the old and new and develop new approaches to ancient traditions. Everything old is becoming new again” (Ever Ancient, Ever New: The Allure of Liturgy for a New Generation, pg.31).

That is what our fall series Spiritual and Religious is all about. An increasing number of people are longing for a Christianity that is more authentic, holistic, embodied, liturgical—something ancient, something new. They are seeking a faith that embraces mystery over empiricism, transcendence over scientism, and faith over certainty. They are not against sound doctrine, they just want a generous orthodoxy that welcomes everyone. They want a faith that more closely resembles the Jesus of the Gospels and the Christianity of the first few centuries of the Church. That sounds good to me. How about you?

I hope you will join us this Sunday as we continue to be challenged and inspired to embrace the mystery and liturgical power of the Christian faith—a way of life that is both spiritual and religious. In the meantime, may God bless you with his presence and surround you in his love as you seek to follow Jesus this week. God is for us, not against us. Selah.

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 and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It was exciting to see a full house for our fall kickoff this past Sunday! Our staff recently reflected on how meaningful the morning was and how we were encouraged to see the Spirit at work. Thank you for participating in the start of a new season of ministry in the life of Grantham Church. I hope you received a blessing by gathering with your church family for worship.

If you missed the sermon on Sunday, you can listen to Ask, Seek, Knock at our website or on the go through the Grantham Church Podcast. If you listen to the podcast, you will notice that we’ve now added a greeting and intro that briefly describes who we are and where we’re going as a congregation. It’s a helpful reminder for those who worship with us, and an invitation to those podrishioners who don’t attend Grantham. Please let your friends and neighbors know about this ministry resource. And if you’re able, subscribe to the podcast and rate it so that it becomes more visible in the world of podcasts.

This coming Sunday we will begin our fall series, Spiritual and Religious. You may have heard the phrase: “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” It’s a common phrase used by many people today to self-identify as someone who values spirituality and the well-being of mind-body-spirit, while taking issue with organized religion. Even among many Christians, the term “religious” is often used as a pejorative term with connotations of hypocrisy, legalism, and a lack of genuine piety. So, we say things like “Jesus wasn’t religious” or “Christianity is not a religion” or that the Christian faith is “not about religion, it’s about a relationship.” But is that really true? If not, where did this modern disdain for religion come from? And what is at stake if we merely seek to be spiritual but not religious?

In this 7-week series, I’ll invite us to see that “spirituality” is honestly a vague, individualistic impulse toward the transcendent and it’s not enough to shape us as disciples of Jesus. As the New Testament will attest, there is good in religion. In fact, Christ himself was a religious Jew. And correctly understood, the Christian religion has handed down observance of the church calendar and Spirit-infused practices like prayer, Scripture, creeds, sacraments, and ancient liturgies to properly form us into his image.

God doesn’t need these things. We need them to be properly formed in our worship. Join us for a series that will challenge and inspire us to embrace the mystery and liturgical power of the Christian faith—a way of life that is both spiritual and religious.

Remember, change is inevitable, but growth is intentional (optional). How do you need to grow? Do you have questions? Are you struggling with doubt, anxiety, or a sense of purpose? Are you needing to discern God’s will for you and your family? Maybe you need the Spirit’s help to overcome negativity and criticism of others. It could be that you need to be moved out of your own complacency and cynicism. Whatever your need, I want to encourage you to be intentional in working the spaces of the church this fall. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Seek with your whole heart and you will find him.

As we continue to be intentional about moving forward in our faith, may we experience the grace that God gives us to grow our roots down deep into the love of Christ (Col 2:6-7). And may God bless our congregation as we put our hands to the plow of God’s Kingdom purposes and not look back. Onward and upward, Grantham Church!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Our mid-week meal is back with a fresh focus to meet new people and deepen our connections to one another in the church! Come out and show your support for our Community Meal this Wednesday night from 5:00-6:30 PM in the fellowship hall. This is a chance to get to know people. It’s a chance to listen to others and their stories. Our desire is that the Community Meal would serve as an intersection between the church, college, and greater community. We want to offer this meal as a reflection of God’s table that’s open and freely available to all. I hope to #SeeYouAtTheTable!

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly Email From the Pastor and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

Summer is in the bag and I’m looking forward to what God has in store for us this fall at Grantham Church.

Sunday is the official kickoff for our Fall 2019 Ministries! Be sure to check out the ministries brochure and consider how the Spirit is calling you to engage with our church family. On top of many exciting ministry opportunities, including the fresh return of our mid-week Community Meal, you will notice in the back of the brochure that there is a summary of our fall sermon series, Spiritual and Religious, which begins next Sunday, September 15. I’m really excited about this one! Do you have any unchurched neighbors? Any of them skeptical of religion? Invite them to join us for this new series.

This coming Sunday I will be preaching a message entitled Ask, Seek, Knock. These are the words that Jesus uses in Matthew 7:7-12, as he encourages us to be intentional about deepening our faith as disciples. Therefore, as we enter into the fall and discern how God is leading us, we want to ready our hearts and prepare our hands for ministry. It’s a fitting way to enter a new season. I hope that you will come eager to worship and remain open to how the Spirit wants to move among us in the sanctuary this Sunday.

Also, I want to remind you to be aware that all of our college students will be back with us at Grantham this weekend. Please give them a warm welcome. Some of them will be returning students, but there will no doubt be incoming freshman who are looking for a church home. In addition, there is a college picnic immediately following the service for students, staff, and those who work with them in our congregation. Please pray for our interactions at the picnic as we minister to college students and invite them into what God is doing at Grantham Church.

Finally, I want to thank all those who have agreed to volunteer for various ministries this fall. If it weren’t for you, we would not be able to sustain the work of the church. I sincerely mean that. May God bless all of you who joyfully give of your time, treasure, and talents to further the mission and vision of Grantham Church, as we seek to be an intergenerational, convergent, third way congregation.

See you this Sunday in worship!

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 and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

We have had a great summer at Grantham Church! I have heard from many of you that our six-week Knowing Jesus series was both helpful and challenging to your walk. Also, this past Sunday we recognized the 7 people who were baptized the previous Sunday, and we got to hear 5 stories of how God was at work over the summer through various trips. I hope that you were encouraged.

We’ve had some technical difficulties this week, but the stories will be on the website and our podcast before the week is over. Thank you for your patience.

This coming Sunday we have a special guest speaker. Upon recently learning that our bishop (Bob Beaty) needed to back out because of some new Sunday morning responsibilities, I asked Eldon Fry, a gifted spiritual director within our conference, if he would be willing to come and share his heart with us. Whether you’ve known Eldon a long time, or this is the first time you’ve heard his name, I know that you will be blessed by his ministry to us. If you’re in town this Labor Day weekend, please join us for worship. We will conclude the service with communion.

Remember that this coming Sunday is officially the end of summer for our church. Fall Kickoff is on Sunday, September 8. Check out our Fall 2019 Ministries brochure to see how you can engage with our church family in the season ahead. You will also find information on our fall series, Spiritual and Religious, which begins on Sunday, September 15. I’ll be sharing more about that as we get closer.

Finally, please be in prayer for the entire church staff. We have been working hard getting everything ready for our Fall 2019 Ministries. We greatly appreciate your prayers for good health, stamina, and the Spirit’s power in the days ahead. May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we seek to make disciples and be open to where God is leading us in the future.

See you 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 and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

There are moments in the life of the church when the Holy Spirit is clearly at work among us. This past Sunday was one of those times. After concluding our Knowing Jesus series with the message, An Invitation to Follow Jesus (6 of 6), I invited folks to pray at the altars and I stood in front of the communion table to receive anyone who wanted to follow Jesus. People came forward to pray before I had even finished speaking. Shortly after, a young lady named Eunice came down and accepted Christ for the first time. I was grateful for those of you that gathered around and joined in on her conversion.

The presence of the Lord was so strong that I saw several people left standing in holy awe after the benediction. Following the service, our worship continued as we baptized 7 people in the Yellow Breeches. I must say that I have never witnessed a scene quiet like it. Several of the women who were baptized came up out of the water and quickly began sobbing as the goodness of the Lord overwhelmed them. We closed our time by singing the Doxology and thanking God for what he had done. It was an experience that extended beyond us to other onlookers, kayakers, and tubers enjoying the afternoon.

So, how is God speaking to you through these things? How is he calling you to join in on the Spirit’s work at Grantham Church? Please don’t miss an opportunity to get in on the inside of what God is doing. When the wind is blowing, pull up your anchor and throw open your sails! Be vigilant. Stay hungry. And keep your hearts open to the Spirit who often surprises us with his presence.

Finally, a reminder that this Sunday is our Summer Celebration Service. We will be recognizing those who were baptized, hearing testimonies from folks in our congregation, and singing praises to God for the great things he has done so far this year.

You will also find the Fall 2019 Ministries brochure in your mailboxes and at the welcome centers. Fall kick off is on Sunday, September 8. Take a look at the brochure and prayerfully consider how the Spirit is leading you to engage in the coming months. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks as we share more about what to expect this fall.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we seek to make disciples who have a passion for knowing Jesus and making him known.

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 and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope you have been benefiting from our Knowing Jesus series. In the most recent message, Experiencing Jesus in Missional Community (5 of 6), I shared how we’re called to know Jesus together in the church. As the apostle Peter said, we are individual stones that God wants to bring together and fashion into a building that houses the Spirit of God (1 Pet 2:5). Therefore, we need the church if we’re going to follow Jesus. In fact, if we’re not following Jesus with other disciples, we can’t grow in the way Christ intends.

As I said in the sermon, our regular participation in the personal and intimate spaces of the church creates a womb in the church for the Spirit to give birth to new creation. In other words, it’s through close-knit relationships—which have knowing Jesus at the center of them—that we can experience a greater level of church life, even new birth. What a wonderful image! And consider this: Why do we worship on Sunday? Why attend a Learning Community? Why serve on a commission? Why do we work hard to craft meaningful worship services? Why do we care about art, beauty, and liturgy? Why do we care about anything happening in the church? It’s because we’re seeking to know Jesus and make him known. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less.

Having grown up in the church, I admit that it’s easy to lose sight of that. And if you’ve been in the same church for a long time, it’s even more challenging. Therefore, it’s good to re-center ourselves from time to time. Do you need re-centering? Listen, I think community is a great thing. I like singing in worship. I appreciate traditions, history, holy habits, etc. Also, I’m grateful for friendships in the church. But the truth is that these things are ultimately meaningless if knowing Jesus and making him known isn’t at the heart of what we’re about as a church. Instead, it’s when we have a burning passion for the centrality and supremacy of Jesus that the Spirit is able to do all the good the Lord wants to do in us and through us. That is when we really shine! And that’s what our Knowing Jesus series is all about.

I hope you’ll join us this Sunday as we conclude our series with An Invitation to Follow Jesus before baptizing folks down at the creek. It’s going to be a special time together. Until then, as Paul prayed, I pray for you: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19).

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. Join us Wednesday nights for a free meal and time of connection. Our Community Meal begins on September 11 at 5:00 pm and serves as an intersection between the church, college, and greater community. We offer this meal as a reflection of God’s table that’s open and freely available to all. Stop by and meet someone new. Good things happen at the table! Interested in volunteering? Contact Susan Bailey at slb613@verizon.net.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly Email From the Pastor and the Body Life, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org