Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Advent. Thank you for being a part of our first Advent service this past Sunday. As you know by now, our Advent 2017 series is called Patterns of Light. Our approach to Advent this year is to think about the imagery of light coming into the world through Jesus the Messiah. The first sermon, The Coming of Light (1 of 4), is now available at our website and at our podcast via iTunes.

Normally, I create a sermon series focus and then I work with Geoff Isley and/or a team to design artwork for the series. For this Advent series, we did it the other way around. I wanted to let the stained glass project inspire the sermon series. Thanks again to Geoff Isley, Art Bert, and all those involved in putting together the beautiful stage display. The project itself is a testimony to who we are as a church. I don’t think I’ve said this before, but at Grantham Church we want to embrace art and icons as a part of the liturgy and the worship focus, allowing them to enhance our congregational worship. Therefore, it is deeply spiritual in that it helps us enter into worship together. I hope that was and will be your experience throughout this series. May God inspire us all as we gaze upon the stained glass in our worship services.

Also, I want to thank all of you who attended our annual Congregational Council on Sunday night. I was encouraged by your attendance and participation in an important function of our church life. If you weren’t in attendance, I’m glad to share the results of the election we held to fill six open spots for the 2018 Church Board. The names in bold are the newly elected members of the board:

  1. Justin Weber
  2. Joe Rudy (church treasurer)
  3. Devin Manzullo-Thomas
  4. Joanna Barnhouse (church secretary)
  5. Neil Weaver
  6. Duane Asper
  7. Patti Hess
  8. Art Bert
  9. Roger Sider

Once again, I want to thank Dave Warren, our out-going board chair, for his faithful service over the past 5 years. Dave and the current 2017 board were instrumental in guiding the church through difficult times. I am personally thankful for Dave’s leadership and for the support given by the rest of the board during my arrival and transition as the Senior Pastor of Grantham Church. Their service to the church will not be forgotten. Stay tuned for updates pertaining to the 2018 board. We meet for the first time on Monday evening December 18, which will include the appointment of a new board chair. Thank you for your prayers through this process.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the service this Sunday. We will be having a child dedication ceremony, dedicating three children to the Lord. We will continue to focus on the coming of the light in our worship together. The message this Sunday is called, Stained Glass Souls (2 of 4). Please join us as we consider how the light of Christ comes to shine in us and through us, putting on display his redemptive work of new creation. And then join us again in the afternoon for our annual Children’s Clubs Christmas program, A Star is Born, starting at 3:30 p.m.

May God give you his peace this holiday season.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S.  We were saddened to learn of the passing of Dorothy Schrag this past week. Dorothy was a member of Grantham Church for 67 years, and she played the organ for 16 years. She had been receiving care at Messiah Village for the last few years. Lisa (her daughter) and Ken Sechrist want to extend an invitation to her memorial service this coming Saturday at 11:00 a.m. here at Grantham Church. Thank you for showing them your love and support.

* 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 hope you all had a meaningful Thanksgiving with family and friends. It was a joy to have Lanna’s parents come up from Texas and spend several days with us. They were also with us in the worship service on Sunday. When we got home they kept talking about how warm and friendly you are as a congregation. It blesses me to know that this is a common experience visitors have at Grantham Church. Thank you!

If you were out of town and missed the sermon on Sunday, I preached a message entitled, It’s a Woman’s World Too: A Christ-Centered Case for Women in Ministry. As I said in the sermon, there is a lot to say on this topic, so I tried to put together a message that presented the best evidence for women in ministry. Furthermore, I wanted to help us see the trajectory of freedom and equality in the New Testament. When we’re able to better understand the situation and context of the NT, we can gain quite a bit of clarity on issues and acquire a greater appreciation for the Holy Scriptures. I hope that was something you gleaned from the message.

As always, you can listen online at our website or through our podcast via iTunes. Want to talk about it? I encourage you to go deeper in personal space with your sermon-based small group. Discussion questions are available to guide your group in further study, reflection, and conversation. 

Also, you may want to check out some books in our church library. If you’d like some substantive reading on this topic, here is a suggested reading list:

  • Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry by Tara Beth Leach
  • Why Not Women? A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership by Loren Cunningham, David Joel Hamilton, with Janice Rogers
  • Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul by Craig Keener
  • What’s with Paul & Women: Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2 by Jon Zens

We are entering that time of year when we’re tempted to be pulled away from Christ and lured in to consumerism and frantic living. I want to encourage you to resist the cultural forces that seek to bombard us this holiday season. Thankfully, the church has an excellent way of being intentional with our spiritual formation in the face of these competing forces. What is it? It’s the church calendar.

I was probably in college when I first heard the word “Advent” because the church I grew up in didn’t recognize most of the church calendar or historic liturgy. In my opinion, this has not helped the vast majority of Protestant churches. When we give up life-forming practices in the church and our Christian homes, we make it easier for the world to do the forming of our hearts and minds. The empire then shapes us with its own liturgy, habits, and expectations as citizens. Is it any wonder that we often feel helpless in navigating all the world throws at us? I want to submit to you that there are things we can do to help us keep our focus this holiday season.

I invite you to enter in to the Advent season where we reflect deeply upon the coming of Christ into the world, and not just his arrival in a manger, but also his promise to return and set the world right. How do we do that? You might be able to think of more than these, but here are several things I think we can do: (1) be fully present in congregational worship over the next 4 weeks; (2) fast and/or pray through Advent using something like this or this; (3) use an Advent calendar with your kids; (4) read a good devotional or a book that walks through Advent; (5) listen/sing Advent songs and reflect on his coming, e.g. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen;  (6) practice generous giving to friends and strangers with no strings attached; and (7) intentionally resist the commercialism of Christmas.

What is the Spirit leading you to do this Advent? How is he calling you to take charge of your own spiritual formation?

Please join us this Sunday as we kick off our Advent 2017 series, Patterns of Light. This Advent we will be looking at the biblical motif of Christ and the good news portrayed as light coming into the world. I look forward to worshipping with you. We will be taking communion at the end of the service, as we shift our thoughts to the coming Messiah and God’s promises to renew all things.  See you there!

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,

As you saw on Sunday, we have so much to be thankful for at Grantham Church. We recognized a total of 9 transfers and welcomed 20 new members in our last worship service! That same evening, we shared a church-wide Thanksgiving meal and heard uplifting testimonies from about a dozen people. I was so encouraged to see that we had over half our congregation present for a time of reflection and fellowship.

If you missed the sermon on Sunday, I shared a message entitled, Giving as a Spiritual Discipline. I addressed some common reasons why people are often averse to talking about money in the church, and then went on to show how Jesus and the New Testament has much to say about it. I concluded with 5 principles for giving in the New Testament, and then challenged us to talk with God about giving to the church. Overall, I wanted us to think about giving in terms of discipleship and an expression of our worship. I asked you, “Does your giving communicate your trust in God and your belief in what he’s doing at Grantham Church?” 

As I’ve said before, we’re at a good place at Grantham, but we want to grow and do more as a church (see the Vision 2018summary). In order for us to expand our influence in the community, we would benefit greatly by an increase in regular giving from those who faithfully worship with us. This looks like one of two things: (1) if you have the means, consider increasing your regular tithe; (2) begin tithing any amount on a regular (weekly/bi-weekly/monthly) basis. How is God speaking to you about investing your resources at Grantham?  Will you show your support of our wonderful ministries and your belief in the aspirations of our congregation?

If you are new, or been a long-time member of our church, you may not be aware of all the ways you can give. Here are multiple giving options:

  1. Cash or Check in Offering Plate on Sunday morning
  2. Cash or Check in Depository Door (behind church office door)
  3. Personalized Offering Envelopes (contact Jill Stauffer)
  4. Online Bank Bill Pay (using bank bill pay feature to “push” money to the church)
  5. Online Giving through Church Website (use church giving system to “pull” money from account/credit card)
    1. One-time gift
    2. Recurring gifts
    3. Designated gifts based on offering envelopes PLUS gift card purchases
  6. Text To Give (coming soon!)
  7. Donor-Advised Fund
  8. Qualified Charitable Distribution from IRA
  9. Stock, Bonds, or Mutual Funds

If you have questions about any of these giving options, please contact our Church Administrator, Dan Bisbee. Thank you for prayerfully considering how God wants you to contribute to the mission and vision of your church family in the coming year. May we be willing to sow generously in order that we might reap a bountiful harvest of God’s Kingdom blessings.

Finally, this Sunday I’ll be preaching a message called, It’s a Woman’s World Too: A Christ-Centered Case for Women in Ministry

The gospels reveal that Jesus emancipated first-century women from second-class citizenship in God’s Kingdom story. For Jesus, his radical inclusion of women was in keeping with his overarching ministry to defeat Satan and heal the destructive consequences of the fall. So why have so many in the church failed to accept women as equals? And what about those restrictive verses in Paul’s letters? Did the Apostle Paul believe and teach in accordance with Jesus? Join us this Sunday for another meaningful time of congregational worship as I invite us all to affirm and celebrate our church’s long acceptance of women in ministry.

I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. 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, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

I’m sure of it. My sermon on Sunday was one of the most important messages I have ever delivered. If you missed the service, I want to encourage you to listen to the sermon, Being a Third Way Church.

In this message, I defined what it means to be a “third way” church and invited us to be a congregation that addresses evil and injustices in our world without mixing the gospel with partisan politics. The response I received on Sunday was very affirming that God was at work among us. I look forward to how the Spirit will continue speaking to us in our pursuit of being the Christian difference the world so desperately needs.

Remember, you can find the sermon audio, video, slides, and other resources at our website each week, including small group discussion questions. You can also listen on the go at theGrantham Church Podcast via iTunes. It’s super easy and convenient to listen to sermons new and old on your smart phone. If you haven’t done it already, please subscribe to the podcast and keep up with where we’ve been and where we’re going.

This Sunday is bound to be a special day together. We will be receiving over a dozen people as new members of Grantham Church. I’ll be preaching a message entitled, Giving as a Spiritual Discipline. And then after the sermon we will take communion together. We will come back together for a church-wide Thanksgiving meal at 5:00 p.m. Don’t miss this time of fellowship and giving thanks for what God has done for you and our church family. As I said on Sunday, there will be a time of testimonies and everyone is welcome to share.

As we approach the end of the year, I want to encourage you to maintain (or increase) your financial giving to Grantham Church. You may have noticed in the bulletin that giving this year continues to be well ahead of giving last year. And you will see in your Congregational Council booklet this Sunday that we anticipate this trend will continue through the year and into 2018. So, if our giving continues on that trend, it will ensure that the amounts received exceed the planned expenses for 2017.   

Also, in addition to your financial gifts to the church, this season is an important one in the life of our ministry partners. Therefore, we have already started sharing about opportunities that you can give material donations to our ministry partners (e.g. New Hope, Paxton, Friends Over Fences, etc.) and one of our sister congregations, LAE. Please prayerfully consider how you can bless others through your gifts.

Last week I shared with you that your staff and board are working on our preparedness for an active shooter. As an Anabaptist congregation, this means that we aim to put common sense safety and response measures in place that are in keeping with our mission and core values. Let me assure you that I view safety and security measures like I do wearing a seat belt in the car or having an alarm and a sprinkler system in case of a fire. I’d like to see us put a responsible plan in place that will deter evil and help protect the congregation from senseless violence. I will keep you updated on this process. Thank you for your understanding.

Finally, please join me in praying that we finish this year strong with open hearts to what God is doing and wants to do in our congregation. Continue to “work the spaces” of our church and be intentional in the community life of the congregation, especially as we enter the holiday season. Let’s bring a fitting end to an exciting year of blessing. Press on, brothers and sisters!

And 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,

It’s clear to me that the Holy Spirit is at work in our congregation. We’ve seen God do some exciting things in 2016-2017. We are truly blessed.

Last Wednesday night I shared a bit about where we’ve been and where we’re going in the future. There were about 100 people in attendance for this gathering. Thanks to those who participated and offered feedback in a very encouraging time together. If you missed it, you can now read my transcript for Vision 2018 at our website. You can look forward to having times of sharing like this on more of a regular basis.

I hope you enjoyed hearing from Ryan Keith this past Sunday. Ryan shared about his work with Forgotten Voices and talked to us about seeing evangelism and service as reconciling people to God (2 Cor 5:11-21). If you missed his message, Yearning for Heaven to Earth, you can listen at our website or through the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes.

I’m happy to report that you gave $10,594.01 to our Missions Sunday ingathering offering, which exceeded our goal. Thank you for your generous financial support of these missions initiatives! We will continue receiving gifts toward this offering for the next few weeks. Please use the special Missions Sunday offering envelopes in the pews or write "Missions Sunday" on the memo line of your gift.

For the next three weeks in November, I’ll be addressing some issues immediately relevant to us in this season of church life. Here is where we’re going:

November 12 – Being a Third Way Church
November 19 – Giving as a Spiritual Discipline
November 26 – It’s a Woman’s World Too: A Christ-Centered Case for Women in Ministry

Be sure to mark your calendars for several upcoming events in the life of the church. On November 19, we are planning to introduce you to 17 new church members in the morning service. That evening we will be having a church-wide Thanksgiving Meal beginning at 5:00 pm. There will be a time for testimonies and sharing how thankful we are for what God is doing at Grantham Church. I believe it will be a special time as a church family.

Also, we are getting geared up for our annual Congregational Council on Sunday, December 3 at 6:00 p.m. Council booklets will be available on Nov 19. Please stay tuned for more details.

Finally, as I’m sure you’re all aware, there was another church shooting in our country. It was the worst mass shooting in modern Texas history. Please join me in praying for all those who have been affected by this horrific act of terror. An entire community has been torn apart and will never be the same again. May God help our churches and our leaders to respond in love and action that makes a difference and saves lives.

Dear church, I want you to know that your staff and church board are working to make our facilities as safe as possible, and to put procedures in place that prepare us for a worst-case scenario. We have already been at work in firming up our safety policies and security in our children’s wing, which includes the crosswalk sign in the parking lot. Please help us keep that in place for the safety of our children. Also, I want you to know that we’re taking initial steps to receive consultation from church security experts and law enforcement on what we can do to best protect our church. I will keep you updated on our progress.

Thank you for all that you give and do for our beautiful congregation. Let’s look up and move forward into God’s good future. It’s a blessing to be on the journey with you.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

Email From the Pastor

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Luther-nailing.jpg

On this day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg and started a reform movement that left an indelible mark on the church and the world. This past Sunday, churches around the world remembered the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. If you missed the message, I gave an overview of the history and significance of this event in a sermon entitled, The Emerging Reformation.

As the title suggests, I also invited us to consider what a new reformation might look like in our time, and what I think is already emerging through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I’ve heard my friend Greg Boyd say on multiple occasions that in all of his work around the world he believes God is initiating “a kingdom revolution that will make the Protestant Reformation look like a hiccup” in human history. 

I admit that this gets me excited and makes me nervous all at the same time. As I pointed out in my message, there comes a cost to participate in an event of this magnitude. For the time being, we need not worry and fear what may come, but we should instead draw near to the Lord and be faithful with our lives. And pray that the church will emerge from the refining fire looking more like Christ than ever before.

Most of us sense that changes are needed. But for that “rummage sale” to occur and for the church to enter into a post-Christendom age, we must all repent of where we’ve not let Christ be Lord of our lives, including our misguided perspectives on the Bible, politics, culture, etc. This is hard, I know. There is a reason why Jesus says that the gate is small and the way is “narrow” that leads to life (Matt 7:13-14).

I’m reminded of the Protestant reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, who was only willing to go so far in his ideas of reform. Some of his students, who agreed that the church needed to change, challenged him to let go of the sword and reject the marriage of church and state (Christendom).

Unfortunately, it was too much for him. The imperial church had been operating this way for over a thousand years. Zwingli couldn’t imagine a church that didn’t use the sword and political power to advance her causes. He agreed with his students in almost every way except on this issue, which was a radical idea to be sure.

It was unthinkable for many people. It sounded so extreme and “upside-down” to Zwingli that it kept him from joining his students in their cause. So, they came to an impasse. Those students went on to become the first to be re-baptized and identified as the Swiss Anabaptists. Zwingli, their teacher and brother in Christ, would turn on them and become their enemy for his unwillingness to embrace a peaceable kingdom.

It’s difficult to reexamine our lives, our thinking, and change directions. Especially if we’ve been passionate about the wrong things and lived that way for some time. But we can do it together.

I pray that we’re a church that follows the Spirit wherever he leads us in the future. And may we always uphold the love of God and our neighbor (even our enemies) as the highest law, worthy of our obedience. I encourage you to give this some thought as we remember the Reformation and how we’re being called into a bigger story of God’s eternal purpose through a church that looks like Jesus.

Finally, I want to invite you to join me this Wednesday night at 6:15 p.m. in the sanctuary. As I announced on Sunday, I’d like us to have a casual meeting so that I can share a bit about where we’ve been in the last year and a half, as well as where I believe God wants to take us in the new year. It’s an opportunity for you to hear my heart and for me to hear from you as well. What do you see God doing in our church? What are your hopes and dreams for Grantham? I hope you can join us after Eat & Run for a brief time of sharing what God is doing in our congregation.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S.  Missions Sunday 2017 – Don’t forget that this Sunday is our annual Missions Sunday. We will start our day with a special combined Learning Community at 9:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall and return to the Fellowship Hall for a meal after the worship service. Please take some time this week to prayerfully consider what you might give during our special Ingathering Offering to support 5 missions initiatives: Forgotten Voices, youth ministry & theological training in Spain, Tony & Veronica Beers, and our missionaries – Liza H, Bruce & Merly Bundy, and Jonathan & Becky Owen.

* 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