Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

At our church board retreat last Saturday morning, one of the things I said to our amazing group of leaders is that I’m not interested in novelty for novelty’s sake. I think when you’ve been in the church for many years, especially the same church, it can at times feel like leadership just changes things to be trendy. I don’t deny that this sort of thing happens in some churches, but that’s not what motivates me or the rest of your pastoral staff. Part of being a “convergent” church means that we embrace the rich history of Christianity and many meaningful traditions of the church, as far as they can be integrated with modern forms of worship and emerging ministries that seek to be sensitive to the ongoing work of the Spirit, who calls us to continue growing as disciples of Jesus in 2019.

So, instead of doing whatever is hip and trendy, what we want to do is be intentional in responding to the changing world around us. Any congregation that wants to be a Great Commission church (Matt 28:18-20), must recognize that there comes a time for the church to recontextualize the gospel, so that the Body of Christ continues to be relevant and effective in ministering to the world around them. In other words, we want to adjust our language, our worship, and our ministry practices to meet the needs of our community (in and outside the church), and respond in a timely fashion to the moving of God’s Spirit in our post-Christian culture.

That’s why you’ve heard me say we need to be more missional, that we need to work all of the spaces in the church, and that we’re living into being intergenerational, convergent, and third way. All of these things (and more) are a part of what I see God doing to recontextualize the gospel among us and sharpen our focus on where the Spirit is leading us in the future.

As we journey down that road together, it’s important to note that this trajectory we’re on certainly has some to do with why we must address difficult topics from the pulpit. This past Sunday I preached a message entitled, Dealing with Depression. Not only are many people struggling with depression and mental illness today, but it’s not something we usually hear talked about in churches. And as difficult as it was for me to deliver, I’m sure it was even more challenging for some people to hear. It’s encouraging to know that several people will be seeking professional help as a result of the message. Praise God! Please join me in praying for all those who are walking in the darkness.

Furthermore, if you’re interested in reading a book for continued study and growth, I encourage you to check out, Troubled Minds: Mental Illness and the Church’s Mission.

I confess to you that I’m particularly sensitive to (i.e. “tuned in”) to constant criticisms that the Church (big C) is silent on some of the most pressing issues of our day. I’m determined to see our church be the difference the world needs to see in us, and what other Christians are longing for in a community of faith: a church that looks like Jesus. I’m grateful for your support as we remind ourselves and our neighbors that the gospel is still relevant today. Jesus was not afraid to challenge the status quo, expose religious hypocrisy, humanize the marginalized, and address difficult topics—all for the sake of binding up the brokenhearted and setting captives free. I appreciate your prayers and support as we seek to embody the good news that Jesus is alive and that the Kingdom is coming.

Finally, I hope you can join us this Sunday for a special worship service. United Voices of Praise (the Gospel Choir of Messiah College) will be leading us in an uplifting time of worship. We have asked Eric Byrd and UVP to come and inspire us with passionate worship from the black gospel tradition! I will not be preaching this Sunday, but we will still have a few standard worship elements in the service. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to worship alongside UVP. Come and be filled with hope and encouragement as we worship Jesus together in the sanctuary. 

Until then, may the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you his peace.

Your Partner in Ministry,
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 slight bump in worship attendance this past Sunday. Our learning communities are going strong and folks aren’t letting the colder weather keep them from gathering with the Body of Christ for corporate worship. It’s a wonderful thing when we don’t want to miss gathering regularly because of what God is doing in our church. Every Sunday carries with it a special blessing as we stay committed to Christ and to one another. I believe we’re seeing Spirit-generated momentum building in 2019. Let’s continue to be alert and active in the faith as we imagine greater things together.

If you missed the sermon, or you’d like to listen again and/or share it, this past Sunday I delivered a message called, Dealing with Anger. It’s a topic that touches us all in one way or another. I hope you were challenged and encouraged by the preaching of Numbers 20:1-13, and by the personal stories I shared. As I said in the message, it’s important to be intentional in dealing with anger. For some, it may mean that you begin by talking to a trusted family member, friend, or a pastor. For others, it may mean reading some books on the topic and/or seeking professional counseling. Whatever God would have you do, remember that his Spirit is there to guide you in getting the help and healing that you need. Let’s walk with God and each other, church. That’s how we grow!

This coming Sunday I will be addressing an even more difficult topic, as I share a message entitled, Dealing with Depression. Not only is this topic relevant for our congregation, it has been an issue that the broader church has unfortunately neglected or mishandled too often in the past. Please pray for me as I prepare to share how the Bible speaks to the issue, where recent psychological studies/practices can help, and offer suggestions on what to do if you’re depressed or you’re walking with someone who is. Despite the heavy nature of the topic, I do believe the service will be uplifting and empowering. I hope you’ll come prepared to receive a blessing, and also ready to be a blessing to others.

Finally, I’m happy to report that the Peace Sunday Offering closed at a total of $7,942.14. Thank you for giving with all of your heart! It is obvious that you benefited from our Peacemakers series last month, and that you care deeply about the three projects we gave to this year. May we continue to faithfully give of our time, talents, and treasure (money), as we join with the Spirit in making disciples and expanding the Kingdom here at Grantham Church and beyond.

To God be the glory for the great things he has done and is doing in our church family.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Two more quick things: (1) The Church Board is taking a mini retreat this Saturday morning, so please pray for all of us as we meet and discern how God is leading this year; and (2) the Eat & Run Exploratory Conversation last Thursday night went very well. I believe we all caught a glimpse of where God might be moving us with a community meal in the near future. Our next meeting to continue the conversation will be held on Thursday, February 28 at 6:30 in C8-12.

* 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’re having a great week. Thanks for taking the time to read the weekly email.

This past Sunday I shared a message entitled, God’s Good Future. We looked at some of the Exodus story and the role Moses played in it. We also saw how the “golden calf” episode (Exod. 32) sent Moses over the edge. God was fed up with the stubborn hearts of his people, so much so that he told Moses he wouldn’t be going with them to the Promised Land. This set us up to read Exodus 33:12-17, where Moses talks to God about his presence going with them. To our surprise, God changed his mind and Moses exhibited not only a dependency upon God’s presence moving forward, but also a heart for the people.

From this story, I challenged us to consider how we can’t live in the past, or keep looking back as the Hebrews did, forgetting that the past wasn’t without its problems. Nor should we imagine a good future without reliance up the Spirit to get us there. Our optimism and hope comes from living in the present and knowing that we’re dependent upon God’s power and presence for today. As Jesus said, tomorrow will take care of itself (Matt 6:34). We must live into the Kingdom now, and see that this is where God meets us and invites us to join him in the shaping of human history.

I want to encourage you this week to find your “Tent of Meeting” as Moses did. Be still and know that God is present and able to help you in your time of need. As Moses heard the Lord say while being in his presence, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin” (Exod. 34:6-7). We are loved by God. And Jesus does not leave us alone as orphans, he will come to us if we will welcome him in to our life and seek his help for the journey.

This Sunday we will pick back up with Moses’ story in the book of Numbers. In Numbers 20:1-13, Moses disobeys God and once again lets his temper get the better of him. This time it has serious consequences, and it reminds us that anger acted upon in the flesh is harmful, and can eventually disqualify us from the blessings of God.  I hope you can join us for worship as I preach a sermon called, Dealing with Anger. I’ll start by preaching to myself this Sunday (which is often the case), but I’m willing to bet that the Spirit will speak to all of us in one way or another.

Finally, I want to remind you that this Sunday is the last opportunity to give to Peace Sunday Offering. Next week we will be sending our gifts on to three projects: (1) the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (EMU); (2) Zambia Peace Clubs; (3) the Peacemakers Workshop on April 27 at Grantham Church.

May God continue to bless our congregation as we are intentional about faithfully following Jesus as a church family. Stay connected to the Lord and each other. I’ll see you 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,

It is getting cold outside! Please stay warm and safe over the next 48 hours.

Did you miss any of our January Peacemakers series? If so, you can find all of the sermons in the series at our website or at the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes. Shane Claiborne concluded the series this past Sunday with a powerful message called, Blessed are the Peacemakers (4 of 4). Shane’s words in the Learning Community and at the lunch/Q&A were challenging and inspiring.

As I have been reflecting on the Peacemakers series, there are a few things that stand out to me that I’d like our congregation to put into regular practice: (1) We need to seek out friendships with those whom we disagree; (2) We need to listen to people’s stories (e.g. “Tell me why you feel/believe that way?”); (3) We need to always remember that there are real people (with their own story) on the receiving end of our words, so be slow to speak and quick to listen.

Each week in our series, we were reminded the Jesus calls us to love those made in God’s image, which includes our neighbors and our enemies. I pray that we will be the sort of congregation that exudes that love and puts into practice all of the helpful wisdom we received in our series. May we be known by our love as we make room at the table for everyone who would come. Our community needs to see us model this in our church, for such a time as this. I’m confident we’re on this path together. And I’m hopeful about the future of Grantham Church.

Please join us this Sunday for the kick off of our spring learning communities and another meaningful time of corporate worship. I’ll be sharing the results of our Peace Sunday Offering and preaching a sermon called, God’s Good Future. I’ll invite us to consider why I think our best days are not behind us (i.e. “good old days”), but in front of us, if we will deepen our trust in God for his good future—for our lives, our church, and our world. I’ll be preaching from Exodus 33:12-17. We will close the service by sharing in communion together.

Also, we are unveiling our new bulletin design this Sunday! As I said last week, we have adopted a clean and simple look that will be attractive to visitors (warm and inviting) and helpful for our intergenerational congregation. You will notice a few changes, but the biggest change you’ll see is that we have removed all of the announcements. We have done this for two primary reasons: (1) We have put together a bulletin that is focused on the worship service; (2) We wanted to consolidate all of our announcements into one “go to” place for what’s happening in our church.

So, where can you find out about all of the ministries and opportunities to get involved at Grantham Church? We’re calling it the Body Life. Sound familiar? Grantham has had this before, but this time it’s a little different. The “Body Life” can be found below my weekly email/letter. In addition to our website, we’re encouraging you to get all of your information from this digital form of communication.

For those who don’t have email, who would like a hard copy, or who are visiting with us, there will be a few copies (print out) of the Body Life at our Information Centers, located at each entrance to our building. We’re certain that his new Body Life will save us time, energy, and paper. And it will simplify the way you receive information from the church office. Thank you for moving with us in this new direction!

May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we seek to contextualize the gospel and adapt our ministry practices for this unique time in our history.

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,

It’s been an inspiring month at Grantham Church! Osheta Moore was with us this past Sunday. Osheta shared a practical message called, We Will Tell Better Stories, message 3 of 4 in our Peacemakers series. I’m so glad that we were able to meet at our regular times and benefit from Osheta’s ministry.

Thankfully, the winter weather wasn’t as bad as they had predicted. We were anticipating the worst, so I took the opportunity on Saturday morning to sit down with Osheta and have a 50-minute conversation about being peacemakers via social media, email, text, etc. If you missed the Learning Community or the Worship Service, we cover all of her content AND MORE in our podcasted conversation. You can listen to my interview with Osheta at our website or through the Grantham Church Podcast on iTunes.

This coming weekend is Peace Sunday and it will be the conclusion of our Peacemakers series. As you know by now, Shane Claiborne will be our special guest speaker. Shane Claiborne is a prominent speaker, activist, and best-selling author. Shane worked with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, and founded The Simple Way in Philadelphia. He heads up Red Letter Christians, a movement of folks who are committed to living as if Jesus meant the things he said. Shane will challenge and inspire us with his stories of how peace-making changes the world around us. You’re not going to want to miss this!

Shane will be sharing his personal story (“From Evangelical Fundamentalist to Neo-Anabaptist Activist”) in the combined Learning Community at 9:00 am. Because we’re expecting a slightly larger crowd, the Learning Community will be held in the fellowship hall. Shane will be preaching in the Worship Service at 10:30 am, a message entitled, Blessed are the Peacemakers: Reimagining the Church as Ministers of Reconciliation. Immediately following the service, you’re invited to join us for lunch and Q&A with Shane in the fellowship hall.

Don’t forget that we will be receiving our annual Peace Sunday Offering following Shane’s message in the service. This year the offering is being split between three projects: (1) the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) at Eastern Mennonite University; (2) Peace Clubs in Zambia; (3) and a Peacemakers Workshop with Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, which will be held here at Grantham Church on Saturday, April 27. You will hear more about the workshop this Sunday. You will also receive a bulletin insert with a brief summary of each of these projects.

Our Peace Sunday Offering goal this year is $3,000. I’m confident that we can reach that goal and help further peace-making locally and around the world. Thank you for prayerfully considering what God would have you to give to this special offering. Peace Sunday envelopes will be in the pews and ready for you to use when you come to worship, if you’d like to give that way.

Finally, two weeks ago I shared that we have been working on a new bulletin design and would be unveiling that on Sunday, February 3. After listening to what our church values in a bulletin, and after considering past iterations of the bulletin, the pastoral staff has worked with Lisa Mays, our Communications Director, in putting together a bulletin that we feel is warm, inviting, and easy to read. Lisa, who has expertise in designing church bulletins and brochures, has helped us to create a clean and simple look that will be attractive to visitors, and helpful for our intergenerational congregation. I’m really excited about this new design, and I believe that you will be happy with it as well. Next week I’ll share about the biggest change we’re making with the bulletin and what you can expect to see on Feb 3.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. Our church family is working to provide assistance to those impacted by the federal government shutdown. If you wish to help with these efforts, please consider making a donation to the Deacon Fund via the offering on Sunday or by giving online. Please continue to pray for those impacted. When one of us suffers, we all suffer. Thank you for your 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’ve already been encouraged and challenged by our Peacemakers series. This past Sunday we heard from Dave Brubaker, a leader in helping churches and organizations work through their differences and pursue peace together. You can listen or watch Dave’s message, Dealing with Difference in the Body of Christ (2 of 4), at our website, or at the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes. You can also view his slides from the 9:00 Learning Community under Worship Resources. Dave offered practical steps in navigating disagreements we encounter in our relationships. Helpful stuff!

In the worship service we watched a video of the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University. This is the first of three ministries that our Peace Sunday Offering will help support this year. You will be introduced to the second ministry this Sunday during the offering. Next week I’ll be sharing the last of the three in a summary of how our ingathering offering will help further peacemaking near us and around the world. This summary will help you come prepared for how God is calling you to give on Peace Sunday, January 27.

This Sunday we have another guest speaker with us! Osheta Moore, Outreach and Teaching Pastor at Woodland Hills Church, and author of Shalom Sistas (Herald Press), will be sharing in the 9:00 am Learning Community (Not Your Typical Peacemaker), and then again at 10:30 am in the Worship Service. In a message entitled, We Will Tell Better Stories, Osheta will challenge us to use the internet and social media for peacemaking and furthering the Kingdom of God. How do keep from adding to the noise? How do we rise above the vitriol and the outrage? Osheta intends to reveal steps that move us forward.

Once again, let me encourage you to be intentional in how you’re applying this series to your personal life and your relationships. Some of our sermon-based small groups are already meeting this month and using the discussion questions (provided with each sermon at the website) to dive deeper. That’s a good way to respond, but you can also find other ways to engage with the content. You could meet with a trusted friend or a group of friends for conversation over coffee, talk to your spouse and/or family members about what you’re thinking, pray about it, reflect and meditate on relevant Scriptures while listening to this moving song, meet with a member of our pastoral staff, follow up with deeper study/research/reflection, etc.

Remember, God is always speaking. If we want to experience the fullness of his life, we must listen and respond in obedience, aligning ourselves with his good and perfect will for our lives. I hope you’ll join me in drawing closer to Christ in our Peacemakers series, so that we can be used to bring more of heaven to earth. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to grow into the people God’s called us to be.

May God bless you this week as you live into being peacemakers in an age of outrage.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  As you know, this past weekend we saw some wintry weather, and it’s very possible that we may see a more intense storm this coming weekend. Please stay tuned to your email, our website, and social media for an announcement related to the worship service on Sunday. If we have to cancel the morning, the office will be letting you know as soon as we’re able to make that call, likely on Saturday afternoon/evening. Also, if we have to cancel the service, we will find a way to get the content for the Learning Community and the sermon to you so that we can all benefit from Osheta’s ministry.

* 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