Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

We’re in the second week of Advent and we’re continuing to reflect on how God is Coming to us. This past Sunday we looked at Signs of Peace (2 of 4), focusing on the lectionary texts where Malachi prophecies about the coming of a messenger who will prepare the way for the Messiah, and where Luke reveals that messenger to be John the Baptist, forerunner to Jesus. If you missed the message, I encourage you to listen/watch at our website or via our podcast. Also, be inspired by Bill and Becky Probst’s story that we heard right before the sermon.

As we look around the world today, it’s clear that we’re lacking the peace of the Kingdom. And it’s easy to say the reason for that is because of this thing or that person, but Advent calls us to look within ourselves and repent of our own sins, because repentance is where peace begins. So, I encouraged us on Sunday to repent (metanoia), which literally means to change your mind. If we’re going to make space and “prepare the way” for God to come to us, we must ready our hearts to receive him by first opening up our hearts to God, which requires our willingness to change.

As you continue to live into Advent, consider where God wants you to change your mind. Where does God want you to open your heart for more of his life in you? Also, how is God calling you to see signs of hope and peace in you and around you? I invite you to write those things down or to say them out loud. You can even share that with your spouse, a parent, or a friend. Let’s live into these things together.

Finally, I hope you will join us for worship this Sunday. We will sing songs of the season, hear another story of God at work, and be sharing in communion together. Also, Pastor Kelly will be preaching on Signs of Joy (3 of 4). It’s bound to be another encouraging service that helps us enter into God’s presence and see how God’s light is shining in the darkness.

May God richly bless you this week as you walk in the Spirit and seek to be faithful to Jesus in all things.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  As I said at our recent Congregational Council meeting, we will be suspending Eat & Run this coming spring. After a great deal of thought and prayer, we believe that we need to do this for the following reasons: (1) Erma Hoover is stepping down after many years of service; (2) We believe God is calling us to rest from our work in this area and allow some space for his Spirit to work; (3) We need time to reimagine a community meal apart from Wednesday night programs that connects more with our neighbors—a part of our effort to be more missional. While we do have a volunteer(s) who is willing to take on leadership of a community meal, we still think it’s necessary to take a short break and relaunch a community meal at a later time, most likely Fall 2019.

Furthermore, we are working to fill other roles that relate to ongoing hospitality needs of our church (e.g. Sunday morning coffee/snacks, Sunday lunches, fellowship meals for funerals, etc.), which Erma helped to make possible. In the meantime, I’d like to invite those who are interested to be a part of an Eat & Run Exploratory Conversation on Thursday, February 7. Please mark your calendars for that meeting. More info to come at the first of next year. Thank you for your patience and your prayers as we discern how God is leading in 2019. I believe this process will be good for our church and for all those who will be impacted by this ministry in the future.

* 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,

We are now in the first week of the Advent season. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for signs of hope. That’s what I encouraged us to do in the first sermon of our series, God is Coming. If you missed the message, Signs of Hope (1 of 4), you can listen/watch at our website or at the Grantham Church Podcast via iTunes.

As I said in the sermon, it’s important that we acknowledge the darkness around us, but it’s also good for us to see how the light is already piercing the darkness in our world. Remember, if we only look at the darkness and focus on what is wrong, we will not be able to live with the hope, peace, joy, and love of Advent. The Lord does not want us to live in darkness. So, this is worth practicing this week.

As I’m sure there are things about yourself, our church, and our world that you believe are not as they should be, it’s helpful for us to put things into perspective by acknowledging the things that are good—the evidence that God is coming. This ought to prompt us to be thankful for his mercy and grace upon us. I hope you will allow the Spirit to minister to you in this way through the Advent season.

This coming Sunday we will be focusing on the Advent theme of peace. We will once again sing songs of the season, light the Advent candle, and hear from persons in our congregation share how God has been at work in their life, as a sign of his coming. I will share with you a message entitled, Signs of Peace. We will also be taking some time in the service to consecrate our deacons for ministry in 2019. I hope you will join us for another robust and meaningful service that both challenges and inspires us to be children of the light.

Finally, if you missed Congregational Council, I wanted to let you know that we voted on and confirmed four new board members for next year: Dan Alonso, Rebekah Basinger, Patti Hess, and Dave Warren as treasurer. Please welcome all of these new members and thank them for their willingness to serve. And join me in thanking Justin Weber for his many years of service on the board! Early next year we plan to dedicate a page of our website to the 2019 Church Board where you will be able to see who all is on the board, including their pictures, their role on the board, and their contact info.

Also, stay tuned for a link to the audio of the Reflections & Vision I shared at council. We will be sure to include the council minutes as well.

Thanks to all those who attended council this year. I was greatly encouraged by the intergenerational turnout. I also appreciated the helpful feedback and comments that were given in response to upcoming changes and ongoing discernment concerning the future. May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we remain humble, hopeful, and believe the best about one another.

Have a great week. See you this Sunday!

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S.  Interested in hearing an inspiring story of hope by a visiting pastor from Africa? Dr. Sunday Agang lost his pastor and other friends to violence in Nigeria by Muslim extremists, yet he now leads an organization that has brought peace to the region by assisting both Muslim and Christian families. He wrote one of the books recommended for our upcoming January focus, No More Cheeks to Turn? He will be sharing his story at an informal lunch at the church on Tuesday, December 11 at 12 noon. If you are interested in attending, please contact Rich Stuebing (rwstuebing@gmail.com).

* 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,

Advent officially begins this Sunday! As I said in my most recent message, let’s leave some space for God to speak to our hearts during this special time of year.

The sanctuary has been decorated for the holiday season and we’re preparing for a meaningful sermon series called, God is Coming. If you didn’t grow up in a congregation that followed the church calendar, Advent is the season that Christians anticipate the coming of Christ and his Kingdom on the earth—first when he came in a lowly manger, but also when he will come again in the future. This means that we live in the middle of two comings. We refer to this in-between time as “the already, but not yet” of the Kingdom of God.

In our Advent 2018 series, God is Coming, we will reflect on what biblical scholars call inaugurated eschatology, and celebrate the signs that the Kingdom is already in our midst. On top of inspiring worship and encouraging sermons, we will also be hearing testimonies of how God is at work in the lives of people in our congregation. Please join us for worship over the next four weeks as we take this hopeful journey toward Christmas. This Sunday morning we will kick off the series by dedicating 10 babies/children and turning our thoughts to the hope God is bringing into a world that so desperately needs it.

This Sunday evening at 6:00 pm is our end-of-year Congregational Council meeting. The church staff and board are happy to report that we are not only on a trajectory to exceed our budgeted expenses for the year, but we will be presenting a balanced budget for 2019. Please come ready with any questions you have before we vote on various items, including the election of new board members.

As you will see on the agenda in your council booklet, I will be sharing some reflections on where we’ve been in 2018 and where I see us going in 2019. 
Here are a few things I’ll be addressing:

  1. Our progress in 2018 and the exciting things God has done/is doing.

  2. 2018 additions and changes to staff (see Org Chart on pg. 27)

  3. Being more missional/incarnational as a church, less attractional (program-driven)

  4. Where is God at work? Where is the wind of his Spirit blowing?

  5. Changes for 2019 – suspending Eat & Run and cancelling Wednesday night programs; focus energy on Sunday ministries and being more missional during the week

Since our mid-year council 6 months ago, there has been a great deal of prayer, thoughtful reflection, conversation, and consultation (e.g. among church staff, church board, volunteers, other pastors, our bishop, etc.) that has happened around our current “program-driven” model of ministry, a process that I mentioned at our last council meeting would be happening this year. Many things have changed in America within the past 10-20 years, and it has become clear to church leadership that it’s time to adjust our approach to ministry as a growing church living within a post-Christian culture.

Therefore, I’ll be sharing about the changes we believe that needs to be made regarding Wednesday programming, as well as the process, reasoning, and our intentions to become more missional and incarnational in our approach to ministry. You will also have a chance to hear from other staff and board members about this process. We expect that you may have some questions related to this change, which is totally understandable. Please bring any questions and concerns you might have to the council meeting and we can talk about it together as a church family.

Finally, let me just say that our staff and board are really excited about where we are as a church and where we’re going. We’re in a great place as a congregation and we know that God wants us to continue growing and moving with his Spirit into his good future. We are finishing this year with much to celebrate and reasons to be hopeful about the future. Thank God for pouring out his grace on Grantham Church.

I look forward to seeing you at church this Sunday morning and then again at Congregational Council. May God continue to bless our church as we seek to be faithful to his leading in our lives.

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 was such a joy to worship with you this past Sunday. We celebrated the great things God has been doing at Grantham Church through song, testimonies, and receiving 34 new members into our church family! If you didn’t hear the four testimonies and Pastor Kelly’s closing prayer of thanksgiving, I’d like to encourage you to check out our Thanksgiving Service on our website or via our podcast. We have much to be thankful for this year, and so it is good for us to praise God together and be reminded of the sanctifying work the Spirit does through the local church.

This coming Sunday marks a week before the Advent season. Like the season of Lent, which leads to Easter, Advent also calls us to ready our hearts for what is to come on Christmas Day. While this time of year has its challenges for all of us, I especially love it for how our hearts are softened and we’re able to encounter the Spirit in a fresh, powerful way. Do you know what I mean? It’s almost like you can feel the Holy Spirit in the brisk winter air—in our homes, in our conversations, and in the songs of the season. I think the whole world is more sensitive to God’s Spirit during Advent/Christmas.

Therefore, I’ll be inviting us to prepare for Advent by looking at Christ’s call for his disciples to resist the cultural forces around us that seek to shape us into the mold of the world. In my opinion, this is one of the greatest challenges we face today as Americans: saying “no” to things that aren’t good for us (or are of lesser importance) so that we can say “yes” to the Kingdom. Learning to say no to the world so we can follow Jesus is a vital part of being a disciple. It requires grit, resolve, and discipline. That’s what I want to share with you this Sunday in a message called, Saying No for God’s Sake.

Also, we will conclude the service with communion. I hope you’ll join us as we prepare to enter the Advent season.

As was announced on Sunday, you should all have a Congregational Council booklet by now. You will notice that we have not included ministry reports in the booklet. Our Church Board recently decided to designate our end-of-year council to planning for 2019, and include 2018 reports at our next council meeting, probably early next year. A later meeting will allow us to better reflect on a completed year, as well as make any adjustments needed moving forward.

Stay tuned for more to come regarding this two-council process in our meeting on Sunday, December 2 at 6:00 pm in the sanctuary.

Finally, I wanted to inform you that Julia Johnson is stepping down from her role as Operations Assistant. We have been so blessed to have Julia working with us in the office for the past 2 years, but she feels God is calling her to do some local ministry (e.g. working with the homeless, serving in the FOF closet, leading Bible studies in prison, etc.) which requires her attention in the mornings during office hours. Julia and her family will continue to worship and serve alongside us at Grantham, and she and Dwayne are particularly excited about serving as deacons in the new year. Please express your appreciation for Julia’s service and dedication to our congregation. We will be posting a job opening for the position of Facility Assistant this week on our website and various other places online. Thank you for your prayers as we fill this important role.

May you all have a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. I look forward to worshipping with you this Sunday.

Grace & Peace,
Pastor David

P.S. There will be a brief reception after the service this Sunday to celebrate Erma Hoover’s 20+ years of faithful service in hospitality at Grantham Church. Erma is retiring from her leadership role in the church kitchen. Please join us for fellowship and refreshments in the church lobby as we express our sincere gratitude for our sister in Christ.

* 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 have felt a real sense of God’s presence in our services over the past few weeks. And as I said last Sunday, we have much to be thankful for as the people of God.

If you missed the service, the message was on The Power of Thankfulness. According to recent studies, America isn't a very happy place to be, as people's sense of well-being is at an all-time low. People are fearful, angry, depressed, discontented, and lacking purpose in life. Therefore, followers of Jesus need to be reminded of the full life that he promises in John 10:10.

If we’re going to access the peace that surpasses all understanding, it’s helpful to know that the Bible and recent neuroscience indicates that practicing gratitude can help us do that. Which is why I encouraged us to live into thankfulness by suggesting one or more of these practices:

  1. Thank God each time you pray

  2. Express thankfulness with friends and family

  3. Make it a practice to thank others

  4. Journal (write down a few things you’re thankful for each day)

  5. Reduce judgment (constant criticism doesn’t allow for gratitude)

  6. Practice mindfulness (be still & present – experience gratitude)

As I said at the end of the service, scientists say it takes at least 12 minutes of meditation and prayer for it to have any real impact on your brain. Meaning, that if you will practice this on a regular basis, you will experience peace and calm in your mind, body, and soul.

This is what it’s like to practice mindfulness: talk to God, give thanks, and also sit with your thoughts (Philippians 4:4-9) for an extended period of time. If you have a hard time sitting still, at first it might feel unbearable, but keep working at it. I submit to you that our resistance to it is evidence that we need it. So, give it a try. Set a timer and start with 5 minutes. Do that for a week. Each week add a minute or two until you reach 12 minutes, and see if God doesn’t bless you.

We will continue with this season of thankfulness with a Thanksgiving Service this Sunday. There won’t be a sermon this Sunday, but instead we will get to hear from multiple people in our congregation. They will all express how God has been at work in their life through Grantham Church. This will be a good reminder of how beneficial it is to be an active member of God’s family. We will also be having a brief ceremony of reception for new members and celebrating the new additions to our congregation. I hope you can join us this Sunday.

Finally, I want to encourage you to attend our Congregational Council on Sunday, December 2 at 6:00 pm. We have had a great year at Grantham and we’re excited to report what God has done through you, and share where we see the Spirit leading us in 2019. I’ll be sharing some reflections and vision for the coming year, and give you an opportunity to respond. We will also be electing new board members and… wait for it… approving a balanced budget for 2019!

Thank you for your faithfulness in giving of your time, talents, and treasure. We are on a solid trajectory not only to meet budget for 2018, but to exceed it. The church board has just approved an approach for how we will continue investing in ministry initiatives if giving exceeds our actual expenses for the year. Your recent responses to our congregational financial survey were helpful to us in that conversation. Thank you for your input! We’re excited to share more details with you at council.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we seek to make disciples who make disciples, and believe that love will prevail.

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,

Can you believe we are fast-approaching the holidays? This week in our staff meeting, I described this time of year like being at the top of a roller coaster just before it starts its decent. Ready or not, here it comes!

Do you have a plan for how you will resist the cultural forces that will demand more from you than you and your family can give? If not, give that some careful thought. Let’s consider how God would have us enter into Thanksgiving and Advent/Christmas in pursuit of the Spirit, who wants us to know the peace and rest of Christ.

This past Sunday I preached a message entitled, Leaving a Legacy of Faith, based on Hebrews 11. It was such a blessing to hear all the names of the faithful that were called out during the sermon. If you missed it, you can hear the congregation’s response in the video of the message. Thank you for helping to make the worship service so meaningful.

This coming Sunday I will be asking us to reflect on The Power of Thankfulness. While there is much in this world that we can worry and complain about, we are called to be a thankful people. I’m excited about sharing how Jesus and the New Testament invites us to experience an abundant life by giving thanks, and that recent neurological studies confirm how truly life-changing thankfulness can be for those who will focus their attention on the blessings of life, instead of those things that rob us of inner peace and joy.

Also, please join us on Sunday, November 18 for our Thanksgiving Service. We will get to hear from multiple folks within the congregation who have been recently impacted in some way by the people and ministries of Grantham Church. Don’t miss out in this special service as we give thanks for all that God has done and is doing in our church family this year.

Are you over-flowing with thankfulness about what God has been doing at Grantham? I want to encourage you to take a moment and share your story with Pastor Kelly at kchripczuk@granthamchurch.org. She is collecting your thankful thoughts for the service on November 18. Help us make this service meaningful as we give thanks together.

Mark your calendars and please stay tuned for more information regarding these upcoming events in the life of our church:

  • Sunday, November 25  –  Communion 

  • Sunday, December 2    –  Beginning of Advent Sermon Series & Child Dedication in
                                              worship service
                                              End-of-year Congregational Council at 6 PM

  • Sunday, December 9    –  Deacon Consecration
                                              Children’s Christmas Program at 3 PM

  • Sunday, December 16  –  Communion

  • Friday, December 21    –  Lessons & Carols at 6:30 PM

  • Sunday, December 23  –  4th Sunday of Advent (Before Christmas)

  • Monday, December 24  –  Christmas Eve Service at 6:30 PM

May God continue to bless our congregation as we seek to finish the year well, for the glory of Christ and his 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