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,
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