Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”
It is unbelievable to me that we are getting closer and closer to the end of 2018. So much has happened in the life and ministry of the people of First Church this year. Most notably is the opening of the sanctuary this past August. I love the fact that the sanctuary is becoming more and more “like home” for us in worship on Sunday morning.
As we worship together in such a beautiful and spacious place, it has become more obvious than ever that there is so much more room for others on Sunday morning. Since the rebuilding of the Pepper Building began many years ago, the people of First Church have made many significant and intentional decisions to rebuild and provide space for a large congregation with a very active community of faith.
Over the next year it is going to be essential that we discover together the ways God is leading all of us to focus more on increasing our community of faith than we do on improving and maintaining our buildings and property. This is going to be a challenge, as we are a small congregation with a small staff seeking to oversee the buildings and property of a large church.
The good news for us is that what will be required of us is that we refocus ourselves on the things we, as followers of Jesus, have been called to do from the beginning. God’s primary mission and purpose for the people of First Church has not and will not change. Our mission and purpose is to worship God together and work together in making disciples of those who have not yet experienced a life made new by the grace of God through Jesus.
I recently read about a study by the Pew Research Center on why Americans go to religious services. It was exciting to see that their research showed that the reason those who worship regularly do so is to become closer to God. In fact, the other factors like “being a part of a community of faith,” “comfort in tough times,” “to be a better person,” didn’t even come close to “to become closer to God.”
I believe as we begin to refocus and plan for the future, we need to start there. How can we best provide ourselves and others the opportunity to truly become closer to God? How can we make sure our Sunday worship services are providing what we need to grow closer to God and hear His voice? How can we adapt our programming to making sure we are facilitating growth in our relationship with Christ? How can we even change the way our administrative meetings are structured to help us grow closer to Jesus?
When we increase our efforts to invite others to join us at First Church, will we be inviting them to attend a program or event, or will we be inviting them to join us as we grow closer to God and experience together His Grace in our lives?
Grace and peace,
Andy Rambo, Pastor