What can I say about this past Sunday at Grace Church? Well, a lot to be honest with you. We continued our journey through the 40 Days of Community. Yesterday, the sermon was about Connecting Together. Basically, we are wired for relationships and we should do whatever we can to not miss opportunities to connect. I read an article stating that if someone attends worship service once a month, that defines them as a regular attendee. REALLY??? In our entertainments starved culture, people want to come on a Sunday (when they feel it is conveinant) and be entertained by a band and speaker. Well, at Grace we have a different definition and vision. Our vision is that people are not entertained, but have an encounter with Jesus Christ on Sunday, and desire to connect every Sunday to celebrate the Risen Christ! So we are defining a fully connected person by what we are calling “The Big 3:”
- Connecting in worship: we define regular attendance is 3 out of 4 Sunday’s
- Connecting in a group: the early church met in the Temple and homes and God used them to start a revolution that continues today. Grace needs to be growing larger and smaller at the same time. It is our vision that we see at least 90% of people connect in a Connect Group and that we have groups meeting every day of the week, at various times, and in a wide range of communities.
- Connecting in service: more about this in a couple of weeks.
Some may think that this is a tall order, but our scripture passage of the day states, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV). The word for “stir” means “to irritate” this means we need to irritate each other toward love and we cannot do this alone. Now, we recognize that not all people are ready to be fully connected. That’s OK, just take one step at a time but do not neglect taking those steps to become fully connected.
As I was about to close the first service, Kelly and I were surprised by several gifts by the congregation for Pastors appreciation month. It was fitting that we learned that we need to connect to each other and we were given such gifts of love and encouragement. I told both services, that before we came to Grace, Kelly and I were ready to throw in the towel on church all together, but the Grace Family restored our confidence in the local church. I cannot express how grateful I am for this. THANK YOU Grace Church Family.
In closing, I want to share something I read in the sermon yesterday. That is Article 28 of the Belgic Confession:
Article 28: The Obligations of Church Members
We believe that
since this holy assembly and congregation
is the gathering of those who are saved
and there is no salvation apart from it,
people ought not to withdraw from it,
content to be by themselves,
regardless of their status or condition.
But all people are obliged
to join and unite with it,
keeping the unity of the church
by submitting to its instruction and discipline,
by bending their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ,
and by serving to build up one another,
according to the gifts God has given them
as members of each other
in the same body.
And to preserve this unity more effectively,
it is the duty of all believers,
according to God’s Word,
to separate themselves
from those who do not belong to the church,
in order to join this assembly
wherever God has established it,
even if civil authorities and royal decrees forbid
and death and physical punishment result.
all who withdraw from the church
or do not join it
act contrary to God’s ordinance.