This is Church.

Church FamilyChurch is not a location; it is a gathering of believers who seek to encourage one another’s faith through their gifts. This mutual, spiritual exchange is often marked by the phrase “one another” in the Bible.

We can do “one another-ing” in many ways: Love one another (John 15:17) Honor one another (Romans 12:10) Live in harmony (Romans 12:16) Welcome one another (Romans 15:7) Instruct one another (Romans 15:14) Care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25) Comfort one another (2 Corinthians 13:11) Agree with one another (2  Corinthians 13:11) Serve one another (Galatians 5:13) Bearing with one another (Ephesians 4:2) Be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32) Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32) Address one another in song (Ephesians 5:19) Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21) Admonish one another (Colossians 3:23) Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18) Build up one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11) Do good to one another (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13) Stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24) Confess your sins to one another (James 5:16) Pray for one another (James 5:16) Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9) Clothe yourselves with humility to one another (1 Peter 5:5) Have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7) Minister to one another (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

We are also called to avoid negative “one another-ing” in many ways: Don’t judge one another (Romans 14:13) Don’t compare with one another (2 Corinthians 10:12) Don’t provoke one another (Galatians 5:26) Don’t envy one another (Galatians 5:26) Don’t lie (Colossians 3:9) Don’t speak evil (James 4:11) Don’t grumble against one another (James 5:9)

Love does not just happen. It requires each member of the family to look for intentional ways to love one another. This means that when we meet together, we are looking to strengthen another’s faith and we are transparent with others so they can do the same for us. This intentional love is most clearly seen in Paul’s opening words of Romans. Let these words sink into your heart and make this your intention the next time you rub shoulders with you church family.

Romans 1:11-12 “For I long to serve you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encourage by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

This is church.

Change for the Gospel

Writting the word text on blackboardChange can be neutral. Change can be bad. Change can be good.

To change for change’s sake is neutral. For instance, changing up the setup of your living room is neither good nor bad. Change can be refreshing (more on a church changing for change’s sake later).

Changing something can be bad too. For instance, if I changed hobbies and my new hobby kept me from fulfilling my responsibilities, then that change would be bad.

Changing something can be good too. God changed us by transforming us into a new creation. The old has passed away and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The morality of change is determined by its purpose and effects. The changes that we are making to our ministries must be critiqued for their purpose and effects. For instance, if we simply changed to be like everyone else, or to imitate the newest church model, then our purpose is sinful. Change in that case is wrong. If we changed and it resulted in Christ’s name being dishonored, then the effect of our change is sinful.

Remaining the same can be wrong for the same reasons. If our motivation to remain static is selfish, or based on what other churches are doing, or based on what we have always done, then that motivation is incorrect. If remaining the same results in Christ’s name being dishonored, then the effect of remaining static is sinful.

While some of our changes may be flexible and require adjustments, the changes we are making to our ministry are a result of much prayer and consideration. We believe that we can best honor Christ’s name, reach out to our community, and fulfill Jesus’ call to make disciples by following through with some of these changes.

Changing our service times will make our morning worship more visitor-friendly because, frankly, on the weekends, visitors are more likely to attend at a later hour. There is nothing more or less holy about the 10 AM or 9 AM hour. We are pursuing this change because we feel like it will best help us to reach our community, make disciples, and honor Christ’s name. Having a coffee hour before the service at 9:30 AM allows us to give a warm and friendly first impression to anyone who attends.

Moving our Sunday School ministry to Sunday night is not more spiritual than having it in the morning. We do feel that our teachers will benefit from being able to focus on the morning service without the responsibility of Sunday School. We also feel that the students will benefit because they will not have to sit and be still for both the morning service and Sunday School. Another added effect is that organizing our ministries in this way gives us a separate kid’s ministry without requiring more volunteers.

It is not sinful or holy to keep the ministry times the way they have been. If we genuinely thought the current ministry times would most effectively help us to make disciples, then we would keep the ministries exactly the same. In the future, we may have to change the service times again to help us effectively make disciples.

We had originally intended to change our ministry times starting on Easter. However, we are also working on publications, visitor brochures, and a church website. We did not want to have to change those publications in a month and a half to update the new service times. It seemed natural to change the service times on Daylight Savings Time, March 12, when we all have to adjust ourselves anyway.

The other change that we are making is in our midweek ministry. Our church family will have ample opportunity to ask questions and learn about this ministry before we start it. That change should occur in early April.

The Link Group model is not new to church ministry. In-home prayer and discussion meetings are not more spiritual than Wednesday night prayer meetings. Why are we doing it?

We feel that an in-home prayer and discussion meeting will give our church the greatest opportunity to ‘link’ with each other and will give new members the greatest opportunity to ‘link’ into our church. The format will be fairly similar to a Wednesday prayer meeting, except we will be adding a sermon-based discussion and we will meet in homes. Both ministries give opportunities to share and pray for one another. However, meeting in homes in smaller groups can help our church family to be more comfortable with one another. It will also help new members become part of our church family more smoothly. We want to make disciples in a loving church. ‘Link Groups’ give us the opportunity to continue to expand our love for one another.

We never want to change for change’s sake. Our ministry is too urgent to spend time and energy changing our ministry ‘just because.’ Any change we make must have good motivations and effects. We believe that the changes we are introducing to our ministry have both.

“We make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 5:9

Service Time Change

clock-10-00THESE CHANGES START MARCH 9, 2014

Sunday Morning

  • 9:30-9:50 Coffee and Fellowship
  • 10:00-11:30 Worship Service

Sunday Evening

  • 5:30-7:00 Sunday Evening Bible Studies

Adult Bible Fellowship

  • 5:30-6:00 Coffee, Snacks, and Fellowship
  • 6:00-7:00 Bible Study

Kids

  • 5:30-5:50 Songs
  • 5:50-7:00 Sunday School

Teens

  • 5:30-5:50 Helpers for Kids Song Time
  • 5:50-7:00 Sunday School

Why?

  • A 10AM service is more guest-friendly than a 9AM service.
  • A coffee time in the fellowship hall will create a welcoming first impression to visitors.
  • Everyone is able to focus on the morning worship and will not be as distracted by other church responsibilities.
  • This schedule creates an opportunity for a more dynamic kids and teens ministry without requiring extra volunteer hours or a major overhaul to our ministry.
  • We can form our ministry to be welcoming to visitors more easily if our service started at 10AM.
  • Everyone can be on time more easily for a 10AM service.
  • This schedule creates an opportunity for a more in-depth adult Bible study.
  • This schedule creates extra time for fellowship, which will help to continue to foster strong relationships in our church.

This is the best way to …

  • Maximize our kid’s and teen’s ministries.
  • Develop a guest-friendly ministry.
  • Train adults through in-depth Bible studies, doctrinal studies, and topical studies.
  • Foster an environment of fellowship and family.

Link Groups

CHAIN-LINKS-2Why ‘Link’ Groups?

  • Because we need an intentional way to ‘link’ new Christians and new members to our church family.
  • Because the church needs to maintain a family connectedness through future growth.
  • Because a loving church environment is the best place for spiritual growth to happen.
  • Link Groups give us the opportunity to love and care for one another.

What?

Start midweek in-home prayer and discussion Groups instead of in-church prayer meetings

What difference will it make? What is there to gain?

People are constantly looking for a friendly environment to be a part of. Our church currently has that strength, but we want to maintain that strength. Without vigilance, strengths become weaknesses. These choices and ministries make decisive steps towards continuing to foster our friendly environment of our church.

Why Now?

We have experienced and qualified church leaders who have run small groups and several potential host families. If we are going to start a ministry to help facilitate the connecting of new members and Christians with the church family, the time to do it is not after we have new members and Christians, but before. This seems like the opportune moment to start this ministry.

How does it start?

  • Two host houses and two group leaders will be trained in the coming month(s) with Pastor Trey. We will add more Link Groups as we grow.
  • Host houses will host one Link Group each. These host houses may be eventually trained to lead a Link Group.
  • Link Leaders will lead the Link Group discussion and prayer in the host house.
  • Church members will have the opportunity to sign up a Link Group in March. Our goal is to have 90% of our church ‘linked’ into a group.
  • Discussion will be based on the previous Sunday’s sermon. Discussion will be based on the provided discussion sheet from Sunday.
  • Child-care to be arranged by Pastor Trey and host houses.
  • Our goal is to launch this ministry the week of March 30-April 5.

FAQ

Isn’t this basically small groups? Isn’t our church already a ‘small group?’

The maximum number of people in a group that most are willing to share in is about 6-12, depending on personality. While our church is small, our main gatherings, especially on Wednesday nights, is still too large for everyone to be able to share. This ministry will intentionally give new Christians and members an opportunity to become part of our family and allow everyone the opportunity to participate and grow together.

Isn’t our Wednesday night ministry fine the way it is? Yes and no. Our Wednesday ministry is unique and treasured to most who come. However, due to the lack of nursery, the larger group, and the meeting setting, the Wednesday night ministry is not as effective as it could be. In-home Link Groups will allow for children to be taken care of. A home environment also allows for people to relax and be more comfortable with each other.

Didn’t we already try something like this, and it didn’t work?

Yes, a ministry like this was tried and discontinued. Our ministry philosophy is one of simplicity, with each ministry benefiting the other ministries. Link Groups will help our primary worship service to be more effective by causing our people to interact with and apply the sermon later in the week.

In-home Bible studies always seem forced. Is this going to be forced? Everyone will need to put forth effort to benefit from this ministry, but in-home Bible studies should not be forced. Spiritual relationships will take time to form, and they will be allowed to develop at their own pace, without requiring anyone to share or participate.

Is this a trial run? No. This ministry may need some adjustments and tinkering. Due to its immense benefits to the worship service and the ability to bring new people into our church family, this ministry is important and here to stay. It may take time for everyone to adjust, but it will be a good thing.