It is beginning to feel more fall both outside and even inside the office! I have been in meetings all week discussing ideas for Trunk or Treat, Operation Christmas Child, Christmas 2020, the New Year, and so much more. I am determined to make the end of 2020 a more joyous time than the rest of it has been. Even with everything that has happened this year, we still have the hope and love of Christ in our hearts and it is worth more than the darkness of twenty 2020s. (Perish the thought of course.)
With that said, we have come to the end of the initial COVID-19 Response Plan put into action earlier this year. We were hoping that once we entered October, things would be drastically different. However, it looks as though the current situation is here to stay for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, we are making a few changes to relieve some of the strain on the staff and volunteers.
Beginning this Sunday, October 4th. we will NO LONGER BE GATHERING AT 11:00am. Since we reopened, we have maintained the two-service schedule with the intention of re-evaluating the situation in October. Due to the current and continuing state of COVID-19 in Jefferson County, we must maintain the health and safety protocols but with gathering together for the 9:30am service only. So, masks, temperature checks, and social distancing rule still apply UNLESS you have a health condition that prohibits you from wearing the mask safely. In that instance, we have a designated seating area that will keep everyone in attendance as safe and comfortable as possible so everyone can attend.
Please keep in mind that COVID-19 is still a threat if basic preparations are not maintained. A few of our sister churches in and outside of Jefferson County are currently experiencing shutdowns due to outbreaks in their staff and congregations. However, we are confident that if we do all we can, the Lord will do the rest and His purpose will be fulfilled in this church.
May God Richly Bless You All!
HOWEVER, we have been working hard for the last weeks to better blend our modern style with the deep theology of many classic hymns. I do ask that you pray for the music team. It has been a difficult time due to illness, ridged work schedules, and family situations that have cut us down by half strength for months. We are doing our best to adjust but the burden is heavy on everyone involved, especially those who are struggling with health and family issues.
I would like us all to read and meditate on a section of scripture from the letter to the Hebrews. Scholars have titled this section, "The Full Assurance of Faith." As this unpredictable time in our lives drags on, it is more important than ever that we "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful."
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 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.
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
Book of Hebrews Chapter 10 Verses 19-36 ESV
Last Sunday we rolled out our Kids Ministry Digital Discipleship effort by making Kindle Fire tablets available, loaded with Faith-Focused apps. Of the four children that participated in both gatherings, we received smiles and thumbs up from them and their parents and grandparents.
The approval for this effort went through our leadership process exactly as designed and was a collaborative effort to bring the Gospel message, in an engaging way, to our kids 2-11 until they are able to resume Kid Ministry safely.
This weekend, the local Rat Rod show is being held on Saturday and our church will be represented by volunteers in handing out Gospel information to the community. This will be an awesome opportunity to engage the community and share the light and love of Jesus. If you are interested in more information or want to help out, contact Chris and Dwayne Boyer at: 314-402-5030.
This week, we had a blood drive, a business meeting, a leadership summit, and today we are giving away 75 backpacks full of school supplies to the community! It has been a wonderfully busy week! I especially want to thank Lorna, Chris, and Dwayne for the countless hours they spent sorting the school supplies, packing the backpacks, and setting up for the giveaway.
Dianne once again championed the blood drive and was again a HUGE success. Our local Vampires Association sends their thanks and well wishes.
An unused Sunday School classroom in the kid's wing is being transformed into an awesome small group area for our students. Joyce and Cheryl have been working consistently all week to begin holding youth Sunday School and Small Groups this coming week. If you get the chance, go down and take a peek. (The wall is AMAZING!)
Wednesday night's regularly scheduled business meeting went very well and we want to thank the large number of you have been taking the time to regularly attend and be apart of the process. Due to the current situation, my time as Executive Associate Pastor has been extended through December 2020 (or until a Pastor is elected) by unanimous vote.
Finally, our first Leadership Summit was held on Thursday evening from 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm and attended by 16 church members. It was a wonderful night of learning, prayer, and discussion. I want to personally thank everyone who gave up their entire evening to come together and grow as leaders in the church. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response, we have decided to hold multiple leadership gatherings throughout the year with a more flexible schedule so anyone who wants to attend is able. More information about the Fall 2020 session will be made available soon.
Again, thank you to everyone who made this amazing week possible! You all are rockstars!
Much Love in Christ,
In an interview with Christianity Today, Southern Baptist President, Pastor, and Author of the book,"Above All" J.D. Greear had this to say about the church's role in race, culture, and politics:
If the gospel is above all, we find a unity in it greater than the myriad things from our heritages that might divide us. We’ll always feel a natural affiliation with people of our own ethnicity and culture, with those who share similar backgrounds to us and with those whose way of life is similar to ours. But the gospel will be larger in our hearts than even those things; therefore, we’ll feel more kinship, a deeper affiliation with believers whose culture differs from ours than we do with people from our own culture who don’t share our passion for the gospel. This will enable the church to achieve a unity among ethnicities that our society longs for but is unable to obtain.
When the gospel is above all, we will eagerly sacrifice our preferences for the sake of the Great Commission. Like Paul, we’ll wear our preferences like a garment we are ready to shed for the sake of the Great Commission whenever necessary. The question we bring to church will not be, “What kind of church do I prefer?” but, “What type of ministry best reaches the people in this community?”
So this week we are asking you to ask yourself and each other: How can our church best reach the people in our community?
1.) Work Week
This week is work week at the church! Instead of trying to schedule a work day around everyone's summer schedules, we are holding a work week to perform a "deep cleaning" on the inside and outside of the church. There is a signup sheet in the foyer with tasks that need to be completed and you can tackle them whenever is convenient for you during that week! We appreciate your help with this project! Contact Heather Jones for more information or to request cleaning supplies in advance. THANK YOU!
2.) Red Cross Blood Drive
It's time for you to step up and GIVE OF YOURSELF to those who need it most! No, it isn't fun but it is necessary! Due to COVID-19, our contact at the Red Cross said that blood reserves are critically low. Blood banks typically like to have a seven day reserve of blood but because of the pandemic restrictions, they are down to a three day supply. It is imperative that we do our part as the Body of Christ and give what we can to those in desperate need. In order to keep everyone involved safe, this drive will be held by appointment only. Contact Dianne to schedule you appointment today!
3.) Leadership Summit
On Thursday, August 20th, Ray is hosting a leadership summit for everyone in the church that is currently leading or wants to lead in the future. It will be a great evening of learning and discussion. Dinner will be provided and social distancing rules will apply, however we will attempt to space everyone out enough so that masks are optional when seated. To save your seat, contact Ray via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or text/call: (573) 953-9159.
In his book, Above All, Pastor and current S.B.C. President J.D. Greear says the following:
"The Gospel is itself the raw, unstoppable, death-defeating power of God. This is the power the church needs.
The Gospel is more important than our programs.
The Gospel is more important than our preferences.
The Gospel is more important than our priorities.
The Gospel is more important than our politics.
The Gospel is more important than our _________. (You fill in the blank.)
It doesn't matter how you fill in the blank; the Gospel is always and will always be most important!"
Then, he says what may be the most important statement of the entire book:
"If the Gospel is not above all, it loses it's power."
Think about that this week. If we do not keep the message of the Gospel above everything else, it loses its raw power to transform our lives, our communities, and our church. It is like a stick of dynamite that we refuse to light because we like what we like, we feel how we feel, or were okay with how it has always been.
Keeping the Gospel above all - Five simple words that are easy to say but challenging to live...
Stay safe out there,
1.) Don't Miss This Sunday
We will continue our series, Above All, this week with Part One of a discussion about community. It will be a little different than normal this week, but you will not want to miss it.
2.) Work Week
The week of August 3rd-8th will be work week at the church! Instead of trying to schedule a work day around everyone's summer schedules, we are holding a work week to perform a "deep cleaning" on the inside and outside of the church. There is a signup sheet in the foyer with tasks that need to be completed and you can tackle them whenever is convenient for you during that week! We appreciate your help with this project! Contact Heather Jones for more information or to request cleaning supplies in advance. THANK YOU!
3.) Red Cross Blood Drive
It's that time again... It's time for you to step up and GIVE OF YOURSELF to those who need it most! No, it isn't fun but it is necessary! Due to COVID-19, our contact at the Red Cross said that blood reserves are critically low. Blood banks typically like to have a seven day reserve of blood but because of the pandemic restrictions, they are down to a three day supply. It is imperative that we do our part as the Body of Christ and give what we can to those in desperate need. In order to keep everyone involved safe, this drive will be held by appointment only. Contact Dianne to schedule you appointment today!
In the series, The Chosen, Jesus tells the disciples to "Get used to different." I think we represented that sentiment well with a Christmas tree on stage last Sunday! it was a fun, wonderful way to kick off our Operation Christmas Child mission for 2020 and we hope hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did. :)
On Sunday, we promoted two resources we think are more than worth your time, The Bible Project and The Chosen. I am adding the details in "This Weeks Three Things" section because you really need to check them out!
We hope to see you all this this Sunday for the next message in the Above All series, Grace.
1.) The Bible Project
The Bible Project is a nonprofit animation studio that produces short-form, fully animated Bible videos and other Bible resources to make the biblical story accessible to everyone, everywhere. We create 100% free Bible videos, podcasts, and Bible resources to help people experience the story of the Bible.
From page one to the final word, we believe the Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. This diverse collection of ancient books overflows with wisdom for our modern world. As we let the biblical story speak for itself, we believe the message of Jesus will transform individuals and entire communities.
Many people have misunderstood the Bible as a collection of inspirational quotes or a divine instruction manual dropped from heaven. Most of us gravitate toward sections we enjoy while avoiding parts that are confusing or even disturbing.
Our Bible resources help people experience the Bible in a way that is approachable, engaging, and transformative. We do this by showcasing the literary art of the Scriptures and tracing the themes found in them from beginning to end. Rather than taking the stance of a specific tradition or denomination, we create materials to elevate the Bible for all people and draw our eyes to its unified message.
2.) The Chosen
The Chosen is the first multi-season television series about the life of Christ, as witnessed through the eyes of those He impacted. Directed by Dallas Jenkins and distributed by VidAngel Studios, The Chosen has grown to become the largest crowdfunded TV series of all time.
You can watch the entire first season of The Chosen for FREE by downloading the Chosen App or by clicking the button below:
3.) The Gospel Above All
If you would to take a deeper dive into the Gospel Above All, you can purchase the book that the message series has been based on by clicking the button below:
I'm going to keep it short and sweet this week... Have you connected with someone about coming to church with you this Sunday? If not, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Reach out to them now... seriously, go... I'll wait here...
Now if you have contacted someone, GREAT JOB! HIGH-FIVE!
But... do you have a SECOND person you could contact? You have already stepped out of your comfort zone... why not stay there a little longer and make that call!
We hope to see you Sunday with bells on!
Lately, numbers that are trending upwards are mostly seen as negative... But not in this email! I want to share with you some incredibly POSITIVE info that reflects our church's gathering momentum.
Since we began gathering again in June, roughly 60% of our active membership is currently serving, or has agreed to serve, in some sort of ministry or administrative capacity. 28% of those serving are what we qualify as "High Impact" volunteers, meaning they serve the church between 3-5 hours each week. Of those volunteers, 18% are what we qualify as "Ultra-High Impact" and serve 5-10 hours each week, and in some cases, even more.
Now, why is this such good news? In the book of 1 Corinthians chapter 12, Paul says to the Corinthian church that they are each individual members of one body and everyone has been given gifts in which to serve. (I highly recommend you reflect on the entirety of chapter twelve.) So, according to theses numbers, sixty percent of our church body is coming alive and serving a function. As we are able to further expand our ministry and service opportunities we hope to see this number continue to trend upwards as we all begin pulling in one direction and with one goal: To impact our community with the light and love of Jesus.
The lyrics from Elevation Worship's song, "Rattle" have invaded my spirit over the last few weeks:
My God is able to save and deliver and heal
And restore anything that He wants to
Just ask the man who was thrown
On the bones of Elisha
If there's anything that He can't do
Just ask the stone that was rolled
At the tomb in the garden
What happens when God says to move
Keep On Rattling,
P.S. Our average weekly attendance for the five weeks BEFORE we shut down for COVID-19 was 85. In the five weeks since we began gathering again, we are currently averaging 70* in attendance each week. Taking into account summer vacations and those that are still uncomfortable gathering in large groups, we should find this number incredibly encouraging.
*This number reflects both services combined and counts each volunteer only once for the day, even though they serve in both gatherings.)
1.) Multiple Sunday Gatherings
We will continue to host two Sunday morning gatherings for the time being due to an upward trend of COVID-19 infections in our area. We continue to watch the data carefully and are in constant contact with health and medical professionals for the best possible advice on how to handle this ongoing situation long-term and in a somewhat stable manner.
We appreciate your support during this time as we consider the health and safety of our entire church family as well as our standing in the community.
2.) Music Team Spotlight
We would like to highlight the music team this week and thank them for the hard work they have been putting in over the last few weeks. They are learning new songs and genres, stepping out of their comfort zones, and honing new skills to better lead us all in worship. Between mid-week practices, home rehearsals, Sunday morning practice, and singing/playing in two Sunday morning gatherings, they serve roughly six and half hours individually EACH WEEK!
Be sure to pray for them and thank them for all their efforts as they continue to lead us each week in worship.
3.) Church Business Meeting
Remember, decisions are made by those who show up.
*As always, if you have a health condition that makes it unsafe or extremely uncomfortable for you to wear a face-covering of any kind, you are exempt from this requirement but asked to maintain social distancing. If you are unclear or concerned, please call Ray or Dianne at any time.