Sunday, July 1, 2007

Outreach Update

Well, since we issued the challenge in the worship services last week to become more outreach-focused, I have been so encouraged and inspired by the response from this congregation! The many commitments to get involved personally in reaching out to our community was far beyond what I expected, and I believe it represents a major answer to prayer. I have not yet gone through the sheets that were turned in this week, but last week alone brought commitments from nearly 50 people! Most made commitments in multiple areas. Praise the Lord!

With the number of people who signed up for the 4-week small groups that will be using the "Just Walk Across The Room" curriculum designed to teach people how to overcome the most common reasons that hold us back from personal evangelism, we are anticipating launching at least two of these groups. One group will be meeting on Monday evenings. The other will be determined by the schedules of the people signed up. One of the great things about this curriculum is that we are able to use it for free! We are using the surplus supplies from Brown Corners UB Church in Clare, MI. Again, praise the Lord for his (spiritual and financial) provision--supplying exactly what we need at the time we need it most!

Additionally, many people have indicated a desire to personally reach out to their unchurched friends and family--either by building those relationships, or actually inviting them to come to a church function, whether that be a worship service or some other event. We will be following up personally with each of those who made such a commitment, so that we can encourage, support, and pray specifically for them as they reach out.

For me, I'm starting to get into the swing of things at Olive Garden. Many of you have asked how this new job is going for me. It is definitely an adjustment, but I also am enjoying it a lot. I love to cook, and I am meeting a lot of great and interesting people. The management told everybody ahead of time that I'm a pastor (usually I try to keep that info under wraps when I'm out in public--it creates some weird reactions in people), so I've had to break through some stereotypes about who I am and what I'm all about. Nevertheless, it's been a good thing, too; some of the people there have been asking me questions about the church--what it's like, what kind of music we have, etc. I'm hopeful that I'll get the chance to build relationships and bring some of my new friends to church. You can all be praying for me as I try to reach out to my new coworkers, and also as I try to balance the demands of this new schedule, while keeping my own relationships with God and my family my top priorities.

I believe this is the dawning of a new era in the life of our church. The reality is that it has to be. We will not survive long-term if we don't make a serious and whole-hearted effort to make new disciples. This needs to be the central drive behind everything that we do. As we serve, we need to reach out. As we worship, we need to reach out. As we build our own relationships, we need to reach out. As we grow closer to God, we need to reach out. We need to continually be searching for ways to include more people in what we're doing because Christ died for more than just us--he died for the world. It seems cliche, I know, but it's true. Christ died for everyone around us, and he's given us the responsibility to reach them. Thank you all for your new (or renewed) commitment to evangelism. Now let's rise to the challenge and live out the true meaning of our faith! God has amazing things in store for us!

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