The largest consolidated effort to reach our community came and went on September 24, 2017. It was an awesome service! We decided to take the 75th Anniversary of our church and make a special effort to reach our community. We cancelled Sunday school for the morning, started church 30 minutes early, and had several components where we gave a tip of the cap toward our history. Let’s not forget we also had a HUGE dinner afterwards. It was a special time to meet people that were important in the history of the church.
When you celebrate an anniversary, there is a certain amount of looking back that goes along with it. The thrust of the sermon that morning was that we need not crane our necks toward the past when God is moving in our present and is guiding us toward an exciting future. God is so good!
While the feedback from the service was overall very positive, I have a few thoughts that I’d like to share:
- Joyful workers – Leading up to this special service, we had people stepping up to help in a variety of ways. It was nice to see the completion of that work. Most of those workers got to the end of the service, and you could see the look of joy on their face as their work transformed from duty to worship somewhere along the way. There is a lesson to learn there: Worship is a matter of the heart rather than dependent on your circumstances. Get back to the “heart of worship”, and you will find joy in all that you do.
- New friends – Part of our efforts to reach our community consisted of hanging a door hanger on every door within a half mile of the church to advertise the service. I found myself wondering how effective that would be. The Thursday prior to the service, I was hanging tags on the homes located on our street – Westland Drive. As I hung a tag on one home about 200 yards from our church, a lady named Nora came out to greet me. She is 76 years old and was keeping her great grand-daughter this particular day. We spoke for just a few moments, and then I went on my way. It was so encouraging to see Nora at our church on Sunday, and she even put on her information card: “I am a guest of: Matt Ward”… It is a blessing to make new friends from our community. I’m praying that doors would open wide for us to minister to some of these new friends!
- Old friends – We had several revered people from our church’s past in attendance that particular Sunday. There were two “old friends” that stand out as a blessing to me:
- Shawn and Tim Caylor are friends that I made recently on a mission trip to Houston. I was the “team leader”, and this was the first mission trip they had taken together as a couple. I would guess that it will probably be the first of many, but we will see. It was such a blessing to look up and see my “old friends” pop into our church service.
- The old friend that stands out most in my mind was one of my best friends from high school – Nicholas Fields. We had not seen each other in close to 10 years and had not spoken in quite a while. I knew Nick was struggling through several medical issues, and he has been in a crisis of faith for some time. God brought him to our church that day – and it was such a personal blessing of mine to see him and pray with him for increased faith. Would you join me in saying a prayer for Nicholas Fields?
Ultimately, whether it was old friends or new friends or somewhere in between, it was a great day for the life of our church. I look forward to God guiding and directing us to continue reaching our community in new ways as we move forward. It has to be about seeing people come to know Christ and begin their journey toward discipleship. Lord, bless us as we make it our mission and goal to reach people with Your Gospel!