For many reasons, this Sunday was a special Sunday for me. It marked the first time in my life I have taught through the entire book of Romans, it marked the end of our summer series and the beginning of our Fall outreach season, and it was the Sunday before my wife’s birthday. That’s right, Jen’s birthday is today (the 11th)!
For the third week in a row, I have had the privilege of leading the morning worship music. It’s a great joy for me whenever I get the chance to do so even though it does tend to put extra pressure on my week leading up to Sunday as well as a little extra stress on my voice. This past week, I was just beginning to experience the foreshocks of a cold (one I am now thoroughly experiencing as I write this), so my voice was a little hoarse, but with Jake, Sherry, Vince and I working together, God came through in both services, and we musicians were seriously encouraged.
This was our playlist http://grooveshark.com/playlist/2012+09+09+Worship/77102229
Finishing out Romans was another real treat for me. The way Paul concludes his letter to the Romans confirms his passion for both the gospel and the people whom he has known over the years. Here are a couple of slides from my presentation:
The first slide was a slide I have been using for a number of weeks to diagram the content of Romans 1-11, and the second slide was a slide to simplify the message of the gospel.
You see, one of the main points of the message was that we can’t take the gospel for granted. We can’t assume that people have already heard it. In fact, most people have never heard a clear explanation of the gospel even in America! I even showed this next slide and gave people the opportunity to pray with me to make a commitment to Christ based on the message of the gospel!
Apparently, this message really connected with a number of people as the following comments show:
- I’ve accepted Christ in my life but have strayed his path. Working on giving back to Him and letting Him lead the way.
- I want to continue on a path with Jesus. I have to admit I have never heard the gospel, but I prayed the commentment w/ you though. 🙂
- Let go of the wheel and throw away the map! ( responding to an illustration I used about letting God take real control in our lives. )
- This message helped to further convict me of what I have been called to do.
- My 82 year old mom co-facilitates to a group to 55+ Christians who have never learned the stories of the bible. Sounds a little bit about what you are talking about. Hard to believe there are people out there who don’t know.
- I have been out of the church for several years due to some negative experiences. This week, I was in a really tough spot and almost unthinkingly asked God for strength and peace of mind. I received those two gifts that day and I felt drawn to renew my faith in response. I have enjoyed the service.
So how are you doing? Last week, I encouraged you to develop your leadership by developing a passionate flame in your heart for God and for how he is using you, and I also asked you to serve with enthusiasm and gusto. In light of this week’s lesson, I’m reminded that there is no greater way to serve than to clearly present the message of the gospel to people.
Did you know that everything you do leading up to and during the Sunday gatherings is part of this gospel presentation? We can’t take for granted that parents are teaching the message of the gospel to their children, so we need committed and enthusiastic workers in KIDOPOLIS who will joyfully connect crafts, values education, and Bible stories to the message of the gospel.
We can’t take for granted that just because someone comes on Sunday they are ready to hear what God has for them, so that’s why we need joyful, smiling people to stand at the doors, to offer welcoming hospitality and even coffee so that barriers of hesitation and defensiveness can be brought down and the message can get through more clearly.
Put all those pieces together, and it makes perfect sense that we would try to push the envelope a little to make our 9am worship experience just as inviting as our 10:30 experience. To do so, we need to up the ante a little and get some committed volunteers for the early service Kidopolis especially. Beth Hardy has been working on developing a program that will be uniquely designed for the early service so that no volunteer will have to worry about their kids being in the Kidopolis program twice on a Sunday. The early gathering will have a completely different Kidopolis curriculum, and I bet some of you with kids will decide that your kids really would benefit from being in both!
So finally, let me encourage you to do what you do with joy and enthusiasm. Look for new ways to serve, new ways to connect with people, and new ways to communicate the truth that God loves people enough to send Christ for them!
Eyes Wide Open
Please keep a prayerful heart and an open eye for people to fill these service slots:
- A worship leader who can “own” the worship ministry of the church and take us to our next level.
- Coaches who can step into the gap and help our newest people find their place in the family of God.
- Teachers and volunteers for a 9am Kidopolis program.
- Audio and Video techs to lighten the load on Josh Brown and Josh Cadwallader
As we move forward together, God is going to bring the right people into our fellowship, but I believe he is calling us to see them, recognize them, develop them and deploy them! That’s what leaders do, and that’s the charge he has given us!