Thursday, July 31, 2008

God Sightings!

God seems to always provide the encouragement we need at just the right time. Today has been like raindrops (of encouragement) on my heart.

It started this morning with Miss Gloria. She has a way of just randomly showing up in my office. It is never an interruption, but always a spiritual boost. She shared her excitement of being part of our upcoming mission trip - and in tears - talked about her dreams for Community being fulfilled before her very eyes. Her heart goes before us as we journey outside our walls to bless others.

Ken sent the email about Shawn being baptized (see previous post) which is incredible news. It speaks of a family of Christ-followers reaching out and including one God had sent our way. It is the story of God's grace flowing from one family member to another, helped along by one of God's willing servants. This work of the Spirit holds the promise of transforming the futures of entire families.

Ken later noted, in amazement, the number of new people who have come to Community that are not sitting on the sidelines, but are serving in big and small ways in our ministry. God is bringing spiritual leaders with servant hearts to Community, not just those who are seeking Him for the first time. He is building a foundation of leadership in our Body that will be a springboard for the blessings He intends to provide.

Then Annie Dethloff came in. She commented on how she loved the worship last Sunday and shared with wonder the impact that Heartland had on Eli. He came home and told her the entire Bible story, hand-motions and all - and thanked her for bringing him to church. He will be 3-years-old in October. This is our vision in action. We dream of kids waking their parents up on Sunday mornings begging to come to church.

I could mention two or three other things, but you get the idea. Not every day is like this for me - but the majority are! I think today was just good timing. I pray you are able to lift your gaze occasionally and see God working in this church family - and in your home. When you do, be sure to say "Thank You!"

New Brother in Christ

It is hard to miss God's hand working in our church family. We're blessed have elders, like Ken, who are investing in the spiritual development of our church. Ken sent me the following note this morning.

Hi Brent!

Gotta share this with you... on Sunday, when dropping off my kids at camp for MMAD week, I was approached by Shawn Moore, one of our youth group members. Shawn has been attending CCC for almost a year now, and has really jumped in and become part of the core group. Anyway, Shawn wanted to talk about baptism. He and I had a great talk. He had been talking to his dad for a while about the subject and was looking for some answers.

On Monday, Shawn and I spent some time together doing a pretty intense Bible study on the subject. He decided that he wanted to be baptized on Wednesday. I spoke with his dad on the phone and we made arrangements. Wednesday night Shawn's dad, mom, aunt and cousin all came up to the camp and I had a great time of Bible study with all of them, showing them what I had shared with Shawn on the subject of baptism.

After that, we all went out to the swimming pool (with all of the campers there with us) and Shawn was immersed, accepting Jesus as his Lord and his Savior. What a blessing!! There's more, though... Shawn's dad is convicted that he needs to do the same (and probably would have if he had had a change of clothes...) Stay tuned for developments there...

God is good, and He is busy in our midst!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Honoring Volunteers!

A couple of upcoming events are causing me to take stock of our ministry and the blessing it is for me to lead a congregation like Community. First, I'm preparing to teach three sessions at the Energizing Smaller Churches conference in North Carolina, on "Sharing the Workload." Second, we have eighteen volunteers taking a week of their lives to bless hurricane victims in Slidell, LA. Both of these events have reminded me to be thankful for the incredible team of volunteers that work to bless others every single week!

You may not know how many hours Melissa and Millie put in preparing for Heartland. Or know the hours that David and Juliana log to ensure our worship flows, honors God and is meaningful for each of us. The list of people and ministries I could mention is nearly endless. Think of how many lives are influenced each week by those buying donuts and making coffee; delivering mugs; ministering to our teens; leading our women's ministry; cutting grass; teaching our children; growing our men's ministry; hosting or leading our groups; managing finances; taking care of our facilities or cleaning the bathrooms.

Most things, of any eternal consequence, are happening because of volunteers who are giving up precious hours every week to bless others. We would be offering no meaningful ministry without them. Don't these people have jobs, families, a life? Yes they do. Yet, they have chosen to carve out time to be on mission with God to bless others. They see life through the lens of eternity.

Yes, pray for the team Sunday as we leave for a short-term mission. But please also pray for those volunteers who are on mission here every week, for the long haul... and don't forget to say "Thanks!" Pray that God will lift up the weary arms and strengthen weak knees of the volunteers who serve us, and God, so faithfully.

I'm blessed to work beside you to bear fruit, "fruit that lasts."

"Daily Diggs" kick off today

Is that one cute gopher or what? In Colorado we despised them, but who can hate on a gopher showing off his "hallelujah hands"?

Today kicks off the first edition of our Daily Diggs. "Diggs" are daily opportunities to dig deeper into the "Big Idea" from Sunday and explore how we can put it into practice in our lives.

You should have already received the first "Digg" by email today. If not, check your Junk Email folder. If it's there move it to your Inbox then call me. We need to talk about why church mail is going to your junk folder :-).

I want to thank Sean and Margo, Charlie Fooks, and Steve Raley for all their work. They're committed to helping us stay connected to God and His mission every day. I hope you'll honor their investment in your spiritual development by making an investment of your own. Commit to "Do The Diggs" every day and trust God for the outcome. He'll help each one of us grow up into the image of His Son. Thanks for your part in making it a great day yesterday and for investing in God's future for Community.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Previews of Coming Attractions

I wanted to write to give you a preview of coming attractions at Community. There are some exciting activities coming our way and some important changes. This Fall won't be "business-as-usual" so please read through this entire post to get the full picture.

This Sunday we kick off a new series and our new discipleship process. Our new series is "Fully Alive ." Ignatius (one of the early Church Fathers) said: "The glory of God is a human being fully alive." I believe he's right. A human being living the full, abundant life Jesus came to offer is God's glory. But if that statement is true of individuals, it is also true of God's church. A church "firing on all cylinders" brings God glory and brings Him great pleasure. In this series we'll explore the different aspects of our church life that matter to God and must matter to us. Our first message, Fully Fueled, talks about the vision that fuels Community and drives us into God's future.

Next Week...
Next week you will also begin receiving our "Daily Diggs." The Diggs are daily devotionals, written by our members, based on the "Big Idea" of Sunday's message. They are designed to guide your daily devotional time, help you dig deeper in to Scripture and provide creative ways to apply the material shared on Sundays to your everyday life. These Daily Diggs will come via email (with hard copies on the Welcome Table for those who aren't on our email list). Look for the first installment this Monday morning.

Wednesday Nights... (8/20 and beyond)
Our Wednesday night Bible Classes pick up again on August 20th. Our growth has made it necessary to make some changes. The most noticeable changes will be what happens before our study time. First, the church will no longer be providing meals on Wednesday Evenings. Though we know the blessing of having the family share a meal together, logistically it is not possible for us to provide those meals for our growing family. We do still encourage families to bring their meals and enjoy the fellowship with others prior to our 7:00 PM study time. Second, because of the changes in our class structure, we will no longer have a time of corporate worship before those studies begin.

This Fall we will be offering three distinct adult study opportunities each Wednesday night. We aren't naive enough to believe that everyone is in the same place spiritually or needs the same things to progress on their spiritual journey. Options are good. In that knowledge, we will be offering three different adult study opportunities each Wednesday night. First, Dave Pfingst will be teaching a class titled: "Beginnings." This will be an in-depth Bible study focusing on God's work in fulfilling His promise to Abraham that through him "all nations would be blessed." Second, Brent will facilitate a second equipping study titled: Go Fish! This study will feature DVD teaching content by Andy Stanley. We'll explore the motivation behind sharing our faith. Discover God's heart for those who don't know Him and the role that we can play in introducing others to Him. Along the way each participant will be equipped with tools that will help the make sharing their faith a natural part of their life. Third, Sean and Margo will be leading a Young Adult small group, at the home of Seth and Kristi Friese. This will be a great launch into a new phase of our ministry to young adults in our church and community.

Some other events in the planning stages for this Fall... (Mark your calendars)

Gulf Coast Mission Trip (August 3-9th)
Life Groups Kick Off
(September 7th)
One Month To Live
Series (Sept. 7th - Oct. 5th)
Braveheart Weekend Men's Retreat (October 17-18 - kilts optional)
Senior High Mission Trip to New York City (tentatively October 24-26)

More detailed information on these and other events coming soon.

Brace yourself for an exciting season of ministry at Community.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Softball: Post Season Feedback - Signups

I received a call yesterday afternoon from Darin Kovach. Darin is the President of Wicomico County's Church Softball League. He heard about us from the umpires and officials in the Rec. League. Darin said one umpire, who umps in both the church and rec league, called him and said: "Darin, you aren't gonna believe this. There is church team in the county rec. league. They have more people in the stands on their side of the field than we do (church league) on both sides of the field for our games. They have a great time, a lot of spirit and everyone is talking about them. You should give them a call and try to get them into our league." Darin called to try to get us into a tournament and possibly to provide a team for a Fall church league (if they have enough interest).

Our original reason for joining the rec league, rather than the church league, was to be able to have a positive influence on non-church people's perception of Jesus and His people. Mission accomplished. I just want to say thanks to all of those who played this year. And all those who came out to our games. You really shared something that was very attractive to our community.

There seems to be a lot of interest in playing this Fall. Interest sheets (sign-ups) will be in on the welcome table this week. This might be a great opportunity to invite some unchurched friends to be part of our team(s) as well. If we have enough interest, we'll put a team in the church league and another in the rec. league. Everyone who has an interest, please sign up.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Faith Becoming Known II

I just have to preface this post by saying we have a lot of fun playing softball. We have great fans and there are a lot of great guys on our team that are enjoying playing the game together. I would also be remiss if I didn't come clean and say, we're not very good. We have not won a single game this season. Truth is, we might have a better record if we had played in the "church league." But we made a decision to play in the county league because we wanted to have a chance to interact with our community. Our hope is that there just might be more to this thing than wins and losses.

Last night one young man from another team had just doubled off the fence. He came into second base and was standing there with his hands on his knees catching his breath. Guys on our team started encouraging him: "nice shot," "great job." He looked at me and said: "I really love playing against you guys!" To which Shawn Adams, playing second base, replied: "Every team loves playing against us." Both statements are true! The young guys was commenting on how encouraging we were and how you don't see much of that with some of the other teams. It was one of those moments that reminded me why it is worth enduring the pain of losing night after night...God is up to something.

Earlier this season, between games of a double-header, we had 50 or 60 people from church gather beside the field for a cook out. We were just enjoying being together. One of the employees of the park later said: "I love that you guys did that. That is what this park was designed for. Your people are having fun together and people are noticing and talking about it."

Having having fun, building relationships, watching God work through us ... even at 0-and-18 ... Life is Good!