Do you love the song O Holy Night? I do too… and here is why.
Churches hold many roles and carry many responsibilities in the communities in which they exist. They are centers for worship, social interaction and connection, relational and spiritual counseling, morality education, etc.
But the most important roll that any church carries is that of ‘showing’ and ‘sharing’ the love of Jesus Christ. And Jesus tells us that the best way to show his Love is to act our KINDNESS to those around us.
So this weekend, December 6-8, we are throwing a huge WEEKEND OF SERVICE. The goal of the Service Weekend is to find creative ways to be a blessing to people in our community. There are only 2 rules.
1. Be a Blessing.
2. No strings attached.
That means that we don’t expect anything in return. We don’t receive donations for our kindness. And all the honor for our service goes to Christ and the people we are serving.
So, the people of the Potters House will be seeking out unique and exciting ways to serve the people of Livingston County and display the love of Jesus in practical ways. Get your group, Sunday School Class, ministry team, etc together today and start coming up with creative ways that you can serve your neighbors, co-workers, family and friends.
Then come Sunday night with the intention of sharing stories about all the ways that God blessed your service. (The Sunday Night Worship Experience will primarily be about sharing stories from the weekend of service.)
We are taking the things we have learned in the PUZZLED series and putting them to practice this Christmas season in Livingston County. Everyone should be a part. No one is too young or too old to serve. No one is to new to the faith and no one has been around too long to serve. Jesus is counting on us to share His Good News in obvious and loving ways in our community. This will be a memorable, exciting and spiritually profitable way. So what will you do and who will you serve with at the Day of Service? Start dreaming, praying and planning today.
Here are some ideas…
Christmas Gift Baskets for Teachers, Police, County Road Workers, Fire Houses, etc
Take & Have Dinner with a Shut-In
Decorate someone else’s home for Christmas. Focus on those not able to do it.
Christmas Caroling in your neighborhood.
Go and sit with and pray for those at Salem Hospital or area nursing homes.
Take cleaning supplies to area businesses and offer to clear their restrooms, break rooms and any other area that serves as a blessing to the staff. Make sure and leave a nice gift basket when you are done.
Find a single mom in the area and help her with clearing leaves from her yard.
Make sure and go to http://pottershousechurch.org/amen-corner/ and share your story of service.
Ive spent the last 7 months listening to, learning from and developing a great love for the people of the Potters House. God brought me here through a group of developments that made His calling unmistakable. He made it obvious. But He did not make it easy.
The first 7 months have been very interesting. We have begun to revision kids and youth ministry. We have seen several new families become a part of the church. We have even seen many people step up to serve in ministry for the first time. It has been great.
But that’s not all of the story. As a leader, I have also stepped on a few land-mines here. So far, none of them have blown up. But one or two of them were a bit scary when they were first noticed.
So far, each of the land-mines were triggered due to a lack of understanding on my part or on the part of the person represented by them. We just don’t know each other yet. We are still learning each other’s innate values, expectations and traditions. And over time, as we learn one another, we will begin to grow together, change together and become more effective together.
I’ve purposely chosen not to change much for the first 6 months. Just in the last month and a half have we seen ministry changes start to take place. And so far, we have had success in much or even most of those areas.
So where do we go from here?
There are two answers to this questions. Well, there are two answers… and each really depends on what you mean by the question.
If it is a relational questions… where do WE go from here? Then it deserves a relational answer. This answer doesn’t include a detailed plan to guarantee that we will all be like family. But it does give us some direction.
We need to look for opportunities to show love, appreciation and value to each person at the Potters House. We are not a church for the young. We are not a church for the old. We are THE CHURCH. And the church reaches out with the love of Jesus to all people. So you and I must take that love and use it.
Never sit back and wait for someone to come and love you. Be like Jesus and go after those you love or want to love. Take initiative with your love. Join a Bible Study class. Take another family to dinner. Invite someone over for a cookout. Attend worship often enough that you develop relationships. Help make this loving relationship happen.
Don’t wait for your pastor, deacon, family care ministry to call you. Certainly don’t let yourself be upset when they don’t call. If they believe that is true, it will only make them delay calling even more. Take initiative to be loving and loved.
I’d love it if you would introduce yourself to me personally. Eventually, we will have the opportunity to share a meal together and get to know one another. They may happen soon. It may not be able to happen for a while. But it will happen.
Relationally, the answer of where WE go is easy. We are going to grow together. That is where WE are going Potters House.
The question could also be more of a missional question. Where are we GOING? And I’ve been working on this answer for 7 months. Here is what I know right now. I presented this plan to the church council on Sunday evening with great feedback. So here we go… It has three independent parts to the answer.
1. God is about to reveal his VISION or MISSION for us. This will come with a group of values that God wants us to hold tightly to in order to accomplish the MISSION and see the VISION. This is one of the primary responsibilities of a point leader. And you can expect to begin to hear clear and concise vision from me about where God is taking us. This vision will hold us on course. It will give us direction. It will make us more efficient and effective. And ultimately, it will help us reap the benefits that God has for us.
The Scripture says that without VISION the people perish or cast off restraint. They endanger themselves. They go the wrong way. But honestly, it doesn’t seem to give us a verse to tell us what happens when the church has a GREAT VISION. We have to look at the stories themselves to see that. The book of ACTS is basically a description of what happens when the church has a clear vision.
It GROWS, EXPANDS, CHANGES & CHANGES the WORLD in the process.
Expect great vision from God.
2. We must clarify our leadership processes. The Bible lays out a plan for church leadership in the books of Timothy and Titus. The direction is simple. The church needs Elders who oversee the church’s vision and mission and the church needs Deacons who care for the church’s people. The Elders are responsible for making sure that the church is following the SPIRIT of God and the Deacons are responsible for helping the people fall deeper in love with one another and climb higher in dedication to service. We will be building up our leaders to empower the vision/mission in order to see God do all that He wants to do in us.
3. We need a very clear strategy for ministry. People always ask strategy questions. How many worship experiences are we going to have? What are we going to do with Sunday Evenings? What do you think about the music style, choir & praise team? How are we going to reach lost people? What do you want to do with youth ministry?
You see, these are strategy questions. And you can’t really answer strategy questions until you have the right leaders following the right vision.
If you do, you will end up having to adjust your strategy greatly once you have great leaders and a great vision. So most of the strategy questions will need to be answered later.
But a year or so down the road, you can expect that we will have clear and compelling vision, strong and directed leaders and a strategy that is sure to help us follow the Holy Spirit in becoming the church he has created us to be.
That is the plan.
We live in a very busy world. It’s a world and culture in which people rarely take time out for silly things like comradery, creativity or contemplation. We quickly move from one place to another trying to accomplish the needed tasks at hand so that we can quickly go somewhere else. We hurry to work, return home quickly, rush to the kid’s game or play and then repeat the same thing tomorrow.
Recently I have longed for a respite from this fast paced life. I’ve sought after meaning, time to think about the important things such as lasting, valuable relationships that mean more to me than simply helping to accomplish the task at hand. I’ve looked to the Scripture for stories of this type of life. And I think I’ve found it.
The Apostle Paul and his troubleshooting friend Timothy had an amazing friendship. Their relationship revolved around the rapid pace of the spreading of the gospel. And yet in the midst of their focused advance of the church, they were able to cultivate a wonderful friendship. It was a friendship like the ones I am constantly seeking.
Paul met Timothy in the town of Lystra as recorded in Acts 16:1. Timothy’s mother was Jewish and his father was Greek. This means that he was most likely raised as a Jew heavily influenced by Hellenism in the Greek and Roman world around him. The believers in Lystra were very fond of Timothy. After meeting him and observing his unexpected maturity, Paul joined in their enthusiasm about him. Paul was so impressed with this young man; in fact, that he asked Timothy to be circumcised, as an adult, and then to accompany Paul on his second missionary journey to plant churches that will reach both Greeks and Jews with the gospel of Jesus.
Over the next 15 years, Timothy co-authored 5 of the Biblical letters with Paul. Although Paul ‘out-ranked’ Timothy and operated as his apostolic mentor, Timothy quickly became much more like a partner, comrade or brother to Paul. Their relationship was very special to both of them. This kind of relationship seems unstoppable to me.
Timothy served as a messenger and trouble shooter for Paul on multiple occasions. Paul even sent Timothy to deal with the very difficult and trouble filled church of Corinth during one of its toughest times. Timothy’s time there was not very fruitful and he returned to Paul’s side having experienced some defeat and brokenness.
Even still, Paul’s fondness and trust for Timothy grew quickly. By the time the two came through Ephesus for a visit with the young church that Paul had started there a few years before, Paul entrusted Timothy with the role of representing him there for an extended stay. This must have been a difficult assignment, considering that Timothy was unknown in Ephesus.
Paul, on the other hand, was well known there. He had stayed with the Ephesian church for 2 1/2 years when it was first planted. It is very likely that Paul even spent time in jail in Ephesus while planting the church. Paul had also sent the church in Ephesus the letter we call the Book of Ephesians a few years before he and Timothy returned to check in on the church.
Not long after Paul left Timothy in Ephesus, he wrote the letter we call 1 Timothy as a guide for some decisions he wanted Timothy to make as well as some specific instructions as to how to go about leading in Ephesus. Paul longed for Timothy to be successful in turning the tides of the downward theological spiral for the Ephesian church. You can see his great concern in the words of the letter.
As we study together over the next few weeks, I’m asking you to explore with me the beauty and strength of the relationship between Paul and Timothy as well as the drama filled relationship between Paul and the Ephesian believers. Together, we can discover the magnificence of a gospel focused church filled with healthy relationships. Let’s go together. We can be unstoppable.
The church can have meaning far beyond what most have seen. It can be and will be amazing.
THOUGHTS ON TITUS 2
By Crystal Munson “Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” –Titus 2:3–5 I have seen Titus 2 come to life, not by any great virtue or planning of my own, but by God’s grace that has orchestrated events far better than we could have planned.
WHITEBOARD NOT REQUIRED
I’ll start with the “older” woman God has given me who encourages, serves, and blesses our family. We first met her husband through his volunteering at the church, and later met her, also volunteering at Mars Hill Ballard. The couple offered to watch our kids and give us a date night any time. My first thought was, “Well that’s nice. Do they know we have four kids? I’m sure they’re just being polite.” After numerous offers, however, we decided to take them up on it. Not only did they come watch the kids, but they also brought treats for them, played their hearts out, and left our home looking better than they found it. I was blown away by their servant hearts and willingness to give their free time to bless us. I was more blown away when a week later she emailed me asking when they could help again. It’s more than just the babysitting that blesses us. Each time I see Cindy, she has a hug, encouraging words, and the example of a life lived for Jesus to share with me. In her I see a woman who is continuing to “build her home” even after her children are raised and starting families of their own—a time when many women think, “Finally! Time for ME!”. She still maintains her priorities of Jesus first, husband next, serving her family, and the people around her. She doesn’t sit me down with a white board and checklist to “train” me in a formal way, but by living her life for Christ she trains me through her example, and I am blessed to know her.
As hard as it is for me to believe, I don’t just need an older woman, I am an older woman! As Titus 2 describes, I’m called to invest in the lives of younger women. Again, this wasn’t something I went looking for (although I realize now that it’s something I need to seek out), but God provided an opportunity. Jamie had met a great young couple through the Financial Coaching ministry and was blessed to perform their wedding. A few months after the wedding, the wife approached me and asked if she could serve our family by watching the kids for me while I ran errands and had some time to myself. She wanted to invest in a family that loved Jesus and “practice” for when they had kids of their own. A year and a half later, and she has become a dear friend and someone I love to spend time with. She gave her time to our family and in turn I was able to share with her some of what God has taught me in the last nine years about being a wife and mom—everything from menu planning and making a roux, to the importance of placing your hope in Christ not your husband, to how much labor really hurts (which she now knows first hand after delivering their first baby three weeks ago). I don’t anticipate her coming over anymore so that I can run errands, but I’m excited about this new phase in our friendship, when the things we’ve talked about regarding parenting become a reality and Jamie and I can walk alongside her and her husband providing support and encouragement.
In my relationships with these two women, I’ve come to realize that we over-complicate what it means to be a “Titus 2 woman.” It’s not something we participate in once we’ve “arrived” but something we’re called to no matter what stage of life we’re in. The church is rich with women that have so much to learn from each other and so much to give to each other. I encourage each lady that reads this to consider where God is asking you to reach out and offer your help to bless another woman. Don’t neglect this amazing opportunity to exalt the Word of God in our lives by responding in faith to the plan God has laid out for us. Jamie and Crystal Munson will be married ten years in January. They have four kids: Caleb (8), Kara (6), Orin (4), and Haley (2).
This may be the favorite teaching video that I have ever made. It is probably 8 years old. And it was shot at Western Baptist Hospital.
I’d like to thank my friend Jason Dutton for doing such a great job on the camera and computer work to finish this product.
Let me know what you think of it.