Tag Archives: Faith Church Lancaster PA

6 ways a church family can love one another

20 Jun

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

How would you say your church does at loving one another deeply from the heart?  Today and tomorrow I’m going to talk about Faith Church, where I serve, and how we are doing loving one another.  We’re not a perfect church, and we will look at some ways we need to improve, but I am also convinced that Faith Church is a loving church, and we are doing many things well.  My desire in sharing about Faith Church is that perhaps all Christians and all churches can evaluate their own church families.

This week we have been looking at 1st Peter 1:21-25 and we have found that Peter is teaching Christians how they are a new family with a priority to love one another deeply.  You can read the previous posts here and here.

Now nearly 2000 years later, the same calling exists for us.  In our local churches, we must love one another deeply from the heart, thus creating a new real family.

Years ago we, Faith Church, updated our church mission statement and we decided it should focus on four key areas: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship and Outreach.  It is the Fellowship area that most relates to what Peter is talking about.  Here is what our mission statement says about Fellowship:

Fellowship – Being a Community of Love – We work toward loving one another, building authentic, accountable, healthy relationships.

I want to say I am very encouraged by how I see this happening. Here’s how I see Faith Church doing great loving one another.

First of all, about 70% of our church family is involved in small groups.  We call them Care Groups, and they are about 8-12 people meeting regularly in one another homes, often sharing a meal together, and caring for one another through honest communication, prayer and discussion.  This is incredibly important.  Most of our groups meet once/month.  That alone is fairly infrequent, and slows down the relationship development process.  If you miss one month, it can be two months until you hang out.   May I make a recommendation?  Start meeting more often.  If you are unable to meet more often, check in with one another throughout the month.  Put a priority on getting face to face and catching up, even if it is just two of you.  Also consider using technology, like texting or social media, to connect with one another between meetings.  When you do meet as a small group, or as individuals, ask yourself: are you sharing honestly with each other and then following up with how things are going?  Don’t wait for another person to do that within your group, you be the one to do it!

Our church leadership team is attempting to show loving care for the church family through what we call our Growth Process.  (You can also learn about how our church logo tells the story of our Growth Process here.)  The heart of the Growth Process is that our leaders want to help every adult in our church to move forward, or grow, in their relationship with Jesus.  So we endeavor to get in touch with them a few times each year to check in and see how they are doing.  Maybe there is some way we can point them toward a mentor who can guide them to go deeper in their relationship with Jesus.  Maybe there is some way we can pray for them.

Another wonderful way that I see Faith Church loving one another is through meals.  We have a ton of people making meals that go out when someone is ill, recovering from surgery, or just had a baby.  Our Fellowship Serve Team sets up an online sign-up sheet, and it is amazing to watch how quickly people volunteer to sign up.  Out of your love for one another, you make a meal and then deliver it to the family in need.  I love when this comes full circle, and the recipient of the meals stands up during our worship service sharing time and expresses how they felt the love of the church family through receiving meals!

We also have Family nights 6-8 times each year.  On the first Wednesday night of most months, fall through spring, our Fellowship Serve Team makes a meal, and we gather in our fellowship hall to eat and talk, just to get to know one another better and catch up.  (Have you noticed how food seems to be a centerpiece in this post?)  Simply put, loving relationships take time.  Over the years, I’ve heard that when it comes to relationships we should put a priority on quality time over quantity of time.  But I have found that it often takes a large quantity of time to achieve quality time.  This is why availing yourself of additional opportunities to connect with people, be it small groups or Family nights, is vital to building loving relationships in the church.  And I am so thankful how I see that happening in our Faith Church family.

Another thing I am so impressed with when I look at the family of Faith Church is how many visit others, especially visiting those who are sick in the hospital or who are homebound.  A couple weeks ago, one our oldest living member passed away.  Betty was 99 years old, just four months shy of her 100th birthday.  She lived in a local retirement village, and for years, one of our Faith Church family visited her weekly.  Dee would decorate Betty’s door for each season, bring her news of the church family, and care for her.  We need more of that, and our Leadership Team recently talked about making a Visitation Team that will coordinate efforts to visit.

Thus far in the post, I have talked about formal ways that our church strives to gather and love one another.  I know there is much happening informally too.  We have people that on their own meet for coffee or lunch and praying for one another.  They are accountability partners.  They are prayer partners.  They are friends.  Do you have someone within your church family that you can share honestly with?  If you do, that’s excellent!  That’s more than some people have within their “real” families!

And by the way, in a series of posts where I am saying that the church should be a family, it is important that I pause and talk about real families.  I’m saying this because if you have a close friend you can share deeply with, that could be more than what some people have in their real families.

We need to be realistic about families.  There is no perfect family.  There are members of families that don’t agree, and there are some that seem to agree about everything.  There are some that are best of friends, while some only speak once or twice a month, or maybe not at all.  There is laughter and there are tears in families.  There are some members that work harder at relationship than others.  There are misunderstandings, there are differing personalities.  Family is made up of people.  People will inspire, they will disappoint, and through it all we will hopefully keep trying, working and striving to be our best selves with each other, even if that looks different with each family member.

How can you love your church family more deeply?

How the scariest Bible story helped us create our Faith Church Growth Process

22 May

Image result for scary bibleWhat do you think is the scariest, most haunting passage in the Bible?  Maybe something about demons or hell or something?  Could be.

For me it is Matthew 7:13-29, and especially verses 21-23 where Jesus says this:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

For me as a pastor, it haunts me.  Why?  Because there are people that assumed, and even were convinced, that they were in good standing with Jesus, that they were going to enter heaven.  But they are dead wrong.  He says to them, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.”

You know why that haunts me?  Those people were convinced they were good to go.  They were sure they were doing what Jesus wanted them to do.  They presented their evidence to Jesus.  In their minds, they were guaranteed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

But they were totally wrong.  Jesus says “Nope, all that stuff you think is important is not important.”  Jesus says, “Many will say to me on that day.”  We’re not talking about a small group.  We’re talking about “many.”  This relates to the previous part of the passage, verses 13-14 where Jesus says a large group of people are headed the wrong way.  Instead a small group finds the road that leads to life.

See how that could be freaky? This large group of people who are headed the wrong way are deceiving themselves by their evidence. Their so convinced the have the golden ticket to heaven, the people try to reply to Jesus that they should be allowed into heaven.  They even have evidence: “prophesying in his name, driving out demons in his name, and performing miracles.”  It seems convincing.  I can hardly imagine anyone, except a true disciple, doing these things.  In fact, I would say all those pieces of evidence seem to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through those people.

But there is a problem.  What do you notice about their evidence?  It’s all outward.  We look at them and on the outside they seem to be true followers.  But Jesus’ shocking response shows us that they are not.

Jesus’ response is what led to creating our new church logo. Take a look at the logo:

Each part of the logo symbolizes something.

There are four green squares, each representing a major focus of our church: Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, and Outreach.  The third box from the left is a darker green, indicating it is a special focus. We call the line down the middle the Matthew 7 line.  Finally, the cut-out in the middle two boxes draws an imaginary horizontal line across the middle vertical line, thus giving us the image of the cross.

Every part of the logo tells a story, and it is all based in Jesus’ shocking response to the people in Matthew 7:23.

We call this story our Growth Process, and that is why the squares are colored green, symbolizing growth.  But it is not about growing the church numerically.  That might happen, of course, but our Growth is about how we grow as disciples of Jesus and how we reach out so that more people can become disciples of Jesus.

At the end of our recent teaching series through 1st Timothy we looked at a couple of statements Paul made about eternal life, what he called “the life that is truly life.”  Paul tells Timothy to take hold of eternal life now.  Eternal life is not just something that happens after we die.  It is that for sure.  But it is also now.  Followers of Jesus take hold of the life that is truly life.  That true life, or that eternal life now, is the life that Jesus said those people in Matthew 7 did not have.  Those people in Matthew 7 looked good on the outside doing their religious duties, but they were missing something inside. They had not taken hold of the life that is truly life, they were not living eternal life now.

Our Growth Process story explains how to take hold of eternal life now.  We don’t want anyone in our church family to stand before God one day and hear him say “Away from, I never knew you.”  Instead we want everyone to have a growing relationship with Jesus.

Let’s take a look at the first square, then.  This square represents Worship.  It is first because most people start their connection with our church family by attending Sunday morning worship services.  Not everyone starts there, and of course they don’t have to start there, but most do.

Considering what it means to be a true follower of Jesus, can we say that a person is a true follower of Jesus if attending worship services is pretty much the sum total of their expression of faith?

No.  Very much like the people in Matthew 7:21-23, they might look worshipful on the outside, but Jesus calls his followers to so much more.

So we ask everyone to evaluate themselves.  Are you in that first square?  Are you primarily just a Sunday morning Christian?  If so, that is a wonderful start, and because we do not want you to hear Jesus say “Away from me, I never knew you” we encourage you to add Fellowship to your worship.

I use the word “add” very purposefully.  When you move from square to square in the Growth Process, you are not leaving the previous square behind.  You are adding something.  That is key.

So if you have determined that you are primarily in the Worship square, we encourage you to add the Fellowship square.  Adding fellowship means going deeper, building relationships.  It might be joining one of our Sunday School classes.  It might be joining a small group.  It might be serving on a serve team.  It might be inviting people over for dinner, hanging out, etc.  It is anything that helps you build deep relationships with and care for others in the church family.

Again I ask you to evaluate yourself.  Would you say that your expression of faith in Jesus is in the Worship box, or maybe you have added Fellowship to Worship?

You know what though?  Attending worship services is important, and adding deep fellowship relationships to that is even better, but I’m convinced a person can do those things, and maybe even do them a lot, but still have primarily an outward appearance of faith.  That kind of person can still hear Jesus say “Away from me, I never knew you.”

That’s why the next part of our Growth Process story is the most important.  Crossing the Matthew 7 line.  We don’t want anyone to hear Jesus “Away from me, I never knew you.”  Instead we want everyone to experience his eternal life now, to hear him say “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your rest.”  But how does that happen?

Jesus himself told us.  To cross over that Matthew 7 line, we need to learn to do what Jesus says in Matthew 7:21: those who enter the Kingdom of Heaven are the ones who do the will of his father in heaven.  What is the will of the father in Heaven?  Jesus would go on to tell his disciples precisely what he meant in Matthew 16:24, when he said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.”  That kind of full life commitment to Jesus means a person has had a deep inner change.  There are no hidden secrets, nothing held back.

He goes on in Matthew 16 to say “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”  We need to add discipleship to worship and fellowship.  The Discipleship box is a darker green color because it is the most important one.  Jesus later said to his disciples in Matthew 28:18-20 that he gave them a mission, a mission of making disciples all over the whole world, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded.  That is what God desires for us: deep inward change, to be his disciples, giving our lives completely to him, and seeking to help others become Jesus’ disciples as well.

Now for the scary, but all-important question. Those people back in Matthew 7:21-23 assumed that they had crossed the Matthew 7 line, they assumed that they were true disciples, and they were wrong!  Those people looked at their outward expression of faith and assumed that was what God wanted. They were wrong. Is it possible that any of us might be wrong?

We would do well to assume that it is at least possible.  Therefore we have to talk about this.  Our Leadership Team cares so much about each and every person in our church family.  We don’t want anyone to assume that they are disciples of Jesus, only to be shocked one day to hear Jesus say, “Away from me, I never knew you.”  We leaders of the church would have utterly failed you if that happens.  That’s why we are placing so much weight on this discipleship square.  But there is one more square after that.

When a disciple of Jesus adds fellowship to worship, then crosses the Matthew 7 line, adding discipleship to worship and fellowship, something very obvious will happen. Go back to Matthew 7 and see verse 15.  That’s where Jesus talked about false prophets, comparing them to trees.  A bad tree cannot bear good fruit.  Only good trees can bear good fruit.  By your fruit you will know who is good or bad.  By your fruit you will know who has crossed over the Matthew 7 line into true discipleship.  True disciples will bear fruit.  Not raspberries or strawberries like in my garden, but the fruit of more people becoming disciples of Jesus.  That is why our logo has the final square.  A disciple is a worshipper, a fellowshipper, and finally a disciple reaches out.  It will be obvious.  Disciples make disciples.

And that is the story of our Growth Process.

That is the process that Jesus taught.  And that is the process that we want to see each and every one of you go through.

So how goes it with your soul?  Or, using the language of the Growth Process, what squares have you added to your life?  Have you crossed over the Matthew 7 line?  Are you a worshipper, a fellowshipper, a disciple, and reaching out?

How goes it with your soul? Our Leadership Team had a wonderful retreat last weekend, and we talked a lot about this Growth Process.  We feel the weight of leadership, and we feel convicted that our God-given role is to care for the spiritual growth of our entire church family.  To do that we are going to regularly start asking each of our church family a version of the question “How goes it with your soul?” because we care so much about everyone.  We don’t want anyone to hear Jesus say, “Away from me.”

So what will the Leadership Team do?  Each of them will be responsible to check in with people in the congregation.  They can not and will not try to force anything on anyone.

You could say in response that you don’t want to be involved in this.  We will honor that. But we encourage you to give yourself to this kind of important accountability.  I know “accountability” can sound like a scary word.  Maybe it sounds harsh.  I guarantee you that our leaders are not interested in being harsh or forcing anything on anyone. There was a unanimous agreement among our leaders that they simply want to care for each of you.

Also let me clarify something specific.  The leader is not there to be your mentor.  That kind of discipling/mentor relationship might happen between a leader and a person in the congregation, but that is not the purpose of the Growth Process.  Instead, the purpose is to have the leadership team intentionally supporting and encouraging people to be moving along the growth process.  If you agree together that you need a discipleship mentor, more than likely the Leadership Team member will direct you to another person in the congregation who can be that mentor for you, who can encourage your spiritual growth,

How many of you would want to be encouraged like that?

So we want everyone in our church family to begin a self-evaluation.  Where are you on the Growth Process?  Are you in the worship block?  Have you added the fellowship block?  Be very honest as you evaluate yourself.

Do that eval so that when the Leadership team contacts you, you’ll be ready to discuss this further.  Your self-eval will facilitate the conversation.  Remember that this will be confidential.

When you are in conversation with the Leadership Team, you may say to them that you want to move forward in the Growth Process, but you don’t know how to add the next block?  You might not know how to move from Worship to Fellowship.  You might not know how to cross the Matthew 7 line.  And that is where our Leadership Teams and Serve Teams are working hard to give you resources to help you.  For example, when you are conversing with the Leadership Team member, you might say that you are not sure you have crossed over into the Discipleship square, but you want to.  You want to be a true follower of Jesus.  That Leadership team member will be able to give you practical suggestions for next steps to take.  It might be getting you teamed up with a discipleship mentor.

We encourage you to take time to evaluate yourself, to take this Growth Process story in prayer to the Lord.  Ask him to give you wisdom and clarity about where you are on the process. Ask him to give you wisdom about how to move forward, growing as a disciple of Jesus.

If you have any questions, please contact anyone on the Leadership Team.

Why I’m talking about the election this Sunday

20 Oct

Image result for who should you vote for

This may be the most stupid preaching decision I’ve ever made.  This coming Sunday as we continue our series, Life in These United States, I’m talking about government.  And with only a few weeks left until our general election, I need to talk about politics.  My tag line for the sermon series has been “We’re talking about what everyone’s talking about.”  I have heard over the years, though, that we preachers need to keep politics out of the pulpit.  While I think that church should be the one place where people can talk about anything, there is certainly the feeling out there that we should not talk about politics.  But why?

For one thing, it is so controversial, and that is true within a church family.  Perhaps you go to a church that is politically uniform.  Faith Church is not.  If I talk about politics in a sermon, I face a high risk of offending someone.  So maybe I should just avoid it. I am not a fan of offending people.

Also, talking about politics might give some the impression that the church is in cahoots with the government.  And there is a feeling out there that the church should be neutral.  “Separation of Church and State,” is the cry.  No doubt, when the church has gotten involved in governmental affairs throughout history, it is pretty easy to see that it hasn’t gone so well.  Again, maybe I should avoid it.

But I can’t.

This might really be stupid, but I am going to talk about the election.  It seems to me that not only is most everyone already talking about it, but more importantly what they say is that they are very confused about it.  “Who should we vote for?” is the big question, and the answer is extremely unclear.  No matter what political party you align with, the chances are you aren’t happy about the candidate your party has nominated.  And that goes for the third parties too.  John Oliver recently remarked that this election is not a frustrating choice between the lesser of two evils, but a choice between the lesser of four evils!

Are you frustrated by this election?  What should a population do when they feel they have no good choices to vote for?  Do you feel like choices for president are being forced on you, and you don’t like the options?  Maybe you feel like this guy:

What are we to do?  Can the Bible be of any help?  The newest books in the Bible are nearly 2000 years old, and they were written in a time and place that did not include a national election for that country’s top leader, and those New Testament biblical writers were not living in a country that had a Christian majority.  No, civic life was quite different then.  Is it possible that we can learn principles from this old ancient book that might help us figure out what do to with this election?  I think so.

For starters, I would like to suggest that the question “Who should we vote for?” is the wrong beginning point.  Instead we should ask “How should we vote?”  Well, on a voting machine on November 8th at our polling place, of course!  Yes, obviously.  But I don’t mean “How?” in that logistical sense.  I mean “How?” in the sense of “What principles should we use when we vote?”  And when we start with that question, the Bible is an excellent guide.

Please join us at Faith Church on Sunday October 23, as we continue looking at life in these United States, talking about what everyone is talking about: the election!

What in the world is Christian “outreach”?

12 Aug

It has been a few years, but for a long time every fall Faith Church held a Harvest Bazaar.  Before that it was called a Christmas Bazaar.  Many people in our congregation would cook up a storm in their kitchens, creating delicacies for the bake shop.  Others would staff the snack shop, making amazing chicken soup.  Still others would be hard at work crafting and donating and volunteering and we would have numerous rooms in our church building filled with items that people could buy as Christmas gifts.  And buy they did!  We would often raise $2500 or more from the Bazaar.  But why would we do this?  It was a lot of work!

Our congregation initiated the Bazaar decades ago as a fundraiser to pay off the debt we owed on our building.  Eventually we did pay off the debt.  I still remember the mortgage burning ceremony.  We have had memorable experiences with fire in our sanctuary, such as when the Advent wreath caught fire!  But I’m talking about the time when we had paid off the mortgage to the most recent expansion to the building, and we celebrating by burning the mortgage documents in a bowl during a worship service.

Though the mortgage was paid off, we kept having the Bazaar for a number of years.  Now we decided that the proceeds of the Bazaar would be directed to the Building Fund and to support missionaries.  Both good causes.  And yet there was discussion about whether or not we should keep having the Bazaar.  Was its purpose completed?  People had numerous points of view, both pros and cons.  It took a lot of work, and people were getting burned out.  So we eventually slowed down our pace to holding the Bazaar every other year.  The last time we held a Bazaar was three or four years ago, and we have no plans for another.

At one point there was a suggestion made in favor of continuing the Bazaar saying that the Bazaar was an outreach.  How was it an outreach?  Well, didn’t it bring people from the community into our building?  It did.  That is true.  Probably hundreds of people in the community would stop in, look over items, eat food, and buy stuff.  But just because they came into the building could we say that qualifies as outreach?

We’ve heard this before about the Youth Chicken BBQ we hold every spring.  People say that not only does the BBQ raise money for our youth group, it also has an outreach element to it.  We’ve heard this about pretty much anything we do that brings people into the building.  By holding an event or program for which they walk through the doors of the church building, it is reasoned, we are reaching out to them.  We have done this quite a bit over the years:  Ballroom Dance Classes, Vacation Bible School, Trunk or Treat, Concerts, Breakfasts and now most recently Summer Lunch Club.

In our recent history this approach is how we have thought about outreach.  Is that outreach?  What should outreach be?  And before we can answer those questions, should we not ask the questions behind the question?  Why do we do outreach?  Should we do outreach at all?  We should have solid reasons for why or how we do outreach before we start outreach.  But do we have solid reasons?

Join us at Faith Church this Sunday August 14 as we seek to answer these questions.

Why Faith Church Observes the Season of Advent

25 Nov

The angels said to the shepherds “peace on earth, goodwill to men” that night Jesus was born in Bethlehem. But many of us do not feel like Christmastime is peaceful or filled with goodwill. In fact many of us are afraid that we will have what Elvis Presley sang about, “A Blue Christmas”.

Or we get so harried by the shopping, the traffic, the preparations, decorations, and expenditure of money we don’t have, that we end up frazzled. Worse, we can truly get stressed out.

So how do we navigate the intensity of Christmas? I would encourage you to participate in Advent, which begins this coming Sunday, November 29. Advent is a four-week preparation time that ancient Christians created to help disciples of Jesus prepare themselves for the celebration of his birth. Nowhere does the Bible teach about Advent. But in the same way that the Bible doesn’t teach about church buildings and Sunday morning worship services, which are also man-made, Advent can be a wonderful tool to help us deal with all the stress of the holidays.

Each Sunday during Advent at Faith Church begin worship with the lighting of the Advent Wreath candles, and short reading and prayer designed to help us prepare for Worship. That brief ceremony is a taste of a much larger personal emphasis that we can place on Advent. Advent, itself, means “arrival or coming”. It refers to the coming of the King. The entrance of Jesus into our world. When we celebrate Advent we are preparing ourselves for the coming of the King. How, then, should we prepare?

If you look on the communion table, or the front the cover of our bulletin, we display the color of Advent, which is purple.  Three of the four advent candles are purple.  This color gives us a clue for how to prepare ourselves to worship the King. Purple is the color of a bruise. A bruise hurts, but the purplish, painful spot reminds us that after injury, healing is taking place. During Advent we face the injury of our sins, and with a penitent heart, we confess our sins, and ask Jesus to heal us. Advent is like a bruise on our spiritual lives, helping us to heal so that when we gather for worship on Christmas Eve, we will erupt in praise that our Savior has been born!

So rather than allow yourself to get sucked into the frenzied vortex of Christmas, I urge you to prayerfully slow down and examine your lives by entering into the season of Advent.

How to kill a tree

8 May

stump-e1427848848696Have you ever cut down a tree or bush, but it kept growing back shoots?  My father-in-law is a wood-cutting master, and he and a friend helped us cut down a tree a couple years ago at my house, and we left a stump about two feet high. That thing grows little bush-like branches all through the growing season and I have to trim it regularly.

I was talking with our church secretary, Jim, recently about yard work. He mentioned that his family had been doing some removal of bushes along their shed. He hooked up his truck and pulled some out rather easily. But there was one kind of bush that was very difficult to uproot. Even the truck and chain wasn’t working.

So they looked it up online, and found that those bushes have an extensive root system making them very tough to pull out. The recommendation was to cut them off at the ground.

Jim didn’t want his bushes to grow back though.  If you just cut them off at the ground, they’re almost certain to keep growing shoots and you’ll be right back where you started in a couple years.  How do you completely kill a bush if you can’t pull it out roots and all?  Is there a way to do this without having to go to the expense of a stump grinder?  They followed more online instructions which said to drill holes in the stump, and pour weed killer into the hole. This video explains it.  Be sure to watch the follow-up video of two years later.

The bushes never grew back.

So there’s your lawn and garden tip for the day!  Cut off a bush at the ground, drill holes in the stump and pour in weed killer.  But this story is also related to the next teaching that Jesus gives us in his Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6. In this story, though, you are the tree!  If you want to see what Jesus had to say, check out Luke 6:43-45, and you are most welcome to be our guest at Faith Church this coming Sunday.

Box of books, Background Checks, Planbooks – Monday Messy Office Report – 12/8/14

8 Dec

My office is tidy Friday, mysteriously messy on Monday. Here’s what I found today!

1. Box of Discipleship books. Thanks to Al Giles who helped us get a nice discount on copies of Building a Discipling Culture.  We’re going to have a discipleship roundtable discussion with Al on January 17th.  If you’re in the Lancaster area, and you are interested in answering the question “What does it look like to be a disciple-making church?” perhaps you’ll want to join us.  Let me know!  Because the printing company had a bad run with this batch, the publisher, 3DM, threw in three copies of another book that I am looking forward to reading, Oikonomics.  The title sounds like a pig trying to say “economics”.  oikonomics-mike-breen

2. Background check documents. Last year we had our children and youth ministry volunteers do background checks, something we do every five years.  Just this past month I found out through a colleague on the Conestoga Valley Ministerium that new PA law voids all those checks, and we’re going to have to do it again.  Except that this time, the checks are more extensive…and expensive.  Further, they’ll need to be completed every three years.  My initial reaction to this was disappointment and frustration.  But as I’ve given it some thought, I’ve come to see the new laws as good.  It’s hard to know where to draw the line when it comes to protecting our kids.  I suppose the state could have required us to do five backgrounds every year.  So this week I plan on getting fingerprinted!

3. Planbooks.  Those of you in the Evangelical Congregational Church know what I am talking about.  Planbooks are the annual calendars that our denomination publishes.  They’re filled with event dates, the seasons of the Christian year, and contact info for denominational leaders.  Planbooks remind me, like the ministerium, that Faith Church is connected to the wider church.  I value that connection greatly!  Take the EC Church, for example.  We are 150 churches in the USA, with another 400+ around the globe.  On Thursday, a pastor from the EC Church of Liberia will be with us to talk about the amazing work our Liberian EC brothers and sisters are doing to reach out to fellow Liberians struggling with Ebola.  If you’re nearby, feel free to join us at Faith Church at 1pm.

Now it’s time to clean up this mess!