Hey Church Family,
I hope you’ve had a great week! I’m going to be leaving town in a few days for Ruidoso, New Mexico. Our family had some vacation time planned and the cold mountain air of Ruidoso was calling my name. I’ll certainly miss seeing everybody while I’m away but can’t wait to take a breather and do some planning for what’s coming up this fall.
Before signing off, I wanted to remind you about a few things coming up soon and also recognize one of our staff team-members who is taking a full-time position in another church.
First, let me remind you about our special prayer service this Sunday at 7PM. Our Student Pastor, Jospeh Tobias will be leading this service. It’s a time to come together and pray for our world. As you can clearly see from the news, there’s a lot of brokenness out there.
The four categories included in this prayer service are unity, justice, healing and love. Each word will be followed by Scripture readings and prayer. I hope you can join us for this special time. I know it’s Father’s Day and several have other plans. But for those who can make it, please join us.
We will livestream the event for those who cannot make it in person. It will also be available to watch afterwards if you cannot watch during the 7PM start time. Whether you attend in person or online, God hears our prayers just the same. I hope you’ll be able to make it.
July 12th Service Times
The second thing I wanted to remind you about is our July 12th service times. Essentially, we are moving our Traditional Service back to Sunday morning. Our traditional schedule of three worship services on Sunday morning won’t happen until later this summer. But, for now, here’s what’s going down on July 12th.
Adult Small Groups:
9:30 & 11:00AM
Preschool & Children Programming:
9:45 & 11:00AM
Student Ministry Programming:
I know for many of our young families you’ve been waiting for the preschool and kids wing to open back up before you come back. That day is finally here. We are really excited to get to minister to our kids again and I hope you’ll make it a point to show up on July 12th.
As you can see, these are some odd times compared to what we’re used to. The reason is because we’re trying to still maintain social distancing between “high-risk” populations and potential “asymptomatic carriers” of the virus. Most of the higher risk folks in our church attend the Traditional Service and the most likely asymptomatic carriers are young children or young adults (who attend later services)
There will be some who think this is silly and others who think we aren’t going far enough. We are doing our best to do what we think is best so I hope you’ll be gracious as we feel our way forward on this deal. When we add back our third service these times may have to change again but this is what the plan is for now.
For those of you who don’t like reading, here’s a video of the July 12th changes
(filmed in anticipation of my absence due to travel)
A Few Other Things
In addition to relaunching our adult small groups and the preschool, children and student ministry programming, we are also seeing a few other ministries fire back up.
Traditional Service Choir
For example, our Traditional Service Worship Choir will start meeting again on Wednesday July 15th at 5:00PM. I know many who serve in our choir have been waiting patiently to get back together again and so rehearsals will start back up at that time.
Personally, I feel like the experts are of two opinions when it comes to the spread of coronavirus by sining. Some scientists say that choir rehearsals and singing are one of the key ways that the coronavirus spreads. Others disagree. The CDC originally discouraged the use of choirs and singing but later removed that guidance as it was not cleared by the White House. (see current CDC guidance here.)
All of this back and forth just makes decision making more difficult. Because our worship choir has so many who qualify as “high risk” I’d like to err on the side of caution. That means precautions will be taken at rehearsal. The set up of the room will be spread out so as to practice social distancing and if it turns out we cannot do it safely we may have to postpone rehearsals a little longer.
We also don’t know exactly when we will be able to bring back a choir for the Traditional Service worship gathering. It’s feasible to set up a rehearsal room for social distancing but our traditional use of choir risers put vocalist right on top of each other. So we are still trying to figure out a solution for that moving forward. Hopefully, the threat of COVID will continue to wane as the fall progresses. Time will tell.
The other ministry that is kicking back off after July 12th is Celebrate Recovery. Our freedom ministries have already been hosting a weekly small group on Tuesday evenings but now they are shifting back to a full fledged Celebrate Recovery ministry program.
The program will start at 6:30. First there is a time of singing and worship followed by a message or testimony. Afterwards, people break out into groups and share what’s going on in their hearts. It’s a wonderful program that helps people get over their hurts, habits and hangups.
Some assume CR is only for people with a “substance abuse” problem. Nothing could be further from the truth. Certainly it’s helpful for finding freedom over addiction. But substance abuse isn’t the only form of spiritual slavery people experience. Not by a long shot!
Some are slaves to anger. Others are slaves to fear or despair. Anxiety issues? CR will help. Control issues? Eating disorders? Depression? All of these things are symptoms of a heart that’s gotten out of alignment. And putting yourself back into alignment isn’t easy. You need community. You need people who will listen to your situation and help you find your way out.
That’s what CR is about. It’s about finding freedom over sin. Some sin in our life is due to personal decisions. Sometimes we don’t get a choice and sins are committed against. We live in a broken world damaged by sin and it ends up damaging US.
So how do you get over those hurts, habits or hang ups? You do it with the power of God in the context of community. That’s what makes CR so effective. The power of God’s Word is discovered and applied through the channel of personal relationships. It’s disciple-making 101.
If you’ve never considered joining Celebrate Recovery let me challenge you to give it a second look. If you’ve struggled to find a small group, why not give this a chance? If you’ve got any kind of spiritual “hang up” right now, what do you have to lose? Give CR a try and let me know what you think.
You Are Sent
The last thing I want to talk about in this week’s update is the sending of one of our favorite people on staff. Her name is Claire Shuler and she’s taking a full-time position at Clear Lake Baptist Church in Houston, TX as their Minister of Media and Music.
Claire has been serving on staff for close to two years now. She stepped in alongside of Jospeh Tobias in leading our youth ministry. In addition to that, she has served the church in a variety of different ways. She’s become a ministry generalists of sorts, creating graphics, children discipleship videos and a host of other things behind-the-scenes.
When I wrote her letter of recommendation I emphasized Claire’s humility and spirit of teamwork. Many people in ministry have the “skills” necessary to get a job done. Less common is the humility and teamwork mindset that makes a staff culture healthy. She has brought both of those things to our staff team and we were better for it.
We are going to miss her so much but I’m confident the Lord has called her to this next assignment. I’m so proud of how she trusted the Lord throughout this process. She is taking a position that is going to maximize her strengths and spiritual giftedness. It would’ve been easier to “settle for less” but good things come to those who wait.
I’m confident she has a bright future ahead of her and I want to congratulate you all for helping send Claire into this assignment with all the tools and knowledge she needs. Because of your willingness to let her serve in all of these various capacities she can now go into this next assignment with the competence and confidence this position requires.
Part of our 2020 Vision was being a church that “sends missionaries.” Claire may not be going oversees but she is moving to one of the most culturally diverse cities in America and her ministry moving forward is going to reach people we would never be able to reach.
Your investment into her life is going to be bearing fruit in the years to come. So thank you for being generous in your tithes and offerings as well as your words of encouragement and faith in her future life in ministry. We will celebrate her tomorrow morning in service so I hope you can be there to send her off.
An Update From Brazil
Even as we send one person out to their next assignment, I wanted to close this week’s update with a video testimony from a missionary who has returned back from their ministry assignment.
Many of you remember that in January we sent one of our church members, Anaka Hinton, to Brazil as a long-term missionary. Little did we know that a novel coronavirus would breakout and make the ministry assignment in Brazil 100 times more interesting than it would’ve been otherwise.
Anaka has filmed a video describing her experience in Brazil so I want to encourage you to watch it and be encouraged by how your giving to the World Missions Offering had a direct and concrete impact on the unreached peoples in Brazil.
I hope you were as encouraged as I was by this video. Anaka speaks about the way in which being raised in a church that cares so deeply about missions is what gave her the desire to take this assignment. Who knows that the future holds for her?
Again, whatever that future is, you have a part in it because of your generosity to things like the World Missions Offering and your spiritual investment into the life of a young person growing up in this church. These are just two recent examples. Only God knows the full impact this church is having on the people who belong to this spiritual family.
The truth is, what happens in church when we gather together really makes an eternal impact in the world. You probably don’t see it when you’re in the moment but these little moments are cumulative and add up to something significant. The local church is God’s idea and He knew what he was doing when he created it.
I’ve got my own children growing up in this same church. I’m so thankful to belong to a church family that is passionate about reaching unreached people and that models well the love of Christ and the power of the Gospel.
One More Thing…
On that note – in case you’re actually STILL reading this hopelessly long email – Audra and I are excited to announce the addition of ONE MORE child into our little family! We’ve known for a long time but wanted to wait until we knew the sex of the baby before making the announcement.
A beautiful baby boy is due to be born later this fall (early November). I couldn’t be more excited! Blaise and AJ are also pumped. As Blaise said, “I can wrestle with him and WIN.” (I guess I should let him win more often when we wrestle…) Audra has endured this pregnancy like a champ even though it was really difficult early on. She’s the absolute best at being a mom and now we’ll be a family of FIVE.
All that being said, this is a particularly good Father’s Day for me. 2020 has been really tough in many ways. But even in the midst of great trial and change, God is faithful. God is good. His love never fails and our future is secure.
For others reading this email, your Father’s Day may not be as good. You may be facing a level of hardship that makes you feel as though you’re about to break. And for you, even in that valley low, God is faithful. He is good, his love never fails and your future is secure.
The Fatherly love of God is the thing we need whether we’re on a mountain high or a valley low. Wherever you find yourself, I hope you’ll direct your eyes towards him and allow his truth, goodness and beauty direct your steps moving forward.
It’ll be a few weeks until I write another update. So, until that time, I hope you have a happy June and wonderful 4th of July. If I don’t see you tomorrow then I’ll catch you on the interwebs.
Have a Happy Sunday!