Well it’s Easter week. These are always incredible weeks for those of us deeply connected to a church. Many churches have special events, unique services, times of reflections, larger attendances for weekend services as well as increased energy and involvement over the course of this week. God has a way of uniquely moving during this time each year.
I wanted to encourage those of us who attend Grace Fellowship with some things to consider as we head into this week.
- Get to one of the 10 services at the 3 locations. Do whatever you have to do. I really believe you will be blessed. So move past any excuse (family sports, travel, sadness that the Masters is over) and just make it happen.
- Please RSVP for the service you plan to attend. RSVP for yourself and any person joining you that is 6th grade or over. You can do that at gracefellowship.cc/easter. This really helps our team. Thanks in advance.
- Invite friend or many friends to join you for service. Please do not say “no” for them. The chances are greater that they will say yes. Take the risk. Life change may just be one invitation away for someone you love.
- Help us pull off Eggsplosion. We are hosting two Eggsplosions at two of our campuses. Our Upper Arlington and Licking Heights campuses still need volunteers. We are at crunch time. Sign up to help us love our communities at graceimpact.cc.
- Be awesome in attending the service you choose. This means be on time, be patient and kind, and scoot in the row you sit in. With more people expected, you can be a blessing by being here early (you will be glad you did). Recognize that someone might take your seat and the parking lot might be a little more hectic than normal. Preparing for more people scooting in your row helps out a lot.
- Pray that God moves. Prayer works and is powerful. Ask God to move over the course of this week in an incredible way. Last year, the mother of one my best friends became a Christian on Easter. Let’s pray for lots of stories like that.
Our church has several career openings right now. Grace Fellowship is looking to bring some quality people onto our team in some unique positions. I think Grace is not only a great church, but an incredible place to work. (Of course I am biased) Nothing about our environment is perfect, but we have a rewarding culture where we work hard, attack the various challenges, have fun and invest in something we believe matters.
I would love for you to take a look at the link below and jump into the process if any of these roles are for you. Here is the link to check out the various roles we are pursuing: www.gracefellowship.cc/careers.
I have had the privilege of being a pastor for over 12 years. When you do anything for any significant period of time, you hear the same comments, thoughts, frustrations and joys over and over. Grace Fellowship is beginning a new sermon series that is built on one of the things I have heard over and over. It is the reality that people do not engage God, drift from God or walk away from God because they say “they don’t feel it.” People make a decision about the existence and reality of God based on emotions and feelings.
I want to encourage you to be here this weekend (and bring someone with you) as we begin a 3-week conversation about how to deal with the fact that there are times when we all don’t feel it.
I was at a Cavaliers game not long ago with my son. It was between quarters and the cheerleaders and hype squad people came out and were throwing little plastic basketballs to the fans. So all around the arena, people were going crazy wanting one of these little plastic balls. This included my 11-year-old son. He was going nuts. He was jumping around and screaming. All for a ball that truth be told he has gotten before there and at other games. I am not sure he knows where any of those plastic balls are. I kept thinking “all of these people going crazy for something they will not care about in 48 hours.”
I feel like this a great microcosm of life. We all have the “little plastic balls” in our lives. It’s the thing that we work so hard for. The thing that led us to lose relationships. The thing the cost us our morality. The thing that we had to have because everyone else did. We got it and then we realized we did not even care. Maybe the great tragedy in life is not that we get what we want, but that we get what we want and realize it was the wrong thing in the first place. It seems as though we should really examine the object of our passions and count the cost before we just start praying the price.
Ok Grace Fellowship, we are just a little over a day away from the start of our 10 Christmas Eve services over the three campuses. I know myself and our staff are so excited to celebrate Christmas with thousands of you. We have been praying and are trusting God to move in an incredible way over this Christmas weekend. We want to make sure our services are the best experience possible for every person that steps onto a Grace Fellowship campus. We also want to maximize our impact over this weekend as well. With these thoughts in mind, here are few things to consider:
- Please RSVP – I know. You may be sick of hearing this if you are a Grace regular. But it is key. We are trying hard to prepare for every person who is a part of the Grace family and every guest that will come. There are some services at the Pickerington campus that are already at capacity. There is still room at the 1:00, 5:00 and particularly the 7:00 pm on the 24th. Please go to gracefellowship.cc/christmas to RSVP. If you are waiting on hearing back from a guest, just go ahead and RSVP for you or your family and then add your guests later.
- Be Generous – We are going to be taking an offering across the 10 services. Not a dime will go to Grace. We are putting a period on our Giving It Back initiative by giving away every dollar we receive at these services. You will not be giving TO a church. You will be giving THROUGH a church. So please be prepared to be generous and know your generosity will serve some people who really need the funds.
- Keep Inviting – You are probably over hearing this as well. But come on, life change might just be an invitation away. Take the risk. Ask again. Ask for the first time. Be gentle and kind in your ask, but ask. The stats say people will say yes more often than not for this time of the year.
- Extend Grace – There will be lots of people at many of the services. There will be many cars. There will be people who have never been at that campus. There will be some who did not want to come, but the family made them. Smile. Be patient. Greet warmly. Let people out of their parking spot. Realize they may not know that you always sit there. Remember the message of the gospel starts in the parking lot and is being preached in the lobby by the way people are valued.
- Give Up Your Seat – This will certainly not apply to everyone. If you end up at service, where it is so crowded we need to have people go to overflow, consider giving up your seat for a guest. If you are a Christian, who is by yourself or with your family, please consider, if the need arises, letting someone have the best church experience possible by giving up your seat.
- Pray – I believe God hears our prayers and is engaged in our world in real time. Ask God to be clearly glorified during these services. Ask God for your friends and family to say yes to coming to service. Ask God to move many from death to life. Ask God to speak to your heart. Ask that you understand even more of the grace of Christ. Be praying.
I look forward to seeing you over the next few days. Have a great time with your family and friends this holiday season. Merry Christmas!
I love when the potential and beauty of the church of Jesus is released. I just love it. Whenever I see the church at work through its people via the mobilization of local churches, I just smile. It is so cool. There are so many individuals and local churches that intentionally unleash generosity on people in need in incredibly creative ways.
The church I am part of works hard to do this. I was so proud of our people recently through an initiative called Shark Tank. The initiative, as you can guess, was patterned off of the popular show Shark Tank where entrepreneurs pursue the partnerships and dollars of wealthy investors (the sharks) to make their business/ invention/ product go forward. Our church asked our Grace Groups to come up with ideas that their group would execute if given $1000. Each group created its proposal and then submitted it to our staff. After going through all the applications/ ideas, 10 groups were chosen to receive $1000 each for a total of $10,000 It was so cool to see what these groups did. It is just awesome. This video highlights some of what the Shark Tank winners were able to accomplish.
Everyone was pumped this weekend for daylight savings time to end. This meant we would all receive that valued extra one hour of sleep we get each year at this time. As people commented and celebrated this reality, I had a not so pleasant dialogue going on in my own head. It went something like this. “Must be nice for you. I am not going to get that sleep. I have 2 year old twins and they don’t give a rip about what we do with our clocks. So you enjoy, but my wife and I will be not be getting any extra sleep.” I kept all this in my head, but I thought it each time I heard some one talk about it. And as I thought about it, I processed all the potential emotions that could come with the reality. I was annoyed, jealous, indifferent, disappointed, tired, etc.
But this is the deal. This is just a season. It is the season our family is in. That season will end and another season will begin. Seasons are real and we must acknowledge that. In fact someone I really respect said something to me about seasons I will never forget. He stressed the importance of identifying the season you are in and capitalizing on that season’s uniqueness. I think this is sound advice for all of us. Whether I am single or married, new in my career or retired, pregnant or raising children, on vacation or in a growth season on the job, or whatever… there is power to really embracing the season I am in and how I can leverage it.
Here are some things to consider regarding seasons:
- Identify the specific seasons you are in.
- What unique and exciting opportunities are present because of those seasons?
- What are some of the best lessons you can learn during your current seasons?
- What are you going to miss if you wish away this season of your life?
- Who could help you navigate the seasons you are in more effectively?
- What are the things this season demands of you that will only be temporary?
Marriage, dating, romance, sex: these are things that affect all of us in some capacity. Starting this weekend, Grace Fellowship is going to have a 4 week conversation about these topics and the various realities connected to them. Let me encourage you to make it a priority to be here for each weekend of the series. Bring your kids. Bring a friend. I am trusting you will be glad you did.
Some time ago my son was continuously telling me how he was crushing teams on FIFA 16 (this is an Xbox 1 video game). He would come up to me and tell me how he crushed this Premier League team or that MLS team or some national team. He would go on and on about the number of goals he scored against these teams, the moves he made and in general about his overall dominance.
I decided to check something about his game. What I discovered is that he had the game set on the lowest level for the play of each game. I do not remember the exact levels, but they are something like “Rookie” then “Experienced,” then “Professional” and ultimately “World Class.” Whatever the exact names are does not matter. He had it set on the easiest one. He did this so he can win. He felt good about his situation because he set up a weak enemy to battle against.
So what, right? He is 11 playing video games. But I think many of us do something like this in real life. We have an opinion or an idea or an argument for whatever. We convince ourselves we are right by setting up weak arguments or straw men in our heads for the opposing or opposite opinion. We put the opposition on rookie mode and then crush them. This may make us feel smart, but it is not honest and in the end it is silly. If an idea or opinion or position or argument is strong, we should not fear strong opponents or opposition. In fact the strength of the opponent should force us to see the strength of our point. When we argue in rookie level, we actually minimize our intelligence and the effectiveness we could have in making a case. Furthermore, we minimize how smart others are and the fact that they make have a good case or sound logic for their position. Let’s be careful not to call ourselves smart and correct and others dumb and wrong based on a scenario that positions us as a Harvard law grad and others as having the logic of preschooler. Because the truth is, neither of those is usually true. Be sober minded about your intelligence and the intelligence of others.
To be an obedient Christian is to be someone who wants others to become Christians. Not out of duty or have to or obligation or the importance of being right, but rather because you have tasted and seen the goodness of God and you want others to experience that same goodness. I think many Christians are for the idea of reaching others in principle. It is just the pesky reality that this means engaging and seeking out other real humans that becomes the challenge. We love people, but we don’t love loving them.
I had to the privilege to be in Athens, Greece recently. While my wife were in Athens we were able to visit some really powerful places. One of those places included a spot where the Apostle Paul visited and engaged lost people for Christ. As I walked this space, I was convicted and challenged to think about some important realities to pursuing others for Christ.