reflections from an elder - january 13th
As we hear that word “transition,” a lot of different thoughts may cross our minds. Basically, it’s a moving from one thing to another. And, as a church, we know that we are moving from our time with Pastor Piet to our time with Pastor Chris. I’ll quickly admit that my feelings, perhaps like yours, are a little mixed. It’s tough to let go of something we are familiar with, something we hold dear, and move toward something that we trust will be great, but is less familiar to us.
Let me share with you two things that have greatly encouraged me as I think about this change that we are now in the midst of. The first is something Piet said in his message last week: “do not press the Pause button.” He commended us for who we are as a body of believers, as a people who are dedicated to a mission, and actually do what we say we want to do. But then he also warned us not to stop being who we are just because we are going through a few weeks of transition. Thank you, Piet, for those parting blessings!
The second thing that has been an encouragement to me has been my conversations with Pastor Chris in these past few weeks. Please know that his heart is already with us. He has already been praying for us. He is so eager to be with us that he is going to be leading us in worship for a couple weeks before he and his family can actually move here. Please continue to pray for him, for Anna, and the boys, so that God will be near to them as they too will be going through some big changes in their lives.
We will miss Piet and Carol. That’s normal; and, that’s OK. Remember them in prayer too as they will be making some major adjustments as well. But as they work in another part of God’s Kingdom, let us continue to do the Lord’s work in this part of His Kingdom, and look forward in faith to the blessings that lie before us.
Previous Pastor Corner Blogs
Sooo, yeah… my last update as your interim pastor. What do I say?
I am going to share my Grace highlights this weekend, so I hope you can make it. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here and want to look you in the eye as I share about the ways you have inspired and blessed me over these last 18 months.
If for some reason you can make the service, please consider joining us for the pot luck after the service. For those who may be out of town over the weekend, I will be in the office for my last day on Monday January 7. I will be moving the final boxes out of the office, but I plan on making some time available in the middle of the day from 11:00-2:00, should you want to say a personal good-bye.
I will leave you with a prayer that will be on my heart with every remembrance of you…
Dearest Lord Jesus, I thank you for the people of Grace Fellowship. They were birthed out of a passion to reach those whom others would not have been able (willing?) to reach. They have been called to the ‘bleeding edge’ of evangelistic creativity.
Although that has always been their aspiration, these last seasons have taken their toll on the full expression of that vision. But it has not been lost in their hearts. It still lives as a fire within them. Bring it to full fruition Lord. May the hopes and dreams of living ‘out there’ stir their hearts with great regularity. Energize their gifts and give them a courageous responsiveness to your Spirit. May they not walk in fear. May they not be distracted by petty things but be in unity about all that matters.
Grant Pastor Chris your anointing and favor in this community. Establish his leadership in a way that allows him great liberty to be used mightily by you for the sake of your kingdom’s expansion in this city. Bless him and his family, and may they know many fruitful years in this place.
In the powerful name of Jesus!
With great joy and love for you all…
This weekend, Carol and I will be dedicating a tree on the grounds here at Grace Fellowship. It is a thank-you we want to share with the church for your kindness and responsiveness to us in this last year. Many of you have been kind enough to say positive things about our tenure at Grace. It has been a fruitful and rebuilding season for the church – with lots of reasons for rejoicing! Lots of people helped make that happen. We feel blessed just to have been a part.
What you should also know is that this last season has been really good for Carol and me too. I have loved living in a Dutch community. Carol has relished her opportunity to launch an AirBnB at the Villa. And our ministry experience at Grace has been filled with memorable baptisms, professions of faith, new members, and life-changing events. We have loved every minute of it – and much of that is due to your cooperative and risk-taking spirit. Thank-you!
But the tree isn’t just about saying “thank-you.” It is also our way of expressing hope for your future. I am quite confident that Pastor Chris will serve you extremely well, in this next season of ministry. Yet, not every day will be an easy day. There will be times where it gets hard. There will be days where you doubt. That’s just the reality of life.
In the ups and downs of ministry life, our hope and prayer is that you find the tree an inspiration. May it serve as a reminder that a church (like a tree) stands strong and true when its roots are deep. In the case of the church it is about being rooted in God’s word and remembering his promises. Every time you pass the tree, may you be reminded of the good you have known and the good you have yet to discover!
Your best days are still before you…
Christmas is just a few days away, and we are probably all very excited about the gifts we will be able to share with our friends and family. And for the record, I do still enjoy that practice myself. We often hear the admonishment (especially among Christians) that its “not about the gifts!”
And yet it is - at least at some level.
Gift-giving at Christmas is a great joy - especially when it is done in the right spirit. I love thinking about ways I can bless my friends and family with a thoughtful gift to express my love and appreciation for them. AND, yes, its also nice to be on the receiving end as well. I love everything about it. Life can get so busy at times. It’s nice to have the excuse of stopping long enough to think about the ways we can bless our loved ones with a thoughtful expression of our appreciation.
What I can also heartily affirm is that Christmas isn’t ONLY about the gifts. It is obviously and most importantly about the Christ child - the greatest gift ever given. And I do love that celebration the most. We are going to be able to celebrate that together as a church family on Christmas Eve.
And I am very excited about our Christmas Eve service this year. We have some special creative elements that I hope will make the time together especially meaningful.
With that in mind, I hope you will be mindful of an invitation that you might extend to a neighbor, colleague, or family member that might need a special reminder of the true meaning of Christmas. After welcoming a new slate of new members this past weekend, we have been reminded (all over again) of the power of a strategic invite. Please take a courageous step and ask a friend to join you.
Lord, do your prep work!
The service is scheduled for Monday, December 23, at 7:00pm. My family and I look forward to being with you.
This Sunday we will be welcoming five new members into Grace Fellowship. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about it – and I want to tell you why.
Taking in new members is a wonderful thing, because it means that people are identifying with our mission and feeling connected to our congregation. It also serves as a reminder that our mission matters and loving people makes a difference. The simple “yeses” we will hear on Sunday is packed with all that richness!
But, in this case, it is also more than that.
One of the things I remember hearing early in my tenure at Grace was related to the families that are part of the Wednesday kid’s ministry. The church was able to reach the kids, but the rest of the family was a bit harder to reach. I remember many prayers being prayed for the parents of these kids. I also remember watching the way parents were treated whenever they came to the church – wonderfully loved and embraced. It regularly moved me.
Point being that sometimes it takes time to see fruit from seeds planted. It requires faithful service when there are no immediate returns. God honors faithfulness. I am absolutely delighted that I get to witness these years of investment paying off. Several of those becoming members are a direct product of our Wednesday ministry to kids.
So, as these new families join our church this weekend, I hope everyone who has volunteered to teach a class, serve a meal, clean up the kitchen, pray for the ministry and/or put an offering in the basket on Sunday – remembers that each of you are an integral part of their spiritual journey. Without your willingness to serve and give (often sacrificially), we would not be seeing what we are seeing this weekend.
Thank-you for your faithfulness.
You did not become weary and well-doing. Therefore, the time for harvesting has come, because you did not give up. Well done good and faithful servants.