Lately, I’ve heard a song on the radio that has really touched my heart. It seems to play every time I get in the car. At first, it was a catchy tune, and I quickly learned to sing along, but as I drove this afternoon I had to pull over in a parking lot and just listen. The song hit my heart so hard that tears were in my eyes, and I couldn’t keep going until I looked up the lyrics and talked to God about it.
In Christian circles today, church planting remains a popular ministry option. It’s not hard to find a multitude of church planting resources. Books, seminars, podcasts, websites, even entire mission agencies, exist to help church planters succeed. A large majority of these resources imply, if not explicitly declare, that the end game for a church planter is to plant a church as God has directed him. But such a goal falls far short of God’s desire.
It is that time of year again here in New England – time to celebrate another winning Patriots season. But it’s not only their athletic skills that I admire.
A few years ago, they made the phrase “Do Your Job” popular, and my wife bought a Patriots beanie with that slogan. When they won Super Bowl 49 (I’m not so good at Roman numerals), there was a documentary called “Do Your Job” that followed the Patriots season. The filmmakers showed the interior of the Patriots offices, and etched on a glass door were the staff rules —
I have only been the lead pastor of two churches: a church plant in a rural-to-suburban community in Washington state and a replant/revitalization pastor of a church in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. On the surface there seems to be very little common ground, but something that I have learned in both roles is the importance of community engagement.
While every season has its beautiful parts, the Christmas season seems to be more special than every other time of the year. Radio stations don’t switch format to celebrate Columbus Day. Hallmark doesn’t roll out 25 new made-for-TV movies every year for the fourth of July. There are special decorations, loads of food, giving and receiving. We’re intentional about scheduling time with special people. There are many things to love about this season, and I am a card-carrying member of the herd that loves them.
But if we were honest, couldn’t we all list oﬀ just as many reasons why this season isn’t so amazing?
Jesus prays for us. He prays for the believers and churches in New England.
One of his prayers is recorded in John 17:20-22: “I pray…for those who believe in me through their [the disciples’] word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you…so that they may be one as we are one.”
For 10 years I served as the pastor of a church in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. It was an historic church, located in an affluent neighborhood where military families and federal employees lived. And it was almost completely Caucasian. The neighborhood, however, gradually changed. Different ethnic groups moved in and church attendance began to decline.
Last Sunday my wife and I were out for an afternoon drive. We were enjoying the fall foliage when we happened upon a lovely scene near a campground. At the entrance to the campground there was a river that emptied into a pond, a lovely covered bridge, and several historical items on display. But what caught our eye the most was the lovely mannequin of an old man fishing. It was meticulously set up beside the covered bridge and looked like it had been there many years. We pulled into the small parking lot and took in the whole scene. It was amazing.