Have you ever downloaded one of those apps that looks like it can do amazing things, only to find out that the free version of the app has limited functionality, and if you want all the features, you need to make an “in app purchase?” Usually the free version of the app is little more than a test drive. It’s good for a spin, but it’s just there to whet the appetite.
For many of us, being a part of a local church for the past 12 months has felt like we’ve downloaded the trail version. We’ve had very limited functionality. At the risk of mixing metaphors, it’s like we’ve been on a restricted diet. We’ve been getting enough to survive spiritually. But not much more than that.
I am grateful for live streaming. I’m grateful for Zoom. I’m grateful that in a pandemic year, we’ve had options for staying connected as a church body.
But I’m also aware of all we’ve been missing. Watching church at home is not the same as being together for worship. Zoom small groups are not the same as being with one another for prayer. Jen and Matt have done a great job with the weekly video for kids, but it’s been sad that our kids have not had weekly in person Gospel Zone times together.
And even as we’ve been able to gather for church, the masks and the social distancing have taken a toll on our life together as a church body. It turns out that not being able to see someone smiling back at you matters. Hugs matter.
There’s a good reason we’ve taken the precautions we’ve taken. But as the months turned into more than a year of caution, what I think all of us have come to realize is that really being connected as part of a local church involves a lot more than showing up, participating in a Sunday service and then being done for the week.
Don’t get me wrong. I think gathering and participating in weekly corporate worship is essential for our anyone to thrive spiritually. It’s essential, but as this year has reminded us, it is barely sufficient. As we’ve learned in a fresh way this year, attending regular worship services is a small part of what it means to be a part of a local church.
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews spells out for us how we ought to respond to what God has done for us in Christ. He writes in chapter 10 that because of what Jesus did in His death and resurrection, when we are in Christ, we can draw near to God. We can enter the holy place. We have access to our High Priest through the new and living way He has opened up for us.
Therefore, he writes, we should “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:22-23)
Because of what Jesus has done, we can and should draw near to God. We can and should rest in the fact that our sins are forgiven and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. And we should stand firm in our faith and not waver.
But it doesn’t stop there. We are also to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). Our walk with Jesus is about more than just us and Him. It’s about how we function with one another. Going it alone spiritually is a recipe for failure. Unless we have each other to encourage, challenge, equip, motivate, cheer, support, confront and prod one another, we will likely become weary and discouraged.
He goes on to challenge us not to neglect meeting together, as is the habit of some (Hebrews 10:25). Why? Because the Body of Christ is a living organism. We need each other to function as we should.
Most people look at Hebrews 10:25 and think it’s all about regularly attending Sunday services. But the call not to neglect meeting together is about so much more than Sundays. It’s about how we love and serve and stir one another up to love and good works all week long. It’s about encouraging each other to walk with God.
You and I need to be stirred. And we need to be stirrers. In fact, what we find as we take on the responsibility to pour into the lives of others, God uses that in our own lives to cause us to grow in grace. We grow and mature spiritually as we pour ourselves into one another’s lives.
I’ve said this many times over the years. But it bears repeating. You will be most healthy spiritually when two things are true: First, when you can point to the people who are regularly pouring into your life spiritually. And second, when you can point to the people whose lives you are pouring into.
Speaking of ministry to children …
ON SUNDAY MORNINGS, WE NEED YOUR HELP!
We’re looking for those who would be willing ever six weeks or so to be with the nursery kids or help with the pre-school class. There’s minimal prep requires, and it will give you a chance to pour into the lives of some of our most precious family members.
Reach out to Jen Gurney and let her know you’re interested and available. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or text her at 859-771-6580 for more information. Or when she calls you, say “yes, I’d love to help.”
We are beginning the process of restarting some of what has been on hold this past year.
We now have two classes for children open on Sunday morning – one class for the 0-3 year old’s, and another class for the 4-6 year old’s. In the months ahead, we plan to restart the Gospel Zone classes at church for the elementary aged children. /
|The Gathering for ladies will include singing, conversation, testimonies and food. If you’re new to Redeemer, this is a great way to get to meet folks and begin to engage. Click this evite to RSVP so we can know how many boxed dinners to provide that evening.|
Small groups are making plans for more regular, in person times together. And as we’ve shared, we have activities planned over the next few months for all of us to be able to connect again – the Women’s Gathering at Maumelle Park next week, the Buffalo Float Trip in May, the Parking Lot Picnics in June and the Magic Springs trip in July. We’re also looking at opportunities for Bible studies or book studies through the summer. All events are posted on our web Calendar.
Our goal with these activities is not to keep us busy. It’s to provide on ramps for what we’ve been missing for so many months – being together, sharing life, encouraging and supporting and loving one another.
These get togethers will allow us to get to know new people. And to have some “in person” time with friends we haven’t been together with for way too long.
We need it. I need it. It will do us all some real, spiritual good. It will be good for our souls. It’s all part of what being a church is all about.
Here’s a quick rundown of our plans…
The Float Trip
|The trip will cost $30-$35 per person. Scholarships are available. BYO Lunch. The deadline to sign up and pay or arrange scholarship is May 2. Email or text Pastor Matt for more info or to let him know you’d like to go. Mattgurney77@gmail.com.|
MAGIC SPRINGS THEME PARK & WATER PARK
COLLECTIVE REND CONCERT
And EVERYONE is welcome at the July 10 Magic Springs Theme Park and Water Park day. Rend Collective will be in Arkansas for a special evening concert. Plan to join students and others who will be making a full day of it – fun and music together.
Unbelief is an interesting thing. People can be so committed to their unbelief that in the face of overwhelming evidence, they come up with their own narrative and persist in their stubborn refusal to accept what is obvious to others. It happens in our day, just like it happened in John 9, as the Pharisees refused to even entertain the possibility that the Messiah had come and was in their midst.
We’ll continue to explore what John tells us about the remarkable healing of the man who was born blind as we gather for worship this Sunday.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!