We spent New Year’s Eve with our family in Florida. That morning, Mary Ann and I worshipped at a nearby church. We felt right at home, singing familiar hymns, digging deeply into God’s word, praying together for ourselves and for our world. We were glad we were able to join with our extended spiritual family in worship.
When we have to be away from Redeemer on a Sunday, we like visiting local churches. On our sabbatical this past summer, we worshipped in local churches in Ft. Worth, in Redlands CA, in Las Vegas, in Rapid City SD, in St. Joe MI and in Brooklyn NY. While there were subtle differences in each of the worship services we attended, God’s word was faithfully proclaimed in each of these churches. That’s not something we can take for granted in our day. In each case, we were greatly encouraged.
Just before Christmas, blogger Tim Challies published a post where he offered 32 Random Thoughts About The Local Church. Here are a handful of Tim’s thoughts on how each of us can strengthen our churches:
“Your giftedness makes your church stronger and your sins and weaknesses make it weaker.”
“Every church has its unique collection of strengths and weaknesses… Count the cost before moving on.”
“Make it your habit to pray through the membership directory. You cannot help but come to love people as you pray for them.”
“Church membership matters. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility of the Christian to be formally connected to a particular local church.”
“It’s okay to clap or raise your hands in worship… it’s probably worth giving it a try as a means of physically expressing your worship.”
“It is a blessing when the adults in a church take an interest in the children. It is a blessing when parents know that the Christians around them love to befriend and influence their children.”
“Make the local church the main priority in your giving. And do that giving with joy.”
There’s much more in Tim’s blog post. But I want to highlight three things he mentioned that I think would be good for each of us to think about.
Tim writes “One unheralded ministry in the church is the ministry of arriving early. In many churches, it is often guests who arrive first and they can feel awkward if they are alone. Those who get there early have the opportunity to serve in welcoming newcomers and engaging them in conversation. Conversely, those who continually show up late miss out on many opportunities to serve others.”
I know that it can be tough to corral a houseful of kids on a Sunday morning to get everyone fed and dressed and off to church to arrive on time. But I also know if you were heading to the airport for a flight, you would do whatever you needed to do to arrive at your gate on time and not miss your flight.
Visitors arrive at church 10 minutes before the service starts. It would be great if we had a lot of you there when they arrive to greet them and make them feel welcome.
What would it take for you to regularly arrive at church at 9:50 on Sunday?
Another unheralded ministry, Tim writes, is “the ministry of singing loud. Our culture doesn’t really know what to do with singing and few people have been trained to sing well and confidently. If you have a good voice and know how to use it, you can bless the people around you by singing out your praises in as loud a voice as is appropriate.”
I’ve been greatly encouraged this year to hear our congregation singing more robustly and passionately in our corporate worship. Let’s continue making a joyful noise.
Finally, Tim writes “As soon as a worship service ends, make it your goal to meet someone you have never met or to spend time with someone you barely know. You can catch up with your close friends later. The first two minutes matter most.”
One of the things I’ve heard over and over again from people who have visited our church is how friendly and welcomed you have made them feel. I’m so grateful that has been part of our culture.
I’m also aware that many of you look around on any given Sunday these days and see a lot of people whose names you don’t know and whose stories you’ve never heard. Why not approach someone this Sunday and introduce yourself? “I don’t think we’ve met yet, have we? My name is…” That’s a wonderful ministry.
I tell people all the time how blessed I am to serve our church family. God has blessed our fellowship in so many ways. I’m praying in 2024 that we can continue to grow in grace as a church. I hope you’ll join me in that prayer. And look for ways you can be used by God in making those prayers a reality.
I noted above that in Tim Challies’ blogpost, he said “church membership matters.” I agree. And this weekend, we’ll be gathering with individuals and families who want to learn more about Redeemer as they consider joining with us as new members.
If you’d like to be part of that gathering, it’s not to late. Here’s the info. Please let Pastor Matt know if you’re planning to attend (email@example.com).
Our small groups have started meeting again. January is the perfect time to plug yourself into a group.
Here are the times and other details about our small groups.
If you’re not currently in a group, visit a few different groups and see what you think. There is no better way to connect yourself to others in our body.
Any questions? Email Pastor Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ladies, the spring Women’s Bible Study starts the week of January 21, with classes on Monday nights and Tuesday afternoons. The study will be in 2 Corinthians.
You can click here to get more information about the study and register to attend.
Guys, are you planning to attend the Men’s Fellowship breakfast on Saturday, January 27?
We’ll be getting together for some great food and great fellowship that morning.
If you’d like to look ahead to plans for the spring, you can click here to download a copy of our Winter/Spring calendar. Or pick up a copy this Sunday at church.
If you’ve read through the book of Revelation, I’m guessing you had a few questions by the time you were done. This Sunday, we’re beginning an extended study of the final book of the Bible. We’ll set the stage for our study with an overview of things we need to consider if we’re going to understand the vital message in this important book of the Bible.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!