August 7, 2016
A very solid Sunday, especially on the heels of disappointment from Saturday’s news about the CORE contract. The message was as much for me as for anyone else. Standing firm while avoiding being drawn into a fight on the devil’s terms is sound advice no matter where we are in our walk. All ministries performed well. John went above and beyond on Saturday to ensure Zeke would have ac. Praise and worship went well, song selection fit nicely, and it set the tone for the rest of service. Volume continues to be an issue. It is a practice vs. game day issue.. There were other minor coordination issues throughout worship, but none which hampered the team. I enjoyed hearing Dylan and Jenna and John’s lyrical electrical guitar riffs were especially nice. Deniz’s 2@2 was a bookend to the message God gave me. Spiritual maturity is the only answer to the drama which ails us. Deniz had more than enough fire to preach the entire message. It was good to have kids back. They bring a lighter spirit, but I missed having Deniz in service. The sermon was well received and seemed to cut through some of the clutter. The idea of fighting the enemy with a powerful style of martial arts developed God is a solid replacement for the passive and weak characteristics we allow the world to hang on us.
There were a few issues which we will need to keep a close watch on. Tyler’s absence created a hole in the kitchen, transportation, and cleanup. I enjoyed filling the gap in the kitchen and gave Shawn the extra hands he needed to succeed. However, Jenna will be leaving soon and we currently do not have enough competent hands to fill her spot. Had Shawn opted the pressure on the kitchen would have been much worse. Transportation ran smoothly, but left the cleanup ranks thin as well. I was happy to see Sam return and he has expressed interest in helping fill the gaps. Rick, Lanita, and Gladys are greatly needed as well, but all are struggling. Jason Naugle was a strong helper throughout and John, Jason, and Adam were solid leaders.
I enjoyed service and will be happy if we can duplicate it, but it ran very long. My sermon didn’t begin until 11:00. At that point I resigned myself to the fact we were going to be late. I enjoyed sharing the origins of the message and my testimony; I felt a peace settle over me as I spoke. I also realized it was going to make the message even longer. The Devil’s attack brought service to a screeching halt. At this point I knew the enemy was attempting to shut me up. I was happy at the church’s response, James prayed while Shawn and Jason attended. I would like service to end around 11:30 each week including an altar call, but I cannot cut the message short to accommodate our schedule. I will look for ways to tighten service without editing God.
August 14, 2016
I enjoyed Sunday even though we have noticeably shrunk in size. There could be any number of causes including; the summer season, our location, the quality of our breakfast, family drama, and service length. I’m willing to explore options with the elders and leaders, but I am comfortable leaving a sizeable portion of the plan in God’s hands. Our smaller size is requiring me to be more hands-on in most every facet of ministry. It feels good to be active. It reminds me of my earliest days of ministry and helps me appreciate the efforts of our leaders and volunteers.
Service ran smooth without interruption. I was happy to see Emory in the mix. Janice, Luanne, Emory, and Cowboy came forward during altar time and once again God’s peace was present. Jason Naugle, stepped up during worship and made himself available for the Holy Spirit. Deniz offered the interpretation, it was the first time we had two people partnering; very cool and encouraging.
The praise and worship team was still louder than I would like, but I Jasmine was strong. They are still experiencing some growing pains from Jasmine moving to keyboard. I’m hopeful it will gel soon; I enjoy their fuller sound. Eric expressed interest in developing the choir and Jasmine will dig into why the original mic stands never shipped and buy replacements if needed.
The sermons continue to be simple; encouraging the church to make meaningful first steps to a deeper relationship with God. It challenged the common perception of Christians be weak and naïve. I have a new appreciation for Ecclesiastes and I expect the church to begin pursuing “The Simple Life” with me. Service ended in the neighborhood of on-time. I’m planning on speaking to the Elders about gathering prayer needs before service and eliminating or reducing the Pastor chat segment at the beginning.
Transportation ran smoother than ever. John and Adam are solid drivers. They are very familiar with the routes and have the right heart to serve. Drivers with the right heart are hard to find and I’m grateful this part of our ministry continues to improve. I was disappointed the ac repair didn’t work. Nemo was as hot as ever and there were more complaints.
We are still waiting for God’s plan to reveal itself about a new facility. There are several glimmers on the horizon which keep Deniz and I moving forward towards the Commonwealth property. I continue to trust God and allow him to search my heart to make certain my motives are pure and I am not seeking new for the sake of new. I will be happy with whatever God chooses to provide. In the meantime, I’m encouraging our leaders to continue to grow. I’m grieved by the leaders who have fallen away in the last few months, but I am encouraged by the strength and resiliency of those who are willing to stand with me and be crafted by the fire. It is not a comfortable process and I understand the reluctance of others, but I know it is the only way forward. To become Connections, we must become tempered warriors ready for battle.
August 21, 2016
Well, didn’t see that one coming. “Count on God for the increase” is always my heart, but it often catches me off guard when he delivers. I didn’t know what to expect when I pulled into the Kearney. Like most Sundays, there small pockets of people everywhere. This time, to my surprise, the majority began boarding Nemo and I was soon making calculations on whether I would be able to complete my route. By the time I was leaving the Lake Bradford area we were standing room only.
Many who attended were new faces to me. Some were the result of Adam’s outreach efforts and others new to Tallahassee. I spent most of my morning introducing myself and visiting with people in the sanctuary. There was lots of activity and several details threatened to pull us off our mark, but each flare up and minor medical emergency was addressed and taken care of quickly. We cannot afford to spread ourselves thin on Sunday’s by returning people home. Three key leaders, including myself were taken out of the picture for extended periods of time. We will need to explain our services better, especially for new people.
Shawn was the only early morning volunteer so we simplified breakfast in order to make it easy to manage. He arrived by 6:30 and was well ahead of the curve. I was able to set up the computer and projector and speak briefly to John before beginning my route at 7:30. Supplies ran low and there was confusion about the eggs and apple juice, but these were all products of an ever shifting tag team kitchen crew. Fortunately, we didn’t run out of anything and our reserves saw us through.
Worship went very well. There are still some coordination issues, but Jasmine led with a with a tighter grip from the keyboard. The congregation responded and there was a sweet atmosphere in the room.
I eliminated the Pastor meet and greet and it shifted to Deniz’s 2@2. I love the idea of sharing testimonies based on the 2@2, but we will need to continue to hone or opening segment. Service length was average, finishing around 11:40 and boarding for home by 12:15. I encouraged people not to move toward the buses early to avoid the heat, which made the church feel more crowded after service. However, there was lots of time for extended conversations and fellowship.
Nemo’s ac is still not strong enough. Opening windows to prevent heat from building up in the bus failed. The open windows let the coolish air the ac was generating escape and left the bus even warmer than usual. Most of the riders were sweating by the time I made it to the Kearney. I will ask John to help me recharge the system before Sunday.
People responded well to the message and the altar was full. Many came seeking direction for their lives and Britney choose to give her life to Christ. I was pleased to see our elders active at the altar and seeking navigation points of their own. Cowboy is fully engaged and enjoys asking questions. Although James was not himself at the beginning of service, by the end he regained his fire and was excited to greet whatever God brings his way. I’m becoming more encouraged each week as God brings strength to our team and new faces for us to serve. Lord, thank you for the increase.