Thoughts from the weekend:
This past week, Debbie and I have had the privilege of "breaking bread" with John and Lynn Whittal (in their home on Thursday evening),Larry and Marie Anich (in their home on Saturday evening) and Phil and Leisa McNamara (at the Patio yesterday).
In each circumstance, we had a great time, and it reinforced to us that we have a lot of great folks in our church!
At each home there was something special (each meal was delicious).
I loved the English tea served at the Whittals (served in the English style with milk).
Larry barbecued some ribs that were just out of sight.
We immensely enjoyed each meal and each time of fellowship.
I am grateful for all of the dedicated, faithful people who attend and serve Stone Church. We have a core of church family members that is as solid as a boulder of granite.
Something to build on.
Something to move forward on.
We rejoice at God's goodness to us - but at the same time we strive for more. We want to reach more people for God, we want to see more people connect to Christ, we desire that more people come, not just to fill up empty chairs with people, but to fill up empty lives with Jesus Christ.
I see us (as we move to 183rd street) providing a sane (as opposed to goofy and "off the wall", balanced approach to the Pentecostal experience. We desire to be who we are - Christ followers, who also believe that their is a Spiritual Power that we can tap into as believers that aids us in our walk and witness.
Yet at the same time, in conjunction with being Pentecostal, we desire to be culturally relevant.
Our church is going to be in between Family Harvest Church and Parkview Church. But even more than geographically, I foresee us being in the middle philosophically and practically as well.
Parkview is huge - a "seeker friendly" church.
Family Harvest is big - a "ultra faith" church.
Both of these church are great churches.
However, we can't expect to be Parkview Church or "Out Parkview" Parkview church.
We can't expect to be Family Harvest Church or "Out Family Harvest" Family Harvest Church.
We must be ourselves. We must go to our distinctive, not as a weakness but as a strength.
We want to be "seeker friendly" to the extent that we desire to see people connect to Christ.
We want to be "people of faith" to the extent that we are constantly desiring to be in a position as a church where we are participating in a vision that takes God, and God moving in us for it to happen.
So what will be our niche?
What will attract people to our church - that might not be drawn to either Parkview or Family Harvest?
Well, these are guesses at this point, but something to ponder (and not given in any order of importance or rank).
We believe in times spent in the presence of God before and after the presentation of the message.
We believe in the spiritual use of a prayer language, both privately and corporately in worship settings, as well as the initial step of being "baptized in the Holy Spirit."
We believe in healing.
We believe that God heals today.
We believe in signs and wonders.
We believe in strong discipleship times.
We believe in relationships through life groups.
We believe that to serve is the highest expression of my love for Christ.
I think that people are going to find that we (for the time being) will be small enough to minister to them personally, but large enough to minister to their family.
At any rate, each church is part of the body of Christ. My prayer is that we will all work together in advancing His Kingdom.
And...while I welcome all kinds of church growth techiques and one, two, three, four, five steps to becoming a larger church, I do know that ultimtaely it comes down to being led by the spirit, walking in the spirit, and operating in the pwoer of the Spirit of the Living God.