Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Dear Green Valley Church Family,
I’m thrilled to announce that, on March 1st, we will be adding a new worship service option for you, and for the people of our community. Specifically, we will be adding an 8am worship service and adjusting our other two service start times accordingly. Each worship gathering will be identical.
Hopefully, like us, you are convinced that God is using Green Valley Church in powerful ways in the lives of those who attend. And as our current services fill up, we want to make sure we continue to provide that same opportunity for others. A third worship service provides an additional option for you, and also provides a new “door” for guests to enter into our church family. Our elders and staff have been discussing and preparing for this for a couple years and we believe this is the right time.
As we change, let me emphasize what will always remain the same. We are as passionate as ever about being an authentic, relational, and grace-filled community committed to Jesus Christ. God’s Word will always be at the core of what we do. As much as ever we value the kind of worship that engages both heart and mind and an approach to teaching that changes people both on the inside and the outside. We long to be a place where the isolated become connected, the busy become focused, and the broken become whole through the power of Jesus. We believe that adding an additional worship venue will only enhance this mission.
I’ve included some FAQs on the back of this letter. Also I will address this at Sunday’s service. The elders will also be available at the end of each of our services, in front of the auditorium, to answer questions and dialogue with you.
Thank you for being a part of our church community and our mission.
God’s best to you,
What times will the services be? 8:00 am; 9:20 am; and 10:50 am.
Will each service be the same? Yes, identical.
Why these times? We wanted three good options for people. Whenever a church moves to three services the center one is likely to be the fullest. But we hope that the 8:00am and 10:50am services will also be attractive, and less crowded, options.
Will the service be shorter? A little. But the core of what we do in our services will not change. We are shaving off a little time in two ways. First, we will shorten our announcements. Second, we are replacing our opening song at the beginning (our call to worship) with a live music call to worship before the service begins (during the countdown). What you need to know is that everything we now do after the announcements will remain the same. The worship sets will be the same length, and my message will not be shorter.
Will there be Sunday School at all services? Yes. Sunday school classes for children nursery through 5th grade will be offered at all three worship gatherings.
What about youth group? When will they meet? This additional service also gives us the opportunity to enhance our youth ministry. Specifically we will get to do some things we were unable to do with just two services. Instead of just one offering for each age group, we now have two. Jr. Highers can choose to go to a Jr. High discipleship session during the second service or a Jr. High Worship & Teaching Session during the third service. High Schoolers can go to a High School discipleship session during the first service or a High School Worship & Teaching Session during the second service. Additionally, High Schoolers have the option to sit together with our youth leaders and their friends at our third service.
Will the break between services be shorter? Yes. And you will notice there is a longer break between the 2nd and 3rd services than the earlier break. This is because the busier middle service requires more time to get people in and out from a traffic flow standpoint. One of my favorite things about our church is the “lobby time.” You are encouraged to hang out as long as you like. This is one of the great measures of a healthy church. We will close the center doors to the auditorium when the next service begins, but open wide the back side doors to the auditorium. Also, we realize that it is sometimes difficult to get everyone together to come to church. You're always on time at Green Valley Church. Get here whenever you can.
Will our values and mission change? No. In fact, this helps us stay true to our values.
Is the church getting too big? Actually, adding an additional service venue allows us to maintain the “smaller church feel” we value. Rather than crowding people tightly into our worship space, this allows for more intimate services where people can connect more easily with others.
What service should I go to? Whichever one you like. Early birds will like the 8am service (rumor has it they will be serving bagels to these morning people). The 10:50am service accommodates families and others who have a little more to do in the morning. And the 9:20am service is a nice balance between the two.
More questions? Join the elders after the service this Sunday in the main auditorium or email me at email@example.com
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
"Stop asking God to bless what you're doing. Get involved in what God is doing – because it's already blessed." - Rock legend Bono
God will not bless a self-absorbed life style. More than that, He has set up this world so that a self-focused lifestyle never satisfies. It's not that God doesn't care about our temporary and worldly projects. He absolutely does. It's simply that He loves us too much to allow those things to become the central focus of our lives because He's designed us for eternity.
The Bible describes what happens when our priorities get mixed up.
Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it." Haggai 1:5-6
God says, "Give careful thought to your ways." This challenge reminds me of an expression I use a lot: "Play the movie." In other words, let's look at our priorities – the way we spend our time, energy, and resources – and ask these questions:
- How does this DVD end?
- If I keep going like this at this rate, all this work with this little return, where will I be?
- Five years from now?
- Ten years from now?
- Twenty years from now?
- How about 100 years from now?
- And are these the things that I want to define my life?
- How will I feel about my accomplishments from Heaven's balcony?
God asks each of us to think specifically about what kind of return we are getting on our self-absorbed focus. Is it paying off? All our worry, our concerns, what value do we get? Put it on a spread sheet. Make a profit-loss statement. How are we doing?
And then God calls us to a better way.
Seek first [God's] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt 6:33
God honors the Kingdom-centered life. It is the God-focused lifestyle that satisfies. For the next several weeks I will be challenging us all to Live Outside Ourselves as we get involved in what God is already blessing. Who can tell what could happen in a month?
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Last weekend we went to the local mountains and found the perfect hill for sledding. It was pretty steep but safe with no real obstacles. Well, there was one obstacle. Some kids had built a four foot mogul for the thrill seeking sledder looking for airtime.
As I prepared to sled down the hill, I made my plans. I set up as far as possible from the mogul to insure I wouldn't hit it. Then I took off down the hill. You know the rest of the story. I couldn't have planned to hit it more squarely. Apparently there was a groove in the snow that took me straight toward the launch pad. So much for my plans!
Plans aren't as strong as patterns.
In the same way, we can make all kinds of plans for change, only to discover as we take off that we have slid into old patterns.
The Bible says, Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." James 4:13-15
The problem is that we often make our plans as if we know what future holds. 2008 should have taught all of us that that is a risky bet. Instead we must change our pattern of self-reliance. We must begin to factor God into our plans because only He knows the future. More than that, even when our plans are made, we should hold onto them loosely, leaving room for God to work. He has a way of improving our plans if we let Him.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Just finished reading all my blog posts for 2008. One of the reasons I love blogging is the chance to capture what God has been doing in my life. What a difficult, incredible, and amazing year.
The tough things: Lost my father; sent my oldest son off to college; fire at my son's college (his dorm burnt done).
The amazing things: Europe with my family (the trip of a lifetime); my oldest son going off to Westmont College (yes, this is a good thing and a tough thing); sabbatical over the summer; some incredible times in God's Word; Kingdom Assignment project at church; the best wife and family ever.
God is good. God is very good. I can only imagine what He has in store for 09.