PASTOR AWAY………What a wonderful worship opportunity last Sunday was! Worshiping outside on the patio really took a lot of planning and preparation. A special thanks goes to all who helped in the preparation and planning. All the glory belongs to our Lord! Jesus is the reason why we gather together and see each other as a family. His sacrifice makes it possible for us to live sacrificial lives.
We are going to be worshiping outdoors again this summer on Sunday, August 13. If you have any suggestions or ways that we could enhance our worship, please share with one of our elders: Bob, Oscar or Elaine.
On that note, I will be away on vacation from Saturday, July 15 to Thursday, July 20. If you should need pastoral assistance, please contact one of our three elders. My time away will be extra special as our family will be seeing my sister, Melinda. She is leaving her government post in Madagascar and moving to Tokyo, Japan. I am excited to see her and encourage her on the next adventure!
Deacon Larry Oliver………Larry is taking a class titled “the Lutheran mind” in Portland this week. We keep him in prayer as he moves one step closer to becoming ordained.
WIRED WORD………..Come this Sunday at 8:30 am in the Fellowship Hall for our Wired Word discussion. The topic for discussion is down below. Thank you, Bob, for leading!
Online Mega-Church Pastor Describes Challenges Facing the Church Today
In the News
On The Church Boys February 16 podcast, Faithwire senior editor Billy Hallowell interviewed Craig Groeschel, founder of Life.Church, an online Christian community of over 100,000 people from around the world who meet in 26 locations. Hallowell wanted to know how Groeschel views the challenges facing the church today.
While Groeschel indicated there are many positive aspects of church life today, he identified two issues in particular that concern him.
First, a “consumer mindset” that permeates our culture has also been adopted by Christians with regard to how they view their connection with the local church and the world. Some people complain that “they can’t find a church that meets their needs,” the megachurch pastor observed. That attitude is “really, really scary” he said, because it is “diametrically opposed to how Christians should be thinking about church.”
“As Jesus followers, we are not spiritual consumers, we are spiritual contributors,” the pastor said. “The church does not exist for us. We are the church and we exist for the world.”
The second issue that concerns Groeschel is the way technology can isolate believers, driving many to unplug from local houses of worship in favor of accessing spiritual content through the Internet whenever they find it convenient.
Ironically, Groeschel himself creates space online where people can make digital connections with other believers and access spiritual teaching; he also developed the popular YouVersion Bible app as a tool for Bible study.
“Now many people are equating church with receiving content, meaning ‘I don’t necessarily have to go to a building’ … we’re missing so much power in the face-to-face interaction,” Groeschel said. Listening to a podcast while you are on a treadmill at the gym “is a helpful additive, but it’s not the true substance” of the church, he stressed. Because we tend to have much less face time with other believers, our relationships may not be very deep, meaningful or life-changing.
Since believers attend church less frequently and for shorter amounts of time than believers of previous generations did, they may rely less on church leaders for direction. Yet believers are longing for guidance, Groeschel stated. That’s one reason he wrote his new book, Divine Direction: 7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life.
In his 26 years of pastoral ministry, Groeschel said, the question he’s heard most often is “How do I know what I’m supposed to do?”
Many people worry about making life decisions that will please God, Groeschel said. But he couldn’t remember a single class in seminary that taught him how to make good decisions.
Many people find it much harder to make decisions today, precisely because the many options available overwhelm us. Having so many choices can even lead to a kind of paralysis, so that we feel incapable of making any decision at all. “It is easier to choose one of three things than it is to choose one of three thousand things,” Groeschel remarked.
Jesus didn’t talk that much about what careers his followers should follow, but he talked a lot about character, Groeschel told Hallowell. “So often we’re starting with, ‘What does God want me to do?’ instead of, ‘Who does God want me to become?'”
But it’s more important to focus more on being the person God wants you to be rather than on which action to take at any given moment, the pastor said. “If you get the ‘who’ right you’ll make the right ‘do’ decisions.”
More on this story can be found at these links:
The Big Questions
- Do you agree that we should leave a “consumer mindset” behind when we attend church? Why or why not?
- In what ways are you a consumer of spiritual content? How are you a spiritual contributor? Do you tend to focus on one over the other (consumption or contribution)? If so, how can you achieve a healthier balance?
- How important is face-to-face interaction with people within a local congregation in order to truly “be” the church? Is it really necessary to meet with believers in person or can connecting with other believers through technology suffice? What is gained and what is lost through the use of technology in the pursuit of spiritual growth?
- What does it take to draw people together to build up the kingdom of God?
- What is “the true substance of the church” and where can we find that substantive experience of “church” today? How can your church create an environment where spiritual vitality is more apt to flourish?
- How do you find direction or guidance for decisions you need to make in life?