Dear Church Family:
We’re rounding the corner and preparing to shift into a new season together. Looking back, it has been quite a year. Our congregation tends to defy “church growth” logic and actually gains momentum in the winter season. The momentum that is built will often peak in late spring and then we finally get back into a similar rhythm with sister congregations. We, like so many others, can expect our attendance numbers to diminish a bit on Sunday mornings and that will remain the case over the course of the summer season. The month of September always feels like a reunion to me as the family comes back together to share the stories of our many adventures.
I share this with you because I feel it is important for us keep our eyes open to see what God is doing among us. Yes, our worship attendance will diminish over the summer. It can be a bit jarring at first but it is actually a very good thing. A good portion of us will take small stretches of time for sabbath rest with our family and friends. The change of pace will be welcomed and the time away will be life-giving. We need rest. We need quiet moments to listen.
I would also suggest that we are called to leave the church this summer. Many of us will literally be sent out of the church to be The Church. At least five of us will be sent to Millboro Springs (VA), deep into the Alleghenies, to share the love of Christ with inner-city school children. Six of us will be sent to Singapore and Malaysia for two weeks of worship, reunion, and exploration. One of us will facilitate ministry in Wingate (NC) throughout the summer where hundreds of teenagers will meet God in unexpected ways. Seventeen of us will travel to that very camp for a week and will inevitably walk away transformed. We can anticipate that at least five of us will travel to Eagle Eyrie for a week of music training, worship, and laughter.
Three of us will travel to Poland where musical and relational gifts will be used to cross language barriers and reflect the love of Christ. One, possibly two, of us will spend a month in Zimbabwe where we will serve alongside extraordinary believers in making clean water available, education possible, and medicine accessible. Two of us will spend weeks in “Asia” to use gifts in service to Christ and take one step closer into vocational call. One of us will spend the entire summer and several of us will spend a week in Hell’s Kitchen (NY) nurturing and developing faith with a large group of inner-city children. One of us will travel to Atlanta for a week, offering musical accompaniment to a youth choir. God has put a song in their hearts and Betty will help them share it. The list goes on and on….
I don’t know about you but I don’t think there is anything more beautiful than a church willing to pour itself out and give itself away. The vast majority of those we are sending will be working directly with sister congregations. The love of Christ shines at it’s brightest when we serve and worship together with The Church. Let us commit to continue to embrace the role God has for us as an equipping and sending congregation. When we are here this summer, let us commit to being fully here. When we are gone this summer, let us commit to use the time away to seek out God’s call in our individual and collective lives together.
You are loved and appreciated.
Yours in Christ,
Sterling W. Severns