A Blank Slate

A Blank Slate

[After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples returned to Jerusalem]
“These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer…” 

Acts 1:14a

 In his book, The Post-Quarantine Church, Thom S. Rainer writes, “What did they (the early church) do when they didn’t know what to do? They prayed. The Bible indicates that the prayers of the early church were powerful because the people were of one mind: ‘They all met together and were constantly united in prayer.’ They didn’t know what else to do, but they knew they were supposed to pray.” (p. 33)

This past month, we’ve focused our attention on the Post-Quarantine Church.  What will the Church look like in the days ahead?  How will ministry change?  I’ve been praying that God would guide us.  Your congregation leaders have been praying, as well.

“So what are the lessons of the quarantine for the post-quarantine era? Perhaps one of the most powerful and poignant things we’ve learned is to remember that our churches are in the community for a reason.” (p. 43)

One of the main words Rainer uses in his book is “rethink.”  Church leaders need to rethink everything!  How we use our facilty.  How we communicate the gospel.  How we use technology.  How we reach out to the city.  Rainer says the pandemic gave us a clean slate.  The two primary steps for churches to take in the post-quarantine era is to eliminate and focus: eliminate that which is frivolous and not working; and, focus more deliberately and intentionally on that which furthers the mission of the church.

What is working at FPCSA?  Most people recognize the positive impact of several of our partnerships: La Semilla Learning Center (LSLC), Morning Garden, Laundry Love Santa Ana, KidSingers.  We are truly blessed to have these partnerships, but we should rethink our relationships with them.  How can we better partner with them?  How can we support them?  How can we walk alongside of them and build bridges to participants?

For example, we first met our Director of Children’s Ministry, Sandra Escoto, because she was Assistant Director of La Semilla.  During the quarantine, she was let go by LSLC.  Perhaps we can encourage more interaction between them and us so that Sandra might participate with them and encourage them to participate in events and activities targeted to families of both LCLS and FPCSA.

Morning Garden ministers to young, unwed mothers 4 days a week.  Is there a way we can reach out to these young moms and support them during this exhausting season of their lives?  Can we provide childcare while doing something nice for the moms?  Maybe bring in a mani/pedi outfit to pamper them a bit.  I don’t know.  I’m just brainstorming.

But we would appreciate you all brainstorming, too.  What are some ideas that you have to use our facility for God’s glory and His kingdom?  Perhaps your ideas come from the Spirit of God.  Perhaps the Spirit of God wants to speak to our church leadership through you.  Don’t quench the Spirit!

With these partnerships we are using a good portion of our facility, but much of our facility goes unused throughout the week.  That is why we are looking to partner with Restoration Church on Sunday afternoons and Fridays evenings.  We’re also looking to partner with an early morning AA group, that meets 7 days a week.

In one of my sermons in May, I talked about the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25).  One servant was given 10, another 5, and another 1.  The two servants that used the talents to invest and multiply were blessed by the master.  The one who buried his talent in the ground was condemned and judged.  In a word, this parable is about stewardship.  

Stewardship is about caring for and using what has been placed in the steward’s hands to further the interests of the investor.  Most times, we read this parable in light of the individual; but I am applying it to the local church.  Are we – as a church family – being good stewards of everything God has placed in our hands?  Are we using everything in our context to further the Kingdom of God?  Through the faithfulness of the saints who have gone before us, God has given us an incredible facility.  Are we using it to further His Kingdom and His interests?  Are we being good and faithful stewards?  Let’s open ourselves to new possibilities and new horizons!

Rainer writes, “Perhaps the most basic and obvious conclusion to be drawn from the pandemic is that it gave church leaders an opportunity to rethink everything, including the use of their physical facilities.  It is an opportunity I call ‘the blank slate.’  But if church leaders and members don’t take this opportunity to rethink everything they’ve been doing, it will indeed be an opportunity wasted.  God may be waiting for you to write a new story for your church on the blank slate He has provided.” (p. 82)

Please consider these questions and share your thoughts with me or with one of our active elders:

  1. How might we use our facility to further the Kingdom of God?
  2. What are some new ways our church family can reach out to our city?
  3. How can we make better use of technology?

Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave the Great Commission, and then He promised His disciples (and us) that we are not alone: “Be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Let that assurance give us confidence as we enter a new season of opportunity and as we reach out to a world in need of a savior.  May we boldly go where our Savior leads us.

In His name and in His service, I remain yours,

Pastor Lance