“CONVERSATIONS WITH JESUS”
[Jesus said] “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
At its last meeting, the Board of Elders (session) responded to three questions.
1) “What attracted you to FPCSA?”
There were quite a few responses, from “we were looking for a Presbyterian Church” to “we came here quite by accident.” One person mentioned they were looking for a church that was actively involved in the community. Another liked the idea that they could walk to church. Several mentioned the music.
Two names were mentioned several times: Linda Becker and Mary Lee. While Linda and Mary might not have been the reason people walked through the door the first time, they certainly affected whether visitors walked through the door a second time! Several mentioned they were invited to brunch after worship by church members and that made them feel incredibly welcomed.
2) “What keeps you at FPCSA?”
Overwhelmingly, the responses to this question centered around this church family feeling like home. Laura Rutherford, who grew up in the church, said her one sister is in Scotland and extended family are widespread, so FPCSA has become her family with many surrogate grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins.
3) “What would you like to see change?”
[I placed a caveat on this question. They could not say, “More people.” They had to be more creative than that!]
We had two primary responses to this question. One was a greater sense of evangelism, not just from the pastor and staff, but from the congregation as a whole. The second response was a return to more fellowship gatherings, so that we are not limited to fellowship for a few minutes in the gallery after worship, but time spent enjoying each other and building deeper relationships.
It was noted that in the beginning of 2020 we were starting to expand the idea of Family First Sundays to include an all-church activity after worship on the first Sunday of the month. We had planned to launch this monthly event in May 2020. We had plans developed. We had a park reserved. But COVID-19 had other ideas for us.
Starting this past January, we’ve implemented Family First Sunday Zoom Gatherings. In fact, as we look to March we’ll be doing something very special on the 7th. In our February staff meeting, Sandra (our Director of Children’s Ministry), mentioned that the children had played a game they really liked called Jelly Belly Bean Boozled. Once she explained it, we all got laughing and I suggested that we do it during our next Family First Sunday Zoom Gathering. So… run to Target or Party City or some other store that carries them and pick up a box of Jelly Belly Bean Boozled. We’ll all be either laughing or gagging.
In March we’re going to focus our sermons in the English service on the conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus in John 3. I recently read this chapter in my own devotional time and was struck once again by the powerful message I found there. John 3:16 is arguably the most popular verse in the Bible. We memorize it as children. We recite it often. People display it at sporting events. Martin Luther called it “the Gospel in miniature.” In-N-Out Burger has the reference printed on the underside/inside bottom of their cups.
And the rest of John 3 is filled with many timeless lessons. It seemed a good focus as we make our way to the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A final note: many have asked about reopening the church. At this time, those who have had their 2nd vaccine and waited the appropriate time recommended by the manufacturer are welcome to return to the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. I know we’ve been attending worship from our living rooms for nearly a year now. So, if you DO plan to come back to the sanctuary, please remember to change out of your pajamas and bunny slippers and put on Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes.
Please note, the skeleton crew that helps produce the live-stream worship – myself, Arthur, soloists, David (on camera), and Sofía – have not received our vaccines yet. So we will continue to maintain safe social distancing, wear masks, and clean hands. Also, worship will feel a little different as I focus attention on the camera and those who are watching from home.
Remember when the Prayer of Jabez was popular? The prayer was a simple one: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause You pain.’ So God granted him what he requested.” (1 Chronicles 4:9f)
Our online ministry has certainly enlarged our territory. We are ministering to people throughout the United States and beyond, including countries like Mexico, Belize, Norway and Colombia.
And thinking in terms of how we might “evangelize,” we’re encouraging our members to “share” one Sunday morning worship service or a “Morning Coffee with Pastor Lance” on their facebook page once a month. As people have done this, our flock has expanded. In fact, the follower in Norway told me that he was praying to God to lead him to a good online ministry. And he feels God has led him to FPCSA. Thanks be to God!
Looking forward to what God has in store for us in the coming weeks and months.
In Christ’s love & service,