God is good. Before saying anything else to you all today, I want to just remind us that God is good all the time. He is with us! He is for us! And because of this nothing can stand against us.
It is not six months since I became the lead pastor for St. John, and what a six months it has been. It is very strange that as we gather on a Sunday morning for Virtual Church that you all get to see me, but I don’t get to see you. Being honest this is hard for me, as relationships that were starting to form have not only paused, but in many cases have taken backward steps. This has not been the case with the council, the staff team, and others ministry teams who I have been meeting with regularly, however, with the vast majority of you it has been hard for me to either get connected, or stay connected.
It is different for me, being new to St. John than is for most of you. The relational capital that you have invested in your time as part of this wonderful community, will pay dividends during difficult time.
As a church we firmly believe that we are called to live a three-dimensional life, a life of Up-In-Out. The coronavirus pandemic has not altered that belief; however, it has provided for us challenges (and opportunities) by which to live it out.
Virtual Church has been a blessing through which we have been able gather together to worship, if not in the same space then at the same time, knowing that we are together and claiming that when we are together, Christ himself is present. Other predictable patterns which have emerged are that of Discipleship4All (every 4th Tuesday), Prayer4All (starting July 8th), and the virtual prayer ministry teams after our virtual church gatherings. These are all really good expressions of corporate Up and In (and I encourage you to engage with each of these as you are able), but as I have mentioned over the past few weeks, there is an increasing lack of Out. (We will address that in more detail over the coming weeks.)
We are disciples of Christ. We are IN this journey together, learning together, as we walk to be more and more like Jesus. The New Testament teaches us that as we walk this life, we are to lover each other (John 13:34), live in harmony together, (Romans 12:6), teach and admonish one another (Colossians 3:16), encourage each other (1 Thessalonians 4:18), confess to one another, and pray for each other (James 5:16), be hospitable (1 Peter 4:9), and to push one another toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). My question for us all this time is – how are you doing these things?
Moving forward, I believe that God is using this time among us to be generating a heart, in line with his own, to be a community of communities. Gathering together with fellow disciples (for now that may be on zoom, a Facebook group, a socially distance porch meeting) for prayer, encouragement, and worship. Our idea of Church is being challenged, because church is not only Sunday morning worship.
You, the people of St. John are well equipped to offer this “IN” way of responding to Jesus, encouraging one another, praying for each other, and being united in a missional vision. All of us need to make an intentional effort or we will remain isolated. So if you are excited by this, as I am, and feel God placing a vision on your heart to help gather a group of people together to live in this way, then please contact the office - We would love to train, equip and release you.