In last month’s newsletter I wrote about the Three C’s of Church Involvement. Now I would like explore the first “C” (Celebrate) a little more. When we talk about being a church member who is involved in “celebrating,” corporate worship is what we have in mind. Private devotional times of reading the Bible, praying, and practicing other spiritual disciplines are extremely important, but they are not meant to take the place of gathering with the entire church for worship. I once had a church member in a previous church who told me that he could worship God in a deer stand just as easily as he could worship God in a church service, so why did he need to come to church. My response to him was that the Bible expects us to worship God privately and corporately. Even in the Old Testament, Israel had certain times in the year when they were to gather together with the entire nation at worship festivals. In the New Testament, the expectation is the same. For example, Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us not “to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some.” According to this passage we must meet together corporately. Some might think that as long as they’re a part of a Sunday school class or some other Bible study group, then they are doing all they need to do to gather corporately with other believers. But this isn’t enough. The New Testament expects us to gather not just with our Sunday school class or a Bible study group, but with “the whole church.” For example, the very first church, the church in Jerusalem, was very large but the members regularly gathered together as a whole church for corporate worship (Acts 5:12, for example). It’s also clear that the members of the church in Corinth gathered together regularly with “the whole church” (Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 14:23). If we want to be a biblical church, and if we want to be a fully involved, healthy church member we should follow the example of the New Testament church and gather with our “whole church” in corporate worship. Of course, the main time we do that at Calvary is during our Sunday morning worship service. So, go ahead and worship God in the deer stand, but let’s not forget that being a healthy church member means we’ll celebrate Him with our entire church family as well.
Whenever I counsel with someone who is joining our church, I always share with them something I call “The Three C’s of Church Involvement.” The three C’s are: celebrate, connect, and contribute. By “celebrate” we mean to encourage people to be involved weekly in corporate worship. By “connect” we mean to encourage people to be intentional about developing deep and meaningful relationships with fellow church members. And by “contribute” we mean to encourage people to give back to the overall group through both giving and serving. All three of these “C’s” are absolutely essential for any believer who wants to position themselves to grow in their faith. In the next few newsletters, I’m going to unpack each of these “C’s” in a little bit more detail, but in this first installment, let me ask you: How are you doing on the three “C’s”? Are you celebrating (corporate worship)? Are you connecting (meaningful relationships)? Are you contributing (giving and serving)? A well-balanced involvement in all three will lead to our spiritual growth.
This past Sunday you filled out your “Circles of Relationships,” listing out names of family members, neighbors, coworkers, and friends/acquaintances that are lost or out of fellowship with a local church. If you were absent Sunday, you can pick up a booklet in the church office and begin filling out your circles. I can’t stress enough how important this is going to be for our outreach efforts at Calvary.
As your leadership prayed about the best way for us to reach people in our community for Christ, we were convinced that starting a “program” (e.g., a Tuesday night visitation) was not the way to go. Instead of creating a program for outreach, we desire to create a culture of outreach within our church family. We want to become a family of believers who always have people on the forefront of our minds that need to be connected to Jesus and his church. We want this to become a central part of our weekly conversation, prayer times, talk from the pulpit, etc.
This being said, I want to encourage you to begin the three step process for connecting your “circles” to Jesus and his church that we mentioned Sunday: Pray, Connect, Invite. Begin praying by name for the people listed in your circles. Pray that God would create opportunities for you to connect with them, have conversations with them, and form a deeper relationship with them. As God does create opportunities like this (and he will!), connect with those people and invite them to church and to Christ. Remember, 82% of the people in your circles would be willing to come to church with you if you invited them. I’ve already heard stories of God opening up opportunities for members of our church to connect with people they’ve been praying for, and I can’t wait to hear many more stories like this. It’s going to happen.
Also, let me remind you to bring your booklet with your circles to church with you. For the next four Sunday mornings we’re going to have a special prayer time in the worship service for the people in our circles. And every Sunday morning during Sunday school for the entire year we’ll have a special time to report on and pray for what God is doing as we seek to connect these people to Jesus and his church.
This past fall your three pastors (Dennis, Gary, and myself) began meeting once a week to pray and dream and seek the Lord regarding how our church can make a deeper impact for the kingdom of Christ. We know that our church (and every church) is called to fulfill the Great Commission to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19), and we know that this includes reaching people both in our own neighborhoods and among the nations (“Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the utter most parts of the earth,” Acts 1:8), but how can we best go about doing that? What we concluded, through much prayer, is that we need a clear vision and strategy that we as an entire church family can buy into. This way we know our goal (our vision) and we’re all on the same page about how to reach that goal (our strategy). The more we met and planned the more excited we got about the possibilities before us as a church. And we want to share this vision and strategy with you in the month of January. So, each Sunday in January we will be focusing on important aspects of this vision and strategy for reaching more people for Christ. It’s nothing fancy, or extraordinary, just a way for us strategically to connect more people to Jesus and his church, and to create a culture of outreach and mission among our faith family. I look forward to these Sundays in January, and I hope you come anticipating what God will do in us and through us for his kingdom and glory.
This Sunday, November 18, Calvary will hold a special service to celebrate the church’s 125th anniversary. The theme will be “Celebrating the Past; Envisioning the Future.” Former ministers will be present, and a special meal will be held afterward. This historic service will take place during the normal worship hour—10 a.m. Sunday morning.
Join us during the month of January as we look at the five parts of our church’s vision statement. These are goals that we envision for our ministry and what we’d like to see God do in and through us. They’re part of what makes us who we are—part of our identity. Click here for sermon audio from this series.