Today was an exciting and emotional day for me. Almost three years ago the dream and planning for Second Mile Church was born. Today was the final worship gathering for Second Mile Church at Perry High School as we are moving next Sunday into our own full-time facility at 8743 E Pecos Rd and officially becoming Redemption Church Gateway.
I snapped this picture on my way in to church today and remembered that this would be the last time I would see this sign out:
We had a great worship service together, which concluded with singing “You Have Done Great Things.” What an appropriate end to the gathering and to this season of ministry.
Afterwards, a few dozen of our faithful “make it happen” crew took the trailer over to the new building and began to unload some of our equipment. We had a great time working and anticipating what God will do.
Next week our location changes and our name changes. But our God doesn’t change, his glorious gospel doesn’t change, and the wonderful opportunity we have to represent his Son doesn’t change. It’s been a wonderful season, and the best is still to come. Thanks to so many of you for your prayers, support, service, and work over these last few years. I am eternally grateful.
We’re not kidding. This has been a roller-coaster but we have found an alternative light solution that will allow us to have our first worship services in the new building on Sunday, May 22nd.
Please note these important changes to our event schedule:
1. We will be having the Move-in Work Day tomorrow, 5/14 at 8am. Sadly, the event was deleted from The City, but if you were planning on coming and bringing something, please do. We will have plenty of work to do.
2. We will be having our Volunteer Training Night on Wednesday, 5/18 from 6:30-8:00pm. If you volunteer on Sundays in any capacity, please do whatever you can to come. We will have childcare.
3. We will not be doing a BBQ/Open House prior to moving in. We’ll try to do something soon after, but considering the whirlwind, we had to prioritize.
If you have any questions, please let me know. Thanks for your understanding and support during this exciting time!
Today we kick off a new series, Providence: A Study of the Book of Ruth. In today’s sermon, we discuss the role that God plays in governing all things, but especially suffering and pain. This is undoubtedly a difficult subject and can’t be fully grasped, especially in any kind of quick way.
A helpful resource for any wanting to go deeper into this subject is the chapter on God’s Providence from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology [Dr. Grudem is a professor at Phoenix Seminary, and this large book is an excellent resource for anyone looking to study theology, as are his condensed versions, Bible Doctrine (medium) and Christian Beliefs (small)].
All things come to pass by God’s wise providence. This means that we should adopt a much more “personal” understanding of the universe and the events in it. The universe is not governed by impersonal fate or luck, but by a personal God. Nothing “just happens—we should see God’s hand in events throughout the day, causing all things to work together for good for those who love him…A deepened appreciation for the doctrine of providence will not make us more superstitious; it will make us trust in God more and obey him more fully.
Summer 2011 should be a fun and unique season for our church, and I wanted to let you know some of what’s coming and invite you to join with us!
COMMUNITY GROUPS BREAK
The spring semester winds down the week of May 16, and this summer we will not be starting a new semester. Since the summer semester is so short, we thought we’d try some summer events (see below) as a change. If you’d still like to gather as a group during the summer, that’s up to you. Groups will re-launch in late August with a new name: Redemption Communities.
Over the summer we’ll be doing at least 4 outward-focused serving events (probably with House of Refuge and/or some door-to-door evangelism and inviting) and 4 fun community-building events (pool party, adults-only 80’s night, CD release party for Kristie Braselton, and a good ol’ fashion church potluck). Almost all of these events will be family friendly, will be accessible for your unchurched friends, and will be a great way for our whole church to have fun while serving Jesus.
We’ll be offering training for new and existing group leaders as well as some other practical training in other areas of ministry. If you would like to go through the group leader training, please contact John Kronwald (johnkronwald[at]redemptionaz[dot]com). All of these training experiences will help us prepare for a great fall together.
STUDENT SUMMER CAMP
The Gateway students are doing summer camp in Big Bear, CA from June 12-18. They’ll serve, have fun, learn, go to Six Flags, and build some wonderful memories. Cost: $350/student, due May 29.
SERMON SERIES: DOCTRINE
Beginning June 5th, we’ll do a 13-week summer series on Doctrine. We’re still working on the official title, but the gist will be a run-through of the key biblical beliefs we should hold as followers of Jesus.
A few years ago I read a shocking paragraph in Thom Rainer’s book, The Unchurched Next Door:
82 percent of the unchurched are at least ‘somewhat likely’ to attend church if they are invited. Perhaps we need to pause on this response. Perhaps we need to restate it: More than eight out of ten of the unchurched said they would come to church if they were invited.
This seemed astonishlingy high, yet also encouraging for those of us who would like to see our friends, families, and neighbors discover a relationship with God. Is it really true?
Well, a few years later, the research has shown Rainer’s estimations are slipping. Nonetheless, recent statistics are encouraging. A recent survey discovered that 63% of people are somewhat or very willing to receive information about a church from a family member and 56% are somewhat or very willing to receive information from a friend or neighbor.
Additionally, 38% (almost 4 out of 10) have said they are more open to considering matters of faith during the Easter holiday season.
None of this is really too surprising. But it does mean that if there was ever a time to invite a friend or family member to church, this would be it. Click here for information about Second Mile’s Easter Celebration, and pass it on to someone you love.
We’re sharing some ideas on how everybody can make a difference to guests and non-Christians that join us on Sundays. For the context of our discussion, check out the recent posts, The Sermon Starts in The Parking Lot, The Sunday Mind-Shift, Show Up Early, and Take a Genuine Interest.
Over a year ago, I had an “exit interview” with a man who was leaving our church. He was a single man in his 40s and had been going through a tough time. After years away from church, God used the death of his mom, unemployment and a couple of other trials to bring him back. Our church was one of the first he visited.
I distinctly remember him saying was something like this:
“On my first Sunday I spent about 15 minutes pouring out my heart to somebody that I just met. It probably wasn’t the wisest thing on my part, but I was emotional and things were tough. At the end of the conversation, the guy I was talking to said something like, ‘Well, here’s my number, let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.’ I thought, Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you? Seriously? I just poured out my heart and told you all my problems. Clearly there is something you could do for me. It felt like I just got blown off.”
This is admittedly a tough situation. I’m sure many of us would not be exactly sure what to do if we had a total stranger spilling his or her guts on us. But there’s an important lesson here. We should come to church ready to do ministry.
The Sunday gathering is not merely a place to be ministered to, but a place to get in the game and participate. If we can’t do it on Sunday when we’re on our home turf, what chance do we have during the week out in the world?
In the end, this mostly comes down to mindset. And each of us needs to have a mindset ready to care for people, pray for people, and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.
Are you ready?
We’re sharing some ideas on how everybody can make a difference to guests and non-Christians that join us on Sundays. For the context of our discussion, check out the recent posts, The Sermon Starts in The Parking Lot, The Sunday Mind-Shift, and Show Up Early.
Have you ever wondered how somebody like Bill Clinton–with his political polarization and personal immorality–can remain so enchanting to so many people? As you listen to those who have met him, one reason comes sharply into focus. They all say something like, “When you meet Bill Clinton, it feels like you’re the only person in the room.”
In other words, despite all his faults, Clinton takes a genuine interest in people. He’s not busy looking over their shoulder or glancing at his watch. He truly cares.
If a politician will do that, how much more should God’s people do that? Isn’t it simply the essence of Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself”?
If you want to make a real difference in somebody’s life, take a genuine interest in them. Ask them sincere questions. Listen rather than thinking of what to say next. And slow down.
I have to admit that this is personally tough for me — especially on Sundays when I’m trying to meet lots of new people, care for those in our church family, and think through the elements of my sermon and the service. It’s tough. But I’m trying.
I’d love it if we had 300 other people trying as well. I think the love of Jesus like that would turn our church upside down.
Want to make a difference for those who are guests on Sunday? Here’s a very simple way: Show up early.
As a pastor, I’m at our gathering location early every week. And I’ve noticed that, at least at our church, only 3 kinds of people show up early (at least 10 minutes before):
- Older people
- New people
Older people are just respectful and are basically not in a hurry, ex-cons have been subconsciously trained that if they don’t show up early they don’t eat, and new people are there because they didn’t want to show up late and get embarrassed.
When these guests arrive, wouldn’t it be great if there were a bunch of genuinely joyful people there, excited about the chance to be together and celebrate Jesus? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were loving, devoted Christ-followers ready to strike up a conversation or say hello?
If you were a guest, that’s what you’d want. And all it takes is showing up early.
I know, I know…it takes kids forever to get moving in the morning, especially when you want them to hurry. But they do it for school and you do it for work. Why? Because showing up early to those things is important to you. Shouldn’t the opportunity to love on guests to our church (people who are likely exploring the faith) be just as important?
There is low-hanging gospel fruit and ministry every week for those who will take it. So join me, your pastors and the band and come love on some new people!
For a context of this discussion, see The Sermon Starts in the Parking Lot.
Making a difference with the guests to our church is not hard. It takes surprisingly little effort. But, sadly, few Christians intentionally focus on this opportunity to love and serve our neighbors. When we invite our own friends and family, we do this naturally. But what about the other Sundays when other people have invited their friends?
Make a mind-shift.
Colin Marshall writes:
See church as a place where Christians go to work. Church is a gathering of God’s people to hear his word and respond in faith and obedience. In this gathering, we are in fellowship with each other, through the blood of Jesus, and, because of our fellowship, we seek to serve each other. We use our gifts and abilities to strengthen one another and build Christ’s Church— ‘edification’ is the word often used to describe what goes on in church. All believers are involved in building the church, not just clergy or preachers. The New Testament consistently teaches that in the growth of the body of Christ each part must do its work (see Eph 4; 1 Cor 12-14). Because of this, we aren’t to see ourselves merely as part of an organization called [Second Mile Church], but as servants of God’s people, eager to meet the needs of others even if it means sacrificing our own.
This will change your reasons for going to church. Make the shift from being the ‘helpee’ to the helper, the served to the servant. Church is where we seek spiritual food and encouragement in order to become more godly; but church is also where we go in order to feed other people and encourage them. In God’s mercy, we become more Christ-like in the process, as like him we deny ourselves for the sake of others.
Why do you think we do this naturally when we bring guests to church, but we forget it the other weeks?
Our mission to take the gospel to people and make disciples is definitely not limited to what we do on Sunday — it happens all the time, everywhere we go. But it should also be happening at the Sunday gathering. If we can’t do it well there, we’ll have a hard time doing it elsewhere. Everything we do when we gather is a chance to communicate the beauty of Christ.