Summer has definitely arrived, we're seeing consistently warmer days, the light stretches out into the evening, thoughts turn towards end of school for families, and we look for opportunities to slow down a little and "smell the roses" (not that we seem to have a lot of joy trying to grow them in our garden!) It is a time when people like to travel more, to enjoy creation and time with extended family. We head for the beach, the mountains, the plains, the campsites and cooling waters. It is naturally a time when we seek to have less happening through groups, programs and extra activities at church. But it is good to remember that relationships don't take a break, people who live alone are still alone and it is good for us to think of ways to use our time to connect and care for those God has put us among.
One of the other consequences of this time of year, particularly with Sarah being away for 2 weeks as Dan also steps away on medical leave, is that we can find things stretched a little as we seek to support our gatherings for worship. Some were disappointed that last Sunday the audio feed for our streaming service suddenly went mute until after I had finished speaking. Maybe the Lord had purpose in this (or the enemy??) but I do apologize to those of you who were left 'hanging'. I was trying to cope with leading the service, preaching, listening to the Lord and managing the stream but while speaking was oblivious to the fact that a camera had ceased to function and that meant the audio from the soundboard was "going nowhere" (as far as YouTube was concerned!)
So, I thought I would take this opportunity to give some of you an opportunity to think and pray about the grace and gifts that God has given to you, that may be laying low at the moment. It is a wonderful truth Paul reminds us of when he says this;
With the gracious gift of eternal life, God also equips us with gifts for ministry and service ... all of us. It is not a question of whether this is true for me, but rather how do I discover and grow in my gifting in order to please the Father. The guiding principle for why we would do this is the fact that we follow the example of Jesus, our Lord, who came not to be served but to serve. Christians serve. If we don't have a heart to serve the needs of others, then we are not His. It comes with the territory, but more importantly it is the greatest expression of our freedom in Christ .. we get to serve. That is the significance of Paul's words in Galatians 5:13, use your freedom to serve not yourself, but one another in love.
We are blessed with many who offer time, energy and resources to support the life and ministry of Jericho Road Church. For that as pastor, I want to say a huge "thank you"!! But part of my responsibility as pastor is also to help present everyone mature in Christ Jesus (see Col 1:28). A big part of that is to equip, train and release everyone to be workers (those called to "good works") to help point others to the goodness of God.
So here is my invitation to you ... "how can I help you?" Maybe you are faithfully serving in one area but would like to help out in another. Maybe you are new to the church and not sure what help is needed. Maybe you'd like to help but feel ill-prepared or ill-equipped to start. Well, the most important thing is to have a willing heart and a desire to give, this all comes from the Spirit. What blesses the Lord most is a "cheerful giver".
Here's a list of some of the areas where we really need more people to step up and offer to help us out (really to help us all out);
Streaming (audio and visual) support during worship
Sound-desk and projection during worship
Serving children during Sunday School
Serving us all with tea/coffee after worship
Working with youth especially on Friday evenings (when we recommence in the fall)
Helping to greet people as the arrive for worship
Becoming a discipler of others in the Christian faith
Supporting Chris (our maintenance manager) with practical needs around the building and grounds
Prayer in all its forms and places ... prayer ministry, prayer meetings, prayer walking
Cleaning as part of the cleaning team every Tuesday morning
Development and production of drama from time to time
Musicians and singers on our worship teams
If there is anything on this list (or something else that the Lord speaks to you about) that interests you, that is something you feel led to do to help serve the church as a whole. Please contact me or the office as soon as possible. I think we are all called to #7 as followers of Christ, so if that is something you wish to grow in, I would especially like to hear from you. If it has been a while since you have offered yourself to be a part of a regular ministry team here at Jericho Road, can I encourage you to take a step of faith (and obedience), and see how the Lord will begin to work through you and in you.
With love and prayers,