Thursday, October 2, 2008

Acts 2 at The Village

There was a time in my life, recently, that I wanted to give up on the organized church. My experience had been that of justifying sin in the church, Matthew 18 not being practiced, and mature believers were leaving right and left due to the lack of mature leadership.

I thought I might never go back to church and if I did, I wondered if I would ever be proud of my church family and leadership again.

Praise God!

He would not let me stay in the state of distrust, fear, and skeptism.

My family and I have found a church and I joined a Home Group. I was asked to sign a covenant. Now- my current church is also a Baptist congregation that is reaching seekers faster than we can house them. What I had been "taught" by the leaders of my former church lined up with keeping things easy and comfortable for the unchurched. My current church home speaks the truth in love. Example; take a look at the covenant that I signed:

Confidentiality: What is said in the group stays in the group unless it is determined that a person is in danger of hurting themselves or someone else.

Respect Others: We do not advise, analyze, or “fix” others. We are to support encourage, and admonish each other toward Christ-likeness and always in truth and love.

Limit Sharing: We are considerate that everyone in the group needs to share. We will be sensitive not to dominate the group discussion times and limit our discussion.

Regular Attendance: We will make a commitment to our group to show up at the appointed meeting times, be on time and end on time. When we cannot attend, we will call the leader to let them know.

Listen: Everyone needs a listening ear. When someone is talking, they have the floor. Everyone should actively listen.

Conflict Resolution: Whenever relationships are involved, there will be conflict. We will handle the conflict Biblically according to the guidelines of Matthew 18.

Avoid Offensive Statements and Jokes: We are all on the same team. Therefore, we should guard against offending one another. If someone offends us, we commit to work it out directly with her.

Be Prepared: Come ready to participate fully in your group include completing any homework.

Scripture: Scripture study will focus on application to life and will be in line with The Village Statement of Faith.

Socials and Service Projects: We commit to building community and impacting our world. These activities are just as important to attend as the study time.

Use of Spiritual Gifts: Group members will contribute to the life of the groups by identifying and using their spiritual gifts.

Wow. I immediately thought of how many situations I had been in that would have been pleasing to God had myself and the group members I was involved with before had signed and lived such a covenant. A friend would have talked to me after being angry / hurt for a year and a half instead of talking to everyone else. Another friend would still be my friend instead of shutting me out of her life. Leaders would have really been held accountable. The list goes on and on.

Today, I recieved the weekly letter from my new pastor. Refreshing.

God is being honored and He is using this church to reach people for him. He is not hindered. People see Him and want to be part. Just like in Acts 2. I know that no church is perfect, but some are striving to be Holy and this is what I was beginning to wonder about.

Read the beautiful and Godly words from my pastor and be encouraged. Especially if you, like me, might be a recovering skeptic.

God still the hearts of His people and in His Holy Church!

Good Afternoon,

Sorry I am getting this to you a little later in the day than usual; it's been a crazy week. As I drove into my driveway last Sunday night I was overwhelmed by all the stories I had heard over the past 48 hours.

The 41 people we baptized last weekend were from such different backgrounds. Most didn't grow up in church (probably helped them) and up until a year or so ago were atheists, agnostics, Buddhists and secularists. I was struck by how differently they came to the same conclusion. One studied philosophy and kept finding holes and problems in the dominate philosophical schools of thought and from there came to know Christ, while another came to The Village months ago to see her brother baptized and was so moved that she began asking questions and attending until Christ became real to her, and then there was the young man who grew up in church but never understood the difference between what the Gospel teaches versus the "Christian moralistic therapeutic deism" that is so prevalent in evangelical teaching. Upon hearing the gospel he was overwhelmed and transformed. It seems God saves from the irreligious and the religious! These are just 3 of the 41! How good is the triune God to us? It truly was an amazing weekend.There is a lot going on but I want to make sure you know about one event in particular.

On Friday night Oct. 17, from 7 to 9 p.m., we will host another Culture and Theology event. The subject? The Music and Theology of U2. One of the things we want you to be able to see is that the Gospel message is everywhere in everything. Dr. Glenn Kreider will be our guest as he guides us through the hope and ideas in the lyrics of U2. There will be childcare but you have to register for it on our Web site.

This weekend we will be in Luke 13:18-35. When you get a chance, read through the text and write down some of the things that you see.

I'll see you this weekend. Know that you are loved and prayed for.

For the joy of all people,

Matt Chandler
Lead Pastor


Laura said...

Wow, Liz! sounds like you have an awesome church. My family is coming out of a very difficult season with our church. It is so hard when Godly people do ungodly things. The church is one of Satan's prime hunting grounds. We need to be on guard. I'm so glad you found a good church and didn't turn away from it altogether!

Carol said...

Hi Liz, wow how cool I want to come to the U2 lecture. I'n so glad that God lead you to this Church Family. We are just starting at a new campus of our church. We have 2 campuses in two different cities, and felt pressed to move. So far we are enjoying it very much.

Have a great day.