Weekly News 19 Nov 2017

People often say, “I don’t have to go to Church to be a good Christian,” and they’re absolutely right. Being a “good Christian,” by which I mean being someone whose life actually demonstrates the difference that following Jesus makes, is not about attendance. It’s a about participation.

The Church isn’t a place where people go to watch some kind of religious performance, at least it’s not supposed to be. The Church is the community of those who actively follow Jesus and who participate in the mission that he has given to his followers (We’ll get to what that mission is in a moment). So, while church attendance may be optional for followers of Jesus, active participation is not.

The mission of the Church is to make the reality, goodness, and love of God known in the world and to invite people into a new and growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That’s the mission, and with it are the ministries we perform to serve that mission.

The word ‘ministry’ literally means ‘service.’ The ministry of worship, for example, serves the mission, so do prayer, proclamation and gathering as a community of Jesus followers. When done faithfully these ministries help demonstrate the reality, goodness and love of God and present an opportunity for people to start a new and growing relationship with him. Other important ministries include outreach and service to our neighbours, pursuing peace and justice and caring for creation. These are all ministries because they serve the mission.

Regularly gathering with other Christians to actively worship, pray and hear God’s word is ministry, because doing these things serves the mission. Merely attending church, however, isn’t because it doesn’t. This week we are going to look at Jesus’ call to move people from attendance to ministry and how our “7 Steps” might just help us do that.

 

 

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Weekly News 12 Nov 2017

According to a Gallup survey conducted a few years ago church members who are actively involved in their congregation are happier with their lives, more inviting, more active in their wider communities and more generous with their time and money than those who are either ‘not engaged’ or ‘actively disengaged’ from their faith communities. This same survey found that the proportion of actively involved church members is growing. As the survey itself indicates this is good news not only for churches but for the wider community and for the people themselves who are getting more involved.

This Sunday we’re going to continue our series on spiritual growth and community building by looking at the role our church can play in helping more people discover their gifts for ministry and mission.

This is NOT about finding people to fill the positions that we think we need filled to keep our church going. The mission of the Church is not to build or sustain itself. The mission of the Church is to see God’s kingdom grow in the world, and that includes supporting and equipping people to live out the purposes to which God has called them and for which he is actively shaping them.

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Weekly News 5 Nov 2017

Remembrance Sunday

To honour those whose lives have been lost or forever changed by the storm of war, and in thanksgiving for all those who, in times of war, have served the causes of justice, freedom and peace we will begin our worship this Sunday morning with a service of remembrance at 8:45am and 10:30am

 

 

 

Following Jesus isn’t something any of us can do on our own. He never meant for us to. In our gospel passage for this Sunday Jesus says to his followers ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15:12).  That means, among other things, spending time together the way Jesus spent time together with his first followers.

Regularly gathering for worship is one of the most important ways we spend time together as followers of Jesus, but that can’t be the only time we spend together. For us to experience genuine spiritual growth and build meaningful community we need to spend at least some time together outside of our large group gatherings for worship. This is where Connect Groups come in.

Connect Groups are exactly what the name suggests. They are groups that exist to help people connect with both God and with each other.

The focus on connecting with God in worship should be obvious on Sunday morning and in other large group gatherings for worship. Hopefully most of the people who gather with us on most Sundays feel that connection with God in that setting. There can be something so exhilarating about worshipping God in a large group of people.

It is very difficult, however, to focus in a meaningful way on both God and those around you in a group of more than a dozen or so people. Inevitably someone gets overlooked or misses out on being able to share. Connect Groups are kept smaller for precisely that reason.I hope you can join us on Sunday as we share more about how Connect Groups work and why they are so vital to the spiritual growth and community building of our church.

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Weekly News 29 October 2017

We continued our series on growing spiritually and building community last week by talking about invitation and about being an inviting church. Followers of Jesus are called to invite everyone into the experience of God’s way for the world, what Jesus called the “kingdom” and which he embodied in his life and made available to everyone through his death and resurrection.  Jesus’ followers are called to follow him in inviting everyone into the kingdom.

Jesus also reminds his followers, for example in the story he tells in Luke 14:12-24, that no matter how uninterested some of those whom God invites may be God is going to keep inviting people into his kingdom until it is filled.  With God being so focused on inviting people into his kingdom the practice of inviting others to experience, or to at least explore what God’s kingdom is like, is one of our best opportunities for experiencing God at work.

If we make inviting people a habit we will of course find that lots of people aren’t interested in finding out more about the kingdom, but we’ll also be surprised by how many people are interested, and what we’ll find even more exciting will be the experience of seeing other people’s lives changed as they experience God and God’s ways for themselves.

One of the biggest challenges we face in inviting others to explore the Christian faith is knowing where to invite people and what exactly to invite them to. While some churches have gotten pretty good at providing “seeker sensitive” church gatherings on Sunday and at other times of worship there are almost always things we do or say as a group of lifelong churchgoers that will just be way too new or strange for someone who has never been part of church before or who has been away from church for a while. So, what do we invite people to when we want to invite them to come and learn more about the kingdom?

One of simplest and most popular things we can invite someone to is Alpha. The reason Alpha has been so popular for so long now is that churches and other ministries around the world have found that it is one of the easiest and most effective things to invite someone to where they can be free to explore questions about life and faith and God. It’s an opportunity for people to experience genuine Christian community without facing the hurtles of a gathering that has been designed primarily with lifelong church goers in mind.

For churches and for Christians who want to be inviting and who, in particular, want to invite people to explore and experience the kingdom, Alpha is one of the most powerful resources available today. But the power of Alpha isn’t the videos. It isn’t Nicky Gumbel or the high quality promotional materials. The power of Alpha is the space it makes for people to invite other people to explore and to experience who God is and what God is like together.

I really hope you can join us this Sunday as talk more about how Alpha works and how it fits into the spiritual growth and community building of St. Paul’s.

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Weekly News 22 October 2017

Our sermon series over the next several Sundays is about steps we can take to ensure that we are engaged in the kind of spiritual growth and community building that God wants for each of us and for our church.  I started this series last week by focusing on Jesus’ promise in Matthew 18:5 that when we welcome even one child in his name we welcome him. Growing spiritually and building community as followers of Jesus can only be done with the guiding presence of Jesus. Welcoming children in Jesus’ name, and in so doing welcoming him, is therefore vital to our spiritual growth and the building up of our community. Just imagine what might happen if every child and young person who walked into St. Paul’s felt like they mattered as much to us as Jesus. It could change their lives, and it would most definitely lead to greater flourishing in the life of our church.

But Jesus doesn’t just call his followers to invite and welcome children. Ultimately, Jesus calls his church to invite and welcome everyone, to invite and welcome people of every age, stage and in all the circumstances of life to come to know him, to believe in him, to become his followers and to know the fullness of life that he brings. This week we’re going to look at what I believe is the next step in our spiritual growth and in the building up of our community, being an inviting church.

Jesus had a reputation in his day for going to a lot of parties. Some of the religious leaders of his day complained that he went to too many parties and that he partied with the wrong crowd.  But as we’ll see in the gospel passage for this week (Luke 14:12-24) the reason Jesus went to so many parties was that his mission was to invite people to the ultimate party, to invite anyone and everyone into the celebration feast of God’s kingdom.

Being an inviting church isn’t easy. Even when we firmly believe that those whom we invite, if they were to come, would experience something of God’s love for them it still isn’t easy because of the fear of rejection. Even if we absolutely loved everything about our church (the hospitality, the preaching, the music and worship) it still wouldn’t be easy because of the fear that those whom we invite may not like our church. However difficult it may be to invite people to come and experience something of God’s love for them, it is, nevertheless, always rewarding to do so, even when the rewards are not immediate or obvious. We’ll talk more about what those rewards are on Sunday.

For now, I invite you to join us this Sunday as we look more closely at what it means to be an inviting church.

See you Sunday!
Rev. David Turner


Join us Tuesday, Oct 24th at 7pm for St. Paul’s Next 90.  We are going to look ahead to the Next 90 days in the life of our parish.  There will be exciting reports from ministry leaders in our parish, time to coordinate our calendars and to-do lists, and time to worship and pray together for God’s guidance and energy in the days and weeks ahead.

Please let me know directly if you are able to attend.
I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us.
Rev. David Turner
david.turner@anglican.nb.ca;
645-1853

 

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