Church yesterday had a real “buzz” about it. You know what I mean; it’s when you enter the sanctuary and you can almost feel the electricity, the sense of anticipation, the low rumble of dozens of conversations, the undercurrent of prayer, the knowledge that everyone is there for the same purpose.
When it’s time for the children’s moment – and this is true for both services now – the kids tumble their way to the front like a pack of puppies, falling all over one another, stepping on one another’s tails, eyes bright, laughing.
What’s cool is that it’s not just the children (well, maybe the falling all over one-another to get to the front part is…). Church is an invigorating, encouraging, joy-filled motivational experience for absolutely everyone! You just can’t help but feel good after spending an hour or two at First Brandon.
PEOPLE OF THE DIRT: Rebekah preached on the Parable of The Sower and the receptivity of the soil, and she spent the entire sermon referring to our congregation as “People of the Dirt.”
There were some interesting lists in the message, covering questions such as “The top-ten reasons people don’t come to church,” “The top ten reasons the ‘un-churched’ actually do visit a church,” and “Why the (previously) un-churched tend to come back, and keep on coming.”
Rebekah said she was surprised to learn (from several examples of published research) that “The Preacher” was the number one reason “the un-churched” come in the first place. “However,” she said, “‘the preacher’ dropped all the way to sixth place when those same people were asked why they returned for more visits and why they eventually joined.”
Interestingly, we had a good number of first time visitors, and they were all impressed to learn that they were already a part of our conversation. One pair of visitors, a man around my age and his son, told Rebekah they had showed up for worship in response to a “Something’s out of balance in my life” urging.
“We’ll be coming back next week,” the younger man said. And then, with a twinkle in his eye, “but not because of the preaching!”
It’s good to know that visitors can pick up on the spirit of goodwill and deep love that permeates our church home.
THE WORD: But there’s something else that defines this community of faith, something that’s been growing over the past couple of years. What I’m talking about is a deep passion for scripture that’s increasing as time goes by.
A couple of years ago, Rebekah challenged the congregation to read large chunks of scripture every week. She calls it “Engaging the Bible” and the initiative is still front and center on our church web page at www.fpcbrandon.org.
A few people got on board early on, then several more as time went by. This year, with the addition of the “Read through the Bible in one-year” booklet, more and more members of our congregation are involved in serious, regular Bible reading than ever before.
My Sunday morning study group is tackling the New Testament; we’ve decided to read the books in the order in which they were written. This week we looked at Pilemon, and the conversation settled in around the idea of freedom.
In the Gospels, Jesus said that “the truth will make us free,” and the Bible is an amazing resource if we want to not only know truth but intend to live into truth.
Know the Truth…
Live into the Truth…
And so, with this combination of abundant life, transformational discipleship, encouraging community, and the life-giving truth we experience through God’s word, I’m as ready for another Monday as it’s possible to be.
In truth, in light, and with encouragement – DEREK