Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Launching Community Groups

Tonight with Redeemer Church we will have our first Community Group. I've envisioned these for quite some time, so I'm excited to see them finally beginning. Like many things in my plans, they don't always happen the way I think they will! For instance, I am hosting the Community Group in my home, yet we've had sickness in the home all week and so we are having our first one on the church campus (clearly wasn't the plan!). However, we are still moving forward trusting the Lord in these things.

I thought it may be helpful to flesh out what we plan to do in these groups and why I'm calling them Community Groups. That name is intentional for us, and will be used in three ways. Our threefold purpose in these groups is to build community within the body of Christ, reach out to the community with the gospel, and transform the community through ministry projects. Though I have yet to see this flesh itself out, I am planning to structure these groups around these things.

Therefore, each time our group meets we will have a time of fellowship and simply hanging out together. I hope this fosters friendships and closeness within our church. We will also have a time of purposeful prayer for our community and one another. We will share any gospel opportunities we've had over the last week. We will also have a time of bible study/discussion. And we will seek together to come up with ministry projects/opportunities in SWFL that will help us transform our community with ministry projects.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Big Changes for our Church!

I have been fairly quietly over the last several months on the internet and social media because I have been swamped leading our church through a very important season of change. At the end of April I ended up in the hospital for three nights. It caused me to miss a Sunday morning of preaching. It was the first Sunday away from the pulpit in over 11 months. I needed it, but didn't know it. I was also scheduled to be away the next two Sundays as I was heading to Romania with a friend to train pastors. I had to miss it due to not feeling well, but still took the two weeks for a much needed vacation. During that time away the Lord began to bring me to a place of decision making. What was I going to do with my life, my family, and our church?

Tough questions ran through my mind as I "tried" to relax on vacation. I actually did relax. The medicine made me! Through a short series of events I felt the Lord may be perhaps leading me to plant a church. This has been a desire/struggle for years. However, during my times of prayer and Scripture reading with the Lord I came to a different conviction. I came to the conviction that I needed to lead my present church better. I needed to have compassion for our community. I needed to work hard and pray harder for our church to be a gospel driven church for those around us. So I came back from vacation eager to confess to my church that I needed forgiveness for not leading well, and that we could no longer remain the same.

So I presented a plan to our leadership, and then to the church. The plan was to adopt our new constitution and church covenant. Among other things, our new constitution moves us to a biblical model of leadership (plurality of elders) and a better statement on church discipline/membership. I also presented that we change our church name. There are several factors for this, but the point is simply we want to be better known in our community than we have been. A third part of this plan was to relocate our worship service. Thankfully we are blessed with two buildings so we are able to do this without having to rent, or really move.

In August we voted. With that vote our church confirmed my desire to relaunch our church. On September 1, 2014, we began operating as Redeemer Church. Yesterday, Sunday, September 7, 2014 we had our first worship gathering in our other location. It was fantastic! I'll share more about that in an upcoming post. This Wednesday, September 10, 2014, we will launch our first community group.

Over the next four months (September through December) we will train, recruit, and establish our leadership, ministries, values, and goals. God-willing, we will have our "launch" service on January 4, 2015. Please pray for us as we continue this transition. Pray that we will indeed be a church that makes disciples who make disciples.