Hello Emmanuel family and friends !
I was very proud of our elders’ decision last Sunday to postpone the congregational meeting concerning the choosing of a Pastoral Search Committee and, instead, to call the church family (you and me !) to prayer for God’s choice of the members of that committee. It takes courage and faith to wait on the Lord.
Someone once said to me, “If we work, God waits ; if we wait, God works.” I don’t know what you think of such a statement – maybe you think it’s completely absurd. Certainly, God calls on us to think, to plan, to exercise wisdom, and to act, … but He also calls on us to wait. “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7).
Part of waiting includes praying. Consider these words of E.M. Bounds who was a pastor and chaplain during the Civil War right here in Missouri :
“The faith which creates powerful praying is the faith which centers itself on a powerful person. Faith in Christ’s ability to do and to do greatly, is the faith which prays greatly.”
So, consider the elders’ call to prayer a real call which involves you ! Include in your personal prayer time, in your ministry prayer times with others at church, and in your family prayer times prayers for a wise, forward-looking, committed Search Committee ! The selection of a new Elder Board and a new Steward Committee for 2015 will also directly impact the search for a new pastor, so continue to pray for the current Nominating Committee and be involved in the process of submitting potential nominations to that committee. Thank you ! So you see that while we wait on the Lord, there are also actions to be taken !
The process for finding a new Senior Pastor will involve essentially three steps :
Ask : The church thinks about and asks questions about its own identity and the kind of pastor it needs next.
Seek : The church seeks information on available pastor candidates.
Knock : The church knocks at the door of high-interest candidates and narrows the search down to one person.
These are the kinds of things the Search Committee will be involved in doing. But not only the Search Committee — all of those who call Emmanuel “home” will be asked to contribute input during these three steps.
Some key questions that will need to be raised during the “Ask” phase of the search are :
Where have we come from ?
Where are we now ?
Where is God taking us next ?
What kind of person will we need to get there ?
So you see how wise it is to start with prayer. We need to be praying for God’s selection of the 5-member Search Committee, and we need to pray for clear and unified answers to some key questions.
Who are we ?
So, just who are we at Emmanuel ? A big help in answering that question is to remind ourselves of the material we’ve covered this year and last year in our adult 101 course, “Discovering Christ and the Church.” Do you remember that we said Emmanuel exists for five purposes :
to CELEBRATE God’s presence (worship)
to DEMONSTRATE God’s love (ministry, service)
to COMMUNICATE God’s word (evangelism)
to ASSIMILATE into God’s family (fellowship)
to EDUCATE God’s people (discipleship).
That describes what we do … which also says a lot about who we are !
We also talked in that course about eight principles that make Emmanuel unique :
a climate of acceptance
individual spiritual growth
clear purposes in all we do
a simple structure
Beyond all those things, we are an Evangelical Free Church which means one of our primary distinctives is that we don’t draw lines of separation between us on the finer, or secondary, points of doctrine. The main points of doctrine which we all agree upon are spelled out in the Statement of Faith of the Evangelical Free Church of America (www.efca.org). On the finer points of doctrine, we allow for differences within the church. We agree to disagree, if need be, and make a commitment not to allow those finer points of theology to become points of contention between us.
If this outline of who we are helps you in your praying, please use it ! We can be unified in our praying !
Who is a part of us ?
If you are a follower of Jesus Christ and consider Emmanuel to be a spiritual “home” to you, we want you to know you are part of the family ! However, for decision-making purposes we do keep a list of “voting members.” We encourage membership and believe it reflects a desire not only to be involved but also to take ownership of the church. Now is an important time for you to consider becoming a voting member at Emmanuel if you are not already. As you know, there are some important decisions ahead of us, including the selection of a new Senior Pastor.
The Elder Board is pleased to announce that Tom and Mary Andrews have met with the elders to share their testimony of personal faith in Jesus Christ and have asked to become members at Emmanuel. In a couple of weeks, we will look forward to receiving Tom and Mary “officially” into the congregation as new members.
If you are interested in membership at Emmanuel, please let me or Pastor Jeff know. We hope to run a new 101 adult course (our “membership” course) early in 2015.
What are we becoming ?
We are people who, by God’s grace and help, are becoming more like the Savior, Jesus. These are the things we talked about last Sunday in our worship service :
“Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. For God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago ; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendor of life as his own sons.
“In face of all this, what is there left to say ? If God is for us, who can be against us ?” (Romans 8:28-31, Phillips Bible)
If you’re interested in learning more about … and experiencing more of … spiritual growth, join me and several others on Sunday mornings in November in the adult 201 class, “Discovering Spiritual Maturity.” We will talk about, practice, and learn to practice four basic habits every Christian needs to develop in order to grow spiritually. It’s going to be a fun time, and you’ll experience a boost of spiritual growth and energy to help you finish out the year. We’ll start this Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Plan on joining us if you don’t already have a commitment during the 9:00 hour.
Remember this about growing spiritually :
It’s not automatic.
It’s a process.
It takes discipline. “Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit” (1 Timothy 4:7, Phillips Bible).
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday for worship, too, at 10:00, as we pick back up with stories in the Book of Judges and our theme of “Staying Strong When Your World is Falling Apart.” This Sunday — Judges 11-12, the story of Jephthah.
See you then !