Sept 2013: The Externally Focused Church

As the calendar rolls over into September, I am struck at how fast this year is flying by. I suppose that means that I’m getting older, perhaps a lot older. Moving into September also means that children are back in school and we look forward to a more structured schedule and the wonders of fall – school, football games, chilly weather, pumpkin patches and falling leaves, to name a few. The calendar change also affects us at church as Sunday School starts back up for the year and as we look forward to opportunities to serve the community with CROP Walk, Make a Difference Day and opportunities at Dunn Elementary School.

Beginning September 1st, we will begin a new sermon series in Jeremiah. Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet” and he certainly had a difficult calling. For 40 years, he was God’s spokesman declaring messages of doom for the people of Judah. By worldly standards, he was a miserable failure. The people didn’t listen to him and they didn’t repent from their sin as he asked them to. When the people didn’t repent, he predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the events of the exile. Interestingly, Jeremiah’s mind was so consumed with God’s prophecy that Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar are mentioned over two hundred times in chapters 20-52. So, throughout the fall, we will focus on texts from Jeremiah and see how this book of the Bible applies to our lives today.

On September 8th, we will move to our new Sunday schedule. In this, Worship will remain at 9:30 am – the same as in the summer. Fellowship Time will be from 10:30-11:00 am and Sunday School will start at 11:00 am. As was mentioned in worship a few weeks ago, this set-up will keep worship at a consistent hour. As well, hopefully there will be other benefits for Sunday School and Worship. Staff will evaluate the change after the first of the year.

Finally, sometime in September, I plan to start a new group to study the book, The Externally Focused Church, by Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson. Both are local pastors in Colorado. I learned of this book at a recent Gathering of ABC Rocky Mountain churches where Rusaw spoke about the concept of the church being outwardly focused in service to the community. Among other things, the book defines what an externally focused church is and gives an example of one church’s journey toward being externally focused. It also talks about the importance of building relationships in the community and casting a vision for service orientation in the church.

If you are interested in being a part of this study, please let me know by sending me an e-mail or leaving me a note in the church office. As of now, I am thinking of meeting each Wednesday evening from 6-7 pm, except for weeks that there is a Wednesday Evening meal. If Wednesday evening is a conflict for a significant number who want to attend, we can find a time more suitable to all of us. My hope is that we will have some good discussions which will help our church deepen its efforts to look outside of its walls and serve others in Jesus’ name. This group will be called, “Improving Your Serve”.

As we get back into the routine of a busy fall, my hope is that God will guide us, speak to us, teach us and use us as his people.

– Pastor Bill

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