Monday, April 20, 2015

An open roof policy

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."  Hebrews 13:2

Christian Hospitality is more than just offering coffee and cookies in the church's Fellowship Hall on a Sunday morning.  As I see it, biblical hospitality is when followers of Jesus put pre-believers into a position to be in fellowship with Jesus!

Take a look at Mark 2:1-12, where buddies of a crippled man cut a hole in the roof of a home where Jesus is preaching.  They lower-down the paralytic, putting him right smack in front of Jesus' face.  From there, a miracle happens!  The man is healed of both his sin AND his disease!

What a great example of the power of true hospitality that leads to true fellowship!  True hospitality is God's action on our behalf, as He cuts a hole in the floor of heaven AND IN the ceiling of earth.  God then lowers-down His Son Jesus.  In doing so, we meet the Savior!  When that happens, we gain the gift of fellowship with Christ.  And, when that happens, Jesus calls us to rise up and walk brand new (verse 11) so that " may KNOW the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sin...." (verse 10).

On a recent trip to Easely, South Carolina, I drove past a major mega church facility on my way to doing a workshop at one of our church plants.  I came to find out the mega facility had recently built a huge bowling alley for its members...only.  Why? The church didn't want its members to have to bowl, or fellowship with, community folks who were not currently practicing faith.  Hmm.  In other words, the church wanted to separate itself from the very mission field that God created it to reach!

Christian hospitality is when we implement an "open roof policy" in our daily lives--- opening up our calendars, our pocketbooks, our homes...and certainly our church facilities so that God's hospitality of the gospel can welcome in strangers to meet His Son!

What might God's kingdom look like in your city, if your congregation began to practice this kind of "open roof" hospitality that leads to this kind of fellowship?

Monday, April 6, 2015

Planting updates number-3

Every once-in-a-while, I've been sharing some of the great-God-moments that are resurrecting within our LCMC church plants.  Here are some recent examples...

Les Sheridan of Rejoice in Norcross, GA, is currently having his new congregation worship from a local retirement center.  Because of the church's worship location, Les has partnered some of the residents with a local elementary school where 4th grade students and Rejoice's "grandparent-types" are now writing each other as pen pals!  Les says the school knows the letters are coming from Christians, but the teachers are excited to have older people caring and connecting with younger people, and vice versa.

Eric Hulstrand of Realife in Bloomington, MN tells the story of how a single man in his 30's, who suffers from bipolar disorder, responded to the church's sermon series, "Sometimes Life Sucks," by not only coming to worship, but has stayed for nearly 3-years!  In that time, the "once un-churched" man has brought his formally un-churched mom to meet the Lord...soon followed by the dad who was a self proclaiming atheist!  But, no more.

Julie and Brad Samuelson, co-pastors of Hands for Pine City in Pine City, MN, recently kicked-off their first Easter weekend with an Easter Egg hunt that drew over 150 kids and parents in their small, rural town.  Julie says it was the church's way of promoting its ministry of reaching the city, by showing it was willing to first bless the city.  This included the distribution of prepared meals, gift baskets and encouraging notes to the residents and visiting families of the town's retirement center.  The Samuelson's are now awaiting to see how early connections impact their worship attendance.

Frist and Lora Trost, co-pastors of Mobilize in Grimes, Iowa, moved from meeting in homes to meeting in a public coffee shop on Easter Sunday.  During one of the "practice times" before Easter, the church held a service at 5:00 pm as the coffee shop was closing.  One customer, however, stayed to see what was up that day...and has been coming ever since.  The Trost's hope it is a sign of how Mobilize can live up to its name sake!

Bill Retza of Living Waters, Crivitz, WI, says his nearly 2-year old congregation has saved-up enough money to purchase a second facility in neighboring Pound WI.  In doing so, Living Waters will now be able to minister to two local areas at once.  The congregation is also starting a food pantry to reach both cities in Jesus' name, and has been drawing all sorts of interest from new people moving to town who want to help!  In addition, Living Waters is sponsoring a weekly radio program so folks can hear the gospel and be invited into city ministry.

Please continue to lift-up in prayer these planters, their church starts and their communities.
Still to come...updates from Niagara Falls, NY, Wisconsin Falls, WI, Bismarck, ND, and a couple communities in Mexico.