Friday, January 25, 2019

Giving Ourselves

I have an admission to make. A part of me is unsatisfied in writing to you week by week. Don’t get me wrong, I actually really love writing to you as this is a good avenue for communication on important issues, and there is opportunity to share things I am thinking about in a different format, but there are limitations, too. Zach Eswine, in his book Sensing Jesus: Life and Ministry as a Human Being notes this as well by saying, “Twitter, Facebook, virtual conferencing—these allow us the illusion of being somewhere other than where we are. Positively we have a voice in places otherwise absent to us. But we type on our keyboards while sitting in a chair where we are—the local knowledge and work of the day in our place awaiting our presence. The danger here is that it allows us to give our gifts without giving ourselves.” You see, unlike Jesus, I am not omnipresent. And while we are connecting in some way right now as you read this, there are limitations to the ministry potential of this interaction.

Right now are some of you feeling this is kind of a strange Friday letter? However, I note this as a way of contrast to say how grateful I am Christ Church is officially adding three men to our session (board of elders) this Sunday. Sean Doran and Bryan Burke will be installed as ruling elders, while Bryant McGee will be installed as an Associate Pastor for Christ Church. Three more elders means that in significant ways, as elders, we will be able to give more of ourselves to you and to the service of the church.

Our worship on Sunday will focus around these installations. We will be taking a break from parables to hear a word from Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:9-18) that has much to say about caring for each other in general, and in particular, about the care needed in the service of the church.

So, I will keep writing and hopefully you will keep reading, only may we give more of ourselves to each other day by day!

As always — Grace,


Friday, January 18, 2019

Meeting the Cares of the World

On Sunday we will be looking at Matthew 13:1-23. It is the well-known parable of the sower, or perhaps more accurately, the parable of the soils. In it Jesus emphasizes the reality that while the Word is sown consistently it produces differently based on the type of soil that it falls into. Primarily, it is an invitation to cultivate the good soil that will bear the greatest yield to God’s glory. Secondarily, it is a reminder that as we carry out our mission as Christ Church we interact with folks representing the different kinds of soils, which in turn requires different ministry approaches.

Below is an open letter from Robin Luymes on behalf of the deacons, highlighting an important ministry of Christ Church geared particularly at coming alongside those for whom the cares of the world (cf. Mt. 13:22) are choking out the Word. We are so grateful for the men and women of Christ Church involved in diaconal ministry through our DMTs (Diaconal Ministry Teams). Perhaps this piques your interest as a place to serve.

At a recent Deacons Meeting, the deacons of Christ Church discussed Pastor Andrew's recent sermon on 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 about God's utilization of his people for providing comfort and Paul's exhortations to generosity.

The reality is that Christ Church is amazing when it comes to the generosity of their financial and material resources. As deacons, we are faced with many needs emanating from within and outside our congregation, and we are almost always able to help with funds. It is a great privilege for the deacons to be entrusted with these funds to help those simply trying to make ends meet or others facing large, unexpected challenges. Being able to provide funds that help a person in need can be a great blessing, but the greater blessing comes when the financial gift comes with our personal time and attention.

Two years ago, we set out to create Diaconal Ministry Teams (DMTs) with four different focus areas: Finance & Personnel, Facilities, Congregational Care, and Community Care. 

These four teams, involving deacon leadership, were created to involve Christ Church members in diaconal ministries. We would like to invite Christ Church members to become actively involved in two of these: the Congregational Care and Community Care DMTs, providing leadership for and participation in addressing the needs of people within our congregation and within our broader community.

As a DMT member, you would probably participate in five or six meetings per year at which you would discuss how we proactively and reactively meet the needs of others. You might be asked to lead one portion of that DMT's practice, whether that be our involvement with an outside ministry like Grace's Table for young, unwed mothers, our support and coordination of visiting the sick and shut-ins, transportation needs to attend our church or go to medical appointments, and much more. If it is something that our church currently does or could do for an individual or group, it may be a ministry that one of these two DMTs will tackle.

You may not feel you have the time, but you probably do, and even if you can't always make it, the deacons would love to have you there from time to time. You may think it is hard work that you do not have the talent for, but you do. It just requires that you care for other people, and we know you do. You may think it's someone else's job, but you're wrong! It's a job we all share, and we are inviting men, women and young people of Christ Church to become involved in one of these teams! Please prayerfully consider becoming an active part of these diaconal ministries through our DMTs and, possibly, as a deacon.

If you feel that the Lord is calling you to get involved please feel free to contact any of our deacons. Thank you in advance for your generous response to this call to become actively involved in Christ Church's diaconal ministries through participation on a DMT.

On Behalf of the Deacons,


Friday, January 11, 2019

Flowing to the Word

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1–2)

Perhaps more than anything recently the Spirit has captured my imagination with the desirability of living in accordance with God’s Word. As our recent study of Micah made clear, the consummation of the Kingdom of God will coincide with people flowing to the mountain of God to live under the Word and to walk in its ways. Tired of going their own way, tired of running into the despair and dead ends that humans create for themselves, people will flock to their Creator and delight in his Word and his ways. It was this Kingdom that Jesus was inaugurating and teaching about through the parables that we have taken for study. These parables were designed to capture the listener and make him a participant of this gracious rule.

But it is precisely this “flowing" to the Word of God that so many of us resist. Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp, in their book How People Change, put it this way, "More than any before us, an American today believes 'I must write the script of my own life.' The thought that such a script must be subordinated to the grand narrative of the Bible is a foreign one."

As we move into this new year may we increasingly become people of the Word. I recently heard one person put it this way, “Have you ever met a growing Christian who is not reading the Bible and praying with regularity?” As an aid, the Session has again made available a devotional book for us to pursue together as a church throughout this year. This year we have once again turned to Tim and Kathy Keller, who, this time, take us through the book of Proverbs. Filled with Gospel wisdom and practical application, we hope that this resource is a blessing to your household and an encouragement to an even greater pursuit of God’s Word.

Friday, January 4, 2019


So just like that we're off and running in 2019! It is amazing how quickly things can resume their normal pace.

Speaking of normal, as we move into the new year we wanted to take a minute and talk about the ways in which we care for each other at Christ Church, in particular our elder fold groupings. For the past several years, the Session has arranged the elder folds around C-Groups. There are advantages to this to be sure - the top advantage being all members of a C-Group have the same elder. Conversely, the fluid nature of C-Group membership has meant that members were reassigned elders often based on the new C-Group they joined. And for anyone not in a C-Group, fold assignments were rather random. All of this could cause confusion as to what fold someone was in.

As Christ Church continues to grow numerically, the Session considered if there was a better way to handle these divisions. Many good ways to do this exist, but we had to choose one. So, going forward in 2019, we are moving to Elder Folds based on geography. As our membership stretches from Saranac to Holland, and from Middleville to Greenville, arranging folds in this manner hopefully will assist us all in being able to care for those who are closest to where we live.

As we think about caring for each other, the primary level is member to member care. This can mean someone who lives close to you, someone in your C-Group or Bible study, or other small group you are a part of. The next level of care is to call on the elder or deacon now assigned to you geographically, to put them in closer proximity to where you live. The outer level of care then involves calling on the pastors and ministry staff, often in crisis situations. Here is a diagram of what this type of care might look like:

In addition, we have also consolidated the number of folds and are moving to a team approach. Thus, each fold will have either two or three elders assigned to watch over those within that area. Hopefully this change will help us more effectively care for one another. Expect that your elders will be communicating with you soon.

We pray these changes will not only assist the session, but also all of us as individual members of Christ Church as we seek to care for each other. May God give us hearts to do so.

Belonging to one another is one of the great benefits of belonging to the Kingdom of Christ. Over the next several weeks we will be looking more closely at the nature of this Kingdom as we explore some of the parables that marked Jesus’ ministry. We begin in Matthew 13:44-52 and note the priceless nature of the Kingdom!

See you Sunday!

(on behalf of the Session -with special thanks to Mark Jurries for his work on the fold redistribution.)