Friday, February 21, 2014

Weathering the Storms

At least once in your life (probably more) you will experience some kind of conflict within the church.  At least once in your life (probably more) you will experience some kind of doubt in your faith.  If these two things happen at once you might consider leaving the church altogether. I hope you won't do that.  Even if every fiber of your being says "GET OUT" I hope you won't do that.

Instead I hope you'll do this one thing:  Visit an elderly member of your church.

Hold her hand.  Talk to him about his first love.  Pray together. Laugh. Wheel her around the assisted living home.  Meet his friends.  Ask why he first joined First Baptist.  Ask why she stayed at First Baptist.  Give him a kiss on the forehead.  Eat lunch together.  Listen to his wise words.  Ask to see pictures of her grandchildren.  Smell his prize-winning gardenias.  Meet their cows. Eat all the cookies she offers.

Visiting seniors won't magically make conflict disappear, but it will connect you to folks who have loved the church for longer than you've been alive.  That love usually isn't flippant or naive, so listen carefully. Ask how they stayed with the church when the going got rough.

Visiting seniors may not make doubt subside, but it will connect you to folks who have experienced their fair share and lived to tell about it. Ask how they trusted God when the going got rough.

Visit these friends and listen.  Learn how you might weather the storms.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Seen and Unseen

There are many ways in which the church can reach out in mission, but where do we start?  As the prayer of the Breton fisherman goes "O God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small."  The optimist in me responds by saying "But we do have a boat!"  It may be a two-person canoe in the Atlantic, but we've got a boat.  Let's see where we can go and what we can do.

One way I hope the Scottsville Baptist boat floats is by participating in missions both seen and unseen.  'Seen' missions are often tangible.  We often see instant results:  hungry bellies filled, utility bills paid, or children gathered to learn Bible stories.  'Seen' missions is giving bread, doing home repair, and leading a neighborhood VBS.  'Seen' missions is important work.  

'Unseen' missions is important work too; however 'unseen' missions are rarely tangible.  'Unseen' missions are writing grants, supporting an underground church, or searching for trouble we cannot see.  'Unseen' missions is rescuing the hidden. 'Unseen' missions is actively looking for the oppressed.  

Both 'seen' and 'unseen' missions are imperative.  It's not an issue of either/or.  It's both/and.    

Tonight Scottsville Baptist hosted faith-based ministry The Arbor.  The Arbor "endeavor(s) to create a welcoming home, a community of healing, and a peaceful refuge for foreign-born trafficking survivors in Virginia in order to reclaim wholenessfreedom, and life in early 2015."  Currently there is no such home in Virginia that ministers to the particular needs of trafficked persons.  Virginia churches, I hope you will consider inviting The Arbor to talk with your congregation.  Please comment, call, or email if you have questions.  I am eager to connect you.

While the complexities of modern-day slavery are difficult to grasp, it is imperative faith communities step up and help restore trafficked persons in the name of Christ.  The Arbor is 'unseen' missions.  Victims of human-trafficking are all around us, yet remain hidden.  This 'unseen' tragedy survives on its ability to be underground.  Awareness and action are key.  We've all got to play a part in restoration.   Scottsville Baptist boat, let's pray about 'unseen' missions and how we might be part.

Monday, February 3, 2014

A great day for Scottsville Baptist

Admittedly some days in the church community can be a challenge, but other days are so full of joy it is barely containable!  It is important to celebrate such days.  Yesterday was that kind of vibrant, life-giving day for Scottsville Baptist:  

1.  A youth led in worship (with our great pianist) by playing the violin.  Thanks Hannah and Janice!

2.  The kiddos were introduced to my lookalike muppet, Little Katie, during the children's sermon.  They were unexpectedly (to me) terrified. 

"Do you want to hold her?"  Nervous shaking heads said no.  

(Post services, they warmed to her.)

3.  We shared the Lord's Supper.

4.  Two wonderful folks joined the Scottsville Baptist family.  Welcome Hallie and Matt!  The congregation broke out in thunderous applause. We laughed.  We smiled.  We forgot to vote.  (We later voted over soup per Robert's Rules of Order, Section 5 "If You Forget to Vote") 'Twas great.

If ever you wonder how thrilled pastors are when folks join the church, look no further than my face.  

5.  We enjoyed a delicious Souper Bowl Sunday lunch.  Thanks Barbara and team for your work!  $420 was raised to help offset youth mission trip costs.

6.  We set a February goal of collecting 200 rolls of toilet paper for the food pantry.  People walked in the doors of the church armed with Charmin. We laughed!  The collection box was overflowing with TP! Huzzah!

In the words of Paul Harvey, "GOOD DAY!"