Thursday, September 29, 2016

Our Church's New Mission Statement

“Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock…” (Matthew 7:24)

“Effective vision for the future always rises out of the realities of the present and past."  That's a truth which has guided our church this past year as we embarked on the first phase of a 2-3 year process for us to become more effective in ministries and outreach.

That phase, you may know, has involved us seeking to better understand the realities of who we ARE as a church (our Mission/Purpose/DNA, if you will), so that next year (2017) we can begin the next phase to help us discover who God is calling us to BECOME (His Vision).

We began last March by inviting you to share your thoughts about our current identity in a congregational survey, of which 130 were turned in.  The results of those surveys, combined with further research of our church’s history this past Spring and Summer, helped our church's leaders to realize that the mission statement we previously had did not adequately or accurately articulate the unique essence of our identity as a church.

Consequently, at its August 23 meeting, our Church Council adopted a new mission statement that we believe both clarifies and captures the essence of our specific identity – that as a church, we are…

in our faith, family, community and world”

While this statement alone will not get people to visit us or grow our church, nevertheless it will form a firmer foundation (a “rock” as the scripture says above) upon which our Vision for the future (which – when implemented – will grow our church) can be successfully built.

So, “where do we go from here” you ask?  The following are the steps remaining in our process to become more effective in our ministries and outreach:
            ● September-December: employ firm to begin work on new logo/”brand” graphic, and do preparatory work to lay groundwork for 2017 VISION process
            ● January-May 2017: VISION discovery and discernment, involving several distinct processes and tasks
            ● May-August 2017: VISION articulation, adoption, and sharing with congregation
            ● Fall 2017: beginning of VISION implementation

I wanted you to see where we were in this process so you can be aware not only of what has been done, but also of what is still to come.  If you have questions about any of this, please don’t hesitate to contact me either in person, by phone, or email.  And remember that God loves you and I do, too!

(P.S. I invite you to read the “Reclamation” series sermons that unpacks the complete three phrases of this new mission -- readthese sermons HERE

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Is God Calling You to Stephen Ministry?

“[God] consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Stephen Ministry is a new lay-caring ministry that our church is re-starting in 2017 that will enable us as a church to care for one another in the way Paul describes above.  With over 1100 members, it’s impossible (and impractical) for our two Pastors to be able to take care of all the congregational care needs of our church.  So, our Stephen Ministry is therefore one of the vital complementary components of our church’s care systems.

Stephen Ministers themselves are fellow church members who’ve gone through 50 hours of training to provide confidential, one-to-one Christian care for people who’re facing a crisis or simply going through a tough time. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, loneliness, cancer, a layoff, relocation, divorce, a spiritual crisis, recuperation, single parenthood, or any of countless other life challenges or hurts, our Stephen Ministers are there!

The way the system works is this:  Stephen Ministers meet with someone in need (called a “care-receiver”) once week for around an hour to listen, care, pray, and provide emotional and spiritual encouragement.  Men are matched with male Stephen Ministers, and women are matched with female Stephen Ministers. The caring relationship is free, and lasts for as long as the care-receiver needs the care – it’s a powerful way either to receive help for ourselves, or also a great way to help a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or relative who’s been struggling in any way.

Consequently, this Fall we are recruiting a new class of Stephen Ministers who will start their training in early 2017 and be commissioned to begin their work in early Spring. To find out more about how you or someone you know can become one of our church’s Stephen Ministers, you’re invited to attend one of our no-string-attached “Stephen Ministry Information Sessions” on October 2, 5, or 19 (look for details about these in upcoming articles).  

Or you can also either email our Stephen Ministry leadership, speak in person with our church's Stephen Leader Miriam Kelly, or to Pastor BrianTo find out more about Stephen Ministry, visit their website HERE

Our Stephen Ministry is here to for you and for our congregation and community!  I pray that you will prayerfully consider if God might be calling you to care for others through this ministry!  Always remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Gideon Sunday

"The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  (Hebrews 4:12)

“Gideons, International” is the result of a meeting back in 1908 between two businessmen who wished to band commercial travelers together for evangelism. What began back then as an association of Christian businessmen placing Bibles in hotel rooms has evolved today into an interdenominational ministry  providing people access to God’s Word all around the world.

To date, over 2 billion scriptures have been distributed in more than 200 countries, territories, and possessions in 95 languages. Not only do they distribute God’s Word for free in hotel rooms (for which most of us are familiar), but also in prisons, military units, schools, hospitals, “on the streets,” and in many other places.  And while they are not a church, they nevertheless partner with churches  like ours to make possible God’s ministry through them.

I remember first hearing with fondness about the amazing work that they do growing up as a young boy in my home United Methodist church in College Park, GA.  Many United Methodists are part of this ministry (including several of our own LFUMC members), and I want to encourage us as a church to re-engage in their local ministry here in LaGrange/Troup County.

As part of this re-connection, on Sunday, September 4th we will be hosting “GIDEON SUNDAY” where we will welcome two speakers from our local Gideon chapter to speak at all of our morning worship services that day:  Mr. Don Seal will speak at our Chapel and Sanctuary services; and Mr.Jeff Miller will speak at our Morning Glory service.

I hope you will join Blake and I that Sunday not only in welcoming them, but to come prepared to have our hearts touched and challenged by the possibilities and opportunities for renewed partnership with Gideons, International through our church.  And I invite you also to come prepared to share your generosity in a special offering.  For more information about the Gideons ministry, visit .  Remember, God loves you and I do, too!