I send a Friday email to our church with a little devotional thought. I thought I’d start placing it here, too
On my last day at Peachtree Presbyterian in Atlanta, a fellow pastor on staff, Mark Brewer, gave me an important and challenging task: “Make sure you find a way to routinely weigh members of your congregation. Don’t just count them.” Don’t worry, we are not going to install scales at the doors of the sanctuary, nor are we going to launch a weight-loss, Daniel Plan initiative. The admonition from Pastor Mark is a metaphor that points to a dilemma for church leaders: “There has to be more to what we can study about how our church is doing than just the three B’s: Budgets, Butts, and Buildings.”
There is and Jesus is focused on who we are becoming, not merely how many are showing up for worship. His Sermon on the Mount is filled with teachings that check our character, especially when no one is watching. Paul regularly launches into tightly, packed sections in his New Testament letters concerning our life lived together. While listening to John Ortberg recently, I was challenged. He made this neat comparison between our bodily health and our spiritual health. “Your body is always being shaped, whether you like it or not. Your body takes no breaks in being shaped. In the same way, your soul never ceases to be shaped, by what you do or not do in correspondence with the way of Jesus.” (paraphrase) What a stunning reality, one that should be a primary focus for us as Christians and for us as church leaders.
To that end, we will launch into a new sermon series this Sunday called Vitals. Vitals will outline three categories for spiritual formation, how one might grow in Christ. The image we’ll use is the Apple Watch face, which has three rings worth of daily goals that monitors our personal health. I hope that you not only make it to the opening sermon this Sunday, but commit to listening to each part of this series so each of us can make a personal and family plan to grow up in the knowledge of Christ in 2018.
This Sunday at the Cordova campus and next Sunday at the Arlington campus, we’ll have a unique wrinkle in our worship liturgy. Our faith formation team on staff has put together a way for each of us to “weigh” how we are doing as a follower of Jesus, a simple examination exercise to sketch how our faith life is going. I don’t want to give too many details at this point, but I wanted to share our enthusiasm for this opportunity and for you to know that we want to do all that we can to help you shape a deep, relevant, and informed faith. I pray that you and I will be eager to weigh ourselves this weekend and to be open to God’s transforming power in the year ahead.
Happy New Year!
What I’m Currently Reading: God Dreams by Will Mancini
What I’m Currently Watching: One Wheel promo videos (and trying not to cave into envy)
What I’m Currently Listening to: Queen’s “Forever” album
An App I find helpful: Adobe Photoshop Express