This could be a long list, and I always feel a tad bit awkward bragging about the Living Stones Church. I’m not sure why that is. It is sort of like bragging on your children. They deserve it; what you are saying is totally sincere; you really do think they are the best…but it risks irritating those around you (come on…who hasn’t been around the parent who WON’T stop bragging about their little “honor roll” who said and did the “cutest”…blah, blah, blah).
Plus, I remember what it was like (in the not too distant past) when church life was bad. And I mean real bad. Bad bad. Like…I want to “quit and move to Bald Knob, Arkansas bad” (no offense to Bald Knob, Arkansas…and yes, there really is a Bald Knob, Arkansas). And I remember in that discouragement how I received the “MY CHURCH IS AWESOME AND GOD IS GREAT AND EVERYTHING IS PEACHY” sentiments of those who were not in my place (I’m not saying this is the right spirit to have, I’m just saying it was my spirit.). If this is where you are…I know what that feels like…and I can now say with confidence God not only rescues, but he does more than you ever hoped or imagined…and even in the bad times…He is at work (even though in the midst of it…you feel totally abandoned). Maybe that will be good new for someone.
Anyhow…at the risk of irritating…here is my list:
- I love all the new people who are walking into the Living Stones Church for the first time. There are a lot of them. And when I hear their stories (which usually entails suffering), I love them all the more.
- I think most who do walk in find a church that is down-to-earth and receptive no matter where you are, or what you’ve done, as you walk in.
- I love watching my children’s excitement and enthusiasm about our church.
- I love that I got to share the stage with my wife over the past two weeks and talk about BEAUTIFUL: A message series directed towards women. You can listen to them on the podcast here.
- A few weeks ago we baptized 14 people. That makes 52 this year…and still counting.
- We had a baby dedication a week ago.
- We wrapped up a retreat yesterday where we planned out the message series for 2010.
- Along with that is the excitement and anticipation for if God simply repeated next year what he has done this year…WOW!!
- At the baptism we broke a non-Easter attendance record. The following week we broke another. And then last week (when the “big events” were finished) we still had an attendance that breaks through another church growth barrier.
- Every Sunday afternoon I meet with our current elders and three other men on their way to serving as shepherds at the Living Stones Church. I’m exhausted before we start (Sundays are a long day). But when I’m finished, I couldn’t be more excited.
- Last night I concluded my Beginner’s Guide to Christianity Growth Group. I love telling the stories of the Bible. And I loved the people who were in the group as they brought notebooks, took notes, asked questions, left the group to drink coffee, etc. and really examine everything we talked about.
- We had 23 4th & 5th graders just at 11:30 a.m. last week. Throw in the number from 9:30 a.m. and we have a 4th & 5th grade group that is bursting. I’ve heard great things about the class and I’ve enjoyed watching all the 4th & 5th graders walking around with their Bibles in hand. I only asked MEN to teach the class (not that I mind if a woman teaches, I just wanted to see how many men I could get involved). I have enough men to cover two services (one month at a time) until February!!
- We begin a new series, Elf: Finding Your Place in the World, in two weeks. It is going to be a lot of fun.
- I love our paid staff – Ann Lynn & Jennae Gee. They work REALLY hard. They SACRIFICE a lot. And we would be no where close to where we are today had it not been for God working in and through them.
- I love our ENTIRE leadership team. We meet the second Wednesday of the month. I love their discernment. I feel confident I could bring any issue to the table and they will adjudicate it well and with wisdom.
- I’m excited about what is happening in our Kids Kanyon. I love the roles – Conservation Officers, Rangers, Scouts, Guides, and Trailbuddies. Love it!!
- About a week ago the church received a $2500 gift from a family who used to go to our church and has since moved to Washington. They listen to the podcast and felt like blessing us. WOW!
- We have new babies born every week. We need a separate building/facility just for our nursery.
- This past Sunday we put 54 “snowflakes” (a “snowflake” represents a child in whom we intend to help for Christmas this year) on our Giving Tree. ALL 54 snowflakes were gone by the end of the 9:30 service. When 11:30 showed up – it was just an empty Christmas tree!! WOW!! To 11:30ers…as we mentioned on Sunday, if you want to buy a gift card from Target or Wal-Mart…we’ll either find more children…or supplement the gifts for the families that could use it.
- I love the spirit of our church. As I listen to the stories of conflict in other churches or the issues that they are fighting over…I can’t tell you how awesome it is to think, “I’m so glad we don’t fight over those sorts of things.”
I can go on…
Before you think, “Sounds like everything in your church is just honky dory” – let me tell you…we have issues…OH MAN do we have issues…
I can offer my “Dear God…Help Us Because…” list -
And I will. After Thanksgiving.