“To put it another way, you are God’s house. … Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 3:9-11, The Message
I wonder if you have ever watched “Fixer-Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines? My favorite part is the reveal at the end, when the owners discover their ‘new’ home. Being installed into the Senior Pastor position at West Side feels like I’m stepping into this episode at the point of the big reveal! Our congregation is definitely not a fixer upper! You – we – are God’s house, firmly founded in a mutual faith in and worship of Jesus Christ. Only a few weeks into this family, I’m delighted in the long relationships (walls!) – spiritual vitality (lights!) – and warm welcome (radiant heating!).
Unlike the TV episodes, we do not compress our building projects into an hour-long episode. God continues to build our house. I’m sure you remember some of the key growth areas from the mission study that support the important goals of reaching out to and welcoming new people, especially families with youth and young children? The support beams for these goals included deacon training (pastoral care) and attention to governance – Christian education – and worship and music. This month and next, we are going to launch right into some important work together in these areas – ready to roll up your sleeves?
The first ‘all hands on deck’ project is redesigning our current Sunday worship and education schedule to better welcome families with young children and youth. This is not a new idea here at West Side– it’s the sort of “yeah, we’ll probably need to do something about that entryway into the living room” type of house project that gets talked about for years before plans are drawn up and the work begins. This February the Session will lead us in drawing up those plans and getting to work together on a redesigned Sunday worship and education schedule – one that retains the essential features of our ‘house’ here at West Side while creating the sort of open plan that appeals to many families with kids and youth. In other words, the aim is to remain true to the traditional forms of Christian worship and our dedication to intergenerational fellowship and education, while also opening up our worship gatherings to contemporary expressions of music and engagement. Please mark your calendars for Sundays February 10 and March 10 when we will have table discussions during the morning and evening fellowship meals that follow worship. Most importantly, be praying for God’s Spirit to guide and direct our building with love, creativity and energy.
The second essential project is more about maintenance than design. It’s a great time to dedicate some attention to our leadership teams here at West Side, especially, but not exclusively, elder and deacon responsibilities. Let’s tackle this as a family, since these leadership roles are so important to everything that we do. With a team of elders and deacons, I’ll lead a 5-week practical Leadership Lab, exploring Jesus’ model of leadership. The goal is to equip all the saints for leadership responsibilities in God’s family. You are invited to join us for Sunday Adult Education classes February 17 – March 17 (that is 5 Sundays, 9:00-9:50 am). If you cannot make the morning class time, contact Josh Kutz about an alternative small group option with recordings and workbook from the morning.
I thank God daily for the joy and privilege of serving as your pastor,
Joyfully – Pastor Laurie