Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Post.... GRACE CHURCH

Sam had a new outfit and Sarah had a new dress that a friend had sent so Steve took some pictures before church for me since I was gone with Selah to HBOT.
these two are so my twins:)

So when the nurse and I got to the HBOT clinic, THIS van was parked there....LOL


I just have to say IF marijuana was ACTUALLY prescribed like any other dangerous drug that would be ok with me.  BUT we can look at the states that have legalized it "for medical purposes" and see that soon it becomes legal for recreational purposes....  They seem NOT to hold anyone accountable.    While we were getting Selah into the van to leave, a lady came up to take a picture and she was ALL for it.  However to be quite honest, having worked with drug addicts for years, it was obvious the lady had had some issues in that area.....probably within the last few hours......    The nurse and I just rolled out eyes and got Selah into her car seat !  LOL
We got back to the church in time for me to share about Orphan Sunday.  If you know me, I do NOT cry in front of people....unless I am talking about my little ones or this morning I bawled as I shared about the two orphans I am committed to raise funds and find families for. Our church gave over $150 with more to come. I appreciate the fact that they have opened their hearts to something they really didn't know much about before the last couple of years. Sometimes I hear of churches not getting behind families who are adopting or they don't want to know about the world outside their 4 walls...I'm so thankful Grace Church of Zephyrhills Fl is not like that!! Our church has changed and grown so much over the past 7.5 years. We are so blessed to have lived through the changes (LOL) Looking over an almost full church this morning, seeing folks wipe their eyes as I shared our story ..... it was a blessing!!!!
We are so excited about our church.  I know I've mentioned it before but we came to a small, dying, physically falling down, "Sanford & Son" train wreck ...  The few families here, were all inter related and nothing had changed in 25 years.  The buildings were really almost falling down, there was a back addition to the church that was leaning, holes on the church's platform, pews that had so much termite damage that between services a new pile of sawdust would be on the old RED carpet.  We hauled off over 5 dump truck loads of just plain trash the first couple of months we were was unreal! 
Then as the years went by, God began to do some things.  One of the things was to move out some people.  I can love and care about folks, but still know they needed to find another church home. One reason was some folks had never seen or experienced much of the Christian world outside this church.  They were taught that this little church was the beginning and ending of their spiritual life. In other words, for them to go to another church would almost, if not be a sin.  Some folks came here just out of tradition, there was no deep relationship with God nor any Christian growth that was evident.  Sometimes folks need to be challenged.  Now I am all about being faithful to a church and having a church home BUT you can never cling to a specific church or exalt a specific pastor above God.   I think it is almost always a good thing for a church when the church loses people.....that sounds funny coming from a pastor's wife right???   LOL  Over the years, we feel like God has pruned our church.  It's not always been the easiest thing but it has been a good thing. 
When we took the church almost 8 years ago, we didn't' think we'd be here that long.   Jon has always had various ministerial offers but we felt we could help out for a while.  Then as we began really focusing on the church, God really started giving us a vision for this church.  Before anything could happen, God used some circumstances to basically empty the church LOL.  That was not the funniest time but we knew that God had something bigger for this church and we realized that sometimes things or people have to CHANGE to CHANGE!
We just determined to stay faithful to what God had set before us.  We never defined ourselves, this church by numbers or by situations.
God worked HUGE miracles to provide all the necessary labor and building supplies to totally redo the whole campus.   We made a decision that blew some folks away to give back a large donation that had been given to the church for seemingly selfish/control purposes... I can laugh about it now but when I dropped that check in the mailbox.....I thought I'd throw up LOL!!!!!!  Maybe not that bad but......   My husband said "God will provide or the church will fall down...."   guess what? It didn't fall down:) 
God has been faithful!
We had this great new renovated church and fellowship hall....but it was rather empty!
So what did we do?  We just put it in God's hands.  In the books of Acts, the bible says "God added to the church daily, those who were to be saved"  In the evangelical world there are all kinds of "programs" and "philosophies" about church growth.  They just ring false to us.  I don't' say that they are evil programs or philosophies  but we are not comfortable with using them. 
We just kept being faithful to what God had told us to do.  Pastor the church, pastor the prison, take care of orphans, love folks into the kingdom.....
Then we were gone to Ukraine and then the accident happened and we were gone for almost 6 months to NY.....  we had a couple of great guys who filled in for us while we were gone but they had other jobs/ministries they couldn't devote a lot of time to the church.  Jon and I discussed it ONCE while Selah was sick....  Jon said "God will take care of it or it will close"  ( You see how he thinks huh?)    We didn't really worry about things, there was nothing we could do anyhow....
It didn't' close....
We came home, there was some more pruning.....
THEN....God began doing some amazing things....really amazing things.... 
We have a "Family Intergrated Church" philosophy.... actually it USED to be called, the whole family going to church together until churches began offering children's church and teen church during regular church times.  Over the past 4 or 5 years, the whole idea of a children's church or a teen church became worrisome to us.  When we first came here, we looked for both a youth pastor and a children's pastor.  We did have one children's pastor who really pastored the kids and she is now a missionary.  But other than her, it just was not a good situation, we never felt good about the kids being out of church.  We had a youth pastor.....let's just say....DIASTER in so many ways....   And we really started thinking, praying and looking at things.  We began to see that separating the children and youth is "new thing" in the church world.  It started in the 70's and now most Christian churches have children's church during the main worship time and often have a youth church also.  If we look back on the decline of the young adults in church, it can so easily be traced back to the advent of the separation of kids and their families.  Now we are not militant but we look back to how we were raised, in church with our families...not in some little room coloring or hearing a little story.  We were in church worshipping and learning with our families. 
 We feel that is probably the best way for children/teens to learn about God, it worked for centuries in the church world.......
Wikiped defines Family Intergrated Church as
A family integrated church is one in which parents and children ordinarily attend church services together, children stay all through church services without attending Sunday school or children's ministries, and organized groups and activities for children and youth are normally non-existent. Other terms used are family discipleship churches, family-centered ministry and inclusive-congregational ministry.[1]
A spectrum of such churches exist with some completely eliminating all age-segregation and others allowing for some in certain contexts. Although segregation may take place during weekday events, family-integrated churches are generally united in having children in the main worship service.[2] Timothy Paul Jones notes that in the family-integrated ministry model, "all age-graded classes and events are eliminated."[3] Family integrated churches emphasise inter-generational ministry and the "parents' responsibility to evangelize and disciple their own children."[1] Some advocates base this on the idea that families are the "God-ordained building blocks of the church."
We came to this idea on our own, then we were told it is a whole movement LOL!  We've done things this way for at least 3 years and really see fruit in our kids' lives.  Now we have other families coming with their kids.  It's great! 
Then we had a couple move here who have a motorcycle ministry.  Then we had the privilege of partnering with a Spanish church to provide services.  Then we had a couple who went to a main line church who just wanted go deeper start coming and now they are starting a Sunday school class.   We had families make new commitments to attend the church in order to grow the kingdom. 
It's been an incredible few months.  No we're not running in the hundred's yet....but we run above 30 serious believers every week, now for a few months....we're reaching folks through prison ministry, orphan ministry, Missions, that may never attend our church but we are serious about Kingdom building....not building our own little kingdom.    What I love is almost everyone who has become a part of our church have just moved to the area, or just got serious with God or are seeking a deeper type of walk.....  No one has come because they were mad a preacher or didn't like something that happened in their church!   One time we had a family visit our church and all they did was bad mouth another pastor. I told them they needed to go and make things right with the pastor and the church and that we were not interested in building a church full of disgruntled church attenders LOL   Jon said I'd do well to read "How to win friends and influence people"  We actually just laughed about it.  Recently a friend of mine (who is much like me....I know that is scary!) was told the same thing...and she replied "I have enough friends and Jesus can influence the others" LOL
So we feel like we are at the beginning of something really great happening here!   Jon & I are all about reaching out to the ones that society forgets about....the prisoners, the orphans, the widows, the drug addicts, the "strangers", the elderly, the disabled....I don't share that in a prideful way, but that is where our focus in ministry has always been and sometimes it has been lonely reaching out to folks that no one else cared much about.  I don't know if lonely is the right word but as far as other ministers, for the most part, don't "get" us....    We loved the ministry that God has given us, it's just not many others were that excited about it.   We don't have any enemies (that I know of LOL) but we've just been "different" from the beginning.   I think most of the ministers who know us like us very much, they just don't understand our focus.....
But we are doing what God has put on our hearts to do and it is exciting!
So we are looking towards the future here at Grace Church!  Come join us if you are in this area! 

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