Hi Five Oakers,
I have a SEVEN things I want to share with you.
#1 - "All killer; no filler." (Bill Hybels quoting Willow's worship director at the Leadership Summit) That's the best description of last week's worship gathering in my opinion. Every element had a purpose and supported other elements--the call to worship, Scripture prayers of confession and assurance, songs, response stations, the video faith story and so much more. And every element effectively supported our purpose--to help everyone worship God personally and authentically. We geek out a bit on seeing certain threads run through various elements whether planned or not. This was one of those weeks where those threads were in clear relief. SO worshipful.
#2 - If you missed it, check out this faith story. Even if you saw it on the weekend, it's worth seeing again. Talk about weaving a beautiful story and all the elements coming together! And talk about a whole family being impacted by our ministry. Beautifully told, Charlie. And great cinematography, Jonathan.
#3 - Here are some of the comments from the Communication Cards:
- What a fun, creative and spirit-filled Women’s Ministry event this morning! Jeni’s message was meaningful, relevant and convicting. Thanks to all who made it happen!
- Beautiful opening with only the guitars. Clint, you will be missed. Response time, beautiful. [Justin and Clint's playing was truly amazing and skillful. Filled the whole room with just two guys playing guitar for the whole service. Loved it too!]
- What amazing musicians! Wow! What about the celebrities/politicians who use God’s word to promote hate? Thank you for a great sermon. Pastor Henry – Sherlock is also streaming on Netflix, three episodes a season! [I don't have NetFlix. Maybe one more reason to consider it. Lois and I loved the 1980's PBS Sherlock series. I wonder if they stream that.]
- Thanks for the great music this morning.
- Really enjoy reading Pastor Henry’s blog site mid-week, it is a blessing to hear all the positive comments, it strengthens my resolve for Him – Christ.
- Clever quote from Oswald. Very comfortable Saturday night service. Loved the “mood” with the acoustic worship. Liked the references to our Mission Field.
- Awesome music and message!
- Very touching/humbling time of adoration (Justin and Clint).
- I loved the quiet change-up in the worship set. Beautiful job guys. Nice job with announcements Tim, staying in the low key approach to the morning. Great, great message Henry. I loved the explanation of not delivering inspiring messages, but covering scripture and letting it inspire us. Loved the closing worship set! [Here's approximately what I said: "I’m no longer satisfied with preaching biblical sermons that inspire. I used to be. I want you to understand the Bible itself and let that message—it’s life-giving, God-inspired message—give you something solid and reliable to serve as a foundation for your life. I want his Word to inspire you and drive your life. But not just here on the weekend. I want this message to inspire you to turn to God’s Word every day on your own to hear from God. It’s why we do Group Life. But if you don’t use the Group Life daily study, find something else that works well for you to read and reflect on the Bible every day.]
- Thanks for “Nothing But the Blood”! Awesome!
- I loved the acoustic music! Be not afraid, I will follow you.
- Loved the message – great reminders! Loved the acoustic set – so worshipful!
- I know Pastor Henry fears God, because he said all the right things. We have an awesome God!
- Love the acoustic set-up! So cool to listen to the guitar highlighted. We have amazing musical talent in our church.
- Music fit tone of service. Reflective and thoughtful.
- Thanks for the beautiful worship today – excellent.
- Henry – thank you for having the courage to talk about consequences and the experience of judgment and hell. I appreciate the straight talk – hard hitting, relevant, and impactful context! I wish the communion music was acoustic every week.
- Loved the two guitars!
- Awesome to hear my daughter (7) sing “Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again”! It was a great teaching moment to explain what Redeem means.
- Thanks for the acoustic worship song sets. Very nice and contemplative, especially for the response time. My wife and daughter also appreciate not having the spinning/blinking backgrounds.
- Awesome worship.
- I always enjoy every week worship here at Five Oaks and the talents of all the people who play for the worship team, but it was wonderful this morning hearing the voices of the congregation while we were singing. It reminded me of when I was younger. Thanks for the unplugged service and looking forward to whatever you plan for next week. [Music to my ears when we hear the congregation singing praises. You might notice that from time to time (almost every week) the vocalists all pull away from the mics so we can hear each other.]
- Henry’s been answering/commenting related to what people write here. So those of us who see the blog, see his responses. Many comments are from newcomers, or others that don’t see the blog. What about adding a prompt to check out the blog in this section. Somewhere, rather than just on the front of the worship program? [Great idea. We do send notes to guests or new folks pointing them to the Memo if I address one of their questions.]
- I’d love to hear “deeper” prayers before the sermon. [One of the things I've been doing over the last couple of months or so is what's often called "A Prayer of Illumination." It's a regular part of most "high church" liturgies. Sounds ominous for those of us from "low church" traditions. But it doesn't have to be high churchy. I simply talk about why we look at the Bible and then pray for God's illumination of his Word and the message from his Word. I'll consider your suggestion. Thanks.]
- If you want the scriptures to teach us, speak to us, why do you show movie clips or other quotes? I think God will reveal what he wants us to know thru His word. [Thank you for this comment. It's a very complex subject and I'll just address one small aspect of it. The Bible not only gives us the words of God, it also teaches us by example. What we see in the Bible is that Jesus and other teachers always illustrated their messages with stuff from life. Think about Jesus illustrating evangelistic concepts by talking about a sower who sowed seed on hard ground, etc. As he spoke people would look up and see a field or a farmer working. His messages were mostly given in the outdoors. It's not hard to imagine him even pointing to what they were looking at. Jesus teaches us to use what pastors call "illustrations." Unfortunately, we are confined to a room for most of our teaching so we can't point, but we can bring stories and scenes from everyday life into our teaching. I don't know of any pastor that doesn't illustrate their messages in one way or another in order to drive home biblical truth, make it understandable or apply it to life. Movie clips and quotes are just two ways of doing it. I guess I'll only mention one more thing. The Holy Spirit gives gifts to build up the body and one is teaching. Teaching is more than simply reading the Word together. It requires unpacking it in a variety of ways. Well, there's a lot more I could say, but I hope that helps. Thanks again for raising this question.]
#4 - As I am writing, Tim Bubar is walking from the church building to Rochester in two days and one evening to raise money for the Challenge youth trip and because ... how can I say it ... he's a little different, eccentric, adventurous, slightly off.... And we love it! Go Tim! Only 37 miles today and 25 tomorrow. Last night he went as far as Hastings. Pray for safety and great adventures along the way. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter. Also pray for your students who will spend the weekend in Rochester at our denomination's district conference with several thousand students from around the state.
#5 - Our Staff Leadership Team spent a few days away this week working on our strategic plans for the coming ministry year starting in September. Maybe the best and most productive we've ever had. I can't wait to start sharing ideas for input from our leaders. Here's the bottom line: We know what brings spiritual growth (i.e., what grows disciples) and what is only marginally helpful. This is based on clear teaching in the Bible and rigorous empirical studies. Therefore we want to structure our ministry with what works and drop what is good but not great. Once again, "all killer and no filler" in all of our ministries. Getting there will not be easy, but it's not rocket science either. It requires God's power and all of us working together in cooperation with him.
#6 - We're two weeks into our Story of God small group experience. The new elements we added this time are going great. For one, the reading guide is in book form. I'm also giving a mini-lecture at the end of our time together, rather than assigning everyone to listen to the Story of God message series messages during the week. We have a great group of people going through it. Many have never understood the Bible and some are looking for a renewal of spiritual passion. I'm having a blast!
#7 - My message this weekend is on a familiar passage from Luke 12. Take a look at this confession (based on Deuteronomy 7) we'll be praying together in all of our services. I asked Dan Lukas to prepare it so that we can be prepared to listen to what Jesus teaches us. You can start praying it even now:
we think we can live without you.
In our pride we have said:
we are great.
we are strong.
we are self-sufficient.
we admit we often forget you,
even as we follow you.
we live on the word you speak;
on the scriptures you've given.
our life is tethered to you.
Jesus, Son of God,
we want to live like you did;
connected and dependent on the Father.
confident that when we admit our need,
you will be our help.
Come ready to worship. Jesus invites us to gather. This is not our idea. He calls us to gather and worship as the body of Christ.
Blessings to you, Pastor Henry