March 1, 2019
Dear Church Family & Friends,
This Sunday we will be having communion and a fellowship meal following the Sunday Celebration. Please invite a neighbor to come to church and bring a dish or two to share with others. This Sunday is also the first Sunday for initiating our discernments from the fasts!
Our focus on the Word time this week will be based on the sixth chapter of Chan’s book; “Crucified.” Francis Chan writes “Becoming a Christian is a complete and total surrender of your own desires and flesh to the higher purpose of serving God’s glory.. Far from having no cost, following Him will cost you everything.” Americans are accustomed to comfort. If American believers experience discomfort, they generally feel that “something is wrong” and make changes to avoid it. Reaching out in love for others is costly, uncomfortable and often comes with suffering. Americans somehow have come to believe that following Jesus does not require suffering. This is revealed when unbelievers oppose our beliefs. Instead of standing up for what is right we give into societal pressures by hiding or denying what is right. We choose to be approved by men rather than approved by God. Chan states: ” The more I study the Gospels, the more I am convince that those of us who live in the United States have warped view of what it means to be a ‘Christian.'”
According the the Jesus, the world will hate and persecute followers of Jesus. John 15:18-20 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…” Why aren’t believers persecuted in America? Chan suggests that persecution is not taking place is because the church has allowed selfishness, and acclimation to a sin to take root in the fabric of Christian society. Barna statistics agree with this claim. The Barna institute has found that the lifestyles of people in the church are virtually the same as people in the world. Could it be that be that Chan right about this? Would we actually be persecuted if we chose to live lifestyles that were in accordance with the New Covenant? More on Sunday!
Starting this Sunday, we will begin in earnest to operate according to the discernments received during the past 6 months of fasting and prayer and discernment. The following discernments are before us:
- God is calling us to be a church that serves those in need – specifically the poor and needy in our community
- God is calling us to be a church that regularly seeks His face – God is calling us to individually and corporately give our attention to worship, prayer and encounter with God. This is the first commandment.
- God is calling us to be a church that exists as a network of Home Fellowships – God is calling us to meet in homes, to live in true community & mutual ministry and to reach out to others as home group fellowships.
- God is also calling us to continue to meet weekly as Large Group – This weekly large group meeting is to consist of periods of worship and waiting on the Lord. The Word of God will be proclaimed and a time of response and ministry will follow.
- God is calling the leadership to equip the saints – Equipping classes or a means for equipping the saints for the work of ministry is an important aspect of our lives together. Suggestions: Inner healing, financial peace etc..
- God is calling us to exist as a “cell church” – A cell church is primarily a small group based ministry. (See paragraph below)
In accordance with these directives it is important that we:
- Identify a person or persons who will serve at outreach coordinator/s to spearhead ministry to the poor and needy in our community.
- Continue to host prayer gatherings at the church and in our homes to seek the Lord. Thursday morning 8:30 -9:30 we will continue to have our weekly prayer meeting and we will continue to give attention to waiting on the Lord on Sunday mornings as well.
- Grow and multiply our home (life) group network by:
- Inviting people to come with you to your life group meeting
- Equip and commission new life groups and new life group leaders.
- Conduct Life group meetings that consist of the vital elements of love and discipleship.
- Continue to meet on Sunday morning to encounter God in worship and waiting upon Him. Then we will focus on the Word and then minister to one another using the gifts given to each one.
- Our Inner Healing Class will begin on the last week of March. Carol and I are going to be out of the country from March 11- 23rd. So we will begin the class once we return.
- Move the emphasis for gathering from our Sunday morning meeting to our home Life groups.
Since we have discerned that God has called us to function as a cell church we are planning to have ongoing life group leader equipping and support. We want to function in unity as life group leaders in a pastoral ways within the body of Christ to lead, feed and protect the members of each group. Each member of the group is called to engage in worship, prayer and ministering to one another as well as to those in the community. A cell group is powerful evangelistic tool when the group reaches out to those in need in the community. In order to be the church rather than a social gathering we will be equipping life group leaders with the capability to lead the following: Welcome (a time for deepening friendships) Worship (a time for encountering God in word or song) Word (a time of hearing, meditation and application of the Word of God) and Works (a time for ministry to one another and outreach in the community.)
God is enabling us to function as a expression of the body of Christ in Crozet. A community of believers who sacrificially love one another and reach out in supernatural love to those around us who need to see Jesus! The challenge before us is to step into what He is calling us to do with full confidence that He will enable us to do it!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
See you on Sunday,
Pastor Jon Quesenberry