Thursday, 16 July 2020 12:15
What It’s Supposed To BeWritten by Jeron Parkins
There is a trend among larger churches deciding to not have public worship services until 2021. Instead of setting arbitrary reopening dates that are likely to get changed because of fluctuating virus rates or political decisions, they are calling their members to meet together in homes and in more intimate settings for worship, Bible study, prayer and outreach. Like so many other institutions and traditions that seemed unchangeable, even megachurches which have focused on attracting people to massive and excellent productions are being forced to change their practices. While lamenting Covid-19’s negative impact, it is a great time for us to ask what is the church supposed to be like, what is it supposed to look like? While gathering together with the saints for the preaching of the Word and the exalting of Christ through public expressions of faith will always have its place, we should recognize that coming together in a large group of people once a week isn’t the be all and end all of what it means to be the church. We should look again and appreciate what it means to have a community of people who know your name and are part of your life in a real way. Christians need to have authentic, intimate community with other believers. Yet this isn’t something we typically find or accomplish in large group settings. I can’t help but see balance in the early mega-church practices described in Acts 2 (read verses 42-47). They attended large gatherings at the temple and in the temple courts but then gathered in small groups in homes spread throughout the city. Different types of gatherings are helpful and positively impactful upon our faith. As the church spread outside of Jerusalem, believers everywhere continued to meet in large groups on the Lord’s day but they also lived life together during the week. I’ve noticed on Sunday mornings that new people (especially second service which most of our mature leaders don’t attend) aren’t usually approached and made to feel welcomed because the regular attenders are talking with their friends and family whom they haven’t seen during the week. I think many Christians are starved for fellowship during the week and they try to make Sunday mornings a time of fellowship, even though Sunday mornings are by nature more impersonal due to larger numbers. But new people come to church services with the expectation that the church will be “friendly” and “welcoming.” They often leave disappointed but their expectation was unrealistic because a worship service is to focus on the vertical relationship with God, not on the horizontal relationships among the believers. And what little time our folks have before and after services to mingle were focused on their friends, not on finding new relationships with newcomers. We’ve tried to address this through various official leaders who are to be focused on the newcomers, but even those in official positions tend to drift into investing their time with people they already know. Our Deacon Board is working on a plan to address this, which I’m excited about.
In my “ideal church,” what it’s supposed to look like is that everyone gathers for a local worship service once a week (it’s not possible of course in our economy for everyone to do so as some people have to work on the Lord’s Day). There is something powerful and impactful about the large group gathering even if you didn’t experience a spiritual “high” every week. In my ideal church practice, the saints should faithfully gather in a more intimate group during the week for one-another ministry, for prayer, for fellowship and for studies that seek to apply the word of God to life. Every visitor and new person should be directed to a home group or a community group or a Bible study where people can know their name and help them grow in Christ. These groups don’t gather to talk weather or politics but to intentionally pursue Christ and maturity in him. Again, in my ideal church, these groups aren’t merely meeting for 90 minutes and then separated for a week without talking. Rather, the members (helped along by a well-trained group leader who sees this ministry as very important) are reaching out to each other during the week, praying for each other, finding ways to eat together or recreate together, and looking for ways to enfold other friends or acquaintances into the group. Undoubtedly doing life together would be a big shift for people. It would require a lot of transparency and humility and flexibility. Doing church deeply would entail giving up certain things that our culture says is important or perhaps learning to doing activities together that we tend to do solo (doing life together could mean shared gardening plots, carpooling to the front range for appointments, watching the game in community or signing up kids on the same traveling sports teams or clubs). What’s the payoff? The bigger goal in all this is changed lives and God’s glory. Lives aren’t changed only by a preacher or a worship team from a distance, but more often up close and personal. Discipleship best happens in loving relationships where we are helped by others to love and follow Jesus Christ.
Are you in community? I urge you to pursue it. Lord willing we’ll be able to keep having worship services in person and they won’t be banned. Even if that comes, may all who call LWBF their church have a place in the body of Christ where they can love and be loved, serve and be served, disciple and be discipled. The church is a wonderful organism (though because it’s filled with imperfect people it won’t ever be perfect and not without problems). Jesus’ ideal however is that all the people he’s redeemed would experience it and participate in it, for to be saved is not only to be reconciled to God and forgiven but to be incorporated into his body, the church.
Here’s some of what’s happening at Living Water in the near future…
NEW SATURDAY SERVICE starts this Saturday
After consultation with and approval from the Elder Board, I’m happy to announce that we’re going to offer a third worship service on Saturday nights at 6:00 p.m. Since May we’ve really been missing a good section of our church on Sunday mornings who really want to be with the Lord and church in person, but because they are vulnerable to the virus can’t participate freely in a setting where lots of people aren’t wearing masks. I was silently hoping that by this time the number cases would have dropped to the point where it would be very little risk to all folks coming on Sunday mornings, but things aren’t moving in the right direction. So Saturday nights will be for our church family and others who have to wear a mask or feel that it’s essential to wear a mask. This “mask-only” service starts this Saturday, July 18. I’m excited to preach the Word and to reconnect with folks who I’ve only “seen” online since March when we stopped having regular services. We’re still praying about how to do things musically (as its summer and we don’t want to overload worship team members) but I’m confident that as time goes on that we’ll find our rhythm (pun intended).
SUNDAY SERVICES 9:00 & 10:45 a.m.
We’ll be returning to the Acts Sermon Series. Also Loren and Alaina Holland, our church planting missionaries serving in Rome, Italy will be sharing a bit of their lives and ministry. We are still waiting to restart nursery and children’s ministry till the time seems right. Participating in a worship service is potentially risky with Covid-19 still present in our community. We want to encourage you to wear a mask (we’ll have some on hand if you forget yours), and ask that you refrain from physical contact and keep some distance from others, but we understand some will choose not to be masked and that some will have a hard time not hugging or shaking hands! So be wise and do what seems best in your circumstances or health situation. If you are sick please stay home and join us via the live stream of the service.
YOUTH GROUP GARAGE SALE July 24 and 25
The Annual Youth Group Summer Garage Sale is still on! It is taking place July 24-25th. The location has changed due to our construction project. It is now taking place at the Aspen Storage Facility (South of Walmart). If you want to donate items and drop them off, please Cliff and Cari Kincannon (505-350-8748).
VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL COMING JULY 27 - 31
GLOBAL LEADERSHP SUMMIT AUGUST 6-7
The Global Leadership Summit is not a worship event nor is it a church meeting or a normal church conference. Why then do we host it? We host the GLS at Living Water to bless our community. Local businesses and organizations want to sharpen the leadership skills of their people but struggle with the cost of sending employees or volunteers to big-city conferences. Hosting the GLS is a way for us to open our facility and meet felt needs in our community; it’s an attempt at loving our neighbors in a positive and uplifting way that they will appreciate. Personally, the last few years I’ve been inspired and encouraged in my leadership through attending the Summit. I’d encourage you to join me. The Summit takes place Thursday, August 6th and Friday, August 7th. Registration is $99 (before July 21) at https://globalleadership.org/global-leadership-summit/ When you register use the priority code INSPIRE2020 to get the discount. If you want to take a closer look check out https://globalleadership.org/global-leadership-summit/
Our youth group had a major adjustment this summer as they couldn’t go to Gallup, NM for their annual mission trip. In lieu of that they have been serving various people around the community this week through yard work, painting projects and washing windows. They are also spending a lot of time in devotions and lessons and are just trying to grow closer as a group. It’s a tough time to be a teenager! I’m so grateful that there is a community for them at Living Water! Cliff and Cari would like to invite all incoming 6th graders to start attending youth group August 5th (Wednesday nights at 6:30) and then we will do a fall kickoff end of August beginning of September.
NEW DEACON CHAIRMAN
SAFETY TEAM RECRUITMENT
For several years now we’ve had a Safety Team at Living Water. We’re currently seeking new members. While calling us to trust in God for our security and welfare, the Bible shares several instances where the people of God acted wisely by taking precautions in a fallen world. For instance, In 1st Chronicles, chapter 9, the Bible records the responsibilities of the gatekeepers of the house of God. They were trusted officials and guarded the rooms, treasures and the gates. The purpose of the LWBF Safety Team ministry is to allow our church family the freedom and safety to focus on learning about God, experiencing God, and worshipping God. The Safety Team will provide trained assistance to keep our church family safe in the event of medical emergencies, fire emergencies, necessary evacuations or lock-downs, intruders, or other disturbances. If this is something that you are interested in, please contact Randy Atkinson at 588-2809.
Summer 2021 Guatemala trip. We are scheduled for June 26-July 3, 2021. Cost is approximately $1,300.
Thanks for reading!
May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you,