Hi Five Oakers,
I have a few things I want to tell you about.
#1 - I'm on a four-week sabbatical, so you'll be treated to four "guest" bloggers starting next week. This is the third or fourth one-month sabbatical I've been able to take in the last fifteen years, and I'm so thankful to the Board and our church for this. On my last sabbatical, two years ago, I started working on the Story of God 40-Day Bible reading guide!
#2 - In addition to some RR&R (i.e., rest, relaxation and reflection), I'll be working on our Story of God small group experience. We're adding a few new elements in the fall. We want to spend more time on "your part in the story," so we're covering the Salvation scene in one week (instead of two) and adding a extra week overall. That means we'll have three weeks to cover the implications of living in the Spirit scene of the story (the scene we're in now, waiting for the New Creation). The three weeks will focus on stories in the New Testament that address how to develop as disciples who are growing spiritually and making other disciples. The Story of God is going to play a much larger role in our discipleship process. I'll tell you more about it later this summer.
#3 - You can review last weekend's service here--all the prayers, readings, songs and a video highlight from the message.
#4 - Here are your comments (and mine) from the service last weekend:
- Go Justin! Worship was great! [We are so blessed by Justin and the worship team every week!]
- Every service has me praising God for bringing me here.
- More new contemporary music would be great!
- Good ice breaker question! I like how Henry wove seamlessly between the message, graduation parties, reaching out to new comers and back to the message. Great insights from this passage. Thanks for closing worship set! [Lots of positive comments this week about the ice breaker experiment. I think it went really well. I'm so thankful for getting this idea from one of our members.]
- Be Thou Exalted – great worship.
- I am pre-occupied; I am very anxious to participate in a women’s Bible study and other groups at church, but I work FT, am a single mom and am in Grad school. I hope to participate next spring/summer. [Wow! You are in a very busy season of life and I don't know how you're doing it. The cool thing is that you can do all that WITH God and FOR God. Every moment, no matter how busy, can be dedicated to him. Be sure to find some way to connect face-to-face with other believers even if you can't make a formal group. You need the encouragement and prayer. You can do it over coffee or the phone. And integrate Bible reflection and prayer into your daily routine maybe on the way to work using a recorded Bible on CD or through the YouVersion app, if you have a smart phone. It's not ideal to do it this way, but we don't live in an ideal world either. God bless you!]
- Somehow it would be good to have some way of exchanging info with people at greeting time. like a “church business card”. I just used one of my cards to invite the couple next to me to our small group. Just a thought/idea. [I like this idea. Others may want to follow your example.]
- Is 5 p.m. a permanent change or just for the summer (Sat. p.m.). [We're thinking it's just for the summer.]
- Thank you for continuing to make church more than just a building… more like a family as it should! I love my church!
- I like the experiments and willingness to change things. Love the goal to expand and reach out to visitors. Be aware that it can also turn off some though. [Yep. We're taking a calculated risk based on who we're trying to reach and what our strengths are. We have a fairly intimate setting for worship that makes it hard for people to "hide" anyway. Our "worship style" is focused on people who are serious about wanting to connect with God, whether they are exploring Christianity or going quite deep in their faith. And the days when most "seekers" preferred anonymity are over, according to many "experts." The person who wants to get in and out fast with very little contact isn't likely to like Five Oaks anyway. So we're trying to play to our strengths!]
- Great message today Henry – great reminders to the ????. I tend to be of the preoccupied – thank you, as always, for challenging me! it was just what I needed to hear! [Several people commented this week about how the message challenged or impacted them. Thank you for letting us know. This is what we want more than anything. This is what it's all about. The REVEAL research on spiritual growth shows that people are asking to be challenged more in their churches. I love that. I won't hold back. The Spirit challenges me each week too as I prepare to preach while I reflect on the passage and study it. I'm happy to pass on that challenge.]
- We love the dinner/fellowship after the service. [We keep getting a great crowd. It's fun.]
- I appreciate Pastor Henry’s messages. God is really using him – to preach to me. The worship time is so good. I would ask there would be music for the first 5-10 minutes. I want to meditate and pray to God. Let God speak to me with lyrics. Them hear and join in singing. I so love these services. Thank you! God bless all involved. [Not sure what you mean. You might want to email me your suggestion.]
- Pastor Henry – I am so blessed to have God speak so loudly to my heart and mind thru you and how you deliver His message! Thank you!
- I loved the sermon!
- The “party” sounds awesome!
- Love the new approach to “greeting a person near you”. I actually met someone, learned his name, and his love of potato salad. Much more intimate than other approach. A couple of months and I will met row three and five. [Great goal!!! Someone told me that they met a family that has been attending since December and ended up going out to eat together after the service on Sunday. How cool is that?]
- My 4th and 2nd grader did the +/- station with me today. It was very eye opening and a great teaching moment. Five Oaks does a great job of providing me these opportunities! [I love that your kids participated like this. Not quite sure why, but I noticed how many families were worshipping together this week. I'm sure that's always the case, but it really stood out to me this week.]
- Huge thumbs up on the ice breaker question! Long overdue in a church of this size – and choosing a light (“safe”) topic will help folks buy in. Because of our size, intentional practices like this one are the best way to build – or at least lay the foundation – for community. We need excuses to ask each other our names. Thank you.
- Love hearing voice of female vocalist – and her presence – pure voice. [Agreed! One of two high school seniors in the band!]
- Is there some way/place you can post the songs so we can listen again via You Tube or buy it on I-Tunes? Loved the more current songs during worship this morning. Liked the “ice breaker” activity too. [We list all the songs, including a bit of lyrics, at the 5oaks.info site. You can then go to Youtube or iTunes to check it out. I'm not sure we can do the links each week (just because of time constraints on staff), but if we can, I'm sure we'll take up your excellent suggestion.]
- Your Wifi wasn’t working today. [I'm not sure what the problem is lately. I just sent a text to two folks who might be able to answer this question.]
- Food for thought: It would mean so much to your celiac congregants to be able to have something to eat at the dinnertime. (I can purchase a meal for my son who will want to eat, but I will not be able to eat with him even though I’m hungry.) (I would be violently ill if I ate gluten.) (And of course the sermon is about a banquet!) It’s my H.A.L.T. talking… (hungry-angry-lonely-tired). [Yeah, that's kind of a cruel thing to do to you this week. :-) Unfortunately, we won't be able to provide gluten free meals but I really wish we could.]
#5 - The other experiment this week was to ask for questions that arise during the message. I received two this week and I'll respond to them in a separate post tomorrow.
#6 - Sorry to gross some of you out the second service on Sunday. I went back to get the gum off the bottom of the table after about four of you reminded me at the First Impressions Appreciation Luncheon. It was gone. Found it on the ground under the table. Sorry, but I just can't swallow it and I can't speak with it in my mouth and I needed it for talking to people between services. What to do next time???
#7 - By the way, I want to say thank you for your obedience to God shown in your giving to Five Oaks. We are having a great year financially. Without our Hudson campus, we knew our attendance would be down by at least 10% this year, so we smaller budget for this year than we had last year. But our overall attendance has been down 14%, yet our giving is OVER last years giving! Thank you.
#8 - Speaking of our attendance: We are steadily pursuing what we call our "Transformation Agenda," so our focus has been on strengthening our foundations so that we are much, much better at growing disciples, even as we continue to reach people for Christ. Our focus right now is not at all on numerical growth. But numbers represent people, so when we are ready, we will be pursuing some more aggressive initiatives to equip you to reach your friends, neighbors and family and invite them into a community of believers that are very serious about growing deeper love for God and for people. In the long run, though, people invite people to church if they're excited about their church. I see people inviting and I can feel your excitement.
#9 - One of my favorite all-time preachers is John Ortberg and he will be speaking this week via video at Five Oaks. It's a talk he gave a few years ago at the Summit. By the way, he'll be speaking again at the Summit this year. For the other three weeks you can expect to see Tim Bubar, Tim Keller via video and Vince Miller! All but Ortberg will be in our Luke series.
I will be praying through the prayer requests from the Communication Cards while on sabbatical. Please let me know how I can pray for you. Thank you for your prayers. I love you, and I will truly miss worshipping at Five Oaks over the next four weekends. I love our church!
Blessings to you, Pastor Henry