Post-Easter Memo

10604546_10153291616384260_6410506234047629973_o Dear Five Oakers,

What a wonderful Easter weekend starting, at least for some of us, with the Lent service at 6:30am on Thursday, then continuing with the Good Friday service (incredible), the sunrise service in the commons and then our four Easter services (two of them with an overflow crowd).

Our worship teams went above and beyond, as did our volunteers in the whole church.

And the Easter experience in the gym was fantastic!

I also felt like we reached another milestone in the paradigm shift we began about five years ago. A big part of the milestone had to do with the different types of services and experiences we offered to deepen the experience of Easter, all of them bathed in Scripture and prayer, highly participatory, simple and creative. But part of it also had to do with what we did in our regular services.

About two or three years ago we decided to stop doing major productions on Easter and Christmas, choosing to do what we always do and inviting people to come back for more. Our church is about engagement, participation and bringing the story of God to life, so a big production, lots of spectators and inspiration are not enough. I think our service inspired, but it did so primarily with the truth of Easter, participatory worship and with biblical teaching and depth brought to life.

We are simply not interested in getting "decisions" but focused on making disciples (including brand new ones). So I ended my sermon this year with a bit of a different twist. It's what I said after the prayer and just before response time.

Before we respond in worship, I want to tell you why we exist as a church community. We are broken, messed up people like Mary Magdalene. We were clueless until we got the memo and responded by faith. And we’ve taken seriously what Jesus says to all his followers. He commissions us to make sure everyone gets the memo. But we’re not interested in simply getting the word out; we’re interested in helping others become followers of Jesus. So if today you put your faith in Christ for the first time, praying that prayer with me, come back and learn more. Join us in our journey.

Nothing groundbreaking, right? Nope. But when you come to the end of the sermon, you have people's attention for just a few more moments. You can't say everything you'd like to say, especially to people who are considering receiving Christ or have prayed a prayer to receive Christ. So, in past years, I focused on getting those decisions recorded. And there's nothing wrong with that. But this year I focused the journey of discipleship. It simply felt right for where we are as a church.

Dan texted me after the first service: "Been waiting to hear that, and I didn't even know it. Wow." Me too. 

Blessings, Pastor Henry


Tuesday Memo

Hi Five Oakers, What a great weekend! I don't know how the "Friday Fun Night" Invite team pulled off food and games for over 450 people who came to the Game Cafe (and pulled it off so well), when we were not expecting a crowd that size, but they did a fantastic job.


Check out some more photos at the end of this post.

The baptisms were also a highlight of the weekend. We did it differently than ever before, and while we have about a half dozen tweaks we want to make for the next time around, we loved the congregational participation, the faith stories and the way our church celebrated. One of my highlights came from Saturday night when a grandfather, baptizing his two grandsons, said, "As your grandfather and your brother in Christ, I baptize you...." It was really hard to join him in the words that followed.

And here are most of the comments and questions from the weekend Communication Cards:

// Thanks for a very powerful and moving service!

// Henry, I hope you back up your computer to a safe location, since your life is on it! Great worship, great message! [Yes, I do backups regularly but I do have to think about the location of the backups. Thanks.]

// Thank you for the worship set and for your musical, spiritual leadership in our church. Terrific conclusion to a terrific series, ”Rule of Life: God in My Everything” – a great worship sermon. Beautiful closing prayer Henry. Fantastic baptism!

// Pastor Henry, thank you for this series. Very impactful, practical and key for our daily life. Best series and study we have done. [I hope some more small groups will also do the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality course you all did in the near future.]

// Brooke, you rock my world with your voice. Thank you for touching my heart with the words you just sang and Cheryl what a powerful testimony you shared.

// Praise God for all He’s given to this church!

// Love all the painted names up front! It puts all the names right in front of us to remind us of the depths and breadth of who God is.

// Signs look awesome!

// Missing the Palms today. The importance of this day and the season always hits home with tangible take away like palms.

// Rejoicing with our worship team for our Lord. Thank you for giving your talents to Honor God!

// Wow! We leave for a three week vacation and return to find out that Pastor Henry is a “graybeard”! [That's a term?]

// Such a great sermon, one we all can relate to so well. Thank you for all of the down-to-earth ideas of honoring God while we work. I so appreciate how real your sermons are. P.S. when we miss, I love to listen to the podcast while I walk our dog. So great to stay “caught up!” [Music to my ears. When I preach, I'm discipling the congregation. Series sermons do build on each other to some degree. So I love to hear that!]

11103227_10206194825570662_98900562595115658_o 11062702_10206194825770667_3757515454845855490_o11053624_10206194832570837_5047824642973074287_o 10987443_10206194829290755_7184660934630933412_o