The Weekends...and so much more

I have ELEVEN things I want to share with you today...

#1 - We had a first this last weekend. The first response song was a Justin Schaap original! It's the first time he's sung one of his songs in our worship services. I'm looking forward to more.

#2 - My message on Luke 10:38-42 (Mary and Martha) really hit home with a lot of people. Strong response. I think partly because it hit me so strongly in preparing it. I never saw the parallels with other passages where Jesus talks about worry and anxiety, but here its related to ministry worry ("she was distracted with much serving"). It have to say that it was therapeutic talking about my uncle.

  • "Henry, thank you for your message and honesty about worrying. (I bet my worrying could rival yours, plus my out of control imagination, usually adds to it all.)"
  • (Prayer request on the Com Cards) "Being less like a Martha, just like a Mary. Being less like an agnostic Fernando, more like an obedient Fernando."
  • (From a staff member email) "I have heard more 'buzz' about this sermon than any other sermon at Five Oaks. I have talked to several people who were personally impacted by your sermon; including two attendees who are going through some financial struggles..." (Then he added) "So….how are you going to top that one?" (Exactly. Now I'm worrying again!)

#3 - How about the simplicity of the weekend? No staging, just Justin and his guitar. Simply worshipful!

  • "I really liked the acoustic set today. Gave praise time a different feel. I also like the simplicity of communion, just it alone. Time to reflect. Thank you."
  • "Really like the change this week. It’s great how you guys continue to balance tradition/repetition/familiarity with not allowing things to get stale/boring/predictable."
  • "Amazing worship. Loved the single guitar and Justin – so touching."
  • "Loved the Justin unplugged session. Very intimate feel to the service."

#4 - One of our members told me that when he saw the staging he wondered, 'Did Henry go for that?' Oh, he knows me too well. Christmas staging is now up for the first week of Advent. Something else will be missing for this series. Dan Lucas is the culprit when things go missing. He's constantly thinking up ways to shake things up.

#5 - Kids Hope volunteers keep streaming in. If you're interested, let us know. Training takes place on Saturday, December 10, 9 a.m. I'll be there for training!

#6 - Our own Kent O'Grady (Director of Small Groups; formerly our security team director) in the most recent online issue of our denominational magazine, EFCA Today (an article on safety in churches):

“The key to emergency planning,” says Kent O’Grady, director of safety and security for Five Oaks Church (EFCA) in Woodbury, Minn., “is to plan for events that are likely to occur but have marginal impact (like slips and falls, bloody noses, etc.) and for things that are far less likely but would have major or catastrophic impact (tornadoes, shootings, etc.). Churches don’t need to hire a SWAT team or install thousands of dollars of security equipment to make an impact on their risk. They can start by identifying existing resources in the church (police officers, firefighters and EMS personnel) and leveraging their expertise."

I'll just add how thankful I am for our Safety and Security Team at church. They do a great job!

#7 - Got this exciting email from a Five Oaker this week:

Last night our son told us that he crossed the line of faith in his Sunday school class!  [My husband] and I were overcome with excitement for him!  He was thrilled to get his new Bible from Jeni Carlson and Five Oaks and even took it out to dinner with us to "start at the beginning with reading it all the way through"!  It's a great Bible that he's so proud of, but I'm wondering which kind of study Bible that I could get him to go along with it.... He was so shocked and excited to find out that this Saturday at church he gets to have his "First Communion", now that he's made his decision.  We've decided to invite the grandparents to come along because they have been asking us for years, "When is his First Communion going to be?  Doesn't he go to classes about this like we do at [our] church? Shouldn't he have done that by now?  How does 'your church' handle this?"

#8 - We kick off the new "Vintage Christmas" series this weekend. We're going to the early chapters of Luke for this series. This week's message is on "The Angels."

#9 - Just when I was resigning myself to missing the boys (and Leah) for holidays, they're all coming! My cousin Henry and his family will also be with us (minus daughter Mia). This is going to spoil us.

#10 - Ever notice how much "Pumped up Kicks" steals from the theme song for Petticoat Junction? Looked it up in Google and sure enough, others have noticed. (Okay, that was random, but it's playing right now in the coffee shop.)

#11 - Thanks for the great turnout to the Congregational Meeting. Wish I'd shared some behind-the-scenes stuff instead of what I did end up sharing. Made a note for next year. Live and learn.

Love you all. Have a blessed Thanksgiving! Henry


The Weekends...and Other Great Stuff

- What's Starbuck's comeback and watching your flat screen without an HD package got to do with your mission in life? Check out last weekend's message on Luke 9:57-10:24 if you missed it. It was about how we can lose our missional authority.

- Jim continues his antics in our message bumper as the story continues. A little birdie told me that no one was laughing louder than John Rudin who plays Jim.

- I paraphrased Larry Osborne: “Compassionate action without Jesus has no eternal value; Jesus without compassionate action has no credibility.”

- I was also struck that the first instruction to the 72 disciples Jesus sends out is to pray (first things first)...and specifically for more harvesters (people are ready and not enough are proclaiming the gospel).

- I love that our worship team had two high schoolers in it this week. It's a regular thing now and they're great! Great work Justin and Tim!

- How about "The Retreat" ministry!!! One person in my Story of God group is so excited to help. I heard about others too. Thanks to Elaine Wilde and Abby Carlson for their vision and service!

- Met a young lady after a service that brought a friend. She's been on a journey to faith in Christ. She's from another religion and is very concerned about her parents finding out. When she shared her journey at Fusion, the day before crossing the line of faith, one of the high schoolers shouted: "I lit a candle for you!" Putting first things first!

- Some comments we got on the worship: "Love, love, love 'It is Well'! Thank you." And “'It is Well with My Soul'! let’s do again and again." And "Worship was so worship 'full' today. My soul is filled with Jesus from listening and singing. Thanks worship team!"

- I met a lady before a service who was brought to church by her son who attends Fusion. She's been coming a couple of weeks. The Bible is new to her and she's loving hearing the Story. She said, "We'll have a bunch more family members here next week."

- Jeni Carlson, Traci Schroeder and Jerry Meras headed to a bilingual Free Church in the city and we're donating a lot of the Hudson children's equipment for their ministry. Jeni reports: "Really cool people. The best part was when Jerry busted out in Spanish with Pastor Vido from Nicaragua.  We ended our time in prayer and it's so beautiful to hear Spanish prayers and English prayers being offered up."

- Another church plant just north of Hudson is asking about some of our stuff. A few Hudson Five Oakers are attending there! We'll see what we can do.

- Plans for One Starry Night are developing: It's a family Christmas experience where all are invited to come to Five Oaks on Sunday night, December 11 from 6 - 8 p.m. to enjoy 1st century Bethlehem as they journey through venues of the Census taker's office, the cafe and marketplace, with live music, Star Gazer's Hill, and the Stable. 

- Special features for One Starry night: live animals, the Fusion Band, 1st Century Character Actors, and the launch of the Christmas Family Bible reading challenge.

-Completed our Story of God group on Sunday. Great group once again. One participant shared how she can't stop talking about what she's learning with her unchurched friends. Another wrote to thank us and said, "It was a wonderful study that has truly transformed the way we view the Bible."

- This weekend is about Impact ministries of compassion as we look at the parable of the Good Samaritan. Some interesting twists in the story that you might have missed.

- I'll be sharing about the results of the 3x5 cards I collect two weekends ago. You'll be encouraged by what you hear!!! I hope you will have one of those "I love my church" moments. I certainly did reading through the cards.

- We'll be introducing the new Kids Hope USA ministry. This is going to be a big part of our future as a church.