This is a time of transitions. In late spring of every year, as a church we celebrate two significant life milestones: graduation and Baby Dedication. It is like seeing the bookends on of the shelves of our life… our childhood. Our earliest development.
Baby Dedication is coming up on June 7th. And on that day we will recognize the babies that were born in our midst this past year. Sometimes if is just a few. Other years, we have seen as many as 20 children dedicated on that day. We stand our young families on the stage, pray over them and challenge them to raise their kids with godly values. We pray and place our children back into the hands of God – recognizing that they are ours for a time, but His forever.
I don’t know of any moment of my life that was a bigger transition than having children. The birth of our girls changed our lives forever. It changes the way you think. From late night movies to late night feedings… back packs gave way to diaper bags… sanity gives way to (you know)… life changes. It gives you a whole new world to worry over. It increases your prayer life, and decreases your sleep life.
And then just this past week, we watched our graduates stand on the same stage. Once again, we prayed over their lives in this moment. 18 years ago, we prayed for their faith and growth. On this day, we recognized their achievement and prayed for God to go with them wherever they go. Then we prayed for their development, now we pray for their life mission.
As a church, we have spent the last 3 years doing some internal development. We have developed disciples, baptized people, raised our level of giving and expanded our facility. Our challenge for the past 3 years has really been about being ready. And we have seen God’s blessing in the midst of it:
· 24,000 ft2 of new ministry space
· $950,000+ raised for expansion
· Over 94 baptized in the past 3 years.
· 10 new LIFE groups have started (Almost 200 adults are growing in LIFE Groups now)
· Between 85 and 100 children gather here each Sunday
· 40 to 50 teens gather for growth on Sunday nights
We have watched and celebrated these transitions. And now, I believe God is beginning to put in front of us some new challenges. We are once again on the stage, but at a different transition point. I shared this a few weeks ago in a message, but the two most obvious ones right now are:
1. Providing the funding to pay for the ministry space we have built.
2. Filling the space we have built.
This summer is an incredible time for us to take a breath and grow in our relationship with God. Summer is a great time to grow in relationship with each other. Open houses, barbeques and picnics are great relational times for us. The longer days allow us more time for reflection, and enjoying what God has given us.
As we begin to plan and pray about late summer and into the fall, this thought keeps coursing through my mind. We have been prepared to go on a mission. Just as we have watched our children grow, develop and led out, so we too have been prepared to be sent out... to fulfill God’s mission for this place.
I would like to challenge each of us to take up this 3 part prayer for summer as we prepare for God’s mission this fall:
· Invite. Lord, help us to be an invitational church... asking people to come search for You alongside of us.
· Include. Lord, help us to befriend and include those who come. People matter, more than programs or plans.
· Involve. Lord, give me a part in all of this. Help me to find a way to serve and give to the mission of my church.
Transitions -- they are a regular part of life, and regular part of church life. And God is here to lead us through again…