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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

June 2009

“Who Helped You?”

     Who helped you to grow closer in your relationship with God?  I would imagine there have been a multitude of people that have inspired you and encouraged you to know God in both obvious and subtle ways.  A few weeks ago, when the youth led worship and encouraged us to think about those people, many came to my mind and I wondered if they would be surprised that I had thought of them.  Would the people on your list be surprised that they had helped you?  Would you be surprised to find your name on someone’s list?  During Lent, when some in the congregation explored the book Unbinding your Heart by Martha Grace Reese, I was surprised to discover that the people who helped in our faith journey could be called evangelists.  In the book, Reese redefines evangelism as, “anything you do to help another person move closer to a relationship with God, or into Christian community (p. 13).”

When you think about it that way, evangelism takes place not only outside the church, but inside as well, when we help one another along the way to know God better.  And we are intentionally practicing evangelism when we teach our children and youth.  This is a point that is made by Reese as well, as she emphasizes that the purpose of Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, and youth gatherings are all to help children and youth move closer to a relationship with God.  I don’t know why we don’t typically think about these programs that way.  Instead we think only about those outside the church.  We also think about our education programs as opportunities to learn information rather than seeing their purpose and content as opportunities for developing a relationship with God.   As we begin to plan for our summer programming and as we look to the fall, I wonder what would happen if we focused intently on this idea of helping the children and youth to grow in relationship with God and the church.

With Vacation Bible School on the horizon, I hope you will join me in struggling with the question of how we can better help the children and youth to grow closer to God this summer.  Perhaps God is calling you to be a part of this effort by volunteering to help.  Perhaps the experiences of God in your life could help you connect to a child and inspire them to want to know God better.   Or maybe you could join us in intentionally praying for the programs that will be offered and the children that will be experiencing them, especially offering prayers that they will grow closer to God because of what we are doing on God’s behalf.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if years from now the children were asked, “Who helped you to grow in your relationship with God?” and our names and our church’s name were foremost in their minds?  Let this be our focus and our prayer as we go forward in the months ahead. 

Faithfully,

Rev. Laurie