Past, Present, Future

I’d like to begin this article by saying thanks to the 47 people who came out for the Congregational Discovery Workshop. Although our time was a bit hurried, I found it to be a rich time of discovering where we see God at work. I was especially blessed to hear your stories of the awesome works God has been doing in and through the ministry of the American Reformed Church over the past 58 years.
For those who weren’t able to make it, please allow me to give you a brief summary of the workshop. First, we spent time in our table groups sharing stories of where we saw God at work in the past. Reflecting on the timeline that was assembled by the Refocusing Initiative back in 2000, participants shared their stories of how ARC was started, how the church got its name, how you grew through adversity, and ways in which they experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
Then each of the seven groups were encouraged to list highlights of the past 11 years along with giving it a title and identifying what you learned about God, about yourselves, and what he wanted to do through your lives. A few examples of the titles defining 2000-2011 were “Expanding Our Reach”, “Trial by Fire”, and “Growing Pains”. Highlights included Pastor Dave’s ministry, the birth of New Life Celebration Church,” the beginning of small groups through the 40 Days of Purpose, changes in worship, increased desire to reach out into the community, and the new building addition.
Next we spent some time identifying the current state of the ministry. We reflected on our success in living out the ministry values established in 2000 and noted that many of the goals that were set have been met. I shared with the group that counting attendance on Sunday morning and the weekly offering totals were an inaccurate means of determining the health of our church and shared my fear that the Church in America has been losing its focus.
Using Jesus’ special message to the seven churches in Asia Minor as our “scorecard,” we read through the seven passages from Revelation 2-3 in order to make a comparison of which church ARC most closely resembles. The overwhelming consensus was that ARC most closely resembles the churches in Sardis and Laodicea. (I would encourage you to read what Jesus had to say about those two churches). We concluded the second portion of the workshop with prayer celebrating the “good deeds” we have been doing, but also asking God to grant us repentance for our “spiritual luke-warmness and lifelessness”.
For the remainder of our time, which I will be communicating in greater detail in the future, we focused on where we see God at work ahead of us. Having identified wealth, busyness, traditionalism, ignorance, and deception as obstacles to why we lack spiritual fervor, we expanded our “collection of intentional decisions” we must make in order to give us the best chance to be more fruitful in the kingdom of God. We experienced the power of the Holy Spirit speaking through many people as they shared what they believed are the next steps God is calling us to take. In summary, many of these insights had to do with how we develop disciples.
I am truly grateful for those who so eagerly engaged the process. Although, I will say I was a bit surprised that other than a couple of individuals, there were no participants between the ages of 16-40. I’m not quite sure how to interpret your absence. Regardless, like Paul, “Being confident of this, that he who began the good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!”
Soli Deo gloria, Mike

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