A Paradoxical Thing.

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A Paradoxical Thing.

As we draw near to Thanksgiving, I cannot help but be aware of all that I have.  I have a family I love, a warm home, food on my table and a wonderful church community.  And above all else, I have the gift of Jesus Christ in my life.  I am truly grateful for every gift that God has poured into my life, but most of all for the gift of Jesus.

When I consider the hope, strength, joy, forgiveness and purpose that Jesus has brought into my life, I can’t help but want to share it.   As Christ followers, we have received the most precious of gifts.  The most wonderful thing about the gift of Christ is that we can share it with others over and over again and our supply is never diminished.  No matter how much we give Jesus away, we still have him in full measure in our own lives. 

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In fact, my experience has been that the more we share Jesus, the more we experience the hope, joy and love of God in our own lives.   What a paradoxical thing.  The more we give our faith away, the more we have.  The more we share the love of Jesus, the more deeply we experience his love in our own lives. 

In light of that truth, it we would seem clear that the best thing we can do with this gift is to give it away. We are coming into the Christmas season very soon.  This is a time of year when people who do not yet have a church home, or who do not yet have a relationship with Jesus, are most likely to be open to an invitation.  I would ask you to begin thinking and praying about who you can invite to join us this Christmas season. Every time we extend an invitation, we are offering the gift of Jesus. 

We are now accepting registrations for our Texas Mission Trip in February

We are now accepting registrations for our Texas Mission Trip in February

Speaking of invitations, I want to invite you all to join us tomorrow evening at our Sandown campus for the Texas Mission fund raising dinner.  It promises to be a great time of food and fellowship and a wonderful opportunity to support this important mission work.  Dinner is Saturday from 5 to 7 p.m.

I also want to remind you that we are doing our first ever Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving day between 11:30 and 1:00 p.m.  Because this is our first year doing it, we really need to seize every opportunity to invite guests to join us.  Help us share the invitation by personally inviting people you think might be blessed to attend.  I would ask you also to share it on your social media in any way you can.  We are encouraging people to preregister to assist with planning.  Please sign up for the dinner at www.thanksgiving-dinner.org.  If you would like to help, please go to www.signupgenius.com and search on care@stmattumc.org

I look forward to having us all together in worship this weekend as we continue our “Deeper” series.  This has been an awesome series and I know you will not want to miss this Sunday.

 

God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

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Gratitude

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Gratitude

This weekend we observe Veterans Day.  It is an opportunity to express our gratitude to those who have served our nation to protect and preserve our freedom.  Tomorrow, Saturday, there will be veterans observances in a number of communities.  I would encourage us to take an hour and participate in one of these.  If you live in Plaistow, or if your community does not have it’s own observance, I would invite you to join us at the Plaistow Town Hall at 9:30 AM.  This year, they will be honoring 4 Purple Heart recipients, including our own Dave Peabody.    

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On Sunday, at all locations, we will take time in our services to honor our veterans.  This is a GREAT opportunity for outreach.  If you know someone who has served in the military, please extend an invitation to them to join us Sunday morning at any of our locations.  This is also a great opportunity to invite families who have a husband or wife away on active duty.  But don’t just invite them, invite them to attend WITH you.  Maybe plan to have breakfast or lunch together.  Everyone needs Jesus, and there is no more effective first step than a personal invitation.

I want to let you know about a couple of other great opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks.  Next Saturday, Nov. 18 we will be having a special fund raising dinner for our Texas Mission Trip.  As you probably know, the Houston Texas area experienced record flooding at the end of August.  Thousands of homes were destroyed.  We will be sending a mission team to that area in February to assist in the rebuilding effort.  This dinner will help with material costs for the reconstruction.  I hope you will be able to join us at our Sandown campus between 5-7 p.m.

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Another new outreach that I am very excited about is our Thanksgiving Dinner.  For the first time ever, as an extension of our Care Ministry and the "For Our Community" initiative we will offer a free full Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving day from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m.  Who might attend a community Thanksgiving Dinner?  

·         Those who are struggling financially.

·         Those who have no family near by.

·         The homeless.

·         Singles or couples who don’t want to fix a full meal for one or two people.

·         The Elderly.

·         People who just love being in community with their friends and neighbors.

If you would like to attend the dinner, it would be great if you could register at www.thanksgiving-dinner.org to give us a rough idea of the amount of food we need to prepare.  If you would like to help with the meal in any way, you can sign up at this link.

From Veterans Day to Thanksgiving, this is a great time of year to express gratitude to God and to others for all that we have been blessed to receive.  I look forward to having you join us this Sunday as we express gratitude to our veterans and as we continue this great series “Deeper.”

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Deep and Wide

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Deep and Wide

I am a little later than usual in putting out my blog because for the past few days I have been away at a pastor’s conference.  The title of the event was “Deep and Wide.”  I thought the timing of the event was interesting in light of the teaching series we have just begun entitled “Deeper.”  The underlying premise of the conference dovetailed quite well with the overarching theme of this series.  As believers we are called to be both deep and wide.  We are wide in the sense that we want to share the love of Jesus broadly, reaching as many people as we can with the good news of his love.  And we are deep in that we are called to grow continuously deeper in faith and in the likeness of Jesus.

Some of the hundreds of children that came through Sandown's Trunk or Treat

Some of the hundreds of children that came through Sandown's Trunk or Treat

In order to truly live out the Christian life, we have to keep these two values in constant balance.  If we only focus on going deeper, we may feel as though we have a stronger individual faith but we have done nothing to advance the mission of Christ, the salvation of the world.  On the other hand, if we only go wide, sharing the good news of Jesus with many, but never maturing, we will remain spiritual infants all of our lives.  If we do not grow and mature in our faith, our lives will resemble the parable of the house built upon the sand.  When the storms of life come, our foundation is easily washed away and our faith collapses. 

Being deep AND wide is important for us as individuals and as a church.  Right now we are in the midst of a great teaching series that is helping (and challenging) us to grow deeper in our faith.  But at the same time, we have opportunities all around us to go wide.  Over the past week or so we organized three Trunk or Treat.  These were great opportunities for broad outreach as hundreds of children and families visited our various locations.  A week from Sunday we will observe our Veterans service.  This is another great opportunity to go wide as we invite veterans that we may know to join us for that special service.

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I’m very excited about this teaching series that we are in.  Each week we are increasing our understanding of the many pathways by which we grow deeper in our faith.  I’m equally excited about the outreach and invitational opportunities that are coming up.  My prayer is that we will seize every opportunity to grow both deep and wide.  I look forward to having you join us this Sunday as we experience and celebrate the love, hope and joy of Jesus! 

God Bless,

 Pastor Steve

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Big Things

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Big Things

It’s been almost a week since the Rock Run Raiser and I’m still blown away by what a great event it was.  If you weren’t able to attend, let me tell you about it.  It was a picture perfect day.  We had just under 170 participants register (which is amazing for a first year event like this).  The whole event was extremely well organized.  And having been one of the runners, I will tell you that it was both challenging and fun!  It was a “win” for Rock Church at many levels:

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1)      There was a great mix of church and unchurched people.  Those who participate from outside the church (which was the majority) couldn’t say enough good things about the quality of the event and the great people who were working it. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with not-yet-churched people in a very positive way.

2)      We had volunteers from all 4 campuses!   This was truly a total ministry event.  We had over 50 volunteers working the event that day, and many more who were a part of the preparation and organization in advance of the race.  Something that was really amazing was to watch the breakdown.  The team had the entire course, welcome area, dining tent and outdoor kitchen broken down and cleaned up by early afternoon.  It was incredible how people pitched in.

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3)      We raised thousands of dollars to support mission within, and beyond, our church.  Generally, the first year of an event like this, you would be lucky to break even because of all the start up costs.  However, we had so many generous people donate items, materials, food and more that we were able to come out ahead on the very first year.

This really was an amazing outreach opportunity and I want to take a moment to thank Heidi Mongeau, who was the visionary behind it all and the incredible team of people who came along side her to make this very large and complicated event possible. In fact, they made it more than possible, they made it excellent!

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Now here is what I can’t stop thinking about.  Last year, when the idea began to emerge, I never would have dreamed that our church could pull of such a massive undertaking with such a level of quality, excellence and effectiveness.  It is truly amazing to me what God can accomplish in, and through, Rock Church when we all work together with a shared vision and a common purpose!   When we pool the gifts that God has given, operating in the power of the Holy Spirit, I’m convinced there is nothing we can’t do for the kingdom of God!

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I look forward to having us all together in worship this weekend as we continue our new series “Deeper.”  This is an incredibly important and timely series for our church.  You won’t want to miss a single week. 

Don’t forget that tomorrow (Saturday Oct 28th) is Trunk or Treat at our Plaistow campus, and then again on Tuesday Oct 31st in Sandown.  Invite your friends and neighbors.  Like the Run Raiser, these are also great opportunities for us to connect to the community.

God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

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Deeper

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Deeper

This weekend we begin a series entitled “Deeper.”   When it comes to the work of our church, there is an important balance that we continuously strive to maintain.  It is captured in the heart of our mission statement “To Reach and Disciple People for Christ.”  On the one hand, we are fully committed to evangelism, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those who do not yet know Him.  But there is also the important work of discipleship, helping those who have come to know Jesus to grow deeper in faith. 

Thank you to all who helped with set up for the Field of Flags!

Thank you to all who helped with set up for the Field of Flags!

Sometimes in the church it feels as if those two are in competition.  Are we going to be a church that is all about reaching the lost or a church that is all about deep discipleship.  Yes!  We need to be both.  In fact, like two sides of the same coin, faith sharing and spiritual growth are inseparable. I would go so far as to say that they are really all one.  When a person invites Jesus to be the leader of their life and the forgiver of their sins, what they have really done is taken the first step in a lifelong journey of discipleship.

I believe God is calling our church to be a place where people are coming into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ every week.  My heart breaks for those who do not know the hope of Jesus and do not have the blessing of Christian community.  So Rock Church will always have a strong emphasis on reaching those who are far from Jesus.  But it is also essential that we be a place where people are growing deeper in faith.

The question we sometimes wrestle with is “what does that look like?”  What does it really mean to be growing deeper in faith?  How is that reflected in our lives?  How do we do that?   The funny thing is, almost everyone has an answer to that question, but the answers are very different.  In this new series, we are going to take a significant look at what it means to grow “deeper” in faith as disciples of Jesus.

Ricky helping out with the build out for "Grounded" our new youth drop in space in Plaistow.

Ricky helping out with the build out for "Grounded" our new youth drop in space in Plaistow.

The great thing about a series like this is that it applies to everyone.  Deeper is a relative term.  No matter where you are in your faith journey, you can go deeper.  If you have just made the decision to be a Christ follower, clearly there are steps you can take to grow deeper.  But even if you have been a believer for decades, spiritual growth is a lifelong journey.  No matter how long you’ve been a follower, no matter how deep you have gone, there is still room to grow deeper.

I am excited beyond words about this next series.  There is something important here for everyone, and I know you are going to find it a blessing to your faith journey.  I look forward to seeing every one of you in worship this Sunday at one of our Rock Church campuses.  And bring a guest.  Even those who are just beginning to explore the faith will find a next step for them. 

Before I sign off, just a quick reminder that tomorrow (Saturday Oct 21) will be the long awaited Rock Run Raiser.  It’s not too late to sign up to help or to participate.  Go to rockrunraiser.com or email Heidi Mongeau.  Also coming up over the next week and a half we have three separate Trunk or Treat events.  This is one of the great outreach events that we do to connect to the unchurched families around us. If you would like to do a trunk, or help in any other way, please email Sherri Nourse in Sandown, Cara Fatout in Plaistow or Jess Pontes in Amesbury.

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Fifty-Five

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Fifty-Five

Today I turn 55.  It’s a little hard for me to imagine because most days I still feel like I’m 30.  I can still play football at the men’s retreat.  I still take stairs 2 at a time.  And I’m looking forward to participating in the Run Raiser next Saturday.  But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m another year older.  There is something about birthdays that causes us to pause and reflect.  While 55 is not a round number, it does feel like somewhat of a mile marker.  For some people, 55 marks the beginning of a countdown to retirement.  But for me, the thought that I might be in my last decade (give or take a few years) of full time pastoral ministry brings about a very different reaction.

The truth is, I am more excited and passionate about ministry than I have ever been.  And with the realization of another passing year, I feel a greater urgency than ever to the work of leading our church.  As I spent time in prayer this morning, I could not help but reflect on that urgency.  As I thought and prayed, three things struck me:

1)      I am more convinced than ever that we must reach those who do not know Jesus.  When we say “Everyone needs Jesus,” that is not platitude.  It is a Biblical truth.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the father except through him.  We must do everything we can, with the time we have, to share the hope of Christ with those who do not yet know Him.

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2)      I am more invested than ever in raising up the next generation in Christ.  In whatever remaining years God chooses to have me serve as your pastor, I will be unapologetic about investing in our young people.  This is not to imply that I do not love and care about people from every generation.  I do.  But if our church is going to continue the vital and life changing work of Christ for decades to come, we must always be investing time, energy and resources in helping to raise up the next generation in Christ.

3)      I want to be more intentional than ever in giving my all, my best effort, to the work that Christ has called me to.  One day, every one of us will stand before Jesus.  I want to live my life with such passion and determination that I can stand before Jesus and say that I gave my all.  I want to know that I used the gifts, resources and years that He gave me to the best of my ability to advance His kingdom.

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As followers of Jesus, you and I are a part of the most important enterprise in the world.  We are the bearers of the gospel.  We are the hands and feet of God to do good in this world.  We are the Church.  I don’t mean that in an institutional way.  I mean that we are the gathering of God’s people to do His work in this world.  There is no more important work in this world.  There is no higher calling than to serve the King of Kings.

Before I sign off, I want to remind you that tomorrow (Saturday Oct 14) we will set up the field of flags.  If you would like to help, please join us at our Plaistow campus.  We are going to jump right in at 9:00 a.m. and I don’t expect it to take us much more than an hour.

Next Saturday, Oct. 21, is the Rock Run raiser.  If you would like to participate, you can still sign up at www.rockrunraiser.com.  We can also still use some helpers in a variety of areas.  One area in particular we can still use help is with parking attendants.  If you would like to help, please email Heidi Mongeau.

I look forward to seeing you all this Sunday as we share the final, and perhaps most important message of all in our series “Real Hope.”  You will not want to miss it.

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Where Hope is Found

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Where Hope is Found

      Our world needs the hope that is found in Christ alone!  We have, in recent weeks, heard the reports of senseless, horrific mass killings, devastating hurricanes, earth quakes and more.  It would be easy to feel overwhelmed and many in our world are asking “where is hope found?”   I am more convinced than ever that hope, real hope, is found in Jesus Christ.  

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     I don’t really believe in coincidences.  I believe that many of the things that we write off as coincidence are really the working of the Holy Spirit.  And so, I don’t think it is any coincidence that our church would be in the middle of a teaching series entitled “Real Hope” even as we are being barraged by wave after wave of heartbreaking news.  I think this series could not be more timely or more important. 

      Our world is in desperate need of the hope, the real hope, that comes from a life changing relationship with Jesus.  You and I have been blessed with a great gift.  Somewhere along the way, someone loved us enough to share the Good News of Jesus with us.  And particularly in these difficult times, that gift makes all the difference.

In last week’s blog, I began to talk about what makes Rock Church special.  In that post, I celebrated that we are a church that recognizes that it’s not about us.  Another thing that I believe is central to Rock Church is our passionate belief that everyone needs Jesus.  Perhaps now more than ever, we realize how desperately our world needs the hope that comes from knowing Jesus.  In difficult seasons like this, I also find that there is more of an openness to talk about Jesus.  When surrounded by chaos and tragedy, people are looking for a firm foundation upon which to stand.  Jesus is that rock amid shifting sand.   

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      I would encourage us in these difficult times to do three things.  First, shore up our own foundation.  Be particularly intentional in keeping your spiritual foundation strong through daily prayer, weekly worship, lifegroups and the likes.   Secondly, be all the more intentional in the sharing of Christ.  People are seeking.  It is very possible that someone who may not have been open to an invitation to worship in the past is more receptive today.  Thirdly, PRAY.  I raised up the idea a couple of weeks ago about coming out a bit earlier on Sunday mornings and spending some time to prayer together in our respective sanctuaries.  This Sunday morning I will be praying in the sanctuary in Plaistow around 7:30, then in Sandown around 8:00, and again in Plaistow before the 11:00 service.  I invite you to join me.

     Before I sign off, I want to remind you that the Rock Run Raiser is just over 2 weeks away.  If you haven’t registered yet, I hope you will.   I will be running in it, and volunteering.  The proceeds from this race will support a number of important causes.  So I encourage you to “get dirty for good!”  You can get more information or register at www.rockrunraiser.com

 

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Not about ourselves

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Not about ourselves

I was in a conversation recently where someone said “I’ve been in a few churches over the years, but there is something different here.”  Fortunately, I think they meant that in a good way.  I asked them to say a little more to be sure I was understanding.  “It’s hard to put it into words" he said "but there is something unique, something special about Rock Church.”  I thanked him for sharing the encouraging words.  And it got me thinking.  What is it that makes us who we are as a church?  What makes Rock Church, Sandown, Plaistow, Amesbury and now Newburyport special?

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As I thought about it, a number of things jumped out at me.  But one of the first things that came to mind is that we are not about ourselves.   We have come to understand as a church that to really follow Jesus means it is just not about us.   Sadly, I have sometimes encountered churches that are only about themselves.  They exist to meet their own needs.  They focus on what is best for them, what they like, which pew is “their pew.”  But I have seen at every campus of our ministry an outward focus that is reflected in a number of ways. 

The first is a heart for the lost.  I see it in the way we welcome first time guests.  I see it in the way we serve at outreach events like free breakfasts, day camp, Old Home Days and Amesbury Days, Trunk or Treat and much more.  I see it in the way we truly embrace the conviction that “Everyone Needs Jesus.”

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The second way I see that it is not about us is in the many ways we seek to be “For Our Community.”  I don’t know that I have ever seen a new initiative embraced more eagerly.  It seems like I see “For Our Community" wristbands, bumper stickers and lawn signs everywhere.  But it is not just about the outward signs.  It is an attitude.  It is the heart’s desire I see in so many of us to serve our neighbors in the love of Christ.  Add to that the many expressions of mission work we do nationally and internationally and we see an even fuller expression of our desire to put others ahead of ourselves.

Yet another way I’ve observed that we are not about ourselves is our willingness to sacrifice for the mission and vision of the church.  I love that our congregation has a “whatever it takes” attitude when it comes to fulfilling our vision.  I have often been humbled by the way people from our Rock Church family will sacrifice time, effort, talents and resources to advance the mission of Christ for the sake of others.  I have to agree with my friend.  There is something special about Rock Church, and it begins with our heart for others.

Before I sign off, I want to share a word about our 11:00 a.m. service in Plaistow.  I’m convinced that one of the strengths of our church is our ability to offer a broad cross section of worship opportunities that not only offer choices in time, but also style.  Beginning this Sunday, we will be introducing some changes at the 11:00 a.m. service that will allow that service to have it own unique style and energy.  Curious?  Come check it out.

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3:00 a.m.

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3:00 a.m.

Have you ever had God wake you up early in the morning?  I had that experience on Wednesday.  I woke up a little after 3:00 a.m.  Try as I might, I couldn’t fall back asleep.  So around 3:45 a.m. I got up.  I did my morning devotions and worked on my sermon a bit.  Then I just spent some time listening to God.  I’ll be honest, I don’t do that as often as I should.  But that morning I had a sense that God had something he wanted me to hear.

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Rock Church has had an amazing summer and early fall.  We had 15 baptism a couple of weeks ago.  Our new NextGen program is off to a great start.  We are seeing guests in worship every week.  But I still have the sense that there’s something more God wants for us.  Something deeper.   In my early morning conversation with Him, I felt God calling us, all of us at Rock church, to a season of prayer.  I know that many of us pray at home, in our personal time and with our families.  But more specifically, I believe God is calling us to spend time in prayer together on Sundays.

In light of that calling, I want to invite us to gather in our respective worship spaces this Sunday, perhaps just 10 to 15 minutes before the service begins, and just pray.  Pray for our church.  Pray for our kids, the lost, our youth.  Pray for the addicted and the hurting.  Pray for our nation and our world.  Pray for our leaders and our pastors.  Pray for our ministry than we would be powerful and effective in the work of Jesus Christ in our communities.

Rock Church is awesome.  I love our church, and we’re doing great work.  But we will never be all that we can be for Christ if we try to operate on our own power, our own strength.  We need the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We access that power through prayer.   In II Chronicles 7 we read words that I suspect are familiar to many of us “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and heal their land.”  There is real power in prayer.  I want our church to access and experience the fullness of that power of God.

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I believe God has amazing things in store for us.  I don’t want to miss out on any of it.  So, if you know as I absolutely do know, that there is power in prayer, and if you are as convinced as I am that our church needs that power from the Holy Spirit to be all that it can be, I invite you to join me in prayer this Sunday morning before our respective services.  I believe God is preparing to do something great in and through us, but it needs to begin with us on our knees.

This Sunday we will continue our Series “Real Hope.”  It has been a great series, and I know you won’t want to miss this week as we dig into what it really means to have FREEDOM in Christ.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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I love this

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I love this

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There are a lot of things about ministry that I love.  But I’m not sure if there is anything that brings more joy to my heart than being a part of someone’s baptism.  This past Sunday at our annual beach service, we celebrated believer baptism by immersion.  There is nothing quite like seeing the joy on someone’s face as they come up out of the water, hair swept back, water running down their face, hands raised high with a shout of praise!   Priceless!

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What makes it even more powerful for me is that I know many of these people’s stories.  These are lives that have been genuinely transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Some of these people have had unimaginable tragedy in their lives.   Some have battled addiction, others anxiety or depression and still others abuse.  Some of these folks have tried to find hope and meaning in worldly things.   Some have experienced great success in the eyes of the world, but still felt empty.  The one thing they all have in common is they have found hope, healing, meaning and purpose in Christ!

In baptism we allow the old to pass away, and the new to come.  We are new creations in Christ through our baptism.  Last Sunday after the baptisms, I sat for a few minutes reflecting on the people who had been baptized.  I thought about the extraordinary transformation many of them had been through.  In that moment I thought to myself, this is why we do what we do.   This is why we serve Jesus.  This is why we share the Good News.  Every time a soul is saved for eternity, the angels in heaven rejoice!  

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Serving Jesus by loving and serving others can be hard work.  It is sacrificial.  But when one person’s life is changed, when one soul is saved for eternity, when one life goes from despair to hope, it is worth it all.  I just wanted to take time today to thank each and every one of you from our Rock Church family for all that you do to make this ministry possible.  For the time, talents and gifts that you share, for the love that is poured out in service to Christ and the world, I thank you.  Know that all that you do to lift up Jesus IS making a difference!

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Along with a great beach service, we launched our new NextGen program this past Sunday.  We got off to a great start!  But if you were not able to make it the first week, it is certainly not too late.  You can get all the info and register right at this link. Ladies, coming up in just a couple of weeks is our ALIVE! Women's Retreat with Kelley Latta.  This is going to be an awesome event.  Here is a link to all the details.  And finally, after months of preparation, the Rock Run Raiser is coming up next month.  This is a new event for us that is an opportunity to both connect our friends and neighbors with our church family and to raise support for several great causes.  There are a number of ways you can help with that.  You can run the race.  You can volunteer.  You can spread the word.  And you can pray for this event.

I look forward to seeing every one of you this Sunday as we continue this great new series entitled "Real Hope."   Invite a friend!  Remember, everyone needs Jesus!

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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A Big Weekend

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A Big Weekend

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about this weekend!  About 8 months ago God placed it on my heart that we needed to make a significant investment of time, energy, resources and prayer into the redevelopment of our Children's Ministry.  In the past decade, the world has changed dramatically, particularly for our children and youth.  Like many churches, we had begun to struggle with how to effectively reach this emerging generation for Christ.

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While culture has changed, the need has not changed. This generation of young people growing up in our homes, our neighborhoods and our communities needs a spiritual foundation as much as any generation before them.   In fact, with all the challenges our kids are facing, I think it more critical than ever.   So for the past 8 months our children's ministry directors and our pastors have been dreaming, visioning and working to redevelop our children's ministry space and program.  Our dream is to offer a NextGen program that is so engaging and transformational that our kids don't want to miss a single week.  So, after months of preparation, this weekend we launch our new NextGen program.  You can find more information or register your children at this link.

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But that is not the only reason I am excited about Sunday.  This week we are also introducing a new teaching series entitled "Real Hope."  The series is built on a very powerful passage from Isaiah 61.  This is the passage Jesus proclaims as he is beginning his public ministry.  We live in a world that is hurting in so many ways.  But God promised real hope through the prophet Isaiah.  And as we will see in this series, Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise.  He came to heal the brokenhearted, free the captive, bring light into the darkness and bring beauty from ashes.  This is going to be an uplifting and hope-filled series that you will not want to miss.  It is also a great series to invite an unchurched friend or neighbor to experience.

The other truly exciting thing coming up this weekend is our annual Beach, BBQ and Baptism celebration at Camp Tasker in Newton, NH.  This year we are adding a special element to the service that everyone of us will want to engage in.  We will gather at Camp Tasker at 1:00 p.m. We will provide the BBQ.  Feel free to bring a side dish or dessert to share.  After lunch we will gather at the beach for our special combined baptism service.  If you wish to be baptized, please contact Lynette to let us know.

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The beach service will take the place of our Rock@6 Sunday night service this week, but next Sunday we will be relaunching that service with Pastor Lee as our new leader.  Our Rock@6 service is an excellent opportunity for those who are away or working Sunday mornings, or those who attend one of our morning services but want to dig in a little deeper.

On final thing I wanted to share with you is that we have officially launched Newburyport with a Thursday evenings dinner worship.  It runs from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. with dinner, fellowship, informal worship and great community.  It is open to children and adults.  If you are interested in getting involved or would like more info on Thursday nights in Newburyport, please contact Pastor Paul or visit the web page.

Don't forget the free pancake breakfast this Saturday (Sept 9) as a part of the Sandown Old Home day celebration.

Have a great day.  I look forward to seeing you all this weekend.  It's going to be awesome!

God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

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How quickly they grow!

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How quickly they grow!

This weekend I will have the privilege of joining in marriage two wonderful young people from our church, Julia Howard and Mitch Grew.  This past week on Facebook and Instagram I have seen dozens of pictures of our children and youth starting out a new school year.  Often there have been side by side comparison pictures of these great kids “then and now.”   In the photos, we get to see how they’ve grown as they have gone from kindergarten to grade school, middle school, high school, and in many cases on to college.  

A few of our young men in a breakout session during the men's retreat last weekend.

A few of our young men in a breakout session during the men's retreat last weekend.

I never cease to be blown away by how quickly our kids grow up.  Mitch and Julia are getting married!  Chloe is starting kindergarten!   Damian and Alicia are seniors?  What?  How did that happen?  Adolescence can seem very long at times.  But the reality is, the years fly by.  It struck me this week that the time we have to invest in our young people during their formative years is really so brief.  And yet, these are the years that will often set their path for a lifetime.  And these are also the years that people are most receptive to the good news of Christ.

We’ve made a commitment as a church to pour significant time, energy and resources into our NextGen children’s ministry.  That doesn’t mean that other ages and stages of life are not important.  They certainly are.  But it is during childhood, and through the teenage years, that most people are establishing patterns, priorities, values and beliefs that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.  As a church, we don’t want to squander the opportunity we have to help our young people build a great foundation on their relationship with Christ.  

I want to ask you to pray for our kids, and our Children’s ministry team as we prepared to launch an all new NextGen ministry on September 10. I would also ask you to register your kids today.  We are putting together an amazing program.  We want every child and youth in our church to experience it.  And some of you may have time and gifts that could be shared in this ministry area.  If that is you, please speak with one of our pastor’s or ministry leaders.  You could also email Chrissy at this link and she will help you get connected.  If God is calling you to ’Serve One Another’ through the NextGen Ministry, don’t miss this opportunity to impact a young person’s life.  The impact is eternal.  

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On another note, I am sure you are already praying for the people of Texas and Louisiana in the wake of disastrous storm.   This Sunday we will have special offering baskets at each location to assist with relief efforts.  I will also tell you that we are already talking with our friends in Texas about returning there with a mission team in February.  If you think that is something you might like to participate in, please set aside the dates of the NH February school vacation week.  

We have some awesome events coming up!  Next weekend, September 9- 10 is a big weekend for us.  Saturday is the Sandown Old Home Day.  We will be doing a free breakfast and have a community outreach booth.  If you would like to help in any way, please email Pastor Beth.  Then on Sunday is our really big Fall kick off.  We will open the doors to our new NextGen program.  We will be starting a great new teaching series entitled “Real Hope.”  And in the afternoon we will have our all church Beach, BBQ and Baptism outing at Camp Tasker.  This is a day you will not want to miss!

I look forward to seeing you all in worship this Sunday.  If you are traveling for the holiday, I invite you to worship with us online through Facebook live or at www.RockChurchAir.tv.

God bless,

 

Pastor Steve

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NextGen Makeover

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NextGen Makeover

Have I mentioned how incredibly excited I am about our NextGen makeover!  I think we all agree that helping the next generation come to know Jesus Christ is one of the most important things we can be about as a church. The question has never been “should we reach the next generation for Jesus?”   The real question we, like many churches, wrestle with is how do we go about that?  The world has changed dramatically over the past decade.  Those changes have been particularly impactful on the generation of young people growing up right now.  This is the first generation to grow up with more computing power in their pocket than it took to put a man on the moon, the first generation with video on demand, the first generation who could not imagine a world without internet.

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The question is not whether these changes are good or bad.  This is simply our new reality.  And while much has changed, some things have not.  What has not changed is that this generation needs Jesus as much as every generation before them.  What has not changed is the gospel message itself.  But in our ever changing world, the methodology by which we share the gospel must change.  This is why I am exciting about our NextGen makeover.  We’ve made an intentional decision to redevelop our children’s ministry space and program in a way that will help us reach the emerging generation.

You can help us make this “NextGen Makeover” a complete success in a number of ways.

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  • Volunteer.  We need folks to help us in redevelopment of the space, and we need additional folks to serve in our NextGen ministry in the coming year.
  • Register.  If you have children pre K through 8th grade, register them for NextGen.  High school aged students can volunteer to serve in the Sunday morning program and then attend youth group on Wednesdays in Sandown or Sundays in Plaistow. 
  • Invite.  I bet you have at least one friend, neighbor or coworker with children in this age bracket.  Tell them about our all new, exciting and fun filled children’s experience and invite them to attend.
  • Support.  We are investing in our children’s ministry space in some significant ways.  If you would like to help support the makeover with a financial gift, that would be most welcomed.  If you would like to do that right now, you can go to www.rockgiving.org.  Scroll down the list of designated giving and you will see a line for NextGen Kids Ministry.
  • Pray.  I’m sure you know that the enemy would love nothing better than to capture the hearts of our kids.  Pray for our church, that we might effectively reach the next generation with the hope and love of Jesus.

By the time you get this blog, I will be on my way to the Men’s retreat.  I’m privileged to have been asked to be this year’s speaker.  God has placed a message on my heart that I am eager to share with the men. 

Ladies, don’t forget the women’s BBQ on Saturday at our Plaistow location.  The woman’s ministry has an amazing and fun evening planned.  And speaking of women’s ministry, don’t forget to sign up for the ALIVE women’s retreat coming up in September.  For more info, click on this link

Families, if you are looking for something fun to do tonight (Friday), we would invite you to join us for the family movie night in Sandown.  You can also get a sneak peek at the Sandown NextGen space.   It is nearly done and it is AWESOME!

I hope you can all join us this Sunday as we continue our series “One Another.”  This has been a great and powerful series.  You won’t want to miss this week’s message.  

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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So Much to Share

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So Much to Share

I have so much I want to share with you that I almost don’t know where to begin.  But I will start with this.  Please pray for our nation.  The events in Charlottesville remind us anew of how incredibly broken and fragmented our country is.  When confronted by hatred and violence, our human tendency is to respond in like kind.  And yet, as we talked about this past Sunday, we are called by Christ to love one another.   I am more convinced than ever that the only real hope for our nation is Jesus Christ.  

Our amazing Hero Central Day Camp!

Our amazing Hero Central Day Camp!

One of the most important opportunities we have to share Christ is among our young people.  I want to celebrate that this week we have had an amazing experience with a sold out Hero Central Day Camp.  Close to 100 kids have gathered every day this week to hear the good news of Jesus in an environment of love, acceptance and fun!  At the same time, teams continue to work at all of our campuses to prepare for the launch of our all new Nextgen children’s program beginning Sept 10.  Wait until you see what we’ve done with the Nextgen space.  It’s awesome.

I know summer is all about relaxing and having some “down time”, but here at Rock Church we are as active as ever.  I want to take a moment to share with you some great upcoming events.

Tonight (Thursday Aug 17).  As an expression of “For Our Community” we are partnering with the Declerck Gallery to promote a student art show that will help support the fountain restoration fund at Winnekenni Castle in Haverhill.  The art show starts at 7:00 p.m.  Admission is free. There will be refreshments and live piano music by our own Donnie Gaudreau.

Another exciting thing happening tonight is the first official gathering of our Newburyport campus.  We are beginning our work there under the leadership of Pastor Paul Nolden.  He and the core team will be hosting a weekly dinner/lifegroup.  We are so excited about what God is doing in Newburyport.  If you would like more info or would like to join them for the Thursday night gahtering, please contact Pastor Paul.

Saturday (Aug 19).  Fishercats Baseball.  Join us for the Faith and Family night at Fishercats stadium in Manchester.  Tickets are on $12, and a portion of the ticket sales supports youth scholarship for Soulfest and other youth special events.  To reserve your ticket, contact Sherri Nourse at this link.

Men's Retreat coming up Aug. 25-27

Men's Retreat coming up Aug. 25-27

Men’s Retreat.  Guys, it’s almost here.  Our amazing annual Men’s retreat will take place in just over a week on August 25-27.  There are still a few tickets available.  You can register right on line at this link.  This is going to be an amazing event.  For the first time ever, I have been asked to fill the role of guest speaker.  I have some things to share with you that you will not want to miss.

Women’s BBQ.  Ladies, we have something special for you next weekend as well.  Our annual women’s BBQ will take place on Saturday Aug 26 at our Plaistow campus.  The ladies will gather at 5:00 p.m.  There is a great fun program planned.  See your attached newsletter for all the details.

Women's BBQ Aug. 26

Women's BBQ Aug. 26

Mark your Calendars for Sunday Sept 10th.   We are planning a BIG DAY!  This is the day we launch our new NextGen children’s program.  We will begin a great new sermon series.  And Sunday afternoon will be our Beach, BBQ and Baptism Bash at Camp Tasker beginning at 1:00 p.m.  You will hear much more about this in the coming weeks, but I would ask you to save the date now.  I hope to have every one of us together for this great celebration day.

We have some great opportunities coming up to share the good news of Christ.  All that is going on in the world around us continues to remind us that there is an urgency to the work of the Gospel.  Everyone needs Jesus!  Let’s continue to serve him, and share him, with all we have!

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The Power of Welcome

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The Power of Welcome

This week I received a beautiful note from a young mom with two children.  They had worshipped with us for the first time on Sunday.  I happened to see her during that worship service and had an opportunity to talk with her briefly afterward.  But even more importantly, I noticed that several others from our church family made a point to stop and speak with her, and engage her children.  In the note that she sent me, barely an hour after worship had ended, she expressed her appreciation for the way she was made to feel welcomed.  It made my day!

I’m proud and grateful to be a part of a congregation that genuinely cares about people.  I want our church to be the kind of place where even those who are visiting with us for the very first time feel welcomed and loved.  This reflects the formal and the informal welcome that I was talking about last week in my blog.  Members of our hospitality team certainly greeted this family.  But beyond that, they were greeted by other members of our congregation who seized the opportunity to welcome them.

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I saw something similar at Soulfest this week.  We bring a large group to Soulfest (over 120 this year) of primarily youth and young adults, along with the adult leaders.  I watched as a girl, who was there for the first time, was immediately welcomed and brought into the circle of several other young girls who were already friends.  None of them knew her before Soulfest, but they left the week as friends.  How cool is that!

The thing that strikes me about these, and similar, situations is that we never know what is going on in the life of that person that we reach out to.  They may be going through a difficult season and are desperately in need of the love of Christ that can be expressed through a warm welcome.  They may be at a place where God has been stirring in their heart and they are close to inviting him into their lives.  A gracious welcome may put them at ease in a way that allows God to do a work in their heart.

Never underestimate the power of a warm smile and a kind word, be it within the church or in any other setting.  Sometimes that simple expression can make all the difference in a person’s day.  Within the church setting, it may even have an impact for eternity as it helps guests to lower their guard and to begin a relationship with Jesus.  You might have the opportunity to partner with God in changing their life.

Speaking of opportunities for life change, I want to lift up few special events coming up.

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  • Hero Central Day Camp for K through 8th grade begins next Monday.  We are close to capacity, so if you have not yet registered, I would encourage you to do so now at this link.
  • Men’s retreat will take place on the weekend of August 25-27.  It is open to teenage boys and men.  For more information and registration, click on this link.
  • Women’s retreat.  Registration is now open for ALIVE 2017 Rock Women’s Retreat.  For more info and registration, click here.
  • NextGen children’s ministry registration is now open.  Our NextGen team is working very hard on a complete makeover of our space and our program.  If you have children, or you know anyone who does, we invite you to register here for our Fall Launch.  Our theme for the fall is “Come to the Party!”
  • Fishercat’s Baseball game.  Here is one for fun and a good cause.  Joins us for faith and family night at fishercat’s stadium in Manchester.  Tickets will be available at all locations this Sunday before and after worship.

I look forward to seeing everyone this weekend as we continue our new series “One Another.”  If you missed the first week “Forgive One Another” you can catch the rebroadcast at this link.

God Bless,

 

Pastor Steve

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The First 10 Minutes  Part II

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The First 10 Minutes Part II

Greetings from Soulfest!   Last week we began a conversation about the importance of welcome and hospitality.  When folks are newer to our church, the way in which we welcome them can make all the difference.  We practice hospitality both formally and informally, officially and unofficially.  Through our hospitality team, we officially welcome people through greeters, ushers, and other hospitality servants.  But unofficially, we are all a part of the hospitality team.

In response to last week's blog, Judy H. shared this comment:

"I agree that it's important for us to greet newcomers warmly. For me though the issue is that I don't know who is new and who is not. Many people I recognize, but others I do not. The church is growing so rapidly it's impossible for me to keep track of who and who is not. Any ideas? "

That is a great question.  It got me thinking that it might be helpful to offer a few specific ideas.  Here are a few intentional ways every one of us can be a part of the hospitality team.

  • Look for someone you don't know and introduce yourself. To answer Judy's question, don't worry about whether they are new or not as you address them.  Try wording your greeting this way "I don't believe we've met.  My name is Judy."   If they are new to the church, they will often say so.  Either way you have now met someone you didn't know.
  • Look for people who are standing alone.  It often happens that if a person or couple is visiting for the first time, they will grab a coffee and then hang out near the edge of the room.  Did you know that simply being noticed and engaged in conversation can make someone feel cared for and valued?  Try it!  Be that person who loves others enough to dare to reach out.  If one or two people engage them in conversation, it will make all the difference.
  • As you are getting seated in the worship space, look at those immediately around you.  This isn't necessarily the time for an extended conversation.  But a hand shake and a quick "Good morning, great to have you with us" reinforces that welcome they hopefully received in the lobby.
  • As you greet people, if you discover they are new, see if they need directions for anything.  You might word it like this "This is your first week with us?  Awesome.  Welcome.  Are you finding your way around OK?  Is there anything you need?"
  • If someone does need directions, walk with them.  Even if the instructions are relatively simple, it is still gracious hospitality to walk with them.  "The nursery?  I'm headed in that direction, why don't I walk with you and I can introduce you to the nursery coordinator."

  Can you imagine what an amazingly powerful impact it could have on those who are newer to our church if everyone one of us considered ourselves part of the hospitality team.  And in the process, you just might make a new friend!

I look forward to seeing you all in worship this Sunday as we launch a brand new series "One Another."  This is going to be a great series.  You won't want to miss a single week.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

 

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The First 10 Minutes

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The First 10 Minutes

I read recently that most first time guests at a church will decide within the first 10 minutes if they will come back to that church a second time.  People visit a church for the first time for all kinds of reasons.  They may have seen activity at the church that piqued their curiosity.  They may have seen something posted on Facebook or some other form of marketing.  For many people, it was a personal invitation that helped them to take that step.

But regardless of why they visited the first time, there seems to be a consistent reason they do, or do not, return.  That decision, researchers tell us, is made in the first 10 minutes.  What was their experience like in the parking lot?  Were they greeted at the door with a welcome and a warm smile?  What was the hospitality like?  Were they warmly welcomed by the congregation?  Did anyone talk to them?  I certainly believe that engaging music and relevant preaching play an important part.  But what often opens the door for guests to receive the worship experience is how they were put at ease when they arrived. 

I imagine that many of us who have been long time church goers have forgotten what it was like to be an unchurched seeker walking through the doors of a church for the first time.  When you have never been to church, it can be uncomfortable, intimidating or even down right scary.  How we greet and welcome guests can make all the difference.  If we are able to help them feel comfortable in this unfamiliar setting, they are much better able to engage in the worship and hear the gospel.  

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At all of our worship services we have two levels of hospitality; formal and informal.  We have a formal hospitality team that includes greeters, ushers, coffee servants, and the likes.  If you are looking for a place of ministry, this is an awesome way to get involved.  Speak with one of our pastors to find out how to get connected.  Informal hospitality happens as every one of us welcomes guests.  The truth is, we are all on the hospitality team.  It's up to every one of us to help our guests feel loved, welcomed and at home.

The way we ALL welcome people can make the difference for a first time guest.  Let's do our best to intentionally greet, welcome and converse with those who are newer to our church.  It could make all the difference in their experience and it may be the first step in helping them come to know Christ.  Remember, everyone needs Jesus.

Before I sign off, here are a few upcoming things to remember:

  • Men's retreat.  Guys, if you haven't registered, there is still time.
  • Faith and Family Night at the FisherCats.  We've purchased a block of tickets so we can attend together as a church family.  Tickets will be on sale at all campuses this Sunday.
  • Summer Day Camp.  July 14-18 at our Plaistow Campus.  Sign up your kids, tell your friends!
  • Rock Run Raiser.  I've already signed up and started training.  Who's with me!    

Have a great day.  I look forward to seeing you all in worship this Sunday as we finish up our series on Biblical Life Hacks.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Why I quit going to church

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Why I quit going to church

I was perusing my Facebook wall the other day when I came upon a blog post from a pastor I know.   The title of the article was "Why Attending Church No Longer Makes Sense."  I couldn't resist.  I had to click on it to see what he had to say.  He began by talking about the changes in our culture, the many activities that compete with Sunday morning worship attendance and a trend being experienced by many churches of members attending less frequently than they once did.  Then he got to the heart of the matter.  As followers of Christ, we are not really meant to attend church, we're meant to BE the church. 

Does that mean we shouldn't gather for worship on Sunday?   Actually just the opposite.  It means we should not only gather, but we should engage.  When we "attend" a ball game, a movie or a play, the implication is that we come, observe and enjoy.  When we come together on Sundays, it is not to attend church.  It is to be the church.  Here is the difference.

To be the church is to be a participant.  When we gather on Sundays, we are not coming just to observe.  We are coming to be a part of an experience.  We sing, we pray, we praise God together.  To be the church is to be relational.  I'm sure you have heard before that the church is not the building.  The church is the people.  It is the body of Christ, His followers brought together in community through shared relationship.  When we gather, we are community.  Being together allows us to build relationship. It allows us to listen to and care for one another.  It allows us to be the family of God to one another. That can only happen when we gather. 

Being the church also means combining our gifts and abilities with the gifts and abilities of others in order for the work of Christ to be done.  We are all gifted to serve.  Some of us certainly serve at times other than Sunday morning, but there are many for whom Sunday morning is their time to serve.  Among those are ushers, greeters, coffee makers and other hospitality staff.  There are worship leaders, praise team members, prayer team and tech staff.  Now add nursery workers, Nextgen leaders and adult life group leaders, and the list is still not complete.    

If you are planning on "attending" church this Sunday, I would ask you to begin thinking differently about that.  Let's all quit just going to church.  Instead, let's be the church.  Let's come prepared to engage ourselves in worship.  Let's come with a desire to serve where ever we can.  And let's come desiring to be true community.  Let's BE the church.

Also, I would ask you to keep our Honduras Mission team in prayer.  If you would like to see an update of how they are doing, please visit this blog post from Pastor Rachel and Jon. I look forward to seeing you all "be the church" as we gather this Sunday to continue our series on Biblical life hacks. 

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

 

Before I sign off I want to highlight a few important thing:

Men's retreat is coming up soon.  Get your registration in!

Men's retreat is coming up soon.  Get your registration in!

  • This Sunday immediately after worship at our Sandown location will be a brief meeting to talk about our nextgen ministry.  I hope all of you in Sandown will take a few minutes to stay and hear some of he exciting things that are coming.
  • Men.  If you haven't signed up for the retreat yet, I hope you will soon.  I believe God has an amazing weekend in store for us.  Click here to register.
  • Summer Day Camp.  If you haven't registered your kids yet, or if you would like to sign up to be a volunteer, you can do both at this link.
  • Soulfest.  We are nearly sold out of ticket.  Last I heard we had just a few left.  If you had hope to go, but have not yet registered, I would encourage you to do that immediately.  If you have registered but haven't paid yet, I would also encourage you to do that right away.  Otherwise, we may think you are not really coming and we will make your ticket available to someone on the waiting list.

 

 

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Childhood Heroes

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Childhood Heroes

In case you didn't hear, the Men's BBQ on Monday night was amazing.  Great turnout.  Great food.  Great weather.  But what was particularly exciting for me is that we got to hear from one of my childhood heroes; Rico Petrocelli.  As a kid I loved baseball.  I often watched, or listened to (on my transistor radio), the Red Sox play.  As I grew into my teenage years, I loved to watch Fred Lynn and Jim Rice.  But as a kid, it was all about Yaz and Rico!  They were my heroes.

But these weren't my only heroes.  There were others who were by no means famous, but nonetheless heroes to me.  They were people who shaped my early life.  People like Madge and Bill, George, Faith, Dan and Chris.  These were a few of my Sunday School teachers, youth group leaders, camp counselors and other adults who sowed seeds of faith in my life.  I am a pastor today because of adults who poured into my spiritual life as a child and a teen.

A lot of things have changed in the areas of children's and youth ministry since I was a kid.  Terminology has changed.  What we use to call Sunday School is now widely known as "NextGen" ministry.  Methodology has change.  Flannel graphs and filmstrip projectors have given way to ipads and video projection.  Culture has changed.  There was a time when the only thing to do on a Sunday morning was to go to Church and Sunday School.   When it comes to how we reach the next generation for Christ, much has changed.  But one thing that I am convinced has not changed is the potential impact that a loving and caring adult can have in the life of a child. 

Would you like to be a hero?  Consider getting involved in NextGen ministry.  As we look towards the fall, we intend to relaunch our Children's ministry at all campuses with a fresh look, a renewed passion and an expanded team.  We need heroes.  We need people who are willing to pour into the spiritual lives of our children.   We have some great folks who are already serving in this important way.  But we want to expand the team. 

If you think you might like to help or support this effort in any way, I would invite you to get connected.  To find out more, you can speak with any of our pastors, or our Nextgen site leaders (Lisa Post in Sandown, Glenda Maglio in Plaistow, Chrissy Rupp/Kate Moyer in Amesbury).  There will be an informational meeting for the Sandown campus on Sunday July 23 right after worship.

It seems to me that we are living in a time when the faith of our children and youth is being challenged and confronted more strongly than ever.  Our kids need caring adults who want to invest in their lives in a way that helps them to grow in faith in spite of the cultural challenges.  If you feel that God may be calling you to serve in this way, now is the time.  Speak to one of us.  Find a place to pitch in.  Be a hero!

We look forward to seeing you all this Sunday as we continue our series on Biblical life hacks. 

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Exciting Times

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Exciting Times

These are exciting time at Rock Church.  We’ve just come off an incredible stretch of outreach events.  It began with Plaistow Old Home Day.  Then it flowed into nearly 2 weeks of special events during Amesbury days, culminating in our largest Pancakes in the Pines event in decades.  The very next day we were set up at Salisbury Beach with an outreach booth as a part of a summer concert series at the beach.  This past Friday in Sandown we organized a great outreach to families with a free movie night.  We are truly living out what it means to be For Our Community!

 

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But outreach is not the only exciting thing happening at Rock Church.  This month also marks some exciting new beginnings within our ministry.  In our denomination, new (P)astors “officially” begin their ministry appointment on July 1st.   We are excited to be dedicating two new Pastors to our ministry this July!  First, this Sunday July 9th at our 8:45 service in Sandown, we are welcoming Pastor Beth Soucise as our new Sandown campus Pastor.  The following Sunday July 16th at both the 9:45 and 11:11 services in Plaistow, we are excited to dedicate Pastor James Archibald as campus Pastor of our Plaistow location.  We are offsetting these events by a week because we know there are folks who will want to attend both.  God is so good and I continue to be in awe of the incredibly gifted people that He has called to be a part of our ministry.  I feel blessed beyond words to have the opportunity to serve with such an amazing group of believers, and am excited to welcome both Beth and James to our Pastoral Team.

This would be a good time for me to remind us of one our core convictions: Everyone is Gifted to Serve.  While each of us is gifted in different ways, and called to serve in different capacities, every gift matters.  We are only able to do the work God has called us to because so many of you have discovered your own gifts and callings, and have begun to live out that calling.  If you have not yet found your place to serve, contact any one of our Pastors.  We would love to help you get started.  Not only will your gifts be a blessing to the work of Christ, but you will discover joy in the act of serving.  There is nothing that compares to the sense of satisfaction that comes from discovering that place of service that enables us to make a real difference in the name of Christ.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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