Favorite Days

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Favorite Days

Are there certain days of the year that you particularly look forward to?  Christmas?  Your birthday?  Thanksgiving?  Can I share with you one of my favorite days of the year that you might find a little bit surprising?  I love Pentecost!  After Easter, it is my favorite Sunday of the year.

If you are not familiar with Pentecost, it is a special day in the life of the church when we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Christian Church.  At Rock Church we mark this special day with a joyful, Spirit-led time of worship.  As a part of this service, every year that I have been your pastor (that’s getting to be a LONG time!) we include in this service the welcoming of new members.  At times we have also included baptisms. 

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This year, as a part of our Pentecost services we are going to offer both.  There will be the opportunity for immersion baptism at all of our locations.  We will also be welcoming new members at all locations.  There are very few spiritual experiences in this life that compare to immersion baptism.  And there are few steps we take in life that are more meaningful spiritually than to stand before our church family and publicly profess our faith in Christ through the membership vows.

There is some preparation that goes along with both baptism and membership. For baptism, there is a brief orientation that we do ahead of time to be sure those being baptized understand the meaning and significance of this important step.  For membership, there is a class that we ask everyone to attend. 

Pentecost falls on Sunday, June 9th.  If you would like to be baptized on Pentecost, please reply to Lynette and she will connect you with one of our pastors for the orientation.   If you would like to receive membership, you can also email Lynette.  We will be offering the membership class at two, or perhaps three, locations depending on the number of people who wish to receive membership.  The class will be on Sunday June 2 in the afternoon and will run about 2 hours.

To go along with the Pentecost celebration I will give you a sneak preview of our new, very exciting, upcoming series.  Beginning June 2 we will begin a new series entitled “Supernatural” where we will be digging deep into the things of the spiritual realm.  This is going to be an amazing series, you will not want to miss a single week. 

We will also have a special message coming up this Sunday for Memorial Day that I know you are going to want to hear.  If you happen to be traveling this weekend, but sure to tune in on the livestream.

God bless,    

Pastor Steve

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Every Day

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Every Day

My guess is that there are things you do every day. Some of these are physical things. Brush your teeth, shower, make the bed, EAT! And there may be some things you do everyday that are meant to express emotion; hug or kiss your spouse, tell someone you love them, speak a kind word. There are some things we seem to naturally do every day.

 In the same way, I think there was certain spiritual things we are meant to do every day. Virtually every day I spend a few moments reading the Bible. It doesn't take a tremendous amount of time, but it keeps me consistently in the Word of God. And even though I've read through the Bible a number of times over the years, every day it seems like God reveals something new to me. I see something in a passage that I hadn't noticed before. Or it speaks to me in a new way in light of what I am going through or experiencing at that time.

 The other thing I try to do every day is take some time in prayer. To be honest, some days it's just a few minutes. Other days I may spend a little more time. But the important thing to me is that it is every day. Daily prayer keeps me connected to God. It helps me stay grounded. It encourages me, and helps me to rely more fully on God every day.

 I'm convinced that one of the keys to growing deeper in Christ is our daily practices. I would not go six days without a shower and then take a really long shower on the seventh day. I wouldn’t binge eat one day and then go without food for six. There are some things in life that were meant to be consistent, daily. I believe that is particularly important in our spiritual lives.

 Of course there are spiritual practices we do at other intervals. We gather as the family of God to worship once a week. I believe a consistent weekly rhythm of worship is also essential for our spiritual growth. But if the only way we're being fed spiritually is once a week in worship, we will not be as spiritually strong and healthy as we would want to be, as we need to be, to live out this life of faith God has invited us into.

 At the beginning of the year we gave out bookmarks to remind and encourage us to pray every day. I hope you are still keeping yours in a visible place. I hope you are working through the five areas. And I hope you are doing it every day. I am fully convinced that daily time with God is the bedrock of a strong and growing faith.

God bless,     Pastor Steve

BTW, don’t forget that this Saturday is our For Our Community Day of Serving.  It’s not to late to sign up at this link.  ALSO, THIS YEAR WE ARE DOING A FOOD COLLECTION AT EVERY PROJECT.  So we are encouraging every participant to bring a non-perishable food item to the work site with them Saturday morning.

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Top Ten

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Top Ten

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It’s crunch time!  We are just a week and a half away from our biggest outreach event of the year!  Our For Our Community Day of Service is coming up on Saturday May 18th.   So here is my top 10 list why you will want to be a part of this great event!

10)  There are over 30 projects spread over more than a dozen community.  By participating, you get to be a part of something REALLY BIG that is making a big difference in our communities.

9)  Free T-shirts.  We have a brand new, super cool, T-shirt designed for this year.  Every person who preregisters get one of these beauties!

8)  Make new friends.  This is a great opportunity to not only do great work, but do it together with some great people.  You might even make a new friend.

7)  You get to choose.  If you go to this link, you can see all of the projects listed out and you get to choose which project you want to be a part of.

6) Ministry wide and open to the community.  Because this will involve all of our Rock Church campuses, we have the opportunity to connect to folks who we don’t get to see every week.  And because it is open to the community, we can also invite our neighbors (who we don’t get to see enough).

5) Free lunch.  After the work, everyone is invited back to our Plaistow location for a giant BBQ.  There will be inflatable for the kids.  It will be a great time to celebrate the excellent work that was accomplished.

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4)  Projects for all skill levels and ages.  We have intentionally chosen the projects in order to be sure there is work for people at all ages and all skill levels.  It is a family friendly events, so kids are welcome.  What a great way to teach our kids the value of hard work and helping others.

3) It is only half a day.  The work will take place from 8:00 to lunchtime.  Because there are so many of us working together, you get to make a big impact in a short time.

2) Shine the light of Christ.  By serving others, we get to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and help the world to know that there is a God that loves them and Christ followers who want to bless them!

1)  FUN!   Every person who participate last year agreed, it was a blast!

   So, if you haven’t signed up yet, please go to this link and sign up today.  I did hear from a couple of folks who do not have access to the web or had difficulty the form.  If you were not able to sign up online, just email me at steve@rock-church.org and I, or someone from event team, will follow up with you to help you get signed up.

God bless,    

Pastor Steve

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We are all hospitality

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We are all hospitality

I had a revelation the other day.  It dawned on me that in the church, particularly on Sunday mornings, we are all on the hospitality team. We have people each week who are assigned to specific hospitality roles; greeters, ushers, lobby host, baristas, etc.  But it struck me that the work of helping guests to feel loved, welcomed and appreciated falls on all of us.  We are all hospitality.

I was reading a book recently about the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain.  They are renowned for their excellence in hospitality.  One of the expectations of every person who works for the hotel is that as they approach a guest, perhaps in a hallway or the lobby, they are expected to look up, make eye contact, smile and greet the guest.  And when they say everyone, they mean everyone, from the hotel manager to the housekeeper to the maintenance worker. 

Everyone in the hotel is expected to help make guests feel warmly welcomed and cared for.  What’s more, if they come upon a guest who needs assistance in any way, regardless of their role on the staff, they are expected to stop and help them, or contact someone who can.

Mark your calendar: Thurs. May 23. Franklin Graham w/musical guest Dave Crowder.

Mark your calendar: Thurs. May 23. Franklin Graham w/musical guest Dave Crowder.

Now allow me to contrast that with an experience I had this week.  Nicole and I went out to a restaurant for lunch.  When we walked in, the person behind the hostess counter did not look up.  She appeared to be deeply engrossed in some important paperwork (or perhaps her social media status).  We are regulars, so we just walked by and took our seats. On the way out, same deal.  Head down, focused on paperwork.  No eye contact.  No greeting.

Because we go here fairly regularly for lunch, it didn’t particularly phase me. But I got thinking, if this was my first time there, how might the lack of welcome impact my experience?  On the flip side, if I was fortunate enough to be a guest in a Ritz-Carlton, how might that intentional hospitality practiced by every member of the staff positively impact my experience?  How eager would I be to return?

Now the Ritz-Carlton is a pretty fancy hotel.  But it’s not actually the marble floors and the chandeliers that make the experience extraordinary.  It’s the way every person helps make each guest feel welcomed and cared about.  I believe we can do that in the church.  Here at Rock Church I believe every one of us is a part of the hospitality team.  When we have guests, each of us can be an important part of helping them feel loved and welcomed.

When you come to church this Sunday, remind yourself that you are a part of the hospitality team.  By your smile and your warm welcome, you can help someone feel loved and cared for.  It may just make the difference in whether they connect; not only to the church, but to Jesus.

God bless,

Pastor Steve

If you haven’t signed up yet, got to www.ForOurCommunity.org

If you haven’t signed up yet, got to www.ForOurCommunity.org

A couple of other notes: For Our Community Day of Serving is just over two weeks away and we need you!  If you haven’t done so already, please go out and sign up to be a part of one of our 34 project teams.  It is going to be an awesome day.  You will not want to miss it.  Go to www.forourcommunity.org to sign up.

MEN: Don’t miss First Monday coming up on May 6th. Our guest speaker will be our own Todd “T” Bannister. He has an amazing testimony that you will not want to miss!

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The New Evangelism

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The New Evangelism

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I’m convinced that serving is the new evangelism.  When it comes to connecting to the “not yet churched” and help them to come to know Jesus, serving is rapidly emerging as one of our most effective tools.  This is not to say that we should never witness door to door, preach on the street corner or hand out tracts.  But the effectiveness of those approaches is no longer what it once was.

As Christ followers, our message does not change.  In Jesus there is the forgiveness of sin and the hope of abundant and eternal life. But our methodology, how we share that message, changes from season to season and from generation to generation.  So here are 5 reasons why I am convinced that serving is an increasingly effective tool for evangelism:

1.       It allows unchurched people to see the love of Christ in a tangible way.

2.       It adds credibility to our proclamation.  People are more likely to hear our words if we back them up with loving action.

3.       It builds relationships.  As we serve people in need, it helps us get to know them, and vice versa.  Relationship builds trust and trust opens the door to sharing.

4.       It allows us to work side by side with unchurched people. Many people who may be hesitant to attend church are open to helping on a community service project.  As churched and unchurched neighbors work side by side, it becomes a first step of connection to Christ and the church.

5.       It give people a different view of Christians.  Sadly, in the media and in culture, Christians are often portrayed as self-righteous, judgmental and hypocritical.  But when we serve, the world gets to see Christians as a people of love who desire to bless others.

This is why I’m so excited about the For Our Community Day of Serving.  On Saturday, May 18th, we will have the opportunity to serve in our community in ways that help others to see the church for who it really is.  And it will be a chance to build relationships and share the love of Christ.  This has the potential to be an incredibly effective opportunity to not only do good as we bless others, but to share the hope of Jesus in the process. But for that to be as fully effective as it can be, we need two things.

  • We need you to join us!  You can sign up at www.forourcommunity.org

  • We need you to invite a few friends to join us.  This project is open to everyone, and this is a perfect opportunity to help someone take a first step of connection that could lead to a life changing relationship with Jesus.

On another note, we have a very special GROW (our monthly gathering for women and young women) this coming Monday, April 29 at our Rock Plaistow location.  Check out the video below. 

Also, we are beginning a new series this Sunday that I think is going to be both practical and inspirational.  If you have ever been stressed over money, or have friends or family members who are, you will not want to miss this special series “Keys to Financial Peace.”

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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The Comeback!

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The Comeback!

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The most celebrated thing in sports is the “Comeback.”  It’s one thing to win a game, a match or a competition.  It is something else entirely to come from behind to win. There is something incredibly powerful and moving about winning in the end when all seems lost. 

This is the power and importance of Holy Week.  Holy Week follows all that Jesus faced during his final week of life on earth. There is the hopefulness of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  It’s a little like the roar of the crowd when the team charges onto the field at the start of the game. 

But before long, Jesus is sharing the last supper with his disciples.  He foretells his betrayal and his sacrifice.  There is the washing of the disciple’s feet and the time in heart-wrenching prayer in garden.  Soon Judas would arrive with soldiers.  Jesus betrayed with a kiss.  The arrest.  The trial. Peter’s denial. The way of suffering as Jesus carried his cross to the hill where he would be put to death. 

Ultimately, all of the pain and struggle of this week would give way to the joy of the resurrection.  But what makes the victory of the empty tomb so powerful is the struggle that precedes it.  It is the comeback of resurrection that makes Easter morning a time of such profound joy.

Just when it seemed to the disciples that all hope was lost, they hear the good news proclaimed that Jesus is alive!  So for us, if we want to experience the full joy of Easter, we must also experience the struggle of Holy Week. 

I certainly hope every one of us will be in worship at one of our Easter celebrations.  But I would also encourage you to attend one or more of our Holy Week services.  See the full schedule at JoyfulEaster.org.

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Then on Saturday at 5:00 pm we will have the first of 6 Easter celebrations.  We offer the Saturday service as an opportunity for those who may be traveling on Easter, those who are serving on Easter (hospitality, child care, choir, praise team, etc) or for those for whom Saturday at 5:00 simply works better.  Then we will have our full slate of Sunday morning services on our usual schedule.

It looks like it might rain this weekend, so we would love to have some extra “Umbrella Greeters” in the parking lots for Saturday and Sunday.  If you would be willing to help with that, please contact Cathi in Sandown, Lisa or Dawn at North Shore, or Sunnie in Plaistow.

And most of all, don’t forget to INVITE!  Everyone needs Jesus and we have an amazing Easter Celebration planned where everyone will have the opportunity to hear the good news in a powerful way.

God bless,

Pastor Steve

On another note, some of you may know that we have outgrown our space in Amesbury. We recently put the church building on the market. The sale will allow us to relocate to a space with room for continued growth. A few days ago we received an excellent offer on the building. It is not a done deal yet, but if all goes well, we will be transitioning in the early fall. Please keep this in your prayers.

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Expectations

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Expectations

For Our Community Day of Service.  Saturday May 18    Sign up now at www.forourcommunity.org

For Our Community Day of Service. Saturday May 18 Sign up now at www.forourcommunity.org

Have you ever had your expectations broken?  Maybe you went out on a date. You really seemed to hit it off.  You expected there would be a second date.  But it never happened.  Or you went on a job interview.  It seemed to go really well. You expected a call back.  But the phone never rang.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday.  When Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem, people gathered from all around to welcome him.  They shouted and cheered.  They laid down their coats and palm branches along his path, the first century equivalent of a red carpet treatment. 

Why so extravagant welcome?  Because they had expectation of Jesus.  He would be their warrior king.  He would free them from Roman occupation.  Imagine their disappointment when he raised no army.

To the contrary, he gave up his own life as a sacrifice for others.  Sometimes it can be disappointing when our expectations are not met.  But do you know what I’ve discovered?  I’ve found that when Jesus is involved, he often exceeds our expectations in ways we never imagined.

The Jews wanted someone to save Jerusalem from occupation.  Jesus came to save all the world from sin.  They wanted to live their remaining years with their own ruler.  Jesus wanted them to live eternally with God. 

When we are disappointed by something, when our expectations are not met, sometimes it can be hard to see in the moment how God might be in that.  But as it says in Romans 8:28 “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.” 

When that date doesn’t work out, it’s hard to see that God is preparing the way for someone who is perfect for us.  When we don’t land that job, it’s hard to see in the moment that God is keeping us available for the better job that he really wants for us. 

In those moments when our expectations are not met, we must trust that God has something even greater in mind for us.  This is the essence of faith, believing even when we cannot see, and trusting God even when we don’t fully understand.

Sandown Egg Hunt is this Sat. April 13. Plaistow Egg Hunt Sat. April 20. North Shore on Easter Sunday April 21

Sandown Egg Hunt is this Sat. April 13. Plaistow Egg Hunt Sat. April 20. North Shore on Easter Sunday April 21

I hope each and every one of you will be with us this week as we celebrate Palm Sunday and wrap up our Imperfect series on the life of Peter.

 God bless,

Pastor Steve

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The Power of Invitation

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The Power of Invitation

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In Proverbs 18:21 it says “The tongue has the power of life and death.”  With our words we can tear someone down and with our words we can give life.  Nowhere is that more true than in the matter of personal invitation.  There is power in invitation to offer life.

Recently we have begun making small business size invitation cards available to everyone.  The purpose of the cards is two-fold.  First, it is meant to be a reminder to all of us of the importance of personal invitation.  There are lots of ways that we seek to share the good news of Jesus.  But there is none more effective than personal invitation.

So when you receive one of those cards, I would encourage you to put it in your pocket or purse.  Or perhaps place it on your desk.  Put it in a place that you will see it regularly or feel it in your pocket when you reach for some change.  Let it be a reminder to you of the power of invitation.  One invitation to join us at the Rock could be the turning point in someone’s life.  It could be the first step in a new journey of faith

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The card is also meant to be a resource.  Keep one handy at all times.  You never know when God will open a door for invitation.  After you have invited that person to join you this Sunday (or Thursday night Dinner Church or Celebrate Recovery) hand them the card so the will have a reminder of the name of the church, our locations and a website where they can find more information. 

The tongue has the power of life.  When we speak a word of invitation, we are offering life, new life, abundant life in Christ.  Who will you invite this week?

 God bless,

Pastor Steve

Speaking of invitation, we have Easter Egg hunts coming up soon! These are a great opportunity to invite friends and neighbors with children. We are still in need of candy. If you would like to help with this, please bring a bag or two this Sunday.

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Urgency

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Urgency

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Do you ever think about the power of words.  About a month ago, I shared in my blog that God was beginning to place certain words in my heart and mind.  One such word that we talked about was synergy.  This past Sunday I shared another word that keeps coming back to me.  That word is URGENCY. 

Perhaps you are beginning to feel as I do that there is an urgency to the work that Jesus has called us to.  There is an urgent need to bring hope to a hurting world.  There is an urgency to bring love and compassion to the broken.  And there is an urgency to share what we call “The Gospel,” the good news that God so loved the world that he sent his son to be our savior.

I know that some of this urgency comes from my end.  In my mind I’m still 20.  But the calendar and the mirror say otherwise. And with each passing season I feel a greater and greater need to become bold in my faith and fearless in my proclamation.  Life is short.  I want to use every bit of it to do the work of Jesus and to share the hope of the resurrection.

Do you ever feel that way?   Personally, my desire is that this urgency that God is welling up within me will lead to other words.  Words like courage, boldness, risk and perseverance.

We have a wonderful gift in Christ. We have the greatest news ever shared and the greatest hope our world has ever known.  My prayer is that we will all sense an urgency to share the love of Jesus every day, and in every way, we possibly can.

Have a great week.  Join us this Sunday as we continue our series “Imperfect” learning powerful lessons from the life of the apostle Peter.

 God bless,

Pastor Steve

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Can't help but share. . .

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Can't help but share. . .

I’ve been reading in the book of Acts this week during my morning prayer time. In chapter 4 there is a great story about Peter and John being dragged before the Jewish rulers.  Peter had just healed a man,  and the 3000 who accepted Christ at Pentecost had already grown to 5000 converts.

Christian community puts the joy in life. Have you found a LifeGroup?

Christian community puts the joy in life. Have you found a LifeGroup?

The high priest, rulers and elders were beside themselves.  This whole Jesus movement was getting out of control.  They were not sure what to do, but they knew they must do something.  So after a night in jail, Peter and John were dragged before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling council).  Following an interrogation, they were commanded never to speak or teach in the name of Jesus again. 

I love their reply, found in Acts 4:19-20.  “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him?  As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 

Have you ever had something you just couldn’t help but talk about?  Perhaps it was a new restaurant you visited or a movie you were blown away by?    I still remember Superbowl LI when the Patriots came back from a 25 point deficit to win in overtime.  People couldn’t help but talk about it for days, even weeks. 

For the disciples, that was Jesus.  After hearing him teach, watching him heal, witnessing his resurrection, they couldn’t help but share the good news about him.  What they had experienced in Jesus had so transformed their lives that they just couldn’t keep themselves from telling others about him. 

That’s how I want to live.  I desire a life so transformed by the gospel, so impacted by Jesus, that I can’t help but share him.  For the disciples, there were many forces that sought to silence them.  And even in our culture today, there are those who would seek to suppress the proclamation of the gospel.

But may it be said of us that we have been so powerfully transformed by the love and forgiveness of Christ that we can’t help but tell everyone!

Have a blessed week.  I look forward to having us all together this weekend as we continue to explore the life of Peter.  You won’t want to miss it. 

 God bless,

Pastor Steve

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Called

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Called

   This week at Rock Church we began a new series on the Life of Peter.  Peter was the first disciple called by Jesus.  For Peter, everything began with this calling.  As we dig into that story, we see that Peter was called not only to follow Jesus, but to serve him.  In the years that followed, Peter would use his unique gifts, talents and abilities to serve God in ways that would change the world.

Mark Your Calendar.  For Our Community Day will be May 18th!

Mark Your Calendar. For Our Community Day will be May 18th!

     You and I are the ones called by Christ to be world changers in this generation!  God has poured wonderful, unique gifts and talents into each of us that are meant to be used for the work of Christ.  One of our core convictions at Rock Church is that everyone is gifted to serve.  When we serve Christ, we have the opportunity to be a part of something that is not only changing the world here and now, but is shaping people's eternity. 

     My heart's desire is that every one of us would find our special place in the work of Christ and his church.  I believe we all want to know that we have invested our lives in something truly significant.  There is such a sense of joy, satisfaction and purpose that comes from being a part of the work of God's kingdom, that I would want every person to have that experience.

     However, I have discovered that there are certain "myths" that sometimes keep us from having that experience.

Myth #1:  I want to serve, but I don't have time.   I know we are all super busy.  But God gives us enough time to do the things he calls and equips us to do.  In fact, there are many ways to serve that only require an hour or two a month, but are still a very important component of our church's ministry.  If we make the decision to serve, God will help us make the time.

Myth #2:  I have no special skills.  That is a lie from the enemy.  Everyone of us has God given gifts and talents that are needed in his work.  In fact, there are things that you would be good at that you haven't even discovered yet.  But as you respond to God's calling, those gifts will begin to emerge within you.

Myth #3:  I'm not needed.  Sometimes we look at the work of the church and it seems like everything is covered. It is easy to assume from initial appearance that the ministry is fully staff.  This is also not true.  At this very moment we could use additional help in hospitality, coffee prep, children's ministry, youth ministry, administrative work and care ministry. We need people to sing, play instruments, operate the sound board, run the worship computer and assist with livestream.  We need photographers, gardeners, cooks and carpenters.  Can you set up tables, move chairs, make phone calls, send greeting cards, vacuum or clean.  We need you!  There are more ways to serve in the church than you could ever imagine, and there is always room for more on the team. 

      Like Peter, you and I are called.  We are called to follow Jesus and we are called to serve him.  I know that everyone of you has something beautiful and precious to share in the work of Christ.  There is no greater joy or satisfaction than to be a part of the world changing work of God's kingdom.  If you have not found a place to jump in, please talk with your campus pastor or another ministry leader and we can help you get started.

    Have a great week.  I look forward to us all being together this Sunday as we continue our series on the life of Peter "Imperfect."

   God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Imperfect

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Imperfect

Have you ever looked at your own life and wondered "Why would God ever use the likes of me?"  Personally, I want to be used of God. I want to be a part of building his kingdom and fulfilling his mission. I pray I can be a significant part of the work of Christ. But then I look inward and think about the many ways I've messed up. I look at my own brokenness, my hang ups and my failings.

I think about the times I could have been courageous but instead was fearful, times I should have trusted God but doubted, moments I missed great opportunities to serve him. I suspect many of us have had those moments.  Our shortcomings and our imperfections cause us to doubt if God would really have a place for us in his kingdom work.

But the good news is that God is in the habit of using ordinary people, with all of our struggles, shortcomings and sin, to do great things. God seems to delight in using cracked vessels to bring living water into the world. And nowhere is that more evident than in the life of the apostle Peter.

Peter, the very first disciple that Jesus called, was an ordinary fisherman. He was no one special in the eyes of the world. He made mistakes. He was brash and outspoken, and yet at times fearful. At some of the most critical moments of his life he failed, even denied, Jesus.  In a word, he was imperfect. Yet Jesus called him to follow, and used him to build the very foundation of his church.

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Today is the beginning of Lent. Lent is that season of preparation leading up to the celebration of Easter. This Sunday we will begin a new series entitled "Imperfect."  In this series we will dig into the life Peter. Beginning with his call, we will follow Peter's journey of faith and his life with Christ.

I know you are going find Peter’s story both encouraging and inspiring as it is a powerful reminder of how God uses the ordinary and the imperfect to accomplish great things. We can see in the ways that Jesus uses Peter that, in spite of our frailties, every one of us has the potential to be world changers. I hope you will do all that you can to be with us in worship in these coming weeks for this important and impactful series.

Also, don't forget to change your clocks this Saturday night. It is "spring forward" so turn your clocks ahead. I know that puts worship an hour earlier, but we will have coffee ready when you arrive!

Have a great week.

God bless,

Pastor Steve

On another note, if you are not currently in a life group, we are launching a new 6-week study on the Lord's prayer. This brand new group begins this Sunday at our Plaistow campus at 4:45 pm.  This new group will combine engaging video based teaching with the opportunity for honest questions and dialogue. Walk-ins are welcome, but if you would like to pre-register, please drop a quick email to Sherry Lucia.

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Synergy

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Synergy

Can I share with you one of my favorite words? Its synergy.  In its simplest terms, synergy is the concept that we can do more together than we could ever do separately. In other words, when you put us together, the result is greater than the sum of the parts. In math, 1+1+1=3. But in ministry, with the synergy that comes from our combined gifts and abilities, 1+1+1 can equal 5, or 10 or 20 lives changed.

This is why I love being a multi-site church. Because of the sharing of gifts, resources, talents and abilities across our ministry, we are able to accomplish so much more for the kingdom of God then we could ever as three individual churches. For example, this week was our monthly women's event "Grow." I heard from a number of people how awesome and impactful that program was on Monday.  We were able to offer a program of that caliber because of the synergy of women from all of our campuses sharing their gifts for a single purpose. It allowed us to offer an opportunity for spiritual growth that none of our campus as individual churches could ever have done. That is just one example, of course. We see that synergy expressed over and over again at Rock Church. And every time that happens, we are able to have a greater impact for the kingdom of God than we ever could have otherwise.

One of my priorities for us in this coming year is to continue to build on our synergy. My goal is to find greater and greater ways that we can multiply the gifts that God has given us here at Rock Church for the greatest kingdom impact possible. For us to see that great impact, there are a number of things we can do in order to build synergy.

Mark your calendar: For Our Community Day 2019 will be held on Saturday May 18,

Mark your calendar: For Our Community Day 2019 will be held on Saturday May 18,

  •    We can constantly remind ourselves that here a Rock Church we are ONE Church in many locations.

  •   When we share our gifts, we can think about the impact we can have ministry wide, not just in our campus.

  •    We can network across locations, using our gifts in combination with others.

  •    We can share resources, supplies, equipment and space across campuses in a way that strengthens our overall work.

  •    We can collaborate across ministry areas in a way that advances our overall mission.

Well, you get the idea. With a little thought and creativity you can probably come up with a dozen more ways we can build synergy. In the end, what matters is the mission.  God has called us to the great work of bringing the hope of Christ to many who do not yet know him. It's a big job. But when we pull our gifts and resources together in a way that creates synergy, we can accomplish more for Christ than we ever imagined.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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In Just Four Weeks . . .

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In Just Four Weeks . . .

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In exactly four weeks it will be the first day of spring! That means at least three important things. The days will be longer. The birds will be singing. And our "For Our Community Day" will be right around the corner. Last year, for the very first time, we organized this massive community service day. We had hundreds of volunteers spread over dozens of community service projects, all intended to bless our communities.

This year we hope to grow it even bigger. But we will need your help. A project of this size requires an amazing team of people to serve in various capacities before, during and after the event.  Here are some of the ways you could help us make this event even greater than last year.

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  • We need team leaders. We need people who can help before the event to plan projects, logistics, marketing, food, set up, break down and more. We also need many site leaders to oversee the teams on the day of the work.

  • We need projects. If you are aware of a potential service project, we want to hear about it. We would love to double the number of projects we were able to do last year.  You can help us identify new additional projects.

  • We need donations. We will need donations of water and snacks for the work teams and dessert for the barbecue after the work is done. We would also welcome financial donations for supplies and other expenses.

  • We need participants. That means two things. First, of course, we need you to plan to join us on that day. We would also love it if you would invite your friend, neighbor or co-worker. This event is not only about the work we accomplished. It is also about doing it together with our neighbors in a way that allows churched and "not yet churched" folks to build relationships.

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There is one more thing you can do. This Saturday morning we will have our first planning meeting. If you think you might like to help in any way in preparing the event, if you might consider being a team leader, or if you just want to hear more about the event, we invite you to join us this Saturday at 9 a.m. at our Plastow campus.

I believe this will be an amazingly impactful outreach event. Mark your calendars for Saturday May 18th. You will absolutely not want to miss this.

God Bless,

Pastor Steve

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Love is . . .

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Love is . . .

Can you imagine how this could change the world? That was the question I ended my message with on Sunday. After working phrase by phrase through the Apostle Paul’s description of what love is, I couldn’t help but ask “What if?” In the 13th chapter of his first letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul explains to them that love is patient, love is kind, love is humble, it seeks what is best for others. It is not easily angered. Love forgives. Can you imagine how it would impact our relationships, our families, our workplaces and our communities, if every one of us actually loved one another with the kind of love that Jesus has shown us?

Save the Date:  For Our Community Day 2019 will be Saturday May 18.

Save the Date: For Our Community Day 2019 will be Saturday May 18.

We are living in a world where many are not patient, are not kind to one another, are not humble. We are living in a culture of offense where people are quick to become angry and slow to forgive. In our world, people are often more concerned about themselves than they are about others. But what if we could flip that narrative? From its very beginning, the Christian faith has been a movement of love. This was the example Jesus gave us. Love is at the heart of the writings of Paul, John and others. Love IS the movement.

Every movement starts somewhere. What if this one started with us? By us I mean you and I, our church, our community. Can you imagine the difference that would make, the impact it would have, if we genuinely treated one another with the kind of love that Paul describes in this passage? It would be transformational. It would be revolutionary. So here is my idea. Let’s begin in the most natural place. Lets begin in our families; our biological families and our church family. In our homes, with our families, let’s treat one another with extraordinary patience, kindness and humility. Let’s be slow to become angry and quick to forgive. Let us love our families as Christ has loved us.

And in our church family, right here in Rock Church, let us display the radical love of Christ in how we treat one another, in how we speak to others and how we speak about them. Let us choose to live unoffended. Let us be a people of extreme grace. After all, that is what Jesus has done for us. Let us build one another up in love (I Thes. 5:11). Let us support and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we could truly one another with this selfless love of Jesus, not only would it be life changing to each of us, but it would be irresistible to those who do not yet know Jesus. There is nothing more winsome, more invitational, than a body of believers who truly love one another.

I pray that our whole family, each and every one of us, will be together this week in worship as we continue our series “Love Is . . . “

God bless,

Pastor Steve

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Everyone is meant to Grow...

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Everyone is meant to Grow...

Dear Friends,

Did you know that at any given moment we have between 30 and 40 LifeGroups meeting here at Rock Church? Many of those meet in one of our buildings, but we also have quite a number that gather in people's homes. At last count over half of our active adults were engaged in a life group. That’s awesome!

Let me tell you why I'm so excited about that. LifeGroups are at the very heart of our mission. At Rock Church, the mission is to reach and disciple people for Christ. The "reach" is all about connecting people to Jesus who do not yet know him. Or perhaps reconnecting those who have wandered away from an active relationship with him. The "disciple" part of our mission is all about helping people who have come to know Jesus to grow deeper in their faith. This is where life groups become so important. Life groups at Rock Church are a place where believers, and even seekers, can develop relationships with other Christ followers. They are a place where we can love and care for one another by doing life together. They are also a place where we can dig into the word of God and grow deeper in our understanding of the Christian faith. Ultimately, life groups are your best opportunity to grow and mature in Christ.

So I'm very excited about how many of you have already found your way into a LifeGroup (some of you two or three groups!)  And I am grateful for all of you who lead groups, and those of you who open your homes to host groups. I am also so appreciative of the leadership that Ed and Sherry Lucia give to our LifeGroup ministry. LifeGroups are such a wonderful place of community and growth that I often hear people say that it is the highlight of their week.  Honestly, I would love for every person in our congregation to have that same experience. If you are not yet in a LifeGroup, I hope you will check out the opportunities at www.RockLifeGroups.org. There are so many groups gathering at different times, and on different days, that there is bound to be something that fits your schedule. From time to time we also offer short-term groups. These short term opportunities are a great way to sample LifeGroups and discover what they are all about.

We have a saying here at Rock Church.  "Everyone is meant to grow."  I believe it is God's desires that every one of us would grow deeper in relationship with him and in our love for one another.  LifeGroups are one of the best opportunities we have to do just that.

Have a great week. Don’t forget that we are at day 30 of our prayer challenge.  Please consider making LifeGroups a special focus of your intentional prayer time today.

God bless,

Pastor Steve

PS Here are some exciting opportunities this Saturday:

Rock Church Tech Team is looking for Volunteers!

Benefits include:
Early Entrance to music events/services, Reserved Seating, Backstage Passes and Wi-Fi Access!

Looking for volunteers for ALL campuses in ALL areas
Sound - Projection/Video - Lighting
More info at the Volunteer Invitational
Sat, Feb 9th at 10 am at the Plaistow Campus

The Tech Team works in conjunction with our Music Ministry to inspire people to pursue God through worship and creativity.  Our goal is to create an atmosphere conducive to worship without distraction.

The Trust Without Borders Mission Team invites you to Celebrate Love

Join us at Rock Church North Shore in Amesbury, MA on February 9th, 2019 5:30 -10:00 PM for an evening of quality time with your loved one, meeting other couples and learning to dance.

Heidi and Larry Mongeau have taught various dance classes professionally for over 15 years. They will be teaching a dance called “The Nightclub Two Step”. Don’t wait get your tickets today!!! Tickets Start $30

See a team member or email Jessica Pontes @ jpontes320@aol.com for details.

 

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A Good Time to Say Thank You!

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A Good Time to Say Thank You!

Dear Friends,

Sunday, for the first time in a very long time, we canceled worship at all locations. I have to confess, I really didn't want to. I hate to use the word hate, but I hate missing worship. I love seeing everyone. I love being together. And I love it when we worship God together as a family. But what really tip the scale for me was the recognition that it takes dozens and dozens of volunteers to fully staff our Sunday morning experiences. Plow trucks and shovelers, musicians and hospitality teams, nursery workers and children's ministry, life group leaders and worship leaders, the list goes on and on.

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And to be honest, my concern was not that our volunteer servants would not show up. To the contrary, I was concerned that many would come out in spite of the dangerous conditions. We have an amazing team of people who are incredibly committed, and I just didn't want to put any of our folks in harm's way driving in the snow, sleet and freezing rain. That got me thinking about how blessed we are to have such great, sacrificial servants in our ministry. I could not be more proud of, or more grateful for, the hundreds of folks in our church who have found a place to invest their time, talents and gifts in the service of Christ and his church.

So I think this would be a great time to say thank you.

  • Thank you to the people who keep our parking lots cleared, our walkways shoveled and our buildings in great shape.

  • Thank you to our hospitality teams, to those who prepare food, and our baristas who make coffee every week.

  • Thank you to our nursery workers, children's and youth ministry volunteers who pour faith into the next generation.

  • Thank you to our small group leaders who create community and lead our discipleship efforts.

  • Thank you to our musicians and worship leaders who prepare every week to bring us into the presence of God through Sunday worship, CR and Thursday Dinner Church.

  • Thank you to our prayer teams who intercede for our ministry and who pray with those in need every week.

  • Thank you to those in our care ministry, our mission teams and others in outreach who show the love of Jesus to the hurting, the lost and the lonely.

  • And thank you to countless other servants of Christ who work in greatly unseen and unheralded supportive roles that make the ministry of Rock Church possible.

     I love and appreciate every one of you.

At Rock Church we believe that every person is gifted to serve. You have gifts and abilities that are needed for the work of Christ. If you've not yet found your place of service, I would invite you to speak with a ministry leader or your Campus Pastor. They will gladly help you find a place on the team.

In Christ,

Pastor Steve

PS, this is a great time to mention the 'Tech Team Info Fair.’  Come and explore what is involved in joining this amazing team of volunteers who work behind the scenes to make all things tech awesome at Rock Church.  This will take place on Saturday February 9th at 10 am at our Plaistow Campus. If you think you might be interested in serving in this area, we invite you to come and hear these opportunities

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A Powerful Combination

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A Powerful Combination

Dear Friends,

     We are just over a week into our 60 day prayer challenge.  How's it going?   If your life is anything like mine, you probably have had some days when it went great, and some days when it didn't go as well.  I will confess to you that there are days when I get distracted.  There are days when I have early appointments that I feel like I rushed my prayer time.  For those days when it doesn't go as well, I just want to encourage you to hang in there, stay the course, keep at it.

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     In time, this practice of morning prayer will become a rhythm in your life.  In fact, it will come easier and easier as it becomes a more natural part of your daily routine.  I see daily prayer in much the same way as I see weekly worship.  I've found that over time, weekly worship has become so much a part of the rhythm of my life that I could not imagine missing it.  In the same way that prayer helps me to get my day off to a great start, worship becomes the foundation of my week.  

     There is something about coming together with your church family that is renewing.  The time spent in community with people I love, and the time spent in worship of the God I love, has a way of restoring my strength and refreshing my hope. In fact, like daily prayer, I believe weekly worship is a game changer!  

     I know that life is super busy and there are a lot of things vying for our time.  But as we continue into this new year, I would like to encourage you to make weekly worship as much a part of the rhythm of your life as we are beginning to make daily prayer.  Together these two make a powerful combination for a great life!

     I also want to remind you that when you gather with your church family in worship, it is more than just a blessing to you.  You are also a blessing to others.  You bring something beautiful, important and precious to all of us.

     Finally, I want to remind us that we are launching our new schedule at our newly combined Rock Church North Shore campus this Sunday.  The new schedule will include two Sunday morning times, 8:30 and 10:45 am along with Tuesday night CR and Thursday night dinner church.

     I look forward to us all being together this weekend as we continue our series "Game Changers."  I promise it will not only be a blessing to you, but you will be a blessing to others.

In Christ,

 Steve

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Prayer is the Game Changer!

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Prayer is the Game Changer!

Dear Friends,

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I am blown away by how many of you responded to the invitation on Sunday to commit to pray EVERY day for the next 60 days.  If you were at one of the Rock locations or watching online, you will remember that there were some key components to your decision.  This is to be dedicated time, set aside for just you and God.  We encouraged you to take this time at the very beginning of your day so it could set the tone and provide a spiritual foundation to all you do.  And we suggested 5 areas of focus for your prayer: your family, your church, those in need, those who do not yet know Jesus and yourself. 

How’s it going so far?   Have you been able to do it each day?  If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up.  Just start again tomorrow.  The important thing is to stay the course.  The series we are in right now is called Game Changers.  And I absolutely believe that prayer will be a game changer for us if we can make it a part of our daily rhythm, every day, to spend time in the morning in an intentional conversation with God.

It will be a game changer in your personal life as you approach every day with the godly attitude and the heart of Christ that comes from having spent time in the presence of God.  It will give you strength and perseverance for the challenges of life.  It will give you a heart of love and a spirit of joy that you can bring into every relationship and encounter you will have.

But I also believe it will be a game changer for our church.  Hundreds and hundreds of you made this commitment in person on Sunday. And I’m discovering that many more of you who were attending via the live stream made the same commitment.  If hundreds of us will come together every morning in prayer for our church, our leaders and our mission I have no doubt that you will shake the gates of hell and help to bring the kingdom of God on earth!

I hope every one of us can be together in worship this Sunday as we continue this Game Changer series.

God bless,

     Pastor Steve

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The Best Year Yet!

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The Best Year Yet!

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Dear Friends,

I love the start of a new year. I mentioned in last week's blog that I am an eternal optimist. I believe that in Christ all things are possible. As such, the new year is ripe with potential and possibility.  In fact, I'm convinced that this year is going to be the best year yet. I believe it's going to be a great year for Rock Church and the life-changing work that God has called us to. But I also believe it can be the best year yet for you and I.

By the way, that is not hype. I believe that this will be our best year yet at Rock Church because we are going to fulfill our mission with greater impact than we ever have. We are going to reach out in new ways, we are going to take risks, we are going to see more people come to Christ and grow deeper in faith than we ever have. For example, did you see what is happening in Amesbury and Newburyport? Rock Church's North Shore campus is about to be born. It's going to be awesome! And I believe this is just the beginning of what God has for us this year!

But more than a great year for Rock Church, I want this to be a great year for you. I want to see God work in your life in richer, fuller and more powerful ways than you have ever experienced. I want your relationships to be the best they've ever been.  If there are areas of your life were you have been held in bondage, I believe this is the year for freedom. I want this to be the year you grow deeper in love with Jesus than you have ever been. I want to see you prosper in life in more significant ways than you have ever known. I truly want this to be your best year yet.

To get us started in the right direction we have just launched into a new series entitled "Game Changers."  In this series we will talk about five choices, five key decisions, you can make that will make this year your best yet. If you missed the first message, you can catch it at rockchurch.news.  This Sunday we will be talking about a decision, a step, that is so essential that I would invite every man, woman and child in our congregation to implement it. This decision literally applies to every one of us. We can all do it. And it is a game-changer!

I want to wish each one of you God's joy, hope, peace and prosperity in 2019.

   In Christ,
Pastor Steve

On a personal note, please keep John Sainsbury and his family in your prayers. Naomi passed away a couple of days ago. There will be a celebration of her life at our Plaistow campus on Saturday, Jan 5. There will be time to visit with the family at 10 am, the service will be at 11 am.

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