Pastor Paul’s Ponderings – Worship in the Park Blessings!
Hello New Hope!
You ever heard of a “good tired”? Well that is what I had by the time I got home Sunday (and I’m sure many of you did as well). I was totally exhausted but my heart was overflowing! On a day when it would have been easy to say, “Let’s cancel and just have everything where we usually do”, you stepped out in great faith and with tremendous enthusiasm. As a result we experienced a wonderful outpouring of God’s Spirit! We scheduled to begin loading everything at New Hope at 7:30. At 7:15 the rain stopped! Everything was loaded, taken to the park, and set up and no rain fell. As we set up everything for the meal to be shared after service one brief shower led to placing a few table covers over the serving tables. A few drops fell as we worshiped together under the pavilion. And how about that worship! On a cloudy, rainy day in the park, sitting in chairs (most of them folding metal chairs) instead of nice padded pews, with a lectern and an electric keyboard (that was not amplified) as the only normal worship items, we worshiped in a very meaningful way. In fact I heard the following two comments repeated by many, “This was wonderful!” and “We need to do this again!” And we had several visitors join us!
In a matter of just a few minutes after worship, due to awesome preparation by many, we shared an amazing meal and time of fellowship. One couple even came from another church after their service to eat and fellowship with us. As I walked around during the meal my heart that was already filled begin to overflow as I witnessed the real fellowship that was taking place. People talking and laughing together as they truly enjoyed each others company. No one seemed in a hurry to leave and I noticed very few had left after the worship service. As we began the process of cleaning up and loading up there were so many who stayed to help. People still talking about what a wonderful time we were having together. Everything was loaded and taken back to New Hope. As the last stack of chairs was being unloaded the rain began to fall again.
Real faith is not what we do when everything goes according to plan. Real faith, the kind of faith you demonstrated on Sunday, is what we do despite things not going as planned. With joy in your heart and smiles on your faces you gave of yourselves in great love, choosing to ignore the clouds and rain and focusing on the showers of blessings from God. You have filled my heart to overflowing with a great joy!
Now, do you believe that this is only the tiniest tip of the iceberg of what God will do as we continue to step out in faith? I certainly hope so because that is what God promises. In Luke 6:38 Jesus is recorded as saying, “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, shaken down, pressed together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Faith is measured not in our thoughts, but through our giving. The more we show our faith through the giving of ourselves, both our money and our abilities, the more we will experience the amazing generosity of God. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10, “However, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, what no human mind has conceived – the things God has prepared for those who love him – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.'”
Keep on believing!
Grace and peace,
Happy Saturday New Hope!
A few folks have been asking if we are still having Worship in the Park with the forecast for rain. The answer is Yes! It may or may not rain – consider praying that it doesn’t. There is no option for an alternative date with our rental of the pavilion. There is no undoing all the preparations that have been made. Our ability to worship is not determined by the weather – physical or spiritual! In fact our commitment to worship no matter the weather is a tremendous testimony to all those around us. So make those phone calls, send those text messages, and remind all those you have invited that we will be worshiping and fellowshipping at Don Fox Park tomorrow. Here are a couple of suggestions for tomorrow. One, bring your lawn chairs. They may be more comfortable than the chairs we bring from church. Two, be ready to welcome visitors and invite them to sit with you – especially those you invited.
If you volunteered to help load things up at the church and set up at the park we have decided we need to be at the church by 7:30 a.m. if we are going to have everything set up by 9:00 a.m. Our greeters need to be there by 9:00 a.m. to be prepared to welcome our guests. There will be games both for getting up and being active and for sitting at tables so something is available for everyone.
Finally, pray, pray, pray! Pray for no rain. Pray that those who have been invited will come. Pray for all who come to feel the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Pray for those who will be leading the worship service. Pray for yourself, that God will use you to reach out to others.
Grace and peace,
I just got a text from Anita Drew, a New Hope member, and the Food Pantry Director at Wilson County Community Help Center. She wanted to let me know that New Hope donated 546 pounds of food to WCCHC in September. If my memory is working today (and I’ll make no promises about that) the New Hope family has donated right at 2,000 pounds of food over the last 3 months. You guys are amazing! This coming Sunday is our designated Sunday to bring food donations (but you can bring them every Sunday) so as you do your grocery shopping this week remember Jesus said when we feed one of the least among us we are feeding him. Items that are always in great need are pork-n-beans, canned fruit, canned soups (look for soups that have meat and/or veggies in them), canned meat (other than tuna), and crackers which make soup go further and feed more. I’ve seen what you can do when you commit to it.
I don’t know about you but I was immensely blessed on Sunday! Several minutes before service started someone grabbed me and asked if I had the worship programs (aka – bulletins) in the office. I assured them they were placed in the same place they are every Sunday. As we went together to look one of the greeters meet us and informed us we had run out of bulletins. It was one of those moments when I think – Oh no! That’s great! – at the same time. Even with some of our regular folks out our attendance was well above what we have been averaging over the last several months. Ain’t God good! Then God proceeded to continue pouring out of the Spirit as we shared together in an awesome time of worship. But wait – there’s more! Sunday evening we had the best turn out we have had in a long time for our 5th Sunday Special. Food galore was shared and wonderful fellowship was experienced as we broke bread together. Than the Spirit was at it again during a very meaningful worship experience through music. We are beginning to experience what God has promised will happen when we commit to prayer and following God’s leading. You are stepping up your game!
I came into this office today and began looking through the communication cards and other notes that are left in the offering plate on Sunday. Glory and hallelujah! I had forgotten about asking you to place the names of those you had invited to Worship in the Park in the offering plate. We prayed for those individuals during our prayer time Sunday and I am now getting ready to pray again for those people. Over 20 names were placed in the offering! I know that represents just a few of those you have invited to join us. I invite and encourage you to bring more of those names to place in the offering this Sunday so that we can continue to pray that God will be working on their hearts. I also encourage you to follow up with all those you invite on Friday or Saturday next week. If they need a ride, offer to pick them up. If they seem nervous, assure them you will be there at the park looking for them so that they will see a familiar face. If they need a ride and you can’t pick them up, let me know and transportation will be arranged. I know you probably can’t tell but I’m pretty pumped up about how God is using you to reach out to your family members, friends, neighbors, work associates and whoever else you have invited. I sure hope you plan on showing up cause I know God is going to!
God is doing something wonderful at New Hope! You are catching the fever of what God is doing! And the most wonderful part is – WE AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET!
Grace and peace,
Happy Friday New Hope!
I am so fired up and excited about what God is doing at New Hope and what God has in store for us. It is awesome to see our Worship in the Park signs as I am driving around Lebanon. When I got into the office on Tuesday I got the sign up sheet for Worship in the Park and there were only two or three slots left. Every time I see one of my New Hope family they are asking or talking about Worship in the Park. If you haven’t gotten a sign (or two or three) and put out in your yard or other locations you can get permission, then I only have one question for you – “Where’s your sign?” There are plenty more signs and stakes. This Sunday get as many as you can and get them placed this as soon as you can. Also, remember to get your invite cards and start inviting your unchurched friends, work associates, neighbors, and family members. It is going to be a great day in the park!
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. We have a wonderful evening of fellowship and worship coming up this Sunday. We’ll gather for dinner and fellowship at 5 p.m. and then move to the Worship Center for a time of worship through music. There will be some special music provided by our New Hope Choir and others from our New Hope family and a special guest as well. We will also have a time of hymn singing where you can request your favorite hymn (we may put Ben to the test on this). You are encouraged to invite folks to join us for this 5th Sunday Special as well. I also encourage you to remember during our fellowship meal to refrain from sitting together with only your own family members or with your usual group. Look around for visitors or some of our New Hope family you don’t know very well and get to know them better. It really isn’t fellowship if we are always sitting with the same people. We become a stronger family the better we get to know each other.
I am also starting to hear more people praying specifically for New Hope to grow during our prayer time on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening. I believe this is an indication that more of you are praying on a regular basis for God to provide growth. This is the most important element of church growth and the more of us that are praying and the more often we are praying for growth the more growth we will experience. A part of our prays for growth should be asking God to use each of us in any way possible to contribute to that growth. But we must also remember that the second most important element of church growth is the people who call New Hope their church home inviting others to join us. We are particularly called to reach out to those who are not in church and/or do not have a personal relationship with Jesus. It has been shown over and over again that a large majority of new people in a church come because of a personal invitation. The worship service, music, pastor’s message, and other ministries available will have an impact of who chooses to come back after a first visit. But the number one factor influencing a return visit is whether or not that first time visitor truly felt welcomed! Pray, pray, pray! Invite, invite, invite!
I look forward to worshiping with my New Hope family this Sunday!
Grace and peace,
Happy Tuesday New Hope!
Get your yard signs and your invite cards! New Hope’s Worship in the Park is coming up on Sunday, October 14 and we need to get the word out. You can help with this by getting a yard sign (or several) and placing them in your yard and other highly visible places (with permission of course). You can also take a handful of our invite cards and pass out at work, in your neighborhood, to family members, or anyone else you would like to invite. You are especially encouraged to invite folks you know who do not attend church to join us. You can also place these on community bulletin boards where you work and in places you shop. The second most important characteristic of churches that are growing is members who are regularly inviting others to worship services or other activities. The more people you invite the greater the chance that someone will accept your invitation and come. So, invite, invite, invite, invite, invite, well, you get the idea.
The most important characteristic of growing churches is that the people of the church pray on a regular basis for growth. Are you praying daily for New Hope to grow? Are you praying weekly for New Hope to grow? Are you praying at all for New Hope to grow? The amount of prayer time that you spend asking for God to provide growth to our family of believers is a significant indicator of how much you truly desire New Hope to grow. I invite you to make a commitment right now to pray daily for our New Hope Family to grow. I also invite you to begin writing down the names of those you personally invite to join us on October 14 for Worship in the Park. Put these names on a note card or piece of paper you can drop in the offering plate on Sunday morning. Then during our prayer time we will pray specifically for those individuals to accept your invitation to worship with us. If you provide the name(s) and an address, or phone number, or email address of those you have invited I will follow up your invitation with a personal invitation from me. Let us be committed to praying for growth individually and together.
Here are some other things that are needed to make Worship in the Park as successful as possible. First, a commitment from every person who calls New Hope their church home to be there. Second, we need 6 able bodied individuals to be at New Hope at 7 a.m. on October 14 to load, transport, and set up tables, chairs and other items needed for our day in the park. Third, we need 4 or 5 people who will be responsible for getting the food and beverage items needed to provide hot dogs and drinks for everyone who attends as well as extra to give away to other visitors in the park. Four, we need 2 or 3 people who will be responsible for getting several games together (corn hole, frisbees, ring toss, maybe some board games or cards) for all age groups and have these ready for us to use after worship and lunch. Five, we need several people who can bring side dishes that can be brought in coolers and served cold (slaw, potato salad, pasta salad, etc) and desserts that do not need to be kept warm or heated (cookies are ideal and home-made are better than store bought). Six, 8 people who can be there by 9:00 a.m. to serve as greeters (we need people in the parking lot as well as just outside the pavilion). Finally, we will need at least 6 able bodied persons to load everything back up, transport it, and put it back where it belongs at New Hope. There will be an opportunity to sign up for these needs starting this Sunday. Be sure to volunteer for at least one of these areas of need.
The schedule for Worship in the Park is: Sunday School – 9:00 a.m.; Worship – 10:00 a.m.; lunch – immediately after worship; activities – immediately after lunch and continuing as long as you want to stay (we have the pavilion reserved from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). We will be in Pavilion 1 and will have a New Hope Banner stretched across the front.
I believe that God will do amazing things through us as we commit ourselves to this wonderful ministry opportunity!
Grace and peace,