Sun, Dec 13, 2020
Total Reading Time: 4 mins 30 secs (Sorry, again, for ’tis a bit more than I said in today’s pre-sermon verbiage.)
A Number of Items of Note
Coffee Convos: Current Plans & Future Vision — This Wednesday’s Coffee Convo at 7:30p is the last one for 2020, after which we’ll take a break till we pick up again the first Wednesday of 2021. If you missed it, we had a great convo with our own Sonya Higgs, so check out the replay on our app under “Watch”. This Wed we chat with FCCer Mike Schubert, Father of 6 and Elder. A quick word on some upcoming vision for Coffee Convos. Beginning with 2021, we are going to be expanding our reach a smidge to include some non-FCCers about half the time. We wanna hear about what God is doing in other churches and beyond, so we are going to try including Pastor friends and other non-FCCers whose lives are making a difference in our community. Cool, huh?!
Heads Up re Brown Bags & Bibles (& Books!) — We are going to wrap up The Gathering Storm, by Al Mohler, the next two Tuesdays, Dec 15 & 22, and then take a break for a couple weeks. We’re gonna be teaching and discussing some cool doctrinal stuff so stay tuned for future plans.
Two Services Starts Next Week & Elders Quarterly Update Letter — If you haven’t yet heard about the new times next week or received the letter at home, (was sent last Thu/Fri), check it out on the “Pulse” tab on the app. It’s got a good little recap of 2020 that’s a helpful read, with a few upcoming matters you’ll want to know about. (I’m sorry, grammarians/Mom/Dad. This is a point about which a recent book convinced me to relax this rule a smidge.)
2021 Budget Now Live — You can check out the overview at fccgreene.org/2021budget. The Elders, paid staff, and key volunteer leaders worked for a month to plan for next year. A couple items of note:
- Make sure to read the “Notes”. There are a few important explanations.
- I forgot to include a small thing or two, so it is 1.77% less than 2020’s Budget and not 2.4% less, as noted in the Elders Quarterly Update Letter.
- I also failed to give some context for our overall financial picture.The basic gist is that (a) giving is a smidge down during Covid compared to the same period last year (by a couple percentage points), but (b) overall 2020 giving has been better than 2019 (by about 4.5%), (c) we are in the black when it comes to income versus expenses by about 7.5%, (black is good, red is bad), (d) we have no debt, and (e) are slowly building adequate emergency and multisite funds. So we are well-positioned to keep moving forward with our vision to launch another campus as God blesses! We are financially healthy thanks to your faithfulness in pursuing generosity.
7 Days of Prayer — The last couple (or few?) years we have used the two transition Sundays at the end/beginning of the old/new year to focus on the two daily rhythms of prayer and Word. (See the 2-minute video on Habit #4 under “Next Steps” on the app.) Our Campus Pastors will be preaching on prayer and Word those two Sundays and our Residents will be leading our daily 7 Days of Prayer devotional times. Go to https://fccgreene.org/7dop for more and make plans to kick off 2021 with deeper intimacy with the Father.
2021 Sermon Series… kicks off with… I dunno yet. Am simmering on a few possibilities. Will be a book or large section of Scripture. (I basically almost detest preaching through topics, frankly. But, Christmas is kind of a thing, so…)
A Quick Word on the Elders’ ”Position” on the Long-Term Distinctions Between In-Person and Online Services
A few folks have asked here and there, so thought I’d briefly address this. This is me talking—half officially, half not—trying to represent the germane discussion accurately, so don’t receive this as an official Elders’ “position paper.” (Nevertheless, it accurately represents our basic position and working trajectory!)
No, there is not and never has been any intent to make the digital or online content and experience a long-term replacement for in-person community. Since the very beginning of Covid, the Elders decided, given we were rapidly entering an unknown world where any institution with a hope of a thriving future must learn to digitally adjust, that we would try to do the same so we would be stronger after Covid passed. For us that means continuing to adapt to an increasingly digital environment with doctrinal integrity that keeps our mission intact. So, early on in Covid, the Elders’ discussion was centered around ensuring that we would eventually make a clearer distinction between online and in-person worship in order to make explicit that online is not what we believe is the most biblical and helpful model of the church gathering. (The New Testament word “ekklesia”, translated “church”, means “assembly”. Just ask Tyndale.) So, in practical terms, that means we continue to learn and leverage an online strategy that points people to bodily involvement in the local body, but… (and this is an important point)… since we have so many FCCers who have chosen to remain home, we are slowly and wisely managing the move toward that by not yet removing “online communion”, (which is a weird oxymoronic idea when you think about it), not yet as pointedly focusing on inviting the online audience to attend a local church in-person, and continuing to orient the online hosts to the online audience, (which won’t go away), but… we are soon removing a song and lengthening the sermon, so just wanted you to know… all that.
Couple Quick Thoughts & Lessons Learned (Particularly from Leading Through Covid)
- The unprecedented luxury, material control, and ease of access to legal addictions by which the average American “lives” are the greatest threat to moral integrity in history. (You heard it here first, folks.)
- While this kind of thinking has been on the rise for years, Covid is accelerating it: Church is no longer a commitment but just another voluntary co-operative option among many. (“Voluntary co-op” idea stolen from Carl Trueman, whose book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self is a really important and helpful book, though this phrase doesn’t come from this book. Just mentioning it along the way.) This voluntary co-op notion of church is an unbiblical idea born of a culture of radical autonomy rooted in a therapeutic definition of self. (Another important book is Philip Rieff’s The Triumph of the Therapeutic.) I mean, who needs the accountability and sanctification of others when I can manipulate my environment to mollify my grief and satisfy my desires best by choosing what I want instead of what I need?! Blech—what selfish and ungodly rubbish rooted in self-righteousness! (Relax, FCCers who are immunocompromised and/or sick and staying home still, I’m not talking about you. :o) This is long-term, big picture, abstract thinking (because, well, that’s what I do and who I am.)) Whether this shoe fits certainly may or may not be something I’m well-positioned to know. So relax, it isn’t automatically nor necessarily an indictment of you, personally.) Nevertheless, it’s worth all of us considering for ourselves.