Sun, Apr 04, 2021
Holy moly, (what on earth does “moly” mean anyway?), there are about 27 things to cover, so I’ll (try to be) absurdly brief and fill in further needed detail over time.
Friendly reminder, especially for our many new peeps… Scott’s Thoughts (ST) is a weekly(ish) place, (usu Sun mornings), where I can help keep us all on the same page, touch on things not well covered in other outlets, mention important churchwide initiatives, fill-in detail gaps I see, name wins we’re seeing, spread vision, occasionally give some devotional or pastoral encouragement, and generally to communicate what’s on my heart as Pastor at FCC. And it’s usually quite brief and easily digestible. (<— New peeps, that’s a total lie. I’m neither brief nor digestible. <— That’s a joke. We joke around here. (Tho clearly not effectively.) Nonetheless, it’s ok to enjoy life as a Christian. I am sarcastic and self-deprecating. You can be, too.)
Thank You, Awesome Easter Volunteers (and Staff)! – It takes a lot of extra work to make extra services happen. Bigtime thanks to our awesome volunteers (and paid staff) who have jumped in to serve and put in some extra sweat during an Easter week that comes during an already stressful season that has provided many extra opportunities. ( <— That’s what my wife calls them, “opportunities”.) It’s all been a little “extra” lately, we preaching yet?! So, while a lot of folks in our local community seem quick to attribute our church’s growth to cool graphics and videos, slick social media feed, ubiquitous car stickers, (and duh, the obvious attraction of our preaching and theologically conservative doctrinal positions), we FCCers know better, don’t we?! ;o) Much of our growth and health is because we have all-in and sold-out volunteers who consistently serve in largely unheralded ways that ”fill up the pitcher for the next person” (old FCC sermon illustration): coming early to setup, filling sudden gaps, working an extra service, anticipating guests’ needs, picking up a broom, grabbing trash on the sidewalk, praying before/during/after, coming prepared, smiling as if we are actually glad to see you and salvation in Christ is real, teaching kids and students, playing instruments, pressing knobs, asking someone new to join your Life Group, praying for your insecure and always überwhelmed Lead Pastor, taking communion to shut-ins, the list could go on and on… . It’s our faithful FCC peeps who do all these things and more “as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). They make this church go, humbly serving, week-after-week, with the kind of excellence that embodies our Team Code! I am so grateful for your dedication to Serve on the team! #tears (pronounced like “fears”, not “fares”)
FCC Looks Different Than Some of You May Remember – Just a quick heads up… As many longtime FCCers continue to trickle in, you will likely notice that, as you look around, you don’t recognize easily one-third to half of the people around you. That’s because, rough estimate, a easily one-third of our present attendance is brand new in the last 6-9 months. So, this implies a number of things that may need your attention, many of them for both brand-new FCCers and veterans: introducing yourself, helping new folks learn the ropes, jumping in to serve somewhere, recommitting to your Life Group or finding or starting a new one, or thinking about baptism or membership. Whether you like it or not, are aware of it or not, see it or don’t, just about every church is dealing with major reshuffling like this. Our health and strength to move forward will depend, in large measure, to how we adapt. So, if you’re a veteran FCCer whose been around the last 6-9 months, please help us continue to welcome new peeps and get them involved. If you’re a new FCCer within the last 6-9 months, let us know how we can help you. If you’re ready, jump in. If not, take your time. Also, don’t assume everyone else is a veteran because many are not! If you’re a veteran FCCer who has just recently come back in the last month or so or you still haven’t yet, you will be helped by thinking about your own involvement a smidge if you put on some new-person glasses because some relationships have changed, some people have moved on, and you’ll likely need to recommit to some things.
More Thanks in Order – Our 5th Habit is Pursue generosity. We believe that when we faithfully steward God’s financial resources, the result is personal, corporate, and community growth. God multiplies our giving for His Kingdom purposes. Just a quick thanks to so many who have given faithfully for many years as well as a number of new folks who have jumped in and begun to faithfully Pursue generosity with us. This is a comfort to me that God’s in our work together. We’re about to take a couple dozen staff and volunteers to a church leadership conference at Watermark Church in Dallas (churchleadersconference.com, if you wanna see more) and though we budget for it, it’s not a small expense, so I’ve been kinda freaking out about it because we need to rent an extra 15-passenger van, etc., but we’re financially healthy, running a surplus so far during 2021, (I’ll leave that detail for a later ST, after we know where we are after the first quarter), and because of your faithfulness, we can keep training our people well, creating team morale, and I can sleep at night (because that’s obviously why you give, right?!) So thank you.
Sheesh, already way too many words and I’m 2 items in. (“Well if you didn’t put in all those stupid parenthetical asides!”)
Upcoming Sermon Series Plans – Just a heads up that, after Easter, we pick up our Galatians series, which will take us 11(ish) more weeks to finish. Next Sun, Apr 11, we’ll jump back in with Galatians 3:26-29. Galatians will take us into Summer, when we’ll do a cool series called something like The OT in 7 Verses. We’ll be studying and memorizing 7 key verses that provide an overview of God’s covenantal relationship with His people in the Old Testament. I think it’ll be a really helpful narratival framework for reading and understanding the OT. And then, for the Fall, I dunno, maybe I’ll start a 25-year verse-by-verse jaunt through the whole thing?! (Relax, I’m kidding.)
Deep Stuff on Brown Bags & Bibles & New Book to Read: “Finally Alive”, by John Piper – This Tue, Apr 6, at noon, Mark and I finish up “Election”, pt 3 in “Order of Salavtion” (Ordo Salutis). We’ve been into the deep end of the pool the last couple weeks, so if you can catch up before joining us Tue at noon, (see “Watch” on the app), that’d be helpful, especially since that will give some context and likely cover common thoughts and objections along the way. We’ll do a few more weeks in OS and then we’ll take a break from that to talk through “Finally Alive” by John Piper, so get a copy now and start reading! It’s available in all the normal places, but if you want a free digital copy, it is available at desiringgod.org/books (which, btw, is an incredible resource.) Just scroll down to FA and click “Download”.
Some Worship Service Info – After almost a year of 27 different ways to gerrymander services, #bccovid, we’re going back to 60-minutes starting next Sun, Apr 11. That’ll mean a 35-minutes sermon, (which people have been obviously been clamoring for. So. Much. Feedback. No really guys, we’ll give Scott more time ASAP.) In this vein of service changes, be on the lookout for a possible 3rd service at 11:15a at our Greeneville campus, perhaps as early as Sun, Apr 11? ( <— This is not a done deal. Just letting ya know we’re looking at the possibility of needing to do so soon, and depending on how Easter goes, we may need to add this 3rd service soon.) For the last 2-3 weeks at our G’ville campus, the 10a service has had two-thirds of our available seats filled, which is a lot for Covid-World. So, as we’ve been planning, it’s likely time to start that 11:15a at G’ville soon. Just giving y’all a heads up.
Couple Kids Min Items – (1) Charity, our Kids Min Dir, does a great job. Really. She’s a hard worker. During a tough time for a church transition, she’s put in lots of extra time because there have been lots of extra spots to fill. For a while now, we’ve been at 80% of pre-Covid our kids back and have been operating with about 40% of our Kids Min volunteers. It’s been a pretty rough season. (Btw, thx young peeps, teenagers, young adults, etc., for jumping in a bunch to fill-in gaps.) So… We need Kids Min adults. Now, that’s not a fast and easy vetting and onboarding process, and it shouldn’t be. It requires undergoing a criminal background check, being a member, signing our Teacher Covenant, meeting with Charity, donating blood, ( <— Joke.), etc., but we’ve made it thus bc it’s our kids and it’s important to be extra careful. So, if you’re interested in just starting a convo about what’s involved, how you can help, what blood type we need, etc., just talk with Charity, Tommy (Afton Campus Pastor), Tyson (G’ville CP), or a Kids Min Coach or Service Leader. (And thx to a few returnees and new recruits who have stepped up.) (2) Pine Cove City is an amazing week that brings camp to our Greeneville campus. Make sure to watch the video at fccgreene.org/pcc. Coming off the heaps of what has been a hard year for kids, we wanna use PCC to give kids a week of normal fun and teach them about the love of Jesus. Also, Charity is in contact with local elementary schools so we can use it to reach out to Greene County families and scholarship as many community kids as possible. Our goal this year is 130 kids! Go to fccgreene.org/pcc to find out more, watch the highlight video from 2019, register a kid, and contribute financially.
Ok, this ST needs to end. I’ll bullet point a number of things I still need to cover, with likely more such stuff in future STs.
A Few Misc Sabbatical Thoughts
- Thank You – I said this publicly, before last Sunday’s sermon, but special thanks to the Elders for allowing me my recent 4-weeks sabbatical, (and 1 week of vacation, to clarify for the few detail nerds among us who are aware I was gone for 5 weeks), to Staff for covering for me (“Wait, you were gone?”), and to the 5 men who preached and did a great job keeping the flock fed.
- Why a sabbatical? – I was, and frankly, still am just long-term tired. No moral failure (other than my normal ones!) No secret disqualifying thing. Just am long-term tired of work that more often seems to end disappointing people who want and need help. (I’ve thought a number of times about going into ice cream. Few people leave dissatisfied.) I’ve lived ministry “wide open”, as they say, for 25 years, with terribly little consistent rest, and Covid had been by far the most difficult and divisive time in those 25 years. I know that kind of fatigue has been true of some many of us, so I’m grateful for the time allowed me.
- What’d you do? – I “rested”, (which I don’t do well), spent some extra time with family, redoubled efforts at Scripture memorization, read a lot of Bible and theologically nerdy old dead guy stuff, did some schoolwork (I’m doing a slow MDiv 2.0), watched a lot of soccer, did some long-term fasting, visited quite a few churches and met with Pastors, and spent concentrated and extended time thinking and praying about God’s call on my life, my role as Lead Pastor, FCC’s future, and what God is doing among us. There’s a lot more to say about all that, but most of it is gonna need to wait for future STs. Sorry. Not only is this ST longer than should be, but some of my main takeaway thoughts from sabbatical need a smidge more time to simmer. As a teaser, though, here are just a few thoughts…
- I’m amazed how many modern American Christians think they are part of the church without actually being part of any one particular church.
- We’ve got to model, for our kids, that intellectual rigor and Christian faith are not only not incompatible, but are the only way to rightly understand themselves and the world.
- Once weekly Sabbath rest is written in God’s design for creation and not only is none of us the exception, we shouldn’t demand modern workaholism from anyone. The modern church is not good at this, and we didn’t learn that unbiblical workaholism from those from whom we learned the Protestant work ethic, because they were serious about Sabbath. We learned this from the world.
- We will continue to develop into a church that is more centrally focused and dependent upon the all-sufficient Word of God to shepherd our people. Full stop. No more need be said. This will happen or I will quit. In the past, we’ve been too soft and haven’t demanded this for our people. So get on board with this inevitability, stop complaining about everyone else around you when you have God’s Word available to you, and get your heart and head in God’s Word you lazy secularized bum!
- If you are not primarily connected to God through a deep and abiding daily relationship through prayer and the Word, and the body of Christ through regular worship, serving, and community, you are not only not remotely as meaningfully and helpfully connected to the body as you may think, but you are on a trajectory of becoming a spiritual consumer.
- The jury is still out for a few weeks on whether the timing is right and we have the sending capacity for this, but I suspect that Covid and our current growth means we are closer to launching a 3rd campus than many may assume. Our multisite strategy means we can strike while the iron’s hot, using already-developing leaders, with more smaller campuses… and this fits well with peoples’ emerging needs.