Sun, Apr 18, 2021
My apologies for (what turned out to be an) empty promise of getting last Sunday’s theoretical ST done this past Monday, which became Tuesday, which became… . While most may likely not care at all, nonetheless, I don’t like not delivering on my promises. I’m sorry.
Quick Coffee Convos Update – If you missed the past CC with our own Debbie Mather, who serves on the Worship Team at Greeneville, check it out on the app (under “Watch”) or on our other outlets (FB, YT). We also recently talked life and ministry with my good friend Paul Helphinstine, Senior Minister at First Presbyterian Church in Johnson City. This coming Wednesday, at 7:30p, we get to know Matthew Nasekos, the new Executive Director at Long View Ranch, a Christian camp in Mosheim established and long led by our own George and Kay Widmaier (and family). So join us this Wednesday, let us know you’re with us in the comments, and ask questions in real-time! (Really, that helps me a lot!)
Bond Between Us Class Relaunch Soon – There is a move afoot to begin regathering the Bond Between Us class for our senior citizens on Sunday mornings at 10a our Greeneville campus. (For the record, this is our only Sunday morning small group/class that is the exception to the “we don’t do Sunday School classes” rule, and no we’re not starting a new one for you or your group because you’re supposed to be serving on Sunday mornings (“Worship & Serve” strategy) and in a Life Group.) So, if you’re 65ish or older, see David Walters or let us know on the Connect Card, and we’ll make sure you’re apprised of the plans.
Brown Bags & Bibles (& Books!) Update – Most recently in BB&B, “where we break down life’s biggest befuddlements with biblical basics”, Mark Liebert and I are currently working through a series called “Order of Salvation”, which is a systematic walk through the biblical data regarding the logical steps of the application of redemption: Election, Calling, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification (which we’ve already covered in a few previous BB&Bs), Adoption, Sanctification, Perseverance, Death, and Glorification. We’ve already covered Election and Calling, which you can see on the “Watch” tab on the app or our YouTube channel, and then we’ll cover Regeneration this coming Tuesday at noon, after which we’ll take a few weeks to discuss Finally Alive, by John Piper. It’s about regeneration and is definitely worth your time. It describes what the “new birth” is, why it’s necessary, and how it makes someone a Christian. Here’s a quick 3-min video of Piper explaining the contents and motivation for writing: https://youtu.be/Nd75c_BHoz8.
Here’s our upcoming schedule:
- Tue, Apr 20, noon – “Regeneration”
- Tue, Apr 27 – No BB&B, FCC Staff/Key Leaders are at a church leaders conference at Watermark Church in Dallas, TX
- Tue, May 4 – Wk 1 (of a few) of BB&B(&B!) discussing Finally Alive, by John Piper. (The 4th “B” stands for “Books!”, which we occasionally loop into
So make sure to grab a copy of Finally Alive and get reading along with us! If you get through the first third or so of the book by Tue, May 4, you’ll be plenty ready to follow along the discussion. And if you haven’t read a word by then, join us anyway and catch up later. You can get a free digital copy at desiringgod.org/books.
Also, a few more BB&B notes. One, friendly reminder of our why and what: we’re making this content available for our congregation as ongoing biblical/theological training and cultural commentary from a Christian worldview. Our world is increasingly both devoid and needful of the truth of God revealed to us in His Word (Proverbs 1:7a; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:6-16; Colossians 2:2-4). So we cover biblical theology topics like “Order of Salvation”, read and discuss books like Finally Alive, and provide biblical perspective and commentary on cultural topics like “Sanctity of Life”, which we recently covered, and our church’s view on complementarianism (the role of men/women, especially in church/ministry), which we will be covering soon. Two, we are making a slight adjustment in how we produce it, the details of which most of y’all don’t care about, but it means two things: (A) Instead of answering questions day-of, we’re collecting them along the way during each series and will then have a Q&A episode to wrap up the series. So, keep jumping in the comments to let us know you’re watching and throw in your questions (or text to the number onscreen during each episode.) (B) Part of what this change allows us to do is simultaneously publish BB&B at noon every Tuesday on our app, Facebook, and YouTube. I know 75% of our folks don’t care about such detail, but our “throngs of dozens” of faithful BB&Bers may wanna know.
The 7 Habits & “The Big 3”: This is How it Works Here. There’s Not Another Way. – For years, we have been making this clear in our former Next Steps classes and booklet, and now, in our Next Steps videos: our structure for your growth is designed around 7 Habits that produce producers who contribute to the Kingdom, our community, and our campus launching strategy. This requires meaningful participation and habitual investment in at least “The Big 3” of Engage in worship., Serve on the team., and Connect in a small group. In case you’re not tracking with the full force of what I’m trying to communicate, lemme be explicit: Drifting in and out like a consumer cannot possibly constitute “meaningful participation” and “habitual investment” that will make a difference in your life. We believe God has positioned us to do a great job, not of everything possible for a church to do, but mostly of making great people who are “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) and who make and keep this community strong. We believe we are called to build builders. (Also, 2 quick notes: (1) For new folks, the 7 Habits are stated as active sentences calling us all to active participation. This reinforces that these steps of growth require personal commitment and investment. (2) We recognize some have extenuating circumstances (age, disability, work) that hinder them from being able to meaningfully participate in even The Big 3. No sweat. Our goals are stated aspirationally, and these particular comments are directed toward those who are capable of meaningful participation.) So, lemme just say this clearly, because I have seen these dynamics in play for many years: If you’re not meaningfully participating and habitually investing in at least the first 3 of the 7 Habits, you shouldn’t expect our strategy to work for you. If you are not personally investing in our vision and taking on the 7 Habits, you shouldn’t have any illusion that you will feel connected. Again, as I’ve also said in many a ST, we are intentionally structured to be a take-care-of-you-by-helping-you-grow-to-serve-others place (i.e., Helping people find and follow Jesus.) Again, the 7 Habits are about producing producers who contribute to the Kingdom, our community, and our campus launching strategy, and that requires meaningful participation and habitual investment, especially, at a personal level, in the “The Big 3”. Full stop. End of sentence. This is how it works here. There’s not another way. If you buck against our vision, you will become frustrated and disconnected because we are not backing off from calling people to a higher standard of local church commitment that actually does make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Like we’ve said for years, you don’t stumble upon Christian community, you create it. It requires more investment than our modern consumeristic sensibilities are used to, but there is not another way. Hate to sound like a jerk, but we sometimes need reminding: If you’re not invested, you won’t grow. As we’ve seen many folks returning, there is no better time than now to redouble your commitment to growing to become a fruit-bearing disciple (Matthew 12:50; John 15:8, 14-16).
CBTS Redux/Revival – Sorry, Covenant Baptist Theological Seminarians, (see this previous ST for more detail), I’m egregiously behind everywhere and haven’t served y’all well the last few weeks. Sabbatical has (‘been amazing and awesome’) messed up things and I’m behind. We’ll get back to a Monday evening time, from 7:30-8:30p, where I can be available to help, starting again on Mon, May 3.
Quick Financial Update/Needs – I know, I know, I promised more info. Gimme another week or two (or seven.) Overall, we have no debt, a slowly increasing overall fund balance, with YTD income versus expenses (Jan-Feb 2021) at $10,000 in the black (that’s good). I’ll letcha know more regarding our overall finances when I know more in the coming weeks. Thank you to a few folks who have begun helping us fund non-FCC community kids to attend Pine Cove City (fccgreene.org/pcc). Charity, our Kids Min Dir, is going around to 3 local elementary schools to let them know we’d like to help fund a few of their kids to PCC. (We’re asking those families to pitch in something, while we fund the rest.)
A Few Miscellaneous Musings
- For so many in our egregiously selfish and consumer-driven world, it is always someone else’s responsibility to be responsible.
- Personal sacrifice and commitment are not normal. We must learn these values, for the sake of the flourishing of our families and community.
- A reason why our church’s vision matters… Most weak-kneed and consumer-oriented American Christians haven’t the slightest interest in taking personal responsibility for the spiritual growth and health of others. For most, being part of a church is not markedly different than choosing a brand of toothpaste at the grocery store, and they are measured similarly.
- If you want to experience your weakness and God’s strength, you should dedicate yourself to leadership in the local body. Hints of it are available in regular serving, but waves of weakness are constant as you begin to take on personal responsibility for the spiritual growth and health of others. Who are you leading? Whose personal spiritual health are you overseeing?
(Looking back, apparently these musings are less miscellaneous than I thought they’d be!)
“Family Matters” Becoming “Monday Morning Missive” ( ← That is so dorky.) – I’ve been long adding little sermons before the sermon on various things I feel the need to cover that don’t otherwise get airtime. We’ve long called it “Family Matters”. For example, lately we’ve been slowly covering, in piecemeal terms, why we focus on the Word of God as the central empowering guide for our corporate and individual growth, i.e., “The Word does the work.” (See our “Team Code” at fccgreene.org/teamcode for where we use this phrase.) These sermonettes sometimes used to be 10-plus minutes, back in the day, but now that we’re 4 services, 2 campuses, considerably larger, and one me doesn’t scale well… (And yes, I’m well aware of how self-centered that sounds, as if everyone’s standing around wanting or needing me, (which I grant is clearly not the case!,) but I promise, saying “one me doesn’t scale well” is merely a way to communicate that my heart’s desire is to get around to everyone and personally pastor them. I miss the days when that was feasible. I’m a Pastor because I love the local church and I want nothing more than to equip God’s people for Kingdom mission. I really do love the local church and being with and among God’s people to encourage and equip her for ministry, and it’s a consistent weight and struggle that I am unable to do so effectively, (which is why our multisite campus launching strategy of having Campus Pastors, Staff, Coaches, Service Leaders, Team Leaders, and Small Group Leaders, etc. works so well!) Anyway… personal-disclaimers-turned-visioncasting over… ) I still very much feel the need to cover such things, but, I don’t want them to intrude on preaching time, but I do still want to have the opportunity to include them, so beginning tomorrow morning, I’m starting a 2-minute “Monday Morning Missive” video that will post on our various outlets (probably Facebook, Twitter, and the app. And yes, I’m aware that a “missive” connotes official written communications, but we’re going video for this missive.) It will be a quick 2-minutes Bible-based sermonette and devotional thought intended to help get you going for the week. I’m intending to keep it generic and non-FCC-specific so it will be shareable and applicable to all who come across it. So be on the lookout tomorrow morning, posted by 8:30a.