Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Next Generation

When I came to Grace over 6 months ago I made it clear we were going to be a church committed to reaching the next generation for Jesus Christ. Our ministry to children, youth, & young adults is top priority. We love our older generation & much of what we do couldn't happen without them, but our primary purpose will be raising up a new generation of Christians. Though our vision is still being developed as we seek God, the excitement about what God is doing is growing.

2 weeks ago we baptized 6 teenagers in our AM Worship Service with one more scheduled to be baptized soon. We also have at least one child preparing for baptism as a result of VBS. After evaluating our current ministry system we're now beginning to make changes to further enhance our efforts in providing meaningful ministry to children & youth. It can't be summarized in a few words or maybe even an essay but let me share a few principles & concepts that are vital to our vision.

1. We won't water-down Biblical truth. People are starving for truth in today's society & there are lots of places people can go to receive "feel good" religion. We don't dumb down when preaching to students or teaching children. We wrestle with the hard questions & difficult issues facing this next generation. We do our best to make Biblical truth relevant & present it in a way it can be understood.

2. We make discipleship a priority. Too many people make decisions to follow Jesus & then are left to fend for themselves in figuring out how to take the next step in the Christian life. We are working to offer numerous discipleship opportunities for all ages so spiritual growth can take place. In fact, our entire Sunday evening emphasis is shifting to discipleship this upcoming Fall. The Great Commission calls us to disciple & multiply, therefore we intend on training this next generation to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ in hopes they can reach their generation & the ones to come for Jesus.

3. We focus less on rules & more on relationship. Obeying God's commands are important but we want to create an atmosphere of love & acceptance among those in our church & community. A loving, accepting fellowship is important to helping others know church is where they belong. Spending time building relationships is crucial to effectively reaching & maintaining the younger generation. We have great volunteers committed to loving & accepting all who walk through our doors.

4. We believe in missions. Our heart is to serve in our community & beyond with the message of the Gospel. God has planted us right here in Bastrop so that's where we will begin. We plan to serve & love the community around us through various projects & eventually extend beyond local missions & help reach the world for Jesus. Our students are planning service projects on their own initiative & our prayer is this will become contagious among the adults!

5. We pray. God will not bless what He does not initiate. Our vision must be God's vision. We place a great emphasis on prayer throughout all the ministries of our church. We pray for His initiative, His wisdom, & His strength to endure. The New Testament church was committed to prayer & if we want to be a truly Biblical church, we must be a church that places a high priority on prayer.

May God give us His wisdom & power to reach future generations for Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Our 4th Anniversary

Last week we celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. This was the 1st one as parents (though last year Erin was 7 months pregnant). I planned an overnight trip to Jackson, MS since neither of us had been there & it was only a couple of hours away. It was a surprise to Erin. I told her a couple of days before we were going somewhere alone overnight. I made arrangements for the baby & took care of all the plans. We had a blast & as much as we love our son it was refreshing to get away for a couple of days. We ate a LOT, went to a movie, & actually did as much or more shopping as we did eating.

The movie we saw was "The Proposal" & I must say it's a quality flick. We laughed out loud so many times throughout the movie & we were able to stay interested in the plot until the end & surprisingly it wasn't a cheesy, predictable chick flick. I look forward for the next opportunity to get away for a fun trip. I am truly blessed to have a wonderful Christian wife who is an incredible mother to our son & a source of strength for me in my ministry.

Lunch when we got there was good, it's a lot like McAllister's but with significantly more options on the menu. We really enjoyed it.
We had a nice dinner at this wonderful Italian place, the food was wonderful & made for a wonderful dining experience.
Erin's chicken dish.
My Chicken Parmesean (by the way the portions were huge though you might not can tell from the pictures)

I took her to one of her all-time favorite places for lunch the next day before heading home.