When I wrote this article, I was enjoying the third and final presidential debate. I hope that everyone at Christ United enjoyed our Hijacked sermon series that focused on our faithful response to American’s political divide as Jesus-followers. The purpose of our conversations were to think critically about our role in our country’s government and political system. The series concluded on November 4th as we took communion to remember the primacy of Jesus’ sacrifice and grace; which gives us our identity, just prior to Election Day.
This was my 5th newsletter article so I had some time to grow into my new role as a lead pastor and learn about this community. As I’m sure many of you know, people talk. Lots of people have talked to me about the history of this church-people within the church, people within the community, people who have left the church, former pastors–many of these people have shared stories of heartache, pain, and difficult times here at Christ United.
Judging from my personal experience here in Burke County, I feel as though these stories are about another church and another group of people. My experience has been completely different from the emotions invoked by these sad stories. This local church has been incredibly gracious and welcoming to the whole Knopp family. We have felt well cared for, appreciated, encouraged, and loved. If this church can make us feel these emotions, then certainly we can do the same for each other and even the outsider. Perhaps God has done some necessary pruning of the branch known as Christ United and we are now primed for growth. I have also now witnessed two church members pass into life eternal. During this time, I have been very impressed with the way Christ United has shown love and provided support to the family members of our most recent saints; Alma and Marcella.
For those of us who are still here and those that are choosing to join us for the first time, the future holds incredible potential to be a thriving local church. However, our future will not look like our past. The surrounding community has changed and so have its needs. To be a relevant and thriving presence in the Drexel community and beyond, we need to be open to new ways in which God will work through us.
Some of the big pictures visions; which I have added to the door post of my office via post-it notes so they will always be in my line of sight even when dealing with the day-to-day intricacies of leading the church; include the following items:
Elderly Advocacy and Care
Variety in Worship
Burke County’s first and only Skate Park
These are five big ways in which we can pursue Worship, Outreach, and Discipleship as a church. For example, Multiply is a 24 week Bible Study that we are looking at implementing through small groups on Wednesday evenings in the near future. We have discussed several of these opportunities in Administrative Board and other meetings, as well as informal one-on-one conversations. To pursue these ministries and others, we must continually fight the temptation to focus inwardly and we must reject complexity. We don’t know if these visions will come to fruition, but we hope to soon begin the necessary research and prayer to purse them as potential ministries. These potential ministry opportunities are exciting to think about as we look to the future.