Fanning the Flame Barbara G.’s story about Repentance

This post is taken from an article one of our Fanning the Flame Team Members wrote for the church newsletter.  It is shared with her permission and was written after the team listened to “A Call to Repentance.”

When you were a child did you ever get a big splinter in your hand or foot and then kept it a secret from your parents because you knew what they would do about it? The extraction came complete with a big needle to dig it out and then came the merthiolate that burned so bad. I had a younger brother who got a piece of hard straw inside his knee and he left it in there for several years because he wouldn’t allow my parents to take it out. One day he bumped his knee real hard and that piece of straw popped right out. It was a pain of another sort but it did the trick.

That’s how some of us are when we don’t want to make a change in our lives. Our lives aren’t really great….it’s just O.K. but we don’t like change because change is painful sometimes.

That’s how I was when I started F.T.F I thought I was a good Christian and I didn’t need anyone to fix it…I was O.K.  I’ll admit I was what I call a surface Christian. I didn’t want to fix anything or make it better because change hurts sometimes. Although I wanted us to have a chance to see how F.T.F. could help our church, I didn’t realize until after I started the program

Then I had my eyes opened to how much I really needed this program to help me grow as a Christian, like Jesus would want me to do.

To be continued…..

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Fanning the Flame #2

“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.”  Philippians 2:1-2

Voting on the fanning the flame project was delayed for a few more weeks in order to insure that the requirements of our church constitution for a special meeting had been met, and proper notification received by all.  However, discussion at the meeting revealed a couple of things.

The good news — enough people volunteered to serve on the planning committee, if the program is approved.  As we are a small congregation, this was a legitimate concern.

The bad news — there is not yet complete agreement.  Some are concerned about the cost;  others don’t really understand what will be achieved.  There is probably even some fear — what will happen, and how will we have to change?  Will I be able to do what is asked of me?  Do I even want to do it?

My prayer for St. Paul’s is for unity in whatever decision we make.  Total unity is, of course, not possible this side of heaven, but if we’re sharply divided, if we’re angry with one another, if we’re intent only on getting our way, no plan will succeed. This is a time for listening — to one another and to God.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

Pray with me friends and readers, as we attempt to discern the will of God in this matter.

Fanning the Flame

A few days ago our congregation had a meeting with Mr. Joe Weatherly, a representative from Fanning the Flame, a ministry of church revival.  A hard question was asked:  do we want to be light and salt to the world, or do we simply want our church to continue?  To survive and thrive, we must focus on Christ and serving others, not on ourselves.  I realize this is a challenge.  It is a challenge for me.

Hard work will be involved in completing the revitalization process.  There will be workshops and retreats;  people will have to take on jobs and be committed and accountable.  However, in the end, we will understand our gifts and have a number of strategic plans for using them.

I sensed people were interested and I hope inspired (I was).  I was heartened by a good turn out of our members and by the questions they asked.  Are we ready to make this big commitment of time and money?  This week or next we’ll have further discussion and voting.  Please keep St. Paul’s in your prayers.

From Embers to a Flame — Book Review

I’m going to veer off topic in this post to blog about something our church is considering.  St. Paul’s is 191 years old and our congregation is small and growing older.  The church is not located in a “growth” area of our county.  Our pastor and leaders are concerned about the future:  Does God have a plan for us?  Will we be able to survive and thrive?  Who will carry the gospel forward in Leitersburg, Md.?

From Embers to a Flame: How God Can Revitalize Your Church by [Reeder, Harry L., Swavely, David]

The book, From Embers to a Flame, by Harry Reeder outlines a program for church revitalization.  It is about church health, not church growth and is very biblically based.  Topics include:  The Biblical Paradigm for Revitalization, The Gospel of God’s Grace, The Role of Prayer, Mission and Vision, Great Commission Discipleship.  So far our congregation has held cottage meetings, instituted a Wednesday evening prayer service,  and started a Sunday School unit on our vision statement to be followed by a study of 1 Timothy (which Reeder calls a handbook of church revitalization).

Later this month a representative from the Fanning the Flame ministry will be visiting with us to tell us more about what their program offers.  We will need to make a wise decision as it will require an investment of not just money, but personal commitment if we proceed.  I hope our readers will pray with us for our congregation, for discernment and for our spiritual growth of our members.  I also hope other authors from St. Paul’s will give their perspective on how things are going as we forge ahead!