Tag Archives: Fanning the Flame

Fanning the Flame #5

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Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him.  Mark 1:19-20

This week the Fanning the Flame team of St. Paul’s had our first meeting with Joe Weatherly, our coach.  After weeks of prayer and meditation, we are ready to start forming a vision.  What do we want our church to look like in several years?  Where do we want to go, and how do we start?

One thing we talked about is how, since our congregation is small, we get focused on the task at hand, and don’t take time to consider and plan for the future.  When I look at the passage above, I’m struck by the fact that James and John were busy when Jesus called them.  Mending the nets was important.  They couldn’t earn a living without the proper equipment. Yet when Jesus called, they left that work to follow Him. We too can get absorbed in maintaining our building, holding fundraisers, cooking for fellowship dinners, planning weekly worship, and more.  These things are important, but following Jesus is more than that.  Following Jesus means sometimes dropping everything else to listen to His plans for us.  That’s what we’re trying to do.

As we looked over our ideas, the fruit of our time listening to God, we saw that for us following Jesus means more community involvement.  Our focus must change from taking care of those within our walls, to going out and caring for others.  Like the disciples, we must become fishers of men.  We must trust God to keep our nets mended as we minister to His people;  all of His people.

Beth Ann will be writing a vision narrative, a cohesive whole, based on the thoughts, ideas and inspirations we listed.  Maybe she’ll post soon on what that process is like.  I’m looking forward to see what she and the Holy Spirit come up with.  Maybe our readers are, too.  In the meantime, pray, pray, pray, for St. Paul’s and our plans for the future.  I’m pretty sure whatever happens, we’ll be blessed by this process.

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Fanning the Flame #4

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“I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;  I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8

Well, the Fanning the Flame team has been formed, and we’ve been given our first task — meditation and prayer about the 10 strategies that will help us become a healthier, more vibrant church.  We’ve been provided with some excellent material on the discipline of meditation from Celebration of Discipline:  The Pathway to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster, to help us get started.

Every member is to spend time each day meditating and asking God to tell us “the way we should go.” We’re to carry notecards with us, and every time an image, idea or Scripture comes into our mind that gives us a picture of how our congregation should look in 3-5 years, we are to write it down. These ideas are to be specific, not vague.  We’re not to go back to “edit” our thoughts and we’re not to speak with one another about them (yet).

At the next meeting with our coach, all the ideas will be examined.  We’ll see the desires that God has given us for our community.  Hopefully there will be duplications, or themes that send us in the right direction.

I’m finding this an exciting exercise.  It’s encouraging me to put my heart, mind and soul into my prayer life.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!  Keep us in your prayers, readers, as we continue this journey in faith.

Let’s Go On An Adventure or Fanning the Flame #3

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“He set out, not knowing where he was going.”  Hebrews 11:8

Before my mom went into a nursing home, my siblings and I were doing our best to care for her in her own home.  Each day one or more of us would stop by to make or take her a meal, straighten the house, give her a shower and sometimes take her out for a ride.  One of my sisters said she would say to mom, “let’s go on an adventure” — mom would smile and her eyes would light up.  She loved to get out and just ride around. She didn’t worry because she trusted her daughter to bring her back safely.  Bev said they would explore the country roads nearby, just getting on one and following it to see where it went.  Sometimes they came back out in a familiar location, other times they’d just have to backtrack in order to get home.

Well, our congregation is about to go on an adventure.  The Fanning the Flame program was approved at our voters’ meeting by an approximately 2-1 majority.  Now the hard work and anxiety really start.  We’re setting out on a journey, and we don’t even have the map!  We know we want to end up as a healthier church body, but we’re not sure what that means or will look like. We don’t know exactly what it will require. We may end up with a totally unexpected result.  We must trust the process and trust God.

P.S. I read from two different devotionals today and the theme in each was going out in trust.  This is probably not a coincidence.  The first scripture is at the beginning of this article.  The second is below:

Peter called to him, ‘Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.’ ‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said.  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  Matthew 14:28-29

Pray with us friends and readers as we step out onto the water!

Fanning the Flame #2

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“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

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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

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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!