What an outstanding Easter celebration we had here in the First Family last Sunday! My thanks first go to God for His amazing, enabling grace which empowered us to come together and worship Christ and His resurrection. Thanks also to all of the musicians (too many to list) under the leadership of Bryan McKelvey and Bruce Conley for their hours of preparation; to the techs in both venues who helped things move so smoothly; to the many people behind the scenes who made the entire day go so well! And thanks to those of you who invited your friends and family to join us in worship.
I want to talk to you this month about a new opportunity that will begin in the First Family in September. Gospel Communities are small groups of First Family members and friends who get together for fellowship and community building. The motto of the communities is Gathering—Growing—Going. The purpose of Gospel Communities is to explore in small groups how the truths of the Gospel intersect with the communities in which we find ourselves. “Communities” can mean geographic neighborhoods; work communities; social communities; and yes, church community as well! While the primary focus will be on helping us to connect with one another, all four of our church functions—worshipping, connecting, growing, and reaching will be a part of communities.
Someone asked me the other day if these are Bible study groups. The simple answer is, that depends! Each community will decide where the members want their community to be focused. Some will focus on worship, with an emphasis on prayer and sharing together God’s work in their lives. Other communities will be primarily for building and strengthening relationships, while still others will choose to emphasize ministry and sharing our faith with others. And yes, some groups will want to focus their community on Bible study.
In September, you will have the opportunity to join a Gospel Community with a commitment of three months’ involvement (September until just before Thanksgiving). The month of December will be a regrouping month, giving you the opportunity to stay in the same community for the next semester or to join a different community. Each community will have a host, a leader, and a “second.” There is no limit to the number of members who can be in each community, except for the size of the meeting area. And by the way, children are welcome to be a part of their parents’ Gospel Community; each community will determine how they wish to handle childcare in their setting. More on that, and all of the other details, later…
For now, I need you to pray for men who will agree along with their wives to serve as community leaders. There will be training on Monday evening, May 2, in O’Fallon, Illinois for community leaders. I will be talking with several people about this opportunity, but don’t wait for me to come to you!! If God is leading you in this direction, then come and tell me!
One last word on this topic. If your first thought after reading this is, “Oh no! Not another church event I have to attend!” then Gospel Communities are probably not for you...at least, not yet! These communities are designed to strengthen, enhance, and empower you in your Christian walk, not weigh you down. But if you are excited about getting together with other First Family members and friends to laugh, pray, study, and connect...then Gospel Communities are just for you! More later...