This past Sunday night, my small group was meeting and enjoying the peaceful and calm (not humid!) evening on my deck, discussing Pastor Stacey’s sermon on the Touchstone of Transformation. As we discussed the questions in the bible app live event related to both our past experiences and current practices to be formed into Christ's image, a reoccurring theme emerged. The members of my small group greatly valued their past and current transformational experiences that happened or are happening within the church community. At the end of our time together, I remarked that the more experience I gain as a pastor of a church, the more I think the best of what the local church has to offer people is community, a place to belong in the fellowship of other brothers and sisters in Christ.
We were not meant to be alone. Our 4th Covenant Affirmation is “The Church as a Fellowship of Believers.” Our membership curriculum states; “The church is not an institution, organization, or building. It is a grace-filled fellowship of believers who participate in the life and mission of Jesus Christ.” We are as many say “better together.” The effects of the pandemic have suppressed this in many ways, and it isn’t over, but we have seen more and more of you in recent weeks.
The staff and church leadership decided this summer that it is time to bring back an outdoor fall event. In the past, we have called it “Rally Day” or the “Fall Kickoff.” This year it is our “Community Picnic” that will take place this coming Sunday, August 22nd, outside immediately following the worship service. It is both an opportunity for the church to come together as a “Fellowship of Believers” to share a meal and our lives together but is also an opportunity for us to engage in our Touchstone of Welcome by inviting our friends, co-workers, family members, and neighbors to the picnic. It is my hope that you will attend and invite someone to attend with you. ECC will provide the food. We will have activities for children including pony rides and the inflatable obstacle course. After a year off, we will resume our annual “Cornhole” tournament, and we will have a large tent for seating for fellowship.
In describing our Touchstone of Welcome, we firmly believe that we are called to be a place of welcome, to offer hospitality, grace, and community for all people. We believe this because of the examples we see in God and Jesus. (Luke 9:10-11, Galatians 6:10) Because God is hospitable and Jesus lifts hospitality up as a key virtue, we practice hospitality towards all people, wherever they may be on their journey of faith and however and wherever they may cross our paths. The Community Picnic is the opportunity to do just that. If you didn’t pick up an invitation card to share, please stop by the church. We still have some, and you can find them on the Welcome Counter. Inviting those you love to the Community Picnic is a great way for them to experience the best of what we can offer as a church…the fellowship of believers. It gives people the opportunity to make a more informed decision about church and Jesus. Prior to your invitation, they may have negative feelings about church and religion. This kind of event gives them an opportunity to see church in a positive light from their own, personal experience! You have the opportunity to extend the invitation and then trust God with the process.
Lastly, it takes many in the community to make this picnic work. As I shared Sunday in worship, it would be great if each regular attender of the church could serve in one area. You can sign up here. This would still give you plenty of time to enjoy the picnic and the Fellowship of Believers.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday!