Church Board Prayers - Week 9

headshot ricia

I have attended Manteno Nazarene for 29 years. That doesn’t seem possible. In that time, there have been different leaders. Our lead pastor has remained the same, but we have experienced different leadership in every other area of our church.

I have served mostly in our children’s department throughout my journey here. Our children’s department is where most of our leadership turnover has been felt. Yet, our children’s department is at a place where it has not been before. We have moved forward. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 43:18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” If we were dwelling on the past, we would not be aware of the great things that God has done in the present.

We live in a diverse society. Will we ever please everyone? No. Who are we to please? The people, the kids, the teens or God? As a church we need to be praying about the future of our church. Will there be adjustments? Absolutely! Will EVERYTHING change? No. The modifications will be made through prayer and discussion.

What is your part? First, LOVE GOD!

Next, I ask that you Journey Together with us. Whatever revision takes place, trust that it is in the name of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 12:14 “For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” The definition of unity is the state of being one; or oneness. Therefore, we are the unified body of Christ.

Finally, I invite you in this time of adjustment to get involved! Serve God. You ask how do I serve? There are plenty of areas. Greet, usher, hold a baby in the nursery, media, sound, or make coffee. This is just a small list. Who do I talk to? Contact the church office, speak with one of our pastors, board members, or fill out a ‘connection card’ in the pew.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that you would guide and protect us in these days of adjustment. I ask that you be with each one of us. Open our minds and hearts. I am thankful for a loving and caring church family. I pray that whatever your will is, we will obey. Amen.

Ricia Harders

Church Board Prayers - Week 8

bill harders headshotSo, when it was stated in board meeting that “I believe that a lot of our congregation probably don’t even know who the board members are”; this wasn’t what I had in mind. Rick suggested this awesome plan and immediately I froze. I have always been a behind the scene, get things done, kind of worshipper, NOT an on-stage type of worshipper. So here goes.

Being raised in a non-practicing Christian home, I did not know Jesus till later in my teens. I started going to church with this beautiful young girl and her family. The hardest parts of being a new Christian were to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5 and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Mark 12:30-31. I couldn’t fathom how someone could Love and Trust a man you could not see and touch. We all want to believe we are in charge of our own decisions, whether they are good or bad. The understanding of those decisions may not be clear at that moment, but once you realize your mistakes, you begin to see the direction God was sending you. Kind of like when your parent says “Don’t touch that, it’s hot” and you reach out anyways and get burned. After seeing so many examples of his grace and mercy, it was then I saw God directing my life like a maestro, nudging me with his baton in directions I would never have chosen on my own.

As a Christian, we are always reminded to Trust, and God will put amazing examples in front of us. As a Church, we also must Trust that God is always on our Journey with us. Never should we ignore the opportunity to Serve others in the ways Jesus has “nudged” us to go. Certainly, the plans for this Church are in God’s hands. The faces and decorations may change from time to time, but it is so clear that the Lord Trusts us and Loves us. He shows us the examples every day. We just need to be ready to receive his word. Let’s say a little Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask that you be with this church and congregation, so that we will know how to Love each other and Trust in your word. We also thank you for always walking with us and showing us the signs that consistently remind us you are there on our Journey to Love and Serve others. Amen

Bill Harders

 

Church Board Prayers - Week 7

Rachel Headshot“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:14

I don’t know if you’ve sensed it yet, but the Church Board devotionals that have been coming out have a theme and that theme is CHANGE. The changes our church is facing, specifically the changes in staff, are deeply personal to me. It affects the very nature of my family, it affects my identity, and it affects my church family.

I have to be very careful here. Anyone who knows me knows that I am, as a general rule, seriously opposed to change. It has a way of upsetting my flow, my groove, my routine. It is during times of change, that I am seriously tempted to turn inward and become defensive. When threatened with change, I tend to focus on my own comfort...what I want, what makes me comfortable, how I like things to be. Thank God that he knows my tendency to retreat and hide from change and He is infinitely patient! However, I have learned that during all these games of hiding and retreating and focusing inward, I am missing a lot of opportunities. While in this place, I am not developing spiritual maturity and frankly I’m not at all tuned in to what God is doing or calling me to do.

In Matthew, Jesus talks about how He wants his followers to be a town on a hill. This is hard to visualize in Illinois, but I imagine that a town on a hill can’t help but reflect light outward since there is nowhere else for the light to go. I see so much light inside our church. I’ve experienced first-hand the unconditional love that can emanate from us as a body of believers. I’ve received grace and forgiveness from fellow Christians when I didn’t deserve it. I’ve felt the freedom to be who I really am in safe relationships with people who place the needs of others before their own. Most importantly (to me at least) I’ve watched these same gifts given lavishly to my children. We are a group of love-shining people! All that I’ve witnessed leaves me convicted that this is love that must be shared, even if it means accepting changes that upset what I’ve come to know.

As we face these coming months of inevitable change, let’s pray earnestly that we as a church body will move beyond our desire to run to a “safe” church in a valley – a church that focuses on itself and just shares its light with those smart enough to come inside the building. Instead, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us focus our light outward. To take the light of the Gospel to a town and a county that need the kind of Holy love we have to offer, even those who haven’t realized they are living in darkness yet.

Sincerely,

Rachel Anne

Dear God, Thank you for calling us beyond what is easy. Thank you for giving us your Holy Spirit to direct and guide us in all wisdom. Help us to feel the yearning that you feel for those who are lost and to abandon our preferences for Your will. This is going to be hard for some of us who don’t like change, but we want our love for You and for each other to inspire others. Please make us a church on a hill! Amen.

Church Board Prayers - Week 6

grimm black and whiteChanging

Everyday there seems to be some change to which we have to adapt. Each year there are changes. Each season of life, we adapt to changes. From childhood, to the teen years, to the young adult life. Then the many chapters of our adulthood. Then comes retirement. We can take comfort in the fact that God never changes. Hebrews 13:8 says “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever”.

One change that I want us to focus on, is in that of our spiritual journey. Everyday our spiritual journey should be changing us and bringing us closer to God.

A few weeks ago, I shared part of my story with you. Part of that story was how I got involved in church; by going to the youth group my freshman year of high school and the church family that just adopted me and took me in as one of their own. This was a great and much needed part of my life. It helped me get through high school and God used that church family to set the path to where I’m at today. However looking back, even though I did grow in my relationship with Christ by just going to the services, youth group, small groups, etc... I don’t remember anyone ever sitting down with me and discipling me. No one ever showed me what it means to read and study the Bible. I have learned that there’s much more to it than just reading the pages. Discipling also includes fellowshipping with other believers and getting involved in ministries to serve others. No one ever sat me down and explained those facets of discipling to me. We did do those things along the way because it’s part of what a church does.

God has put it on my heart to learn more about the spiritual journey. Not only for myself, but also to help others in their spiritual journey. I think that could be why the doors have opened for me to be in the role of Sunday School and Discipleship Ministries (SDMI) Chair. I want others, whether a new believer or someone that’s been a Christian for a long time, to be able to get the most out of their spiritual journey. I, along with the SDMI Board, are trying to figure out what that looks like for Manteno Church of the Nazarene. We already have a good start with our mission of “Love God, Journey Together, and Serve Others”. We have plenty of Sunday School classes, small groups, and ministries in which to be involved. However, I think that there is much, much more that could help us on our spiritual journeys. I’m committed to changing, with you, as you grow on your spiritual journey.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:10

Tony Grimm