Dear St. Matthew’s Church Family,
“Are we helping people become more like Jesus?”
I came across this question in a blog post by Tony Morgan (a leadership consultant and author, www.tonymorganlive.com). It might help for you to read the quote in a slightly larger context. He says, “If everyone is constantly busy, there’s no time to ask the question: Are we helping people become more like Jesus?” He was talking about church communities being so busy planning and providing services, programs, classes, and events that they never stop to make sure that their mission is being accomplished, that lives are being transformed. It’s definitely a concern for churches like St. Matthew’s. We have a lot going on. The calendar is full. Weekly emails and worship bulletins have long lists of announcements – all of which point to important ministry programs. As a congregation we need to ask the question of ourselves. If you are one of St. Matthew’s leaders, I hope you’ll be willing to, at least occasionally, ask the question of your committee/ team/council/small group/class: are we helping people become more like Jesus?
I also hope that you’ll consider the personal version of the question: am I becoming more like Jesus? I hear the same refrain over and over. We are busy. Our calendars are full. There is very little room at the margin of lives. It’s hard to catch a breath sometimes, much less stop moving long enough to ask: am I becoming more like Jesus? As a parent you can ask: am I helping my children become more like Jesus?
If your answer to the individual, family, or corporate version of the question is, not so much, and if you want to become more like Jesus, then let me make one suggestion: read (again) the story of Jesus’ life and ministry that is recorded in the New Testament. Specifically, read the Gospels and ask God to use them to give you a clear vision of what becoming more like Jesus looks like for you. I think we experience the life-changing power of God’s grace when we’re aware of the gap between who we are and the person God wants us to be (like Jesus!)
On Sunday morning at St. Matthew’s we will celebrate Children’s Sabbath. It will be a celebration of the children of St. Matthew’s and highlight the importance of our ministry with and for the children of our church, community, and world. Children’s Sabbath helps us remember that one of the Church’s priorities is to help children and youth become more like Jesus. Our kids will be helping to lead all three services and we will be commissioning our acolytes. The message will be, All God’s Kingdom; based on Psalm 8 and Mark 10:13-16. You will be blessed by worship this week; please join us.
Last Sunday in worship, I announced that Mike Fee is leaving St. Matthew’s to take a new job as Director of Serve Ministries at Floris UMC in Herndon. Mike has been Director of Youth Ministries for the past four years and will be missed. I am thankful for Mike’s service to the youth and families of St. Matthew’s Church and our community and we pray God’s blessings on Mike and Anna and Jonathan as they begin a new chapter in their lives. Mike’s last Sunday at St. Matthew’s will be October 14, but we will have Mike and his family back for a farewell reception soon. We’ll share the details when they are available. Please know that St. Matthew’s is blessed with a strong cadre of youth counselors, teachers, and youth group leaders who will continue to provide excellent youth ministry programs until the Director of Youth Ministry position is filled.
Finally, you might have seen the news that, for the second time in two years, the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV) was vandalized with hate symbols last week. I don’t think I need to say it, but we stand with our neighbors and friends and continue to resist, evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves. There will be a CommUNITY Gathering in the JCCNV gymnasium on Sunday, October 14, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Here is an excerpt from the announcement about Sunday’s gathering, “To answer the unequivocal calls for affirming peace and unity against hate, the J has organized a gathering to celebrate the joy in being a community that is warm and inclusive and open to all. Please join us to hear from community members and local leaders; to share in song; and to participate in a community art project that will tell a story of peace and commUNITY.”
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.