February 5, 2014
Dear Eastridge Family,
A couple of weeks ago I shared a message I entitled the State of Eastridge Church 2014, and today I want to give you an abbreviated version of that message along with some other items of note for our church family.
· The State of Eastridge Church
The evidence is abundant that the church in America is in decline. Of the 400,000 churches in America only about 5% are actually growing in number and much of that growth is a result of transfer growth from another church rather than conversion.
The dropout rate with our young people between the ages of 18-22 is staggering, about 70% and only a fourth of those will return to the church by the age of 40. Only 2% of church members actually invite unchurch people to attend worship services or Bible studies. Yet we see growth in numbers with cults like the Jehovah Witnesses and the Mormon’s here in America.
It would be tempting to get discouraged looking at these kind of numbers. But I want us to look to God’s Word instead. In Matthew chapter 16 we see that Jesus is identified by Peter as the Christ, the Messiah, and the King. For Matthew this is a crucial point so he puts it in the very center of his gospel account. Mark does the same in his Gospel account and puts this story at the very center of his gospel as well.
“Who do people say that I am? Who do you say that I am?”
These are important questions that each one of us needs to answer today. What good does it do to give the right answer, that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is the Christ, Jesus is King; if we don't then order our lives and live according to this truth? If we really believe that Jesus is King, the Messiah then we should live accordingly. We should submit our lives to the King.
Jesus tells us that the progress of His Kingdom will not be stopped by the Gates of Hell. Jesus says He is building His Church. He has come to defeat the devil and take back His Father’s world.
Is there anyone here who wants to be part of King Jesus is work? Does anyone here want to be on the side of victory? If you want to be with Jesus you must take up the cross and follow Jesus there's no shortcut. This is not a onetime decision but something that we must do daily: take up our cross; set-aside our agenda and begin to live King Jesus' agenda.
As a church we have done a good job recently reaching out to our diverse neighborhood. Our church family is beginning to look like our multi-ethnic neighborhood. This is certainly not easy and we have certainly not reached a level of perfection but we are to be commended for our efforts.
As a church we have made a serious effort to reach out to children and teenagers and we have seen some fruit as a result. It is imperative for any church that desires to be faithful to the gospel to reach the next generation and make disciples of that generation. You are to be commended for your efforts to adapt changes to better communicate the gospel to the next generation and to our neighborhood.
You have worked to remodel the church facilities and to provide handicapped accessible restrooms. You have embraced a move to change our style of worship music to include singing songs and reading Scripture in both Spanish as well as English. This must of course continue to be a work in progress.
I have tried to communicate that being a disciple of Jesus and making disciples of Jesus requires relationships. Disciples are not mass-produced. Rather they are forged in relationships. This is the Jesus model that we see in the New Testament and this is what I want us to continue to work to put into practice in our own life. Being and making disciples of Jesus does not happen by accident we must we intentional.
Like many other churches we have a big need for leadership. Leadership is not just a position or a title but leadership requires action. We need leadership for our church board. We need trustees who will step up and take responsibility for the building maintenance and overseeing the repairs and upkeep of our facilities. We need stewards on our church board who will take care of the responsibility of decorating the church, visitor follow-up, preparing communion, and church meals.
We need leadership in our youth department; we need leadership in our children's department, Sunday school teachers and workers.
We need leaders who will guide us and direct us and organize us to come together and pray as a one congregation. We need leaders who will help organize outreach events not just for children but also for adults.
Being a church takes money. It takes money to maintain the facilities, it takes money to pay the pastors, and it takes money to pay the electric bill. It all takes money but God has a plan for this, it's called the tithe. If each member were faithful to pay their tithe (10% of their increase) to God; our church would have no financial problems at all. The problem is here Eastridge, like most other churches, not everyone is faithful to do what God is asked them to do; and therefore the church struggles financially to meet the needs.
We need not worry about the gates of hell; they cannot stop the advance of God’s Kingdom, only our lack of obedience can stop us. I believe we have some good days ahead here at Eastridge Church. For this to be true we need everyone to join together and be the church God wants us to be.
· Prayer request
I spoke with Kevin Williams this morning and his surgery went well yesterday. The doctors did find cancer and they are running test to find out if it has spread beyond his lungs.
Beulah Peterson (Todd’s mother) had a heart attack yesterday morning. She had a couple of stints put in while she has been staying at St. Joseph. We want to remember both Kevin and Beulah in prayer.
On February 16th in our evening service at 6 pm we will have Nazarene missionaries David and Rhoda Restrick from Mozambique sharing about their work in Africa.
· Church Board Meeting
We will have our monthly Church board meeting at 4:30 pm in the Fellowship Hall
· Video Projector
We hope to make a purchase of a new video projector soon. Of course this requires some money above the normal operating expenses. We have already had some who offered to give towards this need above their tithes. If you would like to do so please mark your offering “projector” and we will make sure to apply to that expense.
· Quotes of the week
“Gluttony is eating and drinking as if there will be nothing tomorrow, as if the Father will forget to feed us. Gluttony is unbelief.” – Peter Leithart
“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part.” - Andrew Murray
"Learn the art of prayer, for fear dissolves in an atmosphere of prayer."
- E. Stanley Jones
“And first let us inquire, What is salvation? The salvation which is here spoken of is not what is frequently understood by that word, the going to heaven, eternal happiness. It is not the soul’s going to paradise, termed by our Lord, ‘Abraham’s bosom.’ It is not a blessing which lies on the other side death, or (as we usually speak) in the other world. The very words of the text itself put this beyond all question. ‘Ye are saved.’ It is not something at a distance: it is a present thing, a blessing which, through the free mercy of God, ye are now in possession of. Nay, the words may be rendered, and that with equal propriety, ‘Ye have been saved.’ So that the salvation which is here spoken of might be extended to the entire work of God, from the first dawning of grace in the soul till it is consummated in glory.”
– John Wesley in his sermon “The Scripture Way of Salvation”