If you’ve turned on the TV lately or looked at the news on social media, it’s hard to miss all the political talk that’s happening. Everyone seems to have an opinion on where our nation is headed and what needs to change. As you’ve also probably noticed, many people are convinced their opinion is clearly the one everybody else should adopt.

To be honest, I try to avoid political conversations as much as possible, but I think it’s important for each of us to consider how much of our lives is (or isn’t) consumed by talk, whether political or not, that only leaves us stressed out, frustrated, and even more exhausted. Check out what the Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:15-17… If you want gangrene, then just ignore these verses 🙂

While I believe we shouldn’t stick our head in the sand, there’s a perspective we must strive for that keeps us informed of what’s happening but doesn’t distract us from our calling as the church. We should staying informed so we can best know how to respond to these conversations, but we must respond as Jesus would by providing hope and perspective in a country that seems to have lost all hope and even its identity to some degree.

So, how about some good news and a shift away from politics? God is doing some amazing things in our church, and as summer already feels like a distant memory, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate what’s transpired over the last two months or so. I’ll sum it up using a few words we’re all becoming more familiar with: UP, IN, and OUT.

UP: Celebrating and Seeking Jesus

If you been to one of our Sunday gatherings over the last few weeks, you have probably sensed a genuine level of excitement and have seen the importance of arriving early to get a seat (ha ha). The Holy Spirit is definitely stirring in our gatherings. People are singing out, engaging after the service, and inviting their friends.

I’m so encouraged by the sense of energy and anticipation that God has been building during the summer! That’s the cool thing… It’s happened during the summer! Summer is when churches are supposed to slow down, drop off, and go into cruise control, but this summer has been a time of refreshment, inspiration, and preparation for The Grove… But WHY have our Sunday gatherings been like this?

I believe people’s hearts are open. I believe people are being more sensitive to the Holy Spirit and wrestling with how to respond to His promptings. I’m a firm believer that if each person will embrace the UPWARD dimension in their life beyond Sunday, it will positively impact our experience when we gather together on Sundays. I believe we are seeing glimpses of that taking place, but we are just getting started!

We also rolled out this new resource connected with the Bible App to help you further connect in the Bible throughout your week, so be sure to take advantage of this each Sunday. Here’s the link for this week…  http://bible.com/events/264176

OUT: Taking responsibility for the community where we live, work, and play!

Over the summer, we formed a partnership with Adrian Burnett Elementary. Some may ask “Why partner with a school? and Why pick Adrian Burnett?” Those are great questions, so in case you were wondering, here a some quick responses…

First, we partner with schools because community life tends to happen around schools. There are needs in schools, and if we can serve our community with the love of Jesus, He will lead us to build relationships, love on families, and meet needs. As we do this, He will build His church. At the end of the day, it’s not about people seeing The Grove Church, but it’s about people seeing the church be the church and Jesus getting the glory.

Second, some schools have greater needs than others. With our new church facility, Adrian Burnett is the closest elementary school to us, but they also have the greatest needs. Principal Michelle Wolfenbarger was with us during our August 6th service and shared some of the needs with our church.

So far this summer, we have provided breakfast to the entire staff, and because of everyone’s sacrificial giving, we were able to give the school a donation of $1,300. We are also planning to paint one of the playgrounds and provide monthly gifts for the staff and teacher of the month.

We also took another $1,300 from that sacrificial offering and gave it to some families in our community who are recovering from a serious car accident. Families in our church who know them felt we should respond in some way, so again, “Thank You” church for your willingness to be the hands and feet of Jesus toward people many of you many not even know.

This Saturday, we’re restarting our free food market, and it’ll be the first time we get to serve people from our new location. Many people have signed up to serve and connect with people this Saturday!

Keep investing in relationships. Tell your story. Believe that God is at work all around you. There are people in your life that God has placed there for you to reach. Be empowered and let the Holy Spirit lead you!

IN: Serving and Encouraging One Another

When each person does their part within the church responsibilities are shared and no one gets burned out. Over the summer, we saw new people step up to serve in several areas of church. The more people involved the more we’ll reflect a healthy expression of Jesus’ church. Whether it’s been with our Kids Ministry, Student Ministry, First Impressions, or Worship Team, people are getting involved, and it’s so exciting to see that happen.

I’ve only been here about 3 1/2 months, but as I have conversations with people during the week, there’s a greater sense of clarity, togetherness, and excitement that has developed during the summer. We cannot take that for granted, and we must continue to cover one another in prayer. When God brings someone to your mind, text them, call them, take them out for coffee. Be an intentional encourager, and let God work through you to build up His church.

There’s much to be excited about in the present and in the future. I’ll share some snapshots of the future at our Night of Worship coming up next Wednesday, August 23rd, at 6:30. Clear that date on your calendar, and come ready for an evening of worship through song, testimonies, prayer, and communion.