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From the Pastor – November 2019

As I am writing this to you, I have been a part of this congregation for 4 Sundays. It has been good to meet all of you and I look forward to meeting those of you that I have not been able to meet. I am excited about my call to be your pastor. I am excited for what God has planned for this congregation.

It has been great to see the passion the members have for this church. The love you show each other is great. The welcome I received has been wonderful. Thank you for all your prayers and words of encouragement.

Most of us don’t like change. I don’t like change. I usually like things the way they were instead of trying to do something different. I like my old chair in my living room. I don’t imagine that I need to get a new one, but the arms cushions aren’t as comfortable as they once were, it squeaks when I put my feet up, it looks as if it has had better days. But I sure do like it. It fits me. I’m used to it and I know what to expect from it.

For those of you who have been able to come to worship, you have been met with some changes. The bulletin now contains a significant amount of the liturgy to help the newcomer navigate our worship style. We have added grape juice as an option for Holy Communion. Children and adults don’t necessarily like wine or they have personal reasons to not drink it. And there will be more changes to come.

Someone told me that with all the changes that have been made, they had to pay attention to what we were doing. They mention how they couldn’t just zone out during worship. That person remarked that it was a good thing, that the changes made shook them out of the complacency of doing the same thing every time.

The changes that you are seeing here on the weekend are not about changing just for the sake of changing. No one likes that. I don’t like it either. Most of us like to have a reason for why we need to change. We like to know the “why” behind the change.

“We’ve always done it that way.” When we started doing it that way, we had a reason. “We’ve always done it that way” is never a good reason to do something. If we want to keep doing something or change something, we need a reason that is different than “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

One change you might have noticed was where I would sit at certain points during worship. I like to sit in a pew. It helps me to feel like I am part of the congregation. I sit there purposefully because while it is different, it is because I am part of this congregation. While I have a special role within thecongregation, I am part of the congregation. I am not set apart from the congregation. Sitting there, in the front, in the pews helps convey that I am a part of you, not set apart from you. It gives us a sense of unity, that every member is a valued part of this community. It helps to break down the barrier between me and the congregation. It helps keep me connected to the reason that I am here, to love and be loved.

Another change is that we are not currently​ reading the psalms within the service. The psalm was removed for this season of worship. This removal isn’t permanent. As seasons change, both within the church year and the outside climate, there will be different liturgies used. Some of those liturgies will include a responsive reading of the psalm, and others will not.

As we change more and more things, the changes you will see is all about welcoming the newcomer to this church. When I was interviewing for this call, one common theme that kept coming up was the idea of growth, either in numbers of people attending, or giving, or coming to our student and children’s ministries.

As we think about how to grow, as you think about inviting your friends and neighbors, and the people that live around the church, we want to make the outsider feel as welcome in this church as you yourself feel. Well, maybe even more so! We want the newcomer to understand where things are and to be able to fully participate in worship with us. It is the reason the format of the bulletin changed. It helps the newcomer (and the rest of us, too)!

The changes are all about making the outsider welcome within this congregation. When you think about the newcomer, think about the person that has never been to this church or any church service in their life.

I’d like you to consider this question: How would a person who has never been to church in their life feel and think about walking into this building? When you answer that question, really think about the new person walking in our doors.

Our job, everyone’s job is to help the newcomer feel welcome, to feel a part of this community. To feel a part of this community way before they even start believing in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I look forward to many years of being a part of this congregation. The passion and love that everyone feels for this church is contagious. God is on the move and I am excited to see where the Holy Spirit leads us.

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