Hey y’all, I’ve got six things to run by you this week:
First, I’ve never been more thankful to be the lead pastor of our church. The four weeks away from preaching, hearing your stories about what God is doing in your life, watching him grow our church, and his continued work on my slow and stubborn heart made this past Sunday one of the most memorable in my time here in Athens. My heart is full, both in the joy and sorrow of sharing life with you.
Second, on Sunday I articulated four hopes that I have for us as we head into the next eight years of our journey together. More than anything, I hope a) that nothing thrills us more than God being God (Eph 1:3-10); b) that we hear story after story of conversions to Jesus, community and mission (Eph 2:1-22); c) that all of us play our part in building out the church (Eph 4:1-16); and d) that we look more and more like Jesus (4:17-24). If you weren’t in town last week, you can hear the sermon on our website or through our podcast on iTunes. I’m making these hopes a regular part of my prayer for us - should be fun to see what God does with it.
Third, this Sunday we jump back into Luke as Jesus continues to teach us what prayer is all about. The text we’re in (11:5-13) includes two pretty wild stories about bugging neighbors at midnight for bread and fathers giving snakes and scorpions as snacks to their kids. Pray that we don’t lose the raw intensity of both stories as we learn that prayer is our natural response to being loved by God.
Fourth, as cool as it is that we had our largest summer crowd since I’ve been here last Sunday, I’m just as excited about the work God is doing in using you to restore our city. This spring, a group of people from our church launched JobsforLife, a program to help develop life skills needed to secure and hold on to a job. Here are some pictures, including the recent graduation of the first JfL class here in Athens. I’m excited for these ladies, proud of our family, and hopeful for the future of JfL and the many other ways God can use our church in and around Athens.
Fifth, if you have a story about what God is doing in your life, we want to help you tell that story to the rest of our church. We’re building out a team that is helping us capture those stories in the life of our church, but you can help us by emailing Stephen Terry (sterry@missionathens) and giving us a brief rundown of the story that you’d like to tell. And in case you’re worried that no one will want to hear your story, tell us what you have and let’s figure it out together.
And sixth, I want to give you a brief overview of our involvement in the Acts 29 Network. Back in 2006, I was looking for help as we were working to revitalize the church and came across the work of Acts 29 in starting new churches and helping to kickstart churches like ours. We joined the network in 2007 and in 2010, I was asked to head up the Acts 29 Network here in Georgia. As network director, I’m responsible for making sure that we’re doing all we can to recruit men to start new churches in Georgia, to assess their readiness for the work, and to provide training and support once they’re doing the work. There are currently 14 churchesinActs 29 Georgia, with another 6-9 being started in the next 12-18 months. I bring this up to thank you on two counts - first, for allowing me to take a few hours a week to help these men start churches like ours around the state; and second, for your generosity which provides for very real needs in these churches. Out of every dollar you give, four cents goes to helping these churches thrive. And while that might not sound like much, you’d be amazed at how God is using those pennies. Here’s a videofromFourPointsChurch in Acworth that’ll give you a glimpse of what God is doing through you around the state.
Greater things are yet to come...