Worship at Christ Presbyterian Church: May 26, 2019
Scripture Readings and sermon begin at 36:30
Scriptures of the day: Acts 16:9-15 & John 14:23-29
It’s not often that I can say that I am doing something I never could have imagined myself doing. This past week I began working with a sister church of our presbytery as part of an Administrative Commission. An Administrative Commission (AC) is one of the tools the Presbytery has to help congregations that are in extreme need of help. In fact, an AC actually has the power to “Assume Original Jurisdiction” of a church. That means they can relieve the Session of their duties. This is why I would have never imagined that I would be part of an AC. Overall, I have sought to be part of the encouraging and equipping arm of the church not the governance side. An AC is a governance body. Often the governance side of the presbytery is seen in a negative light. This is due to the fact that more times than not, it is interacted with during conflict or transitions. Yet, this AC is different. We were invited by the Session to work with them.
The Session of this church asked that the Presbytery appoint an AC to help them get unstuck. We are calling this AC a “soft” Administrative Commission. The Presbytery’s hope, along with the Session, is that by working with them in this capacity we can help them gain a clearer vision for their life together. Personally, this is why I said yes. Through the support of our congregation my training as a Coach is a special gift to be used in times like this. This AC hopes to partner with the church to empower their session and members to find their vitality and direction. As a coach this is an exciting opportunity to make a difference in the life of a congregation.
I wanted to share this with you for two reasons. One of my commitments coming back from Sabbatical was that I was going to commit to a fuller participation in the Presbytery. In the words of one of my favorite TV personalities, “I don’t embrace excuses, I embrace solutions.” During Sabbatical I found a deeper appreciation for the connectional nature of the church and want to be part of the solutions. Secondly, in the past I haven’t always shared in meaningful ways the work that I personally or the Presbytery corporately does. Our denomination is filled with talented and gifted people and we shouldn’t take that for granted.
Finally, I would ask that you hold myself, the Administrative Commission, Session and Congregation of our sister church in prayer. This is perhaps the greatest gift of a connectional church. Much like our corporate prayers as a congregation, we have the power to lift up our brothers and sisters through out the Church.
Yesterday, I came to the realization that tomorrow will be the four month mark of my return from sabbatical. That means I have been back as long as I was away. The interesting thing is that during these four months I think I have grown more than while I was away. Returning to Christ Presbyterian Church after sabbatical has been held its own unique challenges and blessings.
When I returned to Christ Presbyterian Church I returned with a commitment to spend more time in relationship with people. As I have said in the past, one thing I realized was that I had allowed practical concerns and duties to get in the way of relationships. One of the great strengths of CPC is that more than our activities connect us. We are proud of the fact that we seek to support and love one another on a deeper level. It has been a blessing to spend time just talking about life with our members and friends. I continue to seek opportunities to simply chat and enjoy the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. I would encourage everyone to make time to not only talk to me but to other congregants in such a way. I have experienced worship, service and prayer in a much deeper way through these conversations. Continue reading
One of the interesting things about my sabbatical time was that for the first time in over 20 years I was not “bound” to a worship community. I didn’t have a place that was expected to worship. This is a unique place to be for a Pastor. Normally on Sundays I know where I am going to be except for perhaps during the four Sunday’s I have for vacation.
It was interesting because I think it gave me a glimpse into the mindset of the unchurched or at least those seeking a new church. For the first time in a very long time I had the option of where to attend worship or even the scandalous choice of not attending worship. I was in a place where I could “shop” for churches. It was interesting trying to decide where to go. I had to consider things like, distance, service times and style. Even as I considered these concerns I realized that there was something that beat our all, a pre-existing connection. The churches I chose to attend I either knew the pastors or had worked with the congregation in another capacity in the presbytery.
This got me thinking about the often-reported studies that tell us that people often attend worship for the first time because they are invited or given the recommendation by a friend. One such study reports that when asked why they began attending a church, 86% of the people cited an invitation from a friend. That is compared to 6% who started attending because the Pastor invited them. As one friend said on Facebook, that means congregation members have 80% more power than pastors. Continue reading
First and foremost it is great to be back with Christ Presbyterian Church. To say I missed the church would be an understatement. In the beginning stages of my time away there was a sense of relief. For the first time in forever, I was free from the “daily demands” of ministry. Shutting down email and realizing that the next four months of congregational ministry weren’t something I should or really could worry about was freeing. Yet, in the end, especially the last few weeks, I was left with a yearning. The cliché, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” really is true. I found myself ready to come back to the congregation I love and the people who comprise it.
That’s not to say that there wasn’t a bit of anxiety about my return. After all, I really had no idea what was happening in the life of Christ Presbyterian Church. That is a very strange place to be. Even when I arrived as a newly called pastor, I felt like I knew more. Thankfully, I also knew that we have great leadership at Christ Presbyterian Church and the work we have done to build a strong spiritual community. I knew that God’s Spirit would be present in the congregation and all would be well. Continue reading
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