Every Child Needs a Dog!

With much anticipation, I am very much looking forward to worship services this coming Sunday and to preaching a second sermon in the series, Finding Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (Radical Kindness When It’s Hard to Find).  I will be preaching from the account of Jesus interacting with the children as it is told though the lens of The Gospel of Mark.  The sermon title is Every Child Needs a Dog!  The theme of the message is the way that children remind adults that one of the most honest expressions of being human, of being alive, is the spontaneous ability to play.  Do you know that know that play is a reflection of God’s image with us? Do you know that playfulness is a form of worshipping God?  If you want to read a few more paragraphs about the power of play in our lives, read this brief articleI wrote last year for Macedonian Ministries.  I hope you will invite a friend to meet you at church this Sunday—I would love to meet your friends, and so would the whole NAPC family! 

Of course, another reason that Cynthia and I want to be among you at North Avenue this Sunday is to share with the you the incredible spiritual energy of the Holy Spirit that is so present among our life together.  I can’t tell you how many people mentioned to me how being at church last Sunday was so very inspiring.  It was the first day of the new worship schedule that addresses a long-standing challenge of not allowing enough time on Sunday mornings to fully worship, enjoy fellowship, and attend a Sunday school class—without rushing from one to the other.  So many of you told us that you found the less rushed schedule deeply satisfying. Again those times are: 9 a.m.  Contemporary Worship; 10 a.m. Fellowship in Hospitality Hall; 10:15 a.m. Discipleship Hour; 11:15 a.m. Traditional Worship; and the Evening Service continues to gather at 5:45 p.m.

The children’s ministry was abuzz last Sunday with the excitement of the joy of the Lord; that same joy was expressed in overflowing youth ministry classes, Discipleship classes, and everywhere we looked.  The New Membership Exploration Class is filled with people who are searching for a church family that loves God and loves people from all walks of life.  In spending time with prospective new members, I am always encouraged, challenged, and inspired.  All three worship services were marked by music that helped usher the congregation into the very presence of God.  It was truly something special all weekend long.  

Throughout last weekend, we met hundreds of newly arriving international students, especially among the Chinese; undergraduate and graduate students from neighboring universities, who are looking for a church home; and visitors from the surrounding community.  Be sure and meet someone new this Sunday.

Finally, I want you to know that Matt Seadore, NAPC’s Executive Director of Ministry and Mission, will be on an extended leave of absence for the purpose of deep rest and restoration of his soul.  Over the past several years, the church has looked to Matt to take on additional responsibilities that have left him drained and exhausted.  Matt has successfully and effectively served as the staff point person for the Shine Building Transition; he has helped guide for the complete reorganization of the church’s leadership model; he has worked with me to help reshape the staff design, which resulted in his assuming additional leadership responsibilities within the staff.  Along the way, Matt completed his master’s degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in California, and has now begun his doctoral studies at Fuller.  In each and every case, Matt has risen to the occasion and done exceptional work among us.  Now, he is understandably tired in body, mind, and soul.  At my suggestion, the church HR Team has approved up to 90 days of rest and restoration. You can read a brief letter from Matt here.

Grace and peace,

Scott

A Sunday Morning Shift

In light of the never-ending overdose of news, I want to encourage you to maintain a calm and prayerful spirit. In my own spiritual disciplines, I am attempting to follow a simple guideline:

  1. Don’t try to keep up with the news every 20 - 30 minutes; instead, give yourself an hour or two—or more—to be free from checking the news (after all, you can easily catch up with the news later in the day).
  2. Take time each day to simply be quiet and prayerful—no music, no talking, no interruptions. Reflect on God’s love for you and the world in Jesus Christ. (You can do it!)
  3. Do something good today for someone else. (“So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” -Galatians 6:9)

Finally, be diligent in not allowing the chaos and confusion of our times rob you of the joy that God intends for each and every one of us. Remember the Apostle Paul’s charge to the early church when he admonished them, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, Rejoice” (Letter to the Philippians 4:4). Paul wrote those words during a time of great distress in his personal life and during a time of great turmoil in the midst of the congregation.
 
On a different note, I want to let you know that after many months of study, reflection, and prayer, the NAPC Session has approved a slightly changed Sunday morning schedule that will go into effect on August 19. The new Sunday schedule is as follows:

  • 9 - 10 a.m.
    Contemporary Service (Sanctuary)
  • 10 - 10:15 a.m.
    Fellowship (Hospitality Hall)
  • 10:15 - 11:10 a.m. 
    Discipleship Classes (Various Locations)
  • 11:10 - 11:15 a.m. 
    Transition to Worship
  • 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m.
    Traditional Service (Sanctuary)
  • 12:15 - 12:30 p.m. 
    Fellowship (Hospitality Hall)
  • 5:45 - 6:45 p.m.
    Evening Service (Sanctuary)

We are excited that the addition of only 15 minutes in the overall morning schedule will open rich time for fellowship and discipleship. You will hear more about these changes in the weeks to come, so stay tuned!  
 
As always, I encourage you to do everything possible to remain generous in your financial giving through NAPC during these summer months and always.
 
With much anticipation,

Scott