“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
One of the important tasks of an interim pastor is identifying how a congregation is functioning in healthy ways and then “fan the flames” of encouragement. The 9.5 months I have been with you has been, and continues to be, a blessing and I want to share what I’m calling “Sparkling Gems for The Grove!” I hope to encourage and challenge you with a sparkling gem of how I have witnessed you living your faith in Jesus Christ!
Sparkling Gem #1: Continued desire for Gathering Together Again (which is the theme for 2023 that the Church Board choose at their retreat in March!). I have heard this desire from my very first day. The pandemic did much to draw people away from church (all churches) and the loss is deeply felt. I have seen prayerful efforts to invite people to return because you want to be together to worship God and to grow in your faith. This also includes having fun together! The fellowship of believers is important to you.
Sparkling Gem #2: Brother John Janzti told me that The Grove has gifted and wise lay leaders, and I have witnessed this in many ways. I have enjoyed working alongside the Church Board and Commissions, particularly at the recent Board Retreat where prayerful discernment and listening to God drew your leaders together in unity and in purpose.
Sparkling Gem #3: I have witnessed your desire for unity, service, and outreach. The Grove is an active congregation! You are eager to learn of the riches of Christ, to be One in Christ, and to share Christ in both word and deed. Certainly, the immense gift of time, talent, and treasure that went into offering "Bow the Knee" is a testimony of your passion. You have generous hearts!
Sparkling Gem #4: I have been excited to witness your desire to involve children and youth in worship services. You understand the importance of faith formation across the age span. Celebrating and including children and youth in the life of the congregation is a sign of a healthy church.
Sparkling Gem #4: Spiritual growth is happening. Worship services, Sunday school, small groups, prayer groups, Bible study groups, baptisms…all of these, and more, are testimonies of the Holy Spirit at work among you. People being drawn closer to Jesus is another sign of a healthy congregation.
May God who joins and holds us together grant that we live in harmony and unity with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that we may be empowered by the Holy Spirit to glorify God the Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all! AMEN.
I hope these Sparkling Gems are encouraging to you!
I continue to pray for you,
Pastor Deb