The Next Seven
As I was driving to our Apopka campus last Sunday morning with the central Florida sun brightly shining on me, a thought occurred to me that brought me great joy. The thought went something like this: “Coming back for my first weekend after being away on a two-month Sabbatical kind of feels like I’m starting over here at Journey.” And then I began reflecting on my first weeks and months at Journey seven years ago. I really had no idea what I was coming to. Melinda and I moved here by faith in God’s leading and the Elders pursuing. I thought I understood the condition of the flock as much as you can from conversation and reading reports. But until you get heart-deep in a place and start life on life ministry, you really don’t know what you’re getting into.
A quip often attributed to Mark Twain goes: “He who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn no other way.” There were plenty of times in those first seven years when I definitely thought I’ve got a tiger by the tail!
And then I got to thinking about the many ways God had opened doors and opened hearts. I thought of the many new faces I met when I first arrived who have now become so dear to me and Melinda. I thought of the hundreds of baptisms we’ve witnessed, the new small groups formed, the relationships that have been established, the hope that has been given, the burdens that have been shared, the tears that have been wept together, the laughter that so easily ripples across our worship center, a second campus that was only a dream…so many things that God has done at and through Journey in the last seven years that truly amazes me. I thought how grateful and blessed I am that I’ve been privileged even to be a part of it, let alone lead it.
And then I thought, “If God can do that in the past seven years, with the condition of the church at that time, I can’t imagine what He’s going to in the next seven years with where we are today!”
And then I really started to get excited! Take it from the one who was there when Journey With John started: this is NOT the same church now that I came to seven years. Not even close. Jesus is building His church among us, as He promised He would. I have seen some of my best days in ministry at Journey these last seven years, and I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for the next seven years!
So whatever it is, wherever He leads, whatever it costs…I say SIGN ME UP FOR SEVEN MORE! God, may you do exceedingly and abundantly above what we can ask or imagine in the next seven years and may I one day look back at these seven upcoming years and once again think, “Look what God has done to build a growing community of people on a life-changing journey with Jesus!”
I Love My Church-Everybody’s Welcome
This weekend we will look at a very important value to Journey and a major reason why so many of us love our church. The value of warmly welcoming any and all who come is a distinctive marker in the Journey DNA. I felt it when I first showed up to visit a Journey worship gathering when nobody knew who I was or why I was there. It’s a repeated reason people give when asked about what they enjoy most about Journey. This is not accidental. Churches don’t drift into being welcoming places. They have to be intentional in their strategies and attitudes. This weekend we will look at a story from the ministry of Jesus that helps us see Jesus tackle head-on one the most basic tendencies that human beings display to divide themselves. If you’d like to read the story in advance, check out the gospel of John, chapter 4.
If you missed last weekend, you may have missed out on one of the best giveaways we’ve ever done at Journey. A very cool shirt that looks like this was given to all those who attended the worship service who wanted one. We also gave out #LovingTheJourney wrist-bands to children.
We have a limited number of t-shirts left but only in sizes Small and Medium at our Apopka campus. Our Mount Dora campus has some of all sizes left. We have plenty of wrist-bands left to give away. We will give the remaining t-shirts away until they are all gone at both campuses this weekend. So get yourself to one of our campuses this weekend and wear the shirt that proudly says: I Love My Church!
BTW: Our Mount Dora campus had a solid start to their new two worship gatherings format. Their total attendance was 217 and both services had a good core of worshippers. I believe they will only go up from there and many more people will be reached through our Mount Dora campus.
Catch Up-Start Up-Go Up
During our offering time this past week at Apopka, I spontaneously coined a phrase that I am now unofficially declaring is our giving theme of the month of August. We have some great ministry momentum coming out of the summer as we witnessed evidences of growth and transformation in many areas. However, one area we struggled in over the summer was in our giving. It’s not uncommon for churches to experience a dip in giving during the summer with people gone on vacations and travelling. I’ve heard this summer saw record numbers of people on the roads as our nation’s economy has continued to improve.
So here is my challenge during the month of August:
Catch up on your giving if you’ve been gone a lot this summer and missed some giving opportunities.
Start up giving if you’ve not been giving at all, and especially if you wear a t-shirt that says, “I love my church!”
Go up in your giving as God prompts you to grow in your faith and faithfulness.
As always, the most consistent way to give is to become an electronic giver. You can do so right now by clicking here. Automating your giving allows you to make a regular offering to God whether you are present or not, continually invest in life-change, and love your church. Even though Melinda and I were away for nine weekends this summer, our tithes and offering never missed a week. Two transactions happen every Wednesday in my bank account, some weeks simultaneously: A Journey paycheck is deposited and a Journey tithe check is sent out. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
About half of our weekly offering is now received in some form of electronic giving and that percentage is growing. It used to be churches received almost all of their collections on the weekend with the exception of the small amount that came through the mail. Today we receive people’s offering every day through e-giving, and what a blessing that is! Thanks for those who have already responded to this unofficial catch up-start up-go up August campaign. I’ll let you know at the end of month how we did.