The Church Blog

Here are updates from First Lutheran Church.

This week we start an exciting journey. For the first time in about a decade, our Sunday School kids will be in the entire worship service with us. They will have time for a fuller lesson (with a new curriculum that I hear is stellar). There will be a few new Sunday School teachers.

The kids also will get the opportunity to listen to the Bible readings, hear the sermon, confess the Creed, and participate in the prayers and the offering. For many of these kids, this will be one of the first times they have been a part of these important moments of worship.

To help facilitate this change, I have a few words of encouragement.

  1. Be patient.

When you do something for the first time, it is simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking. I don’t expect our kids to be perfectly behaved and neither should you. I expect them to be kids who are learning something new. They will probably have questions. As a congregation, let’s work together to teach them, lead them, and answer their questions with patience. Let’s try our best not to give parents or kids dirty looks or yell at kids for misbehaving. Let’s share with them the joy we find in worship as we get to hear the good news of God’s promises.

  1. Help them follow along.

Some of our parents and grandparents have several children they are looking after. This is the first time in a long time they’ll have to do that for a full hour of worship. Don’t be afraid to sit with a family and help out a little bit. Some of our Sunday School kids may wish to sit with other families and build relationships with them (with their parents’ permission of course). That’s great! Worshiping together as a family is wonderful. Some parents and children really take joy in that experience. I know I did. My sister loved sitting with Grandpa Jack and Grandma Delores (not really our grandparents, just family friends). Sitting with family and sitting with others can both be great. Let’s be flexible with that knowing each family and each child is different.

  1. Model what to do.

As humans, we often learn by observation. If you’ve ever been to a new church before, you know how this goes. You sort of wait and watch to see when other people stand and sit and sing. You react to those around you and follow their lead. Starting this Sunday we’ll have a page for sermon notes in the bulletin. Take notes. Draw a picture. Take that page home with you. Ask your kids what notes they took in the service.

Last Sunday we commissioned our preschool teachers for another year of service. On Wednesday, the new school year started with lots of new faces, and even a few tears from some of our new students at being dropped off at preschool for the first time.

Last Sunday I also mentioned we’ll be doing the Adopt-a-Teacher program once again. I’ll have a sign-up sheet in the breezeway between the sanctuary and the education room for people to sign up if they are interested.

The Adopt-a-teacher program has three expectations:

  1. Buy small gifts for your assigned teacher for Christmas, their birthday, and teacher appreciation week (May 4-May 8, 2020).
  2. Send notes of encouragement and/or thank you cards regularly (once a month is a good frequency).
  3. Pray for your teacher and get to know them if possible.

There is no need for this to be secret. The goal is to build relationships between the church and the preschool. You’ll get a sheet with some basic information about your assigned teacher in the next few weeks.

Thanks to everyone who helped launch this program last year, and thanks in advance for supporting it this year.

God’s richest blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

Sometimes, it is good to just remind the congregation of a few things that don’t always get mentioned. I’d like to remind you all of our website and some of the useful resources you will find.

Online Giving

Sunday Mornings can be hectic. You might not remember to grab your offering envelopes or your checkbook. One option for our members, guests, and friends is to give online. If you go here: Simply Giving Online Give/Donate,  you will be taken to a secure site where you can make a one-time donation or set up a recurring donation for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly giving. Several people in the congregation are already doing this. Stephanie and I utilize this resource because it ensures that the first fruits of our labor go to the Lord and His work and that we won’t forget or make up some excuse to not give. I would highly encourage you to give this some thought and prayer.

Sermons

If you are out of town and happen to miss a Sunday, or you just really want to listen to a sermon again, they are all archived on our website as well. If you go on this link: Pastor's Page, it will take you to a list of my articles from First Notes and links to previous sermons will show up on the right side of the screen.

Facebook

Here is a link to our Facebook page. We use the page as a way to communicate announcements, events, and share encouragement with our church and preschool community.

That’s all for now. If you need any help navigating these things, let me know. I’m happy to help.

God’s blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

Last Sunday, I mentioned our Sunday School switch and our desire for more Sunday School teachers. As the number of children in our congregation grows, the need for more teachers is evident. In the fall of 2020 we will have a group of young people starting confirmation. These are good challenges to be facing, but we have to prepare for them.

If you’re anything like I was the year before I started teaching Sunday School, back in 1999, you probably had no inkling it was something you’d be asked to do. Perhaps at the thought of yourself teaching Sunday School you say to yourself, “I don’t know enough,” or “I’m not good with kids,” or “I’m too old,” or “I’m too young,” or some other negative thing about yourself. I know I’ve done that about myself. In 1999 I had to be the youngest Sunday School teacher St. Paul Lutheran Church had ever seen in its 100+ year history, but God shaped me through that experience, and he shaped my four kindergarteners.

In 2003, in my first year of college, I started having unwanted, unbidden thoughts that maybe I should become a pastor. I tried to repress them, hide them, explain them away with how I wasn’t enough. Despite my best efforts, God had other plans. People I barely knew started coming up to me and asking if I’d ever thought about being a pastor. No joke: there was one week where at least a dozen people had this conversation with me. Some of them were strangers at a church I had never even attended before.

Sometimes God does that. Sometimes God works through other people to nudge us in the direction that He wants us to go. I didn’t listen very well. It took 10 years before I actually stepped foot on the seminary campus for my first day of classes, but I don’t know that I would have kept thinking about it if it hadn’t been for the encouragement of others.

Teaching Sunday School might not be your gift or your calling. That’s okay. You may be called to some other form of service in the church and community, but you also might be surprised by how well you take to the task and how much God blesses you as you pass on the faith to His children. Think about it. Pray about it.

God’s blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy  

One of the things that has been on my mind a lot lately is how to help with the transition of having our Sunday School kids in worship throughout the whole service. I’ve had a lot of ideas, some of them better than others. I’ve heard several ideas from many of you which I have been grateful for.

One thing you will notice me doing with more regularity in the coming weeks is explaining parts of the service. These moments won’t be scripted in the bulletin, but they will hopefully be opportunities for the kids to get a down to earth explanation of what is happening, and perhaps the adults will learn a few things as well.

I also plan to have a time for prayer requests on the second Sunday of each month. Instead of writing out the prayers beforehand, I’ll ask the congregation if there are any prayer requests, write them down, and pray for them. I want to do this for many reasons, but one is to show that we are a community that cares for one another, that brings our burdens and our joys before the Lord and before each other so that we can share in those burdens and joys together. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

Finally, I plan to have an insert for sermon notes. I personally have a hard time listening to sermons without taking notes. As our youngest members begin listening to sermons for the first time, they may find it helpful to jot some things down or draw a picture. You may find that helpful too. And since it is an insert, you can take it home with you and maybe even hang it on your refrigerator.

Thanks again for your patience as we move forward together in faith.

God’s blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

This Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of my ordination. In that first year, I preached 57 sermons. You may or may not have noticed, but I am a big proponent of variety when it comes to preaching. The Gospel has many facets and far more depth than I will ever uncover. In each sermon I preach, my introduction typically starts with these words – “Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord, Savior, and (fill in the blank), Jesus Christ. That fill in the blank spot is the Gospel metaphor I’ll be working with in the sermon. In the 57 sermons I delivered in my first year, there were 41 different words that filled in that blank. There were 41 different Gospel metaphors that came to light in just one year of preaching.

Each of these speaks to who Jesus is. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Savior. We see that every week. But we also see over time that Jesus is our leader, our shepherd, our refuge, our strength, our peace, our reconciliation, our joy, and so much more.

As I enter into my second year here at First Lutheran Church and Preschool, I hope that you will continue to see that I have not exhausted the Gospel. I hope you will see that the variety and depth of what Jesus does for us is expansive. I hope you will find that Jesus’ incarnation, life, ministry, suffering, death, resurrection, ascension, and return are applicable to your life and your walk with God.

God’s richest blessings on your week.

Pastor Andy

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LCMS logoFirst Evangelical Lutheran Church is a member of the California-Nevada-Hawaii District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, a family of congregations focused on bringing Christ to the nations and sharing His unconditional saving Love within our community.

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