Thursday, June 02, 2005

Encouraging Email of the Month

Below is the kind of email that makes my day. . . .week. . . . month! This person understands some of the unique features of Grace that we are pursuing together. She gets it.

Good job, Al, in the area of worship. Good job, Ken & staff, in the youth area. Good job to all for continuing to show hospitality to outsiders.

I pass it on to the congregation at Grace via "life together" for the express purpose of encouraging your hearts and to remind us all that our efforts to create a warm welcome here at Grace make a huge difference in the experience of those who visit. We are doing well in this area, but can excel still more. Our ministry is a team effort and every single piece matters. Together the parts make up a cohesive and compelling whole. Every detail matters. Every conversation in the court yard counts. I hope this feedback motivates you as it does myself. Let's empty ourselves out for the sake of the Gospel and good of others (Phil. 2).

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory. --Psalm 115:1.

Dear Members of Grace Church Staff,

I have recently returned to SLO with my family after 25 years away. I grew up in this area and attended Grace Church before heading off to college and beyond. Much has changed, both in the campus and personnel! We have lived all over the country, and have visited many churches as we searched for a church home in each place. We finally made it over to Grace a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to share what a great experience we all had. The first visit, my husband, and our 3 kids who are still at home, went to the 9:00 service. It was wonderful. Not only was the music beautiful, it wasn't amplified to the degree that we needed to use the earplugs we've learned to carry with us to church services. We really appreciate that! We also enjoyed the sermon which was solidly Bible-based. Then, we were greeted by several people who a) noticed that we were there and were new, and b) seemed genuinely friendly and warm. I'm sorry to report that this is exceptional among churches we've visited, even in this area. The next visit (this past Sunday), our kids, (13, 15, and 17), visited the Jr. High/High School Sunday school. I was afraid I would hear the usual report: "the kids are unruly and disrespectful to the leaders", "no one said hello to us - it seems they all have their cliques", "the leader was trying to be 'one of the gang' and didn't have anything of substance to say", "the music was so loud it hurt our ears", etc. My kids are used to real Bible study (at home, BSF, through Christian schools they attended in another city, etc.) and have been uniformly disappointed that the youth programs at other churches were so weak. Not at Grace! They came home enthusiastically telling us about the message Mr. Peet had prepared, said the kids in the group were welcoming, and that this was only a subset of the usual group because of a church related outing for the older students. The only thing that was not 100% positive was that the music/voices were amplified a bit too much in a room they felt no microphones/amps were needed. But this is a minor point and something for which we usually come prepared (see above). Obviously, the kids, staff, and members at Grace take reaching out seriously and are doing that beautifully.

I want to commend and thank you for an introduction to your church that fills me with a sense of relief that we have FINALLY found a place that can be our church home, and where our kids feel comfortable and welcome among the established youth. It is clear that all this is "business as usual" at Grace, and is a great blessing to us.

Let's not grow weary! --Pastor Tim


Anonymous said...

While it's great that Grace Church is being perceived as welcoming and teaching the truth, as well as challenging our youth, I think that it's important to remember that other churches are indeed also teaching the gospel and challenging the youth as well, and that we are all partners in this great commission. We should delight in doing all things excellently, not in doing them better than someone else. I would also like to add that I think the people providing the youth's music do a fantastic job each and every week and I don't want them to be discouraged by negative critiques. I can imagine that a lot of preparation and time go into it and I know that many students and staff are blessed by this ministry. I don't want this blog to become a subtle way of criticizing other churches or one another.

Pastor Tim Theule said...

Thanks very much for this comment. Neither do I want "life together" become a subtle way of criticizing other churches or one another.

I posted this email only for the purpose of encouraging our congregation, not as a way to compare ourselves or criticize others.

I hope my commitment to work with other pastors and/or churches in our community is clear to those at Grace Church. We have much in common and many are faithfully preaching the Gospel.

I didn't consider this email in the light you understood it.

Also, I too, agree that our youth do a great job with music. God is at work.

Thanks, again. . . Pastor Tim

Anonymous said...

Pastor Tim, I have no doubt that you only intended to share the email to encourage the flock. Your commitment to work with other pastors and churches IS very clear and I regret that my post brought that into question. I just felt that the email's encouragement was kind of "back-handed" encouragement as the compliments were so tightly connected with criticisms of other churches. I just think we have to be careful with that kind of thing.