Thursday, September 28, 2006

sunday's comin'

Here's the email that went out to the GraceSLO family. There are great challenges we're facing. Your can share your comments and input here or via email.

Beloved Grace SLO Family,

I apologize in advance for what is a necessary and long email. Thanks for taking the time to read it. They say put the bottom line up front, so here goes . .

Will 250+ of you commit to sacrificing and serving others by attending the 8:00 AM service beginning this Sunday?

Will all of you consider parking in the Morro/Pacific parking structure this Fall?

Will you consider "adopting" a college student or 3 or 4 for this school year?

Let me now explain why I believe these commitments are essential for the continued growth of our ministry this Fall.

It Really was a Fall Kick-Off . . .

Last Sunday's Fall Kick-Off was AWESOME! Thanks to the many who labored to make the day a true expression of "inside out" ministry. All told, we had 1075 in worship with 250 guests for lunch, 180 of whom were new college students and 70 of whom were from 25 visiting families. What that means is that 1/4 of those in attendance were visiting for the first time. I'd call that an incredibly effective outreach event.

What if all those 250 come back this Sunday?

What if even 1/2 of the 180 college students invite a friend?

What if we kept the Fall Kick-Off spirit going and kept inviting our friends, neighbors, family, coworkers and total strangers to worship with us this Fall?

What if, all Fall, 25% of those in attendance were first time visitors?

Wouldn't we be crowded?

Wouldn't that be exciting?

This Sunday, October 1st, we dive back into 3 services at 8:00, 9:30 and 11:00 AM. As we've talked this week, our staff has recognized an exciting reality . . . if only 100 of the 180 college students come back and attend the 9:30 service before the college hour at 11:00, we've got a BIG problem/opportunity. Our staff hopes and believes we'll have many more than 100 college students attend our 9:30 service this Sunday! I don't know if you noticed, but in the Sundays leading up to the Fall Kick-Off, we were already quite full during the 9:30 service.

Let's see this as an opportunity, not as a problem.

In order to accommodate all these new Fall visitors, it's absolutely necessary that as many folks as possible (let's shoot for 250+) make a commitment to attend our 8:00 AM service this Fall. Will you please consider living the Gospel in this way for the sake of the proclamation of Christ to these college students and new families?

If you're unwilling to serve and sacrifice in this way for some reason, we'd love to know why. What are the changes that we could make in our ministry that would make it easier for you to make such a change in your worship pattern? We'd appreciate your input. Our desire is to do whatever we can to make room for all those who want to worship with us.

What a shame it would be for folks to turn away from Grace because it was a hassle to find a parking place or place to sit. Let's not let this happen!

Other Musings & Future Possibilities . . .

We believe that Grace is in a unique position to provide college students a truly intergenerational Gospel encounter in a way that few other churches in our community are able. We believe this integration into the overall life of the church is crucial to their growth and maturity in the Gospel during these college years. And it's happening! It's working! They're integrating! Our investment in college ministry is bearing real fruit.

All year long, we've been prayerfully pondering the possibility of the continued growth of our ministry. What if God should continue to bring both new families and college students to our doors? What if God were to continue to expand our opportunities to invest in lives and families for Gospel transformation and impact? We've asked again and again . . .

How can we make the 8:00 service more appealing and viable?

Is there a way to rearrange our programming to better balance our services?

Could we move the college hour or other Adult Bible Fellowships around to fix the problem?

Is there some other creative way we could expand our capacity and make more room?

To this point, we have yet to discover an ideal solution. All solutions come with sacrifices, inconveniences, and compromises.

Long term, we believe that establishing a concurrent and parallel 9:30 service in the Ministry Center opens up some exciting possibilities. This option would allow us to expand our seating capacity by up to 500 more people. This service would feature a live staff and worship team, but the message would happen via a live video feed of the service happening just next door in the Worship Center. Or we might reverse things once in a while and I might preach live over in the Ministry Center while those in the Worship Center enjoyed the video feed experience.

This would be a flexible and scalable model that would keep Grace on the same campus and at the same time on Sunday mornings, while greatly expanding our current capacity. This option might enable us to eliminate the 8:00 AM service altogether. During the summer and holiday seasons when the additional capacity isn't needed, we could easily collapse the Ministry Center service and scale back to our normal Worship Center.

We have talked about intentional ways to carefully guard our unity by insuring that both services followed a similar pattern, worshipped with roughly the same music, and were served by interchangeable intergenerational worship teams. We have a shared commitment to protect and even grow our intergenerational life together.

At this point, we believe this is the best option on the table and a real future possibility. After carefully considering the technical and staffing requirements, our staff made the corporate decision to hold off on the starting of this Video Venue Service for as long as we possibly can. This week, we reconsidered that decision and again reaffirmed our commitment to hold off and strive to rebalance our existing services this Fall. Will you help us?

When I think about all the ministry opportunities that God has placed in front of us THIS SUNDAY, this Fall and beyond, I am humbled and I rejoice. I think of Paul's Words in Philippians 1:18 . . .

Only that in every way . . . Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice!

Brothers and sisters of Grace, let us rejoice in the proclamation of Christ in these exciting days.Let's smile and sacrifice for the proclamation of Christ and the salvation of men and women. Let's continue the Fall Kick-Off warmth and hospitality all Fall by being a contagious, Christ-centered people.

As we prayerfully plan for our exciting future, your input is valuable and invited. If you have any ideas, thoughts or questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or any one of our ministry staff.

I consider it an honor and privilege to be your pastor and partner with you in this great Gospel adventure.

I'll see you on Sunday at 8:00 AM!

Pastor Tim

P.S. . . A final word to college students. . . You, too, can join us in this joyful sacrifice for the sake of your fellow college classmates . . . by attending the 8:00 AM service, serving during the 9:30 service in the children's, youth, welcome, refreshment or other ministry, and then attending the 11:00 college hour. Think about it!

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