Category Archives: Pastor Lou’s Blog

A new approach to ministry planning!

Important news!   We are reorganizing our bi-monthly meetings in the coming year!

First… a big thank you to ministry leaders, council and staff for the investment you have made in serving our community creatively and with love through our bi-monthly ministry team meetings.  These meetings were intended to give a regular rhythm to our calendar planning and have a time when council and staff could be present to help with anything our teams would need on the spot!  While these meetings were worthwhile, they were not completely helpful to teams that could not be present consistently for these larger gatherings.  The time has come to evaluate their effectiveness and format.  We also wanted to see if we could improve the efficiency of everyone’s time.

So we are going to streamline our meetings to three intentional and purposeful planning times each year.

At these three meeting times we will have a chance to coordinate our ministry programs and events with months of lead time, create an orderly rhythm to our calendar and work synergistically together! All teams are encouraged to meet independently as needed, and remember that staff and council are ALWAYS available to partner with you. We believe this shift in our meeting format will be more helpful to everyone!

Please mark your calendars for our first Strategic Planning Meeting:
  • Saturday, September 23rd from 8:00 – 11:00 am
  • Location tba

Questions? Click here. Thanks so much for showing up with love in Christ’s Name!

January Message Series

Peace

For thlightstock_187355_jpg_julie_douglase month of January we want to put a bright spotlight on God’s promise of peace!

How can we nourish peace in ourselves and pass it on to others?  It turns out that Peace is one of the most important dimensions of faith.   Peace is spoken of very often in the Bible in powerful and profound ways.  In our messages in January we will explore how Christian faith and peace are so directly related!  We will look into questions such as:  Can peace take more of a hold on our lives? Can we shed some of the worry and anxiety of our hard driven lifestyles?  Can we experience the peace that we need?

Please come out every Sunday in January with your family and explore the gift and promise of peace with me!

Exciting changes coming!

Have you ever wanted to serve God by serving communion?

communionGreetings!  This is Julie Douglas, your friendly neighborhood Director of Communications and Worship Team Coordinator here at Rejoice.  Thank you to Pastor Lou for allowing me to guest blog this week.  The reason you’re hearing from me is that I wanted to let you know that we’ve got some exciting changes coming to how we do communion at Rejoice!

It is an honor and privilege to be able to serve communion as a symbol of God’s grace to others in our congregation, and we want to make this opportunity open to all!  Communion servers will no longer be pre-scheduled each week, rather we will move to a more voluntary and organic method of serving communion.  Beginning Sunday, November 6th, six lanyards will hang on the wall across from the elevator doors in the narthex.  We invite anyone who is wanting to take part in the worship service by serving communion – either by holding the chalice of wine, the tray of wine & grape juice, or holding the basket to collect used cups – to take a lanyard.  When the lanyards are all taken, then we know we have enough communion servers for that service.

A few notes:
  • 6 lanyards will be available for each service – 2 trays of wine/grape juice, 2 common cups of wine, 2 baskets for discarded communion cups. After worship, don’t forget to return the lanyard to the wall for the next service!
  • Pastor Lou & the worship leader will continue to serve the bread
  • The back of the lanyard will include instructions on what to say and do as a communion server
  • We welcome children to serve by holding the baskets. As there is one basket for each side, we ask that there are no more than 2 children per service (once students are confirmed, they are welcome to serve the tray or common cup)
  • We will return to two full teams of communion servers for both services. For the past year, we have experimented with one team of servers at the 9AM service, but for ease and consistency we will return to two teams at each service beginning Nov 6th
  • We understand that there will be people who will welcome this opportunity, but others may not be comfortable performing this role. That’s ok!  We don’t want anyone to feel pressured into serving in a capacity in which they’re uncomfortable – there are many different ways to be involved at Rejoice!

Pastor Lou and I are excited about these upcoming changes, and we believe it is a wonderful opportunity to involve more people in, and bring new energy to, our worship services at Rejoice!  Click here if you want to learn more about being a communion server.  If you have any questions or comments, please click here to contact me.

Renewal – Fall 2016

Renewal, New Life, Born Anew/Born from Above, New Covenant, A New Commandment… these are all characteristics of the energy and vibe of Christian faith.  The ideas of renewal, reawakening, re-commitment are all dynamics of a vibrant and evolving faith in Christ!

With topics such as renewing our imaginations, our energy in marriage and family, and our investment in the Kingdom as well as our own community, this fall we will explore the graces, the gifts, and the tasks that are at work in the blessing of renewal.  I hope you will join me on this journey of renewal that will take us to Advent!

Turbo Group Leadership Training

Are you interested in growing your skills as a leader?
Would you like to learn from our youth minister Mike Willis and Pastor Lou how to lead a small group bible study?

If you are interested in taking your involvement in spiritual growth to the next level and want to help others do the same… this TURBO GROUP IS FOR YOU!  Youth minister Mike Willis and I invite you to join them for a 5-week training experience where we will talk about spiritual leadership and the practical aspects of leading discussions and choosing great resources.  Our meeting dates will be Sept 20, Oct 4, Oct 18, Nov 1 & Nov 15 – we’ll meet from 7-8:30pm at Rejoice.

The expectation is simple: graduates of this class will commit to leading a group, with our support.  Mike and I are here to help you, so let’s do this!!  Sign up below by Sept 18th.

Yes, I'm interested in Turbo Group Leadership Training with Pastor Lou and Mike Willis

 

Verification

 

Where We are Going in June

A Biblical Look into Life’s 4 Key Questions

This June I’ll be preaching a 4 part series called: A Biblical Look into Life’s 4 Key Questions. The inspiration for these messages have come from discussions I have had with many of you about these very issues, and our congregation’s desire for more spiritual growth opportunities.

Here are the questions we will grapple with:

  • What can we know about God?
  • Why is there such suffering in the world and what does this say about the “human condition”?
  • Where do we look for security and happiness?
  • What hope is there after our lives end?

All religions attempt to deal with these questions and our faith meets them head on.  What does Christianity really say about these matters?

I imagine we all ponder these mysteries from time to time.  Do you have friends right now who need to hear these messages?

If so – invite and bring them!

If we pray, come prepared and engage I believe this series can be a blessing in our spiritual formation and growth!

What is to give light must endure burning – Lent at Rejoice

Lent is coming… and fast!

Lent is the time for the church to “amp up” its reflective nature.  It’s a time to take our faith to the next level.  This is often done by intentional serving in specific ways. Additionally, we take time for silence and devotions, fasting and prayer.  Ultimately the church wants to engage with Jesus on a deeper level.  Is it possible for us to do this?  Are we really interested in taking this journey??

If we give attention to spiritual disciplines, good things tend to happen!

The in the Old Testament we often hear God say through the prophets: “Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.”  Lent affords us the opportunity to “draw near!”

This year we will follow closely the life, message and teaching of Jesus from the gospel of Luke.  Our overall theme comes from one of my favorite writers, Viktor Frankl: “What gives light must endure burning.”  His words give us a profound image to ponder.  Jesus the light of the world flames out on the cross, but in that mysterious and grim tableaux of crucifixion God removes the sin of the world.  Thanks be to God this is not the end… for after Good Friday there is Easte

How might we make the most of Lent this year?

My invitation to you is to take the journey with us and attend every service throughout Lent, as our messages will have a deep and meaningful theme that will span the arc of Lent and take you from the significance of the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday all the way through the resurrection on Easter Sunday.  Come to each service but before you do pray for yourself, the service, the ensemble, our children’s ministry with Janeen and Jessica, me (!!!), and ask God to open your heart to new dimensions of grace.  Make a real spiritual investment in our community.

We want to grow spiritually, we want to grow in our relationships, we want to grow in our stewardship… and here is one way to honor these worthy ambitions.

Let me state it again: make the effort to be here at worship consistently, prayerfully, and expectantly each and every service in Lent.  I believe you, your family and our church will be blessed by this ambition!  Lent is a great opportunity… let’s make the most of it!

God bless you as we journey on the path of faith together!

Pastor Lou

The Light we need NOW

Advent is over, Christmas is celebrated… what’s next?  Where are we going as we journey towards Easter??  Our theme for the next few months will be: The Light we need NOW!

Jesus whole ministry is about illumination!  He shows us who God is and what he is like.  He illuminates for us how to live by faith, what reconciliation looks like, and he opens our imaginations to the promise of eternal life.  Can we seek that light now?  Yes we can and we will!

In these weeks, we will seek God’s light to shine fully on us and give us the clarity we need in the confusion and darkness of this time.  In the beautiful words of John: “The True light which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world…”

Light is a great image of our faith!  Jesus is:

  • the light that shines in the darkness
  • the light of the world
  • the light which lights our path
  • the light so powerful that all the darkness of the world cannot overpower it
  • the light that illumines God and ourselves

In the Sunday readings between now and Easter we will ponder how God’s light can give us the clarity we need to live boldly and at peace in this historical moment.  Make the effort to seek this light in the community at worship in the New Year!

~With much love, Pastor Lou

The Gift and Task of Advent

Advent – the four weeks before Christmas – cuts across the grain of culture.  Advent is an irony and a paradox!

Instead of getting ready for the birth of Jesus, Advent (in the history of the Church) has been a time to get ready for the return of Jesus, the end of the world, and the coming of God’s Kingdom in its absolute fullness!

It actually has something of that Lent vibe of reflection, rededication, and redirection.  It is also an invitation to serve.  Rejoice has looked at Advent as a time to journey out in service as well as a time to reflect.  With Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree, and Feed my Starving Children, we as a church step up to serve.

However we do want to give Advent some real opportunity to pause, give thanks, and reflect. This can be a great gift to all of us as the pace intensifies towards Christmas.

So… let Advent be a countercultural intrusion into our schedules! Together for the next 4 weeks let’s engage some measure of spiritual discipline.  Here are 3 things to consider:

  1. Take a few minutes every day for silence and creating a space for you to be present to God.
  2. Take a moment to pray a prayer of thanksgiving for people who have blessed your life.  Perhaps you can include a word about this in your Christmas card to them!
  3. Take the initiative to show up with love in a different way at least once in the next four weeks!

Finally pray for our community here at Rejoice. Pray of our Relationships, our Spiritual Growth, our Stewardship and our Community Impact!  Let Advent be a time of intentional prayer!

Here is where we are going… each Sunday in Advent we will focus on the following:

Advent calls us to be:

Fully Alive

     Fully Awake

         Fully Aware, 

and Fully Ready to share in God’s Kingdom!!

From all of us on staff – we wish you a beautiful Advent!  Let’s make the most of it!!

With much love,

Pastor Lou

Thoughts on Spiritual Growth

I wanted to share with you a few of my thoughts on Spiritual Growth.  During last Sunday’s message, we broke up into little groups to define spiritual growth and there were as many answers as people!  And that is exactly how it should be.   We have different gifts, we have unique personalities and we are all on different points on the spiral helix of our faith journey!

As we embrace this topic consider this decidedly Trinitarian way to imagine Spiritual growth:

  • Spiritual Growth is a deepening awareness of God’s indwelling presence.
  • Spiritual Growth is about the longing to understand in ever deepening ways the mystery of Christ’s life, death and    resurrection and what it means for us to act purposefully as his disciples.
  • Spiritual Growth is an evolving communal experience of Grace, power and wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Our congregation has made it clear that spiritual growth is something we want to reach for boldly in this year.  And because of this, it will mean making choices and decisions to show up to ministry events such as the Concert of Prayer, the women’s retreat, Beer and Bible Study, my Luther class and Sunday Worship as examples!  If we are serious about spiritual growth we have to ratchet up our investment in what we put into it!  We need to ask ourselves: if we want to grow what needs to change for us now?

Here is an exercise to start us off:

For the next 7 days, begin or end each day with making the sign of the cross on your forehead and heart (this is to remind us that in our Baptism we have been claimed by God as his own).  Recite slowly the Apostles Creed, and then pray the Lord’s Prayer… but really concentrate on what you are praying.  Don’t rush through it.  If you do, start over and make it count.  Then take 5 minutes to be silent. Just make yourself available to be in God’s presence.  No phones, computer, or distractions.  5 minutes.  Try it for 7 days and see what happens.

May this week and this year bring us the growth we are seeking.

With much love,

Pastor Lou