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Wednesday, October 25

Archive for the Announcement Category


Oct 3

Interview with Scott Meinema, Part 2

2016 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Announcement

This is the second in a  two-part interview with Scott Meinema, DSC’s new Minister over the areas of Biblical Counseling and Community Groups. In Part 1 we learned a bit about Scott’s background, how he met Janelle. Here in Part 2 we’ll learn a bit about the larger influences on Scott’s life.

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In this second part to your blog interview, let’s start with a question at the heart of what you’re coming here to do: what is your view of how discipleship takes place in a church?

Great question. By discipleship I assume you have in mind the activity of introducing others to Jesus and /or helping them grow to become more faithful and mature followers of Christ. Discipleship takes place many different ways in the midst of life on life relationships. In other words, parents modeling Christ and teaching their children is discipleship. Husbands dying to self and sacrificially serving their wife is discipleship. Older men and women modeling Christ and teaching younger men and women is discipleship. Christ followers exhorting, encouraging, and serving one another is discipleship. Confession of sin to one another is discipleship. A Pastor’s teaching and preaching is discipleship. Discipleship takes place in Community Groups. What takes place in the counseling room is discipleship. Discipleship takes place whenever we are living in a way that demonstrates Christ to one another.

Now, a few questions about influences on your life. What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?

Genesis, because it gives us so much insight into the glory of God, his character, and his attributes. I love Genesis because we see God’s kingship of grace, mercy, sovereignty, holiness, and creative omnipotence. In Genesis we catch a glimpse of Christ and the gospel in various places and we learn our condition and need for a Savior. There are so many things that can be learned about relationships in Genesis. But I also like John’s gospel because he takes us back to Genesis and gives us the rest of the story. John unveils the very Word who became flesh and tabernacled among his people. John helps us to see Jesus, the true glory of God, in a way that is purposely veiled in Genesis.

What book has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?

That is a toss-up so I’m going with Desiring God by John Piper. I was surprised to learn that my pursuit for joy was actually good. The problem was that I was looking for joy in all the wrong places. The idea that real joy comes from our enjoyment of God was something foreign to me. Up till then, I saw religion more as duty but not in a relationship to delight in. I saw God’s commands as counter-joy not as something to run to because they offer blessings, protection, and joy from a Father who loves us and wants his best for us. That book helped recalibrate my thinking to see that all of life should be about glorifying God by enjoying him. I like what Piper says: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him”.

Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard.

Well, I never heard it spoke but the most influential sermon I’ve read is John Owen’s “The Duty of a Pastor.” It is true North for anyone who ministers God’s word, particularly the pastor. Owen provides a rich buffet of truths but none more helpful for me then the point that the preacher (or counselor) must first and foremost preach to himself. In other words, it is difficult to lead others to a place you have never been to. The pastor must take in and apply the message to his own life first. He must not just think about it but feel it and act on it. He must experience the truth he is going to preach because that experience transforms and helps bring conviction to the delivery of the word.

Tell us a bit about one of two important mentors in your life.

One was a friend from when we lived in Chicago. God used Mark in my life to challenge my own knowledge of the Scriptures and of the God of the Scriptures. I recall one occasion when discussing a particular doctrinal issue, he asked if I had ever read the Bible with that one doctrine in mind? Of course I hadn’t and he proclaimed that I didn’t have a right to an opinion on that issue until having read to see all that God had said about it! Needless to say, I was not happy but went away and read with the goal of seeing what God said about the particular issue. To my surprise my previous opinion was way wrong. Mark helped me to think critically about the Scriptures, memorize the Scriptures and was the one who introduced me to John Owen for which I am grateful.

Another mentor would be our counseling supervisor, Dr. Bob Smith. I was privileged to spend over 100 hours in the counseling room with one of the early pioneers of the Biblical Counseling movement. Besides having a terrific command of the Scriptures, Dr. Smith is a faithful practitioner of the Scriptures. Week in and week out he faithfully applied the Scriptures to his own life and helped others do the same. He was transparent with his own fight of faith which made it easier for his counselees and trainees to be transparent and share their struggles. My favorite comment from Dr. Smith is when he would say, “my ears need to hear what my mouth just said.”
What was the most difficult time in your life as a Christian, and how do you believe this has this helped prepare you for the work the Lord has for you here?

We have had a number of difficulties throughout our marriage. I think it was John Piper who said that marriage is the most difficult relationship on the face of the planet. Marriage is one of God’s main sanctification tools. There is nothing like the marriage relationship to help us see our own selfishness. There is nothing like marriage that brings out my sinful and self-centered heart and need for change. There is nothing like the marriage relationship that provides me with opportunity to die to self and that can be difficult.

On the other hand, marriage can be joyful, wonderful and redemptive when marriage functions in the way our King intended. Seeing God’s goodness and sovereignty especially in the midst of our difficult circumstances and relationships is an important first step in ministering to others.

Okay, now a few left fielders we always ask our new ministers. What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?

During the holidays my mom would make cookies, pecan cups and other deserts for the neighbors, friends and family. She would lock them in a freezer in a locked storage room so we would not eat them before they were handed out. She spent days baking dozens and dozens of these treats.

One year, I removed the hinges to both the storage room and freezer in hope of sampling a few of my favorite cookies and pecan cups. They were so delicious. The problem was that I couldn’t stop with one and this activity became a daily obsession over the next few weeks. Needless to say, there was very little left in the freezer when she went out there a few weeks later. We laugh about it now but my mom is in her 80’s and still recalls it with great clarity . . . and emotion.

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

Not really but I can make the sound of dripping faucet.

That’s excellent and we need to hear it. What’s your favorite animal, and why?

Our dog, Addie. Addie is a Pointer / Brittany mix. She loves to run when she is outside and loves attention when she is inside. She is always happy and especially excited to to see me when returning from being away and she gets along well with our cat, Cassie.

Without going to the internet, do you know what a Lobo is? An Isotope? Carne Adovada?

I believe a Lobo is a dog of some sort. I remember UTEP playing New Mexico and the mascot was a Lobo. I am lost on the Isotope but I think it has something to do w/chemistry. Carne Adovada is Mexican dish of some kind.

And, for one last question, red or green? Green – can’t wait to roast our own!

Sep 26

Interview with Scott Meinema, Part 1

2016 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Announcement

Just a little over one month ago now, we introduced you to Scott Meinema on a Sunday morning. Scott was in town with his wife, Janelle, as Scott was interviewing for a role at DSC over Biblical Counseling and Community Groups. We were pleased, shortly after, to announce that we offered the role to Scott and he accepted. He and Janelle are making arrangements to move to Albuquerque before the year is out, and we’re thrilled.

Scott is quite busy with transition details, but he was kind to take some time out to answer a few questions for us. Here’s Part 1 of a two part interview. In Part 1 we’ll learn a bit about Scott’s background and family. In Part 2 we’ll learn about some of the more profound influences in Scott’s life.

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Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Scott. How are you and Janelle doing?

We’re doing well. Our home is on the market and we are praying that is sells quickly. As you can imagine, there are a lot of things to do and areas that we are working to transition to others. We both wish this would all move along quicker but recognize God’s good timing in all of it. We are also trying to spend as much time with our children as we can before moving. That is probably the most difficult piece of the transition.

You’re not from Albuquerque, but you do have some roots in the Southwest. Tell us about those.

Janelle grew up in Bolder, CO and I in Tucson, AZ—which is also where we met and married. After six years we moved to EL Paso, TX, and lived there for five years before moving to the Midwest. Janelle’s parents still live in Tucson so were thankful that we will be closer to them once we move. We think of Albuquerque as a combination of Bolder, Tucson, and El Paso, as parts of it remind us of all three.

How did you first find out about DSC and what were your initial thoughts about the ministry job we posted?

We heard about the opportunity through the Ministry Connections portal at Southern Seminary. As you know, there are a lot of positions posted there and we scan it from time to time to keep current. I was drawn to the posting for a number of reasons. First, because DSC was looking for a Counseling and Community Group Pastor—these intuitively seemed to go together. Second because it appeared that DSC had thought through the type of person they wanted and what was of primary importance to them. Once I began to dig deeper by looking at the website, reading the statement of faith, and listening to sermons, I was drawn to the common ground and like-mindedness we appeared to share.

Now for a bit about your background. Much of your life has been spent vocationally as a leader in the business world. What are some lessons that have carry-over into ministry?

There are many lessons. One lesson at the top of the list would be that relationships are key to success in both. We were created for relationships—vertically and horizontally. Where we are in our vertical relationship with our Creator will have a direct and certain impact on our horizontal relationships.

In business, those organizations that are intentional and purposeful about serving and caring for the needs of their associates, customers, and shareholders are, not surprisingly, many of the same companies that are growing, have long term financial stability and where most individuals want to work. At the individual level, individuals who think and act in the best interest of their respective organization will often have a greater over-all impact and be of more value than someone who is mostly living for their own glory and praise.

In ministry, relationships are a primary tool for our sanctification and joy – I would suggest that these are directly tied to success in the Christian life. In other words, we cannot become like Christ outside the context of relationships. When people live for their own self-love, glory and praise in a family, community or church, conflict arises and things tend to break down and not go so well.

On the other hand, when we live for the glory and praise of our Creator things tend to go better and we experience more of the joy we were created to enjoy. In other words, as we find satisfaction in our relationship with Christ, it brings lasting joy and frees us from the enslavement of self-love and liberates us to love and serve others.

Another example would be the importance of strategic planning. In business, we develop strategies, road maps, SWOT analysis, and action plans that will help us accomplish our particular mission and provide particular value to our particular stakeholders (customer, associates, and shareholders).

It is similar in ministry and the building of the kingdom. We have the mission given to us by our King. We are entrusted with great resources and have the opportunity to accomplish the mission through particular strategies, tactics, and processes to provide eternal value to those we minister to. We prayerfully consider what our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are in accomplishing the mission. We consider various initiatives to help us to grow and change and move the gospel ball forward and have action plans to help us and hold ourselves accountable.

Aside from having a certification in counseling, you’re in the middle of an M.A. in biblical counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. What class have you enjoyed most, and why?

Probably our class on Marriage & Family, for a number of reasons. We enjoyed getting to know Dr. Jeremy Pierre, our professor. The class forced us to think through and articulate our position on divorce and gender which was helpful and timely.

You’ve been a counselor at a nationally-known counseling center at Faith Church in Lafayette, Indiana, for several years. What are some of the most important things you want to teach community group leaders here at DSC, in terms of counseling?

A few things come to mind. First, we are all counselors because counseling takes place in conversations when one person with problems, questions, or issues seeks help from someone they believe has answers that can help them. Sometimes that is in a formal setting, like the counseling room, but mostly that takes place informally on the phone, in the kitchen, during the drive to school, over a cup of coffee, in an email, and over time. We are either good counselors or not-so-good counselors – but were all counselors.

Second, we are all counselees because we are constantly talking to ourselves as we experience the circumstances and relationships of life. We are all counselees because we live in conflict. Our relationships are often marked by conflict because we are marked by sin. We are counselees because we are constantly fighting to trust God in our particular relationships or circumstances. We are counselees because we experience suffering. We are all counselees because we need Jesus just like those we serve.

Third, we have access to the answers. God’s Word is our authority. It is our authority for truth—truth for how we should think, feel, and act in regards to the relationships and circumstances of life. Additionally, it is sufficient. It is sufficient in helping us understand the problems, difficulty, and suffering of others and it is sufficient to help us in assisting them to move towards change and growth.

Now, let’s learn about Janelle. We had a chance to meet Janelle during your visit with us in August. Tell us a funny story from the early stages of your relationship.

When we were dating she had this cat named “Puddins” that would randomly jump up on her outside screen door. One night we were sitting in the living room watching TV and Puddins attacked the screen door in a way that sounded like someone was trying to break in. Instead of demonstrating to her my courage and fearlessness, I yelled like a girl and provided Janelle with some doubt as to my ability to protect her and defend her from imminent threats.

How does she complement and strengthen you as a husband?

In many ways, but I’ll mention two. She loves and knows the Scriptures, is a great sounding board for what I am thinking, and is often helpful in details that I miss. In other words, she has an eye for details that I don’t have. Those details could relate to finances, relationships, or studying for an exam. Additionally, she is a great support. She looks for creative ways to help me be more productive, fruitful, and effective.

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?

We enjoy traveling together both with and without our children. We like riding our motorcycle and seeing new places together. The view from a bike is arguably better than the view from inside the car – in other words, the journey is as good, if not better than the destination. I also like to BBQ and smoke meat.

Finally, what do you look forward to the most as you look ahead to ministry at DSC?

Another tough question but I suppose the answer is best summed up in the word “relationships.” I am looking forward to meeting everyone, developing relationships, and serving the relationships that God brings our direction.

Jul 25

Interview with Tom Adams, Part 2

2016 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Announcement

This is the second in a  two-part interview with Tom Adams, DSC’s new Minister to Youth and Families. In Part 1 we learned a bit about Tom’s background, how he met Gina, and his love for students. Here in Part 2 we’ll learn a bit about the larger influences on Tom’s life, and some other random things as well.

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You recently completed a Master’s of Divinity at Trinity Evangelical Divinity Seminary. What role did seminary play in your preparation for your new role at DSC?

Seminary played a vital role as it gave me the tools to do deeper Bible study and helped me to learn to be more gracious when I disagree with someone’s theological viewpoint. I thus strive to present the opposing view in its strongest form before I state the biblical reasons I do not hold to it myself.

What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?

I don’t have a favorite book, though I come back again and again to Genesis and Revelation, as they are the book-ends of redemptive history, and I find OT and NT narrative to be greatly moving and edifying.

What book has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?

The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul. It gave me an abiding joy and reverent fear for God’s Holiness. Furthermore, I praise God that He is the perfect, just judge and look forward to when He will fully, rightly judge all evil, wickedness and injustice, until death itself is destroyed and sin is no more for all those in Christ.

Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard?

The most influential sermon I have heard was from R.C. Sproul when Gina and I visited the church where he serves in Florida on our honeymoon. He was preaching on the birth of John the Baptist and the evening prior his daughter-in-law had gone to be with the Lord after battling cancer. It was both moving, and honest, yet he preached the word faithfully and with a Joy and peace that only comes from God. The Lord was magnified and praised in the midst of the family’s grief and I saw how even then his commitment to expository preaching stood firm, yet the situation was not ignored but God was honoured through it.

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?

I greatly enjoy watching/playing football (England and Aston Villa in particular) as well as Cricket. I also like very much to watch classic 80’s movies from our youth with Gina. I love listening to and playing music, including alternative rock amongst other genres. I play rhythm electric guitar left-handed and enjoy learning music and singing/listening to great hymns as well as modern theologically correct and rich sung worship (such as Dustin Kensrue’s wonderful record ‘The Water & the Blood’).

Okay, now a few left fielders. What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?

As a 14 year old on a Christian missionary camp in England I tried to retrieve the hat of a girl off another young man (who had playfully stole it from her) and so sprinted after him. Unfortunately, the entire camp (100+ youth) was walking down to the beach this particular evening and the dew had settled on the grass beside the country road we were walking down. Beside the road the grass went down a steep hillside for about 50 feet, so at full sprint I run around a group of girls who wouldn’t move out of the way though I called them to. As I did so my feet went onto the grass and suddenly I saw both my feet up in the air to my left and I proceeded to fall/roll down the steep hill gathering speed as I went until I arrived disheveled at the base covered in grass and dirt. At which point I looked up and the whole camp had stopped to enjoy a laugh at my expense. So yeah that was pretty dumb.

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

I have a degree of hyper flexibility in my joints and hyper elasticity in my skin – don’t think that is a talent as such (other than at a freak-show I suppose), but there it is.

What’s your favorite animal, and why?

British Stag Beetle, because since a child I have been fascinated by insects and how God has made them to do such specific jobs in nature. This one is very rare (only lives as an adult in late summer), is endangered and I’ve never actually seen one in person.

Without going to the internet, do you know what a Lobo is? An Isotope? Carne Adovada?

Lobo – no idea.

Isotope – Whilst I am not a Chemist I think it is a different type of a Chemical element. Yet also here it is the name of your AAA Baseball team who are so named because of a Simpson’s episode, I believe.

Carne Adovada – I think this is a type of spicy (peppers?/Chilli?) beef.

And, for one last question, red or green?

Green

Jul 24

Winding Down Equip

2016 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Announcement

The church is created and sustained by the Word of God.

There are a variety of ways in which we seek to grow in the Word together as a church. Sunday’s sermon is one way, and Community Groups are another. For the last few years, we’ve also offered a class on Sundays called, Equip. Beginning (or ending!) in August, this class will no longer be offered.

Equip, if you’re newer to the church, is a class we have offered on Sundays during the second service that met each week and rotated through books of the Bible and topics. There’s been some really great fruit from these classes, thanks to hard working and capable teachers. We’ve studied Joshua, Spiritual Disciplines, The Sermon on the Mount, Decision Making and God’s Will, and a variety of other subjects and Bible books. Click here to review notes from previous classes. Right now we’re working through 1 Timothy which concludes at the end of this month and will be our last class.

Equip has been good for our church, but for a variety of reasons we believe now is a good time to discontinue this ministry with plans to try something else later. This fall, we’re going to continue our other normally offered classes: the Parenting class and Baptism class, for example. Then, in the fall of 2017 we’ll try a different way of structuring both class and seminar learning, both on Sundays and outside of Sundays. Over the next year we’ll be preparing for that, so listen out for more specifics in the coming months.

In case this isn’t so obvious, it’s a healthy thing to discontinue a program. We are not wed to our methods. We’re wed to our Lord and to his Word. These are sacred. Our plans are not. Many thanks to all those who helped shepherd this ministry as it started and over the last few years.

Jul 18

Interview with Tom Adams, Part 1

2016 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Announcement

Earlier this month, we were pleased to announce that Tom Adams accepted our offer to serve as DSC’s new Minister to Youth and Families.

Tom and Gina were able to move here with time to join Nathan with the students at camp this week. We’re so grateful for the Lord’s answer to our prayers for this kind of timing. Nathan and the rest of those planting Christ Church begin meeting in their core team phase in August.

In the midst of a very busy week in transition from Chicago to Albuquerque, Tom was kind to answer a number of questions for what will be a two-part blog interview.

Part 1, below, explores Tom’s family, marriage to Gina, ministry background, and hopes for his time at DSC. Part 2 will explore some of the influences that have shaped his life. Part 2 will also reveal whether Tom knows what a Lobo is or not.

Before the interview, though, here’s a shot of Tom and Gina they took on the plane as they headed our way only last week.

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You’re not from Albuquerque, or even originally from the United States. Where are you from and why did you come to the states?

I come from near Birmingham city in England and I came to the US to attend seminary and learn the biblical languages so I could more faithfully preach God’s word.

Your father and brother are still in England. How are they doing? 

My family are doing fine, thanks. My Dad and identical twin brother (whose name is Tim) are back at home in England and though my dad has some health problems and may need a heart operation in the near future, he is still sharing the gospel and ministering the word to many, many people and teaches English to immigrants two days a week. Tim is working for Youth For Christ and is a journalist/writer.

You met your wife, Gina, on a boat. Why were you two on a boat?

We both served as missionaries on the gospel ship called “Logos Hope” with 400 other crew from 50 different nationalities. The ship went round the world, stopping in ports (roughly every 2 weeks we’d move on) and doing gospel ministry with local churches. Gina served as one of the cooks onboard before then becoming a trainer who equipped us crew to share our salvation testimony, do gospel-centered children’s programs, etc. Whereas I joined the ship as a teacher of the four teenage missionary kids onboard, I taught them Science, English, History, Physical Ed, Design and Tech.

We had a chance to meet Gina during your visit with us in May. She’s a marvelous lady. Tell us a funny story from the early stages of your relationship.

When Gina and I were allowed (on the ship one had to wait for 12 months before getting to know someone of the opposite gender better and to be able to spend time talking about marriage) we would sometimes watch a movie/tv show on a portable DVD player in my classroom on the top deck. After a few months of getting to know one another, in the middle of watching a film, with her eyes fixed on the screen, she wiped her mouth and then wiped her hand on my arm. I could scarcely believe this had just happened, and when I said, “What was that?” and explained what she’d just done, she had no recollection of it and proceeded to laugh hysterically for about 20 minutes.

How does she complement and strengthen you as a husband?

Gina complements me well by the fact that she helps me to be less blunt, and be more gracious as I interact with people. She helps me by being a fantastic organizer who finds joy in organizing. She also encourages me to be creative and play music, and to rest when I need to but don’t want to. Added to all this she encourages me to trust the Lord and not fret, she affirms my gifts and encourages me to use them whilst giving me the constructive criticism that I need. Most importantly she strengthens me by her faith in the Lord and how she willingly sits under my teaching in our family and submits to my leading of us, even as we walk together through the issues of life. She is simply a joyful person, who is this way because of what Jesus has done and thus is a joy to be married to.

You’ve worked with students in a variety of contexts over the years. Tell us about about how.

I have worked for a number of years with young people as a leader on a missionary camp in the UK and have at the same time always been involved as a lay leader in youth groups in various congregations where I led bible study, street evangelism and even once led sung worship with a band made up entirely of young people from our youth group. Professionally, I then became a high school Science teacher in the public school system in the UK where I taught young people aged from 11-18 years old. I am a biologist (my degree is in designing materials to be used in implants like hip replacements so the implant would be accepted by the human body) but I also taught Chemistry and Physics. I have taught young people the bible, led evangelism seminars, and with Gina led a talk on biblical marriage in different churches whilst at seminary. Lastly, I once taught for a weekend at a youth conference for a number of Chinese Churches on the Wrath of God.

How did you first find out about DSC?

Whilst we were seeking God’s will for a job since graduating, Gina kept a spreadsheet and searched The Gospel Coalition job list and came across DSC. After reading the job description and looking at the church’s website she was so excited she phoned me straight away from her work, and told me I should apply immediately. So I did just that.

You are coming to DSC as a Minister to Youth and Families. During your interview weekend, there was a real sense of unity among the elders and you on the importance of the church’s ministry to youth and to families. How did you arrive at this approach to youth ministry?

I came to this approach due to my understanding that scripture teaches that leaders in the church are to equip the saints for gospel ministry (Ephesians 4), and also specifically due to the influence and example of my parents who led a youth group at our church, did many VBS weeks (we call them “holiday clubs”) and both worked with young people from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds in many different contexts. They loved them, saw them as young people in need of a Saviour and cared for them as they shared the gospel and also then equipped them to minister to others once they had been born-again. My mom (who went to be with the Lord January this year) and dad saw God use their gospel witness to bring parents of our schoolmates to repentance and faith in Jesus, as well as many young people who came to faith in Christ. Indeed these people are still walking closely with the Lord today. They both saw their youth work as reaching young people with the gospel as well as their parents, and spent their spare time equipping and encouraging young people and their parents to be in God’s word continually and to live for God’s glory due to God’s overwhelming Grace to us in Christ Jesus.

What are you most looking forward to about serving DSC’s youth?

I am most looking forward to looking at and going through books of the Bible verse by verse together and thus delighting in the whole counsel of God.

Check back later for Part 2 of our interview with Tom.

Mar 22

Easter Weekend and a Special Request

2016 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Announcement

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
– 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

This is going to be a full week. That is, a week full of Christ and his people. In addition to Wednesday’s Lord’s Supper service, here’s what we have in store:

  • Friday, March 25: Good Friday service at 6:30 PM with childcare for children four years old and under
  • Sunday, March 27: Easter services at 7:30, 9:00, and 10:45 AM, with childcare for all children during the later two services.

Of course, don’t forget to invite someone to our weekend services. Here’s a digital invitation to make that easy.

A Special Request for Easter Morning

If possible, on Sunday morning, please attend the 7:30 AM service. Imagine that you come to church once a year and this year a friend from DSC invited you to church. You plan to arrive when service starts. You show up maybe even five minutes early, but you are directed to an overflow room to watch the service on a TV. This is too-bad at a number of levels. But it is preventable if several hundred of our normal attenders attend the 7:30 AM service instead of their regular service.

If you have young children, this may not work, as we don’t provide childcare for this service. Or if you are inviting a friend or family member to join, 7:30 AM may not be the better time. But if it’s a matter of convenience we would ask that you do come early to ensure a seat for our many guests who will attend the later services. Thanks for helping us be hospitable.

Aug 28

Three Growth Points for a Growing Church

2015 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Announcement

In the context of any home there’s a need for redirection from time to time. If a couple needs to get more sleep, they might discuss needing more sleep and then start to go to bed earlier. With a church of 600-700 adults in and out of the building on a Sunday for planned worship services, redirection is not so easy, but it is needed for this family just the same.

So, at the start of our Lord’s Supper service on Wednesday night we shared an announcement, a clarification, and an exhortation related to our Sunday corporate gatherings.

An announcement regarding seating on Sundays

We’ve got a really good problem: DSC is growing.

Our membership classes have been larger by a third for over a year and both services are quite full on Sunday morning. You may have noticed that increasingly we have less seats available on Sunday morning once we’re 10-15 minutes into the service.

This kind of growth in numbers requires a corresponding growth in hospitality.

Given how the room is designed it’s hard to see and sometimes navigate to the seats that are open. In our space, the room can look jammed full even with 250 seats available. This means it’s increasingly difficult for some to find their way to a seat.

In the smaller setting of our home, any of us would naturally get up to make room if someone came in and needed a seat. But with a gathering our size this doesn’t come so naturally. We need to organize for our hospitality a bit.

So, starting in October you’ll begin to see what we’re calling Section Hosts around the room; six of them. These people will be wearing a badge, coming early to mingle and make connections, and helping those looking for a seat to find a seat.

Your Section Host will need your help. You can help this need by doing two things: First, sit in harder to get to seats: the middle of a row instead of the edge, for example. Or sit down in the floor section. Those are the least visible and accessible seats once the service starts. By sitting down there you are freeing up a seat for someone who would come after you. Second, come early or on time to the service. More on that in a moment.

A clarification regarding children on Sundays

You’ll remember that about a year ago we encouraged the participation of children in the worship service.

If children can understand what’s going on in the Sunday worship service they should probably be in here with us. Of course, it’s for you to figure out how to do that, to train your children, and help them. But we wanted to set this as a new and good ideal for most families. And we gave some tips for how to ease your little ones into being with us. Click here for a follow-up blog post, “Families Together with the Family of God on Sunday” and here for Ryan’s sermon “God’s People in God’s Presence.”  Also, since that time we’ve made available in print form John Piper’s article, “The Family: Together in God’s Presence.” It’s the little orange pamphlet available around the building. Including children in the worship service is not easy, but it’s important. We all need to be patient with young families.

Our church has grown in this area and we’re thrilled.

By way of clarification, we want to address the question of small babies. There are few things more beautiful to God than parents and their babies. So, we offer this clarification with full admiration for the vocation of motherhood, fatherhood, and recognition of the difficulty of those youngest years with a child. This church family loves babies and esteems parents.

Here’s the clarification: As we’ve said, if a child can understand what is going on in the service they should probably join us in here. But if a child is at an age where they cry when he or she is hungry, they probably can’t understand what’s going on and they should probably be in the nursery or cry room or foyer.

Now, if you and your baby can pull it off, and you are going to attempt to sit in the service (this is not illegal at DSC!), we would still ask that parents with infants aim for a seat near a door so they can exit briskly if the child does activate their noise box.

The reasons for this are simple and they have to do with hearing God’s Word:

  • The baby can’t understand God’s Word
  • The baby can, however, make it hard for others to hear God’s Word (including you)
  • The baby can even make it hard for the service leaders to hear themselves think as they lead us God’s worship through his Word

Here’s the gist: If you think there’s a good chance your baby will cry, we would ask that you consider putting them in the nursery or using the cry room. If they do start crying, even if you think they might stop, head for an exit and take care of that lovely child.

An exhortation to seek God early 

There’s a really easy way for us to have happier marriages on Sunday, a better witness, better hospitality, more and better conversations with our brothers and sisters, a better spiritual example for our kids and Sunday memories during their childhood, how we can cheer our Lord’s heart, and how we can honor everyone in the room better when we’re together. Who could resist all of this?

Here’s the exhortation: be on time.

How easy is that?

Not so easy, if we know ourselves and especially our church. We have done quite well at including our little ones in the service, better than we expected in some ways. We addressed the issue of lateness in 2011 but we have not, in the long term, improved as a congregation at being on time. We seem particularly and historically bad at this actually. Ouch! We all know we need to improve here, so hopefully this exhortation actually feels like something of a relief.

If you aren’t aware of how bad the problem is, it might be because you are entering the worship center 5-20 minutes late on a regular basis. There are Sundays in which at the start of either service there are only 50 people in a room that on many Sundays will fill to 300 by the time the sermon starts. Some Sundays are better than others, but this pattern is not owing to many legitimate reasons for being late, but a culture of lateness rooted in a basic lack of preparedness for what we do together each Lord’s Day.

There are some things in life we are regularly on time or early to and there are other things we are regularly late for. It usually had to do with incentives. What we get for being on time or what it cost us for being late.

So, since we are people with motivations, let us offer some compelling incentives to be on time:

  • Unity. This is one way to pursue unity in our church. It says, “we want to be together.” It also helps mitigate against unity-harming pride in our body. For those that are on time it can be tempting to condescend toward the body for this cultural problem.
  • Witness. It commends the gospel and the God we sing and hear about in our services since it says we really do want to be here, and we really do want to sing and hear these things. We can imagine that there are family members and friends that haven’t been invited to church because of the embarrassment it would bring to have to explain why the room was so empty when the service began.
  • Honor. It honors our service leaders who prepare for and lead these services.
  • Word. Movement in the room can distract others from what we’re singing, praying, and hearing together.
  • Joy. Some are late and it’s no hit to their happiness that morning. For others it’s a point of constant tension or guilt.
  • Modeling. The kids in our congregation will remember the empty room. Your kids will remember coming late. Expect they’ll do the same.
  • Worship. You are not connecting with God during the first song if you aren’t there for it. The services are designed with a certain logic, including invocation and a call to worship, and alter the confession of sin in song, Scripture, or prayer. We’ll fight not to miss the beginning of a movie and for good reason. The services are structured similarly to move from beginning to end, and every part is needed for sinners like us who need God. If you’ve never discerned the logic then you might be like the person who only knows movies starting 10 minutes in.

Now, a word to married men. Here’s the word: lead.

Leading doesn’t mean merely saying “we’re going to be on time!” Leading is saying “What time do we need to get up to be on time? What do we need to do the night before? What do we need to not stay up late doing the night before?” (like watching a movie). And, gentleman, if you are the one making the family late, you know what to do. And if you have small kids, remember that they are your kids too. If your wife cares for the children in the mornings during the week if you work outside the home it may be tempting to expect her to manage them on Sunday morning as well. But unless you’re leaving early to serve at church apart from your family on Sunday, getting the kids ready is part of getting your family ready. Sundays should be an easier morning for your wife for having you home.

Finally, there’s the danger in this exhortation that some will turn around and go home when they are late. Please know that you are not looked on by the church’s leadership in judgment, even on the Sunday after this exhortation. There are always reasons some are late. We will assume the best of any individual while recognizing that there is a need for growth here as a church.

To hear Ryan’s original exhortation to pursue God’s presence, in part, by being on time to church, listen to his sermon on Psalm 16, “In Hot Pursuit of His Presence.” The exhortation comes at the end and includes reasons to come early, practical suggestions for how to prepare for Sunday, and a vision for what Sundays could look like if we were on time. In that sermon, he closed with these wise, pastoral, loving, and convicting words from Charles Spurgeon:

“There should be some preparation of the heart in coming to the worship of God. Consider who he is and in whose name we gather, and surely we cannot rush together without thought. Consider whom we profess to worship, and we shall not hurry into his presence as men run to a fire. Moses, the man of God, was warned to put off your shoes from his feet when God only revealed himself in a bush. How should we prepare ourselves when we come to him who reveals himself in Christ Jesus, his dear son? There should be no stumbling to the place of worship half-asleep, no roaming here as if it were no more than going to playhouse. We cannot expect to profit much if we bring with us a swarm of idle thoughts and a heart crammed with vanity.”

Lord’s Suppers are great for getting our family on the same page. If you missed hearing this in person at our gathering last Wednesday night, thank you for reading this entire post.

May Sundays speak to the work of God in our lives and in our church through hospitality, attention to the Word, and an apparent eagerness to be together in God’s presence.

Looking forward to growing with you –

Trent, for the elders