West Morris Weekly Archives
August 27, 2020
Dear West Morris Family,
Do you remember being so excited about something as a kid that you couldn't sleep? I remember Josiah the night before going to 1st grade. Completely dressed in his first-day-of-school clothes and shoes and his backpack on, he went to bed, just sure he was too excited to actually fall asleep. He did eventually sleep - but never did remove his shoes or backpack!
That's how I'm feeling right now as we head into this Sunday's worship as we gather in missional micro-church gatherings in and around Indianapolis and online. Romans 12:10-13 reminds us, "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." In the NLT version it says to "serve the Lord enthusiastically!"
Many of you have said "YES!" to serving the Lord enthusiastically this weekend as you lead a missional gathering - either with your family unit or with others. Others of you will be saying "YES!" to serving the Lord by participating in a missional gathering - either in person or online. I look forward to hearing the stories of how the Lord works among us when we gather as a large group on Sunday, Sept 6 in the parking lot!
Here are some important things you need to know this week -
WORSHIP & ENGAGE
Where will you worship this weekend? Check out the options in the attached document.
How will you worship? Follow the worship guides in the attached documents.
Why Missional Gatherings? Read more here.
STUDY & PRAY
Stay in the Word - follow the Daily Lectionary readings guide for your devotional time. Click here.
Pray with the national FMCUSA Church - join the on-going National Prayer Summit, Sun Aug 30 at 7 PM online. Click here.
Pray for revival with the global Church at the New Room Conference on Sept 25. Get more info here.
Aug 29 & Aug 30 - Missional Micro-Church Gatherings
Sun, Aug 30 @ 7 PM - National Prayer Summit on Facebook Live
Tues, Sept 1 @ 8 AM - Prayer Meeting on Zoom
Tues, Sept 1 @ 7 PM - "I'm Still Here" Young Adults & Others Book Club on Zoom
Sun, Sept 6 @ 10:30 AM - Parking Lot Baptism & Communion Service at West Morris Church
Sun, Sept 6 @ 7 PM - National Prayer Summit on Facebook Live
Sun, Oct 4 @ 6 PM - Free Methodist Foundation Workshop on Living Wills & Advance Directives on Zoom
I am praying God's blessings on you and yours this weekend as we worship! Won't you join me in prayer as we lead into this intentional way of making disciples and reaching those far from God?
August 19, 2020
In Matthew's gospel, we read about Jesus healing a man with leprosy. The man approaches Jesus and asks, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." Jesus then utters some of the most profound words in Scripture. "I am willing."
Jesus is willing to come alongside us today - to walk with us, encourage us, comfort us, and heal us. And that isn't true just for us individually - it's true for us communally. It isn't a question of Jesus' willingness - it is a question of ours. Are we willing, like the man with leprosy, to seek Jesus out of the crowds, to come kneel before him, and humble ourselves? We may not be encountering Jesus as he descends a mountainside along with a large crowd in Israel and we may not have leprosy. But our lives are crowded, and our world is hurting and broken.
Seeking out Jesus requires faith and intentionality on our part. The man didn't just watch from afar - he didn't just complain about his circumstances - he didn't just expect things to happen automatically. Let us be intentional together. This week's West Morris Weekly has numerous ways to encounter Jesus - in new and exciting ways. Will we be willing?
On Sunday, 8/30 West Morris won't gather for worship in ONE place - we'll gather in MANY places. Host or join a missional gathering. Get more info & sign up here.
A Worship Guide and Children's Teaching Time guide is attached to this email for everyone to use on 8/30.
Join the Missional Leadership class at 7 PM tonight on Zoom to learn how to lead a missional gathering.
Stay in the Word.
Daily Bible reading guide - https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu//daily.php?year=A.
Pastor Kristen will be basing the next sermon series on the book, The Art of Neighboring, from Sept 6-Oct 11. Get it here.
The Week Ahead.
Wed 8/19 - "Let's Get Practical" Missional Leadership Class on leading missional gatherings - 7 PM on Zoom.
Sun 8/23 - "Praying to be Equipped" Missional Prayer Class - 9 AM on Zoom.
Tues 8/25 - Prayer Meeting - 8 AM on Zoom.
Donna Larrison is home from the hospital and making slow, steady improvement. Continue to pray for full healing for her and Ed, but huge praises to God for his healing touch!
Jordan and Haley (Reeser) Hobson and family - Albert Hobson, father-in-law of Haley Hobson passed away August 17, 2020. Please continue to hold the entire family in your prayers.
Don and Bev Fugett and family - Don's older sister passed away August 16, 2020. Please pray for comfort and peace.
Dawn Miles and family - Dawn's extended family has experienced tremendous loss through the tragic deaths of three young family members. Pray that God's peace and nearness would provide comfort and grace in these awful circumstances.
Garth and Amy Banks and family - Garth will be having surgery on September 4, and has several tests and pre-op appointments prior to the surgery date.
School teachers, staff and students in K-12 and college/university.
Missional gatherings for West Morris Church - for obedient and faithful disciples to host, gather, and worship together in this new (to West Morris) yet old (to the ancient Church) way!
God bless you! If you ever need anything, please don't hesitate to reach out via phone, text or email. Now that I am finally feeling about 90% after my long struggle with COVID, I am starting to feel able to do brief porch home visits with you all. Let's schedule a time to meet together - I can't wait!
Attachment #1 - Worship Guide for Missional Gathering on 8/30
Attachment #2 - Children's Teaching Guide for Missional Gatherings on 8/30
Attachment #3 - National Prayer Summit Flyer
August 12, 2020
Good morning West Morris Family!
Psalm 28:6-9, one of today's lectionary readings reminds us of God's unfailing love and the blessings he pours out upon his people. The psalmist rejoices:
Give praise to the Lord.
He has heard my cry for his favor.
The Lord gives me strength. He is like a shield that keeps me safe.
My heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart jumps for joy.
With my song I praise him.
The Lord gives strength to his people.
He guards and saves his anointed king.
Save your people. Bless those who belong to you.
Be their shepherd. Take care of them forever.
Looking for a daily Bible reading guide? Check out the Daily Lectionary here. Sunday's sermon will focus on humility. Prepare your heart by reading Philippians here.
We are continually looking at new ways to effectively communicate with our church family, so you'll notice a few changes in the weeks ahead to this church email. We encourage you to read through each week's email for important details, and follow the links for more information!
Tonight, Wed Aug 12, is the first night of our Wednesday night "Leading Christ-Centered Missional Gatherings" class at 7 PM on Zoom (lhttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750). The topic will be "What is Church?" Click here for more information.
Join us at 9 AM Sunday School on Zoom (lhttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750) for "Praying for a Person of Peace." Click here for more information.
Sunday Worship will be on Facebook Live at 10:30 AM on August 16 and August 23. Join here or watch on YouTube or our church website (https://www.westmorrisfm.org/) afterwards.
Sunday August 30 we will gather together in small missional communities for worship. Our Wednesday night classes are designed to help you prepare to worship together as a family or small group on August 30. In addition, watch your email for specific ways and places you can engage in worship together including groups you can join and an order of worship you can follow as you lead your own group.
Thank you for your continued prayers for the in-laws of Marcia Nilsen's daughter and Ed and Donna Larrison who are all dealing with COVID.
Elena Wilkerson has been cleared of COVID concerns.
Please pray for Jordan and Haley Hobson (daughter and son-in-law of Marti & Lana Reeser) as Jordan's dad Albert is in the final hours of this earthly life. Pray for Albert, his wife Shelly and their entire family.
Please pray for Garth Banks as he will be going through a series of pre-op tests and procedures leading to surgery at the end of September.
As we continue to see the on-going realities of COVID in society - with school closings and even postponement of all fall sports at IU, Purdue and Ball State (among other schools) - we're reminded that COVID continues to be a challenge. Thank you too for your continued prayers for our church and leaders, as we faithfully desire to respond to God's work among us now, and the opportunities He's presenting us!
God bless you! If you ever have any questions, concerns or needs, please don't hesitate to reach out via phone, text or email at 317-464-7360 or email@example.com.
August 3, 2020
What a special time we had together yesterday in worship. We danced and sang along with some of our Zoom VBS kids. We considered the significance of suffering in the Christian life, including being challenged by Paul to shift from a victim-mindset to a gospel-potential-mindset. And we witnessed and celebrated the marriage of Jerry Swinehart and Lynne Warfield!
As we begin a new month together, I wanted to give you a preview of what to expect in August in terms of worship and discipleship opportunities. We will be learning from the Lord in the book of Philippians throughout the month of August. With only four chapters, this is a great little book to read several times throughout the month. I'd encourage you to spend some time each day reading, studying, praying through and meditating on this book which focuses on joy - even in the midst of suffering and difficulty.
Today I read a blog post from Phil Eaton (linked here) about the prevalence of negativity and criticism in our world. In it, he shares from Joan Chittister's book, The Gift Of Years: Growing Older Gracefully. He explains, “We can decide to live with joy... We can make the choice to adopt transforming joy. It’s our decision. We can choose joy, or we can allow ourselves to live looking back with bitterness. . . . But whichever we decide—bitterness or joy—decide we must.” What an important and timely challenge that is!
I shared this blog post on Facebook today, along with the picture I've attached to this email. It reminds us, "If you look for something to criticize, you will find it. If you look for something to compliment, you will find that too. Your choice!" While criticizing is probably easier at times, and may even make us feel better (at least in the short-term), what type of witness does that have for Jesus? What does it demonstrate to a world wondering why they should follow Jesus? What if we committed together to be people who compliment, who choose joy, and who intentionally and consistently move away from bitterness and criticism? In a negative world, "We can begin again, start over, retool, regroup, reorient ourselves, for the small things, yes, but as well for the deeper places where we really live. We can actually become different people, perhaps vibrantly positive. That’s a Christian notion. It’s called conversion, transformation." (quote from Phil Eaton's blog post.)
All of us desire and need Christ's on-going transformation in our lives, and we also engage passionately in bringing about Christ's transformation in our world. This is the essence of being the Church! As we lean in together to re-discovering Christ's mission for West Morris, this transformation is at the center of all we do. I can't think of anything more important!
Our worship services will focus on individual and communal transformation. On August 9, 16 and 23, we will gather online to worship, learn, dialogue and fellowship together. We will be on Facebook Live, and starting August 16, also on Zoom to create greater engagement and interaction in worship!
On August 9, 16 and 23, Pastor Brett will be teaching a Sunday School class at 9 AM on Zoom focused on missional prayer. This multi-generational Sunday School opportunity is open to all!
On August 12, 19 and 26, Pastor Kristen will be teaching a leadership class at 7 PM on Zoom focused missional gatherings. This multi-generational class is also open to all!
Both of these classes are discipleship opportunities that will intentionally prepare us for Sunday, August 30 when we will meet together in missional and house church communities all around Indianapolis and beyond. If you think you may want to be a missional/house church community leader (meaning you may invite others over to your house that Sunday morning....even if it's just your own family members who live in the same house!), you'll definitely want to join in. If you are curious to learn more, join us. If you are just missing a small group setting in which to learn and grow and fellowship, join us. If you're committed to Kingdom growth and being part of God's transformative work (in yourself and others!), join us!
We know some of you may still be struggling with knowing how to access Zoom. If that's the case, we would like to set up a time to come over to your house to help you get set up, and teach you how to use it. Anyone can use Zoom. At Aldersgate FMC in Indy (a church who is also not yet meeting in person inside their church building), the 90+ year old Sunday School class meets together every Sunday on Zoom! If they can do it, so can we!! And so can you!! Want some tech assistance? Email, call or text me and we will be thrilled to help you.
As we think about meeting together in missional/house church groups on Sunday, August 30, who might you gather with? We encourage you to begin praying now about who God would put on your heart. Even if you're not ready to go in someone's home, or have them come in yours due to COVID, could you meet on your front porch, in your backyard, at a park, or in a restaurant? What church members might you invite? What neighbors or friends might you include? Let's commit to expectantly praying and asking the Lord to show us how He is asking us to be faithful and obedient about "meeting together" on that day!
Finally, I wanted to share a picture with you of our sanctuary with the chairs in place. It looks beautiful! While we recognize some of you might be experiencing some sentimental sadness, we also encourage you to look forward with great expectation to how the Lord will move in this new season. Let us remind ourselves of the necessary ingredients of a vibrant Church: the people of God and the Spirit of God!
God is on the move. Let's not miss it!
P.S. Here's a quick calendar to help you keep track of everything going on at West Morris!
Mon, Aug 3 - Everywhere you Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are book club, 8 PM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Tues, Aug 4 - Prayer Meeting, 8 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Fri, Aug 7 - Everywhere you Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are book club, 11 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Sun, Aug 9 - Missional Prayer Sunday School, 9 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Sun, Aug 9 - Worship Gathering, 10:30 AM on Facebook (WestMorrisFMC group)
Mon, Aug 10 - Everywhere you Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are book club, 8 PM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Tues, Aug 11 - Prayer Meeting, 8 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Wed, Aug 12 - Missional Leadership Class, 7 PM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Fri, Aug 14 - Everywhere you Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are book club, 11 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Sun, Aug 16 - Missional Prayer Sunday School, 9 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Tues, Aug 18 - Prayer Meeting, 8 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Wed, Aug 19 - Missional Leadership Class, 7 PM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Sun, Aug 23 - Missional Prayer Sunday School, 9 AM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Wed, Aug 26 - Missional Leadership Class, 7 PM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750)
Sun, Aug 30 - Worship in Missional/House Church communities (worship guide to be provided to all!)
August 1, 2020
We look forward to gathering with you tomorrow - online and in the parking lot! Our worship will begin at 10:30 AM from under the canopy.
If you're planning on coming to the parking lot, here are a few things to remember:
Tremont Street will be blocked off. Please come onto the parking lot from Pershing Street.
If you'd like to stay in your vehicle, tune your FM radio to 88.5 to hear the service.
If you'd like to sit outside, please bring your own chair. You may also want an umbrella tomorrow!
If you're outside, you will need to wear a mask. Please also maintain at least 6 feet of distance from everyone.
The church building will be closed. But, if you need to use the restroom, please find Ivan Marble in the yellow vest. He will let one person at a time into the restroom.
Not only will we worship together - we will also celebrate the wedding of Jerry Swinehart and Lynne Warfield. You won't want to miss this special Sunday!!
As you arrive, you will check in with our greeters, receive communion elements, and a handout with lyrics and announcements. If you'd like to print your own, or simply use an electronic version, the handouts have also been attached to this email.
God bless you and yours. We will see you online or in the parking lot!
July 30, 2020
Dear WM Family,
In Exodus we read about God redeeming His people out of bondage. Rescued from slavery, Israel found herself wandering in the desert wilderness. Throughout the time Israel was straddled between Egypt and the Promised Land, God had much to teach his people. Their journey was often challenging and disorienting, and Israel regularly complained to God. Israel even longed to return to Egypt - the very place from which they'd been redeemed.
We too find ourselves on a journey in this pandemic season, and God is desiring to teach us many things. We might easily identify with Israel, challenged and disoriented, quick to complain to God, and longing to return to pre-pandemic normal. But we cannot go back - we can only go forward. Let's decide together to keep moving forward together.
If Israel had returned to Egypt, they would have been removed themselves from being instep with God's plans and promises. They would have returned to the very place of enslavement and bondage. If we attempt to return, we will miss the opportunities God is presenting us. The future of WMFMC lies ahead, not behind us.
While Israel didn't have a roadmap or timeline for their forty years in the wilderness, we do have a small roadmap and timeline we would like to share with you. Last night the WM board met to pray and plan for ministry in this season. With new cases of COVID in Indiana on the rise, with a desire to strategize and plan (rather than simply react and/or wait), and honestly reflecting upon our own comfort levels*, the board has established a 3-month roadmap. This roadmap charts our course for the months of August, September and October.
The board's decisions follow a comprehensive rubric and guide for determining how to move forward with ministry, mission and worship. I have attached this comprehensive document to this email, and encourage you to spend time reading it in detail. It communicates our worship rhythms, missional focus, and criteria for moving into in-person worship gatherings.
Here is a brief overview of our 3-month roadmap:
August - A Focus on Philippians
8/2 (this Sunday!) - Outdoor Parking Lot Service at WMFMC and West Park - "Suffering"
8/9 - Worship Online - "Friends or Enemies of the Cross?"
8/16 - Worship Online - "Humility"
8/23 - Worship Online - "Koinonia"
8/30 - House Church/Missional Worship - "The Gospel Goes Forth"
September - The Art of Neighboring
9/6 - Outdoor Parking Lot Service at WMFMC and West Park - "Being a Neighbor"
9/13 - Worship Online - "Overcoming Barriers"
9/20 - Worship Online - "Moving Forward"
9/27 - House Church/Missional Worship - "Receiving in Love"
October - The Art of Neighboring cont. and The Kingdom of God is Like...
10/4 - Outdoor Parking Lot Service at WMFMC and West Park - "Opening Doors"
10/11 - Worship Online - "United in Love"
10/18 - Worship Online - "Sower"
10/25 - House Church/Missional Worship - "Weeds"
We eagerly anticipate how God will move and expand his Kingdom, as we shift from building-centric to mission-centric worship and engagement. We desire to make much of Him, to share the Gospel, and to become disciples who make disciples.
On this Sunday we invite you to join us in the parking lot and West Park for our Outdoor Service as we begin a new series exploring the book of Philippians. We will begin at 10:30 AM, and at the close of our service, we will celebrate the wedding of Jerry Swinehart and Lynne Warfield! Many of you were present at worship when Jerry proposed to Lynne during the service, so you won't want to miss as they covenant with God and each other in holy marriage!
Watch your email for specific details about Sunday's outdoor service. We look forward to worshiping as family and celebrating communion together! Please bring your own chairs and masks if you wish to exit your vehicles.
As we continue on this journey, I join Paul in prayer. As he prayed over the house churches in Ephesus, I also pray over WMFMC: "I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Eph 3:16-21)
Blessings to you. Thank you for your prayers for our leadership.
*In regards to comfort levels of board members for meeting in person, let me share a quick snapshot. Of 7 board members present at our meeting last night, only ONE person was comfortable returning to in-person worship right now, and SIX were uncomfortable and would not do so. While this reality was not specifically used in making a decision regarding our 3-month plan, it is likely reflective of our larger WM family.
July 16, 2020
Good evening West Morris Family,
I was sitting on my deck today, worshiping along with a CD that was playing in the background, and I wistfully thought back to just a few months ago. Oh how I love to sing, worship, pray and be together in person! I know many of you can certainly relate.
Yet, all is not lost even when we cannot do so. In fact, there is great hope. Scripture reminds us, "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. 'Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.' But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil" (1 Pet 3:13-17).
In our Disciple class on Sunday, I asked everyone to talk about ways they have been sharing hope in this season. In fact, everyone was sent home with homework: share hope and be ready to come back and share the story! I wonder how you are sharing hope in this difficult season? How would you live out that homework? We indeed have many opportunities to share hope - it requires perhaps some creativity and innovation on our part in these days - but that hardly seems too burdensome a call, especially as we consider the significance of that hope we have to share!
In Hebrews 10:23-25 we read, "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." In this week's West Morris Weekly, I want to highlight a few ways we can live into this passage of Hebrews.
Holding onto Hope
These are challenging days, no doubt. I cried some tears last night as one of our senior daughters had something very special to her cancelled for the fall. It's extra difficult because as a senior, this was her last opportunity to participate. Yet, we do not lose hope. Our faith and hope is rooted in the person and work of Jesus who still reigns, still loves us, and will still be victorious in the end. People are hurting and broken - even more so right now. How can you not only hold onto hope - but share it? That's something that can happen at the grocery store, Menard's, with your neighbors, and among your friends and family.
Difficulty and trials grow our faith. How are you growing? How are you intentionally engaging God's Word, listening to Him in prayer, establishing routines and rhythms that might have become sidelined in pre-COVID days? How are you walking with another person in their faith journey? As we walk with and encourage others, our own hope and faith grows. As we give, we receive so much - much more than when we simply seek to receive!
One way to do this is to participate in our upcoming Drive-Thru Prayer Events. If you worshiped with us on Sunday, you will recall the video of the Drive-Thru Prayer outreach in Texas (you can watch it here). We will be doing Drive-Thru Prayer at our church starting next week. Come hold a sign, wave, pray with people, and share your hope! Contact Jan Leak (317-440-4858) for more info!
If you're still wanting to stick close to home, consider writing notes of encouragement and love to residents at Lynhurst Healthcare Assisted Living Facility at 5225 W Morris St, Indianapolis 46241.
Spur one another toward Love and Good Deeds
The New Testament epistles are filled with "one anothers" - have you studied them before? (Check out John 13:34, Rom 12:10, Rom 12:16, Rom 14:19, Rom 15:5-7, 1 Pet 4:10, Eph 4, and 1 Thess 5:11...those are just a few!) These "one anothers" are ways we are to engage with one another as the Church. These are practical outworkings of what we see in Acts 2:42-47 for how the Early Church engaged each other - not just on Sundays, but 7 days a week.
I have no doubt that as Holy-Spirit-filled believers we too can practice the "one anothers" 7 days a week. We can find multiple ways to spur one another toward love and good deeds. Sometimes the best way is to engage in love and good deeds ourselves and invite someone else to join us. If you'd like some specific ways, here are some great options in the next week:
Friday (July 17) - Say thanks to the TeenWorks team that has been serving at the church over the past 6 weeks. We'll be serving ice cream sundaes and we've rented a waterslide for them. When they're done with the waterslide, the neighborhood kids will be invited to join in the fun. Come help serve ice cream, supervise the water slide, and just connect with people! We'll be at the Peace Park next to the church from 11AM-5PM tomorrow. (Contact Janie Kirk 317-443-3035 for more info)
Saturday (July 18) - West Morris Church is sponsoring a youth activity table at Earth Day Indiana at Military Park and will be planting seeds with the kids. Come meet families, help kids plant seeds, and share hope from 11AM-4PM. (Contact Crystal Coffey 317-833-0650 for more info)
Sunday (July 19) - Disciple Class at 7 PM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750). Connect with others, grow as a believer, and learn ways to disciple new believers. (Contact Pastor Kristen 317-464-7360 for more info)
Monday (July 20) - Summer Book Club at 8 PM on Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3239687750). We will be discussing Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are. The Book Club will be filled with ideas about ways we can BE the Church right where we live, work, play and study which is precisely what God is calling us to do right now during COVID! (Contact Pastor Kristen 317-464-7360 for more info)
That's a lot! Of course you don't need to do all of them - but pick one or two. If you're feeling upset about not getting back together for Sunday worship, these many opportunities are wonderful gatherings to worship in creative, unique, love-sharing ways.
The West Morris Board is continuing to carefully assess the scientific data in regards to COVID, along with national and state-wide trends, developments and recommendations, decisions of other bodies, and realities of our entire congregation. I would ask for your continued prayers and grace as these are unprecedented times without clear roadmaps. We understand, and fully empathize, if you're frustrated with what may appear to be slowness in moving forward. But like armchair quarterbacking, it's much easier to call plays when you're not directly in the game. Our board is feeling the heavy weight and responsibility of the potential ramifications, liabilities, complications and dangers of our decisions.
We have committed, from the beginning, to prioritize wisdom, love, and care for one another over just our personal desires to come back together. We choose to act in love, not fear, over how best to move forward in these days. You may be aware of significant shifts that are occurring even now in regards to school openings, sports and music schedules, other churches, youth & family camps, World Ministry Center opening, college and university sports, events such as the Rose Parade, and more. Specifically here in Wabash, several FM churches have already had asymptomatic people in attendance at worship services that have been diagnosed shortly after a Sunday service, and several pastors have gotten COVID.
Although we are all admittedly tired of COVID, we do not want to become complacent in our attentiveness to what is healthy and appropriate for all. While some might say, "Just stay home if you're not comfortable," that doesn't address staff and volunteers who have to be at service, regardless whether they're comfortable. It also doesn't address the challenge of asymptomatic exposure, extensive cleaning regimens for which we need volunteers, current upward trends in new cases, and the risk we aren't ready to embrace of potentially harming our loved ones. While our brothers and sisters around the world may risk their lives as they face persecution for their faith, we feel it is neither prudent nor loving for us to risk each others' lives for our impatience with a pandemic.
And the good news is that we certainly haven't neglected meeting together! We've worshiped together every Sunday since our building was closed and the services are available and accessible for everyone - whether you call in with a phone (dial 844-756-1591), watch on our website, tune into YouTube, or join on Facebook. On Monday-Saturday, I share daily live teachings which are 10-25 minutes in length and are posted on all the same places (phone, website, youtube and facebook). We've held discipleship classes open to all on Sunday nights, had weekly prayer meetings since March 16, and July 20 begin a Summer Book Club! Our children's ministry workers connect daily with kids with a memory verse, weekly with a children's church lesson, regularly with a game night, personally with drive-by Frosty's and activity kits, and throughout July, twice weekly for VBS.
There are many other opportunities to serve our community that we'd like to begin - we are just waiting for people willing to serve. And, we encourage you to be creative in starting or restarting ministries even now. Many churches have experienced great growth in ministry as lay people take the initiative and begin serving.
Perhaps your Sunday School class might want to get together - that's great! Maybe you'd like to begin a discipleship group or a house church. Perhaps you'd like to connect with the youth, or respond to those facing food insecurity. Dream, plan, organize and let us know how we can empower, equip and encourage you! While our building might still be closed, restaurants, backyards, front porches, living rooms, West Park (or any park) are great options. How might you creatively plan to meet together? Maybe you want to worship together with others. Invite them over and tune into the worship service together. (This is a great option for those who might benefit from some technological assistance!) Indeed, where there's a will - there's a way!
Finally, for those of you who are most eager to meet together in person again - please be ready to serve. Outdoor services, and eventually services in the sanctuary, will require a lot of additional manpower. We need cleaning crews before, during and after the service. We need extra greeters. We need people to help set-up and tear-down. At July's outdoor service, we only had a minimal crew of those willing to serve. One of the criteria for moving back to in-person worship is having enough willing helpers to create and maintain a sanitized environment. So if you're one of those eagerly waiting, we eagerly await your help!
When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, she asked him about where one should worship. The Samaritans worshiped one place, and Jews worshiped another. Jesus corrects her confusion, and teaches us all about true worship. Worship isn't about a particular place. Worship isn't tied to a specific space. Worship is so much more. Worship is a 24/7 life commitment for all of us who follow Jesus. Worship is about the "one anothers" we do Monday through Sunday. Worship is about priorities and involvement. "Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24).
Let us be true worshipers who worship in spirit and truth - engaging our whole lives, our whole selves, in our whole world - right now in the midst of COVID. What stories will be told in 1, 2 and 5 years from now about the new, creative, innovative ways West Morris embraced ministry because of COVID? What lives will be transformed?
We are on mission together,
July 8, 2020
How I long to be able to sit with you and hear what you're reading in God's Word, what He's prompting in you, and what your prayers are. The LORD speaks to His entire Church community, and I trust He is also speaking to you about how we can better serve our communities, more effectively lean into His mission, and increasingly expand the church's ministry reach.
Today I read Jeremiah 13:1-11, one of the readings from our Lectionary texts for the day, and my heart broke. A portion of the text reads, "Many days later the Lord said to me, “Go now to Perath and get the belt I told you to hide there.” So I went to Perath and dug up the belt and took it from the place where I had hidden it, but now it was ruined and completely useless. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will ruin the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem. These wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words, who follow the stubbornness of their hearts and go after other gods to serve and worship them, will be like this belt—completely useless!"
I pray that God would not say that to our Church - that we have become prideful, refusing to listen to His words, and leaning into our stubborn hearts and idolatrous inclinations, rather than boldly stepping into His mission. I've been reflecting on the ways we can so easily fall into being protectors, rather than proclaimers, and the challenge of holding tightly onto eternal Gospel truths, while holding loosely onto temporary methods and models. I'd invite you to listen to my devotion today about Jeremiah 13. You can watch it on YouTube, our website, Facebook, or call 844-756-1591 to listen to the audio.
As this pandemic draws on, I imagine many you might be feeling like me - exhausted, frustrated, and wishing things were different. When life as we know it is interrupted and changed considerably as it has with COVID-19, it is normal and expected to go through stages of grief. While these stages aren't necessarily linear or follow a prescribed timeline, they are helpful to consider as we identify and work through our own emotions and reactions. These stages include denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.
The added challenge is that COVID-19 isn't probably the only element in your life prompting these emotions. Illness, death, financial stress, family challenges and more are real realities for many of us. In addition, if you attended our Society Meeting in February 2020, we talked about the changing landscape of society and church, and the challenges they presents to us as we remain focused on the mission of Jesus - to share the Good News and make disciples who make disciples. COVID-19 hasn't stopped those changes, in fact, it has increased them. Crisis is an accelerator, so the challenges to the church in February 2020 are even greater today in July 2020. And so the stages of grief again are present: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.
But this is also what I know, even in the midst of those challenges, and even in the midst of those stages of grief, that Jesus told Peter and the other disciples, "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Mt 16:18-19). Jesus remains on the throne and His mission is more important today and more needed today than ever before. God is not thwarted, surprised or intimidated by 2020 and its challenges - and we who have access to God's power, the very same power that raised Christ from the dead, shouldn't be either!
Are you feeling cooped up and wanting to get more involved? Wanting to get more connected? Wanting to have input? There are so many ways to do so!
Prayer Meeting - Join our Tuesday 8 AM prayer meetings on Zoom. Don't have Zoom? You can call in on your phone and participate. Or, start and lead your own prayer meeting - maybe on a conference call, zoom, or in your local park. Tell us when and where and we'll share it with the church family! Contact Pastor Kristen at 317-464-7360.
Prayer Partner - Do you have a prayer partner? I loved hearing the story from Patsy Jones about her prayer partner that she connected with everyday on the phone for over twenty years! What a legacy of faithfulness, accountability and encouragement. Why not reach out to someone today and start your own prayer partner journey. Can't meet everyday? Meet weekly. Can't meet in person? Call or connect online.
Prayer Drives & Walks - Walk or drive your local neighborhood or the church neighborhood. Invite others to join you. Ask God to show you what He sees. Ask Him to reveal His heart to you right where you are. I've attached a prayer guide for you to follow as you do your prayer drive/walk.
Virtual VBS - Our dedicated and faithful children's ministry workers haven't taken a break from loving and serving our church children throughout this entire pandemic. They've created care teams to reach out to them, done drive-by Frosty deliveries, taught lessons, offered prizes for participation, made activity packets and more! Now they're holding a Virtual VBS on Zoom and would love your help! Interested? Contact TJ Curtis at 317-628-4887.
Neighborhood Outreaches - We've packed and handed out lunches and kept the Little Free Pantry stocked throughout the pandemic. But there's SO MUCH more we can, and should, do to better serve our community. We'd love to do grocery giveaways or community-meals-to-go - but need your involvement. Contact Jeff Drummond at 317-626-8010.
Building Work - Join with our small, but faithful, Facilities Team in maintaining and enhancing our facilities for greater mission work! Your participation in hands-on work, brainstorming, and planning is welcome and encouraged. Contact John Marble at 316-251-1240 or Kerri Drummond at 317-626-6606.
Disciple Class - There are still two weeks left of the Sunday night Disciple class. Join us on Zoom as we focus on discipleship - how to grow in our own discipleship, while also learning tools for walking with others. Sign up at https://www.westmorrisfm.org/grow.
Book Club - Join our Summer Book Club which will be Monday nights on Zoom at 8 PM, starting July 20. (A second meeting time for the book club will also be scheduled during the day, but is yet to be determined...so weigh in with your preferred time and day if Monday nights don't work!) We will be reading and discussing the book Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are. Order the book today (click the link) and make plans to join in! Contact Pastor Kristen at 317-464-7360 to sign up.
House Church - Ready to worship with others? Invite friends, family, neighbors or Sunday School members over to join in with the livestream of our Sunday morning services. Or meet later in the day and watch the posted video (this is a good option if your internet is limited in strength). Who can you share Jesus with in this simple way?
May God continue to strengthen us to continue pressing onward. Paul, writing to the church in Philippi while in literal chains in a Roman prison, exclaimed, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained. Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."
Let that be our call - our prayer - our commitment! And may we make much of Him in the process!
Worshiping with you,
July 5, 2020
What a wonderful time we had together today online and in-person at our parking lot service. We had 55 individuals join us in the parking lot, and about that many on our live online service as well. When we gathered, I preached from Moses' song of rejoicing in Exodus 15:13:
In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
Many thanks to everyone who helped set up, clean up, greet, collect the offering, pick up garbage and more! The Church is the People of God called by the Word of God, transformed by the Power of God, sent out in the world loved by God. And that was evident today!
We will be worshiping online only next week and throughout the end of July (July 12, 19 and 26). We hope infection rates allow us meet again in the parking lot on August 2. We know some of you are anxious to return more quickly. We also know many of you are anxious about gathering together in person - even potentially into the fall. Whichever group you find yourself, we empathize with you and these difficult days and we are praying for you!
We heard from several of you today that you aren't sure how to connect with us online. If you are reading this email - you can connect online! Doing so takes very little tech skills - and doesn't require that you're on Facebook. Simply go to https://www.westmorrisfm.org/ and you will see FIVE ways to connect - watching videos right there on the webpage, connecting on facebook, calling in to a toll-free phone number, watching on YouTube and joining in our Zoom events.
One of those five options is COMPLETELY NO-TECH! If you can make a phone call, you can connect. Dial 844-756-1591 at any time, on any day, and you will immediately be able to listen to the latest service. It's toll-free and you can make the phone call with a cell phone or a regular landline phone! (If you're reading this email and you know someone who doesn't receive or read emails, tell them about this phone number!)
If you're ready for more interaction and engagement in July and are among the group of people wishing we were meeting in-person, here are a few simple ideas. Remember that your hands aren't tied to step up and minister right where you are - in fact, that's what we're all supposed to be doing.
Host a Watch Party - invite friends, neighbors or church family over to your house and watch the Sunday morning worship service together.
Host a Bible Study - grab some friends from your Sunday School class, or invite some neighbors and friends who aren't yet connected to West Morris, read Scripture together and discuss.
Pray - join our Tuesday AM prayer meetings on Zoom at 8 AM. Walk around your neighborhood and pray. Walk or drive around the West Indy neighborhood and pray. Call a prayer partner and pray over the phone. Host a neighborhood prayer gathering in your front or backyard.
Serve - come together with church family to serve and love together. Sunday morning worship times in our church building aren't the only times and ways you can fellowship! Serve in the many outreach ministries and fellowship together in the process. Need an idea about what to do? I'll gladly give you some ideas!
House Churches and Small Groups - start a small group either in person or online. Come together to pray, read and talk about Scripture, and eat. If you do that - you'll be doing just what the Early Church did!
Let's get creative about ways we can serve, minister, fellowship, evangelize, pray and worship together. As beautiful as our church building is - it is not the only place we can serve, minister, fellowship, evangelize, pray and worship together! In fact, I hope it isn't - or we're not fulfilling Jesus' commission to share the Good News in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
Now is the time to be innovative and bold in sharing Jesus' love and hope. Now is the time to step out as members of the royal priesthood that we are ALL called to be and minister and serve. Now is the time to get off the sidelines and get into the game. Now is the time to ask, "How can I be on mission with you God?" rather than just, "When are we going back?"
What if God was really wanting to use this time apart to stir us up - not to anger and frustration - but to passion and mission? What if God is trying to wake up the Church from our slumber and comfort? What if we revise our definition of "church" to be less about coming and receiving - and more about going and ministering? What if we are on the edge of the greatest awakening the world has seen because God's people takes seriously our call to be disciples who make disciples? Who fervently pray? Who passionately serve? Who deliberately connect with others?
That's my prayer. Let's not waste this time apart. Let's not simply tread water waiting for everything to return to normal. There is no going back. There is only going forward. The Lord has promised he will lead in love. He has promised he will guide us in strength. We must just choose to follow.
In Luke 15, Jesus exclaims, "there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." Do you remember your day of rejoicing? What a glorious celebration it was in heaven and on earth, I'm quite sure! But now it's time to help others experience their day of rejoicing. It's time to do everything we can to ensure that the angels are busy rejoicing for others who don't yet know Jesus! That's what the Church is about! That's what we're called to - as individuals and as West Morris FMC.
Let's do this! I can't wait to hear how you plan to live on mission throughout the rest of July. Wouldn't it be amazing to hear testimonies about ways that all of us took seriously Jesus' commission to make disciples - and we could celebrate those victories at our next outdoor service in August?!
On mission with you,
P.S. If these opportunities and challenges excite you as much as they do me, I'd love to talk. We can grab coffee or meet over Zoom. Let's dream together about what God is up to and how we can join Him!
June 29, 2020
Good afternoon West Morris!
We are just 6 days away from our parking lot service at West Morris Church (2302 West Morris St., Indy) on Sunday, July 5 at 10:30 AM. Please be watching your email this week for specific and important instructions/details about Sunday's service so you will be ready. As a warm-up, here are a few things to keep in mind:
We will continue to broadcast our service on Facebook Live, so if you cannot/wish not to come, we invite you to continue joining us online on July 5 at 10:30 AM.
Don't forget your masks. We ask that you join us in wearing masks at all times while you are outside of your vehicle. If you do not have a mask, we will have some for you.
You can remain in your vehicle or sit on your own chairs next to your vehicle for the service. No chairs will be provided.
Think about who you might invite to come with you. Who can you pick up on the way who might not be able to come without transportation?
We've heard lots of excitement for worshiping together - which is great! We are excited too. But, putting together an outdoor service is a huge task that a small handful of people cannot do alone. Let us serve together as we prepare the space for worship. We need your help.
On Sunday, I shared some ideas about ways we can connect with and serve our community. This is an opportunity and calling for all of us. How can we be on mission with Jesus this summer? I'd encourage you to go to westmorrisfm.org/outreach to sign up and learn more. There are a variety of ways you can be part of "going to the people" as I preached yesterday and they have a variety of contact-levels, depending on your needs/desires for social distancing. These "Impacting West Indy for Jesus" outreaches include:
Hosting Summer Virtual Worship Watch Parties
Virtual VBS on Zoom
"Disciple" Discipleship Class on Zoom
Virtual Dinner Church on Zoom
Drive-Thru Dinner Church (a pandemic-version of our community meal)
Upward Soccer Camp for Youth
Finally, perhaps you're like I am in these pandemic days and spending more time reading. If you're wanting to expand your personal library, you're invited to come select however many books you would like to read, keep, share, sell, or donate from the West Morris library. A great collection of books has been gathered over the years at West Morris, but church libraries, including ours, just aren't used anymore. In fact, it's been at least 5 years, but likely longer, since anyone has checked out or used any book from our library. As a way to best use space for ministry, the church library is being cleaned out.
All historical FM books are being donated to the Marston Historical Society. All FM Yearbooks are being kept by the church. All Spanish-language books are being given to Comunidad Cristiana and Pastor Nicolas. All Wesley Duewel books are being kept. And all remaining books are being offered to you before they are donated/given away. Please contact me to make arrangements to come "shop" for great books anytime this week. We will also have them out at the outdoor service for everyone to take home.
You can connect with me about any of these items via phone, text or email. I look forward to hearing from you!