Restoration 2025: Update and Request for Plans!

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Restoration,

We have been hard at work gathering input about the things you love about our church and the hopes you have for what our church will become.  Thank you!

This is a (long) update about what we know and what we don’t know in July 2019 about our Restoration 2025 Strategic Plan.

Here is an overview of what you can read below:

  1. It starts with a preamble that isolates some of our ‘unknowns’.  We want to acknowledge that we need to ‘save space’ for the unknown ways that God might surprise us.
  2. It then pivots to what we do ‘know’ because of your excellent feedback given through your survey responses and congregational input sessions.
  3. Then it employees a thought exercise about the answers we would like to get to a hypothetical congregational survey in 2025.  Imagine our joy in getting those responses!
  4. Finally, it asks for your input:  What plans should we put in place now in order to get the ‘2025 survey responses’ that we desire?

We are ready to read and to hear your tactical and specific ideas for plans that we should implement.  As your ideas materialize, we invite you to share them on this form.

We are SO grateful for the way our congregation has engage this process.  Thank you for praying, for responding, for writing, and for peering forward with hope to what God has for Restoration, next!  We can’t wait to see it!

-David

(As a note of clarity, when I use ‘we’, I am referring primarily to the Restoration leadership team of vestry and staff, but ‘we’ also reflects the over 300 survey responses and hundreds of sticky notes from Restoration members.)

Preamble:  Isolating Unknowns

From the vantage point of July 2019, Restoration leaders are trying to see where God is taking Restoration in 2025.  Your feedback through our congregational input sessions, hundreds of sticky notes, and over 300 survey responses has really helped the leadership of Restoration to hear what you like about and what you are longing for in our church.  Thank you.

There are a few things that affect our visibility to 2025.  They are not bad or good.  They just are.  As followers of Jesus, when we encounter stuff that makes it hard to see, we increase our prayer and we cry out for discernment.  And we trust that God will help us.  He will.

Here are the ‘unknown unknowns’ that we are trying to isolate so that we can focus on the tangible plans we want to make. 

  • Unknown #1:  We are a church full of people with ideas and resources.   The creativity and potential within our community is astounding.  We want to pursue and build the ideas we have now, in 2019.  We also recognize that lots of ideas grow here.  So we want to ‘save some space’ for those ideas that might emerge in the next 5 years.  We are not sure what it means to ‘save some space’, yet, but we know it is important.
  • Unknown #2:  We don’t know what new ideas will come through our doors or grow up in our pews.  Most of our church is in a stage of life that fosters change and transition:  Kids are growing from nursery to APEX.  Adults have changing jobs, increasing responsibility, and growing incomes.  Our area has a lot of transience.   Generally we experience a turnover of about 100 people each year.
  • Unknown #3:  Restoration has the potential for a lot (more) staff transition between now and 2025.  Specifically the addition of a new Director of Worship Arts will significantly change our most visible experience:  our Sunday Liturgy.  We must be praying every day for this person and the way music and art will change in our church.  (Remember how much staff change we have already experienced in the last 5 years: 14 people were added to our team and 9 people left our team.  That’s a lot of change for a staff team that has hovered around 8 people for those five years.)
  • Unknown #4:  What is the threat or opportunity that is represented by our mortgage due date (July 2023)?  How do we continue to be a good steward of our building-  managing the capital expense (mortgage), the maintenance expense, and seeking to make it available to everyone that we can?

We are isolating these ‘unknowns’ so that we can focus on the ‘knowns’ for which we are trying to plan.  We invite you to pray about these things.  Perhaps God will grant us more clarity in the months to come. 

What we DO know:

May 2019 Survey

Here is the most salient feedback that we received from our May 2019 Congregational Survey.

[338 total people took the 2019 survey. 

  • 82 out of 338 (24% of respondents) used the link that was sent to our core leadership team (for this document, ‘core leadership team’ refers to the 135 vestry, staff, and small group leaders of Restoration).
  • 82 out of 135 represents 61% of the people on that core leadership team. 
  • 255 out of 338 survey respondents attend Restoration. 
  • 83 respondents no longer attend Restoration.  Those who no longer attend were not given the feedback questions about current Restoration programs.]

The 2019 congregational survey said these things: 

  1. The primary things that people are looking for when they choose a church:  preaching/teaching (98%), music (85%), ability to form friendships (82%), Small Groups (81%) are things that Restoration is doing well.
  2. Restoration does a great job serving kids (92% said that Resto serves this group well) and families (91% said that Resto serves this group well).
  3. Restoration is not great at sharing the Gospel with those outside the church nor teaching people how to share the Gospel.  This is a place where we could improve.
  4. Restoration members are passionate about growth.  They want to grow closer to Jesus and they want to see an increase in the number of people making commitments to follow Jesus because of the efforts of our church. 

 

What if we offered another Restoration Survey in 2025?

The leadership of Restoration is working to articulate 2 goals that came out from our 2019 survey feedback:

  1. We want to use the resources of Restoration to seek after strategic groups of people that are under-served by Christ-filled communities. We want to build/create things together that will compel people who are outside the church to come in to friendship with Jesus and friendship with people at Restoration.
  2. We want people who attend Restoration to grow closer to God by trusting Jesus in everything and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  We think these people will have a compelling story of God’s power to restore broken people by grace which they can share with those in their sphere of influence who are not in a church.

If those goals were accomplished in the next 5 years, how might people respond to a 2025 congregational survey?  Here are some examples:

  1. In response to the question, did you decide to follow Jesus in the last 5 years, we would like over 100 people to say ‘yes’. This would be one of the products of Restoration growing disciples who tell a compelling story about life in God’s Kingdom and seeking groups of people around us with winsome invitations to consider Jesus and gracious acts of service. 
  2. In response to a question about being an active member of a small group, we would like 100% of people to have been in a small group in the previous year (1 out of 3 trimesters). We would like the diversity (kind, length, focus) of small groups to increase.  We believe that small group involvement is still the primary metric for measuring people choosing opportunities to help them grow.
  3. We would like an increased correlation between age (mid 20s to mid 30s) or location (The Orange Line Corridor) and involvement in:  a Restoration service, a Restoration small group, a Restoration mentoring relationship.  We think this group of people is strategic for Restoration because of the people who attend Restoration and the location of our building (very close to Metro).  The service or small group might be something new that we created or it could be a concerted effort to integrate people in that age and location into current services and small groups of diverse demography.
  4. In response to the question, “in the last year, how many times have you served at RILA or one of our local outreach partners?”  We would like an increase in involvement by people who regularly attend Restoration.  We think that our partnership with RILA is critical.  We want to more holistically serve RILA clients.  We want everyone at Restoration to have an opportunity to serve RILA clients.
  5. In response to the question, ‘Do you give a 5-10% portion of your annual income to the work that God is doing through Restoration?’  We would like 100% of people to say ‘yes’.  In response to the question, ‘Has this percentage increased in the last five years?’  We would like 100% of people to say yes.  We think generosity and trusting Jesus with our money is a critical discipleship issue for people in our congregation.
  6. In response to the question, ‘Have you told a friend or neighbor about your relationship with God in the past 6 months?’  We would like 100% of people to say ‘yes’.  As a follow-up, ‘Have you invited that person to follow Jesus?’  We would like 100% of people to say ‘yes’.  Restoration is currently good at engaging the nuance of spirituality in Arlington County.  We need to grow in boldness and willingness to ‘close the deal’ with our friends.

 

Plans that might lead to those survey results

If these potential survey results get us excited, what kinds of things would Restoration need to do to bring them about? 

The leadership of Restoration is very engaged in ‘plan brainstorming’ right now.  If you read these goals and potential survey responses and think of plans that might help us achieve them, we would love to know.  As your ideas materialize, we invite you to share them on this form.     

Here are some notes to help you articulate your ‘plan’ idea:

  1. Please be very specific and tactical in your plan.    
  2. If you can estimate cost in terms of dollars in the budget or hours per week needed from staff/volunteers, that would be helpful. 
  3. If your plan is to hire someone, be as specific as you can about characteristics this person would need to have. 
  4. If your plan is to create a structure or a program, tell us how it will work.  Would we need to eliminate or change a current plan to implement your plan?

To help you think of plans that might lead to those survey results, here are 4 questions to get you started.  We invite you to share them on this form.

How do we maintain/sustain and improve what we do well today.  What would help us decouple the things we do well from the individuals who do them?  

Potential things to focus on include:  Gospel teaching & worship, Small groups, Kids small groups, Global outreach

  1. In five years, what would success look like?  E.g., Restoration has amazing kids small groups, and a strong set of volunteers and clear ‘succession planning’ to backfill key staff.
  2. What are specific ideas or suggestions we should consider to achieve success?  E.g., Have each staff member/volunteer leader build a ‘handbook’ for their core responsibilities (calendar, cheat-sheet of names/numbers, policies/procedures, etc.)

 

How do we grow disciples within our church?  What plans will catalyze people who attend Restoration growing closer to God by trusting Jesus in everything and being filled with the Holy Spirit?

    1. What would success look like?  E.g., Restoration is a church full of first-time visitors and new Christians who came because they were invited.
    2. What specific ideas or suggestions should we consider?
      E.g., community/teaching events (like the technology for families event) every month
      E.g., specific classes or small groups talking about apologetics and/or how to share the gospel

 

How do we serve our local community better?  How do we grow our partnership with RILA?  Are there new local partners whom we should engage?

E.g., Restoration is known in the community for our service to our neighbors, and there are members of our church who got to know us through this service.
E.g., We have increased our support to RILA by doing…

  1. What would success look like?
  2. What specific ideas or suggestions should we consider?

 

How do we use the resources of Restoration to seek after strategic groups of people that are under-served by Christ-filled communities?  Specifically how do we seek and invite young adults and people who live along the Orange Line Corridor?

E.g., Restoration has a vibrant young adult ministry or a Fellows Program or a second van to pick people up at the Metro on Sundays or…

    1. What would success look like?
    2. What specific ideas or suggestions should we consider?

 

As your ideas materialize, we invite you to share them on this form.

We are excited to share a draft of our 2025 Strategic Plan at our Congregational Vision Night on September 10 at 7pm in our sanctuary.  Until then, please pray and share your ideas!

-David

Here is the form for your ideas.

The Matthew 25 Gathering Video Re-Cap

The M25G Logo

 

Hey Restoration,

Remember those snowy days back in February when we hosted a bunch of Anglicans from around North America who are doing works of justice and mercy?  You all were incredible hosts.  You served and served and served-  praying, driving people around, putting people in your home, cleaning up, setting up, showing up.  I am still so grateful.  I think about you doing what you did and I break out in smiles.  Thank you again.

The Gathering was 4 months ago and lots has happened since, but it is a 2019 highpoint for me-  especially when I think about the joy I had as we rolled up our sleeves and partnered together.

One of our good friends created this video summary of the Gathering.  It will be shown next week at our Anglican Church in North America Provincial Assembly.  Thousands of people will get a chance to see what happened here in February.  I wanted to give you a sneak peak and to say again, thanks.

With you in it,

David

 

Update on the 5pm Service

Winter

Hi Restoration,

We have a special community that gathers at 5pm on Sunday evenings for worship.  We wrote a bunch of reasons for why we love it.  Over the last 6 months, I have been facilitating a conversation with that community about the ways God is using that service and the ways we are experiencing Him in the midst of it.  Those conversations have been so encouraging. 
In light of that encouragement and the dearness of that community to me, it makes me sad to have to tell you that in consultation with our staff team and our vestry, we have concluded that it is necessary for Restoration to not offer a 5pm worship service starting on June 23.

How did we arrive at that conclusion?

  • First, I had already announced on March 31 that we were not going to offer the 5pm during August for the purpose of refreshing our staff and volunteers.
  • The next week, on April 5, Matt Hoppe resigned as Director of Worship Arts and Prayer.  His resignation has created an increased work load for each of our staff.  That increase shows up all week long.  One of the ways to give some of this time back to our staff is to not offer the 5pm during a longer portion of the summer.
  • In addition, Matt’s resignation created a significantly greater burden on our volunteer musicians as they cover 3 services on a Sunday.  One of the ways to reduce that burden is to not offer the 5pm service.
  • In my sermon on the season of winter, I said that one of winter’s activities is pruning.  We prune for the sake of more robust growth in the future.  It is my sincere hope that pruning the offering of a 5pm service will actually bring more robust growth for Restoration in general and for this 5pm service in particular.
  • We chose June 23rd as the first date to not offer a 5pm service because our Kids’ Small Groups conclude on June 16.  Summer programming begins on June 23 and that was a natural point in our life together to cease offering the 5pm.

If you regularly worshiped at the 5pm with us, what are your options for Holy Eucharist Worship?

1.  We would be so delighted for you to join us at the 9 or 11 during the summer.  There will be kids’ small groups for pre-school and younger at both services.  I hope that you will choose to adjust your Sunday rhythm and join us in the morning.
2.  Should you choose to seek out an afternoon Eucharistic service, may I recommend our church plant, Incarnation Anglican Church which meets in South Arlington or our Anglican friends at Church of the Ascension which meets in Annandale at 4pm.  I am happy to get you connected with their pastoral leadership, should you choose that.
It is my current hope and intention that we will again offer a 5pm service at Restoration, starting on September 8, 2019.  However, I have been surprised by several things in the past few months, which is why I say ‘current hope and intention’.  May the Lord make His will and His fruit clear in the months to come.
I am grateful for the work God is doing through our church.  Feel very free to reach out to me with questions or concerns.
And pray for Restoration.
-David

Restoration 2025: Congregational Input #1

Congregational Input

You are invited.

Restoration, I invite you bring the enthusiasm, energy, and ideas you’ve always shared with me to the first congregational input session on March 17th.  We will not have childcare.  But we will have snacks!

There are 2 more congregational input sessions on March 31 @1 (at Restoration with childcare) and April 10 @7:30 (at the Weimer Home).  If you can attend all 3 input sessions, GREAT!  I imagine that they will build on each other and you will enjoy the sense of momentum.  If you can only attend 1 or 2, GREAT!  We want to hear what you have to say and you will have an opportunity at each session.

As things occur to you, this form is a place you can share more ideas, concerns, and things you hear in prayer.

To make the best use of our sessions together, I want to summarize some of the feedback we have already received, share the questions with which our vestry and church leaders are wrestling, and give you an idea of where we would like to focus our time together in the coming weeks.  

What we have heard so far.

On September 6, 2018, we hosted our first vision night (this is the link to the audio summary) with over 100 of you participating.  We had stations setup around the building and welcomed the chance to hear your thoughts about our strengths and weaknesses across a variety of topics including evangelism, discipleship, how to celebrate our 10th anniversary, the church mortgage, church planting, kids and youth, etc..  It was a great session and we received a ton of valuable input.

Out of Vision Night, we prioritized 6 important areas for the vestry and staff to consider for Restoration2025:

  1. Church Planting  We believe there are communities that would benefit from the kind of church that Restoration could plant.  Is this the time to keep pursuing those opportunities?  What is the place?  Who is the person?
  2. Serving and partnering with the Spanish speaking population in Arlington.  We love how God provided an opportunity like RILA-  we identified a need (immigration legal aid) that Restoration people could meet with great effectiveness.  Are there other opportunities to serve and partner with our Spanish speaking neighbors? 
  1. People aged 14-26 who live around us.  We want to build on the vibrant growth in Kids’ Small Groups and APEX.  We want to build up and equip those just starting out in their careers. What programs would disciple them?  What needs can we meet?  How can we offer vibrant community for them as well?  Programmatically, we have seen that a Fellows Program (like TFCA) or a mentorship program (like the CS Lewis Institute) has been effective.  Should Restoration pursue a similar programmatic initiative? 
  1. Disciples are connected, available, moving, healthy, and thankful.  They are living God’s Story and they know their place in it.  How do we help people grow deeper and closer to Jesus?  Our small group system has been very effective for a number of years.  Anything we need to add, edit, or delete in relation to this core structure of Restoration?
  2. We want to be a church where people choose to follow Jesus  where they move from curious to convinced.  We want to invite the tens of thousands of people around us to follow Jesus.  How do we do that more effectively?  What could we create to foster relationships that move people closer to Jesus?
  3. 2025 feels far away and it will be here sooner than we think.  What should we be doing now to be ready for what comes after 2025?  Specifically, our mortgage will be due in 2023.  The vestry has commissioned a capital campaign team.  Should we orient ourselves to be in a place to pay it off by 2023?  What other areas should we be working on now so that we are ready for 2025 and beyond?  A rector succession plan?  A pipeline of young(er) staff who are coming up to fill staff gaps that will emerge in the next 7 years?  

The vestry and staff have been praying about and discussing these questions.

We invite your input on Sunday, March 17.

  1. In our Restoration community, who do we serve well?  Who could we serve better?
  2. What are programs or events that we do really well?
    What are the programmatic gaps that require concentrated effort to develop?
    What are things that we are currently doing that we should consider not doing in the future (for the sake of something else)?
  3. Which communities in and around Arlington do we want to pursue?  (could be categories of geography, ethnicity, vocation, avocation, or other demographic descriptors)
  4. What does growth look like in the next 5 years?  (more attendees, more churches, more sites, more fruit, more disciples, etc)

On Sunday, show up ready to dive right in with ideas and prayers.

Our time will feel tight.  We want to use every moment of our 70 minutes together.  That means you need to arrive ready to listen, pray, and share.  (Little known fact:  the highest number of goals in soccer are scored in the last 2 minutes of each half.  After 45 minutes, the play takes on a sense of urgency and things happen.)  We invite you to come in with a sense of urgency and quickly share what is on your mind.  Don’t take 45 minutes to get warmed up.  We want to hear from every person who has something to say.

And if you can’t come this Sunday, we invite you to provide input on this form. and to join us on March 31 and April 7.

Judas

Judas

About 8 years ago I did a sermon about Judas.  In writing the sermon, my imagination was captured by the story-  why he did it, what motivated him, what was he hoping would happen, how he may have felt after-  I decided to give the sermon as Judas.  It made a deep impact on me.

During Lent 2019, we are lingering in the final 36 hours of Jesus’ life- as told by Luke in chapters 22-23.  This Sunday, we will again consider Judas.  And I will most likely give the sermon as Judas…  again.  

I have enjoyed seeing how the story impacts me-  8 years later.  And this Sunday I will pull in Peter’s betrayal as well.  These guys ‘leave’ Jesus and betray him- one right after the other.  They respond to their betrayal choices very differently.

For me, there is so much in these men that feels familiar and so much that I hope I would do differently if put in the same situation.  And yet…

So again, thank you Jesus for the cross:  for knowing what you knew- about Judas, about Peter, about me- and choosing it anyway.

Amazing Love!  How can it be that Thou,  My God(!)  shouldst die for me?

See ya on Sunday.

-David

This is why we LOVE the 5pm at Restoration!

The 5pm service is special for many reasons (there are about 20 of them that I curated from people who attend the 5.  Keep reading…).

We would love for you to try it!  As you know, trying something takes a ‘few tries’.  So if you want to give it a go, would you consider trying it from March 10 until June 9?  That’s all of Lent + Easter to Pentecost.  And that’s a great ‘try’!

We think some of you will try it, love it, and find a meaningful new rhythm to your Sabbath.

Curious?  Here’s a bunch of reasons to tip you over the edge…

It’s come as you are—not only in dress (jeans!) but people come where they are in life—single/married, young/old, children/no children, and everyone fits in.

Everyone is glad to see you!  You are greeted each Sunday like a long-lost friend even if it’s just been a week or two since you last met.

It’s a great way to “end” the weekend and at the same time start the “new” week with a Kingdom mindset.

The 5pm snacks are better!  Not really(!) but we do have snacks- just like the other services. 

It’s not crowded—there is always room for one more person or one more family…even if you are running late.

It’s not “formal”—while we meet at church and do all the worship things, it’s a little more like hanging out with a group of friends to worship together and talk about Jesus and what He’s doing in our lives.

You can be yourself—whether it’s been a tough week (or a good week), whether you feel like laughing (or crying), whether you like to sing loudly and raise your hands in praise (or not), we do it all.

It has a relaxed feel—it’s a low-stress service with rhythms of grace woven into it; it’s more about being present than the program.

It’s more intimate—because it’s a smaller group, you can know and be known by others.

It feels like family—it’s like attending the rehearsal dinner compared to the formal wedding or the Easter Vigil compared to the Sunday Easter services.  It’s more about the people you are with (Jesus and the Resto family) and less about the public-facing ceremony.

Kids’ small groups @ the 5 have their own special flavor, too. The small groups are smaller and the age-range of kids within each small group is wider. It’s a sweet opportunity to have deeper conversations between and among kids and leaders. This dynamic begins to provide our kids with the opportunity to experience mentorship that both looks ahead to those who are older and looks behind to those who are younger, as they see themselves as whole participants in their own spiritual formation and influencers of others’. In other words, we have a blast!

I love that the smaller size of an intimate group allows me to have deeper conversations with one or two people vs. just trying to say a quick surface “hello” to 20 or more people.

As someone who has a tendency to want to rush around from one thing to another, the 5pm is a sweet time of truly slowing down… No rushing to clear out of the Church for the next service, or rushing out of Church to get to a Sunday afternoon activity.

I really do feel like Sunday night is the start of my week. When I attend the 5pm service, I have a smoother transition into my work week and I feel more resilient to the Monday morning anxieties that come with my weekly to-do list, because I have it really fresh in my mind that God has got it all under control.

I have time throughout the afternoon to build up an excited anticipation for what is going to come that evening at Church.

The timing lends well to lingering longer over snacks after service and/or going straight to dinner afterwards with Church friends to continue the conversation about the sermon, prayer, what’s going on in our lives, etc.

If I could paint a picture of the 5pm service, it would be one of Jesus hanging out with his buddies around the supper table, reclined in happy relaxation… Kicking His sandals off, putting His feet up on the table, and motioning with wide open, welcoming arms to gather close… He’s saying, “The invitation is open. Come in and rest. There is always room for you.”

OK, finally. Can I say it?  I’m going to say it.  I like sleeping in!  And I am thankful to God for my “no alarm clock” Sunday mornings. Please don’t judge 🙂

 

-A cheerful invitation to try the 5 from cheerful people who attend the 5!

M25G: Thank you so much

M25G Loading the Pod

a great team loading ‘the pod’

Restoration, you are such a generous church!

You gave an enormous gift to our province.  Thank you.

You gave an extravagant gift to the 100 folks, who are doing works for justice and mercy, who gathered for a few days in our facility to get to know one another, to experience good teaching, and to worship our Living God.  You made The Matthew 25 Gathering happen and every person I have spoken with has been so positive and so grateful to YOU for what you did.  Thank you, Restoration.

On Monday, a top-notch team of movers and packers put everything in the Kids’ Small Group Rooms and fellowship hall into a pod.  That team was strong AND really good at playing 3-D tetris.

By Tuesday, our little kitchen was FULL of treats.  Thank you for delicious snacks, bountiful fruit, sandwiches, cheese, crackers, and granola bars by the case.  The tent out front was such a cool addition.  We added 150 square feet of heated space!  The musician, Carlos Flores (famous for his RILA gig last fall) set just the right tone as people arrived.  I loved seeing all of the red shirts-  you were ready to pray, to guide, and to extend hospitality.  You.  Were.  Ready.

Thank you.

Wednesday brought a little weather to keep us on our toes.  But we got all of our content pieces in.  We took a cold trip to the Lincoln and MLK memorials.  We had 15 workshops on really helpful topics like ‘rest and soul care’, ‘peace-making as a discipleship practice’, ‘Fund-Raising’, ‘Elder Care’, ‘Immigration Legal Aid’, ‘Anglican Social Teaching’, ‘Caring fo the Physically Vulnerable’,’Centering Prayer’…  (there was even a room dedicated to the caterers so they could prep our delicious dinner.)  Many of the workshops were lead by Restoration members.  Thank you for sharing your expertise and experience.  The M25G participants loved getting to know you.

Wednesday night MANY of you showed up in the midst of awful weather to hear Dr. Vincent Bacote.  He did such a good and winsome job.  We will get the video of his talk up soon and I hope you can hear him if you were not able to join us in person.  The 2 things that most impacted me from his talk were:  1.  The difference between making someone feel ‘welcome’ and making someone feel ‘at home.’  2.  The idea of making ‘Kingdom Gestures’ rather than ‘Triumphant Conclusions.’  Dr. Bacote spoke to us, who live in this Metro DC world, following Jesus, and loving our neighbor.  Really good stuff.  Many thanks to those who came out.

Thursday concluded with Holy Eucharist that was lead by our friend, Rev. Liz Gray, and celebrated by a new friend, Bishop John Mark Zimmerman from the Diocese of the Southwest (he lives in Albuqurque, NM).

Hosting The Matthew 25 Gathering was an ENORMOUS undertaking.  Many people worked for several months to be ready.  The 2020 Gathering will be hosted somewhere else in our province, but the 2019 Gathering was a great success because of your generous hearts, Restoration.  Thank you.  It is an honor to be your pastor and a joy to be your friend.

-David

Rev. Herb Bailey reading MLK's I have a Dream Speech on the steps of the Lincoln.

Rev. Herb Bailey reading MLK’s I have a Dream Speech on the steps of the Lincoln.

 

Words from God that were received by Pray-ers and recorded on sticky notes for participants.

Words from God that were received by Pray-ers and recorded on sticky notes for participants.

Thank you for The M25G!

Dear Restoration,

Thank you.  Thank you for all you have done to be ready for next week’s Matthew 25 Gathering.

I wanted to send a few notes as we enter the countdown to arrival.

  1. A HUMONGOUS thank you to Kathy Kenyon who has been coordinating all of our ‘on-site logistics’.  Thank you to the registration team, the housing team, the hospitality team, the make-sure-everything-is-in-the-welcome-bags team.  You all have been working for months and I am so very grateful.  I love your ideas and I can’t wait to see them implemented.
  2. Thank you to everyone who signed up to bring food, to give on-site hospitality, and to prayWe have a few slots left in each category if you would like to serve and have not signed up yet.  When I first introduced Restoration to The M25Gathering, I stated that,

    ‘We want to host the Gathering participants well.  We will do that through a smooth registration process, vigilant on-site hospitality, and gracious lodging.

    We are ready to do that because of how generously you have responded.  Thank you.  It really is overwhelming.

  3. If you signed up to be on the On-Site Prayer Team or if you would like to pray for the Gathering before it starts:  There will be a special, required training session this Sunday night, after the 5pm service, from 6:30-7:30 in the sanctuary.  If you are on the Prayer Team, we kindly ask that you prioritize this training and attend.
  4. You are invited to attend the Wednesday Night Plenary Session of the Gathering.  It will start at 7:00pm in the sanctuary.  Dr. Vincent Bacote of Wheaton College will present a lecture entitled, ‘A Courageous Public Witness’.  I can’t wait.  I hope that many of you will come and see a bit of The Gathering.  I think you will love it.  This is the only session that is open to the public.  All of the others require a ticket.
  5. If you have questions about the Gathering, we will be updating this page regularly with logistical information that participants and hosts will need.  So feel free to bookmark and come back to it.  You can also call or text the Restoration Clergy Pastoral Emergency Number (on the back of every worship guide) and get me, David, throughout the Gathering.   I will also respond to my normal phone number and you are welcome to use it.

Thank you friends.  I have so appreciated the opportunity to partner with you on this project.

-David

Rhythms of Spiritual Formation: winter

Winter

Winter

I loved starting our new series last week.  This metaphor of seasons as a means to describe the rhythms of spiritual formation has the potential to be so helpful for us.  I love the conversations in our church when we are vulnerable and trying to describe what God is doing in us.  Using the language of ‘seasons’ both allows us to be more descriptive of what is really going on AND it allows us to focus on the goal of our discipleship which is FRUIT and not mere activity.

For example, if I say ‘I am in summer’, it calls to mind a description of God’s work in my life that is much more textured than just, ‘I am fine.’

And if I remember that the work God wants to do in my life is compared to ‘fruit’, then I can be comfortable with the reality that sometimes there are periods of activity AND inactivity-  that all the seasons are necessary for fruit production.  We can’t have the harvest of fall without the inactivity of winter and the planting of spring.

This sermon series comes from the book, Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan.  He writes about growth in a way that has helped me understand some of our apprehension and aversion towards winter:

We have adopted a view of the spiritual life and church growth that is a variation on free-market capitalism.  In capitalism, the economy, in order to be strong, must constantly grow.  A 3% shrinkage in the GDP for 2 or more quarters is a recession.  A 10% shrinkage is a depression.  Three percent.  Governments fly into panic, banks stock the moat, corporations start to implode.  It’s wolves.  It’s bubonic plague.  It’s the sky falling.

Where else is constant growth an unequivocal sign of health?  In human bodies, it’s a sign of obesity or cancer.  Yet we’ve applied the standard of constant growth to our churches and to our spiritual lives.  We applaud every sign of getting bigger, and fret every sign of getting smaller.

This is bizarre.

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It is good to pay attention to numbers and size and growth, but the Kingdom of God often gets measured with different criteria.  We can be always healthy and not always growing.  There are seasons of increase and seasons of quiet.  The Kingdom is different. 

Sometimes you are in winter.

And God is there too.

-David

Praying us into 2019

Praying for you

Every year in January, I take a few days away to pray and to listen.  As I left town on Tuesday this week, I told our staff team, “This is probably the single most important thing that I do as the rector of our church.  Thank you for helping me protect this time.”

Thank you for sending in your prayer longings.  I received well over 130 of them!  It was such a privilege to pray for you.  I loved how you answered the questions:  What brings you joy?  What are you seeking?  What makes you afraid?  The gift to me was the opportunity to get a glimpse into your heart, to hear what God is doing, to join you in the things for which you are longing.  I felt like I got to know each of you who shared a little bit more.  Thank you.  I am so grateful to be your pastor.

I made notes on themes and spent time each morning holding the different situations, struggles, and excitement before the Lord.  I listened for His voice.

I hope that Restoration will be a place:

  • that continues to offer the joy of encouraging relationship and deep friendship
  • that provides resources for those who are seeking-  resolution on doubts, more intimacy with Jesus, direction and calling, faithfulness, clarity on job and vocational direction
  • that comes alongside those who are afraid-  of losing family, losing friends, being lonely, feeling like a failure, being discovered as a fraud, of being overwhelmed by anxiety, of chronic and never-ceasing pain

Amen.  Let it be, Lord.  Joy.  Intimacy.  Hope.

Books

I tend to bring about 35 books with me and end up reading 2 or 3.  It’s hard to know what will connect with me while still in Arlington… so I bring everything that might pique my interest.

This time, I re-read Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald.  Gordon first wrote this in the early 1980s.  It is not earth-shattering in its insights, but I appreciate the connections between his life and mine.  It’s like reading my journal but written by someone else.  And at this stage in my life, my family, and our church, I needed to take some time to re-order and reflect and renew for the next season.  God met me in it.

Sermons

During this annual retreat, I ask God for a years worth of sermons.  I read through parts of the Bible.  I look through books.  I pray through your prayer requests.  I listen.  I imagine where we will be at various points during the year.  I wonder with God what would be good for our congregation to work on during those moments.  I make tables and spreadsheets and sit with calendars.

During the season of Epiphany (now until March 3), I am going to offer a series called ‘The Rhythm of Spiritual Formation’.  It was inspired by an excellent book I read last summer called, Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan.  The premise of the book and my sermons is this:  God is always working to form us to look like Jesus, but sometimes the growth and change is not obvious.  We have seasons in our relationship with God just like the world experiences seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall.  Each week the preacher will describe a season and then follow up with activities that are available to us in that season.  8 weeks.  2 weeks on each season.  I am praying that God uses it to give us understanding, patience, diligence, and trust in the process He is working in us.

The Matthew 25 Gathering

This year I had a unique and additional thing on my mind-  the Matthew 25 Gathering that Restoration is hosting in 5 weeks.  I spent an afternoon praying through the minute by minute schedule, praying for speakers, praying for people to register, and giving thanks for the dozens of Restoration volunteers who are making the Gathering happen.  Thank you.  This will be a gift to the wider church and I believe that God has a blessing for us in it as well.  I can’t wait.

Winter

Departure

In a couple hours I will load up my car and drive to the RestoMen’s retreat at Meadowkirk.  I have been alone for several days and I am excited to engage with these guys whom I love and enjoy so much.  I hope to see a lot of you there and the rest of you on Sunday as I introduce us to the winter of our spiritual formation.

Grace and Peace to you, beloved church.

David

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