Tracy Talks VI

I posted a link to a podcast on the church’s Facebook page recently. If you don’t follow the
church on Facebook or didn’t get to listen to the podcast yet, here is the link: Thom Rainer is the host.
(You might remember his name from the book Autopsy of a Deceased Church that you studied
with Pastor Nik.) Thom Rainer and his guest Jonathan Howe talk about a community-focused
church and what its characteristics are. They say the nine characteristics are: reaches out to
the community leaders, intentionally are where the people are, frequent restaurants and coffee
houses in the community, help the community where they say they need it, are evangelistic,
are invitational and are involved in civic groups, political meetings and schools.
A friend shared this podcast last week. This podcast reinforces what we’re currently doing.
We’re shifting our focus outward. This month, the Elders and Board are doing community
interviews to ask: where do you need help? They’re interviewing civic leaders, public officials
and servants, and school leaders. We were evangelistic and invitational at the Rummage Sale
this weekend. You’re frequenting restaurants and coffee shops with me. We’re involved in
Rotary and Kiwanis. We’re doing all these things that Thom and Jonathan suggest are the
things that a community-focused church does. And, Jonathan says community-focused
churches are the churches of the future.

I’m very excited about the progress we’re making in discerning God’s vision. I hear excitement
and wonderful ideas from the Elders and Board as they share with me the conversations
they’ve had with community leaders. I can’t wait to share with you the outcome of the work
they’re doing. We still have some community leaders I’d like for us to interview that no one
has signed up to chat with. If you’re interested in helping with this step, please let me know.
I’ve got questions to guide the conversation. You can call or e-mail the person. It’s really easy
and inspiring.
In the coming weeks, please pray that God reveal through these conversations the work He is
calling us to do.

Tracy Talks V

When I was visiting my family last weekend, my niece wanted me to come visit her at
work. She wanted me to see where she works and meet some of the people. She works at a
hotel with extended stay rooms. Many of the hotel’s clients stay for long periods while working
on a job assignment.
I met one of the guests Lazarus when I went to visit my niece. Lazarus is a Puerto Rican from
Miami who is staying at the hotel for the summer. He found a good contract job in the area
that will last several months. I spent some time talking to Lazarus about faith, work and
Lazarus shared with me a story of his mother’s faith. While pregnant with him, his mother’s
doctor told her he had died. Lazarus said it was common for women at that time in that area to
be told their babies had died. Lazarus’ mother believed in the promise of life more than her
doctor. She walked to another hospital to deliver her son. He was born a healthy baby boy
and his mother named him Lazarus for God had raised him from the dead. She had been told
he was dead but was born alive and well. Lazarus said there were many men his age named
Lazarus because their mothers had experienced the same thing. Their sons too had been
raised from the dead.

Our God is a God who offers new life to the dead and hope to the hopeless. I love to share
stories of people I meet who remind me of God’s goodness and love. I hope Lazarus’ story
brings you hope.

Tracy Talks IV

Walmart bags. Kroger bags. Meijer bags. It depends where you shop as to what you call
them. In my house, they’re Walmart bags regardless of the store from where they came.
Others call them Kroger bags regardless of the store from where they came. Whatever you
call them, we need them for the rummage sale. Please bring your bags this Sunday to church
to donate to the rummage sale. The hope is we’ll use lots of bags as shoppers tote away lots
of treasures.

Thank you all for your donations to the rummage sale. Please continue to bring them through
Friday, August 4th. If you are unable to bring them on a Sunday morning, please feel free to
contact me to make arrangements to bring them to the church at a time that is convenient to
you. There are forms in the bottom middle mailbox on the mailboxes hanging on the wall
outside the office for you to document your donations for tax purposes. The Salvation Army
and Goodwill websites have suggested amounts to claim per item.
There are sign-up sheets in the Narthex for you to volunteer to help during the hours and in the
manner you are able and available. We need helpers on Friday night to set up and Saturday
to assist shoppers. We need baked goods for the bake sale – we’re still working out when you
can bring those to the church.
The Hannah Circle has decided how they would like to use the funds raised. Fifty percent will
go to mission projects or organizations supported by the CWF circles. The other 50% will be
reserved for a fellowship event for the congregation. There are a couple ideas in the works for
that event. The hope is that we will not only raise funds for mission, but we’ll also raise
awareness of the church in the community.
Thank you to the Hannah Circle for organizing this event. Thank you for all the ways you are
all helping.

Tracy Talk III

I’m not a patient person. I want to do what I want to do now or go where I want to go quickly. I
want to skip the work or drive it takes to get there or reach my goal. For a few years, I’ve
wanted to take up running. I have lots of friends that run and I want to run a 5k. I can walk a
5k, that’s something, but I want to run it in under 30 minutes. The problem is I think I should
just be able to get off the couch and run a 5k this Saturday morning. I don’t want to put in the
work to train to become a runner. I just want to run like my friend who runs at least 10 miles a
day. (I’d probably hate running, because I’d want to reach my destination, not enjoy the run.)
This journey we’re on to discern God’s vision may, at some point, seem like its taking too long.
Or, you may feel like we should just start doing stuff. We have a lot of great ideas and we
want to start doing them. But, like becoming a marathon runner, we have to prepare for
ministry. We have to take the steps, do the work, of discerning what work God is calling us to
do. There are lots of great services we could offer or projects to do, but we have to discern
what it is God is asking us to do. Not all work is for us. We can’t fulfill someone else’s calling.
God will equip us to do the work He calls us to do.
I’ve attached the summary of the demographic study that the Board and Elders reviewed last
night so that you know what they are working on. Enjoy this period of discernment. Pray for
the leaders of the church to be faithful in their work. Pray that God give you vision and
wisdom. Find joy in this journey.

Tracy Talk II

I love to go for a long drive on a sunny day. There is something relaxing about the open road
listening to my favorite music on the radio with the sun roof open. I love to drive to clear my
head or to think, sing and pray. I have an idea of where I want to end up. When I set out, I
usually have a destination in mind.
When I get in the car and have in mind going someplace, I need to know how to get there. I
may have already been there so I know the way or am familiar with the area. If I’m going
someplace unfamiliar, I use my GPS. Sometimes people try to give me directions, but I don’t
follow directions well. Too many details about turns or the mention of east and west and my
eyes glaze over. It’s easier for me to just use the GPS. I love my GPS to get where I’m going.
Proverbs 29: 18 says:
(Common English Bible) When there’s no vision, the people get out of control, but whoever
obeys instructions is happy.

(King James Version) Where there is no vision, the people perish, but happy is he who keeps
the Law.
(God’s Word Bible) Without prophetic vision people run wild, but blessed are those who follow
God’s teachings.
Probably my favorite rendering of the Scripture is the Message Bible:
If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; but when they attend
to what he reveals, they are most blessed.
Similar to a car, the church needs to know where it’s going and how to get there. Proverbs 29:
18 says that without God’s vision the people don’t know where they’re going, but happy is the
one who follows God. I said Sunday in the sermon that we’re going to begin a prayerful
process of discerning where God wants us to go and how we can get there – or how we can
see what God is doing and attend to what he reveals.

Tracy Talk I

Don’t forget we have a congregational meeting on Sunday following worship. There is
important work for the church to do to prepare for the coming new fiscal year. You’ll elect new
Officers, Elders and Deacons. You’ll approve a new budget and receive the annual reports.
I’d like to thank all the leaders of the congregation who will be elected on Sunday, who will
complete their service at the end of the month and those who continue to serve. Your
commitment to the church and your willingness to employ your gifts for the building up of this
body of Christ is appreciated.

First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)