A Prodigal Church
Well, I hope it’s safe to say that spring has officially sprung in Oregon! My family has been so delighted to experience our first “winter” here. Mostly, Rachel keeps saying how happy she is that she didn’t have to endure the record snowfall in Michigan this year! Spring brings new life, new growth and so much hope. I am very thankful for our new church family and the strong friendships that have already formed. On behalf of my family, thank you for your kindness and fully embracing us.
Last weekend, when we introduced our new UN I PRODIGAL series, we learned that one definition of prodigal is “extravagantly wasteful,” and I appreciate you letting me be vulnerable as I shared my story of making a wild decision at a young age and how that impacted me financially. I’ve been encouraged by your authenticity as you have shared your stories of wasting God’s gifts of time, talent and treasure. It’s so reassuring to know that God welcomes us back with open arms, regardless of some of the poor decisions we’ve made.
On the flip side, the father demonstrated his love, forgiveness and compassion toward his lost son through his reckless, extravagant spending. The elder brother certainly thought the father’s extravagant spending on the lost son was reckless in a wasteful way; however, Jesus illustrates how the father’s response is an accurate picture of God’s grace and reckless love.
UN | PRODIGAL also began the conversation surrounding the alarming statistic that nearly 40% of those age 18-30 are leaving the church and faith throughout the nation.
Church leaders from around the country are praying and asking what churches can do to more effectively reach every generation. Over the last seven months, we thirteen elders have prayed, researched, and sharpened one another in how we are to keep all those whom the Lord has given us, while at the same time, making necessary changes to reach the generation who is leaving the church more quickly than ever before.
Change can be difficult; however, we want to reassure you that we will not compromise teaching the truth of God’s Word. We will never dilute the Gospel.
Like the prodigal father, we will not give up on those who are leaving the church. Jesus shared with us how the shepherd left the ninety-nine to go after the one stray sheep. At times, our preferences must be lessened in order to obey the Lord’s calling to reach people from every generation. We want to engage their hearts and draw them in, so they can hear and receive God’s truth. Let’s pray that the Lord brings many prodigals home, and let’s welcome them home without judgment and with great celebration.
There are many blessings from God to celebrate, but let me share a couple. Our 2018 Easter service saw some of our largest attendance ever with over 4300 total attendees that were able to experience the love of Christ through our five services and events. This was an increase of 630 people from our attendance in 2017!
We also hosted a couple of events –“Reconnect Marriage” in February and “Parenting Without Fear” in April – both of which were inaugural endeavors that launched a whole series that will be happening throughout the year to help promote marriage, family, and community. Together, these events brought nearly 1,200 people through our doors and showed us how Jesus could look real in our homes and provided fun, friendship and laughter.
We are thanking our Lord for a wonderful church family who hungers for God’s Word as we multiply disciples who are creatively reaching people for Christ both locally and globally.