5 Practices of Fruitful Congregations

May 2017

This month our Five Practices team focused on passionate worship.
We were reminded that we do not worship to observe or evaluate but to
receive what God offers to offer our best response.

Here is what Robert Schnase offers as a devotion to begin the session on
Passionate Worship. (Taken from Cultivating Fruitfulness)

“Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” (Exodus 8:1)

Understanding the meaning of worship requires looking beyond what
people do to see with the eyes of faith what God does. God uses worship
to transform lives, heal wounded souls, renew hope, shape decisions,
provoke change, inspire compassion, and bind people to one another. We
don’t attend worship to squeeze God into our lives; we seek to meld our
lives into God’s. It’s a time to think less about ourselves and more about
faith, less about personal agendas and more about God’s will. We
encounter a fresh vision of God’s reality in Christ so that God’s Spirit can
reshape our lives and form us into the body of Christ.

Worship breathes life into the community of Christ’s followers, forms
identity, and provides a place of common learning about faith and listening
to God. People express love for God, serve God, and experience God’s
gracious love offered freely. Worship forms communities, shapes souls,
corrects self-interest, and binds people to each other and to God. God
reaches out to us through worship whether worship is conducted in
traditional and ancient forms or in services marked with extraordinary
spontaneity. God speaks to us in beautiful sanctuaries and simple
buildings, in storefront gathering places and chapels, outdoors under the
open sky, and in homes. In every imaginable setting, through worship,
people seek to connect with God, allow God’s Word to shape them, and
offer their response of faith. God’s spirit changes us through worship.

What is your earliest memory of worship?

What made it memorable or positive?

Who was with you?

Where were you?

What did you learn?

April 2017

At the time this is printed we will have met to complete our session on Radical Hospitality.  Pastor spoke about hospitality in worship on March 12.

I’ll share hospitality reflection from Cultivating Faithfulness (a companion book to the Five Practices materials) by Robert Schnase.

Sometimes members forget that churches offer something people need. What do people need that congregations have to offer?  How do we express with integrity and clarity what we hope to others receive?  What do people need from the church?

People need to know that God loves them, that they are of supreme value, and that their life has significance.  People need to know that they are not alone; that when they face life’s difficulties, they are surrounded by a community of grace; and that they do not have to figure out entirely themselves how to cope with family tensions, self-doubts, periods of despair, economic reversal, and the temptations that hurt themselves and others.  People need to know that peace runs deeper than an absence of conflict, the hope that sustains them even through the most painful periods of grief, the sense of belonging that blesses them and stretches them and lifts them out of their own preoccupations.  People need to learn how to offer and accept forgiveness and how to serve and be served.  As a school for love, the church becomes a congregation where people learn from one another how to love.  People need to know that life is not having something to live on, but to live for, that life comes not from taking for oneself but by giving of oneself.  People need a sustaining sense of purpose.

How is your life enriched by being a follower of Christ?

What have you received by being a part of this community of faith?

 Challenge:  With a family member or friends, share your thoughts about these questions:
Why do people need Christ?

Why do people need the church?

Why do people need our church?

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