In my lifetime I've been blessed to be a part of several different churches, including Baptist, Episcopalian, United Church of Christ, and now Lutheran congregations. Greenvine reminds me of the Baptist church I started out in, singing next to my grandpa in a country church where I knew in my bones I belonged. Greenvine reminds me of my first Episcopal church where children abounded and were treasured. Greenvine reminds me of the UCC where questions are encouraged and where people can agree to disagree on many things as long as they are committed to being friends. And of course Greenvine reminds me of other Lutheran churches with it's distinct heritage and commitment to preaching the grace of God's love.
And yet, there is still something truly unique about Greenvine Emmanuel Lutheran Church I've not experienced anywhere else before. We are able to try new things without forsaking our past. We are growing in our faith in small groups like I've never seen. We are growing in number despite being hidden away in a small, rural community in a time when church participation is on the decline. You can't even see us when you drive through Greenvine, we're so hidden away. (We are the church behind the church across from the Green Door.) And in a day and age when many churches are painfully focused on things that divide them, causing a lot of heartache and grief, we are remarkably unanimous and unaffected by the issues that are plaguing many other congregations.
It begs the question: why? To some degree, it is a mystery to me. But I can point to three things that I think are great gifts we have received.
1. Relationships matter here. People truly do care about each other. Our relationships with our brothers and sisters in the faith is not something we are willing to sacrifice. This is true not only for other people in our church family, but this extends to our relationships with people in other area churches too. We are doing a lot of ministry in partnership, seeing other churches as collaborators, not competitors.
2. We are focused on Christ's mission. Some churches just exist to keep floating along. We are actively rowing in one direction together with a clear belief that we are going somewhere. We stay focused on our mission to be devoted in worship, excel in education by forming people as disciples of Jesus Christ, and we are outwardly focused doing more work in the community than any church our size I have ever heard of.
3. God is here. God's Holy Spirit is in these people and this place. We still make mistakes and some days are better than others. But the overall sense that God is helping things happen here is unmistakeable. Things just click here in an unexplainable way. I seek to be a good leader of a great group of people. But what is happening is beyond my doing or even our doing together. It is happening because God is helping it happen. That is an exciting thing to be a part of.
I don't know why you have come to our website or why you have taken the time to read this reflection. We are honored that you have. We want you to worship with us this Sunday and make us your church family, not so we can see our "numbers" increase, but because we want you to share in the same joy we do in this place. If you have any questions at all, please contact me using our Contact page.
See you this Sunday.
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