Gratitude is transformational. In community, it is formative.
It is critical to reflect and give testimony to God's faithfulness.
Last Sunday, during worship, I said it was our driving passion to spread a passion for the majesty of God. I went on to share some practical ways to do this. As I laid out a plan of action, I started with the power of a grateful spirit and grateful words.
We know from sad experience that we live in an environment where negativity is rampant, where complaining is commonplace, where criticism is what people give and receive. Talk about passion-killers! Grateful words that come from a genuinely grateful spirit ignite passion. They possess the power to bless people. They hold inherently the power to heal people and unleash them from all that holds them back. They have the power to lighten a heavy load and light up a dark way. They ultimately point the way to the majesty of God.
Afterwards, someone asked me what I was grateful for. Good question. Right question. This question aims to see if the person talking is walking the talk. Among many things, here is what I'm grateful for: I am grateful for the opportunity to be pastor of Upper Room Community Church. The comment is genuine. It also needs some detail so you can see what I see. So, here it goes, 10 reasons I am grateful God has called me to pastor this community of faith:
I am grateful for the team of elders I get to serve with right now: Frank Garrett, Dennis Metteer and Jeff Allgeier. The four of us are well on our way to becoming a band of brothers. Trust is high and growing. Wisdom, emotional maturity, spiritual maturity, stability and commitment to this church are all highly visible.
I am grateful for the prayer ministry in this church. Praise and Prayer, Sunday community prayer, prayer quilts and weekly prayer blasts are exceptional. I am constantly struck by how many people seek prayer and how many people are willing to pray transparently, openly and without ceasing for others. A longtime member told me the other day that in her opinion, this is what differentiates our church from any other church. I love this.
I am grateful for the spirit of worship in our church. Many times it's off the charts. I am struck by the spirit of flexibility in worship. More and more we are just wanting to experience worship and are seldom attempting to control or judge worship.
I am grateful for the spirit of trust that is enveloping our church community right now. It is apparent that the congregation trusts me, giving me freedom to be myself. It is also true that I am trusting the congregation, giving them freedom to use their gifts where and how God has designed them.
I am grateful for the interest in Christian doctrine. We are living in an unprecedented time theologically. There are many faith and doctrinal options available to God-seekers today. There are many revisionists who are offering amended versions of the old gospel. While relevancy is demanded, revising the faith itself is crazy-making and distorting the faith. It has been incredibly gratifying to be in a community of faith where everyone is wanting to be equipped to understand the foundational realities of Christianity so they can genuinely think Christianly about life and culture.
I am grateful for the new shepherding ministry that we launched this past summer. About a dozen men and women are leaning into our church community, assisting me in caring for our church family. It's working. One person recently told me: "I have never felt such a part of a church as here in the Upper Room." Way to go, Frank Garrett, Dennis and Jill Metteer, Jeff and Marianne Allgeier, Rich and Mary Goss. Gerry and Marcia Old, Greg and Jennifer Leard.
I am grateful for the increased giving that has made it possible for us to upgrade children's curriculum. It has re-energized leaders and teachers. Children are having a high quality experience as a result. Lorri does an exceptional job leading this ministry and we have the BEST teachers: Nathan and Charity, Sandy, Linda, Bob
I am grateful for the increased giving that made it possible for us to upgrade monitors in the worship center, increasing the experience of every person in worship. I really appreciate Clark Cothern who doesn't just put in his time, but is constantly thinking about how to create a more engaging and God-honoring worship experience.
I am grateful for the men and women who make it possible for Sunday to happen. Their commitment to ushering, greeting, cleaning, setting up, running media equipment, copying brochures, setting up communion, putting out signage is incredle!
I am grateful for the way we use the word, "and" instead of the words, "either/or/" Because of this we have heart for God AND for people. We have passion for doctrine AND justice. You cam participate in a class on core realities of faith AND internet safety. You can pray AND dig a well in El Salvador. You can sing of God's greatness AND collect bags of groceries for the hungry. You can give offerings AND take a Financial Peace University class.
Am I fired up about this little part of God's big church? Absolutely! I don't know if we'll have better days or harder days in the future. All I know is right now it is a sweet thing to be able to be pastor of Upper Room Community Church.