In non-adoption-related news, our church may be heading into an interesting, and likely challenging, time of change. Ours is a unique church in our area, essentially the only evangelical church to maintain a formal/traditional service with a few "high church" elements. We also offer, in our gym, a contemporary service. It is not a large church - we have averaged close to 200 in our traditional service the past few years, which is a dwindling number. And around 100 people attend the contemporary service, which is fairly steady, but perhaps growing a bit. Our sanctuary can easily fit 400, I believe. Being a downtown church, the congregation is eclectic - we have students, lots of elderly folk, single adults, and families, all from various backgrounds culturally, economically, educationally, etc. We are also the home church for most of the large group of Karen (Burmese) refugees who have arrived in our city the past couple of years, and the building is used by a Spanish congregation. Over the past year, an ad hoc committee has been meeting to examine future needs and make recommendations. They believe that at this time we need o consider joining our services, while trying to preserve elements that are core to each. They are proposing an interesting model - one where the core part of the service is quite "neutral" - sermon, scripture, announcements, etc. On either end of the service would be an optional music experience - some hymns and so on before the service, and some band-led praise songs afterward. The logistics of this would be a bit of a challenge, as would considering the place of music throughout the core service. These details have not really been discussed yet, as there needs to be discussion and agreement about moving forward with the general idea first. Anyway, a congregational meeting is coming up in a couple of weeks, and I do hope that we are all able to have a productive discussion together. Anyway, this morning I was reading a blog, and the author had taken this from someone else's blog, and I felt it was fitting, so I have in turn borrowed it for my blog! Here it is:
From, The Peacemaker, by Ken Sande:
"Contrary to what you may have heard, God's highest purpose for you is not to make you comfortable, wealthy, and happy. If you have put your faith in Him, He has something far more wonderful in mind for you ... He plans to conform you to the likeness of His Son. He began to change you the day you yielded yourself to Him, and He will continue this process throughout your life. Conflict is one of the many tools that God can use to help you develop a more Christlike character. To begin with, He may use conflict to remind you of your weaknesses and to encourage you to depend more on Him (2 Cor. 12:7-10). The more you depend on His grace, wisdom, and power, the more you will be imitating the Lord Jesus (Luke 22:41-44).
God may also use conflict to uncover sinful attitudes and habits in your life. Conflict is especially effective in breaking down appearances and revealing stubborn pride, a bitter and unforgiving heart, or a critical tongue. When you are squeezed through controversy and these sinful characteristics are brought to the surface, you will have an opportunity to admit their existence and ask for God's help in overcoming them.
There is more to being like Jesus than simply recognizing weaknesses and confessing sin to grow; you must also practice new attitudes and habits. Just as athletes develop their muscles and skills through strenuous training, you will see greatest growth when you repeatedly think and behave properly in response to challenging circumstances..."