"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Everyday they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
The church council acted in an amazing way in May of last year. Gathered together in the yourh, thinking about all the positive changes in the past few years and seeing the influx of many new people coming into the church, we asked out loud, is the Lord adding to our number daily those who are being saved? How do we open ourselves to receiving those whom God is adding to our number?
We have seen great numbers of people coming into Gethsemane looking for food, meals, help with children and employment. We have watched with wonder how someone coming into the church looking for help turns into a volunteer who helps others. Neighbors are getting to know neighbors. We are beginning to recognize the children on our blocks and behold with great joy how successful they are in bringing their parents in tow. And now Gethsemane is beginning to be known as THAT church. Or in the words of a neighbor, "The big footprint for a little church church."
And as people who came to us asking for food now ask us to be fed on the word of God, we find ourselves as a congregation in the exciting position of walking more intimately with our community in the formation of a relationship between God's people and the God who loves us so in Jesus Christ. Beyond loaves of bread and bags of groceries, we now have an opportunity to engage with our neighbors in an even more meaningful way. We have an opportunity to talk with our community about God who loves us more than we can imagine, gives us more than we need, and awakens us to a richness of life beyond our awareness.
We are now a year into our 3 to 100 campaign, an initiative that boldly claims that God is bringing people not only for food and help, but also to become disciples. The council leadership believes that in three years we can grow our worshiping community to an average weekly attendance of 100! And if the past few weeks have been any indication, we are moving boldly toward that number.
This initiative will require the efforts of all our current disciples working together to reshape our worship life and community. Now we will want to add more Bible studies and small groups. Build our music and worship leadership. And we continue to commit to being more intentionally hospitable, welcoming, and nurturing to those whom God is bringing us to participate in the life of God's mission on our blocks.
All while praying for God's providence and generosity in keeping our doors open...