I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. Ps. 69:30

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THE DASHWe are continuing with the sermon series, “The Dash” and learning more about the life of Jesus with every sermon.  Adult FUN Groups following worship are engaging in meaningful discussion and sharing on how they have viewed the life of Christ in the past, and how new insights in the life of Jesus is changing their daily Spiritual Walk. We invite you to join us Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, for “The Dash: How Jesus lived and what it means for you.”

The Year of Deep Roots Groundbreaking to Building Dedication (2015-2016)  “The Year of Deep Roots” is a time of exciting change and growth for FPC. As we transition from one building to another we will experience many opportunities and challenges. Here are just a few of the opportunities we will have: worship in new and different ways during our “homeless” period, being a part of a historic moment in the life of our church and community, picking new places to sit in the sanctuary, continuing our gifts to the building fund, and telling people in our “burgs” about the way God has used a “bricks and boards” project to transform our hearts and minds for Him. As you can see, some of these opportunities are light-hearted and fun while others are more significant. In the same way, some of our challenges will be small and others large. From the annoyances of torn up sidewalks and lack of classrooms to the grief many will feel when the final brick falls on the old building, we must follow the words of Ephesians 4:3 and “be completely humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love.” Some challenges will be expected; others will be unexpected. Some will be easily conquered while others will require much perseverance and faith to overcome.

The most important challenge we face is also our biggest opportunity. We must continue to grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus. This is the challenge of every disciple. “The Year of Deep Roots” is a tremendous opportunity to meet that challenge. Spiritual growth comes from a combination of three factors: 1.) the work of God, 2.) our response to that work, and 3.) our pursuit of God Himself. Our church has become proficient at recognizing the work of God. We call these moments of recognition God Sightings. We’ve also, by the Lord’s grace, developed in our ability to respond to His work. We sensed Him moving through the capital campaign. Each of us responded in obedience, and He worked a miracle. The Lord has brought us to a place where we can now focus on the third aspect of spiritual growth, pursuing Him.

By His providence, God has prepared us for this moment. He has readied us to sink our roots deeper in Him by pruning us over the past year. We were pruned through the capital campaign, as God taught us that self-discipline and sacrifice lead to abundant, joyful life. We were pruned of our own agendas and preconceived ideas regarding the old building, learning in the process that the Lord’s ways really are above our ways. We were pruned of negativity that distracted us from our true mission to build the kingdom of God. The Lord has even pruned the church calendar of many activities that would typically keep us “too busy to pray.” Since we can’t predict when spaces in either the old or new buildings will be available, we must keep our ministry programming light and flexible.

All of this pruning has, in some respects, left us looking like an exposed, stick-like tree that has had many branches cut off of it. But as with a heavily pruned tree, our life is only getting healthier. Deep below the surface, where eyes cannot see, our roots are grabbing nutrients and sucking up the living water of Christ. Since they no longer have to use energy to pump nourishment into the pruned branches, they are growing deeper and stronger. Soon they will pour life into the new shoots that will burst forth in our spiritual springtime.

But, our spiritual spring is not yet here. Our pruning has only just ended. Now is “The Year of Deep Roots.” This means we have more opportunity to get back to the basics of spending time with the Lord through study of His Word, prayer and other forms of spiritual disciplines. When the new building is complete, we will undoubtedly explore many fresh ideas for ways we can use it to share Christ with new people and strengthen the church. This will bring much activity. That will be “The Year of New Shoots.” But for now, the Master Gardner has ordained an opportunity to cultivate our spiritual roots so that they grow even deeper in Him. New shoots cannot be sustained without deep roots. Here’s how we cultivate:

Cultivating our roots:

  •  “The Life & Ministry of the Messiah” – an in-depth adult Sunday School class about the life of Jesus. (Summer 2015)
  • “God: As He Longs for You to See Him” – a sermon-series about the characteristics of God. (Summer 2015)
  • Church-wide Daily Devotional – Created through the submissions of 40+ church members, this 8-week guide will help keep us connected to Christ and one another during the period of time when we are without a building. (Late summer/early fall 2015)
  • Alternative worship – Worship is the act of giving ourselves to God. Worshipping in different ways often stretches us beyond the familiar and puts us in a place where the Lord refreshes our relationship with Him and renews our spirit. Worshipping in creative and alternative ways during our “homeless” period will open us to this opportunity. (Late summer/early fall 2015)
  • “Roots and Shoots” Groups – matching of 3 families/households from 3 generations to meet 3 times over the course of 6 months for the purpose of deepening our relational roots before tending to a crop of new shoots. (June-Dec. 2015)
  • “Renovation of the Church” – Session will engage in a 4 session study of this book.
    “Renovation of the Church” chronicles the journey of one congregation which transitioned from being a self-centered and consumer-driven group (which means they approached church from the standpoint of “What do I what? What am I getting out of this?”) to a Christ-centered, other-driven congregation (which means they began to put the Lord’s will and the needs of others before their own preferences) through the process of spiritual formation. Any other adults or youth who want to join Session in this study will be invited to do so. (June, July, August, September 2015)
  • Youth Confirmation – for all youth, grades 7 and up, who have not been through the Confirmation process. (Late fall/early winter 2015)
  • Formational Prayer – is a process that encourages deep emotional and spiritual healing through a specialized form of prayer and group support. (Late fall/early winter 2015)
  •  “Celebration of Discipline” – This classic work by Richard Foster lends itself to 12-week church-wide exploration (via adult small groups and a sermon-series) of the practices that can help ordinary people become extra-ordinary followers of Christ.  (To Be Determined)
  • Spiritual Retreat – Growing in a relationship with the Lord requires periods of retreat where we pull away from the typical distractions of our lives in order to be with Him and listen to His voice. A guided, weekend retreat for adults will be offered at some point during “The Year of Deep Roots.” 

Key verses:

  • “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord…. But blessed is the one who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.” (Jer. 17:5, 8)
  • “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful….Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-2, 4)

 The Year of New Shoots  Building Dedication to the One Year Anniversary of the Dedication (2016-2017)

Living things grow and reproduce. This is both a scientific and spiritual law. Deep roots produce new shoots. With healthy roots and space for growth, we expect the Holy Spirit to draw 100 new people to our church within 5 years. Like The Year of “Deep Roots,” The Year of “New Shoots” will be a time of exciting change and growth for FPC with its own set of opportunities and challenges.

We will have the opportunity to introduce our new facility to Fredericksburg. We want it to be as important to the town’s future as it is to ours. We will be able to host events for the community and plan our own ministries without the physical limitations of the past. We will have the joy of extending hospitality to guests who will visit our church out of curiosity about the new work God is doing.

These opportunities mean that we will also have the wonderful challenge of sharing our faith with newcomers. We will need to develop a simple, clear process for helping people become committed disciples of Christ. We will also need to deal with the way our new building influences both our operations and our identity. We trust that it will have a positive impact on each, but we can’t fully know how it will change us. We have taken the step of faith to construct a new building because we know God has led us to this task and we believe it will be fruitful for the church. Still, we must accept that our congregation, as we know it, will never be the same again. There will be new faces and a new place to worship. A new building will open us up to possibilities we have never before considered, but we must be careful to retain the aspects of our church’s identity which make us the unique congregation God has called us to be. He has given us a special personality, gifts and resources—especially the new building—to perfectly equip us to reach the people in our “burgs” and the people of Fredericksburg.

As we graft these “new shoots” into our church, we must help them learn how to bear fruit for the Lord. This is disciple-making. We must always remember that the purpose of the new building is not to put more people in the pews; it’s to be a tool for our disciple-making mission. Another way to say “deep roots produce new shoots” is “deep disciples produce new disciples.” This is the heart of our mission as followers of Jesus. A lyric from a Casting Crowns song says of the church, “It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive!” We thrive by tending to our new shoots.

Tending our shoots:

  • Church-wide training regarding the integration of newcomers into the life of our congregation. Relationships are the glue of the church. Connecting people through relationships takes grace, hospitality, and forethought. This training will help members understand what it’s like for someone to worship with us for the first time and learn simple ways that they can help integrate newcomers into our congregation.
  • Simplify our outreach and adult discipleship ministries so that we do a better job of making disciples. “Disciples are made, not born.” This statement emphasizes the fact that people do not become followers of Jesus by being born to Christian parents or attending church all their lives. Following Jesus is a proactive, lifestyle choice. Churches which are most effective at making disciples coordinate their outreach and adult discipleship (education) programs with a two-step approach. First, they reach non-churched or de-churched people. Second, they teach the newcomers how to model their lives after Christ. We need to do this with a singular focus and simple process so that it is clear how people can become followers of Jesus and deepen their walks with Him through participation in the life of our church.
  • Assess our programming and staffing needs for children and youth
  • Other strategies to be determined as the need arises

Key verses:

  • “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer. 17:8)
  • “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing….This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:5, 8)
  • “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20a)

Our prayer:

  • “Creator God, garden our lives—turn them over, cultivate them and make them ready for seeds of Your kingdom to take root. In quiet darkness let the Spirit do His work, slow but powerful, stirring up life in our hearts, increasing joy, strengthening all Your graces until shoots of new life rise and good fruit bursts forth on the branches of our lives, lives beautiful for You and a blessing to our burgs. AMEN”

(adapted from “Seeking God’s Face, p. 403)