Our tall white steeple and red doors call out to the community that all are welcome to come and feel the love of Christ and the love of our church family. Our worship services are on Sunday at 10:30 a.m. with adult Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. For our youth, we have #OAKZ. Our mission statements are Extending God’s Call – Empowering God’s People – Easing Human Need. We are located at 1576 Chantilly Lane, and our telephone number is 713-682-2556.
On Sunday, February 22nd, following our church service, we will have our first house meeting for New Beginnings. We will have a light lunch first and then break out into our three groups. Our leaders for our house groups are (1) Doris Fox and Susie Fuller, (2) Lorrie Sanwald, and (3) Craig Kramer. We will be having our house meetings every two weeks with Feb. 22nd being our first house meeting. It is at this meeting you will decide which house group you would like to join. With the exception of Feb. 22nd and our sixth house meeting, the three house groups will meet at different times. Doris and Susie will meet at the church following the church service. A light lunch will be served. Lorrie’s house group will meet either morning or afternoon during the week. Craig’s house group is designed for our members and friends who work during the day. So, Craig will meet on a week night. For those of you who would like to attend Lorrie’s group or Craig’s group, you will decide on Sunday, Feb. 22nd, which day you will meet. Each house meeting is designed to last about one hour and forty-five minutes (1:45).
It is so important for each one of you to commit to these six house meetings. These house meetings are NOT ONLY for our members but ALSO for our friends who worship with us on a regular basis. We will be prayerfully deciding the future of OPC, and your voice must be heard!!
Also, on Feb. 22nd, the first Sunday of Lent, Pastor Noelie will be handing out the Lenten devotion booklets entitled “Becoming a Prayer Warrior.” For the Lenten season we are studying prayer, and each Sunday of Lent we will be tackling some of the questions Jesus asks us:
Bell choir practice is from 5:45 – 6:45 on Wednesday nights.
Regular choir practice is from 7 to 8 on Wednesday nights.
Colbie Caillat has written a song entitled “Bubbly,” and it contains this line – “I’ve been asleep for a while now.” This line haunts me, because it reminds me of Oaks Presbyterian Church. Our church has been asleep for a long time, and it is time to wake up. What Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus applies also to us – “Sleepers, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” I agree with Dottie Esccobedo-Frank as she writes in her book Restart Your Church, “Since our period of slumber has been so long and so deep, we are just beginning to wake up and take notice of a few hard realities: (1) We see that the world has changed, and the church has not kept up. (2) We see that many churches are closing, and the empty seats are alarming. (3) We see that we are growing old, even to the precipice of death. (4) We are not keeping up fiscally, numerically, or, most importantly, spiritually. (5) We have become the dead, lifeless body that our original Reformers warned us about. (6) We understand that we are not really making or becoming disciples of Jesus Christ.” I believe it is time for OPC to experience a congregational renewal. A congregational renewal means being the church that Jesus meant us to be.
In their book Pathway to Renewal, Daniel P. Smith and Mary K. Sellon write, “When we assess a congregation’s vitality, we look for three marks of inner health – (1) continual spiritual formation as an essential for everyone rather than an activity pursued by some; (2) relationships among people that embody the kingdom of God, i.e. relationships that are honoring, forgiving, loving, caring, mutual, and growing; (3) a deep, pervasive concern for the temporal and spiritual well-being of those beyond the doors of the church – a concern that manifests in action. These are indicators that the congregation is an embodiment of the biblical concept of church as modeled by the early church in New Testament writings.
We also look for five indicators of decline. These tendencies cripple a congregation. A declining congregation gives itself to (1) growing the church rather than witnessing to faith, i.e. a declining congregation views people outside its doors more in terms of what they can bring to the church than in terms of the life-changing difference the church can make for them; (2) running the church rather than forming disciples; (3) being people-led rather than being Spirit-led, i.e. do not think in terms of turning to God for guidance; (4) participating in mission projects without having a mission; (5) fixing rather than creating. All these factors serve a congregation and contribute to health. However, when these become the primary focus, the congregation is in trouble.
Congregational renewal is possible, but it requires the congregation to work both outwardly and inwardly. Outwardly, there are three phases of work: (1) developing readiness – preparing the leaders to lead the congregation in a new direction; (2) surfacing a compelling congregational vision that will guide decision making; (3) developing and implementing strategies the move the congregation toward the envisioned future.”
On Friday, January 23rd, and Saturday, January 24th, Doris Fox, Susie Fuller, Lorrie Sanwald, and I attended the house leader training for New Beginnings. During our six house meetings, you, the congregation of OPC, will come up with a vision. We will partner with God and implement strategies toward the envisioned future.
The real work of congregational renewal, however, is the inner work. To complete these outer tasks, you must grow spiritually. The body of OPC is renewed as you, the congregation, engage in practices that develop and strengthen the muscles of Christian discipleship and community. Congregational renewal is absolutely a journey of faith. I will expand on each of these phases in the following months.
Our God is in the renewal business. Lean in, let go, and listen. God is calling us to something that could be like heaven on earth. We need one another to whisper words of encouragement as we begin this journey of renewal.
Something to think about and pray about.
In God’s love and joy,