Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Jesus, Epworth.............Preacher

    The Hagans were away this past weekend from worship. We drove up to the western edge of North Carolina for the school-holiday weekend. As you can imagine, there was lots of snow, ice, and snowball throwing among the boys in the group. The cabin where we stayed is located more than two miles into a valley of the Cullasaja River and reached only after driving the last two miles on a steep, narrow gravel trail - not fit in some places for horses who surely traveled it years ago. That part was an adventure.
   On Sunday, I was wishing I could be in two places at once. I wanted to be at Epworth to hear my friend, Sara Bankhead, speak on UMW and commitment. I have long appreciated her leadership at Open Door as a Board member and her leadership in the South Georgia Conference.
   On Monday, I received the weekly email that lists all of the new and regular visitors who were in worship at Epworth this week. This really helpful document is compiled from Connection Cards, and direct recollection when visitors don't fill one out, by Suzy Revell and then emailed out to our Church Council. It helps all of us connect names and faces. It does more than that, though. It helps spread out the work of welcoming people to Epworth. We want the ministry of following up with visitors to be a work of the people, not just the pastor or one layperson. 
   Missing out on those visitors made me think through one really important question. It is one all of us should ask; "What do we want to happen when people visit?"
   First, we want people to be able to worship the one true God. The God who made us and loves us and sent Jesus as the way to a better life. This is the stuff of salvation and abundant life; read the Third or Tenth chapter of John's Gospel. But, what is second?
   We want people who visit Epworth to fall in love.
   We want visitors (and members who might have attended for years) to fall in love with Jesus. Then, we want them to fall in love with Epworth as the place to stay in love with Jesus - another way of saying "live out their life as a disciple." Finally, it would be okay for them to like the preacher. It's the order that is important. Jesus is forever. Epworth will be around for a long time. Preachers come and go. I want to stay for years, and I plan to. But, the most important person any visitor will meet on Sundays at Epworth is Jesus. And, Epworth people help make that happen every week.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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