This Sunday morning you will notice a couple differences in our worship assembly.
For the next couple months at least I will typically do the welcome and share a Scripture as a Call to Worship each Sunday. We will still have one of our shepherds be the Receiving Shepherd who will minister to any who respond publicly and lead a prayer for them or for our church family or other special needs.
Starting Sunday we will also have several of our shepherds in the back of the auditorium or in the foyer or office area to meet with anyone who wishes to speak to one or more of our shepherds in a more private, one-to-one setting. For those who are interested in placing membership or have a question about the church, or who have a benevolence need or some other special need or prayer request that they would like to have help with or prayer for but do not wish to bring before the whole congregation, you will be given this opportunity. Simply go to the back entrance of the auditorium during the invitation song and get with one or more of our shepherds and let them know what your need is.
Occasionally after a sermon someone says something to me like, “I hope you aren’t disappointed that no one responded today. That was a great lesson and I just can’t believe no one came forward.” Just so you know, I have never based the quality or faithfulness or effectiveness of my preaching solely on public responses. As Paul said I recognize I am simply only one part of the process and that God will give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:5-11). I receive a lot of encouragement from this church family after nearly every single message and at other times as well. I am grateful and humbled for the way the Lord has used me through the years to help people mature in the faith and develop a closer relationship with the Savior.
However, I do believe very strongly that the idea behind the church is that we do not and cannot face the struggles of this life alone. Scripture tells us to encourage one another (Hebrews 3:12-14; 10:19-25), and to pray for each other (James 5:13-16). I appreciate very much our shepherds and their commitment to shepherding. I hope that each of us will take advantage of this important blessing whenever the need arises, and that all of us will be committed to encouraging and praying for one another.