Strength in a church and in each of us as believers is measured by spiritual vitality. A church cannot be strong, thriving, and fruitful unless God is present and moving. For years the pastors of Grace have begged God for spiritual vitality, for fruit that endures. We beg God to fill our church with lives unmistakably changed by Jesus Christ. God answering those desperate prayers is what makes a church strong. Father’s Day 2016 at Grace proved to be an illustration of our latest sermon series, “Strong Church.”
Father’s Day was what it should be: a day to commit. A strong church requires committed men. That’s why Father’s Day was also Commitment Sunday at Grace: the day we came together to pledge toward the Gateway to Grace Campaign. Expanded parking, new entrances, drainage, landscaping, etc., are all part of an effort to make our campus an attractive destination in our community. But our heart is not for people to be drawn to a facility. We want them to come because the Lord is drawing them to Himself and they know they will find Him here.
We are giving our lives to aggressively following Christ as He builds His church. We don’t believe His mission is accomplished by just expanding a campus. Physical construction is never our goal. Seeing people come to Christ and build their lives on God’s Word is. That’s what happens when God produces spiritual vitality in our midst.
What does spiritual vitality look like in a church? Below are some marks of a strong church that we witnessed Father’s Day:
Active older members. They haven’t checked out of their church as it seeks to reach younger generations. Just the opposite. They are doing whatever they can to serve the Lord in their church. J.D. Barrett (91) had a hand in relocating Grace to our current home at 238 Vine St., Batavia, in 1972. That was 44 years ago. J.D. began the service on the piano.
Authentically godly leadership. Father’s Day also marked Pastor Shirk’s 60th birthday. He leads with more clarity, conviction, and charisma than ever before. People respond to leaders they respect and whose lives they can follow. Some leaders are in it for themselves, to build their own kingdom. Pastor Shirk leads us in building God’s kingdom.
Men who sacrifice and serve. We celebrated some key men on Father’s Day who play a significant role in the ministry of Grace. Joe Gassaway leads our greeting ministry. People commonly remark how welcome they feel when they arrive at Grace. Two words: Joe Gassaway.
Jon Mott, Jim Ladley, Paul Meloon, and Dave Yuhnke have cared for our behind-the-scenes audio/visual needs for years. They serve tirelessly and without complaint. They are also phenomenal dads.
Don Childs served as treasurer for 25 years and is a current trustee. He gave a testimony of God’s faithfulness through these many years and his desire for younger generations to reap the benefits of our sacrifices and be positioned on the front lines of faith along with us.
Bob Greathouse, as our chairman of trustees, closed the service by announcing the Gateway to Grace Campaign commitment total. $150,000 was needed. God made a vision reality with $155,715 in pledges.
Youth who serve. Young people are learning that church isn’t about them. The what’s-in-it-for-me attitude is shifting to a what-can-I-do approach. They recognize they are not just the church of the future but the church of the present. And how they live and serve right now in their youth matters for eternity. Several teens participated in the service via special music and distributing campaign commitment cards. Thank you Nate Grammatico, Sam Bartz, Isaac Ladley, Lindsay Ladley, Bailey Faucett, Brandon Faucett, Hannah Scarborough, Karissa Kesler and Eric Stroud. Keep up the great work serving the Lord!
Blended generations. Older people are investing in younger people. As they serve, they are inviting the younger to serve along with them. Mike Grammatico and his grandson, Nate, treated us to a stirring saxophone duet. Denny Morrill participated in the trumpet trio along with Pastor Shirk and Brandon Ricci. Kenn Fillion led in prayer before the teens collected commitment cards.
A heart for outreach. How do you know if a church has a heart for outreach? Easy. If its people are doing it. If they’re doing it, then they don’t need the church to convince them to reach out. They don’t depend on the church to program outreach and then use it as an excuse to avoid personal evangelism. People with a heart for the lost not only engage personal evangelism, they give to it too. They put their money where their mouth is. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”
Thank you, Grace family, for generously engaging the vision for Gateway to Grace!
This coming Sunday is Firstfruits Sunday and our first opportunity to give toward our campaign commitments.