A Sunday Sermon Series for Lent: “Staying in Touch with God”
Now, we are in the season of Lent, a time to return to God, strengthening the connection between us and God. Being in God’s presence, and walking with Jesus, we have guidance, comfort, and direction. Staying in touch with God, we can find a growing, fulfilling spiritual life. So how are we to “stay in touch”? How can we “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” in the midst of our busy lives? Even in a noisy, distracting world, God does not need to be hidden from us…
Feb. 18: Staying in touch with God: HEARING THINGS: Blocking out distracting things and listening well to God.
Mar. 4: Staying in touch with God: FORMING THINGS: God forms and reforms a new heart in us.
Mar. 11: Staying in touch with God: HEALING THINGS: Jesus’ peace comes from healing and wholeness inside.
Mar. 18: Staying in touch with God: TROUBLING THINGS: Jesus’ life and death is a way through suffering.
Mar. 25: Staying in touch with God: CARRYING THINGS: Embracing the promises of God and partnering with Him.
Most of all, this Lent, stay in touch with God and your brothers and sisters in regular weekly worship.
Praying with you,
REPENTANCE FOR THE SAKE OF YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES: How often we hear the word REPENTANCE during Lent! What comes to mind?
- Is it saying sorry to God and promising to give up sin?
- Is it sacrificing something that you especially enjoy?
- Or is it more prayer and worship than usual?
- Perhaps giving to the poor and needy?
Repentance is any and all of these things. And REPENTANCE is always a matter of “changing directions”, moving closer to God and God’s ways.
With CHANGING DIRECTIONS in mind, we are embarking on a Lenten Journey together with St. Paul and Living Lord, taking action to grow younger. This means that we are working more closely with God for the sake of young people and families. We have been consulting with Dr. Andrea (Ceplecci) Hall (see her article entitled “Seeking the Fountain of Youth”), and we have formed a Youth Design Team. As we double our efforts to incorporate young people into our congregations, we need the support of every member.
- Come to St. Paul for the prayer services and “Growing Young” presentations on Lenten Wednesdays Feb. 21 to Mar. 21
- Take an interest in one or two young people by talking to them, asking them about themselves, sharing your story, or a bit of wisdom perhaps.
- PRAY for God’s help that our church will change directions and GROW YOUNG!
(The book called “Growing Young: 6 Essential Strategies” that is the basis for our discussion is written by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin, Baker Books; Grand Rapids, MI, 2016. It is available for about $12.00 through Amazon.)
PRAYING TOGETHER DURING LENT: Our PRAYER EMPHASIS for March is “Growing Young”. Will you pray for youth and young families, especially those in our churches?
WEDNESDAY EVENINGS DURING LENT: Our Worship Committee at St. Paul is preparing a Service of Preaching and Teaching called “Growing Young Presentation and Prayer” (see the article called “Seeking the Fountain of Youth”.) The 7:00 pm prayer service will include song, scripture, prayers, and a key presentation. Come learn and worship! Everyone is also welcome to the Soup Suppers which begin at 6:00 pm each Wednesday.
SEEKING THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: It is no secret that the culture in North America is going through a massive shift, and it is no secret that this shift is having a tremendous impact on the church. With every major denomination (and churches in no denomination at all) in steady decline, churches are wondering about their ability to survive. In particular, churches long to see more young people walk through their doors, but young people today just don’t seem interested, and most churches have no idea where to start. The future seems unsure, at best, and downright depressing, at worst.
Yet amid these grim statistics, there are churches that are beating the odds. That is why the folks at Fuller Theological Seminary decided to research churches that were “growing young” (that is, churches whose average age was decreasing or holding steady). They wanted to determine what, if anything, these churches had in common. Was it denominational affiliation (or lack thereof)? Was it location? A “contemporary” worship service? The size of the congregation? A young, hip pastor?
You might be surprised to learn that they found that none of these factors were particularly significant. In fact, time and again, they found churches of every denomination, size, geographic location, and worship style that were able to grow young. Through their research, the team identified six core commitments that every “growing young” church embodied.
During Wednesdays in Lent, we will continue to examine these commitments in the hopes of sparking some conversation about how we might begin to help young people discover and love our churches. The last three strategies will be discussed as follows:
- March 7 – Fueling a Warm Community
- March 14 – Prioritizing Young People (and Families) Everywhere
- March 21 – Being the Best Neighbors
Please join us at St. Paul on each of these days. We will gather for a soup supper at 6:00 pm and then at 7:00 pm for a worship service where we will explore these themes.
Growing young can be a difficult process. It requires some change and a whole lot of faith to step out and embark on something new. But, it is necessary if the church is going to thrive amid the changing cultural tides. And, more importantly, it is necessary if we want a new generation to know and follow Jesus. While many things have changed, some things have not: Jesus is still the only one who has defeated sin and death, he is still calling his children to follow him, and he is still calling his church to go and make disciples. Join us as we talk about the ways in which we can embrace our role in God’s mission in the world – even if that world is a bit different than the one we used to know. Andrea Ceplecci Hall
(Andrea Ceplecci Hall was baptized, confirmed, and married at St. Paul. She has a Master’s degree in theology from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Educational Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary. She is married to Rev. Dr. Sean Hall, and they live in Greenville, PA, where Sean is the pastor at Hillside Presbyterian Church.)
CELEBRATE GRAND-FAMILIES: “Celebrate Grand-families” is a new support group for grandparents raising their grandchildren. St. Paul is reaching out to support these families with Christian compassion and a place to meet and discuss their needs. We are starting with the group with five families from the community, and more are welcome, if you know of anyone who would fit in. While the women meet, we will have crafts, games, bible stories, snacks, help with homework, tutoring, and a fun social time for children. Church members are needed to help with the children. Sessions in March will be on Saturdays, March 10 and 24, from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm. Please contact Brenda Ceplecci or Pastor Winters to help.