28 July 2021
This morning I had the incredible blessing to see many of our Youth off as they embarked for the “Impact” festival which is held over a five-day period at Camp Green Hills in Alexandria, PA.
“The Impact festival combines powerful praise and worship sessions, challenging breakout seminars, ambitious athletic and outdoor activities, life changing lessons from God’s Word with seven main stage gatherings, and a relational emphasis through group building and campfire settings.”
I only had a brief moment to pray with them as their departure time from Zion Church on Carlisle Avenue was at 8AM, and our 6AM Men’s Fellowship often extends until 7:30 with lingering participants continuing to share in fellowship with one another. But I was inspired by this van load of 13 youth, even in a short period of time. They are taking 5 days out of their summer to be in fellowship with one another and other Christians to focus on God’s Word. Oh, the power of fellowship! The blessing of relationships with other Christians! The joy of communal praise and worship as the body of Christ!
We can all experience a bit of joy in their activities this week. They are a part of our fellowship. They are the witness of Yorkshire Church, being strengthened in their faith through their relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We can celebrate with them as they will be enjoying praise, prayer and worship every day. We can meet them in prayer as we pray for them, which is our duty as a part of their church family. I challenge us to pray regularly for our youth and the children of our fellowship as a part of our prayer discipline on a daily basis!
As I watched Pastor Megan drive the white van with our youth out of sight on this morning, I thought how great it would be if someday there were two vans, or maybe even a bus of our youth. As the Impact-bound caravan of vehicles disappeared out of sight and I was standing alone in the parking lot of one of our sister churches, I became aware that my desire for this future goal of “more” was not aligned with any biblical or scriptural mandate, but more of an objective for success in growing our church- numerically. After all, activities are more fun with more kids.
Now, as Christians, we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ, and this would arguably mean “more” disciples of Jesus Christ than what exists today. So, growth in and of itself, is certainly a biblical mandate, and actually a command of Jesus Himself. But Jesus did not come for the purpose of numerical growth as an achievement, or for the purpose to make activities more fun for our youth and children. No, His purpose was for much more. His purpose was to have more believers involved in a personal relationship with Him, and therefore, with the Father. We were created to enjoy fellowship with God, through our relationship with one another.
So, to wrap up these wandering thoughts, when we say we want more children and youth in the church, we must consider our motivation for “more.” I have a saying that I have shared with our leadership:
“Every organization is perfectly structured to achieve the results that it is currently getting.”
As a fellowship with an honest desire to grow our church, are we achieving the results that we are structured to get? In our study of Acts, we see that God was constantly adding to His church. But the additions that He provided came as the result of the believers spending time in prayer, Communion, fellowship, and basically time in the Word (teachings of the Apostles). As we desire more, is our desire for the purpose of honoring God, or ourselves? Is the purpose for more an objective of disciple making, or simply enticing more disciples to join our church? Are we designed to lead our youth (and adults) into deeper relationships with Christ, or are we seeking improved ways of creating an atmosphere that they will like when then come into our facility?
These are the thoughts and challenges that keep me awake at night. A recent question that I pondered with some of our leaders is what can we do as a church to make it a place that our youth would want to invite their friends to. We have also considered what can we do to make Yorkshire a place that our adults would want to invite their friends to. Of course, a quick point to make here is, “have you invited anyone into our church lately” (why or why not?). These are fair questions and thoughts to ponder and we certainly need to make Yorkshire Church a positive place for those who enter our doors. But we also need to focus on our efforts to grow into our relationship with Christ. How do our actions, activities, programs, functions, concerts, meetings, and worship reflect the light of Jesus Christ to those who do not yet know Him? And yes, we need to do things and have a facility that meets certain requirements in form and function to be a desirable place to be.
My conclusion on my reflections this morning is that as a church, we need to be more, do more, serve more, and reach more. We need more adults, more youth, more children. But not for our own survival or success factor. Not so there are two, three or four vans of youth leaving for Impact. But because we have been commissioned by Jesus to be more than we are today. More in our relationship with Him. More in our witness to others.
More in our love for one another. More time in the Word. More time in fellowship. More time walking with others who do not yet know what it means to have a relationship with Him. I think when we seek the right “more,” for the right reasons, that God will provide the “more” that we are looking for.
Have a Great and Blessed Day!
125 Edgewood Road, York, PA 17402 • (717)755-4952 • www.yorkshirechurch.org
15 July 2021
Greetings to each of you on this great Yorkshire day!
This morning as I write this edition of “What’s Brewing,” I first recognize how thankful Holly and I are to have the opportunity to serve and be a part of Yorkshire Church. I am not the type of person that is anniversary focused, meaning that each year that goes by, I am not going to give you a count of how long we have been together. But, for this year, I will make an exception. We have made it through our first year together! And as for Holly and I, we are celebrating as we thank God for this blessing. We are thankful for the support and generosity of each of you and the relationships that we have forged together. We are truly blessed.
This morning, I reviewed some of our announcements that we have posted on social media recently. We are using elements of social media to let friends of the church know what type of activities are happening. We are using it to advertise employment opportunities. We are sharing that we have openings in our preschool. The fact is that social media reaches thousands of people that we would not otherwise be able to connect with. We have most recently advertised the Spoken concert that will be occurring in our parking lot on July 30th.
But, one of the comments that someone made on our post was a negative one suggesting that Yorkshire is no longer the church that it used to be- a suggestion that seemed to be based on the type of music that we share or enjoy as a fellowship. The point was that we are no longer who we used to be based on the “entertainment” that we offer. I responded privately to the person (unknown to me) that over the past few months, we have shared, as a fellowship in Southern Gospel, Jazz, Contemporary Music, and even praise God to the sound of fantastic pipe organ music. In a few weeks, we will have the joyous sounds of Steven Courtney and his Suitcase Musicians in our front yard. Is it really the style of music that we may listen to from time to time that predicates “who we are as a church?” To be fair, the individual called out the period of time during Reverend Knisley’s tenure as pastor as being the benchmark for “the type of church” that we “used to be.”
The truth is, though, that we are no longer the type of church that we once were in many respects. We are not the type of church we were ten years ago, five years ago, or even one year ago when we began our journey together. Not only are we not the same, but our community is not the same, our culture is not the same, and yes, even our music may not be the same. I recently had some great discussions regarding our Sunday School programming with many of you. Some of the concerns are that “it is not the same” as it used to be. It is not “the type” of Sunday School that we are used to. And just like the person that commented on social media, the only accurate response is that, no, it is not the same, and no, we are not “the type” of church that we used to be.
But this does not mean that the type of church that we are is not good. We are a church “for a time such as this.” We are responding to very different cultural and social issues than what existed ten or twenty years ago. We are responding to different issues than what we faced two years ago. The way families worship and prioritize church in their lives is different. In what would be my parent’s generation, being a “regular church attender” meant that you attended church at least 3 out of 4 Sundays per month. Today, similar statistics suggest that the average family who are considered “regular attendees” worship together 1 Sunday per month. That statistic alone accounts for a 50-75% decline in average Sunday attendance.
I don’t spend a great deal of effort focusing on attendance. I have had the honor to serve churches that only worshipped 15-20 folks a week- yet their love for God and one another was rich. I consider such opportunities
as a blessing and an honor. However, attendance factors force us to consider what type of activities and programs we can offer to those who worship regularly as well as those who visit for the first time. We are challenged to offer consistency when the average rate of church attendance in our society are only one or two times per month. This is not an underhanded commentary to address those who fall into this category – it may simply be a natural element of the season of life that you are in. Holly and I have been there, also.
But it does predicate us to be different than we were when things made us “the type” of church that we may have been at one time. The key is, that who we were then, was good. The church did things and acted accordingly based on the resources and availability of resources that it had. In the same way, “the type” of church we are today is based on the very same factors. And it too, is good. We do and act in a manner that best uses our resources and availability of resources. But they are different. And therefore, so are we.
Here is what is the same; our purpose is to worship and praise God, the Word of God, and we are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. We are called to share our witness of Christ and make more disciples of Jesus Christ. And we must constantly strive to understand and use how God is calling us as a church to do them. Will we need to do them differently than in the past. Sure. Does it make us better or worse than who we were in the past? Absolutely not. It makes us different.
And today, different is at least good. I won’t suggest better as that is not my intent. I want us to be the best that we can be to serve the purpose that God has for us today and tomorrow. An analogy of the church that I find to be a relevant metaphor is a football game. At a football game, you will have 22 players carrying out the functions of the game at any given time. They each have different functions. Some block, some tackle, and some run the ball. But then there are spectators. Those that attend the game to watch, enjoy fellowship, and to support those that play. Now, some of the spectators are folks that used to play the game, but can no longer do so. Some are folks that may be aspiring to play, gaining motivation and desire to get on the gridiron. Others come because of an inherent interest in the game and the strategy and employ what they learn in other aspects of their life. But regardless, when you are inside the stadium, everyone there has a role and a purpose. But what makes the team on the field stronger, is the growth of the players. The number of players. The availability of resources- folks with gifts to block, tackle, run, and throw the ball. It may be argued that one of the most important aspects of any team is the strength of its roster. The church is no different. We enter our field of play, the mission field, with the resources that we have and we employ those resources in a manner in which we feel will give us the best opportunity for success- growing stronger in our faith and relationship with God, and making disciples of his Son Jesus Christ.
So, in response to our social media critic, my goal is not to be better, worse, or the same as what we once were. It is simply to be the best that we can be today. To be faithful with how God is blessing us today. To carry out his commandments and commissions in a manner that meets the scriptural mandate. Most of all Yorkshire Church, I pray that if nothing else, we do all that we do while loving the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind, while loving one another, as Jesus loved us, so that everyone that we come in contact with, knows that we are His disciples. (Matthew 22:37, John 13:34-35)
Have a Great and Blessed Day!
125 Edgewood Road, York, PA 17402 • (717)755-4952 • www.yorkshirechurch.org