“Recalculating!” Anyone who has ever used a GPS while driving has heard the word, “recalculating.”  As my family traveled through the unfamiliar routes in Florida last week, our GPS had to remind us that we missed our turn or had driven too far and would recalculate and show us what we needed to do to correct our mistake. 
Frankly, God has done a lot of “recalculating” in my life.  I have gone through times in my life when it dawned on me that I am off course.  You might think of times when God spoke to you through some sermon or song or situation or personal time in the Word as if to say, “Change your direction.  Go this way instead of that way.”  
This has been on my mind for us as a church.  Seven years ago, when I arrived to serve as your pastor, I came with a clear vision for EBC.  If you have been around here at all, you should be familiar with our mission to make disciples, our objectives of growing deeper and having greater impact, our five commitments (to Scripture, prayer, one another, worship, and outreach) and our 4-E model for ministry (engaging, establishing, equipping & evangelizing).  
Are we staying on the right road?  Have we made wrong turns?  Is there a need for God to recalculate our plans in order to get us to where He wants to take us?   We do have a propensity to become distracted.  This is true on a personal level and also as a church.  
In approaching my seven-year mark, it is cause for celebration and evaluation.  I do celebrate the accomplishments.  I thank God for the marked growth in you, the team of elders and staff I get to serve with, the healthy environment that is welcoming to newcomers, the joyful spirit present each Sunday, and the reception of God’s Word to your lives.  
It is also a time for evaluation.  What changes do I need to make to better reflect the vision and desires I believe God wants for us?  How has the tyranny of the urgent squeezed out the more important things?  Church, whenever we substitute the urgent for the important, it is time to recalculate. 
This is why I am so passionate about the upcoming sermon series on the church. This is the reason the call for a church awakening is so critical.  I believe that the church in America has fallen asleep to the reality that we live in difficult times.  And unlike the early morning alarm, we cannot hit the snooze button.  We must wake up to what confronts us.  We must wake up to the marvelous opportunity of ministry that lies before us.  
The genius of the gospel, the beauty of God’s grace, and the power of God’s Word are able to put us on the right path to reach the destiny God has for us as a church.  We can be encouraged for God is able to get us to our destiny.  More than that, He is able to do far more than we can even ask.   I invite you to pray that God awakens our church to what Jesus is building.  Pray that our passion is renewed for what He wants for us.  Pray that we embrace the recalculating that puts us on the path to becoming a church that makes disciples who make disciples. 

Why Do We Do What We Do at EBC?

“Why?”  “Why, papa?”  I must have heard that question a dozen times from 2 of my 4 grandkids over this past weekend.  It reminds me of the father and his toddler out fishing one day, when the boy asked, “Why does this boat float, dad?”

The dad thought for a moment and replied, “I really don’t know exactly.”

The four-year-old then asked, “Why don’t fish drown underwater?”  

“I am not quite sure,” the dad answered.

The boy looked up to the heavens and asked, “Dad, why is the sky blue?”

Again, the dad replied, “I don’t really know, son.”

The son then said, “Dad, do you mind my asking you all of these questions?”

“Of course not,” the dad responded.  “If you don’t ask questions, you’ll never learn anything.”

The why question often takes us off guard.  Yet it is a good question as it relates to life, ministry, priorities, motives, and so on.  For instance, “Why do we do what we do at EBC?”  To answer that question with something like, “Because that is how we always have done it,” is insufficient.  

If you have been around here and been paying attention you should know by now that our mission is to be a church that makes disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples…”  We carry that out through a 4-E strategy: Engage, Establish, Equip, and Evangelize.  This strategy is broad enough to include various activities, yet specific enough to keep us focused as to why we would add or choose to not add another ministry or program.  

As your pastor, I am committed to looking for ways to more effectively and intentionally center all I do around making disciples and that it is in our DNA as a church.  This is one reason I, along with the elders, believe that joining the Evangelical Free Church of America will increase our ability to carry out our mission.  

“Why, pastor, why?  Why would we join?”  That is a legitimate question.  In next week’s epistle, I will flesh this out some more.  Suffice it to say now, the Evangelical Free Church that I had the privilege of being a part of for over 20 years in Portland, Maine, played a big part in my longevity as pastor there.  Not only did the E. Free provide me with resources to sustain me in my ministry, but it also offered the church resources to develop leaders, and to support and equip the church to carry out its mission.  Like I said, I will come back to this and other reasons why this is healthy for our church.