The Triumphs and Trials of a Growing Church

First of all, I want to just say how much I love spending time with my house group from church. It seems the last couple of weeks (which, by the way, were the first couple of weeks of a newly formed group), I have left our time together with a lot of food for thought. And something to post on my blog :).

This week, our pastor posted a letter he had sent to the staff and elders on the church blog. The letter stated that over the past two weeks, attendance was up by over one hundred people (we made the move to having two services on July 11 and it opened up a lot of opportunity for visitors).

With that kind of growth, we have to be doing something right as a church. The Bridge is built on three core principles: to be theological, relational and missional. With the growth that we are experiencing right now, I can’t help but believe that we are doing those things pretty well. Missional gets people in the door and theological and relational keep people coming back.

There are so many good things that go hand in hand with a growing congregation. There are more hands to do the work so people don’t get as burned out. And because there are more hands, there will be more opportunity for outreach and more opportunity to share the Gospel. Just thinking about the many people who will hear the Gospel because of this church body is exciting. And the ability to help others in our community increases.

But, there is a small struggle that happens with a growing church as well. I think this is especially true for people who “remember when.” When you are a small chruch, you know every other family, you are involved in their lives. You know the pastor and his family pretty well. Because a small number of us have served together, we’ve become extended family. So when numbers begin to grow and you go to a service and don’t know anyone around you, sometimes you may become a little discouraged because you “remember when.”

You might feel like you are going to get lost in the numbers. This might be even more true for the members of my small group simply because we came from the pastor’s small group. We multiplied the group a few weeks ago because it was getting so large. It was time to take that step and I have been blessed by my new group already. But, having that relationship with the pastor and his wife was something that probably will not continue in the same capacity as before. Which, I want to state again, is fine. I am a PK (pastor’s kid for those of you not familiar with the term) and I know pastors do not have time in-depth relationships with everyone in the church body. And the church should not expect that from their pastor–EVER.

I think the thing to keep your mind on here is that it is not about me. I am not the church, you are not the church but we (all of us together) are the church. And we can grow in numbers and do such great things to advance the kingdom of God in ways we could not imagine before with a smaller number of people.

But how do you not get lost in a sea of faces? My solution for that is a pretty simple one. It is this: GET INVOLVED. Don’t just mark Sunday service off of your check list. Work on building relationships (both current ones and new ones). Invite new people to your small group, teach Sunday school, help with the your, be a greeter. In essence, DO SOMETHING.

Baby Steps

I was so proud of what I did last week. I stayed within my points goal, I exercised, I got my water in every day. But, this morning, when I stepped on the scale, I hadn’t even lost one pound. Nope, not a whole pound, just seven tenths of a pound.

I am trying my best not to be discouraged by this. I mean, at least the scale is going in the right direction. The numbers are going down and not going up any longer. And, in the past, sometimes it would take a week or two before a big loss would show up after a good week (especially if I had changed my exercise).

But, in truth, it does hurt a little that I didn’t have a bigger loss on the scale this week.

I’ve decided that I need to look at my weight loss journey like I look at my training. You spend months and months preparing for that one big race day. You start small. When I first started training for my first marathon, 26.2 miles looked pretty daunting. So does losing over 100 pounds.

That first run of two miles was tough. And it was only two miles!! How was I going to run 26.2 miles? Just like that, losing .70 pounds was tough and looking at that huge goal is a little scary.

So, like marathon training, you break things down. You run two or three miles three days a week and one day a week you increase your distance. So, week one you run two miles M, W and F and then on Saturday you run three miles. You run the same two miles M, W and F the next week but on Saturday you run four miles. And so on until you are running longer distances.

Yes, there are snags along the way. My first ten mile run made me want to quit altogether!! We were an hour late to meet the team to run and it was a HOT day in August. We decided that we didn’t want to run an out and back course (which would have had water stops for us the whole way). Instead we parked one of the cars ten miles away from our start point and we were going to run to it. Well, that course was not only hot, we also had NO shade!!

If that wasn’t bad enough, we got to Leigh’s car, she had locked her keys inside. She called her husband to come get us. We were all a little cranky by this time and she yelled at her poor hubby.

We laugh about it today but it was a struggle. But, a struggle we had to face in order to reach our final goal.

So, I will keep pressing toward my goal and hopefully, one day, I’ll look back on this week with a smile

Who am I

At the beginning of our small group study last night, each of us was given a piece of paper that read, “I am ___________.” Our task was to fill in that blank using no more than three words. This was an easy assignment for some but a few of us struggled with it.

We then watched a short video that really got me thinking. In the video, the question that was asked was, “What defines you?”

It seems like today when you meet someone for the first time, one of the initial questions asked is “What do you do?” or “Where do you work?” We are trying to gain a little insight into that person based on the answer to that question.

Sometimes we don’t want to know (or share) what defines us. There may be a part of me that I am ashamed to share with others. Or I may be comparing myself to someone else and I feel like I just won’t ever be that good, that talented, that spiritual, etc.

But, the trusth is, it is both the good and the bad things in my life that define me. Both my triumphs and my trials have brought me to who I am today. And until I am OK with that, with sharing those things I’m proud of as well as those things that have broguht me pain, I will not be able to truly define who I am. I will not be one hundred percent OK with who I am.

So, today:

I am a child of God.

I am a sinner.

I am saved.

I am a mistake maker.

I am content.

I am pressing on.

I am learning from my past.

I am loved.

Slow Fat Triathlete

Years ago, the first time I lost all of my weight, I had just finished a marathon and decided that I wanted to attempt a triathlon.

Now, I’m a person who will research everything to death so I made a few trips to my local bookstores to see what kind of reading I could find about triathlons. I came across a real gem of a book on day when I was in Borders. The title of the book was Slow Fat Triathlete written by Jayne Williams.

I loved this book. First of all, the author has a great sense of humor (very similary to mine, probably why I liked it so much). Williams told some great stories about first learning to swim, trying to find the right bike and trying on her wetsuit for the first time (I was laughing out loud).

The best thing about this book was the message the author was trying to get across: don’t not do something because you are worried about how you look or what other people will think of you. As a matter of fact, a lot of triathlons actually have specific categories for men and women who are over a certain weight.

I admit, I sometimes struggle with walking into my gym when I see all of the skinny, athletic girls there. I struggle with joining races because I am not a fit athlete.

BUT, I have found that Jayne Williams was correct. Most people aren’t even paying attention to you. You are the only one worried about you. Everyone else at that 5k race, half marathon, triathlon or bike race is thinking about their own race and how they are going to accomplish their own goal. They aren’t even thinking about you.

As a matter of fact, I have found that triathletes are some of the nicest people. I have been in so many races where I was struggling to finish running and those people who were passing by where cheering me on. Just last year when I was finishing the 56 mile bike ride of my half ironman race, I had another biker pass me and tell me he was proud of me for getting out there and race for my cause (I raced with Team in Training and had raised $3500 for Leukemia & Lymphoma research).

Most of the races I have competed in have been emotional but that half Ironman is one of my most memorable just because that man stopped to encourage me at the end of a long bike ride and just before I had to start doing my least favorite thing (running).

So, as both Jayne Williams and I have found out, whether your overweight, just slow, or both, don’t give up on something you have wanted to do just because you are not at your ideal weight. Just go do it.

Top Ten Tuesday

I have seen this idea on many blogs and thought it was a great idea. It seems that once a week, the blogger focuses on several things they like this week. I chose ten things this week for a couple of reasons. First, I haven’t seriously blogged in a while and second (and most important) the alliteration works well. I admit, the number may change each week if there isn’t too much to talk about but “Top Two Tuesday” didn’t seem like enough :).

So, here goes.

10. Club Bing. I admit it, sometimes I have nothing to do at work and have to find ways to entertain myself. I found clubbing.com and love it. If you play games online, you should check out this website. You earn “tickets” for playing games. You can earn up to 1000 tickets per day (unless it is a double ticket day in which you can earn 2000 tickets). Those tickets can in turn be used for awards on the website. There are some great awards including a kitchen aid mixer and a blue ray DVD player

9. Zumba. I won’t go into this too much since I mentioned it in my last post. But, you’ve got to check out this class. It is a lot of fun!!!

8. Prairie Life Fitness Center. I joined this gym a month ago and love it. It’s has a great country club feel and isn’t too crowded. Plus, it’s right down the road for work so I can take my lunch and go for a 30 minute swim and come back feeling refreshed and ready to go for the rest of the day.

7. Academy Sports Clearance Sales. I discovered this a couple of years ago and make sure I visit Academy Sports every July because they put a HUGE amount of workout clothing on clearance. I realize that most stores put summer clothes on clearance in July but Academy does it well.

6. The Bridge Spring Hill goes to two services. Last Sunday was my churches first Sunday with two services. We were getting over crowded with just one service and the move to two services was needed. I enjoyed sitting in the first service with my space bubble in tact.

5. Leverage. This is a show that is on TNT on Sunday nights. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this show. It’s about a group of thieves that band together to help people who have been wronged. Timothy Hutton is part of the cast (he plays the mastermind of the group). The show is shot a lot like the Oceans Eleven, Twelve adn Thirteen movies where they pull a con and then the camera goes back to show how they accomplished their con.

4. Hungry Girl. These cookbooks are great. She takes modern day favorites and re-works them so they are  more healthy. Sure she uses a lot of processed foods (Fiber one, Shitaki noodles and butternut squash are some of her favorites). You can check her out at hungry-girl.com

3. Swagbucks. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but thought I’d plug it again. This is a website that gives you “swagbucks” for searching the web. There are other ways to earn swagbucks as well (daily polls, shopping online, surveys). You can exchange those swagbucks for things in the swag store (my favorite are the amazon e-gift cards). I get a referral if you sign up so if you’re going to check it out, use this link http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/nashpredsfan

2. Summer fruits & veggies. My manager has a great garden. She brought in some yummy summer squash and cucumbers yesterday that I have enjoyed. I love the summer season with fresh fruits (melons and berries) and vegetables. Yummy!!!

1. sparkpeople.com. After getting burned out with Weight Watchers, I’ve been looking for other options for weightloss. I was reminded recently about this website and the best thing is….it’s free!!!! The website allows you to track your calories and your exercise. In addition, you create your own personal spark page, you are assigned to teams of people who can offer support. One of my teams has even assigned us accountability partners if we were interested in. And we just started a six week biggest loser challenge. All of this support is a wonderful motivator.