Greater Than (Part 2) Sermon Audio/Video and Questions

On Sunday, June 21, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Philippians 3:1-16.  This message was part 2 in the “Greater Than” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to this sermon for personal reflection or group discussion.  You will also see the sermon audio and video to listen to/watch, download or share.

 

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Philippians 3:1-16
  3. If you were to tell your life story, what are the 2-4 things that someone would HAVE to know about you to understand your story?
  4. Paul found his personal resume was a LOSS compared to the surpassing VALUE of knowing Jesus.  Paul was saying that all the things in his life (good and bad) do not compare at all to the magnitude of knowing Jesus Christ.  To what degree can you make a similar statement about your own life?  To you, is Jesus greater than all else?
  5. Challenges and difficulties in our life are an invitation to get to know Jesus more (as we fellowship with Him in the midst of our suffering).  Has there been a tough time in your life where you have gotten to know Jesus better and depended upon Him deeper because of the challenges you were facing?
  6. To what degree are you tempted to “look back” in your life (either to revel in the good or wallow in the bad)?  To what degree in life are you tempted to look around and compare yourself to others?  How would pressing on toward Jesus allow you to continue to grow in the midst of a hard season of life?
  7. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to the message offline, click the link:

Greater Than #2 6.21.20

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon video, watch the YouTube video:

 

Greater Than (part 2) Preview

Big and small … tall and short … expensive and cheap … all these terms are relative; they require a standard to determine their meaning.

How do I know something is big?  Well, I compare it to something else, and that comparison determines the scale.  If the scale is comparing an elephant to an ant, then the elephant is big and the ant is small.  BUT, if I am comparing an ant to an atom, then the ant is big and the atom is small.

How do I know something is tall?  Well, I compare it to something else, and that comparison determines the yardstick.  Compared to my son, I am tall … while compared to Shaquille O’Neil, I am short.

How do I know something is expensive?  Well, I compare it to something else, and that comparison determines the value.  Compared to the biggest house in Norman, my house is modest … but compared to where the majority world lives, I live in a mansion.

I share these examples today to set the stage for part 2 of our “Greater Than” series this Sunday at Wildwood.  This week we will be looking at Philippians 3:1-16.  In these verses, the Apostle Paul tells us that compared to the value of knowing Christ, everything else in his life is loss.  Paul is saying that the blessings he has known based on his nationality, religion, work ethic, family, etc. are absolutely NOTHING compared to knowing Christ.  Paul had spent the first long season of his life comparing his achievements against his past performance and the performance of his friends … therefore somethings were “wins” and others were “losses.”  But after Paul came to know Jesus Christ, the scale shifted.  Instead of comparing the events of his life to each other, he compared them to Christ, and found them ALL worthless compared to the One who was WORTHY.

All of us need to hear Paul’s reflection on this topic, because all of us are tempted to find our worth in what we do.  But there is a better yardstick for us to measure our lives by … not so much what we do, but Who we follow.  Join us Sunday in our 8AM (outside), 9:30 and 11:00AM (inside) or 9:30AM livestream – wildwoodchurch.org/live – as we explore this further.  See you Sunday!

Greater Than (part 1) Sermon Questions, Audio, Video

On Sunday, June 14, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Philippians 1:18b-26.  This message was part 1 in the “Greater Than” sermon series.  Below you will find questions related to the sermon for personal reflection or group discussion.  Also, you will find the sermon audio/video and slides to listen to/watch, download, or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Philippians 1:18b-26
  3. What are some of the tough circumstances you are facing right now?  Do you find it difficult to have joy in light of the difficulties you are dealing with?  Why or why not?
  4. Have you ever had a time when someone prayed for you and it was a great encouragement?  Describe that time?  Who are you praying for right now?
  5. What are your thoughts about death?  Are you scared to die?  Why or why not?  In what way could it be considered “gain” to die (if you know Jesus)?  Have you trusted in Christ for your life after death?
  6. How would you answer the question, “To me, to live is ____________?”
  7. What would it look like for your life to be about glorifying Jesus and serving others?  What changes would you need to make in your life?
  8. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen access audio to listen to offline, click the link:

Greater Than #1 6.14.20

 

To listen online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the video stream of the worship service, access YouTube video below:

Greater Than (part 1) preview

This spring has been a time of loss, hasn’t it?  What we thought we had in February has been exchanged for something different over the past 90 days.  

  • Some of you have lost loved ones to disease … and lost the chance to mourn them in a memorial service.
  • Some of you have lost your job amidst a pandemic.
  • Some of you have lost savings as your income froze for months and you hope it will soon thaw out.
  • Some of you lost the notion that “all is well” in our country … as racial unrest, political differences, and demands for change have forced hard conversations everywhere we turn.
  • Some of you lost sleep over the stress of the moment.
  • Some of you lost your graduation ceremony.
  • Some of you lost your dream wedding with all your friends in attendance.
  • Some of you lost your mind, yelling at the TV over current news developments.

And on, and on, and on it goes.  This spring has been a time of loss.  BUT, what if there is something gained in the midst of this time?  What if God is doing something great in this moment, through all these trials?  What if the uncertainty of this spring leads you to a certain understanding of your eternity in Christ?  What if …

What if what we gain in this moment is GREATER THAN what we lost?

This is the question we are going to be asking the next two weeks at Wildwood Community Church as we look at two passages from Paul’s letter to his friends at the church in Philippi.  In the midst of a time of great personal loss (arrest, imprisonment, impending martyrdom, etc.) Paul says that he “will  rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).  How could he rejoice in a time of great trouble?  Well, he explains that in this letter.  

  • In Philippians 1:18-26, he describes how his understanding of life (and death) allow him to GAIN JOY, even if he LOSES HIS LIFE.  
  • In Philippians 3:1-16, he describes how he can GAIN JOY, by deepening His relationship with Jesus, even if he LOSES RELIANCE ON HIS RESUME.

Over the next two Sundays at Wildwood, we will look at those two passages together to see how we can also have JOY in the midst of this season of loss.  After all, what we gain in Christ is far GREATER THAN what we lose.  

Hope to see you this Sunday, June 14, in one of our 4 morning worship opportunities:

  • 8:00AM – Outside in-person service in Wildwood’s back parking lot (by Children’s building)
  • 9:30AM – Indoor in-person service in Wildwood’s worship center
  • 9:30AM – Livestream online at wildwoodchurch.org/live
  • 11:00AM – Indoor in-person service in Wildwood’s worship center

Please join us Sunday in one of our “All-In” worship services!  No children, student, or adult classes meeting on site, but worship services for the entire family!  See you Sunday and bring friends!

Wildwood Serving Needs

Dear Wildwood … we need you!

At Wildwood we are for following Jesus together to the glory of God.  As we follow Jesus, we see our faith in God grow and our love for others increase.  One of the things God often uses to grow our faith and love is when we serve others in ministry.  

This Sunday, June 14, Wildwood is changing our schedule and adding a number of worship opportunities.  At 8AM, we will have an outdoor chapel service in the NE corner of our back parking lot.  At 9:30 and 11, we will have services in our worship center.  Also at 9:30, we will be continuing our livestream.  We are trusting God that He will use these 4 options for His glory in the days ahead.  As we prepare to host these services, we need your help!

We have summarized a number of the opportunities for service below, and would love to have you join one of our serving teams (opportunities for help exist for all 4 worship options.)  Even if you were already on a serving team in the past, would you please let us know if you are “still in” on serving with us now?  You can let us know your interest in serving by filling out the form by clicking here.  After you let us know your interests/availability, one of our team will get back with you soon.

Our desire is to see all of our faith in God and love for others increase as we serve others in ministry this summer!  Let’s make room to invite all we know to follow Jesus with us to the glory of God.

 

Serving Opportunities:

Welcome Team: We could use people to welcome folks at each gathering.

 

Ushers: As people enter the worship center for services, we will need people to help them find seating. (Ushers are needed for 9:30 & 11:00 service)

 

A-Team: This team of people help provide parking and security assistance to our Sunday services.

 

Set-up Crew (outdoor service): Are you an early riser? We have need to help set up the outdoor service from 7:00-7:30 each week.

 

Clean-up Crew (outdoor service): After the early service, we will need to move all equipment indoors from 9:00 – 9:20.

 

Next Generation Ministries: When August rolls around, our children, student (6th-12th grade), & college ministries will begin a new season. We need your help w/ a variety of responsibilities.

 

Adult Small Groups: Wildwood is always looking to expand our Adult Small Group ministry!

 

Stream Team: Are you interested in helping produce the LiveStream each Sunday during the 9:30 service?

 

Local Outreach: Do you want to join with others in our church to reach out and serve our community and point them to Jesus?

Wildwood Sunday Worship Plan: Beginning June 14

Dear Wildwood,

It has been so good to be able to gather and worship with you all IN PERSON (and online) over the past month!  The COVID-19 events that led to our services moving entirely online for 2 months led me to appreciate anew the tremendous value of gathering together as a church family.  I have so enjoyed praying with some of you, seeing you face-to-face, and lingering in the parking lot after services talking and sharing life together.  What a joy!

As of this morning, we have just had our fourth Sunday of outdoor worship services.  Hundreds of you have been able to join us in this format, and thousands more have continued to worship with us online.  We are so encouraged by the opportunities the Lord has given us over the past two months as a church.  As we prepare to move into “Phase 3” of re-opening our city, the question now becomes, what is next for Wildwood?

Beginning June 14, we will have four options for worship gatherings each Sunday morning.  At 8AM, we will have an outdoor chapel service in the shaded NE corner of our back parking lot.  This area is cool and breezy at this hour of the day even in the hot summer months, and will allow those who are not comfortable to worship inside, to join us for worship outside.  The same songs and sermon will be a part of these services as our other worship opportunities.  

At 9:30 and 11:00 AM, we will have indoor in-person worship services in our main worship center!  As we have modeled outside, here are a few of our safety precautions we will employ indoors:

  • Social distancing will be observed in our seating configuration.
  • Our staff and volunteers will still be wearing facial coverings while not on stage.
  • We are installing UV filters in our duct work to do our best to purify any air that might be recirculated.
  • We will not be passing an offering basket, but have installed secure offering boxes on the walls in the worship center (also online giving options are still encouraged).

We will also continue to livestream our 9:30 AM service at wildwoodchurch.org/live.  The video of the service is available to watch on our YouTube channel at any point after the 9:30 service begins.

Know that our strong desire is to fully return to the rest of our ministry programming as soon and as safe as possible.  Wildwood has many strengths, but so many of them lie in the community we have as a church family.  Our adult classes, student meetings, and children’s ministry are a tremendous strength of our church, and we can’t wait to bring all of these meetings back in-person on Sunday mornings.  However, at this time, our plan is to continue our classes mostly online (or off of Sunday morning) for the duration of the summer.  Find out how to access these summer community opportunities at wildwoodchurch.org/athome.  

Our Sunday worship gatherings will remain “all in” environments where everyone (regardless of age) will join for worship.  We are mindful of the diversity of our congregation in this season, and are thinking through song choices, sermon subjects, and service plans that will minister to the entire family.  I look forward to kicking off a new series next Sunday called “Greater Than:  Is what we gain greater than what we lose?” (a short series of messages from Philippians.)  

These four Sunday worship opportunities (8:00, 9:30, 11:00, and the livestream) represent our plan for the balance of June and July.  We will update our plans for August (and beyond) as the summer progresses.  Know that it is a great joy to be able to follow Jesus together to the glory of God!  We look forward to worshipping with you this summer.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

P.S.  We have a number of serving needs for these services this summer.  To find out what those are and to let us know where you might be able to serve, click here.

Are we there yet?

This summer, I am speaking at a camp in Colorado, and I am fully expecting (somewhere near Colby, Kansas) for my son to ask, “Are we there yet?”  After hours of napping, playing video games, or watching a movie, something will disrupt his equilibrium and he will want to know our whereabouts.  And when I hear this question, I will look out the window at an endless sea of wheat fields that look nothing like our Rocky Mountain destination, and I will sadly say, “No, son … we are not there yet.”  At that point, I am sure I will get the inevitable follow-up question, “How much longer?”  To which I will reply, “300 miles.”

Keep in mind, on these road trips, I (as the driver) am well aware of EVERY MILE driven.  I know what Colorado looks like, and since I have been looking out the window for hours, I know I have not seen it yet … but my son, as the passenger, has the luxury of tuning in and out — therefore the context of the question.  Most of you who are parents can relate …

Our regular lives are full of activities.  Napping, video games, entertainment … alongside jobs, teams, activities.  These things keep our heads mostly down and our minds occupied for many miles of our daily “journeys”.  Then something will come along and disrupt our equilibrium.  The events of last week in Minneapolis and the subsequent protests and rallies around the country are notable examples of these kinds of attention grabbing moments. As followers of Christ, we have the promise of an amazing destination where mercy and justice flow like a mighty river among all people, and when we are distracted by other things, many fail to remember that our promised destination is still a long ways off.  

I do not want to speak in generalities over entire ethnic groups of people, so let me just talk for a moment about my own personal experience.  In my day to day life, I can get lulled into a feeling that justice reigns, and racism is a thing of the past.  Then events happen that remind me that we are not “there” yet.  These events disrupt my equilibrium and remind me of reality.  I am not proud of my distraction, but I am afraid it describes me too much of the time.

For others, though, racism is not an abstraction, but something they deal with daily.  Like the driver on the road trip, they do not have the luxury of escaping for hours at a time, but they feel every mile of the journey.  Like me, many people of color who also follow Christ are longing for the arrival at the destination where racism is no more … only they have a much better understanding of how many more miles are still in this journey.  They feel that pain daily.  I have black friends who are followed in stores, called a thug because they are wearing a sweatshirt, are stopped because they are driving a car that looks “too nice,” or fear to go on a jog after dark for how they might be targeted.  I can get distracted by other things … they cannot.

I can only imagine that at times like this, black Christians hear my questions and concern and think – Don’t you see how far we still have to go? 

Now, this road trip analogy also is important for all of us to consider.  When I drive from Norman to Summit County, when I get to Colby, I have come quite a distance.  No way are we in the mountains, but we also are not at our origin.  Colby is 464 miles from my house — more than halfway there.  Failing to remember that can make me discouraged at my son’s question.  We are not there yet … but we are making progress.

As I think about this current situation, I also see parallels.  We may not be there yet … but we are closer (as a culture) than we used to be.  Over the past 250 years, our nation has miserably failed in so many ways racially.  We need to own that history.  At the same time, progress has been made.  Many laws have been passed, wars have been fought, and opportunities have begun to be realized.  How many miles we have journeyed is debatable, and I (admittedly) am not the best odometer on this issue (and to my white friends out there … neither are you – we need to listen and learn about the real world experience of others). But some progress has been made, and failing to remember that progress has been made can discourage us into thinking that nothing can be done.  Previous generations have fought battles and passed laws that have moved us many miles.  So, how can we help drive the last 300 (or 400 … or 500)?

I am not an expert on legal matters or economic issues, so I will leave those areas for others to share insights, but honestly … I think most of the miles left on this trip are driven in the soul … and this is something where the church needs to lead the way.  The way we think about our fellow men and women, the way we treat others, the way we stand up for injustice when we see it, the way we teach our kids to excel still more in this area, the policies and candidates we vote for and support … these are all matters of the heart and conscience.  We do not legislate them as much as we live them out.  And we live them out one day at a time.  We drive to Colorado a mile at a time … we can’t skip ahead.  We drive to righteousness similarly, moment by moment, relationship by relationship, decision by decision.  

So how do we drive these miles better?

Well, it has to begin by paying more attention to the journey.  For those of us who have had the luxury of tuning in and out of this issue like a child in the backseat, we need to raise our head and continue to look out the window at the realities around us … and talk to those who have kept their eyes on the road all the while.  Relationships between people of different races, backgrounds, and life circumstances are critical to reminding us both of how far we have come and how far we have to go.  And as our perspective grows, take action day by day, moment by moment to help move us one mile closer to our destination.  What does that exactly mean for me?  I’m figuring that out.  I encourage you to do the same. 

So, with that as a backdrop, I’d like to share 3 sets of Scripture passages and add some encouragement for our souls today:

  1. “a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice.  He will not grow faint or be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His law.” (Isaiah 42:3-4)  This passage is a prophecy concerning Jesus that was given 700 years before His birth.  It describes the ministry of Jesus and His future reign in terms that are universally desirous.  Matthew 12:20 correctly identifies Jesus’ fulfillment of this prophecy in His earthly life.  What a picture of the character of our Savior!  He cares for the wounded and gives an ear to those who are struggling to find their voice.  May we who follow Him unto salvation also follow His example in care and concern for all people!  … AND, Revelation 20-22 promises Jesus’ fulfillment of Isaiah 42:3-4 in His eternal reign.  This is the destination toward which we are all headed: destination without injustice or racism or disease.  

When we look out the window of our current life and see the flat reality of our lives, it should remind us that “we are not there yet.”  There is an amazing relationship between prosperity and prophecy.  The more prosperous we are now, the less we look to the hope of eternity.  The more pained we are now, the more we hope for what is to come.  Moments like now with COVID-19, injustice, racism, being easily visible to all out our windows, should cause us to long for the return of Christ when justice will reign … and should prompt us to trust Jesus now, because knowing Him now is the only way to enjoy that justice then.  Ultimately, this life will be imperfect.  We will not build perfection here.  No amount of laws passed will ever ultimately solve our problems.  Our ultimate hope is not in this world but outside of it.  We should fix our hope in Him, and encourage all around us to do the same.  Jesus will deliver the deepest desires of people’s hearts.

  1. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.  Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10)  These verses, of course, are the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer.  Many of us have prayed these words often.  But what do these words mean?  Well, in this prayer, we are asking God’s ways to be demonstrated on the earth.  We are to ask God to bring His heavenly justice into our world.  While this certainly will have its ultimate fulfillment when Jesus returns to the earth and establishes His earthly Kingdom, it is also a reminder that heaven’s values should be lived among God’s people today. His values should be celebrated when they are lived out, and grieved when they are violated. 

In the New Testament, we are called “Ambassadors for Christ” – Jesus’ representatives.  This makes gatherings of Christ followers “embassies” – churches are little pieces of heaven, a long way from home.  People’s experience with and interaction with Christians should be marked by His righteousness, love, mercy, grace, etc.  The world should see the King’s values lived out in the lives of those who will be in the Kingdom.  Christians, therefore, should not just be people who quote the Bible, but people who live its values out “on earth as it is in heaven.”  While we long for eternity, let’s live out eternity’s values in our relationships here and now.  These values include loving, caring for, and treating equally people from every tribe, tongue, and nation.  After all, Genesis 1 tells us we were all created in His image, and Revelation 5 tells us that people from every ethnicity will be represented in heaven.  Those realities should be reflected in the way we treat others today.

  1. “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”  (Matthew 6:11-13)  In moments like this, it is important for none of us (me included) to proclaim that “we have this all figured out.”  In reality, we all lose our way from time to time.  Like flat tires and wrong turns on a road trip, the journey is sometimes longer than we hoped because our error contributes to the problems.  We think we know where we are going, so we stop looking at God’s map.  I once was driving to Colorado and mistook I-35 for I-135, and ended up on the road to Kansas City instead of Denver.  In real life, we similarly fall short in intentional and unintentional ways.  

So what are we to do?  Well, we are to have a spirit of dependence upon the Lord.  We are to confess our sins to Him and seek His forgiveness.  We are to forgive others for their mistakes as we remember we are forgiven also.  Then, we drive each mile of the journey in daily dependence upon the fuel He is putting in our tank.  “The daily bread” Jesus refers to includes food, water, and shelter, but it also includes the spiritual nourishment of the Word of God and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  I must follow obediently the call in the bread of God’s Word to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8),” knowing that any hope I have of living that out is carried along by the living water of the Holy Spirit inside of me (Galatians 5:22-24).  Further, we need to make an earnest appeal to God (as Jesus teaches) to prevent us from wandering into evil in our thoughts, words, and actions.  A humble, dependent, repentant heart is needed on this trip. 

 

“Are we there yet?”  

No.  Sadly not yet.

“How much longer?”

We long for His justice and yet often do not see it here.  We watch a man murdered on tape, or hear stories of the mistreatment of people and the brokenness of this world disrupts our equilibrium.  We long for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, and when we see the gulf that still exists it grieves our hearts and drives us to our knees … and we pray.  But after we say AMEN, we must also take action as the Lord leads to exhibit His values in the world around us.  The next several miles on this journey will be driven by you and me.  Let’s keep our eyes on the road together.

Wisdom in Leadership

Leadership is hard.  In my youth I aspired to positions of leadership out of ambition.  I wanted to become the president of the organization or captain of the team as a way of achieving status or demonstrating success.  

Fairly early on, however, I learned that being a leader was not so much a way to status as to service.  Leadership meant making hard decisions, showing up early and staying late, listening to various viewpoints, caring deeply for those under your charge, and being criticized for whatever happened.  In high school, college, and my early years of ministry, I was learning that leadership was merely a specialized service to others.  Leadership is not about the leader … it is about the group being led.

I write this today, because leaders today are faced with many difficult choices.  In this COVID-19 spring, there are very few things in any organization or church that are simply “rinse and repeat.”  Every day there are new obstacles … there are things you cannot do, or that you cannot do the way you “used to do them.”  Rather than just being depressed at the loss of the past or a critic of the direction some are walking, leaders (at least good leaders) have to press ahead and chart a new course.  Leaders have to remember their “WHY” so they can chart a new “HOW.”

Leading a church in the midst of this season has given me a great appreciation for leaders making decisions at all levels in all organizations.  Leaders in government, business, schools, and non-profits all have my respect, and my prayers.  They are serving their citizens, employees/customers, students/teachers, clients/parishoners in ways that often go unnoticed. Sure some are doing this better than others … but let’s be honest – this is ALL OF OUR FIRST COVID-19.  So, it is to be expected that mistakes may be made along the way.

Given all this, I was reading in 1 Kings 3 about the time when David’s son Solomon became King over Israel.  It was a time of great transition in the nation.  Some took to this change better than others, but all were impacted by it.  Solomon had to deal with big issues like the continued growth of the nation and the construction of the Temple, but he also had to deal with smaller issues … like how to manage the leadership of his own army and household – that is a lot of mouths to feed!  As a young man, no doubt, Solomon was feeling the weight of leadership for (maybe) the first time.  Whatever he thought being King was going to be like, the reality was harder than he thought.

In this moment, God appears to Solomon in a dream and asks him what he wants.  Solomon did not hesitate, but said this, “And now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child.  I do not know how to go out or come in.  And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude.  Give Your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people , that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this Your great people?” (1 Kings 3:7-9)

Solomon admitted that he was a “rookie.”  He admitted that he did not know what to do.  He knew that his role was to serve the people by leading them in the right way, and so he asked God for wisdom on how to lead.  God was honored by Solomon’s request, and He granted it.

I say this today as a reminder to myself, and an appeal to all in leadership of any organization … especially to leaders in the Church around the world … may we follow Solomon’s example.  May we all admit that we are “rookies” in this moment and do not know exactly what to do — how to re-open and restart ministries in this current climate.  May we remember the importance of the task that is set before us, and what is at stake.  The Gospel is the very definition of “essential” and the people in our churches and in our communities need the hope and the light of Jesus now more than ever.  Knowing these realities, let us all hit our knees in prayer and ask God to give us His wisdom on the matter.  Just as God answered Solomon, I believe God will give us the wisdom that we need as well (as James 1:5 so eloquently reminds us.)

Leaders of our city, state, country, businesses, churches, organizations, teams, and families … I am praying for YOU today.  May God give us “rookies” His wisdom to point the way forward.  I appreciate the specialized service our leaders are putting in right now.

Wildwood Community Church Update: May 10, 2020

Wildwood Update 5/10/20

Hello Wildwood!  We deeply miss seeing you!  This COVID-19 situation has physically separated us as a church family for nearly two months now … and we can’t wait to be able to gather together again!  As you know, local guidelines are set to loosen this coming weekend making it possible for Wildwood to resume some form of our “in person” gatherings beginning May 17.  After much prayer and reflection, the Elders and staff leadership are excited to outline what returning to “in person” services will look like over the next few weeks.

The Livestream will Continue!

Though Wildwood has hosted a livestream since September 2018, the past 2 months have seen this service reach greater and greater numbers of people.  We estimate that 2,000+ people have worshipped with us each of the past few Sundays, with about twice that number joining us on Easter Sunday.  Literally people from all over the world have gathered with us each Sunday for our stream.  Knowing that many will still not be able to join us on Sunday mornings in person going forward (for a variety of reasons), we will continue to offer the Livestream each Sunday, but moving the time to 9:30AM Central Time beginning May 17.  This earlier time will be more convenient for many, PLUS the service will be available to join anytime after 9:30AM throughout the rest of the week.  This will enable those who worship with us online to continue to do so going forward.  As always, our Livestream is available at wildwoodchurch.org/live .  If you are a member of a vulnerable population (over 65 years old, have an underlying health condition, or take care of someone in one of those categories), or if there are other factors that make you leery about going to a live event – PLEASE join us on the livestream!

An “In Person” Outdoor Service will be Held at 11:00AM

Beginning May 17, we will host an “in person” outdoor worship service at 11AM  in Wildwood’s back parking lot (nearest our Children’s Entrance) at 1501 24th Ave. NE.  This service will have the exact same sermon, worship singing, and content as the livestream, but will allow us to gather physically as a congregation.  Why are we gathering outside?  Well, the physical distancing requirements at this phase of “re-opening,” are still prohibitive enough that we cannot accommodate as many people indoors as outdoors.  Additionally, the open air environment prevents some of the sanitation concerns that might be felt indoors at this early stage.  We are working on long term plans to enhance the safety and sanitation of our building allowing us to accommodate more folks in a better way indoors should these restrictions continue.  In the mean time, we will gather outdoors for an hour of worship beginning May 17!  We anticipate being in this outdoor format for the 3 remaining Sundays in May (May 17, 24, 31), and will reevaluate the plan for future phases over the next couple of weeks.  Stay tuned, and thank you for your flexibility!

What about “In Person” Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, or Adult Group Programming?

As we gather outdoors starting on May 17, we are sad to say that our Children’s, Student, and Adult classes will not be held “in person” but will remain online.  We can’t wait to physically bring these options back as we know that the ministry God does through those groups is greatly significant.  Know that we are encouraged by how God is using these ministries online right now, and we are committed to bringing these back “in person” as soon as we can.  In the meantime, find resources for how to connect and grow for all age levels at wildwoodchurch.org/athome .  Stay tuned for more details!

What to Expect as you gather on May 17 Outside:

  • Please bring your own lawn chair or folding chair to sit on. 
  • We will be set up in a parking lot, so you can lay a blanket down, but know it will be on top of asphalt, and not soft underneath.
  • We will post song lyrics for the weekend to our website and our YouVersion Bible app “event.”  You can either access them there electronically, or print them before you come.
  • Consider showing up 15 minutes early, as it may take a bit longer to get situated.
  • Our service will be mostly  “touchless:”  no bulletins, offering baskets, refreshments, or handshakes from our greeting teams.  Our children’s team will have some ziplock bags with activities and things for your kids available for any interested.
  • Our restrooms in the Children’s Lobby will be available for use as needed.  Doors into the building will be propped open at the children’s entrance to keep people from opening  and closing doors unnecessarily if they need to enter to use the restrooms.  
  • Our water fountains will not be operational at this time, so bring a drink if you need one.
  • With outside programming, rain could prove a problem.  Check Wildwood’s website on the morning of the event to see if weather is impacting our schedule … or sign up for Wildwood Text Notifications by texting “Wildwood1” to 95577 to get notified of changes.
  • In concert with the CDC guidelines, we will:
  • Keep 6 feet of physical separation between family groups.  Please be respectful of other’s personal space during this season.
  • All our staff and volunteers will be wearing a mask when not on stage.
  • We strongly encourage you (though not require you) to wear a mask as an expression of your love for others.  The primary reason to wear a mask is to protect vulnerable people around you if you would happen to be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.  
  • If you are sick or have knowingly come into contact with a COVID-19 positive person in the past 14 days, please stay home and join us for the livestream.
  • If you are over 65 years old, are a member of an at risk population, or live with someone in one of those categories, you are encouraged to continue to join us from home via the livestream.
  • We will have hand sanitizer available.

How can we help you?

  • We would love to pray for you during this time.  If you have a prayer request, please go to wildwoodchurch.org/pray and let us know how we can be praying for you!  
  • You can also use that prayer request online form above to let us know about any needs inside our church family that we might be able to help meet. 

Anything else?

Friends, these are extraordinary times, and the emotional, physical, relational, and financial toll is significant.  Additionally, there is a lot of uncertainty around the COVID-19 situation that has led people to differing convictions about how to respond.  The above plan is not perfect, but it is an attempt to call all of us to worship together (as we are able) in this time and season.  The online service will remain a GREAT FIT for those who are either unable or feel it is unwise to gather in groups for worship.  The outside service allows us to gather the most people in the safest way.  Again, both services will have the same content and we want you to choose the option that best fits your family at this time.  We are praying for you, for our city, for our state, for our nation, and for the world at this time of crisis.  

As different members of our church come to differing convictions about how best to live in this “new normal,” we would encourage ALL of us to be generous, gracious, and unified with one another.  While we may disagree concerning our views on COVID-19, all believers in Jesus are UNIFIED IN HIM!  As Jesus prays for us in John 17:20-21, “I do not ask for these [the original 12 disciples] only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word [us], that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You have sent Me.”  May this prayer of Jesus ring in our ears and reign over us in our interactions with one another throughout this season!

May we follow Jesus together to the glory of God now and always!  

In Christ,

The Elders of Wildwood Community Church

NOTE:  This plan is subject to change as new information becomes available.

Growing Up? (Part 2) Sermon Questions, Audio, Video

On Sunday, May 3, 2020 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on John 13:34-35.  This message was part 2 in the “Growing Up?” series.  Below you will find questions related to the sermon for group discussion or personal reflection, and the audio/video from the sermon to listen to/watch, download or share.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read John 13:34-35
  3. What are some of the ways you have seen communication and connection with people get MORE DIFFICULT during this season?  Why have you persevered  to “pay the cost” to communicate in these ways?  What does that tell you about the way we were created?
  4. Jesus lets His disciples know that they are to love one another in the same way that Jesus loves them.  Based on that call, look at the following questions below, and evaluate your “love for one another”?
  • Do you serve, or expect to be served? 
  • Do you point others to the Truth? 
  • Do you pray for & pursue unity? 
  • Do you die to self for sake of others? 
  • Do you “show up”? 
  • Do you forgive? 
  • Do you involve others in your world?  
  1. Jesus says that His followers should be known by all for their love for one another.  How do you think Christians are most known today?
  2. The New Testament writers provide many “one another” commands.  See the lists of those “one another’s” below (in the images).  Do any of these particularly challenge you at this time?
  3. What stands out to you most from this passage?  Any particular takeaway?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

 

To listen to sermon audio offline, click link to download:

Growing Up? #2 5.3.20

 

To listen to sermon audio online, use the media player below:

 

To watch the sermon video, use YouTube video linked below: