So, this is totally going to be a brag post. I hope you don't find it terribly annoying. ;)
I have never mentioned my church by name on this blog. Why? 'Cause I'm weird. There is one thing that I have done in the past that I never want to do again, and it is REALLY tempting. I don't want to be a "my church is better than your church" person, because I TRULY, TRULY believe there is only one CHURCH, the BODY OF CHRIST, and we are all on the same team! Yes, lots of us "do church" in lots of different ways. Some of those ways are not my preference, but if they are reaching people for Jesus, more power to 'em! I kind of think of different local churches like the different parts of the body mentioned in I Corinthians 12.
"14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, yet one body."
So, maybe there is a foot church, but I really belong in an eye church. I shouldn't knock the foot church, even though it isn't where God has called me to be. Does that make sense? And yes, even within those local bodies, the many members have many different functions. That's how it works! ;)
Anyway, so I've been hesitant because I have lots of friends in lots of different local bodies. I have friends who are much more conservative than me, and friends who are much more charismatic. My two cents on that? It's all good. They love Jesus. I don't care about arguing theology or claiming "rightness." In bragging on my own church, I am NOT knocking yours! ;)
So after that long buildup and explanation, and with that understanding, I want to brag on my church, Grace Church of Avondale. God brought us here for a season of resting and rebuilding. We know that He is soon sending us on a new mission (more on that soon!), and we are excited about that, but I want to express my gratitude to the Lord and to the people of GCA for who they are, for fulfilling their calling, and for the encouragement and example they have been to us! I specifically want to honor the staff members I have gotten to know since coming to Grace.
Roger Stark, Senior Pastor - FEARLESS. This is the word that comes to mind when I think of him. We have been in leadership in several different church environments. Quincy has been a head pastor. And I have NEVER seen a pastor who behaves so fearlessly as this man does. I'm telling you, it is a scary thing to be a pastor sometimes. People come and go. They can do crazy stuff sometimes. And what pastor just passes the mic without a little preview of what Joe Schmoe might be about to say? ROGER. He is not a hoarder of his pulpit. He trusts the Holy Spirit's leading in his life and in the life of ALL the believers. GENUINELY. This guy is a rare gem in the pastoral world.
Ian Stake, Equipping Pastor - ENCOURAGER. Feelin' down? Spend 5 minutes with Ian Stake. He is a Holy-Spirit-led prophet of the Lord. He will support you, pray with you, and speak the words that the Holy Spirit lays on his heart. He has prayed over me and my husband, and the Lord has used Him to speak EXACTLY what I needed to hear, more than once. Ian listens to the Holy Spirit and shares His words freely. I am blessed to have encountered him. (And his wife!)
Jonathan Scott, Worship Pastor - HUMBLE. Jonathan Scott is an INCREDIBLY talented musician. He is one of the few people in the world who can open his mouth and sing beautifully with absolutely no need for embellishment. He is a talented songwriter and musician as well... and the best part? He doesn't act like it. It is completely evident that he WORSHIPS. He does what he does out of love for the Lord. I know it is so tempting for a worship pastor to get really puffed up about their gifts and position. He is so far from it, it's ridiculous. I have often wondered, "Does he have any clue how talented he is?" I am grateful to be ushered into worship by a heart like his.
Adam Peterson, Student Pastor - JOY. This guy LOVES JESUS! His joy is INFECTIOUS! He is like a Jesus disease (which is a good thing!). This is something that you really cannot manufacture, and I am always blessed when I encounter him. He is a living, breathing reminder of the daily victory that belongs to the believers. He lives it. He walks it. He breathes it. Kids are getting saved because of his obedience to the call the Lord has placed on his life, and his JOY is evident in carrying it out! I am ALWAYS challenged by his attitude and pure pleasure in serving the Lord!
Rebecca Peterson, Adam's Wife (Okay, I don't know if she's really a staffer, but I'm gonna brag on her anyway.) - SERVANT. I confess, sometimes I think the wife jobs are the hardest. (This goes for Gloria & Caroline as well.) It takes a heart of sacrifice to be a pastor's wife. It requires a willingness to support your husband's ministry. It requires a desire to support him in what God has called him to do. It requires a toughness to deal with criticism and a tender heart to offer quick forgiveness. She's got it all. Rebecca loves her husband and his ministry. It is very evident. She serves alongside him and offers her own talents as well. Jesus, Adam, and GCA are all blessed to have her! (And I'm fortunate I get to have her for a friend!)
Eva Scott, Administrator - FAITHFULNESS. Eva Scott works her patootie off. God has gifted her with intelligence and organization, and she uses those gifts for His glory at Grace Church. She is a behind-the-scenes, no-credit-getting (or needing) kinda gal. She is a lover of God and His work in Grace Church, and she supports it with all she's got! She also gets credit for being a pastor's wife (Jonathan Scott) and all that entails. She is a faithful woman. She is a 110% person. She works hard and lays down her life for this ministry, and I am thankful to call her friend!
I know I'm not mentioning everyone, but these are the people I know the best, and whose influence has affected me most. I am thankful for you. I see God working in you and through you. I am so grateful for the things that God has used you to show me. I am thankful for Grace Church of Avondale. You are a beautiful community of believers. You have encouraged me more than you will ever know.
If you live in this community and are looking for a body of believers, go check this place out. You will be blessed.