Before any great expedition the explorers must take time to get ready. They must take stock of all their supplies to make sure that everything is set and in place, but ultimately all their work is in service of going on the expedition. At the beginning of our Next 40-year journey as a family of faith, we believe it is time to go. In Acts 1:8, we read, “…and you will be my witnesses…” This is Jesus’ call to go. This is His call to explore, to begin the expedition. His disciples spent three years with Him getting ready. They spent the past 40 days with Him getting set. Now they are called to go. Now they are called to explore. Jesus desires this calling to be so clear, He even provides the map for the expedition. He tells His disciples that they will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Why does Jesus specifically note these places? What is their significance? Does the map Jesus provided to His disciples still have an application in today’s church? These questions will be answered as we track this expedition and examine a scene from each location on Jesus’ map. We will take note of how it continues to provide direction for the journey to which Jesus is calling His church at the Chapel as we embark on our Next 40-year journey.
We often use the phrase, my church, to refer to the place we go on Sunday mornings. It’s common to discuss what I like about my church, what I don’t like about my church, how my church is changing, and what my church is doing or saying about a particular issue. Although this kind of language and commentary is pervasive enough to become background noise in most church foyers or fellowship halls, there is only one person who can truly say, “my church.”
In Matthew 16:18b Jesus says, “…I will build my church…” The church, forever and always, belongs to Jesus. It is his possession, not ours. In addition, Jesus is the one who makes and fashions the church according to his will, not ours. So what is the church according to Jesus?
This series focuses on the Church’s Mission.
Everyone has questions. While our questions may be many or few, most of us have at least seven: Does life have a purpose? Is there a God? Why does God allow pain and suffering? Is Christianity too narrow? Is Jesus really God? Is the Bible reliable? Can I know God personally? These questions are grappled with by scholars, school children and everyone in between. They are the seven big questions everyone has when they get honest about exploring God. In partnership with many churches in the Historic Triangle, the Explore God sermon series, coupled with intentional processing and discussion in small groups, will help our community wrestle with these questions together and invite others to explore with us.
The great reformer John Calvin said, “There is nothing more perilous to our salvation than a preposterous and perverse worship of God.” Using not so subtle language, Calvin is getting at the idea that when a church worships God rightly, according to His Word, everything else falls into place. However, when a church succumbs to shallow, preference-based, individualized worship, that church is on a dangerous course that must be corrected.
During the summer of 2018, we turned to the Book of Psalms – the hymnal placed at the very center of the Bible – for God’s teaching on proper worship. Our goal is that by the time fall arrives, everyone who calls the Chapel their church home will have a biblical, rather than personal, view of worship.
As we conclude our annual focus on the kingdom of God, this series will equip us to practically live out the call to make disciples and reflect God's kingdom wherever He has placed us. As parents, grandparents, children, bosses, employees, neighbors, friends, co-workers, and congregants, we are all a part of the kingdom mission to partner with God in revealing His kingdom to the world. As we go, Jesus promises that He will guide us, strengthen us, empower us, and be with us as His disciple-makers.
The kingdom of God is often called an “already-not-yet” kingdom. This concept means that the kingdom of God is already here, even as we wait for it to come in a fullness that we do not currently experience. During the season of Lent, we will study the kingdom parables found in the Book of Matthew. These kingdom stories will teach us to live in the tension of the “already-not-yet” kingdom of God. Through these stories, we are challenged to live joyously and generously as we fully immerse ourselves in the kingdom. These parables will also teach us to live expectantly and alertly as we await our King’s return. In all, these parables will orient our hearts and minds not only towards God’s kingdom but ultimately to the King Himself.
The quest for wisdom is as old as time, yet Scripture tells us that true wisdom can only be given by our Creator. God's wisdom looks different than the wisdom taught in the world around us. As we study Proverbs together, we will be challenged to live our lives in a way that reflects the values and wisdom of the Kingdom of God.
The Gospel writers make it clear that Jesus is the promised King of the Old Testament. In Jesus’ day, there were many different ideas of how this promised King would come and what He would be like, but the Gospel of Matthew makes it clear that the ultimate and perfect fulfillment of these promises is Jesus. Embedded in these first chapters of Matthew are many Old Testament prophesies. The narrative of Jesus’ birth and even His genealogy are written to explicitly announce the fulfillment of these prophesies and to leave no doubts that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, our promised Savior and King.
Together, in the season of Advent, we will see how Jesus is not only the promised fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy, but how He is our powerful, preeminent, and prevailing King today. Studying the narrative of Jesus’ birth, we will see how Matthew invites us to make Jesus our King, our only King. If Jesus is indeed the promised King, the Son of the Most High God and our only hope for salvation, then He demands our complete surrender.
This fall we will be studying Jesus’ first teachings on the kingdom of God in the Gospel of Matthew. It is a section of Scripture we call the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus described God’s kingdom as one that stands in contrast to the world. It is a kingdom in which its citizens, the followers of Jesus, live a life marked by a new set of values and behaviors. The Sermon on the Mount depicts what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of their true King, Jesus Christ.
As we study, we will be asked to examine ourselves (inwardly and outwardly) to see how we are living and reflecting these kingdom values. If we allow Jesus to lead us, we will discover a greater dependency on Him and a greater freedom from the world. Ultimately Jesus teaches that life in His kingdom is abundant life.
God's people have always needed truth tellers. God's people have always needed stern calls to repentance. God's people have always needed reminders of God's faithfulness to the very end of the age. In the Old Testament, God provided prophets to meet these needs. One could summarize the work of the prophets in three words: reality, grief, and hope.
This summer we will study a small section of the Old Testament known as the Minor Prophets. Despite beginning as separate books, they were traditionally sewn together into one scroll. The unity of the scroll from which ancient rabbis taught these books points to their unified message of God's steadfast faithfulness and unyielding determination to rescue His people. Today we see their unity pointing us to God's ultimate rescue plan, Jesus Christ.
Join us on this journey exploring the reality, grief, and hope about which these prophets speak. Our prayer is that our journey together will lead us to our ultimate hope: God, made known in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
In this series, we will examine Jesus' movement through the church in the book of Acts. Our study will offer us an opportunity to discern the role He is asking us, both as individuals and as a church family, to play in His movement today. From the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 to its expansion throughout the Roman Empire in Acts 28, we see Jesus fulfilling the promise that we "will be witnesses... to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). That promise extends to us today, as we pray and seek the Holy Spirit to continue leading and directing the movement of the church.
Prayer is a virtually universal human behavior. Prayer fulfills a desire within us all to connect with something larger than ourselves. Prayer gives us access to the wisdom of the Almighty. Prayer offers a place to whisper what we dare not tell another soul or in frustration to cry out before God. Prayer is the starting point for every great spiritual movement. Yet, few people actually know how to pray. Most people know how important prayer is, but few people report having a vital prayer life. From Ash Wednesday to Easter we will examine the prayers of Jesus. We will learn how Jesus approached prayer, what he prayed and how he instructs us to pray. If we are going to discern Jesus’ movement in our midst, deep and abiding prayer is essential. This Lenten season let us look to the prayer life of our risen Savior as we embrace the resurrected life He offers each day through prayer.
It often seems that something is just not working when it comes to our discipleship journey. When our desire to continue moving toward Jesus is strong, but our actual movement is stunted, we may have hit an obstacle on our discipleship journey. When obstacles lie in our path, we can feel stuck, frustrated, and without joy. This is a universal experience. Every follower of Jesus encounters obstacles to movement. In addition, there are some obstacles that prevent people from even beginning a discipleship journey. Everyone knows what it feels like to hit an obstacle, and everyone can benefit from contemplating how to move through them with trust in God's providence and an experience of His provision. In this new year, we will focus on common obstacles to movement for both disciples and skeptics. We will examine what the Bible teaches about moving over, around, or sometimes alongside seven of our most familiar and frustrating obstacles.