Spiritual Mentors – Henri Nouwen

The second sermon in our series of Spiritual Mentors, featured one of my all-time favorites: Henri Nouwen. I read many of his books over the years, but I was seventeen when I first read one of his books: The Genesee Diary.

Nouwen had a unique way of talking about and relating the spiritual life in easy to understand ways. I always appreciated reading his take on the spiritual disciplines, such as silence. He just had a way of teaching the basic principles of the spiritual disciplines in ways I could understand. He also was profound, yet in a simple and real way.

Sunday morning, as worship began, I took my place in front of the sanctuary and sat down. I checked to be sure my Bible was bookmarked to the appropriate scripture passage of the day and I was surprised to find that someone had placed a new bookmark in my Bible at this proper location. The bookmark was inscribed with two of the verses for Sunday’s reading. What a joyous and unexpected surprise! Thank you, whoever did this!

Some people bookmark their favorite biblical passages. Others even highlight verses or add written notes in the margins of their Bibles. You can always tell a well-used Bible against one whose spine is rarely if ever cracked. Are you reading your Bible? Each month in our church newsletter, we list suggested Bible readings and I am always amazed at how many people use this simple tool in their own devotional life. Others use The Upper Room or Our Daily Bread for their Bible reading habits. What are you doing?

Here are the quotes from Henri Nouwen that I used in my sermon this past Sunday. Look over them and mediate on them. Think deeply about them and be challenged by them. What are these quotes saying to you?

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Our Vision here at Stroudsburg United Methodist Church

Back on January 19, 2014, I talked about vision in my sermon. I said, “We don’t dream big enough!” I think this is true, but I also think it is natural. Children have big imaginations, but as we grow up, we typically grow away from dreaming and imagining. Proverbs 29:18a states clearly, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This is a heavy and serious warning! It is also a call back to dreaming and imagining!

In that sermon, I presented a vision for SUMC. This vision is to double each and everything we do: double the worship attendance at 8:30am and 11:00am, double the size of our Sunday School classes, double the number of people participating in Small Groups, double the size of the choir, double our involvement in Soup Kitchen, double our involvement in Family Promise, double our prayer life, double our spiritual devotion, etc.

I’ve continued to pray and think about this vision since that day. I believe strongly that God is pushing and challenging us to grow wider and deeper. Deeper is the spiritual growth we all need to cultivate and wider is the increase in numbers that God wants us to reach in our community with the love and message of Jesus. We need to look out beyond the stained glass windows in our church and develop a real heart for our community and the people who are our neighbors.

I believe this vision is from God and I am calling it “Double Vision” because we need to be much more serious about doubling up everything we do! Here are some of the things I see through this vision into our future:

  • 300 people worshipping in our sanctuary each week
  • a community church that loves our neighbors
  • more missions, including hands-on mission like adult work trips and Habitat for Humanity
  • a more welcoming and inviting church that makes a fantastic first impression
  • a movement, which is Christ-centered, vibrant, and relevant
  • committed believers who are growing wider (numerically) and deeper (spiritually)

Can you see any of this? This might all seem overwhelming at first. How exactly can we double up on everything? Well, it begins one step at a time. Can you invite one person to attend church with you? That would increase our attendance by one — and that would be one (you) plus another one, so that is a double! Can you get involved in a ministry if you are not doing any yet? What about inviting a neighbor or a friend to get involved, too?

I am pleased to see some significant results from what we started back in January. For example, if you remember, I asked for a show of hands of how many people were actually involved with Family Promise. There were some, but not nearly enough of our congregation who are involved in this vital ministry. Well, just yesterday, I was looking at the signup lists for Family Promise and there was only one blank spot left for the week! We’re making some progress, but I know we can do better with our involvement in Family Promise and in every other ministry, too!

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of hitting foul balls and some singles for God. It’s time for us to hit more and more doubles!

So, from now own, SUMC has Double Vision! We are going to double up everything we do! Are you with me? Are you ready to live into God’s dream for this church? Let’s get started right now!

 

Are You Participating in a Small Group?

Small Groups come in a variety of flavors–some are designed to help us grow deeper in our faith and others are more recreational and relational. The goal for Small Groups at Stroudsburg UMC is to have a great variety of Small Groups to interest as many members and friends of the church as possible.

You can learn more about our Small Groups here.

Small Groups bring together people for a common purpose to grow together. If you haven’t tried participating in a Small Group yet, I encourage you to give it a try. Look over the list of Small Groups, pray about it, and contact the leader to give it a try!