Posted by: Philip Rushton | November 26, 2013

The Top 6 Reasons Why I am Grateful to be at Longview Community Church

During our thanksgiving dinner on Nov 20th I was asked to provide a short reflection on the theme of gratitude. We focused our thanksgiving celebration on being grateful for the ways God has been at work in our church over the past 90 years. I took the opportunity to share, from a pastor’s perspective, why I am grateful to be part of this community of faith. Since not everyone was able to be there, I thought I would share these thoughts in the newsletter and on the blog as well.

I took my queue from Paul, who regularly makes a point of expressing his gratitude to the churches he partners with. In Philippians 1:3-6 he writes:

I thank my God every time I remember you, 4 constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, 5 because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.

Because we are celebrating our 90 year anniversary I initially thought I’d list the top 90 reasons why I am grateful for this church; however, I was also given only 10 minutes to talk, so I ran out of space at reason six. So without further ado – here are the top 6 reasons why I am thankful to be a part of Longview Community Church!

1. Because people in their 80’s beat me at golf.

Soon after I arrived here in Longview I was out golfing with Everett and Wendell. As we approached the 9th hole I remember Everett saying that he missed the good old days when he was in his 60’s. Golfing came a bit easier in those golden years. Apparently I had not yet entered my golden years, because both of these guys managed to beat me that day. This story illustrates something that I love about our church – namely that we are intergenerational.
This is a unique gift of Longview Community Church. Many churches these days are geared toward specific generations. I have a lot of friends who are planting unique and exciting churches, but they are often made up of people in one generation. While this is easier to pull off, there is something that we miss out on when we do not get to interact with different generations.
I am blessed by the perspective I get from those of you who are older than me and I am inspired by the passion and excitement of our youth who are at the beginning of their faith journey.

2. Because I get to trade in the electric guitar for the necktie between services.

I love the fact that there is diversity in our community of faith. I am grateful that we connect with different forms of worship, have different perspectives on issues of theology and politics, and that we come from different backgrounds.
The New Testament church valued diversity. They sought to forge an unprecedented community where male and female, Jew and gentile, slave and free, and rich and poor would live in a spirit of unity.
While diversity is challenging it is also very formative for us. It allows us to see the people behind the issues that we debate, have our perspective broadened, learn to put the needs of others before our own, and figure out how to work towards reconciliation.

3. Because pastor John has a “Please Disturb” sign in front of his office door.

When I first started at the church John posted this welcoming invitation over his office door. I have been incredibly blessed by Pastor John. I often tell people that if just 10% of his pastoral heart for people rubs off on me I will be a much better pastor and person.
Dallas Willard once said that we will forget 99% of what our pastors say but we will never forget the kind of persons they are. When I left seminary I thought my main job was to get my words right. While preaching a sermon is important, John has taught me that my main role is to get my heart right. John has reminded me that how we interact and care for one another is what really speaks volumes!

4. Because we aren’t the “frozen chosen.”

There is a joke among Presbyterians that they sometimes act like the frozen chosen. A formal liturgy and building can easily create a cold atmosphere. Here at the community church, however, I have experienced a profound sense of warmth.
Pastor Chris invited a speaker from out of town to be with our church a couple weeks ago and he sent over this letter describing his experience at our church. Derek writes:
I have the opportunity to travel to many different churches in many different parts of the country. After a few short days with members of your church family many words come to mind to describe my experience – friendly, warm, hospitable, caring and genuine. But the word that best describes my time at worship on Sunday at LCC is: ‘refreshing.” It is refreshing to witness a congregation and church leadership that takes life and the Gospel seriously, but doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
This was my experience when I first came to visit the church. It is something I hear over and over again from people who go through our new members class.

5. Because we decorate our gothic cathedral with Paper Mache.

I remember being here for our first VBS. During the Sunday before VBS Lisa had decorated the sanctuary with Paper Mache animals. During 2nd service, the choir came out on the steps to sing and a large sea creature was dangling precariously from the chandelier right above Dave Dividal’s head.

This was a beautiful sight. It speaks to the reality that this church takes Jesus seriously when he says, “let the little children come to me.” I love that I have to wear earplugs on Tuesday morning while the mops kids romp around the building. I love that Chris is building in to our high school kids at this important season of their life and I am grateful that my 18 month old is already getting Sunday school lessons from Pam Graham and can sing about 25% of the words to Jesus loves me already!

6. Because of you!

I have never been a part of a church that has had so much participation. I am on the front lines of working and coordinating a number of ministries here at the church and I have never had a hard time finding people to step into leadership.
The church is about the people. It is not about the building, and it is not primarily about the pastors. Our role is simply to help equip all the saints of the church for ministry. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful leaders I get to work with.

Friends, this is our 90th anniversary. We have spent time this year looking back at God’s faithfulness over the years. What encourages me is that God continues to be faithful in the present. Paul concludes his word of thanks by saying. “ I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”
May the memories of God’s faithfulness in the past encourage us to know that he will be faithful as we move into the future.

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Responses

  1. Phil,

    You have an interesting blog here. It is absolutely lovely! I am amazed at how Catholic it is. I am a devout Roman Catholic and the Lord has inspired, hah, well more like nudged, prodded and pushed me to begin a ministry (in Catholic lingo that is an apostolate) which is ecumenical in nature. I really hated ecumenism as it seemed to me an exercise in tolerance which watered down our Christian convictions. I love, love our defined doctrines that the church prayed over and discerned for centuries before putting definitive parameters around they are so beautiful! The Catholic culture is so rich. I feel as though I am already standing at the wedding banquet when I attend mass. That said, the Lord challenged my love of His people, His creatures where ever they may be in this life’s journey. He desires unity, He prayed for our unity. We must be one in Him.
    The apostolate or ministry is named Voluntatae it’s latin for “By the will” meaning the will of God and man. It is an inreach to the inner city of Memphis TN and I believe He will bring it to other cities as well. It attempts to “inculturate” the Christian faith in the hearts of those who are truly “poor in spirit” and live as ones disenfranchised from their true heritage and dignity as children of God. This year I directed two Vacation Bible School’s in two churches which had never held them. We had about 40 children in each. The plan is to begin a Taize like center of spirituality here in Memphis. The Lord has given me Psalm 133. the term Ecce Quam Bonum “Behold how Good” as the Psalm says “Behold how good it is for brothers to dwell in unity.. for this is where the blessing of the Lord flows.”

    Also, one of the purposes of this community is to promote the idea of the Indwelling God to give a dignity to those whom the world seeks to take it from. This is all of us, for they see us carbon footprints, parasites to the earth. Pope Francis’s new encyclical many are calling an acquisition to environmentalism and yet they miss his point. He reminds us that we are given all these things as governors of them. We have a responsibility in our governership, all these things serve us as leaders and therefore it is we who are God’s crowned jewels not the foolishness of the world.
    Finally, I ask you to pray this ministry. One of the most important tenets of this ministry is reparation. The Lord showed me how there has been 10 million dollars dumped into a particular area in the inner city called Binghamptom. It was just recently the most crime-ridden area affectionately called Banghamptom for the gang activity and murders. Also, there is a large and active abortion clinic within the boundaries of this neighborhood. There is much blood on these streets and these people must be prayed for very much. I am asking people to devote an hour of prayer of worship of the Lord for reparation of all this murder that we might clean up this area spiritually because all that money has had little effect.

    Our website voluntatae.org will be up in the next couple months, please pray for this ministry.

    Your sister in Christ,
    Susie Lovato
    Memphis
    Founding Director of Voluntatae


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