11.3.2020 + Encourage One Another + No. 9
My name is Mark Blincoe, and I would like to share some of the reasons why I love you as a congregation. I did not grow up at Northpoint but cherish those who have the opportunity to serve in the church that helped raise them in the faith. My family moved to Corona eight years ago, and we eventually found our way to Northpoint. So many people have already expressed some of the ways I view our church: love for the Word of God, fellowship, service, discipleship, perseverance, or fortitude in suffering, to name only a few of the ways we reflect God’s love. It is who we are as a congregation—the way we engage in ministry and fellowship together, that encourages me and renews my sense of service to God and his church.
Here are an additional five things that I love about Northpoint:
1. Heart for Worship
Hebrews 13:15 states that we should “Continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” It should go without saying that we are passionate about our worship of God. I have served in music ministry since I was a child, and one of the things that drew me to Northpoint was our congregation’s fervent desire to lift up songs of praise to the Lord. Even greater is that we seek to worship the Lord beyond the musical praises we offer on Sunday mornings. We engage in the worship of God through our prayers, uplifting the Lord’s majesty and grace as we give thanks and seek his blessings in our lives. I have seen this heart for worship in congregational meetings, as members of the congregation remind us that the glory of God is central to all that we do.
Until 2016, I would not have considered the spiritual gift of hospitality even close to the top five ways I express love and gratitude to our church. It is not a spiritual gift that normally drives my service to God (my wife better reflects this one). But, in May of that year, I entered the hospital with acute heart failure and received a transplant in June. The outpouring of love shown to my family was above and beyond what I had expected, especially when we had only been attending Northpoint regularly for a little more than a year. However, since that time, I have paid more attention to hospitality, and we fully embody the spirit of 1 Peter 4:8-9: “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Anyone served by the church in a time of need can attest to this, but let me give two very recent examples of how God bestows the gift of hospitality to our congregation. First, this summer, we showed an outpouring of love to the first responders who serve in our church during this time of crisis. Second, we have been demonstrating an outpouring of love to our neighboring congregations through prayers on Sunday morning. While neither of these should seem unique, our congregation lives out its faith in hospitality toward others in ways I have not experienced before.
Speaking of praying for other congregations. … We are a prayerful congregation. Philippians 4:6 instructs us “not [to be] anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” We make our intentionality toward prayer known every week. It is an essential feature of the “green cards” that we announce every service. We also have a prayer team ready to pray with individuals after each service as well. What encourages me is that this group includes members of the congregation BEYOND our pastoral leadership. You may or may not be aware, but our church website has a prayer wall where people can post prayer requests for themselves or others. Each request has a button that you can press, acknowledging your prayers for those individuals. This is only one way our church extends the practice of prayer to each other and for each other.
Others have highlighted parallels to patience, perseverance, and fortitude, but I have chosen patience as a reflection of an area that I have sought God to improve in me over the years and an attribute that our church encourages in me. I have surprised some people recently when I have commented that I have not always been a patient person. It reflects God’s work in me, allowing me to become more patient. Serving on the Pastor Search Committee has certainly renewed for me God’s call for patience in his work to fulfill his ministry in our church. Psalm 27:14 comments that we should “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” More encouraging is the way members of our congregation have taken this to heart. Several members have commented to me since our recommended candidate for executive pastor withdrew his candidacy, that the right candidate will come to our church at the right time. This is a patient reliance on the Lord that extends beyond the pastoral search of 2020. It goes back to the pastoral challenges we have faced since at least the spring of 2018. Even more broadly, COVID-19 has the ability to stretch everyone’s patience with God and his church. I take heart that our congregation will be encouraged by Scripture to patiently wait on the Lord.
5. Reflecting the Body of Christ
I am encouraged that we are the body of Christ. This, more than anything, is why I love our congregation. Romans 12:4-5 states: “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” We are an intergenerational church that recognizes our connection to the past while preparing disciples to make disciples for the future. The members of our church come from a variety of Christian backgrounds. Some were raised at Northpoint or, more broadly, come from an Evangelical Free Church. Others were raised in different Protestant denominations: Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists. Even others were raised in the Catholic Church and have since “converted” and joined Northpoint. It encourages me that we recognize our connection to other churches by joining in activities like the Walk (or drive) for Life and prayers for our neighboring churches. Moreover, the diversity and strength of our ministries reflect the broad array of spiritual gifts that can only come from a congregation that represents the body of Christ.