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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ten Ways I Plan to Stay Inspired in 2016 - Pt. 1


1.  Stay crystal clear about my calling from God.   
          
As a 17-year-old, I heard the voice of God affirming my call into the ministry.  Now, 47 years later, there is still a certainty in my spirit that I am doing what God called me to do.  Furthermore, I have a peace that I am serving in the place where He wants me.  No doubts and no questions help me stay inspired.

2.  Make sure that I am leveraging the spiritual gifts that God has given me.

Time has proven that God has equipped me to lead, usually in places that need to be revitalized.  He also has gifted me as a motivational speaker and as an evangelist.  Regularly using these gifts helps me stay inspired.
2
3     3.  Make sure that the players on my team are inspiring people.

        I look for teammates who bring a positive emotional jolt every time that they walk into a room.    Their energy and enthusiasm encourages me.

4.  Make sure I read inspirational books.

Biographies of people who have overcome adversity and persevered are especially helpful.  The most recent biography I read was Rebel Yell.  It tells the story of Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.  Through reading, it was almost as if I were there.

5.  Make it a point to rub shoulders with exceptional, inspirational people.

We have all heard of VIPs--Very Important People
                                      VNPs--Very Nice People
                                       VDPs--Very Draining People
I look for EIPs--Exceptionally Inspiring People.  And I can rub shoulders in person through a CD or DVD or through a book!

To be continued...
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Friday, December 18, 2015

What I Want My Grandchildren to Know About Christmas



I want my grandchildren to know that 2,000 years ago Jesus, God's Son, came to earth.

Colossians 1:15-16 (ESV) And He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation.  For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.  All things have been created by Him and for Him.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus was more than a man; He was more than a good teacher, He was, in fact, God in the flesh.

I want my grandchildren to know that Christmas is a big deal; that it is the celebration of the birthday of Jesus Christ.  In a world where political correctness and assaults on Christianity are trying to drown out the Christmas story, the truth remains.  Jesus is a historical person and all of history is divided by the coming of Christ--B.C. - Before Christ, A. D. - 'After Death' (Anno Domini 'the year of our Lord').

I want my grandchildren to know that the gifts we give are symbols of the gifts the wisemen brought--gold, frankincense and myrrh--and that the ultimate gift is giving ourselves to Christ.

I want my grandchildren to know that the lights that shine everywhere at Christmas are symbols that remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.

I want my grandchildren to know that God took on the form of man.

He became one of us!
He came as a baby, born into the home of peasants.
He came to seek and save lost and hurting mankind.
He came to live among us and to develop a relationship with us.
He came to model how to love and how to live!

I want my grandchildren to know that God knows all about them.
He saw them before they were born.
He was there at their conception
And He has seen all that has happened to them.
He has answers to their questions,
and watches over them in the night.
He knows their futures and has a unique purpose and plan for them.

I want my grandchildren to know that God had a communication problem.  Sin had caused a great distance between God and man.  Jesus became one of us so that He could show us the way back to God--to restore our broken relationship.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus suffered as we suffer and experienced pain as we experience pain.

And He was lonely
                      tired
                        under pressure
                          tempted
                            disappointed
                              misunderstood
                                criticized

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus often sided with the underdog.
And looked after the oppressed.
He cared about their hurts, habits and hang-ups
and He loved the unlovable.

I want my grandchildren to know that He grew just as they are growing--
                   Spiritually
                     Physically
                       Emotionally
                         Mentally

He was tempted as they are tempted.
He had the same needs, drives, problems and pressures.

And the reason that Jesus did all of this was so that He could relate to boys and girls, men and women.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus has answers to the questions...
          Why am I here?
             Where did I come from?
                Is there any purpose in life?
                  Where am I going?

I want my grandchildren to know that they were created to be loved by God and that He wants a personal relationship with them--that He can forgive their sins and remove their guilt.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus came to ordinary people--
People of all nations, races, tribes and languages--

That He is not the God of a select few.
He isn't the God of the privileged class.
No, He came to all of us, including the lowly shepherds.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus was not born in a palace; He did not aspire to the lifestyle of the rich and famous.  He didn't want to be a billionaire and drive a Cadillac.  He wasn't born in a hospital.  His mother had no epidural.

I want my grandchildren to know that Jesus was born in a stable and then placed in a manger in the middle of dirt, feed, saliva and manure.

I want my grandchildren to know that angels were present on the night that Jesus was born and that the angelic choir sang heavenly songs telling of His birth.

I want my grandchildren to know that shortly after His birth a star hovered over Him and that wisemen--kings from the east--made a long trip to bring Him gifts and to worship Him.

I want my grandchildren to know that from the highest in society to the lowest, all were invited to bow and worship Him.  He wasn't born in a gated community but out in the open so that all could come, bow at His feet, worship Him and have a personal friendship with Him.

I want my grandchildren to understand that there is no greater calling than to find a place to share this message of Jesus with others, to be the hands of Jesus and the feet of Jesus in serving a world spinning madly out of control.

And I want my grandchildren to know that in the next world, a place of no sorrow, no sadness, no sin, no sickness, no problems and no tears--we, as a family, will be able to spend precious time with each other and the thousands of others that the James Gang has influenced for Christ.



Thursday, October 15, 2015

Vantage Pointe Consultation Report



                          October 2 - 4, 2015

STRENGTHS

  • Pastors Dean and Rosalie Brown:  Dean and Rosalie are leading this congregation to continued health as evidenced by the congregation’s commitment to the Great Commission, numerical growth and healthy, blossoming relationships between individuals and groups within the body of believers that constitute Vantage Pointe.
  • An Inviting Church:  Congregations grow as individuals within the congregation continually invite neighbors, friends, relatives and those with whom they work.  Such is happening with regularity. 
  • Commitment to the Community:  The congregation is outward focused and committed to serving the community.   A large portion of resources (people, money, energy, and time) are committed each year on serving those who do not attend the church (yet). 
  • Giving:  While still lagging behind other congregations in giving, this congregation is growing in Jesus’ teaching to give financially to His church and its ministry.  Many of the people are modeling generosity with their finances in obedience to Jesus Christ.
  • Ministry Focus:  As a young congregation, Vantage Point has not tried to do everything other congregations do. Instead, it has prioritized and focused its ministry efforts in doing a few things well.  It conducts excellent worship experiences each Sunday morning, serves babies and children well and focuses on helping new people get connected.  Such focus reflects great wisdom.

CONCERNS

  • Connecting to the Body:  While many are becoming new disciples of Jesus Christ, relatively few people are being baptized, connected to the congregation and mobilized for ministry.
  • Communicating the Mission and Vision:  While the mission and vision are clear to some of the leaders, its communication is not mobilizing the majority for effective ministry.
  • The Pastor’s Role:  As the congregation grows, the role of the lead pastor needs to change or he will become an unintentional hindrance to what God wants to do through the congregation.
  • Finances, Staffing and Facilities:  Growth brings with it good problems.  The current problems relate to the use of the facilities and staffing.  Such problems must be addressed now while there is still time or growth will be hindered and eventually stopped.
  • Making Disciples.  There is no clear definition of what a disciple of Jesus looks like in 2015 and no clear path at the church on how to become one.  


PRESCRIPTIONS

  • Connecting to the Body:  The Executive Staff and key persons from the Pointe Team will make several field trips to Fusion Community Church in Cobleskill, N.Y.  The purpose of these trips is to observe and learn the Fusion approach to assimilating people into the life of the church.  In addition, the team will learn how baptisms are conducted and how people are more quickly connected to the congregation through service opportunities and teams.  The pastor will contact Andrew Fetter, Pastor of Fusion, to establish dates and times for these observatory trips. 

Some of the Fusion behaviors and practices are only slightly different when compared to the Vantage Pointe behaviors.  However, these small differences can produce more effective results! Staff member Jeff Leland will be reassigned to become the Director of Assimilation and Small Groups.  By taking this additional key responsibility, Jeff will relinquish the duties of church treasurer.  The Executive Staff will determine the changes required for Vantage Pointe to implement behaviors that will fast track the assimilation process.  Calls to establish the schedule for learning trips will be completed by November 30, 2015 and the entire project, including the appointment of a new treasurer, will be completed by February 28, 2016.

  • Communicating the Mission and the Vision:  The Vantage Pointe congregation is falling into the same rut that multitudes of other congregations are experiencing; namely, a handful of people carry the major part of ministry responsibilities.  Ultimately, the lack of volunteers and the lack of commitment from the congregation is a mission/vision problem.  This lack of clarity and communication also affects the giving.  The problems are first addressed by stating the vision in a brief statement that focuses the congregation on how the mission and vision is going to change the community.                                                                                                               
 The leadership team will select two numbers: the first will represent those individuals who will be touched with the love of Christ; the second will represent the number of gospel presentations being given to individuals who have opportunity to accept Christ.  These numbers will be in place by January 31, 2016. 
          
The leader will begin to create urgency for the vision.  This will cause people to be dissatisfied with current reality.  As urgency grows, the pastor will help the congregation understand the needs of the community as perceived and communicated by community influencers.

The lead pastor will interview 12 of these influencers by August 1, 2016.  As he hears the stories of need in the community, he will present these stories to the congregation and show how God wants to use the congregation to address these needs.  The pastor will tell these stories by video and other media by January 31, 2016.

  • The Pastor’s Role:  If the lead pastor’s role does not change as the congregation grows, the congregation will stop growing. And, more importantly, the mission and vision will become lost.  The following is a description of the pastor’s major responsibilities:


·      Spiritual Leader:  Preach the Word and Promote Congregational Spirituality
·      Oversee the Mission, Create Urgency and Cast Vision (such requires the pastor to be in the community with community leaders)
·      Lead Staff and Hold them Accountable
·      Ministry Architect
·      Develop Leaders (those who are currently leaders and new leaders)
·      Develop Ministry Resources
·      Meet with Four Kinds of People
·      Unbelievers
·      People New to the Church
·      Leaders and Potential Leaders
·      People within the Community
           
The above will become the pastor’s job description by January 1, 2016

The lead pastor must create and sustain a culture of leadership development.  His first assignment is to identify and develop a group of three to four adults to lead the youth ministry as volunteers.   These youth workers will be identified by December 15, 2015 and the pastor will meet twice a month during 2016, to train them in leadership and youth ministry skills. 

The leadership development aspect of the pastor’s role is crucial.  The lead pastor will make sure that goals, responsibilities, authority and accountability are a part of all leadership team meetings - no exceptions.  During the Point Team and Executive Staff meetings, leaders will report the stats and stories of the lay leaders they have met with that week or month.  Growth cannot and will not be sustained if leaders are not developed and challenged to develop other leaders serving their respective ministries.

  •       Finances, Staffing and Facilities:  The pastor will challenge the congregation to examine its stewardship in order to adequately fund the mission and vision of Vantage Pointe.  In addition, he shall lead the congregation in a capital stewardship campaign to raise $100,000 for staffing and facilities.


The following staffing adjustments will be made going forward: 

·      Hire a part-time administrative assistant by January 15, 2016
·      Reassign Pastor Jeff Leland to Director of Assimilation and Connection by December 1, 2015.
·      Remunerate the Director of VP Kids for two days a week to enable her to commit more time to her ministry commitments by January 1, 2016.
·      Adjust the job description of the Director of Worship Ministries by December 1, 2015
·      Set aside funds for training lay ministry teams by March 1, 2016

In addition, the congregation will borrow up to $100,000 from WIF to add to the capital campaign funds to upgrade the facilities.  Some, but not all of the upgrades, will be:

o   Remove the balcony, kitchen and storage closet
o   Add a modern kitchen/cafĂ© that serves both the foyer and worship center
o   Expand the current rest rooms
o   Replace flooring throughout the building
o   Add modern accent colors
o   Develop an Adirondack theme throughout the building
o   Expand the VP Kids wing
o   Install a restroom in the VP Kid’s wing
o   Add a portable check-in station for children
o   Add decorative lights to the foyer and worship center
o   Expand and raise the platform
o   Cut trees that hinder visibility
o   Remove the flag pole
o   Landscape the front of the church
o   Add modern banners inside and out
o   Modernize windows
o   Address the ice dam issues

  • Make Disciples:  the leaders will, in the next twelve to eighteen months, establish clear expectations of what a disciple of Jesus Christ is at Vantage Pointe.  Once these criteria are set, the leaders will develop strategies to help people effectively implement these expectations into their daily living experiences.  The leaders will then establish ways to evaluate and track the effectiveness of the strategies.  The entire process will be initiated by September 1, 2016.    

           
THOSE WHO REGULARLY ATTEND THE SERVICES AT VANTAGE POINTE WILL VOTE ON THIS REPORT AND ITS PRESCRIPTIONS BY EITHER ACCEPTING OR REJECTING THE REPORT AND ITS PRESCRIPTIONS.  THIS VOTE WILL OCCUR BY NOVEMBER 8, 2015.  IF ACCEPTED, THE DISTRICT WILL HELP THE PASTOR AND CONGREGATION LOCATE A COACH THAT WILL LEAD THEM IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRESCRIPTIONS IN THIS REPORT.  IF REJECTED, THIS PROCESS IS OVER SINCE THE CONGREGATION WILL HAVE SPOKEN.

Submitted by:

Dr. Paul D. Borden
Rev. Paul James
Rev. Andrew Fetter

 Rev. Floyd McCallum Jr.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Generous Living

Recently, we have been discussing the subject of generous living in some of our pastors' events.  Let me share with you a story that illustrates that God does bless generous giving and living.

Last spring, the District Transformation team visited the Niskayuna Wesleyan Church for a weekend consultation.  Part of the prescription was to close the church building during renovation, spend two months having Church-in-the-Park, change the name and relaunch in October with a 'renewed focus on making more disciples'.

The Fusion Community Church of Cobleskill generously offered assistance to this sister church throughout these months of transition.  They organized work teams to help with the renovations.  They sent 25 - 30 people to help with the ministries and to aid in developing critical mass for the relaunch.  And the missionaries, as they were called, were encouraged to direct their tithe to helping this new Kingdom endeavor.

The result...  Awaken Church (the name of the relaunched Niskayuna Wesleyan Church) was greatly blessed by the prayers, love, energy, skills, services and finances of this group from Fusion.  During the two-month period, Awaken received $800 per week that normally would have gone to Fusion.  There were no complaints from Fusion.  They were all in and although things were tight with this group and their wallets missing, they believed that generous, Kingdom-minded living was absolutely the way to go.

One Sunday in the early fall, Fusion had an unusual impromptu baptism service.  Thirty-three individuals, some who had been putting off baptism for a long time, came forward and were baptized.  This may have been, one old-timer told me, the single most outpouring of God's Spirit that this church has had in 50 years.

Last week, I received this email from Fusion's treasurer...

Pastor Paul, What a great God we serve!  His blessings are too incredible to even contain in my little head at times. With quite a few of our better tithers at Awaken over the last 2 months things have been a little tight for us, but our God is faithful beyond measure! Today in our offering we received a check for $11,800.00!!!!!  Total for the week was $22,600!  Attendance was 413.  Praise Him!!  Andrew continued on the series with another great message that really spoke to most everyone.  We are so privileged to be blessed by him as our leader! Wes

Was God's smile of blessing on this church a result of generous living.  The pastor and people at Fusion certainly think so.  And so do I!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Day of Repentance

Often, during a DTP consultation, the revitalization team prescribes for a church to have a service of repentance.  During the service, the pastor leads the entire congregation as they prayerfully ask for forgiveness for the sin of self-centeredness and disobedience to the Great Commission.  This blog outlines one of the more effective services of this nature that I have been a part of.

The Niskayuna Wesleyan Church is located in a suburb of Albany, NY.  Half a million people live within twenty-five minutes of their property.  Thousands of cars go by daily!

In 2013-14, the church averaged 68 in the Sunday Morning Worship Service.  Josh and Jess Woods, thirty-somethings, answered the call to lead this congregation.  They arrived in August 2013.  The repentance service that follows was put together by Josh, and it took place on June 8, 2014.

Just after the service, the church property was shut down to undergo a facelift.  Services were moved to the Central Park in Schenectady.  During the two months of mobile worship, the core was challenged to relaunch under an other name--Awaken (www.awakenchurchny.org), with revitalized purpose and passion.  A neighboring church, Fusion Community Church, is sending 40 missionaries to aid in this relaunch.

Preview services start on September 21, 2014, with the ReLaunch Sunday scheduled for October 12, 2014.

------------------------------------------------

The Heart of Repentance:                                                                               
June 7, 2014
Message Outline
Preached by Rev. Josh Woods

Intro:

·       Matthew 5:13-16
God has called us to be salt and light. This was a completely radical concept as was the rest of the sermon on the mount. He was speaking to a group of people who hearing this for the first time did not understand their roles in Gods kingdom. Jesus laid it out very simply; you are to be salt and light.

·       He explained it another way in Matthew 28:19-20. He said you are to make disciples of all nations. You are to be salt and light and you are to make disciples of all people.

·       He also called the first disciples, who were fisherman, to follow Him. His first instructions for them were to lay down their nets, but it wasn’t to quit fishing, it was to change the scope of their fishing. They would now learn how to fish for people.

·       A man named Saul was walking along a road to Damascus and was suddenly thrown off his ride and made blind. Then he went from being a Jesus persecutor to a Jesus follower in one moment. If you are a Jesus follower in this room, how many of you came to know Jesus that way?? Didn’t think so.

·       The really cool thing about the kingdom of God is that we have been given a calling as a church. we have received a calling to be salt and light, fish for people, make disciples. Jesus didn’t have to include us in this, but He did. This is a responsibility we have to take seriously.

·       The problem is…….as a church in our location we haven’t been faithful to the calling we have received. We haven’t been these things consistently over the last 20 years and we have to understand what business we need to be in. We are in the soul winning business. We are in the business of seeing people far from God radically transformed by his grace. We are in the business of seeing hearts awakened to Christ.

IF WE WERE IN ANY OTHER BUSINESS WE WOULD HAVE BEEN CLOSED DOWN FOR LACK OF PRODUCTIVITY

Today we are here to repent for our unfaithfulness to the calling God has given us. Before we pray, let’s talk about what it means to repent before God. There are four aspects to repentance that we need to talk about before we pray


I.               We have to own our disobedience

In our culture we have a tendency to avoid responsibility for our actions. In some ways it’s almost celebrated, even in the church. We come by it honestly however. Look back to the early chapters of Genesis. God gave Adam and Eve responsibility and one rule. If you’ve been in church any time at all you know how the story goes. Check it out in Genesis 3: 7-13. (In verse 12 rewrite to where Adam says “ Yes I did and I take full responsibility for my actions, leave Eve out of this, she is innocent”.) But the reality is that He started playing the blame game. He blamed both the woman and God. Then Eve blamed the serpent.

That cannot be our posture; that is the opposite of repentance. Contrast that to the attitude David took in Psalm 51.

We have to own our disobedience, we can’t blame anyone else. It is on us.

II.              Our heart has to be in it
My kids often will get into arguments that sometime turn into fights. They are pastor’s kids. Whenever we get in that situation we often want to discuss the issue with them very calmly and try to offer what we are supposed to do when we argue. We ask them to ask each other for forgiveness and forgive each other. It turns into a quick sorry from each. And they are back to what they are doing.

Did they really mean that they are sorry it did they say it to get out of trouble?

In order to fully repent we must put our heart into it. God isn’t looking for us to say I’m sorry, He is looking for us to be truly repentant.

III.            There is Grace for us
2nd Chronicles 7:14
When we repent, God answers. God forgives.

It would be very easy for us to just move forward from this moment and take a new direction, but forgiveness must come first. We have to have grace before we can get back to our new direction.

He is faithful to forgive even when we have been unfaithful. This was Israel’s cycle throughout the Old Testament

IV.            We must turn from our disobedience
This means we are going to go a new direction.

We are no longer going to be content to be inward focused, making decisions that are best for everyone already here. We are going to make decisions with all we have to reach those who aren’t here that are far from God.

We are not content to be ok with a “good enough” mentality any longer. Our facilities and ministry have to be done with excellence from this point forward.

We are no longer content to let the thousands of people far from God in our city and community stay that way. Today we are asking God to break our hearts for these people. We are going to pray that we are broken to the point that it consumes everything that we do. People far from God need to be awakened to life in Christ.

Conclusion:
God has called us to be salt and light, make disciples and be fishers of people. We have been disobedient to that calling. Today we take a posture of true repentance and come before God seeking forgiveness for our unfaithfulness. We turn a new direction and we are going to see hearts awakened to life through this church.

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(Song sung by Carrie Hulse)... 

GRACE
By: Laura Story

My heart is so proud. My mind is so unfocused.
I see the things You do through me as great things I have done.
And now You gently break me, and I cry just like a baby
You hold me as my father and mold me as my maker.

[Chorus:]
I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,
When I keep on letting you down?
And each time I will fall short of Your glory,
How far will forgiveness abound?"
And You answer: "My child, I love you.
And as long as you're seeking My face,
You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."

At times I may grow weak and feel a bit discouraged,
Knowing that someone, somewhere could do a better job.
For who am I to serve You? I know I don't deserve You.
And that's the part that burns in my heart and keeps me hanging on.

[Chorus:]
I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,
When I keep on letting you down?
And each time I will fall short of Your glory,
How far will forgiveness abound?"
And You answer: "My child, I love you.
And as long as you're seeking My face,
You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."

You are so patient with me, Lord.

As I walk with You, I'm learning what Your grace really means.
The price that I could never pay was paid at Calvary.
So, instead of trying to repay You, I'm learning to simply obey You
By giving up my life to you For all that You've given to me.

[Chorus:]
I ask you: "How many times will you pick me up,
When I keep on letting you down?
And each time I will fall short of Your glory,
How far will forgiveness abound?"
And You answer: "My child, I love you.
And as long as you're seeking My face,
You'll walk in the power of My daily sufficient grace."

--------------------------------------------------------------


Repentance Prayer by 
Diane Stum

Thank you that you are forgiving and that despite all our failures, our inadequacies and our disobedience, you desire to use us to reach people.   Thank you that you care so much for us and so much for the people in our community.  God, we truly believe that you have put us here in this place and that you desire to use us so that people far from you can come to know you.  So, we ask that you would give us your vision to love and serve our community. 

We ask that you would open doors and give us opportunities to love people, to serve them and to share you with them in our larger community.  That you would make us a place that people in the capital district know, respect and want to partner with. 

We pray that you would use us in Niskayuna.  That people who drive down Balltown Road everyday would know that our church is here because we are active in the community.  That they would recognize us as a place that loves and serves.  We ask that you would use us in the community.  That you would open doors for us to partner with our town and other community organizations.  That we would be eager to serve them and they would be eager to receive help from us.  When the community has needs we ask that you would bring us to their minds – we want to be known as a group that serves and serves well and is an asset to the community.  Give us the desire to serve and to serve well.  Pray that you would go before us and that you would help us to make connections with people in leadership in the town and in the community, and that they would desire to receive help from us and partner with us in Niskayuna.  We pray that you would open doors for that to happen and that you would give us the desire to take those opportunities and the resources and drive that we need to do that well. 

Pray that you would open doors in the schools in Niskayuna and other neighborhoods.  That you would provide for us opportunities to serve there and to be a positive force in the schools.  Pray that you would break any barriers that prevent us from serving there and that you would make the right connections for us so that we could be a group that the schools look to when they need help.  

We pray that you would help us to build strong friendships with people in our community.  That you connect us with people and that our friendship would make an impact on their life.  That you would provide opportunities for us to love friends with no strings attached and that people would see Your love as we live life alongside them.

God, It’s overwhelming to think of the responsibility we have to share you with our community.  It’s overwhelming to know how many people are far from you.  In the past few months, we have seen how very fragile life is and how very quickly and shockingly life on this Earth can end.  I know without a doubt that when Zach’s life on Earth ended, his life in Heaven with you Jesus began (Diane's 34-year old husband, Zach, died just a couple of months before the consultation).  But, God, we can’t have that confidence for the majority of our community.  Break our hearts for those people far from you and guide our steps as we seek to love our community and share you with them.   There are so many opportunities to serve and so we ask that you would help us.  That you would give us your eyes to see where we can have the most impact and where you desire us to serve.  Pray that you would direct us, that you would guide us and that you would use us as you lead us.  Show us where you want us to serve, what opportunities you would have us take advantage of and give us the desire to obey you and the strength and endurance to serve you by serving our community.

We thank you for the resources that you have blessed us with.  Thank you for giving us a location with such potential.  Thank you for placing us on a busy road where we have the potential to be so visible.  Help us to use that wisely and to really make an impact in our community. 

Thank you that we have a district that believes you will use us in this community and that is enabling us to fulfill our vision.  Thank you for the leadership and wisdom from the DTP that is helping us to take this new direction that you have called us to.  Thank you for providing that.  Thank you that the district believes in us enough to provide funding and resources to us.  Help us to be good stewards of that and to use those resources wisely.  As we make decisions about how to use resources like money and work crews who want to help us, guide us to what will make the most impact on our community for you.   

Thank you for bringing Josh and Jess here and that they were willing to take a huge risk because they believe in you and they believe you want to use this church to reach Niskayuna, the capital district and beyond.  Thank you for the vision and experience they bring and for giving them the courage to follow you here in obedience. 

Thank you for the people in our church.  Give us your wisdom, guide us as we take this new direction.  Help us to be obedient and to serve in the ways that you have called us.  Pray that you would clearly call us to serve in the areas we are gifted in and that we would serve well.  Give us the desire to serve, the boldness to step out of our comfort zone when we need to, and the strength and obedience we need to do what you have called us to do – to love our community and to share you with them by loving and serving them well. 

Jesus thank you that you love us.  Help us to share that love with those around us in our community.  We pray for our friends and neighbors – that you would become real to them and that they would know your love for them in a very real way.

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Repentance Prayer by
Allie Ardrey

Heavenly Father, we come before you today in a spirit of repentance.  We acknowledge before you that, at times, we have been disobedient, at times we have ignored You and the call You have placed upon us as a church.  We are here today to repent and to embrace the calling that You have placed on us to take Your name into the world and make disciples of all nations.

We acknowledge that we have not been completely faithful to the calling we received.  We acknowledge before you that we have not been as focused on our community as we ought to have been.  We have witnessed our community grow around us.  We have witnessed thousands of people far from you move into our city, and we confess that we have not been faithful in showing them Your Son, Jesus.  We confess that we have not been faithful in building relationships.  We confess that we have not relentlessly sought to bring the lost to You.  We confess that we have not become an overwhelming presence in our community; a beacon of light so that people can see You and enter a life-changing relationship with You.

We confess that we have not been faithful in fulfilling the Great Commission.  We are guilty of not making disciples in our community and of being inward focused instead of focused on the people around us who are far from God .  We seek forgiveness for not showing those people what it means to have a life-changing relationship with You.  As we are gathered here this today, we think of relationships that we have with friends, family, co-workers, and classmates.  There are so many people in our lives who are far from You.  God, forgive us for not leveraging our relationships to tell people about Your life-changing grace.  Forgive us for not seeking with all our hearts a way to show them that your love and mercy can awaken them to new Life.  And forgive us for not daily being in prayer for open doors and opportunities to tell our community that You are alive and that You care about them.

God, we seek forgiveness for not being involved in our schools.  We have not sought opportunities to get involved in our local schools nor used our resources and time to effectively make an impact on local education.  We seek forgiveness for not using our student and children's ministries to reach children and teens effectively who are far from You.  For the thousands of young people around us who desperately need a relationship with Jesus, we ask for Your forgiving grace for not pursuing them.

Father, we confess before You that we have not leveraged our property and facilities to show our community who You are.  We have let our grounds, building, and parking lot become outdated and, in some cases, run down.  It is not a good representation of You to our community.  We literally have thousands of different people drive by our church property every day and they don't even know that we are here, or who You are.  We seek forgiveness for not being faithful with our property.

Jesus, we confess before You that we have not leveraged our finances to fulfill the Great Commission.  We have, at times, been very inward focused and worried about the people already here as opposed to the people around us who desperately need Jesus.  Forgive us for our disobedience.

God, we come before You, seeking forgiveness for our unfaithfulness, even though You have always been faithful to us.  We own our disobedience.  God, forgive us for not being faithful in making disciples of all people around us.  Forgive us that our desire has been more focused on ourselves than on people far from God.  We are seeking You fresh and anew today.  We believe that there is grace when we turn from our unfaithfulness.  We believe that you are faithful to forgive, and that when turn to You with all our hearts, You are there and will hear our prayer of repentance.  God, forgive us, as a church, and show us Your mercy and grace.

In Jesus' Name we pray,
Amen