Archive for ‘Updates about The Body’

October 10, 2011

Gratitude

by pastortimfowler

Yesterday in my series on Foundations of Our Faith, I preached about gratitude. It was one of the most rewarding Sundays that I have experienced in a while. For me to say that and you to get the understanding of it is difficult, because I am extremely blessed to pastor this church and every Sunday is rewarding. We average seeing 3-5 people each week come to know Jesus for the first time and the people who call this their home church are incredible in their pursuit of true Christianity. They love each other and they make those who come for the first time feel like they are welcome and like they can be themselves. They are unashamed to invite folks who don’t “do church” to come because they will not feel like an outsider or treated as if they are another notch in our cross or something like that.
So what was so special about this Sunday? I have to say that I am not sure that I can articulate it in a way that everyone will understand, but I will try. One thing that happens every week that freaks me out, is that people really listen to what I am saying. That shouldn’t be weird, but I have preached in churches where I thought that I was all alone and the building was full. But there was a different atmosphere this week. Every week these guys listen and I am thankful, but not only were they listening this week, but they were responding with understanding . When our praise band finished their last song, just before we did baptisms, the band was called back for an encore. Sure I may have started it, but the feeling was real. Then instead of people rushing out to get home, they all stayed as we baptized 12 people. It was funny to watch folks jockeying for position to take pictures and videos and then to see them posted on Facebook by the time I got home. We had kids as young as 8 and adults as old as 40 getting baptized for the first time and even had a whole family get baptized. It was fun. It was not a religious experience, it was a family affair. No one rushed out after the baptisms were through, most everyone stayed to clean up water, hug wet people, and laugh about the fact that we need higher ceilings so that we could flick lighters next week when they call the band back for another encore. The whole thing even spilled over to today, as I checked out Facebook and Twitter to see people posting how they were grateful for one thing or another.
It is experiences like this that make you grateful to be a Christian and for me to be a pastor. I have always taught that God does not want us to have religion, but rather He wants us to have a relationship. First, He wants a relationship with us, then He wants us to have a relationship with each others. I know that there are churches everywhere that say they have that type relationship, but I really think ours is special. Yep, I am a bit prejudice, but it is true. We don’t just hang out together on Sundays, but we hang out all throughout the week. Last week, about 30 women from our church spent the weekend at the beach together and skipped church. Something tells me they were more like what God intends the church to be during that time than most people an any given Sunday. Friday and Saturday of this week there were 9 of the guys took off for a motorcycle ride around the perimeter of South Carolina for no other reason than to hang out with each other and have some fun.
To wrap up Sunday, after our evening Bible study, about 20 of us went to eat at IHOP. Moms, dads, kids, pastors and lay people, just eating and laughing. Nothing organized, nothing fancy, but everything about it screamed, “we love each other”. The Bible says that people will know that we are disciples of Jesus by the way we love one another. I think people know this about our church, and although I have felt this for a while, this Sunday it all just seemed to come together in every way.
Nothing says you believe in what you are doing better than having a grateful heart and showing that heart to others. That is what made it all so special: gratitude.

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October 3, 2011

Could It Get Better?

by pastortimfowler

Incredible would be the best word I could use to describe this past weekend. Our church had its annual lady’s retreat and about 30 of our ladies spent the weekend in Tybee Island, Ga. From the pictures I saw on Facebook and the short conversations that I had with my wife, they had a great time and I am sure once I hear the details it will only get better.
Of course when I talk about 30 women being away for the weekend, that meant that they are away from our church too. On most Sunday mornings we will have about 140 people attending and that includes an average of about 30 kids also. So if you take 30 people away from our normal Sunday morning it is noticed simply by looking at the crowd size. But we notice it even more because many of these ladies serve in our church in vital areas. Children’s director, teachers, greeters, check in stations for kids, just to name a few. Add to the ladies being away the fact that we had our audio/video guy and his wife out and about 12 other folks who were away, and it was really noticed that people were missing.
I have to say that rarely do we have people who just lay out of church. The folks here have taken an ownership in what God is doing and for whatever weird reasons, they seem to enjoy coming. Mostly because people find God here, but secondly, they have real friends that come here. Not just people we see once a week, but people that we hang out with and have a real relationship with. So I am not the type of pastor who has to guilt people when they are away and usually when they are away it is for a good reason, not just laziness and lack of desire to come. Have I told you lately that I am a very blessed pastor? God has allowed me to serve a bunch of folks who are real and excited about knowing God.
With so many people away this Sunday I was expecting the worst. Although my wife assured me that things were well taken care of, I couldn’t help but be skeptical. All the other people who were gone had also assured me that they had things covered and that nothing would be missed. They were right. Although the people were missed, things went over without a hitch. I was so amazed, and I really shouldn’t be. That is just what kind of church I serve.
I also thought that because so many of the regular folks were out that the crowd would be rather puny, but it wasn’t. Sure those who are here regularly could tell that people were missing, but only because we knew who they were. We had plenty of folks and if those 40 plus people had shown up we would have been near capacity. Boy, listen to me whine.
My sermon this week was on using grace as the foundation to build your Christianity on. Grace is favor given, not earned. God just loves us and when we seek Him, He gives us grace and therefore we have favor in His sight. Being in His good grace is a special thing that anyone can experience, but sadly too many people don’t because they pervert who God is. God is love, not someone waiting to crush you like a bug when you screw up. Sure, if you continue to deny Him and never ask for His favor, He can and probably will prove He is able to squash you like a bug, but that is not His goal. His grace is an awesome thing that allows us a very personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.
Because of God’s grace, six people became God’s children this weekend. It is not uncommon for our church to see 3 or 4 people each week trust God, but this week with a lot of folks gone, God showed us that He never misses hanging out with people who welcome Him. As we were finishing our morning worship time I informed people that we would be filling the horse trough for baptisms next Sunday because there were 2 or 3 people who had asked about it. As the day progress and we came back for the evening Bible study, about 12 more people had contacted me about getting baptized next week. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see 20 people baptized next Sunday.
If you don’t consider yourself a Christian, maybe you find this hard to get excited about. But it is what God gets excited about. He is not excited about money or buildings or how important a person thinks they are. God is excited about people knowing about His great love and sharing it with others. So if you are not a Christian, first let me thank you for reading my blogs. Secondly, if you live in the Rock Hill SC area, come next week and see all these baptisms and meet some people who will be surprisingly a lot like you. Either way, the first visit is free and if you don’t like it you don’t have to come back.
But WOW!!! This was an incredible weekend. I will be so glad to get my wife home and all those ladies who serve all over our church. They should be really stoked for next weekend. Holy Kaw! Next weekend could be better than this one!

July 28, 2011

It Is Not The Quotations Marks

by pastortimfowler

Lately I have had this feeling that something “big” was going to happen soon at my church. I have always felt that our church was special, and not just because most of the people who make up our church are “special” (please notice the quotation marks). I hope that I don’t have to explain what I mean by that. We are called The Body, A Church for Anybody, and, wow, we have gotten the “anybodys” (notice quotation marks again). I really don’t know why quotation marks make things mean something different, but it does.

 I have never had the feeling of our church growing into a “mega” church in the sense of building a place that seats thousands. I have always felt that it would be more in the lines of several worship times, all of them not being more that 200-300 people. This keeps it intimate and allows for us to really know the folks we worship with. My ultimate dream is to have to pick a day to close the church. If you think about it, we really have it backwards. We pick one day a week to open the church. In today’s busy world, there are some folks who just can’t come on Sunday at 11am. And, there are certainly enough people in Rock Hill SC to fill my church with a different group several times a day, several days a week.
As of right now, we are only at the point of our 10:30am Sunday morning worship time being almost full and talking about our next time that we will need. I believe that once we get past the second meeting time that things will accelerate and we will add new times more often. I am not convinced that starting the new worship time is the “big thing” that is going to happen soon. I do believe that it is going to happen and that our vision is a good one.
I visited several churches on the past year that are using multiple locations. I love the idea because they first used the multiple time idea and outgrew what they do in one location. Some of them are meeting on Saturday and Thursday in addition to the Sunday times, but no one has gone to the point of having to pick a day to close the church because they need a day off. That might be a “fantasy” and too big of a dream, but I was always told to dream and dream so that it could only happen if God was in it.
There are many churches today who are realizing that “typical” church activities are not what we need. They are doing what is needed to reach the younger generation and are doing it well. I hear some folks talking down about how they have gone overboard and are acting like “the world” in order to fill their churches. Sadly, those who are complaining have very few young people in their churches and probably never will. I have a saying when I counsel couples that I like to use to help them not argue as much. I tell them that “different” is not wrong. It can be, but usually isn’t. Jesus was very different and the “religious” crowd did not like Him, so these churches that I see growing with young people in explosive ways should feel pretty good.
So what is this “big” thing that I feel that God is doing? I wish I could say I was 100% sure, but I am not. But here is what I think it is. God is working inside me, not just around me. He is showing me truths that allow me to see Him and not just the things He does. There is nothing wrong about telling people about what God is doing, but too often they forget about what He did and therefore forget about God. When we see Him with everything that happens, we begin to look for Him in everything else that happens. Our goal as Christians is to see Him face to face one day, not only to see what God is doing. If we see Him, we will not only see what He is doing, but we are likely to be doing it with Him. That is exciting!
To all you “special” people at The Body, hang on! God has something in store. I see Him when I see you guys loving folks the way you do. I see Him when I read your facebook posts and tweets. I see Him when you welcome our guests and they come back. I see Him when you meet the needs of someone who is without and encourage those who are down. The “big thing” that will happen will happen because God is “in the house” not just because we are. So thanks to you all for showing God in what you do.
I am waiting eagerly to see how thing progress. If you are not part of a church somewhere that you can see God when you attend, or if you are not part of a church at all, I encourage you to find that place where He is there and “jump in with both feet”. Nothing is more exciting than “hanging out” with God!
Thanks for reading this. I hope you understood and enjoyed the use of “quotation marks” today. They just seemed to add something special. But in life it is God, not the “quotation marks”, that make things special.

February 13, 2011

Stay tuned for important information!

by pastortimfowler

As we rebuild our website I am excited to get back to posting a few blogs and sharing some thoughts on how God is working in and through our church. I also have the same excitement as my wife JoAnne will be sharing in the duties. She is an incredibly insightful person with a heart for God and His people.
God is doing some incredible things at The Body and I would love to have you be part of it. Stay tuned for important information!

Pastor Tim