4 Churches / 5 Campuses / 6 Services

This past weekend, I had many of you email me and text me asking where I was. Each year I get away for a time to pray over and plan out future sermons. I’ve done this in many locations over the years - a cabin in the mountains in Tennessee, a lake house, on a college campus, God has always been so good leading us where He wants us to go. But every week, the texts and sermons we preach at Forum arise out of this endeavor. It’s a great joy and simultaneously a great challenge.

I changed it up this year by going to Phoenix, AZ. My son, Parker, is doing his MA out there working in a residency program with Christ Church of the Valley. Over 30,000 people gather weekly to worship the Lord connected to that ministry.

Further, I have many friends who lead megachurches in that area. So (being the compulsive person that I am), this past Saturday and Sunday I attended 6 different church services at 4 different ministries on 5 different church campuses (Christ Church of the Valley - Avondale Campus, Chandler Christian Church, Central Christian Church - Gilbert Campus, The Grove - Chandler Campus, CCV Midtown Campus, and then back to CCV - Avondale Campus).  All of these are thriving and growing churches.

After the experience, I made some observations that I think you’ll find interesting:

  1. The Sunday morning services I attended (except for the super early service) were packed houses.
  2. The parking lots were jammed and it was hard to find a space.
  3. The Bible was being taught with relevance.
  4. The “you are loved and welcomed here” attitudes are evident.
  5. Facilities were designed with families in mind. Outdoor play areas, courtyards, outdoor basketball courts in between some of the buildings, as well as small cafes, were all part of the ministries. I will admit - I am very jealous of the open campuses that churches in the south, the southwest, and California can do. Our weather simply isn’t conducive for that.
  6. The kingdom of God is advancing.

I hope most of this sounds familiar because it’s also what God is doing here at Forum. Church health. Church growth. The Bible being taught. A desire to reach people. Vision. God uses His church - His kingdom - to advance the saving message of Jesus Christ.

This Sunday we continue talking about His Story. We’ll explore one of the most important yet under talked about realities in the kingdom of God. Specifically, we’re focusing on God’s Holy Spirit. There’s so much misunderstanding connected to this part of God and how God lives in us.

It’s time change Sunday - which is actually one of my personal favorite Sundays. I know we “lose” an hour of sleep (not if you go to bed an hour earlier) as we spring forward. But “spring forward” implies spring.

I love the metamorphosis and change of spring. That which is dormant comes alive. That with latent potential (seeds, bulbs, etc.) comes to life. Change is all around us. Reminds me of coming alive in Christ and His transformative power at work in us. Looking forward to another great Sunday. 

God At Work

I want to give a shout out for David Buster (chairman), our elders, and the design team who have worked so diligently over the past months to move us towards ground breaking. Many of you have asked me over the past weeks when we will break ground and the answer is, “As soon as we can.”

We hit a design concern and our elders and staff put in a bunch of extra hours this past month with the builder and architect to get us finalized with plans. We’ll be getting full approval over the next weeks and once that happens, we’ll be breaking ground.

I also want to highlight what a great job Blake Cohea did last Sunday opening up God’s word for us this past weekend. Many of you emailed and texted me both affirming that, as well as phrases like, “What a great staff Forum has.” and “God is doing great things at Forum.”

I fully agree. Each week I see the Lord shaping and changing us.

This Sunday we’re going to focus in on the importance of keeping our focus and connection with Jesus Christ. When we do that, we grow and “bear much fruit.” Whether as an individual or as a church, we cannot do anything eternal or significant without staying focused on Jesus.

And that’s exactly what we intend to do. This entire series is a great time to be intentional about inviting people to come to Forum.

Couple of important elements we need help with:

1.     During 2nd and 3rd services, we need your help badly. Last Sunday there were only 40 seats left in 2nd service. 40 sounds like a “big number” but it’s actually a small number. Think about it - 4 sections - 13-14 rows - that’s an average of less than one seat per row. Here’s how you can help:  as people are coming in, if there are seats near you, simply help people by giving a wave and then indicate the number of seats near you.

2.     Many of you have responded to our parking request and have been parking on the extreme north end of the lot. I’ve also, on Sunday mornings, been steering people to park on the concrete in front of the pavilion - there are no lines there - but we can usually get 8-10 cars up there.

It’s exciting to be part of a growing thriving ministry. I’m so thankful for the way the Lord is using us. Sunday is going to be another great day - invite a friend! 

Making A Difference

God invites us into His Story. He takes us and uses us for His glory.

This week I’ve been on the campus of Johnson University. We have 3 students from Forum studying there. I love that we have a church that helps students see how they can serve and help to expand the kingdom of God. We currently have students there, at Ozark Christian College, and at Central Christian College of the Bible all studying for various areas of ministry.                                                                                                                        

Additionally, it was also great to hear of the incredible movement of God throughout the world. As many of our high school students and sponsors get ready to go to Barbados and serve with Windward Island School of Evangelism. Brice Wurdeman is the director there. He grew up at Forum.

I received an email asking for me to be a reference for a ministry student I know as she is applying at a church that is led by another minister who grew up at Forum.

I write all of this to remind all of us that what is taking place at the corner of Forum and Nifong is rippling out all over the world. What God is doing in our lives is making a mammoth difference in eternity.

And while we have great ministry for children, youth, and adults taking place at Forum and Nifong, God is using this ministry to help shape and change this world.

I’m so humbled and excited to be part of it. I hope you are too.

This Sunday, we’ll continue growing in His Story as we look at John 14. Jesus came to give us peace. In our current world and climate, peace feels elusive. The ability to have an inner peace that transcends and overcomes the anxieties and stresses of this world is a huge gift. How do we tap into this and maximize it?

I love that God gives us answers and insights. Looking forward to another great Sunday worshiping the Lord together. 

 

 

Great Things Are Happening

Great things are happening at Forum! God is constantly working in our church. And I also love the “can do” and sacrificial spirit that exists here.

This past Sunday, the chairman of our elders, David Buster, gave us all an update connected to ministry highlights from last year. Those were great stats.

Here’s a new stat as well: our average attendance this year is right at 10% higher than the same time last year. God is using you to impact this community.

Arising from that reporting, many have asked this question, “When should we start giving toward our building pledge?”

•   You can start at any point. It’s set up online to designate an amount for building fund.

•   You can also note an amount for building fund in the memo of your check.

We are moving closer and closer to breaking ground on this project.

Toward that end here are some important details for you to know:

1.     We are setting up shuttle parking services starting in the month of March. We are fully aware the lots are filling up and we are arranging for shuttling to happen. We’ll make stage announcements and video Facebook announcements showing you where to park and what to watch for.

2.     Please invite people to church even though we are a little crowded. The new people that are coming here notice the level of passion and commitment that is going on here at Forum.

Here are some great things for you to pray about or get involved in:

Winter Weekend is happening for high school students. This is a two-day worship and teaching weekend for high school students to dial in. Several churches are participating with us this year. Please keep them in prayer.

Boys and Girls Club Chili Cookoff is happening this Saturday at the Holiday Inn Expo Center from 2-6. This is a great community touch for us as a church but it’s also a great organization in our community. Boys and Girls Clubs across the nation do an outstanding job helping some of the most at risk kids in the entire country. Their efforts are noble and it’s a joy to be part of this service. if you’d like to help, it’s not too late. Simply email Jody Riley at jody@forumchristian.org.

We start a fresh new series this weekend called, “His Story.” Our Lord said this, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all men to me.” During this series we’ll focus intently on our living and resurrected Lord Jesus. We’ll be using the gospel of John to walk with Christ up the hill to Golgotha, to experience him stepping out of the empty tomb, and to listen to him tell us to impact the world. I love focusing on our Lord. 

Temptation

Pop quiz (Multiple choice)

Temptations: 

1.  Sinful things that can catch you off guard at any given moment

2. An American vocal group known for their success with Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s

3. Good/even great things that you have a tough time not over-indulging (such as chocolate, work, money, etc.)

4. All of the above

From the very beginning of human history, we’ve been tempted.

I’m pretty sure this reality isn’t going to suddenly stop.

So here we live on fallen planet earth as fallen humans who gave in to temptation. We’ve sinned. We’ve all done it.

Does that mean we should stop fighting temptation? Does that me we remain a slave to sin?

To answer in short: NO!

So God’s word gives us great wisdom on combating temptations and how to stand firm. God truly wants us to have the best life we possibly can. The image of Christ in your life is best. So this week, as we close out “Our Story,” we’re focusing on how 1 Peter closes out.

We’ll look at a game plan for standing firm, strong, and overcoming temptations. Here’s something else I know: you know someone who desperately needs to hear this message. Invite them. Don’t give in to the temptation of fear and not ask them, but rather purpose to do it and execute.

Our annual meeting will happen this Sunday at 1:30 in the auditorium. We’ll give the big picture in all three services in the morning. God is working in phenomenal ways at Forum. You’ll be encouraged and inspired by what we have to share.

Looking forward to a great Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

your potential

I have some nerd tendencies.

I happen to be a theater lover. So, in Man of La Mancha there’s a woman by the name of Aldonza Lorenzo. She’s a man’s mistress and people esteem her as a low-life, wanton woman. However, one man sees beyond her issues and sees beauty. He calls her and sings to her the name he calls her, “Dulcinea.” This means “sweetheart.”

This man saw beyond her shame and past and saw within her beauty, promise, and potential.

If God were to call you the name you’ve earned, what would that be?

Liar? Luster? Loser? Pervert? Promise breaker? Mediocre? Selfish? Idiot? Lazy?

Honestly, I find myself calling myself some of those very things. This is one of the things Satan truly does to get inside our heads and hearts. He tries to derail us.

And too often we listen to those lies.

Aren’t you glad God doesn’t call you the name you’ve earned?

Aren’t you glad God accepts you just as you are?

Aren’t you blessed to know God takes you where you are and helps you become like Jesus?

This week we continue in “Our Church” in 1 Peter 4 talking about how to thrive amidst the challenges of life. There’s a great verse in there that says, ”However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.”

I’ve had two different conversations this week where the person(s) used this phrase. “It feels like the Devil is working overtime.”

There are so many challenges and hardships on this earth. God designed His church for us to overcome these things together. His word and His body keeps us grounded in hope and truth. So I’m so looking forward to us worshiping together and talking thought these truths. It would be a great Sunday to invite friends to be at Forum.

See you Sunday! 

real people

God is always at work in our lives, whether we spot it or not. He’s working to reveal Himself in your life for His glory.

She was broken and hurt. She needed someone to pray with her.
His primary relationships were broken. He desperately needed friends and support.
He was a teen who a friend invited to youth group.
She was finishing her residency and felt overwhelmed. 

Real people, invited to church by a friend, who eventually gave their lives to Jesus.

It all started with a simple invitation.

The invitation wasn’t a treatise, but rather a heartfelt “I’d love you to come to church with me.”

Just this week, I’ve had personal opportunity to both invite and share my faith with 5 different people who aren’t in relationship with Jesus and invite them to church.

This is a higher volume week for me.

One of them hadn’t been in a church building since he was 12 or 13 years old. When I started talking to him about Jesus and His love, he teared up. I’m praying the gospel will sink in.

Personally, I’ve been on Facebook and Social Media less and less for various reasons (reasons anyone who knows me even a little could guess). But the limited times I’ve been on this week, I’ve seen so many of you sharing your hope and your faith.

That’s being the witness God called you to be.

And our witness, the witness of His church, is having a great impact. This past Sunday, we had the single biggest non-holiday attendance we’ve ever had. I personally had prayer with many people throughout the morning. God is stirring our hearts.

This week, we continue in “Our Story” talking about being called by God for a purpose. We’ll be talking about our witness and actually lay out some templates for how you can share your faith.

And here’s what I know:

Every one of us wants to share our faith with someone. Deep down, we desire so desperately, but there are some things that tend to hold us back some times. We’ll help all of us to grow in this area this week.

Looking forward to another great encounter in worship and the word this Sunday. - Scott

PS - thanks for the emails, notes of encouragement, messages, and texts about last Sunday’s message. That one was a tough message for me. When I share personal stuff, it makes me feel so vulnerable. Thanks for being a church body that lets me be a real person.

Mystical Moments

In my opinion, 2017 has started off as a precocious year here in Columbia. This past weekend, we had one of those hard decisions to make in regards to having church. As I posted on our Facebook page: We love worshiping together. We do everything we can to do that.

And we do.

Over the 11.5 years I’ve been part of making those decisions, we’ve gotten it wrong 2 times. 1 time we could have had worship. 1 time we shouldn’t have. This past Sundays weather forecast resembled both of those times.

But it sure was awesome to see the one service at 11 very packed. It was an excellent worship service. Tyler Morris introduced a hymn, The Churches One Foundation, that he wrote a chorus that goes with it. Tyler and I have had this discussion so many times over the years, specifically the reality that hymns are fading and while new songs are fresh expressions of faith, there’s also a beauty in linking to the historic elements of faith. In that moment, as we were singing those old words coupled with the new chorus, I was personally transported into a very sacred space. A place where what God has done in the past and what God is doing in this moment is transcended and mystical.

I love us worshiping together.

We’ll do everything we can for that to happen.

Bradley did a great job as well continuing in the “Our story” series reminding all of us of our corporate identity in Christ. It’s not an individual identity because it’s not about you, it’s not about me, but it’s about God’s glory advancing in this world through His church.  It’s a corporate identity. And here’s why this is so vitally important: I’m not 100% like Jesus. I know that shocks you. And (another shocker) you’re not 100% like Jesus either. As a collective body, God uses one another to fill in one another’s gaps so the world can see Jesus through US. Our identity is in Christ.

This Sunday we’ll continue to expand on this incredible reality. This would be a great Sunday to invite friends and family to worship at Forum. God is working in incredible ways in our lives together.

Looking forward to a great encounter worshiping together this Sunday!

The Rear View Mirror


I’ve never driven a car backwards for more that a couple of hundred feet at a time. 

Most of the time, it’s a short back up. 

Trying to drive while constantly looking in the rear view mirror would be hazardous. 

It’s the time of the year when we, as ministry leaders, start compiling pieces of information that highlight God’s work at Forum over 2016. While the numbers can give a snapshot, they don’t tell the whole story. Additionally, as a ministry we strive to intentionally connect people with Jesus Christ so we constantly look out the windshield at the mission field in front of us. 

Anyway, in that this week I’m taking a short trip down memory lane as I look into the rear view mirror called “2016” it’s incredible to see the activity of God over and over and over. 

We see that activity both in the past and in the present. I’m looking forward, with great joy, to sharing some of those recollections over the next several weeks as well as laying out God’s ongoing mission and vision for Forum. 

In the meantime, God continues to work. This past Sunday night our youth ministry had their single largest attendance ever with 104 people worshiping together! Our students worshiped, they were taught from God’s Word about kindness, and they are growing together. 

This Sunday, we’re talking about God’s design for His church. Do you realize you are part of a superstructure designed by God that impacts every corner of planet Earth? Do you realize God has placed you around others to support them and gain support?  Do you realize the incredible God is using His designed entity, the church, as a vehicle to change Columbia, MO? God’s church is changing people’s eternal trajectories. It helps us become more like Christ. It helps us to be faithful and faith filled. It helps marriages to stick. It helps teens to follow straight paths. While God’s church isn’t perfect - none of us are. 

And we are the church. As I’ve said every week, “Church is more of a ‘we’ thing than a ‘me’ thing.” 

Looking forward to us talking about God’s beautiful bride, His church, this Sunday. See you then! - Scott

Transformation

God loves people. He sent His son to save us.

Those two words: “save us” have enormous meaning.

What’s so wrong with me that I need “saving”? Save us from what? Is it just one thing that He saves us from? Is it many things?

Carolina Liar (secular artist) composed a song called, “Show Me What I’m Looking For” and the lyrics say:

Save me, I'm lost

Oh lord, I've been waiting for you

I'll pay any cost

Save me from being confused

Show me what I'm looking for

Show me what I'm looking for, oh lord

I think those lyrics represent a lot of the angst and confusion this world holds. I’ve talked to so many people who are so confused about life, purpose in life, the meaning of life, and the quests of life. Their struggle is summed up in the sentence “Save me, I’m lost.”

Without connection to God we are lost. Christ came to address this lost element in our lives. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He shines light into the darkness. He gives clarity instead of confusion. He gives peace to our souls.

This weekend, in all of our worship services, we’re going to talk about this incredible truth: God changes us.

Friends, God saving us saves us from so much:

       from being lost

       from sin

       from hell

       from purposelessness

       from isolation

       from our own destructive patterns (sin falls under this category)

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (1 Pet. 1:18,19)

In this action of God, change and transformation happen. God is always acting in our best interest. This is a message for you and anyone you know. It would be a great weekend to invite friends to hear this message of change and salvation.

Looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. 

New Year, New Opportunities

What an incredible Christmas weekend at Forum! I was truly overwhelmed by so many people attending the services over the weekend. It was truly a blessing focusing on Christ as the light of the world for the Christmas Eve services. It’s still the most amazing story in the history of the world. God wrapped Himself in flesh, and that was our focus on Christmas morning.

Thanks for all the emails, texts, and notes of thanks and encouragement during this Christmas season connected to Forum’s very deliberate design to keep everything focused on Jesus.

January 1, 2017 falls on Sunday and we’ll have our normal three services this Sunday. What better way to start off a new year!

I know of at least one person who is starting the New Year off by being baptized. Are there others out there who would like to do the same? If so, simply email us at jody@forumchristian.org and we’ll set it up for this Sunday as well.

And with a new year, starts a new series: Our story: God’s work in His church. This series arises from the book of 1 Peter. It’s written by a transformed man who changed drastically because of his relationship with Jesus. The change in his life has inspired Christ followers for centuries.

So this dramatically changed man writes other followers of Christ and puts onto paper things that are of utmost importance in the kingdom of God.

Here we are nearly 2000 years later inspired by his words and vision. This series is really going to challenge every one of us on many levels. I’m so looking forward to starting it with you this Sunday!

This would be a great Sunday to invite friends to attend. We’re focusing on heaven, hope, and God’s purposeful plan for people.

I can’t wait to worship with you this Sunday! If you want to jumpstart things - read 1 Peter 1 between now and Sunday - that’s our starting point. See you then. 

I Think About Jesus

I love Christmas services so much! For whatever reason, they help me to travel down memory lane thinking about the best things in life.

I think of family and worshiping alongside of them.

I think of friends - some lifelong, some more recent.

I think about - when I’m seated there next to my kids, our voices joining in song.

And I think about the very best thing in life; I think about Jesus.

From inside of a manger, a newborn’s hand reaches out as the baby starts exploring His motor skills. As He breathes, His lungs fill with the night air. In the dimness of the night, the parents peer over Him with fearful anticipation.

“This is happening,” they must think to themselves. “What have we gotten ourselves into?”

A knock at the door. Joseph goes to see who would be calling on them at this time. There’s a group of shepherds here to see the baby.

“Shepherds?”, Mary asks. She’s just given birth and now strangers are here?

“They were told to come here by angels.”

Divine appointments usually aren’t convenient.

And as this humble crowd surrounds the infant, the Divine mystery of God’s plan begins to unfold.

And while we see plainly God’s plan of salvation fully unfolded in the life of Jesus, one element of the mystery still overwhelmingly profound remains. Specifically, why does God love us as He does? Why does He love us so very much?

While we may not ever understand the “Why?”, we rejoice at the inexplicable truth that He does love us vastly and immeasurably. He loved us so much that He sent His one and only son into this world.

This weekend, we’re celebrating the gift of God a lot at Forum.

We have worship services on Friday and Saturday at 4 and 5:30 and at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

I’m truly wishing you and yours a very Merry and Christ-filled Christmas! 

What can I learn from Jesus today?

I want to say, “Well done.” and, “Exceptional.” to our Children’s Theater group. We have such a great staff at Forum and Rochelle Gerdts is truly a wonderful leader in our Children’s Ministry. We’re truly blessed to have her on our team.

As we continue in the “Wrapped Up” series, there’s a profound mystery that’s worthy of everyone thinking about. When I think about this event, there is a meek majesty on display. The glory and majesty of God takes on the flesh of mankind. This divine action of love and humility started the saving action for humanity.

I was observing one of our elementary classrooms and they were talking about the meaning of “Immanuel” which means “God with us.”

Love came down.

“We saw His glory, glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth.”

God came near that first Christmas.

The very common and humble birth of Jesus begins a life that is marked by humility:

       Surrounded by shepherds at His birth

       Growing up in a common home

       Living in an obscure area

       Surrounding Himself with very common men

       Ministering to common and marginalized people

       Associating with “sinners”

       Washing the feet of His disciples

       Never seeking status, fame, or the limelight

       Going to the cross of a common criminal

Frankly, these are some of the most beautiful, winsome, and enamoring events and actions in the life of our Lord.

Why do you think that is? I think we have so much to learn from God and His son Jesus our Lord. This is one of those areas where we can learn and grow from Him immensely.

When was the last time you said, “What can I learn from you today, Jesus?”

This Sunday, the sermon is titled, “Wrapped in Swaddling Clothes.” It’s a great message for both people who have grown up in the church and those who have never heard.

Also, let me encourage you to invite people to come to our Christmas Eve and Christmas services. We went over them the other day and they are going to be so memorable. Great season to bring friends to worship our Lord around the manger and around His table. Christmas services happen Dec. 23 and 24 at 4 and 5:30 p.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 25. Looking forward to a blessed season of worship. See you Sunday! 

Plain, Ordinary, and Simple

Max Lucado is among my favorite authors ever.

He describes the birth of Christ:

There is one word that describes the night He came—ordinary.

The sky was ordinary. An occasional gust stirred the leaves and chilled the air.

The sheep were ordinary. Some scrawny. Some with barrel bellies. Some with twig legs. Common animals.

And the shepherds. Peasants they were. Probably wearing all the clothes they owned. Smelling like sheep and looking just as woolly. They were conscientious, willing to spend the night with their flocks. But you won’t find their staffs in a museum nor their writings in a library. No one asked their opinion on social justice or the application of the Torah. They were nameless and simple. An ordinary night with ordinary sheep and ordinary shepherds. And were it not for a God who loves to hook an “extra” on the front of the ordinary, the night would have gone unnoticed. The sheep would have been forgotten, and the shepherds would have slept the night away.

But God dances amidst the common.

The angel came in the night because that is when lights are best seen and that is when they are most needed. God comes into the common for the same reason.

His most powerful tools are the simplest.

God uses you and me in similar fashion. God sent Jesus into this world. He is God’s greatest gift to this world. God calls us to share this gift with the world.

This is a gift by God to be opened. God desires for every person to receive this gift.

The world desperately needs Jesus.

Christmas is a great time to invite friends to come and experience Jesus Christ.

Did you know that 47% of those who don’t go to church will come to church during this season if someone simply asks them to come to church?

Be strong, bold, and inviting. I know this about myself: I’m a pretty common, simple, and ordinary person. In the scheme of the world, we all are.

So let me encourage you to invite people to church during this season. That simple and ordinary invitation very well might change the course of their eternity.

We’ve got so many great options to invite people to attend:

Children’s Theater Production Friday, Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 10 at 2 p.m.

Christmas Eve Services: Dec. 23 and 24 at 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Christmas morning at 10:30 a.m. 

Wrapped Up

Every year Christmas comes and we celebrate. We draw together as families, as a community of faith, as a nation, and even around the world to pause and celebrate.

I know that as a nation we have become more secular and “Happy Holidays” is now kind of the expected norm.

But let’s make no mistake, the holiday behind the “holiday” in that expression, at its genesis, is Christmas.

The entry of God in the flesh into this world is such a penetrating reality that our world has never been the same. As a planet, there is a global reminder that God loves this world.

As we move towards Christmas, we’ll celebrate this blessed season at Forum as we start a new series called “Wrapped Up.”

I don’t know about you, but for our family there is an enormous amount of wrapping things up during this season of the year.

We wrap up presents.

We wrap up year-end business.

We want things to be wrapped up.

The singular most profound mystery in the history of this world is that God wrapped Himself in flesh. So during this season we’re going to encourage you to wrap up this season in love. We’re going to remind you to accept God’s gift of love in our life. We’re going to wrap our lives in Christ.

I’m really looking forward to our Children’s Theater presentation of “Arrest These Merry Gentlemen” on both Friday evening, December 9 at 6:30 and Saturday afternoon, December 10 at 2:00.  We have invited groups of seniors from several of Columbia’s assisted living communities to our Saturday performance.  Afterward we will have a time of fellowship where we will present them with a lap blanket and a poinsettia for Christmas.  We hope you will be able to join us and enjoy all the hard work the kids have invested over the last several weeks. We’re encouraging you to purchase a lap blanket for these seniors to wrap up in during the winter and to also donate $5 for a poinsettia to brighten their room.

I’m looking forward to inviting some very specific friends in our community who love the arts and who have kids that are in TRYPS. You probably know some people who fall into similar categories who you could invite to this performance.

This Sunday we’re going to look at the “Why?” behind the event of Christmas. “Why Christmas?” Why do we wrap up our gifts and presents? Why do we go through all the extravagant efforts connected to making this holiday special every year for our families? Why did God send His one and only son into this world?

Looking forward to sharing a great message of love, hope, and challenge this Sunday. All the Sundays during this season are great ones to invite friends to share with us. Looking forward to helping create a, “Merry Christmas.” 

Reflection

The leaves turn, crops are harvested, fall breaks happen, chairs are pulled up around Thanksgiving tables, and as a country we kind of take a collective deep breath, pause, and reflect.

We reflect on blessings.

We reflect on challenges we’ve faced.

We reflect on obstacles we’ve overcome.

We think about our families.

On a personal note, 2016 has been a year of prolific ministry for Forum. We’ve got an incredible staff, elders, deacons, and ministry leaders who are on mission to intentionally connect people to Jesus.

It was a year of great challenges, of coming together, and some mountain top type experiences.

I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for a family who all love the Lord.

I’m thankful for a family who has committed themselves to advance the kingdom of God.

I’m thankful that God - who saved us - continues to take us to new levels of influence and impact.

One important item: all elder and deacons were unanimously affirmed by our congregation.

Over the next week, we’ve got some great things happening.

Our Christmas production this year features our Children’s Theater group. Our kids will be performing a show entitled “Arrest These Merry Gentlemen” on both Friday December 9th at 6:30 and Saturday December 10th at 2:00.  We have invited groups of seniors from several of Columbia’s assisted living communities to our Saturday performance.  Afterward we will have a time of fellowship where we will present them with gifts for Christmas.  We hope you will be able to join us and enjoy all the hard work the kids have invested over the last several weeks.

Christmas falls on Sunday this year, so our Christmas weekend schedule will look like this:

Friday 4 & 5:30 (Christmas Eve Services)

Saturday 4 & 5:30 (Christmas Eve Services)

Sunday (Christmas Day service - everyone in the auditorium for a family service) 10:30 a.m.

This Sunday we’ll continue in our “Simplify” series talking about “stuff.” It’s really easy to get pulled into the vortex of materialism and stuff. This sermon is so important for all of us to learn. There’s a very important section of the message devoted to parents and priorities.

Looking forward to another great Sunday worshiping our Lord together. 

Taking Inventory

What an outstanding weekend we had having so many of our missionaries at Forum!

They are truly a blessing to us and to God’s world!

It’s encouraging to hear of the boldness of the workers in India, the perseverance of those in Haiti, the diligence of our workers in Barbados, the global equipping efforts of GNPI, the kids whose lives are shaped and changed by our children’s homes, the babies and expectant mothers who are nurtured by our local family clinic, and the list goes on.

To our Mission Team on behalf of the elders and staff of Forum we all say, “Well done.”

There are two items of important business I need to put in front of you for Sunday and the next weeks.

1.     This Sunday is the day for us to affirm elders and deacons at Forum. Here are the names of the men the leadership (arising from the congregation) are asking you to affirm:  Elder – Tim Myers, Deacons – Joe Armistead, Joe Brown, Steve Cowan, Jason Gibson, Tim Klimek, Paul McGowan, Henry Newcomb, Lucas Redburn, Mike Russum, Freddy Spencer, Hank Vandeventer, Tyler Wicks, and Wes Williams.

2.     Our Children’s Theater is leading out in our Christmas program this year. In conjunction with that, we are asking for blankets for senior citizens who are living in homes, assisted living situations, etc. as well as $5 to purchase a poinsettia for them. This is a departure from years previous where we gave gifts to kids. There’s a blessing there, but this year we really wanted to focus on probably one of the most overlooked segments of our community that are living all around us. See the bulletin for more details.

On a very personal note, Thanksgiving is next week. I’m compiling my list of graces and mercies from God connected to life and my list is getting astronomically long. Part of the reason I have such a long list is because I’m part of a great church where God is working in so many lives. My list includes special ministry moments over the year. It includes moments connected to our family and extended family. It includes day to day stuff that many might consider “humdrum.” It includes some things that are miraculous.

I’d encourage you to do an inventory of God’s work in your life and see the joy that unfolds in doing so.

We start a brand new series this Sunday called, “Simplify.” During this series, we’re going to share how to reduce the unimportant stuff, clutter, and time burners in your life so that you can have a fuller and more abundant life. Too many of us are walking around all torqued up about stuff and how we don’t have enough time. Scripture gives us some great insights as to how to deal with this. That’s what we’ll unpack over the next weeks. 

Check Out This Painting At Jesse Hall

Last Sunday was stellar! It was incredible worshiping with Forum under one roof in one moment.

Let me recap some highlights:

  • Our Children’s choir did phenomenal
  • 1200 of us packed into Jesse Hall
  • Commitments came in around $1.7 million dollars! (Which is amazing - to God be the glory!)
  • There was an artist name Cindy Scott who painted the event as we worshiped.

This weekend is the weekend when many of our missionaries will be with us. The schedule for the weekend is on the website and the Facebook page. These are living heroes of the faith having forsaken home, country, and family to follow God’s call on their lives. You’ll be very blessed to hear of and know how Forum is doing our part to intentionally connect people to Jesus all over the world.

On a national note: This week our nation elected a new president. As I have consistently reminded all of us: pray for our President and pray for our President-Elect. Our nation has complex challenges and I’m thankful for our nation and the leaders of our nation. - Scott

The Cubs, Jesus’ return, and God’s Kingdom

I’m truly so excited.

As I write this, the Cubs are about 1 hour from playing the Indians in Game 7 of the World Series. Frankly, I’m waaaaayyyyyyyy more excited about Nov. 6 than a ball game. This ball game (most likely) won’t lead anyone to Jesus. Nov. 6 is going to make a huge difference in eternity - and you are part of that. I’ve been with a group of ministers from all over the US this week and I joked with them saying, “There’s a 20% chance that Jesus returns today, forever sealing the reality that the Cubs NEVER win the big one again.

When I look into our world and see God’s kingdom advancing, there’s a genuine sense of wonder and awe.

This week I’ve helped lead a bunch of ministers in a series of teachings and some one-on-one coaching. I’m doing this in alignment with Bob Russell ministries. Among the reasons the group asked me to be part of this is the incredible things God is doing at Forum.

You have no idea how encouraging some of the stories and life change that continue to happen at Forum truly inspire other ministers from all over the country. God is at work in our church. He’s at work in your family. He’s at work in your life.

I’m so charged up about the worship service happening on Nov. 6 and the faith and sacrifice that God unleashes through us when we do things like this.

Remember - it’s this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in Jesse Hall. It’s time change Sunday, so fall back. If you have trouble walking, we’re providing golf cart shuttles for you from the parking garage.

As we continue to fulfill God’s Epic Vision for us, as we walk through a new door, I pray the Lord finds us faithful and faith-filled.

On a very somber note, one of our members was called home to be with Jesus this past Sunday. Louis Hendricks went into the presence of the Lord. The service to honor God and celebrate his life is this Friday at 12 p.m. Visitation is before that from 10 a.m. - 12. at the Forum campus.

On a very very personal note: Louis was a good friend. We studied the Bible together most Monday nights for 6+ years. His family is a wonderful family. Please keep Alicia, Ashlyn, Louie, Justin, and Benjamin in your prayers as they walk through this very tough season together. 

Hopes and Dreams

This past weekend a young man who grew up at Forum, named Caleb Kaltenbach, preached and did a great job for us sharing God’s vision of creating environments where people can feel safe as they seek God. That message was entirely in alignment with God’s vision and dreams for His church. [Fun fact: last Sunday was our all-time high attendance (non-holiday) in the history of Forum. Great job, let’s keep it up.

Among my favorite verses of the Bible connected to the movement of God and His Spirit in our lives is this:

‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. (Acts 2: 17)

It reminds of God’s desire for us to see possibilities (seeing visions) and for us to dream dreams.

There are times when God will give us glimpses of His vision for the future and His church. We’ll get one of those glimpses on Nov. 6 as we come together at Jesse Hall at 10:30 a.m. to worship, to engage in a service full of vision and dreams, and to commit.

That’s a day where we will all get a larger vision because our church body will be under one roof at one moment. I pray we fill up Jesse Hall that day.

As a ministry leader, God has placed on my heart the perpetual mission of intentionally connecting people with Jesus. It’s a mission statement. It’s a lifestyle for us corporately, and on a very personal level as well.

It’s from this, that my dreams arise. I do dream of a day when Columbia, MO knows Jesus as Lord. That every person - whether they are a CEO or they work as a janitor serving that CEO, whether rich or poor, whether a highly trained researcher, or a self-taught day laborer, whether young or old, no matter what ethnic background, whether athletic or physically or mentally challenged, and no matter what station of life - that everyone come to know Jesus as Lord.

Is that possible?

I believe it is, and I know God wants Forum to be part of this life changing, dynamic mission. He’s already using us and I fully believe and dream that He’ll use us even more effectively.

And I know the leadership and staff believe this to. I’ve got some fun and challenging information to share about them on Sunday.

I also know that you believe this. How? Because I hear of it throughout our community. So many new people continue to come to Forum because you are inviting them. People who fall into those very categories I mentioned above.

The dreams of the Lord are becoming a reality.

So as we ready ourselves to make personal sacrifices connected to this next facility, let me encourage you to dream big, to put your faith and truth in our Great God, and let’s all align with His mission for us.

This Sunday we’re looking at trusting God connected to following His vision where our stewardship and finances are concerned. This would NOT be a good Sunday to invite people who aren’t Christians to attend. If you’ve already invited someone, give them a heads up on this one. That said, you will get some of the best financial advice and insight that you’ll ever receive. Look forward to worshiping with you Sunday.