Church Blog

Taste and See if You Like Evident Grace on 09/12

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taste_and_seeHave you ever been to a restaurant and seen a dish on the menu that interested you? Of course, but the way most restaurants work is that you don’t get a taste ahead of time to find out if you really like it. Your choices are either taking a risk and ordering the dish or skipping it for something that you know you will like. The problem is that you will just never know if the dish you skipped was good or not.

Churches can be the same way. Maybe you like the service or you like an event that they hosted, but often, there is not any venue where you can find out more about the church. Most folks have questions that they would love to have answered, but where can you do that with a church?

Well, Evident Grace will be hosting a “Taste and See” get together Friday, September 12th at 6:30pm, for anyone who would like to know more about the church. The idea is for Gordon, the pastor, to spend some time presenting the history and vision of the church, coupled with a hope for where Evident Grace might be going. Jeremy, our pastoral intern, will be there as well, so hopefully, between the two, most of your questions can be answered. There will be plenty of opportunities for Q & As, and as any good event should have, there will also be food.

This will be a completely non-pressure, casual get together much like friends discussing something they like or want to know more about. There will be none of this, “What will it take to get you in this car today?” salesmanship. In fact, it will be a great, low-key event to bring a friend.

If you would like to join us, we will have childcare, and we will kick off at 6:30pm. We will go as long as folks are interested, and you can head out whenever you want or need. We will be meeting at the Curtas home at

6601Turkey Run Drive

Fredericksburg, VA 22407

If you have questions or would like to confirm, contact Gordon at [email protected] or call him at 919-412-8161.

When Nothing Goes Right in Worship

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simpsons

This is our second post of worship observations. You can find our first here. This week, we talk about when things don’t go well – a common challenge for young churches.

At Evident Grace, we have been meeting for a year and a half. For church planters and church plants, a year and a half feels like five regular years. Each Sunday, you feel like you are taking giant leaps forward as you become more efficient in everything from setup/takedown, greeting, music, children’s ministry, etc.

And then there are the Sundays where you feel like you take giant steps back. It feels like you have never met for worship before.   No one seems to get anything right.

Here is my encouragement, fellow planters and young churches:  While each good Sunday feels like five years ahead, an off Sunday is not a five year setback. Let me give a painful example.

This past Sunday, we were launching a new series, “Journey to Worship – a Study of Ezra”. Excitement built fairly well, and several folks joined in to help with a decent amount of web/social media promotion. While I am given to hyperbole like many church planters, I could realistically say that folks were pretty excited.

But things didn’t go as planned.

For some reason, from the onset, I stumbled over my words. Apparently, I said that, “Christ was circumcised for our sins.” While true in one sense that was far away from my wanting to say that He was crucified for our sins.

I was leading our music as well. Leading a crowd in singing is something that I have comfortably done for over 25 years now, but apparently, comfortable was not yesterday. I couldn’t get into a groove no matter what. In fact, the team finally stopped one song and just began again.

My sermon was never was comfortable either. I felt rushed. I felt the need to over-explain everything, and I continually lost the ability to pronounce most every world.

We made plans to take the Lord’s Supper, but our elder wasn’t able to make it, so the elements remained lonely on the table – something we had to explain to our congregations and visitors.

I left assured that no one was ever going to show up ever again.

But here is the encouragement to my heart and to yours, young planter and young congregation. Our worship is not about professionalism and perfection. While starting songs together and ending them together is preferable, while a commanding sermon delivery is helpful, neither of those are necessary for worship. Worship must always be about grace. Worship must always be about the lifting up of Christ. Grace and Christ equal worship. Preciseness is a bonus.

Yes, you seek to improve in every area. You learn from things that go both well and poorly. You practice and study more. You offer areas that continue to struggle to God in prayer. And then you give thanks for what happens.

So, this week, we will work towards getting the songs right and pronouncing the words correctly knowing that Christ will once again meet us on Sunday. If we make mistakes, we haven’t stepped back five years.

Christ will be lifted up, Christ will be honored, and we will be transformed. We will wait for eternity for mistake free worship.

Journey to Worship Service Preview for Sept 7

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10654017_10100284510435919_1196740249_n1On Sept 7, Evident Grace begins its new series, “Journey to Worship – a Study of Ezra”.  As Ezra is not an often studied book, an extended preview might be helpful, so towards that end, here is the text of an important portion of the sermon.

You know how we grow in comfortable skepticism? We like to say things like, “Well, I know God can do anything, but I doubt anything is going to happen.” Or we will say, “Well, aint nothing going to change.  I mean I guess God can do something here.”

And in both cases, we have no hope that anything good or Godly is going happen. We should read Ezra and be reminded that God does what He will when He will, and as a result, we should stop being so cynical and skeptical.

Now, please hear me:  this isn’t junk theology that tells you to believe harder for what you want so God will do it.

I am not going to tell you that God can’t and won’t do things unless you change first.

God does what He will when He will, and you know what? I’m sure not going to tell you to go live life at a higher level while God has your back.

We should simply read Ezra and say, “God will receive glory no matter the circumstance.  And in that, we are transformed”

How do we know that? How can we be assured? The life and death and resurrection of Jesus show us that God will pursue His own glory and that nothing will stop it – not your sin, not your mistakes…nothing. God will be glorified, and God will be worshiped.

This study should take us up to the 2014 holiday season. The good thing about Ezra is that you can join it at any point and time and not be lost, but we encourage you to join us for worship on September 7th to experience our series launch. We meet each Sunday for worship at 1030am at the comedy club above Liberty Lanes, and you can find directions here.

Come as you are. We are neither formal nor casual. And if you desire, we have both a nursery, and we also offer an individual teaching time for children aged 2-5.

Launching A New Series – Journey to Worship, A Study of Ezra

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long_journey_with_textExcitedly, on Sunday, September 7th, Evident Grace Fellowship is launching its new sermon series, Journey to Worship – A Study of Ezra. Why would a young church, or any church for that matter, endeavor to study, what for some might be, an obscure Old Testament book? There are several reasons.

Ezra is a book about a community returning to their homeland to reestablish the worship of God after a period of time where worship had been forbidden. Those that remained at home must now integrate with those returning, and both communities have to manage lots of hopes and expectations. Each hopes for a vibrant life of worship. Each knows their own expectations, but they don’t know what to expect from each other.

What an incredibly practical book to study for a young church like Evident Grace Fellowship. We have been meeting for a year and a half. We are a community gathered from many different backgrounds. We too have expectations, and we too are learning to grow and learn as a new community with a new identity. And we are just like Ezra, God is making something beautiful and united out of gathered communities.

Also, as new people visit us and join our community each week, this study will be ideal for them to walk through with us. We are going to see, in real time, the events of the worship in Ezra’s time, and we will have so many things to learn from: the good, the bad, and the ugly. (This is your invitation constant reader. Please join us.)

Also, the events of Ezra and its companion book Nehemiah, are the final historical events in the Old Testament that lead up to the work of Jesus. It is an anticipatory historical account. We can look at those days, on this side of Jesus work, and learn so much about the joy promised to a community who now fully understand Jesus work. In that, we as a community can grow in greater worship and commitment to God and to each other.

So, why study this book? Ezra was living on a hope promised. We are living on a hope fulfilled.

This study should take us up to the 2014 holiday season. The good thing about Ezra is that you can join it at any point and time and not be lost, but we encourage you to join us for worship on September 7th to experience our series launch. We meet each Sunday for worship at 1030am at the comedy club above Liberty Lanes, and you can find directions here.  You can listen to any sermon from the Ezra series (along with any other of our sermons) on our sermon page or on itunes

Come as you are. We are neither formal nor casual. And if you desire, we have both a nursery, and we also offer an individual teaching time for children aged 2-5.

Entering into Hurt

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hug

I had a wonderful conversation with someone from EG this week, and we were discussing how many churches (and our denomination specifically) have a hard time comforting and caring for folks when they suffer. He described it in this way.

Most churches do not know how to enter into people’s hurts.

What an incredible statement…and sadly true. We spent the next hour or so discussing the problem. We came up with an analysis, and I hope in this small post to begin to move us towards addressing how poorly churches (including ours at times) enter into grief. In our discussion, church folks typically respond to hurt, harm, and grief in one of three ways.

The Reformed community says: God is sovereign.

The non-Reformed community says: God has a purpose and plan in everything.

And the non-religious response says: It is what it is.

Each one of these is a simplified expression of deeper truths. Unfortunately, they all shut down conversation.

God is sovereign means that we shouldn’t ever dare question what God is doing.

God has a purpose and a plan in everything means that if you wait long enough, either something good will happen or you will figure out what God is trying to teach you.

It is what it is says you aren’t in control of much is this world so why keep talking about it.

I think Evident Grace must be a church that offers more. But what more is there? Well, outside of scripture, we don’t know the mind of God, so assuming on our part or anyone else’s why things are happening is rarely helpful and many times dangerous. So, let me offer a few things that we can do as a church to meet people in their need.

Weep with the weeping – Throwing a party and showing joy when people rightfully have events of joy is great, but we also need to comfort by crying when people cry. So much of grief is the struggle of feeling alone. An appropriate arm of comfort and a shared cry go so much further than empty platitudes.

Be Hospitable – Hospitality is both the opening of our homes to people hurting and the meeting of practical needs to those in need. Hospitality is the meeting of simple needs like clothing, food, and warmth when grief is so great that those needs are neglected.

Neighbor – Neighboring is the constant awareness that you are near to do either of the above two. Neighboring is the offering of one self to another for love and friendship.

While there are other ways to enter grief (feel free to offer some), growing in weeping, showing hospitality, and neighboring communicate care and love to the hurting and represent the love of Christ well.

Christ wept with us and for us.

Christ was hospitable by meeting our need.

Christ was our neighbor because He came to us in our hurt.

Let’s pray God grows this in us more and more, so that at least one person will feel comfort and believe that someone has entered into their grief.

Life Together Series Launches 07/27

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life togetherAs Evident Grace moves into the second half of summer 2014, we are launching a 6-week sermon series entitled “Life Together” on July 27th.

“Life Together” will give a clear picture of what it looks like for us to live out our 3 distinctives: Community, Worship, and Service.

Our series is going to give us the opportunity to explore these “Life Together” distinctives in two different ways.

We are going to explore Community, Worship, and Service by celebrating.

As we study the scriptures, we are going to see that celebrating what God has done is essential to our Community, Worship, and Service. This way, we can speak of the Community, Worship, and Service milestones that God has given us in the past year and half, and we can study and pray specifically about where we might go next.

We have only scratched the surface of the depth of Community, Worship, and Service that we hope for at Evident Grace, so seeing those things as they are presented in scripture and thanking God for what He has done, puts us in the perfect place to pray, plan, and prepare for what comes next.

Celebrating is essential for our “Life Together”.

We are going to explore Community, Worship, and Service by growing in Biblical leadership.

As we study the scriptures, we are going to see that growing in Biblical church leadership is essential to growing in Community, Worship, and Service. The scriptures devote a great amount of time discussing what local church leadership looks like with elders and deacons, so we must understand the scriptures well as we move towards recognizing, training, and installing that leadership.

Multiplied and mature church leadership enables our people to be led well and mobilized well.

Biblical Leadership is essential for our “Life Together”.

Join us as we study and do “Life Together” beginning July 27th. You can find directions to our service as well as many other details about Evident Grace throughout our website.

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