Coffeehouse Worship

During the spring you may have heard a little about Coffeehouse Worship as we conducted a prelaunch experiment. On September the full launch of Coffeehouse Worship will finally occur. Coffeehouse Worship will be held on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays from 5-7pm.
 
However, perhaps, you don’t know what Coffeehouse Worship is or why we are entertaining a different worship environment.
 
Let me explain to you the idea(s) behind Coffeehouse Worship.
 
Coffeehouse Worship is a worship environment built with 20 and 30 somethings in mind. This is not your parents and grandparents worship. No sitting in neat rows looking at the back of others heads.
 
Coffeehouse is a place of community … a place where worship and the word meet our connections with one another. Now that doesn’t mean that music and teaching are unimportant. It is important. It just isn’t the most important. But our defining point is giving people a place to connect and explore God together. 
 
The Coffeehouse Worship environment will have all of the elements of a regular worship service. However, they will look a bit different. For example, Instead of a 35-minute message, there will be a shorter message and discussion time built right into the service, and a question and answer time. People will get knit together in community as they share in small table group discussions around a cup of coffee and a cookie or coffeecake.
 

We’ll deal with questions that this generation is asking, but have not found the church willing to answer. They will learn that asking spiritual questions is okay, and that struggling spiritually is normal.

 



Fight Night

What is Fight Night?

A fun date night for couples of any age or stage.  Filled with humor, fresh insight, and practical, new strategies for turning conflict into a means for deeper intimacy. Les and Leslie are authentic master communicators. Couples will laugh while they learn new ways to instantly improve relationship.  And did we mention you will have a blast while gaining practical tips to strengthen communication.

Ticket Prices are per person, so get them early and save! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fight-night-live-simulcast-tickets-48843196315
 



A Race For Unity

Racially charged conflict causes tension in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, and cities. Even the church is affected, as evidenced by the fact that Sunday mornings can be the most segregated time of each week. 

Racial tension destroys the unity God desires for His children, and undermines the love we seek to express towards our brothers and sisters of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. 

That’s why we’re joining Pastor Miles McPherson’s in calling you to attend this simulcast, The Race for Unity, which is based on the principles in his upcoming book, The Third Option. McPhersons’ light-hearted, encouraging, and soul-searching discussion about the toughest racial issues of our day will help humble willing hearts to learn how to honor and love all people, equally. 

The Body of Christ is called to lead on this issue; this teaching will equip you in your efforts. 

Prayerfully consider joining us for this event on September 15, 2018, as Pastor Miles leads thousands of people, churches, businesses, and communities in this 2-hour simulcast focused on healing our nation’s racial divide.
 


Wednesday Night At The Movies

First Christian Church of Chicago is glad to present a second season of summer family movies for the Ashburn community free of charge. Movies will be presented on Wednesday, July 18, 25, and August 1. Here is this year’s line-up:
 
  • July 18 – Black Panther
  • July 25 – The Greatest Showman
  • August 1- I Can Only Imagine
 
Night at the Movies includes complimentary concessions … so bring your family and bring your friends for a free night of entertainment.


Why People Stop Coming To Church

Recently I came across this study by Thom Rainer on why Church members are participating in the gathering of the church less than they previously have.

Here are his findings:

THEY ARE MORE MOBILE. As people are more mobile, they have more places to be and demands to meet.

THEY ARE MORE AFFLUENT. As people have more wealth, they can provide more options for themselves.

THEY HAVE MORE OPTIONS. See above.

THEY CONSIDER CHURCH OPTIONAL. As other options increase, church participation becomes just another option. Besides the church can “outdo” what others offer.

THEY ARE NOT ACTIVE IN A SMALL GROUP. People who attend a small group are more likely to be engaged in the larger life of the church. Those who don’t, aren’t.

THEY HAVE NOT BEEN CHALLENGED. The church has dropped the bar instead of raising the level of expectations. People will inevitably fall to your lower level of expectation.

As I have taken time to think over this list there appeared to me to be a common thread (or three):

  • Either Christians have come to accept that Jesus does not value devotion and commitment to his Bride;
  • Or these members are choosing to reject Christ’s Bride (which can’t be taken will by the groom) by not valuing her as he does;
  • Or these members never made a real commitment to follow and serve Christ in the first place.

I reached that conclusion for this reason. Every reason for people attending church less regularly has to do with a decision to be a disciple with a lower level of commitment, a level at which being a part of the bride of Christ gets squeezed out  by other interests and engagements. What level does your commitment to Christ’s Bride settle? You can’t be more committed to Him than you are His Bride.

The church isn’t perfect, but it is the Bride of Christ.

 



Hospitality That Goes Deep

At FCC, we have a period of time between Worship Celebration and Connection Groups that we call “hospitality”. Hospitality entails serving punch and coffee, along with a selection of desserts or light snacks to our hungry post-worship crowd. Sometimes we are served what would even be called a light meal.

This environment is useful and needed, as well as valued and appreciated. It starts us on the road to hospitality as it provides us with a good time to interact with one another with the “Hi, how you doing ?” or “I’m glad to have the chance to meet you!” conversations before we move on to our connection environments.

Hospitality is a key virtue throughout the New Testament. We see it acted out repeatedly by Jesus in the gospels as he sat down for meals with saints and sinners. We see that repeated by the church in Acts. Hospitality is prominent in the imperatives of Romans 12.

Yet, I am forced to wonder if labeling this “hospitality” doesn’t also present a certain danger. Could it tempt us to accept a limited cultural definition of hospitality rather than embracing the richer and deeper New Testament expression?

However, the term hospitality in the New Testament represents much more than a time of refreshments.  A perception that limits hospitality to punch and coffee misses the richness of God’s intent.

Hospitality is opening one’s life and one’s home to others. It is inviting others to put their feet under your table, and engaging one another in deep, honest and vulnerable conversation. It is  about showing acceptance enjoyed around a meal where we can really get to know one another. That is what Jesus did for Zacchaeus when he invited himself to Zacchaeus’ home for dinner.

When I was young, I remember after church going to the home of another family, going out to eat with another family, or inviting a family to our home … and in each of those environments the church would be served as two families got to know one another.

What if we were to rediscover this deeper sense of hospitality by inviting others into our homes, by eating together with one another around our tables, and getting to know one another. Or maybe it isn’t even a meal or our homes, but it is a longer conversation over a cup of coffee at Starbucks. How might that enhance the ministry of the church?.

 



Togetherness

f Ephesians.

In the month of April we will begin a message series through the book of Ephesians.

This will be the third time we have had a teaching series through Ephesians in the 11 years I have served as the Senior Minister. After having preached through it at least two times prior to my ministry at First Christian Church of Chicago, you would think that I might havedeveloped a pretty good grasp of its content.

However, there was a simple, but very significant message that I had not noticed previously. Perhaps I had missed it because I too am very much a product of our culture of American individualism. As I looked at Scripture through those lenses, I often made a huge mistake in seeing the intended much and its proper audience.

Here is what I have discovered. The book of Ephesians is very much a letter to the church – not a church as a collection of INDIVIDUALS  — but the church as a COMMUNITY of individuals.

Here is the difference. A collection of individuals emphasize the personal message, as everything is read through the lenses of what it says, means, instructs, and encourages me. The emphasis on the individual becomes selfcentered and narcissistic.

However, as a community of individuals (emphasis on community), the emphasis moves from me to the community. I come to understand that being part of the church doesn’t mean I am a number in a larger set of numbers. Rather I am a functioning part of a body that needs my presence and participation to fully be what it was designed to be. Paul is not primarily concerned with the individual. His concern for the individual is only as part of the whole.

Here is the principle discovery I made: As I have read through Ephesians in preparation for the upcoming message series, I looked much closer at a word group that I have more or less skimmed over in the past. I did that because we all know what the word group in question means — or so I thought!

problem. Paul repeatedly uses “you” and “your”, not in a second

The word group in question is “you” and “your”. But here it is the not the second person singular sense, but a second person plural. If you were from the south, you might say “yall,” meaning everybody with you. Or you might even use the phrase “all yall all” meaning everybody in the group.

It is these usages that Paul employs in Ephesians. He wants us to see ourselves not as individuals, but a part of a larger body. He wants us to see ourselves in how we relate in community. He wants us to see ourselves in connection. He wants us to see ourselves as contributors toward the whole. He wants us to see ourselves as family, as common structure, as one.

How would your engagement with the church differ if you traded “you singular” for “you plural”? What would change if church was less about you and more about how you relate to others in the body?



Church Is Not Worship

When church becomes more about having a Sunday morning worship experience, believers cease to be the church, and their spiritual lives are ultimately harmed.

I am not sure how many of you reading this will agree with that statement. But it has repeatedly proven to be true.

Here is how it unfolds: As individual believers become primarily concerned that the Sunday worship environment “feed their spirit”, the goal of worship becomes a subjective experience. Did the worship music move me? Did the sermon feed me? Did I “feel” the presence of God’s spirit in worship? 

Do you see it? The Sunday morning worship experience becomes a selfabsorbed, selfserving model. I have to ask, “If we didn’t feel God’s presence does that mean he wasn’t there or that I wasn’t in tune?” And when I am no longer “feeling it”, it becomes easy for me to come less often, drop out all together, or go somewhere else in search of the allusive “feeling”.

But what makes the church the church is not its worship! We can experience music and message without going anywhere.

What makes the church the church is its fellowship!

A church is defined by its “one another” relationships within community … so it isn’t about me as much as it is about us. The church is not so much the place where I get filled up as it is the place where God uses me to help fill others. As we love, serve, grace, accept, forgive, encourage, correct, bear with, honor, and teach one another we are the church. That is why I often say that the most important time for our church is not necessarily the worship time, but the group life time where relationships are born and strengthened.

Yet we need to differentiate between being a “friendly church” and being the church. A “friendly church” is a church that is welcoming and glad to see one another on Sundays, and misses one another when people are absent. However, a “real church” develops relationships which reach beyond Sunday. A church invites and relishes opportunities to get together for prayer, for mutual service, or for just enjoying one another’s company. A “friendly church” is okay with Sunday interaction. A “real church” reaches out to engage with one another on other days of the week in order to build and strengthen deeper relationships.

We can only have these “real church” relationships when church people spend time with other church people. Are you ready to bring other believers into your life and family so we can be the church?



Church Isn’t A Worship Experience

When church becomes more about having a Sunday morning worship experience, believers cease to be the church, and their spiritual lives are ultimately harmed.

I am not sure how many of you reading this will agree with that statement. But it has repeatedly proven to be true.

Here is how it unfolds:

As individual believers become primarily concerned that the Sunday worship environment “feed their spirit”, the goal of worship becomes a subjective experience. Did the worship music move me? Did the sermon feed me? Did I “feel” the presence of God’s spirit in worship?

Do you see it? The Sunday morning worship experience becomes a self-absorbed, self-serving model.  I have to ask, “If we didn’t feel God’s presence does that mean he wasn’t there or that I wasn’t in tune?” And when I am no longer “feeling it”, it becomes easy for me to come less often, drop out all together, or go somewhere else in search of the allusive “feeling”.

But what makes the church the church is not its worship! We can experience music and message without going anywhere.

What makes the church the church is its fellowship!

A church is defined by its “one another” relationships within community … so it isn’t about me as much as it is about us. The church is not so much the place where I get filled up as it is the place where God uses me to help fill others.

As we love, serve, grace, accept, forgive, encourage, correct, bear with, honor, and teach one another we are the church. That is why I often say that the most important time for our church is not necessarily the worship time, but the group life time where relationships are born and strengthened.

Yet we need to differentiate between being a “friendly church” and being the church. A friendly church is a church that is welcoming and glad to see one another on Sundays, and misses one another when people are absent. However, a “real church” develops relationships which reach beyond Sunday. A church invites and relishes opportunities to get together for prayer, for mutual service, or for just enjoying one another’s company. A “friendly church” is okay with Sunday interaction. A “real church” reaches out to engage with one another on other days of the week in order to build and strengthen deeper relationships.

We can only have these “real church” relationships when church people spend time with other church people. Are you ready to bring other believers into your life and family so we can be the church?
 
— Pastor Steve

 



FCCChicago Is Now Live Streaming

In case you are unaware, FCCCHICAGO has begun live streaming the Sunday message on its FACEBOOK page. The Facebook Live stream goes live around 10:35am each Sunday.
 
If weather or illness keeps you from joining us, you can participate in this way.