Have you ever made a Thanksgiving List?
What are the first ten items you would write on a list of things you are thankful for? Your spouse. Your family. Your home. Your job. A friend or two. Oh yeah. This is about the point I have to go back and put Christ at the top of the list. (But, seriously, if you’re making a thanksgiving list at church, doesn’t it go without saying that Jesus is already at the top of the list of people you would say thank you to?)
I think (or at least hope) that people top the list for most of us. If that’s true, when was the last time you honestly told those people how much you appreciate them? This past week I was texting back and forth with one of our ministry leaders. Toward the end of the conversation, they took one text message to simply say, “Thanks for supporting my ministry.” Wow. That meant a lot. It was simple and sincere. Have you noticed how meaningful simple sincerity is in our world full of sarcasm and shiny things.
Say A Simple, Sincere “Thank You”
This morning I want to ask everyone in our church to do something that I think just might revolutionize our relationships here at CrossRoads. I want you to make a list of five people in our church family you owe a simple, sincere “Thank you.” Then, I want to challenge you to settle that debt. This week I want you to say “Thank you” in a way each person will appreciate. Here are the rules: it has to be simple – nothing flashy, nothing expensive. You don’t have to build a cake or anything. Just send a card or a text or take them for coffee. It has to be sincere. No sarcasm allowed. I know. Sarcasm is fun. But, I’m afraid when we say thanks with sarcasm, it still has some teeth. It still causes a little pain.
We are at a very special place in the life of our church. Let’s take a week to say “thank you” and remember the incredible people God has made a part of our journey together.
I want to say a great big thanks this morning to all of you who have been part of growing God’s kingdom! Our Small Groups are one of the most impactful ways we are making a difference here at CrossRoads. These groups are a big deal because they allow us to do all the important things we need to do for each other that we can’t take care of on Sunday mornings. Our Small Groups are where we get to sit down and discuss the Bible and encourage one another each week. We get to ask one another the questions we really want answered. We share the challenges we are facing and the victories we’ve won. We pray for one another and share communion. When someone is sick, it’s their Small Group who steps up to make sure they have everything they need. And when we have friends who have spiritual questions but aren’t interested in “going to church,” our Small Groups become places they can begin to follow Jesus without the pressures of big crowds and unfamiliar surroundings.
Over the last nine months we doubled the number of Small Groups meeting each week. By the time we started Explore God together, we had almost seventy adults and teenagers meeting to talk about God together each week. At CrossRoads we have two different kinds of Small Groups that each have a specific purpose helping people follow Jesus. Our Home Groups consist mostly of people who attend CrossRoads on Sunday mornings. They give each family who is part of our Sunday services a place to call home and a group of friends to walk with them on their journey with Christ each week. Our House Churches are a slightly different flavor of Small Group. Our House Churches are started by people in whose life God has placed a special desire to help people follow Jesus who don’t really want to “go to church” on Sunday morning. They begin praying for people in their lives and listening for someone to ask a spiritual question. When they begin to hear spiritual questions, they invite the people asking those questions to get together with them to talk about what it means to follow Jesus. Over the past year we have found there are a lot of people in our culture who have spiritual questions even if they aren’t interested in “going to church.” And, believe it or not, at CrossRoads we believe you can follow Jesus even if you don’t feel comfortable attending a church on Sunday mornings. (We believe this so strongly, we don’t even ask you why you don’t want to “go to church.” Weird, right?) Why? We believe Jesus commands us to invite people to trust in Jesus and begin following him. We believe the Bible teaches that no one can follow Jesus alone. But, we we’ve never found the verse where Jesus says a church should have a minimum size or must be led by someone with a seminary degree, so we offer people the chance to follow Jesus with a handful of friends who care about them and are committed to meeting their needs and helping them follow Jesus. Throw in communion and occasional baptisms and you know what you call that? Church! (And that, my friends, is why we call them House Churches.) So, if you haven’t found a Home Group or House Church to call your own, I want to invite you to become one of the cool kids by finding a Small Group where you can grow together with us.
This Thursday night we will kick off one more new House Church at Chris and Mandi’s house in Northwest Fort Worth. If you would like more info about Chris and Mandi’s new group or any of our other Small Groups, send me a note. I’d love to help you find a Home Group or House Church to call home!
There were a couple surreal moments this week as Back to the Future day came and went. I admit there was some nostalgia as I thought back over the past thirty years of life. It’s funny that thirty years later a sci-fi comedy is causing so many people to ask, “Is this what I expected?” I couldn’t find a radio host Thursday who didn’t banter about the wonder of the iPhone or lament that we aren’t all flying ourselves to work every day.
In 1985 I was a ten-year-old who couldn’t see past his next birthday when Doc Brown set the destination date in the Delorean for October 21, 2015. Having spent half that time here at CrossRoads, as much of my reflection contained images of your lives as my own hopes, dreams, accomplishments and shortcomings.
I remembered the first time Shelly and I walked into the Fossil Creek AMC theater (a little overdressed). I remembered the Saturday morning I missed our dress rehearsal for our fist Sunday in Spicer Elementary because I was filling out a police report after my ’88 Nissan Sentra was broken into. I remembered hours and hours of band rehearsals at Paul and Teresa’s house with a bunch of musicians who made me look like a middle-school kid with a department store guitar. I remembered a smoking section outside our back door full of people who realized we cared so much about them, we weren’t going to judge them for a bad habit. I remembered Guy who had been burned by a church where he had served leading music and found healing and love as his daughter and her friends found a home in our youth ministry. I remembered Rob who knew he wanted to find Jesus but found CrossRoads to be the first church that communicated the message of Jesus in an understandable, non-threatening way (without people who freaked him out). I remembered Ed cruising up to the elementary school in his wheelchair, and I remembered conversations with him about eternity has he watched it bearing down on him like an out-of-control freight train – with the confidence of a man who had found his savior.
I can’t say that I’m surprised about what our world looks like in 2015. (I’m not sure I ever bought into flying cars.) I guess the one thing that surprises me most about our church is best summed up in the words of Karen who called CrossRoads, “the best kept secret here in North Texas.” I think she was right – and still is. My hope for our church fifteen or thirty years from now is that we would be able to communicate how much love there is in this place, how much joy we find in Christ and how willing we are to accept people who are looking for a savior. If you have found what Karen, Guy, Rob and Ed found as part of CrossRoads, I want to ask you to do one simple thing: keep letting the secret out. I am confident that we will continue to see God do great things as people find him here with us.