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At the Halfway Mark

We’ve arrived at the halfway point of 2019 and so it would seem to be a good idea to look back at what God has been doing at Five Forks so far this year.  It would also seem appropriate to look ahead at what the second half of the year might bring.
 Late in 2018 we determined that our theme this year would be Knowing, Loving, and Following Jesus with a particular emphasis on Following.   Jesus clearly calls us not only to believe in Him, but follow Him.  And so we kicked off 2019 with a 3-week sermon series titled “Knowing, Loving, Following Jesus” in order to establish a foundation that would carry us throughout the year.   
 In February we began a new series based on the words that Jesus spoke as He delivered the Sermon on the Mount.  Because of the length of this sermon – which has been called a clear roadmap for those who desire to follow Jesus  – we made the decision to break this series into 3 parts. 
 In February and March we did Part I (Matthew chapter 5) which was notable for how many times Jesus would say these words:  “You have heard that it was said…” before referring to some well-known laws or commands from the Old Testament.  Even more notable was what Jesus would say next:  “But I tell you…” and then He would proceed to take those familiar words from the Old Testament and take them to a whole new level.   From outward obedience to heart obedience.  And so every week we would look at different issues that you and I often deal with:  anger, lust, integrity of our words and lives, living peaceably.  
We took a break in April (Easter series) and May (Core Values of the BIC), before picking back up with Part II in June.  What is notable about this section (Matthew chapter 6) is how Jesus continues to challenge us to examine what is happening in our hearts, challenging us to consider our motivation when it comes to our giving (don’t announce it with trumpets), and when it comes to prayer which is where we find ourselves here in early July (Jesus tells us not to stand praying on the street corner in order to be seen by others).  In a few weeks Jesus will address our heart motivation when it comes to fasting.    
He has been and will continue to teach us what it looks like to follow Him.  And we are learning that following Jesus is about much more than keeping the letter of the laws; that to truly follow Him we listen, learn, obey and follow in every aspect of our lives, including from within our hearts.   
Aside from the sermons, we’ve seen some new ministries (such as our Young Adult Ministry and our Women’s Ministry) become quite active in the church and community.  And just last week many volunteers came together and were used by Jesus to offer a very meaningful Vacation Bible School to children in our church and in our community.  The teachers and song leaders were passionate about teaching the children who attended what it means to believe in and follow Jesus.  
What should we be looking for in the second half of 2019?   We’ll finish Part II of the Sermon on the Mount series at the end of July before picking back up with Part III in September.   In August we’ll have a 4-week sermon series called From Slavery To Intimacy – through Moses/through Jesus. 
We will also be holding our second Connect Lunch of 2019 on Sunday, September 29th.  This is where the staff and others on our Connect Team welcome and get to know those who have started attending Five Forks in the past year.  After a light lunch take those attending on a tour of the church. The first Connect Lunch we held in the Spring was fantastic, and we are looking forward to the next one this Fall as individuals and families continue to come and worship with us.
The Sunday after the Connect Lunch we will be introducing a new event.   We will offer a 3-week Connect Class that will be held the first 3 Sundays in October (6th, 13th, 20th).  Those who attended the Connect Lunch will be encouraged to attend these 3 classes, but it will also be open to anyone who is looking to get connected here at Five Forks. The first week we will be talking about Who We Are and What We Believe.   The second week we will talk about How We Function (staff structure and roles, the role of our Church Board, Annual Council, different services, different ways that information gets communicated, etc.).  The third week we will talk about opportunities to get connected and involved in the life of our church.
The Sunday after the final Connect Class we will introduce yet another new event, a 5-week discipleship class.  It will begin on Sunday morning, October 27th and continue for all four Sundays in November.   Here we will have the opportunity talk and discuss as a group what following Jesus looks like in our day to day lives.  This will be led by Pastor Bill during the 9:30 hour and might also be offered at 7:00pm on the Wednesday evenings during those same weeks.  
There are a lot of good things that have been happening so far in 2019, and we are looking forward to what the Lord will do among us in these next six months. 
We trust that so far this year God has spoken to you personally, providing you with insight and understanding when it comes to following Jesus.  It is a process, but one that is life-changing.   May He continue to speak, teach us and change us throughout the rest of this year!