Men’s Fellowship Gathers with Pastor Chris Heckert (1/8/16)

Posted by on Jan 9, 2016 in Bible Study, EventReport, men, UMM | 0 comments

The Men’s Fellowship group held their monthly gathering on Saturday January 8.  The gathering took place in a brand new year, but our speaker was a familiar face.

 

GNJAC15 Faces- Pastor Chris _IMG_2169Joining us was Rev. Chris Heckert, who is now serving as the senior pastor in the Haddonfield United Methodist Church.  Pastor Chris was our associate pastor between 2004 and 2006 (during our “tabernacling days” after the fire while we met in the downtown storefront).

During his time here he blessed us with his amazing guitar playing, real-life sermons (with heartfelt stories about his school teachers while growing up in western PA), and with his love and leadership as a brother in Christ.

 

Means of Grace

Pastor Chris opened his time with us by giving us the background on a 300 year old sermon.  No, it wasn’t given by Pastor Jim… this sermon was given by John Wesley, and it rattled the established church.  The sermon and the topic Wesley preached has become to be known as the “Wesleyan Means of Grace.”   Wesley presented the church with the challenge that they were looking at certain church practices such as communion as an end unto themselves.  Instead, he urged us to look at sacraments such as communion, baptism, and even prayer and worship to be only various means to a common end.

The things done by a church must bring people into God’s arms of grace (both those inside the church and outside of it).  Much of what the church does is done (sometimes better) by other organizations.  The Kiwanis Club, Scouts, and even bowling leagues provide things which are similar to what the church provides.  But the church is the one organization which must purpose to do these same things as a means to bring people into a closer relationship with God.

 

What, How, and Why?

We’re good at planning the “Whats”: Sunday worship, Bible School, Tuesday Night Dinners, Men’s Fellowship “Gatherings”… even church website posts.  We can even work out the “Hows” of how we organize and put these activities together.

But where’s the “Why” in all of it?

The “Whats” and the “Hows” can change over time in order to adapt to an ever changing audience and circumstances.  But our “Why” should be consistent.  Consider two companies: Blackberry and Apple…

Blackberry made the first “smart phone” devices. Their goal was to make a device which brought “email to the hip.” They created portable Internet access. When other companies started to do the same thing, and began to do it better than them, they had nowhere to go.

Their “What” had been surpassed, and they had no guidance of a solid “Why” to lead them to the next stage.

Apple had (has) a much broader vision. From the beginning, they were focused on the “Why,” and were open to adapting their “What” and “How” in order to further their purpose.

Apple’s goal is to put technology into the hands of common people.  Big companies and the government has access to huge, powerful… and expensive technologies.  But Apple wanted to give that same access to the common person.  Their “Why” isn’t limited to simply being a great Mobile Device or even computer company.   Their “Why” is to make technology available to anyone.  Their products can change in order to advance their vision.

Martin Luther King Jr saidMemorial-ML King _IMG_1881

I Have a Dream

not

I have a Plan.” 

He never lost his vision of the “Why”:  the ever pressing dream of equality and justice.

 

Why, not What!

Why is the church here?  What’s our purpose?  We  provide things such as friendship, support, encouragement, education, and worship.  These are our “Whats.”  But other  organizations outside of the church provide many of the same things.  If other worthwhile organizations and activities can provide the same “Whats” we strive to provide, why are we here?

Wesley said that religion is evil unless it is a religion of the heart.  If it doesn’t lead us to experience God and to love God, it’s useless.  Religion must transform hearts, or faith is dead.  If we don’t have a clear vision of the “Why”, all of the things we do (the “Whats”) will go nowhere.

 

So What is Our Why?

When we think of the church, and more specifically, disciples of Jesus Christ, we are reminded of His commandment in Matthew 22:37-40:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’   This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’   All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

This is the unique command to the Church- to love God with complete devotion and to share the fruits of that relationship with our neighbors.  When Paul talks about Love in 1 Corinthians 13 he’s talking about something that runs against worldly culture…

Be patient (even in a traffic jam)…
Be kind (even in a supermarket line)…
Be content (even if your friend gets a new car)…
Don’t demand your own way (even when traffic is merging into your lane)…
Don’t delight in evil (even when your least favorite politician gets caught)…

 

The apostle John tells us (in 1 John 4:7-12)…

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

The “Why” of the church, then is to Love.  Even in the face of going against worldly convention; even in the face of ridicule, doubt and outright opposition, our vision- our “Why”- is to love.  Everything we do must lead to Love; both Love for God and Love for our neighbors.

 

Hitting the Target

Simon Simek, an author and expert on leadership models, has proposed a 3-ring target figure showing the relationship between an organization’s “Why”, “What”, and “How.”  In this figure, the “Why” is the bulls eye- at the Targetcenter of  the diagram.  The next ring outwards is “How”, and the outer ring is “What.”

Why…

In the church, the inner (red) ring is Love.  All that we do must be drawn towards the vision of love for God and for our neighbors.

How…

But how do we love?  We love (and are loved) by building Relationships with each other.  It is through these relationships that we encourage eachother in the faith, where we become valuable to others, where we know others so we can express and receive love.

What…

What we do is to offer Experiences.  We offer and share in Experiences such as Bible study, worship, dinners, and even pizza and bowling so that we can build relationships with God and each other so that we can love God and each other.

 

UMM Pastor Chris 2016-01-09 _IMG_2915

Traveling the Target

Love is not only the goal,  it is the driving force.  This diagram shows us that we move through the three rings.  It’s a progression.

We move inwards…  We do things together; experiences.  Through these experiences we build relationships.  We build trust.  And from those relationships we move on to Love.  We share and sacrifice for each other.  And we learn from each other and are motivated by each other so we can grow into a more loving relationship with God.

And we also move outwards…  Because of our love for God we reach out to others and get to know them. We get to know their needs, pains, and fears.  From there we can move outwards to engage in experiences which help fill these needs.

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If we focus on the “What” and don’t have a clear vision of the “Why”, we’ll miss this progression.  Our “Whats” might be great things for a moment, but without a firm “Why” foundation, they will quickly grow stale.

The question for all of us:  Do the things we do drive us into a deeper Love relationship with God?  If not, all of our activity is like  “a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

What’s YOUR Why???

 

 

 

Pastor Chris is also a communications expert and avid photographer. In fact, after leaving PUMC in 2006, he served with the Global Board of Missions for the United Methodist Church as the Director of Missions Communications.   During those years, the presence of his camera was as much a fixture at Annual Conference as his guitar!hands

Undoubtedly, you’ve seen the favicon of our website; the hands holding the cross.

This was Pastor Chris’ idea and he is the one who actually took this picture!

 

 

 

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For more info about our Men’s Fellowship group, click this button:  Men’s Fellowship

 

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