Three New Questions answered by pastor Sungho Lee
1. Why do we have three services?
Because people have diverse ways to experience God’s love, we try to provide different channels to serve our congregation. We all need to be recognized, loved, and accepted by God, by self, and by others. Otherwise, we try to put on masks, search for fame and money, and carry fancy titles to show off. Once, however, we experience God’s genuine love, we do not need those wrapping papers. We can be free and we can be ourselves and still be happy and content. So we need to experience God’s love!
(1) Holy Communion Service–8:00 AM
Some people experience God’s love through Holy Communion. For example, Susanna Wesley, mother of John Wesley, felt that God loved her when she took the bread and wine from the Communion Table. God gave his blood and flesh for us! We experience God’s love through the bread and wine.
- Some notes on the Wesleyan understanding of the Bread and Wine
Catholics say that the bread and wine have been transformed into Jesus’ body and blood (Substance Theory). Lutherans say that the bread and wine do not change their substances but the body and blood of Jesus exist there physically in and with the bread and wine (Con-Substance Theory). Calvinists say that Jesus exists there in spirit in the bread and wine (Spiritual Existence Theory). Zwingli says that the bread and wine are just symbols to make us to remember Jesus’ body and blood (Symbol or Remembrance Theory). They all focus on the bread and wine.
However, John Wesley paid attention to the people. John Wesley said that the bread and wine change “people.” The bread and wine are not transformed into Jesus’ body and blood. They are still bread and wine (against Catholics). John Wesley also said that Jesus’ body and blood do not exist in the bread and wine. Jesus exists in and with the people (against Lutherans and Calvinists). They are not just symbols. They are means of God’s grace (against other theologians). The bread and wine are the means of Grace, channels through which God’s love is delivered and people are transformed. And Jesus exists not in the bread and wine but in the persons who take the bread and wine. So, when we take the bread and wine, we are transformed into the members of Jesus’ body. It is like the words in the mouth and stomach. (Sermons are words in the ears and minds. Hymns are words in the ears and hearts.)
(2) Praise and Worship—9:00 AM
Some people experience God’s love through music. For example, Charles Wesley, brother of John Wesley, composed so many hymns because that was his way of experience and express God’s love. Hymns and Gospel Songs are our prayer with music. They are also sermons with melody. They can be called Bible Study with rhythms. So many people encounter God through praise and worship. If you are such type of person, come to our 9:00 AM Service.
(3) Community Service—10:30 AM
First service (8:00 AM) provides words in the mouth and the second service (9:00 AM) emphasizes the words in the hearts. The third service (10:30 AM) offers words in the minds. You will listen to the sermon and discuss it in a small group, building a community. That is the reason why it is called “community service.” After the 10:30 service, tables are going to be ready in the Fellowship hall. We can go to the fellowship hall and sit around the table and discuss the sermon that we just heard. Then we can digest it and apply it to our daily lives. We will also have a chance to hear what others have to say. If we think that some of the stories should be shared in the whole congregation, we will give the person an opprtunity to share it in the next Sunday worship service.
2. Why do we need small groups?
Because we need to be recognized, loved, and encouraged to grow in faith every day, we need “peer support.” Have you heard the phrase, “peer pressure”? When our friends or significant others give us some kind of pressure, we are forced to do some things against our will. Many young people suffer from the peer pressure and taste drugs and experience pre-marital sex. However, peer pressure works in a positive way also. AA or FA groups use the “peer support” system. People with the same concerns get together and discuss their issues and support each other to overcome their problems. That is the best proven way to face life difficulties. So, small groups are “peer support system” in our faith journey. We are all humans with basic needs and issues: physical weakness, mental and spiritual emptiness, financial insecurity, accidents, unexpected road blocks and detours in life journey, and “it-happens” in relationships. Because we share all these experiences, we can talk and find out that we are not alone in this pit. We can climb up from this deep cave together. Isn’t it a great feeling for us to have a companion in life?
3. How many small groups are there in our church?
There are many small groups. You can belong to as many groups as you want. Here is the guideline. There are basically three types of small groups.
(1) First, we have “Invitational” small groups. We invite people to experience God’s love. Worship is one of such invitational ministry. However, there are many small groups for those who are not comfortable enough to come to the church worship. We can invite out friends in those groups to check us out.
(2) Second, we have “Nurturing” small groups. Bible studies are examples. However, there are many other small groups for your spiritual growth. If we come to church just once a week and have public worship service on Sundays, we cannot grow. It is like for us to have one meal a week (!). I encourage all of us to be a part of at least three (!) small groups. For example, if you are a choir member, you can have one Bible study and one UMW circle. If you are a Thursday yard crew, you can have one Bible study and one FA meeting. Combination of three meals a week will help all of us to grow. (If you have not attended any small group and wondered why you have not grown in faith, now you know why.)
(3) Third, we have “Sending” small groups. Mission team is the best example. However, we send people not only to foreign countries. We can send people to domestic mission sites, to local missions or to church ministries. So, we can serve homeless people in our area as many of us are doing. We can serve our church as volunteers in many small groups. After we are fed and nurtured, we need to do some exercise of our faith. Otherwise, we will be “spiritually overweight (in other words, become very judgmental and legalistic).” When we serve others and share what we have with others, we know how hard it is to be a “growing Christian” and have rooms for some mistakes that ourselves and others make.
Even though we have many small groups, they are basically (1) Invitational, (2) Nurturing, and (3) Sending small groups. As you see already, because sending groups send some people back into church, these three groups are in a positively growing cycle. This growing cycle is supported by the Networking Ministry (SPRC, Finance, Trustee, Lay Leadership Development, and Endowment).
So, our church has this NINS connection:
The detailed descriptions of our church ministry are in the August Newsletter. Please read it in our church home page. You can create new teams and new small groups in this full picture. However, there are some guidelines to do that. When you create new teams, you may want to ask these questions:
(1) For the Invitational Groups: 3 P
We want to help people to answer these questions: What is the purpose of your life; do you have any plan to achieve that purpose; do you have any partner who wants to do that with you?
(2) For Nurturing Groups: 3 V
We want to help people to answer these questions: What are the most valuable things in your life; what is your view-point of things; what is your vision in your life?
(3) For Sending Groups: 3 S
We want to help people to answer these questions: What do you want to share with others; whom do you want to serve in your life; and what do you have to give up to make your life simple enough to serve and share?
If you are ready to help others in answering those questions in your new small groups, do not hesitate to create a new one. May God be with us all when we create and recreate our ministry for God’s kingdom and for God’s people!