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City Blog: January 2013 — December 2013

November 11, 2013

How can we do small church well?

Ashley Mason
I was surprised when Pastor Ben asked me this at our (what now has become) regular Friday morning breakfast meetings. I wasn’t caught off guard by what he asked, but more amused by its implication because for a long time we’ve strategized about how to fill more of our comfy theater seats. The idea of embracing a small church and accepting us for what we are was a cozy thought. As one of the hospitality leaders, I’d like to think we’re a pretty friendly church. Our team of greeters welcomes guests on their way in and we’ve pushed our ...
October 31, 2013

Back to basics - doing small church well

Benjamin Spalink
Let’s face it – we’re a small church.  On a good Sunday, our attendance is in the high 70s. But being a small church isn’t a bad thing – in fact, lots of people I talk to come to City Grace because it’s small.  That’s what they like about it.  There’s one word that jumps out when you consider what is good about a small church – relationships.  Besides Jesus, that’s our main selling point.  If we forget about relationships, we’ll be giving up on our most important asset. Our church is small.  The programs are not glamorous. The worship is ...
October 18, 2013

A Culture of Excellence - for church leaders

Benjamin Spalink
The culture of an organization is terribly important.  It affects not so much what is done, but how.  Churches look the same on the outside.  You have a worship service.  You have small groups.  You have leaders and pastors.  You have community.  You have coffee and snacks.  But the culture of the church is about how things are done, and about what things mean or symbolize within that organization. Having come to the East Coast, I was struck by the warmth of the coastal culture.  I was shocked upon walking into church in NJ that men and ...
May 28, 2013

Does Jesus Really Care?

Benjamin Spalink
If you've been a Christian for any length of time, you've no doubt been told in a conciliatory fashion - "Don't worry, Jesus cares."  We all know Jesus cares.  Or do we. Sometimes to know something is true we need to see it afresh. Reading the Gospel of John recently, I was struck by what happens to Jesus when he enters Bethany to address the passing of his friend Lazarus.  Jesus was a family friend.  Mary and Martha are devastated - their brother is dead. What's more, they are in agony over the certain knowledge that if Jesus had been ...
May 21, 2013

To walk on water, keep eyes on Jesus

Benjamin Spalink
Ministry has its ups and downs.  Recently, a local NJ pastor, Ken Vanderwall, was recognized for 45 years of campus ministry in NJ. Imagine the dedication and commitment it takes to do anything, let alone campus ministry, for that long!  Ken has become more and more effective with young people as he gets older. He’s in the prime of his ministry right now and is so enthusiastic, he doesn’t want to quit even though he’s past retirement age.  The Gospels tell a story meant to inspire this kind of dedication and commitment.  The disciples are ...
May 13, 2013

Checking Your Vitals

Benjamin Spalink
Top 10 signs your relationship with God is on track (As with any journey, sometimes you have to backtrack when you realize you’ve made a wrong turn.  These characteristics are what you should expect to see in general. This list is not exhaustive.)   Your life is characterized by less and less anxiety and more and more peace. Obedience to God feels less like obligation and more like opportunity. There is less self-preoccupation and more concern about the needs of others You are becoming more comfortable in your own skin because you ...

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