Talking with the carpet installers, I started understanding the product we are receiving. Our old carpet was laid in and stretched to make a nice, tight fit. You might remember, a few years ago we had the carpet “restretched” to remove some bubbles and wrinkles that formed over time. The new carpet, on the other hand, is glued down. They first glue down the padding to the sub-floor and then they glue the carpet to the padding. This too will be stretched to a nice, tight fit. The difference however is that it will never bubble or wrinkle. It should remain in place for the life of the carpet. For the size of the room and the heavy use it receives, this is a superior application to the old way.
Thinking about the renovations at the church, I was encouraged by a story that Henry and Richard Blackaby tell in their book Spiritual Leadership. They reflect on a small church they knew that had experienced decline and loss of purpose over the years. The remaining members were discouraged and all but ready to give up. The church facility was so neglected that sections of it no longer met civic safety codes. Finding the church building was difficult for visitors, and pastors had complained for years that its poor location had greatly restricted church growth. After many years in spiritual limbo, it appeared there was little left for the church to do but to disband.
In an act of desperation, the church called a young pastor fresh out of seminary who refused to believe that God was finished with this church or that God was unable to use this church to impact the community for Christ. He encouraged the people to pray. God began working. New people began visiting and joining the church. Renovations were made to the building. A ministry staff was organized. A sense of excitement grew among the people that God was preparing their church for something special. The church’s reputation in the community changed. It became known as one of the most alive churches in the city!
I share this story not to compare us to them. In fact, I think there are many areas of life in our congregation. Rather, I share this story because I hope the renovation that is happening continues over into our ministry. I hope we regain a clear focus for what we are supposed to be doing in our community. Like the young pastor in Henry and Richard’s story, I believe God still wants to do great things through Blainsport Mennonite Church. Notice I said God will do something through us not that we will do something for God. Big difference. We are limited if we try to do something in our community for God. If God is doing the work through us, the possibilities and results are limitless.
Would you pray for our church? Would you pray that God will renovate our hearts, our impact in the community, and our usefulness for Him? This Sunday, Dave Wise is preaching a message entitled “The Renovations Aren't Complete.” No doubt, he will focus on our personal transformation and God’s desire to work through us for the good of everyone with whom we share life. I love how Pastor Craig Groeschel describes a fully renovated, culture-impacting, Christ-honoring church, “The local church is the hope of the world and we know we can accomplish inﬁnitely more together than apart.” Is it time for you to allow God to do some renovations in you so we can be a church that brings the hope of Christ to a world desperately in need of the Savior? I found this “Morning Prayer” commitment published by Global Leadership Summit that might help you take a simple daily step in partnering with the whole congregation as we allow God to work through us.
Good news! The carpet is being installed today. It is starting to feel as though the renovation project is really taking shape. Yes, they need to finish the carpet, the curtains, reset the pews, and clean up but having the carpet installed makes the sanctuary feel like a different place.
Bible School is going very well. I’d like to encourage you to choose at least one of the remaining nights of Bible School to stop in and see all the activity. Attendance records have been broken on these first two nights. Last night there were 112 children in attendance! That marks the biggest group since Reinholds Community Vacation Bible School started seven years ago.
What a weekend! I am so glad I had the opportunity to see God at work in the lives of people in our church and community.
First of all, regarding the church renovation project, wood blocks were installed on the sanctuary floor by a number of guys from our congregation. These wood blocks will reinforce the floor where the pews are attached. Before, the pews became loose as the carpet padding wore over time. The screws that held the pews down eventually stripped out and the pews would rock when people were seated. This preventative step should help hold the pews tightly in place. After the worship gathering on Sunday, many people took the time to write on the wood blocks the names or initials of those they are asking God to rescue. We want each of those people to have a seat in our church so that they can hear the lifesaving message of the Gospel. By taking the step of writing their names, these individuals were asking God to invade that person’s life—and committing to fervently pray for that person (see James 5:16).
Meeting in the tent was a different experience. Overwhelmingly I heard people say it was a great thing to do. I even heard someone say that we should plan to do it again even without being displaced from our sanctuary. We had a beautiful morning. It was cool (and windy) making it comfortable to be outside. It was nice to have Ralph moderate. He noted how full the tent was. It makes a difference having people sit together in a smaller area. Maybe we should all plan to sit closer together (moving closer to the front) every Sunday when we move back into the sanctuary!
I heard that one young child was paying close attention to the message on Sunday morning. When his parents asked what the message was about, the young man said, “We should get into a closet, draw a circle around ourselves, and pray for the person in the circle.” I love it! If it was that easy for a child to understand than it should certainly be clear to all the adults—and what a difference it would make in our world if each of us prayed for personal revival.
Vacation Bible School started Sunday night. It was a great way to end the weekend. The first night attendance was the highest since the start of Community Bible School. It was a pleasure to see community churches working together to teach the Gospel message to children in our community. To start off the evening, parents, children, and VBS helpers shared a meal together. I would have been thrilled with hotdogs and beans but instead had a wonderfully prepared chicken dinner. That went way beyond my expectations. I got to talk with parents and kids throughout the evening. Everyone was appreciative of the hard work that went into planning this event. From decorations to singing, from the chicken dinner to Bible stories, I thought things were done with excellence. Way to go!
Now, for the progress in the sanctuary today. The carpet padding was installed. The installers said this is a top quality padding that lasts. We should be happy with the performance of this padding. They were also appreciative of the work put into the wood blocking. They noted that it was extremely well done which makes their job easier. Stan arrived early to run through what the installers were planning. He has been a great project manager. Without fail, Stan checks in to make sure the project is on schedule and done to Blainsport standards. I think Stan does an exceptional job in this role.
Today is pretty quiet at the church. Jon Wenrich and his boys are doing some work on the air conditioner but other than that nothing inside. Outside on the other hand has lots going on. Dylan Wise is busy mowing the lawn and the tent is being erected for Sunday morning. Remember to bring your lawn chairs for the worship gathering at 10 AM.
Another exciting thing happening today is wheat harvest. It is amazing to see the golden yellow in the fields.
I’m reminded of the driving words of Jesus that motivated those who started our church 90 years ago: “You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest” (John 4:35, NLT). Farmers have a period of waiting between their sowing and their harvesting. In the spiritual realm however, the wait is not long at all. Since Jesus came, we have the opportunity to extend His saving grace to others—that’s the harvest! All we need is to open our eyes to see how many people are in need of the Savior.
I think one way we can be faithful harvesters is to prayerfully desire to see unbelieving people become committed followers of Jesus Christ. Would you prayerfully consider bringing someone to our worship gathering this Sunday? The setting is informal and the morning is short (no Sunday School). Our predecessors loved this community so much that they reached those who were far from Christ. Let that be our legacy—being faithful harvesters who love our neighbors enough to tell them about the Savior.
Today it is quiet at the church. The painters have moved on and the carpet is not scheduled until Monday. Here are some photos of the finished painting.
I was thrilled to see how far the painters have come. This afternoon the sanctuary is cleared out and Shop-Vacs are running. Some of the painters had small brushes to touch up walls and trim. I also noticed that the light colored accent wall at the cross has turned several shades darker. Some of you might be interested to know that the big “Hi” on the ceiling is gone. I can hardly wait to see the difference carpet will make.
It looks as though the painters were able to make good time in the sanctuary, stairs and rooms. Today they painted all the ceilings. Tomorrow they will do some touch-up and then they are done. They commented that the rooms were all ready for them saving them time. Thanks to all who cleared and prepared the place beforehand—it made a difference.
Wow! I have to say, things are looking good in the sanctuary. On Friday and Saturday, the painters made some noticeable progress. You don’t notice all the sanding, caulking, and taping that consumes hours of time. What you do notice is painted walls and trim. I think the contrast in colors makes the place look amazing. Those who picked the colors—great job!
Born in Reading, Pennsylvania, Eric grew up in the little town of Gibraltar, PA with his grandparents.