“Join Hands’ WAY #10

WAY 10: JOIN HANDS Work as a team. Collaborate with each other, our professional staff, our lay leaders, and our congregants to find the best solutions. Collaboration lightens the load, generates better ideas than individuals working alone, and unleashes the gifts God has given us all. (Ecclesiastes 4:9;   Proverbs 27:17)
 
THIS SUMMER, I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Salyersville, Kentucky with the Moorestown chapter of the Appalachia Service Project (ASP). I had been wanting to go on a missions trip for years, but with four kids, an overworked husband and a lively household to run, I could never seem to break away. When my son Christian decided to go on ASP this past summer, I knew my time had come to “jump in” and “join hands.” If I waited for life to quiet down, I was never going anywhere!
 
So, on July 21 in the wee hours of the morning, I drove one of the 15 vans full of sleepy-eyed kids on a 10-hour journey to Southeastern Kentucky. Over 100 Moorestown High School students and several adult chaperones came together to serve the poverty stricken people of Salyersville. Each morning before we left for our work sites, we “joined hands”… literally … in prayer. We prayed for the families we were serving and for the grace and wisdom to know how to best help them. Then we piled back into the vans, tool boxes in tow, to again “join hands” and as a team consulted, collaborated and planned the day at our sites.
 
I was not expecting what happened next … There is an unspoken power in God’s people “joining hands”, an intangible bonding and connecting that happens when we work together towards a common goal to serve each other. Virtual strangers, united in prayer and bound by faith, become FAMILY connected by the power of a shared experience. The Holy Spirit was alive and moving among us. By the end of the week, my team and I had not only renovated a bathroom and a laundry room, but we extended our family circles to include each other and the beautiful Kentucky family that welcomed us into their home. I cried when we left Salyersville (not a shock to those who know me!) overwhelmed with gratitude to be part of such a wonderful program.
 
Moral of the story? Don’t be afraid to JUMP IN and JOIN HANDS! Matthew 18:20 tells us, “For where two or more are gathered together in MY name, I am there in the midst of them.” There are so many ways, big and small, to jump in to this vibrant FPC community… DO IT TODAY! Don’t wait for life to quiet down. The Holy Spirit moves easily through chaos …
 
Elder Tamara Trzeciak

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“Speak the Truth with Love”

#2: SPEAK THE TRUTH WITH LOVE.
 
Speak honestly and directly in a way that clearly reflects love and support for one another. Be courageous enough to say what needs to be said, even when it’s difficult. Address issues directly with those who are involved or affected; speak to, not about, others.
  • Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4: 29)
  • Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. (Ephesians 4: 31)
  • Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church (Ephesians 4: 15)
As we begin the exciting work of shaping the culture of our Church Family, this second Way reminds us that we’re committed to telling the truth to each other and we’re committed to loving one another. At this church, we’re chained to each commitment. At a personal level, I need to stay open to hearing truth and receiving love. Those who love me best bring both to me and I won’t grow in my Christian faith without those friends speaking the truth with love.
I can remember moments from the past when someone loved me enough to tell me something hard. Perhaps I said a hurtful word or I made a foolish decision or I sinned greatly. I can look back gratefully now, though it was painful then, as I recall the gift of truth given me. At that moment truth functions very much like a bright light in a dark room. A word of truth spoken with love helps me see and thus change. I don’t have to continue living selfishly or hurtfully. I can live differently thanks to those who speak to me directly, truthfully and lovingly.
 
“Well-meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”  – Proverbs 27: 6
Stuart Spencer, Pastor

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SIX WORDS

FANS OF THE PHILADELPHIA EAGLES are still pinching themselves in disbelief. Who can believe that the football hit by the Chicago Bears’ kicker could doink off the uprights of the field goal not once but twice to ensure the Eagles’ victory in last Sunday’s playoff game?
 
Nick Foles, St. Nick, to many Eagles fanatics, did what he has done in game after big time game: he played with an aw-shucks, who-me poise. After the game when asked what’s going through his mind in these high-pressure situations, Foles said this: “What I learned on those stages is just how to calm myself in a chaotic moment, when there’s … a ton of pressure. And just really simplifying in my head. Getting in the huddle, looking at the guys that I trust. Know that it’s all on the line for us and we’re just going to get the job done.”
Foles then summed up the lesson in six simple words: “It’s just belief in one another.”
 
In an article published online by Inc. magazine, the author heard in those six words uttered by the Eagles backup quarterback a key to creating an effective team or organization of any kind. The author wrote: “Foles’s comments may be inspiring, but they’re also backed up by serious research. For example, Google spent years studying effective teams and found that a single factor contributed most to their success: psychological safety. Google describes it this way: ‘In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea.’ There’s a simpler term for psychological safety, and it’s one that Foles used repeatedly through his postgame interview: The word is trust. And great teams thrive on it.”
 
This morning, I am thrilled to introduce to you what I’m calling the FPCM Ways. These are twenty-five statements that are all about creating an atmosphere similar to what the Eagles have created. I hope that we can create an atmosphere thick with love here. I hope we can fashion plenty of psychological safety. After all, the mighty defense of the Chicago Bears is nothing in comparison to the challenges we face as a congregation. But I know that we’re a great team and with committed, weekly practice of our 25 Ways, and the sure help of the Holy Spirit, we’re headed to some big wins – for the glory of God!
 
Stuart Spencer, Pastor

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“Creating an Atmosphere Thick With Love”

As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you: Live a life that is worthy of the calling He has graciously
extended to you. Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. – Ephesians 4: 1 – 2, The Voice

IN MAY OF 2018 when I began my ministry at First Presbyterian Church of Moorestown I had three words in mind: Ready, Aim, Fire. “Ready” refers to culture. I wanted to understand the atmosphere of this church to help shape a strong and healthy culture. “Aim” means the work of creating strategy and vision. “Fire” is when we take action on our strategy. Just as we wisely aim before we fire, or implement our strategy; we ready ourselves before aiming.
There is a proverb from the business world and attributed to Peter Drucker that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Whatever plans you may have and no matter how gifted your leaders may be, the culture of an organization both dominates what is done and dictates the future.
 
Not long after I started my ministry I met a Moorestown resident and businessman named David Friedman, president of High Performing Culture and author of Culture by Design. David now works with corporations and non-profits to help create healthy cultures. He has kindly and generously offered his services, free of charge, to our church.
To me, the work of culture-creating is deeply rooted in the teachings of the New Testament. There are some 60 commands that include the words “one another” found throughout the New Testament. These are commands to form a culture that honors the Lord Jesus Christ and creates an atmosphere where fellowship and mission can flourish.
Throughout this fall, I have been working closely with our staff and Session and received input from our Deacons and Trustees on this matter of our culture. We’ve created 25 culture statements or “ways” that identify and describe the kind of church we want to be.
 
Here’s the first “way” with some scriptural references:
 
BE THIRD. God is first, others are second, and you’re third. Don’t just think about your own interests, but be interested in others.  Don’t think less of yourself; just think of yourself less and others more.  Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2: 4)  “And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.  I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”
(John 13: 14, 15)
 
Be sure to be in worship on Sunday, January 13th. At both services, we will share our 25 culture or way statements. I will preach on the biblical and theological basis for this exciting work. You will receive a copy of all our FPCM ways with information about how to learn more as we start to live these principles together.

May the Holy Spirit create an atmosphere thick with love here.
Stuart Spencer, Pastor


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