---Grace Notes

 
One of my main tasks as the Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Moorestown is assuming the role of a spy. As I stand beside our people in worship and service I am constantly watching for signs of God’s grace at work here. In this sense, I’m a spy for grace. Very often, we’re the last ones to see what God has done in us. We can’t always see the change or notice the growth, though others can. I deeply believe that God is at work in faithful and loving ways in our lives. I’m looking for and pointing out every sign I see. Grace Notes is a public record of sorts. It’s a weekly field report that I write to celebrate all that God is doing here in this great congregation.
 
– Pastor Stuart Spencer –
 
 
 

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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