Lake OPC Prayer Partner Update: February 2017
Dear Members, Friends and Prayer Partners of Lake OPC,
Thank you for your prayer support for the life, fellowship and outreach of Lake Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Mentor, Ohio! In the mystery of Divine Providence God uses the prayers of his people to build his church and further his Kingdom.
(1) Lake OPC Visitors and Guests: Since I last reported we have been blessed with a number of visitors. These include a single man who found out about Lake OPC through our new mover mailer program, who has been worshipping with us regularly for a number of weeks; and a family with a young daughter who visited with us before and had returned to worship with us again. Please pray that God would grant these recent visitors a desire to continue their involvement with Lake OPC, and pray that God would enable Lake OPC to better enfold our guests into the life and fellowship of the church. Also, please pray that additional new visitors would be drawn to visit Lake OPC, especially families with children. While we are grateful for the guests who have worshipped with us recently, due to various factors such as sickness, weather and other circumstances our member attendance has been quite low in the last several months. Please pray that attendance patterns would improve in the upcoming months, especially since low attendance can be a significant factor leading visitors to decide not to return.
(2) Lake OPC Outreach: Even during these winter months, when things tend to slow down a bit, Lake OPC has continued to be active in seeking to reach out with the good news of Jesus and in seeking to make Lake OPC known in our area. Some of these avenues for outreach are as follows:
– Radio Advertisement: For about a two-month period, from early December through early February, Lake OPC ran a 30 second radio ad on a major local Christian radio station (AM 1220, “The Word”). The ad ran three times a day, often during peak hours (for example, rush hour), from Monday through Friday. While we have not gotten any direct results yet from this advertising campaign, this is one of the means that Lake OPC has used during this winter season to raise awareness in our area of the existence and fellowship of Lake OPC.
– Church website: The Lake OPC church website (www.lakeopc.net) is an ongoing, 24/7 witness for Christ and outreach avenue for the church. Our website manager (Jim Parr) does an excellent job keeping the site updated, uploading new sermons and updated announcements on a regular basis. In addition, I continue to add new content to the “Pastor’s Blog” section of our website periodically through new blog articles. A recent report we received from Sermon Audio on the number and geographical location of the “hits” the sermon page link gets indicates that Lake OPC’s witness to God’s Word extends far beyond the boundaries of our small congregation. Hundreds of sermons from our Sermon Audio page have been uploaded from all over the country, indeed, from all over the world! For example, not only have listeners tuned in from Ohio and from other places within the United States, but this recent report indicated that listeners have been tuning in even from such far-away places as Qatar and Iceland! Please pray that God would use the Lake OPC church website to lead many to Christ and into a Reformed understanding of the Faith, and pray that it would also be an effective instrument to draw visitors who live locally into the life and fellowship of the church.
– New Mover Mailers: For several months now Lake OPC has been participating in the new mover mailer program with outreach.com. Well designed and attractive mailers advertising the church are sent to new movers in a chosen geographical area close to the church meeting location. During this time of the year new move-in activity tends to slow down, so in January only about 85 mailers were sent out, due to low mover activity. However, so far we have had one visitor contact us from the new mover mailer he received, and he has been worshipping with us recently. We are currently thinking through ways to improve the message on our mailer so that it is more impactful, and we will be targeting new movers in different areas around Mentor during different months. Please pray that God would bless this new mover mailer program and would use it to draw additional visitors to the church.
– Looking Ahead to Warmer Days: In looking ahead to the warmer months ahead Lake OPC will be considering additional ways to make connections with the community. I recently received the application form for the annual Mentor CityFest, to be held in late August. This is an annual community event which Lake OPC has been participating in for the last four years, and I anticipate we will participate in it again in 2017. We may look into participating in other community day events held in various communities in Lake County as well. Please pray for wisdom as we consider other avenues for outreach.
– Personal Contacts: Ultimately the best, most personal way to draw visitors to the church is by church members and attendees inviting friends, neighbors and co-workers to worship. I strongly encourage members and local friends of the church to tell others about Lake OPC, and to invite them to come and worship with us! For example, I was encouraged recently when a regular attendee of the church (not a member) asked for a supply of church invitation cards and church brochures, which he was planning to post on the message boards of local businesses that he frequents. Let us be excited about what God is doing through Lake OPC, and let us do what we can in our own circle of influence to get the word out!
(3) Community Involvement: One area of weakness in my ministry has been a lack of active involvement in the community outside of the church. Over the last year or so I have been prayerfully and aggressively seeking to overcome this weakness and make more personal connections in the community, in the Name of Christ and as a witness for the church. In all of this God has given me numerous opportunities to talk about our church, and even to share the good news of Jesus! Here are some of the ways God has opened doors for me to be involved:
– Volunteering at Project Hope for the Homeless: I continue to volunteer once or twice per month at the Project Hope for the Homeless in Painesville, OH, a local Christian-based homeless shelter which does an excellent job helping their guests transition out of homelessness into more stable living situations.
– Teaching a monthly Bible Study at Select Medical Hospital: In recent months I have been praying for God to open up doors for me to share the Word with those outside of our local church and to help me make some positive connections for Christ in the broader community. Recently God has wonderfully answered this prayer! One of our members has been undergoing rehab at a local hospital/rehab facility in Cleveland, the Select Medical Hospital. In the process of visiting this member I met the Activities Director of the hospital, who happens to be an enthusiastic and outspoken Christian. When she mentioned that she needed a minister to help teach a Bible Study for the patients there, I offered to do so. As a result I am scheduled to teach a monthly Bible Study there. So far I have taught two conversational Bible Studies, which have been very well received by the patients. In fact, yesterday when I visited this church member and then attended a program being put on for the patients, she asked me if I would think about teaching the study twice per month, and as a result I am scheduled to teach again next Tuesday. While I have been there she has also asked me to visit and pray for a number of patients, which I have gladly done. She has been very encouraging and supportive of my volunteer involvement there, even introducing me yesterday to the CEO/Administrator of the facility. Pray that God would bless me with many opportunities to share the good news of Jesus and bring the encouragement of the Word to the patients there, and would continue to bless my interactions with both the patients and the staff.
– Hospitality: Our son is actively involved in a local Christian public speaking organization for young people. In recent months we have had a number of opportunities to volunteer the use of our home for some of the meetings of this organization. We enjoy having people in our home, and this has helped to connect my family and me to believers who are active in other area churches, and thus to the broader Body of Christ in our area — something that I consider to be very important. In addition, my wife and I hope to reactivate soon our practice of regularly having members and friends of the church over for meals and informal fellowship.
(4) Meeting Location: We continue to meet at the Holiday Inn in Mentor, on most Sundays meeting in the Reynolds Room banquet hall of the hotel. In fact, we have renewed our rental contract with the hotel for 2017, so we anticipate continuing to meet there through this calendar year. However, we are also keeping our eyes open for other meeting place possibilities, especially if a potential new meeting place would be able to provide an atmosphere and ambiance more conducive to a church service than what we currently have in the hotel banquet hall where we meet. For example, we recently became aware of an Assembly of God church building located just over the border of Mentor in Willoughby going on the market, and we are in the process of inquiring with the realtor whether or not this building would be available for a church like ours to rent. (This building is located only about two miles or less from where we currently meet.) While we are not yet ready to take on the responsibilities of owning our own building, we would be open to considering the possibility of renting a church building such as this one, should it be conducive to the needs of our congregation and the growth of the church. Please pray that God would continue to provide for our meeting facility needs as a congregation.
Once again, thank you all for your prayer support for Lake OPC! As you can see, there is much for which to be in prayer. In addition, please be in prayer for our Session (i.e., our leadership council, inclusive of the pastor and elders), that God would give us wisdom and discernment as we seek to guide the congregation into the future. Though we continue at this point in time to be a small and struggling church laboring for Christ in a challenging spiritual environment which appears to have only minimal openness to the Reformed and Presbyterian understanding of the Christian Faith, nevertheless we may stand confident in knowing that our God “…is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, ESV).
Yours in the service of Christ,