September 11, 2020
Dear Peachtree Road Family,
I hope this note finds you well. Do you remember where you were 19 years ago today? I don’t think any of us will ever forget the day our world was brought to a complete stop by the attacks of that fateful morning. We remember and give thanks for the lives of those who died that day and especially for those who died trying to help others. Our world is a different place because of that day.
And the world is different because of the days through which we have been living the last six months. Earlier this week I received an email from a researcher who is leading a project to help United Methodist churches retain congregational engagement during this challenging season. The research indicates there are two crucial strategies for every church to consider:
- Invest in small group ministry – people are hungry for spiritual experiences that are two-way, live, and intimate. Some of you are familiar with the phenomenon of Peleton – the exercise bike with a screen connected by the internet to a fitness coach who offers a live, interactive, spinning class in the convenience of your own home. During the days of the pandemic, getting to the gym has been difficult, but the folks at Peleton make working out with others both safe and convenient. In a similar way, the church has discovered that small group studies by Zoom can be safe, convenient, and spiritually fulfilling.
- Provide more spiritual resources around anxiety – recent research shows that stress and uncertainty in finances, health, relationships, and social unrest are creating a dramatic increase in the anxiety levels in adults (up 21% in the last five months, according to the Kaiser Foundation). Providing the spiritual resources to help folks deal with the rising tide of anxiety is critical for churches in today’s world.
Honestly, I was not surprised by the findings. We here at Peachtree Road quickly pivoted to address these two needs earlier this year. Maybe you remember the series of messages we offered on mental health in February. Maybe you have participated in a small group such as a Sunday School class, choir practice, Bible study, or prayer group in recent months by Zoom. I certainly hope you have found them helpful. If you haven’t participated in one, give your soul what it is craving – a spiritually enriching experience with others.
This week we celebrate “Fall Kick-off Sunday” and the beginning of a number of live, interactive, and intimate small groups and classes. Earlier this week our Congregational Care Team delivered “care packages” to all of our in-town members. Included in the package is a prayer journal for you to use over the course of the next two months to help you center your life in Christ and be drawn deeper in your relationship with Him. I hope you will set aside time each day to pray and each week to participate in a small group with others. Small group study and prayer – these are the resources we need in these days. If you did not receive a package, some are available at the church (while supplies last). A PDF of the prayer journal is available to everyone online here.
Our theme for the season is “The Road to Character,” and we will consider six qualities of the life of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Here is a preview of what is to come:
September 13 | Daniel 3:13-18 | Faithfulness
September 20 | Acts 4:32-37 | Generosity
September 27 | Acts 6:8-15 | Integrity
October 4 | Joshua 2:2-7 | Courage
October 11 | Genesis 27:41 | Forgiveness
October 18 | James 3:13-18 | Humility
As you see above, we will begin the series by remembering an old story from the book of Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – three men who refused to act contrary to their faith even when threatened. Do you know someone whose faith is being challenged? Do you know someone who may be at a breaking point and ready to give up? Invite them to tune in to the online service with you this Sunday for a word of encouragement. It will be a good day of new beginnings at Peachtree Road.
Speaking of new beginnings, our digital ministry known as the Westside Table is set to launch Westside @ 5 this Sunday at 5:00 pm. This online worship service will be led by our Rev. Daniel Ogle and Ben Fletcher with music by Amy Little & Friends. You are invited to experience this new online service that is designed to challenge you to look at your relationship with God and neighbors in a new way.
Finally, I remind you that the Dogwood Gift Shop is open for business full time (for store hours, please check the website). In keeping with the pivot our church has made in these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may shop the Dogwood online to purchase the gifts you need. And remember, all proceeds will continue to benefit the global outreach of Peachtree Road.
I am grateful for your faithfulness in so many ways to Christ and the ministry of Peachtree Road. We are set for a wonderful fall season, and I hope you will find your place with us!
Grace and peace,