Dear Resurrection Family,
Next week we’ll host our 23rd Annual Leadership Institute in what is always one of the busiest, but also most meaningful weeks of the year at Resurrection.
Our vision at Resurrection is to be used by God to change lives, strengthen churches and transform the world. Leadership Institute is focused on the second of these visions. We’ll welcome 2,500 pastors and church leaders to Institute this year. Due to COVID we limited in-person participation to 500 people. Around 2,000 will be joining us online, including nearly 100 “watch parties” across the country with ten people each.
I’ll tell you more about the content and speakers at the end of this enote. If you are a pastor or church leader from another congregation who receives my enote, it’s not too late to sign up! Click here to register. It’s going to be a terrific conference!
If you are part of Resurrection, please pause for a moment right now to pray for the participants and all of our speakers, that God would use this event to inspire, encourage and equip each participant.
This weekend, to give me an opportunity to focus on Leadership Institute, I’ve asked our location pastors to preach, focusing specifically on what scripture teaches us about what it means to be the church. Christianity is not only a set of beliefs, nor even just a relationship with God through Jesus. Christianity is also about living in community. Jesus intentionally formed a church. He taught his followers to love one another, serve one another, to break bread with one another.
Paul and the other apostles taught that we are to bear one another’s burdens, to be kind to one another, to worship with one another, to encourage one another. Due to COVID, congregations everywhere are reinventing what it means to be the church and how we can live together in Christian community.
I know you’ll be inspired this weekend as our location pastors, Pastor Wendy at Leawood, Pastor Bill at West, Pastor Anne at Downtown, Pastor Penny at Blue Springs and Pastor Joshua at Overland Park, teach us in a message about living in community.
You won’t want to miss this! Don’t forget to bring your Bible to follow along and a pen and paper for notes. Invite a friend to join you for worship in person at one of our locations on Sundays at 9 or 11 am, or Sunday 5 pm at Leawood. You can also worship online at cor.org at 5 pm Saturday, 7:30, 9 or 11 am or 5 pm Sunday, and on television at KMCI Channel 38 at 8 and 11 am.
We wrap up our fall food drive this weekend. If you purchased food, please bring it with you to worship Sunday. Thank you to everyone who brought food to our locations and made donations to help sack hunger. You can still make a financial donation online that we’ll use to purchase food in bulk.
I received word this week that over the past month, you have given $354,300 to our Disaster Response Fund. This was in response to back-to-back disasters, the earthquake in Haiti, and the hurricane in Louisiana and Mississippi.
I am so proud of the way you generously respond to your neighbors in need. When disasters strike, support is needed long after the media attention has moved on, and Resurrection is committed to being there. These funds will be used for our ongoing efforts as we work with local churches and community partners to help people rebuild their lives.
I hope this fall weather is getting you in the mood for some Halloween fun, because Trunk or Treat will be here before you know it. I’ll be in my Alexander Hamilton costume, with a bit of music from the musical, Hamilton. Get your costume ready and start planning your decorations. We want to fill the parking lots at all of our locations with decorated trunks as we welcome children from throughout our community to this FUN, SAFE and FREE event where they can enjoy candy, decorated-trunks, costume contests and much more! Click on your location, and you’ll learn how you can participate. If decorating your vehicle isn’t your thing, we have other ways to volunteer and be part of the community event October 30 and 31.
Resurrection is part of the Johnson County Interfaith Justice Organization - 18 congregations who are collaborating to build a collective voice to advocate for systemic change on behalf of the most vulnerable in this community. We still need people to participate in “listening sessions” to share concerns and issues they see within our community.
On Wednesday, October 6, we’re offering a new class both in person at our Leawood location and online to explore “How You’re Wired.” We’ll learn what makes us unique and what we are meant to do with that knowledge in this fun and enlightening evening. This is a great opportunity to learn something new and to meet some new friends. The program is from 6:30-7:45 pm.
Last weekend I mentioned in my sermon the work of Harvard researcher Robert Putnam, author of the New York Times bestseller Bowling Alone and The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again. Putnam will be speaking as part of the American Public Square’s Annual Evening at the Square. This virtual event will be streamed from Resurrection on Tuesday, October 5, at 6:30 pm.
American Public Square (APS) was founded in Kansas City in 2013 in response to the increasing polarization in our country and the unwillingness of people to even talk to those with whom they did not agree. Using civil discourse to bridge the partisan divide, APS engages in fact-based conversations about local, regional and national issues.
Last year, I was honored to receive the first Founder’s Civility Award on behalf of you, Church of the Resurrection. This year, the award will go to APS’ founding co-chairs, Mary Bloch and Mayor Peggy Dunn. I hope you’ll join me for this terrific event. Normally tickets are $75, but Resurrection members can request complimentary tickets to participate virtually.
I, along with your location pastors, have been asked the question, “When will we restart all of our worship services?” multiple times over the last few months. Our pastors and worship teams are having ongoing conversations about this as they dream and plan for our future.
We currently are running about 36% of our pre-COVID in-person worship attendance – about 3,000 people attending in person each week at all of our locations combined, but thanks to TV and online, we’re running nearly 300% of our total pre-COVID worship attendance – over 31,000 people.
Pre-COVID we offered 19 services for 9,000 people per weekend at five locations and streamed two online services per weekend. We’re currently offering 11 services per weekend at five locations for 3,000 people - Sundays at 9 am and 11 am at all five locations and we recently began a service at 5 pm on Sundays at Leawood to provide an evening option. Online we offer 10 worship services – five different times with modern and traditional options at each. Pastors and worship leaders from all locations are a part of these services. We also offer on-demand worship services on YouTube in both modern and traditional, and we offer televised worship at 8 and 11 am.
Our hope going into the fall was to give a push for a return to in-person worship, but then the Delta variant came along, and we postponed the emphasis on in-person worship until the spring. I’d love to see more people returning in person. For those who live in Kansas City and who have been able to worship in-person, I hear them say that the experience is more powerful in person. It is easy to get distracted at home, or simply to “watch” worship as opposed to engaging in worship. Having said that, I’m deeply grateful we have online and televised worship – and when I can’t be in worship in person, I love having the opportunity to join online or on TV.
My concern with restarting all 19 worship services at our five locations is that, with just 3,000 people divided between them, we’ll end up with services that lack energy, passion and a sense of community. I worry that visitors will visit the smaller services, find the services lacking, and won’t return. The energy, passion and community come in part from the Holy Spirit, in part from the worship leaders, but it also comes from the worshipers themselves. The larger the room, the more worshipers that are needed to have that sense of community, passion and energizing worship.
In addition to wanting the best in-person experience, I’m also concerned about the staff and volunteer worship and tech teams who make these services happen. Since COVID, the online and television services have added significantly to their workloads. These teams are stretched thin right now, supporting 11 weekend services, multiple rehearsals each week, and recording traditional music for online on Wednesday and modern worship and all the pastoral elements of worship as well as my sermons all day on Friday.
Having said that, we continue to look at how and when to bring back various worship services at all of our locations that previously had more than two services. These are ongoing discussions, and your location pastors will be inviting you to join in conversations as we plan for the future. For those of you at Leawood, watch for an invitation from Pastor Wendy Lyons Chrostek in her Tuesday email to join a conversation about Leawood worship times.
I do have one new service addition to share. Knowing that many of you prefer an earlier service and have been worshiping at 7:30 am online or 8 am on television, we have decided to test an early morning service for four weeks. Beginning Sunday, October 17, we will offer a traditional service on Sundays at 7:30 am in the Foundry (Building B) at our Leawood location. The Foundry is smaller than the Sanctuary, but still allows for safe distancing, and it is also close to most of our adult Sunday classrooms and the café. The services will include live traditional music, a pastor leading the service, but my sermon will come via video as it does at our other locations. If you are an early morning person and ready to return to in-person worship, I hope you’ll join us for this service and then stick around for a Sunday class or just to share fellowship with friends in the café.
I wanted to end by letting you know a bit more about what’s happening at Leadership Institute. We’ll gather starting Wednesday night at 6:30 pm with opening worship and the opening plenary session where I’ll be talking about “The Lord’s Prayer: Unleashing the Power of the Prayer Jesus Taught.” (Participants will receive a pre-release copy of my new book, The Lord’s Prayer).
Thursday morning we’ll hear from Dr. Kevin Murriel, pastor of Cascade UMC in Atlanta on Racial Reconciliation and Creating Dynamic Churches. Later that morning Barna Research Group’s Savannah Kimberlin will share Barna’s research data on How COVID has Affected the Church and what they’ve learned from their study of Millennial’s and Gen Z and Church, looking at why these are the most unchurched generations in America, but also what they learned from surveying those who are in the church today. I’ll follow Savannah with a session for church leaders on Can Churches Thrive in a Post Modern Era?
We’ll have amazing workshops on Thursday afternoon and then Thursday night I’ll be leading a session with other United Methodist pastors on The Future of the United Methodist Church. On Friday morning I’ll be sharing a session on Ted Lasso, The Holy Spirit and a Conspiracy of Goodness. Then New York Times bestselling author, Bob Goff, will be closing us out with a session focused on Dreaming Big. Goff is an attorney, author, podcaster, passionate Christian and among the many remarkable things he’s done is starting a girl’s schools in Afghanistan. He’s a much sought-after speaker and he’s not only speaking at this closing, but he’ll be recording a sermon for Resurrection that we’ll share the weekend of October 10.
If you are interested in registering to attend the online version of Leadership Institute, it’s not too late. For pastors and church leaders from other churches, here’s the link to register. (If you are a Resurrection member and would like to attend, click here to register at a discounted rate.)
This week I was on a podcast called, The Weight. I was asked to share a bit about how and why I changed my mind regarding my understanding of scripture related to God’s care for his gay and lesbian children. Listen to it here.
Okay, that’s all the news I have time to share with you today. I’m really excited about worship this weekend and Leadership Institute next week! And so very proud of you, Church of the Resurrection!
In Christ’s Love,
13720 Roe Ave.
Leawood, KS 66224
24000 W. Valley Pkwy
Olathe, KS 66061
1601 Grand Blvd.
Kansas City, MO 64108
601 NE Jefferson St.
Blue Springs, MO 64014
8412 W. 95th St.
Overland Park, KS 66212
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