Showing posts from March, 2017

We Really Don't Eat?

Each year our congregation has been encouraged to fast during Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday (March 1). Jesus teaches us in the Sermon on the Mount about giving, praying, and fasting as virtues of the kingdom people. Jesus does not say, “If you fast.” Rather he says, "And whenever you fast..." (Matthew 6:16a) Therefore, I invite you to fast with me during Lent. Fasting is a spiritual discipline; it means abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Fasting and prayer go together. Therefore we devote the time normally used for eating to reading scripture and prayer. Furthermore, the feeling of hunger is a reminder to draw near to God. We remove our dependence from food and instead depend upon God. Doing so often leads to greater intimacy with the Lord and to hearing more clearly what the Lord is saying to us. While there are interesting physical things that happen when we fast, far beyond anything physical is the spiritual. This is a discipline that helps us hear from the Lo…

State of the Church 2017

Each year, in assessing the state of Salem, we take a look at some benchmark statistics. Our membership now includes 254 professing adults. We also have 40 baptized infants and children— so 294 total. That’s an increase of 21 members. This past year 7 members died and 2 withdrew their membership. We received 28 new members. That means we have received 109 new members since arriving at our current location a little over six years ago! Our weekly worship attendance averaged 210 this past year, a very slight increase from 209 the previous year. This is an area that needs some attention and intention. Gathering weekly for worship is a central action for followers of Jesus. 254 professing members have vowed to be present. Of those, some will be sick or out of town, but we also have 40 baptized children. Their parents vowed to raise them in the church. We also have a significant number of active non-members who regularly worship, and guests join us frequently, too. We could potentially have 3…