Last Sunday night our church joined together for a service called "Refresh" and I've been hearing about it since! Each church member I bump into mentions how deeply they were impacted by the event.
What is "Refresh?" It's a celebration of the goodness of God especially as it relates to the salvation of sinners! I'm still talking about it too.
Much of our time was spent in song. Our church has a bent toward congregational singing, which greatly contributes to the atmosphere in the room. Although we value the use of instruments and use them dynamically, the primary instrument is the unified voice of the people. What encourages the body most is to see and hear brothers and sisters in Christ, who understand what it's like to live in a fallen world, joining together to praise God. When we sing we communicate in a way that mere speech cannot achieve. Most of our songs point us to the nature and character of God and remind us of His abiding mercy and grace. Our hearts are stirred both by the lyrics and the people singing them and our souls are renewed.
We typically do not include much personal testimony during our Sunday morning services. Opportunities to share how God is working in our lives abound in places like small groups and one on one discipleship. During our Refresh services we have an opportunity to hear testimonies of God's grace in a corporate setting. This week we heard from and prayed for a group of men and women from our congregation who will be traveling to Guatemala for a missions trip.
There are few moments sweeter than the baptism of a believer. God's unfailing love is put on grand display as each person shares the story of God's grace in their salvation. There were few dry eyes around the room as we listened to each person share about the moment God opened their eyes to their sin and guilt. In each case, that guilt was fully extinguished when they placed their faith in Christ for salvation and were pardoned for their sin. Now, despite the natural fear of public speaking, they are proud to stand before the church to publicly declare their allegiance to Christ. Baptism is a wonderful picture of the Gospel and it is deeply encouraging to celebrate God's grace through this public display.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of active membership in a local church. The kind of encouragement that comes through a covenant relationship with other Christians is vital to the life of every Christian. Our songs and celebrations are just one way God renews our souls, shapes us into His image, and keeps our focus on Christ.