Dear First Pres,

   Last night, during the Saturate course at WednesdayNights@FPC, I heard some inspiring stories about how people in our church are intentionally loving their neighbors like family. Since God has made everyone who believes in His Son a child of God (John 1:12-13), we, the family of God, are now called to love others like family so that they might experience the love of God through us. One family, who recently moved into a new neighborhood, is systematically inviting everyone on their street to join them for dinner. Another family has made it a priority to notice things happening on their block (like a new baby, or a fight with cancer, or a family with dogs that might need help) and then simply reach out in service to those neighbors. These are tangible ways that people in our church are very intentionally loving their neighbors. All of us who listened to their stories were encouraged and inspired to love our neighbors like this as well.

   This Sunday evening is the October gathering for our Community Groups. One of the dreams we had in mind when we launched these mid-sized, regionally-based groups  was to engage together as a community on mission in our neighborhoods by helping each other to love our neighbors well. I’ve already seen that happen in so many wonderful ways these past few years, but I believe there is still tremendous opportunity in front of us. One of those opportunities is to simply engage more of our congregation in this shared vision of our Community Groups.

   We’re using this season of Community Group gatherings to focus on prayer. Beloved, our prayer matters. Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mt 9:37-38). In Acts 2:42 it says that those first believers devoted themselves to prayer. The Apostle Paul says, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12). James wrote, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16). Peter wrote, “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” (1 Peter 4:7).

   I encourage you to join with your Community Group on this Sunday evening to fellowship and pray together for your part of our city. You can find info about your group here. I believe that as we pray for our neighbors together, God will help us to love them more effectively.