St John's Lutheran Church, La Grange IL 60525 (LCMS)

St. John's Lutheran Church and School
47th Street and Brainard Avenue, La Grange, Illinois 60525


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Super Bowl Sunday One Step Farther

February 3, 2013

While few Chicagoans, myself included, have interest cheering for either the 49ers or the Ravens tonight, a whole lot of us will be tuning in. Last year’s Nielson ratings found NBC to have had an average audience throughout the game of 111.3 million viewers. That placed the game in the position of the most watched television program of all time.

We tune in for a lot of reasons and it isn’t necessarily about the game. Some watch for the new and wacky commercials. Some watch for the halftime entertainment show. Perhaps the biggest reason of all is that small communities of people are gathering in homes, bars and even churches for “the Super Bowl Party.”

The Changing Culture
The Super Bowl marketers have been keen students of our culture and in ever increasing ways they have been able to reach farther and farther from their traditional followers to a variety of people in small communities around the world.
Last week in my Vision Sunday presentation, I shared how changes in our culture offer great opportunities for the followers of Jesus to be reaching father and farther as well. In order to navigate the culture, however, we need to know where we are. There are three basic cultures identified in relationship to the church. Leaders define them as:

The Pre-Church Culture: The context in which no church community has been established. (e.g. A missionary to an isolated tribal group or people would work in such a community.)

The Church Culture: The context where the church is firmly established, valued and a part of the community’s culture. (e.g. After WWII our culture shared many values and beliefs that attracted people to churches).

The Post-Church Culture: The context where the church’s significance in the community is waning. (e.g. In recent decades, there are many competing interests and values that make our culture less attracted to “go to church .”)
(Note: you can read more about this in the January 2010 Issue of the Lutheran Witness.)

Moving Outward
Though we may have not called it by these terms, many of us have lived long enough to see the “Church Culture” change to “Post Church.” Our beliefs and values haven’t changed, but the world we are reaching has changed. The big shift for us is to be a church on the move. Just as Super Bowl expanded from an event at a stadium to a movement of millions gathering in small living-room communities, so God’s work is reaching father today primarily in places outside of the “stadium.”

Reaching Farther
In 2005, St. John’s began a movement that expanded our reach from our building to the bayous of Louisiana. We started taking groups of people to places where we could carry the good name of Jesus with our hands and feet serving people. Our Annual Report now tells story after story of how St. John’s is reaching farther in such a movement.

Over the years, we’ve developed a new way of articulating these movements. We took Jesus’ “Super Bowl Commissioning” of Acts 1:8 and translated into 21st Century American culture. We speak of Jerusalem (our church family), Judea (our neighborhoods), Samaria (cross-cultural relationships with people close to home) and the Ends of the Earth (mission opportunities farther away). With all those places for us to follow Jesus’ lead and bless communities with His grace, the opportunities are endless. Last week’s Vision Sunday challenged each of us to ask the question, “how can I take one step farther” in this movement?

Group Life
In 2010 St. John’s began dozens of groups in the living rooms of our community. These are our own “Super Bowl Parties.” They are places where people gather together in friendship, prayer, study and service. We typically form and regroup in six week cycles. And we are on the verge of one of those great beginnings for St. John’s.

Lent 2013
Ash Wednesday (Feb 13) marks the beginning of Lent and a six week spiritual retreat Christians have observed for centuries. For the past three years, we’ve taken Lent to our living rooms, coffee shops and offices. We’ve done this with small groups meeting in homes, sharing our Lenten Devotional Booklet with colleagues and friends and huddling with people for prayer in coffee shops.

This year’s Lenten journey is called, “Jesus, I will Ponder Now.” The centerpiece of that experience is in our homes. Each group gathering picks a place and time to meet once a week for five consecutive weeks (Feb 17 - Mar 23). As we get ready to do this, consider what taking one step farther for you might be. It could be…

Connecting to a Group Life Community for the first time (or reconnecting); or

Volunteering your home for a group; or;

Sharing with a neighbor your experiences from Group life; or

Intentionally mentoring a group leader; or

Breaking from your current group to start a new group in your community or workplace.

The challenge of Vision Sunday was simply to take one step farther. I encourage you to be praying about it, seeking counsel from the support of your church, opening the scriptures in quiet time and making just one small step farther. You’ll be blessed by the move and you’ll be a blessing to so many others.

Sponsors are willing to pay 3.8 million dollars for 30 seconds of our time during our Super Bowl Parties. It’s not merely because of the size of the audience. It’s the power of the social context where they get to share their message. There’s tremendous work God is doing in our homes, workplaces and marketplaces with his message in this Post-Church culture. He’s wired the power for a greater purpose than selling stuff; he’s wired it all to heal, transform and bless people. He’s spent more than money to hand the opportunity to us. He’s sealed this venture and promise with the blood of Jesus.



(c)2012 St. John's Lutheran Church and School | 505 S Park RD | La Grange IL 60525
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Pastor's Blogs

Bill Geis has led a variety of missional ministries for over 20 years. He has served as senior pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in La Grange, Illinois since 2004. He is the proud father of teenage daughters, Erica and Monica. His partner in ministry and in marriage, Sandi Geis, serves with him on the team at St. John's as prayer ministry leader, devotional writer and music teacher. He has a passion and calling to rally Christian communities and disciples to help people Meet Jesus in authentic and life changing ways.

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