A “future story” is a device used in a ‘spiritual strategic journey’ (as coached by George Bullard). The future story is a way of laying out in narative form a vision of the future toward which an individual, family, or organization (like a church) moves as a means of fulfilling full kingdom potential. The following is one I wrote in September 2006.
A letter from the Pastor
Thank you for visiting with us this week. I’m sorry that I did not get to visit with you, and I look forward to an opportunity to do so soon. For now, let me tell you a few things about our church.
Forest Grove began in 1847 as a group of Texas pioneers came to make a new life for themselves. In the 1990s, the congregation was reborn as this area experienced a new influx of pioneers coming to call North Texas “home”. At Forest Grove, I think we embody that spirit in several important ways.
Independent yet connected – For pioneers in any age, life is a balance between independence – making your way in the world, launching out, taking risks – and connection – having some grounding, some stability, some group you can rely on when things get tough. At Forest Grove we celebrate freedom of thought – while we believe in absolute truths: “There is a God” for instance, we are also humble enough to admit that our understandings may often be flawed. So, while we uphold the orthodox Christian faith and interpretations of scripture as expressed in the historic creeds, we also make room for dialogue and even disagreement. God has given us intelligence, and we aim to use it in the exploration of our faith. We also try to provide multiple opportunities for connection in a culture and church that values independence – from worship, to fellowship groups, to bible studies and ministry teams, you’re sure to find a place to belong. And , our Elders share in the care and nurture of the whole congregation through our shepherding groups, composed of approximately 12 households, for mutual care and support. Our denomination, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was also born in the same pioneer spirit. So, each congregation is autonomous, able to make its own decisions and conduct its own affairs, AND we enter into covenant relationships with other congregations for mutual support, and because some things are better done together.
Every believer a minister – Jesus called his followers to serve one another, to pass on His teachings, and to help others become followers of His. We believe that this summarizes the ministry to which every follower of His is called in some way. During your visit, you likely encountered dozens of different folks living out their ministry, from the folks greeting around the campus, to the teachers and preachers, and even the custodians. Every part of the Body of Christ is important and valued by God, and therefore by us. One of the primary purposes of the Church as an organization is to help people find and develop their ministries. We believe that there is nothing more exciting or meaningful than this in the life of a local congregation. We LOVE to help folks on their journey. SO, we try to be intentional with everyone. What that means is that you won’t be around here long before someone invites you to help with something. This is not because we’re hurting for good help, but because we want to share the joy of ministry with you. It may take you a while to find your niche – that’s ok, it took me years! And I’m still discovering new things about my gifts and calling for ministry. When you’re invited, I hope you either say, “YES!” or, “You know, that ‘s not really my thing, but I do want to find a way to serve. Would you help me?” Or perhaps you’ve already got a great ministry out in the community! Awesome! Tell us about it so that we can nurture and encourage you in it. Maybe you will even be able to invite others to join you.
Lifetime spiritual growth – Putting your trust in Jesus, and celebrating that by making a profession of faith and being baptized is an amazing time in every believer’s life. Perhaps the very thought confuses or scares you. You don’t know Jesus well enough to trust him with anything yet. That’s OK. OR maybe you look back decades on that time in your life. OK too. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey (and it is a journey) God loves you. Just as we grow physically with nourishment, so too with our spiritual growth. And just as some habits or experiences can stunt our physical or mental development, again the same is true of our spirits. Here at Forest Grove you will find people literally everywhere on the spiritual continuum, from curious onlookers to completely dedicated lifelong followers. And we like it that way. Our monthly Explorers meeting is a chance to meet some of our pastoral staff, ask questions about the church, God, life, whatever. Out of this, you might want to connect with one of the growth groups that meet around the community in homes, restaurants, parks, etc. These groups usually share a particular interest, like sports, or are studying and aspect of the Christian life, like prayer. If you don’t see one that suits you, mention it to one of our pastors – we’re always looking for ideas for starting new groups.
Organized AND relaxed – Our leadership structure is open and transparent, and exists so the church can help you on your spiritual journey. When the structure interferes with our ability to follow Jesus, we change the structure. We provide four unique worship opportunities each week, each designed to help worshippers hear from and talk to God – a traditional service, a gospel service, a contemporary service, and a children’s service. All these services are ‘come as you are’ so that worshippers can be comfortable, while we also believe that giving our best to God in all we do is an act of worship. You’re invited to explore any of our many fellowship and study groups till you find the right fit for you where you can receive as well as give.
A place apart – At Forest Grove we continually seek a balance between events here on our campus and spending time out in the community. Some of what we do here is to nurture the spiritual growth of believers. Other activities on campus are to support, encourage, equip and expose our neighbors to the transforming love of God.
We’ve tried to make our campus easy to navigate and all our facilities as accessible as possible. Throughout you’ll find signs and maps and floor plans that show you where you are, and how to get where you’re going. The main building is our Ministry Center, the center of activity throughout the week and on weekends. Here you’ll find the café’ and book store where people stop to visit, encourage one another, and celebrate what God’s doing in their lives. Near by you’ll find our office suite, with conference rooms and offices for the pastors and ministry directors. The receptionist would be happy to let any of the staff know that you’ve stopped by. Also in this building are the fellowship and recreation rooms where youth and adults come to study and play together. The game rooms have various activities of interest to different ages and some specific activity times are scheduled.
Adjacent to The Ministry Center are two other buildings – The Meadowbrook Worship and Arts Center, and The Tree House Children’s Ministry Center. The Tree House is a wonderfully safe place for Children from the crib up through grade 5 to grow and learn how precious they are to God. Our Tree House Weekday Preschool provides and opportunity for families from the community to offer this experience to their children, no matter their faith or religious background. For the comfort of our families, two monitored entrance/exits provide access to the building.
The Meadowbrook name refers to the verse in Psalm 23 which reads
in part, “He allows me to lie down in green pastures beside cool waters; He restores my soul.” This is the peace we find and celebrate when we gather for worship in the Sanctuary – a word which means literally a place of shelter and safety from danger. The Sanctuary is also designed to host musical and theatrical productions for the community – we believe that many artistic expressions help to draw us nearer to God (A schedule of performances and events is available). Across from the Sanctuary you’ll find our prayer garden, an intimate and quiet place to rest and seek God. Bordering the Garden on the other side is our Memorial Chapel, where the congregation worshipped for many years prior to the construction of our new facilities.
Welcome – Above all, we want you to feel welcome, because God loves us and wants us to share that love with you, so welcome.
Yours in Christ,