Deeper, Closer, Wider

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A Place to Go From

At some point in the course of a casual conversation, you’ve probably mentioned that you go to church. Maybe it was during lunch with a coworker, chatting with a new neighbor, or while you’re getting your hair cut. Maybe you were even a little more specific: I go to Grace Chapel.

Either way, you outed yourself. As a churchgoer.

And if you’re like me, that might have taken a little bravery. You’re worried about all the negative associations, the “reverse judgmentalism,” or the awkwardness of making the other person feel a little, well, awkward. Because New England.

Yet the person you were speaking with probably kept the conversation going, because that’s what people usually do: oh… that’s cool. Good for you. So, what kind of church is Grace Chapel?

Now you can answer that question a bunch of different ways: We’re big; 4000 people is pretty big for New England. We have four locations. Our services have really good sermons that make you think, and good music. We offer all kinds of programs, from stuff for kids and teens to ministries of care and support. We’re a non-denominational church that welcomes people from all backgrounds.

Those are all true, and they all describe us. And usually, they get a response like this: wow, that’s really big. That’s nice. I’ll have to check it out sometime.

Most of us recognize the I understand you like it there, but please don't ask me to go with you tone and move on, hoping the Spirit takes the seed of curiosity we've planted and helps it grow. But for others - the brave, determined fishers of men - this is your moment. The Spirit has moved, your net is full, and you just have to pull it into the boat. So you muster up a little more courage and ask, “How about this Sunday?”

But you know what’s coming next, because it’s almost always what comes next. Oh, thanks, but we’ve got soccer. Um, I’ll think about it and let you know. Well, church isn’t really my thing...

That’s not to say God doesn’t use those moments to draw people to Him. There are times when that conversation plays out totally differently. Times when people really do say sure, I’d love to. Can I come this Sunday?

But if it isn’t one of those times… awkward.

So what if we took a different approach? What if, instead of describing our church as something you come to, you described it as something you go from?

What if you told them Grace Chapel was just a big bunch of people – all kinds of people – trying to live out their faith by caring for the world around us?

What if you told them that in a couple of weeks, about 1,000 of us are participating in a community service day called Spring Serve? That we’re meeting the needs of our local community, and it’s actually a lot of fun? And that anyone can come, and they’ll get a little breakfast and a t-shirt if they do?

Here’s the thing about inviting someone to come to Spring Serve: you’re inviting them into our church, without inviting them to church. And by doing that, what you’re really telling them is this:

"Grace Chapel isn't just a place to come to. We're a place to go from.”

More info on Spring Serve, including how to sign up, is online at

Jared Willey is Grace Chapel's Director of Communications. He can be reached at

Welcome to the Family!

Ruth Seiders is Grace Chapel's Pastor of Next Generation Ministries.

As I was finishing my dissertation on faith parenting, and contemplating writing a page of acknowledgements, thanking the people who had supported me and invested in me through the process of my doctoral studies, I realized that I had missed an entire group of people who needed mention: my own faith parents growing up. While they had not directly influenced my writing, they had welcomed me into the family of God in the critical years of my childhood and adolescence.

First, my mum and dad. I am very much the youngest of four children, so much so that by the age of 10, I was the only child left at home. It was at that time my mum became a Christian. Surrendering her life to Jesus changed my family experience from that of my siblings. She became involved in a coffee house ministry in downtown Portland during the late 60’s and 70’s called The Gate. She became active in Faith at Work conferences. She hosted small group Bible studies in our home. And as I was tagging along, watching, observing, even participating at times, I was being exposed to the life changing work of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. So when given the opportunity to say yes to Jesus at a Christian summer camp, I went forward and was baptized in the lake in front of my camp friends the next day!

My dad, well he was kind of a typical Maine yankee. Have you seen the film On Golden Pond? The character played by Henry Fonda so reminds me of my dad! I used to call my dad a burnt marshmallow. All crusty on the outside, but mush on the inside. I would go up to him and hug him and say, “You love me, don’t you dad?” And he’d grimace and say reluctantly, “Ayuh.” My older siblings wonder how I had the courage to approach him that way. But I was seeing the gradual transformation that was happening to my dad as he slowly came to understand who and Whose he was. His faith looked much different than my mum’s, but it was real and authentic to who my dad was. My parents were truly my first faith parents.

And then the saints of West Falmouth Baptist Church. There were a few children and even fewer youth in our small country church. I think we had four high schoolers in my Sunday school class. We had no youth director, no youth group. But as I sat at my computer thinking through who I needed to acknowledge, the Lord brought to my mind name after name of those who had been my faith parents during those formative years. Mickey and Isabel who greeted me each week in worship, George and Ruby who taught one of my Sunday school classes, Mrs. Burrell who gave me a heart for missions, Ann and Jim who sat in front of us each Sunday, and the young adult man who taught our high school Sunday school class and invited us 4 kids to his home to watch the Super Bowl one year. I don’t remember his name but I do remember the invitation. These are the men and women who knew my name, welcomed me in worship, celebrated my baptism, supported me financially when I went on a mission trip, and served me the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation as we came to the Table together as one family. They were my faith parents and I give thanks to God for their investment in me.

In the coming weeks I will be sharing more about what it means to be a faith parent and how any and every adult can have a role to play in welcoming the NEXT Generation into our amazingly diverse and loving church family. In the meantime, think about who were/are your faith parents? Who welcomed you to the family?

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