by Sharon O'Neill
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Welcome Grace Community Church to A2A
It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon. The sun was shining and to be honest I didn’t want to leave poolside. As a Tasmanian coming from a very wet winter all I wanted to do was hunker down pool side, rest, read my novel and drift into my imaginary world.
I didn’t want to go to church. How many times do we feel like this and miss out on a blessing?
We pulled up outside the church in Maryborough and as I alighted from the car I was wondering what sort of church we were visiting. The Body of Christ has such diversity. We hadn’t taken but a few steps towards the church building when the evening was interrupted by this beautiful sound of joy. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
The sound of Joy
We entered into this old building that once taught the young how to care for cars – an amazing building with so much potential for usage 7 days a week.
We saw the band practicing, a child asleep in the corner, other adults preparing the evening meal. Everyone was warm and friendly and filled with joy and expectancy. Pastors Glenys and Chris were part of the band and just enjoying the practice of worship. The worship was beautiful, not perfect but oh so present to the Holy Spirit and abounding in joy.
Before the service we were invited to pray for the service and those coming and again the desire to simply serve the Lord, the overflow of joy abounded in that tiny prayer room. There was such a desire for people to come to know the Lord and for the Spirit to touch people’s lives and for them to have an encounter that would be life changing. Their heart was towards the town in which they lived. They weren’t looking for success or to be significant or to be discovered. They simply wanted to love and reach their city. I loved the simplicity, the sincerity, and the love contained in those prayers.
Throughout the service I was struck over and over again that this church understood joy and that it had a huge heart for the community. Youth leaders loving on the youth, wanting them to be empowered by the Holy Spirit!
I heard conversations about the town, the people in it, the desire to connect and to love. I heard dreams of hope with the building and how it could be used. I heard what I love to hear, “We’re still figuring it out.” I get excited when I hear that because I go here we have some people who are wanting to be learners and wanting to lean into the Holy Spirit and be present.
Grappling with Scarcity
One of the things I love about regional churches is the commitment. There is always scarcity in a regional church. If you want to be engaged it will mean multitasking, taking the kids along with you and having a willing spirit to gap fill. I watched families doing this. 5pm on a Sunday with tea after the worship service isn’t an easy gig for any parent but I watched beautiful families pour out love offerings to God, taking their kids on this journey for the one. Breathtakingly beautiful!
Regional Pastors with big hearts and generous spirits
As pastors of regional churches you have to be generous spirited and big hearted. Often regional churches raise great leaders because of the multitasking that has to happen and the commitment that has to occur to stay engaged. But schooling and employment opportunities often mean they leave to go to the cities. Regional churches over and over again give their fruit away. It takes big hearted, generous pastors to lead regional churches.
I watched beautiful Glenys and Chris be so many things to so many people. worshippers, teachers, encouragers, counsellors and empowering. Once again my heart was filled with admiration at the stretch that is involved when leading a discipleship making community in regional Australia. It is such a skill and a special wiring to be all things to all people.
Loving the homeless
When the service finished and the meal began we noticed all these homeless people come in for the meal and they were just welcomed and embraced. Young people sitting with people twice their age who were broken and empty. Filling in gaps, serving God, loving on the one, embracing humanity. It didn’t matter that they hadn’t been to the service, the ministry of Christ was continuing at the table. The love and the care and the acceptance was beautiful.
Within the heart of this beautiful congregation I saw that precious love for the community.
Raw, generous, committed, planted, engaging and above all things loving!
I saw what Christ wanted us to do – not grow big churches with big worship centres but to reconcile all things to himself – all things on earth and all things in heaven; all domains everywhere – by the humble sacrificial love he displayed on the cross which transforms us into humble, creative, enthusiastic, bold servants in our communities. We often think our chief contribution to society is putting on an attractive worship service – its not. Our chief contribution is to assist reconciliation.
This church is beautifully poised to make a difference to the people in the town they live.
I came away from that evening blessed and so glad that I hadn’t allowed my blessing to be taken.
So how can I, someone living within the A2A movement champion this church?
Welcome Grace Community Church to A2A
Love and Hugs,