by Pastor Vincent Tauriello, Northeast Community Church
According to Wikipedia, “the seven-year itch is a psychological term that suggests that happiness in a relationship declines around year seven of a marriage.” In a Christianity Today article, Dr. Juli Slattery says, “While the seven-year-itch isn’t predictable enough to set your calendar by, some version of it seems to exist in most marriages.” Some version of it also seems to exist in most churches, whether that occurs in year seven or not. We drift away from our Lord’s command to “make disciples of all nations.” The reason for the drift in both marriage and ministry is that drifting is natural to us, automatic, unless we proactively work against it. We must do as the Apostle Paul told his young protégé Timothy, “Fight the good fight of faith.”
Sensing this natural drift in the seventh year of our ministry at Northeast Community Church, I set out to renew our vision in 2017 (Proverbs 29:18)—unified to do God’s will in his strength for his glory, making mature followers of Christ, revived and equipped to serve one another and reach the lost. This was warmly embraced by the elders and the congregation. We set as goals to grow in prayer and evangelism, the two things that seem to be the first to go in every church.
We began new prayer meetings on Monday evenings and Sunday mornings and have seen increased commitment and participation in both, praise to the Lord. We are praying that the Lord will pour out a spirit of prayer and supplication on the church, not just Northeast Community Church, but the whole body of Christ in our city.
We saw the Lord add eighteen new members to the church early this year from among our Albanian, Chinese, and English communities. We have conducted evangelism and outreach in Albanian, Chinese, English, and Arabic and knocked on over a hundred doors to invite our neighbors to join us for our Easter season services, and we offered a free Easter meal to those in need. We were blessed to give away 50 meals. Like many churches, we saw an increase in attendance at our Good Friday and Easter Sunday services. In all this we know that, while it is ours to plant and water, it is God who gives the growth!
Please pray with us for growth in prayer and evangelism and for fruit that lasts!
A recent highlight for us was our Good Friday Tenebrae service. “Tenebrae” is a Latin word which means “shadows” and has been practiced in the church since the fourth century. It is a powerful way to meditate on the meaning of the sufferings and death of Jesus by focusing on the seven last words of Christ on the cross. After each word was read we extinguished a candle to symbolize the light of Christ’s life being quenched bit by bit. The Scriptures were read in Albanian, Arabic, Chinese, and English with songs sung in three of the languages.
After the last word was read, the Christ candle was removed for a short time from the hall to symbolize his death. After seven tolls of the bell, the candle was returned as a foretaste of the resurrection of Jesus, which we then celebrated Easter Sunday. Conducting the service in four languages is a demonstration and testimony that Christ suffered and died on the cross, not only for a particular ethnic group, but for the nations. It was as we like to say, “a taste of heaven.”
Please pray that whether in year seven, seventeen, or seventy, that we will resist the drift in ministry from our Lord’s call to make disciples of all nations.