Sunday’s worship set a new normal for the members of Sherwood. Not that we should or would expect every Sunday to be like this past one, but it certainly reminded us of what could be if a church obeys God and functions like an “Acts 2” church in all areas.
There’s only one Pentecost, and we aren’t to try to duplicate it. However, we are certainly supposed to live in light of it. God has given Sherwood a unique opportunity—impossible except for His hand of providence and grace.
Sunday we worshiped for over two hours in the morning service. When I told folks they could leave, over 95% of the folks stayed another 15 minutes or more to sing and praise God with the choir and orchestra. Sunday night it continued as people lingered for nearly an hour with a sense of awe over what we had seen and heard. No one wanted to leave. Several hundred stayed around just to listen as the choir again sang three or four songs of praise after the service was “over.”
Of course at Sherwood you never quite know when the service is over because we are so in awe of what God is doing among us. We are seeing God stirring as we move toward our annual ReFRESH™ Conference on revival.
For the last several months, I’ve sought wisdom from key men in the life of our church. These men have served as deacon chairmen and in other key leadership capacities in the life of our church. They represent 263 combined years of experience in the life of Sherwood. They are helping me put together our 2020 vision of what we want Sherwood to look like in the next 10 years.
Sherwood has always been, in my heart, the greatest church I’ve ever served. There are bigger churches with better facilities and larger populations to draw from, but none are any better than this place. The Spirit is evident and present. Rarely do we see a Sunday when people are not at the altar. The spirit of unity and prayer permeates this house. It’s why we are who we are and why we can do what we do.
With all the bad news in our nation and in our own community (people losing jobs, factories closing, or cut-backs), we are seeing our best summer ever in the 54-year history of the church. Attendance is up by 267 over last summer. We’ve had 105 professions of faith in the last seventy days. We’ve baptized 193 people this year—the most ever because there was no crusade or evangelistic campaign, but simply God’s people going out and sharing their faith. Our budget is in the black during the summer, something that has never happened before!
Our people have been giving sacrificially and continue to do so. We have one and a half years left in our Generations campaign (our third consecutive campaign), and because of their faithfulness and God’s blessings, we announced Sunday that we have paid off our debt 11 years in advance, saving us millions in interest.
We believe God has called us to partner with others in planting a church in San Francisco and two in Baltimore. In addition we are investing in local, national, and foreign missions as never before. God has richly given to us, and we are taking what we have received and putting it back into His hands. We are taking our call literally to reach the world from Albany, Georgia.
Every Sunday people from all over the country visit Sherwood. One family from Ontario worshiped with us on Sunday. They came because of the impact of the movies on their lives, and they said, “We now know why God is blessing the movies. It’s because of the church.”
The presence of God is hard to define, but His absence is easy to detect. I’m praying we stay humble and true to the Word so that God can continue to trust us with greater works. We need the prayers of brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. Our adversary is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. We need your prayers to cover us, sustain us, and protect us in these days. God is working, and we don’t want to stumble while running the race.
This Sunday will be different. There are no “big announcements,” but our big and awesome God will be there. My prayer is we anticipate the Almighty as much as we have anticipated last Sunday’s announcement.