Every year when I return from vacation, I can feel the anticipation that is in place for the fall. Coming back to campus this week, I sensed that there is a buzz in the air about things that are happening in the church with the grand opening of the Connection Plaza in a few weeks, and a great number of first time guests in our services on both campuses. The Academy is just a few weeks from having students on campus, and there is an excitement about the future with a new administrator in place. The College is a little less than a month from opening and students returning to campus. We are looking forward to the energy that results from having nearly 2000 college and academy students on campus every day.
The Connection Plaza is already making an impact as I see and hear stories of people who are connecting with new families and helping to build relationships that will be fruitful in the future. The playground will be completed and opened in about a week. My grandson, Tripp, asks about it every time he is on campus; his excitement level is off the charts!
One of our focus points in reviewing church programming is to help create a better discipleship and leadership focus. I am seeing that begin to take shape and am really encouraged by it. We are regularly talking with staff about not only getting people to serve, but raising up leaders who are going to help us reach Northeast Florida for Jesus. One area that really has been encouraging is what is taking place with our Rooted Ministry. Tommy and Rhoda Carr lead this ministry to our young adults, mostly single, and have sponsored a weekly volleyball tournament. They are averaging over 120 every week at the tournament and have connected with 30 first time guests. In addition, this group of young people, along with our youth, have filled dozens of volunteer positions to enhance Sunday morning.
Last week, I mentioned the 24 Hours of Prayer that will take place at Hammond campus on August 4-5. After seeing our altar filled with so many prayer requests written on post-it notes, I was reminded of all the needs we have in our church and all the ways we want to see God work. I know that this day of prayer will be a very powerful experience! I have great anticipation for all that God is going to do both individually in our people and corporately as a body of believers. If you haven't already signed up, do it today!
Our prayer focus at Oakleaf is on the ministry that we are doing in public schools and is scheduled for August 13th. I want to encourage everyone to participate in these important prayer initiatives.
We are three weeks from completing our summer study through Galatians. The theme this weekend deals with the Holy Spirit and the way that he transforms our lives. I am convinced that this teaching, rightly applied in our lives, can be a catalyst to life change.
Remember, you are the most important part of helping us reach people. Invest in relationships with those around you for the purpose of reaching them with the gospel of Christ.