Rev. Robert McDowell
A Loving Faith Testimony
A little over a year and a half ago, before I started attending church here, I was passing by Athens First on my daily walk early on a Monday morning. I noticed a sign saying that there was a prayer group that met bright and early every Tuesday. And secondly, I noticed the prayer cross encouraging passers by to leave prayer requests. I thought, "Here's a church that truly embraces the power of prayer, not just in corporate worship on Sundays, but as an important part of it's ministry to this community. (I think I would have been impressed, even if I was not a former pastor!) Because of that, I decided to attend worship.
I found the people I encountered to be warm and engaging. There was one woman, in particular that was very welcoming. She introduced herself to me and I to her. The following week we did so again. The third Sunday, she smiled, as she pointed at me, saying, "Hi .....um!" We laughed. But after that Martha Sloan and I remembered each other's names. She introduced me to her husband Steve and I was invited to the small group meeting at their home.
That small group has had an incredible impact on my life, far beyond anything I could have imagined. At one of the first meetings I met a gentleman who was also fighting cancer and also receiving treatment at James Cancer Center. We became instantly bonded to each other. In the short time that we knew one another, Don Gilmore and I truly became "brothers in Christ."
The members of that group have become trusted, loving friends and a support network. If you haven't availed yourself of the small group ministry, I strongly encourage you to consider doing so.
Love is such a basic but vital tenet of our faith. Jesus said, "By this the world will know that you are my followers, that you love one another." Friends, we have something extraordinary here at Athens First! I thank God every day for bringing me here to be a part of you.
A Learning Faith Testimony
A Living Faith Testimony
A Loving, Learning, & Living Faith
Small Group Questions
II Peter 3:14-18 & Matthew 22:34-40
September 10, 2017
This week's sermon and worship focus centers on our church's purpose which is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our community and world by having our loving faith, a learning faith, and a living faith.
Why is it important for our church to have a clear purpose?
A loving faith includes any ministry that helps us to love God, each other, and our neighbors. Some of the key loving ministries in our church include weekly worship, our small group ministry where we share our faith and encourage one another, and our prayer ministry like our Tuesday morning prayer gathering.
How have you been blessed by a loving ministry through our church?
A learning faith includes any ministry that helps us to learn more about God, the bible, the church, and our faith. Some of the key learning ministries in our church include Sunday School, bible studies, and our fall & spring CORE course that covers the basics of the Christian faith.
How have you been blessed by a learning ministry through our church?
A living faith includes any ministry that helps us to live out our faith through word and deed. Some of the key living ministries in our church include our backpack ministry, Athens First Saturday community outreach, Christmas gifts for needy families, college student outreach, Kairos prison ministry, etc.
How have you seen how our church has blessed others through our living out our faith ministries?
During the sermon time, three people from our church shared testimonies regarding their participation in the loving, learning, and living ministries of the church.
What stood out for you from those testimonies?
Pray this pray together from this week's worship service. It's a prayer that encourages each one of us to have a loving, learning, and living faith.
Almighty God, thank you for giving us hearts, minds, and hands to exercise our faith on a daily basis. Thank you for worship services, small groups, Sunday School classes, bible studies, and serving opportunities that help us to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of our community and world. To this end, we offer all of who we are so that we can become all of who you are calling us to be. We pray this through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever more. Amen.