The Sweet Spirit


         Olive Branch United Methodist Church                                               


January 2013



Cross and...



Just a thought

I receive several different blogs in which I find articles that would be useful to our church. In that light I offer them as part of our newsletter. Some may be controversial and some may have a deep meaning to them in our journey. Please take them to heart and think about what they are saying and how it helps us as a church and as disciples


" Does Your Church Have a Church Growth Lid ?"    By Ray Houser  

OK, I know the term “church growth” is out of style, and it really bothers some people in Christian leadership circles. (I find the ire it raises in church leaders is often directly proportional to the growth or lack of growth of the churches they have led.) 

I also know that for some, church growth has become all about numbers and dollars and making the pastor a star. You can call it church growth, or you can say it is the church doing the mission, or being the church, or call it the missional church. The point is to get more people to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Just as healthy, normal human bodies grow, healthy, normal churches grow. 

If the church is a group that truly cares about each other and worries that friends and neighbors are headed for hell, it will grow. In fact, I think if a church lives up to Jesus’ purpose for it, it can’t help but grow. Strip it all down to the most basic terms and you find our assignment is to do the Great Commandments of loving God and loving others, and to fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples. If a group is doing that, people will want to be a part of the fellowship.

What bugs me are the lids church people and even some church leaders put on the church. These lids keep the church from being what God designed her to be.

Here are a few of the most popular lids. You can probably add to the list:

We want to know everybody. If your church has an attendance of more than 40, you don’t know everyone. Besides if you know everyone, the church has not been reaching out.

We want to grow spiritually. It is not necessary for us to grow numerically. If you are growing spiritually, you should be learning how desperately people need the Gospel.

We need to keep traditions alive. Not if they get in the way of helping people find the love, hope and salvation Christ offers.

We might offend some people in the church. Apologize and refer them to the mission to save the lost.

We might offend some unbelievers. The Gospel often offends the people who need it the most.

If we grow we will need to expand our building, and that is expensive. First of all, there are alternatives. Second, get over your fear and trust God to provide.

We might get new people who are not like us. Expand your horizon. It was tough for the early Jewish Christians to accept Gentile believers. Grow up.

The pastor won’t be able to give me as much attention. Grow up and let other members of the body minister to you.

If we grow someone might come to church that sings better than I do and he will get all the solos (or play piano, guitar, etc.) Listen to yourself. When did the church become about you?

If we grow there will be new people in leadership and I won’t have as much control. Jesus should be in control anyway. Why do you need to be in control? Whose church is this? Is it yours because you give a lot, or Jesus’ church because He paid for it with His blood? If a church is going to grow, or become truly missional, or truly be the church, it will have to face up to these lids and find ways of removing them.

Hopefully, that means the people will have a change of heart and realize it is more important for their neighbor to find Jesus than it is for them to have things their own way. Unfortunately, too often the only ways those lids are removed is for certain people to leave in a huff. Many church plants are started because the pastor discovered it was easier to start a church from scratch than to remove lids at an established church.

All of us … from the church leader, to the seminary professor, to Joe and Mary pewsitter … need to look at ourselves. Am I a lid? Is my talk or my attitude keeping the church from building God’s Kingdom? What scares me about the growth of my church, and why? How does God want me to work to help other people become followers of Christ



Christmas Eve Candlelight Service


Our church came together on Christmas Eve to celebrate the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We were honored by a solo by our pastor Jeff Clemmens. We heard the story from Luke and Jeff brought us his understanding of the shepherds who were called that night to take the good news to the people. The service ended with a singing of “Silent Night” by candlelight. This was moving time for all in attendance as we wished the world and each other a “Merry Christmas!”




Christmas for the least of us


The Outreach Committee, with the help of members of the church took Christmas to 11 children and 11 adults on the 19th of December. This was our churches Angel Tree giving. Each child received a toy, clothing, coat and shoes. The adults received clothing and coats. Also we as a church delivered Christmas dinner to 14 families consisting of ham, cabbage, potatoes and staples. The entire church should be proud of its efforts to bring a little joy to these families. A special “Thank you!” goes out to our Outreach Committee for the work that went into gathering and distributing the presents and food. It was a busy day on the 19th as Peggy Moore, Judy Kibler, Lily Loher, Bev Noland, and Johnna Fross gave up a day to put the packages and food together for distribution. A loud “Thank You !” goes out to Olive Branch UMC for the generosity and the love they showed to the least of us in our area.

_________________________________________________________________Administrative Council to Meet on January


Our Administrative Council will meet this month. We will resume the monthly meeting on January 8th at 7:00pm. Remember this is our church and we each have a stake in it.  These meetings are open to all church members. If you want to know the status of our church and its programs please join us. Your voice is needed to help us grow.



Outreach Committee Will Meet in January


Outreach Committee will resume their regular meeting on January 8th at 6:00 pm Lisa DiStefano asks that all members be in attendance as the committee will start planning for the new year.


Alpha Classes to Begin

Johnna Fross will be leading classes in Alpha starting this month. Stay alert to the announcements during services the next couple of weeks.


Jeff’s Bible Study

Rev Jeff will be conducting an in depth study of the Bible starting in Genesis on Wednesdays starting on either the 16th or the 23rd. He will announce the specific date at announcements in the next week or so. The study will take place in the fellowship hall at 7:00pm.







United Methodist Women to hold “A QUIET DAY APART”


The UMW will meet on Wednesday, the 8th of January for not only their business meeting but to have a “Quiet Day Apart”. The meeting will convene at 11:00 am to spend time in quiet reflection. At 12:00 pm a soup lunch will be served with a business meeting thereafter. At 1:00 pm they will resume their “Quiet Day Apart”.  The day is open to all ladies of the church.



United Methodist Men


 The United Methodist Men will meet on January 19th at 8:00am. Breakfast will be provided for all by our infinitely talented Mike Fross and Monty Evans. There will be a devotional and a meeting after breakfast. All men of the church are invited to join us as we plan our upcoming year. You will find a schedule for the year for providing breakfast for us with this issue of the newsletter.




Sunday School  


Sunday School is available each Sunday morning.  The importance of Sunday School is that, though you may think hearing the word during the worship service will suffice for you, you really need to be in attendance at Sunday School to gather all the information that you can in an open discussion classroom.  Jesus’ word cannot be totally understood just by listening to a sermon.  You have to interact with it and with other Christians to learn what He was saying to us.  This is a life long study and you should take part.  Please plan on joining us to learn more about our Lord, Jesus Christ and the Word. The current study is on the Prophets of the Old Testament.  Sunday School begins at 10:00 AM



This is our newsletter. It is meant to be a way to communicate what your church is doing and what all the organizations are doing both in the congregation and the community.  I will be sending this electronically via email.  If you know someone who needs a printed copy, they are being made available. 


There are many organizations within our church and I hope they would like to have their achievements, plans, and meetings made known to the entire church. It is my hope that they will ask one of their members to drop a short note as to what they doing each month. The line of communication in the church needs to be open and full of what we are doing at Olive Branch to make disciples in our area.


If you would like to send us something, please bring it to church or send me an email ( and we will see that it gets published.  Please, let’s keep our church informed on what we are doing.


See you at church and God bless


Ed DiStefano