Forward Today: The most important thing

Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea

Dear friends in Christ,

This spring has been a whirlwind of travel for me. It’s vestry retreat and Lenten retreat season, so I’ve been visiting congregations far and near.

Last weekend, I was visiting the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida, where I preached and led a Lenten retreat. If you are near there, I highly recommend visiting this stunningly beautiful church. But the impressive architecture and glorious gardens are not even the most impressive thing. The church is bursting with ministries. The Spirit is alive there.

There are a lot of reasons why this church is thriving, but some of the reasons are in common with many other churches that are seeing numerical growth and spiritual vitality. Churches that focus on compelling preaching, excellent liturgy, learning for all ages, and the encouragement of spiritual disciplines are often doing quite well.

In other words, churches thrive when they focus on the most important things: God’s love for us, our love for God, and the joy of sharing God’s love with the world.

How is your church doing? What is important there? I encourage you to have a look at Jay Sidebotham’s recent book on spiritual vitality if you want some ideas for how to help spiritual growth take root in your congregation.

By the way, if you want to hear my sermon from Bethesda, have a listen. I preached about exactly this topic, which is why it’s on my mind. The most important thing is love.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Gunn's signature

Scott Gunn
Executive Director

P.S. The rector at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea is the Rev. Tim Schenck. He’s doing a great job, and I am blessed to count him as a friend. If you want to savor some of his wisdom, check out his latest book: Devotions for People Who Don’t Do Devotions.

More from our ministry:

Simple practices for spiritual living: The Way of Love Practical Guide

Get ready for Easter with Scott’s book: Easter Triumph, Easter Joy

Build scripture and prayer into your daily routine: Forward Day by Day

FREE curriculum & companion book: Walk in Love | Practicing Our Faith