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February 23, 2022
Pastor Justin Waples

Every Sunday I meet someone new. Whether it’s their first Sunday, or they’ve been at East White Oak for a long time and we’ve finally now connected, or it’s someone new in the sense that I might have seen or talked with them before, but never really “knew” them. By preparing ahead of my Sunday in prayer, asking God for help, I meet new people every week.

I try to meet these new, or new to me people, by asking a few simple questions get to know them in a deeper and fuller way. I love to ask them, “How can I pray for you right now?”. This has been one of my most rewarding experiences this past year and it did not happen by circumstance. I would encourage you to ask yourself the following questions every Sunday morning before you arrive at church: “Will I meet or speak to someone new today?”, “Will I pray with anyone?”, “Will I encourage someone?”, or “Will I thank a volunteer?”.

I pray that in my first three and a half years here at East White Oak I have had the chance to meet you! If not, will you please say “Hi!” one Sunday, as I would love to get to know you more. Chances are, many of the staff, leadership, and I have prayed for you if you’re in our church directory, but now it’s time for us to pray together. And can I encourage you to try and meet some new people too? When you see someone, not knowing if it’s their first Sunday or they’ve been here every Sunday since they were born, ask “How long have you been at East White Oak?”. This avoids the assumption of someone being “new”. It will help remind people that it’s not just those “new” people that need to be welcomed and cared for each week, but that we all long for that as “Christ has welcomed us” – see Romans 15:7!

That first question sets you up well, as it gives you valuable information into the next question you could ask. Then say, “What brought you to East White Oak?”. This question is fantastic because people typically answer one of two ways. Sometimes they tell us the basics, like the fact that they found our website, they drove by this church, or that they were invited by a friend. Other times, they give us a glimpse into the greater picture of what’s been happening in their lives, which motivated them to walk in the door their first Sunday. This connects us to people quickly and gives us a window into how we can best pray for and serve them moving forward!

If you missed our Connections Workshop at church with author and speaker Pastor Danny Franks, I encourage you to check out his two sessions in these recorded videos and download the corresponding worksheet. Danny encourages us to move from simply a being “Communer Christian”, one who although may be active in church sees the church as ‘theirs’, to becoming a “Commissioned Christian”, one who ministers to everyone they meet helping the outsider become an insider and the far from God come close to God. May you be blessed as you connect with every person you meet here at East White Oak!

Pastor Justin Waples is East White Oak’s Outreach and Discipleship pastor. He is married to Abigail and they are blessed with three children. Justin is passionate about equipping the saints for ministry and helping each member reach out and connect with their neighbors and community.