News & Views March 18

Psalm 23:1-4

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths,  bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”

MARCH 21st WORSHIP  -10 A.M.
ONLINE - watch live from anywhere at 10 a.m. or whenever you can
IN-PERSON - Family Center Gym
Chairs are now set-up, so you no longer need to bring your own.
Pastor Mark, preaching  -  Bruce, Phyllis, Brian, & Don, music
Farewell for Frieda Walls
"The Church as a Diverse Family"
Read ahead: Colossians 4:7-18

Doin' "The Sheep Shuffle"

by Pastor Mark

As churches reopen from the “ice age” of the pandemic, churchgoers are making choices about which churches they’re connecting with. The “sheep” are shuffling, you might say, like cards in a deck. That is true among the families of New Life Community, too.

I want to speak openly about this and offer my encouragement as you make your own choices before God. As the ties of church membership that have bound us over the years loosen, we can still live toward each other with the values of God’s kingdom. As we do, the whole body of Christ in all its locations and forms will be more healthy and ready for Jesus’ return.

Research done by The Barna Group, a trusted evangelical Christian polling firm, found that by early summer of 2020 nearly a third of pre-pandemic churchgoers were neither attending church nor worshiping online. Of the two-thirds that were connecting to worship services, half either switched churches or participated in multiple churches. I know family and friends who have done just that, including myself.

This enormous cross-fertilization is healthy, I believe. Some Christians have only worshiped in one church for their entire lives, and though that demonstrates tremendous faithfulness it can also foster the entrenchment of ideas and practices in a body that should rather reflect the dynamic, creative, and life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit.

This COVID-19 pandemic has permanently altered the face of the church. More than twice as many churches will not survive as in a normal year, and of those that do, they will have adapted in ways that make them different and more fruitful than they were before the pandemic.

By God’s grace, New Life Community is surviving. We are adapting in order to bring our vision to reality. We aren’t floundering, wondering which direction to go. We believe that God has called and gifted us to shift ourselves more strongly and cohesively toward our community with ministries that bring life transformation through Jesus. Not only did the pandemic NOT slow our progress toward this vision, we have actually grown our outward focused ministries through the pandemic! Faith & Finances and the NLC Home Resource Center launched in 2020, and our monthly Grab & Go Meals were offered in response to local families’ needs for food and care. Being part of New Life Community means taking part in this work God has called us to in Dinuba.

If you haven’t been attending NLC gatherings or online services you may be surprised to know we’ve been growing in these ways. We have increased communication to spread the word and invite participation, but in these unprecedented days of isolation and separation it remains a challenge. Our communication has traditionally benefited from being in the same room and talking together. Now old bonds are breaking everywhere, it seems, and new bonds are forming. Let me offer my encouragement to you as Christians do “The Sheep Shuffle”.

  1. Seek the Lord’s direction. I trust you will have been in prayer about your church attendance choices and will yield to the Lord’s leading. His Word says that he will give wisdom to those who ask him, and will guide us in ways that please him. I have been pleased to hear from some newcomers to NLC that they believe God called them here. They have also told me that they’ve been open about that with their former pastors.
  2. Own your own decision. What I mean is, don’t blame your choices on the actions of others. Take responsibility for your own feelings and choices, whether you choose to go where other family is, you prefer another church’s music, or your children can benefit from being with others their own age or school. One of the problems that can occur when we don’t own our own decisions is we try to use our choices to manipulate others. “If someone would just do such and so, then I wouldn’t have to do such and so.” If that’s the case, I urge you to yield yourself again to the Lord’s leadership in your life, in the lives of others, and in his body--the church. Let his peace rule your heart and choices.
  3. Leave it better than you found it. If you need to reconcile with someone, take this opportunity to do so instead of sweeping unresolved conflict under the rug. Because our same Lord Jesus is the head of any church you might choose, we honor him when we love each other across his expansive body instead of pretending we can leave each other. This “road” we’re on as followers of Jesus, regardless of the church “car” you’re in, is heading to the same destination--his throne. We’ll be worshiping there, together, for all eternity. 
  4. Let your pastor/Elders know. If you’re a member of NLC and deciding to connect to another church, whether temporarily or permanently, please let me or another Elder know. We won’t judge you, but will appreciate the opportunity to hear, understand, and bless you. Are you hurt? Call me or an Elder. We will pray for you and may also be able to help toward healing or reconciliation if that’s an issue. 

Long before the pandemic hit our corner of the world, our church was united in the vision God gave us--to see our church as a diverse family, continuously transformed by Jesus, and authentically loving God, each other, and our community. I pray that still resonates in your heart and mind and that God leads and empowers you to offer yourself to His work here, even if it's a new way for you. We want you here. I encourage you to seek and trust God’s leading in His body. You are part of it and needed as we anticipate the Lord’s return.
Next Steps
Here are ways to connect and serve!
NEEDED for next Sunday's Grab & Go Meal:
Kitchen workers for meal prep
Friendly servers outdoors
Prayer partners to offer prayer to those picking up meals

Contact Bruce & Laurel Smith

Our Giving

Received Last Week (3/14/21): ............. $6,560.95
Received this year to date:................ $253,536.87
Budget Goal: ....................................... $521,591.00
Budget to Date: ................................... $275,557.51
Needed Weekly to Meet Budget: ....... $10,722.17
  • The Men's Bible study had 19 men on Tuesday, including 5 teens. Praise the Lord and ask for him to bind the hearts of "fathers" with "sons" in the faith.
  • Pray for workers needed on Sunday mornings for middle school students, one assistant for Laurel Smith with children, and several to help Jennifer Kubar in hosting high schoolers.
  • Pray for healing, strength, comfort, and endurance for those dealing with health issues: JR Southard, Jean Wohlgemuth, Bob Heinrichs, Marilyn Chappell, and Norma Froese.
  • Glen Zimmerman is receiving treatments for myeloma and grateful to know the doctor believes he'll be in remission by fall. There is no bone cancer, praise the Lord!
  • Joyce Penner's son Fredrick is recovering from COVID-19.
  • Tim Hofer (family to Mike & Barb) is in a life and death battle with COVID-19. 
  • Teachers and school staff need energy, creativity, patience, and endurance as schools begin to open. Many are simply adding in-person learning to the online instruction they continue to offer to students who are not ready to return to classes.
  • Remember those who have lost loved ones this past year, and especially recently (Mary Kay Elrich and Agatha Enns' families).
  • The Pray & Go ministry will launch soon. Pray for the leader, Nori Naylor, and ask the Lord to prepare you to participate with a heart of compassion, courage, and confident faith.
COVID-19 precautions: For your safety and others, please maintain 6' of distance
and wear a face covering on campus, unless otherwise posted.
Thank you.

NLC has installed ionization generators for air sanitization in the gym.

Questions? Call 559-591-1176 or

Mark Isaac


Cheri Witter - March 20th, 2021 at 5:53pm

Hello, Just wondering when we'll be returning to the Church sanctuary for worship :) We miss it very much. The choir & the organ, and "Church" in general.... not in the gym

Mark Isaac - March 22nd, 2021 at 10:46pm

Hi Cheri. Thanks so much for responding! We certainly do have the desire to re-enter the sanctuary and have a design to do so in the works. The church tabled that for now at our fall business meeting, but the equipment we purchased for our worship space in the gym is exactly what we'll need in the sanctuary. Come when you can! The church is people, not buildings, so you're needed :)

Cindy Donaldson - March 27th, 2021 at 1:34pm

Hi for some clarity about what was tabled had to do with the sanctuary design that leadership was showing us at the business meeting? Or what was tabled was something to do with when we would meet back in the sanctuary? I remember the discussion about the possible "remodel" where the entry doors are and the bridal room etc etc and that being "tabled" at that time, I don't remember a discussion about when we might meet back in the sanctuary other than leadership didn't know since we were still under the mandate of not meeting indoors. Perhaps some more clarity would be helpful at the upcoming business meeting or in your reply here to help relieve confusion on my part. :-)

Mark Isaac - March 27th, 2021 at 5:40pm

Thanks for asking, Cindy!

You're right, the congregation tabled the Worship Center redesign/remodel at the business meeting back in October. Deciding when to move back into the sanctuary wasn't discussed. The decision of ministry leaders to prepare the gym as a new worship space until we have clear direction on the sanctuary redesign/remodel is something they and I will be happy to clarify and discuss at the upcoming Members' Meeting on April 18th, 11:00 a.m.