Hello, My name is Aaron Richbart, and I am one of the Elders here at Randall Church... although I'll admit you probably haven't seen me in a while. I suppose you could say I've been placed on "special assignment." About a year ago, I became part of the team tasked by Pastor Milo and the Elder Board at Randall to pursue a church re-plant effort in Clarence Hollow, just a few miles down the road from where Rebecca and I live. 
 
This coming Sunday, if you are at Randall, you will have the privilege to hear again from Jonathan Boudmer, the Planting Pastor of what has become "Fieldstone Church." You will hear how things are beginning to pick up speed for us in Clarence Hollow, and how God has continued to open doors for us here, with one answered prayer after another, after another, after another!

I now spend many of my "special assignment" hours side by side with Pastor Jonathan on an on-going basis. As I interact, I am very encouraged by the ways I have already seen he and his wife, Laura pour themselves into this community. They purchased their first home this fall, and moved their kids into a different elementary school in order to be closer to the target location. They go fishing with friends at the town park, and build relationships at the farmers market. 

I encourage you to listen intently to Pastor Jonathan, particularly if you live in the Clarence zip code, or if you the type of person who is willing to be spiritually challenged in new ways. Listen close, because we still need some of you to take the leap of faith and come on "special assignment" with us... even if its for a short while. I say this with the full endorsement of Pastor Milo and the Randall elders, because we believe that God called our church to facilitate something new in Clarence. Now we get to see it all come together!

Come and join us. Fieldstone Church wants to help the people of Clarence navigate life with God. We have preview services coming up in the Brickhall. It's a perfect opportunity to check things out. Look for me. I'll be the really excited guy that wants to greet you when you come in!

Aaron Richbart 
"Special Assignment Elder"
Randall Church 
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Who is the church for? 
Have you ever asked yourself this question?

When people find out that I am a Pastor, they always ask where the church is located, and comment on the facility if they have been by the place. The second question that almost always follows is something like: Who comes to your church? Or, more specifically: "Are there any people at your church that look like me?" And finally: "Is your church a place where I would be accepted?"

Andy Stanley, author of "Deep and Wide" and founding Pastor of Northpoint Church in Atlanta Georgia declares that he unashamedly wanted to create a church where unchurched people love to attend. His goal is to aim in worship to get as many people through the doors of the church as possible so that they may hear what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. 

Stanley leads a church that is without question "attractional" in its approach to drawing people to their church every weekend, and can appear on the surface to become Biblically shallow in doing so.  "Deep and Wide" however, is a good read that talks about some of the ways his church is being very intentional about creating environments where true life change occurs, and deep rooted Biblical discipleship happens. Pretty exciting stuff. Pretty specific stuff however, for the mega-churches of America. Pretty different from our context here in Buffalo, NY.

So, to ask the question again, with our local church context in mind... Who is the church for? Who are we trying to reach? Who are we pinpointing to help you "find your place?"

Where we differ from Stanley, who has a primary focus on the unbeliever, is that we believe the exclusive purpose of the church Is to glorify God, and make disciples. We must, above all else, be certain to  make everything we do about Him! Who is the church for? Why, its for Jesus Christ!

We don't believe it's purpose is to make the spiritual seeker feel comfortable, and unchallenged in their current state. Jesus warns his followers, that the Gospel will cause division. The Message of Christ will require a choice: to follow or to turn away. You cannot be neutral about Jesus. You're either for Him or against Him. You either follow Him or you oppose Him. He will not allow you to be indecisive.

That said, I believe churches should be both theologically sound, and culturally relevant. We must not be a stumbling block to those who would hear and respond to God's greatest gift. Hardly a month goes by without another article being written analyzing who is leaving the faith and why. While there is no one-size-all answer for why people reject Jesus, a recent article by Doug Ponder at Christianity.com listed Religious Hypocrisy (when Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle) and Gospel Inoculation (when a person thinks they’ve heard the gospel and rejected it, when in reality what they rejected was not the gospel but a dead, false, form of the real thing) as the primary barriers for those far from Christ.

Let us be a people who keep the main thing, the main thing. We will always preach Christ, crucified. We will however, also be intentional about rejecting religious hypocrisy and calling out a counterfeit Gospel... just like Christ did. This will always be a bit of a balancing act, but may we never become the barrier, for those seeking Christ. May all who would come to Him, be motivated to do so! May we not be a hindered effort to that calling. That, is really who the church is for! 

Just as I am, though tossed about 
With many a conflict, many a doubt 
Fighting and fears within without 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come 

Just as I am, and waiting not 
To rid my soul of one dark blot 
To thee whose blood can cleanse each spot 
O Lamb of God, I come, I come

- Pastor Milo
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We are not alone. But we are lonely. As this pandemic has gone on, I have found myself making many more phone calls, and scheduling many more zoom meetings with other Pastors than I would typically have had in a month's time. It's been a lonely season if I'm being honest. And it's been really good to be able to talk it out with other vocational ministers. The encouragement shared mutually, has been a lifeline in stormy seas.  

Pastors have been pulled in every direction it feels like. We've had to make tough decisions; knowing that we have far too little information to make them with. We've been doing our best to care for our people well, knowing that we have had far too little contact with them to do it with. No matter what, it feels like we will come up short. 

Pray for your Pastor(s) would you? If you are part of our congregation here at Randall Church... please pray for us. Pray for our leadership team and our elder board that we would be illuminated by daily time in God's Word to step bravely forward with a Scriptural lamp for our feet and a light for our path. If you are a part of another worship expression of the body of Christ; pray for your Pastor too!

We are lonely. But we are not alone. Pray that there will be a growing number of Pastors and Christian organizational leaders that find ways to unite and support one another. I do believe, just like many first responders in a crisis will experience a crushing wave of fatigue after running on adrenaline for an extended time; that Pastors and Chaplains should expect the same wave to crash into us as well.

Pray for your Pastor(s) would you? This role in ministry is given to those who have been called to shepherd the flock. Pray that today, this feeble shepherd would be cared for by the Great Shepherd; Jesus Christ. Surely I'm with you always. Even to the very end of the age.

We are lonely. But we are not alone.
May we finish strong!

- Pastor Milo

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The last year has been unusual, and interesting, to say the least. we have all had to make adjustments to our lives that we do not prefer, and have interacted with situations we would never have asked for.  However, we must be reminded that God is still at work! The kingdom of God continues to advance! The fields are white unto Harvest.

Two years ago now, Randall began a partnership with Harris Hill Baptist Church to pursue a church re-plant in Clarence, New York. Today I want to take the opportunity to celebrate what God has done.

Plans and contracts have been finalized to sell the facility located on Harris Hill Road. The church will be purchased by a Bhutanese speaking congregation, who has been looking tirelessly for a place of worship of their own. They are evangelicals, also connected (like we are) to the Frontier Baptist Association an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through God's providence, true international missionary work will be going on... right here in WNY. 

Harris Hill Baptist has legally changed its name, and restarted itself as Fieldstone Church. Pastor Jonathan Boudmer now has an office located right on Main Street in the center of Clarence Hollow, where scores of people walk and ride by every day on the bike path on his front steps. Pastor Jonathan has also purchased a home nearby, and is building growing relationships with many who call this area home. 

Fieldstone Church is meeting in the Brickhall Building, a beautiful old church converted into a banquet facility, directly across Main Street from the office. Quarantine Bible studies have been forming over the previous months, continuing to meet via zoom during the pandemic, and gaining momentum as the church works towards a launch date.

Fieldstone Church begins preview gatherings this coming Sunday, January 24th. We have something to celebrate! We have some thing to be praying for. Pray that a move of God would ignite in Clarence Hollow. Pray that the gospel of Jesus Christ changes lives. Pray that this body of believers would truly help people navigate life with God.

We have something to celebrate. We have something to pray for. But perhaps, you specifically have something to get involved with? Some of you live in Clarence, and could be a strong encouragement to this new church. Some of you live close by, and could go in person to support (even for one visit) what is happening there. This would be a wonderful encouragement for them. 

While there have been repurposed church buildings, there has not been an active church body in Clarence Hollow since the late 1960s. Lord willing, weekly services for Fieldstone are planned to launch Easter Sunday. May that mark a new day, for Christ's new work in Clarence Hollow. Praise be to God in advance for what lies ahead!

Pastor Milo
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Sermon Series: #WithUs

The opening pages of Luke invite those who are alone, worried and fearful into the story that proclaims a God who is active, engaged and present. He comforts us in the waiting. He gives us courage when we feel anxious. He is “with us.”

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