Church Blog

The Value of Care Groups

February 8 2016 at 2:24 pm 0 Comments

This past Sunday was "Super Group Sunday", a day dedicated to helping people connect with others by highlighting the many care groups, book clubs and Bible studies members have organized here in the church.

During the service we enjoyed a video from the Galeano Care Group where members talked about how much being part of a care group has meant for them. It was wonderful to see how God has used this group to build a sense of community, where friends strengthen and build each other up in faith.

After the service, several hundred people crowded into the gym to meet the leaders of different groups and ministries, enjoy laughs and fellowship and, of course, some delicous Super Bowl snacks.

If you missed the event, it's not too late. You can still browse all the open care groups through the "Find A Group" page of this website. Reach out to one of the care group leaders there, and set up a time to check out their group.


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Building Community Through A Book Club

February 2 2016 at 9:30 am 0 Comments

Enjoy Tracy Branchaw's testimony of how God used her to start a book club that created community and strengthed relationships through fellowship. If you're interested in starting and joining a group of your own, check out Super Group Sunday after the service THIS Sunday (Feb. 7.)

I’m going to pretend I’m typing an email:

It’s 2013

Dear so and so,

John and I are starting a new book club and we wanted to know if you would be interested. As you know, we’ve been in limbo for a year or 2 since we stopped leading a youth care group and our pastor left to start the church plant in Mt Airy. We are thinking about something different and thought that the 3 things we like best: sharing a meal, reading a good book and hanging out with folks, could combine into a potluck book club. There is a book we found that would be great to go through with others in the same season of life. It’s called You Never Stop Being a Parent: Thriving in relationship with your adult children. We are inviting 9 other couples, some we know a little, some we know a lot. You may not know them at all. It’s likely that not everyone will want to join the book club. We will meet once per month. I’ll host the first one and I’ll make the main course and then everyone can bring sides and dessert. John will lead the first meeting and you just need to read the first chapter. The book has 10 chapters so we can finish it in about 1 year. And even though our house is on the small side, we’ll just pack in so it will be cozy. Then, we’ll switch houses every month and whoever is hosting will throw out possible dates, make the main course and lead the discussion. That way nobody will get overwhelmed. If you want to come, reply asap and we will see you at 6:30 on Saturday.

I sent this email 3 years ago and this book club is still going strong.

Although we had lead, enjoyed and benefitted immensely from caregroups in the past, we were looking for something different. We had started a supper club with a few friends and were thinking of starting another, but it seemed too labor intensive. Then we thought about having a book club. We thought about not being with the same friends we normally gravitated toward. We didn’t pick people who knew each other. All were in the same season of life-almost or absolute empty-nesters. Some had kids who were doing well, some had kids who had walked away from Christianity. Divorce, engagement, marriage, homosexuality, irresponsibility, prodigals, college issues...these were all topics that would end up being addressed in our new group with our 1st book.

Our second book was Prayer by Timothy Keller. Although it’s a good book, it didn’t work out very well for discussion. I hate to say it, but I’m not a silent sufferer and I complained quite a bit about how hard the book was for me (and I’d picked it!) but others were getting a lot out of it and they tolerated me. A better book for discussion might have been A Praying Life by Paul Miller, we might do that for our fourth book. We had also thought about doing a work of fiction like “Gilead” by Marilynne Robinson.

Our current book is Jesus Outside the Lines - a way forward for those who are tired of taking sides. It’s about politics, poverty, money, and the institutional church. Everybody has an opinion and not everybody agrees and that’s just fine.

Book clubs may or may not have the depth of discipleship of a caregroup, it depends on your vision for it.

But if you are looking for something a bit different from the norm, think about some folks that would make a diverse group, pick a great book, throw out some dates and start your new book club! It could be in your neighborhood, your school, or your place of work.  And don’t forget the food! That’s the real reason people want to get together anyway-to eat and talk and savor the time.

If you're interested in starting and joining a group of your own, check out Super Group Sunday after the service THIS Sunday (Feb. 7.)


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Sunday Greeting from Mark

January 22 2016 at 12:46 pm 0 Comments

Here's a greeting from Mark Mitchell for your snowed-in Sunday.


P.J. Smyth messages from the last two Sundays:

"God’s Sovereignty and our Faith" (from January 10)

 

"Outwards" (from January 17)


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Sanctity of Life Sunday: Tsai Family Testimony

January 20 2016 at 12:33 pm 1 Comments

On January 17, we marked Sanctity of Life Sunday and heard this powerful testimony from Rob and Trinity Tsai about the power of God's gift of life.


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Outward Living Plan

January 19 2016 at 12:43 pm 0 Comments

On Sunday, P.J. Smyth presented his 2016 "Outward Living Plan" to encourage us to make friends, build relationships with our co-workers, acquaintances and neighbors.

Download a PDF of the Outward Living Plan
Download the youth version of the Outward Living Plan

Step 1:   Make Genuine Friends with Unbelievers

  • Think relatives, neighbors, colleagues, those with shared interests in your current rhythm of life. God has placed you!
  • Prioritize a few people and make it your aim to become a brilliant friend.
  • Pray for them.

No friends? Think about rhythms of life:

a) Gym, hairdresser, out walking, etc. 
b) Hobby: running club / walking club / dog / kids sports team
c) Meals: 21 per week

Step 2:   Naturally Engage on Spiritual Things

  • Let these friends know you are a Christian, in a natural, unforced way.
  • Live an attractive, authentic life, not perfect, but not high maintenance.
  • Be honest about your struggles: don’t hold out Christianity as a self-improvement scheme. Share how your faith helps you.
  • Listen to your friend’s problems; maybe offer to pray for them.
  • Ask about their faith, and just listen. You might say, “Are you a person of faith? What does that look like for you?” If they say, “I don’t believe in God” say, “Tell me more about that” Don’t show disapproval if you disagree with what they believe. Ask questions and listen with interest. This is what friends do! It is also an expression of love, respect and humility, and it will help you understand them better. It may also mean that in due course they are more open to hearing your view of faith.

Step 3:   Draw people into your church community

  • Informally socially, or more formally socially, e.g., interest groups (book club, sport)
  • Can freeload on others’ friendships. Fish as a team.

Step 4: Personal and Public Proclamation

  • Personal: Prepare and use personal tools:

a) Personal testimony: 30 sec and 3 min versions. Keep it real. Share how your faith helps you; e.g., stress, fear, drivenness.
b) Learn 2-4 ways to frame the Gospel
c) A stash of resources to give: “This helped me.”, “I would be interested to see what you think of this.”

  • Public: Think what’s first: Social action or Introducing God course? Sunday? Particular preacher or series?

Our 2016 Goals

  1. Invite at least one unbeliever to our Easter Service.       (i.e. “A tradition we have is to go to church on Easter and then eat together, and we would love you to join us.”, “Kids have a blast.”, “We’ve got this new pommie pastor who I am still working out; would love your perspective.”)
  2. Have a couple of friendships developing nicely by the fall. This gives our church a chance to gear up in a few areas.

Download a PDF of the Outward Living Plan
Download the youth version of the Outward Living Plan


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Everyday Truth | Finding the Mean of Virtue in Political Tolerance

January 11 2016 at 9:32 am 0 Comments

We always want to know the right thing to do in a situation, and yet it can be hard to determine and even harder to articulate a position. People frequently over simplify situations and think more of one thing is needed, and more of that thing is always better. This can wrongly flatten situations and cause problems. Aristotle had a "doctrine of the mean" that is helpful on issues like this, and J. Budziszewski explains the idea in his book Written on the Heart.

He says human actions can go in opposite ways like this: 

Cowardice --------------- Courage
Stinginess ---------------- Generousity
Grouchiness ------------- Friendliness
Boorishness -------------- Wittiness

This common belief implies that as long as one is extreme in the right direction, being extreme is always commendable. But actually the paths come not in pairs but in triples, and the vices are usually in pairs on opposite sides of the virtue. It look more like this:

Cowardice --------------- Courage --------------- Rashness
Stinginess ---------------- Generousity ---------- Extravagance
Grouchiness ------------- Friendliness ----------- Obsequiousness
Boorishness -------------- Wittiness -------------- Buffoonery

One of the most common ways we see this extreme in our day is in the esteem of tolerance. People think the more tolerance the better. The current view is:

Intolerance --------------- Tolerance

In actuality the doctrine of the mean helps us see the real virtue and the real vices are more like this:

Narrowminded Repressiveness -------- Tolerance -------- Soft-Headed Indulgence

Christians are frequently labeled as intolerant because they do not believe every action should be permissible. They reject the soft-headed indulgence that says "do whatever makes you happy" and are labeled as narrow-minded. The doctrine of the mean shows narrow-mindedness is not what we are about. And by showing others the foolish scenarios that soft-headed indulgence lead to, we can demonstrate our shared quest for a balanced tolerance.

Next time you are stuck in a decision or trying to decide what is right and wrong consider if you have diagnosed the extremes accurately. Once you have done that consider what the real virtue is. And when looking for guidance on what is extreme, consult the Bible, because "the man who fears God will avoid both extremes" (Ecc 7:18). 

This post is shared courtesy of Keith Welton’s blog “Everyday Truth.” He shares his reflections on Scripture and other helpful topics there regularly.


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