Church Growth

What is a Disciple?

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

What does it mean to make a disciple? Well – it doesn’t mean finding 12 guys to follow you around in robes and sandals! Jesus’ famous final command can be summed up this way: form a relationship with someone, and use your words and actions to help them live a life devoted to God the way that yours is.

1. Bible Knowledge

2 Timothy 2:1–2 [ESV] “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

Bible knowledge can be passed along in a ton of different ways, but Christian character can only be conveyed one way, learning by example, one to one.

Q. Ask a friend or family member to describe how you talk, what your body language is like when you’re excited, how you sound when you’re tired. Where did you learn things like that from – school, reading a book… or from the example of people around you?

Q. What one or two people in your life have had the biggest impact on your character?

2. Challenge

Romans 6:1–4 [ESV] “Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? … just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” 

It’s not enough to know the Bible or believe in Jesus.  We’ve got to teach people to do what He said. Successful discipleship produces visible life change.

Q. Name a few people in your life who look up to you or take their cues from how you live. How are your attitudes and actions pointing them toward a God-pleasing life? 

Q. If you’re setting an example for others by accident, how much more effectively could you influence them if you did it strategically? What could you start (or stop) today that would help you disciple someone more effectively?

3. Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for the example(s) who showed you how to live a God-pleasing life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be that kind of an example for the next generation of believers.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Be Happy When People Pick On You

1. Power Verse

Matthew 5:10 “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”

Watts Up: “Even When I’m Treated Bad, I Know God Will Bless Me Good!”

This week, we start a brand new series called, “Ouch!”  In this series, we will learn about powerful truths Jesus taught when he preached the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus said some things that made his followers say, “Ouch!” because they knew what Jesus said was so true, and when they thought about how they were living compared to how Jesus said they should be, it stung a little.

2. Bible Reading

Read: Genesis 39-41

Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife

39 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me.18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

The Cupbearer and the Baker

40 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them.

After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected.So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”

12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days.13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.[a]17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”

18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days.19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole.And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— 22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.

23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Pharaoh’s Dreams

41 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.”

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same.God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God[b]?”

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace,and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Joseph in Charge of Egypt

41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command,[c] and people shouted before him, “Make way[d]!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[e] to be his wife.And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully.48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[f] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[g] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

3. Discussion

Q. What happened to Joseph?  

Q. Did Joseph do anything wrong?

Q. Was Joseph treated fairly?  How did he respond? 

Everyone gets mistreated at one time or another.  It’s a part of life, but how we respond is important.  It’s natural to respond to bullies and mean words and actions by getting upset or even angry, but Jesus said that we shouldn’t respond that way.

Jesus said that we should be HAPPY when people pick on us.  Ouch!  It stings a little when we realize the truth Jesus shared and how our behavior has differed from His instructions.

Q. Have you ever been mistreated by people in your life?  

Q. How did it make you feel?

Q. How do you normally respond to people who hurt you?

4. Prayer Focus

Pray for your child if they are being mistreated or bullied.  Pray that they will continue to do the right thing.  Pray that they will be comforted in knowing they are not alone in their situation – that Jesus knows how they feel.  And pray that they will always stay faithful to God even when they are persecuted.

Spiritual Growth

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

Last week, we looked at God’s big vision for 2018, 700 new people reached with the gospel and growing spiritually as part of the church. It’s awesome – we want to see it… but how are we supposed to go about accomplishing it?

1. Prepare Yourself

1 Peter 3:15 [GW] “But dedicate your lives to Christ as Lord. Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it.”

Q. Why do you choose to live with Christ as Lord of your life? Take a moment to explain it out loud, or if it helps, write it down.

Q. You don’t need to quote the entire Bible to lead someone to faith in God, but it would help to know a few verses by heart. Test yourself right now – can you remember verses that explain God’s plan for salvation? If not, what’s one verse that you should start memorizing today?

2. Engage the World

Matthew 13:3-8 [NLT] “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds. 4 As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath… 5 Other seeds fell on shallow soil… 7 Other seeds fell among thorns… 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

It’s not our job to make people accept Christ.  Jesus told us, not everyone will choose Him, but it is our job to spread the gospel like seeds everywhere we go. 

Q. The best gospel presentation you can make is your life. What elements of your life would support your claim that Jesus is Lord? What elements might contradict that message?

Q. Not every interaction with people is a “harvesting” moment. Sometimes our role is to plant a seed; we give people something to think about, to get the wheels turning in their minds and hearts. What are a few examples of what that might look like through your life?

Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for entrusting you with sharing the gospel. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you prepare to share your faith, and to open up opportunities with people who need a relationship with Him.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Money Matters

1. Power Verse

Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.  The world and all its people belong to him.” 

Watts Up: “I’ll Be A Good Steward And Take Care Of God’s Stuff!”

This week we answer a very important question… “What is Stewardship?”  It’s important for our children to not only know what it means to be a “steward,” but also know how to take care of the stuff God gives them!

2. Bible Reading

Read: Matthew 25:14-28

“…A man was going on a journey. He sent for his slaves and put them in charge of his money. He gave five bags of gold to one. He gave two bags to another. And he gave one bag to the third. The man gave each slave the amount of money he knew the slave could take care of…The slave who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work. He earned five bags more. The one with the two bags of gold earned two more. But the man who had received one bag went and dug a hole in the ground. He hid his master’s money in it.  After a long time the master of those slaves returned…The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you trusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have earned five more.’ His master replied, ‘You have done well, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you trusted me with two bags of gold. See, I have earned two more.’ His master replied, ‘You have done well, good and faithful slave! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man. You harvest where you have not planted. You gather crops where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid. I went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ His master replied, ‘You evil, lazy slave! …Well then, you should have put my money in the bank. When I returned, I would have received it back with interest.’ Then his master commanded the other slaves, ‘Take the bag of gold from him. Give it to the one who has ten bags.’” 

3. Discussion

Q. How many servants were there in our Bible story? What did each servant do with the “talents” or money he was given? What did the third servant do wrong with his “talent” or money?

That’s right!  The third servant buried his talent.  

Instead of making good use of it, he wasted it.  The master was not happy.  In the same way, God does not want us to waste our money, instead He wants us to be good “stewards!”

Q. What does it mean to be a good steward? Who does our money and stuff really belong to?  (God) How can we be good stewards of the things God has given to us?

4. Prayer Focus

Everything we have comes from God!  He is our source.  It’s important that we remember as “stewards” it’s our job to take good care of what we have because all of it comes from God and really belongs to Him! Pray that you and your children will recognize God as your source and focus on being good stewards of the things you have!

Predicament

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Adult & Teen Discussion Guide

God’s vision for Abundant Life in 2018 is big – reach 700 people with the good news of God’s salvation and disciple them. In order to do our part to see that vision become reality, we’ve got to overcome 3 predicaments our culture is entrenched in.

1. The Relationship Predicament

As technology changes communication, more and more people are becoming isolated. It was Jesus’ prayer for the church that we would be united, working together.

John 17:11 (ESV) Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.

Q. Do you feel connected or isolated in life? Is the church a factor in that feeling?

Q. Is forming friendships easy or difficult for you? If it’s easy – how might you be able to help others who are less comfortable making friends? If it’s difficult, what are some steps you can make to overcome that challenge?

2. The Transformation Predicament

Many Christians are full of information about God, but show no transformation in their lives. If we’re going to preach a gospel of life change, we need to model it.

Q. Which areas in your life are visibly different than unbelievers because of God’s influence? Which areas are not? If those areas changed, would your example to outsiders be stronger?

3. The Consumer Predicament

Our modern world is training us to expect people and organizations to serve us, instead of training us to serve others. Jesus modeled and taught a life that put others first.

John 7:38 (ESV) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ 

Q. In which ways does the church exist to benefit you? In which ways are you a part of the church body to benefit others?

Q. If your mentality became 10% less consumer-minded and 10% more servant-minded, what kind of difference would that make in the lives of others? What difference would it make in the fulfillment of God’s vision for Abundant Life?

Prayer Focus

Take a few minutes as a family: thank God for a compelling vision to change lives in our community this year. Ask the Holy Spirit to help us as a church overcome these predicaments together.


Family with Small Children Discussion Guide

Don’t Be a Stink Bug!

1. Power Verse

Philippians 2:5 “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”

Watts Up: “I Will CHOOSE A Good Attitude!”

This week, we continue the series called, “Bugs.”  In this lesson, we use the stinkbug to help us remember that we have a choice whether or not we have a “stinky” attitude. 

2. Bible Reading

Read: Job 1

The Story Begins

There was a man who lived in the land of Uz. His name was Job. He was honest. He did what was right. He had respect for God and avoided evil. Job had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep and 3,000 camels. He owned 500 pairs of oxen and 500 donkeys. He also had a large number of servants. He was the most important man among all the people in the east.

His sons used to give feasts in their homes on their birthdays. They would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. The time for enjoying good food would end. Then Job would make plans for his children to be made pure and “clean.” He would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them. He would do it early in the morning. He would think, “Perhaps my children have sinned. Maybe they have spoken evil things against God in their hearts.” That’s what Job always did for his children when he felt they had sinned.

One day angels came to the Lord. Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered, “From traveling all around the earth. I’ve been going from one end of it to the other.”

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you thought about my servant Job? There isn’t anyone on earth like him. He is honest. He does what is right. He has respect for God and avoids evil.”

“You always give Job everything he needs,” Satan replied. “That’s why he has respect for you. 10 Haven’t you guarded him and his family? Haven’t you taken care of everything he has? You have blessed everything he does. His flocks and herds are spread all through the land. 11 But now reach out your hand and strike down everything he has. Then I’m sure he will speak evil things against you. In fact, he’ll do it right in front of you.”

12 The Lord said to Satan, “All right. I am handing everything he has over to you. But do not touch the man himself.”

Then Satan left the Lord and went on his way.

13 One day Job’s sons and daughters were at their oldest brother’s house. They were enjoying good food and drinking wine. 14 During that time a messenger came to Job. He said, “The oxen were plowing. The donkeys were eating grass near them. 15 Then the Sabeans attacked us and carried off the animals. They killed some of the servants with their swords. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

16 While he was still speaking, a second messenger came. He said, “God sent lightning from the sky. It struck the sheep and killed them. It burned up some of the servants. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

17 While he was still speaking, a third messenger came. He said, “The Chaldeans separated themselves into three groups. They attacked your camels and carried them off. They killed the rest of the servants with their swords. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

18 While he was still speaking, a fourth messenger came. He said, “Your sons and daughters were at their oldest brother’s house. They were enjoying good food and drinking wine. 19 Suddenly a strong wind blew in from the desert. It struck the four corners of the house. The house fell down on your children. Now all of them are dead. I’m the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

20 After Job heard all these reports, he got up and tore his robe. He shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground and worshiped the Lord. 21 He said,

“I was born naked.
    And I’ll leave here naked.
The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away.
    May the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In spite of everything, Job didn’t sin by blaming God for doing anything wrong.

3. Discussion

Q. What happened in Job’s life?  

Q. What kind of attitude did he have?

All of us have bad days.  Sometimes our hair won’t cooperate.  Other times, we face difficulties with people we work with.  Every day we are tested to see if we will have a Godly attitude or not.

Too often, we let our attitudes be determined by what our day is like.  If things go well, we have a great attitude. If things go badly, we have a stinky attitude. Our attitude is a choice.  It is not determined by others.  We should have the same attitude that Jesus had – no matter what!

Q. What determines your attitude?  

Q. Do you normally have a stinky attitude?

Q.  How can you change your attitude?

4. Prayer Focus

Lead your child in a prayer of repentance for having the wrong attitude at times.  Pray that God will help them to choose the right attitude, just as Jesus did.  Pray that with God’s help, they will make the right choice for the right attitude and never ever be a stinkbug.

Who’s Report Will You Believe?

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I’m not sure how many of you frequent Facebook but I would guess that many of you do.  One of the things that most often frustrates me about the postings there are the ones that sound something like…. “Ten reasons why youth are leaving your church”, or “Why everybody hates church music,” or “64 reasons American Churches are Dying.”  I just don’t get it!  First, what makes the people who write these things experts on the church in America, and how were they able to sample a sufficient number of churches to make such all-inclusive remarks?  No one has ever visited our church to assess its health and I’ve never gotten a call asking me about how our youth or music ministry is going.

In truth, this feels more like an attempt to shape the narrative in our country in regard to the church.  Surely we’ve learned by now that one of the ploys of those opposed to a thing is to simply begin reporting on it’s demise and before long people believe it’s dead and actual death soon follows.  My personal experience today is that the truth is far from these reports.

I’ve got many pastor friends that are reporting great advancement of their churches.  Here at Abundant Life we are experiencing growth and advancement across the board and we are expecting more and more.  Walls that have kept people apart for generations are being torn down and in almost every area of ministry we are experiencing an abundance of life!  You can feel that what historically has been called revival is coming to the river bend and young and old alike are drawing closer and closer to God.  We’re coming off of one of our greatest financial years in the history of the church and we are touching not only our region but all over the world!

In short… Who’s report will you believe?  Those who would report the church’s demise are simply not telling the truth or any semblance of the truth.  God is growing his church and just as always… Nothing will prevail against it!

 

Blessings!

Zero Growth

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Did you know that there is a movement dedicated to “zero growth” here on planet earth?  Those involved in this movement are concerned about slowing the population growth so as to ease the increasing demand upon our earth’s resources.

There are also those who are concerned about a “zero growth” state existing in our nations economy by the year 2050. There are several websites dedicated to examining the extreme impact on our nation should we remain in a zero economic growth state for a prolonged period of time.

There are many other areas in which “zero growth” is of great concern to people, and yet within the body of Christ we seem to have adjusted pretty quickly to zero growth. We’ve adjusted both personally as well as corporately. In fact we’ve adjusted so well that those who are vocal advocates for mandated growth can seem a little out of sync with the mainstream.

Have you ever wondered what the Lord thinks the normative state of the church should be in reference to growth?

I don’t think you have to look very far into the scriptures to have an absolute understanding of what he expects of the church.  There are dozens and dozens or perhaps even hundreds of examples of the Lord’s expectation that the church corporately as well as individually will be growing constantly.

Consider the parable of the talents in Matthew 25 where the master expects an increase in his investment or John 15:5 where we are to bear “much fruit”.  Over and over in sections of scripture we see that we both individually and corporately are to be growing.  The scriptures are full of stories using planting, pruning, tilling, cultivating, and reaping all of which infer moving forward in growth and an ever -increasing harvest.  When did we become all right with zero growth?

I’ve heard people celebrate a lack of decline and the maintaining of their church’s relative size from year to year.  When did just keeping people become our goal?  That sounds remarkably like the servant who took the masters talent, buried it in the ground, then returned it to him just as he received it from him.  That is not who we are called to be!  We are called to grow, change, and become more for the Kingdom.  We pray, fast, preach, work, give, sacrifice, forgive, and serve so that there will be an increase for the Kingdom!  Our normative state is growth!  Our master expects growth!  As leaders we find spiritual, creative, and wise ways to remove the obstacles of growth and then we lead growth.  Nobody has to lead decline or death, those happen all by themselves.

We are expected to grow!

I have asked the Lord to break my heart in any area personally or professionally where I am comfortable with zero growth.  I want him to stretch my physically, spiritually, financially, and emotionally so that I am growing in every area.  I believe as I incorporate these into my own life they will affect the world around me.

I’m committed to grow!  How about you?

Renovations… Coming Soon!

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Check out all of the Plans here!

Awesome!  Wonderful!  Amazing!  Wow!

These are the kinds of words that come to mind when I reflect on the growth of ALCC over these past 32 months.  In fact we have doubled our Sunday Morning Worship!  While these are wonderful things, they do come with their own set of challenges.  Even with the addition of another Sunday morning worship service we are still out of room in some very critical areas.  Most pressing is our need for additional children’s space as well as bathrooms and common areas.

With this in mind we are beginning our fundraising for an expansion of our children’s areas, our bathrooms, as well as creating overflow room for our sanctuary.

The initial estimate from our architect was 2.3 million dollars but through much prayer, brainstorming, and commitments from many of you to volunteer labor, skills, and time we have cut that figure all the way down to $600,000!  On top of all of that, we have committed to doing everything we can to maintain the church’s debt-free position and we believe that we will raise the entirety of the $600,000!  Wow, all of that is exciting!

Over the next few months there will be many, many messes, long days and short nights for many of us, but together we are about to accomplish something truly remarkable.  Having been in this position on several occasions before, I can tell you that nothing brings a group of people closer than a common vision and working together to make that vision reality.  While my body is not looking forward to the next few months, my spirit is!

Please consider being a part of this work.  There will be something for everyone.  We will need people to demolish existing structure, cook, clean, set up, and tear down.  We will need carpenters, electricians, plumbers, painters, drivers, laborers, and a host of other jobs.  There’s something for you!  If you want to meet people and get involved here’s your chance.

When we are done our momentum will increase even more.  Our growth will not only continue but the rate will increase!  More new faces will appear weekly and people will be saved every week!  I’m believing for all of that and you can make it happen.

I know I can count on you!

Blessings!