I had already decided my plan for 2017. My monthly giving would decrease due to the decline in economic growth.
So when the church presented the “Unleashed” campaign and the need for incremental giving, I was saddened because I assumed I wouldn’t be able to financially participate.
Pastor David introduced the church’s refined vision encased in the phrase, “Unleashing the Gospel.” I began thinking about what this meant. The word “unleash” is more than just “setting free” from restraint. The word carries power and authority. It is forceful and intense. It gets down to business. It’s serious about action.
Unleashing is to unshackle, liberate, unbind and uncage. It requires vigor, stamina, zeal and determination. It does whatever it takes to get the job done.
The gospel is God’s plan for humanity. It is God’s love in action. So how do we as individuals “unleash” this good news? Two thoughts come to mind.
So - how much can I give, and where can I serve?
After much prayer, God prompted me to do whatever it takes to support this campaign and make a financial commitment. I would find a way to cut expenses and give. Why? Because God is faithful! Always.
I am looking forward to “Unleashing the Gospel” in 2017! Join me in making a commitment?
If your family is like mine, some of your favorite Christmas traditions involve gathering as a family for a special holiday meal. It is a time for remembering, for celebrating, for anticipating. It can often be some of the most meaningful moments of our year.
Our Bear Creek Church family also has a Christmas tradition to gather together on a Wednesday night in December, to sing, to pray, to listen to God’s Word proclaimed, and then to come to the Lord’s Table and eat the Supper he has prepared for us.
We remember his death and resurrection as we eat the bread and drink the cup.
We celebrate gift of life and grace that we have today because he has filled our hearts with his Spirit.
We anticipate his return, when all our best and most beautiful desires will be fulfilled beyond our wildest imaginings, when every day will be a holiday, and the banquet will never end.
But until then—and to help us persevere until then—join us for a Christmas Lord’s Supper at Bear Creek tonight, December 14, at 7pm.
My teenage son Noah and his friend Joshua have a secret – and quite elaborate – handshake. It’s how they say goodbye after a trip to the pool, the basketball court or even Sunday morning worship. I’m not sure where the handshake started, but I can trace the origins of their friendship back to one of our ministry’s first lock-ins.
Our Children’s Team started the Almost Lock-In about three years ago because we wanted to give kids the one thing they lacked on Sunday mornings – time. Time to play together, talk together and grow godly friendships, which is something that our structured Sundays packed with worship, scripture memory and Bible study don’t always have room for.
The Almost Lock-in was the answer. While on Sundays we play to teach, at the Almost Lock-in we played just to have fun. And this fall we had 105 third through fifth graders on campus for four and a half hours doing just that.
The kids ate, laughed, played games, ran around for laser tag and tested their skills on Mario Kart. In the process, they learned each other’s names, discovered what they had in common and made memories together. In short, they laid the foundation for friendships with fellow believers.
In a world where faith in Christ is under assault, that’s increasingly important. The older our children get, the more they will need Christian friends to stand with them, encourage them and pray for them just as Paul spurred us to do in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
Perhaps the most encouraging thing from this year’s event came two days later on Sunday morning when I watched a student who hadn’t been to church in months return.
I may never know exactly what brought this boy back or how many Noah & Joshua-type friendships were born at this year’s Almost Lock-in; however, I do know that there’s truth to a TV show theme song from my youth that said people want to go “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” That’s what our kids are looking for, and hopefully events like the Almost Lock-In help them find at Bear Creek – koinonia – a place where they belong and friends who genuinely care for them.
This is an incredible time.
I know there is great political discord in our country. And economic struggle for so many. And a lot of serious concern about the moral-ethical underpinnings in our culture. All of that makes it a serious time in which we live.
But it is an incredible time as well. The gospel is never more real, effective, and needed than it is in a time like this.
I have felt stirred by God’s Spirit for many months to call on Bear Creek to vision in a new and fresh way. To ask God to make us more passionate for the gospel. To make us more gospel-focused and more shaped by it.
It is time to begin communicating this new direction to our fellowship – God is calling us to be a more radically gospel-centered, disciple-making community for all people.
The Unleashed emphasis over the next several weeks is about stirring this vision among us. It is about challenging our faith to trust God for a significant future. Our dream is to create a movement of the gospel in our community, to our city, and around the world. We vision to become an intensely gospel-centered church community.
On the most practical level we dream of doing 10 big things for the sake of the gospel over the next three to five years:
To do this – we must unleash a new wave of prayer, and faith, and generosity in our church. Please begin praying for God’s presence in all of these efforts. Begin stirring your own faith toward God accomplishing them through us. And begin praying how you will be a part of financially resourcing all that God could do through us.
Let’s be a part of making the next 3 to 5 years the most spiritually fruitful time in history of our church. Let’s be a part of Unleashing the Gospel in our community, to our city, and around the world.
Bear Creek families: we have a BIG challenge. Most studies today indicate that at least half of students will walk away from their faith in college. Why is that? Most believe they have an immature/fragile faith because it is unchallenged. At Bear Creek, we are committed to changing this with your help.
So this is where you come in. Your goal is to raise kids with a stronger faith – an authentic faith, described in 1 Timothy 1:18-19:
Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.
Through a mutual partnership with parents, we must be equipping and preparing our children to do God’s work – and do it starting at a young age.
Reggie Joiner is a ministry leader who has led this movement on authentic faith. He once stated, “What if the things we consider as BIG really don’t matter as much as we think? What if the biggest difference is made by not doing something big at all? What if the biggest things are accomplished by doing something small? When we lead small, we realize that what we do for a few will always have more potential than what we do for many. When we lead small, we simply make a choice to invest strategically in the lives of a few over time so we can help them build an authentic faith” – a faith they will not walk away from.
Just as I am writing this I am welcoming twelve new 6th grade volunteers in preschool ministry. Why is this group so special? These are the kids that were in my small group when I first started serving at Bear Creek. I was part of leading small; these kids looked up at me with wide eyes for one hour a week. It was my calling to teach them and set the foundation in their lives to one day go out and make disciples.
I am overjoyed to see that my time invested in these middle-schoolers has ignited a calling to authentic faith leading them to come back and serve another generation. They truly understand the importance of investing into others and sharing the Word of God just as they heard at such a young age.
When we all see the importance of leading small and teaching the next generation, we are building a serving culture that our world so desperately needs. How can you lead small? – ask ME!
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