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Podcast – Identity Project Split

April 8, 2011 in Ministries, News

Identity Project on New Years, after eating world-famous Buffalo wings. In Buffalo, NY.

Mike Hudock, Zak Rozler, Kyle McCallum and Alex Herbers discuss the ins and out, ups and downs of the recent Identity Project homechurch split.

Kyle opens with the question “Why the split? Why would we decide to split what we had built?” and the discussion goes from there. Reasons for the split are raised and explained, as well as predictions and cautions of how to proceed being discussed. Their impressions from the first week of the separation are also talked about, both positive and negative.

Click here to listen

Check out IdentityProject’s official website here.

IP Unites to Serve India Missions

January 29, 2011 in Headlines, Ministries

By Laura Brown

Barefoot pastor teaching the Gospel in India

As members of the body of Christ, we have the privilege of serving others in the Lord’s name. India Gospel League offers just such anopportunity. IGL’s goal is to facilitate heart change by bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to rural India through indigenous leaders reaching out to others in their own country. (www.iglworld.org)

IGL offers several different sponsorships to choose from, including Bible students, barefoot pastors, child sponsorships, and nursing students. All of these sponsorships are doable for any home church. For example, sponsoring a child is only $30.00 a month and for a home church of 20 people that is only $1.50 a month per person. More than 60 percent of children live on less than this amount every day. That is the equivalent of buying $5 pops at Circle K, one tank of gas, or about half of a foot-long sub. Can you spare things such as these for a lost child?

Identity Project is currently supporting two Bible students, D. Rani and K.M. Immanuel Dhass. $50 per month provides each with housing, food, and the education. They send us letters about their ministry, such as quarterly updates about what’s going on with them what they need prayer for, pictures, and even Christmas cards. It gives us college students a chance to give and appreciate what we have. It helps us realize that we are part of a body of Christ much larger than just in northeast Ohio, and that others around the world need our help.

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners

‘New Atheists’ Meet ‘Pagan Christians’

January 21, 2011 in Ministries

Rob (right) patiently explains Hawkings to Keith (left)

The crowd listened in awe as an undergrad student refuted the best arguments from the so-called “New Atheists” like Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins. It was the testimony of Rob Nock, a young, pagan-Christian who once believed in the atheism of  Dawkins and Hawking. After attending the KSU Identity Project, however, Rob was so radically challenged to rethink his atheism, he finally became a Christian. On Christmas break he read Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design, and announced at the retreat, “I can now say with certainty now that I am a Christian,” Rob said.

The event was an IP retreat, and Rob’s testimony was a sample of the many, new Pagan-Christians changed by Jesus Christ. Jon Ha

Nervous teachers (Richie and Becky) practicing their facial expressions and hand movements.

kes explains more in the following report.

After a brief battle to claim the best sleeping space and everyone settled down, love was in the air—but not that cheesy romantic love that singers sing about—but rather the real love authored by Jesus Christ through godly relationships.

Keith and Paul set the stage for “Reaching Pagans”, the theme of the weekend. Keith taught on Pagan Christianity, which means reaching non-Christians (or “pagans”) with the gospel. Paul taught what it means to witness to pagans. Their fast-paced content sent everyone racing to the dinner table to get the energy to finish off the next teachings by The Bedford tag team of B-Bassett and Richie Fresh. Working from John 3, they taught how to witness to intellectuals. Rob [mentioned above] followed with a moving testimony of his conversion from atheism.

They felt like Peter, 'walking on water'

The teachings kicked up weekend of relating like none other. Everywhere people were enjoying spiritual conversations, card games, and some were performing miracles by walking on water like Jesus did at a nearby lake. [Ed. Note: the water was frozen.]

By Sunday, incredible spiritual momentum was in-motion, and nobody was tired. Mike and Rozler led the morning teachings with different types of people we would expect to encounter when witnessing. Seeing Rozler up front and center for an IP teaching was very touching as he began by stating his weaknesses and reliance on the Lord.

The day was just as exciting as the previous night while relationships were growing. Every teaching was given with power and authority, and even the quiet Becky delivered a powerful punch Sunday evening which caught the audience off guard. Along with Kate, they taught the logic of the Four Spiritual Laws, yet still delivered an amazingly-emotional testimony. The strong teachings of Viking and Craig came next on how to witness to pagans, and Keith finished the teachings with a burden around his neck the size of an albatross. It provided us a glimpse of the future for IP peeps.

Are You a ‘Fundy’ or a ‘Pagan’?

Even Audi was inspired!

That night brought everyone even closer than before, and it was obvious the Holy Spirit was blessing us with the ability to deepen our relations. There was a celebration for Kate and Eleni’s birthday and much joy filled the air. I felt a heavy strum on my heart-strings being witness to such a loving body of Christ.

Finally the moment arrived for the activity developed by gaming geniuses. The game was a practical encounter on the difference between a Holy Huddle and Pagan Christianity. People were initially organized by Cell Group into “mini-churches”, and the  average spiritual age for each “church” determined which group was a Holy Huddle of old, Fundy-Christians, or a group filled with young and exciting Pagan Christians. [Ed. Note: Holy Huddles were the losers, Pagan Christians the winners.]

'Pagans' and 'Fundies' mixed together

The goal was to win by transferring older Christians away, and winning young, Pagan Christians from the other groups. As a result, some groups were transformed into Holy Huddles by church-hopping, Fundy Christians! Other groups succeeded by winning young, Pagan Christians who reduced the average spiritual age. But losing all the older, Fundy Christians would make it more difficult to answer Bible questions, which was required to win younger, Pagan Christians. Such difficult choices sometimes embroiled the groups in controversy.

Surprisingly, the game reflected real-world scenarios. For example, the “Holy Huddle” losers mostly complained and rarely tried to answer questions. The winners were full of energy and excitement, answering questions, taking chances (and sometimes cheating), but they doubled in size through “Pagan Christian Growth.” Overall it was a very pleasant experience to grasp a practical example of how fun Pagan Christianity can be.

Monday morning loomed its ugly head as IP-ers dragged their butts out of bed. We shared communion and very sweet testimonies were followed by the warmest prayer session I was ever a part of. After cleaning up the mess we made, and after the tears dried, we returned to Kent ready to build more Pagan Christianity!

Craig Smith and others had an emotional moment Sunday AM

See more:

  • Retreat pictures on Picassa.
  • Did you upload retreat pictures? Give us the link in the comments, below!
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by kbrooks

Get Ready to Get Rocked

December 13, 2008 in Ministries

Watch this video about Uncertainty

[googlevideo]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7339642080224082879[/googlevideo]

“Go and make disciples of all the nations.” So begins the Great Commission. But are we obeying Christ’s call?

The Perspectives class is a great way to enter the Great Commission. It begins at the Hudson Community Chapel on January 12th and meets Mondays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Or take the class on Tuesday evenings, beginning January 13th at Grace Christian Missionary Alliance Church in Middleburg Heights.

All our new ministries are so exciting: the Discovery Groups, the International Student Ministry, Crossroads, and the Western Ohio Enterprise demonstrate how many in our fellowship are pursuing the Great Commission.

But are we taking the gospels to “all the nations” by participating in God’s work around the globe?

[callout]Meet missionaries serving in the Middle East or in cannibal tribes or the slums of India[/callout]

What Will You Discover?

If you want God to rock your world, take Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. The fifteen-week course offers a challenging look at the theology, history, and methods of missions. It’s appropriately titled, as any alumni will agree: the class transforms your view of God, the gospel, the world, and your part in God’s plan.

Meet missionaries serving in the Middle East or in cannibal tribes or the slums of India. What stories they tell, and the pictures and insights! This is a typical night at Perspectives class.  It means developing deep convictions and new understandings you never held before.

“It was really eye-opening to see how much of the world doesn’t have access to the gospel and what missionaries are doing that we have no idea about,” Diana Michalek said. She also loved learning about the many indigenous movements such as the underground church in China. Her favorite memories of the class include a video about how a tribe in Papua New Guinea came to Christ and hearing Don Richardson (author of The Peace Child­) speak.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in our own culture’s version of Christianity, but it isn’t an Americanized belief,” said Jackie Leon. “Learning about missions broadened my understanding of the way the Lord works around the world.” This was important to Jackie because a secular friend told her Christianity was a Western religion, but the Perspectives class helped her understand that, “God doesn’t want every church to be like the Western church.”

Practical Learning

“We’re learning about things we can do here,” Diana said.

Ryan Leon agreed: “It really helped to learn about the history of missions, what worked and didn’t work in different fields.”

Be forewarned: Perspectives will change you. Diana, Jackie, and Ryan have taken new steps to financially support missions work, write to missionaries, teach others about missions, reach out to international students, and learn more through reading. The Gibsons, missionaries to Taiwan, took the course as freshman in college and asked, “If we’re able to go, why not go?” It’s a scary question, but the Gibsons are so glad they asked it.

“I recommend every Christian take Perspectives,” Jackie said.

Check out perspectives.org for more information and to register soon!

Video Describing the Course

[googlevideo]http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7015285992431636337[/googlevideo]

Galatians Begins

October 10, 2008 in Ministries

Galatians is one of the earliest New Testament books, like James, and it’s a sweet picture of how God’s love shocked the 1st Century.

Can you imagine hearing the good news of “total forgiveness” if you lived back then? After a dreary life of a “yoke of slavery” sacrificing to silly Greek gods, Paul comes to town with this amazing message that “it was for freedom that Christ set us free!” (Gal. 5:1)

Now, 2,000 years later, watch new people at CT get surprised by the sweet freedom in Galatians. Christianity is so common and always in the mass media, yet people never hear about this radical grace.  Satan hates this book and fights the message with all his power.

Galatia is near Paul's home town, and not exactly a 'missionary journey' - but it is similar to our 'jump' desires.

Bring some new people to hear about it. If you’re frustrated explaining grace, or someone just can’t believe it, Galatians will straightened it out.

Blueprints in Galatians

But it’s more than a study in radical grace. How’s your fellowship going?

Galatians is great for all our new Bible studies and leaders because it gives a clear picture of what the earliest Christian koinonia (fellowship) looks like without all the institutional machinery. It’s a great way to establish new Christians, new Christian groups, and rediscover “it was for freedom that Christ set us free!”

Wouldn’t you love to describe your fellowship that way?

Study some background:

  • Read about Stephen’s death in Acts 6-7, because God drafted Paul to replace this guy and carry his message forward in Galatians.
  • Read about Paul’s conversion in Acts 9, and the activity at Antioch in Acts 11:19, because Paul describes this in Galatians.
  • Read about Paul’s First Missionary Journey in Acts 13-14, which is in the region of Galatia.
  • Read about the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, which is the when this book was written.
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by lbeech

Conversation and Cuisine: Challenging Initiatives, Contagious Enthusiasm

October 6, 2008 in Ministries

If you build plan, prepare, and host it, they will come … or at least that was the dream of the Hughes Home Church. The desire to have substantial discussions in a friendly, open forum with non-Christian family and friends prompted the plan to host a Conversation and Cuisine.

As this home church transitioned from a college-aged to a post-college, professional ministry, a drop in first time guests became noticeable. Jake Lagotte commented:

We have always been a super-fun and happening church. No one can throw a party like our church. We just weren’t getting the same results as we did earlier. Parties didn’t lend an opportunity for conversations of substance. We realized we needed to change.

Though this undertaking was a first for this home group of young couples and professionals, they met the challenge with spirit-led vision and energized resolve, guided by the previous C & C experience of leader Kathryn Hughes. Pressing onward, they were undeterred by several “bumps-in-the-road.” Amy Lagotte recalled:

We understood that a lot of planning was involved – like the logistics of planning a dinner party. We knew that it would be a lot of work. What was surprising was that, as a group, we weren’t as eager to get out there and actively invite our friends and family. This is wartime – people – get out there and reach the dying.

A week prior to the event no one was coming. Invitations didn’t get to most guests until just days before the C & C. The morale was a bit low for a while. Amy took action, called everyone in the church and set a deadline for the final guest list.

It was amazing. God really honored our meager efforts. One day we had no one coming. A day or two later we had 16 to 20 possible attendees. Things were getting exciting.

So, What is Conversation and Cuisine?

Scrumptious fare, and engaging, thoughtful discussions – this describes the night in a nutshell. The goal of the C & C is to provide a hospitable and an other’s centered environment, where all views are openly welcomed. The views are respectfully heard and then discussed. More questions are asked rather than answers given. The goal is to engage in meaningful conversation and to establish a platform for deepening relationships. Remember people matter.

Discussion moderator Jake added:

The idea is to get people to a place where they are comfortable and can talk about what they believe. Our goal was to get to know where people are spiritually. The measure of a successful C & C is whether opportunities for follow-up develop and if relationships deepen.

Ideally, the entire home group participates in the planning, preparation and execution. A topic and menu are selected and various duties are divvied up among the workers. An equipped moderator is chosen, stylish invitations are delivered “mano-a-mano,” theme-based menu items are prepared and brought to the venue, and appropriate decorations are displayed. Those bringing a guest attend while the rest of the the home group gathers at a different location and simultaneously prays for specific needs. Prayer and group participation are vital to make this a successful outreach event.

What Was The Draw?

Prospective guests were personally invited – recall, friendship and deepening relationships are the goal. The topic was one everyone can relate to – suffering. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” the invitations queried. Further questions posed were, “Is there any meaning to suffering? Or is it just something in life that we must cope with?” Such a universal, troubling problem drew a diverse crowd to the dinner party.

The food was Southern – of course – the perfect fit to comfort those longing for answers – those who were about to delve into the deep hurt of their souls. Amy put together a tantalizing menu to satisfy even the most timid palates. “I wanted people to be at ease with what they were eating. The food was not strange or exotic – people felt safe to dig in. And boy did they ever.” commented Amy.

Appetites were fired up with hot crab dip, followed by an entree of BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, blackened chicken, and gumbo – Cajun style. Sides of southern green beans and mashed turnips rounded out the meal while a “carbo-licious” euphoria was reached by those indulging in the pecan pie and praline topped ice cream. Dry whistles were wetted with sweet tea, lemonade and a variety of fine spirits. This body can pull off an excellent spread. Need more be said?

What Went Down?

The atmosphere was warm and welcoming – Southern hospitality filled the air. Conversations flowed freely during the meal. After dinner, a short clip from a episode of Frontline, covering people’s reactions to the events of 911, was shown.

The clip presented two different reactions: one person lost family in the tragedy and questioned where was God in all of this suffering. The other showed an Episcopalian minister who explained the reactions of his parishioners. Many viewed it from a theological perspective. While some focused on the importance of family and of relationships. Still others became more cynical about life.

This was a difficult topic. It is hard to talk about both the emotional and the philosophical implications of suffering. One guest commented, “You can’t consider such pain and discuss this issue without God coming into the mix.”

The group really owned the conversation. Different views were heard and considered. People were willing to listen to others opinions. Some had strong opinions. The objective of the conversation was not to “get stuck in the detail.”

People need to know that they are being heard. When they are heard, they are more open to hear what someone else has to say. So many people think that Christians are just people who judge them, and then tell them what they should do. This format clearly stands against that misconception.

The personal stories of suffering really added to the intimacy of the evening. Dar McCallum and Melanie Avdeyev shared profound examples of suffering. This really brought the issue to an emotional and personal level. People seemed genuinely affected and interacted best during this type of sharing.

The conversation went on for an hour. “People should be engaged without being burned out.” Jake reflected. “The discussion should leave everyone wanting more.” Apparently, they did as small groups broke out and the conversations continued. Guests stayed late, further testifying to the success of the night.

Don’t Forget The Prayer Warriors

Meanwhile at a different location in the Falls, some strategic prayer was going down. The reminder of the body that was not at the Avdeyev’s home migrated to the Beech House. They had a job to do.

Their hearts were heavy with a burden for their fellow comrades-in-arms and the last minute glitches that appeared suddenly, but not so unexpectedly. This was after all a forward attack in the spiritual realm.

Kathyrn, with cell phone in hand, received updates of the pre-event needs and the current status of the guests. The number of guests kept fluctuating. Some guests were detained by childcare issues. Others by work and errands. Would there be enough food? Sufficient seating? Who would actually attend? Oh, the uncertainity of it all!

Not to mention that the topic was edgy. How would people respond and would they be receptive? So many unknowns – so much at stake. God had a lot of work to do through His willing servants. Hearts and mind unified with a common goal, prayer continued for over an hour.

Will They Do This Again?

In a word, “Absolutely!” The success of this event is measured by the opportunity for future, substantial conversations. Several attendees plan on checking out a Central Teaching. Others have already arranged to meet in more personal venues – like catching dinner together later this month.

Angie Bertka’s sister perceived the aroma of Christ. She noted, “I didn’t notice any meanness in any person present. Such a wonderful group of people. I have never met such a group as this. The discussion was just amazing.”

“Next time we host a C & C we will know better what to expect.” said Melanie who, aided by fellow workers Kathryn and Nicole Wondercheck, was instrumental in pounding out last minute details.

“Next time we host an event like this, we need to have a better set-up schedule, and to get our invitations out sooner. Having everyone involved is what makes this such a worthwhile and unifying time.”

Amy added, “We usually can throw a party together in a day – I think everyone thought that this dinner party would just happen because we wanted it too. We learned a lot about rallying the troops.”

So, with one Conversation and Cuisine under their belts, this church is fired up and excited to see God working among them in such a powerful way. Where they were once reluctant, or at least a bit uncertain, they now are eager to step forward and host more of these events. When God moves, the energy is exciting and contagious. There is even talk among the workers to host another one in August.

Why Not a Discovery Group?

September 25, 2008 in Ministries

Fresh.  Exciting.  Right.

These are the words that express how we felt about starting a Discovery Group (DG) last fall.  The guided discussions in an accepting and listening atmosphere were thought-provoking for people who came. Read the rest of this entry →

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by lbeech

Hughes Church Finds Its Groove

September 25, 2008 in Ministries

A wise man once wrote that there is a season for every activity under heaven. He wrote that there is a time to be born … to heal, to tear down, to build, to mourn, to dance, to scatter, to gather … a time for war and a time for peace. The Hughes home church understands what that man was saying. Now is not the time for peace. Now is the season to go to war – to take it to the streets.

This summer brought many challenges and opportunities for growth. For one, the leaders Joel, Kat, and Dar, have temporarily joined the new Crossroads Bible Study at Kent State University. They are part of an college ministry initiative whose goal to break through the spiritual darkness that holds KSU in its cold grip.

Called to “active duty” in a new mission field, the tried and true leadership team decided to go and to offer their talents and leadership experience to this budding ministry. It was time for them to go – to uproot from their established ministry. It was time to ask for volunteers to manage the household while they were away. It was time that the Hughes Home Church put away childish things and clothed itself with mature love.

One Hughite commented following the workers’ meeting where this plan was announced, “We knew that they were going. We were very supportive and excited about Dar and Joel going to the field. Soon Kathryn will join them. That new ministry is growing rapidly. Change is so unsettling. That is a good thing. God is certainly a God of movement.”

During that workers’ meeting, Joel called for a  team of volunteers – a team that would willingly take on the responsibility and “the heat” of leading the Home Church while “the deacons take their eye off the ball.” Joel didn’t want anyone to feel conscripted. An awkward silence filled the normally chatty room. Slowly people stepped forward and offered to pinch hit for them. The Lagotte’s, Avdeyev’s, and the Beech’s make up this fledgling team. Now is the time to build.

Since August 18th , the “Lagotteechdeyev Rock – n – Roll Machine” has been in motion, starting with new series from the book of Luke. The goal is to more fully know and understand the person and ministry of Jesus. It was time to embrace Christ to get behind Him.

How can we tell others about just how awesome Jesus Christ is if we don’t have an intimate relationship with Him? We need to get to know Him better. We need to be excited about what He has accomplished. Luke should jump start this growth.” one volunteer reflected.

The old “talking head” teaching format is out the door. After receiving feedback from Joel on the multi-site conference in Chicago, the “acting” leaders agreed with him that home church teachings need to change. In Ephesus, Paul had daily discussions with his disciples, not daily sermons. Discussions call for group participation. That now is the goal for each home church meeting. Each member of the body is to contribute to the meeting by using the gifts that the Spirit has given to him or her. Now is the time to grow.

From 1Corinthians 14:26

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

This discussion format has been used twice. Already the meetings are more energized and dynamic. When everyone partakes and offers up their individual gifting, it is amazing how the power of the Holy Spirit is unleashed. The last two meetings demonstrate potential to become electric. It was time to tear down the show.

Getting people to meetings has been difficult. Outreach events and parties were nearly void of new people or even returning new. The body has been rather discouraged. For a while it seemed as if they had settled in and were content with their comfortable evenings of fellowship. It felt safe. It was pleasant. It was becoming a bore. This is time to mourn and to change.

After teaching Luke 2, Lisa commented,“I think that we became comfortable with how our meeting went. We all have very busy lives. It is so easy to say ‘yes’ to what the world has to offer and to believe that no one is interested in spiritual matters. Such lies. We now see that our love had grown cold. We knew we had to repent and get on board where God was moving. We need to go where the people are.”

A fresh fighting spirit has been building. There is a growing urgency to reach out to the lost – to scatter away from base. The Hughes Home Church has a new resolve to go out into the community and to connect with others. Each members is accountable for how the meeting goes down. Conversations are not only fun, but they are growing in purpose and in edification.

This church is full of ideas – some old, some new. The C & C’s have continued and personal follow-up is improving. This church hopes to turn the C & C’s into a bi-weekly Discovery Group. This of course will take some time and relationship building. Along those lines, the guys are talking about going out into the community and invading man territory with their “Man Clan Plan.”

Jake explained, “We need to get men away from their women. Something happens when guys hang out with their wives or girlfriends. It is as if they get stupid. Men don’t want to talk to just one guy – not really – they find that creepy. Men want to be part of a gang – something that is manly. That is our idea – to pull men into our gang – Our Man Clan.”

Amy has been busy looking for ways to connect with some of the women in the Falls. She and Andie were recently invited to be a part of a book club. “I am asking God for opportunities to meet people and then I get invited to this book club. How amazing is that? God basically says to me, okay go read some books with these women. Get to know them. Go love them. Who am I to argue?”

Mel and Alex have been taking it to the streets as they get to know their neighbors. They have extended invitations to several neighbors and some may attend our next home church meeting. “People are beginning to take notice of the activity at our place. They are curious about what is going down.”

Many are getting involved with their neighbors. The Schoofs’ have taken up rock climbing – a hobby of their neighbors. Others are meeting more people through clubs, classes and new jobs.

Lisa has started a small business – walking door to door trying to find a way to meet new neighbors. “I know this sounds ridiculous. I am selling AVON. I have met several women already. It is amazing how easy it is to get women talking when it comes to beauty products. I guess they are already looking for something to make them feel better about themselves. I hope to make a connection with them.”

Not only is this church building an outward focus, but it is also committed to spurring one another to love and good deeds. October is retreat month. The guys and gals both have retreats planned. The goal is to work on our personal relationships and walks with the Lord. This is the first retreat in years – so everyone is very excited and eager to get down to work.

It should be a lot of fun too. Steve’s mom has graciously offered her place in Pennsylvania for our home church to use as a retreat place. It is a rustic setting and has a nearby recreational lake. Steve commented on the accommodations, “Things will be a little crowded – but we can fish there and hangout by the campfire. It will be very relaxing.”

Summer has gone and fall is here. Summer was a season of pending transitions – now fall is a season of resolute activity and purpose. This Rock – n – Roll Machine has got its groove on and it’s taking it to the streets. This church is not content. It is not resigned to just “doing” church. This is a group of brothers and sisters who are committed to fighting the good fight – the fight against the powers that be.

We are taking advice from a sister… A TWISTED SISTER…

 

 

 

Oh We’re Not Gonna Take It
no, We Ain’t Gonna Take It
oh We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore

we’ve Got The Right To Choose And
there Ain’t No Way We’ll Lose It
this Is Our Life, This Is Our Song
we’ll Fight The Powers That Be Just
don’t Pick Our Destiny ’cause
you Don’t Know Us, You Don’t Belong

 

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by kbrooks

New Word Delivers!

September 23, 2008 in Ministries

Everyone knew it was coming, but no one knew what to expect. Everyone held their breath: what would Word, the high school Bible study, be like without its posse of eight male high school graduates – saddled with all-new leadership? Many of those who left Word had developed a serious workforce of teachers, workers, cell group leaders, and they carried away a unique and exciting ethos…

fear factor night

Along with the college guys’ departure came another huge change. As Keith and Greg left their Word leadership post for other endeavors, seasoned Word leaders Joe Allie and Diana Michalek were joined by Mark Michalek and Neil and Kalie Brooks, all rookies to Word. On July 10, 2008 the home church was turned upside down when the freshman first attended, the college guys didn’t, and the new leadership team stepped in. The unspoken question simmered in everyone’s mind: “Would Word survive?”

Two months later the verdict is in and all signs show Word is not only surviving, but thriving. The meeting has maintained its average attendance, close to 21 people per meeting, and its outreach rate is a solid 11%. But these numbers include slow summer months. From August to September the group saw an explosive 50% growth in attendance!

The stats aren’t the only indication of success. Joe says “The leadership team change has been really cool. I am impressed by Neil in particular, who can be crazy and fun with the guys, but at the same time, makes sure to get to know them.” Neil, who performed cannonballs at the pool party while wearing a child’s lifejacket and ducky inner tube, says Word is “exciting and life-infusing to its workers.” Mark agrees that “this is the most fun I’ve had doing ministry in a long time.” And Diana is pleased to see her disciples Adi and Becky “really coming into their own as the new senior workforce in Word.”

But “this isn’t the same Word as last year,” Joe warned. Adi and Becky agree that “it feels more like Chill,” the misnomer for the high-energy junior high home church. The Bible study now warms up with ice-breakers involving blind-folds, Cranium clues, and animal sounds, settles down for a teaching, and then storms the Morschers’ pool or high school sports fields. After-CT activities include karaoke, Fear Factor and the infamous Scavenger Hunt. Just imagine Evan Beech licking uncooked hot dog slices out of Jordan Yoerger’s toes for a taste of the new Word’s fun.

 

[callout]The group is likely to outgrow the Morscher’s basement soon…[/callout]But the changes aren’t contained to energy levels or activities. “Filling the gap left by the graduates has been the biggest challenge,” Joe admitted. “Gone are the days when the younger guys could just show up and enjoy a spiritual time. Now it’s up to them!” But B and Jordan in particular are delivering. “From when I first met B until now, God has done an amazing work with him,” Neil reflected. Meanwhile Asta’s friends threaten to overrun the meeting with girls.

The group is also invading secular space at the high school football games, where they strategically invite friends to hang out afterward. Evangelism is booming as kids catch a vision for reaching the lost. And with stellar activities, relevant teachings, and a committed adult workforce (also includes Carrie Hemphill, Amy Lagotte, Ryan Leon, Nicole Wondercheck, Michelle Tidwell, and Kate McCallum), the group is likely to outgrow the Morscher’s basement soon.

“I didn’t realize until recently how many non-Christian friends I have!” Chloe said.

Get ready: the new Word has arrived!

A Strange (but fun) Place!

September 13, 2008 in Ministries

Look for yourself — can you explain what they could possibly be doing?

Confused? Give up?

Here’s a hint: she doesn’t normally look this way!

View Neil Brook’s photo album about the Word High School ministry:

"Fear Factor 2008"