Archive for the 'church planting' Category

16
Sep
16

I Ran Out Of Gas On A Date…yeah right!

low-on-fuelWhen my wife and I first started dating, we were in fact on our third date, we were on our way home from the movie. All of a sudden, my 1975 Volkswagen Scirocco began to sputter. I pulled over and said, “I think I’m out of gas.” Now, many a guy over the years has tried this cliche excuse with a girl. But in this case, it was no excuse. It was true…and a little embarrassing, especially on just a third date. Since this was pre-cellphone days, we had to walk about a mile to a Dunkin Donuts and call her dad. Really embarrassing! Then we walked back to the car and by the time we got there he was there putting gas in.

I am notorious for running my cars until they are almost totally empty…and yes, I have run out of gas on multiple occasions. It frustrates my wife to no end, but she should have realized this after that third date! 🙂

The reasons I have run my vehicles on empty are various…and sometimes legitimate. Like it being the day before payday and we had no money left in the account. Or I might have been on the highway and there was an unexpectedly long stretch before coming to a gas station. But mostly, honestly, it comes from just not paying attention…or just forgetting to check the gauge.

Recently, a pastor whom I know stepped down from a vibrant, large, growing church. A seemingly successful, fruitful ministry. However, in his own words he said he was “not okay” and “I’m tired. And I’m broken and I just need some rest. ” He didn’t take a leave of absence, even though that is what his elders begged him to do. This pastor totally resigned. He said that for some time he had been “leading on empty” and “leaders who lead on empty don’t lead well.

Knowing and respecting this pastor, I was heartbroken. I could see the weariness in his eyes and hear it in his voice. It really struck me. I do not want to get to that point myself. And I fear that, while I’m not there, I can feel myself getting close.

The car I drive now has a computer that says exactly how many miles you have left to

3-miles-to-e

yes these are actual pictures of my car…but this was payday, so it was about to be filled!

empty. So I know how much I can push it. The problem with us as human beings…and especially pastors…is we don’t have such a computer. I don’t know exactly how far I can push it. And many times that computer can be inaccurate…just like my mind can be. And any mechanic will tell you that if you run on empty all the time, you are in danger of burning up your fuel pump. I’ve done that!

In Exodus 18, we read an account of where Moses was in danger of “running out of gas” as he was leading Israel in the wilderness. His father-in-law saw what was happening and called him out…and gave him loving advice.

13 The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. 14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God; 16 when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.”17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.18 You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. 19 Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, 20 and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. 21 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. 22 And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23 If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”

 I am thankful for a group of elders and a church that have done much the same for me as a pastor. Their wisdom and counsel is to be heeded. It’s time.

After 30 years of ministry, it’s time. Nineteen years of youth ministry and 11 years as a church planter and pastor can certainly run your tank down pretty low. Not taking days off during the week and not taking full vacation time in recent years can do that too. It is challenging to lead in ministry, beyond what a lot of people can understand. I didn’t fully understand when I was a youth pastor the amount of energy, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, it takes to be in this position of shepherd. As this pastor who just resigned said, “You all see what I do on Sundays, but there is a lot of leadership energy that takes place the rest of the time.” Oh yes, I have taken time over the years to refuel…conferences, listening to other teachers/pastors, reading, studying, vacations, etc…and there have been times when God has graciously brought my tank close to full. There have been other times that by His grace he has somehow enabled me to keep moving forward on a little bit of fuel. Miraculously allowing me to go farther than I expected. This is all HIM!

However, it is time. Not time to quit…although if I’m honest I have wanted to several times over these last 30 years. No, it’s time for me to take the upcoming exit off the freeway and pause at the next station to refuel…maybe get a snack and something to drink. It’s time for a SABBATICAL. It is an intentional Sabbath season. It is biblical and necessary for those in ministry (and other professions as well).  Our elders have graciously given me this opportunity. In fact, we have been planning it for some time, but the last year or so, circumstances have meant it to be delayed because of several factors including moving into our new church facilities. This is the first time in my 30 years of ministry that I have been afforded such an opportunity and I consider myself blessed.

I am still tempted to to continue on, pushing the limits, thinking that I have a little fuel in the tank and times of spiritual refreshing are going to come. But it’s time…to withdraw for a season. When Jesus heard that his cousin, friend, predecessor, and best man had been killed by Herod, He was heartbroken…in His full humanity, he knew it was time to withdraw.  Matthew 14:13 says

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself.

Even Jesus needed to breakaway. There are many reasons for a pastor to take a sabbatical. Some are documented herealso here…and here is a good post about it from Dr. Thom Rainer.

I need to pay attention to the gauge. My wife and I used to tell our kids that we loved them so much that we were going out without them! We knew we needed time together just us. I want my church flock @ The Ridge to know that I am fine. I am not going anywhere. I LOVE them! Very much! So much so, I am going to pull over for a month starting September 19th and refuel. I’ll be resting, praying, reading, recharging, learning by going to a couple of conferences, taking some time away with my wife and also with my family and mostly unplugging.

I’m thankful for our elders who are all but requiring that I do so. I will say this also to all pastors and church members out there: your pastor’s wife and family need a sabbatical as much as he does. I can see this in my own family. As much as I love my church family, I love my own family more. They are my first ministry and they too need a sabbatical to an extent. So, it’s time. Look there’s a rest stop up ahead! I don’t want to lead on empty.

Thank you for your prayers and support and thank you for allowing me to have this opportunity to sabbatical. Thank you Lord for your grace…which is sufficient! I’ll see y’all in October!

 

14
Nov
12

What to do when you don’t know what to do…

So…it’s been several months since I posted any blogs. the last 6 months have been pretty crazy in a lot of ways and blogging kinda took a back seat. Well, I’m once again trying to return to somewhat regular blogging. So for the few of you that read this…here we go.

Have you ever found yourself in a place in life where you just didn’t know what to do? Whether it is in ministry or family or career or school or relationships or even politics. We all can find ourselves at a place where we are at a loss as to what to do. Many of us are right now at a loss of what to do with our nation, the economy, the political landscape. Others are at a loss of what to do in their personal life, their marriage, their job (or lack of one). So, what do we do?

In recent weeks and months, I found myself in that place. I’ll admit that much of this journey of planting a church these last 7 years I have been at a loss of what to do. Most of the time, actually. However, I think that is a good place to be because it makes me realize my utter dependence on God. I should be leaning on Him, but while I know that, I still “lean on my own understanding” many times. When I get to a place where I can’t come up with what to do on my own…and even after asking God…what do I do then? Finding oneself in this place can lead to dispair, depression, slavery to fear, even falling into sin. We’ll turn to that secret sin or pleasure, we can get bitter, anxious. We might even turn to our favorite ice cream to help! So what do we do?

When I found myself in this place recently, God showed me something from His word that I had never really seen before in an Old Testament story. I was prompted to turn there when I saw a verse posted on facebook by my good friend Aidan McKenzie. The verse was 2 Chronicles 20:12b…

“We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Wow! That is what I needed to hear. So, I backed up and read the context of the story of King Jehoshaphat…which is what one should always do in studying the Bible. (“Context is king”, as Kay Arthur always says.) STOP NOW and read it for yourself HERE before going on. No really, you need to take the time to read 2 Chronicles 18-20…its a good story and the message is strong.

Did you read it? If not, the rest of this post won’t mean much. READ IT before going on. You did it? Good!

Jehoshaphat was King of Judah at the time that Israel was a divided kingdom. He had made an unwise alliance with King Ahab of Israel and went to war alongside him…this almost cost him his life too. God was not pleased because of the wickedness of King Ahab. Yet God knew Jehoshaphat’s heart was to seek Him. After this, Jehoshaphat brought reforms to Judah and brought the nation back to God. Then, enemies from within turned against Jehoshaphat. In Chapter 20 we see where the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites, who had been allowed to live in peace among the children of Israel when they conqured the Promised Land, came against Jehoshaphat in battle (20:1). When Jehoshaphat was told, he did not know what to do. He was about to be overcome by a great horde. What did he do?

What we read in 2 Chronicles 20:1-30 gives us the answer and also gives us a prescription on what to do when we don’t know what to do. If you haven’t read it, go there now and read it. (You get the idea I want you to read this?) What did Jehoshaphat do when he didn’t know what to do? (all scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version)

  • v. 3 – Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.
    When we don’t know what to do we are afraid…but when we are afraid we should determine to seek the Lord…with intensity. The proclaiming of a fast was to seek God with greater intensity. Fast and pray.
  • v. 5-6 – And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.
    Cry out to God…Pray. Jehoshaphat cried out to God in front of the whole assembly. We should not be afraid to cry out to God with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Have them cry out on your behalf.
  • v. 12 – “O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
    We need to admit our poverty and in humility understand our powerlessness and utter dependence upon God. Then turn to and KEEP our eyes on the LORD alone. He alone is worthy and He alone is able to win the victory. We can’t, but He can! Sounds trite and cliche-ish but it’s true. Jehoshaphat realized this. His own wisdom had gotten him in a mess and nearly killed him. That leads to the next step…
  • v. 15-17 And he said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. Behold, they will come up by the ascent of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the valley, east of the wilderness of Jeruel. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”
    Recognize whose battle it is...and quit trying to fight it ourself! Interestingly, v. 17 is the middle verse of the Old Testament. It’s no coincidence that this verse somewhat sums up what God had to continually remind the children of Israel…”see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf..the Lord will be with you.”
  • v. 18-19 18 Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. 19 And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.
    WORSHIP! Sing praise to God…even in the midst of your circumstance! For HE IS WORTHY! Jehoshaphat worshiped in humility. When you don’t know what to do…DON’T PULL AWAY FRRM THE CHURCH! I see this all too often. Don’t stop gathering with the Body of Christ for WORSHIP. Jehoshaphat worshiped before the battle…while surrounded by enemies.
  • v. 20 – And they rose early in the morning and went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And when they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” (emphasis added)
    Be OBEDIENT. They stepped out IN FAITH. Continue to walk in obedience. Whatever you KNOW God commands…continue to do. Whatever the last thing He told you to do…continue to do, even while you wait on Him. Step out in obedience. Oh…and by the way…STOP the things you know are in DISOBEDIENCE. Notice that they didn’t come up with a plan, Jehoshaphat simply told the people to do what God had instructed. “They went out“. God calls you and I to obedience…because He loves us and we love Him. When your finances are in trouble, don’t stop tithing. That’s “robbing God” (Malachi 3:8). When your marriage is struggling…don’t give up and break the covenant you made before God and pursue another relationship or lifestyle. When you have sinned against your spouse…don’t continue in it. STOP and repent and return to walking with God in obedience.  When you don’t know what to do…step out in faith…each day. DO the things you already KNOW to do…and DON’T do the things you know you are not to do.
  • v. 21 – And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise himin holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
    Give THANKS in advance. The people thanked God ahead of the battle. Thank Him before you know the outcome. A heart of gratitude will keep everything in perspective. The Bible reiterates this over and over. (see James 1:2-3)
  • v. 22 – And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
    Sing and praise God for the victory. WHEN they began to sing and praise the Lord…HE ACTED! When they stepped out in faith and obedience…THEN God acted.
  • v. 29-30 – And the fear of God came on all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around.
    God’s glory was evident to ALL! His glory will be manifested (made vividly clear) in your life and church to everyone around…even enemies. In the previous verses (23-28) we also see the provision and blessing that God gives Jehoshaphat and the people as a result of HIS victory and their FAITH. More evidence of the glory of God.

So what do we do when we don’t know what to do? I don’t know what enemies you are facing right now…what “horde” is surrounding and advancing upon you, but your eyes need to be on the Lord. That is our only hope. Our eyes don’t need to be on government, elections, people, economics, leaders, pastors or anything else in this world. We should simply fololw this pattern Jehoshaphat did:

  • seek God intensly
  • pray…cry out to God
  • in humility turn our eyes to the Lord
  • trust Him to fight the battle
  • worship and praise Him
  • step out in faith and walk in obedience…daily
  • give thanks in advance
  • watch God work!
  • repeat continually… 🙂
17
Feb
11

SquareOne begins March 6th at The Ridge

 If you are NEW to The Ridge in the last year, I want to invite you to join us for a special, short-term small group experience beginning Sunday evening, March 6th at 5:30pm.

We are calling this, SquareOne. It is a beginning point…it is the basis…it is the place to GO forward from.

This small group will be hosted by my wife and I at our house.

Even if you have been here for longer than 12 months, but just want to get to know us and more about the church, you can come too!

 We’ll meet each Sunday evening during the month of March. That’s just 4 weeks, so this isn’t gonna be a long term deal. What’s the purpose of this group?

  • To get to know the Pastor and his family and for us to get to know you.
  • To find out more about The Ridge and God’s vision for us as His Church here.
  • To learn together the purpose of the church and why we exist.
  • To study what God’s word says about us and his church.
  • To make connections with other people in the church and begin to build relationships.

 This will be a great start to a small group environment for those who have yet to make a connection.  Because this will only be a short term, 4 week small group,  if you are already in another group, you can still come to this one and go back to your current group…or even do both if the schedule fits. It’s gonna be a great time! I hope that you will join us!

I am really excited about getting to know some of you better and sharing the vision for The Ridge and our heart for you and the community. I believe that God has brought each person to this church for a specific purpose. I pray that you will find a connection here. That’s why we think this group is so important.

Even if you aren’t sure about coming for the full four weeks, just come to the first one and check it out.

You can sign up right now, online HERE. Or you can sign up Sunday on the back of your Communication Card and place in the Offering Buckets or drop off at Guest Central or Connection Point. If you have questions about this group and whether it’s right for you, talk to me Sunday or email me at stevew@churchattheridge.com.

13
Jan
11

Are we as leaders really hearing from God?

I was reading in my quiet time this week from Jeremiah 23. It is a very sobering passage for pastors and leaders in the church. I heard Richard Blackaby speak on this passage about a year ago at a Pastor Leadership event. God really spoke hard to me. The message of this prophet was relevant to Israel when he spoke it and, sadly and frighteningly, it is relevant for us today. Jeremiah begins this passage with this statement:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the LORD. 2Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them.  Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:1-2 ESV)

If you read that, you see how serious God is about those of us who claim to lead His people. The standard is incredibly high. The consequences are eternal. How many times are we, as leaders really hearing from God? Are we drawing His people TO God and His Word or are we in actuality, maybe uniwittingly, scattering them from Him? It is sobering. It is challenging. If you read the entire chapter, it will cause you to question some things in your heart…it has me. It’s easy to point to the TV evangelists and the “prosperity gospel” hawkers out there or the super mega church guys who seem to be getting rich off the church and others and say, “Yeah, that’s about them.” But is it only? Is it about us…the average pastor or Bible study leader in the average church, the church planter who is just getting started, the missionary, the para-church  leader, the pastor of the highly successful church that is new and growing rapidly…too?

Read this section of Jeremiah 23 starting with verse 16. I’ve quoted it in the New Living Translation because it reads pretty clear. Then ask yourself, “Am I hearing from God? Do I as a church planter have a vision from Him? Am I just taking words from others and saying they are form God? Am I just trying to gather a crowd and tell them that everything is gonna be ok, because God loves you no matter what?”  We need to hear from God. Then we need to faithfully teach and proclaim it.

 16 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says to his people:

   “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you,
      filling you with futile hopes.
   They are making up everything they say.
      They do not speak for the Lord!
 17 They keep saying to those who despise my word,
      ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’
   And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires,
      they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’

 18 “Have any of these prophets been in the Lord’s presence
      to hear what he is really saying?
      Has even one of them cared enough to listen?
 19 Look! The Lord’s anger bursts out like a storm,
      a whirlwind that swirls down on the heads of the wicked.
 20 The anger of the Lord will not diminish
      until it has finished all he has planned.
   In the days to come
      you will understand all this very clearly.

 21 “I have not sent these prophets,
      yet they run around claiming to speak for me.
   I have given them no message,
      yet they go on prophesying.
 22 If they had stood before me and listened to me,
      they would have spoken my words,
   and they would have turned my people
      from their evil ways and deeds.
 23 Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the Lord.
      “No, I am far away at the same time.
 24 Can anyone hide from me in a secret place?
      Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?”
      says the Lord.

 25 “I have heard these prophets say, ‘Listen to the dream I had from God last night.’ And then they proceed to tell lies in my name. 26 How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. 27 By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal.

 28 “Let these false prophets tell their dreams,
      but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word.
      There is a difference between straw and grain!
 29 Does not my word burn like fire?”
      says the Lord.
   “Is it not like a mighty hammer
      that smashes a rock to pieces?

 30 “Therefore,” says the Lord, “I am against these prophets who steal messages from each other and claim they are from me. 31 I am against these smooth-tongued prophets who say, ‘This prophecy is from the Lord!’ 32 I am against these false prophets. Their imaginary dreams are flagrant lies that lead my people into sin. I did not send or appoint them, and they have no message at all for my people. I, the Lord have spoken!

11
Jan
11

Communication…a little funny for all those who are snowed in

Todd Rhoades at Monday Morning Insight blog had this to say about communication in the church…and a pretty funny video to illustrate:

In many churches, communication sucks.

Many times, we thing we’re communicating very well as leaders, but the truth is, most people don’t get what we’re saying.  So… we go about our day and week and then are shocked when people aren’t on board with our plans, our direction, and our future.

It seems that we’re all speaking a different language sometimes.

It’s almost like the encounter Bill Cosby had with this lady:

…very few of us are as good at communicating as we think we are.Actually, the problem is probably two-fold.  We don’t communicate as well as we think we do; and we’re not as good of listeners as we need to be.

Perhaps you’ve also played the role of the woman in the video.  You find yourself in a situation where you just don’t have a clue (even though you should).

The lesson here for the church leader… communicate early and communicate often.  Ask questions to make sure people are following you… don’t just take it for granted.

Assume nothing.

HT:  Teamwork and Leadership Bloggings with Mike Rogers

What are some things that you do to improve communications?  What’s the biggest miscommunication/misunderstanding you’ve had in your leadership recently?

Feel free to share.

Todd

So how is your communication at home, school, work, church? What are you using to communicate with the people in your life. I thought about this recently, just because I use certain ways of communicating, doesn’t mean others use the same ones (i.e. facebook, email, text). That’s why I try to use multiple methods to communicate…but I’m still not the  best at it. I need to do better. What do you do?

05
Jan
11

a voice from the past, relevant for today’s church leaders…

E.M Bounds was a lawyer, pastor, prisoner of war, Civil War Chaplain, preacher, and writer. He has been called an American prophet on prayer. His books have been called the greatest collection of writings on prayer. He said and wrote many things about prayer and the church, but I recently read this quote that I believe could have been written yesterday, but it was written over a hundred years ago. Amazing how little has changed. Church leaders, church planters, church members read it slowly and let it sink in…

“We are continually striving to create new methods, plans and organizations to advance the church. We are ever working to provide and stimulate growth and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendancy to lose sight of the man. Or else he is lost in the workings of the plan or organization. God’s plan to is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men…What the church needs today is not more or better machinery, not new organizations or more novel methods. She needs men whom the Holy Spirit can use – men of prayer, men mighty in payer. The Holy Spirit does not flow theough methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer!”

This brings to my mind this verse from 2 Chronicles 16:9…

For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

What would happen in our church if this was true of us? What would happen in our community…nation…the world?! Are we asking God to anoint our PLANS and ORGANIZATIONS or are we asking Him to anoint US and His Bride? If you are planting a church, how will you pray?

31
Dec
10

2010 in review

2010 has been an interesting year. We have seen God do some exciting things as well as allow some challenges to come before us. There have been opportunities for which we sought God’s wisdom and some yes and no answers from Him. All in all, 2010 has been a good year, because it is another year of serving God and being a part of His mission.

It is amazing how fast these years have gone by since God called us to start The Church @ The Ridge. I can’t believe that it has been 5 years since that first core group meeting in my house. God has used many of you in many ways over these years and it has been a blessing to have you partnering with us in the vision to reach this community and the nations with the Gospel.

I  feel that in many ways 2010 has been a “But God…” year. My good friend Aidan McKenzie taught me many years ago that any time you see the words “But God…” in Scripture, it means that God is about to step in…things are about to change…He’s about to do something only He can do. That is an exciting place to be. However, to get there usually involves us having to go through some tough times. Well, in many ways this past year has been challenging…as it has been for many churches in our nation…especially on a financial level. While it has been tough, God has remained faithful and has kept us afloat by His grace. Sometimes it has felt like just our nose was above water, “But God…” has always come through. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 has been a verse I have kept in the front of my mind this year: 

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

  I must always remember that it is HE who called us and HE is faithful and HE will build HIS church and the gates of Hell (or recession, or anything else) will not prevail against it!  (Matthew 16:18) Thankfully, I don’t have to do it!   

This year God has refocused our attention on revival, and spiritual awakening. I felt the Him leading us to study Experiencing God together in the spring. All of our small groups went through this great study and it had a huge impact on the church. God has begun to reveal Himself in many ways to people and inviting them to join Him in His work in their lives. Exciting to see!

The summer included our annual IMPACT Week, which is a sports camp for kids in the community. This year we had nearly 90 kids involved!

This summer also gave us two community outreach opportunities:

  • Our outreach at the county fireworks show. We handed out hundreds of bottles of water & glo-sticks to hundreds of families.
  • We also participated with over 70 churches in our county for the third year in the Community Makeover. We took the last weekend in July and did ministry projects all over the area. It was awesome to participate with thousands of fellow believers in sharing the love of Christ with our own community in practical ways.

In the previous three summers we have always done a Family Camp. However, this year our school system changed the school calendar in the spring which made us have to cancel our camp. However, God gave us an opportunity to do a Family Conference event instead. We hosted 25 families at the school we rent for a week of worship, fun, teaching for the entire family. Stephen Kendrick, co-writer and producer of the movies Fireproof and Facing The Giants, joined us along with his family and challenged us from God’s word. It was a great week!

This fall we held a Fall Festival in the parking lot of Kroger. It was part of our Pumpkin Patch (see sidebar next page) and over 1000 people came through. We were able to follow up with each one through email, letter, and phone calls. Great outreach & a great community builder for the church too!     

The LORD does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. – Psalm 135:6

In April, a local bank contacted us and asked if we would be interested in a piece of land they had which had been foreclosed on. While it wasn’t in the exact location we would have chosen, it wasn’t bad. We decided to pray and seek God for wisdom. We prayed about it and did some due diligence on the land through the summer seeking some expert help and  felt the green light to proceed to the next step. After getting a price from
the bank, which was a very good price, we made a formal proposal at their asking price. The
bank then went silent on us for about five weeks. Then they came back and said they couldn’t
sell it to us for that price (which was their price). Our prayer had been that if it would please the Lord to give us some land, we’d like to have a permanent home. This seemed to be  something that came from Him, but in the end, He closed that door. We learned a lot in the process, though. I would as that you pray with us about this. That God would give us a piece of property…if it would please Him!

 This summer a couple in our church was led by God to talk to me and our staff about doing a Pumpkin Patch to raise money for missions in Africa. We had never done this before and weren’t sure how it would go. But… After praying about it, we felt like it was a low risk opportunity to raise a little money for missions.  We had no idea what God was gonna do. One challenge was to get volunteers to staff a Pumpkin Patch for all of October. Well, our people really stepped up and volunteered. It actually became the place to hang out! Sales started off good and before we knew it, we were ordering another shipment! Clean water is the greatest need in Burkina (and all over Africa). Thousands of kids die every day from water borne diseases. All the proceeds from the Patch were to go to dig wells in Burkina Faso. But would it really make much of a difference?

 To our surprise, we sold over $12,000 worth of pumpkins! That gave us a net profit of over $4500! This is enough to drill a well that will provide clean water for over 2000 for 10 years! This well will be dug & a church built next to it, enabling the pastors there to share Living Water with those who are thirsty too. Did pumpkins save lives? You be the judge. Praise God for the vision He gave to one couple and their obedience to listen to Him!

What does 2011 hold? I don’t know…”But God…”      

REMEMBER…
Your year-end, tax deductable gift to God’s vision and work at The Church @ The Ridge would be greatly needed and appreciated. As you consider where you want to invest at the end of this year, please pray and seek God as to His will and consider supporting God’s work here. You can give online HERE. If you do so by midnight December 31, 2010, your contribusion can be deducted on your 2010 taxes.




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