Life Together 11.8.18

About once a month, the Highlights will include updates with what’s going on in the Life of our congregation.  This month will include all known events since our last post.  If you have a celebration or condolence you’d like to share, contact Karen.

 
Believer Baptisms
– Gabe Johnson was baptized on Sept 23.  His parents are Karl and Rema Johnson.
– Brianna Hudson was baptized on Oct 14.  Her parents are Tom and Janna Hudson.
– Lizzie Mar was also baptized on Oct 14. Her parents are Ed and Genevieve Mar.
– Emily Lupu-Vieru was baptized on Oct 28. Her parents are Olinka and Adrian Lupu-Vieru.
 
Baby Dedications
– Susan and Tage Klint will dedicate their youngest son Ryder on Sunday, Nov 18.
 
Deaths
– Jon Peacy was called home on Aug 23.  We offer our prayers for Lois and his family.
– Ed Seidman joined the Saints on Oct 7.  Our sympathies to his wife, Judy, and the Seidman family.
– Jim Warrington went home to be with the Lord on Oct 13. Our condolences go to Eleay and the rest of the family.
– Eleanor “Ellie” Johnson passed on to Glory on Oct 26.  A service will be held at North Sub on Sunday, Dec 9 at 2pm with a reception to follow.  Condolences to her daughter, Diane Chi, and the rest of the Johnson family.


Requesting Stories

Advent Stories
 
Have a story to share? This Advent, we’d love to highlight a handful of stories of God at work in the lives of our congregation.
 
See here for a summary of our Advent series to understand the vision for the four services. In keeping with that vision, there are particular types of stories we’d like to showcase:
 
Week 1 (Rest): How have you found Jesus’ words to be true: “I will give you rest”? Do you have a story about finding rest in Jesus?
 
Week 2 (Covenant): How have you found God to be faithful to His promises? Have you ever doubted one of His promises, only to see it be fulfilled?
 
Week 3 (Messiah): How have you found Jesus to be your Savior and King? Have you ever tried other “functional saviors/messiahs” and found that they failed you?
 
Week 4 (Sonship):  How have you found God to be a Father? Jesus to be a brother? How have you experienced inclusion into God’s own family (Familial love? Fatherly discipline?)?
 

If you have a story that relates in any way to one of these themes, please contact Robbie or one of the pastors. Thank you!



Financial Report 10.21.18

NSEFC 2018/2019 Fiscal Half-Year Report

April 1, 2018 – September 30, 2018
 
April 2018 to September 2018 Operating Fund Income Statement
Income YTD Actual YTD Budget Difference
Offering Contributions $337,072 $332,141 +$4,932
Rent $9,000 $9,000 +/- $0
Fund Transfers $10,000 $12,500 – $2,500
Investment Income $4,853 $3,000 +$1,853
Miscellaneous $8,236 $0 +$ 8,236
Total Revenues $369,161 $356,641 +$12,520
 
Salary, Taxes, and Benefits $229,003 $232,767 +$3,765
Global Outreach $51,223 $51,000 – $223
Local Outreach $11,650 $11,300 + $350
Church Ministries $26,504 $42,555 +$16,052
Office and General Admin $23,254 $28,771 +$5,517
Building, Utilities, and Custodial $46,965 $45,249 $1,715
Total Expenses $388,598 $411,643 +$23,045
Expenses YTD Actual YTD Budget
Total Revenue $369,161 $356,641
Total Expense $388,598 $411,643
     
Net -$19,438 -$55,022
At the ½ point in our fiscal year we are $35,564 AHEAD of budget!
 
 
April 2018 to September 2018  Other Fund Balances
Fund April 2018 September 2018 Incoming $ to Fund Outgoing $ to Fund Change
Meet-a-Need $14,687 $15,975 $5,879 $4,591 +$1,288
Financial Freedom Fund $48,289 $44,876 $1,556 $4,969 – $3,413
Transition Fund $40,903 $31,765 $569 $9,706 -$9138
Scholarship Fund $6,043 $11,240 $5,567 $370 +5,197
Reserve Fund $65,047 $65,047 $0 $0 $0
Barnabas Fund $67,074 $67,583 $2,658 $2,148 + $509
Swanson Fund $76,778 $82,313 $5,536 $0 +$5,536
Facility Fund $66,964 $53,326 $3,581 $17,220 – $13,638
Restore and Renew $137,676 $110,723 $28,932 $55,885 – $26,953
 
 
2018/2019 Half Year Spending by Budget Segment
Expenditure by Budget Segments
Adult, Pastoral, Worship Ministries – 41%
Administration and Building – 24%
Student and Children Ministries – 20%
Outreach – 15%
 
 
Respectfully submitted by Laurence Claus


Pastors’ Report 10.21.18

Pastor Craig and Marsha send their love. They had an important opportunity to spend time with a family friend who is terminally ill. Pastor Craig passed on some notes to me to share with the congregation so that you’re up to speed on the many developments that have taken place since our last congregational meeting in April.
 
RESTRUCTURING OF STAFF
 
You may remember that our Office Manager, Carol Fry, resigned to move to North Carolina at the end of April. We eliminated her position and have compensated in four different ways. (1) We redefined Dawn’s and Karen’s duties so they are teaming together to take on some of what was previously Carol’s. (2) The ministry staff is doing more of their own administrative work. (3) Pastor Craig picked up some additional duties, including direct oversight of the administrative staff. (4) All of us are using more volunteer ministry assistance in the office (and we are very grateful for the help!).
 
Because this restructuring freed up some money, we have been able to increase our ministry staff. Robert went from three-quarters-time to full-time. Also, we consolidated two half-time Student Ministry positions into 1 full-time Director of Student Ministries.
 
Once we finalized that job description and conducted a nationwide search, we hired Alex Rodriguez for the role on July 1st. Alex has hit the ground running; there has been no delay in making a mark. He started earning trust right away with his contributions on the Challenge trip. Any who have kids probably have heard them rave about his teaching. He has instituted monthly Christ and Culture nights on which he addresses apologetic and worldview issues that are particularly pressing for our students today. Many of you who are parents have expressed appreciation for his weekly emails, which often include helpful links to articles about discipling your kids. We’re also thrilled about all the students who have been choosing to get baptized recently – it’s a testimony to the excitement they’re feeling about following Jesus alongside each other in our student ministries right now. And let’s not forget that Ben Nilsen and Drew Barnes were instrumental in those baptisms. They both helped Alex with his transition into the new role – we’re so grateful for their attitude and assistance with a successful transition. And we’re so glad they’ve both chosen to keep worshiping in our church family – they have a bright ministry future ahead. In all, our Student Ministry is in good hands.
 
Another staff change was already mentioned. Keith Nilsen began the year as our part-time Facilities Manager, so when he resigned in June, Pastor Craig picked up Restore & Renew responsibilities until a Volunteer Facilities Team ministry was put into place at beginning of September. You’ve heard that Ken Bryan is Chairman of that team, and that team has been a major blessing to the church.
 
One more change: Jennifer Bastress has just agreed to serve as the Human Services and Resource Ministry Director for one year. In that role, she will work with The Elders and Pastor Craig to oversee employee issues, look at our Handbook and Policies, and especially to help develop a Benefits plan for our staff. She will provide assistance with Church Insurance as well.
 
Those are a lot of staff changes, but we’re pleased to report that all these changes are going well. A lot of that is thanks to you. The congregation has stepped up to the plate. As a result of our coming together as a team to navigate some of these changes, we’ve been freed up as staff to see some exciting things happening in our ministries.
 
MINISTRY REPORTS
 
I already shared about student ministries.
 
KIDS
 
You may know that our kids get a chance to experience live worship music a couple times a month, which requires investment into junior high and high school students who are developing their musical skills. That’s a unique way we’re able to bless our young people. Many of you have enjoyed our family events, including the recent Starting Line class. Parents Night Out is coming up in November, and already 10 people have volunteered! And you probably agree that the downstairs is safer and more secure than ever… while somehow managing to be even friendlier! People want to hang out in that central space for a long time after services are complete. Thanks to you all for volunteering and for supporting the changes.
 
INTERNS
 
After several years with no interns, we have two pastoral interns this year, Adam DeBroux and Brandon Harris. They are high-caliber Trinity students nearing the end of their M.Div. studies, and they have been willing to serve this church with their time and energy and gifts. They’re both leading Life Groups, with Brandon starting a new Life Group that is being intentionally missional, trying to use the group to reach people in their lives who don’t yet know Jesus. Adam runs our college and young adult ministry, planned next week’s service, and is currently taking point on planning all of our Life Courses for spring 2019. Because of your support, Pastor Craig and I have been freed up to intentionally invest in this next generation of leaders – something we’re eager to do. We feel like we get the better end of the deal as a church – ministry ideas and implementation that will have an impact well beyond when they graduate and leave us.
 
NCD
 
We have identified a need as a church to grow in our evangelism. The NCD Team that was tasked with helping us do that has been meeting tirelessly for months, reading books and articles, researching trends, studying our communities, learning about our congregation, and that all culminated just this week with a preliminary report they shared with the pastors. It is well thought out, thorough, and wise – will be a great blessing for our congregation for years to come. It involves empowering, educating, and equipping the congregation for needs-oriented evangelism – you can expect to hear more about that soon once the pastors and elders have had a chance to review the team’s recommendations comprehensively.
 
JOINT MINISTRY with ADAT
 
We continue to prioritize our relationship with Adat Hatikvah. That partnership includes our First Wednesdays Prayer on the first Wednesday of every month, and the Men’s Connection on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, where men meet to further their spiritual growth and connection to one another.
 
LIFE GROUP PLUNGE
 
Our annual Life Group Plunge concluded last week. Our theme this Fall was “Marks of a Disciple,” or distinguishing characteristics of a follower of Jesus. When I met with the Life Group Leaders recently, they said it was a positive experience for the groups – it helped to drill down some basics of following Christ that we sometimes assume without thoroughly explaining. We launched four new Life Groups this Fall and welcomed over 20 new members to Life Groups – many of you have learned firsthand how valuable it is to be in community with other believers. The Marks of a Disciple are step one of what will be a comprehensive, top-to-bottom, church-wide discipleship action plan laying out how we fulfill the second movement of our mission statement to disciple people in the Word.
 
LIFE COURSES
 
We’ve been blessed by a great slate of classes this fall, hitting different needs across the spectrum. The Mental Health class was overflowing – expect opportunities to follow up on that. In the gym we’ve had the God Showed Up class, in which TEDS students have walked us through some stories in the Bible we aren’t as familiar with but that encourage us to expect God to show up in our own lives. Dr. Campbell came from TEDS for three weeks and didn’t disappoint – before attending the class, many of us realized, “I’m not sure I could explain why exactly the resurrection does anything for me!” Now Katie is starting her class on James – in my opinion, she is one of most gifted teachers in our church. Over the next three weeks – you’ll have a chance to meet the GO Team, Elders, and Deacons/Deaconesses, as you heard from Derek earlier.
 
Let me just remind us of the point of our Life Courses. They are meant to do something different from what a Life Group does. They are more content-heavy; sometimes they involve less chance to talk in small groups about how this applies to life. But they allow us to drill down deep. After all, application is great, but we need to have something to apply to our lives in the first place! You’ve heard me say before that fifty years ago, you were only a committed churchgoer if you attended three times per week. Now, most would identify as committed churchgoers if they attend three times per month. So how do we make up for how little Bible teaching we’re getting compared to previous generations? It’s important that we take any opportunity we can to learn. The wonders of God and His Word are inexhaustible.
 
In all, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about what’s happening at North Sub right now. It’s not just our facilities being revitalized. Ministries are being injected with fresh life, largely thanks to you all stepping up and using your gifts to minister to one another.
 
Pastor Tim Higgins


Elder Chair Report 10.21.18

Good morning, and thanks for joining us for our first Congregational Meeting of our fiscal year. Since we last brought our Congregation together at the Annual Meeting back in April, we’ve had a busy and a productive six months, so I wanted to take some time to walk through some of the issues and initiatives that the Elders have been focusing on to give you all a sense of what we’ve been focusing on. As I sat down to prepare this report, I was actually a bit overwhelmed as to what to try and cover as we have had a busy Summer and an even more busy start to Fall. So as I was preparing my heart to start drafting this Elder Report this week, my wonderful wife Elizabeth, who knows me second only to God, and who sees what I really need, just looked at me and said “Why don’t we just pray about this.”  As usual, she went right to the heart of where I was and what I needed. So I just wanted to start our Elder Report in prayer today:
 
Heavenly Father, we thank you for your Lordship over our lives and your Kingship over our world. You are the master and creator of the universe, but you also uniquely created us and love us in ways that we cannot even begin to understand. We thank you for the amazing gift of your son and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who takes away our sin and allows us to enter into holiness through your Grace and Mercy. We thank you for this amazing redemptive gift, and we ask that your Holy Spirit guides us, equips us, and protects us as we live lives that are holy and pleasing to you. Thank you for watching over us, and we ask for your wisdom and grace as we seek to build your Kingdom here in the northern suburbs. Amen.
 
I. New Elders
As you all know, we welcomed two new Elders serving their first terms on the Elder Board: Ed Mar and Jon Bergmann. We are so appreciative of their hearts for service as Elders here at North Sub as well in addition to their other areas of responsibility between their families, work and their individual mission fields. If you haven’t had an opportunity to meet Jon or Ed, or if you would like the opportunity to meet any of the Elders to better understand how the Elder Board serves the needs of our Congregation, then you’ll have a terrific opportunity to do so on November 4th when we are hosting a First Hour class open to anyone who would like to join us. Our primary goal is for the congregation to better understand what the Elders do, including the role and function of the Elders from a biblical perspective and to make sure that everyone feels that the Elders are fully accessible to you. Additionally, we’d like to provide those of you who may be interested in seeking more leadership opportunities within our Church with an opportunity to get to know our current Elders better. Finally, this will be a great opportunity for our Congregants to know what sort of people to nominate for Eldership as we approach the second half of the year and as both Mike Lopata and I step off the Elder Board after serving the final year of our second terms. Please look for more information to come, and we very much look forward to seeing you on the 4th.
 
II. Open Elder Meeting
On that note, the Elders held an “Open Elder Meeting” on July 9th where we invited everyone in our Congregation who wanted to join us to talk through the recruiting and hiring progress for the Director of Student Ministry role. We had seven of our members join us for a thoughtful and engaged dialogue covering a range of topics from the hiring process itself to the selection criteria and final decision making analysis. Based on feedback from that meeting, the Elders agreed to make an adjustment to the hiring process by including additional input into the creation of the job description at the outset of the search process that guides the Search Team as they seek and vet potential candidates. We really appreciated the time that those seven folks took to sit down and engage with us, and if anyone is interested in the contents of that discussion you can ask Karen Santelik for the minutes of the July 9th Elder meeting which provides details of what we covered and what changes we have adapted going forward.
 
III. Strong Financials
As you saw from Laurence’s Financial Report, the Lord has blessed us with amazing financial resources this year to drive our mission and ministry here at North Sub. We are so humbled by your generosity and your heart of support for the ways that we are building God’s Kingdom here in the northern suburbs, and we want to thank you for your amazing support as we enter the second half of our fiscal year. It seems like it’s been a long time since we have entered the back half of our fiscal year above-budget on the giving side, so the Elders wanted to thank you all for your amazing financial support to enable the work that we have set out this year. We’re just about to start thinking about our 2019/2020 budget process, so look for more information to come on that when we get back together at the January Congregational meeting.
 
IV. Restore & Renew Progress
As you heard from Ken’s Facilities Team report, we have been making great progress with the work on our Church building. First of all, I want to recognize the amazing work that Keith Nilsen has done over the past many years in tirelessly enhancing our Church building. So we want to thank Keith again as he stepped down earlier this year and handed this role off to Ken Bryan.
We also want to thank Ken for taking this on and for leading the balance of this work going forward. Turning to the latest example of completed work, the new carpeting and paintwork here in the sanctuary looks fantastic which gives us the awesome “New Car Smell”! With the Restore and Renew campaign fully funded and in good shape financially, Ken and the team are working through the work scheduling to knock everything out. Look for more updates over the coming months, and again I want to thank both Keith and Ken for their committed service.
 
V. New Security Policy
As I shared with everyone back on September 16th, we have implemented additional security procedures for our Children and Youth areas downstairs on Sunday mornings. This is part of a larger effort that the Elders have undertaken to review and revamp our overall Church security policies and procedures to ensure that North Sub provides the safest and most secure environment for you and your families. So I wanted to just remind everyone of the context for these enhanced security procedures and to ask for both your patience and your support as we integrate these changes into our Sunday routines.
Providing for the safety and security of our Congregation is a critical responsibility for the Elders. We realize that these increased security procedures change the way that we used to freely flow through the lower level of the Church on Sunday mornings, and that may seem like an inconvenience to some. However, as Elders our primary responsibility is to shepherd and care for the flock, so we are focused on creating the safest environment for you and your families while you worship God here with us.
Thank your for your patience and your support as we continue to roll out these changes, and we will share more about our broader plans for enhanced security policies over the coming months as our facilities upgrade projects move forward. In the meantime, please feel free to grab any of the Elders if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns that you’d like to raise to help us keep our Congregation safe.
 
VI. Alex’s Strong Start as Director of Student Ministries
Since we last met back in April, we completed the transition of the role of Director of Student Ministry from a part-time to a full-time staff role. I know that Tim will touch on this in the Pastor’s Report as well, but I wanted to start by thanking Ben Nilsen and Drew Barnes for their wonderful and faithful service to our students over the last several years. Their care and commitment to building into our students has been such a gift to our congregation, and we are so appreciative of them and their heart for building our students into disciples of Christ.
Next, I want to welcome Alex Rodriguez to taking on this full-time role going forward. Alex jumped right in this summer, joining both the Challenge Trip and the Light Rider trip. I think it was a great way to get Alex directly engaged with both our students and our parents, and we had great feedback on both trips. Alex has been busy settling in, and as he develops his leadership teams and builds into our students to drive our Student Ministry, look for Alex to be in regular communication with parents to share his vision for how to develop our students into disciples of Christ. We’re thrilled he’s here, so do please take a moment to say hi to Alex if you haven’t yet had the opportunity to do so.
 
VII. Renewed Focus on Elders as Shepherds
Finally, I wanted to take a moment to share with everyone some discussions that we have been having as an Elder Board about the core areas of responsibility that we as Elders are called to biblically, and our assessment for how we have been serving the Congregation. As Elders, our roles call for guarding and keeping the sheep in both an administrative role as well as a shepherding role, which at different times calls us to focus more on one side of those areas of responsibility than the other. At times it feels we are focusing more on the administrative side of the ledger as we address things like budgets, building maintenance, and procedures & policies, all of which are important things to the functioning of a healthy and safe Church.
 
However, the Elders are also called as shepherds to feed, care for and protect the flock, which we do both directly ourselves as well as indirectly via our amazing Deaconesses and Deacons. We are blessed with an amazing set of Deaconesses and Deacons that pour countless hours into caring for our members and supporting them on so many levels, so I want to thank them for their tireless service to our Congregation. Maryann Hansen will provide us with a report at year end where you’ll see just how much support and encouragement they provide, and we are so blessed for their service.
 
Serving in our roles as shepherds is often less visible to our Congregation since much of this takes the form of individual engagement, counseling and Elder care, but we want to make sure that our members feel both supported and encouraged by the Elders as any of our congregants enter a challenging time in their lives, whether in the form of health issues, difficult marriages, work challenges, or parenting concerns. Our Elders are here to stand with you in any situation, offering wisdom and encouragement, to help anyone who needs to walk with the Lord in dealing with anything that is burdening them. We provide biblical guidance on dealing with troubling issues, and work through challenges with you in a way that both directly addresses the issue as well as reflects both God’s mercy and grace. We’ll dive into this a bit more when we host the First Hour class on November 4th, so we look forward to speaking with you more about this. In the meantime, please do reach out to any of the Elders, Deaconesses or Deacons if there is something that you need help dealing with as we would be blessed to work though issues with you.
 
So that wraps up our Elder report. It’s been a busy six months, but God has walked with us each step of the way to keep us moving forward to build His Kingdom. Thank you for your engagement, your support and your encouragement, and we look forward to our January Congregational meeting to catch up with everyone again.
 
God bless you
Derek Sammann, Elder Chair


Congregational Meeting Minutes 10.21.18

Attendance and Quorum   There were 58 members in attendance.   The membership list is 199 members, and a quorum is 20% of that, or 40 members.    

 
Opening
The meeting was called to order shortly after noon by Church Chair Derek Sammann.  We opened in prayer.

 

Minutes of previous meetings
The minutes of the April 29 Annual Congregational meeting had been emailed to the congregation the prior week.   Dale Houg moved to approve those minutes as sent, and the motion was seconded.  Motion passed.

 

New Members
Mike Lopata explained the process for new members.   Mike moved that the following people be accepted as members:
  • Eric Campos
  • Stephanie Campos
  • Beth Long
  • Carson Long
  • Jane Mulhall

Sarah Nonnenmacher seconded the motion.    Motion passed.

 
Financial Reports
Laurence Claus presented the financial report for the first half of the 2018-19 fiscal year.   This was good news, giving in relation to budget was positive compared to many previous years.   Contributions were $337,072, which was $4,932 over budget.  Total revenue which includes rent, fund transfers, and investment change, was $369,161, which is $12,520 over budget.    Expenses were $388,598, which was $23,045 under budget.
Total giving was $337,073 to the operating fund plus $67,462 to other “discretionary” funds such as Meet-a-need, Project Share, student ministries trips, etc.

 

Facilities Report
Ken Bryan gave the Facilities Report.
After Keith Nilsen resigned as Facilities Manager, a facilities team has been created to manage the facility needs and repairs and to oversee the work.   This team consists of Ken Bryan, John Durham, Tom Hudson, and Scott Krone.

The work for Restore and Renew is 85% complete.  Work completed or currently in progress includes the new sign, the fence, entrance lights, landscaping, the Café, sanctuary carpet and painting, hospitality room carpet, and kids’ security. Ken thanked many people – Keith Nilsen, Pastor Craig and the staff, and the decorating team.   Elder Report Derek Sammann gave the Elder’s report.   He started with prayer.   It’s been a busy summer and fall.  The topics were –

  • New Elders We have two new elders, Jon Bergemann and Ed Mar.  We will need two more to fill the terms of those who are           coming to the end of their second term.
  • “Open Elder Meeting” This meeting was held on July 9th, where we invited everyone in our Congregation who wanted to join         us to talk through the recruiting and hiring progress for the Director of Student Ministry role.
  • Strong Financials We are thankful for the Strong Financials for the first half of the year.
  • Restore & Renew The work on the church building is going well, and Restore & Renew is progressing
  • New Security Policy We have implemented additional security procedures for our Children and Youth areas downstairs on             Sunday mornings.
  • Alex’s Strong Start as DSM “Director of Student Ministries”
  • Renewed Focus on Elders as Shepherds

 

 Pastor’s Report
Pastor Tim gave the Pastor’s report.  Some of the topics were –
  • Staffing – Carol Fry resigned, the Director of Worship Arts and the Director of Student Ministries are now full-time roles.
  • Director of Student Ministries – Alex is off to a good start.
  • Kid’s Ministy –  the Starting Line Family Night, Parent’s Night Out, New Security
  • Two Pastoral Interns – Adam DeBroux and Brandon Harris.
  • NCD Team The NCD team has submitted their recommendation on Evangelism.
  • Adat – We have two joint events with Adat – Men’s Connection and the First Wednesdays Prayer.
  • Life Groups – We have four new Life Groups.
  • Life Courses – Sunday morning adult classes
 

Question & Answers There was a time of Q&A, but there were no questions.

 
Adjournment We closed in prayer.  The meeting was adjourned.  
 
 

Approval of Minutes These minutes have not yet been approved.



Advent Choir Information

SINGERS!
 
If you enjoy singing, consider being part of the Advent Choir.
 
Practices begin Tuesday, Nov 6 at 7pm. More dates and details will be available at that time.
 
In order to have enough music prepared, contact Dawn if you would like to be part of this wonderful, musical opportunity.
Or if you have questions about the choir, contact Robbie.


Jim & Liz Baker Visit

Jim and Liz Baker have been global outreach partners with North Sub since 1999. We got to know them when Jim was attending Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he obtained an MDiv with a specialization in Christianity and Contemporary Culture. They were very active in our church: teaching children and adult classes, working in Awana, and as part of Homebuilders class.
 
They and their four now adult children have previously lived and served in Kyiv, Ukraine where for many years they did community evangelism, discipleship, and church planting with the Navigators. In 2004 Jim transitioned to serve with Reach Global, the global outreach branch of the Evangelical Free Church. He currently leads the Europe Catalyst team and is working to strengthen outreach efforts to Europe’s marginalized people and to plan creative strategies for reaching Europe’s large cities.
 
Last summer Jim, Liz, and their college student daughter Marina served with Joni and Friends at a respite/retreat conference in Ukraine. Jim recently attended a conference/networking event called Hope for Europe in Tallinn, Estonia where he participated in the disability tract. He then went for a week to EF Headquarters in Minneapolis. Liz, meanwhile, was at home with their three dogs and two cats outside Appomattox, Virginia where they live in a 150 year old grist mill that they have worked hard on to make livable. They also have a house on their property that they are remodeling (putting in plumbing and other basics). They rent both of these homes on Airbnb and would like to use the property as a retreat/training/outreach center for “truth seekers from a variety of places and cultures.”
 
They are very excited to be with us Nov 5 through 11. Sunday, Nov 11 after the service they will show a first-ever documentary film on what God is doing among the Roma – as told in their own words. Come prepared to learn, ask questions, and discuss how the situation with the Roma relates to other issues closer to home (like racial reconciliation and diversity in the Body).  A light lunch will be provided.  Contact Gayle Houg with questions.


Bonus Content from October 21st

“Our Real Enemy” (Eph. 6:10-12)
 
Below are five questions that were submitted during Sunday’s sermon. For more study on these topics, don’t forget the resources we have suggested:
  • Listen to the three-week 2016 North Sub Life Course “Gospel-Shaped Political Dialogue” (scroll to the bottom of the linked page for audio).
  • Read Onward by Russell Moore. This is a practically theological book about navigating life in our political moment, written by one of the top evangelical ethicists of our time.
  • Read How the Nations Rage by Jonathan Leeman. Leeman is an elder at a Southern Baptist church in Washington, DC, that has been leading the way for twenty years for evangelicals seeking to faithfully navigate these issues.
  • Read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt. While he’s not writing as an evangelical, and this isn’t a theological work, it contains important insights about shifts in how people now make decisions about what is good and right and true.
 
You mentioned boycotts as “a weapon of the world,” in contrast to “the weapons of the Lord.” Are all boycotts wrong?
When Christians try to loudly mobilize a mass boycott of a corporation because of practices that are antithetical to our beliefs, we are in danger of fighting with the world’s weapons (i.e. “might makes right,” getting our way with numbers and purchasing power). However, if a Christian decides privately to conduct a personal boycott of the goods or services of a particular corporation because of moral scruples with that corporation, this is of course a different matter. In this case, the Christian is not battling to regain political power (the corporation in question will never notice one less customer!). Instead, the Christian is simply declining to give their money to something they can’t support in good conscience, an admirable course of action.
 
You said that our political opponents are (at worst) Prisoners of War behind enemy lines, not enemy combatants. Is there no sense in which some of our political opponents are actually fighting in Satan’s army?
This question requires a nuanced response, because the biblical writers can use different metaphors in different places to emphasize different aspects of an issue. I preached Sunday from Ephesians 6:10-12. As Paul writes that passage, it is clear that he does not view any humans as enemy combatants – otherwise, we would wrestle against “flesh and blood.” However, Paul can write elsewhere in the same letter that we once were following Satan and carrying out his wishes before we were saved (Eph. 2:1-3). In that sense, are unbelievers not soldiers in Satan’s army, doing his bidding? This is an important nuance. Many people are carrying out Satan’s orders, having been blinded by him. One day, they will be enemy combatants (Rev. 20:7-10). For now, I do think the thrust of Ephesians 6:10-12 aims at our viewing them not as enemy soldiers but rather as hapless POWs who have been brainwashed to carry out orders for the one who has deceived them. We don’t rage against them; we rage against the one who has taken them captive.
 
The final three questions were similar to each other (see below). My intent is to address these in this Sunday’s sermon (10/28). If one of these questions was yours, but it remains unanswered after Sunday’s sermon, please do ask it again.
 
I agree that you should not as a believer label yourself and identify yourself with one party. But shouldn’t Christians be aware and vote for the candidate that aligns more with the scripture and live by it? Many preachers such as Tony Evans, Billy Graham, and more have voted for specific candidates (not party) that are living their principles through the word of God.
 
You made a lot of points about how to act when interacting with other people ABOUT politics, but how would you advise someone to act in the voting booth? Would you not advise?
 
Should Christians remain politically independent or are we permitted to join the lesser of two “evils”?


Advent 2018: “Who Is He?”

We often talk at Christmastime about specific prophecies Jesus fulfilled. Consider these two examples:

Micah 5:2 says Messiah will be born in Bethlehem…
… Matthew 2:1 says Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Isaiah 9:1-2 says Messiah would minister in Galilee…
… Matthew 4:12-17 says Jesus started his ministry there.
 

But Jesus doesn’t only fulfill specific prophecies; there are entire Old Testament themes that find their fulfillment in Jesus. This Advent, we will be preaching four of those themes:

  • Rest (12/2): God’s people wandering the desert were looking for rest after years of slavery. They found it in the promised land. It all pointed to an ultimate rest that would be ours in Jesus.
  • Covenant (12/9): God showed Himself to be a promise-making God. He made good on those promises in the person of Jesus.
  • Messiah (12/16): There were many messiahs in the OT, figures anointed for a particular purpose. They were all pointing to Jesus, the ultimate messiah to come.
  • Sonship (12/23): God called Israel his son, called the messianic kings of Israel his sons. Then Jesus came as the ultimate son: the ultimate Israel and the ultimate messianic king of Israel.
 

We hope this series will accomplish the following big-picture goals:

  • Make much of Jesus
  • Deepen our appreciation for scripture (even the more obscure parts)
  • Strengthen our knowledge of how the whole Bible works together
  • Create anticipation for Christ’s return
 

In addition, we see the following points of connection to our everyday experience:

  • Rest (12/2): We live in a fast-paced, demanding culture in which we are expected to constantly perform. In such a world, many of us come to church on a Sunday morning exhausted. That feeling is compounded as we try all week to follow Jesus but are repeatedly discouraged by our failure to do so perfectly.
  • Covenant (12/9): We have all broken promises; we have experienced others breaking their promises to us. We feel the weight of knowing we haven’t upheld our end of the deal in God’s covenant with us (e.g. “walk before me and be blameless”), and we struggle with fear that God has given up on us.
  • Messiah (12/16): We tend to put our hope in human leaders whom we imagine to be greater than they are. When they inevitably let us down, it can be hard to deal with. Is there any true hero, any leader who won’t disappoint?
  • Sonship (12/23): We have a yearning to be included in God’s family. In an increasingly individualistic world, we feel a lack of belonging, an isolation. Some of us have been raised in a Christian tradition that emphasized the transactional nature of the gospel but not the relational nature of the gospel. Perhaps the highest blessing of the gospel is that we get adopted into God’s family because of the work of His true Son, the only-begotten, our elder brother Jesus.
 
We hope you’ll make plans to join us for these services and to invite friends who have yet to encounter this Jesus.