Monthly Archives: August 2015
This past Sunday we continued to discuss the application of our purpose and vision for Eagle Heights. We discussed the importance and priority of:
- The Large Group Gathering. This is the time that our local church gathers to proclaim the gracious truth of God’s word, and also to honor God’s word by hearing it explained and proclaimed for exhortation. We honor God by prioritizing gathering, singing, praying, fellowship, hearing God’s word preached and then going to the world to follow Christ in all of life. This glorifies God and we should not forsake this time (Hebrews 10:24-25).
- Core Groups or Small Groups. These are smaller meetings in which people can know and be known; love and be loved. These groups allow people to care for others and be cared for. Yes, there will be content and accountability to God’s word and each other, but this is the place for people to build relationships to share life. So if someone has a spiritual or physical need, this is the gathering within the larger gathering that should know of it first.
- 5Groups. These groups are called 5Groups because they will be five to six people in size and have five essential components. First, we expect all of these groups to have Bible-reading discipleship. God’s Spirit uses God’s word to shape God’s people for God’s mission in all of life, and so the Bible must be central. We want groups to read through books or sections of the Bible. Second, we expect each group to be multi-generational. We need the life experience of others. Third, we expect that there will be honest gender-specific sharing. Men and women are both created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-28), but God also created men and women unique and with that uniqueness comes strengths and weaknesses. We want men and women to be able share honestly about their specific struggles so that we can help each other follow Christ. Fourth, we expect committed attendance for a defined time. It’s easier to commit to something when you know the length of the commitment. Fifth. These groups are designed to be simple and reproducible. This is also why we want each group to have a defined length of time for meeting. We want to multiply courageous, Bible-reading followers of Christ in all of life. We want to raise up disciple-makers. Each group will be asked to plant new groups at the end of their time.
In response to the introduction of 5Groups this past Sunday, we received some questions and also realized there may have been some things we were not able to address. Here are some questions that were asked and some questions that may have been wondered but not expressed.
- Why do we need these groups? Aren’t we already doing these things in Core Groups? Yes, in some ways we are doing similar things. However, the uniqueness of 5Groups is that they champion a multi-generational, gender specific approach to discipleship, which makes them different than our larger Core Groups. These groups are absorbing and streamlining much of what the men’s and women’s ministry have done in the past. Also, we think the smallness of the groups (5-6) will allow more men and women to participate because they can meet at times that are convenient for those who join a group. Additionally, we believe this is the best way to multiply Bible-reading disciples who can help others do the same. Multiplication is something that is not natural or easy for most people. We like to be comfortable and hold on to what we have. These groups are designed to multiply, whereas Core Groups often stay together longer for the sake of continuity. Core Groups are gender-mixed. 5Groups are gender-specific. All 5Groups read the Bible systematically. Core Groups do a variety of materials. 5Groups are for a defined time for multiplication. Core Groups are ongoing. Core Groups are harder to replicate because the leader likely has to be gifted at teaching. 5Groups are more discussion oriented with some direction from the facilitator. 5Groups are capped at about 6 people. Core Groups are larger and may not be as intimate and may not give other people a chance to participate. So as you can see, both groups have their own strengths and weaknesses, but they both are designed to emphasize different outcomes.
- Aren’t we just attempting to program discipleship? Isn’t this just another thing to do? Yes. But what is a program? Isn’t it just a plan to do something? Unfortunately many programs become the end instead of the means. Or the program becomes a distraction to what is important because the organization is focused on running and staffing the program instead of thinking about what its purpose is. So yes, this is a program, but it is a life-on-life effort to get people to read God’s word, hear God’s word and honor Jesus by obeying all He commands. It’s also important to remember that this wasn’t born out of meetings, but out of life experience and doing it with people. We have tested these groups for over a year and believe them to be ready for full implementation.
- What about all the other things we do? How do they fit? Everything we do should be done to make disciples for God’s glory. A disciple is someone who is surrendered to Christ in all of life and helps others to do the same. Whether it is Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, UPWARD, Celebrate Recovery, missions, community outreach or whatever we do; the goal is discipleship for God’s glory. This is how we love people because knowing and following Jesus is the only way to experience eternal fullness of joy. Ministries like Children’s Ministry and Celebrate Recovery are specialized ministries that help people to be disciples in unique seasons of life.
- What about evangelism? Where does it fit? We will continue to do occasional events like UPWARD, Trunk-or-Treat, Experience Easter, etc. But the ongoing evangelism ministry of the church is for people to gather and be shaped by the gospel and then go into the world, making disciples of all men. “Wait”, someone might say, “I asked about evangelism!” Yes, evangelism is a part of the discipleship path. You can’t be a true disciple without being a real Christian. So we want people to be bold for Jesus in their neighborhood, at work, at Wal-Mart, etc. As a matter of fact, you could use One-to-One Bible reading that is modeled in 5Groups to share the gospel. These groups were not designed specifically for evangelism, but as a part of discipleship they can be used to do evangelism. As a matter of fact, they have been used by some to share the gospel in a non-threatening, exploratory way. Pray for relationships to go and speak of Jesus, wherever you are.
- Can youth participate? We think it is great if youth want to participate in one of these groups, provided they are mature enough to have serious gender-specific conversations.
- How do I start or get in a group? There are Connection Point events coming up in the next few weeks that will help connect you to a group. The Ladies’ Fall Fellowship on Sept. 11th, the With the Church Conference for university students Sept. 18-19, and Relationship Sunday Sept. 20th. If you are unable to make it to one of those events where they will be discussing 5 Groups, come to the Connection Center or mark your Connection Card to indicate your interest. If you want to lead a group, we ask that you first participate in a group before you lead one. We want you to be in a group and see it before you lead one. We ask this because we want to make sure that every group understands and emphasizes the 5 essential components. Here’s the rub though: these are new so we don’t yet have a lot of these groups, and on the women’s side of things, they are having to start from the ground up.
- Please be patient. Because we are starting these from the group up, it will take time to have enough groups for everyone to participate. It may take years to get going full speed. But we are committed to a certain methodology to make sure the groups are fulfilling the purpose we created them for. So if you have to wait to get in a group, pray for patience and participate actively in the worship gathering and a Core Group and serve in the many other specialty ministries and occasional ministries we have going. Change and growth take time.
This is a work in progress and we will need to make adjustments, but we are committed to Glorifying God together by trusting Jesus and obeying all He commands. We will do this by: Trusting God’s Word. Loving God’s People. Living God’s Mission. Will you join us?
In response to the most recent Planned Parenthood video, I called:
- Mary Fallin, the governor of Oklahoma (405) 521-2342.
- President Obama’s comment line – (202) 456-1111. By the way, they did not want to hear about it. They couldn’t get me off the line fast enough.
- Representative Frank Lucas – (202) 225-5565
- Senator Jim Inhofe (202) 224-4721
- Senator James Lankford (202) 224-5754
And I asked them if they had seen the Planned Parenthood videos. I encouraged them to watch all of them if they have not.
I told them I was deeply disturbed that a viable baby would have its heart stopped so its face could be cut off for the purpose of harvesting its brain. I said this because I want them to know what is happening. I want them to imagine it!
I asked Governor Fallin whether Oklahoma planned to defund Planned Parenthood like several other states recently have.
Since all of my national elected representatives from Oklahoma claim to be pro-life, I told them I was appalled and encouraged them to keep putting pressure on Planned Parenthood until they are defunded, or stop doing abortions.
I gave them my name, contact information and the city I live in and I asked: “How long are we going to tolerate this atrocity against mothers, unborn boys and girls and their fathers?”
Finally, I thanked them for taking my call and hearing my concern.
It took 10 minutes to make these calls. Won’t you join me?
Right now there is a backhoe outside rattling everything in my office – including me. That’s good news! Here is a brief update on construction and fundraising.
We have been doing a lot of below ground preparation work: Moving water meters, digging and connecting new sewer lines and moving a fire hydrant. We have also been tearing up existing concrete, tearing down the existing drive-through canopy and building up a pad to pour the footing and slab for the expansion. While it looks like little has happened, in reality, there has been a lot of infrastructure work that has been done so the building can be built.
We have also built two large children’s classrooms in the fellowship center. A big thanks to all the men and women who volunteered get this done in an economical way. This will enable us to move all the Sunday Morning Children’s Ministry meetings to the west side of the building so that we have a more secure children’s area.
Construction of the main addition of 5,200 square feet on the south side did come to a stop for a little less than a month, as we were waiting to be approved for a building permit. Last week a permit was given and so construction has resumed. The unfortunate part of waiting on the permit, while also being slowed by a needed wet spring and summer, is that we are two months behind. Because of this it looks like the project is scheduled to be finished at the end of February instead of the end of December.
The construction team is presently meeting every two weeks to get updates on the progress of the project. If you ever have any questions about what is going on, please don’t hesitate to ask.
(If you are wondering what the benefit of this project will be, please read this blog from March 26th: What We Are Getting From the Expansion and Renovation)
Giving continues to be very strong. Since the official three-year Building Up Campaign ended in March, we have taken in approximately $60,000 of new funds in just four months. In April we began telling the church that we will need at least $160,000 to finish the project, and because of the generosity of many, we now need at least approximately $100,000 to finish the project.
We say “at least” because in the process of construction, unexpected things come up that sometimes increase the cost of a project. The Facilities Team, the architect and the general contractor are working very hard to make sure we do everything thing we can to avoid change orders that drive up costs. We want to make every dollar count and honor the expectation and the contract budget we have agreed to with the contractors.
We (Finance Team, Facilities Team and Elders) have also been asking the church to affirm by vote, making available $244,000 from savings toward the project. It is very important to emphasize the words, “make available”. Depending on the how the last bit of fundraising goes and whether or not there are change orders that drive up costs, we may not use all of the $244,000 we are asking to be made available. We have only asked that the church make that available in case we need it to finish. We may well need all of it, but then again, maybe we won’t.
We will vote by ballot this Sunday to affirm the recommendation of making available the $244,000 from savings as needed. We have been announcing this on Sunday mornings and you should have received a letter describing why we think we are financially able to use this money from savings. Please prayerfully consider this and be prepared to vote Sunday, August 16th. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.