Category Archives: Eagle Heights

What is going on in the life of the church (the body of people in Christ) I pastor?

Honoring Years and Years of Faithful Service

This was how we honored so many at our annual Thanksgiving meal on November 24, 2019.

Opening remarks and reading of Psalm 116:12-19

  • First, notice that the Psalmist emphasizes calling upon the name of the Lord (13, 17) in worship (13-14) and thanksgiving (17)
  • Second, notice that he does so in the presence of all God’s people (14 and 18).
    • So, I want to thank God for our salvation in Jesus.
    • But I want to thank God for you all, and I want you to be thankful for each other and what it means to be a church that serves and loves each other for God’s glory through Jesus Christ.

 A FEW QUALIFYING THOUGHTS:

  • We may have forgotten someone. If we have, please let us know.
  • We did not include AWANA in this because Jill already does a good job of recognizing leaders for years served.
  • These mentioned are those who have served continuously (making it easier to count).
  • If you used to serve, but don’t anymore, we appreciate you. God knows. I trust you will appreciate that others are being honored for their continued faithfulness to build up this local body.

CANDYMAN

  • Charlie Cooksey – from the beginning for 22 years +

CELEBRATE RECOVERY

  • 5 Years – Ben Burnsed
  • 15 Years – Charles Cox

CHILDREN’S MINISTRY

  • 5 Years – Angie Delahoussaye *, Desiree Burnsed *, Elizabeth Ziegler, Teresa Moss
  • 7 Years
    • Allison Smith
  • 8 Years
    • Rhondalyn Richardson, Dawn Schrock
  • 9 Years
    • Julie Ray
    • Lauren Mills *
    • Amanda Rasmussen
    • Jessica and Jerod Cottom *
  • 10 Years
    • Stephanie Ochsner *, Ron Delahoussaye *
  • 13 Years
    • Suzanne Moore, Ben and Erika Brown
  • 14 Years
    • Carla Nelson
    • Christy Shuman *
    • Sarah Jones
    • Lacey Prentice
  • 18 Years
    • Jadi and Mike Gibbs *
  • 22 Years and still going
    • Bobbie and Lonnie Daugherty, Micki Rogers

* denotes they serve every Sunday

CORE GROUP TEACHERS/FACILITATORS

  • 5 Years – Lonnie Daugherty and Jon Cunningham
  • 8 Years – Kevin Moore
  • 10 Years plus – Kevin and Brenda Zacharias and The Rogers

PASTOR/ELDER MINISTRY

  • 5 Years – Kevin Moore and Ryan Smith
  • 7 Years – Tyson Ochsner and Kevin Zacharias
  • 10 Years – Russ Ingram

DEACONS MINISTRY

  • Cayton Jones and Ron Delahoussaye – 7 years
  • Curtis Kinsey – 9 years
  • David Hatfield – 14 years (David was a part of the group of first deacons)

FACILITIES MINISTRY

  • Greg Webb – 22 Years and still going

FIRST IMPRESSIONS MINISTRY

  • 5 + Years – Dan Newman, Carla Nelson, Mark Schrock, Curtis and Nancy Kinsey, Julie Ray, Kayley Mills, Chris Timmons

HOSPITALITY/PANERA MINISTRY

  • The Nelson Family – 7 years
  • Charles Cox and Scott Farrington – 12 years

MISSIONS

  • 8 Years – Sarah Jones
  • 10 Years + – Micki Rogers and Lonnie Daugherty

SINGING WORSHIP MINISTRY

  • 5 Years
    • Ben Burnsed, Colby Bennett, Dana Duell
  • 10 Years
    • Ben Ehrlich, Toby Angell
  • 15 Years
    • Karen Lemley, Julie Farrington, Veronica Heisler

UNIVERSITY MINISTRY

  • 7 Years – Bruce and Janet Barringer

WOMENS MINISTRY

  • 8 Years – Tonya Ingram

YOUTH MINISTRY

  • 6+ Years – Dawn Schrock
  • 9 Years – Dana Baker and Bobby Luttrell

STAFF MEMBERS

  • Tammy Ramsey – 10 years
  • Mindy Hardy – 15 years
  • Ryan Smith – 15 years

Again, I hope we did not forget anyone, but I suspect we did. And I am sure there are many who have served our faith family in untold ways; by giving regularly, serving in temporary positions, etc. As I said before, God knows. But it is always good for us to honor each other in Christ. I am glad there are so many we can honor in our faith family.

She Came To Tell Me She Was Leaving

leaving

It was one of those up-and-down Mondays that pastors sometimes face with above-average discouraging moments. But the Lord was gracious and He encouraged me in an unlikely way; a church member unexpectedly came to tell me she might be leaving for another church.

The truth is, most of the time when people leave your local church for another local church, it stings. It is unpleasant. It can be really discouraging. But this sister came and told me she was considering leaving and I considered it to be good. As a matter of fact, it brought me joy.

Are you confused yet?

In our Elder’s meeting the day before, I had mentioned to my fellow pastors that I had not seen the aforementioned woman in a while and asked them if they had seen her. They said they had not and so I told them I would contact her during the week. So when I heard a knock on my office door and learned that she had come to see me, I was glad to see her.

She came to tell me that she had been visiting another church during the summer. She went out of her way to say she loved Eagle Heights and had grown a lot during her time with us. It was apparent she was sincere in her affirming words.

She went on to explain her daughter’s family had committed to another church and that she was attending with them. And while she still wanted to gather with Eagle Heights, she really wanted to enjoy the season of experiencing church with her grandkids. She wanted to have conversations with them about reading the Bible and following Jesus. Though she wasn’t one hundred percent sure she would be leaving Eagle Heights, what I heard her saying to me was that she was going to another church for good reasons. She wasn’t leaving disgruntled. She wasn’t mad at anyone. She wasn’t upset as a consumer. She just saw an opportunity to be a part of what God was doing in the life of her family.

She let me know that she was worried about having this conversation. She was concerned about whether she could come back to Eagle Heights if she left. I assured her that she could come back and that I was happy for her and her family. I thanked her for doing the hard thing and coming to me to let me know what she was thinking and doing.

It’s never easy when someone leaves your local faith family, even though they still might be a part of the Universal Church Family. But if this woman does end up leaving, how can I be upset? How can I not be glad for her? How can I not be joyful about the way she handled it.

I only wish that more people would leave this way. She told me she might be leaving, and when I found out why, my discouragement was turned to joy.

A Family Devotion Plan for 2019

catechism

Family devotions can be difficult and discouraging. Below are some challenges you may have run into:

  • It’s hard to make consistent time.
  • The children won’t sit still or be quite for any amount of time.
  • We (parents) haven’t taken the time to formulate a reasonable plan and expectation.

The struggle is real.

As a matter of fact, you may be able to think of many other reasons why a family devotion just won’t work. Yet God’s word clearly places on parents the primary responsibility to make disciples of their children by teaching them the life-giving truths of the Spirit-inspired scripture (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:1-3).

We want to help you trust and obey God’s word, and so we have provided the following resource for 2019. If you are utilizing the  2019 Eagle Heights Bible reading plan, you will notice that at the end of each week there is a question in bold (see the example below). This question is also in the Big Picture Questions and Answers Booklet pictured above. There is also a handy poster inside each booklet. These are available at the Eagle Heights Connection Center.

cateachism bible reading plan

TRY THIS PLAN FOR FAMILY DEVOTIONS

  • Plan a consistent time and place you can have a family devotion. You may have to adjust on occasions, but carve out a time that works most of the time and stick with it.
  • Make known reasonable expectations. For example, let them know that your time will only last for 10 minutes. Ask them not to get up while it’s devotion time. Ask them to raise their hand if they want to speak. Don’t try to do too much.
  • Begin with prayer
  • Ask the question from the catechism booklet or poster: “Who is God?” Let them try to answer. Give them the answer and show them what God’s word teaches by reading the verse from the Bible. (Note: We have provided Bible references to the catechism questions because there are not any in the booklet or on the poster.)
  • Try to think of a brief story or object lesson to illustrate this. This will help you learn God’s word and will help them grasp abstract concepts.
  • Say to them, “Throughout the week we will ask you this question(s) to help you memorize the biblical truth.” Do this every day. It will only take a minute or two.
  • End with a song that everyone can sing together.

This is simple enough and looks pretty easy – right? It won’t be. But if you stick with it, you will create a new habit and God will not only use in the life of your children, He will use it to change you. Pray for conversations and fruit, and whatever you do, don’t give up. Jesus Christ was and is faithful. Follow His example.

5 Ways To Maximize Your Bible Reading Plan in 2019

“And never cast off the habit of reading in the Holy Scriptures; for nothing feeds the soul and enriches the mind so well as those sacred studies do.” Theonas of Alexandria, 300 AD

Bible Reading Plan 2019.jpg

When reading the human writers of the Bible, it’s unarguably clear that they believed that their Spirit-inspired writings are the key to a vibrant and joy-filled Christian life.

Jeremiah writes in Jeremiah 15:16: “Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.”

Everywhere one turns, the writer’s of the Bible talk about the Bible like Jeremiah talked about the Holy Scriptures. The scriptures are essential spiritual sustenance. They are a guiding light that feeds the soul with lasting truth.

I deeply desire for the people I pastor to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and I am convinced that there is no abiding joy in Christ a part from the regular intake of His Spirit-inspired word. God’s Spirit uses God’s word to empower God’s people for God’s mission.

For this reason, we have provided a 2019 Bible Eagle Heights Bible Reading Plan. But having a plan is not enough. Many are the plans of many, but few people act on those plans. The reasons for this are many and varied, but some simply don’t know what to do when they actually read. It’s not just reading that we hope to accomplish for the sake of checking it off our to-do list, but reading to know and enjoy God through Jesus.

So here are five ways you can make your Bible-reading plan more nourishing and joy-giving in 2019.

  1. Pray: LORD God, open my eyes to see life-changing truth for your glory, my joy and the good of others. This prayer will help you to be ready to receive revelation from the Creator and Redeemer, but it will also orient you toward receiving the truth so as to be changed to be more like Christ.
  2. Ask: What does this text teach me about God? This question keeps us from turning the Bible into a self-help book. The Bible begins with God: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” God is the primary initiator and chief actor, so look for God’s character and actions first, lest you try to take that role.
  3. Ask: What does the text teach about me as a part of God’s people? Having put God first, now we can begin to think about how we can trust and obey all that Christ commands as His disciple in light of what we are reading. We must do this so that the Bible does not become a textbook. But we must also ask how it impacts us as a part of the body of Christ. Yes, each of us is saved by grace through a personal response to Jesus Christ, but we are saved to be a part of His flock. We must not neglect the body of Jesus, and in doing so neglect the Head, Jesus.
  4. Ask: What difference does it make? Bible reading should make you more like Jesus. It should reorient your affections and actions. If it doesn’t make a difference in the way you think and live, then something is wrong.
  5. Determine to dwell on a truth you read for the rest of the day. This is what we call meditating on the Bible. You must dwell deeply so that the Bible gets deep into your heart and mind so that you are being transformed. If you read, forget and move on, then you will be like hard dry ground that does not soak up a much needed rain. Discipline yourself to ponder something that struck you as especially meaningful and helpful.

Bible reading is important, but you must have a consistent plan and approach. You will never be better off by reading the Bible less. I hope you fill your life with more of God’s word in 2019.

Eagle Heights Member’s Meeting Agenda For 09.30.18

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As is the custom of the people of Eagle Heights, we will have our quarterly member’s meeting on Sunday, September 30th at 9:15 am in the worship center.

The purpose of these meetings is to:

  • celebrate the work of the LORD in our midst
  • communicate what is coming up so we can do ministry together
  • conduct  business when necessary
  • answer questions from the members of Eagle Heights and pray for those who are spiritually and physically sick

It is very important that every member of Eagle Heights make every effort to be there. If you can’t be there, please ask someone what was said and done. We always want to do our best to communicate to your faith family and we sincerely want our sisters and brothers to ask questions or express concerns as it relates to our trusting and obeying all that Christ commanded.

Here is the agenda for our time together on September 30th at 9:15 am.

(3 min) Welcome and Prayer (Pastor Brent)

(3 min) Fellowship Room Improvements (Pastor Ryan)

(3 min) Ministry Updates (Pastor Brent)

  • Building Up the Church Service Opportunities
  • Appreciation to those who serve to build up this local church
  • UPWARD reminder – registration has begun

(4 min) Membership Presentations (Pastor Brent)

  • Present new members to be affirmed next week (See IG)

Ryleigh Alsop (baptism), Will Branstetter, Mattie Creekbaum, Kenzie Daniel, Grayson Foust, Grant Gage, Jarod Grubbs, Noah Hembree. Parker Lansford, David Long, Colby (baptism) & Erin Martens, William Matthews, Allison Moos, Hannah Naff, Ally North, Michael & Elizabeth (baptism) O’Rear, Cooper Parsons, Garrett Saunders, Cameo Schemenauer (baptism), Klee & Bailey Sellers, Caleb Smith, Dalton Summers, Synnove Talley (baptism), Emily Taylor, Jadan Terrazas, Colby Thompson, Katie Thweatt, Reid Williams (baptism), Jessica White

  • Briefly explain what membership means
  • Briefly explain the process (Class + Interview + Congregational Affirmation)

(4 min) Presentation of the Updated Church Covenant (Pastor Brent)

(30 min) Presentation, explanation and questions concerning potential revisions to the Eagle Heights Constitution (Pastor Kevin Moore and Pastor Tyson)

  • Over the last few years, the Elders have tried to adhere to the Constitution believing that if we are to have a Constitution, we should do our best to adhere to it for the good of our local church.
  • However, at times we have found alignment issues with the Elder model we use as is described and prescribed in God’s word. These are not major issues, but issues that need to be corrected nonetheless. As we were addressing these concerns, we decided to work through the Eagle Heights Constitution completely.
  • It is also worth noting that in the last ten years, we have voted to amend or revise the constitution twice.
  • Once we have presented and discussed the proposed revisions and we have addressed any concerns, we will ask the church to vote (by ballot) on the revisions at a date to be specified.
  • Here is a link to see the proposed revisions: https://eagleheights.com/about-us/constitution-revision 

Q&A with Elders if time permits – and Prayer

Eagle Heights Member’s Meeting Agenda and Summary Notes For 07.29.18

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As is the custom of the people of Eagle Heights, we will have our quarterly Member’s Meeting on Sunday July 29th at 9:15 am in the worship center.

Our Member’s Meeting is a time to:

  • celebrate the work of the Lord in our midst
  • communicate what is coming up so we can do ministry together
  • conduct business when necessary
  • answer questions from the members of Eagle Heights and pray for those who are spiritually and physically sick

It is very important that every member of Eagle Heights make every effort to be there. If you can’t be there, please ask someone what was said and done.

By the way, if you have questions for the Elders or staff, please feel free to email them to me: bprentice@eagleheights.com We always want to do our best to communicate with our faith family, and we sincerely want our brothers and sisters to ask any questions or express any concern as it relates to our trusting and obeying all that Christ commanded.

Here is a summary agenda for our time together at 9:15 am on the 29th of July.

(3 min) Welcome and Prayer (Pastor Brent)

  • We gather in committed community to communicate and celebrate what God is doing because of what Christ alone has done. We do this for God’s glory together.
    • I love this faith family and I love our commitment to biblical fidelity.
  • A brief reminder of why it is important to participate in these meetings.
    • We communicate the work of the church, celebrate what God is doing through the church and conduct business as necessary.

(3 min) Update from Notie Lansford, Chairman of the Personnel Team

  • Notie reported that the church has graciously responded to the request for funds to send Brent and Lacey to Israel. So far, $7,100 has come in.
  • Brent and Lacey had to postpone their trip because the trip they planned to go on was canceled. They will attempt to go in 2020.

(3 min) Membership Presentations (Pastor Brent)

  • Present new members to be affirmed next week.
    • Blake and Lauren Abbott, Shelby Hackett, Truby Mackey, Leah Muriel, Danny, and Jenny Sherman Please let us know if you have a concern about any of these folks being members.
  • Briefly explain what membership means to the people of Eagle Heights
  • Briefly explain the process (Class + Interview + Congregational Affirmation)
  • Introduce New Members
  • Affirmation:
    • Elder: “Do you commit to helping us glorify God by trusting Jesus and striving to obey all that He commands?” New Members: “We do.”
    • Elder: “Do you commit to strive to know and build these new members up in love for God’s glory and your joy?” Church Members: “We do.”

(4 min) Youth Ministry Report (Parker)

  • Parker communicated what to expect for the youth ministry moving forward and invited parents to a meeting on Sunday, August 12th at 9:15

 (4 min) Ziegler Family Seminary Commissioning (Pastor Brent and Pastor Dan)

  • Matthew will explain their plans.
    • Their last day with us is August 5th. They will be moving to Kansas City for two years of seminary and hope to return to us with the capability to address counseling needs in our city.
  • Pastor Dan will come and pray for them.

(4 min) Elders Update (Pastor Kevin Moore)

  • Trustees Update – Per the constitution, the Trustees have not been rotating off every three years. In December, Bob Dixon will rotate off, then Charlie Cooksey the following year and then Terry Bidwell. We will be looking for people to fill the role of trustee as these rotate off.
  • Constitution Revision Update – The Elders are currently combing through the constitution to make sure it is clear and helpful for the governance of our faith family. We will be presenting revisions at our next Member’s Meeting in September.
  • Membership Material Update and Review- Because of teaching we have done, we are currently updating our membership material and plan on filming a new membership video in the near future.

(4 min) Missionary Commissioning (Pastor Brent and Tyson)

  • (Names have been removed for security reasons) will explain their plans.
    • They are still fundraising to leave in the next few months to go to the Middle East to do language training in Arabic.
  • Pastor Tyson will pray for them

(4 min) Children’s Ministry Update (Pastor Ryan)

  • Wacky Water Night on August 8th as outreach with mailers – we are sending out over 2,000 mailers to specific parts of our city.
  • Children’s Camp – Children’s camp went very well and we had several professions of faith and one commitment to vocational ministry.
  • We need Volunteers as school starts –
  • Dearinger’s school supply partnership – we are partnering with Dearinger’s Printing and have contributed to the funds to give rulers with our brand and a message on it to every first grader in Stillwater
  • Promotion Sunday is coming up on August 12th and AWANA starts Wednesday the 29th.

(4 min) UPWARD Update (Pastor Brent and Jonathan Harrison)

  • Jonathan and Amanda Harrison have decided, after a period of evaluation, to continue UPWARD one more year, but only for Kindergarten through 2nd

 (4 min) Preparing for August (Pastor Brent)

  • Servant attitudes and Seating and Parking
    • Brent asked that we please serve each other and those who will be coming to our church. If anyone has questions about why we do what we do, please come directly to us.
  • University Ministry
    • Brent explained that we will not be hiring an intern for the Fall Semester, but will run the university ministry through a team approach for the time being. Brent interviewed two candidates but it didn’t work out.

(4 min) Ward Commissioning (Pastor Brent and Pastor Nathan)

  • Colton and Lauren will explain their plans.
    • Colton and Lauren plan to leave in the next few months to go to the mission field to share the gospel and plant churches. They are still raising funds to be able to go.
  • Pastor Nathan will pray for them.

(3 min) Staff Updates: Jason Denney (Pastor Brent)

  • Jason Denney will no longer be serving as the part-time minister of international students or core groups. He will be working full-time for Greater Europe Mission. August is his last month serving in this capacity.

(3 min) Ministry and Missions Giving Update

  • –Brent reported that missions giving is going very well, but encouraged everyone to continue to give through $18 for ’18. He said summer giving has been slower but overall the budget is strong.

 Q&A with Elders if time permits, and Prayer

  • Prayer request: Cindy May, mother of Karen Privott who is a former member, unexpectedly died at the age of 56. Praying for the family.
  • Prayer request: Two EHBC members are leaving for mission’s training school in Mexico for 10 months. This can be a challenging time of learning and growing.
  • Prayer request: Sevi is the four-month-old nephew of Cayton Jones. He has been critically ill with heart and brain issues. Cayton also lost his mother this year to cancer. Please pray for strength for this family and the healing of Sevi.
  • We ended with a brief time of prayer.

An Eagle Heights Report of Encouragement – 06.07.17

This past Sunday the Elders and I met and we ended our meeting discussing what we were encouraged about, as well as, what areas we would like to see more fruit. We hope to see more of us sharing the gospel where the Lord has placed us. We hope to see more families come and stay with us to labor in a small city, university context that is very transient. I would like to see us excel in prayer more and more since it is an expression of our faith in God. Do we trust God and depend on Him? How much do we trust Him? The biblical quality and frequency of our praying tells the story. We will never arrive on this side of heaven, but we always seek to press forward and grow in the strength that God supplies (1 Peter 4:11). There is more work to do.

On the other hand, one of the themes of encouragement that came from our meeting was what God is doing in mobilizing and sending people to the ends of the earth to preach the gospel to every tribe, tongue and nation. Several examples were mentioned and one the opportunities we are really excited about is the possibility of doing more with international students right here in Stillwater. That was on Sunday.

On Monday my family and I gathered with the Roger’s Core Group to hear Ryan Johnson talk about what God is doing through his family and team with Syrian Refugees. The Roger’s CG has developed a relationship with the Johnsons and they support them by prayer and financial giving. I was highly encouraged and challenged to see the depth of the work, but was also encouraged to see the biblical simplicity of it. I didn’t get to hear about all they were doing because I was watching my kiddos and we had to leave early, but one portion was particularly interesting to me when he described how they are discipling people to disciple others.

Once someone comes to Christ, this is their process:

  • They read or listen to the Bible together.
  • They ask what the text means and what it teaches them about Jesus.
  • They then ask how those listening to identify how they should trust and obey Jesus based on what they have heard. What would Jesus have them do to trust and obey Him?
  • Once they grasp the meaning of God’s word, they ask who they can share this with.
  • Finally, to the best of my memory, they ask those in the group how they can serve in their community.

They begin with God’s word and challenge their listeners to hear and obey Jesus so they can help others do the same.

This isn’t all they do to serve and share Christ with people, but it struck me how simple this process is and how easy it is to replicate for multiplication. They are living and serving in a very different context than that of our local church, but since Jesus walked on earth, this is really how those who follow Jesus have been doing gospel ministry. This is exactly what Eagle Heights is trying to do as well: Glorifying God together by trusting Jesus and obeying all He commands – and teaching others to do the same.

You all know that we are not a perfect local church, but we have much to be thankful to God for as He continues to work among us to make disciples of all the nations, beginning here in Stillwater, Oklahoma. I hope and pray that we will excel still more and more.

Reflections on the Hard Love Sermon Series

hard-love

During the month of January we preached, taught, discussed and listened to five sermons on how a local church can love each other even when it is hard. And it is hard to love one another because we live in a broken world of broken people – people who are prone to wander away from God into sin.

Here are summaries for the five sermons:

  • Sermon 1: Jesus commanded (Matthew chapters 5-7) and did hard things (the cross). If we truly love Jesus, we  will obey all He commands (John 14:15 and Matthew 28:19-20), because we understand that He is trying to protect us and do good to us (Matthew 7:24-27). Love is wanting and doing what is best for others according to God’s word, and Jesus did hard love the best. If we love Him, then hard love we will do.
  • Sermon 2: Hard love is not just the job of the Elders and Deacons, but is the privilege and responsibility of every member of a local church (Philippians 1:1 and 4:1-3).
  • Sermon 3: Hard love is first and foremost an encouraging arm around the neck, not a just a pointing finger. The culture of our local church should be one of ongoing, informal, loving discipline so that we can be honest about the sin in our lives without excusing it (Galatians 6:1-3).
  • Sermon 4: There may come a time when one brother or sister has to start a formal process of church discipline if another brother or sister refuses to repent of their sin. After several steps of intervention, the so-called brother or sister may have to be treated as an unbeliever by the entire local church (Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). This is hard, but it is better to sternly rebuke a straying sheep than to let them be self-deceived (1 Corinthians 5:5). If they repent, we should restore them gently (Galatians 6:1-2).
  • Sermon 5: For hard love to work, we have to discipline ourselves to be in close relationship with other Christians so they can encourage us day after day. If we are not willing to be relationally vulnerable then how will others know how to speak truth-filled encouragement into our lives (Hebrew 3:12-14; 10:23-25)?

Reflections on the Hard Love Sermon Series:

  • We are striving to be a high-commitment church. I don’t mean this in a boastful way, or to be demeaning to other churches. But through the process of membership, we call people to be committed to Christ by being committed to His people in accountable relationships under the authority of God’s Spirit-inspired word. We do this because Jesus demands it for our own good (Colossians 3:15-16 and Hebrews 3:12-14). Jesus declares, without apology, that if any person wants to come after Him and have Jesus save their life, they must be willing to surrender their whole life to the One who gave His life for them (Mark 8:33-38). The way to gain your life is to deny yourself and be willing to give it all to Christ, and when you give your life to Christ, you become a part of His body through One Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-6). How can a person be be committed to Christ if they are neglecting the very body they are a part of? I think you know the answer. It is right and loving that we call people to be committed to Christ by being committed to a visible local church. I don’t know how you obey all that Jesus commanded without calling people to a formal commitment (See Matthew 18:15-17).
  • Our faith family embraced these hard love truths. Now the truth is, we will find out how much we trust and love Jesus when we have to actually do what we have He has commanded (John 14:15 and James 1:22). But the affirmation we have received from so many has been truly encouraging. There are many reasons this is such a hard pill for many professing Christians to swallow. For example, maybe some have been in church all their lives and never seen it done. Maybe others have seen it done really poorly. By the way, it could be done well and still not go well. Sin complicates things. Additionally, this whole idea of calling people to repent goes against the deeply entrenched belief that no one has the right to judge anyone else. Of course, if someone claims this, they haven’t thought much about their conclusion, because they have just made a very real judgment about how it is wrong to judge. We can’t live without making judgments, but we can strive to judge righteously (Matthew 7:1-5 and 1 Corinthians 5:11-13).
  • It took us eight years to explicitly teach on this, but maybe that is for the best. I say eight years because that is how long I have been a pastor of Eagle Heights. I have been convicted for a long time that we need to involve the church if we were going to fully obey Jesus – provided it had to come to the final step of church involvement of putting someone out (Matthew 18:17). But as one of my seminary teachers used to tell us: “You need to teach before you reform.” Having said that, on several occasions the Elders have done most of Matthew 18:15-17, and as I told the church in sermon four, we once almost brought a guy to the church, but praise God, he repented. That instance and a few others made the Elders realize that we had to involve the church and explain that we must be willing to obey all Jesus commanded. It took us a while to get to this point, but now it has been explained and we need the whole church to be willing to pursue straying church members – if that is what it must be done.
  • I don’t ever want it to come to Matthew 18:17, but I trust Jesus’ words more than I trust the words of anyone else. None of our Elders enjoy wading into the entanglement of confronting a stray sheep and unrepentant brother or sister, but we have seen that there is sanctification in it and we have seen the joy of seeing a professing Christian repent.
  • I hope and pray more local churches will begin to pursue obedience to Jesus by practicing informal and formal church discipline. All that we do must be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14), but we cannot love God and wink at the very sin that sent Jesus to the cross. It is not loving to let people run headlong toward the destruction of sin. Yes, we must be careful not breed a culture of self-righteousness that nit-picks at every faith-fail and misstep, but we must call the church to the unrelenting pursuit gospel-centered, Spirit-empowered holiness. The church must be in the world, but not of the world. The church must be distinct in our love for the things that God loves, if we are to be attractive witnesses to the world. I remember distinctly an instance when a woman was telling another Elder and I the story of how her husband abandoned her and how she begged the leaders of their church to do church discipline on her straying husband so that he might bear fruit in keeping with repentance. I remember how she wept over the fact that they did not act and pursue him. That has stuck with me. I can’t shake that conversation. We may botch the Matthew 18:15-17 commands of Jesus, but it is better to have tried to obey Jesus and failed than to have failed by never trusting enough to try. We can’t live in paralysis because of the fear that something might go wrong. If someone is sinning unrepentantly, then something is already going wrong. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We must trust and obey our perfect God and King who died for His imperfect body.

I thank God through Jesus that our church was teachable and willing to receive this. May we always be willing to hear the word of God and trust Him, no matter what hard thing He calls us to do.

5 Group Best Practices

5 Groups are gender-specific groups of four to six people that meet weekly for the purpose of accountability and sharing honestly. These groups read through a book of the Bible as their curriculum and they meet for a defined period of time in order to multiply and replicate what has been modeled for them. (5 Groups – Questions and Answers)

I have led four generations of these 5 Groups and in doing so, through trial and error, I have been able to settle on some practices and habits that better facilitate our meetings. Here are several practices that have been helpful to the groups I have been a part of:

  • At a minimum, I have the group read the assigned passage at least twice before meeting.
  • I Send a weekly group text with a reminder about the text you are going to read. Sometimes I include a question of the week like: “How are you sharing the gospel with others?”
  • We always read the passage out loud together before we discuss it.
  • I make it known from the beginning that I will ask everyone to share an insight, a question and an application regarding the weekly assigned text. This provides accountability for reading the text prior to the meaning and it helps people to prepare.
  • I press for application, asking pointedly: “What does Jesus want you to do in light of the insight and questions you have about God’s Spirit-inspired word. This isn’t just about a great discussion or learning, it must also be about following Jesus.
  • I always make room for prayer. If our discussion has gone long when we meet, we still take the time to share prayer requests, and then we assign those requests to each person in the group, asking them to text the person they are praying for when they have prayed for the request.
  • I remind the group every few weeks why you are meeting with them. I will say to my groups that the reason we have designed these groups the way they are is so that they can do the same thing with someone else. I will sometimes say: “The reason I am doing this with you is so that you can do it with others.” I want to press the need for reproducing multiplication and I want them to be thinking who they might invite to join them when the next round of groups is started.

One of the things I like about 5 Groups is that they are simply this simple by design. All you need is a few faithful people, a plan to read a book of the Bible, some leader vulnerability for the sake of honesty and a consistent plan for a defined time.

What practices have worked best for you?

In Their Own Words – Why Our Volunteers Serve In Children’s Ministry

children hearts

Why our children’s ministry volunteers serve in their own words.

 

Motivation matters. It is the fuel that drives a person to initially take action, and it is often the single greatest factor for sustaining an action. Some people never begin to serve, and many don’t continue to contribute, because they have never thought about why they do what they do.

Children’s ministry can be very rewarding, but it is not always easy and fun. It’s hard to work to love the little children that Jesus loves so deeply – especially when they are not your own. (And sometimes it is hard to love and serve your own.) Our local church has many volunteers who love and serve children every week, and here’s what our volunteers said when they were asked:”WHY DO YOU SERVE IN CHILDREN’S MINISTRY?” Read and be motivated.

  • Seeing kids smile and laugh is a joy and sharing Jesus with them is a blessing.
  • I love serving in Children’s Ministry because I get to teach and reach children that are not in my “friend” group.  It keeps me young and I love their openness and honesty when talking about Jesus.
  • I love serving in children’s ministry because they are the future.  They exemplify child-like faith more than anyone I know.  Children provide examples of trust, love and eagerness for the gospel.  I want to have an impact on children because they are the future hands and feet of Christ.
  • From working in the nursery, I’ve enjoyed getting to know my fellow workers and learn baby tips and tricks from them.  I also like loving on the babies and giving their parents a little break.
  • I serve in Children’s Ministry because I didn’t hear the gospel until I was 17 and I want to make sure kids hear it before then and know the love of Jesus.
  • I love babies so I serve in the nursery the 2nd Sunday of every month.  God has given me the opportunity to serve.  It’s a privilege and honor to serve God in this way.  I am thankful and grateful.
  • I serve in our children’s ministry because I’ve been blessed by my own kids involvement and I want to give back!  (Plus, kids are fun!)
  • God called me to work with His children and I love it.
  • It is important!  It is effective!  I get great joy from working with these kids!
  • I love to see the kids grow up and then they start to serve in children’s ministry.
  • I love children and I believe God lets me take care of these little ones.  I enjoy meeting the parents.  Without this option, I would just be another member.
  • I started as a sub for Ronnie & Stephanie.  Now that I am permanently Ronnie’s helper, I enjoy it.  I have always loved working with children (former teacher).  The Lord has given me a love for them.  I look at the K-2nd grade class as “my kids.”  I love building relationship with them so I can share Jesus.
  • I serve in the nursery to provide love to babies and a time mothers can go and listen to God’s word without concern.
  • I serve with children because I know the outcome children’s ministries can bring from my own experience.  Also, I just love kids!
  • Children are precious and important.  Coming to know Jesus at a young age is a gift.  I want that for my kids and all kids we serve!
  • I serve Eagle Heights children because I am a child-convert (at 6 years old).  God saved me at a young age and I want children to know He can save them, too.
  • I serve in the children’s ministry for a way to give back to Eagle Heights for all they’ve given me.
  • The children always make me laugh and it reminds me of the joy we have in Jesus! J
  • I started working in the 2-3 year old room because that’s where there was a need and I was here both services since my husband plays music in church.  I’ve really enjoyed getting to know both the kids and their families.  There is so much growth between the ages of two and four and I love seeing them grow.
  • I love to see the kids learn.  I love to see them grow one step closer to knowing Christ.  I love to plant tiny seeds in their hearts.  I love the kids and I want them to know Him!!
  • I get fulfillment in watching and helping transform “rowdy”, unfocused, young minds into those that strive to memorize verses and begin to seek to know God and desire to learn His words.
  • I enjoy caring for the kids while their parents learn and worship in the service.
  • I love learning alongside the kids and being reminded of the richness of the simple gospel truths.  I love being able to disciple them and teach them some of the life-changing things I have learned about following Jesus.
  • I enjoy working with babies and serving the parents of small children.
  • It is such a joy and honor to have conversations with children about Jesus and share the gospel with them.
  • I love getting to love on the little ones that come to our church.  I also feel like it is a good way to get to know other church members and to serve the body that I am part of.
  • The love that has been poured out on my children in this children’s ministry has been monumental.  I serve because I want to pour that love back out to other children.  There is no greater joy than watching children come to know Christ.  If I can be a small part in helping with that, I will count that a blessing!

We are thankful to all our volunteers who love and serve children.

Thanks to Jill Daugherty (Children’s Director) and Becca White (Sunday Morning Coordinator) for leading our children’s ministry and sharing this with us.