Keep praying for the committee as we continue into a time of thoughtfulness and prayer, seeking to do God’s will. There are some excellent candidates, but we can’t say “yes” to all of them. To whom does God want us to say “yes?” As Kevin Garner said in his last announcement, not everyone will be happy with the person we select for either of the two positions (pulpit and associate) because not everyone in the congregation wants the same thing. So let’s pray that the committee selects whomever it is that God wants us to have. That will be a win-win.
In the first sermon of the I Love My Church series I cited a 2018 study conducted by Harvard and Indiana Universities and reported by Stafford North in New Harvard Study Brings Good News to Churches of Christ. Some takeaways from this study are:
“Many say youth are leaving churches because they are too conservative, but the opposite is the case. The more conservative churches are doing much better in holding their youth into adulthood than are the more liberal ones. And more young people are attracted to the more conservative churches than to the more liberal ones……There are several conclusions to draw from this information. (1) Churches of Christ need to remain firm in holding to the fundamentals of the faith because wavering will be both a departure from the faith and will increase the likelihood of a greater number departing to something more conservative. (2) Those leaving liberal churches make up a rich field of prospects if we will identify them among our friends and advertise in our communities what we stand for. (3) Bringing up our children to be well-grounded in the faith will certainly increase the likelihood that they will remain faithful.”
May has been a busy month for the youth group! We’ve gone to the beach, met our new intern, registered for mission trips, celebrated graduations, and learned a great deal about God’s love for us in our Bible classes. It’s hard to believe the month is over. And we all know what the end of May means! Yes, summer is officially here.
As a season, summer brings a lot of things with its arrival. More than just intense heat and a new string of allergies to deal with, this time of year brings something each one of us needs: a well-deserved break. Your kids will probably benefit the most from this as the daily stress of school becomes a distant memory. Early mornings rushing out the door turn into late nights playing Xbox and waking up at lunchtime. Those of you who teach gain some much needed time away from the classroom. However, for many parents, summer might bring a little bit of stress. From planning family trips to figuring out what to do with your kids during the workday to staying on top of camps and events, summer can introduce some pressure. Even vacations can involve as much preparation as they do time to relax!
So, parents, if this sounds like your standard summer, here’s what we’d love for you to remember as June begins. Amidst all your summer plans, take some time for yourself. Find a day or two to slow down. Get away from the chaos and grill out or go swimming. In our busy lives, it’s hard to remember that Jesus teaches us rest is a spiritual discipline. Taking time away isn’t just a gift, it’s a necessity for your own physical and mental health. So, this summer, make sure you schedule in a little bit of Sabbath. As Jesus told us in Matthew 11, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.” If it’s helpful, you can find our summer calendar on the NWYG Facebook page. Use it to plan some rest.
-Atlanta Mission Trip- June 10-14
Working with Atlanta Inner City Ministry, serving kids in a local neighborhood. This trip is perfect for both Middle and High School students, no matter where they stand in their faith. Registration began April 10th, and cost is $125.00.
-Central Florida Bible Camp- June 16-22
Our yearly week of Camp! Cost is $220. Registration is already live at www.CFBibleCamp.org. After you register with CFBC, contact Casey to let him know you've done so. This is a NWYG favorite, and you don't want to miss it!
Sunday nights throughout the summer when we aren't away for trips. Small group leaders are asked to commit for the whole summer in order to build deeper bonds with their group. Anyone can join the hospitality team as they are able, so this is perfect for someone with a hectic summer schedule. Contact Casey for more info. First meeting June 2nd at 5:30 pm
There will be a number of other events this Summer, so watch the NWYG Facebook page for links to sign up as a volunteer through Signup Genius! When we have a volunteer need, we will post a link to Signup Genius on our Facebook group where you can quickly and easily register to volunteer. Watch our Facebook page or contact Casey for more info!
Do you ever get discouraged? Of course you do, because you are human. We all feel discouraged from time to time.
In the rough and challenging circumstances of this earthly life, we sometimes receive blows that leave us feeling defeated. During such times, we need reassurance from God and others so that we may remain faithful in “the good fight” and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.
Challenges and difficulties are a part of life and words of encouragement can often help. How do we keep a positive outlook when we are going through tough times? Whatever setback you’ve been dealt, inspirational words of encouragement can help. The Bible is full of encouraging scriptures.
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy:1: 7
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
“ Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua1:9
We can also receive encouragement from others. Northwest is full of encouragers. Many make it one of their missions to seek out individuals to encourage. We all go through failures, setbacks and challenges. The Bible tells us to encourage one another, to remind each other of the truth that God loves us, that we are treasured, that our struggles are worth it. Every believer needs the encouragement of others.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We hope you find comfort in God’s word and encouragement from others. The Elders are praying for each of you.
Lord willing, we hope to complete the second round of interviews this week. Pray for us as we seek to do God’s will above all else. Every person whom we have interviewed has some great skills and strengths, but God has different plans for some, and we need to see that clearly.
Disciple is a churchy word that has fallen out of favor with modern English speakers. That may be because our culture is becoming less Godly, more secular. Anything from the Bible is avoided by many in our society today.
What is a disciple anyway? Is it a minister or a special subset of Christians? Maybe we are all just a bit confused about what it means.
Politicians have disciples today, but they call them their “base,” or the “faithful.” Those people who adhere to their philosophies and follow them are their disciples, their followers, their devotees.
Ray Vander Laan in his book, In the Dust of the Rabbi, helps us define what it means to be a disciple of our teacher, Jesus, by explaining the practice in the time before Christ, under the Law of Moses, when some Jewish boys would apply to become students of a rabbi.
Ray writes, “Talmid (Talidim, pl.) is the Hebrew word for disciple. The talmid willingly left home, family, and occupation to be with the rabbi because he wanted more than anything else in the world to be like the rabbi (teacher) in his walk with God.”
Ray says, “the Greek word translated disciple, refers to a talmid as well as to an individual who is interested but who has not renounced everything to follow the rabbi.” Jesus makes it clear that it is no light matter to be his disciple in Luke 14:27 (NIV): “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
You, my friends and fellow believers, love the Bible and Bible words. When we wrote our mission statement, we were confident that you know what a disciple is or are eager to know what it means to be Christ’s disciple.
In view of Matt 28:18-20 in Young’s Literal Translation, our mission is very clear. “And having come near, Jesus spake to them, saying, `Given to me was all authority in heaven and on earth; having gone, then, disciple all the nations, (baptizing them -- to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you,) and lo, I am with you all the days -- till the full end of the age.'
For our church here at Northwest, we have shortened that, reminding us that we want to make disciples of people from birth to death, from where they are till their life here ends.
Our Mission: To make lifelong disciples of all generations.
Will you memorize that and use it as the acid test for all that we do here? Are we on mission? Jesus defined discipling as “baptizing them -- to the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all, whatever I did command you.”
When we baptize people, we have just begun the process of discipling. Teaching continues. Life changes continue. We are disciples when we are Jesus’ base, his faithful, his followers, his imitators.
The men’s class on Wednesday nights is being intentional about making disciples by their study. Do you have a friend that you are leading to discipleship? Bring him to class this Wednesday.
If you meet a visitor at our services, know that God is drawing that person to Him, or that visitor wouldn’t be here. Ask them to join us in a one on one Bible study. They are searching for something here. Help them find it. Help them to become Christ’s disciple.
Know our mission. Use it as your mantra. Use it as your litmus test to know if we are on track. Remember, we are not doing this alone or by our own power; Jesus promised to be with us “to the full end of the age.”
As I was thinking about our theme for the year Be the Church, I thought about how central people are to our theme. The church is not brick and mortar….. it is the people who make up Christ’s body, the church (Col 1:18 and Acts 2:47). The people who surround us help make us what we are, for good or bad.
So I got to thinking about the people around me, the people who help me Be the Church. I thought about the large number of visitors that God blesses us with each week. They help us focus outside of ourselves and realize how important they are to the health of this church. I thought about our church staff. Over the past few weeks I have heard our staff members talk about the great chemistry we have and how they look forward to coming to work each day. I thought about Northwest members who have such generous hearts and set a great example of helping those who are in need, both in the church and outside. The last one I will mention here is a very special group, the Barnabai, those Christians who intentionally go about their daily tasks trying to encourage others, just like Barnabas did (Acts 4:36-37). I’m thankful for all these groups of people who help me Be the Church.
We are in the middle of Skype interviews with some of the applicants. We are still seeking God’s wisdom, and implore you to pray for it, as we seek out men God is preparing to come be with us. If we are not in agreement and at peace with any of these men, there are still many more “fish in the sea” for God to provide.
The committee is still welcoming resumes and a way of viewing their lessons on line from other interested individuals. We continue to pray, and ask you to do the same, for God to bring us the men he wants at Northwest at just the right time.
A capella (literally - in the style of church or chapel music) singing is not unique just to churches of Christ, but it is probably better known today in our churches than anywhere else. In light of that, I thought you might find the following article from Oklahoma Christian’s Good News:
Barry Poyner, who works with the church in Kirksville, Missouri, has written to say that a cappella music is very popular on college campuses these days. John Kusmec, one of the members of their college group called Ekklesia Campus Ministry, is in a campus a cappella singing group called True Men on the nearby campus at Truman State University. They are also close to Moberly Area Community College, and to A.T. Still Medical & Dental Schools.
Recently the University held an A Cappella Festival with various groups on campus and invited guest groups from around the region. The local church, because of their interest in a cappella singing and in order to make good ties with students in the singing groups, helped to sponsor the event.
The church there has also sponsored a Praise and Harmony Workshop with Keith Lancaster. Additionally, they hosted the a cappella group Durant, directed by Melissa Lancaster. Last year, the Harding A Cappella Chorus visited Kirksville, the year before the Greater St. Louis Christian Academy came to sing. They are also in conversations with Melissa Lancaster about producing their own CD of various a cappella groups on campus and our youth group with proceeds going to our scholarships through the campus ministry.
Each Monday night the college group has a devotional called “A Spiritual Night Cap.” It is based on Ephesians 5:18-20 which says to be filled with the Spirit and not spirits. At this event each week, Kusmec leads the singing.
Churches should seek to take advantage of the popularity of a cappella music on college campuses and elsewhere by inviting people to hear the good singing in their services.
We have a packed few weeks ahead of us for the NWYG! With Spring Break, our March Madness game, and Family Weekend all approaching, there's a lot to look forward to! When you add all of that to the usual commotion of family life, you may have a lot on your plate! If this is the case for you, don't worry. You aren't alone.
Sometimes, even in the Youth Ministry, we can lose focus on what matters when things get busy. When events pile up, we may feel tempted to enjoy the fun parts of Youth Group and miss the important lesson God is trying to teach us. That's why, no matter what fun events we have on the horizon, we have two weekly environments where we work to focus on God above all else. On Sunday mornings, we learn what God wants from us by studying scripture in depth. Then, on Wednesday nights, we revisit our lesson from Sunday and talk about it in conjunction with our daily lives and activities. Twice a week, we focus on God's message to us and put away the distractions. However, while twice a week is good, it's not enough. That's why we partner with families.
We cover a lot in our Bible classes. Often, it can be too much to process at the moment. One way to help your students retain what they've learned and grow in their relationship with God is to talk with them regularly about what they've been studying. Currently, we're working through Acts to hear about the 1st-century church and deciding if we have anything to learn from their example. Some questions you might ask each week could be:
1. What did you learn about the early Church this week?
2. In this week's story, how did the example of the early Christians relate to the way we live?
3. What's one thing we can do this week to try and follow their example?
Bible classes serve as a primary way we put God first in the NWYG, even in times of busyness. The good news is that talking with your students about what they hear at Church could be the way your family puts God first when you're busy. You can ask these questions any time! Bring them up in the car, at a meal, or any time you'd already be talking about something. Putting God first doesn't need to be a burden. Add it to your routine! We can't do what we do without parents, and we're so thankful that each one of you cares about your child's spiritual growth. After all, nothing matters more than our walk with Christ. So, no matter how busy you are, find a way to put God first in your family this week!
Vision for the Future
The Elders are concerned about what Northwest Church of Christ will look like in the future. Our prayer and plans are for a thriving God centered Christ anchored body of believers. To accomplish this all of us will have to work in the Lord’s vineyard every day. The following represents our thoughts and first cut at developing a vision statement. Many discussions and prayers have preceded this writing.
Mission: Make lifelong disciples of all generations:
· See everyone in our community of believers have a relationship with God our Father.
· See everyone following Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives.
· Appreciate and understand that the Holy Spirit is guiding us to walk as Jesus walked.
· Equip fathers and mothers to express their faith and pass it down to the next generations by love of the Lord and living as an example.
· Use our God given talents and gifts for good and being the light unto the world.
· Show God’s love through faith and knowing that EVERYONE is made in God’s image.
· Serve mankind by serving our Lord Jesus and following his teachings.
· Be good stewards of the blessings and talents that God has provided.
· Continually strive to grow in God’s word and align ourselves with God’s word.
· Realize that God is all powerful and greater than we can imagine.
· Realize that submitting to God’s kingdom will bring, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control to our lives.
To accomplish these things much prayer and commitment are needed by everyone . To go with the vision and values will have to be well planned goals and cooperation from all of God’s people in his Church.
Many more prayers and thoughts to finish this just as we are all works in process.
It’s hard to believe we’re already 1/12th of the way through 2019! The NWYG kicked off our new year in grand fashion with several successful events as well as a phenomenal weekend away at Winter Camp! We spent several days at Central Florida Bible Camp with friends from all over the state learning what it really means to “follow” Jesus. Our teens had a wonderful time.
This year, the NWYG will be focusing heavily on involving parents in our students’ spiritual lives. We believe that faith always starts in the home, and no youth ministry can substitute for a student’s family. One of the ways we will be encouraging faith at home this year is through access to parenting resources, giving you concrete, tangible activities to help you foster spiritual growth in your home. One such activity is to create a yearly plan for your family.
Creating a yearly plan for your family can be a tremendous opportunity to set goals and be intentional with your 2019. Planning your year is a great way to take a substantial interest in your Child's spiritual growth. While we are a few weeks into this year, it's not too late to take the time to sit down with your family and decide what you want from your year. Parent Cue has a tremendous resource for setting your family's intention for this year! Check out this website for a free download: https://theparentcue.org/resources/2019-family-plan/
Here's how to participate in this activity: Decide on a time to sit down with your family. Make it a time when distractions will be minimal. Have some snacks and drinks, and tell your kids you want to make an effort to make 2019 a fantastic year for your family! If you have a small whiteboard, notebook, or something else to brainstorm your ideas on, bring it. Then, take an hour (or less!) to go through the planning template and write down your answers. Once you've finished, put your plan somewhere in your house where you'll be reminded of it often. Tape it to the fridge or put it up on the wall!
We hope this will be a meaningful activity for your home. Try it before January ends! You won't regret taking the time to make the most of 2019 for your family. If these types of resources are beneficial to you and you’d like to receive more things like this, sign-up for NWYG’s new bi-weekly email newsletter!
2019 is off to an excellent start for the NWYG, and we can’t wait to see where this year takes us! We hope you’ll be a part of the youth ministry’s year in one way or another.
This week I read an article entitled 10 MARKS OF A HAPPY CHURCH by Chuck Lawless, professor of Evangelism and Missions at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. He says he has not found many churches that he would genuinely call happy, but when he has found one, it usually has the following characteristics:
1) Nothing seems to hinder their worship.
2) The people actually smile.
3) The staff have fun together.
4) The people share burdens through prayer.
5) They trust each other when they deal with disagreement.
6) They hang out before and after the service.
7) They have strong small groups with caring leaders.
8) The members give sacrificially.
9) They don’t have a lot of business meetings—and the meetings they have
are friendly and encouraging.
10) They invite unchurched friends to join them.
I know how I scored Northwest, but I’ll let you come up with your own score.
Due to the score I gave Northwest, I can genuinely say - I look forward to seeing you Sunday!
The search committee is now not only reviewing the applicants who have submitted resumes, but also welcoming resumes and a way of viewing their lessons on line from other interested individuals. We continue to pray, and ask you to do the same, for God to bring us the men he wants at Northwest at just the right time.
Thank you for assisting us in the survey and by answering questions in the LIFE groups. If you know of someone who is interested in a position at Northwest, please have them submit a resume and a way of viewing their lessons on line. Committee members are seeking verbal input into some of the things important to you as we plan for the future.
Committee members are seeking verbal input into some of the things important to you as we plan for the future. These questions are being asked in our LIFE groups. Many were completed January 13 and others will be completed on the 20th.
Scripture tells us, we are all given at least one spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:7). These gifts — on top of our interests, abilities, hobbies, likes, and dislikes — join together to form who we are and how we participate in the work God is doing all around us.
We are not made to be who we are to serve just ourselves (1 Peter 4:10). God takes whom He has made us to be and matches it with the needs of others. What does it look like to really serve other people with our gifts?
As we allow the Gospel to change our hearts, we will develop a deep care for other people. Our attention will begin to turn away from ourselves and to the needs of others (Galatians 5:13). The church is us: people who love Jesus serving others by parking cars, holding babies, praying, serving coffee, leading classes, opening homes and assisting with needs. Serving in the local church is a vehicle to discover how we are made and how the Lord can use us. God fills in the picture for us. We discover more about ourselves and how He is growing us while He uses us to meet the needs of others. We learn best by doing.
What can I do to serve other people? How can I be the church? Every week, we are given the opportunity to practice putting our attention less on ourselves and more on others. We will not be perfect; however, as the new year begins let us jump in and serve.
I Corinthians 12:7 - Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
I Peter 4:10 - Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms
Galatians 5:13 - You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh[a]; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
As we close out 2018 I ask the question in the final sermon: How much have you grown this past year in “Looking for the Good”? You may have grown more than you think - I certainly hope I have. I also hope you have thought about some things this year that will stick with you for the rest of your life…….but now onto 2019!
Our theme for 2019 is Be the Church (Don’t Just Go to Church). Since the church is not a place or location, we cannot go to it. We are it - 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We want to think about that this year and how it affects every aspect of our lives. This will be played out in activities throughout the year. For instance in the Seekers Bible class we will carry that theme throughout the four quarters:
Winter - BE THE CHURCH IN SERVING (Mark)
Spring - BE THE CHURCH IN RISKTAKING (Acts 13-28)
Summer - BE THE CHURCH IN TRIALS (II Corinthians)
Fall - BE THE CHURCH IN GENUINENESS (I John)
Try to keep this theme before you and incorporate where you can.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
Barbara and I would like to send all of you holiday greetings and best wishes for a super 2019! In this our 37th Christmas with you, we would like to thank you for all the words and actions of encouragement you have showered on us this year. You have been especially encouraging with your comments about our fiftieth anniversary. It is a privilege and a joy to be around people like you…..
I know there is so much going on around here in December, but I hope you will join me in trying to appreciate each moment of love and hope that is so much a part of this season…….
I know some ladies who have been putting in a lot of work to make this year’s Christmas party very special. I hope you can be a part of it on December 9…..
We were sorry to lose one of our shut ins, Annette Dobbs and a former member, Geraldine Pucklewartz. It was a privilege to know these kind ladies. Please pray for their families…..
I look forward to seeing you.