A Note from George

A note from the new Discipleship Minister…

If I had to choose a superpower that would make my life easier, I think it would be to remember everyone’s name.

Starting this new ministry at Northwest, the question I get asked most often is, “What is a Discipleship Minister.” My playful response has been, “I don’t know, you have any suggestions?” When I say that, it’s not completely accurate. There is a story behind why this particular title was chosen. After almost twenty years of youth ministry, I was teaching a parent class about teen discipleship. After class one of the moms came up to me and said, “I wish we did for adults all of the cool stuff we do for our teens. I wish we  emphasized adult spiritual formation the way we do with the spiritual development in our youth group.” I went home that night and told my wife, “I know what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be a youth minister for adults.” 

That inclination has now transformed into a calling. I have spent the last three years   exploring how a church can immerse ourselves deeper in the spiritual development of its members, and how we can become more fully mature followers of Christ. I have also spent a lot of time thinking about how we can better reach out to our community. In other words, we want to be disciples who make disciples. Over the next few months, and hopefully years, we will engage in a conversation about discipleship. I am looking  forward to hearing your ideas to how we can approach following Christ at Northwest, and I’m looking forward sharing some of the things I’ve learned. A.W. Tozer says “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I’m looking forward to exploring what we all think about when we think about God.

So far, this church has been such a blessing. I’ve been at Northwest for a week and a half, and I’ve met so many wonderful people. Folks have been so encouraging, and so welcoming. There are so many people who have let me know that they are praying for me, Dana, and Brendan, as we begin this long transition. There are folks who have helped me move in, made me meals, and reached out in friendship. More than that, so many of you have told me a part of your story, and your heart for God and this church. Be patient with me. Eventually I will remember everyone’s name.

 

The Preacher's Thoughts

 

I want to share these thoughts about some very special people, written by Brad Harub of Focus Press.

 

Forgive me, for sometimes I do not think about how hard it is for you to come to worship. I take for granted things like putting on clothes and driving to the church building. I rarely think about how much pain you     endure in getting in and out of a car or sitting on a hard church pew.

While you may fret about whether your hair is too thin or whether you are too slow, I want you to know what I see. I see love—love in a form that Jesus wants me to see it. Words cannot adequately describe your beautiful warm smile and the love you show for everyone in our church family. Your hugs are like being wrapped in a blanket of love—something I desperately need in the hustle and bustle world we live in today. I see a person who has weathered many years and truly knows the things that are important in life—a lesson that I’m still learning.

I suspect when you look in a mirror you see an old person—someone who feels the aches and pains of many years. But that’s not what I see. I see someone who I long to see sitting in “your pew” every Sunday.

You see age-spots on wrinkled hands that sometimes tremble.
I see the caring hands that reveal years of hard work, and gentle hands that have held many children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren.

You see someone who can’t hear well and whose voice sounds rougher with each passing year.
I see someone who sounds just like my grandparents—a sound that I treasure in my heart.

You see someone who shuffles down the aisle and is slow.
I see someone who may need an arm for support and someone who is teaching me a good lesson on patience.

You see someone whose hair is thin and white.
I see someone whose hair reveals years of wisdom.

You see someone whom you think will not be missed if you are not there on Sunday.
I see a pillar of our church family—someone who makes everything feel just right.

You see someone whose clothes may be out of style.
I see someone who has amazing stories of what life used to be like.

You see someone who can’t cook as well anymore.
I see someone whose pies and cakes are legendary at fellowship meals—and maybe someone who is now giving me an opportunity to provide meals for them.

You see someone whose memory doesn’t work as well.
I see someone whose very presence edifies and encourages me.

You see someone whose has aches and pains, and feels old and tired.
I see a Christian soldier who still puts on the whole armor of God and is showing me what living faithfully until death really means.

 

Youth News

    

September is over, October has come, and fall has made its first appearance (although, we know that doesn’t mean much in Florida). We hope you’ve had a fantastic end to your Summer and have found healthy, meaningful routines to carry you through the end of the year.

     The youth group had a fantastic month! Things have slowed down significantly in the NWYG since school started, but they’ve sure sped up for our teens! With the new school year comes new clubs, sports, activities, and schedules. The average family calendar in 2019 is very, very full. We hope that your family has found some peace in this busy time of year, and we’re so excited to see your teens grow in life and in their faith over the next 8 months.

     Our summer, along with all of NWYG’s regular activities, helped us become a close, tight-knight community. If you were in worship for my lesson at the end of August, you know that the youth group takes this idea of community very seriously. The teens love when we get to be together, and that’s an encouragement to me. However, one of the things I love most is seeing how our teens are an inspiration to our adult volunteers. I often talk about how my life is better because I regularly engage with young people, but I’m not the only one who feels that way! Ask any of our volunteers, and you’re likely to hear the same.

     Northwest loves our teens. I see that every day. If you’re looking for a tangible way to show that love, reach out to Casey. We’d love to find a place to plug you in with the NWYG. Otherwise, we covet your prayers. When you pray for our teens, God will reveal to you how precious they are to the Kingdom. Thank you for constantly supporting our young people, and we encourage you to be a blessing to one of our families as they go through this school year.

                                                                                        -Casey and the NWYG Team

 

Encouragement from the Elders

Fall has brought our first cold front dropping the humidity, if not the temperature, enough to cause us to take note that change is in the air. We can likewise feel a change in the air at Northwest! George Welty is here as our Discipleship Minister and that has  already begun to energize us. He reminded us that none of us has sinned to the point that God cannot forgive us or that God cannot use us to do His work! George has     reminded us that God has invited us all to sit at the table with Him even though we do not deserve to be there. He has encouraged us to sit at table with people who don’t know our Lord, drawing them to us and through us to Him. Let’s take these lessons to heart.

Discipleship is our mission. Jesus gave us that mission in Matthew 28.  Discipleship ministry is what we are about in all that we do. On October 5th, the prayer team is    organizing a day of prayer for our ministers and the ministries of the Northwest church. Begin praying now and come and pray with others.

The elders and ministers covet your prayers as they meet to recast our vision to be in keeping with our mission, to make lifelong disciple of all generations. We will be    doing short and long term planning for our work here. Pray that God makes his work known to us.

What an exciting time to be a part of the Northwest family! George, Casey, Kym, Leslie and Jim bring so much faith and spirit to the work here. It has been encouraging to learn about the youth missions to inner city Atlanta and Nashville. They have done work there to learn how to work here!

We are looking forward to Donny Dillon coming to report on the mission trips to the Bahamas and Honduras that some of our members were on. We want to hear about the hurricane recovery in the Bahamas and how your gifts are being used to relieve the suffering there.

Our Life Groups are back in full swing studying the Word and how we can study to be transformed and not merely informed. The food, fellowship and transforming Bible study are terrific. If you are not in a Life Group now, join one this week!

The men’s Bible Study Fellowship class on Acts and the letters has reached max      capacity. We are praying for another group discussion leader to be able to open a    second group.

Rosanna Garner and Linda Smock are beginning a women’s study to emphasize the essential role of hospitality, of meaningful person engagement in reaching people for Christ.

So many good things and great studies are happening at Northwest. St. Pete and Florida are growing. Technology and travel open the world to be influenced by us here. We have a fervent desire to grow the kingdom of faith. There is no better place to serve and to grow than here at Northwest. We are so pleased that you call this your church. Your elders are praying for you each Tuesday. God bless and grow the family at Northwest!

 

Discipleship Minister

Northwest Welcomes Discipleship Minister

The leadership of the Northwest church of Christ is pleased to announce that George Welty has been selected to be the congregation’s Discipleship Minister. George is coming to Northwest from Memphis where he has been teaching at Harding Academy.

The Discipleship Minister will focus every ministry in the church toward drawing people to Christ to be transformed by His Spirit and to lead empowered, joyful lives in Christ. George says, “Think of it as “involvement” with a purpose. At Northwest, we have the desire to see lives changed. We want to see more and more people walk through our doors, and we want everyone who does walk through our doors to come to know the story of God and to have a transformational relationship with the living Christ.”

In this position, George will teach, and he will often preach, but more than anything, he will partner with the ministries that are already leading people deeper into the heart of Jesus.  He will help us create new systems and new ministries that will make us even more effective, as we seek to fulfill the mission God has given us, to be disciples who make disciples. George will help us not only to bring people to Northwest but will help us to take Christ into the St. Pete community and beyond.

Important Dates:

George will join us in mid-September and speak on September 22nd for a celebration at Northwest at the Sunday morning service.

Back Story:

George grew up in Mt. Dora, Florida, where he attended Mt. Dora Christian Academy. From there he went to Freed Hardeman University where he studied History and also received a master’s degree in Education. Since that time, George has been a teacher, coach, minister, and church consultant. He has focused on spiritual formation, youth and adult education, and member engagement.

He is married to Dana, a schoolteacher. They have one son, Brendan, who is a Junior Social Work major at the University of Memphis. Dana has already begun teaching in Memphis under contract for the 2019/2020 school year and will complete that contract before joining George in St. Petersburg.

Transition:

Tom Edmiaston, interim minister, will be returning to retirement. His tireless service over the past year has been a blessing to our church. Tom has expressed a desire to return his focus to his grandchildren and his wife, Merrily!

Members Comments:

Jim Shannon said: “We are so excited about adding the Welty family to our Northwest family. We are blessed to have found a minister with George’s talents and especially with his passionate love of God.”

John Thee said: “I am impressed with George’s ability to relate and apply biblical teachings into the midst of a culture that wants to adjust God’s word to suit its lifestyle.”

Tom Peeples observed, “George and Dana clearly love people. You can’t help but be drawn to their enthusiasm and their high view of God and the Bible. George makes a strong emotional impact with his teaching.”

Linda Smock observed, “George’s ability to relate to people of many generations is one of the things that most attracted me to him as one of the ministers for Northwest. His experiences with youth, young adults, and more mature Christians give him a range of skills that will be very beneficial in his role as Discipleship Minister at Northwest.”

George Welty noted in a text, “I can’t wait to get down there and get started. It feels like coming home.”

Preacher's Thoughts

It was so good to have our new Discipleship Minister, George Welty, with us recently. George was here with his son Brendan and gave us a super sermon on A King & A Kingdom. We look forward to seeing Dana, George’s wife, who will be here when George preaches again on September 22. That day will be very special as we welcome the Weltys and as we thank the Edmiastons for all they have done and continue to do for Northwest. Tom was a minister here for eight years the first time and over the last couple of years he came out of retirement to work part time on the staff. We are so grateful for his effective ministry in a time we needed him so badly…..

I was sad to learn of the deaths of two former members of Northwest – Martha Fletcher and Whitfield Joseph. Both of these were very faithful members a number of years ago. We have missed them and offer our deepest sympathy to their families…..

Life Groups begin September 8! Sign up sheets are in the Welcome Center, so sign up Sunday. Our theme for our lessons in the fall is Conformed or Transformed. Please find a Life Group. I am so looking forward to starting up again…..

I look forward to seeing you.

 

Search Committee Update

Please be praying for George and Dana Welty, as they prepare their transition back to Florida, and their son Brendan, who is a student at the University of Memphis. George will be here in August for you to hear him preach and will be moving down in mid-September. Dana will complete the school year, rather than breaking her contract, and be down in early summer of 2020. Pray for ways that you can help welcome them – perhaps having them over for dinner, suggesting to hubby that they go to the gym together, planning a cookout and inviting him to be part of it, or a myriad of other ways. You’ll be glad you did!

Click below to see the official announcement of our new Discipleship Minister!

Preacher's Thoughts

A tragedy happened this week at the Memorial Drive Church of Christ in Tulsa – a fire raged through their facility. Following is the plea for prayers from Terry Rush, recently retired minister there. I have included this for your prayers, but also to encourage us that tragedy can be turned into blessings. I am praying it will be at Memorial Drive.

 

BUILDING 3000 PRAYERS

 Our church family at the Memorial Drive Church of Christ suffered great loss this week as fire raged through our facility. The news and the actual scene is shocking. Yet, we encounter incredible possibility as the fires are transferring from the destruction of our gathering place to the reconstruction of the heavenly race.

 We are stunned, hurt, and hopeful. But, what is one to do? Our minds swirl as the devastation is too big. The sadness is embedded within. The solution is equally bewildering at the moment.

 I want to do something. We all do...but what?

 The Church began in Acts 2 with the adding of 3000 souls. God awakened me this early hour this morning with an idea. What we need to do at the front end of this challenge is to build a network of offering 3000 prayers. Thus, I seek to build a power-team.

 I need 100 friends to commit to pray for the new life at Memorial Drive for the next 30 days. I would like these 100 friends to include in your prayers (1) thanksgiving to God for this devastation to be converted to blessings, (2) that God would hold our decision-makers up as their hearts are weighted at the moment, and (3) that God would hold our flock together during this temporary time of scatteredship as we have no one specific place to meet.

 100 friends praying for 30 days gives us our 3000 prayers.

 And would you do this for me as it would encourage the Memorialites who follow these posts and they'll pass it on to their many friends? If you would commit to pray for us for 30 days, would you mind commenting on this post your name and where you are from; i.e. Jane Doe--Fortville, MD.

 Your name and location will give a boost to our Memorial family that will be deeply meaningful. Would you do it for us? This post isn't a Fund Raiser. It's a Prayer Raiser. Thanks for contributing.

 

Encouragement From the Elders

The year is more than half over – hard to believe – and our next mission effort is upon us in equipping school children with back packs and school supplies.  The Faith City desk area is your drop off site for any supplies you are willing to donate by August 11.  This is a great way to reach out to our community. 

Our youth group just returned from a fulfilling Nashville mission trip providing outreach opportunities to the homeless. They have set examples for all of us in their     service to God’s kingdom. We appreciate Casey and Grace Ann along with Dustin and Gina Burtron coordinating this trip.  Our Honduras volunteers had a productive time near Tegucigalpa after 7-10 days of well drilling, construction, VBS, medical assistance and encouragement to the churches outside the city.  Another mission trip to    areas of poverty in the Bahamas is planned in just a few weeks.  We certainly appreciate the opportunity to work with University City and Donny Dillon on these mission      efforts.  Consider and plan to be a part of one of these mission trips next year – it will change your life!

Babies, babies, BABY!  They are everywhere and we are giving thanks and requesting your prayers for parents as they raise their children to be faithful servants of our lord Jesus.  Please continue your prayers for the Betts family as two week old Kaiden  continues to progress after surgery designed to create a diaphragm and allow normal air exchange. 

Plans for life groups are in the works so we want to encourage everyone to join and participate in a group near you. Even better – host one!  It’s such a grand opportunity to develop deep relationships with the family at Northwest and a chance to encourage one another. 

It is quite an honor and an amazing responsibility that we have direct access to the   Father through prayer.  Please be talking with Him daily as we have so many people dealing with serious medical problems.  There are also many who need our prayers for spiritual struggles and request your intercession on their behalf.  It is important to     realize that we live in a world that attempts to create fear in our lives.  Our Lord       reminds that perfect love casts out fear, and 2 Tim. 1:7 states that God did NOT give a spirit of fear but of power, love, and self-control.  Let’s be fearless as we walk in the light and do our best to share the wonderful gift of God’s love to everyone we see.

 

The Preacher's Thoughts

Love My Church.jpg

THE PREACHER’S BEATITUDES

 I have been reading a book written by Dale Jenkins – ALL I EVER WANTED TO DO WAS PREACH. I certainly identified with the title.  In the book he lists the Beatitudes of Preaching. I share some of these with you. You may not be a preacher, but hopefully this will help you see your life in a more appreciative light.

Blessed is the man who has the honor of working with God’s people.

Blessed is the man who is privileged to stand before people with God’s Word and tell Truth.

Blessed is the man whose wife stands behind him in this endeavor.

Blessed is the man who knows the joy and pain of ministry.

Blessed is the man who gets to create memories.

Blessed is the man who can laugh at himself.

Blessed is the man who learns from the challenging experiences of ministry.

Blessed is the man who chooses to dwell more on the joys than the pains of preaching.

Blessed is the man who is loved and respected by the best people on earth, God’s people.

Blessed is the man who is blessed to preach.

 

I love my church!

 

Encouragement from the Elders

Our theme for the year is Be the Church. We would like to thank you for being the church and daily striving to get more people on the bus for heaven. God blesses us with opportunities daily, not just at the church building on Sunday. Consider the following four areas in which there may be opportunities to load the bus:

 Family – Most of us have family members who are not Christians. Christianity may have become a touchy subject with some of your relatives, so the best approach for now is to pray for them regularly. But there may be others who would be receptive if someone had the courage and concern to bring it up. You be that brave person.

 Neighbors – It seems difficult to even see our neighbors sometimes due to lifestyles – always busy and inside in the A/C. Look for opportunities. And neighbors can be found at school and sports activities, etc.  If you have a heart for people, you will see opportunities others don’t see.

 Co-workers – It may be that the atmosphere where you work is discouraging to talking about God. So you may have to use home as a place to reach co-workers. Hospitality can often be the start of getting someone on the bus.

 Church – God provides so many visitors for us each week. These are people who have shown an interest in spiritual things. So be bold, and risk the fact that you may be welcoming a long time member. If so, then it’s good you got to finally meet that person. Be the Church!

 

Search Committee Update

Continue to pray for the applicants for the two roles at Northwest, for God to place (or keep them) at the locations He has planned for them. Pray for the committee and the elders at Northwest to align with God’s plans for Northwest, and for the men and families under consideration. Above all pray for God’s will to be done.

Search Committee Update

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.

Preacher's Thoughts

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.”

 

Youth News

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.

-Casey

-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!

-Summer Series

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!

 

Encouragement from the Elders

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.