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Spare Change February 2019

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I am writing this article in my new role as the pastor of Children and Missions.  It is an honor to serve in this capacity. I joked the other day that I have served in almost every way on staff except for worship pastor.  Tragically, the only musical ability I have is music appreciation, so that won’t be an option for me; but children’s ministry is something that I have grown to love over the past few years.  I started in youth ministry and have missed working with kids. I love being able to help young people to get to know and love Christ. It is one of the greatest joys of my life, to be able to return to that is really a blessing.

I began working with the Children's Ministry as my kids have grown and become more involved.  Kristi and I have both served in various roles in Upward, AWANA, Kids’ Camp, nursery, VBS, and Kids’ Life Groups.  We have grown to love the kids’ ministry at Oakhill. As I began to pray about this possible transition it felt natural.  I knew the programming, the systems, and the volunteers; however, I did not take this job out of convenience. I took it   because God impressed upon Kristi and I that it was time to return to working with kids in a greater capacity.

My desire is to build upon the foundation of our great children's ministry.  The kids’ ministry at Oakhill has always been a hallmark of the church, and I want to continue that tradition.  I want to continue our great programs that teach and disciple kids. I also want to connect with parents, so I can support and encourage them.  I know, as a parent, how hard it can be to desire to disciple your kid but not knowing how. I want the church to undergird the family. I want to help parents to know how to lead their children in knowing and loving Christ.  It is tougher than ever before out in the world, our kids face challenges that we could never have even dreamed about when we were kids. They need to know Jesus more than ever today. They need to learn to love Him and learn what it means to follow Him.

I am so excited for the future of the kids’ ministry, it's going to be fun and very rewarding.  This great ministry is only possible because of our great volunteer base. We have the best, most loving volunteers.  The last couple of weeks I have been learning the behind the scenes part of the ministry. The volunteers have impressed me immensely.  They really love the ministry. I am so fortunate to be able to work with them and I look forward to serving alongside of them. On that note, we are always looking for people to join the ministry.  Let me know if you have a heart for kids.

I, of course, will continue to oversee the missions ministry of our church.  I love the community outreach that we do with Harwood, our food pantry, and State Hospital.  I am looking forward to expanding our mission trips and partnerships in the coming year. I desire for our church to have a passion for evangelism and missions like never before.

It is clear to me that God has brought me to this place, in my life and in life of the church.  I am so excited about what He will do in and through us as our church family continues to grow. Thank you for your support and love for the past 12 years, I look forward to many more years of ministry together.

 

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Spare Change January 2019

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I was honored to preach on December 30th about one of my passions: evangelism.  This has been a journey for me, to arrive at the place where I am passionate about sharing my faith.      Historically, I have been terrified in one-on-one witnessing situations.  It wasn’t because I lacked training.  I have been trained in no less than six evangelism strategies.  None of this helped me to conquer my fear of sharing my faith, which led me to believe that the reason Christians don’t share is not a lack of knowledge.  We might use that as an excuse but, in reality, we have more resources available to learn than ever before.

The problem for me was that witnessing always felt like a sales pitch.  I felt like a vacuum salesman going door to door.   It didn’t feel genuine to me.  It also didn’t produce many genuine results.  What changed for me was when I realized that witnessing was not a pitch but a conversation that should flow out of a relationship. That is not to say God might not providentially bring someone to us, like Phillip with the Ethiopian Eunuch; however, I believe the majority of witnessing opportunities will come with people we know.

I believe that God has placed us in our neighborhoods, at our jobs, in our families, on a kid’s ball team, and any other place you go for a reason.  Our job is to build relationships with people, so we can share.  We should look at ourselves as missionaries that are always on the mission field.  That parent next to you at ball practice is someone you need to get to know.  That neighbor across the street is a relational opportunity.  These are the types of people we should be reaching out to.

Another breakthrough for me was to realize that we are not making converts— Jesus wants disciples.  This is a common misconception that is fueled by those witnessing programs.  Conversion is not the goal, it is the beginning.  We should be seeking to help people begin a faith journey and as they surrender to Christ we should continue to help them grow in their faith.  When we view witnessing as a part of the discipleship process then it feels much more genuine.

These realizations helped me to get past my fear; however, there will always be an element of anxiety in sharing our faith, that is just the way it is.  At some point we have to get over that fear by swallowing hard and doing it.  We must have a greater allegiance to our Lord and Savior than we do to fear.  We have to treat the great commission as a command not a suggestion.  One verse that has helped me immensely is 1 Timothy 1:7, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”  The Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need.  God is right there in the midst of our conversations, helping and guiding us.

I would also encourage Christians to be familiar with scripture; develop a daily reading plan.  Look for verses that will help you share your faith.  Some have suggested that believers know the Roman’s Road, which is simply a few verses from the book of Romans that outline the gospel.  You can search these verses easily on the web.  You can also read good resource like Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations by Jimmy Scroggins, Steve Wright, and Bennett Leslee.  This book helps us to learn the 3 Circles, which is a witnessing strategy based on relationships and conversation.  This book also has very helpful ways to turn conversations toward spiritual subjects.  It is overall a great resource for any Christian that wants to share his or her faith.

The point is we are commanded to go into the all the earth and share our faith.  We need to start where God has placed us right now.  If you need to learn more, then do it, there is no reason to wait.  If you are scared, pray that God would help you overcome that fear.  Finally, ask God to show you someone in your life that would be open to the gospel message.  Start small, as I challenged the church in my message, look for one person to win to Christ in 2019, that is a very doable goal.  You can do it!

 

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