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Spare Change - May 2022

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It is my belief that we are severely under encouraged.  Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”  This is a sad reality when we look for a piece of encouragement to keep us going.  We should have much more encouragement in our lives, especially from Christians.  We have been told in the Bible to encourage each other.  Here are just a couple of examples:

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Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11
- Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Eph. 4:29
- Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

The Lord knows how important it is for us to continually encourage one another.  We can become downtrodden very easily.  We feel defeated in our lives because of circumstances that we cause and ones that are out of our control.  We also find ourselves hurting others.  All of this contributes to a lack of encouragement, which is why the Bible speaks to this subject.

The answer seems simple enough, be more encouraging; however, encouragement is something we all want but none of us seem willing to dole it out freely.  It is odd because the cure to this problem lies with us being willing to start the cycle, but it seems no one wants to go first.  We don’t want to encourage because no one encourages us, so we wait for something that will never come.  Instead of waiting, why don’t we go first?  Make a pact with yourself to look for opportunities to build up those around you.  Start with one person, someone you are close to and start to encourage them.  Just give it a test run and see how it goes.  I bet it will help them and make you feel amazing as well.

Since it seems most of us are not very good at encouragement here are a few tips to get you going:

1. You must try to be observant.  You have to keep your eyes open and observe those around you.  Don’t just notice them, rather study them.  What do they like, dislike, what makes them tick, etc.  Use that information to find specific ways to encourage.
2. Don’t confuse flattery with encouragement.  Flattery is easy and cheap.  Don’t look for something trite or surface level, look deeper inside and share a word that will really mean something to the person you are trying to encourage.
3. Don’t make stuff up.  We are not trying just to make someone feel better.  If you just make stuff up they will see right through it.  Look to be truthful with your encouragement.
4. Encouragement can be challenging.  Sometimes the thing someone needs is not a pat on the back but rather a loving rebuke.  Some of the most encouraging people have challenged me and have helped me to grow.  Don’t shy away from saying something because it is difficult to say.  This kind of encouragement comes best in a strong relationship.  It is not a good idea to walk up to someone you barely know and challenge them.
5. Encouragement comes in many different forms.  Most of what we have been talking about so far has been encouragement with words.  Words are great, talking to someone is always a good way but notes are even better.  In a note you can speak more deeply and directly without the awkwardness.  I love encouraging notes, in fact I save them in a file folder in my office just to look at occasionally.  Another way is a small gift.  It could be buying someone their favorite candy.  It is the fact that you thought of them that is encouraging.  You can also find ways to serve someone, just by doing something nice and helpful you will encourage them.

Encouragement is easy and for the most part it is free.  You simply have to commit yourself to be an encouraging person.  I know that I don’t do enough of this.  I am not by nature a thoughtful person; however, I have observed very thoughtful people that are in my life and have sought to emulate them.  It just takes a little extra time and concern for another person.  Come on!  We can do it! Let’s commit ourselves to encourage those around us. 

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

Student Ministry - May 2022

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Dear Church Family, 

For students May is the month of finals, graduations, and preparation for the Summer. That is mostly true for the Student Ministry too! So, as we start to switch gears for Summer activities and discipleship, I would like to share with you what the past school year looked like for our students.

Last Fall we fully kicked off our Sunday Night Student Gathering for the first time since 2020. Student Gathering is essentially a worship service specifically for students. Our all-student worship band has been doing a fantastic job leading worship all year long! They have been teaching us new songs and helping us remember some old songs… even a few hymns! After worship I preach a message to our students from God’s Word. Since last September we have gone through the book of Malachi, and when the Spring is over, we will have had a sermon from each chapter of Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians. After the hour-long service we get to spend about 45 minutes to an hour in fellowship, playing games, and hanging out. Sunday nights have been such a great time for students to worship and fellowship together!

Life Groups are what we do on Wednesday nights. Since the Fall, we have been gathering almost every Wednesday to meet in four different groups: High School Guys, High School Girls, Middle School Guys, and Middle School Girls. In these groups we focus on Bible study discussion that is based, either on a specific study the Student Ministry is doing, or on the sermon from Sunday morning. Since September we have gone through a video-based series called John 1-3, which took us through the first 3 chapters of John, the sermon series at church called All In, and we are currently in the sermon series called Guided. Life Groups are great because they give the students a closer connection to others their age and more opportunities to absorb and apply the scriptures through conversations.

While Life Groups and Student Gathering take place during the school year, our Sunday Morning Bible Study (SMBS) is on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am year-round. Since I first came to Oakhill over five years ago, we have gone through the entire Bible using The Gospel Project curriculum from Lifeway tracing the gospel through from Genesis to Revelation. Since we finished that over a year ago, we have been focusing on two major studies. The first was Religion: A Look at Major Religions and What the Bible Says About Their Beliefs. The second was Christianity: A Study of the Denominations and What We Believe from Scripture. Now that both of those have concluded, we are getting back into The Gospel Project to continue to see the gospel in all of scripture and apply all of God’s Word to our lives. The SMBS is such a great time for students to learn more about what the Bible teaches and why we believe what we believe.

I am so thankful to be a part of the many different ways our church invests in our students during the schoolyear and throughout! The Summer is going to offer just as many opportunities to minister to them through Summer Camp, helping with Vacation Bible School, Middle School Mission Week, and all the interpersonal discipleship during events and day trips. Please continue to pray for the younger generations as they finish school and prepare for a Summer full of possibilities to live for the Lord!

Posted by Brian Van Doren with

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