Sticky Faith

I have had the privilege of attending a discussion of the book “Sticky Faith” with other parents at the Church on Sunday evenings once a month since January.  Emily Powers, our youth director has wanted this to happen for some time now and it has become a reality and has been very meaningful.  Why discuss this book?  

 

The statistics about young adults and their involvement in church after high school are sobering.  Most of the statistics say that 1 out of every 2 high school graduates will drop their faith at the door when they leave home.  They may (or may not) pick it back up again later in adulthood, but they abandon what seemed to be a solid faith when faced with the new adventures of adulthood after high school.  Ouch!  I’m not comfortable with those numbers, are you?  My desire, (and Emily’s and many other parents) instead, would be to see young adults leave home so secure in their faith, and equipped with the tools necessary to live out their faith.  To be able to independently read their Bibles, seek out church homes, surround themselves in Christian community and continue to build relationships with those who are far from God.

 

Of course there is no silver bullet to assure this will happen.  There is not a 3 step easy plan to follow for success.  However, the researchers at Fuller Youth Institute, along with FUller Seminary have found several ideas and principles that when carried out has the potential to set young adults on the right track towards creating independent followers of Jesus.  You have heard the African Proverb that says, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  That is exactly what the research is finding.  There is great value and importance of intergenerational community!

 

That is good news for us at the Church.  lifeGroups can play this role!  One of the biggest findings of the Fuller Youth Institute was students who had a sticky faith had multiple adults, who walked with Jesus, actively pursuing a relationship with them during their teen years.  They call it the 5:1 ratio.  Can your child name 5 adults outside of Mom and Dad that they can trust and that are interested in them and following Jesus? Are YOU one of those adults for a child outside of your family?  Again, good news for us at the Church.  lifeGroups can play this role!  It matters that you have a consistent rhythm in your life of gathering with other families, learning how to apply God’s word to your life, finding out how to pray for one another, loving each other, investing in one another’s lives.  


Is everyone in your lifeGroup in the same stage of life? How about inviting a young family to join your group?  How about inviting an older person to join your group?  How about starting a brand new group and being intentional about who you invite so it is intergenerational.  Find ways to get together outside of lifeGroup, go to the teenagers muscial, go and cheer them on at a sporting event, ask the elementary student what they are learning at school or what their interests are, send them a note and tell them you are praying for them. You can make an eternal impact.  Please contact me if you are not currently in a lifeGroup and would like to give it a try.  It matters.
 

Life In Rhythm

God is the Master Creator. He ordered the world. He orders our days.

The earth ROTATES one time every day.

He sets aside one day a week to SABBATH, to rest.

He hung the moon in the sky that waxes and wanes in a monthly LUNAR pattern.

He established the four SEASONS each offering its unique contribution every quarter. 

And, once every year, the earth ORBITS the sun, marking time.

The rhythm of our world has been so intelligently designed by a Master Creator.

That Master Creator invites you to live life together with Him. That’s what we mean by lifeWorship. Worship is not just an event, it’s a lifestyle. Do you suppose that the Master Creator intended to have these rhythms bless our lives too?

DAILY (rotational)  

WEEKLY (Sabbath)

MONTHLY (lunar)

QUARTERLY (seasonal)

YEARLY (orbital)

At this point in my journey here's a few of the habits I have integrated:

DAILY (rotational)

Journaling 3 pages, get up and go to bed at consistent times, drink 2 liters of water, read the Bible

WEEKLY (sabbath)

Take at least a portion of one day to chill, rest, do something that replenishes me

MONTHLY (lunar)

Take a one day spiritual/vision retreat

QUARTERLY (seasonal)

Set seasonal Strategic Priorities for my ministry, take one day of Sabbath with my wife, Amy

YEARLY (orbital)

Take a week-long retreat to reset my Life Plan, decide on Yearly Motto: this year it’s "Life in Rhythm" (surprise!)

 

What habits have you integrated?

What habits would you like to integrate?

 

Bhutanese Ministry

For those of you who are new to the Church, or are not as familiar with the thriving fellowship God has created among our Bhutanese brothers and sisters, a little history may be helpful. The United Nations partnered with the United States in the resettlement of Bhutanese living in refugee camps in Nepal for over 20 years. Having been expelled from their home country of Bhutan, and not able to gain citizenship in Nepal due to political issues, they were in need of a new start in the United States.

Outreach to Bhutanese refugees resettling in Madison began in April of 2009 when a lifeGroup committed to a 90-day sponsorship of the first Bhutanese family to arrive in Madison. Since then, our congregation has been blessed to witness many Bhutanese come to faith in Jesus through baptism, attend weekly Saturday evening Bible study and fellowship, and serve in our congregation and elsewhere.

 

UPDATES

Pastor Amos Shakya from Chicago continues to develop leaders in our ministry, visiting Madison every other weekend. He also provides wise counsel as the community encounters both celebrations and challenges that are often culturally unique. Mentored during the week, Bhutanese leaders are now teaching the Bible study and leading worship every Saturday evening. One of our leaders, Ran Limbu, just started a 3-year basic theological training program with Pastor Amos as his mentor. Another leader felt called to minister to the youth and children and started an AWANA club on Saturday mornings. They are experiencing amazing growth in that program and drawing youth and children from the larger Madison Bhutanese community that do not yet know Jesus. Discipleship continues to multiply as more and more adults and youth are trained in serving during the weekly Saturday evening fellowship. In addition, volunteers from the Church like the Strange family, Mayme Keagy, the Russow family, and many others, continue to walk along side these families learning, laughing, crying and serving together.

EVENTS

The ministry has been very active in recent months! We hosted Godly Leadership and Godly Family training seminars, a special youth event with a presenter from Nepal, a community picnic and neighborhood Christmas caroling and program in partnership with other Bhutanese/Nepali ministries in Madison and Chicago. To connect with other Christian brothers and sisters elsewhere, members traveled to Minnesota, Michigan and Illinois for various conferences and events and representatives from those ministries have visited Madison as well. Closer to home, everyone came together for a variety of baptisms, home blessings, weddings and volunteer efforts including a special event supporting Tiny Hands (another Nepal-focused ministry at the Church) and donations for earthquake relief in Nepal.

CHALLENGES

As we live life together in ministry, we often must adapt to the opportunities and challenges life brings. We celebrated together as several of our leaders started a new Indian restaurant in Madison, but miss their leadership and weekly presence with the demands of a new business becoming very real. We supported each other as the news of devastating earthquakes in Nepal arrived day after day with seemingly no end in site. Many in our ministry had friends or relatives affected by this disaster, including Pastor Amos and Bijay Lama, leader of the Madison Southside Bhutanese/Nepali fellowship. One had their family home destroyed and the other mourned the death of a family member. The transportation blockade in Nepal that followed and prevented necessary supplies from entering the country was as traumatic, if not more, than the earthquakes themselves. Finally, we mourned together the tragic death of Bhim Limbu and struggled to support and love his family through the loss and many other hard times that came as a result.

PRAYERS

Please pray for this ministry. It seems at every turn we face spiritual warfare and obstacles that seek to destroy the good work God is accomplishing in and through us and discourage those involved. His continued protection and guidance is needed as we further His Kingdom work here in Madison. Pray for Pastor Amos in his leadership and recent significant loss and challenges in his family, and Ran Limbu in his continued development and training despite mourning the loss of his brother Bhim. Pray that our ongoing discipleship would bear fruit and grow and that all the resources necessary are available to allow this ministry to continue to develop and mature.

Thank you for your continued support, encouragement and prayers!

 

Serving with Our Schools

I want to share and celebrate a couple ways that the Church has been following Jesus by serving in and alongside our local schools. In 2014-15 the Church in East Madison, led by Anna Bolha and other faithful servers, initiated the Monona Giving Project (MGP), a partnership of local organizations, including Winnequah School and Joining Forces for Families. The MGP raised funds to support the success of children, youth, and families in their homes, schools, and communities by providing utility and rent payment assistance as well as holiday meal packages for families in need.   

For several years now, the Church in Verona and some Fitchburg teammates have served with the Badger Prairie Needs Network (BPNN; formerly the Verona Area Needs Network), which provides much-needed food and meals to local families, including a majority population from Fitchburg (as part of the Verona Area School District). So many children who attend school in Verona have received food from the BPNN, which couldn’t run without volunteer support like that provided by the Church and other local organizations and businesses. 

Most recently, two lifeGroups from the Church at Christ Memorial (our Fitchburg site) came together to prepare and serve a meal for about 100 people at Leopold Elementary School during a classroom parent conference night in March. Church members also served with other local churches and community members during Read Your Heart Out week at Leopold, reading to several classrooms and helping in the school library. There are ongoing opportunities to partner with Leopold -- ask me how you can get involved!

Thank you, church, for responding to God’s call to serve!  If you’d like to serve with a local school but don’t know where to start, get in touch with me and I’ll connect you. 

 

 

Proskuneó

 

Proskuneó-[Greek] to kiss, to bow down, to kiss the ground, to fall down on one’s knees in adoration…

 

 

Jesus replied, "The Scriptures say, 'You must [proskuneo’] worship the LORD your God and serve only him.'" Luke 4:8

On Good Friday, immediately after our Good Friday worship experience we had some friends over to watch the DVR delayed broadcast of the Badger Sweet 16 game against Notre Dame. Ouch. As Vitto Brown hit the 3 pointer to put Bucky up by 3 with 19 seconds left there was great excitement in the room. I participated in the excitement. One of my friends said, “It’s really cool to be able to worship twice on Good Friday.”

The real question in our lives is not whether or not we are worshipping, it is what are we worshipping. What has our attention, our devotion, our investment, our passion?

Human pride will be brought down, and human arrogance will be humbled. Only the LORD will be exalted on that day of judgment. Isaiah 2:11

As we think about and consider the first of our three strategy components (lifeWorship) at the Church over these next weeks, I would like to encourage each of us to make an intentional effort to practice proskuneo-ing the only ONE worthy of such devotion.

I’d like to have us practice by memorizing and merging this mathematical formula within the movement of our lives.

This mathematical reality repeated over time yields WORSHIP….[proskuneo’] to the only ONE who is truly worthy.

Meditating-slow down, sit quietly, observe, reflect, listen, pay attention, consider

Recognizing-grasping, seeing, understanding, taking note, “ahas” recorded

Communing-experience together, living life together with GOD!!

This IS life. This IS lifeWorship.