Over the past several months you have heard us push Connect Groups. Pastor Jake even wrote an article in the March newsletter. Honestly, this idea is not a new one here at our church. On one level, Connect Groups are sort of a re-branding of what we have been doing with Bible studies and Sunday Schools, and on another, it is a new way to think about how to do those things. We are strategically placing Connect Groups at the center of our identity as a church. I thought it might be a good idea to explain why and how we view these groups as such a big piece of who we are. Continue reading
The theme in our children’s ministry for the month of April is “humility”. One evening this past week, my family and I sat around the table talking about humility. We discussed one of the main points on the God-time card, that humility is not natural. This point seemed to draw out the most conversation with the kids as we talked about how we naturally respond to situations. Most of the time, we enter a situation with “our” needs at the front of our minds. It is actually difficult to place the needs of others above our own. It is simply not natural (according to the perversion of sin).
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
We read this passage together and I was immediately struck by the significance within. You see, when we think about Easter and all that Christ has done for us, we immediately go to Christ’s obedience to die on the cross. We are overwhelmed by the passion week, beginning with Christ washing the feet of his disciples and ending with him dying for us all. We are rightfully overwhelmed as we realize the completeness of the way he loves us. From the least act, as a servant, to the great act of laying down his life. There is nothing that can stop him from loving us. All of this is biblically accurate. But make no mistake, in the passage above, Paul ventures into describing the heart of Christ as he chose to take on the form of man in order to save. God’s sacrifice of His Son on the cross is combined with Jesus’ humility to place our need for a savior over His rightful place in heaven. Christ’s heart of humility preceded his world-shattering act of obedience. This is the heart of the Gospel, and it has practical implications for all of us.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Ps. 133:1 ESV)
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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. (Heb. 10:23-25 ESV)
And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. (Acts 5:42-6:1 ESV)
The elders at SCC are so excited this month to talk about Connect Groups. For years we have been praying and reading scripture and deliberating over how to best organize and communicate our Christian Education, Discipleship and Pastoral care philosophies at SCC. Connect Groups are the SCC strategy to faithfully and enthusiastically address these most important topics. We believe that as we look forward at growth in 2017 and beyond, Connect Groups are going to be the best way to connect every member and visitor at SCC with a life-changing connection with Jesus Christ.
First – What are Connect Groups?
Connect Groups are any small group of SCC members that meets regularly for the purposes of Discipleship, Teaching, Fellowship and Care. What we previously called Sunday School classes are great examples of Connect Groups. So too are our Monday night Men’s Group, our Thursday morning Women’s Group, Wednesday night Bible Study group. These are already Connect groups. They can meet on campus, they can meet at someone’s house, they can meet at Starbucks. We are less interested in where than we are interested in the great work that God is going to do. Connect Groups are organized by either topic or demographic.
HOLD ON TIGHT!
It’s an exciting time to be a part of SCC Kids! Whether you are the youngest of our crew or are beginning the “tween” phase, we have new things in store for you this spring!
At SCC Kids we want to partner with parents at whatever phase your child or children are in. There are several ways in which we try to accomplish this. First, the PARENT CUE. At the beginning of each month, when you pick up your kids, you should receive a Parent Cue that has all the details of what we will be learning each week. It also has our monthly memory verse as well as ways that you can connect with your child throughout the week.
New Year, Same Mission
We are over a month into 2017 and that means Ignition Student Ministry is in full swing. The band is back together, the Waterwheel Café is pumping out smoothies, and the JCMC is overrun by 80+ students each Wednesday night. Small groups have been reunited, friends are bringing friends, and the Gospel is being preached. Yes, my friends, Ignition is back… Continue reading
SING to the LORD …
Lots of wonderful things are happening at Switzerland Community Church this year. As we look forward to 2017 I wanted to take a moment to give an idea of where we are going. Last year we had great success in restructuring our Family Ministry department. Rather than letting children, youth and preschool to continue on as individual, isolated islands, we consolidated vision and support by creating the families ministry umbrella under which all those elements come together and begin to work under a unified vision. In 2017 we are taking that same philosophy and taking a look at our worship ministry to do the same thing. We are pulling together music, tech production, front of house (ushers, greeters, connect desk, etc) and liturgy (preaching, communion, scripture reading) and consolidating the vision for those under the banner of worship ministries. There will be a refreshing of vision and a new excitement of unified co-laboring. Continue reading
Do you ever find it difficult to communicate love? Actually, it is difficult to communicate any real emotion. We have assigned words like love, anger, jealous, etc… that communicate the presence of that emotion, but they do not do justice to the levels or degrees of the emotion we are feeling. It takes effort and sometimes struggle to communicate these emotions well. Those of you reading this who are married, you know that not only is it a struggle, but you must continually communicate them. The old adage “I told you I loved you when we got married, and I will let you know when that changes”, has never made anyone’s spouse feel all cozy inside. The truth is, communication (in general) takes work. It is not something that just happens naturally. A large portion of the struggles I see in couples as we counsel together can be firmly situated in the realm of communication. Everyone needs to take the challenge to hone their skills of communication for those they care about the most. Remember (as we move into Valentine’s season) that the greatest love you can give someone is to allow them to see you and know you for who you are. This is truly the most challenging task of communication. Continue reading
The Epiphany of 2017
“ ‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’ ”
(Matthew 28:19–20 ESV)
The end of 2016 has arrived and we can now look, through a lens of hope, at 2017. This is the time when we always set new goals for ourselves and for our families. Advertisements on television will turn to the latest and greatest weight loss system. Gyms will start offering special deals to “get in, and get slim!”. In my house we work on a much more elementary level. My wife and I would love for 2017 to be the year of children “picking up after themselves!” Now I know that several of you reading this article just shouted “amen!” from your chair. For parents, this is the ever impossible, mind blowing, inconceivable hope for the coming year. Continue reading
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
One of the greatest paradoxes in all of Scripture is the prophecy and fulfillment of the incarnation. How does the all-powerful, creator God choose to arrive within His creation as a helpless babe? Our God does not seem to suffer from the same insecurities that you and I do. The pinnacle of His plan to deliver the entire world from sin and death began as a helpless little bundle of flesh, and culminated in ultimate humility upon a cross. The pride within myself would not allow me to view this as a good plan, especially if I were an all-powerful God who could move the mountains just by speaking. I would need to be standing victorious on the top of some mountain with complete domination having been my vehicle. However, this paradox of the incarnation tells us that we do not have a God who is afraid of the same earthly threats that we are. We have a God who does not need to dominate with supreme violence to obtain ultimate victory. Rather, our God can enter his creation vulnerable (Matt. 2 displays this). He can set love, rather than violence, as the new paradigm for his followers (John 13:34-35). While we were wallowing in our sin, He died, humiliated on a cross at our violent hands (Rom. 5:6), and through this act, He annihilated the rule of sin and death. You see, this king Jesus is not threatened by our depravity, He is not worried about losing. He already holds victory firm in His grasp. He has even promised to return and ultimately remove sin and the enemy from creation. He rules as our king and longs for us to find our refuge within His arms. We all need this kind of king. We need a king who does not simply wrestle with flesh and blood, but conquers, through love, all the evil of this world (Rom. 5:12-21). We celebrate the advent of our king, both in remembrance of his birth as a baby, and his promised coming again. This is a season of hope in the fulfilled and still promised deliverance of the believers from the dominion of evil in this world. Continue reading
Go Church !
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:19-20 ESV)
Disciple making is the heart of the church. Every gift of the Spirit given unto us is entrusted by God for the purpose of actively making disciples of Jesus Christ. No matter who you are or how you got here, God has called you to be a disciple maker. Maybe right now for you that means taking a next-step in the faith: Baptism, joining a small group, serving. Maybe for you that means spending some time in training under a mentor or accountability partner to edify your life in the faith. Maybe it’s just finding the right place to utilize your gift! I promise you at Switzerland Community Church we are all about helping discern how God has gifted you and how He intends to use that gift for His glory. There are no spectators in God’s kingdom. Continue reading