Sunday School & ABF Adjustments

We’re praising God for breaking our Sunday School attendance record by 40 this past Sunday!

Every room was jam-packed.  Thank you for being flexible, durable and heat-resistant.  The trustees are in the process of addressing the HVAC needs of each ABF room.

Growth is a good problem, and we’re finding ways to be creative to accommodate the folks the Lord has blessed us with.  Jesus once attracted a crowd so large at someone’s house that a paralytic’s friends couldn’t get through the door, so they hoisted him onto the roof and lowered him down to Jesus!  You won’t need to be so unconventional getting into an ABF at Grace.

Because of the crowded conditions a couple changes are in order:

  1. Mark Woodruff’s Forgotten God ABF will relocate to the auditorium.  That’s the best venue for our largest class using a DVD-based curriculum.  Mark’s ABF had 60 people squeezed into their room on Sunday!
  2. Mike Johnson’s Living in the Real ABF will relocate to the Patch room just one door down to accommodate their needs.
  3.  The 4th and 5th grade class will relocate to Pastor Shirk’s old office (southeast corner).
  4. Pastor Jeff will begin the following ABF this Sunday in the gray room where Mike’s class was on Sunday:

The Gospel Journey. New to the Bible? Would you like to know God’s Word better? This class will span one year and move quickly through an overview of the entire Bible. In interactive fashion, we will identify key themes and doctrines that bring clarity and life to our faith.

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The Gospel Journey begins here!

 

See you Sunday!

Team Togo!

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Last evening several members of our mission team met with Eric and Brenda Kosiorek. We wanted to touch base with them before they head back to Mango this Saturday. God was very good to them in His provision to return home for all that transpired with baby Eli and to support Josh and Courtney. When not with family, they’ve been working hard and gathering needed supplies to take back to Africa. As we met last night, I was struck with the caliber of choice servants they are. Amongst all the challenges of daily life in that needy community to which they are called, what occupied our discussion was not a preoccupation with the dirt, heat, bugs, safety, disease, loss of power and internet. What they asked prayer for was spiritual impact. Greater proficiency to speak French. Relational contacts in their neighborhood and surrounding villages. Their mission is first and foremost not about running and maintaining a hospital. It’s about seeing Togolese come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Please pray for them as they return to Africa on Saturday. It will not be an easy flight. Pray for their return drive to Mango from Lome. It will not be an easy 10 hour drive. Pray for their return home as they encounter the various surprises that creep into your residence when unoccupied for several weeks including freezers that have been without electricity due to power outages. Pray that the long-haul view of why they are there would be that which motivates them to endure. Pray that the joy of the Lord would be their supernatural experience. Pray for healing grace as they continue to grieve the loss of their first grandchild. And pray that we would be just as vigilant in seeing why we are right where we are to reach our community for Christ.

The Ministry of Muscle

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col. 3:23). Last evening, a host of people did just this in our first phase of preparing the front lot for future parking! Not only was it hard work, but it was a ton of fun!  Many thanks to all who came out with chain saws, mauls, axes and rakes…even “the golden wheelbarrow” showed up! Enjoy a few pictures and video clips of our tree cutting ministry crew hard at work for the glory of God!

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Why You Should Serve in Ministries for Your Children at Church

“But church is my chance to get away from my kids!”

“But kids ministries are opportunities for date nights, shopping, fun with friends, etc.”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard variations of these sentiments. My wife and I have four boys. We get it. Will you think through this with me for a minute? We believe getting involved in ministries for your children at church presents opportunities that other venues don’t. Here are some reasons parents need to be involved in their children’s spiritual formation at church:

Your Kids Need to See You Serve. More is caught than taught. It’s one thing to try to raise your children to serve the Lord by teaching them it’s the right thing to do. It’s quite another for you to model it for them, and better yet, to get them involved with you. If you serve in your child’s Sunday School class, you can guide them to serve by having them be your special helper – the one who puts the stickers on charts, takes attendance, helps with room set-up, befriends the new kid, serves the snack – the opportunities are endless. Your child loves when you serve and he or she loves to serve with you.

No One Is More Interested and Invested in Your Child’s Spiritual Development Than You.  This doesn’t mean we don’t need or want non-parents in children’s ministries. Just the opposite! It takes a church family to raise a child in the Lord. But what if non-parents started saying, “I don’t have kids in those ministries yet (or anymore), so why should I serve?”

Parents make great children’s ministry workers! You know your child like no one else. You understand their needs. You understand his or her age group. Your parental insights and intuitions help drive home spiritual truths in ways that are relevant and practical. Who has a more compelling reason to be in your child’s Sunday School class than you?

You benefit as much as your child.  The thought of teaching the Bible to adults horrifies many of us. But with a little effort any one of us could teach a Bible lesson that children will understand.

An educational principle applies here to spiritual growth. If you want to learn something, teach it. Nothing gives you mastery of a subject like the responsibility of teaching it. Want to know the Bible better? Teach it. Want to have more consistent, meaningful time with God in His Word? Teach it. Want to influence lives for eternity using God’s Word? Teach it.

Ministry Is a Launch-Pad for Spiritual Conversation. Church-going children are experts at scuttling around the question, “What did you learn in church today?” You weren’t there, so you’re really depending on your child to throw you a bone to keep the dialogue running. They seldom do. However, when you enter into your child’s church experience and become a part of their spiritual formation, it deepens your spiritual discussions. Questions become more pointed and elicit more thoughtful responses from your child, like: “Why do you think Samson didn’t tell his parents about the lion?” Because you taught the lesson, you’ll not only know the answer, but be able to guide your child in a conversation about the importance of transparency in your relationship. Suddenly, you’ll find the Bible lesson coming up in the run-of-the-mill happenings of your home. The week’s lesson becomes a reference point that you have in common, a lens through which both of you can process life.

Teachable Moments. Spending time in your child’s church class will reveal their character so you can better help them grow in character. You will observe them in an environment that perhaps you don’t often get to see. You’ll notice the nuances of how they respond to the obnoxious boy, or are the obnoxious boy! You can bet I’ve been on both sides of that fence! How they interact with Bible time, participate in activities, relate to the teacher as an authority figure, etc. all puts you more in tune with your child’s needs. That doesn’t mean that you need to ride them and correct everything little thing, as if Sunday School is for you to “school” them. Your participation will result in opportunities for you to correct your child, but also opportunities for encouragement, praise and reward. Parents present in the classroom tend to be more knowledgeable of their child’s spiritual development.

The Chance to Invest in Your Child’s Friends. Some day that other “church kid” may be the only positive source of peer support your child has. They may grow to be a source of accountability for one another. And you’ll have a unique connection with them and a platform to speak into their life that many parents can only wish they had with their children’s friends. Think through how you can nurture your child’s friendships with other children at church. Who knows, your son may just marry that charming little girl in his class he can’t seem to get along with.

Ministry Partnerships and Friendships. Even better than serving in your child’s church class, is serving as part of a team. You don’t have to serve alone. Serve alongside or start a rotation with some friends who have children in the same class. Recruit someone you’d like to get to know better who has children in the class. When you as a parent take responsibility for your children’s spiritual instruction at church, you may be surprised by the lifelong family friendships that will blossom out of ministry.

Being with your children at church on Sundays is not a drag. It’s not the time to take a break from your kids. It’s a unique opportunity that you can’t find anywhere else. Don’t miss out on your kids growing up in church!

If you’re interested in investing in the younger generation at Grace, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

A HUGE THANK-YOU

 

VBS AppreciationA HUGE THANK-YOU goes out to our exceptional 2016 VBS team and their service for Christ this past week! We enjoyed a fantastic week of communicating God’s Word in our “Ocean Commotion” theme through dynamic singing, teaching, crafts, games and a captivating and compelling drama presentation! Thank you to ALL who served in the many opportunities the week provided. It is our ongoing prayer that God will continue to use this week in the lives of the children and families who attended as the seeds of the gospel were planted. There is nothing more exciting than involvement in God’s great harvest for eternity! Thank you for your investment of time and energy in this purposeful work and labor of love for Christ!

We Want to Hear What God is Doing!

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This past Sunday, many of us wrote down the name of an individual who needs to know Jesus as their personal Savior.  A mere magnet and a simple sharpie were used to write that name.  However, nothing has changed in that individual’s life from their name being written on a magnet with a sharpie. It is our commitment to pray for the Lord’s work in that individual’s life that will bring about opportunity for life change.  So how about you?  Have you been praying for the person on your magnet? From praying, have you had opportunities to share your faith, talk about spiritual things, or even invite them to church?  If so, we want to hear all of your “God stories” and share them with the church!  We always want to acknowledge how God is answering our prayers for lost people, whether big or small.  Maybe you ran into them at the store and decided to connect over coffee, maybe they called you up “out of the blue,” or maybe you shared your testimony with them for the first time.  Whatever it is, we want to hear it. We want to hear about all the interactions, opportunities, and conversations that God is ordaining because of our prayer for lost people.  Contact any of the pastors with your “God story” and we may ask you to share and encourage the rest of the church with your God-answered prayer.

 

Thank you, we are looking forward to hearing about what God is doing!

 

-Pastor Corey

Father’s Day

Strength in a church and in each of us as believers is measured by spiritual vitality. A church cannot be strong, thriving, and fruitful unless God is present and moving. For years the pastors of Grace have begged God for spiritual vitality, for fruit that endures. We beg God to fill our church with lives unmistakably changed by Jesus Christ. God answering those desperate prayers is what makes a church strong. Father’s Day 2016 at Grace proved to be an illustration of our latest sermon series, “Strong Church.”

Father’s Day was what it should be: a day to commit. A strong church requires committed men. That’s why Father’s Day was also Commitment Sunday at Grace: the day we came together to pledge toward the Gateway to Grace Campaign. Expanded parking, new entrances, drainage, landscaping, etc., are all part of an effort to make our campus an attractive destination in our community. But our heart is not for people to be drawn to a facility. We want them to come because the Lord is drawing them to Himself and they know they will find Him here.

We are giving our lives to aggressively following Christ as He builds His church. We don’t believe His mission is accomplished by just expanding a campus. Physical construction is never our goal. Seeing people come to Christ and build their lives on God’s Word is. That’s what happens when God produces spiritual vitality in our midst.

What does spiritual vitality look like in a church? Below are some marks of a strong church that we witnessed Father’s Day:

Active older members. They haven’t checked out of their church as it seeks to reach younger generations. Just the opposite. They are doing whatever they can to serve the Lord in their church. J.D. Barrett (91) had a hand in relocating Grace to our current home at 238 Vine St., Batavia, in 1972. That was 44 years ago. J.D. began the service on the piano.

Pastor ShirkAuthentically godly leadership. Father’s Day also marked Pastor Shirk’s 60th birthday. He leads with more clarity, conviction, and charisma than ever before. People respond to leaders they respect and whose lives they can follow. Some leaders are in it for themselves, to build their own kingdom. Pastor Shirk leads us in building God’s kingdom.

Men who sacrifice and serve. We celebrated some key men on Father’s Day who play a significant role in the ministry of Grace. Joe Gassaway leads our greeting ministry. People commonly remark how welcome they feel when they arrive at Grace. Two words: Joe Gassaway.

Jon Mott, Jim Ladley, Paul Meloon, and Dave Yuhnke have cared for our behind-the-scenes audio/visual needs for years. They serve tirelessly and without complaint. They are also phenomenal dads.

Don Childs served as treasurer for 25 years and is a current trustee. He gave a testimony of God’s faithfulness through these many years and his desire for younger generations to reap the benefits of our sacrifices and be positioned on the front lines of faith along with us.

Bob Greathouse, as our chairman of trustees, closed the service by announcing the Gateway to Grace Campaign commitment total. $150,000 was needed. God made a vision reality with $155,715 in pledges.

 

Youth who serve. Young people are learning that church isn’t about them. The what’s-in-it-for-me attitude is shifting to a what-can-I-do approach. They recognize they are not just the church of the future but the church of the present. And how they live and serve right now in their youth matters for eternity. Several teens participated in the service via special music and distributing campaign commitment cards. Thank you Nate Grammatico, Sam Bartz, Isaac Ladley, Lindsay Ladley, Bailey Faucett, Brandon Faucett, Hannah Scarborough, Karissa Kesler and Eric Stroud. Keep up the great work serving the Lord!

Blended generations. Older people are investing in younger people. As they serve, they are inviting the younger to serve along with them. Mike Grammatico and his grandson, Nate, treated us to a stirring saxophone duet. Denny Morrill participated in the trumpet trio along with Pastor Shirk and Brandon Ricci. Kenn Fillion led in prayer before the teens collected commitment cards.Pastor, Brandon Ricci, Denny Morrill - Trumpet Trio

A heart for outreach. How do you know if a church has a heart for outreach? Easy. If its people are doing it. If they’re doing it, then they don’t need the church to convince them to reach out. They don’t depend on the church to program outreach and then use it as an excuse to avoid personal evangelism. People with a heart for the lost not only engage personal evangelism, they give to it too.   They put their money where their mouth is. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Thank you, Grace family, for generously engaging the vision for Gateway to Grace!

This coming Sunday is Firstfruits Sunday and our first opportunity to give toward our campaign commitments.