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    ThuThursdayAugAugust31st2017 Take, Eat; This is My Body.

    If someone in front you in a cafeteria line reached over, picked up a loaf of bread, handed it to you, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matt 26:26), wouldn’t you think him a bit daft? I suspect two questions would immediately come to your mind: “Does he really believe that the bread really is his body?” and, “Why is he telling me this?”

    Our church teaches when Jesus broke bread with his disciples the night he was betrayed, the bread in his hands was not really his body and when we partake of the bread today at the Lord’s Supper, his body is not present in the bread, actually, really, or spiritually. The bread is a symbol of his body, broken for us.


    As for why Jesus is telling us that the bread is his body, Jesus himself supplies the answer: “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19).


    A third, very practical, question comes to mind: What exactly are we to remember? I can think of two initial answers. First, we are to remember that he died for us. His body was given for us. Second, he is coming again: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” (1 Cor 11:26) A third answer comes to mind but it will take a bit of explanation.


    Look closely at what he said: “This [the bread] is my body… take and eat it [the bread/his body]… Do this [the eating] in remembrance of me.” The eating itself is the remembrance. Of course, we should not just “go through the motions”, as if the eating itself has merit if our minds are elsewhere. But he didn’t say, “Eat something, whatever you want, and think about me.” He called the bread his body and then commanded us to eat it, not anything else, and eat it in remembrance of him, not eat it and remember him. But why would eating bread be a remembrance?


    The answer is right in front us: Eating the bread is a remembrance because the bread is a symbol of Jesus and especially his body broken for us. When we eat the bread, we are eating his body symbolically.” Dare I say that we are pretending to eat his body?


    This “pretending” is important: It’s not child’s play and, as long as everyone understands that we are pretending, it’s not lying. We watch people pretend every time we go to a play or movie. When a couple renews their vows, they are pretending they are getting married for the first time. Hobbyists and historians re-enact great battles or great speeches. The pretending helps strengthen our experience and our thinking. The point is this:  Jesus wants us to think “I am eating his body” when we partake of the bread.


    It’s a symbol, but what a potent symbol! “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) He nourishes us, he strengthens us, he refreshes us, we can’t go a day without him, we enjoy him. All that is symbolized when we eat the bread. Think about these things the next time and each time you partake of the Lord’s Supper: he died for us, he’s coming again, and he is our bread of life!


    Dan has written two previous Elder Blog posts about communion, you can read them here:
    ThuThursdayAugAugust24th2017 Doing Church Without God
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Dependence 0 comments Add comment

    What comes to your mind when you think of the church? Are there any images or analogies that you tend to gravitate toward?

    In his book A Light to the Nations, Michael Goheen suggests a few ways that the average Christian might think of the church in our current cultural climate. Perhaps you can relate to some of these:

    • Church as mall or food court: A variety of programs and services are offered to meet the diverse wants and needs of the congregation.
    • Church as community center: A social context is created where people who share the same beliefs or personal interests can be drawn together.
    • Church as corporation: An emphasis on efficiency and growth drives the congregation to create a brand and market itself for the sake of “profit.”
    • Church as theater: A venue is provided for congregants in which they can sit back and passively enjoy a worship experience built around entertainment.
    • Church as classroom: A comprehensive education in both doctrine and practical living is provided as congregants take on the role of students.
    • Church as hospital or spa: A healing and rejuvenating retreat is offered to those who are wounded or weary from the troubles of the world.
    • Church as motivational seminar: A self-help program is offered to those looking for a weekly pep talk or practical tool kit to navigate the challenges of life.
    • Church as social-service office: A sense of compassion and justice manifests itself in social programs and physical assistance for those in need.
    • Church as campaign headquarters: A political cause is advanced by those who seek to influence the direction of society and push for a more Christianized culture.

    Goheen points out, “Clearly there are many valid activities represented in these images of the church. The church should be teaching, caring for the poor, providing social connections, and so on” (p. 16). But there are a number of problems with these images, as well—among which is the fact that each of them describes the church in such a way that its objectives can be achieved through mere human effort.

    By comparing the church to other man-made institutions, we implicitly suggest that our churchly responsibilities can be perfected and mastered through our own skill and ingenuity. We can create programs and add them to our menu of offerings. We can create marketing strategies and generate growth. We can put on a good show and keep people entertained.

    But although it may bring a certain level of comfort to define the church in a way that lets us be in control, any such view of the church is woefully deficient. The church is a wild sort of thing. It can’t be domesticated and led around by a leash. The more we try to do so, the more we miss the point of the church altogether.

    The church is God’s people on God’s mission, seeking God’s glory and strengthened by God’s power. To reduce the church to a mere social club or theater or food court is to strip it of its very identity. Take God out of the church, and what’s left isn’t a church at all.

    Consider the images we discover in Scripture to describe the church. Many of them clearly point to the fact that we can’t do this on our own. The body of Christ (Rom. 12:5; Col. 1:18) can’t survive without its head. The temple of the living God (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 2:21) is nothing more than a hollow shell without God’s presence. The new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:15) has no existence apart from the Creator.

    However we envision the church, we need to be careful to do so in a way that prioritizes the indispensable role of our triune God. Corporations and classrooms and community centers are wonderful things. But they can’t come close to capturing the deep sense of dependence that we should feel as members of God’s new covenant community.

    Has your perception of the church pushed God to the margins? If so, let me encourage you to enlarge your vision. Don’t settle for one of the images in the list above. Let your view of the church be so impressively gigantic that you’re left with nothing to say but, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”

    WedWednesdayAugAugust2nd2017 Show Kids Jesus
    byWill Peycke Tagged Children Church Teaching 0 comments Add comment

    Last month, two of my kids ambushed me on a Saturday night. Here’s the gist of how it started:

    First child: “I don’t want to go to church tomorrow. Can we skip this week?”

    Me: “No, we are not going to skip church this week.”

    Second Child: “Why not? I already know all of the Bible stories.”

    Yikes! Those are some big questions! Parents, how would you respond?

    If I hadn’t recalled this article by Trevin Wax, I think I would have stumbled and bumbled a bit. But my children’s inquiry was so eerily familiar to the question Wax recounts from his son that it jogged my memory. What could have been a major fumble turned into a great conversation about the reasons why we go to church in the first place.

    You can read the article for yourself if you want a more detailed response, but here’s the short version: We don’t go to church to learn information, although that can be a helpful part of what we do there. The reason why we go to church is to grow in our faith and love for God and to praise him together with other believers.

    Or to put it negatively: Regardless of your age, skipping church won’t seem like a big deal if your reason for going is anything other than Jesus.

    Several of our children’s ministry workers have been reading through a fantastic book this year called Show Them Jesus. Here’s an excerpt about why so many of those who grow up in church walk away from God as young adults:

    Today, a frightening number of kids are growing up in churches and Christian homes without ever being captured by the gospel of Jesus. . . . These kids actually have good reasons to quit. They look back and realize that they learned much about Christian behavior and churchy experiences, but whatever they learned about Jesus didn’t really change them. They never saw him so strikingly that he became their one, overriding hope and their greatest love. They were never convinced that Jesus is better—a zillion times better—than anything and everything else. Our goal must be for kids to catch this rock-their-world vision of Jesus. (Klumpenhower, pp. 3-4)

    If you have kids, you’ve probably noticed the new curriculum we started using this summer: The Gospel Project for Kids. (As a side note, The Gospel Project is edited by Trevin Wax, whose article I referenced earlier.) I appreciate the positive feedback I’ve been hearing from teachers, parents, and children. We want to set our teachers and parents up for success, and good curriculum is a tool that helps us do that.

    What I most appreciate about The Gospel Project, however, is the perspective it brings on what really matters in children’s ministry. It’s ultimately not which curriculum we use (although we do want to provide our teachers with excellent materials). It’s not the appearance of our facility (although atmosphere and environment do matter). It’s not how much fun the kids have while they’re here or how excited they are about the games, snacks, or crafts. It’s not how many friends they look forward to seeing in their class each week. It’s not even how many Bible verses they learn.

    Those are all good things, but none of them is the best thing. None of them is why Kossuth Street Baptist Church is here. None of them is why numerous volunteers invest countless hours with kids every week. Not even close.

    The reason why we are here, the reason why we do what we do, is the surpassing worth of Jesus (Phil. 3:8). Our calling is to show kids over and over, week after week, how Jesus is better than anything and everything else. It’s parents and teachers partnering together to engage kids in the gospel story and impress their hearts with a love for Jesus.

    I’m thankful that The Gospel Project helps us move in that direction, but no curriculum is a “silver bullet.” Whether you are a children’s worker, parent, or grandparent, our mission is the same: in your words and with your life, keep showing kids Jesus. 

    WedWednesdayJulJuly26th2017 The Paradoxes of Church Membership
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Membership 1 comments Add comment

    If you’re a church member, have you ever stopped to think about how weird you are? Because you are. Very, very weird.

    But don’t take it personally. It really has nothing to do with you. (You’re totally normal. I promise.) Instead, the weirdness has to do with the nature of church membership itself.

    Most of us have probably joined a club. Or been a part of a family. Or played on a team. And so we might be tempted to assume that being a church member is roughly the same thing. But there’s really nothing quite like church membership.

    Although the uniqueness of church membership manifests itself in many ways, today I’d like to point your attention to just one aspect of that: the strangely paradoxical expectations to which church members find themselves called. Let me explain.

    One of the things we know about church members is that they must be submissive. God has appointed leaders over his church, and he expects those leaders to be followed, respected, honored, and obeyed. The church should not be a disordered group of rogues in which everyone is going their own way, doing whatever is right in their own eyes. Rather, there should be a unified spirit of humble submission.

    But at the same time, a church member must be discerning. Leaders are fallen, faulty human beings, just like everyone else. And this means that they can easily be wrong. They can abuse power. They can rebel against God. They can teach what is false. In such cases, being a church member means knowing how to identify a wayward leader and deciding when not to follow.

    Or consider another example. A church member is needy. You come into the community of faith with areas of spiritual immaturity. You lack wisdom and understanding. Your ability to follow Jesus is still developing. In some cases, you may even have physical, financial, or other practical needs. And the church should be a place where you can be honest about your needs and allow others to meet them.

    But there’s a paradox here, because a church member should also be generous. You have been given gifts to be used for the edification and encouragement of your brothers and sisters. You have been given resources that God expects you to share. Even though you have needs of your own, God calls you to proactively meet the needs of others. You give, even as you receive.

    One last example: A church member should be restful. At the very heart of Christianity is the idea that we do not earn our salvation. Instead, we cast ourselves upon mercy and rest in what Jesus has done on our behalf. This means that we don’t need to be at the church building every time the doors are open, running around like a chicken with its head cut off, feverishly trying to prove something to God or to others. Our work is done, and Jesus is the one who has done it.

    But church membership brings a responsibility to be active, as well. We can’t just sit on the sidelines while everyone else does the works of service and ministry that make the church tick. Laziness is not an option. God has given us a globe-sized task, and we shouldn’t slack off until that task has been accomplished. (And for those of you scoring along at home, note that this task still remains unfinished!)

    The point is that church membership requires a truly unique interplay between seemingly contradictory ideals. Submissive yet discerning. Needy yet generous. Restful yet active. (If you can think of more such paradoxes, leave them in the comments below!) To be a church member is not a simple task.

    What tends to happen, however, is that we like to embrace one side of the paradox while overlooking the other. We veer toward what is most comfortable or natural. We try to eliminate the complexity. We stick to what’s straightforward and simple.

    But although simplicity might be easy, it’s not what church membership is meant to be. To reduce your role as a church member to something one-dimensional or one-sided is to lose what makes you unique.

    You’re supposed to be weird. So stay that way.

    ThuThursdayMarMarch16th2017 Shaking the Market Share Mindset
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Growth Outreach 2 comments Add comment

    Suppose that you work as an executive for the Superior Widget Company. It’s a relatively small business with modest sales, but your goal is to lead the company to expand. So you beef up your marketing efforts and resource your sales team. You revisit your product design and give greater attention to quality control. You make changes in your personnel and bring in new talent. All in an effort to sell more widgets and expand your company’s influence.

    How will you know if these efforts have worked? How will you measure success?

    I’m a pastor, so I probably shouldn’t be answering that question. But one metric that you might choose in evaluating your company’s growth is that of market share—basically, the percentage of all the widgets sold that have the Superior Widget Company logo on them. After all, other companies are selling widgets, too. And in order for you to grow, you’ll either have to attract new customers to the market (i.e. people who don’t currently buy widgets), or else you’ll have to take someone else’s customers (i.e. people who used to buy another company’s widgets). In either event, growth will involve increasing your market share at the expense of someone else’s.

    When it comes to evaluating church success, I find that it’s easy to approach it with this same market share mindset. As a congregation, we want to grow. We want people to join our ranks. We want to see lives transformed. But often the way we try to measure that growth is by comparing ourselves to others.

    Imagine a city with three churches. The first has 400 people, the second has 200 people, and the third has 50 people. Looking at those numbers with a market share mindset, it’s easy to see that the first church is the most successful. (If my math serves me correctly, they have a 62% market share…very impressive!)

    But what if the third church is an ambitious, outreach-oriented church plant that quickly explodes from 50 to 500 members? The first church may not have declined at all (they still have 400 people), but all of a sudden, the market has expanded and their share has plummeted to 36% as a result. Their status as the successful church in town is in serious jeopardy. Their members begin to look around and wonder what has gone wrong. Meanwhile, the 500-person church is riding high, having become the new market leaders.

    If we bring a market share mindset to the local church, then our standard for success will always be tied to what’s happening around us. What churches are growing? What churches are struggling? And how do we compare?

    But I want to suggest that the market share mindset is a dangerous—and unbiblical—way to grade ourselves. Not only does it distort our perception of what God is actually doing in our midst, but it also turns colleagues into competitors.

    Just this week I had lunch with a pastor friend who leads another church in Lafayette. He told me remarkable stories of God saving people in recent weeks through the ministry of his congregation—one after the other. At one point, he looked at me and said, “Drew, I can’t explain this stuff. It’s the work of God!”

    Now when I hear that, I have a choice to make. I can sulk and think to myself, “No fair! Why is that church growing, leaving ours to settle for a smaller market share?” Or, I can smile and say from the heart with genuine joy, “Praise God for the growth of the gospel!”

    The fact is, we’re not in competition with other churches. We’re in partnership with them. Regardless of what their music sounds like, or what Bible translation they use, or how they define their leadership structures, we’re all working for the same Lord, seeking to advance the same gospel, calling people into the same kingdom.

    You may look up at bigger churches with envy. Or you may look down at smaller churches with pride. But in both cases, you’re missing the point. When any gospel-preaching local church grows, we all win! It doesn’t matter whose church logo gets to accompany the work of God. In the end, it’s ultimately the work of God. And in that work, we rejoice.

    So let’s be zealous for growth, driven by a healthy sense of Godward ambition. But let’s resolve to measure that growth not by comparing ourselves to the church next door, but by assessing our faithfulness to the unique opportunities God gives to us. Whether we’re the biggest church in town or the smallest, let’s be the best church we can be.

    In the end, there really are no market shares. Here, Christ is all, and in all.

    ThuThursdayMarMarch9th2017 4 Things I Dislike About My Drive to Church
    byMikel Berger Tagged Church Neighbors Outreach 0 comments Add comment

    There might not be anything I consider more mundane in my life than driving to church on a Sunday morning. I do it the vast majority of weeks out of the year. Traffic is pretty light in the Greater Lafayette area on a Sunday morning. So it almost always takes 17 minutes. I can pretty much do it in my sleep. But this last Sunday was different. I have traveled a lot lately. So this last Sunday was the first time I made that drive in almost a month. Maybe it was the break from the routine but it caused me to notice a few things I don’t like.

    1. Not noticing my family. The difference in my attitude at 8:40 am versus 9:40am or 10:40am is pretty amazing. At 8:40am, I’m likely sitting in our car in the garage growing increasingly angry at my wife and kids because we’re 10 minutes past the time agreed upon time for the car to roll out, and I’m the only one in the vehicle. At 9:40am, I’m diving into God’s word with my Connection Hour class. At 10:40am, I’m singing to God with you all. All this praise to God and I’m just an hour removed from some pretty uncharitable thoughts from those on earth dearest to me. I wonder how my own heart can be so fickle.

    2. Not noticing the students. I live just west of the city limits of West Lafayette. I can take about three different routes to church and they all take roughly the same amount of time. I can go near campus and the over 40,000 students it houses from countries and religions as varied as you’ll find in any major city. I wonder what they think of this town in the middle of some corn fields.

    3. Not noticing the longtime residents. I can go through the older parts of Lafayette near downtown. There are the World War II era homes (and earlier) housing people who by the constant rental signs don’t plan to stick around very long. But there are the same homes who, as evidenced by the ongoing meticulous care, are likely inhabited by someone who has lived there for decades. I wonder what they think about this town that I now call home that they’ve called home for much longer.

    4. Not noticing the growth.I can drive on the new 231 past new office buildings and expanding subdivisions. They house young professionals seeking to make their mark in the world. Regardless of if they see this area as a stepping stone to something bigger and better or the home base for their professional goals, I wonder how the gospel is impacting their goals.

    Looking over this list, the common theme is that I get in my own routine, get focused on myself, and miss out on what God is doing in that very routine. I like to travel. It’s exciting to learn about what God is doing in other places. But not when it is at the expense of what he is doing right here. Travel often breaks me out of my routines so that I can see more clearly what opportunities God has put me in the middle of, even if to me they seem boring and routine.

    An even better reminder of those opportunities than some travel is the command from Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20:

    And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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."

    However exotic or boring you consider your “go” doesn't matter. The excitement comes from doing something commanded by and along with Jesus. Go therefore.

    WedWednesdayNovNovember2nd2016 This Time Next Week
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Events Politics 2 comments Add comment

    As I write this sentence, my computer tells me that it’s 8:44am on Wednesday, November 2, 2016. There’s nothing particularly magical about that time or that date (that I know of). But what is significant about it is that in exactly one week from right now, the United States will likely have a new president-elect. After a late night of ballot-counting and exhaustive news coverage, we’ll finally know which states went blue, which states went red, and who will be occupying the White House as our next Commander in Chief.

    By this time next week, some of you will have voted for Donald Trump. Hearing his pledge to appoint pro-life Supreme Court justices and his commitment to growing the American economy and his conservative position on social issues, you’ve become convinced that there’s no other option. He is our nation’s best chance of moving in a positive direction over the course of the next four years. You understand that he has some character flaws and a volatile personality, but it’s a gamble you feel you must make.

    Others of you will have voted for Hillary Clinton. In looking at her commitment to education, her attention to national poverty, or her compassionate stance toward sojourners and refugees, you see a candidate who aligns with your convictions about social justice. Sure, there are a few things you don’t agree with. But given the options, the choice is clear. She is the only candidate with the political experience and the presidential disposition that is required to lead this nation.

    There will also be some of you who will have voted for a third-party candidate. You’ve seen the televised debates, you’ve read the interviews, you’ve researched the positions, and in good conscience you can’t vote for either the Republican or the Democratic candidate. Whether it’s because of alarming questions about their integrity or deep disagreement about where they stand on the issues, you simply can’t cast a vote for either one. Some tell you that you’re wasting your vote, but you believe a convictional stance is never wasted, regardless of how unpopular it is.

    And then there may well be some who will have stayed home on election day. You’ll intentionally avoid the voting booth, not because you’re apathetic or lazy, but because you believe your civic responsibility can best be exercised through protest. By telling the political establishment that you’re tired of seeing less-than-desirable candidates on the ballot, you hope to see change brought to the political process as a whole, thus benefiting the country in the long term.

    One way or another, by this time next week you will have exercised your right to vote. And you likely will have done so differently than someone in your care group, differently than someone in the pew next to you on Sunday, and differently than someone teaching your kids on Wednesday night.

    How do you feel about that?

    People joke all the time about churches splitting over the color of the carpet. And I’m sure this sort of thing has happened. But the much more pressing danger seems to be churches fracturing over more deeply-held (and fiercely-defended) convictions. Like political beliefs. And voting practices.

    We should recognize that in the wake of a contentious election, the church is vulnerable. Division is lurking. And unless we’re prepared for how we’ll interact with people who have voted differently than us (and feel differently about the outcome of the election than we do), we’ll be in big trouble.

    So that’s why I’m inviting you to join us this Sunday evening at 6:00pm for our monthly Family Gathering. If you’ve fallen out of the habit of attending these monthly meetings, this is a great chance to plug back in. We’re going to spend some time praying for the upcoming election, and I’m looking forward to teaching on how we should think about this election in such a way as to preserve Christian unity in the wake of political disagreement. The goal is for this to be a practical, relevant, and unifying time.

    Regardless of how you plan to vote, I hope you’ll join us as we learn together how to love our enemies—and those who vote for them.

    UPDATE: The audio from this talk is now available. You can listen to it here.
    WedWednesdayOctOctober19th2016 3 Myths of Singleness
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Singleness 2 comments Add comment

    If you conduct a search for “marriage” in the sermon series archive at SermonAudio.com, you’ll find some 300 results. Taking a conservative average of eight sermons per series, that comes out to roughly 2,400 total sermons. To put that in perspective, if you were to listen to one sermon per day, it would take you until the spring of 2023 to get through all of them.

    On the other hand, if you do another search, this time for “singleness,” you’ll find exactly six results. Even if we naively assume that all the sermons in these six series are exclusively about the unique challenges and joys of singleness (which is unlikely since three of the series include the word “marriage” in the title as well), that would still only be 52 individual sermons. Tackle one of those per day, and you’ll be done by early December.

    Now this isn’t exactly the most scientific form of research. But nevertheless I think the data is fairly indicative of what many church-goers could confirm through personal experience. In general, the church talks much more about marriage and family than it does about singleness. And considering the fact that over 50 percent of the adult population is single (according to a 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics report), this imbalance is problematic.

    One of the regrettable results of this collective silence is the fact that many Christians have unknowingly bought into misleading myths about singleness in the church. Although our intentions may be good, our lack of conversation about singleness has led us to believe things that simply aren’t true. And although this isn’t the time or place to make an exhaustive list of such myths, I’ll briefly highlight three. Hopefully these will spark some of your own thoughts about how we misconstrue singleness in the church.

    Myth 1: Single people joyfully embrace the gift of singleness. The fact of the matter is that singleness is hard. And many single people genuinely struggle with their position in life. It’s easy to romanticize singleness and think that every single person lives in a perpetually serene state of “Jesus-is-my-husband” satisfaction. But many battle bitterness and resentment. To expect them to be perfectly content in their singleness is dangerous and unloving. The church should be a place where our single brothers and sisters can be open about their struggles, free to speak honestly about their experiences and their longings.

    Myth 2: Single people aren’t trying hard enough to get married. Sure, there are rare cases of apathetic, unmotivated single people who are cavalier about potential relationships. But the single people I know aren’t lazy. They’re not letting opportunities pass them by. They’re not fluttering their lives away on frivolous activities. They’re prayerfully and submissively following God. And at this point in their lives, God hasn’t led them to a mate. So instead of burdening them with guilt for not scrounging up a spouse, we should celebrate their faithfulness, purity, discernment, and patience. And perhaps more importantly, we should be seeking to learn from their example. In an “I-want-it-now” culture, our single brothers and sisters can be some of our most needed teachers.

    Myth 3: Single people are missing out on relational intimacy. Marriage is a wonderful thing, and it represents a bond between two humans that is truly extraordinary. But the Bible repeatedly affirms that there is a higher relational reality than even the marital or familial bond, and that reality is our communion with Christ and his church. Whether you’re married, widowed, or single for life, this bond of faith is readily available to you. And frankly, I’ve found that many single people are more tuned into this reality than their married brothers and sisters. Yes, singleness is hard. But I don’t know many single folks who are looking for pity. They don’t need it. Their relationships are meaningful, their friendships are deep, and in many cases they’re miles ahead of the rest of us in experiencing God’s beautiful design for community.

    What other myths about singleness in the church are you aware of? What are some of the false narratives you’ve been exposed to? Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

    ThuThursdaySepSeptember22nd2016 Evangelism and Empathy
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Evangelism Love 1 comments Add comment

    Perhaps you’ve seen the comedy sketch where Bob Newhart plays the part of a painfully direct psychologist. When a woman comes into his office with a debilitating phobia, he cuts right to the chase with two simple words of advice:

    If you think about it, the psychologist has a point. There’s a sense in which the woman truly does need to “stop it.” Her fears and destructive behaviors need to be put behind her if she is to have a healthy life.

    But at the same time, what makes the sketch so cringe-inducing (and hilarious) is the callous, naïve, unhelpful way in which the psychologist goes about trying to achieve this goal. From his comfortable seat behind the desk, he shows no understanding, no compassion, and certainly no appreciation for the complex nature of the human psyche. (This is why he dismisses any mention of childhood influences with the warning, “We don’t go there!”) Simply put, this psychologist just doesn’t get it.

    Although we may laugh (and rightly so) at this silly little sketch, I find it to be quite sobering, as well.

    As Christians, we are called to bear witness to Jesus wherever we go. We are ambassadors, sent into the world to share the good news and make disciples. We know the problem (sin), and we know the solution (Jesus). But it can be all too easy to forget that there’s more to evangelism than that. And when we forget this, we often end up just like the psychologist, shouting the gospel equivalent of “stop it” at those we come in contact with.

    Recently I got to interact with my friend Aaron about John Stott’s book Christian Mission in the Modern World. And in the course of our conversation, I was reminded of this great excerpt from the book:

    "It is surely one of the most characteristic failures of us Christians, not least of us who are called evangelical Christians, that we seldom seem to take seriously this principle of the incarnation... It comes more natural to us to shout the gospel at people from a distance than to involve ourselves deeply in their lives, to think ourselves into their culture and their problems, and to feel with them in their pains."

    Simply bludgeoning others with cold, hard facts may feel like faithful gospel proclamation. But if we’re doing this without taking the time to get to know them or understand their unique doubts, dreams, and fears, it’s merely a cheap substitute for what Jesus has called us to do.

    This is why Michael Frost, in his book Incarnate, exhorts Christians to go meet people where they are:

    "We need to get out of the house. We need to move into the neighborhood and rub shoulders with those who don't yet share our faith. We need to develop joint practices or habits with like-minded followers of Jesus that bind us more deeply to God, to each other, and which propel us outward into the lives of others, especially the poor, the lost and the lonely."

    The world doesn’t need a bunch of Christians huddled together in church buildings shouting, “Stop it!” at everyone who happens to walk by. What the world needs is evangelism and empathy—a loving band of Christ-followers who will patiently listen, seek to understand, show that we care, and then faithfully bring the gospel to bear in the lives of those who are lost.

    The good news is that Jesus has already paved the way for us. In his incarnation, he took on our nature, lived among us, and shared in our suffering. So as we follow him and pursue his likeness, let us also reflect his empathy. We have a Savior who cared for others; let’s be Christians who do the same. 

    ThuThursdayJunJune16th2016 Women of Kossuth
    byAbraham Cremeens Tagged Church Womanhood 0 comments Add comment

    I recently received an email from someone in our community asking for our church’s stance on women in leadership. She was direct in where she stood, which I appreciated. I shared that, according to our Statement of Faith, we hold that certain offices and teaching positions are reserved for men. I invited her into a conversation that would allow me to share all the ways we equip, empower, and love (and are benefited by) women in our church. Although I was not given the opportunity, I decided to use that exchange as an excuse to brag on the women of Kossuth for a while. In fact, I’d like to address our women specifically. Men, feel free to listen in, but this is a thank you to our ladies, both young and old.

    First, thank you for being the women that you are. There is a quality and spiritual maturity that you bring to this church family (and our city) that is so encouraging. You know God and his will for your life and you are active in pursuing him. I genuinely respect your convictions and knowledge of God’s Word.

    Second, thank you for the ways you serve others around you. You love people. Care and concern come out of you naturally. Rather than being apathetic, you are sympathetic. And that sympathy and care leads you to action. I am aware that often prayer requests and needs are expressed on the women’s Facebook page and that those needs are consistently met. You get each other’s back and make sure no one is left behind.

    Third, thank you for all the ways you effectively help others grow spiritually. I can think of several who are mentoring and discipling other women, formally and informally. You sacrifice your free time to make an eternal investment in others. I can think of recent testimonies from younger and older ladies in our church that have brought tremendous glory to God and expressed a faith worthy to imitate. Thank you to our women’s ministry leadership team and the gifted women who teach. Thank you to those who organize our nursery and children’s ministry teams, and to those who serve on them. Thank you for your involvement in worship ministries, outreach to our city, and welcoming guests on Sunday morning. Thank you for how you love your neighbors and co-workers in ways that we never get to see. The list is too long to include everyone and all areas of impact. But know that we are grateful for all of it.

    Thank you for the helpful ways you influence leadership again and again. As an elder, I can honestly and genuinely say that I am grateful for the many ways you make this church great through your influence of leadership decisions. This is not to mention how grateful I am for how much you pray for leadership at Kossuth.

    Women of Kossuth, this church is better because of you. Women of Kossuth, the kingdom is advancing more aggressively because of you. Women of Kossuth, thank you for being the women you are and for the ways you love God and people.

    Reader, I make one request. By the time many of you read this, nearly twenty Kossuth women will be at The Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference in Indianapolis (June 16-18). Please pray for our women who are attending. And let that springboard into further prayer for our women in general.

    ThuThursdayJunJune9th2016 The Other Side of Pastoring
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Joy Leaders 0 comments Add comment

    If you were able to be a part of the gathering this past Sunday, I hope the sermon served to deepen your gratitude for the men that serve our church as pastors. The task that God has set before them is a daunting one, and it is often accompanied by tremendous sacrifice. As Brian Croft has provocatively said, “If you want to be a pastor but aren’t willing to suffer, do something else.”

    But lest you think that being a pastor is all misery and pain, I think it’s worth taking a moment to consider the other side of pastoring. The sacrificial nature of church leadership is an undeniable reality, but it’s not the whole story.

    When Paul wrote his letter to the church at Ephesus (the same church whose elders he addressed in Acts 20), he spoke of how thankful he was for the believers there and the privilege of ministering among them (Eph. 1:16, 3:7-13). When he wrote to the Philippians, he spoke even more openly of his joy-filled gratitude for them, addressing them as “my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown” (Phil. 1:3-4, 4:1). In the book of Colossians, Paul doesn’t hide his suffering, but he’s able to say in the midst of it, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake” (Col. 1:24).

    The apostle Paul certainly didn’t have it easy. In his ministry, he faced physical harm, emotional heartbreak, and spiritual opposition. But in reading his letters, one gets the sense that he truly enjoyed the calling God had given to him.

    This is true of the pastors at Kossuth as well.

    It would be a mistake to think that our pastoring is all fun and games, all the time. But it would be no less of a mistake to assume that it therefore is a dismal job that we reluctantly and begrudgingly fulfill. I polled the other elders, and here are a few of the highlights we collectively came up with that make shepherding the saints of Kossuth Street Baptist Church such a delight:

    • Having a front-row seat to God’s work of transforming lives all throughout the church body.
    • Seeing how people with their own burdens selflessly initiate ministry to others who are in need.
    • Interacting with new people coming into the church family.
    • Hearing of how God’s grace has been bestowed in different ways to different people at different points in their lives.
    • Being part of the launch, strengthening, and revitalization of marriages.
    • Watching people respond to the preaching and teaching of God’s word in concrete ways.
    • Having a chance to be near to those who are walking through tough times.
    • Regularly praying for people (and with them).
    • Helping people find opportunities to exercise their spiritual gifts for the advance of the gospel.
    • Studying, learning, and growing in our understanding of biblical truth.
    • Spending time together as a pastoral team.

    In Hebrews 13:17, the church is exhorted to make sure that its leaders carry out their calling “with joy and not with groaning.” The reason for this is that gloomy, downcast leaders are of no value to the church. Joy-filled shepherds bless the flock.

    We’re not perfect leaders by any means, and from time to time the temptation to “groan” can be strong. But as elders, we’re thankful to serve a gathering of godly people who make pastoring such a tremendous joy. Despite its challenges, the pastoral calling is one we delight in. By God’s grace, we’ll be faithful to sacrifice for the flock. But by his grace, we’ll do so with joy and gratitude, embracing the privilege of being your pastors.

    ThuThursdayAprApril7th2016 Covenants and Their Signs
    byDan Dillon Tagged Church Covenant Lord's Supper 0 comments Add comment

    What does it mean when someone says, “You need to have a personal relationship with Jesus?” Do they mean we should have an emotional relationship with Jesus? An intimate relationship? A relationship from the heart and not just of external observance? Or is it is just another way to say, “You need to be saved”? It’s not always clear to me. Plus, the phrase “personal relationship” is not in the Bible. Is there a better way to talk about our relationship with Jesus?

    How about “You need to have a covenant relationship with Jesus”? God made a covenant with Abraham and his offspring (Gen. 17). When Israel was enslaved in Egypt, God remembered his covenant with Abraham (Ex. 2:24). When the future of Israel looked bleak, God promised that he would make a new covenant with his people (Jer. 31:31-34). And Jesus is the new covenant (Heb. 8:6-12)!

    But what is a covenant? Wayne Grudem defines it as, “An unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement between God and man that stipulates the conditions of their relationship.” “Legal” is not the best word, because a “covenant” is not just a contract, like buying your house or ordering parts for your business. Contracts are typically limited in scope and duration. A covenant is a comprehensive, continuous commitment. That commitment creates intimacy. When God creates a covenant and says, I will be your God, he is committing himself to us. In return, he expects us to commit ourselves to him: You will be my people (Heb. 8:10). What an awesome God we serve!

    Covenants have signs: ceremonies to initiate and remember the covenant. Married couples use rings as signs of the marriage covenant. Circumcision was the sign of initiating the Old Covenant. The various ceremonies, especially Passover, were ways to remember the Old Covenant. What are the New Covenant signs?

    In a previous blog post, we established that Baptism and Communion are ceremonies: things that we do as a church that do not fit neatly into a two-part theology of “Believe this; now demonstrate your belief by giving yourself over to good works”. Their significance lies in the fact that they are ceremonial signs of the covenant: Baptism is the initiating sign of the covenant; Communion is sign by which we remember the covenant. Jesus is quite explicit about the connection between Communion and covenant: “[F]or this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt 26:28)

    Let’s end with a practical question: How important is it to regularly participate in Communion? To answer the question, imagine this: What happens when a man forgets his anniversary? Does not his wife wonder, “Has he not been looking forward to this day, planning for it? Has his love grown cold?” When someone neglects the signs of the covenant, we begin to wonder about their commitment to the covenant.

    Do you get excited about participating in Communion? We occasionally offer it Sunday morning, but regularly offer it at Family Gathering. If you’re not in the habit of attending Family Gathering, one way that you can grow in your commitment to your covenant relationship with Jesus is by making this time a regular part of your monthly schedule. It breaks my heart that only about half the church attends Family Gathering when we offer Communion. Attending Family Gathering in the evening takes a bit of extra effort to attend, but not a great deal of strenuous effort. Participating in Communion is a God-ordained (God-commanded!) way of rejoicing, remembering and recommitting to our Lord as an assembled church. We should be eager to do that any time we have the opportunity.

    WedWednesdayOctOctober14th2015 4 Tips for Listening to Sermons
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Sermons Worship 1 comments Add comment

    How many sermons do you think you’ll hear in your lifetime?

    If you’ve been in a church service most Sundays since birth (like I have), and if you live to be 80 years old, then simple math would predict that you’ll hear over 4,000 sermons. Supposing an average length of 40 minutes per sermon, this means you’ll sit through approximately 2,667 hours of preaching during your life. And that doesn’t even count all the other times you’ll listen to Bible teaching (at retreats, at conferences, on the radio, on podcasts, or in classes).

    The point is that if you’re going to be involved in a church, you’re going to listen to a lot of preaching. And if you’re going to listen to a lot of preaching, wouldn’t you like to make the most of it? Nobody wants to waste 2,667 hours of their lives!

    Although there are many things that could be said to help you maximize the hours you’ll spend in the pew, here are four quick ideas that will get you started:

    1. Prepare your heart. When properly understood and practiced, a sermon is not a collection of the preacher’s thoughts and ideas; it is a message from God’s word for God’s people. This means that you can prepare for it by cultivating an attitude of humility. Through prayer and reflection, get your heart ready to listen to God. And if you find that task to be difficult, then use the singing time to help you warm your heart to the goodness of God in the gospel so that you are ready to listen to him in his word.

    2. Prepare your mind. Having your heart in the right place is important, but you also need to get your mind ready to engage ideas and follow along with what is being said. For some this might be as simple as going to bed earlier on Saturday night. For others this might mean putting the phone away before you enter the sanctuary. Maybe you need to start taking notes to help you follow along—or stop taking notes, because you get too wrapped up in writing down every minute detail. The goal is a mind operating at full capacity.

    3. Know what you’re doing. When the preacher is 20 minutes into the sermon, and you’re starting to get drowsy, it’s always good to remind yourself why you’re there. You’re not there to pass time or do your weekly religious duty. You’re not there to frantically memorize all the sub-points or merely make it to the end with your eyes still open. You’re there to understand and respond to God’s word. That’s a sacred task! So focus on that and let the significance of the task inform your attitude and outlook.

    4. Make a return trip. If you walk out of the sermon and do nothing with what you’ve heard, then guess what – you’ll end up doing nothing with what you’ve heard. So if you took notes, find a time to review them later in the week. If you want to process a part of the sermon more slowly, go back and listen to that section again online. And perhaps most importantly: find ways to use the truth of the sermon in your daily conversations—with your family, your friends, your care group, or anyone else. This will help translate the truths you’ve heard into real life practice.

    These are simple suggestions. But I’m confident that they can go a long way toward helping you get the most out of all those sermons you’ll hear. May God continue to use his word to bless his people! 

    ThuThursdayOctOctober8th2015 Work in Progress
    byDan Dillon Tagged Church Leaders News 1 comments Add comment

    If you’ve ever worked in a manufacturing company, you’re familiar with term “Work in Progress” (WIP). It’s the stuff on the manufacturing floor, between parts in inventory and final product sitting in the warehouse. Most manufacturers have a lot of WIP. They try to keep it to a minimum, but the only way to get it to zero is…do nothing. The elders have quite a bit of WIP right now. We thought we’d share a few.

    Deacon Nominations. We’ve been looking for deacons to help the Technology and Welcome teams. Thank you, KSBC members for many nominations we received. The number of nominations shows that you care for the welfare of the church. For the men nominated, it’s certainly an encouragement to receive recognition of their commitment to the church. We contacted each one; some decided to not proceed further, citing other commitments. The next phase is the interview phase. Once that phase is complete, we’ll present one or more names to the congregation for feedback. The final decision is made by the elders. We hope to complete the process by the end of the year.

    Statement of Faith Changes. Per a previous blog post, the elders are working on revising our Statement of Faith in light of the recent Supreme Court decision and the culture changes associated with it. Besides addressing the immediate issue (whether marriage between two people of the same sex is biblical), we hope to address other related issues and present a positive statement of the biblical view of marriage and sexuality. Finally, knowing that such statement will place us in conflict with the world, we are developing additional changes concerning a Christian’s relationship to the world in the face of conflict.  

    We are almost done with our work. Before we present it to the entire congregation for your approval, we want to get some additional feedback from others who can give the revisions a fresh, objective review. When we present it to the congregation, we will also spend some time discussing some of the pastoral issues associated with same-sex attraction.

    Five Year Plan. We kicked off the plan this summer. The “immediate” items have already started: new service times, a revised Connection Hour, and the start of the Year of Grace. A few of the “ongoing” items have already started, too: neighborhood outreach efforts started even before the plan kick-off. This past Sunday night, we reviewed one aspect of corporate worship: engaging our minds and hearts during the sermon. Look for more to come in the area of corporate worship.

    What can you do?

    Pray. We prayed this past Sunday at Family Gathering about these and other things. Now continue in prayer.

    Ask. If you have questions, please feel free to ask. Some things are confidential (e.g., the number and names of deacon candidates). Many things are in progress and so we can’t always give definite answers. But we don’t mind if you ask: it shows you’re interested and you care. In God’s providence, your input may be exactly what we need to hear.

    Participate. When we present one or more deacons, if you don’t know them, get to know them. When the proposed revisions to the Statement of Faith are presented, read them, review them, and learn from them. Consider helping out in our neighborhood outreach.

    It is a privilege to be at work for the sake of the church!

    ThuThursdayJulJuly23rd2015 The Future Is Bright
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Vision 0 comments Add comment

    We’ve had an eventful last couple weeks at Kossuth! First, we introduced a new ministry model to guide our church during this next season of ministry: Gather, Grow, Scatter. If this is the first time you’re seeing those three words next to each other, then be sure to check out the sermon I preached on July 12 or the Elder Blog post Abraham wrote last week. Both of those are important resources to introduce you to this exciting new way of thinking about how (and why) we do what we do as a church. 

    With that foundation set in place, this past Sunday during the Connection hour we were able to take the next step and introduce the four-tiered strategy that we have established that will allow us to address each of the three components of this new ministry model. We don’t just want to talk about gathering, growing, and scattering. We want to actually do them! That’s why we have set our sights on immediate, mid-range, long-term, and ongoing areas of focus. By God’s grace, we think these will help us gather, grow, and scatter well.

    Yet any time we’re planning for the future, there’s always an element of fear and uncertainty. What will happen? Will our plans prove successful? Or will they fizzle out in a pool of disappointment? While it can be tempting at a time like this to hedge our bets or temper our expectations, let me share just a few of the reasons why I’m optimistic about what’s in store. I think our future is bright, and here’s why:

    We’re building on a strong foundation. The fine print in financial services literature always says, “Past performance is no guarantee of future results.” That’s a necessary disclaimer in just about every area of life. But it doesn’t mean that the past is irrelevant. While the past doesn’t guarantee the future, it’s still a pretty good clue. Kossuth has a long and exceptional history of kingdom influence, and while this doesn’t promise anything, it certainly gives me reason to be encouraged. So much great work has already been done, and so many great things have already been accomplished. I think our past sets us up well for continued faithfulness and fruitfulness. It’s so much easier to move forward when you already have momentum!

    We’re surrounded by people who love Jesus and his gospel. It seems like every week I see new ways that our church is evidencing its faith in Jesus Christ and its love for all the saints (Col. 1:3-4). By no means is Kossuth a perfect church, because by no means are its members perfect people. On the contrary, we’re a bunch of royal messes! But by all accounts, this is a congregation that truly treasures Christ and is being transformed by his grace. Those of you who are sacrificing and suffering and fighting sin for the sake of Christ give me reason to look forward with eagerness. If we want to be a church full of people who passionately follow Jesus and join in his mission, it certainly won’t hurt that Kossuth has a whole army of people already doing that.

    We’re trusting a Savior who is building his church. Really, everything else pales in comparison to this: Jesus is at work in his church. And that includes Kossuth. Whenever I start to have doubts or entertain fears about the future, I remember that we can’t out-dream or out-plan Jesus. Even the loftiest goals we could put on paper are nothing compared to his cosmic designs to purify his church and lead her in victory over all of the enemies of the gospel. Ultimately, the future of Kossuth (and every local church) rests in the hands of the Master Builder against whom no hellish scheme can possibly prevail.

    I’ll take those odds any day.

    ThuThursdayJulJuly16th2015 Gather, Grow, Scatter
    byAbraham Cremeens Tagged Church Planning Vision 0 comments Add comment

    Gather. Grow. Scatter. What isn’t there to get excited about regarding those three words?

    What a long time coming. We have been talking about a strategic plan for so long (and rightly so…you don’t just throw together a major plan that will affect several years of ministry on a whim). God has been taking us on this incredible journey. And now that we are fully out from shore into this sea with a new horizon, it’s go time.

    But where do we start? Well, after plenty of coffee and numerous white boards filled to the edges, Drew and I (along with the rest of the elder team) offer these three words. These three words serve us in so many ways. They are a banner, something to wave and get behind as we march to new destinations. They are a process, a cyclical movement that is taking us somewhere, toward maturity in Christ. They are a guide that helps us know what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.

    Drew did an outstanding job introducing the ideas behind “Gather, Grow, Scatter” to us last Sunday. And the Connection Hour of the next two Sundays will be used to share how these three words impact our church on a practical level. But please allow me the opportunity to highlight these three words one more time as we continue to roll out “Phase 2” of our strategic plan.

    Gather. From its inception, Christ’s church has assembled together in corporate worship to participate in those wonderful things God allows us to be involved in. Singing, hearing the Word preached, giving, and even the random hallway conversation: they all serve a role in our Christian community as the whole church family comes together in our special Sunday morning worship time. When we gather, not only do we give the due glory to God, but we are refreshed by his gospel and propelled toward obedience. (This Sunday we have the privilege of celebrating three baptisms. Anyone who doesn’t leave that gathering event refreshed doesn’t have a pulse.) We gather because that is what Christians do. Without it, the beauty of the church would be tainted.

    But that gathering always moves into something even deeper and no less essential. We grow together in deeper contexts that come with more intimate environments. For us, in this season, that primarily means engaging in Connection Groups and Care Groups. They serve as a ground for deepening in relationships as we search God’s Word and apply it to our lives. Discipleship doesn’t happen at a distance. It is meant to happen in the midst of loving, caring relationships (1 Thess. 2:8). If you are not a part of both of these avenues of discipleship, you are missing out. Join one right away and get your walk with God on an important track.

    But Christian growth always moves outward. No biblical church avoids impacting the least and the lost in the surrounding city and nations. We scatter to impact. We scatter to make a difference. We scatter to bring glory to God. We scatter because that is what the church does. And she is always good at it when she does it God’s way.

    We gather to grow. As we grow, we scatter. When we scatter, we gather again, bringing new found friends with us.

    This will drive the next season of Kossuth. I can’t wait to see the fruit of it. And I can’t wait to do it with you.

    ThuThursdayMayMay28th2015 A Letter of Thanks
    byMikel Berger Tagged Church Family Parenting 0 comments Add comment

    To all the singles, empty-nesters, and others without little kids:

    As a parent of two younger children I just want to say, “Thanks!"

    Thanks for the times when, as newborns, my kids would cry out during the service and you would keep your gaze straight ahead to give me at least the illusion that not everyone had been distracted. Or if you did turn to look, thanks for the slight smile or the wink that indicated you’d been there before, too.

    Thanks for the times you served in the nursery when you didn’t yet have kids or when your kids were a decade or more past being in the nursery. Your sacrifice when I couldn't reciprocate the gesture meant even more. You reassured my red-faced, crying toddler that Mom and Dad really weren’t leaving them forever. You deftly pointed them towards the balls or trucks or dolls  while we quickly walked out the door and down the hallway. Just so you know, we prayed a little prayer for your sanity (and ours too) that the screaming would end soon.

    Thanks for the times you sat in the pew in front of us, and when the roll-away crayon went past your feet, you reached down, picked it up, and politely handed it back to its owner. Thanks for your patience when we needed to (ironically) talk to our kids in a slightly-too-loud of a voice, because we were trying to get them to be quiet. 

    Through you and because of you, our kids see that people of all ages are welcome in the corporate body to worship our God. My kids are able to see that Mom and Dad take this worship of God thing pretty seriously, and as they watch you, they see that you take it pretty seriously, too. They see that you not only take it seriously but also find real joy in it and that there’s no conflict between those two things. That speaks volumes to them without us having to say a word.

    You’re helping all of us to raise up our kids in the way they should go. You’re helping us to speak of God and his commands as we walk by the way (Duet. 6:7). My wife and I thank you. We also thank you on behalf of our friends who also have little kids.

    In Christ’s Love,

    Gunnar and Clella’s Dad (a.k.a Mikel) 

    ThuThursdayMayMay7th2015 Baptism and Communion
    byDan Dillon Tagged Baptism Church Communion 1 comments Add comment

    If you only watched Baptism and Communion and didn’t hear what was being said, you’d probably be confused. Why is everyone excited about watching someone getting dunked into water? Why are these people drinking one ounce of grape juice and eating a mere smidgeon of a cracker? Many things we observe make sense “without the audio,” so to speak: someone taking a bath, eating a meal, driving to work. We understand what’s going on because they are so familiar to us. But without the audio, Baptism and Communion are just odd, even strange.

    Here’s another thing that’s odd about Baptism and Communion. If much of our preaching and teaching follows the form, “Believe this; now demonstrate your belief by giving yourself over to good works,” where do Baptism and Communion fit in? They aren’t things to be believed. One doesn’t believe Baptism or Communion; one gets baptized and partakes in Communion. But while they are something to do, they aren’t really “good works,” such as loving another, speaking truth, and helping the poor. Those commands are ethical, that is, commands to do things that, in and of themselves, are good and can be done by anyone, even non-Christians. But Baptism and Communion are to be done only by those who have faith in Christ, and one would hardly call them “good works.”

    So if they aren’t things to be believed or good works, what are they? They have been called many things, including “sacraments,” “ordinances,” and “rites”. But perhaps the simplest way to think about them is that they are ceremonies: formal events that have very specific meanings and are meant to celebrate, symbolize, and honor that meaning.

    Part of the “oddness” of Baptism and Communion is because they are ceremonies and our culture (and sometimes our own churches!) don't value ceremony. We don’t like the formality of ceremonies. We don’t like doing the same thing over and over again. We want to do something new and unique, not old and just like everyone else. Why do we need a ceremony? Let’s just get on with it. What matters is the reality, not the ceremony. All rituals are empty or, at least, not very important and certainly not required.

    The other part of the “oddness” is that, as ceremonies, they don’t make a whole lot of sense unless the “audio is on”: someone needs to explain to you the significance of the ceremony. Much more could be said about their significance. They are meant to be celebrated and enjoyed, and they are meant to be honored and obeyed. Even if they are not ethical acts or good works, “be baptized” (Acts 2:38) and “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19) are still required.

    If you have confessed Christ but not been baptized, follow his command and be baptized. If you have confessed Christ, do not neglect to participate in Communion, even if it takes extra effort (e.g., it is offered at Sunday evening Family Gathering). Do these things to celebrate and honor Christ.

    ThuThursdayAprApril16th2015 Changing Seasons Update
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church Leaders 0 comments Add comment

    Five months ago, in the November 13, 2014 Elder Blog post, I wrote, “I along with the leadership believe that it is God’s timing for a new season of fruitfulness, growth and joy at Kossuth, and that season will be launched from the platform of a change in the form, feel, and function of what we know as the lead elder and his role.” Around that time I preached a few sermons entitled “Changing Seasons at Kossuth,” and we held some congregational meetings to explain and launch Phase 1 of our strategic plan: Lead/Vision Elder Transition. Phase 2 of our strategic plan will be rolled out over the coming summer months as our actual multi-year strategic plan.

    Where are we in the process of lead/vision elder transition and how are we doing?

    From my perspective, I could not be more grateful and enthused about what God has been doing among us in the past five months. Beginning with the appointment of new elders and the transition of lead elder and preaching elder roles to Abraham and Drew, the component of leadership transition has gone just ... well ... swimmingly!

    The elders and appropriate ministry leaders are currently involved in interviews with three candidates for the new Director of Family Ministry position with the goal of having a person in that position this summer. I have participated in many of these interviews and am deeply impressed with the quality of the candidates being carefully considered.   

    I am staying quite busy with some assignments and projects at Kossuth and being available to help the staff and elders as needed in a coaching and consultant role. I also have been spending time developing the next chapter in our lives. Sue and I sense a definite call of God for this season of our lives to relocate to LaGrange, Ohio, to live near my 87-year-old parents and assist with their care. That calling has been clarified and confirmed many times over in the past few visits with them in Ohio.

    God has shown his compassion toward us by providing an opportunity to interact with a fine church in LaGrange about the possibility of joining the pastoral staff there. This unexpected possibility is still in process, but we are enjoying the journey as we wait on the Lord for an outcome. Please pray with us about this as well as the sale of our home in Lafayette and finding housing in LaGrange.

    I have been given the pulpit for Sunday, May 17, at Kossuth as an opportunity to express our gratitude to the church family and share together in the Scriptures again before we move to Ohio sometime in late May or early June. Between now and then, please pray for Sue and me as we both travel the week of April 19. Sue will spend a week with our newest grandson Lewis Paul in Pennsylvania while I travel to South Africa for a week of ministry with the staff of Bethesda Outreach.

    In an interview with one of the Director of Family Ministry candidates I found myself proclaiming again a little sermonette that I have given repeatedly over the last few weeks to anyone who will listen. The big idea of the talk is that I believe with all my heart that the next chapter that has been started at Kossuth in recent months will prove to be one of the most joyful and productive in the 71 year story of Kossuth. Stop me in the hallway or bring me some cookies if you want to hear the full sermon with stories, illustrations, supporting Scripture, and invitation. It is a wonderful thing that God is doing. Embrace it with me for the advance of our dear Savior’s kingdom. 

    ThuThursdayAprApril9th2015 Cobra Effect Christianity

    What’s the difference between a church that ministers in the power of the Spirit and a church that doesn’t? Take a moment to think about that. And while you’re thinking about it, let me tell you a story.

    Recently I found myself reading about something called “the cobra effect.” If you’re not familiar with that phrase, it’s a term used primarily in economics to describe what happens when an attempted course of action backfires. In other words, when an effort to solve a problem actually makes the problem worse, you have a manifestation of the cobra effect on your hands.

    The name comes from an old story that is told about a series of events that took place in India during the days when it was under the colonial rule of the British government. As the story goes, there was a growing concern among the British authorities regarding the proliferation of venomous snakes in the region. These snakes posed a very real threat, and something had to be done. In response, the British government proposed a plan to get the snake population under control: a bounty system. For every dead cobra that could be presented by a local resident, a monetary reward would be offered in exchange.

    At first, this plan seemed to be working. To the delight of the British authorities, lots of people were bringing in dead snakes! It would only be a matter of time before the area’s cobra population would be significantly reduced.

    But eventually, the British government caught wind of a disturbing development: a great number of local residents had taken to catching and breeding cobras, solely for the purpose of collecting the bounty. Many had found this to be more profitable than their regular “day jobs.”

    So the British authorities did what seemed necessary. They brought a swift end to the bounty program. But there was just one problem. Suddenly, all those opportunistic cobra farmers were left with a whole bunch of worthless snakes on their hands. Since there was no more money to be made from them, they did the logical thing: they turned them loose! Needless to say, the cobra population ended up worse than it ever had been before.

    Hence, the cobra effect.

    So let me ask you again: What’s the difference between a church that ministers in the power of the Spirit and one that doesn’t?

    On the outside, there may not be much to distinguish the two. The churches might look the same. They might use the same words. They might even be doing some of the same things. But here’s the crucial point: only one can bear true fruit.

    When we minister in the power of the Spirit, we participate in authentic gospel advance. It may not always be big or glamorous or eye-catching. But it’s genuine. Jesus is proclaimed. Lives are transformed. The Enemy is pressed back. Fruit is produced.

    But when we try to do ministry apart from the Spirit, we end up practicing what we might call “Cobra Effect Christianity.” We may think we’re doing something meaningful, but in reality we’re just going around in circles. We busy ourselves with feverish activity—running from one ministry to the next, having Bible studies, keeping programs afloat. In other words, we have lots of dead snakes on our hands. But in reality, we’re not making any significant advance. In fact, we might even be moving in the opposite direction.

    As a church, we need to constantly ask ourselves: Are we ministering by the Spirit’s power? Or are we merely keeping busy?

    Any church can run a program. Only the Spirit can produce fruit. 

    WedWednesdayMarMarch25th2015 Nicea for Today
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church History Theology 1 comments Add comment

    Last week we talked about how our theology has been shaped by centuries of diligent Christians who have worked hard to articulate clearly and faithfully what the Bible teaches. While our beliefs are (hopefully) rooted in Scripture, the formulation of those beliefs is in large part the result of the historical definitions our spiritual ancestors have handed down to us.

    One of the most important places we see this play out is in the Nicene Creed. As its name suggests, the creed has its origins in the First Council of Nicea, a gathering of church leaders that took place in AD 325. A few decades later, it was revised at the First Council of Constantinople, taking the form that is now widely accepted and recognized by many Christians around the world.

    While it would be possible to write an entire book about this ancient confession of Christian orthodoxy, this week I would like to settle for giving you some quick highlights that might help you understand it better and appreciate its relevance for the church today. We’ll do so by taking a look at the four main subjects the Nicene Creed addresses. (You might want to take a moment to read it first.)

    The Father. Interestingly, there is relatively little in the Nicene Creed about God the Father. Yet in just a few words it affirms that he is the powerful, transcendent Creator from whom all things (both visible and invisible) have their origin. This simple affirmation reminds us that our God is not a small and impotent deity, but rather a gloriously majestic Lord who has made oceans and mountains and planets and stars at the command of his word. He demands our reverence, fear, and worship.

    The Son. By and large, the most hotly contested theological debates in the first few centuries of the church surrounded the issue of Christology. Who is Jesus? What did he do? How should we understand him? It is not surprising, therefore, that the majority of the Nicene Creed deals with answering these very questions.

    The creed maintains two vital (and paradoxical) truths. First of all, Jesus is fully God. He always has been and he always will be. He is not similar to the Father; he is of the same essence as the Father. Even today, many people believe that Jesus was a spiritual teacher or that he embodied certain divine ideals. But the creed is unequivocal: the Son of God is God.

    Secondly, the creed maintains that Jesus became a man (fully and completely) in order to accomplish the work of redemption. Without compromising any of his divinity, Jesus entered our world and took on flesh. And why? Well, one of my favorite phrases sums it up well: “for us and our salvation.” Jesus came to die and rise again so that we might be saved.

    The Holy Spirit. In the same way that the Son is fully God, the creed also affirms that the Spirit is fully God. Many of us think of the Spirit as some mystical ghost-like thing that whooshes here and there making people feel warm and fuzzy. But this is an entirely deficient understanding. The Holy Spirit is a person, and he is to be worshiped and glorified.

    The Church. In a world filled with thousands of Christian denominations, the creed brings us back to the important doctrine that the Bible teaches: there is only one true church. We Protestants might get hung up on the word “catholic,” but we need not to. It simply means that the church of Jesus Christ is a global body that spans cultures, languages, geography, and generations.

    There is obviously much more that could be said about the Nicene Creed, but I hope you’re at least beginning to see that it is a treasure for the church. Not only does it help us know God; it helps us worship him. The enduring value of this ancient confession is that when we understand these fundamental truths about who God is and how he has worked to bring about redemption, our hearts are moved to sing and celebrate.

    ThuThursdayJanJanuary29th2015 Form, Function, and Feel
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church Leaders 1 comments Add comment

    I think I said it at least ten times in the three “Changing Seasons at Kossuth” sermons that I delivered this past November. Here’s the sentence that I remember intentionally repeating several times over those weeks of teaching about the leadership changes in store for our incredible church:

    “I along with the leadership believe that it is God’s timing for a new season of fruitfulness, growth and joy at Kossuth and that season will be launched in part from the platform of a change in the form, function and feel of what we know as the lead elder and his role.”

    One obvious take-away from that statement and the “Changing Seasons” sermons is now old news. At some point, I will no longer be lead elder. Another (perhaps more important) take-away is that the responsibilities and expectations of the lead elder role will change when another lead elder is appointed. When that new lead elder is appointed by the elder team, our thinking will need to shift from how I have filled the lead elder role to a new form, function, and feel regarding that important role.

    Well, it is my joy to share with you that the elders at their meeting this week approved both a new lead elder role description as well as a new lead elder. Please let me introduce you to them both with the understanding that more details will be shared in the coming weeks.

    Lead Elder Role Description. Essentially this process began by listing the responsibilities that I have carried and collected over my years of service. These responsibilities were then divided among the other elders according to giftedness, passion, and capacity. So the form, function, and feel is changing as tasks that have been associated with the lead elder in the past may now be the responsibility of an elder who is not designated as lead elder. It may be helpful to remember that regarding the lead elder role, our by-laws read: “All elders are equal in authority, but the elders will choose one from among them who will serve as leader for the elders.”

    The lead elder role description approved by the elders this week states that the lead elder will serve the elders by:

    1. Setting the elder and staff meeting agendas.

    2. Guiding discussions toward the aim of consensus.

    3. Shaping the team of men toward maximum effectiveness.

    4. Planning key events that build team cohesiveness (elder/staff retreats, relational time, etc.).

    5. Serving as the point of first contact for the community and outside organizations.

    This second list shows how other responsibilities have been assigned that are no longer associated with the lead elder role:

    1. Developing the sermon calendar - Drew

    2. Overseeing the on-call visitation schedule - Drew

    3. Organizing weddings, funerals and special services - Drew

    4. Overseeing Deacon Teams - various elders

    5. Providing non-elder staff and church operational supervision - Abraham

    6. Overseeing biblical counseling - Abraham

    7. Overseeing the Elder Blog - Drew

    Since much of this was just decided this week, we will get a more detailed listing of elder and deacon assignments and responsibilities to you as soon as we are able.

    Lead Elder Appointment. The elders unanimously appointed Abraham Cremeens as lead elder to carry out the new lead elder role description. Abraham has proven gifts and skills to serve the elders and our church in this newly defined role. Abraham will assume this role effective immediately with me being available to come alongside him to provide support and coaching as necessary.

    It is always a win to have the right people positioned in the responsibilities that God has gifted and enabled them to do well. God has given Kossuth an amazing group of godly men to shepherd and oversee this precious flock. Remember to pray for and encourage them as each one carries the pastoring load assigned to them. It may take some time and continued dialogue, but we believe the new form, function, and feel will soon settle into new fruitfulness and joy as we serve together.    

    ThuThursdayJanJanuary15th2015 Changing Seasons: What's Up?
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Leaders News 0 comments Add comment

    Disconnected. Uninformed. Out of the loop. One of the unintended consequences of celebrating two major holidays, traveling to spend time with family, and having extended battles with various evil flu bugs is that feeling that you have lost touch with what’s going on in our church family. That’s dangerous because clear and timely information is crucial to fueling our prayers, hopes, and joyful participation in ministry together.

    Our elders met on Tuesday evening. This was the first meeting for all eight elders to participate. It was a five hour marathon due to (1) an extended time of reviewing and praying for needs among our congregation and (2) a huge agenda due to not meeting in December, many leadership transition tasks, and approval of a 2015 budget. Here are some take aways to encourage you to pray and serve well:

    1. A 2015 budget was approved to be presented to the congregation for approval at our February 1 Family Gathering.

    2. The Community Christmas Impact offering was about $4,700 and connections are being made to distribute that to needy families in a relationally-driven way. These stories will be told as we are able and as they happen. If you would like to get directly involved in life-on-life service in these community opportunities, be sure to connect with Abraham Cremeens or Bobby Williams.

    3. The year-end Overflow offering is currently at $46,000. While we are grateful for that measure of generosity, it is well below our $100,000 goal. We will continue to pray and receive gifts toward this project through the last Sunday of January. Remember that the offering is designated to address sending our Kossuth missionaries, promoting adoption, and developing future ministry leaders. An update will be given in February Family Gathering.

    4. Some dates have been established for me to transition the responsibilities I carry to others over the next four months. My transition will look something like this:

    • Jan/Feb – I will preach a 6-week series with the understanding that Drew begins preaching and oversight of pulpit ministry on March 1; by then I will have passed the lead elder role to another elder and continue to work with staff and elders to define and develop a careful transition of ministry responsibilities.
    • March/April – Continuing support ministry to staff and elders in transition, responsible for assigned projects from elders, less presence around the office day-to-day, and developing the “what’s next for the Whipples” plan.  
    • May 15 will be my final work day with Sunday, May 17, as the final Sunday for the Whipples at Kossuth. This author is inclined to believe they will be back for visits but this is the final Sunday for ... you know what I mean.

    5. A position has been drafted for a new staff position for youth and children's ministry, and we are nearly ready to begin advertising the opening. Within a few weeks that will be available to prayerfully distribute to attract the person God has to join our leadership team in this crucial area of need in our church family. We will work with parents to influence the job details, evaluate candidates, and continue to shape how this ministry will be positioned to flourish. Please ask God often to bless this search for the right person.

    6. Oversight of the Elder Blog has been passed on to Drew. He and the elders will continue to use this venue to encourage, instruct, and inform our church family. Please make it a weekly “must read.”

    7. Our newly appointed elders will be formally commissioned and acknowledged in our worship service on Sunday January 25. It promises to be a meaningful time of celebration and commitment for our entire church family.

    That’s more than enough information for now even though I am certain this does not address all your questions. Please note that while we will try to share in brief ways on Sunday mornings, our next planned time for sharing and interaction is February 1 at Family Gathering. We will work through the proposed budget plan, share various reports, and have a Q&A time to address transition issues of concern to you.

    Please feel free to address your concerns or questions at anytime to me or any other elder. We want you to be informed so that we can be a united church family in fervent prayer, God-focused hope, and joyful service anticipating the good things God has in store for the next chapter at Kossuth.   

    ThuThursdayDecDecember18th2014 Happy Anniversary, Pastors!

    Five years ago this month, our church affirmed and appointed three new elders; Paul, Bill, and Tom. These were our first non-vocational pastors; that is, they serve as pastors but are not employed by the church. It was a historic occasion as earlier in the year the congregation approved new by-laws written to provide for a leadership structure that involves a plurality of godly men as pastors and overseers. After months of interviews and interaction, our church family joyfully set these men apart and recognized them as pastors at our December 6, 2009 Family Gathering. A few observations are in order at this five-year mark:

    Praise God! That’s the first and most appropriate response. These men and their wives have proven to be a wonderful gift from the Head of the Church to Kossuth. Our elders are among the most skilled, godly, faithful, and steadfast people I have ever had the joy of serving with. Since leaders are a gift to the church from the risen Christ, join me in thanking him for ours.

    Thank you! While I do not know all that has been invested, my perspective allows me to know better than most the enormous amount of time and energy these men and their wives have invested in addition to their jobs and family responsibilities. They are worthy of our deepest gratitude. Their impact on Sue and me is and has been profound. Please make it a point to express your gratitude to them in clear and tangible ways this holiday season.

    We’ve changed! While change has its challenges and may not be as welcome by some as others, collectively as a church we have changed. A huge expression of appreciation along with a loud “well done” is in order for our entire church family. You received biblical instruction well. You interacted patiently and lovingly with the application of that teaching to our community life. You have prayerfully supported elders and eldership through some rather complex seasons. You have patiently and lovingly given room for the pastors to make mistakes, learn, and grow. No longer can we say “I don’t think I can change.” You have done it well. Congratulations!

    There’s more! There are more elders coming, that is. As you have probably heard by now, Mikel, Abraham, Dan, and Drew were confidently affirmed and appointed by the congregation to eldership at our recent December 7 Family Gathering. Pray for these new appointees as the transition will be felt by all of them in different ways as the eldership appointment takes effect in January. Please pray specifically for wisdom and grace for our elders during this time of transition to a new form and function of the lead elder role. Pray for our pastors’ hearts to be knit together around a clear and worthy vision for the coming next chapter at Kossuth. Pray that God will protect our pastors from evil and bless their marriages and families with great joy.

    Happy anniversary, Kossuth pastors, whether celebrating five years or beginning your first term of service, we love you and thank God for you! 

    WedWednesdayNovNovember19th2014 The Face of Kossuth
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Leaders 1 comments Add comment

    I like to buy, use, and lose Callaway golf balls. Why? Because my favorite pro golfer uses them. Anyone remotely aware of my golfing skills recognizes the absurdity of any connection between what he does with a Callaway ball and what I do with them. But there is still that undeniable hope drilled into my psyche by the commercials.

    Former Purdue quarterback Drew Brees has his face representing a variety of products and organizations these days. Whether it is Vicks Vapo Rub, Wrangler Jeans, Chase Bank, Tide soap, or Can-AM Spyder (a three wheel motorcycle that he is contractually forbidden to drive), he has leveraged his popularity as an NFL star into a sizeable fortune by subtly saying there is a possibility that we could be like him if we bought and used those products. The endorsement of someone famous, powerful, beautiful, or successful seems to be the engine that drives the decision making of consumers. Is it possible to be content until you possess and use the same products as Drew Brees, or any other powerfully famous person for that matter?

    Who is the best face for Kossuth? If we were to develop and launch a county-wide advertising campaign for KSBC, who would be the best celebrity face to help us? Our objective in this campaign would be to make everyone who sees our ads, commercials, and pictures drool with desire to be a part of our church. What would the commercials look like and who would we hire as the star that would produce the most buyer response?

    You.

    You are the face of the church. Every day of your life is an endorsement for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the many advantages of being a part of a community like Kossuth. That is certainly what Jesus meant when he taught that his followers are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Jesus expected his followers to be the face of the church he gave his life to build.

    The Apostle Paul affirms this truth many times in his letters to churches. He specifically and repeatedly brings the reader’s attention to the fact that the faith and love of church members was growing and becoming more well known throughout the region (2 Thess. 1:3-4; Col. 1:3-8). The people causing a stir and drawing attention to the church were those practicing sacrificial love, risk-taking faith, and endurance though suffering.

    We need both warning and encouragement as we continue through these weeks of good dialogue regarding Changing Seasons at Kossuth. The warning is that sometimes in our weakness and weariness, we too easily shift the responsibility for our church’s growth, reputation, attractiveness, and effectiveness to a select few. Those faces of Kossuth could be the leaders, the successful, the wealthy, or any representative of the kind of people we want to attract as a church.

    The encouragement is that the message of the gospel is about transforming lives. Your life of love, faith, and hope strengthened by the grace of Jesus is the best representation of our church in this community. Leaders are important for many reasons. God does give opportunity to a few higher profile types in the church. However, it is your walk with God in the real time of the struggles and challenges of daily life that God puts on the billboard and in the commercial to draw attention to and create desire for knowing him.

    Buyer response, that’s what matters. Show them your faith, love and hope ... it will generate buyer response every day of the week.

    ThuThursdayNovNovember13th2014 Changing Seasons at Kossuth
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church Leaders 1 comments Add comment

    Things are changing at Kossuth. One contributing factor to why change is such a challenge for many is the lack of information and clarity regarding the change. I once was told that for any group to clearly understand what is being said or announced it must be repeated at least six times in various ways. In the spirit of intentional and loving repetition, here is a summary along with a reminder from our announcement this past Sunday regarding our upcoming leadership transition.

    Summary: The elders and staff, after several months of prayerful interaction with the “Commitments and Characteristics” document, the data gathered at the CommonVision meetings, and the current needs of our church, are convinced that the strategic planning process has led us to consider two phases with distinct issues to set our church on a course for long term growth and health.        

    Strategic Plan Phase 1: Lead/Vision Elder Transition
    Strategic Plan Phase 2: Multi-year Strategic Plan

    Regarding Phase 1 of Lead Elder transition, we believe that it is best for the health of Kossuth and the success of the next multi-year strategic plan to accelerate the lead elder transition to take place in the next eight months. Because vision and strategy are defined and driven by leadership, we see great value in considering leadership transition as a platform for longer-term planning. We believe that a more imminent leadership transition not only flows out of but also advances our planning process, while positioning Kossuth to launch the next chapter for what God has in store.

    Stated another way, I along with the leadership believe that it is God’s timing for a new season of fruitfulness, growth, and joy at Kossuth, and that season will be launched from the platform of a change in the form, feel, and function of what we know as the lead elder and his role.

    • Our strategic planning process led us to identify the importance of leadership being structured to successfully drive the next season or chapter of fruitfulness at Kossuth.
    • There is a change coming for the Whipples in the next eight months. My role will shift from leading the elders to a role of providing continuity and support for the leadership transition. This change was initiated and welcomed by me as both directed by God and best for the long term health of Kossuth. Long term plans for Sue and I are still being prayerfully developed.
    • Pending the outcome of the elder appointment vote in December, the elders envision Drew Humphrey and Abraham Cremeens assuming the roles of Pastor of Preaching and Vision and Pastor of Discipleship and Vision respectively, some time after the first of the year.

    Reminder: This Sunday, November 16, is a key time to both share more details and answer questions. I plan to focus the sermon on the biblical and theological support for change and vision. The 10:45 hour is a time for everyone to gather in the sanctuary for further presentations and a time of Q&A. We want to get as clear of a “big picture” before you in these weeks leading up to our new elder vote. Please plan to prayerfully participate in these opportunities. As you think of questions, please feel free to email them to the church office or an elder.

    ThuThursdaySepSeptember18th2014 What a Great Question!
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Leaders 0 comments Add comment

    I am writing today to entice, encourage and equip you to participate in the upcoming congregational interviews to examine the four elder candidates in preparation for a vote of appointment in early December.

    You as a church member have a vital role. Who can be a church leader? What does a church leader do? Who is a church leader accountable to? These questions were addressed by our church in a historic way beginning in 2006. A careful and lengthy process of study, teaching, interacting, and prayer resulted in a revised constitution and the appointment of three new elders in 2009. Essentially we shifted toward what we believe is a leadership structure that better reflects the teachings of the Bible. That structure puts the congregation at the center of recognizing and affirming those men who both meet the biblical qualifications and evidence the hand of God on their lives. It is quite exciting to participate together in the evaluation and examination process as we search for the men God has provided as gifts to protect, feed and lead our church for the future.

    There are two congregational interview opportunities coming in the next few weeks. The first will be during the 10:45 hour on Sunday morning September 28. The second Q&A will be at the October 5 Family Gathering at 6:00 pm. All four elder candidates will be responding at both of the scheduled interviews. In an effort to use our time well and get the most out of these interviews we are asking that questions from the congregation be submitted before the interviews. Please email your questions to an elder or to the office at   by the end of the day Friday September 26. Some of you are exceptional question askers, and we hope you will serve the church well by submitting questions that will help bring clarity to the key issues of recognizing and affirming church leaders. We will receive written questions at the interviews as well.

    Just a few tips on what makes a good question for an elder appointee interview. While even the most pious among us love to see a candidate squirm, turn colors and sweat profusely, the best questions are not always the hardest questions. Consider these as you form your questions:

    • Remember the objective: is he biblically qualified and is there evidence that God has called him to leadership at Kossuth at this time? So use the Timothy and Titus passages along with others to stimulate your thoughtful questions. Remember there are multiple issues to address; character, doctrine, and competency.
    • Review the questionnaires that each candidate has completed. These will not only provide answers to a lot of your questions but also may bring something up you would like clarified.
    • Ask process questions more than correct questions. Sometimes you miss a lot by limiting your questions to getting the correct answer. For example, a candidate could give a correct answer about his practices regarding divorce and remarriage but the greater value for determining character and competency is how he arrived at that answer. A good question like “How did you arrive at your position on the identity of the Anti-Christ?” may make them sweat as well as provide a great deal of insight into their heart. A question like “When was the last time you asked a person for forgiveness and how did you do it?” sounds like a winner too.

    So my question for you is: When are you planning to set aside some time to carefully draft and prayerfully submit a few questions that will help our congregation succeed in recognizing and appointing God’s men for pastoral leadership?

    ThuThursdaySepSeptember11th2014 Elders Update
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Leaders News 0 comments Add comment

    What are the KSBC elders up to these days? 

    The Elders met this Tuesday evening for one of their two scheduled monthly meetings. Bill, Tom, Paul, and Don along with staff ministers Drew and Abraham met to share shepherding updates about our church family, pray for our church family, and then move through an agenda of issues and initiatives related to the oversight and spiritual care of our church. Last evening we also enjoyed having elder candidates Mikel Berger and Dan Dillon sit in with us to observe an elder meeting and catch up with some of the agenda items as a part of the process of discerning God’s direction in their possibly becoming elders.

    Take a brief look with me at five agenda items from last evening’s meeting. 

    Global Missions. The Missions Team has done a fantastic job over the last year or longer putting together some guiding policy documents to position KSBC for greater effectiveness in identifying and sending missionaries around the world. The elders are currently working through the core proposed "Career Missionary Policy" document. It is really good and we look forward to releasing it soon to the church family for review. 

    By-Laws Revision. At Family Gathering this past Sunday, the congregation voted almost unanimously in support of the recommended constitutional revisions. The elders reflected on the process and vote to tie up any loose ends and make the revised constitution accessible.

    Elder Appointment. We reviewed the remaining steps and dates in the process of appointing new elders. The next step involves two opportunities for the congregation to ask questions of the four candidates scheduled for 9/28 and 10/5. We are asking for questions to be submitted before the meetings by email to ksbc@ksbc.net or given to an elder or the church office by September 21. We are still on target for a 12/7 congregational vote to affirm new elders.

    2014 Year End Offering. The theme of our 2014 year end over and above offering will be "Overflow." It will be designated toward some global missions projects close to home as well as a compassion ministry and funding an internship. We hope to have more details and directions out to the church family in October. 

    Strategic Planning. The leadership team continues to spend time defining and shaping a long-range plan for Kossuth. We are excited as our discussions and prayer seem to be coming together based on the core commitments and vision meetings from last spring to share some firmer details with the church family in the next few months.

    Thanks so much for your prayer support, encouragement, and participation that make our service of leadership such a joy. Please continue to pray for God’s hand to rest on our church in great ways. Please let us know how we can be of help or service to you.  

    ThuThursdayJulJuly24th2014 Sound Doctrine
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church Doctrine 0 comments Add comment

    We are looking forward to interacting with the church family about the Report from the Elders and By-Laws Task Force at our Family Gathering coming up August 3. Knowing that many have been away and enjoying various summer pursuits, we are re-posting the article that originally appeared here on June 4, along with the accompanying links to the pertinent documents, in order to help everyone be prepared for the upcoming Family Gathering discussion. We anticipate an actual congregational vote one month later at the September Family Gathering. Thanks for your participation in this important process.  

    What is sound doctrine? How important is it that our leaders and members be in agreement with what our church affirms as sound doctrine? The issue of agreement with our statement of faith for church leaders has surfaced on two occasions in recent years.

    The first time was when Paul, Tom, and Bill were first appointed as non-vocational elders in 2009. During the interview process we were reminded that on a few aspects of our statement of faith considered as somewhat secondary in importance, the church was willing to accept agreement as meaning “will support and not oppose.” The next time the issue surfaced was in the fall of 2012 when we were interviewing Drew and Abraham for the jobs of staff ministers. Both expressed similar concerns to those of the elders in a few areas of our statement of faith and were affirmed with the understanding that “agreement” can mean “will submit to even though I don’t hold that view personally.” On both occasions, the differences with the statement of faith were clearly in what was determined not to be essential, foundational, or core matters of sound doctrine as defined by the Scriptures or historic confessions of faith. These differences are clearly described in the report referred to later in this blog.

    I should add at this point that these exchanges both in 2009 and 2012 resonated with my own experience as, after over 30 years of teaching, preaching and studying the Bible, my thinking has been nuanced in some of these same secondary issues. I would also add that in just about every membership interview that I have been involved with, there is some exchange regarding what agreement with the statement of faith means.

    Knowing that the issue of agreement with our statement of faith would surface again both in the membership process and the appointment of elders, at the request of the congregation and by elder appointment a task force was put together in the fall of 2013 to address the issue and report back to the elders and church family with some recommendations. That report from the elders and task force can be found and read here and is available in the foyer or from the church office. Along with the report a “marked up” version of the KSBC constitution is available that contains the proposed changes as “tracked” changes to help put the report recommendations in context.

    The elders are asking that the church family take the next 30-45 days to process the report and proposed changes in the following ways:

    1. Prayerfully read and review the report and tracked changes carefully. Include in your effort searching the Scriptures referenced.

    2. Write out your observations, concerns, and questions. While we are willing to try to schedule time to meet and interact directly, given the number of people involved and the busyness of schedules we are encouraging you to send your questions and feedback to church leadership via mail or email (ksbc@ksbc.net). We will collect these for a period of time and reply in the most appropriate and effective ways. That may be a personal response, an article or a dedicated time in a Sunday service. Before we announce a church vote or set a date for such, we want to have a dialogue and learn what questions and concerns there may be so we can respond and walk together in seeking God’s direction in this important area.

    3. Listen to the July 13 sermon when I plan to address the topic of the importance and role of sound doctrine and the church statement of faith. Hopefully it will bring some light and encouragement to the conversation.

    By late July we should have a read on what and when next steps are from our dialogue over the next few weeks. Your response and feedback are crucial to the process. Ultimately any proposed changes require congregational approval to be enacted. Please join the conversation and make it a matter of regular prayer that God would continue to unite our hearts, guard us from error, energize our teaching and nurture our commitment to mission all through our agreement to sound doctrine.   

    ThuThursdayMayMay29th2014 With the Change of Seasons
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Church Events 0 comments Add comment

    Having celebrated Memorial Day earlier this week, and with school activities quickly coming to a close, summer is “officially” underway. So what are your summer plans? What are your objectives for these coming weeks of summer? Hopefully spiritual refreshment and renewal rank high on your priority list.

    Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes wrote: “I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time…I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; …and to take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” (Ecc. 3:10-13). Spiritual refreshment and renewal come in varied forms. I would like to suggest several opportunities which easily will slip past this summer if we don’t determine now to mark our calendars and decide to be involved with them. 

    Reading…the book of Titus. In the Connections hour this summer we will be studying the New Testament book of Titus. Make this hour of connecting to God’s word and one another at Kossuth a priority in your summer schedule. Determine to read this book through…repeatedly. Even memorize parts of it. And most of all, ask the Lord to use the in-depth study of this book to shape your walk with Him and one another.

    Fellowship. Plan to go to Kossuth Summer School in July! There are four different classes to choose from, any one of which will be beneficial to your walk with the Lord and each other. Determine now to attend…and when you do, look around the classroom to see if there is someone who you don’t know who you can go out with afterward for ice cream!

    Preparation for personal involvement. Each fall many from all over the world come to Purdue to study. In about 60 days more than 2,000 students from over 120 countries will be arriving to study at Purdue! How will we, as God’s people, shine the light of the gospel to them? One way is through genuine friendship. The International Friendship Program (IFP) is a program operated by Purdue University in which Kossuth families have participated for many years. The IFP seeks to match a Friendship Family from the community to a student who is here for the first time. On Sunday, June 22 immediately following the Connections hour there will be a lunch and IFP information/orientation session. Please contact Dana Gottfried (dgottfried@slcfworld.com) and let him know you are planning to attend. We should be finished by about 1:30 pm. In addition, there are other initiatives to be involved in reaching international students. Here is where you can find brief descriptions of four different opportunities and a sign up form for them.  

    I wonder what we’ll be saying 60 days from now…perhaps something like: “Where did the summer go?!” I pray that these coming days will be spent effectively to show off God’s greatness and work in your life as evaluated by the fruit of the spiritual refreshment and renewal you experience this summer by his grace.

     

     
    ThuThursdayMayMay22nd2014 Glory in the Church


    Thank you. Last Sunday morning Sue and I were honored and mostly surprised to receive recognition and a generous gift for 25 years of service as lead pastor of Kossuth. We are truly humbled, honored, and grateful for the many expressions of love and appreciation that have come our way. We love to rehearse the good old days with some, enjoy all that God is doing presently with others, and dream with many of what God will do in the days ahead.

    I asked four people who have been a part of KSBC for the past 26 years to write a few sentences that reflect their appreciation for God and his glory at this church. I believe that the finest compliments a church could receive are from the wife of the pastor and three kids who grew up in that church with their dad as the pastor. If anyone has a read after 26 years of literally seeing just about everything that has gone on, these friends of mine should. Read what they think, be encouraged, and give glory to God. (By the way, our sons are now 32, 34 and 36 years old. You will have to ask Sue how old she is.)

    Our youngest son David writes, “The members and regular attenders of Kossuth Street Baptist Church have influenced my life greatly in the past twenty-six years. The church, as a body of believers, has always contained, in my experience, people that seem to be unswerving in their faithfulness to God and their ability to model what is taught. This evident faithfulness and the many examples of the tangible application of love shown for those in need (all of us) have helped me to understand the greatness of God and the truth of the Gospel.”

    Ben adds, “KSBC has modeled for me where to place my confidence and where not to place my confidence. KSBC is a church unshakably built on the rock of Jesus and his Word, a community that believes and seeks to live out the simple yet powerful message of the gospel. At the same time, KSBC is not a church built on personality or fad or moral performance, but it is made up of real people who are open and honest before God, running to Jesus as their only hope. Unpretentious confidence…that’s the kind of culture I saw God producing at KSBC.”

    Drew says, “What I have grown to love about the KSBC family is the intentionality it brings to every relationship and every endeavor. With a firm grip on the Gospel and a loose grip on structures, traditions, and methodology, KSBC has modeled flexibility, humility, and a unifying passion for the glory of God. As a kid, I rolled my eyes every time someone came back to Lafayette and said, ‘I can't find a church like KSBC.’ Having looked myself for the last 10 years, I now know what they mean.”

    Wonderful wife Sue shares, “My heart overflows when I try and describe or share what our church family has meant to me over these 25 years... There has been such love and caring by so many. I've served side by side with humble and amazing people. There has been acceptance, tears, prayers and friendship. The biggest blessing I believe has been growing together in our wonderful Lord. A journey of seeing God's grace in action. 

    My heart is expressed in this quote: “You need to know, friends, that thanking God over and over for you is not only a pleasure; it’s a must. We have to do it. Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully. Why, it’s only right that we give thanks. We’re so proud of you; you’re so steady and determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you. We tell everyone we meet in the churches all about you.”

    That’s how Eugene Peterson (The Message) paraphrases the Apostle’s opening greeting to the church at Thessalonica found in 2Thessalonians 1:3-4. After all these years, I can’t say it any better than the Apostle or Eugene.  

    WedWednesdayAprApril23rd2014 Adoption Isn't Cool
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Adoption Church Justice 1 comments Add comment


    In recent years, the practice of adoption has enjoyed somewhat of a status surge. Although some statistics indicate that the actual number of global adoptions is decreasing, the prominence and popularity of it certainly seem to be on the rise. It has evidently become a rite of passage in Hollywood (notable actresses who have adopted recently include Sharon Stone, Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, and of course Angelina Jolie), and it’s been featured of late both in film (The Blind Side being a memorable example) and on television (one thinks of NBC’s Parenthood and ABC’s Modern Family).

    Yet this uptick in adoption awareness and appreciation hasn’t been confined to the world of popular media; we’ve seen it in the church as well. Christian leaders are increasingly calling for (and setting an example for) believers to adopt. Churches are rallying around those within their congregation who are on adoptive journeys. Books are being written, conferences are being launched, and coalitions are being formed to bring orphan care to the forefront of our attention.

    As good as all this is, there’s a looming danger. Johhny Carr points it out in his book Orphan Justice:

    These days, it’s becoming “cool” in evangelical circles to be involved in orphan care. As an adoptive father myself, I couldn’t be more thrilled. But as excited as I am to see the church mobilized, I have a grave fear: Orphan care may quickly become evangelical America’s latest religious fad. Let’s not make it just another hip thing to do, another box on the checklist of what it means to be a good Christian, another bumper sticker, or another wristband.

    The problem with this is obvious. Fads come and go. They capture our attention for a season, but quickly give way to something more intriguing, more appealing, more glamorous. (Remember “WWJD” bracelets? Seen one of those around lately? Me neither.)

    The church cannot afford to let this happen with adoption. It’s too important, too vital a part of our mission, too close to the heart of God himself. That’s why Carr goes on to write:

    Many churches view orphan care as a “project,” but biblically, the church is the agent God has set in place for orphan care. As we seek to take seriously God’s command to care for orphaned and vulnerable children, let us not fall prey to just buying the T-shirt and joining the movement. We need to make sure that orphan care and adoption are woven into the very DNA and fabric of our churches.

    When no actresses are traveling overseas and adopting babies, when no popular television shows are featuring adoptive families, and when no books on orphan care are forthcoming from Christian publishers, adoption will still be a necessary, just, and compassionate thing to do. What will happen then? Who will be willing to do the necessary, just, and compassionate thing, even when it has ceased to be popular?

    The church. By the God’s grace, it will be the church that will remain on the front lines, advocating the cause of the fatherless, providing a voice for the voiceless, and caring for those in the most vulnerable positions of society.

    I’m grateful for how I have seen believers at Kossuth embrace the call to care for orphans over the years. And I am encouraged that this commitment has not waned. Currently, we have two families in the fund-raising stage of their own adoptions (each with events coming up in the next few weeks), as well as a handful of other families who are at different points in the adoption process.

    As a church, let’s keep our foot to the gas pedal. Let’s be committed to orphan care, not because it’s cool, but because it’s right.

    ThuThursdayAprApril3rd2014 CommonVision@Kossuth
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Vision 0 comments Add comment

    It would be a strange (putting it mildly) church whose membership requirements include agreement that the Colts are the best NFL team, global warming is the greatest threat to the planet, and Frozen is the best movie produced in the last 10 years. On these topics and many more like them, we can disagree agreeably and yet experience intense community around the clear and core teachings from Scripture on what a church is to be and do. On the other hand, it is equally as strange for a church to allow differences of opinion on the reliability of the Bible, the deity of Jesus, or the definition of the gospel. 

    But, what if we changed the topics a bit? What if the topics that required some level of agreement included how and where we as a church would invest our limited resources to be and do what God has called us to as his church? For example, what if agreement had to be reached concerning how we do global missions, community outreach, compassion ministry, family ministry, and worship? Again while it seems we can agree to disagree, it clearly is a better choice to come to some form of consensus as a church family that allows differences of perspective but also unites us together with a common vision for growth. A church with 14 different perspectives on how to send and support missionaries may seem more spiritual simply due to the volume of missions chatter, but the focused and targeted congregation will ultimately be more productive for God’s glory.

    Defining and agreeing to a vision that is both common and inspiring is a big part of what our current planning process is about. Common, in that many from the church family get involved in shaping it. Inspiring, meaning that individual members of the body would defer on differences in light of that common vision. For example, we do not intend to interact on whether we should do community outreach; but we do want to gain a fresh sense of agreement on how we do that and what that looks like in this community, for our church, at this time. 

    All of that to say: we hope you are already considering which of the dates, April 26 or May 3, you will choose to participate in the CommonVision@Kossuth meetings. These meetings will focus on 6-8 characteristics from the biblical target and work together under the supervision of a seasoned facilitator to…

    • Capture your thoughts and experiences of what we are doing well now
    • Identify where we could focus our efforts to be yet stronger
    • Summarize our efforts as inputs to the elders and ministry committees as they enhance existing programs and develop new action steps

    We are planning for about 50 people at each Saturday meeting. These meetings will be highly interactive small groups focusing for a designated time on important characteristics of church health. Each group then will share their critical thoughts and stories that will be collected, shared, and eventually influence the direction of action plans to strengthen these areas. Your participation in one of these CommonVision@Kossuth meetings will help our leadership and ministry planners answer important questions like, “What could a stronger [insert characteristic] look like here at Kossuth? What ideas and stories have been shared about this particular topic by those in our congregation?”

    More details for the April 26 and May 3 sessions will be announced this week in the services on Sunday (although you can go ahead and sign up online). I really liked the response from our facilitator to my question of why should people participate in these sessions. He wrote back, “A God-honoring church is an intense community. To be the church we should be, we all need to be involved. These upcoming meetings are part of that intensive community effort.”

    An additional nudge: I’ve seen the agenda for Sunday’s Family gathering. You will be glad you came. Some really cool stuff will be shared and then to the Table ... enjoying the opportunity to refresh ourselves in the deep love of Jesus together. See you Sunday.

     
    ThuThursdayMarMarch20th2014 Strategic Planning at KSBC
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Planning Vision 0 comments Add comment


    Here are two quotes for you to consider as I invite you on behalf of the leadership team to participate in the upcoming strategic planning process here at Kossuth. The first is from the Bible:

    For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory. (Proverbs 24:6)


    One commentator entitles this proverb “strategy is strength.” Along with the truth that thoughtful wisdom will succeed where brute or entrenched strength will fail, this proverb shouts out the value of a multiplicity of perspectives in developing that winning strategy. Remember that Proverbs assumes (Prov. 1:7) that all wisdom begins with the fear of God. All planning should be rooted in God and his revealed word and ways.


    What's the first thing you might focus on when considering a church's "plan"? Would you start with the people being served? How about the needs you feel to be most unmet? Should you study the methods other “successful” churches are using and duplicate them? The Scriptures point us initially in two other directions. First, they direct us to know clearly God’s perspective of what a church should look like. That is our target. Second, they call us to work through this strategy developing process in a collaborative way, involving as many of our church family as possible while relying on the various roles, gifts, and experiences of our congregation. We need a level of participation as broad as possible in prayer and engagement in the process from our church family.

    A second quote is from an article regarding organizational health and growth. The article is describing a relatively new approach called “appreciative inquiry”:

    Human systems grow in the direction of what they persistently ask questions about...

    Keeping in mind my limited organizational health training, my take-away on this simple thought is that the dominant, repeated, and perhaps unanswered questions of a group or organization set the course for that organization’s growth or development. We trust the planning process will help us learn to embrace new questions in a way that stretches us and pulls us toward the target of what our church is called by God to be. An exciting aspect of the planning process is found in growing our understanding of the target and learning to persistently ask the questions that will continue to help us move toward it.

    Over the next several months, we are hoping that the strategic planning process here at Kossuth will unite our hearts around refining our answers to questions like these:

    • What should a faithful local church look like?
    • What does God want Kossuth to focus on as a target for our future?
    • What are the strengths that need to be strengthened to grow closer to the target?
    • What are the opportunities to pursue to be God’s church at this time in this town?

    Over the next two Sundays (March 23 and 30) we plan to share the “what” and the “how” of our strategic planning process with the church family at combined Connections Group meetings in the sanctuary. We will distribute and review a document that we are calling “a quick reference guide” to KSBC’s strategic planning with the intent of engaging your participation and answering your questions. If you are not able to attend those sessions, please get a copy of the Quick Reference Guide and connect with church leadership or your Connections or Care Group leaders.  

    ThuThursdayFebFebruary6th2014 Global Outreach Support
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Missions 1 comments Add comment

    It is uncommon to do or buy something today that does not include a recognized system of support. You take a risk when you buy an appliance without a toll-free number or website to refer to as you begin to use the new machine. Most of your technology is supported by a complex and highly trained system of people and more technology. Even in running races and cycling events there are volunteers whose job is to support those participating in these events with food, drink, and medical services. 

    We are growing in our appreciation of the truth that a product or an event is only as effective as the support system connected to it. The same is true in global outreach.

    We had the great joy at Family Gathering last Sunday of interacting with Ryan and Kristen as they prepare to move to East Asia to teach English at a university there. They shared with us stories of how their needs and concerns have been cared for by God and his people in amazing ways. They reminded us of the impact and influence that the entire KSBC family has had on them for the past 14 years since they began at Kossuth as college students. We were able to gather around them and pray for them. We also had the joy of celebrating Jesus with them by remembering his death and resurrection as we shared the bread and the cup. It was a sad and joyful time of saying good-bye to some of our own who are going.

    We were also reminded that our responsibility of global outreach is not only about going but it is about sending as well. Going without sending is like a new product without support. Our church family in fact is a multi-tiered support system for the ones who go. One website explains their understanding of providing technical support in this way: 

    The reason for providing a multi-tiered support system instead of one general support group is to provide the best possible service in the most efficient possible manner. Success of the organizational structure is dependent on the technicians’ understanding of their level of responsibility and commitments, their customer response time commitments, and when to appropriately escalate an issue and to which level.

    That’s it. We are global ministry technicians. That’s what our role is in getting the good news to the end of the earth. We are a part of a multi-tiered support system that must understand our responsibility and commitments and do them in a timely and efficient manner. A few ideas to learn and develop your responsibility as a sender and strengthen your commitment include:

    • Take time to become familiar with the partners listed on the KSBC website missions page
    • Check out this website for ideas, helpful videos, and other links 
    • Ask God to increase your passion to obey him by participating daily in some way as a sender

    Our Missions Team is excited and growing in their understanding of how to help us be an effective and efficient multi-tiered support team for those who go. Not only do they deserve all the support we can give them, but God has so ordered that we share in the joy of reaching the nations with them.

    A good argument can be made that the other thing going on last Sunday evening was simply a matter of inefficient and ineffective support. Peyton could have used more support for sure.

    ThuThursdayJanJanuary30th2014 The Long-Range View
    byBill Davis Tagged Church Vision 0 comments Add comment

    What is one of the first things your children invariably hear when traveling a distance to a grandparents’ or older relative’s house? Is it, “How was school today?” or “Do you have much homework tonight?” or “Don’t forget to take the trash out.” No, those aren’t the phrases you’d expect when they haven’t seen them for a while. We all know they’re going to hear, “Oh my, look how much you’ve grown!” In contrast, why don’t they hear that from us at home so often? Imagine if each day your children came home from school and heard from us parents, “Hi honey, how was school? Oh my, look how much you’ve grown!” (and the resulting annoyed response, “C’mon, Mom, you’ve said that every day this week!”).

    The obvious answer of course lies in the difference between the everyday view and the long-range view. Aunt Martha has the luxury of focusing on the long-range view of your little darlings as they grow, and just can’t help her excitement as she pinches their cheeks. I’m a little like Aunt Martha these days, but in a forward-looking way. I’ve had the luxury lately of spending time looking, praying, and thinking about Kossuth in a longer-range scope. In fact, thinking about Kossuth beyond 2014 is one of the reasons I’m excited about Kossuth in 2014.

    A couple weeks ago, Paul very helpfully encouraged us to consider the renewal of our commitments as members of the KSBC body. Last week, Tom stirred our anticipation of several blessings coming our way in 2014. This week, I thought it might be helpful to give some insight to even longer-range thinking you don’t hear much about yet but will in 2014.

    One of our initiatives is a multi-year strategic plan. How much is “multi-year”? Personally, I can’t help but have a sense of 10-15 years in the back of my mind. Then again, James 4:13-17 suggests perhaps our plans may change in short order. Officially we’ve focused ourselves on about a 5-year window.  We’ve been laying the groundwork to consider a plan that’s perhaps a bit different from other “strategic plans”, because our God-centered theology informs us we aren’t sufficient to bring about anything on our own steam (e.g., 2Cor 3:5, 4:7). So how do you “plan” for what you can’t “make happen?” It’s a question that’s driven us to look hard again into the scriptures that Jesus will build his church and our role in that work. As we solidify this framework in the next month or so, we look forward to a wide circle of our congregation to join us in the long-range thinking process this spring, with further planning to follow thereafter. By the end of this year our goal is to enjoy a well-defined set of priorities and principles that, Lord willing, strongly guides where we invest our energy and resources for years to come.

    Another area of longer-range impact is our adult-discipleship. In our leadership meetings we have been working through various directions for church-wide adult discipleship curriculum. Abraham has poured countless hours into researching materials and we are reviewing options for a plan that spans three years or more of materials designed to build year upon year for the health of our body. It’s easy to try to measure “church growth” in terms of headcount, dollars, buildings, and programs. Ephesians 4:12-16 offers an alternative picture of growth as the maturity and love of the church in action, and it’s exciting to ponder. As we finish this curriculum groundwork, mull over with our Connection Group teachers, and further flesh-out the details, it’s again possible we’ll finish 2014 with a foundation of a growth plan that will impact KSBC for many years to come!

    We can’t neglect the daily responsibilities. The trash needs emptied, the homework needs done, and the snow needs shoveled. But as creatures made in the image of our eternal God, we get to consider more than today – even more than this year. I’m pumped about the planning and work being done in 2014 that will serve us, Lord willing, long beyond 2014. Please pray for wisdom for the several folks who are and will be involved in current and upcoming planning efforts. Always feel free to talk to any of us elders about it anytime. Be careful, though; if we get too excited we just might pinch your cheeks. 

    ThuThursdayNovNovember21st2013 Spending Our Money
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Money 0 comments Add comment


    If we sold North and South Dakota to Canada for 17 trillion dollars and paid off our national debt (we’d probably get a toaster or similar thank you gift), we as a country – at our current rate of expenses over income – would still be in trillions of dollars of debt within a year.  

    Money is a big deal when it comes to nations, churches, or families accomplishing their God-ordained mission. The clear implication in the New Testament is that money can be such a divisive and distracting issue that church leaders are to be characterized by being free from the love of money. Elders specifically are exhorted to shepherd the flock “not for shameful gain” (1 Peter 5:1-3).

    We are coming to the time of year when we as a church family agree on a plan to spend our money in a manner that best accomplishes our mission. This is a major expression of our unity and union in Christ – we give, save, and spend in agreed upon ways for the advance of the gospel and growth of the church.

    Our proposed 2014 budget is available for review and will be presented to the congregation for discussion and approval at the December 1 Family Gathering.

    Generosity is one of our corporate values as a church. The ability to be responsive and liberal with our resources comes from wise planning and careful controls. Our desire as leaders is that the church’s process of managing our finances would be a God-honoring model for every individual and family to follow in their personal financial management.

    The budget essentially is an estimated plan based on reasonable expectations of income and expenses for the coming year. Projected income – the freewill giving of our church family – takes into consideration the last year’s receipts as well as some sense of anticipated growth in giving over the coming year. The expense side includes how we plan to support staff, ministry initiatives, global outreach, and operating costs. The budget presented for your review has been put together by the Finance Team with the input from many members and ministry leaders.

    In terms of deficit and indebtedness, Kossuth by God’s grace is headed the opposite direction of the federal government. We are on track to finish another year with expenses less than receipts. After paying off the mortgage for our current facility almost two years ago, our current indebtedness taken on to invest in the Crosswalk Commons start up is being reduced regularly through budgeted monthly payments and special offerings. We have saved enough over the past few years to fund a projected roof replacement next year and have been able to respond quickly and generously to several financial needs in our church family and community.

    I trust that these summary statements will encourage you to invest in and support the work of God at Kossuth with confidence and sacrifice. I am extremely grateful for the diligent and skillful oversight of our Finance Team led by Ron Chapman and Brian Musser. Please contact the church office for a copy of the budget to review in preparation for our discussion and vote at the December Family Gathering.

    WedWednesdayOctOctober23rd2013 Communication Commitments
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Communication 0 comments Add comment


    Healthy relationships are built on good communication. We would readily acknowledge that the interchange of information is a challenge, but one that is absolutely essential to a healthy and loving relationship. Living in a world of way too much information as we do, staying in the loop of what is happening in important relationships such as our church family requires a level of commitment. As we complete our study of 1 Corinthians, it is interesting to note that the Apostle Paul shares valuable relational information regarding travel plans, ministry updates, news, and greetings from multiple friends and ministry partners (1 Cor. 16:5-24). All of this is essential to maintaining and building productive, Christ-focused relationships in the church. It is important to stay in the loop as much as possible! 

    Staying on the information highway around KSBC includes keeping up with the following commitments:

    1. Attending our regularly scheduled meetings. The weekly bulletin, scrolling announcements on the big screen before worship service, and occasional reminders and reports from the platform are all basic ways to share vital information. Perhaps one of the most important meetings regarding staying in the loop around Kossuth is our monthly Family Gathering. Often reports, decisions, and happenings are brought up there that are not shared in other venues.

    2. Staying connected online. Our website is a hub of activity and information. Each week, new content appears in our sermon archive, on the Elder Blog, and in Connections. And to help you stay current on all this information, we send out the Weekly Web Update each Friday with links to all of these resources and more. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you’re plugged into Kossuth via social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter.

    3. Participating in Care and Connection Groups. Each of these groups ties you into the flow of information at different levels. Each Connection Group provides regular email updates and weekly in-class announcements. Each Care Group is together frequently and maintains ongoing communication. In these two group settings the majority of sharing and responding is done—such as providing meals, organizing showers, helping with projects, making hospital visits, and caring for other special needs.

    Many of you are ahead of me already. You are probably thinking about all those who do not connect online, are unable to attend our meetings, or do not participate in a Connection or Care group. I know—it’s a real problem. How shall they hear? They shall not hear without increased commitment on their part, or if unable to do that, they shall not hear without a speaker—like you. Here are a couple “take-aways” to help close the loop for many around KSBC.

    First of all, please communicate with each other. Do you know someone who does not attend or participate who must feel out of the loop? Contact them regularly and either help them connect or feed them the information from your connections. This is a shared responsibility. It is more than leadership and staff can do alone.

    Secondly, do you have information that someone in the church should know? Do you need information that you cannot find? Has someone fallen, given birth, had surgery, received bad news, died, won the lottery, become upset, stopped coming to services, moved to Tibet, or reached a significant milestone in life? For all of these and more, please contact the church office. Carrie can efficiently connect you, your question, or your information with the right people to expedite the communication exchange.

    If you’re reading this, then your job is to spread the word about how the word is spread at KSBC. Remember, how beautiful are the feet of those who spread good news! 

    WedWednesdayOctOctober2nd2013 Appreciating Pastor Appreciation Month
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Encouragement Leaders 0 comments Add comment

    October is National Down Syndrome Awareness month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, Dwarfism Awareness Month, and Pastor Appreciation Month. And these aren’t even all the issues assigned to October for heightened awareness and action. There are quite a few. Much can be accomplished for all sorts of causes by a concentrated effort to raise awareness.

    I thought about trying to find the origins of Pastor Appreciation Month but came to the conclusion that it does not matter. Regardless of the sometimes prevailing notion that it is another profit-driven conspiracy by the gift and greeting card industry, Pastor Appreciation Month is a great opportunity to raise our awareness about the importance of biblical appreciation and affirmation in our church body. 

    Here are a few thoughts to stimulate energy and action, some gleaned from a quick trip around the blogosphere on this topic.

    • Showing honor and appreciation in specific, continual, and random ways to each other is a huge part of living out the gospel of grace (Rom. 12:10). Grace received launches grace extended to others. The question is not, “Do you feel appreciated?” but rather, “Are you expressing appreciation?” Expected appreciation rarely ever meets expectations. Be creative and excessive in your affirming others in our church. There are so many unrecognized warriors who are working hard, persevering through suffering, and serving faithfully—all within a few feet of you. Pastors may be a part of that crowd, but they are not the only ones worthy of your acknowledgment.
    • Showing honor toward church leaders is so pleasing to God that he made it clear in the Bible for us to do it (Heb. 13:7, 17; Gal. 6:6). It can get complicated at times having sinners taught by sinners and rebels led by rebels. One way that God helps us with that is by assigning us the responsibility to extend grace to each other in regular and liberal amounts. Pastors have an important role to fill and task to perform in our church. Everyone in our church does as well. However, your awareness of the role and function of the four elders at KSBC needs to be raised to recognize their ministry of the word and prayer, their careful oversight of the health of our church, and the example of their sacrificial service for the gospel.
    • The wisdom writer reminds us that humility comes before honor (Prov. 15:33). Like many things, appreciation and affirmation are better caught than taught. The point here is that genuine appreciation or honor does not begin with—nor is it sustained by—a special awareness month. One way you can respond to this special month is by focused prayer for the KSBC pastors, that God will produce a new and growing culture of appreciation around Kossuth through their examples of humility and appreciation of others. Focused prayer for pastors is a good gift. Telling them about it is good as well. 
    I thank God for my pastors, Paul, Tom, and Bill. They are humble and holy men. They love Christ and his church. They have ministered love and grace into my life and family more times than I can count. I thank God for Clyde Truax, Karl Smith, Wilbur Rooke and many others who pastored me from childhood. These men join thousands of others that God has used to help me know and love him better, including you. I thank God for you. Let’s prayerfully raise awareness regarding the power of appreciation.     

    ThuThursdaySepSeptember12th2013 Fake Smiles & Church Billboards
    byDrew Humphrey Tagged Church Suffering 1 comments Add comment


    I greatly dislike church billboards. And it’s not because I’m necessarily opposed to local churches marketing themselves. It’s because I get tired of seeing the painfully cliché stock photos which so frequently grace these supersized ads—you know, the pictures of intolerably happy people smiling like they’ve just heard the funniest joke on earth, across which is usually superimposed some inane and vacuous phrase like “Paradise Community Church: A Place to Belong.” 

    To the uninitiated passerby, such a billboard might give the impression that church is a place of unrestrained exuberance and effervescent joy—kind of like a mix between a comedy club, a pep rally, and Christmas at Grandma’s. But when I see billboards like that, all I can do is scratch my head. Because having been around church my whole life, I have to confess that I can’t remember ever having met anyone as perpetually jubilant as those flawless faces so enduringly suspended above the road as I drive by.

    The church that I know doesn’t have any billboard people in it. The church that I know is filled with people who are weak, broken, and needy. People who are wrestling through difficulties and trials. People whose health seems to be failing. People who are dealing with loss. People whose kids sap every ounce of energy from their bones. People who are working difficult jobs. People who are enduring mistreatment and misunderstanding. People who are navigating relational conflict. People whose indwelling sin must be battled relentlessly. People who are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted, struck down (2 Cor. 4:8-10).

    And yet here’s something quite remarkable: I find these people to be far more attractive and appealing than the guffawing family on the billboard.

    Earlier this week while reading Laurel Gasque’s biographical sketch of the late H.R. Rookmaaker, Art and the Christian Mind, I came across a paragraph that captured my attention. Rookmaaker was a Dutch art historian (and close friend of Francis Schaeffer) who became somewhat of a hero for progressive young Christian artists overlooked or dismissed by the religious establishment in the '60s and '70s (particularly in Britain and the U.S.). Gasque explained what attracted these young artists to Rookmaaker: “The dainty pietism of much of British and American evangelicalism was antithetical to Rookmaaker’s brand of realism… [These young artists] were ready for something more authentically engaged with their experience of life.”

    This observation is fascinating. And it explains why wounded, broken people are better advertisements for the grace of God and the centrality of the church than their more cheery counterparts on the prominent billboard. They carry an authenticity of experience that the stock photo doesn’t.

    The fact of the matter is this: sinners don’t need an over-processed religion of happiness and teeth-whitening products. They don’t need a church where they’ll be injected with botox, told a few jokes, then sent on their way to be happy for Jesus. That’s the “dainty pietism” which Rookmaaker and others found so unsatisfying.

    Instead, sinners need the gritty realism of the gospel. They need to accept the fact that they are weak, sinful, and hurting. For only then will they find that Jesus meets them in their weakness, that he loves them in their sin, and that he upholds them in their pain.

    That kind of thing may not look great on a billboard, but quite frankly, who cares? An authentic, gospel-shaped community speaks for itself. 

    WedWednesdayAugAugust14th2013 Worship: Ready or Not?
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Worship 0 comments Add comment


    One of my friends in grade school was the son of the pastor of the white church with a cemetery on the side in our little town of 500 people. We soon learned that he and his brothers could only play ball with the rest of us kids on Saturday until about 3:00 pm. Regardless of how good the game was or how close the score, at the appointed hour they had to make their way home to the parsonage and begin getting ready for church. Needless to say, they took a lot of heat from the rest of us who wanted to finish the game. It was the norm in their home to begin Saturday evening preparing for their celebration of the Lord’s Day—shining shoes, laying out clothes, gathering everyone around the table for a meal, taking baths, enjoying family game time. It piqued my curiosity to see how my friend moaned and complained to me about it when we were playing, only to see how much he actually loved it when I was there as an invited guest from time to time. I never quite understood his big bucktooth grin while showing me how his Dad taught him to shine his shoes.  

    I recently read this comment from an unknown source describing a common approach to worship: “We worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” Playing at worship is an apt description that exposes how serious, prepared, and engaged we are in so many of our pursuits, while maintaining habits of passive, casual, and inexpressive participation at corporate worship.

    Whether you have ever shined a shoe or regardless of your belief that a distraction-free family meal is even possible, the point is that Pastor Brown and his family had something unique: a Personal Participation Plan for corporate worship.

    Worship of the one true God has always required preparation on the part of the worshipper. From catching and transporting that special animal for sacrifice in ancient times to preparing your heart, mind, and body to engage with God and others today, preparation is a big deal. Too often the musicians, preachers, or greeters catch the undeserved criticism that in fact should be pointed at the lack of preparation on the part of the worshipper.

    My Bible reading plan landed me today in Psalm 100. This invitation song sets a clear expectation that worshippers of God think a certain way and bring certain things with them to worship. The joyful noise of our worship is produced by a heart overwhelmed by the love and faithfulness of God. That requires intentional preparation and cultivation.

    So, here are two quick suggestions for your Personal Participation Plan for Sunday morning worship with your church family:

    1. Prepare your heart. Thanksgiving, praise, and joyful noises that will magnify God and encourage your beloved church family must be prepared carefully. Could you fit a quiet time alone with God into Saturday evening or Sunday morning where you spend time in the word, prayer, and song asking God to fill you and use you to draw attention to him? Dads, this could develop into a productive meal time together as a family.
    2. Prepare your body. Alertness, energy, attentiveness, and responsiveness require a rested body and mind. It amazes me sometimes how much we try to fit in on a weekend or Saturday night without thought of anything more than being at church close to on time.
    So, go ahead, make a joyful noise to the Lord with God’s people this Sunday. But you have some work to do to get ready to do it well.
    WedWednesdayMayMay15th2013 Church Leadership: Made by the Holy Spirit
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Leaders 0 comments Add comment


    "...in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers..."
    (Acts 20:38)

    Having been involved in pastoral leadership in some form for nearly 40 years, I find this qualifying phrase both frustrating and comforting. It simply teaches that God, by his Spirit, makes, appoints, and connects pastoral leaders to local churches.

    This is frustrating because at times the church leadership appointment process does appear to be a thoroughly man-focused enterprise. A man has the position of eldership apparently due to his qualifications and the combined wisdom of the people who voted him into that responsibility. Thus we are sometimes led to over-value human leadership and under-value the hand of God in all things. This truth from Acts 20:38 is comforting in that, despite human weakness and growing pains, God in his wisdom uses and blesses our efforts in affirming and appointing church servant leaders. At the end of our careful and humble efforts of appointing elders and deacons, it can be said of each: he was made by the Holy Spirit.

    As we rally our thoughts and prayers over the next few months to find and affirm those “Holy Spirit made” elders and deacons in our congregation, let’s keep a few key identifying marks in mind. Our task is to seek and submit to the oversight of God’s Spirit as he makes men overseers and deacons. As you participate in nominating men in the next few weeks and eventually affirming and appointing, keep these two simple concerns in mind.

    First, we are looking for carefully attentive men. The Holy Spirit actively protects and advances the glory of Christ in the church through leaders that are focused, disciplined, alert, and attentive (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Tim. 4:16). While there are many men who are driven to give careful attention to various causes, we are seeking to identify those who are carefully attentive toward their own discipleship, the spiritual health of the church, and the protection of Christ centered discipleship in the church. After a careful reading of these verses along with the Apostle’s self description in Acts 20:18-27, would you be inclined to trust leaders like this with your spiritual development? The Holy Spirit is making and matching us up with men who are demonstrating a careful attention to following Christ, both in their personal lives and in the church.

    Secondly, we need God’s Spirit to help us identify men who are submissive. Submissive leaders can be identified by their practical response to God in times of suffering and hardship, their work ethic, and their relational passion (Acts 20:31-38). Men who endure and embrace suffering well, keep working hard to build others up, and have developed authentic relationships show that their core value is dependence on God. They get it. They understand that God is trustworthy, his grace is sufficient, and he is at work making people like Christ (20:32). Do you find yourself attracted to follow submissive leaders like this? The Holy Spirit is at work building submissive men by various means all around Kossuth. We need men like this to lead, feed, protect, and serve our diversely gifted church family.

    Please join the cooperative movement to enlarge our leadership team at KSBC by prayerfully and carefully finding those “made by the Spirit” among us. Look for nomination forms and instructions to be distributed on Sunday May 26.     

    WedWednesdayMayMay8th2013 Roadmap to a Noble Task
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Church Leaders 0 comments Add comment


    One author, in a chapter arguing that biblical church leadership is one of the signs of a healthy church, writes: 

    [It] is a tremendous call that God gives us, to recognize and respect godly authority in the church. This is a sign of a healthy church and of healthy Christians. This is our call. This is our privilege. And there is a world that needs to see people made in the image of God living out that image in this way. Let’s pray that we can do that together in our churches—for our churches’ health and for God’s glory.

    During the month of April the Elders asked the KSBC family to begin praying regarding the selection process for more elders and deacons. Here’s the request as it read in the April 2013 Family Gathering Prayer Guide:

    Pray for God’s wisdom and direction as we begin the selection process for more elders and deacons. We anticipate some teaching and review of roles and responsibilities of church leaders and collecting recommendations over the next few months. Let’s dedicate April to seeking God together to both stir men’s hearts to serve and direct our attention to identify them.

    April has come and gone and here we are in the middle of the month of May! This past Sunday at the May Family Gathering, Bill Davis presented a “roadmap” of this process to assist the Kossuth family to prayerfully anticipate and participate in the process ahead. I believe Bill’s opening phrase was important for the entire Kossuth family to hear (again, perhaps) and reflect upon: “The elder and deacon selection process is one which starts and ends with the congregation.” This takes place as we commit ourselves to pray. As prayerful consideration is taking place regarding who the Lord might be raising up to shepherd His people at Kossuth, we will hear more details at the combined Connection Group this coming Sunday (we’ll also be hearing from our Global Partner from Italy, Andrea Artioli). Be sure to plan on being there!

    • Nomination process (May 26 through June 16)
    • Examination and approval of candidates by Elders (June to Fall)
    • Interviews by Elders with the candidates (Fall into early 2014)
    • Announcement of candidates to the congregation/interaction through teaching, Q & A, etc. (Early 2014 to Fall of 2014)
    • Appointment by the end of 2014
    As this process gets into full swing, please continue to pray. Our May Family Gathering Prayer Guide specifically calls the Kossuth family to pray this way:

    Continue to pray for God to raise up servant leaders as we further engage in the elder and deacon selection process this month. Pray that our appreciation and understanding of church leadership will grow as we prayerfully nominate men to be considered.

    As we engage in the tremendous calling God has given to us, His people, let’s be committed to prayerful anticipation and look forward to joyful participation so the glory of Jesus Christ may be seen in the health of His church. May God grant His wisdom and His favor as we trust Him to lead us through this process.
    WedWednesdayMayMay1st2013 When We Don't Obey
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Discipline Sin 1 comments Add comment


    Excommunication, church discipline, or removal from church membership: regardless of what we call it, this biblical responsibility of a healthy church is misunderstood by many and unpopular with most.  Perhaps our discomfort with this topic is rooted in our own lack of understanding of the teaching of Scripture, our hesitancy to position ourselves as judge over someone, or some experience of a mishandled attempt in the past. My desire in this blog post is to provide a bit of a road map for you to guide and refresh your understanding of this crucial and defining responsibility of a local church. It is not an exhaustive explanation as much as it is intended to stimulate your study and thinking.

    While there are a number of foundational places to begin, let’s start by recognizing that a local church is much more than a gathering of a group of followers of Christ. A local church has been given authority by Christ to oversee and advance the gospel. This authority and responsibility extend to the affirmation, oversight, and development of the individual believer’s discipleship or growth in Christ-likeness. (Check out Matthew 16:13-20, 18:15-20, and 1 Cor. 12:24b-27.)

    Next, consider the implications of church membership. It makes sense that if the local church is given the keys to the Kingdom by Christ, then there should be some formal submission on the part of individual Christians to that authority and responsibility. Church membership is not as much joining a church as it is submitting to a church. Local church authority is not absolute or perfect, but it is biblical. While the church member commits to serve and grow under the oversight of the church and its leaders, the local church affirms and promises to provide oversight for the individual’s growth and development in the gospel. This connection between individual believers and a local body is evident in passages such as Acts 2:42-47, 1Tim.5:9-16, and Heb. 10:24-25.

    Now add the assigned responsibilities of the local church that we often refer to as the ordinances or sacraments. Many throughout the history of the church have argued for three core Christ-assigned responsibilities that keep the local church on task of advancing the kingdom for the glory of God. There is believer’s baptism—sort of the front door to the church, where a person’s conversion and discipleship are initially affirmed. There is also the Lord’s Supper, where our connection to Christ is continually remembered. Through this ordinance, a believer’s heart and life are renewed and energized in communion with Christ and others. Then there is church discipline, which is pointed at protecting the name and reputation of Jesus and his church. All three are local church responsibilities pointed at affirming, renewing, and protecting the church member in his or her journey toward fullness and completeness in Christ.

    Biblical church discipline is not limited in scope to removal from membership or prompted by only a few of the more remarkable or public sins. It is based on the premise that sin is destructive, that genuine believers are to hate sin, and that they are in a war with sin on several fronts every day. Getting involved helping a brother or sister in their struggle with sin assumes that believers are submissive to the Scriptures and the church, teachable and humble before loving truth, and repentant when sin is plainly evident in their lives. Sometimes it is necessary to exercise discipline or remove a person from membership because it is no longer possible to affirm their relationship with Christ due to the consistent absence of these identifying marks of a born again person. (Review passages such as 2 Thess. 3:13-15, 1 Cor. 5:1-13, Matt. 18:15-20, and Gal. 6:1-5.)

    The joy lingers in my heart from this past Sunday morning of celebrating and affirming the union between Christ and each of the five believers who were baptized: Steve, Nicole, Maria, Abbey and Caleb—then to share in the refreshment of that union around the Lord’s Table. The Church must stay vitally connected to Christ and live out our union that he purchased with his precious blood. As important as it is to begin at baptism and refresh at the Lord’s Table, it is just as crucial that we lovingly protect each other and the name of Jesus. Thanks for thinking through these things. I pray your commitment to and love for the church of Jesus Christ will be stimulated.   

    ThuThursdayAprApril25th2013 Do You Hear What I Hear?
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Encouragement Love 1 comments Add comment


    If I ever write a book or do the stand-up comedy routine that I occasionally find myself drafting, it would certainly have to include stories of what I hear and don’t hear. My hearing aids and devices are a huge help, but there are times when it does become confusing and comical. However, there are some things that I hear quite well. I want to see if you have heard them. All of these I have heard in the past few weeks around KSBC.

    I heard two firsthand, up-close, and personal accounts of hurting people being well cared for by their Care Group members and leaders. In both cases I found myself asking if we could do this or that to help and the response was the same: “No, my Care group is already doing that.” I have not heard from anyone that our small group ministry is perfect, but it is certainly encouraging to hear of the mutual care and growth that characterizes a unified body taking place among us (1 Cor. 12:24-26). Thanks, Care Group members and leaders, for taking the glory of Christ and each other so seriously.

    Saturday I listened as Al and Debbie Schinckel expressed their gratitude for the number of KSBC folks who traveled to Plymouth to be a part of Nathan and Rachel’s wedding. This is a story that I hear quite often. Whether it is weddings, funerals, or hospital visits, our church family has a reputation for going out of their way to be there for one another. Let me encourage you a bit more in important opportunities like these. Baby and wedding showers are incredible opportunities to love, encourage and bless—even more so when you do not know the young (typically) lady or mom very well or at all. I have heard good shower reports along with some rather discouraging ones. What do you hear?

    I am thinking of three KSBC people about whom I have heard stories this week. What each story has in common is that the person heard of a need, stepped out of their comfort zone, and acted to minister the grace of God. One was an older, experienced guy speaking into the life of a younger, struggling guy. Another was a person giving up a major chunk of a Saturday to assist one of our senior saints ministering to some unbelieving students. The third was a Connections Group member listening well to another and stepping up to serve them in a responsible manner. When I tend to lose focus or become discouraged, it is a genuine encouragement to be reminded of the partnership we have with each other in shared gospel ministry.

    What are you hearing? More importantly, what are you telling others that you have heard? God is at work in ways that are sometimes unrecognized and untold. One has to wonder why someone hanging around KSBC recently hasn’t yet told the story of the missionary’s response to the $25,000 gift, or the powerful baptism testimonies from a week ago, or the progress seen in the Crosswalk building pictures.

    I know that I do not hear everything. You hear and are aware of significant ways that God is at work in and around KSBC. Tune into the works of God among us and gossip them to others for the glory of God and the building up of his church.

    Have you heard that we are having baptisms and celebrating the Lord’s Table this Sunday morning at 9:15? Five people are scheduled to share their faith stories and publicly identify themselves as Christ followers. I have read their stories. I can’t wait for you to hear them; you will love Christ more after you do.  

    FriFridayDecDecember14th2012 KSBC Leadership: 2013 and Beyond
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Leaders Vision 0 comments Add comment


    Who doesn’t enjoy and appreciate a gift—especially gifts that really meet a need or effectively improve our quality of life! The scriptures (Ephesians 4:8-16) teach us that Christ gives to the church gifted people as pastors and teachers to train us to be a strong, loving and growing body in Christ.   

    We are excited to continue the growth and development of our leadership team at every level but especially the pastoral leadership. We are announcing that the elders are seeking the congregation’s affirmation regarding the appointment of Abraham Cremeens and Drew Humphrey to the position of Associate Pastor upon their graduation from seminary in June 2013. Let me briefly provide some defining values that compel us as elders in this direction and a description of the appointment process we envision.

    Defining values that drive us toward these men for pastoral leadership include:
    • Each has an unusual giftedness, desire and competency for pastoral ministry. Their 3 years with us have given us a view into their theology, family, marriage, character, strengths, and weaknesses. While they will have a learning curve, we believe they will be a blessing to our church family and community.
    • They possess a fresh vision for adult discipleship, leadership development, youth and family ministry, corporate worship, and reaching lost people in our community. We are excited to complete the seminary/intern phase of their training so we can begin to benefit from their perspectives in a greater way.
    • They share a strong commitment to the gospel and the health of the church that is able to lead our church for many years to come. They are younger. I am older and that condition is progressive! The average age of our elders is closer to 50+ and while we believe we are just coming into our prime, it is wise to provide for the future health of our church by developing and empowering younger leaders.
    Please help us determine God’s direction by participating in the appointment process in these ways:
    • Please read the job descriptions and completed questionnaires by each candidate to become better acquainted with them and how they will serve in pastoral ministry. You can find these documents here or by contacting the church office. 
    • Plan to participate at our January 6th Family Gathering when we will have a time of interaction with the congregation, Drew, Abraham and the elders in the format of a Q&A. 
    • After that congregational interaction, the elders will wait at least 2 weeks for congregational response of concerns, questions or affirmation. Any significant concerns that bring to light possible reasons for not proceeding with the appointment will be evaluated and addressed by the elders along with those who raise the concern. If there are no irresolvable issues we anticipate an Elder vote in late January and a report to the congregation at the February family gathering.
    Please make this process of appointing Associate Pastors a matter of regular prayer. The faithful ministry of godly pastors is a significant part of our church being effective in leading people in a growing relationship with Christ.   
    ThuThursdayDecDecember6th2012 Redeeming Church Conflicts
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community Conflict 0 comments Add comment



    The title of this blog post is the title of a book I am reading, the subtitle of which is “Turning Crisis into Compassion and Care.” While we are experiencing some changes as a church and some evaluation on the part of some church members as to how they fit at KSBC, the case studies mentioned in the book of churches in conflict are far more developed and painful. However, the book is helpful whether we consider ourselves in conflict presently or not. Close and committed relationships like those found in a church family are always prone to be tested by conflict, disagreements, and misunderstandings (Phil. 4:2-3). Here’s a helpful quote from the introduction to the book:

    One of the most common emotions people feel when facing serious church conflict is hopelessness. Often this is because conflict puts blinders on our eyes and tempts us to isolate ourselves into self-protective groups who agree with us. In our passion to defend our position, we develop tunnel vision that clouds our judgment as we focus our time, energy and emotions almost exclusively on temporal matters. Things of heaven, theological truths about God and his church, even a passion for bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the unsaved, all begin to fade from focus as positions become entrenched in daily battles and we experience despair.

    This is a wise and helpful warning both for ourselves and for our understanding of those we are trying to lovingly encourage that may be experiencing some form of conflict. Helping entrenched people is what we do and who we are—after all, we are the church. The book suggests three “best questions” (Prov.20:5) to guide us toward redeeming our conflicts and disagreements.

    Redeeming conflict question #1: Can we pray? Right now. Together. About this. Let’s think about God and talk to him together about the feelings and tensions being experienced.

    Redeeming conflict question #2: What are you learning about God? Right now. Through this. Talk about the one who is bigger and stronger than you. Don’t be distracted from the purposes of God who is behind the scenes of every detail of your life. Include with this one what is being learned about church, the role of church leadership, and the commitment of membership.

    Redeeming conflict question #3: How can this conflict advance the cause of Christ? Right now. Because of this. Through you and your response. People are watching you with the potential of glorifying God in heaven as a result of your choices and responses.

    Better to be somewhat prepared don’t you think? Just in case you happen to be in the neighborhood of church conflict, take a deep breath and start asking questions. Wonderful, marvelous grace—we grow to value Christ as we point each other to our trustworthy heavenly Father by listening well and asking “best questions” such as these. 

    ThuThursdayOctOctober4th2012 Come for Supper


    Imagine Mrs. Romney texting Mrs. Obama this message: “M’s home tonight, why don’t you and B come over for supper?” In addition to all the obvious reasons, this would not happen because parties actively opposing one another are not expected to seek or enjoy each other’s presence. Coming over for supper is loaded with meaning most of which has nothing to do with food.

    Jesus commanded (a rather compelling invitation) his followers to come to supper. At times I find myself deeply concerned that many of our church family miss out on the blessings of participation in the Lord’s Supper. At times a lack of planning or effort on my part may cause the time at the Table to seem like a less than thoughtful tack-on at the end of a meeting. Some may view participation as a simple or sterile function of obediently downing a tasteless cracker and some juice. Let’s consider in a fresh manner why the Lord Jesus has invited us to supper with him and each other on a regular basis.

    I am currently benefiting from a group of guys who meet on Wednesday mornings early to work our way through Wayne Grudem’s book Bible Doctrine. This week, from the chapter on the Lord’s Supper, we reviewed these 7 benefits or truths that are symbolized and affirmed as we participate at the Table of the Lord.
    1. We symbolize and proclaim the life transforming death of Jesus Christ.
    2. We participate (take) in the benefits of Christ’s death for ourselves.
    3. We receive spiritual nourishment for our hungry and weary souls.
    4. We give clear evidence of our unity with one another.
    5. Christ affirms his love for you.
    6. Christ affirms that all the blessings of salvation are reserved for you.
    7. We affirm our faith in Christ.
    Add to these the opportunity to express our thanksgiving and you begin to see how essential this meal is to maintaining and growing our love for Christ.

    Two take-aways come to mind.

    Our church leadership needs to increase our efforts to schedule, teach, lead, and present the Lord’s Table in clear and compelling ways. It is too easy to allow something so crucial to become routine and done in a less than thoughtful manner. Please pray for us and help us as you are able.

    Second, our church family should elevate their view of the Lord’s Supper in such a way that they joyfully participate whenever called upon to do so. The invitation and announcement of the Lord’s Supper here at KSBC should be an irresistible and attractive ‘come for supper’ for every one of us direct from our Savior himself.

    See you at supper this Sunday at Family Gathering!
    FriFridaySepSeptember7th2012 Where have you been?
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church 0 comments Add comment



    For those who have been out of the communications loop over the summer for various reasons, and for those who feel like they are struggling to keep up with things at KSBC, let’s review!

    But first, I want to offer a word of thanks to you who serve in our children’s ministry, nursery or in other ways that have kept you away from strategic meetings where changes have been talked about and explained. I have been surprised recently when some have asked, “What’s a Connection Group?” only to discover that they have been teaching in our children’s ministry all summer. Again, thanks.

    Here’s a glossary with some brief definitions that will help you understand and participate in the modest makeover here at KSBC.

    9:15 Corporate Worship. This is our gathering for Word and worship. There seems to be plenty of parking and seating. One thought for many of you: please arrive earlier than you have been. Those moments of quieting your soul and expressing your love to others are precious worship opportunities.

    10:45 Connection Groups. These groups, formerly known as ABFs, meet for the purpose of connecting people to truth and to each other. I think you will like the tweaking that has been done. Each CG has a leadership team with a few teachers, an elder and a few Care Group (see next entry) leaders. These groups begin this coming Sunday. Information and helpers will be available to assist you in selecting a group for you.

    24/7 Care Groups. These groups, formerly known as Small Groups, have been renamed to represent what they do rather than describe their size. They meet at least twice a month for the purpose of encouraging spiritual growth and providing life-on-life care. To date we have more people committed to Care Groups than we have had in several years. You can still get in a group! Contact the church office or make a fuss at someone at the welcome desk on Sunday.

    Ministry Fair. This incredibly helpful time of meeting people, learning about opportunities to serve, and connecting with ministry leaders is scheduled for August of 2013! If you missed the three-week MF that we just had, you did miss a great time, but you haven’t missed your chance to connect with opportunities to serve Christ here at KSBC. Simply raise your hand this Sunday at Connection Group (#2 above) and ask your teacher/leader, “How can I make Christ known to others and build eternal treasure by serving here at KSBC?” Go ahead, try that.

    There are really good classes for children, teens, students, and senior saints at the 10:45 hour as well. Awana, ladies’ Bible class, Wednesday prayer meeting, youth and family ministry, and much more is also available to promote the gospel and our mutual holiness.

    Well that’s a start. This gives you the basic terms that will help you have the best possible chance of growing in your relationship with Christ and making him known to the world alongside the precious people of KSBC. See you Sunday. And be sure to get a name tag at the table in the foyer so folks will know who you are—especially if you have been gone a while!

    FriFridayAugAugust10th2012 Staying in sync?
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church 0 comments Add comment



    While I may not know much about Olympic pairs diving or how my electronic devices work, I can tell when they are not in sync. Staying in sync as a church family is far more important and requires considerable effort. Psalm 133:1 might as well read, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers are in sync.”

    Staying in step with each other in times of transition and change depends on everyone’s participation. Over the next several weeks we are planning various venues both to share important information and to interact as a church family. We encourage you to do your best to set these dates and times aside on your schedule to stay informed as we move into our fall season.

    Sunday 8/12: The Elders are calling a congregational meeting at 11:20 in the sanctuary to share an announcement that is important for the entire church family. Regular classes will meet at 10:45 with an early dismissal for this 11:20 meeting.

    Sundays 8/19, 26 and 9/2: Each of these Sundays the 10:45 hour will include the following components to help inform, connect and mobilize our church family for growth and ministry. Please consider staying a bit longer these days (parents still pick up children from nursery or classes at appropriate time) as the opportunities to fellowship and connect will be significant.

    • Combined Adult sessions in the sanctuary to explain and interact about some improvements to our Adult discipleship ministry that is done through our Adult Bible Fellowships and Small Groups.
    • A KSBC Ministry Fair will be available in the Ministry Center each of these Sundays during the 10:45 hour. The Ministry Fair will have displays and information available for many of the ministries of KSBC. It will be an opportunity to gather information, ask questions, sign up for groups, and interact with others. The combined adult sessions in the sanctuary will not take longer than 30 minutes with the intent to give opportunity for everyone to go to the Ministry Fair.
    • Plenty of tasty refreshments will be available at the Ministry Fair to encourage people to hang out together for a while.

    Sunday 9/2 Family Gathering: We will take a significant portion of the time in this meeting to answer questions and interact as a church family regarding anything from service time changes to parking to future direction. We are looking forward to this time of conversation – it is vital to staying in sync.

    The greatest force for synchronization in our church and world is the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we submit to his control. Humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with each other in love – the Holy Spirit enables us to stay in sync. Please join the conversation here at KSBC over the next several weeks. 

    FriFridayJunJune29th2012 Called to relationships
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community 0 comments Add comment



    I hope and pray that you are beginning to get the idea. 

    Whether it is in the sermon series from 1 Corinthians, the "Your Walk with God is a Community Project" adult class at 10:45, the leadership class of 20 men meeting each Sunday morning, or the change to one service, our desire is to understand and build a greater network of caring relationships at KSBC. We want to sharpen our thinking and expose independent notions as we grasp our calling with a growing allegiance. That calling is stated in 1Corinthians 1:2: called to be saints together. 

    I encourage you to participate in the Sunday morning sanctuary class. It is not too late to begin attending and learning about the importance of relationships to your faith journey. There are extra copies of the DVDs and some audio CDs available through the church office for your use if you desire to catch up, review, or use because you are unable to attend at 10:45 on Sundays.

    The Leadership class that is meeting is quite exciting. It is genuinely encouraging for me to be a part of a group of men who are wrestling with what it means to lead and guide others in their walk with God. Leading people in a growing relationship with Christ assumes movement and change in those people’s lives. Being connected both to shepherd-like leaders and to other Christ followers is crucial to our growth to maturity in Christ. Godly and skilled leadership is essential to productive community.

    In addition to learning about spiritual leadership, this class is fine-tuning a few structural issues that will allow for our small group ministry and Adult Bible Fellowships (ABF) to connect and align for greater effectiveness. We are looking forward to launching both the small group and ABF ministries at the end of the summer with a few new adjustments that we will share more about as they are clarified by the leadership class in the weeks ahead. Please pray for this class as God brings them to mind.

    All of that to say, our hope is that after the summer vacations are thoroughly enjoyed and we settle back into our carefully thought-through routines that your calling to live and die for Christ with others will be clearly seen in your commitment to relationships and community at KSBC. 

    Remember to contact the church office for copies of the video or audio material that you may have missed from the Sunday morning class. Also, in case you have not had enough about relationships from Paul Tripp, I was really encouraged by this article that you might want to check out. 

    ThuThursdayJunJune21st2012 The active church
    byPaul Briggs Tagged Church Ministry 0 comments Add comment



    On a recent Saturday I was in the home improvement store looking for supplies for a couple of projects on which I was working. My phone rang, and on the other end was a brother in Christ from KSBC who could barely contain himself. He said something like: “Praise God, I just had to call and tell you.”

    In the process of working on a very practical and what could have appeared to be a mundane and time consuming task in reaching out to people who don’t yet believe in Jesus, he had found out that we both knew a person in common. His excitement, it turned out, wasn’t that we both knew the same person, but that now, having this knowledge, we could work together in our relationship with this individual to see him come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who has changed (and is continuing to change) our lives.

    As I have thought about the blessing of that phone call in the days since, I have reflected on the beauty of the active church—the people of God understanding their identity and taking advantage of doors the Lord opens to them. Philippians 1:3-5 says: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” My encouragement about this special phone call grows from the following principles to be practiced by God’s people:

    1. Identity: A clear understanding of who he/she is in Christ Jesus.
    2. Initiative: Desire for others to come to understand what is found in Christ Jesus alone!
    3. Innovation: There is no such thing as a “mundane or time consuming task” when it comes to engaging those who do not know Jesus Christ; it can lead to opportunity for gospel proclamation on many levels!
    4. Interdependence: There is no greater value than working together with God’s people for the advancement of God’s kingdom.
    5. Importance: God, not man, is to be thanked and praised for these opportunities, for he is the one who grants them!

    Feel free to call me or someone else in the church (or share your story in writing with us via Connections) and give glory to God the next time you see him at work in this way! I need to hear stories like this…and so do you! I am extremely encouraged in my walk of faith as I hear of how the Lord is using his people to proclaim his great name! 

    WedWednesdayMayMay9th2012 Make the best of change
    byDon Whipple Tagged Change Church Community 1 comments Add comment


    Of the many possible “take aways” this cartoon humorously captures, one is that change can be a hard thing to process. Opportunity to grow, serve or advance in holiness is a terrible thing to waste. We are commanded to redeem or make the best use of every opportunity that comes our way as we recognize the harsh realities of the world we live in (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). 

    Each of us has a blessed opportunity this week to rethink and renew how we approach and participate in "church" at KSBC. A blessing of the service time change is that we have opportunity to connect the dots in a fresh way between all kinds of mundane and eternally important questions like what time do we have to get up Sunday morning? Why do we "go to church"? What is our role in the church? Here are a few specific suggestions to consider in taking full advantage of the opportunity before you.

    1. Think and talk together about what the church is. Is it something you attend, a place to go, some meetings to check off, or a community that you joyfully participate in? Consider that this may be a good time to upgrade your understanding and respect for truths found in Ephesians 4:11-16, Hebrews 10:23-25 and what we are learning in our 1 Corinthians study. The gathered church has a special honor that needs to be protected and preserved in our busy and sometimes profanely distracted lives.

    2. Plan to expand your outreach. First, think of who in your sphere of influence you could prayerfully invite to come to church with you so that they will be exposed to the church, experience the church gathered, and be drawn to the church’s Head, Jesus Christ. We have regularly heard testimonies of that taking place. Second, once you have walked into the room where the church is gathered, pick a new neighborhood to sit and sing in. Your old friends will understand that you are not forsaking them. We all understand that we are on mission to spread the beauty and joy of Jesus, even when the church gathers.

    3. Grow (even more) in serving others. This is a great opportunity to break out of old habits and begin new determined and intentional ones. How can you be the presence of Christ to this wonderful community of God called people? Sundays are a gathering of people who need to hear from God and you that the gospel is worth living and dying for. Please consider how you intentionally stimulate and love others in such practical ways as arriving early, parking far away, engaging others in encouraging conversation, singing loudly and all that stuff that loving families do for each other because of God’s great love.

    Please pray for me and my family as we rethink our Saturday and Sunday routine with the goal in mind of participating in our church community for the greatest glory to God and the greatest joy for ourselves and others. Back to the cartoon; see you this Sunday morning some time!

    WedWednesdayMayMay2nd2012 A community project
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community Sanctification 0 comments Add comment


    When most Christians think about growing in their faith, they sometimes leave out one of the most important means that God has provided; our friendships! God unites us to Christ but also places us within a community of faith where we influence one another in profound ways.

    Who are your closest friends at KSBC? What role do they play in your spiritual development? How do they help you love God and people? Who would name you as their friend at KSBC that helps them grow in grace?

    Growth in faith and Christ likeness is a community project. Isolation and individualism lead to ineffectiveness and barrenness. The contribution of others in the church family is absolutely essential to your becoming the person God has called you to be. The list of ways that God has designed for a committed community of believers to shape your life is impressive. The list would minimally include prayer, encouragement, correction, burden bearing, teaching, confession, and rejoicing together.

    Our desire is for our church family to grow in community. By that we mean a discernible movement from isolationism to redemptive relationships. There is so much to learn about these kind of redemptive relationships that actually “stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24-25). This kind of stimulation implies a transfer of energy from someone else to you. When we isolate ourselves from other believers by merely attending services and classes, we literally and sinfully unplug ourselves from a God ordained source of power for our growth in holiness and love. When we restrict our relationships to surface or shallow involvement, we short circuit the work of God in our lives.

    To encourage our growth in this we are planning to use a 10-week DVD series at our 10:45 hour this summer entitled Your Walk with God is a Community Project by Paul Tripp. For the summer months, all teens through adult classes will meet together in the sanctuary for a 25 minute teaching time followed by breakout groups for discussion and application. This will be a great opportunity to hear clear Bible teaching and massage it into our behaviors and relationships. 

    Paul Tripp is a highly respected and qualified Bible teacher. Many of you have benefited from his books War of Words and Age of Opportunity. You can read more about this video series here. You can also read a recent article by Tripp that I found very helpful here. In addition to the quote at the beginning, here’s another that I thought was worthy of jotting down from this series of talks: "God has called us to intentionally-intrusive, Christ-centered, grace-driven redemptive relationships."

    Please pray for and plan to participate in this significant community project this summer here at KSBC.
    FriFridayAprApril13th2012 Church meetings
    byDon Whipple Tagged Church Community 2 comments Add comment



    Last December the Elders began a process of evaluating our meeting times and structure with the goal in mind of better matching our values of being a gospel driven church with how we currently do church – meetings, times and weekly opportunities, for example. We sincerely believe that this is a crucial conversation with significant potential for growth and increasing effectiveness in reaching and discipling people. The topic has provoked a good bit of interest and sharing of personal perspectives.

    Since the first of the year, the Elders appointed 12 KSBC members to participate as an Advisory Task Force (ATF) to evaluate service models, to serve and advise the Elders as a voice of input and reason and to recommend a preferred service structure that will position us to realize our ministry values.

    The ATF has been meeting weekly since early March. It is quite an eclectic group as there are young and old, early service and late service attenders, men and women, children’s ministry workers and senior saints workers and KSBC veterans alongside newcomers. Two Elders have been meeting and interacting with the group as well. I am extremely grateful for and encouraged by this prayerful group of KSBC’ers who have taken to heart this crucial task. Please pray for this group!

    Two quick thoughts to stimulate our thinking while we wait to hear more from the Elders and ATF in the coming weeks:

    First, it should be obvious that service times and structure are limited in their impact on producing or encouraging real life change. For hearts to be stimulated and lives to be changed in increasing ways, more than meeting times must be addressed.

    Second, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s people are to meet regularly for specific purposes. No mention is made or directions are given as to times, length, or number of meetings (although Acts 20:7 is interesting). What is both quite directive and compelling is the ‘devotion’ that God’s people are to have to such meetings. Acts 2:42 describes the devotion believers had to meeting together for teaching, fellowship, eating and prayer. This was something they seemingly saw as primary and built the rest of their weekly schedule around these joyful meetings. Hebrews 10:23-25 teaches the principle that your confidence and hope in God are dependent upon and directly connected to regularly meeting with your church family. The message is clear: be devoted to attending and participating in scheduled church meetings so that you are encouraging others and stimulating them to greater love and service.

    Let’s trust God to clearly unite our hearts around devotion to Him, his word, prayer, and each other in the weeks and months ahead. If we do not guard our hearts carefully, our devotion becomes distracted and diluted, resulting in a weakening of our faith that essentially places a cloud over the beauty and glory of Christ that is to be seen in our lives individually and corporately.

    Elders' BlogConnecting. Informing. Shepherding. Teaching.by