GCI Update

Healthy Church

Healthy

Dear GCI Family and friends,

Greg and Susan Williams

Health is a relative term. According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This is an important distinction – especially as we focus on Healthy Church.

We all experience the ups and downs of health in our physical bodies. My very first week of serving as president was likely the busiest and most demanding of my life. Among the ceremonies and retirement parties, there were a number of planning meetings accompanied by informal breakfast and lunch meetings. The dinners included rich foods, robust wines and always some fancy, hard-to-say-no-to dessert. The physical, mental and social challenges were at an all-time high.

I came out of that first week with my heart full due to the overwhelming high support I received; I also came out with my sinuses and lungs filled with congestion due to the long days and late nights. My second week as president involved a lot of hot tea, vitamins, chicken soup, and extra rest. This experience gave me even more thought on the concept of healthy church.

You are aware that I have been preaching and promoting healthy church, and we are just beginning to focus on what this means. Caring for our bodies and caring for our churches have many similarities. The ebb and flow of how we manage our work schedules, our diets and workout routines is a good platform to convey my thoughts. Let’s ask a couple of important questions:

What is the activity level of the church? Almost all our churches host a weekly worship service (some fellowship groups meet less frequently). So, what is the activity level during this gathering? Does the worship team have to come early to get their worship set together, or have they met at some other time during the week? Do we spend too much time on announcements because this is the one time to communicate with the members, or is communication happening through the week with emails or posts on the church’s website? Does fellowship go unusually long because we only see each other at worship services, or do the members’ lives intersect during the week between services? Are the majority of leadership meetings held on the day of services or do these meetings take place on a different day? (Video conferencing can be utilized when it is simply too hard to physically meet.) When do outreach activities and community-building events like picnics, campouts take place? Working toward and creating a balanced rhythm to the overall schedule is crucial to church health.

What is the diet of the church? Ultimately, we should be feeding on Jesus, the Bread of Life. This is why we have some of our best writers creating sermon outlines for the cycle of the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). We believe that preaching through the Bible over a three-year process creates a steady diet that is nourishing to all church members. We also promote the practice of Bible-based Small Groups because the diet of one weekly meal needs to be supplemented.

What is the spiritual exercise of the church? Exercise (working out) for Christian believers is tantamount to becoming equipped for Christian ministry. This can include formal education – I highly recommend our stellar institutions of Grace Communion Seminary and Ambassador College of Christian Ministry. Learning the art and skills of Christian ministry is more caught than it is taught, so we also strongly suggest the practice of mentoring. It is imperative that veteran ministers and ministry leaders pass along their skills and knowledge for the perpetuation of the church. If you are a veteran please find an apprentice to invest in, and if you are a new believer then search out an area of service that fits your personal interests and latent skills and dive in.

Please understand when I promote the vision of Healthy Church, I am not intending any church to assume the label of being unhealthy. All churches go through ups and downs as they attend to their health; good health is an ongoing process. When we write about church health or create ministry tools for you to use, it is based on our desire to provide support that assists you toward better health. Better ministry practices implemented over time will yield better church health. Every congregation and fellowship group is important to us and we pray all of GCI is on a path to better health.

My sentiment to you is the same as the Apostle John’s to Gaius, a beloved church member in Ephesus –

The elder to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth. “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John :1-4 ESV).

As you continue your faithful walk in the truth, which is your walk with Jesus, I will constantly pray for your congregation to be healthy and prosperous in your collective efforts to point others to Jesus.

Working toward better health,
Greg Williams

Photo Contest – Submissions End March 17

Show us the world through your lens.

Photo Contest Promo Image

Do you attend a GCI church? Enter to win our 2018-2019 GCI Photo Contest and submit photos of your healthy church.
Prizes include, $100, $200, and $300 Amazon gift cards!
Submit Your Photos Before March 17.

For more information go to: https://resources.gci.org/photocontest

Official Opening of the Christian Center TOV in Tiel

Grace Communion International Netherlands and Flanders are going “outside the walls”.

Jesus is doing something wonderful in Tiel! Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there is a desire among Christians in Tiel to set up an outreach project together. A building has been bought from which various Christian ministries can be a blessing for the inhabitants of Tiel. This building is a former elementary school, with 30 rooms, and is now known as Christian Center TOV.

Grace Communion International is also active in this enterprise. GCI participates with 4 rooms in the TOV Christian Center in Tiel; a storage room, an office space for our board and ministry meetings, a counseling room and a living room for small group use and worship rehearsals. Grace Communion Netherlands co-invested in the building, and also brings in volunteers to join in with the activities.

In Christian Center TOV we work together with local churches and the TOV Foundation to fight poverty in Tiel.  There is a small supermarket where the poor get to choose their weekly groceries for free.  Weekly several dozens of shopping bags are filled for them.  Twice a week free meals are cooked in the restaurant, which about 30 to 40 people attend.  This ministry started in 2015 and quickly grew.  In 2016 and 2017 alone 2600 grocery bags and 6500 free meals were handed out, plus 1500 takeaway meals. With the new building and more volunteers, this ministry is expanding.

Several members from our local GCI church “de Hoeksteen” (Cornerstone) are involved in different ways. Berdien Kreuger and her father Martin Hessel rent a room with their business to help people with debts, and her sister Judith Dalm works there as well. Renée Blom works in TOV as a paid activity supervisor for people with a mental disability.

Maarten de Moei works as a full-time volunteer as caretaker of the building, counselor, activity supervisor, and board member.  Because of these jobs, he lives in the Center. Ferry Heeren is part of TOV’s worship team, Denise de Moei is involved in the Christian bookshop, supports the counseling team and is a board member, and Hans de Moei helps with public relations and finances, and is part of the Supervisory Board of TOV together with a Reformed pastor.

Other activities involve a gym, painting classes, church services, prayer meetings, supervising people with government-mandated community service, and a restaurant where people can walk in during the day for a cup of coffee, tea and/or lunch in which you pay according to what you can afford. All facilitators are Christian.

TOV is financed by gifts and donations, by renting out spaces and from the income they receive for working with their clients with mental disabilities. The directors of TOV do not receive a salary and neither do the volunteers.

On 11 and 12 January 2019, our Christian Center was officially opened with an all-day walk in and an interdenominational worship service. This meeting was attended by about 120 people from all kinds of churches, and the Holy Spirit was reverberating present with sparks of enthusiasm being felt in the service. God shows that he can still work miracles together with his church and that as believers confess the name of Jesus and work together great things can happen! The common factor to work together as different churches to make Christ known in Tiel and surrounding areas is godly love, not programs in itself.

We look forward with much positive anticipation, trusting God in what he will do with TOV and Grace Communion for the good of the community of Tiel.

Regional Celebration Registration

Don’t Miss Out! West USA Regional Celebration Closes February 25th.

In 2019, GCI will host 5 Regional Celebrations in the USA:

  • April 5 – 7 West – Portland, OR
  • June 7 – 9 Central – Dallas, TX
  • June 21 – 23 Southeast – Charlotte, NC
  • September 27 – 29 North Central – Noblesville, IN
  • October 25 – 27  East – Ocean City, MD

Click the image below to for more information and registration options.
Regional Celebrations 2019 Banner

 

LiLY Women’s Conference

LiLY logoThe Women of Edgehill Community Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio would like to invite you to their 16th Annual LiLY (Living Life for You) Conference “Joy Intact,” held April 26th-28th, 2019 at the Embassy Suites in Beachwood, Ohio.

This is a weekend filled with wonderful worship, inspired speakers, lots of laughs and simply enjoying the presence of the Lord.  The conference is attended by a diverse group of women and teens (Bonfire Sessions for ages 13-17) from every stage on their journey. We come from different churches and denominations.  We are about meeting at the feet of Jesus and making him known.

We keep the registration prices low ($70 early bird special), meals are included and you can fill your suite with up to six women to cut the cost of the hotel.  This is a great opportunity for you, your family or group of friends to come together and share a weekend in Christ with no judgment or expectations.

Follow the link for more information. http://www.edgehillcc.org/lily

Tamar Gray, Assistant Pastor
lgraybass@roadrunner.com
Edgehill Community Church
Cleveland, Heights Ohio

Devotional – The Good Shepherd

Sheep with ShepherdI am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me (John 10:14).

Shepherds and their sheep have deeply intimate relationships. Jesus our good shepherd knows us by name and guides us through life’s valleys and mountaintops. When we run the other way, he goes in search of us! His relentless love pursues us. Our good shepherd laid down his life for us, knowing the details of all we would think and do.  He didn’t redeem our ideal lives – he sacrificed himself to redeem the actual life we are living today.

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” With these words, Jesus is not only revealing a truth about who he is, but how he feels about us. He knows and loves our whole story. Sheep are utterly dependent animals. They physically cannot rest until all their needs are met. In the comforting presence of Jesus we can relax and let go of our fears.

Prayer: Jesus, we thank you that you are faithful to supply all my needs. Help me to see how you providing for me today, and make me aware of how I can share your love and provision with those around me.

 

By Michelle Fleming

 

GCIgnite Retrospective

January is one of my favorite times of the year because of GCIgnite! I look forward to it every year because I get to visit with friends from across the globe and anticipate meeting new ones. An integral part of GCIgnite is its welcoming atmosphere. There is great significance in being able to come just as we are: to come with our questions, burdens, and brokenness. Throughout the gathering, we learn that we are not alone and others seek answers too.

What’s amazing about this four-day summit is that we as a community learn and find answers from the Word, God’s voice, and from one another. It’s impossible to leave without having gained a new perspective of something, especially of our Triune God. The Spirit shows up and somehow reveals himself to each of us personally and reminds us of our calling, gently convicts us to do it, and reassures us that he is with us all the way. As the curious group is reminded of who God is, the answers are clear with the how’s and why’s. A safe and loving place where we are pushed and equipped to lead and serve others as we go back to our local contexts is what GCIgnite is all about.

The theme for 2019 was Renew: renewing our self, worth, rhythms, and our love for our neighbors. The gist of the theme is renewing all parts of our lives to be transformed by the living God who is constantly shaping us as he works through us. Our God is inviting us every single day to participate in this adventure with him and with others. There is beauty in knowing that through renewing our hearts and minds before God, our everyday life which can seem mundane, is turned into something wonderful as it becomes worship and as our response becomes an active choice of saying yes to him and trusting him completely.

Workshop sessions are where we dive into the details of Ignite’s theme. We were given the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones as we share and discuss such important topics as leading with doubt, sexuality, processing social media and current events, conflict resolution, and holistic love. Some of the workshops challenge us to shift our lenses and see things in a clearer, more meaningful way, like Rediscovering the Bible, Renewing Prayer Life, Church Worth, Financial Rhythms, and Rhythms of Self-Care. In these workshops, we are able to learn, share, and equip one another through the Spirit.

Pouring our hearts out through singing, worshipping God through art and journaling, playing board games, ping pong, and basketball, fellowshipping with one another under the snow, sharing a meal, praying with someone, dancing, lip sync competitions, taking photos together, and staying up to continue conversations that are honest and life-giving are some of the activities that happen at GCIgnite. There is so much joy in doing these little things because we get to do it with one another and Christ’s presence is pervasive through every single activity.

One of my highlights was taking the 5 Voices assessment and learning the gifts God has revealed in me. Through this, we were able to know ourselves more and what God has called us to do. It is so reassuring to think that he has designed each of us so intentionally and uniquely that we are invited to participate in the Kingdom work here on Earth, helping the body of Christ reach its full potential. Another highlight for me was when we walked around the room encouraging others and being encouraged. This time set to affirm someone of their gifts and be affirmed allowed us to feel seen, heard, needed, and loved by our GCI families.

We also gathered to share and pray for our local churches. This conference really is important for intergenerational ministries as the young adults are being empowered by each other and by people with more experience and wisdom to be the next leaders of GCI churches. Through this conference, we are reminded that when we go back to our local contexts, we should also start to pray for eyes to see who the next leaders of GCI are from our youth and children’s ministries. I am so grateful to be part of this church in which we are continually being filled up by others and being able to fill up others.

 

– Hazel Tabin

Israel Reflection

Visiting Israel is Like Reading a Fifth Gospel

Visiting Israel is like reading a Fifth Gospel – so much comes to life. We saw where Jonah ran from God, and where Paul was held prisoner. We saw where Elijah battled with the false prophets of Baal, and we walked the route the mob took Jesus to throw him off the “brow of the hill.”

We walked through the city gates and into the area where Solomon had his stables, where Ahab built a tunnel to get water in times of siege, and we overlooked Armageddon. We visited the town of Mary Magdalene and stepped on the threshold of a synagogue Jesus preached in. We saw a 2,000 year old boat and then took a boat across the Sea of Galilee.

We visited the Mount of Beatitudes and the shore where Jesus preached. We saw the ruins of Jericho and rededicated ourselves at the baptismal site on the Jordan river. Then we spent three days in Jerusalem and walked where Jesus walked. We prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and took communion at one of the proposed sites of the Garden Tomb.

All with a group of people whom I love dearly. A trip that changed my life. If you have the opportunity – go without hesitation. Maybe I’ll go with you.

 

– Rick Shallenberger