Parent Follow Up (11/22/20)

Hey parents! Sorry for not getting this to you last night, but just didn’t have the opportunity to type it out and send it due to celebrating Matthew’s birthday last night.

Last night we began our new series we are calling #thisistheway (of the Kingdom), in which we are going to explore marks of the lives of those who embody Jesus’ Kingdom on earth. These marks are going to offer a clear contrast to the world around us due to the presence, work, and fruit of the Holy Spirit. Those marks will also be something that will draw those outside of Christ to investigate him as they experience glimpses of his Kingdom through us.

Last night we looked at the first of these marks, foundational identity. To do this we explored Ephesians 1:3-14. This passage is rich with descriptions of the new identity we have as those who have been redeemed in Christ. I would urge you to open your Bible there with your student(s) at some point this week and ask them to walk you back through it, being careful to share the various ways it presents what should be our foundational identity in Christ.

I offered these 5 summary statements at the end of our time together:

  1. We don’t have to wear ourselves out trying to shape or protect our identity.
  2. Our identity is not shaped by the views of others or even by my own performance.
  3. We are free to live in true freedom that is rooted in our eternal identity.
  4. We can have a steady sense of identity that does not fluctuate from situation to situation.
  5. At the center of our identity is mission—that all may come to know their real identity in light of their Creator.

Here, too, are the questions for reflection that I gave to the students last night. My prayer is that you would use these questions to have deeper discussions in your home this week. I’m praying for you as you do!

*Have you struggled with your sense of identity? If so, how?

*How do you understand your identity now that you are in Christ (if you are in Christ)? How did you grow in that understanding through this session?

*When you view others around you, how does it seem that they view their identity? Do you see others wearing themselves out trying to shape their identity? Have you felt that way?

*Why is our identity foundational to our living a Christian life? Why is it difficult to live the Christian life if that foundation is not secure?

*Why is a foundational identity in Christ vital to our pursuing the mission that God has given us to pursue?

Parent Follow Up (8/15/20)

Hey parents! Tonight we really focused on giving more time to our small groups to walk through the “How’s your soul?” elements and pray together. We ended our Awake & Aware series last week, and we are looking forward to beginning our new series I have entitled “#thisistheway (of the Kingdom).”

Throughout the storyline of the new Star Wars series, The Mandolorian, viewers are constantly reminded of the commitment that those who have chosen to live such a life have made. These commitments cause the Mandolorian to be viewed by a particular group of people who live in a particular way in order to pursue the mission and way of life of the group.

In the book of Acts, the very loud movement of Christianity through the pagan cultures of Asia caused people to begin to refer to the movement as “The Way.” What an incredible testimony of the mission of the church!

In Christ, we are people of the Way. God has saved us for more than just our own personal salvation. He has saved us and gathered us into a people that he is shaping through his Spirit to be a particular people who carry his gospel into the world. And as his Spirit changes us from the inside out, we are going to live in a particular way that will often run opposite to the world’s system and ways. This is the way.

For the next 8-10 weeks we will explore some of these particular ways that cause Christians to stand out as we embody the Kingdom in a dark and broken world. Tonight I simply introduced the series and read a few passages that help to set the study up.

As far as conversations in your home this week, perhaps you can help your student anticipate this study by speculating as to what some of these particular ways could include. Think together about how the Scriptures present some marks of the Christian life that will stand out in our world today. Pray for us as we work through this series in the coming weeks!

Mission Trip to the MLM Warehouse

It was a great day at the Warehouse today! I think it was their biggest crowd of elementary students for a Saturday club at 44. We had around 10 students a few adults come and serve. They led games, led small groups, offered electives, and just looked for opportunities to build relationships and encourage. And everyone did a great job!

Thank so much to everyone who came! I know we had a lot of folks who had other things going on, and I hope you all had a wonderful Saturday. I already told Brett that we would sign up to lead another club after the New Year.

Here are some pictures from the day.

Preparing for Warehouse Day Tomorrow!

Hey! If you are planning to come and help at the Warehouse tomorrow, please take some time to look over the following lesson.

PLEASE BE AT THE WAREHOUSE BY 9:30 TO RECEIVE INSTRUCTIONS.

Brett will begin by assigning everyone to different roles for the day. So please try to be there on time, if you can.

Take some time to look this over tonight 👇🏻

And you can follow this QR code to find a video walkthrough that Brett made!
See you tomorrow!

Info for this Saturday (Serving at the Warehouse)

Hey parents! Wanted to touch base about the opportunity we have this Saturday (11/14) to serve at the Warehouse. First, I completely understand that a trip to Maggie Valley had to be pushed to this weekend. If you are a part of the group going on that trip, great! We’ll be praying for you as you serve our friends there at OMC. Please don’t feel badly about not being able to help with this.

We do need students to volunteer to help, though! The timeframe is 10am to 3pm. I would love to have some students who can volunteer to be there for the whole time. IF, however, you can only be there for part of the time, we’d love to have you there as much as you can be! This is an opportunity, to frame it as Brett Carver did for us, to go on a mission trip here in our own community. It is an opportunity to intentionally show love to some elementary-aged kids on a Saturday in November. So, if you have the day free, come spend it with us as we seek to do that!

The protocol at the Warehouse right now is for everyone to wear face coverings, except when eating or participating in large-group games/activities.

We also could use a few adults. There will be plenty of supervision, but I’d love to have some of our adults there, if you have the time free and would want to come!

We do want to be intentional with this time. MLM has asked us to be prepared to offer and lead a few elective-type time blocks. They have given us total freedom in how to shape this! I have already heard from a few of our young ladies that they want to teach some kids how to make bracelets. Awesome! This is an opportunity for our students (and any adults who may want to come along) to consider the hobbies that they love to do, and to offer the opportunity for these students to join you in enjoying them! What do you love to do?

A couple of Saturdays ago, Elijah came home from Saturday club with a marshmallow shooter he had built from PVC in an elective that day. HE LOVED IT!!

Please help your students think through ideas for this elective time. If you have ideas, both MLM and Westwood can help gather materials to help you lead that elective.

I JUST NEED TO KNOW WHAT ELECTIVES WE WILL BE ABLE TO OFFER. I’d like to have this settled and communicated to Brett by Thursday at the latest. So, please let me know as your students (or adults) have ideas for that.

To sign up to help on Saturday, please click HERE and fill out the short form, if you haven’t already. But please also let me know.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Parent Follow-Up (Week of 11/8/20)

Hey parents! I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. We had a great time tonight as we wrapped up our “Awake & Aware” study through portions of 1 Peter. Tonight we focused on chapter 5, verses 6-11, as we saw how important it is to remain Awake & Aware to the reality of our enemy. Peter does not pull punches as he sobers us to the reality of our enemy and his intentions for us in this brief passage. I took this opportunity to talk about who our enemy actually is and how he operates in his deception with us. We went back and looked at his interaction with Even in the garden to see two key questions that he planted in Eve’s mind in order to lure her into temptation, and ultimately rebellion: “Is God really good?” and “Is God really trustworthy?”

In walking through the passage in 1 Peter 5, we saw the gracious invitation by God to cast all of our anxieties on him, because he cares for us! We talked about how we are prone to just blindly follow our own emotions when placed in vulnerable positions, and how dangerous that can be. We saw that although our enemy is real, he is not a equal opposite foe to our great God, and that IN HIM we can resist our enemy and stand against his lies. We can discern his deception and reject his lies. We were encouraged to look ahead in hope to see that our battle with our enemy will not have the last word, as he is already a defeated foe!

Here are some questions for reflection that you can use this week for follow-up conversations in your home! I am praying for you this week as you continue this discussion!

  • What stands out to you from our session tonight? Did you learn anything new about our enemy?
  • If you are in Christ, did this session help you grow in confidence in your battle against sin and our enemy? If so, how?
  • Why is it so difficult to remain awake and aware when we are in the midst of a struggle? What can we do to make sure we do?
  • Why is it so important to open up to others when we are struggling? What did we learn through this struggle that helps us see why this is so important?
  • What is your greatest takeaway from this series “Awake and Aware”? What will you take away from it? What is one thing you can share with someone else?

Parent Follow-Up (11/1/20)

Matthew Welch led us tonight as we continued our study called “Awake & Aware” through portions of 1 Peter. And he did a FANTASTIC job! He focused on 1 Peter 4:7-11 as we considered what it looks like to be awake and aware in light of Christ’s return. After helping us understand the urgency found in the immanent return of Christ, he presented three ways that this sober-minded understanding of his return will manifest itself in our lives. First, it will result in a maturity in thinking and praying (v. 7). Second, it will result in a gracious and intentional love for each other (v. 8-9). Third, it will result in our becoming aware of how God has uniquely gifted us and using those gifts to build up the Body (v. 10-11). Ask your students this week to walk back through the passage and their message notes and share with you elements of Matthew’s message that stood out to them. You can also use the following reflection questions in having good conversations together throughout the week! 

Questions for Reflection

*How are you looking forward to Christ’s return?

Are you looking forward with fear, knowing that who you are and what you’ve done is not enough to earn God’s favor?

Or are you looking forward with hope, knowing that, as Colossians 3 says, he is our life and when he appears we also will appear with him in glory?

Which more accurately describes your reality?

*Believer, are you intoxicated with the things of this world?

Are there things in your life that hinder you from thinking and praying according to the gospel hope that is ours in Christ?

Consider things you need to repent of and cling to the unfading, undefiled hope that is ours in Christ.

*What ways can you seek to love and serve within the Body?

Have you identified spiritual gifts in your own life? What gifts do you see?

How are you stewarding those gifts as gifts given by God to encourage the Body? In what ways can you plug in right now and serve?