God's Work at Grace

God's Work at Grace.jpg

I consider it a privilege to pray for you and the efforts of our church. So, let me share some of the wonderful things God is doing. Think of it as a "State of the Church" address. Here is a summary of our last elder meeting from my point of view:

Staff Changes and Additions

We continue to pray about and work on our Executive Pastor search. One of our elders posted the opportunity online and we have already received multiple résumés. The search and interview team are already looking into the possible candidates. We will keep you posted as we reach new steps in the process, but please continue to pray. God is the One we are relying on to guide us through this process.

Pastor Dave, who will forever be an honored, godly example for me, has officially retired. He still volunteers as much as he is able, and he still preaches at Hillsboro while they search for a pastor. His character and life have been a blessing and challenge. I would not be here, and I would not be as supported here, if not for Dave and the elders. He has set a standard that humbles me often. As I'm sure many of you know, you have had an exceptional pastor for 30 years. I have known many, many pastors in my ministry and seminary experience. Dave Reimer sticks out.

We are sad that Edith Buller-Breer, our office assistant and trusted friend, is finishing her service at Grace. However, we are happy for her and the new season that God is beginning in her life. I can't tell you how many times I have walked out of my office and looked for Edith so I could gain her insight on something. She will be missed.

Juli, our GraceKids Director, has advanced to full-time! She is an incredible leader for GraceKids. God has given her a great work here, and I am glad that she continues to lovingly serve our children's ministry. Loren, our Student Pastor, has been training a volunteer intern, Austin Lakey.

We have added two new members to our team: Nathan Ehresman, our Creative Arts Director, and Kathy Meacham, our temporary Front Desk Receptionist. Nathan loves creatively communicating God's truth and our ministries, and we love him! He's already added so much to our team. Kathy has a warm personality and kind spirit. She is a wonderful addition to the office.

Elder Updates

I am so glad that we are an elder led church. Mark Olsen will serve another year as Chair, Marc Friesen as Vice-Chair, and Mike Barter will serve as Secretary. David Hall and David Landis have just joined our elder team. And Kyle and Loren are officially elders now. Maybe you could do me a favor by calling them, "Elder Kyle" and "Elder Loren" the next time you see them. PLEASE! (lol)

New Ministry Opportunity

One of the elders has requested permission to lead a new ministry at Grace. Its purpose will most likely be to meet the physical needs of our members. We are only in the infant stage, so we are excited to see how this takes shape. But I hope you will be praying for our elders that serve us voluntarily. They work hard to minister to you. I thank God for all of them!

Security and Safety

Another topic of discussion has been security and emergency planning. I recently attended an ALICE training and it was eye-opening. We already have emergency plans for fire and tornado (and they are posted). Recently, we developed a volunteer team to research the best safety plans and options for our building security. Although I have never experienced a sense of fear at Grace, I am glad that we are creating plans and taking appropriate steps. Our people, not just our building, are our priority. May God continue to bless us and protect us as He has!

Communication

We are evaluating our communication at Grace: communication to you and our guests and communication between the elders and the staff or councils. I've heard it said, "the biggest mistake in communication is the assumption that it has taken place." Communicating well cultivates unity and clarity. This will help create disciples and send out our people each week with a clear understanding of what God is doing in and through our church family.

Caring for Inactive Members

We are developing new procedures to oversee inactive members and those who are not attending. Pastor Steve is taking the lead in this initiative, and I appreciate the gentleness and shepherd's heart he gives. 

Bolivia Church Plant

Can you believe we collected almost $24,000 to support a new church plant in Bolivia?! I know that brings joy to our Father's heart. We are not just hoarding the gospel and our resources, we are joyfully giving to God's Kingdom and mission! The team from our church that visited Bolivia had so much to say when they got back, and we will share their highlights with you soon.

Church-Planting Residency

Lastly, we have a new resident church planter, Matt Shepherd. He and his wife, Emily, moved here from California with their three beautiful children. He is not on our payroll in any way, but he does receive help from us indirectly through Synergy Kansas, which was previously established by Grace and our three church plants. I get to meet with him each week until his residency ends in April. God has called him to Kansas to train under former Grace staffer, Jay Nickless, as a church planter. 

Matt is developing a TAP (Target Analysis Process) team, which consists of 8-12 people working together over a period of 12 weeks who help explore potential target communities and help the planter discern where the Holy Spirit is leading them to plant a church. If all goes as planned, he will be planting a church somewhere in Kansas by the end of the year. If God wills it, we and the other Synergy Kansas churches (Grace Community Church - Newton; Grace Community Fellowship - Hillsboro; Grace Crossing - Moundridge; and New Anthem - Park City) will be a part of that Kingdom-building celebration.

Final Thoughts

That wasn't much...lol. Our elders meet every third Thursday of the month and I hope to update you after each meeting. At the end of the day, I always ask God, "Is this what YOU want? Lead us as the Head of your church. Are these the right efforts and priorities?" I am thankful that He generously gives wisdom to those who ask in faith. Would you pray that with me? 

I can't wait to see you Sunday as we continue to look at God's design for marriage. I love you and pray for you often.

 

Galatians 6:9-10,

Pastor Jack

 

"I just wish I could find another Christian to hire!"

"I just wish I could find another Christian to hire!"

In a world where Christians are living out their faith, and in their vocations they are truly working with all their hearts as working for the Lord and not for men (Col 3:23), companies would be hoping and trying to find Christians to work for them!

This past Sunday, Pastor Jack reminded us that our work has a purpose, and a big part of that purpose is to be a witness at work that would point people to God!

Some of you may see your job simply as a paycheck. Some of you may find incredible joy in your job. Others may be frustrated with their current job and trying to find a way out.  While still others may be looking for a job, and are simply hoping for a steady income!

When I graduated from college I wanted to do ministry for a living... but that didn't happen until years later. You see, I wasn't working with all my heart as working for the Lord. I was working at what I thought was a temporary job, waiting for my real work to begin. I was just working for the paycheck.

During this time, God was showing His incredible patience to me and waiting for me to respond to His heart.

His heart was that, while working in that home improvement store, I would serve Him, I would represent Him, and I would work at my job with excellence to bring Him glory! 

It took a while, but over the years God graciously changed my heart and my work at the home improvement store became worship! I committed to excellence, to representing Jesus in everything I did, whether people were watching or not! The owner of the home improvement store began to notice and I started getting more responsibilities, and being made in charge of more people.

God was showing me that ministry isn't a vocation; it's a lifestyle that plays out in whatever job you have!

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." (Colossians 3:23)

Grace, what if all of us worked at our jobs in this way? What if we strived for excellence in our work in a way that gave us opportunity to explain why we work the way we do?

People notice work ethic, they notice integrity, and they also notice if we only work hard when our boss is watching. If we work in such a way that we are giving our best for God, people will want to hire Christians!

So work with integrity and work with excellence even if the rest of your co-workers aren't! Don't abuse your allotted break time, don't waste time on the internet when you should be working. Make the people around you wonder why you work the way you do, and point them to our almighty Creator who is worthy of our best!

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My RightNow Media pick of the month is "The Gospel at Work," which is also a book that Pastor Jack suggested as a resource for further study from Sunday's sermon. If you're like me, you probably won't take the time to read, but you might click the graphic below and listen to the video!

 
 

As always, here in the office, we are looking forward to another Sunday, to gather as God's people, and grow in our love For Him, grow in our love for others, and be quipped to lead others to do the same!  I can hardly wait to hear the church sing the praises of Jesus!

For His Glory,

Pastor Kyle

Opening Myself Up to the One Who Understands Me Best

The other day I had a jolting introduction to the world of age-related ailments and expensive medical solutions! Picking up a prescription for some medication I needed to treat a skin condition on my face shocked me into thinking about my priorities.

I knew ahead of time that this particular 5 oz tube of special facial gel was expensive and not covered by Medicare, and I had almost decided to go a cheaper route. But since the medicine has proved effective in the past and lasted a long time, and since I wasn't sure that a cheaper version would do the trick, I decided to bite the bullet and pick up another identical prescription.

Not only did I bite the bullet... I swallowed it (!)... to the tune of $392.49!

Honestly, I'm not complaining, and, compared to major medical procedures, what I paid for this medication is hardly a drop in the bucket. Still, I'm marveling at how willing I was to put out a relatively large chunk of change to deal with a cosmetic condition! Something that makes the outside of me look and feel better.

The thought then came to me: how much am I willing to invest in my relationship with Jesus in order to upgrade and maintain my soul... the inside of me that desperately needs his healing and restoring work?  

I am so grateful that my heavenly Father has such a good heart, loves me dearly, and wants me to grow into the life he has always wanted me to experience in relationship with Jesus, his Son. 

This year, in a deeper and more passionate way, I'm choosing to open myself up to the One who understands me best, has my best interests at heart, and knows how I fit in his kingdom.

I'm drawing comfort from the verses we've chosen for our Amigo 20 team to memorize as we prepare to serve at Children's Haven International's children's home this March (1-9):

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light." (Psalm 36:7-9)

I love how Todd Wagner, founding pastor of Watermark Community Church in Dallas, TX, expresses God's heart so practically in his book, Come & See"God is not looking to rip you off... He is looking to set you free."

God is so good and unbelievably generous, and I am trusting Him in 2018.  I hope you'll join me in choosing to love God, love people, and lead others to do the same!

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday when we get to gather as the deeply-loved bride of Jesus and hear His heartbeat as we worship in song together, continue in Pastor Jack's sermon series on Genesis, and vote to affirm elders.

Resting in Jesus,

Steve

Overwhelmed by the Kindness of the Lord

This past month Courtney's parents, my dad, and my brother and sister-in-law have all visited my home. We welcomed them in and cared for them. We worked hard and sacrificed some of our own comforts so their stay could be as pleasant as possible. I write this to make a point, and it's not to give Courtney a pat on the back for being such a great hostess. I noticed something with their visits that I had not considered much before. 

We were hospitable and pursued excellence in the care we gave, but we didn't follow any etiquette. There was no special "code" for them to follow or social norms to adhere to. We didn't treat them like customers entering into our store. They didn't sense a "professionalism" in our relationship. They were free to be in their pajamas and leave their hair uncombed while lounging around in our living room. They enjoyed their stay because they felt welcomed.

As I reflect back on my first Christmas Eve at Grace Community Church and the last 7 months here in Kansas, I am overwhelmed by the kindness of the Lord. Courtney, the kids, and I have been abundantly loved and cared for, and I can honestly say that serving as a pastor here has been a great joy and by no means a burden. I often feel inadequate and humbled by the responsibility, but I have never felt unloved. Thank you, Grace Community Church, for your hospitality and encouragement toward me. You are a true blessing and gift to our family.

With this great experience, I wonder if everybody who has encountered Grace feels the same way. Can you say with confidence that every guest and member has had a similar experience? Have they all been treated as wonderfully as I have been? If not, then join me! We have a great goal ahead of us. Let's all be a true blessing and gift to those around us. Let's show this same hospitality to our neighbors and those who step foot in our building.

Hospitality is important to God, and it should always be important to us. God uses it to change people's hearts. Please join me as I commit to sharing what has been shared with me. Our hospitality may be the very thing God uses to welcome a stranger into His family.

Galatians 6:9-10,

Jack Napier

(If you want an overview of Scripture passages on hospitality, please check out this article.)