Quarterly Newsletter - December 2016
We Have To Keep Moving
by Jody Vickery
Recently, I was playing a round of golf with one of our founding members when he said something about aging that really struck me: “When you get as old as I am, you are tempted to just become a couch potato. But we can’t do that. We have to keep moving, even when we don’t feel like it.”
I realized that it takes as much commitment – maybe even more – for an older person to get up and get out of the house as it does for a younger person to do one more rep in the gym.
Human beings aren’t the only ones who struggle with aging issues. So do churches. One of the common traits among new churches is an extremely high level of commitment from its members. New churches tend to hold high expectations for members and the members tend to rise to those expectations. That’s one of the reasons they often grow quickly.
The longer it has been around, however, the more commitment it takes for a church to keep moving.1
Like people, churches can become pew potatoes. But, as my golfing buddy put it, “we can’t do that. We have to keep moving.”
So in January, we are moving the commitment meter to a higher setting. The details are covered in the next article – Introducing Journey Groups. Before you skip ahead and read that, however, there are three things we need to know about commitment.
First, commitment is a group project. Paul said in Ephesians 3:16, the body builds itself up in love as each part does its work. We can’t just E-mail everyone a seven step strategy you can work on at home by yourself. We have to do this together.
Second, commitment has to be realistic about time. Everyone is busy. I’m not about to tell you that we can increase our commitment without adding a single second to our schedules, but we have to be honest about the fact that most of us already have more on our plates than we can manage.
Third, commitment is hard. It is hard because it requires movement and change and choices.2
Commitment will require more from all of us. But if all of us dial up our devotion, the blessings will make the sacrifices seem small.3
Introducing Journey Groups
Earlier this year, Twickenham members took a survey designed to gauge our growth as disciples of Jesus.4
The feedback from the survey looks a lot like Paul’s assessment of his own spiritual performance in Romans 7:18 -- For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.
Like Paul, we experience a gap between our convictions and our actions -- the “Romans 7 Dilemma.” We know what to do. We want to do it. But we do not always follow through. For us, that gap shows up in three areas – sharing Christ, building relationships, and using our spiritual gifts to serve.
One of the ways we are working to overcome the “Romans 7 Dilemma,” is by renewing our commitment to adult Sunday school. We are revitalizing its mission. We are refreshing its format. We are even going to change its name – from Adult Bible Fellowships to Journey Groups.
Some of the most important movements in Scripture started with a journey. God’s promise to Abram (Gen. 3:12), began with a call to go on a journey. When Israel cried out to God for deliverance, God5
ordered Moses (Ex. 3:10), So now, go. Volumes are dedicated to the missionary journeys of Paul and his companions. And the first Christians were called followers of the way (Acts 9:2).
A Journey Group is more than just a Sunday morning Bible class. It is a group of brothers and sisters who know your name and miss you when you are absent. It is an environment where you can use your gifts to serve others. You’ll be encouraged through scriptural teaching to live a more obedient life in Christ. When life’s journey gets tough, your Journey Group will walk with you through the struggle. Your Journey Group can become the kind of community you will want your unchurched friends to be a part of.
But it cannot become any of those things without commitment. That commitment is not to a class, but to a group of people – brothers and sisters who agree to walk with one another and with God on the journey of faith. If we will make that commitment, then the words of the prophet Isaiah (30:21) will ring true for us: Whether you turn to the right or to6
the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
|Class Location||Journey Group Leader(s)|
|Young Marrieds/ Families||S201/S202||Daniel and Tatum Kaufmann|
|Spirtually Single||S204||Mark and Karen Behel|
|Sonlight||S205||Glen and Linda Laird & Tim and Marla Logan|
|Friendship||S206||Jim and Mike Vann|
|Fellowship Hall||Fellowship Hall||Dan and Tammy Beasley & Ronald and Stacey Woods|
Getting Involved Through Journey Groups
Twickenham is blessed with a remarkably gifted membership, gifts given to each of us through God’s Spirit. One of the goals of Journey Groups is to put those gifts to work reaching the community and serving the body. There are three main areas where Journey Group members may serve.
Outreach – We don’t usually think of Sunday school as an outreach opportunity. A quote from Allan Taylor, of Lifeway publishing, however, offers a different perspective: “If the single largest ministry in your church is not a Great Commission ministry, your church will not be a Great Commission Church.”
If you have a passion for reaching the lost or walking with those who are searching, serving in outreach is for you. How can you be involved?
- Personally invite non-Christians or Christians who no longer have a church home to Twickenham events, classes and groups.
- Follow up with those who visited our worship services and invite them to be a part of your group.
- Study the Bible with those who are seeking.
- Take guests to lunch after worship services.
- Pray daily that your Journey Group will be evangelistic.
Connection – Building relationships is a key purpose of Journey Groups. That’s one of the reasons we are asking members to commit to commit to one group. Taking a long walk in the same direction leads us not only closer to God, but to each other. If you interact with others comfortably, like meeting new people or generally just enjoy others, serving in a connection role is for you. How can you be involved?
- Be responsible for providing lite refreshments to your Sunday morning Journey Group.
- Create an atmosphere of hospitality, welcoming both members and guests.
- Open your home for fellowship/connection get-togethers outside of the Sunday morning hour.
- Plan fellowship opportunities for your group.
- Invite other members of your group to work as a team on church wide fellowship events such as the Fourth of July Ice Cream Social, Trunk or Treat, etc.
- Pray daily for the unity and cohesiveness of your group.
Care – Our journey together is not always easy. We get sick. We fall into financial difficulty. Marriages struggle. Children wander. When the worst happens – or even when the marginally bad happens – we need our brothers and sisters to be there for us.
- Maybe you are easily moved to compassion. Perhaps you feel most spiritually alive when you are helping someone in a practical way. How can you be involved?
- Prepare food when a family suffers sickness or death.
- Visit members in the hospital.
- Provide basic household chores like mowing the lawn, house-cleaning, car repair and maintenance, etc.
- Send cards, make phone calls or visit those who are sick.
- Phone members who have been absent so that they know they are missed.
- Pray daily that your group will be compassionate and caring.
When the Journey Gets Tough
by Jody Vickery
(The following is a true story. The names have been changed to regard the privacy of those involved.)
When a phone rings at 2:00 in the morning, it’s never good news. This time was no exception.
“I’m sorry to wake you, but I got a call from Carol Smith a few minutes ago. There’s been an accident. Lee is gone.”
Lee and Carol, members of our church, had been vacationing at the beach with their two young daughters. While snorkeling, Lee had suffered a heart attack and died. Carol, alone in a distant city, was trying to figure out what to do, grieving her husband and caring for two little girls who had just witnessed their father’s death.
It took a few seconds to process what the caller had told me, but I finally asked, “What do we need to do?”
He said, “The group is on it. The Williams are on the11
way there now to help Carol with the girls and the ride back. We’ll start planning food in the morning. Bob is going to handle the Sunday morning group. I’ll keep you posted.”
As I cradled the phone, I thought about the devastation Lee’s sudden death was going to have on his family. And on our Sunday morning group. We had all grown pretty close to each other, but had not yet experienced a tragedy like this. In the months that followed, however, I witnessed what it looks like when brothers and sisters carry each other’s burdens.
That Sunday morning, Bob, our group leader, helped us talk through our grief. He began with a simple question –
“How are you feeling about this tragic loss?” One by one, group members shared their sorrow, memories, scriptures and prayers. Bob navigated that difficult moment with such grace. I was not surprised when he later became a shepherd in our church.12
Two couples in our group, responsible for making sure members in need were cared for, organized a meal plan so Carol didn’t have to cook for the next few months. They arranged for sitters when Carol had to handle business or personal needs. They even coordinated rides to and from school for the girls.
Reflecting on that experience, I realized two things: first, losing a spouse or parent changes everything. Second, we need each other. In the good times and in the hard times. Had it not been for her Sunday morning group, Carol would not have made it. They were there for her. Later, she was able to be there for others.
I wanted you to know that story because it explains why we’re devoting this entire newsletter to our new adult Sunday school ministry, Journey Groups. Our Adult Bible Fellowships have laid a valuable foundation. In fact, many Twickenham members are doing for others exactly the kinds of things the people in this story did for Carol. By recommitting to adult Sunday school, we hope to build on what is already happening and grow this ministry to include13
more and more people.
We never know whether life’s journey is going to be smooth or rough. It is wise, then, to travel in the company of others.14