But, the real purpose of this post is about the time leading up to the decision to change things… maybe you have experienced something that you knew needed to change. How did you handle it? What did you do? Many times we have a feeling deep in our core that we need to do something, take a risk, stick up for the right thing. Unfortunately, all to often we let…
There is a lot happening right now within Living Water Church and I couldn't be more excited about the changes we are making! December 2 started our new series “Simple Churches” where we have been discussing our transition into churches that meet in homes. It's crazy to think that Living Water Church has existed for almost 2 years and during this time I have had the chance to meet some amazing people who have said things like, "We are all in” and “this is the community that God is leading us to be a part of". The community has been my favorite part of Living Water Church and with this shift, we will be able to truly deepen those relationships and become a healthier community of faith. I think I am most excited about seeing people begin to step out for the first time and begin to pray and ask God to help them identify what their Kingdom Dream is. Last night I had the opportunity to sit around a fire with some men and we were able to speak life into someone who is on the cusp of having their Kingdom Dream begin to take shape. I'm ready to see each and every person in our Simple Churches take a step towards their fulfilling their Kingdom Dream!
I want to use the rest of this email to help know what happens next.
ATTEND AN OPEN HOUSE
Cerna Open House
Date: December 16 & December 30
Time: 12:30 pm - Lunch will be provided
Address: 469 S Woodlawn Blvd, Derby KS
We will eat together, answer any questions you might have, discuss what a Simple Church is and share our hopes for what community, worship, and living on mission will look like for us.
Williams Open House
Date: December 23 & December 30
Time: 2:00pm-4:00pm - Snacks will be provided
Address: 1402 Shelly Dr, Mulvane KS
We will get together and eat some yummy snacks while we discover what it looks like to be a missional community and how to begin living life on mission together! Bring any questions you might have, we will discover the answers together!
Windsor Open House
Date: December 30
Time: 9 am - Breakfast will be provided
Address: 1601 East Southridge Ct. Derby KS
This will be a time to eat together and explore what being a part of our community will look like!
ATTEND THE GATHERING
Date: January 6 & 27
Time: 4:00 – 6:00 pm
Address: Cedar Pointe Church 9221 E 31st St S, Wichita, KS 67210
We are extremely thankful for Cedar Pointe Church’s generosity and look forward to our partnership with them.
Every month at The Gathering Living Water Church will provide dinner so that we can eat together. After we finish eating kids will get checked into kid’s ministry and adults will gather for a worship service. Mark your calendar with the dates below!
January 6- The Gathering
January 13- Simple Church
January 20- Simple Church
January 27- The Gathering
February 3- Simple Church
February 10- Simple Church
February 17- Simple Church
February 24- The Gathering
March 3- Simple Church
March 10- Simple Church
March 17- Simple Church
March 24- The Gathering
March 31- Simple Church
I know this is a lot to take in and you may have some questions so I wanted to address some questions we’ve received so far.
Q: Not a question, but this is scary!
A: This is totally an understandable feeling to encounter with a shift like this. Change can often be frightening because of so many unknown variables. The good news is that our Board of Directors believes that this is the right step for our church and that this is the next step that God is having us take. As long as we continue to seek God and do whatever he says, we will accomplish all he has set out for us.
Q: What will happen to all of our portable equipment?
A: We have acquired quite a bit of equipment, some of it has been purchased by us, given to us, or loaned to us. The equipment we own but won’t use at the Gathering will go into storage. The loaned equipment such as the trailer and portable boxes will go back to the churches that let us borrow that equipment. We are extremely thankful for all of the churches who have loaned and donated equipment to us
Q: Can we try multiple Simple Churches?
A: We can’t stop anyone from trying multiple simple churches, but we can suggest and even discourage you to not do that. This model of church is extremely personal; you are essentially sharing your life with multiple families. To jump in for a few weeks and then pull out is bound to leave some people feeling rejected and hurt. With that being said, we completely understand wanting to find the right fit! This is why we have created Open Houses. We encourage you to attend all of them or meet with the pastors of these Simple Churches and get a feel for what that Simple Church will be like.
We highly encourage you to pray about this. If you begin in prayer and go where God leads you, you will end up in the right community.
Q: What will Kid’s Ministry look like in the context of a simple church?
A: Every Simple Church will have to explore what will work best for the kids that are in their simple church. Some churches may be made up of primarily teenagers; some will be made up of kids under the age of six, while others will have a blend of all age groups. We want our children to feel like they are the church so they will eat, pray and worship with everyone. Here are some examples of ways to invest in kids in your simple church:
1. Have parents take turns planning an hour of kids community each week.
2. Have your simple church meet 2 days out of the week and designate one of those times as "adult-focused " and the other as "kids focused”. This is a big commitment but has the opportunity to work out well.
3. If your simple church has teenagers in it, there is an opportunity for them to embrace investing in those younger than them. Living on mission for them would be teaching, loving, and creating community with and amongst the kids. They could be a part of a Simple Church geared towards teens during the week to help fill the need for community in their lives
These are just a few options that we know; your Simple Church may come up with other options or even make tweaks to ones listed above. The most important thing is that each Simple Church figures out what works best for the people involved.
If you have a question not yet answered please email me or grab one of our pastors on Sunday morning, we would love to talk with you!
Everyone loves conflict right? Well, some people seem to enjoy it more than others. If we are all honest most of us would rather avoid conflict if at all possible. And truthfully there is no way to avoid conflict as long as you are around people! Marriage, parenting, your job, the church. There are literally hundreds of opportunities for conflict every day and in my opinion how we choose to act in those moments of confrontation determine our views of ourselves and other people. We can begin to see ourselves as greater than or as less than or unworthy. Both are dangerous and incorrect views.
For the sake of this conversation let's define conflict as a difference in opinion or purpose that frustrates someone's goals or desires.
This is where I hope we can begin to change how you view conflict. There are two terms that are often taught. One of them is conflict resolution. Any time a conflict can be resolved we should absolutely celebrate! However much of the time there is no resolution to a conflict, therefore it must be managed. This is why I prefer to talk about conflict management rather than only resolution because many times we set ourselves up to fail when conflicts don't always resolve we can give up or give in to our fight or flight responses.
Here are some examples of conflicts that can't be resolved:
1) I am a male. My wife is a female. That can't change, we must learn to manage our differences by understanding one another with enough grace and love to see the strengths in our differences.
2) Chris thinks abstract while I think linear. This can be a very frustrating conflict and one that if Chris and I weren't mature enough to manage would have already resulted in one or both of us leaving the church. We now sit in a loving, trusting relationship in which we both appreciate one another's gifts and passions! (side note: this took a lot of effort from both of us and I think this is one of the things that makes our church great!)
3) Gifts and Callings: This conflict is what I believe has resulted in the numerous Christian denominations and para-church organizations. People that are gifted in certain ways felt that their way of viewing things wasn't welcome and thus left to go start their own thing. And while I'm all for starting new things I do think that more unity should take place. I personally want to lead a church where you can be passionate about what God made you passionate about and I can be passionate about what God made me passionate about. That doesn't sound all that confrontational until five voices begin to speak their specific preference into the priorities of the church! It can, unfortunately, get really messy really fast if we think that the only resolution to the conflict is that our way is the way. We must instead view this as a beautiful conflict that is to be managed. A good tension that creates positive momentum for all five very necessary voices to be heard and valued. (Find these five gifts in Ephesians 4:11-13)
Here's the bottom line: Conflict always provides an opportunity to glorify God, that is, to bring him praise and honor by showing who he is, what he is like, and what he is doing. The best way to glorify God in the midst of conflict is to depend on and draw attention to his grace, that is the undeserved love, mercy, forgiveness, strength, and wisdom he gives to us through Jesus Christ.
- Excerpt from Peace Maker by Ken Sande
I'll be the first in line to admit this is not something I have always been or am currently perfect at, but by God's grace, I hope to continue to navigate all of life's conflicts better and better as I grow in maturity in Christ.
In John 21, Jesus tells Peter three times to “feed My sheep”. When I read this, it totally slapped me in the face. My first thought was, “How am I feeding His sheep?”. I sat down and thought about different ways I could “feed” a person. I could, of course, literally feed people food. Or I could feed knowledge, training, teaching, guidance, and love. Throughout the Bible, God refers to believers as sheep, which led me to think about shepherds. They have a flock that they look after, they tend to, and they feed. So then I thought “Who is in my flock? What people am I reaching and feeding?” My flock is the homeless. There are many ways I hope I can “feed” them. The homeless ministry I am a part of hopes to feed the homeless with an opportunity of support. We want to let them know we are here to help. Our “food” will be guidance in walking alongside them to help end homelessness. We want to raise funds and work with other organizations to get affordable housing and help pay some of their rent and help them find jobs to pay the rest. We want to feed them with education, so helping them get schooling. We have some big dreams on what we will be feeding our local homeless but what I hope to feed them most is the love of Jesus.
What you feed your flock can really make a huge difference. Let's look at beef for a second. The difference between grass-fed cows and corn-fed cows is huge. Cows are fed corn to fatten them up in an unhealthy way. This is hard on the cows and does not make for the healthiest meat. Grass makes for a better meat that is more rich in heart-healthy fatty acids. Just like what you put into a cow is important, it's important what you put into people. People need spiritual food for spiritual strength. If people are not fed the spiritual food they will be like the corn-fed cow. If we feed them in spiritual food then they will be like the grass-fed cow, healthy and used to fill up other people. Worldly things that fill people up like the corn will not count in the end. What will count is the grass that is spiritual food. Two big spiritual foods you can use to fill people up is scripture and prayer. My hope for you is that you will feed your flock up spiritually, and healthy. God is calling you to feed His sheep. Who will you feed and what will you feed them?
I've found that I look at these verses from two different perspectives, one from victory and one from defeat. From victory I find that this scripture emboldens my faith, it affirms that I have truly persevered through adversity and thus found steadfastness. The issue with this perspective is
I recently attended a funeral for a baby who was born in a very traumatic way that caused her to be without oxygen for an undetermined amount of time. She entered the world at 33 weeks gestation. She fought hard and lived for 12 days. Attending a funeral for a baby will break your heart in a way you may have never felt before. As I think about how my friend and her family are feeling during this time, the pain I feel for them is so intense I can hardly stand it. I would do anything to take their pain away and allow them to have their little girl back.
I would never wish pain and suffering on anyone, but in our broken world we have pain and suffering. It is unavoidable and necessary. Without pain we would not be moved to action. Without pain we would not turn to Jesus. Without pain we would not grow. God does not cause our pain, but He does allow it and He uses it for His purpose. If we run toward our pain and not from it, God can mold us and shape us through the pain. We can come out on the other side stronger and with a new purpose that God can use. We must use our pain to help others and point them to Jesus. Until Jesus comes back we have a purpose and we can not just sit on the sidelines. People will always be watching to see how we handle the pain and suffering in our lives and what we do with it sets us apart from others.
My prayer is that Jesus will be our redeemer in times of pain. We will never understand why things happen on this earth, but Jesus can make anything new. We only need to turn to Him and allow Him to heal our hearts.
“They remembered that God was their Rock that God Most High was their redeemer”
Recently I have spent a lot of time thinking about my answer to that question. And here’s why --
I am 35 years old and have lived the majority of my life as a surviving victim of sexual abuse. I was 11 years old when I was molested by someone close to me and I have lived with it every day since. I won’t ever be able to escape the memories. The fear, the shame, the embarrassment and the lack of understanding will always be a part of who I am. And I am finally okay with that because I know God is working in my life!
I have struggled throughout the years with being depressed, anxious and angry, but more than all of that, I have struggled with being okay. As a teenager and young adult, I really didn’t know how to deal with feeling happy or content, so I created chaos in my life because that was more comfortable to me. I pushed away anyone who tried to help me and clung to those who used me. I had a distinct pattern of toxic, unhealthy relationships.
If you’re reading this, maybe you can relate in some capacity. Whether it’s abuse you’ve suffered (like me), a loss of someone you love, or some other type of hurt that has consumed you for far too long, you understand what I mean when I say you can’t really make sense out of it. How do you accept it and move on when there are reminders everywhere?
I have lived the last two decades of my life regretting what happened to me, how it changed my family and how it changed me. I was 16 years old the first time I forgave. I say the first time because I have to forgive often. Not only do I have to forgive him, but I also have to forgive myself. Forgiveness has been the beginning of moving on and releasing the regret. It’s not easy when you relive it all the time and think about how you should have done things differently. “What ifs” are difficult to live with!
God has given me the chance to start over...more than once! He has put people in my life who love me to the best of their ability. He has loved me and been the security I craved and sought after for most of my life. He has given me the ability to love others the way He loves me. He has has given me salvation through Jesus.
I don’t shy away from telling my story. It’s the best tool I have to share how God has worked in my life. I don’t credit myself with anything other than being willing to let God heal me. It’s ongoing, I’m not done yet, but I’m closer now than I ever have been before!
Six small letters that can hold the weight of the world. I don’t have many regrets in my life that I haven’t been able to redeem in one way or another, but as I was sitting in church last Sunday listening to Zak preach about Father’s Day and being able to make peace with regret - specifically surrounding fathers and dads... I was brought back to the last time I saw my dad awake and alive.
I was a freshman in college, attending K State and I had come home for the weekend. I was visiting my boyfriend and my family and (sadly) at 18, the boyfriend took precedent. He was my high school sweetheart and very much a part of the family, so of course he was with me when I visited my parents. I’ll never forget when we arrived at my my dad’s house, it was blazing hot outside - September in Kansas, but inside the house it was quiet, dark and cool. My dad was in bed, not feeling well and my boyfriend had things to do, so I was in a hurry. I only had a couple of days in town and I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. I went into my dad’s room to chat for a few minutes. (I’m a daddy’s girl and even if a few minutes was all I that I got this time, it was a enough for me.) A few words, a kiss on the cheek and hug goodbye - that’s how I left.
I regret not staying longer.
I regret not saying a prayer.
I regret not knowing that it was the last hug. The last kiss. The last “I love you.”
Had I known, I would have stayed. I wouldn’t have had plans. No plans were more important than the time I’ll never get back.
After listening to Zak preach on Sunday, I have started the process of forgiving myself for being selfish with my time. My dad knew I loved him. He knew he was my hero. He knew he was my best friend. I don’t regret our memories together, only that there aren’t more of them. When my dad left this world and went to Heaven, he went with a full heart, knowing he was loved. He wasn’t regretting our last time together. He loved me and he knew that I knew it!
Reframing the reality of our last memory together has been a catalyst for healing. It was full of love, of him for me and me for him. There is nothing to regret about that!
Teamwork; we all have a different view of it, mainly because we have all had different experiences with teams. Some of them have been good and others may have been dysfunctional. Regardless of all of our experiences, Jesus and the authors of the writings of the New Testament have made it very clear that we (the Church) are supposed to be unified and of one mind.
It is clear that we need to be working together. After all, we want to dream God-size vision that would be impossible to accomplish without one another. We are a team and we need each other if we are going to accomplish all that God has called us to accomplish.
This is why we are working so diligently to build teams to work in our kids ministry, hospitality ministry, set-up and tear-down, as well as our discipleship team. These opportunities only scratch the surface of the ways that exist to serve your church! There are even more opportunities creatively and administratively that are behind the scenes!
We are looking to add around 25 people to our hospitality team as we look to build toward launching Sunday morning services in the fall. This ministry is a great opportunity to be the smile or kind word that someone, who walks through our doors discouraged and tired, may need.
The kid's ministry team needs 15-20 passionate leaders to come alongside our kids and lead them to know, love and follow God. You could be the person that impacts the eternity of a young life. How amazing would it be to leave that kind of lasting impact on our world?
The set-up and tear-down team is looking to add 20 people to serve by making sure our environments are set up (and broken down) with excellence and in a timely manner. This is a great way to use your muscles to help people see the love of Jesus!
There truly are more opportunities than you have time to read in this post, but I want all of us to pray and listen to God to find where our kingdom impact might be! When you're ready to find the team for you to join click here and let us know!
God is building something very special in our church and you are a part of it! Thank you for faithfully stepping into all that God tells you to do.
Know you are loved,
We recently announced that Kyle Peoples would be joining Chris Cerna and I on the Teaching Team at Living Water Church. While this is a huge deal and we are extremely excited about it, I thought it might be helpful to explain why we have multiple teachers in the first place.
1) We are called to multiply. This is the most important reason that we are intentionally raising up new communicators. Truthfully, every role in the church needs to continually multiply and reproduce new leaders and this does not exclude weekend communication.
2) In order for you to get multiple views on the topics at hand, we believe as a team, that God is going to guide us and use us based on one another’s experiences and passions to provide you with a well rounded approach to our sermons. Simply put, we are different, thus our communication styles are different. The Gospel is the same for all of us and our mission provides unity that we all need inside the local church.
3) I can’t do it all. I’d love to tell you that I’m an all-star, that can do all things and be all things for all people, but I can’t. This team provides a balance in the schedule that insures we are each taking care of ourselves spiritually and not guiding you through peaks and valleys on an empty tank. Plus, I am genuinely looking forward to sitting with my family and soaking in the teaching from both Kyle and Chris!
I hope you are as excited as I am that God is continually building Living Water Church with a strong core of leaders that will multiply themselves, multiply disciples and ultimately multiply churches!