Monday, July 3, 2017

July Parent Newsletter 2K17:

For Parents On the Go:

1) Summer Meals EVERY Wednesday at 6:00 pm in CREW. Cost: $3.

2) Sliding Rock in Ashville, NC. Here is a website to read more about it (https://www.romanticasheville.com/sliding_rock_north_carolina.htm). Thursday, July 13th. 8:00 am-5:00 pm. Cost: $3 plus lunch money.

3) Carowinds, Tuesday, July 25th. Cost of admission plus $ for lunch.

4) Sunday mornings we have begun a new series entitled A Beautiful Design examining God's purpose for manhood and womanhood. I will be doing short video blogs on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on social media to help solidify the content learned on Sunday morning. Please tune in.

Dear Parents,

Last week while I was at summer camp I had the opportunity to interact with several other Student Ministers. Several Student Ministers complained about the lack of support they get from parents and how parents are always undermining their authority. When they were sharing I was thanking God for each of you.

Thank you for being supportive of me and the direction I have been attempting to steer CREW Student Ministries.

Thank you for adopting and supporting my vision of reaching, teaching and releasing 7th-12th grade students.

Thank you for speaking words of encouragement to me through cards, emails and even pulling my aside and letting me know you support me.

Thank you for driving your son or daughter to activities and on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights.

Thank you for encouraging your son or daughter who drives to come out to activities and on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights.

Thank you for paying for events and activities. I know it can be a strain on your budget but I appreciate the sacrifice and know that God is using all of the events and activities to mold and shape your son or daughter into an individual who loves the Lord and serves others.

Thank you for praying for me and my family.

Thank you for entrusting your most treasured possession into our care week after week.

I could not effectively serve the students at FBCS if it was not for your encouragement, love, prayers and support. Thank you.

I will close this brief newsletter with a quote from the Apostle Paul to the church in Philippi,

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

Reaching, Teaching and Releasing,

Pastor T Welch

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wednesday Worship:


Do Something Awesome: Build A Family

If you listen to a dash of rap or pop music every now and then as I do, you hear some interesting words and phrases: "swag," "YOLO." And one of my personal favorites: "I'm doing me now." This saying means that, though you've been forced to sacrifice your interests for others in past days, you are at present concentrating on yourself.

This is a humorous phrase but a popular worldview today. In a secularizing, narcissistic society, other people are increasingly seen as an impediment to happiness. This is true for some folks of children, for example. Once, children were a natural stepping stone to maturity, one that followed marriage. Now, they're increasingly seen as a lifestyle option that you can either opt out of altogether or buy into later in life. The common life-script among a good number of my peers (both Christian and non-Christian, surprisingly) is basically this:


  • Have fun now (20s and 30s).
  • Have as many relationships as you want; keep them as minimally defined as possible. 
  • Make lots of money, pursue your career with super-intensity; alternately, goof off and avoid pursuing anything hard. 
  • Eventually, in your late 30s and 40s, think about settling down. Then, maybe have a few children.


From my little pocket of the Internet, I would like to register a different opinion: Building a family is awesome. Besides the gift of a husband or wife, children are a great gift of God to humanity. Like Adam shouting for joy over the discovery of Eve, the Psalmist shouts praise to God for the blessing of little ones:

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5).

How, though, do you actually build a God-glorifying family? Let me share several thoughts with you. (We're going to assume that marriage has already happened.)

1. Once married, create a strong spiritual climate before kids arrive.

When kids do come, you need to build into them. Actually, a husband and wife should themselves have already built a strong spiritual culture in the home. Studying the Bible together, praying together, talking about the sermon together, going to marriage seminars together, going on fun dates (ideally at least once or twice a month if you can), and having weekly conversations about how you can encourage one another and kill sin individually will all help to do this. It is especially important that you be members of a local church and, ideally, pursue a godly older couple to mentor you if at all possible.

2. Take time to get to know one another and figure out rhythms.

It is no bad thing for young Christian couples to take some time to figure out what life together actually looks like. It seems like some today feel pressure to get started immediately in having children. If that's what you think is best, go for it. No problem. But if you do want to take a period of time (one to two years, maybe?) to grow in your love for one another, I don't think you should feel any negative pressure for doing so. In ancient Israel, men were released from their typical duties for a year following their marriage.

During the time preceding the arrival of children, you can focus as a couple on things like the following:


  • Being a good and clear communicator 
  • Working through conflict in a productive way 
  • Learning how you can love your spouse in ways they enjoy 
  • Getting a lot of time together to simply enjoy marriage 
  • Enjoying the gift of sex, which takes a lot more hard work than Hollywood leads us to think 
  • Serving your local church and getting to know godly couples in it so you can learn from them
  • Building these and other skills will ready you to be a strong parent. It won't make you perfect parents or risk-proof your life, but it will deepen your love for one another and knowledge of one another.


3. When ready, create a family.

This sounds like a big deal, and it is. But in God's providence, it is generally a simple process. You don't need a certain IQ level or number in your bank account to have children. You do need to be responsible, spiritually growing, and able to give your kids the basics that they need to survive and thrive. For men, this means owning the responsibility to provide (see 1 Timothy 5:8-14, Titus 2:5). For women, this means becoming a nurturer of your home and preparing for nurture of children.

Some couples struggle with infertility. Many couples, sadly, experience a miscarriage, some even two or three. Do not enter the "family creation" stage expecting to experience some sort of dream-like reality as a couple. Life is hard, and conception and childbearing was cursed at the fall (Genesis 3:16). If that sounds abstract, it will not be. The effects of Adam and Eve's disobedience are real. Be ready to navigate challenges, should they come. Take care not to have a blueprint that you require God to follow in giving you children, but trust Him in all things and at all times as the sovereign Giver of life.

As one application of this, you might not come into your season of parenting thinking about adoption. But sometimes the struggle to conceive a child can open the door to a whole new dimension of child-raising, one that powerfully images the love God shows for His adopted people, the church (see Ezekiel 16 and James 1:27). Russell Moore's Adopted for Life is helpful on this subject.

4. When children come, invest in them.

The more quantity of time parents spend with their kids, the greater the chance the children will feel loved, and the healthier they will be. Read Deuteronomy 6:6-9 with this in mind:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

What does this mean for us? Because of our great love for our children, we should — like our biblical predecessors — take constant responsibility for our kids. We should teach them by word and deed at mealtimes, at bedtimes, in the field, during the commute, and while walking around the park.

Godly parenting is not a work you can compartmentalize; it's a calling, a continual calling. You have to constantly trade in self-interest for sacrificial love. Fathers should take their role as spiritual head seriously (see Ephesians 5:22-33). Both husband and wife have all kinds of ways to train their children, but the father is the spiritual leader of his home.

If you haven't taught anyone theology and struggle to know where to begin, get a book like Big Truths for Young Hearts or Knowing God. Read the book with your family for 10 minutes at night, discuss it for a bit, then pray. Or you could read a chapter of the Bible each night, talk about it, and pray. Whatever you choose to do, these kinds of small acts of spiritual leadership can go a long way to creating a happy home.

5. Remember your great need for the Gospel.

As I have said, parenting is hard work. It is a great task. It calls for a big vision of what you and your spouse want your family to be. If it is not infused with the Gospel and its call to regularly repent and savor God's grace in Jesus Christ, it may swallow you whole and leave you discouraged and disaffected. You, me and every parent who has ever lived or will ever live needs the power of the Gospel in our homes.

Parenting is hard work, as I've said. It brings out our sin. Sometimes you are simply desperate for a night to yourself. Sometimes you're short-tempered. Sometimes you don't want to change a diaper. Sometimes you and your spouse both feel these ways, and it's a mess, and you just have to stop what you're doing and repent together.

As a parent, you need to regularly let God's lavish forgiveness through the cross of Christ wash over you. This transforming reality, after all, has freed you from image maintenance. You're trying to parent well, but you're not trying to convince anyone you're a SuperDad or SuperMom. It's actually better for everyone — your kids, your neighbors, you — if you acknowledge that you're not perfect, that you desperately need the Lord, and that you find your strength in Him.

Conclusion

Family-building is big, glorious and immensely self-sacrificial. It is a great undertaking that calls for what I call "Gospel risk." We exchange our sin and selfishness and small dreams for something harder and better and God-honoring. This is the way to happiness, in truth: being like the faithful stewards of the Parable of the Talents who, while their master was gone, exemplified faithfulness and courage (see Matthew 25:14-30).

So forget about trying to craft the perfect vacation or figuring out the perfect risk-proof life plan, one that allows you to float on a bed of ease through a pampered life with no waves. Reject a culture of low expectations that reduces you to something weaker than you are. If you do, you'll set yourself up for unparalleled joys. Sometimes I look back when I'm driving, and my two tiny kids are holding hands, totally on their own initiative. I am not kidding when I say that nothing beats such moments.

If you're called to marriage, then you can know such joy. The world can "do me." It can have its fancy cocktails and designer jeans. We've found something better. It's not club-hopping — it's family-building.

Wednesday Worship:


Keep Going, Keep Sowing:

“He who goes out weeping” (Psalm 126:6)

To live in light of eternity means to live every day with an awareness that you will one day reap unspeakable joy when you see the face of Christ.

The joy in that moment will outweigh every sorrow of today.

This constant, because-you-know-you-must, because-if-you-quit-today-things-will-fall-apart, kind of tearful sowing, and the sadness that comes with it will seem as nothing in comparison.

We must continue to teach, explain, work, wait, listen, learn, repent, forgive, grow, and perhaps even stumble a little in the process.

Love when no love returns.

Instill those values into your children that don’t seem to stick the first, second, or third time. Eventually, they will.

Get up in the morning and go to a job you wish was more enjoyable, you wish paid better because your family really does depend on you.

Tell that lost one about the love and forgiveness found in the gospel. Serve your community even when they don’t serve you.

It’s those things that matter most in life that challenge us in the deepest ways and tempt us to quit. The everyday stuff of life that brings us to tears does so because we understand what’s at stake if we were to stop.

Continue in God’s strength. Sow because you know you must. The reward, in the end, has no equal.

For “he who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)

And “In due season you will reap if you faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)

Don’t just keep going. Do so because you know the bigger picture. If no seed is sown at all, you can cry all you want and absolutely nothing will happen. It’s not the tears that produce fruit, or even the faithfulness of the sower, but the faithfulness of the One who alone can take our feeble, everyday, day in and day out work, and do something glorious in His timing.

God is doing something magnificent with each seed you sow, even when you don’t see it.

Keep sowing, tears and all.

There will be shouts of joy.

There will be a harvest of laughter and rejoicing. Maybe not today or tomorrow or the next day, but soon.  

10 Things You Won't Find In A Church Reaching Millenials:

By Frank Powell:

Many people are pessimistic about Millennials, but I believe the next generation is poised to transform the culture (and the world) for the good. For many churches and leaders, however, Millennials are (to borrow from Winston Churchill) “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

I would agree with Churchill’s statement on some levels, but the riddle can be solved. Once you find out what makes Millennials tick, they are not that puzzling. They simply have a unique set of passions, interests, and viewpoints on the culture and the world.

But the church has largely failed to take stock in this generation because they are different. This is a problem. A lack of knowledge breeds fear, and this is true of the church in relation to Millennials. Many churches do not take the time to know the next generation, so they are stuck with attaching stigmas (many untrue) to them.

There are churches, however, that are thriving with Millennials, and if you did some investigation I believe you would find similar results, regardless of the church locale.

So, what differentiates a church culture that attracts Millennials from one that repels them? There are many factors, but I want to highlight ten really important ones. If your church wonders why reaching the next generation is difficult, the following points might shed some light on your struggle.

1.) There is a strong resistance to change.

The next generation doesn’t understand why churches refuse to change a program, activity, or even an entire culture if they aren’t effective. Millennials don’t hold traditions close to their heart. In fact, for many (myself included) traditions are often the enemy because many churches allow traditions to hinder them from moving forward.

Is this right? Maybe. Maybe not. But it is a reality nonetheless. One that must be understood.

Millennials are tired of hearing the phrase “this is how we have always done it.” That answer is no longer acceptable. Millennials want to change the world. Many times traditions hold them back from this. Change is necessary to remain focused on the vision and being externally focused, among many other things. The next generation understands this.

2.) A compelling vision is lacking or non-existent.

If creating an environment totally void of the next generation is your goal, especially those with any initiative and talent, refuse to cast vision in your church. That will drive Millennials away faster than the time I saw a rattlesnake in the woods and screamed like a girl. Don’t judge me. I hate snakes…and cats.

It baffles me when a church doesn’t value vision and planning. In no other arena of life do we refuse to vision and plan, but for some reason the church is different.

“If your vision doesn’t compel, move or stir people, your vision is too small.” ~Craig Groeschel

Millennials will not invest in a church that refuses to dream big because they see example after example of an infinitely powerful God doing amazing things through normal people. You might think they are naive, but most Millennials don’t believe they have to wait until they receive a certain degree or reach a certain age to start non-profits, plant churches, or lead businesses.

So, go ahead and believe “the Spirit is supposed to guide us, not a man-made vision” or just allow sheer laziness to lead the way, but your church will continue to be void of the next generation.

3.) Mediocrity is the expectation.

Quite simply…the next generation is not content with mediocrity. They believe they can (and will) change the world. Good or bad, they have a strong desire for the extraordinary. Failure is not going to drive the train. This also seems like a foreign concept to many in previous generations, but Millennials aren’t scared to fail. And they believe churches should operate with a similar mindset.

Failing and being a failure are mutually exclusive. They dream often and dream big because they understand they serve a God who works beyond their abilities.

Millennials have a collective concern for making the world a better place, and mediocrity fits nowhere in those plans.

4.) There is a paternalistic approach to leading Millennials.

If you want to push the next generation from your church, refuse to release them to lead.

This is one I have experienced personally. If you want to push the next generation away from your church, don’t release them to lead. Simply giving them a title means nothing. Titles are largely irrelevant to the next generation. They want to be trusted to fulfill the task given to them. If you micro-manage them, treat them like a child, or refuse to believe they are capable of being leaders because of their age and lack of experience, wisdom, etc., they will be at your church for a short season.

Millennials will not allow age to keep them from leading…and leading well. If you refuse to release them to lead, the next generation will quickly find another church or context where they can use their talents and gifts to their full capacity.

5.) There is a pervasive insider-focused mentality.

Traditional or contemporary worship? High church or low church? A plurality of elders, board of directors, or staff-led church? While past generations invested a lot of time in these discussions, most Millennials see these conversations as sideways energy. There might be a time and place for talking about acapella versus instrumental or high church versus low church, but the time is very rarely and the place is not from a pulpit or in a small group.

Millennials won’t attend churches that answer questions nobody is asking.

“When the faithful saturate their schedules with Christian events at Christian venues with Christian people, the world has a hard time believing we hold the rest of the world in high esteem.” ~Gabe Lyons

What is important to Millennials? How a church responds to the lost in the world, both locally and globally. How a church responds to the poor, homeless, needy, and widowed. If you want to ensure your church has very few Millennials, answer the questions nobody is asking, spend most of your resources on your building, and have programs that do little to impact anybody outside the church walls.

The next generation is pessimistic towards institutions…the church included. Millennials are not going to give their time and resources to a church that spends massive amounts of money on inefficient and ineffective programs.

Church leaders can get mad or frustrated about this, or they can consider changing things. Churches who value reaching the next generation emphasize the latter.

6.)  Transparency and authenticity are not high values.

Despite what I often hear, most Millennials value transparency and authenticity. If your church portrays a “holier than thou” mentality and most of the sermons leave everyone feeling like terrible people, your church will be largely devoid of the next generation.

Why? Because the next generation knows something the church has largely denied for a long time…church leaders are not in their position because they are absent of sin, temptations, or failures. Millennials have seen too many scandals in the church (i.e. Catholic church scandal) and witnessed too many instances of moral failures among prominent Christian leaders.

Millennials are not looking for perfect people…Jesus already handled that. Millennials are looking for people to be real and honest about struggles and temptations.

7.)  Mentoring is not important.

This is a common misconception about Millennials. While they do not like paternalistic leadership, they place a high value on learning from past generations. I have a good friend who lives in Jackson, TN and he occasionally drives to Nashville (two hours away) to sit at the feet of a man who has mentored him for years. He does this because his mentor has knowledge my good friend highly values.

He is not an exception. I have driven very far to spend a weekend with a family I love and respect. I had no other reason for going than to watch how they parent and let this man give me nuggets of wisdom on following Jesus and loving others. Many might think this is ridiculous, but this is what makes Millennials unique.

They value wisdom and insight. It is a valuable treasure, and they will travel long distances to acquire it.

Millennials aren’t standoffish towards those who have gone before us. They place a high value on learning. But they want to learn from sages, not dads. If your church is generationally divided and refuses to pour into the next generation, you can be sure your church will not attract Millennials.

8.) Culture is viewed as the enemy.

Millennials are tired of the church viewing the culture as the enemy. Separationist churches that create “safe places” for their members, moving away from all the evil in the city, are unlikely to attract the next generation. The next generation is trying to find ways to engage the culture for the glory of God.

Millennials are increasingly optimistic about the surrounding culture because this is the model of Jesus. He loves all types of people, does ministry in the city, and engages the culture. They also know the church does not stand at the cultural center anymore.

In past generations, preachers could stand in pulpits and lecture about the evils of the culture because the church shaped the culture. Today, this is not true.

The goal of Christian living isn’t to escape the evils of the culture and finish life unharmed. To reach people today, the church must be immersed in the community for the glory of God.

9.) Community is not valued.

This might be the greatest value of Millennials. Community is a non-negotiable part of their lives. And they aren’t looking for another group of people to watch the Cowboys play football on Sunday…the next generation desires a Christ-centered community. They value a community that moves beyond the surface and asks the hard questions.

Community keeps Millennials grounded and focused. Community challenges them to reach heights never imagined alone. Jesus lived in community with twelve men for most of His earthly ministry. Jesus spent a lot of His time pouring into people. Community isn’t an optional part of a Millennial’s life…it is essential.

Personally, I have seen the value of community on so many levels. Without authentic Christian community, I wouldn’t be in full-time ministry today. I wouldn’t have overcome serious sins and struggles. I wouldn’t have been challenged to live fully for God.

In a culture becoming increasingly independent and disconnected, Millennials model something important for the church. There is power in numbers. As an African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go ALONE. If you want to go far, go TOGETHER.”

Millennials want to go far and want their life to have meaning. In their minds this is not possible without deep, authentic, Christ-centered community. I agree.

10.) The church is a source of division and not unity.

Nothing frustrates Millennials more than a church that doesn’t value unity. Jesus’s final recorded prayer on earth in John 17 has been preached  for years. What many churches miss is one of the central themes in that prayer…unity.

On four separate occasions, Jesus explicitly prays for unity. It was important to him. He brought together tax collectors and Zealots (just do some research if you want to know how difficult it would have been to bring these groups together). He brought people together. This is why places like coffee shops are grounds (like my pun?) for a lot of Millennials. They want to be in environments where everyone feels welcomed and accepted.

Churches that value racial, generational, and socio-economic unity will attract Millennials. Why? The gospel is most fully reflected when all of these groups are brought together, and most of them are just crazy enough to believe the power of the Spirit is sufficient to make it happen.

Some churches and leaders don’t see the value of changing to reach this generation, but once they realize this mentality is wrong it will be too late. The Millennials are a huge part of the population today (about 80 million strong), and if your church is serious about the Great Commission, your church also needs to be serious about understanding this generation.

Wednesday Worship: