Online Service

This Wednesday night August 5th, at 7:00pm est we will be having an on-line service.

As you may remember a few weeks ago we hijacked the service from Marty, Well this is the message he didn’t get to preach complete with our rockin worship band.

We would love to have you join us.  Also we would love to have your friends join us.  I have created a link that should help you connect your computer to your tv.  This way you can invite your friends and neighbors over and have a viewing party.  A few drinks, a few snacks, a few friends.  We do it for the Superbowl why not for church?

The link to setup your computer to tv connection is…

http://www.fellowshipholden.com/fctv-hdtv

The link to our service is the same as always…

http://www.fellowshipholden.com/FCTV

I hope to see you all there… Is the internet great?

Billy

Web Pastor@ FellowshiHolden

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Love God: It all starts and ends here.

I’ve been working more lately on developing this whole goal idea for our student ministry here at Fellowship Church. I shared before that our win statement is when our students “have a meaningful participation in authentic service to God within the context of life groups.” Check out that post here. One of the ideas behind this statement is that everything points back to God. Without God, all of this is relative. And without God, all of this, there’s no true target to hit.

I taught this brief two week series on Love God, Love People (Love People had to go online video because of the weeks we missed due to ice and snow storms, check that out here.) The point behind the series was to first show that without understanding who God is and how He describes and defines love, we don’t know what love is (Love God and Love People is our reason for our existence, so knowing what Love is and is not seems crucial).

I had the students first tell me how they would define love or give me some examples of things they loved. It was interesting and there were some great ideas, but little references to how God describes it or does it or to what things. And if we define love how we want to define it, then most likely our loving people just doesn’t match up. It’s in these scenarios that Christ-following is seen and put to the test. We can quickly get labeled as that hypocrite. Understanding God’s love is crucial even in how our relationship with God is practiced. Is our relationship truly built on Love for God as He loves us?

In the end, I summed up Love as sacrificed service. To Love God and to Love People, we must sacrifice ourselves to serve them (not to be doormats for people, but to be confident in our selfless acts that lifts up God’s name. The bible says that people should be able to give God glory through our actions. wow!) Ultimately as we love people, we’re loving God. When we serve people, we’re serving God. “Leading Students into a meaningful participation in authentic service to God within the context of life groups.” Is the goal big enough?

FC Student: the win, Part 2

One of the other major thoughts that ran through our heads as we developed the end in mind is realizing that there isn’t an end to be in mind. The goal of ministry is not to do what you can while you have them, but to bond with them and teach them to be Christ followers even when they move away, or grow up out of your particular ministry environment.

Spiritual growth is a community undertaking. That’s what we try to strive for for adult small groups. Yet why what until then. The entire church community can be there long before they become adults to connect with them, speak influence when they don’t want to hear it from their parents, teach them how to serve, and teach them how to walk a life with Christ.

Statistics have been all over the place that highlight 75% or so of youth walk away from God and the church after they leave high school. Maybe that says a lot about why they are there in the first place. Maybe it’s not because they are in love with an amazing God. Maybe they’re there because their parents go there and that’s part of their life unconsciously. Maybe they are there because they enjoy the activities because we spend more time designing and planning activities than creating independent followers of God. Maybe because that’s just the facts of spiritual life, some seed is sown in good soil, but some are not. Jesus says in Matthew 7:14 that the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to life, and that only few find it.

We never really know who are those few who find it, but our job is to make as many as possible that come into our neighborhoods to love them and lead them into that growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Our student ministry will only be as successful as we make it as well as how successful our children’s ministries are as well as how successful our adult small groups are as well as how successful our parents are in taking their biblical role of training and teaching in righteousness right at home.

FC Student: the goal, Part 1

Part of doing the work of the ministry as a leader is helping equip others in how to do the work of the ministry. How and in what direction are some key things to think through in achieving this end. I believe we must be purposeful, strategic, intentional, however you want to say it.

As the Family Ministries Director of Fellowship Church, I’ve been able to work with the student ministry workers in developing our goal or win or success end of mind statement. As of right now, we say it like this:
Our win is when a student has a meaninful participation in authentic service within the context of life groups.

Here are some of the things that came up in making this statement. In an attempt to measure how someone is growing spiritually, I think of James that talks about faith that is without works is dead and how Jesus in John 15 talks about branches that do or do not bear fruit or Jesus’ sermon on the mount that highlights true religion in action (tree bearing fruit describes what kind of tree it is). So it seems that in one sense, we should be able to see something to identify growth.

There are so many passages that talk about humanity’s main objective in pointing everything back to a relationship with God. Throughout the bible there’s the “Love God with all your…” in Deuteronomy, Jesus’ message to Satan, Jesus’ answer of the greatest commandment, etc. And usually following those phrases are descriptions or contexts by which this is played out. Love is described by certain action characteristics. Love is something that one should be able to see and identify as love.

Pastors and teachers role in the church is to equip the people to do the work of the ministry. Ministry means service. Service to God whether directly or indirectly, but all for the service to God. Service describes an action. Worshiping through music describes an action of the body and mind and heart and voice and even hands and arms in praising God, paying service to His greatness. So whether through reading our bibles, giving our money to church, praying, feeding the needy, building friends with unbelievers, sharing our struggles and growth with fellow believers in community, it’s all service to God through action.

Those are some of the things that ran through our minds during this discussion. We could have said in many ways, but for me the word service also carries a connotation of action. Certainly there are things that need to be aware of that could look like service, but the heart or the root of the tree is not in the right place, but that’s another discussion.

I’ll share more of those things that were discussed if you’re interested. Interested?

Love People

lovegod_message2

In this current series for the FC Students! we’ve began a discussion around the idea of loving God and loving People.  This is the extreme purpose of all mankind.  It’s in this discussion of loving People that the idea becomes harder to practice.  The truth is though that perhaps when we begin to realize our need to love people better, we’ll realize our need to understand how to love God’s way.  Then we’ll begin to experience our love for God growing as well.  Join us in this virtual dialogue in loving people; and believe me, the discussion will continue for the rest of your life.

Watch the video message and download the file where you can practice on some scenarios of loving people.  Think through these alone or even better would be with your family.   Click here for the lovegodlovepeople practice pdf.  Then leave a comment about which scenario was hard to love in and maybe share a personal example of how hard it is for you to love a certain people.

Click on this link for the message video:lovepeople

Cindy Shea in the Worcester Newspaper

Cindy Shea, member of Fellowship Church finds herself on the cover of a Septemberissual of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.  Because the article is in the archives by now, we’ve produced it here on this blog.  God is using Hearts for Heat in a big way this winter!

Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)

Another big chill?

September 10, 2008
Section: NEWS
Page: A1

By    Lee Hammel

WORCESTER – Just in time for the $3.93 per gallon home heating oil season – a 30 percent decrease in federal fuel assistance to needy Massachusetts residents.

Yesterday, about 35 people, including Gov. Deval L. Patrick, attended the third hearing on the state Winter Energy Costs Task Force, held in Hebert Auditorium at Quinsigamond Community College. Mr. Patrick predicted that the rapid increase in the price of heating oil is going to affect more than just low-income people. In a hearing chaired by Energy Secretary Ian Bowles, the governor applauded the Legislature for appropriating $10 million to supplement the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, but he said the state may have to do more. LIHEAP money to Massachusetts will drop 30 percent from about $115 million last winter to $80 million this year, state officials said.
The concern that people are feeling about paying to heat their homes has been noticed everywhere from the Worcester Community Action Council to Home Depot. Mark Sanborn, WCAC director of energy resources, said that more people are applying earlier for assistance.He said income guidelines need to be adjusted because already 81 of those who applied have incomes exceeding the guidelines-by $2,000 in the case of one 81-year-old couple.A Home Depot official testified that there was a run on energy-conserving goods last March that normally the chain does not see until September.The National Energy Assistance Directors Association estimates that more than 15.6 million households could face utility shutoffs because they cannot pay their energy bills, according to U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern. Joseph C. O’Brien, the congressman’s district director, said that the Worcester Democrat and more than 50 other members of a coalition of Northeastern and Midwestern congressmen urged the House leadership to add $3.12 billion to restore LIHEAP funding to its authorized level.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan raised the specter of people who can’t afford oil relying on dangerous alternative means of heating their homes. He said there have been 14,000 fires resulting in 15 deaths from the use of alternative heating methods – primarily electric space heaters – over the past five years.Testimony before the task force touched on everything from authorization for research in Worcester for hydrogen fuel cells to the need for needy people to be provided with warm clothing. The latter concern was raised by Dawn E. Clark of the Center for Living and Working, who said, “I worry about being cold.”She noted that people of limited mobility, because of disabilities, face special risks of dealing with cold weather.George Gantz, an official of Unitil Corp., which supplies electricity and gas to Northern Worcester County, said the company’s customers, who have the lowest median income of any utility’s in the state, have done a good job of reducing their fuel use – because they have to.But it could be cold comfort to them, because Unitil has filed for a 30 percent rate increase.

Cindy Shea, founder of Hearts for Heat, a charity that provides fuel to people whose budgets have run short, said the organization has made 150 deliveries in its three years. Her chapter of the organization concentrates on Princeton – not in the same category as Unitil’s customer base.

ART: PHOTOSCUTLINE: (1) Cindy Shea of Princeton, founder of “Hearts for Heat,” voices her opinion last night to members of the Winter Energy Costs Task Force panel of Massachusetts at Quinsigamond Community College. (2) From left, Ian Bowles, secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs, Bill White, EEA director of Federal Relations, and Ann Berwick, EEA undersecretary of Energy, listen to recommendations on winter energy issuesPHOTOG: T&G Staff/STEVE LANAVA

covenants

At Fellowship church, each small group will create its own expression of comitment and devotion to themselves, each other, the church (and most importantly) God.   The categories that they will explore are the values that we place at the heart of our small groups: Authenticity, Transformation, Outward Reaching, and Multiplication.

To this end, this document expresses parameters within which we expect the groups to operate.  While we clearly don’t want a cookie cutter approach, we also want to have some level of uniformity.  If people wanted to get together every week and do nothing but read scripture, that would be an awesome thing to do.  However, it wouldn’t be a small group.  On the other hand, if a group hung out at a bar weekly to play poker, this wouldn’t be a small group either.  (Again, it’s not that I have anything against drinking or poker in moderation.)

With no further ado, here is the framework for Fellowship Church’s flexible covenants.

 

Value:Authenticity:

 Definition:We are engaged in transparent, supportive, and loving relationships with other members of the group and the church.  Our interactions during group meetings will be confidential.

Question to be answered on the covenant: What should we commit to in order to grow these relationships?

Specific areas that the covenant might express this value:

A) Regular attendance  (examples: we commit to X% attendance; we commit to doing Y whenever we don’t attend)

B) Respectful actions (example: we will give others our full attention during the study time; we will refrain from drinking or watching ‘R’ rated movies as a group because these might be a stumbling block to others…)

C) Accountabality  (example: we invite others into our lives and will intervene in others lives in such-and-such a manner if we see…)

 

Value:Transformation:

 Definition: We are commited to seeking out Christ and conforming ourselves to His image. 

Question: What should we commit to in order to maximize our growth in Christ?

A) Regular prayer for each other.  (examples: we will pray for each other X times per week.)

B) Submission to the needs of the group.  (We will prioritize needs of individuals or activites of the group in such-and-such a way.)

C) Learning and Application of Biblical principles. (examples: we will comitt to __ hours per week of prayer, study, homework, etc. on a regular/semiregular/occasional basis.)

 

Value:Outward Reaching:

Definition:We will work to bring about the Kingdom of God.

Question: What should we do?  How much should we do it?

A) Social justice (Example: Over the course of the small group we will engage in projects to benefit cause X; we will purchase/not purchase product Y;  We will pray for…)

B) Evangelism (Example:  we will aim to invite X# of people to church/small group; we will seek opportunities to witness to those around us with words and actions; we will be particularly focused on the environments of work/neighborhoods/schools…)

C) Formal service projects  (Example: we will commit to ___ # of service projects; we will commit to ___ hours on service projects…)

D) Informal, spontaneous help

 

Value: Multiplication

Definition: We are committed to growing small groups through out New England.

Question: What steps can we take toward multiplying?

A) Shared leadership to develop gifts (We will each/many of us will lead a discussion, plan a service project, take on individualized tasks for the life of the group.

B) Apprentice others in things we do within the group (Person A will develop the gift/talent/knowledge about ___ to ____ people.)

C) Seek out to be apprenticed by someone else.  (___# of people will develop the gift/talent/knowledge of ______ )

D) Participate in multiplying groups.  (Specific timeline: by Jan. X will have occurred; by April Y will have occurred, etc.)

 

 

Discussion Questions from the Sermon, September 21

The Big Picture
We are currently going through a series on Paul.  This week, we focused on Jesus’ confrontation with Paul.  Marty shared the idea that when God confronts us we have a choice: we can run away from God, we can run over God, or we can respond to what God says.

 

Questions from this week’s sermon

1.  How do you respond to confrontations with other people?  Does this impact the ways you respond to God when he confronts you?

 

2.  Describe some times that God has confronted you or some one you know.

 

3.  Why is so tempting to “run over God”; to focus the attention on ourselves and our actions rather than God?

 

4.  Why is to so tempting to run away from God? 

 

5.  Which tends to be a bigger temptation for you: Running away from God or running over God?

 

Read Acts, 9:1-9

 

6.  God speaks to us in many different ways.  What are some ways that He has spoken to you?  What has he said?  Are there any ways that God has spoken to others, that he doesn’t seem to speak to you through?  Why do you think that is?

 

7.  Marty challenged us in his sermon to slow down and try to discern what God might be saying to us.  Have you done this?  Why or why not?  Overall, what do you think God is saying to you, right now?

 

8.  Marty also observed that sometimes God speaks through the people around us.   Is God speaking to you about anyone in the group?  (Obviously, some discernment and tact ought to be used here.  If a small group discussion isn’t the best place to share what God has placed on your heart, please find a different venue to share with the person)

 

A possible extension

Sometimes God speaks to us in silences.  Many of us fill up our lives with noises and activities for this very reason.  Spend some time in silence as a group.  Perhaps instead of praying “out loud” tonight, you’ll spend some time in prayerful silence.  I’d encourage you to push the envelope a little bit, spend a little more quiet time than people feeel comfortable with.  It can be really powerful to do this and spend some time sharing what God put on your hearts afterwords.

Discussion Questions, from the August 17 sermon

We’ve recently made the decision to centralize and unify the discussion time for our small groups.  What this means, without the three-sylabble words, is that we’re providing discussion questions.  Most are drawn from the sermon, though a few will be offered related to the stuff the kids’ are discussing. 

I’d be really interested to hear folks’ answers to these questions.  So I’m posting them partially to make them easily accesible to the small groups, partially because they might be relevant to those who haven’t taken the plunge into a small group but who listened to the sermon, and also because it’d be cool if folks replied here to the questions.  It’d be cool to start a discussion here, a virtual small group meeting in cyber space.

At anyrate, here are the questions:

 

Background Information:
This week Marty will begin a series of sermons on the proverbs.  The over all idea is that wisdom is not something that just happens to us.  Throught out the series, we’ll be referring to the idea that we should “Understand why, submit, and apply” in order to get the best out of life.
We’ll also be working with a metaphor, through out the series, that attaining wisdom is a bit like being in a shop.  This week, we focused on the idea that though a clerk might say “Can I help you” sometimes people don’t mean what they say and say what they mean.  Sometimes, people can lead us away from wisdom.
 
Questions & Activities for the sermon on Sunday August 10:

As a group, read the entirety of Proverbs, Chapter 1.


1.  What are some enticing sinners that you watch people struggle with: people, characertistics, or personality traits that lead to no good?
 
2.  Would anyone like to share some booby traps they’ve placed in their own lives?  Are there any that haven’t gone off yet that you fear some day will?
 
3.  What are some ways that we can find out if we are on a trail that leads away from wisdom.
 
4.  Jesus calls us to befriend the lost.  How do we balance this with Solomon’s counsel around not following the lost into pits of death?
5.  What is your biggest fear about where your life might end up?  What is your biggest hope?

 

As a group, read Psalm 23.

6.  How easy is it for you to accept the things we hear about God in in Psalm 23?
 
Big picture activity for the sermon series:
6.  One way of expressing how to approach wisdom is to “Understand why, submit, and apply”  If you begin this activity last weekl locate the things people wrote down.  If you did not, you might wish to both last week’s and this week’s activity tonight.   Last week’s activity: Take a couple minutes to write down some truth that you’ve recently come to understand.  Where is an area that you have recently come to “understand why” in?  

This week, discuss the consequences of not understanding this truth.  In what ways do you set a booby trap for yourself by not knowing this truth? 
 
Some things to think about for next week:
7.  Who have been some influential people in your life?  What is the importance of other people in helping us find wisdom?
 
A few possible extensions from this weeks sermon:
A.  Discuss whether or not members of your group have been reading a proverb each day.  Are there any truths that stick out in members’ minds?  Any thing that they’ve been wrestling with, or anything that seems especially important?  If people think it’s a good idea to do this but simply haven’t (perhaps they have forfotten or been to busy) can you think of any ways that the group can help encourage each other to continue the readings?
 
B.  Do you know of anyone who is following “enticing sinners” down a destructive path?  Is there any way that your group might come together to help this person?

Connections to the kids’ classes

If you have many parents of kids in the older Sunday School class, it might be worthwhile to consider this question.  In the future, I will also try to feature connections to the issues being discussed in the younger kids’ class.

 

1.  The kids’ question on the refridgerator door card is “What are 3 things you can do tomorrow to honor Jesus with everything you’ve got”?  How would, you as adults, answer this question?  If your kids have trouble with coming up with an answer to this question on their own, what is a way you can help them answer it without “feeding” them the answer?  The day after you discuss the question, What are some non-judgemental ways you can follow up with kids and see if they actually did the 3 things they mentioned? 

 

2.  The parents Question is “Can actions, words, possessions, or skills really be used to honor Jesus?  How?”  How would you answer this question?  Is the opposite true: can actions, words, possessions and skills be used to dishonor Jesus?  Is there any connection between your answer to this question and the topic discussed in the sermon?

Starting August 10th @ the FC

treasure photo copy by you.
Beginning August 10th, we’ll be starting a new series called “Treasures”, a metaphor for wisdom in Scripture.  As a church we’ll look through the Biblical book of Proverbs to uncover some of the “treasures” God has for us as we walk through life together.

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