by Ben Panter
This spring we hosted our first Generosity Principles class, a 4-week book and video study from Andy Stanley’s book, How to Be Rich. That name may make you do a double take, but it makes sense from the primary passage of the study, 1 Timothy 6:17-19:
To give you a quick summary of the big idea, it’s Andy Stanley’s premise that this passage applies to pretty much all of us in our North American context. But the fact that most of us (including myself) tend to read “those who are rich” and then skip on down the page because that clearly doesn’t apply to us, means that even though we are rich (check the stats), we don’t feel rich. And since we don’t feel rich, then we often aren't good at being rich. And Andy clearly doesn’t mean “be rich” as in, drive fancy expensive cars, take luxurious vacations, etc. “Be Rich” simply means living according to God’s specific commands for the wealthy. And also, this is not just about giving more money to the church. Certainly tithing is a part of spiritual growth and obedience (and the book covers that), but the focus of this book is a much broader focus on a lifestyle of generosity, and how God’s commands on generosity to us are centered in making sure our hearts do not enshrine our finances. The book is very inspiring, and it’s hard to imagine anyone reading it and not coming away without a bigger picture of God and His purposes for His money through each of us.
Ok, obviously there’s a lot more in there than that, and I would highly recommend the book, but that’s not what this post is all about. Really I just wanted to share some of the challenging thoughts and fun we had in the group of about 10 households that went through the class.
by Joanne Sharp
Here's what happened at the Women's Retreat
A few weeks ago, two hundred and forty women gathered at Fellowship to retreat. We gathered to connect. We gathered to grow. We gathered to laugh and cry. We gathered well, to gather! Women long for connection, conversation and time to process things together. Our annual retreat is an awesome opportunity way for women to do just that. The last few years we’ve purposely chosen to host this event at FCC because it allows the affordability and flexibility we desire. Each year, we are amazed at how God grows and uses this event. We have seen Him connect women in a deep and meaningful way, learn about His character, His word and ultimately grow closer to Him. We are incredibly grateful to watch as he unfolds His plan each and every year.
For this reason, we felt led to create opportunity for women to chat more often. To connect on a deeper level and really get to know each other. We stumbled upon an activity called the IF: Table. It is simple in its design and yet very effective in connecting women. The concept is based of Acts 2:46 “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” The design is to have a table of six women, answer four questions over a two-hour period. Ideally, these same women would meet each month and grow together. They would also share a meal together, take time listening to each other’s answers without interruption. That simple.
What we're learning in Fellowship KIDS
I love watching children learn. Just look at their faces when they are focused, concentrating on something. Hoping to understand. Wanting to understand. Faces scrunched up tight. Eyes glued to what they are doing. Brows furrowed. You can see the stretching and leaning and yearning. What if we all assumed that posture when we are offered the opportunity to learn about God? Could we possibly be as little children, stretching, leaning into, and yearning for truth, for life, for Christ Himself?
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” And they came. Freely and with intense excitement, desiring to sit on his lap. They came. Mary also came to Jesus that way. Sitting at His feet, she learned from the Savior. She desired to spend quality time with Him, even to the point of making her sister mad that she was not contributing to the household chores. Jesus said that if we come to Him as little children, in this same way, with this same desire to spend time with Him, we, too, would meet Him. We too, could learn of Him and His kingdom.
What would we learn?
A conversation-based series for women
As women, our metaphorical tents are pretty full.
We often care for the many people and play several roles in life. We are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and neighbors. Women balance many tasks and relationships throughout a given day. For this reason, it is important for us to stop, reflect and spend time with the Lord as well as other Christians to renew our spirit and minds. This renewal fuels and reignites us to continue you running the race that the Lord has set before us. “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31. We need to be filled with the word, which gives us strength and be reminded that we are not alone. Generally speaking, women also seem to have an innate need for conversation. We tend to process more fully when we have had a chance to talk about it.
In women’s ministry, we have felt the need to create an opportunity for women to gather and grow together while providing ample time to connect. We believe the Propel Women program provides an environment in which women can focus on a theme based in scripture, connect with other each and be encouraged in their walk. This fall we have focused on Isaiah 54:2 with the theme of growth. By pulling key words from the verse itself, we have been able to have deep, meaningful conversations. We first began with the word enlarge. As Christians we are called to enlarge our tents. To make room for God and others. This takes time, intentional discipline and sometimes the willingness to be uncomfortable. Many women expressed that it can be difficult to fit God and others into their day. We challenged each other to create elbow room in our lives for God and to allow the spirit to move. If we are tightly wound and lack extra space and time, we end up boxing God out of our daily life.