There seems to be a common theme in my blogs today. God is at work in our family and has given us some neat tools to help us grow. Before I tell you about the next tools that I am pretty excited about I need to give you a little bit of history.
When we moved in Syracuse in June of '09 we started going to West Genessee Hills Baptist Church. We visited a couple of other churches along the way but we drifted back there largely because of the "somebody knows my name" factor. It is lonely moving to a new city and we got to know people there and people from that church were a huge blessing to us, especially during out time of homelessness last summer. After we ended up living in the University area we have felt God prodding us to go somewhere closer to home and at the end of July one Sunday we overslept. There was no way that we were going to make it to West Genny on time so we got online quick to see if we could make it to any other church that might start later. After checking and seeing that Missio and Catalyst both started at 10 we decided to check out Catalyst, a church that was on our "churches to check out" list. It met at Nottingham High School, just over a mile from our home and that Sunday it just so happened that they were talking about how their goal for Sept '10 to Aug '11 was to reach out to 13210 with the gospel. 13210 is our zip code and we know that God has us in our neighborhood for a reason. We have found out that Syracuse is #19 on the list of 30 least evangelical US metro areas with only 3.7% being evangelical. Talk about a mission field! We feel that God is asking us to partner with them to reach our neighborhood for this year for the sake of the gospel.
To make things more interesting, Catalyst is going through a season of "incubation" this year and will be having Sunday morning worship at Missio (which meets at the Palace Theater) and God has confirmed over again that He wants us there to reach out to and serve our neighborhood with them. One way that they are going to reach out to the neighborhood is through small groups. Small groups is something that we have SO missed since moving to Syracuse. They were such an important part of our lives in Rochester. I claimed, leaving Rochester, that small groups were one of the things that I was longing for in our new church. There were not small groups at West Genny so we are excited to be a part of them again this coming year.
Alright, I think that is enough history. Today was our first Sunday morning at Missio and I am so super excited to be going to Missio for the next year particularly because of the series that they are on week 5 of. They are taking a journey through the Bible over 44 weeks based on The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. The sub-title of the book is "Every story whispers His name." The children's ministry is focusing on the same Bible passage as the adults are in the auditorium which is something I am very excited about. So often, in the past, through the many churches we have attended, we have asked the kids what the Bible story was about in their classes and there would be 4 different (or 3 or 2 depending on how many different classes they were in at the time) stories told. Getting all the details out would get us home without anytime for talk about life change. How do you address all those Bible passages with each kid individually? I am excited to be exploring the Bible and how each story in the Bible points to Jesus with them. The photo below is the tools that they have given to us, as parents, to help train our kids in God's Word. First, a copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every story whispers his name. I will blog about that more after I have explored it but I love the concept behind it, that the whole Bible is ultimately about Jesus. We were also given a memory verse written in a secret code that we have to figure out as a family and memorize. We were also given a list of 6 questions and a big red dice. The idea behind it is that everyday, during family time, we are each supposed to roll the dice and do whatever it says on the sheet for that number. The 6 for this are:
1. Recite Psalm 16:1, Romans 6:23, Genesis 1:31 or John 5:39.
2. Retell the story you learned.
3. What does this week's story teach you about God?
4. This story is important because....
5. The good, the bad, the ugly: What was your favorite part of the day? What was your least favorite part of the day? What is a situation we should ask God to help us with in the future?
6. Talk about some of the areas where you might be tempted to make a great name for yourself and find your significance.
I am sure that I will blog again in the future to talk about how it goes but I am excited about what God is going to teach us about Himself in the months to come. We aren't the only ones who need this message. Please join us in prayer as we reach out to our neighbors and classmates with this message as well.