The One Anothers

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Fifty-nine times in the New Testament we see ‘one another’ statements given to followers of Jesus. When compiled together, its overwhelming to see just how integrated and deeply-connected our lives are supposed to be with each other. Two things we can learn as we look at the “one another” commands:

1. The Christian life isn’t meant to be done alone.

These commands imply relationship. This is radically different from the culture of freedom and autonomy that we’re swimming in. Where our culture values a life centered around “me” - the way of Jesus means dying to self to lift others up. Such meaningful, transformative community only happens via commitment. You will never experience the depth of relationship or the transformative power of God’s Spirit-filled community if you choose to be one foot in and one foot out. It means to look at this group and say, “I’m in no matter what. This group and these people are my priority now. Their needs are my needs.”

2. Life in community is messy

Truly meaningful relationships require sacrifice - time, energy, etc. Oftentimes, people can be hard to love and yet Jesus says it’s absolutely worth it. When we push through the hardships and sacrifices that come with knowing others, we reach an end in ourselves and allow the Spirit to use us. When we are willing to step into the messiness that is community, we show just how amazing the way of Jesus is. 

Just envision how beautiful it would be to see a community practicing these commands regularly:

1. “...Be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50)

2. “...Wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:14)

3. “...Love one another...” (John 13:34)

4. “...Love one another...” (John 13:34)

5. “...If you have love for one another...” (John 13:35)

6. “...Love one another...” (John 15:12)

7. “...Love one another” (John 15:17)

8. “Love one another with brotherly affection...” (Romans 12:10)

9. “...Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

10. “Live in harmony with one another...” (Romans 12:16)

11. “...Love each other...” (Romans 13:8)

12. “...Let us not pass judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:13)

13. “Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you...” (Romans 15:7)

14. “...Instruct one another.” (Romans 15:14)

15. “Greet one another with a holy kiss...” (Romans 16:16)

16. “...When you come together to eat, wait for one another.” (1 Corinthians 11:33)

17. “...Have the same care for one another.” (1 Corinthians 12:25)

18. “...Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (1 Corinthians 16:20)

19. “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” (2 Corinthians 13:12)

20. “...Through love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13)

21. “If you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15)

22. “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)

23. “Bear one another’s burdens...” (Galatians 6:2)

24. “...Bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)

25. “Be kind to one another...” (Ephesians 4:32)

26. “...Forgiving one another...” (Ephesians 4:32)

27. “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (Ephesians 5:19)

28. “Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

29. “...In humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)

30. “Do not lie to each other...” (Colossians 3:9)

31. “Bearing with each other...” (Colossians 3:13)

32. “...Forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you...” (Colossians 3:13)

33. “Teaching...[one another]” (Colossians 3:16)

34. “...Admonishing one another...” (Colossians 3:16)

35. “...Abound in love for one another and for all...” (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

36. “...Love one another.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9)

37. “...Encourage one another...” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

38. “...Encourage one another...” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

39. “...Build one another up...” (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

40. “Exhort one another every day...” (Hebrews 3:13)

41. “...Stir up one another toward love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24)

42. “...Encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:25)

43. “...Do not speak evil against one another.” (James 4:11)

44. “Do not grumble against one another...” (James 5:9)

45. “Confess your sins to one another...” (James 5:16)

46. “...Pray for one another.” (James 5:16)

47. “...Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” (1 Peter 1:22)

48. “...Have compassion for one another...” (1 Peter 3:8) “

49. “...Loving one another earnestly...” (1 Peter 4:8)

50. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9)

51. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another...” (1 Peter 4:10)

52. “...Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another...” (1 Peter 5:5)

53. “Greet one another with the kiss of love.” (1 Peter 5:14)

54. “...Love one another.” (1 John 3:11)

55. “...Love one another.” (1 John 3:23)

56. “...Love one another.” (1 John 4:7)

57. “...Love one another.” (1 John 4:11)

58. “...Love one another.” (1 John 4:12)

59. “...Love one another.” (2 John 1:5)


Are you living the Christian life primarily in community? Why or why not?


As you read the “one another” commands, which of these do you need to put into practice this week?

How to Encourage Someone

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“..exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

Hebrews 3:13

Biblical encouragement is a command that we see throughout the bible.  Because of sin, life is hard and we can lose sight of our hope and our calling.  We can be quick to forget the promises of God and Satan is committed to seeing that we do.  We are called to encourage others so that we do not grow ‘hardened by the deceitfulness of sin’.

What does encouragement look like?  

  1.  Its different from a compliment

    It’s is not telling someone they throw a great party or that you love their shirt. Compliments are nice, and you should still do that.  But biblical encouragement is meant to push people into a deeper relationship with Jesus. It is meant to remind us of the gospel and the promises of God.  In the midst of trials, It is meant to bring hope where it has been lost. It reminds us of our worth and identity, and it gives us courage to do the things we are called to do.  It lets us know where our giftedness lies and the ways the Lord specifically wants to use us.

  2. Its specific.   

    Telling a pastor ‘I loved your sermon today’ is great, but to take something specific that was said and to tell them how it was impactful to you is likely more meaningful.  Here are some specific ways that you might encourage a person.

    1. “Here is how God has used you…”

    2. “Here is how I see God at work in you…”

    3. “Here is what God has promised you…”

  3. Its meant to be done daily.   

    We don’t save encouragement for a big moment or wait until something truly remarkable has happened in a person’s life.  Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us we are to encourage daily! When we are in community with others, we get the privilege of seeing growth in one another. We see a person’s strengths and gifts that the Lord is using to build up the body.  We know what it’s like for life’s circumstances to get us down and we know the need to be reminded of the good news. And in all this we have the opportunity to lift up a person in the day to day when we can easily lose sight of what we are called to.   

Pray that God can grow us in the discipline of encouragement and that we would desire to build up those around us.  Pray for specific people to encourage in intentional and specific ways. And then just do it! Trust that since we are commanded to encourage, God can and will grow you in this.  It may feel awkward initially but it will become more natural with practice, and then those around you will be more prepared to go live life for the kingdom because of your encouragement.  

What keeps you from encouraging people regularly?

Who’s someone that you can encourage today?

See also: “A Blueprint for Biblical Encouragement” from our Personal Liturgy series


The 5 Stages of Community (Or, Why the Unicorn Must Die)

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We all come into relationships with expectations and dreams of what it will be. But if we aren’t careful, our ideas about what our community should be can destroy what it actually is.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his book, Life Together, expresses the dangers of such thinking. “Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”

In other words, if you internally look at the community God has given you with judgment, critique, and cynicism, then you've created a fantasy version of community - a unicorn if you will - that's keeping you from loving the people God has placed you around. If we ever want to experience true community then our unicorns must die.

Now it’s not wrong necessarily to have some expectations, but we need to have the right ones grounded in Scripture. A helpful diagnostic tool to uncover your is The Cycle of Community. This tool shows how all communities and relationships go through five different stages. 

Stage 1 - Honeymoon

  • In stage 1, everything is brand new and shiny. You just moved here and all you have in common with these people is Jesus and an address… but it’s something and it’s more than what you had! 

  • People in stage 1 say, “Everything is great! We hung out five times this week! I haven’t been a part of anything like this before!”

Stage 2 - Apathy

  • In stage 2, the honeymoon phase wears off and you begin to realize how normal people are. Things feel routine and less exciting. You start to settle in and get bored.

  • LifeGroup conversations in this stage feel less passionate, “How’s it going?” “Fine.” “I’m struggling with the same old thing but whatever.”

Stage 3 - The Rough Patch

  • Stage 3 can be marked by conflict, frustration, or even fear of frustration. When things normalize with others the real you, with all its issues, starts to come out. Also at this stage people can begin to clash with others over preferences, not necessarily sin issues, but preferences like parenting styles or your season of life.

  • People in stage 3 say things like, “This person always talks about the same stuff over and over again,” or “This person is really annoying,” or “This person is wrong and needs to get confronted.”

Stage 4 - Acceptance

  • Stage 4 is when you realize, for better or worse, that these are the people God has placed around you. You see that everyone is an Image Bearer of God that brings their unique perspective and giftings to help you and others be more like Jesus even with their flaws and annoyances. 

  • People in stage 4 say, “Oh yeah, this person can be annoying and they make everyone feel listened to and valued.” “This person shares the same thing over and over again and they are always willing to help someone in need at a moment's notice.”

Stage 5 - Re-engagement

  • In stage 5, we press back into vulnerability and accountability - not with all the idealism of early on but with genuine love and understanding. This means conflict resolution and hard conversations happen not out of frustration but out of deep love and respect for one another.

In the cycle of community, it’s important to note that this is not a “one and done” journey. Oftentimes this is a cycle that you go through over and over again. 

The truth is most people bail right around stage 3, The Rough Patch. Right when you get to that place of frustration, clashing of preferences, and say things like, “This doesn’t work for my schedule,”  or “So and so is in a different stage of life,” or “This is getting too intimate and I don’t trust these people,” or, “Can you believe they said that” - most people bail. 

Which is right before Jesus actually starts to do the really good stuff in your soul. 

Now we’re not saying when you join a LifeGroup you join for life, but we are saying that generally, the people who stay grow and those that don’t won’t. 

Because here’s the real expectation you should have: practicing biblical community - practicing church family - will be hard. It will not be easy. It will demand things of you. It will infringe upon your time. It will cause you to have conversations you don’t want to. It will challenge your comfort. It will exhaust you. It will feel fruitless at times.

But, it’s worth it. 

  • What stage in the cycle do you view your community?

  • What next steps can you take to pursue health?

This resource is adapted from the sermon, “Jesus’ Call to Community” by Bridgetown Church. You can listen to the sermon here.

Are we Changing our Covenant Practices?

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In our series, In Columbia as it is in Heaven, we want to be compelling people for Jesus - a people who follow his teachings and his practices. And if you’re a Missionary Member of our church, you may have noticed the wording of our covenant practices has changed since the start of the series. So why the change? Why now?

In short, our covenant practices shape us into the type of people we want to become. And when we looked at our original covenant practices, we noticed they didn’t include how they change us. So while our covenant practices are not changing, the recent rewrite provides a snapshot of how they shape us into becoming compelling people for Jesus.

Below you’ll find the updated covenant practices with the older practice below.

Abiding in Jesus connects us to Him as the source of life as He produces fruit in us. Therefore, I commit to the consistent disciplines of meditating on God’s Word and prayer.

Old version: I am committed to abiding with Christ by the consistent disciplines of meditation on God’s Word and prayer. 

Community offers us the invitation and challenge to be more like Jesus as we grow in faith together. Therefore, I commit to actively and intentionally be in a LifeGroup so that I am a part of a community that follows Jesus together.

Old version: I will actively and intentionally work to be deeply connected to others in the Midtown family. I will be part of a LifeGroup to ensure that I have people around me who love Jesus and love me. 

Confession of sin to God and others exposes areas of guilt, shame, and brokenness in our lives. Repentance turns us from sin to Jesus’ love so that we obey Him through the power of the Spirit. Therefore, I commit to confession and repentance, fully expecting and welcoming correction from church family.

Old version: Confession and repentance will noticeably mark my life. I fully expect to be confronted and corrected as God allows other members of the family and my LifeGroup to see sin in my life. 

Mission brings the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth through communities of Jesus-centered followers marked by faith, hope, and love. Therefore, I commit to hospitality and sharing my faith through everything I do by the power of the Spirit.

Old version: I will live on mission with my LifeGroup, seeking to always point to Jesus with my lifestyle, generosity, relationships, and words by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Generosity is giving to God's mission and learning to trust Him more than our wealth. Therefore, I commit to give 10% to the mission of Jesus through Midtown as a starting point for generosity.

Old version: I will practice and grow in generosity by giving financially to the mission of Jesus in Columbia and the world. I commit to giving 10% to the mission of Jesus through Midtown as a starting point for generosity. 

Serving is a way God works through us to love others. Therefore, I commit to using my Spirit-empowered giftedness to serve our church according to my season of life.

Old version: I will eagerly use my giftedness to serve our church according to my season of life.

Our Gatherings on Sunday shape us into a people marked by listening to God’s Word and responding in prayer, worship, generosity, and mission within our Spirit-filled community. Therefore, I commit to prioritizing Sunday Gathering participation.

Old version: I will prioritize regular Sunday Gathering participation as part of my ongoing spiritual formation. 

How to Study the Bible with Others

So much of becoming a compelling person for Jesus happens within the context of community. This means our spiritual disciplines are happening both on our own and with others, including meditating on God’s Word.

The following is a variation of how to study the Bible on your own, (which you can find here) that you can do with a group. Next to each portion, you’ll find a recommended allotment of time. This totals up to one hour.

Read

5 minutes total

As you read through the passage, make a note of anything that pops out to you or raises a question. Try not to get fixated on one phrase or verse, just make a note of it. After reading through the passage once, read through the passage once or twice more, this time thinking about what stands out in this passage and what impression it leaves on you. Reading out loud can be helpful too, as it can help us understand what we’re reading and help us process each verse of the passage.

Reflect

20 minutes total

Now that you’ve read the passage through multiple times, take time to reflect on what you’ve just read, using either a journal or a note-taking app that you can read again in the future. 

Write out the passage in your own words and include any observations you have - 10 minutes

Such questions you can ask are:

  • What does this passage reveal to us about God?

  • What does this passage reveal to us about people?

Write any applications - 10 minutes

Such application questions you can ask are:

  • What’s this passage calling me to do today?

  • What’s this passage calling me to pray for today?

Respond

35 minutes total

After reflecting on the passage, it’s time to respond. Every part of Scripture is inspired by God Himself, and a message so perfect and powerful demands a response from us. 

Share your observations and applications with a group - 10 minutes

Now spend some time in prayer with one another, praying for your application - 10 minutes

Spend some time praying for one another, asking where you need God’s help - 7 minutes

Spend some time praying for people you’re building with or who need God’s help - 8 minutes


3 Ways to be on Mission at the Gathering

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We are called to live out the beautiful picture of living on mission with God. He designed us to find joy and contentment as we sacrifice to put others first. We envision a community built on lovingly using your spiritual gifts to engage with others on Sunday. Here are three ways you can be missional at the Gathering:

1. Place Missional Margin on your time 

Look around the Gathering next Sunday. How many people have you not seen before? It is always someone’s first time and new guests tend to arrive early. So when they do, we want to warmly welcome them in. So consider placing “missional margin” around your time by showing up 10-15 minutes early to the Gathering and staying 10-15 minutes after to engage with new guests. 

2. Pass the Peace

While this might be challenging for you, Pass the Peace can be crucial to a first-time guest at the Gathering. It is an opportunity to help new folks feel invited, expected, and welcomed into our family. My first time at Midtown, I was invited to a cookout that day by some people I had never met who are now friends. I felt cared for and sought out because these people opened up their lives and home to make a difference in a new person’s life. 

Here are some questions you can have ready so you aren’t caught off guard when you Pass the Peace:

“How long have you been coming to Midtown?”

If they are new, ask them if they know anyone who attends or if they’re in a LifeGroup.

“Do you know many people here already?”

If they don’t, invite them out to lunch and/or get their phone number!

“What brought you to Columbia?”

A lot of first-time guests are also new to our city. If so, ask what brought them Columbia and what they think about the city so far.

“Are you involved in a LifeGroup?”

If they aren’t, see if they are a good fit for yours or someone else’s you know. Help them get connected! 

“What are you doing after the Gathering today?”

Inviting first-time guests into your Sunday plans can make a huge impact on them. If they’ve already got plans, grab their number and invite them to hang out sometime.

3. Serve

Jesus makes it clear that following Him means we serve others (Mark 10:45, Philippians 2:1-10). And serving becomes another avenue to be missional - whether it’s welcoming first-time guests on Parking Team or Host Team, helping with technical logistics on Production Team, or greeting families and teaching kids at Kidtown.

To sign up to serve or learn more, visit the link that corresponds to the church you attend below:

Midtown - Downtown

Midtown - Two Notch

Midtown - Lexington

  • What keeps you from being on mission at a Gathering?

  • What next steps can you take to be on mission at a Gathering?

Midtown Glossary

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Whenever you step into a new organization, workplace, or culture, there will be words and phrases thrown around that are unfamiliar to you. The same goes for our church. To help you, we compiled a list of frequently used terms. With each term you’ll find a simplified definition, some biblical context for each, and an explanation of why we use the language we do.

 

Building With

In regards to living on mission, as a LifeGroup we always want to initiate (or “build”) relationships with people in our lives who aren’t part of a church family. You can do this by inviting a coworker to a Sunday Gathering, giving some practical help to a neighbor who has a need, or planning a LifeGroup rhythm to get a friend around church family.

See also: Rhythms

Every Group Around the Pool

This is an initiative to encourage our LifeGroups to build with unbelievers around them, with the hope of seeing them come to faith in Christ and be baptized. Everything we do should be done with the purpose of showing Jesus to others around us. A natural result of doing that is welcoming new believers into our church family. 

Click here to listen to a sermon where we explain this goal in greater detail.

Family of Churches

Midtown Fellowship began in 2007 as one church in downtown Columbia. Since then we’ve planted churches in the Two Notch area and in Lexington. While each church has its own “personality,” and operates separately from the others, we all share the same vision of being a “Jesus-centered Family on Mission.”

Click here to read more about how and why we operate this way.

Gatherings

Every Sunday, our church family comes together to worship and hear teaching from God’s Word. Rather than “going to church,” we are gathering as the church. While there are many ways we do life as church family throughout the week, God calls us in Hebrews 10:24-25 to gather together on a regular basis. Click one of the links below to find out when and where you can come to a Gathering or to listen to any of our sermons if you’ve missed a week.

midtowndowntown.com/gatherings

midtownlexington.com/gatherings

midtowntwonotch.com/gatherings

Related term: LifeGroups, Family of Churches

Gospel Up

In LifeGroups we regularly confess sin as the Bible calls us to (James 5:16, 1 John 1:9), but we don’t just leave it there. We also want to remind ourselves of the power, forgiveness, and victory we have in Jesus to heal us in our sin and brokenness and how we can fight sin together. In confessing we want to offer the good news of the Gospel before we offer good advice. Good advice only says, “Have you tried doing this or stopping that?” Good news followed by good advice says, “Jesus loves you and has forgiven your sin, now what does repentance/fighting this sin look like?”

Related term: Idols

Related resource: Verses for Gospel Fluency

Idols

In LifeGroups we practice confessing sin to one another as prescribed in James 5:16 and 1 John 1:5-10. When we talk about “deep idols,” we are referring to the underlying sin beneath our external sinful actions. Those underlying deep idols can include a desire for power, control, approval, or comfort. For example, a burst of anger is the external sin, whereas the deep idol at work underneath was a desire for power. When we confess both the external sin and the deep idol at work, we see ourselves more clearly and allow for deeper healing to take place.

Related term: Gospel Up

Related resource: Idols Chart

LifeGroups

We believe church is a terrible hobby, but a great family. In Acts 2:42-47, we see examples of how the early church shared life together. We don’t want to think of church as one more routine thing we do every week; we want to be part of each other’s lives outside the walls of our building.

LifeGroups are the primary way we live as a community. Groups meet once a week in members’ homes to catch up on life, discuss the sermon, confess sin, and encourage and pray with one another. This is much more than just a weekly Bible study. Our goal is for LifeGroups to be small families within our larger church family who are living on mission together! Click the link below to sign up to join a group within your church family.

Downtown

Lexington

Two Notch

Related term: Rhythms

LifeGroup Covenant

Each LifeGroup is unique in who they want to reach with the gospel and how they aim to do that. Together LifeGroups write up a statement of what they’re wanting to accomplish so that they can be united in being on mission.

Related resource: What is a Covenant?

 

Milestones

Parenting is hard, and we want to help! Milestones is our 18-year discipleship program through which we offer biblical wisdom and practical advice to equip parents to walk their children through every stage of growing up.

Click here to learn more about each of the Milestones stages and transitions, and get resources for wherever your family is at in life.

Mission

Every Christian is a missionary. Life is no longer about us. It’s about experiencing the good life Jesus has for us and ultimately inviting others in on it. So we equip one another, we give financially to this end, and we orient our time so that friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers can hear the good news of Jesus and experience it in Jesus-centered community.

Related term: Every Group Around the Pool, Building With

Recovery

This ministry is for anyone who is going through anything that feels unbeatable. Whether someone is struggling with an addiction, going through a season of grief, suffering from depression or anxiety, or anything else that’s keeping one from finding hope, there is freedom and healing in Jesus. God calls us to confess our sins to one another (James 5:16) and to bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Recovery is a powerful way we are able to walk with church family through the most difficult parts of life.

Click here to learn more and see upcoming dates.

 

Residency

This is a leadership development program designed for anyone who wants to spend a year growing spiritually and professionally. Residents lead in the church in various capacities and work alongside our full-time staff to develop skills that will allow them both to excel in any ministry or career path while living on mission wherever God leads them. 

Click here to find out more or to apply.

Related resource: Midtown Residency: Savannah’s Story

Rhythms

Outside of your regular meeting, we encourage LifeGroups to have a less structured time that can be more natural to invite friends into. This could be anything from a monthly game night to lunch after Sunday gatherings to playing in a softball league together.

Related resource: How to Choose a Mission & Rhythms

Serve the City

Because Jesus calls us to be on mission wherever we are, we partner with several organizations around Columbia who are doing great work in the community. Every Lifegroup is encouraged to serve throughout the year with one of these partners. Click here to learn more about each of them and how you can get involved in serving.


Why We Sing at Gatherings

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During Gatherings, we devote a lot of time to singing together and worshipping God. Have you ever wondered why we invest so much time this way? Why spend a large portion of our time singing songs? The answer to this question can be found by looking at who God is. Once we understand who He is, we can understand why worshipping Him every week as a family is so vital.

1. Worship as rebellion

When we sing together, we are intentionally reminding ourselves of truths that say, “Jesus is King; all these other things in my life are not. My career, my family, my wallet, my sex life, and my passions can’t compare to who Jesus is.” The world constantly barrages us with what we should worship through music, TV, movies, and social media. But worship is a defiant act of rebellion against those forces. That’s why we sing these songs. Because we all are tempted to worship anything that is not God, we need reminders constantly. So every Sunday, we worship to remind ourselves that He alone is worthy of our worship. He alone is worthy of our praise. He alone is worthy of our adoration. He alone is worthy of our worship.

2. Worship as reorienting

Although we might intellectually know these truths about God, we don’t always feel that way. Our devotion often wavers based on our circumstances or emotions. Worshipping God through song is one way we fight back against our unbelief and reorient ourselves back to Him. When we sing we are saying, “My feelings may not be all there and I’m having a hard time singing this song but I don’t care. Jesus is Lord no matter how I feel.” This was the Psalmist plea in Psalms 42-43. He both acknowledges how he feels and then reorients himself back to God, “Why are you so downcast O my soul? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.”

3. Worship as a reminder to others

Here’s part of what makes corporate singing set apart from just singing in your car: people need to hear you sing. They need to know Jesus is King over their feelings and their passions too. When you sing at the Gathering, even if it’s wildly out of tune, you’re telling others, “Join me in this.” It’s a way of encouraging others and being missional by inviting others into the goodness of God every time you sing. That’s why the Psalmist can say in Psalm 34:3, “Oh magnify the LORD with me, let us exalt his name together!”

So next time you walk into a Gathering, focus on the words we’re singing. These words are meant to remind you how great your Savior is; so invite and expect the Spirit to change your heart and the people around you. 

  • What keeps you from worshipping whole-heartedly during a Gathering?

  • How can you ready your heart for worship the next time you attend a Gathering?

This article is based on the sermon “He is Worthy Part I” by Tim Olson on June 23, 2019.


The Most Important Attribute of God

The following is from the sermon, He is Worthy Part 2.

Isaiah 6:1-3

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

In the Old Testament, the dominant way the authors emphasized something was through repetition, it was their way of saying,  “This is what's most important.” Repetition also served as a way of taking things to the superlative degree, (i.e. “This is better. This is the best.”) Repeating a word or phrase three times demonstrated it was the highest it could be.

God’s Holiness Defines Himself

In Isaiah 6 the seraphim are saying God is holy, holy, holy - in other words, He is the absolutely holiest. He’s categorically set apart from anything else. He stands alone, He stands above. If you look throughout Scripture, the holiness of God is the only attribute ever used three times in succession.

We never read God is love, love, love or grace, grace, grace or compassion, compassion, compassion.

God’s Holiness Defines Everything Else

Now is He love? Yes, absolutely. (1 John 4:16) But God's holiness is what defines His love. It's the basis on which His love stands. God's holiness defines all of His other attributes.

So God is love, but He's better than that. He is Holy, holy, holy love. His love is other. It's better. It's set apart. It's distinct. It's unique. It's more than we could ever imagine. That means that He is the author of true love. He's the one who defines love. 

This means God is not like you. The Bible tells us that humanity is created in God's image so we uniquely reflect God in ways that other creatures or creation doesn't. That's a unique part of being human but if we're not careful, we can begin to believe the lie that just because we are like God, that means God is like us, but He's not.

God’s Holiness Sets Him Apart from You

You are like God, but God is not like you. He doesn't think like you do. He doesn't dwell and exists in the world like you do. He doesn't reason like you do. He exists alone, separate, and apart. That's the God we worship. And He is worthy.

10 Steps to Handle Conflict Better and Avoid Drama

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Two thousand years ago in Corinth, Christians in the church were struggling to manage their relationships well. They were letting their conflicts divide them rather than unite them, and they needed some instruction on how to manage their relational conflicts well. Today, we face many of the same challenges within our relationships, and if we don’t equip ourselves to handle conflict well, we will allow our relationships to suffer and our church family won’t be much of a family at all. Thankfully, God offers us hope in I Corinthians 6, where He instructs the Corinthian church in how to manage their relational conflict well. Because we know that God wants us to experience deep, rich relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we can glorify Him as we learn from His Word and apply it to our lives.

So, here’s ten steps for handling conflict well:

1 - See it coming. Having the right expectations will lessen your frustrations.

2 - Commit to forbearance. Understand that some sins can be forgiven without confrontation.

3 - Give the benefit of the doubt. Assuming others’ motives can increase your resentment.

4 - Go to the person. A hard conversation today can prevent an outburst tomorrow.

5 - Invite and welcome correction. Trust that others might have a better perspective than you.

6 - Do not cover disobedience with alternate language. Using modern counseling lingo to avoid repenting will only delay reconciliation.

7 - Avoid gossip and slander. “Venting” won’t benefit yourself, but processing the situation with a trusted friend will.

8 - Pour out your heart to God. God is our refuge, so pour out your heart in prayer.

9 - Forgive. Refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

10 - Keep forgiving. Let’s follow Jesus’ example and forgive each other no matter how many times we sin against each other.


Although God has reconciled us to Him and each other in so many ways, we still sin against Him and each other, so we’ll have to learn to confront and forgive each other in order to be a Jesus-centered family on mission. Our culture teaches us that conflict is unnatural and that you should disconnect from relationships when they’re hard, but we know that this idea places an unrealistic and unhealthy expectation of relationships. As we grow together as a family, conflicts are inevitable, but our conflicts can bring us closer together if we commit to working through our frustrations when they arise. Conflict is a part of being a family, and if we forgive each other and reconcile with each other as God intended for us to do, we can experience deeper relationships, less drama, and more joy as we pursue God together.

  • If you’re in conflict with anyone, what next steps do you need to take?

  • What’s keeping you from reconciling immediately?

This article is based on the sermon “Death by Drama” by Adam Gibson from October 7, 2018.


How to Study the Bible

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As God’s people, we want to be guided by His Word and empowered by His Spirit to be a Jesus-centered family on mission.

As you prepare to study God’s Word, take a moment to stop, take a deep breath, and ask God to speak to you through His Word. This little moment of preparation reminds us that reading the Bible is a sacred act in which we invite God to speak to us.

1. Read

Then, as you read through the passage, make a note of anything that pops out to you or raises a question in you. Try not to get fixated on one phrase or verse, just make a note of it. After reading through the passage once, read through the passage once or twice more, this time thinking about what stands out in this passage and what impression it leaves on you. Reading out loud can be helpful too, as it can help us understand what we’re reading and help us process each verse of the passage.

2. Reflect

Now that you’ve read the passage through multiple times, take time to reflect on what you’ve just read, using either a journal or a note-taking app that you can read again in the future. As you reflect on the passage, try thinking through these two questions:

  • What does this passage reveal to us about God?

  • What does this passage reveal to us about people?

 3. Respond

After reflecting on the passage, it’s time to respond. Every part of Scripture is inspired by God Himself, and a message so perfect and powerful demands a response from us. So, in light of the truth you’ve just read, consider these two questions: 

  • What’s this passage calling me to do today?

  • What’s this passage calling me to pray for today?

We don’t expect that our lives will be radically changed every time we read our Bible. But we do know that we are becoming a more faithful people every time we open our Bibles. This is a discipline which will slowly transform us as we consistently study God’s Word. If we dig deeper in our reflections by applying God’s Word in specific ways, we can respond through repentance and live differently today. Even when we have more questions than answers, try asking your brothers and sisters in Christ what they think, and seek answers in other passages of the Bible. Although we don’t have all the answers yet, we believe that God provides truthful teaching and guidance for us through His Word, and we know that He will work miracles in us and through us as we continue to abide in His Word.

On Miraculous Gifts

In our sermon from last Sunday we described two theological camps on prophecy, tongues and other miraculous gifts. These camps, called cessationism and continuationism, are both filled with faithful, Spirit-filled Christians who back up their positions with Scripture. Because we have unity in Jesus, no matter where you land on the topic, we have plenty of room for disagreement and friendly debate without causing division