Why Short-Term Missions Trips Matter

I went on my first missions trip in 2003. I was 23 years old and was headed to Naples, Italy to help one of our missionary families and their church. My experience in technical theatre and professional audio had uniquely prepared me for accomplishing a complete overhaul of the sound system at the Naples church.

“How to Use the Board” – struggling through Italian (2003)

Two years later and now a newly-wed, my wife and I and one other team member, Andrew, headed to Tokyo, Japan to assist with English classes and essentially close out a 5+ year international focus with a different missionary family and Japanese church planters. Over the course of the partnership two churches were planted and many from Grace Point prayed, supported, and traveled to help and participate with this unique partnership. Many, many Japanese people heard the gospel, in a country where less than 2% are Christian.

Sarah & I teaching English at Tama Church, Japan (2005)

“Short-Term missions changed the direction of my life.” That was what one person recently shared with me. You see, she grew up at GP, and engaging in short-term missions trips helped to firm her faith, steer her towards Christ, and has since developed a heart for reaching more people with the gospel.

As a missions director, I believe that short-term mission trips are a vital part of our missions strategy and can be a huge faith-builder in the life of a believer. The Great Commission wasn’t given to just church leaders and missionaries. It was given to all of us to make disciples of all nations (literally all people groups). Each of us are called to be engaged in missions and the Great Commission in some way.

Yes, we need people to go – people who will be obedient to the call that God has placed on his/her life to either become a missionary or to go on a missions trip. We definitely need “go-ers.” If you feel God might be calling you to go, I would love to hear from you! 🙂

For every “GO-er”, however, we need even more “SEND-ers” – people who are committed to:

  • Pray for missionaries, short-term teams, and missions endeavors
  • Disciple and prepare missionaries and short-term teams to go on the field
  • Support missions financially

We need many more “SEND-ers.” Will you be a SEND-er?

This summer we are sending out three short-term teams from Grace Point. Each trip is strategic in helping to accomplish certain ministry goals and strengthen existing partnerships.

  • Lebanon Team (June) – mentoring and discipling women who live in a nearby worn-torn country and working with our friends in a kinship partnership
  • Bolivia Team (July) – a combined team of 25 people (10 from our sister
    Unidos en Cristo (2011)

    church Restoration Church) heading to Cochabamba, Bolivia to help finish a newly built classroom addition, encourage the local pastors, and to strengthen our relationships with our sponsored kids through Compassion International and our partner church, Unidos en Cristo.

  • Bridesburg, Philly (July) – working alongside long-time partner ReaLife Church our team will be assisting and facilitating a week-long daily Vacation Bible School program for the kids and families of the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia.

My dream and prayer is that Grace Point would continue to be a church with a strong missions focus; not just because of these trips, or by simply supporting 20+ missionaries. But, that our entire church family would be engaged in missions and what God is doing in our community, region, and around the world. (Read Acts 1:8)

I encourage you to join our summer trips prayer teams. You can sign-up here.

We are currently raising financial support for our missions teams. You can give on Sundays in the offering plate (mark your check/envelope as “missions”), using the Giving Kiosk in the foyer (select the Short Term Missions fund), or online at giving.gracepointpa.org (select the Short Term Missions fund).

We have two Missions Team fundraisers coming soon. Learn more on our events page.

Will you join us and what God is doing? I believe that you’ll be glad you did and it may just change your life! I’m hoping it changes mine!

Grace Point’s New Vision Statement

When I was a kid, building with LEGOs was a big part of how I spent my time. My

Source: https://flic.kr/p/CRF2M

brother and I would begin to create an elaborate community with all sorts of intersections, activities, buildings, and little mini-figure people. More often than not, we’d begin with a not-so-well-crafted idea and just see what happened. We’d often have to make changes on-the-go, modify our structures, or deconstruct what we had just spent hours working on.

Why? Because we lacked a clear vision.

A lack of vision didn’t stop us from working. It did, however, prevent us from building something that was long-lasting, effective, and meaningful.

The same is true in ministry.

A lack of vision didn’t stop us from working.

For the last six months, we’ve been praying and working to craft a vision statement that will inspire and lead us into the next three to five years. Our prayer has been to ask the Lord, “What is Your vision for Grace Point?”

Many of you have been praying with us through this process. Thank you!

After conducting a church-wide survey (a summary of results found here), reviewing data regarding our surrounding community, sorting through research on external factors and current trends, and meeting with a number of incredible consultants, our staff and elders have crafted the following vision statement.

Building bridges for life change through Christ
Building bridges for life change through Christ

We want to build and strengthen connections within our church and to our community that move us all towards life change – which can only happen through the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we want to reach our community and make an impact, we need to build a bridge to get there. You may remember a quote from a few months ago, “Love is a bridge over which truth can pass.” If we’re going to share the gospel, we must first build a bridge of love.

As believers of Jesus Christ and as the church, we’re called to participate in the Great Commission. But, that’s not always easy. In fact, we will face many difficulties trying to reach certain people and even certain places – whether that’s because of geographical limitations, pre-conceived perceptions about God and faith, or because of past hurts and wrongs people have experienced. There are some people and places we just cannot reach without a bridge.

At Grace Point, we need to be building bridges for life change through Christ to make an impact in our community.

There are some people and places we just cannot reach without a bridge.

In a few weeks, we will unpack our vision statement on a Sunday morning where a few members of our ministry staff will share how this vision statement has already begun to inspire them in their areas of ministry.

When I consider my LEGO creations as a kid versus what I see “professional LEGO builders” create, I’m left in awe. A clear vision, dedication, and teamwork certainly payoff in the end!

Source: http://www.timeoutshanghai.com/features/Around_Town-Inside_Job/38048/Inside-Job-LEGO-Master-Model-Builder.html

It is our prayer that with this new vision statement, a dedication and commitment to prayer, and teamwork as a staff, leadership team, and together as the entire church of Grace Point, we can accomplish great things for the kingdom and love our community.

And in the end, when we’ve seen what God has done, we will be left in awe!

–Steve Weir for the ReVision Team & The GP Leadership Team

January Business Meeting Recap

Below is a summary and recap of the Semi-Annual Business Meeting, held on Sunday, January 14 after the 10:30am service. The summary is written by Scott Leuz, Elder Vice-Chair.
————————
Hello church family,

We wanted to provide a brief summary of the business meeting held on January 14th for those who were not able to attend. We tried a new more efficient format for the meeting that was held immediately following the second service. We were happy to see strong attendance as about 100 members came.

During the meeting, Dave Wolf was able to provide an update to the ReVision process. A survey was taken during the morning services and the ReVision team will be working with a volunteer consulting group to evaluate the data and continue to seek God’s leading for the future.

If you were not able to participate in the survey on Sunday morning, you may take it online by going to http://gpsurvey.com. Please complete the survey by January 18, 2018.

Holly Ames, Jay Button, Cassandra DeWitt, and Joan Zeberlein were recognized for their years of service on staff.

Greg Shelton provided an update on the Youth Ministry with good attendance and upcoming winter retreats.

Bill Wright reported that the finances are healthy after a strong giving month of December.

We had one item for congregational vote. With an overwhelming majority vote, the congregation approved to ordain Steve Weir pending the approval of an Ordination Council – who will determine/confirm his calling and fitness for Pastoral ministry.

God bless,

Scott Leuz
Elder Vice Chair

Women’s Outreach & Fellowship

At Grace Point we have a stellar group of ladies that work tirelessly to advance the gospel in very tangible ways. Our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship group has been working over the last 12-18 months creating, quilting, collecting and assembling thousands of items that are given out and used by local, regional, and global ministries.

We give God the praise for what He will do through the ministry of our Women’s Outreach & Fellowship!

Here’s a snapshot of their work for 2016 and 2017:

8 meetings & 5 quilting meetings

Total Meeting Hours:

  • 32 Women’s Fellowship
    22 Quilting

Total Items: 6,857 Made or collected

OUTREACH PROJECTS

  • Child Home Community
    • 5 Baby blankets, knitted/crocheted
  • C.E.F.
    • 2000 “wordless” zipper pulls
  • Esperanza Medical Center
    • 460 Christmas – Stars; Happy B-day cupcakes
    • 685 Easter crosses
    • 576 Spanish stickers: Jesus Loves Me
    • 300 English stickers: Smile God Loves You
    • 535 Back-To-School bookmarks – Fruit of the Spirit
    • 62 Children’s books donated to their library
    • 88 Travel hygiene kits assembled
    • 200 Memory Verse Packets (in envelopes)
    • 34 Fall favors: Give Thanks
    • 6 Children’s wooden puzzles
  • Good Shepherd Ministry
    • 50 Cans filled with cookies
    • 100 Candy favors
    • 28 Walker bags
    • 25 Lap Robes
    • 21 Knitted slippers
    • 9 Knitted shoulder wraps
    • 206 Assorted Sunshine Bag items (2 boxes)
    • 166 Christmas cards/envelopes
    • 18 Toys
    • 5 Stuffed Animals
  • Philadelphia Bible Clubs
    • 270 Tree Christmas party favors
    • 43 Jewelry and jewelry boxes
    • 77 Misc. household gifts/ornaments/etc.
    • 31 Baskets filled with travel/cosmetics/gifts
    • 60 Christmas bracelets for mothers
    • 16 Hats/scarves, knitted
    • 13 Towels/sheets/blankets
    • 47 Small toys for prizes
    • 7 Christmas wrapping paper rolls
    • 2 Christmas ribbon
    • 1 Box assorted treats for volunteers
  • Pickering Manor (Bible Study)
    • 10 Fall Favors (Give Thanks)
    • 10 Christmas Favors (Happy B-day Jesus cupcakes)

Grace Point Ministry Projects

  • On Eagles’ Wings
    • 60 Christmas favors (foam nativity)
    • 60 Valentine’s favors (anchor for my soul)
    • 65 Easter favors (crosses)
    • 64 Summer favors (Patriotic)
    • 64 Summer favors (C.O.F.F.E.E. – ladies)
  • Quilting
    • 97 Quilts for kids
    • 2 Flannel quilts for Kyrgyzstan
    • 43 Handmade stuffed animals
    • 6 Knitted/crocheted Preemie Hat & Bootie sets
    • 30 Knitted/crocheted hats
  • Sunday School – Rising 7th Graders
    • 10 Wordless bracelets w/explanation cards
    • 10 Wordless key chains
  • Vacation Bible School
    • 180 Prayer Journals assembled

Missions Sunday – Recap

A few weeks ago, we hosted a special missions-emphasis Sunday at Grace Point. It was awesome! We had 13 of our global partners present who represented a variety of ministries, from ministering to our nation’s military personnel to mobilizing new teachers to serve in schools around the world, from working locally in Lower Bucks County with troubled and at-risk youth to working in the Arabian Peninsula.

The energy on Sunday morning was inspiring! Compassion’s Virtual Reality tour of Haiti was neat. (Not for those who get motion sickness, though!) To see folks chatting and meeting our global partners in the foyer was also a great encouragement, knowing that relationships were being developed or started. Relationships that would lead to prayer support or financial support.

In The Commons we had flags from all over the world – each one representing a country where either used to have or currently have a missionary serving. We also got to hear from a small sampling of our missionaries about a life lesson they’ve learned from working on the mission field. It was encouraging to hear and see that missionaries are normal people, like you and me. And they face some of the same kids of things we do…just in a different country.

Really, that’s why we do missions Sundays. To build relationships, hear how God is at work around the world, and to be reminded that missionaries are just like you and me.

What was your favorite part of our Missions Sunday?

A Great Reminder in the Midst of Seeming Chaos

Unless you live under a rock (not judging you if you do), you’ll know that the news and media outlets are chock-full of headlines regarding growing tensions between North Korea, the United States, and the United Nations.

Regardless of whether or not we believe they should be met with “fire and fury,” I feel we have a responsibility as followers of Jesus. Pray. Do not fear. Trust God.

As you may know, Grace Point is part of Converge, a network of churches working to start and strengthen churches together. Converge’s president, Scott Ridout, recently published a great reminder for us all regarding the current global political scene.

It’s worth the read. Find it here.

Staying Connected During the Summer

Summer is here and vacations are in full swing!

While we and our families are heading to the beach, the boardwalk, and other great destinations, there’s a lot happening at Grace Point this summer. With VBS quickly approaching and Greg Shelton (our new Youth Pastor) and his family soon to arrive, you won’t want to miss a thing!

Here are a few ways that you can stay connected:

  1. Subscribe to our GP News List – This is the primary way that we send out announcements and other key news items. You can sign-up for GP News or any of our other email lists using this form.
  2. Listen Online – Each week (typically on Mondays) we post the messages
    Watching Jesus in His every day life helps us find Him in ours.

    from our Sunday morning services on our website. You can stay current with our current series, Every Day Jesus, and listen while your cycling down the boardwalk, sunbathing, or watching the kiddos in the pool!

  3. Follow us on Facebook – On our Facebook page, we’ll often post updates, events, pictures, and other encouraging posts to help you along the way in becoming more following Jesus.
  4. Follow our Blog – You’re here already! Great!
  5. We’re also on InstagramFollow us on Instagram for updates and pictures of encouragement and events.

Know that our staff are praying for you and your families this summer! Have a great week!

Taking Action – Compassion in India

Dear Grace Point Prayer Partners and Compassion Sponsors,

As you may know, Grace Point has a partner church in Bolivia through Compassion International – a Christ-centered organization that seeks to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Recently, Compassion has been forced to withdrawal all operations from the country of India – affecting over 145,000 children and babies. Below is an update from Jimmy Mellado, President & CEO of Compassion. 

Would you please pray for Compassion and the many children affected by this decision? Would you take action and contact your senators and congressmen to ask for their help with this situation?


From Jimmy Mellado, President & CEO of Compassion International:

For nearly a year, we’ve been sharing updates with our sponsors of Indian children about the severe funding restrictions India’s government has placed on our programs there. Along the way, we have sought every possible remedy with the Indian government, and while we have received significant support from our U.S. government at the highest levels, India has still not lifted their restrictions. Now, despite all these efforts and worldwide prayers to prevent this outcome, our inability to fund our operations is forcing us to suspend our India operations fully starting March 15.

For the sake of the 145,000 babies and children who will suffer as a result, our government is willing to stand with us in voicing our significant concerns over this action, but they need to hear from you, our Compassion sponsors, to do so. That is why we are reaching out to each of our U.S. sponsors to make them aware that Compassion is being forced to close its sponsorship program in India and to request their assistance with a very important ask.

Today, in response to this terrible injustice, will you make a bold statement to your representatives in the U.S. government? Speak up for the children who have no voice. Make a statement about your heart’s desire that these children be loved and served. Let them know that the children in India who live on less than $2.00 per day really matter.

Please take just one minute to write your senators and representatives today. Let them know that people like you who want to help should continue to have the opportunity to support children living in extreme poverty in India. Ask them to show their support of these children by speaking with political representatives in India. We’ve pre-written the letter for you, but you can also add content if you want to share your personal thoughts and feelings about Compassion closing its work in India. It will only take a few clicks to make this very important statement.

While these letters may not prevent the close of our work in India at this time, your action will serve as a seed that God plants to make a significant difference in the future, for Compassion and many other faith-based as well as secular organizations working in India. And who knows how God may use this? This may just be the impetus He uses to soften the hearts of the India government regarding Compassion. Please stand with us and show your elected officials that you care for these children.

Despite this deeply troubling situation, we take to heart Jesus’ message in Matthew 25:40 that “whatever you have done for the least of these you have done for me.” We cannot imagine not being able to serve these vulnerable children in India, especially when the need is so great. Although Compassion’s existing service to more than 145,000 precious Indian babies and children may end, we will continue to work diligently to advocate for the more than 100 million children living in extreme poverty within India.

Thank you in advance for your willingness to partner with us in this important effort for these very vulnerable children in India.

In Christ,

Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado
President and CEO
Compassion International

P.S. Please make an important statement by taking just one minute to write your senators and representatives today to let them know that you want a future hope to support precious children living in extreme poverty in India.

Three New Ways to Give

At Grace Point, our mission, together as a church, is to “help more people become fully committed followers of Jesus Christ.” There are a number of ways that we can partner together to accomplish that mission. It could be serving in a ministry, praying for our missionaries, or giving to support the ministry at Grace Point.

Our General Fund is what we use to pay the electric bill, pay our staff, support our missionaries, and order supplies for our kids and youth ministries. All of these things (and many more) are crucial to helping more people become fully committed followers of Jesus.

Today in the services, we announced three new ways that you can give towards to the General Fund and support the work at Grace Point.

  • Debit Cards – You can now give via our Online Giving site (http://giving.gracepointpa.org) using your Debit Card. You can give a one-time gift or setup a recurring gift using your ACH info (routing & account numbers) or your debit card.
  • Give by Kiosk – On Sunday mornings we will have a special location in the foyer where you can give using your debit card at our new kiosk. In seconds you make a secure gift and print a receipt!
  • Give by Text – For many of us, our smart phones dictate our schedules, our work, and our social lives. You can now give by text! Simply text “gracepoint” to 73256 and you’ll be able make a secure gift. It’s fast and easy to use!

Regardless of how you give at Grace Point, it is an act of worship – prayerfully, giving back to God from what He has given to us.

If you have any questions about the above ways to give, general questions, or how to give via stock donations, contact our church office at 215-968-2354.

Ministry Celebration & Biz Meeting Recap

This past Sunday evening we held our Semi-Annual Ministry Celebration and Business Meeting. We celebrate what God has been doing in the life of our church! It’s always encouraging to hear how God is working in your life and helping you to become more like Jesus.

Here are some of the highlights from Sunday night:

  • Dessert is always a highlight!
  • Three people were recognized for becoming new members to the church: Gene Alligood, Kathryn & Walter Rolle. Kathryn shared briefly about how they came to Grace Point and the impact it has had in their life and their family.
  • Bill Wright, Director of Administration shared a financial update; giving is below budget and expenses. New giving methods (give by text, debit cards, and giving by kiosk) are coming soon. Bill also shared that over $830,000 has been given – across all accounts, including the General Fund.
  • Chuck Arnold, Pastor of Congregational Care, updated us on the Care ministries and the new Marriage, Family, & Relationship ministry that has had a strong start.
  • Dave Wolf, Senior Pastor, shared an update on our Strategic Goals, and how the staff have been working on an updated foal for 2017-18, with three strategies to meet that goal. Stay tuned for more info!
  • We also heard updates from Missions and the Youth Transition Team.
  • Scott Leuz, Elder and Chair of the Youth Director search team, announced that the team has narrowed the search down to three candidates and have handed the process over to the staff. The ministry staff will now review resumes, doctrinal statements, philosophies of ministry and lots of other documents & recordings.
  • Dave Crist and Laura Schlenker were recognized for their service as staff members – each serving over 20 years!
  • Glenn Ely, Elder Chair, reminded us of the new Elder candidate process, and members voted for the two candidates. Dave Kneller and Rich Speeney both received unanimous positive votes. (The Elders will now meet, weigh the vote of the membership, and if they are still in unanimous agreement, Dave & Rich will become elders – starting their terms July 1.)

Thanks to all who came out!