Middle East FOCUS Team Update

By Denise Nichols, Middle East FOCUS Team Leader

It seems like little has gone according to plan in 2020…at least in our minds. That certainly has been true for Grace Point’s Middle East FOCUS (our 3 to 5-year mission partnership) as well. But we have an amazing God and nothing, not even a pandemic, can thwart His plans! It is such a comfort to know that God is always in control!

A few members of the FOCUS Implementation Team were scheduled to travel to Lebanon this spring for a ministry development trip. The purpose of this trip was to explore the various ministry opportunities that might be a good fit for Grace Point and to identify one or more opportunities for our first Lebanon mission trip this summer.  We also were planning on in-depth meetings with Amchit Baptist Church, our potential church partner, to determine how we could come alongside each other in ministry and, hopefully, solidify an official partnership. We were disappointed and, quite honestly, rather discouraged that the COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented us from going on either of these trips.

God had other plans. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We knew that we could trust in God’s perfect plan, not letting discouragement win. We knew that we needed to keep the FOCUS moving forward even though it was going to look very different than we had anticipated.     

The FOCUS Implementation Team has continued to meet regularly. Relying on God’s leading and direction, we began to explore some important questions. What does an effective Lebanon mission initiative look like when we can’t travel? How do we engage the congregation? How do we stay excited ourselves, not losing our momentum?

In June we held a Taste of Lebanon drive-thru event as a way to introduce Lebanese culture and delicious Lebanese food. A total of 152 meals were ordered from King of Falafel in Newtown, and $3,000 was raised for the ministry at Amchit Baptist Church. The event was quite a success and received very positive feedback. Be on the lookout for our next event! 

In July we held our first joint prayer meeting over Zoom with a few members of our team, Dave Wolf and leaders of Amchit Baptist. It was a sweet and powerful time of unity which strengthened the connection between our two churches. We have also been able to deepen our relationship with Amchit through regular communication, sharing prayer requests and becoming more invested in each other’s lives. We were very encouraged to know that they have been attending our online Sunday morning services! That would have been something we never would have imagined, but it has been an exciting part of God’s plan. 

A joint prayer time with Amchit Baptist Church.

In August, we established the Lebanon Relief Fund because of the deepening crisis in Lebanon.  Their economy has totally collapsed, prices have skyrocketed, unemployment has soared and those fortunate to keep their jobs have found their salaries cut drastically. In a country known for its hospitality, people are struggling to feed themselves and their families, let alone celebrate and share with others. The pandemic exacerbated this crisis and the recent explosion in Beirut took it to even more desperate levels.

Our ministry partner in Lebanon, Horizons International, has a vibrant and powerful ministry network, as well as a trustworthy reputation. They have been working hard to address the needs of the people, providing humanitarian aid for churches to distribute to those in need (up to 3,000 lunches per day!) In addition, their teams have been spending their days assisting in the clean up after the explosion and taping plastic over some of the millions of blown out windows. God has opened up the door to even more service and outreach opportunities as they share the Gospel with those they are helping.

Also, the owner of King of Falafel (from our Taste of Lebanon event) wanted to raise money for Lebanon relief and asked if she could donate it through Grace Point because she knew we were a trustworthy organization. This connection with our local Middle Eastern community was beyond what we could have planned, but it was part of God’s plan.

In just two short weeks since establishing the Lebanon Relief Fund, thanks to the generosity of the Grace Point family, we have been able to send over $34,000 to assist Horizons in their work, with a portion going to meet the needs of the members of Amchit Baptist Church and their community. If you have already given to the Lebanon Relief fund, thank you! Because the needs are great and on-going, we will continue to receive and forward funds. If you would like to make a contribution, go to: http://giving.gracepointpa.org and select the “Lebanon Relief” fund. 

Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that our God is a God “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” He has given us so many examples of this during these past few months, and we know that there are many more to come!  We are humbled to be part of God’s plan, serving the people of Lebanon and sharing His love.

We can’t wait to see what God has planned next!

VBS 2020 Highlights!

Over the last three weeks, families have been enjoying FOCUS VBS – REFOCUSED with YOU in mind. Each week, families were provided with a gift box with activities, games, lessons and special items to guide them through VBS-at-Home. The gift boxes have served to encourage families in their faith and bring FUN into their homes in a new way.

We’ve heard that this unique approach to VBS has been extremely positive for families to learn together! We are grateful that we could serve our families in different and meaningful ways.

Here are a few things to celebrate and praise God for!

  • We had about 43 families participating representing about 84 children! 
  • We had 11 of those families were guests of Grace Point or new to our church. We welcome them and hope that VBS-at-Home has been a special first experience for them with us. 
  • Because of your generous donations, we have been able to bless families using half of our usual VBS budget and include more gifts than we could have previously. We praise God for your generosity making this possible. Thank you!

How you can continue to pray for VBS:

  • Pray that families would continue to be encouraged to have faith-centered conversations in their homes.
  • Pray that the seeds of faith that were planted would grow and that many kids would come to know and trust Jesus.
  • Pray that our guests might seek to know more about Grace Point so they can meet Jesus and be encouraged to grow in their faith!

Depression Resources

 

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Life’s Good, I’m Worried, a podcast looking at the intersection of mental health and faith. Hosted by Cassie McCullough and Jessica Wolf, both of Grace Point!

 

 

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There are a number of video resources available on RightNow Media – click here to see a list. RightNow Media is available to regular attenders of Grace Point – click here to request access.

 

 

Turn Your Life Around   Noted counselor and author Dr. Tim Clinton writes about overcoming the troublesome things of your past in order to face a brighter future.

 

 

The Lies We Believe by Dr. Chris Thurman. In a world that is veering dangerously off course from what it calls “truth” comes a classic work that unmasks the lies we unwittingly believe, lies that destroy us and ultimately damage our emotional health, relationships and spiritual life.

 

To get help locating a Christ-centered therapist nearby, contact our Pastor of Congregational Care, Chuck Arnold.

Staffing Changes

On Sunday, September 15, after second service, I provided a detailed explanation of several important staffing changes happening over the coming months. Here is a summary of the most significant changes:

organization-chart-1989132_1920.pngGP LEAD Team – the staff is being restructured into four ministry areas, overseen by:

  • Pastor of Discipleship (future hire – for now overseen by Dave Wolf)
  • Arts & Communication Pastor (Steve Weir)
  • Outreach & Mobilization Director (Joan Zeberlein)
  • Operations & Finance Director (Bill Wright).

These four supervisors will meet regularly with myself as Lead Pastor to set key goals which spur our church to win and grow disciples who make disciples.

Joan Zeberlein transitioned to full time at Grace Point August 1, and has been working hard to build the Hospitality Team. As noted above, Joan will be working her way toward oversight of the entire Outreach & Mobilization area, but not until Women’s Ministry has a solid leadership team in place.

Steve Weir will be handing off missions and giving more concentrated attention to our complex communication needs. In addition, he will be championing creativity in all areas – for example, he will now be able to devote more energy to video production to promote our various ministries.

Chuck Arnold is looking to reduce hours significantly and enjoy a greater degree of retirement by July 1, 2020. To that end, he will be handing off several areas of his responsibilities such as attendance tracking and new guest follow up. We are working to ensure that there is no lapse in the excellent care Chuck provides to our church family.

Jay Button will remain full time until May 2022 at which time he expects to continue part-time in ministry at Grace Point. For now he is continuing his vital work with Groups and Men’s ministry, and is now providing oversight of the College & Career Ministry and working on several mentoring & leadership development initiatives.

Tony Batres continues to do a great job as interim Student Ministry Director and has agreed to continue until we have identified a permanent Director or Pastor over this area. A search team will commence around early November and will thoroughly consider Tony for the position, before looking at any other candidates.

For those who contact the office with administrative needs, please note the new roles of our admin staff:

Cyndi Kern is our part-time Ministry Administrative Assistant and has taken over most of JoAnn McDowell’s receptionist responsibilities (after JoAnn retired at the end of April) and provides support to Cassandra DeWitt, Chuck Arnold, Jay Button and Dave Wolf.

Sharon Sloan has stepped into a newly-created, full-time role as Ministry Administrative Team Lead as of June 1, 2019. Sharon takes care of Calendar and Building Usage Requests and supports Steve Weir in Communications and Special Events, and Tony Batres in Student Ministry. She also serves as liaison to ministry leaders.

Please join me in expressing your support for our great staff, and pray with us for a smooth transition through these changes over the coming months.

Dave Wolf, Lead Pastor

Serve: Step Up to Grow Up!

As we learned from Ephesians 4:11-16, there’s an awesome WIN-WIN when we choose to step up and serve using the gifts God has given: we mature as individuals, AND we build up our Grace Point community of faith.

Serve

So take a risk, step out of your comfort zone, and get off that spiritual sofa to see what God has in store…link over to our webpage that shows areas of ministry you might consider – and take a test drive!

SERVE opportunities online

New Stewardship Class this Fall – God Owns It All

God Owns It All: Transform your fear and confusion about finances into confidence and peace.

Ever wonder about God’s view of money?

Join us for God Owns It All as we explore Biblical, financial principles that will equip you and those you love to approach money management and financial planning with increasing freedom, generosity, contentment, and confidence. With over four decades of experience in the financial-services industry, Ron Blue (via DVD) presents financial principles that are affirmed by the authority of Scripture and tested by the marketplace. He knows that God’s principles work and are needed in our finances.

Wednesdays, 6:30-7:45pm, for six weeks starting Wednesday, September 19.

Sign-ups available at our Next Steps Area after Labor Day and online registration will be coming soon. Visit gracepointpa.org/events.

Questions? Contact Keith Brown (kbrown@gracepointpa.org) or Ken Kovalik (kkovalik@gracepointpa.org).

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

ReVision Survey Results!

Since September 2017, our elders and staff have been working on a major project: updating our church vision statement. Vision statements have been very powerful in the journey Grace Point, as evidenced by our most recent vision which led to the establishment of a partnership with Unidos en Cristo Church in Bolivia and the planting of Restoration Church in Levittown.

On January 14, we conducted a survey at the end of our worship service, collecting demographic data and seeking the input of our church family regarding what you perceive to be our strengths, areas for improvement, and ideas for the future. Our response rate was over 75%, which is fantastic – thanks to all who participated!

Below you will find some of the most significant findings from the survey. This data, as well as much more, has been reviewed by our ReVision Team and is being considered as we begin the formation of our new vision statement.

Next steps:

  • Elders and staff will review and refine the draft statement at our retreat April 6/7.
  • We will seek feedback on the statement from focus groups in the weeks to come.
  • We anticipate a finalized vision statement and resulting staff goals/objectives to be formulated by July 1.

Integral to this process has been the work of three Grace Point attendees who are skilled in data collection and tabulation: Paul Benchener, Dan Hughes, and Tom Nolte. We also wish to thank two individuals who are “on loan” from Crossing Community Church who have also volunteered their expertise: Larry and Cindy Newman – thank you for your heart to build the Kingdom!

And a reminder of who comprises the ReVision Team – feel free to talk with them at any time if you have comments or questions: Glenn Ely, Scott Leuz, Rich Speeney (elders), Steve Weir, Joan Zeberlein, and Dave Wolf (staff).

Your prayers for this ReVision process continue to be appreciated and impactful!

And now, some key findings:

Grace Point Survey ResultsGrace Point Survey Results2Grace Point Survey Results3Grace Point Survey Results4Grace Point Survey Results5Grace Point Survey Results6Grace Point Survey Results7Grace Point Survey Results8Grace Point Survey Results9

 

Strengths

  1. Preaching/Sermons
  2. Church Culture
  3. Worship/Music
  4. Leadership
  5. Christ-centered
Opportunities

  1. Millennials
  2. Unaffiliated
  3. Surrounding townships
  4. Families
  5. Religious Identity
Weaknesses (Areas to Improve)

  1. Assimilation/Getting to know one another
  2. Greater outreach
  3. Music ministry
  4. Preaching
  5. Parenting
Threats

  1. Millennials hard to serve
  2. Church membership dropping rapidly
  3. “Competition”
  4. Doubt

Through the Bible in 2018!

Your car won’t run if you don’t give it the right fuel. Neither will your spirit.

For decades now, I’ve made it a habit to read through the entire Bible in a year. While it’s great to spend time in the Bible looking at passages that child with Bibleaddress my immediate needs, it’s also important to get the “Big Picture” and read ALL the parts that I might never choose left to myself. God has something important to say to me there, too.

This year I’m choosing a new plan I haven’t done before, thanks to the many plans available on YouVersion – if you don’t have the free app yet on your device, check it out here.

Here are quite a few options to read through the Bible in 365 days.

If you need help narrowing the choices, here are my top picks:

YouVersion_Promo_Materials_157x157Whatever plan you choose, and whether you go through the entire Bible in 2018, or even a portion, it’s a great practice to start your day spending time with Jesus, listening to Him speak into your life.

One further note – this Wednesday I will begin weekly posts to my personal blog, to provide a mid-week spiritual check-in, as well as an opportunity for interaction for others in our church family. It’s easy to come on Sunday, worship, and leave not having really connected with others. I want the blog to be an online opportunity for mutual encouragement and conversation. Find it here.

Happy New Year – and may you enjoy many meaningful moments with God in 2018!