Moses and Mountain

Talk about a spiritual high. Moses met God on a mountain, spoke to Him, and was handed the specific directions for God’s people to have a continual fellowship with Him. Imagine how close to God Moses must have felt.

Then he came down off the mountaintop experience, literally. He returns to camp to find God’s people worshiping a statue. They had witnessed the intense miracles of the plagues, Passover and the parting of the Red Sea, only to turn to what they could make with their own hands at the first sign of uncertainty.

And Moses loses his temper, smashes God’s gift and orders the murder of thousands of his people. (Exodus 32)

Looking at my own history, I can see how quickly mountaintop experiences are smashed by the return to reality. Lessons learned at a small group, a church service or a retreat are immediately challenged upon a return to real life, and more often than not, I fail the challenge.

On your next mountaintop experience, recognize you will eventually have to come down off the mountain. Ask God for His favor and grace on the descent and set up some level of accountability for the time directly following the spiritual high. Finally, share about your mountaintop experiences to allow those times to be an encouragement to others so that they may know God more.

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations (Matthew 24:14)

 

These are the moments . . .

We all have those moments. Those moments when the way we see the world and the way we see God changes.

Sometimes they are obviously big moments. You get married. Divorced. Have a baby. Lose a loved one. Move away. Move home. Change jobs. Go on a mission trip.

These are the kind of moments we often see coming and these are the moments when we often turn to God. Our faith is changed, whether for better or worse in these moments.

But what about the smaller moments? The start of the day. The passing comment made by a friend. The Scripture read. The Facebook post. The quiet revelation. Do you see these moments as a chance deepen your faith and to follow Jesus more closely?

These everyday moments can have just as much of an effect on our faith as the big moments if we are aware of them and if our lives change because of them. These moments are our frequent chances to “repent and believe” because the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15).

 

Vision Night 6/2013

In early June, we had a “Vision Night” at Genesis.  This was a time set aside to articulate who God has called us to be and how that affects what we are doing.  If you missed the gathering, here is a rundown of what was shared.

20 Mile March
In October of 1911, explorer Roald Amundsen set out to be the the first to lead a team to the South Pole.  The round trip trek was roughly fourteen hundred miles, the equivalent of the distance from New York to Chicago and back.  The environment was uncertain and unforgiving, where temperatures could easily reach 20 degrees below zero even during the summer.  They had no means of modern communications – no cell phones, no satellite links, no radio – a rescue would have been improbable were they to err.

The key to Amundsen’s success was his discipline to press forward in bad weather, and hold back his team in good weather.  Throughout the journey, Amundsen adhered to a regimen of consistent progress, never going too far in good weather, careful to stay away from the red line of exhaustion that could leave his team exposed, yet pressing ahead in nasty weather to stay on pace.  Amundsen led his well-tuned team to travel between 15 and 20 miles per day, in a relentless march to 90 degrees south.  When a member of Amundsen’s team suggested they could go faster, up to 25 miles a day, Amundsen said no.  They needed to rest and sleep so as to continually replenish their energy.  Explained simply, Roald’s strategy to be the first to reach the South Pole was the “20 Mile March”.

So what is Genesis’ “20 Mile March”?  What are the things we can commit to achieving for years with consistency?

I believe that there are three things that we can commit to achieving on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.  Those three things are as follows:  Loving God, Making disciples and Serving the world.

Loving God – Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love God with all of our heart, soul and body.  Everything we do is in light of God’s love for us and His command to love Him back.  We only love God because He first loved us and formed a covenant relationship with us.  Our love for God compels us to be with Him in prayer, study and worship.  To be restored into this loving, personal relationship with God is part of God’s purposes for all of humanity.  We want to commit to living out a vibrant, loving relationship with God.

Individually, a number of people within Genesis study the Bible daily as an expression of their worship for God.  Also, we gather as one body on Sundays as a celebration of God’s love and our intent to love Him back.

Making disciples – Making disciples was the mission of Jesus and the co-mission of His followers.  A disciple is one who does what Jesus did with the same motivation.  Jesus gave a select few greater access to His life and challenged them regularly to live like Him.  A clear distinction in Jesus’ disciple-making method is that His disciples were able to reproduce their life in others.  We want to commit to being disciples and then discipling others to multiply their lives.

I am very aware of how intimidating making disciples can sound to those who have never been discipled.  Over the last year and a half, we have been learning and applying a framework for intentionally making disciples.  Within the next couple of years the majority of our community will have the opportunity to be discipled with the sole purpose of turning around and making disciples.

Serving the world – Jesus rejected the idea that a person could have a relationship with God without showing compassion to others.  This is apparent in the second greatest commandment, to love others as yourself.  Serving the world is an expression of loving God by compassionate action towards the poor, broken, lonely, marginalized and hungry.  We want to commit to living a consistent life of service and compassion.

Every month at Genesis there are opportunities to get involved in acts of service toward others.  Either serving one of our compassion partners, engaging in a “Love In Action Day”, or naturally sharing our resources with our neighbors or those in need.

Loving God, Making Disciples, Serving the World.  These three expressions illustrate the three dimensional life of Jesus; His intimacy with His Father, His deliberate discipleship of a few, and His purposeful ministry to the masses.  If these things make up the life of Jesus, then they should be equally present in the life of the Church.

It is our hope that we as a church body, small groups, serving teams, families and individuals could take ownership of our “20 Mile March” – to love God, make disciples and serve the world.

Next Steps:
In the Fall, our Church-wide Initiative will be focused on living out the 3 dimensional life of Jesus:  His intimacy with His Father, His deliberate discipleship of a few, and His purposeful ministry to the masses.  Our plan is to equip Small Groups to make them accessible for families to learn together how to live as Jesus did.  Over the Summer we will be training, equipping and modeling these multi-generational groups.

In an ongoing manner, more and more people from within Genesis will be invited into an intentional season of discipleship.  Over the next year we plan to see 50 people intentionally discipled with the sole purpose that these would turn around and disciple 250 people.

Also in the Fall, the Treehouse (Elementary Student Ministry) will be introducing a new curriculum that aligns perfectly with the ongoing direction of the church.  This new curriculum also incorporates training for the parents to help them interact with what their children are learning.

Our next “Love In Action Day” is set for Saturday, June 22, from 9 am – 1 pm, and we would love to see the Genesis community out serving in full force.  Also, we have been invited to host the celebration following the Royal Oak Aids Walk on Sunday, September  22.  We are honored to be able to participate in this event in the name of Jesus and offer care and support for the walkers and those suffering locally and globally with this disease.

Thank you for your support and participation within Genesis.  We are excited to see what unfolds as we move deliberately towards God’s calling for Genesis.

Beau McCarthy
Lead Pastor
Genesis the Church

Elder Meeting Minutes 2/9/12

Attendance:     Beau McCarthy, Barb Meyer, Dave Hardin, Harvey Curley, Dave Nichols, Greg Brinks, Drew Hunter

 

Group opened with brief prayer.

 

  1. Jodi Theut — Group Skyped with Jodi.  She is grateful for any encouragement that she gets.  She requested prayers for additional workers and particularly she would like a mentor for herself.  We discussed trying to connect her more to Genesis via blog connection to our website, inclusion of prayer requests on our weekly e-blasts, etc.  Jodi requested financial support from Genesis and she’s currently at about 70% support, having both lost some and gained some supporters.  Elders discussed the financial support request.
  2. Elder Nominations — the Elders discussed new elder nominees and agreed, based on input from the nomination committee and Dave N to invite Foster Braun to the next meeting.
  3. Mission Fund – something we need to discuss in the future as the current funds in the Mission Fund are likely to be spent within the next 1-2 years.  Possibility exists that there will be future gifts, so we need to decide how we’d handle these.
  4. Upcoming schedule:
    1. Elder Retreat:  3/23-3/24 at Camp Leal.  $35 cost.  Breakfast and lunch on Saturday.
    2. Men’s Retreat: 4/27-4/29.  Cost: $60.
    3. Community Summits – in homes.  February 27 or 28.  Like a “big small group”.  Pastor and elder at each.  Communication to be determined.
    4. Easter – Possibly Passover Seders on Thursday prior to Easter and Saturday after Easter.  All night prayer Thursday-Friday.  Series leading up to it: The Gospel According to Moses (OT texts that point to Jesus).
  5. 3dm – discipleship and mentoring.  Beau passed out summary of what this is.  Possible mentoring training in Cincinnati.  More to come later.  May need more funds to send pastors and spouses; may ask Detroit Baptist Union if they would provide support.
  6. CWI – Covenant and Kingdom.  More to come at Elder Retreat.

Testing the spirits- Nate

1 John 4:1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

This past Sunday we experienced the presence of the Spirit of God in our worship together. Who is like our God, that dwells with the lowly?

In my preparation for teaching on depression, I was deeply concerned that the content of the talk or perhaps even my delivery, might come across insensitive to the place that many find themselves. As a result, I found myself praying for God’s heart on depression. Asking that God would replace my own feelings toward depression with what “Word” God might have for His body within Genesis. I was continually submitting myself to the Spirit of God, asking for direction and an openness to whatever God might want to do.

In the nine o’clock service, I sensed a spirit of openness to the message. After the service, I was able to have a few significant conversations that affirmed to me that God, in fact, was present and was speaking a “Word” to His children. But, after the sanctuary had cleared, I began to feel an anxiety start to come over me as the eleven o’clock hour approached. I was concerned about having attitude of “just doing it all over again” and of me not actually being in a place of submission to what God might want to do differently for the next service. I began to feel this sense of antagonism toward the message, especially concerning the Biblical texts that dealt with spiritual authority and advocating for others (John 12 and Matthew 8).

As I began the eleven o’clock talk, part of me was fixated on this “spirit of antagonism” to the message. So, there I was, standing in front of everybody, on stage, recognizing this feeling and I began to verbally process. You can hear it on the podcast, I said something to the effect of sensing “antagonism in the room” after the Psalm 91 interpretive dance/ballet expression. I then moved on, talked through what I had prepped for the message, the anxiety dissipated and I again felt God’s presence throughout.

But, after the service, I was unsettled about what I had felt in the beginning, when I took the stage. My statement about “antagonism” was later addressed by two people I trust, one in conversation and the other in an email. They expressed to me very clearly that they had sensed quite the opposite of what I had said. They said they had sensed an openness in the room and not antagonism. When I heard their words I was immediately challenged deep in my heart. I did not know why. How did I get this wrong? What was I responding to that they, clearly, were not?

So, I inquired of God. I asked God why I had sensed this other “spirit”. His response to me was shocking.

I heard God say the word: “you were reaching”. This was accompanied by a feeling of “being called out”. I sat with this for a while in a contemplative state and felt God correcting me and comforting me, all at the same time. God was teaching me to not over-reach His work. To not over-reach or try to muster something in my own strength or my own influence. God reassured me that simply lifting up Jesus is enough and that the Spirit of God applies the truth of His Word to people’s hearts. That it is God’s work and God’s responsibility to draw people unto Himself.

There was antagonism in the room but what I didn’t realize is that it was coming from me. I was trying to run the show. I had a specific response to the message in mind. I was looking for a specific response that would show me the move of the Spirit of God. And God was settling me into a place of submission, saying ” Nate, I’ve got this!”.

Being reminded by Him that I am in His capable hands brought me Shalom.

I am so thankful for the honesty of the responses that challenged me and encouraged me to engage with God around this “other spirit”. To ask “God what are you saying to me?” And in His response to be reminded that God has a plan to care for, deliver and prosper His people in just the perfect way. And this has helped me to trust that His care and discipline of me, in fact, is a sign of His great love.

Elder Meeting Minutes 10/27/11

Elder Meeting Minutes 10/27/11

Attendance:     Beau McCarthy, Barb Meyer, Dave Hardin, Harvey Curley, Dave Nichols, Greg Brinks

Also attending:  Mike Iley

Group opened with Prayer

Beau asked for what people might be hearing from God.

  • Portrait of God study seems to be very engaging

 

Covenant Membership process

  • Each member of Pastoral staff is teamed with an Elder for meetings with Small Group Leaders
  • Beau provided outline for meetings that will be held with all Covenant Members

 

Missionary Sending Team

  • Brief discussion on idea of establishing a Missionary Sending Team – separate from Compassion Team – to help Genesis Members who are feeling God’s call to missions
  • Need to define the role of this team and what responsibility and authority the team may have

 

Meeting with Amanda Nichols

  • Amanda presented her story and calling to work with The Dream Project in Mozambique
  • Her desire is for Genesis to provide 10% of her monthly need
  • Elders to think, pray, and reconvene in the next meeting on her request

 

Elder Nominee Process

  • Nomination committee met with one candidate and we actively discussed his candidacy.

 

Two Service Survey

  • 180 respondents already.  Seems to be strong support for 9 & 11 as service times.

Elder meeting minutes 9/15/11

Elder Meeting Minutes 9/15/11:

Present: Beau McCarthy, Drew Hunter, Nate Sjogren, Dave Nichols, Dave Hardin, Harvey Curley, Greg Brinks

Middle School Ministry Review
• Matt Demorest visited to report and be prayed for
• First meeting on Sunday, September 11, went well with 4 students in attendance
• Anna Lewis, David Cain, Tim Tucker, Susan Nievelt are other leaders
• Mark requests that we pray he be led by the Spirit and not just by his academic training
• Mark will attend weekly at first to help get things going
• Would like to have monthly events to give kids opportunity at a different time to invite friends

Group prayer together

Budget – Some material increases
• Some needs for improving sanctuary
• Garden needs additional help, particularly for older elementary students. May need another part-time paid position. Also some equipment needs.
• Goal to bring budget to congregation on October 16 with idea that congregation would vote on 10/23 and 10/30

Report on Compassion
• 40+ people willing to serve on AIDS walk
• 60+ on Love in Action day
• Community Lunch – needs a leader, lots of people are willing to help, but no one has stepped up to lead. Need to pray about this more to see if God is leading us and saying, “You must do this.”

Dave Hardin presented a draft Benevolence Fund Policy. Policy was generally approved with some small suggestions for change.

Mike and Nicole Peraino visited to talk about High School ministry.
• First meeting occurred 9/14/11 with two students attending
• Meeting of the Edge here on 9/11 – maybe 100 or more kids with 40 leaders
• Dave N emphasizes that we want the Youth Leaders to feel prayed for and feel like they can have access to the elders when needs arise.
• Elders prayed for Mike and Nicole

By-law review: Jim N agreed to participate in drafting changes to by-laws, but his time is limited.

Up-coming elder retreat topics:
• Inquire about whether God is calling us to do something more to expand number of people worshiping at Genesis?; if so, how might this be accomplished?
• Inquiring whether God is calling us and compelling us to take on the Community Lunch (and potentially do it differently)

Discussion with William Kuster regarding a Biblical literacy program.
• William has a background in teaching biblical literacy in South Carolina and education at Moody’s and University of Edinburgh
• William proposed a possible syllabus for use in a basic biblical literacy class
• Style would be Socratic method with a relatively small class – up to 15-17
• William’s ideas were enthusiastically received and the Elders prayed with William

Elder meeting minutes 8-25-11

Elder Meeting Minutes – 8/25/11

Attendance: Beau McCarthy, Nate Sjogren, Dave Nichols, Jen Hullinger, Harvey Curley, Barb Meyer, Dave Hardin, Greg Brinks

Group opened with prayer.

Beau reported joyfully on a couple of correspondences from people who had filled out green cards saying they had made decisions to follow Jesus.

Consideration of the question of whether there’s anything that we feel like God has called us to do that we’re not doing (based on review of I Samuel 15). The group mentioned the following
1. There’s a danger that Saul fell into of being a leader who follows his people. We need to be wary of shying away from confronting sin and hell, but at the same time ensuring that we continue to be welcoming to all who are interested. This is difficult to balance
2. Any commitments that we made as part of the merger that we’re forgetting about? Reminder that we committed to getting to 10% of our budget dedicated to missions.
3. Should we be doing more to teach people more basic Christian doctrine and biblical literacy as a starting point? The longer people are Christians but lack that basic understanding, the harder it is to admit this. Perhaps with the space we have and other things that weren’t available in Genesis’s history, now is the time to launch an initiative like this.
4. Greater provision of more child care for more events, e.g., small groups.

Question about Budget Review
Beau asked about development of the Compassion Team / Missions budget. Elders reported about discussion that we had with the BOB and the idea of breaking out a missions line item within the Compassion Team area.

Discussed question about how we accommodate more people in our worship services. Determined that we would defer a larger discussion of this to a separate meeting (weekend retreat).

Youth Ministry
People responded to call for leaders, particularly with people who were approached personally. Qualified people about whom were excited have agreed to step into leadership roles. We will meet with some of these people on September 15.

By-laws adjustments
The remainder of the time was spent going through the by-laws section by section, identifying items that really should be changed. Beau agreed to take these away and work with someone else to come up with draft language. Below are the identified areas for changes:

Elder Meeting Minutes — 7/14/11

Elder Meeting Minutes – 7/14/11 Attending: Greg Brinks, Harvey Curley, Dave Hardin, Barb Meyer, Drew Hunter, Dave Nichols Dave Hardin opened with prayer Discussion of agenda for Community Summit 7/24/11. Drew described the new member process – both the formal all-church process and the process for individuals who indicate an interest in joining the church between all-church affirmation opportunities. Following the all-church covenant affirmation service (expected to occur in late September), all attendees who affirm that they meet the requirements for covenant membership, as well as those who indicate an interest in becoming covenant members, will be contacted by an elder or a staff member. It is recognized that this will be a time-consuming but appropriate process at the beginning. The Elders were comfortable with what Drew described and Drew agreed to put the process in writing. The group discussed potential by-law changes to be made. Concerns were raised regarding putting through only some changes to the By-laws while recognizing that many others remain to be made. After discussion it was agreed that at the Community Summit Drew would describe the changes to be made to the By-laws that affect church membership. Other changes will be deferred until a more thorough review of the entire By-laws document could be completed. It is recognized that this is overdue and may frustrate some who would like to see certain changes put in place. However, there was consensus among the elders that the By-law changes should be considered as a whole, rather than piecemeal on various occasions. Discussion of Need for Additional Elders There are currently only 2 candidates willing to be considered for the office of elder. The elders discussed potential nominating committee members who could interview these candidates. The elders agreed that Drew should contact the proposed nominating committee members and, if they’re willing to serve, ask them to undertake this task as soon as possible. In addition, in light of Ben Reigle moving on and other potential changes, it was agreed that the nomination process should be re-opened. The goal would be to have one or more additional candidates who may be able to be submitted to the congregation at the annual meeting in October. Preparation for BOB meeting on 7/24 The group discussed the upcoming meeting between the elders and the BOB. Drew and Dave made suggestions and then exited the meeting, leaving the elders to discuss the goals and desires for the meeting among themselves. The elders agreed to defer further work on review pastor feedback for a subsequent meeting Dave Hardin closed the meeting in prayer.

Elder Retreat Notes – 6/4/11

  • The elders (Greg Brinks, Harvey Curley, Dave Hardin, Jen Hullinger, Barb Meyer and Ben Riegle) met with Beau, Drew, Nate and Dave Nichols
  • The group began with listening to God for His leading and discussing what was heard.
  • We followed this with a lengthy discussion of the strategic priorities for the coming year based significantly on the input from the listening groups that took place earlier in 2011.  The focus was not on specific programs, but on what strategic themes should permeate all aspects of life at Genesis.  The themes that seemed to come out significantly in the listening groups and in what the elders are hearing from God revolved primarily around equipping our members, particularly families, in the ability to grow biblically and to develop other disciples, including their own children.  This is not to exclude those who are single or without children, but to include them by preparing them for marriage and raising children (should God provide for that) and/or to bless and be blessed by other families within Genesis.  Significant discussion took place regarding implications of this for various of Genesis’s ministries, including the Garden and youth ministries, small groups, etc.  There was also discussion regarding how this can fit in with and fuel continued compassion ministries that Genesis values so highly.  A second and related priority that was discussed involved leadership development.  The staff was assigned to continue developing specific plans for how these priorities will influence the various ministries at Genesis.
  • We discussed further the need to focus more intensely and intentionally on youth ministry.  We agreed to communicate to the congregation the need for youth leaders and ask the congregation to join the elders and staff in praying for called and gifted leaders who can be empowered for this ministry.  We also agreed that this ministry will require more time and support from Genesis staff.
  • The final topic discussed was regarding ideas for how to move forward as Genesis grows and outgrows the ability to fit all attenders in the sanctuary for a Sunday morning worship service.  Various ideas and possibilities were discussed and the conclusion was that the first step would be to develop the capability to broadcast the service in real-time into other parts of the Genesis building (the South Hall, the Lobby, etc.).  The staff was charged with the responsibility to develop specific plans for how this would be accomplished, most likely in the fall of 2011.  As growth continues, we will continue to evaluate and pray about further options.

Congregational Prayer Opportunities:

  • Pray that God will lead our entire church as we seek to equip and ground members in God’s Word to enable them to disciple others
  • Ask God to help us in developing additional leaders within Genesis for the various ministries to which God calls us
  • Continue to pray for God to lead us to the person or people He is calling and equipping to lead our middle and high school youth
  • Pray for God to continue to bring to Genesis people whom He wants to love through our congregation.  Ask Him to lead us in giving all those who attend the opportunity to participate in worship in a way that feeds them and honors Him.