Blog : Grand Traverse Bay Area

Prayer Focus: Help Us Pray

Prayer Focus: Help Us Pray

We recently committed three weeks to prayer.  Every day of the calendar was covered as our people began to pray.  At a Midweek Gathering during that time, we cried out together in specific ways.

First, we focused on two Big Picture ideas, areas of vision where we are being challenged.  Secondly, we focused on one specific way to pray in each area.  So with this post, would you take a moment to pray for us as we serve the Grand Traverse Bay Area?

Big Picture: Souls

We are experiencing one of the busiest times in America for churches (Back-to-School).  During this time, we hosted two world-changing ministers, Jean-Paul Engler and Per Akvist.  We’ve heard God’s Word and seen God’s wonders!

For these services, as well as others during this time, our congregation has been reaching out and welcoming people.  We’re praying about new ways to connect.

We are being stirred to the core, seeking God for souls, seeing seas of faces . . .1)These pictures are from Fall Family Festival last year, some of the people attending.  Fall Family Festival will be on October 27th this year.

  

Luke 10.2: He said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;
therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (NRSV)

In new ways, we’re considering the fields, looking to the Lord of the Harvest.  Pray for us, especially as we fulfill our assignments and reach souls!

Specific Souls: Back to School Backpack Giveaway

We planned a backpack giveaway this summer.  Earlier this year, some of us attended a leadership seminar by our District and Rural Compassion, a sister ministry of Convoy of Hope.  We were challenged in new ways to connect with those around us.  The backpack giveaway is one of the outcomes.

In a letter to MtZ, Angie Camp, the Principal of Silver Lake Elementary says: “This is the perfect way for students to start the year off right!  New things like those backpacks give such a sense of pride and it truly affects the way they feel and perform at school!”

We’re extremely grateful for the organizational efforts of Haley, Sharon, and our 50+ group.  Pray that we discover practical ways to touch lives in our region.  Furthermore, please pray for young families in our neighborhood as we forge new connections!

Big Picture: Church, Kingdom, ekklesia

How do we compare to the way the first church was started and intended to be?

Matthew 16.18: . . . on this rock I will build my church [ekklesia] (NRSV)

What did the Early Church look like?  Where are we now?  Are we a product of centuries of progressing Western culture?  Are we experiencing all that God intended?  How do we reach a pluralistic society?  Is the church of the New Testament still effective?

Cyprian: “He who hath not the church for his mother hath not God for his father.”2)Robert E. Webber, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 113.

Robert E. Webber spent his career chasing questions like the ones above.  In one of his books, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New WorldWebber rethinks the modern church in light of the Kingdom of God and Early Church.  He declares:3)Ibid., 112-113.

  1. The church is a “Spirit-formed community” – the Holy Spirit is at the helm.
  2. We are a people who witness renewal and God’s victory!
  3. We do NOT have a mission – we ARE mission.
  4. We’re prophetic . . . eschatological!  We offer real glimpses of Kingdom Come!

Is church only a place we gather? . . . Or an ekklesia, a local Kingdom gathering?

Is our building the church? . . . Or is it the HQ for our mission to the GT Bay Area?

Our Specific ekklesia: Flow of Ministry and Grace

Business models are often pyramids with a CEO on top calling the shots.  That’s not the way it is in Ephesians 4.  God does reveal vision to His leaders.  But the Spirit also dreams for all of us to reach and disciple others.  Our leaders are not “glory hounds,” but men and women who operate in a spirit of true humility.

Ephesians 4.16: Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly.
As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow,
so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. (NLT)

Five-Fold Ministry

Lead Pastors Jared [PCG] and Crystal Ingle serve in this office.  Others are becoming more involved in vocational ministry.  Ministers are called to empower those in their congregation to minister!

for the equipping of the saints for the work of service . . . Ephesians 4.12 (NASB)

Elders

Elders serve in various capacities [i.e. physical facilities and finances], but there is some overlap with ministry.  They approve of those who seek to start a ministry and those who desire to become members.  They serve as advisors to the Pastor.

Engaged Workers

We have many who serve in a variety of ways, and there is simply no way to track all that they do.  Because they’re consistently committed, they know what is going on, they know our people, and they often serve in multiple arenas.  Some lead groups.  Others serve in ministries of helps.  For a listing of a few key players, see our Leadership page.

Membership

Some members simply cannot commit to ongoing positions.  However, they offer support for our ministries consistently.  Our members help with projects of all kinds.  They are already co-laborers, the same as leaders, and their support helps us thrive!

Thank you for praying!  Everyone knows, there’s always room for more souls in the Body.  Everyone knows, there’s room for more engagement from parishioners.  We’re excited to see new faces around here, and blessed with high percentages of engagement.  Thank you for taking time to pray for the souls we’re reaching and for our church!

 

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. These pictures are from Fall Family Festival last year, some of the people attending.  Fall Family Festival will be on October 27th this year.
2. Robert E. Webber, The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2002), 113.
3. Ibid., 112-113.

Help My Unbelief

“Oh, unbelieving generation . . . BRING HIM TO ME!” (Mark 9.19) 

Jesus already knows about the unbelief.  The disciples are unable to cast a demon out of a child and it plants a seed of doubt in the father’s mind.  The disciples doubt their abilities in Jesus’ name.  The scribes doubt and question.  Because of this one incident, many different people begin to doubt.

Mark 9.14-29, NASB: In this story we see the condition of our human-ness.

We try so many things just like the disciples.  We try so hard to make it happen, but none of these things have God in them.  All He asks is for us to bring them to Him.  That’s our only job.  When we doubt the power He has given us, that makes room for more doubt.  So the only thing we can do is bring it back to God Himself.

The father puts an “if” upon Christ’s power (Mark 9.22)

The dad comes from home hopeful, but now is not quite sure that the healing can happen.  Don’t we find ourselves in the same situation?  Is it the salvation of loved ones, healing in self or others, better marriage, abundant life, financial freedom, cleansing from past, victory over an addiction for someone we know . . . fill in the blank.

Jesus does NOT say “have no doubt, but only believe”

He knows they . . . or we . . . are faithless.  He calls us a faithless generation multiple times.  How much do you have to believe?  We all know . . . it’s the size of a grain of mustard seed.1)Matthew 17.19-21; Luke 17.5-6  How big is that?  Not very big at all.  He doesn’t say, “don’t doubt.”  He says, “only believe.”

Like this father I do believe.  I do!  But I need You to help my unbelief – because it’s there – I can’t get rid of it without You.  I can’t do this on my own.  I have this much faith, what can You do with it?

Christ says, “I can move mountains with that.”  He knows that we are faithless.  We’re not fooling Him by pretending.

It is because of our unbelief, that we bring so little to pass

So often we miscarry, and come short, in that which is good.  Those that complain of unbelief, must look up to Christ for grace to help them against it, and His grace shall be sufficient.2)2 Corinthians 12.9

Help my unbelief . . . Help me with power against it . . . Help me with what is wanting in my faith by Your grace . . . Your strength perfected in our weakness.

GOD MAKES UP THE DIFFERENCE!

ALL things are possible to him who believes (Mark 9.23)

Believes what?  In God’s power to do this thing?  In God’s goodness to care enough to do this thing . . . or simply in Him?

Hebrews 11.6, the Faith Chapter states: “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

Can you believe?  Do you Dare believe?

Are you willing to venture your all in the hands of Christ, all your spiritual concerns with Him, all your earthly concerns?  Isn’t it amazing that at times we can trust that having been a great sinner, we may be reconciled to Christ and one day to eternal life in Heaven.  It’s an incredible feat, but when it comes to things of this earth we have a difficult time with our faith.  If our souls can be redeemed, then our bodies and circumstances can be healed.

In Luke 5.23-24 Jesus is with scribes and a paralyzed individual.  He says, “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins have been forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?  But, so that you may know that the Son of Man has the authority to forgive sins” . . . He then heals the man.

I do believe; help my unbelief (Mark 9.24)

We cannot measure how much faith nor how much doubt the dad has, but we see from this very transparent and truthful statement that it was not all faith.  He is relying on Christ to make up the difference, but he still has to put a faith foot forward.

The magnitude of the child’s disorder gives doubt, but he realizes that it is not in his own power to believe, nor has he strength of himself to oppose his unbelief.  He needs the goodwill or grace of God.  His faith is weak, but He still desires God to show Himself powerful and be glorified through this miracle for his only child.

Jesus heals completely.  He rebukes the spirit.  Jesus takes him by the hand and he gets up.

2 Tim 2.13: If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

When I am surrounded and overwhelmed, overcome and seeing with only these earthly eyes, I say Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.  And He doesn’t think that I fall short, because He knows me.  And He knows that even if there’s great doubt and very little faith, that He can still do what He says He will do.  Sometimes I am full of faith and sometimes I lack, because I am human.

Know that even in His frustration with our unbelief . . . He is not disappointed . . . He already knows . . . He already sees . . . He is standing there, ready to make up the difference for you.  Use this simple prayer, Lord I believe, help my unbelief.

 

 

Jared and Crystal serve as the Lead Pastors.  Crystal describes herself as a Christ follower, wife, homeschool mom, part gypsy (lived in 6 states) and theatre buff.

Crystal also serves in countless ways at MtZ, including worship and MtZKidZ.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Matthew 17.19-21; Luke 17.5-6
2. 2 Corinthians 12.9

Sharing the Gospel and Ourselves

Recently we took a good look at ourselves, those who help us work the fields in the Grand Traverse Bay Area.  We began by asking focused questions about our talents, gifting, and strengths.

How are we doing as a leadership core and what are we doing well?

Gallup finds that, “An overarching emphasis on strengths allows employees to form better connections – in part because strengths are a springboard for meaningful conversations that build trust and help groups accomplish their most important goals.”1)Brandon Rigoni and Jim Asplund, “The Best Way to Build a Strengths Coaching Culture,” Gallup: Business Journal, December 1, 2016, accessed December 15, 2016, http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/198581/best-build-strengths-coaching-culture.aspx.

“better connections . . . meaningful conversations . . . build trust”

We turned a corner over a year ago when we started having conversations about our strengths.  Something has changed.  There has been real edification – building up.

We’ve had “meaningful conversations” in many areas.  Some of our leaders are engaging their role more effectively.  Others are taking on new roles, or trying temporary roles.  Our teams are energized by the conversations.

A little research introduced to our leadership team has given us new freedom and license to explore the strengths and talents that we each have.

Community formation is at the heart of Strengths research

Gallup states, “By uniting employees around strengths, managers promote deeper, more productive and more engaging relationships among workers throughout the company.”2)Ibid.

Central to leadership development, even in the marketplace, is a commitment to, “more engaging relationships.”  How much more so should this be evident in a congregation?  We’re not a machine.  We’re a community of faith.  We do life together.

Mt. Zion has a reputation as a friendly church.  We’re a family oriented church, not because of families, but because individuals are at home in our Christian family.  This is the way Mt. Zion has operated for years.  To borrow from cell phone marketing in their time, the Wermuths (our Former Pastors) say they grew the congregation on “The Friends and Family Plan.”  Community formation is at the heart of who we are and at the heart of strengths research.

How does our leadership team measure up?

In the Christian book Living Your Strengths, it is reported that, “more than half of churchgoers report that they don’t get to do what they do best in their congregations or parishes.”3)Gallup, “Living Your Strengths,” Gallup: Press, 2016, accessed December 15, 2016, http://www.gallup.com/press/176561/living-strengths.aspx.  They’re not plugged in, and they’re not plugged in where they want to be.

We also have some workers who may not be serving in their strengths but are striving to make a change or remedy.  However, we have a very strong leadership team. We have many committed workers. Right now at Mt. Zion, about 50-60% of our people are engaged in regular service.

Do you know what the average has been for years in America?  It has been 20%.  Recently, the Barna Group found that the number of people volunteering at a church on a weekly basis is only 19%.4)Barna Group, “The State of the Church 2016,” Barna: Faith and Christianity, September 15, 2016, accessed December 15, 2016, https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016/.

We are aware of this and grateful for all who serve!  We dream about what our leadership core is actually capable of.  There are still untapped resources in the hearts of our leaders that God wants to bring to fruition.

Are numbers the bottom line?  No Mt. Zion is building a community of faith

Let’s review the language of the Strengths research: “better connections . . . meaningful conversations . . . build trust . . . uniting . . . deeper, more productive and more engaging relationships.”

When I think of this language, I think of Paul explaining similar ideas to the Thessalonians in his first epistle:

1 Thessalonians 2.8, NRSV: “So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.”

He says, “So deeply do we care for you.”  The word picture is desire, longing for, or even the longing of love.  We care for you with deep heart-felt emotion.

He adds, “we are determined to share with you.”  We are willing, but willing in the Biblical sense.  The word will is not just a mental decision.  Will involves the heart, pleasure, and emotions.  It’s not only intellectual, but stirred from deep within.

We’re called to share our souls, ourselves, with each other

A determination rises up within us that we are going to share the Gospel with you, but we are going to cross boundaries and share ourselves.  The phrase, “our own selves,” is the Greek word psyche.  It’s the word soul.  The New International Version says we’re called to share “our lives.”

This is Christian community.  He says the reason why is because, “you have become very dear to us.”  This word “dear” is a form of the word agape.  It is the same word that the Father uses when He describes His Son.  “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased” (Matthew 12.18a, NRSV).  Beloved means dear one, dearly beloved, or even favorite.  The Father calls Jesus Beloved, and we are Beloved in Christ.  Paul turns around and uses the same term for us as the family of God.

Henri Nouwen declares, “The Christian community is a community of people who remind each other who they truly are – the beloved of God.”5)Henri J. M. Nouwen, Beloved: Henri Nouwen in Conversation with Philip Roderick (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2007), 20.

We’re dear to each other.  Our relationships and strengths are vital to each other.  We’re building well.  We’re Sharing the Gospel and Ourselves.

Rev. Jared V. Ingle, M.A., Lead Pastor
MT. ZION Family Worship Center

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Brandon Rigoni and Jim Asplund, “The Best Way to Build a Strengths Coaching Culture,” Gallup: Business Journal, December 1, 2016, accessed December 15, 2016, http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/198581/best-build-strengths-coaching-culture.aspx.
2. Ibid.
3. Gallup, “Living Your Strengths,” Gallup: Press, 2016, accessed December 15, 2016, http://www.gallup.com/press/176561/living-strengths.aspx.
4. Barna Group, “The State of the Church 2016,” Barna: Faith and Christianity, September 15, 2016, accessed December 15, 2016, https://www.barna.com/research/state-church-2016/.
5. Henri J. M. Nouwen, Beloved: Henri Nouwen in Conversation with Philip Roderick (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2007), 20.