Sermon: Laying it Down

Our church is in the middle of a 21-day fast, and I’ve felt led to participate in a Daniel Fast, where I am eating solely fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (no meats, sweets, or dairy). There’s something about fasting that has a way of uncovering the things going on in your heart that doesn’t happen otherwise. And while this hasn’t been the most extreme fast that I’ve done, I sense that God has been doing something indescribable but significant in me these past few weeks.

Paul wrote: “I am crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Questions have been going through my mind: Why did Jesus have to die on the cross, and what does it mean that we are crucified with Christ? Is Jesus really worth abandoning everything for? What in my life is hindering me from being fully surrendered to God?

Last Sunday, I shared about this and more in my sermon “Laying it Down” at Journey Church. You can listen to it on the link below:

http://jcboston.org/laying/

Have a great day!

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Introducing… the 2014 UniteBoston Reps!

Today, we’re excited to announce the 2014 UniteBoston Reps – Coming to a neighborhood near you!

 How has God been working in UniteBoston?

Great question! Watch this PrayTV Interview with Kelly Steinhaus, UniteBoston Team Leader to learn more.

What are UniteBoston Reps?

UniteBoston Reps facilitate connection between church and community. Through interviews and church visits, UniteBoston reps establish a presence in the community, conveying the attitude that “we care about what God is doing in your midst and are here to serve you.” UniteBoston Reps are also intentional about researching history and demographics to form a comprehensive understanding of the community. By becoming a learner of neighborhoods, UniteBoston reps find out where God is working and how churches/ministries can collaborate together to further that work.

What do UniteBoston Reps do?

Each month has a particular focus around studying the community, such as observation, research, or interviews. UB Reps meet together monthly to share celebrations and challenges of what they see happening in their communities, as well as get trained for the following month. The UB Reps are a tight-knit community of people who prayerfully seek God’s work in Boston together and how churches are a part of the fabric of the city at large.

Why is this initiative important?

While the UniteBoston newsletter and website are helping to spread awareness of what God is doing throughout the city, we realized that it lacked one key component: relationships. Relationships are the heart of unity. Only relationships can instill understanding and help to remove barriers between churches of diverse cultures, denominations, ages and socioeconomic status. UniteBoston Reps devote their time and energy to building relational connections within one specific neighborhood, which makes uniting the city of Boston more manageable.

What are you hoping to accomplish with UB Reps?

Success as a UniteBoston Rep is to connect two independent churches or individuals for a larger purpose. Like a jigsaw puzzle, each piece only makes sense when it is in relationship with the other pieces. A greater sense of awareness will draw on the collective wisdom of the entire body of Christ. This will also improve each church’s aim to make strategic investments with ministry resources, so we fight the right battles and reduce duplication of efforts.

As relationships and trust are fostered, UniteBoston Reps will help to guide the missional activities of the Church within a specific community. This information will be made public to better aid in our efforts to pray for Boston and strategically mobilize the Christian community to meet the needs of the city.

Who are the 2014 UB Reps?

UB Rep: Coolidge Corner – Lex Carroll

UB Rep: UMass Boston – Amanda Green

UB Rep: Jamaica Plain – Bond Hsu

UB Rep: South End – Ralph Kee

UB Rep: Mattapan – Deneen Levy

UB Rep: Fenway – Betsy Slate

UB Rep: Harvard Square – Kelly Steinhaus

UB Rep: Back Bay – Andrew Walker

UniteBoston Reps Informational meeting, January 2014

UniteBoston Reps Informational meeting, January 2014

The current communities that are covered by the 2014 UB Reps - Could your neighborhood be next?

The current communities that are covered by the 2014 UB Reps – Could your neighborhood be next?

How can I get involved?

Email Kelly Steinhaus, UniteBoston Team Leader at kelly@uniteboston.com to learn more!

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Ephesians 4:16)

If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together – African Proverb

Transforming Boston, One Child At A Time

Ruth Wong

Something extraordinary is happening in the Boston area: churches are partnering with schools. Ruth Wong, director of the Boston Education Collaborative at Emmanuel Gospel Center partners with the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Office of Community Engagement and Circle of Promise,  to help create these partnerships. Currently, 19 schools in the Circle of Promise have faith-based partners, and 24 more are looking for partners – could your church be next?

Rather than coming in with an agenda, churches simply come to schools asking, “What are your needs? How can we help you achieve your goals?” By going to serve, rather than to preach, people are beginning to see that the church is relevant and engaged in the community. In the words of former BPS Superintendent Carol Johnson, this is significant because “churches bring hope and schools need hope.”

Coat Drive at Russell School

These partnerships have taken many forms. Faith communities have provided schools with people resources, like mentors and one-on-one tutors. They have also supported families with material items, such as City Mission Society coordinating the donation of 500 coats to Russell School families. The Trotter School first invited Global Ministries Christian Church and Grace Chapel to simply clean the building. They also hosted teacher/staff appreciation dinners. But as trust has been built with the school, the two churches are seen as partners and are invited to celebrate together with the school for significant school events. Although school staff can be hesitant at first, gradually more and more are seeing the value of faith communities supporting the multifaceted underworkings of a school. 

Some of these partnerships have transformed specific students academically, but it doesn’t end there. Ruth said, “When I hear about how a student or family is going through the struggles of life and a church is able to come alongside them, that’s what gets me excited and inspired.”

Mentor Match Day at the Timilty with parents, mentors & mentees

Mentor Match Day at the Timilty with parents, mentors & mentees

What would Ruth like to tell the Christian community in Boston? “As churches, we tend to create opportunities and programs to invite our neighbors to attend, but this is an opportunity to go and be invited into a school community to serve and love others in their space, to care for people who may never walk into the church doors on their own.”

Her dream is that each school in Boston would have at least one church partner. “There is an open door right now to partner with schools,” Ruth emphasizes. “This opportunity may come and go at any time, so in some ways, if churches would seize the moment and explore it, you never know what God could do.”

Many Christians speak about seeing their city transformed with the love of Christ. As you can see, church/school partnerships are an opportunity to make that dream become tangible.

Pastor Tom Griffith of River of Life Church asks, “What could be of greater value than to impact students? If you want to see change in Boston, this is the place to go.”

Next Steps to learn more about faith-based school partnerships:

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