Some Thoughts on Social Media & Life on Mission

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– a note from Angie Oberg

Social Media

is a phrase people love to hate.

For the past three months, social media has largely been the focus of my internship here at The Door. Personally, I have had a love-hate relationship with these platforms. I tried Facebook…for about two weeks. Instagram and Twitter captivated me longer.

As I entered the social media world from a church perspective, I started to see how Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook can be a part of how The Door lives

Life on Mission.

When I researched how various churches use social media, I saw two important purposes.

  1. It is a way for us as church members to stay engaged with each other throughout the week. There is room for encouraging and connecting and applying what we learn on Sunday mornings. It is also a place we can be reminded of church activities and happenings.
  2. The other way to use social media is missionally. We as members can share about our church on social media to family and friends who might not have a church family.

In the Life on Mission series, we talked about going to where people are, rather than trying to get people to come to our church building.

Social Media is where people are congregating today.

Does this mean though, if I am not on social media (and it stresses me out) I need to use it to reach people for Jesus?

No

It simply means if you are already using these platforms, it is a great way to connect with your church family members and a non-threatening way to share about what is important to you, your faith and church family.

I encourage you to follow along on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook and to share posts with your followers you feel would benefit them. Our church family can be the encouragement someone needs today. 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together…but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24,25 (NIV)

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Life on Mission & CVCCS

“All they asked that we should remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” – Gal. 2:10

One of the ways The Door can live life on mission is to act on the words of Paul in Galatians 2:10. One organization, living and breathing these words, is Conestoga Valley Christian Community Services or better known as CVCCS.

There is so much good that could be said about what they are doing. I (Angie) went for a visit to see their operation and was so impressed with how they are loving and sharing Jesus with people. I would like to highlight a few of the many programs they offer.

  1. Clothing bank: CVCCS’ clothing bank serves all of Lancaster County. It is not limited to those who live in CV school district. A client simply needs a referral from a social agency or church. The client, accompanied by a volunteer shopper, can buy clothes for themselves every six months and for children, every three months.

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  1. Food bank: While the clothing bank serves all of Lancaster, the food bank is specifically for those who live in CV school district, or for those who attend a church in the district.

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Once a month an individual/family can come in (by appointment) and shop for their food. A volunteer shops with them for refrigerated/frozen items and dried goods/canned items. At times there are extra items available such as baked treats, donated from a bakery or items such as fried chicken or stew from the restaurant Good and Plenty. There are also vegetables/fruits which come from CAP, Central food bank, or gardeners who have an overabundance during their growing seasons.

*CALLING ALL GARDENERS…REMEMBER THIS TIDBIT OF INFO THIS SUMMER WHEN YOU HAVE TOO MANY VEGETABLES AND DO NOT KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH THEM 🙂

Some other programs related to the food bank are summer lunches (which The Door helps out with…coming soon…stay tuned for details) and Weekend of Blessings.

Weekend of Blessings is weekend meals children (who receive the subsidized lunch programs)  take home with them to stretch their food over the weekend. (CVCCS volunteers pack bags of food for 150 children each week)

  1. Rooted: CVCCS mentoring program with Smoketown Elementary School. This year there are about thirteen, 4-6th graders. Each child is paired with a mentor and they meet once a week from 3:30-5:20 pm.

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A typical day looks like this….

Snack – Mentor and child might talk about their day, for example, highs and lows.

Game – A child is paired with their mentor or against their mentor.

Bible lesson – Listen to a Bible lesson as a group, and then the child and mentor discuss it.

The mentor and child do 20 minutes of math and 20 minutes of reading. (You do not need to know anything about common core or be a pro in school subjects to help…note to self and others for next school year;)

The afternoon ends with a big group meeting where they talk about the highlight of the afternoon and pray a blessing together.

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Once a month there is a family dinner the child’s family can come for. The mentor stays and has dinner with the family.

Jacqueline, program director, says about the program, “It is really cool, building that relationship and the relationship with the whole family. Another cool thing is, we had three families contact us and ask if they can start coming to the food bank. They saw it and wanted to be a part of it.”

These are just some of the ways CVCCS is making a difference. If you want more information, feel free to talk to me (Angie Oberg) or contact CVCCS to find out more. 

We do support CVCCS as a church but we would like to support them in even greater ways in the future. As Keith (lead elder) put it, CVCCS is really carrying out the mission we as the church are responsible for, to care for the poor. We want to make sure we are supporting their organization as they do that.

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To end with Jacqueline, program director, shared part of an excerpt from a client letter:

“Dear folks at CVCCS foodbank,

It’s almost August and we haven’t had to call on help from you since April. I guess that means we are standing on our own two feet and that is a good thing. You were an indescribably good help to us during a confusing and difficult time, and we can only thank you over and over again. You were always so gracious and kind, generous and sweet, and you never once made me feel any shame for having to come for free food. I often thought of the verse in Isaiah 55, ‘Come all you who are thirsty and come to the waters and you who have no money, come buy and eat, come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.’ That was us. As I pulled the last items from the pantry or found one last thing in the freezer, I kept feeling thankful and grateful and I smiled. We are so appreciative. We really are…” 

Living Waters Program – Part of our DNA

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Another way Life on Mission is lived out at The Door is through the Living Waters Program. Jena Miller, who has been a part of the program from the beginning, writes about this healing ministry and the positive effect it has had on our church family as individuals and as a body.

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“It’s in the DNA of the Door.”

This phrase has been used many times as it has referred to the Living Waters Program, and how it has functioned at the Door.  But what exactly does it mean? How did Living Waters get into the Door’s DNA, and what is its purpose in our church? Why should someone attending our church or maybe even a member care that Living Waters is in our DNA as a church?

Well over a decade ago, Jeff Comeaux, then an assistant pastor, brought back the Living Waters program to our church from a training that he attended.  Jeff shared how this training had already been transformational to him in the area of inner healing, relationships and freedom from brokenness/patterns.  As he shared with our then lead pastor, Dave Groff, and the leadership team, it became clear that as a church, we wanted to dive into this program. Much like is happening with Be The Bridge currently, members of our church were asked to help run the pilot program and test out if this program could fit into our newly budding church.  

After running the program as a pilot, it quickly became clear that we wanted Living Waters to be a part of who we were at the Door. The leadership and many other members agreed with Jeff that this program, as we experienced it for ourselves, was what we needed; a cohesive template for inner healing, tools and freedom within the local church.  Through biblical teaching, small group prayer ministry, practical application, and the forming of lifelong tools, the Living Waters program gave us a format for what we had been longing for.

Living Waters also truly helped us on the journey of an “us and them” mentality that so many in the church suffer when it comes to sin and brokenness.  Some of us had massive amounts of brokenness from abuse, sexual sin, broken relationships etc, that led to “major sins” in our lives like divorce, sexual promiscuity, same-sex struggles, eating disorders, and more…. But some in Living Waters had more “normal” struggles, like an inability to connect in relationships, struggles with intimacy, struggles to forgive, judgement etc…  

For the first time, through this program, our sin, shame and struggles were all equalized before the cross because we all needed Jesus to heal us. This was amazing, because for the first time there was a place, in the church, for all of us to belong before we got all “cleaned up”. We could own our broken stories, not hide them.

After leaders were trained in the program, we began running Living Waters in our church, and have consistently run a program every other year since.

So that’s how Living Waters got into our DNA, but what is its purpose and function?   Living Waters is not a fix-it program. It does not “heal you.” Living Waters teaches, instructs, and provides a safe space to heal and grow.  But most of all, it provides a template for the rest of life.

Sheldon Miller said, “Living Waters has given me so many tools that I live by everyday.   It has given me confidence to grow in who I am in Christ. Through prayer and teaching, it has allowed me to break generational sins and become more reliant on God and to know and understand him more fully.”

Living Waters teaches us that BECAUSE most of our wounding has come from, ahem…people, so too will our healing… God will use other people to be “Jesus with skin on.” 

Mindy Hostetter said “Living Waters has given me the tools to be able to walk in greater healing and deeper relationships with others.”

Living Waters helped the Door embrace and embody two of the most valuable parts of our identity – authenticity and vulnerability, not for “being real” sake, but for the sake of becoming more like Jesus.  For the sake of freedom, our own and the world’s.

Becky Powell, member at the Door, and one of the founding members of the Be The Bridge Team, shared this about her experience with Living Waters.  “I know that LW is the FIRST reason God guided me to the Door Christian Fellowship even though I was here for 5 years before I actually learned about LW.   Living Waters was a safe and supportive place for me to heal from my brokenness. After participating in LW, I was able to recognize and accept that God had forgiven me; I could let go of the shame and guilt and forgive myself.”

If you are at the Door, the fact that Living Waters is in our DNA matters to you because the program has given our church a template to love each other and the world through our brokenness.  Together we are growing as a church by being vulnerable, owning our sin, forgiving others sin, and holding space for each other in our wounding. Together we go through this mess toward Jesus – toward and into redemption and restoration.  This template is a template for life on mission, and it has directly paved the way for us to embrace exactly where we are now as a church.


Thank you Jena for sharing. The Living Waters Program will be offered again, Fall 2018. Stay tuned for details.

 

Ministry of Reconciliation

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One of the ways Life on Mission is currently lived out at The Door is through the Be the Bridge team and the pilot group, starting soon. Today Meredith Scott and the Be the Bridge team share the history and heart behind the ministry.


The past two weeks have been important moments for The Door.  Members of the congregation first attended various churches within our community, and then came back together this Sunday for a time of communion and sharing.

 As we shared our experiences worshipping alongside brothers and sisters in Christ outside of The Door, people with whom we are deeply connected through common faith and humanity, I was struck by God’s vision for His kingdom.  Often, when we use the term ‘kingdom,’ the focus is on the heavenly kingdom.  But what held me captive on Sunday, and has stayed with me since, is His call for us to walk in justice and humility, and to love each other well while still on earth.  That we do not let walls of human creation divide us any longer.

Along those same lines, we learned a little bit about the upcoming Be the Bridge to Racial Unity pilot, which will run from late April until late June.  Be the Bridge is the next step in the journey God has ordained for The Door, one that will take time, courage, patience, and reliance on His power to transform us.  

Because Sunday might have been the first time that you heard about Be the Bridge, I’d like to take a moment to give you a little background on how we came to this place, God’s hand in the journey, and where we believe He is taking us.  

The seeds for Be the Bridge and beyond, were planted two years ago when Becky Powell and Tandy Hartman met with Jeff and the rest of The Door’s leadership.  They displayed courage and hope in following God’s prompting to share their experiences as women of color in America because, quite frankly, people can become wary or defensive when the topic of race is broached.  It is uncomfortable – many times we don’t know how to respond, are afraid of being offensive, or become defensive. Jeff, the elders, and deacons embraced wisdom and humility as they listened and interacted without self-defense.  

This meeting of minds and hearts represents the essence of Be the Bridge; authentic dialogue about racial inequality grounded in the biblical truth and love. When God orchestrated this meeting for Becky, Tandy, and the leadership, it was just the beginning.  Since then He has persistently and patiently drawn eyes and hearts back to Jesus’ own example and his commandment, found in John 13:34-35, to love one another.

Shortly after their meeting, Jeff and a small group of The Door members came together.  Over the next two years, the group regularly met, prayed, and wrestled with how to do the work that God has commanded.  It has not necessarily been an easy process, but God consistently has met us in our hurt and in our need for forgiveness, mercy, and grace.  

Knowing we could learn from those who have come before us, the group connected with Pastors Hank and Woody at Harrisburg Brethren in Christ, who have been diligently seeking God’s vision of a diverse kingdom united through Him for well over a decade. Our prayer has been that God would show us the way forward, that we can boldly and obediently follow his lead.  It has felt both overwhelming and exciting, and it has been abundantly clear that God is ordering our steps.

When we learned about Be The Bridge and its mission to facilitate racial reconciliation, we understood that this was God’s next step for The Door.  The program, which is biblically grounded, creates a safe space in small-group settings for conversations about race that help break down walls that separate us and instead build bridges.  There is no better way to explain its goal than to use the words of founder Latasha Morrison. Be the Bridge seeks to “achieve racial reconciliation as a reflection of our ministry of reconciliation in Christ” (BTB, 6).

For the pilot, we have brought together a small group of people willing to be vulnerable and also willing to help us work out the programmatic kinks, so that we can open the program to The Door and our communities.  We are grateful and ready to get started.

Reflecting on Jesus’ commandment in John 13 and the passage that Becca King read from Micah on Sunday, Be the Bridge gives us an opportunity to grow in our faith and become credible witnesses of God’s power to bring understanding, heal divisions, and pursue unity within the kingdom and in our communities. 

Please pray for Be the Bridge and its participants over the next weeks and months.  We also would love to hear from you and welcome any questions or input that you might have.

Meredith Scott & Be the Bridge Team


Thank you Meredith and team for sharing. We are excited about what God is doing.

 

Looking Back – Guatemala

 

This week we are going to take a look at one of the ways The Door has lived out Life on Mission. From 2009 – 2015 we were involved with the organization Food for the Hungry (fh.org) and the communities of Paapa and Chioya in Guatemala.

Erin Weaver and Karen Kaufmann were a part of the core group and traveled with many of the teams to Guatemala. The following is an interview with them about their time serving and representing our church, The Door, in Guatemala.

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1. Do you remember how C2C (Community 2 Community) and the connection with Food for the Hungry started?

Erin: C2C stands for Community to Community. I loved that name because the name itself just spoke of people helping people. Not an, us and them.

 Karen: Community 2 Community was a program offered through FH (Food for the Hungry) as a way for churches to sponsor communities that have signed up with FH to receive help in becoming self-sustainable. As a church, we had ended a book study called Hope Lives through Compassion Int’l, and there was a strong desire to be involved globally. FH aligned with our values of Making Friends and Connecting to Jesus as they focused on the relationship with Christ and others.

2. What did it look like from the beginning? Were there meetings? If so, how often and what did you do at the meetings?

Karen: We met twice a month on Sunday mornings over the 7 years, but typically took a month or two off after each trip. In the beginning, it was exploratory.  Getting to know FH, Guatemala, our communities, sponsoring children, planning for trips, praying for the communities, sharing/engaging with the church congregation, planning fundraisers and VBS (Vacation Bible School).

Erin: One of the first things they did was to go through a class called Poverty Unlocked.

3. What was the name of the area we supported in Guatemala, and in what ways did we support them during these seven years?

Karen: Sponsored children in Chioya; sponsored children and financed projects in Paapa. 

Projects: Sport court, Industrial sinks, Water filters, Helped build a middle school, a medical building, and a fence around the school.

Erin: Many families at The Door became sponsors of children from these villages.  The money sent to FH each month didn’t go directly to our sponsored child but to the community. Food for the Hungry works with teachers, community leaders, and families to better the community as a whole. They don’t want handouts, nor do they only want to pour money into making communities better. They pour time and love into them as well. They train elders and leaders and parents to be stronger role models, healthier people who are knowledgeable of the land they live on and the food they eat. And it’s done slowly, through relationship.

4. According to Karen, teams traveled to Guatemala in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015. What was the purpose of those trips and what are some of your memories from those times?

Karen: To be hands/feet of Christ, share about Him, show support, build relationships with FH staff and families in communities, cheerleaders from afar.

Many sweet memories of experiencing Guatemala together as a team; learning about a new culture, visiting my sponsored child, Ingrid, and getting to know her, and returning to see how God was growing and transforming lives and the community.

Erin:  The purpose of the trip was to build relationships. We were always told that relationship with the community members was much more important than getting the project done.

For every trip, we also planned a vacation bible school for 2-300 children.  As intensely chaotic as that was, that was probably my favorite part of the trip, every time, hands down. Kids want to learn, and they want to feel wanted. What better way to show them that in being thousands of miles from your home, just for them.

Our days looked like this :

Wake up in a beautiful country, new smells, and sounds. Eat a delicious breakfast with the team (including someone from FH) and then head out to the village. Once we got there, we split into two or three groups. Some of us stayed in the village to work on the project, and others visited sponsored families. Those visits were so special. The families, with the little that they had, welcomed us proudly into their homes. Most of the homes had dirt floors and some were barely more than one room, sometimes divided by a wall or curtain. Yet they invited us in, sat us down, and some fed us a meal (broth, potatoes, carrots, chicken, and tortillas). Others gave us a drink and/or snack. And then we talked and connected. We shared about our life, asked about theirs, exchanged gifts and blessings.

(I’m pretty sure I cried at some point during a lot of those visits :)) And then we were on our way to the next.

5. What are some difficulties the team faced, or difficulties in running a program like this?

Karen: Keeping the momentum of team and church participation.  We were a small team that didn’t change much. We didn’t do much in terms of vision or strategic planning or team development which I think hurt our progress.  Burn out occurred and we experienced the law of diminishing return in that it took more effort to keep momentum with less energy.

Erin: I don’t have specific memories of difficult times during the trip, other than once in a while having personality clashes with other team members. But even that was very rare. We were all in it together and learned to lean on the Lord and each other to get through the days.

And yes, there were sometimes stories that were really hard to hear, but in a lot of those, there was also a lot of hope.

6. If you were to create a group like this again, what would you keep, what would you do differently, and what should we, as a church, think of for future involvement?

Karen: Have a project charter that lists purpose, goals, expectations that are reviewed/updated on a somewhat regular basis.  Inspiring leadership with good project management is key. Maybe have temporary sub-teams for short-term projects within.

And for the future…Don’t hold back because of past experience. Treat it like a new opportunity, and allow God to guide and direct the purpose and goals.

Erin: Oh how I would love to do more global ministry like this!  I think the majority of our church really needs to be on board if we were to step into something like this again.

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One last thought from Erin as we remember our involvement with these communities, and keep them in our prayers.

Something that has stuck with me for many many years though…. more than once, as we were wrapping up a visit or just a conversation with someone from the village, they said, “don’t forget about us when you go home.” I wish I could assure them that they are forever seared in my heart. The best I can do now is pray.”

Thank you, Karen and Erin, for sharing. You are a blessing.

Karen and Erin Guatemala

Salt and Light

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Two weeks ago, Jon preached a sermon on salt and light taken from Matthew 5:13-16. We continued the conversation this week in our small groups.

I love that in our small groups we take the seed that was planted on a Sunday morning and go deeper. Instead of one person’s perspective, we now have five or six God speaks through.

The discussion included passages from John 13:34,35, 1 John 1:7, and Acts 2:42-47.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34,35

And

“All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had a need.” – Acts 2:44,45

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A couple weeks ago I was listening to a sermon by Francis Chan. He was preaching on these verses. He mentioned,”When was the last time someone walked into a church and was amazed by the people’s love for each another?” He went on to say, it is through our love for one another others will come to know Christ.

This statement challenged me. I do think we do a pretty good job of this at The Door, but there is always room to grow, right?

When was the last time you saw this kind of love happening in the church? Someone selling something and giving to another. Everyone having enough and giving freely. Eating together regularly. Praying together. Meeting together every day. Miraculous signs and wonders.

I want this kind of love, the love that changes us and those around us, love that inspires belief in the unbelieving.

Yet, practicing this kind of love is not always easy. This kind of love nudges us in the direction of that thing that feels so very hard to do. The love that says yes when our insides scream “no, it feels uncomfortable” or “it will take too much time” or “I have enough on my own plate right now.”

This is not meant to be judgement. It is what I am wrestling with, and what I hope we as a church body wrestle with too.  We can use tracts, evangelism, and activism to reach people but when it comes down to it…

Isn’t it Jesus love in us and for each other, that people will see and want?

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Next week’s post: Looking back at what “mission” has looked like at The Door – C2C and our involvement with Food for the Hungry.

Welcome to Life on Mission

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“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” –  Matthew 28:19, 20

Two years ago in January 2016, we went through a sermon series called, Life on Mission. This phrase became a tagline for how we do life as a church, and how we reach out to those around us.

The first life on mission sermon was based on the scripture Matthew 28:18-20. This is often referred to as “The Great Commission,” where Jesus tells us to “go and make disciples of all nations…” These verses are where the life on mission idea stems from.

The Life on Mission team defines the core idea of life on mission as the following:

As we go about our daily lives as individuals and as a church, living life on mission is to carry out the instructions of Jesus in making disciples. One of the ways we follow Jesus teaching, as a church family, is when we engage in our church mission of:

  1. making friends,
  2. connecting to Jesus
  3. changing lives

Some of the key points from the sermon series on this topic are the following:

  1. Life on Mission is in our going – it is not focused on bringing people to a building but how we are reaching people in our daily lives, in the places we already find ourselves.
  2. Life on Mission is praying.
  3. Life on Mission is serving like Jesus did and sharing about Him from a place of service.
  4. Life on Mission is allowing ourselves to grow and helping others to do the same.
  5. Life on Mission is simply living our lives and sharing in a way that others want what we have – a life with Jesus. It is not hitting people over the head with the bible or our message.

If you want to refresh your memory, you can click here to listen to the first message in the series.

When I hear the phrase, life on mission, my thoughts go to, “how am I reaching those who do not know Jesus or how am I feeding the poor?” These actions are definitely a part of life on mission, but this mission is also a matter of how do we grow as disciples and how do we help others to do the same?

In the following weeks, we will continue to look at life on mission and how it is a part of The Door. In following the rhythm of sabbatical our church is in right now we will,

  1. Look back at where we have been.
  2. Look at how we live this mission presently.
  3. Look forward to where we are headed.

We look forward to your input. Feel free to share in the comment section of this blog and if you would like to receive these posts in your inbox, click on the follow button and subscribe with your email.