Thursday, January 27, 2011

Micro-church..aka House Church

I came home from my classes today feeling fairly under the weather. Not terrible by any means but headache, stuffy nose, etc. I took a long nap and now I have a cup of tea and thought that I would enjoy spending some time writing on my blog. I decided to tell you guys about a new adventure that might be on our family's horizon.

We have been going to Vineyard Community Church, here in Cincinnati for just a few months. Its a large church, I think 8,000 people but is doing some amazing things in the community around them. That's is why we love it there. They are actively reaching out. One of the other things that really got us stuck on their vision is that they aren't trying to bring people into their doors but instead are actively figuring out ways they can TAKE Jesus to the people of Cincinnati. So a couple things they are doing in the next few months are starting two new campuses, Uptown and Middletown and also starting 10 micro-churches (also known as house churches). Let me just step to the side for a minute and say that the coolest thing about this whole process is that they felt God calling them to do it and so they are "Praying, and Going". They took the steps and are just doing it without having any idea how it will all happen. I love it! They didn't make a 50 step plan in order to make sure they had enough money, people, resources etc. But they just said God is calling us lets pray and do it!

When Mark and I moved to Cincinnati we had a vision of what we wanted and felt church should be in our lives. It was all of the Acts 2 principles. Meeting together, eating together, teaching, prayer, fellowship, giving to one another etc. We wanted something on Sundays that was more than just sitting and listening, we wanted to do life with people. And we wanted that to be our church. We also really valued the idea of meeting in homes. We know a lot of people who would come to church if it was in a home with food. So anyways, God really started this journey in us of seeking him on church and what direction we should go. The first Sunday we went to Vineyard they talked about the micro-churches they were going to start. And the things they wanted them to be matched exactly our list of what we desired church to be. So we went to the meetings, we prayed and we turned in a little application/get-to-know-us/why do you want to do a micro-church and then left it up to God. Well there were 40 people who did what we did and the leaders said they were going to pray over them and get back to us. Well, they feel like we have the gifts and skills to lead a micro-church and have told us they would like to move forward with us. They have never met us, so I feel so very confident that God is all over this we felt pretty confidentially that this is the type of thing God had been calling us to do. Isn't it so cool how God works everything out?

So we will be meeting with them soon and making sure it will work and that our visions all line up but we are super excited. We will watch a video message from the Vineyard each week, and we will still be under their leadership in every way. But we will meet in homes and have a very missonal/outreach focus. At this point we are leaning towards young marrieds and couples as our focus but we don't really want to exclude people so we have to work that out still.

So its lots of excitement and also a little apprehensiveness. I keep thinking what if no one comes? Or can we really have church in our home!? But it is really exciting. So you can pray about the journey ahead and what God will do with it but we are super excited to see whats next. Here is Vineyards vision for their church--I love it so I wanted to share it!!

The Vision
Imagine a ragtag collection of surrendered and transformed people who love
God and others. They are mesmerized by the idea that this is not about them,
But all about Jesus. They are transfixed by His story and His heart for their city.
They are seedthrowers and firestarters, hope peddlers, and grace-givers,
Risktakers and dreamers, young and old. They link arms with anyone who tells
the story of Jesus. They empower the poor, strengthen the weak, embrace the
outcast, seek the lost. They serve together, play together, worship together, live
life together. Their city will change because God sent them.
They are us.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lessons learned

So as I venture into 22 weeks of pregnancy, I am finding one lesson has come up again and again. This is not the first time in my life that this lesson has sprung into my life. It is though, the first time I have seen the difference and desperately wanted to be different.

It has to do with being positive, content and thankful in every situation. During pregnancy there is so much excitement but there is also a lot that doesn't feel awesome. A lot of things that you could dwell on and complain about. And then when you begin to think about what life will be like when the baby comes it is easy to think of things to dread, be sarcastic about and even afraid of. I had decided at the beginning of pregnancy that I really wanted to be really positive about the whole thing--I mean I have a miracle of a child GROWING inside of me. How can that be bad? Yes there are hard days, but I wanted the miracle of it all to trump any negative emotions or need to complain.

I haven't been perfect and I have had a lot of bad days of being caught up in how I feel and not about why i feel that way. But what has been the hardest is the massive amount of negative and sarcastic comments from every one who was ever a mom. If they don't have something great to say about pregnancy they definitely have their two cents on being a mom of a new born. Now believe me I get the reality of having a child as much as I can right now. I know it will be hard, sleepless and stressful. But it is a child and I REFUSE to spend my life dwelling on all the bad. And one thing I really want to be is an ENCOURAGEMENT to new moms. I do not want to point out everything that is awful about being a parent.

Here are some of things I have been told about pregnancy and parenting. These have all been told with laughs and sarcasm but I will say that they have not once encouraged me. If these things I am going to list are all that I have to look forward to I never would have gotten pregnant....

You will never eat a hot meal again
You will be exhausted all of the time and never sleep
You will never celebrate a birthday again--its all about the kids from here on out
You won't have any money because kids are so expensive (news flash--we got the "no money" thing down)
By the end of pregnancy you will be huge and miserable
And the list goes on...

So, definitely not encouraging to someone who is so looking forward to one of the most exciting seasons of life. Why do so many moms feel this way? Will I join the crowd after 18 years of parenting? Let try to change. Lets not scare moms when they are already entering into one of the most unknown seasons of their life. There is a fine line between preparing a friend for being a parent and just being negative. How about talking about the joy of feeling your baby moving inside of you for the first time--instead of how hard it is to sleep when the baby is ALWAYS kicking. Or how about the fact that your baby literally was the size of a bean 15 weeks ago and now weighs a pound and it all happened inside of you---instead of how big and disgusting you will feel! I want to be real, and I want to be honest with people but at the same time encouraging and loving.

The bible says to think upon whatever is noble, pure and noteworthy.

I told Mark the other day that if everything that has been said up until this point is completely true than I might as well resign to a tired, hungry, poor and miserable life. And go ahead and change my name from Jenny to "babys mom" because I will no longer have any life or identity outside of that.

I want to love my child and be the best mom I can and with the help of my amazing husband I am sure we will do just that. I am also sure we won't sleep a lot, I will eat some cold meals, and I will become much less self-focused and much more others focused. But I am doing all of this because of the precious life growing inside me NOT because I signed up for a horrible, terrible life of parenting!

*****I write all of this, not to act as though I am better and never do any of the above things. One of the reason this stuff bothers me so much is because I often find myself caught in the trap of only talking about the negative things in life. I want so badly to change and want to encourage others also to be more positive. This is not meant to be condemning but rather slightly comical and me just venting with a problem that my life is plagued with inside and out. Please hear my heart, in just wanting to focus on the miracle of life*****
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