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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Manna Saturday

This Saturday,December 15 from 9:30-11 a.m. Crooked Creek Baptist will be hosting Manna, a free hot breakfast for our local community.  In addition to the hot breakfast (breakfast casseroles provided by a number of different helpers this week), visitors will be able to shop from a small food pantry. 

AND- we will be sending home a snowflake to each visiting family that has been hand made by some of the the crafty women from our church!  It should be a great morning and we hope you will make an effort to join us for the food and to share with our visitors.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Eve Service

Crooked Creek Baptist would like to invite all its members, friends, and loved ones to a very special Christmas Eve service on December 24, at 7:00 p.m.  This year we will be partnering with the Iglesia Evangelica Cristiana Espiritual community, the Hispanic congregation that has been meeting in our building.  Christmas traditions from both communities will be shared as we hear the Christmas story from Scripture in two languages!  We hope you will make a special effort to be blessed by, and a blessing to our partners in ministry on this wonderful evening!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weapon of Prayer

Here is our version of Weapon of Prayer shared on November 11, 2012.  We do not usually do music this close to country/bluegrass but shared it as our tribute to our veterans.  The best way we can honor them is to work harder to bring peace into the world making their presence unnecessary for our defense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wSvm4b_feM&feature=youtu.be

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pulpit Exchange

This Sunday, November 18, Crooked Creek Baptist will welcome the Rev. L Bryant Parker, pastor of Witherspoon Presbyterian, to worship!  L Bryant will be preaching this Sunday at Crooked Creek Baptist while Pastor Tom will be leading over at Witherspoon Presbyterian.  This exchange marks the first formal connection between both churches as we begin the process of building and strengthening our relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ and seek out ways that we might be share our efforts to reach our local community for Christ.

We hope you will make an extra effort to be present in worship this Sunday to greet Rev. L Bryant and to hear the good news as God shares it through him. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Weapon of Prayer

Here are the lyrics for the song our worship team will be sharing this Sunday morning.  Special guest musicians Elena and Alex McGrath will be joining us on mandolin and violin.  We will start the service at 10:45 with this number!  Hope to have you join with us!
In that land across the sea there's a job for you and me
Though our presence there may not be found.
We must stay standing there on the battle lines and pray.
We must never lay our weapons down.

We don't have to be a soldier in a uniform
To be of service over there.
While the boys so bravely stand with the weapons made by hand
Let us trust and use the weapon of prayer.
 
 Many thousands miles away someone she'd their blood today.
With a heart so true and brave they're gone.
To a war that's yours and mine let us join the battle line
With a weapon that will save our home.

We don't have to be a soldier in a uniform
To be of service over there.
While the boys so bravely stand with the weapons made by hand
Let us trust and use the weapon of prayer.

And when the planes and tanks and guns have done all that they can do.
And the mighty bombs have rained and failed.
Still the helpful hand above has the weapon made of love
And against him none on earth prevail.

We don't have to be a soldier in a uniform...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2013 Financial Plan

Last week I sent out a note about our financial plan for 2013.  I praised the Leadership Council for their work in reducing the projected deficit from $32,000 to $18,000 and challenged our members to respond by raising our income in a similar amount.  And it is my hope that this note will help you with some concrete numbers and projections.

According to our records we have between 60-65 who support God's ministry at Crooked Creek Baptist.  Privately I have mentioned to a couple of them that when you break down the numbers, if 60 of those givers were to add a total of $25 to their giving per months, we would raise an additional $18,000 for the budget.  $25, less than a meal out for a family of four.  Since making this statement, I have had several of these people come back to me and explain that they talked it over and have decided that they are going to make this pledge, to increase their monthly giving by $25 per month.  One of these families even explained how they were not waiting for 2013 but were beginning this sacrificial giving immediately.

Could your family be next to take up this challenge?  For those of you who have not yet developed a habit of giving to support God's ministry, here is a simple challenge- contribute $25 a month to support the God's mission through Crooked Creek Baptist.  It might not be such a great sacrifice to you, but over time and with the gifts of others will help us to carry forward God's message of love and hope for the world!  Here is your chance to add more to our family of God!

Are you already a committed giver?  Is it possible to make a small sacrifice of something as simple as $25 a month?  Broken down even further that equates to about $6 a week..or the price of one lunch.  Such a small sacrifice from a collective group can make a tremendous difference in the life of our church family and its mission. 

Grace and Peace,

Tom

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sandy Relief

The response to the death and destruction caused on the eastern coast following Sandy has been strong and public. Federal and local responders have rushed to aid the survivors of this catastrophe and have made great progress helping to restore order and care for families affected by this storm.

American Baptists are responding to this tragedy as well. Funds from the One Great Hour of Sharing have already been committed to helping relieve some of the worst of this storm. Other organizations such as the Red Cross are also hard at work responding. Individuals interested in helping with relief can now make donations to a number of agencies involved with relief efforts.

Yet it is important for us to to be good stewards even with these donations. Before contributing to such an organization, it would be helpful to check into the organizations background to see how much of what you donate actually makes it to the people you are trying to assist. There are agencies out there that use funds you donate to cover costs of running an office, advertising and publicity, and sometimes even executive salaries. This means that sometimes less than 75% of what you give is actually used for the intended purpose.

Be informed. Ask questions. The One Great Hour of Sharing offering provides an opportunity for 100% of your donations to go toward relief of those affected by the storm. Additionally, American Baptists will not just care for those affected in the northeast, but all of those people affected in Haiti, Cuba, and the Caribbean. These areas feature many living below poverty and the savage nature of this storm can mean the difference between life and death.

Crooked Creek Baptist will be accepting gifts for the One Great Hour of Sharing:  Sandy Relief throughout the month of November.  Gifts can be marked in this manner and will be forwarded to help with both the short term and long term care and recovery of the regions affected by this terrible disaster.  Thanks to you for your prayers and support of our brothers and sisters in their time of need.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

2013 Budget

Copies of the proposed budget for 2013 are available through the church office.

I just wanted to express my appreciation publicly to the Leadership Council for their work compiling the budget and doing what they could to help balance our expenses to income for 2013.  What we failed to share at Sunday's business meeting was the fact that when they started to work, we were looking at another deficit around of $32,000 for 2013.  At our last meeting we as a Council agreed that this was too large a number to bring to the church.  With a lot of hard work we were able to shrink the projected deficit for 2013 to a number closer to $18,000 for the year.

While I am pleased by their work, I also think that there is more that we can do to help balance the budget.  One way to fix a deficit is to cut our spending, but another way is to increase our income.  This is why I am writing this to you.  Now, in most cases I am sure that you and your family carefully considered your giving for next year before making your pledge.  At Crooked Creek Baptist we have between 60-65 people who contribute to our budget every year and this is something to celebrate! 

Are you one of those?  If not, I would like to challenge you to consider supporting God's ministry here at Crooked Creek Baptist financially.  Our Scriptures testify to the generous nature of the God we serve and of the care for which God provides for our needs.  God challenges us to try tithing to see if "I will not open up the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10).  Here is a chance to respond to this challenge.

If you have not supported the God's ministry at Crooked Creek Baptist, would you consider it for 2013?  Would you be willing to put your faith in God in this manner?  God has promised to faithfully watch over us.  Are we willing to live according to that faith?

Are you the occasional giver?  Throwing in a couple of dollars on the occasions when you have the spare change...or giving when you remember to write the check before church?  Can you become a disciplined giver?  If God has responded to your occasional giving, what could we expect from regular giving?

I know many of you receiving this are our regular givers and some of you are already going beyond the tithe to sacrificial giving.  You have discovered the blessings already present in your life and are responding with praise and celebration of God's goodness!  It is my prayer that the blessings of faith, and the joy of this community will continue to be yours.

We are challenged to be good stewards of the resources God makes available to us.  We would do well to remember that God operates in a system of extravagant giving and bountiful blessings.  As we strive to become the community God has called us to be, we can look forward to a future full of Divine blessings!

Grace and Peace,

Tom

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Operation Snowflake

Attention all Crooked Creek Baptist crafty types!

On Saturday, November 3 beginning at 10 a.m. you are invited to join us at church to help create a special snowflake!  Crafters will be given the supplies (cardboard, material, and bonding agent), technical instructions, and hands on support to create these beautiful snowflakes! 

These works of art will then be used to bless some of our homebound members and our Manna visitors!

There is no fee for this craft/mission project and volunteers staying past lunch are encouraged to bring a sack lunch.  This would be a great event to invite a friend or family member to join you!

No need to register for this event, but if you have questions or would like to see a prototype, please contact Marcia Scott!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Stewardship Letter



Dear members and loved ones of Crooked Creek Baptist Church,

I want to offer you a special invitation to join us in September for a series of services that will focus on our stewardship of God’s creation.  Beginning on September 9 we will focus on our call to be good stewards of this world God has presented to us.

What is stewardship?  Merriam-Webster defines it as:

the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care

Historically speaking from Wikipedia:

stewardship referred to the occupation of a steward.  Initially, stewardship was the responsibility given to household servants to bring food and drinks to a castle dining hall. The term was then expanded to indicate a household employee's responsibility for managing household or domestic affairs. Stewardship later became the responsibility for taking care of passengers' domestic needs on a ship, train and airplane, or managing the service provided to diners in a restaurant. The term continues to be used in these specific ways, but it is also used in a more general way to refer to a responsibility to take care of something belonging to someone else.

One of the most dramatic understandings of stewardship then, reminds us that we are entrusted with the care of God’s creation as stewards- we have no ownership of creation or claim upon it as property but have been called to care for creation in the name of God.  We are going to explore this concept on two consecutive Sundays with this focus:

September 9
Scripture:  Genesis 1:26-31
Title:  Creation’s Stewards

September 16
Scripture:  Matthew 25:14-30
Title:  Talented People

These two stories from the Old and New Testament will help us to develop a further understanding of the blessings of being entrusted with something as precious as God’s creation.  I would like to personally invite you to join us for worship this month as we explore this concept together.  I hope that together we can discover the joy of this Divine appointment over the world God has created for us!

Yours in Christ,


Tom Bartley, Pastor

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Associational Meeting

Crooked Creek Baptist will be hosting the Freedom Association Annual Meeting on Saturday, September 15 at 2:00 p.m. Our new executive minister, Rev. Soozi Ford will be the speaking and a business meeting will also take place.

Following the meeting a light meal will be served.

Crooked Creek Baptist is a part of the Freedom Association of American Baptist Churches of Indiana and Kentucky and all members of our church are welcome to attend this meeting.  This would be a great time to meet with other churches in our association as well.

Monday, August 20, 2012

International Missionaries visiting Crooked Creek Baptist

To kick off our Well series this year, we will be hosting American Baptist International Missionaries Carlos Bonilla and Mayra Giovanetti on Thursday, September 20!

Carlos Bonilla and Mayra Giovanetti with their children were in Spain alongside the churches of the Baptist Evangelical Union of Spain in their Ministries to migrants, Preparing curriculum materials, and Training lay and pastoral leaders in the local churches. They have been long-term missionaries serving through our mission society since 2000. This third term in Spain followed two terms in Chile.

Recently the family has returned to the United States and will be sharing information about how God has worked in their mission work in Chile and Spain and their hope for a new possible assignment to continue to being God's Word into the world.  

This evening will start with dinner at 5:45 followed by the program at 6:30 in which the Bonilla-Giovanetti family will share their experiences with us.  This is a great way to kick off our pre-Well meetings and hear about mission work across the world.

We hope you will join us for this great evening!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Nerftastic Adventures

Crooked Creek Baptist will be offering Nerftastic Adventures on Sunday, September 16 from 4:30-7:30 p.m. for all children and youth!  Participants will be invited to bring their own Nerf equipment (some will be available at the church) for three hours of gaming and fun (and somewhere in there we will have dinner too!).  Friend are welcome at this special event!  Cost for the event will be $4 to cover the meal (no charge for guests). Please register for this event by Sunday, September 9 at Rainbow Hall, by calling the church office (251-7804), or by emailing Pastor Tom Bartley (tbartley@ymail.com)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Well- Fall 2012 Series

Crooked Creek Baptist will offer its Well series beginning on Thursday September 27 and running on Thursday evenings through November 15. Our evening together will start with a low cost meal at 5:45 p.m. and classes for all ages will begin at 6:30. This cycle our children and youth are invited to participate in our MAD (Music, Art, and Drama) camp that will meet at this time. Training and opportunity to share artistic gifts will be provided in this setting (led by Jessica Bartley) with the final presentation taking place in Sunday morning worship on November 18! Our adults, led by Pastor Tom, will have an opportunity to focus on and consider aspects of our own Baptist faith and how it applies to our life. You may register for these events beginning this Sunday or by calling the church office to register your family for classes and meals! We hope you will join us!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Rev. Don Scott Retirement Reception

This Saturday, August 11 from 2-4 p.m. Crooked Creek Baptist will be hosting a retirement reception for Area Minister Don Scott. This will be a time for us to express our appreciation for all of Don's work across the years in missions, stewardship, and now as a resource minister for the Region of Indiana and Kentucky. Following the time of fellowship participants will be invited to meet in the sanctuary for a celebration service.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Triad Fellowship Dinners: We have now posted a sign up sheet in Rainbow Hall for our Triad Fellowship Dinners. The idea is simple: Your family is partnered with two other families from the church for a three month period of fellowship meals. This commitment is for triads to eat together at least once a month for the next three months (August-October). The good news is that your triad gets to decide where and what to eat! Grill out or dine out, fancy or basic, exotic or traditional- your triad sets the day, time, menu, and location for each monthly meal! The purpose of these triads is to further develop the fellowship of Crooked Creek Baptist Church. Fellowship around the dinner table is an established Biblical and contemporary method for spiritual growth- in some ways you really don't know a family until you have sat down to a meal together. To sign up for these meals, please register your family in Rainbow Hall by Sunday, July 29. From there Triads will be set and notified so that they can begin setting their calendars! At the end of this event we plan to ask our Triads to report on their experience of this time together!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Crooked Creek Baptist Church will be hosting Vacation Bible School from Monday, July 16 through Friday, July 20 from 9 a.m. til 12 noon each day. This year we will feature a Safari themed program entitled, Kingdom of the Son. Registration forms for children ages preschool through 6th grade are available through the church office. There are still a few places open for adult volunteers as well. Volunteers should contact Jessica Bartley about their interest. Hope to see you, your children, or kids from your neighborhood here all week!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

175th Anniversary Invitation You are invited to attend Crooked Creek Baptist Church's celebration of 175 years of ministry on Sunday, June 10, 2012. 175 years ago a group of believers gathered to establish this ministry and prayed over this idea. On June 10 we will celebrate the faithfulness of God in our 175 years of service and ministry. There will be a special combined Sunday School class beginning at 9:30 a.m. (led by Pastor Tom), the 10:45 worship service will feature some very special guest musicians, speakers, and surprises for those in attendance! Following the worship service we will offer a community fellowship meal down in the fellowship hall. If you are planning on attending this meal, please let us know by calling the church office at 251-7804. We will not just be celebrating 175 years of ministry- we will be celebrating 175+ years of God's Presence with us!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Just a reminder that Anglican Priest Andrew White will be visiting Crooked Creek Baptist on Wednesday, May 2 at 1:30 p.m. Canon White has served as pastor and chaplain of St. George's Church in Baghdad, Iraq and will be sharing information about Christian-Muslim issues related to the nation of Iraq. A question and answer session will follow. This even is free and open to the public. You can find more information about Canon White's ministry at frrme.org

Monday, April 16, 2012

Manna Breakfast

Crooked Creek Baptist will be serving our Manna Breakfast for the community this Saturday, April 21 from 9:30-11 a.m. There is no cost for this breakfast and visitors will also be able to take home a small bag of groceries to help stretch their home food budget!

New Member Luncheon

This Sunday, April 22 immediately following worship all members are invited to join us down in the Fellowship Hall for a Pitch In Luncheon where we will recognize our new members. Please plan to bring a dish to share! See you Sunday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Recommendation

Minutes from Leslie Estate Mission Meeting, April 9, 7:00 p.m:

Those in attendance: Joy Amick, David and Etta Mae Hays, Susan Matthews, Barb Thompson, Dave and Sue Staton, Don and Marcia Scott, Jim Hickey, Tim Chase, Doug Willey, Tom Bartley

This group recommends that 10% of the final Ted Leslie Estate distribution, totaling $29,000 be distributed as missions to the follow groups/organizations:

American Baptist Missions:

Regional Mission Offering: $3000
Camps (split equal between 2 camps) $3000
One Great Hour of Sharing $2000
Edna Martin Christian Center $3000
Camp support for EMCC children $1500

Missionary Support:

Bolick Family: $2000
Bonilla- Giovanetti Family: $2000
Cetola Family: $2000
Cvelich Family: $2000

Miscellaneous Ministries/Missions:

Wycliffe: $2000
The Lord’s Pantry: $1000

Crooked Creek Baptist:

New Mission/Ministry: $5500

Total: $29,000

This recommendation will be brought before the church at the April 15 business meeting.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Leslie Mission Fund Disbursement Meeting tonight

Reminder that there will be a meeting this Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. to make recommendations to our Crooked Creek Baptist family on how to disburse 10% of the final Ted Leslie Estate funds. Anyone interested can meet in the Fellowship Hall at this time.

Hope to see you then!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vicar of Baghdad visiting Crooked Creek Baptist

On May 2 at 1:30 p.m., Crooked Creek Baptist will host Anglican Priest, Andrew White. Sometimes called the Vicar of Baghdad, Canon White has been serving in Baghdad, Iraq since 1998. There he leads St. George’s Church, one of the largest churches in Iraq. Canon White has also been involved with conflict mediation in Iraq having served with the US Military and the Department of Defense. A full biography for Canon White can be found at www.frrme.org. Canon White will be sharing some of his work with religion and diplomacy in the Middle East as well as efforts to bring about peace in the area with the Indianapolis community at this gathering. This event is open without cost to the Indianapolis community. Crooked Creek Baptist Church is located at 5540 N. Michigan Rd. Interested parties may contact the church directly for information at 317.251.7804

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 15 Business Meeting

Just a reminder that Sunday, April 15 immediately following worship will be a quarterly church business meeting. Recommendations from two separate teams are on the agenda that include the disbursement of mission funds from the Ted Leslie Estate and a proposal relating to our church custodians. All church members are invited and welcome to participate in this decision making process!

April 15 Youth offerings

April 15 will be a full day for the children and youth of Crooked Creek Baptist.

Immediately following the regular worship service, children from grades K-5 are invited to the Lunch Bunch. Children will need to bring their own lunch downstairs to Fellowship Hall where they will eat before departing for the Indianapolis Museum of Art (weather permitting, this will be visiting the outdoor exhibits). They will return to the church by 1:30 p.m. Jessica Bartley will be coordinating this event.

Youth in grades 6-12 are invited to join Tom Bartley for lunch immediately following the scheduled business meeting. We will head to a local Chinese Buffet that features a Mongolian BBQ!! Youth must register with Tom IN ADVANCE for this event. Funds for this meal will be covered by Pastor Tom.

Maundy Thursday Service

This Thursday, April 5 at 7 p.m., Crooked Creek Baptist will be offering its Maundy Thursday service to the community. Designed around the Passion narrative of the gospel of Matthew, this service will focus on the events that led to Jesus' death on the cross. This special service will feature communion, hymns, Scripture readings, and some reflective thoughts for the community to consider during this Lenten season. The conclusion to this service will be featured on Sunday morning at the 10:45 Resurrection Celebration worship service!

Monday, March 26, 2012

The King is Coming

This Sunday our Chancel Choir will present the cantata, "The King is Coming." Under the direction of Lois Roberts the cantata will share music and narration about the miraculous events in Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Crooked Creek Baptist welcomes a very special guest as narrator, Shannon Wise!

This would be a great event to invite your friends, family, and neighbors to attend as it promises to be a fantastic celebration of the risen, living Savior! The service begins at 10:45 a.m. Hope to see you here!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ABY this Sunday

ABY will meet this Sunday, immediately following worship! Kids in grades 4-7 are invited to bring a sack lunch for after the service. Marji Emerson will be leading us in some thoughts and activities about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! Parents can pick their youth up at 1:30 p.m.

Monday, March 19, 2012

School Supplies for Tornado Victims

The 3rd grade elementary school students at Crooked Creek Elementary are collecting school supplies to send to the children who have been affected by the recent rush of tornadoes that damaged several communities in southern Indiana. Crooked Creek Baptist has been invited to participate in this drive by third grader Shaun Whitlow. Shaun and his family are members of Crooked Creek Baptist and by their invitation we will be collecting school supplies to send to students in these communities. Such items accepted would be:

Backpacks
Pencils
Pens
Erasers
Small school boxes
Markers
Crayons
Scissors
Folders
Notebooks
Paper (lined)

Donations can be deposited in Pastor Tom's office on Sunday mornings or in the church office during the week!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Welcome new member

Crooked Creek Baptist would like to welcome Shone (pronounced Shawna) Tucker who stepped forward this Sunday to express her desire to unite with us in Christian fellowship. Shone is the mother of 2nd grade TJ who is a student at Crooked Creek Elementary. Welcome Shone and TJ to our family!

Monday, February 13, 2012

American Baptist Youth

We would like to introduce our church family to the newest ministry at Crooked Creek Baptist Church! It is called American Baptist Youth (Youth) and is a ministry designed for young people in grades 4-6. At this meeting parents, youth, and leaders committed themselves to once a month meetings on the 4th Sunday of every month (these meeting times are subject to expanding down the road) and will focus on helping youth and their families to grow in Christ and in their spiritual understanding of God's call to us all!

These meetings will take place on Sundays, immediately following the worship service. ABYers are asked to bring a lunch that day. After eating our ministry will run until 1:30.

New member

Crooked Creek Baptist welcomes new member, Cathy Price, who came forward to join in Christian fellowship with us this past Sunday, February 12, 2012. Cathy is the wife of another recent member, Steve Price, and has been participating in our regular worship services and our Tuesday afternoon ladies Bible study. Welcome to the family, Cathy!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Well Spring 2012 Series

Beginning on Wednesday, February 22 we will begin our Spring Well series at Crooked Creek Baptist. Each week we will begin our meeting with a low cost dinner ($1.50 for kids, $2.50 for adults with a family maximum donation of $6 for families) at 5:45 p.m and will follow dinner with a time for education at 6:30 p.m.

The Well series will feature a series of exercises designed to enhance and develop our spiritual lives! During these meetings we will explore classical and contemporary spiritual exercises with the goal of improving our spiritual awareness of God’s love in our lives. These exercises can be shared with everyone in your family regardless of age or the size of your family! These meetings will take place in the Fellowship Hall immediately following dinner.

We will work on defining a spiritual life and practice such forms as praying the Scriptures, Walking the Labyrinth, and explore spirituality in stories/story telling. We hope that you will join us to be blessed in your spirit!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Awakening

At our last Leadership Council meeting the Council approved our participation in Awakening,a program being offered by our Region. A link with details about this program are available on our blog in a side window.

There is room for 5 lay people and the pastor to be part of such a program. If you would like to be considered for one of these spots, please contact Pastor Tom.

Thanks

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Prayer Request

Prayer Request: Late yesterday afternoon, Phyllis Goodyear (ABC-IN/KY Region Ministry Staff) was involved in an automobile accident. Her injuries include six broken ribs and shattered tibia and fibula in her left leg. They were talking about transferring her from St. Francis to Methodist last night for further evaluation and surgery. Her sister, Jan has been right there with her. The thing they both need most right now is PRAYER. With so much going on, it’s difficult to talk with people right now, so I wanted to suggest that those that know Jan & Phyllis would send cards and notes to the Region Office (1350 N. Delaware St, Indpls, IN 46202) for us to deliver as the whirlwind settles. Please keep both Phyllis and Jan in your prayers.

Phyllis was here with us this past Sunday...

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Death of the Church

Acts 5 tells an interesting story about Ananias and Sapphira. This is the couple who sold a piece of property and agreed to withhold some of the proceed when they brought it to the disciples for distribution. Ananias was challenged by Peter, who explained that Ananias had not lied to him, but to God. The resulting revelation led to Ananias' death. Later his wife came in and met the same fate because she too could not be honest before God.

Now, as easy as this statement is to link to a story on tithing and stewardship before God, I also believe that its a lesson that the modern, established church would do well to remember and re-visit. I always wonder what made this unfortunate couple decide to withhold part of this gift. Were they worried? Scared? Selfish? Was there a lack of faith? In some ways I think all of these issues helped contribute to their foolish decision. Holding back from God, whatever part of ourself that we do whether financial, physical, or emotional seems to be a path that will lead us toward death.

And yet, I am afraid that this is exactly what some of our current churches do. Especially those "establishment" churches that have long and sometimes grand histories (at least in their opinion). There is an ongoing question being asked in the fellowships today of how to increase our membership. How can we get young people to come and support our local church. (This is true for other organizations as well, not just church.) I would offer that this question is closer to the thought process of Ananias and Sapphira, and is a dangerous question for a church to tolerate.

For what is at the heart of such a question: How can we get people come to church? Church seems to be the focus of this question, lifted up as the paramount goal of such a person/community. What is important in this question is the survival of the local church in whatever form the questioner perceives it. Most important to the questioner is the state of this "church". There is more to it than this, the questioner is also asking, "How can I get people to come and support something that is important to me so that they can help me preserve and extend this entity that is so important to me?" See the issue here?

This question reveals a self-interested goal. It exposes the selfish nature of survival. How can I preserve that which is important to me, and how can I convince others that this is so important that they should agree with me and work to help preserve it? Is there any wonder why this question is usually asked by a dying church. I believe this is a question that the contemporary Ananias would ask. Its hard to condemn such a question since it could that this comes out of one's own fear and concern for the local church. There is an aspect of love in trying to preserve something so important that others too might have a chance to respond to the blessings of church life.

So while I will indict the questioner for such a question, I will not indict the love they have for others. Yet we must come to understand the fruitless nature of such a conversation. Asking how others might come to help us runs contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ who came to serve and not be served. The Great Commission holds nothing in it about building large buildings and convincing others to help preserve them. Our call is to go and make disciples...

In the messages I have shared with our local church family I have invited them to turn the idea of bringing people to church on its head. Instead, we talk of bringing church to the people: to our families, our schools, our jobs, and our community. What we are really called to do is share this life changing love of God through Jesus Christ with those outside of our building. Our charge is to make this love known to people by caring for them, serving them, and thinking about them and their needs. A church who asks people to come to worship is revealing a selfish nature. A church who sends people out to care is living the gospel.

What would happen if our members were challenged to do something good for someone this week? Ask our bakers to bake a nice dessert or treat and deliver it to a neighbor for no other reason than to be neighborly? For us to offer a neighbor a helping hand even if it is something as simple as carrying in groceries for them, sweeping off a sidewalk, or making a delivering a casserole to a single mom and her family? And not to do so with an invitation to our church's service or with a tract about how to become a Christian- when we do this it makes the gift more about the giver than the gifted.

Its a simple piece to the puzzle but an important one. Let people know that they are important to God, loved by God, and that God has their best interests in mind.

When we ask people to come to our church. We ask them to believe a lie that we are more interested in them than our own self. This behavior, this mindset is what continues to paralyze and erode the established church.

And yet, we serve a God who specializes in resurrection. For every sin we make, every mistake we confess there always remains forgiveness and reconciliation. Though we might appear to be dying, the promise of Christ leads us to life in greater abundance. It is not too late to rescue this dying breed of church life. There is hope in the midst of decay that those who serve God will find life. But it will not be found in trying to rescue it out of death...life can only be found when we surrender it to our Savior.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

World Mission Conference returning to Greenlake, WI

Starting this year, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) will begin celebrating 200 years of global mission. “This is a remarkable occasion for IM. Not many mission agencies have been able to reach this milestone. We are indeed grateful for God’s leading and guidance during our 200-year history,” commented Reid Trulson, executive director. “We are honoring the past while moving forward into the future.”

IM’s overarching theme for the next three years is Mission to the Third Power or Mission3. U.S. and Puerto Rico churches, friends, missionaries, donors, ABC regional staff, volunteers and missionary partnership network members will begin seeing this theme on all IM materials starting in 2012. “We’re excited about Mission to the Third Power because it recognizes our missiology rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” commented Trulson.

IM’s 3-year bicentennial theme, Mission3, is a short hand way of expressing the following core ideas:

1. IM’s entrance into its third century of mission

2. The mission of our triune God

3. IM’s three-fold understanding of making disciples: helping people come to Christ, grow in Christ and change their worlds with Christ.

4. Three years of bicentennial celebrations, starting in 2012

5. Three mission foci: evangelism; health & healing; and anti-human trafficking

IM will kick off the three-year anniversary with a huge 7-day World Mission Conference (WMC) May 18 -25, 2012. After a six-year hiatus, the weeklong WMC is coming back to the Green Lake Conference Center in Green Lake, WI. The 2012 conference, which will include a 3-day call retreat, focuses on discerning God’s call to Christian service and how to make that call a reality. The theme for 2012 is Mission3: Hear the Call. (For more information go to http://www.internationalministries.org/read/38513-may-2012-hear-the-call.)

The “Call Retreat” portion of the WMC will be an experience designed to help individuals consider and discern God’s call to ministry in an international and cross-cultural setting or right here in the U.S. in pastoral leadership of a local church or missional engagement in local church communities. “International Ministries is moving into an era of renewed, proactive efforts to cultivate missionary candidates and match them with the invitations and opportunities from our international partners,” notes IM Director of Recruitment Jim Bell. “We are looking forward to meeting and interacting with persons whom God might be calling to step out into faith into new ventures of service.”

Moving forward into 2013, IM will be providing information about significant celebrations in Myanmar (Burma). Baptists in Myanmar are inviting American Baptists to their country to share in bicentennial celebrations. 200 years ago in 1813, American Baptist missionaries Adoniram and Ann Judson arrived in Burma as the first Protestant missionaries from North America. They translated scripture, led people to faith and helped establish churches, schools and medical work in Burma. The Judson’s mission and work inspired many Americans to hear the call to support mission and to become missionaries. Their ministry 200 years ago was an early part of the remarkable movement of people throughout S.E. Asia becoming followers of Jesus.

In June 21-23, 2013, American Baptists in the U.S. and Puerto Rico will gather in Overland Park, KS for the ABC Biennial meeting. IM will bring its global missionary focus to the Biennial, celebrating the missionary service of Adoniram and Ann Judson under the theme of Mission3: Embrace the Cause!

The year 2014 will include a grand finale: all the American Baptist missionaries will be brought back to the U.S. for a national bicentennial World Mission Conference to celebrate IM’s founding 200 years earlier in 1814 as the “General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America, for Foreign Missions” and to launch us into our “third century” of global mission. The conference will be held July 19-26 at the Green Lake Conference Center in WI. The theme for 2014 will be: Mission3: Rise to the Challenge!

For more information, or to use your financial resources to contribute the bicentennial events, please email david.worth@abc-usa.org.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Covenant Sunday

This Sunday, January 29, we will be talking about what it means to be a covenant people. Based on the life of Abraham in Genesis 17 we will explore God's plan for Abraham and his family in our regular worship service at 10:45 a.m.

Immediately following worship we will head downstairs for a Crooked creek community pitch in luncheon. Please bring a covered dish to share as part of this meal. Special guest visitors from our Regional office will be with us to help us discuss our understanding of God's covenant with Crooked Creek Baptist and our purpose for ministry together.

We hope you will make every effort to attend this important meeting as much the future work of our church family will be developed in this meeting!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

January 16- MLK, Jr Day of Service

We all know that the third Monday of every January is now a federal holiday! But don't use this as a day to take time off-- use it to take a day to serve! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"

Why not turn this into a day of service in your local community or neighborhood? Want some ideas? Check out these tools at: http://mlkday.gov/plan/actionguides/foundation.php

At Crooked Creek Baptist we will be celebrating on January 15 the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the legacy of non-violent service he offered to this country!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 29 Pitch In and Vision Casting

Remember that on Sunday, January 29 Crooked Creek Baptist will be focusing on its vision for our ministry into the future. Worship this day (and all month) will focus on this topic as we seek to discern God's call for our church family. Following worship on January 29 we will meet in the Fellowship Hall for a pitch in dinner, followed by a visioning meeting with some help from our Area Church Leaders to discuss how we might define and carry out God's vision for our community! We hope you will make every effort to attend this important day in the life of Crooked Creek Baptist!