Memo: Summer Schedule and Interns

summer-memo

Today, ABC will be shifting away from its summer intern program. ABC has cherished its relationships with its past interns. Last year’s interns, Katelyn and Elyse, have a special place in our hearts because they loved both our ABC church family and the Witkowski family well, writing notes, playing, and sharing the gospel. I can say with certainty that Katelyn and Elyse were true encouragers and rightfully hold a special place in the hearts of many of ABC’s members.

ABC began 2019 with every intention of continuing the Summer Internship program. April and I and many others of worked tirelessly to recruit interns for this summer, posting the position to several universities job boards and reaching out to contacts and potential interns in Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, New York, and Minnesota. We also shared the position repeatedly on social media. Though a handful of college students expressed initial interest, none have been able to commit to the internship. Consequently, ABC has decided to suspend the internship program for the summer and will reevaluate the program going forward. Ultimately, ABC would love to host one to two pastoral interns during the school year (September – May) believing a yearlong internship would foster deeper and longer relationships that would both bless ABC and the intern. The intern would work with the families of ABC, preach, visit, and study the Word and hopeful receive seminary credit through Southern Seminary or one of its sister’s institutions.
Though this summer has not played out as ABC planned, we know it has played out as God intended. Even in our disappointment, we can be sure of Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” We know Summer 2019 will be the best possible summer that we could ask for because our loving, gracious and good God reigns! We are excited to see God work in the days ahead!
In place of the ABC Kids program, ABC will be launching Wacky Wednesdays. On June 19, July 10, July 17, July 31. On those fours Wednesdays, our families will meet at ABC at 9:30 AM and will head out to Jump four really cool locations! For more info, click here

We also will be investing in the lives of our adult members, launching a new Bible Study! More information will be coming soon!

Church family get excited summer 2019 is almost here!

Why Don’t My Kids Go To Church?

KIDSWhy don’t my kids go to church? We could easily replace kids with spouse, friends, parents, neighbors, and host of other people. And then, we could ask the question again. Why do those who have been exposed to the gospel, ‘raised right,’ and know all the Sunday school answers drift away from the church?  They talk about getting back into church. But their alarms never go off, their cars never start, and their spot on the pew next to your’s remains empty. Why? Why don’t our kids and our loved ones come to church anymore?

Now before we dive into the topic, I want to acknowledge that this article has apathetic Christians in view. As the never ending news-cycle makes clear, some men and women leave their local church because their church ceased to be a biblical church. The local assembly went from sharing God’s love to spreading sin, caring little about those who were spiritually harmed and/or physically abused by its leaders. This article is not about those who have suffered under evil pastors and church leaders.  Rather, I want to prevent further abuse and will discuss that more below. Our focus is those who drift away.

God takes on the hearts of our apathetic children and loved ones in 1 Samuel 7. In the previous chapters, we read that Eli and his sons had sent the Ark of the Covenant, the judgement seat of God, into battle. The Ark was captured by the Philistines who obliterated the Israelite army. But the Philistines do not keep the Ark long. All the cities who hosted the Ark experienced plagues and death. After suffering under the hand of God for seven months, the Philistines send the Ark back to Israel. The people of Israel celebrate and then desecrate the Ark. Seventy men in Beth-Shemesh die. And the Ark is once again sent away. Little national thought is given to the worship of God for the next twenty years.

First Samuel 7:2 says, “From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”

What does all this have to do with our kids and loved ones who don’t attend church? Everything!

The Israelites grieved for 20 years. But they never worship God; they were worshiping their idols. In verse 1 Samuel 7:4 we finally read, “So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.” Though they had grieved much during those 20 years, they had not repented.

They same is true of our indifferent kids. They feel guilty about their lack of attendance stickers. They talk about returning to church. But they do not act on their guilt because they don’t love God. They are serving other idols, idols of the heart (Ez. 18). They live for money, houses, cars, vacations, the success of their kids, and the next thrill. They care little for God because God is not their master. Those who worship things other than God naturally have not time for worshiping God.

Those who have repentented, worship! After they Israelites repent they do church! In verse 6, we read,

So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.

When men and women repent of their sins. They worship God. They assemble together and pursue God with a unified zeal. Notice that the people of Israel have gone from worshiping idols to enthusiastically worshiping God. The are fasting and praying. And this is not an isolated act. Read the Gospels and the Book of Acts! Those who repent have an unending appetite for worship!

Those who love God do not come to church to get a favor from granddad, to impress a girl-friend, or to make mom stop nagging them. No, they come because they love God. They want to come. Bind believers in chains, and they will pull at them till they are once again free to worship with the people of God. Jesus affirms this passion in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

On the flip side those who have not repented, will not love church. They will find church judgmental, irrelevant, and boring. They will mourn their feelings of guilt but will never come to worship because their hearts serve another master.

If we or our loved ones care little for church, can never find time for the people of God, and think all that religious stuff is a superfluous nicety, we and they have a faith problem. We have a repentance problem. We have loved ones who claim Christ but do not know Him. 1 John 2:19 clearly states,

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Those who willfully and intentionally leave church because they are busy are not saved.

Now some of us our slow, to label our kids and loved ones as unbelievers. We saw little Johnny get baptized; we went on mission trips with Sally; and, we sang in the choir with Phil. Yes, they have absent from the church for 5, 10, 15 and even 20 years. But they lost a child, they went through a tough transition, and they are just so busy. Shouldn’t we seek to win them back into the church? Shouldn’t we try to reengage them by getting them to help with the ushers team or to serve as the Sunday school event planner?

No, friend we should not welcome those in unrepentant sin back into the church as if they never left. We should like Samuel call them to repent and then invite them to worship. Notice that the worship services resumed after the people turned from their idols and not before. If we neglect the doctrines of repentance, faith and sanctification, we will destroy the very churches we seek to save.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

When churches embrace cheap grace, they implode. Our churches are filled with evil men and women who stir up conflicts, who silence gospel preaching, and who abuse children and teenagers because we have embraced cheap grace. We have welcomed both those who hate sin and those who love sin into the heart of the church. Instead of practicing church discipline to help lost know they are lost, to protect the glory of God, and to defend the defenseless, many church leaders let both good and evil people come into the church and stay in the church. As a result, our churches are wrecked by all types of evil. Did not Paul write in 1 Corinthians 5:6, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?”

The same tragedy occurred in ancient Israel. Eli refused to discipline his wicked sons. Because Eli looked the other way when sinners entered God’s house, God’s house became of place of physical abuse, sexual immorality, and drunkenness (1 Samuel 2:12-3). Eventually, Eli’s ministry and family were undone by sinners masquerading as the servants of God. Can we repeat Eli’s failures and hope to escape his judgement?

Instead of wishing for a reality that does not exist, we need to treat our children like unbelievers they profess to be by their works. We need to lovingly call them to repentance at every divinely appointed opportunity. We need to mercifully warn them that their works point to damnation and death. And if they refuse to hear us and are members of our church, we need to practice church discipline.

Our kids and loved ones don’t come to church any more because they don’t love God. Are we ready to deal with this reality? Are we ready to pray for them, to evangelize them, and to discipline them?

The Amazing Interns of 2018

katelyn-elyseElyse Devries and Katelyn Rahn were amazing examples of service and love this summer. They jumped into Vacation Bible School planning the moment they arrived. They prepared crafts, studied for lessons, and help decorated the church. During their summer office hours, they study intently to prepare for ABC Kids and for children’s church, seeking to reach our kids through relatable stories, fun crafts, and helpful object lessons. They happily took on each and every other task or need that came their way. They planned trips to the WARF, Fun Land, and Skye Zone. They bought groceries, read six books, ran power point, researched child-safety protocols, babysat so April and I could counsel, sang in the choir, lead special music, and wrote notes. And of course, they took a pie to the face! Kids ministry 101!

Their work ethic was only surpassed by their love for the Lord and by the love for others. Elyse and Katelyn got excited when they started to discuss the Word and ministry. Their highlight of the summer was hearing a child say, “I finally understand the gospel.” And they loved others. All summer long, I heard little voices asking, “Are Mrs. Elyse and Mrs. Katelyn going to here tonight?” The kids shared stories with Elyse and Katelyn, showed them tricks, and wrote them cards. The kids knew they were loved and responded in kind. And we as parents were blessed to see others taking a loving interest in our kids.

When this summer began, I did not know what to expect. Over a period of a month, ABC had gone from having one intern, to no interns, to half an intern, to two interns, to one, and back to two. Neither Elyse, nor Katelyn, nor I knew what to expect. Most every aspect of the program as new for one if not all of us. Yet despite the uncertainty, ABC had an amazing summer filled with gospel teaching, laughter, and fun. Elyse and Katelyn were a blessing to both ABC and to my family. God sent ABC the perfect interns for the summer of 2018.

I eagerly look forward to seeing how God works through Awana which kicks off on September 16. Yet, I know ABC will miss Elyse and Katelyn. You guys embraced our ABC, loved us well, and have undoubtedly left a happiest of marks on our church family. We are sad to see you guys go but are very excited to see what God has planned for you.

Thank you guys for an amazing summer! God bless!

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