Authentic Relationships

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WordServe is amazing. It’s a small church with a family feel, and a big reason for that is community groups. Community group is where we have experienced the most depth, challenge, and growth in our faith. We have learned two big lessons in our five years at WordServe for thriving in community.

First, we had to have realistic expectations for authentic relationships. Sometimes the impression can be that as soon as you enter a community group, you will have an instant, fully-invested community. To be honest, we were not always perfectly thriving in our groups. Groups, like friendships, can be tough and take time to grow. Brand new groups, especially, struggle at first to find their groove. We were in a few different community groups, and while they were each wonderful, they were not yet home.

During this time, God worked on our hearts and developed us in exciting and unexpected ways. Meg, for example, works in a male-dominated field and was more comfortable talking to men than women for years! Through community group she formed strong bonds with the women she met and learned that her true home was with these wildly wonderful, faith-filled ladies. Through their support, she gained the courage and vision to begin attending seminary at Houston Baptist University. Matt entered community group young in his faith walk. When he started engaging with other men, especially in men’s group, and receiving the loving accountability, support, and encouragement that comes from their camaraderie, he made great strides in his maturity and his faith. Through their wisdom and support, he gained a stronger faith foundation and greater courage that ultimately led to him stepping into his role at WordServe as youth leader.

Our second big lesson… we realized we have to be courageous enough to ask for help when we need it. A dangerous, unwritten expectation can be that if we have a prayer request or discuss a need, people will automatically assume we need help and offer it. When we needed help the most, we were so busy trying to survive that we failed to ask for help from those who would’ve been most willing to give it. Outside looking in, we had it all together! This left us floundering instead of diving deeper into what community means – asking for help and being there for one anther in all of life’s circumstances in both struggles and celebrations.

God finally led us to our homes in the men’s and women’s groups. While these groups have grown and changed, their hearts for God and for each other have stayed the same. Even when we have had to step back from attending the group, we have kept our relationships with members and continued to engage them in our faith and personal lives. These men and women are people we feel we could reach out to with any need and receive support.  They are the body of Christ to us.

-Matt & Meg Lewis

 

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Refreshed, Revived, Repurposed, Renewed

 

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I am journeying through a life transition.  It was knocking my socks off, and I needed a church home to be refreshed, revived, repurposed, renewed.  WordServe centers their mission around celebrate, compassion, community and connect.  These seemed juxtaposed to what I was seeking and where God was leading me.

I have never attended a church service where the compassion of the Lord has been so alive!  I feel revived every single time I am around the members of WordServe.  Whether I am sitting next to them in service or Bible study, running into them at the grocery store, having lunch with them, or in the parking lot of PetSmart, the people who go to WordServe are genuine.  When the pastors ask how I am, they really mean it.  I am revived in this setting.  It stirs my soul to go back to be the genuine me that God created to serve him!  The hugs when I am tearing up, the laughter with others who have experienced my journey, the delight in the faces when I am greeted, have all revived my soul!  These people are Jesus with skin on.  They are real, honest, vulnerable, sinners who seek God.

The compassion of this church body is awesome.  They are involved in helping the community in the house they are building, in ministering to the children of a local school, in making meals for those who were displaced during and after the floods of Hurricane Harvey, in the washing of clothes, helping the flood victims, and joining local churches in the same area.  They know the heartbeat of this community and take care of it!  I have hungered for helping those around me, and this is where God led me.  I can make meals, wash clothes, make homey things for our Huggins’ families, visit children at school, as well as pray for them, because I can see their faces, feel their hearts and know their needs.

This church body has reached out to me and renewed my faith that God is everywhere.  They welcomed me with open arms.  They have gone out of their way to include me and let me know my skills, talents, and heart have a place here.  The Women’s Community Group on Tuesday nights have welcomed me, and I have never felt like a stranger.  Though I am unable to attend regularly, these ladies have contacted me by phone, text, lunches, asking how they can pray.  They have opened up to me on how I can pray for them as well.  They have been vulnerable with me and allowed friendships to grow.  They made the first and ongoing steps that renewed my starving soul.  I do still have a purpose, place, and peace.  I fit in!

This is the first church body I have been a part of that truly lives the church in Acts.  They get it!  They are real!  They celebrate!  They show compassion!  They know and serve the community!  They connect with those within the church body!  I thank the Lord for leading me to WordServe.  As 2018 begins, so does my furthering journey.  This will include these loving people at WordServe whom I am proud to say I am one of them.

-Robin Ferguson

 

WordServe Kids Focus for December: Wrapped Up Generosity

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“It’s official—the holidays are around the corner. How do I know? Relatives are asking for Christmas lists so they can get their shopping done. The commercials on TV are rolling out their latest toy temptations to get children drooling. Even the shopping malls and discount stores are busy stocking Christmas decorations just in case you feel like getting a jump-start on your seasonal lawn ornaments and light displays.

With all this Christmas hoopla, it’s easier than ever to lose focus on why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. That’s why we want to spend this month talking about Generosity: making someone’s day by giving something away.

We hope kids get wrapped up in others as they show them how much God has been so generous toward us. There’s a danger in getting so wrapped up in ourselves or so wrapped up in our things that we miss the essence of this season. There’s just something about giving that reflects the character of God to those around us. Every good thing we have is a gift from Him. But we also know that God’s generosity has a purpose. God gives to us and expects us to do the same for others in return.

Generosity changes us when we learn how to give the way God gives. This month, we’ll look at four great stories from the New Testament that help us understand God’s plan for generosity in our lives.

In Week 1, we start our month on generosity in Luke 12:13-21 with a parable Jesus told about a rich man who was wrapped up in the wrong thing. He worried more about storing up more stuff and ended up losing everything that really mattered. Our Bottom Line is: Don’t get wrapped up in your stuff.

In Week 2, we get to eavesdrop on a conversation that Jesus had with a rich ruler that Luke recorded in Luke 18:18-25. This man was so wrapped up in his stuff that he couldn’t let go of what didn’t really matter in favor of what mattered most, a relationship with Jesus. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in what matters most.

In Week 3, we celebrate that God sent us the greatest gift when He sent us Jesus. Through John 3:16-17 and Luke 2:1-18, we will focus on Jesus’ birth as we pause and remember that God gave us His only Son, so we could have a personal relationship with Him. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in Christmas.

In Week 4, we’ll see that the wise men knew how to be generous. In Matthew 2:1-12, we read about the men who came to visit Jesus. They went above and beyond to see Him and show generosity. Our Bottom Line is: Get wrapped up in giving.

Our memory verse is a great reminder for us. “Be rich in good deeds … be generous and willing to share,” 1 Timothy 6:18. Many times, we think that our ability to be generous is connected to our stuff. However, being rich really isn’t defined by how much we have or collect, or how many presents we get. We’re not generous because we are rich; rather, we are rich because we are generous. This month, we hope that kids will discover what it really means to be rich—to let God’s generosity show up in their lives and help them get wrapped up in others.”

Click HERE for the December Baby and Toddler Parent Cue.

Click HERE for the December Preschool Parent Cue.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. http://www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

WordServe Kids Preschool Focus for September: God’s God It!

How often do we throw out the words, “I’ve got it”? More often than we’ve actually got it, I would think. You know who’s actually “got it”? God. God’s got it. He is everywhere and has power over everything. That’s what we want our preschoolers to learn this month. No matter what’s going on, God’s got it.

They’ll learn God has the power to answer prayer through the story of Elijah and the fire. They’ll hear the story of Moses and the burning bush and learn that God has the power to speak to them. We’ll continue with Moses and tell the story of the pillars of clouds and fire to show our preschoolers that God has the power to show us the right way to go. And finally, we’ll close the month with the super amazing story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego where preschoolers will learn that God is so powerful that He can always be with them. Always. And, because He’s always there, He’s always got it!

Click here for the September Preschool Parent Cue!

by Kathy Hill, Editor in Chief, FirstLook

Back to School Sunday

Whether you were ready for it or not, school officially started again this past Monday!  At the beginning of the fall semester, many students, teachers, and parents set goals and routines for the new school year after having a busy, lazy, or restful summer.  At WordServe Church, we believe that a huge part of having a successful school year means focusing on spiritual preparation and priorities, not just excelling in academics and sports.

Every year, one of our favorite Sunday celebrations is Back to School Sunday.  This past Sunday, we set the tone for the new school year by introducing our latest sermon series, The Happiness Project.

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Parents, grandparents, and friends also had the incredible opportunity of praying over their students through the Blessing of the Backpacks.  Each student brought his or her school backpack and received prayers and blessings of encouragement from the congregation.

 

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We also had three very special guests in attendance:  Doug Waddill, principal of Huggins Elementary, and Fred and Patti Shafer, namesakes of Shafer Elementary.  These people clearly love students–they allowed them to make ice cream sundaes on top of their heads!

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We hope that as you begin your fall semester, you make a relationship with Jesus a vibrant part of your daily life.  We have many opportunities for you to grow your faith and put it into action–FaithFULL Kids, Community Groups, WordServe Youth, Habitat for Huggins, and of course, Sunday morning worship.  We pray this is the best school year yet!

 

 

Living Water International Trip to Honduras

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Over the summer, WordServe participated in several activities and projects that built relationships with members of the community and met needs, like FaithFULL Kids and Habitat for Huggins.   Though our mission focuses on reaching our own communities for Christ, we believe in the calling we have as Christians to reach the nations for Jesus.  From July 26-August 2, a team of servants from WordServe traveled to Honduras with Living Water International to help drill a water well for a community that lacked a source of fresh, clean water.  Through meeting a physical need for clean water, the team was able to introduce the community to the source of living water that will never run dry–Jesus Christ.  When the team returned, each member shared testimony of how they saw Christ at work during the time in Honduras.  In case you missed the Celebration Service, you can check out the videos below:

Chad Yelverton’s Christ Cam

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Bill Hogan’s Christ Cam

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Jason Zimmerman’s Christ Cam

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Kasey Hogan’s Christ Cam

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Leslie Wakefield’s Christ Cam

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Lisa Harp’s Christ Cam

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Marcus Dillon’s Christ Cam

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Matt Lewis’ Christ Cam

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 As you can see, this trip was truly life-changing for all who were involved.  If you have questions about the trip, please ask one of team members.  If you are interested in going on a short-term mission trip of your own, contact Nolan Donald or Bill Hogan for information about future trips.

WordServe Kids Focus for September: Opportunity Knocks–Responsibility

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Have you ever walked through your local grocery store and noticed the potential just sitting on the shelves?

You can head down one aisle and discover spices from around the world.

Over in the produce stands, you can find the ripest apples, cartons of blueberries, maybe even some obscure Dragon Fruit.

Not to mention all of the staples on another aisle: flour, sugar, eggs, and milk.

Incredible ingredients that will sit there and go bad unless someone takes them home and creates something delicious.

You can speculate all day about the potential in that grocery store, but until there is some type of response to what you believe can really happen, it’s just potential. In other words, with the right kind of response, faith in a process I can’t fully understand, and a big mess of dishes, those ingredients could turn into warm, sticky-sweet, apple cobbler goodness. But if those ingredients just sit there, even though they have incredible potential, the flour will just stay powdery and tasteless. The butter will soften. And those apples will turn brown. In fact, if you do nothing, they will lose their potential and turn into something that just makes your trash smell bad.

Think about someone’s life, with all of the God-given, God-created ingredients. You have time, talents, opportunities, words, and resources. The point is, we can choose to either respond to what God has given us or we can ignore it. One of the most powerful things leaders and parents can do is to inspire their children to trust that God can do amazing things through the abilities He’s given them. Kids should grow up knowing that their faith in God’s ability to do that, can profoundly affect how they view and respond to their unique potential.

That’s why we’re taking September to look more closely at what the Bible has to say about responsibility. We define responsibility as: Showing you can be trusted by what you say and do.

In Week 1, we head back to the garden of Eden where God created Adam and Eve and gave them their First Job. Through passages in Genesis 1 and 2, we’ll see how they were put in charge of the entire world. They took responsibility and began to cultivate the earth.

Our Bottom Line is: Show you can be trusted by taking care of what God has made. The first job God gave to Adam and Eve was a task that we can continue today.

In Week 2, we’ll look at 1 Kings 19:16-21 and 2 Kings 2:1-15. Elijah was nearing the end of his work as God’s prophet. God chose Elisha to carry on the work. But first, Elisha had some things to learn.

Our Bottom Line is: Show you can be trusted to lead by learning how to follow. We all want to lead, but we need to learn from our leaders before we can be in charge.

In Week 3, we’ll hear from one of Jesus’ parables in Matthew 21:28-32. In the Parable of the Two Sons, a father asked his sons to do some work. One said “yes” but didn’t follow through with his actions. The other said “no” at first, but ended up completing the job anyway. We’ll discover that it’s important to do what you say you will.

Our Bottom Line is: Show you can be trusted by what you do. You can’t just say you’ll do something; you actually have to do it.

In Week 4, we’ll look at another of Jesus’ parables found in Matthew 25:14-29a. In the Parable of the Talents, a business owner went on a trip and put three guys in charge of some money. Each one did something different, but only two of them were found faithful and given more responsibility.

Our Bottom Line is: Show you can be trusted with more by taking care of what you have. If you want more responsibility, show that you can be responsible with what you already have.

Our memory verse this month is Luke 16:10a, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.” (NIV) When we show responsibility with the little things, there’s a good chance we’ll have opportunity for greater responsibility in the future.

God has created everyone with potential: talents, time, resources, opportunities. And we can either respond to God with our abilities in a way that honors Him, or we can waste what He has given. Think about the word responsibility. It really breaks down into how you respond with your abilities. And we want children to not only understand how to respond to the ability that God’s given them, but also how to respond to God’s ability to work through them to change the world around them.

Click here for a copy of the September Weekly Parent Cue!

 By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

Habitat for Huggins Update

Since December, WordServe has been involved in an on-going project called Habitat for Huggins.  WordServe was contacted through our adopted school, Huggins Elementary, about a family in need of major home repairs. The family has eight children, four of whom are currently attending Huggins. After meeting with school leaders, counselors, and other city officials, WordServe decided to commit to rebuild this house and make all the necessary repairs so that the family can return to their home.   Going into the project, we as a church realized that this was a great undertaking that could take up to a year to complete.The following video highlights the vision for the project, as well as showing the “before” condition of the home.

With the help of many volunteers from WordServe, a host of handy “Mikes”, generous donors from the community, and God’s gracious provision, much progress has been made on the home!  The house demolition and clean up was completed on May 10 and we have turned the project over to a contractor for flooring, framing, drywall, roofing, electrical, and plumbing.   Check out the current transformation!

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We are excited about the challenges still left before us and feel that this project is clearly in line with our vision of “transforming communities one relationship at a time.” This project is a direct link to our adoption of Huggins Elementary and represents our focus on changing the community through the schools. It is our hope that every person connected to WordServe will play some role in bringing this project to completion. We know it will take skilled workers for much of the construction, but it will also take people willing to serve through clean-up, painting, prayer, food for the workers, and in any other way that God might lead someone to serve.  We will provide updates when the contracted work is complete and we are able to schedule our regular Saturday workdays again.  We hope you will take part in what God is doing to transform our community one relationship at a time, through one hammer and nail at a time!

WordServe Kids Focus for July: Friendship

Over the past school year, we’ve enjoyed taking kids through God’s one big story. We’ve traveled through the Bible covering the familiar stories of Abraham and Joseph, Moses, and King David. We made it all the way to Jesus, Paul, and the start of the early church.

As the church started, no longer were there just a handful of disciples. These were growing congregations filled with people from all walks of life. And I think you see where I’m going with this: they were pretty much like that middle school band. They didn’t always get along. Sure, every so often, they got it right and there were glimpses of greatness. But they disagreed and argued. They had a hard time forgiving and accepting each other. At times, they even found it difficult to keep worshiping together.

Several of the apostles began writing to these believers, instructing them how to practice getting along and living in harmony with one another. These writings are not presented in the form of a story. They are letters and sermons, delivered by people and for people. They’re historic, but they’re not really a story. This summer may feel a little different, but it’s amazing to read these letters from real people to real people.

To help illustrate these important truths, we’ve wrapped them in a summer-long story about friendship. We’re continuing in July looking at what the New Testament letters have to say about friendship.

Friendship is treating others the way you want to be treated. Each week, we continue looking at a “one another” principle that gives us a framework for loving others the way God loved us. Because these are short verses, we suggest that you take this summer to memorize each one.

Our theme verse for July is Proverbs 17:17, NIrV. “A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes.” This verse is a great reminder that friends aren’t just there for each other when everything is going well. They also are there to help when life is hard.

In Week 1, we kick off July back in the book of Romans. We know that it’s not always easy for us to get along with each other. This was also true of the believers in Rome. In Romans 12:16, Paul tells them that friends accept each other regardless of their differences. It’s easy to see how different we are from people around us. God accepts us as we are. When we accept others, we get to help them see how much God loves them too. Our Bottom Line is: Friends accept each other.

In Week 2, we’ll take a closer look at how friends forgive each other. In Colossians 3:13, Paul reminds us that God has forgiven us for everything we’ve ever done wrong! At some point, one of our friends will let us down. We should let go of what we’re holding against them and forgive them because God forgave us first. Putting up with each other means we don’t hold on to the things people might have done to hurt us. When we forgive them, we get to show them how much God loves them too. Our Bottom Line is: Friends forgive each other.

In Week 3, kids will discover how they can encourage each other. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Paul tells the believers that they should build each other up with how they speak to one another. Basically, friends encourage each other. We have hope because of Jesus. When we share that hope with others, we can encourage them to keep going even when life is tough. Our Bottom Line is: Friends encourage each other.

Finally, in Week 4, we’ll wrap up our summer in the book of Hebrews. This is another letter full of wisdom from God. We will take a look at how friends worship with each other. The writer of Hebrews talks about this in chapter 10 verses 24 and 25. Life can be hard sometimes. Don’t try to go it alone. When we are connected to a community of friends who can encourage us and remind us of God’s love, it makes those times a little easier. We shouldn’t give up meeting together with our Small Group and friends at church. Encourage each other to live out loving God and loving others in every single thing you do. Our Bottom Line is: Friends worship with each other.

We pray this will be a fun end to the summer for kids to learn more about how they can show friendship to everyone.

July Parent Cue

Parent Cue for Toddlers

 By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

WordServe Kids Focus for June: Harmony

This past year, we’ve enjoyed taking kids through a contextual look at God’s One Big Story. We’ve traveled through the Bible covering the familiar stories of Abraham and Joseph, Moses and King David. We made it all the way to Jesus, Paul, and the start of the early church.

As the church started, no longer were these just a handful of disciples. These were growing congregations filled with people from all walks of life. And needless to say, they didn’t always get along. They disagreed and argued. They had a hard time forgiving and serving each other.

Several of the apostles began writing about how to live together as believers. These writings are not presented in the form of a story. They are letters. They are sermons. Delivered by people and for people, they are historic, but they are not really a story. But we think it’s important that kids experience those letters and sermons too. So to help illustrate these important truths, we’ve wrapped them in a summer-long story about friendship. We’re taking the summer to look at what the New Testament letters have to say about friendship.

Friendship is treating others the way you want to be treated. Each week, we’ll take a look at a “one another” principle that gives us a framework for loving others the way God loved us. Because these verses are short, we suggest that you take this summer to memorize each one.

In Week 1, we take a look at what John says about loving each other in 1 John 4:10-12. Kids will learn that because God loved us first, we should also love one another. Our Bottom Line is: Friends love each other.

In Week 2, kids learn from Peter’s teaching on hospitality found in 1 Peter 4:9. When it comes to welcoming others, we need to do so without complaining. Our Bottom Line is: Friends welcome each other.

In Week 3, kids will start talking about what they know that they could teach others. InRomans 15:14, Paul tells the church that they have what it takes to share Jesus with others. Our Bottom Line is: Friends teach each other.

In Week 4, we take a look at an important principle about patience. It’s hard to be a good friend when people can be frustrating. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:2 that we should put up with one another. Our Bottom Line is: Friends are patient with each other.

Finally, in Week 5, kids talk about an important part of friendship: service. Life isn’t all about us. Paul shares with us in Galatians 5:13b that relationships aren’t all about us. Our Bottom Line is: Friends serve each other.

Our summer widget, the Friend Pix Chain, was created to help kids memorize the verses each week. This simple chain comes with nine guitar-style picks, each one listing a Bible verse reference to go with the nine weeks of our summer Friendship series. Kids can add a new pick each week as they memorize the verse and wear the chain to remind them to treat others as they want to be treated.

We’ve also created a nine-week devotional book called Over the Fence: Adventures in Friendship. The book details the summer adventures of four unlikely friends through nine episodes. Each stand-alone story is followed by four days of devotional thoughts and activities to spark kids’ imaginations with God’s design for friendship. This book will be available for purchase at The Orange Conference or in our online Orange Store in May. (http://www.whatisorange.org)

We pray this will be a fun start to the summer for kids to learn more about how they can show friendship to everyone.

By Dan Scott ©2014 The reThink Group. All rights reserved. www.ThinkOrange.com *Used by permission.

To download a printable copy of the Parent Cue, click here!