Did you know that every Thursday during the school year, 5 ECC members work with 21 children through our Afterschool JAM (Jesus And Me) ministry? These are children that we have had a relationship with through our work at Miller, Bauer or they have attended our Summer XP.
We meet the children at Miller when they get out of school and walk them down to Bauer. During our time with the children our goal is to provide a safe atmosphere where we can show the children how much God loves them. We use the Orange curriculum (used with our KOL kids) as a base for any programming we might do. Many of the children come from homes that are unstable in various ways. Behavior and emotional issues are prevalent in the group. We continue to pray and ask God to show us the best way to work with the children.
We have been blessed by the children and their desire to meet with us. We are also excited that 5 of our participants from the last three years that are now 5th, 6th and 7th graders are coming back each week as assistants. They are a great help and we LOVE being able to continue to have input into their lives and to see them grow in their leadership skills as they help us each week.
We also continue to establish good relationships with the parents. ECC continues to use grant money that allows us to expand our ministry to our Afterschool JAM families. We use a point system that encourages parents to allow their children to attend our programs and encourages them, the parent, to participate as well. Twice a year, these points translate into money to be used towards rent, utilities or other areas deemed appropriate. The parents are thrilled with this incentive program and are very thankful to have the extra financial help as a majority of them struggle in that area.
Funds from the grant are also being used to help the Afterschool JAM children give to others. Portions of the grant are being used to purchase items the children can put in thank you packages for the staff at Bauer. At Christmas we put together blessing bags for Lafayette Transitional Housing to give to individuals that find themselves without suitable housing. We want the children to be aware of those around them and to have a giving spirit. Just because they themselves are in need doesn’t mean they don’t have things they can contribute to others.
God is blessing our efforts and we are so excited to see how He is working. Will you join us in praying that all of “our” children will come to a saving knowledge of God’s love for them? With God they can beat the odds and change the generational bonds that hold them captive. Isaiah 61:1-4 is a passage that describes our heart for our children and their families.
If you would like to volunteer to help with an outreach event at Miller Elementary School you can sign up, we have a number of upcoming opportunities. Click here to sign up to help at our Spring Carnival, or click here to help as we work side-by-side with 1st grade Miller families to create their costumes for the 1st grade musical. You may also at contact Ronda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research shows that roughly six out of every ten 18-22-year-olds will leave the church. This is a staggering statistic, but it is one that we can work to change here at ECC. How can we disrupt this statistic? Relationships.
One of the key factors that we have found through our own research and conversations is that relationships are key to twenty-somethings staying engaged in the church. Barna Research suggests that those who have stayed in the church were twice as likely to have had a close personal friendship with an adult inside the church other than the ministry staff.
We have two opportunities for you to get involved in the young adult ministry here at ECC. You can Adopt-a-Senior and/or you can join our Young Adult Ministry Team.
What does it look like to Adopt-a-Senior? Graduating seniors are entering into a lonely world and it can be a confusing time. Through the Adopt-a-Senior program you will have the opportunity to encourage one of our recent high school graduates. This encouragement comes in the form of notes and letters in the mail, care packages, regularly praying for them, and showing them that there are people here at ECC who care about them. Everyone enjoys getting something in the mail! Your love and support for a recent ECC high school graduate not only benefits that graduate their family will also be blessed that someone else is caring for their child too. If you would like to participate by adopting a senior, click here to sign up or email Carol Smith, email@example.com, to find out more about this ministry.
What does it look like to join the Young Adult Ministry Team? The Young Adult Ministry Team will be planning and dreaming about young adult ministries here at ECC. We are looking for people who want to be part of this ministry team in a variety of ways from cooking to teaching. The prerequisite is that you care about young people. Click here to sign up or email Meghan Gobrogge, firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out more about this impactful ministry.
If we are going to disrupt this statistic about young adults leaving the church, we need to be in this together. Please consider joining us as we seek to strengthen our relationships and ministry to the young adults in our community.
P.S. If you have a senior graduating from high school this year, please click here and make sure they are on this list. If you don’t see them on the list you can add them or email Carol Smith, email@example.com to make sure they are included.
Each year around this time, we are invited to prayerfully consider the people God has put in our lives - our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and the like. We are invited to name the ones who have not yet come into a relationship with Christ, and commit to pray for them in the coming year. We do this each year on BLESS Sunday. This year, March 17 is BLESS Sunday. Let me invite you to do two things. First, begin praying now, asking God for the people you are to name and commit to pray for in light of their need for Christ. Second, please follow the link below to learn more about BLESS, what it means and how it works. It will take you less than five minutes. Thank you! To learn more about BLESS, please click HERE.
By Margaret Martin
Prayer is not just important, it is central to ECC’s ability to do the Kingdom work God has called us to as a faith community. Over the past two years, ECC has been pursuing vitality in a desire to move from a stable church to a healthy missional church. Throughout this time, a prayer team, known as the Pervasive Prayer Team, has been meeting to bathe the process in prayer. However, pervasive prayer is more than a small group of people gathering bi-weekly. Pervasive prayer is a process that the entire congregation engages in. This means you are needed for pervasive prayer to exist at ECC.
While working together, the Vitality Team began to experience the mysterious connection between prayer and our ability to understand and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. This process of learning how God can speak to us in a small group setting and as a church has been exciting. Our faith walk has become less academic and more vibrant. No one who has experienced a meeting infused with Holy-Spirit energy could ever be content with church business as usual. We experienced firsthand a guiding principle of Congregational Vitality. “Without the movement and blessing of God, all we are doing is running in place without really getting anywhere. Fruit is human activity touched by the Holy Spirit.”
The Ministry Planning Team is now continuing the work begun by the Vitality Team, with the goal of developing an actionable ministry plan. This goal, however, does not simply involve planning. It also includes learning how to listen to and follow the Holy Spirit in the planning process. For, as Richard Foster writes, “We cannot do the work of the Spirit in the power of the flesh.”
This team is made up of about a dozen gifted people, each of whom is committed to our church and to serving God. While a stable church has a tendency to be self-sufficient in the planning process, to become a healthy missional church this team has the more challenging task of collaborating with the Holy Spirit to develop a plan that aligns our resources with God’s purposes for this church, for this time.
We recognize that there are spiritual forces of evil working against congregational vitality. We will experience opposition. Our victory is always, and only, in the powerful name of Jesus. As a congregation, we are called to cry out for God’s anointing. We are called to ask God for wisdom and guidance in discerning how He is already at work in and through His church and where He leading us. We are called to dedicate ourselves and align our resources with God and his mission. We are called to pray together as a body of believers.
The boots-on-the-ground work of this next step into congregational vitality has been entrusted to the Ministry Planning Team, but for this work to be fruitful and to move in the direction the Holy Spirit is leading, the team must be covered by prayer. They can’t do this for the church. They must do this with the church.
Even now, the Holy Spirit is stirring the hearts of people; both newcomers and long-time congregants. He is bringing together just the right mix of gifts needed for us to move forward together into the kingdom work that He has called us to, and positioned us for. Not one gift is missing. Each person is important to this task. The stage is set. The Ministry Planning Team is in place (They are: Todd Cogswell, Karen Dolk, Megan Gobrogge, Kurt Kincanon, Stacey Littlefield, Greg Louk, Margaret Martin, Jorden Meyers, Shirley Pence, Linda Reno, Ron Smith, Scott Warner, and Judy Yost).
The Pervasive Prayer team is well established and pouring prayer over the process. There is room for you to be involved. God is moving in this ECC family, and we each have a part to play.