By Kate Cogswell
We live in a world that values more – more accomplishments, more activities, more acquisitions, more ______ (fill in the blank). All this push for more infiltrates our schedules, our thoughts, and our lives. So much so, that many of us begin to wear “busy” as a badge of honor, or we find ourselves feeling ‘less than’ when our schedules aren’t full.
What about you? Have you ever found yourself longing for more? Have you found yourself longing for different? What if your longing for more is really a longing for less? What if it is a longing for a different pace? What if it is a longing for a “pause”?
Pause, by definition, is a temporary stop or rest, especially in speech or action. It is synonymous with breathe, catch one’s breath, rest, take a breather. A pause can be passive (I let go, I’m still, I stop, I breathe out) or active (I’m conscious in this moment, I am attentive, I breathe in).
Most of us are still learning - not only how to pause wisely, but also the value of pause. Wherever we are on the spectrum of busy, there is an invitation to learn to pause well.
The good news is that everyone, including you, can pause. With Jesus, we can pause in the middle of busy or not busy, in relationships or loneliness, in grief or joy… We can discover what it looks like for us to “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) in the midst of real life.
Recently, “real life” for me has held some pretty weighty things - circumstances pressing in for my attention - a perfect storm of events taxing my emotional, my physical, and even my spiritual energy. A good friend asked me, “What do you need?” When I struggled to answer, she pressed a bit further with another question. “What popped into your mind when I first asked?” She knows me well and knew I had discounted an answer. I sheepishly admitted, “I’d like a month at the beach. Alone.” And while that isn’t truly possible, we looked beneath my answer to uncover a longing for space, for solitude, for uninterrupted time with God. That revelation was the incentive I needed to become even more intentional about meeting with God alone within the context of the circumstances of my life. It began to look like a few hours here and a few hours there, growing to a day a week (most weeks). Then one day it dawned on me – this sounds like “sabbath!” I’m sure God was smiling as I caught on to His invitation. Sabbath is sacred time God set apart at creation. Years ago I heard Sabbath defined as “a space of time allotted for ceasing from production in exchange for engaging in enjoyment with God.” This was the more I was needing.
Genesis 2:3 (The Voice) tells us, “Thus God blessed day seven and made it special—an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work He had done in creation that day.”
Do you see the beauty of this passage accentuated in this version? Sabbath rest equated with pause. I believe God is inviting us to pause.
What does pause look like? The beauty of God’s invitation to pause is that it looks different for each of us. For me, sometimes it looks like taking a walk. Sometimes it’s taking a nap. Other times it is simply slowing down and breathing deeply. Occasionally, it’s staring at the lake or snuggling a baby. It has also been praying, reading a book, spending time with a friend.
What does it look like for you? What could it look like for you to prioritize a “pause” in your life? I would love to hear what God does as you change your pace and pause.
Ladies – In a world that is fast-paced and full, we invite you to PAUSE to connect with God and other women at our annual women’s retreat, November 1-3. This weekend retreat is designed to create space for you to change your pace and explore ways to pause with Jesus in the midst of real life circumstances.
This retreat can be whatever you need it to be. If you need solitude and quiet, you can find solitude. If you need fun, you can find fun. If you need connection and to meet new people, that can happen for you. If you need worship or desire to be closer to God or maybe get some clarity about something in your life or want some good biblical teaching, God can and will do that for you at this retreat.
So, I am asking you, ladies, to really consider it. Think about it. Pray about it. Don’t immediately write it off that you’re too busy or that this is a place for others, but not you. Don’t assume you can’t get away for a weekend (you can!). Invite your girlfriend, sister, mom, daughter, or co-worker so you can have “your person” with you. Or come – maybe you will make a new friend - I did at my first ECC retreat!
Register by September 22 and save $10! Come PAUSE with us!
By Pastor Stacey Littlefield
During worship on Sunday, we began a 10-week exploration of three Touchstones that will shape the future of our mission and vision at ECC. A touchstone was a piece of flint-like, black stone used to determine the quality of gold and other precious metals by examining the color of the mark left when the metal was scratched against it. Since then, its meaning has evolved to refer to a test or criterion by which we measure the genuineness of something, and, probably most helpful for our purposes at ECC, a touchstone is “a fundamental or quintessential part or feature” of something.
The Ministry Planning Team, the next phase of the Vitality Pathway we’ve been on since 2017, the pastoral staff, with the support of our church Council, proposes three touchstones to represent where we sense God is leading us. Over the next few weeks we will explore the touchstones of Welcome, Transformation, and Presence. We began this week with our first look at Presence.
Our mission at ECC is, “To know God, follow Jesus, and pursue God’s purposes in the world.” Presence fits within the last of the three clauses of our mission statement. That is, we “pursue God’s purposes in the world” when we empower and equip one another to practice faithful presence in our community and world, by loving God, loving others, and making disciples. We believe there is strong biblical energy behind our calling to be present in the world for the sake of others.
For starters, God demonstrated his own heart for creation in the Incarnation – when he took on flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1.14). And he calls us to be like yeast working through a batch of dough (Matthew 13.33), transforming our world simply by being in it and being faithful to who God calls us to be.
Likewise, the Apostle Paul reminds us by his example that wherever we go, we go as Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5.20). We who have been reconciled to God live out and proclaim the message of reconciliation; we carry with us the ministry of reconciliation. As we are transformed by the Spirit of God, we become agents of transformation in our homes, neighborhoods, schools, and places of work.
Finally, when Jesus had risen from the dead, he appeared to his disciples, saying, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (John 20.21). We, like Jesus, are sent into the world to pursue God’s purposes.
Because God is a sending God, and because he has empowered us with the gift of his Holy Spirit, we seek to engage our relationships and world by being and bringing the good news of Christ Jesus wherever we are.
The ministries we serve, the initiatives we launch, and the lives we live outside of ECC environments and contexts, are all places in which God is present in us and through us.
Our corporate worship, our classes, our retreats, as well as our own personal spiritual practices transform us so that, through us, God might transform the world. In how we live our lives and in where we serve the greater mission of ECC, we know we have been sent to be agents of change and redemption.
By Pastor Jorden
If you are unsure if you should invite your friends and neighbors to this year’s fall kickoff event here at ECC, I am going to help you out. Here are my top 10 reasons to invite your neighbor to this year’s Fall Kickoff at ECC.
10. Free Food! We all need to eat to live - this is a fact. Invite your friends to the free lunch. The menu this year includes walking tacos!
9. Zoo Animals! The Columbian Park Zoo ZooMobile will be here! A Zoo Educator will be at church along with animals. Everyone will be encouraged, but never required, to touch the animals whenever it is safe and appropriate.
8. 3rd Annual Corn Hole Tournament! Last year, Johnny and Jaden Park took home the first-place medal at our second Corn Hole Tournament. It is expected that they will seek to retain the title of ECC Corn Hole Champs this year too!
7. BINGO! It is an unwritten rule that church events should have BINGO. The nice thing about BINGO is that everyone can play! We will have excellent prizes too!
6. Kids Activities! Our Director of Children’s Ministry Kristin Devine Mueller has organized activities for kids from a giant inflatable obstacle course to fun games.
5. Giant Beach Ball Shenanigans! Our Youth Director Carol Smith and her team have some exciting games planned that involve a 6-foot tall beach ball – need I say more?
4. GAGA PIT! Along with the giant beach ball we have planned many recreational activities for all ages to enjoy!
3. Your friends and neighbors will likely come! When a genuine, personal invitation is given, most people respond positively. A recent Barna study showed that 96% of people said they would be more likely to attend church and church events if they were invited. Instead of an impersonal: “Hey, do you want to come to church Sunday?” … Try this instead: “I’d love for you to consider visiting my church with me this Sunday for our Fall Kickoff!”
2. When you don’t extend invitations, you’re missing out on one of life’s most incredible opportunities – being able to play a role in someone’s life transformation. The first invitation may be to the Fall Kickoff but there is no telling what God is going to do in their lives through your invitation. Being used by God to introduce someone to forgiveness, peace, and ultimate purpose?! There’s nothing more rewarding or energizing!
1. It will give the people you invite the opportunity to make a more informed decision about church and Jesus. Prior to your invitation, they may have negative feelings about church and religion. Give them an opportunity to see church in a positive light from their own, personal experience! You have the opportunity to extend the invitation, and then trust God with the process.
We are so excited for Fall Kickoff, and we can't wait to see you and your neighbors there!
A few years ago, we started a ministry on Wednesday nights here at ECC where we serve dinner and then have formation options for all ages. This ministry is called Community Gatherings. The reason we started Community Gatherings was exactly as the name suggests – we wanted to provide a place for our community to gather together over a meal and then continue in conversation in one of our classes. We have had a great time so far with our Community Gatherings and we are thrilled to start off this new season with great food and new classes! Starting on September 11, and most Wednesdays during the school year we gather in the Life Center Gym for dinner at 5:45 p.m. Following dinner, we transition to classes for all ages at 6:30 p.m. We have a fun Kids Club for our youngest congregants through grade four, we have a youth group for all of the youth in grades five through eight, and then we have four options for everyone in high school or older.
This fall, Kids Club at Community Gatherings will be exploring God’s Word in a new and exciting way! We’ll be using the workshop rotation model to take an in-depth look at four different Bible stories between now and Christmas. Our kids will begin in September by spending 4 weeks on the story of creation. From there, we will spend 4 weeks learning about Moses and how he led God’s people out of Egypt. Our next session will focus on the time that Moses and the Israelites spent in the wilderness. As we get close to Christmas, we’ll spend time learning about Jesus’ birth.
The advantage of this teaching style is that our children will spend four weeks in the same story, immersing themselves in different activities that will help them go deeper into God’s Word. Children will be divided into age-based groups, and these groups will learn Bible stories through art, drama, cooking, Lego building, games, and many other creative methods.
We invite children to join us this semester and sign up to be a part of this immersive Bible experience. Students in 4-year-old preschool through 4th grade are welcome to participate! If you’re an adult who has a specific gift or talent you’d like to use in teaching our children, we invite you to join us as well. There are opportunities for adults to be involved all semester or on a limited basis, spending 2-4 weeks teaching a Bible story through a method you are passionate about! To register a child or volunteer as an adult, please contact Kristin Mueller.
5th – 8th Grade:
Our Wednesday night youth group serves grades 5 through 8. We chose to have this group be 5th-8th grade to respond to the school corporations around us. Lafayette School Corporation offers middle school for grades 5 and 6 and junior high for 7 and 8, while Tippecanoe school corporation offers middle school for grades 6-8. It is our hope to serve both school corporations well, because we know that this can be a difficult age for many children. We hope that by coming together weekly we can support, encourage, and engage their faith. We hope that this faith development will better equip them for this time in your child’s life.
We will be covering 4 great topics this fall: friendship, hurts and pains, identity, and others. One of the best ways you can support your children in youth ministry is by letting Carol Smith, Youth Director, know a little bit about her/him and signing up for our monthly emails and emails for opportunities for you and your child to get involved and deadlines. Fill out this form to be added to the roster. Here are some important dates to be aware of for your 5th-8th grader:
High School and Adult:
We have selected four studies to walk through this fall. At ECC we seek to be a community that is Welcoming, Transforming, and Present in our Community. Each of these options help us grow in these areas of our lives. You are invited to choose one of these options and grow with us:
To sign up for one of these options click here. If you are interested in learning more please contact Pastor Jorden.
We hope you can join us this fall on Wednesday nights to gather in community.
By Jill Smith and Tina Wimmer
ECC MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and MOMSnext (Mothers of School-age kids) offer a morning filled with fun surprises, refreshments, speakers sharing on relevant topics, meaningful small group discussions, creative crafts, and a few hours to relax and enjoy the company of other moms. The MOMSnext moms sit at their own table within the MOPS group so that their conversation can be more specific to their season of life. MOPS is about celebrating motherhood, meeting needs, making connections and equipping women for the joys and challenges of their lives as moms. It is a caring ministry for mothers of children ages birth through school age designed to provide support and encouragement while helping moms to develop a sense of commitment to family, other moms, church, and their community. As a ministry of our church to moms within the community, MOPS provides a front door for young families to experience Christs love through the body of Christ in a non-threatening, encouraging environment.
The MOPS group at ECC was started in 2007 and the MOMSnext group started in 2016. Both groups meet together in the Life Center Auditorium on the second and fourth Tuesday mornings during the school year while newborn through kindergarten age children meet in the main building for MOPS Kids. The groups are led by moms within the group. MOPS International provides a theme each year as well as leadership development and training. The children follow a curriculum of Bible lessons. Last school year, there were 30 moms registered and 20 children.
I became involved in MOPS approximately one year ago. I had two young boys and they had no friends. I knew that my boys needed some type of interaction with other kids. I came to the open house at the church for the MOPS program and I was surprised how friendly, caring and welcomed I felt that day. I even had one of the moms want to do a play date because she lived so close. It took a couple of weeks for me to grow the courage to call and tell her I was ready for the play date. This was the start of many lasting friendships. As the year moved on, I looked forward to Tuesdays of MOPS and the boys were mostly excited to come play and never wanted to leave. The boys grew in confidence and by the end they would walk into the class and say, “Bye, mom! I love you.” After MOPS the boys would talk about how much they loved to sing songs and do crafts. The fun times in MOPS Kids were talked about all week and it was always a question of when do we get to go back to church. MOPS was a life-changing event for not only my life but for the boys.
This year’s theme in MOPS is “to the full” based on John 10:10 with subthemes titled: have more fun, fear less, and find your people.
Have more fun; Fun is often the first thing to go when life gets hectic because it seems frivolous and extravagant. This year we are going to remember that we can still have fun even when life is hard. We are going to let the laundry wait and build a fort with our kids.
Fear Less: No more fearing what people might think or say. No more letting fear paralyze us or concern about the future rob us of the present. We’ll change our ways of thinking, calm our anxiety, and surrender our need to control. This is the year of faith over fear, and abundance over scarcity.
Find Our People: This year we’ll meet our neighbors, learn the name of the cashier at the grocery store, and invite our MOPS table over for dinner. We need our people, and they need us. Finding our people takes some vulnerability, but it will also mean being known, belonging, and helping others feel the same. Life to the full happens best with people by our side.
If you are thinking, “where do I fit into this group?”, there are a few options:
By Meghan Gobrogge
As summer ends and fall is quickly approaching, we are excited to begin our lobby renovation project as part of our Engaging Young Adults Grant Initiative. Lots of construction and change will be happening in the coming weeks! Here is all that will be done in our lobby space:
Through the design and flow of the two small spaces, we hope to provide a functional space for meetings, small groups, or a gathering between two congregants any time throughout the week. However, our primary goal with this new space will be to continue to encourage community building and conversation by providing comfortable and updated spaces for you to enjoy on Sunday mornings. We’d be ecstatic if we saw this space being used by all generations in an effort to get to know and understand each other better. With that said, feel free to reach out to a young person in our church body and ask them to have coffee or hot chocolate with you in our new space this fall and winter. If you are a young person, feel free to grab an older congregant you don’t know as well and ask them to join you for conversation in our new space. Let’s use this opportunity to strengthen and unify the body of Christ here at ECC!
By Carol Smith, Youth Director and Kristin Mueller, Director of Children’s Ministry
We are down to the last few days of summer for some, and school began today for others. The routines are forming. You have started filling the calendar with games, concerts, practices, and rehearsals. The family calendar can get really full, really quickly. As you think through your routines and calendars, we wanted to give you the opportunity to include what we do in Children and Youth Ministries. We love your children, and we want to help guide them, pray for them and with them, and be a voice in their life.
"Over and over, research confirms that the chances of success in college, and in life, rises when we have mentors, advisors, and people to guide us along the journey." Crystal Chiang
BUMP UP SUNDAY: Have you wondered when your child will bump up to the next grade on Sunday mornings? Wonder no more. On August 18, we invite you to bring your child (preschool through 6th grade) into the sanctuary during the service (9:00am or 10:30am) you plan to attend throughout the school year. On this Sunday your child and teacher will join together and head to their new classrooms from the sanctuary. This includes 3 year olds who are potty-trained and ready for preschool - they can join the preschool KOL class that meets in room 5. The following Sunday, August 25, all kids will start in their new classrooms. We look forward to a new school year and all that it brings!
THE JOURNEY AND JOURNEY CONT.: Teens have a group that meets at the 9:00am service beginning August 18. 7th and 8th grade group is called The Journey. This is our version of confirmation: a survey of the Bible, what it means to be a Christian, and a place to ask the tough questions. We meet in the Life Center, Upper Deck (orange room), Sundays at 9:00am. For our high school students, it’s The Journey Cont. This conversational style group allows students to discuss what their faith can look like in the world they live in. We meet in the Life Center, Upper Deck (blue room), Sundays at 9:00am. We are excited to start August 18.
WHAT TO KNOW MORE?
5-12th Grade OPEN HOUSE: August 11, families of children in 5th-12th grade are invited to an open house at 9:00am. Come and see what this year in youth ministry will look like. We will discuss the ministry team, schedules, fundraisers, deadlines, and you can ask questions you have about youth ministry at ECC. Come a little early for coffee and pastries! All who attend will be put in a drawing for a Family Night In! Email Carol Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org to receive our monthly newsletter and updates. You can also visit ecclife.net/youth for information.
5th-8th Grade Youth Group: Meets Wednesdays, beginning August 21, from 6:30-8:00pm
9th-12th Grade Youth Group: Meets Sundays, beginning August 18 from 6:30-8:30pm
Youth group is a fun way to get to each other and grow in our understanding of what it means to be follow Christ.
By Meghan Gobrogge
Last Friday, July 19, we hosted the Thrive Music Festival on our campus! It was a fun night of food trucks, great music, and community. A HUGE thank you to the 38 ECC volunteers that made the night happen so smoothly! Throughout the night we had volunteers setting up, directing traffic, serving our performers, working information tables, and tearing down. If you were part of any of those crews, THANK YOU!
Throughout the night we had 4 food trucks join us: Roasted Toasted and Baked, El Kora, Kona Ice, and Sheepdog Coffee Company. 5 bands performed: The Grace Scott Band, Malachi Jaggers, Victor Lee, Sharon Irving, and Michael Kelsey. In total, we sold 409 tickets for Thrive.
We are so fortunate to be able to partner with Habitat for Humanity during this grant process! At Thrive, we raised $291 for them and some awareness of what they’re doing throughout our community. We would love to have our church community begin to serve with them in simple ways, whether that be working in their Re:Store or out on job sites. If you’d be willing to volunteer a few hours of your time once or twice, reach out to us and we can get you connected! It’s a great way to serve our community and also get to know other ECC congregants.
If you’re a young adult, we have some fun next steps for you to connect with other young adults in our faith community:
August 10: Kayaking at Sugar Creek
August 24: Hiking and Turkey Run
September 15: Young Adult Sunday School Class begins (9:00am)
Fall 2019: Connect in a Young Adult Small Group
If you’re interested in any of these fun next steps, click here for more information and for sign-ups!
By Ronda Ooms
In just a few weeks schools across the area will be starting for the 2019-2020 school year. It’s hard to believe that ECC will begin its 13th year of partnering with Miller Elementary School! 13 years ago the school was in the news because of poor testing scores, and at that time there was talk about being taken over by the state. We are so blessed to be a part of the school’s journey towards success. God has led us each step of the way, revealing what we are to do and when! Each year many ECC congregants volunteer in various capacities to work with children, staff and/or families.
Have you considered being a part of the Community Outreach Team? Is the thought of doing something that you haven’t done before overwhelming? Are you ready to think and act outside of the “box” you have made for yourself? I invite you to pray about joining us in the exciting ministry God has allowed us to be a part of! Check out some wonderful thank you notes from Miller students and staff below.
An immediate need is on August 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM. ECC will partner with Bauer Community Center and the school to host a Back To School Carnival. It’s a great way to welcome the children back to school and to get them excited about the new year. ECC hosts the dinner that evening and has multiple game areas that we are in charge of. Help is needed with the food portion and with manning the games. If you have not already signed up to help, you can sign up here.
We will also be collecting donations to help towards school uniforms for families that need assistance. We recommend a donation of $40 per child but of course any amount is greatly appreciated! Donations may be placed in the offering plate on Sunday morning or brought to the church office. Please be sure to write “Miller Uniforms” in the memo portion of your check.
Beginning in September there are many ways that you can be a part of our outreach ministry. We can help in individual classrooms, the library, be a lunch buddy, pack backpacks with food once a week, help with our monthly family night meals at Miller, or bake cookies for classrooms once a month so the kids can celebrate their birthdays. You can also volunteer to help put together teacher appreciation gifts periodically throughout the year. You can find a more detailed description along with the approximate time commitment here.
We are so blessed by our participation at Miller Elementary School. It will be fun to see how God uses us this new school year. We hope you’ll be a part of blessing the wonderful staff and families He has allowed us to partner with! Please email me or give me a call at the church office at 474-4842 if you have any questions.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself.” -Luke 10:27
By Ron Smith
Two years ago, we as a church engaged in the denominational health process called the Vitality Pathway. The Vitality Pathway is a compilation of resources to help a congregation in their journey toward becoming healthier and more missional. The Pathway educates us and helps us to grow and assess our congregation’s culture and life stage, as it compares to our ultimate target, a healthy missional church. By “healthy”, we mean pursuing Christ. By “missional”, we mean pursuing Christ’s priorities in the world. With the leadership of the Vitality Team (which ended last Fall), we have moved through the steps of the Pathway which include the Navigate, Veritas, and Epic workshops, a Service of Consecration, the Pulse Survey, and the Dream Again workshop.
The Ministry Planning Team, as the final step of the Vitality Pathway, started meeting in late 2018 and has continued to meet monthly in 2019. We have been praying and seeking God related to the “monumental change of heart” necessary to move us from a stable church to a healthy missional church. As part of this journey, we have been reading through the book, Necessary Endings, by Henry Cloud to assist us in our thought process about change. Through those discussions, the Pastors have created three themes we are proposing to the Council for consideration for the direction that will lead us toward the monumental change of heart we desire. These three themes (to be presented to the congregation this Fall) represent the passions of our three Pastors and are fully supported by the Ministry Planning Team. Following the discussion with the Council, we will work toward developing a launch plan for the Fall. In addition, we will be evaluating all programs, facilities, and staff to ensure alignment with the themes and the desired monumental change of heart.
Please continue to pray for us as we listen to God, humble ourselves before Him and prepare to go where He leads us.