Posts Tagged ‘Journey’

Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore

Post a Comment » Written on October 2nd, 2013     
Filed under: Reflection, Resources
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Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore…

And How 4 Acts of Love Will Make Your Church Irresistible



The book that will forever change the way you think about church.

The statistics are clear: The American church is in decline. People are leaving in astounding numbers, with no sign of a turnaround. And despite church leaders’ best efforts to stem the tide, more than 80 percent of people are finding something better to do on Sunday mornings.

Why? Is there hope for the future of the church?


In this groundbreaking new book, Thom and Joani Schultz expose the church practices that are driving people away and thwarting spiritual growth. Yet they also reveal what can bring them back—the four keys to reaching the “unchurched” and the “dechurched.”

The bad news? Your church is probably missing the mark when it comes to the core of Christianity. The good news? There’s hope. Lots of it. The truth may surprise you…but it can also transform your ministry into something truly irresistible.

Be a catalyst for radical change in the church by bringing this book to your ministry.


Join the conversation & learn more about the 4 Acts of Love.

Journey to Mosaic trips

Post a Comment » Written on July 24th, 2013     
Filed under: Announcements, Events, Retreat
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Effective ministry happens at the intersection of scripture and the context in which we are placed. A vital role of church leadership is to clearly define reality. One of these realities for PSWC churches is the profound role issues of multiethnicity and multiculturalism play in our setting where dramatic demographic shifts are occurring. The PSWC offers several avenues to address these challenges through immersion experiences for veteran leaders as well as emerging ones. These experiences urge us into the new reality that is unfolding from the powerful work of the gospel among us.

Journey to Mosaic (J2M): A four day experiential bus trip from Northern California to Southern California that pairs people up with somebody of a different ethnic background. It unpacks portions of the African-American, Asian-American, and Hispanic-American stories in California through tours, films, and partner/large group discussions.

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Setting a Rock Solid Table

Setting a Rock Solid Table

Pushing back from the table is the best part of a meal with friends. That’s when the really good conversation comes out. That’s when you really start exploring deeper subjects, family histories, personal tragedies, and more. We’ve had our fill of a good meal. We’ve had our formal, meal-time gathering. The dishes have been passed, the plates have been filled–and emptied. Our stomachs are full. Bring out the coffee–and maybe some desert. … Let’s push back from the table a bit … and talk.

But what if there was no table from which to push back? No firm structure on which to place your hands in order push back your chair? What if there was no meal by which you filled your stomach. No formal feast around which your gathering is organized. What if it was just an empty circle of chairs? Maybe the bowls of food were on the floor or off to the side of the chairs. Maybe each person just held their plates in their laps. Or, what if the table was there but it fell apart as soon you put any weight or pressure on it? Feel …. uncertain? Feel … unstable? Maybe even a little chaotic? Empty?

It’d be hard to enjoy pushing back from the table if there were no table or if it was a rickety thing. We need that firm structure. We need that solid surface so we have something to put our food on, something to rest our elbows on, and…something to put our hands on when we’re ready to push back for the really good conversation.

We all want our kids (and adults) in the church to push back from the table and get into that really good conversation. But,  I wonder if many of us are forgetting to set the table…or even have a table at all. I wonder if the reason that so many in the church feel so lost and uncertain as they try to engage the culture in meaningful conversation is that they never really had a table–a theological table–built or set for them from which they could push back.

I wonder if we’re wanting that really great discussion–that “push back from the table” kind of conversation–about God, faith, the Bible, and the cultural issues we’re facing today so badly that we skip the meal and forget to set the table…lay the foundation…instruct our students according to a “pattern of sound teaching” (Romans 6:17).

I know I’ve been guilty of that over the years. For so long, I would bounce around from topic to topic in my teaching. I would try to find subjects that were interesting to the kids or topics that seemed relevant to the cultural issues of the day. Looking back, I realize that I did not build a strong table around which my students could gather for learning or on which I could place the meat and potatoes of “wholesome teaching” (2 Timothy 1:13).

I wonder if there are others out there doing the same?

These days, I’ve come to really like using Covenant Catechism through its resources titled “Rock Solid” and “The Journey: OT” and “The Journey: NT” as a means of building that table and setting it with the meat and potatoes…a means of “instruct[ing]” students “in the way of the Lord” (Acts 18:25). These resources use a different metaphor in the idea of going on a journey and establishing firm footholds. An adventurous journey is obviously a much more youth friendly metaphor than a dining room table. But, for this conversation, I’d like to stick with my metaphor of the table.

“Rock Solid” is a course developed by the Evangelical Covenant Church built around the 26 “Building Blocks” of the Covenant Catechism (the Greek word katecheo means “instruct”) establishing a firm foundation for faith. In this resource, “Building Blocks” are called “Footholds” Each lesson includes as it’s “Foothold” 1) a Question, 2) an Answer, and 3) a Biblical Text. For example: “Who is God? God is personal, eternal Spirit, Creator of the universe, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father.” Psalm 90:1-2 “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Each lesson also includes several other biblical passages for teaching reference, a suggested opening activity, and a curriculum for exploring connections with the head, the heart, and the hands. It also has an accompanying daily devotional/journal for students to use at home.

Although Rock Solid is based on the Covenant Catechism, it is not bound by denominational distinctives. The Covenant Catechism is very broad in its orthodoxy and centrist in its biblical orientation. It could be used in just about any protestant church.

We use Rock Solid with our 6th graders on Sunday mornings. Although, it can be used for any age group.

Each week, we write the Building Block on a white board in front of the class. The question goes on top. The answer goes below it. Then, after a few minutes of opening conversation (highs and lows, exciting news, etc.) we open with a fun attention-getting activity or object lesson that is either found in the Rock Solid lesson plan, another resource book, or is made up by the teacher. Then the teacher reads the question and invites the kids to turn to the various biblical passages in the day’s lesson, taking turns to read through them. As they read, the teacher explains various terms and concepts mentioned in those texts. Inevitably, kids also ask questions which is great because it affirms and inspires their own formative exploration of the Bible. Then, the teacher reads through the answer to the question on the white board. After each term or phrase, the students are invited to explain or define them in their own words and the teacher helps with examples, or illustrations. Again, the kids ask lots of their own questions because their inquisitive minds are really working by this point in the lesson. Finally, the class practices reciting the answer over and over. After each time it’s recited, though, students take turns erasing one or two words/phrases from the board. Eventually, there is no writing left on the board and the class is reciting the answer by memory. Of course, this isn’t the only way to do memory work but it’s one that works for us. By the way, they love it when the teacher provides some type of reward or treat for the memory work they’ve just done as a group and as individuals.

I think the kids really like the class. It’s especially effective if the opening activity is fun and engaging and if the teacher has a fun personality and is good at handling spontaneous questions.

But our “pattern of sound teaching” doesn’t end with the 6th graders. I consider that year to be the year we build the table…give their faith some structure. After that, we set the table with the meat and potatoes of the Word itself.

The 7th graders spend a school year in the life of Jesus using the “Christ” curriculum from Student Life Bible Study (now owned by NavPress). But we supplement each week’s lesson with a connection to one of the Footholds and another recitation of it to work it into memory. This course also includes a daily devotional/journal for students to take home.

The 8th graders spend a school year in the world of the Old Testament using “The Journey: Old Testament” as the first year of Confirmation. Half of the Footholds of the Covenant Catechism are, again, attached to various lessons throughout the year. And, again, the students use the provided daily devotional/journal as part of their personal formation.

Finally, the 9th graders  spend a school year in the world of the New Testament using “The Journey: New Testament & Beyond,” as the second year of Confirmation. Again, the remaining Footholds are attached to various lessons through the year and each student gets a daily devotional/journal to take home.

By the time students complete their 9th grade year, many of them will have 1) gone through the Covenant Catechism three times in different ages and biblical contexts and 2) studied through all four Gospels, the life of Christ, the entire Old Testament, and the entire New Testament.

This, to me, seems like a Rock Solid table on which students can feast on the Word of God. There is repetition. There are concrete statements to learn. And there’s an orderly “pattern of sound teaching.” After all this feasting around such a firm foundation, they’re ready to push back from that table and engage in some really meaningful conversation. Because they know who God is, what sin is, what the kingdom of God is, what salvation is, etc. They’ve gained a good frame of reference and a real vocabulary with which to have deeper, more meaningful conversations.

But, of course…we all know…the next big meal is just a few hours away. Right? It usually isn’t long before it’s time to set the table again. In other words, there’s more feasting to be had on the Word of God. It doesn’t end in 9th grade and it doesn’t end with a catechism or confirmation…thankfully. Because those times of feasting and pushing back from the table for some really great conversation are some of the best moments in life.

by Jim Murphy

The Journey to Mosaic Squared

Post a Comment » Written on April 22nd, 2013     
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J2M Logo buttonJourney to Mosaic Squared (J2M2): Is a three-week, multiethnic experience to shape and challenge the hearts and minds of 18-23 year old leaders. A diverse group living under one roof follow a rhythm of Scriptural study, hands-on experience, and group processing. They learn more about God, each other, and about the world (helping hurting people and helping stop the things that hurt people). They are
challenged to consider what it means to authentically follow Jesus as they begin to consider their studies, careers, relationships, and lifestyles.

Experience the opportunities and challenges of life and ministry in an urban context
Live together in a diverse community guided by two leaders
Explore God’s heart for compassion, mercy, and justice
Hear the stories of people who have chosen to live and minister in the inner city
Interact with civic and community leaders
Explore God’s will for your life

For Journey to Mosaic Squared for 2013 we do not yet have exact dates, but it will be held in July. To view flyer for upcoming 2013 trip, click here and for registration for click here.

You may contact Nelly Bothi at the Pacific Southwest Conference office should you have questions or need further information, or (925) 677-2140.



Post a Comment » Written on June 27th, 2011     
Filed under: CHIC
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Check out the updated CHIC2012 Website!

The Feast 2011

June 25-28, 2011 Estes Park, YMCA of the Rockies, CO
We would like to have as many people as possible experience the Feast, a spiritual life experience for the whole intergenerational, multi- ethnic Covenant Family (
Consider this: we invest in things all the time. We invest in the latest technology, education, causes we believe in, relationships, learning and mastering new challenges. As a church we invest in our community, missions, compassion, mercy, and justice. We invest in discipleship by mentoring, teaching, and caring for others. We invest in the spiritual walks of children, youth and adults.

As a church, please consider investing in a child, a youth, a young adult, a couple, a young family or a retiree. Invest in their faith walk and encourage them in their journey by sending them to the Feast. The Feast is a unique opportunity to do life together and experience the best of who God has made us to be… and embody the Kingdom of God!

In an effort to make these gatherings more accessible, we’ve made some adjustments to registration costs; keep reading! Continue Reading »

Hold Life Loosely

Post a Comment » Written on June 6th, 2011     
Filed under: Reflection
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Reid Olson serves on the Speaker Team and describes himself as “just a normal guy, married with 2 kids in middle school, embracing my 40’s, who thinks he hasn’t done much for transforming this world into anything monumental, but when God speaks through me, it’s fun to watch Him use me like a tool to do His ‘thing’. That’s all.”

In March he put pen to paper, scratch that, he put his fingers on the home keys and got to typing a blog post.  Since writing the post a few things have transpired…here is what he has to say about the time between then and now:

Since writing this article, I’ve been released from my ministry position as Pastor of Students at Pine Lake Covenant. I revisit this article often as the Lord continues to speak to me about His prompting in writing it. I had no idea that life would transpire as it has, but I have truly been able to live out this blog post in more ways than one.

I know that God is working in the lives of our family. I know that God will not abandon us. I know that holding things loosely in my life is really the only way to find sanity and stability. I often feel like I want to grab at the controls again and squeeze tightly the things I want to control, but the more I squeeze, the less control I really have over anything.

God is teaching me the reality of trusting His lead, sometimes in more ways that are uncomfortably not how I’d like to learn to trust. When I recall the characters in Scripture, I’m reminded that they didn’t get much of the easy way of faith either, so I suppose we’re all in good company.

Please pray for our family as we seek God’s next call for us. After summer sabbatical we are looking for a lead pastor position… Will preach for food. :)

Click here to read his blog post entitled “Hold Life Loosely”.


Post a Comment » Written on May 30th, 2011     
Filed under: Events
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We are pleased to announce the dates for our next Sankofa journey. We will be journeying August 4-7, 2011 and would love to have you join us. For your convenience, a registration form is attached here. You can learn more about the journey and watch a short video here.

Would you consider helping to spread the word to your friends and church? Feel free to forward on this email and direct people to Chrissy.Palmerlee(at) with any questions.

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National Youth Survey

Post a Comment » Written on May 30th, 2011     
Filed under: Events
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Do you really know how the youth in your community or ministry feel about God, Church, ethics and sexuality?  How would it affect your strategies if you had a “snapshot” of their REAL beliefs, values and behaviors?  What would you do differently if you knew exactly how they felt about your youth ministry/organization?

These areas are being explored in a national survey and your youth ministry/organization is invited to participate.

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Post a Comment » Written on May 23rd, 2011     
Filed under: Resources, Web Resource
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Have you heard about

Marti Burger was attending a meeting last week where she was introduced to the President of Groundwire, Sean Dunn. Sean is a gifted communicator who partners with religious organizations to assist them with camps, conferences, retreats, youth weekends, spiritual emphasis weeks, chapel services, missions training, outreaches, youth ministry, training and consulting, radio programs, television ministry, outreaches and crusades. His passion to reach out is obvious. Read on to learn more about the work Groundwire is committed to on the WWW and TV.

To put it simply, we leverage mainstream media to communicate the message of Christ.  By buying time on TV outlets (MTV, Vh1, Comedy Central, Adult Swim) and top radio stations (hip-hop, country, rock, and alternative, we can keep positive, Christ-focused messages in the heart of the media.  To watch a couple of the 30-second commercials currently airing, you can click on the link below.

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