Despite all fears and anxieties, ACC’s Kickoff weekend was a success! Our church has been challenged with the mandate to unite around our mission to make discipleRs, and this weekend proved that people are on board and desire to be a part of what God is doing.
The weekend started off on Friday, September 17th with a powerful time of worship and prayer. The goal was to dedicate ourselves to God as we launch, not only into the weekend, but into the coming season as well. It is our prayer that we endeavor to follow Christ alone as we learn more about what that means here in this time.
Saturday morning began with a seminar / workshop for small group leaders. It was an opportunity to bring some refining and clarification to small groups. We were challenged to think beyond our preconceived notions of what a small group is – not just a means to build relationships between each other and God, but also the church’s primary instrument for raising up discipleRs. We had to ask ourselves the tough question of whether or not our groups exist primarily for our own benefit, or for the benefit God’s mission to reach the lost in our community.
The last half of the meeting was a demonstration of Biblical Storytelling – a phenomenon that is literally sweeping the world. It seems that our culture and other cultures are rediscovering the power of orality as a means of communicating God’s word in such a way that goes beyond mere analytical processing. It is a way of hearing that embeds itself into the heart of the listener, not just the mind. In an age when we are constantly bombarded with so much information, it is difficult for communication to penetrate the surface. Our hope is to utilize this tool as a means of connecting people with God’s word in a powerful way that enables us to grow, to be changed, and to impact the lives of others around us as well.
On Saturday afternoon, there was a gathering at Bowman’s Bay that included canoe races, games such as egg toss, and an overall good time for laughter and fun together. As might be expected, two of the canoes went after each other, and none of their passengers escaped without plunging into the cold, pacific waters. It was a lot of fun to watch.
Saturday evening was a momentous occasion. We gathered together for a prime rib banquet prepared to honor all who have been present with us at ACC and have served in any capacity over the previous year. It was a chance to celebrate our journey together, but also to look ahead at where we believe God is leading us in this next season.
John shared more about Christ’s mission to make discipleRs and our desire to tackle that mission head-on in the coming years. After John spoke, we got to hear a powerful testimony from one of our members about how God has dramatically changed his life in recent months. As the man put it: “God had basically let the string run out as far as it would go… My family had a crisis and began to fall apart.” He shared about how he had been in and out of ACC all of his life, but had never really let God take the reigns. He revealed his private usage of drugs, his pursuit of wealth, and more, only to realize one Sunday morning how meaningless and worthless it all was. He found himself during a closing song literally shaking as the words penetrated his heart. It occurred to him in that moment that he was crying out to God – crying for mercy, help, repentance, etc… and God answered. “Who am I today? I am a man with no rights. A man with no rights being led by God.”
Mike followed up the testimony with an opportunity to commit to the team at ACC, and it’s mission to make disciples – to see more healing, restoration, saving, etc. It was a powerful time for all.
On Sunday morning, John shared more about where God is leading this church. John outlined a strategy for making discipleRs in the coming season. The message was clear: This is more than something we value and are simply telling people to do. We are restructuring everything around it. The process begins when someone walks through the door of the church or a small group, and carries them through until the point where they are making discipleRs themselves.
If the church is a team, then what is the win? In the past, it has been all too easy to simply “get someone saved,” celebrate their baptism, but then leave them with no practical structure or function to engage them and grow them in Christ’s mission. This season is all about redefining the win. Victory is not simply celebrated when the lost are reached. Victory is truly celebrated when the lost are not only reached, but are reaching others in turn. Having a model for discipleship that replicates itself is key to the success of our team at ACC, and we are calling all to get on board – primarily in the area of small groups.
After the service, there was a barbecue and Ministry / Small Group Fair, giving people the chance to get plugged in in whatever capacity they felt called to.
We are still in process as God shapes this new direction for our family at ACC. We pray that He will guide, lead, and bless it, and that He would draw others in to participate in the process as well. If you are a member of our team at ACC, we are strongly asking that you pray about what God would have you do to get involved. It may involve some risk, or some sacrifice, but we are convinced that you will find it more than worthwhile.
We would like to thank our deacons, deaconesses, youth, the McNeils, D. Juhl, B. Walters, those that helped with setup and cleanup, those that donated the use of their canoes, and many more, for contributing to a wonderful and meaningful weekend. God bless.