The aim of any healthy church is to foster community depth in order to live out the full expression of what God designed the church to be. Besides our general tendency to just be lazy there are many things working against the goal of becoming a tight church community.
People are busy. Because the economy isn't great families are required to work more to make ends meet. Social media, smartphones, tv and video games have caused social isolation. In Providence the church community is transient. People are always coming and going, which makes relationship building more challenging. Because many Christians are not doing well spiritually their appetite for fellowship is small. At Ren we have a special challenge of having such wide diversity that we can't rely on common cultural interests or background to glue us together. In today's society people work first, second, third or swing shifts. Schedules are greatly varied which make it challenging to find times to meet that work for everyone. We could keep going.
The point is that being a deep community is not easy and requires effort. The following is a thorough listing of all the various opportunities at Ren to help you grow in your relationship with God and one another. Take some time to prayerfully read through it and determine what works best for you in this new year.
Pastor Scott Axtmann
Church is not something we go to on Sunday but it's who we are. The church is the people. But as the church we are devoted to gathering together for worship. Sundays are certainly not the only time we gather but in some sense it's the most important gathering. There is a special manifestation of God’s presence when we are all together. Those called to preach are speaking the words that God specifically has for this local church. Sundays also tend to be the gathering that attracts and impacts “outsiders and unbelievers” more than any other. Be devoted to coming Sundays not only to receive but also to serve in cafe, welcome area, kids church, prayer, visual arts, security or music. We can help you find a place to serve. We are praying that each and every Sunday gathering would be dramatically marked by the tangible presence of God and that the Word would profoundly shape hearts!
For the Love of His Music
Most of us probably don't realize it but much of our sound system is either broken, borrowed or subpar. We are long overdue to make some needed updates. As a fun way to raise money we have set apart two Sunday evenings in the next couple months for extended worship.
These worship nights will be free admission but we will sell food and beverages and also take an offering. All income generated will go directly toward the sound system updates.
A good segment of people who attend Ren are either new or have not become deeply part of the community yet. Especially with a transient diverse urban church that attracts so many guests each week, it can be difficult for new people to integrate. We want to help. We encourage you to go to the welcome area after service on Sundays to discuss ways to get involved. We also are going to have occasional forums right after service open to anyone to find out more about the church. Pastor Scott and Tiffany will also be opening their home as often as possible to bring newer folks together. And other couples in the church will be doing the same. It is our constant prayer that every person in the community begins to really feel part of the church family. If you've been attending for a while and still feel like you haven't connected don't be embarrassed. It's natural for it to take time. Pastor Scott and the staff are happy to help in any way they can so don't be afraid to ask for help.
THE ANVIL MEN'S GROUP
It's on our hearts to gather men who are serious about spiritual growth twice a month on Thursday evenings (2nd and 4th Thursdays) 7:30-9pm for the purpose of serious discipleship. It will run for 10 months February-November (20 sessions). We are calling this group “Anvil” which is something that metal is placed on to be banged into shape. In the same way God will place men into this group to shape and form them into the image of Christ. This is open to any men who regularly attend the church whether new Christian or experienced leader.
The group will involve deep discipleship in becoming a greater man of God in virtually every aspect of life. We will talk about relationships, work, integrity, responsibility, reliability, spiritual disciplines, meekness, moral backbone, leadership and many other practical life issues. We will read several books together throughout the duration of the 10 months. Books will be provided by the church.
We are asking men to aim for 80% attendance commitment. The point is that if you decide to be part of this you need to be serious.
If you are interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a few words of why you want to do this.
WOMEN'S BIBLE STUDY
There is a time of fellowship and discussion of the Word on Wednesday mornings at REN 9:30-11am. The name of the study is called "Faithful, Abundant, and True". Children are welcome! Contact Lora Wills at email@example.com for more info.
We realize that morning may not be best for all women. If you are interested in gathering with other women in an evening for deeper discipleship please let us know and we will work on setting something in motion.
In 2017 we are going to change the format of the weekly Wednesday 7-8:30pm Refresh gathering to include systematic teaching from the Word or going through great Christian books. Usually the gathering is just prayer but starting in February the format will be the Word and prayer. We will begin with the epistle of 1 Timothy. Each gathering will open with a short time of prayer or worship. The teaching will be approximately 45 minutes and the last half hour will be devoted to prayer.
Through the Fall of 2016 we have been partnering with another local church to establish a thriving youth ministry every Friday night. There are well over a dozen dedicated staff and volunteers serving and a beautiful little community of youth from 6th-12th grade coming together. From 6-7:30pm there is open time which allows the youth to play games like foosball, air hockey, Wii and board games. At 7:30 there is a more structured time of worship, testimonies, teaching and small group discussion. Contact Chris Waugh for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANCHORED YOUNG ADULTS
One of the most vibrant communities in the church is the young adult group called Anchored. We define young adult as anyone out of high school and under 40. They meet in the sanctuary almost every Sunday evening at 6:30pm for worship, fellowship, prayer and Bible discussion. They are presently studying the book of 1 Samuel. Besides the Sunday evening regular gathering they also have a variety of special gatherings throughout the year including celebrations, outings, game nights and outreaches. Contact Rachel for more details at email@example.com.
Those who are young couples at Ren are encouraged to be part of the young adult Anchored community as much as possible. Though there are mostly singles within the young adult community the married couples bring a nice aspect to the mix. But in addition, there is a gathering once a month on the second Tuesdays at 7:00pm at Ren. It's a time of life sharing and teaching on various elements that make relationships strong. This group is designed for serious dating couples, engaged couples and newlyweds but is really open to any couples in the church who need strengthening. Make note however that there is no childcare available for these gatherings. Becky and Damien Plante lead this ministry and you can contact them for more details at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the last year we have continued to experience an increase in the number of families in the church to the point of having nearly 100 children in our midst. Trying to gather all the families together for special events has become quite difficult to do at the church space. The loose idea for 2017 is to plan some gatherings outside at parks, beaches and other fun places. Also, we will be working to pull together 2-3 families at a time for dinner parties on a regular basis. If you have a family we strongly encourage you to invite another family over for a meal or to do something fun. While we are going to organize some structured opportunities it is becoming evident that the best way for families to get to know one another is through more organic get togethers. So take initiative!
In the new year we want to continue to foster relationships in the over 40 circle. We've tried a variety of different gatherings in different locations and they all have had their pros and cons. The dinner parties at homes were perhaps the most fruitful so we'd like to continue those as much as possible. To create some degree of consistency we are aiming to gather on a Sunday evening of each month from 5-8pm. We can continue doing potlucks and have the gatherings at a different house each month.
Last year we did a variety of things to impact our neighborhood and especially the homeless community surrounding us. In 2017 we are planning to do a monthly Saturday event specifically geared for families. The plan is to utilize the arts as a way to build relationships and teach the Gospel. Keep your ears open for more details. Once the youth community on Fridays is a little more established we are going to start creating some outreaches to impact the many high schools around the church. The Tuesday morning Bible study for women who are experiencing homelessness will continue, led by Jackie Plante and Donna Moss. And we are presently exploring other ways to serve the homeless. If you are interested in getting involved with any of these outreaches contact Pastor Scott and he can direct you.
In 2017 we are taking on a completely new approach to supporting missionaries. For years we have supported about a dozen different missionaries about $30-50 month. The weakness of this system is that most of the church community doesn't think about the missionaries. Many don't even know what they are doing or what they even look like. There's no motivation to give because Ren is already giving monthly support.
What we are doing instead is focusing on one missionary a month. We will put their picture up each week, talk about them and pray for them. Ren will continue to give $600 out of missions to each missionary but will add whatever anyone else in the community contributes. There are special colored envelopes and whatever money goes in the envelope will go directly to the missionaries. Doing a little math, if 150 of us gave an average of $50 a month to each missionary it would amount to an exciting $7500. What a blessing to lavish these hard working missionaries all over the world!
Coming into 2017 the strongest thing on our hearts is the need to support and empower our leaders. “No church is greater than its leadership,” as someone once said. Not only must leaders be strong but we absolutely must be unified.
In light of this we are going to set aside the 3rd Thursday of each month from 7:30-9pm to gather. This will include elders, staff, worship leaders, Sunday team leaders, outreach directors, small group and fellowship leaders and so on. Basically, anyone leading a ministry at Ren in an official capacity will be included. We will use this time to discuss vision and strategy, to share struggles, to equip and to pray.
In this new year we are going to have Core gatherings on all 5th Thursdays. There are four throughout the year.
The Core is the official Ren membership and the first gathering March 30th will be made up of those who are part of the renewed 2017 Core. In times past we have been rather loose about membership but have decided to call for a more serious commitment this year. To be part of the 2017 Core it is required that you attend five Core teaching sessions. Topics will include Ren history, ethos, vision and covenant. The teachings will be on the first four Wednesday evenings in the month of March from 7-8:30. Because not everyone can attend these Wednesday sessions the recordings will be made available online.