Life Groups

Church Family,

I want to take a few minutes to explain and encourage you to consider Life Groups.  To fulfill the mission of the church, which is to make disciples, we need to be strategic and straightforward in our approach.  That is why we have simplified our discipleship process by thinking through three crucial areas in the life of the church; large gatherings, small gatherings, and 1-1.  This simple discipleship process captures all the various relationships one should pursue in the church.  We believe that if an individual any given week were to be a part of our Sunday Gathering, a Life Group, and at different times 1-1 bible reading, then our chances of fulfilling the mission of the church is much more likely.  We must ensure all those areas are adequately resourced so that discipleship can and does happen. This might be new to many who have experienced a more program-driven approach; and, therefore, make the transitions as we implement new things a little bumpy.  In light of that, It is wise to give as much clarity on the “why” of different ministry efforts.  Let me give you a few details on Life Groups and hopefully show its effectiveness in making disciples.

What?

A smaller gathering of our church family in a home to share a meal with the aim of letting God’s Word change us.

Why?

“Why” is a crucial question to consider in any ministry effort.  Ministry often focuses on one of the following: head, heart, and hands.  Head knowledge about God, the Bible, Jesus, our Salvation, etc. is crucial for any disciple of Jesus to pursue a life of joy and holiness.  Though true, that knowledge must change us.  It is not intended to stay in our minds but move towards our hearts to change us at our very core.  Therefore, changing our actions, our hands.  We believe the best way to take our head knowledge (the typical focus of the Sunday Gathering) and let it work on our hearts and hands, is in smaller gatherings, hench Life Groups.  A Life Group does more than impart knowledge and establish community; it aims to apply the gospel to our lives and help other believers do the same.

How?

We believe the most strategic way to structure these groups is simply by making them generationally diverse.  Being generationally diverse helps us accomplish what Paul asked Titus to do in Titus 2, and not to mention the wealth of knowledge and experience different generations can learn from one another.

Next Step

If you are interested, fill out the form below…really, that’s it!

Life Groups

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Good Bible Reading Resources

Church Family,

As we become more and more dependent on God’s Word to be our authoritative guide, there is a need to “study well” to mine the gold that exists in God’s very word to us.  By God’s grace, there are wonderful resources that we can use to be drawn into the living and active scriptures (Heb 4:12).  Below is a list of resources I have found extremely helpful over the years.  I have separated them into resources that are geared towards head knowledge (understanding the text and all its technical aspects), and heart knowledge (taking the understanding into our hearts for transformation).

Head

Gordon Fee, Reading the Bible for all its Worth

ESV Study Bible

New Bible Dictionary (to look up key theological terms)

New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (to look up key theological themes)

There are many online resources and programs for diving into specific words

Heart

Lectio Divina (Divine Reading: an ancient way of reading scripture to aid transformation)

One-to-One Bible Reading

Seven Arrows

Prayer Team

Church Family,

Sunday was yet another great day of reading God’s Word, singing God’s Word, praying God’s Word, and preaching God’s Word.  1 Corinthians reminded us that maturity makes us mindful of the cross in all of life.  We must never lose sight of the cross of Christ; it is for all of life.  If you missed this past Sunday, click here to listen to the message.  Also, click here to read the article I referenced during Sunday’s message.

Prayer Team

Calling all prayer warriors!  We want to strengthen our prayers for one another and provide a good avenue for you to make us aware of your needs.  We intend to continue using the Connection Cards to gather prayer needs and then pass them along to a team of individuals who will saturate those needs in prayer.  Let me know if you are interested in being a part of this team or sign up in the foyer at the welcome desk.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

God’s Wisdom

Brothers and Sisters,

I do hope you have found 1 Corinthians to be both encouraging and challenging.  Sunday we explored (click here to listen) how God’s wisdom is witnessed in perceived weakness.  What the world perceives is weak and foolish about God is actually the power of God.  “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18).  AMEN!

 

Sunday Studies

This Sunday (Sept 22nd) we will start a new Sunday Study called Our Life Together.  If you have never attended a Sunday Study, let me take this moment to encourage you to mark your calendar and plan on attending.  This particular study will be a great first experience to Sunday Studies and a fantastic way to see what they are designed to accomplish.  If you want to know more about Sunday Studies, click here to read a description and see below for an explanation to this Sunday’s Study.

Jesus’ death and resurrection provide the foundation for unity, not only with God but also with God’s people. This unity is so distinct that Jesus based the credibility of his mission upon it. In this class, we will discuss how to preserve and enjoy harmony in the church, enabling us by God’s grace to be the type of church everyone longs for. 

The “Why” of Disciple-Makers

Brothers and Sisters,

What a beautiful Sunday we shared as a church family.  Our series in 1 Corinthians is providing us with great insight into our lives together as the church; as a local gathering of believers.  Click here to hear yesterday’s sermon.

Last Wednesday, I shared the reason why we will be a church that pushes discipleship through 1-1 bible reading.  So, for those that missed, I have provided that talk below.  Just push play and listen.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

 

Measures of Health (Part 3)

Church Family,

This post is the final installment on our discussion of measures of a healthy church.  The last measure we use to determine health is a willingness to share hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples.

God has and will always care about all nations (Ps 96).  Our Duty (Matt 9:35-38, Matt 28:16-20, 2 Cor 5:14-15, Rom 1:16, 10:17, 1 Peter 3:15) as Christians is to willingly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who do not know him.  We acknowledge that sin must be dealt with for ourselves and others to live fully (John 10:10).  Sin has utterly and entirely ruined man; therefore, humanity needs a Savior (John 6:44-45, Rom 2:29, 3:1-20, 5:12-21, 1 Cor 15:22, Titus 3:5).  It is no small thing to consider the far-reaching effects of sin on the world around us, and we deeply desire to give an adequate response that actually works; Jesus death, burial, and resurrection.  The follower of Jesus will arm themselves with the gospel (Eph 6:17) to go and free sinners who are enslaved; to cut the cords of bondage caused by our sin (Heb 12:1-3)!

We are not only compelled to share hope through the gospel of Jesus Christ because of the devastating effects of sin but because the entire storyline of the bible has pointed towards Jesus (Gen 3:15, 12:3, Ps 2, 110, Matt 1:21-23, Gal 3).  He is the common thread throughout all scripture that brings God’s Kingdom on earth, that redeems God’s people, and fulfills all of God’s promises.  Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah who creates peace between us and God (Rom 5:1).  The point of scripture is to exalt Jesus, so we too want to exalt Jesus.

As we have done in previous posts (here and here), though not comprehensive, these are great ways to observe in each other this measure:

  • A growing esteem for Jesus Christ
  • Leverage everything for gospel work
  • Heart focused 
  • Compassion for the nations
  • Sensitivity towards the less fortunate

 

Disciple-Makers

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our informational meeting on September 4th at 6:30 pm.  Click here to read more and to register and let us know you are coming.

 

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

Measures of Health (Part 2)

Brothers and Sisters,

This week we will discuss our second measure of health: Love others sacrificially.

In the same conversation (discussed last week) where Jesus was asked to summarize the entire law, he gives a second command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18 /Matt 22:39 / Mark 12:31 / Luke 10:27b / Rom. 13:9 / Gal. 5:14 / James 2:8).  As you can see the multiple references from Old to New Testament, loving others sacrificially should most certainly identify the people of God.  The people of God have been so radically loved that enables them to love radically.  Notice the extent to which we are called to love others; like ourselves.  There is hardly a day that goes by that we do not consider what is best for us; this is how we are to think of others.  

If we are to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, then we are, as he did, to love others sacrificially in order to see them love him.  After Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, he said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).  This sacrificial love does not only extend to the “one another’s” of scripture but those who are outside a relationship with Jesus (Col 3:5-6 / Titus 3:14).

As God’s people become healthy, inevitably it will work its way out into our daily relationships.  Though not comprehensive, here are some ways to see health in a local gathering:

  • Love for our immediate neighbors
  • Frequent time in prayer for others
  • A willingness to extend forgiveness
  • Gracious and generous
  • Involved in discipleship

 

Disciple-Makers

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for our informational meeting on September 4th at 6:30 pm.  Click here to read more and to register and let us know you are coming.

Disciple-Makers Class

Church Family,

This past Sunday, we announced that on Wednesday, September 4th we will have an information night about our first ever Disciple-Makers Class. Disciple-Makers is designed to help equip and encourage a follower of Christ to fulfill their responsibility of making disciples.  It is a two-semester course that covers a variety of foundational beliefs, efficient ways to read Scripture with believers and non-believers, and the ins and outs of how we change.  On average, it will require about 30-45 minutes of reading each week before the class.  Then, each Wednesday from 6:30pm-8pm, there will be discussion and practice reading Scripture with others.

If there was anything on our church calendar that better communicates our heart-beat, it is this class.  We are deeply passionate about God’s Word and letting it permeate our life together, especially in discipleship.  Discipleship means helping each other to know and follow God more. We strive to intentionally be in each other’s lives so that we can build healthy, transparent relationships to help one another have greater faith in Christ.  But if we are honest, that is not easy!  There is great anxiety we feel when trying to understand and to communicate the truths of Scripture to one another.  This often paralyzes us to do nothing.  Here at Light in the Desert Church, we want to ease that anxiety by training us all to handle God’s Word well and how to deal with tough issues that will inevitably come up when we open our lives to each other.  Mark your calendars and plan on being here on September 4th at 6:30 pm.

Please register below so we can be prepared with packets and books!

 

Disciple-Makers Class

Measures of Health (Part 1)

Church Family,

Last week we posed the question of, “What are proper measures that a church, primarily the people, are becoming healthy?”  Another way to put it is, “How are we going to measure the mission God has given us to make disciples?”  It is that focus that will drive a series of three posts in the coming weeks.  This week we start with our first measure; Love God Supremely.

When Jesus was asked to summarize the entire law, which was supposed to guide the people of God, he said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Deut 6:4-5 / Matt 22:37 / Mark 12:30 / Luke 10:27). Jesus, in essence, is saying that the most important thing about a follower of God is that he/she love God supremely. This threefold love is with mind, soul, and heart—all of oneself is to love God. To be the people of God is be people marked by a deep love and affection for him. (Rom 12:11).

A follower of God is called to find their greatest delight in the Lord (Ps 16:11, 37:4 / Phil 4:4). From the Old Testament to the New Testament, scriptures instruct us to see God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit as most enjoyable above all other pursuits. Light in the Desert Church wants to see all who gather here long for God more than earthly pleasures. Much like the parable Jesus told about a man who found a treasure in a field and then in joy went and sold all he had to purchase that field (Matt 13:44). The treasure was Jesus; what he sold was earthly pursuits.

When God becomes our treasure, it radically reorients our lives and places our greatest love and affection on Him.  Though not comprehensive, a love for God supremely will work its way out in our lives through:

  • A growing esteem for Jesus
  • Living a life of repentance
  • Interest in theology and doctrine
  • Deep devotion to the Word of God

Brothers and Sisters, these are great measures that we, the church, are getting healthy!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan

 

Resources for further reading:

Jared C. Wilson, The Gospel-Driven Church: Uniting Church-Growth Dreams with the Metrics of Grace (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2019), 53-71.

Jonathan Edwards, Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God

Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church (Wheaton: Crossway, 2000)

Slow growth is good growth

Brothers and Sisters,

In a world of drive-thrus and Amazon Prime, we have grown rather impatient.  We can, at times (especially in a replant), believe that growth should only focus on money and numbers, and it should happen quickly.  We are such an impatient people that when things do not work “right away,” we tend to either think something is wrong with us individually, or the leadership is out of touch, or the people who make up the church are unwilling.  Now, there might be a measure of truth in those things, but, more than likely, it is God’s grace.  Slow growth is good growth.  It is sustainable and humbling.  Pride does not get out of hand, and self-reliance is not possible over the long haul.  Much like the Palo Verde tree; it grows quickly, and we enjoy its shade, but when the first burst of wind comes…it is gone!  So we can put out quick shade and have people marvel at its coolness, or we can build a strong foundation that will stand a lifetime.  We want a strong foundation and the measures of that, are often different than what gets the most attention.  Over the next couple of weeks, we will explore the measures of a healthy church in several separate blog post.  Keep your eyes open for them and be in prayer that we would continue to become a healthy church.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Bryan