Articles for the Month of August 2017

Journey Through Cactusville–VBX 2017 Recap

Howdy Buckaroos & Cowpokes!

Just like that, Vacation Bible Xperience is over! We had a blast in Cactusville as we learned and experienced in a variety of ways how ‘kids are called to follow Jesus’.

The excitement started before Cactusville opened to the public. A group of volunteers met the evening before to transform our entire church into a western-ranch setting. Each day began with an opening Round-Up, which had songs, skits, and fun. There were themes for each day, expanding on how kids called to follow Jesus. A Cactusville Critter was introduced, with some basic information on their lives and how they too are called.

Tarantula Tammy was called to be different, like John the Baptist.
Prairie Dog Pete was called to be faithful, like Abraham.
Chuck the Chuckwalla was called to forgive, like Joseph.
Pack Mule Patty was called to serve, like Deborah.
Road Runner Roy was called to give, like Jesus.

The sub-themes were used for the entire three hours, throughout the various stations:

Sunset Canyon was the prayer room.
Chuckwagon Station filled hungry tummies with delicious snacks.
Trading Post was where creativity was explored through crafts.
Wild Horse Corral provided the space to run and play.
Campfire Stories was the interactive place to learn Bible stories.

By the week’s end, the deputies-in-training were familiar with the Golden Nugget, which is found in 2 Timothy 1:9 (NKJV):

{Jesus}…who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.

The Adventist VBX programs also include a special mission project each year. For 2017, the theme is ‘Operation Wheels‘. The children learned about five different refugee families of various nationalities, who now reside in Arizona, United States. Operation Wheels is working to purchase a bus. This vehicle will help to provide transportation for refugee families to attend school, adult education classes, work, worship and more.

Our children were eager to participate and came with coins jangling in their pockets each evening and raised $222.22 by the end of the week!

In addition to being fully deputized, the children also made a decision to follow Jesus. It was a blessing to watch their excitement as they chose Jesus for themselves. Many parents and children were grateful for their time in Cactusville and are eagerly anticipating VBX 2018.

A special THANK YOU to all the hard working volunteers. Thank you for your donations and loans of décor items, for the setup and take down crew, constructing the backdrop, leading the various stations, wrangling support (adult supervisors), audio-visual, registration and prayerful support. Though the target of this ministry is the children, we are all involved in the work.

An extra special THANK YOU to our faithful organizer, Sheryl!! She has been working for months to ensure that VBX was truly a blessing! We appreciate you, Sheryl!

Check out our slideshow of our week at Cactusville.

Circle of Ten

The church was packed as an usher found room for us to sit. We were on vacation and had heard it was Visitor’s Day at this particular church, so we decided to visit. We sat sandwiched between other worshippers, curious as to what would make their Visitor’s Day remarkable. The most memorable part of the experience was how we were greeted.

Nobody said hello. One woman attempted to grab my baby for a cuddle, without even so much as a smile and was unsuccessful. There were a few smiles exchanged. But in a facility full of hundreds of people, it was disappointing to see that no one would even greet us.

We can learn from the experiences of others. We can choose to do things differently at Henderson Highway Church. Each opportunity to smile, greet and interact with a guest is an opportunity for them to meet Jesus through us. A great way to ensure everyone gets noticed is to apply the ‘Circle of Ten’.

Let’s picture ourselves each standing in the middle of a 10-foot hula hoop. With a hoop that wide, those ten feet are bound to bump into someone else. In a full sanctuary, we will each bump into many someones. What if we got into the habit of greeting everyone who came within our hula hoop range? Look behind, in front, to the left and to the right. Those are the people to share a warm smile with, a handshake, a simple greeting.

The beauty of the ‘Circle of Ten’ is that everyone is working with the same range. The person next to you, the leader up front, the child in the parents’ room–we are all in the middle of a 10-foot hoop too. This creates overlap so that no one is isolated.

Let’s take time to greet everyone who comes within our circle, particularly those we don’t know well. This will ensure that they are noticed and welcomed.

 

 

 

 

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This is part of our Practicing Hospitality series. Visit the introduction page to read the other articles in the series.

Make the First Move


This point is often underrated because it’s a simple one.

Make the first move. Be the initiator.

Some business establishments seem to have this concept mastered. They want our dollars and our repeat business. One way to make the potential spending experience memorable is to value their clients. Staff are assigned to welcome everyone who comes on their premises. Whether they are a familiar face or not, everybody is greeted. Clients may even be asked if they need help finding a particular product or area for their needs. Then they are escorted or passed off to another staff member who can best assist them.

Ideally, the church setting operates in a similar manner. As Christians, we should be highly interested in everyone who comes through our church doors because this is a chance for them to meet Jesus and experience His love. We don’t know what may have impelled someone to visit our church. They may be coming due to tradition or because they were invited or for any reason in between. If we all make an effort to proactively greet everyone, whether they are familiar to us or not, it would brighten the atmosphere in our church.

Smiling is not a duty reserved only for the greeter team. We can all get into the habit of smiling at each other first. It does take courage to say ‘hello’. With practice, however, it will soon become natural. We may not know all the answers, but we can direct our guests to someone who is better equipped to assist them.

Let’s work on making the first move. We don’t need to wait or assume that anyone else is doing it. It is harmless and heartwarming for our guests and members to receive dozens of smiles.

 

 

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This is part of our Practicing Hospitality series. Visit the introduction page to read the other articles in the series.

 

EndItNow Campaign


Barcelona. Charlottesville. Winnipeg.

These are beautiful cities with rich histories. They are filled with amazing people who are living through fantastic and jaw-dropping stories. Yet, these cities have been in news headlines this week for reasons other than their beauty.

When we, as humans, choose to focus more on our differences rather than our similarities, boundaries get crossed. This often results in abuse and violence. When we view fellow humans as inferior for any reason, we are insulting God, the Creator of mankind.

Abuse is not God’s ideal for us, His creation. Yet, sadly, we are not immune to abuse or its effects, even among believers.

Abuse is nasty!

Everyone is affected, whether directly or indirectly, by various forms of abuse and its long lasting effects. To help combat this issue, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists has created the enditnow campaign. They are working to empower local churches and their respective communities to break the cycle of abuses around them. In addition to destroying these devastating cycles, they aim to strengthen the good and help with the restoration process.

Our Women’s Ministry team will be leading out in worship on August 26. They will focus on EndItNow, which occurs annually on the fourth Saturday in August. In addition to raising awareness to the issues of abuse and violence, the team wants to provide local support and resources for our church and surrounding community in Winnipeg.

 

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There is a free pastors’ summit on abuse which will be live-streamed on Monday, September 11. This event, intended for adult audiences, is scheduled for 11:00 am to 3:30 pm. Though pastors are the target audience, the information will be useful for leaders regardless of your platform. Some of the presentations include: Child-to-Child Bullying, Misapplied Scriptures, Teen Dating Violence and more.

Look for the ‘Lost Look’


As children, we may have been taught who to look for if we were lost. There are people available who are able to assist those who need help.

In the church setting, things are different. Our guests may not know who is available to assist them. We need to proactively seek them out. Many people have a look of uncertainty when visiting some place new for the first time. Those of us who have been attending here for years have had time to get used to the facility and the people. Imagine what it feels like to walk through these doors for the very first time. As you enter the front doors of our church, you’re on a landing between two sets of stairs. Immediately, you’ve got to take action: do you go upstairs or downstairs?

If someone looks like they don’t know where to go, then they probably don’t. Let’s step out of our comfort zones and offer help. In this moment, we’re directing them to the right place or person. As an added challenge, don’t just tell them where to go. Show them. Walk with them to the appropriate location.

Think of the ‘lost look’ as an ice breaker. This is a moment to welcome them to our church and make a loving impression. We may be the first contact they have when they enter. We don’t have to be an official part of the Greeter Ministry in order to welcome someone to our church.

Our guests have a variety of reasons why they visit with us. Regardless of their reasons for coming, we can be consistent and intentional in caring for our guests. We can do our best to love everyone who comes through our doors because Jesus loves them. Caring for our guests is an active example of Jesus’ love.

Small interactions, when done in love, make lasting impressions.

 

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This is part of our Practicing Hospitality series. Visit the introduction page to read the other articles in the series.

Move to the Middle

The coveted seats at most performances are front and center. Many fans willingly spend their money for prime seating. Shows are attended with anticipation of being as close to the action as possible. The further away the seats, the less enjoyable the experience tends to be. Very rarely do people brag that their seats were in the farthest corner of the highest tier of a stadium or arena. ‘Nose-bleed’ section is the term commonly applied, suggesting that the experience from that high may be hazardous not only to the overall experience, but to our health.

Do we approach the church setting with enthusiasm? Imagine if we flocked for worship the same way we do for shows. What if we value the middle of the pews the same way we value arena seating? Treat the middle like premium seating for our worship experience. This would do a couple things.

First, it’s a sign that those who regularly attend our church are excited. They are happy to be there, eager to engage in worship. It gives an impression that Henderson Highway Church is the place to be.

Second, sitting towards the middle leaves visible space for others who need seating. It can be awkward visiting an unfamiliar location, uncertain if there’s room. Move to the middle so guests don’t have to walk over us. Trying to find a seat is part of what keeps newcomers away—it’s hard enough to come in and just sit down! Moving to the middle also leaves room for families with younger children, who may need to be in and out of the sanctuary and for those who may need to slip out of church early.

Let’s try moving towards the center. We will survive in our new location!
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This is part of our Practicing Hospitality series. Visit the introduction page to read the other articles in the series.