Author: Josh Howeth

Is Our Gathering Time A Barrier?

March 17, 2017 Josh Howeth 7 Sayings on the Cross, Branch Notes

Since we started preview services nearly five years ago, our worship gathering time has always taken place on a Sunday evening. One reason we have met on Sunday evenings is that we have always desired to be a church focused on reaching students at Oregon State. We felt like gathering in the evening would offer a more convenient time for students to come and worship. A second reason was far more pragmatic, in that we have had a difficult time finding a facility where we could worship together during a Sunday morning.

Since the beginning of The Branch, nearly 4 ½ years ago, we have seen God work in tremendous ways. We were a group of young families who were dreaming of making an impact on the campus. Little did we realize that reaching students would be more natural, while reaching other generations would be more challenging.

One of the distinctive elements of our vision from the beginning has stated that we desire to be a church that reflects our city. If you’ve ever attended Branch Brunch and committed to become a member of The Branch, you’ve heard us talk about this at length. We desire to be a church that reflects the demographics of our city because we believe if that were to happen, there would be a greater display of the glorious gospel for all to see.

Most communities or organizations gather around preference—a preference of an idea, institution, style, or culture. We firmly believe that Jesus gathers people together who are diverse in preference and calls those people to experience unity and show love for one another in an other-worldly kind of way.

Since Corvallis contains roughly 50% college students, we have sought to reflect the demographic of the city by living as a church focused on reaching college students. Yet there is much diversity within the city of Corvallis—elderly, families, singles, single parents, Chinese, Hispanic, poor, rich, educated, uneducated, the elite, the marginalized and more. And we believe this is not only what Jesus wants to do, but we believe this is just what Jesus does. He takes people who are unlike one another and makes us family. But this only happens if our faith community centers around a Person and not a preference.

This is our dream. To see Jesus call us to himself and daily send us out to share and show the gospel to people who are both like us and unlike us.

Last fall, our elder team began to ask honest questions about what we have become at this point in our church’s story. 70-80% of our church is college students. We celebrate this! But we then asked why we are not seeing greater growth, from our perspective, amongst other people groups in our city.

One question we discussed and prayed about for months was if our Sunday gathering time was a barrier to connecting with other generations. We have sought out an extensive amount of wisdom and coaching regarding this question and have confidently landed on an answer. Yes, we believe that our meeting time is a generational barrier.

With that said, as elders, we have decided to move into the future seeking out opportunities for us to be able to gather on Sunday morning instead of Sunday evening. The earliest this change would happen is this fall when our lease with Christ Church (formally the River Center) ends. Currently we have no firm leads on a potential Sunday morning meeting location, which is why we’re asking that you’d join us in praying for God’s provision.

Change in church planting is unavoidable. We’ve anticipate that to be true and have experienced that as being true. Please know that it is definitely not our desire to create change for the sake of change. We love the leadership and hospitality of Christ Church and wish that we could avoid making a facility change in the future. Unfortunately, worshipping in their building in the morning is not an option.

We recognize that changing worship locations again is not ideal. But with all that’s been said, we recognize that it is necessary and it is our hope that wherever we are led we would be able to worship in that location long term.

The Branch, like many churches, especially church plants, has seen its fair share of changes. But a time change like this will be a culture shift for us. In the most loving way possible, I want us to realize that this shift is not a decision that’s being made because it’s necessarily my preference or your preference (I personally love our gathering time). But this is a culture shift that we think we need to make, not for our sake, but for the sake of those who are yet a part of our community of faith.

This shift is a shift attached to our mission. We desire to see Jesus build his church and we definitely do not believe this is the silver bullet. But we do believe this will remove a barrier.

Please don’t hesitate to email me or call me with any questions or concerns you might have. I want you to know that I’m so thankful for you. It is a joy and privilege to be your pastor. My prayer is that you abide in Jesus and experience the fruit of that union which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

-Josh Howeth  |  josh@thebranchcorvallis.org

 

Other News:

Join us for corporate prayer every Sunday afternoon from 3:003:30pm in the Twig’s area at Christ Church as we intercede for our church and the city. Come for the whole time, or just drop in for a moment.


Ladies on Saturday, April 22, we are going to take an in depth look at what it looks like to stand firm in the Lord by taking up the whole armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20. We will meet from 9:30am-12pm at the Branch offices (760 SW Madison Ave) for an incredible time worshiping together in word and spirit! Contact Victoria Renard for more information.


On Saturday May 6th, the men at the Branch are invited to a day of rafting down the Clackamas river, followed by dinner. The cost for the event is $70, which includes rafting and all meals. This is a good event to bring your friends (christian/non-Christians) and enjoy some adventure and fun. Sign up online and if you have any questions email Stephen.


Our Community Forum is for members of The Branch to come together, share a meal, hear about what’s going on in the life of our church and to dream and pray together about the future. Our next forum is on Sunday night, April 30th immediately following the Sunday worship gathering. Please mark your calendars for this very important night together. Every forum is important, but this forum will be extremely important as we will be sharing about various changes and sending opportunities we are going to be encountering this year. Please contact Josh with any questions you might have. (541-224-1476)


The Global Mission Pipeline is simple—it’s a training program to help equip and cement a foreign mission DNA within an individual. Within the program, you’ll read books, walk with a coach, write papers, and be exposed experientially to ministering cross-culturally. If you’d like more information please contact Stephen.


This year we are asking members of the Branch to apply for Local Mission Grants, which seek to come alongside member’s ministry ideas/endeavors with financial support. If you have questions or would like to talk to someone about Local Mission Grants simply fill out a connect card and drop it in the basket. If you’re interested in leading a new local missions initiative you can find the application online, fill it out and send it to Stephen Brucker.


Branch Brunch is a time to get to know more about our church and ask questions. This class is also a requirement to become a member. Our next Branch Brunch is scheduled for Sunday, April 30th at 10:30 am. If you are interested in attending please email Josh Howeth.

What is a Healthy Church

February 23, 2017 Josh Howeth Branch Notes, General

If someone were to ask you, just like I am right now, what a healthy church looks like, how would you answer? What would you say?

I’m sure we would come up with many good things to say. A friendly church. A welcoming church. A growing church. A lively church that cares for one another and does good in the world. The list could go on.

I think if we were to be more honest with ourselves, we would come up with a list of things that wouldn’t necessarily be bad things, but definitely more preferential things. Answers that we know aren’t the right answers on a test, but answers that we more truthfully measure things by. We might answer with what sort of programs a church offers, how much we enjoy the music, is the preaching interesting and engaging, and does the church feel relevant or is it up to speed with culture?

Those aren’t necessarily bad things, but I fear if we assess what a healthy church is by those metrics, we can error into disaster. Worse yet, our churches could have the appearance of health, but it could simply be a facade. We could be like a man dying but trying to keep up the appearance of health, and we all know how futile that is in the end.

As a church, we have some pretty deep convictions about what a healthy church is, and how a healthy church functions. We are Word-shaped people, so we are committed to the preaching, teaching and submitting to God’s Word. We are Gospel people who continually desire to remember all that God has done for us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and to live differently in this world empowered by this message. We are a praying people because we realize that our lives are not dependent upon our own will and strength, but rest in the hands of our gracious and sovereign God. We believe the church is a committed family of regenerate Christ-followers and we deeply care about the witness that we offer to our city and the world about how glorious, holy, loving and gracious our savior Jesus is.

There are many other things I could say at this point, but my goal is not to provide an exhaustive list for us to memorize today. My hope is that we could prayerfully ask this question. And that we wouldn’t stop with the question, “What do I think a healthy church is?” But get to the place where we are asking, “What does Jesus, who is the Head of the Church, think a healthy church is?”

Our answer to this important question should not only shape how we function as a church, but how we function individually in our daily lives.

I strongly encourage you to continue to think through this question, and one great way to do that will be by considering to attend an upcoming conference that’s sole purpose is to not only ask this question but to give answers to it.

The conference will be held at Hinson Church in Portland and is only $65 dollars to attend. It is an all day event on Saturday, March 31st and runs until the following lunch time on Saturday, April 1st. There are some great speakers and some great panel discussions. Please consider attending, and if anything you’ll gain a greater understanding as to some of the convictions that our church has on what contributes to health in a church.

Follow this link for more info: https://9marks.org/event/2017/03/9marks-conference-northwest/

 

Other News:

There will be a meeting for all Twigs volunteers on Sunday, February 26th at 3:30 pm at The River Center. Families only need to send one representative to the meeting. Contact Christina Law for more information.


Branch Brunch is a time to get to know more about our church and ask questions. This class is also a requirement to become a member. Our next Branch Brunch is scheduled for Sunday, February 26th at 10:30 am. Email Josh Howeth if you plan on attending.


We have the opportunity to host a group from Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City! During their time here you can engage by joining us in prayer walking around Oregon State University and Downtown Corvallis on Friday, March 9 at 9:30am. We will also be hosting a worship night on Friday, March 10, at 7:00pm (5643 Oak Creek Drive, Corvallis) focused on desiring and enjoying God! We will get to to hear testimonies of moving from a place of duty to delight in The Lord.  If you have any questions please contact Victoria Renard.


Monday and Tuesday, March 6th and 7th, we will be engaging our city and Oregon State students in various ways as a church. We are doing various things from giving away free coffee in the Quad, engaging people through spiritual surveys, playing soccer and sharing a meal with international students, doing church planting demographic research about 3rd spaces in our city and serving single parents in our community. If you are interested in joining in any of these opportunities, or if you’d like to know more info, please contact Josh (541-224-1476). We have a mission team that week serving with us from our sister church in Tennessee. Come and serve alongside of us as we engage Corvallis together!


The Branch Men’s Retreat is coming up April 21-23. Put it on your calendar now so you don’t miss out on all of the dangerous and manly things Stephen has planned.


Our Community Forum is for members of The Branch to come together, share a meal, hear about what’s going on in the life of our church and to dream and pray together about the future. Our next forum is on Sunday night, April 30th immediately following the Sunday worship gathering. Please mark your calendars for this very important night together. Every forum is important, but this forum will be extremely important as we will be sharing about various changes and sending opportunities we are going to be encountering this year. Please contact Josh with any questions you might have. (541-224-1476)


The Global Mission Pipeline is simple—it’s a training program to help equip and cement a foreign mission DNA within an individual. Within the program, you’ll read books, walk with a coach, write papers, and be exposed experientially to ministering cross-culturally. If you’d like more information please contact Stephen.


This year we are asking members of the Branch to apply for Local Mission Grants, which seek to come alongside member’s ministry ideas/endeavors with financial support. If you have questions or would like to talk to someone about Local Mission Grants simply fill out a connect card and drop it in the basket. If you’re interested in leading a new local missions initiative you can find the application online, fill it out and send it to Stephen Brucker.

 

Three Types of Shoppers

December 15, 2016 Josh Howeth General

I’ll admit it. I’ve gone shopping far too many times for no other reason than because it sounded like something fun to do. I haven’t always been this way, and maybe it has something to do with having more and more kids running around,  but sometimes I just need to get out of the house and wandering around a store ironically seems like the most affordable way to spend my hour of freedom.

Most of the time I have a personal agenda when I shop. I know specifically what I’m getting before I leave the house. I know the stores that I’m going to and have already planned out the best order to attack them in. And, while I’m parking I’m envisioning which door to enter through and where exactly in the store these items are so that I can break the world record of fastest and most efficient shopper. (That would be a great record to hold as a man).

There is a third type of shopper too. I experienced this type of shopping once I started driving in high school. My mother would send me down the hill to our local Albertsons to get 10 lbs of extra lean ground beef. I went so often that I’m writing that information from memory. Now there are times where Liz sends me to the store for milk. It’s for some reason usually milk. In these moments I’m not a wanderer and I don’t have a personal agenda, but instead I’m a sent shopper.

If I mix in wandering with being sent, I might frustrate the one who sent me because those items are needed. And if I mix in my personal agenda I might fail to pick up the item I was sent to purchase. (This has only happened a few large handful of times).

Jesus prayed, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18) He prayed this to his Father at the end of his life, before he died a criminal’s death to redeem us.

It’s an important thought to engage with in this season of Advent. That the Father sent Jesus into the world. In other words, if the world were a store, the Father sent Jesus not to wander, not to have his own agenda, but to accomplish the things he sent him to accomplish. Christmas isn’t just meant to give us a warm feeling in our hearts that God is with us, although that is massively comforting. It’s comforting and warming because Jesus picked up all that he was supposed to pick up.

But Christmas is also meant to remind us that not only was Jesus sent, but we are now too. God’s agenda to redeem and restore the world hasn’t changed. So, just as the Father sent Jesus into the world, so now Jesus has sent us.

We aren’t wanderers. We don’t have a personal agenda. We are sent. Because Jesus was sent, and has now sent us.

Do you believe that?

 

Other News:

This summer we’ll be sending two mission teams, one to East Asia and another to Haiti. You can find the application online or grab an application at the connect table. The cost is approximately $3,000 and the deadline to apply is December 19th. The Branch will provide fundraising training and theological training in the months leading up to departure. Contact Stephen@thebranchcorvallis.org if you have further questions.


Advent is the season before Christmas culminating in the celebration of Christ’s birth. Yet, sometimes the meaning and power of Christmas gets lost in the shuffle. Therefore, this Advent we at the Branch are going to seek to spend less on Christmas, so that we can give more away. All donations given to the Branch for Advent Conspiracy are going toward a non-profit serving our Foster Care system in Linn-Benton.


It’s time for our annual Twigs Christmas Party! This Sunday, December 18th, during the church service, come ready to eat yummy food, create an ornament, and celebrate Jesus’ Birthday.  All volunteers please arrive by 4:30pm to decorate and set up.


Join us for a 5PM joint Christmas Eve gathering with Hub City and Doxology. We will be celebrating the birth of our Savior at Hub City’s building at 121 SE Lyon St. in downtown Albany. Childcare will be provided.


We will not be having our regular Sunday service on December, 25th. Take this time to enjoy your family and friends on Christmas Day. We will see everyone again on January 1st.


Ladies! Save the date for the Branch’s Women’s Retreat on February 3-5, 2017. The cost is $80 and you can pay online, with cash or check. Stay tuned for more information!

Jesus, The Given One

December 2, 2016 Josh Howeth Branch Notes

“Unto us a Son is given.”

Those words in Isaiah 9 seem to get me every year. It’s such a powerful thought that Jesus wasn’t just born into the world, he was given to the world. Meaning that God opened his hands, so-to-speak, and gave to the world the most precious of all things that He possesses…Himself.

Advent is a time of year where we celebrate that God kept His promise and sent a Rescuer into His world to redeem people for Himself. It’s also a time where we anticipate His coming again, fully and finally to make all things new.

You see, we had devastating needs, namely our need of forgiveness and reconciliation to our Creator. We had no hope to meet those needs with our own or the world’s resources. But God, the only One with the resources, generously gave Jesus to meet our needs.

It’s this gospel story that shapes us into generous people who seek now to meet other’s needs with the fervent praying and hoping that God would meet their deepest need of salvation.

This is why we as a church family are seeking to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all this season of Christmas. We, as well as many other churches across this world call this Advent Conspiracy. I’d love it if you learned more about what we are trying to do as a church this Christmas by visiting our Advent Conspiracy page: http://thebranchcorvallis.org/adventconspiracy

Please slow down this month and spend time reflecting on what God has done for you by giving you Jesus. He gave Jesus to you!

It’s my prayer that as we consider that, we will be shaped by it and therefore consider giving generously this month through Advent Conspiracy so that we can meet real, hurting people’s needs. And all the while we will pray and hope that through our giving and presence He will meet their deepest need. That they will know that Jesus was given to the world for them too.

 

Other Branch News:

Hey ladies! Join us today at 2 pm in The Branch Office (760 SW Madison Ave, Suite 11) for an afternoon of fun, tea & treats. This will be a great opportunity to relax, meet other women in all stages of life at The Branch and lift each other up in prayer. Contact Victoria Renard if you plan to attend, or if you have any questions.


Advent is the season before Christmas culminating in the celebration of Christ’s birth. Yet, sometimes the meaning and power of Christmas gets lost in the shuffle. Therefore, this Advent we at the Branch are going to seek to spend less on Christmas, so that we can give more away. All donations given to the Branch for Advent Conspiracy are going toward a non-profit serving our Foster Care system in Linn-Benton.


Sunday, December 11th. Come ready to hear our adorable kids sing Christmas songs to celebrate Jesus’ birth.


Ladies! Save the date for the Branch’s Women’s Retreat on February 3-5, 2017. Stay tuned for more information!

Preparing for the Members Forum

November 3, 2016 Josh Howeth Branch Notes, General

Our bi-annual Member’s Forum is coming up on Sunday, November 20th. The Forum will start at 6:30PM and dinner and childcare will be provided. If you are a member, these times together are so important for us as a church community. I really hope you will make it a priority to stay after and participate that Sunday evening.

I’d like to share some of the things that we will be talking about that night so that you can be prepared:

  1. We will be receiving elder recommendations from you. It’s our desire that we will have another elder as a part of our elder team by next fall. We want to hear from you regarding which men you’ve experienced a godly example from, someone who comes to your mind when you read 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9, and someone who you’d submit to as a leader in our church family.
  2. We will be sharing four different cities that we are praying about planting a future church in. Our church planting cohort has done some great work and has presented to our elder team four different cities that we want to begin to pray more seriously about planting in. It’s always been our communicated vision as a church that we would be a sending church who plants other churches, rather than seeking to simply grow as an individual church.
  3. We will be talking about Advent Conspiracy for this coming season of Advent. We have a non-profit we are beginning to work with that serves the Foster Care system. She will be coming to share about their ministry in our worship gathering in late November. We are excited about the work they do and want to heavily support them and be involved.
  4. We will be sharing our three goals for the year as a church. Every year our elders assess, pray and dream about the upcoming year. We have three specific ways that we are seeking to lead the church into greater health. It’s important that we each embrace them, in order that they become a reality.
  5. We will be rolling out and sharing our new Local Engagement Strategy as well as a Global missions pipeline. These two things will radically be changing the way we engage our city as well as equip, train, and send people to foreign fields of work.
  6. We will as always be sharing where we are at financially as a church. We want to give you the opportunity to look at and speak into the budget.
  7. We will also be announcing new church members.

Josh Howeth

 

Other Branch News:

The International Thanksgiving Dinner will be here soon. Every year we invite international students to experience a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. We need individuals and families to prepare food dishes in the days leading up to this event. Contact Trevor or Sarah for more information.


Hey ladies! Join us December 3rd, from 2-4 pm for an afternoon of fun, tea & treats. This will be a great opportunity to relax, meet other women in all stages of life at The Branch and lift each other up in prayer. Contact Victoria Renard if you plan to attend, or if you have any questions.

 

One Of The Reasons Our Church Values Membership

October 7, 2016 Josh Howeth Branch Notes, General

Our faith community values membership. Not because we are trying to create a special club but because we think what the New Testament describes and commands God’s people, the church, to be and do can only be accomplished in our culture with some form of declared commitment. How can we encourage each other, love one another, carry each other’s burdens, pray for one another, do life together in a way that reflects the image of Jesus if church is merely a Sunday event that we attend?

Membership is a very meaningful thing to us because it is a declaration to others that we are committing our lives to them. We are saying in becoming a member that we care about other people’s growth in Christ-likeness and not just our own. We are saying that I choose to do life with you for the glory of Jesus. We are saying that I want to try and let myself be known by others, and I want to know others as well.

You see, membership is meaningful because it’s about people. We are committing our lives to each other, not to a 501C3 or an organization or a brand. It’s about following the desire of Jesus to not just save individuals for their own personal fulfillment, but to save individuals and gather them into a new community – a family.

We live in a day where commitment is not a value but a wavering individual choice that changes under the slightest transitions. When we experience other’s commitment to us, and they experience our’s to them, it is a beautiful picture to the world of how worthy and unifying Jesus is. The world will know Whose we are, by our love for one another. It’s just hard to love one another though, if we don’t do life with one another.

So it has been my prayer from the beginning that no matter who you are, I want to encourage you to become a member of a church somewhere. I hope it is a church that seeks to faithfully preach and embody the gospel and there are many incredible churches in our beautiful city that do that. So join in somewhere. But don’t see your commitment as a commitment to a worship service, or a brand, but to people.

If you’d like to take a step of exploring becoming a member of The Branch please RSVP to attend our quarterly Branch Brunch. This is a time where we share a meal, discuss our church’s story and the reason we exist, and what we are laboring to see God accomplish through our faith community. This brunch coming up at the end of this month, October 30th. (And did I mention that it’s only once a quarter?) It starts at 10:30am at my house. Don’t worry I’m not cooking, but someone who is amazing at cooking is (she’s pretty pretty and we share the same last name.)

 

Other News:

We will be celebrating The Branch’s 4th birthday with a 3rd Meal on this Sunday, October 9th! Our theme is 4 Years 4 Ingredients. Bring something yummy that is made with only four ingredients to share while we celebrate being a church family. Contact Jesse Parker for more information.

Community groups gather together weekly to get to know one another, pray, study the bible and live life together. It’s never too late to join a group so if you didn’t attend one earlier this week you can still do that! You can find a list of weekly meeting locations and times on our website or on the Community Group Map at the back of the church.


In addition to our Sunday offering baskets, The Branch offers safe and secure online giving. Use this tool to give to international missions, support one of our interns, give your one-time tithe or even set-up a recurring tithe. Use our website or download our App on iTunes or Google Play.


Did you miss it? All of our sermon series are available on our website and iTunes. Head on over to listen again or to catch up on what you missed.