Author: Josh Howeth

An Invitation To Celebrate

May 12, 2017 Josh Howeth General

We live in a world that moves at break-neck speed. So, it can be a challenge to learn to stop, reflect, and a be filled with a heart of gratitude for all that God is doing and has done.

I’m so thrilled that on May 21st we get to do just that.

On Sunday, May 21st, we are going to stop and celebrate the powerful and gracious movement of God. We will be gathering and baptizing six people whose lives have been radically changed by the love of God for us in Jesus. Nights like this are so important for us as a church, because God invites us to celebrate and listen to the stories of how Jesus has rescued people and is continuing to rescue people in this world.

Following our time of witnessing these testimonies of God’s grace, we will be sharing a meal together and celebrating new life. And so I pray you will make it a priority to join us that Sunday and be infused with encouragement as we get to see in a very practical way that God is not silent and inactive, but is very much on the move in this world.

DIVINE EULOGY | A reflection for Holy Week

April 13, 2017 Josh Howeth Branch Notes

HIS BEGINNING

Yes, He was born as an infant in Bethlehem. But unlike you and me and every person that has ever drawn a breath in their lungs, He had no beginning. He may have had a father named Joseph, but before a star was ever hung in the night sky, He existed in sweet relationship with God the Father.

What a mystery. The first words Jesus ever uttered as a toddler, weren’t in fact His first words at all. Before anything was made, He spoke and planets spun into place. He spoke and the sun rose and set. He spoke and trees grew and swayed in the breeze with perfect harmony and precise poetry.

He wasn’t merely born into this world as a boy, but was given to the world as a gift…as a substitute….as the ultimate Hero. He was given by His Father. Unlike us who are constantly ebbing and flowing, seeking to discover purpose, He was born with no identity crisis. He lived to show us what God is like. To live a life that none could live and to a die a death not brought by his own hands.

He was born that men and women would no longer die. And His life never deviated from that pre-ordained path.

HIS LIFE

Some others long ago have written about this divine Jesus saying:

“He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. This Word, this Son of God, became human and made His home with us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness”

“He was the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all His creation. He made the things we see, and the things we can’t see. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.”

We should never forget, especially during a week like Holy Week, that He was perfect. Always obeying His heavenly Father. He never had a hateful thought, a heart filled with lust for a moment, never tried to “get ahead” and was unceasingly serving and humble. Can you believe that? The Lord, the God, not bound by time, the Creator, considering others more important than Himself always, serving instead of seeking to be served. Always responding as a child, as a teenager, as a man, with grace and unconditional love. Although some mocked Him, He returned grace. Although they tried to kill Him, He loved them in return. He never wished the worst on His enemies, but always loved. He was always gentle at the right time. Also, strong and hard at the perfect time.

When He looked at people as He walked through His day, He always saw them as they truly were. He saw their heart, their motivations, their deepest desires, always viewing them through that lens, because His eyes were the eyes of God.

When His father asked Him to do something, He responded in joyful obedience. And the greatest test of obedience came during the final hours of this Messiah’s life. Now came the time, not for Him to have His life taken from Him, but for Him to GIVE His life. To consider others again more important than Himself. To love without strings attached. To be generous and hold nothing back. To give the world what they didn’t deserve and to give what He wasn’t obligated to give.

He was other worldly. Like no other. And rightfully so, because He was God.

HIS GARDEN

As the hand of time etched closer to the end, the Son knelt down in a garden of despair.  His face glowed as he glimpsed His Holy Hill, knowing the imminent conclusion that none could thwart.  Bursting capillaries exploded as his future unfolded, the horror of the end none has ever known. The cup of wrath He soon would drink, a nightmare that made his stomach churn.  But gladly He walked, obedient to the end, spiritually empowered for the gladness and glory of His Father.

HIS DEATH

Many people watched as the Son of God died. They saw the excruciating, physical pain and suffering He endured. If only they knew what was really happening. That the physical pain was nothing in comparison to what He was enduring beneath the surface.

Do you think the nails being driven through His hands were painful? Try having your hands and feet pierced while you carry the weight of the sins of the world on your shoulders.

He was experiencing death, not in simply a physical sense, but an eternal sense. He died the death we all had coming. And in the blink of the world’s eye, He felt brokenness. He felt separation, from the One who has been with Him since before the world was imagined. Before the first laugh. Before the first cry. What has always been normal to us, separation and brokenness with our Creator, was for the first time an experience for Jesus.

In the midst of all this internal sorrow, can you believe what He said? In the midst of Him experiencing the most sorrow and pain and anguish that any person has ever experienced in a moment’s time, He looks out and says to His Father – not “help me” – not “I change my mind” – and not “I don’t deserve this” – but, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing. This is what Your God said. Son of God. Fully divine. Fully man. Jesus, the Messiah endures this for you, me and peoples from every nation, tribe and tongue.

“Come and see, look on this mystery, the Lord of the universe, nailed to a tree.” – F. Ortega

 

Other News:

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


Join us on Good Friday (April 14th) when we will be gathering together for a night of worship and reflection centered around the crucifixion of our Savior Jesus at our sister church, Hub City’s facility on 2nd and Lyons street in downtown Albany. Childcare will be provided and the service will start at 6pm.


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.


Get excited for the Branch’s 4th annual short-term missions fundraiser, Stumpies! You won’t want to miss out on this evening of fun, laughter, missions and dessert on Friday, May 12 at Grant Avenue Baptist Church (1625 NW Grant Ave.) Doors will open at 6:30pm and the event will begin at 7:00pm. We will be providing childcare for the evening and invite all of our families to bring their children!


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.


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 Stephen Brucker.

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.