Author: Josh Howeth
A sermon by Josh Howeth on Acts 3-4:4
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.)
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.
A teaching by Josh Howeth on Acts 1:1-11.
This Sunday will mark our second gathering in our new location. It will also mark the beginning of the major teaching emphasis of this new year. We will be walking through the book of Acts, and honestly, I couldn’t be more excited.
With our 4th birthday as a church fast approaching, it has been joyous and fun to reflect on all that God has done over the last four years. But, it has also been a joy to look ahead and pray and dream about God continuing to move in our city.
There are a few things we are going to be praying and leading into this year as a church. We will be focusing our attention on leadership development for the purpose of church planting. We will also be focusing on cultivating a culture of evangelism in our church. Thirdly, we want to see significant growth in both our hearts and our actions towards compassion ministry to our city. The creation of Refuge is the first step towards that.
I say all of this, because I sense that the book of Acts will very much cultivate these things in the life of our church as we move through it.
More than anything though, I can’t wait to see how God cultivates a more significant love for Jesus in our hearts this year. Acts is showing us how Jesus is continuing to work, teach, and move in this world through his church.
It’s my hope that you’ll engage with God’s Word this year in community with us, and prayerfully ask Him to seriously transform your life through it. And may he do that for the sake of our faith community and for the benefit, salvation and transformation of our city and every nation.
I love you guys. You make pastoring a joy. Seriously.
See you Sunday at 5 in our new location.
NEW LOCATION! We are now meeting at The River Center just off of Western and 35th on the Southwest side of OSU’s campus (4000 SW Western Blvd.)
Join us for a Welcome Back BBQ at our new location (4000 SW Western Blvd.) on Sunday, September 25th at 3:30 pm. It’s been a great summer and we’re excited to have everyone together again.
Refuge Groups start again on Monday, September 26th. If you are interested in learning more about Refuge groups please email Stephen.
Community Groups start next week. Pick a group from the list on our website and send the leader an email to let them know you’re coming. Super Easy. If you have any questions about a particular group feel free to email the leader. If you have questions about Community Groups in general contact Stephen Brucker.
The next 3rd meal will be Sunday, October 9th and to celebrate The Branch’s fourth birthday the theme is 4 Years, 4 Ingredients. Your challenge is to bring a dish that contains only four ingredients to share with everyone.
We need 15-20 people to join our Setup and Welcome teams. If you are interested in helping us out contact Jesse and Kimber Parker.
Yes, it’s true. We are moving!
Beginning Sunday, September 18th, we will start holding our worship gatherings at 5pm at The River Center. The River Center is just off of Western and 35th on the Southwest side of OSU’s campus.
As elders and staff, we are thrilled about the future of The Branch and the partnership we will be having with The River Center. We’ve felt an immediate camaraderie and unity with John Orton, who’s the pastor at The River Center. We love what they are doing here in our city, and we believe in their mission and values as a church. My family has been able to spend some time with John’s family, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our friendship and couldn’t be happier about partnering with these people.
We’ve been pursuing every option for our Sunday worship gathering space available to us since January. If you’ve been at our Community Forums and faithfully read Branch Notes, you’ve probably been praying with us regarding this. I want to say thank you for faithfully praying. We believe this location and facility will allow us to continue to grow as a community and facilitate effectively the mission God has given us here.
We are so grateful to Grant Avenue for their incredible generosity to us over the years. They’ve modeled humility, servitude and generosity to us so faithfully. It’s my hope and prayer for us as a church, that our faith and embodying of the gospel in these ways would grow as we move forward. We’ve experienced God’s grace and provision so beautifully through Grant Avenue, and they will always be a significant part of our story and birth as a church.
We are extremely grateful to the River Center for being willing to allow us to use their space on Sundays. It is no minor sacrifice on their part. So, it is our aim as a church to not be users of this new space, but stewards of it. It’s our hope that we would be a blessing to the River Center as they seek to faithfully live out the distinct mission God has formed in their church for the good of our beautiful city.
If you think of church like a house; the core values and mission of the church are the bones, address and structure of the house. We aren’t tearing down and moving in that sense. Moving facilities is kind of like rearranging the furniture. We recognize that the facility isn’t the main thing. It’s simply a facility. And a facility is simply meant to facilitate the mission. So we embrace this new season God is leading us into. This is definitely a season of transition for us as a church that will hopefully bring greater health, growth and vitality.
We are reminded that this isn’t about us, our preferences, or building a “Branch kingdom.” This is about God. This is about Jesus’ kingdom coming to earth. This is about Jesus receiving the honor that he is worthy of from every one of us, and every breathing human in the world. We exist as his body here on earth, and no facility can confine that. It is intended to facilitate that.
There will be more details to come in the weeks ahead. Would you please rejoice in God’s provision for us, and commit to praying for this time of transition in the life of our church. May we not lose sight of Jesus. Let us abide in him, our Vine, and do life together for his glory and the good of the world.
Spread the word.
Other Branch News:
There is no regular Sunday Gathering on Sunday, August 21st. Instead we will be worshiping together at South Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon at 10:00 am. contact Stephen Brucker for more information.
It’s not too late to join our Church-Wide Retreat this weekend! We will be camping at South Beach State Park in Newport, Oregon tonight, August 19th – Sunday, August 21st. The cost is $15 to camp and $7 to park. Bring your tent, chair, flashlight, sleeping bag, bible and food. The Branch is providing food for Saturday night ONLY so make sure you pack enough grub to get you through the weekend. Contact Stephen@thebranchcorvallis.org for more information.
Exciting changes are coming to the Twigs program! Please attend a mandatory meeting to learn about the changes on August 28th from 12:30 – 2 pm at the Branch office (760 SW Madison Ave, Suite 11.) A light lunch will be served. Please RSVP to Andrea by August 26th.
Refuge Groups start on Monday, September 26th. contact Stephen Brucker for more information.
Community Groups will start back up the week of September 26th. Stay tuned for a list of times and meeting locations.
A teaching by Josh Howeth on Philippians 2:1-11.
If you look on The Branch’s website, you can find the following “objectives” for our church’s Internship Program.
1. To teach practical theology in the context of church ministry.
2. To model and teach the importance of discipleship in the life of the church.
3. To grow more like Christ, through intentional spiritual formation.
The foundational purpose of the internship is to “train individuals for active Christian ministry.” This foundation is applied to three main categories by these objectives: the church, the world outside the church, and personal growth. This job has been defined by these categories, and has been divided into “thirds” accordingly. As my internship comes to a close this summer, I’ve reflected on each of these thirds, and how God has used this internship to grow and shape me these last 11 months.
1. The first third of this internship consisted of ministry within the church: support raising for my salary, website and social media upkeep, communications for the local missions team, random administrative tasks to help the church function smoothly, event planning, and weekly set up and tear down for church on Sunday. By my estimate, I have poured juice into over 4,000 tiny communion cups. Within the seemingly mundane task-completion and organization, I’ve been convicted over and over of God’s sovereignty and His graciousness towards us. Christ doesn’t treat us as boxes on a checklist, but loves us as His children. Because of the work of the cross, there is purpose and meaning to every simple task of an intern. This is sometimes a difficult attitude to consistently incorporate, but God’s grace has allowed me to have fundraising conversations with Christ’s generosity in mind, to cast a vision for the gospel through giving announcements on Sunday evenings, and to emphasize the Bible’s picture of the church “family” through planning the details of events like Community Forums.
2. Secondly, I’ve grown in my ability and affinity for practicing discipleship. This has been fostered through my internship in multiple ways. Leading a weekly Community Group has helped develop my facilitative skills; I’ve learned how to ask insightful questions in one-on-one conversations with Christians and non-Christians that point towards the gospel; I’ve grown immensely in my ability to converse with people from other nations and backgrounds through my friendships with international students. Davey has also modeled intentional discipleship to McKenzie and I as he oversaw our campus ministry. Though I had to “throw a few darts” that didn’t exactly hit the target with outreach at Oregon State, trusting God with my evangelistic efforts on campus was a humbling process, and a constant reminder to check my ego and seek God’s heart for reaching the unreached.
3. The final third of this internship is the portion that will continue to influence my walk with Christ most concretely. My own spiritual formation these last 11 months has been cultivated by consistent corporate prayer, resources for Bible study, and over a dozen books we’ve read as a staff. Through weekly meetings with the women on staff and the wives of our pastors, I’ve benefitted greatly from accountability in my devotional life. Of all the titles we’ve read as a staff, the most influential have been The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller, The Cross of Christ by John Stott, God’s Heart for the Nations by Jeff Lewis, and Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence. The personal applications for all of these studies, literatures, and Bible readings are too numerous to list, but most of all I’ve come away with a deeper understanding of God’s missional heart, and a greater desire to take part His family’s work.
Beyond any doubt, I’d say that this internship exceeded my expectations in each of its three categories. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity to be poured into by mature Christians, to learn and develop as a leader within the church, and to grow as a Christ-follower. This internship will have lasting implications of the rest for my life.
Other Branch News:
Mark your calendars for July 17th! After our Sunday service, we will be having Third Meal together as a church family. This is an opportunity to share a meal, connect with old friends, and meet someone new. Please bring a main dish, side dish, dessert, or drinks! Contact Jesse or Kimber for more information.
We are partnering with Grant Avenue Baptist Church to serve children in the Corvallis community by putting on Vacation Bible School. This is a fun three hours every morning (9am to noon) for one week where your child will learn songs, play games, hear Bible stories, learn about Jesus and people serving in cross-cultural contexts, make crafts, and, did we mention, have fun? VBS will run from July 11-15 and is for kids aged 4-5th grade. Please register here!
Everyone is invited to join our church community for our first ever Church-Wide Retreat! We will be camping at Newport Beach from Friday night – Sunday afternoon. We will not be having our normal worship gathering that weekend. Instead, we will be worshiping as a community on the beach Sunday morning,August 21st. Mark your calendars for this special weekend. More details to come.
Our teams to England and Thailand will be launching shortly! On July 17th we will be commissioning them out and praying over their time. Please keep the two teams in your prayers as they head out to serve the nations!
This summer, rather than meeting in Groves, we will gather in affinity groups around common interests. Each will be centered around different interests that will connect us as a community and foster deeper relationships. Affinity groups have started and more information can be found here!
Philippians: To Live is Christ
The Cure for Pride
The text for our sermon this week is Philippians 2:1-11. In these verses, Paul lays out for his readers the example of Christ’s humility, and calls us to live in response to His ultimate sacrifice. As Christ-followers, our defining qualities must be those that reflect our Lord, who “emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant.” Considering others as more important than ourselves is possible because Jesus did “nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility” counted us as more important than Himself. Worship this week will honor Christ as our servant-King, reflecting verse 9 of this chapter: “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name.”
Link to this week’s Spotify playlist Here
Only King Forever
Come Thou Fount
Good Good Father
Jesus My Joy – Youtube link here
A teaching by Josh Howeth on Philippians 1:18-30.