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.

 

Freshmen

February 10, 2017 Julia Campbell Branch Notes, General

It was the first week of staff orientation when we were told our ministries for the year. I was nervous, hoping it was something I would be passionate about. I was handed a plain piece of paper with the words FRESHMEN printed in big bold letters.

I clearly remember being filled with excitement! My thoughts raced to brainstorm what it would look like to minister to this specific group of people. I had excitement and expectancy of what freshman ministry, specifically in the dorms, could look like. Things changed when it became time to actively pursue that dream.

Fear paralyzed my actions. Fear of looking like an idiot. Fear of not being liked. And fear of failing. Months went by without any progress. There was even a point where I hoped I would somehow get out of doing it. One day I was journaling, processing my thoughts, and being completely honest with the Lord about how I felt. I realized that all my fear was rooted in myself – me, me, me. I was walking in fear, not the hope I have in Jesus Christ who is sovereign over all. “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I started praying about freshman ministry more, asking the Lord show me how He wanted to use me and share His desires for what this ministry should look like.

It wasn’t long till I began dreaming of starting a Bible Study in the dorms. I yearned for a place where non-believing freshman could come and experience the gospel, where girls could find community in a dark and often lonely environment, and learn what it means to be a woman after God’s own heart.

The Lord is so faithful! He not only gave me those desires, but provided the people and the place to make it all happen. He did, not me. By the first week of Winter Term, the Lord provided the perfect meeting place close to campus and three believing freshman girls (all who live in different dorms and have different circle of friends) to join in! This week is our fourth time meeting. In total there are six girls who come regularly! I’m blown away by the Lord’s faithfulness in bringing all of this together despite my fears. The Lord had a plan the whole time. And I’m having so much fun being used by Him in this way!

 

Other News:

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. If you are interested in attending please email Josh Howeth.


Do you want your prayer life to grow and flourish? Do you want to have a better understanding of prayer and or even how to pray? Join us Thursday mornings from 9:30-10:30 am at 224 NW 26th St, Corvallis (Sigma Phi Epsilon) as we pursue growing in our relationship with God through our prayer lives’. Together we’ll discuss the topics of adoration, petition, intercession, perseverance, listening and warfare. Each week will consist of training, discussion, and implementation. Contact Davey Walker for more information.


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.


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. The purpose of Local Mission Grants is to seek and mobilize people at the Branch toward a unified local mission project and goal. If you’re interested in leading a new local missions initiative, fill out the application and send it to Stephen Brucker.


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 Brucker.

Reflections on the Week of Prayer and Fasting

February 3, 2017 Stephen Brucker General

Last week we celebrated our annual week of prayer and fasting at the Branch.

I’ve never been one to rave about food and I’m about as far away from a foodie as a person could get. Maybe it’s because my Mom used to wake me up at 4 in the morning to drink weight-gainer shakes, which I should have sued for false advertisement, tasting more like chalk than the vanilla goodness it promised on the plastic container.

But then you cut out food during a fast and you realize how easily your heart and desires can be manipulated.

Last week I realized that I had bacon in the refrigerator.  My mind raced backward so that I could remember just what bacon tasted like, felt like, sounded like against my teeth. With each gurgle of my weakly disciplined stomach my heart worshipped the big pig in the sky. I would have sold a finger (probably my right ring finger, it’s the most expendable) for one greasy piece of non-kosher bacon.

My mind raced toward the end of my fast, ‘only 3 more days left’ I said with repetitious fervor. I day dreamed of the finish line, longed for the end, and gladdened my weak flesh as I meditated on a day.

In the midst of my bacon-induced coma, slobbering more than a St. Bernard, God broke into the void and awakened my mind and eyes to what I was doing and so often do. That is, I put my trust and faith and hope in functional saviors.

When I was in high school I dreamed of college, in college I dreamed of dating that girl (you know the one, the girl who’s hopelessly out of your league but you pray it’s God’s will anyway), when I got the girl it was the perfect job, then the perfect spouse, the perfect career, the perfect house, ad nauseam.

Whenever I was in a bind, hopelessly unsatisfied and discontent, I looked to the future for security and joy, knowing that if only I secured the right job, the world would be a better place, I would be invincibly happy.

But God broke into my fasting story and reminded me that functional saviors are foolish idols at best, which fail to live up to their promises. They talk a big game, but once secured, they leave me wanting more, searching all the more for the next thing which would promise to fill my void.

Yet there is one Savior and this Savior says ‘trust in me, turn your eyes toward me, gazed into my victorious life and there you will find a Savior who rescues, redeems, and provides hope and joy in this rollercoaster journey called life’.

Though I might have worshiped bacon, God turned my affections once more toward him, reminding me of my privileged union with Christ and the joy that flows from a hunger greater than food—a hunger for God himself.

 

Other News:

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. If you are interested in attending please email Josh Howeth.


Do you want your prayer life to grow and flourish? Do you want to have a better understanding of prayer and or even how to pray? Join us Thursday mornings from 9:30-10:30 am at 224 NW 26th St, Corvallis (Sigma Phi Epsilon) as we pursue growing in our relationship with God through our prayer lives’. Together we’ll discuss the topics of adoration, petition, intercession, perseverance, listening and warfare. Each week will consist of training, discussion, and implementation. Contact Davey Walker for more information.


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.


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. The purpose of Local Mission Grants is to seek and mobilize people at the Branch toward a unified local mission project and goal. If you’re interested in leading a new local missions initiative, fill out the application and send it to Stephen Brucker.


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 Brucker.