What Is The Cost?

I got a text this morning. A very important piece of paper was lost and maybe it flew out the vehicle door when it opened and the person got out or in as they attended Wednesday Night Bible Study. The text asked me to keep my eyes open in case I might spot it.

After I got to The Ridge and parked, I started to look around and headed down toward the road. Well, first I attempted to discern which direction the wind was blowing. As I walked toward the road, I did see a rather large piece of paper in a ditch by the road. Upon arrival, I determined this was the aforementioned “important paper.” However, it was mired down in the mud, which fortunately kept it from “easing on down the road.” After a few moments of contemplation, there was no doubt; I would have to take at least one-step into the sludge to retrieve it. I firmly planted my foot into the muck and almost came out of my shoe, picked it up and successfully pulled my foot and shoe back to solid ground. Yes, foot, shoe, and a rather deep coating of the mire!

A very successful task completed but not without cost. The cost of time looking, the cost of time cleaning, the cost of uncertainty whether the paper would be located. I was happy to help. I was able to clean my shoe and the paper I found was indeed the one that was lost. It was worth the cost

Here’s the challenge: What’s the cost of reaching people with the gospel and are we willing to pay it?

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Small Groups – Good for Thee; Not for Me!

Scripture reminds us that we need to be in relationships for our personal and spiritual growth. In the midst of this fragmented and persecuted world, we desperately need to be connected!

Are you thinking this is great for thee, but not for me? Perhaps you are struggling with a very busy full plate in life. A plate overfilled with mounds of things that you need to do and are responsible for in your life. Perhaps, they are overflowing your dish. We all struggle with the demands of our career and all of the frustrations and stress placed on us, such as goals, deadlines, and workflow.

Then there are our family obligations, taking the kids to school, picking them up here and there, dealing with all of their demands and obligations too. Then maybe you are already volunteering for something in the church or community. Maybe you are juggling work and school and family, to the point there is not a free minute in your week.

Then you are asked, “Hey, why don’t you join our small group?” What??? I do not have the time! I cannot possibly commit to anything else. I am overloaded and overwhelmed! Well, to be honest, then you are the person who needs to be in a small group the most!

We ALL need a place to grow, and we as humans in a relationship with Jesus grow best in community with people who love and care for us!

We Labor Together With God, Wes

6 Reasons Sunday School Small Groups Rock!

1. Sunday School Small Groups (SSSG) improve your Bible knowledge. When you know and understand God’s Word, you are more likely to obey it.

2. SSSG, assist your spiritual growth. Think of Sunday School teachers and class members who have modeled the Christian life. Most importantly, spiritual growth often occurs best in the context of small group Bible study.

3. SSSG provide a “place to belong.” In a Sunday School class you are known, personally recognized and transparency is more likely to occur. You can share needs and concerns. As you participate, you become part of the group.

4. SSSG help you build meaningful relationships. You meet people, learn their names, hear their stories, and meet their families. You share fellowship times with class members. You minister alongside others.

5. SSSG provide opportunities to serve and minister. Contacts with sometimes “unchurched prospects” gives you the privilege of sharing your faith. You show the love of Jesus by ministering to class members who have needs.

6. SSSG have a place for the whole family. In one trip to church, your entire family can participate in the important purposes of Bible study, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, worship, and evangelism.

We will recognize Sunday School Small Group Workers Sunday, February 25, @ 10:15 am.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Thankful For our Small Group Leaders

Our small group leaders are the mainstay of our congregation. No one person could do all that they do. They are valuable to the growth of The Ridge Church. Not just numerically but spiritually as well. We will honor our small group leaders with a banquet on Saturday, February 24 and recognize them on Sunday, February 25.

Just think about it —

  • They consistently attend small group and worship weekly, which is an
    encouragement to all who attend.
  • They are committed to preparing a weekly plan to enable biblical learning regardless of the number present.
  • They are dedicated to the people they teach through prayers, visits, and weekly contacts. When someone is missing in worship or small group, I am confident that their small group leader will be in contact during week.
  • They support and promote the plan and vision of the church. They join with the
    pastor and the leadership team in following the direction that God is leading.
  • They spend their own money, time and other treasure as they see needs in their class.
  • They are committed to supporting the other ministries of the Ridge Church through the giving of their tithes and offerings.
  • They arrive early and prepare the learning area, keeping it fresh and welcoming each week.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Please Come to Small Group/Sunday School

At The Ridge Church, we definitely want you to join us for small group Bible study. How can we encourage you to attend? Ken Braddy lists 5 ways to encourage attendance. (Read article at www.Kenbraddy.com)

1) Give them an assignmentIf people have a job to do, they are more likely to show up. Place someone in charge of nametags, announcements, prayer time, assisting the group leader by leading a portion of the study, planning fellowships, and like that.

2) Pose a controversial questionBefore Sunday, email (text) the members and call attention to a section of personal study guide. Pose a controversial question. Stir the pot. Help your group members think critically. Promise to address the question or comment during the Bible study. They’ll have to show up to find out the answer and to hear everyone else’s responses.

3) Preview the next sessionmovie theaters have learned the value of making us sit through 25 minutes of “coming attractions.” They know that to get us to come back in the future, they need to pique our interest in the present. At the end of each Bible study, spend a minute previewing the next study, encouraging your group members to study in advance and to come prepared to engage in next week’s Bible study.

4) Teach with excellenceOne of the quickest ways to drive people away from your group is to get into a teaching rut. If your group members can predict what is going to take place each week, it’s time for you to shake things up. Learn to incorporate new teaching techniques each week. The variety will spice things up.

5) Reach out to themit’s a mathematical fact that about 50% of your group’s members will not be in attendance each week. Normally groups average an attendance of 50% of their enrollment. So every week the group leader and the care group leaders have an important job to do – they must contact every absent member and discover if there is a ministry opportunity.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Gorham Outreach and Ministry

Wednesday night we had a great discussion on our future ministry in Gorham.

It all began last summer as we sponsored a 5 day Bible club. Then, a block party was planned and we participated in the community’s “Trunk or Treat” effort. In November, we began a 6 week after School program that included a bible study, mission study, Bible verse memory, games and refreshments.

The discussion last night centered on future ministry ideas.

Ideas included – VBS in the community July 9-13, 5:30-8 pm. Begin with a light supper. Include an adult and youth bible study at the same time.

Movie night, Easter Egg Hunt, work day to do light yard work in the community, coordinate the delivery of lunch meals in the summer for the children, begin an “adopt a grandparent” ministry, provide Monday- Friday activities during spring break (March 30-April 6), continue with the Tuesday after school program in 6 week cycles.

Begin a weekly Bible Study/Worship time in the community supported by the people from the Ridge church. Perhaps meeting on a Sunday afternoon. This service would be in lieu of our Sunday night service.

As you pray, ask the Lord how we can reach the community.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

The Best New Year’s Resolution

In a recent blog post Thom Rainer makes a startling statement, “I am proposing you dump everything on your church calendar. It’s time to start fresh.” He argues that most church folk are too busy to do REAL ministry in the REAL world.

He proposes we start the New Year with a blank Church calendar and fill in the calendar with only those activities we feel will really move the church forward. Keep it simple. Keep it basic.

When many things are added and never subtracted or evaluated, the calendar becomes bloated and our ministry becomes ineffective. The result is that members have little or no time to do REAL ministry outside the walls of the church.

He concludes, “We need effective churches, not busy churches. We need simple churches, not complex churches. As you move into a new year, consider your church calendar. Be willing to consider reducing or eliminating those activities that lead to busyness but not effectiveness. It could be the best New Year’s resolution you make.”

What activities and ministries would you include? Exclude? What present activities or ministries would you be willing to give up in order to do REAL ministry that might be more effective in reaching our communities?

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

What a great year #OnTheRidge! God has continued to bless and add to His church. We have been able to affect our communities in many positive ways with the gospel. We have baptized more believers this past year than we have in any year since I have been pastor.

Our commitment to missions continues to increase through the many ways we reach out. Missions begins at HOME with a strong base. It then continues through our state and nation and THEN around the world. Thank you all for your generosity of time talent and treasure.

I heard so many great comments on this year’s Cantata. The Ridge Choir under the direction of Debbie Henson outdid themselves again this year. AND, of course the children’s program Sunday night was “off the chain.” Thank you Jamie Robison for your commitment and direction.

As we head into Christmas Day please don’t forget our Christmas Eve Service at 5:30 PM. It is a very simple and meaningful service of singing carols and Scripture reading. Just come as you are and bring everyone with you. I promise, you will not be disappointed.

God always takes the first step and awaits our response. 2018 will present as many challenges as we leave in 2017. In the midst of all life’s challenges may we respond to God with faithful worship attendance and committed financial giving.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

The Present of Presence

I was eating a quarter pounder with cheese from McDonalds. Well, I had a gift card and I was craving their new buttermilk chicken strips. However, they are SO popular that they have completely run out and are restocking the supply chain.

Anyway, I got a text from a college friend to give him a call. He told me he was going to be in the area on work and wondered whether I had time to see him. Although we have kept in touch on Facebook, we had not seen each other for about 25 years. We enjoyed a great visit.

When I arrived at Southwest Baptist College in 1977 I had 3 suitcases and knew absolutely no one. I worked in the cafeteria and Dennis was the assistant manager. We quickly became friends. He became the food service director and I, a student manager. He taught me about food ordering and production but mostly he taught me about the value of friendship and passion for what you were doing. I am as grateful for those lessons as any college class I ever took.

We reminisced of course, about trips he and Brenda took with Debbie and me, and different alumni we both knew, but most of our conversation focused on where we were today and how much more fun grandchildren are to raise, than our children.

It is true great friends can pick up where they left off, even when it has been 25 years. It’s not yet Christmas, and I am anticipating a lot of great presents. Nevertheless, this gift of presence may be the best present I’ll receive this year.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Never a Good Reason

Before we jump into the Advent and Christmas season I want to use this occasion to encourage everyone to verbalize (vocalize) thanksgiving when the opportunities arise.

It is clear the scriptures instruct us to:

“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—“ Psalm 107:2

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

In the account of the 10 Lepers (Luke 17) who are healed and only one returns to say thank you, Jesus responds, “Has no one returned to give glory to God …?

There is never a good reason not to give a testimony of Thanksgiving to God when an opportunity arises, never! Those who shared testimonies of Thanksgiving Sunday night touched my heart. Thank you for your encouragement.

As you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal this Thursday, remember to say thank you, give a testimony of Thanksgiving, and give God glory! God expects it!

“How Can I Keep from Singing” Chris Tomlin.

“How can I keep from singing your praise? How can I ever say enough? How amazing is your love. How can I keep from shouting your name? I know I am loved by the King and it makes my heart want to sing.”

We Labor Together With God, Wes