Looking Ahead Manuscript

SERMON TITLE: Looking Ahead
TEXT: Psalm 95:1-6; Matthew 6:24; 1 Timothy 6:9-12; Hebrews 10:24-25; Ephesians 4:11-16; Matthew 28:18b-20; Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
DATE: 11-17/18-18

WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know — and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with us or if you’re worshipping at our North Main campus — I want you to know that God loves you and I love you too.

And if you’re a guest with us — this is a different kind of series that we’re in right now. Usually you’ll find us spending weeks at a time in a book of the Bible. But for two weeks we’re pressing the pause button and taking time to look back and look ahead as we just passed the one year mark of me being the senior pastor here at Gateway.

Last week, we took time to look back at some things God has done in and through us this past year. And today, we’re going to look ahead — we’re going to look at who God is calling us to be as we move forward together. And the bulk of this sermon comes from something I teach during our membership class here at Gateway. So if you just went through our membership class — this will be familiar to you.

But for those of us who’ve been members at Gateway for some time, think of this as a reminder as to what it means to call Gateway your church.

And for those of you who aren’t members of Gateway, I hope this sermon will challenge you to take your next step with us.

A couple of weeks ago, the staff and I were having a discussion about risk versus comfort. We were asking ourselves what are some seemingly risky things — things that will force us to live by faith — that we should be praying about, considering, leaping towards. And — believe it or not — the place where the staff thought we should begin was by me teaching on the importance of church membership— because they believe if we — people who call Gateway “my church” — that if we understand and value the importance of membership — our church will be sent on a trajectory of living by faith in a whole new way. Well — new — isn’t exactly right — because focusing on membership will bring us back to our roots and how Gateway first began.

If you don’t know Gateway’s story, this church began in a pretty dramatic way. Long before I was here, a bunch of you — led by pastor Ben — got kicked out of a denomination. The building you worshipped in got locked up and you weren’t allowed back in. You had no money. No office space. No building. No supplies.

You had nothing — and — you had everything — because you had a group of committed church members who were determined to live by faith for the glory of God. And here we are nearly two decades later. And it’s now easy to be comfortable. It’s now easy — as we sit in comfortable chairs or pews, as we walk around not one but two campuses, as we sip our coffee and eat our cookies — it’s become easy to lose that zeal — to lose that passion — to lose that fire that was there at the beginning of Gateway’s story.

And that’s why we’re going to focus on church membership. Because we believe that if we get back to our roots — the future for us is beyond what any of us can imagine.

So I want us to focus in on what it means to be a member of Gateway Church — as we look ahead to the future. And like last week — when we looked back — we’ll be looking ahead using our church values as our guide.

So if you have your Bible please turn with me to Psalm 95. We’ll be looking at verses 1-6.

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions. So if you have a question during the sermon, you can text your question in to the number on the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

VALUES

Now — while you’re finding Psalm 95 — I want to show you something about our church values. Our values represent our discipleship process — how we help you grow in your faith. And our values are how we accomplish our mission of “connecting people to Jesus Christ and to one another.

So how you grow as a follower of Jesus and how we accomplish our mission are the same thing — they’re what we call our values — here at Gateway.

And you probably know that…

Our first value is worship.

In Psalm 95 we read, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! 3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. 5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. 6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!” (Psalm 95:1-6 ESV)

We’re to sing, and make a joyful noise, and come with thanksgiving as we gather together to worship our Creator, our King, our great God. And this is our goal when we gather together during our weekend worship services.

We do this by making sure that our worship services are — meaning we’re not ashamed of the gospel.

The songs we sing, the sermons we preach, the prayers we pray are all intentionally centered on the gospel — the good news of God’s saving work in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Our worship services are soaked in the gospel — are shaped by the gospel — and are focused on the gospel.

We also contextualize our worship services. Meaning — like good missionaries — we study the culture around us so we can best reach the people in our community with the gospel. From the language we speak and the clothes we wear to the instruments we use — we view our surrounding community as our mission field and want to present the gospel in a way that’s understandable to them.

And finally, we try to do all things with excellence. We’re serving the Lord first, and He deserves our very best. In the Old Testament, God gives the Israelites specific instructions as to what their worship was to be like and — if you’ve ever read the book of Leviticus — one thing you’ll find — in all of the rules and regulations — is a demand for excellence in their worship. And the same is true for us. We’re told that — no matter what we’re doing — whether eating or drinking — whatever we’re doing — we’re to do it for God’s glory — so it should be done with excellence.

Now an area of worship that I don’t want to skip over — because excellence definitely applies here — is our giving — and specifically — I’m talking about giving money to support the work God is doing here at Gateway. I know money’s a touchy subject. I know there are guests among us and you may be thinking, “Well here we go — this is what I was expecting the preacher man to bring up — money!” But if you attend Gateway regularly — you know that money isn’t some hobby horse I bring up every week.

But when it comes to worship, it’s insufficient to talk about doing everything with excellence and not talk about our giving. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24 ESV)

Jesus saw a poor widow give all the money she had to live on into an offering box and He praised her for her generosity. And He chastised the rich who gave more money than her — but weren’t being generous like she was.

Jesus tells many stories about stewardship and what it means to be entrusted with money. And His point is to teach us how we’re to view money not as ours — but as God’s — and how we should use God’s money for His glory — how we should use money in a way that’s worshipful and done with excellence.

Paul writes, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:9-12 ESV)

Do you see Paul’s warning? In pursuing money some wandered away from the faith — they stopped following Jesus! Money — itself — isn’t evil — the love of money is what’s destructive. And the lie we so easily tell ourselves is “I’m immune to loving money.”

But there is an antidote to the love of money and that’s radical generosity. Someone has said, “Radical generosity is an act of love toward God and toward others that exponentially increases love. It moves us from seeing money as a currency of status and power to instead seeing it as a currency for loving God and others. We love God with our money when we treat it as His, not ours, and send it out to the things He loves.” (Tim Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, 307)

If you think you’re immune to loving money, let me challenge you to pray a prayer I came across in a book: “Let me never put financial security before love. Let me use my money to love people who are poor, to love people who don’t know [God], and to love people with needs in my family and Christian community.” (Tim Keller, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life, 307)

And know that I bring this up because I love you and don’t want any of you to wander away from the faith because I didn’t warn you of the danger of loving money.

Our worship services are Gospel-centered, contextual, and done with excellence. Here’s the bottom line when it comes to worship. Our expectation is that our members will attend a worship service on a weekly basis.

This isn’t a new expectation — this is an expectation that’s been around long before my arrival — but as we’re looking ahead — looking to the future — I want to remind our members what you committed to when you became a member.

So let me say it again so you don’t miss it or dismiss it. Our expectation is that our members will attend a worship service on a weekly basis.

Now immediately you may be wondering about “this and that and all of the reasons why you may not make it to church.” So let me tell you what I mean.

We believe that a follower of Jesus will prioritize worshipping with God’s people. So that means part of the weekend is already booked on your calendar. You have a reoccurring event that you plan on being at and you schedule the rest of your weekend accordingly.

Now sickness happens — and we’re not against vacations — we know that college students may go home for the summer and snow birds may be gone in the winter — but what we’re saying is that all too often worshipping God in a local church can become more of “an option we’ll do if our calendar is open” instead of a “priority we plan all of our other weekend activities around.”

And we believe that anyone who’s a member of Gateway will make it a priority to worship with us weekly. We don’t have this expectation of non-members, but this is what sets apart our members from people who haven’t made a formal commitment.

In Hebrews chapter ten, the author writes, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV)

We’re to not abandon meeting together for worship…and in other ways. Which leads us to our second value…

Which is connect. As our mission statement says, “we connect to one another.”

And here at Gateway, the primary way we connect to one another is in our Life Groups. Many of you are already in a Life Group, but I want to remind you what our groups are all about.

We want you in a Life Group so you’re meeting regularly with a group of people where the Bible is applied and where care for one another takes place.

You hear the sermon at one of our weekend worship services and then you go to your Life Group to discuss how the sermon is — or should be — changing your life. The goal isn’t to just hear to God’s Word — the goal is to be changed so that you obey God’s Word.

And the people in your Life Group will pray for you. You’ll feel more comfortable sharing what’s going on in your life that’s in need of prayer because these people will be some of your closest friends in the church.

So prayer happens in these groups as well as care. Our Life Groups are our first line of defense for your care.

As you know, we’re about to send one of our pastors off to lead a church. And that will leave us with two pastors on staff for the 1,600-1,700 people who are here every week. So guess what? Two pastors can’t care for all of you. We love you, but that’s way too many people for us to care for. It’s why you don’t see a mom and dad with 1,600 kids — it’s too much.

But besides our size, in Ephesians chapter four we see our job description as pastors. Paul writes, “And he (Jesus) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11-12 ESV)

And our Life Groups are our way of equipping you to do the work of ministry — of caring for one another — so that no need goes unmet in our congregation.

And our expectation is that all of our members will connect in a Life Group. This isn’t a new expectation — this is an expectation that’s been around long before I became your pastor. We don’t have this expectation of non-members, but this is what sets apart our members from people who haven’t made a formal commitment.

So we worship together and connect to one another in Life Groups. And we…

Serve one another. Our third value is serve — we serve each other in the church.

If we continue in the Ephesians passage, the pastors’ “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:12-16 ESV)

  • You’re to serve the people in this church because — when you don’t — Paul says...

  • You keep us immature.

  • You keep us from unity.

  • You keep us from measuring up to the fullness of God’s love.

And our expectation is that all of our members will serve this congregation.

Children’s ministry, youth ministry, worship team, tech team, greeters, ushers, parking lot attendants, Life Group leaders, prayer team — these are just a few of the ways you can serve here at Gateway.

Expecting all of our members to serve isn’t a new idea — this is an expectation that’s been around long before I became your pastor. And we don’t have this expectation of non-members, but this is what sets apart our members from people who haven’t made a formal commitment.

And our final value is go. In Matthew chapter twenty-eight Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18b-20 ESV)

Jesus said, “If you believe in Me, be sure of this, I am with you forever.” That’s an amazing promise. Have you believed in Jesus? If so, He’s with you forever.

Now, I just set you up — because if you just said that Jesus is with you — then you can’t ignore what He said just before He gave His promise to always be with you. Because He told you to go and make disciples. And the reason why you’re to go and make disciples is — well — because Jesus is with you. See how that works?

  • To be a Christian is to be a disciple maker.

  • To follow Jesus, means you follow His disciple making lifestyle by being a disciple maker yourself.

  • You may like Jesus, you may think He’s a swell guy, but you’re not following Him unless you’re going and making disciples like He commanded.

And our expectation is that all of our members are goers.

To be a member of Gateway means you make a commitment of being a goer along with us.

  • A goer here in Findlay — sharing your faith at work, with your neighbors, your roommates, by inviting people to Gateway.

  • A goer here in the US — taking advantage of mission trips we have where you can go to people in our country and share your faith with them.

  • And even a goer around the world. In the past two years, I’ve been to Asia multiple times. Why? Because we’re a going church and I’m called to be a goer — just like you — if you follow Jesus.

And with as new as this value is for Gateway — even this an expectation began before I became your senior pastor. We don’t have this expectation of non-members, but this is what sets apart our members from people who haven’t made a formal commitment.

These are our values. Worship — Connect — Serve — and Go. This is how we help you grow in your faith. This is how we disciple you. This is how we accomplish our mission of “connecting people to Jesus Christ and to one another.” This is who we are as a church.

OWNERSHIP

Now hopefully you picked up on something I’ve repeated a few times. After every one of our values — I gave a very specific expectation that we have of our members. We expect our members…

  • To worship on a weekly basis.

  • To connect in a Life Group.

  • To serve the congregation.

  • And to be a goer.

And then — after every one of the expectations — I said, “We don’t have this expectation of non-members, but this is what sets apart our members from people who haven’t made a formal commitment.”

Beyond the biblical expectations — which we’ll look at in a moment — this is why membership is important. You’re making a formal commitment — you’re setting yourself apart by saying, “Hold me accountable to these expectations.”

Now some of you may be thinking, “Boy this is nice and all, but there’s no way I’m going to make that kind of commitment.” And if that’s you — here’s my advice — please don’t become a member of Gateway. And if you are a member, please reconsider if you should continue being one.

  • I mean why join a gym if you know you’re never going to workout?

  • Why sign your kid up for soccer if they’re never going to make it to the practices or games?

  • And why become a member of a church if you don’t want to be held accountable to the membership expectations?

I just want to make sure that you understand what kind of expectations we have of our members. And what kind of expectations members can have of the leadership of Gateway. And here’s why membership should be important to you.

In Hebrews chapter thirteen, we read, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” (Hebrews 13:17 ESV)

Now there were many words I could’ve stressed, but I went with the “yours” because they’re all singular. Meaning they don’t refer to a group, but to an individual. Not a congregation, but a Christ-follower. Not we, but me — and you and you and you.

And here’s why we want membership to have an even greater importance as we look ahead to our future as a church — and this is straight from the verse I just read — so if you don’t like these questions — take it up with God.

  • Who are your spiritual leaders — the spiritual leaders you are obeying?

  • Who are your spiritual leaders — the spiritual leaders who have the responsibility of watching over your soul?

  • Who are your spiritual leaders — the spiritual leaders who will give an account to God for you?

  • Who are your spiritual leaders — the ones who you are making it a joy to lead you?

Now before you answer, let me make a ridiculous illustration.

  • If you’re married, who’s your spouse?

  • If you’re an employee, who’s your boss?

  • If you’re a student, what’s your school mascot?

Seemingly random questions, but they all have a similar answer. Your spouse, your boss — even your school mascot — are “yours” because you have a formal relationship with them.

You’ve got a marriage license, a W2 form, or an acceptance letter from your college…showing that you have a formal relationship making them your spouse, your boss, or your school.

Now I don’t have those things — I don’t have the formal relationship that you have with them — so…

  • It’d be creepy for me to walk up to your spouse and start saying “Hey honey,” right?

  • And I can show up to where you work, but I’m not going to get paid and — bonus — I don’t have to listen to your boss!

  • And walking around your college campus doesn’t make me a student, does it?

So I’ve got to ask — what makes Gateway your church? Is it just saying, “Gateway’s my church” or walking around one of our campuses or participating in one of our programs?

It’s none of those things.

What makes Gateway your church — is membership. Where Gateway and you say this relationship is formal — that it’s official — that this relationship matters.

Where the church leaders make a formal commitment by saying, “We’ll watch over your soul. We’ll give an account to God for you.” And where you make a formal commitment by saying, “I’ll follow and obey your spiritual leadership as you follow and obey Christ’s leading of this church. Hold me accountable to these membership expectations.”

That’s what membership is all about — that’s why it’s important — that’s why it separates those who merely attend from those who’ve made a formal commitment.

Now please hear me — you’re welcome to attend Gateway all you want without becoming a member, but you’re not committed to Gateway until you do become a member.

  • Until then, you’re leaving your options open.

  • Until then, we have zero expectations of you.

  • And until you become a member, you don’t have to listen to or obey the leadership of Gateway.

But listen — and know that I love you when I say this.

Until you become a member, I’m not your pastor — not because I don’t want to be — but because you haven’t said — through membership — “You’re my pastor. The elders are my spiritual leaders. I’m asking you to give an account to God for my soul and I will make it a joy for you to lead me.”

Now I know there are legitimate reasons why someone might not become a member — maybe you’re here for only part of the year and you’re a member of a church where you live the rest of the time — some of us are in ministry and your sending organization requires you to have membership in their church — I get it. But those kinds of exceptions are few and far between and we’ll do our best to shepherd and care for you while you’re here with us. But those are the exceptions — not the norms.

Now some of you have been members of Gateway for a long time — so why did we just spend an entire sermon on the importance of church membership? Because you know people who’ve been attending Gateway for a long time and they still aren’t members — maybe they’re sitting next to you — don’t look at them — that’d be awkward.

But some day they’re going to have a crisis — could be that she tells her husband “I don’t want to be married to you any longer” and leaves him for another guy — or he’s got a drinking problem and loses his job — or whatever. And one of two things will happen. They’ll either start saying something like “My church wasn’t there for me when I had a crisis” or — especially if they’re the one causing the crisis — they’ll say something like, “You can’t tell me what to do — you’re not my pastor.”

And here’s what I need from you.

  • Encourage them to become a member.

  • Encourage them to come talk to their campus pastor about the importance of church membership.

  • Encourage them to make their relationship with Gateway a formal commitment.

  • And show them — if you’re a Gateway member — show them what it means to be a healthy church member. Someone who worships with us weekly, gives generously, connects to others in a Life Group, serves, and goes.

Because we want to be their shepherds — I want to be their pastor — we want to lead and shepherd everyone Jesus has entrusted to our care. But the people we’re responsible for — the people we’ll give an account for — are those who’ve made this relationship formal. Those who’ve committed to us and have asked us to commit to them— those who are members.

But there’s another reason why I’ve taken an entire sermon to talk about the importance of membership. Because as we look ahead as a church — and begin to hope and pray and dream about year two and beyond — we need every member doing their “work of ministry…[we need every member] building up [this local] body of Christ — [and we need every member to do so] until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God — [until we — as a church — become] a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature…[we need all of our members to] practice the truth in love, [so that] we [together as a church] will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head. 16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one — [as each member] — does [his or her] part, the body [of Gateway Church will] grow in love.” (Ephesians 4:12b-13, 15-16 NET)

Let’s pray.

PRAYER

Gracious Father, thank you for saving us from ourselves, from death, and from Hell. Saving us — not to be individuals who follow You all on our own — but saving us into a community of faith — a church — that follows You together. Help us to take Your Word seriously — Your Word about our interconnectedness and interdependence of one another. Help us to commit to one another and to invite others to hold us to Your expectations of us.

Father — for all of us who follow You — we are either building this church up or we are holding it back from growing into the church You tell us it can be. Spirit give us an honest assessment of how we’re doing and an irresistible desire to do our part in building this church up to its fullest potential.

And Jesus — for anyone here who doesn’t believe in You — I ask that You would reveal Yourself to them in that beautiful, mesmerizing, life changing way that only You can — so they believe and receive the eternal life You are offering them.

We pray all these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Songs for the Weekend

Take a few moments this week to listen to the songs for the weekend at Gateway.

CR9

Exalted One - Elevation Worship
Come People of the Risen King - Sovereign Grace
Here’s My Heart - Passion
Rock of Ages
The Greatness of Our God - Hillsong Worship

N Main

The Rock Won’t Move - Vertical Worship
God Is Able - Hillsong Worship
Great Is Thy Faithfulness
10,000 Reasons - Matt Redman

Check out all of the songs we sing at Gateway on our Spotify Worship List.

We also have created a Beyond Sunday Spotify playlist with songs we commend to you for your enjoyment beyond Sunday. Check it out!

Dr Mission Trip Recap

By Alisha Howell

We had just walked out of the Santo Domingo airport, and we knew this was nothing like we had ever experienced before. Over the past year, God had been working in 15 people's hearts to draw them to this exact purpose for such a time as this. Each person, with their own profession and skill, were now moved out of their comfort zone and fully trusting in God to be used for His glory. The main goal for the trip was a medical mission trip, and our desire was to take care of medical needs that people couldn't afford on their own. We saw around 300 patients in three of those days, and we had amazing interpreters to help us communicate with the Dominican people. For our clinic days, nurses would gather patients’ information, vitals, medical history, and their current medical need. They were then brought to a waiting area where they had an opportunity to hear testimonies and the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Once they were given an opportunity to heal spiritually, we focused on their physical needs. We had three stations for doctors: one for massage therapy and occupational therapy, one for eyeglasses, and another for pharmacy. Many people were blessed and prayed over. Two of the three days we were set up in the community church which allowed the patients the opportunity to connect with the local pastor. There is also a medical clinic run by SCORE (a mission organization) that has physicians, dentists, and an optometrist. A few members of our team were able to spend a day there, educating the dentists on future opportunities for them to help the people in their area. All of our extra medications and supplies also went to the clinic to take care of future needs for people in their community.

DR Team (2).jpg

For a half day, we had an opportunity to go to a nursing home and do wellness checks on the residents. Even with the language barrier, we were able to connect with many people there. Some women learned a few worship songs in Spanish and began singing "Amazing Grace" over them. There was nothing quite like that feeling of total worship and joy that could be seen in some of the resident's expressions. The following day, we were able to use money sent by Gateway to purchase food to feed over 70 families for a week. It had to be quite a sight to see all of us in the local grocery lined up with with 15 carts of food! We partnered with a local church, led by a SCORE missionary named Pastor Sadrak, to distribute the food. As people would come to receive their food bags, we would pray over them. Afterwards, we went to an all girls orphanage where we did oral hygiene education, coloring, playing, and helping the girls make hair bows. The young girls were full of laughter, kindness, and joy. Before we left,, they sang two songs for us. One of which was "Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord," and it brought tears to our eyes.

Each of us have our own unique way God showed himself to us and the people we served. There are countless stories and memories made. The trip began with 15 people that casually knew one another and ended with 15 people who felt like family. God showed us His provision in providing just what we needed for each person during our clinic days. He gave us opportunities to witness in airports, boats, and in the various communities. God showed us that the Holy Spirit can speak across age, language, profession, and culture. God loves people, and He loves it when we serve him using the different talents He has given us. We are one body with many parts. Each part having a useful and needed purpose.

There are so many personal stories we could share of how we saw God moving in and through us on this trip. To see one, click here. If you are interested in hearing more, please just stop and ask us - we would love to share more one-on-one. And if you are on the fence about stepping out and going on a trip, we encourage you to just take that leap and GO!

Check out 2019 trip options here.

Looking Back Q&A

Is discipleship a separate ministry at Gateway?

This is a great question, and the short answer is, no, there is no separate “Discipleship” ministry at Gateway. Our mission, vision and values are an excellent place to begin, though, when considering what discipleship at Gateway should look like. Our mission is to connect people to Jesus Christ and to one another by:

  • Worship that is Gospel-centered, contextual, and done with excellence

  • Connecting through Word-based application and care for one another

  • Serving the people in our church family

  • Going into the world by equipping, partnering and sending members to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ

So, if someone were to ask me what they need to do to grow as a disciple of Christ at Gateway, my response would be to begin by embracing and participating fully in the life of the church. Start by being regular and consistent in attending worship. Secondly, plug into a Life Group - this is where you have the opportunity to discuss and discover how the Word you hear preached on the weekends or that you read on your own throughout the week is practically lived out. Life Groups are also our first line of care for one another when life happens. It’s also important to get plugged into a serving team. This is where we have the opportunity to follow Jesus’ example of serving one another. Mark 10:43-45 says, “...whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” We follow Christ’s example and grow as His disciples when we sacrificially serve our fellow believers. Finally, we grow as disciples by going into our community (and the world) to share our faith with others.

Within each of these values, there is infinite room to grow deeper, as well. For example, if you already attend worship regularly, a deeper challenge for you may be to grow in your personal worship by participating in a daily Bible-reading plan with a friend. Or if you have been on a serving team for a couple of years, maybe it’s time to step up and start leading the team. Another great way to grow as a disciple is to start meeting intentionally with someone who is younger in their faith than you. Nothing will help you dig deep and grow like answering questions from a young believer!

For a more in depth look at our four values or for more suggestions on how you can grow as a disciple of Christ, check out a booklet by Pastor Josh titled “How Do I Grow?”. You can pick up a copy at your campus’ What’s Next wall.


Volunteer Spotlight: Joe & April Sonnenberg

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Serving is one of our core values here at Gateway, and many of you are serving one another through one of our serving ministries. This week, we are highlighting Joe and April Sonnenberg who serve in the cafe at N Main. Check out what they have to say about serving!


How long have you attended Gateway?...been a volunteer in Gateway’s Cafe?

Attended Gateway 5 years, cafe 3 years

In what capacity do you volunteer?

Every other Sunday in the cafe at N Main

Why did you initially volunteer to serve with cafe?

We wanted to meet and interact with people, and we both love coffee.

What do you enjoy most about serving in the cafe?

Meeting and growing relationships with other members

Do you have a favorite ministry memory of working cafe at Gateway?

Joe: We love that all ministry volunteers bring the kids an hour early, and they eagerly come to the cafe asking what they can help with. They love to help carry items from the basement to the cafe. Then, of course, they especially love ALL the free cookies and hot cocoa!!

What do you enjoy doing when you are not in the cafe to help others connect to Jesus Christ and to one another?

We help volunteer on the prayer team. We love fellowship and always hanging with family!

What would you say to someone who has been feeling a tug to serve, but who hasn’t taken the plunge yet?

Don’t hesitate; do it! Just like Josh said in his sermon this week, when you are blessing and ministering, it brings so much joy, and it comes back 10 fold. It has been such a blessing for us serving in the cafe!

Looking Back Manuscript

SERMON TITLE: Looking Back
TEXT: Philippians 1:3-11; Psalm 100:1-5; 1 Peter 4:8-11; Romans 12:15; Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 3:14-21; (ESV)
SPEAKER: Josh Hanson
DATE: 11-10/11-18

WELCOME

It’s good to be with all of you this weekend at Gateway Church. And one thing I want you to know — and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first time with us or if you’re worshipping at our North Main campus — one thing I want you to know is that God loves you and I love you too.

SERIES INTRODUCTION

And we’re beginning a new series this weekend — a short series — as — believe it or not — we’ve hit a milestone. We’ve passed the one year mark of me being your senior pastor. Just over a year ago, Pastor Ben and I stood before you during an evening communion service and changed roles. And it’s been quite the year.

And what we’re going to do today is look back at this past year — our first year together as pastor and congregation — and then next week — we’ll look ahead — look to the future. And there are all kinds of ways to do a series like this, but I thought that we’d look back and look ahead through the lens of our church values — our values of worship, connect, serve, and go.

And we’re going to be in a few places in the Bible today so if you have your Bible you’ll want to go ahead and grab it. And I hope that this will be a time of celebration — as we look back at God’s faithfulness — a time of encouragement — as we remember God’s blessings to us — but also a time of conviction — as we allow God’s Word and Spirit to challenge us to continue to grow and be transformed into the church that God has created us to be.

SERMON INTRODUCTION

So if you have your Bible, go ahead and open it up to Philippians chapter 1. We’ll be looking at verses 3-11.

And, if you’re a guest with us, something we like to do at Gateway is let you ask questions. So if you have a question during the sermon, you can text your question in to the number printed on the bottom of the sermon notes sheet or you can submit it on the Gateway app.

And also — if you’re new to Gateway — here’s what I want you to know. Today you’re going to get a sneak peek — a behind the scenes look — at who Gateway is. You’re going to hear about things that — if you’re new — you won’t have experienced. You’re going to hear some names and some stories that won’t mean much to you — but all of this will give you an insider’s look as to what kind of people are surrounding you. What do they value? Why are they part of this church? And why you should consider being part of what God is doing here.

RE-ANNOUNCE AND READ THE TEXT

So with that in mind, here are the words found in Philippians chapter 1. Beginning in verse 3.

The apostle Paul writes, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:3-11 ESV)

There are times — when I’m reading the Bible — that I come across a prayer — like Paul’s prayer here — and I make the biblical prayer my own as I pray. I do this because I’m not that great of a pray-er and so praying the words of Scripture helps me. And this prayer of Paul’s is such an encouragement and challenge to me — because in this prayer we see that Paul has a remarkable outlook on life — and on these Christians in Philippi — and really his outlook on things is just an incredible encouragement and challenge to me.

Here’s a man who’s in prison as he writes this letter — in jail because of his faith in Jesus. There are people who are trying to make things really hard for Paul while he’s in prison — and yet — he’s thankful. He’s joyful. He’s prayerful.

And as he prays for these Christians he says that — while thinking of them — he’s filled with joy.

  • He sees the work that God is doing in them and he’s thankful and confident that God will finish the work that He’s began.

  • Paul’s grateful for the partnership he’s had with these Christians in spreading the gospel — the Good News of what Jesus has done in His life, death, and resurrection.

  • He tells them that he holds them dearly in his heart because they’ve experienced the same grace that he has.

  • He has a longing to be with them because of their common faith in Jesus.

  • And he prays that their love will continue to grow — as well as their knowledge, discernment, and righteousness — all so that God will be praised and glorified in their lives.

What a prayer. What a love shared between Paul and these Christians. What a holy bond — a commitment to one another — a concern for one another — a care — a hope — a joy — because of one another. What a picture of what could and should be the experience of our commitment to one another as we share a common faith in the same Savior.

Now — to be sure — Paul doesn’t ignore or overlook their sin. He tells two women to stop their bickering and get back to working together for the gospel. But even though these people are sinful, broken, stumbling saints — Paul’s filled with joy because of what God is doing in, for, and through them.

WORSHIP

So — in the spirit of Paul’s prayer for the Philippian Christians — I want to share with you some things I’m thankful for — things that give me joy — when I look back at our first year together.

Beginning with our value of worship, I’m thankful for our team of volunteers who lead us in worship every weekend at our two campuses. We’re a blessed church when it comes to musicians, vocalists, tech team volunteers, first impressions folks who help people get parked, find their way around our campuses, get seated, and — for many of you — most importantly — get a cup of coffee. We want everyone who comes to Gateway to feel welcome and you do just that week after week after week.

I’m particularly thankful for the two guys who’ve come on staff in our worship department this past year. Shaun Meloy came back on staff — the prodigal son returned — Shaun leads our worship team at CR9. Jon McKanna joined our staff this summer and leads our North Main congregation in worship. I love these guys — and their families. I love how they concern themselves not just with preparing some songs for us to sing — but they concern themselves with leading us in worshipping God together through songs that will teach us — and reassure us — of the hope we have in Christ.

As the psalmist writes, “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 3 Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” (Psalm 100:1-5 ESV)

Shaun and Jon — and the worship teams they lead — remind us each week — through the songs we sing — the Scriptures we read — and the prayers we pray — that our Lord is God. He made us. We are His people. We are His sheep and He is our Shepherd. That our God is good and that He is faithful. They remind us to sing with thanksgiving and to praise Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

One fun memory I have — this happened before Shaun came on staff — but in a sermon — I said the word “partay” — which Shaun felt was an out of date word that would best be put on a “never to be used in a sermon again” word list. So I did what any self-respecting pastor would do and promised his then — six year old son — an ice cream cake if he would say “partay” all week long to his dad. Which he did. Which...was awesome. And so I brought the Meloy family an ice cream cake — with what else — but the word “partay” written on it. It’s fun to have fun with each other.

If you were here a year ago, you may remember that just before Ben and I changed roles, I met with many of you in informal meetings. Every Life Group got an invite to attend these meetings and a few hundred of you came out to get to know me and my wife better. One thing we did — during these meetings — was get feedback from you as to how we were doing as a church — what were our strengths and weaknesses. And two things you mentioned — that needed some improvement — and I hope you’ve noticed that we listened to you — was our infrequency of communion and you wanting us to bring in guest speakers.

And in response to your feedback, we started celebrating communion on a more regular basis this past year — both during our weekend worship services — and in evening communion services where both campuses come together to worship.

We’ve also had guest speakers this past year. Troy Wilson was here in April and spoke to us about the importance of church planting and shared with us the ministry work he’s doing in California. In July, Pastor Hikmat — and his family — came and spoke to us about life in a Muslim country. I met Hikmat while I was in Beirut earlier this year and we’ve been able to develop a partnership with his church — Resurrection Church Beirut — and will be sending a team on a missions trip to Beirut next year. His teenage son spoke to our youth group and one of their daughters spoke to our 5th graders about what it’s like being a Christian in a predominantly Muslim country.

And in two weeks, we’ll have another guest speaker. His name is Ray Ortlund Jr. — a name some of you may be familiar with. He’s the pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville, he’s written quite a few books, served on the Old Testament translation team for the NLT and ESV Bibles, serves on the council of the Gospel Coalition, and loves to hunt — which is how we got him to come to Ohio. Some Gateway folks were visiting Ray’s church in Nashville and started a conversation about hunting and it didn’t take much persuading to get him to come and preach for us as long as the guys took him hunting while he was here. So you’ll want to be here the weekend of Nov 24/25 when Ray’s visiting with us.

Now when it comes to worship, there are some things we’ve been wrestling with. One is how to do this thing called multisite better — better meaning biblically better and also practically better. For now, we don’t want our two campuses to become independent of one another — that’s why we started North Main as a campus and not as its own independent church. But there’s always this tension of wanting to be one church, while also desiring some campus independence. So we’re trying to figure all of that out and we just ask for you to be patient with us. And please pray for us — that we’ll be guided by God’s Word and Spirit as we lead a multisite church.

And I think this tension — of being one church in two locations — is why I’ve really enjoyed our evening communion services — when we all come together to worship, to hear God’s Word preached, to pray, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and even celebrate baptisms as we did last weekend.

CONNECT

Our second value is connect. The apostle Peter wrote these words to Christians facing some difficult circumstances. He writes, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:8-11 ESV)

When it comes to our value of connect, something I’m thankful for are the 61 life groups that 700 of you connect to one another in. Roughly 42% of our weekend worshippers — not counting kids — are in a life group. And I’m thankful for your commitment to connect to one another. I’m thankful for the 15 new life group leaders who’ve recently stepped up to lead a life group — and if you’re one of these new group leaders — know that we need you — because we keep getting more requests from people wanting to join a life group and we currently don’t have enough places to put folks. This is a great problem to have — but it’s a problem we don’t want to have for too long.

I’m thankful that we were able to bring Ed Grable on staff to lead our life group ministry. Up until Ed joined us on staff, our life groups were led by two part-time staff members. They were doing they best they could with their limited hours — but we’ve seen — and hopefully you’ve experienced this — that bringing Ed on has helped us give our life groups the focused leadership they’ve needed for some time. We’re wanting to do everything we can to help you better connect to one another.

This was part of the feedback you gave us a year ago and we heard you loud and clear. You let us know that we needed to do a better job of helping you connect to one another — to be discipled — to help you grow in your faith. And bringing on a full time staff member is part of our response to your feedback.

We’ve also had a team — made up of elders and staff members — who’ve been studying this whole area of our church — this area of connecting and discipleship. They’ve been assessing our strengths and weaknesses when it comes to helping you connect to one another and grow in your faith. The team isn’t finished with its work yet, but they’re gaining clarity as to things we need to do better — going forward — so we continue to be a connected to one another church.

One of the personal delights I’ve had in this area of our church are the weekly meetings I’ve had with some guys I’m discipling. It’s been a joy for me to see these guys — of all ages — that’s my pastorally kind way of saying one of the guys isn’t as young as the others — but it’s been a joy for me to see these guys reading their Bibles, studying their Bibles, coming with questions, and really wanting to better understand who God is and who they are according to God’s Word. And if you’re a Christian — and you’re not investing in someone else’s faith — let me just say that you have no idea what you’re missing out on. It’s one of the greatest blessings you can ever be given as you see someone grow in their faith because of your investment.

It’s why Paul had such an affection for the Christians in Philippi. He had personally discipled many of them — helped them grow in their faith — and just like it’s a joy for a parent to see their children grow up and mature — it’s a joy for a spiritual parent to see their spiritual children grow up and mature in the faith.

SERVE

Our next value is serve. Now we don’t really have a serve department — meaning we don’t have a staff person dedicated to this value — because serving is something that happens in all of our ministries.

So serving — in many ways — has already been mentioned. I mentioned our worship and tech team servants. I’m thankful for our parking lot, and ushers, and greeters, and security team, and cafe workers. I’m thankful for all of our life groups leaders. And our kidway volunteers — from those holding and praying for the newborns in our nursery, to those serving our families who have toddlers and preschoolers, to our elementary, middle and high school, and college volunteers who are shaping the hearts and minds of the next generation here at Gateway. I’m especially thankful for the faithful ladies who serve our special needs students every week. You ladies are doing a good work. I’m so thankful for all of you who serve this congregation — who do the work that God has called you to do — to help this church — your church — mature into the church that God’s called us to be.

Outside of our Gateway ministries, we’ve had many of you serve families in our congregation who found themselves in difficult circumstances this past year. From serving families grieving the death of a loved one to making sure mom and dad have prepared meals in the fridge when they bring their newborn home — Gateway you are a congregation full of selfless servants. You do well in fulfilling Paul’s words to the Christians in Rome, where he writes, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15 ESV)

I think of those of you who’ve served the Kroskes. Many of you have shown them the love of Christ as you’ve helped make their home a safe place for Julie. I think of the friendships formed between strangers simply because they found themselves serving with each other on the same team. There are so many things to be thankful for when it comes to how you serve one another. And one of my joys — as your pastor — is to hear stories of you serving one another that were completely off my radar. I had no idea that something was going on — no way of communicating to you that there was a need — and yet I hear of story after story of how you serve and show love for one another.

Yet, I know there are some ways we can improve here. One particular area we’re wanting to improve is our care ministry. This would include everything from the physical needs of folks in our congregation to things — like — getting a more organized counseling ministry going. And a biblical role — that we’ve been neglecting — is the role of deacon — deacons are chief servants in the church — and they assist the pastors by leading with their hands in service so the pastors can lead the church with the Word and prayer.

And we’re putting a plan together to form a healthy deacon team to come alongside the pastors of Gateway so — together — we can lead, shepherd, and serve you better. We’ve come to realize that being a large church — and a multisite church — is no excuse for not being a caring church. And with all of the great acts of care that are happening, we know that we can do some things better and make it easier for us to care for one another. We want to be known for our love for one another — so we’re going to focus on getting our care ministry better organized and I look forward to seeing us grow in our love and care for one another this coming year.

GO

And — finally — our last value is go. As I’m sure you’re familiar, Jesus said to His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."” (Matthew 28:18b-20 ESV)

Or as Luke records — in the book of Acts — “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."” (Acts 1:8 ESV)

Our desire is to be a going and disciple making church. Going locally, nationally, and globally to people so they might connect to Jesus Christ and to one another.

This is another department where we’ve added staff. Ryan Rebold came on staff this past summer — giving new life and energy to our go team. And I’m so thankful for the many ways we’ve been a going church this past year.

Locally, we built bridges in our community by participating in the Martin Luther King Jr. unity walk on a cold wintery evening. Three hundred of you served the 650 kids who attended VBS in the summer. We’ve continued to build relationships with our local schools in both the Findlay and LB school districts. And one of the exciting things — for us locally — is that our North Main campus is now one year old — we made it through the first year and have learned a lot! Something you may not know about our North Main campus is that we’ve been able to offer free office space to our community’s Young Life ministry as a way of partnering with them as they reach students in our local schools.

Nationally, as — you know — we’re sending out Mike Barnhart and his family to serve an EPC church in NY. Additionally, we’ve continued our partnership with Troy Wilson and his church — The Table — out in San Francisco. We’ve started a partnership with an EPC missionary — Shakil — a native Bangladeshi — who’s reaching Muslims in the Detroit area and many of them — who come to faith in Christ — go back to Bangladesh to plant churches among the people there who don’t believe in Jesus.

We’ve shared with you stories from our Campus Outreach partners who are serving and reaching students at BGSU. For years, we’ve had a focus on reaching students at UF — which we’re continuing to do — but we saw an opportunity with BGSU as Chris and Casey — and their team — were part of our congregation long before we ever supported their ministry. And I’m so thankful that God brings to us others — who are doing works of ministry — that we get to step in to partnership with.

We’ve sent some of you to Pikeville, Kentucky to serve the community there. One of our members went to Florida — after the hurricane — to take supplies and help the folks affected by the storm. We sent money to support churches in the Carolinas that were serving their communities affected by their hurricane. We’ve been busy this past year going nationally.

And globally — this past year — I was able to go halfway around the world to Sri Lanka to see the work of one of our missionaries — Terry Jones — and the Bible College that is training up pastors to lead churches in a country that’s over 80% Buddhists and only 1.3% Christian. I spent time in Beirut, Lebanon with another of our missionaries who is reaching Muslim families in this Middle Eastern nation. This was the trip that began our relationship with Pastor Hikmat — who I mentioned earlier — a relationship that’s blossomed into short term mission trips that are being planned for 2019. We sent two groups to the DR this year — one group made up of our high school students — the other a team of medical professionals.

I’m so thankful for all of the ways that we’ve been a going church this past year. But — like our other values — there are things we’re looking to improve. For starters, we’ve learned a ton about being one church in two locations. I’ve mentioned this already, but I can’t tell you how much we’ve learned by making mistakes this past year. Thank you for being patient with us as we continue to figure out exactly what we’re doing as a multisite church.

And I’ve realized that I need to be much more intentional about training and raising up pastors and church ministry leaders. It’s easy — believe it or not — to get distracted by lots of little things that take away your focus from the most important things in ministry. And one of the things God called me to do — years ago — was the training and raising up of pastors and ministry leaders. And I need to focus more of my attention there.

One resource that I want you to be aware of are these cards that are available at the What’s Next Wall at your campus. Both have a question on the front. One asks, “Are you interested in being an EPC Missionary?” and the other asks, “Are you interested in being an EPC Pastor?” And on the back of the cards are steps you can take if your answer is “yes” to either of these questions. As a going and sending church, my hope and prayer is that we will be known for raising up and sending out many pastors and missionaries in the years ahead — so if you think God may be calling you to be a pastor or missionary — be sure to grab one of these cards.

CONCLUSION

Gateway, we have much to be thankful for. God is doing great things among us and my hope is that we will continue to step out in faith and follow His lead in becoming the church He wants us to be.

We’re going to close now in prayer now — and I’m going to use the apostle Paul’s words again — which are much better than mine. Let’s pray.

PRAYER

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT)

Growing in Faith Q&A

Was Abram supposed to save Lot or was He commanded by God to “leave his family” and disobeyed? What do we know about Lot’s descendents?

Scripture does not indicate whether God told Abraham to leave or stay with Lot, so, ultimately it’s unknown what God’s command/intent was in the situation. Regardless, Abram sought to help Lot when he needed that, and that can be looked at as a good thing. In modern day situations, it’s good that we have a heart to help those who need it—even those who have made poor decisions—, but we should also seek God’s wisdom so that we don’t enable others.

How are we to reconcile Romans 4:19-25 with Genesis 15 & 16 and the conception of Ishmael? How did Abram persevere?

Ishmael is a picture of Abram trying to take the situation into his own hands. The Bible doesn’t teach that Abram was perfect—he didn’t always “persevere,” nor did he always “give God glory.” That’s why the Gospel is needed. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abram. It’s the same in our lives…If we try to do it ourselves, it doesn’t work. Faith in Jesus is required. Even our faith in Jesus is imperfect, and that’s where God’s grace comes in to play—He provides us faith to believe, just like He did with Abram. Our perseverance is inadequate without Christ, just like it was for Abram.

Songs for the Weekend

Life is busy and can be very stressful. It is amazing what even just a few minutes stepping away from it all, focusing on Jesus and worshipping Him can do for the weary Christian’s soul. Take 5 minutes. Pick one of the songs for the weekend at Gateway, and just listen to it (or sing along if your prefer) away from other noise. God will be worshipped and you will be refreshed as you set your mind and heart on the things of heaven.

CR9

How Great You Are - Sovereign Grace
Ever Be - Bethel Music
Come As You Are - David Crowder
How He Loves - David Crowder Band
Build Your Kingdom Here - Rend Collective

N Main

Forever Our King - Red Rocks Worship
More - Red Rocks Worship
O Come To The Altar - Elevation Worship
Love Changes Everything - Red Rocks Worship

Check out all of the songs we sing at Gateway on our Spotify Worship List.

We also have created a Beyond Sunday Spotify playlist with songs we commend to you for your enjoyment beyond Sunday. Check it out!

DR Mission Trip Report and 2019 Mission Trips

Whether it's a town in the heart of Appalachia, a Muslim community in Detroit, Cuba, Lebanon, or Haiti - Gateway is committed to GOING into our community and around the world to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our 2019 mission trip schedule is out! If you are interested in learning more about how Gateway is partnering with brothers and sisters around the world in 2019 or if you would like to sign up for one of these trips, please visit Gateway's website for more information.

Search Committee Update

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Following the congregational vote in September, the Search Committee has convened to begin the process of finding an Associate Pastor to replace Pastor Ben upon his retirement in spring 2019. The Search Committee is following a process outlined by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), and we are guided by the Ministerial Committee of the Midwest EPC. A Search Committee must complete several administrative steps before reaching a point where candidates are applying for the Associate Pastor position. The Search Committee elected officers (Justin Stiles, Chair; David Rath, Vice Chair; and Ben Tan, Secretary). The team completed the Pastor Position Description and the Church Information Form (a profile of Gateway Church). These documents will be finalized and our vacancy will be posted in early November. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Justin Stiles.

Experience Advent

Experience Advent

I know, at this point you've been to Walmart, or wherever, and lamented the present reality that Christmas is already knocking at our doors. Even before Halloween, you probably noticed pre-lit trees going up along a few scantly staged aisles of decor featuring snowmen and elven-like characters. Yes, my friends, Christmas is right around the corner. So before it's here and you're caught unprepared, deer-in-headlights mode fully engaged... please, hear me: prepare yourself for the season of Advent now. To do this, we're going to have to step away from music and Sunday morning.

So, what is Advent? If you've been in a church long enough, you've probably heard that term tossed around more than a few times. There might even have been a wreath with candles and someone reading a piece of scripture involved. If you're still unsure of what Advent is, it's okay, you're not alone. Let's dig into the meaning of Advent from a high altitude.

Certainty in the Midst of Uncertainty

As many of you heard last weekend at Gateway, I’ve accepted a call to pastor an EPC church—Princetown Church—, which is just outside of Albany, New York. Getting to this point has been a challenge for my family and me because we love Gateway. We love the congregation, the staff, and the community so much! For many reasons, we don’t want to go anywhere, but we understand that living out the Great Commission is all about “going.” So, although we are sad to leave, we’re excited about how God will use this transition at both Princetown and Gateway.

To those in our Gateway family, thank you for investing in our family for the past ten years and showing us much grace—the grace of Christ. You have been an incredible blessing to us…more than you’ll ever know. We’re grateful to God for you. We love you!

But, it’s in times like these--times of transition, change, and uncertainty--that God grows us all strong in faith. As I sat in my living room last week, emotionally overwhelmed with all the change occuring in my life, God reminded me that uncertainty is a good thing.

For most of us, uncertainty is the thing that causes frustrations and doubts about God and His promises. But, what if uncertainty is actually the very thing we need to grow strong in faith? What if those circumstances and life seasons of not seeing clearly is ‘the thing’ God uses to grow us strong in faith?

When Abraham didn’t have any children as evidence of God’s future blessing, he--being fully convinced God was able to do what He promised--persevered in faith, while giving glory to God. Can you imagine uncertainty having that effect on your life?

I pray that God would do that in my life and in yours.

This weekend at Gateway, we’re going to take a deeper look at how you can grow strong in faith by having certainty in the midst of uncertainty.

Join me this weekend at Gateway!

North Main Campus - Saturday at 6:00 PM, Sunday at 9:15 & 11:00 AM
CR9 Campus - Sunday at 9:00 & 10:45 AM


Songs for the Weekend

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Anxious? Excited? Joyful? No matter how you are feeling right now, you can praise God for who He is. Take some time this week to listen and sing along with these songs for the weekend at Gateway.

CR9

Only King Forever - Elevation Worship
God Is Able - Hillsong
More - Red Rocks Worship
It Is Well
Your Glory/Nothing But The Blood - All Sons & Daughters

N Main

How Great You Are - Vertical Worship
Death Was Arrested - Red Rocks Worship
Lamb of God - Vertical Worship
With Everything - Hillsong

Check out all of the songs we sing at Gateway on our Spotify Worship List.

We also have created a Beyond Sunday Spotify playlist with songs we commend to you for your enjoyment beyond Sunday. Check it out!

Legacy of Faith Q&A

Did God Call Abram At Ur Or Haran?

The story of Abraham is unpacked by reading many verses found all over Scripture. In other words, the Book of Genesis, where we first meet Abraham, reveals only part of the narrative. In the Book of Acts, we are told –

And the high priest said, “Are these things so?” 2 And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.’ 4 Then he went out from the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran. And after his father died, God removed him from there into this land in which you are now living. 5 Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot's length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him, though he had no child. (Acts 7:1-5)

According to Scripture, then, God called Abraham “before he lived in Haran” – that is when he was living in Ur. (Genesis 15:7)

Why Did You Say That Abraham Had Two Children?

Abraham had more than two children, but the two key actors in the Bible record are Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac was the son of the promise (Genesis 12: 1-3; Genesis 21:12). Ishmael, on the other hand, was the son born out of Abraham and Sarah’s plan to have an heir outside God’s promise (Genesis 16:1-15). An amplified discussion of the difference between the two sons is found in Galatians 4:21-31.

As for Abraham’s other children (Genesis 15:1-6), they are less significant in God’s big picture plan. That does not mean they are less valuable or less loved by God. When I said Abraham had two children, I should have clarified that he had two sons who played the major roles in the story of Abraham.