Author Archives: Eric Reeves

Role of Our Deacons

Many of us have grown up in different churches that view the role of a deacon differently. Our understanding of what a deacon is and what a deacon does can be a bit fuzzy.

My hope is to clear up some of that fuzziness with this really brief overview – at least as far as The Town Church understands the role of deacon and how our own deacons function.

For a more in-depth yet still one-page treatment concerning our biblical foundation and theological approach to the role of deacon, see The Town Church’s Diaconate Philosophy. Our approach is highly informed by the helpful little book Helping without Hurting in Church Benevolence by Corbett and Finkert.

Role of the Deacon

The deacon works to extend practical mercy and compassion as an act of service.

We see this in the prototype of the office of deacon in Acts 6:1-7. We also see it in the meaning for the word often translated as “deacon” from the Greek word diakonos, meaning “servant.”

The deacon’s work is no less than demonstrating the Gospel (in which Jesus displayed the ultimate example of practical love) in tangible ways. It’s beautiful! Operating from within a formal position within the Church, deacons model what all believers are called to do – love others by serving in practical ways.

The Focus of the Deacon

Because the role of the deacon is modeling the Gospel in extending mercy, the focus of the deacon is primarily people, not tasks.

Our deacons are not given tasks like maintaining our building or handling all the finances. Rather, our deacons are given people to love, out of which will arise specific tasks that need to be done.

A Practical Example

In order to get a grasp on what our deacons actually do, consider an example of our theological underpinnings all the way to the practical outworking. (Note: even though our deacons can serve within happy situations (such as the adoption of a child), often brokenness pushes us to needing help, as in the following example.)

Because of The Fall, our perfect relationship with God, others, ourselves and all of creation have been broken. Our broken relationship with ourselves can be experienced as depression and self-loathing, or even pride and self-absorption. These in turn create many different symptoms, such as loneliness, workaholism, self-harm, or the inability to keep a job.

In this scenario, the ultimate goal of the deacon is to see God bring healing to the broken relationship with self. We desire to see the Gospel transform this area! This often means addressing the symptoms, but never means only addressing the symptoms.

So if a person is dealing with workaholism and is willing to be helped, our deacons will complete an intake process first in order to gain a depth of understanding concerning the hardship and any root issues.

Based on the intake, concrete and time-bound plans will be made. Prayer support will be maintained. Practical strategies will be constructed.

Strategies may be one-time or on-going and may include both coaching as well as more in-depth counseling. It may include helping to put together healthy boundaries around the use of time as well as help getting connected to Christian community. It may include help finding a different job as well as one-on-one mentoring centered on the Gospel and the life that flows from it.

We ALL Need Help

ALL of us experience broken relationship to God, others, ourselves and the rest of creation. It shows up in many different ways in ALL of our lives. And, ALL of us at times need help from other people to address it.

Please don’t assume leaning on other people is reserved for only a certain type or degree of hardship.

It will take humility and courage, but please choose vulnerability within Christian community. Share your needs.

By the grace of God to you and me, our deacons are here to help.

(To connect with our deacons, email us at [email protected])

Child Dedications

Father’s Day is coming up quickly! And for us as a church, that also means participating in the beautiful practice of child dedications.

At a child dedication, Christian parents come before the church with their child for at least three reasons:

  1. To publicly acknowledge the child is a gift from God and to ask for God’s help in raising the child.
  2. To publicly commit themselves to the task of raising their child within a Christian home by embodying the Gospel and praying God would save their child.
  3. To ask for help and prayers from the family of God in raising their child in a manner consistent with the Gospel.

When we trust Jesus to save us, God brings us into His own blood-purchased family. We are given new identities as sons and daughters of God solely due to His grace. God gives and we receive. We are wholly dependent on God’s saving work.

Child dedications rehearse this Gospel.

We receive God’s good gift of children and at the same time recognize our complete dependence upon Him to save them. As God has welcomed us into His family, we welcome our children into our church family.

Child dedications do NOT save any child – God alone does that if, when and how He chooses. And child dedications are not commanded in Scripture, even though throughout the Bible we do see a variety of ways families commit their children to the Lord. Rather, child dedications declare our commitment to raise the child in a church family that has been and is being made new by the grace of God.

If you follow Jesus and have children who have not been dedicated but would like to publicly acknowledge God’s gift and commit with us to raise the child in a manner embodying the Gospel by God’s grace, please let Liz know. 

We would love to celebrate and commit with you!

Jesus Will Shoulder the Government

Read Isaiah 9:6-7

Jesus was and is the fulfillment of the promised child and prophesied son. Now we see that this same Jesus bears the weight of the government. But which government, that of the church? The country? The world? Yes. To these and anything else in this age or the next.1

The burden of this tense earthly political climate rests on Jesus. And He doesn’t share the weight – His yoke is easy for us because He is on the other side of it. We have no need to panic when things heat up because Jesus reigns. “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever he will.” He is in control, and yet . . . we still feel the effects of a broken political system all around us.

In our study of Exodus, we are about to see how God leads the Israelites on a very roundabout path to the Promised Land. Looking back, map in hand, we might wonder why He chose such a circuitous and difficult route when the direct route – the route we would take – would be so much faster. But we will also see throughout Exodus that God was intentional with their journey. Like the loving father He is, He led His children in the path that would ultimately be best for them.

Could it be that God is working through His Son now in this very same way for our ultimate good? On the way to the new earth and final defeat of death, we are in the wilderness. The path we are walking includes political sparring, injustices, and even the atrocities of war. It can be a hard waiting game. In Luke, Jesus compares the spreading of the kingdom of God to yeast leavening loaves of bread. It takes time to rise. It doesn’t happen instantaneously.

But in our waiting, we do have an opportunity to respond. Just as the Israelites were called to repentance (over and over again), so are we. Repentance can seem like an odd reaction to accusations of racism or threat of national terrorism, yet it is the very solution that will get us out of the mess we are in.

Written by Emily Davis

Turn to the Son – Advent 2017

Read Isaiah 9:6-7

A son: an heir.  An heir to the human king, David.  A king who was adored, remembered fondly, a man after God’s own heart.  Also an heir to the heavenly King, The Great I AM: Eternal, father, creator, sustainer.

That human king was longed for, but flawed.  He was inherently a failure.  The divine King, though spotless, was largely ignored.

A chosen people, with lack of proper focus, had opted for nostalgia.  They longed for the powerful figure who would return them to earthly power.  They looked for one to rise up against their foes; one to enter triumphantly.  They sought a son—an heir—to take back the status that was rightfully theirs.

We are no different. Whereas their error was nostalgia, ours is complacency.  We have the Son, we have the Heir. He has come, and we look not towards Him but to our own works and idols to sustain us.  Even in our earthly pangs we look towards the temporal to provide respite.  We long for a spouse, a friend, a politician, a cherished item to lessen the effects of sin.

All the while we have the Heir to the throne of heaven who was given that we may have hope; that we may know peace and receive grace.

Given.

Not just a son, not just an heir, but one who was given.  The child was born, but the son was given.

Again, the people wanted a powerful king who would rise up to free them.  Their hearts—our hearts—are not enslaved by men; we are instead held captive by sin.  We need not a man to defeat our foes.  We will not be saved by the idols we put our hope in.  We do not need to rely on the sacrifice of animals for our sins to be forgiven.  Instead, we need (and have) a perfect sacrifice, given to cleanse our hearts and make us acceptable to the King.

Written by Jr McGrath

What Really Happened on that Not-So-Silent Night – Advent 2017

Read Isaiah 9:6-7

How do you know when the Christmas season has begun?

Answer: Not until you hear, sing, or hum, “Silent Night.” True? The sweet lullaby swells up in us all those warm feelings that signals the season has arrived.

Now, that’s not wrong, it’s just not close to the real story behind that not-so-silent-night.

On that holy night Jesus arrived on earth, the angels spilled out over heaven’s doorway and filled the night sky with shouts and cheers. Literally, Scripture said “they let loose.”

Perhaps they had been perched on the edge of heaven, waiting, too long. Long ago in the Garden of Eden God had promised a plan that would ransom man back from evil. Perhaps since then, rumors in the halls of heaven had whispered of a heavenly invasion, hell-bent on destroying evil in the world. And when it finally had begun, all heaven broke loose.

To us, it’s sweet baby Jesus lying in a manger. To them, it was God Himself, wrapped in flesh. Mystery personified in humanity. Come to wage war. Come to buy back a hijacked creation.

A baby’s cry from the manger signaled the beginning. A Child was born. A Son was given. And the metanarrative of history turned.

Sometimes wonder is in the mystery; other times wonder is in the understanding. The angels understood what was happening.

This Child—this Son—was God Himself. Deliverer of mankind. “Unto you is born this day, a Savior.”  How wonder-full.

This year, let’s reclaim that wonder for ourselves. Together for these days leading to Christmas, we will explore what the prophet Isaiah whispered on the pages of prophecy about this promised Messiah—about the Jesus that God revealed to him to be: Wonderful counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.

Pause and let the wonder in.  Explore it in your head. Let it comfort your heart. Bow to His majesty.

Written by Barb Peil

Young kids in worship: a helpful article

crop_16_02_21the_town_church_r141We have a multitude of children in our church which means our Children’s Ministry only has space for kids up through 4 years of age.

I’m a dad of three young kids (1, 3 and 5). Because of our space limitations, my five year old son, Elias, joins us in worship on Sunday mornings.

We mostly love this. He gets to be with our larger church family and his comments and questions later testify to him absorbing some of the content.

But this has also created a new dynamic for my wife and me (well, at least me). I have to admit that, at times, having Elias join us is really stressful, distracting and plain unenjoyable.

Is he being too loud? Why is the concept of whispering so hard for him to apply consistently? Ugh, he dropped his clipboard again! What do the people around me think of my parenting?!?

I would guess many of us can relate to some degree, whether or not you are a parent of young kids. We all still share the same space together.

I was forwarded this short article, written about these very tensions. I found it extremely helpful and encouraging. I hope you do as well.

Pick Up a Baby Bottle to Support Alpha Center

2016-ac-baby-bottle-poster

We love supporting Alpha Center, a local faith-based nonprofit that works to serve men and women facing an unplanned pregnancy, women who need support after an abortion decision, and young adults in need of STD screening. They are on the front lines in dealing with issues of the life of the unborn, our highly sexualized culture, relationships, and Jesus. They interact with young adults who have never gone through the doors of a church or campus ministry.

This Sunday we are kicking off an easy fundraising campaign to financially support them.

Just pick up a baby bottle at the front door, fill it with a check, cash, or coins and return it to the church building by November 27. Checks can be made out to Alpha Center.

All funds raised go directly to support Alpha Center’s work.