Resolved

January 2nd, 2015 Comments off

by Dave Anderson

Happy New Year Crossroads!

Some hear the words, “New Year’s Resolution” and feel their inner conquistador surface: motivated to shed weight, read books, reconnect with old friends, spend more time with their kids, or pursue a degree. One year, I felt compelled to swim before work. Yearning for silence and coffee scent, I was greeted instead by chlorine fumes and a natatorium filled with ice-cold water, while a gaggle of wildly peppy, eighty-year-old ladies danced water-aerobic style to booming Beach Boys music. Not all of us can rock at 6am to “Surfin’ Safari”, so the octogenarian Surfer Girls outlasted me. I eventually returned to sipping my morning dark roast and reading my Bible in silence. Whether you enter the New Year excited about making New Year’s resolutions (or cynical about them), consider the following:

America’s great theologian, Jonathan Edwards (by the time he was 18 or 19) wrote 70 ‘resolutions’, by which he would live his life. Edwards began each with the word, “resolved…” and he reviewed these resolutions weekly to refresh his memory. Edwards began his Resolutions with what he desired to be the driving force of his life — a consuming passion to pursue the glory of God. “Resolved: that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory and to my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now or never so many myriads of ages hence. Resolved: to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved: to do this whatever difficulties I meet with, how ever so many and how ever so great.” There are many good resolutions—books, family time, weight loss, reconnecting with friends and family. But listen to the Message’s paraphrase of 1Tim. 4:8, “Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever.”

By all means, reconnect with old and new friends over a swig of coffee before each service. But in addition to reconnecting with old and new friends, please join me in resolving to make your spiritual formation and training a high priority in 2015.

Sunday mornings – research shows that the average attendance for church members in America is about 2.5 Sundays per month. Please “resolve” to make Sunday worship, relational connection to the body of Christ and spiritual renewal a high personal priority.

Kingdom Groups – KG will re-start in January. If you’ve not joined one (or pulled out for a season) please “resolve” to connect with a Kingdom Group meeting near you. Click here to find the times and locations of our groups.

Personal Spiritual Discipline – the turning of the calendar is a great time to pursue a new discipline or re-boot on an old one. Whether cultivating a habit of prayer, journaling, Scripture memorization, or daily Bible reading (click here for a very manageable 2-year Bible reading plan), “resolve” to invest daily time in your walk with God.

ACE Classes – Adult Christian Education will resume this this semester. Please “resolve” to start 2015 with spiritual ‘retooling’ that will be offered. Check announcements and Friday emails for more details.

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Making the Most of this Season

December 5th, 2014 Comments off

by Dave Anderson

I prefer sharing my faith when our family has been conflict-free for 3 months; when I’ve memorized an Old Testament book (in Hebrew); when my questions have been tidily resolved and wrestlings put to rest; when I’ve enjoyed 2 weeks of spiritual mountaintops; and when (while still fully dressed in blue spandex suit, red cape and boots) someone directly asks, “Dave, could you take a few hours, open your Bible, and explain why I feel keenly aware of God’s judgment against my sin and how the grace of God in Jesus is my only hope for this life and the next?” Waiting for the convergence of felt-strength and ideal-moments is attractive. But it’s fiction. Pure fantasy.

The truth is I am a sinful man wanting to follow Jesus in less-than-perfect moments: with real neighbors and short discussions, seldom on ‘religious’ topics. My moments of strength are fleeting. Direct questions are few. God doesn’t signal me with neon signs. If we’re not careful we can subtly believe that the ‘greater things’ Jesus promised can’t happen in real life: sales calls, washing dishes, doctors appointments, grocery shopping, and brief chats with neighbors. But look at Jesus. He takes an ordinary wedding in Cana, a small step, and captures the awe of the partiers. In Jesus’ capable hands, our holiday gatherings pack amazing potential—because this same Jesus is still creating stirs about Himself in the ordinarily events of our lives. What might Jesus do this holiday season—if you invited a real neighbor over for a simple dessert in your ordinary home—and asked Jesus to draw your neighbor nearer to Him through you?

But what if I feel spiritually ‘dry’? Isn’t it better to wait until I feel spiritually stronger before taking on this risk? Isn’t it more honest to resolve all my questions first? Isn’t it more genuine if I can look them in the eye and say ‘because of Jesus we never argue?’ Isn’t it a lie to tell others of a Jesus whose impact in my life seems slow? Here’s the irony. Our faith in Jesus deepens through sharing. Philippians 1:6 says, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” By sharing, Jesus re-ignites our awareness of His grace.  Did you ever notice how telling a friend about a great movie, restaurant, or person, increases your affection?  If we wait for the convergence of felt strength, ideal moments, spiritual mountaintops and triumphant track records, we’ll shrivel up.

Do you want a full heart this Christmas? Resolve to share your faith this season for their good and yours. We are surrounded by thousands who are drowning in the darkness of rebellion to God. As we cast light into others’ darkness, God sends shafts of light into our own clouds. Bring a spiritually exploring friend into your home (or to an event). Whether a Christmas party, football game, or Pre-Christmas Party (shameless plug for Jingle Bells & Jazz, Saturday night at 6pm), a small invitation might become a spiritual milestone in two lives: theirs and yours.

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A Response to Fear & Uncertainty

November 21st, 2014 Comments off
by Dave Anderson & Dan Song

With the grand jury decision of Officer Darren Wilson coming any day now, there is an overwhelming sense of fear that grips this city as well as our own congregation. The fear of protests and violence in Ferguson that could potentially spill into other neighboring cities and counties. The fear that St. Louis will never find healing and reconciliation when it comes to racism and discrimination.

In the midst of those fears and uncertainties, what are we to do as Christians? We can’t be idle and do nothing. We suggest a few ways to be active, to be salt and light, in a city that is experiencing deep pain and brokenness:

  1. Pray for justice and peace, i.e. for Jesus to redeem the pain and ache, so all people (black, white, latino, asian) see our shared need for a Redeemer who alone can right wrongs, heal, redeem.
  2. If you are passionate about issues of poverty, race and feel led to bring healing and hope (in addition to praying) please consider opening your home to a child in the MRH school district who needs a temporary home NOW. Please email Pastor Dave (david@crossroadspres.com) for more info.
  3. Commitment to see our campuses reflect the diversity of the body of Christ and eagerness to remove all things that marginalize people of other ethnicities.
  4. Renewed commitment to befriending our neighbors i.e. think globally, but act locally
  5. Seek ways to serve people outside your tribe i.e. other races in Christ’s name i.e. whether that’s through tutoring, rides to youth group, hospitality in your home, serving via foster care, Joe’s Place, or adoption.
  6. Listen –  if there’s one thread of wisdom that has continued to be woven through this tragic event is that we need to learn to listen to one another from all cultures, including minority ones. Mike Higgins, a black pastor in our presbytery who we love and respect, has experienced discrimination and racism first hand. Read and listen to Mike Higgins’ heart as he shares with his congregation in the Shaw neighborhood his reflection on the days ahead:

“Sisters and Brothers, we all know that a decision on the possible indictment in the Michael Brown Case is due to be released very soon. I know that there is a growing sense of concern for what could happen in the Ferguson community and our own Shaw Neighborhood, whether or not there is an indictment. I am praying early and daily for peace and calm. I expect that a lack of indictment will bring more protests. But I ask the Lord every day to sovereignly govern ALL THINGS by His mighty power. I pray for our church family, for our neighborhood and for our sister churches and friends. I pray for those who protest as well as for those who do not. I pray for Officer Darren Wilson and his family, for St. Louis city and county PD and for their families. I pray for Michael Brown’s family and the families of all who mourn loved ones lost. If people feel they must protest, I pray that they will be seen and heard; I also pray that they will have leaders in the group who refuse to allow peaceful protests to be marred by unnecessary criminal actions.
I pray that people will show love for each other, even people that oppose each other. I pray that people will keep watch over their comments, and their Facebook posts.

Ariana-prayingIn times like this, I pull out my theme scripture from Philippians 1:27, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Here is my conduct lately:
~ Rising up early to pray and read scriptures like Psalm 91. Soldiers love to read about God’s protection during times of concern, fear, and high anxiety…such as the city’s racial tension and our church heading towards a transition.
~ Meditating on the fact that I am not Jesus, but simply called by Him to love my neighbor; even when my neighbor may be hurt and angry about injustice, real or perceived.
~ Sitting still; just to see if I can do it. No phone, no email, no text. Not easy, but I am learning to not be afraid of “dead space” for sake of practicing complete dependance on God.
~ Repenting of my own fear and anger.
~ Listening (really listening, with love) to those who don’t agree with me, or those who openly oppose me—they are still my neighbor.
~ Re-visiting the fact that I am loved by Jesus, even when I blow it.
~ Wanting God’s truth to speak louder than my opinion; so I subject my opinion to his truth.
~ Remembering that I don’t have the right to presume that I’m right about everything.

South City Church, please know this; Whatever happens, Jesus happens more.
Mike”


You can find the original post
HERE.

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Walls and Onramps

November 7th, 2014 Comments off

by Dave Anderson

If a wise, insightful and sympathetic friend were to offer you 4 points of gentle critique and 4 points of deep affirmation would you want them? NYT columnist, David Brooks sees 4-walls that hinder us as Christian’s from loving our neighbors well i.e. keep us stuck, and 4 on-ramps that enable us to love neighbors well. If we hear Brooks with an open heart, these are helpful!

I want you to know I am for you and I love you.
So the first wall is the wall of withdrawal. Many of my Christian friends perceive a growing difference between the secular world and the Christian world, the difference between Jay-Z and Hillsong and the Jesus culture. The difference between Quentin Tarantino and Eugene Peterson, Richard Dawkins and Henri Nouwen, Columbia College and Calvin College. Many of my friends fear they are being written out of polite society because they believe in the Gospel. With that comes a psychology of an embattled minority. With that comes a defensiveness and a withdrawal, a fear, and a withdrawal into sub-culture. I certainly have friends who live in a sub-culture, work in a sub-culture, Christian in the sub-culture, socialize in the subculture, and if you live in a broader society, that is governed by the spiritual longing that doesn’t know how to express itself, is withdrawing into your own separate sub-culture really the right thing to do.
I think that’s being governed by fear and not love.

The second wall is the wall of condescension. In a lot of the walls come from a unique psychology which I have observed. Which is a weird mixture of – this is going to sound a little rude – in the Christian culture a mixture of wanton intellectual inferiority complex combined with a spiritual superiority complex. And the second wall is the wall of condescension. There is sometimes a belief among some people that those who have been with Christ a long time can adopt a paternal attitude toward those who have not been with Christ, or who have come to Christ recently. And this is a caring condescension. It’s people wanting to help. But it’s also a form of pride to know the route God has chosen for each of us. It’s a form of closed-mindedness. It’s off-putting. People who have come to Christ recently may not at all, may not have lived in the church for very long. But they have lived, and read and thought and they haven’t come back from these experiences with empty hands and they have as much to teach as to learn.

The third wall is the wall of bad listening. In my experience, I have had amazing diversity of quality of listening among my friends who are in the Christian community. Some are amazing. Ask great questions. Allow each individual experience to express itself and be known.
But I have certainly known others who have come to each conversation armed with a set of maxims, teaching and truths and may apply off-the-shelf truths and maxims without learning the uniqueness of each situation. Emerson said that souls are not saved in bundles and yet sometimes there is great haste to apply these ready-made maxims regardless of circumstances.

The fourth wall is the wall of invasive care. The heart is a mysterious garden filled with delicate growths, privacy is always to be respected because trampling on that garden without permission destroys the growth. And again, out of care, I feel that sometimes no privacy, no boundaries can be respected. And the final wall is this wall of intellectual insecurity. I teach at Yale. We are not nice to each other. We brutally attack each other. We are not good Christians. But out of that comes a hardened appreciation of truth. And sometimes we are brutal to each other because we are brutal in pursuit of the truth and we don’t take…we take our ideas very seriously and we’re sometimes willing to hurt each other because the ideas are so serious. Sometimes we veer on the side of just nastiness. Sometimes in my experience in Bible Study, the desire to be nice, the desire to be affirming, softens all discussion. So the jewel of truth is not hardened. Vague words and ethereal words are tolerated because nobody wants to be too offensive.

And so these are some of the walls. Now let me turn to the happier ramps that I have found, just to encourage what I’ve seen. The ramps all have a common root too, and Mike Gerson had mentioned it today in the Francis discussion. There’s something just awesome about seeing somebody stand up and imitate and live the non-negotiable truth of Jesus Christ. People who just live that life are just awesome, and I don’t care what you believe.

So the first ramp is simply the ramp of the Christian example. I was writing a column about how hard it is to teach morality in a classroom, and I got an email from a guy named Dave Jolly, who’s a veterinarian out in Oregon. He wrote to me, “The heart cannot be taught in a classroom, or by a luncheon speaker. And then he wrote “What a wise person says is the least of what they give. It is in the little habits of life, the daily acts of kindness and courage that were handed down to that person by a mentor a generation ago which were handed down by a mentor before – and stretched back into the dimness of time. And then he said “Never forget. The message is the person.”And those two sentences leapt out at me and have stayed with me. “What a wise person says is the least of what they give. The message is the person.”Those two phrases explain Francis by the way. And so one of Christianity’s greatest gifts to the culture is simply the example of Christian joy lived out in a natural way. I have a friend named Father Ray. Monsignor Ray of a charismatic Catholic Church in Anacostia, and when you see him hold up the Eucharist with a look of pure joy, nothing could be more persuasive than that.

The second ramp is the ramp of spiritual consciousness. We have tried in my business to cure poverty by throwing money at it. We’ve spent trillions of dollars trying to do that. But poverty is rarely about just money. It’s part money but not just money. It’s about behavior, character, self-control, security. It’s about a child having a brain not stressed with fear so they can perceive the world accurately. Who can form their secure attachments so they can attach to teachers, who can reform behavior because people have talked to them in the language or morality and the language of “ought.”In education, we rearrange all the boxes, and we have charter schools, vouchers, but education is elementarily about the love between a teacher and a student. And if you mention the word, “love” at a Congressional hearing they look at you like you’re Oprah. But the Christian community, the religious community speaks naturally in that language and gets to the core of things. And if you want to learn the truth about bad attachments, bad love, I found only the Christian community can give you the language to understand those problems. And it seems to me the challenge of Christian philanthropy with this spiritual mentality is taking money and using it to nurture spirit, which is a difficult task for philanthropy. So that spiritual consciousness is just a great gift to the country.

The third is the language of good and evil. This language has become absent in the secular world. The word “sin” is now mostly used in reference to desserts. But if you want to talk about the deepest affairs of the heart, only words like sin, soul, redemption really work. And if you don’t have those words you’re losing the tools.People don’t change because they decide to be better. If that happened, then New Year’s Resolutions would work. People decide to change because they elevate their loves. And as St. Augustine said, “You become what you love.”But if you can’t talk about the struggle of sin, if you can’t talk about why some loves are higher than other loves, and ordered versus disordered loves, you don’t have the moral vocabulary, the mental toolkit to think about how to be better. And the Christian tradition gives us that.

The fourth ramp is inverse logic. Secular society works by an economic logic. Effort leads to reward. Input leads to output. Investment leads to profit. You worship a Savior who teaches an inverse logic, which is a moral logic, not an economic one. You have to give to receive. You have to surrender to something outside yourself to gain the strength within yourself. You have to conquer your desires to get what you crave. Success leads to the greatest failure which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success which is humility and learning. In order to fulfill yourself you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself you have to lose yourself. That inverse logic is the moral logic. There is no other. And that’s also a great gift. And so when I’m talking about ramps, what I am really talking about is ways of seeing, ways of perceiving vantage points. It seems to me the secular world has one vantage point, which is an economic profit-and-loss vantage point. Built around happiness. The Christian world, the Jewish world, the Muslim world has a different vantage point, a totally different mentality, a counter-culture that compliments and completes the shallower one.Humility is the core of it. Humility is a form of awareness. It’s not really a virtue, it’s a form of awareness. My favorite definition…some people think humility is thinking lowly of yourself. My favorite definition is “Humility is self-awareness from the context of other-centeredness.” Humility is having an accurate assessment of your own nature. It’s having an accurate assessment of your own place in the cosmos. It’s an awareness that you’re an underdog in the struggle against your own sins. It’s an awareness that individual talents are inadequate to the tasks that have been assigned to you. It’s understanding yourself in the context of a greater divine order. Knowing you’re not the center of the universe and you need redemptive assistance to complete your tasks.

That all runs counter to Facebook by the way.

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Session Letter

October 24th, 2014 Comments off
by Mark Peck

Brothers and Sisters,


Greetings from the Session! You know us to be a collection of sinful saints from different
places and circumstances, each with a unique story, called by God to serve him together
with joy, bearing with one another in love, repenting and forgiving, sharing a bond forged
by the Holy Spirit through common experiences and shared trials, offering our gifts for
the good of all; and in these respects we are a microcosm of the church itself. Though you
may not know each of us personally, hopefully you know (and are known by) a few among
us well, as we worship together, share our lives in fellowship and service, care for one
another, and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Year after year, and
season upon season, regardless of particular circumstances, we strive to be true to our
calling in these and myriad other ways.

With the end of the year quickly approaching, it’s timely (and perhaps a bit overdue) to
share our sense of what God is doing in the church, as well as where he’s leading us. Back
in February of this year, when we wrote to you about Pastor Andrew’s departure and our
approach to transition, we described an initial structure that would serve the church well,
while allowing time for reflection, prayer, and deliberation about the future. Our priorities
were to ensure the Vander Maas family was sent off well, to come alongside Dan and Dave
as they assumed their new roles, and to support them in assembling a new team that would
lead the church forward. We also wanted to allow enough time for the congregation to take
in the change, to gain encouragement about where God is leading us as a church, and to
share with us your questions, concerns, thoughts and hopes.


Since that time, we’ve observed a number of encouraging signs. First, the high-level
structure depicted in the attached slide has changed from conceptual to actual:
• We’ve strengthened our administrative and office support, adding Kristy Lowder,
Ethan Mullis, and Michaela McClendon.
• We’ve added to our shared staff resources, as Dean Hollenbeck continues to lead
Next Generation (NG) Ministry, and Jenilyn Swett is now leading both Women’s
Ministry and Adult Christian Education (ACE). Dean and Jenilyn report to both Dan
and Dave jointly, and all four have benefited from working more closely together
across ministries and sites.
• Dan and Dave collaborate weekly, and throughout each week, on leadership
development, sermon and ministry planning, pulpit sharing, and they’re blessed by
each other’s sharpening and camaraderie.
• The Session and Diaconate meet together regularly, and we’ve refined our
leadership deliberations and shared ownership between the two bodies.
In addition, the roles of most of Crossroad’s extended leadership team have been modified:
• Jenilyn did a great job of handing off her duties as Office Manager, freeing her to
focus on ACE and Women’s Ministry.
• As our new Office Manager, Kristy handles all duties and events that serve
Crossroads as a multi-site church (retreat, bulletins, finance liaison, joint services,
picnics, etc.).
• Ethan and Michaela serve as Administrative Assistants for the West and East
Campus Pastors respectively. – Dean continues to serve as NG Pastor for both
campuses, and in order to focus his teaching gifts on equipping our youth and
families, we’ve asked him to reduce his involvement with AWANA.
• Dan and Dave have increased their preaching load from twice per month to 3x
per month, and they now co-lead staff and Session meetings as well as leadership
training and development.
• Grace Burkey and Kristin Tanner continue to serve us with excellence as Directors
of Worship Arts at their respective sites.
Finally, we’ve witnessed specific events where God has confirmed our vision:
• The West site is preparing to occupy a new permanent facility that will provide a
continuous presence in the community and enable growth in all kinds of ministry.
• We enjoyed a great fall retreat with strong attendance from both sites, which has
become an annual picture of our unity as one church; we’ve also benefited from
joint worship in Maplewood over the past two weeks.
• After taking a breather in the summer, Kingdom Groups (both existing and newly-
formed) restarted in the fall with a sharpened focus on site-specific fellowship and
shared service.
• God continues to provide, through the faithful giving of the congregation, the
financial resources needed to fulfill all that we believe he’s calling us to do.

As a Session, and as individual elders, we remain convinced that God is leading Crossroads
to continue as one church under the co-pastor model, in which Dan and Dave partner
together in leadership of their respective campuses with shared resources and a single
Session and Diaconate. We’re eager to see them grow, both individually and together, and
we’re committed to supporting them in every way we can. Both men were already fully
equipped for the role before they started; however, it’s been a pleasure to see them express
their gifts in fresh ways under the new structure, to hear God speak to us through their
preaching each week, and to see him at work in and through them as they have exercised
their office over the past nine months. Thus, the ruling elders have communicated to
both men our sincere thanks for their service and our ongoing commitment to them as
joint Pastors. They, in turn, have affirmed their desire to remain at Crossroads in their
new roles, and we invite you to join us in embracing what will now be a permanent
arrangement.


As always, we’re eager to hear from you and we look forward to many conversations,
both informally and formally, as we go forward together. Please let us know how we can
be praying and caring for you, and know that we love you all with the love God has shed
abroad in our hearts.


Your brothers and fellow laborers in Christ,
The Session of Crossroads Presbyterian Fellowship
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Growing Together – the Next Gen Playbook

October 17th, 2014 Comments off

by Dean Hollenbeck

Football legend, Bill Walsh was known for coaching a juggernaut of an offense in the San Francisco 49ers. During his tenure, he led the team to six division titles, three NFC Championships, and three Super Bowls. Part of his success can be attributed to the brilliant idea of scripting the first 25 plays of every game. Coach Walsh focused on the first 25 plays, so that different strengths and weaknesses could be exposed. This strategy allowed the team to prepare for the best possible outcome for the remainder of the game.

Similarly, the ministry staff team at Crossroads has been working on a type of scripted playbook for each area of ministry. And although no one would confuse it with Walsh’s “West Coast Offense”, it is a curriculum road map for Christian Education and discipleship. It is our hope that we can intentionally design a curriculum plan for every person and age group.

Our Next Gen team has recently focused on an overarching curriculum plan for the Crossroads Crew, our youth group. Crossroads Crew has three distinct areas of discipleship: 1) Sunday school, 2) Sunday Night Live, and 3) Outside Events.

For Sunday school in Maplewood we plan to continue to offer a separate Middle school and High school classrooms. Each class will center its teaching on the Bible, with alternating instruction from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Students will discover that over a period of three year, a heavier emphasis is placed on the Pentateuch, the Gospels, and Romans.

Sunday Night Live (SNL) events are shaped much differently than Sunday school. SNL nights will offer a large group talk and discussion on relevant cultural topics and Christian literature. In the fall, SNL topics will primarily focus on developing a relationship with Christ. In the spring, SNL will focus on living as a believer in Christ.

Outside Events can often be fun, but they also play an important role in discipleship and give our youth an opportunity to care for others. Some of our events are overnight retreats at a Christian camp. Others may include partnering with New City to care for a widow or a refugee family.

No matter what event is planned for the Crew, it is the desire of the ministry staff and leaders of the Crew to expose each student to Christ. We want to partner with ministry that takes place at home and the Holy Spirit to prepare the students for the remainder of the game.

If you would like more details about Sunday school curriculum or other Crew activities, please email Dean.

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Growing Together: What’s new with ACE at Crossroads

October 8th, 2014 Comments off

By Jenilyn Swett

Something that always strikes me when I spend time with the kids in our Crossroads family is how quickly they grow! It feels like so much changes from just one month to the next – one has started crawling, another walking; one is riding a bike now, another is practicing their driving; one is just beginning to form full sentences, another is mastering their “L’s,” and still another is developing a witty sense of humor. Growth is relatively quick and often evident to all in childhood. In adulthood, though, growth is often more subtle and slow – the graying of hair, the deepening of wrinkles – and much of our growth happens internally, almost invisibly. But one thing remains true: we never stop growing.

Growth and learning are themes that we see frequently in Scripture – followers of Christ of all ages are encouraged to grow in maturity, discernment, wisdom, and understanding. In his letter to the church at Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote, “it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent…” (1:9-10). I know I speak for all of Crossroads’ leadership when I say that this is our prayer for our church body as well. There are several avenues at Crossroads through which love, knowledge, and discernment can grow, and one of the key avenues for our adults is Adult Christian Education (ACE).

ACE has been happening in various ways at both of our sites throughout the years, and we are currently redoubling our efforts to help the people of Crossroads see and experience the value and importance of growth and learning through ACE classes. We’re also introducing some new aspects of ACE, including a Core Curriculum that reflects the content we believe is vital to equip the people of Crossroads for life, relationships, work, and ministry. At Crossroads, ACE is not just meant for the academically-minded, nor is it just a nice cherry on the top of other church programming — it is a significant and unique means through which learning and growth happen.

What is ACE for?

  • ACE exists to help the people of Crossroads find nourishment in the Gospel, enabling them to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ, whose theology guides their lives, work, and relationships with God and one another.
  • By learning together in community, ACE equips the people of Crossroads with both the cognitive knowledge and relational connection necessary to take ACE lessons out of the classroom and into daily life.

How does this happen?

  • We have designed a NEW “ACE Core Curriculum,” consisting of a number of ACE Core Classes and Electives that will be offered at Crossroads in a 2-3 year rotation. A certain set of these classes will be strongly recommended for all Crossroads members to take over time — these are classes that cover many of the things that are basic and essential to growing as disciples of Jesus: The Biblical Storyline, Theology of Work, Relationships, Counseling 101, etc. Some classes will be required for those who are currently in or are preparing for various leadership positions at Crossroads.
  • ACE classes are designed to offer meaningful, relevant, biblically-based content that engage the “whole learner” – their head, their heart, and their hands. We are, after all, called to love God with our whole selves (Deuteronomy 6:5)!
  • While ACE classes may not offer ALL the answers, they provide helpful direction, model the means of approaching big topics and questions, and offer additional resources for further study and engagement.

What’s happening with ACE currently?

  • In Maplewood, we are nearing the end of “Gospel SexEd,” a class on sexuality and Christianity. Beginning next Sunday (October 19) we’ll turn our attention to “Counseling 101,” in which we’ll look at the role and value of counseling (both formal and informal) and learn more about various common psychological issues. ACE in Maplewood meets at the same time as Children’s/Youth Sunday School – 9:15am on Sundays.
  • In Olivette, we will be offering a NEW Saturday morning ACE event taking place on November 15, called “Our Worshipping World.” We’ll spend the morning together learning about various world religions and how our Christian worldview enables us to engage with those of different faiths. Nursery and children’s programming will be provided. Stay tuned for more details and registration!

Want to know more?

  • We’ll be sharing a Ministry Spotlight on ACE during this Sunday’s Joint Service
  • Contact Jenilyn Swett, Director of Women’s Ministry and Adult Education, at Jenilyn@crossroadspres.com
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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

October 3rd, 2014 Comments off

by Jenilyn Swett

Looking Back – This past weekend, nearly 150 Crossroads folks hit the road to spend all or part of the weekend at Camp Mihaska in Bourbon, Missouri. This year’s All-Church Retreat included scavenger hunting, fishing, ping-pong playing, swimming, hiking, square dancing, marshmallow roasting, late-night ramen eating, and yes, a good ol’ fashioned camp prank or two. We also had the chance to hear from Rev. Dr. Hugh Barlett of Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, who helped us think about living under pressure – and how God’s grace and the gift of community can sustain us in the midst of pressured times.

Those of us who retreated together may have sacrificed the comforts of home and our own beds, but gained so much in the time we spent enjoying one another’s company and God’s beautiful creation! The weather could not have been more beautiful, and in this lovely setting we all had the chance to slow down a bit, to have longer conversations, and to deepen friendships through laughing, playing, and eating together. It was such a delightful time for our church family to connect across generations, stages of life, and across sites, as well as to get to know some of the newest faces attending Crossroads this fall.

Looking Ahead – We may have to wait another 51 weeks (or so) for more square dancing and late-night ramen eating around the campfire, but we’ve got a lot to look forward to with these upcoming opportunities for our church family to connect and grow:

  • Joint Services on October 12 and 19 – With another theater production taking place at the Olivette Community Center, we’ll have the opportunity to worship together at the Maplewood site on two Sundays this month. Children’s Sunday School and Adult Ed are opening to everyone at 9:15am, with service to follow at 10:30.
  • Membership & Crossroads Intro Class on October 26 – If you are new(er) to Crossroads, this is a great chance for you to learn more about who we are as a church and get to know others who are new to Crossroads. Taking this class is also a necessary step if you are interested in becoming a member of Crossroads. Class will be held 3-6pm with dinner following, and child care is provided. RSVP to office@crossroadspres.com
  • Communicants Class on November 1 – This special class is for our children who are interested in taking Communion or would just like to learn more about it. Join Pastor Dean to not only learn about the meaning of the Lord’s Supper but also how to talk about your faith and the difference Jesus makes in your life. Class will be held 9-11am at the Maplewood site, and breakfast is included! RSVP to dean@crossroadspres.com

Read on in the Friday E-mail and watch your inbox for other important reminders of upcoming site-specific events.

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Habits & Spiritual Formation

September 12th, 2014 1 comment

by Dave Anderson

I’m going out on a limb. I’ll guess your Monday morning and Sunday morning habits are fairly predictable.

Last year marked the 25th year anniversary of International best-selling personal management classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Brigham Young University MBA professor Stephen R. Covey. To date, 7 Habits has sold over 25 million copies in 40 languages, and spawned a cottage industry of “7 Habits” sequels: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, 7 Habits of Happy Kids, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families, even 7 Habits of Highly Effective Marriages. General Joshua Chamberlain’s 2nd Maine division overcame enormous odds to win the Battle of Little Round Top, and was asked how his division repelled superior Confederate foes. Chamberlain observed, ‘no man is anything other in battle, but what his daily habits have prepared him to be.’ I often wish spiritual formation were automatic, but our habits shape us.

For centuries theologians taught us that habitual participation in Scripture, prayer, sacrament, and worship form us. Like diet, rest and exercise. these are the ordinary habits God’s Spirit imperceptibly uses.  If we only participate when we feel a “surge of inspiration” (rather than by “default-mode” habit) we won’t grow much.

Years ago a Christian man went through Church Membership, and ended our class by informing me, “We love this church, and plan to become members. But FYI, you won’t see us most Sundays.” He added, “most weekends, we take our kids out of town to dog shows.”  After several discussions, I mustered courage to ask him a hard question, “does it ever bother you that you spend many thousands of dollars to send your kids to an elite Christian academy, yet your kids see that whenever God and your dog have a schedule conflict, your dog usually wins?” Whether it’s dog shows or soccer, our culture no longer respects Sunday as sacred space. Christians will face increasing pressure to surrender “spiritual formation” habits to kids activities.

Yes, it’s true, habits can be abused. Even eating, working, sleeping can be abused by avoidance (or excess). Some of us grew up in families that were habitually hijacked by super-sized church activities, so the family seldom enjoyed ‘non-church’ time together. Others felt browbeaten by proud people who bragged about their perfectly disciplined routines. Of course, its even possible to beat yourself up by assuming God’s love for you is contingent on your rigid adherence to spiritual routines. These are horrible abuses of a good thing. But it is equally possible to over-react, and suffer because we assume God shapes us apart from spiritual habits.

To be honest, I feel more at home in the label “sinner saved by grace” than “highly effective person”. But I do want to know the Lord better and resemble Jesus more. And Gospel-based habits are necessary to growth.

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Becoming Women and Men of the Word

September 5th, 2014 Comments off

by Jenilyn Swett

Good news! Fall is here. At least according to Starbucks, who started selling the perennial favorite Pumpkin Spice Latte last week (the fact that it’s still hot enough to prefer an iced beverage over a hot one is, apparently, beside the point). Of course, school is also back in session, kids’ fall sports are back in swing, and NFL football kicked off last night (but let’s not talk about that game).

As the seasons change, I, for one, am celebrating the return of routine. I love the respite of summer, but at the end I’m ready to get back into the usual rhythms of life. At Crossroads, I’m particularly excited that this means getting back to Kingdom Group, ACE, and Women’s Bible Study. I recently had a few conversations with women in our church about friendships that had really made an impact on our lives. One of the themes I heard repeated over and over was that many of these friendships involved some sort of routine: meeting up weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly to drink tea, share life, and pray together. Just as God has ordered his created world with routines – the changing of seasons, the rising and setting of the sun, the rhythm of planting and harvest – we who are created in his image thrive on routine as well, even in the care and keeping of relationships.

So I welcome the return of routine. For the regular opportunities it brings for us as a church family to connect with each other, to grow in relationship with God and his people. Thinking specifically about Women’s Ministry at Crossroads, I am looking forward to September 17 and the return of weekly Women’s Bible Study. I love these times for women in our church and friends from the community share together, and I love them for at least three reasons:
1) We get to spend regular time in the Word of God, slowing down to closely study a passage and mine for gold, thinking about what these words meant when they were first written, and considering how the Holy Spirit would use them in our lives today.
2) We get to spend regular time TOGETHER in the Word of God, which means we notice and learn things we might not otherwise, we’re challenged to go a step beyond things we take for granted or passages we’ve heard so many times that we’ve become almost deaf to them, and we get to ask and answer questions that we might not if we were just studying alone.
3) We get to spend regular time together! A Bible Study group serves a different function than a Kingdom Group or a Book Club or just a group of friends, in that our primary purpose in being together is studying the Bible – but our weekly Bible studies still provide a wonderful chance for the women of Crossroads to connect with one another, to invite in friends who might be interested in learning about the Bible, and to enjoy the fellowship that comes from another routine “touchpoint.”

I hope and pray that many of our women will be able to commit to joining us for Women’s Bible Study this fall on Wednesday mornings or evenings (sign up here if you haven’t already!). Brothers, I’d ask for your help in encouraging and enabling the Crossroads women you care about to attend (believe it or not, you will benefit from the learning and fellowship they enjoy at Bible study!).

Mostly importantly though, I hope and pray that we at Crossroads would all be men and women of the Word, who delight to know, study, and share God’s Word as it lights our path. As you return to the routine of fall, look for ways to build Bible study into that routine – not only studying on your own (which is also vital), but studying in community as well by attending a Crossroads Women’s Bible study, studying together in your Kingdom Group, or simply committing to meet regularly with a few Crossroads brothers, sisters, or a spiritually curious friend to study the Word together.

Sign up for Women’s Bible Study here


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