Posted by Chris on August 12, 2015 under Articles, Bulletin Articles, Front Page Posts, Resources
West-Ark Church of Christ
Elders’ Covenant of Conduct
- Shepherding and Spiritual Leadership
- The primary responsibility of the West-Ark elders is the spiritual shepherding of the flock.
- We are dedicated to the ministry of the word and prayer. (Acts 6; Hebrews 13:7; Titus 1:7)
- We are committed to being shepherds, mentors, and equippers (1 Pet. 5:1-7; Titus 2:11-15; Eph. 4:11-13)
- Our priority is to the spiritual health of the church family. This includes, but is not limited to: 1) consoling those in suffering, 2) teaching the faith, 3) promoting unity and facilitating reconciliation, 4) equipping the saints for ministry.
- To help all members grow as disciples we encourage the congregation as a whole to:
- Daily focus on Jesus and the cross.
- Nurture spiritual growth in order to transform all into God’s holiness.
- Increase in love and godly behavior.
- Recognize our spiritual gifts and use them to glorify God.
- Proclaim a biblical worldview that is obedient to Christ.
- In order to concentrate on shepherding, the elders will use task groups and staff (deacons, ministers, specially qualified members) to do all that is possible involving administration, church management, and leadership of specific ministries.
- With all assigned tasks goes the authority needed to accomplish the responsibility.
- We will work to establish trust in the assigned groups to make good decisions.
- Working Together as an Eldership
- We consider that every elder, regardless of how long he may have served, is of equal status as a shepherd of this church. There are no junior or senior elders.
- From the first day one serves as an elder, he has full co-responsibility with the other elders for the oversight of this church.
- We believe each elder is under the spiritual care and oversight of the other elders.
- When making a decision as a group we follow these principles:
- Everyone’s viewpoint will be heard.
- At least one more than half of the elders currently serving are required to be present in order to have a quorum for making decisions for the group.
- A majority vote of those present is considered to have approved or disapproved a motion.
- Anyone not present at a meeting is considered to have voted with the majority on any motion.
- A chairman is selected by rotation from among the administrative group of elders and serves a three month term.
- All elders agree to support the decision of the group as if the vote had been unanimous.
- We will not talk to anyone outside the meeting about how individuals voted on any issue.
- We will not communicate with others in any manner so as to represent our personal point of view as being that of the West-Ark elders. Exceptions are:
- When directed by the elders to communicate a message on their behalf.
- When repeating a decision of the elders which has previously been made public.
- Should a matter be decided by the group that an individual elder, for conscience’s sake, cannot support, he has three alternatives:
- He can ask for the matter to be reconsidered, providing him with more time to make his point clearer.
- He can request assistance from the elders via prayer, study, coaching, or even counseling in order to manage his own anxiety appropriately.
- He can resign from his role as an elder if the above does not remedy the situation and the majority decision is sustained.
- At all times confidentiality must be respected.
- This means there will be many things considered by the elders (and often ministers included) which are not to be discussed with others, including: our wives, family members, or closest friends.
III. Communication, Conflict, and Reconciliation
- We pledge to listen to any member who wishes to express his or her opinions about the life and ministry of the congregation.
- We encourage open dialogue among members, and in matters of conflict or disagreement we hold to the principles taught by Jesus in Matthew 18:15-20
- We will always encourage members to share their opinions directly with other elders, ministers, deacons, ministry leaders and other members. This is especially the case when the opinion/concern involves another elder, minister, deacon, ministry leader, or member.
- When members of the congregation express an opinion to an elder, the elder shall ask, “What would you like me to do with this information?”
- If the member desires to have a meeting with the elders, the time and date will arranged through the chairman of the elders for the month.
- If the member does not wish to appear in person, the elder shall ask the member for permission to use their name in reporting. If permission is not given, the elder shall say, “I’m sorry but I will not be able to repeat this to the eldership since we do not deal with anonymous letters or comments.”
- If permission is given, the elder shall report the information / opinion to the eldership and use the member’s name.
- Opinions may be shared in writing with the elders and shall be handled in the manner mentioned above only if the letter or statement is signed.
- Anonymous letters will not be read or discussed.
Posted by Chris on April 1, 2015 under Uncategorized
MONARCHY: THE RULE OF JESUS CHRIST IN THIS WORLD
A new Sunday AM sermon series begins this Sunday, April 5.
We have a King.
We do what is right and just as He sees it.
Our King is Jesus Christ.
Posted by Chris on March 10, 2015 under Uncategorized
Posted by Chris on December 1, 2014 under Front Page Posts, Sermons
When asked about pre-marital counseling, I pose one important question to engaged couples: “tell me about your first fight.” The only truly disappointing answer is “we haven’t ever had an argument.” Without the story of a first argument, (even if it’s over what type of pizza to order) it is hard to see how genuine the relationship and love is between a couple.
The absence of quarreling is not of itself the sign of a healthy marriage – more important is the story of how a couple recovered from the quarrel and became stronger. That reveals much that is good.
There is the assumption that the church should never quarrel or argue. This assumption can lead to anxiety when people even suppose there might be some sort of church argument.
• The avoidance of arguing and quarreling at church may be so strong that the church members suppress their true feelings or agree to anything even if they have real concerns.
• They may avoid doing anything that could potentially upset others (phantom worrying).
• They may gossip and murmur because they will not take responsibility for their opinions and feelings. They may regard gossip as a way to avoid controversy.
The church is much more than an organization with a policy manual to be interpreted strictly. The church is a living breathing organism. It is a whole with many parts. It is a physical group of real people with spiritual gifts existing in a spiritual connection with God, Christ, and one another.
This means that the church has resources that no other group has. The church has unique resources…
1. Jesus taught us how to manage quarrels and disagreement (Matt 18).
2. Acts 15 teaches us how a spiritually empowered church faced disagreements and how the church became stronger. It was their first fight. And they came through it stronger.
The absence of quarreling is not the sign of a healthy church…more important is how they have the argument and how they become greater because of it.
The Antioch Controversy — The nature of the argument
A group of disciples from Judea visited the predominantly Gentile church in Antioch. They teach the Gentiles that they must keep the covenants of Abraham and Moses, otherwise they will not be among the saved. They will not be included in God’s chosen people.
These Judean believers are Jews, but they follow Christ as Messiah. They are not prejudiced or opposed to the Gentiles being included in the church; they are only convicted that these Gentile converts ought to keep the covenants.
Yet Paul and Barnabas, who are also Jews and followers of Christ, disagree. They are convinced that a Gentile does not have to become a Jew to follow Christ. They have seen the Gentiles like Sergius Paulus and the pagans in Lystra become Christian. They consider it inappropriate and burdensome to force the Gentiles to accept the heritage and practices of Judaism in order to be saved.
So the matter is taken to the apostles in Jerusalem. Along the way they tell the Phoenicians and Samaritans about the Gentiles coming into the kingdom, and the news is met with rejoicing.
The Jerusalem Solution
At Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas meet with leaders in the Christian movement. Peter is there. There are Pharisee converts present. The purpose of this group is to discern what God’s will is on the matter. Both sides have a point to make…
Luke shows us how the decision is ultimately made and it involves three ways of determining what God intends . . .
Peter had Vision – Peter had a vision on the rooftop of Simon the Tanner’s home. God told him not to call anything that he had created unclean. Peter fussed with God a bit, but he eventually saw things in a new way. Later, Peter witnessed Cornelius, a Gentile, and his family receive the Holy Spirit.
Vision could be interpreted as revelation and insight. Have you ever seen someone show the ability to see a situation with great insight? They may do it often, or just once. We might consider that a spiritual gift.
It would be too simple for us to dismiss Peter’s vision as some sort of miraculous event that could never be duplicated. Whatever the means or method, vision and insight are valuable resources for discerning God’s will. But isn’t it dangerous to assume that anyone’s whim or stray thought might be vision? Consider that Peter’s miraculous revelation alone isn’t enough for the church to plot its course or make a difficult decision. If it were, Peter could just walk in and say “I had a vision” and that’s the trump card. This isn’t the type of fortune-telling that puts someone on a pedestal or gives them a position that cannot be argued. Peter’s revelation was in the first place personal. It communicated to him what he had to change. He offered it to the group for interpretation. Peter actually comes off as reluctant, maybe even dense, in the story of his rooftop revelation. Peter shares his experience (probably that of Acts 10) in which he witnessed the Holy Spirit’s approval of Cornelius and family.
Paul and Barnabas had Experience – They are witnesses as is Peter. They have been worshiping with the Gentiles. They know the cultures. They were set apart by the Holy Spirit to preach to the Gentiles. They’ve seen the change. They even told the Samaritans about it. They have seen the salvation of Gentiles, and they know that God approves of it without any prerequisite to keep the covenants of Abraham and Moses.
James interprets Scripture – This James may very well be the brother of Jesus Christ, a son of Joseph and Mary. He is also perhaps the author of the Epistle of James. But what matters here is that he’s a leader in the church in Jerusalem. His experience is different than that of Paul, Barnabas and Peter. He worships mostly with Jews who follow the Messiah. But James brings a third perspective into this – Scripture. He quotes from Amos 9 and Isa. 45. These Scriptures witness to the credibility of what Peter saw and what Paul and Barnabas experienced. James is saying that Scripture, the vision, and the experiences of Paul and Barnabas fit with God’s ancient intentions . . .
‘After this I will return,
and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen;
from its ruins I will rebuild it,
and I will set it up,
so that all other peoples may seek the Lord—
even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called.
Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things known from long ago.’
These three sources at work in the dialogue and prayers of the church will keep the church in step with the Holy Spirit and help it overcome the fear and discouragement of disagreement. And it preserves the church from treating traditions as idols. Instead, tradition informs them but they remain open to the new works of God.
They arrive at a solution that is good. Why is it good? Because it is God’s decision, not their own. They submitted themselves to God’s will and actions and not their own prejudice and understanding. And whatever part of the decision they do own, is meant to keep the church in step with the spirit.
Notice that when the letter from Jerusalem is sent out, the writers state that The Holy Spirit decided and then the leaders in Jerusalem follow in step. In 15:28, the language of the letter is: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements…”
Note: The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates 15:28 as “For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things:”
Sometimes the church has to learn how to have a GOOD argument in order to arrive at a GOOD decision – the Holy Spirit, Scripture and the humility of the church are important to both.
But before we conclude, let’s note that one quarrel within the church has been overcome; yet, there is another quarrel. This one concerns two of the individuals who stood side by side in Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas intend to return to the mission work and yet they have a disagreement over taking John Mark. Paul thinks that John Mark abandoned them. Barnabas wants to give him a second chance. The disagreement is so serious that they part company.
There’s a certain grief we ought to feel at the break-up of these friends. They went through so much together and accomplished great things in God’s name:
• Barnabas was the first to welcome Saul/Paul – he gave him a second chance. (So why couldn’t Paul give John Mark a second chance?)
• They faced down a wizard in Cyprus and saw the conversion of a high ranking official.
• They established churches in faraway places, to the ends of the earth.
• They were mistaken for Greek gods.
• They narrowly escaped being martyred for their message.
It’s a heartbreaking loss and it seems like they could have reached a compromise. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? We tend to side with Paul. He and Silas did have the blessing of the congregation. But then Paul should trust Barnabas’ instincts to give John Mark a second chance.
Luke doesn’t take sides. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t matter or it isn’t clear. We miss the point if we put the emphasis on which one was right. The message is that God’s covenant and his Holy Spirit is greater than our quarrels and our tendency to get it all wrong.
• In 1 Cor. 9:6, Paul mentions Barnabas. This is most likely a comment that comes after the dispute. It shows that Barnabas is still involved in the mission even if he and Paul have gone their separate ways.
• In 2 Timothy 4:11, Paul writes, “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you; for he is very useful in serving me.” Either John Mark has grown so that Paul now trusts him, or Paul is admitting that he misjudged John Mark. Either way, it teaches us that the apostles are faithful, not infallible. They trust in a God without error despite their ability to foul up. And God overcomes it all!
Agreement and Disagreement
1. Sometimes we are wrong – The Pharisee believers were wrong – not condemned – just wrong on this issue. Paul or Barnabas or both of them were wrong in their dispute with one another. But being wrong is not the unforgivable sin. Not if we are striving to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. God will show us the truth.
2. Some disagreements end in separation – Some end in unity. But the kingdom of God and the work of the Holy Spirit prevail. If we are going to have a GOOD decision, then we need a GOOD argument. It may be that Paul and Barnabas did not have a GOOD argument. But even in their case, the Spirit of God prevails.
3. We need to read Scripture with the Spirit. We have a lot of sympathy for James quoting Scripture to make a point. But even that alone would not have been enough. James says that Simon Peter’s insight is vital to making sense of what is written. We need to read the word of God as living and convicting and not as a dead and boring policy manual on how to set up an institutional franchise of “Church of Christ, Inc.”
When moments of controversy, quarrelling, or just simple questioning come upon us, let us turn first to the resources of the Holy Spirit that God has given us. Let’s seek the benefits of vision, experience and Scripture. Let’s dedicate ourselves to following the leadership of God and Christ and affirm our love for one another in the Spirit. Along the way it is okay for us to have some GOOD arguments. But let’s be humble as we seek the decision that the Holy Spirit has made. And when it is over, I am sure that the conclusion will seem GOOD to all of us.
Posted by Chris on October 20, 2014 under Front Page Announcements, Missions
UPDATE: 80% of GOAL REACHED
As of Nov. 12, the current total of gifts and pledges is $198,053. That is 80% of the budgeted amount. We are grateful for all who have given and all who have yet to give so that we might reach 100% of the goal.
2015 MISSIONS GOAL IS SET: $247,103
The mission committee has spent much time in prayer and conversation considering all the needs for current mission efforts. The next year, 2015, also presents special opportunities for growth in mission faithfulness.
The amount that we hope to raise in contribution and pledges is $247,103. If we reach the fundraising goal, then all of these works can be fully funded. This congregation has met the mission goals in the past with a spirit of dedication and joyful giving. Please be prayerful about the needs that have been submitted this year. These are momentary opportunities that will make an eternal difference.
Our Mission Weekend is Oct. 25-26, 2014
Our Mission Giving Sunday is Nov. 2, 2014
Watch this page for links to new information!
Phil grew up in Arkansas and Texas, the son of a minister’s family. He received his B.B.A. from Harding University and later his J.D. from the University of Arkansas. After completing their respective educations, Phil and his wife, Rebecca, met on a short-term mission trip in Bucharest, Romania in 1991. That mission trip turned their interests toward Romania and each other, and they returned to Bucharest in 1993 as a missionary family. They worked three years with the Bucharest church, also helping start the church in Ploiesti, a city located 40 miles from Bucharest. In 1996, they and another mission family moved to Cluj, located in northwest Romania, and began planting a church there. The Jacksons also organized and promoted an annual Christian camp and national church conferences in Bucharest.
The family returned to the States and Phil joined Missions Resource Network in 2002. As European Facilitator, Phil is recruiting long-term mission teams for strategic locations throughout Europe and working with missionaries and churches to develop effective mission strategies for those locations. They have two children and are members of the Prestoncrest Church of Christ in Dallas.
Our speaker for Oct. 26 is Behailu Abebe.
Behailu Abebe has years of experience in efforts to save lives and to save souls. Behailu is and has been a minister, evangelist, translator, radio broadcaster, school coordinator and director of humanitarian life-saving projects. In the 1980’s Behailu directed the Church of Christ Famine Relief Project, which raised eight million dollars and saved 128,000 from dying of hunger. He has served as coordinator for Schools for the Deaf and Preacher Training Schools in Ethiopia. He manages the Water Development Project that has dug over 540 wells providing fresh water for over 2.5 million people. He coordinates the broadcast of World Radio Amharic Service into Ethiopia, which reaches 90 million listeners. He also translates biblical studies into the Amharic language.
Behailu was baptized in 1964. He and his wife, Alem Seyefu, have been married since 1962. They have four children. Behailu and his wife currently reside in Seattle, Washington. In addition to continuing his ministry to his native country of Ethiopia, he is also involved in outreach to African immigrants in the Seattle area and active in the Holgate Church of Christ in Seattle.
Posted by Chris on April 1, 2014 under Articles, Bulletin Articles, Events, Front Page Announcements, News
After worship we will dismiss to discussion groups. We will have lunch together and discuss the topics below. Here’s how it works:
1. You will choose which topics interest you.
2. There will be three 30-minute discussion sessions at approximately 12:00, 12:30, and 1:00 PM.
3. Each topic below will be the focus for a group in two locations [listed below]. Each of the six topics will take place at the same time in the two locations. Each will be open for all three sessions.
4. Thus, you should plan on participating in three conversations that interest you the most and going to one of the two rooms listed for that topic during the three 30-minute sessions.
Creating a Seat at the Table [Room 106 & Room 215]
West-Ark has an established core of members who have been a part of the church family for 16 years or more. West-Ark is also blessed with active members who have been here for less than 16 years. What are the strengths and challenges that come with such a remarkable statistic? How can we open opportunities for new members to participate in mission and ministry? How can we be intentional about creating a “seat at the table” for everyone?
Friendship and Membership [Room 212 & Library]
We strive to be a church that is more than just members who attend a weekly meeting. We believe that Christ has called us to be His friends and friends with one another. How can we increase friendships within the West-Ark Church family? How can we create bridges to our friends who are not part of the West-Ark church? How can we cultivate the spirit of friendship?
A Cord of Three Strands: Finding Spiritual Support [Annex & Room 210]
A majority of members expressed an interest in forming support groups and fellowship groups. We want to be creative about forming opportunities to build up one another. How can we promote resources that will help individuals and families manage stress and grow spiritually? What has helped you and what have you experienced?
Communities within the Church: Mentoring and Groups [Room 225 & Annex Conference Room]
Over the years, West-Ark has developed multiple approaches to small group fellowship. At this moment in time, what are the best opportunities and approaches for study groups, fellowship groups, and encouragement groups? In addition to groups, mentoring is a time-honored and biblical means for spiritual growth and making disciples. How can we help people find mentors and how can we motivate more members to be mentors?
One Spirit, Many Gifts [Room 203 & Room 222]
West-Ark is blessed with a healthy participation rate that is above the expected norm. Our vision is greater than simply having enough volunteers to handle the work. We want all members to use the spiritual gifts that God has invested in them. How can we assist our membership in discovering their spiritual gifts? How can we empower people to use their gifts?
Keeping the Conversations and Communication Open [Room 100 & Room 211]
Communication is a vital component of our congregation. We strive to use a variety of methods and technologies to communicate. Whether it is an “old-school” method or a “cutting edge” technology, our primary goal is communication and conversation. We welcome your help. What talents do you have that will help us communicate more effectively? What creative ideas do you have to share? How would you be willing to assist in promoting opportunities for communication? Would you have an interest in helping people learn about new technologies and methods?
Posted by Chris on March 19, 2014 under Front Page Announcements
Sunday, April 6, 2014
Starting at 9:30 AM
“Talk It Up!” is a day especially designed for conversation, community, and creativity. We will begin with a combined class, and then worship, followed by conversation over a “family picnic” and dreaming about our opportunities to glorify God.
This journey began with the congregational analysis directed by Don Hebbard in December. Participation in the analysis was great. We are adding knowledge to our faith and discovering who we really are as a congregation. The report suggests opportunities and further discovery for West-Ark. The first step to spiritual growth and progress is getting together to talk it up.
There will be three parts to the schedule on April 6:
- Class & Discussion: All Bible Classes (Bridge 56 and above) will meet in the auditorium at 9:30 AM. Our shepherds will share what they noticed in the analysis. They will also share real opportunities and resources for personal and family development that are available to West-Ark
- Worship: Our assembly at 10:30 AM will be centered around the Body of Christ and the Greatest Commands. In our singing, communing, and sharing of the word we will experience the spiritual and biblical realities that ground our discussions, habits, and dreams.
- Talk It Up Fellowship: We will be sent out to enjoy a Family Picnic in the West-Ark building. Food will be served in the Family Life Center but we will gather to eat and talk in groups throughout the building. We talk and chat during family meals, so we will do the same in these groups. Each room prepared for a “Talk It Up” discussion will have a particular topic that comes from the congregational analysis (click here for a description of the topics). There will be enough time during the afternoon to visit three of these discussions. We want you to choose the ones that interest you most. Please feel free to join in the discussion or listen and take notes so that you can “Talk It Up” with others later. Child care for infants through 6th grade will be available in the Family Life Center during the discussion groups.
Posted by Chris on November 1, 2013 under Front Page Announcements, Missions
Mission Sunday Goal Is Set: $224,913
This is the amount we need to raise beginning with our special contribution on Nov. 3, 2013.
In addition to your contributions on Nov. 3, you may submit a pledge card showing your intent to give certain amount to fund mission efforts for 2014. Making a pledge allows the mission committee to manage the funds for all the mission efforts in the upcoming year.
A copy of our standard pledge card is available below.
The mission committee has spent time in prayer and conversation considering all requests and opportunities. The amount that we hope to raise in contribution and pledges is $224,913. When we reach the fundraising goal, then all of these works can be fully funded.
If you have any questions about the process for contributions or pledges, please contact a member of the mission committee or the office. We encourage everyone to make a pledge or gift. May God give us the faith to reach this goal so that we might experience (again!) the joy of realizing what God can do through all of us when we commit ourselves to his mission.
Posted by Chris on under Uncategorized
Posted by Chris on August 18, 2013 under Front Page Posts, Sermons
Sermon for August 18, 2013 by Chris Benjamin
Blessing 1 — Prayer for Kindergarten – 12th grade led by Ted Knight
Blessing 2 — Prayer for teachers and school workers led by Larry Todd and
Prayer for college students and college faculty led by Dave Cogswell