A 9-minute ministry update and financial snapshot for theHeart through September 2018.
theHeart is called to reconcile people to God and each other through Christ's Love. During the third quarter of 2018, we've continued to experience exciting momentum as we attempt to be and do church in a simple way. God is on the move within our community of faith.
That being said, we are just about to enter the last two months of the calendar year. And currently, we face a budget deficit of $68,777. Yes, this is a big number. But we believe we can overcome this shortfall by the end of December.
Why? Because God continues to provide us with many opportunities for growth, relational wholeness, and service to others. And while our efforts may seem simple, the results have been significant. Continue reading for more about some of the specific ways we've been living out our mission together.
Reaching the Next Generation
Our Next Generation Ministry, led by Next Generations Director Ethan Hardin, focuses on teaching kids, youth, and young adults through the Good News of Jesus Christ. The opportunities are vast, and yet our singular aim is to build deep, lasting relationships with God and one another.
"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3
Jesus' words remind us that there is something essential to our faith that is best modeled by children. In August, the kids began a journey through the gospel account of Luke, exploring the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus. Our teachers have done a brilliant job helping the narrative, parables, and message of Jesus come alive. The Teaching Team sat imagining Jesus' calming of the storm, reading through key moments in the gospel. The Creation Team made microwave bread, helping engage all the senses for the story of Jesus feeding the crowd. The Play Team did a scavenger hunt in the gym, shedding light on the parable of the lost sheep. It is a joy to hear stories of parents reflecting on what their kids are grasping. Parents, students, and any servant-hearted brother or sister in Christ that is up for the joys and challenges of Kids Ministry, we invite you into the volunteer monthly role of serving, teaching, and building up our youngest in this family of faith.
This September Kids Ministry volunteers gathered together for a training breakfast.
We are looking for some loving Nursery Volunteers for next semester. Contact Ethan (firstname.lastname@example.org) for info about how to connect.
Our Youth Group has also been journeying with Jesus in Luke. Every Wednesday evening a small team of young adults come around our youth group for fun, study, and the sharing of faith. Our weekly rhythm has yielded amazing relationships between our college-aged volunteers and our middle- and high-school youth families. We are learning more and more about what it looks like to pursue the life of faith together, across generations, as one family.
The high-school girls bible study, hosted by coordinators Rachel Godwin and Hannah Siegel, has been exploring the whole narrative of the Bible in a study called "Seamless." This small group has grown close together, digging deep into scripture and life.
With nine interns, our internship has played a huge role in expanding our church's ministry efforts. Five veteran interns lead areas of Next Generations ministry, Worship ministry, Relational Care ministry, and communications. Our four first-time interns are investing themselves in some up-and-coming outreach projects. With a focus on spiritual formation, the interns are poured into by our staff and, in turn, pour themselves out for the building up of the church. May God continue to cultivate such a vibrant generation of servant-leaders. Meet our interns.
Applications for the Spring internship will be coming up soon. College-aged students interested in the internship can contact Ethan (email@example.com).
Caring for One Another
With an intentional focus on prayer, small groups, and care ministry Relational Care Pastor Graham Aitken helps develop and nurture relational wholeness within theHeart. We want to ensure that we grow deeper with one another, not just wider in attendance.
Relationships Within theHeart
Our prayer ministry is up and running and the Prayer Team has served the church faithfully throughout this quarter. In addition to our regular Sunday morning rhythm of offering prayer during our morning Gatherings, Prayer Team members have been approached with individual opportunities to pray with people in their homes and workplaces. We’re excited to see how these kind of opportunities develop over the next few months.
We have formed a college small group that meets on Sunday nights at theHeart office. Our hope is to offer students a space for deeper connection and spiritual growth with God and one another.
As we look to expand our small group ministry, Graham has been meeting with potential group leaders to invite them into a process of discernment and to cast vision for moving forward. Simultaneously, we have been researching various options for training and equipping new small group leaders, particularly within the context of theHeart.
theHeart has assembled an eight-person team that will travel to Badplaas, South Africa, November 14-25. In continued partnership with our friends at Emoyeni, we will assist them in their efforts of restoring orphaned sons and daughters to our Heavenly Father. Graham is leading the team.
During the third quarter, Graham was invited by Samaritan's Purse to serve as a facilitator at The Summit, a four-day debriefing event for field staff who have served in tough contexts, either as field office employees or as part of a Disaster Assistance Response Team. Graham helped shape the content of the large group presentations and led small group discussions on trauma recovery, theology of suffering, re-entry into home cultures, and other related topics. This role allowed Graham to pour into our broader community while further developing knowledge and skills that will benefit his role as Relational Care Pastor at theHeart.
Relationships Throughout the High Country
As we look to the winter months, we anticipate an increase in benevolence requests. The Relational Care Team has been discussing how to prioritize these well, realizing that we can’t financially give to all requests. The team has compiled a list of available community resources to share with each request even when a financial gift is not possible.
Graham is leading one of the committees underneath the Watauga Compassionate Community Initiative (WCCI), which will strengthen our ties with the social services community and deepen this mutually beneficial relationship. He will be part of the upcoming WCCI Conference, a State of the Child/State of the Community Event scheduled for May 4.
Graham is working with the steering committee to develop a second Trauma In Congregations training for the faith community that will assist theHeart and other churches in the community in implementing effective trauma practices in the life of our body of believers.
Life in Community
theHeart is called to develop a healthy, robust community that loves like God. For this to happen, we need to be intentional about making genuine connections with each other. Headed up by Community Life Pastor Josh Anderson, theHeart is continually identifying and creating meaningful partnerships with organizations that are doing incredible things in our community, both locally and around the world. And through Love In Action, we're removing some of the barriers that come between us and those we can serve.
A group of 4-6 committed volunteers continue to prepare and serve a hot meal at Hospitality House the third Sunday of every month.
In September, we hosted our first-ever Newcomers Course. A group of 12-15 people spent four weeks learning more about the mission, vision, and values of theHeart and ways they could become better connected. We plan to offer this course again in early 2019.
Throughout the month of July, we made more time for friends on Sundays. From 9am-11am, people spent time with each other enjoying some homemade biscuits and fresh coffee, playing games, and meeting new people.
We continued to serve theHeart community, as well as the community at large, through our Benevolence Fund. In 2018 we increased this annual budget amount and implemented a more formalized approach to vetting requests that come our way in order to have a broader and more impactful reach.
To date, we have given more than $13,000 in support of partner non-profit organizations that are doing work both in the High Country and around the world.
THEHEART BLEND is on tap every Sunday morning during our community hour between gatherings. You can purchase your own from our friends at Hatchet Coffee. We receive $4 from every bag of THEHEART BLEND coffee sold. To date we have received more than $400 in donations from the sales of this special blend.
In an effort to share more of the heart behind theHeart, we continue to publish newsworthy notes on our blog. Our hope is that by sharing stories, our community will have another way to learn more about one another and find meaningful connections in the process. You can read more here.
Nurturing A Culture of Worship
At 9am and 11am on Sunday mornings theHeart gathers together at Watauga High School as a community of believers to worship God through worship and studying God's Word. Teaching and Vision Pastor Jason English and Worship Director Erin Deuel spend long hours each week planning and preparing for our simple expression of worship.
In July we were able to give many of our Stage Crew, Sound Team, and Band volunteers a much deserved rest by featuring a month of acoustic worship and one weekly gathering.
Thanks to some generous donations, we were able to replace our outdated sound equipment with some new goods. Read more about the benefits of our new system.
We held a training session for our volunteers on the new equipment with Selah Media.
People continue to stream theHeart's first-ever music album "Heirloom: Reflections on the Psalms" on Spotify and iTunes.
Our first-ever Worship Team intern is focusing on co-coordinating the Stage Crew alongside volunteer coordinator Scott Banks. We're hoping to build a team of 12-15 volunteers for this underserved volunteer opportunity on Sunday mornings. More people means there are more than enough volunteers committed to sharing the responsibility of pulling the trailer, unloading and loading the music equipment, helping the band set up, and running the projector. Learn more about what it's like to serve with the Stage Crew. Email Scott (firstname.lastname@example.org) to learn how you can volunteer with this growing area of theHeart. No experience is required.
Teaching and Vision
We finished an extended teaching series called "SHE: The Biblical Narrative Through the Lives of Women." You can catch up on 26 teachings by listening to all the messages online: https://theheart.podbean.com/
In September we started a new series called "The Heart of theHeart," which focuses on each of our five fundamental beliefs and five distinct values. Read more about the inspiration on our blog.
Jason is in the process of writing a book. "The Whole Thing: Capturing the Story of the Bible in 6 Images" will help people understand the Bible in a clear and memorable way. Through a Kickstarter campaign, people who believe in the vision and importance of the project have made donations that help cover publishing and promoting the book. The cost of this project will not have an impact on theHeart's annual budget.
What Still Remains
As of September, we are currently running a shortage of $68,777.00.
God has made it possible for theHeart to responsibly steward the resources He has entrusted to us, similar to what was found in the first-century church: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had” (Acts 4:32).
Our core value of simplicity affords us the unique opportunity to use the majority of your financial gifts to more effectively offer assistance to individuals and families in need, give to local organizations that serve the High Country, and support efforts to make a difference globally.
More and more people have found a home at theHeart. With this growth comes the reality that our operating expenses have increased. And yet we consistently spend less than what has been allotted each month. In September alone, we spent nearly $8,000 less than our monthly budget amount.
In addition to the initiatives we've already put into action, your generosity has made it possible for us to offer two gatherings on Sundays. This opens up more seats for even more people to find a place at theHeart. And you've made it possible for us to add to our staff and increase the many ways we support and develop a vibrant church life. All of this is being done in an effort to help us grow deeper in our relationships with God and one another.
Overall, monthly contributions have been trending upwards; however, they are lagging behind what was projected. For us to meet and even exceed our obligations in 2018, your financial support and commitment is more important than ever.
How You Might Respond
Regular and even increased contributions are essential as we plan and prepare for the future. Your financial gifts are especially important as we continue to find effective ways to reconcile people to God and each other through Christ's Love. Simple.
If you believe in theHeart and you support our mission , please consider giving as Paul instructed: "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Whether you schedule regular donations online, give as an act of worship on Sundays, or simply give as you are able, your financial support will help theHeart navigate 2018 with strength and confidence.
3 Easy Ways to Give
Give what you've decided in your heart online; text to give at 828.848.4020; give an offering on Sundays
We look forward to the many ways God will continue to use theHeart for His purpose in the High Country and around the world. And we are eager to partner with you in furthering His Kingdom on earth.
—theHeart Leadership Team and Staff