Saturday, August 13, 2011

Prairie Camp

Our month of August has been jammed full of one thing and that is....CAMP! We are extremely grateful to Prairie Camp for providing scholarships for our teens from Keller Park to come to camp. It was 7 days full of fun, challenges, games, services, "real talk," teachable moments, and ultimately showing kids God in all the ways we could find. Kory & I were blessed like crazy to have Brant Nine and Kalyn Lantz come help counsel the kids alongside us. We took 17 kids in all, 10 boys and 7 girls. There were 7 kids that had been to camp with us the previous year and 10 that experienced it for the first time. Camp is a great way to get to know new kids, the good things and the bad ;) We got to know a few special kids that we are hoping can join our ISI group this fall.

Although there were multiple times were we frustrated and tempted to pack up and go home early, God gave us his love, patience and strength so we could make it through. The kids were hard to handle at times and other times a blast to be around. Kory, Brant, Kalyn & I focused on the "little victories" we saw each day with kid's attitudes and decisions. We talked a lot about being what it means to be "others-centered" and not "me-centered." It was fun to see a couple of the kids really soak in truth from the services and to see their desire to live for God despite tough circumstances.

Here are some pictures of the fun we had our first couple days of camp. More pics to come soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Looking for Approval

Wednesday Night Tutoring is over and the Food Pantry isn't up and running yet. I'm going to blog about something that happened at the court yesterday:

I was at the KPC court yesterday playing futsal, and as we were getting close to finishing, a couple of kids from the neighborhood who frequent church and Wednesday Night Tutoring entered the court area. They stood off to the side respectfully watching. After a few minutes one of them said hi to David, our Children's Church Coordinator. David said hello and the game continued for a few more minutes before concluding. Following the game, I was standing around chatting and heard someone say hello to me, too. I recognized the voice but put my glasses back on to be sure I got it right before replying. It was then that I saw a few 3rd to 4th grade boys standing tall and at the ready trying to project a confidence that was betrayed by their furtive glances away from eye contact.

From the brief glimpses I have into the lives of these boys through church and tutoring, I know that they carry a lot of hurt. They easily get caught up in name calling and fist fights. They have both tested the disciplinary policies of I'm sure just about every program that they've been involved in and carry issues with them that I know at their age they don't fully grasp. Anyway, I felt honored to be on the other side of their search for affirmation, furtive though it may be, and I hope these boys stay in the neighborhood and grow into healthy young men who love and live for the Lord.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"It's not about what you have"-ISI/ Youth

Last week during our "real talk" time, Kory & I talked about a lie that many teenagers are believing today. This lie is that "it's all about what you have." Many of the kids are being faced with this lie daily. The culture today is screaming to them that their importance is connected to how much they have. If they have money, rims on their car, the latest technology, and designer clothes- then they are accepted. We tried to show them that this is not the truth. The Bible says in Matt. 6:19 that we are not to store up treasure on earth because rust destroys the cars we buy, moths eat away the clothes we wear, and robbers break in and steal our flat screen TVs. Our treasures are to be stored in heaven where these things can't take it away from us. What we treasure it where we can tell our hearts condition. We also talked about Matt 6:24 where it is clear that we cannot serve both God and money and 1 Timothy 6:10 that money is the root of all kinds of evil.

It was really good to talk through some of these verses and issues with the kids. Some of the verses seemed confusing because all their life they have been taught by this world and culture that money is something to pursue and something that will make you happy, but that's not the truth. They are being lied to. At the end we listened to the song "Cash or Christ" by Christian rapper, Trip Lee. Good song, good lyrics. All in all it was a great night. Will you join me in prayer that our kids will not believe the lies our culture throws at them? And that they would know that it really is NOT about what you have, it's about WHO you have- and that is Jesus Christ.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Drawing to a Close - Wednesday Night Tutoring

This coming Wednesday will be our last regular tutoring night. On May 4th we'll have a cookout party. South Bend schools will still be going for awhile, but since so many of our tutors are Bethel students, we'll be ending our tutoring school year a little earlier than the SBCSC school year.

Truth be told, the last few weeks of tutoring have been quite troubling from a behavior standpoint. It's hard to know how to address this problem since acceptable behavior is our baseline for doing anything at Wednesday Night Tutoring. When behavior is as bad as it was last week, we can't really do anything with the kids. We dismissed half an hour early and struggled to keep fistfights from breaking out on the way home. It's disappointing how these recent troubles can overshadow some of the progress that we've noticed over the school year. I share this not in the spirit of complaining but in the spirit of reporting what's actually happening.

On the constructive side, we have plans next year to make firmer connection with our kids' families in the hopes that this will help out with some of these behavior issues. I hope with this firmer connection that we can better support and guide the KP kids who attend tutoring and that we can involve families in the educational, moral, and social development that takes place at Wednesday Night Tutoring. In short, I think we can do better next year by expanding our focus to include families, not just individual KP kiddos.

In the midst of trials and triumphs, the tutors we've had this year have been tremendous. They've given of their lives and their schedules to provide something that all kids need and crave, one-to-one attention from a loving adult. This is what makes Wednesday Night Tutoring work.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Rollercoaster Weather

I am excited to say that the KPCourt has been open for almost 3 weeks now and it has definitely been used. Nearly every day after 3:00 in the afternoon kids are storming the court getting all their energy out. It has been a joy to see kids of all different ages, races, and family backgrounds play together on the court and enjoy some of the beautiful weather in the past couple of weeks. It is our prayer that this court continues to be a safe place where kids can exercise and play, rather than getting into trouble elsewhere. Hopefully the weather continues to get better and we can get over the cold weather hump soon (unlike we did today)! If you think about it be praying that these kids would learn to play together and relationships would be built between the kids and KP adults in the neighborhood!

If you enjoy kids and want to be a part of their life come to the court anytime after school to play with the neighborhood kids. They would love to shoot some hoops with you!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Rivers of Life

Last week we went on a River Prayer walk. It was a glorious thing. We brought a guitar and a Bible and walked to a place were we could sit, sing, and pray together. The warmth of the sun reminded us of the Son and how He is the giver of all life. It is so cool to see life come forth during the spring time. It is a reminder of how he brings forth life from what seems completely dead. To grow, the grass and trees and leaves need the sunshine. For us to grow, as a church and a body, we need the Son. Sitting before Him and asking Him to teach us, grows us together in unity and in love.
As summer gets nearer I would love to have more prayer walks through the neighborhood and along the river. If you like the idea, please contact me or talk to me so I can make sure it happens and so you know when and where this takes place. Also, If you sit outside this week just to soak up the sunshine (or even if you don't) I encourage you to sit before our Father and ask Him to penetrate you with His truth.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Celebrate Recovery

Celebrate Recovery is ready for spring! As the winter lingers on, our Thursday night meeting has seen its ups and downs. As with the nature of addiction, the roller coaster of supporting each other can wear on one’s heart and emotions. The core group continues to hold together in God’s strength and truth as newcomers come and go. There have been some difficult times, where I wish I could magically take away all the pain, bondage and hopelessness of those I come in contact with. As we pray together, we are humbled in realizing that only God can heal them His they seek Him. At times, it’s easy to lose our faith and hope for those whose circumstances seem too challenging. Yet, the power of God’s work in the lives of us who have experienced His redeeming grace reminds us that there is hope for them also! Thank God for the living testimonies of peoples’ lives and experiences of victory in Him. We shall press on together.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ISI/ Youth

ISI is still meeting every Thursday night from 3:00-9:00ish. We spend the first couple hours hanging out, and then everyone usually arrives around 5:30. We all sit around our table and eat dinner together, family style. After dinner we have what we call "Real Talk." Real Talk is when we share openly and honestly about situations going on in our life or talking openly about the topic that was brought up for the night. This semester we've been focusing on what TRUTH is. We talk about different lies that we believe and then we figure out what the Bible says so that we can know the truth. Every topic is one the kids have brought up. Our first week we talked about the lie- "it's ok to sin," the second week we talked about the lie "it's all about me" another week, "everybody's doing it" etc. It's been a great mixture of fun and fellowship, and it's really cool to see the kids growing in their knowledge of Christ.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bright Spots at Wednesday Night Tutoring

One emerging practice at KPC Wednesday Night Tutoring doesn't quite have a name yet. Toward the end of the evening we gather all the kids and tutors in the main room in the basement and ask a simple question: "Did you do anything good at school this week?" Hands shoot up. "I got an 'A' on a test." Clap, clap, clap. "I got a star on my Math worksheet." Clap, clap, clap. "I was rewarded for good behavior." Clap, clap, clap. "I rescued a kitty and brought it to the Humane Society where I now volunteer." Clap, clap, clap.

Discipline is a challenge at the tutoring program, but the kids really respond to the one-to-one attention from a positive, loving adult and to the other positive reinforcements that all of us at Wednesday Night Tutoring are implementing this year. I hope that we can continue build on the positive steps that the kids seem eager to report on and find ways to make the most of what progress they are making.

I found myself grinning from ear-to-ear last Wednesday when during Activity Time several tutors led the kids who chose this activity in rousing renditions of some classic silly Bible songs complete with motions and dancing. It was surprising and heartening to see some of our most confrontational and jaded tutoring kids goofing around without their characteristic guardedness.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Adult GED Program- An Overview

The Keller Park Adult GED Program is a fairly new ministry at the church, as we only started late in 2010. Keller Park is just one of the Adult Education sites for The Crossing, who helped get us going and oversees our program. We are still small, but hope to continue to grow and expand throughout this next year.

We meet at the church twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The courses are online tutorials that students move through at their own pace. An initial test tells us where to start them according to their current knowledge, and then they continue on from there. I am one of three main teachers who is available when help is needed and also to facilitate Community Time. Every night, we take about a half an hour out for Community Time where we can meet together and talk about life. This could take the form of catching up on how the week has been, digging deeper into spiritual issues, or just sharing about ourselves. These times have helped me get to better know those in the program and also makes the program so much more than just GED help. Right now we have four people working toward their GED and they have already made great progress!

It has been encouraging to see how the program has grown already and I am excited to see how we continue to move forward this year!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Intentional Community

In John 13:34-35 Jesus says this: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Last summer, about a dozen adults and two babies from Keller Park Church made a trip to Chicago to visit Reba Place Fellowship to learn about a community of Christians who have been sharing life together for over 50 years. One lesson I learned during this visit is that living in close community gives you countless opportunities to love others. However, t
here are also plenty of opportunities for disagreement, hurt feelings, annoyance, jealousy and conflict. Striving for intentional community means loving others on purpose by following Christ's examples of forgiveness, honesty, accountability, servanthood, and oh so much more.

Paul beautifully sums up the joy that comes from intentional community in his final greeting, 2 Corinthians 13:11- "Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you."

Monday, March 21, 2011

KPCourt is opening soon!

Spring is near and warm weather almost here! People are starting to come out of hibernation and enjoy the nice weather. Kids are begging for the court to be opened. Everyone is ready to be out and playing again. Although we have opened the court a few special times for the neighborhood kids we are not officially opening the court until April 1. The court will be opened in April during the after school hours of 3 until dark. It is our hope that our neighborhood will continually learn to protect the court from vandalism as they take pride in the court and claim it as their own.

We are very excited about events and things to come on KP Court. Be looking for more updates later about KP Basketball Camp, adult open court hours, soccer open court hours, softball league, and more...

But until then come on out and enjoy the court! It was made to be used by YOU! Enjoy the weather. Enjoy the neighborhood. Enjoy some exercise.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Children's Church at Keller Park

Children's Church at Keller Park happens every Sunday during the second half of the morning service. Six different teachers take weekly turns leading lessons, crafts, and other activities geared towards children ages five to ten. Many of our neighborhood kids know very little about the Bible, so our curriculum this year has been structured around Bible stories. We finished a series of lessons from the Old Testament at the end of last year and are now several weeks into a new series from the New Testament. Teaching the stories of David or Daniel or Jonah to a roomful of kids who've never heard them can be very rewarding. My favorite way to involve the children in a lesson is by acting it out with them after we've read it. The story of young Samuel in the temple, with its several false alarms, its reprimands from Eli, and its eventual moment of clarity upon encountering God's presence was especially fun to see the kids perform.

Teaching Children's Church at Keller Park also brings its share of difficulties. Attendance is inconsistent and the kids are often badly behaved. As a teacher, I feel most challenged when trying to communicate to the more unruly children that they have behaved badly while not giving them the impression that they aren't welcome or loved at Keller Park. Though this is a challenge that I and the other teachers face nearly every week, it brings me joy to see our kids hearing stories that are foundational to our faith and learning in ways we hope will help them take steps towards Christ.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March Food Update

KPC's food ministry has two primary purposes. First, we provide a meal to the students and tutors who meet each Wednesday evening. The details of our second purpose, functioning as a food bank for neighbors in our community, are still being worked out, but at this point we are informally providing food to households in need as we find out about them. We get the majority of our food from the Food Bank of Northern Indiana, which is a great non-profit organization without which we couldn't function.

On March 2nd, Matt E. and I made a trip to restock the pantry and pick up an order of food for tutoring. One of the people working there informed us that the food bank has recently received a donation of 350 cases (14,000 pounds!) of fresh oranges and encouraged us to purchase some with the rest of our order. We ended up with over 100 pounds of canned food for KPC's food pantry and over 300 pounds of oranges for tutoring and church members. We're thankful for an organization like the FBNI, which allows us to provide food for our friends and neighbors.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord

Something that Jesus has made evident to me, living here in Keller Park, is that we can not adequately love in our own strength. The mountains and barriers that abide here are too big. There is so much we try to accomplish here and many things we want to do but Zechariah 4:6 always comes back to my heart;

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts."

By His Spirit the sick are healed, the hungry are fed, the lost are found. When I ask God how this is possible, He keeps saying, bring my people together before me, to pray.
Throughout His word He continues to say ASK me! Seek me out.... in Everything.... in all circumstances. Don't give up meeting together. I made you as a body to work together in unity. And when a few of us get together to pray I am reminded that is not about us anyway. It is all about HIM. Our Maker, our Father, our beloved Savior and Friend.

Saturday nights (usually 7-8:30, or 9-10:30) have simply been a small portion of time to seek His Face together for our neighborhood and for our church. And to seek out unity as we surrender and worship Him with music, scripture, silence, and praying.

ALL to Jesus.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Celebrate Recovery: First Thoughts

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to blog about Celebrate Recovery and how good God is to us. Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a Christ-centered recovery group, similar to other 12-step programs. The difference is that we have a recognized “Higher Power”, JESUS. Our program is held every Thursday night from 6:30-8:30pm. The first hour includes worship, reading of the 12 steps and Scripture, and a lesson or testimony. The second hour is a small group discussion time, usually separated by gender (and hopefully one day by area of need). We open the doors at 6pm for building relationships over coffee and yummy treats. Once a month, we prepare and enjoy a meal together before the meeting.

Over the past 2 years, CR has transitioned from a small group of strangers into a close family who weekly share their struggles and weakness along with their hope, strength and victories. A typical meeting can have anywhere from 6-15 people, averaging around 10 or so. There are a variety of struggles shared at CR, ranging from alcohol and substance abuse, other destructive addictive behaviors, relational difficulties, emotional abuse, anger, depression, etc. We strongly value an authentic culture of trust (anonymity and confidentiality) and love (we come to support each other, not to “fix” each other). Judgement must be left at the door, which tends to happen naturally as we are honest with ourselves and one another.

I also wanted to briefly share my personal experience with this CR family. I can’t describe the privilege it is to meet and learn from such beautiful people. My hope tank is filled every single week, as I see God work and move in people’s lives. There is a commonality of desperation for God and, in this, He provides in ways that blow us all away. A couple of weeks ago, a man who has struggled to be clean from drugs for a few years suddenly lost his job. He’s been in and out of homeless shelters and is learning how to live clean and sober after a lifetime of drug abuse. Without God, this would have been a prime time to go back out, to give up and numb the pain. But, this past week, he came back and tearfully shared with me what God had done. Someone just gave him a car and his old job gave him enough money to fix the car. He received a new job within a week of applying and is now able to give back and help others with transportation. This is just one story of many and God is so good to those who take refuge in Him. I look forward to sharing more in weeks to come, including some of the difficulties we experience at CR as well.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Website!

Hey everyone! Today we're launching our new website at

Here's some great ways you can make use of the new site:

  1. Bookmark this blog by clicking the star in your web browser. This will help you to be able to check back often to find out all that God is doing in the KPC and our community! If you use a blog reader, like Google Reader, just add us there!
  2. Go to the website and bookmark that as well so that you can access that easily in the future. Then, take a look around!
  3. Check out the "What's Happening" link to see the upcoming events.
  4. Click the "connect" link in the "What's Happening" section to be taken to a page where you can find all the ways to stay in touch with KPC.
  5. Browse the calendar on the "connect" page. Get familiar with how to move around and see what's happening!
  6. Check out the "Ministries" pages and see the "leadership" page for pictures and contact info for the leaders in the different areas of ministry in the KPC. Click their names to send an email to them!
  7. Check out the "Ministries" > "resources" page. Use the password, "community" to gain access to the Nursery and Spaghetti Sunday schedules!
  8. Read through the "About us" section to explore more about the KPC!
If you have any thoughts or questions, just reply in the comments here or contact Ryan to let me know!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Welcome to KPC Updates!

The Keller Park Church is a small, neighborhood focused church in urban South Bend.  Our goal is to help our neighbors take steps toward Christ by simply living like Jesus in our community!  We value diversity, equality, and openness in our pursuit of God together.

This blog is to help us celebrate the things that God is doing in our community, both as a church and a neighborhood.  Hopefully through sharing the stories of what is happening, we can both glorify God and encourage each other to keep trusting God, and taking those next steps.

Get ready to be a part of a special story!