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.