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Empowering Spiritual Growth and Community Building Dear House Gathering Facilitator, As a Home Gathering Facilitator, you are a vital catalyst in our shared journey of spiritual growth and community building within the Riverfront Family Church. Your role is pivotal in creating meaningful and transformative experiences during our weekly Small Home Gatherings. Your responsibilities encompass planning, engagement, and delegation, ensuring that each week's gathering experience enriches the lives of our members. Here's what we expect from you: 1. Planning and Coordination:

  • Collaborate with your group to plan and coordinate the weekly gathering experience. These gatherings should be dynamic, engaging, and spiritually enriching.

  • Create a welcoming atmosphere by setting up the physical space and providing clear communication about the gathering's format and objectives.

2. Engaging Each Member:

  • Foster a sense of belonging and participation within your group. Ensure that each member feels valued, heard, and encouraged to contribute.

  • Encourage open and respectful discussions that promote personal and spiritual growth.

3. Delegation of Roles:

  • Empower group members by delegating various roles for each gathering. This could include leading a prayer, sharing a scripture passage, or organizing a mission activity.

  • Rotate facilitation responsibilities among group members to encourage leadership development and a diverse range of perspectives.

Elements of Each Gathering: Each week, your role involves guiding the group through a diverse range of activities that can include, but are not limited to:

  • Fellowship: Provide intentional time for members to connect with each other relationally, fostering a sense of community.

  • Worship: Create opportunities for members to encounter God through different avenues such as music, poetry, readings, and centering prayer.

  • Word: Share and explore scripture through teaching, discussion, videos, sharing, or other means to deepen understanding and faith.

  • Sharing: Create a safe space for members to share their learning, struggles, and experiences, nurturing open dialogue and support.

  • Prayer: Dedicate time to pray for each other, the church, and the community, deepening the spiritual connection within the group.

  • Mission: Collaboratively explore and engage in important work related to justice, mission, and community outreach. This can include collaboration with other groups as well.

Support and Resources: You won't embark on this journey alone. The Pastors and Leadership Team are here to provide you with resources and training to enhance your facilitation skills. We encourage you to reach out for guidance and support. Communication with Leadership: Transparency is key. Please communicate any concerns, issues, or exciting developments within your group to the Pastors and Leadership Team. We value your insights and feedback. Conclusion: As a Home Gathering Facilitator, you play an essential role in shaping the spiritual and communal growth of our members. Your dedication to planning meaningful gatherings, engaging participants, and fostering leadership will contribute significantly to the vitality of our church community.

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Welcome to the Heart of Our Ministry

Dear Home Gathering Host, We are thrilled to embark on this transformative journey together as we embrace a new model of ministry at Riverfront Family Church. This innovative approach places the heart of our community within the intimate setting of Small Home Gatherings, with a monthly Corporate Large Group worship to foster a deeper connection with God and one another. As a Home Gathering Host, your role is pivotal in making this vision a reality. Your warmth, hospitality, and open home will create an inviting and nurturing space for spiritual growth and fellowship. Here are your key responsibilities: 1. Open Your Home with Open Arms:

  • Your home will be the sanctuary where our Small Home Gatherings unfold. Welcome between 6 to 12 people each week, fostering a sense of intimacy and community.

  • Ensure your space is clean and conducive to spiritual discussions and reflection.

2. Provide Basic Hospitality:

  • Create an atmosphere of comfort by offering simple refreshments such as coffee, tea, and water. These modest offerings will enhance the sense of togetherness.

  • You need not be a gourmet chef or barista; the essence is in the shared moments around your table.

3. Extend the Gift of Welcome:

  • As the Home Gathering Host, your friendly demeanor will set the tone for each meeting. Greet everyone with an open heart and a warm smile.

  • Make an effort to get to know newcomers and make them feel included. Your role is to foster a sense of belonging.

Key Distinction: Facilitator vs. Host:

  • It's important to note that your role as a Home Gathering Host is distinct from that of the group facilitator. While the facilitator guides the discussions and activities, your role is centered on creating an inviting environment.

The Power of Your Contribution: As a Home Gathering Host, you play a vital part in our church community. You are the guardian of the sacred space where faith is nurtured, relationships are deepened, and lives are transformed. Your commitment to opening your home, providing hospitality, and offering a warm welcome contributes immeasurably to the success of this ministry model. Support and Resources: We value your dedication and will provide you with resources and support to help you thrive in your role. Regular meetings and training sessions will be available to enhance your hosting skills and address any questions or concerns. Conclusion: In this new model of ministry, you are not just hosting gatherings; you are fostering an environment where people can experience God's love and grow spiritually. Your contributions will be cherished, and your dedication will be the cornerstone of our church community.

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  • Michael Minch

Mark 6 tells the story of Jesus coming back to Nazareth and teaching in his hometown synagogue, and his sending of the disciples out into Galilee to carry out his mission program and build the kingdom community. Sandwiched into this narrative is the story of John the Baptist’s beheading. Mark makes this insertion for a reason I will note below. Already in Mark, Jesus’ family has thought him deranged (3.21, 31-35). Here they are scandalized by him (skandalidzousin) (6.1-6; cf. Luke 4.16-30). In chapter 5, Jarius and others laughed at Jesus, here they sneer at him. After all, he comes into the synagogue and astonishes the congregation by his teaching—while at the same time they remember him as a boy, growing up in their village, working as a laborer with his father. How can he be a prophet and a common laborer? Jesus was a peasant. Does he really have so much to offer?

Years ago, Keith Green sang a song about this:

Isn’t that Jesus? Isn’t that Joseph and Mary’s son?

Well, didn’t he grow up tight here—he played with our children.

What?! He must be dreaming—thinks he’s a prophet.

Prophets don’t grow up from little boys. Do they? From little boys. Do they?

The derogation of Jesus’ honor from his own family and friends is the ultimate put-down. Being identified as the “son of Mary” is a put down. It was expected that one would be identified by his father’s lineage, “the son of.” Identified as he is calls some things into question. Where is the father? Is Jesus illegitimate? Has his father repudiated him? Jesus is not exactly being welcomed back with open and appreciative arms. Throughout the Gospel tradition, miracles typically end with expressions of astonishment. Here, however, the astonishment belongs to Jesus. He is amazed at the “stubbornness of their unbelief” (6.6).

Two weeks ago in our Sunday morning worship, some of our members noted that they are “defensive” among some family and friends who cannot understand why they are Christians and belong to a church. Last Saturday, Shekhe talked about the danger of being a Christian in the part of Nigeria where she and Danladi are raising their children. There has been more than one attempt on Danladi’s life, and there is no assurance such threats are over. We worship and follow a Lord who told us, “If they persecute me, they’ll persecute you. You should expect nothing less” (John 15.20-21). So when we read of Jesus so badly received by his own, we can know that here too, he has gone before us, and walks with us in our own estrangement, alienation, or hostile treatment. We should never forget that following Jesus means painful choices will have to be made, and loyalties will have to be declared. Our allegiance to Jesus will rub some people the wrong way, or worse.

Immediately following the scene at the synagogue and the sneering skepticism cast his way, Jesus sends the Twelve into the region to extend his ministry. This is the one place in Mark where Jesus calls his disciples “apostles” (“sent ones”). Mark and the other Gospels show us that these men are always on the way to understanding, but up to the end of the gospel, will have never fully understood. They try to obey and follow Jesus and sometimes in some ways, succeed. But their failures are perhaps more to be noted than their achievements. Yet, Jesus does not wait for them to have full understanding or admirable discipleship before associating himself with them, indeed, tying himself to them. Flawed as they are, he sends them out. How does he dare send them? How do they dare go? How does anything good come from such a problematic operation? Here too, the story should sound familiar.

This is the Marcan version of the missionary discourse expanded into a full chapter in Matthew 10 and split in Luke 9 and 10 (Lk. 9.1-6, 10.1-16). The emphasis is on the connection with Jesus’ mission empowered by his authority (authority is a form of power). The disciples are an extension of Jesus’ own ministry. He charges them to travel light, given the urgency of the situation and their need for trust in Jesus’ power and provision. The passage closes by recording the response of the Twelve and their success in offering Jesus’ ministry of healing and liberation. Perhaps this mission strategy was one of setting up a network of safehouses, where Jesus’ followers could find hospitality, refuge, and security as the Jesus movement grew and became ever more troublesome to its adversaries. In times of persecution (as with Mark’s church) where could safety be found? The reason Mark has inserted the story of John’s murder into this narrative now comes evident. Jesus has begun to communicate the cost of following him. A powerful signifier of that cost is indicated by John the Baptist’s beheading (to be discussed in our next essay).

These 13 verses raise important questions for us. Among them are these.

Mark reports that because of the unbelief he encountered in Nazareth, Jesus’ “great works” or miracles, were diminished (not brought to a standstill, as he continued to heal the sick). What? How can our lack of faith limit God’s work in the world? God is inexpressibly stronger than us, right? Well, we do know this. Our faith takes form in praxis—in the doing of God’s work in the world. God works through those who work for peace and justice, healing and liberation. If we do not believe that God will work through us, and embody that belief in our servanthood, far too little of God’s work is going to be done in this world.

Jesus’ family and friends were astonished and scandalized that Jesus claimed to be more than an ordinary laborer (or craftsman). Like most people, they thought of God as a Power that showed up in the spectacular, the fabulous, the mysterious extraordinary. But the gospel tells us that God shows up in laborers and in labor, in the most ordinary aspects of life and in ordinary people. And if God doesn’t show up in the radical ordinary— God doesn’t show up at all.

And last, Jesus told his disciples to travel light, depend upon the hospitality (or grace) of others, and the power of God. Is this a call unique to these first disciples, or a call to us as well? We have, of course, good reason to conclude Jesus speaks to us here too, but what can this command mean for rich Christians who live in wealthy societies? What does it mean to travel light as a “sent one” and sojourner, for a property-owning Christian embedded in a capitalist system? If my wealth imperils my trust in God (as the New Testament makes clear), what should I do? How does God dare send us? How do we dare go?

There are no easy answers found in this passage—nor in the Gospels themselves. But the call to participate in God’s work in the ordinariness of our everyday lives, and trust God, seems like a sure foundation for exploration into answers that may await us.

Thanks for reading,


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