Archives For Grace Community Church

It’s not you, it’s me

Ben Reed —  September 17, 2012 — 8 Comments

I had just finished my freshman year in college and made my way home for the summer. It had been a good first year, and countless opportunities were to soon dot the landscape of the next 2 months. But dread and fear and ache loomed in my heart as I stood outside the door. On the other side of the door stood a conversation I knew I needed to have.

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image credit: Flickr user dolfi

I reached my hand up to knock, but jerked it back down, the internal battle manifesting itself as my sweaty palms looked for anything to do besides sweat. This was absolutely what I needed to do, but in the moment I wanted to do anything but.

Have you ever broken up with someone? You knew it was the right decision, but it was hard and there was a part of you still very much resistant to the whole notion.

That’s where I was the week after my freshman year in college.

And yesterday.

But yesterday took the cake.

Have you ever had to go through that whole heart-wrenching break-up routine 4 times in one day?

Yes?

Then you’re crazy. But I’ve got still got you beat.

Ever broken up with 2500 people on the same day?

I have. Yesterday.

As I stood on stage yesterday at Grace, I “broke up” with my church. I explained how God’s leading us somewhere else, to a new adventure and a new people. It was the hardest announcement I’ve ever had to make. As excited as I am for what’s next, I’m equally being ripped apart because I love the people at Grace, whom I’ve served for the past 5 years.

It’s not you, it’s me.

This has been the most difficult decision of my life. Fleeing a burning building is one thing. If a building is on fire, everybody would tell you, “Get out of there! It’s time to run!” But fleeing one you love, one that’s growing, and one that’s full of people you love and care for is something else entirely.

But it’s when we grow comfortable that God often calls us to take a big step of faith. A step of faith that gives us the chance to trust God in a new way that we couldn’t if we stayed planted in the same spot.

Comfort and faith rarely go hand-in-hand.

I will be starting at Long Hollow in Hendersonville, TN, on October 1, as their small groups pastor, working to create a healthy small group structure, investing my life in small group leaders.

I hate walking away from Grace, but am thrilled to be joining the team at Long Hollow. Thrilled for this next season in our lives. Thrilled to pour out blood, sweat, and tears (well…likely I won’t pour out blood…but you get it) to create healthy, authentic, God-honoring communities all throughout the Hendersonville/Nashville area. Absolutely stoked.

Big changes for the Reed family.

 

 

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Oops…I just “churched”

Ben Reed —  September 28, 2011 — 8 Comments

photo credit: Clarksville Now

I know that the word “church” isn’t grammatically an action verb.

But neither is the word “Facebook,” and we use it like it is.

“I’ll Facebook you later today…”

“What’s your name? Great…I’ll Facebook you!”

Neither is the word “Google,” but we verb it up, too.

“I have no idea what the population of Idaho is, so I’ll Google it.”

So can you give me a little leeway? Because last Saturday, I “churched.” By that, I mean I WAS the Church. I didn’t attend a mass. Or give my tithes. Or sit in a pew. I didn’t hand out welcome bulletins or greet new visitors.

I was “the Church” in action verb form.

On Saturday, I was a part of a mobilizing of people from Grace Community Church who worked to make a difference here in our city. We called it Operation Serve, and this is the 6th year we’ve done this. We worked in partnership with the city of Clarksville to send out over 1200 volunteers.

Some of us remodeled houses.

Some landscaped.

Some played with special needs children.

Others worked on projects with non-profits.

Did we serve because it’s the cool thing to do? Nope.

Did we serve because that’s what we were told we had to do? Nope.

We served because that’s what the Church does. The Church serves because we follow the lead of our Savior who served us. Our Savior who is in the business of making old things new again, righting wrongs, and healing the broken.

We served expecting nothing in return. We didn’t have a string attached to our hammers that said, “We will help if you _____.” We don’t serve so that we can get something in return, but because that’s what we were created to do. That’s who we are and how we love.

We serve because we’ve been served. We love because we’ve been loved. We give because we’ve been given much.

This Sunday, millions will gather to worship. They’ll “go to church.” And while that’s an important part of being a follower of Christ, we want to remind the world that we, the Church, don’t simply exist to gather in our own little huddles. The Church is here to make a difference in our community. To leave things better than we found it.

Last Saturday, we put our faith on display.

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. – James 2:18

*Photo credit: Clarksville Now

 

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Follow Friday, my coworkers

Ben Reed —  September 30, 2010 — Leave a comment

Continuing my Follow Friday series (you can catch up HERE), I thought I’d keep it in-house this week.

I love the guys I work with at Grace Community Church.  We’ve got an amazing team, with creative folks that are working their tails off for the Kingdom.  I’m humbled to be a part of the team, and work side by side with these guys as we passionately serve Clarksville.  You should follow each one of them, and hear how they’re leading in their respective ministry.

Adam Bayne - Director of Children’s ministries.  Twitter. Blog.

Michael Bayne – Director of Family ministries.  Twitter. Blog.

Christy Crosby – Systems coordinator.  Facebook.  Blog.

Ron Edmondson - Co-pastor.  Twitter.  Blog.

Karen Grizzard – Director of Volunteer placement.  Twitter.  Blog.

Melanie Hill – Director of service programming.  Facebook.

Rog Hill – Director of serve ministry.  Twitter.  Blog.

Brandon Reed - Director of college ministry.  Twitter.  Blog.

Chad Rowland – Co-pastor.  Twitter.  Blog.

Jason Roy – Worship pastor.  Twitter.

Katrina Watts – Director of preschool ministries.  Blog.

Dennis Weiland – Business administrator.  Twitter.  Blog.

 

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Laughter

Ben Reed —  May 3, 2010 — Leave a comment

An essential part of building community is laughing together.

Those I feel closest to I also laugh with.  I mean, we do talk about really important stuff.  Life-changing.  Heart-wrenching.  Tear-enducing.

But we also laugh together.  So hard that we cry.  So hard that it hurts our stomachs.  So hard that we accidentally pass gas.

And I’m convinced that it’s healthy to laugh together.  Ecclesiastes 3:4 says that there is “a time to laugh.”  Laughing together helps to build relationship.  It helps to build trust.  And community is fostered when you laugh with somebody.

Too many people think that “religion” has to be completely stoic.  To be a “good” follower of Christ means that you’re straight-faced, walk around with blank stares, and have furled brows.  But that’s just not true.

God created humor.  And if you never experience that with other followers of Christ then you’re missing out on a great blessing.

I laugh a lot with the guys I work with at the Grace offices.  At the end of one of our Sunday services, a few of us went out on stage as Adam Bayne’s “band” to help him with an announcement.  Enjoy laughing at this picture…at our expense.  Go ahead…I’m giving you “a time to laugh.”

And while you’re at it, why not invite your neighbor over for a cup of coffee, and laugh together with them, too.  Who knows?  It may be that God uses that to help you build a relationship with them that leads them to follow Christ.

 

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Jason and Kerby Harpst go to Grace.  They’re small group leaders.  They’re key volunteers in Grace Acres.  And we’re sending them out, to Costa Rica, in June.  To be honest with you, they’ve become such a vital part of Grace that we hate to see them go.  However, we rejoice with them as they are following God’s lead and leaving life as they know it in America.  If you haven’t met Jason and Kerby, I hope you get to one day.  Until then, I thought I’d post some questions to help you get to know them.

1. Where are you going in Costa Rica?
We are going to the small town of Villas de Ayarco, which is in the mountains about 45 minutes southeast of the capital city of San Jose.

2. What will you be doing while you’re there?
We will initially work with short term teams that come to Costa Rica as the Volunteer Team Coordinators for the Abraham Project.  We will also work with the children that live in any of the three orphan homes that are part of the Abraham Project.  Our vision is to set up a sports outreach program for the children and teens of the local community, where the average family lives at the “extreme poverty” level.

3. Why Costa Rica?
Costa Rica is a place we have both visited before and we saw a great need for our help.  The Abraham Project, in particular, is in need of help to expand on their vision and to reach more of the hurting people of Costa Rica through the love of Christ.  With such a high cost of living, so many of the people cannot afford food for their children everyday and the local communities are filled with drugs, prostitution and gang activities.  It is too easy for young children to get involved in these activities that are all too common for them.  If they have an alternative choice to devote their time, such as a sports program that is based in the love and need for Christ in their lives, then they have a bright future…spiritually and socially.

4. Do you see this as a temporary thing, or something more permanent?
This is a permanent move.  As we surrender to God’s calling, we feel this is a permanent move.  Not a permanent move to Costa Rica in a sense, but a life devoted to what ever God has planned for us.  Where ever He leads us in the future, we will follow in effort to reach more people around the world for Christ and expand His Kingdom.

5. What did you do prior to committing to going to Costa Rica?
I have my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and I have worked for both the Trane Company and General Motors Corporation.  My wife, Kerby, is finishing her degree in Special Education this spring.

6. Why not continue doing that?
To be honest, it would be easy to continue my work as an engineer and having Kerby work as a school teacher.  We could live comfortable lives and have a great place to raise a family in the United States but that would be our plans not God’s plans.  God has specifically asked us to give that up, and go share our love and hope we have in Him.  God calls everyone to a different path in his plan to spread the great news of Christ; some are called to only short term mission trips, some are called to support full time missionaries, some are called for local missions, and some are called to go as full time missionaries overseas.  For us, we fit into His plan as a family that will go and tell people about Christ.  It will not be easy, but we know God will provide for our needs.

7. Have you been to Costa Rica before?
I have been to Costa Rica seven times.  Six times for short term mission trips and once in January for a “pre-moving” trip and to meet with the pastor and others we will work along side with at the Abraham Project.  Kerby has been to Costa Rica twice before.

8. How do you feel uniquely gifted for what God’s calling you to do in Costa Rica?
As an engineer I am very organized which will help in the Team Coordinator aspect of our work in Costa Rica.  Additionally, Kerby will be teaching English in the daycare center at the orphanage.  With her specialty in Special Education, it will benefit her greatly when working with these children with physical and social disabilities.  We have also spent the past three years working with the children of Grace Community Church each Sunday in Grace Acres.  As far as being “qualified” to be full time missionaries, we are not, but I don’t know if anyone is really qualified.  We firmly believe in what many international mission organizations are based on.  God does not call the equipped, but instead, He equips the called.  We have much to learn about being missionaries, but our focus is on serving our all powerful and wonderful God and sharing with others what He has done in our lives.

9. What are some challenges you’ve already faced in preparing to become a full-time vocational missionary in Costa Rica?
One of the biggest challenges is seeking financial support.  We are not affiliated with any international missions agency so we need to raise 100% of our financial support.  Costa Rica has a high cost of living; where a simple $8 Wal-Mart coffee maker here in the United States costs over $30 in Costa Rica.  By not receiving any of our financial support from a missions organization, our support will come strictly from friends, family members, fellow church members, or anyone else that shares our hearts for Costa Rica.  We have had other small struggles since making the decision to enter the mission field about five months ago, but it has been amazing to see how God works and we have seen first hand what He can do if our plans are aligned with His plans.

10. What is your biggest need right now?  Is there a way we can help?
We need monthly supporters.  We have a few individuals that have been very committed to supporting us financially and we cannot express how thankful we are to have them partner alongside us.  We leave for Costa Rica at the beginning of June and what we really need right now are individuals that can commit to supporting us each month.  Nothing is too small or too big.  If you would like to support us, you can send a tax deductible check to “Grace Community Church” with a note of “Costa Rica” or “Jason and Kerby” to the following address.

Grace Community Church
PO Box 3980
Clarksville, TN  37043

You can follow us on our blog at www.todalagentecr.blogspot.com and you can always email us with questions or for more information at todalagentecr@gmail.com.

 

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Serving others

Ben Reed —  March 26, 2010 — 4 Comments

What organizations are you most proud to support/serve right now?

Here are mine:

Grace Community Church – Love my church!

Africa For Jesus – Ryan has single handedly changed the way I think about global missions.

Mission Clarksville – Patrick and Catherine Smith have launched this organization in Clarksville with the aim of giving meaningful, rigorous work to local students from each of the high schools…for the purpose of investing and maturing them.

Manna Cafe – Kenny York is bringing his passion and giftings with ministering to the homeless community to Clarksville.  Instead of asking the homeless to come to a central location, Kenny will be traveling (with hot meals) to them, aiming to meet physical and spiritual needs.

Leave a comment, and let everybody know what organizations you believe in!

 

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Being missional is God’s charge to the Church.  And being comfortable isn’t part of that plan.

For the whole sermon, click HERE.

 

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It’s all relative

Ben Reed —  February 8, 2010 — Leave a comment

I have lots of conversations with people from areas other than Tennessee (aka, God’s Country).

If they’re from further south, they think Tennessee weather is cold.

If they’re from the north, they laugh when we Tennesseans say, “It’s cold outside!”

A 50 degree day in the middle of July in Tennessee is freezing…in January, that same temperature would make for a beautiful day.

Cold…hot…it’s all relative, to a degree (pun intended).

One of the most important aspects of small group life at Grace Community Church is discipleship.  I often say to group leaders that making disciples is the #1 priority of their group.  Everything else falls under this.  If your group ends up bringing 50 new people in, meet 5 times/week, and blaze through 100 curriculums/month, but don’t help those in the group become more faithful disciples of Jesus, the group is a failure.

But I quickly follow that up with the fact that discipleship is relative.

Before you write me off as a post-modern, left-wing, “what’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for me,” spiritual person, hear me out…

A step of faith for me looks different for a step of faith for you.  It looks different for the guy who’s just checking out Christianity.  It looks different for the guy who’s grown up in Church but is far from God.  It looks even different for the student who’s been saved for 6 months and is working through different issues at school.  It looks even different for the wife whose husband is deploying (to see what we’re doing to help these women out, check this out HERE).

I’m not sure we can boil “discipleship” down to 4 easy steps.  It’s never easy…and it’s not going to be the same 4 steps for everybody.

Taking a step of faith, similar to your perception of “hot” and “cold,” is a matter of where you find yourself in life.

Has your small group helped you take steps of faith?

 

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Go Vols!

Ben Reed —  February 2, 2010 — Leave a comment

Though I could write for days and days on the University of Tennessee Volunteers, that’s not what this post is about.

I’m writing this post to thank the great volunteers that we have at Grace Community Church.

You see, each and every week, we have to set up and tear down our entire audio equipment.  And video equipment.  The entire stage.  And preschool areas.  And preschool stage.  And their computer check-in stations…which so often don’t work.  And children’s areas.  And their stage.  And their audio.  And their video.  And their computer check-in stations…which so often don’t work.  The hallway, with the banners and the tables and the countless handout cards.  The coffee.  The welcome areas.  Volunteer central.  Information central.

We couldn’t do what we do without our amazing volunteers.

 

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Throw that bathwater out

Ben Reed —  January 25, 2010 — Leave a comment

Whether you’re a church leader, a business leader, a small group leader, or the leader of a local gang, you should constantly evaluate your system.

We just had a small groups launch yesterday at Grace Community Church.  10 new small groups launched, with over 150 people committing to joining new groups.  Amazing, right?!?

There’s room for improvement.

There was room for improvement last time we had Connect.

There was room for improvement this time.

  • We had more people indicate they wanted to attend the event than actually showed up.  That’s a problem.
  • We had people attend the event, but not actually sign up for a group.  That’s a problem.
  • We had people who needed to be in a small group, but neither showed interest nor showed up for the event.  That’s a problem.
  • We had people who showed up to the event, signed up for a group, but have already sent me an email and have dropped out.  That’s a problem.

I’m not a prophet, but I’m going to make a statement that will inevitably come true: There will be room for improvement next time.

We don’t allow these problems to cripple us, but rather we learn and grow from them.  Some we can’t help.  But others we can.

I’m willing to change the system, if that’s what’s needed, in order to more effectively carry out our vision.

As the old saying goes, “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.”  But what’s often not said:

“Go ahead and throw out that bathwater.”

 

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