One small group option… Christianity explored

unnamedThis trimester one of the small groups on offer is Christianity Explored.  We’re going through the Gospel of Mark to answer three big questions:

1. Who was Jesus?

2. What did he say and do?

3. Why does it matter?

We’ll first establish whether Mark is worth reading from a historical standpoint at all (spoiler alert:  we think it is, but it’s an important question to work through).  Then, week by week, we’ll go through Mark and answer the bigger questions by asking lots of smaller questions.  If Mark’s gospel is an accurate portrayal of events 2000 years ago then we should be able to squeeze real answers out of his book.

The course is relational, conversational, and (hopefully) unintimidating.  We’ll share a meal, someone will give a short talk, and then we’ll enter into conversation.  There is no expectation of theological knowledge coming in and no expectation of commitment going out.  We won’t pray or sing or ask anyone to read scripture out loud.  We’re aiming for interesting and intelligent discussion, while also providing an environment where doubt, ignorance, or curiosity can be safely expressed.

So why should you either come yourself or be praying for people to come?

“…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” (1 Corinthians 15:17)

If Jesus did not rise from the dead, Christianity is a terrible deception.  Paul did not pretend that religion for its own sake was worthwhile.  This course is a safe place for people to engage directly with and account of Jesus’ life for the first time to test and see for themselves whether the claims of Christianity are true.  God doesn’t expect us to be second-handers.  He gives us his Word and Spirit so we can know first hand that Jesus rose from the dead and then understand what that means for how we are to live.

Philip heard “[the Ethiopian court official] reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ ”  (Acts 8:30-31)

People need to hear and understand the gospel before believing it, but it can be awkward to get the conversation started.  This course gives you an opportunity to simply invite someone to come along with you and participate at your (and their) comfort level.  You get to be just another person at the dinner table, eating and having conversation.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Mat. 28:19)

If you have never sat down yourself and worked your way through a book of the Bible, much less sat alongside someone else and worked through a book of the Bible with them, then you should come.  One of the natural things to fall out from this course is the recognition that Mark (indeed, the whole Bible) is a cohesive story, meant to elucidate true events.  It’s meant to be read, evaluated, wrestled with, questioned, and digested.  The only qualification is a willingness to take the book seriously and to ask serious questions.  We are going to do that, and once you’ve seen it done you can do it yourself.

That’s it.  We won’t pray or sing or make any altar calls.  You can ask any question you want.

Come.  Bring friends.

Contact:  Michael and Jennifer Dodson. mike.jen.dodson@gmail.com.

Meeting:  Thursdays. 7pm. Northern Alexandria.

Ready to Sign up? here’s the link!

Giving thanks for our leaders

Giving thanks for our leaders

 

The book of Hebrews says…

Remember  your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and  imitate their faith.  Jesus Christ is  the same yesterday and today and forever.  Hebrews 13: 7-8

Over the next couple of weeks, Restoration will conclude a few significant programs before taking a break for July and August.  APEX has already finished up, Tri2 of small groups ends next week, and our last day of Kids’ Small Groups is June 29.  Hundreds of people have benefited from the incredible people who volunteer as adult, Apex, and kids’ small group leaders.  HUNDREDS!!

The encouragement from Hebrews is to remember these volunteer leaders–  meaning to give thanks for them, to think about them, to be deliberate in praying and articulating gratitude for them.  They have opened their lives to us.  They have helped us wrestle with the Scriptures.  They have taught us how to make crafts.  They have asked hard questions and encouraged us to pray for each other.  They have let us learn from their faith and trust in the goodness of God.

Our Kids’ small group leaders have served at great cost to themselves.  Since we have gone to one service, they have not had an option for corporate worship on Sundays.  Our adult small group leaders coordinate child care, get snacks, study Scripture, and THINK ABOUT YOU all week long.  Our Apex leaders have been covered in cheetoes and asked insightful questions and given up Sunday nights to love our middle and high schoolers.

Would you consider how to thank them over the next couple of weeks?  Send them a note.  Look them in the eye and affirm their gifts.  Seek them out and tell them how grateful you are.

I do not take these servant leaders for granted.  Restoration is chock full of people who want to give and who want to see folks walk faithfully after Jesus.  I thank God for them everyday.  Would you join me?

Thanks Small Group Leaders.

-David

P.S. Want to become one of these servant superstars?  Drop us a line.  There is always room for more.

 

 

Summertime with Job and David….

imgresSummer is a’comin! Daydreaming here about all the good things:  beach trips, barbecues, chatting with friends on the deck….  But oh the sadness of  no more  small groups until September….

But wait!

Don’t worry!

We have a solution!

Once again our wonderful David Griffin has graciously agreed to lead a Summer Small Group – to which all are warmly invited!

Dates: July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, and Aug. 6, 13, 20, and 27 (all Wednesdays), at 7:30pm.

Venue: will start in the Treehouse at Little Falls – until we are in our new building (hoorah!)

Topic:  Job and the Justice of God

David writes: The issue of God’s goodness and justice is one of the biggest intellectual/emotional stumbling blocks the church faces in our postmodern society. Rejecting any easy answer to the problem of suffering, the book of Job is of great pastoral service for those who are in pain. Along the way, we’ll look at both ancient and recent interpretations of Job, including modern literature and art that wrestles with the book (e.g., Kafka’s The Trial, the play J.B. by Archibald Macleish, etc.).

Interested? Sign up today!

Questions? Email Liz Gray or David Griffin for more details!

 

Engaging Cambodia

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When we started coming to Restoration, our first small group leaders were Jesse and Sarah Blaine.About ten of us met weekly in their tiny Arlington apartment – young singles, newly marrieds, married with kids (us), and empty nesters. Jesse’s roguish passion and Sarah’s amiable charm put us at ease and challenged us to take this following Jesus business seriously.

Fast forward four years – Jesse and Sarah are still some of our favorite people, but now they live a little further away, in Phnom Penh. Their shared passion for Christ led them to the neglected orphans of Cambodia. Through World Orphans, they are introducing foster care to the country for the first time and challenging the existing church, small as it is, to care for abandoned kids.

Our church is also deeply committed to the International Justice Mission, and on Easter Sunday we were privileged to hear about IJM’s ongoing work to rescue victims of human trafficking in Cambodia. In keeping with Restoration’s tradition of giving our Holy Week offering to a ministry that cares for the world’s most marginalized peoples, this year we gave  $11,416.31 to IJM Cambodia.

So our small group decided to try something new. This trimester we’re hosting a group to explore how to engage our Restoration mission partners in Cambodia. We’ll work to strengthen our relationship with IJM and the Blaines, learn about the history, culture and contemporary Christian experience in Cambodia, and consider how our church might strategically, creatively and authentically serve Cambodians with the love of Christ.

If you know the Blaines or appreciate IJM, we’d love to have you join us this term. Come for dinner and discussion as we learn and pray together about how to serve these friends in mission. As my wife likes to point out, you can’t find much more Biblically faithful ministry than loving orphans: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction…” (James 1.27).

I hope Jesse and Sarah have a little bigger apartment in Cambodia… I wonder whether one outcome of the small group might be to design a family friendly mission trip to bring the love of our church in Arlington to the Blaine’s new home and friends in Phnom Penh. Just like our first small group – with singles, marrieds, marrieds with kids and empty nesters. Just like the family of God.

Hunter Weimer

(Small Group #10; 6:30 pm – Wednesday – Karen McNeilly and Kelly Ingebritson – Anyone welcome – Kids welcome – Engaging Cambodia)

Pequeño Grupo Bolivia

IMG_3373 - Version 2DID YOU KNOW… there are more Bolivians living in northern Virginia than anywhere else in the world outside of Bolivia?! Well now you do  🙂

AND…do you by chance have a heart for Latin American immigrants and culture? (and speaka da Spanish or Spanglish??) Well even if you don’t meet any of these criteria, we’d love to have you join this small group – where we’ll focus on ways Restoration can engage Bolivians in our community and abroad!

Some background….from Kate Raymond.

There were many elements of Restoration that piqued my interest when I first started attending, and I was particularly interested in finding out what kind of outreach the church participated in. I quickly learned that Restoration reaches out in a local AND global way. Every Sunday I would hear updates about our involvement – from Cambodia and Turkey to West Virginia and our own backyard in Arlington.

This trimester, God has blessed us with the exciting opportunity to discuss bridging local and global outreach related to a particular country – Bolivia. Mitch and Susie Wallin, as well as Endel Liias and I, are thrilled to be leading a small group that will explore ways to connect with Bolivians in our local community and build relationships with people in Bolivia.

Locally, we are interested in finding ways to minister to Bolivians and address needs they may have. This could include language training, vocational guidance, legal assistance, and access to healthcare.

Globally, we will explore ways to establish relationships within the country of Bolivia. We will be praying through the potential long-term partnerships with the Bolivian Anglican Church and the possibility of sending Restoration-ites on mission trips to build relationships face to face and witness what God is doing in Bolivia.

We don’t yet know where this journey will lead but we are excited for what God has in store for this group. We would love to have you join us this trimester as we learn, pray, discern, and discuss the prospects of building bridges with Bolivia!

Kate, Endel, Susie, Mitch

Want yet more  small group options? Read the Tri 2 booklet

A small group option…

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Are you new to Restoration?

Are you curious about what we believe?

Are you working out what you believe?

What is God’s big story and where do you fit?

Or are you just looking for a convivial small group to get connected into life at Restoration?

This trimester our small group will be using a book called ‘Starting Point’ by Andy Stanley to tease out the answers to these questions and more!

Come and ask all those questions you never know who to ask; all those questions you’ve been too shy to ask; all those questions that seem too obvious to ask…

We will chat, eat snacks, probably have a glass of wine and let the conversation unfold.

Thursdays 7.30pm at the Grays. Sign up here. It’s going to be a great trimester.

Not quite what you are looking for? Why not browse the SG tri 2 booklet to choose a different group? And sign up for a small group today!

Liz and Simon

Two Small Groups

Last trimester Rachel and I led a small group called Welcoming the Stranger that focused on connecting with immigrants in this area.  We talked about making practical life choices that allow this to happen, from budgeting a little extra time to chat with the person behind the counter at the convenient store, to teaching ESOL, to inviting a neighbor over for dinner.  But at the most basic level our conversations were about being intentional and open with the people we encounter in our lives.

This trimester, Rachel and I are leading a group focused on evangelism as a continuation of last trimester, precisely because we see evangelism as a lifestyle of willingness to be open and engaged with the people around us.  

coffee_shop_conversation

Too often evangelism is viewed as a sales pitch that is either unappealing or intimidating.  But we view it as an act of love and honesty that should be part of normal conversation: love by offering hope that actually relates to the needs in others’ lives, and honesty by being willing to say how our belief in Christ relates to the situation at hand.  We want to learn how to do this more effectively and more often, and we’d love it if you joined us in exploring this topic.  We’ll talk about how to do this with people of different cultural and religious backgrounds, friends, coworkers, and family.  We’ll be meeting on Wednesdays at our place in Cherrydale.

Another great continuation of last trimester will be a group called Christianity Explored, led by Mike and Jen Dodson, who were also part of the Welcoming the Stranger group.  Their group will start with the basics by orienting people to the Bible as a whole and then walking through the Gospel of Mark as an introduction to Jesus.  This is a great opportunity to bring a friend who is interested in Christianity, and is appropriate for people of all cultural backgrounds.  It’s also perfect for a Christian who either wants a refresher course or is interested in seeing how one might go about introducing someone to Christianity.  They will meet on Thursdays in Alexandria.

I recognize that for some of us (myself included!), both of these groups could seem a little intimidating.  But a goal of these groups is to give people the opportunity to learn how to relate to the idea of sharing Christ: by just doing it.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email (clay@restorationarlington.org), or you can just go ahead and sign up!

 

-Clay

Your heart and money

How you spend your money tells a story.  It’s a story about what is important to you, about what really matters in your life.  It’s a story about where your heart is.  Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Where’s your heart?  If the story your financial life is telling is a lot different that the story your heart yearns for, then this course may be good news.  You can change the story, you can start a new story.

If this speaks to you perhaps you would like to consider signing up for our small group this trimester, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace Course? imgres Although you may learn all about saving money, getting out of debt or building up a healthy retirement nest egg, the goal isn’t really about money at all.  It’s about living and giving the way God designed us to.

This small group is for anyone.   Perhaps you are just out of school starting your first job or you are newly married and trying to develop your financial plan with your partner.  Maybe you have young children, find yourself without a plan and little time to start one or your children are growing and you’d like to teach them differently.  It could be you have decided that 2014 is your year to take control of your finances or just maybe 2014 is your year to see what God has in mind for you financially.   Our stories may be different but we are all need a plan.

This small group will meet on Wednesday evenings at the Kenyon’s home in Arlington.  Our time together will include a video, discussion, fellowship, prayer, and yes…. a snack!  We will build relationships together, support one another and provide accountability for our goals.  Material are $95 but please don’t let that be your block to signing up.  Talk to us.  Do you have questions?  Contact Kathy or Matt Kenyon anytime, our contact information is on CCB.  We look forward to seeing you.

‘Forming’ Small group

Is anyone else overwhelmed by all of the awesome options for small groups this trimester?  I feel like a kid in a candy store or better yet, an adult in the Apple store! 
I’m so excited to invite you to a wonderful new small group that’s focused on learning to hear God’s voice.  We’ll be using curriculum called Forming by David Takle, which is part of the Thriving Recovery Life Model suite of materials.  bklet_front_page2-page72
 
This course has changed my life.  I used to be spend my quiet times praying monologues, waiting for God to speak to me but often just hearing silence. The harder I would try to change my life or listen to God, the more discouraged I’d become.  I became tired of performance-driven, “row harder” approaches to spiritual growth.  
 
Because of this and other Life Model course, I’ve learned to dialogue with God and listen to his voice.  I’ve heard the Lord tell me things that range from profound to deeply healing to really funny.  Instead of rowing, I feel like I’m sailing: catching the wind of the Holy Spirit, joining with what He’s already doing to create change in my heart and life.

If this sounds like something you’ve been longing for, check out this brief video about Forming and sign up for Small group #26 on Thursdays at 7pm.

Please note: Books and materials are $40 per person. If this is prohibitive, please ask for a scholarship!

–Amy Kress with Elizabeth Boesen and Brian Barnett

Anglican — what’s that?

I’ve been told by Liz and David that shameless self-promotion of our small groups is perfectly acceptable, so here goes:

You should really join my small group.

David with fellow Anglicans in Nairobi

David with fellow Anglicans in Nairobi

Why? Because we’re going to be talking about what it means to be Anglican. After all, it’s a third of our name. The “Restoration” part comes from the big project God is up to in the world, and the “Church” part is pretty self-evident. But that whole “Anglican” bit? Not so much.

“Anglican” is part of our name. And it’s the name of our denomination. But it’s more than that. I describe Anglicanism as a particular way of being a Christian. It’s certainly not the only way of being a Christian. But it’s a really good one. And at Restoration, it shapes our worship, grounds our theology, provides a pattern to our spiritual lives, and connects us to an entire community of Christians throughout the world.

So why would you want to learn more about what it means to be Anglican?

  • You, like me, are kind of a church nerd, and just think this stuff is interesting. [Crickets…]
  • You really like Restoration, but you don’t really know why we do a lot of the stuff we do (like reciting scripted prayers, or baptizing babies, or making the sign of the cross, or having Communion every week). You’d like to learn more about the church, what we believe, where all this stuff came from, and why it’s relevant today.
  • You’ve decided Restoration is where you belong, and you’d like to take the next step in your faith commitment — by being confirmed.

What’s it mean to be confirmed? I’ve written about it more extensively here and here (ignore the date-specific details — the posts are a couple of years old), but the brief explanation is that confirmation is an opportunity to make a public declaration of your Christian faith, to express your desire to live out that faith in an Anglican context, and to have a bishop lay hands on you and pray for you to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit for the work God has called you to do. It’s a powerful experience.

Greg, a Restoration member who was confirmed last year, described why he was choosing to be confirmed:

My time at Restoration has truly cemented much of the transformation that was begun in 2005.  Restoration truly has been a source of healing from wounds that I am still identifying. Communing with fellow members weekly, hearing the word from David, singing as a community with Matt, and our fellowship with Erin, has given me a taste of the redemptive beauty of the body that Christ suffered and died to create. The intimacy that Elaine and I shared with Ray and BJ during pre-marital counseling offered a glimpse of the type of fellowship described of the Churches in Acts. And, perhaps most important of all, I am astonished by the beauty that is the Anglican liturgy and the manifestations of our faith at Restoration. My confirmation in the Anglican Church of North America is the next step of God’s redemption of my life.

If you’ve experienced something like Greg has during your time at Restoration, then confirmation might be a great next step for you.

Bishop John Guernsey will be visiting Restoration on March 30, 2014, and he will celebrate confirmations then. If you would like to be confirmed, you must be part of this small group. But the small group is open to everyone, whether or not you’re interested in confirmation. We’ll meet Monday evenings beginning on January 27 from 7:30 – 9:00 pm in the Library at Little Falls.

So go ahead and register today! Questions? Leave a comment below, or hop over here and choose “Confirmation” from the drop-down menu.

– Erin

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