On my bookshelf and in my ears.

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Below is a collection of some of my favorite places to land — books, websites, and podcasts — as I think about kids, families, and the Bible. It is my right-now, but ever-fluid list of some of my go-tos.

Engaging in all these things — especially reading — is about doing it together. Hearing. Wondering. Sitting. Being. Together. It is often the relationship that surrounds the “thing” that influences how and what we get from the “thing”. A Bible story read snuggled up together with someone you love is imprinting more than just words. Reading is about relationship. And it is out of that relationship that questions can be asked and ideas explored — together.

I’d love to hear about YOUR favorites, too!

-Louise-

BIBLE STORYBOOKS & DEVOTIONALS

Nursery (0-2 years old)

The Look and Point Bible is fun because it is interactive; inviting the reader to, well, look  and point!  🙂

The Rhyme Bible is great for developing language skills.

A Child’s First Bible is short and sweet with a question at the end of each story.

The New Bible in Pictures For Little Eyes is a sweet classic.

The Read and Rhyme Storybook looks fun!

Lift the Flap Bible is also interactive.

The Toddler Adventure Bible Storybook looks good, too.

Found is so lovely!

Preschool (2-6 years old)

God’s Story For Me is a good collection of many stories that will enhance children’s biblical literacy.

The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible has beautiful illustrations

Jesus Calling Bible Storybook is good for a short devotional and a good way to practice listening for Jesus’ voice.

Day by Day Bible takes kids through the Bible in one year with a short story for each day.

Early Elementary (6-8 years old)

The Jesus Storybook Bible captures God’s plan for Jesus as our redeemer from the beginning and weaves it into every story.

Shine On: A Story Bible has great wondering-type questions and a variety of illustrators

The NIV or NIrV Adventure Bible is a full text Bible written in slightly modified language for early readers and listeners

The ESV Big Picture Bible is a full text Bible with illustrations scattered throughout

Jesus Calling For Kids is a sweet devotional with Scripture references making a full text Bible easier to navigate

Upper Elementary (8-11 years old)

The Action Bible has a format that kids find captivating and it can cover a lot of material, although not in depth

Wondrous Works of God and Mighty Acts of God are good companion books to one another 

The ESV Big Picture Bible is a full text Bible with illustrations scattered throughout

FAMILY DEVOTIONAL BOOKS

Teach Us to Pray is a great book of Scripture-centered family worship through the year 

Good Dirt a three volume set that takes you through the church year 

Long Story Short and Old Story New 

ADDITIONAL BOOKS and RESOURCES

The Ology is a good resource for elementary kids to read with an adult or for adult study as a way to help you explain things to kids

The Bible Story Handbook is like a mini-commentary on teaching Bible stories to kids

Young Children and Worship is the first of the Godly Play books

Following Jesus is the second of the Godly Play books

I Wonder is a good book that has great questions to get you thinking and practical tools to get you “doing”

FAVORITE WEBSITES

This site has an array of hands-on ways of praying and responding to Bible stories.

This site has some of my favorite ways to do art with kids which I then adapt and interpret for responses to Bible stories.

FAVORITE PODCASTS

This interview with Sally Lloyd-Jones is inspiring.

This talk by Rebecca Nye is helpful in talking about the spiritual development and nurturing of children’s spirituality.

 

Restoration 2025: Update and Request for Plans!

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Restoration,

We have been hard at work gathering input about the things you love about our church and the hopes you have for what our church will become.  Thank you!

This is a (long) update about what we know and what we don’t know in July 2019 about our Restoration 2025 Strategic Plan.

Here is an overview of what you can read below:

  1. It starts with a preamble that isolates some of our ‘unknowns’.  We want to acknowledge that we need to ‘save space’ for the unknown ways that God might surprise us.
  2. It then pivots to what we do ‘know’ because of your excellent feedback given through your survey responses and congregational input sessions.
  3. Then it employees a thought exercise about the answers we would like to get to a hypothetical congregational survey in 2025.  Imagine our joy in getting those responses!
  4. Finally, it asks for your input:  What plans should we put in place now in order to get the ‘2025 survey responses’ that we desire?

We are ready to read and to hear your tactical and specific ideas for plans that we should implement.  As your ideas materialize, we invite you to share them on this form.

We are SO grateful for the way our congregation has engage this process.  Thank you for praying, for responding, for writing, and for peering forward with hope to what God has for Restoration, next!  We can’t wait to see it!

-David

(As a note of clarity, when I use ‘we’, I am referring primarily to the Restoration leadership team of vestry and staff, but ‘we’ also reflects the over 300 survey responses and hundreds of sticky notes from Restoration members.)

Preamble:  Isolating Unknowns

From the vantage point of July 2019, Restoration leaders are trying to see where God is taking Restoration in 2025.  Your feedback through our congregational input sessions, hundreds of sticky notes, and over 300 survey responses has really helped the leadership of Restoration to hear what you like about and what you are longing for in our church.  Thank you.

There are a few things that affect our visibility to 2025.  They are not bad or good.  They just are.  As followers of Jesus, when we encounter stuff that makes it hard to see, we increase our prayer and we cry out for discernment.  And we trust that God will help us.  He will.

Here are the ‘unknown unknowns’ that we are trying to isolate so that we can focus on the tangible plans we want to make. 

  • Unknown #1:  We are a church full of people with ideas and resources.   The creativity and potential within our community is astounding.  We want to pursue and build the ideas we have now, in 2019.  We also recognize that lots of ideas grow here.  So we want to ‘save some space’ for those ideas that might emerge in the next 5 years.  We are not sure what it means to ‘save some space’, yet, but we know it is important.
  • Unknown #2:  We don’t know what new ideas will come through our doors or grow up in our pews.  Most of our church is in a stage of life that fosters change and transition:  Kids are growing from nursery to APEX.  Adults have changing jobs, increasing responsibility, and growing incomes.  Our area has a lot of transience.   Generally we experience a turnover of about 100 people each year.
  • Unknown #3:  Restoration has the potential for a lot (more) staff transition between now and 2025.  Specifically the addition of a new Director of Worship Arts will significantly change our most visible experience:  our Sunday Liturgy.  We must be praying every day for this person and the way music and art will change in our church.  (Remember how much staff change we have already experienced in the last 5 years: 14 people were added to our team and 9 people left our team.  That’s a lot of change for a staff team that has hovered around 8 people for those five years.)
  • Unknown #4:  What is the threat or opportunity that is represented by our mortgage due date (July 2023)?  How do we continue to be a good steward of our building-  managing the capital expense (mortgage), the maintenance expense, and seeking to make it available to everyone that we can?

We are isolating these ‘unknowns’ so that we can focus on the ‘knowns’ for which we are trying to plan.  We invite you to pray about these things.  Perhaps God will grant us more clarity in the months to come. 

What we DO know:

May 2019 Survey

Here is the most salient feedback that we received from our May 2019 Congregational Survey.

[338 total people took the 2019 survey. 

  • 82 out of 338 (24% of respondents) used the link that was sent to our core leadership team (for this document, ‘core leadership team’ refers to the 135 vestry, staff, and small group leaders of Restoration).
  • 82 out of 135 represents 61% of the people on that core leadership team. 
  • 255 out of 338 survey respondents attend Restoration. 
  • 83 respondents no longer attend Restoration.  Those who no longer attend were not given the feedback questions about current Restoration programs.]

The 2019 congregational survey said these things: 

  1. The primary things that people are looking for when they choose a church:  preaching/teaching (98%), music (85%), ability to form friendships (82%), Small Groups (81%) are things that Restoration is doing well.
  2. Restoration does a great job serving kids (92% said that Resto serves this group well) and families (91% said that Resto serves this group well).
  3. Restoration is not great at sharing the Gospel with those outside the church nor teaching people how to share the Gospel.  This is a place where we could improve.
  4. Restoration members are passionate about growth.  They want to grow closer to Jesus and they want to see an increase in the number of people making commitments to follow Jesus because of the efforts of our church. 

 

What if we offered another Restoration Survey in 2025?

The leadership of Restoration is working to articulate 2 goals that came out from our 2019 survey feedback:

  1. We want to use the resources of Restoration to seek after strategic groups of people that are under-served by Christ-filled communities. We want to build/create things together that will compel people who are outside the church to come in to friendship with Jesus and friendship with people at Restoration.
  2. We want people who attend Restoration to grow closer to God by trusting Jesus in everything and being filled with the Holy Spirit.  We think these people will have a compelling story of God’s power to restore broken people by grace which they can share with those in their sphere of influence who are not in a church.

If those goals were accomplished in the next 5 years, how might people respond to a 2025 congregational survey?  Here are some examples:

  1. In response to the question, did you decide to follow Jesus in the last 5 years, we would like over 100 people to say ‘yes’. This would be one of the products of Restoration growing disciples who tell a compelling story about life in God’s Kingdom and seeking groups of people around us with winsome invitations to consider Jesus and gracious acts of service. 
  2. In response to a question about being an active member of a small group, we would like 100% of people to have been in a small group in the previous year (1 out of 3 trimesters). We would like the diversity (kind, length, focus) of small groups to increase.  We believe that small group involvement is still the primary metric for measuring people choosing opportunities to help them grow.
  3. We would like an increased correlation between age (mid 20s to mid 30s) or location (The Orange Line Corridor) and involvement in:  a Restoration service, a Restoration small group, a Restoration mentoring relationship.  We think this group of people is strategic for Restoration because of the people who attend Restoration and the location of our building (very close to Metro).  The service or small group might be something new that we created or it could be a concerted effort to integrate people in that age and location into current services and small groups of diverse demography.
  4. In response to the question, “in the last year, how many times have you served at RILA or one of our local outreach partners?”  We would like an increase in involvement by people who regularly attend Restoration.  We think that our partnership with RILA is critical.  We want to more holistically serve RILA clients.  We want everyone at Restoration to have an opportunity to serve RILA clients.
  5. In response to the question, ‘Do you give a 5-10% portion of your annual income to the work that God is doing through Restoration?’  We would like 100% of people to say ‘yes’.  In response to the question, ‘Has this percentage increased in the last five years?’  We would like 100% of people to say yes.  We think generosity and trusting Jesus with our money is a critical discipleship issue for people in our congregation.
  6. In response to the question, ‘Have you told a friend or neighbor about your relationship with God in the past 6 months?’  We would like 100% of people to say ‘yes’.  As a follow-up, ‘Have you invited that person to follow Jesus?’  We would like 100% of people to say ‘yes’.  Restoration is currently good at engaging the nuance of spirituality in Arlington County.  We need to grow in boldness and willingness to ‘close the deal’ with our friends.

 

Plans that might lead to those survey results

If these potential survey results get us excited, what kinds of things would Restoration need to do to bring them about? 

The leadership of Restoration is very engaged in ‘plan brainstorming’ right now.  If you read these goals and potential survey responses and think of plans that might help us achieve them, we would love to know.  As your ideas materialize, we invite you to share them on this form.     

Here are some notes to help you articulate your ‘plan’ idea:

  1. Please be very specific and tactical in your plan.    
  2. If you can estimate cost in terms of dollars in the budget or hours per week needed from staff/volunteers, that would be helpful. 
  3. If your plan is to hire someone, be as specific as you can about characteristics this person would need to have. 
  4. If your plan is to create a structure or a program, tell us how it will work.  Would we need to eliminate or change a current plan to implement your plan?

To help you think of plans that might lead to those survey results, here are 4 questions to get you started.  We invite you to share them on this form.

How do we maintain/sustain and improve what we do well today.  What would help us decouple the things we do well from the individuals who do them?  

Potential things to focus on include:  Gospel teaching & worship, Small groups, Kids small groups, Global outreach

  1. In five years, what would success look like?  E.g., Restoration has amazing kids small groups, and a strong set of volunteers and clear ‘succession planning’ to backfill key staff.
  2. What are specific ideas or suggestions we should consider to achieve success?  E.g., Have each staff member/volunteer leader build a ‘handbook’ for their core responsibilities (calendar, cheat-sheet of names/numbers, policies/procedures, etc.)

 

How do we grow disciples within our church?  What plans will catalyze people who attend Restoration growing closer to God by trusting Jesus in everything and being filled with the Holy Spirit?

    1. What would success look like?  E.g., Restoration is a church full of first-time visitors and new Christians who came because they were invited.
    2. What specific ideas or suggestions should we consider?
      E.g., community/teaching events (like the technology for families event) every month
      E.g., specific classes or small groups talking about apologetics and/or how to share the gospel

 

How do we serve our local community better?  How do we grow our partnership with RILA?  Are there new local partners whom we should engage?

E.g., Restoration is known in the community for our service to our neighbors, and there are members of our church who got to know us through this service.
E.g., We have increased our support to RILA by doing…

  1. What would success look like?
  2. What specific ideas or suggestions should we consider?

 

How do we use the resources of Restoration to seek after strategic groups of people that are under-served by Christ-filled communities?  Specifically how do we seek and invite young adults and people who live along the Orange Line Corridor?

E.g., Restoration has a vibrant young adult ministry or a Fellows Program or a second van to pick people up at the Metro on Sundays or…

    1. What would success look like?
    2. What specific ideas or suggestions should we consider?

 

As your ideas materialize, we invite you to share them on this form.

We are excited to share a draft of our 2025 Strategic Plan at our Congregational Vision Night on September 10 at 7pm in our sanctuary.  Until then, please pray and share your ideas!

-David

Here is the form for your ideas.

Resto Summer Cookout!

Oak Grove Park

Summer is here! And that means it is time for the Restoration Summer Cookout!

Join us at Oak Grove Park (1606 N Quincy St. – across from where we park on Sundays!) at 6pm on Sunday, July 14.

Restoration will provide hot dogs, burgers, veggie burgers, and drinks. You bring the desserts and sides!

If your last name begins with A-G, bring your favorite dessert.

If your last name begins with H-Z, bring your favorite side!

We would also love help with setting up, grilling, and/or cleaning up!

You can sign up for all of that here!

It’s going to be fun! Bring your friends (and a lawn chair or a blanket)! Can’t wait to see you there!

NOTE: If it rains, we’ll have the cookout in the Fellowship Hall!

Ryan Goyer is joining our team!

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We’re so excited to welcome Ryan Goyer to the Restoration staff team as our new Communications Coordinator! Here’s a chance to meet Ryan before he officially begins his role on July 9.

I grew up in Sterling, VA, the son of two native New Englanders. I went to college at Christopher Newport University (which some call the “Alabama of DIII”) and spent most of my time there doing the things I love most: spending time with friends, discussing theology, playing and coaching sports, and going on long walks. Some other random affections (as David calls them): reading, watching all Boston sports teams (we’re in a golden era), Colorado (one summer out there hooked me for life), driving on two-lane roads (Georgetown Pike in the early afternoon), and getting lost in the woods (preferably in the mountains).

I came back to Northern VA to be a Falls Church Fellow (Class of 2018). During my fellows year, I worked in the youth ministry office and fell in love not only with the people but with the Anglican church. I was fortunate enough to stay on at The Falls Church Anglican this past year as John Yates’ study assistant. Needless to say, I have been (and will continue to be) richly blessed by my time as a Fellow!

After witnessing me nearly burning down the house trying to fix breakfast on a retreat, David connected me with the staff at Restoration, and before I knew it, I accepted the awesome opportunity to work here as the Communications Coordinator.

I’m excited to be a part of such a fun and kind staff team and to see how God continues to grow me through this role. Look for me early in the morning trying to practice on the piano in the sanctuary.

Abigail Westbrook has joined our team!

Abigail Westbrook, a long-time member of Restoration, has joined our staff team as the Sunday Coordinator of Kids’ Small Groups. Here’s a glimpse of her heart which will help you understand why we are all so happy she’s here loving and shepherding those in our nursery.

AbigailWestbrook

Teach me work 

Teach me work that honors thy work,

the true economies of goods and words,

to make my arts compatible

with the songs of the local birds.

Teach me patience beyond work –

and, beyond patience, the blest

Sabbath of thy unresting love

which lights all things and gives rest.

-Wendell Berry- 

I love this prayerful poem in which Berry asks the Lord to “teach him work,” specifically the kind of labor that honors His work.

Remember your first job ever? I bet you do! It was likely the first in a series of jobs, each one that brought some kind of lesson or experience. Work can be a great teacher.

My first job was Sundown Gardens, a landscaping business where I grew up in Carmel, Indiana. Great first job. Hard (and hot) work.

Much of my work in recent years has been with elementary children, but these days I’m teaching much smaller scholars, particularly toddler types. I’m grateful for this new role working alongside Louise at Restoration. I am beginning my acquaintance with these precious “local birds.” I am meeting families at Restoration as well as leading and working alongside a beautiful team of women who faithfully show up each Sunday to care for our kids.

Berry’s poem is my prayer for you, too, in your work. Lord, may our work honor your handiwork: your creation, our fellow image-bearers. May we learn to recognize the songs of our “local birds” so that we can better serve them and sing along. We seek your shalom, “the blest Sabbath of thy unresting love.”

May you walk in this truth: we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do. 

-Abigail-

Summer Small Group!

Rule of Life Slide (1)

Hi, all!

Scott Buckhout here. I am back for the summer as a Pastoral Intern, and I am excited to be worshipping and serving Jesus alongside you for the next couple of months.

Last summer, I hosted a mini-workshop on creating a personal Rule of Life, and a lot of folks showed up. Way more than I expected. But afterwards, folks wished we could have had more time to create their own personal Rule of Life.

So this summer, beginning June 27, I am hosting a small group on Thursday nights where each member will have the chance to craft their own personal Rule of Life. You can sign up for the small group here!

What is Rule of Life?

Great question!

In 534, St. Benedict was an abbot who wanted the monks in his monastery to live a more “ordered and stable” life. He wasn’t the first abbot to try such a thing, but he was the first to create a rule of life for monks that was actually livable. The monks under his care flourished and grew spiritually as they put his rule into practice. There are still Benedictine monks to this day living by the Benedictine rule for life.

Today, Rule of Life is a tool to help Christians take stock of their life in order to live faithfully, create intentional goals, and measure our progress toward our God-given callings, goals, and responsibilities.

Ok. Great. But why should I have one?

Again, you ask really good questions.

If you feel like your life is overwhelmingly busy. Or if you are in a season of questioning and discerning different aspects of your life. Or if you feel like you are doing things you don’t want to do and never getting to the things you actually want to do. Or if you feel like you have been in a spiritual rut and not growing, crafting a personal Rule of Life can be a helpful way to press pause, take stock of where you are going and what you are doing in order to see if your life reflects God’s best for you.

I know for many of us “Rule of Life” sounds restrictive or legalistic, especially when we tie it to faith. But despite the title, it’s actually the opposite. A Rule of Life is meant to give you freedom.

It certainly isn’t the only thing you can do. You can go for a walk, call a friend, pray, lift weights, take a deep breath, journal. But some of these things might be habits you want to regularly incorporate into your daily schedule and rhythms. A Rule of Life will help you find a place for them in your already packed schedule… 🙂

That’s the gist.

Ok. I am sold. What are the deets?

Awesome! Sign up here!

Beginning June 27, we will meet on Thursday nights (7:30-9pm) at Restoration in the Fellowship Hall. There will be snacks.

Each week we’ll tackle a different aspect of life, whether it is relationships, work, our spiritual disciplines, the way we treat our body, the way we spend our money, etc.

We’ll pray together. Read Scripture together. And ask some questions that will help us reflect on ways we can trust God with every aspect of our lives. Also, did I mention the part about the snacks?

Do I need to bring anything?

You, a Bible, and a journal.

Also, I learned about all of this from a good friend and mentor named Steve Macchia who wrote the book on creating a personal rule of life. I’ll be using it to structure our time together. Feel free to buy a copy for yourself if you want to go deeper. It is very well done!

Again, sign up here, or email me – scott@restorationarlington.org. Feel free to reach out with any questions!

Hope to see you this summer on Thursdays!

-Scott-

Wardens’ Report: June 2019

2019 Wardens

The Wardens’ Report: a brief summary of highlights from monthly Vestry meetings, designed to provide information about our growth, finances, priorities and progress towards our strategic plan.

At our June 18th vestry meeting, we enjoyed dinner together and prayer before starting the meeting. This month, Brad Jones led us through prayer which included a time of intercession and prayer for Isaiah Brooms, our Director of Youth Ministries. We prayed that above all every middle school and high school student who enters Restoration would know how precious they are and how deeply loved they are loved by the amazing God who created them. We prayed over and gave thanks for our youth leaders without whom APEX would not be possible. We gave thanks for how APEX has grown in the last year. We prayed over Isaiah’s final coursework as he finishes seminary and gave thanks for all he has learned during his intensive year of study. We prayed for Isaiah and his family that they would grow together as a family and they would have peace and rest. Additionally, we prayed for those sick in our community, for the hiring of a new Director of Worship Arts, for wisdom in our budgeting process, and for the Strategic Plan (Restoration 2025). As always, we invite you to join us in praying over the staff, vestry and all of God’s work on Quincy Street.

In our meeting, we received an encouraging update from Incarnation Anglican Church and gave thanks for the hard work Incarnation has done to grow into the church that it is. We began thinking and praying about who will represent Restoration as Delegates at the DOMA Synod in November.

David Hanke led us in a discussion of our Strategic Plan (Restoration 2025). We spent some time reviewing the survey results we collected last month (thank you to all who filled out the survey–every comment was noted!) and then pivoted to next steps. We continued a discussion that we began during a vestry brunch with +John Guernsey about what we dream for Restoration in five years (and beyond) and what we believe God is calling our church to do and to be. We are grateful for the work of our Strategic Planning Advisory Team and welcome your prayers as we continue working on this plan.

Brad Jones, our treasurer, led us through a financial report that showed May giving was 24% over projections bringing our current annual offerings received to just 8.75% below projections versus the 12%-below that we’ve been experiencing for several months. We are grateful for this news and the generosity of our congregation–thank you. Brad also presented two options from our finance team for fiscal year 2020 (Restoration’s fiscal year runs September to August). The vestry will vote on the budget at their July meeting. They are currently looking to hold our budget steady (which is essentially the FY18 offerings budget) or make approximately 5% in cuts compared to the FY18 budget.

Johanna Montague, one of our wardens and our liaison with our personnel team, gave a brief update on the hiring process. We are thankful for the hiring of Ryan Goyer as our new Communications Coordinator. Ryan has been in the Restoration office for training and officially joins our team in July. We are in the interview process with several candidates for the Director of Worship Arts position and we ask you to join us in praying that we find the right candidate for this position. Finally, we are delighted to have Scott Buckhout back as our summer intern.

If you have questions, concerns, words of wisdom or encouragement, please know that we are open to your feedback. You can read an archive of past Wardens’ Reports on our website or Vestry Meeting minutes on CCB, under the ‘Files’ tab in the ‘Entire Church Group’

– Chris Belen and Johanna Montague, Wardens

 

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