The internet is a horde, a vitriol mob of perpetual outrage. Each day elicits new battles to fight and new controversies to analyze. Competing tribes narrow each day the line in the sand drawn yesterday. Watchman have stood the walls of our culture decrying and warning that the schismatic vile spewing from social media feeds demolishes public discourse and weakens society. Though the past was not an idealized age of peace and charity we blissfully remember, we sense intuitively that something has gone awry.Read More
In the Fall of 2016, my church launched community groups. For us, community groups are multi-generational, home-based, sermon discussion small groups. We’ve been encouraged by the great participation from our church body, but now several months into these groups, I’m encouraged to observe how these groups are changing our church’s culture and equipping the saints. Here are a few anecdotal observations about the ways community groups have changed our culture at Forest Hills Baptist Church.
1. Community Groups Provides a Ripe Environment for Disciple Making
I’m convinced that programs don’t make disciples, people do. We’ve designed our community groups to be as bear-boned in their structure as possible. The intention was not to create another complicated program for people to follow, but to form an environment in which personal disciple making happens. By the grace of God, we are beginning to see such disciple making occur. Members are discussing their struggles and seeking encouragement for one another. Relationships have grown out of these community groups, nurturing a culture of personal disciple making.
2. Community Groups Have Increased Attention for the Sunday Morning Sermon
The climax of our worship each Sunday occurs when the Scriptures are opened, and we hear and respond to the word of God. Because these groups are sermon-discussion based, its encouraged community groups participants to listen carefully to the message. They listen to the pastor much more intensely and digest the material through copious note taking. Knowing that they will be gathering with their group that night to discuss and apply God’s word, the accountability of community forces them to engage with the sermon personally.
3. Community Groups Form Multi-Generational Relationships
Many churches struggle with an age chasm between generations. Many churches still structure their disciple making strategy around age-segregation. I’m convinced such practices are misguided, and can actually hinder Titus 2 type relationships from developing within your members. When all the older men and women are sequestered off from the younger members, how will such disciple making occur? We’ve sought to be intentional in forming community groups at the start with a multi-generational ethos. In the majority of our groups the 70-year old saint is meeting with the young mom with a brood of children. By bringing the old and young together, this has already begun to bring unity across generations.
4. Community Groups Stir Missional Fervor
Many of our community groups are beginning to think together how they can reach their neighbors for Christ. I’ve been encouraged by one group recently who has taken it upon themselves to provide meals for a neighbor who just welcomed a new baby into their home. Such outreach has begun to occur organically, without any prompting or prodding from the pastoral leadership. It turns out that as people live life together in community, they look for ways to share the Gospel and reach out to others.
5. Community Groups Have Provided a Pathway for New People to Get Connected
One of the greatest challenges as a pastor is helping people go from Sunday morning visitors to community participants. Community groups have provided an excellent first step in helping new people get connected to the life of our church. It provides a safe and non-threatening environment to built relationships with other members in our congregation. It also allows our members to utilize their gift of hospitality to open their homes to outsiders, something the New Testament very much calls us to do.
Life in Community
God has used community groups to bring spiritual growth in our church. As our people live together in community, dig into the Scriptures together, and care for one another, changed lives are the inevitable result. Though we are only a few months in, it’s encouraging to see the way Community Groups have begun to change the culture at Forest Hills Baptist Church. If your church offers something similar to community groups, I’d encourage you to get involved. After all, the Christian life cannot be lived in isolation, but we must habitually meet together, so that we can encourage one another as we wait for the day of the Lord to draw near.
If your a member of Forest Hills and your reading this, and your not in a community group, what are you waiting for? Sign up for one online at our website!
If you are a frequent reader here, you will have noticed that there hasn’t been many posts recently. I’ve kept many a plate spinning these past six months and I had to let one drop. That plate happened to be the blog. By the grace of God the other plates remain in rotation. Yet, I hope to jump start this blog this week posting on a more frequent basis. My family and I just came back from a week of vacation and I’m feeling recharged and refreshed. My schedule slows down a bit over the summer, so I have a little more energy to devote to the blogosphere. I hope to have some new posts this week! Stay tuned!
2015 was filled with God's blessing on the Deeter family. As I look back over the past year, I'm amazed at God's grace to us. For many of our friends and family, we keep up with one another online. So, I wanted to write a brief update on our family and share some ways you can best pray for the Deeter family for 2016.
In 2015 we welcomed our second Child, Elizabeth (Ellie) Grace Deeter, into our home. Adding a second child proved to be both chaotic and wonderful all at the same time. The second child does go by faster, as she is now ten months old! Her feeble legs are close to walking, and she roams the floors looking for food to eat (She stays hungry!). She looks just like her mommy, and has mastered the word "Dada," much to Daddy's pleasure.
Jude will turn three in January. We are already planning his Captain America birthday party. He has morphed from a baby to a little boy this year. He is full of energy and full of love, a little boy with a sweet and tender heart. Jude loves going to church, playing with cars and trains, and annoying his sister. His speech development continues to progress as Kaitlyn and I are dumbfounded with where he picks up all these funny phrases (I guess he gets them from Mommy and Daddy.) Just the other day on Christmas morning he opened up a present and cried out "That's what I'm talking about !" He is full of life and fills our home with laughter and joy.
Kaitlyn faithfully fulfills her God given call of motherhood. We are blessed to have her stay home so she can fully devote herself to her motherly calling. The woman was born to be a mother. She loves and cares for our children well, and teaches them so much about God and his Word. Kaitlyn is the love of my life, and that love only deepens as I watch her sing "Jesus loves me" to my children at bed time. She stays busy with MOPS and with church life. She is preparing to teach a woman's Bible Study starting in 2016 on the book of Acts. Her evenings are normally filled with diligent studying.
We are also enjoying our new home. As of October 2015, we have lived in our home a full year. Our house continues to be a blessing and a tool for ministry. Though we have had a few challenges with repairs and such, homeownership has brought such joy.
I continue to serve as the Senior Pastor at Forest Hills Baptist Church. The church has largely become our Wilson family, and with each day my love for these people deepen. As in any church, there are great joys and great frustrations, but God continues to be good to Forest Hills as we submit ourselves to his word. We are preparing in 2016 to celebrate 100 years of God's faithfulness as a church. At Forest Hills, I have a wonderful team of pastors and staff to help share the load of ministry. My co-laborers have become my very best friends. Everyday I get up and I look forward to serving the Lord and serving the people of Forest Hills.
As many of you might know, I began my studies for my PhD at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, studying historical theology under the advisement of Dr. Nathan Finn. I just completed my first semester and I loved every minute of it. This semester has stretched me as thinker, writer, and theologian in ways I greatly needed. I've grown a great deal academically this year, and I've met some wonderful people along the way. The work is rigorous and time demanding, but God continues to be faithful to get me through.
This year was sort of an off year with blogging. Since Ellie Grace's birth and starting the PhD program at SEBTS, blogging has largely taken a back seat. However, I plan to increase my efforts for 2016. Over December I've redesigned the blog and plan to post more regularly. Each week I plan to write one or two original posts on theology, the Christian life, or the church. Also each week I will continue the series Praying the Psalms. This is an expositional series through the psalter that I'm writing for Forest Hills for our Wednesday night prayer meetings. I also plan to have a recurring series on Friday called Reading for Your Weekend which will be a collection of my favorite links from the previous week.
I see this blog as an extension of my ministry. I pray that the musings and thoughts from this blog would serve you well, deepen your faith, and increase your joy in Christ. If you ever find anything I write helpful, you are welcome to share it with others.
Looking forward to 2016
Overall, I'm blown away by God's faithfulness in 2015 to my family, and I can't wait to see what he has in store for 2016. If you remember us in your prayers here are some ways you can pray for the Deeter family.
- Pray for the health and growth of Jude and Ellie Grace, that they would grow in wisdom and in stature.
- Pray for Kaitlyn as she manages our household and cares for two crazy preschoolers. Also pray for her as she teaches this Bible study through Acts.
- Pray for me as I pastor Forest Hills. Pray for growth (both numerically and spiritually) and for steadfastness as we move into the future.
- Pray for my studies at SEBTS, for both time management and mental dexterity.
- Pray for this blog, that God might use it to bring glory to his name!
It is not Christmas without Christmas music. Music has a way of moving the soul and engaging the heart. As Christmas approaches, I've had these two albums on repeat. If you have yet to check them out, do so.
1. Behold The Lamb of God
The album Behold The Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson is one of his bests. It is a concept album revolving around the theme of Christ's incarnation. There are some amazing tracks on this album. A few of my favorite are So Long Moses and Labor of Love. Here is a sample via youtube.
2. Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus in Song
Prepare Him Room is a Christmas album put out by Sovereign Grace Music. Filled with new songs and creative reductions of old favorites it is worth a listen. Perhaps my favorite song on the album is an original called Who Would Have Dreamed.