Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Yes, Jesus is Here!

(The following is an excerpt from an email recently sent out by our Director of Worship and Music, Amanda Weber. In it are some amazing faith stories of kids, youth, and families at New Day that we think will warm your heart!)

... New Day UMC is home to me. It will never be my “home church” like Coon Rapids UMC, but it is another place I feel like home – I suppose it’s like having all of my “second moms and dads.” Our faith community is small but growing in so many ways. Most of the people in our congregation grew up without a church home at all, or have not been a part of one in many years. It is our mission field; we are “journeying together, encountering Christ, and growing in faith.” That’s our mission statement. If I were to sum up my life with Solid Rock (Coon Rapids UMC's traveling youth choir), that’s the best way I could put it. That’s what this mission is all about – whether it’s at Coon Rapids, or Andover, or Big Lake, or Mexico, or from Coast to Coast and Boarder to Boarder across North America.

At this juncture in life, my mission field is Big Lake, MN. I serve a growing worship community of people thirsting for Christ, asking for more of His Word, wanting to live life together, and to serve Our Lord more. It’s incredible to be a part of that each and every week. I was able to lead almost 30 kids and youth in a Christmas musical in December, and after that, they were begging to continue, so we are working now towards a spring kids & youth musical called “Down By the Creek Bank” ....

I don’t know all of the numbers to be exact, but we have over 100 “regulars” now at New Day (not always weekly, but becoming more and more active as time goes on). This morning (March 21) we had 25 children and about 10 youth in church – out of 69 people total, and we were missing several more families. They LOVE to be at church; they run to the door smiling on their way in. Because of limited resources, our children’s group (1st-5th grade) and our youth group switch off which Wednesdays they meet. Both age groups want more: they want to meet weekly. They are curious and inquisitive.

Their questions about God and the Bible never cease to end. At youth group the last couple of times, I had questions asked of me from as simple as, “How did the snake in the garden talk to Adam and Eve?... Snakes can’t talk.” to deeper questions about why the Jews and Romans wanted to kill Jesus as a criminal if He was supposedly “perfect” and not a sinner. They want to know what it feels like to “experience God.” They want to know how to recognize His voice.

One of the two year olds asked his mom after Solid Rock Singers concert finished singing, “Mom, is Jesus here?” She started to say “no” - but caught herself. She told him, “Yes, Jesus is here.” He pointed a direction and asked if Jesus was over there. She said He is here with us always, but we can’t see Him. This family has 6 kids – from that two year old on up to a senior in high school. This is the first place they have felt like “Home” in a church – a place their whole family enjoys. And how amazing is it when a two-year old makes us stop and think so deeply about our faith – and helps us to truly “experience God” and His presence?

One youth has been singing with our Praise Team off and on for several months now, but I’ve never met her parents. Her mom drops her off and picks her up. The youth usually is there alone and sits with the rest of us adults on the worship team, unless other youth are there. I never had much of an opportunity to ask her about her parents – the timing just wasn’t right. Last night after Solid Rock left the church to head home though, my youth stuck around. We had some great fellowship time as a small group and got to know each other better. This youth expressed that her mom was not a believer; that she had told her daughter years ago that the Bible was “Fictional.” The faith in this young high schooler amazes me. To have faith when your parents don’t and to seek out a church home on your own... When you didn’t grow up in the church... It just shows me even more how truly amazing God is. GOD IS GOOD – ALL THE TIME.

New Day’s youth and children swarmed me after Solid Rock sang for us at the Carousell Works – both Saturday night and again on Sunday morning. They were GLOWING! They want what the youth at CRUMC have – they aren’t looking for a place to perform – not at all – they are looking for a ministry to touch their lives, their hearts. They are looking for a place where they can truly “Journey Together, Encounter Christ, and Grow in Faith.”

This morning several of my youth came up and said, “We want to go on a mission trip this summer!” First I thought, “whoa.... We’re still growing!” They must have read my mind’s hesitation and concern... They want to do something here... locally... They don’t care... They just want to do something that makes a difference. They want the “God High” I experienced for years with SRS and at Star Lake and JUMY’s and UMY’s.

These are just a few of those stories of new found faith. I am at New Day for a reason. Not many people my age had the opportunity to be a part of something so impactful like I did. The youth at CRUMC are blessed; I truly hope they know that and appreciate it for all it’s worth, because I have youth begging now to be a part of something similar. Because of my experiences with Solid Rock, I am now able to follow God’s lead and to help create new opportunities for such amazing encounters with Christ.

... Always and Forever,
Your Friend in the Faith,

Friday, March 19, 2010

And the Award Goes To ...

Greetings Everyone!

Once again we are in the midst of a whirlwind of spirit-filled activities here at New Day! It’s been more exciting than the Academy Awards (at least to us). In case you haven’t been able to catch all of our recent releases, here are the highlights of our special features:

Sweethearts’ Delight – A romantic-comedy which opened Valentine’s Eve. Entire families enjoyed an evening of special activities in which the sanctuary was transformed into a dreamscape complete with balloons, dance floor, and full-flowing fountain for the adults, while the youngsters were entertained down the hall or at the bowling alley. 50 people enjoyed this debut. A sequel will be coming out next year.

Expo 2010 – A blockbuster which hit the town the first weekend of March. 2,000 eager attendees swarmed through the high school doors to take in this ever-popular annual event sponsored by the Big Lake Chamber of Commerce. Held on a Sunday morning and afternoon, this double-feature revolved around trying to clone the pastor so he could be two places at once. 600-700 visitors walked away with New Day coffee sleeves, coffee candies, coffee cups, and coupons for free coffee mugs. Tagline for this showing: At last a church that wakes me up! We hope to capture the buzz of next year’s expo as well.

Death by Fundraising – A suspense-drama which may keep you up at night (as it has for its church-planting leads). This classic saga captures the epic quest for survival of the young and faithful as they seek investors for their God-given visions. Will there be enough treasure found in time? Will they beat the odds with the help of outside angels, or will they crash in defeat after coming so far? No one knows how this one will end, but faith, hope, and love prevail throughout.

Solid Rock – A musical of youthful vitality to get your heartbeat a-pumpin’. Opens tomorrow night (March 20) at the local reception hall (Carousell Works) for a one time performance. Presented live by the Coon Rapids United Methodist youth, this special community event comes to Big Lake thanks to the heartfelt talents and connections of New Day’s Director of Worship and Music, Amanda Weber. A spin-off group of up-and-rising younger singers will be presenting their own inspiring performance at New Day on April 24th-25th; reserve your seats early since their last performance brought out record crowds last December.

These are the most recent highlights from New Day. The outreach to the community continues; new people continue to visit us each week; children continue to love our childcare room and new ministry programs; more and more adults are deepening their connections to God and each other; and the Holy Spirit continues to transform lives for Jesus Christ. Although the challenges are many, the people of New Day deserve all awards for the major and minor roles they play. For them, and all of you, we’d like to thank the Producer of us all!