BeFree Alton Family Letter (October)

Hello BeFree,

Every other month the elders and I write a “family letter” to help keep you in the loop. While most of our family letters focus on things coming down the road, this one shares more about what has been happening behind the scenes. As always, the elders and I are happy to hear any questions you may have.

Monthly Prayer – When we pray, we speak to God and demonstrate our delight in him, devotion to him and dependence upon him. He is glorified by our prayers! Before church, on Sunday, October 6th, we will meet for our first monthly prayer gathering. This is a time for the body of Christ, adults and kids alike, to come before the Lord for regular, corporate and intentional prayer asking him to work in our church, our town and the world. If you miss this month, plan on attending in the months to come. I am confident that God, who hears our prayers, will be faithful to use them to accomplish his purposes.

Elders Retreat – Every year, near the end of the summer holidays, the elders set one day aside for an extended time of prayer, planning and dreaming. We look back at all God has done over the past year and look forward to seek his will for the year to come. This year, as we met, prayed and talked, three topics were central to our conversation:

  • -  Prayer for Continued Spiritual Growth – While pastors, elders, home group leaders and ministry team leaders work to plant and water seeds, it is God who gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7). So even while we spent much time celebrating fruit and considering how we might address areas of need, we gave intentional time to prayer. We thanked God for the work he has done in many people’s hearts, we asked for his wisdom in areas where further growth is needed and we prayed by name for every member of our church family. While the elders have a responsibility to care for the church, Jesus is the chief shepherd of his flock (1 Peter 5:1-4).

  • -  Leader Training – The elders spoke at length about the leaders in our church; how we might encourage and equip those currently leading and how we might raise up new leaders in our congregation. To support the current leaders, we decided to reformat our Leaders Community; breaking it into home group leaders and ministry team leaders in order to allow us to tailor our meetings to the precise needs of each group. To raise up new leaders, we decided that we would use the spiritual gift assessment in our home groups to help identify the gifts of the people in our church and then try to connect them to areas their gifts might be best used for the glory of God. Furthermore, we reflected upon Rob’s internship and considered how we might offer similar forms of training to others in our church family.

  • -  Church Planting – We firmly believe that the lakes region doesn’t need a bigger church as much as it needs more healthy churches. Therefore, it is the heart of the elders and the pastors of the other BeFree campuses, to begin intentionally praying as to where, when and how we might plant a new church in our region. While we don’t know what God will do, we are actively seeking his will as we fight for the advance of the Gospel around the lakes. Please join us in praying for a potential church plant and for the Lord’s leading in this journey.

    May our awesome God be glorified in all we do and may we be willing and zealous instruments in his mighty hands as we work to see the knowledge of the glory of God cover the earth as the waters cover the seas.

    On behalf of the elders and myself,

    Ben Ruhl, Pastor of BeFree Alton

    Elders: Everett Clark and Rob O’Blenis

BeFree Alton Family Letter (August)

Hello BeFree,

Every other month the elders and I write a “family letter” to share about what is going on behind the scenes and to take a look down the road at all that will be happening in our church family. We hope that this quick look will help keep you in the loop in the months to come.

  • -  Baptism Sunday – Baptism is a beautiful, joyful and symbolic celebration where someone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ publically declares that faith. Next Sunday, immediately after the service, five people in our family will be taking this obedient step of faith. Join us in the courtyard to celebrate all Christ has done in calling them to himself.

  • -  Last Summer Hangouts – This summer our church hosted a number of unique events ranging from hikes to firework displays. If you missed these gatherings, we still have two more opportunities:

o Next Sunday (August 11th), we will be traveling down to Portsmouth’s Prescott Park to enjoy a free theater production of “Beauty and the Beast.” The play starts at 7:00 but plan to arrive early as spots fill up quick. Bring a picnic dinner and small donation to support the play.

o On August 25th we will hold our annual end of summer party. We are still working out the details for this event, but keep your ears open for more information in the weeks to come.

  • -  Home Groups Starting – As we enter a new school year, our home groups will begin to meet again, starting the week of September 8th. All of our home groups will begin the year by focusing on the spiritual gifts; what they are and how we can use them to the glory of God and the good of the church. If you are not a part of a home group, now would be the perfect time to join! Look for more information on how to join a home group on Sunday, September 8th.

  • -  Summer Intern – About a month ago, we announced that our elder and worship leader, Rob, was going to step into the role of “intern.” Rob has already co-taught a 4-week evangelism course on Sunday mornings in July, begun his BA in theology at South African Theological Seminary and is, today, beginning a four- week sermon series on the book of Titus. We are thankful for the opportunity to continue to benefit from Rob’s ministry and are excited to see how God grows him through this obedient step of faith.

  • -  EFCA Report – In June, Olivia and I had the opportunity to attend the EFCA National Conference. This gathering of pastors, missionaries and leaders from across our denomination met for a time of worship, encouragement and handling of practical matters. This was my first time to sit under the leadership of our denomination and I came home thanking God for the group of churches he has called us to partner with in the advance of the Gospel. To read my full report on the EFCA National Conference, please visit the “what’s new” section of our website (befree.church/alton-whats-new).

    Our prayer is that God would be glorified in all we do as we seek to glorify him by loving him, loving others and making disciples. We pray that God would use these upcoming events as well as our normal rhythms of gathering and scattering to help our church family accomplish this goal in all we do.

    On behalf of the elders and myself,

    Ben Ruhl, Pastor of BeFree Alton

    Elders: Everett Clark and Rob O’Blenis