At KidsClub I teach grades 4 and 5 boys. This group is the smallest which is not surprising. I think it is around this age that boys start finding religion a little “feminine”. For example singing and dancing during worship is not something that boys are eager to do.
My class has four regular attendees, Christian, Jacob, Martin and Tristan. It has been a bit harder for me to connect with them than my Sunday School grades 4 and 5 boys from several years ago. This is because I do not know the parents, I have less time with them and it’s hard to hear them above the din of all the other kids.
Yesterday was a better day with the boys as I got them to interact more with me. KidsClub suggests various activities for the groups and yesterday those activities worked well with my boys. First they played a memory verse game and then I had them write down their five favorite things which somehow they really enjoyed doing. I also asked them to tell me their favorite restaurants. Here are their responses.
PS2, transformers, GameCube
Hometown Buffet, American Diner
TV, Wii, my room, toys
Old Spaghetti Factory
Cold Stone Creamery
ThinkPad, MacBook, TV, iPod Touch, bed
I asked the boys for their favorite restaurant because I was thinking of taking them out one on one for dinner so I could get to know them better. But Ji Seon thinks this is not a good idea, that the parents might think I am some kind of child predator. The negative consequences of an aware society.
I never thought I would see an openly Evangelical Christian after schools program in a liberal state such as California. But our church, GrX, runs such an after schools program at Dylan’s former school, Ponderosa Elementary. The fact that such a program exists is a testimony to the vision and relationship building skills of Helen Chae, Pastor David Chae’s wife. The Chae’s live in Ponderosa and have committed themselves to supporting Ponderosa Elementary. Helen Chae has a great relationship with the principal, Meg Jackson, a kind and obviously open-minded person.
Yesterday was the first day of Kids Club. Ji Seon volunteered to lead the Grade 1 group. This year’s leader of Kids Club is Sara Chon and she asked me to volunteer so I agreed. I ended up not doing much, just registering children and providing snacks.
Dylan and Isaac are both in the Kindergarten group. They made an exception for Isaac who is too young and for Dylan who does not attend Ponderosa since Ji Seon is volunteering. Yesterday they had a raffle (they do this every week with the tickets children get to encourage participation) and Isaac won one of the raffles. He picked a Spider-Man water bottle.
I think over sixty children showed up. And these sixty children were Europen, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, African. And many of these children are not from Christian homes. These children worshipped God with songs, played games, did crafts, and ate snacks. Overall I think they had fun and it’s just amazing what God is doing here in this community.
GrX, my church here in Silicon Valley, started the Unstoppable Campaign 18 months ago. Its name is based on this verse.
Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.
Acts 5:38-39 (New International Version)
It is a bold, almost arrogant campaign. How can a church of a few hundred people expect to bring the gospel to the Bay Area, let alone to nations and regions like Kenya, Cambodia, Thailand, East Asia? Though I have some questions about some specifics of the campaign overall I enthusiastically applaud this campaign for its courage and vision.
I was part of a smaller campaign back in Boston with Highrock Church and the pinnacle of that campaign was the purchase of a church building in Arlington. Similarly here the pinnacle, or at least the bulk of the resources of this campaign, will be going to a church building, a much more expensive building in Santa Clara. I saw what an incredibly positive effect having a church home did for Highrock and I am looking forward to a similar effect with GrX.
To celebrate the halfway mark of the Unstoppable Campaign, GrX had a special service for all of its three locations (now four since the service), called God of This City. Below is the promotional video.
I thought Pastor Dave Chae gave a great speech summing up what GrX is all about, gospel transformation. I feel blessed to have been a member of two churches, Highrock and GrX, that believe so much in gospel transformation. I so much liked Pastor’s Chae’s speech, especially the contrasts between Jesus and us, that I asked for the transcript which he emailed me. Here it is, I hope you enjoy it.
For the past 7 years including the last 18 months we’ve been guided by a single vision – vision for gospel transformation.
This vision that we are forgiven and valued, stirred 13 of us to travel 400 north from Irvine to plant GrX Sunnyvale.
Three years later in 2005, God led 40 people to start a similar venture in San Francisco.
Then in the fall of 2006, we launched GrX Fremont. And in November of this year, we’ll be launching the Bridge Church in S. Jose.
We’re here today because we believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection means everything to us.
This is the essence of the gospel.
His shameful death is our pride.
His condemnation is our salvation.
His submission is our humility
His sacrifice is our forgiveness.
We are released from the power of sin forever!
But the benefits don’t stop there. We’ve also been given value and status. We are children of the Living God.
We are a new creation.
Jesus’ perfect life has been credited to us as if we are perfect in God’s eyes.
We have value.
We have significance.
We have worth.
What was given to us, faith, can never be taken away by bad works.
What an incredible exchange!
All of our sin for all of God’s forgiveness and value. What a Great Exchange! (2 Cor. 8:9)
So that’s what we named ourselves – The Great Exchange
Practically, we believed that if transformation is going to happen, we needed to continually make this great exchange, exchanging sin for grace every day.
We called this preaching the gospel to ourselves.
Just as caring parents and resources are necessary to grow up a child, we believed that community, the word of God, and service were all necessary ingredients for spiritual transformation.
We wanted to be a place where people could come, get connected through small groups, and experience the love of forgiveness and value of God.
We wanted to be a place where people got built up through scripture, prayer, and service.
We wanted to be a place where people could serve out of their gifting in ministry locally and globally.
During Soul Food (the free meal time after service) Ilene set up four buckets with her’s, Dave Swaim’s, Josh Throneburg’s and Ryan Yi’s names on them (see photos of them here). People were asked to donate money and who ever had the most money in their bucket would get slimed. Ilene said it was a race between her and Josh but that Josh “was presiding and abused the pulpit” by “telling everyone to put money under” Ilene’s name. In the end Ilene lost or won depending on your perspective and slime (green oatmeal) was poured all over her by Dave and Josh. Notice how Josh poured it all on immediately but Dave wanted to savor the experience and poured it slowly all over her. 🙂
The fund raiser was a big success. I miss Highrock, it is a fun place. 🙂
I’m famous, or at least YouTube famous. This video was a promo for the 2005 Highrock All Church Retreat. They asked me to be in it as a representative of families with children. In other words I’m the oldest guy in the video. 🙂
You will see me right at the end of the video. One regret I had was that I did not bring in Dylan or Isaac (I don’t remember which) into the video at the very end.