GraceConnect eNews, No. 103, Week of June 8, 2015

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
At Conemaugh Grace Brethren Church, members open their doors once a month for Ground Level, a drop-in ministry where young people can play games, get a hot meal, and build relationships with the volunteers.

Ground Level

Ground Level is a thriving teen ministry in East Conemaugh, Pa. A drop-in event garnering 25-35 teens each meeting, it is hosted by Conemaugh Grace Brethren Church, a congregation of less than 50 people.

So how does a small church, made up mostly of older men and women, have such a thriving youth ministry in the population 1,200 town of East Conemaugh?

“It is based on relationships with the kids,” says Bettie Horner, wife of lead pastor Rick Horner. “Ground Level is a place where any young person can find acceptance, belonging, hope, and support. I think the kids are just hungry for some love...for most of them, this is their only connection with a church.”

The event, a collaboration with nearby Liberty Grace Brethren Church in nearby Johnstown (Doug Black, pastor), takes place Friday nights once a month in the Conemaugh church basement, offering neighborhood kids a structure-free, fun-filled evening. Kids are treated to games and a hot meal, all in a comfortable space outfitted with ping pong, air hockey and foosball tables, couches, TVs, and several staff who get to know the teens personally.

“The idea was sparked when a young man from Liberty said he was interested in helping out with a teen ministry,” says Horner. “Liberty helped us host a Bible School in August of 2011. After seeing that many that attended were teens, the leaders sent out invitations for a Ground Level ministry in October.

“The first time, nobody showed up,” recalls Horner. “So we just prayed. The next month, there were some kids hanging around outside and we invited them in for pizza and they texted their friends and we had about a dozen show up. We’ve had it ever since.”

Horner says the event has opened a lot of doors in the community.

“Since 2011, over 225 young people have been involved in Ground Level, and we always have new kids attending. We have made a lot of connections in homes, seen several salvations, and we’ve had some families that have started to come to the church because of Ground Level. Also, through this ministry many of the kids have attended our district summer camp program at Camp Mantowagan.”

The church will periodically host an evening with a special guest or presentation such as a movie night or an evening with professional chalk artist Gino Bartoletti. Those nights garner more young people than usual and are used as a conduit to talk about the gospel.

“We’re just amazed that God is constantly drawing these kids to be a part of this,” said Horner. “They are looking for relationships with older people maybe that have some stability. I was amazed that I would end up with this large group of young people that I am involved with now…we all feel that way.”  

Click here to send a note of encouragement to the leaders at Conemaugh Grace Brethren Church.

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[Your Turn]


[Read:]

Last week's featured Instagram post (#Graceconnectsus) was Ben Russell, assistant to Pastor Randall Smith of Grace Church of Sebring, Fla. His blog post, On Creating Ourselves, discusses what it means to become who we were meant to be:

"Why is so incredibly terrifying to make the creation of the self?" he asks. "Because that is job that we stole from the Creator. We aren’t supposed to make ourself something other than God’s son or daughter. We were made to serve Him in a perfect relationship and communion with Him, our awe-inspiring, all-powerful Creator. He designed us to be designed by Him."

 
Click here to read the post. 

[Risk:] 

Cassandra Smith, contributor for CE National's OnMission Insights, shares some first-hand thoughts about getting out of your comfort zone in yesterday's post.

"The reason I chose to stay in a comfy zone of non-action is because I am afraid," Smith writes. "But what if failure is a learning moment for students and myself and not an end-determinant of my worth or value as a disciple, leader, or staff member of a church? There is more at stake than it is worth to maintain keeping up with lies of fear and failure."

Click here to read the rest of the post. 
 
[Leader's Corner:]

CE National's OnMission Insights also shared a thoughtful piece about healthy staff teams this week. Click here to read the five keys to developing a healthy staff team
 

Events in the FGBC

June 15-July 27 – Operation Barnabas, Winona Lake, Ind. (CEN)
June 21-27, 2015  Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Ontario (GBC)
June 21-27, 2015 – Encounter Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga. (EWP)
June 23-July 7 – City Life Tours East Coast & West Coast (CEN)
July 14-19, 2015 – Momentum Youth Conference, Marion, Ind. (CEN) 
July 23-26, 2015 – Flinch Conference (national conference), Newark, N.J. (FGBC) 
September 21-23, 2015 – Northwest Focus Retreat (FGBC) 
October 5-7, 2015 – Central Focus Retreat (FGBC) 
October 19-21, 2015 – East Focus Retreat (FGBC) 
November 2-6, 2015 – International Charis Gathering (Charis)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA

Send events for the calendar to lcgates@bmhbooks.com.
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