Local Missions At NewPointe Millersburg

This past Sunday I spoke briefly about some of the local organizations that we support.  Here is some information on those organizations.

Each campus at NewPointe has a local missions budget that allows us to support and partner with local organizations and help people in our community. Here in Millersburg we have a partner relationship with several organizations. Some we support monthly with a financial contribution and some we work with by providing volunteers, promotion of their services and fundraisers.

We work with organizations that are well run, that help people in need and that are Christ centered.

The three organizations we support financially on a monthly basis are:

  • Love INC (In the Name of Christ) is a non-profit organization that works with all other non profits, churches, government agencies and individuals to help people in need. Basically they try to match people in need with churches, organizations and individuals that can help them best.  They also identify services that are not being offered and help churches get those ministries started.
  • For more information about how to volunteer or send support, contact:  Vicki Conn Executive Director of
    Love INC of Greater Holmes County, Director
    PO Box 144
    Millersburg, OH 44654
    330.473.6017 (office) or email loveincofghc@gmail.com
  • Young Life of Holmes & Tuscarawas CountyTheir vision is that, Every adolescent will have the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ and follow Him.  Young Life is active at West Holmes they also are active at Garaway.  For more information about how to get involved contact Libby Pacula at mlpacula@gmail.com.
  • Here are some of the things that the volunteers at Young Life do:
    • Praying for young people.
    • Going where kids are.
    • Building personal relationships with them.
    • Winning the right to be heard.
    • Providing experiences that are fun, adventurous and life-changing.
    • Sharing their lives and the Good News of Jesus Christ with adolescents.
    • Inviting them to personally respond to this Good News.
    • Loving them regardless of their response.
    • Nurturing kids so they might grow in their love for Christ and the knowledge of God’s Word and become people who can share their faith with others.
    • Helping young people develop the skills, assets and attitudes to reach their full God-given potential.
  • CRU at Ohio State University – Quin Strouse– to contact Quin about how you can help, email him at qstrouse.9@gmail.com
    • Cru at Ohio State (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ).
    • Quin is a graduate of Ohio State, he got involved in Cru there, it changed his life and he felt called to continue in the footsteps of staff that changed his life and do the same for future students .
    • Quin Provides leadership to a ministry called GreekCru specifically for Greeks/men in fraternities, 40 young men are involved.
    • He has worked with Cru for 2 years.
    • Cru at Ohio State has 700 students involved.
    • Quin is passionate about this ministry and is pouring his life into these students every day. I’m so encouraged with his ministry because he shares stories of life change and keeps us up to date on what is happening in the ministry.
    • Students are realizing and reaching their full potential in Jesus Christ through the work of Quin and others at OSU.

We support and promote these organizations as we are able, through one-time donations, volunteers, promotion and participation with events they organize:

  • Local Food Pantries
    • Millersburg Church of God Food Pantry – We are currently partnering with them to distribute food to elementary school students in West Holmes School District that are on the lunch program.  We package food and send it home with them on Friday so they have food for the weekend during the school year.
    • The Love Center – Food pantry and free medical clinic
    • Glenmont Food Pantry
  • H15 Teen Center in Millersburg – still being organized: for more information email the director at director@h15ministries.com
  • OneEighty formerly known as Every Woman’s House
  • Share-A-Christmas – We participate every year
  • Blessing Design Team a ministry of Barb Chalmers
  • The Christian Children’s Home of Ohio located in Wooster.

I want to encourage you to be generous and give to NewPointe so that we can continue to support these organizations or give directly to them.  If you have any questions you can contact me at cstutzman@newpointe.org

A Key to Stronger Relationships

compassion

I’ve been studying the idea of vulnerability and how that plays out in our relationships.   Brene Brown has some incredible insights on this tough topic.  Much of this post is based on her research.

One of the things that keeps us from being vulnerable is shame.  Shame thrives in secrecy, silence and judgement.  However when we introduce empathy, shame cannot grow.  So in order to be open and vulnerable we need to be around people that are great at empathizing and we need to learn how to be empathetic with others.  Learning how to be empathetic is one of the most powerful ways to improve your relationships.

In order to be empathetic we need to be able to see the world as others see it.  This is all about perspective, being able to take the perspective of another person and not our own.  It’s being able to listen to someone and not interject our own experience but to really what to hear it from them.  It’s not one upping the person by sharing what you did or how you messed up.  It’s being able to realize that our lens of life and our experiences are different than others and being OK with that.

Empathy also requires that we are nonjudgmental.   Most of us are  judgmental and we are usually judgmental in areas where we are vulnerable to shame.  We tend to judge people that are worse than we are so that we feel better about ourselves.  We do that because we are looking for validation that at least I’m not as bad as so and so.

Empathy is not our default or natural mode, it’s a skill that must be worked on and developed in order for this to happen naturally.  Empathy is usually very subtle, it can be just a knowing look or going to be with someone in a time of crisis instead of calling to express sympathy.

When we empathize with someone, we go to that dark place with them, we don’t flip on the lights and try to cheer them up and fix the problem or make light of the situation.  It’s like walking up to your friend that is in a hole and going down into the hole with them, but knowing how to get back out of the hole because it’s not your hole.  Sympathy is walking up to the hole and asking what happened.  When they tell you, you express that your sorry to hear that, that’s a terrible thing.  Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.  There is a big difference.

When we empathize with someone, we are creating a safe environment for people to be vulnerable.  Being vulnerable is one of the most accurate measures of a persons courage.  To be vulnerable takes bravery, because it is walking into uncertainty, it’s taking a risk and it’s exposing your emotions.  It takes courage because the reality is you can get hurt when you do this with someone that is not able to empathize or keep things confidential.

However if you live in secrecy, and silence you might feel safe, but are most likely miserable.  When we are vulnerable we are our true self.  We are showing that we are imperfect, messed up, awkward and goofy.  The greatest relationships are the ones where you can be all  of that and the person loves you even more.

So if your looking to improve your relationships, first learn how to empathize better with the people around you. Work on those skills of listening and trying to understand their perspective.  Don’t try to fix them or the situation, but let them know we can do this together.  Then work at being vulnerable with the people in your life.  Expose yourself emotionally by being honest about your struggles and your shame.  When we do that there is incredible freedom and life when we push past our fear.

 

The Game Changing Relational Skill

Empathy is critical to emotional health. This is the ability to discern emotions in others and then experience, within ourselves, the same emotion. This is much different than sympathy, which is the mental awareness of what another person is going through.

Developing the ability to empathize is important if you want to improve your relationships and get healthy emotionally. Why is it important to be healthy emotionally. Well, I believe that our emotions play a big part in our physical and spiritual health as well. Emotions live inside us and if painful emotions are living inside you they eventually come out in behavior, thoughts and attitude. Unresolved emotions can lead to physical illness and mental damage as well. It also affects your relationship with God.

Emotions should not control us, we should understand and control our emotions. We should not try to shut off our emotions or hide them, that is why empathy is so important. It helps us to connect with and understand other people much better.

To develop empathy we must learn to listen and observe words, sounds and body language. Jesus was amazingly empathetic. He was moved with compassion as he discerned the needs and pain of others. Read Mathew 9:36 and 20:34.

When we can empathize with someone three things will happen:

1. The other person will feel that someone cares for them and is willing to enter into their emotional world.
2. They feel like someone understands them.
3. They feel that it’s ok to be emotional and express emotions, in other words, my emotions are legitimate.

All emotions can be grouped into two categories: Potentially painful and potentially positive. The Bible teaches us how to attune or empathize to these two groups of emotions. In Romans 12:15 it says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”

When someone is sad, we often think it is important to try to cheer them up. That is our natural response, but what is actually most helpful is to be sad with that person. Seems odd, but that is what empathy is. The people around us will feel blessed when we allow and encourage them to express their positive or painful emotions and we either rejoice or mourn with them.

This life skill of empathy is a game-changer for relating to other people. This skill allows you to connect with people in a way that helps them feel safe and valued. They will actually feel better after talking with you than before. It also helps you to better understand why people do what they do.

As a mentor and a pastor this skill has helped me to help other people. When people cannot process their emotions with someone they end up in a downward spiral that leads to destruction of relationships, and their physical well being. It often causes them to feel distant from God as well. To stay healthy emotionally a person must be able to process and express their emotions to God and other people.

As a leader, spouse, parent, boss, employee, sibling or friend, the ability to empathize will improve your relationships and deepen them as well. Learning this skill takes time, effort and patience. Paying attention to the details, asking the right questions and sometimes just being silent and feeling the emotion the other person is feeling. This can be hard work and frustrating at times, but in the long run empathy leads to better emotional health for you and those around you.

How to Help Without Hurting

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need and has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:17-18

My takeaway from that verse is that Christians need to be doing more not less to help those in need. There are two kinds of responses people can make to this verse.

  1. “I just don’t care about the poor, My life is all about me and I like it that way”
  2. “I can’t wait to help the poor! The love of God is in me”

I guess there could be a third response of I have thought about helping the poor, but just don’t know how.

A word of caution to the people with response number two. There can be mixed emotions and motives behind wanting to help the poor. Here are some possible motives:

  • A need for meaning and purpose in our lives
  • A desire to feel like we are the answer to someones problem
  • To be a bit like God – it makes me feel good to try to save or help poor people.

The danger is to unintentionally reduce poor people to objects that we use to fulfill our own need to accomplish something good. Really the answer for all three responses is that we need to be reminded of the Gospel every day. We are all broken and poor in some way. It may not be financially, but it might be relationally, emotionally, spiritually or physically. We need to be reminded that Jesus paid it all and covers all our sins and short comings. So we are not on this earth to fix ourselves or other people, we are here to love God and love other people.

Our approach to helping poor people should be to love them. Taking the time to build relationships, to listen to their story and really care about them. It means taking a longer term approach with people instead of a quick fix like paying a bill for them, or buying them groceries once. Often times we like to swoop in and help someone out and then never interact with them again. That usually confirms to that person that they are poor and feeds the shame they feel. It does not help that person heal emotionally or to mend broken relationships or build new healthy relationships.

Here are five principles we can use in our approach to giving:

  1. Give yourself first – First give yourself fully to the Lord and then to other people. This means viewing ourselves as servants, here to serve and love others.
  2. Give to the point of sacrifice – We should not just give our leftovers, but our best. We should give the first 10% of our income to God through the local church. We should give above that if we are able. We should give our talent, abilities and experiences to helping others through the local church or non-profits. We should give our best time, by planning out when we can serve and help those in need.
  3. Give willingly – giving should be voluntary and not out of obligation, but out of love. Giving is a privilege and a way of worshiping God.
  4. Give what you have – We cannot give what we do not have. We can give our money to healthy organizations, we can give our talent to help our churches and healthy non-profits, we can give our time to people and organizations as well.
  5. Give with a plan in mind – Desire is not enough, there should be a deliberate setting aside of time, talent and treasure. In other words, we need to plan out our giving. Find the right church or nonprofit that we can work with to make a difference.

In order to really help someone we need to understand if they need relief, rehabilitation or development. In many situations, relief is not needed, but rehabilitation or development is needed. Relief should go to the severely disabled, some elderly that cannot care for themselves, the very young, orphaned children, mentally ill homeless and victims of natural disaster. Most others may want relief, but need rehabilitation and development.

Most people are poor because of broken relationships. Development looks to help restore and to build healthy relationships. This takes time, patience and work. We should not do things for people that they can do for themselves. When we step in and do things for people they can do for themselves we send a message to them that they are incompetent, hopeless and helpless. Instead we should work with them to help them improve their lives. This is the helping in truth part from the opening Scripture.

This holiday season, I want to encourage you to think long-term if you want to help someone in need. If you are not willing to do that, then it would be better to not get involved. You can still help by giving to organizations that have this approach. Here are some organizations that my church supports. NewPointe Community Church also has this approach of mentoring and working long-term with people to help make big changes in their lives. We might help them financially along the way, but it is part of a plan for helping them grow and change.

May God Bless You With Discomfort

I read this today in Michael Hyatt’s Blog and thought it would be worth sharing. This is a different way of looking at the world around us. I have been challenged lately to love people better. Jesus told us to love others like we love ourselves. I am not sure I can say that I do that every day. So here is a prayer for me and for you:

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to our children and the poor.

Amen

I hope that was as inspiring and challenging to you as it was for me. I want to challenge you to start praying that prayer and asking God to make you uncomfortable. Compassion and love for people is not a feeling, it is an action – Go make a difference!