We’re so thankful that Summit is a place that is filled with people and families like this. God is good. If you’re interested in participating in the Every Child Initiative, visit www.everychildswfl.com
Here at Summit we have something called The Every Child Initiative. Although this ministry started about 8 years ago, it’s possible that not everyone knows exactly what it is. The Initiative was born out of a desire to be increasingly intentional about the way that the church pursues caring for the orphan. By “orphan” I mean the vulnerable, the unprotected, the needy, the abandoned, and overlooked children right here in our own community and those that are all over the world.
We aim to envision and equip the people of Summit Church to engage in caring for the vulnerable in a number of different ways including adoption, foster care, serving as Safe Families, volunteering as Guardian ad Litems, participating in the fight against human trafficking, and advocating for life for the unborn.
As believers, we understand the important role that this kind of service has in the life of the church as well as in the life of the community. Caring for people is important. Culture agrees. For us as the redeemed, though, it comes from a much deeper place.
Culture “acts”, but as Christians, we respond. We respond out of an appreciation for the love of God that has so graciously enveloped us. We respond out of gratitude.
It’s personal and pervasive.
For us, this kind of care is a natural overflow of the love and grace that we have been given. It’s what marks us. It’s how the world recognizes us as Christians- by our love. We extend ourselves in love because we have been so lavishly loved by God.
The Every Child Initiative exists to glorify God by envisioning, equipping, and empowering disciples to have gospel impact in the lives of vulnerable children.
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1
“Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.”
Will you take a minute to remember with me?
Think of your own Grace Story. Remember when the Lord brought you from death to life? Think of your condition before you came to know the saving love of Jesus Christ. Were you lost? Far off? An outsider? Misled? Striving? Confused? Hopeless? Lacking? Without a future? Anxiety- ridden? Alone? Desperate? Not good enough?
As you have come to know the unsearchable riches of His great love, what are some of the words that you would use to describe God’s gracious dealings with you?
Made an heir?
Given peace, comfort and a future?
These truths are the believer’s inherent reality. If we have put our hope and confidence in the saving work of Jesus Christ, all of this, and more, is ours and we will spend the rest of our lives discovering the unending goodness and love of our Heavenly Father.
Because we remember, we respond
It is out of the true realization of this great love that we step into action. 1 John 4:19 says that “we love because he first loved us”. Our earnestness is rooted in a robust understanding of God‘s love- sacrificial, without expectation of anything in return, giving the very best, working for our highest interest, undeserved, extravagant… Understanding that kind of effusive love evokes a response and fortifies the faith we need to live the abundant life that we have been given. In our actions, we have the opportunity to reveal our beliefs, our gratitude, and our trust. How we respond to God’s love is how we love in deed and truth (1 John 3:18)
Every November, the Church worldwide recognizes Orphan Sunday as a day to remember the Orphan and to call the Church to action. Caring for vulnerable children is just one of the many ways to live out the gospel and to live into our faith. As the body of Christ, we have the common experience of redemption, rescue, and unconditional love. Out of this shared experience, we are called to plead the cause of the vulnerable. And though it can sometimes feel intimidating, the Bible says that in knowing Christ, we have everything that we need for life and godliness (1 Peter 1:3). We are a people that are uniquely equipped to endure difficulty as we are ever learning to set our minds on things above and learning to find our joy and hope in Christ alone (Colossians 3:1-2). We are a people who are made to persist, as we are deeply and firmly rooted in the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17). We are a people who are sustained by the comfort of our God, as He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). And we are a people who are hopeful as He promises to make beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3). We are a people made to live out the mystery of faith and the paradox of Kingdom living… compelled to love, empowered to emulate, and blessed to suffer.
As we empty ourselves, though it might be costly, we find more of Him.
The gain is worth it- to know Christ, to know the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, to become like him in his death (Philippians 3:7-11). Somehow in the economy of Christ, we find that to give is to gain, and to lose is to win.
*First, will you remember your own grace story? Would you share it with at least one person today? Would you remind yourself of how the Lord has rescued and redeemed you?
*Second, will you take time to ask the Lord what He may have for you? Maybe it is time for you to engage in one of the following ministries. Or perhaps you’ve been serving in one particular area, but now the Lord has a new work for you. No matter what, you won’t want to miss out on whatever He has for you in this season.
Here are a few of the opportunities within our Every Child Initiative that you can be praying through-
*Life advocacy- Do you have a heart to care for women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy? Could you walk alongside them through a season when they might otherwise feel alone and unsupported? Would you advocate for their unborn child?
*Anti-trafficking- Would you want to step into the fight against modern day slavery? According to DCF, in 2017 there were 366 cases of human trafficking in the Suncoast region of Florida (this region includes SWFL). And those were just the cases that were reported. Do you have a heart to care for people who have been abused or exploited… to show them hope and to help them find healing?
*Adoption- Do you feel called to be a forever family for a child that needs a loving home? There are 140 million orphans worldwide, with 111,820 children in the United States waiting to be adopted. Here in Southwest Florida, there are 50 children in the system right now needing forever families.
*Foster Care- What about the 569 children in foster care in just Lee and Collier counties? Could it be that the Lord would have you step into caring for these kids that are right here in our own community needing care and protection?
*Global Orphan Care- Maybe the Lord has given you a heart for the vulnerable in a particular country? Are you burdened by the agony of food scarcity, lack of education, poverty, malnourishment? We can help connect you with organizations that provide for the needs of vulnerable children in different parts of the world.
*Guardian ad Litem- Could you stand in court for children in our community and speak on behalf of the child’s best interest? As of this past August, only 63% of the children in care in SWFL had Guardian ad Litems. Would you consider lending your voice and your heart for their cause?
*Wrap Around Care- Could you sign up to bring a meal to a family that has recently brought a foster or adopted child into their home? You have no idea what a significant blessing something as simple as a meal can be to a family. It lets them know that they are not alone. That they are supported and loved by their church family. What about providing respite care for foster families by offering to care for their foster children when they need to travel? Would you consider serving families by mentoring, tutoring, or babysitting their children?
* Most importantly, would you simply commit to pray? Pray for the children. Pray for the families they represent. Pray for those who have already stepped in and are caring for them. And pray about whether you the Lord would have you step in? Will you ask the Lord to let you see what He sees? To let what breaks His heart break yours as well?
*The last ask is this- Would you join us on Sunday evening, November 11, 2018 to spend an evening worshipping the Lord and praying for vulnerable children. Many of our partners will be there for you to meet and to answer your questions. The service will be from 6pm- 8pm at the University Campus.
As believers, we were made for this. We were made to lay down our lives on behalf of others. We were made to carry to gospel into dark places and offer hope. Once again, we have this opportunity put before us. Would you take time this week to remember what you have been given and then see if the Lord might be calling you to respond to these particular needs?
What if this November you are being invited to go deeper?
What if you are being called to a place where you might have the opportunity to know God more intimately?
What if, by God’s grace, you have been invited to emulate the Father in rescue, adoption, bringing in, giving comfort, and seeing restoration. Will you step in?
Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude as we recall your goodness to us… your grace… your personal and redeeming love. Help us to never lose sight of the tremendous gifts you have given us in our salvation through Jesus Christ, our adoption as sons and daughters, our anchored hope, and our promised future.
We seek you alone as we put before you the many opportunities to participate in the advancement of your kingdom. We ask for your direction. We ask for clarity and discernment in what you would have us pray through and possibly even step into.
Show us where fear is hindering our faith and allow us to know your perfect love in a way that moves us beyond ourselves. Remind us of your faithfulness and power. With you, all things are possible.
Lead us and sustain us as we step out further. Give us a heart that says yes and fortify our yes for even the most challenging days. Surrender our souls to your perfect will. To you alone be the Glory forever. Amen.
To learn more about The Every Child Initiative, please visit us at www.everychildswfl.com.
Fall Retreat 2018 Recap
by Cayla Reis
After months of planning, preparation, and prayer, Fall Retreat 2018 was finally here! On Friday afternoon, Ignite students started to flood into the Embassy Suites in Deerfield Beach more than ready to take a break from school and work. While checking students in, I could easily distinguish the Fall Retreat veterans from the newbies. Those who had been there before had high expectations for the weekend, while the new(er) students, though excited, had no idea what great things were going to happen in the span of just a few days.
That night, Stephen kicked off our first session by introducing us to the book of Ruth and its redemptive narrative, which gave us the foundation to our weekend’s theme: redeemed. By looking at the story of Ruth over the next two days, we learned that God often empties us of ourselves and all that we tend to hold onto so that He can fill us back up with His abundant, life-giving provision. Out of His great love for us, He helps us recognize our need for Him and redeems our lives by rescuing us from trouble, restoring us to new life, and loving us with an unwavering commitment. These truths sank into the hearts of all the Ignite students as we listened, worshipped, and discussed what we learned in our discipleship groups.
While worshipping in the back of the room each session, God allowed me to witness a beautiful increase of genuine worship and passion amongst my peers. As the days and nights progressed, I watched with tears in my eyes as the amount of students raising their hands and purely worshipping the Lord grew substantially. At one point, the entire band stopped playing and the sound of more than 140 voices filled the room, praising God for the freedom that can be found in following His way over our own. I couldn’t help but wonder who would hear these words of worship flow out of the room’s double doors. As for me, it was a sound I hope to never forget.
Like any good retreat, we were also able to have a lot of fun through team competitions and games. Some of the favorites were life-sized hungry-hungry hippos, headphone karaoke, and human bingo to name a few. In addition to the fun, friendships were formed over the weekend, developing over meals, throwing the football near the ocean, listening to music, tanning, having late night heart to heart talks near the pool, walks to the pier, midnight runs to iHop, or watching the sunrise. The more we learned about each other, the more we realized the beauty and strength that comes from doing life with the diverse family of God.
On Sunday morning, 11 other students and I got baptized in the ocean (where we braved a crazy amount of seaweed) to publicly declare that Jesus is Lord of our lives! I couldn’t think of a better way to close out the weekend than sharing in the celebration of what God has done in our lives and the hope of what He will continue to do in us and through us.
Emptied. Filled. Redeemed. Little did we know that these three words would help us realize the powerful love of God and the realities of His redemption from the story of Ruth. I know that I can speak for all the Ignite students when I say that Fall Retreat 2018 was unforgettable, and we are beyond thankful for the prayers of the Summit congregation on our behalf. We left this retreat refreshed by God’s Word, deeply connected to old and new friends, and refueled to change the campus culture at FGCU for God’s glory and renown.
This past weekend, we poured out of our weekend services and flooded our neighborhood Publix grocery stores in order to demonstrate our love and care for the less fortunate by stocking our local food pantries. The response was overwhelming! Our 3 campuses, along with our church-plant partner Fort Myers Community Church, generously purchased and donated nearly $50,000 worth of groceries to two of our community partners, Interfaith Charities and Helps Outreach. Thank you for representing the Lord well as we strive to give every man, woman and child repeated opportunities to see, hear and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ!
We have the privilege of developing and teaching character education with five of our local school partners! This week we’re teaching kids how to:
1. Treat others right
2. Make smart decisions
3. Maximize your potential.
While we can’t openly proclaim the gospel in the school, this tangible act of service to our schools and community has opened numerous doors for us to share Christ with individuals and families in need. Pray for our team that they would love our teachers and schools well this week! Pray also for continued opportunities to proclaim the gospel to every man, woman and child!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed, behold; the new has come. – 2 Cor. 5:17
Last year’s Fall Retreat was where I first experienced the truth that what Christ did on the cross was for me too. Yes, even me.
I grew up with divorced parents and wandered for the next 16 years dead in my sin. Truthfully, it was only because of a friend’s perseverance to get me to go on the retreat that I got into a car with some other guys heading to Deerfield Beach.
I spent the first day with my GoPro and a journal, sitting on a big rock, staring into the depths of the ocean. I reverted back to a familiar place in my mind, sifting through the sadness and shame I felt for the things I had found happiness in before. It was there, in my nothingness, that things began to happen (which I couldn’t explain at the time). I met two guys from IGNITE, John Michael and Darius, right there on the beach, and they invited me to walk with them. I had a lot of fear leaving that rock overlooking the ocean and that place in my mind. I was way too comfortable there.
Later that day, we all piled into the hotel ballroom for the first session taught by Jim Murphy on 2 Corinthians 3:1-4:6. He spoke on the weight of the gospel. I thought I knew what the gospel was, but really, I had no clue. To me, it was just a bunch of words.
We went on to play team games, go swimming, and eat at IHOP. I remember sitting at dinner with a couple guys, talking about our highs and lows of the trip so far. Most of the lows were about the drive to the retreat, but their highs sounded exciting. I didn’t really have any highs. And if I did, I left them back at that rock. “I guess being here is pretty cool, and getting to meet you guys and hear about your lives,” I said.
When we got back to the hotel, someone I had met before back at FGCU invited me to walk the beach with their small group. We ended up walking for nearly 40 minutes to a fishing pier where we sat for another hour. This time brought about a unique sense of freedom I had never felt before: openly talking about my life with a community that genuinely listened and cared for who I was as a person.
I shared my story with them—how I grew up, what made me the person I was, and who I still was at that time. My shame had haunted me for years, and it only took a three-hour discussion at 2 a.m. on a beach with people I had never met before for me to realize how dead I was inside and how broken my life was. I heard the gospel that night, for the hundredth time. But this time, it wasn’t just words. This time, I understood. It was while I was walking on the beach, laughing in a hot tub, praying at the IHOP, playing games of spike ball, listening to the speaker sessions, and participating in small group time and worship that I realized I was not who I was supposed to be.
The next day I talked with Stephen, our College Minister, about being baptized on Sunday morning. He told me he was excited and that he’d be going through the baptism interview process later that night. Truthfully, I had no idea what baptism was. I just knew it was something everyone looked forward to doing and watching. Someone I was getting to know better walked me through it. “It’s an outward expression of an inward faith; a type of celebration that displays you, as a new creation, proclaiming that Jesus is Lord in front of and with your new family.” I asked him what he meant by a “new creation.” He took me to 2 Corinthians 5:17 where it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed, behold; the new has come.”
I got bug eyes from reading that verse. It meant that I no longer had to be “the reason” my parents divorced. High School and college rejections didn’t hold my identity anymore. I didn’t have to be a slave to the abusive friendships I was chained to. Sports didn’t have to be a false source of life anymore. I wanted a new life, deeply rooted in the perfect love of Christ. Some friends had prayed for me that night, that God would not only see my brokenness, but that He would know it from the very day it started. That the blood of Christ would drown my shame, my sadness, and my hurt. That the Father would save me and make me a new creation, and make me look more and more like His Son, Jesus, every day for the rest of my life.
Later that night, I sat down with Stephen and my community group leader, Iggy, for the baptism interview. They asked me to share a little bit about who I was, and it wasn’t 30 seconds into it that I found myself again longing for the love of Christ. God didn’t let me sit on the verge of crying. No, He wrecked me. After telling my story, Stephen told me that he thought God would love to adopt me into His family. The hinges went flying, tears were rolling, and I found myself joyfully hugging two brothers of my new family. On Sunday morning, I and seven others proclaimed the name of Christ to hundreds of people, gathered on the beach (some of them weren’t even part of the retreat).
The IGNITE Fall Retreat spearheaded my path: I became a covenant member at Summit, began serving through the church, walking in discipleship at IGNITE, found restoration through the Recovery ministry, became certified in biblical counseling, and I am now interning with Summit Students at the Naples campus.
Now, I ask that you would join me in praying for this year’s Fall Retreat. Pray that the gospel would lead the next student off his or her rock and onto their knees. Pray that those who come without many friendships would be willing to join others in worship, games, dinner, and find their place in community. Pray that our leaders would be faithful representatives of Jesus! Pray that true friendships would be formed. But most of all, pray that the Holy Spirit would open eyes to the beauty of the gospel, and many, many more students like me would be saved!
- Robby Barr
The day finally came. After weeks of prayer, leader training, and connecting with new freshmen at orientation, the first IGNITE of the semester arrived. I saw the look of pure elation on the student leaders’ faces as 300 college students crammed into Summit's Galleria for coffee hour.
For those of you who don’t know, our coffee hour runs immediately before our Tuesday night gathering at the church. It’s another way for students to get connected and meet others in the ministry. A ministry partner of ours, Ride Nature, supplies our coffee.
To say it was an amazing night would be a massive understatement. I had new students rushing me at the end of the night overjoyed that they had found this type of community within the body of Florida Gulf Coast University. Bella, a young woman I had encouraged to attend, was hugging me at the end of the night saying, “This was the closest I have ever felt to The Lord.”
I am encouraged not just by the response of the students to our gathering but that 300 college students were presented with the gospel on that night alone.
While the gathering itself was clearly a wonderful blessing, the mission of giving every college student repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel is moving forward outside of Tuesday nights as well. In order to personally engage with new students, IGNITE offers “Coffee Connections,” in which one of our leaders will take a new face (we call them “new friends”) to get a cup of coffee (we buy) in order to get to know them, answer questions, and, hopefully, welcome them into the community. Incredibly, over 350 new freshmen signed up for a coffee connection at FGCU’s freshman orientation. That number accounts for about 10% of the new freshman class! Every day that I have been on campus this week, Starbucks has been full of IGNITE leaders meeting new friends. But our on-campus presence has not ended there.
With the beginning of the school year comes a seemingly limitless amount of opportunities to have a presence on campus. From involvement fairs to freshman events, library lawn carnivals to personal coffee connections, we meet a lot of people and that’s a very good thing! FGCU is a campus of just over 15,000 students, and about 6% of those are Christian. Our hope is that every student, all 15,000 students, will have repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel during this school year, so we take every opportunity to meet them by engaging with them on campus.
The first few weeks of the semester are tiring, time-consuming, crazy, and at the same time one of my favorite parts of the year. I have been blessed to see the Lord’s activity on this campus over the past five years. Each year, I am humbled by his work in the hearts of students at FGCU. It is impossible to know what is to come this year. However, God has proven time and time again that he is already there, working for our good and his glory.
- Jennie Gibson, IGNITE
A huge 'thank you' to all who supported our School Partners by purchasing backpacks and school supplies, tangibly representing the love of Christ to our communities! We've been delivering those supplies all week, along with smoothies to show our appreciation for the teachers and faculty members of our schools! Here's what a couple of our school partners had to say:
"Thank you for pouring into our community and schools! Our students and families are blessed to have your continuous support each academic year."
San Carlos Park Elementary School
"Thank you so much to Summit Church for the backpacks for our students and the smoothies for our staff! You all are amazing and we are so thankful for your love and support!!"
Estero High School
Will you pray with us for our teachers and schools? Will you pray that we will have gospel influence on these leaders in our community? Thank you for your continued partnership in the gospel!
A recap of our trip to the Dominican Republic - from Evan Lemkuil
On July 14th we were able to send out 11 men and women from Summit to travel to the Dominican Republic and serve alongside our partner LoveServes and El Refugio church in Haina.
During the week leading up to the trip we planned and scheduled out what we would be doing with the church in Haina; basketball and volleyball camps, VBS for children, construction, and men's and women's outreach events. However, just days before we left, Hurricane Beryl sent heavy rains into the community causing flash flooding and destruction through the city.
When we arrived in the DR, the pastor of the El Refugio’s fifth campus (there are 6 total campuses in Haina) greeted us and began walking us through the streets so that we could evaluate the damage. He brought us into the church building and described how they stacked equipment on top of itself to salvage what they could. As we walked the streets we saw debris-covered cars that had been completely submerged, ruined furniture and household items, all brought to the street side to be thrown away. These people who already live in extreme poverty had lost everything.
Our job for the next several days would be clean up and salvage work with the men and women of the church. We shoveled leftover mud, debris, garbage, and discarded items into a dump truck that rumbled down the main stretch of the Quinto Sueno where the church is located. As we worked, we met men and women who were picking up the pieces. They didn’t have access to the relief that so many received following the hurricane damage and flooding we experienced last year in Southwest Florida. There were real moments of pain and sorrow as we took time to pray with the members of the community.
We were thankful to see the willingness of the church to step into the gap, and with a smile and a helping hand, support their community in the name of Jesus. Each day the pastor of the church was working alongside of us, ministering to his community as they experienced the love of God extended through His church.
One particular day, a group of us took to the streets to pray with the families of the community. During our time we came across a man named Jose and his wife and 3 children, along with his sister and mother. They were all living in a home together, sharing beds, each suffering from some form of ailment or injury. We were able to share the hope of Christ, to pray for the family, and to invite him to a men’s gathering we were going to have at the church.
We didn’t know who would be willing to show up during such a devastating time, but there was a large group that turned up for our men’s and women’s ministry events. During our men’s gathering Jose showed up looking weary and burdened. It was that night that one of the pastors on the team shared the heart of God for men:
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
It was after the sharing of this message that Jose gave his life to the Lord. He clearly declared that Jesus is Lord and confessed his sins to Him. The pastor was able to get his information and connect with him, sharing his heart for the community and his desire for Jose to be connected into the life of the church.
Jose had showed up to the meeting in such desperation. Yet he was the perfect picture of who Jesus wants us to be. In a moment, everything we hold dear can be taken away, and we will be faced with the reality that all we truly have in this life is Christ. It was sobering for all of us on the trip, to realize the blessing that it is to know Christ. Our lives have been crucified with Christ, and its no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us!
We are so grateful for those of you who prayed for our trip! The love of Christ was tangibly demonstrated, the gospel was proclaimed and God was glorified!
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
- Proverbs 22:6
Ok, you clicked on this article. But maybe you're asking yourself...
"What is 'Family Worship'? And what does it mean to have a 'Family Worship' time? You know I don’t play guitar, right?
Why does it matter? And how would someone go about having a 'Family Worship' time?"
Wait, let’s press pause. Can we talk for a sec? Before we go any further, this post needs a disclaimer.*
*DON'T LET WHAT YOU'RE ABOUT TO READ MAKE YOU THINK THAT WE HAVE ANYTHING 'FIGURED OUT'. THIS IS A WORK IN PROCESS. AND ANYTHING GOOD THAT COMES FROM IT WILL BE BECAUSE OF THE GRACE AND GOODNESS OF GOD.
Ok. So…what is Family Worship?
Let me say from the very outset, Family Worship is messy. For that matter, everything with young kids is messy. Can I get an ‘amen’?
My wife and I have three children under the age of nine years old and we’re so grateful for the gifts that they are to us; precious children that have been entrusted to us by our Father to love and to train in the way of discipleship to Jesus.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
About four years ago we felt challenged by the Lord to spend intentional time with our children before bedtime, teaching them the ways of God. A friend of ours recommended a simple book of scripture memory verses and a series of catechism questions that form a concrete foundation for gospel understanding. (Resource link at the bottom of the post.)
As our family has grown, we have moved our time around the dinner table and morphed it into a simpler pattern; one that Donald Whitney put forth in his aptly titled book, “Family Worship”. The pattern goes like this. Read, Pray, Sing. (Resource link at bottom of the post.)
1.) Read Scripture together.
It doesn’t have to be a lot. When your kids are young, sometimes shorter is better. Know what I mean? But don’t be afraid to ask for their attention. Chances are if you’re enthusiastic about what you’re reading, your children will be as well. We just finished reading through the book of Ruth and my kids were begging me to keep reading the next chapter to see what happened. Once we finish reading we take 2 minutes to make observations about what God might be saying to us about himself and what the gospel connection is in the passage. And that’s basically it. No long, drawn out teaching. Just daily sitting under the authority of the Word of God together as a family.
2.) Pray together.
We take turns praying. Sometimes it’s a couple of short one-liners from the younger kids and we’re done. As they pray, you’ll be surprised what they’re picking up from God’s Word! Sometimes we pray in an intercessory way for friends, or nations or ministries. This usually takes just a couple of minutes. As a side note, I once I heard a reference to Tinkerbell artfully woven into my 5-year-old daughter’s prayer about kindness. The best part was that it made actual sense and tied into our conversation. She was contextualizing her world after our Bible reading!
3.) Sing together.
For some reason, when we put words to music, they stick. Singing is such an easy, powerful way to make truth stick. Don’t be afraid to sing together as a family. You might not be the Von Trapps, but you can make a joyful noise. (emphasis on noise?) Some days we sing simple kids songs like Jesus Loves Me or Trust and Obey, etc. and other times we’ll sing a hymn or the Doxology. Still other times, we fall down the YouTube rabbit hole watching one worship song after another, dancing around the dirty dishes that need to be cleared from the dinner table.
Read, Pray, Sing. The simplicity of this rhythm makes it totally doable for us. If we’re feeling especially ambitious we’ll review memory verses and catechism questions together as well, which are still a priority for us.
But let’s face it, some nights are really hard. Sometimes just keeping everyone in their seats for 5 minutes is a monumental chore, let alone helping them be engaged. Add in food and drink spills, sibling rivalries, and good old-fashioned kid jabber, and it can easily become a recipe for frustration.
“Shut your little faces! I’m trying to teach you that God loves you!”
I’m kidding. Sort of. But it can feel like that sometimes if we’re not careful, right? That’s why we need an abundance of God’s grace, a good sense of humor, and an eye towards the long view. Kids are kids and that is ok. Of course, we discipline our children when necessary and teach them the importance of joyful obedience. (Ephesians 6:1, Proverbs 13:24) But in our attitudes and approach, we’re going to be gracious, not trying to legalistically impose this time upon us or them. We’re humbly trying to direct our attention to Jesus in the midst of normal, everyday, messy life, recognizing his glory and taking the time to worship him together.
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
So why have a ‘Family Worship’ time? I think for the answer to that question we can look to the great commission of our Lord. If we want to be disciple-makers, that starts first and foremost in our own homes with the children He has entrusted to us. And it is a joy. Family Worship is one way in which we can be intentional to disciple our children. Truly, I can’t think of much that we do that is more important than the time the five of us spend around the dinner table, reading God’s Word, praying and singing to the Lord together.
From July 9th to the 12th we were able to take 64 students and 8 leaders to Student Life Camp on Daytona Beach! We had the opportunity to worship with Elevation and Vertical worship alongside over 2,700 other students and leaders. We enjoyed our time in the word with Craig Groeschel and D.A. Horton walking through the theme of “I AM.” We learned more about who God is and who God is not. Students enjoyed messages hearing about how God is not a “goose bump God” who is only there if we have a tingly feeling. We also heard about how God is not an “on call God” who is only there when we feel like we need him. The Gospel was clearly presented every morning and evening which allowed us to even see one student accept Christ as his Savior!
We all really enjoyed our time playing games and partnering with Riverside Church and Crossroads Baptist Church. We were able to intermingle the kids and leaders from each church to create different color teams. Riverside Church did an amazing job heading up the game portion and were such a blessing to us while at camp. It was great getting to go away and still partner with local churches from our area. All in all, our kids and leaders (from all 3 campuses) had an amazing experience while at camp. We were able to get to know our God in a more intimate way and have fun while doing it!
– Matt Cantwell
"I had an amazing week at camp. Being able to spend a week in God’s presence was very refreshing. To see how much God loves me really convicted me to care more for those around me. I also really enjoyed being able to spend a lot of time with our church family. That is what is amazing about camp, being able to build this fire for Jesus as a team and bring it back home to share. So many awesome friendships were made and the Summit Students community got much closer as a group."
"Student Life Camp was truly one of the best experiences of my life. It was super fun and God revealed himself to me in new ways. One of the speakers made a point that in the Bible the word “beloved” is used in the perfect tense and the passive voice. This showed me how God’s love is constant even when we feel distant. This also helped me understand how I am called to love others around me and allowed me to grow in my community of friends."
FROM ONE OF OUR LEADERS
"Student Life Camp during the week of July 9, 2018 was transformational in the eyes of our Lord. As a leader I first experienced peace as all the leaders prayed for each and every student personally the evening before the trip. The trip was very well organized. All three Summit campuses came together with a strong message of unity between campuses. My group consisted of all University Campus boys in 8th, 9th and 10th grades. Outside of just having a "blast" it was during the intimate small group times when we were able to dig a little deeper. All 11 boys were emotionally and spiritually ready to talk, discuss and listen. Whether it was on the drive up, walking to dinner, small group, morning exercise or worship, I was able to witness the Holy Spirit moving through the youth. Out of the 11 boys in my group for the week I saw some radical transformation in most all of them. 3 boys declared their interest in baptism and one even put his faith in Christ."
- Matt LeLievre
Recently, several nations that we are invested in through various gospel partnerships have been undergoing different forms of upheaval. We're asking that you would pray with us for our partners and for these nations.
Our missionaries, Al and Sarah Gomez, have recently had to flee violence and unrest in Nicaragua as government and protestors clash. Throughout the country, more than 300 people have been killed since protests began on April 18th.
Pray for peace and quick resolve to these political divisions. Pray for God's protection and that he would allow Al and Sarah and their family to return to Nicaragua so that they might proclaim the gospel to every man, woman and child in their city.
Just in the past 7-10 days, rising fuel costs have caused rioting throughout the nation of Haiti prompting the US State Department to update its travel advisory for Haiti on July 9, raising it to "Level 4: Do Not Travel." We currently partner with Haiti Bible Mission, Mission of Hope, Haiti , Dawn Shoemaker, School of Grace, and Lifesong for Orphans. These are organizations and individuals who are dedicated to bringing the gospel to every man, woman and child in the nation of Haiti.
Pray for peace in Haiti. Pray for God's protection for our partners who are faithfully ministering there. Pray that God would give them increased opportunities to share the gospel as a result of this unrest.
Just this past Tuesday (7/10), Hurricane Beryl crossed over the Dominican Republic causing flooding to hundreds of homes and causing 15,000 people to still be without power. We had already planned to send a team to the DR next week to minister with our partners Love Serves International. We have adjusted our plans to focus on bringing relief to some of the hard hit areas, while representing and proclaiming the good news of Jesus to those in need.
Pray for power to be restored and for those who have suffered damaged homes and goods. Pray for our team, that God would use them powerfully to represent the love of Christ. Pray for a great harvest of souls as our team and our partners minister in the Dominican Republic.
FROM JEREMIAH TAYLOR:
My family consists of my beautiful wife Lauren, my son Jason (11), my daughters Maya (9) and Selah (2) and our newest addition: Elijah (12 weeks)!
We come from Miami, FL, where we’ve lived the past 4.5 years. Lauren and I moved to Miami in 2013 in order to plant a gospel-centered church in the heart of an inner-city neighborhood called Little Haiti. Little Haiti is a very diverse neighborhood filled with folks from all over the world… It really is a foreign country with a US Zip Code!
During our time in Little Haiti we saw folks come to Christ, come back to Christ, and mature in their faith. We saw God do extraordinary things! Toward the end of our time in Miami, God began to make it clear to Lauren and I that it would be a huge kingdom win if we merged our small church with another church plant that was making incredible inroads in our city. We merged our church in March of 2018 and I began looking in earnest for another church to serve at.
Providentially, I sat next to Adam, the campus pastor of Summit’s Gateway congregation, at a conference. We got to know each other, and he shared with me that Gateway Campus was looking for another pastor. I shared with him how I was looking for another pastorate! One thing led to another and God brought us to Summit Church!
We are so excited, grateful and humbled to be here! God continues to pour out his tangible grace upon our lives! I’ve talked to several non-Summit pastors since being hired at Summit and all of them have told me how lucky I am to be working here! We definitely agree with this sentiment as we have already begun being loved so well, even before I have lifted a finger. God is doing something special at Gateway!
Our desire is to simply step into the work that God has already begun at Summit Gateway and to be faithful stewards of whatever opportunities the Lord gives us to serve his people and our community. Our prayer is that God’s kingdom would come and that his will would be done in Fort Myers as it is in heaven!
Looking forward to the journey with all of you!
Jeremiah and Lauren Taylor
From June 18th through June 22nd Summit offered a leadership development camp called Immerse for middle and high school students volunteering in Sports Camp. The camp had around 50 students from all 3 of the our congregations. During Immerse, students were able to build relationships with each other, study God’s Word together, and serve the community. The camp focused on equipping students to understand how the Gospel not only saves us from our sins, but empowers us to lovingly serve others, tell people about Jesus, and to be his ambassadors to the world around us.
It was an awesome week and we praise God for the work that he did in the lives of these students!
Recently Andy & Rachel released a new album 'Vision in the Wild' and one of the songs that a lot of folks connected with was ‘Dream again’. Here is a little of the story and heart behind that song from Andy:
"A few months ago it felt like the Lord was inviting us as a family to dream with him over what the future could look like and what He was calling us to. In a culture where “dreaming” can often end up being individualistic and even downright consumeristic, the concept of dreaming for the believer can seem somewhat strange and perhaps even improper. However, this song is a call to dream WITH God for what it looks like to see His Kingdom come in greater measure in our lives and our communities.
Sometimes that’s dreaming for what it looks like to move from a place of brokenness to wholeness. Other times it might be asking God what His heart is for our families, our neighborhoods and our cities. What it looks like to see broken social systems, broken countries and broken relationships healed. To dream, not for our own personal end - but for the ultimate end - His Kingdom and His Glory being made known through the community of the church, and witness of our lives in the places he calls us to live, work and play. The great thing about that kind of dreaming with God, is that it often ends up being the best place for us to live our lives; right in the center of his will.”
By Jamin Stinziano
Earlier this year, we journeyed as a church through the Old Testament book of Daniel by looking at the loyalty God shows to his people and the loyalty that we, as well, are called to live in to. As we move into the summer months, we thought it would be helpful to be reminded of some overarching themes we saw over and over again throughout our Loyalty series. These themes, as we see them, are non-negotiable, which means that embracing these truths is directly tied to the joy-filled, abundant life Christ has secured for his children.
So, take some time to read the 3 themes below and prayerfully consider what God might want to do in and through you in the weeks and months to come.
Overarching Theme #1: The Lord Most High is still on the throne
God is in control. He always has been, and he always will be. We struggle to believe it, though, don’t we? We know the truth in our minds, but when push comes to shove, the waters start raging, and life seems to spiral out of control, our souls rise far too easily to another. Yet over and over again in the book of Daniel, and through the entirety of the scriptures, God is put on display as the Sovereign Ruler of all creation. He is orchestrating events, putting people where he wants them, and thwarting the schemes of the enemy. Nothing takes him by surprise, nothing ties his hands, and nothing keeps him from doing exactly what he has purposed to do.
Overarching Theme #2: The Lord Most High is faithful (loyal) in all he does
When the Bible communicates the loyalty of God, it often uses the same terminology to depict his faithfulness and love. So, when it says that God is abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Ex.34:6), we are seeing that God is overflowing with loyalty toward those he’s in covenant relationship with. When it says, the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases (Lam. 3:23), we are being told that the loyalty of God will never come to an end. When it says, all his work is done in faithfulness (Ps.33:4), we are learning that God is and always will be perfectly loyal in what he does. It’s true! He is overwhelmingly committed to his glory and the good of the ones he loves so he will never let us down. In fact, he can’t.
Overarching Theme #3: The Lord Most High is worthy of our complete loyalty
The truth that Yahweh sits on the throne impacts everything about our lives. In the book of Revelation, we read this declaration: Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created (Rev 4:11). As it was true for Daniel and his friends it is true for you and me. The glory of God—his majesty, greatness, splendor, beauty, and so much more—demands that we orient our lives around his throne. And this is no small orientation. It requires our complete allegiance. Every idol must be crushed, every agenda discarded, every pursuit pushed to the side, every aspiration submitted, and every loyalty abandoned. This is life in his kingdom. Anything less is compromised, listless, and powerless.
So how can we joyfully press into these truths? By purposefully posturing ourselves before his throne. In doing this, we are intentionally putting ourselves in a place to see him for who he truly is. Our King is a good and righteous Father who delights in his children. He is steadfast and faithful in all that he does. And because Christ has given us access we never could have afforded ourselves, he welcomes us to the foot of his throne. God’s Word gives us this charge: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) So let’s find comfort in the truth that Yahweh is the Sovereign Ruler of all creation and he is ready, willing, and able to give grace for all of our needs.
We're always so encouraged by the activity of God in His people! Take a few minutes to watch Mark's story and rejoice in the Lord.
We're so blown away by how God continues to provide for His Church! We hope you are encouraged by this video as we share about what is happening at each of our congregations.
If you would like to contribute financially to these efforts, you can do so by clicking the button below and choosing your campus building fund. Thank you!
We're always rejoicing in God's activity in the lives of His people. Watch Tim's Story and be encouraged.
God Gets Me
by Dave Harvey
I have always loved preaching at a Good Friday service. A couple of years back during a Good Friday message, I made a passing reference to a Hebrews passage that appeared to resonate deeply with some church folk. It was one of those unforeseen moments when a Bible verse pierces the chaos of crazy-busy and taps the brakes so we can slow down and listen.
In Hebrews 4: 15, the author writes, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” The high priest we have is Jesus Christ, relocated from Heaven to become the sacrifice and the mediator for His people. But here we learn that this remarkable role carries a most unusual quality, particularly for those who assume that “high priest” means rigidly religious, gigantically judgmental, or dangerously disconnected from real life.
Jesus, our High Priest, is able to sympathize with our weakness.
Don’t rush past that sentence. It invites us to pause and ponder, like a gentle, fragrant breeze gliding across the front porch on a Spring day. It tells us something about ourselves; an elusive reality that can be hard to see and difficult to admit. Jesus assumes we are weak.
Think about this. It addresses you, me, and every living being in possession of a soul. We are fragile sojourners in a fallen world, frail, tenuous, and imperfect. All of us. This verse is not addressing some unique subset of humans who have the misfortune of being flawed. If you breathe, you are weak. It’s not a question of whether it’s true; the question is whether you are clued in or clueless.
Weak Means Me
Recently, I was walking out of Starbucks and tried to unlock my car through my spiffy electronic car key. Nothing happened. My mind immediately went dark, instinctively irritated over the wasted day before me if I needed a new battery for my key (do these things even have batteries?), a new battery for my car (it has a brand new battery!), or if some other unexpected repair was necessary (I hate cars!!). While I was emotionally tanking over the lost hours to a day not yet begun, I spied another car in the parking lot that looked just like mine.
Actually, it was mine.
It’s a bad omen when a guy starts his day realizing that his key is fine, it’s his brain that’s defective.
I am weak, and every day there are more clues.
Weakness represents those places in life where we are reminded that we are not kingdom-ruling conquerors exercising omniscience, omnipotence, and omni-competence at will. Not even close! We are the fabulously fallen and frail who forget meeting times, wreck our cars, and mistakenly leave the doors open to invite all manner of beast and insect to become squatters in our home. You know what I’m talking about. We are the sleepers-in, the bill-forgetters, the “Oh-Lord-what’s-that-smell” people. We are weak.
Weak Means Sympathy
To those who own this label, this passage offers a mind-blowing message. Jesus gets us. I’m not talking about a kind detachment where Jesus listens well but is actually disconnected from the real frustrations we encounter. Jesus is no Pharisee, rolling his eyes when we fail, outwardly tolerating us but inwardly reviling our weakness. No, Jesus actually sympathizes with us where we are weak. As a loving high priest, he empathizes with the areas where we suffer deficiencies or defects.
But that’s not all. Jesus does not sympathize as an outsider. He’s not the guy who read a book on weakness, or quickly Googled it to become conversant. No sir, the Savior knows you on an experiential level. As our perfect high priest, Jesus is “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are.”
My friends, slow your pace a bit more, and just think about that: “In every respect, tempted as we are.” Bad week for you in battling lust? Jesus understands. He knows the temptation. Are you struggling with resentful thoughts over some way you were mistreated? Jesus gets it. He was royally shafted by people and wrestled through those very temptations. Fretting over a work matter? Sweating the finances? Feeling forgotten? Jesus knows them all. Tempted to throw in the towel, to give up on your role as husband of wife? Tempted to say you aren’t cut out for this? Jesus understands that, too. He understands the battle because he’s been to war.
Concerning Christ’s temptations, Raymond Brown said, “No one on earth, before or since, has ever been brought through such spiritual desolation and human anguish. For this reason he can help us in our moments of temptation. He is aware of our needs because he has experienced to the full the pressures and testings of life in this godless world.”
Always remember: Jesus knows how a fallen world affects you, how temptations compete for supremacy within your soul. Jesus gets the shame, the demoralizing feeling that accompanies the skirmish between what you feel and who you are called to be.
Jesus understands, and he sympathizes with you.
Weak Means Freedom
My friends, here’s one final thought to encourage your soul: Because Christ is able to sympathize with our weakness, we don’t need to self-sympathize!
If you are like me, any awareness of weakness becomes an immediate invitation to my pity party. “Come join Dave, as he spends yet another day sympathizing with himself over not being God!” But through this passage God speaks another word. “Hey Dave,” he says, “let’s turn the pity-dial down a bit today. Remember, I’m the perfect high priest- your sympathy is my job. I’ve got this whole sympathy thing covered. Why don’t you just think about how to love and enjoy me today!”
In every area of life, the gospel is the game-changer. With self-pity, the gospel breaks into my self-sympathizing tendencies and reminds me that because of Christ’s death and resurrection, I get far more sympathy than I deserve. The gospel proclaims a double-swap. At the cross, I not only avoid getting the just judgment that my sins rightfully warranted, but in place of God’s wrath I receive his adoption, his loving affection, and his compassion for my weakness. Instead of the antipathy I earned, I get sympathy as a child of my Heavenly Father.
Are you feeling weak today? Smacked around, perhaps, by temptations? Have you just printed some invites to your own pity-party? The good news of the gospel includes a Great High Priest. A Savior with a love so vast that he drops into the mundane moments of our weakness and temptation and says, “I get you, and I understand.” Then, at just the right time, he supplies the way of escape (1 Cor. 10: 13).
My Savior gets me. And from that perfect knowledge, dipping all the way down to my DNA, he issues this life transforming invitation, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4: 16).
Goodness and grace from the God who gets me. I guess that’s what makes him the Perfect High Priest (Heb. 9: 11-12).
- Adapted from a blog written by Dave Harvey for Four Oaks Church