Category Archives: Articles & Events

An exciting new look!

It was time for a little different perspective and we think it’s an exciting new look!  Hey everyone… Patrick here!  You have probably noticed a change in the layout of our worship space this week.  The Rejoice Worship Ensemble has migrated to the north half of the room after being in the opposite corner for over a decade!  Yes, that’s a long time! (Out of town last week?  Click here for a little sneak peek video!)

Marco Saporito (Rejoice’s Ensemble Director) and I, in conjunction with members of the Hospitality Team and Council, decided it was time to review how we use God’s worship space.  Our purpose was multifaceted.  For RWE, we wanted to shake up our layout by resetting more like the modern band we’ve become, to position ourselves in way that is more physically connected in our worship and overall cleaner.  We knew this move would also foster a better location for our weekly Hospitality event, Gathering Ground!  It also creates opportunities for future expansion of our hospitality corner… more on that later!  You’ll notice more activity from the Creative Design team throughout the worship space in the coming months too.  Their artwork is designed to enhance the worshipful nature and beauty of our church.

While we get to know this setup, I want to invite you to join us!  Try viewing worship at Rejoice with new energy and new perspective!  I know you probably have a favorite spot to sit each week.  Maybe now is a time to view things differently!  Try getting closer to the band… come join us in the corner!?  Or possibly now is a time to sit up front and answer Pastor Lou’s ‘Where are my…?’ questions!  Either way, thank you for the love and energy you bring to worship at Rejoice!

Interested in learning more about serving on the ensemble, media team or Creative Design Team – click here to reach out to me! God’s blessing… Patrick

Holy Week & Easter Worship

holy week & easter worshipAs the season of Lent comes to a close we invite you to join us in the journey to the cross with services during Holy Week, and a celebration of the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday!  Note days and times below – childcare is offered for children age 3 and under in our nursery.  Need directions?  Click here!

Maundy Thursday Service & Celebration of First Communion
Thursday, April 13th at 7PM

Good Friday Service
Friday, April 14th at 7PM

Easter Sunday
Sunday, April 16th – services at 8AM, 9AM & 10:30AM

Renewing our Mission

stewardship pledge

Recently we put together a mailing highlighting your giving at work… stories of FAITH in ACTION!  Just a few of the many ways your financial offering helps Rejoice be a place where God is experienced, community is shared and lives are changed.  If you did not receive a brochure, click here to read how God is at work through the people of Rejoice.

This year’s stewardship focus is entitled ” Renewing our Mission” were we make our pledge towards God’s mission at Rejoice.  We ask that you pray about your financial commitment for 2017, and bring your completed pledge card with you Sunday. Or if you prefer, you may click the button below to safely and confidentially make your pledge online.

Thank you. Timely receipt of your pledge will help us plan and budget for next year as we seek to honor your faithful stewardship by using your gifts wisely as we carry out God’s work in our congregation, our community and throughout His world.

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Our Week in Eureka Springs

2016 High School Mission Trip

“To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.” -Jesus

Okay, let me clarify this quote isn’t actually from Jesus. In fact, I bet you won’t find it anywhere in Scripture. This quote was shared with us by Ketchup Ken, one of two men (Ken and Joe) whom we worked with directly at our mission site.  Two men we affectionately referred to (at least among ourselves) as the Jesi.

Right now you might be asking yourself what about the setup to this mission trip blog sounds common? And why were our youth referring to the two guys at our mission site as Jesus?

Well, you are right that this mission trip was the opposite of common. For starters, when I think of youth mission trips I usually think of doing repairs on an underprivileged person’s home or place of living, or natural disaster recovery work like “Mission on the Bay,” or something in that vein. This was not the case in Eureka Springs, AK.

When we arrived, TEAMeffort told us that Eureka Springs is organized different than all of their other locations. Eureka Springs is an economically poor area, however it is also uniquely a tourist area in the summer. Most people in Eureka and the surrounding towns have a hard time finding full-time work year round. In the summer during the tourist season people can find jobs in the small shops downtown, at the area caves, and at one of their biggest employers and sources of income in the area, a not-for-profit organization called the Great Passion Play.

TEAMeffort prayed about how they could be most effective at serving the people of this area and found that as a construction-based mission organization that operates in the area 10 weeks out of the year, the biggest impact they could have is to partner with other ministries who serve the area year round to help them be as effective in their ministries as possible by doing work on their facilities and grounds, freeing them to be able to focus on other tasks of the ministry.

rakingOur group was assigned to work at The Great Passion Play. The Great Passion Play is “America’s #1 Attended Outdoor Drama” with seating for 4100 people in an outdoor amphitheater. The multi-level set, special lighting and sound effects, live animals, and a cast of 150 Biblically-costumed actors come together to create the epic drama of Jesus Christ’s last days on earth. The play is not the only on-site attraction on the 167 acre park though, there is the Christ of the Ozarks statue, the Holy Land Tour, Moses Tabernacle in the Wilderness, a section of the Berlin Wall, the Church in the Grove, the Bible Museum (the second largest collection of Bibles in the U.S.), the History Museum, and the Sacred Arts Museum are also on the grounds.  This is where our team, along with our TEAMeffort leader Cali, got the chance to meet the people maintenancewe would be serving for the week – Ken and Joe, the “Jesi.”  Ken and Joe are really the heart and soul behind the ministry at The Passion Play.  They do everything from strategic planning to construction work and marketing, not to mention they both play the role of Jesus in different areas of the park as well as in the play. So they both have an uncanny resemblance to what we typically think our Savior looks like. They also represent Jesus in their love for his people and in their desire to use this place to help people experience Jesus’ life death, and Resurrection and bring people back to God.

concreteWe had various tasks from watering the flowers (which takes 3-4 hours a day), construction work, roofing an area in the market place, painting, lots and lots of painting, weeding/deforesting an area for a future Noah’s Ark petting zoo, cutting down trees, extracting boulders, and building a 3 mile walking path through the woods to the sea of Galilee (which is going to be dedicated to Rejoice). We did a ton of work even though many of things we did just seemed ordinary in and of themselves. Such as watering the flowers and painting garbage cans. However, our youth worked extremely well together and accomplished a lot. I shouldn’t leave out we also had a lot of fun in small-group, caving, zip-lining, playing volleyball, and dizzy flash bangs.

cave

passion playAt the end of our last day of service they asked us if we would like to be extras in the play and 14 of us took them up on the offer – what an amazing experience! We were able to see what our efforts all week went toward.  We had the privilege of being a part the cast who are a dedicated group of Christians from all walks of life who come together 150+ strong 4-5 nights per week to share the gospel with everyone in attendance, and to share Christ’s love with everyone they interact with. The lady we partnered with as an extra just arrived back in town that morning from Berlin, as she works as an international flight attendant but takes time to do this as her ministry whenever she is home.  When all was said and done at the end of our last night, Joe and Ken took pictures with us and Ken left us with the opening quote “To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.”- Henry John Heinz.

Ken said when he was 16 years old he read that quote at youth group on the back of a Heinz ketchup bottle and it changed his life. It is what inspires him to approach all of the various tasks and challenges at the Great Passion play with an uncommon passion and zest. He told us that all of the tasks we performed this week no matter how common they might have seemed were done uncommonly well by our youth! I couldn’t agree more. I couldn’t be more proud of the work effort that our youth put forth in the 100 degree plus heat each day. In the end I think each one of us would say that we were blessed to be a blessing to such a wonderful group of Christ followers who are on a mission to share Chris’s love with the world. No, Ken and Joe aren’t Jesus, but we sure saw a lot of Christ in them!

Mike Willis
Rejoice Youth Minister

Kairos Torch Prison Ministry

Thank you to everyone that supported Dennis Morgan and me this past weekend on the Fox Valley Kairos Torch Prison Ministry Weekend.  With your prayers and contributions you were part of this powerful weekend where we sat alongside 18 incarcerated youth at the Illinois Youth Center.  Yes! that prison that you see on the north side of Route 38.

Adult mentors from churches around the Fox Valley, Pentecostals, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Methodists, and Baptists joined together to serve the youth on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a mission to engage the youths’ reasoning skills to help them make better life choices going forward.

kairos torch prison ministryThis was an opportunity for us to follow the example of St. Ignatius who said that we can “See Jesus in the lowly places”.  The Illinois Youth Center is absolutely the place where Jesus would be today.

When you stand with these youth you create kinship with them, and once you do that it is impossible to despise or discard them … you can only love them.  They are beautiful individuals who are God’s creation … just like you and me.

There are few moments in my life that I have ever felt closer to God than I did this past weekend.

Kairos Torch Ongoing Mentoring

Under the guidance of Kairos Torch, both Dennis and I are committed to providing  ongoing mentoring to the some of these youthful offenders with weekly visits until they are released.

kairos torch meal ticketsYou will hear more about this ministry in the coming weeks and months and you will have an opportunity to become more directly engaged as we plan Kairos Torch #7.  In the meantime, thank you, thank you, thank you for:

  • your prayers,
  • your donations of meal tickets,
  • the creation of meal place-mats by our Club Wow children.

Torch Keep Me Informed

  • If you are interested in supporting future Torch Activities you can let us know by filling in this short form.
 

Verification

 

Roles of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Holy Trinity, plays an active role in our lives as believers. Here are some of the wonderful things the Holy Spirit does for us, as we talked about last Sunday!
  • He gives us boldness to share our faith.  (Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 4:31, Matt.10:20)
  • He helps us to live according to our new nature. (Gal. 5:16-26)
  • He provides us with gifts and talents to serve God. (I Cor. 12:1-11)
  • He is our Comforter, our Counselor, our Helper, our Advocate (John 14:16, 26; 15:26, Acts 9:31)
  • He is our Teacher of all things spiritual. (John 14:26, John 16:13, I Cor. 2:9-16, Eph. 1:17)
  • He convicts us of sin in our lives  (John 16:8-11)
  • He intercedes for us before the throne of grace when we have no words. (Romans 8:26,27)
  • He sets His seal of ownership upon us until we reach heaven’s doors. ( II Cor. 1:21-22, I Cor. 3:16, II Cor 5:5)

Volunteer Opportunities in Children’s & Student Ministries

Here at Rejoice, we are passionate about leading kids to know Jesus. That’s why we value our volunteers who are instrumental in helping to nurture their developing relationship with Jesus.

Our programs for children as well as students in middle and high school are vital for a strong, thriving ministry and we need the help of many volunteers committed to this goal.  No previous experience is necessary to lead a group.  Your biggest investment is simply your time and love  – much of the preparation and lesson planning has already been prepared in advance!

We ask that you prayerfully consider how you can serve the children of Rejoice with your time and talents and fill out the form below.

Yes, I'm interested in helping!

 

Verification

 

Help Local Moms in Need

Movers for MomsAgain this year Rejoice is honored to partner with Two Men And A Truck in their annual Movers For Moms Project, where we will be a collection site for donations of care package items which will be delivered to mothers in need at Lazarus House  in St. Charles and Mutual Ground in Aurora on Mother’s Day to help them create a better life for themselves and their families.  Items can be dropped off here at Rejoice any time between now and Sunday, May 3rd – read on for a list of donation suggestions:

  • Manicure supplies
  • Tweezers
  • Make-up and items such as brushes, remover
  • Cotton pads/squares
  • Women’s/children’s socks
  • Underwear (l/xl)
  • Sweatpants/sweatshirts (l/xl)
  • Gift cards – fast food, grocery stores, gas cards, bus passes
  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • Scarves
  • Shelter items, such as – cleaning supplies, Lysol wipes, toilet paper, Kleenex, paper plates, garbage bags
  • Non-perishable pantry items, such as – snack/cereal bars, cereal, fruit snacks, pasta

Going Above and Beyond in 2015

Dear Rejoice community,

As was mentioned at church this past Sunday, we are at a very important point in the life of our congregation. Financially speaking, 2014 was a tough year for our church.  The budget that was passed for 2014 planned for a $12,000 draw down on cash reserves.  By the time the year was over, the actual draw down amounted to over $55,000.  This was in a year where yet again expenses came in under budget.  By the grace of God we had the resources to withstand such a year, but that sort of trajectory is unsustainable.  We have no choice but to pass a balanced budget for 2015.

As stewards of our resources, we have gone back to try and determine why this occurred and what we can learn going forward.  This has not been a sustained trend in the making as much as it was a rather precipitous decline in income last year.  Part of the struggle year in and year out is for us to confidently determine the level of income we can expect.  One of our big initiatives for 2014 was to try and increase the number of households within our church that offer a pledge as a guide to their planned giving.  Apart from the spiritual and faith-building part of pledging on an individual basis, the positive impact to our broader congregation is it allows us to plan with more confidence.  If we operated exclusively on pledged income you would not be the Rejoice of today.  Thankfully Rejoice always receives more income than just what it pledged, but determining that number year to year is fraught with inconsistency.

A broader trend that has been identified, which contributed in part to our decline in income last year, is the fact that we are a smaller congregation than we were 5 years ago.  We identified this challenge during our Vision Advance 2.0 last year, and programs are afoot to increase attendance.  Look for this culture of invitation to grow in the coming months as more initiatives get underway.  The good news is our decline in attendance has stabilized.  The great news is through this entire time the momentum, energy, ministry, and love that comes out of our congregation has never been greater.  It is on this position of strength that we will build with God’s help.

As leaders, it is our desire to do everything we can to keep the program and ministry footprint of Rejoice as it is today.  We have gone through and cut every non-essential cost outside of the areas of our ministry programs and staffing.  Even with these cuts we are looking at a deficit of $30,000 for 2015 with the income that has been committed to date.  We are not in a position to withstand another $30,000 hit to our cash reserves.  An option would be to immediately cut staff or reduce hours, something that would hit every ministry and program of our church.  Our staff is already stretched delivering the experience we enjoy week in and week out.  Knowing this would be detrimental to our ministry and program footprint, we are proposing the following plan:

At our congregational meeting between services next Sunday, we will be presenting an interim budget for 2015 that extends through April of this year.  This budget equates to an annualized $30,000 deficit, cuts all non-essential spending, and leaves staffing levels in place for now.  We have reserves to sustain us over this short period of time.  Beginning now and extending through the end of March, we are asking members and friends of Rejoice for additional resources.  A balanced budget, either through the commitment of additional income and/or staff reductions, will be presented to the congregation towards the end of April effective May 1.  Any staffing changes would not go into effect until July 1 to allow for a period of transition.

As a fellow member or friend of Rejoice, this is what we are asking from you now:

  • First and most importantly is for prayer through this process.
  • If you have already pledged your support and have the means to increase your pledge, we ask for your consideration as well.  This ask equates to a 6.5% increase in what has already been committed for 2015.  As a community of well over a hundred households, this is a goal that is easily within our grasp.
  • Last but certainly not least, this is a time we all need to look for opportunities for invitation.

Rejoice is a place where the love of our Savior is displayed in so many ways both within our congregation and throughout the world.  Lives are changed every day through our ministries and programs.  Our congregation knows what it means to show up with love and to be His hands and feet in this broken world.  The energy and momentum on display each Sunday and during our mid-week programs in no way matches the new found tightness within our budget.  This is why we know, with God’s help, this is something we can overcome as a congregation and continue to be a place where God is Experienced, Community is Shared, and Lives are Changed!

In Christ,

Rejoice Church Council

To join us in offering support Above and Beyond, please click on the following link or look for pledge cards in the church narthex.