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Do groups really matter?

As a pastor in the Groups Ministry, my job often involves convincing people that groups are essential.  And convincing leaders that groups are worth giving their lives for, while waiting for Christ’s return.

But.  Do I believe groups matter?

As a closet-introvert, I prefer solace.  Selfishly, I would never choose to be in a group of people and freely give of myself.  This is obviously not a healthy perspective, but honesty is seldom a healthy dose of reality.  However, my group seems to want to know who I really am and be known in return.

For that, I am grateful.

Without them, an xBox, golf clubs, and a MacBook would be my platonic friends.  An xBox cannot challenge me to become a better husband (a better Jedi perhaps).  Golf clubs do not answer my phone call at 11pm when I must push a car onto a trailer (in the middle of no where).  And a MacBook never needs my encouragement during a difficult time.

Without a group, I could continue practicing my selfish ways uninhibited.  I could shield this practice with smoke screens like, “I’m too busy” or  “I had a bad experience” or “I can study the bible on my own.”  All of which are true for me.

I missed group last night because I was working late.  To my surprise, when I finally did arrive home (~10pm) cars littered my driveway and cul de sac.  My group was still at my house.  Waiting on me.  You know what?  After 3 years together, I would have done the same thing.

What’s happening to me?

Group, community, sharing life, or whatever you want to call it, has changed me.  Without my knowledge and without my permission, others’ needs have become more important than my own.  Their pain, is now my pain. And their victories are mine to celebrate.  And I would wager (were wagering allowed within the unspoken, yet well-codified rules of things pastors are not supposed to do) that I am not the only one.

Have groups (small, cell, life, interest, or on-line) actually made a difference in your life?  Are groups worth the trouble? time? transparency?

If no, why not?  If so, why?  One random commenter will receive a $10 gift card of their choice.

6 billion people.  6 billion stories.  This is just one of those stories.  People.  Life is better together.

We’re Adjusting our Schedule!

Beginning May 2nd, we will adjust our Sunday service schedule on the Pellissippi Campus to the following times:

  • 9:00 am
  • 10:20 am
  • 11:45 am

Saturday night service times will stay the same:

  • 5:30 pm
  • 7:00 pm

PS – With this transition, we’re also adding a new time to our Internet Campus at 9:00 am and will adjust the times to reflect the Pellissippi Campus.  Beginning May 2nd, you can join us online at 9:00 am, 10:20 am, 11:45 am and 9:00 pm.

Adding a Third iCampus Service

In case you haven’t heard, the 9 pm iCampus broadcast of Home Invasion was a huge success.  To follow up on that momentum, I sent out some information to get new volunteers plugged in (iCampus administration, prayer, greeters, groups, and missions), and we already have a team of people ready to start a new weekly iCampus service.

The new addition will happen Sunday evenings at 9:00, starting 11/22/09.

I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to impact lives.  I think this time has huge potential (people at home with the kids asleep, people bored and browsing the internet, sharing with family over the holidays, etc.).

In Christ,

Kyle Gilbert
Pastor of Communications
& Internet Campus Pastor

Join the Internet Campus Team

Internet Campus Friends,

OK, here’s the scoop.  People’s lives have been impacted through the Internet Campus, and we want to keep things moving – launching new ministries and adding new service times online. In order to do that, we need some dedicated people to join our team of iCampus volunteers.

Open Volunteer Positions:

  • Online Small Group Leaders – These people will coordinate with the Internet Campus Pastor and our Groups ministry to begin new groups that meet online using webcams and Tokbox.  It may sound a little weird, but it’s going to help people from all over the US get connected into groups.
  • iCampus Chat Greeters – Help us make our chat room a warm and friendly place to be.  Welcome people as they enter the room, and get to know the people who worship online each week.  This group helps to make the chat room a fun place to hang out.
  • Prayer Team – Mature Christians who chat online one-on-one with those who need prayer.
  • iCampus Service Host – People who oversee a service time on the iCampus – moderate the chat room, take attendance, and serve on behalf of  the Internet Campus Pastor.
  • iCampus Missions – A dedicated band of people who help us spread the word about the Internet Campus through Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and personal invitation.

I’m hoping to launch a 9:00 pm service in the next week or two, so let me know if you’re interested in serving in any of these capacities.

In Christ,

Kyle Gilbert
Internet Campus Pastor
Pastor of Communications

Online Church: Now on iPhone

apple-iphone-icampus

Yesterday Faith Promise added a new feature to our Internet Campus.  Now, in addition to streaming worship services online at 10:00 & 11:45 am in regular and sign language format, you can now access the video stream on your iPhone or iPod Touch.

If you’re interested, here are some screen captures of the service.

The Impact of Church Online

online church in Knoxville, TN

This post was written by Kyle Gilbert (kylesrandom.com), Pastor of Communications & Internet Campus Pastor at Faith Promise Church.

At the beginning of the year, I imagined the kind of impact Faith Promise could have by launching an online campus.  Today, after just 13 weekends on the Internet Campus, I’m blown away by what God is doing.

Let me share a few stories:

Sharon & George attended Faith Promise Church a few times, but with busy weekends, they hadn’t quite gotten into the habit of coming each week.  One Sunday morning, they were at home, and Sharon decided to check out the Internet Campus.  Once she watched a few minutes of the service and got a glimpse of the message, she knew it was something they needed to experience together.  So Sharon told the family to get ready, and they made it to our Knoxville campus in time for our 11:45 am Sunday service.

Eric serves in the military and was recently deployed overseas.  Despite the geographical separation from his wife and kids, he can share the same worship experience with his family, who attends at our Knoxville campus.  The shared experience helps them to stay emotionally connected through the separation.

Yvonne is a widow who lives out of state and is unable to go to church because of physical disabilities.  She found our iCampus through the recommendation of a friend, and this is what she had to say: “I am blessed to be able to praise and worship God and be a part of a church community in spite of my body’s limitations. My spirit has been set free!”

Robert and his wife normally attend our Knoxville church campus, but due to issues with his Parkinson’s, there were several weeks when he was unable to attend.  Through the Internet Campus, he was able to stay connected and receive personal connection and prayer in the midst of his recovery.

We’ve also had missionaries overseas that connect to our Internet Campus, and people traveling or on vacation often join us online.

Although these names have been changed to protect peoples’ identities, each story represents at least one person whose lives have been touched through Faith Promise’s Internet Campus.

Here are some quotes:

“I attended Faith Promise for over a year, but due to the economy we are no longer able to drive 50 minutes to church. I am so happy that you have started this service! I have missed Faith Promise, and look forward to learning and growing online!”

“I just wanted to say thank you for the opportunity to hear Pastor and worship with you guys today.  I am home with a sick child, and this allows me to participate!  Thanks again!”

“Thank You! My family and I moved [into the Knoxville area] in November of last year, and we have really been lost since we have been here. We came from a church much like Faith Promise and have not found church home. I just veiwed your service online and know that we will be attending next week without a doubt.”