Back to Church Sunday

September 15, 2019, 10:15 a.m. 

Lunch Following

Several months ago I shared a statistic compiled by LifeWay Research80% of those attending church at least once a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith. Yet, almost half (48%) stated that they have not invited an unchurched person to attend a church service or program in the last six months. 

Last week in my article I mentioned that according to 82% of the unchurched would be interested in coming to church if invited by a friend.

Reflecting on both statistics leads me to two conclusions. 1) If we would invite an unchurched friend or family member to attend church with us there is a very high probability that we would be successful. 2) Statistics are helpful in organizing 
and interpreting information, identifying trends, and measuring performance. The greatest value of statistics however is that they help us to plan better. 

With that in mind, the plan is to challenge everyone to invite an unchurched friend or family member to attend worship with you on Sunday, September 15 at 10:15 a.m. In fact, please invite several folks to join you. Also, pack their lunch along with yours and invite them to stay as we share a meal together.    

Back to Church Sunday is about four weeks away. That gives us time to pray, invite and encourage the individuals the Lord is leading us to contact. It is also a great time to reconnect with and invite those who have been out of church for a long time. 

Let me remind you of another event at The Ridge Church:

Next Sunday, August 25 10:15 a.m. is Step Up Sunday. We will bid summer a fond farewell as we worship outside, recognize our Sunday school/Small group leaders and classes, and enjoy a meal together. This is another opportunity to invite our friends and family to attend. 

You’ll Get Through This

You’ll get through this.

It won’t be painless.

It won’t be quick.

But God will use this mess for good.

Don’t be foolish or naïve.

But don’t despair either.

With God’s help, you’ll get through this.

“You fear you won’t make it through. We all do. We fear that the depression will never lift, the yelling will never stop, the pain will never leave. In the pits, surrounded by steep walls and aching reminders, we wonder: Will this gray sky ever brighten? This load ever lighten?

 God doesn’t promise that getting through trials will be quick or painless. It wasn’t for Joseph–tossed in a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongfully imprisoned, forgotten and dismissed–but his Old Testament story is in the Bible for this reason: to teach us to trust God to trump evil.”

Our fall Bible study begins with a six-week series developed by Max Lucado titled, You’ll Get Through This. The study explores the story of Joseph and the truth of Genesis 50:20. What Satan intends for evil, God redeems for good.

The first session begins 6:30 p.m. Wednesday September 11, and includes a video, Bible study and discussion. There will be handouts each week. 
Go to for a short introduction. 

The book “You’ll Get Through This” is available on Amazon in paperback and kindle format. However, it is not necessary for the study.

 I hope you will make plans to attend and bring someone with you. 
Come for dinner (RSVP) 5:30, Bible study 6:30, on your way home 7:30. 

“Mission Possible”

I shared with the children Sunday my imperfect recollection of the TV show, “Mission Impossible”. Each week the show started in the same way: Secret agent Jim Phelps received a tape with a recorded message saying, “Jim, your mission, if you decide to accept it is …”, and then gave him an assignment which seemed impossible to achieve. Of course, he always accepted the assignment. And, by the end of the episode, he had accomplished the mission. 

Key to Phelps success was the group of agents he chose, each with a special talent and passion, who would help complete his mission. 

You and I through The Ridge Church are called by God to fulfill together a mission. We have articulated the mission as, “To lead nonbelievers into fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”  We intend to accomplish this mission through the worship of God, reaching people, teaching people, fellowship, and serving others. Further, we believe that God has gifted each of us with unique gifts to assist in accomplishing our God-called mission. In other words, no one has been placed in this congregation to sit out. 

As attention turns to the new church year beginning September 1, the nominating committee usually meets and attempts to “enlist” volunteers to fill positions. Sometimes enlisting takes on a new definition in order to get the job done. This year I propose a new approach beginning with a different understanding of how we implement the mission God has for us.  

First, God has not called us to volunteer. We are called to be obedient disciples of Jesus.  Second, the current enlistment process focuses on filling positions rather than beginning with the people and the gifts God has provided, often resulting in “warm bodies” in the wrong positions. 

This year I encourage each of you to consider prayerfully where and how you will utilize your unique God-given gifts in ministry through The Ridge Church. As a result, several “positions” may go unfilled. However new ministries may find their way forward. I believe it’s worth the effort.  

Missions VBS in Gorham

As I write this article, we have two more nights of VBS in Gorham. It has been an awesome week! We have more than doubled our attendance from last year. I hope to share a complete report next week. 

Our outreach in the community on Tuesday with the “Paint Night” enabled us to connect personally with about 20 adults from Gorham. 

Several from The Ridge have invested lots of time and treasure in our efforts in Gorham since we began an afterschool program two years ago. The Lord continues to bless those efforts over time. 

This week of Vacation Bible School in Gorham would not happen without your help. Your contributions and involvement make it all possible.  

Thank You!

#VBSGorhamTeam: Lisa Hottensen, Courtney Griffith, Brittany Thies, Pam White, Deb Henson, Allie Hottensen, Dennis Howell, Carla Bishop, Nell McElroy

#MealTeam: SASS Class, Mike & Linda Garlinghouse, Adult 3, Louie & Jenny Hertter

#SnackTeam: Don & Mary McDonald, Don & Avis Barrett, Linda Holt

#VolunteerTeam: Doug & Debbie Murrie, Karissa Howell, Betty Jo Raney, Myrtle Huppert, Jerene Dunn, Karen Dover 

The #VolunteerTeam list will increase as the week continues Thursday and Friday. Remember VBS Celebration Night in Gorham is Friday beginning at 6 p.m. and you are invited to attend!

VBS in Gorham

Thank you to everyone that helped with the meal for the SIU Saluki Football team.  Many hands were involved in its success. There was plenty of food, many servers, much help with set up and clean up. This was a great mission outreach opportunity.

Monday begins a week-long Vacation Bible School in Gorham 
sponsored by the people of The Ridge Church.

The lead team consists of Courtney Griffith, Brittany Thies, Pam White, Lisa Hottensen, Allie Hottensen Deb Henson Wes Henson, Dennis Howell; others will assist as the week goes by. Twelve VBS students are pre-registered. 

Tuesday night we are offering an adult paint night led by Jerene Dunn. There are seven from the Gorham area registered for the class.  The goal is 20. If you would like to join the group to connect with some of the Gorham folks see Lisa Hottensen for more information. 

Each night a meal will be provided for the workers and the community. And of course, there will VBS snacks as well.  

We talk a lot about MISSIONS. Here is a MISSION opportunity right in our own backyard. MISSIONS is not a ministry for someone else. We are all called to the MISSION field. When we get involved in MISSIONS, it becomes more than a line item on a budget. MISSIONS becomes real when we dive in and get personally involved. MISSIONS is not dainty. It is hard work and the results are always up to God.   

I encourage you to join us in Gorham this week. Stop in, help serve a meal, help in recreation, laugh a little, spend some time getting to know the children and parents of the community, let them know that Jesus loves them, and pray that children and their families will come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.    

Our Largest Evangelistic and Outreach Event of the Year

It’s true. Vacation Bible School is the largest evangelistic and outreach event of the year for the Ridge Church. It is also the single event which everyone can have a part.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago 80% of regular church attenders believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith. Yet almost two-thirds (61%) have not shared how to become a Jesus follower with anyone in the last six months. Further, almost half (48%) haven’t invited an unchurched person to attend a church service or program in the last six months.

Vacation Bible School On The Ridge is everyone’s opportunity to invite our unchurched friends and family to attend the Ridge Church. It is everyone’s opportunity to have a part in sharing how to become a Jesus follower.

VBS is the easiest way to share your faith. The statistics tell us that everyone loves VBS. 95% of parents agree that their child’s participation in VBS was one of their most meaningful church experiences. Also, almost three quarters of parents (69%) will encourage their child to participate in a VBS event at a church they do not attend if invited by one of their friends.

Everyone can step up and take part in this evangelistic outreach ministry that the Lord has given us to reach our communities with the good news of Jesus.

Here’s how everyone can step up this week:

1) Be a part of the prayer walk Sunday night at 6 p.m. We will walk through each area of VBS and pray for the work of the Holy Spirit in each facet of VBS.

2) Attend the VBS celebration night on Thursday at 6 p.m. Make a connection with the families of the children.

3) Pray each day for our VBS to be a life changing experience for the children, their parents, and leaders

4) Pray for the VBS workers. It’s no secret that Vacation Bible School requires a hard-working, dedicated team of staff and volunteers to make it happen every year. Build them up in prayer daily.

Why We Aren’t On Hiatus This Summer

Sunday at 9 a.m. we begin a brand-new topic of study in our adult small groups: “Living by Faith: Women Who Trusted God.” As I have been known to say, and I say it again, “This Sunday is the best time to attend a small group.” The reason for saying this, is that we will all be at the same starting point.

Sunday School is designed as an entry point into group Bible study. There are no prerequisites, no expectations of biblical knowledge, and no one is turned away.

When I was growing up the arrival of summer meant everything and everyone went on hiatus. That included most activities of the church including Sunday School. Since summer was brief, summer fun appeared to have priority over every other activity.

At The Ridge while we expect people to be involved in summer activities, which may keep them from attending, we do not put Sunday School/small groups on hiatus. We do not plan for the “summer slump.” Instead, we plan for those who are here.

Let me explain why we do Sunday School and why I am excited about our weekly Sunday morning Bible studies.

• We do Sunday School because of the reality of Jesus’ imminent return. No one knows when Jesus will return and when time on earth will end. All I am confident of, is that we are closer to Jesus’ return today than yesterday.

• We do Sunday School because we want to be diligent in presenting the gospel creatively and often. Through Sunday school small groups, we share the message of salvation.

• We do Sunday School because God loves people. God desires that none should perish in their sin, and God has given us the message of redemption.

Therefore, we organize, teach, and share the gospel through Sunday School as a sign of our obedience to God’s command to make disciples and teach them to follow Jesus. (Matthew 28:19-20)

I will look for you 9 a.m. Sunday in Sunday School. Arrive a little early for breakfast.

With the Arrival of Summer

Summer has quickly arrived. Graduations celebrated, school days completed, and vacations begun. This summer has the potential to be the best summer season ever!

One of the great benefits of living in such a prosperous day and time is that there are so many choices and opportunities before us. However, if we are not intentional with our priorities and planning the moments of summer will quickly pass, leaving us frustrated, asking, “Where did the summer go?”

A solution to that dilemma is placing those important events on your summer calendar. For your convenience the list of summer events on The Ridge are detailed in this newsletter. They are also available online at I encourage you to mark these events on your calendar as soon as possible to keep conflicting events to a minimum.

While you may not be able to attend all the planned events of The Ridge Church this summer, know that each of these events have been carefully planned with a purpose. No doubt, vacations, reunions, and getaways will keep you away from The Ridge at times this summer. Nevertheless, the ministries and financial needs of The Ridge Church do not go on hiatus. The financial responsibility of every member continues through each season of the year.

In addition, as we celebrate summer there is also a need for weekly worship together. Whether you are in town or out of town find a place of public worship each Sunday. I am confident you will find that those moments in worship will enhance the enjoyment of your activities. While not always the case, most family plans can be put on hold for an hour as you worship. In fact, one might consider worship part of the day’s priority.

My prayer for everyone is that this summer will prove to be the best summer ever as you renew and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

The Privilege of Vacation Bible School

In just a few short weeks, Vacation Bible School begins on The Ridge. (June 10-14, 9-noon). Are you excited about it? Is VBS a passion for you? How do you plan to be involved?
Do you view VBS as a privilege?

What a privilege to be a part of God’s plan to reach our communities with the gospel through VBS. Whether or not we have VBS aged children, it is God’s purpose and our privilege to labor together with God in this annual event.

There are many ways everyone can enjoy the privilege of involvement in this year’s VBS.

  • Volunteer to be a VBS worker during VBS
  • Begin right now to invite VBS aged children to VBS.
  • Volunteer to provide transportation for those needing a ride to VBS.
  • Join us Sunday, June 9, at 6 p.m. as the deacons lead us on a prayer walk through the rooms and areas where VBS will take place.
  • Attend the VBS Celebration night on Thursday, June 13, at 6 p.m.
  • Pray before, during and after VBS for the children, their parents, and VBS workers.
  • Provide financial resources to purchase snacks and refreshments for the week
  • Volunteer to follow up after VBS with families that are reached through VBS. Contact Lisa Hottensen for more information.
  • Be an encourager! Be available!

VBS is the largest outreach event of The Ridge Church. It is the greatest single tool God has given The Ridge Church to reach out and share God’s love and the gospel with others.

Everybody loves VBS. 60% of American adults have attended VBS and 90% of them had a positive experience. In addition, 80% of them claim that it was a highlight of their childhood.

There’s more! 95% of parents whose children have attended VBS agree that VBS was one of their child’s most meaningful church experiences. However, like any other tool, it is only effective when used.

Will you join me as an active participant in this year’s VBS? Will you pray with me this Sunday morning at 10:15 a.m. for our VBS and all the others that will happen all over the country?

Stats provided by “It’s Worth It” Landry Holmes, Lifeway Christian Resources, 2018

Personal Reflections on Mother’s Day 2019

As I reflect on Mother’s Day 2019 several random thoughts come to mind.

I think of how much I miss my mom. The older I get the more I miss her. In addition to being a full time mom at home, she also had a full time job outside the home. That she was able to balance and excel at the two is something that would have been beyond my ability.

I connect with my mom most when I am cooking. She was a great cook. Her dishes were never fancy but always tasty and comforting. As I cook, I find myself channeling her thoughts, questions, and comments through the preparation process. Believe me, her comments were one of a kind. For Easter, I attempted to recreate her potato salad. According to my brother Dave, it was close but not quite. The debate was whether mustard was included. He said, yes. My other brother Tim, said, no. There was also a discussion about the proper amount of celery seed. So, I started to call her to find out …

Debbie and I are so blessed with five grandchildren. Two of them born within the
last two months. Brittany with four children is a wizard at managing chaos. She is able to focus on each child individually while simultaneously directing the whole household (including Brad) in their duties and responsibilities. How does she do that?
(Moms are like that, yes they are!)

Courtney is a brand new mom. She and Bradley have had some experience at parenthood with the raising of Luna. However, the arrival of Landry Gray presents a new set of challenges. Courtney methodically and tenderly assesses Landry’s moment-by-moment needs. Her quiet patience is quite calming.

My daughters are great moms! I whole-heartedly confess that their gifts and abilities of momhood did not genetically transfer from my DNA. I am confident they are mirroring the examples their mom has lived out. As I observe the gestures, actions, and reactions of both Brittany and Courtney, I realize they have Debbie’s mothering DNA. Debbie continues to provide a Godly example of mothering skills and abilities
to her children and grandchildren. What a great legacy she is developing for generations to come.