Let’s Buy Some Land 217church!

I am so excited about the next season of 217church as we plan to purchase land!  In case you missed it, We are transitioning into combining into ONE CAMPUS at the Robbinsville Sharon School on Sundays beginning October 9th.  Here is the schedule of when and where we will be meeting over the next few weeks.  Watch video below to hear the news from Sunday.  I’m looking forward to all God has for us…

October 2 – Looking Back – 10:30 am Combined service at Hamilton AMC 24

October 9 – Looking Forward – 10:30 am Combined service at Sharon School in Robbinsville

October 16 – Courageous Sacrifice – 10:30 am Combined service at Sharon School in Robbinsville

Be one of the First to Invest in this vision:  GIVE HERE to the Building Fund

(Please note: If you are viewing video on a Mobile Device you must scroll to bottom and enable “DESKTOP MODE”)

4 Reasons We Are Combining Our 2 Campuses –

#1 Land Purchase –  We feel called to move towards a more permanant location and purchase a piece of property in order that we can build.  We have been a mobile church for seven years and we are ready to take the next step in our development.  We have identified a piece of land and are planning on making an offer as soon as we have the required resources.

Key Prayer:  Favor with the township and people of Robbinsville as we continue to serve

#2 Unity   As we streamline our ministry, we will continue to do incredible work through our 217groups in Hamilton and other townships.  Both of our weekend ministry teams will be combining and the process has started to leverage these teams.  Meeting together in One Service will allow us all to worship and pray together during this season.

Key Prayer:  For unity and increased relationships in our church family

#3 Saving Resources – As we transition, we will be saving $70,000 in rental space costs per year.  This just makes sense for us right now as we simplify and gather our resources in order to make sacrifices going forward.

Key Prayer:  Provision of $200-$250K in resources to make this offer on the land

#4 Urgency –  The time is now – God is calling us forward and we must move swiftly to capitalize on this momentum.

Key Prayer:  For energy and open doors going forward

Listen to our Sunday PODCAST on the Go HERE

Watch the full message “Our Strategic Advantage” Here:

As Joshua is commissioned as the new leader of the Hebrew nation, his vision is clear and so is his advantage.  God is with Him.  If we are to walk into this new season where we have strategic advantage, we must have these four attitudes: No turning back, no limits, no doubts, and no excuses.

 

5 Marks of an Incredible Team

We HAVE HUGE NEWS at 217church today. It just so happens today is the Day many as well have been waiting for – the kickoff of the NFL Sunday season.  The preparation, the anticipation and the signal of a NEW SEASON.  I can guarantee you one thing, the overarching quality that makes for an incredible team that will be in the next Superbowl is…CHEMISTRY.  The qualities listed below create attractive, effusive chemistry.  Incredible teams don’t have perfect people but everyone understands their role and what the goal is…WIN.  This is Exhilarating!

It’s not personal ego or accomplishment that matters, but in the end it’s what is on the SCOREBOARD. 

WilsonJersey  

In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”  Nehemiah 4:20

Teams rally together and in the case of a church, if God is for us who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) Our scoreboard is lives rebuilt, small groups living sent on mission, and disciples made.  All of these things happen through teams.  From the beginning, everything we have done has been around the idea of teams.  It exciting to be a part of an INCREDIBLE team.  

5 Marks Of An Incredible Team…

#1 Unselfishness –  When one person gets all the credit, the team is dysfunctional.  Unselfishness seeks to advance others for the betterment of the team and the advancement of the cause.  When one person makes decisions based on what is best for them rather than the team, it all falls apart.  Unselfish people are constantly early for the meeting.

QUESTION:  Do you look out more for yourself or others?

#2 Reliability   Not just when things are good but even more so when things aren’t looking good.  If you disappear when things get rough, your hurting the team.  It’s easy to be a part of a team when things are great, but your true commitment is tested when you don’t see a solution. Reliable people are present through ALL circumstances and they KEEP their word.

QUESTION:  Do you support or subvert the vision when things get tough?

#3 Clarity – The greatest teams I have been about are clear and concise about what the common goal is.  This happens when people understand how what they do fits with the overarching vision.  Where there is clarity there has already been great conviction.  WE MUST do this, WE WILL do this, NO MATTER WHAT, THIS IS HAPPENING!  The vision is razor sharp, easy for people to see and experience.

QUESTION:  Is your team clear about what your team is about?

#4 Urgency –  Look, there is limited time to complete the vision.  Working diligently to accomplish something that has a noble purpose should not be intentionally delayed.  For our church, the urgency is critical.  If we don’t work quickly, people go hungry, kids don’t find Jesus, parents lose direction, people lose hope, the enemy temporarily wins.  Now is the time!

QUESTION:  Are you complacent or compelled when it comes to your team’s vision?

#5 Honor – This may be the most important of all the qualities.  When honor is present there is a deep respect of the people you are working with and for.  People matter to God and their gifts are to be encouraged.  No gossiping, no side conversations, not a critical spirit.  But encouragement, direct communication and love for one another.

QUESTION:  Are you a complainer or a champion of unity?

Wear your favorite team jersey this Sunday and get ready to be a part of an incredible TEAM!  Go 217church!  What else would you add to this list?  Can’t wait to share the HUGE NEWS with you!

Josh

Our Next Series study of the Book of Romans Starts September 18

Unstoppable Banner

September 18 – Unstoppable Gospel

September 25 – Unstoppable Grace

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Courage For a New Season

Next Tuesday I am sending my six children BACK TO SCHOOL!  Mostly there is excitement for my kids, but I’m sure underneath the surface it isn’t all anticipation and joy.  Do you remember the first day of school?  So much anticipation every year with new friends, new teachers, and many times a new school.  Inevitably something creeps into our mind though…FEAR.   What will happen?  Fear makes cowards of us all and makes us want to give up, sometimes even before we start.  That’s right, the most debilitating four letter word known to man is FEAR.  It will destroy you.  But what does it take to have courage in this new season of your life?

“Courage isn’t having all the answers, but believing God has them.”

road-sign-courage

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Growing up this verse above was on my wall.  I would read it every day.  Eventually it stuck in my brain and somewhere along the way it made its way into my heart.  What am I trying to say?  DON’T GIVE UP!

What It Takes To Have Courage 

#1 No Turning Back –  “Let go of your past and embrace today.

Life will NEVER be the same.  There I said it.  This may be hard news, but fear of stepping forward many times has to do with the debilitating effects of past experiences.  This pain can cripple us, but we must use our pain as a powerful motivator of what is to come.  The Israelites knew pain.  A whole generation died, the people were in slavery.  You can’t go back, things will NEVER be the same, and you have to let go.  The past will either paralyze you, Preoccupy you, or prostrate you before God.

#2 No Limits –  “Vision makes some people nervous, but it inspires others.”

There really are no limits to what God can do.  This doesn’t mean God WILL do it, it means he CAN do it.  This is the dilemma of the Christian life.  Our frustration comes when we disagree with God on what HE DOES.  However, our belief and prayers have to be that God has our best interest in mind, and His limits and possibility are unrestrained.

#3 No Doubt – “Courage doesn’t mean careless, it means careful dependence.”

Doubting God is like arguing the sunrise.  Will it happen? Inevitably, but is it hard to wait and it seems like the night is dragging on forever.  One thing you can be sure of though, God’s timing is NOT our timing.  The more we listen to God the more we understand His timing and the less we tend to doubt.  The younger we are, the harder this is because we simply don’t have the experiences built up helping us understand the faithfulness of God.  Dependence on Him is His aim. Believe.

#4 No Excuses – “Life is short, just take the step.”

I have met so many people who have so many excuses of why they aren’t doing what they feel God is calling them to.  Here is a question to end all questions:  Did you do the LAST thing you felt God told you to do?  I’m not talking about the warm fuzzies.  I am talking about the absolute clarity you had to take a step, confirmed by wise counsel, but you JUST – COULDN’T – TAKE – THE – STEP.  Today is the day, now is the time, MAKE IT HAPPEN

 

Josh

September 11th is VISION SUNDAY at 217church – We have HUGE NEWS for you about the future of the church!

Our Next Series study of the Book of Romans Starts September 18

Unstoppable Banner

September 18 – Unstoppable Gospel

September 25 – Unstoppable Grace

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Are You Spiritually Sick?

The American Cancer society spent over $45 Million on cancer awareness last year. Here is why…People don’t like to go to the doctor, but EARLY DETECTION IS VITAL to surviving the disease!

Now – How spiritually healthy are you?  What can you see from your perspective?  Want your health to get better?  What you put your identity in can propel you forward or prevent you from growing in your spiritual health.  Knowing who you are and where you come from leads to transformational perspectives in the heart of a leader and eventually it flows to behaviors.  But too often leaders – get – sick.  Really – sick.  The greatest distraction in our spiritual health is PRIDE.  Left to our own pride, our identity begins to come from the wrong things, like an inflated sense of self worth or obtaining more things.  Sometimes our pride lead us to the point where we lose credibility, family, marriage, ministry, and even our very sanity.  Spiritual health and vitality is at the center of who we are as humans and our spiritual health guides and directs every other area of life.

“Strength happens intentionally not accidentally.”

eagle perched

“…but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

The spiritually healthy person understands balance, focus and intentionality.  Balance between being around people and being alone.  Focus on why we do what we do and not just what we are doing, and intentionality in action so we can reach our ideal health plan.

What Does a Spiritually Healthy Person Look Like? 

#1 They Soar –  they shall mount up with wings like eagles;”

Everyone needs time to dream dreams and see the big picture where we soar.  The above scripture says, when we WAIT on the Lord we rise above the action allowing God to show us things we didn’t see before.  Soaring means gaining clarity and perspective in action in where you are going.  When you soar you gain better understanding of what has happened and where God is calling you.  Soaring helps you see what is MOST IMPORTANT.  Each one of us needs to learn to soar in our spiritual health.  We each need a spiritual health vision statement.  Mine is simply this… “to be with Jesus.” Casting a strong empowering vision statement for your spiritual health will give you clarity.

Action Plan:  Plan a 1 day spiritual getaway to cast a vision for your spiritual health.

#2 They Stride –  “they shall run and not be weary;”

While running the Marine Corps Marathon a few years back I “hit the wall!”  Mile 19 was the worst mile I have ever ran in my life.  I was weary.  My legs were tired, my breath was shallow and my resolve was pathetically weak.  I wanted to quit and I didn’t feel like I could complete the race.  But then I remembered my motivating factor, If my father a Marine endured through Vietnam, then I can do this.  Let your why define your what.  

When you are striding you need the right motivation for your action.  If you are striding and are weary you probably need to soar more.  You are living an imbalanced race.

#3 They Slow Down – they shall walk and not faint.”

I have met with and coached with so many people who refuse to, and don’t want to slow down.  Do you work from your rest or do you rest from your work?  This is an important distinction.  We were created for God and His purpose and asking His direction seems pretty important to a balanced life.  Waiting on the Lord is a primary necessary behavior in the life of a leader and we must excel in this if we are to achieve excellence in our health.  “no fainting allowed.”  He won’t allow it.

Do you have a vision for your spiritual health with tangible action plans?  Can you see clearly the next steps God has for you?  Soar, stride, and slow down in your leadership.  Live in balance and rediscover your originally intended identity.

Are you striving to be a high capacity leader?  Are you a Pastor and need a coach?  contact me at josh@activatecoaching.com – Let’s craft your health plan together.

   logo-activate_FINAL

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Diversity Creates Incredible Unity

As I walked into 217church this weekend, I met a man born in Nigeria, his name was Castellanos.  He has been coming for over 4 years and I asked him why he comes.  He said, “I love the different kinds of people, black, white, asian, hispanic, the music, the friendly people.  I think this is what heaven will look like!”  BAM!  He hit the nail on the head!  Every week I get to meet with an amazing diverse group of people as 217church.  When we started the church over six years ago, we wanted it to look like the neighborhoods we planted in.  This meant we were going to be diverse.  And wow, did God make us diverse.  Yesterday as I looked out over the people of our church, here is what I saw.   I saw people from almost EVERY CONTINENT.  People from South Korea, Nigeria, Uganda, China, Venezuela, Great Britain, Philippines, Ecuador, India, Mexico, Columbia, Puerto Rico, Chile, Kenya, Poland, and of course the United States.  People from the rural areas and people born in urban Brooklyn, the Bronx, Newark and Trenton.  Because of our diversity of background, it helps us to appreciate and celebrate our differences.  Something that is sorely lacking in some communities and people groups.  We are striving to understand what it means to be a missionary to our culture in the way Jesus.

“God never gives up on His people.”

robbinsville worship

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.”  Colossians 3:11

Our Gospel Work…

At our church we are simply, IN CHRIST. Because of the differences already represented in our people by their cultural background, we are living a Gospel where all are accepted and where peace reigns supreme.  We have become a beautiful expression of the Gospel.  I have been experimenting and praying over this idea for some time now.  While I believe the Gospel must be brought into individual cultures to be expressed in a way people understand in their native cultural framework, the Gospel also must be experienced in a way where we lay down our preferences and celebrate the different ways God expresses Himself through a redeemed people group.  We have become and are becoming an “local international church” in the heart of New Jersey.  Whereas one hundred years ago we had to travel thousands of miles to reach the nations, now in 2016, the nations have come to us.  As opposed to “working hard” to reach people who are different than us, we are finding that the GOSPEL DOES THE HARD WORK OF ACCEPTANCE.

Our Hope…  

These last few days, seeing the exhibition of racism, intolerance and disregard for human life has made me sick.  Absolutely sick and totally disappointed.  Certain people are using these terrible circumstances for their own benefit but through it all, there IS HOPE!

Even in the midst of murder, chaos, racism, deception, betrayal, pain, and loss, the church today must preach Jesus. We must celebrate the Gospel – Today is a day of healing – Today is a day of restoration – Today belongs to God and all that is in it – Today We celebrate Jesus redefining the sabbath – Sunday is a reminder of the resurrection, pure and simple. The indescribable, unrelenting, mysterious love of God through his son Jesus, crucified, RISEN, that we may be forgiven and extend that same forgiveness to others. The love of Jesus takes my breath away. 

No matter what we look like, what happened this week, what our background or preferences. The Gospel demands and calls that we come together and proclaim peace and humility forgiving one another. Maybe the most important thing you do this next week will be to start the week in the presence of the Holy Spirit, surrounded by the body of Christ, caught up, receiving communion together. If even for just a moment, in the Glory and awe of the power, the protection and the power of Jesus is felt and recognized, THIS – IS – LIVING!

What is the Point?  

Could it be that the church, not politics, not media, not a social action group, should be the way for us exert the maximum leverage on the issue of racism and oppression in our communities?  I believe it is.  I’m not talking necessarily about just the institution of the church, but the uncontrollable, unstoppable, formation of God’s people at work in the community, praying, fasting, serving the community relentlessly, bringing the restorative narrative of the Gospel to the people one act of love at a time.

 

For more on this idea:  Listen to last Sunday’s message here:  God Never Gives Up On His people

     jonah-concept

This Sunday July 17 – “I Don’t Approve, God”

217church meets at 10 AM at the Hamilton AMC24 Theater  11 AM at the Robbinsville Sharon Elementary School every Sunday morning.  If it is your 1st time, we have a special gift waiting for you!

Josh Conn is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

I Need a Second Chance

Anyone feel like they need a SECOND CHANCE?  Take a number, we all do.  This is what is beautiful and appealing about being in relationships with those who will forgive.  It’s hard to believe I have been in a relationship with one girl for 21 years, and she has given me so many chances.  What a lucky guy I am!  I love being around people who are willing to give second chances.  We have all been given at one time or another, a second chance.  In the second chance there is an incredible opportunity.  A chance to reflect the love of God.

“God never gives up on His people.”

2nd chances small

“If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive…”  Colossians 3:13

If you have been given a second chance, then you have an incredible opportunity.  You have been given an immeasureable gift! A chance to right what was wronged. A chance to do the right thing.  A chance to redeem what is broken.  But what is most important is BEING a person who gives second chances.  Here is what I believe you should do with your #secondchance

Redeeming the Second Chance…  

#1 Learn From Your Mistakes – Repeating the same mistake over and over again leads to mistrust and deep hurt.  There must be a progression in your development.  If you want to have integrity in relationships you must be willing to change.  Teachability creates reliability.

#2 Forgive The Past – No question about it, people will hurt you, there is no stopping this.  But just like we want to be forgiven, the mark of a mature person is one who lives the narrative of forgiveness.  Don’t burn bridges, build them.

#3 Share the Mistake – If you want to be one who has credibility, start sharing your mistakes so others can learn from them.  Only a truly humble person will be willing to share their mistakes.  When other people see your vulnerability, they will translate that quality into deep character development.  Let your life be one that others learn from.

#4 Major in the Majors – Keep the main thing the main thing and let everything else go.  IN essence focus on the BIG things because no one is perfect.  Just face it, people are not going to do everything YOU want them too.  It’s ok.  Focus on what is important and realize your won’t be perfect and neither will they.  This means we can’t demand perfection in every little thing.  If you aren’t perfect, why should you demand perfection from others?  This in no way means we should lower our standards or not hold each other accountable, but let your yes be yes and your no be no, and be careful what you say yes to.

The second chance is a gift, use it wisely!

Josh

Join us for our series – Overboard – Things we say to God

     jonah-concept

     July 10 – I Don’t Agree God         July 17 – I Won’t Approve God

217church meets at 10 AM at the Hamilton AMC24 Theater  11 AM at the Robbinsville Sharon Elementary School every Sunday morning.  If it is your 1st time, we have a special gift waiting for you!

Josh is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Should I Do It? I’m Just Not Sure

What do I do?  What decision do I make?  Life is full of questions and one thing is for sure, this will not change anytime soon.  But sometimes we have a gut feeling something is right or wrong.  When presented with the option to come to Jersey and leave a ministry we loved, when presented with the option to plant a church, when presented with the option to adopt three children from Uganda, we had to make BIG decisions, and we couldn’t just trust our gut.  These decisions were full of faith, uncertainty and a lot of trust.  BUT how do we know whether or not we are called to do something? or rather, IT?

The distance between our current reality and our calling is RISK.


question mark

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.”  Proverbs 3:5

So back to the question; Should you do IT?  Are you called to IT?  Is it a deep conviction?  Here are some things to do when you are unsure if IT is for YOU.  And a little hint, you probably won’t be 100% sure, that is ok.  God likes us to step out in faith!  You CAN’T please him if you don’t.  (Hebrews 11:6)

You Might Be Called to ‘IT’ If…  

#1 You can’t stop thinking about it – Ever had a moment where you KNOW you heard from God and then time went by and you just COULDN’T get that thought out of your head?  Yep – that is sometimes how it works.  You didn’t think it, God put it there. If you can’t let go, you MIGHT need to do it.  Here is a hint:  If there is a scripture that lines up with it, BINGO!  Even more confirmation. 

#2 It will cost you everything – If you are going to do something that is a GOD sized idea, it won’t be cheap and easy.  If it is, it probably ISN’T from God.  God calls us to a faith based relationship with him, not just a facts based relationship.

#3 You use every possible excuse not to do it – Reasoning yourself out of following God is a recipe for deep pain.  Remember Jonah?  He didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he ran as far as he could.  Not good.  Trust me, the vision God has shared with you will find you out.  It will be a sobering revelation about your level of trust in God.

#4 You are one of the few who can actually do it – Why do you think you have that skill, speak that language, possess that gift or have the resources and finances to pull it off?  Some things just make sense and you need to stop running.  God has positioned you for it, equipped you in it and empowered you already.  Go do it!

#5 You are terrible at what you do now – Ever seen someone who is ATROCIOUSLY misaligned with their organization or personal skills?  What a waste.  We all have, and I’m guessing you’ve been there.  If you don’t fit, move on. God has something better for you.  Relax and trust because that is why he gave you this vision and called you in the first place.  He KNOWS!

#6 You notice the people around you suffering because of your lack of willingness – If we don’t follow God’s plan we can hold our family, our co-workers, our church, and those around us back.  When you are the ‘bottleneck’ and the stumbling block to people around you, maybe God is calling you on.  It’s ok!  Change is part of life and it doesn’t mean you aren’t valuable, it means God has a better spot for you!

It is time!  Go and do IT!

Josh

Join us for our New series beginning June 26 – Overboard – Things we say to God

     jonah-concept

June 26 – I Don’t Want to            July 3 – Help Me!

     July 10 – I Don’t Agree God         July 17 – I Won’t Approve God

217church meets at 10 AM at the Hamilton AMC24 Theater  11 AM at the Robbinsville Sharon Elementary School every Sunday morning.  If it is your 1st time, we have a special gift waiting for you!

Josh is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

Photo Credit – Here’s who to thank

Achieving Clear Vision

Not too long ago I had an eye exam and the goal was clear:  Walk out with contacts that allow me to see with 20/20 vision.  If I walked out of the office and didn’t feel I had achieved that or gotten close, I would have been unsatisfied.  An eye exam is essentially trial and error where they systematically eliminate the options that don’t allow you to see clearly.  It usually takes a while, then all of the sudden, out of the blue the doctor presents you with an option that is crystal clear.  Mission accomplished!

Clarity in vision creates consistency in daily living.

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org This photo required alot of editing in PS. I like the color and the gausian blur on this one.

“Write the vision, make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”  Habakkuk 2:2

The journey forward in Central Jersey for 217church is becoming clearer and clearer every day.  We know there are some specific things ahead for us and God is painting a picture of the future. I am getting really pumped because I believe God is about to reveal something HUGE to us.  But how do we get more clarity?  The enemy wants to confuse us, but here are a few tools we can use to get clear.

3 Ways To Achieve Clarity in Vision…  

#1 Intentional Prayer – Here has been my intentional prayer over these past months:  “Lord do something BIG on our behalf.” Have you ever set out on a path with a vision and THEN asked God to bless it?  That is the WRONG way to do it!  Failure to get the message from God first means there will be constant division in your life.  You will be fighting with God in conflict.  Learning to align yourself with God in prayer is a life long discipline.  No matter what you are facing, IF you will pray intentionally for clarity, God will speak.  There is nothing wrong with telling God what you want, just make sure you stop long enough to listen for his guiding directional changes.

  • 217church Action Step:  Corporate Weekly Prayer Times – Every Sunday at 9:20am in Hamilton and 10:00 am in Robbinsville we have a prayer time all are invited to.  These are powerful times of seeking God and healing.

2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”  

#2 Increasing Faith – Life is about incremental growth.  Some seasons feel extremely intense and other seem a bit more laid back.  One thing is for sure though, the more your faith increases the clearer the vision gets.  Many times we don’t achieve what God wants for us because we choose fear or facts instead of faith.  Fear and facts can sometimes FOOL you into thinking you are making the conscientious decision when in reality you are just making the most comfortable one.  God will increase our faith, all we have to do is ask.  I’m ready!  You ready?

  • 217church Action Step:  Meaningful Sacrifice – It’s time to believe God for a permanent home for 217church!  That means we are going to GIVE BIG!  Yes that means a piece of property and building for 217church!   Just this week we looked at a piece of property. Do You Believe it can Happen?  I do!  (more on this at the Sunday Services, don’t miss it!)  You can already Give here towards the building fund

Luke 17:5 “The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

#3 Impacting Action – Make it happen!  We are in the business of rebuilding lives one person at a time.  You have to be willing to take STEP 1!  No procrastination is allowed because today is a day of action!  The distance between your intentions and your implementation is your integrity.  Even if you aren’t crystal clear, do SOMETHING!  For our church we know this means living out our value of authentic relationships.  When you feel like you are fuzzy in the vision, take a step forward in what you know to be true.  Here is a truth:  You are a part of the Family of God.  You belong in deep, transformational relationship with other Christ followers.

  • 217church Action Step:  Join A Transformational Small Group – I can almost guarantee if you are willing to get in a small group, the vision for your life will become clearer.  You need meaningful relationships and Godly counsel in order to push forward.

James 2:14  “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?.”

This vision is getting clearer, are you ready to seize it?  Let’s Go!

Josh

 

Our Vision:  Make 10,000 disciples, 1,000 small groups, 100 churches, 10 years, 1 life at a time

Our Mission:  A restored family sent on mission to make disciples

 

217church meets at 10 AM at the Hamilton AMC24 Theater  11 AM at the Robbinsville Sharon Elementary School every Sunday morning.  If it is your 1st time, we have a special gift waiting for you!

Josh is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

photo credit here

3 Keys to a Healthy Small Group

Guest post by 217church Staff Pastor Matt Murphy

When Jesus left earth He gave us His final commissioning as His disciples. He told us to “Go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all I have commanded.” In that commissioning He gave us a new identity. He gave us the identity as disciple makers. None of us are exempt from that. The role of disciple maker is not just reserved for paid professionals. He gave us the identity as being a disciple. If we are going to teach Christ’s commands we must know and live them out ourselves. Jesus didn’t just know, He lived. Jesus gave us the identity of the Trinity. In the trinity we are sent as witnesses by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are servants of the Son because He served us, and we are part of God’s family because He adopted us as His children. Because of Jesus we are disciples sent as a family of servant missionaries to make disciples.

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Discipleship is the point of the church. It is what the church is called to do. We do that through many different venues. One key one is the small group structure of the church. In fact, when we study the early church we see that they organized in smaller family type groups. We cannot explore what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the context of a room full of 100s of people in an hour a week. We should be doing life with people in the context of a spiritual family. It is important that we have a small group of people that we know by name that we can do life regularly with. Do you have that in your life? Does the small group that you are in do that

If you are in a small group I want you to ask yourself the question is discipleship happening? If that is the point, is it happening? Let me be clear discipleship is not just the passing along of Christ’s teachings. Jesus proclaimed the good news with both word and deed.

 

Here are three things that every healthy disciple making small group will have.

  1. Family 

I think that this is the most important one. Jesus said, “by your love for one another they will know me.” Jesus spent a lot more time building the relationship with His disciples than actually teaching them. I could write a whole blog series on the importance of family but if you don’t like each other no one will want to come. Family knows each other deeply and how to apply the truths of Jesus to every situation.  Family spends time together outside of the meeting. In my own family I have organized family times but we also have a lot of organic times we hang out. In your small group do you spend any time together outside of your meeting just having fun and getting to know each other? A healthy family will see each other regularly and often outside of the meeting.

2. Gospel 

Does every member of your small group know the good news of Jesus? Do they know it so well that they can apply it to every area of life? Every area of scripture points to the good news of Jesus. No matter what you are studying you can point it back to Jesus and the good news. A small groups time of study should be focused on the Gospel because the Gospel is the point of scripture.

3. Neighborhood 

Does your group have a heart for a neighborhood? There is are people in your neighborhood that need your family and the good news of Jesus. It goes beyond just serving. If your small group serves, great, but are you building relationships in the midst of that? Do you know multiple names of people in a neighborhood? Do you know there stories so well that you can bring the good news of Jesus to their life? Every healthy small group has a neighborhood that their heart breaks for and orients everything that small group does.

Does your small group have these functioning in a healthy way? What area could your group use the most help? Discuss it as a group. Get coaching in the area you are weakest and make it a strength. We are human so we will never have the perfect group but by God’s Grace we can walk more in step with what it means to be a disciple maker.

Matt is the staff pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here.

 

Inspiration to Take Action – Get it DONE!

I looked over at my neighbor’s lawn the other day.  It was a perfect, pristine, well manicured, well taken care of front lawn.  Every week I see the landscapers come and take care of the lawn, like clockwork.  MY lawn however, uh, was quite the opposite.  There were overgrown weeds taking over, yesterday’s evidence of kids playing and eating in the front yard, and to top it all off, trash, yes trash.  We have ALL been there before haven’t we?  Sometimes, we have to get to the point when we are so disgusted with ourselves and our “lawns” that out of our absolute discontent, we FINALLY make a change.  But here is what I had to see:  A vision for what my yard could look like.  My neighbor has inspired me.

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“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.”  Hebrews 10:24

How long does it take you to transition something in your life?  What has to be the circumstance before you will change something you know that you know MUST be different?  For most of us, it takes a while.  Here are 4 words to remember as you contemplate what needs to be different.

4 Words That Inspire Action…  

#1 Performance – This word has received a lot of bad press in Christian circles.  But let me clarify: We are to do everything for the glory of God, but the practical outcome of that here on Earth will be others benefitting from our actions and seeing our convictions.  We don’t “perform” for the accolades of others, but deal with it, others are watching you, even when you don’t think they are or want them to.  It’s the way God created it.  We were created in community to set the example for each other.  You have influence and it’s time to use it.

1 Timothy 4:12 “Set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”  

#2 Motivation – How you are motivated to do something reveals the depth of your character in your heart.  Our motivation is deeply interwoven into our past experiences and even our own self perception.  But the key to motivating correctly is seeing yourself like GOD SEES YOU.  Whatever is holding you back because of past circumstances, Jesus gives you the freedom to live TODAY differently.  Motivate from forgiveness and grace not fear and guilt.

Romans 8:34 “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

#3 Idealism – What do you wish was different?  Do you want the present situation to change?  Here is a promise to us:  Eventually, things WILL get better.  But here is the hard part:  I just don’t know when.  But it’s coming and it’s called hope.  Dream the dream, write the vision.  Pray, plan and expect God to move.  Looking forward and asking God what his vision is for your immediate future can be a powerful catalyst for transformative action.  So make it happen!

Romans 8:18  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

#4 Freedom – That’s right!  Maybe you feel like you can’t take that action, break that addiction, parent that child, or maybe even just get out of bed today.  But those are all lies.  Terrible lies.  Procrastination IS NOT from God, it is a DEFEATED MENTALITY from your enemy. You are FREE through the Spirit of God.  Remember it is the Spirit of God that empowers you to live His purpose for your life and your contribution to the community.  You aren’t slave so take off the shackles, stop making excuses, and start listening to the Spirit of God in you.  The same Spirit that resurrected Jesus, lives in you!

Romans 8:15  “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!””

Take ACTION!  Time to mow the lawn!

Josh

217church meets at 10 AM at the Hamilton AMC24 Theater  11 AM at the Robbinsville Sharon Elementary School every Sunday morning.  If it is your 1st time, we have a special gift waiting for you!

Josh is the founding pastor of 217church, a multi-site, contemporary church in Mercer County NJ.  217church is a family with small groups in New Jersey and Pennsylvania that meets Sundays in the Hamilton AMC24 Theater 10:00am and Sharon Elementary school in Robbinsville, NJ at 11:00.  Our new Robbinsville/East Windsor Campus meets every Sunday.  If you are looking for a church in East Windsor NJ, Lawrenceville NJ, Ewing NJ, Robbinsville NJ, Hightstown NJ, Hamilton NJ, Mercer County, Middlesex County or Bucks County, PA, we would love to have you join us.  Don’t miss our weekend services. Visit www.217church.com for more information. or watch a weekend message here

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