BridgeBuilder
September 2013

VOL. 1; ISSUE 2

Reflection From the Executive Director

How many of us, church leaders that is, take the time to rest? Did you take a break during the summer months? I want to challenge everyone, including myself, to remember how important rest is and to incorporate it into our lives. After all, it is a biblical principle. This devotional, reprinted from “Wisdom Bites,” shares more ...

Rev. Harold Brinkley
Executive Director

REST

As a consequence of the ‘fast-paced’ ‘technology-driven’ society in which we live, I’m hearing this comment more and more, “Pastor, I feel weary and fatigued. How do I find rest?” In the words of a famous Simon & Garfunkel song, “Slow down, you move too fast, you got to make the morning last.” According to recent studies, living under unnatural time pressures triggers a myriad of psychological, social and physical ailments. The result of this disconnection from God’s appointed pace for life is causing people to show up in therapists' and doctors' offices every day. Disconnected from the natural rhythms of our bodies and souls, we struggle to adapt to the strange vacuum caused by the technological and unspiritual world we have created. Ravi Shankar said, “Activity and rest are two vital aspects of life. To find a balance in them is a skill in itself. Wisdom is knowing when to have rest, when to have activity, and how much of each to have. Finding them in each other - activity in rest and rest in activity - is the ultimate freedom.” I totally agree with this, but what does God’s word have to say about it? In the Bible there are 652 verses on work, 643 verses on rest, and 65 verses on play. Therefore, God wants us to keep a balance between all three, and to do them in an appropriate rhythm using a wise technique.

quoteI am reminded of a story I once heard… One man challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break. The other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other fellow had chopped substantially more wood than he had. "I don't get it," he said. "Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did." "But you didn't notice," said the winning woodsman, "that I was sharpening my axe when I sat down to rest." Likewise, we should be ‘resting in God’ and sharpening the sword of the Spirit - to confront the enemy of our souls.

In Exodus 33:14, God said to Moses, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Indicating that His divine presence brings about rest! In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” While people run here and there trying to find rest, Jesus simply and calmly says, “Come unto Me.” There is a place of rest; a place of quietness; a place of peace and His name is Jesus. He invites you to come to Him and find the rest your soul is seeking. People are looking, struggling, striving, fighting, rushing, and searching - all in an effort to find what only Jesus Christ can give. Henry David Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Many are troubled and agitated in their souls, and they try to find rest in all the wrong places. People look everywhere and try everything in the effort to find rest for their souls. Yet, the only person who can give rest is Jesus, and His invitation is simple… “Come to Me!”

 


Our Newest Partner: Lancaster Bible College
Project Bridges is delighted to welcome its newest partner, Lancaster Bible College, to the Bridges team.

Lancaster Bible College
Lancaster Bible College, Greenbelt Campus

Lancaster Bible College, which has its main campus in Lancaster, Penn., recently acquired the academic programs of Washington Bible College/Capital Bible Seminary. The financially strapped institution was in danger of closing when LBC followed the prompting of the Lord to obtain the college and seminary.

“As a college, we were driven by a motivation to leave the light of biblical higher education on in the capitol region,” said Joshua Beers, Lancaster’s vice president for enrollment management. “In this process, it was our distinct prayer to see God work so that we could clearly partner with churches to reach into the community to see lives transformed by Christ.”

God answered that prayer when He connected Rev. Harold Brinkley, executive director of Project Bridges with Beers. “Our hearts were immediately knit together by the needs of the metropolitan region, and the shared vision and mission of LBC and Project Bridges,” Beers added.

As a Project Bridges partner, LBC offers a 25% discount to students of Bridges member churches. In addition, LBC is interested in working with area churches to invest in the lives of those in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

“I was so impressed by the spirit of the leaders of LBC. They didn’t come with an agenda, rather they were eager to serve, listen and partner with what God is already doing in our region,” said Rev. Brinkley. “As we continue to focus on equipping existing leaders, lay leaders and emerging leaders, we look forward to connecting with another partner that can help us move our communities and churches to another spiritual level.”

Peter Teague
Dr. Peter Teague,
President, LBC

“Lancaster exists for the local church. Our mission is to educate Christian students to think and live a biblical worldview and to proclaim Christ by serving Him in the church and society,” said LBC’s President Peter Teague.

Lancaster Bible College ranks number two out of all of the accredited Bible colleges in the United States. It has provided biblical higher education for 80 years, and currently offers 45 programs distributed through 8 undergraduate degrees, 6 doctoral-level degrees and 1 Ph.D.

Classes will be offered through Lancaster’s iLead Center Capital Region program, which serves adult learners at all levels, and the Capital Bible Seminary. Instruction will be delivered through nontraditional, student-friendly formats, as well as online. LBC’s Maryland campus is located at 7852 Walker Drive in Greenbelt. The convenient location is close to the 95/495 beltway, Baltimore-Washington Parkway and it’s one mile from the Metro – shuttle buses can drop students off at the front of the building.

“We welcome Lancaster Bible College to this area and look forward to working together through this partnership for many years to come,” said Rev. Brinkley.

In fact, the work is well under way. This summer, students from the Lancaster campus in Pennsylvania came to the area to help other volunteers from Project Bridges churches sort through donated school items, which were then given to students in Title I schools located in Prince George’s County, Md., Baltimore and Washington, D.C. (See full story)

“Without their help, we would not have been able to serve children in need,” said Rev. Brinkley. “We thank God for this partnership and its ability to further our reach.”


Developing the Vanguard: Transformational Leadership
For a brief moment, there was stunned silence and then the room erupted with applause. In fact, it turned into a standing ovation. Why?Dr. Bramwell Osula had just delivered a thought-provoking message challenging attendees to be transformational leaders in the 21st century. At the July 13th Regent Bridges Seminar, the conference room was full of church leaders who were hungry for leadership development.

“You know that God has entrusted you with leadership,” Dr. Osula told the crowd. However, he noted, the world is rapidly changing and if the church is to remain relevant, our leaders have also got to be relevant. “God’s word remains constant, but the manner in which we share the timeless truths must be altered,” said Dr. Osula.

So, what did he hope leaders would take away from the seminar?

Dr. Osula’s topic centered on “Developing the Vanguard,” which was a metaphor for leading at the forefront of a trend, movement or battle. He cautioned against becoming complacent or simply glorying in achievements and how far a church has come. “You are in real trouble if you think you have arrived. You must force yourself to keep exploring and finding new paths,” he urged.

Rev. Dennis Smith, from Christ Kingdom Church, resonated with this point and shared his thoughts about the impact of a dramatically changing world for pastors:

Recognizing & Addressing Trends
Dr. Osula highlighted various trends in our world and indicated that leaders must think about the implications for the church. “Leaders worthy of the name and title are attuned to the signs and signals of the times,” he noted. Some of the trends included:
• Aging
• Globalization
• Technological Development
• Commercialization
• Health and the Environment
• Urbanization

Congregations around the world have been impacted by at least one of these trends. How is your church responding? Dcn. Ramona Oliver Branch explained some perceived challenges and opportunities in her church, as well as how the youth are leading the way to expand beyond the “brick and mortar” building.

Vital Questions About the Future of Your Church – 50 Years From Now
Here are a few questions from the presentation to consider as you assess the strength, mission/vision and organizational structure of your church.

  • What will your congregation look like in 2063?
  • If your church leadership were asked to make a case for why your congregation is important to the community, what would it be?
  • How does the statement, “in fifty years we may have less brick and mortar churches and more house churches,” impact your congregation’s future?
  • What’s your congregation’s greatest area of vitality?

Join us for the next Regent Bridges Seminar on Saturday, November 2. Watch your email for details.


Project Bridges & World Vision Partner With Six Flags America
to Serve Title I School Children

Pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks and backpacks are all common school supplies that most students need. However in our current economic climate, it has become increasingly difficult for many students to show up at school with the tools necessary for learning.

This summer, Project Bridges and World Vision partnered with Six Flags America through its “Stuff a Coaster” school supply drive. Amusement park guests who donated at least six items during the 2nd week of August were able to receive a half-price ticket to enter the park.

school supply group
Volunteers

During that week, the donations poured in and more than 3,000 items were collected, which far exceeded the original goal of 2,000. Also, 15 college students from Lancaster Bible College, a Bridges partner, travelled to town early in the morning to help other volunteers from Project Bridges churches with sorting and packaging the donated items.

“By collectively leveraging our connections and resources, we were able to facilitate greater impact for 2,000 children in need attending Title I schools in Prince George's County, MD, Baltimore City and the District of Columbia, where 80% and higher of the students are on free and reduced lunch,” said Rev. Michael Worsley, engagement officer for World Vision’s U.S. Programs.  “And that’s why this partnership means so much ... we are giving under-resourced children a strong start toward a successful school year.”

Students at William Paca Elementary School in Lanham, Md., Monarch Academy in Baltimore, and Barnard Elementary School in the District, received the donated school supplies.

“I am so thankful that we were able to support these students and show them the love of Christ,” said Rev. Harold Brinkley, executive director of Project Bridges. “We certainly could not have done this alone. Our collaboration with all of our partners shows a glimpse of Kingdom building,” he added.


October Ministry Renewal Forum | Monday, Oct. 21, 2013
Join us next month for the forum, “Church at Risk: Piercing the Sacred Veil.” Over the last five years, lawsuits against churches and clergy have risen by more than 40 percent. Come and learn diverse ways to shield your church, ministry leaders and volunteers from unnecessary exposure to litigation, personal liability and negative media scandals. For more information and to register,
click here.

Regent Bridges Seminar III | Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013
Save the Date! Our last Regent Bridges Seminar for 2013 will focus on overcoming community trauma. Does your church understand how to handle the emotional trauma of poverty, hopelessness, gun violence, drug addiction, dysfunctional families, sexual violence, incarceration, etc.? Are you addressing emotional baggage from a biblical perspective? Be sure to join us in November for fresh insight on how to interact with those in our communities who are burdened by traumatic experiences.

 

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