By Heather Cochran
Having been a teenager in Lodi myself, I have this vivid memory of the night I first heard the idea of a teen center opening in our city. It was close to fifteen years ago, and my youth pastor at the time, Glen Barnes, was driving me to his home to babysit.
“You know what I’d love to do, Heather?” he asked as we drove down Lodi Avenue past the sad-looking Sunset Theater, which had been boarded up for some time. “I’d love to buy that theater and turn it into a teen center. It would be awesome to completely refurbish it and turn it into a safe place teens could hang out afterschool and have fun.” The idea definitely caught my attention, but I never imagined the amazing and unexpected ways God was going to grow that seed of a dream into a fruitful variety of ministries, changing the lives of teenagers and their families all over Lodi in the years to come.
Making the Idea a Reality
Pastor Glen still remembers the beginnings of this dream. “We started on the idea not long after the old bowling alley closed and people said, ‘Now there is officially nothing to do in Lodi.’ We had some conversations and made an offer to buy [the old Sunset Theater] … but I think God spared us from all the work (and limitations) that would have come with it and brought us just the right spot at the right time.”
That right spot turned out to be on the corner of Lockeford and School Streets, a central location in the direct path of youth who would benefit from the center most. “We really did not know what we were doing,” says Pastor Glen. He and Steve Steele prayerfully began knocking on doors; “God opened doors, and little by little we had the courage to walk through them.” God provided just the right investor, who was in a position to purchase the current building and lease it back to One-Eighty for $1 a year. Around the same time, God provided the funding needed to establish the new youth center with a one-time grant for $140,000 through United Way, brought to light by Pat Patrick. “The money was huge; we could not have gotten started without it. Once we had the building and start-up money, we were able to get other donations to renovate the building and get the doors open.”
Those familiar with the teen center will agree that perhaps God’s greatest providence was for the people to run it. “Jake and Alison and their amazing staff (along with many others through the years) came along at just the right time.” All along, God has had room to do miracles thanks to the openness of those involved. “When we see a need,” relates Glen, “[it means having] a willingness to say we can try and address that need.”
Alison McGregor, director of Adolescent and Family Services at the One-Eighty, remembers her first years there with her husband, executive director Jake McGregor. “When we arrived, the One-Eighty had somewhat of an identity crisis. Opened with the original intent of being a safe place for all teens, it quickly became the place for at-risk teens, with a staff unprepared for the drastic shift. We loved the idea of a place for at-risk, but we too had to recognize how unprepared we were for what the One-Eighty encountered. Jesus has been our guide every step of the way, and much of it in the dark, over rocky terrain.”
Thanks to His servants’ willingness to step out in faith, God has been doing some amazing work. Here are just a few of the ministries that have blossomed from that first seed of faith:
Youth Programs at the Center
Every weekday afterschool from 2:30-5:30pm, teens can go to the One-Eighty for tutoring as well as all kinds of fun activities, including practicing stunts at Splinter Skate Park; taking group classes (everything from art to cooking); playing games; and enjoying delicious snacks at the café. There is Friday Fun Night from 7-11pm, during which teens can listen to a live concert, go head-to-head with friends in competitive games, or watch a big-screen movie.
Not only do these programs give teens a safe place to have fun with friends; they provide a chance to form meaningful relationships with adults like Sarah Chase, Matt and Laurie Krieg, Robert Partida, Melissa Hamm, and multiple others who care about them and want to actively show them Jesus’ love on a daily basis.
Adolescent and Family Services
Operating out of the Dan Brown House next door, AFS provides services to help meet the social and emotional needs of adolescents and their families in a safe, loving environment through individual and group counseling. Three professional therapists meet with individuals, families, and groups to counsel them through their struggles. Alison McGregor shares some of her experience: “Last year, during a staff meeting, I realized the One-Eighty staff were praying for some of my confidential clients. Later in session, these clients began to share about their mentors and what they had been learning. Mid-year I heard that these students were going to winter camp or youth group, some even have chosen Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Those are precious stories to me!”
Recently, the One-Eighty Teen Center was hired by the City of Lodi to run gang intervention groups on school campuses. This program teaches life skills to groups of students at select middle and high schools in Lodi and Stockton, discussing everything from anger management, substance abuse, and gang prevention to low academic achievement, cutting class, depression, eating disorders, and anxiety. Laura Smothermon, who facilitates four Why Try groups at Lodi and Stockton middle schools, relates how she’s seen God at work through the program: “Many times the students I work with in Why Try come into the group with hardened hearts full of fear and hurt. They have worked very hard to build this wall, and they are resistant to anyone who attempts to gain their trust. Many adults have let them down, and they view me as someone else who will possibly do the same. The most amazing thing I have seen God do (and I see this continuously) is that little by little the hearts of these kids begin to soften, they begin to feel empowered to change behaviors that have been holding them back in life. God called me to work with young people from challenging backgrounds, and it is such a privilege to witness the changes in these beautiful young people.”
The One-Eighty Mobile Unit
At the same time God was leading the One-Eighty onto school campuses through Why Try, He opened the door for outreach to students at Kofu Skate Park. Just this summer, Sean Campbell became the One-Eighty Mobile Unit Coordinator; he drives the renovated mobile home, complete with scooter shop, café, computers, and video-editing lounge to the local skate park every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. While Sean gets to interact with many youth who spend time at the skate park, he pours special time and heart into those accepted onto his new Scoot Team. To be a member, applicants must agree to such requirements as achieving and maintaining a 2.5 GPA, refraining from drug and alcohol abuse, volunteering at a non-profit organization two hours per week, meeting one-on-one with a sponsor regularly, and attending and bringing new people to One-Eighty events. Team members can earn a new complete scooter by the end of the year as well as grips, wheels, and new grip tape.
In 2013, those at the One-Eighty desired to reach out to elementary-age students on the east side of Lodi. Studies done by the Lodi Police Department have shown that gangs have plagued the high-risk areas of Lodi and that children are now being recruited for gang-related crimes. Missionary Liz Stevahn seeks to build relationships and serve those affected by not only working on Lodi’s east side but by living in an apartment complex adjacent to Hale Park. While she started out as the “odd white girl who didn’t belong,” her neighbors now see her simply as “Liz who lives in #14. I am someone they can trust.” That trust allows Liz to form connections with a dozen or so kids whom she spends time with twice a week after school. She also visits Lawrence Elementary School three days a week, where she runs a lunchtime sports league. Liz says, “God is working and keeps opening doors for new relationships to be built, and I pray that we seize the opportunities to make these relationships count.”
As an adult who teaches teenagers in the Lodi area, I am in awe of my God, who took that idea for a teen center Pastor Glen first shared with me when I was a teen and cultivated it into a diverse and incredibly fruitful network of ministries impacting our community. If you would like to be part of God’s story in continuing to develop the One-Eighty Youth Programs, whether through prayer, financial giving, or volunteering, you can learn more at www.180lodi.org.
Two very busy ministries in our church are led by Lori Riley, Director of Little Kids and Family Ministries (birth – 4 years) and Andrew Manies, Pastor of Children's and Outreach Ministries (K - 4th grade). Recently they sat down for an open-ended discussion about what FBC offers for families. Who is served by these ministries? What are the important lessons we hope our children will learn? What matters today, and what is the takeaway for the future? Here is what Lori and Andrew had to say:
Lori: We are here to partner with parents in building a foundation of a relationship with Christ for their children. We are not the substitute for what the parents can do. We’re here to partner with them, not to do it for them or to just provide child care so that parents can go and do and grow in their relationship with the Lord. Again, we’re here to provide a substantial bible-based program for our FBC children and the children in the community that would come here, and if by doing that, we allow for parents to go to their studies, that’s great. We want to do that, but we are not here just to provide child care, and we are not here to take over the role of introducing and building Christ into their lives.
Andrew: I’d really echo what Lori said. If a kid’s involved in everything going on—if they’re here on Weds. night, it’s about an hour. Sunday morning if they go to Children’s Church and Sunday School, they have about an hour and a half of teaching time. That’s 2 ½ hours a week, maybe a little more if Upward or VBS is happening, when we have direct influence in teaching. Compare that to school, where they are taught for 30-40 hours a week. And if we as Christians really believe that having a bible-centered, Jesus-following life is important, spending 40 hours a week in school but only 2 ½ to 3 hours in bible study, we’re missing something. That’s where parents and even older siblings have to take the lead. I work with K-4, but I have a daughter who’s younger. I love when she comes home and she’s excited about what she learned in Sunday School that morning. Having my children challenge me is ideal. The exchange of information between us is important. Together we grow as a family.
Lori: We’re here to meet the needs of the whole family, and partner with them to help fill in the gaps. Jesus will take them the furthest in all the things they’re going to learn, so we really need to pour a lot into that. I’m here for parents, and I’m here for the kids. It’s not just a nursery. Babies can learn, by touch, by care, by love. From the onset in the nursery we focus on loving the babies and caring for them in a compassionate, Christian way, and showing them Jesus that way. By nature, showing their parents who Jesus is by accepting, loving and caring for their children is a role we take very seriously.
Andrew: To this end, we do continuously need more people to come and serve in the classes. It’s not about you being the best teacher in the world. It’s not about you needing to be the most artistic in the world. It’s that you need to know who Jesus is and be willing to serve. We’ll pretty much give you whatever else you need.
Lori: I would say there are three requirements: you need to love Jesus, you need to love kids, and you need to want to serve.
Andrew: We can all be intimidated by something we’re not familiar with, but I would love to see people who haven’t tried serving the children’s ministry give it a try and see how rewarding it really can be.
Lori: My children recognize the importance of serving in the church because they’ve seen Bob and me serve, and they have been drawn into serving because of what I do, so they’ve witnessed first hand the value and importance of it, and it has helped develop who they are. We allow 6th graders to serve in classrooms once a month. We want to start them learning the value of that really young. We reinforce through partnering what’s good for kids to do. We help them with their community service hours. We want to be that supportive, but it’s a whole package development that we’re talking about. We genuinely care.
Andrew: We have the spectrum of volunteers, from the 6th graders who work with the little ones, then the senior adults, who may choose different roles, but they’re there. They more than show up. They’re like additional sets of grandparents. We also have folks with special needs who serve. If you have a willing heart, we can find you the right place that isn’t just a job, but something you can have fun with.
Lori: It’s our job to meet with those interested in serving and to talk them through their gifts, their passions and then to help figure out what is the best role for them to serve in the church. You never feel invested in anything if you don’t jump in. The other thing about serving in any area of children’s ministry, nursery right on through sixth grade, is that parents can engage with the other children in the room, the ones your children are developing friendships with and their families. If a parent never sets foot in those rooms, they’re missing a whole part of their kids’ lives that they can’t connect to.
Lori’s current needs: I always need help in the nursery and the two-year-old class. Both men and women are needed.
Andrew’s current needs: I’d really like to have several more men who can come and help out in classes. They don’t have to prep a lesson or do anything except to come and be with the kids. There are many boys who don’t have a dad in their lives, who just long for that interaction with men, especially once they get into that 2nd and 3rd grade level when they’ve got a lot of energy. Sometimes they just need someone to say, “Let’s listen right now.”
Lori: In the toddler and preschool classes, men are key. There’s a perception that it’s women’s work. It’s not. Boys and girls need to see men serving the Lord. They need to see men loving Jesus. Kids need to see mommies and daddies serving in the capacity of teaching. They need to see them in all of our classes. It sends a huge message to our little boys, as well, and to little girls and who they eventually marry. Men are supposed to be the leader of the household. They’re supposed to take the Christian role seriously, but if little boys don’t ever see men doing that, then where do they get that role model, other than their own dads?
Andrew: It’s also exciting for a couple to serve together or even a whole family, maybe once a month. Several of our core teachers this summer in VBS were young adults who grew up in the church, perhaps just a little bit out of high school, but not new to serving. They could take on a teacher role because they’d helped for 8-10 years already.
Lori: The mentorship that happens through classroom leaders and the young helpers is a natural occurrence and precious. It’s not planned; it just happens.
You build those relationships by investing in the ministries here—you serve. You find your niche and you commit, and you make it a place of importance. You get so much more from serving then you ever put into it if you’re willing to open yourself up to doing it. It’s just so important. And then this really becomes home and these people will become a part of your family and your life.
Andrew: When I was in college I was asked what was my earliest memory of being affirmed in my faith? I thought of Louise Higginbotham, my kindergarten Sunday School class teacher. When we walked into her classroom she would touch every boy and girl on the nose and say, “Jesus loves YOU.” And then to the whole class, “Jesus loves all of you.” It starts that early for many of us, another person loving you. Which reminds me of something that happened this summer. Some children were very sad that VBS was ending, and when they were told they were heading to Disneyland the following week, they said they just wanted to go back to VBS. When kids can have that much fun learning about God, I know we’re doing something right.
We have great ministers and volunteers at FBC helping to provide a great foundation. You come in not sure of what you’re going to do, then it sucks you in and you love it, and it loves you back. It doesn’t get any better than that.
The Christmas story is one of love, hope, redemption and relationship. So, what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress and debt? Somehow, we’ve traded the best story in the world for the story of what’s on sale.
It starts with Jesus. It ends with Jesus. This is the holistic approach God had in mind for Christmas. It’s a season where love wins, peace reigns, and a king is celebrated with each breath.
Conspire with us!
Advent Conspiracy Project Christmas 2013
Hope of the Nations Primary School, Kamala, Tanzania
Coni Knepper from HOTN says: The dream is becoming a reality! Our goal is to build a place to educate the children that are the poorest of the poor and raise up leaders that not only know English and have the best education but also know Jesus! These are the next generation of children that God will use to change the nation of Tanzania. The final amount that was raised for the project was $220,000, and First Baptist Church of Lodi contributed $55,839, more than 25% of the total. Though the project manager said it would take $400,000, it seems God is stretching our funds! Construction began in April with grading of the land, and then foundations were poured. Our first phase consists of 4 classrooms, a library, administration office, outdoor kitchen, toilets, guard shack and electrical/maintenance building. Currently, the roof is being installed, ceilings are going in and sidewalks are being poured. Everything should be finished by the end of the year. School will begin in the new classrooms in January 2015.
We can't thank First Baptist enough for all the support and hard work people put into the Advent Conspiracy project. It was amazing to see the grand total from one church! Wow!
Advent Conspiracy Project Christmas 2014: Dental Clinic at SF City Impact Ministries
San Francisco City Impact exists to intervene on behalf of the people in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. Their Health & Wellness Center operates a free Urgent Care Walk-in Clinic and Dental Unit ministering to the health needs of the poorest and most broken members of the community. Their goal is to treat the whole person the way God created them in body, mind and spirit.
This free dental clinic is run by volunteer dentists from the Bay Area. The doctors are encouraged to pray with every patient, and attempt to minister to the underlying causes that may contribute to their condition and chronic disease. Each encounter with these Christian dentists provides an opportunity for a life-changing experience for the patient.
This Christmas, First Baptist Church will partner with San Francisco City Impact Ministries to help provide this comprehensive Christ-centered approach to dentistry that shares the Good News of Jesus. Our financial contribution will purchase vital dental supplies and the infrastructure needed for the dental clinic to operate daily and move beyond emergency care and into restorative treatment. Restorative treatment improves digestive health as well as giving dignity and an improved personal appearance necessary for better employment opportunities. The total amount needed to provide the supplies, equipment, and a part-time dental hygienist for operation in 2015 is $45,000.
In November and December four FBC teams are taking a day trip to SF City Impact to participate in their ministries personally. If you are interested in going, ask at the Information Counter.
Another way to participate is to stop by the table in the lobby and make a gift in the name of a friend or family member. You’ll receive an informative card to present to them, and they’ll appreciate not getting another sweater or tie! In addition, our entire offering at our three Christmas concerts will go to this project.
It is not enough to say no to the way Christmas is celebrated by many; we need to say yes to a different way of celebrating. Join us for this year’s Advent Conspiracy!
The Women’s Ministries of First Baptist Church never slow down. In the next three months, they will hold their annual retreat, attend the Women in Faith Tour, and glory in First Noel, the beautiful commencement of the Christmas season.
Their mission statement says, “Compelled by the love of Christ, the Women’s Ministries of FBC is committed to challenge and equip women to grow spiritually, to meet the needs of women in all ages and stages of their lives, to love and care for one another, and to reach out with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” It may be a serious and important goal, but it’s also one they aim for by having fun, finding peace, and walking with God in many different ways.
The annual retreat is always a much-anticipated activity. This year’s theme, “Reflecting God’s Love,” will be celebrated from October 24–26 in Oakhurst, with keynote speaker Cara Lane of Elk Grove, of whom is said, “God has given her an amazing gift of motivational speaking that she uses to bring scripture to life in real and humorous ways.”
Housing options range from $160 to $200 for the weekend, depending on the room choice, and includes all meals from Friday dinner to Sunday breakfast, with checkout at 11:30. Saturday afternoon activities (some require an extra fee) include zip lining, hiking, a fabulous steam train ride (for only $10!), shopping, and horseback riding.
According to Carol Alexander, Director of Women’s Ministries, “We’ll have prayer journals for each individual. We have fun giveaway items—gift cards from various places around town and other wonderful donations. We’ll have quiet times. We’re going to have s’mores and worship on Friday night around a bonfire, and then in the morning at 7:00, anyone who so desires can meet outdoors for an early worship, with Melissa Hamm leading the music. Come as you are, or stay in, whatever you choose.
“We’ll have some small group time as well as our sessions. Our women always seem to enjoy it. It’s fun to get away and connect with old friends and meet new ones. A lot of women are coming for their first time, which is fun. We’re excited about it. It’s going to be a great weekend.”
Then on November 21–22, some women will be attending the Women of Faith Tour. This year’s theme is “From Survival to Revival, 2014: Revive Your Faith, Awaken Your Spirit, Transform Your Life,” and is presented by World Vision at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
Seven speakers, including Sheila Walsh, Lysa Terkeurst, Lisa Harper, Christine Caine, Anita Renfroe, Natalie Grant and Matthew West, will present their programs on Friday night and Saturday. Carol has purchased some tickets, so anyone interested should contact her.
December will bring First Noel, an elegant, inspiring Christmas event for you to invite your friends to. Each year, tables seating eight women are beautifully decorated by FBC women to celebrate the season and provide a place for women of all ages to gather and be spiritual.
This year it’s being held on Friday, December 5, and will feature Christian singer Lisa Daggs for the main program. You can check out her music on YouTube. Contact Bonnie Biddle if you’d like to decorate a table.
Carol says, “The women’s ministry is going well, but we’re always looking for women who want to serve. If they’ve got something that they think would be a creative thing to do for the women’s ministries and are willing to jump in and help put it on, we’re here to listen.”
She also likes to look at the women’s ministries every year to see how they can refresh it. Her committee gets together and looks at the past year, then plots out the next year. Some younger women are on the committee now, and bring new ideas and fresh perspectives.
“I’m so blessed to be in this ministry,” Carol adds. “I feel blessed that God lets me come to work every day, and blessed to work at FBC with the extremely great staff that we have. We all get along and like being around each other, and that’s important. FBC is growing, so I’m excited at the possibilities, and where we’re headed. As a staff, I think we’re being more creative and thinking out of the box in some of the stuff we’re doing. I’m encouraged by that. I like that the young people are heard.”
Our future is in good hands.
This fall, FBC is the place to be Wednesday nights. If you missed the Fall Kick-Off on August 27th, don’t worry: programs officially begin September 3rd.
Food and Fellowship: Every Wednesday night, dinner is served in the gymnasium between 4:30 and 6pm, an opportunity to grab some delicious grub while getting to know that neighbor you otherwise only get to greet during Sunday service. Contact Lori Riley (209) 334-1332
Men’s Study: “The Measure of a Man” with Gene Getz: Pastor Steve Newman will lead this study in Room 6 from 6:15-7:45. This program looks at the characteristics listed for elders and deacons in Paul’s Pastoral Epistles and helps all men see how they can grow in these character traits. The study will be for all men who wish to grow in their relationship with the Lord and find practical ways to mature in their lives and faith.
Contact Steve Newman (209) 334-1332
Women’s Study: “The Power of His Names”: Kerri Kenyon will lead this eight-week study in the chapel from 6:15-7:45. The study’s primary objective is to invite you into deeper intimacy with the One who created you. When you come to know His names you will come to know His love; knowing His love leads you to experience it, and once you experience His love, you are freed to operate in your created design and the fullness of His power.
Register online at www.fbclodi.org/womens-ministry.html
Contact Lori Lewis (209) 200-3525
We will have a second Women‘s study, "Running On Empty: Refilling Your Spirt at The Low Points of Your Life" By Jill Briscoe. It will be led by Shelley Carpenter. Feeling burned out? Unfulfilled? Drained? Jill Briscoe offers hope and comfort for those times in life when we feel empty and tired. With wit and candor, Briscoe draws lessons from several biblical figures that provide spiritual refreshment and renewal to those who are running on empty.
Couples’ Study: “True Spirituality”: Glen and Jani Barnes will lead this study in Room 7 from 6:15-7:45. They will take a closer look at Chip Ingram’s book True Spirituality, which questions why more Christians do not live as Paul exhorts us in Romans 12: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual act of worship.” What does Paul mean, and how can we put this into practice? Come and find out through this small group study.
Contact Glen Barnes (209) 334-1332
Adult Choir: The adult choir rehearses in the sanctuary from 6:15-7:45. If you can sing and want to lift your voice with others in worship, check out the adult choir! Susan Alexander and Dane Burg work together to prepare the choir’s 70 members for FBC’s Christmas concert as well as performances during Sunday services throughout the fall.
Contact Susan Alexander: email@example.com
Little Kids Ministry: Child care is available for infants through four-year-olds from 6:15-7:45. First Baptist is committed to providing a clean, safe, and loving environment. The leaders in each room are responsible for ensuring safety, communicating with parents, and creating an atmosphere that is nurturing, peaceful and age appropriate for the enjoyment of your child.
Contact Lori Riley (209) 334-1332
Kids Club: Kids Club meets in the Children’s Building from 6:15-7:45. Students begin with their individual classes (Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd/4th Grade Girls, 3rd/4th Grade Boys) for an introduction then come together as a whole group for worship, games, and the evening’s lesson. Afterward, students break into their classes to expand on the lesson with activities suited to their age. Students will also have opportunities to participate in hands-on crafts and project-based learning. Whether kids have grown up in church or are attending for the first time, the goal of Kids Club is that every child participating will understand that they can have fun at church and know that Jesus loves them.
Contact Andrew Manies (209) 334-1332
Club 56: Fifth and sixth graders, come grow in Jesus while having lots of fun! Club 56 meets in Room 2 from 6-7:45. Participants play games and make friends as a large group, then break into smaller groups for more intimate discussion and study of God’s Word.
Contact Tim Nielsen (209) 334-1332
Made4Praise Choir: Students in first through sixth grade who love making music and performing are encouraged to check out the Made4Praise Choir, which meets from 4:30-5:20 in the chapel. Rehearsals consist of learning a variety of fun as well as sacred songs while developing such skills as speaking clearly, projecting one’s voice, carrying the melody, and harmonizing. The choir usually performs once a month during Sunday services with a large-scale production in April. Made4Praise Choir will be co-led by Lindsay Caravella and Deanna Morefield this year; they invite anyone interested to try it out, even those who may not be especially comfortable with performing in front of large crowds. Auditions for the spring play will be held between September and October.
Junior High Tournament Series: Tournament Series is a time for 7th and 8th grade students to connect with other students and with volunteers who love them. All the students who come are put on one of three teams and accumulate points. The theme is Cartoons: Nickelodeon, Disney, and Cartoon Network. Each student will receive a free shirt, and there is free food each night. The winning team goes to Six Flags on September 20th for half price; however, each student is welcome to come. The dates are Aug. 27, Sept. 3, 10, 17, & 24 from 6-8pm in the Youth Room.
Contact Tim Nielsen (209) 334-1332
Have you ever wondered about this question? If you’re in high school, this is especially for you! If you are way past high school, what is happening with teenagers may be a total mystery to you, so here’s some insight for everyone.
Elevate is the name of the high school ministry at FBC, and it’s led by Dallas Hamm along with his team of amazing volunteer leaders.
Having fun is what happens on Tuesday nights, with lots of fun and games starting at 6:30 (spike ball anyone?) and a once-a-month trip where everyone goes some place great for an Elevate Outing. In August, it’ll be to Strikes in Elk Grove for bowling! Other outings will be to mini-golf, laser tag, and the bigger better hunt.
Learning about Jesus Bible teaching that’s easy to understand and relates to your real life is always part of Sunday mornings (9:45 am) and Tuesday nights. The best part is you get to talk about it afterwards in a smaller group with friends and a leader who stays with your group throughout high school. The small groups are age and gender based.
Hanging out with friends Every Tuesday night, there’s plenty of relaxed time with your friends as part of the weekly meeting. There are games to play, great food and music while you talk about your week and catch up with everyone.
Getting to sing and worship God Music is a fun and wonderful way to tell God how much we love him, and at Elevate we have great music!
Going to awesome places How does camping on the roof of a houseboat on the Delta sound? Or going to the high Sierras to Hume Lake for a week of summer camp? Getting away on amazing trips with friends makes memories that last.
Getting stretched by being a servant Opportunities like Camp Barnabas in Missouri are important times to see what it’s like to really serve in the Body of Christ. Some students have the responsibility of doing the behind the scenes work that makes the camp happen by cooking or cleaning. Others take on the job of caring one-on-one 23/7 for a camper that has a disability so that they can have a great camping experience. Those who have been to Camp Barnabas say it’s the hardest best thing they’ve ever done!
Being part of the Body of Christ at FBC High school students have a lot to offer the body of Christ, and are a very important part of it. Some use their musical gifts by joining the musical worship team, others serve communion, or help put on dinners for single seniors. Being an active part of the church is important for everyone.
Getting to know Dallas Hamm and other awesome ministry volunteers
Dallas says his favorite thing is getting to be friends with high school people. He loves hanging out at Starbucks, coming to sports events, and being one-on-one with people. FBC is lucky to have such a great guy for our high school pastor, right?
And what if you’re the parent of a high school student? Check out the FBC high school website tab on the church website (fbclodi.org) and keep up with what’s happening. There’s a response form if you have questions, concerns, or want to get involved. There are articles about parenting a teen, and information about what the youth group is talking about so you can be in on the discussion. There’s even an app for your phone called Parent Cue that makes it all easy!
When a couple of parents began meeting in 2002 in their homes to let their children have play dates, they decided it might be beneficial to do a science lab together. After talking about the home schooling options available, they decided there was a need to have a home schooling group for families to have a support network. That’s when Christian Homeschoolers in Lodi (CHIL) began. Since then, it has grown to meet the needs of each family involved.
Tammy Russo, one of the board members, said the organization is based on Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the thoughts I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil to give you a future and a hope.”
The organization provides help to families to ease the wear and tear that goes into being a mom and a teacher.
“Walking that journey with other people sharing the same journey is super helpful,” she said.
The program offers classes for children as well as field trips and also a support group for mothers. Four hours of classes are offered for children age 3 up to the senior year of high school every Monday. The classes, which are geared toward each age group, include academics as well as electives. For example, Tammy said this past year her 12 year old daughter had an American Girl history class for her first hour, music and worship for her second hour, government and leadership in the third hour, and musical theater in her last hour. The classes are parent driven and not set to a particular format.
Each year parents meet and decide what they will teach the following year. Parents also choose which field trips will take place throughout the year. The group goes to the pumpkin patch annually. They also have an annual Valentine’s Day party, Christmas party and they make a visit to the Mud Mill to make Christmas ornaments. Other field trips include going ice skating, visiting the World of Wonders Science Museum, Monterey Bay Aquarium and to a Stockton Thunder game. The year then culminates with a huge promotion day and talent show at the end of May.
The program serves upwards of 350 children, although not all at one time. Monday classes consist of 200 children, and the big events such as the Christmas and Valentine’s Day usually include about 75 children.
Tammy said one of the benefits of the program is that it’s a come-when-you-want type of environment. The only requirements are for parents to sign a faith statement and have a background check. Annual dues are $25, which help to cover the expense of the website and any other administrative costs throughout the year. “If a family signs up and wants to show up for only one event, it’s ok”, she said.
“Most of our families that come really appreciate that we don’t have any real requirements. They just pay the member fees and they can pick and choose what they want to participate in,” she said.
CHIL is also beneficial for moms who may be struggling with a child who is having difficulties. Mothers who have been involved for awhile are familiar with the curriculum, and can make suggestions about what to use to teach that child. It’s especially helpful for moms who are just beginning to home school.
“The first year can be difficult because of the adjustment. If you try to do it on your own, it’s really hard to see beyond the current struggle,” she said.
Tammy is hoping that eventually non-home-schooling families will start to feel comfortable with the program. She wants people to know that home schooling isn’t for everyone and it is ok when families choose not to do it.
“We believe home schooling is a calling and if you are called, God will help you,” she said.
Because home schooling can be challenging, Tammy advises those who are thinking about trying the program to first pray about it. To find out more, she can be reached at 209-474-0932 or 661-713-9618 or visit chilonline.org.
FBC has a vital adult Sunday program, with classes suited to every age and interest. The programs are held between services, from 9:45 to 10:45. You are always welcome, and all groups are designed so that you can join in at any time. Below, our leaders have provided some insight into each class:
Resound College & Young Adult Ministry: Room 5
We know young adults are looking for solid relationships and a place where spiritual growth and discipleship are abundantly provided. Resound College & Young Adult Ministry could be just what you're looking for! We are a vibrant group of individuals building a foundation of faith and fellowship as Christ's disciples, through Sunday classes, social events, outreach programs and much more. We would love to have you join us as we explore and dig deeper into the weekly Gospel lesson, so make plans to come by this Sunday. If nothing else, come by for the baked goods and fellowship!
Bereans: Room 7
The Bereans is one of the smaller classes at FBC, which allows us to get to know one another pretty well. Our aim is to support one another inside and outside of class through prayer and action. We are a very eclectic group, having a college student, an expecting mother, great grandparents and everything in between. We very much enjoy our differences!
Acts 17:11 says the Bereans were of more noble character because they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day. We strive to live this out, along with a strong focus on prayer. Ephesians 3:20 says that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Wow! Come stand on this promise with us.
Word and Deed: Room 6
The Word and Deed class is a line-by-line, verse-by-verse gathering. We tend to go deep in the Word with a great deal of class participation. It is unique in that it is open to all ages. We have representatives from every age group, with God's Word as our common ground and our focus. We learn from each other and speak into one another's lives as we attempt to shift the living Word from paper to our daily lives.
Branches: Room 4
Branches is a class full of Ragamuffins. That is to say, we don't focus on any one particular age group or “kind” of person—we have young couples, families, college-aged folks, and even a few really awesome older adults. If there’s a common thread, it’s that most of us are active in either full-time or volunteer ministry/missions and all of us are aware that to be a Christian means more than just being a consumer on a Sunday morning.
We’re all here because we desire to understand the Bible and our faith from different and new perspectives—not that the “old perspectives” are wrong. Rather, we are very aware that God, His Word, and His movement in this world are far deeper and more complex than any one church, denomination, or doctrine can ever hope to understand or explain. So our ongoing task as Christians is to keep digging. The resulting discussions are sometimes exhilarating, sometimes uncomfortable, and always meaty. We rarely agree on everything, and we believe that’s a good thing.
Uplifters: Room 3
Uplifters is a 20s to 70s adult congregation that focuses on Prayer, Care, Community, and the teaching of Scripture. Our prayer time involves prayer requests centered on the cares, concerns and praises of the class members. Our care ministry offers extra help to new parents, those who are temporarily infirmed, and those in need of other forms of help in their personal lives. Our focus on community takes seriously the idea that no one is an unknown visitor. We strive to engage in each others’ lives through small group dinners, Sunday morning interactive "ice breakers" and simply the concept of getting to know each other on a deeper level of friendship.
The study of God's Word includes detailed verse-by-verse studies in the New and Old Testaments, where active discussion is encouraged. We also engage in topical studies on Christian Living that are common to each life represented by Christ's church. Uplifters is a small body of believers who are dedicated to living godly lives through the challenges of life and supporting each other through the fellowship.
Ambassadors: Room 1
Old is not synonymous with dead! The Ambassador class has life and a spiritual connection that is evident by their sharing and praying. At the beginning of each class there is a share and prayer time. You might be surprised to know that for years their teacher has used a Power Point presentation. This brings the lesson to life along with discussion and insight into the biblical text. Their teacher, Dennis Hoffman, has a wide background, from being a pastor with a seminary degree, to being a contractor and home inspector for many years. He has said, “I do home inspections during the week, and heart inspections on the weekends.”
Our class members are active, loving and genuine. They are prayer warriors. They call on many who are sick or in assisted living and help with many church projects. These people are fun-loving, eager to learn and energetic! Come and visit!
The Bridge: Conference Room
The Bridge is a class whose focus is seeking to build Christian community as we learn to be missional in our day-to-day lives. When starting the class we had a desire to be the hands and feet of Christ bridging out into Lodi. We have made a point of getting out of the building at least once a month in an attempt to serve the community and gain a better perspective of the needs around us. We have partnered with established ministries like Grace & Mercy and Safe Families instead of reinventing the wheel. This has allowed us to build up, feed, serve and bless those in need with the love of Christ. Our most recent series, “The Tangible Kingdom Primer,” has led us to establish two additional weekly meetings, one for women and the other for men. This allows for a deeper connection that continues through the week, not just on Sundays. A community of believers has been established that is striving to trust, lean on, and help each other grow in all areas of our lives, including learning together how to reach others for Christ. Our class verse: Philippians 2:2 NLT: “Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.”
Joint Heirs: The Chapel
The Joint Heirs class is informative, fun, and welcoming. Kinda like a large "small group." The teaching is excellent and designed to bring God's Word into a variety of topics and to further our study of the Bible. Our subject matter changes frequently, as do our teachers, which allows each one time to study and prepare to bring their very best to the class. They are knowledgeable and able to present the Word of God in a manner that is understandable for new believers and enriching for those who have walked with the Lord a while.
As a class, we offer several socials throughout the year, which allows us to make and meet new friends as well as enjoy time with each other. You are important to us and will be greeted with open arms as we want you to feel comfortable and look forward to attending. You may recognize many of our class members already, because the Joint Heirs are active in many of our church ministries here at FBC and in our community. Come check us out---you are welcome any and every Sunday.
Good Friday this year at First Baptist was filled with light and color and sound as the church choir performed their Easter concert, Here Comes the Son. Those who attended experienced the Gospel story through ten musical pieces and were invited to decide for themselves what they thought of this man called Jesus. Someone attending the concert for the first time might be amazed at how deftly so many details come together to tell the story, but it isn’t without a great deal of hard work and preparation that begins long before the lights come up for the first performance.
Dane Burg, First Baptist’s Pastor of Worship Arts, starts planning around December 26th. “You have to start with a seed of inspiration,” he says, “Whether that's through a song that becomes the centerpiece of the program or a video that summarizes what you want to communicate or just a conceptual idea. Something has to trigger the imagination.”
Once he has that inspiration, Dane meets with Susan Alexander, FBC’s choir director, to make music selections that expand on the centerpiece or theme for the concert. For Susan, this is one of the most challenging parts of the process. “A few really good songs are found after listening to many, many not so good songs. It's frustrating and time consuming.” Once chosen, designing a timeline for learning those songs takes work as well: “We need to learn about 10 songs per concert within a predetermined timeframe. Each song must be analyzed to determine which ones will be harder to learn than others. This is the deciding factor in how much time each song needs to perfect; which in turn, determines the rehearsal schedule. We want to have enough time to master the songs without peaking too soon and losing momentum.” The choir starts practicing in early February in order to master those pieces by Easter.
Apart from learning the songs, there are multiple tiny details that must be coordinated to make the concert a success. A script is written that ties the various pieces together to tell a story. Visuals are designed to complement the narration and music. Then there’s music orchestration, contracting the musicians, publication, and stage set-up.
This is a small glimpse of work done over several months to produce one concert; in reality, however, FBC’s musical presentations have been developing over the course of many years.
Susan remembers when Pastor Steve Newman first asked her to lead choir in 1998. “When I told him that I had pursued a music degree primarily to use in the ministry of conducting choirs, he asked me if I would consider taking on the FBC choir just through Christmas since the current director had left. My first impulse was to say no, as it had been a while since I had led a choir and I felt quite rusty; but he concluded the invitation with ‘will you pray about it?’ (is that fair?) So I did. I put aside my discomfort, and God turned it into an excitement for an opportunity to exercise my gifts for a short 4 months that has turned into 15 years.”
Back then, the choir consisted of 16 members eager to learn all they could about music; today that number has grown to 65. Add to that the orchestra, whom Dane began to bring in when he became worship pastor: “It started with a few brass players. Since I play periodically with the Stockton Symphony, I knew most of the players. I would contract them as the needs developed. By following a few simple rules, such as pay them union wages, be ready, start on time, finish on time, these concerts have been highly sought after in the local musician realm.”
First Baptist invites those in the community to attend these concerts for free, despite the long hours of preparation and monetary costs. So what is their purpose?
“To tell God's story well,” says Dane, “to every single person that walks through those doors … We can never underestimate the opportunity that we have every time God allows us to put one of these concerts together.”
Susan agrees. “To honor our Lord and in doing so bring others to worship Him … It's so meaningful to present Jesus' great sacrifice through the powerful medium of music. Some people may hear it for the first time; some have heard it before but suddenly they understand; and some hear it again and are reminded of the great price it cost to redeem them. It's such a privilege to be involved in the Holy Spirit's work of bringing people to the Truth.”
And as so many people from different backgrounds, each an integral part of the Body of Christ, strive together towards these ultimate goals, something amazing happens. “Singing is only the end result ... We want to serve the church, each other, and foremost, our Lord with a heart that is pure and obedient to His purpose. We want to be real.”
It was a little over a year ago when the seed was planted in Ken Raphael’s head about starting an orchestra at FBC. After a show of support by Pastor Dane Burg, it became a reality. On Sept. 15, 2013, Sounds of Joy had its first rehearsal. Ken realized at that point that the orchestra had already been in the making when a member of it shared she had been praying for five years for a Christian orchestra.
“I immediately understood why everything was falling into place,” he said. He added that the name of the group was chosen from 1 Chronicles 15:16: “David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives the singers, with instruments of music, harps, lyres, loud-sounding cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.”
Ken offers a four-fold reason the group was established. They are:
• To bring glory to God through instrumental praise
• To encourage the church body through instrumental praise
• To provide instrumentalists an opportunity for ministry
• To be a means of outreach within the community
The Bible verse Ephesians 4:12 summarizes what the group hopes to accomplish, he said. “For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
“We want to see our instrumentalists bring glory to God through the use and development of their skill to the highest level possible, thereby encouraging the body of Christ,” he said.
While the choir offers singers an outlet to use their talent, there was little or no opportunity for instrumentalists beyond high school or college. Sounds of Joy offers that to those who wish to use their instrumental talent.
Pastor Dane said one of the reasons the orchestra is a great part of worship is because it beautifully illustrates the Biblical concept of “many parts, one Body.”
“We bring our individual worship offerings, and, together, it creates beauty – a fragrant offering if you will- that is far more powerful than each worship offering by itself. I believe God is pleased when his His body, the church, works together and lifts up their voice in unity and harmony, allowing Him alone to be glorified,” he said.
Enrollment in the group is presently at 21 “incredible musicians,” said Ken. To date, the group has performed three times in the morning worship services. As their playing matures, he’s hoping to increase their presence in the services.
Also in the orchestra’s future, Ken said he is looking forward to an outreach ministry within the community under the authority of FBC. His biggest dream is to work in conjunction with the choirs and is currently looking over a couple of instrumental pieces he has been given by the choir director, Susan Alexander. The highest joy of it all comes from playing to an audience of one, the Lord Jesus, he said.
“When we seek to please Him we hope as a consequence to be a blessing and an encouragement to everyone who hears us,” he said.
Sounds of Joy rehearses at 4 p.m. on Sundays in the Worship Center. Anyone who wishes to be a part of the orchestra can show up at one of the rehearsals and there are no auditions.
“I tell people to dust off their instruments and play the notes they can – the other notes will come in time. We are a no pressure zone!” he said.
Don’t have an instrument? No worries. “We have a French horn, clarinet, trumpet, flute, chimes, tympani and trap just waiting for someone to love,” he said.
For more information about the orchestra, call Ken at 209-329-5958 or the FBC church office and talk to Pastor Dane at 209-334-1332.