Local Church Podcast
Where People Find Care
God saves his people into families. A nurturing community where souls are cared for and loved. In this episode of Breaking Bread, ACCFS’s church outreach team shares the vision that propels the work they do.
Vision: By God’s grace, the Church Outreach division of ACCFS is committed to supporting the local church by providing resources and teaching that equips the local church to care for its members.
When thinking about the local church, it is one of the essential elements that God ordained for us to grow into his image, into his people.
Welcome everyone to Breaking Bread, the podcast brought to you by Apostolic Christian Counseling and Family Services. Delighted to have you all along. In the studio here today we have the church outreach team here at ACCFS minus one, but I’ll let each of you introduce yourselves.
Isaac. Yeah, I’m Isaac Funk. I’m a remote worker. I live down in Peachtree City, Georgia and I get to work on the church outreach team as a teacher, resource creator, and I have a large role to play in the Abide Discipleship Program as well.
I’m Katie Miller. I get to play a variety of roles remotely in Gridley. I get to be a teacher, a publications editor, and then content steward and get eyes on different women’s resources.
Hello, I’m Larissa Wettstein, and I work remotely mostly as an administrative assistant. I do graphics, website, anything that they want me to do, I usually end up doing it.
She is our Jill of all trades, so to speak. And I’m Arlan Miller. I work as one of the teachers here, director of programs and various other responsibilities on the administrative side here with the program. And I’m Matt Kaufman. You know me mostly by voice everyone, but I do organize and carry out these podcasts as well as a teacher on this team and very glad to be so.
Arlan, go ahead and mention Bill. Yeah, Bill Schmidgall is a huge legacy part in many ways of the program here. He still is a mentor and support and statistician for us in so many ways. And so, he provides a valuable role. It’s a privilege to work with this team, and we’ve had the counselors in this room doing some podcasting, and so it makes sense to bring you all in here, so thanks all of you.
I think there’s something to be said to bring clarity and help, uh, on what we do and, and why we do what we do. And so, Arlan, I’d like you to speak a little bit to maybe a, a guiding principle that this team has, really chartered from ACCFS to carry out. Yeah, so Matt, the church outreach department of ACCFS is really centered around the local church.
That’s what we focus on. That’s what we want to encourage and build up. And there’s a guiding principle that we use when we think about this. How do we define the local church for our purposes? The local church is a God ordained community that’s designed to help nurture and encourage growth in its members. And we want to build that up. We want to encourage that. We want to provide resources to support that and work with the local leadership as we do so.
I think that’s a really helpful setup and we started here by introducing ourselves and the outreach team and really would like that to fade a bit in this conversation and to have folks leave this listen inspired by the local church and encouraged.
Isaac, as you think about local church, speak a little bit about some of God’s purposes in the local church. We’re not going to be able to cover them all for sure. But those that certainly intersect with what we do. Yeah. So, I love that Arlan read the charter like that about helping, encouraging, nurturing the spiritual growth of all the members in the church. And that happens in a variety of ways in the local level. We’re all familiar with the Sunday sermon and all of the teachings and things that come through local church that are just essential elements to our growth. But even beyond that, I think what we oftentimes focus even more on is kind of what happens beyond the sermon, what happens on a relational level, what happens in a caring for people level because that’s where a lot of the real transformative work that happens in people’s lives actually occurs.
It’s in those relational, loving attachments that you start to build with a local community of believers. When thinking about the local church, it is one of the essential elements that God ordained for us to grow into his image, into his people, those relationships and that interaction is where a lot of that growth and nurture and encouragement takes place.
God has brought people together into a time and a place that maybe aren’t of our own choosing but they are exactly what we need to help us and support us and encourage us. And that’s the beautiful working of God. But there’s a depth there to the local church that, that we want to advocate for.
And God saves us together. I love Acts 2 and the capturing of the early church and how that there with the day of Pentecost and it says that he added to the church, it would seem that God very much was delighted to save people individually, yes, but save them corporately.
And so, he would save this together, right? Which is exactly where this would come from here at ACCFS. We have the clinical side, the counseling and so forth that happens in office or remote sessions. But one of the blessings of church outreach is we get to go out and we get to meet different churches and each local church has different needs. Each local church has a different heartbeat, has different communities that they are living and loving the gospel through and to just be able to see that and witness that from Peachtree City to Gridley, to Goodfield, to Bloomington, to the variety of churches out in the breadth of our denomination is a real blessing.
To see those local heartbeats, it’s beautiful. Larissa’s been in a couple of local church settings. How many? Four different local churches. Yeah. She wins that award. That certainly would mold your view of what church looks like and what church has been for you and your family. Definitely more towards the relational side when it came to church community.
Obviously different, a wide variety of people that lived in each area, in each community. I grew up in Goodfield, and when we were first married, we went to Gridley for a year and a half. And then we moved to Southern Illinois, which took us to St. Louis Church. And then we’ve also been part of Belvedere Church. Now Goodfield. Just keep getting voted off the island. Is that kind of what happened there? God just keeps moving us around and has blessed us with many different relationships in our life. And so, when you look back at those different relationships and just think of, I’m guessing you can picture faces and names and couples that have poured into your life and have shaped a little bit of who you are because of that experience.
Yes. I’ve had several mentors from all the different churches and so I’m trying to bring those qualities that they have shared with me into new relationships that I’ve created. And I imagine there’s even a stability that occurs when you’re able to go from place to place geographically but be found by a group of people who have a shared identity together.
An identity. We have individual identities, but we also have group identities. You settle into that and you can breathe like almost like a sigh of relief, like, okay, I know these people, they know me, I know what we’re all about. It brings a level of comfort when you step in. Since you have almost the same identity, then you can feel more comfortable a little bit quicker.
Right. A sense of coming home, even though this is a new home. You know, Katie, I really appreciate it. You talked a little bit about the outreach team and we do get out into the churches and that type of thing. And that’s because we believe that there is so much value in supporting the local church.
ACCFS has never intended to replace the local church. We would fail to try to do what the local church does so well. And so, to think of us as some sort of outsourcing is not the right way to think of ACCFS for us. Yeah, I would say that when we do our job best as a church outreach team to use that language, it’s when we fade into the background and the local churches left equipped and encouraged and able to go about what God has called it to do.
Perhaps we’re called in to start a conversation or to raise a topic that’s maybe a little bit hard to raise and it helps to have someone speak in with a little bit of experience or language or something along those lines. But then we want to quickly move to that place where, okay, church, how do you take this and how do you move on from here in a way that nurtures and encourages and builds up?
We’re seen as proactive equipper, equipping the local church and I hadn’t thought about it that way maybe, but, oh, okay, we can do this local church. We’re able to maybe share some vocabulary and talk about things like sexual purity. And have some resources that the counselors, in conjunction with outreach have created, whether it’s pointing to a course, one of our online courses, or pointing to some articles or podcasts just to be an encourager and a connector.
There is a need to proactively get some of these messages out to the church. There’s wonderful, reactive counseling that takes place. People come through these doors and receive help, hope, and growth every day by God’s grace. But how do we proactively go out there and encourage the church to be the church? You will never have enough counselors to meet the needs that are out there, but God didn’t design it that way. He designed the local church to help in so many ways. And so proactively the charge was, how do we encourage, teach, create resources, model, build up the local church to be who God has called it to be.
Because we have such a profound respect for the Holy Spirit working among people. But that Holy Spirit, that’s God’s big idea among His people, to care for them. It’s really a beautiful picture and it’s a really beautiful intent. It’s both beautiful and useful, you could say. And yet, church can be difficult, and to not say that sometimes church hurts and problems arise in local church, I think we would be disingenuous.
So how do we process that? Yeah, the local church is, like I said earlier, where change really happens because it’s where change has to happen in order for that community to go on, in a sense, and a lot of that is just because of me and you and us being people and people are messy. And we have brokenness that is exposed in close relationship with other people which is just part of God’s design for the church, to be exposed in close, loving relationships so that exposure can be seen, perhaps called out, but then we the person still received and supported within that to continue their growth.
And so, it’s a vital part of being formed into God’s image through the local community. And it does require us to lean into it. And there’s introvert versus extrovert. I mean, you have a room here of four introverts and one extrovert. Now that you guys figure out which one that is, but you lean in, you have to lean into her.
But you have to lean into that. And it is required. You have to be bound together at some level or else it would fragment, and you would get out from underneath. It’s a covenant. It’s a covenant relationship that you can think of it just like in a marriage. Like, I’m going to stick with you for better.
Or for worse, and it’s the same kind of commitment in local church community. I’m going to stick with this for better or for worse. I think too often church brings about our own insecurities, your own personal insecurities shouldn’t necessarily draw you away from that local church but should draw you into it even more as a chance to grow and a chance to know ourselves more fully.
Yeah. It helps us to be sanctified and become more like Christ what God created his people to live within in that community. It’s a beautiful and indescribable reality in so many ways. And with that vision, I encourage the listeners just to consider how we can lean into the local church.
How can we be part of it? Where do we need to give, as you said, Larissa, and not just receive, but then also be willing to receive and grow and learn and just go through life together in that beautiful setting designed by God. to help nurture and encourage growth within its members.
Yeah, we are thankful as a church outreach team for 2022. We’re thankful for those of you who have prayed for us and who have blessed us financially and just the opportunity to serve you. It’s been a pleasure to serve you through this venue here in the last year and really hope that these last few minutes have allowed you to reflect on the advantage that we all have in having local churches to worship in, find God’s Spirit in, his care through people, and to know that we can be equipped to better care for those that are in our churches and be better cared for. And God intends for that to happen.
So, thanks each one for being here.