Helping People and Places Encounter Jesus

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From Pastor JR

Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! – Psalm 34:3 (ESV)

The last twelve months at Church at the Cross have been filled with ups and downs. We have witnessed God do some great things in and through our people and sustain our people through some very difficult things. We have seen people come to saving faith in Jesus and step into the water to be baptized. Many new people have been added to our church, and we have helped accommodate that growth by expanding our auditorium. Our children’s ministry continues to explode, having now tripled over the last four years. We have added key staff positions; launched new ministries, including CATC Women under the leadership of Colleen Searcy; birthed new life groups; and implemented a plan to pay off our debt in the coming months. We have expanded our missionary footprint into Utah, Africa, and Ecuador while continuing to help start and strengthen new churches in DC and Virginia. For all that we say in joy, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”

We have also felt the sting of sin and death and painful realities of living in a fallen world where sickness and suffering are never remote. Many in our church family are enduring challenges and trials that are heartbreaking. Through it all, God is showing his faithfulness and manifesting his love through his people. For that we say in hope, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”  

We praise God for all He is doing, and we also acknowledge that there is room for maturity and growth. This next year we will continue to give ourselves to Reaching, Teaching, Training, and Sending. We will make the changes necessary to become more effective in making disciples of our neighbors and the nations. We are not married to a model, but we are settled on that mission. By God’s grace we will help many people and places encounter Jesus.

The Church is not primarily a place, but a people. God has used so many of you to bring about these works of grace. Thank you for your love, service, sacrifice and generosity for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom.

 

Rejoice,

JR Vassar

Lead Pastor

 

Panel 2

Ministry UPDATES

Kids at the Cross

What an exciting year for our Kids at the Cross ministry!  God has blessed us in many ways.

We recently finished our three-year cycle through the Bible with The Gospel Project.  It’s encouraging to think of the stories and foundational truths of Scripture that our children have learned.  We began a new cycle on September 2 and look forward to another three years of a chronological, Jesus-centered study of God’s Word.

Throughout the year, we had some great opportunities to gather for fellowship and further learning including our Fall Festival, Kids Choir Camp, and Vacation Bible School, all which were well attended by church members, friends and community members.  This year’s VBS had 205 kids in attendance which was 60 more than the previous year. The kids collected $515 to be sent to our partner, Flourishing Grace in Utah, so that they could print a Bible reading plan for their families.  What a fun way for our kids to be involved in one of our partnerships!

We were also excited to add a full-time Children’s Ministry Associate, Sarah Glod, to our team this year.  Sarah joins us with a wealth of knowledge and excitement to create curriculum and spaces were kids learn more about Jesus.  We are honored to have her on our team.

Our Sunday morning ministry continues to grow, so we have added three new classes over the last year.  We currently have four nursery classes, six preschool classes and five elementary classes and average over 200 kids every Sunday morning.  We look to add two more classes very soon which means we will need additional volunteers to rock babies, direct preschoolers, teach kids and more!  If you’d like to be a part of the important work of pointing kids to Jesus Christ, email Minister to Children and Families, Lori Atkeisson, by clicking the link below.

Email Lori

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Students at the Cross

The student ministry of Church at the Cross is coming off an incredible year of ministry!

Over the course of the last 12 months, we had the opportunity to see many students come forward in obedience to be baptized. Through baptism, CATC affirmed their union with Christ and marked them off as belonging to Jesus and his Church. All together we had over 120 people involved in Disciple Now 2018, some of whom were friends of our teenagers whose families do not have a church home or do not know Jesus at all. Summer 2018 provided opportunities for our teenagers to retreat to Student Life Camp. Seeing the need to minister to our teenagers more intentionally, we sent our middle and high school students in two separate directions for camp. About 50 high school students traveled to Glorieta, New Mexico and about 25 middle school students travelled to Austin College in Sherman, Texas.

The ministry’s main avenues to teach God’s Word to students have seen growth this past year as well. Every Sunday morning we have 12 Student Life Groups meeting on campus, averaging around 80 students. This is 80 teenagers, week-in and week-out, hearing and learning the great redemptive plan of God told throughout all of the Bible. Emerge, our mid-week worship gathering for teenagers, consistently proved to be a profitable reaching and teaching outlet in the discipleship of teenagers and their friends. Through Emerge, we had the opportunity to train many of our high school students in evangelism and discipleship, and have seen incalculable fruit in their lives and in the lives of those they have come in contact with.

When I think about the kingdom impact the Students at the Cross will have in the coming years, my mind always goes to mission. There is no quicker way to make a disciple of Jesus than to take him on Jesus’ mission. This past year, we were able to do just that. In June, we trained and sent out one of the largest student mission teams to date. This team, made up of middle and high school students, administrated a VBS for children in four separate gospel-starved and economically disadvantaged apartment complexes around Arlington. In July, we sent a team of high school students to Mai Mahiu, Kenya. Roughly 90 minutes outside of Nairobi, Mai Mahiu is situated on what is infamously known as the Aids Highway of Africa, Kinsasha Highway. Among many other missional endeavors, this team of teenagers traversed the slums of this small town, going shanty to shanty. They shared the gospel with and prayed with a people who are experiencing a level of spiritual and physical poverty that many American Christians will never see. Our prayer is that this trip will be the first of many all over the world by many in our church. Trips to the farthest most unreached people groups on the planet by future adults who look back at their time as children and teenagers at Church at the Cross as the season when God formed in them the conviction that the question is not “Am I called?” but “To whom and and to where am I called?”

I really do believe that God desires to do many great things through Students at the Cross. I’m convinced that he wants to make himself known to and through the teenagers of this church. I also know that he will accomplish this divine purpose through the obedience of his people. In the years to come, it is going to take a team of more than just staff. If you find yourself with a desire to make disciples of teenagers and begin to feel called to join this student ministry team, please feel free to email james@churchatthecross.com. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Email James

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Life Groups

The writer of Hebrews encourages believers to do three things in Hebrews 10 as a result of Christ’s atoning work.  They are to draw near in confidence to God, hold fast the confession of [their] hope, and consider how we might encourage one another onto love and good deeds.  What a glorious picture of the Church!  In this past year, we have experienced these practices week in and week out through our Life Group gatherings.  Church at the Cross is blessed to see the vast majority of our people connected on some level to one of our Life Groups that meet throughout the week.  The writer of Hebrews commends us to do so regularly in response to the saving work of Christ.

We have seen tremendous growth in our Life Groups in the past 12 months as God has continued to bring people into life-giving community at CATC.  Five new groups were started by multiplying out of previous groups and most of our groups have seen increasing numbers in their attendance.  Five new groups in a year represents a 20% increase from a year ago.

More importantly than the statistics is the way Life Groups have been regularly demonstrating love and compassion to each other, especially in difficult times.  As many of you know, it has been a challenging season for many CATC families and yet, what a testimony our Life Groups can be to the power of the gospel in such times.  Our pastoral team is so encouraged and delighted when we hear that a Life Group leader or member has ‘beat us’ to a fellow group member in the hospital or found some other way to care for them.  We are prayerful that God helps CATC maintain this sort of gracious and hospitable culture for years to come.

We are determined to bring greater structure and leadership development to our Life Groups ministry this next year.  We believe that God will use such efforts to multiply His work among our people in Life Groups.  To learn more about Life Groups, click the link below.

Learn More About Life Groups

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CATC Women

CATC Women exists to help women encounter Jesus.  We desire to see all women of all seasons gather to know God through the study of his Word, to encourage one another, and to spur one another to love and good works (Heb. 10:24-25) in our spaces of influence.  CATC Women’s Bible Study will kick off in the spring semester with a three-part approach to Bible study: guided personal study, small group discussion, and large group teaching.  We are excited to begin gathering as the women of Church at the Cross to build unity among diversity, to anchor our hope in Jesus, and to go into our spaces of influence as kingdom-minded women.

Learn More About CATC Women

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CARE & PRAYER

 

What a privilege it is to serve in a church alongside people who care for one another so well. This year we have walked with one another through some painful seasons of grief and suffering. Whether providing meals, manpower, and presence in times of need, or by organizing spontaneous prayer gatherings, our church family has provided care and support for one another. We have seen the Spirit of God work miracles of deliverance and also miracles of preservation through these trials to the Glory of God the Father. Thank you church for joyfully entering into one another’s sufferings with God’s grace in Christ Jesus. As this year will bring more rain, let us be dependent on the Spirit of God to provide us with strength to give more of ourselves to each other.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.    

–  2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Some ways we have cared this year:

STEPS was implemented in the Fall. Steps is a discipleship program that helps us find freedom from harmful patterns that have developed in our lives and find hope in the midst of suffering. Over the course 13 weeks, we lay a foundation of the gospel through daily Bible discovery, weekly teaching, transparent small group discussion, and one on one mentoring. Through this process we find strength in the gospel to understand and confront the roots of our daily struggles and learn how to uproot and replace those harmful roots with God’s truth. The hope is to see people encountering Jesus and experiencing renewal in their everyday lives. Steps will be offered twice a year. The Spring session (September-December) and the Fall session (February-May). By the end of this year, we will have seen two women’s and two men’s groups move through. We hope to report two to three times that number of people experiencing this means of grace this time next year!

We have seen our elders and deacons ministering to our church and local community by providing ministries such as pre-marital counseling, financial coaching, care to our widows, the distribution of benevolence, help for families facing the loss of a loved one, etc.

Thank you for sharing this year through the Mercy Fund Offering (collected during Advent). Because of your generosity, we saw over $76,000 used significantly to bless people this year. This represents people in emotional or physical crisis – in need of solid Biblical Counseling or benevolence help; and to help people who are in the process of adoption.

We continue to have the opportunity to encourage and help several people through our ministry of prayer. If you are interested in joining our team of ministry partners who receive people for prayer and ministry at the end of our gatherings, please contact Pete Brooks about getting involved by clicking the link below.

Our Senior Adult game-night continues to grow in number and fellowship as we see people of all generations gathering to share their lives together. This takes place the first Tuesday night of the month in the Café of the Kids Building. Come join us at 5:30pm and bring a covered dish. Thank you to Milton Glenn who has faithfully developed this ministry for over a decade.

If you want to learn more about our Care & Prayer ministry, or if you are interested in serving in this capacity, email Pastor of Care, Pete Brooks, by clicking the link below.

Email Pete

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OUTREACH

This has been a momentous year for Church at the Cross in terms of our outreach efforts.  In the past 12 months, we have established two new multi-year partnerships, hosted a Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course, sent a team of students to Kenya, and have another team slated to travel to Ecuador in early October.  All of these realities are cause to celebrate, but we are particularly excited to see how God will use the Perspectives course for years to come here at CATC.  This course laid the groundwork for those involved to possess a worldview informed by the mission of God as laid out in the Bible.  We had over 70 CATC people take part in the course.  Therefore, we are confident that God will use these individuals in various ways to catalyze a gospel-driven outreach ministry at Church at the Cross.

In April, we were honored to host the 4000 Steps event put on by one of our closest partners, the Human Coalition.  This event was the first of its kind in this part of the country and served to raise awareness and funds for the literally life-saving work that Human Coalition conducts day in and day out.

Finally, we saw increased involvement of CATC people in various local ministries such as International Friends of Grapevine and 6 Stones.  We hope to see continued deepening of our connections with other great ministries such as these as we look to leave an indelible impression of the gospel on the surrounding communities of Church at the Cross.

Learn More About our Ministry Partners

Panel 3

New Initiatives

One of our core values here at Church at the Cross is Sent on Mission. When Jesus saves us, he sends us. The question is not if I’m called, but to whom and where I’m called. As a church we want to be a going and sending people. We have expressed this value several ways. One way is through supporting church planting endeavors nationally and internationally. We are also supporting members who are serving vocationally in missional contexts among some of the least reached peoples. As we begin a new year in our church life, we want to introduce some new initiatives in this area.

Flourishing Grace Church, Bountiful, UT

During our 2018 Easter Renewal Offering, we introduced Flourishing Grace Church. Flourishing Grace is a re-plant, a revitalization of an former church in the Salt Lake City area that was struggling to be sustained and to stay on mission. Josh Knight now serves as the Lead Pastor of Flourishing Grace, and under his leadership the Church is growing and reaching new people with Gospel. We are excited to partner with Flourishing Grace as they help the people in Bountiful encounter Jesus.

Empower One, Africa

Empower One is a remarkable organization that exists to be part of a movement that brings the Gospel to the nearly 20 million South Sudanese and Sudanese who have never heard the name of Jesus. Through theological training and mentoring, Empower One trains indigenous leaders to be disciple makers, church planters, bible school teachers, missionaries and elementary school teachers. We have the privilege of helping to train these leaders and work beside them as they seek to evangelize and make disciples in their communities. In 2018 we were able to provide most of the funding for a Pastor’s Conference attended by 1,400 African pastors mainly from South Sudan and Uganda. We look forward to further engagement with Empower One.

Pastoral Residency

As we seek to grow in becoming a sending church, it is our desire to raise up other pastors that are sent by CATC into the areas God is calling them. We are excited to announce the launch of our Pastoral Residency Program. This year we have four men who have joined our program and are being prepared for future ministry. We are focused on shaping their convictions and character, developing their competencies and evaluating their particular callings as they discern the next steps for life and ministry. We look forward to introducing you to these residents and having them among us.

Essentials: Training for Life and Mission

In the spring we plan to introduce Essentials: Training for Life and Mission. Essentials is a sequential discipleship and leadership development track that is designed to equip people for living in the way of Jesus and actively participating in his mission. If you want to grow as a disciple and as a disciple maker, Essentials will serve as your training ground.

All these efforts are a coordinated attempt to move closer to what we believe God desires for us to be as a church. We want to continue to support church planting even as we move to sending church planters and planting churches. We want to take greater strides to equip all our people for life and mission so that together we might live as the people of God sent to people and places with the good news of Jesus.

Panel 4

Financials

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A WORD FROM YOUR ELDERS

This budget represents many hours of prayer, discussion and preparation. Dozens of people have been involved in the budget preparation process, including both staff and volunteers, all under the direction of our Finance Team. We take budget preparation very seriously because it guides our ministry focus over the coming year.

This website was designed to inform and inspire you regarding our many ministries, all of which are dependent on your generous giving. More importantly, we want you, our financial partners, to see how your gifts are changing lives in our community and around the world.

We have included a FAQ section below. If you have other questions regarding our budget, financial procedures or giving options, please contact our church office. Thanks again for your continued financial support of our ministries. May the Lord richly bless you.

Your Elders

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHO COUNTS THE MONEY GIVEN ON SUNDAYS AND DURING THE WEEK?

We have several teams of church members who volunteer to count our offerings and record the gifts. Everyone involved with counting and recording individual gifts are committed to protecting the confidentiality of our donors.

CAN A PERSON GIVE A NON-CASH GIFT?

Yes, many people do this as part of their regular giving. You can give stocks, bonds, and other personal possessions that are consistent with our giving policies. Copies of our policy are available in the church office.

CAN I GIVE ONLINE?

Yes, at churchatthecross.com/give, there is a secure online giving option, including the convenience of automatic recurring giving. Contact our financial office for more information or for help in setting up an online giving account.

CAN I DESIGNATE MY FINANCIAL GIFT TO A CERTAIN MINISTRY OR PROJECT?

We have several ongoing designated funds, including our Mission Fund, Benevolence Fund, Stepping Stones Adoption Ministry Fund, and Building Fund. Beyond these, we ask that you give to the general budget so that monies can be evenly distributed among our many deserving ministries.

HOW DO I GET OFFERING ENVELOPES?

Envelopes are mailed on a regular basis to our financial supporters. Contact the office if you are not receiving envelopes. Extra envelopes are available in the office and at the information desk in the atrium.

ARE THERE CHECKS & BALANCES IN PLACE TO ENSURE CHURCH FINANCES ARE PROPERLY HANDLED?

Absolutely! Staff and volunteers work together to ensure financial integrity at the highest level. Church members volunteer to count and record the offerings. Our volunteer Finance Team oversees the budget process and meets monthly to review income and expenses. The Finance Team consist of six church members who serve rotating terms. Each year we contract with an accounting firm to conduct a financial review. They have consistently reported that our financial operations exceed the highest standards.