Articles + News

church MidtownMidtown WestWest NortheastNortheast  

campus menu

A Letter from Erik about the Recent Tragedies

el+paso+%2B+dayton.jpg

Common Ground Northeast Family,

I was shocked to learn about the first tragic shooting in El Paso resulting in 22 deaths and numerous critical injuries. This moment was difficult enough. Then, I woke up to hear about the events in Dayton, I was horrified, and I was a little stunned. My first thought was, “will there be more?!” Following this I had a flood of emotions - shock, anger, sadness, fear, more anger... One of the most common thoughts I’ve had amidst the MULTIPLE mass shootings we have endured in our nation is, “why is this still happening??

No doubt many of you in the CGNE family felt the same.

All of us process tragedy differently, though we have the same Holy Spirit who counsels us. All of us have different opinions on how to fix the issues, though we are all ambassadors to the same Kingdom. And all of us feel the weight that sin places on us, because we are living in a broken world without the fullness of shalom until Christ returns.

A few weeks ago, our sermon addressed the importance of practicing the Spiritual Discipline of Lament. What a timely message for the Holy Spirit to bring into our community as we encounter such confusing and terrifying events in our culture?

We are reminded that Gods sits with us in the midst of our sorrow and pain, and we are reminded that He has made a way for us to approach God when we are suffering or angry.

I want to encourage our congregation to go to God in this season. Take all of the questions and the fullness of your emotions before the One who has the ability to comfort, to guide, to bring justice, and to be present in all situations, to all people, at all times.

...but don’t stop there.

As those who have been charged with the ministry of reconciliation, be ambassadors of the Kingdom of heaven and carriers of Shalom to everyone around you.

PRAY.

Take time to pray for those who were directly affected in the shootings. Ask for peace, healing, and comfort to rest upon the victims. Ask for God to enact justice to whatever degree He deems worthy.

ACT.

God may be prompting you to action; to raise money for victims or to advocate according to your convictions surrounding these shootings. Ask Jesus what He wants you to do in response to the tragedies we've witnessed. In all things, listen to Jesus and DO what He says.

We will take a few minutes this Sunday to reflect, lament, and pray as a congregation. Until that time, may the words of David, from Psalm 34:17-18 comfort you in this season:

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.


Kirie Elieson (Lord, have mercy on us),
Erik Thien

Next Generation: Growing Young

Next Generation Growing Young

WEEKLY: God speaks through young people in profound ways. We see an example of this in Samuel. Adults may have more life experiences, yet our kids and youth still have God experiences. Our kids and youth are as vital as anyone when it comes to the Kingdom.

We need the next generation present with us. The future leaders of our society and church sit next to us every week. We hold a divine responsibility to pass along the God given gifts of life experience, wisdom, and learned lessons to the next generation coming behind us. We need to be present with the next generation.

The power of presence can change the world for anyone. It changed ours when God decided to be present with us through His son Jesus. God's redemptive plan is through humanity, people, us. No matter what stage of life we are in, we as Christians and as the Body need to own growing young for the vitality of the Kingdom and glory of God.

“The truth is, every church needs young people. Their passion enriches the soil around them. The curiosity they bring to Scripture and the authenticity they bring to relationships keep your church’s teaching fresh and fellowship fruitful. 

Young people also need a thriving church. A thriving church both grounds them in community and sends them out to serve. 

Your church needs young people, and they need your church. One without the other is incomplete.”

- Kara Powell

READ: 1 Samuel 3

LISTEN:

LEARN MORE:

REFLECT:

  1. How does the way God used Samuel shape or challenge the way you see how God can use our kids and youth today?

  2. In what ways has the next generation taught you about God? What has God taught you through them? How is God using the next generation currently to influence or teach you?

  3. Who has the Spirit brought into your life to influence and be influenced by? Is there someone to whom you haven't responded, opened up to, or been present enough with (that you should)?

  4. Where are you actively Growing Young in your life? What areas do you need to starting thinking about and taking steps toward in regards to Growing Young in faith and the church?

** While we may not agree with everything the authors/speakers say in our resources, diversity in perspectives is beneficial to growth, and we encourage an open and Spirit discerning posture while studying the Scripture and while reviewing any resource. **

Spiritual Disciplines 4: LAMENT

art of spiritual disciplines

WEEKLY: As Christians, we all want to grow closer to Jesus, but it doesn’t happen without some intentional training. Spiritual disciplines, according to Bishop Manny Carlos, are “habits or practices that are intended to help you grow in your relationship with God…and in Christlikeness.” Over the summer, we are going to cover one Spiritual Discipline a week as we attempt to use them in our lives to grow closer to Jesus and closer in likeness to the life He lived.

We can run, hide, avoid, or medicate ourselves to hide from sorrow, pain, and suffering but God has given a pathway to engage it with Him. When we Lament, we are taking hold of the tools God has given us to process the difficult seasons, unfortunately, we rarely use it in our culture today. How do we recapture the lost art of Lament and use it as a discipline today?

READ: Psalm 73; The Book of Lamentations

LISTEN:

LEARN MORE:

REFLECT:

  1. When you think of Lament what do you think about? What emotions, postures, facial expressions, and attitudes are present?

  2. When was the last time you honestly Lamented? What were the circumstances surrounding that moment?

  3. When we Lament, it reminds us that we should not have an attitude of triumphalism. What is triumphalism, why is it problematic, and how does Lament help us to counteract it?

  4. Recapturing Lament helps us to hold on to God in times of sorrow and suffering. How does it help?

  5. How can you implement a theology and liturgy of Lament in your life today? What rhythms can you establish to help you do this regularly?

** While we may not agree with everything the authors/speakers say in our resources, diversity in perspectives is beneficial to growth, and we encourage an open and Spirit discerning posture while studying the Scripture and while reviewing any resource. **

Spiritual Disciplines 3: STEWARDSHIP

art of spiritual disciplines

WEEKLY: As Christians, we all want to grow closer to Jesus, but it doesn’t happen without some intentional training. Spiritual disciplines, according to Bishop Manny Carlos, are “habits or practices that are intended to help you grow in your relationship with God…and in Christlikeness.” Over the summer, we are going to cover one Spiritual Discipline a week as we attempt to use them in our lives to grow closer to Jesus and closer in likeness to the life He lived.

Nobody wants to talk about money in church! Yet, Jesus talked A LOT about money during his ministry on earth. Our desire to avoid the topic just reveals how strong our relationship with finances tends to be; it affects our lives, minds, hearts and actions. If we don’t look at what the Bible says on the topic of stewardship in our finances, then the world will shape our view of money for us.

READ: Matthew 25:14-29 and 1 Timothy 6:17-19

RESOURCES: Across the Globe Video (2 Mins)

REFLECT:

  1. As a starting point, think about the kind of economic relationship you have with your finances? Check this out to see a summary of the “money personality types.” What are the negative and positive effects your “money personality type“ has on your ability to be a good steward?

  2. Read the Matthew verses above. What does the Bible say about our economic relationship with God in the Kingdom of heaven? Hint: God is the _______ and we are the _______.

  3. Who is “rich in this present age according to the Timothy verses above? How does this affect your view of the financial dispersion across the globe?

  4. After reading the verses above and watching the video in the “resources” section above, how has your view of money, finances, stewardship, and generosity changed?

  5. What are 1-2 things you can you do THIS WEEK to be a better, more generous, steward in the Kingdom of heaven? What will you do with the TRUST God has given you?

** While we may not agree with everything the authors/speakers say in our resources, diversity in perspectives is beneficial to growth, and we encourage an open and Spirit discerning posture while studying the Scripture and while reviewing any resource. **

Spiritual Disciplines 2: LISTENING

art of spiritual disciplines

WEEKLY: As Christians, we all want to grow closer to Jesus, but it doesn’t happen without some intentional training. Spiritual disciplines, according to Bishop Manny Carlos, are “habits or practices that are intended to help you grow in your relationship with God…and in Christlikeness.” Over the summer, we are going to cover one Spiritual Discipline a week as we attempt to use them in our lives to grow closer to Jesus and closer in likeness to the life He lived.

Listening to God is a lost art in our culture yet we see constant example of it in the Bible. We are also aware that God has place the Holy Spirit in us for a reason. Yet, very few of us act like the Holy Spirit is involved in our lives, minds, hearts and actions. What do the scriptures say about this and how do we listen to the voice of God (and act on what we hear) in a responsible manner?

READ: John 3:8; John 10:1-21; John 16:12-14; Acts 1-2; Acts 10; Acts 16:6-10

MORE RESOURCES:

REFLECT:

  1. What does the Bible says about hearing from God? Read the verses above and reflect on them with this concept in mind.

  2. experiences have you had while listening to the voice of God?

  3. How do you know when you are hearing from God? Do you have filters or tools that you use to discern this?

  4. If listening to God is like a muscle, how are you exercising it? What actions do you take at the prompting of the Holy Spirit?

  5. When was the last time you did it? What is stopping you, your house church, or your family from letting the “wind blow“ in your lives?

** While we may not agree with everything the authors/speakers say in our resources, diversity in perspectives is beneficial to growth, and we encourage an open and Spirit discerning posture while studying the Scripture and while reviewing any resource. **

Spiritual Disciplines 1: Word

art of spiritual disciplines

WEEKLY: As Christians, we all want to grow closer to Jesus, but it doesn’t happen without some intentional training. Spiritual disciplines, according to Bishop Manny Carlos, are “habits or practices that are intended to help you grow in your relationship with God…and in Christlikeness.” Over the summer, we are going to cover one Spiritual Discipline a week as we attempt to use them in our lives to grow closer to Jesus and closer in likeness to the life He lived.

The Word of God is foundational to any believers walk with Jesus. It is the means by which God has given us specific revelation of who He is, what He is like, and how we are to follow God. There are many different ways to engage with God through His Word. The important thing is that we do it! Pick a method, get an accountability partner, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you read and listen to God’s word.

READ: 1 Timothy: 4:11-21; John 1:1-5; Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:14-17

MORE RESOURCES:

REFLECT:

  1. What kind of Spiritual Disciplines have you used in the past to grow toward Jesus? Are you still using it?

  2. What are the biggest obstacles stopping you from reading or listening to God’s word? How can you overcome them?

    1. Would you like to start a reading plan? Click on the “youversion” app above to get some ideas.

    2. What kind of accountability do you have in reading the Bible? Ask you House Church to help or start a Transformation Group with someone.

  3. Freshen Up: Is your way of reading becoming stale? Try the methods in the resources to check out some new ways to read.

** While we may not agree with everything these authors say, diversity in perspectives is beneficial to growth, and we encourage an open and Spirit discerning posture while studying the Scripture and while reviewing any resource. **

United In Christ 5: Race + The Church

Unity as a Body of Believers of Christpng

WEEKLY: Race has been a consistent division in the church. It is said that Sunday morning is the “most segregated time of the week.“ How do we find ways to unite in the area of ethnicity and cross-cultural engagement?

READ: Galations 2:11-21

MORE RESOURCES:

Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby

LISTEN: This week’s worship set!

REFLECT:

  1. What does God’s word say, through the story of Paul confronting Peter, about race and unity (Galations 2:11-21)?

  2. What are ways you can continue to become united with those of different ethnicities than you?

  3. What engagements have you made to understand the history of race in the American Culture?

  4. If you have little understanding in this area, what is stopping you? If you have, what are your thoughts on the subject? How does it shape ethnic relationships today?


** While we may not agree with everything these authors say, diversity in perspectives is beneficial to growth, and we encourage an open and Spirit discerning posture while studying the Scripture and while reviewing any resource. **

United In Christ 4: Women + The Church

Unity as a Body of Believers of Christpng

WEEKLY: The debate about women and leadership in the church has caused a tumultuous rivalry in recent years. While the there seems to be strong prohibitions for women in ministry, there are some contextual questions that must be considered before we make a final conclusions. When the smoke is clear, we must be united as a church on issues that we cannot draw 100% conclusions on. Let us join together in rightly dividing the scripture and choose liberty in issues which are held in high debate among sincere, bible-believing, communities around the world!

READ: Genesis 1:26-28 1 Timothy 2:9-15 1 Cor. 14:33-40

MORE RESOURCES:

LISTEN: This week’s worship set!

REFLECT:

  1. What tradition have you typically viewed as correct: complimentarianist or egalitarianism? Why?

  2. Have you considered the alternative perspectives?

  3. Have you looked into the issues culturally and textually or have you defaulted with a tradition that was handed to you? Why or why not?

  4. Did anything change in your view after the Sunday Service regarding women in ministry? Why or why not?

  5. Why should this not be a divisive issue for the church?


** While we may not agree with everything these authors say, diversity in perspectives is beneficial to growth, and we encourage an open and Spirit discerning posture while studying the Scripture and while reviewing any resource. **

Juneteenth: A Holiday Worth Celebrating

flag american unfurled juneteenth2.png

The Jewish culture of Jesus’ time was deeply shaped by moments such as the Passover holiday. These holidays celebrated times in the history of the Jewish people where Yahweh moved mightily to make a way for the people. The Jewish people were unwilling to let those events become lost and were committed to always remember the truth of their story with all the joy and pain that came with it. Jesus participated in these celebrations and holidays of remembrance.

In our own culture, there are celebrations of important moments. In the summer, many people celebrate the 4th of July as a deeply reverent holiday, but there is another meaningful moment that should create both pause and celebration. This holiday is known as Juneteenth.  

Juneteenth is the fusion of words June and Nineteenth and celebrates when in 1865 the African-American slaves in Texas learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, which gave them their right to freedom.

Juneteenth is already celebrated by millions of Black Americans each year to commemorate freedom from chattel slavery. This day is acknowledged on some level by many states. It is not considered a national holiday, despite it being the oldest known Black freedom celebration.

As Common Ground Northeast continues to pursue the vision of our church as a reconciling community, holidays like Juneteenth are absolutely paramount to our understanding of how we embody that vision. We must all understand that chattel slavery in America was foundational to the creation of the country itself.

Africans slaves were brought over and forced to work under brutal conditions for centuries, enduring rape, torture, and sub-human conditions generation after generation. One of the main functions of enslaved persons was to pick and process cotton; by the start of the Civil War cotton had generated $220 million worth of goods (equating to $6.5 Billion in today's standards). This made up 61% of all US goods exported and was a huge part of the entire US economy.

The economic boost from slave labor catapulted the United States into one of the most economically powerful nations in the world, fueling the growth of the nation. Chattel slavery in the United States had an impact across the whole of the U.S. economy, carrying with it international implications for centuries.

Juneteenth celebrates the de facto end of this abuse and of legally enslaving Black persons in this country.

This is relevant to our work as a church because the work of reconciliation requires an acknowledgment of wrongdoing in order to fix what was broken. Juneteenth acknowledges the wrongdoing and abuse done to Black Americans that still has an impact today.

Much like the Old Testament celebration of Jubilee, the holiday of Juneteenth can be a moment where we take seriously the damages done and seek to repair the damage. Emancipation of enslaved Black Americans is one of the most important moments of U.S.history, and treating it as such is a powerful means of starting the process of reconciliation.

So how do we do acknowledge, fix what is broken, and begin the process of reconciliation? As a church and within our individual families, we can celebrate Juneteenth by making space to educate ourselves and legitimately celebrate a positive, momentous shift in our country's history. We can also commemorate the day by taking serious the amount of work still needed to be done as a nation.

Juneteenth is not acknowledged as a national holiday and should be. There have been a number of efforts to turn the day into a national holiday, but these efforts have always been devoid of White Evangelicals at the table to help the cause. Despite the lack of national approval of such a holiday, it still can and should be celebrated by our faith community.

Juneteenth can be celebrated by recognizing that not all Americans have equal freedoms and rights, and that millions of Black Americans and people of color still suffer from systemic injustices that cause a different type of bondage than physical slavery. We often participate in these systems, so we need reconciling. We have an opportunity to do so in celebrating Juneteenth.



Josh+Riddick+Photo+2.JPG

Josh Riddick

DIRECTOR OF INTERCULTURAL ENGAGEMENT

Josh and his wife Lindsey have been part of the Common Ground family since Spring of 2017. Josh is from Michigan, but has been in Indianapolis since graduating college in 2016. Josh was drawn to Common Ground as it a community pursuing genuine reconciliation. He is passionate about seeing systems of inequality reformed and the Church being the agent of change to do so. Josh is an aspiring contemplative, hip-hop head and WNBA/NBA junkie. Josh, Lindsey, their daughter Jade, and their dog Jazzmyne are proud call the Near East side of Indianapolis home.

A Letter and Prayer on Father's Day

fathers day at common ground northeast.jpg

We all approach Father’s Day from a different place.  Some of you have fathers who are still living, while some of you have father’s who have left this earth and who are dearly missed.  We thank God for the legacy of loving fathers.

Some of you do not know your father or have difficult relationships with them.  We thank God for being the perfect Father when our earthly fathers let us down.

Some of you are currently fathers, sacrificing daily to take care of your children’s physical, spiritual, and emotional needs. We thank God for modeling through you what it is to be a good father.

Some of you have taken on another’s child through foster and adoption, both formally or informally.  We thank God for demonstrating in you what it is to love someone beyond biological ties.

Some of you are fathers who have lost a child or have been unable to conceive a child.  We thank God for you who carry heavy burdens of loss, and pain, and desire - may you be comforted in their mourning.

Thank you, God, for giving us all of the men in our community who love, nurture, care, support, and guide their families and this community.

In God’s goodness, He gave himself the name of “Father”, “Abba”, to describe to his people the relationship He would have with them.  

  • When our earthly fathers are absent through death or choice, our Heavenly Father is there to fill the void.

  • When our earthly fathers disappoint or let us down, our Heavenly Father models for us what a good dad does.  

  • When our earthly fathers, in their going and coming, seek to know how to parent their children well, God has spoken through the scriptures what a good, good father looks like.

  • When we are burdened for hurting and orphaned children, God shows us what it is to bring the orphaned into communion with a loving father.

When Abraham and Isaac and Elkanah and Manoah and Zachariah all experienced loss or infertility in the Scriptures, we see a God who knew the desires of their hearts - He SAW them all; they were important, and loved, and God was moved to meet them in their mourning.

We see God give spiritual fathers to his Church again, and again, and again, and because of that, we know that any man can be a spiritual father to his brothers and sisters in Christ.  We thank God this Father’s Day for the parental attributes that He uses to shower love on us, His children, and to model for us, as parents and fathers.

To all fathers, thank you for your sacrifices of time and resources.  Thank you for loving your children- whatever those children may look like - biological, fostered, or spiritual.  

As an encouragement to all the fathers out there - know that your Heavenly Father is the best Father. There is only one perfect father, and I hope that gives you some comfort. The best fathers are the ones who look to God and do their best to emulate Him; to learn to be a good father, get to know your Heavenly Father well.


Emily Thien is a part of the community at Common Ground Northeast. She is a wife and the mother of 4 boys. She loves working with women and has a heart to see them become spiritually competent and confident in theology, scripture, and biblical community.

Emily Thien - A Pastors Wife, a Pastor and Wife

United In Christ 3: Christ the Head

Unity as a Body of Believers of Christpng

WEEKLY: In Ephesians, Paul compares the body of believers to a human body. It has many parts, systems, and appendages that must work in unison so that the body functions correctly. Each of us is different and each of us have been given a different “gift” of Christ wherein we excel. We are meant to share that gift, equip others with our gift, and work as a united body under one head which is Jesus Christ.

READ: Ephesians 4:1-16

EXTRA RESOURCES:

1) APEST Handout by Pastor Erik.

2) APEST Teaching Video by Jeff Vanderstelt.

3) 5 Fold Ministry Summary Sheet

LISTEN: This week’s worship set!

REFLECT:

  1. How does Paul STRESS unity in these verses? Why do you think he is doing this?

  2. Check out this 5 Fold Ministry test by 3DM ministries. What is your gift?

  3. What is the benefit of diversity and knowing your “gift?”

  4. What is an Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Shepherd, and Teacher? Learn more from the resources listed above.

  5. What might happen if we over-emphasize one of the gifts?

  6. What is the result of us being united in our diversity according the scripture reading?

** While we may not agree with everything these resource authors say, diversity in perspectives is beneficial to growth, and we encourage an open and Spirit discerning posture while studying the Scripture and while reviewing any resource. **

United In Christ 2: Christ the Constant

Unity as a Body of Believers of Christpng

WEEKLY: Some divisions come from within a community but others take place because there is an outside force acting upon it. Difficult circumstances, constant changes, and disruptions can break apart a unified group much like a violent storm breaks apart a ship at sea.

God is the unchanging, always reliable, and constant source we can rely upon in the midst of culture shifts, seasons, and dramatic life changes.

READ: Genesis 22: 1-19

LISTEN: This week’s worship set!

REFLECT:

  1. How do we remain stable when pressure and changes are applied to the body of Christ?

  2. What does it mean that God is unchanging? Does it mean God is stagnant? Why or why not?

  3. Why is it so difficult to see God in the context of a storm, circumstance, or life change?

  4. Where do we go to “center“ our lives? Are you going there to prepare yourself for the storm?

United In Christ: Jesus' Prayer

Unity as a Body of Believers of Christpng

WEEKLY: There are so many divisions in the midst of our culture today: denominations, ideologies, politics, preferences, doctrines, gifting, values, and the list goes on… Our natural tendency is to group up together with those who already agree with us. It is no wonder Jesus calls His followers to radical unity and places a weight of urgency on this topic. In fact, the very mission of God is at risk!

How do we place the same level of urgency Jesus places on unity without losing our distinct identity as christians?

READ: John 17

GRAPHIC:

John 17 Graphic.png
 

LISTEN: This week’s worship set!

REFLECT:

  1. What is the context of Jesus’ prayers in John 17? Why is this important?

  2. What are your “essentials?“ Write them out on a sheet of paper but MAKE SURE you place UNITY in the list. Where did it land in the pecking order?

  3. Have you ever prioritized UNITY in your theology? Did you prioritize it according to the importance Jesus places on it in John 17?

  4. Does this mean Jesus is calling us to “spine-less theology“ that holds no convictions? Why or why not?

  5. What is at risk if we fail to stay united?

Urgent Message from Erik

Hello Common Ground Northeast Family!

As many of you know, we have LOT of children in our church which requires a large amount of teachers and volunteers in our children's ministry!  If we are unable to secure the positions we need quickly, we will have to shut down our Children's ministry for large amounts of the summer - including this weekend possibly. Currently, we are in desperate need for Teachers (trained leaders with background checks). 

Since we know that many of you are out of town during the summer and, in order to create a rhythm of "rest" over this season, we are utilizing a less intensive curriculum during the months of June and July.  If your children benefit from our Children's Ministry over the summer, we need you to sign up to help for 2-3 weeks (you do not need to commit consecutively over our "rest" period).

Please contact Jody to sign up as soon as possible!

Mental Health & the Gospel Pt. 2

Mental Health and The Gospel Indianapolis Church

WEEKLY: Cases of anxiety and depression are rising in the U.S. Most of us have encountered it personally or through someone we know. What does Jesus offer to those of us who suffer this side of eternity with issues of mental health?

Additionally, mental health can be a difficult topic for the Christians to deal with, but we have often stepped into territory that is not our expertise. It would be a huge disservice to leave Jesus out of the equation. He is called the Great Physician and our Wonderful Counselor!

How do we engage such a sensitive topic from a spiritual/biblical angle without doing damage along the way?

Join us as we take two Sundays to talk about this from two perspectives - clinical and spiritual. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you are not alone, and the scriptures are not silent. We hope to see you over the next couple weeks as we tackle this difficult topic!

READ: Psalm 88

LISTEN: This week’s worship set!

REFLECT:

  1. What experiences or observations do you have about Christians engaging in issues of Mental Health? Has it been helpful or hurtful?

  2. Does following Jesus mean you cannot consult a counselor, doctor, or therapist? Does consulting a therapist mean you don’t need to bring Jesus into the picture? Why or why not?

  3. Have you consider the spiritual implications of the the enemies voice during your struggle through the flesh, the world, and the enemy? This article gives more information on the idea and how to battle it.

  4. If you currently struggle with depression or anxiety, please contact one of the staff members for guidance. We want to make every resource (clinical and spiritual) available to you as you seek wholeness, healing, and shalom in your mind, soul, heart, and spirit!

Financial Update - May 2019

Charlie Meyer provided our church with an update on our financials this past Sunday, May the 19th. The recording is below the graph.


We have three different easy and secure ways to give. If you’d like to learn how to give, please visit our Giving Page!

financial update may 2019 Common Ground

Mental Health & the Gospel Pt. 1

Mental Health and The Gospel Indianapolis Church

WEEKLY: Cases of anxiety and depression are rising in the U.S. Most of us have encountered it personally or through someone we know. What does Jesus offer to those of us who suffer this side of eternity with issues of mental health?

Additionally, mental health can be a difficult topic for the Christians to deal with, but we have often stepped into territory that is not our expertise. It would be a huge disservice to leave Jesus out of the equation. He is called the Great Physician and our Wonderful Counselor!

How do we engage such a sensitive topic from a spiritual/biblical angle without doing damage along the way?

Join us as we take two Sundays to talk about this from two perspectives - clinical and spiritual. If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you are not alone, and the scriptures are not silent. We hope to see you over the next couple weeks as we tackle this difficult topic!

READ: Psalm 88

LISTEN: Another in the Fire by Hillsong United

REFLECT:

  1. How can we nurture and strengthen Spiritual Health?

  2. Do you believe there is a connection between one’s spiritual health and their mental health?

  3. Do you believe mental illness is the direct result of a person’s sin?

  4. Do you feel your church is adequately and appropriately able to manage your spiritual and mental health needs?

  5. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Many people believe that anxiety and depression is a weakness of faith. Do you believe some mental illnesses can be improved by prayer and faith alone? Do you feel medication has a place in the healing of some mental illnesses?

Mothers Day: Honoring the Mothers of our Faith

girl-3569889_1920.png

Growing up in the church, I often heard of the “fathers of the faith”.  I could rattle off to you a litany of church fathers (Augustine, Luther, and Tertullian easily come to mind). And, I could tell you at least a little bit about what effect they had on my theology or the theology of the modern church.  

One thing I could not easily tell you about are the “Mothers of the faith”.

This glaring hole in my knowledge of female voices, theologians, martyrs, and advisors in Christianity is no accident. Given the patriarchal landscape through the entirety of history, little access was given to female voices in the shaping of the church. Women, during the formation of the church and in every generation since, have wielded significantly less power than their male counterparts - both inside and outside the church walls.

Powerfully, Jesus contradicts the cultural notion that women have voices that should be silenced. In his first encounter with humans after the resurrection, it was women he physically appeared to, proclaiming the most amazing, radically-changing, undeniably beautiful miracle that this world has and ever will see - the moment of His resurrection.

This Mother’s Day, I could reflect on the joys of motherhood.

Or the burdens of sacrificial love.  

Or the great blessing that children truly are. But you will find that just about everywhere else.

Instead, this Mother’s Day, I long to focus on the forgotten mothers of our faith.  

When I encounter the great cloud of witnesses referenced in Hebrews 12, will I recognize the faces of the women in that crowd? Will I embrace them as the mothers of my faith and my church that they are?  

Below, I have selected just a few Mothers of our faith and provided a few, brief highlights.  Hopefully, it will wet your pallet to study these incredible women and the legacy they have left for all of us in the church, both male and female.


The Martyred:

Perpetua and Felicitas (3rd century):

During persecution in Rome, Perpetua and her servant were tossed into the gladiator arena, where they were gored and beheaded publicly. She was a leader of an imprisoned community of believers, both male and female, who were all executed by Rome.  Since she was a 22 year mother, she was given the chance to renounce her faith and be returned to her father’s household. She did not. Her leadership led to sermons from the likes of Augustine.

The Writers:

Proba (4th century):

She wrote “Centro” in 351, using a well-known, ancient poetry technique where-in the author rearranges exact lines from a well-known book (think the Odyssey). Proba applied this technique to passages of scripture such as the Last Supper.  This poetic skill took extraordinary scholarship and studious work. Her work was used as a textbook for centuries, as it allowed for the Bible to be better understood by the Roman culture.

Egeria (5th century):

Egeria kept a diary, which later came to be known as “Pilgrimage to the Holy Land”.  This diary became important to scholars in later years, as they utilized it in their understanding of church practices, architecture, and biblical sites of her time.  The contents of her diary also established her as a role model for Christian women for centuries.

Church Leadership and Preachers:

Nino (4th century):

Preaching and healing in the Iberian kingdom (modern day Georgia), Nino healed the queen of Iberia from an illness. The queen converted to Christianity and was baptized by Nino.  The king, once against Christianity, eventually converted after a conversion experience like the Apostle Paul’s. He was also baptized and then preached to his own kingdom about the experience.

The Desert Mothers:

Just like the desert fathers, the desert mothers were Christian ascetics that lived in the deserts of Egypt in the 4th and 5th centuries. Believed to include close to 2,000 women. One of which was Paula.

Paula:

Known as a great scholar and good friend to St. Jerome, Paula was also one of his most generous financial supporters.  When Jerome translated the Septuagint and the Greek writings of the Christian cannon into Latin, it was Paula who paid his living expenses and purchased the manuscripts and supplies needed for his work. She also assisted him in the work of his translations, so much so that he dedicated his translations of Job, Isaiah, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Esther, Galatians, Philemon, Titus, and the 12 minor prophets to her.  

Jerome was criticized for dedicating his work to women. He responded, “These people do not know that while Barak trembled, Deborah saved Israel; that Esther delivered from supreme peril the children of God… Is it not to women that our Lord appeared after the resurrection? Yes, and the men could then blush for not having sought what women had found.”


What a powerful legacy these women have left for us!  

I can only hope that one day, not only will I be remembered as a mother in the physical sense, but in my sanctification, that I will be known as a great spiritual mother for many.  

May we be inspired to become mothers and fathers of the faith, inspired by the sacrifice, writings, and teachings of these incredible women and others like them.


For more information on many of these and many other incredible mothers of the Christian faith, check out these links:

The Junia Project: https://juniaproject.com/women-in-church-history-footnoted-forgotten/

Christianity Today International: https://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/september/searching-for-christian-heroines-from-history-look-to-early.html

More about the desert mothers at: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-rebel-virgins-and-desert-mothers-who-have-been-written-out-of-christianitys-early-history

For a fun set of cards to introduce your children to some Mothers of the Faith

https://tiny-theologians.com/product/mothers-of-the-faith/


48390764_10161287335235074_9129707914049617920_o.jpg

Emily Thien is a part of the community at Common Ground Northeast. She is a wife and the mother of 4 boys. She loves working with women and has a heart to see them become spiritually competent and confident in theology, scripture, and biblical community.

Finding Your Way Back 3: Love and Life

FYWBTG-Series-Graphic-English.jpg

This Week: The longing for love, purpose, and meaning in life is universal. This longing can only be fulfilled inside a relationship with God. You can always find your way back to God and awaken to His love and to living a life that matters!

When we find our way back to God, we will discover our identity as a deeply loved, unconditionally accepted, child of God. In Christ, we find life that is really living! Find your place in the community of God’s sons and daughters as we celebrate, connect, and contribute together.

Worship: As You Find Me

Read: Luke 15:11-31

Reflect:

  1. Is it difficult to accept that God loves you as you are? Why or why not?

  2. What identity statements do the scriptures call you (child of God, holy, Saints, etc)? Ephesians chapter one is filled with identity statements! Which do you accept and which do you have trouble accepting?

  3. Is it difficult to believe that God loves you too much to leave you that way? Why or why not?

  4. Does this idea come into conflict with God’s love being unconditional? Why or why not?

  5. If you want to further your connection, to celebrate, and contribute together, you should check out a our House Church Launch process that helps you become a “Family on Mission.”

Special Announcement from the Elders

Hello Common Ground Northeast,

We wanted to make everyone aware of a staff transition that will be taking place over the next few months. Josh Riddick’s service at Common Ground Northeast started as a short term “fellowship“ to help us engage in the reconciliation conversation. That grew into a part-time position lasting almost 2 years as our Director of Intercultural Engagement and his impact on our community is immeasurable. Here are Josh’s own words about the transition:

Common Ground Northeast Family,

Two years ago I was leaving an extremely difficult church context, pretty beat up by my experiences and walking a bit wounded. I was unsure what vocational ministry looked like for me or how I would enter the church the same way. My heartbeat was for racial justice, and the church that I was brought to Indy to help pastor was not particularly interested in that being my role. In the midst of the transition out of that church and the tumultuous season after, I heard rumblings of a community of faith seeking to start the very dialogues I had hoped to lead around racial justice in the Church. These rumblings were from none other than the leaders of Common Ground Northeast, a church I had heard nothing of. Northeast reached out to me to be part of this shift and help start the conversation. Even though I did not know much about Northeast, I jumped at the opportunity! Two years later, I still am shocked a church in Indianapolis was bold enough to broach these conversations. Not because it is not the right thing to do, but because it is hard and the cost is steep, as it is to pursue the way of Christ.  

The last 6 months or so, I have felt God inviting me into a space of intentional listening. I began to feel my soul start to occupy a liminal space I had not felt prior. There was a clear feeling of transition, away from something and towards something else, and I occupied this middle ground over the last few months. I thought maybe the sleep deprivation from our newborn was catching up to me, but Linds felt it too, as did others who were praying with me. It was in this process of listening to God where we as a family prepared ourselves for a shift, whatever that may be. 

That shift has arrived… it started when I made a career change to begin working at the Central Indiana Community Foundation doing equity work, which has been such an exciting move and an opportunity I am so thankful for. This shift also includes my ministry career. God has been placing some new passions on our hearts and moving us towards engaging in our immediate community in a whole new way. We believe that in order to do this well, we need to make a transition out of Northeast. 

But this transition cannot happen without first acknowledging the beauty of the Northeast community. Y’all have been such a blessing to us! We entered into Northeast at the early stages of our marriage and had so many encouraging voices in the midst our new life together. The Northeast community supported us through Lindsey’s pregnancy and the birth of Jade. The love, encouragement, and tangible support we received in those moments mean so much to us. That love and support is what makes up what I have heard described as the “Common Ground DNA.” This DNA makes Northeast a special place, one that will remain special to us. So even with this transition, CGNE will always be held in high regard. Even after June when we transition out, we hope you stay in touch. We will be praying for you as you continue to wrestle with what it means to be a reconciling community of faith. 

Shalom,

Josh

It’s never easy to say goodbye to someone who has had such a strong positive influence on our identity and values as a congregation. Josh will focus on training leaders through the month of June to continue the Gospel + Race Workshops here at CGNE. We will pray over the Riddick family and commission them out during the service on June 30th. Moving forward, Josh is going to partner with us in hosting the second Reconcile Conference in September as well as consulting with future endeavors of intercultural engagement at Common Ground Northeast. If you have any questions, let us know at elders@cgnortheast.org. Please pray for the Riddick’s as they move into their next phase of Kingdom work!

Grace and Peace,

Common Ground Northeast Elders

Close