Church Picnic THIS Sunday

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Join us THIS Sunday, April 19, from 4:00-7:00pm at Veteran’s Park as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Brook Hills.

We’ll have inflatables for the kids, sand volleyball, ultimate frisbee, cornhole, and we’ll even attempt a group picture at 6:00pm.

If you didn’t order a meal ticket, we still want you to come! Bring your dinner, grab some take-out, or eat beforehand, but come as we all enjoy time together as church family.

If you did order a meal, dinner will be at 5:00pm.

*An update will be given Sunday morning at the Worship Gatherings and on the church’s website and social media in case of inclement weather.

Get Ready For Our May Blog Series!

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Our February blog series “Sex and the Christian Woman” was such a hit that we have planned a new blog series on BH Women for the month of May on the topic of “Calling and Contentment.”

Women of all ages from across our faith family will provide insight regarding what we are called to as Christian women, and we’ll delve into issues related to calling such as contentment, comparison, and insecurity.

Join us for the first post, which will go live on Sunday, May 3!

To Live Is Christ Conference at Brook Hills

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Mark Your Calendars for the
To Live Is Christ Conference at Brook Hills!

Join us on May 1-2 in the Student Building as Pastor Tony Merida leads us through Philippians and what it looks like to live as though Christ is your life and not just part of it.

The conference starts at 7:00pm on Friday (doors open at 6:30pm), and we’ll start back on Saturday at 9:00am (doors open at 8:30am) and end early Saturdayafternoon.

Cost for the conference is $15.
The first 100 people to register will receive a Brook Hills travel mug, and registration closes on Monday, April 27.
To register for the conference, click here.

If you have any questions, contact Ashley Chesnut.

The Last Passover

Happy Maundy Thursday! For those who did not grow up in a liturgical church, Maundy Thursday is the fifth day of Holy Week (the Thursday before Easter), and it recalls the Passover dinner that Jesus celebrated with His disciples on the night of His arrest.

The First Passover: A Night of Watching
Exodus 12

Imagine that you are a slave in Egypt in a generation with a higher girl to guy ratio because a couple of decades earlier Pharaoh had ordered the genocide of all male Hebrew children. You worked everyday building cities for Pharaoh and were overseen by harsh taskmasters who used brutal force to punish or to “encourage” efficiency. You cried out to God to end the suffering of you and your people, to act on the promises that He’d made to give you land, and to vindicate you. Your parents prayed this prayer as did your grandparents and your great-grandparents. But each day you woke up to more work, more oppression, more despair.

Until this man named Moses comes promising God’s deliverance. And you see miracles – the Nile River turned to blood, creatures such as frogs and flies devastate crops, hail destroys the land, boils cover the Egyptians, disease overtakes the livestock, and the sun even stops shining for three whole days! Then Moses tells you and all of your kin to kill a lamb at twilight, rub its blood on the doorframe of your house, roast its meat, and quickly eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs while fully dressed and prepared to travel. You perceive a weightiness and apprehension with these instructions, especially since God has promised that the next plague would involve a judgment on all the gods of Egypt with the blood on the doorframe being your only protection against this coming judgment, so you make preparations.

That night you do as you were instructed, watching and waiting for God to do as He promised and to strike down the firstborn son of every family lacking the bloodstained doorpost. And at midnight, you begin to hear it. Great wailing coming from Egyptian homes – echoing so loudly in the desert and in the cities that there was no escaping the mourning, fear, and hysteria as Egyptian families discovered more and more sons and livestock dead. Even Pharaoh’s own son – considered to be divine and a descendant of the sun god – had been killed!

And quickly you are told you must leave – leave your home, leave Egypt. No time for packing. Take what you have and go! So you gather what you can as quickly as you can in the middle of the night, and you head into the desert with your family, your neighbors, and your countrymen. Relieved at God’s protection of your family in a night with so much death. Exhilarated at the prospect of your release from slavery. Wondering what’s next and where you will go and how you will get there with so few supplies. Amazed as you see a pillar of fire leading you by night and a pillar of cloud by day. And apprehensive as the Hebrew men – ill equipped as they were – travel  prepared for battle.

The Significance of the Passover

We can’t understand the last Passover without grasping the context of the first one. When Moses relayed God’s instructions regarding the Lamb’s blood and the meal, Moses told them of God’s design for this day – the tenth day of the first month – to be celebrated as a memorial for how God “‘passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses'” (Ex. 12:27). God formulated how He would deliver His people from slavery in Egypt, and in His wisdom, He foreshadowed what would occur with regards to Christ’s death and our salvation. In all of this, He also prepared the Israelites to understand why the Messiah would have to die.

  • As God spared His people from judgment by the blood of the Passover lamb, all who trust in Christ for salvation are spared eternal judgment because of the shedding of Christ’s blood. He is the ultimate Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7).
  • The Lamb chosen for the Passover had to be without blemish (Ex. 12:15), and Christ the Savior was/is sinless.
  • God used the Passover as the impetus for freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and Christ’s death frees us from slavery to sin.

The Last Passover: A Night of Inauguration
Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, and Luke 22:7-20

In God’s wisdom and timing, this meal – the Passover – served as the reason for Jesus’ gathering with the Twelve on what would be the night of His arrest, the night before He would hang on the cross becoming the sacrificed Lamb. And on this night, Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, giving new meaning to the Passover meal.

For the Jews, the Passover involved a word of blessing with the cup of wine being offered by the host, and dishes of green herbs, bitter herbs, and fruit puree being served. Then the head of the family would tell the story of the Passover and sing the first part of the Hallel Psalms (the Hallel are Psalms 113-118). The drinking of the second cup, the cup of interpretation, would occur at this time. The head of the family would then pray over the unleavened bread, and the meal (passover lamb, herbs, fruit puree) would be eaten with a prayer being prayed over the third cup, the cup of blessing. To conclude the meal, the head of the family would sing the remainder of the Hallel and would offer praise over the fourth cup of wine, the hallel cup.

The Bread

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we see Jesus taking the bread and blessing it as was common practice, but unlike the ritual, He offered His own words of interpretation: “‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me'” (Lk. 22:19). As He broke the bread, He symbolized the breaking of His body that would soon occur as He was beaten and crucified. In this, Christ identified with the Passover Lamb, for both had to be broken for the people to be “passed over.” It gives a whole new level of meaning to Christ declaring Himself to be “bread of life” (Jn. 6:35). Eternal life could only be given once His life – His body – had been broken.

The Wine

After doing this with the bread, Jesus took the third cup (the cup of blessing), blessed it, and provided new teaching: “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:27-29).

With this meal, Christ ended the old covenant and inaugurated the new covenant. He used the same languages as Moses did in Exodus 24:8 at the commencement of the old covenant. By declaring “this is my blood,” Jesus showed that He was doing what Moses had done – inaugurating a new covenant – that was sealed by His blood, not an animal’s blood.

Furthermore, Jesus’ reference to the “many” harkened back to Isaiah 53 and Isaiah’s prophecies regarding the Suffering Servant who would bear “the sins of many, and make intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). And this was on top of Jesus’ self-identification as this Suffering Servant who had come to give His life as a “ransom for many” (Mt. 1:21; 20:28). As Dr. Allen Ross notes, “So Jesus was teaching that His substitutionary death would forgive sins and establish the New Covenant, all in fulfillment of the prophecies, and in fulfillment of the true meaning of the Passover.”

At the conclusion of the meal, Christ did not offer the fourth cup of wine – the hallel cup or the cup of consummation. Why? Because He will not drink this cup until the time of consummation – the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19). This is why the next event that the Gospels record involves Jesus and the disciples singing a hymn then heading to the Mount of Olives, for the Passover meal concludes by singing the rest of the Hallel Psalms.

 The Lord’s Supper

For us, the Lord’s Supper reenacts (role plays) the events in the upper room, symbolizes Christ’s sacrifice (the means of salvation), and renews the covenant (each time we take, we’re examining our life in light of the new covenant). The Israelites ate the Passover to identify with their ancestors who were redeemed from bondage by participating in the Passover meal, and we as Jesus’ followers are to identify with His redemptive death by eating the bread of the Lord’s Supper. When we celebrate this meal, we’re to remember what Christ has done and that He is returning (1 Cor. 11:23-32). So as we head into Good Friday and Easter Sunday this weekend, let us remember Christ, our Passover Lamb.

“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

How Brook Hills Goes Local

Over the next few weeks, we are spotlighting different ministries at Brook Hills to inform as well as to celebrate how God is working within our faith family. Click here for our post on Preschool Ministry, here for the one on our Worship Team, and here for the one on Children’s Ministry.

At Brook Hills, we often hear so much about global missions – which is wonderful, but for this week’s Q&A, I sat down with our Local Missions Pastor Keith Stanley and with Stephanie Davis to learn more about how our church is

Local Mission Team: Stephanie Davis & Keith Stanley

Local Mission Team: Stephanie Davis & Keith Stanley

involved in serving across the Birmingham area – how we’re going local.

BH Women: Provide a big picture of what Local Missions looks like at Brook Hills.

Keith: Our goal is to equip and empower Brook Hills members to intentionally make disciples in the city among the least reached and most impoverished. We all have opportunities in our normal rhythms to make disciples, but there is a whole world who needs to the church to come to them. We have to be mobile in order to reach the most needed areas of this city.

At Brook Hills, we specifically focus on four areas of ministry in Local Missions because these four groups represent the least reached in our city.

  • Internationals – There are over 40,000 internationals in Jefferson and Shelby County, many of whom are from unreached people groups.
  • Urban Children, many of whom are isolated from the gospel.
  • Urban Adults – To reach this demographic, we primarily partner with WorkFaith Birmingham, but our church members also serve with transitional ministries, prison ministries, and ministries such as Brother Bryan.
  • Foster Care – With this, we both encourage families to be foster parents as well as to WRAP foster families.

BH Women: So what are we doing as a church to reach these four groups of people?

Keith: Well, people in poverty are isolated from the church, both because of fear but also because of location. Or while there are churches in the inner city, they are not set up to meet all the needs of the people who live around them. For example, Marks Village (a government housing project in the Gate City part of town) has 500 families living there who all have needs – one church cannot meet those needs or reach these families by itself. So we partner with urban churches.

For the kids at Marks Village, we host a weekly Bible Club that currently has over eighty kids. We promote relational discipleship and have a 1:3 or a 1:4 ratio of adults to kids in order to allow this to happen more easily.

We also participate in Breakfast Club at Oliver Elementary, which is on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:00am. Again, it’s one adult who meets with three kids who the school says are struggling academically and emotionally, and these adults have an opportunity to encourage and mentor students. We also do Discovery Clubs at Oliver, and our church hosts the Ready Day One project at Oliver in order to address physical needs with those students. We want to holistically minister to these urban kids – emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

For urban adults, we partner with Serving You Ministries, which is out of North Park Baptist Church in Trussville. They help address food, utilities, as well as some clothing needs and have two locations – one at North Park and one at Brook Highland Community Church. We send people from Brook Hills to serve there as well.

We also have church members who serve outside of these four areas we’ve identified. We encourage our church to find where God is calling you to serve and to make disciples in this city.

BH Women: You’ve mentioned WorkFaith Birmingham, which we’ve heard about a couple of times from the platform on Sundays. Can you explain more about this ministry?

Keith: First of all, understand that WorkFaith is a Brook Hills partner, not a Brook Hills ministry. I think there’s been some confusion about this.

At this point, 87% of WorkFaith Birmingham graduates have obtained employment, but we’ve discovered that they need more support after getting a job. In light of this, we are implementing monthly meetings for our graduates (the next one is Thursday, April 16, at 6:30pm at New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church).

WorkFaith BHMFor this, we need people to serve as a table host at this meetings. This involves leading the table talk for the night – helping graduates network with each other, debriefing spiritual growth as well as job challenges (“What’s one thing you can do to grow in this area this week?”), and praying together. At these monthly meetings, we’ll also highlight our core ethics and values and address topics related to challenges they’re facing. We’ve also realized that we’re dealing with life needs. For example, food resources will be the focus of the April 16 meeting, and we will help them connect to support ministries and grow in life skills.

From March-December in 2014, we had nine workshops with sixty-seven graduates, and as of today, fifty-eight of them have a job. WorkFaith doesn’t give anyone a job, but we empower them with skills to get and keep a job. We’re trying to help our WorkFaith students move beyond entitlement and develop a biblical worldview of life, work, and ethics. We’re teaching them about God’s design for work, and we’re addressing the heresy of the prosperity gospel.

We have twelve core competencies that we teach in the curriculum we use, and we send our graduates job leads and coach them on how to stand out in a job interview and how to identify and explain what they can bring to a company. We also do mock interviews and teach them how to research companies.

BH Women: If a small group or a Brook Hills member wanted to start serving locally, what would they need to do as a first step?

Stephanie: First, look at what the people in the small group are passionate about, and identify the giftings of the people in the group. We have so many opportunities available, so it’s helpful to start with the person or the group’s passions and gifts in order to know where to serve.

An interest in working with children, for example, would narrow things down. If I can know something like this, I’ll list some options, tell you what the needs are, and what available serving opportunities are. You can take these opportunities back to your small group and pray through where God might be leading you.

If you still don’t know, just try one of them. We do immersion opportunities like the Fall Festival where you can serve for a day and see what it’s like before committing to serve there on a regular basis. These immersion opportunities also help get rid of preconceived notions about the people in that area.

Keith: In other words, just try it. We also send out a weekly email where we highlight needs of our ministry partners as well as opportunities to serve. If you want to be added to this email list, contact Stephanie at sdavis@brookhills.org

Stephanie: We usually send this out on Tuesdays, but you can also check our website on the “Get Started” tab. There we’ll list immersion opportunities, immediate opportunities, and the info from our e-blast.

Keith: We also highlight equipping opportunities on our weekly e-blast.

Stephanie: I often encourage people just to come to our Working with Urban Children workshop. If you have no idea where to serve, come to one of these. You can meet folks who are already serving with urban children and get a picture of what it involves.

BH Women: Many people at Brook Hills don’t really know the history of Local Missions at our church and how the Radical Experiment helped shape what this ministry looks like here. Can you fill us in?

Keith: We had a Community Outreach program even when I came here in 2004. As people came back from Global serving opportunities, we wanted them to have a way to plug in here in our city.

With Radical, David Platt challenges us to pray about an area with spiritual and physical poverty where we could make a long-term impact. Globally, this was India, and locally, we identified the East Lake and Gate City area.

We drove around the city praying, and back then, we had about 100 people serving with Lovelady. We were asking where were the deepest needs in our city, and we identified Marks Village. The needs were and are immense. 60% of kids are raised by a grandparent, and 80% of these families have no male father figures in the home. The average income per year was $6200, which was the lowest income of all the public housing communities in Birmingham. And we sensed that God was calling us to make a difference there.

Ben DeLoach, who was on our staff at that time, was from East Lake and sensed God leading him to plant a church there – to move to that area and make a difference there. God opened up partnerships – some more successful than others, and through it all, we’ve learned about our own expectations and how to serve the local churches in those areas.

Radical called us to ask the question: how can we best and most intentionally make disciples among the least reached and most impoverished, both locally and globally?

Stephanie: It’s important to note that people both within and outside of Brook Hills were addressing needs in our community, but nothing was really present in Marks Village. No one was addressing the generational poverty there.

Keith: There’s lots of great relief work in this city, but not a lot of ministries are focusing on restoration. This is why relational disciple-making is so important. People can’t move out of their economic or their spiritual situations without someone walking alongside them.

We try to restore people – families – to God, to His plan for their life, and empower them to live it. We are not trying to mold them into some sort of Brook Hills image. We want to empower them to walk with God themselves and to understand His plan for them. We counsel with resources and provide opportunities for them to get out of poverty.

It’s relational disciple-making. When you don’t have Christ-followers investing, they reach a plateau spiritually. We have all benefitted from relationships, from where people have invested in us, and we want to provide these relationships for internationals, urban children, urban adults, and foster kids in Birmingham.

BH Women: Do y’all have any recommended reading for folks who want to serve with any of these four groups of people?

Stephanie: Click here to see a list of books, studies, and sermons that we recommend for anyone who wants to serve with the spiritually and materially impoverished.

BH Women: Two Sundays ago (March 22), Ready Day One was emphasized in the Sunday Worship Gatherings. Give us more information on what this and how our church can get involved.

Keith: Ready Day One provides urban children with the resources they need to start school, and for us, it’s a way to display the gospel, to connect local churches to needy, unchurched families, and to love them in Jesus’ name.

Prior to Ready Day One, more than 33% of students in Birmingham City Schools were not showing up until after Labor Day. Since the start of Ready Day One, this number has dropped to 5%.

At Brook Hills, we were already focused on reaching out to the families at Marks Village, and Oliver Elementary is where these kids go to school. So we focus on the Ready Day One project at Oliver Elementary.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 11.04.23 AMAll of this came about when Frank Woodson (from Mission Alabama) and I traveled to Dallas a couple of years ago, and Frank told me of a conversation he’d had with Dr. Witherspoon. The school superintendent told Frank of how the inner city kids were starting a month later than suburban schools, that it takes that long to get students there because school uniforms are required. These kids have to wait until their families’ Social Security checks come in at the first of the month to buy the rest of what’s needed to start school, and Dr. Witherspoon asked if there was any way that the local churches could help.

Ready Day One provides three school uniforms, a belt, a jacket, a backpack, shoes, socks, and school supplies for all children who live in public housing in Jefferson County and for all DHR kids. There are 460 kids at Oliver, and it costs about $100 per child to provide all that’s listed above. So our goal is to raise $45,000.

Last year, our faith family provided uniforms and school supplies for more than 450 children in the Gate City area.

Stephanie: If people want to give online to Ready Day One, they can do so at this site. We’ll also have serving days this summer as we prepare items for distribution and as we give them out to the families. We’ll have more information about this on our website and in our weekly e-news starting this summer.

BH Women: Is there anything else that you would like our faith family to know about Local Missions at Brook Hills?

Keith: We are joining God in what He’s already doing in this city. We’re not Saviors coming in on a white horse. But we are called to serve, to join God, and to go in humility.

Stephanie: And we don’t always know how to best do this, so we learn – often through trial and error.

Keith: As with Global, there are also short-term, mid-term, and long-term needs in Local Missions, and obviously, the greatest impact is had when there’s weekly involvement with people. Also, we think of projects in terms of people and ask the questions, “How does this ‘event’ support relational disciple-making? How does it allow us to relay the gospel?”

An Inside Look at BH Kids

Over the next few weeks, we are spotlighting different ministries at Brook Hills to inform as well as to celebrate how God is working within our faith family. To read our post on Preschool Ministry, click here, and for the one on our Worship Team, click here.

Never a dull moment with our Brook Hills Kids Lead Team!

Never a dull moment with our Brook Hills Kids Lead Team!

On a sunny day at the Brook Hills playground last week, I sat down with John Tice, Phyliss Wright, Allison Turner, and Nathan Graham from BH’s Children’s Ministry to find out what exactly goes on in the third floor of the church.

BH Women: What drew you to Children’s Ministry? Why this age group?

John: It is inarguably the greatest work on earth. Here’s why. If our goal is discipleship (and it is), then the best time to shape a person’s understanding, love, and heart towards fear of God is when this person is a child. It’s a prime time for discipleship. Plus, children’s ministry is fun. Kids are real with no pretense.

Nathan: They’re very impressionable.

BH Women: What does a typical Wednesday or Sunday look like on the third floor?

Phyliss: Wednesday nights are IGNITE where we have a huge missions focus. The tag line for IGNITE is “Kids with Jesus on His great mission.”

We want them to know that they can and should be missionaries where they are as well as look ahead to where God might lead them as adults. And we provide them with opportunities to meet real missionaries.

John: Sometimes, they (the missionaries) come here, or we provide exposure through media such as Skype. We particularly focus on missionaries who are from Brook Hills and who have kids this age.

Phyliss: During Wednesday nights, the kids take time in their small groups to pray for them – and they are serious about praying for our missionaries!

John: Wednesday nights are casual, no chairs, and we have an energetic game time-

Nathan: Which is a kid favorite!

Phyliss: It’s a John and Nathan favorite. They play as hard as the kids do.

Nathan: With Kids Choir rehearsal also on Wednesday nights this past month, one sister went to Kids Choir while her brother went to IGNITE. His reason for choosing IGNITE over Kids Choir? “Choir doesn’t have game time!”

BH Women: What all happens on Sundays?

John: On Sundays, our emphasis is on Scripture, for sure. We’re using a three year curriculum from Gospel Project that gives an overview of the whole Bible. Every lesson is a gospel emphasis.

Allison: The kids see each of the stories – how they tie together and to the gospel, which is not how I learned all of the Bible stories as a kid. I was taught them as individual, stand-alone stories and didn’t see how they all connect together as one larger story.

John: We’re building a high regard for Scripture. For example, we emphasize bringing Bibles with us to church. For the most part, we’re above 85% each week, but our goal is 95%. And if we reach that goal, we have Heavenly Donuts…

We also make a big deal about Scripture memory, and we want them to get the application of what they’re memorizing. And we make it fun.

BH Women: How do you make it fun?

Nathan: We invite kids up on stage to recite their memory verses. If they quote them correctly, they go to the treasure chest for a prize. And when they recite the verses, the room explodes like they just made a touchdown.

Phyliss: Like Alabama just beat Auburn!

John: And the kids participate more in the service through the spoken

Kids Ministry Lead Team (L-R): Allison Turner, Phyliss Wright, John Tice, & Nathan Graham

Kids Ministry Lead Team (L-R): Allison Turner, Phyliss Wright, John Tice, & Nathan Graham

Word.

Phyliss: We also have a time of song and praise – with hand motions because it’s good to move when praising God.

These kids truly worship – even without planned motions. Even some of our Faith Trainers (small group leaders) have commented how they wish they could be as free in worship in the Big Room as they are in 304.

Our 5th graders lead us in worship on Sunday mornings. We have three teams of boys and girls who rotate leading and come early enough to rehearse.

Nathan: They also help run the sound booth and run water to the rooms for snack time.

Phyliss: And we can’t forget our Welcome Team. They rotate every week with one team standing at the main desk to check in guests and walk new parents and kids to the rooms. We have some at the check-in stations to assist parents. They’re so faithful, and it’s great to have them!

And we have a great group of subs – to the point that we never have to worry about having small groups covered. We even have “floaters” who will just ask, “Mrs. Phyliss, where you need me today?”

John: At this point, all of our serving positions are filled. When I first got here, we had 56 volunteer staff. Now, we have 106 serving in Children’s Ministry.

BH Women: Tell me more about what y’all do with Scripture memory.

John: We’ve selected verses for each grade, and we were guided to choose these verses by three of Paul’s pastoral prayers (things he prayed for the churches). These bullet points became the emphases. They focus on being mature, hopeful, and grounded in the faith and are Christ-centered, with many being Christ’s words.

The boys and girls are exposed to these verses for nine weeks because we want to let life unfold while these verses are in front of them. We also have a built in review system by reviewing the verses on Sunday mornings. For example, when a first grader quotes one of their verses, they’re rehearsing them for all the other kids who memorized that verse in first grade.

Allison: It’s really cool. We’ll ask if anyone remembers a verse from the section before, and they do!

Phyliss: We even had a fifth grade child quote all of her fourth grade verses. She rattled them off like an auctioneer.

BH Women: How do you help equip parents to talk their kids about salvation?

John: When something prompts conversation with their child, we encourage them to listen. We also provide a moms and dads with a printed resource (to help them talk to their kids about the gospel). Once a child goes through this with their parent(s), we as a staff have a conversation with them just to affirm them in their faith.

Starting this next school year, we’ll have a class offered two times a year for parents to attend that addresses salvation, baptism, and communion.

Phyliss: We also have a guide to help the kids write out their testimony. We adapted it from the one for the church, but it’s more kid-friendly.

Nathan: And parents are involved in the Bible memory program. Kids quote their verses to their parents, and the parents sign cards letting us know that the kids have memorized that verse.

John: We’re trying to link church with home and to reinforce that parents are the primary disciplers of their kids.

BH Women: What types of things does Children’s Ministry have coming up?

Phyliss: Rock the Block Easter, Summer, and Fall.

John: Which, in a nutshell, is the Brook Hills faith family decentralized. It’s intentionally not on campus but scattered to meet in neighborhoods.

Allison: More of the church is involved than if you actually met at the church.

John: Last year, over 1500 children came to Rock the Block Summer.

Nathan: With the smaller sites, more ongoing relationships are formed Rock the Block Easterwhere our congregation actually lives.

John: Rock the Block is weeklong – 4-5 days, and you can choose one of the four weeks in June to have it.

For Rock the Block Easter, this is something that would just be on a Saturday morning.

With Rock the Block Fall, this could be either a Friday or Saturday night thing.

Phyliss: The purpose of RTB Fall and Easter is to encourage continued gospel conversations that began in the summer. We want our folks to be intentional with their neighbors and use these activities to spawn conversations with them throughout the year.

John: Because neighbors are more likely to see the church through a member who lives across the street rather than the church building on 119.

BH Women: And we can’t forget about Kids Camp, right?

Phyliss: Oh, it’s the most fun week of the entire year!

John: Where else can you swim in a green lake or pond?

Phyliss: And throw up all the ice cream you ate (with sprinkles on top)?

A cool story from camp last year: we had a girl that was homesick the entire week. That first night, I gathered with her in her room to pray for her, and every night we went through this with this one girl. But on the last night, she ended up praying with one of her friends who trusted in Christ, and she told us how she was so thankful that she had stayed instead of going home early.

It’s an example of how our kids are making disciples, how they are disciple-makers.

Nathan: This year, we’re going to camp June 16-19 to Student Life for Kids.

Allison: At Shocco Springs.

Phyliss: And they’re building a new slide for this year. It’s 90 feet tall and called “Wet Willie.” It even has a two slides, so you can race.

And we can’t forget the nasty suckers and liquid ice creamy that were favorites of the kids last summer.

BH Women: Liquid ice cream?

Phyliss: The soft serve ice cream machine is used so much that the ice cream doesn’t get a chance to freeze.

Allison: It’s ice cream soup.

And we also do Family Game Night each year. I haven’t experienced it yet [Allison just joined our staff back in November].

The kids who have completed Route 66 (memorized the books of the Bible) can come early with a VIP early pass, play games, and do everything for free. We have inflatables…

Phyliss: And carnival-type games and some things where parents and Faith Trainers compete…

Nathan: And face-painting, Steel City Pops..

Phyliss: Duck pond, ring toss, cotton candy…

John: This year, I’m hoping to get a backhoe of dirt for the boys to just play in.

Phyliss: And the girls too!

BH Women: Is there anything else you would want our church to know about BH Kids?

Nathan: It’s for 1st-5th graders.

John: It’s a great place to serve, and if you’re interested in serving, contact Allison at aturner@brookhills.org or at (205) 313-7745.

For more with BH Kids, like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and check out their website.

Q&A with the Brook Hills Worship Team

Over the next few weeks, we are spotlighting different ministries at Brook Hills to inform as well as to celebrate how God is working within our faith family. To read our post on Preschool Ministry, click here.

For today’s post, I joined our Worship Team (Matt Mason, Audrie Appel, and Philip Townsend) in their weekly Worship Team meeting and got a behind the scenes look at this ministry at our church.

BH Women: So what all goes into preparing for Sunday’s Worship Gatherings?

Matt: It starts with knowing the sermon passage. That drives it all. Knowing the text and the pastoral theme allows us to think about songs that echoes that theme. For example, in Romans 8, God as our Father and the Spirit guiding us are themes that loom large. We choose songs that echo the sermon and have a gospel shape – that tell the story.

Once we know where the sermon is heading, we lock in on the songs. We especially focus on the song that comes right after the sermon since it serves as a response and a reinforcement of what was preached.

A third layer we consider with song choices has to do with any songs that we’ve recently taught our faith family that we want to continue to learn or emphasize.

Audrie: We also don’t want all of the songs to be the same type of song – not all upbeat or not all slow. We don’t want them to all sound the same. We also ask whether or not the song is accessible to the congregation. Is it singable? Does it have good content?

Philip: And we think through how the songs tie into the sermon. Does anything need to be said to make the Worship Gathering more cohesive or to make things flow from one element to the next?

Matt: We have default settings for the order of a Worship Gathering – baptism, intercessory prayer, the sermon, and the Lord’s Supper. If the sermon suggests it, we set things up differently. For example, with a sermon on the resurrection, we would put baptism after the sermon to make the truth of the resurrection pop – where people could hear about it then see the truth through baptism. So our worship order is not set in stone. Based on the sermon, our team will make suggestions, but the preaching pastor for that Sunday makes the final call regarding the order.

Audrie: We also communicate with other ministries such as when Global is commissioning people.

Matt: And we try to look in advance to see what goes together, what themes are coming up. So we moved Kids Choir to sing on April 12 since that is a Local Emphasis Sunday and since the New Parent Commissioning is that day.

BH Women: Outside of planning for Sunday’s Worship Gatherings, what all does the Worship Team do?

Audrie: Well Matt is preaching these days…

Philip: There’s the logistical side of things. And Audrie handles the finances now for our team.

Student Ministry has its own Worship Team with student musicians who lead every Wednesday and on one Sunday a month. We incorporate a few adults on Sunday, but it’s mostly student led.

We help these students think through the same processes – gospel shape, Scripture to read, etc. It’s a microcosm of what we do as a Worship Team.

(L to R) Matt Mason, Audrie Appel, Philip Townsend

(L to R) Matt Mason, Audrie Appel, Philip Townsend

The students arrive at 3:30pm on Wednesdays, and we have Bible study for an hour before they practice. This is time to invest in them on a deeper level. They’re absorbing and are much farther along than I was at their age.

Matt: Philip takes point in this.

Philip: And Audrie works with the vocalists and their ability to harmonize. And Audrie also works with the Kids Choir.

We also write Bible verse memory songs for Children’s Ministry that go along with what verses they are already memorizing.

Matt: It reinforces what those guys [Kids Team] are doing. So in our meetings, we’ll ask, “Who wants to write the Romans song?” or “Who wants to write the John 14 song?”

Audrie: Working on lyrics are another thing. And auditions for vocal team and for the band.

And we have 3D Nights where all of our worship volunteers gather together. This time together looks different each 3D Night.

Matt: The 3 D’s stand for doctrine, discipleship, and devotion.

  • Doctrine – We sing about God all the time, but we also want to study more about Him. So we might look at a particular doctrine such as an attribute of God.
  • Discipleship – We fellowship together, bear one another’s burdens, pray together, and ask how we can better serve the church.
  • Devotion – We sing together and pray together.

Philip: It’s the one time that all of our Worship volunteers gather together.

Audrie: This past year, we had a time of training for our vocalists.

Philip: And we’ll do band camp in the summer for a week with our students. We have them do push-ups and sit-ups everyday… We teach them the musical aspect of leading in worship, which is important especially for the incoming sixth and seventh graders.

Audrie: We have a new normal now that Matt is preaching regularly.

Matt: The routine for us during the week is:

  • Worship Staff Meeting on Mondays – We pray a psalm together, review Sunday’s Worship Gathering, track areas or themes we’re emphasizing, discuss things to reinforce, etc., and we read through a book together. [They’re currently reading Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor.]
  • Worship Planning Meeting on Tuesdays – This is with the preaching pastor, the Communications Team, and anyone else who is involved in that Sunday’s gatherings.
  • Songwriting Meeting on Tuesdays – We carve out time to write songs and work on upcoming projects.

BH Women: What resources have been influential for helping you think through Worship Ministry at Brook Hills?

Audrie: Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin. We’ve gone through that together as a Worship Team. And we’ve been to a Sovereign Grace Worship Conference together.

Matt: John Frame’s Worship in Spirit and Truth

Philip: Doxology and Theology – and not just because Matt has a chapter in it… [Chapter 13 on “The Worship Leader and Singing” in case you’re curious.]

And Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges

Audrie: We’ve read Fellowship with God by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Philip: And Kevin DeYoung’s Why We Love the Church

BH Women: Are there any upcoming projects or events that Worship Team is working on?

Matt: Adult Choir this Sunday, Kids Choir on April 12, Easter, Secret Church, auditions in the summer for vocalists, and two songs at the Look at the Book Conference.

Philip: We’re wanting to record the memory verse songs for Children’s Ministry.

Matt: Our rotation for vocalists and the band starts or resets in August. We ask our vocal team and our band members to serve for a year – this is not applicable to choir, though.

Choir members are not deacons, but vocalists and band members are.

BH Women: Is there anything that y’all would like for the church to know about the Worship Team or about Worship Ministry at Brook Hills?

Audrie: I’m not sure how many people are aware of the projects we’ve released, like Death to Life.

[To see all of the albums put out by Brook Hills Music, click here]

Philip: And we are going to continue to write music.

Matt: We’re looking for more people to get involved to serve with us.

Philip: It’s not difficult to audition. Feel the freedom to contact us and to set something up.

Audrie: If you’re wanting to be a vocalist or in the choir, contact me (aappel@brookhills.org). If you’re wanting to be in the band, contact Philip (ptownsend@brookhills.org).

Matt: The choir practices for the three weeks leading up to when they sing in the Worship Gatherings, and they sing every six weeks, except in the summer.

Philip: Anyone can do it [sing in the choir]. There are no auditions for that.

Matt: And you do it when you can. Unlike vocalists or the band, choir is not a one year commitment. If you can join us on the Sunday the choir is singing, then just come to practice. We even have rehearsal tracks that you can use if you can’t come to all of the rehearsals.

To keep up with Worship Ministry, you can also follow them on Twitter (@BHWorship) and like them on Facebook (Brook Hills Worship).

You May Not Have a Preschooler, But…

If you don’t have a preschooler, you may not know what happens in our church’s Preschool Ministry, and the same goes for all of the other ministries in our church. So over the next couple of weeks, we will spotlight different ministries at Brook Hills to inform as well as to celebrate how God is working within our faith family.

Our Preschool Ministry Team (L-R): Diona Hightower, Mary Cannon, Kimberly DeLoach, Amy Throckmorton, and Robin Cheatham.

Our Preschool Ministry Team (L-R): Diona Hightower, Mary Cannon, Kimberly DeLoach, Amy Throckmorton, and Robin Cheatham.

For today’s post, I sat down with Diona Hightower, Robin Cheatham, Amy Throckmorton, and Kimberly DeLoach from our Preschool Team, and did a short Q&A with them about Brook Hills’ Preschool Ministry.

BH Women: If someone does not have a preschooler, what would you want them to know about Preschool Ministry?

Robin: We point preschoolers to Jesus and the world.

Kimberly: Jesus is in the nursery.

Diona: It’s not just babysitting. We are impacting the next generation. Preschool ministry is family ministry.

BH Women: How many preschoolers do y’all see each week?

Diona: In a week, we see about 600 preschoolers on our campus.

Amy: On Sundays, it’s between 450-500.

BH Women: What does a Sunday morning or a Wednesday night look like in Preschool?

Diona: Foundational, God-centered Bible study; large group worship time with praise and worship; prayer; Scripture memory.

Robin: Building trusting relationships with the children and their parents.

Kimberly: In the nursery, it’s providing babies with consistent faces and creating a sense of safety and security. The nursery, in particular, is a huge opportunity for influence. Just think of how many things you learned to do by the time that you were two that you continue to do today and don’t even remember learning.

Check out this cute video of one of our 4 year olds quoting a psalm she had memorized!

BH Women: Tell me more about the focus on missions within Preschool Ministry.

Robin: We have a monthly missions focus where we learn about a particular missionary or mission organization around the world. We particularly focus on our Brook Hills missionaries, but we have recently begun expanding a little bit to focus on our ministry partners such as Compassion International and Neverthirst.

For example, this month we are focusing on Samaritan’s Purse and helping the kids to understand that they do more than just the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Week one, we explained to them about what Samaritan’s Purse does. For week two, we are explaining to them the good news that Samaritan’s Purse shares through the booklets that they put in the shoeboxes and through the follow up that they do in the months after the shoe box giveaways. On the third week, Angelia Stewart, one of our church members, will share with the group about what it looked like to do some of this follow-up (she recently got back from a short-term trip with Samaritan’s Purse).

We also have the kids come up after each mission presentation and pray for the missionaries and for the people. And in the past, we have Skyped in the missionaries we focused on that month or have them come share with the preschoolers in person if they’re home on furlough.

BH Women: Kimberly, tell us more about Brook Hills’ ministry to new and expecting parents?

Kimberly: On April 12, we will have a New Parent Commissioning in all three Worship Gatherings, and this will be something that we will do twice a year. For the one in April, we have over forty families who will be participating, and each of these families took part in a required First Steps class during this month.

BH Women: So if someone just found out that they are expecting a child (whether through natural birth or adoption)…

Kimberly: They need to notify me (kdeloach@brookhills.org),and I’ll add them to our Expecting Board on the Preschool Hall. We will also send them a packet and small gift when their child comes home,

You can find the Expecting Parents Board in the Creation Care part of the Preschool Hall (immediately to the right when you're coming from the Main Lobby). The fruit on the trees displays the new arrivals, and the parts in between feature the due dates and parents' names.

You can find the Expecting Parents Board in the Creation Care part of the Preschool Hall (immediately to the right when you’re coming from the Main Lobby). The fruit on the trees displays the new arrivals, and the parts in between feature the due dates and parents’ names.

and we’ll update the Expecting Board. Their packet will explain how the nursery operates and will include information on the Early Learning Center at the church, Mom Time small groups, and information about New Parent Commissioning. We also have a Facebook group for new and expecting moms that has been a huge resource and place for these women to ask questions and to share.

BH Women: How can our faith family be specifically praying for Preschool Ministry?

Robin: Pray for God to send those whom He is calling to serve in Preschool Ministry.

Kimberly: Pray for leaders who are passionate about preschoolers and walking alongside new parents. Pray for a Titus 2 mindset, especially among the empty nesters and older people in our church who have been there and done that when it comes to parenting. You have such an opportunity to minister to young moms. You do have something to offer – what you’ve learned as a parent!

If you would like to serve or learn more about Preschool Ministry, contact Diona Hightower at dhightower@brookhills.org or Amy Throckmorton at athrockmorton@brookhills.org. In particular, there are serving opportunities available for newborns on Sunday mornings and for 4’s and 5’s on Wednesday nights.

Straight Talk Event

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“Who am I, and where am I going?”
Ladies, have you ever asked these questions? Are you trying to make decisions about the future and just want some clarity?

Join us as an intergenerational panel of women from Brook Hills share and host a Q&A on the topics of identity and discerning the future.

Tuesday, April 14
7:00pm
Student Building
For Single Women in Their 20s/30s

Preparing Your Family for Easter

This past weekend, I had a conversation with one of my small group girls who grew up in a family with very nominal beliefs, but this year as a first year seminarian, she got invited to five different Ash Wednesday services. But, as she confessed, she had no idea what Ash Wednesday was, so she went to Google and was so overwhelmed about what she read and what to expect that she didn’t go to any of them.

I grew up in a family with a parent in ministry, but our church never practiced Lent, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, or even Good unnamedFriday. That was for the one little Catholic church in town. We had an Easter Sunday service (maybe a sunrise service), everyone wore their new Easter clothes, and we ate a scrumptious meal after church with an Easter egg hunt that afternoon. Oh, and don’t forget the lavish Passion Play production that the church put on for Easter weekend.

We all have different backgrounds and different levels of exposure when it comes to Easter, and you can read the previous blog posts we have done (see below), but this year, I want to let you know about an exciting new resource that you can use for yourself or, if you have kids, with your family to help them know about “the greatest rescue mission in history.”

Scott James, one of our Elders at Brook Hills, wrote this two-week devotional that families can beginning on Palm Sunday (the Sunday before Easter) through the week after Easter. It looks at the overall message of redemption, and it helps parents unpack the importance

This past Sunday, Brook Hills Kids had a fun time celebrating the release of this book with Scott, who serves as a fourth grade Faith Trainer at the church.

This past Sunday, Brook Hills Kids had a fun time celebrating the release of this book with Scott, who serves as a fourth grade Faith Trainer at the church. Here, John Tice (left), our Children’s Minister, presents Scott (right) with a cake that our kids and leaders enjoyed on Sunday.

of Jesus’ death and resurrection and how these truths affect our lives today. You can simply read the devotional as a family, and the book also provides suggestions for family activities that parents can use with kids of all ages. If you’re new to the concept of family worship or family devotions, this would be a great resource to start, for each devotion only takes about ten minutes to do, and it reminds our kids and ourselves that Easter is more than just “bunnies and baskets.”

If you would like to purchase a copy of Mission Accomplished, you can do so for $10 at the Brookstore at our church, or you can order a copy from this site.

If you want to learn more about Easter itself and about how to cultivate family traditions that point to Christ during Easter season, read the following BH Women posts: