Gathering

Fostering Kingdom Work

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The Xenia gathering has cultivated a wonderful Kingdom Perspective within the community; they want to use every opportunity to step out in faith and use what they have to foster Kingdom work.

apex anthologies

When I asked Jay Jackson to talk to me about the Xenia Gathering he quickly laughed and said, “that’s a broad question.” I was attempting to think of a way to narrow it down when he looked at me and dove in to his answer.

“I think the most exciting thing about the Xenia gathering are the people opportunities that are created by having a presence in the community.”

Once a month Jay has the opportunity to meet with city officials in Xenia; at their most recent meeting the city manager opened up about where he was at in this particular season.

“It afforded us the opportunity to rally around him, pray for him, and encourage him,” says Jay. He continues on saying that these moments, these openings in building relationships allow the time and space to ask, ‘how can we love on our city and the people within it?’

He has also had the chance to see others within the Xenia campus being called to step forward and lead within the community.

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

One of the house churches within Xenia was going to dissolve, but a young, single man, Kyle Fox, felt led to step forward and go through Shepard training.

“He began to feel burdened to lead an outreach for the house church,” explains Jay.

He felt called to One Bistro, in Miamisburg, and began casting a vision to have a second location. Together with his house church, they were able to raise money to begin looking for a facility to give One Bistro a second home in Xenia.

“It’s an incredible thing to see people step out in faith and obedience to bring the community closer together.”

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

Jay has also been able to really get to know people’s stories and their hearts for ministry through the Xenia gathering. Shortly after the Move Conference Jay and his wife were driving back to Xenia to help clean up after the gathering and stopped at a gas station on the way.

“I saw a woman who was incredibly distraught sitting on the curb with her young son. My wife was able to talk to her and hear her story.”

She was owed money, homeless and living in a shelter nearby; she needed to find alternate housing within two weeks. They drove her back to the shelter that night and returned a few days later.

“She was waiting for a voucher for housing before she could leave the shelter so we helped pay for her and her son to stay in a hotel room until permanent housing was available.”

It was then that Jay sent out emails to the network of house churches and became overwhelmed by the response.

“I shared a need within our community and our house churches stepped up and willingly met the needs of this woman and her son.”

Since then, Amanda has been attending the gathering and the house churches that rallied around her are continually praying that the Lord would continue to create opportunities to share with her and love on her.

“Having the gathering in Xenia brings attention to these situations and allows opportunities to build relationships and breathe into people’s lives,” says Jay.

Another large way that the Xenia campus is connecting with their community is through the large percentage of Cedarville students attending both the gathering and various house churches. Jay and his house church really like to focus on feeding into the Cedarville students a part of his house church.

“The dedication on the students to attend house church regularly and dig into community has been phenomenal,” Jay says. “We have seen some of these kids come in as freshman and we are still fostering relationships that are strong and Gospel-centered years later.”

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

The Xenia gathering has cultivated a wonderful Kingdom Perspective within the community; they want to use every opportunity to step out in faith and use what they have to foster Kingdom work. In taking that stance they have found that, because they were faithful and God bestows His blessings, the church has grown.

 

 

Author: Steph Duff

Photographer: Sarah Maigur

 

 

 

 

Living Water

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...Why is baptism such a big deal?  Simply stated, it’s because it’s not about the person being baptized -- it’s about Jesus.

It was an experiment.  Apex rescheduled Baptism Sunday from Easter weekend to the Sunday following Easter this year.

The idea was to see if the new schedule would increase the opportunity to serve people interested in being baptized. Ben Riggs, the staff member organizing the event, held four informational classes throughout the week leading up to Baptism Sunday for those who had expressed interest. He said Apex wanted to help folks consider their interest in baptism, the Bible’s teaching, and whether those two things connected in a less rushed context.

Kristin Eilerman was one of the 24 interested members.  She found the hour-long class convenient and easy to get to.  “I have been interested in getting baptized for the last several months, but was a little nervous to take the first step,” she admitted.  “I felt convicted by God through different services I attended, sermons I listened to, and prayed about it.  I knew it was a big sign when Apex announced the baptism weekend and classes.  Knowing that I could learn more prior to being baptized and that there was a special event planned definitely helped me feel more confident in taking that step!”

What exactly is Baptism and why is it a big deal?

According to the Apex Community Church’s official position paper on baptism, baptism is “an ordinance given to the Church to obey as an expression of faith in Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior.”  What’s an ordinance?  An ordinance is “an action that Jesus has ordered his church to observe in obedience.  Baptism is a means of reminding Christians what Christ has done for them.”

In order for a believer to ultimately grasp the biblical meaning of baptism, he or she must begin with a clear understanding of the gospel.

Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” Matthew 28:18-20

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

During his class Ben clarified that “baptism is a sign that the gospel has become good news for the person being baptized. The disciples’ job was to Go and make this good news known.  Baptism was a symbolic expression; a display that this person involved here now knows God.  Saying to the world, I was once living in idolatry, I have repented, and I now know the one true God.”

Okay, but why is baptism such a big deal?  Simply stated, it’s because it’s not about the person being baptized -- it’s about Jesus.

“When you are baptized and brought under the water, you are putting on display that you have died to sin -- that you have died with Christ and have been buried with him.  When you come out of that water, you are putting on display that you have a new life in Christ and that you too will be raised from the dead. God has the final say on everything; God has anything but given up.  God in his sovereign plan through Christ is going to bring this world back to the fullness of life,” Ben said.

“Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  Romans 6:4

Ben reminded the class there are many countries today that would never tolerate people holding a class on baptism.  “During the time of the early church, baptism was considered an act of treason.  Essentially saying to the Roman government, ‘You are not the highest authority in our lives any longer, Caesar. It is Jesus.’ Baptism essentially put a target on your back.”

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20

Ben would say to everyone that baptism is appropriate when Jesus becomes good news to you.  “Jesus is more than a teacher who’s given us advice.  He’s the King who’s brought us the Kingdom by grace.  If that’s not good news, baptism is only you getting wet.  We celebrate baptism with others publicly because Jesus is public truth.  You can’t privatize Jesus.  Faith in the gospel is personal, but it’s not private.  By God’s grace every baptism will continue to be a foretaste of what’s coming our way: a new creation to celebrate Jesus with our whole lives, in a whole community, in a whole world.”

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

apex anthologies

“Apex desires to faithfully present Christ and His command for baptism to allow each person to make an informed decision on whether baptism is appropriate or not.”  Ben Riggs communicates to everyone interested in being baptized that prior to baptism, they must give honest consideration that to what baptism means: “I’ve died with Him, was buried with Him, now alive with Him, to live for Him.”

Did the new schedule experiment work?  Can you really measure success based on numbers when it comes to baptism?  I doubt it; it’s about Jesus changing hearts and lives.  Will Apex keep the same schedule next year?  I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Kristin Eilerman listened intently to Ben’s teaching.  When I asked her what she gleaned from the class, she felt she better understood “the importance of baptism, some Scripture-based teaching about it, and why it’s an important step for us to take in our faith.  It’s a public declaration and commitment to Christ.”

 

Kristin was one of the believers baptized in front of the Apex community at the 11:00 service on Sunday morning.  And who wouldn’t consider that an extraordinary success?  Praise God!  Amen!

 

 

Author: Carrie Kempisty

Photographer: Hilary Tebo

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