"Elements" of Spiritual Growth
Elements is a series at Concordia which is a set of groups held over the course of the program year, intended for helping people to grow in faith towards God and love for one another. Just like the elements carbon and oxygen are "building blocks" of physical matter, so these are "building blocks" of our spiritual growth here at Concordia.
2016-2017 Elements Schedule
Our 2016/2017 Elements plan is as follows. If two dates are shown, that reflects Tues/Wed dates. We offer sessions on both Tuseday afternoons from 3:30-5pm and Wednesdays from 7:00-8:30pm. A minimum of 5 participants is needed to hold one or the other. (So if we have 5 sign up on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we'll run them both days.)
- First Communion: Nov. 1/2 through Nov. 15/16, 2016
- Intro to the Bible: begins January 17/18, 2017
- Our Lutheran Identity: begins May 2, 2017 (Tuesdays only; you can still register for Tuesdays - we'll get you caught up!)
6 sessions over 8 weeks
The church’s mission, given by Jesus Himself, is to make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20). We do that with His own authority, baptizing people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and teaching them to hold dear all that He commanded. The process of discipleship begins when God creates faith in a person through the hearing of His Word (Romans 10:17) and is a life-long process for all Christians.
As we consider discipleship in our context at Concordia, we know that we need to focus our efforts to allow as many people as possible to grow in their faith towards God and in love for each other. With our limited resources, we strive to make the best of what we have. Therefore, Elements is a series of groups/sessions/classes (call them what you will) that is open to people of all situations, ages, and backgrounds. These will be foundational “elements” of our congregational life together at Concordia, allowing people to dig into God’s Word, to connect with one another, and to be better equipped to live the Christian life worthy of the calling they have received from God (Ephesians 4:1-7).
We will call these groups/sessions/classes “Elements”. Just as physical elements like oxygen and carbon are the “building blocks” of earthly matter, so these are some of the “building blocks” of our spiritual life together as a congregation. They will be groups that will meet weekly for a variety of things: digging into God’s Word, developing fellowship with others at Concordia, and getting better equipped to live our Christian lives, both individually and together as a congregation. They will generally happen over the course of a “program year” (September through June), coming alongside our gathering together for worship to strengthen our faith and love.
All Elements are open to all people, with special encouragement to be involved in certain modules depending on one’s own context. A few examples:
- A family transfers in from another LCC congregation. While all of the Elements would all be beneficial, we they’d be especially encouraged to be a part of Element 5 (Life at Concordia).
- An adult comes to faith in Jesus. After being baptized, we would want him or her to be a part of all 5 Elements over the course of 2-3 years.
- A child grows up at Concordia, heads into Grade 6, and it’s time for some further development after being involved in Agape Kids, or our school and/or preschool, or other children/family ministry. He/she would go through Elements 1-5 in 2-3 years. (This process is comparable to a more traditional Confirmation program.) We encourage parents of youth to go through the process with their children.
- A long-time member at Concordia wants to continue to grow and connect with others. He/she would be encouraged to get involved in any of the Elements for review, encouragement, and connecting with new people.
"Element Zero": Worship
While not formally an “element” in the sense of a short-term weekly group, this is the core activity of the church: to gather together in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in order to receive God’s gifts (hearing God's Word, receiving the Sacraments) and to respond in faith with thanksgiving and praise through songs, prayer, and more.
We meet each week on Sunday mornings, and at times, during the week (Advent in Nov/Dec, Lent in the spring) for worship in a variety of styles and expressions. It is all for the purpose of being strengthened in faith through the ways that God has chosen to work (through the proclamation of His Word and the Sacraments of Baptism and Communion), and for building one another up as we meet together.
We worship at 9:00am and 11:00am on Sunday mornings. All are invited!
Element 1: First Communion
Holy Communion is one of the Sacraments, and is a distinguishing mark of the Christian church. Christians are invited to receive this beautiful Sacrament in a worthy way, that is, by being able to examine themselves and their confession of faith (1 Corinthians 11:27-29), to understand that the person is “truly worthy and well prepared who believes these words: ‘for you’ and ‘for the forgiveness of sins.’ On the other hand, he who does not believe these words, or doubts them, is unworthy and unprepared, for the words ‘for you’ require truly believing hearts.” (from Luther’s Small Catechism).
This first Element is a 3-week session especially intended for those who have previously not communed with us at Concordia: baptized youth who are about ages 11+ and other Christians having a non-Lutheran faith background which does not share our understanding of this Sacrament. Anyone who would like a time to review, refresh, and deepen their understanding of Holy Communion is invited to join as well.
Element 2: Intro to the Bible
The Bible is God’s self-revelation to the world which records the beautiful story of God’s redemptive work throughout history, culminating in the person and work of Jesus.
This Element is an 8-week introduction to the Bible: what it is, what it says, how it’s put together, etc. It gives an overview of the contents and major themes of the Bible, and assumes no prior knowledge. Whether you’re a brand-new Christian or a long-time member of Concordia, this Element will introduce (or re-introduce) you to the story of an all-powerful God who loves His people with an everlasting love.
Element 3: Bible, Beyond the Basics
God’s Word is a vast treasure. We can’t even begin to hope to exhaust its riches even with a lifetime of reading, experience, and study. This Element builds on Element 2, digging deeper into the story of Scripture and into its major themes, helping you to better understand and appreciate the richness of the Bible. We’ll spend 8-10 weeks in this Element unpacking more of God’s wonderful self-revelation throughout history.
Element 4: Our Lutheran Identity
“Lutheran” is a bit of a strange word. It describes the tribe of Christians in agreement with a group of people led by Martin Luther, a man who lived about 500 years ago, as they sought to articulate the true, historic Christian teaching in the midst of a culture that had diminished that. We believe, teach, and confess that Christians are saved by grace and not by our own efforts (Ephesians 2:8-9), and we live life by that same grace (Ephesians 2:10, Philippians 2:12-13).
This Element is a 6-week look into what it means that we are a Lutheran church. In a sea of different Christian denominations and churches, what does it mean to be Lutheran? Why does it even matter? We’ll look at how we got to be where we are, why we are who we are, and what it means to be a Lutheran church in 21st-century North America. It is especially recommended for those who are joining us from a different Christian tradition or denomination.
Element 5: Life at Concordia
There is only one Christian Church. The “big C” Church is the entire group of Christians in all times and places. It includes those who lived a long time ago and are now part of the “church triumphant” in heaven, who are living right now, and who will ever live. We are all one Church.
At the same time, the “big C” Church finds expression in a very concrete way: groups of believers who gather in a local place and time called a “congregation” (or, “little c” church). Concordia Lutheran Church is a congregation, and just like any other congregation has a bit of a unique identity within the “big C” Church.
This Element will be a look at Concordia as a local congregation. What makes us “us”, and what does it mean to do life together as Concordia? What do we value? What do we work towards? We’ll look at our vision statement, which is a document that guides our life together here and helps shape the way that we will do the work God’s called us to do here in Penticton, BC in the 21st century. It's especially recommended for those who are new to Concordia as a church home, but certainly even long-time members will be welcome and will find it helpful.
We want to invite everyone at Concordia, whether new or old to our fellowship, to prayerfully consider getting plugged into one or more of these Elements. We pray it will be a great time of growth in your own spiritual life and in our community life together!
For more information, you can read through the full introduction package that we devepoed in 2013 (in PDF format, link below), or contact our office to talk with Pastor Michael. He'd love to talk with you more about what this is all about.