LifeSpring Church began worshiping together in September 2005 and is now 10 years old. We are looking for another person to join our current pastor, Bruce Logue, as we work to grow in our devotion to God, service to our community, and sharing of the Good News. Our desire is for the individual that joins us to become the lead pastor after a year of getting feet wet, connecting with our community, and becoming immersed in LifeSpring’s church life. For more information or to arrange a phone call, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mission of LifeSpring:
- To reach Millennials in Merced. High hanging fruit. Many have given up on church while at the same time having deep spiritual hungers which they attempt to but can’t fill.
- To eventually be able to expand our reach to the UC. This campus is slated to be 10k students in 2020 and eventually 25k. The UC currently has something near 65% minority students, and its graduates go everywhere.
- To have a vocation in Merced for which we are known and which draws people to us/it.
- To be able to grow to the point of splitting into other LifeSprings within Merced and then to other communities.
- High Speed Rail will expand the pull of Merced. More people will move to Merced for its cheaper property because HSR will collapse the commuting distances to the Bay Area, etc. http://www.hsr.ca.gov/
- More and more companies are finding Merced an attractive place to come due to the UC and also the $1 Billion construction project now underway. We have a Joie De Vivre hotel coming to town. Also a big upgrade to our mall. Etc. See the Steve Carrigan article below.
- Merced is in the bullseye of the state. If you drew an X on a state map, the legs going from corner to corner, Merced would be virtually in the hinge of the legs. It is 45 minutes from the Fresno Airport and within 2 hours of 4 major international airports. 80 miles from Yosemite. 120 miles from the coast.
- California needs healthy church plants. In California we have 12% of the national population. This is a great place to multiply one’s effort.
- UC-Merced is making a huge impact on Merced and offers many opportunities for the future growth of LifeSpring. A recent editorial by Chancellor Dorothy Leland explains the economic impacts of UCM. www.chancellor.ucmerced.edu. and www.ucmerced.edu/news-tag/economic The UC is making big impacts with its solar research, stem cell research, and other extraordinary work. One of its professors was featured in a National Geographic article about cave dwellers in Peru and recently in a Nova program about cave dwellers in the Himalaya Mountains. 2020 is an important year for the UC. That year will be the target for the doubling of the current campus footprint, and the doors will open for 10k students, up from its current capacity of 6k.
- Merced City Manager, Steve Carrigan, wrote a December 31 editorial outlining the accomplishments of our city in 2016 and the new development that is coming in 2017 and beyond. It’s an incredible article and can be accessed below for the whole article.
- In short, Merced is poised for awesome growth, and LifeSpring wants to be invested in the opportunities that will come as a result. The Central Valley of California is not sexy compared to San Francisco or even Sacramento, but it, and particularly Merced, is rising to the new opportunities. The Central Valley is a magnet, attracting people who want to escape the high prices, scarce and expensive property, and frenetic pace of the Bay Area.
- LSC has done all the hard work of setup, 501.c.3, finding a meeting place, becoming well known in the community, and developing a weekly rhythm.
- It does not have denominational, congregational baggage due to its young age as well as the lack of denominational experience of many LifeSpringers.
- LSC has a core of people who are committed to Merced. They are not people who, came with the pastor to establish LifeSpring.
- We expected we would use the template given to us by Stadia, but experience and context proved that the template would not work. Factors included the fact that Merced was/is, 1) among, if not the, youngest demographic in the U.S., 2) currently a very poor community, changing as the UC matures, and 3) not experiencing similar growth patterns as wealthier cities. Perhaps the biggest impact we have negotiated was the economic downturn of 2008. We do not consider these to be negative factors, but rather challenges which made LifeSpring tougher, nimbler, and more courageous.
How we’re building spiritual maturity at LifeSpring.
LifeSpring has a built-in weakness or difficulty – one leader/pastor/staffer trying to mentor a whole group in the matters of Jesus and discipleship. So, ironically, the way I have chosen to do that is through selective teaching and leadership, eg, preaching and teaching in whole group assemblies. (Since we are small right now, this is possible.) The result is that LifeSpringers realize and accept that they each have a responsibility for the well being of our community.
This strategy has occurred in three ways:
- We have given LifeSpringers “jobs” and turned them loose to succeed or fail without a negative reaction from me. So, for example, “Amanda” is our “LifeSpring five-minute break” coordinator. She arranges for the food and the volunteers for our coffee break in the middle of worship service. It runs smoothly because of what she has learned.
- Spiritual growth has occurred as LifeSpringers volunteer to give the “table talk,” the meditation before the Lord’s Supper. We watched personal spiritual awareness grow as they give these short talks over time. Everyone at LifeSpring will tell you that this is their favorite part of worship, hearing now Jesus and his death/resurrection inform their lives and give them hope. By speaking out loud about their faith they grow. My part in this was to construct a set of simple guidelines to keep the table talks on target. See below for the guidelines.
- Preaching and small group are important pieces of the strategy for spiritual growth at LifeSpring. On both of these occasions you will hear a) references to contemporary issues and how the text being considered speaks to those issues, b) intentional references to how texts were studied, what their textual context is and how that connects to its meaning, etc., and c) a measured “diet” for LifeSpringers to make sure they are getting both breadth and depth of understanding of scripture.
I have been generally pleased with the outcome of this as I observe LifeSpringers talking about the impact of passages on their lives, talking to and praying for each other about spiritual matters, and expressing desires that reflect a greater maturity.
What kind of person do we need?
- Someone who is extroverted and hospitable. One of the things we do at LifeSpring is called the Second Sunday Social. It is a regularly scheduled social event that keeps LifeSpringers interacting with each other socially in a frequent way. It works. Whoever we recruit to come here must be someone who empowers, reminds of, and models this behavior. We are also intentional about connecting to our City.
- Someone who is well-read and theologically mature. Not a Calvinist.
- Someone who is creative and able to enlarge the work that we are doing in Merced.
- Someone with a long range view of growth. In the words of Eugene Peterson – A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.
- Churches of Christ are training the best prepared people, are the most progressive, and are asking the best questions of the Bible. LifeSpring needs someone who can patiently teach and empower our folks to think well, commit to discipleship, and lead them to share the gospel with their friends in socially sensitive ways.
What I am/have been reading:
It has been my interest and passion to read things of contemporary interest by well qualified theologians and writers. It is my deep conviction that a person who wants to lead and teach a community of Christians must be well read. Otherwise he begins to taste like re-brewed coffee grounds, weak and full of after taste. Here is a short list of things I have or will complete:
Money and Possessions by Walter Brueggemann
The Day the Revolution Began by N. T. Wright
The Sin of Certainty and The Bible Tells Me So by Peter Enns. (BTW, Enns is going to be a presenter at the Pepperdine Bible Lectures.
A Community Called Atonement by Scot McKnight
The President’s Devotional by Joshua Bubois
The Shaping of Things to Come by Frost and Hirsch
Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood
Waiting for Gospel by Douglas John Hall
God at War by Greg Boyd (Boyd makes the important point that it is impossible for God to “allow” evil to occur while at the same time engaged all-out war against it.)
There are two stories that help to illustrate and explain our strategy. Both stories come from listening to conversation in Starbucks.
- The first was a conversation I had with a barista. “How was your weekend,” I asked. She said, “It was okay. However, I had to work on Sunday and I hate working on Sunday.” “Why,” I inquired. “The people who come in on Sunday are so rude.” Within a one mile radius are two large evangelical churches and the largest Catholic church in town. She was making a comment about how some “christians” treat the baristas.
- The second was a conversation with a good friend of mine. He is an atheist, a Ph.D. in psychology from our UC-Merced, and now an instructor there. “I was just acosted by a woman while I was waiting on my coffee,” he said. “She asked me if I had accepted Jesus as my personal savior. I held my tongue and didn’t smart off,” he said.
- Both conversations highlight the challenges we have in a university town to show the relevance and truth of Jesus while attempting to go under or around the prevailing notions about who christians are and how they will treat you. It’s difficult but not impossible.
City Manager Article:
2016: It was a very good year for Merced
By Steve Carrigan, Merced City Manager
Congratulations Merced, we’ve had an awesome year.
Drive around and you can see it. Get close enough and you can smell it. And it’s hard not to hear it.
The evidence is all over Merced, from the hammers pounding in Bellevue Ranch to the cement trucks downtown.
Merced is building, Merced is growing, Merced is rebounding. The recession is behind us, along with all of the bad things that came with it.
The city has taken major steps forward, and our local economy is rolling along. Personal income in the city is up 13.7 percent and the unemployment rate dropped to 8 percent – a huge improvement from the days when our jobless rate was 22 percent.
We have 2,307 building permits pulled this year, the fourth highest since 2004. We have five national homebuilders investing in Merced and more than 200 permits issued for single-family homes.
City Hall is a conglomerate with a half-billion dollars in net assets, and we have been busy, too. We passed a $200 million budget. We held the first by-district elections for City Council to improve accessibility to our elected officials. We updated our zoning ordinance for the first time since 1964. (I, Bruce, was the chairman of the committee in charge of modifying the 50-year-old ordinance.) We approved a medical marijuana ordinance allowing four dispensaries. We opened a splash park at Stephen Leonard Park. We rolled out the Merced Connect smartphone app that puts residents directly in touch with City Hall. We have a new website to make it easier to find information.
We reached a revenue sharing agreement with Merced County that will let us annex new areas into the city. This will allow us to serve developing areas including along the Bellevue Corridor and Yosemite Avenue.
Downtown is booming and will continue to grow. The Mainzer Theatre is scheduled for renovation and work will begin next year to expand the historic El Capitan Hotel and turn it into a boutique hotel, attracting tourists heading to Yosemite along with business clients.
Downtown there’s a new Starbucks, Dickie’s Barbeque Pit and Les Schwab Tires, soon to be joined by a fitness center, and Rockin’ Jump, a family entertainment center. Also heading downtown is the California high-speed rail, and we are working to make sure it has the maximum positive impact on residents.
Elsewhere, the old bowling alley was leveled and in its place there will soon be a Steak ’n Shake, KFC and an Arco. Nearby a Marriott TownePlace Suites is being built. On the other end of Merced, we opened a Five Guys Burgers & Fries, Pizza Factory and Cozy Fox. In the pipeline we have the Merced Gateway Retail Center, the Merced Mall renovation, and the Bob Cat Diner, Quickly and EECU coming to the Promenade.
UC Merced has a $45 million administration building that is sprouting across from City Hall and soon to be home to 370 employees in a 67,000-square-foot office complex. UC Merced is a big partner in our economy with its 2020 Project that will grow the student body to 10,000 students and add 1 million square feet of classroom, office and other buildings at a cost of $1.3 billion. That is a lot of construction jobs in four years and a lot more jobs for faculty and staff.
While 2016 was a good year, 2017 presents some challenges. We had to put off doing some things during the recession. We have a 1970s-era computer system that needs to be replaced by 2020 for about $1 million. The Fire Department has a ladder truck that is overdue to be replaced at a cost of $1.4 million.
Then there is water. The state is telling us to regulate our groundwater use at the same time it is threatening to take more of the surface water that recharges it. And if economic history holds true, we are due another recession in two to three years. We must prepare for that.
The 462 city employees worked hard to help make all these positive things happen, but they didn’t do it alone. It took the people who work here, who study here and the 83,962 people who are proud to call Merced home to make it happen. Good job, folks, and Happy New Year!
Table Talk Guidelines:
The following guidelines are intended to help those giving Table Talks to understand the purpose of the Table Talk and to organize their thoughts along that purpose. Table Talks MUST be Christ-centered, beginning and ending with Christ.
- It should be only 3-5 minutes long and have only one idea or subject. You will lose your listeners if you attempt to say too much.
- Jesus should be the direct subject of the TT. Table Talks that are primarily about self are misdirected and inappropriate. Please pay special attention to this. IF what you are saying distracts listeners from the real purpose of communion, then you have misdirected them. Don’t make statements or express ideas that are inappropriate, irrelevant, or apt to stir controversy. Such ideas are generally alienating to listeners, and cause them to quit thinking about Jesus. Let Jesus shine forth from your comments.
- Table Talks can start with some personal experience followed by how the Lord’s Supper helps you understand or manage that experience. But there must be a very direct connection. Illustrations should be brief. Make the point you want to make in as few words as possible. Don’t just tack on a “now eat the meal with me” reference to make it seem like it points to Jesus.
- Avoid prefacing your talk with something like, “I didn’t have a clue what I was going to say until five minutes ago.” It sends the message that Table Talk is a low priority for you. Go straight to your talk. “I’ve been thinking a lot about….” or “This happened to me yesterday….” or “I read something recently that reminded me of….” Etc. You only have 3-5 minutes so don’t waste time with unnecessary preliminaries.
- If you need ideas for your table talk, there are good resources on the web. For example, http://communionmeds.blogspot.com and http://www.michaelhanegan.com/table.
Remember that the Lord’s Supper meditation is meant to be personal, but its primary purpose is to call to mind how Christ informs your life. The best thing about a LifeSpring Table Talk is that it shows how your life and relationship with God is aided by the meal we call The Lord’s Supper. It inspires the rest of us.
A brief example might be helpful.
In the Sally Fields movie “Places in the Heart” the movie ends with a communion scene which looks much like what we do at LifeSpring. When you begin to look at the faces of people sitting in the pews, you realize that many of them died earlier in the movie. In this powerful scene, we are reminded that that Christ’s death, commemorated in the Lord’s Supper, is eternal in its scope. When we eat it this morning, we are also doing so with people that came before us and will come after us. When we eat it we are being reminded of God’s most enduring and powerful work. Please share it with me now.
Or this one…..
Last week I had a conversation with someone who wanted to wall-out of his life everyone who irritates him or who is, in his view, uneducated and unqualified. The conversation gave me a chill because it was calling for a world that met his standards for intelligence and acceptability. In the cross we see modeled a world in which the weak, discarded, and broken are valued. As we eat the meal this morning, think about how delicious the bread and wine are for those looking for place and acceptance.