The Commons

The Commons

Updates from the Mission Formation Team

The Mission Formation Team (MFT) exists to guide the congregation in our missions involvement, both domestically and overseas. We desire to connect our members with opportunities for outreach in many places outside of our church campus, including Durham, Chapel Hill, and overseas. The MFT met on August 5 for a discussion that built on a greater commitment to local outreach than we have had before. We talked about a need to better know our long-standing partners. What are their needs,…

PCA General Assembly Updates

“The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly is the largest annual gathering of the denomination. Church leaders from across the country gather to discuss matters important to the life of the church, make decisions that affect the whole denomination and the progress of the gospel. This includes: Transacting ecclesiastical (church) business Deciding significant theological issues Reviewing work of the denomination’s ministries Receiving training through Seminars Connecting with resources in the Exhibit Hall Networking and fellowship during Food Functions Preparing…

Book Recommendation: Dementia: Living in the Memories of God

Having spent years learning the neurobiological underpinnings of dementia, I found myself frustrated when all my knowledge of pathophysiology didn’t really help my patients live better lives (not really) nor their families care for them well. Something was lacking. Seeking to bring theology to bear on the crippling condition of dementia, John Swinton writes in Dementia: Living in the Memories of God, “Dementia is a communal and relational condition that involves but cannot be defined by neurological decline.” Here I…

One Anothering in Women’s Ministry

Last spring, 27 or so women set off on the women’s spring retreat. I’m still humming off that weekend. In so many ways, we got moments of what CGS is about: the real Jesus, engaging real people, for the real world. From moments of hilarity (I mean belly-gut laughter!) that still make me giggle; to moments of honest heartache, wrestling with the stories Jesus has put us in; we got the opportunity to bring each other to Jesus, and Jesus…

A Journey Through the Psalms

Searing pain. Boundless jubilation. Crushing despondency. Desperate fear. Brutal revenge. Steadfast faith. The Psalms, perhaps more than any other section of Scripture, invoke a breathtaking range of emotion, from the soaring heights to the darkest depths of our earthbound existence. They are a window into the soul of humanity and the heart of God, ultimately proclaiming God’s lavish affection for his broken people. From the opening lines of the book – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the…

A Picture of Ministry for All Who Follow Jesus

I’ve loved the book of 1 Thessalonians for a long, long time. Along with Acts 20:17-38, 1 Thessalonians has been a vivid, multidimensional picture to me of what gospel ministry looks like. This picture is not one only for pastors and seminary trained folks. It is for every believer in Christ who follows Jesus in ministering to others – to friends, spouses, children, grandchildren, neighbors, work associates and others. I read 1 Thessalonians and see a picture of what God…

Pondering Vocation

Preaching on Luke 9:18-27, Chuck asked, “Who do you say Jesus is?” We may struggle to discern our calling in life, but how we live is bound to our answer to that question, the same question Jesus posed to his disciples and which Peter answered correctly (Luke 9:18-20). The Gospels portray a particular type of Messiah on a particular type of mission and we are called to follow him daily in his way. That’s the life for which we’re made.…

Updates from the Spiritual Formation Team

The Spiritual Formation Team (SFT) exists to strengthen and mature the Body of Christ at CGS, in Durham/Chapel Hill, and around the world. We oversee multiple educational initiatives spanning the entire lifespan, including Children’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, and Adult Ministries (Men, Women, Sunday morning classes, and Seminars). During our July meeting, we met with Amelia Cassar, our Director of Children’s Ministry. She highlighted 2 big points that we want to consider together: The Children’s Ministry hopes to prayerfully receive a…

Updates from the Community Formation Team

The Community Formation Team (CFT) exists to equip CGS to form healthy, gospel-rooted, redemptive relationships that flow into a beautiful, loving culture where we invite our friends and neighbors into our family. The CFT meets about once a month and oversees the Community Group ministry, the Party Planning Committee, the Young Adult Community, the College ministry, the Welcome Team, and the newly-implemented Neighborhood model for pastoral care. We spent this month focused on the Welcoming ministry. God extended great hospitality…

Reflecting on Vacation Bible School 2019

Why do we invest so much time, money, and effort into Vacation Bible School? Do our kids not learn those things every week in Sunday School and Children’s Worship? Do we actually do that much outreach? Is it worth it? When I first signed on to volunteer at VBS several years ago, I wasn’t asking any of these questions. I was simply a new member and a new mom looking for ways to get to know others in my church.…

What Is the Worth of Our Religion?

It is hard to read the book of James and not feel deep conviction over the ways we fall short of God’s glory. Even James himself said that we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2), and this truth really comes into focus when we read his letter. I often joke that if James was alive today and simply read his letter during the sermon time, many churches would accuse him of not being Gospel-centered enough. How does this imperative-driven…

Rescue, Fulfillment, and Freedom

The Old Testament can be intimidating. Unpronounceable names. Long lists of places. Hundreds of laws. Sometimes confusing stories. Prophets. Priests. Kings. An angry God? In the history of the Church, some wanted to throw out the Old Testament because it didn’t seem to depict the same loving God of the Gospels and the rest of the New Testament. Do we treat the Old Testament, at least functionally, the same way? How can we understand it? Where do we even begin?…

Vacation Bible School and Childhood Wonder

Vacation Bible School at CGS hits me with fresh joy and grace every year. I wasn’t raised in the church, but I did have some experience in one–the church where I attended VBS nearly every summer of my childhood. I recall with clarity the skits, songs (some of which I can still sing), crafts, and snacks. I remember being intrigued by the teenage volunteers’ vibrant faith, how they spoke of Jesus in ways that seemed so personal and endearing. While…

Updates from the Community Formation Team

The Community Formation Team (CFT) exists to equip CGS to form healthy, gospel-rooted, redemptive relationships that flow into a beautiful, loving culture where we invite our friends and neighbors into our family. The CFT meets about once a month and oversees the Community Group ministry, the Party Planning Committee, the Young Adult Community, the College ministry, the Welcome Team, and the newly-implemented Neighborhood model for pastoral care. We spent this month focused on the Community Group ministry. By adopting us…

Updates from the Mission Formation Team

The Mission Formation Team (MFT) exists to guide the congregation in our missions involvement, both domestically and overseas. We desire to connect our members with opportunities for outreach in many places outside of our church campus, including Durham, Chapel Hill, and overseas. On June 3, we met to frame a new missions policy that combines the existing global and local policies into one single unit. We spent most of our meeting time dreaming about vision points that can grow out…

Updates from the Session

The Session met on June 3, and opened their meeting with prayer. Chuck taught out of 1 Peter 1:22-2:3 and shared some reflections on what it might look like to become more distinctly a community of love. The only business conducted was to pass the 2019 – 2020 fiscal year budget that the congregation supported. After closing, they split up into formation teams to meet and work the rest of the evening. They will meet again on July 1. If…

Gathered and Shared

Every so often, we’ll share what we’ve been reading. Even if we may not agree with it all, we’re passing it along to stoke conversations about faith, love, and hope. The Ground of Hospitality by Norman Wirzba “I spend less time playing in the dirt than when I was a kid, but I still ponder the origins of my food whenever I eat. Wirzba not only provides a powerful metaphor for hospitality in the soil and in gardening; he also…

Book Recommendation: The Imperfect Disciple

“My heart,” writes Jared Wilson in The Imperfect Disciple, “is a haunted house – broken, ramshackle, weathered and boarded-up and filled with the mournful sound of the Hound of Heaven howling through the slats” (p. 22). Wilson wanted to write a book on discipleship that didn’t cast its readers into a spiral of guilt and frustration, and so, along with stories of his own failures and struggles, he welcomes us to explore “grace for people who can’t get their act…

Insights on the Christian Life from John Newton

“Amazing Grace” is recognizable by virtually every American regardless of background or religious affiliation. Most are aware that this hymn was written by John Newton – a former slave trader turned Anglican priest living in the 18th century. What may come as a surprise is that this hymn – and hundreds of others, like “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy,” “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” and “Let Us Love, and Sing, and Wonder” – were born out of a…

Who’s the Drama Coordinator at VBS 2019?

What do you get when you mix rambunctious kids, tasty snacks, silly games, and gospel teaching? Besides a whole lot of noise, you get… Vacation Bible School! This year, we’ll be hosting VBS from June 17 to 21. In the days leading up to the big week, we’ll introduce you to some of the folks who make it possible. Meet Amelia Cassar, Drama Coordinator! What’s something folks might not know about where you grew up? While I am from California, I…
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