In January of 2017 we launched an ambitious five year vision to “Raise the spiritual climate of the community.” This is a God-sized vision because it takes the Holy Spirit to “raise the spiritual climate” in any way, shape, or form. That is what makes it so exciting! This vision will make a significant impact in our community because it affects thousands of people. This is why I am all in.
When the vision was launched, we wanted to be able to test it against actual data to determine whether or not we were making any progress. We began by establishing baseline metrics collected from community and congregational data. Since establishing a baseline, we have been able to track progress toward our goals in multiple areas. I want to show you what has been done so far and share what you can continue to do.
1. Lower the divorce rate by 5% in five years.
What do we know?
61.4% of adults in our areas are married.
13.7% have experienced a divorce
There are about 30,000 people in our immediate area. Based on the data, around 4,000 people and 8,000 children have felt the direct impact of a divorce. An untold number of others have felt the pain of dysfunctional family life.
Our vision is to reduce the divorce rate by 5% in five years. This translates into Freshwater helping 200 couples and over 400 children over a five year period. This is an ambitious goal! We believe that families matter whether you are single, married, currently in a relationship, or involved in a struggling one. We don’t shame those who have experienced the pain of divorce, instead we show grace and love to everyone and offer help and support.
What have we done so far? As of May 2018 we have formally helped over 22 couples with a combined total of 40 children. Our marriage mentoring ministry is doing well and is recruiting new mentor couples. We have also established a counseling referral network for family and marriage counseling.
What else are we doing? On July 28th we are offering a free wedding weekend for couples who want to get married but could never find the time or money. We are also adding marriage mentors to the team to help even more people.
2. Lower personal debt by 50% in five years.
What do we know? In September of 2017 we did a survey to get a baseline on the debt load of Freshwater attenders. This is what we found out:
25% of people had unsecured debt of over $5000.
This averages out to be about 200 individuals that we are directly trying to help.
What have we done so far?
Financial Peace University classes
We talk about lowering debt and are helping people to reprioritize their lives around biblical values. We will not know how many people we have helped until we take a second survey this fall.
What else are we doing?
Providing debt reduction resources.
Providing more financial mentoring.
Encouraging people to live within their means and reduce their debt.
3. Positively impact and assist over 300 people struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges.
What do we know? We know that mental health issues are on the rise.
7% of the population battle depression on a regular basis.
18% suffer with anxiety.
1 in 10 people struggle with substance abuse.
What has been done so far?
Freshwater has established a counseling network.
We are talking about mental health issues and have sent several staff members to a mental health seminar.
We have launched a Celebrate Recovery ministry.
We offer peer counseling and mentoring.
We have helped almost 110 people struggling with substance abuse in the past year and a half. As we continue to grow and spread the word, we will continue to help more people. There are currently about 15-25 people who attend Celebrate Recovery every week.
What else are we doing? We are hosting a three session mental health seminar this summer. We have also been very open discussing mental health issues so that people feel comfortable talking about it and seeking the help they need.
4. See 1,000 people make the decision to follow Christ in the next five years.
What do we know? People need Jesus.
What has been done so far? Since launching our vision in January of 2017 there have been 259 people who have said yes to a relationship with Jesus Christ. We believe there are more, but we have connected with 259 people to follow up with them.
What else are we doing? More opportunity to make faith decisions have been given. IN July we have a big baptism party planned and are encouraging all new believers to take the next step by getting baptized by immersion.
5. See 80% of Freshwater people connected with others in a group.
What do we know? We believe that you connect better with others in circles rather than in rows. Small groups provide people with a place to get relationally connected for support, encouragement, accountability, prayer, and fun.
What has been done so far? About 50% of Freshwater adults are currently connected with a group of some sort. We currently have over 30 groups that meet on a regular basis for prayer, bible study, and relationship building. We have launched a new 50+ group that will help connect people in that stage of life. We have also hired a Next Gen pastor (Zach Frietas) to connect with 19-35+ year olds. This is one of the largest segments of our community and also one of the least reached people groups.
6. Plant five new churches in five years.
What do we know? Church planting is the most effective way to reach more people for Christ. We need a life giving church in every city in our area.
What have we done so far? We launched Freshwater bilingual church in 2017 and helped launch Williston Alliance in Williston ND in 2017. Freshwater is also part of the Association of Related Churches. We support them financially because they are planting one new life giving church every four days around the country,
Freshwater is currently in the process of working with a church planter in a nearby city that will be announced in the near future.
7. Celebrate with over 2,000 people at all of our worship services in five years.
What do we know? Average weekly attendance is around 912 combined between two campuses. Online views average over 100 per week and the April 2018 average attendance was 1351. This number does not include online views or people who come every once in a while. Over 2,000 people already call Freshwater their church home, but they don’t attend every week. Our goal is to have over 2,000 people in attendance every week.
What has been done so far? We have improved the weekend experience. We improved the sound system, added staff, are doing more volunteer staff equipping and empowering. We are also committed to ensuring everyone has a great worship experience so that they can connect with God without being distracted by a technical or sound issue.
What else are we doing? We have added a Thursday night service to minister to people who have weekend commitments, vacations, and summer homes.
8. Build and move into a new facility within five years that meets our needs and leverages our existing facilities.
What do we know? We know that both of our facilities work, but one facility designed around our needs would be best.
What has been done so far? We have discussed plans and even drawn up a blue print. We have connected with fundraisers to help us raise the funds to build the church.
What else has been done? We are launching a capitol campaign in the fall even though we don’t have any land yet. Because a new facility is in our vision, we need to make plans now to be able to pay for it.
A generous donor has provided 100k in matching funds to be used specifically for the land/building fund. The congregation will be challenged to match this amount by December 2018 bringing our building fund which is currently at zero to 200k or more. This will empower Freshwater to buy land in the near future.
What can I do? This is the real question we need to ask. If we are going to fulfill our vision, each of us needs to do our part. I am asking you to take action four ways. Here is what you can do:
1. Pray for a movement of God. Add Freshwater to your prayers asking God to move in powerful ways in our community. Pray for one specific person, that they come to faith in Christ and attend Freshwater with you. Prayer moves the heart of God so we pray expecting God to hear our prayers and act on them. This is not arrogance, its obedience. We are told to pray in faith so we do.
2. Give Generously. One of our core-values is to be people who give generously of our time, talent and treasure. Giving generously starts with us. If you currently support Freshwater financially, thank you. If you give a little or only once in a while, I encourage you to start giving regularly. The Bible instructs believers to tithe. That means they are to give the first 10% of their income back to Him in faith. If you don’t currently tithe, start giving something and increase it every month until you are biblically tithing. God promises to bless us when we trust him with our finances. One way to be more consistent in giving is to set up an online recurring giving schedule (http://freshwater.church/give/). You can also give specifically to the building fund.
3. Be an authentic Christian. This doesn’t take much explanation. Honor God with your life every day and if you mess up don’t give up, just keep pressing on. People need to see Christians like you live out your faith every day.
4. Mentor one person. Relationships are so important. Find someone that you can pour your life into and connect with them on a regular basis. Get together to build your friendship, pray for one another, study the Bible, and hold each other accountable as disciples.
Our vision to raise the spiritual climate of the community is going to take a united effort. This vision is too big to be done alone and apart from a work of the Holy Spirit. I am convinced that this is the vision God has set before us and is calling us to accomplish. So why put so much effort into this? Because people matter to God and they matter to us. The greatest investment we can make with our life is to use it for the glory of God to accomplish His purposes for us. This is also where we will find the most fulfillment and the most satisfaction each and every day. Thank you for being on the team, I look forward to serving side by side with you for the glory of God.
Midwest Center for Trauma and Emotional Healing
Specializes in: Trauma, emotional healing, abuse.
Dan Miller (attends FW)
St Boni campus or at his office
Specializes in: General counseling
Christina McGraw (Attends FW)
St. Boni campus
Marriage and individual counseling
Specializes in: General counseling
Rebecca J. McBride, M.A., L.P.C. (Attends FW)
Lighthouse Counseling, LTD
219 Frontage Rd. Suite 120
Waconia, MN, 55387
121 1st ave. SE
Hutchinson, MN, 55350
Direct: 855-454-2463 (type in "Reb" when prompted)
Kids ages 6+, adolescents, family units, and adults
-grief (including individual counseling while navigating marital reconciliation, separation, or divorce. If reconciliation is the goal, I work in collaboration with another therapist inn order to provide individual and couples counseling.)
-depression, anxiety, bipolar
-self-harm and suicide risk reduction
-Counseling in Spanish
Specializes in: Various counseling
Christian Heart Counseling
Specializes in: Marriage therapy
His Needs, Her Needs, Building and Affair Proof Marriage by William Hartley
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Love and Respect by Eggerichs
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “a mental illness is a condition that affects a person's thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone's ability to relate to others and function each day. Each person will have different experiences, even people with the same diagnosis. Recovery, including meaningful roles in social life, school and work, is possible, especially when you start treatment early and play a strong role in your own recovery process. A mental health condition isn’t the result of one event. Research suggests multiple, linking causes. Genetics, environment and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. A stressful job or home life makes some people more susceptible, as do traumatic life events like being the victim of a crime. Biochemical processes and circuits and basic brain structure may play a role, too.” (https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers, accessed 5/9/18)
For years mental health issues were shoved into the back room and never dealt with. But today that is changing and at Freshwater we are committed to supporting those who struggle with mental illness.
One of our five year goals is to “Positively impact and assist over 300 people struggling with substance abuse and mental health challenges.” Substance abuse and mental health are not the same. This must be made clear but sometimes they do overlap. We are committed to helping those who struggle with either one with love and support.
We do know that mental health issues are on the rise. For example:
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.1
Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.2
Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life.
6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.6
18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.7
Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.
(https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers, accessed 5/9/18)
In the past year Freshwater has started to talk publically about mental health issues. We have sent several staff to NAMI seminars that speak into how to help those who suffer. We have also established a counseling network to provide the best care possible. We also offer peer counseling and mentoring depending on the need.
Since January 2017 we have helped almost 100 people struggling with substance abuse. We have also helped dozens of people who battle mental illness. This problem is not going away and that is why we are committed to helping people for the long haul. We have also been very open discussing mental health issues so that people feel comfortable talking about it and seeking the help they need.
This fall Freshwater is hosting a mental health seminar. This seminar is being put on by a local counseling center and backed by NAMI. If you or someone close to you is struggling with a mental health issue, you don’t need to be silent and you are not alone. We are here to help and will do whatever we can to support you on your recovery journey. You matter to God and you matter to us. Together, we can get support and give support for the glory of God. There is hope.
This series is called Stranger Things because we are covering stranger things, like the resurrection, angels, demon, hell, and heaven. We need to take a closer look at heaven because heaven is ultimately the eternal home of everyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
Here are three facts we know about heaven. First, heaven is a place. John 14:1-4 records Jesus telling us that he had to leave the earth to go and prepare a place for us in heaven. The book of Revelation describes heaven as being lined with streets of God and full of precious stones, in other ways similar to earth, but perfect.
Randy Alcorn in his book “Heaven” believes that heaven will be filled with many of the same activities that we enjoy doing right now. People will still be able to create new things and work on new projects and enjoy travel and food and work. Heaven will be a place of wonderful experiences without all the negative elements that we have grown accustomed to now because of sin.
Second, we know that heaven is where we will fully know God. Because we live in a sin infested world, we cannot fully know our perfect heavenly Father. Sin has tainted everything and when we do get to heaven we will see everything as it really is. In heaven we will have complete knowledge of God.
Third, we know that heaven will be void of all evil. The very source of evil, Satan, will be gone. The presence of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit means that there is only good and therefore no evil whatsoever. Revelation 21:4 tells us:
“4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4
So what will we do in heaven? The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about what we will do, but we do know that there are three things believers will enjoy for sure. We will rest, worship, and serve. Rest is not just the cessation of activities, but the experience of reaching a goal of crucial importance. One day we will receive all that we have hoped for. We get to look at God and he will look at us. We will finally have rest from all of our struggles.
Another thing believers will enjoy in heaven is worship. Because God is present, believers will be able to worship him in all his glory. Believers will also serve in heaven. Matthew 19:28 records Jesus telling his disciples that they will judge the twelve tribes of Israel. So it seems apparent that believers will still get to enjoy serving God and one another in heaven. I am not sure exactly what this looks like, but it seems that believers will serve in some fashion.
In conclusion, the best news of all is that heaven is home for those who believe in Jesus Christ. Heaven isn’t some exclusive place that only wealthy or educated or royal families can go. It’s home for anyone and everyone who puts their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. You cannot enter heaven apart from Christ. The Apostle Peter writes:
“3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5 NIV
The Bible says that in order for you and me to be saved and go to heaven we need to profess that we believe that Jesus Christ did in fact die and come back to life so that we may have a relationship with him in this life and spend eternity with him in the next.
If you are ready begin a relationship with Jesus great, don’t wait another minute. Take a moment right now to pray to him and tell him that you do believe. If you already have done that great, keep building your relationship with Christ now by reading His words in the Bible and partnering with him to give others the same hope that you have. Heaven is so cool you need to tell others about it so that they can put their faith and trust in Jesus too. What are you waiting for?