All posts in “Community”

Sharing burdens: a countercultural mission

Galatians 6:2 says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”

That flies in the face of our culture’s obsession with self-reliance … which ultimately is about pride. True Life in Community looks different.

John Piper interprets the Galatians verse this way:

Here is a vocation that will bring you more satisfaction than if you became a millionaire ten times over: Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter.”

Need an example? Consider what happens every day at Rockford Rescue Mission. Their mission statement: Rockford Rescue Mission shares hope and help in Jesus’ name to move people from homelessness and despair toward personal and spiritual wholeness.

Sounds a lot like Galatians 6:2, doesn’t it? The “homelessness” aspect is Rescue Mission-specific, of course. But aside from that, could this serve as a mission statement for any Christian who wants to “obey the law of Christ”?

We spoke recently with Joy Wilson, lead coordinator for the Mission’s Women’s Life Recovery Program. In the video above, Joy talks about her own hard path, and how God uses community to work in the lives of hurting people. Meaning, all of us. 

Faith, work and lunch

How do faith and work converge for Life in Community? A group of local business leaders meets monthly for lunch, networking and exploring that question together. Here’s their story:

Friends, Life Groups and community

What does Life in Community look like? Chad and Megan Clauson’s Life Group started when most of them were part of First Free’s young adults ministry, Rooted. Now that members’ lives have taken different paths, the group still sticks close.

 

Mickey Mouse only real when shared

Life in community is important.
By Jim Killam | Illustration by Nathan McDonald

As a newspaper reporter, I once attended a media event at Walt Disney World. We journalists would attend morning press conferences about new rides and attractions, and then the rest of the day was our own.

For three days, I was treated like a Disney princess. I could ride any ride, see any show, eat at any restaurant … all on Mickey Mouse’s dime.

The catch was, I was by myself.

A statue of Walt and the mouse demonstrating life in community.

Even Walt had a mouse to pal around with here.

There is a definite place in life for solitude. That place is a long way from Walt Disney World. As I watched Indiana Jones blow up an airplane, rode Space Mountain in the dark or got dropped from the Tower of Terror, I’d never felt more uncomfortably isolated. I’d get off the rides with hundreds of people and there would be no one to talk with, laugh with … even barf with.

I’d just had exactly the same experience as all of those happy, laughing people around me, but all I felt was alone and self-conscious — and that I definitely shouldn’t walk anywhere near small kids. I know solo travel has become a big thing, and maybe it works for some. No rules, no compromises, no agenda but your own. For me, the experience was just … empty. I couldn’t wait to go home, and to come back later with people I love. 

Leaving it all behind

In the true 1996 book and 2007 movie, Into the Wild, Christopher McCandless graduates from college, disillusioned with materialistic society. He leaves home without telling anyone where he’s going, gives away everything he has and embarks on a solo quest to find meaning and purpose. That leads to random stops around the country, all with an eventual goal: Alaska. The ultimate wilderness.

Image of man walking in snow from Into the Wild.

Paramount Pictures

Before embarking on the last leg of his journey north, Chris tells his friend, Ron Franz: “You are wrong if you think that the joy of life comes principally from the joy of human relationships. God’s place is all around us. It is in everything and in anything we can experience. People just need to change the way they look at things.”

Near the end of the film, Chris’ opinion has changed. His rejection of family, church and society has left him dangerously alone. To find himself, by himself, has been no answer. Facing starvation in the Alaskan wilderness, he writes in the margin of the book, Doctor Zhivago: “Happiness only real when shared.”

Church and elder brothers

During a time of family struggle a few years ago, we stepped away from church and small groups for a few months. We felt defeated, disillusioned and let down. A holy discontent, we reasoned. Church felt less like a close community of believers and more like one continuous argument over worship and preaching styles.

So we just stopped going. I never came close to abandoning my faith, but church felt empty. For the time being, the thought of just God, me, a Bible and a journal sounded pretty attractive.

Chris McCandless’ story haunted me those months away from church. What did my faith mean apart from the messiness of community? Did this all really just begin and end in my own head? What’s the end game in loving God but not the church?

Around that time I also read Timothy Keller’s book, The Prodigal God, in which he drew on Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. Churches can be so unpleasant, he wrote, because we can see them as being filled with elder brothers — self-righteous, jealous, graceless jerks. Yet when I stayed away because of that, I had to come to grips with my own self-righteous jerkiness.

Keller also said this:

“There is no way you will be able to grow spiritually apart from a deep involvement in a community of other believers. You can’t find the Christian life without a band of Christian friends, without a family of believers in which you find a place.”

Long story short: We didn’t stay away for long. In fact, not long after we came back to the church, we felt God’s call to missions. Loving God but not the church had left me with an incomplete faith, and fewer people to share it with. Holy discontent didn’t stay holy for very long.

Life in Community

This month, First Free Rockford is engaging with a sermon series called Life in Community. Whether we’re married, single or widowed, it does us all good to realize community is where we thrive. God placed us in community to worship, grow and serve together — not to ride life’s roller coasters alone.

Views expressed on this blog are those of the writer alone. References to films, music or other works should not be considered an endorsement by First Free Rockford.

 

Life Groups Celebration 2019

Life Groups Celebration 2019

Enjoy an evening of stories, food, and fellowship at our first ever Life Groups Celebration on Thursday, August 8 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Aldeen Golf Club pavilion. We will spend time worshipping together, hearing from God’s word, and celebrating all God has done through Life Groups this past year. Tickets are $10 per person (adults only).

REGISTER NOW

Free childcare available for kids ages 0-12 from 6:15 to 9:15 p.m. during the event. Call 815-877-7046 by August 5 and speak to Erin Blume to reserve a spot for your kids.

If you are interested in joining a life group at First Free Rockford, new groups launch in October. Visit here to find out more.

50th Patriotic Celebration

50th Patriotic Celebration – Saturday

Join us for our 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration.

Friday and Saturday, June 28t and 29 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

We hope you will join us for the 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration – as we continue the tradition of celebrating our heritage, honoring our Veterans and Military and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ!

The program will feature a large choir and full orchestra presenting our favorite Patriotic songs.  We will be reminiscing and hearing from the Music Directors that have continued this tradition through the years.  A free dessert reception will follow each evening’s program.  We will have displays from Local Veteran Organizations for you to peruse, as well.

A free-will offering will be collected during the program.  This year – the offering will be divided between 3 local Veteran Non-Profits:  The Veteran’s Drop-in Center, the Oscar Mike Foundation, and Brightening Veteran’s Lives (Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 984 Rockford).

Childcare available for children age 5 and under.

Volunteer Info
50th Patriotic Celebration

50th Patriotic Celebration – Friday

Join us for our 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration.

Friday and Saturday, June 28t and 29 at 6:30 p.m. (doors open at 5:30 p.m.)

We hope you will join us for the 50th Annual Patriotic Celebration – as we continue the tradition of celebrating our heritage, honoring our Veterans and Military and thanking God for the true freedom we have in Jesus Christ!

The program will feature a large choir and full orchestra presenting our favorite Patriotic songs.  We will be reminiscing and hearing from the Music Directors that have continued this tradition through the years.  A free dessert reception will follow each evening’s program.  We will have displays from Local Veteran Organizations for you to peruse, as well.

A free-will offering will be collected during the program.  This year – the offering will be divided between 3 local Veteran Non-Profits:  The Veteran’s Drop-in Center, the Oscar Mike Foundation, and Brightening Veteran’s Lives (Vietnam Veterans of America – Chapter 984 Rockford).

Childcare available for children age 5 and under.

Volunteer Info

Community Choir Festival 2019

Register Now

 

First Free Rockford is once again hosting a Community Choir Festival with Dr. Gary Bonner. If you like to sing, then this is for you! On Friday and Saturday, February 22 and 23, singers from all around the region will come together in one mighty chorus, and we want you to join us! Rehearsals are Friday evening 7:00–9:30 p.m. and Saturday 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Then on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. there will be a free Community Choir Concert.

Singers

Don’t miss the thrill of being a part of this large community choir made up of singers of all ages from all over the mid-west. We will sing, laugh, and learn together. The weekend culminates with a free concert for our community.

For Singers of all levels and musical talents. Everyone learns something!

Directors

If you are looking to infuse joy, energy, and passion into your music program, then this is a weekend that you and your singers simply shouldn’t miss!

Pricing

REGISTER NOW!Lunch on Saturday is included in registration fees below.

EARLY BIRD RATE – thru Nov 30, 2018
$25 – Adults
$15 – Students (for Student Pricing -use Promo code CCF2019)

REGULAR RATEbeginning Dec 1, 2018
$30 – Adults
$20 – Students (for Student Pricing -use Promo code CCF2019)

If you have questions, please call Renee at 815-877-7046 or email her.

 

Videos from Last Year

 

Public Forum Event Header 720p

Public Forum on Human Trafficking & Domestic Violence

Learn how Rockford is being affected by human trafficking and domestic violence and what our community can do about it. There will be a presentation given by Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation – RAASE, Inc. and the Mayor’s Office, and a panel discussion with Mayor Tom McNamara, Judge Rosemary Collins (17th Circuit Domestic Violence Court), Lt. Kurt Whisenand (Rockford Illinois Police Department) and Jennifer Cacciapaglia (RAASE). First Free Rockford is hosting the event; no reservations required.

 

**Due to the nature of the content, this forum is intended for people age 17 and older**

Kids Around the World and First Free Rockford Playground Build

Join us Thursday and Friday, September 27th and 28th for a playground build with Kids Around the World at Lathrop Elementary School.  For further information or to sign up contact Kids Around the World at (815) 229-8731.