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Pray: To open your time together.

Read: Mark 4:35-41; Psalm 44

Consider: Some thoughts for your group.

Stories with great heroes need memorable villains. Before Mark tells the story of Jesus’ showdown with death, he pits Jesus against all kinds of lesser bad guys – demons, sickness, hunger and storms to make the case that Jesus has authority over everything. For all of us reading Mark’s gospel, the message is clear – nothing could stop Jesus then, nothing’s going to stop Him now. But in 2022, with wars, plagues and droughts raging across the globe, is God really in control? Pastor Evan looked at the doubtful response of the disciples when faced with the threat of drowning during a storm. Instead of relying on their faith in Jesus’ power, fear caused them to question Jesus’ concern for them as they woke him with, “Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

Sometimes we wonder if Jesus cares for us (He could do something, but he’s not responding), other times we may doubt his authority and power over the trouble we face (He would intervene, but He’s not able). By voicing those fears and doubts in prayer, we may think Jesus will turn away from us because of our lack of faith. However, in Mark 4, it is the questioning of the disciples that awakens Jesus to their need and activates His authority in the middle of the storm.

Questions for your Group

When you read the stories of Jesus’ miracles, are you encouraged by the accounts of Jesus’ authority, or confused why things don’t always turn out well in our day-to-day lives?

How do circumstances (positive and negative) affect your view of God’s power in your life?

Do you find it difficult to pray honest prayers when experiencing doubt, frustration or confusion?

Staying Curious:

The difficulties of life and the realities of a broken world have the power to shake our belief in God. How might our belief in God mature to become unshakable, even in seasons of suffering?

Closing Prayer:
Spend some time praying for one another. For those experiencing sickness, financial trouble and relationship difficulties, pray for a renewed faith and trust in Jesus.

Westside Church will offer our monthly Free Food Market on Monday, January 24th, 1:30-2:30, inside the Westside Church Student Center! In partnership with Neighbor Impact, we provide a shopping experience where you get to choose your own supplementary groceries. If this would be of help to your family, or if you would like to pick up groceries for another family in need, we look forward to seeing you! Location: Westside Church, 2051 NW Shevlin Park Rd, Bend

*Location has changed to inside the Student Center gym for 2022.

Gather for in-person worship gatherings each Sunday. 8:30, 10 (with kids/youth classes), and 11:30am (on the lawn).

This week marks the completion of For The City, a 2-year giving and serving campaign. When we launched this campaign in the spring of 2019, we didn’t realize how God would use this campaign to strategically position our church to support and encourage families in our community throughout the unexpected challenges of the past 14 months. Today, we still desire to embody the way of Jesus: to love God and love people. As we intentionally engage in proximity to our city, we will see the life and love of Jesus bring transformation to everyone, everywhere across Central Oregon and beyond.

The Campaign is complete, but the initiatives will continue. To give to the For the City initiatives moving forward, select “Ministry Fund” on our Giving Page.

You may have heard that Westside has moved to a shared leadership model with three co-Senior Pastors. More accurately, Westside is formalizing a shared leadership model that has been in effect to some degree for the past seven years. This decision adds Pastor Evan Earwicker and Pastor Ben Fleming as co-Senior Pastors alongside Pastor Steve Mickel.  

Yes, we now have three Senior Pastors.  

Pastor Steve will continue to function as a “chief among equals” as we build collaborative, team-oriented structures to support the long-term health of Westside Church. Pastor Evan and Pastor Ben have been and will continue to take on expanded responsibilities. The Leadership Team will continue to function with Ben and Evan continuing their roles on that team. Pastor Mike Alexander will continue as Westside’s Executive Pastor.  Pastor Rod Kirk, Pastor Suzanne Mickel and Kimberly Alexander will also continue in their roles on the Leadership Team as Pastor of Operations, Outreach Pastor and Director of Discipleship, respectively. 

For most Westsiders, this change will cause little noticeable difference in how the church functions, since shared leadership has been in process behind the scenes for several years. 

Christ and the New Testament Church modeled shared leadership structures from the outset of the early Church. In Mark 3:13-15, Jesus inaugurated this shared leadership model when he appointed a group of 12 to “preach and have authority” and in Matthew 23, Jesus warned these disciples against taking on lofty titles that would elevate a single leader above the rest (Matthew 23:8-12). In Acts 8, Peter and John ministered in Samaria as a team. Peter would eventually write in 1 Peter 5, that he was a “fellow elder” among many others serving Christ and His church throughout the world. Even Paul shared leadership of the church in Antioch with Barnabas (Acts 11:25-26) and in Acts 14, Paul and Barnabas handed this authority to a group of elders (Acts 14:23). Decisions in the prominent Jerusalem church were not made by a single apostle but shared by a council of elders (Acts 15).  

While singular pastoral leadership is common in churches throughout history, the New Testament does not prescribe, prioritize or describe the placement of an individual, elevated Senior Pastor. The New Testament more commonly displays a shared, collaborative approach to leadership and local church structures that involved a broad mix of leadership gifts for healthy and balance (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-31). Paul made it clear that only one singular figure should lead the Church: “Christ, who is the head” (Colossians 1:18). The model of a singular, elevated church leader (bishop, priest, pastor) does not clearly emerge until the 2nd-4th centuries. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What will be each Senior Pastor’s role? 

Steve—Lead Pastor, primary weekend speaker / vision-caster, Leadership Team member, leadership development, Foursquare Board member. 
Evan—Creative Arts Pastor, Leadership Team member, expanded weekend speaking, mentorship and shared lead pastor functions with Steve. 
Ben—Generations Pastor, Leadership Team member, expanded weekend speaking, mentorship and shared lead pastor functions with Steve. 

Were others considered alongside Evan and Ben?

Ben and Evan play a unique role on Westside’s Staff. Both are part of the Leadership Team and have been involved in every decision Westside has made over the past several years. They also are currently the only pastors on the Leadership Team who both desire and have the experience to be senior pastors and this leadership model enables them to lead at that level in a team environment.

Are women eligible for senior pastoring at Westside?  

Yes. While Evan and Ben are currently the only pastors serving on the Leadership Team desiring senior leadership, one of Westside’s long-standing staff values has been the continued development and promotion of all staff members (both men and women) to all levels of leadership, teaching, and influence. We’re proud to be part of a denomination (Foursquare) that was founded by a woman and welcomes women to lead at the highest levels in local churches and the denominational level.

What happens if one of the three senior pastors move on in their career/ministry?

It is possible that others would be added to the senior pastor team and if one of the three leaves Westside, it is presumed that others (men and women) would be considered for those roles. If Pastor Steve leaves, Foursquare would appoint another Lead Pastor to lead this team and Westside.

How is the church structured and how are decisions made? 

Westside Church is a member of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel (ICFG), a denomination known as Foursquare. Foursquare uses a modified episcopal form of government and polity (The episcopal form of government is a type of church structure and is not tied to the Episcopal Church).  In short, Westside is a local congregation that is part of the Foursquare denomination that participates in a blend of individual authority and local autonomy with a healthy system of checks & balances provided by the Northwest District Team and Director, a Sectional Director, Westside’s Church Council and a local Lead Pastor. Westside uses a shared leadership, team-centered model for decision making that leverages trust, candor and healthy team structures to collaborate, discuss, wrestle with and make important decisions. Distinct values ensure this shared leadership structure and approach to decision making does not disintegrate into leadership by consensus, committee or vote. 

Will Ben and Evan continue to oversee the Creative Arts and Generations departments? 

Yes. Their departmental oversight and current responsibilities are not going away. 

Are there any other churches doing this? 

Yes. Many organizations including churches have tried variations of shared leadership over the years—some successful, some unsuccessful. When the shared leadership model fails, it is most often due to one or more of the co-leaders ultimately refusing to share decision-making and leadership. Ego and ambition are the kryptonite of shared leadership. This is often why successful shared leadership models are especially rare in the business world. 

We have had lengthy, personal conversations with co-Senior Pastors at two large west coast churches with similar values and DNA to that of Westside. Both churches have been successfully using shared leadership models and co-Senior Pastor for years. One of the churches has three to four co-Senior Pastors at any given time and the other has two co-Senior Pastors. These are full co-Senior Pastors (not associate pastors or campus pastors). 


Recently the Oregon Governor declared the limitation on church gathering sizes a public health recommendation and not an enforceable law. This has led some to wonder if Westside will open up our church building to larger Sunday gatherings immediately. As most of our congregation knows, our decision regarding reopening the building considered several factors, only one of which was legality. The other factors included, “Is it loving and wise to begin meeting en masse at this time?” (ethics), “How can we be the faithful and prophetic witness to our community God has asked of us?” (missional), and “What will it require for us to meet again safely?” (practical). These questions guide our decision-making around our gatherings and the size of our gatherings.

When faced with the decisions regarding reopening, we take Paul’s admonitions from 1 Corinthians 10:23 to heart: “ ‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive’”. Paul had in mind to limit his rights for the sake of love. Our first filter for any decision must always be love. If there is a high likelihood that a reopening at full capacity would put people’s health and lives at risk, the loving decision is to continue delaying the full-scale reopening of our building until we can provide a reasonable assurance of safety to our congregation.

What we do in these days, as the people of God, communicates volumes regarding our stance toward our community. It’s an amazing opportunity for Westside to help change the face of faith for tens of thousands of people regarding what the priorities of Jesus’ church will be. Therefore, we say to our community: we are for you – body, mind, and spirit. We want to stand with you in solidarity and show, with our actions, how much we love you.

On a practical note, we serve over 4,000 people as part of our church body, and gathering everyone together on a Sunday would not be practical at this time. Even if just a third of those came back to a service, we would not have space to provide a basic level of distancing and health precautions for the congregation.

Before COVID-19 became part of our reality, I encouraged our church to ask one question when it comes to decisions regarding how we live in community with people inside and outside the church: “What does love require?” It was more prophetic than we realized at the time. So, what does love require of us right now? What does love require of you right now? The way you and I answer that question through our actions in this moment will either reconfirm what people believe about Christians or could change the face of faith for someone seeking a relationship with God.

We love you, we miss the gathering of all the believers, but we know God will sustain us through this moment as he always has done in the past.

-Steve

Soon, we will be moving away from our current payment processor to a new one (Planning Center, which we already use for event signups and paid registrations). Do you give with a recurring, monthly gift? Please update your information here.

Hi Westside Church family. As I thought about the most recent covid-restrictions, several ideas were rumbling around in my mind and spirit to share with you.

First, there are people genuinely worried about their and their loved ones well being. Second, there are people genuinely concerned about the limitations on our freedoms as American citizens and the impact of our economy’s restrictions. Third, we must continue to seek God’s voice and obey his leading.

From the very beginning, we have felt that God was asking us to stand in solidarity with our community. To even lay aside our rights as citizens of America if needed to love our region well. We have sought to follow Jesus and his way of love. The vast majority of our church has appreciated the careful and wise steps we have taken in returning to services, caring for our Faith community, and reaching out to the hurting all around us. We can do this. We can change how people see the church and respond to the gospel simply by responding with love and kindness to our community at this moment. How we serve them and lay our lives down for them matters.

In light of this, I wanted to let you know our plans at Westside. We will be moving back to an online-only Sunday service for the next few weeks. We encourage our home churches and small groups to continue meeting if they are able and comfortable but limiting their in-person numbers to 25. For groups that are not comfortable meeting, let us know. We can provide you with digital resources and support to help you continue meeting and connecting via Zoom.

I want to emphasize the importance of connecting during this season. Many are isolated and feeling the weight of that isolation emotionally. If that describes you, then please let us help you find a home church. We also have pastors who are willing to connect with you. Don’t walk alone. Please reach out if you need any type of assistance: physical, emotional, or spiritual.

During this unique season, God is faithful. He is building his church. We continue to hear amazing stories of how Westsiders are finding new and creative ways to connect, care for one another, and minister more effectively in our community.

How should each of us respond to this moment? I’m convinced the call to every Westsider is to extravagantly love those in your sphere and look for opportunities to love outside your sphere. Start with the people around you. Make sure they are ok. Encourage them. Share with them your faith and confidence in the Lord. Pray with them. And look for opportunities to help those outside of your sphere. We’ve all learned how to smile with our eyes. Do that. Everywhere. When I was a kid, I would pray to have the eyes of Jesus. I don’t know why I prayed that, but I wanted my eyes to exude the love of Jesus. This is a great time to ask for that and to practice it. Food drives. Not hoarding. Giving away anything extra you have—coats for the homeless, our giving tree launches online next week where you can digitally choose families in need and buy Christmas gifts for them. Asking everyone you meet, is there anything I can do for you, can go a long way.

1 Corinthians 13 says that perfect love drives out fear. The road forward for each of us is to not drive out fear with fear but with love. Anxiety is often crouching at the door of our hearts, but we don’t have to let it control us or rule over us. Let’s encourage one another, pray for one another (including our government officials, those working on therapies and vaccines, local businesses and those out of work or struggling financially, and for first responders who are bearing the brunt of the current rise of COVID cases).

The leadership team at Westside love you and pray for you often. Be strong in the Lord, steadfast, placing our hope in his enduring love.

Pastor Steve and Westside’s Leadership Team

On Monday, November 23rd in partnership with Neighbor Impact, we will be hosting our monthly Free Food Market. We will be distributing food and essential household items to individuals and families who need them! If you are in need of any of these items, please come to our drive-through at the Westside Church parking lot. All are welcome!

What: Free Food Market

When: Monday, November 23rd | 1:30 – 3:00pm

Where: Westside Church Parking Lot | 2051 NW Shevlin Park Rd

Who: ALL ARE WELCOME!

Westside Kids is hosting a Family Thanksgiving Event on Saturday, November 14 from 2-4 pm on the Westside lawn outside the Atrium.Come by anytime between 2 and 4 pm to pick up a fun Thanksgiving craft for the kids, grab a yummy treat and take advantage of our Harvest Photobooth to commemorate the season or get a head start on your family Christmas card. We’d love to see you and say hi. Please follow physical distancing guidelines and wear masks when you are near others.

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