NLC News May 25 2023

Praise the Lord!

Every week there are multiple things I think of putting here. This time I'm listing our graduates. We thank God for the students who are growing in faith and life among us, and
we congratulate them for successfully achieving one goal while aiming for the next!
6th Grade Graduates
Cassandra Alvarez - Lincoln, Dinuba
Hannah Aquino - Citrus, Orange Cove
Samuel Aquino - Citrus, Orange Cove
Aydien Becerra - Kennedy, Dinuba
Julian Blanco - Mountain View, Visalia
Emma Cardona - T.L. Reed, Reedley
Scarlet Sandoval - Navelencia, Reedley
Zoe Zuniga - Jefferson, Dinuba
8th Grade Graduates
Anthony Keo - Washington, Dinuba
Joshua Keo - Washington, Dinuba
Blake Penner - Immanuel, Reedley
Jesse Stucky - Washington, Dinuba
Summer Yrigollen - Clay, Kingsburg
High School Graduates

Dulce Gonzalez - Orange Cove HS
Cecelia Ruiz - Visalia Adult School
College Degree Graduates
Isaak Reimche - A.S., Clovis Community
Brian Willems - A.A., Reedley College

What's Happening at NLC

5:30 p.m. Dinner; 6:30 p.m. Worship/Lesson: Spiritual Inventory, Part 2
7:30 p.m. Small Groups / Rock Solid Cafe

8:30 a.m. ADULT GROWTH CLASSES - NLC KIDS ministry for parents in growth classes ONLY
  • Life's Healing Choices - Rooms 114/115 - Taught by Brian Willems and Veronica Stalis
  • FINAL Roman's Video Class - Room 111 - Taught by John Regier (subbing for the Browns)
9:30 a.m. CONNECTING POINT (Dining Room)
  • Pastor Mark preaching - Acts 2-10 - A Diverse Family of Faith: Heroes of Faith!
  • Recognizing our graduates!
11:15 a.m. FAMILY MEAL - BBQ Burgers & Fixin's
  • Last names A-M please bring sweets/dessert; Last names N-Z please bring sides/salads 
6:00 a.m. Men's Bible Study: Book of Job - Dining Room
6:00 p.m. CELEBRATE RECOVERY Women's Step Study - Room 114/115 (the group is full)
6:30 p.m. Healing Rooms of Dinuba offers healing prayers - Church patio/library

6:30 p.m. - Worship Team - Gym
6:30 p.m. - Prayer Gathering - Room 113

5:30 p.m. Dinner; 6:30 p.m. Worship/Testimony - Kim (from Northpointe CR, Fresno)
7:30 p.m. Small Groups / Rock Solid Cafe
8:30 a.m. ADULT GROWTH CLASSES - NLC KIDS ministry for parents in growth classes ONLY
  • Life's Healing Choices - Rooms 114/115 - Taught by Brian Willems and Veronica Stalis
  • FINAL Roman's Video Class - Room 111 - Taught by John Regier (subbing for the Browns)
9:30 a.m. CONNECTING POINT (Dining Room)
  • Pastor Mark preaching - Luke 22; Eph 2 - A Diverse Family of Faith: A Place at the Table!
  • Baptisms (Pray that everyone is healthy and able to participate!)
  • Communion Service
11:15 a.m. GROWTH CLASS
  • The Bible Out Loud for Adults - Room 111; kids activities for participants in Room 101

Get in on the Celebration!

How to Help Send Students to Camp...

Giving at NLC

Received Last Week (5/21):  ……. $7,352
Received this year: ……………. $252,316
 Budget to Date: …………..…… . $308,058
Budget Goal: …………….…….....$421,553
Needed Weekly: ……….……….…$12,088
  • Mike Naylor broke some ribs and is recovering at home.
  • Marilyn Chappell is at St. Agnes Hospital with pneumonia.
  • Vicky Barkman's health is deteriorating. She is receiving care at Palm Village Memory Care.
  • Others continue with ongoing health concerns: JR Southard, Glen Zimmerman, Ana and Manuel dealing with vertigo, and numerous people who have gotten the flu, a cold, COVID, or allergies, including entire households.
  • Zach Clemmer has been ill. Pray he heals completely so he can leave for Nebraska soon.
  • Pray through the list of graduates.
  • Remember the Aquino family as Josh begins his overseas assignment.
  • John & Geri are traveling in India and Nepal with Global Disciples.
  • Our Home Resource Center is assisting a Cutler man who was referred to us through CarePortal. He has recently won overnight visitation rights with his children, so we're delivering set of bunk beds.
  • Bob Martin recently turned 78 years old, and thanks the Lord for the care he's receiving. Grace Reimer is celebrating another birthday in her 90s on June 2nd. Praise the Lord!
  • Pray for adequate resources for 16 of our students to attend summer camp at Hartland.

Leaving the Faith?

I was stunned this week by the release of a nationwide survey last week conducted by PRRI, a reputable, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization. As many are trying to understand the dynamics of religion in America post-pandemic, this survey focused on church attendance and "switching"--those how have  left their religion for another or none at all. It is entitled: "Religion and Congregations in a Time of Social and Political Upheaval". Here's a link to the study.

I'll get to the part that stunned me in a moment, but unfortunately most of what's unsettling has been so throughout my entire pastoral career. The church has been in decline in America. The percentage of Americans who attend church at least once a month or more often is 30%, equal to the percentage of Americans who "seldom" (28%) or "never"  (29%) attend church. In total, church attendance has dropped 13% nationally in the last 10 years alone.

Today about 67% of Americans call themselves "Christian", whether Catholic or Protestant, and even including groups we might not consider "Christian", like Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1950 that number was over 90%. Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated (the "nones", as they have been called because they check the "none" box for religious affiliation), has risen from 16% to 27% of the US population, just since 2006.

People are not only leaving the church, they're leaving their faith. That's what's so stunning to me. Nearly 25% of Americans report switching from their former faith to another or none at all, and 71% of those who do, switch before they reach the age of 30. Why? The number one reason stated by those who have changed religions or denominations (56%) is that they "stopped believing in the religion’s teachings". Can that really be true for us and those in our families, churches, and communities? I shouldn't be stunned to know the answer is Yes.

There was a day, I recall from my childhood, when everybody I knew went to church. That hasn't been the case for decades, and it's certainly not the case today. As a church we really don't have a choice about what to do. We have to go to them. I'm grateful we decided as a church to turn ourselves outward toward our community. People are seeing who we are and what we believe by our actions, and they're listening to what we say. They're accepting Jesus!

Let's not grow weary that the tide has turned and that the work of the church has become both more urgent and more challenging. And let's not get distracted by calls to mix our faith in Jesus with other, lesser things. I think that's the primary cause of people losing their faith in the first place. Let's give Jesus permission to transform our lives each day so we might be ready to show and tell those all around us what we know to be true: Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

If you've felt your own faith wavering, please know you can be honest with me and the elders about that, or others in the church you trust. We're willing to sit and listen, consider your questions, and pray with you.  At least you should know this: we won't be stunned any more.

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