Thursday, December 18, 2014

Whiteboard: Christmas Cantata

Okay, so the astute reader of The Whiteboard will probably notice that the picture looks pretty familiar this week.

I didn't do that much to change things up this week -- "lit" the fourth Advent candle, and changed the word "THIRD" to "FOURTH" -- but that is because things have gotten pretty busy here in the church! We have the Christmas Cantata this Sunday (and the special early showing at the Westminster Retirement Village on Saturday!) and the Christmas Eve Service on Wednesday December 24.

So, I tell you what. Since I skimped out on The Whiteboard picture this week, how about I give you a sneak preview of the artwork for the Cantata...because trust me, I wasn't going to be able to draw this one anyway!

Joy at FCC Scottsdale

What a joy filled Sunday we had at FCC Scottsdale!

On December 14 (the Sunday of Joy!) we had so much to be joyful for at the church! At our Annual Congregational Meeting we elected a full slate of Officers, Ministry team leaders & Elders, we formally approved a 2015 Budget that anticipates a $15,000 surplus, and we formally introduced "The Dream Fund" as a way to put our abundance of resources to work for the Lord in the coming year. We also recognized Sandi DeFeo for her leadership of our congregation as she ended her term as Moderator at FCC Scottsdale!

Then right after the Annual Meeting we had the DWM Christmas Luncheon complete with all kinds of wonderful food (and those deserts, oh my!) and an amazing Variety Show featuring the talents of the members and friends of FCC Scottsdale. What a great day!

Here are some pictures of the joyous occasion:

 Our out-going Moderator Sandi with her Gift of Appreciation
(custom designed by our very own Bob Stall!) in thanks
for a wonderful term as our Moderator.
 The inscription reads: "With our sincere appreciation for
dedicated service! You are a blessing to this congregation."
At the bottom there is a verse from Thessalonians 1:3.
Sandi, Julie and Tavit got our Variety Show started
with some beautiful Christmas music.

David blew everyone away with his trumpet playing! 

A packed house took in the show. 

The Praise Team Ladies helped close out the Variety Show in style!

Thank you to the DWM Ladies, the Variety Show organizers and participants, 
and everyone who helped to make it such a joyful day at
First Christian Church Scottsdale!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Whiteboard: Third Sunday of Advent

This Sunday we will celebrate the gift of Joy!

And I really mean it.

You see, this Sunday is the third Sunday of Advent, which is "The Sunday of Joy."

This Sunday is also our Annual Congregational Meeting, and let me tell you church, we have some things to be joyful about!

For starters, our Stewardship Campaign was so overwhelming successful that we are forecasting a $15,000+ surplus for our Budget next year!

What's more, we have a full slate of Elders (including 2 ex-officio members) and a full slate of Ministry Team Chairs to approve!

And then to top it all off, we also have the DWM Christmas Luncheon on Sunday which will not only share some of the finest Christmas cuisine you can imagine but will also feature a Variety Show that will showcase the musical talents and stylings of several members and friends!

Now that is what I call "The Sunday of Joy!"

I look forward to seeing you there!


John 1:6-8, 19-28 -- John the Baptist

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Then they said to him, ‘Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’
He said,
‘I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness,
“Make straight the way of the Lord” ’,
as the prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, ‘Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?’
John answered them, ‘I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.’
This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

Global Ministries Sunday

As we celebrated Global Ministries Sunday at the church, it was such a treat to have our Missionary to Lesotho Mark Behle as our guest preacher.

For nearly 30 years Mark has served as a Global Ministries Missionary throughout Africa. He is presently serving in the Planning Office of the Lesotho Evangelical Church, one of the oldest Protestant Denominations in Africa, and a proud Global Ministries Partner Organization. 

Mark shared a series of stories (what he called "Ebenezer Moments", taking after 1 Samuel 7:1-13) about the faith and faithfulness of our brothers and sisters in Christ the whole world over. 

You can listen to his full sermon on the church's website by clicking here.

In the Fellowship Hall, Kay Jones displayed a gorgeous lace tablecloth that had been loving knit for her many years ago by Dr. Gene Johnson -- a long time friend and one of our Global Ministries Missionaries. 

On the center of the table Kay included this note: 
The maker of this beautiful tablecloth was Dr. Gene Johnson,
who along with his wife Sue spent several
years as Missionaries in the Belgian Congo.

Gene and Sue were presented an award of
affirmation at the Global Ministries Dinner
held during the 2013 General Assembly.

Gene crochets during meetings. 

After the worship service a small group of us took Mark Behle to lunch were we learned more about Lesotho, Mark's own personal "Ebenezer Moments," and the ways that we at FCC Scottsdale can further support the good work of Global Ministries!

Great News!

The response to this year's Stewardship Campaign (theme: Worship, Mission & Ministry) has been thoroughly overwhelming!

I shared the news this past Sunday, but wanted to make sure and share it again for anyone who might have missed the announcement.

But first, a little bit of background: The Budget Proposal that had been approved by the Administrative Council contained a $15,000 line for "Additional Fundraisers." We have been doing this for the last few budget cycles (remember "Dinner with the Stars" in 2013?). That "Additional Fundraisers" line has been used to keep our budgets balanced, but it does mean that we have been passing Deficit Budgets for the past few years. Okay, you got that? Now lets get out of the weeds.

Here is the Good News: Enough people increased their pledges for 2015 that we fully taken advantage of the $10,000 Matching Gift! (Remember: We had an anonymous donor who agreed to match any new pledge or increased pledge dollar for dollar up to a total of $10,000).

But there is even more Good News: We didn't just come up with $10,000 worth of new and increased pledges. In fact, we blew past that total. You see with the help of our Narrative Budget approach and the Matching Gift we were able to raise $30,000+ more than we were anticipating!

$30,000+ worth of new resources to support Worship, Mission & Ministry at FCC Scottsdale?!? That is amazing! That is incredible! That is overwhelming support for what God is doing here at FCC Scottsdale! (By the way, that number keeps going up. I had to write "$30,000+ because we continue to receive pledge cards and that number just keeps getting bigger!)

So what does that mean for our church?

Well, for starters it means that our days of passing a Deficit Budget are behind us! I'm excited to say that we won't need that $15,000 "Additional Fundraisers" line in the 2015 Budget that we'll be adopting at our Annual Meeting this coming Sunday.

More importantly, it means that we are actually forecasting a Budget Surplus for the coming year!

Which is why the Executive Team of the Administrative Council here at the church has already started talking about "The Dream Fund."

You see, we want to make the best possible use of those resources that our church members are so faithfully sharing with the church. Now that we have extra resources pledged for the coming year we want to started dreaming -- What new things can we do in 2015? What old projects can we resurrect? What ministries can we form? What partners can we start supporting again? What new outreach projects can we get started?

You'll be hearing more about The Dream Fund at the Annual Meeting and in the coming weeks (here is a sneak peak: It is going to literally involve a box where people will be invited to fill out "Dream Sheets" and submit their ideas for consideration by the wider church!). But for now I need you to start dreaming.

This is an incredible time in the life of the church. I could not be more proud of our church! I could not be more overwhelmed by the support that has come in through our Stewardship Campaign! And I can't wait to see what amazing things we will be able to do, to the glory of God, with the abundance of resources that you all have entrusted us with at the church!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Whiteboard: Global Ministries Sunday

This Sunday at FCC Scottsdale we'll celebrate Global Ministries Sunday as we welcome our Global Ministries Missionary to Lesotho Mark Behle as our Guest Preacher.

Mark has been serving in Africa on behalf of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for nearly 30 years now and he'll be sharing stories of his experiences there as he testifies to the transforming power of God's love and the work of Christ in the world.

Mark was featured in a lengthy interview on the Global Ministries webpage, and I'm reprinting that interview here so that you can get to know him a bit better in advance of Sunday's worship service.

Mark Behle

Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa
Give a gift for Mark Behle's Appointment

How would you describe the mission of our partner in Lesotho?
The Lesotho Evangelical Church (LEC) is one of Africa's oldest Protestant churches, founded in 1833 by missionaries from the Paris Evangelical Mission society. The LEC is Lesotho's oldest denomination and today has several hundred thousand members in over 100 parishes which include hundreds of outstations. The LEC is the Lesotho church partner of Global Ministries.

The LEC has long been involved in ministries of evangelism, education and health. The church has around 580 primary and secondary schools, a seminary and bible school, two hospitals and one health center, a major printing works and book depot. For many years they have had a women's Desk and in recent years they have established an HIV/AIDS office. The church is well-known for speaking out for justice and righteousness and has, in times past, suffered for speaking truth to power. The church seeks to meet both the spiritual and physical needs of the people of Lesotho.

How do you fit into their mission?
For my first 15 years in Lesotho I taught math and religion at one of the high schools of the LEC. In this position I was assisting the church in meeting the educational needs of the young people of Lesotho.

Since December 2011 I have been working in the LEC Planning Office where I assist the church with coordinating projects of the church as well as working with the Planning Commission in developing policy and terms of reference for church bodies, looking at church structure and other issues to improve the overall work and function of the denomination. The church has often lacked adequate resources for doing this work and I was asked by the LEC to move from my teaching job into this position.

What led you to engage in this calling?
Many years ago, during a period of time trying to discern what I should do with my life, I found an opportunity to teach math in Africa through our mission board. I understood this to be my calling in that I was and am able to use the gifts, talents and interests God has given me. Having been raised in the church, the church was always an important part of my life and in my work with Global Ministries over the past 27 years I have been blessed with the privilege of helping to connect churches in the United States with the wider church, particularly here in Lesotho.

Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?
In the past year I have been strengthened by Deuteronomy 31:8, “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

What are some of the challenges facing the people of Lesotho and the LEC?
One is the problem of adequate resources to meet the many needs of the church and its institutions. Many of the facilities are old and in need of repairs or rehabilitation. There is also the challenge of moving the church forward in the area of information technology. Another issue is the need for spiritual renewal and reform. Also, the HIV/AIDS crisis continues to impact on life throughout the country. The church also needs additional pastors and evangelists, as well as increased staffing at the Morija Theological School.

What lesson have you learned working alongside the staff and students of the LEC that you would like to share with churches in the U.S.?
The most striking difference in worship within the LEC is the celebratory nature of the offering. It is often prolonged (group by group) with much joyful singing and even ululating. The people of Lesotho are thankful for the opportunity to give and they express that thankfulness very openly and joyfully!

What is a common phrase used in the local churches?
Khotso e be le lona. (Peace be with you)

Are there books that have shaped your understanding of your work in Lesotho?
Quest for Peace by Craig W. Hincks
Singing Away the Hunger : The Autobiography of an African Woman
What's So Amazing About Grace?
Mere Christianity
Basic Christianity

Mark also shared an idea for a Sunday school lesson related to Lesotho (PDF) that teaches children how to make these unique hats.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

In the mail

Well, look what showed up in the mail this week...

That's right, FCC Scottsdale was the featured congregation in the Annual Stewardship Letter for the Hope Partnership! That letter went out to 6,500 households!?! What a blessing to be a part of a church that is at the forefront of something new and has become a leader in our denomination!

If you can't quite make out what the letter says in that photo, here is a full copy of the text:

November, 2014
Dear Friends,
If your congregation were given the challenge to do one thing “out of the box” in just 21 days, what would it do?
First Christian Church, Scottsdale, Ariz., accepted that challenge and started “The 5th with First”--a combined worship/outreach project service or, as they call it, “workship.”
On the fifth Sunday of the month, the congregation steps out of its comfort zone and meets in the park across the street for a brief prayer service that includes scripture and communion and then heads out into the community to do “faithful, faith-filled holy work.”
Partnering with local groups, the workship team has assisted neighborhood homeowners in cleaning up/fixing up their property; assembled back-to-school packs; and done housekeeping chores and meal preparation at the local Ronald McDonald House.
For those who prefer to stay at the church, an abbreviated worship service is held there, followed by a service project in the fellowship hall, which recently involved preparing “healthy packs” for local school children on the free or reduced lunch program who do not have enough to eat on weekends.
“Workship is when we live out our faith by going out into the community to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors,” says First’s Pastor Brian Frederick-Gray.
First Christian Church, Scottsdale heard the call to take the 21-day challenge as part of their participation in Hope Partnership’s The Journey—a two-year cycle of services that helps church leaders discover the courage to lead their congregation through missional transformation by guiding them to seek answers to the right questions, unleash creativity and develop teamwork in their congregation. The process includes intensive training experiences, coaching and CARE (peer) group participation.
Services like The Journey are funded in large part by gifts to Hope Partnership’s annual fund—Vision Gifts. Vision Gifts support Hope Partnership’s vision to empower courageous leaders as they guide the Church into life-giving expressions of ministry for this era of God’s mission.

Please consider making a Hope Partnership Vision Gift today by using the enclosed envelope or giving through our website,, or by calling 1-800-274-1883 and asking for TaShana or Kim, who will gladly assist you in making a gift with your credit card.
We invite you to accept the 21-day challenge, to do something “out of the box” and consider including a Hope Partnership Vision Gift in your year-end giving.
Gilberto Collazo                                    Ellen L. Mitchell, CFRE
President                                                Vice President for Donor,
                                                                Investor and Church Relations

If you would like to learn more about FCC Scottsdale's journey with the Hope Partnership, then click here.

If you would like to learn more about "The Fifth With First" then click here.

If you would like to make a donation to help support the work of the Hope Partnership and to fund the work of congregational vitality throughout the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) then click here.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Fifth With First

November 30, 2014 marked another success for "The Fifth with First!"

For the Workship Service we had three dozen people working across two different work sites as we cleaned up local homes in parntership with our friends at Operation Fix-It. Our Workship Crews planted trees, trimmed hedges, laid pavers, and moved rocks -- lots and lots of rocks -- as we helped xeriscape two local yards.

The folks who participated in the Worship Service were treated to a wonderful sermon from our Pastor Emeritus, the Rev. Don Jones (click here to listen to the sermon) and then packed 100 weekend food bags for our mission partners at Healthy Packs.

It was an amazing day where we truly lived out faith, connected with our neighbors, made a difference in the life of others, and did it all to the glory of God!

Here are some photos from the day!

100 Bags for Healthy Packs! 

Yep, that is Henry with a pick ax! 

Bob T. hard at work prepping the edges. 

Shoveling rocks at Property #1 

 Midway through the process at Property 2.

Look at all those rocks! 

 The "After Picture" of Property 2.

 Moving rocks and planting trees at Property 1.

Moving more rocks.  

 The rock pile at Property 1. 

The family was so grateful for the hard work of our Workship
Crew at Property 1 that they even fed them!

 The "After Picture" of Property 1.

Our Workship Crew after finishing the work at two different
properties on behalf of Operation Fix-It!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Ministry is you and me working together to share God's love.

During the third Sunday of our Stewardship Campaign (theme: Worship, Mission & Ministry!) we talked all about ministry. Here is what we said:

Ministry is walking hand in hand with a brother or sister in Christ.

Ministry is sharing your faith.

Ministry is following God’s call on your life.

Ministry is journeying together in service to God.

For the purposes of our Narrative Budget, Ministry describes the ways that we extend the love of Christ by taking care of one another right here in the church.

Ministry means nurturing our relationships with each other while deepening our faith in God. We see ministry in every hospital visit by an Elder, every Prayer Shawl that is lovingly knitted, every pastoral call, and every Prayer Chain email. Ministry is every warm smile at the Visitor’s Center, every Fellowship Luncheon, every Youth Group Lock-In, and every Sunday School Class. Ministry is you and me working together to share God’s love.

And here is what it looks like: 

Three Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council held their last formal meeting of 2014 this past Sunday immediately following the worship service.

Here are "The Three Things You Need to Know" from that meeting!

  1. Dedication Sunday is November 23! We will complete our "Worship, Mission & Ministry" Stewardship Campaign this coming Sunday when we bless and dedicate our Pledge Cards. Please remember that we have a $10,000 Matching Grant for increased pledges -- that is to say, if you increase your pledge for the coming year it will matched, dollar for dollar, in the coming year up to a total of $10,000! This is a wonderful opportunity for us at the church! Please prayerfully consider your pledge this week and then join us on Sunday for Dedication Sunday as we turn over our tithes and offerings for the new year. Oh, and if you forget to bring your Pledge Card on Sunday morning, have no fear, we'll have plenty in the pew racks this Sunday!
  2. The Annual Congregational Meeting is scheduled for December 14! The Nominating Committee has been working hard on the slate of Officers, Elders, and Ministry Team Leaders for the coming year. The Finance Team has worked hard to prepare our 2015 Budget. Now, we need your buy in as well! The most important decisions in the life of our church revolve around who will lead us and how we will spend our stewardship dollars. We reserve those decisions for the most important deciding body in the life of our church: The whole congregation! We will meet in the sanctuary after worship on December 14 to formally approve our Slate of Nominees and officially adopt the 2015 Budget. Then right after the meeting DWM will be hosting a Christmas Luncheon in the Fellowship Hall complete with all sorts of wonderful food and entertainment!
  3. Speaking of Christmas Events here in the church, I need you to remember these important dates as well:
    We'll be kicking off this year's Adopt-A-Family Program on November 23.
    -- The Worship Ministry Team will host The Annual Hanging of the Greens on Saturday November 29 starting at 9AM. Come out and join them in decorating the Sanctuary, Fellowship Hall, and Church Grounds for the Advent and Christmas Seasons! Lunch will be provided.
    -- We'll introduce The Christmas Bag Outreach Project on November 30.
    -- We will celebrate Global Ministries Sunday by having our Global Ministries Missionary Mark Behle as our guest preacher on Sunday December 7.
    -- The Christmas Cantata will be performed during worship on December 21.
    -- Our Christmas Eve Worship Service will be Wednesday December 24 at 7PM in the Sanctuary. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Whiteboard: Ministry

As our Stewardship Season enters Week Three we turn our attention to Ministry!

For the purposes of this Narrative Budget, Ministry describes the ways that we extend the love of Christ by taking care of one another here in the church – nurturing our relationships with each other while deepening our faith in God. As you can see from our Pie Chart, this particular understanding of Ministry accounts for 32% of our projected church budget for 2015.

We see this in every hospital visit by an Elder, every Prayer Shawl that is lovingly knitted, every pastoral call, and every Prayer Chain email. This is every warm smile at the Visitor’s Center, every Fellowship Luncheon, every Youth Group Lock-In, and every Sunday School Class.

Ministry is walking hand in hand with a brother or sister in Christ.

Ministry is sharing your faith.

Ministry is following God’s call on your life.

Ministry is journeying together in service to God.

Ministry is you and me working together to share God’s love.


Matthew 25:14-30 The Parable of the Talents

‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.”But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”


Mission is how we live out our faith to make a difference in the lives of others.

On the Second Sunday of our Stewardship Campaign (theme: Worship, Mission & Ministry) we talked all about Mission. You can click here to listen to my sermon titled, appropriately enough "Mission." 

Church members took Post-It Notes and wrote down their favorite Mission Site (or a place where they volunteer their time) and affixed them to the church doors on their way out of the sanctuary, creating Mission-focused Stained Glass widows on the doors that lead us from worship out into the world.

 We also shared this Video from Rev. Al Beasley that takes you on a tour of a few of our Mission Partners...

Here at First Christian Church Scottsdale we are defined by our dedication to Mission, and we are fortunate to work as many incredible mission partners as we have -- Vista Del Camino, Operation Fix-It, AZ Family Promise, The Ronald McDonald House, AMOR Ministries, UMOM, Church World Services, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Disciples Mission Fund, St. Vincent dePaul, Feed My Starving Children, W.H.E.A.T., Silo Clothing Closet, and Healthy Packs just to name a few!

AND, we didn't just talk about Mission, we went out into our community and walked our talk...literally. After worship the members of FCC Scottsdale participated in the East Valley CROP Hunger Walk. FCC Scottsdale raised $1000 to help CROP stop Hunger and support the life-giving work of Church World Services. In fact, you can still donate online by clicking here.

At FCC Scottsdale we are on a Mission -- to live out our faith in a way that makes a difference in the lives of others!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Whiteboard: Mission

Our Stewardship Campaign continues this Sunday! 

Our theme is Worship, Mission & Ministry and this week, using Joshua 24 as our guiding text, we'll be focusing on Mission!

Mission is how we reach out to our community and the wider world with the love of Christ.

By partnering with Operation Fix-It, Vista Del Camino, Healthy Packs, AZ Family Promise,
St. Vincent DePaul, The Ronald McDonald House, and others we’re making a real difference. 

You've certainly heard of Mission Nutrition. This is our healthy meals program here at the church that hand delivers a prepared meal to folks when they need it most. Christy and her team of volunteers prepares a meal once a month for our homebound members, folks who are sick or recovering from a hospital stay, and for members who need a little extra help. Then our team of drivers brings that meal right to your door. Well, last year Mission Nutrition  prepared and delivered over 250 healthy meals! 

What you might not know is that our church campus serves as a Mission Center for many in our local community. We presently have 8 different Alcoholics Anonymous Groups that meet weekly at our church. 

Oh, and let’s not forget that we continue to be the largest supporter of the Disciples Mission Fund of any Disciples church in Arizona – empowering ministry from our doorstep to the ends of the Earth!

As you can see from the Pie Chart on the Whiteboard, Mission activities here at FCC Scottsdale account for 28% of our total budget. 


Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and summoned the elders, the heads, the judges, and the officers of Israel; and they presented themselves before God. And Joshua said to all the people, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Long ago your ancestors—Terah and his sons Abraham and Nahor—lived beyond the Euphrates and served other gods. Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River and led him through all the land of Canaan and made his offspring many. I gave him Isaac;

‘Now therefore revere the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods that your ancestors served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.’

Then the people answered, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake theLord to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed; and the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’

But Joshua said to the people, ‘You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm, and consume you, after having done you good.’And the people said to Joshua, ‘No, we will serve the Lord!’ Then Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses.’ He said, ‘Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.’ The people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.’ So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem.


Our Budget tells the story of our congregation – our priorities, our intentions, and our hopes. This year, during our Stewardship Campaign we are telling the story of our church using our Mission Statement and focusing on the words Worship, Mission & Ministry.

Each Sunday we affirm that “We are a Christ-centered Community Inviting Everyone to Seek and Celebrate God’s Love through joyful Worship, Mission & Ministry"

Over the course of our Stewardship Campaign  you’ll see how First Christian Church Scottsdale is putting your stewardship dollars to use for the work of God’s Kingdom.

As you can see from the pie chart we've broken down our 2015 Proposed Budget into three specific categories: Worship, Mission & Ministry. This is who we say we are, and this is how we will put our resources to work.

On November 2nd we kicked off our Stewardship Campaign by focusing on the first word of our theme: WORSHIP. Here is (a modified version of) the Testimonial Video that played at the beginning of the service.

You can listen to Rev. Brian's sermon (including a full description of The Narrative Budget Process) on the church's website by clicking here

2014 East Valley CROP Hunger Walk

Wear a pair of tennis shoes this Sunday to church!

That’s right, it is time for the East Valley CROP Hunger Walk!

You can help Church World Service work to end hunger in the world one step at a time by being a part of the East Valley CROP Hunger Walk.

Here are all the different ways you can be a part of the CROP Hunger Walk.

  • You can walk! There will be a big group of CROP Hunger Walkers going from FCC Scottsdale. We’ll pray over them in worship before they head out and we’d love to have you with us!
  • You can sponsor a walker! Or multiple walkers for that matter! Catch one of our walkers in the Fellowship Hall after worship and fill up their donation envelopes!
  • You can come out to El Dorado Park at 1:30! Even if you don’t want to walk you can come and be a part of the festivities. Our very own Rev. Al Beasley will be providing music at the Ramada! Come out and sing along!
  • You can wear your tennis shoes to church on Sunday! Put on your Sunday best and then finish off the look with a pair of sneakers! Come to worship and pray, sing, and support your church as we work together with Church World Services to help CROP stop hunger! And if can’t be there on Sunday…

2014 Stewardship Campaign

Every Sunday I begin worship with these words: At First Christian Church Scottsdale
we are a Christ-centered Community Inviting Everyone to Seek and Celebrate God’s Love through joyful Worship, Mission, and Ministry!

That is more than just a Mission Statement. That is who we are as a people of faith!

The gospel stories are about transformation -- the work of God at work in the world and the Holy Spirit at work in the followers of Jesus. We celebrate transformation each time we gather. We come together wrestling with the complexities of life and leave with the simple assurance of God’s abiding love. The financial gifts we offer become the resources for Worship, Mission & Ministry.

So I have a special invitation for you. On November 2nd we will kick off our Stewardship Campaign as we begin a four week journey considering how we are transformed by our encounter with Jesus. We will hear stories from people in our faith community that focus on their journey at FCC Scottsdale, and why this church is so important in their lives.

Every Sunday during our Stewardship Campaign a story from the life of Jesus will focus our attention on how God is at work in us and through us. My sermons will focus on how Jesus inspires us to follow him through acts of Worship, Mission & Ministry. That’s right, our Stewardship Campaign theme comes straight from our Mission Statement this year!

In the coming days you’ll receive another letter from the church office containing your pledge card and a copy of our prospective budget that is broken down in three categories to show how your stewardship dollars will be used to support the Worship, Mission & Ministry of FCC Scottsdale.

On November 23rd we will have the opportunity as a community of faith to offer and dedicate our pledges for the investment we feel led to make for resourcing the things God is calling us to do as God’s church. I hope you will be intentional about not missing a moment of the rich things God has in store for us at FCC Scottsdale during the campaign!

God has done, and continues to do remarkable things with us. I look forward to seeing you in worship each week during our Stewardship Campaign.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Whiteboard: Narrative Budget and Worship

Wait, a pie chart?

On The Whiteboard?

What is going on here? I thought The Whiteboard always had something to do with worship.

Well, you see, this Sunday we are officially kicking off our 2015 Stewardship Campaign and we'll be doing things just a little bit different this year.

During the Stewardship Campaign we'll be presenting a Narrative Budget. Now, have no fear. In order to prepare a Narrative Budget you first have to go and do the faithful planning of a tradition line item budget. We know how much money we need ($260,834) and where those resources will be spent. But a Narrative Budget doesn't stop with the numbers. No, a Narrative Budget is a way for us to tell our story through our budgeting process!

Here is what you do. After preparing a full line-item budget (and we have copies of that available in the church office for anyone who wants to see one, just stop by!) you break down that budget even further by determining how those particular line-items fit into the specific categories of work that define what we do here at the church.

Sounds complicated, but really it isn't. Particularly when you have something that helps orient and organize our work here at the church like we do...our Mission Statement!

Every Sunday I begin the worship service by saying, "We are a Christ-centered Community Inviting Everyone to Seek and Celebrate God's Love through Joyful Worship, Mission, & Ministry!"

Did you catch those last three words (well, four if you count the ampersand)?




Those words define who we are as a church and help us categorize our work. The Finance Team and the Executive Team here at FCC Scottsdale have been working hard to take our line-item budget and break it out into those three key categories so that we can see just how we are putting your stewardship dollars to work for Worship, Mission & Ministry.

Thus the Pie Chart. It turns out that we allocate about 40% of our stewardship dollars for Worship here at FCC Scottsdale.

And I know what you are thinking: "Is the Worship Committees Budget really that large? Are we spending that much money on communion bread and grapejuice?"


Remember we are reallocating our line-item budget to fit our understanding of who we are. If you want to have a weekly worship service you're gonna need lights and (particularly here in Arizona) you're gonna need air conditioning. So we did a time study and broke out the amount of electricity that we need use on a regular basis for the Sunday morning worship service and we put that percentage of the Property Budget into the "Worship" category. We did a similar thing with my salary (about 40% of my time goes to planning and leading worship, so 40% of my salary went into the "Worship" category) and Jane's salary (30%, representing her time each week printing the bulletin, creating the Song Show Presentation, sending out the liturgy, updating the Worship page on the website and more). Since the worship service wouldn't be complete with music we also included the full salaries of our Director of Music Ministries, our accompanist, and our percusionist. Once you add all those things together (and a couple of smaller categories too, like, well, communion bread and grape juice!) you end up with a total that is about 40% of our budget.

That it is what you see on the Pie Chart this week on The Whiteboard, and that is what we'll be talking about in worship this coming Sunday -- Worship. We'll be talking about what it means, why we do it, why it is important, and we need to continue to support the worship ministries at FCC Scottsdale.

Next week I'll be adding the next category to The Whiteboard (Mission) and on November 9 the service will be built around it. Then on the week after that I'll update The Whiteboard with our third category (Ministry) and on November 16 we'll be talking about that. Finally, on November 23 we'll have our Dedication Sunday as we wrap up our Stewardship Campaign and turn over pledges to the glory of God.

It is going to be a lot of fun in the next few weeks church, because here is what a Narrative Budget really lets us do: Celebrating the stories of our church. We'll be talking about the incredible things that happen here at FCC Scottsdale and the ways that your tithes, offerings, and pledges help to make all of that happen. You won't want to miss a minute of it!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Whiteboard: Dare to Love Boldly

The Whiteboard is filled with my version of the logo for this weekend's Arizona Regional Assembly!

Our congregation, along with over 20 others from all over Arizona , will be part of the Ninety-fifth Regional Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Arizona this October 24th and 25th.

It is going to be a tremendous event. In fact, I am so sure that it will be a hit that I'm planning on preaching about it on Sunday morning...even though the event hasn't happened yet and won't even finish until Saturday evening!

Our Tucson hosts, First Christian and Capilla del Sol, have been busily preparing to welcome us to this regional gathering.

The Theme – Dare to Love Boldly! – promises to deliver both inspiration and challenge through preaching and informative workshops. Speakers Rebecca Hale, NBA Vice President for Mission and Ministry and Jose Morales, former Executive Regional Minister of the Central Rocky Mountain Region, are both dynamic speakers and won’t disappoint!

We also have the very talented Andra Moran providing music and leadership throughout the Assembly. Many of us have experienced her gifts – she has been a part of many General Assemblies and Quadrennial Assemblies over the past several years and recently served as the Music Leader at the National Pastor's Conference I attended in San Diego.

"With such a Hope as this we Act with Great Boldness" from 2 Corinthians 3:12 will serve as our guiding scripture passage. Our Assembly Planning Team has carefully considered these words as they have put together a variety of Workshops and Mission and Ministry Offerings. They want
us to think beyond our usual and comfortable places and move into those areas where the need for love and compassion is so great. Where God is calling us to respond.

Disciples from around Arizona and beyond will share in worship, fellowship, celebration and learning. So keep us in your prayers on Friday and Saturday and come join us for worship here at FCC Scottsdale on Sunday morning to hear all about it!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Whiteboard: Children's Sabbath

This Sunday we will celebrate the Children's Sabbath in our worship service!

Our children will be with us for the whole worship service which this Sunday will feature a Children's Sermon from Shirley B., a special prayer for All God's Children from Sandi D., and a special gathering area for our children and young people complete with blankets and cushions.

For folks who do not know about the Children's Sabbath here is brief excerpt from the Children's Defense Funds website:
Sponsored by the Children's Defense Fund, the National Observance of Children's Sabbaths Celebration is a way for faith communities to celebrate children as sacred gifts of the Divine, and provides the opportunity for houses of worship to renew and live out their moral responsibility to care, protect and advocate for all children."
Join us this Sunday for the Children's Sabbath and make sure to bring the children in your life (kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, next door neighbors...) so that they can celebrate this special worship service with us!


Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus Blesses Little Children

Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray.

The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.’ 

And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Whiteboard: Gifts of the Spirit

This Sunday we are talking about Spiritual Gifts.

In fact, we are doing more than talking about them!

Immediately following worship this Sunday we'll have a Spiritual Gifts Potluck Luncheon. Please bring your favorite potluck dinner item to share with the church, and come and enjoy some world-class eats as well as the kind of warm, loving fellowship that defines our congregation.

During that luncheon you'll have an opportunity to take a short Spiritual Gifts Assessment. This one-page, front-and-back assessment will allow you to learn a little bit more about the Spiritual Gifts that God has blessed you with.

You see, as people of faith we wholehearted believe that God has given each Christian one or more special abilities, which are to be used for the purpose of unifying the body of Christ and for the growth of God's Kingdom. These abilities are called spiritual gifts.Like other presents, it is impossible to fully appreciate and make use of our spiritual gifts until they have been opened. The self-assessment inventory will help us to begin doing just that!

Our worship service will be built around 1 Corinthians 12, where the Apostle Paul tells us about the variety of Spiritual Gifts that God can bless us with, and also details how each of us have unique gifts and unique roles to play. We do not all have the same gifts, but rather God has blessed us with a wide diversity and broad variety of Spiritual Gifts, each one of which can be used to further God's Kingdom.

Oh, and if you can't make it to worship this week, or if you can't stick around for the Potluck Luncheon we have plenty of extra Spiritual Gift Assessments that you can pick up from the church office so that you can be a part of the fun!


1 Corinthians 12 Spiritual Gifts

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says ‘Let Jesus be cursed!’ and no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. 

If the foot were to say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 

And if the ear were to say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body’, that would not make it any less a part of the body. 

If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? 

If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 

But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; then deeds of power, then gifts of healing, forms of assistance, forms of leadership, various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But strive for the greater gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

3 Things from Administrative Council

Administrative Council held their regularly scheduled meeting on Sunday September 21 immediately
following the Pumpkin Patch Information Session that immediately followed the Worship Service. As always, here are "The Three Things" you need to know from that meeting:

  1. Calendar Stuff!The Calendar is getting quite full at FCC Scottsdale. In the coming weeks we have:
    -- The Spiritual Gifts Potluck Luncheon on Sunday 9/28 in the Fellowship
    -- The Disciples 101 Class in the on 9/28 (immediately following the luncheon) in the Sanctuary.
    -- The first Keenagers Luncheon of the Season on 10/1 in the Fellowship Hall (featuring the music of the Rags Allen Band!)
    -- Girl's Nite Out on 10/7 in the Fellowship with special guest speaker, our very own Katie Ballentine!
    -- The Pumpkin Patch Delivery on 10/11
    -- The Membership Appreciation Luncheon on 10/19 (which will be feature the 2014 Chili Cook Off!)
  2. The Budget
    In advance of our upcoming Stewardship Campaign, Administrative Council reviewed the 2015 Budget Proposal. Our Finance Team (and particularly our Treasurer) has been working tirelessly to put all of our budget line items together to help us further our mission and ministry and continue our work of reaching out into our community with the good news of God's love!
  3. Regional AssemblyThe Arizona Regional Assembly will be held at First Christian Church Tucson on October 24 and 25. If you are interested in attending then come and talk to us in the Church Office and we'll get you all signed up. You can learn more about the Arizona Regional Assembly by visiting the website --