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Posted on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 under Weekend Expression 4

A little over a year ago we started loading up our Southland Instagram with photos of people getting baptized. Everything we do around here is to help people see Jesus and move toward following him, so why not show pictures of that life transformation?

Earlier today I was going through our shots from last year's Easter baptism events and came across the photo above. I just stared at it for a minute and let it sink in—#FORGIVEN. I realized there's so much power in that small word. If you've ever done something to hurt someone else, you know the weight that's lifted when you hear them say "I forgive you." And if you've ever had to forgive someone of something, you know the power that forgiveness has to rebuild relationships and mend broken hearts. But the forgiveness that comes from Jesus goes even deeper.

His is a forgiveness that brings hope out of hopelessness, joy out of sorrow, and new life out of what looked like ashes. Jesus' forgiveness is something that can make a grown man come up out of the water, fists raised in the air, and celebrate even more than if his team had just won the NCAA national championship (which hopefully, after next week, will have happened!). That's why I love our Instagram photos. They're a picture of what happens when you're forgiven of everything you've ever done. They're a picture of what happens when someone realizes the slate has been wiped clean. For that moment, before life kicks back into high gear, you see the true freedom that people experience when they take the plunge to follow Jesus with their lives.

You want to know the most beautiful thing about Jesus' forgiveness, though? He makes it so easy...He offers it to anyone that's willing to just ask for it and follow Him! And this weekend, you have a chance to experience that type of forgiveness and celebrate with the hundreds of others that will be experiencing it! No need to sign up ahead of time. Just bring a towel, a pair of shoes you wouldn't mind getting wet, and come ready to jump into the water during one of the times below. And if you've been wrestling with the question of whether you should get baptized, check out our baptism page for some great resources and answers to some of the questions you may be asking. 

I hope to see you there! 

Justin Meeker
Communications Director

Parent Sneak Preview - April 4/5

Posted on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 under Children Expression 3

We believe parents make the biggest difference in their child’s faith. That’s why we want your kids to hear the Big Picture Show Bible story first from you!  
This week:
  1. Read the story.
  2. Talk about the Big Idea.
  3. Memorize the Bible verse.
Animation Station
Bible Story:  Easter (Matthew 28:1-10 NIrV)
Big Idea:  Jesus is Alive
Bible Verse:  “He was buried, and He was raised from the dead on the third day…” - 1 Corinthians 15:4 NIrV
The Drive-In
Bible Story:  Jesus rose from the grave (Matthew 28:1-10 NIrV)
Big Idea:  With Jesus you are never stuck
Bible Verse:  “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.”  - Psalm 118:6 NIrV
The Backlot
Bible Story:  Jesus rose from the grave (Matthew 28:1-10 NIrV)
Big Idea:  The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid
Bible Verse:  "The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.” - Psalm 118:6 NIrV

Jason Byerly
Children's Pastor

So Glad you Came!

Posted on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 under Expression 1

Thank you for worshipping with us this weekend! Especially if this was your first time, we are so glad you were here. It is the aim of our Guest Experience team to extend hospitality and a warm welcome to everyone.
We value you and deeply desire for you to have a great experience. We look forward to your next visit and are willing to assist in any way throughout the week, too. Please do not hesitate to let us know how we can serve you!
We would love to meet you and offer up a FREE coffee, simply contact me. Or, stop by Connection Point at the next service you attend!

Michelle Frank
Guest Experience Director - Harrodsburg Road

Bible Certificate Program Update

Posted on Fri, Mar 27, 2015

We’ve been so excited to hear that 186 of you were interested in the Bible Certificate Program at Southland University! We were blown away by the response and wanted to give you a few more details and make sure everyone gets an opportunity to sign up!

The Bible Certificate Program is a partnership between Southland and Cincinnati Christian University (CCU) which offers a series of higher level Bible learning experiences. Participants work toward completion of a certificate in Theology and Bible Doctrine. CCU faculty, teaching at Southland, will offer an accurate and relevant study of Scripture which will change the way you live out the truths of the Bible. What does the certificate mean? It’s not a degree. It’s not a coupon for a free coffee at our Cafe’. It’s just proof that you put in the work and have a greater understanding of what happens between Genesis and Revelation.

We'll be offering six classes over the course of three years which will cover the basics of the Old and New Testament, as well as theological concepts in Scripture. These classes are set on a college level, a step beyond what we normally teach through Southland Bible Studies.

Here’s what the entire program entails:

  • The Bible Certificate Program takes place over three years. You must complete six courses in those three years. Each course will consist of six sessions. Within each course, you will only be allowed two absences. If you aren’t able to attend an entire BCP course, elective courses will be offered. You may participate in up to two electives over the three years to satisfy program requirements.
  • The cost of each course is $10 for a total of $60 over the three years. That covers materials and a portion of the professors’ expenses. If that cost is a problem, a limited number of scholarships may be available.
  • After each course there will be a comprehension paper due from each student. Each paper will be graded as pass/fail to determine whether credit is gained.

If you think you’d be interested, be sure to check out the Southland University page. The first class starts Thursday, April 16, from 6:30-8pm at the Richmond Road campus in Parkside Theater. If you’re ready to sign up, you can register here for the first class. The $10 fee is due at registration.

No childcare will be provided for this class.

Thanks again for your interest!

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

Bringing Easter to Life for Your Family

Posted on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 under Expression 3

I don’t know about you, but my family has had a blast with March Madness this year.  Not only is it exciting to see the Cats have such an unbelievable season, it’s been twice as much fun just sharing that excitement with my kids.  They dress in blue and white for school spirit days and bust out their UK pompoms to cheer at home.  It’s just cool to share in this season together.
But as exciting as March Madness is this year, there is another championship celebration we do not want to miss as a family.  Easter is only days away, and it is the ultimate day of celebration for those of us who follow Jesus.  As a dad, Easter is more awesome than ever for me because I get to share it with my kids.  
Here are some fantastic tools available to help your family engage with Easter like never before. Whether you’re at home or on the road for Spring Break, these resources will help you make sure your kids don’t miss the wonder of the empty tomb.
This video from Phil Vischer’s What’s In the Bible series is a great overview of the big story of the Bible culminating in Jesus’ resurrection.  It really puts Easter in perspective.  If you don’t have a Right Now Media account, Southland families can sign up here for free.   
The Bible App for Kids is a great tool for families of preschoolers (although elementary kids love it too).  It’s a highly interactive and engaging way to bring the Bible to life for your kids and you can download the Easter story for free.  
Here are eight hands-on activities that are especially good for active kids.  Each devo has a short Bible passage, a quick thought to share and an activity for kids to do to make that Bible passage memorable.  
Easter Egg Hunts
In the past, one of our Easter traditions at Southland included an Easter Egg Hunt at our Harrodsburg Road campus.  However, as we’ve added campuses, we’ve realized there are better ways to invest in both our church family and reach out to the community.  
This year we will not be hosting an Easter Egg Hunt at the Harrodsburg Road campus, but will be encouraging families to:
  1. Get out in the community and attend one of the city’s egg hunts.  Use this as a time to build relationships with other families who don’t attend Southland and invest in them.  Here are a few options:

    Keeneland Kids’ Club Easter Egg Hunt
    , March 29th, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
    Wilmore Community Egg Hunt
    , April 4th, 10:00 a.m.
    Kentucky Horse Park Hippety Hoppety Hunt
    (for campers only), Sat, April 4th, 11:00 a.m.
    You could even host your own neighborhood Easter egg hunt.  This is great way to get to know the families on your street.
  2. Join us for our annual Spring Family Picnic at Harrodsburg Road.  We are investing even more this year into the picnic for all ages (including some special attractions just for Nursery kids) so that the entire family can come together.  This is also a great event to invite your unchurched friends to attend with you.
  3. Support the Nicholasville Serve the City Easter Egg Hunt that will be held Tuesday, April 7th. You can donate plastic eggs and peanut-free candy at the offices in Building A at the Harrodsburg Road campus.  If you have questions about donations or how you can help, contact Janelle.
  4. Invite some friends to attend Easter services with you at Southland this year.  Our Big Picture Show Children’s Ministry will be hosting some incredible services for kids that would be an awesome way to introduce a new family to Southland.  
Whatever you do, don’t miss this great opportunity to make some special memories and celebrate together with your family.  

Jason Byerly
Children's Pastor

Parental Guidance

Posted on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 under Expression 3

When I was in preschool, I hated church.  You see, I suffered from what some now call “Separation Anxiety”, but in the early 70s, I was diagnosed with being a brat.  My Sunday School teacher, who just happened to be our pastor’s wife, did not have much compassion for my anxiety so she would put me, this cute little screaming fella, out in the hallway on a wooden chair where I was told not to move and to learn to be quiet.  

Thanks to Mrs. Duncan and her soothing ways, I hated church as a kid, but when I became a children’s minister 20 years later, I worked to make church a fun place that kids would want to come to.  I made sure all wooden chairs disappeared!

My disdain for church didn’t keep my parents from involving me in church.  And thankfully, when I was old enough to be involved in youth ministry, it stuck.  I found my place, and Jesus, in what we now call student ministries and my life was forever changed.  If my parents had given in to my grumblings, I’d have missed out.  But my parents were awesome.  They did the hard stuff and I will be forever grateful.

If you’re a parent, one of the most evangelistic things you can do is involve your kids in church, even if they hate it.  Just hang in there.  Be faithful.  Be diligent.  Be supportive.  Be involved.  Be courageous.  Be persistent.  Be informed.  You can’t go wrong by being sure your kid is involved in the Big Picture Show and Student Ministries.

If you’re not a parent, one of the coolest things you can do is get involved with our Children's and Student Ministries by serving or praying for kids to have a relationship with Jesus.

At Southland, hundreds of children and students are baptized every year.  This is something we should celebrate. This happens because parents and ministries partner together to radically invest in the next generation.  There are also thousands of kids within reach of our campuses who may never step foot in church without our prayers and intentionality.  This is something we should get serious about.

Commit to praying once a week for children and students to find their place and Jesus in the best Children's and Student ministries on the planet.  

Chris Hahn
Lead Executive Pastor

One Defining Moment

Posted on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 under Expression 3

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in a college basketball arena in Carbondale, Illinois during the summer after my freshman year of High School. I was away from home and away from all the pressures and distractions of my life as a high school student and there I had my first real encounter with God. It was a defining moment in my life where I understood that I was loved by God and was created by him to serve a purpose. This also happened to be a part of one of the most fun and memorable weeks of my life: a Christ In Youth (CIY) summer event.
We partner with CIY for our summer camp experience at Southland. They understand that middle school and high school students need an environment where they can play hard but continue to be challenged and grow in their relationship with God in an exciting and unique way. Students grow stronger in their friendships, tighter in their sense of community, and deeper in their appreciation of worship. CIY events are unique in the way they create environments where the Holy Spirit is not only present, but can be heard loud and clear by students who are otherwise distracted by the noise of the world.
Don’t give your middle school or high school student a reason this summer to be able to say, “I’m sooooooo bored!” or “I didn’t do anything this summer!” Get them signed up for CIY MIX (Middle School - June 15-19) or CIY MOVE (High School - June 27-July 3). It could be the defining moment in their life where they have their first real encounter with God that could change the course of their life forever! 

Eric Schneider
Student Ministry Director / High School Leader - Richmond Road

Parent Sneak Preview - March 28/29

Posted on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 under Children Expression 3

We believe parents make the biggest difference in their child’s faith. That’s why we want your kids to hear the Big Picture Show Bible story first from you!  
This week:
  1. Read the story.
  2. Talk about the Big Idea.
  3. Memorize the Bible verse.
Animation Station
Bible Story:  Parade into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11 - NIrV)
Big Idea:  Jesus is the King
Bible Verse: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord.” - Luke 19:38a NIrV
The Drive-In
Bible Story:  All good things come from God, including our money (1 Chronicles 29:10-14 - NIrV)
Big Idea:  Friends of Jesus use their money in good ways
Bible Verse:  “Everything comes from God.” - 1 Chronicles 29:14 NIrV
The Backlot
Bible Story:  Parable of the Lost Coins (Luke 15:8–10 & Acts 2:42–47 - NIrV)
Big Idea:  The church is called to spread order out of chaos.
Bible Verse:  “So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” -  Matthew 28:19-20 NIrV

Jason Byerly
Children's Pastor

Relating Over Relaying

Posted on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 under Expression 4

How do you relate with people? Often we relate with people around movies, hobbies, and history—some sort of commonality. But do we ever simply relate with someone based on their unique story? 
Over the last few months I’ve been reading quite a bit of classical literature. Each book has helped me relate with the characters and what they represent. This endeavor has helped me understand a valuable principle in relating to people—people whom I hope to one day share the truth about Jesus. It has helped me to grow in the area of empathy toward others.
One popular line I picked up from the book To Kill a Mockingbird was: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Now, at first glance, that may sound a bit weird or even a little serial-killer-ish. If you’re going to learn how to relate with people you’ve got to try to see life through their perspective—their particular experiences, circumstances and makeup. It may take a few questions and a little curiosity, but in the end you will start to understand the unique story of the person. You will start to relate to them.  
As Christians, we want to communicate Jesus as the hope of the world. More often than not, we opt to talk more than we listen. We relay more than we relate. We want to communicate the Gospel (the good news about Jesus) before helping them understand what makes it so good for them. I believe this style of evangelism has almost become extinct. It’s not that it doesn’t ever work. It’s just not as effective. The word “empathy” comes to mind once again. Maybe we have to first take a lesson from the Classics and climb into the other person’s skin and walk around in it. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.

Dave Rizer
Life Groups / Guest Experience Leader - Danville

Southland University

Posted on Sat, Mar 21, 2015

In the next few weeks, we’re starting a new season in the area of Spiritual growth that I’m incredibly excited about. We’re launching an initiative called Southland University. The first stop in this new strategy is our Bible Certificate Program.

The Bible Certificate Program offers a series of higher level Bible learning, in which participants work toward completion of a certificate in Theology and Bible Doctrine. We’re bringing in professors from Cincinnati Christian University to offer an accurate and relevant study of scripture which will bring a greater depth of impact to your daily life. What does the certificate mean? It’s not a degree. It’s not a coupon for a free coffee at our cafe. It’s just proof that you put in the work and have a vast understanding of what happens between Genesis and Revelation.

These classes will be a step above what we normally teach around Southland. And to get credit for the class, you’ll even have to complete a bit of homework. Homework?! You betcha! It’s not the ditto-worksheets-and-ask-your-mom-for-help kind of homework. It’s just a simple essay at the end of each course to express your comprehension of the topic.

We'll be offering six classes over the course of three years that will be taught by professors from Cincinnati Christian University. These classes will cover all the basics of Old and New Testament, as well as Theological concepts in Scripture.

If you think you’d be interested, be sure to check out the Southland University page and sign up for updates. If you’re unclear about what the program entails, shoot me an email or give me a call. I’m so excited to begin this at Southland and would love to talk to you about it!

Derrick Purvis
Formation Pastor

If I Could Read Women’s Minds

Posted on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 under Expression 4

In the 2000 movie (wow, has it been 15 years?!) “What Women Want,” actor Mel Gibson plays a character named Nick Marshall who, through a freak accident, is given the ability to read women’s minds. As a man with a wife, a daughter, three sisters and a host of strong women who are or have been a part of my life, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be able to read women’s minds!
When I was thinking about our upcoming Women’s step study at the Richmond Road Campus, I wondered, “What might women say about this incredible, life-changing experience?” Instead of trying to read their minds, I simply asked them. Here’s what I heard in response:
  • “This study will be the most freeing experience of your Christian walk.”
  • You will uncover emotional baggage that you never knew existed, and give it to the Lord to experience freedom that you never knew you could have.”
  • You will meet several ladies that will say “me too” to your story. You will never feel alone or condemned for what you’ve done or for what has been done to you.”
I am no mind reader, but I’d guess that every woman wants that kind of experience and that kind of life. The women’s step study will lead towards greater freedom, joy, and community than one could ever imagine.
Women, I hope you and your friends will join in with the new step study on Sundays, beginning Sunday, April 12 at 9:20 AM on the Richmond Rd Campus in classroom located near the Cafe. 
Have any questions, contact Adaryll

Adaryll Jordan
Care Leader -Richmond Road

Sonlight Ministries

Posted on Fri, Mar 20, 2015 under Expression 4

Sonlight Ministries in Port De Paix, Haiti has been a Southland Global partner for many years. Sonlight was started over 30 years ago by Roger and Norma Alexander. The really amazing thing about Sonlight is that the entire Alexander family is involved in this ministry—something you don’t see in many international missions ministries. When traveling to Sonlight you will feel like you are a part of the family.
Roger Alexander is always around and very busy overseeing and participating in a number of projects. Norma, Roger's wife, attends to the household chores and acts as a grandmother to all the grandchildren and kids at Sonlight Academy. The Alexander's children are all involved in teaching at the academy and at Sonlight Bible College. 
Sonlight Ministries has had a huge impact in the lives of so many children through Sonlight Academy. Along with the Alexanders there are other teachers: Jon Wessel, Megan Baird, Tara Hibbs, and Ryan and Catherine King.  
Southland is sending a team to help at the academy and the community in various ways.  Please consider going and serving at Sonlight and spreading a revolution of love by generously extending hope to the great folks in Haiti. For more information about trips to Sonlight checkout Southland's Global Missions page or contact Lizz Kunz or Mark Perraut.

Lizz Kunz
Global Outreach Logistics Leader

Letting Your Life Talk

Posted on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 under Expression 1

1 Peter 3:13- 17 says,  “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!
A lot of us are years removed from what we would call “peer pressure.” Truthfully though, I think many of us still live in that place where we put too much value on the opinions of those around us. We’ve grown up and shortened the phrase to “pressure.” Pressure to be a certain way in the work environment. Pressure to send our kids to school where everyone else does. Pressure to go to the right college or graduate school. Who are we kidding? Pressure to just finish school! Pressure to do what other people around us are doing. Pressure to look a certain way. Pressure. Lots of pressure.
I appreciate the question Peter asks in verse 13, “Now who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?” The truth is, there will be plenty of people. In a world where no one wants to be told what’s right and wrong—where we prefer shades of gray (pun intended)—those who live by a moral code or by truth will be talked about and potentially even viewed as strange. People will attempt to harm you by leaving you out or by joking around about what you believe. I use the word harm “loosely”, but the point is they will separate you. Ironically, sometimes people around us make a bigger deal out of our Christianity than we do.
What if we took to heart the last lines of the verses above? It appears that the way we live our lives—the way we “talk” without speaking—can help people “see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” While it may be easier to just blend in, God is saying, “Stand out—even if it means being noticed as different.”
Press through the moments when you feel like you stick out like a sore thumb. You will be the one people look for when they need to pick someone up to take with them on the journey when life gets hard. There have been many times I’ve been the one left out of the “good times” of people around me only to be the first call from those same people when life gets hard. In those moments, you have the opportunity to speak into people in a way they have never been able to hear before.
The verse above tells us “if someone asks you about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” We live right, even when we don’t fit in, because that right-living speaks louder than our words, but also paves the road to the opportunity to use our words to tell others about Christ. God is so smart. “God will reward you” for any suffering you endure for “doing right.”  All the times of making right choices will set you up to speak about God and explain your hope. This is letting your life talk so that when your mouth speaks, people listen, and believe.

Amanda Carter
Worship Leader

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