Category Archives: Wrapped

Love Spins

Back to Reach • Devotion #6: Love Spins
Brett Eberle | Tech Intern

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”    Matthew 28:19-20

You may have noticed that The River’s “reach, gather, grow” logo is in a circle and some of you may have even seen the one that spins. There is a purpose for that and it all falls under this idea of “back to reach.”  Once you have been reached, you will begin to gather with the saints and grow in the word. Then it is time for you to head out into the world and reach people with the same Gospel that grabbed hold of your life.

I realized that God was calling me into ministry about five years ago. When I realized my calling, I jumped into our student ministry with both feet, but there was a problem. A huge number of kids that I was trying to minister to and share the Gospel with came from homes that I could never imagine. I have amazing parents. They have both supported me through everything that I have done my entire life, and they have shown me what living for Christ is supposed to look like. I am more grateful to my parents than I could ever express for the life they have given me. However, it was this life that was making it so difficult for me to share the Gospel with my students.

It was my first year going to camp as a leader, and I was sitting and talking with one of the seventh grade boys who was in my cabin. He told me about his home life, and every word that he said will forever be seared into my brain. I had no idea how to relate to him, I did not know what it meant to deal with divorced and abusive parents. His story nearly broke me on the spot. I remember just sitting there in awe of what I had just heard. The next day I sat down with Pastor Jim and asked him how on earth I could help this young man. I was expecting some hugely deep theological answer, but that was not what I got. His directions were very simple; he said, “You have to love him.”

Jesus told us that the greatest commandment is to love God and to love each other. That is what back to reach is all about.  It is about spreading the same love of Christ that you received to anyone and everyone that you can. It does not matter where you are from or where they are from, what walk of life they are in or what walk of life you are in. We are called, as followers of Christ, to spread His love to “all nations.”


Get Your Hands Dirty

Back to Reach • Devotion #5: Get Your Hands Dirty
Michael Young | Student Ministry Intern

Being an avid moviegoer, I see many trends. One trend, in particular, is how they depict a certain character type. Look at leaders in movies across the board. Whether it is a king, emperor, gang leader, president, captain, or even business owner, they usually have the same characteristics. They have some fancy lair, castle, house, or whatever it may be. They usually have some look or style that separates them from the rest of the group. They have several followers catering to them, but most of all they do not get their hands dirty. While watching a lot of movies, I notice that the leaders (usually villains) never seem to get their hands dirty. That is, of course, until all easy tricks fail and they have no choice but to get their hands dirty. Then they say a cheesy line like “if you want it done right, you have got to do it yourself.” Yet, the point still stands, leaders never get into the grit and grime of day-to-day operations; they are “above it.” In the character’s background, they have done everything before, but now they have achieved leadership and a place to be proud. Working is beneath them. Their job is to give orders and never to do anything themselves.

Is this the case for you? Have you gotten to a place where serving is beneath you? Are certain jobs you have done in the past just not worthy of your time now? Look at Mark 10:43-45, “But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus tells His disciples that in Christianity the hierarchy will be different. Actually, it is completely upside down from the world. Leaders will be the servants, and no one is above this, even Christ came to serve. Pride can hinder us from this truth. No one is above serving and loving people; leadership will be known for its service. Pride may get in our way, but we are called to serve even when our hands might get dirty.

Secret Service

Back to Reach • Devotion #4: Secret Service
Michael Young | Student Ministry Intern

For my first year of college, I did not go away like most people would or wanted to do. I decided to do my first year online and help serve in the church as much as possible. I received a call one morning from a staff member who asked me, “If I was ready to serve?” I said, “Of course.”  He told me to be at the church around noon. He called at nine in the morning that left me several hours just to wait. The issue was that I had no clue what we were doing. He never gave me a hint of an idea. Well, time rolled by after a little while and I got to the church ready for this mystery task. I pulled into the parking lot, and he is already in a van ready to drive somewhere. I thought that maybe we are going to the hospital or some event because it is clearly not at the church. That has to be it; my mind was going through ideas. However, as I climbed into the van I looked in the back, and to my surprise, there were gardening tools. My brain could not connect the dots between serving and gardening. This was supposed to be serving. That day I learned serving does not come in a streamlined box, it comes in many shapes and sizes.  I spent the entire afternoon gardening someone’s yard that was not even home. It was hot and very boring pulling weeds for someone I did not know at all. I learned a lot about serving.

When it comes to serving, it does not always mean one thing. It is not always something you are comfortable with, or you are aware it is needed. Most of the time God works by not telling us what we are supposed to do, which leave us to just walk by faith. Serving is bigger than we can see. We do not know its purpose most of the time. It reminds me of a story in 1 Kings 17. Elijah is called to help the nation of Israel and get rid of the King Ahab. At the very moment Elijah speaks to the king, ravens are feeding him by a brook. It does not make a ton of sense. Elijah was speaking to the king; he had every chance to do something crazy cool. He was called to serve, and then he does the most random things serving the Lord. It is a real practical lesson for us; serving does not always mean being comfortable or knowing what it is. Serving is just what we are called to do.

Quick to Thought

Back to Reach • Devotion #3: Quick to Thought
Christopher Blodgett | Student Ministry Intern

John 9: 1-3
“As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ 3 Jesus answered, ‘It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.’”

Every week during the school year, our church busses in nearly 1,000 kids to our different locations to have a night filled with fun and then present the Gospel to them. Many of these kids are coming from broken, lost households. Most of these kids are missing a parent or both parents; many are involved in drug addiction or other addictions of some sort. This is what we, as a church, would call our outreach group. Most of these are people do not know Jesus Christ. A group of kids this size and this diverse can really start to test our patience. It is so easy for us to expect these kids to live and act how we Christians do. We get this mindset that because we are bringing them to the church building they should not be any problem to us, but often we are so quick to point out a kid’s sin and disregard them.

However, this is not at all what Jesus would want us to do. In John 9, we read a story about how Jesus heals a man who was born blind. When Jesus was walking through the city of Jerusalem, he stumbles across a blind man. Right as He sees the blind man Jesus’ disciples are quick to ask, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents…?” Jesus’ disciples quickly came to the conclusion that the only reason this man was blind was because of his sins. Jesus responded to them, “It is not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

So many times in life we are like the disciples, we see an outreach person and quickly pick out their sins, but that is not what we are to do. The reason God has put these people in our lives is to see the good works of God through these people. The struggling, addicted, broken people are all part of Gods wonderful creation, and He is putting them in our life to see God’s work, not to judge.

God can work in anyone’s life no matter what stage that person is in. There are so many people in our lives that we have pushed away because we think that they are too far gone or that God cannot save them. We know that He sent His Son to die on the cross for ALL of our sins so that then may be forgiven.

Today, think of someone that you have pushed out of your life because you did not think the good works of God could be displayed on him or her. Commit to pray for this person that God may become a part their life, and if you are feeling ambitious try inviting them to some of our outreach events!


Back to Reach • Devotion #2: Duplication
Jared Bruder | Growth Intern

To this point, if you have been keeping up with this devotional book as well as the sermons being preached, you have covered reach, gather, and grow. Now is the time to understand that being a Christian does not end there. The process must be duplicated. We call this step, “Back to reach.” This is not simply starting the process over again but, “back to reach” is a step all its own.

“Back to reach” is teaching Christians how to reach others. In the Bible, Paul taught young Timothy, and one of the last instructions Paul gave him was, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). The final instruction was not only to apply what he had been taught, but it also was to teach others what he had been taught. As Christians, we are to do the same.

Many at times feel they are unqualified to teach others. They say that they do not know the Bible well enough, or they do not know what to say. You might be in that mindset right now. Know this; we have all been there at some point. If you do not know where to start, simply start with Salvation. Think back to when you first became a believer. Can you explain to someone how to know for sure that he or she is going to Heaven? If not, here is your first lesson on how to reach others.


Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Sin is anything we think say or do that breaks God’s law. This means we are separated from God.

Romans 6:23  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Because of sin, we have broken God’s law and the penalty (wages) of sin is death. However, Jesus paid that penalty for us, and we are told it is a free gift.

Romans 10:9-10 “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

Simply and truthfully believe that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection has paid for your sins, confesses that He is Lord, and you will be saved.

“Lord I believe that you died for me. And I believe that you rose again. I pray right here and now that you would save me from my sins and come into my life and be my God. In Jesus name, I pray.  Amen!”

That is how one is saved, and this is how it can be explained. Use this model to reach others and thus complete the process of reach, gather, grow, and then back to reach.

Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 |

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