Pumpkin Killing 2015 Recap

by Element Christian Church
Happy New Year Element! As we do some house cleaning around here, enjoy this video from our Pumpkin Killing this past year that slipped through the cracks of being posted online!

Advent Week 5: Christ

by Element Christian Church
Join us Thursday night as we celebrate what we've been anticipating during our Advent Journey, Christ has come! Our Christmas Eve Services which will be at 7, 9 & 11pm. Childcare through age 5 is available at our 7pm service only. We hope Christmas Eve Services will be a time of loud joy as our Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace are found in this baby, lying in a manger, that grew up and died, rose, reigns forevermore.

Advent Week 4: Peace

by Aaron

I honestly don’t know where or how to begin writing this blog, as I think that no matter what I say, someone will take offense to it. That is what is wrong in much of our country—we are far too easily offended because we see ourselves in God’s place. What I mean by that is we want everyone to listen to our own opinions and not have their own; when others have their own opinions, we want them to keep quiet.
 
I currently have a few friends on Facebook, but really two of them come to mind as I write this blog. One is ultra-conservative (which doesn’t always equate to biblical) and every half hour they are posting something about refugees or guns. I have another friend who is ultra-liberal (which doesn’t always equate to biblical), thinks Bernie Sanders is like the second coming, and every half hour they are posting something about refugees or guns. Both of these friends believe in Jesus, would confess His name in a heartbeat, would say they are surrendered to God’s Holy Spirit in their lives, and yet they couldn’t be more different in all areas but one: they have both, on many occasions, put their cultural/social preferential feelings above the Gospel of Jesus (as we all tend to do).
 
They would both deny it, and I am sure I will get 2 emails/phone calls/texts when this blog hits (if they can pull themselves out of the latest news and Facebook cycles long enough to read it). I see both of them, and many of us, living in anything but peace today because we are so focused on our individual feelings of insecurity and fear (sometimes we call these “rights”).
 
The thing that is supposed to offend us, according the scriptures, is the call of the Cross of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18 and Galatians 5:11). Even while reading that last sentence, a person who places conservativism above Jesus will think, “Yeah, that’s why those liberals are so offended…they don’t understand the truth, like Jesus.” Likewise, someone who places liberalism above the Gospel will read the same sentence and think, “Yeah, that’s why those conservatives are so offended…they don’t know how to love correctly, like Jesus.”
 
Charles Spurgeon once said in his message “The Offense of the Cross” (all the way back in 1898), “The offense of the cross lies, first, in the way in which it deals with all human wisdom.” (you can read the entire sermon here) Until we realize that our wisdom is rubbish outside of the call of Christ, we will forever be chasing peace and never achieving it. Peace comes from the knowing and following Jesus. That is one of the main messages of Advent and Christmas--that our God has sought us on our best days, our worst days, and our days that are so embarrassing we wish we could have a “do-over.” God is the one who seeks the lost. The lost, by the way, includes Muslims, conservatives, liberals, pacifists, illegal immigrants, born natives, naturalized citizens, the KKK, the NAACP, the NRA, and any other acronym you want to throw at it. We, the people who live on planet earth, are the lost. We all have one thing in common, the need for Jesus to save us not from each other, but from ourselves, our own wisdom, and our sin.
 
There are people in our world today that follow religions that want to kill others, but we must understand that those people who do the killing are known by God, loved by God, and are just as broken as we are. Knowing they are broken should not keep us from stopping them and protecting others, but it should give us some compassion for their lost state. Our prayer should be that we would all see the world as Jesus does, not the way we do. Until we realize the offense of the cross is meant for us, we will continue the cycle of violence (many times with our words instead of guns). Until we come to truly surrender ourselves to the wisdom of Jesus first, the Gospel will not be fully proclaimed and taught through our lives.
 
Don’t get me wrong in anything I am saying. My wife and I go to the gun range to practice so we could stop someone if needed. I believe the scriptures teach personal responsibility, hard work, private property rights, the protection of those who cannot protect themselves (most specifically the unborn), and the beauty and truth of family. I believe the scriptures teach that human beings should be honored and cared for no matter if they are foreigners or natives, that the outrageous charging of interest is sin, and God calls all of us to treat others with dignity and respect. But I also believe no one will be changed by preaching “family,” or “personal responsibility,” or “hard work;” people will be changed by preaching Jesus. Jesus is the one who changes hearts and lives so let’s preach Him first.
 
When it comes down to it, our differing views will never lead to peace unless Jesus is first in our lives. Think about this…in John 13:35, Jesus says, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus doesn’t say if you agree with one another on everything; He says by how you LOVE one another. This could be how you disagree, how you think about what you post before you post it online, and how we think first with a Gospel mindset above a cultural one.
 
Jesus came to bring peace. Let’s be peacemakers—not defined by our world’s standards—but by Jesus’. Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

Truly, He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace
-O Holy Night

Advent Week 3

by Mike Harman
As we continue through our Advent journey, we thought weekly blog posts would serve as a reminder as to why we are doing what we are doing. In the scriptures the prophets are constantly looking forward to the coming Messiah. Like they looked forward to the coming of the Savior, we too look forward and anticipate Jesus coming again to bring culmination to His work of redemption and restoration.  The pain, suffering, sin, sickness, brokenness and decay that we see and experience in our everyday lives remind us that something is not right.
  • Based on the incarnation and resurrection of Jesus we have hope, that God will not rest from His redemptive work until every aspect of creation has been made new and every vestige of sin removed, (Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.).
  • We know God’s love by remembering that Jesus came for us while we were broken and lost because God loves us. (Romans 5:8…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.)
  • We have a joy that is not based on our circumstances, but an understanding of the sovereignty of God. (1Peter 1:8 Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.),
  • We get to live in peace that passes understanding because we now have peace with God. We are no longer cut off from Him. (Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.)
As a people living in this time between the incarnation of Jesus and his second coming, we celebrate God’s breaking into history in the person of Jesus. We anticipate Jesus’ return when He comes and wraps up redemptive history, completing God’s mission of redemption and restoration. During this time we have the opportunity and privilege to trust Jesus, live in faith as those who live in gospel community, and to live on mission to make disciples, who make disciples, loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, mind and strength.
 
Happy Advent!

Advent Week 2

by Mike Harman
Jesus came for God’s mission, God’s ultimate Glory. Part of God getting glory is how He brings redemption and restoration through His life, death, and resurrection.
 
Redemption is the freedom gained through Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins so that we might be reconciled to God, escaping His eternal judgment and wrath. In Jesus we become freed from enslavement to death, now we can live life from heart that have been renewed and made alive. Our lives now live in obedience and sacrifice through the grace and mercy we’ve experienced. (Colossians 1:13-14 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.)
 
Restoration is the aspect of God’s mission to restore His purpose, design, order, and intent of creation that was marred and broken through our sinful rebellion and idolatry. God is at work to restore, making all things new, even us, so that we will accurately reflect Him as we are created in His image. (1Peter 5:10  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.)
 
Because of the redemption and restoration that we have, and are experiencing, we like Jesus should be focused on, and engaged in, God’s mission (GO BLESS). (2 Corinthians 5:18-20  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation’ that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us.)  
 
As ambassadors of God we now get to represent Jesus to our world by incarnating Him by how we live. We are called to be a people who exemplify biblical Hope, Love, Peace and Joy.
 
This week pray that God would use you in the lives of those who are lost, to speak the truth of the gospel into lives that have been alienated from God. We hope a better understanding of Advent teaches us all to live in such a way that we are turning community into gospel community, seeing God’s order and design restored as the lost are rescued and redeemed and communities are healed. (Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.)

Advent: Week 1 - Hope

by Element Christian Church

We have started our Advent Journey and are in Week One: Hope! 
Pick up your Advent Booklets This Sunday, or download our pdf version here!

Come across a word you're not familiar with? Refrence our FAQ and Terms/Definitions on pages 4-8!
And don't forget we have family devotions on page 30 for this week. 


Christmas For Kids 2016

by Element Christian Church

Christmas For Kids Ministry needs volunteers to take children shopping for Christmas and to commit to being part of an ongoing ministry to these children during 2017.
 


What: We want to reach out to children in our community of friends and neighbors who may not have a Christmas without our support.  This isn’t about purchasing gifts, it is about offering relationship, building trust, and demonstrating Jesus’ love to hurting families or those who may not know Him. 

When:  Our kickoff Christmas breakfast and shopping spree will be Saturday, December 17 at 8:30am, beginning at Element.  We ask that you pair with your GC, Women’s Ministry member, or other Element members to continue throughout 2017 ministering and building relationship with the children (see attached brochure).

Why:  Christmas for Kids began at Element 8 years ago to assist children who need assistance but do not receive government or other charitable organization Christmas gifts.  The ministry has grown but we have not seen solid relationships built, which is why we are expanding with a focus that extends throughout 2017.  We are asking Element to commit to growing this ministry beyond just a one day shopping event.  We want to make a difference in these children’s lives and in our communities.

We really can't do this every year without your generous donations. You can write a check and and turn it in at the small Christmas Tree at the Welcome Center, or donate online here.

Download our Brochure with ways to get involved with Christmas For Kids! and ways to be involved in kid's lives through out the next year!

If you have questions or family recommendations, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Supporting GoBags

by Trevor Carpenter
"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" (Matthew 25:40 ESV)

Take a moment to envision with me a common experience in any city in the US.

You're in middle school and come home from school to find someone from Child Protective Services (CPS) and a police officer waiting for you. They tell you that your single parent made a mistake, and you're going to have to go with CPS so that they can find you a safe place to sleep tonight.

Situations like this happen often, but there other times when the situation has no criminal or law enforcement element.

A teenager might have the wherewithal to know what to grab on the way out of the house. But what if it's a crime scene now, and you cannot even enter your own home? What if all you have is your backpack for school and a skateboard?

Here in the Santa Maria Valley, we have this outreach that helps prepare people like the CPS staff with the most basic of items that they can have ready for situations just like this. They call them GoBags.



At Element, we've helped put together these GoBags in the past, and we're doing it again. During the month of November, after each service, there will be a table set up where you can get any questions answered, and pick up a large zip lock bag with all the instructions. You can choose between making up a bag for an infant, toddler, school-aged child, or a teenager. 

All we ask is that you go purchase the items on the list and return the bags to us within the month of November. These are regular items that you would need to make that first few nights not as bad as it could have been. The list has common items for their first nights such as: Pajamas, a Toothbrush, Socks, a Blanket, and a small toy or coloring book. We ask that these are new items for safety and hygiene reasons.

Then just bring the filled bag, along with the original instruction card, to the GoBag booth before or after the service you attend.

Again, we’ll be doing this all of November. Please take the time to consider how supporting children with GoBags can and does impact our community here in the Santa Maria Valley.

"But Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.'” (Matthew 19:14 ESV)

Agape Thanksgiving Dinners - November 22nd

by Element Christian Church



As we mentioned two weeks ago, Advent is just around the corner. Advent means arrival, coming into a place, or even coming into being. We want to take a concentrated look during the Christmas season about what the arrival of Jesus meant, and still means, to all of us.
 
We want to encourage all of you to join us on Sunday, November 22nd for a shared meal in people’s homes as we kick off our Christmas Advent Season. This will be a Thanksgiving type dinner with a time of reflection and joyful celebration.
 
The dinners we have done on past years during the month of November are called Agape meals. Agape is a Greek word for love that was used to translate a Hebrew word for love that was only ascribed to God in the Old Testament. In the New Testament we are told that we are first given love by God in order to love like God loves. Agape dinners are designed to encourage people to see that a dinner in, and surrounded by, community is not a one-time yearly event, but a symbol of Jesus in our daily lives as we are united and growing as His disciples in grace and love.
 
Just like the Agape meals encourage us to share the love of Jesus year round, so Advent does the same thing. Advent reminds us that Jesus’ incarnation was not just good news for those that lived 2000 years ago, it is also good news for us today.
 
This year we are combining the kick off of Advent and the Agape meals together in order to better understand God’s grace as we live with one another.  We will hand out Advent journey guides at these meals so we can all take this ride together. We will have several host homes throughout Santa Maria, Lompoc and Nipomo and would love for you to join in.
 
If you are not comfortable joining one of our Gospel Communities for a meal, we would still encourage you, at the start of Advent, to grab some journey guides, invite your family and/or neighbors over for a meal and spend time with them, getting to know them better.

Signup here to join a Gospel Community/Host Home 

Coming Soon To An Element Near You

by Element Christian Church
This year at Element we are doing something we have never attempted, we are celebrating a season of the church calendar called Advent. This will be arriving to you in the form of an Advent booklet that we have been painstakingly putting together for the last few months. On November 22nd we will all take this Advent journey together as a church. It will start in a time of sober reflection that should (and will, in our case) lead to a time of loud joy.
 


Advent takes place over the four weeks that lead up to Christmas, with each week being a reflection of Christmas (Christ’s) fulfillment. Why are we doing Advent this year? I would love to explain.
 
As a culture, even in churches, we tend to forget what Christmas truly entails. We buy gifts, run to parties, eat too much, possibly drink too much, and when Christmas is over we feel the presence of Christ less than when we started. This should never happen as the point of Christmas is Jesus, the word Christmas even starts with “Christ.”
 
So, prepare the way…and prepare yourselves. There will be more coming.
 
Advent 2015

Ch…Ch…Ch….Changes

by Christie Marangi
I have to admit, I love change.  For those of you who haven’t heard, Children’s and Youth ministry here at Element are going through some changes.  Our beloved Youth Director, James, is flying out of the nest and spreading his wings (like one of his many animal t-shirts, he has to own an eagle one, right?). He will be heading to Washington, and as a result of that flight, we are taking this time to do something that we’ve been contemplating for a long time, merging the Children’s and Youth ministries under one heading:
 


This is an exciting time, and the best decision for our church (in my humble opinion), but I’d be lying if I didn’t say change is hard and nerve wracking. First of all, who wants to try to fill James’ shoes? Certainly not me, that’s why I’m not even going to try. We have amazing leaders in the youth program, and that isn’t changing. The relationships your kids have developed will stay constant.
 
And the Junior High?  They’ll still get to do all those weird youth games on Sunday morning just like always (even the ones I don’t understand, like the Goldfish Game). There will still be service projects, Music, and Youth Trips. ? Check. Thursdays? Check.
 
The things that are changing are all for the better.  We want to turn ministry to families on its head.  We want you, as parents to be empowered to teach your kids spiritual truths, and then turn to Element for support in that job.  That’s how God laid it out in Deuteronomy 6:6-9  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
 
As Element itself focuses on Gospel Communities, eFamilies will be placing a large emphasis on Student Communities.  At Element we want to, "transform community into Gospel Community" as evidenced by our mission statement.  The understanding of GCs will start from the youngest child up. We want our students to experience community at their level, and then transition from student community to a contributing member of a church Gospel Community upon graduating from high school.
 
Our hope is that our student communities relationships will flourish and grow with the leaders they already know, and that will give the students the confidence to start new relationships with those outside of their circles to show Jesus to the people around them.
 
My hope is that I can serve as a resource to you as parents. I trust that with the Youth leaders’ help, we can add on to the foundation that Jesus has laid through James, and continue to see this ministry flourish and grow (to a point that we have trouble fitting the students into classrooms). My desire is to equip the leaders that are working with your kids to build relationships with them that model the love of Jesus as a supplement to the relationships that you hold with your children. My desire is to work with you to lead your kids to love Jesus, and your kids in turn to lead others to love Jesus as well.
 
I do love change, but I love change with purpose.  The best change of all is to see people come to Christ and to witness that magnificent transformation. I’m excited to take this journey with you and see what changes Jesus has in store in the lives of the students at Element.
 
If you want to sign up and get involved from the beginning, sign up here.  We have lots of ways to be involved, both on the front lines, and behind the scenes.
 

Baptism Stories - September 6, 2015

by Element Christian Church


Last Sunday was our Baptisms, and we had 9 people baptized! If you didn't make it, or missed reading the stories, this weeks blog is simply a link to them. Please read them, be excited for them, and always stand amazed at the goodness of our great God.

The Big Goodbye

by Element Christian Church
This is James, and if you haven’t heard yet; I’m moving to Washington. I have felt this leading for over a year, maybe even closer to two years. Last year I went to Aaron and talked about this call in my life; he and the elders gave me the freedom to explore. After almost a year, and some craziness, I found a job I’m really excited about: I’ve been hired as the director of High School Ministry at Bethel Church in Richland Washington.
 
I was hoping that God would send me to the woodsy forest area of Washington, but He has His own plan and is sending me to the high desert with rivers. To be honest this has not worked out like I planned, my plan put me leaving a few months ago and settled me in the cool forest part of the Pacific Northwest, needless to say it’s been a little frustrating. In my plan failing God has been at work. God has provided better than what I envisioned.  With this post I would like to simply share some of my heart with you.
 
I have served as Director of Youth Ministries at Element for 7 years, and for each week of those 7 years I have looked forward to Thursday night as my favorite night of the week. In my 7 years I have grown a lot…I started this job when I was 19. I have learned a lot, I have failed a lot, and I have loved getting the chance to minister to your children. Sometimes (lets be real) as parents it’s easy to get caught up in the craziness of teenagers to the point that we don’t actually get to enjoy them. Let me remind you; you have awesome kids! The group that we have right now is a fun one, I have loved being involved in their lives and getting a front row seat to watch them grow in their love of Christ!
 
Children are a blessing; we say it often because we forget it often. Let me encourage and challenge you to enjoy the blessing God has placed in your life, lead them, teach them, and grow with them. Your children have been a wonderful blessing to me, and I will miss them greatly.
 
Leaving Element has nothing to do with me being mad at anyone who goes to Element (or especially) the leadership here. I love Element and I love its leadership. I’m excited to see what God has in store for Hailey and me, but I am terrified to leave (not because I worry for Element, but selfishly I’m worried for me). I’m hurting in leaving these great relationships that have developed over the years. I want to thank you for letting me speak the truth of Christ into student’s lives and into your lives.

Many of the students have surprised me with their reactions to the news that I am leaving, because many of them have said that the youth ministry is going to be just fine. A few students said, “We have been learning how to care for each other as you have been caring for us, you left us with a great example and we will be ok.” These responses have brought me the most hope as I get to look back on my time at Element not wondering if I could have done more (there is always more), but I get to look at my time at Element as a season where God used me to grow and develop these students. 
 
As I said, I have been working on moving for just about a year now, Christie and the team has been coming up with plans when I step out of youth. The plan they have is a brilliant one (and I’m not just saying that because that’s the right thing to say when you leave). I truly believe this plan is the best option for Element and our ministry to you, your children, teenagers, and all the families that come to Element.  
 
With the plan there is going to be some restructuring, with all restructuring there will be hick-ups because it’s a time of growth, Element’s ministry to families is growing, please be patient and helpful in this stage of growth. Ultimately I believe these changes will platform Element, and you as parents, to better minister to youth and children so get involved!
 
There is so much to say, but I’ll end with these two things; 1. God is very good and I can’t wait to see what He does through Element and our ministry to Santa Maria. 2. Thank you for being patient with me as I have grown.
 
I will truly miss you all and the family that Element has been. 
 
Humbly,
James.
             

Gospel Truth and Gospel Trust

by Aaron

Today I did something really bad, actually I did something bad a couple of weeks ago and I was confronted on it today. I hurt someone’s feelings because of my own short comings and issues of trust. Essentially, I asked someone to do something and didn’t trust them enough to follow through and stuck myself into their business.
 
As this person sat across from me and said, “you don’t trust me,” my honest answer was that he was correct. As much as I wanted it to be untrue, it was true, but the fault was not in the other person, no, the fault was in me. This person has never done anything, that I have seen, that could be construed as untrustworthy (and even if he had, there is a graceful presence about him that has been shown over and over in how trustworthy he is). As I processed his statement I started to look at my own life and see why it was that I couldn’t let go of control.
 
As I grew up, I felt abandoned at times by my father. I grew up with a fear of being left alone and not trusting anyone. Today this translates into me having a hard time letting go of all of my hang-ups and letting other people do what needs to be done.
 
Now, why do I write this blog to tell you all this? Because I, as one of your pastors, am not perfect and need grace; it comes down to issues of the Gospel and community lived in the Gospel. 
 
First off, the other person valued relationship enough that they sought me out to talk about it. They didn’t run or let it fester inside of them, they came and talked about the issue and we were both better off in the long (and short) run. In Matthew 8:15 Jesus tells us, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” This is exactly what happened.
 
The second thing (really this is the first thing) is that the Gospel changes people; it changes me, daily. God is my Father. When I cease to rest in the fact of who God is (His character and His actions), I begin to respond in ways that are inconsistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am reading this book by Tim Keller and he writes, “I continually observe that ministry amplifies peoples spiritual character. It makes them far better or far worse Christians than they would have been otherwise, but it will not leave anyone where he was!" I wish my character was better at times, but with all of us following Jesus together, living the Gospel in each others lives, we will be better.
 
As Hebrew 12:2 says, we must look to Jesus “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Our hope lies in Jesus and Him alone. We are not undone by the shame of our own failure, but use it to grow to be more like Jesus.
 
Let us all become people who live and speak the Gospel into one another’s lives and have it spoken into our own. This will most often happen during difficult conversations that we will naturally want to avoid.