Karla has been a member of Christ Community Church since its early days in 2001. Known for her enthusiastic love for the Lord and her evangelistic gifts, when Karla was asked to teach a Yoga class in 2017, she knew that she could use it as an evangelism and discipling tool.
How long have you been enjoying Yoga? Since 2015.
How did the idea of having Yoga classes at CCC come about?
Someone from the 6:30 a.m. prayer gathering asked me if I would teach her some yoga in 2017. We started practicing together after the prayer meetings. People saw us and joined, and it slowly grew from there. Last fall, Anja asked if I would do it for LifeSchool. Now we have a nice little core of regulars.
Has the participation exceeded your expectations?
Yes. In December and January over the holiday break, we regularly had about 20 people. There were college students, youth group kids, and men and women of all ages. It was a really fun cross-section of our church.
Today, it is about 6-12 people.
What do you enjoy about serving in this capacity?
I love to see people start to notice that they are stronger. I really enjoy watching someone grow in confidence, and I love to see friendships start to develop among people who come regularly. We have some people who come mostly for the fellowship.
I also love the chance to pray and share scriptures. I take a long walk and pray before each class. He always gives me something to share!
What are some of your favorite moments from serving in Yoga?
I love when we laugh together. Someone complains about a certain stretch or pose... a little groaning and complaining is kind of funny. But everyone has learned that it only encourages me to make it a little harder! I love to see people get strong!
I love when non-Christians come for the free yoga. Angie Hollis is quite a natural evangelist, and people from her gym are always showing up saying Angie sent them! There are several who have expressed an interest in Jesus just from their time at Yoga.
We banded together to give rides to one woman and her children. Last week, we all rejoiced when she got her driver’s license. We will rejoice together again when she gets the job she needs and for which she hopes!
There is a woman from another church who comes a half hour early to be around the worship music and other believers.
But my very favorite thing is when we all spontaneously begin to worship and sing quietly as we move or stretch.
It is sweetly worshipful.
What would you tell someone who is wondering if they should get involved as a volunteer at CCC?
If there is something that you love doing or that has helped you; somewhere that you feel the Lord meets you-- consider sharing it! I think of the scene in Chariots of Fire when the runner said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure!” We can share those things with other people. I am not really that good at yoga. It certainly isn’t classic traditional yoga. It’s good enough to help people move, though. And people start to feel the pleasure that I have in Jesus as I move and encourage them.
I don’t need to be more than just a willing person who loves Jesus. That’s enough. That’s plenty! We can share that if we have it.
At Christ Community Church, we are family!
Every fifth Sunday, Christ Community Church celebrates Family Sunday, a time where children are invited to join the church body in corporate worship. CCC believes that our children need to understand that they worship the same God as the adults and that their relationship with Him is just as important.
Additionally, we like to incorporate fun ways to get the kids engaged with worship and the message, so we celebrated with a photo booth, video, keepsakes and more. Plus, Pursuit students led worship, and Pastor Derrick led us in an interactive lesson on "The Most Important Rule."
Take a look to see if your family was spotted!
Christ Community Church kicked off the Christmas season with food, fun and fellowship last night after the Kingdom Kids' Christmas Musical, The Bethlehem Project. (Footage from the musical can be found here.)
"When you wear your pajamas, you're usually with your family," one pastor said. "We are family here."
The Christ Community Church family certainly had a great time together.
Check out the photos below to see if you and your family were spotted at Pancakes & Pajamas!
Over the weekend, Christ Community Church celebrated its longtime founding pastor, Keith Cowart. Keith and Pam Cowart began Christ Community Church inside of their home in Columbus twenty years ago, taking it from a five-person gathering, to a church with over one thousand members. Keith and Pam have exemplified what it means to be planters of the harvest, sowing seeds of God’s fruit in the hearts of the Chattahoochee Valley. In recent months, Keith has been elected to serve as the superintendent of the Southeastern Region of the Free Methodist Church, and Pastor Derrick Shields will be transitioning into the Lead Pastor position here at Christ Community at the end of the month.
On Sunday evening, we gathered for Family Fun Night to celebrate what God has done in and through Keith and Pam over the last two decades with food, games, fun and fellowship! Earlier in the day, CCC enjoyed a special Sunday morning worship service in the Cowarts’ honor, with Keith and Pam both sharing their gratitude and love for the congregation with a special joint message.
Check out these photos from Sunday and see if you were spotted at Family Fun Night, and remember to join us on Sunday, October 28th as Derrick Shields is officially installed as the lead pastor of Christ Community Church.
Over the weekend, Pastor Keith and Pam Cowart led a large group of married couples into “The Land of Us” during the 2018 Marriage Retreat. As they imparted godly wisdom, counsel, prayer and their own personal testimonies, the Lord moved, and many marriages were restored, transformed and even healed. It was truly a weekend of restoration and grace.
In addition to leading the group into “The Land of Us,” there was one final destination on the map into one of the greatest decades of all time, the 1980’s.
As they stepped back in time, leisure suits, big hair, leg warmers and yes, mullets galore, began walking in from all directions to enjoy a 1980’s-themed prom. Check out the photos from this weekend here!
"Preparing Us to be Workers in the Harvest Field:" Reflections from Prayer Week at Christ Community Church
During Prayer Week, the congregation of Christ Community Church gathered each night for corporate prayer and worship, intentionally coming before the Lord and asking Him to prepare obedient workers in the harvest field (as Jesus told his disciples to pray in Matthew 9:35-38). Take the City's founder and director, Andrew Chalmers, led the church family into intentional time with Christ through four nights of teaching, praying, listening and responding.
Each night, there was a centralized focus on one word and supporting scripture:
"Last year in June, God spoke a specific phrase to me and it was, 'Stay in, live in, dwell in my presence, so shall the knowledge be that I will pour into thee.' Around the time He spoke that to me, I was going through a really tough time and I was spending a lot of my early mornings in His presence. Fast-forward to a year later, I found myself longing to spend that time with Him again, but it was so hard for me to get up early in the mornings like I had been doing previously. About two weeks ago, I set my alarm clock to 5am so that I could get up and spend at least an hour with Him before I started my day. Well, it was so hard to get out of bed and I really wanted to do it.
Sunday night after Andrew taught on abiding and we went into our time of individual prayer with the Lord, I looked up the word "dwell" since God had brought the phrase He spoke last year back to my remembrance. In the New Testament “dwell” most frequently stands for oikeo or one of its compounds; also, skenoo, and meno, which however, are always translated "abide." I knew then what God was saying to me. After acknowledging I understood what He was saying I then asked the Lord what He wanted me to do. He said, 'just give me an hour.' I set my alarm for 5am and on Monday morning, and I spent an hour with Him before getting my day started. I have been getting up at 5am since Monday morning. He didn’t give me a time period on how long to do it so I will just keep doing it until He says otherwise."
"I am here. I have always been with you, even though you sometimes disobey my
commandments and do what you want to do… though you forget me and are sometimes gripped with anxiety when all you have to do is ask me… though you make decisions for your future when I already know the plans I have for you. Give me your heart my child. All you have to do is put your hand in my hand. I am just a breath away. Abide with me as I am always with you.”
"In a nutshell, I was asking God to help me in loving someone and asking Him to help me see them the way He does. I was confessing that I can't do this. (I love God's kindness and humor - his response to this was "of course you can't do it! We've seen that you can't do!" -- but His tone was full of so much love... like a father joking around with his daughter). After this confession, I felt like God was inviting me to take some time to take authority over selfishness, self-centeredness, sarcasm, and harsh responses and to bring them under the authority of Jesus... and then to speak and claim peace, kindness, patience, love and gentleness. How I long for the fruit of His Spirit to be all that is produced in me.
There was another part that I felt I heard that I think is for all of us -- I felt like God was saying "I really am giving you all you need for the people and tasks that I put along your path. Take it. Take what I am offering you. Take me. Hold tight to me (abide). I'm glad you cannot do this on your own-- I never intended for you to do this on your own. I want to be a part of this. I want to do this with you and through you!"
The Lord gave Brian a vision on the subject of "pruning."
"I saw a fruit tree, and one of the bottom limbs was spindly threatening to break, pulled downward because of the weight of the fruit it bore. The fruit was still attached to the limb, but the fruit was also on the ground because the limb could not support it. I have couple of things I think God was trying to say to me and to our church:
The presence of fruit isn't necessarily determined by the strength of the branch. God can use any branch attached to the Vine to produce at any time. In fact, there may be branches that appear to be fully mature, but they can have seasons with no fruit (1 Sam 16:7).
Bearing too much may break us. If there's no one to harvest and no one to prune, even good fruit can overwhelm us (for instance, I have all these good things in my life... kids, spouse, work, friends, church, hobbies, but I am too exhausted to appreciate them (Luke 10:40). So, we may have to give up some fruit in order to regain strength or composure. Fruit that is attached to the branch but touching the ground will rot; we need pruning and harvesting (Psalm 39:6).
When we are the laborers in the field (Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:38), we must see the field as full and ripe. We can't assume spindly or damaged branches will not produce fruit and therefore overlook them (1 Sam 16). It's the vinedresser's job to prune, and He will do it in the right season. Even in dormant seasons, He tends the branches."
"The passage in John 15 speaks of the gardener as one who prunes and cuts off branches that do not bear fruit with the goal of helping the branches produce more fruit. An “ouch” response surfaced at first when I read this thinking of all the places where I need pruning and how often it hurts to go through the pruning seasons. Often in the presence of the gardener, I feel like I have missed the mark and that I have disappointed Him as he cuts and prunes… but When I looked at the definition of gardener, the dictionary stated that a gardener is “a person who tends and cultivates for a living," my heart softened as I realized that my Heavenly Father and Gardener is tenderly tending to me. He is spending time with me. He is cultivating the soil of my heart, and He does this for a living. He is constant and attentive, and He delights in His garden. His tending and cultivating are all for the display of His splendor and glory. His tending and cultivating are rooted in His love for me."
Sunday: "Speak up! Speak up to those where you are-- kindly speak up, for their time may be short; your time to speak is now. Jesus, you gave me a voice. I will speak what you tell me to speak."
Tuesday: "Don’t keep quiet: be the reconciler."
Wednesday: "Listen to the words you are reading in the Bible as if Jesus, whose Spirit wrote them, is reading them aloud to you. That is how you get to know his voice."
"My precious love, why is your soul downcast? Are you striving? Carrying burdens that you shouldn’t be? Pleasing others? Trying to control? My truth reminds you that my love has set you free! I have carried all that has entangled you and all that has weighed you down, to the cross! It was nailed there, and all has been redeemed, restored, and made new! Run to me, dear one, climb into my lap and rest in my everlasting arms! I will hold you close and speak my freeing, loving truth to your weary soul! I have good that you need to be rested up for: plans of hope! Child, you are my unique, treasured possession, that I have created for my glorious good!! I knew this long ago, before the foundations of the world, and I know exactly what you need. As you nestle in my lap, I will lavish you with my peace, my wisdom, and my Words of affirmation, my joy, and my hope. These truths will carry you boldly and courageously as you take steps of faith abiding in Me. The peace that I have for you surpasses your own understanding, that is why your time sitting with me is so important. You do not fully know or understand my greatness, but when we spend time together I will continually supply you with all you need. I promise that you will be equipped to face each new day. Trust me, my child. Delight yourself in me, enjoy all my goodness. The more time we spend together, the more you will find out about me and the rich love I have for you, the good plans of hope that I have for you! There is so much that I desire to share and teach you, it’s greater than you will ever fathom or imagine. I am always here for you, never leaving and never forsaking. The things that have broken your heart break my heart, too. I know every precious detail about you. I know your life before, now, and what is to come. Crawl up in my lap, sit for a while I rejoice over you with singing and quiet you with my overcoming love. Rest safely with me as the storms come and go in this world. We will laugh together and I will strengthen you with my truthful joy, we will cry together and I have and will know every teardrop that falls. Set your gaze on me, child, know that I will fill you the fullest measure and equip you in every way with all you will ever need. The great love that I have for you and for you to share will bring my HOPE to this broken world. I will safely supply, carry, and empower you moment by moment until I get to see you face to face... right now, our world needs you and my goodness that you carry! I love you, your Father"
May we all continue to reap the benefits and fruits of our week in prayer and press on after the Lord of the harvest.
Over the summer, one of Christ Community’s largest focuses was outreach, bringing this year’s theme of Harvest out of the church doors and into the community. In total, CCC served the community by planning and serving in 29 outreach events. While many of the ministry and outreach partners benefitted from these activities, those who participated were equally as impacted by their experiences.
Check out some of the testimonials from the CCC volunteers:
“I loved that I served with people I normally don’t hang out with. Brandon and the whole Arise gang totally made our Lakebottom cookout a success. It was great getting to know those guys and see their passion for loving others like Jesus first hand. I also loved joining Bernard Ford, who I’ve met briefly on Sunday mornings, and my good friend Kristin Shreve for the neighborhood outreach. The community I experienced in outreach was one of my favorite parts of the summer!” – Lauren Heath, Lakebottom Outreach
“As we left CCC to go on the house to house outreach, it seemed so appropriate that we would be going to share with those right in our backyard. People right near us are in need of the love and forgiveness of Christ. We had ones receive us at their doorstep, one sharing her deep burden for prayer. It showed me the need for sharing Christ with those near and far.” – Barbara Carroll, Door to Door Outreach
“Early in 2018, Pam sent a video to the Staff from a ministry run by some of our CCC folks; that was my first introduction to Enoch Ministries. When I saw that building a tortoise and bunny habitat was one of the Summer Outreach events, I was intrigued! I remembered from the video how she uses these animals in sessions with her clients of all ages to help teach boundaries; every animal (and there are a lot) is used in the healing process, it is beautiful. We had two work days this summer and made great progress on the fencing, benches, and flower boxes. It is our desire to have two work days this fall to lay sod, plant trees and building a mud hole for the tortoises. This a great outreach for the whole family!” – Denise Stephens, Enoch Ministries Outreach
“God blew me away during mysummer outreach experience! The plan was a simple one - take treats and encouraging notes to Treadstone Summer staff twice a month. The result was by week three-- I had staff meeting me at the door offering to carry in the basket of “happies” just so they could tell me how much the note had meant to them last time or that the treat had been their lunch. Really? It was just a power bar, a water bottle and a pack of crackers and tuna. Then, I realized it was the touch that mattered. It was looking in their eyes and telling them thank you for teaching kids this summer and keeping them safe. They were seen, they had been prayed for and in the process the blessing was mine because for a very brief time our prayers, time and treats made a difference in these young adults. Praise be to God.” – Laura Lea Martin, Treadstone Climbing Gym Outreach
“It can feel intimidating reaching out to strangers, especially about church because we aren’t sure how our outreach will be received. However, I was able to serve with some sweet, loving church members who just offered strangers a bottle of water. This opened the door to invite them to church or offer to pray for them. Everyone we encountered was kind and I truly loved spending the time with the other church members!” – Patti Kelly, Rails to Trails Outreach
“Our small group handed out water and oranges on the rails to trails path. Outreach sounds really scary at first, but writing encouragement in sidewalk chalk and offering people water wound up being a lot of fun—for our whole family. Some people stopped to talk and we shared Christ Community with them and invited them to church. Some just grabbed a treat and were able to keep running. Either was fine. It was such a blessing to have a chance to watch our kids eagerly serve. I hope that by doing things like this now when they are young, it will make serving something they aren’t initially scared of when they’re my age. “ – Amanda Newman, Rails to Trails Outreach
“Summer neighborhood outreach was the perfect opportunity for my children and I to practice sharing God's love with our neighbors, even if they may be strangers. As we went door to door passing out VBS invites, our hearts grew with excitement with each doorbell ring. We were met with people that were open to our invitation, hungry for the community our church offers, and met with sincere prayer needs. As I prayed for each person, they would always say "thank you" or even have streams of tears flowing down their faces by the time I said, "amen". What a treasure for my children and I to experience first-hand the love of our living God!” – Kristin Gow, VBS Outreach
“I was so moved to watch the excitement rise on the faces of Reese Rd Educators as they came together for Prayer, Pep Rally and a delicious hot breakfast. Five of us from CCC came together, beside them, as they started their journey on the good foot, with God leading the way. Teachers were uplifted, pleased and encouraged by our participation. It made me feel more connected with the teachers of Reese Road.” – Pat Flowers, Reese Road Leadership Academy Outreach
Check out some of the photos from this summer's outreach activities below!
Interested in how you can serve your community? Visit the LIVE Booth this Sunday to find out where you can give your time, financial blessings and prayers or view the calendar for outreach opportunities here!
By Haley Borin
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.