Everyone has a place here

BY jessica manke

Young Adults have a place here. The senior community has a place here. Women have a place here. Men have a place here. Extroverts have a place here. Introverts have a place here. The new-to-faith have a place here. The long-time Christian has a place here. Rooted, Grace's curriculum for groups is just what my husband and I needed, and I want to share my Rooted experience with you.

When I heard that our Young Adult, men’s, and women’s ministries had been conjoined into Adult ministries I had mixed feelings. My husband and I had found our place at Grace in leading our Young Adult Interest group. I was afraid that Young Adults at Grace would get lost in the shuffle and not see themselves at Grace anymore.

Change can be intimidating for anyone. My husband and I decided we should give the Rooted pilot a shot because we wanted to be a part of the unification of these ministries. When we were placed in our Rooted group we recognized that we were a multigenerational group. We were composed of different experiences. Some of us were married, divorced, or single. Some of us were women and some of us were men. Some of us had kids and some of us didn’t. Some of us were completely new to Grace and some had been there for a long time. What did we all have in common? We were going to be in committed and intentional community with each other. We were going to talk about real stuff. We were going to be honest with each other and we were going to do life together.

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We all have learned from each other and have appreciated each other. But most importantly we learned how to be a better church body. A body that appreciates how our stories and gifts build God’s Kingdom. Everyone has a seat at the table no matter your age or life experience. I highly recommend joining a rooted group at Grace.ngfully bond with a great group of people!

Toward the end of our ROOTED study, we learned about the significance of Baptism. Before coming to Grace, I had never belonged to a church that practiced adult Baptisms and had honestly not given the matter much thought. My husband and I have enjoyed witnessing and celebrating other believer’s Baptisms during our time here, but since we were both baptized as infants, we weren’t sure we felt the need to participate. However, the thought-provoking lesson on Ceremonies in ROOTED described both Baptism and Communion as “public expressions of the Gospel of Christ.” It compared Baptism to a wedding ring – just as “the ring is a symbol of the covenant of marriage; Baptism is a symbol of the covenant of salvation.” Not only is Baptism an outward symbol of an inward (heart) change, but Baptism and Communion are two ceremonies that Jesus Himself modeled for us. Following the example of Jesus seemed like reason enough to me! I also went to my Bible and read as many scripture references on Baptism as I could find. Although I was reassured that Baptism is not necessary for my salvation, I became more convicted than ever that I wanted to “take the plunge” for Jesus. So when my ROOTED leaders announced that Baptisms would be offered as part of our Celebration Dinner, and that she and her husband would be the ones to actually perform mine, I didn’t hesitate to sign up!

Being Baptized as an adult truly felt like a “full circle” moment in my life. Just as I have to regularly humble myself before the Lord privately in prayer to seek forgiveness for my sins, Baptism is a similar act of obedience and humility before God and my fellow believers. It’s a public proclamation admitting, “I am a sinner in need of God’s grace and forgiveness.” Even though I have been a Christ-follower for many years now, it was incredibly empowering to be baptized – to freely make the choice to participate in this symbolic ceremony that is an outward sign of my inward change. It was an awesome reminder of the fact that I am a sinner who has been washed clean by the blood of Christ, and I feel blessed for the opportunity to publicly affirm my gratitude, love and devotion to Jesus. Prior to the ceremony, my Rooted leader asked me if there was a particular Bible verse that she could pray over me during my Baptism. While pondering my choices and poring over so many familiar and beloved scripture verses, I was reminded of just how far I have come since that night over 30 years ago when I first came to Christ. I recalled how I was once a slave to sin and burdened by guilt, until I received God’s amazing grace and the freedom found only in Jesus. I don’t ever want to forget where I once was and where I am now, which is why I selected this verse: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) With God’s help, I intend to stand firm and walk in the freedom of Christ for all the days of my life!