Blog Blog
  • Spirit of Competition

    "I don’t have to earn God’s love and approval by being perfect, or being the best, or having the most skills. He already loves me, I already have His approval, simply because He created me."

                Ever since I can remember, my family has been competitive. Everything has a competitive flavor. “I can run faster than you” “I can eat more than you” “I can be better than you.” It doesn’t help that we’re all musicians; think “Yeah, you’re better at piano but I’m better at guitar and she’s better in vocals than either of us.” Nothing is ever just good, much less good enough. It’s like Ricky Bobby saying “If you’re not first, you’re last.” The family motto might as well be “There’s always room for improvement.” There’s no such thing as satisfied with your work in any area; we always find the flaw. This constant comparison formed my outlook on life.

                Because of this, when I entered this internship on August 1st, I had one objective – to be the best intern Kensington had ever seen. After all, if you’re not the best, you’re the worst. I came in with an inability to admit what I didn’t know. Anything I was asked to do, regardless of my actual level of familiarity with it, was met with “I can totally do that!” I found myself feeling like a fraud, frantically googling how to do or perfect something and just praying I could do it well enough to pass with no one knowing I had no idea what was going on. I was terrified to admit when I didn’t know how to do something, because in my mind, admitting weakness meant I couldn’t be the best.

                This of course led to a lot of misunderstandings, frustration, and unmet expectations on both sides of any situation. I was upset and frustrated because I couldn’t be what I wanted to do. You see, God didn’t design any one person to know how to do everything put in front of them. We’re good at some things and not great at others, and we’re supposed to ask for help on those things were not great at. God created us to be in community; trying to do everything on your own isn’t just unhealthy, it’s just not how we were created. Instead of enjoying my time in my internship improving my skills in things I like to do, and learning from people who are good at the things I am not, I was constantly stressed over the things I didn’t know how to do, and not enjoying the things I was good at because of it. My God-given gifts were being passed over and ignored so I could pretend to be the best at everything.

                Deliverance from my self-imposed competitive prison came in the form of a serious call-out from my amazing boss, Richie. He looked at me during one of our meetings about how I was doing and said “You know it’s okay if you don’t know how to do something, right?”

                This statement was completely foreign to me. I literally said to him, out loud, “No, it’s not.” Let me tell you, the look on his face was hilarious. We dove into conversation about why I felt like this, why I felt the need to never show vulnerability, weakness, or anything less than.

                You see, in the moment, God revealed something amazing to me. God doesn’t want or need me to be perfect in order to do the job he’s set for me. If he did, he would have made me that way. No, God made me with a specific set of skills to complement the skills of the people He puts me to work with. What it all boiled down to was this; I don’t have to earn God’s love and approval by being perfect, or being the best, or having the most skills. He already loves me, I already have His approval, simply because He created me. The pressure that this revelation took off of me was visible almost immediately to everyone around me. Since that day, I’ve been more joyful, more relaxed, and more honest. Through this internship, I have become more emotionally, spiritually, and mentally healthy than I can ever remember being. And all because I realized the simple truth that I don’t have to earn God’s love; He freely gives it. 


  • Experiencing The Impact


    I love this internship. I get to come in to work every day and do what I love, using my talents to further God’s kingdom. I am gaining valuable work experience while being challenged and strengthened in my relationship with Christ. - That could really be the whole post right there, but I like to express myself through an excess of words.

    To be more specific, I am the Video Arts Intern at Kensington, and I get to work as a member of the team that creates all of the narrative video content that plays in the services. I have worked on testimonials, lyric supports, short films, interviews, documentaries, and so much more. The video team is comprised of industry professionals from several different backgrounds who have come together to spread the message of Christ and tell the story of Kensington and the church as a whole. I get to work one on one with each of them, receiving hands-on training in all aspects of production, building on the skills I gained in college, and applying them in a fast-paced working environment.

    With a new service every weekend, new projects are in high demand, and the video team puts in hours of work to deliver a final product that will spread the message of Christ and help to draw people closer to Him. Aside from all of the technical and practical experience, what really draws me in to the work we do is the sincerity of the message. The entire staff at Kensington truly believes in the mission of Christ; everyone does everything in their power to reach those far from God. And I have the privilege of working alongside them every day.

    I entered into this internship right before the 101 series, the most ambitious project the Kensington video team has ever produced. It is a series of seven short films, each pertaining to one of the core values of Kensington Church. Shooting this series took the team all over, from an abandoned church in downtown Detroit, to an early morning storm on Lake St. Clair, to the redwood forest in California. Each film featured one of Kensington’s teaching pastors delivering a message, accompanied with a story or visual metaphor to drive the idea. Not only was I a part of the team creating the project, I also was able to sit in the service each Sunday and experience the impact with the rest of the church. To experience a project that I worked on as a member of the audience is an invaluable experience for a filmmaker. I get to feel what the congregation feels, what works and what doesn’t, every single Sunday. And I get to see how the work I am doing for the Lord is impacting the church and the world, every single week. But the work is only half of the internship. The rest involves meeting up with the other interns and the intern director once a week for devotionals and leadership training. We get to grow together as a community to impact the world for Christ and to prepare ourselves for the work He will eventually do through us. Each week one of the interns leads the first half of the meeting with a devotional on a certain passage of scripture or a specific topic; sometimes we spend the entire time in worship. Afterwards we have a different guest speaker from the church come in and train us in the aspects of biblical leadership. We learn of different leaders who finished well, and those who didn’t, and we gain practical knowledge that we can apply to our lives and our ministry.

    We also meet up once a week in discipleship groups and dive deeper into scripture. These are smaller groups consisting of four or five interns and a spiritual leader from the Kensington staff. In these meetings we strengthen our relationships with Christ, and with each other. We openly share the struggles in our lives and help one another in staying on the right path. We tackle difficult biblical topics and cover different spiritual truths.

    “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17

    We get to live this out every day as we grow both spiritually and professionally. I already feel like I’ve come so far in my own walk, and there are still four months left in the internship. I am excited to see what God has in store, both in the next four months and the rest of my life. But I know that I am absolutely where he wants me to be right now, and while I am here I want to continue to learn more about myself and about Him.

    Well, that’s it. That’s what I’ve got. I’m kind of surprised I didn’t throw any jokes in there, but I wasn’t really feeling it while I was writing. It really turned into more of a sales pitch for the internship (a genuine sales pitch, you should really consider doing this internship). I guess I’ll leave a link for the 101 videos, so you can see just what kind of work I get to be a part of.

    https://vimeo.com/185068867

    https://vimeo.com/186046822

    https://vimeo.com/187420854

    https://vimeo.com/188404262

    https://vimeo.com/189433103

    https://vimeo.com/190357990

    https://vimeo.com/191246908

     

     


  • Security Matters: How we can free people to worship in safety

    Our response to safety in our home = Our response to safety at church.

    Picture this…It’s the middle of the night.  The whole family is sleeping.  All the doors and windows are locked.  Security system is set to alert you if anyone tries making entry from outside.  Suddenly, the alarm goes off.  You wake up and respond to the hallway where the stairs lead up to.  At the bottom of those stairs is the front door where the alarm has been triggered.  The door is wide open and two men are rushing up the stairs with deadly weapons in their hands.  The hallway that you’re in is the same hallway which gives access to all the bedrooms, including those of your children.  You are obviously afraid for the safety of you and your family. 

    How do you respond?  What actions do you take?  Do you retrieve any items to protect you and your family?  Think about your response.  Now that you have thought of your response, I want you to now change a major detail…the location.  It’s no longer in your home, but now a Church building.  All your family is still present, and it’s obviously during the day.  Same scenario with two men armed with deadly weapons rushing towards you and your family.  Before proceeding, quickly think of your response. 

    How did your response to protect your family change?  If it did, why?  Did you have any reservations with using force as a reaction now that you’re in a church building?  Did you have something in your mind telling you to take the “godly” route since it was church?  Did that make you question whether or not your original response in the “Home” scenario was Christian enough?  I’m going to guess that you still wouldn’t change your reaction to be any less forceful in the home scenario…and I don’t blame you.  However, it’s the response inside the church building that I want to focus on… 

          Hi, my name is Michael Simmons.  I am an intern here at Kensington Church for the 2016/2017 year.  The focus for my internship is…Church Security.  Yes, Kensington, along with many other churches today, have members of their congregation who assist with the overall safety of the church family and guests…a.k.a. Church Security Teams.  If someone told me that I would be working in a church, I would have thought they were nuts.  All my life I have had plans on being in Law Enforcement.  I based everything on that idea…my behavior, my education, my way of life.  Yes, you would think God was enough of a motivator in those departments, but at that time I didn’t allow Him to be.  I moved my entire life down south and was a Police Officer down there until last July.  Being a Police Officer, I experienced many interesting things:  Tactical training, communication skills, physical altercations, verbal de-escalation techniques, perception of body language and facial expressions, life threatening situations…overall, the idea and application of protection and safety of others.  One of the biggest things I experienced is the evil that man CAN do.  Murders to robberies, sexual crimes to domestic violence.  Christians or non-Christians, victims are victims, and the evil of one can affect the physical safety of another.  Did you notice what I said?  I said “the evil of one can affect the PHYSICAL safety of another”.  I think it is important to understand this idea.  I’m not talking about the Spiritual safety of someone.  If we believe in Jesus and what He did for us, then our Spiritual safety is nothing to be concerned about.  I’m referring to the physical safety of people.  Just because we’re suddenly inside a church building doesn’t make us less of believers in God if we’re aware of our safety.  As Christians we utilize safe practices in all other areas of our lives, so why should our practices be different once we come into the church building, or vice versa.  So, the focus for my writings is based on the idea that Church security teams and protocols along with the overall response inside the church building shall be biblical, but as Christians, our response should be the same in all areas of our life.  To simplify what I’m saying:

    Our response to safety in our home and personal life = Our response to safety at church

    “Wait, is he saying that we should act the same at the home as we do at church?”  Yes, yes I am.  I apply that way of thinking not just in how we speak, what we watch, how we behave, but I also apply that to how we respond and take precautions when it comes to the safety and security of our lives.  I don’t believe Christians lack faith in God any less because of taking safety precautions within a church.  I say this because we don’t consider it as less faith when we apply safety precautions at home or in our personal lives.  We have fire extinguishers in our homes to combat possible fires.  Home security systems to protect our homes, people, and contents inside.  We lock the doors of our homes, vehicles, lockers, cabinets, etc.  Even in the church building itself, we support security precautions even without a security ministry.  The doors, walls, the overall structure follows strict codes to adhere to fire regulations.  The front entrances to the church building become locked after a certain time.  Certain entrances require keycard access-even certain floors are restricted to authorized individuals.  We have all these things in place to help secure the building, staff, volunteers, and guests.  Everyone is ok with these safety precautions and do not consider it as lacking in faith in God to protect us.  However, when it comes to Church Security teams, controversy begins.    

    Suddenly, Matthew 5:39 gets used, “But I say, do not resist an evil person!  If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also”.  Suddenly, according to one’s interpretation, it’s unbiblical to stop the evil that someone is committing against another because its occurring in a church, on a mission trip, during a Christian event, etc.  Even though if a deadly force incident occurred inside your home, you wouldn’t have any issues or doubts whether or not you were acting in a Christian manner.  However, because it’s related to church, we think we MUST NOT respond in a way that is defending or protecting ourselves and that we MUST witness to that individual at that very moment.  I’m certainly not saying we shouldn’t witness to people because that is our purpose on this earth.  The issue is being inconsistent or trying to separate our response depending on where we’re physically standing at that moment.  God is working in us at all times and we’re required to be living a life under Him.  Therefore, no matter where we’re physically standing, we’re always spiritually standing with Him.          

    Is being persecuted for one’s faith in Jesus an amazing testimony to the power of Jesus? Yes, it absolutely is.  Is this world the end for us?  No.  It is merely a stepping stone to the Kingdom of God.  We are only borrowers of everything in this world-We are Stewards.  Our body, the words we speak, the thoughts we think, our actions…. they all belong to God.  After all, if we die at the hands of someone wanting to do us harm, whether it’s inside a church or not, we’re just losing something that never belonged to us in the first place and we get to join Jesus for eternity.  However, why don’t we apply that type of thinking to everything then, that way we can be consistent?  If we’re not supposed to “resist an evil person”, then why have any security measures in place at all?  Unlock all doors of your home, vehicles, and businesses.  Allow your children to interact with dangerous criminals in the middle of the night while you’re asleep.  Of course, logic and protection is now taking over and you wouldn’t be passive about the safety of your loved ones from the evil that lurks.  Well, fortunately, we’re not alone in this type of thinking.  Jesus wasn’t passive about the physical safety against the harm from evil ones either. 

    Matthew 5:39, in my opinion, implies an attitude to have the love for God and not seek vengeance.  Jesus gives examples with the disciples of being aware of evil, being proactive about personal safety, and taking measures to defend themselves.  Matthew 10:16, “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among the wolves.  So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves”.  In Luke 22:36, “And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!”.  Jesus was telling his disciples to be proactive with their safety, therefore, they could continue to live and spread the Good News.  That is the purpose for Church security teams, to protect those who are spreading the Good News. 

    I support Kensington Church and its initiative to protect our church family.  That’s why I am focusing on this area for my internship.  I believe we must be proactive with our safety and protection, even inside a church.  I also believe Kensington’s security teams must be more than just a group inside a church, but an actual ministry.  We must be training more than the arts and worship teams, but not just in physical tactics.  We must be training in spiritual tactics as well.  We must be servants of Christ as well as protectors.  That is my goal for the rest of the internship.  To join the efforts of the serving members of the security teams and lead the charge to being Warriors for Christ.  Please keep the Kensington Church security ministry in your prayers. 

    For more information in regards to data relating to incidents occurring on church property, please click the link:  http://www.carlchinn.com/deadly-force-statistics.html

    It happens more often than you think…

     

    Michael Simmons
    Kensington Church
    Security Intern

     


  • Releasing expectations of perfection: From brokenness

    It has been four months since I walked into a room on the third floor of Kensington, without expectations, ready for a season of ten months where all I knew was that God was going to work. Work in the team I was about to “jump into the deep end” with, work in the community of people I would be serving and working for, and most definitely be doing a whole lot of WORK in me.

    I have been through a beautiful journey over that last six years wholly devoting my life, the direction and path, to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. He has directed me to this season of the internship to explore more of what He is calling me to. When God wants to use you for His purposes, you are required to make major adjustments in your life. Adjustments could be a list of many, but the majority of the time it is your character. A few months before the internship started, I began to go through the refining fire of my character; being tested, shaped and molded. I have faced the most challenging lessons. I have been stretched in ways that seem impossible, but the Lord has been faithful to sustain me. The best way to describe it is that God has placed me under a microscope pointing out all my flaws, ugliness, and brokenness. It is a bitter sweet process, totally necessary, but uncomfortable; growing pains. The Lord was definitely at work and I was falling apart, feeling the heaviness of the construction I was under.

    A common misconception of Christianity is that followers of Jesus are put together people, everything intact, no struggles- or if we do no one knows about them or we try so hard to cover them all up. That can even be the stereo-type people of the church carry, myself included. Working in ministry has taught me how false that persona is. In fact, it is quite the opposite. We are just as broken if not more, BUT we are (supposed to be) reliant on Jesus Christ- that through His death and resurrection, we are redeemed. The more the Lord corrects me and makes changes, the more I see the need to release the expectations of perfection. The labels I assign to myself or the ones given by others must be let go. As God continues to refine my character, the things I try to keep hidden are being forced into the light.  

    Throughout the internship thus far, I have seen pastors, directors, and leaders expose some of their deepest hurts, habits and hang-ups. I have sat in campus meetings, all-staff worship sessions, small groups and services weeping over how I am not alone in my struggles. I look up to these leaders with complete admiration as they lead from their brokenness. They have a deep desire to serve Jesus and others just like I do. They want to see every[one] transformed and mobilized by Jesus. Yet, they very bravely choose to share the hardest situations and circumstances they have gone through- their own personal struggles or what has been done to them. Rarely do you find a church where this idea of living authentically from brokenness is encouraged. It is one of my favorite values of Kensington: FROM BROKENNESS: “in response to our identity in Christ, we recognize and reveal our weakness to point to the power of God.”

    This value is something humans shy away from, especially followers of Christ. We do not want people to see our brokenness for many different reasons: fear of rejection, judgement, that in sharing our stories we have the possibility to experience hurt or insensitivity from others. Basically we care so much about what others will think of us. We are afraid that they might think we do not have what it takes, or that we do not measure up to a certain standard for ministry work. I have experienced all of those moments and thoughts and daily struggle with them. But the Holy Spirit is teaching me by watching leaders live authentically that when we speak from our brokenness, our words and wounds give others the chance to heal. These moments can be catalysts for growth. Working with the young adult community has given me opportunities to press past my fears and share my insecurities. I have the privilege to lead a small group where I am able to help others navigate through their struggles, pointing them to the only true source of satisfaction, Jesus Christ. As I help make disciples, I find the sweetest grace and the Lord proves Himself faithful. I am constantly reminded of how I do not have it all together and that is okay because I know I desperately need of Jesus. Through sharing my brokenness, God has used my shortcomings to be a platform for others to expose what has been hidden and there has been freedom found in Jesus. It is rewarding seeing the next generation of believers step out in faith as they trust in Jesus for forgiveness and experience the life He comes to bring to the full. PRAISE HIM.

    I am far from having mastered this. But, I am starting to learn to let go of this notion of having a perfect put together life. The truth of the matter is at the end of our life- the act of laying our life down- broken and all, for the sake of the gospel is where we will find TRUE LIFE. I am discovering the balance of not living in pride, but also leaving the shame and guilt I come face to face with in my brokenness or the hurt done to me. Through self-examination, confession to God, and accountability partners, the Lord gives me an allowance of peace for each day- sometimes moment by moment, and trust in Him. He is in the business of making all things new and apart from Him I am NOTHING.

    2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

    Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

    “Wholeness and brokenness are not opposites. God proved to me that my brokenness
    makes abundance. The abundant life you crave is found right there in your hands, in the broken pieces
    of your life. The miracle always happens in the breaking. The passion isn’t about what or whom you want most,
    but for what or whom you most willingly sacrifice. The measure of your willingness to be broken and given
    is the measure of your capacity of communion and intimacy. That you are whatever you love. That you
    only love as much as you’re willing to be inconvenienced. That the best way to destress is to bless.
    That suffering is never a meaningless waste of your life, but a meaningful way through your life.
    That the way to live with your one broken heart, is to give it away.“
    Excerpt from The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp


    Troy 18/29 Young Adults

  • God spoke, I'm glad I listened.



    Where do I start? I guess I should start by saying this has been quite the adventure, and I don’t think it’s losing its excitement anytime soon! Doors opened, God spoke, and bridges have been crossed to get here, but I’m glad I listened.


    This opportunity presented itself to me a couple years back when I saw a familiar face at a shopping mall. We talked and when she discovered I was going to school for a degree in Graphic Design, the conversation began to get interesting. After hearing about this place and the program, I still kept going my own way. Later the next summer, after I saw the same person at a friend’s graduation party, the conversation came up again. God AND Design? I mean, it really started to sound like a sweet deal. Nonetheless, I decided I still had a lot going on with school and holding up a job, so it once again floated away from my thoughts. Not for long, though. After that second encounter, having a more in depth conversation, the thought of this internship kept invading my every train of thought, until something happened. I broke. I decided in my senior year of college, that it was the time to fill out the application. I can’t say I regret it yet!

    Now, I truly get to see what I can do with the talents God has given me. Being a part of this internship is something else. I mean, I took an internship over the summer doing Graphic Design, and it was nothing like this! I feel a strange pull every time I walk into Kensington, and an overwhelming excitement fills me up. I was never a part of this church before now, and over the last few months, that feeling of being a stranger seems so distant! I have met incredible people; other people like me, taking a leap of faith and listening to what God wants to say to them.

    That first time we went out on a retreat, as a team was one of the most bizarre blessings in the most wonderful way. I didn’t know a single soul, yet for some reason, I offered to drive some of these strangers up to our cabin in Mio, Michigan. It only took one two-hour car ride to become friends with these people. After we got to our destination, everybody followed suit. It’s as if God just knew who to bring together in order to start a fire. We worshiped, we talked, and of all things, we shared. Everybody gave a testimony and not a single one was dull (I say this sincerely, meaning that everybody had incredible stories to tell). 

    Now I’m part of a team. Not just any team, though; a team chasing after whatever God lays in front of them. We all have gifts, callings, and passions. It only matters to God what we decide to do with those things. I believe that God put me here for a reason. It doesn’t have to be through my degree or anybody else’s, because I know that not everybody’s gifts reside 100% in what they do for a living. God has put me here.

    This is my favorite scripture. It got me through a hard time 5 years ago, and I think I can still learn from it. It’s currently moving me in this internship. Whenever I’m not sure what God is doing in my life, I look to these verses:

    “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”

    I can’t wait to see the rest of what God is teaching me through this experience. He has truly blessed me with amazing people and has allowed me to create some awesome things with my passions.

    He opened doors, he spoke, and he helped me cross bridges to get here, and I’m glad I listened.

    Mitchell Waldorf
    Graphic Design Intern


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