By: Jonathan Abenti, Connections and Immersion Groups Crew Leader
This fall kicks off a new season at Watermark. We will be starting Immersion Groups! We have been getting questions about Immersion Groups so here are the answers to what a lot of people have been asking.
What is an Immersion Group? Every church has their own name for groups…Life Groups, Cell Groups, Small Groups, Growth Groups… at Watermark we call our groups Immersion Groups. That’s it. Nothing strange. Just a place to come together during the week to eat, support each other, and study the Bible.
Why the Immersion Groups name? We chose the name Immersion Groups for several reasons. First, if you hadn’t noticed, Watermark kind of has a water-theme going. Tsunami Students, H2O Kids, etc. and Immersion certainly fits that theme. Second, the definition of Immersion – going deeper, being deeply engaged or involved. That is what we pray Immersion Groups will help us do – Dive deeper into God’s word and into relationships with others!
Why should I join an Immersion Group? First of all, church can be big and overwhelming. Even in a smaller church, there are 60-80 people there every Sunday. Do you know them all? Do you feel connected to them all? Likely, the answer is no. But in an Immersion Group you can get to know 11 other people and make connections that just aren’t possible on Sunday morning.
Second, Jesus is our example and He was in a small group! Small groups are not an invention of the modern church. Jesus selected 12 men to be His small group. We call Jesus’ small group “disciples” or “apostles.” (Your Immersion Group at Watermark might be called “Deeper, ” “Authentic Men,” or some other catchy name.) He spent time teaching them, eating with them, praying with and for them, and in general, just hanging out and “doing life” together. Your Immersion Group is who you call when something is wrong and you need help. They are who you call when something is right and you want to celebrate. They challenge you to dive deeper into the Bible. They pray for and with you. Just like Jesus did with His small group.
Third, we need to connect with God and each other more often than just Sundays at church. Sunday morning, especially in a church that is portable, does not always lend itself to the best questions and conversations. It can be hard to connect with someone who is rushing in and out of the door carrying heavy trusses or other equipment. Immersion Groups give us the chance to grow deeper relationships with other believers. Immersion Groups also help us grow closer to God by exploring His word in a way that just can’t be done on a Sunday morning. Can you ask questions during a sermon or worship song? Can you share your story about how a particular topic or passage of Scripture affected you? Likely, if you are only attending Sunday morning church, the answer is no. But in an Immersion Group, working together we can figure out the answers to our questions and share our stories to encourage others.
Does the Bible talk about Immersion Groups? While the name “Immersion Groups” isn’t specifically found in the Bible, God does have a lot to say about small groups, regularly meeting together, and building each other up. You can find a selection of Bible passages relating to small groups by clicking here.
How to I get connected to an Immersion Group? There are several ways to get connected to an Immersion Group! First, go to the website and click “Connect” in the menu. From there you can click the Immersion Groups icon and get more information about groups. (A list of fall Immersion Groups is coming soon!)
Second, after service find me (Jonathan Abenti) in the lobby and I will help you get connected to a group, volunteer crew, or any other ministry of Watermark.
Third, hang out after service on 8/28 or 9/4 for our “Dive Deeper” event. This will be an opportunity to find out more about Immersion Groups and Volunteer Crews at Watermark. Leaders will be around to answer questions and you will be able to sign up for an Immersion Group for the fall.
If you have other questions about Immersion Groups, please visit the Immersion Groups page of the website and send me a message via the contact form. I will do my best to answer all your questions. I hope to see you in an Immersion Group at Watermark this fall!
By: Jonathan Day, Lead Pastor
As I look back over the past three years as a church planter, the word “perspective” has been hanging out in my mind. When God called me to plant a church five years ago, I had many pre-conceived notions of what it would look like: Inviting Venue, Cutting Edge Worship, Vibrant Small Groups, Hundreds of People in Attendance. Wow, was I in for a wake up call.
Very quickly I found myself immersed into “ministry”. Working with leaders, volunteers, core team members, etc… Though I knew planting a church would require long hours, detailed preparation and intense organization, I never saw or even thought that I would put myself into a position that would lead to burnout. I had mentors and pastors clearly warn me that if I was not careful, burnout would sneak up on me and it would grab me before I knew it.
Two years into our church plant, I was doing exactly what I was warned against and furthermore what I had told myself would never happen. So often, our mindset sets sail with a clear direction and before we know it, the wind blows, the water rises and we become caught up with the “logistics” of our calling rather than the “purpose” of our calling.
A navy psychologist who was attending our church at the time, pulled me aside one Sunday after the service and asked me if I was practicing well care for myself. I had never really given much thought to my spiritual or mental well being since I had planted the church. He began to explain the importance of taking time for myself so I could be on point for the task that God had called me to. Then he made this statement: “A Church will only be as healthy as its leader”. Talk about a wake up call. For the first time on this journey, I took a step back, reflected, repented and decided that there would be a shift in my mindset.
With that shift, the Lord began to speak to me about margins. Typically when we hear the word margin, we think about a page layout in Microsoft Word or Mac Pages. When I draft a letter to someone, the margins in the program that I’m using make sure I stay in the lines. The margins also make sure I don’t put too much content on one page.
When we look at our relationship with God, when we look at the calling that He has placed on our lives, are we implementing margins? Do we place boundaries around ourselves to make sure there is a healthy balance in our lives? I was not and it lead to frustration, weariness and a weak defense system. When that defense system is weak, the enemy identifies the target and attacks. Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV).
I have implemented margins into my life. Margins that will allow me to cultivate a stronger relationship with God, my wife, my children, my church & my friends. I would encourage you to take some time and do an assessment on your flow. Once you assess your flow, ask yourself this question. “Is my flow in the margins or out of the margins”?
Meet Bob Emmons. Bob volunteers regularly on the Set-Up/Tear-Down Crew. Bob is married to Lauren, whose position in the Coast Guard brought them to the area. Next time you see Bob, introduce yourself and thank him for all he does for Watermark. #WeAreWatermarkChurchNC
by: Jonathan Abenti, Connections Crew Leader
A pastor once told me that people can argue your theology, they can argue your opinion, but they cannot argue your experience. Your testimony is yours and no one else’s and as such it is a special tool for you to use to reach the world around you.
Our story is not meant to be kept quiet. The old children’s song tells us to let our “little light” shine before the world. We are to shine our light to show people the way to God (Matthew 5:16). Our testimony is the story of how the light and love of Jesus has changed our lives. It is our responsibility to share it with the world around us.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” (NIV). Your testimony is the answer to the reason you have hope.
1 John 5:10a (HCSB) tells us that everyone who believes in the Son of God (Jesus) already has the testimony of Jesus in them. This means that you are already prepared to tell the world about Jesus! You don’t need a seminary degree. You don’t need to have everything in your life figured out. You don’t need to be an eloquent public speaker. You just need to share your story, your testimony, joining with Jesus in the Great Co-Mission (a mission we GET to do together with Jesus!), and be His witness to the world (Acts 1:8) about what God has done in your life.
What a privilege it is to share with someone the story of what Jesus has done in my life.
If you would like more information about a relationship with Jesus, click here.
Join us this Sunday (8/7 @10AM) as Pastor Jonathan concludes the Behind Enemy Lines series. This series has explored the battles believers face and how we can fight against the past and press on to the future in our personal lives and together as a church. We hope to see you at the Swansboro Rec Center for the conclusion of this series!
Meet Lauren Cooper. Lauren has filled many roles at Watermark and is currently serving as the Crew Leader for H2O, the children’s ministry of Watermark, serving kids through 5th grade. Lauren is a Swansboro native, attended William Peace University in Raleigh, and works as a preschool teacher. When Lauren isn’t working with kids she enjoys riding horses. Next time you see Lauren, introduce yourself and thank her for all she does for the families of Watermark. #WeAreWatermarkChurchNC
Watermark’s Summer Nights study continues on 8/3/16 at 630pm at Emerald Isle West Beach Access (101 Islander Dr., Emerald Isle, NC 28504 (adjacent to the Islander Hotel and Resort).
Grab a friend, bring some food and to share and your Bible and join us as we dive deeper together!
Wednesday, July 27, 2016 was an especially important day in the life of seven Watermark
people. That evening, these seven people publicly declared their faith in Jesus by being baptized! They stood before Watermark church, their friends and family, (and a number of strangers who stopped their walks on the beach to watch), and professed their belief that they are sinners who can never live up to God’s standard of holiness; that Jesus is the Son of God, who lived a sinless life yet paid the penalty for our sins, rose from the dead, and offers eternal life to all who believe in Him!
If you would like to find out more about a relationship with Jesus, check out this page: A Relationship with Jesus.
You can find out more about Watermark Church NC by visiting www.watermarkchurchnc.org.
Meet Christina Ramirez. Christina is the Crew Leader for Media, the crew that handles all the lights, sound, and digital displays during services. Christina is married to Anthony and they are moving into a new house in August. When Christina isn’t behind a sound board she works at Barnes & Noble and enjoys all kinds of “geeky” pursuits, including cosplay. Next time you see Christina introduce yourself and thank her for all she does for Watermark! #WeAreWatermarkChurchNC