Ben Akers Sample Youth Lesson

Below is an audio file of Ben Akers teaching the youth in Owensboro, KY (where he is finishing up an internship with his local church). Give it a listen and be encouraged!

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Gipe Sabbatical Summary (“deep thoughts by Marshall”)

General Stats:

This summer marks the following family “milestones”:

24th anniversary for Marshall and Becky (August)

9th year at Greenville Grace (on April 16th)

Rhett is in his first year of travel with the Northwood University baseball team

Halli graduates from High School in May


Sabbatical Dates:

March 3 – April 26 (8 weeks)


Is there any significance to the timing this year? Is this some sort of emergency?

[from Marshall] The short answer is “no”. The longer (and more vulnerable) answer is, “not yet”. While we aren’t in crisis, given the transitions the church and our family have gone through both recently and over the last eight to ten years, I (and the elders) feel I’d benefit from some preventative time to “search the contours of my soul” a bit more intentionally, so that burnout is avoided. The elders are not concerned and neither is Becky, or even me. In Danny’s words (that I feel are accurate), some dash-lights are flickering and it would be good to get some time to discern through which ones are on and how the Gospel can be applied to them! I am not broken, but rather need some space. My personality type plus my position of being over much of the daily and weekly administration at Grace have me in a place that makes it difficult for me to dive too deeply into heavier soul matters for very long. This break from the day-to-day will serve myself and Becky by giving us time and space to simply abide in Christ. John 15 makes it clear that unless our doing for Christ flows from our abiding in Christ, we are wasting our time, robbing ourselves of joy, and actually working destruction in our souls. It will be good for me to step away for a time….to just take time. To take some time to process through the last eight years of the goodness of ministry here at this amazing church called Grace that shepherds me more than I shepherd her.


Are you leaving?

Yes. But only for 8 weeks. Some of you know that I have recently begun to sub-contract design hours back to the landscape company I was once a part of, and that just this new year took a few hours away from my week at Grace to do more in that arena. Please know, the addition of those hours in design is not part-one of me stepping away, and this sabbatical part-two. When Becky and I prayed through the decision to pull back a bit at Grace and take on more design time, the Lord made it very, very clear to us that we are called to serve here at Grace…first. To step away, at this juncture, would feel like disobedience to Him. These feelings from the Lord simultaneously thrill and settle us as we love serving at Grace and we love her people more than we ever thought we could. We are as excited about the returning in 8 weeks as we are about the leaving.


Why are you excited to be on sabbatical?

[from Marshall] A few reasons.

First, we won’t be unsupervised and walking through the time alone. Jim Cofield (of CrossPoint Ministries) will be helping Becky and I make the most of our time and encouraging us to keep our expectations realistic. Jim has helped us a church in the past and he and I get along very well…it will be a joy to have him as a source of wisdom, counsel and perspective during the eight weeks!

Second, my own soul. I plan to dig into the book of Isaiah. The Lord has repeatedly brought the book to mind and across my path recently and I am excited to have the time to see what the Lord has for me in it. I hope to see more of God’s faithfulness to His people, faithfulness to His Word, and faithfulness to His character…even when His people are not faithful to Him, His Word, nor His character. I am looking forward to time. Time alone…with God…not for a study, not for a sermon, not for a class, not for a counseling appointment, but for my own soul. I have begun praying that the Lord would use the 8 weeks to foster a deeper hunger for His Word, His people, and His character in my soul, my home, and my future ministry. I pray that I can see His goodness more clearly and apply it to my own story more clearly…and carry that freshness, patience, and hope onward into what the Lord has for us. Join me in praying to those ends.

Third, we are stepping into a new phase of parenting. It’s trite and I often hated hearing it, but they do “grow up so fast”. Parenting for us has (nearly and fully) transitioned from relationships of control and indoctrination to relationships of influence and investment. This is both exciting and…well, a little intimidating. This time away will allow for us to more intentionally seek the Lord in how best to adjust to our new phase in ways that allow us to be more effective ambassadors for Christ to our children. Pray for us as we take time to consider these things in our souls, in our schedules, and in our home. Halli heads off to Wright State in the fall (she will commute but may stay with grandparents in Clayton through the week some) and Rhett (if his college/baseball schedule holds) may only be ‘home’ for 2 months in 2019. Absolute.Craziness. Becky and I hope to use the time to begin to set new rhythms of “normal life” that mesh her (and my) full-time work schedules together to the end of capitalizing on our days together in more intentional ways that can set new patterns for us going forward. I plan to design (some) of the days she works and we will use the other days to just enjoy each other, be it in travel or folding laundry.

And lastly, travel. The break will allow us to travel to watch Rhett play baseball in Florida (our happy place) during his first season as a college athlete. We plan to head out west to CA to attend a nephew’s wedding in April and while there reconnect with many friends there that I’ve not seen in over 10 years. We have a quiet place arranged to stay at while in Florida, as well as in California (through some very, very gracious friends) that will allow for extended periods of quiet…and when in town, plan to conduct our days at a much slower pace…which we also hope to carry on into future ministry and life. All of this, even though we will miss you terribly, thrill us and make us excited for how the Lord will bless the time you’ve given us. Thank you.

We praise God for you when He brings you to mind…which is often.


What is Grace going to do during the sabbatical?

Adjust: Lori Palmer will take on much of what Marshall currently does in the week-to-week, and use the time of him being gone to plan ways to keep it off his plate when he returns. Lori was hired with the intention of her being more “executive” in role rather than “administrative”. She has proven very capable and we are excited to see how the Lord will use the sabbatical period to grow her in the ability to transition from “leading herself” in admin to “leading others” in it. Danny has invited other elders and local pastors to preach so that he is a bit more freed up to minister to those that need it. He plans to preach about 50% of the Sundays instead of the more normal 75%. This gap will allow him to be more present with the ministry needs that come up along the way.


How can we pray during the Sabbatical?

Marshall and Becky: Pray that their schedule (and their souls) allow for rhythmic periods of intentional rest for the purposes of understanding themselves and knowing their God more deeply. Pray for safety as they travel. Pray for the ability to “be all there” where they are, and when they return, to “be all here”.

Grace Church: Pray that we feel the difference of the Gipes being gone, and respond in life-giving ways when things feel different. Pray for discernment and energy for Danny and Lori as they work together as a “skeleton staff” during the weeks of sabbatical.


Gipe Family Sabbatical Update

The Gipes will be on sabbatical the months of March and April. Plans are coming together for their time “away”. They will officially be on sabbatical from all day-to-day ministry responsibilities from March 3 to April 26. They plan to spend some time in Florida (their happy place) and perhaps California to be with family, rest, recalibrate, and then re-enter ministry with a renewed energy in May. Keep watch here for more thoughts from Marshall and Becky on what they plan to do, how they plan to intentionally “unwind” and how the Lord is leading them to search their souls in an intentional way during the 8 weeks.

Come to Vision Night…(there will be cake!)

Our 2019 Vision Night is on Sunday, January 27 @ 6p. Please bring a dessert and join us for a night of celebration! To get you prepped, grab a copy of the (new and improved) Grace Report from the Welcome Center or the tables at the back of the auditorium.  We will have the Associate Director of the Sojourn Network (Dave Owens) here as well as some elders from Gospel Community Church (our recent church plant in Troy, OH). We want to celebrate what the Lord did through your generous giving in 2018 and allow time for you to connect with the visitors and each other. Please bring a dessert and come!

Come and Meet the Akers Family!

We are getting closer to a hire! We have a (second) candidate (and his wife and infant daughter) joining us this weekend! If you’d like to meet Ben and Amanda Akers, they will be available at the church on Saturday, January 19 from 2-5p. (yes, that’s different than previously announced…we decided to start a bit earlier to serve you and them). Ben will be sharing his story and his heart for student ministry at 4p. Please come and meet Ben and Amanda! Let us know your impressions when you meet him! We value your feedback and want you to be a part of the hiring process as much as possible.

Spring Studies are Coming!

The Men and Women’s Ministries of Grace Church are hosting spring studies again this year. The men will be walking through Heath Lambert’s book “Finally Free” for 10 weeks on Monday evenings @ 7p while the women will take 8 weeks to work through a couple resources from Jen Wilkin on the attributes of God on Monday evenings at 7p and Tuesday mornings @ 9:30a. You can sign up for the studies at the Welcome Center on online. Click here to sign up for the Mens Study. Click here for the Monday evening Womens Study. Click here for the Tuesday morning Womens Study. Questions? Call the church office at (937)547-0065 and ask for Lori.

Gipe Family Sabbatical

On November 26, the elders approved for Marshall Gipe to receive an 8-week sabbatical in the spring of 2019. When previously discussing a sabbatical, Marshall and Becky shared that spring would be more convenient for them than a summer sabbatical. Since one goal of a sabbatical is rest, it seemed best to seek to give them such a gift in a time that best suits their situation! Since the two previous sabbaticals the church offered were summer 15 and summer 17, that would put the Gipes on schedule for summer 19. That meant as elders, we needed to consider if spring 2019 or spring 2020 seemed to serve best.

The two factors in offering a sabbatical need to be the condition of the church and the condition of the pastor. As elders, we gave careful thought to the timing of a sabbatical while we are “short-staffed” and calculated if we thought it would create undo pressure or strain upon the body. While any sabbatical creates challenges the body (challenges we’ve seen the Lord use to grow/strengthen us), we do not believe the timing of sabbatical this spring will cause unusual or excessive strain. In fact, we believe the timing can actually be beneficial to the body, the staff and elder team.

We also think the timing lines up well for Marshall and future ministry at Grace. Recently, it’s been exciting to see Marshall processing through being more contemplative and aware of issues of the soul. Over these eight years on staff, it’s been a joy to watch Marshall flourish in the pastoral role as he also helps accomplish administrative tasks. In fact, we believe there is even greater opportunity for Marshall to grow in the area of soul care toward others. We recognize, along with Marshall, that these opportunities are sometimes limited by Marshall wanted to explore some of the issues in his own story before attempting to address such needs in others. The demands of day to day ministry can makes such exploration seem impossible.

Marshall and Becky are working details out for the exact nature and timing of the sabbatical. We know it will look somewhat different than previous sabbaticals as they will need to stay in the Miami Valley for the majority of the sabbatical (Halli’s senior year, plus Becky’s job at “Brigid’s Path”). We’ve arranged a coach to help walk Marshall through his sabbatical and help us know how to make the most of this opportunity.

As more details come together, we will keep you informed. We will plan an evening “family meeting” after Vision Night (since we’re focusing on Mission that evening) to discuss their plans, answer questions and consider how we can all grow through this experience.

Music Ministry Update

We’re very pleased to announce that Corbin Hess is enjoying his time overseeing our music ministry and is willing to continue in his role! We wanted to give Corbin the freedom to assess if the demands of music ministry would be too much to balance with the other demands in his life. From the feedback we have received, people have been very encouraged by Corbin’s service. We were excited to hear from him that he is enjoying serving and does not feel it is overwhelming. In fact, he’s got plans for continuing to advance the ministry as we continue to incorporate different sounds and different teams, and even seek to do fellowships, training and development.

Student Ministry Search Update

We do not have a Student Ministry Director candidate to present or announce, which may lead you think nothing has happened in that area. Quite the contrary, a lot has been taking place and we are getting closer to being able to make a decision on inviting the next member of our staff to join us.

In the last few months, we were able to structure our search process and lay out a good job description for the position, considering the needs at Greenville Grace. We began a search process and have received a number of applications. Recently, we’ve been able to funnel those requests down to a couple really good candidates.

At this point, here’s how you can pray for us:

–Pray for the process. We want to move forward with wisdom and glorify God as we continue to moving forward. At this point, some of the process has to become a bit “organic” in reacting to opportunities and situations rather than rigidly crafted. Pray we move forward in ways that benefit our church and the potential candidates.
–Pray for the students. We don’t want the first time the students meet the candidate to be when he’s already hired for the job! We’d like to see how a candidate interacts with the kids, yet we don’t want to get the students’ hopes up if it didn’t work out for a candidate a student liked. Pray also, with two possible candidates, we definitely don’t want this to have an “American Idol” or “Beauty Pageant” feel.
–Pray for the Youth Staff. They have been awesome! It is their service and attitudes that have allowed us to move patiently, carefully and intentionally. We are so thankful for the ways they have stepped into voids and helped fill them. Pray also that they would be able to make solid connections with the students, even while we’re in a “transition phase.”
–Pray for ~your elders~ all of us. The elders want to lead well. Leading well means not simply making the decision based on the majority view of the congregation, students or even youth staff. However, leading well also means listening intently to students, parents, youth staff and the congregation. Pray that this is not a time that Satan could create divisions, but that we would all be open about communication, sharing thoughts and listening to one another and trusting the Lord to work faithfully in our midst.

Vision Night 2018…please join us!

It’s not too soon for you to be planning to join us for our annual Vision Night (January 27, 2019 @6pm). We know “announcement blogs” say this all the time, but “you won’t want to miss it!” Truly though, this is going to be a special time of celebration, and if you’ve joined us before, you’ll notice it will feel a bit different.

This year, we want to celebrate how God has continued to faithfully advance mission here at Grace. We will do that by taking a look at some past, present and future mission blessings that we have seen. That morning, Dave Owens (Associate Director of Sojourn Network) will be sharing with us in the sermon, but also joining us to discuss our planting partnerships and faithful growth we have seen in the Sojourn Network. We’ve also invited to the elders of Gospel Community Church to return and celebrate with us that evening and join us in a panel discussion about joys/trials of their church planting experience. We’ll also provide more detail about our church plant hopes (perhaps for fall of 2020), Lord willing. We’ll also share more about how our “Generosity Fund” allowed us to support many different ministries/missionaries in “spontaneous ways” throughout 2018!

It will be a time of gathering, celebrating and hearing from members of these teams. (And if we’re going to celebrate…that obviously means there will be some light refreshments!) Because of this change in format, it will be even more critical for members to grab a Grace Report when they come out in January, so they can become acquainted with other ministries that have been taking place over 2018.