Finding Joy When Life is Hard

During our 40-Day Joy Challenge this Lent, we had the most involvement of any church-wide study we have done in the past few years. “The Joy group has been an amazing outlet for me to communicate with other parents and share stories about things we are experiencing with our children. Being able to read the devotional and then apply it to my life has been life changing for me.” — Kristin Sheely. “40 Days not only gives us Paul’s recipe for the Joyful Life that Christ promises to all of us but the author, Tommy Newberry, provides us with the roadmap for “training our brains” to take on a more heavenly perspective in every aspect of our lives and, particularly, difficult and challenging times. Each lesson has brought meaningful discussion in our class about God’s joyful plan for all of us. We have literally run out of time each week as we delve into this more God-centered way of thinking.” – Aldersgate Class

Highlights include:

  • 475 Joy devotional books distributed
  • 2916 Joy page views on the website; 968 are from new folks (more than any other pages on our website other than homepage)
  • 834 visits to the Joy series Sermon Weekly Guide on the Mobile App (one mobile app user is in the Caribbean, and one is in China!)
  • 7 new Joy Small Groups (some of these are unique formations such as: a mom and her 3 adult daughters, a facebook group, visitors from Maryland who are listening to the sermons and watching the videos with their family)
  • Many new folks joined existing Life Groups and Sunday School classes to participate in the Joy Group discussion questions (one Sunday School class has had 8 new folks in 2 weeks; the High School Joy Group had 22 in attendance one Sunday)
  • 3 of the Joy Groups are continuing to meet and are now discussing the James sermon series!

 

Most families will agree that today there is a bigger emphasis on running around and getting things done than there is on making time to connect with others. Thanks to our recent church-wide study based on Tommy Newberry’s 40 Days to a Joy-Filled Life, some in our church family are working to change that situation. Several members opted to participate individually in the study while others chose to organize a group to share the experience. One such group is the one that Rebecca and Karl Boggs were a part of. Sometimes feeling that their spiritual journeys were like solo endeavors, Rebecca acknowledged that they “needed something more, another outlet with more consistency and more accountability.”

Most of the group members already knew each other before the class began, and Rebecca adds that it was “nice to be part of a team whose members were in the same phase of life or stage of parenting.” In other words, they were searching for the energy of relationships to provide inspiration and motivation. Rebecca liked the format of the class: read, discuss, and then watch the video to usher in the next week’s discussion. She also praised the church staff for encouraging everyone to get involved and the pastors for providing continuity between the lessons and their sermons.

As the 40-day study drew to a close, participants agreed that they had benefited from the course and wanted to continue on their spiritual journey together. Now they meet on Sunday evenings when their youngsters are in Crew meetings. However, they have made one small addition: a little fellowship time at the beginning of the meeting to compare notes on how their life journeys are unfolding.    

Dee Swanson

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About Heather McEntee

Director of Communications at Virginia Beach United Methodist. Background in small business and non-profit operations, marketing, and sales for the past 13 years.