Purpose in the desert

The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.
In their wandering, they became so focused on themselves and their circumstances, 
they forgot that God was with them. 
God’s chosen people forgot who they were and they forgot who God was.
Though the Israelites wandering would eventually lead them to their freedom,
there was purpose in the desert that went beyond their destination.

Our deserts have purpose too. Our wilderness wandering isn’t wasted.
We don’t have to know where it will lead to know that God is working.
He is for us. He is faithful. We can trust in his goodness and his plan.
Sometimes in our hurry to get to the relief of the rescue, 
we miss the sweetness of his whispers while we wait. 

When we lift our hands and our eyes in worship, 
we are reminded of who he is and who we are in him.
As we worship, our focus is shifted from self to the One who satisfies. 
He is our all sufficient sustainer. 
He remains our Savior regardless of the climate or season we find ourselves in.

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When you've been in the desert, you feel it.
Dry, thirsty, and dusty from the lack of water
there is no mistaking your location.

Here in the desert, patience is difficult and the enemy is real.
Whispered lies of defeat are amplified because what you hear around you is empty.
Nothing.

Hope is swiftly hollowed out by the weight that brought you to this wasteland.
How did you get here? What are you doing here? 
Did you take a wrong turn?
Does it matter?

You're here. 
You can choose to close your eyes when the wind picks up
and the grains of sand are beating against your fragile skin. 
You can choose to lay down in defeat and despair

when the thirst is killing you and the heat is too much, 
but pretending you are somewhere else
doesn't ever make it so.

The only way out of this desert is through it, 
and you're not getting out of here alone. 
Lift up your eyes. Lift up your hands. 

The rain is coming. 
You have already been rescued. 
Let him pull you out.

He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.  Hosea 6:3

-Aimee Thornton
Worship Associate

Editor's note:  In addition to leading our weekend worship, Aimee also creates the liturgy for our weekend services.

Our Concierge Team is Welcoming Newcomers to Five Oaks!

If you’ve been at Five Oaks over the past few months, you’ve heard the weekend hosts say ‘We know how difficult finding a new church can be…’ during our welcome time. The part that you might not know is how much this is resonating with our new visitors! We’ve heard story after story of how much people appreciate that we’re acknowledging how hard it can be, and how we’re trying to make that process easier for them.

Enter the Five Oaks Concierge Team! This is a new team in the Connections Ministry, whose main purpose is to help new people feel more comfortable as they come to Five Oaks for the first time.

Here’s how it works - our Concierge Team meets new families in the Treehouse, helps them check their kids in, shows them to their classrooms, and connects them with their teachers. Once the kiddos are comfortable, the Concierge walks with the grown-ups down to the worship center, connects them with an Usher, who helps get them seated. On the way, the Concierge engages our guest in a bit of conversation about who they are, lets them know about our newcomers’ Discovery Class, and gives them an Acorn Café token for a beverage on us.

It’s a simple process, but it’s having a big impact on those who have gone through it. More than once, we’ve had people tell us how grateful they were to have someone personally connect with them as they visited our church for the first time!

We have a fantastic Concierge Team, and I want to send out a thank you to these folks for stepping into this new role – Brent & Carie Jorgenson, Jay & Laurie Dorenkamp, Jordan & Morgan Whitney, Amy Evans, Scott Erickson, Mark DuVal, Nicole Gustafson & Brian Burquest.  

However – even though they’re an awesome group – we can always use more of you helping welcome our guests! If you enjoy hospitality or meeting new people, or if you remember what it’s like to be that new person and want to help others in that same boat, we’d love to have you. Give me a shout at phawley@fiveoakschurch.org, and let’s talk about getting you involved in the Concierge Team!

Until next time…

Pam Hawley, 

Associate Director of Connections

It changes us!

I am going to break from the normal blog posts of what we have been studying in the children's wing, to tell you about what I (Rhiannon) have been studying. 

A few weeks ago, some of our Family and Discipleship team had to privilege to attend the Orange Conference in Atlanta. We had the opportunity to spend time together as a team and talk vision, as well as time to laugh well together and share stories. Our guest list of speakers included, only to name a few, Andy Stanley, Bob Goff, Reggie Joiner, and none other than Bernice King (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter) herself. The speakers were amazing and break out sessions were great, but there was one speaker and breakout session that tugged at my heart, and something that God has been stirring in my heart already, received a big old push! 

The speakers name was Kara Powell. She is a co-author of the books Sticky Faith and Growing Young. The breakout was a quick brain download of the book Growing Young. The very quick gist of the book is that it helps pastors and ministry leaders to position their churches to engage younger generations in a way that brings life to the whole church. 

When I first started my job here at Five Oaks, I began as the nursery coordinator. I asked God many times, why this position, after all, Children's Ministry was never a title I thought that I would see attached to my name. It was months before God whispered to me, "Faith is heavy. Adults have a lot of burdens within their faith, and I wanted you to see the refreshment of faith like a child!" 

Weekend after weekend I stand at my hostess stand and watch the child like faith of your kids here at Five Oaks and it inspires me to love my faith in a whole new way. It's a breath of fresh air every weekend.

Recently I asked God if this is still where He wanted me. I want to strive to always be in the place that He leads. I have a passions for healthy marriages, leading and coming alongside families, but is this the still the place that God wants me to be? The answer came during that workshop with Kara Powell. 

She made a statement that has haunted my heart and thoughts since the minute she spoke it; "We should want for all kids, as if they were our own. It doesn't just change them. It changes us!" 

It changes us! I haven't fully decompressed how or why, but that statement makes my heart so excited that my face can't help but smile. What refreshing breath we breathe when we reach our and truly love kids as if they were our own. Not just a face in the classroom, or just a student teach, but truly hope for them what I would hope for my own children.

I want to spend a few weeks writing and sharing with you a bit of what God has unpacked in my heart through this statement. I hope it will be as exciting for you as it is for me. In wrapping up this blog, I wanted to share the prayer card that I received from her breakout.

Dear Jesus. Help me see young people with your eyes. I pray that they would find IDENTITY in you, BELONGING in your church & PURPOSE in your mission. Amen!

Game Café: that's a wrap!

Game Café 2017 was  a phenomenal success! Over 400 Five Oakers and your friends, family and neighbors joined us for a night of fantastic food and unplugged fun. Many of you played Bingo, your kids bounced their way through the inflatable obstacle course, and best of all - Pastor Henry got schooled in Catan, by my 15 year-old son no less! A huge thank you to Barry Schalkle for leading two competitive rounds of Team Trivia Challenge. I was able to slip into one of those, and it was such a blast. I knew a few answers, but was more impressed to see how much the "under 20" crowd knew!

It’s always encouraging to have so many new people walk through our doors, to see a little bit of what we’re all about. Seeing great conversations and laughter happening all around the building – that just warmed my heart.

I want to especially thank all of you who volunteered to make this event happen. There were 100 volunteer spots, and you came through!! We could never have pulled it off without those of you who baked treats, helped set up and clean up, served dinner (so yummy!), supervised inflatables, and much more.

Saving the best for last, I am so grateful to our FUN Team - - these are the people I get to work with who planned, recruited and made this whole event happen: Missy Smutny, Meleah Miller, Jenna Friedman, Kristin Sellers, Peg Benson, Marge Lindberg, Katie Viesselman, Shawn Grams, Jennifer Cretzmeyer … you all are the "muscle" behind this crazy fun event. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Until the next FUN Team event…

Your FUN Team Director,


Pam Hawley
Associate Director of Connections

Worship leader update

Much prayer continues for discernment and wisdom for who will be called next to help lead us in worship. We have our search team assembled and have hit the ground in our search.

We have made connections with some incredible potential leaders already! So, we ask for your prayer in the process. We are taking resumés and videos from potential leaders over the coming weeks.

Over the next couple months, we will have some guest worship leaders coming to help out and lead us in worship. We will keep you updated to when a leader is leading as one of the final candidates for the position.

And as always, if you have any questions. Feel free to email me: jhaage@fiveoakschurch.org.

-Jonathan Haage
Pastor of Worship Services
Small Groups Pastor

You blessed us this Easter

I just want to give a huge shout out to everyone at Five Oaks who stepped up to serve for our extra Easter services.  Twenty-seven people responded by turning in an Easter serve brochure and filled spots as teachers, greeters, ushers and baristas.  It's not too late if you would like to serve at Easter, but have not yet turned in your sign-up card.  Please e-mail me, Jennifer Clemens, at jclemens@fiveoakschurch.org and let me know WHEN you can serve and WHAT area you would like to help.  This is a perfect time to test out an area to serve with a one-time opportunity at Easter.

-Jennifer Clemens
Connections Director

Grieving a loved one at Easter

If you have lost a loved one you can probably resonate with the feeling of holidays being bittersweet. Gathering around the dinner table to celebrate a joyous occasion, but remembering the ones who are not sitting there with you. I know this sentiment well as Easter Sunday, April 16, marks three years since my dad passed away.  

As my mother, my siblings, and I surrounded my father while he took his final breaths, some of us were able to choke out the words to an old hymn. “ To God be the glory, great things he has done, So loved He the world that He gave us His Son, Who yielded His life our redemption to win, And opened the life-gate that all may go in.” Even through the tears and sorrow in the moment of my dad leaving this earth, the Holy Spirit brought peace to my heart knowing my dad had just entered heaven. 

While Easter will be a difficult day for me, it also brings me peace knowing the reason I celebrate this holiday is the same reason I know my dad is in heaven today. Jesus came so we could have an abundant life here on earth and eternal life as well. 

Whatever state of mind you might be in on Easter, in joy or sorrow, in anxiety or peace, in love or in anger, it's okay. Bring your heart, and God will meet you there. Let’s join together and give praise to God the Father for sending His Son, Jesus. Praise Jesus for coming to earth to rescue us. And praise the Holy Spirit for comforting us through the heartache that comes in this life. 

Blessings, 
Martha Young
Administrative Assistant, Connections and Students