Arcade Church

Come Home

            Author:  Megan Fera, Teaching Leader, Ezra Women's Conference

"Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and Levites – everyone whose heart God had moved – prepared to go up and build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. All their neighbors assisted them with articles of silver and gold, with goods and livestock, and with valuable gifts, in addition to all the freewill offerings. Moreover, King Cyrus brought out the articles belonging to the temple of the Lord, which Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and had placed in the temple of his god.”            Ezra 1:5-7


When you were little, how did your parents call you home? I can still remember the sound of my mom’s voice across the yard when it was time to stop playing. When I was a teenager, my dad could bring me home just by setting a curfew. But when I entered my 20’s, their voices suddenly sounded muffled. New relationships, new ideas and new forms of sin made home seem like a foreign place. I got myself into some trouble then, and my dad’s call carried a form of pleading.

“Megan, what is going on?” he asked once, when I’d failed out of college and traveled across the country alone, “Honey, just come home.”

But I didn’t want to go home. I wanted to see what Megan could do and who Megan could be. I got a job as a secretary and moved to Switzerland. By then, my dad’s voice became more resigned: “You’ll be alright, honey. Just stick it out.”

That winter, walking beside quiet Lake Geneva and riding around in late-night cabs, I began to wonder about God. And God began to answer. Once, a stranger offered me a car ride and asked piercing questions about Jesus.  A few nights later, a light fixture shattered over my head and sent me, trembling, for my high school Bible. Over the course of months, a new friend shared hours of grace-filled conversation about her own need of forgiveness. I began to see God’s hand in my life and believed what I read in His word. I went home to seek Him in earnest.

That’s the story of my return to God, and it’s the story of Ezra, too. Ezra is the story of a people determined to ignore their Father’s call, until He sends them away to a foreign place. But exile is good for them: after a time, they are ready to love Him again. God moves the hearts of His people, yes, but also their circumstances - overcoming every enemy, providing every necessity, and forgiving ever abundantly so they can worship Him through eternity. That is God’s vision for His people, then and now. Will you let Him move you? He will do whatever it takes to bring you home.

“The hand of our God was on us, and he protected us from enemies and bandits along the way. So we arrived in Jerusalem, where we rested…”             Ezra 8:32.

Join us for the EZRA Women's Conference on Nov 2-3

Why Community Groups Are Vital to The Church


Author: John Cassidy

There was a time when I used to be skeptical about Community Group or a Small Group settings. I thought it was a bit too touchy-feely, and it provided more fuel for the rumor mill instead of fostering true discipleship. Perhaps you have had these feelings too. In this post, I hope to share a little of what I have been learning about Community Groups over the last 6 years and why they are so valuable at Arcade Church.

Here’s why Community groups are important:

Community Groups foster close relationships. 
The Community Group atmosphere is ready-made for building friendships. We cannot promise deep relationships, but we can create atmospheres to meet new people. As a rule, people talk more in small groups. People are quick to recognize needs and help to meet them. The relationships started within Community Groups construct a strong fabric within Arcade. The relationships that are formed outside the walls of the church building are relationships that tend to endure and strengthen over time.

Community Groups provide a comfortable introduction for nonbelievers to the Christian faith. 
I’m skeptical that “inviting people to church” is the best means of evangelism. Don’t get me wrong it is great to invite others to church, but inviting someone to Community Group might be better. Most of us tend to fear forming relationships too quickly, especially when it involves sharing our faith with someone. That is a natural and understandable fear. Inviting someone to a Community Group provides a way to involve a nonbeliever directly into a community of believers—watching them live out their faith, listening to them pray, hearing them share God’s work in their life, and learning more about the Bible. The nonbeliever is more likely to ask questions, get answers, and form relationships with the believers. Community Groups are a powerful missional tool. They allow for the greater spread of the gospel among nonbelievers in Sacramento.

Community Groups provide an ideal way to care for the needs of people within the church. 
When one believer in a Community Group is struggling financially, emotionally, spiritually, socially, etc., it is much easier for the members of the group to notice and provide help. The structure of a Community Group is essentially a community of believing friends. Friends should help one another, especially Christian friends.

Community Groups provide a way for Christians to live out their faith instead of merely hearing more preaching or teaching. 
If Sunday morning is for listening, then the rest of the week is for living. Whether it’s discussing the Sunday sermon, talking about a spiritual battle, or simply praying for one another, Community Groups create a context for Christians to live out their faith in real life.

Community Groups participate in focused prayer for one another. 
Prayer cannot be overrated, but it is often under-practiced. Community Groups offer an environment for members to pray with and for one another. I am grateful to know that my group prays for me during the week. Community Groups at Arcade can make for great prayer meetings.

Community Groups allow for mutual edification among believers. 
It’s easy to depend on the professionals to give us our spiritual food. According to the Bible, God gives spiritual gifts to all believers. The gifts God has given you are for the benefit of the whole church. Every Christian should minister to other Christians with his or her gifts. This happens most naturally, effectively, and purposefully in Community Groups. Plus, we start to realize that other believers face the same problems we do. Edification is at work.

Community Groups encourage better learning. 
Listening to a sermon is a great way to learn the Word, but it is easy to become detached or daydream during a sermon. We become passive listeners. Not so in a Community Group. When a few people are together, every individual is expected to be involved and to participate. This active involvement is an effective way to learn Scripture.

Community Groups help to cultivate leadership within the church. 
Someone has to lead a Community Group or facilitate the discussion. Arcade needs leaders other than the pastors and elders. Thus, Community Groups give opportunities for leadership development at Arcade.

Are you in a Community Group? If not, I want to encourage you to talk to someone at Connection Point Central this Sunday to help you find the best group for you or you can sign up online today!

Shepherds!  Your Lambs Are Dying!

Author: Craig Hardinger


[An open letter to Christian leaders]

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes and death shall be no more
  -Revelation 21:4

I love that line.

Wiping away tears is the ultimate result of Jesus making all things new (Revelation 21:5).

It was also the basic action of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Think about it.  Every miracle he performed was with the intent to show he had the power to wipe away tears.

It seems to me that his church should be engaged in the same kind of ministry – wiping tears.

One of the joys I have as a pastor is to partner with Arcade brothers and sisters in Christ who aggressively seek viable solutions to issues that fall under the umbrella of social justice. Racism, poverty, sex-trafficking and any form of marginalization or social evil work as tear-creators.  It is our mission as followers of Jesus to be his tear-wipers.  

The ministry of tear-wiping is seen more and more in the church today as Christians are, in Jesus-like manner, rolling up their sleeves and engaging in many forms of social justice.  The smile of our heavenly Father is upon such people as they wade knee deep in the muck and mire of poverty, hunger, racial reconciliation, immigration and the like.

However, there is a glaring omission in the short list above - abortion.

Just as there is an increase of pastors and leaders engaged in the social justice of the living, there appears to be a corresponding decrease of leaders who are engaged in the social justice of the dying.

It begs the question, “Why?”

Why is it that pastors/leaders, in one sense, have placed themselves on the front lines of many social justice battles only to go AWOL in others?

I’ve asked around and below are a few responses on why leaders have abandoned or softened their stance in regards to abortion.

  • Lightning rod president.

As of today, the president has positioned himself as being pro-life. Because his popularity has drastically diminished, many wish to distance themselves from anything that he endorses. I get it, but here’s the thing:  the president didn’t launch the pro-life movement nor should he be the sole voice in support of it.  At the risk of sounding snippy – get over it.

 Americans! Your lambs are dying!

  • It’s not pro-life. It’s pro-birth.

This is usually stated in the form of an accusation and is based on the assumption that pro-life advocates are only concerned with the birth of the baby and not the life of the child after birth.  The accusation further asserts that many aborted babies would have lived in abject poverty and oppression.  It is, therefore, a “kindness” to abort them in order to avoid certain suffering in life.   I find it hard to believe that a societal problem can ever be solved by killing members of that society.   Crazy idea:  Let the babies live!

 Leaders! Your lambs are dying!

  • Bigger issues.  More attention.

Existing issues like racism, poverty or immigration are seen as more immediate and therefore more crucial. At the risk of unintentionally minimizing the above issues, are you kidding me?  Leader!  Lead!  I am not asking you to neglect the causes that face our society.  Speak loudly and often about the injustices facing the people in your community.  People are crying and you have been placed strategically by a sovereign God to wipe away tears.  I am asking you to stand for social justice involving all citizens – especially the weak and powerless.  You can’t get any more weak and powerless than the unborn.

Community leaders! Your lambs are dying!

  • The pro-life cause is not trending.

I don’t even know what to say about this one.  Moving on.

Millennials! Your lambs are dying!

  • The pain of guilt.

It is so true – talking about the evils of abortion can pile burden upon burden of guilt on any woman who has had an abortion and the connected families affected.  Insensitive preaching/teaching can add tears, not wipe them away.  No pastor who loves his flock wants to do that.  In such moments when the tears of guilt flow, the gospel of mercy, grace and forgiveness must shine.

Preachers! Your lambs are dying!

  • The sanctity of ALL human life.

This is a subtle way for leaders to exit the conversation/debate about abortion. A typical statement might be, “Rather than focus on one group of marginalized people, every life  matters.”  Great!  Bully for you!  Should we not start with those in our community who have zero voice and are, while alive, being dismembered, scalded or left to expire - alone on a table? Seriously?

Christ followers! Your lambs are dying!

  • Pro-choice and in the closet.

I think we would all be surprised at how many pastors and Christian leaders are silent advocates of the pro-choice movement.  If that’s you – do us all a favor – quit.  Sell insurance.  Sell cars.  Shoot! Sell essential oils.  Don’t preach.

Shepherds! Your lambs are dying!

Fellow followers of Christ, we’re not picking out carpet color here nor debating the sequence of events surrounding the end times.  If our ministry on this planet is one of tear-wiping,  the issue of abortion and the many lives affected by each abortion (60 million and counting) must be at the front of nearly every discussion regarding social justice.  And yet the steam of the movement has been lost to the point where there is barely a mention from many Christian leaders.

Is not our mission to provide a taste of what heaven will be?  Is it not to engage in those issues that drew Jesus’ attention? We must identify all of them, call them what they are, shine a light in the darkness – all the while wiping tears. The tears of the unborn.  The tears of young women who believed the lie that somehow their life would be better because of an abortion. The tears of entire communities/neighborhoods decimated by strategically-placed abortion clinics.[1]  The tears of would-be grandparents. The tears of couples waiting to adopt, longing for that child.

What am I suggesting we do?  To be honest – I don’t think I do enough.  But in truth, anything is better than nothing. 


  • Preach the gospel of life often
  • Encourage and embrace foster care and adoption
  • Church leaders: train and prepare teachers, child-care workers, ushers and greeters to specifically welcome children with disabilities whose parents chose life.
  • Strategically mention the pro-life cause throughout the year
  • Support Alternatives Pregnancy Center or other pro-life ministries
  • Social Media carries weight.  Post!
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
  -Isaiah 40:11



Aw + Us = Joy

Author: Beth Whitney

Let me tell you a little about the Grand Canyon:

It’s big.

Not just big, it’s enormous. Gigantic. HUGE.

If you’ve been there, you’re nodding your head in agreement. If you’ve never seen it, you probably just rolled your eyes.

But really, it is JUST SO BIG.

When I was 15, our family drove across country, which included a stop at the Grand Canyon. My mom warned us to not take pictures: they just wouldn’t do the canyon justice. But being kids, we took pictures anyway. When those photos came back, we were so disappointed. I will say it: Mom was right.

I could spend the next five paragraphs attempting to explain the enormity of the Grand Canyon to you, but that would be a waste of time. You really have to see it for yourself.

Is that what it’s like to describe God? I could tell you about him, use my limited vocabulary to attempt to explain him. But would that do him justice?  

Words alone don’t have the capacity to contain who God is.

Maybe that’s why we gather on Sundays, to experience God together. Yes, during the week I have moments of personal worship. You probably do too. But when we come together there is something special about being in a room full of my brothers and sisters, standing, clapping, praising. Together we are singing for joy to the Lord.

But let’s go back to the Grand Canyon. As I was standing on the edge of the most impressive thing I had ever seen, I looked from the canyon to my sister and brother, and then back again. We were all exclaiming our awe. The joy contained in those shared moments made the experience that much better. Awe expressed together creates joy. The wonder of the Grand Canyon was more wonderfull because we delighted in it together.

This Sunday, like every Sunday, we’re going to stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon of God’s greatness. If we see together who God is and what he’s done, the awe we share with each other will overflow into joy!

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our his hand are the depths of the earth...

Psalm 95:1, 4

See you there?