My God is the prize

Today’s Q & A is with UFC’s associate pastor of community and formation Jerell Carper and his wife Lauren. Jerell brought us Sunday’s sermon on UFC’s second discipleship practice — Communion — with a sermon from John 15 about abiding in the love of God.

Jerell asked us to reframe the language of salvation to see that the prize of salvation is Jesus. The prize is not the final destination, any good gifts that come from a life of faith, or a mystical idea of what Jesus can do for those who trust in Him. The reward is a beautiful union with Jesus, who calls us friends and longs for us to simply be with Him.

We encourage you to listen to the sermon (available here) if you haven’t yet and then consider the questions and associated Rule of Life on pages 16-21 of the UFC Practices of Discipleship handbook, which you may download here. As you review the practices of communion on page 19, we encourage you to think about past teachings from God’s Word on prayer, sabbath, fasting (a series coming to UFC Women in January), silence and solitude, worship, simplicity, and the Lord’s Supper. How is God asking you to respond daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly/annually?

An Interview with Pastor Jerell Carper

What is a fun fact about or a memory with your family?

We first met on a blind date, and we both were pretty cynical about the idea. But it worked out! We also bought an Astro van with plans to turn it into a “weekender” shortly after marriage, but the arrival of our son, Logan, thwarted those plans! 

With the holidays coming, do you have a favorite tradition?

We started this tradition in central Oregon and have continued it in Eugene: each year, in early December, we drive out into the woods, through the snow, and cut down a Christmas tree out in the forest. It always looks a lot smaller out there than it does when we’re trying to get it through the front door and into the living room. 

Jerell and Lauren Carper have two sweet littles — 8-week-old Dylan and 2-year-old Logan.

This fall, we are learning about discipleship. What does discipleship look like in your home (past or present)?

With a 2-year-old and a newborn, we’re still trying to figure out what rhythms we want to build into our family. We do work hard to encourage Logan into creative play or exercise, limiting screen time. We prioritize reading before naps and bed, and that always includes a few stories from “the Bible Book,” as Logan says. As our kids develop, we’re hoping to create a home environment where talking about Jesus isn’t awkward and we’re open and honest about the way our faith connects to the real world. We also hope to have a culture where it’s safe to confess and where forgiveness, like we find in Christ, is abundant. 

Of the six characteristics of a disciple that we are studying (learning, communion, community, compassion, formation, and evangelism), which one do you enjoy the most? Which one would you like to work on?

For me, I’d have to say there’s been a growing interest in compassion, thinking what it looks like to know our neighbors, live well in our city, and prayerfully consider what it looks like to lay down our lives for the interest of others.

Lauren answered: I really enjoy when I get the chance for 20 to 30 minutes of reading the Bible, with coffee and no kids, so learning and communion. I also really have a heart for high school or college-aged girls who are struggling with life and need a mentor figure in their lives. 

How can we be praying for you and your family this fall?

We want to be faithful to what God has for us, and that usual involves decided when to say “yes” and when to say “no.” That can be difficult sometimes with a job in ministry. Join us also as we prayerfully search for ways to heal our son’s eczema and work to faithfully encourage both of our kids to know Christ. 

This week UFC Women is in I Thessalonians 2:1-16. Catch up on our posts and recordings here.