Rightly Handling the Word of Truth

We recently had our SoCal-wide College Winter Retreat. Many students wanted to make God their top priority, and felt the need to grow in knowledge of God’s Word. It’s been encouraging to see students—even freshmen—challenge themselves to come to campus for 7am DT once a week! 5 freshman girls have been coming faithfully every Tuesday at 7am, and the junior girls and guys have been meeting on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7am.

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Our student leaders have also been meeting for 1-1 DTs with freshmen who can’t make mornings. It’s been a refreshing experience seeing the upperclassmen take the word of God so seriously. Some junior girls have even challenged themselves to read the entire Bible in one year. Not to be outdone, the junior bros are memorizing the 100 Bible verses every self-respecting Christian should know.

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Michelle Wang is a college minister at Gracepoint Irvine.

Bibliopolis: Defying reading statistics

In August 2015, after working for 15 years as a high school English and History teacher, Emily Kim became our official church librarian.

Emily, our church librarian and #1 Gracepoint Bibliophile with her prototypical stack of books!

Emily, our church librarian and #1 Gracepoint Bibliophile with her prototypical stack of books!

Soon after, Emily launched Bibliopolis: a church library specifically geared toward children and teens. Emily recognized the effect that our 21st century, instant gratification culture was having on our youth. In a 2016 Breakpoint article, Eric Metaxas explained how the rise of technology has impacted psychological health, social skill development, and academics. A study by Microsoft concluded that, "The average attention span among American youth is about 8 seconds, less than that of a goldfish." Just last year, Pew Research Center discovered that 24% of Americans hadn't read a single book all year.

Emily created Bibliopolis to promote the love of reading throughout our church and to raise up life-long readers across Gracepoint Berkeley and our church plants. Emily writes, "As Christians, it's so important for us to learn how to engage our minds and enter into dialogue with an author about sustained arguments, ideas, or imagined worlds and characters so that we can become more reasonable, thoughtful, attentive students of the Word, and equipped to fight against all that is in the world that that tells us that the here and now is all there is!"

Emily spurred us on through programs like reading challenges, a Bibliopolis blog, and curating a mini-city of books for children and adults alike. At Bibliopolis headquarters you'll find an array of plants, Ikea furniture, warm drinks, and plush rugs positioned to create a warm, welcoming environment conducive to reading and it's become a beloved corner of our church for readers of all ages.

Enjoying Halfway Herbert in Bibliopolis. Books range from picture books for elementary school kids to chapter books for older students.

Enjoying Halfway Herbert in Bibliopolis. Books range from picture books for elementary school kids to chapter books for older students.

Emily recognized this as a truly extraordinary moment—middle school boys voluntarily reading!

Emily recognized this as a truly extraordinary moment—middle school boys voluntarily reading!

Emily inspired a reading revolution across our churches. Church plants started book tables at Sunday services. Candid snapshots of readers encouraged people to "steal reading moments" throughout their daily schedules. Even Pastor Ed got caught up in the reading mania!

A book table at our UCLA church.

A book table at our UCLA church.

Anywhere in the world can become a place to "steal a reading moment." Even during a bike ride in Alameda!

Anywhere in the world can become a place to "steal a reading moment." Even during a bike ride in Alameda!

Pastor Ed stealing a reading moment with some kids while visiting Gracepoint Riverside.

Pastor Ed stealing a reading moment with some kids while visiting Gracepoint Riverside.

As Bibliopolis helps us defy the reading statistics of today, we're being transformed from goldfish into bookworms. Check out the Bibliopolis blog for reading inspiration and book reviews and recommendations for readers of all ages—fiction, non-fiction, and Christian books too!

By Krystal Han

Krystal is an avid reader herself and serves in our Elderly Care Ministry at Gracepoint Berkeley.

Studying Jesus' Parables with Dr. Gary Burge

This year we had our annual All Team Retreat (ATR) where over 1500 of our church members serving in various ministries across the nation gathered at the Santa Clara Convention Center to hear from God’s word, worship together, and get refreshed before the start of 2019.

A big highlight of our retreat was having Dr. Gary Burge as a guest speaker. Dr. Burge is a New Testament scholar, author, and theologian who teaches at Calvin Theological Seminary. Many of us recall having read some of his writings as commentaries to aid our devotions. Dr. Burge gave us world-class training on how to study, read, and teach the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) as well as the parables. We went through some of the key themes driving the Sermon on the Mount, getting a deeper sense of Jesus’ values and what it takes to cultivate a mature soul. We also learned many features of Middle Eastern storytelling that are key for understanding the context of the parables and came away inspired to approach Scripture with both humility and scholarly curiosity. 

I was personally struck by the way Dr. Burge helped us to ask questions about the cultural framework of Jesus’ time to unearth deeper insights and understand the sophisticated theology of the parables. For example, I learned about the roles of women and judges in ancient Middle Eastern culture that shed light on the Parable of the Persistent Widow in Luke 18. Dr. Burge painted a picture of scenarios in which women in their context could manipulate circumstances through outlandish behavior. This helped me to understand how the parable presents a contrast between the unrighteous judge and God, who is a good judge. If, however, it is the character of the judge that determines the answer, and we have a good judge, then there is no need to be outlandish or manipulative in our prayers. 

Overall, these sessions from our retreat really brought Jesus’ storytelling to life and made me appreciate his words more deeply. I’m grateful for the chance to learn more about God’s word, and motivated to live out 2 Timothy 2:15, our key verse for 2019.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handing the word of truth.
— 2 Timothy 2:15

Josephine Kao graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017 and serves in youth ministry at
Gracepoint Berkeley.

Resume workshop for foster youth with Amy Kinder

San Diego, College Ministry

As a former foster youth, I have a heart for those from similar backgrounds. I’ve always wanted to share the gospel with foster youth. At CAL, I attended an undergraduate program that supported former foster youth attending UC Berkeley. I looked for a program like this at UCSD and found Hope Scholars-a campus group supporting former foster youth attending UCSD. In the past, I tried to get connected but was unsuccessful.

Recently, I held a Resume Workshop for our A2F students and staff. A lot of people found it very helpful. As we were trying different ways to reach new groups of people at UCSD, I realized we could get connected with Hope Scholars by offering a Resume Workshop for their students. Amazingly, they were open to the idea! My current work manager and I ran the workshop together.

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We experienced answered prayers that night. The most crucial one was when the program lead invited me to join their social events throughout the quarter. He thought I could encourage the students and help them to have vision for their lives, given my foster care background. He even invited Dan to join these events! I am thankful for how God opened this door to continue building relationships with these students, with the hope that we can one day share the gospel with them.


Amy Kinder is a campus minister, part of Acts2Fellowship at UCSD.

Preaching Good News to the Elderly

The last time I gave a Bible message was during Valentine’s Day of Compassion in 2017, when I was a college senior. We visited an elderly home to share a bit of God’s love with the residents, and I had the added privilege to speak on behalf of our college group.

Recently, an opportunity came up for any volunteers on the staff team to join our Elderly Care Ministry and to preach the worship service message. I signed up to share God’s Word. I want to do my part in living out 2 Timothy 2:15,

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 

This Sunday, I’m planning to share from Matthew 11:28-30,

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


Uvaldo Chavez is a campus minister, part of Berkeley acts2fellowship.

Interhigh: Why We Do It

What is an hour worth? To the staff at InterHigh, a group that includes software engineers and professionals in the healthcare industry, an hour is worth a lot. They work full weeks, but in their downtime, they’re not resting. Instead, they’re learning songs, writing messages, getting feedback on those messages, and struggling to be creative.

It doesn’t always pay off. Megan H., a staff member in InterHigh, shares, “One time we had a small group sharing with 3 girls. Most of them just stared down and didn’t say anything. We ended up talking a lot while they looked bored, so we ended our sharing time early.”

So why keep going? The three kids at this church belong to one of the 775+ Bay Area congregations that have less than 75 attendees. At these churches, it’s common to find a middle-schooler babysitting while her dad preaches, or a high-schooler attending a service in a language that he doesn’t speak. We might not have much to offer them, but if we don’t try, who will?

InterHigh staff Ben L. with student

InterHigh staff Ben L. with student

So we keep serving: in Castro Valley, San Jose, Richmond, Oakland. And amidst week after week of faithfulness, God works. We’ve gone from 9 churches in 2010 to 56 churches in 2017. 385 ministers have served in IH to-date, driving a total of 303,200 miles, which span a farther distance than from here to the moon!

There’ve been more than 100 salvations since IH began. But often, the person who witnesses these salvations ends up being equally blessed, if not more.

Megan H. with fellow InterHigh staff and their students

Megan H. with fellow InterHigh staff and their students

Megan shares, “Every time I give it my all for these students, I’m saying, I want to be ‘great before the Lord,’ rather than before people. At least I can give them a positive impression of a youth group and hope that they will remember at least 1 thing each week that we teach them.”

Jesus once told a story about a shepherd who left the 99 to seek 1 lost sheep. Who are we to do any less?


Echo Lu is a youth minister, part of Area Youth Ministry.

Ministry from a college student's perspective

Live Christmas music floats through the room—there’s the sound of joyful conversation and laughter. College students are making jokes with various grandmas and grandpas they just met about the recent Cal versus Stanford game. There’s something rare about this intergenerational fellowship. But we hope more and more people get to experience something precious like this, which is why we’re continuing to add to the number of elderly care centers we visit through our Elderly Care Ministry (ECM).

This past December, some of our college students had the opportunity to go to McClure Care Home and minister to elderly residents by putting on a Sunday worship service. This was our first time ever visiting McClure Care Home, so it was an exciting new venture for our students to take on together. They prepared Christmas ornaments as gifts for the residents, a music program complete with instruments and singing, and a message.

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John Lin, a senior in our MakeNew fellowship was thankful that a lot of residents were attentive to the message and even sang along with them. As he was preparing his message on Matthew 9:1-3, he noted, “I was really blessed writing my message. It really solidified my understanding of the Bible in that passage…I have to be able to preach to myself before preaching to others. And I think just writing a message, even if you don’t give it, is something everyone should do. It’s a really good experience.”

He said it was really special for him and his friends to work together—“we set up everything and each person got to own a different task. There was something dynamic about moving together as a group. It’s not one person doing it by themselves, but it’s really all of us trying to follow Jesus together.”

Dare2Share LIVE with Greg Stier and Flame

In October 2018, Dare2Share LIVE was hosted at Gracepoint in Alameda. This was a national, live, 1-day, multi-site simulcast training and outreach event. We were one of 100+ simulcast locations nationwide where tens of thousands of teens and adult leaders were inspired and equipped to share their faith. On the same day, all attendees were released into the surrounding Bay Area to start spiritual conversations and collect canned food to benefit Cityteam Oakland.

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It was awesome to see a new generation of students getting excited about sharing the gospel with their friends and neighbors. We had students and youth group leaders joining us from all over the Bay Area, Sacramento, and even Chico (one group even woke up as early as 5AM to drive down for the event)! We ended up having 580 attendees, and there were 7 salvation decisions. Praise the Lord!

ImpACT Christmas Celebration

What is ImpACT?

Impact brings the Gospel to inner city youth who would never have a chance to hear about Jesus. We also provide academic boost on the side. In a world where a lot of youth do not have very many positive role models outside of their immediate family, Impact is the one place they can see what is possible outside of their family.

Why we do it

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My wife Vanessa and I have been serving in Impact for the past 6 months. I come from an inner city background with family that was in jail and involved in gangs. I joined Impact knowing that these kids come from similar circumstances. The fact that they can come to a place like Impact where they can be safe and learn about God is an incredible privilege that I get to have.

We give messages, lead small groups, do setup and takedown, and lead workdays. During our first Sunday, there were only 8 kids. Now, there are about 25 inner city kids who come each week.

How did that number grow? We have been doing outreach at different schools where the principals have been very welcoming and inviting us to Back-To-School nights and parent-teacher meetings. We want to see the program grow to 40 students.

We’d love to expand Impact and keep up with students over the years so that they don’t fall through the cracks. It’s really sad when they finish 5th grade as very few of them transition to our middle school programs and other churches. We want to figure out a better transition for them.

Impact Christmas Celebration

This past December we had Impact Christmas Celebration. An event that the students can invite their family and friends to see them sing songs and put on a performance to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Many of the students and parents came out of the event very grateful!

Here are some stories:

  • A mom of a student with ADHD was really thankful that we can be with him and love him.

  • Another kid who has been coming for a couple years brought about 10 family members: uncles, grandparents and more.

  • One dad hasn’t been able to really connect to his son and he’s been trying to get him to stop playing so many video games. When this dad found out about Impact, he was really glad his son can come because Impact enabled his son to connect with other people, learn about God, and spend less time playing video games.


Danny Orozco and his wife, Vanessa, lead our Impact ministry, which provide academic enrichment, mentoring, and spiritual guidance to Oakland youth