Worship is the belief that God is worth it. A great way to express that God is worth our time is by setting aside time to attend a church worship service. A worship service isn't the only way to show God is worth it. It’s possible to have profound worship experiences that aren’t inside the walls of a church.
Worship happens when we release ourselves to God. When the way we treat others, or what we say to others reveals that God is worth it, we worship. Any time we notice what God has done and feel like telling God, "Good job!" we worship.
To get past the quest for more to a quest for meaning, you're going to need some help. After you begin to experience that God is "worth it" in worship, the next step is to connect with other people.
To connect at Ankeny First is to be part of a small group centered on Jesus. He is what we have in common. We are transformed in these relationships as we study the Bible and talk about our faith, seeking to understand Jesus better and follow him more closely. Our differences become opportunities to stretch our understanding of God and the world. What we have in common becomes a foundation of trust. These are the connections that clarify the meaning our lives have.
Connecting with one another opens room for the power of the Holy Spirit. That power is released through the gifts, natural abiliites, and good and bad experiences each of us has had. We all have something of value to offer, and nothing short of the transformation of the world is at stake. Meaningful work is important to having a meaningful life; contributing what you have to the transformation of the world is as meaningful as it gets.
There is more going on when we serve, though. When we respond in service, we find ourselves back at worship, discovering the love of God from the other side as we express love to others with no expectation of repayment. To respond is its own reward; it elevates our ability to praise the worthiness of God.
This all sounds pretty simple, and it is simple. Simple doesn't make it easy, though.
Come along with the end in mind,
knowing that a meaningful life really is about growing in love with God.
Rhonda Alessio joined the staff in January 2007 and has served as Program Staff Assistant, Membership Secretary, Administrative Specialist and now in her current position as Director of Discipleship. Rhonda oversees the Christian Care Cluster and the Discipleship Cluster helping people to move along the Discipleship Pathway, drawing new people to worship services, assisting them in connecting with small groups and mobilizing them for service as well as connecting people to the caring ministries they may need. Rhonda and her husband Joe live in South Des Moines.
Mr. José Clavell began his duties as Director of Traditional Worship for Ankeny First in the summer of 2018. Before his position at Ankeny, he was the Music Director for Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Urbandale, Iowa and a Spanish teacher to Beginner, Advanced, Native, Heritage, and Non-Native students at Des Moines Public Schools for three years. He currently sings with the Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble.
Originally from Puerto Rico, José moved to the midwest in 2013 where he pursued his Master’s of Music in Choral Conducting at Western Illinois University (2015) and is a graduate of Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (Ponce, Puerto Rico, 2012). José avid foodie and beginner blogger. He currently lives in Grimes, Iowa with his dog Moe the westiepoo.
Drew began his employment at Ankeny First in August 2016. Drew was a volunteer in our youth programs and a member of our church community for eight years prior to beginning employment. It was during his time volunteering that he met his wife Kirsten who was also helping out with the programs. The couple have two young children. Drew grew up in the small farming town of Wayland in southeast Iowa. He attended Iowa State University where he received his bachelors in Kinesiology and Health.
Amity joined the staff at Ankeny First in 2015. As Director of Worship, her responsibilities include planning contemporary worship across our worship sites and directing the Children's Music Ministry. Amity has been leading worship at Ankeny First since she began attending the church in 2002. She has a degree in music education and music therapy from Wartburg College. Amity is married to Pastor John Wagner, and they have two children, Gabe and Landry.
Lauren Wilken join our staff as the Associate Youth Director in September 2017. Lauren graduated from Iowa State University in 2011, where she studied education and music. Lauren taught for six years in public schools before being called to youth ministry. Lauren's church involvement has included chancel choir, various children's ministries, worship teams, and show choir camp (her favorite). Lauren and her husband Phil have been worshiping at Ankeny First since 2012, becoming members soon after. They are parents to boy-girl twins, as well as and another little girl.