by Anna Ferraro
All people have relationships in their lives. And all relationships have challenges. With that in mind, Anthony Applegate, pastor at Jacksonville Church of Christ, has teamed up with Jerry and Lynn Jones – experts in the field of relationships – to talk about all things relationship-related. Applegate explained, “This conference will delve into all the relationships we have in our lives. Some are good, some are not so good. But all can be improved. The Jones’s will talk about the things that go on in our relationships at times — how we can be better people for these scenarios. That [message] runs the gamut of society. There is a lot in that conference that will be very good for married people, and a lot of those principles apply to unmarried people, divorced, widowed, engaged, really, us all.”
This conference is the second of Applegate’s major outreach effort into the community since coming to Jacksonville in February of 2016. Applegate shares, “Before coming to Jacksonville, my wife and I had served in two other churches as youth and family minsters in churches in Texas and New Mexico. Those churches came to a place where situations were changing for the congregation and for us, so we were looking at where to go next with that. When we learned that the ministry position here in Jacksonville was open, we made contact here in the church, and did all the fun interviewing things. We moved up here to begin this ministry” — a ministry that emphasized in community outreach.
There are some new things here for Applegate, for example, this is his first full-time preaching position. He shares, “I’ve accumulated a lot of experience in different ways and different roles that I’ve filled — but this was a significant move for us. It [was] really easy to be the guy who [didn’t] have to stand in the pulpit each Sunday, but now I am [that guy].” In addition to bringing in a conference for the community, Applegate directed the Fall Festival on the grounds of Jacksonville Church for Christ, in addition to continuing the church’s other ministries of serving at the New Directions homeless shelter at Grace United Methodist Church.
Overall, Applegate shares, “This upcoming conference will be helpful to folks in understanding who they are and how they can make the most of their relationships.” He continued, “The folks that will hear the most and will be most helped — younger married couples, and young to middle-aged families. Husbands and wives that wake up and look at each other and say, ‘I knew you one time.’” For this, Applegate believes that Jerry and Lynn Jones will bring the advice and connection these individuals and families need. And he should know, because his relationship with them spans many years. He explained, “I have worked with Jerry and Lynn when they would come to our church in Texas. Each time we invited them, it was the best thing we did in having them reach out into the community. We got feedback like, ‘this [conference] was so good in thinking about what was going on in my life and my relationships. … Marriage, family, relationships — those are the core of life for most people. …” The best part about this conference is, “[The Jones’s bring a lot of ‘personal’ into this. There’s always some theoretical. When they talk about going through a divorce, or the death of a spouse, they’ve walked through that too. They explain that the emotional gamut you go through for both those events is almost the same. Lynn is a divorcee, and Jerry’s first wife died many years ago. While they bring their own personal experience into this, they have the documents on the wall, too to support their advice and counseling.”
Jerry Jones holds a doctoral degree in theology and two master’s degrees. An author of 12 books, he is in high-demand as a joint-speaker with his wife, having presented over 400 conferences in 43 states and four foreign countries. Lynn holds her master’s degree in clinical psychology and boasts a resume of university teaching as well. Their “Relationships Matter” conference is enthusiastically received wherever it goes. Applegate is excited for Jacksonville to be one of their next locations. He shares, “Here, we’re always looking for how we can serve people in practical ways, and then look for ways to talk about God’s Word and how it can apply to their lives. … We want to show the people here that God’s Word has very helpful things to say to them about their lives and the things they are trying to be successful at.”
The Relationships Matter conference is scheduled for May 6-9, 2018. Consistent with their mission, Jacksonville Church of Christ is doing everything possible to make this event convenient for attendees – providing childcare, light meals, and a variety of session times, all free of charge. For more information, contact Jacksonville Church of Christ at (217) 254-5001, visit the church’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jaxchurch, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.