Parents Responsibility

September 11, 2017 by  
Filed under In The News

In Touch – September 11, 2017

Words are but a small part of parental communication. Now let’s look at two types of messages we should purposefully model for our kids.
First, boys and girls need affirmation that they are loved, accepted, and competent. God the Father spoke those very things to His Son. It is essential that our children gain a sense of security and belonging at home so they won’t seek acceptance elsewhere. And the way we care and provide for them will help them grasp the heavenly Father’s love.
Second, parents are responsible for presenting the principles needed for living a godly life. One way to do so is by reading Scripture aloud and sharing stories of the Lord’s involvement in our lives. But actions must match what we say. For example, we cannot expect children to truly understand the golden rule if we act with selfishness, arrogance, or insensitivity.
Modeling a godly life is oftentimes an intentional pursuit, like reading Scripture or serving as a family on a mission trip. It can also be as simple and unplanned as picking up a piece of trash on a neighbor’s lawn. But keep in mind that actions and words aren’t always perceived correctly. Check that your children’s understanding matches the message you hope to communicate.
Your words and actions are teaching lessons. Do your children know, beyond any doubt, that they’re treasured and capable? Are you giving them the tools they need to follow Christ? Remember, God doesn’t expect perfection. He will guide the willing heart—and cover missteps with His grace.

10 Unfair Expectations of Pastors’ Wives

September 11, 2017 by  
Filed under In The News

By Thom S. Rainer | Sep 10, 2017 9:28 AM

The pastor’s wife in many churches carries heavy burdens.

Sometimes they are impossible expectations.

So what are some of these unfair expectations? Here are the top ten expectations imposed upon these ladies.

1. “I am expected to attend every function at the church.” One wife told us that church members resent it when she is seen doing anything outside the church.

2. “Many church members expect me to know everything that is happening in the church.” In other words, they should know everything their pastor/husband knows.

3. “We have several church members who feel free to complain to me about my husband.” So her church has several members who are lacking in emotional intelligence.

4. “Church members utilize me as a de facto assistant to my husband, giving me messages for him.” One wife shared with us that she received eleven messages to give to her husband after a specific worship service.

5. “I am still amazed how many church members expect me to function as an employee of the church.” Some are expected to lead music or play piano. Others are expected to act in a specific ministry employee role such as student or children’s director.

6. “Some of the members expect our children to be perfect and act perfect.” One wife explained that she and her husband were new to a church when a church member confronted them about their misbehaving children. Their outlandish sin was running in the church after a worship service.

7. “I am always supposed to be perfectly made up and dressed when I leave the house.” A church member expressed her dismay to a pastor’s wife who ran into a grocery store without makeup. You can’t make this stuff up.

8. “I have no freedom at our church to be anything but perfectly emotionally composed.” This story really got to me. A deacon chastised a pastor’s wife for shedding tears at church four days after her dad died.

9. “I think some of our church members expect my family to take a vow of poverty.” She was specifically referring to the criticism she received for purchasing a six-year-old minivan after her third child was born.

10. “So many church members expect me to be their best friend.” And obviously a pastor’s wife can’t be the best friend to everyone, so she disappoints or angers others.

These are some of the comments we have received at this blog over the years from pastors’ wives. And it seems as though these trials are more gender biased. For example, the husband of a children’s minister commented that he rarely has the pressure and expectations that he sees imposed upon female spouses.

But more than other staff positions, the pastor is naturally the focus of attention and, often, criticism.

And the pastor’s family, by extension, becomes the focus of unfair and unreasonable expectations.

Why Many of Our Churches Are Still One Color

August 21, 2017 by  
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By Thom S. Rainer , Aug 20, 2017 10:02 AM

“What’s wrong with our church?”

It was a sincere question. The elder wanted to know why there seems to be a steady erosion of attendance, discipleship, and evangelism at his church.

Then I showed him the demographics of the church’s community. Over 40 percent of the area was non-white and growing, but the church was above 95 percent white. My response was simple. “You are not connecting with your community. The ethnic and racial diversity of the community is not reflected in the church.”

This church is one of tens of thousands of congregations that are one color, one race, or one group. Why? Why is this reality still taking place today? Let’s look at six reasons.

1. Racism still exists. Racism has not gone away. The events of this weekend in Virginia remind us of that tragic reality. Some pastors are still fired because they encourage racial and ethnic diversity in their churches. Other forms of racism are more subtle, but no less toxic.

2. There is no intentionality. Churches that are evangelistic have leaders and members who are intentional about reaching people for Christ. Churches that better reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of our world are more intentional about praying, seeking, and acting upon their desire to reach people who may not look like them.

3. The leadership of the church is not diverse. If the ministry staff and lay leadership do not reflect the diversity of the community, the church is sending a clear message. The diverse community cannot have a true voice in the church if it is not represented in the leadership of the church.

4. Many church leaders and members do not know what takes place in their own communities. Many times when I have met with church leaders and shared the demographics and realities of the members of their community, they express total surprise at what is taking place. Their church is a bubble. Or to use another metaphor, the congregation is an island of sameness in a community of diversity.

5. There is no planned effort to connect with the community. Sure, it’s helpful to have events on the church property for the community. But it’s even better to go to the community where they are. The “go” approach is much more meaningful and biblical than the “you come” approach.

6. The current church members do not intentionally connect more deeply with the diverse members of the community. When I met with the leaders of one church, some of the leaders expressed frustration they were not connecting well with the diversity of the community where they were located. They told me that the community members were welcomed and received well when they came to a worship service. I then asked if they were ever invited to their small groups or to the church members’ homes. Silence. To their credit, they got it, and they are doing much better reflecting the community they serve today.

“After this I looked and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9, CSB).

Such is the diversity of the Kingdom.

And so should be our churches.

How Valuable Is Your Soul?

July 29, 2017 by  
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BY DAN DELZELL Jul 29, 2017 | 9:29 AM

What if you owned a diamond worth millions of dollars, but you thought it was just a worthless piece of glass? Would you do anything to protect it from being lost or stolen if you were unaware of its true value?

And what if you assumed that a painting you owned was an original worth $250,000; but it was actually just a copy worth less than $100?

Obviously, our perception of an item’s value is not the same thing as the actual value. Sometimes human beings get it wrong, and are shocked to eventually learn the true value of a particular item. These surprising revelations often come as a result of an appraisal by an expert.

Now who do you suppose is the world’s greatest expert when it comes to man’s immortal soul? Does anyone understand the value of the human soul more than the One who created it in the first place?

God certainly has impressive credentials, to say the least. “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)

And yes, God did indeed make visible and invisible things. Angels are invisible to the human eye, as is man’s soul; and yet both were created by God.

And it was Jesus who placed tremendous emphasis on man’s soul when He said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

The bottom line is that a person can definitely be wrong about the value of a diamond in his possession, and a person can also be wrong about the value of his soul.

While losing millions of dollars is a huge financial loss in this life, losing your soul is an eternal loss that brings agonizing pain to a person forever. In other words, believers will never leave heaven and unbelievers will never leave hell. And you will spend eternity in one of those two places. This is why Jesus stressed the value of your soul. He wants you to understand its value while there is still time to do something about it.

When Jesus died on the cross for sinners, He demonstrated once and for all the eternal value of man’s soul.

Without Christ’s death, you and I would have no access to God and no entrance into heaven. If we only had Moses and God’s commandments but not Jesus, we would be lost forever. The apostle Paul wrote, “If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Galatians 2:21)

So do you think Christ died for nothing?

The truth is that Jesus died to redeem your soul. God wants to live with you forever in heaven. But if you refuse God’s gracious invitation, He won’t force you to appreciate the priceless value of your soul. Instead, He will allow you to perish if you are determined to do so, even though He wants you to “repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15)

One of the worst things sin does is blind man from seeing the true value of his soul. And when this happens, men live like animals who are destined to perish, rather than like the special creation God made us to be.

“God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

God is three in One: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And you also are three in one: body, soul, and spirit.

These three components are spelled out in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

You might think everyone would jump for joy when hearing this wonderful news, right? Wrong. Many people choose to live for the temporary pursuit of sin rather than the eternal welfare of their soul. And those who make this deadly decision “exchange the truth of God for a lie.” (Romans 1:25)

It’s not as though God’s majestic power and glory are hidden from our sight. In fact, “the heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.” (Psalm 19:1-3)

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:20-22)

How devastated would you be if you threw away a diamond that you later came to learn was actually worth millions of dollars? And how distraught will you be if you lose your soul in the pursuit of materialism? What do you think will be of greater value to you once you leave this world: expensive diamonds, or the health and comfort of your immortal soul?

Jesus Christ will always be the King of Kings, regardless of whether or not you receive Him by faith and accept Him as your Lord and Savior. (John 1:12)

The “real you” will exist forever in one of two places; whether you go to heaven and joyfully worship the King, or go to hell and hate the way things turned out for you.

So make your choice in this world, and then be prepared to reap the outcome in eternity. Don’t believe the lie in our culture today as men and women proudly proclaim that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” The truth is that our actions have consequences. You see, what happens on earth definitely has repercussions in the world to come.

So just how valuable is your soul? And what, if anything, are you doing to help keep it protected in a safe place so that you don’t lose it?

5 Truths a Church Must Wake Up to So Revival Can Happen

July 10, 2017 by  
Filed under In The News

 

BY GREG STIER Jul 10, 2017 | 7:28 AM

 Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14

“The Christian world is in a deep sleep. Nothing but a loud voice can waken them out of it!” — George Whitefield, 1739

It’s time to wake up our churches to the need for revival and spiritual awakening. It’s time to answer the Holy Spirit’s wake up call!

Think about the potential of a fully awakened church. There were just 120 members of the original church in Acts chapter one. But these believers were calling out to God for his Spirit in a ten day, non-stop prayer service!

God answered their prayers in Acts 2. The Spirit came and their little church exploded from 120 to well over 3,000 in attendance in an instant!

And unlike the early church in Acts 1 we don’t have to pray to receive the Spirit…we already have Him (Ephesians 1:13,14.) The question is does He have us? Are we yielding ourselves to him in full surrender? If we were our churches would be exploding with new disciples!

The indwelling Holy Spirit is calling us and giving us His wake up call! Will we answer that call?

Here are 5 truths a church must wake up to so that revival can happen.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

When prayer becomes the engine, not the caboose, of our ministry efforts then our churches become an unstoppable train that advance the Gospel in unimaginable ways!

To experience this we must learn how to pray with passion, focus and faith. We must pray for the lost. We must pray for each other. We must pray for this nation. We must pray for the world. We must pray that God intervenes to break up the hard soil of unregenerate hearts and send forth seed chuckers who will spread his message everywhere to everyone!

Let’s wake up to the need to pray!

2. Wake up to the need for holiness!

“‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’ In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:19-21

God only serves revival on clean plates so we must purify our hearts! If there is sin in the camp we need to address it. If there is sin in our lives we need to confess it.

We need to have people in our lives that keep us accountable in these areas so that, together, we can walk in purity. As James 5:16 reminds us, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

As my old youth ministry professor used to say, “We confess to God to be forgiven. We confess to each other to get healed.” May we have churches that encourage this kind of relational reality checks so that we get beyond the surface of “everything’s fine” to the raw struggles underneath that all of us have. As we do we can live an increasingly holy life that leverages the power of our prayers with heaven! Again, as James reminds us, “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

Let’s wake up to the need for holiness!

3. Wake up to the necessity of faith!

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

“…without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14) and without faith no one will ever experience holiness! Living a life of true holiness that increases our prayer impact is not a matter of keeping a list or trying to erase our sins in our own human strength. It’s a matter of living a life of faith in Christ who can live his already-conquered-sin-through-the-cross resurrection life through us!

Our churches can be revived as, together, we live a life of faith that God uses to purify our hearts (Acts 15:9.) And when we live like this our prayers will have an ever-increasing impact ! Like Daniel, the angels who deliver the answers to our prayers could say to us, “As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed.” (Daniel 9:23.)

Faith in Christ purifies our hearts and propels our prayers. And it also opens our mouth to proclaim the Gospel!

4. Wake up to the urgency of the Gospel!

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

A revived church is a Gospel Advancing church. It is a church that unashamedly brings the Good News of Jesus to a world in desperate need of it.

We must wake up to the need to share the Gospel!

Can you hear the voices of those who have passed on to the next life? Some are leaning over the banister of heaven calling down. Others are looking up from the flames of hell screaming out. But both have the same message, “Tell others so they can experience hope in the next life.”

Gospel urgency requires Gospel fluency. In other words, if the people in your church are motivated to share the Good News of Jesus but can’t articulate that message in a clear and compelling way then it will lead nowhere.

5. Wake up to the potential of youth!

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 1 Corinthians 1:27

Since there’s nothing more “foolish” than the typical American teenager we shouldn’t underestimate these young people as a potent agent of revival. God loves to use the unlikely to accomplish the unimaginable because it brings unbelievable glory to him!

Teenagers come to Christ quicker and can spread the Gospel faster and farther than adults. So the quickest way to revive a church is through the youth! That’s why I challenge you to unleash their potential by getting them to make and multiply disciples.

Youth ministry is strategic. Every Great Awakening in the history of the United States has had teenagers on the leading edge.

It’s time.

It’s time for revival!

It’s time to pray to God, purify our hearts and proclaim the Gospel!

It’s time to unleash the next generation to make and multiply disciples until everyone everywhere hears the Good News of Jesus!

The Holy Spirit is giving us a wake up call. Let’s answer it!

 

 

How to Guard Against Funeral Scammers

June 19, 2017 by  
Filed under In The News

 

BY CHUCK BENTLEY Jun 16, 2017 | 7:26 AM

 An acquaintance at work recently shared the trauma a close friend experienced planning a sudden funeral then discovering criminals had accessed his deceased family member’s bank accounts. How can we protect ourselves and prepare for the inevitable?

It’s hard to believe, but there are scammers who prey on the vulnerability of those grieving the death of a loved one. To protect your family members and others facing the same scenario, I’ve gathered some helpful tips on a variety of issues.

Guard Personal Information

Criminals are experts at retrieving personal information from hospitals and funeral homes. They study published obituaries.

So, when writing an obituary, do not give the decedent’s birthdate, address, mother’s maiden name or any other information thieves can use to their advantage. Unfortunately, criminals can purchase a Social Security number online for as little as $10, and with little information, access accounts, open new ones, file taxes and even collect refunds. Even family members, favorite pets, and memberships in organizations are pieces of info they can piece together to hack your accounts. Shocking, but true! The less information you give, the better you are protected.

Guard Against Imposters

Criminals may also pose as Debt Collectors, calling and threatening legal action if you don’t pay fees they say you owe to release important documents. They sound legitimate and are armed with information, but you should never, ever make payments or release information over the phone. Ask for their name, phone number, and company so you can return the call. They usually hang up. If you suspect this is a legitimate debt, you should still wait and call them back after getting legal advice, because you may not be responsible for the debt.

Thieves may pose as Insurance Agents claiming a loved one left you a large insurance policy. Their ploy is to wire the money AFTER you pay the final premium payment. Some pose as lawyers, claiming you need to pay a fee to process the inheritance. ALWAYS ask for details and refuse to pay fees. Sometimes a secret inheritance or policies are left, just be discerning.
People have also been targeted by fake IRS Agents who demand information by phone or email. But the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers to request personal information or call with threats of lawsuits or arrests. Block and delete these numbers if they continue.Sometimes long lost relatives attend funerals — some may be legitimate but others may be posing. Screen them thoroughly, confirm identity with other relatives, and ask imposters to leave. If they insist they are owed inheritance, money, or property, call your attorney.Funeral and Burial Pricing

A federal regulation called the Funeral Rule protects consumers by requiring funeral businesses to give clear pricing information. A general price list helps people choose only what they want to purchase. Funeral homes cannot require services that are optional by law, like embalming. You should not be charged extra if you choose to buy a less expensive casket elsewhere.

Ask for any legal cemetery or crematory requirements. Don’t give in to sales pressure, manipulation, or guilt. Costs add up quickly, so take a discerning friend or relative with you to help you make decisions and stay within budget.

Request that someone stay in your home during the service. Burglars can easily find out funeral arrangements and your home address.

Who to Notify

Get at least 12 certified copies of the death certificate. Provide copies to the IRS, VA, DMV, Equifax, Experian, Trans Union, banks, brokerages, credit card and mortgage companies, insurance firms, etc. Use certified mail and keep track of where certificates are sent. Immigration agencies, public libraries, fitness clubs, and private organizations will need to be notified as well. Cancel the driver’s license to prevent fraudulent duplicates from being issued and used in criminal activity.

Request “deceased alert” on the decedent’s credit report. Arrange with each credit bureau to get a copy of his/her credit report to review lists of accounts and credit card activity. Check the credit report in six months for any suspicious activity and notify the police if anything looks odd.

Documents proving you’re the spouse or estate executor will be needed if someone asks you to demonstrate authority in representing the deceased’s estate. This is where a binder of all necessary paperwork needed upon death is a gift to your family.

File your loved one’s tax returns for the year in which they died and as early as possible.

Surviving Spouse’s Checklist

Crown and Bare Wealth Advisors have prepared a checklist of actions we advise for the first 48 hours and the following weeks of a loved one’s passing. It’s an easy guide to follow for a very difficult and emotional time.

Remember — you can be a wise steward when facing life or death. Nothing can separate you from His love. David wrote in Psalm 23: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

 

 

6 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Holy Spirit

June 12, 2017 by  
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BY SHANE PRUITT

Jun 11, 2017 | 8:29 AM

I’ve heard other leaders say that as evangelical Christians we typically treat the Holy Spirit as that weird uncle or cousin of the family. We know He exists, and we know that He is a part of the Trinity of God, but because we don’t  know what to do with Him, we tend to ignore Him.There can definitely be a lot of confusion, emotionalism, and flat out abuse of the Scriptures when it comes to the doctrine, presence, and work of the Holy Spirit. However, if we don’t desperately depend upon the Holy Spirit while living our daily lives, then we can never expect to walk and live in the freedom and victory that only comes from the Spirit of our great God!

One of the most important things we can do as Christians is to constantly remember the job descriptions of the Holy Spirit. The résumé of the Holy Spirit could literally fill large libraries! However, I am going to use this brief moment of your day to point out at least six truths about the Holy Spirit that we simply can’t ignore in faithfully walkng with Jesus:
1. The Holy Spirit authored the Scriptures.Anything that we know about God and how to live with God comes from the Bible. We are thankful that the Holy Spirit authored the Scriptures through the pens of men!

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” – 2 Timothy 3:16

“…knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” – 2 Peter 1:20 – 21

2. The Holy Spirit exalts Jesus.

Any kind of work of the Spirit that puts more focus on “giftings,” “expressions,” and “fillings” than it does Jesus, you can be sure that work is not from the Holy Spirit. The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to exalt Jesus. The Spirit has come that we might be deeply impressed with the person of Jesus Christ and go away excited about His work.

“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” – John 15:26

3. The Holy Spirit makes us the church.

The church is a not a building, but rather the church is a people. When the Spirit of God makes His home inside of us as believers, we become the church. We are now the temple of the Holy Spirit sent to tell the world that Jesus is alive!

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16

4. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.

First, the Spirit awakens us to the reality of sin and the need of a Savior. Second, as a born-again child of God, the Spirit in us will awaken a heightened sense of sin. Where things may not have bothered us before, now there is a grieving that takes place when there is sin.

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” – John 16:8

5. The Holy Spirit guides us in everyday life. We’re completely dependent on the work of the Spirit to help us understand His Scriptures, to accurately guide us to live according to the Word, and to direct us in the ways of righteousness and holiness.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22 – 23

6. The Holy Spirit seals believers until the day of redemption.

One of God’s great desires is for His people to feel secure in His love and power as they go out to be witnesses to the world. Everything else in life may be unpredictable and unstable — our health, job, relationships, and the world. However, our identity in Christ and eternal destination are completely sealed, and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:30

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38 – 39

Lord, make us Spirit-filled Christians who faithfully proclaim the Spirit-authored Scriptures to a people who are being Spirit-awakened for the glory of God to be witnesses to a lost world that’s in desperate need of the Spirit’s work!

 

8 Major Changes in Churches the Past 10 Years

May 16, 2017 by  
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BY THOM S. RAINER May 16, 2017 | 7:40 AM

 Such has been the reality of too many congregations the past ten years as the rate of church closures has accelerated. Many have died; others are on life support.

But what are some of the major changes that have taken place in congregations that are doing relatively well? What are some of the ways these congregations have adapted to new realities? Here is a hint: None of the changes in healthy churches have compromised doctrine, diminished the centrality of preaching, or abandoned sharing the gospel.So what changes have occurred in healthy churches in the last decade? Here are eight of them:

1. Today: Smaller worship gatherings.
 Ten years ago: Larger worship gatherings.
There are several factors impacting this change, among them more multi-site churches, more non-traditional worship times, and a desire among the Millennials to be a part of a smaller gathering rather than a larger gathering.

2. Today: Smaller church facilities
 Ten years ago: Larger church facilities
There are three major issues at work here. First, church leaders are more hesitant to spend funds on largely unused facilities. Second, churches are building with less space for adult small groups or Sunday school, and are choosing to have those groups meet off-site or on non-worship days. Third, the smaller worship gathering noted above means smaller worship centers.

3. Today: First priority staff person hired: children’s minister
 Ten years ago: First priority staff person hired: worship leader
This shift is largely influenced by the large Millennial generation and their children. Millennials are looking for a church that is safe, sanitary, educational, and fun for their children.

4. Today: Ministry degree optional for church staff members
 Ten years ago: Ministry degree strongly preferred for church staff
Churches today are more likely to call someone on staff from within their congregations. That person may not have a Bible college or seminary degree.5. Today: Emphasis on congregational singing
 Ten years ago: Emphasis on performance singing
Healthy churches are seeing an awakening of congregational singing today. Ten years ago, contemporary churches emphasized the performance of the praise team and band, while traditional churches emphasized the performance of the choir and soloists.6. Today: Community focus
 Ten years ago: Community myopia
Too many churches the past two decades all but abandoned their communities and are paying the price for their shorts-sightedness today. Healthy churches realize that the community is their place of ministry, their “Jerusalem” of Acts 1:8.

7. Today: Vital importance of groups
 Ten years ago: Marginal importance of groups
Healthy churches today make groups (community groups, home groups, Sunday school, life groups, etc.) a high priority. Ten years ago, many church leaders did not see how groups could enhance the health of the church in discipleship, evangelism, prayer, ministry, and fellowship.

8. Today: Church leaders are continuous learners
 Ten years ago: Church leaders were “degree and done”
For several decades, church leaders essentially ended their education process with a college or seminary degree. In today’s ever-changing world, leaders of healthy churches have intentionally established a discipline of continuous learning.
These eight major shifts took place in a relatively brief period.

 

 

5 Common but Unreasonable Requests Church Members Make of Pastors

May 4, 2017 by  
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BY THOM S. RAINER Apr 30, 2017 | 9:32 AM

 ”I need you to do a funeral for my cat.”

Yes, that is a request made to a pastor by a church member. And here’s the stranger reality. I have heard from dozens of pastors who have had this very request.

I assume the cats in question were dead.

Though I have heard hundreds of strange and unreasonable requests made to pastors, five of them are common. In fact, most pastors will encounter all five of these requests in the course of their ministries.

1. Ask certain people to leave the church. The common theme is the request to get people who are not like us to leave the church. A church member asked one pastor to have a separate church service in the trailer park for “those people coming to our church.” Yes, really.

2. Accept a gift with unreasonable expectations. The most recent was the offer of a $10,000 gift if the church signed a document agreeing to keep fresh flowers on his grave in perpetuity. I assume he meant the request to be posthumous.

3. Do a pet funeral. A recent example was the request to do the funeral of a turtle. Can we really know if the turtle is dead? I guess our olfactory senses will confirm its death.

4. Travel out of town to minister to a distant relative. I lead a pastors forum called Church Answers and get a lot of great input and questions. One pastor in the forum asked me about a request a church member made for him to visit a cousin in the hospital. But the surgery was minor and outpatient. The one-way distance was 225 miles. And the cousin was active in a church in her hometown. The church member left the church because the pastor declined.
5. Leave the church. Many pastors are asked to leave the church for the most outlandish reasons. I remember the first time a church member asked me to leave the church. She said, “God told her” I was supposed to leave because I was bringing too many unbelievers and new Christians to the church. And then she said the cringe-worthy words, “They are just not like us.”Keep in mind, these five unreasonable requests are common. These are not the outliers. In fact, they are so common that I am now suggesting seminaries add a course for every one of them (tongue in cheek, of course).

You just have to love pastors. Their lives are often stressful, but never boring.

 

 

Indianapolis Diocese Installs First-Ever Black Female Bishop in Episcopal Church History

May 3, 2017 by  
Filed under In The News

 

BY MICHAEL GRYBOSKI

May 3, 2017 | 11:23 AM

 

The Episcopal Church has officially consecrated the first African-American woman to head a diocese in the mainline denomination’s history.
 


(PHOTO: DIOCESE OF INDIANAPOLIS)The Right Reverend Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis, receiving the Bishop’s Crozier from the retiring The Right Reverend Catherine Waynick, 10th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.

The Right Reverend Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, who was elected last October, was officially consecrated Saturday as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.

Kathy Copas, coordinator of Communication and Evangelism at the Diocese of Indianapolis, told The Christian Post that approximately 1,400 people attended the consecration service, which was held at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University.

“Bishop Baskerville-Burrows was elected at the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis annual convention in October 2016. She was elected on the second ballot by a simple majority of both clergy and laity,” explained Copas.

“The Episcopal Church is where I found my relationship with Jesus some 30 years ago … It teaches me that the world is filled with incredible beauty and unspeakable pain and that God is deeply in the midst of it all loving us fiercely,” explained Baskerville-Burrows in an entry on the Indianapolis Diocese’s website.

“So each day, nourished by the sacraments and stories of our faith, the beauty of our liturgical tradition, the wide embrace of this Christian community, I learn over and over again how to live without fear.”

Dozens of bishops were in attendance for the ceremony, which included multiple processions featuring church leadership.

The Most Reverend Michael Curry, the first African-American presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church, served as chief consecrator for the Saturday service.

Diocese of Chicago Bishop Jeffrey Lee preached the sermon, telling those gathered that “you have called a strong, loving and wise pastor to be your bishop.”

“She will love you, challenge you, tell you the truth as she sees it and invite you to tell it as you do,” said Lee, as reported by Episcopal News Service.

“She will pray with you at the drop of a hat and care for you in ways that will not diminish your own agency. She will empower you. She will lead. Count on it.”

 

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