Mel Gibson Brings Passion To Pastors Conference





Global Pastors Network's late founder, Bill Bright, met with the writer-director before his death.
Oscar-winning director Mel Gibson will bring his controversial new film about the death of Christ to a major pastors conference this month.

Attendees at the 2004 Beyond All Limits conference, to be held Jan. 21-23 at Calvary Assembly in Orlando, Fla., will have an opportunity to view an exclusive showing of The Passion of the Christ on the first night of the event.

Sponsored by the Global Pastors Network (GPN), the conference exemplifies the vision of its late founder, Bill Bright. Gibson visited Bright several days before his death and later agreed to offer conference-goers an opportunity to preview the film before its release.

"The theme of the first night of the conference is 'Committed to the Master,'" said James Davis, director of the conference and founder of Cutting Edge International. "So it's very appropriate that we show this film afterward."

Set to release in February and rated R because of violence, The Passion of the Christ is a graphic depiction of Christ's last hours that Gibson, a devout Catholic, funded and produced through his Icon Productions. The film has been bashed by interfaith scholars who felt Gibson's literal interpretation of the biblical account could spawn anti-Semitism, but the film has received a warm welcome in the evangelical community.

Gibson has already shown the film to several evangelical groups, including the Full Gospel Business Men's (FGBM) Fellowship. He believes that the Holy Spirit led him to make the film, The New Yorker reported.

"I'm not a preacher, and I'm not a pastor, but I really feel my career was leading me to make this," Gibson said. "The Holy Ghost was working through me on this film, and I was just directing traffic. I hope the film has the power to evangelize."

More than 80 denominations, 40 nations and six continents will be represented at Beyond All Limits. This diversity reflects Bill Bright's passion for unity and evangelism worldwide, James Davis told Ministries Today.

"It represents who Dr. Bright is," said Davis, an ordained Assemblies of God evangelist. "He worked with all the major denominations of the world. He had big arms that stretched wide."

"We believe that if we leave our egos and logos behind, we can fulfill the Great Commission in our lifetime," Davis said. "A synergistic mind-set is where future ministry is going to be. Partnership is the key word--not only in the business sector, but in the ministry today."

The conference will be accessible not only to attendees in Orlando but also to pastors throughout the world. The entire event will be aired via eight satellites to 212 nations, Davis said.

To honor Bright's legacy, the six recipients of the first-ever Bill Bright Leadership Award will be announced during the conference. This award will be given to one pastor from each continent "who epitomizes Great Commission leadership" through 10 characteristics: surrendered life, scriptural life, Spirit-filled life, soul-winning life, serving life, sanctified life, selfless life, sacrificial life, stewardship life and successful life.

Additionally, GPN will unveil its Web-based pastors curriculum. A resource that will be made available to Christian leaders, the curriculum is composed of 100 courses, taught by pastors and professors from the United States and abroad, representing a wide denominational spectrum. Each course is composed of 15 six-minute segments available to Internet users anywhere in the world.

For more information on Beyond All Limits 2 Pastors Conference, call 866-899-9628 or visit their Web site at www.globalpastorsnetwork.org.
Source: Charisma magazine, Global Pastors Network


TRENDS

Are Children's Ministries Taking a Back Seat?

Some children's pastors of thriving charismatic megachurches say an alarming percentage of congregations nationwide fail to support their ministries for young people. They are concerned that churches that intentionally or unintentionally neglect their children's ministries risk losing a large portion of their congregations.

"In talking to children's pastors, I would say that 60 to 70 percent of them are vastly underfunded, and their ministries lack space, resources and volunteers," said Anthony Meyers, children's pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, pastored by Bishop T.D. Jakes.

"They have not been viewed as vital to the overall ministry," Meyers said during the CharismaLife Children's Conference, held in the fall of 2003 in the Orlando, Fla., area.

Jon and Debra Carr, children's pastors at World Changers Church International in College Park, Ga., pastored by Creflo and Taffi Dollar, pointed out that many black churches do not get behind their children's ministries.

"I don't see a lot of participation," said Debra Carr, 47, who along with her husband was one of the speakers of the conference, which attracted about 500 people active in children's ministries. "But it's not because they don't care. It's because they're not aware of the resources available." "Or the growth potential," Jon Carr, 51, interjected.

In the five years the Carrs have served at World Changers, their children's ministry has tripled, now attracting about 4,000 children weekly.

Meyers, who like the Carrs has worked in children's and youth ministry for 20 years, said nearly 4,000 children attend services at The Potter's House--up from about 600 kids three years ago.

Despite the large percentage of churches that are seemingly apathetic to children's ministries, Meyers, 40, said: "I believe in the next five to 10 years, kids church is going to explode. Churches that don't pour into children will notice families leaving their congregations."
For more information, visit: www.kidschurch.com, www.thepottershouse.org, www.worldchangers.org.
Source: Charisma News Service


EVANGELISM

Pentecostalism Shaping Nations

Christianity--especially Pentecostalism--is attracting followers as never before in developing countries, according to The New York Times.

In an October article, the newspaper noted that the growth is "changing the complexion and practice of the Christian faith and other religions in a fervid competition for souls, generating new tremors" in places such as Nigeria and Brazil.

"The new Christian expansion is particularly striking in Pentecostalism," The Times reported. "Emphasizing a direct line to God, its boisterous, unmediated style of worship employs healings, speaking in tongues and casting out demons."

Growing Pentecostal congregations--a quarter of all Christians worldwide--are "bumping up against established Christian churches and Islam in Africa, and chipping away at what has long been a virtual Roman Catholic monopoly in Latin America."

For example, in Brazil, the emotional services at thousands of Pentecostal churches "amount to a religious revolution in the world's largest Catholic country," The newspaper said.

In the 25 years of Pope John Paul II's papacy, Brazil's Protestant population has quad- rupled, with the biggest surge coming in the 1990s among evangelical and Pentecostal groups. More than 25 million Brazilians belong to such churches.

Meanwhile, in West Africa, hundreds of thousands of Nigerians endure two-hour traffic jams to reach evangelical campgrounds with Pentecostal churches as large as airplane hangars.

"Pentecostalism has captured hearts and minds in countries where the precariousness of ordinary living makes rich and poor alike turn to divine intervention," the newspaper noted.
Source: The New York Times


Leadership Transitions at 'Pensacola Revival'

Associate pastor Randy Feldschau assumes leadership at Brownsville Assembly of God.

With the October resignation of John Kilpatrick from Brownsville Assembly of God, all of the leaders of a revival movement that defined Pentecostalism during the 1990s have departed.

Kilpatrick, 53, who for 21 years pastored Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Fla., says he plans to focus his ministry now on mentoring other pastors. His resignation follows the departures of Steve Hill, Michael Brown and Lindell Cooley--names synonymous with the Brownsville revival.

Kilpatrick is succeeded by Randy Feldschau, 42, who had been an associate pastor at the church since August. Feldschau was elected by the church body during a business meeting on Sunday, Nov. 23.

A week before Kilpatrick's resignation, Cooley, 40, the church's worship leader, announced his resignation. He told Charisma that he intends to plant a church in Nashville, Tenn., where he was based before coming to Pensacola nine years ago.

Evangelist Steve Hill, who moved to Pensacola and preached there nightly for several years, left in June 2000 and planted a church in Dallas in the summer of 2003.

Michael Brown, who helped launch the Brownsville Revival School of Ministry, split from the church in 2001 and started his own school, which is currently based in Harrisburg, N.C.

Brownsville Assembly became a flash point for revivalism in June 1995, when a visit from evangelist Steve Hill on Father's Day triggered an unusual outburst of Pentecostal fervor. Christians and non-Christians alike attended protracted meetings at the church, prompting observers to call it "the Pensacola revival."

"The Lord told me that He has called me to be a father [to leaders]," Kilpatrick told Charisma magazine. "Brownsville needs to move ahead, but it cannot move ahead with me at the helm because my mantle has changed."

At the height of the revival in 1996 and 1997, when meetings were held almost every night of the week, visitors from around the world stood in long lines outside the church to get seats.

Today, the lines are shorter and revival services are held on Friday nights only. Kilpatrick said the church now has about 3,000 members, and a training center the church launched in the late 1990s is grooming 320 students for full-time ministry.

Kilpatrick emphasized that he will remain a member of Brownsville and will base his traveling ministry in Pensacola. Kilpatrick estimates that up to 10,000 pastors visited his church during the revival. About 600 attended a ministers conference he hosted at Brownsville in November.
For more information, visit: www.brownsville-revival.org.
Source: Charisma News Service


OBITUARY

Church on the Way Pastor Dies Unexpectedly

Scott Bauer, senior pastor of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif., a Foursquare congregation founded by Jack Hayford, died Oct. 24 after a brain aneurysm ruptured at the conclusion of the midweek service two days before. He was 49.

"It is with deep sadness and great rejoicing we announce the homegoing of pastor Scott Bauer," a message from the church's Web site says. "The Bauer family and the elders of The Church on the Way want to thank the host of believers worldwide who have expressed their love and sympathy."

A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Oral Roberts University, Bauer was Hayford's son-in-law and supervisor of the Los Angeles North Valley District of Foursquare churches. He took over as senior pastor of The Church on the Way in 1999 after serving with Hayford since 1982. The church's council has asked Hayford to lead the 12,000-member congregation.

"Scott was a respected brother, pastor and leader within our church, as well as to the body of Christ at large," Paul Risser, president of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, said in a statement. "The impact of this loss will be felt around the world."

A memorial service was held Oct. 29 at The Church on the Way. Bauer is survived by his wife, Rebecca, two sons, a daughter, his parents and three siblings.
For more information, visit: www.tcotw.org.
Source: Charisma News Service


The Snoring 20s: A New Generation of Leaders?

Twenty-somethings are a sleeping giant--the leadership base of tomorrow's church. Unfortunately, only 4 percent of them serve in lay leadership in a local church.

This is despite the fact that people in their 20s and early 30s are actually more likely than are older adults to think of themselves as leaders--and they are much more likely than mature generations to want additional training to become better leaders.

A recent Barna Research Group (BRG) study noted the disturbing exodus of adults in their 20s from church participation. Although many were active in churches during their teens, millions of adults are relegating church attendance to the back burner.

According to the survey of 2,660 20-somethings, only three out of 10 (31 percent) attend church in a typical week, compared to four out of 10 of those in their 30s (42 percent) and nearly half of all adults age 40 and older (49 percent).

While their church participation has waned, Barna researcher David Kinnaman cautions against the suggestion that they have discarded "all traces of spirituality and faith." More than eight out of 10 20-somethings said that their religious faith is very important in their lives and nearly six out of 10 claimed to have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their lives.

They are not questioning God, Kinnaman said. But "their disenchantment has raised questions for churches related to relevance, discipleship, authenticity and much more."

Thus, he notes, potential young leaders are a challenging target for leadership preparation "since they are busy, skeptical of churches, and often unwilling to commit to leadership development, especially to classroom-style training without hands-on leadership opportunities."
For more information, visit: www.barna.org.
Source: Barna Research Group


RESEARCH

Small Churches, Big Potential

Small churches are becoming more numerous and are capable of reaching a demographic often untouched by megachurches, said Carl Dudley, a professor and congregational analyst at Hartford Seminary and the Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

"Small churches are a different breed," he explained in a recent interview published by the National Pastors' Prayer Network. "It's not like people don't know they could go to large churches. They decide they want to maintain small churches. And they do it because of intimacy--the kind of caring that is typical in a small congregation."

He suggests that, contrary to common conceptions, small churches are often more accepting of diverse people than larger churches. The larger the church, the more likely there will be small groups that will allow certain types of people to fit in without being accepted by the larger congregation.

"In the large congregation you can join a group," he said. "In the small congregation, you have to join the whole thing." Small churches can emphasize the uniqueness of individuals and not make people conform either organizationally or structurally.

Because of the intimacy engendered by small churches, they don't tend to grow as quickly as their larger counterparts. "Small congregations can only absorb as many people as they can get to know," Dudley said.

The only way a small church can grow into a large church, Dudley contended, is if it is "willing to give up the essential character of being small" by breaking the church up into groups. "If they [pastors] will permit groups to exist in which they don't know everybody, they [small churches] can grow," he said. Their authenticity can be especially effective in "neighborhood churches," which tend to focus their energies toward creating an environment that reflects the demographics of the neighborhood--a place of identity and acceptance within the wider community.
For more information, visit: www.nppn.org.
Source: National Pastors' Prayer Network


INNOVATIONS

Floating Chapel Sails Uncharted Waters

An Australian congregation has a unique ministry that takes the gospel to uncharted waters. Southport Church of Christ's (SCC) Church on the Water is "a relaxed" church service held on a floating chapel, which is called Our Lady on the Sea.

Billed as the world's first floating chapel, Our Lady­which was built in 1997 and features stained-glass windows--offers panoramic views of the Gold Coast in Queensland.

The vessel leaves at 10 a.m. for Sunday-morning service, which features a Bible reading, gospel music and a brief message from a pastor. The floating chapel, which typically returns to the dock by noon, mainly caters to people who do not regularly attend a church. There is no charge and no offering is taken, but reservations are required.

"Church on the Water is an opportunity to celebrate the joy and creativity of the Christian faith," SCC's Web site says. "While aboard you can hear the good news about Jesus Christ ... and question and explore life-related issues such as how to attain love, joy, inner peace, contentment and spiritual fulfillment."

Associated with Churches of Christ in Australia, SCC draws about 600 people for Sunday-morning services.
For more information on Church on the Water, visit: www.scc.org.au.
Source: Assist News Service


IDEAS

Better Than Letterman?

It's not exactly the gospel according to David Letterman, but the pastor of a Church of God (COG) congregation (Cleveland, Tenn.) with an innovative midweek service in the Tampa, Fla., area said God and the late-night TV host inspired it.

Rodney McKinley, 37, associate pastor at Abundant Life Ministries in Largo, is the "host" of "Wednesday Night Live (WNL) with Pastor Rodney"­which turns the typical Bible-study session on its ear.

McKinley opens the hour-long program at 7 p.m. with a monologue and some lighthearted banter with co-host Steve Parro. Every week there's a top 10 list with some religious connection (for example, "Reasons Why God Made Eve"). Then they welcome the guests: costumed characters straight out of the Bible.

The program is complemented by a backdrop, a desk for McKinley, a couch for Parro and the visitors, plus a live band that provides musical interludes. A cameraman films all the action, giving the sense of a live TV production.

The program is a big hit, tripling attendance from 50 parishioners to about 150 for Wednesday-night services.

"It's not just church folks who are coming," McKinley, the son of a COG pastor, told Ministries Today. "They're bringing their neighbors, friends and co-workers. No matter how much fun we have, Jesus is still the center of the show. We never end it without giving someone the opportunity to receive Christ."

To date, 35 people have become Christians and rededicated their lives to Christ. Other church leaders have contacted McKinley about ways to work WNL into their own ministries.
Source: The Tampa Tribune


NEW BITES

Reverse Sign-ology

A small charismatic congregation in Texas is using reverse psychology to promote the biblical admonition to "judge not." Country Community Church in Kerrville erected the sign "First Condemning Church of Kerrville" in an effort to stir reactions and grab attention, according to David Dodge, pastor of the 50-member nondenominational congregation.

The congregation officially changed the name of the church to Christian Community Church, but Dodge, 59, said the condemning sign bluntly points out the judgmental nature of many churches and encourages Christians to look at their condemning thoughts toward others.

"Lots of people stay away from the church because of condemnation--be it real or imagined," Dodge said.

"Since we put it up, we've had visitors every Sunday," Dodge said. "They realize that we're the opposite of what we're advertising." Dodge launched a Web site: www.condemners.com.
Source: Charisma News Service

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