Life http://ministrytodaymag.com/life Mon, 29 Aug 2016 04:50:48 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Why You Need These Types of Volunteers in Your Children's Ministry http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/children/23114-why-you-need-these-types-of-volunteers-in-your-children-s-ministry http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/children/23114-why-you-need-these-types-of-volunteers-in-your-children-s-ministry

Did you know that there are 10 special volunteers that you need on your team? Let me introduce them to you. I know they have "cheesy" names, but trust me, get them on your team and your ministry will flourish. 

Faithful Frederick. He is dependable. He is consistent. You can count on him to be there, week in and week out. And if he's going to be out of town, he will let you know ahead of time. His faithfulness will not only make him a pillar in your ministry, but kids will feel safe and secure as well because he will be a consistent adult in their life at church. 

Prayer Warrior Patricia. She prays for the ministry. She prays for the kids. She prays for the other volunteers. She prays for you. The time she spends in her prayer closet brings a fresh anointing of God's Spirit upon the ministry.

Feedback Francesca. She provides you with one of the greatest gifts you can receive from a volunteer—feedback! She helps you know what's working and what's not working. Her input keeps you from making the same mistake twice. And don't label her as a complainer; she has your best interest in mind. In fact, don't wait for her feedback—ask for it. 

Role Model Reggie. Do you have boys who need a role model? He is your man. He makes a great small group leader. He is a man of character and integrity. He knows how to make an impact in the lives of kids.

Calming Cassandra. She works wonders in the nursery. Have a little one that is crying? Just bring him to Cassandra. She helps make the nursery a calm, reassuring place for babies and parents alike. She's everyone's sweet little grandmother. 

High-Schooler Hayden. He's who every kid wants to be and they look up to him. Sometimes he needs a little extra shepherding just because he's still young himself, but what an impact he can make in the lives of the kids.

Second-Mile Sierra. She's your right hand. She comes in during the week and helps prepare the rooms. She's at every training meeting. She sends birthday cards to the kids in her class. She spends money out of her own pocket on supplies. She helps until the last task is done and then asks, "Is there anything else I can help with?" Sometimes you have to tell her to go home. You don't know what you'd do without her.

Happy Hadassah. You make sure she's the first person a new family sees when they walk through the doors. Her smiling face puts everyone she meets at ease and brightens their day.

Big Kid Bryan. He's a grown man, but he still knows how to act like a big kid when he's serving. He gets right in the middle of the kids and plays games, laughs with them and makes activities lots of fun. He's a kid magnet and they love being in his class.

Cheerleader Chelsey. She brings energy and excitement to the team. She's the life of the volunteer party. She encourages everyone around her and lifts their spirits. She is Mrs. Optimism.

As you read through these, I'm sure you thought of some real people on your team who exemplify these characteristics. Drop them a note this week and thank them for who they are and for what they bring to the team. 

And, if you're missing any of these people on your team, I pray God will send them to you. They can help make your team complete. {eoa}

Dale Hudson has been in children's ministry for over 27 years. He is the director of children's ministry at Christ Fellowship Church in South Florida. Christ Fellowship has nine campuses and ministers to over 25,000 people on weekends. Dale leads a children's ministry staff team of over 70 and a volunteer team of over 2,600. He has authored 100 Best Ideas to Turbocharge Your Children's Ministry100 Best Ideas to Turbocharge Your Preschool MinistryChildren's Ministry in the 21st CenturySunday School That Worksthe ChurchLeaders.com Top 100 book, and If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry.

For the original article, visit relevantchildrensministry.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Dale Hudson ) Children Wed, 24 Aug 2016 21:00:00 -0400
How to Replace Ego and Self-Centeredness With Genuine Worship http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/worship/23111-how-to-replace-ego-and-self-centeredness-with-genuine-worship http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/worship/23111-how-to-replace-ego-and-self-centeredness-with-genuine-worship

Jesus said to remove the log in our own eye before we remove the plank in another's. And so when I talk about genuine worship, I long for that reality in my team—that every musician, every singer, every volunteer would be focused on the main thing. But I know it starts with me.

Leader, it starts with you. Really, it starts with all of us taking responsibility for ourselves, whether you are a worship leader, a singer, an admin or a guitar genius.

Guard your focus. Most people enter into ministry or volunteering in a local church with a passion for the glory of God. They've tasted and seen He is good and they want others to see what they have seen. To taste what they have tasted. To know the God they have come to know.

People want to make a difference in the world, to move beyond meeting their own needs and making a living.

But at some point along the journey, a person's talent can become central. It becomes less about ministering to the Lord and more about getting an opportunity. It becomes less about others encountering the greatness of God and more about being scheduled more. It becomes less about serving your local church and instead your local church serving and stroking your ego.

As Ryan Holiday says in his book, Ego is the Enemy:

"Ego is the enemy of what you want and of what you have: Of mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success. It repulses advantages and opportunities. It's a magnet for enemies and errors."

It's a slow decline. Envy, ego and self-centeredness don't show up overnight. No one wakes up, steps in front of the mirror and says:

"I am going to be a jerk today. It's all about me, my talent, and my opportunities. I'm going to withhold encouragement from others. I'm going to complain behind my leader's back. I'm going to stir up dissension. I'm going to be unhappy and bring my worst attitude to draw attention to everything that's wrong with the church and everyone in it. It's all about me and my needs. You can do this, self. Let's wreak some havoc today."

It's never that. But our actions can quickly and easily line up with this viewpoint even though we'd never phrase it like this.

It's when we allow our eyes to drift from the Savior to the stage.

It's when we trade compassion for criticism.

It's when we make ourselves the center rather than the glory of Jesus and building up the body of Christ. It's a week-by-week, moment-by-moment choice.

3 Ways to Foster Genuine Worship

Let's talk about some ways to combat our tendency toward self-absorption:

1. Set up humility reminders. Certain habits in life are automatic. I don't need to be reminded to eat lunch. Before I realize what's happened, I'm at Chipotle inhaling an extra meat, Carnitas burrito bowl with mild and medium salsa, corn, guac, sour cream and cheese. It's not a decision. It just happens. Similar to brushing my teeth, making coffee, or putting on clothes, humility isn't an automatic habit. If left to myself, I focus on myself. I need to be reminded. Daily prayer is a reminder. Or a book like this or this. Or even keeping this verse front and center throughout my day:

"For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).

Maybe for you it's an iPhone alarm that goes off every hour, saying "Be humble." The more you remind yourself, over time, the more automatic it will become.

2. Daily expand your vision of the Savior. The day I stop learning is the day I stop leading. The moment I stop seeing the Savior is the moment I wander. This is why I need the gospel every day. It's not just an event or a moment of decision. Daily Bible reading (or listening) isn't a matter of knowing biblical facts. It's the difference between humility and pride. If I go without it, I'm saying I can do this on my own. I have what it takes. But the gospel reminds me that Christ is my source. And there's always more to see, more to experience.

3. Serve beyond the stage. If the stage is your only service opportunity, you have an increased chance of missing the point. You get a lot of compliments. Everyone sees you. You begin to crave the attention rather than a heart for serving. Here's a challenge: Find a service opportunity that is purely based on interacting and connecting with people, meeting needs. This will keep your heart in check. And when it comes time to make music, it will be infused with heart, compassion, generosity and service.

Let's chat. How do you guard against an out of control ego? How do you stay focused on serving people and kingdom priorities? Let's talk about it in the comments. {eoa}

David Santistevan is a worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For the original article, visit davidsantistevan.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (David Santistevan ) Worship Tue, 23 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400
3 Myths of Smaller Church Women's Ministry http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/women/23106-3-myths-of-smaller-church-women-s-ministry http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/women/23106-3-myths-of-smaller-church-women-s-ministry

In this article, we will examine three common ministry myths that can immobilize women's ministry in a smaller church. As we consider these myths, please do not become discouraged.

Most of us in smaller churches continually struggle against these mindsets. I once heard someone say the two greatest things about God are that He loves us right where we are and He does not want us to stay there! Unmasking these myths helps us more clearly see God's perspective of ministry, allowing us to join Him where He is already at work.

Myth 1: Women's ministry was meant to be easy. This myth is rooted in the mistaken belief that freedom from difficulty is evidence of God's blessing. In other words, if I'm doing God's will, things should be easy. Interestingly, I have yet to find sound biblical support for the idea that the center of God's will is problem free. In fact, it's just the opposite. In His earthly ministry, Christ faced every challenge you and I face in ministry, and more. God's precious, one and only Son—who did only what the Father told Him—ministered without sin, yet He faced every challenge imaginable. Why should we expect anything different?

Ministry, although a marvelous privilege, was never intended to be easy. It enriches our lives and strengthens our relationship with God and others, but it can be difficult. Many of my frustrations in ministry are the direct result of my mistaken expectation that ministry should be struggle free. God desires us to minister from His perspective—to have the mind of Christ concerning ministry (Phil. 2:1-11). I'm learning to seek daily God's renewal of my mind concerning ministry.

The myth that true ministry is struggle-free leads to disappointment, discouragement and defeatism. This particular myth also sets us up for another smaller church ministry pitfall—the grass is always greener (or the carpet newer) in the larger church.

Myth 2: Women's ministry in larger churches has greater impact. After years of ministering among women in a smaller church, God helped me see that much of my distress stemmed from a "bigger is better" mindset. In some ways, I saw our women's ministry as inferior because it was small. God challenged me to carefully evaluate my standards for measuring the success of our women's ministry by asking a few basic questions: What kind of impact does God care about? What would a successful women's ministry look like to Him?

Jesus taught many lessons on kingdom economics, clearly illustrating that the economy of God's kingdom is intentionally different from the world's. For example, the first shall be last (Matt. 19:30), the least shall be the greatest (Matt. 18:4), and we must lose our life to gain eternal life (Matt. 10:3916:25). Kingdom ministry should not be measured by the world's standards for measuring success.

As ministry leaders we must ask ourselves whether we will choose to operate under the principles of the world's economy or the principles of God's kingdom economy. God can change our minds about how we measure success in women's ministry. His Word provides the only valid measure of success.

Think about the women in your church and consider the following questions:

  • Are the women in our church being transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18)?
  • Are they equipped to view every aspect of their daily lives as ministry (Col. 3:171 Cor. 10:31-33)?
  • Do they know and use their spiritual gifts (1 Pet. 4:10)?
  • Are others hearing and experiencing the message of salvation through them (Philem. 6)?

These biblical measurements guide us toward a women's ministry that God will bless with eternal impact.

When I think about the many ways smaller church ministries can have a significant impact on the kingdom, I immediately think of my home church. I'm astounded at how God has used our little church in northern Wyoming to impact the world. God progressively transformed many believers, and they lived out God's kingdom agenda.

From within our midst, God raised up missionaries, ministers, and countless lay leaders who serve around the world. My church is not alone. Many of today's missionaries, ministers and other lay leaders are the product of smaller church ministries.

Don't let the enemy deceive you—women's ministry in the smaller church can have similar eternal impact for the kingdom!

Myth 3: Women's ministry in the smaller church is more challenging. This myth is rooted in the sinking sand of self-centered focus. When I lament over my own personal struggles, I (like Elijah) eventually convince myself that I'm the only one. No one else has it as difficult as I do (1 Kings 19:10). Isn't it interesting how coming to that conclusion somehow makes us feel better?

In reality, women's ministry in a smaller church is no more or less challenging than women's ministry in larger churches. Each size church faces unique struggles, and each possesses unique strengths. That is not to say that smaller-church women's ministry is no different than women's ministry in larger churches. Important differences create unique opportunities for each.

A women's ministry that is self-centered in focus suffers limited vision. Self-focus promotes defeatism: "We can't do that," or "That will never happen here." Ministering in a smaller church, we continually face the challenge of limited resources. God is teaching me to resist my natural inclination to focus inward on what is lacking. With His help, my focus is shifted to Him, His will, His way and His resources. I'm discovering God always provides what we need to do what He calls our women's ministry to do, although not necessarily what we have decided we should do.

How do you see your women's ministry? What are your expectations for the future? I once heard a speaker say, "whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right!" As leaders, our attitudes can limit the ministry of which God has invited us to be a part. God can do anything. Nothing is impossible for Him (Matt. 19:26).

But whether we or our women's ministry will be a part of God's miraculous kingdom work depends in part on our focus. When we compare our women's ministry to that of larger churches, we give Satan a big foothold. Comparing leads to focus on self—our resources or lack thereof—instead of a God-centered focus. Complaining and complacency are its result. A God-centered women's ministry focuses on God's kingdom, His resources and His standard for measuring success.

No matter what its size, any women's ministry clearly focused on God and His agenda can help transform women in all dimensions of their lives, equipping them to faithfully respond to God's call. The ministry will then have immeasurable impact on the kingdom through God's power. {eoa}

This article is adapted from a chapter written by Martha Lawley and found in Women Reaching Women: Beginning and Building a Growing Women's Ministry compiled by Chris Adams.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Martha Lawley ) Women Mon, 22 Aug 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Why You and Your Congregation Must Constantly Grow in the Area of Prayer http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/prayer/23104-why-you-and-your-congregation-must-constantly-grow-in-the-area-of-prayer http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/prayer/23104-why-you-and-your-congregation-must-constantly-grow-in-the-area-of-prayer

If you're a pastor, you should certainly be striving for greater excellence as a communicator, as a leader and as an organizer. You need a vision. You need a strategy.

You need a solid, biblical theology of ministry and the church. But, you can have all of these and remain stuck in mediocrity without God's power. The greatest work you'll ever commit to as a pastor is the work of prayer.

Praying churches, those that experience the miraculous power of God, are led by praying pastors. This is why Jesus spent time teaching His disciples how to pray. He knew that once He had ascended back to heaven, His church would need to connect with Him, and the way we connect with God and receive His direction and His power is through prayer.

Jesus gave His disciples at least four reasons to keep on growing in the area of prayer:

1. Prayer is an act of dedication. It is an opportunity to express our devotion to God as well as our dependence on God. Our biggest problem when it comes to the frequency and passion in our praying is that we don't feel the need to completely depend on God. The reason why a lot of leaders fail to pray is because it costs us something. It requires our openness and transparency with God. Prayer is a declaration of dependence upon God.

In John 15:5-7, Jesus is giving an illustration of a plant and he says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing. If a man does not remain in Me, he is thrown out as a branch and withers. And they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it shall be done for you."

That's an unbelievable promise in prayer! It's like a branch and vine. The branch is connected to the vine or stem. If you cut the branch off, it loses all its strength and power. When we fail to pray, we wither.

2. Prayer is an act of communication. You can't communicate with somebody unless you know your relationship to them. What is our relationship to God? In John 15:15-16, Jesus says, " I no longer call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I have heard from My Father have I made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that the Father may give you whatever you ask Him in My name."

The reason you can ask anything in prayer is because you are friends with God. We seldom pray because we forget what a privilege it is to talk to God. God says, "I am the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, and you are My friend and I want to talk to you!" That's what prayer is. It is dedication but it is also communication.

We often have a hard time believing that God is really interested in us. We can't seem to conceive that the creator of the entire universe is interested in car payments and house payments and buying new clothes for the kids for school and the guy at work who irritates you and the fact that you have back problems and everything else. When you fully discover how much God really loves you, prayer will no longer be a problem for you. The problem is not, "I have to pray." The problem is you don't really realize how much God cares about and loves you. Why? Because we love to talk to the people who love us the most.

If you find prayer is a duty, a ritual, a routine that you don't look forward to going through, it means you don't understand how much God is in love with you and how much He's interested in everything that is of interest to you. Prayer is the umbilical cord of the Christian life from which we draw our strength.

3. Prayer is an act of supplication. Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." The result of your asking, of your requests in prayer, will be peace of mind.

Prayer is God's chosen method of meeting your needs. The Bible teaches that there are some things that God has promised to do only if we pray. Charles Spurgeon once said, "God never shuts His storehouses until you shut your mouth." Keep on asking.

4. Prayer is an act of cooperation. God has sovereignly chosen that we can cooperate in His plan by praying for His will to be done here on Earth. Prayer is God's program. Prayer is God's modus operandi. When we pray for other people, we are cooperating with God. We are teaming up with God to accomplish God's work in the world.

Prayer is not limited by time. The prayers of Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago are still being answered today. The prayers I pray today can be answered three weeks from today. They're not limited by time.

Prayer is not limited by space. You can pray and it's like sending a missile. I can pray all over. I get up tomorrow morning and go into my study and spend fifteen minutes in prayer and I pray for missionaries around the world.

Prayer is limitless in its power. People may reject your appeals, reject your arguments or reject you as a person, but they're totally defenseless against your prayers. They have no defense system. Prayers go straight to the heart.

D. L. Moody, a great pastor, once said, "Every great movement of God can be traced to a single praying, kneeling figure."

A praying church is a holy church, a committed church. When you pray it makes you sensitive to God and to other people. It sensitizes your life. A praying church is an enthusiastic church. Churches that pray see miracles and that gets people excited. A growing, praying church is a church that sees God act. God acts according to prayer. And churches pray when they see their leaders praying. {eoa}

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Rick Warren ) Prayer Fri, 19 Aug 2016 21:00:00 -0400
6 Errors to Avoid When Recruiting Ministry Volunteers http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/relationships/23101-6-errors-to-avoid-when-recruiting-ministry-volunteers http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/relationships/23101-6-errors-to-avoid-when-recruiting-ministry-volunteers

Would you like to do the worst possible job of getting people involved in ministry in your church?

Sometimes I think church leaders take the most negative approaches in an attempt to encourage more people to get involved in ministry in the church.

There are several common blunders. Here are six of them:

1. Don't pray about it. We often give lip service to prayer. We say we believe in prayer, but we don't act like it. We know that getting people involved in ministry in the church is one of the most important things we can do, but we try to do it in our own power. Try praying before asking a ministry volunteer. God just might surprise you.

2. Make a general announcement. Ever heard something like this statement in a church? "We need someone to teach the third grade Sunday school class. If you are interested let me know." Granted, you might get some volunteers. Those volunteers typically fall in one of two categories: the overworked already, and the person who has no business teaching that class.

3. Wait until the last minute. If you are recruiting people to lead small groups two weeks before the groups are scheduled to start, you will frustrate and discourage them. That is something that should have happened months earlier. You are communicating to those recruited that the ministry is not that important, and that you are asking them as an afterthought.

4. Do not consider the gifts, abilities and schedules of those you are recruiting. It's the worn out cliché: Trying to put a square peg in a round hole. If you ask me to do something that requires manual dexterity, forget it. I'm not sure which end of a hammer to use. We are all different. We are all gifted differently. We all have different schedules.

5. Send the person on a guilt trip. Great ministry volunteers are naturally (or supernaturally) motivated to do their ministry. Guilt is a negative motivation that guarantees the person will be miserable in the ministry. He or she will be perpetually frustrated or drop out. Neither option is good.

6. Don't follow up. Lack of follow up indicates you were just trying to reach a quota or fill a blank. It's a path toward making the ministry volunteer feel unappreciated and unwanted. I recommend you mark your calendar for three quick emails after a person accepts a volunteer ministry position: 30 days later; three months later; and six months later. Ask them two simple questions: How are you doing? What do you need?

The body of Christ is an amazing gift when its members are doing what God has called and gifted them to do. Read 1 Corinthians 12 to see how really important this ministry should be.

But don't start poorly. How you recruit ministry volunteers will make an incredible difference, for good or bad, in your church. {eoa}

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Thom S. Rainer ) Relationships Thu, 18 Aug 2016 21:00:00 -0400
Why Singles Ministry Is Often Neglected in Many Churches http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/singles/23100-why-singles-ministry-is-often-neglected-in-many-churches http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/singles/23100-why-singles-ministry-is-often-neglected-in-many-churches

Have you talked to the single people in your church one-on-one lately? How well do you really know them? Are you still relying on your experience as a single person to counsel them?

Therein lies something that you've probably haven't considered before now. With that in mind, let's ask some different questions.

How long has it been since you were single? At what age did you marry?

If commonality is an indicator, the last time you were single was a while ago and you weren't single for long. Truth be told, I do not know too many pastors that didn't get married in their 20s.

Let's have an honest conversation about singles and the church.

For starters, there are several types of single people in your congregation:

Single people who have never been married – Many of them are just out of high school, college-age kids who are probably placing marriage on the back burner until they feel they are ready. As ABC News reported, people who have never been married are waiting longer to get married for various reasons.

Divorced single people – Divorce happens for many reasons. Some of those who do divorce want to get married again and some of them don't. Some are waiting to hear from God on what is best for their situation.

Single parents – regardless of the circumstance.

Regardless of which category they fit, what message are you sending to your single people? In many cases, the church sends mixed signals to singles.

I was recently challenged myself when I heard a sermon to single people based on 1 Corinthians 7. I myself am a 35-year-old male who has been divorced for more than a decade and I desire to marry again.

The message, paraphrased, from that sermon, was "it is we—the married people—that have it wrong. If you are single, you have it right. You should be praying for us "because "married people are burning with lust."

The sermon was supposed to be an encouragement for single people to embrace singlehood. But I wasn't encouraged at all. 

For starters, everyone has God-given sexual desires. Lust happens when these feelings are not being placed in the proper perspective.

I also have a different take on Paul's admonition. Because Paul said his counsel was not a command from the Lord but based on wisdom (v.25.) Paul also had a bigger issue that he was addressing.  He said in verse 26 that "because of the present crisis, I think it is best to remain as you are."

The present crisis, according to Matthew Henry's Commentary, was that Corinth was a city known for its wealth, its arts and its vices. Paul was guiding the church from getting "caught up" in the vices.

While the message to single people is to stay single, there is a big poster promoting the church as a place for families. Many church websites show the pastor and his lovely family, along with the church leadership and their families as well. Christena Cleveland  observed that married couples and families are often the model used for attracting people to join a church.

She further observed "married people are the ones calling the shots" and that "they remain central to the life of the church. Meanwhile, single people are relegated to the margins."

Let's return to the question of "have you talked to the single people—one-on-one—in your church lately?"

Now would be a good time to do so if it's been a while. I propose you will find out some things that might surprise you—things like their maturity, whether or not they wish to marry, and even how they feel about your sermon(s) regarding singlehood.

The important thing is the singles in your church are people too. They are likely in a situation that you have never experienced or haven't experienced for a while. And, they have their own individual needs. 

If they want to be married, help them get ready for their spouse. If they want to stay single, help them stay strong in their singlehood. But no matter the situation, make sure your counsel is informed by their reality.

P. Kenneth Burns is a reporter in Baltimore where he attends Connexion Point Church. He also works in the media and the communications ministry.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (P. Kenneth Burns) Singles Thu, 18 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400
What Church Leaders Can Learn From Peter About Multi-Cultural Ministry http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/multi-ethnic-ministry/23099-what-church-leaders-can-learn-from-peter-about-multi-cultural-ministry http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/multi-ethnic-ministry/23099-what-church-leaders-can-learn-from-peter-about-multi-cultural-ministry

Last week, following a sermon I had recently preached on Luke 24:46-49, I asked the question: What does Spirit-empowered, multi-ethnic ministry look like in practice?

Looking at Peter's first attempt at cross-cultural, multi-ethnic ministry in Acts 10, we discovered that in order for Peter and the early apostles to reach every nation, they had to be willing to set aside their Jewish cultural (and culinary) preferences and eat every food. Peter's willingness to accept Cornelius' hospitality (and eat his non-Kosher food) was a crucial first step, but it was just the first step.

Peter didn't stop there. He went on to preach the gospel to Cornelius and his household. And that's when things got really interesting ...

Remember, Peter was preaching the gospel to non-Jews for the first time. He had never seen a Gentile become a follower of Jesus, and he assumed that anyone who responded to the gospel would probably need to convert to Judaism (and be circumcised) before they could follow the Jewish Messiah. In Peter's mind, the discipleship process looked like this: repentance, circumcision, baptism in water, and eventually, baptism in the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, it turns out, had other plans.

All those who heard Peter's message were baptized in the Holy Spirit and immediately began speaking in tongues—before he even finished his sermon (see Acts 10:44-48)! The Jewish disciples who had traveled with Peter were shocked at what they saw. Not only had these brand new Gentile believers skipped the "crucial" step of circumcision, they had not even been baptized in water before they were baptized in the Holy Spirit.

Peter was also shocked. But he decided to abandon his own ministry expectations and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, saying, "Can anyone forbid water for baptizing these, who have received the Holy Spirit as we have?" (Acts 10:47).

In short, if Spirit-empowered, multi-ethnic ministry requires us to be adventurous in our eating, it also requires us to be flexible in our ministry expectations.

Imagine if Peter had been unwilling to adjust his ministry expectations and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Imagine if he had silenced the new believers from speaking in tongues. Imagine if he had made everyone (well, all the males) be circumcised first, then baptized in water a few weeks later, and then baptized in the Holy Spirit only after they completed the process.

How would this story of cross-cultural, multi-ethnic ministry have played out differently if Peter had rigidly held to his own ministry expectations?

Perhaps it's easy for us (Gentile) believers in the 21st century to see that Peter made the right decision when ministering to Cornelius and his family. But at the time, what Peter was doing was highly controversial and shocking to many Jewish believers.

Spirit-led, multi-ethnic ministry often requires that we be flexible with our ministry expectations in order to reach people who are very different from us.

Here are a few modern examples of this from around the Every Nation world:

Example 1: Friday Worship Services in the Middle East

Though most Christians throughout church history have gathered to worship on Sundays, most of our churches in the Middle East hold their weekly worship services on Friday. Why? Because Friday is the day of the week when most people in majority Muslim countries have off work. If our missionaries were rigid about worshipping on Sunday, then few people would be able to come since most people work and/or attend school on Sunday.

Example 2: Discipleship Groups in the Pub in Western Europe

Though many American evangelicals and Pentecostals choose to abstain from drinking alcohol (this includes me), our missionaries to Western Europe have found that one of the best settings to make disciples is in the pub. Why? Because pubs have a different function in European society than they do in American society. In the eyes of Western Europeans, pubs are less a space of drunkenness and partying than they are a space of conversation and community—kind of like a coffee shop. That's why many of our Every Nation missionaries find pubs to be a perfect place for small group discipleship.

Example 3: One2One Discipleship in Japan

Though the One2One discipleship material has been an effective tool for teaching new believers (and even pre-believers) the basics of the faith, our missionaries in Japan found that the material—originally intended for a Catholic Filipino audience—assumed too much background knowledge about the Bible and the life of Jesus. Our leaders decided that to make the tool more effective in their context, they needed to rewrite the One2One book with a Shinto/Buddhist/secularist Japanese audience in mind. Among other things, this involved adding a "Chapter 0" to lay the groundwork for Chapter 1 on Salvation.

These are just a few of many examples of how our cross-cultural missionaries have needed to be flexible with their ministry expectations in order to do effective Spirit-led, multi-ethnic ministry in every nation.

Remember, the truth of the gospel does not change, but how we communicate and embody that message should change depending on our ministry context.

So let's learn from Peter and remember to be flexible and, most importantly, to be led by the Holy Spirit as we go and make disciples of all nations.

Steve Murrell serves as the president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a ministry that does church planting and campus ministry in over 70 nations.

For the original article, visit stevemurrell.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Steve Murrell ) Multi-Ethnic Ministry Thu, 18 Aug 2016 12:00:00 -0400
The Importance of Building a Connection With Families With Babies http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/children/23081-the-importance-of-building-a-connection-with-families-with-babies http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/children/23081-the-importance-of-building-a-connection-with-families-with-babies

In our churches today, parents are waiting longer and longer to bring their babies to their class in the preschool area. Parents need affirmation that they can trust the adults teaching and providing care for their baby while at church.

When trust is developed, parents are more likely to bring their babies consistently to church. How can we as teachers and leaders in kids ministry develop trust with parents? Building connections with parents is vital to gaining trust as you teach and care for their baby.

Select ideas listed below to begin making connections with families:

  • Contact expectant parents during the pregnancy or adoption process; introduce yourself as a teacher in the baby class.
  • Throughout the pregnancy or adoption process, ask the family how you can pray for them.
  • Share your testimony with parents. Parents enjoy hearing more about the adults who care for their baby.
  • Provide an opportunity for parents to tour your preschool area. During this time, explain the cleaning and disinfecting process for toys and classrooms. Share other church policies such as the security procedures, wellness policy and other helpful information. Talk about other ways parents can be involved in the preschool ministry and your church.
  • Communicate details of a baby's experiences in your class. Explain to parents how you teach biblical truths in ways their baby learns.
  • When the baby is born, visit the family at the hospital or at their home. Schedule a time prior to visiting them. If possible, include a little gift from the church welcoming the new baby.
  • Learn name pronunciations and spellings of the baby's name and other family members.
  • Provide an information sheet for parents to complete about their baby. The information should include helpful tips for teachers to know while caring for the baby. Continue to update the information for the baby as needed.
  • On the baby's first Sunday in your class, send home a little keepsake stating the Bible story, listing his teachers' names, and any other important information. After the baby's first Sunday, contact the parents to see how the experience was for them as parents and for their baby.
  • Continually, communicate with parents giving them an avenue to share questions or concerns. Be willing to listen to any concerns they may have and answer their questions.

Which ideas would work best in your church? What are other ideas have you found to help build connections with families?

Delanee Williams serves as a Ministry Specialist with LifeWay Kids. She is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Delanee has served in kids ministry for over twenty years and is passionate about developing, equipping and encouraging leaders.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Delanee Williams/Lifeway.com ) Children Tue, 16 Aug 2016 12:00:00 -0400
Spirit-Empowered, Multi-Ethnic Ministry Requires This Sacrifice http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/multi-ethnic-ministry/23074-spirit-empowered-multi-ethnic-ministry-requires-this-sacrifice http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/multi-ethnic-ministry/23074-spirit-empowered-multi-ethnic-ministry-requires-this-sacrifice

Recently I preached a sermon at Bethel World Outreach Church in Brentwood, Tennessee that looked at Jesus' answer to our current ethnic and cultural divides.

It's the same answer whether you're in 21st-century America or first-century Palestine.

Here's the SparkNotes summary of the sermon, based on Luke 24:46-49:

  • The gospel is a message that we can't keep for ourselves and for our own ethnic group; it's a message that must be preached to "all nations"—the Greek word for "nations" being ethnos (Luke 24:46-47).
  • This task of cross-cultural, multi-ethnic ministry is not for someone else. As Jesus said to his original disciples and, in effect, to us: "You are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:48).
  • The only way we will succeed in this difficult task is if we are "clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49)—a promise that was fulfilled a few weeks later at Pentecost.

So here's the question:

What does Spirit-empowered, multi-ethnic ministry look like in practice?

In Luke 24, Jesus gives his disciples the mission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, but it's in Acts when we see how they do it.

So how did 12 Jewish disciples of a Jewish rabbi take the message to non-Jews? What practical problems did they have to overcome in order to engage in cross-cultural, multi-ethnic ministry?

Believe it or not, one of the disciples' biggest obstacles to reaching every nation (ethnos) was their initial unwillingness to eat every food.

Jewish law had strict dietary codes (no pork, no shrimp, etc.), and as a result, most Jews, including Jesus' disciples, had never eaten in the home of a non-Jew. Though the disciples didn't realize it at the time, this profound cultural barrier between Jews and Gentiles would make reaching every nation difficult—if not impossible.

Everything changed in Acts 10 when Peter had a dream.

In Peter's dream, he saw a large sheet filled with "unclean" food—stuff Jews were not allowed to eat. God told him to take and eat, but Peter—like any good Jew—refused, saying, "Not at all, Lord! For I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." Then God responded by saying, "What God has cleansed, do not call common" (Acts 10:14-15, MEV).

The meaning of Peter's dream became clear when men sent from a Roman soldier named Cornelius came to Peter's house and requested that Peter come with them to speak to Cornelius and his family.

Peter knew that accepting this invitation to engage in cross-cultural, multi-ethnic ministry would mean two things. First, he would be staying in the home of a Gentile, probably for the first time ever. Second, he would be served food that was "unclean" according to Jewish dietary laws.

Going against his cultural and ethnic instincts and preferences, Peter decided to go to Cornelius' home and preach to his family. Long story short, the entire household received the gospel and they were all baptized in water and Holy Spirit. Although the book of Acts does not give us any detail about Peter's first meal in a Gentile's home, I have no doubt that it was an uncomfortable, awkward and maybe even troubling experience for Peter.

But if he had not chosen to set aside his own cultural preferences, if he had rejected Cornelius' hospitality, and if he had held to his lifelong commitment to eating kosher, Peter would have never reached Cornelius and his family.

What Does This Mean for Us?

It means that doing cross-cultural, multi-ethnic ministry requires that we set aside our own cultural preferences. It requires that we accept the hospitality of those who are different from us. It requires us to open our hearts and our stomachs to other nations and cultures.

If we really want to reach every nation, we must we willing to eat every food. {eoa}

Steve Murrell serves as the president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a ministry that does church planting and campus ministry in over 70 nations.

For the original article, visit stevemurrell.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Steve Murrell ) Multi-Ethnic Ministry Fri, 12 Aug 2016 21:00:00 -0400
10 Things Church Members Would Love to Hear From Their Pastors http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/relationships/23070-10-things-church-members-would-love-to-hear-from-their-pastors http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/relationships/23070-10-things-church-members-would-love-to-hear-from-their-pastors

Most church members love their pastors.

Many church members are encouragers to their pastors. Pastors often lose perspective when a few critical church members become a persistent pain and challenge.

But most church members are indeed a blessing to pastors.

As we have conversed with church members across America, we have heard 10 common themes or requests they have of their pastors. None are unreasonable.

Earlier this week, we looked at 10 things pastors would love to hear from their church members. This time, let's listen to the perspectives of the church members.

1. "I love you." They want to know that you pastors love them in good times and challenging times. They want to know you really care for the sheep God has entrusted to you.

2. "I would love for God to give me a long-term ministry here." Church members desire for you to perceive your church as more than a steppingstone to the next church. Though they don't expect you to commit to a lifetime there, they are weary of the one- to three-year pastorates.

3. "I will provide clear leadership for you." Church members would like to know you are truly leading them. And they want to know where you are leading them.

4. "I will listen." They want to know you care enough about them to hear what they have to say. They want to know you truly value input and different perspectives.

5. "I will communicate clearly and often." Church members don't want to wonder what's happening in the church. They desire ongoing communication and transparency.

6. "I will be a praying pastor." Church members desire for their pastors to be in regular and prayerful fellowship with God. They want to know you are leading in God's power and not your own.

7. "I will focus on preaching." They understand the importance of the preaching of the Word. They want to know you have put hours of prayer and preparation into your message so they can truly understand what God is saying in Scripture.

8. "I will share my faith." Most evangelistic churches have an evangelistic pastor. Most church members will follow the lead of their pastors. They want to do as you do more than do as you say.

9. "I will care for you." Most church members are reasonable. They know you cannot be present nor should you be present for every ministry need. But they want to know you care for them, hurt for them and pray for them.

10. "I will not show favoritism." Church members sometimes see pastors demonstrating preference toward some church members over others. It grieves and hurts members to see pastors catering to the cliques, the big givers and the power brokers.

I see this list as reasonable and healthy. Do you agree? What would you add or take away from the list? Let me hear from you. {eoa}

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Thom S. Rainer ) Relationships Thu, 11 Aug 2016 18:00:00 -0400