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Posts tagged ‘Easter’

8 Resolutions Every Pastor Should Have for 2014.


Happy New Year

Many people make—and break—New Year’s resolutions. Here are eight possible ones that pastors should consider for the upcoming year:

1. Let influence be the theme of your leadership. I often hear pastors complaining (especially young pastors) about their frustration when they don’t have control over a particular situation. My advice would be this: When you don’t have control, don’t worry. You still have influence.

Influence is built when you have great character, follow-through on what you say you’re going to do, and genuinely love people. Allow influence to be the theme of your leadership.

2. Don’t bend to critics. The critics can be so loud at times; it feels overwhelming. No matter the season of the year, there are disappointed expectations, and therefore people from all over the map who want you to do things their way.

This year, don’t bend to the critics. Listen to the spirit. Don’t allow the critics to define you, or what you do. Let Jesus do that.

3. Be transparentBeing transparent doesn’t mean you push your problems or your emotions onto other people. It simply means being honest and inviting others into your space in an appropriate way.

This year, be transparent with your staff, with your congregation, with those you lead, and with your family. When we are humbly transparent we invite the Holy Spirit in to do his transforming work.

4. Speak with your actions. You’ve heard it said that actions speak louder than words. Nowhere is that more true than in church leadership. If you say one thing, and do another, people will lose respect for you. Worse than that, they’ll actually start doing as you do, rather than as you say.

Don’t forget. Actions speak louder than words. Let your actions speak loud in 2014.

5. Choose people over performance. As a pastor, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of performance. There’s so much to do, and the work feels important. You want to do as much as possible in as little time as possible. The pressure continues to grow and grow.

But this year, and always, choose people over performance. Those who have been entrusted to your care need love far more than they need a perfect Easter service.

6. Don’t neglect vision. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” and I’ve seen this to be true in my many years ministry. When you take the time to create a vision that is both simple and meaningful, it is truly life-giving to your staff and congregation.

Don’t neglect creating a vision in pursuit of “getting started” with this next year. A little planning goes a long way.

7. Take care of yourself. This is one of the hardest things for pastors to do. Often we work ourselves to the point of exhaustion, telling ourselves it’s “for the Kingdom,” and justifying our sin. God doesn’t need you to kill yourself. He already died. It is already finished.

If you find yourself losing your temper, losing touch with your family, suffering in your marriage, or growing an addiction to certain foods or coffee—chances are you aren’t resting enough. Take these as a warning sign.

8.  Seek balance. God doesn’t need you to kill yourself, but He does want you to bring your whole self to the table. I don’t believe God is pleased when we play games on our smartphones, or check our Facebook status a million times, when we could be working.

It’s important to seek balance in all areas of your life—work, family, friendships, social life, health, etc. Finding this balance is a lifelong journey, but it’s more than worth it.

What are your resolutions for 2014?

Written by Justin Lathrop

With more than a dozen years of local church ministry, Justin Lathrop has spent the last several years starting businesses and ministries that partner with pastors and churches to advance the kingdom. He is the founder of Helpstaff.me (now Vanderbloemen Search), Oaks School of Leadership, and MinistryCoach.tv all while staying involved in the local church. He blogs regularly about what he has learned from making connection at justinlathrop.com.

For the original article, visit justinlathrop.com.

Pope Calls for World Justice System Reform, Adding ‘God Is a Prisoner’.


Image: Pope Calls for World Justice System Reform, Adding 'God Is a Prisoner'

VATICAN CITYPope Francis Wednesday called for a more humane justice system, saying God too was “a prisoner” of the world’s injustices and was in every cell.

“God is a prisoner too. He is inside the cell,” Francis said at an audience with Italian prison chaplains in the Vatican.

“He is a prisoner of our egoism, of our systems, of the many injustices . . . that punish the weak while the big fish swim freely,” the Pope said.

Doctor Reveals Healing Powers of Prayer 
He also spoke of reforms to the justice system.

“You have spoken of a justice system for reconciliation, a justice system of hope, of open doors, of new horizons,” he said. “This is no utopia. It can happen.”

Francis has shown close attention to prison life and in one of his first acts as Pope blessed the feet of young inmates at a juvenile prison in Rome as part of an Easter ritual in March.

Italy suffers from severe prison overcrowding and there are growing calls for reforms that would cut down on lengthy pre-trial detention.

© AFP 2013

Source: NEWSmax.com

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxworld.com/Europe/pope-justice-reform-world/2013/10/23/id/532553#ixzz2iZLRYUXx
Alert: What Is Your Risk for a Heart Attack? Find Out Now

Rick Warren: Got on Knees and Prayed Over Navy Yard Shootings.


Megachurch pastor Rick Warren said he prayed for the victims and families of the Washington Naval Yard shootings the moment he heard about it.

“When I heard about those deaths, at the naval yard, the first thing I did was get down on my knees and pray for those families, of the victims, those who died, and those who are wounded,” Warren told CNN’s Piers Morgan in an interview to air Tuesday. “My heart went out to them.”

Warren lost his 27-year-old son, Matthew, to a gun-inflicted suicide just after Easter this year. He took 17 weeks away from the pulpit of his 20,000-member church before returning to preach a series titled, “How to get through what you’re going through.”

Warren is also a best-selling author.

See the video below:

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Closed door, open window…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”
-Ephesians 2:4-5

When you’re in the midst of loss, death, or dramatic change that you don’t want, it is so difficult to say, “Lord, I trust the resurrection power.”

Nevertheless, as the cliché says, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” Jesus is made alive in everyone because he was willing to die (the closed door). Then, in the resurrection (the open window), Christ becomes alive in the hearts of everyone who believes in his name, and that is awesome.

The Paschal Mystery – the Christian concept that no matter who or what dies, there’s always resurrection – deals with death in a way that the world traditionally doesn’t. A believing Christian doesn’t like death, or loss, or change, but when death comes, he or she knows that resurrection is not far behind.

Fulton Sheen said, “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me not fear the losses in my life. Reassure me that, when the losses come, the blessings soon follow. Amen.

Reflection: What has been your hardest “Good Friday” (closed door) experience? Describe the “Easter Sunday” (open window) that followed.

Are You a Part-Time Churchgoer? You May Be Surprised.


 

Geoff and Christine are thirty-something churchgoers who love Jesus and love their three kids. They consider themselves faithful members of New Life Community Church.

Their oldest is about to be in the youth group, and their youngest is finally out of diapers. Christine has been involved in the kids’ ministry through the years. Geoff is a deacon.

But they are part-timers when it comes to church attendance, and they never set out to be.

They are not alone.

Recent statistics show that an increasing number of evangelicals who are firm in their faith are flabby in their practice of actually gathering with their brothers and sisters in worship. It’s the part-time syndrome, and it can sneak up on any of us.

Let’s go back to Geoff and Christine. There are 52 Sundays a year, and last year, they attended a worship gathering on 28 of those Sundays. (That’s an average of about twice a month.) What happened?

  • Vacation: To maximize his allotted days, Geoff took the family to the mountains during the kids’ spring break, stretching over two weekends (one of which happened to be Easter!). There was the summer beach vacation, another stretch of a week and two weekends, and then a fall getaway. Total = 5 Sundays.
  • Sports: Their oldest son is on a travel soccer team. Many of the games are on weekends, and they believe it would be a better testimony to be among unbelievers on Sunday mornings rather than let down the team. Total = 9 Sundays.
  • Sickness: With their youngest child going to preschool, the family seems more susceptible to illnesses than before, and sickness always seems to hit on the weekends. Total = 3 Sundays.
  • Guest Preacher: When Pastor Jon is out of town, Geoff and Christine usually take the weekend off. They never like the guest speaker as much as Pastor Jon. Total = 3 Sundays.
  • Visiting In-Laws: Christine’s parents come twice a year to spend the weekend with the family. To maximize their time, they usually spend the weekends catching up and doing some shopping. Total = 2 Sundays.
  • Holiday: Thanksgiving weekend, and the week in between Christmas and New Year’s, the family is traveling. Total = 2 Sundays.

Geoff and Christine may be a fictional couple, but their situation is true for many of us. Recently, a church leader told me their most faithful attendees are only in church 2-3 times a month. They basically expect churchgoers to be “hit or miss” every week.

Danger #1 – Guilt You Into Going

Now, there are two wrong ways church leaders might address this issue. The first is to go all Hebrews 10 on everyone and emphasize the importance of the worship gathering, so as to whip people into shape and guilt them into church attendance. Sorry, but this isn’t a gospel-centered approach.

We should never take the command of Hebrews 10 about neglecting the church and isolate it from the preceding verses (about the privilege of coming before God in a community of faith that holds to a confession of hope). That’s giving the imperative (“Go to church!”) without the indicative (“You are welcomed into the throne room of grace with your family in Christ.”).

This approach also stresses church as a place we go, rather than church as the people with whom we gather. It reinforces the idea that the church is a building and leads people to think holiness happens by being present every week.

Lastly, this method could cause people to have a checklist mentality, where we pat themselves on the back for being in church 48 weeks a year, while neglecting other important matters – like justice and love. Churchgoing isn’t necessarily a sign of spiritual health. How many times do you think the Pharisees were absent from the temple?

Danger #2 – Avoid the Issue

The second danger is to be so concerned with the first that we fail to address the imperative in Hebrews 10 at all. In doing so, we ignore the importance of the church as the family of Christ, the people with whom we are to gather and hear the gospel.

Because of our strong distaste for legalistic checklists, we might minimize the counterfeit gods that creep into our lives and vie for our free time. In the desire to avoid legalism, we never mention that a ball can become a Ba’al for some, or that leisure and comfort can become idols that keep us from worshipping the true God with other believers.

In an effort to not guilt people into church attendance, we never make people aware of the fact that grace is presented week after week. Guilt is the result of not going to church – not because you feel bad for not living up to God’s expectations, but because you’re not hearing the message of gospel grace pounded into you week after week.

A renewed vision of worship

The best way to respond is not with guilt or with a false grace, but with the reminder of the purpose of worship. You aren’t there to fill up at the gas station (after all, you can get some sort of spiritual sustenance by reading or listening to your preacher’s podcasts apart from the body of Christ). This is a distorted view of the purpose of gathering.

The author of Hebrews clues us in. Being with your brothers and sisters is where you are able to stir one another up to love and good deeds. It’s the place where the confession of hope is celebrated and put before you and where you are urged to cling to it tightly.

It’s not the content you receive every week that is so formative; it’s the act of being together and making the Lord’s family your priority. It’s similar to a family to eats every night together at the table. The value is not in the specifics of your conversation, but the very act of demonstrating your love for each other.

We don’t go to church because of guilt. We are the church because of grace.

That’s what Geoff and Christine, along with you and I, need to remember.

Trevin Wax is the Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum developed by LifeWay Christian Resources. He blogs daily at Kingdom People. He is also the author of Holy Subversion(Crossway, 2010) and Counterfeit Gospels (Moody, 2011).

4 Ways Churches Break Attendance Barriers.


empty-churchAlmost any time I mention numbers related to church life, I anticipate some responses about the value of numbers and congregations. In the 1980s, this type of discussion came primarily from more liberal churches that weren’t growing.

Some of these leaders felt that declining membership and attendance were likely a sign of health. The members who really cared about the church were the ones who remained. They could make the biggest difference without the more nominal members remaining as obstacles.

Today, it is not unusual for me to hear from more conservative church leaders that declining church numbers may be a good sign because it is an indication that the numbers reflect true regenerate members. But for the purpose of this brief article, let’s assume that attendance growth is a positive indicator. Presumably more people are hearing the gospel and being discipled when a church is growing.

It is in that context that I hear almost every week from church leaders whose churches seem stuck at some level of attendance—100, 200, 500, 800 and so on. I even got a call a year ago from a church where the pastor was concerned that attendance was stuck at 7,000!

After 25 years of consulting and researching local congregations, I have found four common approaches churches take to break attendance barriers regardless of size. There are certainly more than four possibilities, but allow me to evaluate these four more common approaches.

1. Create new groups. These groups may be home groups, small groups that meet in coffee houses, Sunday school classes, ministry groups or others. Church leaders are intentional about creating groups on an ongoing basis. They typically have goals for the number of groups they start.

Evaluation: Frankly, I have seen great success with this strategy (and recently wrote about this strategy). I would speculate that as many as 8 out of 10 churches that strategically create new groups grow to new attendance levels. The mystery to me is why most churches don’t have this strategy.

2. Create new worship services. A church moves from one service to two, or from two to three, or even more. The move is typically precipitated by one or more services running out of space.

Evaluation: Most of the time the new service does aid the church in breaking attendance barriers. But keep in mind, the church was most likely growing already until it ran out of space. The new service simply takes the lid off so the church can continue to grow. I would caution a church, however, about moving to an additional worship service if it’s not already in a growth mode. The worship center can seem vacuous if one nongrowing group is split into two nongrowing groups.

3. Create new venues. This principle is similar to adding worship services, but the church uses a different facility for the new service. That new facility may actually be a new campus. It may be an ethnic service meeting in the church facilities in a different room than the worship center. It may be a merged church from another location. The possibilities are many.

Evaluation: The results thus far are positive. As a church adds a new venue, there is a natural increase in attendance. The multicampus form of this new venue is growing in use and popularity with mostly good results. We are still a few years away from being able to measure the midterm impact of new venues on growth. I would be willing to speculate that the results will be very positive.

4. Have a major event. The church’s strategy is to have one or more events that will create sufficient excitement for members to invite those who aren’t attending church. That event may be tied to a major holiday such as Easter, Fourth of July or Christmas. It may be tied to a significant tradition in a church. The plan is to get people to attend who would not regularly attend.

Evaluation: I have studied a few hundred churches that use the big event as their major growth strategy, and the results are not good. Attendance tends to rise for a few weeks on and after the event, but then it settles down to previous patterns. Churches can spend a lot of money on big events, but I hardly ever see a church break an attendance barrier consistently, even with those large amounts of resources dedicated to it.

What successful approaches have you seen to break attendance barriers? What do you think of these approaches I have highlighted? Why do churches not create new groups regularly and strategically when it has proven to be the most effective method for growth and for breaking attendance barriers?.

Written by Thom S. Rainer


Dr. Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, he served at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 12 years, where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism. He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master’s of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

The kingdom is at hand…


By Bobby Schuller, Hour of Power Pastor

“And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.”
-Ezekiel 37:13

Most of the time when we think about Easter, we think about the fact that we get to go to heaven when we die, and that is true. Jesus is preparing a place for us where, when we die, we will be with him forever. It’s a place where we will be in glory with the Father. We will be in his loving care, and there will not be another tear shed. It will be beautiful, it will be wonderful, and you have nothing to be afraid of in that regard.

Nevertheless, Jesus’ main reason for raising himself from the dead and wanting to save us was not just so that we could go to heaven when we die. Jesus’ goal was to bring heaven to earth. That’s why Jesus continually preaches the kingdom of heaven is at hand; he says that all the time. That was Jesus’ message.

Jesus was resurrected from the dead because he wants to save this world. Jesus died on the cross to save our souls from sin, but he was also resurrected from the dead because he wants to save everyone in this world.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for bringing heaven to earth through your Son, my Lord Jesus. Amen.

Reflection: How do you experience heaven on earth?

The power to give hope…


By Bobby Schuller, Hour of Power Pastor

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
-John 3:16

All Christians know that Easter is important to our salvation, to our being Christians. However, in my experience, most Christians would have a tough time explaining why it is important.

Christians love to talk about the cross and they should. Jesus freely gives his life on the cross for us, and takes our sin upon him. Therefore, Christians are usually very good at explaining how the cross is a part of our salvation. Most Christians would say that the resurrection of Jesus, which we celebrate on Easter, is actually more important than the very important aspect of the cross. That’s why Easter is a bigger day than Good Friday. Even so, most Christians have a tough time explaining why Easter is so important.

This is the answer: On Easter, when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, it proved that he was Lord of everything, but particularly death and life. It proved that Jesus had the power to give and take and resurrect life. When he actually resurrected himself, he proved that he had this power that gives us hope.

Prayer: Dear Lord, through your resurrection, you’ve given me hope for eternity. Amen.

Reflection: Does Jesus’ resurrection give you hope? Hope for what?

Mark Burnett Reveals Feature Version of ‘The Bible’ Is Finished Editing.


 

Mark Burnett
Mark Burnett revealed Sunday that he has made progress on the upcoming movie version of the famed television miniseriesThe Bible.’

Mark Burnett revealed this weekend that he has made progress on the upcoming movie version of the famed television miniseries The Bible.

Charisma News reported in April that Burnett and his wife, Roma Downey, were preparing a three-hour movie version of the hit series, which aired on the History Channel. Burnett spoke with the national executive director of the Producers Guild of America, Vance Van Petten, in a panel on Sunday, saying he had just finished editing a 2-hour-15-minute version of the series that will focus on the life of Jesus.

“It’s the most important story in the history of the world,” Burnett told a room full of producers, according to The Wrap. “It’s completely true … I know it’s true … because I feel it in me.”

The producer—who also created SurvivorCelebrity Apprentice and The Voice—said he believes in the next decade and a half, more people will have seen The Bible than those who have not.

“I believe that in the next 15 years, more people on the planet will have seen our Bible series that haven’t seen it,” Deadline reported him saying.

The Bible debuted on March 3 to 13.1 million viewers, becoming the highest-rated cable show of the year. On Easter Sunday, 11.7 million viewers tuned in to its last episode. It is also the fastest-selling DVD for a miniseries ever.

“It’s a God voice,” Burnett told The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s clearly a calling; clearly, we felt it was something we had to do, and too many things happened to explain it any other way. It’s a juggernaut, and it’s not going to slow down.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

GINA MEEKS

Coptic Cleric Says He Will Sue Israeli Police for Abuse.


JERUSALEM — An Egyptian Coptic cleric who was mistreated during Orthodox Easter services is threatening to sue.

Video supplied to The Associated Press shows Israeli police shoving Arsanious el-Orshalimi and putting him in a headlock. The incident took place during Orthodox Christian Holy Saturday in Jerusalem’s Old City earlier this month.

The event drew thousands of people to the area, and hundreds of Israeli police were on guard.

A dozen church leaders in the Holy Land later signed a letter expressing concern over the incident.

El-Orshalimi says he will not remain silent and will “take this issue to court because of all the pain that I suffered.”

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Friday the officers involved are being questioned.

He said police will work to prevent such incidents in the future.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

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