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Posts tagged ‘Faith’

10 Things A Children’s Pastor Must Do For Church Families.


1. Make it simple for families at home by offering resources for them to buy

Compile a list of recommended parenting books, kids devotionals, and workbooks for kids to equip them at home where most faith learning takes place. Even have some on hand that you can sell to them right at church.

2. Busyness does not equal effective ministry. Make events meaningful and less often.

Do not create too many programs that only further pull families away from their already busy schedules. You are not a social club, but a support for faith learning. Make any programs you do offer meaningful; don’t give in to the pressure to fill a calendar with busyness. Don’t feel the pressure to do what another church is doing; consider the unique make up of your church and prayerfully plan what suits the needs of your specific congregation. What is suitable for one congregation might miss the mark for another.

3. Spend money and resources on making your rooms kid-friendly

Your kids classrooms and nursery should be the cleanest, most organized, and the best decorated parts of your church. It’s an outward display of an inward commitment to excellence for the most vulnerable of our church. Cut down the clutter, and go through areas regularly to see them with eyes of a newcomer.

4. Please do not make a desperate request for teachers

Do not allow just anybody to serve. Keep high standards for who works with the most vulnerable of our congregation. Ask people you want directly. Go for the best. Parents will notice. It shows priority to those who we should be taking the best care of. I love having youth helpers and think it is vital for them to learn to serve. However, they are not to be relied upon. Adults are. Adults who typically are parents, involved in teaching, and who have a solid faith.

5. Set high standards, not low, for volunteers if you want to keep them.

Set a standard of commitment for those who volunteer. The least I allow for volunteer teachers is 4 weeks on 4 weeks off. Less than that and the person does not take ownership for their ministry. More than half of my teachers have asked if they can teach every Sunday because then it gives them full control over the run of the class. They take personal ownership and invest themselves in those kids’ lives. If volunteers only teach occasionally, there is no ownership taken and the kids suffer. The volunteers burn out because they have no attachment to the kids or ministry.

6. You are not the source of the children’s spiritual formation

Do not give parents the idea that the church does everything for their child’s spiritual development. Stress that you are only a support for what they are doing at home. A good portion of your time should be giving them resources and equipping them to lead their own children at home. Bring the ministry to homes, not just within your church.

7.  Stop creating an environment where parents feel like the church needs them to be perfect

Provide a way that they can submit prayer requests to the church staff so they can be prayed for and problems can be dealt with together. They need to know they are not judged, but welcomed and loved in the mess of life.

8. Kids need God’s Word taught simply, and to be loved by an adult who listens

Stop thinking that the next best thing is always happening. It’ll be exhausting if you’re always looking to order the new curriculum based on that season’s new hit TV show. God’s word is life changing and captivating as it is. What kids need to know about God and the Bible has not changed. Don’t sacrifice this for trying to stay current. If it works, great, but stop searching and searching for what just came out. Kids need what they have always needed: to know his Word, taught straight up. This is what changes their hearts. They also need to know that they have a space to be listened to and loved by a real person who takes the time to be in their classroom every week.

9.  Give kids a family atmosphere at church; your goal isn’t entertainment atmosphere.

We are a body of believers. Brothers and sisters in Christ. Our ties together have to do with him alone. With encouraging one another and building one another up in our faith. Kids need this too. God’s Word changes lives. The love of his people showing his love to others is what lonely hearts need. It’s what your heart needs. It’s what our kids’ hearts need.

Valerie Ackermann is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Parkway Community Church where she is involved with overseeing volunteers, planning and developing programs, and facilitating the classes for Sunday school. She also teaches her own class every Sunday and loves staying in the classroom and on the front line with the

Publication date: December 31, 2013

Church Matters

5 Uncomfortable Issues The Church Needs to Start Talking About.

Debbie Holloway

Remember Jesus’ words, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”? Many have looked at that verse and proclaimed that the Church is like a hospital. But doesn’t it sometimes feel more like a museum?

According to Zach Perkins at Relevant Magazine, there are 5 Uncomfortable Issues The Church Needs to Start Talking About. 

“Paul urged the Church to ‘Bear each other’s burdens,’ so maybe with more grace and love we can turn on the light in the darkened rooms of each other’s hearts and let our churches become safe havens for the uncomfortable things we have to deal with.”

First Perkins cites Addiction and Sexuality as taboo topics that need to be more honestly and openly addressed, writing,

“…yes, in many churches, a person’s addictions can become fodder for gossip. However, if the Church were to first approach one another as family, then addicts in the Church might feel safer to be vulnerable about their struggles. Often, they just need to be loved and feel safe enough to know they can expose this part of themselves in a community where the addiction isn’t crushing them every second.”

He also notes that Church conversations about sex rarely move beyond, “don’t have sex until you’re married.”

“There are strong believers struggling with their sexual identity, brokenness and frustration in churches across the world, and among their Christian friends and families, they don’t dare say a word about it.”

Next on his list is Sincere Doubt. In March 2013, “Is Doubting a Sin?” was featured byCrosswalk the Devotional.

“Jesus’ response to doubt was often, why? He proposed neither a condemnation nor an accolade, but a dialogue. Jesus cared about the hearts, motives, and fears of those who questioned him, who struggled with unbelief. Practically everyone to whom Jesus ministered expressed genuine doubt or asked provoking questions. But Jesus healed them anyway. Jesus answered their questions (John 3). Jesus told them things about themselves, causing them to look at life in a new way (John 4). When extraordinary faith was shown (Luke 7) Jesus was astounded and overjoyed. But he certainly did not condemn all others of lesser faith. He knew that it takes time for people to overcome cultures of fear and questions.”

In Ray Pritchard’s piece, “Faith and Doubt at Christmastime” he writes,

“Faith and doubt always go together. There is no such thing as 100% faith. After all, if you had certainty, you wouldn’t need faith at all. In heaven we will not need faith because we will experience ultimate reality. But between now and then, our doubts spur us on to greater spiritual growth. Doubt can be a good thing if it moves you to study, to think, to investigate, and to ask hard questions.”

Perkins’ list wraps up with the topics of Mental Illness and Loneliness. The Evangelical community recently faced a major reminder of mental illness when Pastor Rick Warren’s son Matthew took his own life after a lifetime of struggling with depression and mental illness. In the aftermath, Warren shared,

“It’s amazing to me that any other organ in your body can break down and there’s no shame and stigma to it…But if your brain breaks down, you’re supposed to keep it a secret… If your brain doesn’t work right, why should you be ashamed of that?”

Two additional issues that Churches rarely address with grace are those of Miscarriage andAbortion – specifically healing and recovery for women who have already had them (as many as 1 in 4 women have dealt with one or the other, or both).

Teske Drake and Kim Ketola have written several pieces for Crosswalk on this subject, including Carry Each Other’s Burdens: Ministering to those Enduring MiscarriageHope and Healing After Childbearing Loss, and Healing Abortion’s Guilt and Grief. In her piece Pregnancy and Infant Loss: A Biblical Stance for Support, Teske Drake wrote about National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, saying,

“Despite the prevalence of loss and the progress made in terms of awareness and support, isolation –feeling as though ‘I’m the only one’ – is a key characteristic of women’s experiences with miscarriage and infant loss. Today, families throughout the world will publicly acknowledge the lives of their little ones who were gone too soon in honor of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Communities will rally support and for a brief moment families will experience a sense of solidarity in the midst of their unique, yet often disenfranchised, grief. As Christ followers, shouldn’t our support extend beyond a designated month? How can we incorporate an awareness and sensitivity to this very real and prevalent issue?”

What do you think? Has your Church found ways to deal with these hard topics with grace and wisdom? What other issues would you say the Church needs to address more openly?

Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for

Publication date: December 10, 2013

Releasing expectations…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” 
Philippians 4:6

Linking expectations with faith gives us less-than-fully-matured perspectives of what faith really is. When we equate faith with our expected or desired outcomes, we’re not trusting in God’s greater plan and purpose.

The greater number of expectations we have, the less happy we will be for three reasons:

1. Expectations diminish happiness when our expectations are met (especially if we see the outcomes as our own doing and not as God’s special blessings).

2. Expectations diminish happiness when they are unmet (especially if we question the wisdom of God because he did not do what we asked).

3. Expectations always diminish gratitude.

Everyone has expectations in life. Everybody does. We have lots of them. Nevertheless, trust me – the smaller the amount of expectations we have, the happier each one of us will be.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for being the only one with a perfect plan for my life. Help me to move forward, always seeking your direction, and at all times grateful for every blessing I encounter along the way. Amen.

Reflection: When has an unfulfilled expectation disappointed or devastated you? When have you, instead, waited on God to meet your need in his own way?

Words of positive faith…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Matthew 12:37

In the Bible, we discover that faith and fear are not experienced primarily as emotions. Faith and fear, instead, are experienced most often through words. Whenever great faith is shown, it’s nearly always revealed through what people say.

For example, the centurion comes to Jesus, asks him to heal his servant, and Jesus says, “I’ll come right away.” The centurion responds saying, “No, Lord. Just say it and he’ll be healed.” “I’ve never seen greater faith than this,” Jesus says. Based solely on what the centurion said with his words, Jesus thereby heals the servant.

The Samaritan woman asks Jesus to heal her daughter and Jesus asks, “Do dogs eat from the table of their masters?” Though she could have found his reaction demeaning, she nonetheless answers positively saying, “The dogs eat from the table of their masters.” In response to her words of trust in him, Jesus says, “No greater faith have I ever seen than this.”

The reverse is also true. When Peter says, “Lord, don’t go to the cross,” Jesus is displeased with his disciple’s lack of faith in that instance, and says, “Get behind me Satan.”

In another story, Jesus wants to heal a little girl, but the people gathered nearby doubt and mock him with their words. Jesus tells these people of little faith to leave the room so that he can heal the girl, which he does with only the faithful by his side.
The blessings and cursings in our lives are hinged on what we say about ourselves, what we say to others, and how we respond with our words when God wants to give us good things.

Remember, there’s power in our every word.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I have faith in you. I know my words speak loudly about my faith, so I will speak positively knowing you are in control. Amen.

Reflection: When has your positive attitude of faith helped to change a negative situation into a blessing?

Are Believers With Cancer Better Off Than Nonbelievers?.

Religious beliefs can help people cope with the stress of cancer better.

Religious beliefs could help people cope with the stress of cancer better.(Lightstock)

Belief can make the difference for a life in transition. During difficult times when an individual must prioritize their health, a spiritual or religious faith can ease tensions, boost attitude and support overall improved health. Research strongly suggests that individuals with religious and spiritual beliefs cope better during their battle with cancer.

Prayer also leads to optimism, reduces stress and can bolster the immune system, studies say. According to a Women’s Heath Initiative study conducted by the U.S National Institute of Health, those who regularly attend religious services reduce their risk of death by 20 percent. In the book God Changes Your Brain, Dr. Andrew Newburg found that those who pray and meditate have a highly developed parietal lobe, which improves memory and improves wellbeing. An article in Critical Care Clinics states that prayer is the second most common form of pain management, next to oral medicine.

Because of these and other findings, increasingly, the medical community seeks to boost health by understanding and encouraging practices of belief. Tapping into strong spiritual practices and beliefs during a health care threat are the “X factor” in many cases of survival. Therefore, one cannot and must not ignore the profound opportunities that spiritual beliefs bring to the table of hope.

Part of my work with Our Journey of Hope (OJOH) is to encourage the use of faith or religious or spiritual practices to promote wellness and facilitate an infrastructure of clergy and others with strong spiritual beliefs to provide a network to help patients and their families to restore health.

OJOH is a seven-hour training session for pastors and lay members to equip them with the tools and ideology to empower them to address and respond to the needs of individuals who are dealing with cancer. We teach caretakers as well. They are empowered by the belief that they, too, have access to a source greater than themselves to call upon for strength and help.

Our program was created by the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) largely because of a suggestion from a patient and her husband. They asked if I would be willing to meet with local clergy persons that they knew for an informal discussion on cancer care and support from a faith perspective.

The importance of OJOH to the treatment centers continues to position the organization as one of the leaders in the health care arena. We truly value and encourage the faith community to marshal the strength of its value system to fight back against cancer.

Faith works.

I have seen the power of faith and communities to change the lives of patients struggling with cancer. Thirteen years ago, Gloria fell into a coma. Family members asked if I would pray for her to regain consciousness. Soon after I prayed over her, Gloria opened her eyes and indeed regained consciousness. She is still living 13 years later.

A faith or spiritual belief assures cancer patients that it is possible to live through challenging health threats, regardless of the odds of long-term survival, and overcome the challenge. We don’t disavow science. However, those who rely on science alone often wrestle with the limitations of humanity’s knowledge. God has no limits. Faith and a spiritual belief are not rooted in limitation.

The best part of my work is providing a platform for genuine discussion for a topic that typically is ignored. The church and faith community in general lacks health care-related ministries organized in a meaningful way to address the very relevant issues surrounding this community of people. OJOH has equipped thousands to broach the subject of cancer with confidence and fearlessness. We have the opportunity to provide a meaningful relationship with pastors and their members concerning health care.

Ultimately, faith and spiritual beliefs equip individuals with the mental and emotional fortitude to withstand the travails and challenges of treatment and forge ahead in the effort to keep cancer at bay by tapping into a “power source” greater than themselves.

With engaged spirituality and informed clergy, caretakers and family, we can support all patients as they brace themselves to live their lives, overcome obstacles and seek hope in their darkest hours.

Written by Percy McCray

Rev. Percy McCray is a national faith and wellness leader, ordained minister and the director of pastoral care at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Midwestern Regional Medical Center in Zion, Ill. He leads a dynamic program called Our Journey of Hope, which trains lay minsters and church members nationwide on how to implement faith and spirituality into care for cancer patients and their families to battle the debilitating effects of the disease.

Calling On Holy Spirit To Anchor Us On His Word.

Great Keeper, I Join my brothers and sisters in one accord, we call upon You to keep us, from drawing conclusions about Your ways, for we confess from the deepest part of our souls that You are infinitely wise and knowing  that we could ever understand or imagine, and  by Your grace, we will patiently wait to see what You have planned for us, our families, our communities, churches and the world in general, we ask, pray and recieve this prayer in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Great Giver, we beseech Thee Most High God, to give us the courage,  Father, to walk with You in blind faith, even when we do not understand Your plans and purposes and as long as we continue to see Your presence in every darkness that comes our ways, we will confidently place our trust in You and You Alone for the rest of our days, we pray in Jesus Name. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Great Taker, Holy Spirit, we call upon You to take every of our unbeliefs away and replace them with an unexplainable faith, Great Filler, fill us with trust and faith in You and Great Anchor, anchore us on the rock of Your Word to Your glory, as we ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen, Amen and Amen.

Why Do Atheists Get So Angry When Christians Talk About Their Unbelief?.

angry man
Why are so many atheists so angry? (Stock.xchng)

Atheists don’t believe God exists, so why do they get so angry when Christians call them out for it? In myWatchman on the Wall column earlier this week, I wrote about how the atheist agenda wants you to turn your back on Christ.

As of Friday morning, there were 1,158 comments on the article. I am not sure I’ve ever seen so many comments on a story on The atheists swarmed all over the article because Hemant Mehta, who refers to himself as “the friendly atheist” made some not-so-friendly remarks about me in his Patheos column, “Christian Publication Warns of ‘Atheist Agenda’: They Want You to Lose Your Faith!” But Mehta was pretty friendly compared to the folks who read his article and commented on mine.

After a long diatribe against me and my article, a commenter named “David The Sandman,” concluded his spew by saying, “When your church pews are, like the ones in my country, gathering dust and mostly empty you know who to really blame—intolerant and deceptive fools like yourself who clung on to those privileges and bigotries and needlessly slagged off any who didn’t want to adhere to your own narrow definitions of faith. Lying for Jesus is lying all the same. Shame on you.”

Another commenter, Stephen Leavy, wrote, “Christianity: Because you were so bad you made god kill himself.” And “OhioAtheist” quoted the Bible and told me I had no right to speak, according to 1 Timothy 2:12. Meanwhile, an anonymous commenter suggested, “If you can sit down and tell a four year old that they will go to hell if they don’t follow your religion, you aren’t fit to have children.” And Mario Rodgers opined, “I would laugh if you stupid f***wits weren’t so sad in trotting out the same stupid tired arguments about what’s ‘an abomination’ in the sight of your stupid puny god. I can not get a person to turn his back on his faith.” Another guy who calls himself the “Cranky Humanist” told me I just don’t get it on my Twitter account.

I’ll stop there, but it doesn’t get any friendlier. So why are some atheists so angry? I’m hardly the fist one to ask that question. In a video, our friendly atheist Mehta tackles the question “Why are atheists so angry?,” asking, “Why do we get so worked up about something that we don’t even believe exists?” He admits there are angry atheists and acknowledges that it doesn’t seem to make any sense that atheists would get so worked up about something they don’t believe in. Then the friendly atheist offers the reasoning behind so many “ticked off” atheists:

“But you try living in a country where just about every elected official believes in God and then believes that God and their faith should be the basis of policy making. You would get upset too. Or if you had to say prayers in school or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, saying, ‘We’re a nation under God,’ or you saw religion everywhere you went in city council meetings, in your family, at every event you attended—then, yeah, you might get a little upset that all this delusion that’s all around you. And it’s not just someone’s private beliefs. It’s something they want you to be a part of as well. You might get a little ticked off as well.”

Mehta also mentions the many abuses in the name of religion and went on to say a few other things that weren’t so friendly toward Christians. He’s right about that part.

The bottom line, and any Christians reading this should feel free to correct me if I am wrong, is this: Christians want atheists to be “part of” our faith because we don’t want them to spend an eternity in hell. It’s called love. And true Christians are sharing their faith for the right reasons. I can’t speak for all Christians, but I don’t think born-again believers are inherently better, nicer or more trustworthy than atheists, as Mehta suggests is the Christian mindset in his video. All humans have the same carnal nature, and I know plenty of Christians who have poor attitudes. I don’t defend poor attitudes or poor character, and I don’t think Christians should shove their beliefs down anyone’s throat. But friendliness alone won’t take you any place you want to go when you die.

Atheism is rooted in an antichrist spirit that has made man his own God. Atheists have separated themselves from God in this life, yet He still blesses them with an opportunity to repent every day. In the next life—eternal life—atheists won’t be so brazen about insisting God doesn’t exist because they will bow their knee to Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:10; Rom. 14:11) before spending forever apart from His presence in the lake of fire. Calling Christians nasty names and insulting God isn’t going to change that or stop Christians from sharing their faith.

I would challenge every atheist who is reading this article to truly seek God with an open mind. I guarantee if you open your heart, ask Him to reveal Himself to you, and seek Him sincerely, you will find Him.


Jennifer LeClaire is news editor at Charisma. She is also the author of several books, including The Spiritual Warrior’s Guide to Defeating Jezebel. You can email Jennifer at or visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

{ Day 301 }.

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. —Romans 5:1-2

There is no way anyone will understand justification by grace appropriated only through faith without looking at it from God’s perspective. When we see the holiness of God on one hand and the depth of mankind’s sin on the other, a lot of things come into a new light. Justification by faith alone makes sense only when you realize that no amount of human effort could bridge that immeasurable gap. No amount of consecration or sanctification could earn the right to the gifts of the Spirit any more than indulgences could gain forgiveness or Simon’s money could purchase God’s power. Gifts of the Spirit are given based on the grace of God, not on the maturity, wisdom, and character of the vessel.


Father, there is a great gulf that stands between Your perfect holiness and the sinful, hopeless condition of mankind. Nothing but a simple faith in You can bridge that gulf and cause Your forgiveness and mercy to flood over my soul.

God’s solution on the cross makes sense
when you realize that the human effort
equation is hopelessly flawed.


Do Not Be Afraid: The Opposite of Fear.

As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
Mark 5:36

Recommended Reading
Luke 8:49-55 ( )

When we think of faith, we think of belief. And when we think of the opposite of belief, we naturally think of unbelief. Therefore, we conclude that the opposite of faith is unbelief. And from a dictionary perspective, that is true. But the Bible usually sets something besides unbelief in opposition to faith — and that is fear. From a grammatical point of view, the opposite of believing may be not believing. But from the perspective of life, the opposite of faith is fear.

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Jesus demonstrated this clearly when a Jewish man begged Him to come and heal his sick daughter. On their way, friends of the man met them and said it was too late — the little girl had died. But Jesus said to the man, “Do not be  afraid ; only  believe .” Jesus didn’t tell the man not to  doubt  — He told him not to  fear.  Faith and hope are focused on the future. Facing the future without faith and hope is a good reason to be fearful. Going forward, we have two choices: faith or fear.

Whether the future you are focused on is five minutes, five months, or five years away, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”

The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
George Muller

Mark 14-16

By David Jeremiah.

Joy That Ignites Your Faith.

Kathy Gray
Kathy Gray

“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy” (Heb. 1:9, NIV).

As a believer, the worst thing you can do is not be who you are supposed to be to the world. Jesus is our best model of someone who knew who He was meant to be.

Now, I don’t mean the bland, boring Jesus you’ve seen in the movies. They make Him out to be very somber and very blah. The real Jesus loved righteousness and hated wickedness. The real Jesus was anointed with the oil of joy.

This anointing is available for you and for me—and it is who we are supposed to be. Jesus had a spiritual force that sustained Him, and joy is the spiritual force we need to live a life of faith.

For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured it all. The persecution, the cross—joy carried Him through the pain and suffering.

A life of faith is not always a bed of roses. Tough times might come. Challenges may test you. You must decide now to love righteousness, hate wickedness and be anointed with joy.

Think of Jesus: Every time He drove a demon out … joy! Every time he set a captive free … joy! It wasn’t always easy, but He knew He was doing the Father’s will, and He had joy to carry Him along.

This joy is not a girlfriend giggly kind of thing; that’s not the kind of joy my Savior lived. It’s deeper than that. It’s stronger than that. This is the kind of joy that could carry you into the Garden of Gethsemane sweating drops of blood.

This is so much joy dripping all over you that you could proclaim the will of God into the earth today and know God’s going to back you up with a demonstration that brings people out of their prison, takes blinders off their eyes and heals their broken bodies.

Some of you can’t endure anything. You fall apart if you get a flat tire. I’m telling you, if you’re going to live a life of faith, you’ve got to decide now to receive the anointing of joy. Grab hold of this special anointing, and let it become who you are this year!

A prayer of faith: God, I decide right now who I’m going to be to the world. I love righteousness and hate wickedness. I receive the anointing of joy—and I ask You to change my heart, change my mind and change my behavior patterns to respond to every situation with faith and joy. In Jesus name, amen!

©2012 SGM Publishing



Kathy Gray is co-pastor of World Revival Church in Kansas City. Gray is an author and dynamic speaker who has served in the ministry for over 30 years.

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