Friday, February 17, 2017

Today in church history

I am an avid fan of Church History.  Recently I subscribed to a service of Today in Church History and enjoy reading the daily  reminders of those who came before us.

Here is the offering for today -  February 17, 2017

February 17, 661: Finan, bishop of Lindisfarne (an island off the eastern coast of England) who throughout his life sought to preserve Celtic customs against Roman influence, dies. Three years later, at the Synod of Whitby, Celtic Christians agreed to abide by Roman traditions. "Peter is guardian of the gates of heaven, and I shall not contradict him," said the Celtic King, Oswy (see issue 60: How the Irish Were Saved).

February 17, 1858: Waldensians, ancient "Protestants" from the Italian Alps who survived through persecution for 800 years, are finally guaranteed civil and religious rights. They began with the teaching of a wealthy merchant named Pater Waldo in the late 1100s; thus they are considered "the oldest evangelical Church" (see issue 22: The Waldensians).

February 17, 1889: Former White Stockings baseball player Billy Sunday preaches his first evangelistic sermon in Chicago. By the time he died in 1935, he had preached to an estimated 100 million people, and about 1 million "walked the sawdust trail" to become Christians at his invitation.

February 17, 1898: Francis Willard, crusader for prohibition and women's suffrage, dies. She served as dean of Northwestern Women's College before becoming president of the Women's Christian Temperence Union.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Every Pastor Needs a Plane!

Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis,
defending their private jets...

In a commentary on this video,  Drew Dyck
Senior Editor CT Pastors , said the following:

In the exchange, they talked about the hassle of being recognized and approached by strangers wanting prayer on commercial flights (as a celebrity newsletter writer, I get this All. The. Time.) One of them described the horrors of flying commercial as getting into "a long tube filled with demons."
(I guess he'd flown Spirit Airlines).

Like many, I was horrified by the video. How could a pastor cope without a private jet? Now that I think about it, I've attended many churches over the course of my life and not one of my pastors owned a plane. Not one! Where is their faith?
But let's not lay all the blame at the feet of planeless pastors. Those of us in the pews have sat idly by and ignored these pastors' planeless plight (that alliteration was for the pastors, by the way). I for one intend to do something about it.
Maybe it's a pledge drive. Or a Kickstarter campaign. But we have to do something. In the 1920s, President Hoover proudly promised Americans a "chicken in every pot." I can't help but wonder if this is my President/Chicken moment. But instead of promising poultry, my rallying cry will be "a plane for every pastor!"
Please give generously. Unless you want your pastor in a "tube filled with demons."

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Do We Glorify God in All We Do?

God reveals Himself to us, and we are to mirror Him.
He created, and at the end He said, “It was good.”
So whatever it is that you do—do it well.
Do it with purpose. Do it for Him.
And at the end of the day, you can say,
“It was good.”

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Preparing for worship at First Wesleyan Church - Gastonia - Mission

Yesterday I asked a simple question on the Facebook page of our church:

Why would you NOT invite someone to church?

I am already aware that there will be several people away from church tomorrow. The beaches of NC are calling – the beautiful Mountains beckoned their call and others will enjoy the comforts of bed in the am.

I am excited about church tomorrow at First Wesleyan Church of Gastonia NC. I have already walked the worship center and placed my hands on each pew to pray the Lord’s Presence upon our time together tomorrow.

Tomorrow may be a life changing day for some who are at church.  Who will YOU bring with you? 

Here is the order of worship we have planned - We make our plans, but God has the last word! 

We begin with a welcome and then stand to sing unto the Lord

We now pause for some announcements and bringing our tithes and offerings to the Lord. The choir will present a special entitled:

Take Now My Voice

It is now time for our Missions Moments as we feature Tome and Grace Ensz - Missionaries to Brazil, South America. 

We continue singing in worship:

Hear the Word of the Lord!

Here is a little thought to prepare for tomorrow: 

Friday, February 10, 2017

If Jesus Trusted the Bible, Then You Can, Too

“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished”               (Matthew 5:18 NIV).

You may have heard someone say,   “I trust Jesus, but not the other guys who wrote the Bible.” There’s a problem with that logic.

Jesus trusted the Bible — every word of it! He taught that the Bible was a unique book, above all the others.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:18, “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (NIV).

Jesus says the Bible will last until the end of time. It will accomplish what God wants to accomplish in this world. In John 10:35a Jesus said, “We know that Scripture is always true” (NIRV). Jesus proclaimed the truth of the Bible. And when Jesus talks about the truthfulness of the Bible, we need to listen.

When Jesus talked about the Bible with people, he would often base his argument about the truth of the Bible on a single sentence or even a single word from the Bible. He believed every single sentence, every single word of Scripture. So if I trust Jesus, why wouldn’t I trust the Bible?

When Jesus talks about the Bible, he doesn’t just talk about it as poetry and history, either. He saw the Bible as something that changes lives. In Luke 11:28 Jesus said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (NIV). Jesus doesn’t just want us to read the Bible. That’s what you do with poetry and history. Jesus wants us to obey the Bible. That’s what you do with anything the Creator of the universe writes.

When Jesus talked about the Bible, he talked about it as if the people and events in it were real. He talked about all the prophets being real. He talked about Daniel being real. Jesus believed in Noah and everything that happened with the flood. He believed in Adam and Eve. He believed in the tragedy of Sodom and Gomorrah. He believed that Jonah was swallowed by a large fish.

Jesus believed in some of the most disputed stories in the Bible, particularly Noah, Adam and Eve, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Jonah. People who think that the Bible is mostly good stories that didn’t really happen always point to those four stories.

If Jesus really believed in Jonah, then I should, too. I don’t know how God created a fish that could swallow a guy, but he did.

I trust in the Bible because Jesus trusted in it.

Source:  Pastor Rick Warren

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Systoms of a church dying for change

It wasn't the surgery that killed him. 

The boy died because hospital residents and nurses overlooked signs that the postoperative pain control regimen had gone awry. 

Autopsy revealed the error. He bled to death internally via a perforated ulcer brought on by pain meds he had been given as part of his treatment.

It was a tragic case of professional attitudes and diagnostic preconceptions led to catastrophic failure—the death of an otherwise healthy fifteen-year-old boy.

The same problem—preconceptions and attitudes that obscure otherwise evident problems—may lie at the heart of many a church's failure to recognize serious trouble. In our ministry we have found that pastors, church leaders, and congregants overlook the obvious signs, focusing on those few data points that allow them to feel comfortable in their plight.

The following list is far from complete. My objective isn't to produce the definitive list; it is to motivate pastors, church leaders, and congregants to set aside their preconceptions, approach the condition of their churches with open minds, and then listen closely to what the patient is telling them. They will recognize whether the church is in need of change lest it die.

1. The church isn't praying for laborers, open doors, and for evangelistic success.

On numerous occasions (e.g., Matthew 9:35-38; Luke 10) Jesus instructed us to always be prayerful for the gospel's effectiveness. Paul prayed diligently for opportunity, for the right words to say, and for successful evangelistic endeavors (e.g. Colossians 4:2-4). He often recruited the churches to join him in these prayers.

What signs reveal that your church prays regularly and fervently to the Lord of the harvest? The people in the church should be praying for laborers to enter the field, for boldness to speak clearly and persuasively in the face of hostility, and for open doors to the people in their social circles and to the people in the community.

2. Lagging indicators reveal unproductive processes.

Churches and pastors tend to pay attention to lagging indicators- things like attendance, income, baptisms, membership. Metrics of this type are the results of the systems and procedures already at work in your church.

By looking more closely at these lagging indicators, and analyzing what they mean, you will discover where change needs to occur. For example, consider the number of visitors who find their way to your church services. A widely used rule of thumb is that the annual total number of visitors should be equal to or greater the average worship service attendance. Thus, a church with an average Sunday attendance of 125 should see at least 125 first-time visitors per year. Another bit of conventional wisdom holds that a church needs to add new people at the rate of 2.5% per year to offset its losses. 

Those church visitors are low hanging fruit. They will be the easiest to move into the ranks of the affiliated - into church membership.

Do the metrics indicate your church is on plateau or in decline? If so, isn't about time to give some serious consideration to changing things up to revitalize the church?  

3. Ten people selected at random give different statements about the mission and vision.

If the church's core constituents don't voice the same ideas about the church's mission and vision, then one of two conditions exist. Either the pastor has been an unclear and inconsistent communicator about the vision, or there really is not a settled mission and vision at the heart of the church's ministry.

This can lead to a deadly condition in which bitter conflict erupts because people will always fill the "vision vacuum" with their own ideas.

4. Programs, events, and activities are designed for church members.

This is deadly. Smaller churches (less than 200) are especially prone to this. Congregations with limited resources (time, money, space, personnel) must apply those resources to fulfilling the mission and achieving the vision. If the church is aligned around its members, it is living in maintenance mode. 

"Maintenance" keeps a church on the downward trajectory - until there's impact at ground zero.

5. Leadership is different from the people you've focused on reaching.

While mature believers are (or should be) comfortable worshipping and ministering with a diverse gathering of believers, such is not the case with unbelievers. The people we would reach with the gospel respond far more readily to the gospel when it is brought to them by others who are like them.

The makeup of a church's leadership team (staff - paid and unpaid, officers, ministry leaders) conveys a subtle message about "the kind of people we are." The team should include people with whom outsiders will comfortably identify. A church three miles from the local university campus should include young adults, perhaps even some university students, on its leadership team. If your church hopes to minister to political refugees from the Congo and Burundi, the public faces of your church should be familiar to them. 

A physician friend, now retired, once offered an interesting observation:

If the physician would listen, the patient will generally tell what's wrong with them.

Apparently attentive listening is a skill not widely taught in medical schools or mastered by medical practitioners.

So, as the physician attending to an ailing congregation – what changes do the patient's symptoms call for?

Bud Brown / An experienced ministry leader, writer and educator, Bud Brown is co-founder of Turnaround Pastors. He is a change leader in many venues — small rural, upscale suburban and mega-sized churches. Bud also trains pastors in conferences, workshops and coaching sessions. You can reach him by emailing