Monday, February 15, 2010

New Posts & All the Archives - Click Here

CLICK HERE>>> to access the new site for Loving Our Communities to Christ

Below are recent postings you'll find at the new site

April 1, 2010 by Phil Miglioratti · Leave a Comment 
Jeff Fray, Marriage Commission:  We have growing awareness of how much we have in common with other city reaching groups.  God loves to see his kids working together, so we want to shoulder up, listen and learn and be open to ways what we are doing is similar, ways to collaborate that [...]

March 31, 2010 by Phil Miglioratti · Leave a Comment 
…  the relationship between social justice and evangelism … the historical impetus for this discussion and its evolution into the social gospel in the late 19th century and early 20th century (further back than that missio dei movement but with some similarities).
Historical Convergence and Divergence
The distinction between social justice and [...]

March 31, 2010 by Phil Miglioratti · Leave a Comment 
Seven Characteristics of Highly Evangelistic Christians
Posted By: Thom Rainer
For over twenty years I have been researching and studying churches, primarily those in North America. I had the joy of serving as senior pastor in four churches where God blessed with evangelistic growth. I have written over twenty [...]

March 29, 2010 by Phil Miglioratti · Leave a Comment 
Salt & Light Workshop May 7-8, Knoxville, TN
Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (Jeremiah 29:7)
God’s heart for our cities compels us to [...]

March 29, 2010 by Phil Miglioratti · 1 Comment 
City Transformations
You don’t have to travel far or spend lots of money in order to go on a mission trip. You can have a mission trip without leaving home. A mission trip in your own backyard.
Acts 1:8: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will [...]

March 22, 2010 by Phil Miglioratti · Leave a Comment 
Urban Renewal Article Resource Pack
by Tom White & Phil Miglioratti for Pray! Magazine
$0.00 Item Added to Cart Item Added to Cart
How can prayer help change a community? This article collection from Pray! shows what happens when you partner with God in prayer for [...]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Whole Church + Whole Gospel + Whole City (and beyond!)

>>>Note: The Mission America Coalition and the Loving Our Communities to Christ initiative is rooted in the Lausanne Covenant . . .

Christopher J. H. Wright

The Lausanne Covenant - substantially crafted by John Stott, includes the phrase: ‘evangelization requires the whole church to take the whole gospel to the whole world’.(1)

One might argue that the three wholes embodied in this ringing phrase are hardly new, and go back to the Apostle Paul, if not to the patriarch Abraham himself. Let us look at what each means.

The whole Church means all believers. The whole world means every man and woman. The whole gospel means all the blessings of the gospel. That is surely better than some missionaries taking some blessings of the gospel to some people in some parts of the world. But the three wholes also have more substantial, qualitative implications worthy of a Global Conversation.===>Click headline to access complete article . . .

Christopher J. H. Wright lays the foundation for the conversation in his articleWhole Gospel, Whole Church, Whole World.

Selected writers respond:

Also see more on the topicfrom around the web.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Love Your Neighborhood!

Some 17,000 youth have convened for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship's preeminent student missions convention, which kicked off in St. Louis Sunday with a strong emphasis on personal evangelism.

  • Urbana 09 worship
    (Photo: The Christian Post)
    The worship team at Urbana 09 missions conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

“Your neighborhood – God’s mission,” said Urbana Director Jim Tebbe on the first day of Urbana 09, as he exhorted the crowd of mostly U.S. and Canadian college students to reach out to those close to them.

The missions leader challenged students gathered for the five-day conference to write the name of someone they could help on the palm of their hand and hold it up in a pledge to reach out to their neighbors with the gospel.

During his address, Tebbe recalled a story from his days as a college Bible study leader when one of his dorm-mates – one who used to party, drink, and not study well – asked him a piercing question: “Why didn’t you invite me to your Bible study?”

“I would have come,” he had told Tebbe, before quitting school.

Tebbe, who never saw his dorm-mate again, urged students not to let his regretful story become theirs by simply laying down their expectations.

“God’s mission is much smaller than you might think,” Tebbe said as he talked about the young man who had lived right across the hall from him.

Until Dec. 31, the thousands attending Urbana 09 will be hearing from speakers such as Ramez Atallah, general secretary of the Bible Society of Egypt; Ruth Padilla Deborst, general secretary of the Latin American Theological Fellowship; and Patrick Fung, general director of Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) International.

Organized by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Urbana 09 will focus on four pressing global issues currently faced by those active in missions around the world – the movement of peoples, money in terms of missions funding, environmental stewardship, and divisions between peoples.

Each day, the program will focus on a different issue and challenge and highlight speakers from a variety of cultural contexts who will discuss how God is at work and was needs still remain.

“They (attendees) will also experience worship with thousands of others in one of the most diverse worship gatherings in North America,” added Tebbe prior to the conference kick off.

Urbana 09 will be much like its predecessor, Urbana 06, which also took place in St. Louis. More than 22,000 students had attended the 2006 event where they were called to change the world.

Participants at Urbana 06 were educated on issues such as AIDS, slum communities in the developing world, sex trafficking, and African missions.

Some key changes in the event from the last conference, however, include a stronger emphasis on social justice, an influx of Canadian participants, and increased focus on campus issues such as those surrounding LGBT individuals and communities.

This year, organizers of the triennial conference had expected more than 20,000 to attend from every state and many nations.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

SHARE ~ How tough is your state?

Religious Commitment Analysis

How Religious Is Your State?

Which of the 50 states has the most religious population? Since there are many ways to define "religious," there is no single answer to this question. But to give a sense of how the states stack up, the Pew Forum used polling data to rank them on four measures.===>Click headline to access study . . .

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

CARE ~ Holiday Outreaches

The Serve! with Steve Sjogren: Issue 40

World-Changing Kindness Projects

3 Fun Easy and Inexpensive Holiday Outreaches

By Kindness Resources
Here are 3 fun and powerful outreaches that you can do during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Our Whole-istic Approach

Whole Gospel, Whole Church, Whole World

We must believe, live, and communicate all that makes the Christian message staggeringly comprehensive good news.

by Christopher J. Wright
Christianity Today October 2009

The phrase the whole gospel suggests that some versions of the gospel are less than whole--partial, deficient, or (most important) not fully biblical.

The great Christ-centered, Cross-centered redemptive truths of the New Testament do not nullify, but rather complete, all that the Old Testament reveals about God's comprehensive commitment to the wholeness of human life, God's relentless opposition to all that oppresses, spoils, and diminishes human well-being, and God's ultimate mission of blessing the nations, destroying all forms of evil, and redeeming his whole creation, for his own supreme glory in Christ.

The expression the whole church insists that mission is the task of all Christians, not just of the clergy or professional missionaries. Mission is far too important to be left to missionaries.

The Church is "called out" in order to be "sent out," as the the Lausanne Covenant puts it. The vogue expression missional church is really nothing new. What other kind of church is there than the one that God created for mission? A friend said to me recently, "To me, missional church sounds like talking about 'female women.' If it's not missional, it's not church." As someone else has said,"It's not that God has a mission for his church in the world, but that God has a church for his mission in the world."

Church is not just the mechanism delivering the gospel. It is also the product of the gospel, and is to be the living, visible proof of the ethically transforming power of the gospel.

In such a world of need, the followers of Jesus are called to bring good news and to be good news. No single one of us can be engaged in everything that a holistic mission demands. The same thought doubtless occurred to God, which is why he created the church with a multiplicity of gifts and callings, so that we can as a whole church, bear witness to the whole gospel in the whole world. May this global conversation generate more intelligent understanding and more focused action as we participate with God in his global mission.

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CARE ~ LC2City Boise Pays Parking TIcket

The Ministry Today Report - News, reviews and commentary for innovative church leaders

Ministering Grace Through a Parking Ticket mt-image-12-8.jpg

Got an unpaid parking ticket? If you're in the Boise, Idaho, area on Dec. 12, you're in luck: A group of outreach-motivated followers of Christ will pay off your ticket for you—no strings attached.

The event, called the Grace Gift Parable, is the brainchild of a coalition of local pastors, leaders and business professional. It was first held in 2004 when believers gathered to pay off $7,500 in tickets. The following year, the Grace Gift Parable supplied free gasoline to complete strangers.

"It’s an example of grace,” says Dennis Mansfield, a former worker for nonprofit Mission Media, which helped organize the event. “Grace is unearned. It’s an unmerited favor. At this time of the season, we want to show God’s grace. In the process, we help families.”

According to Montie Ralstin Jr., pastor at Boise Valley Christian Communion, the outreach is a perfect opportunity to show people the forgiveness Christ offers, regardless of what mistakes people have made. “We want to help people understand, in a practical way, that even though we’ve all made mistakes, God’s grace and forgiveness is received, just by asking.”

The group of pastors present will pay off tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis until 1 p.m. or until $10,000 is spent, whichever comes first. [AP, 12/4/09]

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Love Your Neighbor - Even a Crossdresser on an Airplane

The person we despise most may be the person God wants us to reach most. The "good Samaritan" parable is so familiar that we can forget how much the Jews despised the half-breed people of Samaria. Jesus intentionally made a Samaritan the hero of the story to underscore his point that our position in society is much less important than our actions toward others.

Luke 10:30:37 Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.' "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."

In Business Terms ...

I was on a plane coming from Chicago to Milwaukee. I asked for a seat with an empty seat beside it, because I had a writing assignment, and I needed to spread out my Bible and notes, and study. So on this small plane, I ended up the only person with an empty seat next to her. I got out my Bible, and just as we were about to take off, into the plane came this huge man, 6'4" or 6'5" - very masculine. But he was dressed like a woman - mini-skirt and stockings, high-heeled white shoes and purse, and wig.

As this cross-dresser came down the aisle, I realized, The only open seat is next to me. He's going to be sitting next to me all during this flight. And I suddenly wanted to put my Bible away. I'm amazed I had these reactions. Prejudices I didn't know I had came out. I said to the Lord, "I don't really care about him. I really don't care if he goes to heaven or hell. And that's the truth. I'm writing and preaching about these things, and suddenly here is a real-life human being, and I don't care a bit about him." I repented and said, "I'm sorry, Lord. Forgive me, and give me your heart for this man. You died for him." I didn't lead him to Christ, but I smiled at him and changed my attitude. I began to ask myself, What's happened in his life to bring him to this point? At the end of the journey, I had a compassion for him I didn't have at the beginning. - Jill Briscoe

Something to Think About:

Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God. - Bob Pierce

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Your Is Your City's Partnership A Real Partnership?

Effective Collaboration in Global Christian Ministry
by Phill Butler (

This whitepaper is a distillation of decades of real-world experience in forming collaborative partnerships for Christian ministry around the world. In the first section - "Personal Perspective" - I provide an overview of my own journey towards understanding the tremendous need for global collaboration in Christian ministry, and the extraordinary power that is released when God's people work in partnership. In the second section - "Key Principles" - I outline what experience and observation have shown to be the most important aspects of successful collaboration and the benefits that employing them can produce. In the third section - "Partnership Process" - I highlight the three phases of development among all durable partnerships and detail the objectives, activities, and outcomes in each phase. In the fourth section - "Lessons Learned" - I list a number of important insights that I and my colleagues have discovered in our collaboration consulting work with numerous networks, agencies, and other organizations over the years.===>Click headline to access complete presentation . . .

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

CARE ~ Connecting Love and Christmas

Campus Crusade for Christ

Ed Butchart as Santa12-18 MP3 1-MIN 2-MIN CARING AT CHRISTMAS
"So many people around me are struggling this Christmas season, but what can I do to help?" Steve Douglass answers that listener's question on today’s Lighthouse Report. [Click on the title for even more ideas.]

To demonstrate Christ's love this Christmas - what a wonderful goal! Today on the Lighthouse Report, Ed Butchart (right), otherwise known as Santa, reminds us of one saintly character who showed Christ's love to his community.

At Christmastime, does it ever seem that your family is more concerned about gift giving and friends rather than serving and loving others? Steve Douglass gives his insight on today’s Lighthouse Report.

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SHARE ~ Tell THE Story

I Love to Tell the (Christmas) Story

THE HOLIDAYS CAN BE a time of frustration, exhaustion, and depression. Or they can serve as a season of celebration, expectation, and inspiration. If you're seeking ways to promote peace and keep the holidays holy, tell the Christmas story. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

A Story Party. Invite people over for a share-a-story potluck. Each person brings a favorite dish and a favorite Christmas tale to tell. You can end by telling the true Christmas story.

Neighborhood Nativity. Spread the word that you're hosting a live nativity scene on your lawn. Specify the time and night you'd like participants to show up. Provide inexpensive bathrobe-type attire and stuffed farm animals. Play Christmas carols.

The first year we did this, only four families participated. By the third year, almost everyone on the block wanted to take part. Several ladies made cookies. Dads brought camcorders, and one older man arranged for a Florida "sleigh ride" (in his decorated truck) for kids. We also wrote tracts with the Christmas story and handed them to all visitors....

(Please click
here to read, print, or email this article from DJ's online archives, November/December 1998)

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Monday, November 30, 2009

A Different Way to Teach/Train Evangelism

Escaping from evangelism methods that don’t suit you

book cover
Book review on the just-released…

Got style? Personality-based evangelism
Jeffrey A Johnson
ISBN 978-0-8170-1555-8
Judson Press

We usually find it frustrating and discouraging to try and fulfill a role for which we do not have the gifts – it’s like being a square peg in a round hole. It is yet more condemning to feel completely inadequate in comparison with those who do seem to have these gifts.

Yet how good it seems when our gifts and temperament match our responsibilities and ministry. And how important that we should be sufficiently self-aware to understand our personality type, strengths and weaknesses.

Johnson’s new book will come as a huge relief to those who have felt pressured into styles or systems of evangelism that did not match their personality, or who retreated from any sort of faith sharing because a particular and uncomfortable method was presented to them as ‘the only way’. Many would rather chew off their own ear than do door-to-door evangelism, for instance.

‘Got style?’ proposes that there are six very different methods of evangelism, based on six personality types. A simple self-assessment questionnaire enables you to find the one or two styles that especially match your personality. Johnson goes on to unpack each style, showing how it works and fits the way you think and communicate best. For each style, he explains its strength and weakness, gives biblical and contemporary case studies, and makes outreach suggestions.

We can also analyze how each style fits different areas of online evangelism – indeed, there’s a project to write up!

Thanks to Jeff Johnson for explaining more in this guest blog posting:

“The stories of Andrew and Phillip – and the experiences of other people I have known – have always led me to wonder exactly what it is that allows or enables people to share their faith with others so freely and so immediately after their conversions. It seems clear that a believers’ early communication then and now is about a personal encounter and experience with Christ, not really a doctrine or dogma. Why? It certainly is because the Holy Spirit leads and moves people, and the Spirit’s role cannot and will not be minimized. But is there also some God-given something in people the Holy Spirit works with that enables them to be early and effective witnesses, even without special training? I believe there is. My study and experience have led me to this conclusion.

More than anything else, personality is the human component involved in effective evangelism.

By personality, I mean much more than the traditional dichotomy of extrovert vs. introvert, which pits three-fourths of population against the other fourth, respectively. Extroverts and introverts can be found in varying degrees in any of the personality styles. By personality I mean God’s inherent wiring as to how people generally engage and interact with the world.

People seem to instinctively know this even if they have different ways of expressing it. A recent informal poll found only 8 to 10 percent of Christians regularly share Christ with others. When asked, “Why don’t Christians share Christ?” several responses were given:

33.5% – Afraid of being rejected, embarrassed
21.7% – Afraid of not having answers
19.2% – Rarely think about the need
17.3% – Don’t know what to say
8.3% – Haven’t found a way to share that fits personal style (In other words, it’s not comfortable or natural.)

Though the last response names “personality” specifically, personality seems to be behind the other responses; people are really saying they haven’t found a way to do evangelism naturally – as a part of how they are “wired.” Because evangelism has become associated with something unnatural or forced, it feels “bad.” I never understood why sharing the something so good makes so many feel so bad until I realized most people are doing evangelism in a way contrary to the way God made them. We are called to do evangelism out of “grace, not guilt. It can be enjoyable, not just an endurable experience”

I began searching the inspired pages for how Scripture views and values evangelism. While contemporary examples are helpful, they cannot replace New Testament examples. What I began to see was evidence that we all have this “personality thing” and it influences how we share Christ with others. One of the most striking examples of Spirit-used personality is in the book of Acts where we read about Saul, whom we come to know later by his Greek name Paul. Examining some of Paul’s story will give us a glimpse of how the Spirit works with personality, not only to find faith (Evangelism) but to mature in it as well (Discipleship), but that’s content for another book at another time.

Paul was, from Scripture’s earliest references, a passionate persecutor of those who held the new Christian faith. He was present at the martyrdom of Stephen and, though only watching over the outer garments (coats) of those who stoned Stephen, he was guilty by association.

“At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him [Stephen], dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:57-58 NIV).

Paul’s passion finds further expression as he traveled north to Damascus to, in his words, “persecute the church of God” (1 Corinthians 15:9) and “try to destroy it” (Galatians 1:13). It is clear that for Paul, this was more than completing a job task. He took his responsibility personally. Personality is very personal. For each of us, it is unique. It defines who we are and directs how we interact with others.

And yet it was en route to Damascus to carry out this persecution that Paul had a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ.

“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:1-5 NIV).

The record goes on to tell us that after only three days, Paul walked south on the same road, but he was changed from Christianity’s greatest persecutor or Christianity’s greatest promoter!

“Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9:19-22 NIV)

What strikes me about Paul’s story is this: it was only three days between the time he was an enemy of Christ and when he became a first-class friend of Christ. More striking is he attended no online training program, no school of evangelism, no workshop or seminar. What did God’s Spirit tap in Paul to move him out to promote that which he passionately and intensely had persecuted days before? God used Paul’s inherent assertive personality. Surrendering his entire life to the Spirit, personality included, was a part of his transformation. With the same vigor, the same personality, Paul promoted the very thing he tried to destroy.

Paul’s conversion was evidence of the Spirit’s working in his heart. Paul shared the Gospel using his personality as he surrendered himself to the Holy Spirit. This was just one example in Scripture. I wondered if there were other kinds of evidence for how the Spirit views or uses personalities, so I searched Scriptures further. This is what I found:

“Whoever speaks, does so using the words God provides, and whoever serves, does so using the strength God provides, so that in all these things, God might be acknowledged” (I Peter 4:11 NIV, italics mine).

This verse indicates everyone in the world fits into two broad groups: those who naturally engage the world by what they say and those who naturally engage the world by what they do. The first group uses words (verbal or written) and emphasizes the head. The second group uses works and emphasizes the hands. There are three styles I believe under the “Words” and three styles under the “Works” with a couple substyles under a few. These two groups describe how we all are generally wired as God created us.

Looking further in Scriptures, 1 Peter 3:11 gives additional insight into the styles of presence: “…won, without a word, by their conduct” (NIV). Here, it is not what is said, but what is done that can win people over. People who are basically doing people get their hearts and hands dirty in their evangelistic efforts. But just so there is no misunderstanding: words also have a vital place. 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us “we should be ready always to give the reason for the hope that is within us” (NIV). This verse assumes our lives will cause people to want to know “why” – and we need to be ready with words to explain because they will initiate the conversation and ask the questions.

It must also be understood here that evangelism is not about convicting, convincing, or converting the non-Christian. That is the work of God through the activity of the Holy Spirit in a person’s heart. Evangelism is about introducing people to Christ through persuasive presentation, using both speech (lips) and actions (life) to share the Good News. Presentation only appeals to a need already present in a person or that can be perceived during the encounter. Thus, evangelism is really about conversing with the person in such a way that communicates the Gospel. Again, words and works are the two basic ways we can evangelize. God wired us with one or the other of these broad based personality categories. .

Though I have been touting this dichotomy for years, the most concise descriptors I’ve read that contrast between words and works are presented in Irresistible Evangelism. Below are several pairings, representing two sides of a continuum; word or proclamation styles are on the left and works or presence styles are on the right.

Monologue … Dialogue

Presentations … Conversations

Our language … Their language

Count (quantity of) conversions …Count (quality of) conversations

Front door approaches … Back door approaches

Fishing from the bank … Swimming with the fish

Scripted … Spontaneous

Winning … Nudging

Gospel presentations … Gospel experiences

{With thanks to Web Evangelism @}

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CARE ~ Toilet Brushes, Rakes, Buckets and Songes. . .

I Am Servicus!
by Ken Glassmeyer

These are the weapons of the new war in our streets: toilet brushes, rakes, buckets and sponges. . .


Nothing irks me more than being around people that see a demon lurking at every turn and want to blame whatever is going on wrong at their church on spiritual warfare. These same good-intentioned folks will then use that as some excuse to begin, as Rick Joyner often describes, "shouting down devils and throwing hatchets at the moon." All this type of behavior generally results in is getting a severe headache from the hatchet blade landing back on your forehead. You might as well be spitting in a fan.

Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of room for intense intercession, the pulling down of strongholds, and yes, at times, full-scale deliverance. The Kingdom is a strange place. It is both physical and spiritual. You need to battle in the heavens AND here on the ground. What I want to introduce you to is something that transcends traditional spiritual warfare.

It is called it servant warfare:

Pray while you work!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

SHARE ~ Hope For The Holidays

Family, friends, eggnog and presents. The sights and scents of the Christmas season. Everyone loves Christmas, right? But for those who are hurting and lonely, the holiday festivities may only make the pain more bitter.

I am Second’s Hope for the Holidays new video discussion guide highlights stories of how hurting people found hope. It is 3 sessions—just right for small groups to use between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Looking for Hope?Find hope in the real-life stories of other hurting people. Hear the story of a woman who has suffered through five marriages. The story of a man who had all his wealthy dreams come true, but does not have happiness. Discover the hope they found.

Do you have Hope?Share hope with the single mom, the family losing their home, the student far from home. Share your hope, your love, and your life.

Simple to use.

· Get a free download of the Hope for the Holidays discussion guide.

· Gather together one or more friends, neighbors, or co-workers.

· Watch some I am Second videos, then talk about how hurting people found hope.

Hope for the Holidays.

Find Hope. Share Hope.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

SHARE ~ A Debt to the Barbarians?

Acts 17:22

(22) Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

If we were to read between the lines, Paul might be saying, "You Athenians are to be commended for your devotion to spiritual things." The King James' rendering of "religious" as "superstitious" exposes the latter word as having undergone what linguists call semantic drift. In Shakespeare's day and King James' time, this word did not have the negative connotation as it does now.

From the context of this account, it is plain that the apostle Paul was not, as some theologians like to characterize him, a feisty, wrangling, argumentative hothead. The men of Athens, who vastly outnumbered Paul and loved a good philosophical debate, could have made short work out of any know-it-all smart aleck. The apostle Paul was thus lavish in his compliments.

Throughout his ministry, he frequently resorted to diplomatic language. At one point, he acknowledged a cultural debt both to the Greeks and to barbarians (Romans 1:14). In addition to complimenting strangers, Paul continually sought out similarities he shared between him and other groups. In a conflict in which both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were breathing fire down his neck, Paul masterfully ingratiated himself to the Pharisees, reminding them that he and they shared the same view on the resurrection (Acts 23:6-8). Paul, to the right people, let it be known that he was a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37-39; 22:25-29).

We also need to find common ground, not only with people in the other groups of the church of God, but with the world at large, emphasizing (like mountains) the things we agree upon and de-emphasizing (like molehills) the things we disagree upon.

In the process of finding common ground, we dare not compromise our core values or syncretize them with the world. We should instead practice more of what one late church of God minister counseled, "You don't have to tell all you know." Oftentimes, keeping our traps shut is the most diplomatic behavior of all (Ecclesiastes 3:7; Lamentations 3:28-29; Amos 5:13).

David F. Maas
From How to Conduct Ourselves as Ambassadors for Christ

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Complicating the Love Out of Christianity

In our modern version of Christianity, we have said that loving God is doing and not doing a bunch of things, and all of these things make our Christian life complicated… but love is not things. Love is a choice I make to give myself to another for their greater good. I love God, therefore I want to read the Bible, so that I know God better and serve Him better and can better share Him with the world around me. I love God, so I pray, to talk with Him and hear from Him and to lay myself out before Him so He can mold and shape me. I love God, so I worship, to express to Him how great, awesome and wonderful I know He is.

This is what Jesus said, “if you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15). Love first, obey second. We have gotten it mixed up. In many cases our whole focus is on obedience. The greatest command is not to obey, but to love. Loving God will lead to obedience. Yet we have made obeying commands, whether they are God’s commands or our own man made commands, the first order of business in Christianity. And that is complicated and puts burdens upon us.

===>Click headline to read the complete PlusLife blog entry . . .

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

LC2C: Loving Our Neighbors

A Loving Our Communities to Christ
  • Citywide
  • Congregation-by-Congregation Emphasis

Loving Our Neighbors ~ Through an Authentic Lifestyle of Praying, Caring, Sharing

Implementing a Prayer-Care-Share Culture in Congregations

Objective: In each LC2City, we are asking God for a tipping point of congregations committed to the implementing an ongoing, sustainable, and reproducable prayer-care-share lifestyle culture

In Loving Our Neighbors:
  • The essential elements of prayer and care and share flow from and into one another
  • The emphasis is on integrating p-c-s into the lifestyle of every believer (adults, student, children)
  • ... and into the culture of every ministry and activity of the congregation.
  • Therefore, this is a long-term journey; a purposeful and progressive expedition, not an event or one-time project.

The leadership of every participating congregation agrees to a two-year coaching relationship with the LC2C Team during which they will be intentional towards:
  • Integrating p-c-s into the life of every family, ministry and activity
  • Instructing every leader of the congregation's small groups, teams, classes, committees, councils and staff to support the vision and values of this journey
  • Involving every member in the pursuit of a p-c-s lifestyle

Every congregation participating in this coaching relationship agrees:
  • The Pastor - He or she must be the p-c-s champion to the entire congregation:
    • As a model and mentor to leaders ("I commit to pursue a p-c-s lifestyle...")
    • Through teaching and training church members (Sermons, seminars, stories)
    • With other pastors who are also leading their congregation on a p-c-s journey (1) A one day vision-casting session, (2) Two day-long meetings per year with all the pastors in our city committed to Loving Our Neighbors, facilitated by the LC2C coach and (3) Three conference calls with other LC2C cities)
  • The Catalysts - The pastor identifies individuals who have a passion or calling for prayer, for care, and/or for share:
    • To provide ongoing prayer support for the pastor and for the goal of becoming a prayer-care-share congregation
    • To encourage the pastor to cast and recast the vision and the values of this venture
    • To assist with an ongoing assessment of the strengths and struggles of the congregation (especially in their area of passion)
    • To serve, as gifted, in a catalytic role on the congregation's journey
  • The Ruling Leaders - The Board (or Elders or Council) must affirm their commitment to this journey and adopt/adapt this strategy
  • The Serving Leaders - All those who lead a group, teach a class, direct a team or chair a committee must be trained in how to apply the p-c-s lifestyle into and through their ministry
  • The Congregation -
    • ... will experience 104 Sundays (two years) of which p-c-s is both verbal (sermon, testimony, announcement, prayer focus) and visible (banner, power point slide, prayer wall, display table, bulletin information)
    • ... will experience 8 quarterly gatherings devoted to p-c-s: training, prayerwalking, service project, evangelistic outreach, celebration, etc.
    • ... will experience an annual gathering to reaffirm their commitment to loving their neighbors with intentional prayers, practical acts of kindness or justice, and telling the good new of Jesus.
  • The Community- will be impacted by both an individual and corporate (teams, classes, fellowship groups, the entire congregation) witness as they:
    • are prayed for by name and need; neighborhood and network (affinity groupings)
    • receive care through acts of kindness, service projects, and community development initiatives
    • hear the gospel as a result of relationship or opportunity

Milestones Throughout the Journey:
  1. The Pastor acknowledges the need to be intentional at developing a praying, caring, sharing culture throughout the congregation
  2. The Ruling Leaders affirm Loving Our Neighbors as the pervasive priority of the entire congregation and the template for planning
  3. The Leadership Team meets for a day of prayer-driven strategic planning on how each ministry will integrate a p-c-s culture
  4. The Pastor and Leadership Team:
    1. Casts anew the command to "love your neighbor" to the entire congregation
    2. Provides all-church and affinity training as a prelude to...
    3. A launch ("Let's go!") event (such as "Go To The Wall" Sunday) ...
    4. Which is the beginning of 104 Sundays of reminding, rehearsing, releasing every person into their prayer-care-share lifestyle
  5. P-C-S is identified on the agenda of every board, committee, team, planning, prayer meeting, study group:
    1. Personal: Who has God led to you pray for? Care about? Share with?
    2. Corporate: In what ways can we (our class, our fellowship group, our ministry) p-c-s better together than on our own?
  6. Church leadership plans and promotes strategic p-c-s events in which the entire congregation (macro) or a select group (classes, teams, committees, etc) participates in prayer (prayer stations), care (porch painting) and/or share (survey booth at county fair) to impact the community

The Commitment of Loving Our Communities to Christ
  1. Coaching - "LC2C" will provide a coach who will meet the pastors in your city that commit to this journey
    1. ONE citywide training session for all the participating pastors and their key leadership
      1. Clarify the vision of integrating, not adding, p-c-s
      2. Recognize that praying, caring, sharing is already somewhat active as we begin this next stage of our ongoing journey
      3. Train leaders to become vision-carriers
    2. TWO day-long coaching sessions each year that include
      1. Instruction from the coach
      2. Interaction among the participating pastors as they share personal concerns, difficulties, successes ...
      3. Implementation of ideas and action plans customized by each pastor
    3. THREE national conference calls each year
      1. Facilitated by the national LC2C team, with
      2. Pastors from participating cities invited to call-in (currently 17 cities)
      3. Focusing on learning from others on the same journey
      4. Including questions and response, and
      5. Information about LC2C national meetings, national and regional City Impact Roundtable gatherings
  2. Resourcing - LC2C will produce tools (see Leading the P-C-S Vision in Our Congregation) and point to resources that help pastors and leaders equip believers to:
    1. Pray with biblical foundation for lost persons in their life-network
    2. Care with love and justice for the people, places and things that are needful in their community
    3. Share the good news of Jesus lovingly, appropriately and compellingly as the Holy Spirit gives opportunity
  3. Learning - LC2C is building a national learning community in which every participating pastor is welcome to participate as both a learner and a contributor

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Charleston Pastor Interviewed @ CCDA Gathering

  1. Interview Pastor Watts
    2 min 12 sec -

===>Click headline to access Jarvis Ward's video interview with Pastor Matthew Watts

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CARE ~ Beyond Typical Thanksgiving Handouts

Outreach Idea: Thanksgiving... it's more than turkey and dressing

By David Wheeler

As we approach Thanksgiving, I have to wonder what would happen if those of us who are greatly blessed with health and resources caught the spirit of the woman in scripture who willingly gave all she had because she radically loved her Lord. Her generosity and spirit prompted Christ to remark, “I assure you . . . this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

So ... you might be wondering, “what can I do to demonstrate the love of Christ?” Here are a few suggestions for this Thanksgiving:

  • Purchase gift certificates from a local grocery chain which entitles the recipient to a free Thanksgiving meal. Hand deliver the certificates to local needy families expressing that in a season of thankfulness, Christ is everything!
  • Adopt women from a local battered women’s shelter and provide them with a safe haven to experience Christ’s love.
  • While some churches may provide volunteers to serve at homeless shelters, one church leader told me how their church actually picked up the homeless from the local shelter and brought them back to their church with the aim of feeding, serving, loving, and affirming their worth to God.
  • A person can do the same by adopting college students, neighbors, and co-workers who have no place to go for Thanksgiving. This is a great way to teach your children the importance of serving others. This was always a regular practice of my parents. The deep impressions of love and giving still remain in my life.
  • Consider providing meals or at least deserts for the local police or fire stations, emergency room staff, or public utility staff that work through the holiday.
  • Is your town located near a high-traffic interstate? Provide comfort and assitance to the many holiday travelers by setting up hospitality tents at highway rest stops with a large supply of coffee and donuts.
  • Go to hospital waiting rooms loaded with sweets and goodies. Be ready to listen, love, and share!
  • Finally, disperse your congregation into Wal-Mart parking lots and malls across your area early (at least an hour before the stores open) on the morning after Thanksgiving. Provide them with plentiful supplies of donuts, coffee, and hot chocolate to give to those waiting in line to get into the stores.

In each of the above suggestions, be ready to respond with the gospel as the Holy Spirit opens the doors. As one friend reminded me, “it’s never Thanksgiving . . . until it first becomes Thanksliving in us!”

Daivd Wheeler is a church planting national missionary and professor at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virgina.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

SHARE ~ Jesus Is Not Your Personal Savior

Christianity Beyond Belief

Following Jesus for the Sake of Others

Todd D. Hunter

InterVarsity Press, 2009, 199 pp., ISBN 978-0-8308-3315-3

To order this book click here.

Todd Hunter is an adjunct professor, a church planter, and the former national director at Vineyard Churches USA and then Alpha USA. His website This book calls us to become the people God has called us to be and to reframe how we describe and explain salvation and discipleship. "Becoming a Christian is much like adopting a new life story." (41)

The Christian life is described by four phrases:

Cooperative friends of Jesus

Living in creative goodness

For the sake of others

Through the power of the Holy Spirit

Part One. A New Understanding of What It Means to Be a Christian

1. What if you knew you were going to live tomorrow?

Christianity is a certain kind of life--eternal life. It is living in alliance with the gospel Jesus announced. It is a journey, shaped by God's life. (23-4) "God really wants us to become his cooperative friends and co-laborers--working with God in the routines of our new life." Forgiveness is the starting line. (27) "The goal is spiritual transformation into Christlikeness." (31)

2. Jesus' Surprising Gospel

"The gospel is about God's unfailing plan for humanity===>Click headline to access complete artcile . . .

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