Tuesday, March 27, 2007

SHARE ~"Groundbreaking" Outreach

Canadian churches share how they unite to show kindness

By Lavinia Ngatoko in Challenge Weekly, New Zealand, Special to ASSIST News Service

AUCKLAND, NZ (ANS) -- A member of a Canadian evangelical group says efforts by New Zealand churches to find groundbreaking ways to reach out to their communities has in some ways put them ahead of churches in his own country.

DAVID MACFARLANE: "We wanted to increase the profile of the local church and we wanted their neighbours to say 'if this is Christianity, then I want to be a part of it'.

David Macfarlane made the comment while visiting a number of churches to talk about Celebration - a nationwide outreach initiative that has taken off in Canada since it was launched in 2005.

Mr Macfarlane, director of national initiatives with the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, came at his own expense after he was invited by Vision Network NZ.

He met ministers and church leaders in Christchurch, Wellington, Auckland, Rotorua and Tauranga to discuss the idea of Celebration being launched in New Zealand.

He was impressed to find how involved our churches are already in looking at different ways to connect with their communities.

"I was encouraged ... you are obviously further ahead then we are on this concept," he said. "In a way, spiritually you are further ahead than we are, too. This is more of a new concept in Canada."

But NZ churches now have the chance, if they decide to try out the Canadian initiative, to do something they have rarely done before - go into their communities to do acts of kindness, and all at the same time.

Mr Macfarlane said that since Celebration started in Canada, more and more churches were beginning to get involved in outreach activities, many of which had long-lasting effects.

The idea for the event, which runs over about three weekends, is to get Canadian church people out of their pews and serving their neighbours.

"We wanted to increase the profile of the local church and we wanted their neighbours to say 'if this is Christianity, then I want to be a part of it'."

Mr Macfarlane says the stories from various churches around Canada which have participated in Celebration are encouraging.

One church, which sent in teams to do odd jobs such as mowing lawns, changing light bulbs, cleaning drains and other simple tasks in a low-cost housing project of 58 units over four weekends, has become an integral part of that community.

They found a woman whose husband was dying of multiple sclerosis and when they asked if they could pray for him they let the church members in. They noticed the couple had children and had no washing machine or drier.

"Neither of them worked so the church went back and bought a second-hand washer and drier and installed it.

"If our people had just gone the one time it would have been okay, sure, but they kept going back to help and as a consequence it opened up the community to the church."

Church members now run home groups for the residents and have begun providing transportation for their children to attend various programmes. They cancelled their usual Christmas cantata last year to sing carols for the project's residents instead.

"The pastor told me that his church, which had plateaued until that moment, had a new energy - his people felt like they were doing something for the community and that God was using them."

Mr Macfarlane emphasised that one thing they were also sure to do was to ask the local leaders first what they needed.

Churches in Winnipeg, known as the "murder capital of Canada" and with huge gang problems, went to the police to see how they could help. They were asked to help to clean up graffiti.

"The churches mobilised 1000 Christians over about four weeks and they cleaned up all the graffiti. I'm talking bridges and underpasses, not just little areas - it was huge. The mayor went on TV to thank the evangelical

Christians for putting their faith into action."

Celebration 2007 will be timed to kick off on the Global Day of Prayer on Pentecost Sunday, May 27.

Glynn Carpenter, executive director of Vision Network NZ, said he had received a positive response from churches around the country so far and that Vision Network was continuing to gather feedback.

Mr Carpenter said the scheme might start this year, even if there were only a small number of churches to start with. The website is www.celebration2007.ca


Lavinia Ngatoko reports for Challenge Weekly, New Zealand's independent and non-denominational Christian newspaper

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Coaching ~ Anyone Listening?

Developing Life-Changing Listening Skills

By Tony Stoltzfus

Have you ever had a conversation where half-way through you realized the other person wasn�t really listening? Sometimes we get the feeling that others are smiling and nodding while we are talking, but their minds are on something else entirely.

But now let�s turn the tables: if you feel that way sometimes when talking to others, it is likely that they sometimes feel the same lack of listening when they are talking to you! How do you become aware of it when you aren�t listening well? Here are four warning signs, along with common reasons for why each one might be happening:

  • We interrupt a lot. We think our thoughts are more right or more important than the other person�s.
  • We are distracted by the environment. This often happens in groups: while we are listening to one person, the other half of our attention is focused on scanning the room or looking for the person we really want to talk to.
  • There are no pauses in the conversation. Instead of fully tuning into the other person, we are using the time they are speaking to frame our reply. So as soon as they�re finished speaking, we�re ready to jump in.
  • We give advice. We�ve diagnosed the problem, looked at options and solved it inside our head while the other person is talking, and now we�re ready to dispense a solution.

The common element in all these warning signs is...

Read the full article...


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Friday, March 16, 2007

CARE ~ No-Threat Ministry to Familes



The Family & Marriage Treasure Cards Ministry is available to churches to help them reach out to their communities in the caring love of Jesus Christ to help families, couples and kids. It is personalized for your church and can help your church grow with new Christians.

The Family & Marriage Treasure Cards Ministry is part of a Family Communication Initiative aimed at reducing divorce, family dissolution and all of the horrible crimes that result.

The Family & Marriage Treasure Cards Ministry is relationship outreach using servant evangelism. It is a great addition to the discipleship of your church members because it requires easy love for friends, neighbors and relatives on a weekly basis of about 5 minutes.

The Family & Marriage Treasure Cards Ministry requires no church space and can easily be managed by a volunteer who cares about both families and evangelism. It is designed for the inexpensive cost to be borne by members, not necessarily the church budget.

You can read all about this resource at faith4real.com/SaveTheFamily.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Coaching ~ Collaboration: More than Will; Skill

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The Limits of Good Intentions
and the Confidence Born of Skill

Crossing the Will/Skill divide may be crucial
to the success of your partnership

By Dave Hackett, Associate Director, visionSynergy

Doing mission in partnership is the faithful way to go, most people agree. It's good witness for Christians to work together. We gain the benefits of greater numbers and resources in tackling the faith-sized mission and ministry we have on our hearts. And there's the practical dimension: We avoid duplicating efforts where our ministry initiatives overlap significantly with other ministries.

The Will/Skill Divide
Many leaders appear to believe that creating a successful partnership is mainly an act of the will, of "getting around to it." Oh that it were so! Efforts built on an abundance of good intentions and good will, however, have floundered just as routinely as those without. This begs the deeper questions: Can we accomplish enduring collaboration by running on good intentions? Or are there perhaps identifiable partnership skills necessary to become proficient in – key principles to observe if groups are to work together successfully?

Doing partnership takes "will," certainly. Without the conviction that we can do more together than we can do separately, any attempt to work together may be flawed from the start. The heart has to be in it.

But the heart has its limits. Good intentions start the journey but they lack power to actually reach the goal. People don't know what they don't know - and lacking that crucial information, it can be all too often a case of the blind leading the blind.

The Skills of Collaboration
That's where networking skills enter the scene. Networking and partnership specialists have observed the same cycle over and over again - eager and willing organizations launching hopefully into collaborative ventures, only to bump headlong into predictable but unseen obstacles that trip up their effort. When failure comes, relationships are strained (sometimes never to recover), and collaboration is written off as impractical in the real world. For the participants, it's back to their separate ways.

This pattern is tragic, not least of all because it is preventable. Networking skills are not quite like brain surgery, but like brain surgery, we don't want someone operating on us who doesn't have high-level, practiced skills. We want someone who has learned under great mentors and teachers. So it is with the delicate work of drawing together distinct organizations into a collaborative effort. Why do we think networking can be approached without learning from experienced practitioners in the field?

Partnership, in short, takes will – and skill. The will to persevere forward into the good land of stronger, broader ministry gained only by working together; the skills of successful collaboration to move groups of organizations past the many challenging roadblocks and barriers.

Navigating the Shoals with a Steady, Trained Hand
Like a trained captain who knows the boat and the sea, gaining the skills of collaboration help emerging networks and partnerships navigate the dangerous shoals by...

  • Creating a level field for participation among ministries that vary in size, tradition, and approach yet share core convictions.
  • Dealing with strong egos and ministries that tend to dominate or propose that others simply follow their lead.
  • Preserving the sovereignty of each ministry while discovering new ways to work together.
  • Countering the tendency to set unachievable objectives that break momentum and create a downward spiral.
  • And dealing with a raft of other typically encountered problems.

Author Eric Hoffer writes eloquently about the hazards of substituting enthusiasm for "the self confidence born of experience and the possession of skill." He observes,

There is close connection between lack of confidence and a passionate state of mind, and, as we shall see, passionate intensity may serve as a substitute for confidence. The connection can be observed in all walks of life. A working man, sure of his skill, goes leisurely about his job and accomplishes much, though he works as if at play. On the other hand, the working man new to his trade attacks his work as if he were saving the world, and he must do so if he is to get anything done at all. The same is true of the soldier. A well trained soldier will fight well even when not stirred by strong feeling. His morale is good, because his thorough training gives him a sense of confidence. But the untrained soldier will give a good account of himself only when animated by faith and enthusiasm. Cromwell used to say that common folk needed the “fear of God before them” to match the soldierly cavaliers. Faith, enthusiasm, and passionate intensity in general are substitutes for the self confidence born of experience and the possession of skill. Where there is the necessary skill to move mountains, there is no need for the faith to move mountains. ("The Ordeal of Change," Perennial Library, 1967)

Gaining the Skills of Collaboration
Where can one gain these requisite skills in partnership building and collaboration? The field of collaboration in the Christian ministry context is not well-plumbed. But substantial resources exist to help those who want to grow in their collaborative skills. Among the available resources that visionSynergy provides are these that can serve as first places to turn to for gaining collaboration skills:

Online Resources

  • The Networking Movement Resource Site www.PowerofConnecting.net. The PowerofConnecting Web Site has a reservoir of articles, case studies and principles to help the reader gain the skills of collaboration
  • The Partnership eNewsletter, free, monthly email delivering news, commentary and links about partnership and Kingdom collaboration. Subscribe to this eNewsletter at the www.PowerofConnecting.net Web Site.

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Coaching ~ Across Cultures

How to Serve Across Cultures
an interview with Dr. Duane Elmer author of Cross-Cultural Servanthood (InterVarsity Press, 2006)
OPENNESS
Openness with people different from yourself requires that you are willing to step out of your comfort zone to initiate and sustain relationships in a world of cultural differences.
ACCEPTANCE
Before you can communicate acceptance, people must expect your openness--your ability to welcome them into your presence.
TRUST
To build trust, others must know that you accept and value them as people.
LEARNING
You can't learn important information from someone until there is trust in the relationship.
UNDERSTANDING
You can't understand others until you have learned about, from, and with them.
SERVING
You can't serve someone you do not understand.


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Coaching ~ Listen & Ask the Right Questions

ACT 3

John H. Armstrong


===>Click headline to access complete article . . .

Listening . . .

The old saying is true: "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." So good preaching can be done but good listening can still fail. The preacher must prepare and experience the force and power of truth. But the hearer must also learn to listen for the Spirit's prompting and leading. I suggest these actions will help those who listen to preaching:

1. Ask "why" questions, not just "what" questions. As you listen to the text being read listen-do not simply follow words. In fact, I suggest you listen without following in a Bible so that you develop this skill. As the sermon unfolds, ask "why" did Jesus say this, or "why" did Paul urge this action or response? You need to know the meaning of a text in order to see its significance.

2. Plan to respond to whatever it is that God reveals to you in a sermon. Pray often, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." Take an action step and follow it up when you come to the end of a biblical sermon.

3. Make listening to the sermon an act of worship, not simply a classroom experience. Receive the Word with a spirit of gratitude, for it is God who is speaking to you. Be reminded of God's grace and his mercy toward you in Jesus Christ. Remove whatever distractions keep you from listening carefully.

4. Prepare before the sermon to listen to what God may say to you. Start your day with prayer to this end and ask God for the Spirit of revelation when you enter into a service of divine worship. Humble yourself and seek God's glory in your hearing.


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SHARE ~ Two-Sided Witnessing Bookmark

===>Click headline to access accompanying sermon by Pastor Bruce Schoeman . . .

Side One

    My Story

    1. Get Permission

    “What’s the greatest thing that’s happened in your life?” “May I share the greatest thing that’s

    happened in my life?”

    2. B.C. (Before Christ)

    Write a sentence or two using three adjectives that describe what you were experiencing before you met Christ. Example: Though I was very busy, I felt empty and without purpose. I had a lot of friends, but deep down I still felt lonely.

    3. T. P. (Turning Point)

    What took place in your life that made you think a spiritual change of direction was needed?

    Example: A difficult college course, not knowing what to do when I graduated and wondering what to do for a life’s mate brought me to the end of myself, and I asked God to help me.

    4. A.D. (Anno Domini... in the year of the Lord) Write the adjectives that describe the change Christ made in your life.

    Example: I felt “peace within” rather than guilt for my past. I had a confidence that I was where I was supposed to be. I started the most

    meaningful relationship I’d ever known.

    5. If I Had Not Met Christ…

    Finish the sentence. Imagine what your life and family would look like had you never made Jesus Christ your personal Savior.

    Example: I’m not sure I would be alive today due to an unhealthy lifestyle and choices I was making.

Side One

    God’s Story

    1. God Loves You

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

    2. Our Problem: Sin

    “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

    (Romans 3:23) Our choices result in separation from God. “But your iniquities have separated you from your God…” (Isaiah 59:2)

    3. God’s Bridge is the Cross

    “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

    “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5) God has provided the only way. Each person must make a choice.

    4. Our Response: Receive Christ.

    We must trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and

    receive Him by personal invitation. Jesus said “... if you confess with your mouth. “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

    5. Can You Think of A Better Time to Receive Christ than right now? Admit I’m a sinner, turn from my sin, believe Jesus died for me on the cross and rose from the grave. Through prayer, invite Christ to come in and control my life through the Holy Spirit. Receive Him as Lord and Savior. If you prayed to receive Christ, the Bible says, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5: 12-13)


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SHARE ~ Internet Evangelism

Internet Evangelism Day April 29th

"Does your church's website communicate to outsiders as well as to
the members?" asks a new web resource. A church site is the
congregation's 'shop window' to its community. To fulfill this
function well, it must be enticing, people-centered and easily
understood by outsiders. Unfortunately, many churches are unsure how
to achieve this vital mix.

The Internet Evangelism Day team has produced an online self-
assessment tool. It leads a church through a series of questions, to
highlight areas of their website which may need development:
InternetEvangelismDay.com/design.

This questionnaire can also be easily added to other webpages using
an insertion code.

A church site which has been prioritized for non-Christian visitors
can be remarkably effective in reaching the community. "Week in, week
out, more visitors turn up at our church on a Sunday because of the
website, than anything else," writes one growing church in London.

The Internet Evangelism Day ('IE Day') site also explains other types
of online evangelism, such as outreach websites, video clips,
blogging and podcasts. There is even a free 'conversation starter'
screen-saver to download.

Holding a focus day
The IE Day team also encourages churches and other groups to hold
their own 'web awareness' focus day on (or near) 29 April 2007. The
IE Day site provides downloadable video clips, drama sketches,
posters, handouts and a PowerPoint presentation, making it easy for
any church to create its own IE Day program. This can as brief as a 2-
minute spot within a worship time, or an entire themed church
service, seminar, or midweek meeting.

Churches that have already held their own focus day are
enthusiastic. "It was a real eye-opener for many," writes one in
Muncie, Indiana. "We held a midweek evening presentation of 90
minutes, for other local churches," says another from Dawlish UK.

"I used a 10-minute presentation that focused on how anyone can get
involved in reaching out to the Internet community<" Canadian Church
Leader John Scott said. I" also added a section on using our church
website as an evangelism tool, as some of our members have already
had great success with it."

Internet Evangelism Day is an initiative of the Internet Evangelism
Coalition, an umbrella group of major interdenominational Christian
groups involved in Web ministry===>Click headline to access site . . .

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

SHARE ~ Redefining Evangelism

Evangelism [Re]defined

With more than 4 million people having heard the gospel message at one of his festivals or crusades since 1999, Luis Palau seems well suited to speak on the topic of evangelism. Born and raised in Argentina, he has taken his mix of music, messages and family-friendly fun all over the world.

Now, Palau has written a book on evangelism with co-author Timothy Robnett in Telling the Story. The book is a primer on understanding both the ministry of evangelism and the role of evangelist. It is geared for those trying to obtain a biblical grasp on the topic for the 21st century. Ultimately, Palau says it needs to start by defining both the interior and exterior calling and moving forward from the local church.

Recently, Palau made some time to answer questions on his motivations for writing the book and how the church can return to its evangelistic roots.

Ministry Today: Your new book, Telling the Story, attempts to redefine evangelism for a new generation. What do you think is the primary misunderstanding about evangelism today?

PALAU: Our definition of evangelism has always been a biblical one. It centers on the person and work of Jesus Christ�He is the good news. It's a message of hope about a relationship that connects people with a saving God who has done for them what they can't do for themselves. A true evangelist preaches Jesus Christ.

It's common today to focus on good deeds�to believe that helping the poor or healing the sick is the gospel, when those deeds are really a result of the gospel. Prayer, though vitally important, is also not evangelism. Paul described the message of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15: Christ died for our sins, was buried and was raised on the third day. That is the evangelist's singular message.

Ministry Today: You spend significant time defining the interior life of the evangelist, as opposed to other books that specifically focus on the exterior workings. Is there not enough emphasis on that interior life?

PALAU: Absolutely! It's a major reason this book was written. The integrity and holiness of the evangelist is vital to the proclamation of the message. Recent history demonstrates that a believer�even one in a position of leadership and trust�can fall to temptation.

A successful evangelistic ministry begins with our personal lives as evangelists. We must have a transparent conscience with no unresolved conflicts or skeletons in the closet. Truthfulness has to be at the heart of our words and our writings. We must train ourselves to always give all the glory to God.

Ministry Today: How do you see evangelistic methods changing in the next decade or so of ministry?

PALAU: The methods should always be adapted to the culture and the times. We don't know what the future holds, but we believe that biblical evangelists in those times will discover ways of making the good news clear.

Just a few years ago, the concept of our festivals�rock bands, skateboarders, flying motorcycles�would have been too wild for most of us to grasp. Still, when I share the gospel now at these events, it's just me and a microphone and my Bible. The key is always going to be the messengers and the message�not the methods.

Ministry Today: In your book you seek to redefine roles for the evangelist to fit within the 21st-century church or ministry organization. Do you think the church still holds to outdated models?

PALAU: Models and roles will change. Churches at any given point in history are at various stages of growth as well as using various methods of ministry. Evangelists are Christ's gift�typically they are the ones who bring new roles, titles and methods of evangelism to the church.

When we bring a festival to a city, our first step is to reach out to the church community. Two of our festival-driven projects, friendship- evangelism training and counselor training, are designed to bring new information and, hopefully, new enthusiasm for evangelism to congregations of many denominations.

Ministry Today: What are the biggest dangers ahead for the church regarding the work of evangelism?

PALAU: I see three major dangers always facing the church when proclaiming the good news. The first danger is the idea that evangelism is left only to called evangelists. Every member of the body of Christ is called to be an active witness of the good news.

The second danger is that the church will fail to acknowledge the importance of evangelists and evangelism. When that happens, a ministry is created that focuses on methods and programs rather than equipping the congregation to pursue the Great Commission one evangelist at a time.

The third danger is that evangelism will be tied only to certain methodologies that may become outdated. When the methods become outdated, there's the danger that evangelism itself may be perceived in that way.

Ministry Today: So, are churches imbalanced in their approach to evangelism?

PALAU: The issue is not balance but fruitfulness and faithfulness. Some of the most evangelistic churches we encounter around the country are those that might seem imbalanced at first glance, but if the emphasis is on outreach, those churches almost always are flourishing.

Ministry Today: How does the church stay balanced?

PALAU: God has given evangelists to the church to prepare them for the work of evangelism. Congregations and their leaders must empower those people in positions of leadership. The call to join in winning the lost to Christ must come from the pulpit and from the church's lay leaders.

-- Matt Conner


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Monday, March 05, 2007

Changing The Culture ~ Decoding Your Unique Culture

How to Decode Your Church's Unique Culture

Written by Brett Selby

The culture of an organization is its “corporate personality,” a living blend of values, traditions, norms, assumptions, and experiences that produce a nebulous code of behavior often referred to as “the unwritten rules.”

Every church has "unwritten rules" and a unique church culture. If you don't know the "unwritten rules" and if you do not know your church's unique culture, you may be headed for conflict, stress, and possible termination.

The culture of an organization is its “corporate personality,” a living blend of values, traditions, norms, assumptions, and experiences that produce a nebulous code of behavior often referred to as “the unwritten rules.”

A church’s real values and culture are found in how time and budget are spent and how people are treated and rewarded. A church’s expressed values are frequently very different from its real values. Often a leader’s mistake in assessing church culture is in doing more listening than observing. Andrew Carnegie once said, “As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.”

Assessing the culture of an organization can be somewhat akin to nailing Jell-O to the wall. It is a “soft” skill in the sense that empirical data does not tell the whole story. Nevertheless a leader’s potential is profoundly impacted by their grasp of this “tribal knowledge.”

To take a quick assessment of your church’s culture download the Church Culture Assessment (4-page PDF 73 kb)

Even though as a leader I may choose not to deal with reality, reality has a way of eventually coming to deal with me. As a leader, you must develop the soft skill of understanding your church’s culture. If you don’t, some hard facts may someday come knocking at your door.



Brett Selby is the Leadership Development Specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He lives in Yukon, Oklahoma with his family.



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Sunday, March 04, 2007

SHARE ~ Four "IN"teresting Steps

Evangelism Is Relationships
Overflow God's John 3:16 love from your life to those in your relational sphere of influence!
1. Intercede: When our hearts are filled with God's love for others, we want to learn how to intercede for those who do not yet know Christ.
2. Invest: the result of connecting with God's heart is a desire to invest in a relationship with people who do not yet know Jesus as Savior.
3. Intersect: Apply intersecting truths you learn from Jesus to the lives of those in your relational sphere of influence.
4. Invite: Practice and begin to master sharing the gospel clearly.
Every participant receives Cadre's John 3:16 Factor Living Guide for 25 days of ongoing study into overflowing God's love. Contact rennie@cadreministries.com for information on their training workshop.

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