Thursday, February 26, 2009

SHARE ~ Atheist Penn (of Penn & Teller) on Why We Must Share the Gospel

Penn, of Penn & Teller, an atheist, tells how he feels when we share our's not what you think!

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

SHARE ~ The Outreach Interview: "If every church worked together"

January / February 2009
Volume 8, Number 1

Craig Groeschel
The Outreach Interview
by Lindy Lowry

"The vision is not to change the world alone; it's to unite the body of Christ to be the body of Christ."

Q: How are you practicing that kingdom-mindedness on a grassroots level? What are you doing to develop relationships with local churches?

A: A few years ago, I promoted 10 nearby churches in the worship service. We wanted to make a statement in our city that we were about the kingdom and not about our church.

Also, a lot of people were coming to our services but really weren't engaged in the ministry. So we believed that if we could help those people find churches where they could use their gifts, then we could free up seats for the new people. We had about 500 people take us up on it.

As scary as that sounds for a church, it was a huge win. The people who left were very grateful we recommended the other churches; those churches felt honored that we believed in them; and we were able to assimilate new believers or people who were really excited about our vision. It helped propel us forward faster.

So every year in December, we just say to our whole church, "If any of you here really don't feel like you're able to use your gifts to make a kingdom difference, or you don't feel like you're growing spiritually anymore, we encourage you to go and find another Bible-teaching church where those things can happen for you."

Q: For a lot of churches, that would be an intimidating proposition. Is it easier to do that when your church is 20,000 strong?

A: Maybe, but I really believe that when a church, regardless of its size, is more about itself than the kingdom, it becomes needy and desperate. A church that is confident and assured in God's calling for it will actually not be afraid to lose people and at the same time, most likely reach more people.

One of the best things we can do as leaders is to create a healthy environment that enables people to leave at the right times and on good terms. It keeps the whole body of Christ healthier.

Q: Besides promoting local churches, how else is developing a rapport with area churches?

A: We have tremendous relationships with churches nearby, and it's the greatest thing ever! For example, a month ago, a guy from a church five miles away from us preached for me, and people just couldn't believe that because obviously we had people visit his church afterward. But we consider that a great blessing. He ministered to our people, and he has a six-year-old church plant we can send people to.

We also have agreed to not do a local mission experience without bringing along another local church. We're inviting others to go serve the city with us, and the benefit of those relationships is just huge! All of this has created a culture in our city that results in more kingdom partnerships than kingdom competition.

Q: Craig, what do you believe would happen if every church in this country worked together locally and nationally in similar ways?

A: I think the lofty vision would be that we could take the message of Jesus around the world. I think we could end starvation and tend to all the treatable diseases. It's that big.
On a much smaller scale, just in our cities, I think people who are not believers would look on and say, "Well, we may not understand what they believe, but we see them working together instead of fighting." By sharing resources and the sheer witness of standing together instead of always being so divided, we could reach more people.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Culture Change. Is the Church Thinking/Acting Like GM?

December 15, 2008
GM and me
GM and ME
by Alex Taylor III
p. 92

It was the great American Company when I started covering it three decades ago. But by clinging to the attributes that made it an icon, General Motors drove itself to ruin. working for the largest company in the industry for so long, they became comfortable, insular, self-referential, and too wedded to the status quo--traits that persist even now, when GM is on the precipice. They believe that tomorrow will be better than today--despite four decades of evidence to the contrary. In many ways the story of General Motors since the 1960s is a tale of accelerating irrelevance. Customer preferences changed, competition tightened, technology made big leaps, and GM was always driving a lap behind.
Over the years the company has tried to reform itself any number of times, but it has been doomed by what once made it successful: doing it the GM way.
As a candid internal review of the company, published by the General Motors History Project, points out, GM was still making decisions under the same basic structure that had been put in place 50 years earlier, and it was falling behind. Chairman and CEO Roger Smith, having risen through the ranks ... was a big thinker, and he understood that GM had become too complex and slow moving for its own good.
He was full of innovative ideas for upending the status quo at GM--but some were badly thought out, and others were badly implemented. Smith rearranged North American operations to modernize GM's manufacturing, and paralyzed the company for 18 months because he destroyed the informal networks that actually got the work done in the highly bureaucratized company. The notorious "reorg" so traumatized future CEOs that they never again attempted anything so radical.
You have to wonder whether the insular, self-absorbed culture that still dominates GM is up to the job of restructuring the company quickly enough to make it profitable and competitive again. What is going to make it different this time?

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Friday, February 20, 2009

SHARE ~ McLaren: "Count Conversations, Rather Than Coversions"

OM What does the salvation experience look like at your church in Maryland?

BM Very, very rarely does someone have the date-and-time experience of conversion. Typically, a person comes to us because they’re spiritually searching. They participate in our services, they get to know some people, build relationships, join a small group or maybe even start volunteering. And at some point, they connect with God. The Gospel makes sense to them. They know that God loves them, and they just say, “I’m in.”

If you ask those people, “When did you become a Christian?” they probably can’t tell you because they don’t think in those terms. We aren’t creating a “you’re in, you’re out” mentality at our church. Our message is: The Kingdom of God is available to everybody, and now the ball is in your court.

OM In your books, you’ve talked about the problems that result when we think of salvation as an end point.

BM Yes, the Church has taken what is intended to be a starting line and turned it into a finish line. The gun goes off, people jump across the line. Then they stop and start jumping up and down and celebrating, “I crossed the line, I crossed the line!” Well, yes, but they’ve only crossed the starting line. We’ve got to help people look at following Christ as a life-long journey. It’s great to cross the starting line on that journey, but salvation is about a whole life.

OM If you could say one thing about evangelism to every pastor in America, what would it be?

BM I’m going to say two things. First, we as church leaders have to encourage people to count conversations rather than conversions. If we focus on counting conversions, we’ll tend to pressure people into making a decision before they’re ready. Instead, if we encourage people to say that conversations count, then relationships develop. Then when people do make a decision, they’ve counted the cost. They have really been able to appraise the magnitude of the decision that they’re making.

Second, we need to encourage people to spend less time at church activities. Make friends with their neighbors. Get involved in the community. Have fun and meet people in the course of human interests—in other words, get a life. Ultimately, I think the Gospel will be spread through people who can observe it being lived out in the life of a Christian. People have to know we accept them and that we’re interested in being around them. They have to see that we’re not using them for target practice.===>Click headline to access complete interview . . .

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

CARE ~ Social action without prayer and conversion ... powerless

Father John Bettuolucci alludes to the distinction between social work and religious work when he writes:

Social action without prayer and conversion to the Lord lacks power and the ability to produce long-lasting change in the socio-economic conditions of the poor. Likewise prayer and evangelism without social action leads to pietistic withdrawal from the realities of the human condition and an escape from social problems rather than a confrontation and challenge to change.

(From video documentary Viva Christo Rey (Dallas: Catholic Charismatic Service of Dallas, 1981)

Finding Calcutta
What Mother Teresa Taught Me About Meaningful Work and Service
by Mary Poplin, InterVarsity Press 2008

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PRAYER ~Are Kids Praying for Their Neighborhood?


Praying for My Neighborhood

by Arlyn Lawrence

When God works in a community, He doesn't just use adults. He uses the prayers of kids! Sold in packs of 20 cards.
Here's what one customer shared about them:
Wonderful cards! These cards are not just for children. Although the pictures are designed with children in mind, these prayers are excellent for us as adults to pray for those God has put us near in our neighborhoods.
Below is an excerpt from the Praying for My Neighborhood kids' prayer card:
Kids, here are some prayers that you can pray to invite God to work in your neighborhood!
Families. Dear God, may the families in my neighborhood enjoy peace in their homes. Help parents to treat each other and their children with love. Help children to respect their parents and be thoughtful of their brothers and sisters. Help families who are separated from each other to feel complete in You. (Philippians 4:7; Ephesians 5:33, 6:1-3; Psalm 68:5)
Relationships. Help my friends and neighbors to be the kind of friend that You are, Jesus: patient, kind, forgiving, and thinking of others first. If any are lonely, help them to find new friends. If any are angry with each other, help them to forgive. Give them strength to resist Satan’s attempts to make them argue with each other. (Col. 3:12-13; 2 Cor. 2:10-11)
Environment. Lord, help me and my neighbors to keep our neighborhood clean and beautiful so that everybody can enjoy it. Help us to recognize that the earth and everything in it are Yours and to...

Click here to place an order or preview the whole card.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Citywide Transformation Indicators

>>>Found this on the National Day of Prayer website . . .

Key Indicators of a Transformed City

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

SHARE ~ A Sermon on What Should be Our Driving Force

Preaching Today Sermons

In What's Driving You?, Steve May says our driving force and life purpose should be to help others experience the fullness of God by sharing with them our faith, hope, and love.

May, Steve - What�s Driving You?

Improve your own sermons by reviewing some of the best from the Preaching Today collection. The information below provides a brief synopsis of what you can expect from the downloadable transcript.

Download the transcript as a Word file to receive access to the full outline and complete sermon.

What's Driving You?
by Steve May
Text: Colossians 2:1-5
Topic: What's the driving force in your life?
Big Idea: Like Paul, our driving force and life purpose can be to help others experience the fullness of God by sharing with them our hope, love, and faith.
Keywords: Encouragement; Love; Christ, Love of; Community; Unity

  • The people who accomplish the most in their chosen field are rarely motivated by money.
    -Illustration: TV host, Jay Leno makes $15 million a year hosting The Tonight Show, but his driving force is making people laugh.
    -Illustration: Football legend Walter Payton maintained a rigorous summer training regiment because his passion was for being the best he could be.
  • What is the driving force in your life?
    -Illustration: Christian writer and pastor, Rick Warren, wrote The Purpose Driven Life and could retire on the proceeds, but has chosen to expand his ministry.
    Transition: We can emulate Paul's three driving purposes in our own relationships.===>Click headline to access original site . . .

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