Saturday, September 29, 2007

Christmas: a time for outreach

Do you think much about Christmas and outreaching?

Christmas is a great time to touch base in many different ways with the community, current members and people who are on the fringe of the congregation. However one thing is certain is that if we are to use this opportunity to bring God's good news into people's lives for the long term, we need to be intentional and authentic. Christmas outreach takes time and planning this is why i have posted this now.

Recently i was having coffee with another pastor who indicated that this year his congregations are going to reduce the number of traditional Christmas carols in their Christmas services (or at least try to play them in a contemporary style), simply because people who visit the congregation once or twice a year (like Christmas, Easter and funerals) get the wrong idea of what church is like. Think about it, if you only visited a church at Christmas and heard only traditional Christmas carols, then your impression of church is that it plays that classical music all the time. (if your congregation does play traditional classical music only then this is of course is not an issue but this is not the case with his congregations). This also lead us thinking to how can outreach be authentic and reflect who the congregation is or is intending to be as we celebrated and share the Christmas message...

Following are some ideas and suggestions, many have been tried and tested:
Christmas Outreach

12 mistakes of Christmas Outreach
Mistake # 1 --Not planning for something great.
Mistake # 2 --Doing little or nothing during Christmas.
Mistake # 3 --Planning without a plan..
Mistake # 4 --Breaking the Law of Large Numbers.
Mistake # 5 --Trying to do too much.
Mistake # 6 --Sending a Christmas message.
Mistake # 7 --Always trying something new.
Mistake # 8 --Doing Outreach instead of Withreach.
Mistake # 9 --Not making Christmas children-centered enough.
Mistake #10 -Communicating a heart-less message.
Mistake #11 -Choosing costly options.
Mistake #12 -Not connecting Christmas with Easter.

Christmas Pantomime....this is ideal for small unpredictable attending congregations. It is a way of having a nativity play and to tell the Christmas story involving the entire congregation and with a bit of fun. Last year we incorporated it throughout the worship service. For a copy please email me at

Why not have a float in the town Christmas Parade...last year one family joined us and many others received a seed of the good news as a result of us simply having a float in the Christmas Parade...Now often there is a temptation for people to join with other churches and have one big float (good idea if you want people to know all the churches are united and nothing else)...but think about this..... how does Jo Blow find 'Churches of whatevertown' which is usually the banner churches go in the parade under...wouldn't it be better for the churches to have a number of floats in the Christmas parade and therefore reinforce the message at various parts throughout the parade, and also help people see the Christmas message from a number of perspectives.

Christmas tree decorating contest/display....or nativity scene display. There are many different variations of this but it is one way to reach people who are interested in the frills of Christmas and help them connect the frills of Christmas with the message of Christmas.

Lutheran Church of Australia Christmas resources, especially dramas...

Elca Delaware and Maryland district evangelism and outreach opportunities for Christmas

elca drama....check out the advent/Christmas drama

Matthias media from Christmas ideas

Online advent devotions will be online on 15 October

A Christmas Bible Study 5 parts powerpoints and notes available free online

Christmas Outreach ideas from The coaching centre

Christmas ideas from Ross Road Community Church

Jingle bells and beyond article from Outreach magazine

People ablaze ideas

Christmas ideas for the sad and lonely

I am sure you have other ideas....please either place them in the comments or email them to me so i can add them to the blog

added Oct 4th
Friendship Advent and Christmas Days

Christmas in cyberspace available at a comprehensive Christian Christmas site with information and links to:Their favorite sites, Christmas History, a Christmas Blog, Advent information, The Nativity Story information, The Magi information, Advent Devotions, Christmas Preaching, Christmas Worship, Music, Christmas Drama, Advent Calendars, Christian Christmas ECards and more

How to make the most of Christmas for evangelism. Some more suggestions can be found at:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Congregation: Lutheran Church of Hope Iowa

This church has a broad range of ministries, and many of these have some clear biblical values based to them

Have a look at the information concerning baptism, there is some helpful information

You can find the Lutheran Church of Hope at

Saturday, September 15, 2007


In Acts 14:21 we discover that a large number of people became disciples of Jesus Christ. This follows one of Jesus commands to go and make disciples of all nations (see Matthew 28:19-20). From their baptism every Christian is called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, someone who follows Jesus and is constantly learning from Him.

As disciples God gives us a number of gifts that help us in our journey as His disciples, help us to learn from Him. Fortunately some Christians use these gifts, unfortunately though some people don't take advantage of them.

To get you started why not look at the following articles:
Membership or discipleship by John F Bradosky
The communal we and the necessary I by Karen Minch-Sadler
Discipling body, heart and mind by Carolyn Mowchan

Following are some resources that may help you (your small group and congregation) in your journey as disciples (for the books please click on the book cover as Amazon offers a range of information and in many cases even the opportunity to glance at the book).

Books written by Michael W Foss
One of the specialists in this area is Michael W Foss, the senior pastor of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Atlanta, Georgia and previously the pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Burnsville Minnesota . Why not have a look at his books on this area:

From Members to Disciples: leadership lessons from the book of Acts
The book of Acts serves as our playbook for ministry as it prepares us for the active presence of God.Studying the book of Arts takes us back to the future. It shows the church how to trust in the active presence of God and inspire people to move from being mere members to bold disciples. As members become disciples of faith, they experience the unstoppable power of disciplined growth and divine purpose in Christian living.

The disciples joy: six practices for spiritual growth
Focusing on the powerful theme of discipleship, The Disciple's Joy explores the joy of faith, helping readers discover joy in the midst of struggle. Foss explores the benefits of practicing discipleship and shows, through recent research, how a practicing faith provides meaning, belonging, and joy. Intended for both personal reflection and small group study, The Disciple's Joy builds on the six-time-tested marks of discipleship and introduces six practices for spiritual growth. Includes questions for reflection and discussion.
Chapters include:

  • God Didn't Make You to Become Anyone Else!
  • The Power of Significance
  • Unleashing Your Passion
  • Growing into Eternity
  • Learning Life's Greatest Lessons
  • Don't Let Anything Get in the Way!
PoWeR SuRGeDrawn from his own experience, Michael W. Foss presents a strong case for transforming congregations from a membership model to a discipleship model of church affiliation. Beginning with a careful analysis of recent patterns in church membership/demographics that argue for this paradigm shift, subsequent chapters detail the unique leadership and organizational needs of a discipleship model, explore the building and maintaining of fundamental trust—in God and in God's people—as the cornerstone of the model, and provide practical help for assessing the present and developing strategies for moving into the future.
Addressed to professional and non-professional church leaders interested in transforming their churches into centers for discipleship and mission, it proposes a grace-centered rather than legalistic model of discipleship, builds a bridge through transferable principles between congregational mission mindedness and the individual Christian's life of faith, and offers practical helps so congregations can make the transition between membership and discipleship paradigms.

Chapters include:

  • Making the move from membership to discipleship
  • Discipleship and spiritual leadership
  • Six Critical Marks of leadership
  • Culture Shock
  • The marks of discipleship
  • Beliefs, values, vision and mission
  • Beyond committees to ministry teams
  • Developing leaders for the church and the world
  • Being what you say you are
Real faith for real life: living the six marks of discipleship
For Christians seeking to apply their faith to everyday life, Real Faith for Real Life invites readers to answer the call of discipleship and provides guidance and examples of how to do so successfully. Michael Foss, author of Power Surge, encourages readers to rely on six time-tested marks of discipleships that encourage the practice of faith in everyday life:
--Daily prayer

--Bible reading
--Weekly worship
--Christian service
--Relationships that encourage spiritual growth
--Giving in the spirit of generosity
Using Bible passages and real-life stories, Foss illustrates how each mark of discipleship enhances and supports the growth of a person's faith journey. This book also includes study questions and journaling suggestions for small group discussion and individual reflection.

A servant's manual: Christian leadership for tomorrow
Chapters include:
What's the point?
De-istitutionalise the institution
Moving from point A to point B
God's future our mission
Leaders as followers
Resourcing ministry
Managing change

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America discipleship programsThe ELCA has two programs that help congregations grow people as disciples. One is called Fanning the flame available at
and the other called Living Faith available at
There is a range of free resources for congregations including worship materials, bible studies, skits and a planner

Passionate Church and Passionate Life
Walt Kallestad (Community Church of Joy and Michael Breen (now with Joy Leadership Centre and previously the rector at St Thomas' Church Sheffeild England have partnered together to develop a way of communicating discipleship living and teaching under the banner of Lifeshapes ( As part of this have written a number of books and produced a training series:

The Book: Passionate Life
What is your life like—really like? Are you living the life you dreamed of? Or do you feel there is something missing—something just beyond your reach?
Countless people today are disappointed with the way their lives are going. Though they truly believe they were created for a Divine purpose, deep in their hearts, they wonder What is so great about knowing God? Perhaps you can relate. Do you have friends who talk about how wonderful God is and what He is doing in their lives and you secretly long to know him the same way? Maybe you go to church every week, only to go away empty and thinking There has got to be more.
There is more—much more and it is in your hands right this moment! Authors Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad want to show you how to live A Passionate Life! You will learn how to live your faith the way God intended. In simple steps, you will learn what it means to be a true follower in ways that are easy to remember and to apply to every situation and relationship in your life.
Soon, the enthusiasm you will be feeling will be real. You will have a passionate relationship with the Creator of the Universe. You will have a passionate conviction to impact the lives of the people in your life. You will have A Passionate Life!
Through decades of ministry, authors Mike Breen and Walt Kallestad have sought to help countless individuals discover how to live a fully satisfying life. They both believe that LifeShapes—eight truths that transform lives—is the best way for individuals and churches to experience productive, significant lives. These simple shapes form a framework for every believer to understand their relationship to God, to each other, and lead to A Passionate Life

The Book: Passionate Church
Jesus led and lived with a passion that changed the world. Today, across America and around the world, church leaders and believers—in numbers too high to count—are desperate to experience that passion.
Pastors ache to see church members become true disciples and to see congregations become communities reflecting the love and life of Jesus
Believers yearn to be closer to Jesus, to have a faith that transforms every aspect of their lives
Non-believers hunger to experience a faith that is real
To fulfill each of these longings The Passionate Church offers eight simple-yet-profound truths known as LifeShapes!

The training program: A Passionate life small group resource kit
Kit contains: 1 copy of A Passionate Life book, 1 Leader’s Guide, 6 Workbooks, and an eight-session teaching DVD featuring LifeShapes’ creator Mike Breen
Introduces readers and small-group learners to the LifeShapes principles of discipleship
Small group members will learn their own significance in God’s system of relationships and ministry, and how each individual person is an essential part of the whole
LifeShapes will open the doors to a passionate faith that spills over into everything you do!
Learn directly from Mike Breen with the included DVD

A tract: The Lutheran Layperson's League in Australia also has available a tract: Membership or discipleship
If you have any further articles or resources on discipleship please email me these to me at with discipleship in the subject line so we can share these with others

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A congregation to explore: Concordia Lutheran Church San Antonio Texas

Visit Concordia Lutheran Church San Antonio Texas at

They have a considerable number of ministries, including teaching resources. Well worth exploring