Monday, November 26, 2007

Free Christmas and Advent handouts with your church name

Free Advent and Christmas devotion tracts with your church name and details

visit Lutheran Hour Ministries
and obtain free devotion tracts with your name and other details today

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mission that goes beyond humans but includes humans

Most of the time we think of mission in regards to people and leave it only at that...

However those behind the Seasons of Creation remind us that God gave humans the mission to care for the earth....

And so they have developed a worship and bible study series that helps us engage with God's word and how that affects how we relate to His creation.

At times the church has been suspicious of those talking about creation, however the perspecitve of Seasons of Creation is outlined as follows:
The season of Creation is part the heritage of mainstream Christian worship. There is no break from the gospel as the core of our faith. Nor do the liturgies reflect a New Age orientation. Christ is at the heart of our celebrations. The cosmic Christ is the new life at the core of creation. In the season of Creation we celebrate Christ together with creation, we face the ecological crisis with Christ, and we serve Christ in the healing of creation

The resources have been developed and endorsed by various Lutheran bodies and people both in Australia and in the USA.

Available on the web site are:
Children's addresses
Bible Studies
Devotional material
Suggested activities

It is well worth visiting:

I have also heard about congregations who have used this have had unexpected results of people reengaging with the church.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A congregation to visit: Immanuel Lutheran Church Lake Geneva

As a follow up to our comeback churches information.

In 1995 this congregation had 62 members and guess what their average age was 72. By 2001 there were 100 children attending this about it at and

Now this didn't happen without some people hearing God's voice...and responding to it....

Go visit them at and discover this community

Missiology explained biblically and simply

Hey I am always on the look out for GREAT resources that help explain weird churchy words like Missiology quickly, biblically and simply....

Recently I stumbled across this powerpoint presentation put together by Rev. Doug Kalleson of the Florida Georgia District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod....
Their strategy is that every congregation is a mission post....every member is a missionary..

It is worth having a look at:,2,Key Truths

Friday, November 09, 2007

A story of mission and vocation: Darren Beadman

The Lutheran Church of Australia's focus for the next synodical period is focussed on vocation. One of the concepts that we often talk about is ministering in your vocation or the priesthood of all believers, and so it is good to come across a story of how this is working in the Christian scene.

Many people in Australia have heard of the name Darren Beadman. He is one of the better jockeys in the racing industry. In 1990 and 1996 He rode Melbourne cup winners and Golden Slippers in in 1984 and 1997. He is considered by many as one of the superstar jockeys. Then all of sudden he retired to pursue a calling as a pastor, studying with an AOG college for a couple of years. However as he studied he discovered that he was called to be ministering amongst the racing scene, not as a full time pastor, but as a jockey who happens to be a Christian.

He is now a member of a St Martin's Anglican Church Kensington, which happens to be right smack bang close to Randwick race course. This congregation has become active in ministering to the racing industry and Darren Beadman has been part of this, not by being the pastor but by opening doors for his congregation and pastor at 'his workplace'. Read the story below from the

Sydney Anglicans are working hard to bring God into the world of horse racing, reports JOSEPH SMITH.
Reaching out to any industry with the gospel is difficult. It is even tougher when the industry is innately distrusted by a large number of Christians.
The horse racing industry has suffered this kind of stigma, however, the ministry of the Australian Racing Christian Chaplaincy (ARCC) has already won over the support of some Christians in high places like Archbishop Peter Jensen and Catholic Archbishop Cardinal George Pell.
The rector of St Martin’s, Kensington, the Rev Jeremy Tonks and retired clergyman, the Rev Paul Bayliss are two ministers who have been instrumental in bringing the gospel to Sydney’s race tracks while also raising awareness of the ministry among Sydney Anglican churches.
Mr Tonks became interested in racing ministry when he took over as the rector of Kensington six years ago. Randwick race course is within the parish boundaries, located just minutes from St Martin’s.
“I was concerned about the fact that we were surrounded by racing staff. Our church had no way of reaching them other than through getting onto the tracks and into stables,” Mr Tonks says.
The Rev Paul Bayliss had similar concerns trying to reach out to workers from Rosehill race course in his time as rector of St Paul’s, Harris Park in the 1980s.
Twenty years later, ARCC has strengthened its links with the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA). Dr Karin Sowada, Chair of the ARCC Executive Committee, visited the USA in April this year to attend the RTCA annual conference in Houston, Texas.
“It was a great time to be encouraged in ARCC’s ministry and the RTCA certainly see us part of their global network of ministry partners,” she says.
ARCC’s long-term aim is to get a full- time chaplain on all the metropolitan race tracks, however, the Australian context makes this more difficult than the USA, because the USA allows tax exemptions for donations to chaplaincy work. Mr Tonks says the assistance of champion jockey and St Martin’s member, Darren Beadman has helped him build relationships with people in the industry.
“Darren is the biggest help because he is universally respected across the industry. He has been more than generous with his time, going into stables with me and introducing me to people. He is brilliant in assisting the work of ARCC,” Mr Tonks says.
Mr Tonks also runs a Monday afternoon Bible study which has been going for four months.
It is attended by ARCC committee members including Mr Bayliss and bookmakers’ statistician, Graham Isbister. By running the study on Monday afternoons, traditionally the least busy day of the week for many racing workers, Mr Tonks hopes to reach more people as contacts are developed.
September saw another opportunity for improved relations between ARCC and RTCA with the visit of RTCA Executive Director, Dr Enrique Torres, RTCA National President, Edward Smith and USA Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day.
“Pat Day is the like the American equivalent of Darren Beadman. When he retired he had won $297 million in prize money and won the Preakness Stakes five times,” Mr Tonks says.
Pat Day became a Christian during his career after dealing with addictions to drugs and alcohol.
“The RTCA members can open doors for us in the local industry because they are established,” Mr Tonks says.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A web site worth looking at: Transforming Church

The mission of Transforming Church is the renewal of the centrist church.

Here is a little more from their web site:
There is a great spiritual yearning in this country. This deep yearning has expressed itself in all sorts of “paths” to wisdom. We have moved beyond the time when our culture was predominately Christian in character. In this post-modern era, we have moved beyond secularism. Even scientists and physicians are discovering that reason alone cannot provide the answers to life’s questions. The question is not, “Does God exist” but “In which God will I believe?”
Unfortunately, most of the unchurched are looking everywhere but the Christian church for answers. 80% of the denominational churches in the U.S. are stagnant or in decline. Yet we persist in “doing church” in ways that worked in the 1950’s and ‘60’s.
Seminaries are still producing Chaplain Managers when today we need Courageous Leaders. A recent survey by George Barna found only 10% of pastors could articulate God’s vision for the church Pastors are beat up, burned out, and losing their sense of mission. Yet, there are seeds of hope.
A movement is growing in this country to bring the twenty-first century church back to its first century roots. New models of ministry are emerging to create an ancient/modern church. Discipleship is replacing membership, and gift-based ministry teams are replacing committees. is a part of that movement.

What you will find;
Staff Openings (and the ability to list staff openings)
Resource Toolbox, including tools for; starting a transformational journey, teams, shared leadership, congregational settings, inspiration, motivation, devotion, group learning, conflict resolution, conencting with mission partners and the internet.
Information on the Mission Network, the Commission for transformational church, the Transformational Leaders gathering, Academy, plus many other nuggets.

There are many articles and resource to get your mind thinking and venturing along a new route of sharing God's wonderful news.

You can find this site at

Monday, November 05, 2007

Congregations to visit:Lutheran Ministries of South West Oklahoma

Smaller congregations working for the purpose of mission and not just to save money can come up with effective ways to brings God's love amongst their communities.

The Lutheran Ministries of South West Oklahoma is Lutheran congregation in Altus, Elk City and Lone Wolf.
We're a Christian ministry offering a broad menu of opportunities for families and individuals to take part in a celebrating spiritual community. Human care, Christian education, children & family, music and community service are particularly important values in our ministry. Our mission is to care for people in such a way that they experience the presence of Jesus.
Our ministry takes an approach of partnership, networking churches and linking people to ministry throughout southwestern Oklahoma. You'll always see lots of people all over our web pages because people like you are the focus of our ministry. and

On their web site you will find some information about:
A Christian Martial Arts ministry
A link to Seccutus, their praise and worship band
Scripture scrapbooking
ONLine Sermons
Links to each of their congregations
50 days in the bible journey
Links to learning about Islam
An article on holding up under pressure

As you read through their web site you see they value people and partnerships...maybe something there to help you

Friday, November 02, 2007

arrived late: 7 marks of a healthy church

This should have been included in the blog below, relating to comeback churches.

In the book, hope for the church there is a one page table that may help people reflect where they are as a congregation, it talks about the seven marks of a health church. Now this has been developed by Robert Warren (a canon with the Anglican Church in UK).
Here they are:
1. Energized by faith rather than just keeping things going or trying to survive

2. Outward-looking focus with a 'whole life' rather than a 'church life' concern

3. Seeks to find out what God wants discerning the Spirit’s leaning rather than trying to please everyone

4. Faces the cost of change and growth rather than resisting change and avoiding failure

5. Operates as a community rather than functioning as a club or religious organisation

6. Makes room for all being inclusive rather than exclusive.

7. Does a few things and do them well focused rather than frenetic.

There is more to these 7 it is worth looking at them in great depth by visiting

And for further resources including power point go to

The Healthy Churches’ Handbook Robert Warren Church House Publishing 2004 (Appendix 4)

Comeback, turnaround, transformed congregations

In mainline circiles we hear a lot about dieing churches....dieing congregations.

Unfortunately some are resigned to the fact that this will continue to happen.

However is this the case, do churches and congregations need to resign themselves to the inevitable that decline is the only option?

In some situations the answer is yes, but only in some....especially where the population is dwindling at a vast rate. However in many cases the population continues to why can't the church and congregations grow in these situations?

Now the following resources are introduction to the topic comeback churches, to help you explore the process of ressurecting congregations, dealing with existing congregations and helping their pastors, themselves and the community be involved in a transformation process....

One of the common threads that constantly appear is that restarting a congregation is not for the joy rider, it is hard work, even harder than getting a new congregation off the ground, because the dynamics of the past are present and always waiting to interfere.

From the BIBLE
A number of people have suggested reading and studying Nehemiah, Haggai and a way for anyone to prepare to be involved in congregation transformation.

Restart a new option in Ministry
A short article from the Baptist convention of Maryland/Delaware, that highlights the examples of 2 congregations that restarted from the debry of 2 dieing congregations. They suggest seven requirements for restarting:
1) The original congregation must be willing to “die;”
2) The restart has to have new leadership;
3) It has to have a new identity, which includes a change in name;
4) It needs to meet in a new location, at least temporarily;
5) The restart must have new guiding principles, including its vision and values for the future;
6) It has to be focused on reaching a different “slice” of the population than before, based upon an understanding of the dynamic nature of the community where they are located.
7) The congregation must not be in operation beyond the home Bible study level for a minimum of three months before it “restarts” public worship services and proceeds to serve the community in ministry
read the entire article at

Easum Bandy articles on restarting a church

Article: The turnaround from decline to growth: a committed core

Restarting a dead Church from Joyful Heart
Suggests; Make sure there is growth potential in the facilities location, celebrate the church's past, close the church doors for a time, transfer control from local power brokers to a steering committee mainly of outsiders, develop a fresh vision for the faith community, change the church's name, call a new pastor with energy and faith

A process for transformational ministry by Dave Daubert
Transformational ministry is a way of life, that sees God is always on the move and that there is no end point...After some initial disappointment the ELCA reworked their approach to transformational ministry and now suggest the keys are;
Missional identity being at the core (what is God up to and what is my/our role in it?)
Discovery and Diagnose (What is really going on?): honesty needed
Planning (Decide to act!)
Implementation (Do something!)
Learning and Assessing (How is it going.)

ELCA's renewing congregations
topics include:
Change Factors
Program Purpose and Guiding Principles
TurnAround Congregations
Transformational Ministry
Other Resources for Transformation
Stories of Transformation

Northern Great Lakes Synod (ELCA) transformational ministry

Ten Steps To Introduce Transformational Ministry In Your Congregation
Intensify Discipleship awareness
Foster a climate of trust and permission giving
Persistently cast the congregation's vision
Establish Spirituality Consciousness
Provide Intentional Leadership Training (for all leaders )
Proactively measure all aspects of the ministry against the mission and vision of the congregation
Carefully Plan and Implement a Transition From Committees To Teams
Initiate a Specific Discipleship Identity to Replace the Membership Identity
Replace the Mechanical Organization of the Congregation with an Organic System
Write a New Congregational Constitution to Replace your Old One

Celebrate Church (Reformed): a story of a restart congregation can be found at:
Living waters (ELCA): a story of a restart congregation, that started, stopped and restarted
Summerhill Australian (Anglican): An Anglican church that was once thriving and now decling, but now doing something more than surviving

Our first book is not specifically written for churches, however a number of churches have been using it as it introduces the concept and process of change into a team, committee or congregation in a way that many more people understand...

Our iceberg is melting: stories of changing and succeeding under any conditions by John Kotter
Most of the denizens of the Antarctic penguin colony sneer at Fred, the quiet but observant scout who detects worrying signs that their home, an iceberg, is melting. Fred must cleverly convince and enlist key players, such as Louis, the head penguin; Alice, the number two bird; the intractable NoNo the weather expert; and a passle of school-age penguins if he is to save the colony.
Their delightfully told journey illuminates in an unforgettable way how to manage the necessary change that surrounds us all. Simple explanatory material following the fable enhances the lasting value of these lessons.
Our Iceberg Is Melting is at once charming, accessible and profound; a treat for virtually any reader.

Hope for the Church: Contemporary Strategies for Growth by Bob Jackson
Chapters include; Facing the truth, Bums on seats why they matter, Church growth mission possible, bringing growth out of decline, Why should the future be different?, The Church after Christendom, using figures, nurturing faith, welcoming all, taking riskes, acting small (no matter how big you are), planting churches, growing younger, supporting the clergy, the vital role of the diocese/district, renewing the spiritual heart

Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson

Chapters include

  • foundations
  • Why consider becoming a comeback church?
  • Rising with leadership
  • Three faith factors
  • Worship and preaching matters
  • Intentional and strategic church evangelism
  • Connecting people to Spiritual maturity
  • Motivating and mobilizing people out of the pews
  • Connecting people through small groups
  • Other comeback factors
  • Comeback change agents: new or renewed leaders
  • Top ten most common transformations for Comeback Churches
  • Making a comeback- top factors and biggest challenges

Leading the comeback church by David F Nixon
’In this excellent book, Dr. David F. Nixon has captured the heart and story of most local churches. With a real sense of eloquence and yet no holds barred, he has expressed what most pastors deal with in difficult pastoral assignments.’ -- Dr. Stan Toler, Author, Speaker and Pastor Six times, David F. Nixon led struggling churches to viability after major decline, crisis, or plateau. Six times, he overcame impossibilities in churches where others shook their heads and walked away. In Leading the Comeback Church , you’ll discover survival skills essential to anticipating, experiencing, leading, and surviving the turnaround church experience. You will learn how to: Lead their church off of a plateau. Develop a strategy for growth. Overcome financial challenges. Break attendance barriers. Focus on spiritual growth. And much more!

Turn-around church: How to overcome barriers to growth and bring new life to a established church by George Barna
Chapters include:
  • Reshapting the life cycle
  • Symptoms of decline
  • From dream to reality
  • Attributes of turn around leaders
  • Strategies for growth
  • Potholes on the road to recovery
  • Avoiding the downward spiral
  • the last hurrah

If it could happen here: turning the small membership church around by Jeff Patton

Chapters include:

  • then and now
  • Light for those in the darkness and safety for those in storms
  • the end of Pastor Fetch and the Beginning of people go
  • Lever 1: Prayer
  • Lever 2: Discerning a clear mission
  • Lever 3: Indigenous worship
  • Lever 4: Growth groups
  • Lever 5: Membership that means something
  • Lever 6: Lay pastoring
  • The drive for quality and the difference excellence can make
  • If it could happen here, it could happen where you are!!

and don't forget the Reclaiming Series(as mentioned in an earlier blog) was actually a turned around congregation that turned around because of taking seriously 'what it means to be Lutheran in the 21st Century' that was germ for the books...see

Now this is only a small section of material on this subject, if you have something to suggest please feel free to comment