Saturday, September 27, 2008

Free Book: The way of salvation in the Lutheran Church by GH Gerberding

Published in 1887

This book is available free through Project Gutenberg at You can either read it online or download it.

chapters include:
Prepartory Scripture passages
All are Sinners
All that is Born of the Flesh must be Born of the Spirit
The Present, a Dispensation of Means
Baptism, a Divinely Instituted Means of Grace
The Baptismal Covenant can be kept unbroken--Aim and Responsibility of Parents
Home Influence and Training in their Relation to the Keeping of the Baptismal Covenant
The Sunday School in its Relation to the Baptized Children of Christian Parents
The Sunday School--Its relation to those in Covenant Relationship with Christ, and also to the Unbaptized and Wandering
Contents, Arrangement and Excellence of Luther's Small Catechism
Manner and Object of Teaching Luther's Catechism
The Lord's Supper
The Preparatory Service, Sometimes Called the Confessional Service
The Word as a Means of Grace
Conversion--Its Nature and Necessity
Conversion--Varied Phenomena or Experiences
Conversion--Human Agency
Modern Revivals
True Revivals
My Church! My Church! My dear Old Church!

Knowing your mission field: a demographer gives a big picture

Bernard Salt is an Australian demongrapher, columinist with the Australian newspaper and author.

He regularly comments on Australian society, the upcoming issues and some of the trends around Australia.

His articles in the Australian are generally easy to read visit,25201,14741,00.html for a selection.

His web site is at

And his books are:

Man Drought
Why are there so many single women in their 30s? What’s an offal? What is it with Generation Y?
In this entertaining new book, bestselling author and social commentator Bernard Salt answers these and many other pressing questions about contemporary Australia.
In exploring the modern phenomenon of the man drought, Salt provides invaluable research on the odds for finding love (or at least a date) in every Australian town, as well as capital-city hot-spots for meeting single men or women. He also introduces us to the Fella Filter and Hot Deflation Index.
Beyond the man drought, Salt serves up a selection of his take on contemporary social issues around lifestyles, work habits, the future, and an insightful analysis of Australian generations. From the Frelderlies and Frugals, through the baby boomers and Generation X, down to Generation Y and the Millennium Generation no-one is spared Salt’s irreverent scrutiny.
Drawing on current census data and his own research, Man Drought And Other Social Issues Of The New Century presents a quirky and enlightening tour through the world we live in today.

The Big Picture
When did it become socially acceptable, or at least not unacceptable, for a young couple to have children out of wedlock? The answer is at some stage during the 1990s. What events and value-shifts have had the most influence on us as a nation? Can the Fella Filter save us from the man drought? Is food the new sex for the over-40s? What is the chaperone syndrome? At what age do you cease being young?
In his groundbreaking new book, bestselling author Bernard Salt tackles these & other social and demographic questions facing Australia. Articulate, chatty & witty, it interprets the factors that have a bearing on where we live, when we marry & how we will work. This is a book that looks at the motivational forces that shape the Australian community.

The Big Shift
In The Big Shift author Bernard Salt provides an articulate interpretation of the settlement of the Australian continent, charting the shifts and shuffles that have made us who we are over the past 200 years.
This bold and landmark outlook chronicles Australia from the unique bush culture of the swagman, to today's world of boomers, Xers and Dotcoms. It considers the rise of suburbia on our national psyche and maps out the likely influences on Australian culture over the early decades of the twenty-first century.
Salt's conclusion is powerful - no less than the rise of a third Australian culture - the culture of the beach.
But what are the implications of such a seachange? What might Australia look like in 20 years' time? Will the rush to the CBD last? And how will the baby-boomer push to middle-age and beyond impact on our culture?

to view these books and discover where to buy them visit

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The real challenge: keeping forgiveness central

Recently I have been involved in a discussion that how difficult our challenge is in being church and ministering to others.
Here are some of my comments from that discussion.

The fringes and others will always struggle with the church and Christianity whilst they believe life and the church is all about looking good, being better and having good morals. And at times the church and Christianity haven't helped in this area because it has been unwilling to stand up to society about how important forgiveness is.
When we focus on forgiveness some people get disturbed, (recently I had a mother ask my why the church emphasises forgiveness rather than morals surely morals are more important?).
Sure people are happy to receive forgiveness themselves but feel short changed when others receive it.

For most of the fringes and others, forgiveness is a nice but not an essential thing for life. As a consequence they can't see how a person can really be a Christian and sin. (Remember the whohar about Kevin Rudd and the strippers.)

Surely our challenge is to help people see how helpful, how beneficial, how important, how essential and how central forgiveness is for life.
Forgiveness is not some accessory to our relationships with God and others but the necessity.
Also helping people see it also not about covering up a person's sin but about dealing with it.
Maybe as Christians, churches and pastors we need to be more forthright and clear in how forgiveness works, what it means to be forgiven and what it means to forgive!!!

What are your thoughts?

illustration: Always have hope

Often we can think life is too tough, that there is little hope.
There is often a strong temptation to give up, especially when seem to be struggling and never getting ahead.

Recently a Rugby League semi final between the Brisbane Broncos and Melbourne Storm demonstrated the importance of never giving up and doing the right thing.
With their eyes on the premiership, some weeks before the finals all the players from Melbourne Storm agreed not to partake in any alcohol until after the Grand Final. Ironically leading up to their game with the Brisbane Broncos 3 Bronco players were in trouble for some antics as a result of over indulging in alcohol. One high profile reporter even quipped, "what a great story this will be if the Broncos beat the Storm, the team that does the right thing beaten by the team that doesn't"
And at half time with the Broncos leading 12 to nil that looked like what was going to happen.
At the 78 minute mark with the score now at 14 to 12 in Brisbanes favour Melbourne Storm have possession of the ball, but one of their players fumbles it and the Broncos take posession. The game and the seaon look over for the Melbourne Storm.
However with their never give in spirit, the Melbourne Storm keep up their tackles and shortly after the Broncos lose possession.
But still at the 79 minutes, 14 second mark it looked like Melbourne Storm's season was over, they had played poorly, they had been behind all day.
Then the Storm scored a try (similar to a touch down) and they were in front for the first time of the day 16-14.
The hooter sounded some 46 seconds later and they were the winners.
After the game the Storm Coach Craig Belamy was reported as saying that no matter how bad things look you never give up and that is why we won.

As Christians life can get pretty tough and there is always the temptation to lose heart. But there is something we should remember God has already defeated Satan for us, and we will experience life with God. So when things get tough or appear over bearing keep focussed on God and the fact he has already won and we are just waiting for the victory party.
However at the 79 minute
They were behind and struggling. Rugby League is played for 80 minutes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A fast growing Lutheran church

Each year Outreach magazine lists the largest 100 congregations and 100 fastest growing congregations in USA.

The Lutheran Church of Hope, West Des Moines Iowa is listed as one of the fastest growing Lutheran congregations in the USA...

Why not take a look at their web site and discover more about this congregation

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pastor as evangelist

Reverend Sergio Fritzzler, Director of the Bible institute in Chile presented a paper at the 2004 International Lutheran Council conference that explores what it means for the Lutheran Pastor to be an evangelist.

The paper looks at:
Mission-evangelisation concept
The way the mission of God works
The Pastor as evangelist
The missionary perspective of the church

All with a look at the close relationship we have as church with God's mission

To read the paper visit

A gospel view of the Great Commission: A hand of life giving love

Eugene Bunkowske has written an easy to understand article for Lutheran Witness that expands what the Great Commission is on about....key to the article is the Gospel.

In one part of the article Eugene gives us an easy way to remember what it means to be living the Great Commission :
(thumb) All authority has been given to Jesus in heaven and earth
(index finger) so while you are going about in everyday life
(middle finger) disciple people of all languages and cultures
(ring finger) by baptizing and teaching them everything Jesus has told us
(pinky finger) and recalling that Jesus is always with you until the end of time

Now to read the article in visit

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Conference: Who do you say I AM? Getting honest about God.

Crossings Community are holding their annual conference

This year the theme is: 'Who do you say I AM? Getting honest about God.
Subtitlted: Why distinction of law and gospel matters more than ever to the world
St. Louis, MO
October 19-22, 2008

Some of the presentions include:
Digging for the Gospel: A Workshop in Six-Step Crossings Methodology.
The Heart of Bertram's Theology: A Study of "A Time for Confessing" and "Postmodernity's Crux"
Abraham's Paradoxical God: Fearing and Trusting the God Who Promises to Save Us from God's Self
"god" and God in Pop Culture
Singing God's Tune when the Audience has turned its Back
America's God: YHWH, Baal, or Golden Calf?
Six Steps Through a Text: A Thumbnail Review
Being Honest about God in Times of Confessing: Insights from Bertram
What Does God Require, Do, and Promise when the U.S.A. Holds Elections?
The Question of God in Pastoral Care
Reading Real Life through the Six Step Lens
"And there's no other God": Being Honest-to-God about God
Is the Lord's Prayer Christian?
Missio as Promissio: Lutheran Missiology Confronts the Challenge of Religious Pluralism
Encountering God at the End of Life
The Six-Step Parish Practitioner
Missional God Outside the Box
Confessions of the Lutheran Risk-Taker: Living Care and Redemption in the 21st Century
Discipleship and Equipping the Saints
Crossings Theology for Missions
Six Steps to Worship of the Great "I AM"

for more information visit

Outreach ideas from Southern District LCMS

The Southern District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod offers a free brochure of outreach ideas.
This maybe just the thing to get you thinking about what you can do in the place God has given you to be his salt and light

Visit for a copy

Growing in Worship: Children's resource for each Sunday of the church year

Concordia Publishing House has released Growing in Worship: a worship resource for children for each Sunday of the church year (they are designed to match the Lutheran Service Book's 3 year lectionary).

From the CPH website:
“Growing in Worship provides children with a weekly guide to the words, actions, people and Bible stories they encounter in worship each Sunday. It engages their minds and their spirits with Christ as He is encountered each week in Word and Sacrament, and then sends them home with Christ–centered ideas and suggestions for the week ahead. Every congregation should get Growing in Worship. It is truly a wonderful resource for our children!”— Revs. David Johnson and Jon Vieker LCMS Commission on Worship

Colorful, eye-catching, and interactive, this four–page weekly worship folder highlights the theme and message of the day and presents the time of the Church Year and special festivals through the following sections:
Pray! Child–friendly rebus format highlights the prayer of the day (Collect
See! Eye–opening activity focuses children on what they will see in worship
Hear! Clear instructions help children follow the Gospel reading
Do! Engaging activity unpacks the message of the Gospel reading
Words To Know! Simple definitions aid comprehension of difficult words
Did You Know? Intriguing fact sparks thinking
Family Faith Talk! Brief, daily ideas for family activity and faith discussion

This resource is ideal for children ages 5–10, but parents and others will be drawn to its content and appealing design. These 8-1/2” x 14” (unfolded) bulletins are available in the three-year Lutheran Service Book Lectionary.

To view a complete copy visit

For more information and to place an order visit:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Small Church in mission

Many Lutheran congregations are small because they:

  • are based in small populated areas.
  • are structured or operate in ways that deter or make it difficult for people joining their congregation.
  • don't have the resources; ideas, people, money, know how or attitudes to grow.
  • have historically been small.
  • don't believe in 'Church Growth principles' so decide to act in ways that deter their deter their congregation growing.
  • are not in a traditional Lutheran area.
  • have developed 'a belief' that being small is what God wants.
  • don't know how to reach beyond their current members.
Now if you are part of a small congregation, it maybe helpful for you and your leaders to explore the reasons why your congregation is small. The reason maybe legitimate or it maybe not especially if it encourages you and others to think that it is not important to share the gospel to all nations.

However whatever the reason, the reality is that there are many small congregations and small congregations operate differently to large congregations. Being small does not have to be a deterent for being disciples and sharing God's gospel.

Following are some resources that may help you as a leader in a small congregation (and if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments section, so others can benefit).

Town and Country Institute based at Gettysburg Seminary offers specialised courses online for Small Church ministries.

Small Groups Forum (sponsored by Village Missions) offers articles, discussion and help to small churches.

Presbyterian Presbytery of Kiskiminetas offers a number of resources for small church ministries in the areas of Description in a small church, worship in a small church, Leadership in a small church, strategy in a small church, revitalising a small church, ministry in a small church, Small Church institutes and programs, links to small church sites.

Small Church Music site offers music scores, lyrics, midi files, mp3s and other musical resources for small churches.

John Mark Ministries offers a range of articles relating to the small church. offers a range of articles and resources that help you better understand small churches and rural ministries; includes books, web links and conferences; helpful for information for pastors and lay leaders; and encouragement for small church ministries.

An article; A small church redefines its mission by Richard Bliese (professor at the Lutheran School of Theology)

General Board of discipleship Methodist Church offers a range of resources and information relating to the small church including events, articles and resources. Some of their resources include:
2. Biblical "Greats" for Small Church Leaders
3. Examples of Pastoral Leaders
4. The Christ-Centered Church
5. Options and Opportunities for Sharing Ministry
6. Questions for a Discussion on Mission and Ministry
7. Passion for People
8. Checking Your Church's Attitude
9. Ideas for Stewardship in Small Churches
10. Tips for Making NOW(rm) Work in Your Church
11. Assessing Your Nurture Ministries
12. More Outreach Ideas
13. More Witness Ideas
14. More Pointers on Lay Leadership Selection
15. Encouragement for Leaders in the Small Church
16. Organizing for Ministry

Episcopal Church blog for small church ministry

Transforming church article on growing a small church

With new books becoming available frequently, rather than suggest one or two books why not check out what Amazon offer (see below) in the way of resources for small membership churches. if you have used a particular book feel free to recommend or critic one of them in the comments page.

Lutheran Leadership thoughts No.2 : difficulties

As leaders often we are faced with difficulties. Some leaders infact have a to do list full of them. And these are not just difficult decisions, but also difficult situations. Sometimes the decisions we are involved in will lead to difficulties or difficulties with some people, who are difficult.
The fact is that difficulties are part of a leader’s life. In fact difficulties are one of the reasons leaders are needed. To help people through the difficulties and to help people deal with the difficulties.
Reflection time: What difficulties are you or your organisation facing now? What difficult decisions do you have to make? What decisions which you and your organisation are making will lead to difficulties for yourself and others (either now or in the future)?

How we respond to difficulties often affects not only ourselves, but also the organisation we are leading.
One of the temptations when faced with difficulties is to avoid them. Moses tried this (read Exodus 3) and so did Peter (read Matthew 16:21-28). Sometimes people use the excuse that if we avoid difficulties they are being peacemakers. There maybe times where this is the case however before jumping to that conclusion ask yourself I am really being a peacemaker or only keeping one party happy? Avoiding difficulties is not helpful and often means steering away from your organisation's purpose and goals. Instead of avoiding difficulties, we often need to deal with the difficulties in a ways that keep us in line with our main goals and purposes.

Another response to difficulties is to simply give up when things are not going to well. Is this really a solution? I suspect what drives the decision to give up is the desire for an easier life and is that really being a leader? Imagine if Jesus had given up because the suffering appeared too much, or God had given up on us because we were always letting Him down, or Paul had given up on the churches because they were always getting themselves into trouble? Leaders should be very careful about making the decision to give up. Rather than give up why not look for some alternatives?

Another extreme response for some is to bulldoze their way through difficulties, as they believe they have the right answer and everyone else is wrong. Now you maybe right, however bulldozing through some difficulties may also make it difficult for you and your organisation to achieve your goals and purposes. I used to rent a house where the landlord would clear the garden and get rid of every weed insight before each new tenant moved in by saturating the whole garden in weed killer. Sure the weeds were gone, but also were the beautiful plants, lovely smelling flowers and vegetables. Sometimes when we get angry with difficulties and act as bull dozers we have the potential to cause more harm than good.

As Christian leaders the way we approach such difficulties means we hold tightly to the instructions Jesus has given us, of leading in ways that love God and love others (Christians and non-Christians) and keeping His gospel of salvation as a priority. Rather than avoid difficulties, give up or bulldoze many biblical leaders encountered difficulties and dealt with them in a different way. Take a look at the lives of Jesus (eg. Matthew 16:21-28), Paul (eg. Colossians 4) and Moses (eg. Exodus 32:19-35).

One of the first steps in dealing with difficulties that is common among many biblical leaders is to consult God about the difficulties. This means praying and searching the scriptures in ways where we seek God's guidance. Another important thing to remember is that Jesus came to save the entire world (John 3:16-17), so as you deal with difficulties remember a focus for us is helping people remain in the Christian faith. Our is about primarily dealing with the difficulties, and at the same time in caring for people. Another helpful approach is to break the difficulties down into smaller more manageable chunks, especially if the difficult appears too big. Also it is important to keep on communicating how the specific difficulties are hindering the organisation’s goals and purpose. This is important because many people don't make the association. Put an action plan into place and act on it.
Reflection time: How do you normally respond to difficulties? Why? When confronted with difficulties what is important for you? What are some of the things you need to do about some of the difficulties you are experiencing?

Often when we experience difficulties, God uses them as opportunities to highlight or create something good. In Exodus we see this with Joseph although sold as a slave by his brothers he arises to an advisor to the king and has the chance to save his brothers. Read Joseph response to his brothers in Exodus 50:20. Martin Luther took the difficulties he experienced to make sure the gospel was more clearly spoken to people in their language. Maybe some of the difficulties you are facing as a leader are actually windows for you to allow God to highlight or deliver good amongst the people you are leading.
Reflection time: Think about some of the difficulties you and your organisation face. How might God use them to bring His gospel to the people you are leading. Have you asked God to help you use these to make His love more obvious to the people you are serving?

And remember no matter what difficulties we are encountering, or how stressful they maybe God is always with us, read Psalm 139.

If you found this Luthean leadership thought helpful please let us know by making a comment below. You are free to share it, provided you acknowledge its origin with the Pastor Richard Schwedes,