Monday, February 23, 2009

Family Shield Ministries

Family Shield Ministries' mission is to educate and equip people through the power of the Gospel,to know Christ, grow in His Word and strengthenindividuals and their families.
Family Shield Ministries strengthens individuals and their families for Christ.
“Take up the shield of faith...” Ephesians 6:16

Through their web site you can obtain:
a monthly newsletter
a radio program
free resources for building a healthy family
Book: Witnessing a lifestyle
Book: Family Ministry basics
Book for sharing your faith with Jehovah Witnesses
Audio recordings

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lutheran Study Bible available March 3rd

The Lutheran Study Bible NRSV published by Augsburg Fortress will be available from March 3rd.

You are able to Pre Order it now

For more information about this new study bible visit:

To evaluate the bible by viewing some sample pages visit

You can purchase the Bible through:
Augsburg Fortress

Australian Church Resources

Paper: Worship in the 21st Century taking our cue from Martin Luther

Cameron MacKenzie a Phd student explores the issue of Worship in the 21st Century.

He argues that people who believe in sinners in need of a saviour, our God is an unchanging God interacting in a changing world can learn a lot from history, so he turns to Martin Luther. Luther has much to say regarding worship to us because during the reformation Luther was involved in major alterations to popular worship and explained what was behind these changes.

Could provide some interesting insight for pastors, worship teams and congregation members

Monday, February 16, 2009

Free online Creative Worship Course

Creative Worship is an initiative of AugsburgFortress,

This course will be significantly influenced by Lutherans in the USA.

Now for the even better news:
Its free
You don’t have to travel to get to the course
And you can do it in your own time and with people from your congregation.

For more information on the course visit:

The course outline is:
Part 1: The VisionWeek
0: Introduction
Week 1: What is creative worship?
Week 2: Casting the vision
Week 3: The importance of team
Week 4: Developing your game plan

Part 2: The Team
Week 5: Team Make-Up (People and Purpose)
Week 6: Fostering a Creative Environment
Week 7: Nurturing Relationships

Part 3: The Process
Week 8: Structured creativity is not an oxyy-moron
Week 9: Remember your focus
Week 10: Ask the right questions
Week 11: Effective Brainstorming
Week 12: Keeping up: developing an effective timeline

Part 4: The Evaluation
Week 13: What questions to ask? / What to evaluate?
Week 14: Don’t take it personally
Week 15: Conclusion

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lutheran Leadership 7: Leading in your context

In ministry and mission one of the important aspects we need to consider is the context we are ministering in.

If you don't think context is that important take a look at the Gospels.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Have you ever wondered why there are four and not just one big one(that would make life easier wouldn't it)?
Well part of the answer to that question lies in the fact that each of the Gospels were written for a different audience.
Matthew was written primarily for the Jews, Mark for the Romans, Luke for the Gentiles and John for the Greeks. Now each of these groups had a different view of life and so if you take the time to investigate the Gospels further you will notice their emphasis of Jesus differs and so does their focus.
The Gospel however always remains.
Question for you to consider
What is the Gospel?
Do you understand what must not change?

Furthermore when we delve into scripture...we see Jesus deals with sin differently depending on who he is dealing the Pharisee, those who claim to know God's ways he is often more critical, but to others like the women who had committed adultery he takes a different approach. (read Matthew 23 and John 8:1-11)
Also Paul writes to a variety of congregations, his letters are frequently yelling about Jesus the wonderful Messiah and how good he is, but he also discusses what this means in relation to some issues occuring in these various places.

And some many years later Martin Luther spent a considerable amount of time and energy translating the bible into the German language, so more people could grasp the Gospel.

Now some people worry that if we attend to context too much we will lose the gospel. But others say that unless we attend to culture and context people will not even consider the gospel. This is why it is important to understand what is essential, what the message of the Gospel is? How that is communicated may alter, but the Gospel itself never alters.

Let me give you an illustration that may help, currently I live in Tasmania Australia. Its a cold place. Some years ago they discovered that the most cost effective heating came from Reverse Cycle Air Conditioners. Despite this initially sales were shockingly low. Very few people in Tasmania were interested in air conditioners. Advertising wouldn't work. Men thought their wives were crazy suggesting they buy an air conditioner in Tasmania. And telemarketers were frequently laughed at and had the phone slammed in their ear. Then some bright spark got the idea that they needed to focus on the heat they pumped out, so the name heat pump was adapted and almost instantly sales went through the roof.

Likewise as leaders in mission who understand our contexts, we need to listen for what parts of the Gospel message people are most likely to get people's attention. Now this is not changing it or promising something that it is not, or downplaying those things that are true and important. But it is emphasising those things that help people grasp the Good News of Jesus.

A question for you to consider
What is the context of the people you are leading?
Or probably more appropriately what are the contexts of the people you are leading?
Consider who are the people, what is the environment like, what is happening around you and your congregation, how do people perceive the church or parts of the church, does your congregation context match your community or part of your community context?

The reality is most of us lead and minister in not one but many contexts, and this affects how we may need to go about ministry and mission. Recently I had a discussion which highlighted this. A grandmother was complaining that the grand children she was regularly looking after were disobedient because they were always questioning her. I then remembered a discussion I had with my father some months ago. He said when he went to school it was sit down, shut up and listen. Everything you needed to know you were told, if the teacher didn't know it you never got to know it. Now jump a few generations ahead and life is somewhat different. Children are encouraged to ask questions, encouraged to explore, are used to learning through a multiple of resources and at times discover things that their teacher didn't even know. As the grand mother thought this through she became a little more tolerant of her grand children, realising that their questioning was how they went about life.

Now lets transfer this into a congregation where we have a mixture of grand parents, parents, teenagers and children. Already you probably have 4 contexts. Each of these groups learn differently, express themselves differently and even understand the world around them differently.
Question to think about
As leaders how do these different contexts affect how your congregation worships, handles money, learns, relates to each other, serves in the church community and the wider community, views the gospel and how they are cared for?
Apart from age what are some of the different contexts that exist in the community you are leading?
What does it mean for us as leaders to be responsible for leading a group of mixed contexts?
What are some of the challenges?
How might this be exciting for us?

Read Galatians 3:26-28, Colossians 3:5-11 and 1 Corinthians 9:19-23.
What is God saying in these three texts about leading different people from different contexts?
How do these texts affect how we lead in an organisation with a variety of contexts?

Lenten devotions

Lutheran Hour Ministries are again offering Lenten devotions for congregations to print out and distribute.

There are two devotional books

Given for us
A new perspective.

To find out how you can obtain these books free of charge and distribute them to congregation members visit

Resources for ministering during times of tragedy including bushfires and floods

These resources have been gathered together to help those going through difficulties as a result of disasters like bushfires, floods, earthquakes, gain comfort from God and explore Where is God in all the mess. They are also helpful for people ministering to others during such times.

A worship service of Prayer, Comfort and Thanksgiving available at

Lutheran Church of Australia's resources

Answers to agony from Pastor Edgar Mayer

Psalms, Bible readings, prayers and suggested songs for times of catastrophe compiled by Andrew Ruddell

Lutheran Disaster Response, offers a range of resources including how to respond to disasters, devotional material, resources for children plus more

Textweek resources

Barney Zwartz's response to those who think that the bushfires are the result of God's judgement

Hymn written following the bushfires
Black Saturday
Tune: Amazing Grace
Norman Habel, 2009

Amazing flames that scorch the sky,
Like hurricanes of fire,
Alive with eucalyptus oil,
Are roaring higher and higher.

These swirling balls of oil ablaze,
That leap o’er trees at will,
Descend on fields and flock and homes,
Explode and burn and kill.

Where’s God in all this swirling ash?
Where’s God in all this pain?
Awaiting somewhere in the sky
To one day send some rain?

The face of God is burnt and black;
The hands of God are red!
The God we know in Jesus Christ
Is bleeding with the dead.

Is this, O God, the shock we need
To face our life ahead,
Adjusting to a Greenhouse Age
When we must share our bread?

Christ, show us now your hands and feet,
The burns across you side
To show you suffer with the Earth,
By fires crucified!

Lutheran Sermons during times of tragedy
Where is God in all this? written following Hurrican Katrina
When disaster happens....God is more interested in caring and saving than judging..

Where is God now? 60 hope inspired devotions especially for those suffering community disasters

Where is God in all this?
From Lutheran Hour Ministries a free downloadable booklet or 40c for hardcopy to help us discover where God is in the midst of suffering

Books: for those wanting to dive a little deeper
Grab a bible and read the book of Job

Good Question: edited by Brian Schwarz has an article about suffering by Bob Kempe. (Local Lutheran Congregation's and pastors may have copies. Or visit the library at

The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis

Where is God when it Phil Yancey

Preaching God's Compassion by LeRoy Aden and Robert Hughes

God, Evil and Human Suffering by John E Thiel

God and human suffering by Douglas Hall

Walking with God in a fragile world edited by J Langford

If you are aware of anything else that may help others minister and receive God's word during this time please feel free to let me know or simply add them as comments