Monday, December 14, 2009

Revelation Bible Study: What the last book of the bible really means

The Book of Revelation.

It's been called mysterious, puzzling, and frightening. Some people say it's not worth reading.

But why would Jesus' last word to His people be so irrelevant and unpractical?

Could there be more to this final message than we realize?

It's time to discover the inspiring, down to earth, and meaningful message of a misunderstood book of the Bible.

Read Michael W. Newman's "Revelation: What the Last Book of the Bible Really Means."

See why this compelling book of the Bible is so worthwhile. Study Guide included.

You can take a look at details or purchase a copy of the book by clicking the link below. Be sure to use this special discount code to get $2.00 off every copy you purchase: 8N347JTM


The book is a practical look at the inspiring, down to earth, and meaningful message of Revelation. It’s also written from a solid, Biblical, and Lutheran perspective. It has a study guide after each chapter and is perfect for large group, small group, or individual study.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

lectionary calendars for outlook

Both CPH (LCMS) and Augsburg Fortress (ELCA) offer a FREE lectionary claendar that you can download into Outlook, iphone or other devices

Two warnings:
They are you may need to alter the date format after downloading before importing into Outlook, if you are from Australia
Check the lectionary readings....LCMS altered their lectionary a few years ago and at times it differs from the RCL....

To obtain either vist Augsburg Fortress or CPH

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Book: Leading Congregational Change (a practical guide for the transformational jounrey)

It is refreshing to come across a book that is realistic about the challenges of change in congregational life, and offers hope, encouragement and guidance for those who are involved in being part of God's change over the long term.

Here are what some people say about the book:

This book is up front...but also encourages people to think that being part of change requires some active responses....for instance in the first chapter it makes no bones that change will bring conflict...but the question we need to consider is will our responses to change result in life threatening conflict or life giving conflict

Lt Roades (Amazon)
The authors quickly set the stage for the focus of the book--"Many Christian Congregations in American today need to experience life-giving transformation." The background of the book is not someone doctoral or master's thesis or some seminarian or bible college student's weekend project. The result of the book through processed hindsight is the end (but continuing) analysis of congregational transformation, both organizational and local levels, within the Union Bible Association (Houston, Texas). The authors became part of a team that sought to impact its denominational association by transformation its present state of ministry engagement to fuse into a renewed vision that matched to the Mission of the Church as established by Jesus Christ.

As stated in their intent, "This book presents the model and principles for congregational transformation that emerged from their journey. In sharing the lessons from our experience, we hope to encourage other congregations and to help them navigate their own tumultuous environments."

What was unique (in the reviews understanding) about this process as set out by this leadership team was its approach. Rather than developing an entirely new system of evaluation, analysis, and tools to accomplish such a diverse transition, the team integrated current research, programs, paradigms, etc. into a system that embraced transformation from the inside out--structure and people. This integrated model was not merely an agent to change programs or ministries, but the model first set out to change hearts and minds and to ensure the "church" was moving in the same direction--that is, the people were aligning with God rather than a system. The transformation was to continuously occur individually, corporately, and institutionally. The living system integrated for this organization was wholistic and not ambiguous.

The model, as impacting change for individual, corporate, and institutional levels, is a fusion of the a diverse set of origins--Henry Blackaby and Claude King's Experiencing God; Congregations such as Bill Hybels and Rick Warren; Peter Senge's The Fifth Discipline; John Kotter's Leading Change; and John Aldrich, President of Multnomah Seminary.
The Congregational Transformation Model established by UBA leadership team categorizes the transformation process in three distinct areas (though the process is continuously revolving). It is not necessary designed to move from phase to phase. There is always a beginning and ending place, but continuous reflection and re-adjustment. The first phase is "Spiritual and Relational Vitality" and it is the imperative stage of entry into change. The authors define "S and R" as, "the life giving power that faithful people experience together as they passionately pursue God's vision for their lives". The second phase is the 8 step "Change Process" and it is the core stage of developing a Vision for the church to accomplish the Mission of the Church. The third phase is the "Learning Disciplines" and these are general principles that are important to implement to the process, leadership, and individuals committed to change. Each of these concentric phrases are intensely integrated and built upon the previous and following steps. The model is adaptable to each organization.

As great as the book is, it is somewhat difficult to evaluate. The process developed by the UBA is remarkable and appears to incorporate the necessary attention-to-detail to all the major and minor steps required to transform. And though the process of change was developed by depraved humans, the authors recognize that the transformation is the result of the Spirit of God and faithfulness to the Mission of the Church as established by Jesus Christ.

The authors made it clear that this process is not a fast and easy. As well, they did not leave the duration of change in any ambiguous terms. The authors state that the process could take as long as five years. This allows for specific planning, goal development and realistic future positions to move toward.

The reviewer was personally impacted by the simplicity of the process for application to an individual or the corporate body. The authors continuously engrain the importance of the personal commitment to the process, which is reflected in the individual's relationship with God and the Church. It starts and ends in this relationship. Change and transformation is futile without this faithfulness.

A second impact of the book was the development of "mental models", specifically the seven major subsystems with a congregation. This awoke an entirely new perspective of reflection and evaluation of the church that the reviewer had never understood. Fond of systems thinking, this book fundamentally changed how a pastor (or anyone) should to view the "living Church and church."

The only comment I would state as a negative would be the areas of Vision development. The core of the book is built upon a solid and functional Vision statement. The reviewer does not feel as if enough white space was committed to developing the Vision statement. The authors described Mission, Vision, and Visionpath adequately, but more description and examples/illustrations should have been used to help the reader/congregation in understanding the structure of development for imperative Vision and Visionpath.

The book was read thoroughly, but the reviewer would have to re-read the book and toil through the workbook for a wholistic understanding and life integration.

For more information about the book visit

Sermon launching Year of Evangelism

Our congregation is having an intentional focus on evangelism for 2010.

On December 6th we lauched our Year of Evangelism

You can find a copy of the sermon here

The evangelism-resistant church (and some solutions)

An article that appeared in The Lutheran March 2004

12 factors hold us back-but there are solutions

It's a matter of faithfulness to Jesus that the ELCA offer Christ's gospel as never before. Precisely because this is so important, we must understand that it will be difficult. Only when we appreciate why and how we have become an evangelism-resistant church can we overcome our historic weakness. At least 12 factors hold us back.

1. The "great omission." The Reformers didn't address evangelism in the confessional documents that formed us. A society with millions of unbaptized people would have been incomprehensible to them. So they left us no directions.

The solution is to recognize this and look to The Confessions for a directive: preach the word and offer the sacraments. Nothing could be more Lutheran. But today our vision must include those beyond the church.

2. How we got to be us. Two denominations moved beyond the Appalachian Mountains to win souls-the Baptists and the Methodists. Lutherans were more concerned about nurturing those who believed already. Evangelism became something others did, and an unhealthy arrogance, which still exists, set in.

Is there a solution? We need a revised self-understanding that considers evangelism as much our job as any other denomination.

3. Lex orandi, lex credendt. This means that our worship forms shape our belief. Talk of evangelism has been rare in worship, thus worshipers have quietly assumed it isn't important.
A solution: When the congregation gathers for worship, evangelism needs to be emphasized in the sermon, prayers or hymns.

4. The presence of vagueness. Too many remain unclear about what evangelism is : sharing the gospel of Christ to bring people to baptism and a life of discipleship. Evangelism isn't simply a membership drive, nor do we ever have enough members if we can pay all bills. It's not public relations or advertising. Evangelism is winning souls.

The solution includes promoting knowledge-classes and discussions that include evangelism's basic concepts.

5. Failure to teach evangelism. Lutheran pastors have received little training in evangelism. The list of our theologians who have written in this field is short. Our seminaries have considered evangelism more a practical skill than a theological discipline, something to be ac- ; quired after graduation.

The solution: Seminaries must teach the theology and practice of evangelism-to both seminarians and pastors.

6. Shortage of evangelists. Lutheran national offices once had evangelists available to congregations. We have · gifted people familiar with programs, but we need more evangelists.

Solution: Identify people with the spiritual gift to be an evangelist and find them creative venues for their gift.

7. Suspicion. Evangelists' concern with numbers can seem unspiritual. Televangelists haven't helped. But until evangelism is an honored ministry among us, our resistance will continue.

One solution is to expose parishioners to wholesome, positive evangelism resources-especially books and videos-that demonstrate the integrity of real evangelism.

8. Competing priorities. Evangelism is the church's primary mission. But that's not where everyone's heart is in the evangelism-resistant church.

One solution: Immersion in the Scriptures guides us to the Great Commission to share the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20), which is restated numerous ways and places throughout the New Testament.

9. Cold shoulder to "church growth." This movement took form in the second half of the 20th century. Its basic premise is that God wants the church to grow. While those who start missions benefit from the movement, others in the church have been neutral to cold.

The solution requires new openness to research about the value of biblical preaching, the wisdom of multiple worship services, the advantage of a Christian preschool, etc.

10. Myth of the silent witness. Countless Lutherans believe they witness silently each day by the way they live. But unless they make their witness specific, those around them won't have a clue what they're trying to say by their lives.

The solution is found in "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" (Lutheran Book of Worship, 228): "One little word subdues him (the devil)." That word is Jesus, and we must learn to speak it in all appropriate circumstances.

11. Alternative solutions. Aware of declining interest and numbers, an evangelism-resistant church prefers other solutions. all the mainline churches have tried appreciating the liturgy more, making language more inclusive, balancing the traditional and contemporary in worship, being more multicultural, showing more hospitality and offering the secrets of deeper spirituality so the people will come. They haven't.

The solution is to affirm that evangelism has no substitute. We will remain evangelism-resistant unless we give evangelism our full attention.

12. Spirit quenching. The Spirit calls the church to evangelize and moves believers to answer that call. Individuals and institutions can choose not to get excited. The Lutheran church is notoriously uncxcitablc about.evangelism. We dare not "quench the Spirit" as if the ELCA's evangelism initiative is just perfunctory busyness.

The solution involves renewal in the church. "Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches." How many more chances will we have to stop being an evangelism-resistant church?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Lutheran Leadership: Nehmehiah chapter 2

At least the day before you meet as leaders or the day before you intend reflecting further on the Nehemiah Chapter 2

Begin your time together by reflecting on the last week or month you have experienced as a leader.
What have been some of the good things?
What challenges or frustrations have you been facing?
How do the good things and the challenges fit into God's persepctive of being a leader for Him?
How has God been working?

Read Nehemiah 2:1-3
What situations in your congregation's life look similar to what Nehmehiah saw?
What is making your heart sad?

Read Nehemiah 2:4-5
Do you know what it is you would like to happen?
Have you asked God for guidance on what should happen?
Can you articulate what you would like to happen to ohers, especially other Leaders and those who have the ability to help?
Take time now to pray to Go and seek His guidance

Read Nehemiah 2:6-9
What help do you need for God's goals to be achieved through you?
Who do you need help from?
Who do you need to support what God is asking you to do?

Read Nehemiah 2:10
Have you ever faced opposition to what you believe God is asking you to do?
Why do you think people oppose initiatives that are God focussed?

Read Nehemiah 2:11-17
Do you have an understanding of the current situation facing your congregation?
Spend some time reflecting on what God is calling you to do.
Why might it be important spend time focussing on the current situation and what needs to be done?
What are some of the first things that need attending to that will make a difference?

Read Nehemiah 2:18-20
What is important for your team/congregation in undertaking any action?
How will you respond to those who oppose the project or criticise you?
Why may some people be threatened?

Daily challenge
Between now and the next meeting pray to God and ask him for guidance of what is required in relation to your congregation's current situation.

Team Leadership resources from Pastor Robin Stelzer

Pastor Robin Stelzer (a Lutheran Pastor of the a Lutheran Church in Rochedale Queensland) has prepared and presented a number of resources to assist pastors involved in team ministry.

Know your Leadership Style Assessment resource

Growing a healthy Spiritual Team

Effective Team Ministry needs a TEAM PLAN

Containing the Rent whilst building the house

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Evangelising Assessment Tool

For Christians, evangelism and discipleship are at the heart of living out their faith. Yet many do not easily share their faith or invite co-workers and neighbors to worship.
People become effective faith-sharing disciples through a change in head and heart. They come to know Christ’s command to, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”(Matthew 28:19). By the power of the Spirit, they come alive in faith, eager to bring the good news to others.
This assessment tool will help you evaluate how evangelism and discipleship are being lived out in your congregation.

For a free copy of this assessment tool click here