Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Adults finding faith: a study of conversion amongst Protestant mainline churches

The Institute of Evangelism and Church Development at University of Greifswald has undertaken research into adult's finding faith and conversion, as a result of this research they have published the following:

Adults Finding Faith
A study of conversion among the German protestant mainline churches (Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland)
TEN Theses

1.      A central issue: Conversion is not a phenomenon on the margins

-          Conversion takes place in the centre of a mainline church environment (or “Volkskirche”).
-          Converts are people coming from the centre of society.
-          In the sampe of the the study, a majority is well educated and middle class or upper middle class.

2.      Conversions are experienced in a wide range of different experiences (Greifswald’s typology of conversion – “Greifswalder Konversionstypologie”)

The “Greifswald Typology of Conversion” makes use of three types to describe conversion pathways.
-          “growth in confidence” (“Vergewisserung”): People already affiliated to church life experience an assurance of their faith.
-          “discovery” (“Entdeckung”): Church members with a loose relation to church discover Christian faith for themselves.
-          “turn” or “break” (“Lebenswende”): People who are not members of the church and who were not brought up as Christians have now begun to believe.
Our empirical data revealed that conversion experiences are even more sophisticated. A distinction has to be made between the social background, i.e. the degree to which people are affiliated to a church, and the religious experience of the conversion process.

3.      Mission is possible

Mission is necessary – even in Germany – and it works. Contrary to what used to be a common perception, a good number of our converts profess that they had grown up in a social environment where church and faith had played no role whatsoever.

4.      Conversion can have to do with personal crises – but not necessarily

On the one hand, 96% of our converts say that they did experience significant crises – negative or positive. On the other hand, only 40% said that support by the church or individual Christians during these times was important for their faith journey.

5.      Advocats of conversion

Persons and relationships play a vital role in the conversion process – but it is different persons at different stages of the process.

6.      Supportive Church Activities

During a conversion process, a wide range of church activities support the converts on their faith journey. They are less helpful in attracting people from outside the church, but they work in encouraging people who are already to some degree affiliated.

7.      Nurture courses (“Glaubenskurse”)

Nurture courses are important for all types of conversion, and to largely the same degree.

8.      Prayer

The experience of conversion is accompanied by a fresh experience of prayer.

9.      Rituals

The stage of commitment in the conversion process is supported by various forms of ritual within church life, often more than one or two different forms.

10. Consequences

Converts are more religious than other people, they experience God in a positive way and they have a stronger sense of belonging to church than before.

For more information about the Institute of Evangelism and Church Development visit http://www-alt.uni-greifswald.de/~theol/~ieeg/english.html

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Free Courses from Pastor Wade Johnston Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church

Pastor Wade Johnston from Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church makes available a number of studies and courses including:
  • Liturgical Catechesis in the Lutheran Faith
  • The why in our worship
  • Morsels from the Master
  • Survey of Christian History
  • End of life issues
  • Sacramental Evangelism in a Postmodern World

Visit http://www.christsaginaw.com/pastorspage.html to obtain these and other courses

Monday, October 17, 2011

A thought:

Imagine if everybody who shared bad news....put their efforts into sharing Good News...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mission U - courses for witnessing

Mission U

MISSION U is Lutheran Hour Ministries’ new witnessing-training program designed to provide lay people with the tools and training needed to confidently accept their mission of sharing Jesus Christ with unique people in diverse settings.

MISSION U provides a number of course options addressing topics that meet your congregation’s specific witnessing-training needs. By participating in MISSION U courses, congregations will gain tools that sharpen their witnessing methods and enhance their outreach to people of all ages and backgrounds.

The style and format of MISSION U mirrors a 21st-century university classroom. Flexible and ongoing, it offers personal training from speakers and additional instruction via the Web.

At MISSION U the focus is equipping you -- God’s chosen ambassador -- to carry His message of hope and salvation into a world urgently in need of good news.

Courses available include:
MU-101 – Equipping to Share: Everyday Evangelism

Learn to overcome fear and to effectively share your faith with these three relationship models.

MU-102 – Witnessing Methods: Seven Styles of Faith-sharing
Recognize multiple styles of – and contexts for- sharing your faith and learn to apply them to everyday life.

MU-201 – Dealing with Tough Questions
Address common questions and objections to Christianity with sensitive and relevant answers that point to the Savior.

MU-202 – The Outreach-Minded Church: Unified Vision and Mission
Assess your congregational environment, and learn to become more outreach-effective.

MU-203 - Sharing the Gospel in a Digital Age
This course identifies and examines the role technology has played throughout history in providing avenues to proclaim the Gospel around the world.

MU-301 – “Christ Alone” in a Coexist World
Learn to compassionately share the only truth- Jesus Christ-in a pluralistic, anything-goes society.

Visit  Mission U for more details...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A congregation to check out: Shepherds Gate Lutheran Church-Michigan

Shepherds Gate Lutheran Church
About us......
Our beginning . . . We began in 1980 when seven families set out to bring the Christian message to the community using a unique and relevant approach. Today we are a community of over 1300 members.
Our people . . . People matter to God and they matter to us. We offer to all people warm, loving friendship where relationships receive our priority attention.
Our passion . . . Our persistent zeal is motivated by our intense belief in Jesus Christ, in what He has done for us on the cross, and what He continues to do in and through us everyday. We refuse to think small or negatively about tomorrow. We continue to develop people spiritually and motivate them to fulfill their personal God given calling.
Our pursuits . . . We focus on leading every person to simply live the abundant life Jesus gives; a life that embraces three relational dimensions of Up, In and Out.  Up pursues intimacy with God.  In pursues strong, loving relationships.  Out pursues influence with others through the discovery and full engagement of significance service.

Visit their web site at http://sgatechurch.org

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book: Announcing the Kingdom-the story of God's mission in the Bible

This book surveys the development of the kingdom of God theme in the Old Testament and demonstrates how it reveals God's mission in creation, Israel, and among the nations. The authors then turn to the fulfillment of the kingdom through Jesus' ministry and the continuing work of the Holy Spirit.

The author, Arthur Glasser has over thirty years of teaching experience.

This book is used by a number seminaries and colleges as a foundational book for Biblical Mission courses.

Part 1 -  God's Mission in the beginning
Part 2 -  God's Mission through Israel
Part 3 -  God's Mission amongst the nations
Part 4 -  God's Mission through Jesus Christ
Part 5 -  God's Mission through the Holy Spirit by the Church
Part 6 -  God's Mission extends to the end of time

Reviews from

School and Church partnerships

The recent School Link magazine from Lutheran Education Australia is dedicated to school and church partnerships. 
Articles include:
What an Open door by Dennis Obst
Signs of church in a school community by John Proeve and Stuart Traeger
What young people think about the church by Philip Hughes
School and church partnerships; a Catholic perspective by Philip Sharkey
Engaging Students beyond the school yard

Discussion Starter: Who is controlling your mission?

Have you ever been in a situation where as a congregation you have felt a burst of mission energy, but then experienced restraint or even a blockage, and sense someone or something else is controlling your mission?

As Christian congregations we have two major mission callings to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) and to invite people to come see God at work (John 4:29)!!!

Now what gets in the road of these two callings?
Think about this in relation to:

Yourself.........Do you try to control the mission and want everything to go your way?  Perhaps you create or maintain a few obstacles to mission.....What perceptions, attitudes and understandings may you have, that prevents you from going and making disciples and inviting others to come and see what God is doing?   What is your attitude to your current congregation and denomination?

Congregation.........Are there gatekeepers, structures, individuals, physical resources, attitudes, procedures or history controlling your mission?   What obstacles as a result of your congregation's action or inaction that hinder mission?

Your denomination or denomination leaders.....Unfortunately some aspects of denominations can hinder mission and even some leaders may inadvertantly hinder God's mission for your congregation because of the various other matters that fight for their attention or they haven't understood what is needed for mission in your context...Are there principles, processes, restrictions, history, policies, thinking or even precedents that they are holding on to that have a negative affect on your congregation's mission?

What obstacles does your community have in place for you and your congregation that get in the road of you making disciples and inviting others to come and see God at work?....

It is good to identify these obstacles, pray about them, pray and research about how you respond to them and then deal with them.
Dealing with them may mean getting rid of them....
but more often than not dealing with them will involve looking at alternatives and continuing to go and make and invite people to come and see God despite the obstacles around us....

Take a close look at the early church as exposed to us through the New Testament....there were many obstacles, yet people continued to share and teach God's Word and guess what......the church grew.     

Remember that the mission you are involved in is really God's mission, and God has power over the heavens and earth!!! (Luke 10:21

Feel free to leave a comment

New Atheism and Christianity: Resources

One of the high profile discussions at present taking place is between what has become known as the New Atheism and Christianity. 
Following is a small selection of resources to help you under and respond to the New Atheism as a Christian.

WELS - Forward in Christ magazine
New Atheism

Sound Theology
Offers an online audio course titled Christianity and the New Atheism
The course deals with classic and contemporary forms of atheism, exploring the work in particular of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. We examine, in turn, the response to the arguments against the existence of God by famous theologians within the Christian tradition.

Christian Colligation Debate Research and Evangelism
offers over 40 resources relating to the New Atheism

Centre for Public Christianity offers the following articles
Response to the Global Atheism Conference by Greg Clarke
New Atheism just another Dogma
Atheism, sceptism and belief

Katheryn Rivas @ Lutheranwriter.blogspot.com
offers a short article; Responding to the New Atheism

Alister McGrath's
Offers a critique of the New  Atheism

Issues etc.
Atheist Fundamentalism
Atheist and De-baptising
New Atheism
Responding to New Atheism

John Lennox
regularly debates high profile New Atheists in public.
He is a professor of mathematics.
His site offers a number of resources
Obtain a copy of His talks he gave in sydney in 2011

Lutheran Hour Ministry
a short discussion on Witnessing to an atheist

A few books

This is only a small selection of resources relating to New Atheism from a Christian perspective, if you have come across other resources that you have found helpful please let me know so i can share them with others...... richardschwedes@gmail.com

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Principle of excellence in Contemporary Worship

Pastor Steen Olsen developed a 2 page paper on some of the principles that encourage excellence in contemporary worship.  
This paper can be viewed at  http://www.lutheran.org.nz/file_downloads/Excellence%20in%20Contemporary%20Worship.pdf

Monday, September 05, 2011

Paper: Worship and Outreach a Lutheran pardigm

This paper explore the need for a Lutheran paradignm of worship and outreach.

Main points covered include:
  • Necessity of a Lutheran paradigm of worship and outreach.
  • The balancing act of a Lutheran paradigm of worship and outreach.
  • Characteristics of a Lutheran paradigm of worship and outreach.
  • A Lutheran paradigm is invitational in character
  • A Lutheran paradigm is Gospel centred
  • A Lutheran paradigm makes the worship experience accessible to the unchurched
  • A Lutheran paradigm prioritizes preaching
  • A Lutheran paradigm is Sacramental
  • A Lutheran paradigm addresses children
  • A Lutheran paradigm uses the marks of the church to lead the marks of the church
  • A Lutheran paradigm features faithful follow up

To read the entire paper visit http://worshipandoutreach.org/paper/60/worship-and-outreach-lutheran-paradigm

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lutheran response to Africa's worse famine in 60 years

The Australian Lutheran World Service is actively responding to the worse famine in 60 years in Africa...watch both these videos to discover how they are at work and how you can make a difference with them

Monday, June 27, 2011

Discussion starter: Effective missional and ministry buildings

Anyone who has spent time talking about the church.....
would have heard that the church is not the building....
it is God's people gathering together to hear the Word, talk about the Word and participate in God's sacraments....
And people need effective places to gather...
which is where the role of church buildings come in.

Whether you have a permenant structure, multi purpose building or one you use casually; How effective is your gathering space for ministry and mission?

Is it out of date???...(this is a touchy one for some, but here is the reality what was appropriate and acceptable 50 years ago is often far from acceptable either safety wise, technology wise, comfort wise or  accessibility wise for many people especially younger people).

Is your building helping people hear and participate in the Gospel?
Does it hinder or enhance relationships before and after worship services or even during worship services?

Lutheran Church Planting network: FiveTwo

FiveTwo is churchplanting network supported by Lutheran Church Missouri Synod church planters.

On their about page....they say they are more about doing than talking

There is a strong emphasis on:
Connecting with other church planters
Learning -there are short teaching online videos
Services - providing access to consultants
They also hold a wikiconference each year...videos of sessions from this conference are available on their facebook page....

Even if you are not a church planter but involved in a local church they offer some great teaching and insights


Monday, May 16, 2011

Book: Love Wins by Rob Bell Reviews and discussion

The book Love Wins by Rob Bell is capturing the headlines in Christian circles, creating some lively discussion.

Some are saying.....it hits the core of the Gospel message...life is all about what God has done for us...and that what Rob Bell is emphasising
Others are saying....well it seems to erase a lot of the bible....and even Rob Bell is attempting to develop his own job description for GOD....
And others are keen to simply dismiss it as a waste of time....
And at least Love Wins....has something to say....and if we ask what is it saying not about God but about the questions people maybe thinking....if not asking about God...

And if you haven't read Love Wins or  would like some information about what others think....bellow are some reviews, discussuon and articles

Mike Newman LCMS Mission Director review
Lutheran Theology Study Group Singapore
Crunchy Lutheran Mummy (LCMS)
The Gospel Coalition - a comprehensive review
Two handed warriors
Mark Galli  Christianity Today
ABC Australia Religion and Ethics
Love Wins - join the discussion
Women of the ELCA
Martin Basher interview - video

If you can suggest any other suitable reviews or articles    

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Lutheran Liturgy to Lutheran Living

Lutheran Liturgy to Lutheran Living

Lutheran Liturgy to Lutheran Living is an open access site designed to provide free resources and ideas for churches to use to support its members and assist them in their growth in prayer, worship and missions leading up to the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Lutheran Liturgy to Lutheran Living is committed to upholding and supporting the Lutheran confessions and reflecting the beliefs of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Lutheran Living will uphold and support the practices of all Lutheran synods that encourage us to become the church Christ is calling us to be- all things to all people, in all nations, for the cause of Christ. 1 Cor. 9:19-2

BIBLE STUDIES The goal of Bible studies is to provide opportunities for a congregation and its members to discuss and learn more about prayer and worship and as a church to ask ourselves, “Can we as the church, pray and worship even more expressively when we gather in His name?” Then, can we leave the sanctuary with the “shoes of the Gospel” and make everything we do an act of worship? Can we better achieve our mission goals of reaching others when they see our prayer and worship is authentic?

CHURCH PROJECTS The goal of Church Projects is for churches to build churches within their church. The Gathering Church (Welcoming Church), The Jubilant Church, (The Joyful Church) The Praying Church (The Ministering Church), and the Resonant Church (The Reaching Church), are all areas where the Holy Spirit can work in the lives of His people and breath a sense of mission and ministry into committed members of a congregation. These members can then build enthusiasm for the ministry and soon the church is full harvest workers. Everyone arrives at worship eager to celebrate the work of the Lord. Start one church at time by identifying those in the church with the gifts needed to make the church thrive and support them to develop programs that will encourage others to participate.

GLOBAL MISSIONS The goal of Global Missions is to help us see the Lutheran Church as much bigger than just our own congregation. Through the use of technology, perhaps as simple as e-mail or SKYPE, we want to encourage small group bible studies and entire congregations to worship and work together. If you are a small struggling congregation, you are not alone, there are 1,000’s of congregations to support and encourage you. If you are a large congregation, why not share what God has given you with other churches that may just be starting up? Over the next seven years we want to increase our peripheral vision of God’s kingdom!

making a small town congregation an evangelistic community

Making a small town congregation an evangelistic community
A project that covers

The Evangelism Task -  setting the Word loose
The mission field
Broadening the Word's presence
Deepening the Word's presence

Small Group/Cell Church Ideas

Cell Ideas

Cell-Ideas is authored by Tim Britton, an Anglican vicar in rural Warwickshire, England.
Cell-Ideas have ideas for
  • members of church cell groups
  • leaders of cell groups
  • church leaders
  • The Big Idea: the basis of church life
  • an introduction to cells
  • Ideas for Meetings
  • Using cells to assist the rural church
  • Welcoming ideas
  • Worship ideas
  • Word ideas
  • Witnessing ideas

CF Walther Sermon: The Holy desire and duty of all Christians to lead souls to Christ

The Holy Desire and Duty of all Christians to Lead Souls to Christ
By C.F.W. Walther

The 12th Sunday after Trinity Sunday, 1842

+ from +

On the Gospels of the Church Year
Collected from his written legacy
St. Louis, Missouri
Lutheran Concordia Publisher, A.D. 1890

Translated by Rev. Donald Pohlers

May God give you all grace and peace through the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ, our Lord! Amen!
Beloved brothers and sister in Christ Jesus!
Christ has founded a Church on earth, in which the most perfect equality should exist. It (this equality) should indeed not be established according to the model of a secular state. In the Church no one should be the highest (in rank), supreme, (or) the first; no one, the ruler; no one, the master (or commander). This is a fundamental teaching of all Christendom. Whoever is really a member of the true Church, the same is like (equal to) all of the others (Members of the true Church). Each has the same baptism, the same faith, the same Christ, the same righteousness, the same hope of eternal life, the same eternal and heavenly possession (and what pertains to it) of salvation in Christ Jesus.
As long as the world endures, an external difference between human beings will indeed prevail: one is rich, another poor; one is respected by the world, another is devalued (or disdained); one will enjoy prominent status in the world (and) one will be of humble status; one will be intelligent and one will be uneducated (the German word: simple). However, in the Kingdom of God, in the Church, this makes no difference (These differences are inconsequential). Even if the gifts, the offices (positions), the accomplishments are varied, they (Christians) all nevertheless remain equal members (of the Church) before God. All have the same power (authority). None is subordinate to another.
If a government exists within the boundaries of the Church, it certainly can command the Church (viz. Require obedience) in something. However, in such a case, Christians obey, not as members of the Church or the Kingdom of God, but as subordinates of the secular kingdom.
It is an irrevocable word, which Jesus Christ spoke and confessed before Pontius Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world. If My Kingdom were of this world, then My servants would fight. Now, however, it is not thence (from here.).
The greatest harm has arisen from this (this situation): when a few have desire to rule. In the apostolic era the most perfect equality prevailed and, thereby, the most loving unity and the most wonderful blessings (ensued). At that time all Christian were considered to be spiritual priests, and no one was despised or put down. However, in subsequent ages, the more the spiritual (read: ecclesiastical status) asserted itself over other Christians, the more the Church degenerated and assumed the form of a secular kingdom. Shepherds became tyrants who did not provide for the sheep with nourishment by using the shepherds’ staff in a gentle manner. Instead, they ruled with an iron scepter (as if they were lords) and finally led the sheep to the slaughter. The father confessors became confessional torturers; providers of the care of souls (This is the usual German word among Lutherans for "pastor") became tormentors of the soul; advisors of the conscience became rulers of the conscience. Finally, at the time of the Reformation, a marvelous light burst into the nocturnal darkness. God’s Word emerged. This (event) caused the children of God to throw off the shameful yoke of men and (once again) to enjoy sweet Christian liberty.
If a Christian congregation now does not wish to return again to the yoke placed upon it by men – to an ungodly dependence (the German word: immaturity), then, it must maintain its precious right of being a spiritual priesthood, which is (the common) possession of all Christians – namely, the right to sacrifice, to pray, to search the Scriptures, to test and evaluate all teachings (as its right), to teach one another, to admonish, to discipline, and to comfort one another. Where this right and duty is not recognized or practiced, there God’s Word cannot long endure. No blessing is there. No zeal can remain. Finally, everything will deteriorate into (spiritual) sleep, laziness, indifference. (In such a situation) instead of leading and carrying (one another) (Christians) will be led (astray) and carried (by another) – (blindly) led but not determining (Truth). The end result will necessarily be contempt and rejection of the truth. For that reason it is my duty to instruct you zealously and repeatedly, my beloved, regarding this right and duty. Let me now speak to you about a portion of this issue – namely, about the duty of all Christians also to lead souls to Christ.
31And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. 32And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. 33And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; 34And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. 35And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. 36And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; 37And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

A wonderful example is laid upon our hearts in the Gospel which was read, my dearly beloved brothers and sisters in the Lord. In the region of the Sea of Galilee there was a man who was simultaneously deaf and mute. That was a sad condition. He not only could not hear the precious Gospel of Christ, but also lacked speech with which to call upon Christ for aid. Others (however) took pity on him and brought him to Christ, and, on his behalf, sought help from Christ. Christ heard their petition and helped the wretched man in a wonderful manner. Christ no longer walks visibly among us, but He still helps invisibly in (dealing with the needs of) our souls and bodies. Therefore, we can still show favor to others who are spiritually deaf mutes by bringing them to Christ. Thus, I demonstrate to you now:
"The holy desire and duty of all Christians to lead souls to Christ." (In proclaiming this theme) we will observe two points:
  1. that all Christians have this sacred desire and duty;
  2. in which manner they (Christians) are to exercise this duty.
Lord Jesus Christ, You one true High Priest, Who offered Yourself on the wood of the cross in order to acquire for us sinners the royal priesthood, grant that we may learn to know it (this teaching) rightly from Your holy Word. Help us also through Your grace to fulfill our holy priestly duties by Your grace to Your honor and to the salvation of the ourselves and many (other) souls. To that end, awaken and strengthen us in this hour for Your sake. Amen.
The main point, my Beloved, is that each human being should personally and correctly recognize Christ first of all and from the heart believe in Him. It would be absurd to lead others to Christ, if one himself were not close (to Him). In that case a blind man would want to show the way to (another) blind man and both would fall in the (spiritual) ditch. Thus, although it is godless in temporal matters to be selfish, in spiritual issues it is righteous – each should be neighbor to himself. No one can redeem another. Therefore, each should be concerned first of all for his (own) soul, to bring his (own) soul to safety. Then, he should see how he may bring others to grace. First, one must become acquainted with the treasures of Christ himself and enjoy them (personally) before one can boast of them to others. However, whoever has learned, by God’s grace, that the Bible is God’s eternal Word, whoever has discovered that the Gospel is a power of God to sanctify all who believe in it; whoever can say: I know the One in Whom I believe, I have found the Ground, which holds my anchor eternally – such an one will then certainly perceive a heartfelt compulsion to bring others to possess the grace in which he is so blessed. Such a Christian sees with pain and agony that so many thousands in the world are still spiritual deaf mutes who do not know Christ, do not believe in Him, do not love Him and are not yet in a state of blessedness in Him. The pitiable condition of the world strikes at his heart (because it reveals a condition) which is sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but (always) in a state of repudiating Christ and (therefore) perishing. With concern the Christian looks at his neighbor about whom he probably knows that he (the neighbor) does not know the Gospel. With sighing he looks at former friends, from whom he has had to separate because they did not wish to walk the way of grace and (divine) blessedness with him. With a sorrowful heart the Christian husband looks at his unchristian wife; the Christian wife, the unchristian husband; the parents, such children; the children, such parents; the brothers, such sisters and the sisters, such brothers - those who do not yet believe in the Gospel. Christians desire to convince the whole world to abandon sin and vanity and adopt (receive) Christ. This holy desire to lead souls to Christ originates as soon as the light of true faith – and with it the fire to true love – comes into the soul of a person. This holy desire is inseparable from true faith. Whoever does not have (this) desire to bring other human beings to the knowledge of the Gospel, which produces salvation, he surely has not yet experienced the heavenly power of it (salvation). As soon a David had prayed successfully for forgiveness and comfort from God, he (David) spoke at once in the fifty-first Psalm: "I want to teach sinners Your way so that the sinner may be converted to You." As soon as Andrew recognized Christ, he (Andrew) hurried to his brother Simon and cried out to him (Simon): "We found the Messiah" and led him directly to Jesus. Phillip did the same. When he met his friend, Nathaniel, he said, "We have found the One of Whom Moses spoke in the law and the prophets wrote about – Jesus, Joseph’s Son, from Nazareth." We hear a similar account of the Samaritan woman at the well of Jacob: she had hardly recognized that the One Who spoke to her was the Messiah, when she abandoned her jar and hurried into town to tell people: "Come and see a man Who told me everything I ever did – see whether He is Christ." Luther states beautifully: "When a Christian begins to recognize Christ as the his Lord and Savior, through Whom he (the Christian) has been delivered from death, then his heart is possessed by God so that he (the Christian) knows no greater joy – this is his treasure – then that someone else (also) recognizes Christ. For that reason he (the Christian) goes out, teaches and admonishes others, boasts of and confesses the same to everyone, begs and sighs with the goal that they might come to such grace. It is a restless spirit (with) in the greatest rest, that is, in God’s grace and peace. He cannot be still or listless, but always contends and strives with all his might, as his one reason for living (raison d’etre) that he might bring God’s praise and honor among people." Thus far, Luther.
Yet, my Beloved, a Christian through faith receives not only such a desire to lead souls to Christ. He also has a sacred duty. No one should say, "I am not a minister, a teacher, a preacher. Such an one (i.e., a minister, a teacher, or a preacher) may teach, admonish, comfort, convert, and lead to Christ. I, however, wish to remain in my calling (i.e., non-professional church member)." No, my Christian, you are baptized and through holy baptism every Christian is dedicated, ordained and installed into office to teach, admonish, comfort, and discipline his neighbor. Through holy baptism a Christian has received not only power and authority and the right, but also the high and holy obligation to guard and to sustain against the loss of divine grace and to assist to the end that others are enlightened and brought to Christ, the bishop of their souls. Indeed James says, "God has begotten us according to His will through the Word of truth so that we are the first (born) of His creatures." Again, John says, "Christ has made us kings and priests before God and His Father." And, finally, St. Peter says, "You are a chosen generation, the royal priesthood, the holy people, the people of (God’s) possession that you should make known the virtue of the One Who has called you from darkness to His wonderful light."
Go through all of the chief parts of the catechism. You will find in each the command that a Christian should provide for the salvation of the soul of his neighbor. The holy ten commandments require us to love our neighbor as ourselves. How can we do this, when we see his soul perishing and we are not permitted to help him out(of this predicament)? In the second chief part we confess a fellowship of the saints. How could this spiritual fellowship be preserved, if one were not able to serve the other? In the third chief part Christians are taught to pray to God as to their common Father. How could they do this, if they do not recognize each other as brethren, and, if they do not in fraternal love teach, admonish, and correct one another? How could they pray, "Thy Kingdom come," if they themselves wished to do nothing to advance the Kingdom of God? In the fourth chief part we are instructed concerning baptism: that we all thereby have become members of the body of Jesus Christ. If we are all members of this spiritual body, isn’t it necessary for one member to serve another lest the body be torn apart? Just as (it is) with our body—the members (serve one another): the eye must serve the foot and the hand (must serve) the mouth. Thus, one congregational member must also serve another lest the whole be disrupted. According to the fifth chief part we are all fed by one bread and given to drink from one chalice in order to seal our innermost fellowship. Does not the Holy (Lord’s) Supper demand from us that one care about the soul of the other, as he does for his own? There is no doubt: while God insists on love for everyone from everyone, He thereby makes each the caretaker (provider for) of souls of others according to the calling of Christian love.
Indeed, it is true: not everyone is a minister or bishop in the Christian congregation. God is a God of order. For the sake of order it is always required that only one or a few be chosen from the congregation and they, in the name (stead) of all, administer the rights of the spiritual priesthood publicly. However, just as in the construction of a visible church (building) the building supervisors are not the only workers who organize and lead. They necessarily have many helpers.
In the same way also the invisible Church is a building (in progress) in which, not only the called servants of Christ work, but all Christians must lend a hand. Christ speaks to His Heavenly Father, "I do not pray that You take them out of the world but that You preserve them from evil." Thus, Christ does not wish that His Christians abandon the world outwardly and conceal themselves in monasteries. No, the true Church should be right in the middle of the world, and its members should shine as lights among it (the world) and should illuminate the world. Christians should be the salt which seasons the whole world and preserves it from rottenness. The Christian Church is a huge mission launching pad (German: house), and each Christian, a missionary sent out by God in(to) his (the Christian’s) sphere (of activity) to convert other human beings to Christ, to invite them to the celestial wedding, to call them to the Kingdom of God and to woo fighters everywhere by the eternal jewels and soldiers into the army of Christ. God gives His spiritual gifts not only to preachers and teachers, but also to laymen who are not in the public office. They, too, often have the most wonderful gifts: a splendid knowledge of Christian doctrine, a superior gift of understanding and interpretation of the Scripture, a marvelous gift of testing the sprits and refuting the erring, a magnificent gift of governing, comforting, admonishing, praying, and so on. Has God given these gifts to ordinary Christians in vain? Isn’t God clearly indicating that each Christian is to be a coworker in His vineyard? Indeed, the Lord says not only to Peter, but to all Christians, "Once you are converted, then strengthen your brethren." Speaking of all Christians St. James says, "Dear brethren, if someone errs from the truth and someone converts him, that person has delivered (German: helped) his soul from death and covered many sins." My dear ones, if we encountered a person lying helpless in bodily misery, wounded and beaten, we would consider it our duty to offer assistance and not wait for a regular (i.e., official) doctor. We (would) bind his wounds and transport him to a place where (his needs) can be addressed. (Thus also) we consider ourselves called through the call to Christian love. If a Christian finds a person wounded in his soul and he (any Christian) is able to offer assistance, he should not think, "How does this (situation) concern me? The spiritual doctor, the preacher, may come and help him." No, O Christian, here you have the calling of love which has been given to you. Yes, if the priest and Levite passed by the wretched man, you should show yourself all the more zealously to be a compassionate Samaritan.
Certainly and without doubt a preacher above all others has the duty to lead souls to Christ. Initially, he must show them how much they need Christ. Then, how much Christ has done for them. Finally, how they may reach Christ and abide in Him. In that duty he is never to give up, never to cease praying, admonishing and to implore, "Let yourselves be reconciled to God." It is equally certain that parents have a special duty to lead their children to Christ and to bring them up in the discipline and admonition of the Lord. If parents fulfill their obligation to provide for the bodily needs of their children and also the refinement of their understanding through good instruction—nevertheless, the main duty (of parents) is to make their children acquainted with their Savior early (in life). They must dedicate their child to the Savior already when it is in the cradle, and among everything else it experiences, it should learn to pray, "Daddy, dear Father." God will hold parents and guardian accountable for the souls of children; for they (the children) have been entrusted to them (i.e., parents and guardians) for the purposes that they (children) be brought to the salvific knowledge of their Savior, that they may be preserved from the seduction of the world and led on the way to heaven. God has established father and mother in the home as caretakers of the souls (of their children). Especially the husband has the sacred duty to lead his wife to Christ and to keep her in Him. She is bound to his (the husband’s) soul. If he wishes to be her head, he should carry her in his heart and must be her spiritual father. The teacher also has a special obligation to his students; the master (head) of the house, to his companions at home; the superior to his subordinates; the elder to the younger. It was not in vain that God entrusted (German: loaned) certain powers to one person over others. Each should utilize (his special position/advantage) to assist souls, to proclaim Christ to them and to further His (Christ’s) honor. Yes, even a friend has a special obligation over against an old (long time) friend, if the long time friend is now perhaps going another way. God did not bring you together with others for no reason. He did not inspire the trust and love of others for you without a purpose. You are to make use of these things to lead souls to Him, Who caused your soul to find grace.
However, dear ones, if someone has a special duty (to proclaim Christ), that does not mean other Christians are excluded from it. Here there is no difference. St. Paul says, "Here there is no Jew, Greek, no servant or free man, no man or woman. You are all one in Christ Jesus." Not only men but also women, not only the elderly but also children are spiritual priests and teachers of the world. Joel (the Prophet) had already announced in prophecy regarding the New Testament era, when he said, "And it will happen in the last days, says God, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. And your sons and your daughters will prophesy; your youths will see visions; your elderly will have dreams; and I will pour out My Spirit on your servants and maidens and they will prophesy." Although the holy apostle commands that women should be silent in the public (gathering of) the congregation so that they may not forget they are to be under the authority of their husbands, nevertheless, we find many wonderful examples of women who privately taught with blessings and won many souls to Christ. Thus, Pricilla taught Appollos the way of God diligently. So also did the four daughters of Phillip, who prophesied together—that is, teaching in their houses with divine understanding (German: illumination). The holy Apostle boasted of Phoebe, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Evodia, and Syntyche that they had accomplished much in the Lord and had struggled together with him for the Gospel.
Thus, my dear ones, you see from this: the office of Preacher or Caretaker of souls has not been instituted so that no one else is responsible for teaching or the care of souls. No, the whole congregation is to be a holy people, a royal priesthood. Each Christian should bear the needs of the soul of his neighbor in his heart and assist in the advance of the salvific Gospel (in the lives) of men so that the kingdom of Satan in the world is destroyed and the Kingdom of God expanded. Oh, how differently things would look; how much greater and more wonderful would be the blessing of the Word of God, if each Christian recognized his holy calling and administered his royal priesthood. With that in mind the Apostle cries to the Corinthians, "Strive to love. Be zealous for the spiritual gifts, but primarily for the gift of prophesying Christ’s message of salvation." (The German imperative is plural, denoting all of the people)."
Thus my dear ones, among Christians everything should be done orderly and honorably. Now, let me show you, as my second point, in which manner Christians are to practice their sacred duty to lead souls to Christ.
The fact that God instituted the office of preaching—beside the spiritual priesthood of all Christians—in order to teach the Gospel publicly, to administer the sacraments and to handle the keys to the Kingdom of heaven for the sake of order is beyond our disputing. There are called public servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Therefore, on the basis of this (recognized teaching) we acknowledge that no one is permitted to despise or neglect the public office of preaching because he himself is a spiritual priest. Indeed, a Christian will agree with the assertion of David: "Whatever God orders is praiseworthy and wonderful." Furthermore, no one may even conclude: "I am a spiritual priest and, thus, also a public preacher." On the contrary, for that to be true you must have a special and proper (orderly) call; for whatever happens in the name of all must first of all be commissioned in the name of all. The letter to the Hebrews states: "No one assumes for himself the honor, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was." James also says: "Dear brethren, not everyone should undertake to be a teacher. Rather, you should know that we (who are) will be all the more accountable." Whoever then presumes to be and asserts himself as a public teacher such a person acts against God; and no one should listen to him on pain of God’s disapproval.
Indeed, there are emergencies—that is, times—in which the administration of the office is necessary and yet no called servant is available. That (situation) is the first case in which each Christian, as a spiritual priest, can step forward and do the work in the name of Christ. If a woman baptizes in an emergency, if a layman absolves in a circumstance of need, then a baptism and absolution is right, godly, and valid—just as if (these acts) were done by St. Peter and, yes, by Christ Himself. Indeed, if a Christian were to come to a place where there are no (other) Christians, he is able even to step up and preach the Gospel publicly. If his listeners receive God’s Word (favorably), a true Church has begun (to exist) by (the work of) such a preacher and (it) possesses all the properties of the Church. (Furthermore,) whoever is chosen in such a Church is a true servant of Jesus Christ, an established bishop and follower of the holy apostles. Thus, we read in the history of the Christian Church that all of Ethiopia was brought to the knowledge of Christ by two enterprising (i.e., these young people took advantage of their situation for Christ) Christian young men by the names of Aedesius and Frumentius, who arrived there as a result of a maritime journey.
Yet, these are only exceptional (i.e., infrequent) cases where each Christian, as a spiritual priest, is able to lead souls to Christ. This office has a much greater role in the Church. Whoever is a Christian head of the house should also practice his spiritual priesthood at home on a continual basis over against (his) wife and child, proving his role as a true bishop (to them) on a daily basis—especially in the morning and at evening, transforming his house into a church. With his family he should pray and teach them to pray, read and interpret the Scripture with them and for them, discipline the sins of his family based on God’s Word, and encourage his family to walk accordingly (to God’s word). He should inspire them to come to Christ (the German word, "locken." Means to lure or entice), comfort them in all terrors of conscience and show them the means they are to use in order to conduct a true Christian (life) and from which perils to the soul they are to protect themselves. Oh, my Beloved, if only every home were such a church! How mightily would the knowledge (of Christ), faith, and divine blessedness grow in the whole congregation.
Moreover, this practice of spiritual priesthood is not only possible for fathers and mothers in the home but for all Christians in their circumstances and callings. Even, if one is not a father in the home, he nevertheless has a brother, sister, acquaintance or relative, a male or female friend. When he associates with them, let him consider that he has become a spiritual priest through holy baptism, that he has entered into a covenant with God to enter His (God’s) service. Every Christian should seize the opportunity zealously to speak something good: he should tell what God has done for him. He should win over the erring. He should admonish the frivolous and lazy, disciplining those who are downcast. O my Beloved, what good is it to claim for ourselves as a right (of being Christian) the spiritual priesthood, while declining to fulfill its duties? What good is it, if we call ourselves spiritual priests, but, when we come together, (we) neglect and abandon the priestly office? How does it help to have the name without the deed?
Indeed, should it not cause a Christian to be afraid, if he has been in a group (of people) and not spoken a good word? He may have indeed seen sins but did not reproach them? He had opportunity to edify others but did not avail himself of it? Are such people priestly Christians? Do such (people) recognize their lofty calling? Today groups (of people) are pleased if we laugh and joke with them, but how will we (stand) to listen to our friends speak to us before God’s throne one day? They will say: "You saw me erring and sinning and you did not reprove (me). You saw my soul in jeopardy and you did not warn me. You should have redeemed the time with me, but you joined me in squandering it. You could have been able to assist me to progress in my Christianity, but through vain speech you seduced me and withheld from me the truth. You didn’t love me; you despised my soul You should have helped me to be saved, but, in fact, you are responsible for my (eternal) loss."
God be praised, my dear ones, that we once again possess the correct doctrine of the spiritual priesthood. From God’s Word we know (that) each Christian is to be a teacher of the Gospel in his life situation. Therefore, let us now finally convert this doctrine into life. (Let us) reform not only doctrine but life.
Where we have a friend with whom we associate let us think in this manner: God has brought me together with him (the friend) so that I may either bring him to Christ or preserve him in Christ. When we participate in a group let us think in this way: God has called me here (hither) so that, as a priest, I may further the common growth and (so that I) should be a blessing to all who are (here) gathered together. Yes, even when we are spiritual priests in their presence, may confess by word and deed and (thereby) afford them an opportunity that they may attain to the truth. Nothing happens by accident. As often as we find ourselves among the children of the world, we should ask ourselves: Can I be of help (German: use) to their souls? After all, children of the world rejoice when we are like them, when we deny our faith, when we confirm them in their ungodly talk—even if we were to do that only with a friendly expression. However, (if we were to do that) they will one day accuse us before God and say; "I frequently was in your company; you knew how one (must) be saved, but you said nothing to me. I was a spiritual deaf mute; I didn’t know Christ; I could not pray to Him. You should have led me to Christ, but you said nothing to me about Christ. In order not to lose my favor. You were silent about the truth which makes (one) blessed. You were calling yourself a spiritual priest, but you cared nothing (did not provide) for my soul."
Indeed, we should not throw that which is sacred to the dogs, as God’s Word says. That is, we should not push the Gospel upon (German: force it upon) anyone who despises or mocks it. However, whenever we are able to lead a soul to Christ or defend the honor of Christ, then we should not let up in (our) zeal or because of fear, cease to bear witness to the truth courageously.
Oh, what a joy it will be, when, in eternity, many a person will approach us and say to us: "O brother, O sister, you saved my soul. I came to you and you admonished, you disciplined, you enticed me with the Gospel, you comforted me, you showed me the way to Christ. And see—without you noticing, in (your) words Christ spoke the "Ephetha" into the ear of my spirit. From that moment I became a Christian and now I am saved." Oh, what a joy that will be in all eternity to see souls around us, (souls) who through us (i.e., our efforts) came to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, (souls) who found the way to heaven through us (i.e., our witness). We ourselves, along with all the angels, will then exclaim with extreme joy: "The Lord has done all things well. To Him be honor and power forever and ever." Amen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What we can learn about the demise of a mega church?

Gordon Moyes the former pastor of Wesley City Mission and a NSW Legisaltive Council politician recently wrote an article called Cracks in the Crystal Cathedral....the main focus of the article is to highlight seven areas of why Crystal Catehderal difficulties that we can learn from You can read the article at http://www.gordonmoyes.com/2010/10/27/cracks-in-the-crystal-cathedral/

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lutheran Church of Australia Worship Planning page

The Worship Planning Page, is an initiative of the Commission on Worship to help lay people prepare and lead worship services in the Lutheran Church of Australia.

The aim of this site is to provide lay people with all the resources they need: sermons, bible readings from the lectionary, approved orders of service (in ready to print, rich text or PowerPoint formats) prayers and song/hymn suggestions.

The site is updated weekly with material for the coming Sunday.

New resources are being added to the library all the time and these will be added to the site as they become available.

You are also able to subscribe to receive a weekly email

Visit http://www.lca.org.au/worship/cowadmin/

Australian Contemporary Christian Music: EMU Music

Emu Music exists to resource churches with new songs of the Word and to train musicians in effective Biblical music ministry.

EMU music offers a range of quality congregational orientated Christian music for both Contemporary orientated congregations and children's ministry.  They are influenced by people who take God's word seriously.

Visit their site @ http://www.emumusic.com.au/ to view and listen to their songs and discover more about EMU Music

or visit the Amazon links below to listen to samples of their songs
Contemporary Congregational Music and Songs

Kids music

Video of Liturgical Services from Memorial Lutheran Church Houston

Memorial Lutheran Church Houston makes available their weekly worship service via video online visit http://mlchouston.org/mlc/resources/services/ to view them each week.

Free devotions for college and university students

Faithinkubators offer free email devotions for college and university students.....

Some parents and grandparents receive these and forward them to their children and grandchildren with a personal note....

visit http://www.faithink.com/Freebies/college.asp to subscribe

Monday, February 14, 2011

NIV bible translation updated

The NIV and TNIV bible translation are being updated..
Visit the Committee on Bible Translations to discover the reasons why, and how the 2011 NIV translation differes from the 1984 translation and the 2005 TNIV translation .

Christian Publishing and Outreach - contemporary publications & posters

Christian Publishing and Outreach  
offers a coordinated range of designs presenting a consistent message for you to personalise and invite your local community to your events and services. Products include:
•A variety of different invitations and cards – these can be personalised by us, using our professional typesetting and overprinting service, or online, using our online overprint facility or DIY
•Customised church publicity posters
•Colourful posters with a Christian message for use in every situation and location
•Church banners to display inside your church
•Customised vinyl banners to create maximum impact outside your church
•Roll-up banners, portable, comes with a carry bag and ideal for use where a temporary display is required

visit http://www.cpo.org.uk/ to discover more

Psalm settings

Roland Publishing has available Psalm settings for each week in the church lectionary year....available in either hard copy or cd.
Visit http://www.rolandpublishing.com/Sacred-Compositions.html for samples and details of how to order 

Biblical Training...some free...some @ a cost..available on line

The mission of BiblicalTraining is to help build healthy churches by providing world-class educational resources for making new and fully-formed disciples within the context of the local church.

About the courses
Their resources are divided into two basic parts:

Classes for free,
Certificate classes require payment.

Classes are divided into three parts.
1. New Believers are classes and resources design for the person who is beginning their spiritual journey. They also answer many questions non-believers have, and they are good materials for older Christians to work through to make sure they have an understanding of the basics of their faith.
2. Lay Training are generally ten hour classes created for the people in the church, including those moving into church leadership.
3. The Biblical Training Institute is a full seminary-level program of classes.

Courses on offer include
The Story of Jesus,

Now that I Believe. Your First Steps with God,
A Pocket Guide to New Testament Theology,
Dynamics of Christian Spirituality,
52 Major Stories of the Bible,
New Testament
Systematic Theology,
Biblical Theology,
World Religions
Spiritual Warfare,
Church History,
Communicating the Gospel
How to Study Your Bible
Introduction to Christian Education
Small Group Dynamics
Old Testament Survey Summary

Old Testament Survey
New Testament Survey: The Gospels
New Testament Survey: Acts-Revelation
Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospels and Acts
Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation
New Testament
Life of Christ
Inductive Bible Study
Biblical Hermeneutics
Biblical Greek
Greek Tools for Bible Study
Spiritual Formation
New Testament Theology
Old Testament Theology
Advanced Worldview Analysis
Christian Apologetics
Christian Ethics
History of Philosophy and Christian Thought
History of the English Bible
The Essential Luther
Martin Luther
Introduction to Islam
Introduction to Buddhism
Introduction to Hinduism
The World Mission of the Church
Theology of World Missions
Contemporary World Missions
Educational Ministry of the Church
Pastoral Theology
Introduction to Preaching
The focus of this training is to allow people to receive online training....whilst being involved in their local congregation.   Biblicaltraining.org want to see people learn within the context of relationships and their local church, and to be changed into Christ-likeness in the process.

for more information visit http://www.biblicaltraining.org/