Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Worship tool: Evangelism Connections

Evangelism Connections is an ecumenical tool for Christians who strive to frame evangelism, hospitality, and church vitality in a 21-st Century context and provide shared resources toward that end. We invite you to participate, comment, and share your own thoughts and ideas on sharing Jesus’ message in a postmodern world.

One resource they offer is a evangelism reflection based on a reading from Sunday's revised common lectionary...visit this resource here

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A thought: God's perfection

GOD'S PERFECTION...considering Matthew 5:38-48 is not about having the perfect body, wearing the right clothes, having the neatest house, room or workspace, being on time, producing a flawless product or service, getting 100% on an exam or test or any other perfection that we try to is about living in love and forgiveness in all situations and with all people!!!!  and that is hard to live up to...but we shouldn't stop trying!!!!

Article: Will your church have a Kodak moment

The Church’s Frightful Kodak Moment
From author Thom Schultz of 'Why nobody wants to go to church anymore!!'

We walked through the nearly empty, formerly flourishing space of the Kodak manufacturing plant near our home. The plant manager, a friend from church, sadly described how Kodak plants had been downsizing and closing ever since the advent of digital photography.

We have a wish here, he said. We just want to be the last one standing.? Kodak since abandoned most of its space on this campus. This week, the company announced the latest job eliminations.

My friend from church is gone. And I wonder...Is the church the next to go the way of Kodak? I see some chilling parallels.

Kodak dominated the photographic scene for more than 100 years. It commanded an 89 percent market share of photographic film sales in the United States. Almost everyone used the brand. And the company’s advertising language of a “Kodak moment” became part of the common lexicon.

What happened since then has become a colossal story of failure and missed opportunities. A gigantic casualty in the wake of digital photography–a technology that Kodak invented.

That’s right. Kodak engineer Steve Sasson invented the first digital camera in 1975. He later said, “But it was filmless photography, so management’s reaction was, ‘That’s cute, but don’t tell anyone about it.’” And the company entered into decades of agonizing decline, unable to perceive and respond to the advancing digital revolution. In 2012, this American icon filed for bankruptcy.

How could this happen? Where did the leaders of this once-proud organization go wrong? And how might the American church, which has also entered a time of decline, resemble this story?

Signs of Demise
1. A misunderstanding of mission. Kodak’s leaders thought they were in the film business–instead of the imaging business. Their clutching of the traditional methodology clouded their ability to think about the real objective and outcome of their work. The same is happening in churches that confuse their methodologies and legacies with the real mission. Many church leaders believe they’re in the traditional preaching business, the teaching business, the Sunday morning formula business. Clinging to the ways these things have been done diverts the focus from the real mission of helping people today develop an authentic and growing relationship with the real Jesus.

2. Failure to read the times. Kodak’s leaders didn’t recognize the pace and character of change in the culture. They thought people would never part with hard prints. They derided the new technology. They assumed that people, even if they wandered off to try digital photography, would return to film-based photos for the perceived higher quality. People did not return. Similarly, church leaders who assume that the current church decline is just a cyclical blip will be left to sweep out the empty factories of 20th century religion.

3. Fear of loss. A central reason Kodak chose not to pursue digital photography in 1992 was the fear of cannibalizing their lucrative sales of film. Kodak had become a hostage of its own success, clinging to what worked in the past at the expense of embracing the future. The same tendency befalls churches. A pastor in our upcoming documentary, When God Left the Building, said his church will not make any changes to become more effective because someone will inevitably object and get upset. “We abdicate every time,” he said. “We just can’t lose any more members.” That congregation is already dead. They just don’t know it.

Turning Around
The Kodak story didn’t need to take such a dismal turn. And neither does the story of the American church. The times call for proactive steps for a brighter future if we’re willing to learn from others’ mistakes. Some thoughts to consider:

1. Accept and understand reality. Even though some of the decline is slow, it’s real. The American church is fading. (See the cold facts in our new book Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore.) Work through the data and the realities with your staff and lay leaders. Do not be misled by anecdotal glimmers of numerical growth in isolated examples. Examine the overall trends in the country. And look past the easy measures of butts in seats, and ask deeper questions about true spiritual vitality. And resist the temptation to defend the status quo.

2. Don’t just tweak. Revolutionize. Once digital photography began to take off, Kodak tried tweaking their old models. It was a case of too little too late. Many churches today are tweaking with cosmetic changes–in music, church names, and pastoral facial hair. A church leader in our documentary said if his traditional church would just install screens, the people will come. They won’t. It’s too late for tweaking. It’s time to re-examine everything we’re doing and re-evaluate. Ask big questions. Is the old Sunday morning formula of half sing-along and half lecture what works anymore? Is that performance on Sunday morning really how we want to define the sum total of the church anyway?

3. Take some risks. Experiment. Act now. At Group Publishing and Lifetree Cafe, we talk with hundreds of pastors and church leaders every week, many of whom are discouraged. As we brainstorm with them about changes they might try to enhance their ministries, some sink into paralysis. “People may not like the change,” they say. “What if it doesn’t work?” And we ask, “What are you afraid of?” It’s time to have some faith–faith that God will walk with the faithful who are willing to step out and risk a little love on his behalf. Try something. Experiment. Let your people experiment. Be bold. Don’t delay.

Kodak failed and squandered tremendous opportunities because its leaders chose to defend the status quo. We can learn from their mistakes. And we have an additional resource on our side–God. He’s not giving up on his church. He’s already moving into the future. We need to muster the courage to move with him.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Lent including Ash Wednesday Resources

Following are some resources relating to Lent that may help you in your planning and Lenten observance

LENT videos
A video to explain Lent

Another video explaining Lent

Lent Reflection

A reflective video for Lent

SKIT GUYS Lent videos are available here

Lutheran Church of Australia – Ash Wednesday Service

Children, Youth and Family Ministry Lent resource from Grow Ministries - GIFT

Offers links to general resources, lent planning, reconciliation resources, art and resources, devotionals and  articles

Ministry Matters

Faithful Lutheran Resources from Cyberbrethran

Lenten Resources from Solapublishing

The Worship Well
Links to a variety of Lent and Holy Week resources

Lutheran Hour Ministries – Lent devotion,  My God, My God why have you forsaken me?
can be personalised for congregational distribution

North Eastern Iowa Synod (ELCA) – Lent ideas
includes resources for home, church, school, Lenten fair, dramas plus many other creative ideas

Lenten series and devotionals – more than Gold

ELCA – world hunger Lenten pack

Emmaus Lutheran Church – Alberta
Resources that include Lenten and Easter Devotions, explanation of Lent, radio episodes relating to Lent, papers, articles, Youth resources

Concordia Publishing House

Augsburg Fortress

Lenten Series suggestions
The Jesus Questions

Nine essential questions about life and faith

Peace Lutheran Church, Great Falls Montana
"You Know Best" Ash Wednesday --
 Pastor Schlund's sermon from Ash Wednesday (3/9/2011) based on the text from Luke 22:1-6
"You Have to be A Rock" –
Pastor Schlund's sermon from the 2nd Wednesday in Lent based on the text from Matthew 26:40-41
"Sit Back and Wait" --
Pastor Schlund's sermon from the 3rd Wednesday in Lent based on the text from Matthew 26:57-58
"A Little is Ok" --
Pastor Schlund's sermon from the 4th Wednesday of Lent based on the text from Matthew 26:69-75
"Church Leaders Are Always Right" --
Pastor Schlund's sermon from the Lenten Lies series based on the text from John 18:28
"Entertainment Is Always Good" --
Pastor Schlund's sermon in the Lenten Lies series based on the text from Luke 23:4-9
"Only Bread and Wine" -- Maundy Thursday --
Pastor Schlund's sermon from Maundy Thursday based on the text from Matthew 26:26-28
"Death is Always Bad" -- Good Friday --
Pastor Schlund's sermon from Good Friday based on the text from John 19:30

From United Methodist Church – Preach a topical series….
On the first Sunday in Lent, preach about the freedom and power God gives God's people to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.
On the second Sunday in Lent, explore what it means to confess Jesus Christ as your Savior.
 On the third Sunday in Lent, talk about the responsibility of others -- parents, sponsors, mentors, and church members -- to take seriously their role in the covenant and the continuing need to reaffirm their own baptismal covenant.
On the fourth Sunday in Lent, discuss the Apostles' Creed and its historical and theological role in our baptismal faith.
On the fifth Sunday in Lent, consider the welcome that states "Through baptism you are incorporated by the Holy Spirit into God's new creation and made to share in Christ's royal priesthood. We are all one in Christ Jesus."

How does reflecting upon our baptismal covenant during the season of Lent help to prepare us for the Easter proclamation? How are we transformed by the journey?

Church for Men

There has been much discussion.....some official....some behind the scenes that many congregations have neglected men.....

Church for men is a site that encourages discussion and reflection on how the church may improve in its ministry to men....

Visit Church for Men at

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Devotional thought: The benefit of persevering with God

When life is tough...when things are not going as smoothly as you thought ...when others seem to get treated better than is easy to loose heart and give up.
However giving up guarantees you will miss out on something!!!
In the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.....there was a surprise silver medalist....David Morris in the men's aerials competition....but it almost didn't happen
News reports say
He was committed to competitive aerial skiing, however constantly there were set backs and he encountered many obstacles.   Other aerial skiers were assisted by the Australian Winter Olympic Institute, however David was regularly rejected.   However he persisted in the sport despite these setback.  Then in at the 2010 in Vancouver he finished 13th and was disappointed....shortly afterwards he received an injury and decided it was time to retire...but as he was recovering he felt aerial skiing was something he was meant to be doing.  So he started competing again...he accepted encouragement from those who seemed to have an easier ride than him (on the day before the Olympic final jump he received an encouraging from Lydia Lassila)....and then his perseverance paid off....have a look at his performance here  .  He is now a Winter Olympian silver medalist and a few Australian officials have apologised.

Hebrews 10:36-39 encourages all Christians to persevere, especially as we encounter challenges and difficulties.....
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,
“In just a little while,
    he who is coming will come
    and will not delay.”
38 And,
“But my righteous one will live by faith.
    And I take no pleasure
    in the one who shrinks back.”
39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

Think about the times you have been challenged because of your faith.
What do you think persevering with God and your faith in Him is important, what rewards do we receive?

Persevering with God is not so much about what we do...but what we receive from God because we remain in relationship with Him...
David Morris by remaining connected to the sport aerial skying...had the opportunity to receive the Silver medal....likewise if we remain connected to God we have the opportunity to receive the gift of eternal life that only God can offer.....

Book and Lent resource - Psalms and Prayers of the Better Covenant

Psalms and Prayers of the Better Covenant is a resource to accompany daily devotions for the Transfiguration / Lent / Easter period. (In 2014 the celebration of the Transfiguration of Jesus is Sunday March 2.) 

Priced at $10 plus postage, the book is available from either Pastor Fred himself, or from Australian Church Resources
If you order through Pastor Fred you can pay by direct debit (F H VEERHUIS BSB 062-797 A/N 2800 9607)

“I heartily recommend you purchase Pastor Fred Veerhuis’s latest booklet called Psalms and Prayers of the Better Covenant. It is an excellent worship resource for all year, but especially for Transfiguration, Lent and Easter. About a year ago, when Fred invited me to critically review and comment on the first draft, this is how I replied to him:
Fred, I want to thank you for asking me to look over your psalms and prayers. It has been a blessed exercise for me. These psalms embrace me in prayer and praise, confession and absolution, pain and joy, humility and hope. They communicate simultaneously with my head and my heart. And when I have shared them with my wife, daughter and son-in-law, they were touched in the same way. All your Biblical knowledge, all your theological insight, all your pastoral concern, all your anguish and dark nights of the soul have found fulfilment in these expressions of worship which are a gift to Christians across the spectrum.
A year later I endorse what I wrote, and I’m confident that most readers will do the same.”
Pastor Brian Schwarz

Monday, February 17, 2014

Book: Icky sticky, hairy scary bible stories - 60 poems for kids

The stories in the Bible are not always nice and happy. Some are messy and dangerous. Some are about foolish, strange, or awful things. This collection of short, funny poems is sure to capture the attention of any reader. Each poem shows that God works in the ugly, icky, gross world we live in and helps us out of our messes. This resource intersperses poems with paraphrases of biblical wisdom. Fun illustrations and shockingly gross stories are just right for inquisitive children. The Bible is terrifically funny at times, and we should not be afraid to explore and enjoy it.

Also visit the Icky Sticky Hairy Scary web site for further resources including:
Information about the Author and Illustrator
free games
free posters
free coloring pages
free bookmarks
free tips for teachers

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tract: 7 important truths

7 important truths is a new tract from the LLL tract mission

This tract explores the 7 important truths;
  • God loves me
  • I go against God's will
  • I cannot solve the problem by myself
  • Jesus Christ is God's given solution
  • In Christ, God gives me peace, forgiveness and eternal life
  • I receive Jesus Christ by believing in Him as my personal saviour
  • I now live a life in Christ and be Christ like
To review this tract and obtain copies visit

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book: Teaching Well - insights for educators in Christian schools

Teaching Well does what no other book sets out to do so clearly.  Many of the 32 Australian, British and American contributors provide specific 'feet on the ground' examples of how to bring a Christian perspective into the classroom in an engaging, relevant, informative and inspiring way. These chapters are underpinned by thoughtful, wide-ranging writings on how educators can develop their own philosophies of education that can be related to the classroom. Immersion in Christian thinking of this kind has the power, the writers believe, to provide practitioners with insights that can transform students' lives.

About the editors
Ken Goodlet is an Australian educator who has taught in both state and independent schools. He has served as a school administrator in Australian and Malaysian independent schools and worked as an editor for an Australian Christian book publisher.  He has published five community histories.

Dr John Collier is Head of St Andrew's Cathedral School in Sydney, Australia. He was previously principal of a state and an independent school in New South Wales.  He has served as Chair of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (NSW/ACT) and is presently a member of the Sydney Anglican Education Commission.

'TEACHING WELL is a comprehensive resource for Christian teachers to think Christianly about their vocation and to encourage and enable their students to 'take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ' (2 Corinthians 10:5). I heartily commend this volume of thought-provoking essays from such gifted and experienced educators.'
Dr Glenn N Davies, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney

'I am pleased to see a flourishing of discussion about rigorous and authentic Christian education. The editors seek to follow in a tradition that refuses to put Christianity alongside education and insists that the gospel needs to be integral.'
Ken Dickens, CEO, Christian Education National, Australia

'If the next generation of Christians is to take steps of faithfulness in the entire range of cultural life to embody Christ's Lordship, Christian education must be a priority. This book is a welcome contribution. A fine set of scholars and practitioners bring the gospel to bear on a wide span of educational subjects.'  
Dr Mike Goheen, Professor of Missiology, Calvin Theological Seminary, USA

'If you have ever found yourself asking the question where is the body of literature to support Christian educators in their task you will find Teaching Well to be a significant part of the answer. In this collection, experienced practitioners and leading academics in the field of Christian education offer insights on an impressive range of critical themes from the formation of a Christian mind to the transformation of the curriculum.'
Dr Beth Green, Director, National Centre for Christian Education, Liverpool Hope University, UK

For more information and to order this book contact Barton Books 

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Video : Seattle Sea Hawks players - Jesus is better than the Superbowl

With the Superbowl only a few hours away some of the Seattle Sea Hawks players share what they believe about Jesus....including Jesus is better than the Superbowl!!

Check out the video here

Songs that unite

Who and what is Songs that unite

The mission for Songs that Unite is
"to enhance your experience of worship through music and photographic images”.

Songs that Unite is the Uniting Church Assembly’s worship resources website.

There are three main areas of worship resources:

  • Congregational songs 
  • Music Mp3 voice tracks, CD/EP's
  • Free and Royalty Photographic Images

Congregational Songs
Worship leaders will find theologically sound, authentic, original 'contemporary' songs to use in communal and congregational singing. For each song, you will find a Lyrics Sheet; a Mp3 Backing Track; and a Music Score. Most songs also have a vocal recording included, to give you a better idea of how the song sounds.  Some of these Mp3 voice tracks are for sale under Music tab. To assist your preparation, you will find that every song has been catalogued as to how it might be used in worship. For example, you may search for a particular season of the church year (eg. Lent); a part of the Liturgy (e.g. gathering the people); a Bible reference; or on a general theme. You can, of course, also search for a particular title or artist.

Some of our very gifted Music Artists also have Mp3 voice tracks and CD/EP's available to enhance your personal worship or just for pure enjoyment. Download these onto your music device or phone so that you can always carry your music with you to enjoy anytime.

Free and Royalty Photographic Images
Songs that Unite also have a library of Free Images and inspired Royalty Photographic Images to download. Uses include: Newsletters, brochures, websites, sermons, power point presentations, background for song lyrics on big screen. All our royalty images come in various sizes from small to extra-large. (images must not be used for commercial resale purposes)

The idea for the site was born out of the Uniting Church Assembly's Songwrite competition first held in 2009-10. There was a wealth of song writing talent discovered across the church, and it raised the question of how we might encourage and support the production and distribution of music resources to the wider church community. While providing a place for songwriters to publish their works, the focus of the website was also on serving those who are preparing a service of worship.

To access this resource visit