Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Paper: Do religion and politics mix?

This paper discusses the issue of can and do religion and politics mix...
In doing so it covers:

  • Eras of relationships between politics and religion
  • Biblical Texts
  • Christians involved in politics
  • Bonhoeffer's experience 

view this paper at Do religion and politics mix?

Workshop/Discussion: Rethinking Sunday morning

Rethinking Sunday Morning: Better Questions, Bolder Experiments

For many, it's already happening. Whether Sunday morning finds them seated at work or at a coffee shop, in the bleachers or on a pew, they're already rethinking churchgoing. And perhaps you are, too.

But what is God up to in all of this? And to what more faithful future are Christian communities now being called? What are the practices of discipleship for a post-churchgoing world?

Join the conversation and discover the courage to ask some fresh questions and engage them more boldly.

For more information visit here

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Graphic Novel - The Stormy Monk

It was an age of turmoil, lust and power. Kings and Popes bought and sold thrones. The Black Plague crept through the streets. The Turks were banging at the doors of Vienna. Human rights and an individual’s conscience meant nothing. Any dissent could land you in the stocks or find you facing the Inquisition and the stake. Into this time came one solitary monk  who nailed an objection to a church door and, with it, ushered the Medieval Era out and the Modern Era in, changing the course of history forever.

With humor, wit, and meticulous historic detail, playwright and storyteller Dr. Rich Melheim weaves a spell-binding tale of courage, deception, and a world about to unwravel.

Illustrated by the award-winning talents of Tim Kane, Sherwin Schwartzrock and Jonathan Koelsch, Luther: The Graphic Novel leaps from  the pages. Beginning with the hauntingly predictive martyrdom of Reformer Jan Hus, the story moves to the electrical storm that launched a young law student to the monastery. It moves from his restless quest to find peace with God, to the protesting professor nailing his objections to the Wittenberg Door 500 years ago next year. It takes you from the heretic’s trail, to Luther’s staged kidnapping, and up to and through the unlikely events that gave the protesting monk and his death-defying princes the breathing space for the reform to take hold…. And eventually split the church.

The Stormy Monk is available for $9.99 paperback or $4.99 ebook

For more information about the Stormy Monk visit here

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Free EBook: Parable of the dancing God

In this brief and easy-to-read booklet, C. Baxter Kruger vividly retells the parable of the prodigal son (including the full text of Luke 15:1-32).
His fresh interpretation focuses not on the prodigal son, but on the character of the father as it is revealed through his interaction with his two very different sons.   Baxter asks you to consider with which son you most identify--the dutiful elder brother or the wayward younger brother.   Then he helps you explore the spiritual implications of that identification.    Finally, he shows you how an examination of the father of the two sons highlights important aspects of God's character: rejoicing, compassion and more.   You'll come away from this short but profound study with new insight into the ways God the Father is at work in your own life.

Free EBook available here

Decolonize Lutheranism movement

The decolonize Lutheranism movement is a reaction to many things people say are Lutheran, which are nothing more than to do with a local or a dreamt European culture....

Those behind decolonise Lutheran focus on theology as the most important to what is Lutheran.

This is what they believe....

As Lutherans, our greatest gift to the world is our theology – the recognition of human beings as simultaneously sinner and saint, the theology of the cross, and our holy insistence upon the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. But most importantly, Luther’s ultimate contribution to the Christian world is his insistence on justification. If Article IV of the Augsburg Confession is the article by which the church stands or falls, if all and any are “freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith,” then this means that Christ has justified everyone and everything before God. And hence, if this is so, then no one is to be excluded – indeed, cannot be excluded – from the love and power of God: human beings, nature, earth and all stars, indeed all of the created cosmos. Attempts to do so are not only impossible, but are even a most foolish attempt to thwart the holy will of God. Therefore, Justification lays at the center of all that #decolonizeLutheranism stands for, and all that we hope to accomplish.

The time has come for marginalized communities to lead our church into the 21st century –  people of color, the disabled, all genders (women, trans, and gender nonconforming), sexualities, ages, incarceration or immigration or citizenship status, and others. Since early Christians were never bound to respectability and social perceptions of right behavior, and often boldly contradicted these standards by lifting up the lowly and the down-trodden, #decolonizeLutheranism believes that we must all do likewise. Because of this, every member of the church is to be aware of and respect all of the voices in the room, not just the most evident or numerous, for each sings a part in God’s chorus. And though we do not question the need for good order and accountability in the church, we also know that “keeping order” has often contributed to – both ignorantly and willfully – the banishment of prophetic voices from the church, and the stifling of the Holy Spirit. This must change.

As Lutherans, we cannot be defined solely by northern European, cultural identity markers. Therefore, as a movement, #decolonizeLutheranism also seeks to raise-up alternative historical and theological narratives to take center stage in our church’s culture – its liturgies, hymns, polity, worship, food, poetry, art – even ways of life together and pastoral care. By doing so not only do we hope counter notions of Lutheranism that are weighted by White Eurocentric models and theologies, but also to revitalize how we collectively express our confessional identity – thereby breathing new life and vitality into Lutheran communities across United States.

As members of the church of God, with humble courage and contrite hearts we repent of the ways that evangelism has been used as a tool of violence and oppression. Yet at the same time, if we refrain from proclaiming the story of Jesus because of the sins of the past our repentance is woefully incomplete.  Though still covered in dust and ashes and tears, God has ever promised and ever to raise us up, dust us off, dry our tears, and send us back into the world to proclaim Jesus and the Resurrection more boldly than ever before. The greatest gift that God has ever given to the Church – the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins, eternal life and power and hope in this life – is the very thing by which we live and die and love. And by thus rapturously reclaiming the apostolic mantle from the clutches of White European dominance, we may then return to the world with the same zeal as the Apostles – throwing ourselves passionately and foolishly into the world for the sake of the One whom we love so much: Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, the Risen One, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and raises the cosmos to new and eternal life.

To discover more and join the movement visit: http://decolonizelutheranism.org/

Book: The Divine Command a new perspective on law and Gospel

Paul Althaus - The Divine Command a new perspective on law and Gospel (written in 1966)

Contents Page
  1. The problem of law and gospel 
  2. Law and command in the New Testament
  3. "In the beginning": the divine command 
  4. Through the fall, command becomes law 
  5. The gospel as end of the law 
  6. Through the gospel, law once again becomes command 
  7. The Christian life as life under the divine command
  8. Significance of the biblical moral teaching: a "third function" of the law?

Contemporary Lutheran Ethicists

Prof.John T.Pless Concordia Theological Seminary put together a list of contemporary Lutheran ethicists, which includes their key works and major emphasis.
This list is available here 

Athanasian Creed - responsive statement

The Athanasian Creed is one of the three ecumenical creeds (or statements of faith) of the church.
It is rarely used in worship because of its length and cumbersome wording.
This powerpoint version of the Athanasian Creed is a responsive version with responsive parts of the leader/pastor, men, women and everyone.  

Another way to use the creed in worship or bible study is to:
Read it together
Then ask people to reread quietly and reflect on the words
Then discuss how they understand the words of the creed and if they can think of any bible verses that support the lines in the Athanasian Creed with each other.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Book: The Messengers: Discovered

The Messengers: Discovered is a novel about 15-year-old Simon who lives in a world of tight controls. Everything is regimented, defined, observed. Yet he doesn't buy into any of it. During the day, he pushes against the boundaries. And at night, he questions his father's life and all it entails. Then, in one moment, everything changes for Simon as he takes on a job that leads him to the underground church and its movement to restore Christianity and the Bible to the world. The government will stop at nothing to stop this movement, and the stakes grow ever higher for Simon, his father, and the other Messengers.
Join Simon and the other Messengers in this futuristic teen novel as they risk their lives to protect the Gospel.

In a trend that will surely be replicated many times but never perfected in the same way, Lisa Clark has combined heady Christian theology and a dystopian YA thriller for middle-grade readers. Simon is the son of a secretive but loving father who discovers that the Darkness (the nameless fear that his community of rules and order pins everything on) is actually the message of the Gospel. Doled out in small but potent doses, the Message is sweet like honey to all who hear it in this debut thriller that is appropriate for children probably as young as ten. Lisa Clark's writing is tightly effective, but the heart with which she deals with the theology is light and jubilant. Young readers will love the rebellion against the authorities, while parents will delight in handing their children a book that not only encourages sharing their faith even in the worst circumstances but also embraces the importance of family, love, and friendship. The first of a series, I have no doubt that Clark's writing will quickly take this book to the top of the growing YA inspirational genre. --Colleen Oakes, Author of the bestselling Queen of Hearts Saga

Monday, May 16, 2016

Conference: Thriving in change

Thriving in Change Conference
19th – 20th August: Our Saviour Lutheran Church, 745 Rochedale Rd, Rochedale, Brisbane, Qld.
26th – 27th August: Immanuel Lutheran Church, 32 Morphett Rd, Novar Gardens South Australia.

Session Leaders
Steen Olsen:       WE DWELL IN THE WORD
Brett Kennett:     WE DWELL IN THE WORD
                             SIX DISRUPTIVE MISSIONAL HABITS 
                             CORPORATE SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT 
                             THRIVING IN CHANGE
Patrick Keifert is a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Professor and Olin S. and Amanda Fjelstad Reigstad Chair of Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary St Paul, Minnesota, USA (where missiology is part of the systematics department rather than the pastoral theology department). He is also President and Director of Research of Church Innovations Institute, a church-related not-for-profit group, seeking to "innovate your church's capacities to be missional."
Dean Eaton is the LCA Board for Local Mission’s Church Planting Mentor and Mission Facilitator.
Steen Olsen is the LCA SA/NT District Director for Mission and a member of BLMiss.
Brett Kennett is the LCA Vic/Tas District Pastor for Congregational Support and a member of BLMiss.

For more information contact:

Book: How to live in fear - mastering the art of freaking out

Find freedom in an age of anxiety.

Let’s face it: we are afraid. Our world is riddled with fear-inducing headlines, financial meltdowns, family crises, and phobias of every stripe. No wonder the New York Times now reports one in ten Americans is now taking antidepressant or anxiety medication. So how do we cope or even succeed in a world spinning out of control? As someone who has battled panic attacks and anxiety most of his life, Lance Hahn can relate.

In How to Live in Fear, Lance tackles the pervasive problem of fear and panic head-on by inviting readers into his world. In this genuine and practical book, he invites readers into the life of a pastor living with anxiety disorder. Through humorous personal stories—like losing it on an airplane or collapsing onstage as he is about to preach—Lance will win over readers with his transparency. He will also share the remedies that have helped him recover and overcome throughout the years.

How to Live in Fear is a public intervention of sorts. We need to talk about this issue, especially the church-at-large. Millions of people suffer from anxiety disorders, and the church has done little to make them feel normal. Many Christians now take medication privately but keep it a secret under the shame of being viewed as a failure. Lance willingly bares his soul in order to get the conversation started. He firmly believes the church should not only recognize the issue, but also help believers reconcile the guilt of being a Christian while dealing with dread and anxiety

Filled with practical tips and advice, and full of relevant scriptures, How to Live in Fear gives readers the tools to relax in the face of fear—real or imagined. Lance will show readers that while he may still encounter bouts of panic, he has never let his disorder stop him from living a full life.

Part One:    Living in fear:  my story
Part Two:    Living in fear:  our story together
Part Three: Living in fear:  the journey with my Father.

5 articles, 1 web site and 1 book for small churches

There are far many more small churches than medium or big churches....

Following are 5 articles and 1 book written for small churches and small church leaders


Small churches BIG IMPACT

The dynamics of small church ministry

Developing a ministry team in the small church

Four unexpected benefits of a small church

Web Site:  The Small Church leadership network

Book:  Shepherding the small church

Devotion: Who and what is shaping you as a leader?

Who and what is shaping you as a leader? is designed for leaders in Christian congregations to reflect on being a leader in the church and Christian organisations....
It is based on:
Follow my example, as i follow the example of Christ 1 Corinthians 11:1

This study is available here

Book: Developing a series - A guidebook for planning, branding, and marketing an effective sermon series

Jonathan Malm has put together a fantastic resource to help you plan sermon series' for your church. This e-book has practical tips and tricks to make your sermon series' effective and impacting to your congregation.

Chapter topics include:
- Why your church should do sermon series'.
- How to break down a complex and obscure concept into an easily brand able series idea.
- The importance of developing a unified visual theme for your sermon series.
- Planning individual messages, illustrations, and sermon titles.
- How to brand your sermon series so it's memorable.
- Getting the word out about your sermon series.
- A discussion on planning ahead and how far ahead is far enough.
- Using pop-culture brands to assist in branding your series.

It also includes tips and tricks from creative directors and graphic designers from churches around the country.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A story of a city Lutheran pastor God used to touch many with love and peace.

Pastor John Steinbruck is remembered as a city Lutheran pastor, a community organiser and seeker of justice.
Much of his story revolves around his call to Luther Place Memorial Church, Washington DC, where he became an articulate and passionate preacher of the Social Gospel and a leading voice locally and nationally for the homeless, Central American refugees, and the victims of persecution and prejudice.
Charles A Scheiren says "Steinbruck was an outstanding example of all that is right and possible in public theology,”
Rev. Dr. Katie Day.  says “He ‘walked his talk and talked his walk’ consistently and without compromise.”

Read His story and how God has been at work in and through him
Wikipedia entry
A Saint in the City
John Steinbruck and the Challenge of Peace
Songbird sings

Book: Gospel DNA five markers of a flourishing church

Millions of new believers in Jesus. Thousands of new churches. Communities rallying around the Gospel. Innovative efforts to send workers into the harvest fields. A Gospel movement sweeping a nation.
This isn’t merely a description of what God is doing in the global south today. It is a picture of God’s work in the United States during the 19th and 20th centuries. The church was flourishing. Faith was being shared. New congregations were being started. People were receiving the hope of eternal life.
Can it happen again? Is it possible for the Christian church in the United States to become vibrant and relevant once more?
The answer may surprise you.
Looking at a uniquely American Gospel movement as a case study, Gospel DNA traces five markers that lead to a flourishing church.
Hope is closer than you may think. It’s time to reconnect with Gospel DNA.

Marker ONE:        PEOPLE

About the author:
Michael Newman has been a Lutheran pastor, teacher, author, and speaker for over 25 years. He has served churches in Texas, Minnesota, and in the Chicago area, and continues to be active in writing and in a variety of speaking venues. His goal is to create practical and understandable resources that inspire and transform. Married to his wife Cindy since 1983, they have been blessed with two wonderful daughters and the cutest granddaughter in the world. When not writing or speaking, you might catch him hanging out with his family, running a few miles on the Texas roads, risking his life doing yard work, or enjoying a good book.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Book: The Passionate Church

It’s good to talk about ministry. It’s better to do it, and do it passionately.
In 2008, the United Methodist Church lifted up “Four Areas of Focus” for ministry, and churches have responded. But at Ginghamsburg Church, in the rust-belt town of Tipp City, Ohio, the church has been doing exciting and effective ministry in those four areas for 35 years and more.

  • Engaging in Ministry with the Poor
  • Improving Global Health
  • Developing Principled Christian Leaders
  • Creating New and Renewed Congregations

The work has led to a host of creative ministries and organic growth…because they were meeting the needs of their community and their world as the hands and feet of Christ.

The book comes with a built-in facilitator Guide to encourage pastor peer groups and other leadership groups interested in deepening the discussion.

Book: Survive or Thrive

In Survive or Thrive Jimmy Dodd reveals that the majority of pastors are not known—by anyone. They purposely isolate themselves from both staff and congregations so their insecurities, doubts, and failures aren’t exposed. Yet confiding in the wrong person can be a dead-end at best and disastrous at worst. Former pastor Jimmy Dodd reveals how those in pastoral ministry can receive ongoing support, accountability, and restoration from a boss, counselor, trainer, mentor, coach, and good friend.
Discover how you can move from surviving to thriving with the six relationships every pastor needs.

Section 1:  SURVIVE: The heart of the problem - How did we arrive here?
Section 2:  THRIVE:  The six relationships every pastor needs
Section 3:  GOSPEL TRANSFORMATION:  Taking all important next steps

Book: Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Common Prayer helps today’s diverse church pray together across traditions and denominations. With an ear to the particulars of how various liturgical traditions pray, and using an advisory team of liturgy experts, the authors have created a tapestry of daily prayer that celebrates the best of each tradition.
The book also includes a unique songbook composed of music and classic lyrics to over fifty songs from various traditions, including African spirituals, traditional hymns, Mennonite gathering songs, and Taize chants.
Tools for prayer are scattered throughout to aid those who are unfamiliar with liturgy and to deepen the prayer life of those who are familiar with liturgical prayer.
Ultimately, Common Prayer makes liturgy dance, taking the best of the old and bringing new life to it with a fresh fingerprint for the contemporary renewal of the church.
Churches and individuals who desire a deeper prayer life and those familiar with Shane Claiborne and New Monasticism will enjoy the tools offered in this book as a fresh take on liturgy.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Book: Can these dry bones live?

Churches are closing today at an alarming rate. Pastors are disillusioned, church members are discouraged, and the world has lost interest. Can this disturbing tide be stemmed?
Bill Henard believes that there is hope for the established church – for your church. Some people may have already pronounced the church “dead,” but these dead bones can live. Whether your church is seven years old or one-hundred and seventy, you may be seeing evidences that your church needs vision, direction, and revitalization.
Don’t lose hope. Your church can live.

  1. Why Church revitalization?
  2. Assessment
  3. The Church does not recognise the need for revitalization.
  4. The Church does not want to grow
  5. Barriers to Growth
  6. The gifts do not match the church
  7. Community Demographics differ from the Church
  8. Church turns inwards
  9. External factors
  10. The Church has lost its vision
  11. Operating through inadequate ministry structures
  12. Failure to increase the impact of ministry