Friday, October 20, 2017

Book: What's in your bag? - Outcome based use ministry

When David brought down Goliath, he did so with the full confidence of his faith in God and a skill he had developed over time. In his bag, he had what he knew how to use....a stone and a sling. With nothing more, God positioned and placed David at the right place and time, because David had both the faith and the skill necessary to take on the giant. 
What's in Your Bag? lays a foundation for the development of 30+ Faith Skills in young people; faith skills that will enable youth to live out their personal calling in life. 
Outcome-Based Youth Ministry fulfills the biblical mandate of church leaders found in Ephesians 4:12: To equip God's people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ. (NLT) It aids congregations and faith-based schools in the development of a long-term, results-oriented strategy for equipping young people with life-long ministry skills. Partnering with both parents and our church family, we impart Faith Skills that help youth to grow in their personal faith while also filling their bags with the necessary Faith Skills to serve and lead whenever a ministry moment arises. 




Thursday, October 19, 2017

Various versions of A mighty fortress is our God

The hymn a mighty fortress is the theme hymn of the Reformation and the Lutheran Church for many years.   Recently a number of musicians have taken on the challenge to produce different versions of this hymn.   Following are 20 versions of A mighty Fortress is our God.

Contemporary Versions



















Heavy metal version


More traditional versions










Kid's versions






Saturday, October 14, 2017

Kids Play: Luther, the Reformation and some jokes

Luther, the Reformation and some jokes is a 12 minute play written by Hans Fiene intended for children to perfom. 
The script is available at https://lutheransatire.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Luther-The-Reformation-and-Some-Jokes-2.pdf

A book for teenagers relating to mental health and suicide

Mental illness and suicide are difficult topics to talk about, and with teenagers it is even more difficult, yet each year mental illness and suicide is affecting more and more people.  

What the dog saw, by Mark Worthing is written with adolscents and teens in mind.  It is the story of his own son as seen through the eyes of his dog of the long, slow tragedy of mental illness, and of suicide.  It is the story he wrote a year after his son's death to help his younger brother and sister to find away to remember their brother and talk about grief.

The book is a short book of 74 pages, with 44 easy to read chapters of 1 or 2 pages, each concluding with sentence to encourage reflection.   There are also suggestions on how the book could be used with children and teenagers.

Mark Worthing is a Lutheran pastor, lecturer and author living in Australia




Available in Australia from Australian Church Resources
Also available from Book Depository

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Theology of the cross - 10 books

The theology of the cross is the significant theology of the Christian and Lutheran church.  Following are 10 books relating to the Theology of the Cross

On Being a Theologian of the Cross: Reflections on Luther's Heidelberg Disputation, 1518 (Theology)  by Gerhard O. Forde
The book first clarifies the difference between a theology of glory and a theology of the cross and explains how each perspective shapes the very nature of being a theologian. The main body of the book provides commentary on the Heidelberg Disputation — the only complete analysis of this document currently available. Underlying Forde's exposition is the contention that one ought not speak of the theology of the cross as merely another item among a host of theological options; instead, one must pursue what it means to be a theologian of the cross and to look at all things through suffering and the cross.

Luther's Theology of the Cross: Martin Luther's Theological Breakthrough 

by Alister E. McGrath
Luther's Theology of the Cross represents a fully revised and updated edition of the classic 1985 text that expands on the author's ongoing research and reflects 25 years of Luther scholarship.
Draws on advances in our understanding of the late medieval intellectual, cultural, and religious background of Luther's early development, and the nature of Luther's doctrine of justification (including the so-called 'Finnish' school), many of which have not yet been incorporated into Luther scholarship
Luther's 'theological breakthrough' continues to be of central importance to Reformation Studies and the development of Protestantism

Written by one of the world's leading Protestant theologians, who is an authority on the development of the doctrine of justification. His classic work Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification is now in its third edition (2005)

Luther's Augustinian Theology of the Cross: The Augustinianism of Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation and the Origins of Modern Philosophy of Religion by Marco Barone (Author), David J. Engelsma (Foreword)
"These theological paradoxes ... have been deduced well or poorly from St. Paul, the especially chosen vessel and instrument of Christ, and also from St. Augustine, his most trustworthy interpreter." These are some of Martin Luther's words that introduce his Heidelberg Disputation (1518), a collection of doctrinal theses that serves as a manifesto of Luther's theology. The German Reformer claimed that his theses were a faithful exposition not only of Pauline theology, but also of Augustine's doctrine of salvation. Luther's Augustinian Theology of the Cross is an unprecedented commentary of Luther's Heidelberg Disputation. Through a wide range of Augustinian texts, the author shows the accuracy of Luther's claim. Moreover, the work offers some original considerations that are of interest to both theology and philosophy. In the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this volume is a lively and stimulating addition to the debate about the relationship between Augustine's soteriology and the theology of the Reformation.

The Theology of the Cross in Historical Perspective by Anna M. Madsen
The theology of the cross is indisputably a trendy concept today. Numerous seminars, books, and dissertations tackle the topic. But The Theology of the Cross in Historical Perspective demonstrates that theology of the cross is no passing fancy. Theologies of the cross appear at the beginnings of the church, in the sixteenth-century reformations of the church, and in the more contemporary modernization of the church. Without theologies of the cross, what the church is called to be and to preach becomes unclear. So then, what is the theology of the cross?
Anna Madsen surveys the theology of the cross in the thinking of Paul and Luther. She also outlines several important twentieth-century contributions to the subject. On the basis of her analysis, Madsen suggests that the theology of the cross reveals God to be found even in death. In death, after all, boundaries disappear. The theology of the cross assures Christians that God is present in the death of sin and in the realities of suffering and uncertainty. Given that it announces God's presence, the theology of the cross is ultimately a theology of grace, freedom, and trust. 

The Theology of the Cross: Reflections on His Cross and Ours by Daniel M. Deutschlander  (Author), Curtis A. Jahn (Editor), Design Pics (Illustrator)
The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is the true center of our salvation. Through a deep and compelling examination of Scripture, the author demonstrates that without Jesus' sacrifice on the cross, we would be lost. However, because of Jesus' death and resurrection, we now have the promise of eternal life in heaven with him. This book also reminds us that since Christ first loved us in this way, it is now our joy to take up our own crosses daily and follow him.

Cross in Tensions: Luther's Theology of the Cross as Theologico-social Critique by Philip Ruge-Jones  (Author)
Luther's theology of the cross is a direct critique of oppressive power relationships in his day. Luther's early thought challenges specific economic, political, social, ideological, and religious power dynamics; the cross confronts those who enjoy power, prestige, pomp, and profits at the expense of the poor. Ruge-Jones maps the power relationships that Luther's theology addressed and then turns to specific works that challenge established structures of his world. Luther's Latin texts undermine the ideological assumptions and presumptions that bolstered an opulent church and empire. Luther uses the cross of Christ to challenge what he called volatilem cogitatum, "knowledge that is prone to violence." His German writings (directed to a broader, more popular audience) focus this critique of human pretensions into an attack on systems of wealth, status, and power that refuse to look with compassion upon poor Mary, or upon the many domestic servants of Germany. God has respected the ones whom the world disrespects and has thus entered the world to turn it upside down. Also in the German writings, the Lord's Supper calls the powerful to enter into solidarity with the poor--suffering people to whom Christ has given himself. Finally, in his popular pamphlets, visual images show with graphic specificity that throughout his life Christ sought out solidarity with the least. These images contrast brutally with images of a church that has sold its soul to wealth, political influence, military power, and status.

What Has Wittenberg to Do with Azusa?: Luther's Theology of the Cross and Pentecostal Triumphalism by David J. Courey (Author)
Global Pentecostalism is a twenty-first century phenomenon. Yet in North America, where the movement was born, it has stalled. Courey uncovers the cause of this plateau in the triumphalism that is characteristic of both North American Protestantism and Pentecostalism. Through the identification of parallels between Martin Luther and contemporary Pentecostals, Courey detects in Luther's Theology of the Cross a potent remedy for this tension. Utilising this insight, Courey reflects on other faith traditions, and provides a counterpoint to the triumphalism that inhibits the development of Pentecostalism in North America and around the world. 

This work comprises of three parts. The first is historical, charting the antecedents and development of Pentecostal triumphalism. The second is an experiment in historical theology, seeking basic resonances between Luther and early Pentecostals, and examining the Theology of the Cross as a means of probing Pentecostalism. The final section is an effort in constructive theology, applying the theologia crucis to some of the central aspects of Pentecostalism.

Theology of the Cross for the 21st Century by Authors Various (Author), Alberto L. Garcia  (Editor), A. R. Victor Raj (Editor)
This book is a collection of essays that explore the significance of Martin Luther's theology of the cross within the context of the various world religions and philosophies. Each contributor describes and interprets this distinctive Lutheran understanding of grace with the worldview of a major tradition or system. The writing is scholarly, yet accessible for the discerning lay reader. Readers develop a renewed appreciation for the richness of the cross and the ways Luther's insights speak to different contexts.

Pastoral Care Under the Cross: God in the midst of suffering by Richard C. Eyer (Author)
Pastoral Care Under the Cross points to the cross as the paradigm for pastoral care when counseling suffering people. This book offers insight that is useful not only for pastors but also Christian counselors, chaplains, nurses, doctors, and social workers who interact with the elderly, dying, mourning, mentally ill, or depressed.

Theology of the Cross:  The death of Jesus in the Pauline letters by Charles B Cousar  (Author)
In Paul's epistles the crucifixion story reveals a God who is free and in no way bound by human categories or expectations. Yet God in Christ chooses to be engaged in the very depths of the human predicament. The message of the crucifixion is that God's power is manifested in weakness, not in strength. The author believes that this "weakness as strength" should be the focal point of the church's identity. However, a celebration of weakness is in complete opposition to traditional American beliefs in personal strength and a powerful church.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Guidance and hope in times of congregational transition

Change is a normal part of life for individuals, families and congregations. This resource is offered
by Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ to provide assistance during this time. Change can
create anxiety but also tremendous opportunities for growth. Make certain to spend time in prayer for the ministry and mission of your church as you walk through the days of transition.

Gudiance and hope in times of congregational transition is available here

Table of contents
LCMC TRANSITIONS IN MINISTRY
UNDERSTANDING TRANSITIONS
DEVELOPMENTAL TASKS
VALUES
TRANSITIONS COME IN AT LEAST FOUR KINDS!! ! 
FINDING HELP IN TIMES OF TRANSITION!! 
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR SELECTION RESOURCES
THREE KINDS OF RESOURCES
ASSESSMENT
CONFLICT
THIRD PARTY HELP
HOW DO WE START!! 
FOR THE CHURCH COUNCIL/LEADERSHIP TEAM
FOR THE TRANSITION TEAM
A FINAL WORD
 APPENDICES! ! 
APPENDIX ONE: PULPIT SUPPLY FOR LCMC
APPENDIX TWO: FINISHING WELL COACHING—DR. KENT HUNTER
APPENDIX THREE: MATERIALS FROM DR. DARRELL PULS/PEACEBRIDGE MINISTRIES
APPENDIX FOUR: MANAGING CHURCH TRANSITIONS—A SELECTED READING LIST
APPENDIX FIVE: OTHER TRAINING RESOURCES
APPENDIX SIX: AN ARTICLE BY PR. ROBERT GORDAN, INTERIM MINISTER

Australian Christian Diary

2018 Australian Christian Diary has all the original and faithful features of past years and is produced with the Australian Christian pastor, layperson and church worker in mind.

Features 

  • Clean quality white paper for easy writing 
  • DL Pocket size
  • Durable blue vinyl cover (insert for holding notes & cards etc)
  • Bible reading suggestion for each day 
  • 3 year lectionary bible readings 
  • Church Year Festivals 
  • Australian holidays & school terms 
  • Week to an opening 
  • 3 year calendar

Cost $12.00 Australian

Order from Australian Church Resources

Studylight - resources for ministry

Studylight web page offers free online access to the following resources to help you in ministry:

  • Commentaries  (107 total)
  • Concordances  (6 total)
  • Dictionaries  (27 total)
  • Encyclopedias  (8 total)
  • Original language tools (4 total)
  • Historical writings (BC, AD and Denominational)
  • The Illustration Archive
  • The Quotation Archive
  • Sunday story Bulletin Inserts
  • Doré Illustrations
  • Bible reading plans
  • Devotions
  • Bible Maps
To discover these resources visit www.studylight.org

Sunday School lessons

Sunday school lessons are free lessons prepared by Lutherans.  

Sunday School Lessons aim to joyfully shares the wonders of learning about God through a weekly
Family Bible Study that includes art projects, music, lessons (and parables) and stories about the people of the Bible, prayers, and lots of answers to frequently asked questions.

The lessons are presented in a circular system, flowing around and through the Church Year Calendar.
They follow the Seasons of the Church Year, based on the Revised Common Lectionary.

There is a Text Index and a Subject Index and a Reference and Resources section as well as an Art Index.

There is also a special section for Confirmation Instruction.

For times of trouble, they offer a Prayer of New Beginnings, and a Healing Service for Children.

There is also a  Lessons and Carols for Christmas Eve and the reading of the Psalms for Holy Week

To discover more visit http://www.sundayschoollessons.com/

Lecture: Application in the preaching of grace

Application in the preaching of grace is the 2016 AA Pedderson lectureship at Luther Brethren Seminary
There are 2 sessions and a chapel service

The lecture is by Dr. Bryan Chapell who is the Senior Pastor of the historic Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, IL and President Emeritus of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. 
Dr. Chapell is a preacher, teacher, and speaker, and the author of many books, including Each for the Other, Holiness by Grace, Praying Backwards, The Gospel According to Daniel, The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach, and Christ-Centered Preaching.  

You can view the lectures at http://www.lbs.edu/pedersen-lectureship/pedersen2016/

Book of Ministerial Acts from Church of the Lutheran Brethren

The Church of the Lutheran Brethren's Bookd of Ministerial Acts is available as a pdf at http://www.clba.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/CLB-Ministerial-Acts-Interactive.pdf

Table of contents
The Creeds of the Christian Church

Baptism
Baptism of Infants—First Setting 
Baptism of Infants—Second Setting 
Baptism of Older Children 
Baptism of Adults
Emergency Baptism
Private Baptism 

Communion
Service of Holy Communion 
Private Communion

Confirmation 

Marriage
Service of Marriage
Preface to the Marriage Ceremony When There  Has Been a Divorce—First Setting
Preface to the Marriage Ceremony When There  Has Been a Divorce—Second Setting
Preface to the Marriage Ceremony When There  Has Been a Divorce—Third Setting

Burial of the Dead 
Funeral Service
Scripture Readings
Committal Service—First Setting
Committal Service—Second Setting

Anointing the Sick
Reception of New Members

Ordination, Installation, Commissioning
Ordination of a Pastor
Installation of a Pastor
Ordination and Installation of Elders
Commissioning
Installation of Deacons/Deaconesses
Installation of Church Officers
Installation of Sunday School Teachers 

Groundbreaking

Cornerstone Laying

Service of Dedication for a Church

Mortgage Burning

Service of Dedication for a Home

Service of Dedication for a Ship or Boat

Church Discipline

Reinstatement of Membership
Restoration Service for a Pastor

Pericope Texts 
Series A 
Series B 
Series C

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

5 minutes of church history - October=Luther month

In October 2017 gain 31 segments of Church History focussed on Luther from 5 minutes in Church History hosted by Dr Stephen Nichols.

5 Minutes in Church History, hosted by Dr. Stephen Nichols, is a weekly podcast that provides an informal and informative look at church history. Join us each week as we take a brief break from the present to go exploring the past. Travel back in time as we look at the people, events, and even the places that have shaped the story of Christianity. Each podcast offers an easily digestible glimpse of how the eternal, unchangeable God has worked in the church over prior generations, and how this can encourage us today. This is our story—our family history. 5 Minutes in Church History is an outreach of Ligonier Ministries.

Available at https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/5-minutes-in-church-history-weekly-christian-podcast/id684370851?mt=2

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book: A simplified guide to worshipping as Lutherans

A simplified guide to worshipping as Lutherans is prepared for lay people, congregational leaders, pastors, church musicians, worship leaders, and worship committees. It provides an answer for those who are asking the question: What does it mean to worship as a Lutheran in the twenty-first century?
Written in and for 2009 James Waddel aims to provide lay people and pastors with a clear and understandable presentation of Lutheran theology for Lutheran worship, especially amongst the range of differing and confusing opinions.    
James also aims to help those involved in contemporary Lutheran worship by providing positive direction and equip worship leaders and pastors with concrete practical tools to evaluate contemporary worship forms.  


Table of Contents
Chapter 1: A Pastor’s Story
Chapter 2: The State of the Conversation about Worship Today
Chapter 3: What Is Worship?
Chapter 4: Lutheran Assumptions about Worship
Chapter 5: More about Assumptions and Methodology
Chapter 6: Worship As Adiaphora
Chapter 7: Worship As Confession
Chapter 8: Lutheran Theology for Lutheran Worship
Chapter 9: Worship and Culture
Conclusion
Appendix 1: An Outline for Worshiping As Lutherans
Appendix 2: A Tool to Evaluate Songs for Worshiping As Lutherans

Book: Myth of the Millennial: Connecting generations to the Church

It’s no secret that Millennials are the least-churched generation in our nation’s history—and that they continue to leave the church in droves. And, sure, people in generations before did the same, but the problem today is that Millennials aren’t coming back.

In Myth of the Millennial, authors Rev. Ted and Chelsey Doering, Millennials themselves, invite you to connect with the Millennial generation—their generation, their peers. It’s simpler than you might think. And don’t worry, they won’t prescribe expensive building renovations or a new wardrobe for your pastor.

They do, however, explore common Millennial stereotypes in the hopes of helping other generations better understand this lost generation. They also offer ideas on how to build strong intergenerational relationships to better equip Boomers and Gen Xers to engage a generation that is generally apathetic and disinterested in the church. Because, ultimately, all this talk about Millennials and generations is not about upping church attendance for the sake of numbers—it’s about one generation leading another to Christ.



What others are saying

“Loaded with the down-to-earth wit of authors who take the Gospel seriously and themselves lightly.”
—Rev. Matt Popovits, Pastor, of Our Saviour New York; Author of Tough Call: A Little Book on Making Big Decisions

“Explor[es] the Millennial generation without falling into over-generalizations or negative comparisons to previous generations.”
—Chris Paavola, Pastor of All Nations Church in University City, MO

“Ted and Chelsey write with a brave energy and a witty vitality.”
—Pastor Mark Hunsaker, Praise & Worship Lutheran Church, Branson, MO

“Engaging, humorous, solidly Biblical, Sacramental, refreshing, and insightful. I could not put it down.”
—Pastor Allan R. Buss, Senior Pastor, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Belvidere, IL

“Ted and Chelsey Doering help mend the generation gap with stories, questions, insight, honesty, and some sass. ”
—Michael W. Newman, Author of Hope When Your Heart Breaks: Navigating Grief and Loss and The Life You Crave: It’s All About Grace

“With humor and sincerity, Ted and Chelsey move us beyond stereotypes, allowing us to return to the hearts of actual people and their deep need for the Gospel. ”

—Brian West, Pastor for NextGeneration, Trinity Lutheran Church, Clinton Township, MI

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Book: The Honeycomb Scroll: Philipp Melanchthon at the Dawn of the Reformation

Long overshadowed by Luther and Calvin, Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560) is one of the most important figures in the Protestant Reformation and had profound effect on Western church history. This book gives the most detailed English-language biographical treatment of Melanchthon to date, moving from his historical context and personal origins, through his childhood, education, and early career at Wittenberg during the dramatic events at the dawn of the Reformation (1497–1524).

Establishing the deep geopolitical and religious context of Melanchthon's early life, the volume then follows Melanchthon to the great halls of humanist learning at Heidelberg and Tubingen, where his studies and teaching career began and his faith was richly fostered. The pivotal moment comes in his appointment to the chair of Greek in Wittenberg where Melanchthon became a great ally and supporter of Martin Luther. Melanchthon's role as key player in the advocacy for reform expanded through his involvement in the Leipzig Disputation, his visible representation of the evangelical cause in Wittenberg during Luther's absence at Worms and the Wartburg, and his struggle with the radical wing. The volume closes by looking ahead to Melanchthon's contribution to the Augsburg Confession of 1530.

Contents
Wars and Rumors of Wars 
The Armorer  1459–1493
A Bride from Bretten  1493–1508
The Passing of the Age  1493–1508
A Time to Mourn  1493–1508
Pforzheim 1508–1509
Heidelberg  1509–1512
Tübingen  1512–1518
Wittenberg  1518–1519
All In. The Wittenberg Movement  1519–1520
Wedding Bells and Papal Bulls  1520–1521
Taking a Stand  1521
Bounding the Fire  1521–1522
Old Testament Dreams 1522
Homecoming 1522–1524



Book: Martin Luther's theology of beauty

Many contemporary theologians seek to retrieve the concept of beauty as a way for people to encounter God. This groundbreaking book argues that while Martin Luther's view of beauty has often been ignored or underappreciated, it has much to contribute to that quest. Mark Mattes, one of today's leading Lutheran theologians, analyzes Luther's theological aesthetics and discusses its implications for music, art, and the contemplative life. Mattes shows that for Luther, the cross is the lens through which the beauty of God is refracted into the world.

Contents 
Luther's view of philosphy
Luther's view on goodness
The early Luther on beauty
The later Luther on beauty
Luther on the theology and beauty of music
Luther on visual imaging
Luther and Nouvelle Theologie
Luther for a contemporary theology of beauty



Friday, September 22, 2017

Magazine: EKD The magazine for the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017

The Evangelical Church in Germany has produced a magazine for the anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.
The magazine is available at http://www.gott-neu-vertrauen.de/sites/default/files/downloads/FINAL%20-neu-%20Reformation2017_English.pdf

Articles inside the magazine include:

EXPERIENCING GOD IN NEW WAYS
“THE TIMES ARE OUT OF JOINT”
The Crisis of Culture and the Recollection of the Reformation
INDIVIDUALISATION O R SECULARISATION? PLURALISATI N!
Church in the Context of the Present Times
THE EXPERIENCE OF GOD
God as Mystery behind Creation
EXPERIENCING GOD IN NEW WAYS
A Practical Instruction Guide for Encounters with God
THE MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE OF GOD IN MEISTER ECKHART’S WRITINGS
The Birth of God in the “Fortress” of the Soul
MY REFOR M ATION
INSPIR ATION FOR A SERMON Psalm 78:3–4

THINKING GOD IN NEW WAYS
A MYSTERY WHICH GROWS EVER MORE INTENSE
HOW HUM ANKIND EXPERIENCES GOD
Schleiermacher’s Response to Ideas about God Which Were Prevalent in the Enlightenment
THE PROVOCATION THAT WAS KARL BARTH’S
The Starting Point of Thinking about God
GOD IS KNOWN IN OUR LOVE FOR OUR NEIGHBOURS
Only Our Hearts Can Know God
THINKING. GOD. I N NEW WAYS:
The Academic Way
AS FAR AS I AM CONCERNED, IT IS ENOUGH
Summer School: In Dialogue with Science, Church and Society
THE REFORMATION AS A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD
The Appeal of the Reformation in Predominantly Non-Christian Societies
INTER JECTION BY MARTIN LUTHER
INSPIR ATION FOR A SERMON Romans 11:33

PETITIONING GOD IN NEW WAYS
HEALING OF MEMORIES
Successfully Dealing with Distressing Memories
WHAT AND HOW WE WILL CELEBRATE IN 2017
2017 AS A FESTIVAL OF CHRIST
Praying Together for Unity With Greater Regularity
HEALING OF MEMORIES
The Evangelical Free Churches in Germany
M ARTIN LUTHER AND THE JEWS
A Necessary Reminder on the Occasion of the Reformation Anniversary
EKD DECLARATION
FREEDOM TO SIN
At Once Righteous and a Sinner
NEITHER CHURCH NOR HERETIC
Gottfried Arnold’s “Nonpartisan History of the Church and of Heretics”
INTER JECTION BY PHILIP MELANCHTHON
MY REFOR M ATION
INSPIR ATION FOR A SERMON Psalm 51:3

SPEAKING ABOUT GOD IN NEW WAYS
JESUS RECOUNTS PARABLES
People Feel God Entering Their Lives
GODPARENTS OF A EUROPE OF SOLIDARIT Y
The European Roadmap Links Together 68 Cities
THE RECIPE OF A GOOD STORY
To Enjoy Telling Stories
BEHOLD, I A M M AKING ALL THINGS NEW!
Meditation on Revelation 21:5
REFORMATION TODAY –
WHERE GROUNDBREAKING IDEAS ARE FORMED
“I DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD – BUT I MISS HIM”
Contemporary Literature Longs for a God
MY REFOR M ATION
INSPIRATION FOR A SERMON
Psalm 145:6

CELEBRATING GOD IN NEW WAYS
WHY DO WE CELEBRATE?
In a Field of Tension between Anarchy, Order and Compulsion
CELEBR ATING THE FESTIVAL OF FAITH TOGETHER
CROSS-ROADS IN LIFE
In Occasional Services, We Share Our Most Significant Life Events
PROTESTANT AND HUMOROUS
Faith and Humour are not Opposites
INTER JECTION BY MARTIN LUTHER
MY REFOR M ATION
INSPIRATION FOR A SERMON
Luke 14:17

DISCOVERING GOD IN NEW WAYS
GATES OF FREEDOM – WORLD EXHIBITION REFORMATION
GATES INTO THE WORLD
Important Questions about our Present Times Are Addressed in the Seven Gates of Wittenberg
YOUNG, PROTESTANT, INTERNATIONAL
FROM THE RIGHTS ESTABLISHED IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE REFORMATION TO THE
MODEL OF THE FUTURE
The Liberal Constitutional Law Concerning Religion in Germany
LUTH E R, PAUL , GOD –
Discovering the Discoverers in New Ways
”IT WOULD NOT BE HELPFUL IF WE COULD SEE GOD”
Theologising with Children
MY REFOR M ATION
INSPIRATION FOR A SERMON 2 Corinthians 3:18

 TRUSTING GOD IN NEW WAYS
TRUST AS A FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY
Trusting God means taking on Responsibility for Creation and for our Fellows
EVERY-DAY-LIFE AS WORSHIP
The Reformation Discovery of the “World” as a Location in which Faith can Prove itself
CHURCH AND MONEY – A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS?
Social Responsibility and Financial Investment in Line with Ethical Principles
LEAVING THE CHURCH IN THE CENTRE OF THE VILLAGE
Speaking about the World and about God always means speaking also about Jesus Christ
INTER JECTION BY JOHN CALVIN
MY REFORMATION
INSPIRATION FOR A SERMON  Psalm 125:1

REFORM CENTRES
HELPING TO BIRTH CHANGE
The EKD-Centre Mission in the Region
QUALITY IN WORSHIP SERVICES
The EKD-Centre for Quality Development in Worship Services
NEW WAYS TO PREACH
Wittenberg Institute of Preaching and Homiletics
A PLACE FOR ORIENTATION AND A SPACE FOR DEVELOPMENT
The EKD-Centre for Leadership and Management

OUTLOOK
2017 AND BEYOND
Broadening the Outlook to Include the European Dimension of the Reformation
THE TIME HAS COME TO PROCLAIM OUR THESES
Theses which could Influence the World in New Ways

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book: The world Jesus knew-A Curious Kid's Guide to Life in the First Century

Jesus often told stories using everyday objects to help his listeners understand life with God. But for most of us, the deep imagery and meaning behind those objects has been lost to history. This book helps kids discover the world Jesus lived in through maps, charts, graphs, and other infographic elements. They'll learn about the culture Jesus lived in—:his Jewish religion, the power of the ruling Roman Empire, the role of fishermen and carpenters and shepherds. It's an invitation to explore the stories of Jesus in their cultural context, bringing new life to familiar biblical events. This beautifully illustrated book will be a family favorite that kids and adults will come back to over and over again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Article: Missional or Attractional. The value of embracing a both/and mentality

Article:  Missional or Attractional? The Value of Embracing a Both/And Mentality
Every Christian should be missional and every church should be attractional
by EDDIE COLE
Much has been said and written to help today’s churches become more missional. Organizations, parachurch communities, and conferences abound in trying to move the Church in this direction. This emphasis is certainly justified in light of how many Evangelical churches are not missional and are either in a state of plateau or decline.
Unfortunately, many churches are not trying in any measurable way to reach the people in their community who are unchurched. Too often, churches satisfy themselves with biblical teaching, music, fellowship groups, or any number of good things. They are intoxicated with a sense of church busy-ness and therefore have a sense that they are on mission. The problem is, these things too often become subtle substitutes for the mission of God. We have to be reminded that our mission is to advance His kingdom on a daily basis, being and making disciples who worship and follow Jesus.
My predecessor as Eastern District Superintendent for the EFCA, Dr. Steve Musser, did a great job speaking to the Eastern District churches about transitioning from being teaching centers to missional outposts. He led us to adopt the motto, “Churches without walls.” Some of our churches really benefited from his efforts, but all of our leaders were challenged to keep the mission in front of our churches. I inherited this value and intend to keep it as long as I’m in this role.
If you want to dive into some good reading about what it means for a church to be missional, you can go here and see some well-thought writing from credible evangelical writers and practitioners.
But in saying that we should be missional, does that mean we should completely discard the idea and value of anything attractional?
Before I address that, let me very succinctly address what it means for a church to be attractional. While much more could and should be said, the larger, more effective attractional churches strategically rely heavily upon using their ability to attract large numbers of people to their gatherings in order to accomplish mission. They focus a lot of energy on the worship services and programs and then they work outward from this standpoint. As a model, this approach is still working in many places.
In spite of the growing number of critics, the continued growth of megachurches in America at the very least suggests that the attractional model of ministry has merits worth studying. Here is a good report for further reading.
In 2011, Billy Hornsby, co-founder and president of the Association of Related Churches (ARC), wrote a book entitled The Attractional Church. In it, he revealed that ARC has a 90 percent rate of effectiveness in their church plants, compared to 68 percent rate among other Evangelical groups. As you could guess from the title of the book, ARC trains leaders for church planting using attractional methodology. But it’s certainly not a pure approach.
In the first chapter Hornsby asked the question, “Is the attractional church missional?” He explained that their church planters are trained with these three convictions:

  1. Individual members are ‘missional’ (they accept responsibility to share the gospel)
  2. Individual members are ‘incarnational’ (they accept responsibility to live like Christ outside church)
  3. Churches are ‘attractional’ (they accept responsibility to bring people into a kingdom mindset in their gatherings)

In other words, while ARC’s approach is distinct and different from some leading missional thinkers, there is the shared understanding that the Church is here on mission to make disciples and advance God’s kingdom.
On the surface, it may seem like missional churches are against doing anything representative of the attractional model and attractional churches are too busy focusing on drawing crowds to spend any time or energy on training members for missional living. In truth, this does happen sometimes. But neither actually should be the case.
If missional churches are going to gather at all, shouldn’t they leverage the gathering for all its worth? If attractional churches are going to make disciples, don’t they need to teach them to be disciples who live on mission with Jesus?
Every Christian should be missional and every church should be attractional.
Therefore, every pastor should strive to lead with a both/and mentality.

Dr. Eddie Cole is District Superintendent of the Eastern District of the EFCA.

This article appeared http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2017/august/missional-or-attractional-value-of-embracing-bothand-mental.html 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book: New Life New Love by Noel Due

New Life New Love will enable you to encounter the God who offers new life to all people. 
You will appreciate who you are as you discover who God is. 
The significance of the Bible for your life will become apparent. 
New possibilities will emerge for greater peace of mind and well-being.
It will draw you deeper into an understanding of God’s forgiveness and love. 
Life affirming relationships with God and others will be experienced.
New Life New Love will enable you to encounter the God who offers new life to all people

New Life New Love is two books in one, with 16 chapters altogether. 

Highly recommended for one-on-one or small group dialogue, each chapter is summarised in a brief video interview with the author, Dr Noel Due.



 
What others are saying...

Are you curious about Christianity? Are you interested in finding out about what Christians believe? Then New Life New Love is the book for you. Noel Due has managed to achieve what many attempt to do and fail. He has distilled into two texts a great snapshot of what it means to be a Christian. And the book (well it’s actually two books for the price of one!) presents the key themes and ideas of the Christian faith in a logical and engaging manner. What a joy it is to read that ‘You are more wonderful than you realise’ in chapter one, and what a challenge it is to come to grips with ‘You are more dangerous than you imagine’ in chapter two. Grab the book and grab a Christian who can support you through the book.   The journey will bring new life and new love.  Dr Tania Nelson Executive Officer Local Mission, Lutheran Church of Australia

‘New Life, New Love’ is an excellent, biblically based discussion resource which explores God’s invitation to individuals to participate in new life and new love in Christ as the Holy Spirit creates faith and helps that faith to grow. ‘New Life, New Love’ leads the reader deeply into the biblical texts in language, metaphors and imagery which speak simply and clearly to our current generation. The book anticipates important questions which may be asked by participants and then addresses them directly in clarifying metaphors and examples. It also provides space for reflecting personally on the text, sharing in discussion and then, most importantly, praying together. Valuable footnotes explain some of the information which may be unfamiliar to readers. Interesting and very helpful insights from the writings of Martin Luther are also included. In all of this, the emphasis is on the action of God in the life of faith and love of the participant.  ‘New Life, New Love’ is also an excellent resource for those who may have drifted away from their relationship with God, or for practicing Christians who may gain important new insights into what the Bible says about a life of faith in Christ as they are led by the Spirit. Rev Dr Malcolm Bartsch Emeritus lecturer and former Head of the School of Educational Theology, Lutheran Church of Australia.

When an esteemed biblical scholar and teacher like the Rev. Dr Noel Due decides to write a biblical study on the invitation and implications of the Gospel for unchurched or dechurched people living in the 21st Century, what you get is his new two part book New Life and New Love.  This one snuck up on me. It leads you to the edge of a vast ocean and tempts you to do more that pick up shells on the shore. On my first reading of it I experienced that most rare of emotions these days - fresh hope - as I was immersed by the author in a new sense of self-discovery through seeing who God really is. Then as I reflected upon it with others, I started to realise its incredible implications; the adventure and possibilities that only a new life in God can bring. Highly recommended for one-on-one or small group study. Dean Eaton Mission Facilitator and Church Planting Mentor, Lutheran Church of Australia, author of Sent Seeking the Orphans of God.

Free pdf copies are available at https://www.lca.org.au/services-resources-training/study-guides/new-life-new-love/

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Book: Martin Luther on reading the bible as Christian scripture

Above all else that the sixteenth-century German Reformer was known for, Martin Luther was a Doctor of the Holy Scriptures. One of the most characteristic features of Luther's approach to Scripture was his resolved christological interpretation of the Bible. Many of the Reformer's interpreters have looked back upon Luther's "Christ-centered" exposition of the Scriptures with sentimentality but have often labeled it as "Christianization," particularly in regards to Luther's approach of the Old Testament, dismissing his relevance for today's faithful readers of God's Word.

This study revisits this assessment of Luther's christological interpretation of Scripture by way of critical analysis of the Reformer's "prefaces to the Bible" that he wrote for his translation of the Scriptures into the German vernacular. This work contends that Luther foremost believes Jesus Christ to be the sensus literalis of Scripture on the basis of the Bible's messianic promise, not enforcing a dogmatic principle onto the scriptural text and its biblical authors that would be otherwise foreign to them. This study asserts that Luther's exegesis of the Bible's "letter" (i.e., his engagement with the biblical text) is primarily responsible for his conviction that Christ is Holy Scripture's literal sense.


What others are saying?
"Marsh has provided fresh insight on Luther's hermeneutics and his preaching, especially of Old Testament texts. Marsh focuses on Luther's own words to understand what the reformer taught about a Christian reading of Scripture. This is an excellent contribution to the contemporary discussions."  --Jason K. Lee, Professor of Theological Studies, Dean, School of Biblical and Theological Studies, Cedarville University

"Through a close and learned reading of key texts in the reformer's canon, William M. Marsh shows that Christ is the focus of Luther's interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. Martin Luther on Reading the Bible as Christian Scripture makes an important contribution to our understanding of Luther's biblical theology and hermeneutics. By linking the human witness to Christ with the word of God, Marsh demonstrates theologically how in Luther's thought the Bible's truth is connected to the living reality of Christ."  --Christine Helmer, Arthur E. Andersen Teaching and Research Professor, Professor of German and Religious Studies, Northwestern University

"In this volume William Marsh explores the manner in which Luther listened to and conveyed to others this conviction that God converses with his people in and through The Book. . . . A rewarding read indeed!"  --Robert Kolb, from the foreword

Monday, September 04, 2017

2018 Clergy Life Calendar

The Clergy Life Planner has been developed by a Life Coach who works closely with many clergy.

The  2018 features:

  • Goal Planning/Mind Mapping – to help to set a clear vision for your ministry and life in 2018
  • Vacation Ideas and Plans – to ensure that you use your vacation time and stay refreshed and renewed for ministry
  • Sabbath Ideas – a place to capture ideas for your Sabbath time so you can take it whether it be a whole day or just a few hours
  • 2-page month, week and reflection pages
  • Future planning - Undated – when you are behind on something this year, you jot it down here at an earlier time to remind yourself to get a head start on it the next year
  • Future planning – Dated – when you need to schedule those far off appointments like weddings, family reunions and spring break
  • Seasons of the Church Year – a place to capture ideas for the seasons as you hear or read about them
  • Lists and Expenses – places to record your to-do’s, prayers, and visits as well as a place to keep track of expenses
  • Finger Labyrinth
  • Weekly pages that have a place for daily tasks, more room on Sunday while still having a space to keep track of your large projects, your Sabbath plan and other notes – the weekly layout has a Monday start with a Sunday focus but the layout is horizontal so it does not confuse those who are used to a Sunday start to their planners. Clergy also spoke of liking their days divided into morning, afternoon and evening blocks so this layout is the best of all worlds.  
  • The back sections are all stand alone so if you don’t want to have your visitation list in your planner, you can remove it without removing any other important pages.

Wittenberg confessions: Testimonies of converts to confessional Lutheranism

The institutional church is drifting further and further from the historic liturgy and the proclamation of the pure Gospel. It is devolving into a pop culture version of the faith and emphasizes "feel good" worship over the historic liturgy and tolerance over the the truth of the pure Gospel. But all is not lost. Internet blogs like the Brothers of John the Steadfast and radio programs like Issues, Etc. and Pirate Christian Radio are being used by God to raise up a new generation of committed believers.

Wittenberg Confessions presents the testimony of eight of these new converts to Confessional Lutheranism. Reading these testimonials of what God has done in these lives will give you hope that Christ continues to build His Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, despite man's foibles and propensity to create programs which lack neither hope nor give growth to Christ's Holy Body on Earth.

The editor, Jim Pierce, is a layman from Seattle, Washington. He wrote the introduction and conclusion for Wittenberg Confessions and also organized the other essayists and edited their work. He leads off the collection of essays with his own odyssey of faith. He voyaged away from Pentecostalism into atheism and is now at peace as a Confessional Lutheran attending Messiah Lutheran Church in a north Seattle neighborhood.


Friday, September 01, 2017

Book: Seven disciplines that shape the church for mission

In our quest to renew the church, Christians have walked through seeker-friendly, emergent, missional, and other movements to develop new expressions of the body of Christ. 
Now in the post-Christian world in North America we're asking the question again: Is there a way to be the church that engages the world, not by judgment nor accommodation but by becoming the good news in our culture? 
In Faithful Presence, noted pastor and scholar David Fitch offers a new vision for the witness of the church in the world. He argues that we have lost the intent and practice of the sacramental ways of the historic church, and he recovers seven disciplines that have been with us since the birth of the church. 
Through numerous examples and stories, he demonstrates how these revolutionary disciplines can help the church take shape in and among our neighborhoods, transform our way of life in the world, and advance the kingdom. 
This book will help you re-envision church, what you do in the name of church, and the way you lead a church. It recovers a future for the church that takes us beyond Christendom. 
Embrace the call to reimagine the church as the living embodiment of Christ, dwelling in and reflecting God's faithful presence to a world that desperately needs more of it.

 

View the table of contents

What others are saying
"David Fitch continues his constructive work in ecclesiology by emphasizing the presence the church makes possible in a world that desperately needs God's presence. The disciplines he calls attention to are life giving because they are the disciplines God has given us to be a faithful presence. Hopefully this book will be widely read and used in churches everywhere."    Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus, Duke Divinity School

"David Fitch can write this book not just because he has a heart for mission, but because he has attended faithfully to the presence of the Spirit of the living Christ poured out on all flesh. If you want to know more about Spirit-empowered mission, read this book. But be careful, as it will transform—discipline, even!—your life, your family, and your church according to the shape of the coming reign of God."  Amos Yong, professor of theology and mission, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of Hospitality and the Other

"Do you want some practical, pastoral, and theological wisdom and encouragement on how to be the church, rather than merely go to church? Do you want to be a people for God's name and faithful presence—for one another and the world? Read this book. Learn nonnegotiable practices that Fitch and his communities have learned through their communion with a faithful God. These disciplines (including being with and for children), practiced together by the power of the Holy Spirit, will conform us to Jesus. Joined to him, one another, and those he's given us to love with him, we are intentionally shaped for God's missional life among us."  Cherith Fee Nordling, associate professor of theology, Northern Seminary

"Like leaven in the dough, like a mustard seed in the soil, like light in the darkness, the church must be faithfully present in our communities as an outpost of heaven. David Fitch's new book will help us all to practice the kingdom lifestyle now. I encourage you to read, share, and live it!"  Krish Kandiah, founder and director, Home for Good, author of Paradoxology

"Are missional churches merely traditional churches with some justice projects added on? In Faithful Presence David Fitch says no. Instead, Fitch argues, following the missio Dei and living incarnationally only occurs as we practice faithful presence in the world. And such presence requires disciplines. Faithful Presence is a meaty and delicious book."  Michael Frost, author of The Shaping of Things to Come and The Road to Missional

"In Faithful Presence, a book long overdue, David Fitch provides a corrective to the work of James Davison Hunter. He offers a winsome vision for following Jesus into the world that Christians across multiple traditions will find challenging, compelling, and inspiring."
Anthony B. Bradley, associate professor of religious studies, The King's College

"When I get up on the average day, I don't know how to transform the world. But I know how to pray, show hospitality, and proclaim truth. With scholarly care and pastoral zeal, David Fitch reminds us that it's in long-term, communal devotion to small but transformative practices that we both discover and reflect the faithful presence of God. Faithful Presence gives us permission to step aside from our own efforts at greatness, encouraging us to give our time and attention to disciplines that reveal and proclaim God's presence in our churches, homes, and neighborhoods."Mandy Smith, lead pastor, University Christian Church, author of The Vulnerable Pastor

"In Faithful Presence David Fitch brings heard-it-all-before church leaders both profound insight and a new imagination for spiritual practices that lead seamlessly to an authentic, faithful presence with God in the world—a faithful presence that results in intuitive and organic mission in all aspects of our everyday lives."   
Todd Hunter, bishop, Churches For the Sake of Others, author of Giving Church Another Chance

"The relationship between worship and mission, between the life and practices of the church and its witness to the world, is a matter of continual debate. David Fitch has done us a great service by identifying a holistic pattern of worship and witness rooted in disciplines given by Christ, to be practiced in the different contexts of our lives as disciples. Faithful Presence is both theologically grounded and very practical. The only problem with books like this is that you can't just read them, you have to live them."
Graham Cray, former leader, Fresh Expressions, Church of England

"Faithfulness is an intimidating idea, so the church can be tempted to find speedy shortcuts to growth, mission, and relevance. David Fitch is helping the church outgrow its obsession with fads to break open space for the reappearance of God's real-time presence in our neighborhoods. There is certainly unflattering press about the church in today's headlines, but Faithful Presence gives me genuine hope about what the body of Christ can be when it gathers around these seven practices. This book is appropriately critical at times, but it is fundamentally grounded in inspiring the shaping of a community for God's witness in the world. David Fitch has laid out a pathway for the church being the church again!"  Dan White Jr., cofounder, The Praxis Gathering, author of The Church as Movement

"Fitch's Faithful Presence is . . . timely and extraordinarily helpful. As churches shrink, as 'spiritual but not religious' postures become more widespread, as American Christendom wanes and it becomes weirder, more inconvenient, and less comfortable to commit oneself to a local church, the need to recover this 'faithfully present' vitality is more urgent than ever."   Brett McCracken, Christianity Today, January/February 2017