Saturday, April 29, 2017

Artist - Lutheran themes Scott Blazek

Scott Blazek is an artist that produces works related to Lutheran themes.

Some of his work that is available include:
Colouring Books

Art Works
Medals and Coins

For more information visit

Monday, April 24, 2017

Article: Sermon content is the most important reasons for church attendance

The Gallup poll recently undertook a survey about why people attend and do not attend church worship services at both Protestant and Catholic churches.

The 5 most important reasons for people attending worship are:

  1. Sermons or talks that teach you more about scripture
  2. Sermons or lectures that help you connect religion to your own life
  3. Spiritual programs geared toward children and teenagers
  4. Lots of community outreach and volunteer opportunities
  5. Dynamic religious leaders who are interesting and inspiring  

The 5 most important reasons why people don't attend church worship are:

  1. You prefer to worship on your own
  2. You don't like organized religion
  3. You aren't very religious
  4. You haven't found a church or other place of worship that you like
  5. You don't have the time

To read the article in full and discover more reasons for people attending and not attending, including the percentages visit here

Book: Unscary Evangelism

This book has come about because there are so many people concerned about the need to share our faith. It occurred to me that we seem to be making evangelism much harder and scarier than it needs to be. Essentially evangelism is introducing a person to your best friend.  So we need a way to put that in terms that people can grasp.
The other thing that came to me is that people need help with this process. We need to be guided and mentored along the way. This book seeks to provide a way for pastors and churches to do that. Rob Edwards

What others are saying about this book
Anyone who reads this book should gain a new confidence and a new motivation to gossip the Gospel with all the people they have the honour to have influence over. Thanks Rob for reminding us that this is the real bread and butter of Christian life and living. The church needs to be missional if it is a real church. Rev Dr. C.I. Ganter Senior Pastor Rockhampton Baptist Church
Every believing Christian would be helped by reading this book. Rob's wisdom will position many for a fresh approach to loving others and being real with their friends. It's vital in our day, too, for even in our culture the fields are still -white unto harvest, - and despite appearances, the years ahead represent a more fruitful season for seeing many turn to the truth of Christ than at any other time in recent history. But this will happen mostly through friendships and personal connections. John Alley, Peace Christian Church, Rockhampton.

About the author
Rob Edwards is the pastor of the Rockhampton Lutheran Church in Queensland Australia

To buy a kindle version of the book visit here
To buy a paper back version of the book visit here

An analysis of Fresh Expressions in UK Anglican churches

Fresh Expressions has been movement in some mainline congregations that has helped congregations be different in the way they express church, as is part of what is helping some mainline churches be renewed.

The Small Things report is an analysis of Fresh Expressions in 21 dioceses of the Church of England.

Introduction to Small Things Report
The title reflects a view of today’s context and the report’s content.
Some will immediately recognise it is part of a quotation from Zechariah 4:10 which is a text from the exilic period. The relevance of this is that there is writing, across the theological spectrum, arguing that, within Europe, the Church of England finds itself in a period that could be called post-Christendom. As a Church we find ourselves once more at the edge rather than the centre of society, at its margins rather than in power or control. Exilic texts address such a context.
Zechariah 4:10 holds two factors in tension. The pull one way is the call to resist the temptation to despise what are only small things, and the hint to rejoice in the sign they convey, which is the beginning of a needed rebuilding process. The pull in the other direction is that all that can be seen is only small. In writing this report we were aware of a Church of England context in which our leaders have become more candid about past decline, and the sharp nature of the challenges for the future, as well as calling for a constructive response, going under the title of Renewal and Reform.
Our conviction, from our researched data, is that the Church of England’s fresh expressions of Church (fxC) are one of the small things in our day which are signs of renewed hope. The phrase, ‘the day of small things’ can be unpacked in several ways in relation to our findings. We know that ‘small’ is a relative term and the fxC types do vary in size. However, the broad picture from the data shows the majority of fxC (61%) fall in the range of 15-55 people with only 9% of them being of over 100 attenders. No one of these small young churches is going to make a dent in a century of ecclesial numerical decline. It would be easy to despise this feature. However, the term ‘the day’ suggests the language of a ‘kairos’ moment, a season when something’s time has come. Although not all fxC in our report are small, the burden of our report is about a large number of small things which we think, as the data shows, taken together are making a positive difference.
The differences are not solely a numerical addition in the face of decline, though they are that. They are also about a reforming re-imagination of the Church, by which faithfulness to the past and contextual engagement with the present are held together. It is sign of creativity, not just of growth, but also of partnership with the disturbing but renewing Spirit of God. Among the clearest signs is the sheer presence of 1109 young Church of England churches and also the emergence of the 574 lay-lay leaders of fxC. The existence and effectiveness of this group of largely untrained and unauthorised leaders is unpacked in Chapter 11. They were unknown before this research.
The title of the report invites the Church of England not to despise what is growing within its family, but has not yet been given due sympathetic attention. The invitation is to notice a phenomenon whose time has come and which has quadrupled in the last ten years. Now may be the day of small things: a diverse set of small, sometimes frail, mainly young churches that lay a claim to being among our best hopes for the future. They are not the whole answer, but they are one sign of reform as well as renewal within the Church of England.
To view a copy of this report visit here

Lectionary Mission Snippets - May

Mission Snippets are short statements for the church (ie.  all who believe in Jesus) to help us live out our calling to make disciples of all nations.   They are based on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for the week, with May 2017's being based on the Gospel Reading.  

Some thing to note in understanding the Mission Snippets, they are written from the perspective:

  • The Church is all Christians (not the building, the insitution, the legal identity, etc.)
  • That as God's Church we have received His Good News and know that our salvation is totally dependant on what God has done through Jesus Christ.
  • That having received God's Good News we are not called to keep it to ourselves, but God has called every Christian to be sharing His Good News.
  • They are what they are, snippets to encourage you to ask questions, to explore more, to discuss further....

May 7
John 10:1-10  
10:3 The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
Helping people hear Jesus
What opportunities exist for us to help people hear Jesus?
What might it take for you to help people really hear who Jesus is and what He was on about?
Is it a matter of helping people recognise Jesus' voice?

10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture.
Point people to the Jesus door
There are many options for us that appear to be offering 'life',  
Are you using the Jesus door, regularly?
What makes the Jesus door different?
How can you help people discover or choose the Jesus door?

May 14
John 14:1-14 
14:2There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you.  
God’s place is mammoth….there are many places available
How are you helping people see there is a place for them?
If there are many places, isn't likely there will be many different people?

14:6 Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Direct people to Jesus and away from other alternatives for life
The key or password to heaven is not me, I, my achievement, my tradition, my but Jesus
Does  you approach to life reflect you see Jesus as the way, the truth and the life?
How are you helping people rely solely on Jesus for life?

14:7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.” 
It is important for us to know Jesus –(and to know means spending regular time with Jesus) 
How are you spending time with Jesus?
What do you know about Jesus?
Are you sharing what you know about Jesus?

May 21
John 14:15-25
14:26  But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you.
We need to depend totally  on God’s Spirit for help
God's Spirit comes to us through God's Word and the sacraments.....are we engaging regularly with God's Word and regularly receiving His sacraments?
How are we helping others to engage regularly in God's Word and sacraments, so the Holy Spirit can work in their lives? 

14:16 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever—14:17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you. 
Don’t expect to be accepted in the general community
Are we looking to be more popular with God or the world?
Are we being truthful with each other about the challenges of being a Christian?
How do we support each other as we share the Good News, even when it is not generally popular?

14:23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him. 14:24 The person who does not love me does not obey my words. And the word you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me. 
Our lifestyle is one that reveals we love God and this means we focus on obeying His commandments
Is your lifestyle orientated towards loving God, by keeping His commandments?
How do we help people see the right perspective that keeping God's commandments is not about earning  a relationship with God, but flow from our relationship with God? 

May 28
John 17:1-11
John 17:1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said, “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you—   
Glorifying God is the purpose for Jesus and us
In looking at your life, who or what is being glorified?
What does glorifying God look like?
How do we help people glorify God?

17:2-3 just as you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him. 17:3 Now this is eternal life—that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
God’s gift to us is Jesus and eternal life
What other gifts may people be expecting from God?
What makes the gift of Jesus and eternal life different from the other gifts of God?
How are we helping people see that God is focussed on giving us the gift of Jesus and eternal life?

17:7-8  Now they understand that everything you have given me comes from you, 17:8 because I have given them the words you have given me. They accepted them and really understand that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me
Share the words and message you receive from Jesus
How are you regularly receiving and rehearing the words and messages of Jesus
What specific words and message have you received from Jesus?
How are you passing on the words and message from Jesus to the people you are interacting with?

Feel free to use these snippets for ministry and mission work in your own life and congregational life.

Prepared by Pastor Richard Schwedes

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Worship Resource: Kids in the Divine Service

Kids in the Divine Service is a series of bulletin inserts featuring seasons of the church year — Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost produced by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

Resources will be added throughout the year, and the series will also feature the liturgy, sanctuary and general information about the Divine Service.

Why is this important?
“Impress these words upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:7).

The Word of God we receive in the Divine Service goes with us, out into the world and into our everyday callings as parents and children. Kids in the Divine Service is written for parents and children to read and talk about together.

Although some of the vocabulary and concepts may be best understood by children 10 years of age and older, there are many parts of Kids in the Divine Service which can be understood, experienced and appreciated by younger children.

Whether a child reads or is read to, parents and children are encouraged to work through the bulletin inserts together and answer questions as they arise. Parents will probably learn something, too.

Using Kids in the Divine Service
Kids in the Divine Service is free to download; make as many copies as you need. The resources may be distributed for congregational use in a variety of ways, including:

  • Sunday morning bulletins
  • Sunday School resource
  • School or church newsletters

Download Kids in the Divine Service here

Pentecost Worship and Study Resources

Pentecost Sunday is a major celebration of the Christian Church, occuring 50 days after Easter.
In 2017 we celebrate Pentecost on Sunday 4th June 2017

Some background and explanations

International Standard Bible -  Pentecost
Bible Study tools - Pentecost
Wikipedia - Pentecost
Catholic Encyclopdia - Pentecost
Russian Orthodox - Pentecost

Videos Pentecost in 2 minutes- Lutheran video
What is Pentecost - CPH 
Greek Orthodox - Pentecost video
Visual Bible - day of Pentecost
Pentecost - the church is born
Pentecost - the skit guys
Pentecost - a reflective retelling of Acts 2:1-4
The Story of Pentecost - Dan Stevers
What's in the bible?  - Pentecost
Pentecost kids story

Worship Resources
Lutheran Church of Australia - Worship Planning
All age worship from Barnabas in churches
The Billabong
Calvin Worship Institute
Engage Worship ideas- Pentecost
Kids Friendly Church - New Zealand 
Kir-Shalom resources
Ministry Matters - various resources
Presbyterian Church USA 
The Worship Closet
United Method church resources
Reformed Worship - Pentecost 2017
Rethink worship 
re: worship
Uniting Church of Australia all age worship
25 contemporary songs for Pentecost Sunday- Praise Charts
List of Pentecost contemporary songs and traditional hymns includes CCLI songs, Alltogether Songs, LCA hymnal with supplement, Lutheran Service Book, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, This far by faith hymnal and Together in Song

Bible Studies
The meaning of Pentecost -
The Pentecostal experience -
Be open to the Spirit - ELCA
A longer look at the lessons (fee based) - CPH
Answers for a study of the Epistle of Pentecost - Trinity Lutheran

Pentecost Paradoxes - Working Preacher
Preaching a present day Pentecost - Working Preacher
Let the Pentecostal fires and the winds of the Spirit transform your congregation into a force that takes action on behalf of God’s ailing creation.  - Lutherans restoring creation
What is Pentecost and why does it matter - Patheos
Pentecost: the day of the Lord  - Word and World
The gift of the Holy Spirit - Lutheran Witness

Visuals and images
Pintrest images, art, displays, craft, ideas
Google images
Bing images

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Video Sermon series: Faith Foundations

The Faith Foundations sermon series is a video sermon series covering the basics of faith based on Luther's Small Catechism.   
Just as the catechism is this is an introductory sermon series to the Christian faith, so it does not cover every aspect of each topic, but instead introduces each topic encouraging people to explore more.

Entire Series

Individual sermons can be viewed by clicking on the sermon title

Sermon 1:  The foundation - God's love

Sermon 2:  God's values - Ten Commandments

Sermon 3:  Who is God? - The Apostles Creed

Sermon 4:  Talking with God - The Lord's Prayer

Sermon 5:  God connects to us - Baptism

Sermon 6:  God's forgiveness - Confession and Absolution

Sermon 7:  Intimate Communion with God - Holy Communion

Personal reflection journals and Digging deeper bible studies are available from Pastor Richard Schwedes,  email: 

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Book: Frederick the Wise

Behind every well known person there are supporters and backers, and the same was true for Martin Luther.   Luther had a number of important backers that supported him as he carried out his God given calling.   One of these was Frederick the Wise.

The biographical book Frederick the Wise,  unlocks German research to make available in English, for the first time, a full-length story of Frederick III of Saxony.  The fascinating biographical journey reveals why this noteworthy elector risked his realm of Saxony to protect the fiery monk Martin Luther and the developing reforms of the Church.   As one of the most powerful territorial princes of the Holy Roman Empire of his time, Frederick's "humanity and integrity were rare for someone of his elite status", notes Dr. Paul M. Bacon.  "Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony was much more than simply Martin Luther's noble protector."

A valuable resource for students of German history and the Reformation period.


  • Discusses how Frederick dominated other princes of the Holy Roman Empire for nearly 40 years
  • Tells why Frederick’s only “wife”—but not their children—had to be kept “secret”
  • Chronology of events relevant to Frederick the Wise
  • Index of persons and places

What others are saying:

“To his family, friends, peers, and subjects, Elector Frederick the Wise of Saxony was much more than simply Martin Luther’s noble protector. Dr. Wellman’s thoroughly researched and engaging biography paints a vivid image of the Saxon elector. It is sure to become a valuable resource for students of German history and the Reformation period. Interested readers will be introduced to a Christian prince whose humanity and integrity were rare for someone of his elite status within the German empire. They will also encounter political intrigue and scandalous behavior. Praiseworthy, yet not without his flaws, Frederick the Wise steps out from the pages as an exceptional and noteworthy man of his time.”Dr. Paul M. Bacon, Adjunct Professor of Art History at Dominican University, River Forest, IL

“Sam Wellman’s telling of the story of the public and personal life of Luther’s celebrated protector, Frederick the Wise, is a welcome addition to Reformation scholarship as we approach 2017. His careful research and well-crafted prose provide readers with insights into the risky yet resolute Christian prince who defended Luther even as he received the consolation of evangelical pastoral care from the Reformer. Aspects of the relationship between these two men often only alluded to in standard Luther biographies are developed with precision by Wellman. In this book we learn much about Frederick but a lot about Luther as well.”  —Rev. John T. Pless, Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Missions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN

“In a biography with the character development, twists and turns, and absorbing storyline of a novel, Sam Wellman recreates the life and times of the powerful and resourceful ruler who made the Reformation possible. Duke Frederick emerges as the adult in the room of squabbling princes and an inept emperor. A man of peace, a vigorous patron of the arts and education, and a skillful player in the byzantine mazes of late medieval politics, Frederick was also a man of moral and theological contradictions. But Frederick was a shrewd and stalwart defender of Martin Luther, who was not above criticizing his protector. This book brings the historical context of the Reformation to life.”  —Dr. Gene Edward Veith, Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College

“Frederick the Wise typically plays a supporting role in histories of the Lutheran Reformation—important, but in the wings. Here, he rightfully occupies center stage. Wellman’s quick-moving treatment of Frederick’s life is a delight to read and fills an important gap in English-language Reformation resources.”  —Rev. Dr. Lawrence R. Rast Jr., President of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN

“Sam Wellman has written a thorough biography of one of the most significant princes in late medieval Germany. While many recognize Frederick’s important role in the early part of the Lutheran Reformation, Wellman’s biography reveals Frederick’s significance as an elector in the Holy Roman Empire of the German nation. This work also demonstrates Frederick’s political sophistication as someone connected to the most powerful leaders of his own time. Simply put, if Luther’s Reformation had never occurred, scholars would still find Frederick’s life to be a compelling object of scholarship. However, the Lutheran Reformation did take place, and Wellman’s biography explains the political and social context of that pivotal event. Frederick’s defense and support of Martin Luther in the early 1520s ensured that the Reformation did succeed as a social and political movement.”  —Dr. Matthew Phillips, Associate Professor of History at Concordia University, Nebraska

Monday, April 03, 2017

Book and Bible Study: SENT seeking the orphans of God

The SENT seeking the orphans of God series  explains in simple language how to approach the task of relational evangelism among your relatives and friends. It also details the process of how to set up and develop local mission in a congregation of any size.

Sent Seeking the Orphans of God is for anyone concerned about how to participate with God in sowing the gospel and reaping the harvest.

Many books on missional living describe how to form missional communities and the people within them, but this book goes beyond this to describe how a missional community does relational evangelism together.

It provides small group Bible studies and activities at the end of each chapter, introduced through online video interviews with experienced evangelists. These activities facilitate dialogue and discernment about how to approach the task of relational evangelism amongst your relatives and friends.

Plus, there are two supplementary bonus resources included in this book.

RENEW Love Life Communities: an eight week small group Bible study designed to enable the formation of a team who engages in relational evangelism within your congregation or church planting team.

RENEW Missional Leadership: ten devotions for congregational leaders designed to set up a structure for making disciples who make disciples and facilitate training and support for the church to reap and receive the harvest

Believers feeling confused or apathetic about reaping the harvest will discover here a practical resource which is an encouragement to see, hear and become involved in what God is already up to in people's lives.

What others are saying
Dean Eaton is a faithful guide who gives us concrete ways to join God in helping to bring people into God's family in everyday kind of ways. This book reflects a missional theology that will help you cultivate an inclusive loving community that invites all to live into the divine dance of the Father, Son and Spirit. J.R. Woodward, National director, V3 Church Planting Movement. Author, Creating a Missional Culture, Co-author, The Church as Movement

Sent Seeking the Orphans of God and the accompanying Love Life Community studies are quite possibly the spark that could bring your church alive. Dr Andrew Menzies, Principal Stirling Theological College - University of Divinity.

If you hear God calling you to bring Jesus to your friends, neighbours and workmates, then this is a must-read book for you. Dr Steen Olsen. Director for Mission for the Lutheran Church in South Australia and the Northern Territory former Bishop of the Lutheran Church of New Zealand.

Dean Eaton is an experienced church planter, missional trainer and mentor. He has participated with Christ in church plants in rural, suburban and urban settings in Australia and Japan. Formerly the Principal of Tabor College Australia he is keen to train a new generation of evangelists.

What is available:
SENT: Seeking the Orphans of God book (download PDF available here; or  purchase softcover book from Amazon)
SENT: Seeking the Orphans of God  videos (available here), to accompany the group studies
SENT: Seeking the Orphans of God promotional tools

Read the book, watch the online video interviews with experienced practitioners, dialogue with your friends using the small group Bible study, and get ready to reap the harvest.

Book: Counselling and Christianity five approaches

What does authentic Christian counseling look like in practice? This volume explores how five major perspectives on the interface of Christianity and psychology would each actually be applied in a clinical setting. Respected experts associated with each of the perspectives depict how to assess, conceptualize, counsel and offer aftercare to Jake, a hypothetical client with a variety of complex issues. In each case the contributors seek to explain how theory can translate into real-life counseling scenarios. 
This book builds on the framework of Eric L. Johnson's Psychology & Christianity: Five Views. 
These include:

  • the Levels-of-Explanation Approach, 
  • the Integration Approach, 
  • the Christian Psychology Approach, 
  • the Transformational Approach 
  • the Biblical Counseling Approach. 

While Counseling and Christianity can be used independently of Johnson's volume, the two can also function as useful companions. Christians who counsel, both those in practice and those still in training, will be served by this volume as it strengthens the connections between theory and practice in relating our faith to the mental health disciplines. They will finally get an answer to their persistent but unanswered question: "What would that counseling view look like behind closed doors?"

Visit here to buy Counselling and Christianity five approaches