Tag Archives: Church

Book Review: How to Walk Into Church

Book Review:  How to Walk Into Church by Tony Payne

The Good:

Real Life.  What I appreciate about this book is the raw honesty.  Payne is able to present real life examples of what church is like, honest question people wrestle with, and provide solutions to those issues.  It’s a refreshing look at church and it’s purpose.

No Excuses.  The book is able to tackle the question “Why go to church” head on.  Rather than just get in the minivan on Sunday and drag your family into church, it’s important to answer that question.  Payne will lead you through the routine and lead you through a path of joy and worship on the other side.

Brief & Creative.  It seems there is a myth out there that a book needs to be long for it to be effective.  Wrong!  This book took me two days to tackle (which for a slow reader like myself, is quite the feat).  In it you find creativity, storytelling, plus Biblical principles and solutions.  Payne does a fantastic job of combining brevity and creativity.

The Bad:

The Ending.  This is nitpicking, but it seemed quite abrupt.  Usually books like this sends you out with a conclusion or summarizing though.  Not this one, it ends with Ephesians 2:10, and send you on your way.

The Grade:  A-.  Whether you are struggling in your present church, looking for a church to join, or even questioning the purpose of church…find answers in this book to help you walk into church with joy and a heart ready to serve.

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Can I Pray For You?

A Poem by Jeff Beckley to the church…

Can I Pray for Youcan-i-pray-for-you-part-1

Can I pray for you church? Can I pray for you?

The trials you face, the struggles you are going through

Can I pray for my teens, who battle pressures from every direction

That Satan wouldn’t add you to his church dropout collection

Can I pray for you Moms, who feel the weight of the world

That child’s crying, that child’s angry, that child just hurled

This last week seemed like a hill impossible to climb, 100 miles high

Can I pray for you moms, so God can hear an extra listen of your cry

Can I pray for you Dads, who may feel like you’re losing your grip

If there was a game between struggle and frustration, you’d win the championship

Work is piling up, you just spilled ketchup on your new shirt, and the house is falling apart

You want to just go for a drive, but your car won’t start

Can I pray for you husbands and wives, who feel like something is missing

Having trouble remembering the days of love notes, fancy dates, and kissing

The sparks are flying alright, but not like from your early days

These are more like sparks from a grinder cutting a fender off an old Chevrolet

Can I pray for you children, whose hold on your innocence seems to be fading

With all that’s on the news, movies, and songs…praying you won’t be imitating

Can I pray for those that are hurting and can’t see the light at the end

Today’s prayer will give you a reason to be on the mend

Can I pray for you church?  Can I pray for you all today?

Because we all need strength, so let’s see what God’s Word has to say.

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Book Review: Churches Partnering Together

Book Review:  Churches Partnering Together by Chris Bruno & Matt Dirks81g57-vr2ol

The Good:

Where Do I Sign?  This book is not short on inspiration.  I loved reading the real life examples of churches partnering together, and the amazing accomplishments for the kingdom of God.  If you are not excited to at least explore a possibility of partnering, then maybe you should take a vitamin or something, because it is definitely inspirational.

Emphasis on Prayer.  This was probably what I most appreciated about this book.  This wasn’t just a “How-To” book on church partnerships.  The authors were careful that these partnerships were bathed in prayer and were God-directed.  Very wise move by the authors and should be appreciated by the reader.

The Bad:

Watered-down.  Due to the wide range of denominations that might pick this book up, there were some aspects that required watering down, or at least vagueness.  For example, one part of the book spoke of the essentials of the faith, but failed to go into detail.  This had to be a discussion the authors had while writing, and I’m sure proved to be a difficult task.

The Grade:  B+.  I wouldn’t call this book earth-shattering, but it is high on practicality and helps the reader fulfill the goal of the title.  If you are looking for ways to partner with other churches, this book will provide valuable insight on how to accomplish your pursuit.  Along with valuable examples, the reader will allow other experiences to vault them into a successful partnership.  This book holds hope for churches to reach their greatest potential together for the glory of God.  I’d say that’s a pretty good review.

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5 Reason Church Promotional Videos Are So Valuable

For years, I have wanted to make a promotional video for my youth ministry. I envisions action shots from youth group along with interviews and cool music in the background. Here’s the problem, I don’t know how to do any of that? Or at least not enough to make it not look like the public access channel.

Lo and behold, my brother-in-law starts a cinematography (I can’t even spell that, thank you Microsoft Word) company called 740 films. He graciously agreed to help me with this project. As we talked, I began to expand the vision to the entire church. How cool would it be to have a video for not only the youth ministry, but also a message from our senior pastor, a children’s ministry overview, and another video highlighting the young adult ministry. Why would I go through all this trouble (well, I actually did very little in the production process) to make these videos?

Here are 5 reasons why church promotional videos can be valuable:

  1. Front Door. As you may have heard already, the church website is the new front door for visitors. In 2012, as many as 1/3 of visitors went to the church website before they came to the church. I’m sure that number has gone up since then. So, having a professional video of the ministries of the church will only enhance that first impression.
  2. Awareness.  When we unveiled all 4 of these church promos late last month, it had an interesting reaction from our people. There were several people who came up to me and thanked me for all I did in the youth ministry. Why would they do that now? Well, maybe because they have never visited the youth group.   Maybe they thought all we did was play ultimate Frisbee, put rubber bands around a watermelon until it bursts (which is super cool by the way), and talk about MTV (anyone watch that channel anymore?). But now, seeing the vision and heart of the ministry, it raised the awareness and importance of the children, youth and young adult ministries to the whole church. It raised a whole new level of support.
  3. Advertising.  This basically goes without saying. But in the first day of showing our church vision video, it had over 1,000 views. Being a small church, we rarely see 1,000 anything. This was great to see the word of our great church spreading among our people’s friends and families.
  4. Social Media. This past year, I have had the task of upping our social media network. With the help of some willing teammates, the scope of our Facebook and Twitter has grown from non-existent to somewhat viable. To put it into perspective, the likes on Facebook have grown 5 times what it was a year ago. So with these videos posted on various Facebook pages connected to the church, it will only add to that growth.
  5. Experience.  For some visitors, the unknown makes visiting a church most terrifying. Providing a video of many of ministries along with interviews of the ministry leaders, it provides a number of things. It provides a familiar face when they walk in, even if it just was a face on the computer screen. Also, an explanation and vision behind the ministries here at the church provide reassurance. Our church is not after you money or will do anything that will make you feel uncomfortable when you walk through our doors. This reassurance is vital to anyone that desires to visit the church.

So without further ado…here are the 4 videos (credit:  740 FILMS)

Memorial Baptist Church

Memorial Student Ministries (MSM)

Kaleidoscope Children’s Ministries

Turning Point Young Adult Ministries

 

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I Love the Bride of Christ

A testimony by a man who grew in his love for the church.  Let it be our prayer that we love the Bride of Christ…allow it to be a place of healing, a place of refuge, of place of life change, a place of worship, and a place we can call God’s house.  What do you want your church to be?

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Book Review: Multiply by Francis Chan

Book Review: Multiply by Francis Chan

The Good:31Tm11DrPAL

Reading and Doing. With the application questions at the end of each completed thought, the book promotes life change. It allows the reader to interact with the material for not only greater understanding, but also provides an introspective look at their personal life.

Challenging. Reading God’s Word, sharing the Gospel, and discipleship are not optional in the life of a believer. Chan does an incredible job of challenging the reader, without disgracing or manipulating Scripture. The Bible interweaves throughout its pages effectively and reaches the heart of the reader.

Great for New Believer. For a new believer, young believer, or one lacking in Biblical knowledge, this book would be most beneficial. Chan provides an easy-to-understand Bible survey where a beginner believer could follow along, but still provides depth for any reader. It provides the reader with a great ride from Genesis to Revelation, taking necessary stops to allow for understanding and clarity.

Promotes the Church. As a pastor, I appreciated the elevation of the church in the latter part of the book. As the Bride of Christ, the church should be treated such, and this book does a masterful job of describing the early church and challenges the present church to step up.

The Bad:

Not What I Expected. Honestly, I was expecting a book on discipleship and multiplication of the church through making disciples. Little did I know that this book would primarily be a Bible survey. Although it was presented very well, it caught me off guard, and I walked away a little disappointed. So there’s your spoiler, but will help you enjoy the read more than I did.

The Grade: B

As I stated before, if I knew what this book was all about, I may have graded it higher. However, expecting more training on discipleship, I was a little disappointed. However, the presentation of the Bible, and weaving in and out of God’s Word made for an interesting, enlightening, and challenging read. Again, if you are a new believer and want a better understanding of the first page to the last of your Bible, this book is a strong suggestion for you. Otherwise, it was good review, with enough depth that you will still learn.

 

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Lessons Learned From Tragedy

Recently, tragedy struck our church. A young man died serving our country, and protecting our freedom. His parents lead music at our church, and are the kindest and most giving people. But my goal in writing today is not another rendition of “when bad things happen to good people”.  These are lessons I’ve learned specifically this week when life gets hard.wrongful-death-lawfuel

Importance of Church Family. This cannot be stressed enough. Honestly, I have no idea how people get through hard times without a loving and caring church community. Our church has acted like a family through this. While the immediately family is suffering, so is the church family, but it is the church family that can provide unlimited support through cards, calls, meals, prayers, and encouragement.

New Understanding of Grace. While God’s mercies are certainly new every morning, His grace is sufficient. These two phrases have come to mind on numerous occasions this week. These truths need to be held dear during hard times. Lean on God’s grace and mercy, and know that even in the tears of the night, you will wake up to theses blessed promises in the morning.

Power of Prayer. If you have ever experienced a tragedy like this in your personal life, you may have experienced the power of prayer. You can actually feel the prayers being lifted on your behalf. The burden is lighter because it is being carried by loving brothers and sisters of Christ.

Renewed Appreciation of Salvation. I John 5:13 says we can know for sure we have eternal life. In these times when a believer is taken from us tragically, your appreciation for salvation goes through the roof. Knowing for sure that someone trusted in Jesus Christ provides eternal comfort.

God’s Sovereignty. Even though you can never fully explain these events, tragedies, and trials, you can trust in God’s sovereignty. God has a plan, and there will be evidence in the events that follow. God often uses tragedy to build His kingdom, to change lives, to bring us closer, and to provide change. Look no further than when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to the cross…to build His Kingdom, to change lives eternally, to bring us to a saving relationship with the Father, and to provide not just a change in our lives, but a transformation.

It has been said that you trials are always a part of your. You are either leaving a trial, in a trial, or about to enter a trial. God has warned us this life would be full of trouble, but he does not leave us empty-handed. Our Heavenly Father will get us through, and this week was a reminder of the capable hands of the Lord.gods-hands

 

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Double Book Review: I’m a Church Member & Closing the Window

churchmemberBook Review:  I Am a Church Member by Thom Rainer

The Good:  First off, bravo for the impact of this book, yet it taking only 30-45 minutes to read.  Don’t let the brevity full you, like a featherweight boxer it still packs a punch.  This book contains 6 chapters and 6 ways to become a better church member, each with Biblical backing and strong conviction and practicality.  Rainer does a great job combating what he calls the “country club” philosophy of church membership and promotes a giving, serving, and putting others first membership philosophy.  The opening illustration in each chapter keep the reading fresh and applicable to real life.  If anything, you have to read the “child facing two scenarios” illustration in chapter 6.  Priceless.

The Bad:  The pledge in the back of each chapter may be a little corny.  I get the concept, but could be condensed in the final chapter holding all the truths.

The Grade:  A.  There a great misunderstanding of both the importance of being a member of a church and also the responsibilities associated with church membership.  This books helps solve that mystery.  It is a much needed kick in the pants for those that would rather their backsides not be bothered and heavily cushioned during a church service.  It puts people in motion to properly serve and function in the church body, like Christ, the head of the church, intended.

Book Review:  Closing the Window by Tim Chester

closing-the-windowThe Good:  My fingers may get tired from typing if I listed how important this book is in today’s society, especially for young people.  Here’s a stat for you…93% of teenagers have access to the internet.  Do you know the percentage of teenage boys who have been exposed to internet pornography…93%!  Girls aren’t far behind, with exposure at 62%.  I realize this is under the GOOD column.  Here is the good news, this book provides a solution to the problem.  It offers a five-tier process that breaks through the myths and straw-like answers that often fail, and presents a Biblical, life-transforming model that withstands for the long haul.

What’s great about this book is its approach.  While there are underlying reasons for the use of porn, it goes even deeper than the emotional or personality struggles.  The solution starts and ends with God.  Think about it, you really think someone can defeat porn using filters, accountability, or DVD pass codes.  Come on, those should be used, but the user will find a way around those man-made barricades if he or she so desires.  Removing porn from your life is not about what you are losing or blocking, but what you gain.  Many try to take porn away, but don’t replace it, and then find themselves returning to fill the void.  Let me use a quote from the book to explain:  “What happens if you weigh a life with porn against a life without porn?  Put like that, porn will always win, for it offers excitement, pleasure, thrills…by definition…a lesser life…weighing a life with porn against a life lived for God’s glory.  Porn versus glory, porn versus God, fleeting pleasure versus lasting pleasure, shame versus glory, destruction versus eternal life:  which looks the lesser now?”

The Bad:  The only bad…how this book is not better known (this picture above was only available on google images) & how this book is not required for every man to read.  Let me ask you a question:  Do you or anyone you know ever struggled with porn?  Virtually everyone will answer yes to that question.  Whether you need help, or you are in a position to offer help, you need to consider reading this book.

The Grade:  A+.  Please listen to me when I say this, this is not just a book for someone that is addicted to pornography.  This book will help you in your marriage, it will provide you with a proper view of women, and along the way provide Biblical and life-lasting ways to defeat lust in your life.  I’ve read in multiple articles that this book is the best book on counseling someone who is addicted to pornography.  It did not disappoint.  Read it to get out of your addiction.  Read it to help others with their addiction.  Read it to prevent addiction.  Read it to bring you closer to your spouse (or to your future spouse) and read it to become closer in your relationship with God.

 

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How to Build a Spiritual Home

This past Saturday, I had the privilege to host a Parent/Grandparent Seminar.  One of the session topics was “Building a Home”.  For a guy who once lost all power to the first floor of his house after trying to fix an outlet…building a house is pretty overwhelming…and the thought of building a spiritual home, well that can be just as overwhelming.

So the next few weeks, I’d like to share the basics of building a home….not a house (because I can barely build a play house, and I wouldn’t know where to start).  But a home, well a good place to start is God’s Word, more specifically Psalm 127:1 – Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.  This verse has less to do with the hammer and nails, and more to do with wisdom & parenting.  So in each of these steps, you will notice God’s Word supporting each idea and steps toward building a spiritual home.

Build a Home

Step #1 – Foundation – A Foundation of Faith

How is this Accomplished?

1st, Bring them to church – Hebrews 10:25

Kids Who Become Active Christ-followers as Adults (from Lifechurch.tv)

If mom and dad went to church:       72% of kids will as adults.

If mom only went to church:            15% of kids will as adults.

If dad only went to church:              55% of kids will as adults.

If neither mom nor dad:                   06% of kids will as adults.

Your church attendance makes a difference.  Teens are leaving the church at a rapid rate, and the biggest reason is not they are mad at church, but they just don’t see it as important.  The famed theologian Justin Bieber was recently quoted as saying for me, I focus more on praying and talking to Him. I don’t have to go to church.” You as a parent need to show them it is…for spiritual growth, encouragement, place to serve, for community, and most of all to give glory & honor to our great God.

But it’s doesn’t stop there – the practical benefits are numerous.  Academically, Sociologists from BYU and Rice University found religiously affiliated youth are 40 percent more likely to graduate high school than their unaffiliated peers and 70 percent more likely to enroll in college.  Behaviorally, other studies have shown that religious involvement can also reduce drug & alcohol use and promiscuous behavior.

 

2nd, Don’t be afraid of the “G” word  – Joshua 24:15b “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

The Barna Group published an incredible statistic. It found that less than 10% of families who regularly attend church have spiritual conversations in the home.  WHY is that?

Is the TV too loud?  – The average American spends more than 34 hours a week watching live TV, plus another 3 to 6 hours watching taped programs.

Communication Breakdown – According to NPD Group Research – Devices now outnumber people in America 425 million to 315.  Somebody call Orson Welles!  Is your cell phone a distraction?  Do you have a “no cell phone rule” at the dinner table?  The “distracted parent” has received wide-notoriety, as an article in the Wall Street Journal stated “Injuries due to playground equipment in kids under five are up 17 percent; swimming-pool injuries have climbed 36 percent in the same age group…a tweeting mom’s two-year-old drowned while she was posting pictures of a tortoise that was in their backyard.”

Not a Priority – God and His Word need to the foundation.  Not education, not comfortable living, not even an iPad…it has to be God, and He needs to be brought up in conversation.  40 hours of TV…at least mute the commercials!  Barna says:  Parents that regularly discuss spiritual matters, actively serve in the church, and pray together with their kids are almost twice as likely their child will remain faithful!  Deuteronomy 6:7 explains God should be discussed all the time.  Use teaching moments whenever they present themselves.  May have to sacrifice sleep with this b/c teens open up the most at 11pm…but do what you can to use these teaching opportunities ALL DAY LONG.

 

3rd, Address Doubts & Encourage Independent Faith

Most spiritual doubts occur in jr. high and high school – help them through it.  Don’t dismiss their doubts, but help them to make their faith their own.  Don’t force it on them.  Work through it with them.

If we break down Colossians 1:23 phrase by phrase, it gives us a 3-dimensional faith that we all need to have, especially our kids.

Persistent faith – “continue in the faith”

Perceptive faith – “which you have heard and which was preached”

Personal faith – “and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister”

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