Month: December 2019

What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

Have an interview coming up? Time to get your “elevator pitch” ready.

Here are some tips to get you ready:

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Introduce yourself!

What makes you unique?

What is your goal?

What do you know about the church/organization?

Make a strong conclusion.

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Making Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, that time of year when we examine what we don’t like about our life and make a resolution to change it in the New Year.

Can be I honest with you? I think your New Year’s resolution isn’t going to be as effective as you hope it will, if it works at all.

Is change important? Absolutely. Is commitment essential? Of course. Is improving your lifestyle a wise decision? Without a doubt. So I don’t want to discourage you from writing or keeping a New Year’s resolution. I do want to challenge the way you think about biblical change.

You see, Christianity simply doesn’t rest its hope in big, dramatic moments of change. The fact of the matter is this: the transforming work of grace operates in 10,000 little moments. More than it does in a series of two or three life-altering events.

In other words, the character and quality of your life won’t be defined by two or three life-changing moments. No, the character and quality of your life will be defined by the 10,000 little decisions, desires, words, and actions you make every day.

How you can you be a better you in 2015? Confess in 10,000 little moments of conviction. Be courageous in 10,000 little moments of faith. Obey in 10,000 little moments of decisions. Choose the kingdom over God over the kingdom of self in 10,000 little moments of desire.

You don’t need a big resolution to change your life, because your life isn’t established in big moments.

Your life is established in 10,000 little moments, and Jesus Christ is present and active in all those moments. In these small, seemingly insignificant moments, he’s delivering every redemptive promise he has made to you. In these 10,000 little moments, the Lord is working to rescue you from you and transform you into his likeness.

By sovereign grace, God places you in 10,000 little moments that are designed to take you beyond your character, wisdom, and grace so that you’ll seek the help and hope that can only be found in him. In a lifelong process of change, he is undoing you and rebuilding you again – exactly what each one of us needs!

Yes, you and I need to be committed to change in 2015, but not in a way that hopes for a big event of transformation. Your hope for change is a humble heart that finds joy in, and is faithful to, a day-by-day, step-by-step process of insight, confession, repentance and faith.

As 2014 gives way to 2015, wake up each day committed to live in the 10,000 little moments of your life with open eyes and humble hearts.

God bless

Reflection Questions

  1. What do you want to change about your life?
  2. Why is a New Year’s resolution so attractive?
  3. Why do New Year’s resolutions typically fail?
  4. How can you make changes in your 10,000 little moments of life?
  5. How can you encourage others in their 10,000 little moments of life?

Article taken from Christianity.com. Written Paul Tripp. Paul is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.

20 really weird criticisms pastors receive (Merry Christmas!)

Back by popular demand, here are the latest really weird criticisms pastors have received, with special thanks to the responses at Church Answers and on social media.

  1. “You didn’t send me a thank you note for my thank you note.” Thank you.
  2. “You’re too happy!” I’ll make a point of being a total grump around you.
  3. “I will leave the church if you don’t put tissue seat covers in the bathrooms!” Please flush on the way out.
  4. “I’d be happy to take your wife to the store to help her select some appropriate clothes.” Please do, but don’t return.
  5. “I guess I have to die to get you to wear a suit and tie to church again.” The pastor did so the next Sunday. He’s waiting on the member to hold up his end of the deal.
  6. “Every sermon you preach is better than the next one.” Thank you . . . no, wait.
  7. “Why do we have to follow something an apostle wrote 2,000 years ago?” Yep, that Bible is overrated.
  8. “The VBS hot dogs are too cheap.” What? We got them at LifeWay!
  9. “You don’t tell enough jokes when you preach.” Yes, I do. I mentioned your name in my last sermon.
  10. “Stop talking about making disciples.” Yes, that criticism came from an elder.
  11. “When you changed the name from Sunday school to small groups, you took Jesus and the Bible out of the church!” I agree. Read Hezekiah 4:11.
  12. “You didn’t give good advice about the family vacuum.” Now, that’s important.
  13. “Heard you are going to cancel Christmas.” Yes, I consulted with the Grinch.
  14. “I don’t like the color of your beard hair.” Thank you. I plan to dye it pink.
  15. “Your hair color is too dark for someone in your profession.” Don’t worry. The more I hear from you, the grayer it gets.
  16. “Just because it’s in the Bible, you don’t have to talk about it.” I try to be selective.
  17. “Your wife used the wrong spoon in the coleslaw at the church social.” Thank you. She has agreed to be in timeout from church for one year.
  18. “We need to throw out the guitar to the streets. The piano is the only instrument that belongs in the church.” Yep, that’s what the Apostle Paul said.
  19. “You ended a sentence with a preposition in your sermon.” What is this criticism good for?
  20. “Your pregnant wife is faking morning sickness.” I would be happy for you to watch her throw up.
Some funny…sad and some angry.

All of them are reminders of the challenges of pastoral ministry.

Please tell your pastors how much you love them and appreciate them.

And to all you readers, thank you and Merry Christmas. You bring joy to my life!

Article taken from ThomRainer.com. Written Thom Rainer. Thom is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders

How to Survive a Spiritual Winter

A tree doesn’t survive the winter without healthy roots. Neither do we.

I remember that bleak February morning when my husband and I loaded up our car and drove through the stripped-bare forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains to move into my parents’ basement. Everything felt cold, including my heart. Weeks earlier, my dad was diagnosed with a fast-growing brain cancer which we were all still dazed by.

I left their house only for brisk runs through Ohio’s suburban sprawl, and I came home to more winter as I watched my dad decline. Couldn’t I just escape this season? I had entered into a spiritual winter.

A Holy Season

 

What I didn’t know then was that this was a holy winter. God was doing something underground that I couldn’t see.

In our early thirties, our friends were taking active steps towards impacting the world for God: sharing the gospel with neighbors over shared meals, moving into impoverished parts of a city with their hammers and prayers, and starting foundations to release women from bondage. This, while I was cooking tomato soup and playing euchre in my parents’ kitchen, watching my once-strong daddy die.

It all seemed so unfair.

When God saved me at fifteen, I responded by pouring myself into evangelism. Then, in my prime, I was unable to alleviate the pain for the man who’d raised his little girl to believe that life had no limits. My offering was now a cup of soup.

Yet it was in the dark basement of my parents’ home, listening to my dad restlessly putter upstairs through the dark night, that I started to see winter as holy.

A Tree in the Cold

 

Psalm 1 talks about the man who meditates day and night on the Lord:

He is like a tree
     planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
     and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:3)

The deciduous tree knows seasons. It shoots out nascent sprigs of life and verdant leaf in spring. They and their accompanying fruit unfurl under the summer heat, lush and alive. In fall, the mossy-green alights into gold, but only for a flash before brown takes over and winter starts her pull. This tree is disrobed in winter, but not dead. Motionless, with roots resting and waiting, it ever so slowly grows.

The tree prospers in winter, fulfilling its God-intended purpose. Though, to the unknowing eye, it sure looks barren.

Without recognizing seasons, we might only see that barrenness. We see a prospering life in God akin to the opulent tree in early spring, with leaves and fruit intertwined. We forget that this blooming comes forth because of the preparation that winter provides.

Blessed Are the Thirsty

 

That holy winter — when I felt hidden, unseen by friends who weren’t familiar with long hours of care-giving, passing my days without visible accomplishments and apparent fruit — I started to see that I could cultivate an unseen, private life in God. My roots were still alive, albeit concealed.

In the basement, underground seasons of my life, his word and his whisper became fresh to me. I wanted it, not so that I could teach it or share it or sermonize it, but because I was thirsty. So thirsty. During my daddy’s restless nights, I needed God to highlight a phrase from his word to sustain my little-girl heart.

I wasn’t changing the world; I was changing my parent’s laundry. But through it, God was changing me. With his word cracked open on the counter, he whispered words of encouragement and promise: “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . . my cup overflows” (Psalm 23:4–5).

The blessed man, likened to the tree in Psalm 1, found his delight meditatingon God, day and night (Psalm 1:2–3). Meditating on God’s word — singing it, crying over the pages, taking my angry heart to his word for answers and asking for a surprise rush of his Spirit’s lifting — took on new meaning when I was winterized.

In the winter, I fell in love. He became my delight — because he was all there was. His whisper, my winter song back to him. And this was to his glory.

New Practices for Cultivating Roots

 

For those who are in winter (perhaps even a prolonged winter), there are some reminders that might help sustain our roots:

1. Receive your season.

 

Rather than giving your energies towards wishing for another. The surrender, although painful, positions us to receive all that God intends for that particular season much better than if we fight against it. God is always oriented towards our growth, even in our winter. This is a truth given to us in John 15.

2. Create new spaces.

 

Find areas where you can fall in love with God afresh. Seemingly barren seasons might convince you that your roots are hardened. Not necessarily so.

Thwarted opportunities are a fresh chance to see God through his word in ways you haven’t before. Start a new habit of engaging with his word in the middle of your thwarted day. Write songs from his word. Take walks with your earbuds out, praying a verse back to him. Ask his Spirit to direct your eyes to the ways he is working in the small areas of your life. Winter is a time when the inside can be nourished even when what is outside feels barren.

3. Don’t forfeit your dream for fruit.

 

Our culture is largely oriented toward action. But dormant dreams are not dead dreams; they are often further opportunities for dialogue with God. He created you to desire fruit, and he desires fruit for you (John 15:8). Winter is a time to take those desires to God in prayer. Winter can also be a season where dreams are cultivated.

Thankful for Winter

 

My seemingly barren winter started even before my dad was diagnosed, and it lasted years beyond his death. But during that very long season, I had this single verse on a notecard, propped behind my kitchen sink:

“I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by your name, am the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3, NKJV)

Now, during a kind of spring, I see that it all proved true. He cultivated my roots in winter and gave me treasures that are still producing fruit within me. And it wouldn’t have happened without my winters.

Article taken from DesiringGod.org. Written by Sara Hagerty. Sarah is the wife to Nate and mother of six children. She has written two books: Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet and, more recently, Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to Be Noticed.

11 strategies to help you leverage Christmas to reach the unchurched

Any idea what the best outreach opportunity of the year at your church is?

You might think it’s an event you do, or perhaps it’s Easter. But whether Christmas has historically been your best opportunity to reach unchurched people or not, I believe it could be.

You may think it’s far too early to start thinking about Christmas but think again. Whenever I share these ideas about Christmas each year, people say “Hey, I wish you’d talked about this earlier.” So we are.

So why can Christmas become your very best outreach event of the year?

As our culture becomes more and more post-Christian, we’re seeing far fewer times when the holidays of the church and the holidays of culture sync.

I remember about a decade ago hearing a Toronto DJ refer to Easter as “the first long weekend of summer” (in Canada Good Friday is a holiday and schools still take Easter Monday off…a relic from Colonial days). Good Friday and Easter were completely lost on him. It was simply time off.

Christmas is completely different. It’s the one time each year mainstream culture still pays attention to a Christian holiday.

Our culture still loves Christmas. Sure, you can yell and scream that the motives are commercial.

But Christmas is the only time of year when you’ll hear restaurants, malls, radio stations and Spotify playlists belt out explicitly Christian songs like Charles Wesley’s “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:”

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel

Christmas is completely different. It’s the one time each year mainstream culture still pays attention to a Christian holiday.CLICK TO TWEET

LEADERS WHO COMPLAIN ARE FAR LESS EFFECTIVE THAN LEADERS WHO LEVERAGE

If you follow a lot of Christians on social media leading up to Christmas, you probably have noticed how many people lament over the culture’s disregard of Christ.

In my view, Christian leaders who complain about the culture are far less effective than leaders who figure out how to leverage it.

Well, you can see the obstacle. Or you can see the opportunity. I choose to see the opportunity. There are so many connection points with our culture you’ll miss if you only see the glass as half empty.

Christian leaders who complain about the culture are far less effective than leaders who figure out how to leverage it.CLICK TO TWEET

Christmas is no time for the church to be more cynical than the world, which still remembers something is different at Christmas, even if they’re not exactly sure what it is.

Stop complaining about the world. Reach it instead.

As the general population thinks less about the Christian faith, Christmas provides a unique opportunity to reach people who no longer ordinarily attend church.

What’s surprising is that many churches don’t really leverage Christmas to make the impact it could.

At Connexus Church, where I serve, our Christmas service wins hands-down every year for both overall attendance AND attendance by unchurched people.  Although from a theological viewpoint, Christmas will never be bigger than Easter, when we think of it in practical terms, our Christmas outreach is always bigger than Easter simply because the culture is paying more attention.

Our culture pauses for Christmas in a way it pauses for little else in the year.

TV and film celebrate Christmas in all of its expressions. Almost everyone decorates their homes, businesses, and cities.

On December 24th and 25th, the Western world comes as close to stopping as it ever does.

I’m not sure there’s any better time than Christmas to connect with those of your friends and neighbors who rarely, if ever, go to church.

So with that in mind, here are 11 strategies to make Christmas your best outreach of the year.

Christmas is no time for the church to be more cynical than the world. Stop complaining about the world. Reach it instead.CLICK TO TWEET

1. DESIGN AN EVENT FOR YOUR COMMUNITY, NOT FOR YOUR MEMBERS

So what’s the biggest mistake many churches make each Christmas?

Simple. Too many churches hold a quiet Christmas Eve or Christmas Day service for members and leave it at that.

Others will do little to nothing special.

That makes Christmas the biggest missed opportunity of the year.

Unchurched people want to celebrate Christmas. Why can’t your church help them?

Here’s a hint: if you design your services with the community in mind, your members will love it too. Especially if their friends come and it changes their lives.

Unchurched people want to celebrate Christmas. Too many churches fail to help them do it.CLICK TO TWEET

2. BRAND THE EVENT AROUND THE COMMUNITY, NOT YOUR CHURCH

One of the best decisions we’ve made in the last few years is to take our church’s name off the main branding for our Christmas services.

We simply use the names of the cities we’re in. So for Barrie, Ontario, we’re Christmas in Barrie. In Orillia, it’s Christmas Eve in Orillia etc. Sure, we let people know it’s hosted by a church, but people are looking for a place to celebrate and we want them to know we can host them and their family at an event designed for the city.

We’re expanding our Christmas outreach this year into four cities that are within an hour of each other (which makes specific theming more difficult), so we’re using Christmas Eve in the City as a larger brand.

You can see the way we designed it here. (Note: this is last year’s site. The 2018 site goes live in early November…but you can get the idea anyway).

3. BUILD A SPECIAL WEBSITE

If someone has to click through 15 pages of your website to find your Christmas services, they’ll probably give up. And even if you put it on the home page of your website, it’s still a church website.

We started building custom sites a few years ago for our Christmas services and have been thrilled with the results. Here’s last year’s version.

Again, people have Christmas on their mind, and when the site looks like Christmas and there are free tickets available (see below), it’s easier for people to say “I’m in.”

Sites like this don’t have to be expensive. Get a teenager in your church to design one. Or, for a thousand dollars or so, you can have a basic site put together.

Find an easy to remember URL (like ChristmasEveInTheCity.com or ChristmasInYourTown.com) that makes your site more findable, local and shareable.

4. EXPERIMENT WITH MULTIPLE SERVICE TIMES

Not everyone can make it to your ‘one’ service. This year we’re doing 8-10 services over two days (the 23rd and 24th) in four cities.

Yes, those are long work days for staff and volunteers, but you can reap a harvest all year long from that investment.

We always offer more than one service time, because the reality is that different families have different needs. Young families seem to prefer earlier services so they can get their kids to bed early or have dinner together. Retail workers need a later service. In past years, we’ve pushed our service times earlier and earlier (starting as early as 11 a.m.) at our broadcast site.

The reason? Providing multiple service times gives multiple families lots of opportunities to attend and to invite their friends.

For better or for worse, the investment you make in your Christmas service can determine your harvest all year long.CLICK TO TWEET

5. STRETCH YOURSELF AND EXPERIMENT

To be honest, pulling off Christmas services in four cities has stretched our team. But it’s a good way to test out new venues, new places and new communities in which you might one day have locations.

And it’s a great system test to see if you’re ready for more.

But as every church leader knows, to open a new campus or church in a new community takes time, money, risk and experimentation.

A few Christmases ago, we started experimenting with pop-up sites. In the same way you’ve seen the rise of pop-up restaurants or pop-up stores, you’ve seen more pop-up churches that open in a new location for a night or a month or a season.

You can rent old churches, theaters, restaurants, banquet halls or whatever to bring your church into a new community. It gives you a chance to test the waters for expansion and to bring the hope of Christ into a new place without making a massive initial investment.

We’re adding a new permanent location as a result of our experimentation and will be adding more in the future. It’s also helped massively grow our online reach to cities and communities in which we didn’t have a presence before.

Christmas is a great time to be innovative because unchurched people are rarely more interested in church than at Christmas.

Christmas is a great time to be innovative because unchurched people are rarely more interested in church than at Christmas.CLICK TO TWEET

6. GIVE YOUR CONGREGATION INVITATION TOOLS

Did you know that 82% of people would come to church if a trusted friend invited them?

Yet in a typical year, only 2% of Christians invite a friend to church. Heartbreaking.

Create some full-color cards with details on it which people can hand to their friends.

We’ve tied candy canes to Instagram-like cards to make them easier to hand out to friends. For years now, we’ve also done business-size cards and some full-size posters. The posters pop up all over our cities in places like Starbucks, hockey arenas, community centres and more.

It’s easier to invite a friend to something like Christmas than to a regular Sunday morning.

82% of people would come to church if a friend invited them. Only 2% of Christians bother.CLICK TO TWEET

7. USE SOCIAL MEDIA

Sure, maybe you don’t have the bandwidth to build fresh websites. Just do it for free using social media. Create a Facebook event or promoted posts. Use all your social media channels and get the word out.

Encourage your people to share with their friends. They are your number one source when it comes to promotion because they’re already invested and engaged.

Do a Photo Booth at your church that will create some fun Instagram moments with dressed up kids and people holding a “Join us for Christmas Eve” signs.

When people share your story on their own accounts, it’s far more effective than when a church shares it on its account.

8. DISTRIBUTE (FREE) TICKETS

Why not ticket your Christmas services? Free tickets, of course, but tickets help create demand.

They have also helped us manage fire code.  Eventbrite is an inexpensive and easy solution we’ve used for years now.

Plus, having tickets drive decisions and commitments to attend.

9. LOVE YOUR COMMUNITY

This year, we’re attempting to once again increase the amount of money we normally give to our community partners like the local food bank, right before Christmas.

We’re also participating in local Christmas parades and community events in ways that show our community that we’re for them and that God is for them. 

Love makes a pretty irresistible force when it’s unleashed on a city. And generosity makes an impression on unchurched people.

10. INVITE THEM BACK

Every year, without hopefully sounding like a commercial, we invite people back for January.

They get a card explaining the new series and dates, times and locations. Last year we even played the trailer for our January series during the services (here’s our 2017 kick off series promo), even though it was anything but “Christmassy.” Because our January series dealt with a felt-need (people don’t like their jobs and find life overwhelming at times), it created a huge buzz and many guests returned in January simply because they saw the trailer.

I know inviting sounds basic, but you’re dealing with unchurched people. Think about it, you would never go to a party unless you knew you were invited.

Unchurched people don’t know they’re invited unless you invite them. So invite them.

11. PLAN A CALL TO ACTION

God’s grace is sovereign. We’ve had people commit their lives to Christ during volunteer events and during series about tithing.  So God can do anything.

But you need to do your part. Don’t let people walk away bored or with just a big warm fuzzy. Challenge them. People will leave mostly unchanged unless you create a different expectation.

Almost every year, we give people an opportunity to surrender their lives to Jesus… and it’s amazing how many people do. And when we invite them back and offer them steps to take in the new year (like beginning Starting Point), Christmas starts a journey for them that often ends with them surrendering their lives to Christ.

Christmas can start a journey for many unchurched people that often ends with them surrendering their lives to Christ.CLICK TO TWEET

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF DURING AN INTENSE SEASON

Getting ready for the rush of Christmas is one thing, but how do you avoid burning out, taking shortcuts or otherwise ending up in a place you don’t want to be?

Article taken from CareyNieuwhofThis article is written by Carey Nieuwhof