Tag Archives: Gospel

Simply Sow

sow the seedI recently attended the Best Practices in Ministry conference at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, in Columbus, IN. One of the breakout sessions was led by Lou Jander, a retired teacher and church leader. He and his wife Martha have a ministry called Sow the Word. Their mission is to give a booklet of the entire Gospel of John to as many people as they can.

In their travels, they have given the Gospel of John to waiters, bus drivers, store clerks, gas station attendants, whomever they meet along their way.

Lou talked about the fact that he and his wife serve simply as sowers of the seed, as in the parable of the sower. When you look closely at that parable, Jander said, you see that the sower simply sowed the seed with the expectation that not all the seeds would “take.” Some would fall on rocky, thorny or  dry soil and not take root. That was just part of the reality of “broadcast” farming in those days. But what seeds did take root would produce greatly, the parable says, “yielding thirtyfold, sixtyfold and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:8).

Continue reading →

The Pitfalls of Privatization

public private signsPrivatization is a social position that is becoming more and more prevalent in our society today. It is the philosophy of being noncommittal or uninvolved in anything other than one’s own immediate interests or lifestyle.

One of the greatest impacts of privatization on the Church has been the prevailing attitude that “Whatever you believe, keep it to yourself.” The result is that “it guts the energy out of the Great Commission and efforts to share the Gospel,” which are, of course, the main tenets of the Church (Schmidt, J. David, Choosing to Live).

Continue reading →

Small Churches

small churchAccording to a study done by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), of the 3.6 million baptized members of that church body, half worship in congregations with an average attendance of 150 or less. And out of the ELCA’s 9.393 congregations, 82 percent have an average worship attendance of 150 or less (Lammi, Kurt, “Would They Notice?” Living Lutheran, p. 33). The conclusion? The denomination is mostly made up of small congregations (p. 33).

Continue reading →

Encouragement

BarnabasJoseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet. —Acts 4:36-37

Throughout the Book of Acts, we read about a disciple of Christ named Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement.” His name indicates the kind of impact he had on those in the early church and those he witnessed to on his many missionary trips with the apostle Paul.

Here are some examples of what Barnabas said and did in his travels:

News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. —Acts 11:22 

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. —Acts 11:25-26

This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul. —Acts 11:30 Continue reading →

6 Guidelines for Loving Each Other

loving each otherWe are well aware that Jesus said, “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 13:34), but that sometimes does not come as easily as it could or should even (and often especially) in the church. Because of this reality, Pastor and author John Piper gives us six guidelines for loving each other, which I find extremely helpful:

  1. Let’s avoid gossiping.
  2. Let’s identify evidence of grace in each other and speak them to each other and about each other.
  3. Let’s speak criticism directly to each other if we feel the need to speak to others about it.
  4. Let’s look for, and assume, the best motive in the other’s viewpoint, especially when we disagree.
  5. Let’s think often of the magnificent things we hold in common.
  6. Let’s be more amazed that we are forgiven than that we are right. And in that way, let’s shape our relationships by the gospel. (from the Desiring God website: www.desiringgod.org, August 4, 2009)

Continue reading →

Evangelism 101

Jesus centerIn the Fall 2016 Concordia Journal, Prof. Glenn K. Fluegge focuses on the role of evangelism in the article, “The Dual Nature of Evangelism in the Early Church.” He explains that the two goals of evangelism then and now are: spreading the gospel and preserving the gospel.

That second goal of preserving the gospel struck me as something that we don’t often associate with evangelism, but is so vital in our world today.

In today’s world, in our effort to please and placate everyone, the gospel can become so watered down that it can often lose its core concept: Christ crucified for us.

Continue reading →

Media Reformation

smartphoneAs we are fast approaching the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in October 2017, it is time for us to look at where we are as a Church today. To many theologians, we are in the midst of a media reformation as the Church uses all sorts of new technology to spread the message of the Gospel far and wide in the same vein as Martin Luther and his use of the printing press to get his writings out to the masses.

Billy Graham once said, “It is time for the church to use technology to make a statement that in the midst of chaos, emptiness, and despair, there is hope in the person of Jesus Christ” (Christianity Today, October 2016, 42). It is, in fact, hard to be heard in the clutter of messages being spewed out in social media channels, but it is our task to make the effort and be the voice of promise to a people searching for true meaning in life.

Continue reading →

The Influencers

fish60 Minutes recently ran a story about The Influencers, those young millennials who are making videos on the internet and are hired by major corporations to influence the buying habits of millions of people all over the world. One commentator noted that a single video posted by an Influencer had more power and reach than any TV commercial, newspaper ad and magazine spread combined could ever garner.

The story reminded me of what Malcolm Gladwell explained in his book The Tipping Point about “connectors,” who are the people in a community who know large numbers of people and who are in the habit of making introductions. These relatively few “connectors,” Gladwell said, serve as “agents of change” across a wide swath of economic, social and cultural arenas. These connectors led to the rise of the rise and popularity of Hush Puppy shoes in the mid-1990s, for instance.

Continue reading →

Beware the Camel!

camelsWorking together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain, —1 Corinthians 6:1

I just recently heard the saying, “A camel is  just a horse designed by a committee.” It made me laugh because we have all been there. When you are on a committee, often what started out as a simple idea gets muddled in the abundance of desires and the incorporation of conflicting ideas.

It makes me think about what often happens at church meetings, unfortunately. The ultimate goal sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of details and multiple opinions. Often things don’t get done in the process or good concepts are abandoned, sadly.

I know that so many times the issues are so complex that they cannot be easily solved, but one caveat that came to mind as I contemplated this “camel” conundrum is that when it comes to working together as a team within a church body, we need to do all we can to keep it simple.

Continue reading →

Virtual Witness

worldwide webWhen Jesus said to this disciples in the Great Commission: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations,” little did he know that 2000 years later that would include something called the worldwide web and that the ways we would speak to one another would be through tweets and texts, posts and blogs.

Along with the advances in communication technology, there has been an explosion of ways to witness to others about the Gospel and about our life of faith.

People know more about our day-to-day activities than they ever did 20 years ago because of Facebook and other social media outlets, and that has created more opportunities to voluntarily display what living the Christian life in the world today looks like. And, unfortunately, it can also reveal our sinful nature and the ways in which we have not lived as in line with our calling as Christ’s disciples as we should. Most often these “less than Christian” activities include angry rants and images that often degrade others or ourselves.

Continue reading →