HAVE YOU VISITED YOUR CORE VALUES LATELY?

Core Values are the foundation of a church’s identity and the measure for its ministry. They are the non-negotiables that shape your vision and determine your strategy. Core values should be simply expressed and passionately embraced.
And core values need to be shared.

The Church of God of Landisville, that I had the privilege to lead for 11 years, expressed their core values in this way:

The Church of God of Landisville Core Values:
Core values are the absolutes that guide and govern our ministry.

• The Authority of the Bible as God’s Word
• Prayer
• God’s view of human life in which all people matter
• Evangelism that calls people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
• Worship that brings people into Christ’s presence
• Sacrificial servant-hood
• Spiritual growth that is intentional and disciplined
• All believers using their spiritual gifts to demonstrate God’s Love
• Unity that is true to the Word of God
• Kingdom-focused ministry

What do we mean by “shared.” Simply put, the people of the church (not just the staff and leaders) are committed to those values, as well.

Why is this important? Values determine our behaviors.  For our churches to be fruitful and faithful for the Kingdom, we need to behave in a manner that is consistent with the core values of the Kingdom.  But a church where only the leaders are committed to these values will always be pulled between the desires of the people and the Will of God.  And if the church in general does not share these values, then new leaders coming from the church will have to “won” to the vision that those values create.

Churches should periodically revisit those core values (1) to be sure that those values are embraced (2) to be sure those values enable the church to do the ministry it is called to do (3) to educate the Body at the large in those values.

– Steve Dunn

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KEEPING WORSHIP FRESH

BY TODD AGNEW

Musician, worship leader and recording artist Todd Agnew offers these eight tips for music leaders. See if you can apply some of these ideas in your ministry.

1) Get to know God in a deeper way.

Studying your Bible, prayer, everything you can do in your relationship with God will have a greater impact on your worship leading than the things you work on musically. As a worship leader, you are leading people to love God. So, the better you know Him, the easier it is for you to help them.

2) Remember that you cannot force anyone to worship.

I used to try to coerce, to mock, to drag people into the presence of God. That doesn’t work. In its simplest form, worship is loving God. You can’t force someone to fall in love. The most you can do is introduce them. So, in leading, we must lift up the Person of Jesus and let Him woo His beloved into worship.
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3) Don’t ramble.

In this current worship culture, worship leaders feel the need to talk, oftentime a lot; but remember, the pastor is about to preach a sermon that he/she has spent hours and hours preparing. He or she studied, edited and crafted a message for their people. So don’t just talk for five minutes because a thought jumped into your brain. Your people were just singing a song, focused on the presence, might, mercy and majesty of their Redeemer, and you are now distracting them from that. So you better have a really good reason for doing so.

4) Prepare…and be flexible.

Spend time studying the Scripture passage. Pray about the service. Search your song database for the right songs. Don’t just play songs you like or only those your people like. Plan your whole service to the best of your ability; but when it’s time to go, listen. Listen to your congregation, to your band and most importantly to the Spirit. Following the Spirit requires knowing His voice. You’ll find that most of the time, the Spirit will have been with you in every stage of the planning.

5) Practice.

Being spiritual shouldn’t mean being mediocre. Strive for excellence in what you do. Show grace to yourself and to others, but work hard.

6) Remember you are a servant, not a star.

As worship leaders, we serve. We serve God as worshippers. We serve others as a leader. We are not intended to receive attention or glory. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be gracious when people are complimentary. It just should not be your goal. God’s plan is for Him to be glorified, not you. We can be a part of that as worshipers ourselves and by helping others in their worship journeys.

7) Worship is a part of every moment, not just Sunday morning.

You probably know this already. We’ve taught about it a lot for the last few years, but I find it much easier to follow leaders who I have seen love God off the stage, as well.

8) This is just the beginning.

You never know everything. This list is not comprehensive but is just few ideas I’ve found helpful. Hopefully you will, too. Every one of you could teach me something about worship, because your journey has been different than mine. Every worshiper you encounter has a valid and valuable opinion. You can learn from everyone. Sometimes he or she may share that opinion in an unkind way, but you can receive it graciously.

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LAYING A SOLID FOUNDATION WITH PRAYER

BY REID SMITH (REPOSTED FROM WWW.SMALLGROUPS.COM)

Prayer is a vital component of small-group life. It sets up and maintains the health and vibrancy of your group. Sound prayer practices can affect your group in the following ways:

Positively influence how your small-group participants interact and minister to one another

Empower and mobilize your small group to reach out and incorporate spiritually unconvinced people into the body of Christ

Open the hearts of the hurting to God’s healing power

Open the ears of those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ to the gospel message

For these reasons, you should incorporate prayer throughout your small-group meeting. While each meeting should include prayer, you can keep things fresh by changing how you pray.

Prayer Ideas

Ask a small-group participant to open your gathering in prayer.

If you begin your meeting with a meal, pray for your small-group meeting when you pray for the food.

When you welcome the last person, officially open the meeting with a brief prayer.

Begin your study and discussion time with prayers of thanksgiving and praise.

Pray through your church’s weekly bulletin.

Pray immediately after a concern is raised—don’t wait for the official prayer time.

Be as specific as possible when you pray. Say the names of those you’re praying for.

Regularly pray for one another with the laying on of hands, especially when someone is ill (Luke 4:40; Acts 8:17, 28:8b).

Integrate prayer into your worship time. Spend time in thanksgiving, intercession, adoration, and confession.

Designate prayer partners. One way to do this is to have each participant pray for the person on his or her right throughout the week. Ask everyone to touch base with the person he or she is praying for before the next meeting.

11. Share answers to prayer with your small group. This encourages those praying to continue to pray (Acts 4:23-31).

Pray Scripture over a person or the entire small group. You could use Colossians 1:9-14 or Ephesians 3:14-19.

Pray a psalm over a person or the small group. Commit an entire meeting to reading Psalm 119 together.

Designate someone to be the prayer coordinator for your small group. As this person records requests and tracks answers, he or she will be empowered to lead and use his or her gifts to build up the body of Christ. The record of prayer requests will also be an encouragement to small-group participants as they see how God has been working in and through the group.

Set aside a gathering to do a Bible study focused on prayer. Consider using Ephesians 6:10-20 or Colossians 1:9-14.

Confess your shortcomings and pray for one another (1 John 1:9).

Have each person write his or her prayer request on an index card. Then exchange cards. Each participant should pray for the person on the card he or she has.

Fast and pray together. You could set aside a day to do this together, or you could choose to do this separately but at the same time. For instance, small-group members could agree to fast and pray over the lunch hour on Tuesday, wherever they’re at.

Encourage group participants to pray with their bodies. Have them stand with arms raised for praises and kneel for requests.

Close each meeting in prayer.

—Reid Smith is the Community Life Pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and the founder of the 2orMore small-group leadership training and resource ministry. Copyright by the author. Used with permission.

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CREATING A CULTURE OF DISCIPLESHIP–CLAIMING THE DNA OF JESUS

A decade ago the congregation I was serving caught the vision to be an outward-focused church.  We had honestly examined ourselves and determined that if our church would suddenly disappeared or died, that we would not be missed. We felt we had no significant impact beyond the way we served ourselves.  And that was not enough.

The word missional was not yet in our vocabulary.  We had not examined the Word sufficiently to frame our thoughts in a scripturally significant way.  We had not yet begun using the language of discipleship.  We just wanted to change course and move towards Christ’s vision for his church.

Later we would discover that we would need to create a new culture—a culture we now refer to as a culture of discipleship.

At the beginning of that journey we made a decision to let the Holy Spirit be the leader of the church.  We understood that it was the Holy Spirit’s role to lead, teach, empower the church to carry out its mission from Jesus.  The Holy Spirit would lead us to be like Jesus and live for Jesus.

That meant that we needed to first look at Jesus—who he was and what he revealed about the nature of God and the Kingdom.  To borrow from Howard Snyder and Daniel Runyon,  we needed to take on “the DNA of Jesus.” We need to be obedient to let the Spirit shape us to be like Jesus before us if we were to be competent to do the continuing work of Jesus. To accomplish that, my elders undertook a scriptural examination of what we would later identify as the core values of a church being obedient to the Holy Spirit to take on an outward-focused mission.

As part of that process we identified 10 core values.  We knew to be the church united by the Spirit, those values would need to be shared values.  I remember distinctly, however, one of my elders observing, “These are the values we need to embody, but you do know, pastor, that only about 5 or 6 of them are true about us at this time.”  The result of that discussion was to begin the process of becoming a church of disciples by teaching those core values and working to help the persons in the Body appropriate those values for themselves.

Why is this so important – why is this critical for creating a culture of discipleship?

Largely because many congregations have operated for a very long time without a clear connection to biblical foundations.  They may have clear statements of faith and solid doctrinal teaching, but in practice they operate from a values foundation that has become altered by traditions, values of a churched culture rather than Crist, their personal family values, their personal experience of living in an increasingly secularized culture – and on and on.

Values drive behavior.  Behavior impacts lives.  The combination of values and the resulting behaviors produce the character and identity of a person.  Only the values of Jesus can be expected to produce fruitful and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.  Creating a discipling culture requires first-attention to values that are embedded in the Body.

© 2012 by Stephen L. Dunn

For those of you who are interested in creating a culture of discipleship, especially those of you who are church planters, you want to check out this very important conference coming May 18-19, 2o12 at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio.

To learn more go to the LINK

A UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR THEOLOGICAL EDUCATION FOR CHURCH PLANTERS

The planting conversation today is generally one-sided. We read books and the author speaks to us, we watch webinars and see them teach, we go to conferences and hear them share, but what about our questions? How does what they say work in our context?
LAUNCH’’s goal is to break down those walls that cause the discussion to be one-sided. LAUNCH and the speakers are committed to providing you with time for questions in a smaller context. We want to offer opportunities to continue the dialogue outside the conference sessions and even past the conference itself, so that planters and pastors are strengthened in the mission that God has called them to.

What if you had the opportunity to spend 3 to 5 days with the conference speakers you thought could help you the most? We want to provide those opportunities for you. Our goal is to not be just a conference, but an environment of mentoring, teaching, conversation, push back, and growing from some of the greatest minds in the planting world.

LAUNCH is also partnering with Winebrenner Seminary to launch a new Seminary program that will partner with many of our speakers to provide, what we believe, will be the best church planting program in the U.S. Programs offered will be: Church Planting Diploma Graduate Certificate in Church Planting Master of Arts in Church Development M.Div with a planting emphasis Our Faculty includes: Dr. Reggie McNeal Dr. Linda Bergquist Dr. Phillip Nation Neil Cole Vince Antinoucci Lizzette Beard Glenn Smith Justin Meier

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT LAUNCH GO TO THE LINK