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

Advertisements

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.

[no previous page]

CONNECTIONS AND COMMITTMENT

by Stephen L. Dunn

Churches who are vision-focused and mission-disciplined are the most likely to be churches whose ministry is fruitful in dynamic and irresistible ways.  There is a spiritual energy to such churches  that serves as a conduit of God’s grace from a deep well of God’s transforming love.  There is a supernatural reality at work that draws the church forward in life-changing ministry.  It is exciting to be a part of such a church and exhilarating to be one its or pastors or leaders.

The Holy Spirit could and would sustain such a movement except for two factors that emerge from our human nature.  We tend to go it alone in too many things and give little time or attention to our relationships as Christians.  The excuse is often in such a church, “We are busy in the work of the Lord.’ The reality is that as we grow busier we become disconnected from the Body itself robbing one another of the daily support, encouragement, and accountability necessary for human beings to participate in a supernatural work.  And as new people are “added” we often do not take the relational time to assimilate them into the Body, i.e., to connect them. New people who do not become connected early often find the back door.  Long-termers who have grown disconnected drift away.

The other is commitment.  We are not seeking members in this supernatural ministry but fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.  Busy churches, caught up in the energy of a dynamic work, often equate numbers and activity as a measure of success instead of making authentic disciples. Disciples who pray, who serve, who learn from God’s Word, who give, who sacrifice.

Churches that seek to ride the wave of the Spirit over the long haul need to make a commitment to the systems or structures that help embed the DNA on connection and commitment into its people.  Otherwise, God will be leading but we will follow only to a point …

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn

Permissions: You have blanket permission to reproduce any original post by STEPHEN DUNN on this blog, as long as it is not altered in any way, is not part of a resource for sale, and proper attribution is made to the author.  A link to this blog is appreciated.  A copy of your use is appreciated as well. Send it to sdunnpastor@coglandisville.org

HOW DO WE DEFINE WORSHIP?

From Dan Kimball comes this thoughtful blog posting on how we define important things, particularly as it applies to worship.

Should the church accountant be the one called the “worship pastor”?

Accountant The title of this blog post and question that I ask is not one I am totally serious about – and not really suggesting we actually do call the accountant the worship pastor. But I do have the question of how we have overwhelmingly defined “worship” to primarily be music and singing.

I have become very aware of the power of words—and the power of defining words. In the Christian culture we have created I don’t believe we can ever assume anymore when we say the terms “gospel”, “Jesus”, “salvation”, “inspired”,  “evangelical”, “evangelism”, “missional” etc. we all mean the same thing. I have learned (and sometimes the hard way) that you need to be asking definitions of terms with specific meaning to understand how someone else uses a term that may differ from your definition.

One of these terms is “worship”.

If you were to ask most teenagers and young adults what comes to their minds when they hear the word “worship” it will likely be singing. I understand why they do, as we have pretty much defined worship to them over the past 20 years or more as worship = singing. Now it is totally true that we worship as we sing. But that is only one aspect of worship. We have subtly taught (in my opinion) a reductionist view of worship limiting it primarily to music and singing as what defines the word and practice.

I try to pay attention to reasons why we define worship mainly as music these days. And it is not too difficult to discover. What do we call the person in a church who leads the band or singing? It is normally the “worship pastor” or “worship leader”. When our music leaders say, “Let’s now worship,” that is when the singing begins. When a sermon begins or when the offering is received we often don’t say “”Let’s now worship” like we do when the singing starts. When we think of Sunday gatherings of the church and when does worship happen, we generally think of the singing – not the teaching or the sacrifice of people who are worshiping by volunteering time in the children’s ministry or other things happening. You look the Christian albums and as we call them “Best of Worship” or “Worship Greatest Hits”  that reinforce the idea that music is the primary—or even only—form of worship. I just read on a Facebook post how a group was bringing in a guest person to “lead worship” and of course this guest person was a musician.We constantly, constantly reinforce by how we use that word casually all the time that it primarily means music and singing.

I recently attended a college-age gathering, and after the time of musical worship ended (I personally try to always say “musical worship” ), the person up front who announced that the offering would be taken referred to it as a time of sacrifice as we give our finances as an act of worship. The word sacrifice really stood out to me as being defined with worship.

I also fully am aware that there are times when “worship” occurred without any actual physical sacrifice. but when you study the whole of the Bible, you will see that worship so often involved the sacrifice of something. Romans 12:1-2, after the first 11 chapters teach on the act of Jesus and His sacrifice for us, tells us to “offer our bodies as living sacrifices.” This kind of sacrifice includes all areas of our lives, and it is costly. We choose to refrain from something we may otherwise want to but is could be sin, so we sacrifice aligning ourselves our ways to God’s ways. The Old Testament was filled with times of coming to worship and sacrificing something. Generally something that was costly with animals or grains – as it showed that worship was a sacrifice of something worth something to the worshiper, but offers it back to God who owns everything anyway. You read in 2 Samuel 24:24 “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.”

What is intriguing is that as we primarily define worship as singing, in terms of sacrifice – singing doesn’t cost us too much. We mentally and emotionally bring ascent to our thoughts as we sing and focus on God. But we aren’t really sacrificing something. Are we? Maybe I am wrong and would love to hear other thoughts. But it is pretty easy to come into a room and sit and then “worship” by singing (which is worship). I am super glad in our church we have worship times of singing. So I am not saying at all that I don’t thoroughly believe we worship in major ways as we sing. But what I am saying is that worship through singing doesn’t involve much sacrifice or cost us. It is probably one of the least sacrificial ways we do worship. Worship it is of course when we sing. But I can’t say it is too much sacrificial worship.

As you look at sacrificial worship, in today’s world what are the two most sacrificial things that do cost us something as we worship? It seems to be our time and most of all, our finances.

At the college-age gathering I attended, I watched the bags being passed around for the offering, and maybe one out of every 20 people put anything at all in the offering bags. I fully understand that people give online, and people may give bi-weekly or monthly, so this isn’t an accurate representation of how much actually was given that morning. Still, this interesting to watch response to the request for financial sacrifice served to illustrate how easy it is for us to worship God when all that is required is singing a few songs, and how difficult it is for us to worship God by giving financially or giving up some of our precious time.

Church accountant In  hyperbole way, I have been thinking about why we use the title of “worship pastor” or “worship leader” to designate the person who leads an area of worship that doesn’t cost us to much to participate in with our singing songs. So why don’t we switch the title to the person who does lead or oversee the area that people generally sacrifice the most – is finances – so shouldn’t the title of “worship pastor” or “worship leader” be the person who oversees the finances of the church?  Usually the church accountant. Isn’t that person the one who truly oversees the most sacrificial worship of the people of the church, not the person who leads the music when people sing?

Now in our church, we don’t do this. Our bookkeeper is called the bookkeeper. It would be confusing calling the accountant the “worship leader”. We actually try not to use too many titles for people and on our bulletin we don’t even distinguish between paid staff and key volunteer leaders in our church leading major areas of ministry.

But I am curious about whether anyone also has thought of this? Whether we unintentionally have reduced the power and true meaning of the word worship by generally assigning the title to the person who leads the music? Have we incorrectly and unintentionally taught youth, young adults to think of worship primarily as singing by how we title roles and use the term? Try listening in your church gatherings to how the word is used during the gathering. I know in our church we try our best to always say what aspect of worship we are doing. “Let’s now worship God as we sing” “We are now receiving our sacrificial worship of giving finances” etc.  Even on our actual offering envelope it says “Sacrificial Worship” instead of just giving or offering. Try paying attention to how you generally see the word “worship” used in the Christian world in general. It is fascinating. Words matter. Definitions matter.

5 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR KIDS HATE CHURCH

by Thomas Weaver

from The Resurgence

1. Make sure your faith is only something you live out in public

Go to church… at least most of the time. Make sure you agree with what you hear the preacher say, and affirm on the way home what was said especially when it has to do with your kids obeying, but let it stop there. Don’t read your Bible at home. The pastor will say everything you need to hear on Sundays. Don’t engage your children in questions they have concerning Jesus and God. Live like you want to live during the week so that your kids can see that duplicity is ok.

2. Pray only in front of people

The only times you need to pray are when your family is over, holiday meals, when someone is sick, and when you want something. Besides that, don’t bother. Your kids will see you pray when other people are watching, no need to do it with them in private.

3. Focus on your morals

Make sure you insist your kids be honest with you. Let them know it is the right thing for them to do, but then feel free to lie in your own life and disregard the need to tell them and others the truth. Get very angry with your children when they say words that are “naughty” and “bad”, but post, read, watch, and say whatever you want on TV, Facebook, and Twitter. Make sure you focus on being a good person. Be ambiguous about what this means.

4. Give financially as long as it doesn’t impede your needs

Make a big deal out of giving at church. Stress the need to your children the value of tithing, while not giving sacrificially yourself. Allow them to see you spend a ton of money on what you want, while negating your command from Scripture to give sacrificially.

5. Make church community a priority… as long as there is nothing else you want to do

Hey, you are a church going family, right? I mean, that’s what you tell your friends and family anyways. Make sure you attend on Sundays. As long as you didn’t stay up too late Saturday night. Or your family isn’t having a big barbeque. Or the big game isn’t on. Or this week you just don’t feel like it. Or… I mean, you’re a church-going family, so what’s the big deal?

MINISTRY SHOULD NOT BE SAFE

Mark Batterson speaking October 6 at Catalyst 2010 shared this challenging observation:

“Too often Christian leaders make the assumption that ministry should be safe. But how can this mindset be supported when 11 of the disciples were killed because of their faith and only John died a natural death after surviving being boiled alive, he questioned.

“I think we need a moment of reality check. I think we made an assumption that ministry should be safe. And I don’t think it should be,” said Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., to a crowd of young Christian leaders at the Catalyst conference.

Citing Matthew 10:16 (“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves”), Batterson challenged Christian leaders to examine the verse and determine if that sounded like Jesus was sending his followers to a comfortable ministry.

“I’m not suggesting that we necessarily put ourselves in physical danger, because we live in a very different time and period and place,” said the pastor, who is known for using movie theaters as church space. “But should there not be an element of danger to our ministry?”

“Maybe it is a vision beyond your ability to accomplish. Isn’t it dangerous to risk your reputation?”

I resonate strongly with Mark’s challenge.  One of the traps of professional ministry is to value the predictable, systematize the Spirit’s work, secure outcomes that are acceptable instead of following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I am reminded over and over that God calls us to take risks to be obedient to His will.  I didn’t say to be reckless, but obedience demands a willingness to trust in God’s protection, power and provision and then follow where He is leading.

Moses had to go back to a land where there was a price on his head.

The priests carrying the ark needed to step into the flooded Jordan before God parted the waters and they walked into the Promised Land.

Joseph had to go ahead and marry Mary.

Peter and Andrew needed to leave their nets.

Ananias had to go knock on Paul’s door in Damascus.

The list goes on.

Pretty compelling, isn’t it?