leadership

Pray About Everything

I’m using Mark Bethea’s book, 30 Days of Hope for Peaceful Living, as part of my devotional material for January. The topic of Day Five is Prescriptive Prayer. Mark writes, “Paul declares that if we are not to be anxious about anything, then we pray about everything. If we mix prayer with rejoicing and add thanksgiving, we have a recipe for living free from our anxious tendencies.” Later he outlines the exact prescription for dealing with anxiety and living with the peace of God.

 

We pray.

We pray about everything.

 

What a great reminder as we begin 2017. As we try to discern God’s future for us, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything. When friends, family members, and colleagues have hurts both large and small, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything. When we are overwhelmed by our list of tasks to accomplish, let’s pray. Let’s pray about everything.

When the Church Gets It Right

Wheels of the World

Have you ever felt burdened by the woes of the church? I know I have. It seems like every morning there’s some new scandal or financial indiscretion plastered all over the daily news. Sometimes the weight of it all gets a little hard to handle. That’s why stories of encouragement, like the one I’m about to share with you, are so important to tell!

Seven Trends That Affect Your Church

church pews

Do you long for the “good old days”? I often hear friends talk about “the way it was when we were kids.” And, those were good days—playing outside after dark, riding my bike (without a helmet or pads) to the nearby store, standing up on the front seat of my daddy’s pickup, playing with a friend who had contracted polio as an infant, worrying about a nuclear bomb attack from the Russians . . . Well, maybe not all of the days were so good.

For my parents, my “good, old days” were their “scary future”. My scary future is the world inhabited by nieces and nephews who do not know a world where polio and small pox vaccines were necessary. Yet, they also live with the pressure of a future that is changing more rapidly than any of us can fathom.

The church is no different. Is your church living in the “good, old days” or trying to make sense out of the “scary future”? Perhaps it is trying to do both, struggling to let go of old ways and yet, not quite ready to embrace the new. The new is exciting, but it is also frightening when we do understand what is happening around us.

Are We Spending Too Much?

Imagine this conversation between a pastor and a WMU director:

Pastor: “You know, I’ve been thinking about our missions education program. I’m concerned that we spend too much money on curriculum and missions products.”

WMU Director: “Pastor, I’m with you! We all want to protect God’s money that is given to the church. And, as the WMU director, I constantly watch how much we much spend and why we spend it. Our leadership team regularly evaluates our missions education budget and we try to squeeze as much out of it as possible.”

Pastor: “Have you considered dropping WMU materials and going with another missions education program? There must be a lot of them out there.”

Sharing Our Faith

As a seminary student, I was required to take a class on personal evangelism (in simple terms, a class on how to share Jesus with others). Before the end of the semester, we were required to make a certain number of personal visits with people in the community.

Some people will say that a seminary student shouldn’t have to take a class to be taught how to share Jesus with others; it should come naturally for someone called to serve God.

But for busy students who are trying to complete their academic work, maintain a family life, and work full- or part-time in a secular or church position, it is often difficult to focus on personal evangelism. Yes, I know seminary students should be about “God’s work,” but it’s still difficult to find time to focus on sharing Jesus with others.

That last statement probably isn’t limited to busy seminary students. More than likely, most of us need a little push to reach outside our comfort zones, to share our faith with others, and to lead others to a personal relationship with Jesus.

ABCs of Salvation

Do we have good news for you!

God loves you and every person in the world. He loves us very much!

There’s also bad news. Each person has sinned. We have done things God does not like.

Here are three ways to turn the bad news into good news. We call these the ABCs of Salvation.

A-dmit that you are a sinner. Repent, turning away from your sin. (Read Romans 3:23; 6:23; 1 John 1:9–10; Acts 3:19.)

This means that you understand you have broken God’s rules. You want to stop breaking His rules and only do things that honor Him.

B-elieve that Jesus is God’s Son and accept God’s gift of forgiveness from sin. (Read Acts 4:12; Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8–9; and John 1:11–13; 3:16.)

This means you understand that Jesus took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross. Then He rose from the dead. By believing this and accepting His gift, we can have forgiveness for our sins.

C-onfess your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. (Read Romans 10:9–10; 10:13.)

Following Well: 3 Secrets Great Leaders Know

While leadership sounds appealing, many consider following to be subservient. “I’ll never be a follower” is a statement we often hear. In the course Follower Skills, Danette High states, “We will spend far more of our lives following than leading. Following is not a place to let your guard down, or to take a break from leadership.”

Great leaders understand the vital and dynamic relationship that must exist between leaders and followers. They also know when to lead and when to follow. These leaders remain excellent followers. Danette compares following and leading to a couple dancing. “Both have their own moves, but if the leader and follower truly partner, that’s where the beauty occurs.”

Since developing follower skills is practically non-existent in leadership training, many leaders have no idea how to do so. There are at least three secrets that great leaders know about following well.

Why Is It Important?

Before I came to national WMU, I served as a pastor in Alabama, Mississippi, and Virginia. The churches I served had varying levels of missions participation and missions education. At each church, I encouraged the missions organizations in their work and tried to assist them where I was most needed.

I will admit that, at times, it was difficult for me to know how best to support the work of WMU in the churches I served. You see, as most pastors will tell you, there are literally thousands of things that pull at you, day in and day out. It’s easy for a pastor to get distracted or simply misunderstand something that’s really important in his church’s WMU organization.

However, that all changed the day my WMU director presented me with my own copy of the WMU Year Book! My WMU director set up a meeting with me in my office. When she arrived, she presented me with the WMU Year Book. She told me what was found in the Year Book. We talked about things coming up in WMU, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, and countless other missional things I needed to know for the coming year.

Five Ways to Keep "Love Your Neighbor" Going All Year Long

teach children to help neighbors by working in the yard

Reports are coming in from all across the country. Children and their leaders have taken part in an amazing effort to “Love Your Neighbor.” For our tenth annual Children’s Ministry Day, we encouraged you to get out there and seek out inventive ways to serve those closest to you. But now that CMD 2017 is over, where do you go from here?

Here are 5 ways you can keep “Love Your Neighbor” going all year long:

Children’s Ministry Day: Growing, Maturing, and Making Mistakes

Last week, my son, Evan, turned 9 years old.

During his lifetime, I’ve watched him grow, change, and mature.

I’ve also watched him make more than a few mistakes along the way.

That’s the nature of growth and getting older.

Evan’s mother and I regularly pray that he will learn from his mistakes and continue to mature into the man God intends for him to be.

Children’s Ministry Day is 1 year older than Evan. This February, we celebrate the 10th annual Children’s Ministry Day (CMD)!

Over the years, we’ve had thousands of children across North America participate in hands-on ministry opportunities in their communities. Children have fed the hungry, visited shut-ins, collected clothes, and helped with yard work, all in the name of following Christ and putting their love into action.

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