Archive for the 'Evangelism' category

The Tongue Rule Challenge

Jun 30 2014 Published by under Evangelism, Life

By Dan Rockwell

dan3Of all the people in the world, Christians should use words more skillfully than anyone.

“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” Ephesians 4:29 (GNB)

Sadly, we have a reputation for speaking against things rather than for. Frankly, we are often known for negativity.

Positive speech, in some Christian circles, seems like a sin. We go so far as to suggest that railing against something indicates strength and holiness. In reality, tearing down is unbiblical, misguided, and weak.

Yes, there are exceptions. Jesus hammered the religious elite. If you’re inclined to fight, attack denominational leaders who choose law over grace. Call them pretty coffins full of dried up bones.

But, the tongue rule may be a better option.

The tongue rule:

“Only open your mouth to make something better.”

Other than that, be quiet.

Even if you’re pointing out a problem, only point it out so you can explore how to make it better.

Sounds simple enough. But, James, the brother of Jesus said, “But no one has ever been able to tame the tongue. It is evil and uncontrollable, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8 (GNB)

Developing a graceful tongue:

If you enjoy challenges, adopt the tongue rule challenge.

  1. It’s a journey.
  2. Receive and enjoy God’s favor.
  3. Treat others the way God treats you.
  4. Find some friends who are on the “tongue taming” journey with you.
  5. Start again after you screw up. Grace is beginning again, again.
  6. Talk less. But, realize silence isn’t the goal, building up is.
  7. Only speak to make things better.

Dan Rockwell is the author of the Leadership Freak blog, recognized as the most socially shared leadership blog of 2012, in addition to authoring the Grace Freak blog. Currently, Dan coaches leaders, consults with organizations, and delivers corporate and community presentations. You can follow his blogs at www.leadershipfreak.wordpress.com and www.gracefreakdan.wordpress.com.

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Reaching a Rural Community

Jun 23 2014 Published by under Church, Evangelism, Ministry

By Kent Anderson

kentA rural church must find practical ways to reach and serve their community. A change from an inward to an outward focus is only part of the solution. If a church wants to influence their community, the most effective way to do so is the Jesus way- to serve and then share their way into the life of the community. Mark 10:45 says, “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve”, and this should be our model.

The following are 10 practical outreach ideas that rural churches can implement to reach their communities:

1. Assess the needs of your community. Pastors can uncover needs in their community that others are not addressing. Websites such as epodunk.com, census.gov, and dataplace.org will help you assess your community. Ask members of your community what they feel are the most pressing needs. Ask the question, “In your opinion, what is the best thing our church could do for this town?”

2. Meet with community stakeholders. A rural pastor must be intentional in developing solid relationships with community leaders. Stakeholders can include the mayor, school principal, high school coach, and others. Community leaders know firsthand the issues their community is facing.

3. Become a friend to your community’s school system. The question every rural church must ask is, “How can we wrap our arms around our local school?” In a rural setting, the school is the hub of the community. Some churches bring cinnamon rolls to the teachers’ lounge and deliver coffee and donuts to bus drivers. They provide reading buddies to students, conduct after-school programs, honor teachers and staff, provide supplies for classrooms, and assist with projects around the school.

4. Become active in community events. How can the church plug into the community calendar? What events are taking place throughout the year that your church could join? What sporting events and holiday celebrations can the church be involved in? What does the community offer in the way of meals on wheels, senior center activities, etc., in which your church can partner? Offer an event for your community such as a Kidsfest in the park, mega sports camp, hunting clinic, horse-riding clinic, etc. Connect with your firefighters and policemen and women and host a hero day for them and their families.

5. Develop a community group adoption program. What groups, places, or organizations could your church adopt? This program could include adopting teachers, social workers, firefighters, sports teams, classrooms, the senior center, or the local park. One church in Kansas adopted the town’s main street and the youth washed all the windows of the downtown businesses. A rural church in Iowa painted the benches on Main Street.

6. Become a specialty provider. Many rural churches do not have the capacity to run a food pantry, clothing closet, or thrift store. Become the church that has a specialty item — diapers, baby formula, underwear and socks or hygiene products. One church in Montana offers firewood during the winter for people in their community. Another church in West Virginia designated a Sunday School room for teachers and offered them supplies for their classroom.

7. Offer a need-based program. Offer a program based on the findings of your assessment. Programs like Celebrate Recovery, Marriage Encounter, Financial Peace, Angel Food ministry, single moms ministry, and MOPS can be a way to reach out to people in need in your community.

8. Create a helping hands ministry. Organize a Sunday School class or small group focused solely on outreach. The class or small group can pray, plan, and implement ministry opportunities within the community. One church asks each individual department to conduct one service project each year. This way, the church has outreach focused ministry going on in its community every month.

9. Prepare your church for emergency response. Partner with organizations such as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Red Cross, emergency personnel, etc. Train church members to be first responders when disaster hits.

10. Conduct a one-day outreach. Plan a day of outreach that might include distributing school supplies, clothing, shoes, coats, etc. to the people within the community. A rural church in Illinois conducted a one-day outreach called Sharefest and had over 600 people attend. The town’s population is 2,000.in

The impact of a powerful rural Pentecostal church in a community will greatly enhance community life and pave the way for strong connections between the church and the community. As General Superintendent George O. Wood has stated, “We must have substantial evidence of being baptized in the Holy Spirit.” Therefore, our prayer should be, “Let my heart break with the things that break God’s heart – and then let me do something about it.”

 

Kent Anderson serves as the Church Care Network Coordinator for Convoy of Hope – Rural Compassion Ministries. To learn more about Rural Compassion, please visit www.ruralcompassion.org.

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The Freedom of Unconditional Love

Jun 09 2014 Published by under Evangelism, Ministry, Missions

By Carla Ellis

DSC_9157It was a hot and sweaty day in the desert of Rajasthan, India when my Indian friends and I arrived at the village. From the outside it looks like any other village, but behind the walls lives a group of people desperate for true unconditional love.

 

The Rajnats are known as “The King’s Dancers”. During the dynasty period they danced for the royal families, but when the dynamics of India changed, so did the future of the Rajnat people. Societal norms forced the Rajnat women into bar room dancing and prostitution. They are born into the most devastating business in the world, which often begins at the age of 12.

 

We had been ministering alongside our Indian friends in one of the Rajnat villages for months, but this day turned out to be the most challenging. After arriving at the village we began asking the ladies if they would like to make jewelry with us. They said, “No, we must work,” reminding us once again of the horrific life that chained them.

 

Then I spotted a ray of hope in the distance. A young lady named Rakia came and greeted us with her beautiful smile. Every week I had been praying that God would somehow give me an opportunity to minister to Rakia. Not only was Rakia born in the brothel, she was also born deaf and mute. By pointing to the necklace and tools I asked Rakia if she wanted to make one. She quickly nodded her head to say yes. “Finally God! Thank you,” I whispered. Rakia took us over to a wooden bench sitting outside her small concrete home. Just as we began to start, her mother called her away from us.

 

A strange man took her by the hand and led her into a room only inches from where we were sitting. In seconds her demeanor changed from happiness to hopelessness. She was being led once again into the depths of despair, realizing she was moments away from despicable shame and abuse.

 

We were devastated! I wanted to scream. I wanted to pull her out and save her! But there was absolutely nothing I could do. I felt so shallow and helpless. I was so confused about why God allowed this and extremely angry that Rakia’s mom allowed this! How could a mother do this to her precious daughter? Everything in me wanted to let her know what an awful person she was!

 

Then she asked me a very challenging question, “Can you help me?” I hesitated. “Help you? I don’t think so! You just gave your daughter to that man,” I thought to myself. She showed me her hands. They were very dry, cracked, and infected due to the harsh conditions endured in the desert. I must admit I did not feel very sympathetic or loving. I did not want to help her; I wanted to help her daughter.

 

Then the Lord spoke to me, “I did not send you here today for Rakia only. I also sent you here for Rakia’s mom. She needs your unconditional love, too. A love that shows no record of wrongs, a love that forgives, even when a person has hurt you or someone you love.”

 

Suddenly, Rakia’s mom looked completely different in my eyes. I began to see her as Jesus does, beautiful and desperately helpless without Him. Forced to watch her own daughter be raped by strangers day after day, she was also shackled by the generations of sin that have stolen happiness and hope from her family.

 

Then something occurred to me. I remembered I had the exact medicine that Rakia’s mom needed in the car. I had forgotten to leave it at one of our schools earlier in the day. Realizing it was not a mistake, but divine intervention, I ran to the car and got the medicine. Putting the medicine into Rakia’s mom’s cracked hands, scarred by the hardships of life, I prayed that she would find freedom in God’s amazing grace and that I would find freedom to share his unconditional love.

 

Although your journey may not lead you to the deserts of India, there are people in your path every day who need a touch of God’s love. Some are easy to love, others not so easy. My prayer is that God would give all of us divine encounters with those who need it most desperately.

 

Carla Ellis and her husband, Rev. Joel Ellis, are Assemblies of God World Missionaries and currently serve as part of the Global Operations team at Global University, with Joel as Vice President of Global Operations. She can be reached at cellis@globaluniversity.edu.

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The Dilemma of a New Generation

Jun 02 2014 Published by under Evangelism, Leadership, Life, Ministry

By Rev. Nino Gonzalez

Pastor-Nino2Joshua 24

A “dilemma” is a situation requiring a choice between alternatives in which one of them is not desirable. We are living in a generational tight spot. The challenge to believe in God is at its critical moment. How long will it be before this generation in its entirety decides to do away with morality, healthy values and everything that sounds like God? Some social experts believe that in two generations an entire system of beliefs can be gone. What guarantees are there that our children will accept, choose and be taught the things of God in the years ahead?

 

Joshua had to face the same dilemma that this generation is confronting today and that’s the essence of his message in Joshua 24. When we observe the context of the book of Joshua we find a few hints as to what Joshua did and what we, the church and its leaders, can do to influence a generation towards God.

 

First, we see a leader who witnessed God’s supernatural power. From his days in Egypt, all the way through the desert, and now in the promised land of Canaan, he witnessed God’s move firsthand. He ate manna; drank from the rock; benefitted from the cloud and the pillar of fire. I am of the conviction that Christianity without a demonstration of the supernatural doesn’t have a chance in this generation. The God of Moses and Joshua was a “show up” God. He was there, present, doing, speaking, moving, intervening, correcting. Today we defend thesis after thesis on Christian doctrines with seemingly no demonstration at all. What chance do we have against the modern serpents of Egypt? It seems like this world is Pharaoh’s palace and we need to demonstrate that Jesus Christ has more power than anything Egypt throws at us.

 

Secondly, Joshua was a leader with boldness and convictions. We need that type of character today. Christianity is fighting for a position on the platform called political correctness. We want to be accepted by the powerful and famous, (politicians, sport stars, Hollywood figures, etc.) and if that means compromising our knowledge of God, moral and holy living, so be it. Joshua knew that charging a generation to choose between God and the idols of his time meant discovering the hidden philosophies in peoples’ lives. Our pulpits and preaching opportunities have to be modern day Shechem, (Joshua 24:1), where people are confronted with their motives, ideas, philosophies and human principles ruling today’s life.

 

Thirdly, we need to pose the right questions and propose the right answers. Do we want to continue the path this generation has taken or do we want to see healing throughout our land? Our culture might not have the obvious physical idols like in the time of Joshua, but they are embracing the philosophy behind the idol. Some of these are the lack of respect for human life; violence, self pleasure; materialistic ambitions; sexual immorality, etc. These were the goals behind the idols of Canaan. Joshua charged his people to choose. That was a clear call to repentance. He boldly states, “Fear God” (v.14). He was calling Israel to a return to God.

 

Lastly, he made himself an example, “…as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” We need to be examples to this generation. Christianity has the best opportunity when the messenger lives the message. We know we have a dilemma, but this could be the greatest opportunity the church of Jesus Christ has ever had. Let’s choose the right path.

 

Rev. Nino Gonzalez serves as the Superintendent of the Florida Multicultural District of the Assemblies of God.

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