January, and the start of a new year with the promise of a fresh beginning with renewed purpose... and emails, articles and blogs overflowing with advice on setting new goals and resolutions....
But the success of these new year resolutions is doubtful. I know that, by about March each year, I struggle to even remember my carefully planned goals. Statistics indicate that 25% of resolutions are abandoned within one week, with another 60% within six months. Weight reduction is a common new year resolution but only 5% of those who determine to lose weight keep it off.
So, what about you? What will 2014 bring for you?
A suggestion for this year, instead of attempting ten or even five goals for the year, is to determine three words that encapsulate your focus for the year. Some suggestions might be: 'Consistently Encourage Others', 'Help Others More', 'Inform- Train- Delight'. Someone has humorously suggested, 'Dream Big ger'.
Use these words as a constant reminder of your focus but also as a launching point for action throughout the year. But don't just limit yourself to these words; take the time to think and pray as you claim a special Bible verse or passage for your new year.
Remind yourself frequently of your verse and your chosen theme words for the year. Write the words down. You are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you take the time to clarify what you seek to accomplish by writing them down.
Display them prominently. Print them off and pop a copy in a photo-frame to display on your tabletop. Use the words as your computer screensaver. Find an online illustration of your chosen verse and use it as your iPad wallpaper.
In a similar way, we're identifying three words as our focus for our church: Rejoice- Refine- Relate. We'll be outlining more about this theme for the year and how it will impact our focus and our ministry over the next few weeks and, in greater detail, at our upcoming Vision Dinner.
But in case you've missed some of the great articles recently written about starting your year well, I've included some links below. Maybe a great focus for the year could be 'Read- Read- Read'. Enjoy...
Our sermon series, the Church, has been particularly helpful as we currently consider church leadership roles and our involvement in the ministries of our church family. During our upcoming church meeting next month, which I’d encourage you to attend, we will be considering our own church leadership and nominating church deacons.
So, rather than tackling this subject myself as a church leader, I've requested a guest post for this subject of church leadership … I encourage you to read the following article..
Pastors have a tough job. Most people are looking for their pastor to do all, be all, and solve all.
‘We want a pastor who preaches like Billy Graham, counsels like Dr Phil, budgets like Donald Trump, strategizes like General Patton, comforts like Mother Teresa and inspires like Winston Churchill.’
A pastor is expected to provide excellent leadership in 5 main areas:
1. Provide a vibrant vision for the church
2. Provide road maps and outline, in detail, the required steps to reach the desired vision.
3. Guarantee that all the needed skills and knowledge for ministry are available and current.
4. Keep the ministries ‘heart-healthy’ and encourage the troops to grow spiritually.
5. Provide muscle- lead, organise and execute all the tasks to ensure that progress is made.
The perfect pastor
It’s quite a job description. In fact, it’s not possible. It’s time to shatter the myth of the perfect pastor. In reality, a pastor is no Superman. They are human. They get discouraged; they don’t have all the answers or know what to do in every situation; they get tired and sometimes, need some down-time. Just like us, they struggle with the difficulty of balancing the needs of their personal family with those of the church family.
Certainly, one leader can't do it all. A pastor needs a team he can count on to assist him in ministry. He needs ministry-minded deacons who can support, encourage and help him by sharing the load in these important areas of leadership and pastoral responsibility.
How can you help and encourage your pastor and the church leadership team?
Having recognised the challenges of church leadership, there are many ways that each one of us can ease the burdens, encourage and support both your pastor and the church leadership team.
*Pray specifically and consistently. Send your pastor an encouraging email to let him know you’re praying.
*Serve. This is unbelievably encouraging. Give freely of your time, talents and spiritual gifts and be faithful to the ministry of the church so that the pastor can direct the affairs of the church.
*Give cheerfully and liberally.
*Speak well of your church and deflect any criticism of church leadership on their behalf. Refuse to listen to or spread gossip.
As our church considers church leadership and looks particularly at the important role of deacons, take a moment or two to reflect on ways that you, too, can encourage and support the church leadership and particularly, your pastor in encouraging and practical terms.
This week, we say farewell to our guests from the United States. It's been a joy to have them as special guests of our church family, our lives and our homes for this short period.
We've appreciated their involvement in our Sunday morning worship services and we've been encouraged and inspired by the testimonies they have shared.
For our part, we hope and pray that they have enjoyed their time with us, seeing and experiencing just a small slice of our life and the people, places, scenery and attractions that are uniquely Australian.
It's been said that Australia and U.S. are a united people separated by a common language and our guests have laughingly attempted some colloquial Australian phrases. And we've struggled a little, too. One of our kids from LifeKIDS admitted, "It's a bit hard for me to hear that French accent." We share an amazing bond, though, through our Lord Jesus Christ and it has been a wonderful privilege to hear and share of His work in each of our lives.
We wish our guests God's blessings and safe travel back home and look forward to continuing our relationship over the coming years.
The devastating tornado in Oklahoma and the magnitude of this disaster has generated world-wide attention. Even here on the Gold Coast, it has received front-page newspaper coverage. Our thoughts and prayers are with this community as they deal with the heart-breaking destruction and loss.
The Skit Guys have responded to this tragedy with the offer of a free clip, 'The Storms of Life', in the hope that you can download and use this to encourage discussion about this and other tragedies. (see below)
"We hope that your church community will remember ours. Remember that there’s a community aching. Remember there’s a lot to rebuild––both homes and hearts. Please keep OK in your prayers today and in the weeks to come.' Skit Guys
In Australia, natural disasters are common: drought, cyclones, fire, floods. The predictability of these disasters has been immortalized in the imagery of our poetry and literature, but are you and your church leadership team prepared for it? Can your small group, or you as an individual, comfort families and children and help them cope with disaster?
There are a number of points to keep in mind for children:
1. Children need physical reassurance. They need to be with their family to feel safe. Keep in mind that displaced children will require even more physical comforting.
2. Children need to talk. Listen to them. They need to know others understand and share their worries and concerns.
3. Talk honestly.... but don't scare them. Share worries in an age-appropriate manner.
4. Remain as calm as possible. Maintain normal routines as much as you are able.
5. Expect regressive behaviour. Generally, such behaviours will fade over time.
More helpful information can be found from the following resources:
With less than a week to go before Christmas and the celebration of our glorious Saviour, I wanted to take the opportunity to wish you a season full of overflowing joy and blessing.
If you are looking for Christmas Scripture reading plans at this time, you will find a link to YouVersion Bible on our homepage or click here to access this information.
YouVersion also provides a Christmas story tracker so that you can locate the number and location of others currently reading the Christmas story. (see here)
Please remember that our summer series on the Parables of Jesus will resume in the new year and I would encourage you to join us for this special series.( see below)
Our InTouch newsletter was sent out this week with information and details of upcoming events, prayer notes and points of interest. If you missed this email and would like to be included in our regular mailout, please complete the following online form.
Our Quick Build was a big task.. a lot of work.. and it certainly wasn't easy. But your enthusiastic involvement made the task lighter. Thank you so much for encouraging and supporting us with our Extreme Church Makeover.
It has been a wonderful blessing seeing so many folk working together to refresh this wonderful facility God has provided for us. It is anticipated that the roof for the patio/coffee stop will be constructed this week pending the release of the stamped plans from council. We are also waiting for the donation of a playground to be constructed in the designated children's area.
More photos of the Quick Build will be uploaded soon to the website.
There are only days to go before the 'extreme makeover' refurbishment of our church facilities and our church family is busy with working bees and preliminary preparations for Thursday. Yes, it's a big task and if we take our eyes off God and focus on the mountains of tasks still to be organised and the waves of tiredness that threaten to swamp us, we will become discouraged and overwhelmed. Warren Wiersbe once said that 'Nothing paralyzes our lives like the attitude that things can never change. We need to remind ourselves that God can change things. Outlook determines outcome. If we see only the problems, we will be defeated; but if we see the possibilities in the problems, we can have victory.'
Please pray with us that we will look past the problems and see all that God would have us accomplish in our building refurbishment and in the lives of all involved as we work and share and encourage each other- building, not just a church facility, but a community of God's people.
We'll endeavour to provide updates on our quick-build throughout the week, so keep watching this space.
The church here at Tweed Coast is growing and we have an exciting vision for the work here, in the nearby areas of Kingscliff, Pottsville and Cabarita and within the soon-to- be developed area of Cobaki. This is a growth area for families with even greater growth anticipated within the next few years.
As you would no doubt be aware, our Tweed Coast church family is planning an extreme makeover– a renovation of our current church facilities and we need you. We’re looking to upgrade our buildings to reflect a family focus in keeping with our community neighbours. They’re the people who work, live and love in this community and, just like you, have a strong emphasis on building families that survive and thrive. We invite you to help us make a difference in their lives. It won’t be glamorous, but a little hard work is going to be mixed with genuine caring and friendship. The countdown is on and we're down to 11 days remaining before this work begins.
Is all this possible? Absolutely! We're looking for 100, even more, and already 50 people have signed up to assist us with this exciting project or contributed financially. Whole families have signed up and some have booked accommodation at some of the holiday resorts nearby.. it's, sort of, a working holiday. So, whether you can help for the full 3 days or just a few hours, please join us- painters, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, roofers, handy people, gofers, cleaners, those with ability in food preparation but especially, intercessors. Please join us September 29 to October 1. Register right here on our church website: www.tweedccc.com.au
I look forward to seeing you there.
On a human level, what really encourages people to investigate an authentic relationship with Jesus?
A recent study outlines the various approaches to outreach, evangelism or being missional: Academic approach (teaching, preaching, Bible study) 6%, Evangelistic crusades less than 1%, Special programs and events 5%, Relational efforts 78%. Many rely on the pastor to reach the unchurched or throw all their time, money and energies into creating special events, activities and programs and these are great. But what happens when those families or others from the community turn up to these events? If we’re serious about spreading the Good News, it’s time to be intentional about being relational and everyone has a role.
Thom Schultz recently wrote in his blog 'Holy Soup': A powerful ministry tool lies dormant in most churches. It’s waiting for you to activate it. It’s hospitality.Most think they do it well. Very few do.
This week I met a pastor who’s committed to transforming his church with a palpable embrace of hospitality. Knowing that Jesus exemplified hospitality in his ministry, Henry Brinton of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Virginia, has identified three elements of effective hospitality for churches.
1. Create a “threshold place”—a location that connects the world and the church. This may be a carefully designed welcoming zone at the entrance of the church. Or it may be a different location that is easily accessible to the community. (Lifetree Café would qualify.) And all members need to practice the art of hospitality.
2. Provide opportunities for people to eat together. Jesus demonstrated that barriers melt when people gather around tables to share food and drink.
3. Find ways for people to talk together in small groupings. Hospitality blooms when people open up in trusting conversation.
Many churches believe they excel at hospitality. Brinton tells of visiting one of these, only to be sidelined by parishioners who clumped together to talk with their own cliques.Suspecting that his own church may not be as hospitable as it needs to be, he created a hospitality retreat where his people dove into the theology of hospitality—and joined in actually practicing how to act in hospitable ways.
Hospitality is everyone’s job. If you assign it to greeters and ushers, you won’t be a welcoming church.
The art of hospitality really isn’t that hard. Most people perform it well in their own homes. When guests come, most people greet them with a smile and a hug. They offer food and drink. They engage in genuine conversation. They listen. They show a real interest in what the guests have to say.We just need to transfer our home skills to church.
Church planting and growth has been a focus for most of my ministry. I frequently lecture and speak on church planting and have been actively involved in many church plants. Under God's hand and direction, my wife, Kaye, and I planted the