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New Film from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s ‘My Hope’ Ministry Launched Online Sept. 1

“Decisions” film available as a free evangelism tool for churches, individuals and organizations

CHARLOTTE, N.C., Sept. 1, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Over the last 12 years, millions around the world have heard the Gospel through My Hope, a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. My Hope is set to launch an all-new 30-minute program entitled “Decisions” which will be accessible-free of charge-anywhere via television broadcast, internet streaming and DVD.

“Decisions” features a Gospel message from Franklin Graham, president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and looks at the lives of people of different ages and backgrounds who have heard the Gospel through Graham’s 2016 Decision America Tour and made life-changing decisions to follow Christ.

“I’ve been talking to people about the importance of decisions. I see thousands of people faced with a choice… and I want [them] to know the truth,” said Franklin Graham. “Any time you have a crowd of people, I can guarantee there will be somebody in that crowd that doesn’t know Jesus Christ. So, every time I’m at the microphone I’m going to give the Gospel.”

Through the Decision America Tour, Franklin Graham is holding prayer rallies in each state capital encouraging Christians to vote, to live out their faith in every part of their lives, and to pray for our nation. As the tour travels to all 50 states in 2016, Graham is presenting the simple truth of the Gospel-the hope found through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Decisions,” the 2016 installment of the evangelistic films available from My Hope, follows in succession of previous films: “Value of a Soul” (2015); “Heaven” (2014); and “The Cross” (2013). Beginning Sept. 1, churches and individuals will be able to download the full program or view it at that time at www.MyHopewithBillyGraham.org. A free DVD version of “Decisions,” including “A Time for Decision: Pray, Vote, Engage,” a special 30-minute program that goes behind the scenes of the Decision America Tour, will also be available. Pre-orders are now being taken with shipment expected in early fall.

“Decisions,” will also be shown as the Billy Graham television special airing on local and Christian networks beginning Oct. 10. Check local listings for airings in your area.

“We are very happy to offer this resource to the church which will powerfully present the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Steve Rhoads, vice president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, who is responsible for My Hope globally. “The church in the United States has a unique opportunity at this moment to proclaim Jesus, who offers hope and redemption to a lost world. We pray that the good news will be preached and that God will bring a revival to His people.”

For more information on My Hope, including tips on how the available free resources can be used, visit www.MyHopewithBillyGraham.org. You can participate by pre-ordering your free copy of “Decisions” and beginning to pray and prepare for an event in your community.

About My Hope
Beginning in 2002, My Hope has been implemented in 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East. More than 305,000 churches and 4 million individuals have participated, and more than 10 million salvation and rededication decisions for Jesus Christ have been recorded. My Hope was first implemented in United States in 2013, and has since resulted in more than 200,000 decisions for Christ.

This year, My Hope field representatives across the nation have been meeting and encouraging local pastors in their efforts to reach people with the Gospel. In addition to last year’s film titled “Value of a Soul,” churches continue to use other films like “Heaven,” “Defining Moments,” and “The Cross,” which collectively have seen nearly 2.25 million views on YouTube and more than 1 million copies distributed on DVD.

Meanwhile, a new film called “The Worth of a Soul” will release this fall in the UK in conjunction with My Hope UK.

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Care Net Launches First-Ever Program to Address Abortion in the Church

LANSDOWNE, Va., Aug. 30, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ — Care Net, a nonprofit ministry that supports one of the nation’s largest network of pregnancy centers, has launched Making Life Disciples, a curriculum that will equip churches to minister to women and men considering abortion.

This first-of-its-kind program is designed to give churches the training and support they need to serve those in the church and the broader community who are facing unplanned, unexpected, or unexpectedly complicated pregnancies. The program was crafted out of Care Net’s decades of experience supporting thousands of community-based pregnancy centers across North America. Making Life Disciples takes this knowledge and applies it to the unique needs of churches.

The program originated out of empirical and anecdotal evidence that churches are not proactively engaged in ministry around abortion, even though abortions are not uncommon in the church. National data, such as that produced by the Guttmacher Institute, suggests that 54% of women who have abortions identify themselves as Christians. Care Net’s own research, released in November of 2015, found that 4 in 10 women were regularly attending church at the time of their abortion. (full report available at www.care-net.org/making-life-disciples-resources)

Given the frequency of abortion in the church and the lack of specific ministries or programs in the church to address this crisis, Care Net created Making Life Disciples.

“At Care Net, we believe that ‘life decisions need life support,’ and the church is the instrument God ordained to provide life support to women, men, and families to empower them to choose life for their unborn children and abundant life for their families,” said Roland C. Warren, president and CEO of Care Net.

This is especially true in urban areas, where there are often high concentrations of abortions and abortion providers, but few pregnancy centers. Even though Care Net currently supports a network of over 1,100 affiliated pregnancy centers across North America, relatively few of these centers are in urban areas. However, there are 350,000 churches in the United States, including many in urban communities. Making Life Disciples will mobilize and equip these churches to become the only life-affirming entities in their communities addressing abortion.

Additionally, even in communities with pregnancy centers, Making Life Disciples will create a bridge between those centers – which are set up for short-term support – and local churches, which are designed to provide long-term discipleship.

Additionally, while pregnancy centers primarily reach women and men who are not regular church attenders, Making Life Disciples is designed to reach those inside the church who may be unable or unwilling to visit a local pregnancy center, but are still in need of help with their pregnancy decision. Through providing such help, the church can then act as a conduit to the local pregnancy centers, who can continue to provide unique services such as free ultrasounds.

Dr. Tony Evans, Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX understands the unique role the church must play in ministering to abortion-minded women and men. “The pastor of a local church must somewhat view himself as a thermostat that sets the atmosphere and the temperature for how the church functions, particularly when it relates to people who are caught in circumstances such as unplanned pregnancies,” Evans said in a video produced for the curriculum.

Making Life Disciples is a comprehensive, six-part DVD curriculum, supplemented by printed leaders’ and participants’ guides. The sessions – such as “Pregnancy: Facing the Unknown,” “Connection, Communication, and Compassion,” and “Life-Affirming Alternatives” – are delivered by seasoned professionals of the family strengthening and pregnancy center movements, such as Roland C. Warren, Linda Cochrane, Cynthia Wenz, Ryan Bomberger, Jeanneanne Maxon, and Eric Scalise, Ph.D.

Regarding the plan for the program, Mary Chapman, Care Net’s Director of Church Outreach and Engagement, said, “Care Net will work through denominations, individual churches, ministry networks, and its network of pregnancy centers with the goal of equipping 1,000 churches with Making Life Disciples by 2020.”

“Because this is an issue of life, and God is the author of life, then we must be in life-related issues. For us it’s a priority and it should be a priority for any pastor concerned about comprehensive ministry,” said Dr. Evans in another curriculum video.

More information and supporting resources are available at makinglifedisciples.org and the program can be purchased at store.care-net.org/for-churches.

Founded in 1975, Care Net supports one of the largest networks of pregnancy centers in North America and runs the nation’s only real-time call center providing pregnancy decision coaching. Acknowledging that every human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection, Care Net offers compassion, hope, and help to anyone considering abortion by presenting them with realistic alternatives and Christ-centered support through its life-affirming network of pregnancy centers, organizations, and individuals. Learn more at www.care-net.org.

Preaching as an Act of Listening

By Robert A. Crutchfield, Founder and Editor FaithInspires.Org

Most of the time when we think of preaching, we think of speaking and of course it is. I also am blessed to have been gifted by God with a strong speaking voice, and  a quick mind which greatly enables that gift. What amazes me is how much listening can go into great preaching.

When I preach it rarely turns out exactly the way I wrote it. As I am preaching the Holy Spirit nearly always adds to what I have to say. Its not unusual for me to step out of the pulpit thinking, ” Boy I wish I had thought of that parable, or verse or illustration when I was writing today’s sermon !”

Several people have even commented that they can see much of  a prophetic nature to my sermons. They could be  right. What I do now that we probably all should more often seek the Holy Spirit as the co-author of our messages. How do I know that it is the Holy Spirit at work at such times ? Simply, that nothing short of the spirit of God would work so hard, and so directly to advance HIS purposes.

So how do we add this power to our sermons ? Unfortunately I don’t think this can be completely taught. There is very much a metaphysical aspect  to this kind of preaching. Prayer of course is as always a good start. Prayer that the Holy Spirit fills us to overflowing, especially when we are preaching. Prayer that our minds will be open to the Spirit’s leading when it is there. Prayer that we will properly interpret what God is trying to tell us through his spirit.

Perhaps most importantly we have to open our hearts and our earthbound minds to the possibility of preaching this way. We also as in inquiring many other skills must be willing to practice this type of preaching before attempting it in front of  a”live” congregation. It also is  a type of preaching which requires a great deal of trust in God. So it requires a degree of Christian maturity that allows a preacher to let go of himself and his abilities, and truly turn his message over to God. Then again if we are truly preaching as we should isn’t it actually God’s message to begin with ?

 

What Should I Preach ?

By Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield

One of the most frequent questions I get especially from new minsters is how do they know what to preach. It can seem daunting at first. A new topic every week for the next several decades of their career. First of all nobody can handle a career’s worth of decisions all at once But I wanted to commit some ideas to paper for those who might find themselves stuck for a sermon topic.

PRAY- I can think of nothing that a minister does that should not begin with prayer anyway. When teaching God’s word we certainly should do so. I know of churches with special facilities just to pray for their pastor while he is preaching. So there is little doubt that preaching and pray go hand in hand.

OPEN YOUR BIBLE- After you have prayed. If you are stick stuck for a topic, open your Bible to any random spot and start reading. As you read to your congregation listen hard. I would not at all be surprised if the Holy Spirit starts to bring things to your mind through your heart. Believe it our not it is not unusual for me to change my sermon while I an giving it for just such a reason.

PREACH YOUR NEED-Recently I was talking to a minister who had just given his first sermon. I was telling him about the time I asked a group of ministers. My question to them was, how many had preached a sermon only to realize that they needed it as bad or worse than those they were preaching to. Several admitted that this very thing happened to them all the time. The teaching point here is “preach your need.” If you are struggling for a topic, think about your own spiritual needs. You might be amazed how many people in your congregation need to hear the same message !

BRING IT BACK TO THE CROSS- We can never go too far wrong by reminding people of what makes us as Christians unique. It is Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that makes what we believe different than every other faith on Earth. The Cross rightfully infuses everything we teach. So why not make that connection clear in our teaching ? Think about this from Steven J. Lawson’s book The Kind of Preaching God Blesses, “ We live in a time of severe drought for the proclamation of Jesus Christ and him crucified that is Spirit-empowered. There are few clouds in sight, and no rain is forecast.”

I have been saying for years that the Old Testament is under taught. You can’t truly understand what Christ did at Calvary unless you understand what went before. The entire Bible is about what happened at the cross. Try taking an old sermon and exploring how what you taught previously relates to Christ’s sacrifice for our sins.

HAVE A BACKUP OR TWO- Stuff happens in life. As ministers we are not immune to stuff happening in our lives. It can’t hurt when you have the time to prepare a backup sermon or two just in case. This will also equip you to better respond if a last minute preaching opportunity crops up.

Obviously these are not the only ways to decide what to preach. There may even be better ways out there. However it is my hope and prayer that I have been able to give you some much needed additional tools to aid your sermon preparation.

Top 10 Sermons of 2013 from PreachingToday.com

CAROL STREAM, Ill., Jan. 2, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ — PreachingToday.com, a ministry of Christianity Today, announced the Top 10 Sermons of 2013 that highlight relevant concerns and challenges that pastors must address in the present-day Church.

PreachingToday.com offers the world’s most powerful sermon and sermon illustration

database to help preachers teach the Bible in a fresh way. The tools and training provided through PreachingToday.com help to guide and direct pastors as they connect with culture, develop preaching skills, and face challenges in the pulpit.

With more than 12,000 sermon illustrations and 1,000 sermons, PreachingToday.com provides ideas and tips to help preachers connect with the Holy Spirit and craft sermons in a unique way for the edification of the local church. The Top 10 Sermons of 2013 highlight current preaching trends and themes being addressed in the church today. According to Matt Woodley, Managing Editor of PreachingToday.com, “In the wake of broad and rapid cultural changes, preachers are seeking resources for addressing controversial social issues from a biblical, pastoral stance. But many of the sermons on this list reflect classic, unchanging concerns of Christian living — renewing the church (#2); dealing with grief, suffering, and doubt (#3, #5, and #6); understanding God’s character (#7, #9, and #10); and growing in generosity and gratitude (#4, and #8).”

1. Homosexuality
Your primary identity is not your sexuality; it is who you are as a man or woman in Christ.
By Rick McKinley

2. The Marks of a Renewed Church
Four things about the church that should never change.
By John Stott

3. Mediation for a Fallen Police Officer
In times of deep crisis the Bible offers even deeper words of encouragement.
By Stuart Briscoe

4. A Psalm for Thanksgiving
You have a duty to give thanks to God for who he is and what he has done for you.
By H.B. Charles

5. What to Do When Your Fig Tree Doesn’t Blossom
We can trust the person of God even when we can’t grasp the plan of God.
By Jeffrey Arthurs

6. Finding God in the Dark
By bringing our laments to God, we engage God and declare our trust in Him.
By Chuck DeGroat

7. God Is Holy
Gaining a glimpse of God’s fire.
By Dan Meyer

8. The 10 Financial Commandments
How are we doing when it comes to living with financial wisdom? Let these 10 biblical principles serve as a guide.
By John Ortberg

9. The World’s Best Love Story
God keeps pursuing us and waiting for us to cast ourselves on His faithful love.
By Haddon Robinson

10. What Child Is This?
What’s the big deal with Christmas? Jesus is God ‘with’ us and ‘for’ us.
By Juan Sanchez

In addition to insight into the church, these sermons also provide a sampling of more than 1,000 downloadable sermons provided by PreachingToday.com. Editors choose high-quality and biblically based sermons that serve as models for preaching and guide preachers in crafting sermons for the local church. “In the coming year,” says Matt, “we’ll continue to offer sermons that are grounded in Scripture, well-organized and illustrated, and relevant for people in ministry context.”

Click here to visit PreachingToday.com and read more about the Top 10 Sermons of 2013.

To gain complete access to these sermons and the powerful sermon illustration database, sign up for a free 30-day trial at PreachingToday.com.

What’s My Place in Ministry ?

Recently an old friend from junior high wrote to ask my help in defining his place in ministry. It got me to thinking about all the other people who feel called to ministry, but can’t nail down the specifics. There are others that want to use their faith to help people, but don’t even realize yet they are being called to ministry of some sort.

 

First it is helpful to look at the three basic ways that ministry is included in a person’s life.

 

  1. Lay Ministry- Lay ministers hold no formal ministry credentials. They also usually hold full time jobs outside their ministry. Lay ministers often serve with no salary, or very little compensation. They serve because their love of God is so strong, they must minister even if they must make their living other ways.
  2. Bi-vocational ministry- Bi-vocational ministers usually hold some sort of formal ministry credentials. They may also have extensive religious training. However they also have full or part time jobs out in the secular world. They usually work with smaller churches or ministries which cannot pay them a full time salary. They love God, and are so devoted to their ministry that they will work two jobs to make it work.
  3. Full-time ministers- Are no less devoted, nor love God less than the other two types. They however spend their full-time efforts on ministry. They nearly always have some form of formal ministry credentials, and even college degrees in some religious subject. They usually work in mid to large churches and ministries.

 

 

So if you are trying to find your place in ministry one of the first things you need to do is think and pray about which of the above categories best describes the ministry God is given you the vision for.

 

After that you should give a lot of prayer and thought to three questions,

 

  1. What are your gifts ? ( What are you good at ?)It is not only possible that your entire life has seen God preparing you for the ministry you are about to enter. What are your hobbies ? What have you learned from the jobs you’ve held ? Have you been married for many years ? Try to make a very complete, and very specific list of the skills God has given you that you want to offer back.
  2. Who are you being called to ? Here again be specific. Are you called to college aged adults ? Single mothers ? Abused children ? Your answers to these questions will help you give shape to God’s vision for your ministry.
  3. Where are you called to ? Think and pray real hard about the idea of does God want you to minister where you are or is he trying to move you ? Does he want you to stay put, but venture into a different part of town perhaps ?

 

Ministry is a lot more varied than most people think. Don’t forget to include your current church pastor in the process of exploring your call. No brief article like this is going to answer all your questions. However I pray that this article will bless your infant ministry by getting your planning off to a solid start !

Comissioned as Agents of God.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

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Mathew 28:18  And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ” All authority has been given unto to me in Heaven and on Earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Christians refer to these words as the “Great Commission.” One of the interesting points is that Christ makes no mention of  pastors, or bishops or what we these days would call religious leaders. So it would seem that he is speaking to the average believer.  Notice that he also says nothing about the place they are, or any other place. In fact he tells us to GO. Several times over the years I have commented that not since Christ himself walked the earth, has there been a more exciting time to be in ministry. the internet in particular has made it very easy for even the least of us to impact people even to “all nations.”

We are all called to reach people for Christ, to help them become baptized, and to teach them. There are of course those of us who are blessed to spend much, even most of our time in studying and teaching the word of God. however this vital task is entrusted to all Christians. We are all called to spread the word, and model the love of God to our hurting world in a variety of ways. One of the biggest clues to the specifics of what we are called to do, are the gifts (skills) God has given us to equip us for his ministry.

While we are all called not everyone is called to pastor a church. Some are called to be teachers, others counselors, others still to things we might not even think of as ministry. Its also important to note that it is our actions both formal and informal that have the greatest impact of people’s lives not what we say.

So I invite you to inventory your God given talents, dive even deeper into your study of God’s word, and explore how you can spread news of His love to people who desperately need it !

Nelson Searcy Workshop in One Week.

One week from today nationally known church growth expert Nelson Searcy will be here in Katy to conduct one of his church growth workshops. I was able to arrange things with my secular employer so that I can be there. I can’t wait. Although I am truly unsure what has me more exited, to learn church growth ideas to help plant our church, or having the opportunity to meet so many of my ministry colleagues from around our area.

 

As a bi-vocational minister I am constantly working to balance the demands of my ministry, with those of the job that pays the bills. More and more ministers are b-vocational these days so I am by no means alone in that struggle. It’s always a blessing to me to be among others doing the Lord’s work, and learning how to be better ministers together.

 

I should even be able to come up with a good item or two for this blog in the process, so stay tuned !

We Then That Are Strong

Romans 15:1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.

Some of us have been given the gift of physical strength, some of us have not. Some are strong in the areas of knowledge and education,some have not been so lucky. God has given each of us specific gifts. It is the unique blend of strengths and weaknesses within each of us, that makes each of us uniquely suited for service (ministry) to others. It may even be the strength of your life experience that someone else so desperately needs aid of. Some of the best drug and alcohol counselors for example are themselves former substance abusers.

The point is no matter how weak we feel at times, each of us has our unique strengths to contribute to those around us. Too often we seem to concentrate on the restrictions of our life. When we do we leave God’s gifts, and his intended successes for us on the table. I wish we could erase the word can’t not only from our vocabulary, but our comprehension !

Work as you awake every day not to focus on what can’t or won’t get done that day. Focus instead on where God has made you strong, on who you can share that gift with, and the triumph that you and each day were made for.

Saddleback Adds Military Campus in Afghanistan

In my world there is no such thing as being caught up on your reading. That doesn’t mean I don’t try. This morning I was reading up on some Christian religious news when I ran into  this article on how Saddleback Church in Southern California, created a branch campus of their church for our military men and women at a base in Afghanistan.

My immediate reaction was that this was one of the greatest ideas I had heard of in a long time. I have the greatest respect for the chaplains that serve in our military. However providing these kinds of  efforts to take some of the workload off of them is something we in the church world should have done a long time ago.

I have loved the United States Military ever since I was a child. That love only grew in 1983 when I joined the Texas State Guard. That love for our military inspires me as a minister to try and meet at least some of their needs where God gives me the opportunity. That’s why as we get Compassion Church of Katy up and running “military ministries” is one area I would like us to be involved in.

Katy, Texas where we are planting our church is not near any large military bases. However what Saddleback and other groups are doing proves that we don’t have to be. Technology for one thing is opening many incredible opportunities for ministry. The Katy Area is also home to many veterans, and military families, so this mission field is probably a lot nearer to our doorstep than we think.

As we go about organizing our church, and then growing it I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. However their are others around the country who are doing things much like I would like our church to do. do. Let’s learn from their example, help them where we can and improve on it where we get the chance.