A Story of Unwavering Faith

fearWhat would you do if a gun was pointed at your chest and you were asked, “Are you a Christian?” and you knew that your response meant life or death? Such was the situation facing Saratu, a 16 year old, who was captured by the militant Islamic group, Boko Haram. One of her captors said, “Today your end has come. Kneel down. Are you a Christian or a Muslim?” Saratu answered boldly, “Yes, I am a Christian.”  She was asked to recant her faith in Jesus to which she responded, “I can’t change my religion. No, I will not repent.”  At this point the soldier pointed the gun at her chest. “Repent or I will shoot you!” Knowing her life was likely over, she repeated, “I won’t change my religion.”

Two Boko Haram soldiers began to argue about what they should do. One soldier want to put a bullet into her heart while the other soldier wanted to spare her life.  One of the soldiers finally told Saruta, “Run, but don’t look back or I’ll shoot you!”

Saruta ran.  She called her parents. She was brought to safety. Following her ordeal, Saratu said, “I will never forget the goodness of God. Because of the miraculous way I have been delivered, there is joy in my heart. I am always praying for the others [kidnapped girls].” (Source of story: The Voice of the Martyrs: Canada, May 2016, p. 2-3)

Saruta escaped but many followers of Jesus remain imprisoned. Some are beaten, sentenced to hard labour, murdered, or used as sex slaves by their captors. Some are shunned by their families and communities.  Please pray for your persecuted Christian brothers and sisters.  Appeal to your governments to put political pressure on governments that allow Christians to be persecuted or who actively persecute Christians themselves. Support the work of The Voice of the Martyrs.  If you live in Canada, you can register for a free monthly publication.

Posted in Christian persecution, Christian-Muslim Relations, Persecution, Voice of the Martyrs | Comments Off on A Story of Unwavering Faith

Pastors: Are You Interested in Joining a Group to Do Some Collaborative Thinking, Learning and Coaching?

collaborativeA Leadership Mastermind Group is being formed and is scheduled to begin in the fall 2016. It will be held online and will be an opportunity for collaborative thinking and learning and coaching with Scott. Keep an eye out for a short video with further information. If you would like to be considered for this group or would like to find out more contact Scott @ 561-542-4472, scottgress@me.com

Posted in Church revitalization, Leadership, Missional Leadership, Pastors | Comments Off on Pastors: Are You Interested in Joining a Group to Do Some Collaborative Thinking, Learning and Coaching?

The Haiti Lutheran Mission Society Brings God’s Love to the People of Haiti

HaitiThe Haiti Lutheran Mission Society (Canada) continues to participate in God’s work of mercy in Haiti. According to the HLMS Newsletter (April 2016), the society did the following:

  • 250 Creole New Testaments with Psalms and 150 Creole catechisms were sent.
  • Two 40 foot containers of goods were shipped.
  • Paid travel expense for 3 pastors to teach at the Haitian seminary
  • $15,000.00 (US) funds were sent for school roof repairs damaged by tropical storms
  • $10,000.00 (US) funds for Lutheran Church — Haiti pastoral support
  • $30,090.00 (CD) funds for school feeding programs
  • 55 serviced sewing machines along with large quantity of fabric

These are just some examples of the wonderful work, the Haiti Lutheran Mission Society is supporting.  To learn more about the work of the Haiti Lutheran Mission Society and to sign up for their newsletter, visit: HLMS.

Posted in Haiti Lutheran Church, Haiti Lutheran Mission Society, Lutheran Church -- Canada, World Missions | Comments Off on The Haiti Lutheran Mission Society Brings God’s Love to the People of Haiti

Outreach in Rural and Small Towns — A Free Webinar on Saturday, June 4

Mission ULutheran Hour Ministries invites you to join them on Saturday, June 4th at 10 AM CST for a one-hour, interactive, live webinar: Outreach in Rural Areas and Small Towns.  Effectively meeting the needs and speaking to the culture of American rural areas and small towns requires a unique set of methods. Our guest speaker Pastor Todd Kollbaum, Director of LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission, will share his experience providing training and resources aimed at helping congregations assess community needs and reach out with the love of Christ in this specific context.

To participate, just follow the link, click ‘enter as guest’, and create a user name.

Posted in Church revitalization, Discipleship, Evangelism, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Lutheran Church -- Canada, Lutheran Hour Ministries, Lutheran Laymen's League, Mission U, Missional, Missional Leadership, Missionary, Priesthood of all Believers, Revitalization, Rural evangelism, Small Town Evangelism, Spiritual Renewal | Comments Off on Outreach in Rural and Small Towns — A Free Webinar on Saturday, June 4

Lutherans for Life National Conference Set for October 21-22, 2016

Lutherans for LifeThe 2016 Lutherans For Life National Conference is set for October 21-22, 2016, at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Minnesota. Scheduled speakers include: Dr. Jean Garton, Frank Runyeon, Jānis Diekonts, Pastor Don Richman, Deaconess Kimberly Trombley, Barbara Lyons, Allen Quist, Stephenie Hovland, Rev. Doug Merkey, Laura Davis, Col. John Eidsmoe, Rev. Fredric Hinz, Dr. Sheila Page, John Hawkins, Rev. Michael W. Salemink, Heather Salemink, Betty McGuire.

Make Your Own Hotel Reservations – Where: La Quinta Inn – Minneapolis Bloomington W, 5151 American Blvd West, Bloomington, MN 55437. How: Call 952.830.1300 or 800.SLEEPLQ by September 28, 2016, to reserve and guarantee your guest room. You will need to guarantee your room with a credit card. Be sure to ask for the Lutherans For Life National Conference discount. The room rate is $79 per night plus taxes.

For more information, visit: National Conference.

Posted in Abortion, Abortion Recovery, Abstinence, Assisted suicide, Contraceptives, Discipleship, End of Life Issues, Euthanasia, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Lutherans for Life, Lutherans for Life -- Canada, Personhood, Physician Assisted Suicide, Pro-Life, Prolife | Comments Off on Lutherans for Life National Conference Set for October 21-22, 2016

Shaping Culture: Assimilation?? by Rev. Scott Gress

assimilationAssimilation?

Assimilation to what?

Assimilation by whom? New members to the church or the other way around?

At a time when many churches get very few visitors and even fewer new members it is a wonderful thing to celebrate if you should be so blessed by God to be given precious souls to shepherd.

Yet what now? Assimilation used to be a pretty common word with churches who were trying to get new members to make friends and get involved in their ministries. It made sense. New people came and if you wanted them to stick around then you might assign an existing member to them or help them to find something that they were interested in. Sure there was also some kind of doctrine class and welcome ceremony. You gave them a packet of information and it was official. Hopefully as they attended worship and came to some of the events on the calendar they’d get to know people and feel at home. They were “assimilated” into the congregation.

But if we are talking about culture then the question is, “do you really want them to be assimilated into the current church culture?”

To read more, click: Assimilation??

Scott Gress is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church as an independent contractor. He specializes in Leadership Training, Consulting, Coaching and Coach Training. Contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. 561-542-4472561-542-4472, scottgress@me.com or scottgress.com

Posted in Church revitalization, Discipleship | Comments Off on Shaping Culture: Assimilation?? by Rev. Scott Gress

Canadian Lutheran World Relief Continues to Receive Donations to Assist the People of Fort McMurray

Lutherans from all over Canada have acted with urgency and compassion in supporting the Canadian Lutheran World Relief Fort McMurray Wildfire Appeal.CLWR
 
“We are pleased with the spontaneous outpouring of concern for the citizens of Ft. McMurray who have experienced such personal and community tragedy,” said Robert Granke, CLWR Executive Director. “Working closely with the Alberta and Territories Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Alberta-British Columbia District of the Lutheran Church-Canada and their leaders, we will find the best way to serve the long term needs for Ft. McMurray.”
 
Additional gifts
 
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) will give $5,000 from their Disaster Fund and CLWR will give $10,000 from its Emergency Fund Reserves. FaithLife Financial will donate $10,000 above the matching grants they will provide to FaithLife financial chapters in forty congregations. Another US$10,000 has been pledged by Region One of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. These special donations are in addition to the thousands received from individuals already.
CLWR’s response to the wildfires
 
Church groups and congregations in Alberta are invited to apply for funds for programs they feel will benefit the congregations and people of Ft. McMurray. Grant application forms and further details are available from the ELCIC Synod of Alberta and the Territories and the Lutheran Church-Canada Alberta British Columbia District.
 
We are hopeful that Canadian Lutherans will continue their generous support while long and short-term needs are being carefully assessed.
 
Both churches have congregations in Fort McMurray – Christ the King Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran Church, respectively.
 
Congregation members have reported that they are safe although some have lost their homes, and the church facilities seem to be intact although possible water damage has yet to be determined. (Trinity Lutheran has a church and manse; Christ the King Lutheran met in a school).
If you have not given, please consider a donation to the Lutheran response to this disaster. The people of Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas will be recovering for years to come, and they need your support. Please click here to donate.

Donations may also be made by:

1. Making a designated offering donation through any ELCIC or LCC congregation.

2. Calling CLWR at 1.800.661.25971.800.661.2597 FREE (locally at 204.694.5602204.694.5602) to donate by credit card.

3. Sending a cheque made payable to CLWR and mailed to CLWR, 600-177 Lombard Avenue, Winnipeg, MB R3B 0W5. Please indicate that you wish to contribute to “Fort McMurray Wildfire Relief”.
NOTE: The administrator of “Go!” is a member of the Board of Directors of CLWR.
Posted in Canadian Lutheran World Relief, CLWR, Lutheran Church -- Canada | Comments Off on Canadian Lutheran World Relief Continues to Receive Donations to Assist the People of Fort McMurray

Lutherans for Life Provides a New Bulletin Insert for Father’s Day

A new bulletin insert, produced by Lutherans for Life, for Father’s Day is now available for shipping from Concordia Publishing House. Check out: God Smiles on Fathers.

Fathers

 

Posted in Family, Fathers, God, Lutheran, Lutherans for Life, Lutherans for Life -- Canada, Marriage, Martin Luther, Pro-Life, Prolife | Comments Off on Lutherans for Life Provides a New Bulletin Insert for Father’s Day

Shaping Culture — Unintended Consequences by Rev. Scott Gress

VolunteerShaping culture can be undermined by the unintended consequences of our behavior.

Think about the aspiration to make disciples. Sometimes we hear ourselves express it this way: “We need more leaders.” Or in frustration we say, “no one wants to step up and take charge of VBS this year.” Who is to blame? Is it merely laziness and sin? In frustration it would be easy to say that people are caught in their own lives and selfish desires and no one wants to take on responsibilities at the church. So we are left with Jane and Joe, long time volunteers, trying once again to keep the machinery of (blank) ministry going and frankly, not wanting any help either. “Other volunteers are more trouble than they are a help” they were overheard to say. But closer to the truth is that we have created or allowed this situation to develop and exist.

What are we missing?

Continue reading here.

Posted in Church revitalization, Discipleship | Comments Off on Shaping Culture — Unintended Consequences by Rev. Scott Gress

It’s time to Register for the FiveTwo National Conference!

wikiThe FiveTwo National Conference    (formerly known as the Wiki FiveTwo Conference) an annual gathering of leaders that provides camaraderie, inspiration, and know-how to those who want to advance God’s kingdom on earth by starting something new.

You’ll make powerful connections that will spark new ideas and generate new momentum. The conference will stoke the fire that God has sparked inside of you, pouring fuel on your vision and propelling you forward. You’ll access the explosive combination of high-level strategy and rubber-meets-the-road tools—so you can apply it tomorrow.

The FiveTwo National Conference is scheduled for September 27-29, 2016.  The conference is moving to a new location this year. It will be held in Austin, Texas at Bethany Lutheran Church (3701 Slaughter Ln. Austin, TX 78749 bethanyaustin.com)

A discounted registration fee is being offered until Wednesday, May 11th.  To register and to learn about the conference speakers, agenda, accommodations, etc., visit: FiveTwoNationalConference.

Posted in Church Planting, Church revitalization, Discipleship, Evangelism, FiveTwo Network, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Missional, Missional Communities, Missional Leadership, Missionary, Rural evangelism, Small Town Evangelism, Urban Outreach, Wiki Five Two, Wikiconference | Comments Off on It’s time to Register for the FiveTwo National Conference!