Canvas: A Conference on Theology and Creativity — August 12-13 in Portland

The organizers of the Canvas Conference explain the vision of the conference organizers:painting

The Canvas Conference humbly exists to inform all acts of human creativity and beauty with biblical, gospel-centered theology for the worship of the triune God.

They further explain the reason for the conference:

By design, the Canvas Conference stands at the intersection of theology and creativity. Our hope and heart in this venture is gospel-oriented and gospel-driven. We want to help build strong theological foundations for the artist and, likewise, to push Christians to pursue creative orthodoxy in their theological craft. We have found that without theology, creativity wanders from its original significance and purpose; while without creativity, theology often becomes cold, distant, and futile.

In response, The Canvas Conference seeks to build bridges between the artist and the theologian by inviting God to take center stage in every human endeavor. We want to watch the Lord as he put theology and creativity in their proper place. We want to show that creativity begins and ends with the God of Christian Scripture. It is our Creator who created us in his image to create. Thus, we should do so for his glory, for our good, and for the benefit of all. To do this rightly, we need to hear God speak. So we gather together at Canvas to listen to the Lord and be changed by his thoughts on art, the creative act, what he thinks about us, what he has made us to be, and how he can transform our broken attempts at beauty into means of divine grace.

The Purpose of the Canvas Conference?

We want those attending the Canvas Conference to walk away better artist-theologians and better theologian-artists. Through our time together, we want to grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord and to understand our place in his kingdom with greater clarity. We want to show how each of us can reveal God’s image and how he transforms us into the perfect image of his Son, Jesus Christ. We want every act of our creativity—from writing to painting, from music to parenting—to be enhanced by the reality of the gospel, the hope it affords, and the future it offers. In short, we want to be worship. We want to worship with you. And we want to worship God in a way that changes everything about us and everything we create.

Click on the following links for information about speakers/performers and to register for the Canvas Conference.

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Five Steps to Firing Volunteers — Rev. Scott Gress

firedWhat? Do you really want to fire a volunteer? There are times when someone is so troubling in their role that you
wish they weren’t in that position of responsibility. It may be just an annoyance or it may be toxic. Volunteers are especially difficult because unlike paid workers they are there out of the goodness of their heart and the last thing you want to do is discourage volunteerism. Yet if you are at a troublesome spot, chances are that either you skipped some steps or you are putting off the inevitable. So what are those steps? In order of priority:

1. Paint the big picture first and often.

To continue reading, click on: You’re Fired!

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. 561-542-4472, scottgress@me.com or scottgress.com.

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Six Practices of Multiplying Churches by Rev. Dr. Peter Meier

Go signDr. Peter Meier discusses the Six Practices of Multiplying Churches in the following essay:

In a previous post, I focused on Cultivating a Culture of Multiplication where church leaders help their churches to be intentional about starting churches that start new churches in order to reach new people. These multiplying churches (“Level 5” churches) are highly intentional in their efforts to multiply. You can read the entire post here.

Why wouldn’t a church be intentional about reproducing disciples and new churches? If an apple tree doesn’t produce any apples, you know that something’s wrong with that tree. In the same way, if a disciple doesn’t produce any new disciples, or a church doesn’t produce any new churches, wouldn’t you say that something isn’t right? Discipleship is always about reproduction or multiplication, rather than just becoming a better person or accumulating more Bible knowledge for oneself. New church reproduction and multiplication is always about reaching new people by starting new churches.

What are some of the intentional practices or characteristics of “Level 5” multiplying churches, and how might your church work toward becoming a multiplying church?

Six characteristics of a multiplying church have been verified in the recent State of Church Planting in the US 2015 Report, done by LifeWay Research, sponsored in part, by the Center for U.S. Missions. These multiplying churches are ones which started at least one daughter church within five years of existence. Ed Stetzer and Daniel Im identify these characteristics in their recent book, Multiplication Today, Movements Tomorrow (see Resources, below). Take a look and consider the attitudes and action of your church.

1. Kingdom Vision.
Pastors, staff and members have a larger vision than just what’s going on inside their own walls or on their campus. It’s not about the local church growing bigger and attracting more members. Its about God’s kingdom coming to more people, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer. It’s about establishing vision, setting strategy, and aligning resources beyond “here” and toward the larger regional and global context. It’s about seeing God’s kingdom expand through the planting of new churches, near and far.

2. Planter Preparation.
This should go without saying. Intentional preparation of the church planter is absolutely necessary. Assessment, training, coaching and mentoring are vital. Planters must be intentional about forming prayer teams, personal spiritual growth and professional growth. District and/orNetwork support and a healthy mother church are factors in likelihood for multiplication.

3. Intentional Evangelism.
This is the secret sauce for church planting. It begins with a love for the lost, a love which reflects God’s own heart. The strategies and methods themselves are not the main thing; the main thing is intentional love and action to reach the lost. LifeWay’s research shows that mail invitations, door to door evangelism, sports leagues, door hangers, children’s ministries and more are all effective – the main thing is to do something, to be intentional. And a key component of being intentional is to verbally proclaim the Gospel!

4. Discipleship Commitment.
Multiplication begins with making disciples, one at a time. This needs to be the normal and expected activity of the congregation. That’s what Jesus expects His church to be about, Matthew 28:18-20. The goal is not to gather more people in the pews; the goal is to make disciples who make more disciples. Churches who intentionally welcome newcomers and have new member classes are more likely to start a daughter church. In addition, one on one discipleship or mentoring is highly effective and easily reproducible. Also those who are intentional about stewardship development have a higher likelihood of multiplying themselves and starting new churches. Again, the key word is intentionality.

5. Leadership Development.
Churches that multiply take Ephesians 4:11-13 seriously. They receive and make use of the gifts which the ascended Lord Jesus gives to His church. They see every baptized person as one called by God to be engaged in His mission. Multiplying churches are intentional about helping members discover their God-given calling and gifts. They help their members grow in using their skills so that overall, they will grow in Kingdom impact. Spiritual maturity leads to multiplication. But maturity doesn’t happen without a plan. Intentional development and action are key, and will make the difference between addition and multiplication.

6. Clear Strategy to Multiply.
The previous practices are all part of the likelihood of a church being able to multiply within their first five years. All churches may aspire to these, and practice them to some extent. But churches that multiply within their first five years do a few more things at a far higher percentage than those who do not. They are consistently ruthless about communicating their vision to multiply. This is done on a regular, monthly basis. It is done in their preaching, teaching, meetings, and more. They also partner with others to plant churches. Partnering with other churches is part of the kingdom vision, and is more effective than going it alone. Partnering includes investing time, energy, resources and finances into other church plants. Being part of a network, or a consortium of churches offers more churches the opportunity to engage in intentional multiplication strategies.

If you notice one thing about each of these six statistically verifiable characteristics of multiplying churches, notice this word: intentional. Intentional is more than a word, it’s an attitude that finds its way into every action and event planned by a church and its leaders.

Intentionality matters! Intentionality is the key to becoming a multiplying church!

NOTE: Rev. Dr. Peter Meier is the Executive Director of the Center for U.S. Missions. You may contact him at peter.meier@cui.edu

Posted in Center for US Missions, Church Planting, Church revitalization, Discipleship, Evangelism, Missional, Missional Leadership, Missionary | Comments Off on Six Practices of Multiplying Churches by Rev. Dr. Peter Meier

Looking for Some Brief Videos of Missionaries Talking about their Work in North America?

Mission Nation Publishing … has posted some brief videos of missionaries talking about their work in North America. These videos are ideal for showing before worship services or at Bible studies.

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Shaping Culture: What Rocks Go in Next? — Rev. Scott Gress

rocksRev. Scott Gress writes,

What Rocks Come Next (After getting the Gospel right)?

After getting the “Big Rocks” of the gospel into the jar (in the illustration of trying to get rocks, stones, pebbles, sand and water into the jar) then you go for the next largest sized rocks. It’s a priority thing. So what comes next?

Another way to put it is this: In our lives, if by God’s grace you are a believer that Jesus did this for you, then you will join Him in heaven one day. What then should we do between Jesus first coming and His second, and between our being saved by grace and our entering heaven? Should we kill time? If God so loved the world that He would send His only Son Jesus, then that mission to save the world through Jesus is God’s BIG ROCK.

To continue reading, click on: Rocks.

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We the Church: The Priesthood of All Believers — A Video Study Resource for Congregational Study

The formation and growth of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in the United States is examined in this video resource. It features expert commentary, instructive graphics, and details the Christ-centered mission-and potential-of the LCMS.

From immigrant communities of German Christians to a mainline denomination of more than 6,000 congregations, We the Church: The Priesthood of All Believers focuses on the origin and development of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and how the early LCMS met the outreach challenges of its new “American” setting. Beyond the historical context, this video resource examines how early church leaders viewed the role of laity inside and outside of the church. It also challenges today’s church members to embrace their rich heritage as disciples by sharing the message of hope we have in Christ Jesus.

Posted in Alberta -- British Columbia DIstrict (LCC), Church revitalization, Discipleship, Evangelism, Lutheran Church - Canada Central District, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Lutheran Church -- Canada, Lutheran Church -- Canada East District, Lutheran Hour Ministries, Lutheran Laymen's League, Missional, Missional Leadership, Missionary, Priesthood of all Believers, Revitalization, Rural evangelism, Small Town Evangelism, Urban Outreach | Comments Off on We the Church: The Priesthood of All Believers — A Video Study Resource for Congregational Study

Engaging Latinos Among Us — A Free Lutheran Hour Ministries Webinar — July 23, 2016

Mission ULutheran Hour Ministries will host a free one hour interactive webinar on Saturday, July 23rd at 10am (Central Time): Engaging Latinos Among Us. Latinos are the largest ethnic minority in the United States. From Wisconsin to California they are at the virtual doorsteps of our congregations. Rev. Dr. Carlos Hernandez (Director of Church and Community Engagement for the LCMS Office of National Mission) will equip us to meet and engage our Latino neighbors with Christian care and the opportunity to share the love of Christ.

To participate follow the link, click “enter as guest” and create a user name. http://connectpro31217790.adobeconnect.com/engaginglatinosamongus/

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod, Lutheran Church -- Canada, Lutheran Hour Ministries, Lutheran Laymen's League, Men's Network, Mission U, Missional, Missional Communities, Missional Leadership, Priesthood of all Believers, Revitalization, Small Town Evangelism, Urban Outreach | Comments Off on Engaging Latinos Among Us — A Free Lutheran Hour Ministries Webinar — July 23, 2016

World Refugee Day — June 20, 2016

refugees2Canadian Lutheran World Relief reminds us that World Refugee Day is June 20th:

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to meet hundreds of refugees in camps and settlements in places like Jordan, Ethiopia and Uganda. What strikes me as we talk, usually through a translator, is how similar these men, women and children are to Canadians. Their lives were routine, often they are educated with a steady income, children in school, with bright plans for the future. Then all of a sudden life changes. Conflict, danger and even persecution disrupt their lives and they have to flee to safety, many times encountering on their journey the very danger from which they are escaping! And then they have to begin again in a strange land and difficult environment.

As I watched the recent evacuation of Ft. McMurray I couldn’t help but think of the parallels between the refugees assisted by CLWR and those who were escaping the dangerous forest fires. They fled danger leaving everything behind but, unlike so many of the world’s 60 million refugees, they could return home.

On Monday, June 20 CLWR along with relief agencies around the world will observe World Refugee Day – one day in the year when we invite people to try to understand what it’s like to leave a familiar home and have to exist day-to-day not knowing what is coming next and often trying to forget a dangerous journey to safety.

We’ve gathered some resources, activity ideas, and stories at www.clwr.org/WRD to help you observe this special day with us. Under the three-word theme PRAY. LEARN. GIVE we invite you to participate, learn about what it means to be a refugee and how you can help with your prayers and gifts.

Donate to CLWR’s refugee worldwide efforts.

Note: the administrator for “Go!” is a member of the CLWR Board of Directors.

Posted in Canadian Lutheran World Relief, CLWR, Discipleship, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Lutheran Church -- Canada, Lutheran World Federation, Refugee | Comments Off on World Refugee Day — June 20, 2016

Crossing the Line: When the Church Becomes a Non-Prophet Organization — Rev. Mike Ruhl

church planting 2Rev. Mike Ruhl, the Director of Training for the Center for U.S. Missions, writes in Mission Moments (June 1, 2016):

But some churches can easily’ cross a line’ by degenerating into a non-prophet organization. This happens when the role and message of prophetic ministry is marginalized, ignored or denied altogether.

In both the Old and New Testament eras, the role and message of the prophet was / is central to the multiplication and health of the church. In the Old Testament, the prophets – Godly servants like Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah – focused their ministry by calling the People of God to (1) Repent of drifting away from the covenant stipulations of grace which the Lord had made with them and (2) Encouraging the People of God to remain faithful to the Word of God and (3) Value and mobilize their calling to a light to enlighten the nations with delivery of the Messianic Faith. While it is true that some of the prophets were perceived by the churched culture as ‘rogues’, ‘political outsiders’, and ‘counter corruption critics of the established religious organization’, their message was pivotal to the fulfillment of their God-given destiny.

In the New Testament age, we see people like John the Baptizer, preaching to Church People (members of the religious establishment) and urging them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ – even to the point of calling these a brood of vipers because of their addiction to tradition and mindless ritual and blindness to God’s covenant of grace in Jesus Christ.

Peter’s famous Pentecost Sermon cut people to the heart and called them to repentance, faith in Jesus Christ and water baptism – resulting in the planting of the great Jerusalem Church.

It is significant that the Apostle Paul lists prophetic ministry as one of the five ‘function-gifts’ that would define and drive the New Testament Church: It was he (Jesus Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up … (Ephesians 4:11-12a). Even our own Lutheran confessional writings describe the Lord Jesus as PROPHET, Priest and King.

In a recent blog post, Missiologist Stephen Gray wrote a prophetic message, firmly but
lovingly calling Christian congregations and denominations to repent (get a new mind – metanoia) of not heeding God’s call to the priority of new church reproduction (church planting). If we Christians and congregations are to heed Jesus’ gospel-imperative of Acts 1:8 to be witnesses in Jerusalem (locally), Judea (regionally), Samaria (cross-culturally) and to the Ends of the Earth (globally), how can that ever happen without the planting of new and culture-contextualized Christian churches?

What we all need to realize is that church planting is a call from God to all churches, everywhere, even new congregations.

Gray lists five common reasons why so few Christians and congregations become engaged in new church reproduction (church planting):

To read the rest of the article, visit: Mission Moments.

Rev. Mike Ruhl is the Director of Training for the Center for U.S. Missions. You may contact him at mike.ruhl@cui.edu.

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Shaping Culture: Put in the Big Rocks — Rev. Scott Gress

rocksShaping the culture means putting in the big rocks first.

Big rocks? Yeah, you remember the illustration. How do you get all these rocks and pebbles and sand and water in the jar at one time? You put in the big rocks first. If you start with the pebbles or sand you won’t have the room for the big rocks. Put in the big rocks first! Or in other words, priorities, first things first, keep the main thing the main thing!

And the biggest rock is getting the gospel right.

To continue reading Rev. Gress’ article, click on: Culture.

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. 561-542-4472, scottgress@me.com or scottgress.com.

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