Archives For Ministry

Did you hear what Open Church is doing in 2015? (infographic)

Kent Shaffer —  December 20, 2014

I am excited to announce that after spending 4 years with Open Church getting the right relationships in place, now is the time to build the infrastructure needed to help Christians globally collaborate, learn from each other, and share resources.

Our goal for 2015 is to develop a database directory, create new resource licenses, and hire 4 team members to lead the initiative and train volunteers.

To learn more, download the 2015 Vision Blueprint (PDF) or visit openchurch.com.

Infographic - What is Open Church?

Open Church is Hiring a Program Director

Kent Shaffer —  November 5, 2014

Open Church helps Christians collaborate, learn from each other, and share resources. We accomplish this in 2 ways:

  1. Manage a database directory of people, resources, & research.
  2. Increase access to the database with standardized approaches to cataloging, licensing, archiving, distributing, & technology.

The Program Director’s Role

Program Director is a full-time, telecommuting position responsible for the early stage implementation of Open Church’s ecosystem. Core responsibilities include:

  • In-depth research of global Christianity.
  • Nurture relationships with strategic partners.
  • Facilitate acquisition of data & resources.
  • Train & manage volunteers and interns.
  • Assist in adding content to the Open Church database.
  • Oversee quality control and project management of all programs.

This is a versatile role that will grow and evolve as Open Church grows. You are a jack of all trades, master of some. You thrive with both people and spreadsheets. And you have a deep love for both culture and God’s Kingdom.

To learn more about Open Church, read our 2014 Vision Blueprint.

To apply, email a resume to apply [AT] openchurch.com

Measuring the Intangible with 6 Symptoms of Discipleship

Ben Savage —  September 16, 2014
Guest Writer: Ben Savage

When you work with church leaders for long enough, you begin to identify common themes and challenges. I have been involved in lay leadership in several churches and have worked with hundreds of pastors over the years, and one thing they all have in common is the desire for people to engage with their church and be transformed by an encounter with Jesus.

Setting the stage for these encounters takes many forms. Each church is unique, but all face a similar challenge:

How do we measure the intangible with the observable?

Spiritual growth and engagement is largely intangible. You can’t measure someone’s growing love for and connection to God using a yardstick. So we look for the outward signs of a disciple. This is not a foolproof plan either; we all know stories of individuals who have outwardly lived “as they should” only to reveal later that there was little to no real connection to the Father.

But one big reason that this approach breaks down is simply that churches don’t have the right tools to get a full picture of someone’s engagement and connection to the church.There are many ways people can live out their faith, but here are six common signs of discipleship:

  • Connection through Prayer
    1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
  • Engagement in Scripture
    Joshua 1:8 – Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
  • Being Present
    Hebrews 10:25 – Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • Acts of Service
    Isaiah 58:6-8 – Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness the LORD will be your rear guard.
  • Investment in Others
    Ephesians 4:11-13 – So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
  • Worship through Generosity
    Deuteronomy 16:17 – Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.

Arundel Christian Church, through the use of effective processes and a unifying church management system, measures people’s engagement and discovers effective ways to deepen their involvement.

Measuring the intangible can be tough — especially without the right tools. If you are using disconnected systems to track giving, attendance, and engagement, you might be making it harder than it needs to be. Eliminating data silos in your church can help you gain a fuller picture of an individual’s personal journey and involvement. How are you measuring individual spiritual growth within your church?

For more on this, read the story of three churches that eliminated data silos and increased their ability to engage people, invest in their spiritual maturity, and empower them to participate in ministry.

Special thanks to Church Community Builder for supporting Church Relevance by sponsoring this post.

The Bible App for Kids

Kent Shaffer —  November 28, 2013

YouVersion has partnered with OneHope to release a free kids Bible app for iOS and Android devices.

The Bible App for Kids

Oven Bits developed the app and has a great behind the scenes look at the creation process.

Download the Bible App for Kids

Act Like Men Conference 2013

Kent Shaffer —  August 12, 2013

Act Like Men Conference

In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul admonishes us to, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” It is a beautiful mixture of tenderness and toughness.

This fall the Act Like Men Conference will visit three cities to encourage men to follow God with obedience, lead others with grace, wage war on their own sin, and eagerly minister to needs around them.

  • Oct 4-5 :: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
  • Oct 18-19 :: Long Beach, California, USA
  • Nov 8-9 :: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA

Speakers include Matt Chandler, Mark Driscoll, Greg Laurie, James MacDonald, and Eric Mason with LeCrae and Vertical Church Band leading worship. Registration is only $69 to $109, but you have to act before August 15th in order to get the early bird discount.

Powerful things can happen when a group of men get away to talk about God. As a child, I watched my own newly-saved father benefit deeply from the Walk to Emmaeus men’s retreat. His excitement for Christ set the tone in our home. And the example of him and his godly friends had a great deal of influence on my impressionable mind.

I pray that the men who are able to attend the Act Like Men Conference will have such a real encounter with God. May their hearts yield to the transformative power of God’s Word. May their hearts be reformed and their minds renewed. May their hunger for God grow insatiable. May they decrease and empty themselves to make room to be filled by more of the Holy Spirit.

If you are going by yourself or with a group of men from your church, remember that events like this are about more than just good speakers and worship music. Make sure you take the time to connect with other men. Talk about God together. Pray for one another.

To learn more about the 2013 Act Like Men Conference, visit www.ActLikeMen.com.

Special thanks to Act Like Men for supporting Church Relevance by sponsoring this post.

Half a Child and the J127 Curriculum

Kent Shaffer —  August 8, 2013

David C Cook publishing is well known for their books and music, but not many people know that they are actually a nonprofit using a considerable amount of their proceeds for global ministry.

Recognizing that orphans and hurting children need more than food, clothing, and shelter, David C Cook created Half a Child to meet children’s spiritual and emotional needs, too. James 1:27 admonishes us to “look after orphans and widows in their distress.” For Half a Child, this means working with children one-on-one and ministering to their unique circumstances.

When people talk about orphans, they talk about adoption, but the sad reality is that most orphans will never be adopted. We must not forget to care for them, particularly those who have been abandoned, abused, or betrayed.

Half a Child J127 Curriculum

J127 Curriculum

After the Haiti earthquake, David C Cook noticed that trauma counselling distinguished the Christians from other humanitarian groups. Through focus groups across India, they also learned that childhood counselling is one of the major missing pieces.

So in response, they created J127, a curriculum for the developing world by the developing world. It is designed for 8 to 11-year-old orphans and features almost 500 sessions (3 times per week for 3 years). It weaves Christian teaching beautifully with collegiate-level counselling approaches but all in a way that is easy for kids to understand.

Currently, it is being extensively tested in India using trained and paid workers.

However, variations of it are also being used by the Church of Uganda (12 million members) and by 17 denominations in Bangladesh, including Presbyterians, Baptists, Pentecostal, Anglicans, The Salvation Army, and Reformed churches. They change the culture but not the theology of the program for each country. In fact, J127 functions well across global denominations and theologies. Rarely, has theology been an issue.

The intellectual property for the J127 curriculum is free of charge. However, those wishing to use it must be willing to be trained in how to use it and willing to share in the cost of printing and distribution. This customized curriculum approach involves teacher training, cultural tweaks, new lessons based on needs (i.e., lessons on child sacrifice in Africa), and rebranding if necessary.

The Story of Jesus in Korea

The Story of Jesus

Half a Child also distributes a simple comic version of The Story of Jesus. In fact, they’ve already distributed over 30 million copies of it through 1-on-1 relationships.

While certainly challenging, it is exciting to see that is possible to raise the bar for 1-on-1 discipleship and still have high numbers.

You can learn more about these initiatives and how to get involved at GlobalChurch.com.

70 Creative Church Set Designs

Craig Van Korlaar —  July 23, 2013

Creative Church Stage Designs List

We’ve updated our list of creative church set designs, which includes:

  • 9 new stages for 2013
  • 10 new stages for 2012
  • 1 new stage for 2011
  • 1 new stage for 2010
  • 1 new stage for 2009

Church set designs are becoming increasingly popular with the rise of creative sermons and multi-sensory worship experiences.

Environment can have a remarkable influence over how people feel, behave, and learn. So while nothing replaces the power of preaching the gospel and God’s Word, a creative church set design can help make a sermon more memorable and create an atmosphere that is more worshipful, reflective, and in awe of God.

View the list of creative church stage designs.

Global Perspectives from Ministry Leaders

Kent Shaffer —  October 15, 2012

At the Global:Church Forum, the pre-conference also hosted a panel discussion with ministry leaders featuring Menchit Wong of Compassion International, Stephan Baumann of World Relief, Sarah Davis of Ravi Zacharias Global Ministries, Jeff Lee of Wycliffe Bible Associates, Ajith Fernando of Youth for Christ, and Oscar Muriu of Nairobi Chapel.

From a ministry leader perspective, what does partnership with donors look like?

Fernando: There are different levels of partnership. Ideally, it is a spiritual fellowship where there is an interplay of each one giving from their riches to another. You may give to the poor, but they may teach you about prayer because they tend to be good at it.

Davis: Alignment is key to good partnership. Ideally a donor gives to something that matches their passions.

Wong: Partnership is a relationship not a transaction. We realized that for it to be genuine, it must be a relationship. If we have a common vision that God has given us, we must stretch ourselves together. A partnership must be mutually respectful.

Baumann: Partnership in its fully iteration is very messy if it is relational. At the same time, some partnerships are meant to be just transactional, and that’s okay. We’ve chosen to get messy with specific donors.

Lee: Transformational partnership is like a marriage. You aren’t always going to like each other. Time equals intimacy. It takes time, builds on core values, educates, and leads to participation. True partnership happens when everyone involved is changed.

Muriu: As a local pastor in the middle of Africa, I would define partnership as against the paradigm of 1 Corinthians 12. (1) Partnership is a relationship where we are one. How do we build trust? Trust becomes the fuel that lets us move forward. (2) Partnership is also an interdependent relationship that brings different types of equity to the table – financial, spiritual, relationally, etc. We must value what each person brings to the table. It will not be healthy if one equity is esteemed higher than another. (3) A partnership must build reciprocity into it. If one partner receives, receives, and receives and never has an opportunity to give, it will lead to co-dependency. It creates entitlement. (4) We must allow the receiver to have some way to give back. A partnership must not be built upon guilt. (5) A partnership must have humility that postures itself to learn before it offers to teach.

What does the West need to learn in building partnership?

Fernando: Funding is easy to find for things that pull at the heart strings, so there is a great fear that what people like to give is what will be given regardless of if it meets the biggest needs. Fighting hunger often trumps spreading the gospel.

Wong: The people in the West have watches, but they don’t have time. People in the West are in a hurry for results, but transformation cannot happen overnight. We destroy the integrity of a person’s life if we demand for change overnight. We would not demand that our own children develop so quickly, but we expect ministries to produce impossible results. Even when the money is gone, the fruits of the work are in the people resources.

Muriu: People in the South want to spend time on relationships and the Northerners want quick results. We need to learn from each other. You don’t do real transformation by tomorrow. Child trafficking is not going to go away overnight. If you want to stop it, it will be a 50 year program. If you want to reach people groups, you are in a 100 year program. So just relax and recognize that it will take time, but also recognize it is about an agenda and not just relationships.

Lee: People from the developing world don’t say, “We don’t have what they have!” They just have fun and make the most of what they have. You have to spend time in culture. In Korea, white American men have the hardest time adapting because they only try to adapt for a short while before going back to their habits. Don’t give up. Keep adapting.

Baumann: When my family learned to create relationships without agenda while living in Africa, I learned to lay down the dominance of my culture (white Westerner) and embrace repentance. I think it is time for the global South to rise to greater heights, but it is not an either/or. It is God’s Kingdom.

What is the one thing you want to tell people who want to work towards better global ministry?

Wong: It is an exciting time for donors to get out of a checkbook mentality and look to get engaged. That’s really where the transformation and epiphany happens. Donors make us more accountable.

Lee: Leave room for the mystery of God to speak to you. Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is attractive. Vulnerability will create grace for our faults.

Fernando: Strategy is a wonderful idea, but define strategy biblically. What is strategy biblically ca seem the opposite to society. Very often when we are thinking of strategic initiatives, it often involves taking people away from their role and placing them in a strategic job. But this doesn’t reflect the Kingdom value of commitment. We need to model commitment.

Muriu: (1) It was hard enough doing mission and partnerships when they were just generous. But now that some want to be strategic, who decides what is strategic? It can lead to power struggles. The one who holds the purse strings decides what is strategic. (2) The most effective transformational movements I know are very small. And one of the dangers of working with Western donors is they want to scale things up. When you scale some ministries up, you destroy them. (3) Fifty years from now what will be left? What will be left standing? I am keen to ask what can we do that will continue to be a blessing to the Kingdom 50 years from today.

Davis: The shift of donors becoming is strategic is exciting as long as it keeps you on track with your vision and your mission.

Baumann: Set the agenda together, but let the local leaders lead that conversation.