Ten Biblical Principles for Healthy Relating

Overview

Our mission is a relational mission.  Doing mission with others involves trust.  Building and maintain relational trust is critical for any church to succeed.  Gary Rohrmayer walks us through ten of the 'one another' scriptures to lay a biblical foundation for healthy relation in the local church.  Extras include how to do a solemn assembly.

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God at Work in our Churches in the midst of COVID-19

Let’s celebrate together the ways that God is at work in our churches! Check out these awesome stories from Converge MidAmerica churches.

Chicago Delivers

Chicago Delivers is a partnership of local churches (including our very own Compassion Baptist Church) working together to provide food delivery and encourage vital social distancing in lower-income, at-risk neighborhoods of Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Community Church, Dolton, Illinois

At New Community Church the vision is to have a passion connection with God, one another, and the community. Currently the church has a partnership with several community organizations, and because of our work in the community we received a call that a local business would like to donate $25,000 in order to assist with healthy Meals and Mask.

Redemption Bible Church, Mount Prospect, Illinois

Pastor Ashley Herr said his team knew they weren’t emotionally prepared to lead an exciting, energy-filled worship service like a normal year. Instead, the church focused on The Hope of Holy Week, starting with peace as The Hope of Palm Sunday.

Then each afternoon, the church hosted an interactive service of shared reading and prayer over Zoom, concluding with its Good Friday service. Sunday’s theme was the hope of life and freedom we find at the empty tomb in The Hope of Easter.

Herr said the church spent much of the week talking about how we are all grieving the loss of various things and stressing how we should acknowledge and talk about those emotions rather than hide them.

Grace River Church, St. Peters, Missouri       

Six people texted that they said yes to Jesus during Grace River’s online Easter services, and the church had its highest online attendance ever.

“We are connecting with an atheist, a universalist, former Jehovah’s Witnesses and so many more people than ever before,” lead pastor Chris Highfill said. “We feel that the COVID-19 crisis has given our church for more influence in our community than ever.”

Grace River is also meeting needs in its community. So far, the church has helped 30 people with food and other items.

Heartland Church,  Indianapolis, Indiana

Heartland Church and 16 other Indiana churches have partnered to purchase 200,000 N95 masks for hospitals, first responders and long-term care facilities in Indianapolis.

“We love our medical community and thank them for their tireless service in this crisis,” Heartland pastor Darryn Scheske said. “Because of the giving of people at Heartland Church, we were able to step up immediately and provide $50,000 to fund these needed masks.

“I think that now is the greatest opportunity for us to be the ‘big C’ church. We all sit in different buildings, but now we’re all at home. There’s a chance for us all to come together and do something compassionate.”

We want to hear from you!

Have a story to share? Let us know!

Hacks for Improving your Online Services

Maybe you’ve been hosting online services for ages now, or maybe (like many others) you’ve been forced into online church by COVID-19 restrictions. Either way, we want to help you create the best online church services you can. That’s why we put together this list of hacks for improving your online services. 

Keep to a routine.

Continuity communicates stability. Find elements that can stay the same every week, and make those elements the best they can be. In this time of uncertainty, people are craving consistency. If your in-person services included the Lord’s Prayer every week, keep including the Lord’s Prayer! Help give your congregation the stability they’re craving.

Aim for simple excellence.

Keep things as simple as possible so that the end product is excellent. Here are a few ideas to bring simple excellence to your services:

  • Create a graphic that appears before and after every service. This could be your church’s logo, a welcome slide, or a short countdown. Keeping this element the same every week adds a level of professionalism, and it’s easy for your staff to incorporate.
  • There are two options for online services: live and prerecorded. Both are great! Choose the option your team can accomplish best.
  • Don’t break the bank on new equipment. Your personal iPhone is simple and can record excellent footage.
  • Film in a place with great natural lighting, like near a window. Natural lighting always looks better on camera.

Post to multiple platforms.

You’ve done the hard work to create an excellent service; post it Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, and anywhere else that will reach your congregation. If you’re posting a premier or livesteam, be sure to have pastors and/or volunteers manage the chats live so that you can welcome new people and create community.

Make it shorter.

Attention spans for online services are much shorter, so your service elements should be shorter too. A 5-minute pre-service countdown might make sense in person, but 5 minutes watching from home is more than enough time for people to get distracted and navigate away from your page. Your congregation may love 45 minutes of worship music at the beginning of service in person, but they likely won’t have the attention span for it at home.

Ask for help.

Reach out to other churches for help! Even if you think you don’t need help, you never know what ideas other churches have that would be great for your congregation. If there’s a church whose online services inspire you, reach out to them and ask for advice. We are better together!

Be you.

Most importantly, don’t try to be something you are not. Create online services that are true to the culture of your church. Do what you can, not what everyone else is doing.

Churches, we’re praying for you, and we’re here to help in any way we can.

Steps to Licensing Guide

Overview

Prior to granting a license, a church should establish policies regarding the licensing procedure.

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Steps to Ordination Guide

Overview

Because of the growing number of Converge MidAmerica churches, there is a need for a guide that will assist churches in evaluating potential candidates for ordination and a suggested procedure for the ordination process. While the following recommendations are not binding, they will be conducive to good order and effective service. 

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Spiritual Warfare

Overview

Argentinean leader Ed Silvoso said, ‘The Church in the West today presents too easy a target for Satan. We do not believe we are at war. We do not know where the battleground is located., and, in spite of our weapons, they are neither loaded nor aimed at the right target. We are unaware of how vulnerable we are. We are better fitted for a parade than for an amphibious landing.’

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth,’…in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes’ (II Corinthians 2:11).

This ebook provides fourteen devotionals built around the tactics the enemy uses to attack the church and provides the scriptural antidote to overcome them. Could your leadership team identify how the enemy is seeking to attack the church?

How to use this ebook

This ebook is designed to be used in a leadership setting with your church board, church staff, ministry team or even in a small group setting. Our prayer is that God will build up the church to stand strong together in the Lord.

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Ten Marks of a Coachable Leader

Overview

This ebook is designed to be used in a leadership setting with your church board, church staff, ministry team or even in a small group setting.  Our prayer is that God will strengthen your relationships throughout your ministry.

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Nine Prayers for Missional Leaders

Overview

Prayer is more about bringing our desires, passions, needs, concerns and circumstances into missional alignment, rather than for our own personal fulfillment. In this short book on prayer our desire is to help you as leaders to pray more missionally. The more we fall in love with Jesus, the more we will be moved to align our hearts with his mission. As Henry Martyn wrote, ‘The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.’

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Lessons We’re Learning During the Coronavirus Quarantine

It is surreal to think that we are approaching the end of the fifth week of the Covid-19 quarantine. In fact, some of us have been in this longer than that, and some a bit shorter. I think we can all agree that we want this to be over! I’ve heard this many times, “I just want to get back to normal!” I have certainly found myself resonating with that thought. However, what if God is challenging us to NOT get back to normal? What if He’s calling us to a “new normal?”

I am firmly convinced that God wants to use the Covid-19 pandemic to wake up His church to be His bride in ways we have not been as the church in America. Might this even be part of His answer to our prayers for revival and spiritual awakening that we have so longed for? I remember Pastor John Piper writing during his bout with cancer several years ago, telling us that he didn’t want to “waste his cancer.” He saw his cancer as a “gift” that God was giving him to reach new levels of devotion and commitment to Christ and the gospel message. Brothers and sisters, what if we each committed to saying, “I don’t want to waste the Covid-19 pandemic.” What lessons does God want to teach us as leaders and churches, so that we too will reach new levels of devotion and commitment to Christ and the gospel message? I for one, don’t want to ever go back to normal again! This week, I have attended several of the breakout calls, and I am hearing this same desire shared by so many of you. It has been such a blessing to hear your hearts, and to begin the process with you of discerning what God is saying.

Zoom Schedule

In light of that, we are shaking our Zoom schedule up again. I want to keep you on your toes! We will be returning to our full group Zoom meeting on Tuesday, April 21 at 2pm CST. Here is the link: https://zoom.us/j/613566293. We are also going to provide breakout rooms during that call as we did a few weeks ago. This will allow us to gather initially for some encouragement, and then break out to share together in smaller groups our responses to the following questions:

As a church:

• What were you doing before this all started that you can’t wait to get back to when this is all over?
• What were you doing before this all started that you can’t wait to NEVER get back to when this is all over?
• What are you doing currently that you want to make sure to continue doing when this is all over?
• What are you doing right now out of necessity, that you can’t wait to NEVER do again?

As a leader:

• What has God been teaching you during the Covid-19 quarantine that will forever change the way you lead?

 

I am trusting that God will use this time of sharing together in smaller groups to speak to us His answers to these questions. I also pray that we will find affirmation, confidence, and even be challenged by each other. In light of this format, we will NOT be offering the small group breakouts during the week as we have done up to this point. So please don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to share together. As has been our pattern, we will keep the call to one hour in length.

“Dear Lord, we continue to pray that you would heal, restore and protect your people and your church during this pandemic. We also pray that you would speak to our hearts through your Holy Spirit, that You will encourage us to follow you with more passion and obedience. We ask that you would use us to lead your church more effectively for the sake of the name of Jesus. We pray this in His matchless name, Amen.”

As always, we love you, and stand ready to serve you in any way we can.

This Week’s Zoom Links

We are offering 7 different breakout opportunities throughout the week. You can jump in on any of these Zoom calls for an opportunity to encourage each other, share ideas and pray together. All times are central time zone.

Please be encouraged to join any call. You might even choose to join more than one during the week to glean from others. 

Top Ideas from Week Four of Coronavirus Quarantine

In just a few days, we will be celebrating our first “virtual” Easter Sunday in our churches. I’m pretty sure it is accurate to say that none of us have ever done this before.  It will no doubt be a day filled with mixed emotions. I like the quote my boss shared, “This is The Superbowl of Christianity”. It is the day we all come together to worship and celebrate the risen Savior! It is the Sunday that reminds us in an amazing way what our faith in Christ is all about. So, it will for sure be weird to not be together to shout in unison “He is Risen! He is risen indeed!”

I know you know this, but please don’t forget to remind yourself over and over that the tomb is still empty, and Christ’s church is still full, just in a scattered sort of way. Please know that you are being prayed for as you embark on Easter. We pray that through your message of the Resurrection, that many will not only tune in, but will accept the Gospel for the first time. Wouldn’t it all be worth it to see hundreds come to Christ because of your faithfulness to the Gospel message this Sunday? May it be so Lord!

Webinars and Zoom Calls

On Tuesday, we had another wonderful Zoom call with a presentation by Pastor Nate Wagner on the “Psychology of Crisis”. For many of us, it was like drinking out of a firehose of amazing information. My “ideas” for this week will be resources that came out of that talk, including a recording of the call and Nate’s slides.     

This next Tuesday, we will NOT be having our full group Zoom call. Instead, we are focusing heavily on the breakout calls throughout the week so that you might have an opportunity to debrief with one other about how your Easter Sunday went and help each other answer the question “Now what?”

I know that one of the breakout Zoom codes has not been working and I apologize for that. I trust that this week, they will all work as advertised. Please be encouraged to join any call. You might even choose to join more than one during the week to glean from others. 

                                                                  _______________________________________________                           

 

Resources from Tuesday’s Webinar

CMA Webinar “Psychology of Crisis” Zoom Call Recording

CMA Webinar Psychology of Crisis Webinar Slides by Nate Wagner 

Henry Cloud’s Webinar “The Psychology of Crisis”

Tim Keller’s Zoom Webinar

“Congregational Leadership In Anxious Times – Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What ” by Peter Steinke – This is a book I have recommended for quite a while. The principles in this book are very helpful, not only through this particular crisis, but during any difficult season in a church.

 

We love you all and stand ready to serve you during this time! 

Pastoral Leadership in the Midst of a Crisis

Ed Stetzer recently made a passionate appeal to church leaders saying, “This is not the crisis, we are weeks away from the real crisis.” The crisis is not that we cannot meet for worship or small groups—the crisis is not that our churches are losing revenue or our church mortgages cannot be paid. The crisis is quickly becoming a life and death situation that must be taken with the utmost seriousness, courage and faith that is fused with undeniable hope in the love of God.

So how should we respond as Christian leaders?  

I think we need to address the why’s before we figure out the how’s in order to have a clear biblical framework to guide us through this unprecedented season. Once we understand the nature of our calling as followers of Jesus and our duties as leaders, then we will be better able to perform the responsibilities God has set out for us.

Paul speaking to Titus, a regional leader whose task was to strengthen this growing yet fledgling movement of churches on the Island of Crete, writes, “The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished” (Titus 1:5). The term “put in order” or “straighten out” comes from the same word that we get the words orthodontics and orthopedics. The orthodontist puts braces on your teeth to straighten them out. The orthopedist puts on a cast or a brace so that your bones will heal, mend, and be strengthened.  

Titus was to provide braces that would strengthen this immature movement of churches, which could, at that time, be up to one hundred churches on this island.  

Paul gives Titus three braces that he was to provide to strengthen the churches in this movement: 

  1. Appoint qualified leaders in every town (Titus 1:5-15). 
  2. Promote sound doctrine (Titus 2:1-10) and gospel-centered living (Titus 2:11-14).  
  3. Remind people how to live missionally in this world (Titus 3:1-15).

Titus’ commission involved re-establishing the basic foundations of the church to gospel-centered churches that saturate the Island of Crete and beyond. Grasping this context helps us as leaders in this pandemic crisis wrestle with ways to promote responsible citizenship through our churches. 

Seven Qualities of a Remarkable, Gospel-Centered Citizen.

Paul writes, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone” (Titus 3:1-2).

First, Paul addresses the importance of this subject by using words of urgency. He writes, “Remind the people…” (vs 1). To paraphrase Paul, he is saying, “Pastor, this means you must keep on continually reminding your people of the principles and qualities of what it means to be a remarkable, gospel-centered citizen in a pagan culture.”

Let consider Paul’s seven virtues of a remarkable, gospel-centered citizen: 

  1. Submissive in attitude. He writes, “to be subject to rulers and authorities.” We voluntarily subject ourselves to government authorities because we believe that they are put in place sovereignly by God (Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:11-17). Understanding that the Island of Crete was under the ruthless rule of the Roman Empire, they were to submit to the reasonable and responsible rule of the government as long as it did not cause them to violate the laws of God. Peter and John refused the order of the Jewish officials to stop teaching in the name of Jesus by stating: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 5:29). Here is where ‘the great commandment and great commission rule,’ helps discern when civil disobedience is necessary. You may ask yourself: Is my government asking me to reduce my love for God and my love for my neighbor? Or is my government asking me to stop proclaiming the good news of Jesus? In this pandemic crisis, I see neither. So, I would encourage us to do all we can to submit to the guidelines of social distancing while looking for more ways to connect with neighbors to share the hope of Jesus in this challenging season.

Question: Are your church members fighting or submitting to the guidelines proposed by the federal, state and local authorities?

  1. Obedient in behavior. Paul writes, “to be obedient.” We are not only to be submissive in attitude, but we are to be obedient in our actions. Paul writes, “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” (Romans 13:6-7). The Apostle Peter offers these same thoughts, “Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves.Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor” (I Peter 2:16-17). We, as Christian citizens, should be the highest examples of responsible citizenship because we want to point people to the true King, Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord, and Only Savior.

Question: Do you agree with the statement that Christians should be the highest examples of responsible citizenship?

  1. Benevolent in spirit.  He continues, “…to be ready to do whatever is good.” It is interesting that three times he repeats this charge (vs 1, 8, 14). Paul moves our responsibilities from a passive posture (submission and obedience) to a proactive position of blessing the world around us. Peter, in the context of believers submitting to authorities, writes, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us…For it is God’s will that by doing good, you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people” (I Peter 2:12,15). Being right in line with the teachings of Jesus: That we are to be salt and light in this world, “…that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-15). May the world see the beauty of Jesus through the scattered church, and may their heart be captured by the goodness and greatness of our God.

Question: How are you as the pastor promoting responsible benevolence to the needy in your community?

  1. Speaks well of everyone. Paul continues, “to slander no one…” (vs. 2). Paul expands his instructions beyond our relationship with the rulers or authorities to be all-inclusive by using the terms “no one” and “everyone.” The word slander here is the same word for blasphemy. The Bible is very serious when it comes to speaking evil of or maligning God (Leviticus 24:16; Numbers 15:30; Mark 3:29). It is just as serious about speaking evil or contemptuously of people created in the image of God. Jesus said, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:22). The terms’ Raca’ and ‘you fool’ were slanderous and contemptuous words against another human being that bring with them the judgment of God. It is interesting that the scriptures teach us to remove all evil slander from our vocabulary (Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8) and to replace them with holy and godly prayers for all people. Paul writes, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:1-4).

Question:  How are you encouraging responsible rhetoric and focused prayers for leaders, authorities and all people?

  1. Is peaceable.  Paul writes, “…to be peaceable” (vs. 2). Interestingly, the actual translation is negative, ‘don’t be a brawler’ or ‘cease fighting.’ I am sure just as in Paul’s day as well as our own; there was a lot of anger stirred up while living in an unjust pagan culture. The human cruelty and blatant disregard for justice is so unnerving. The lack of common sense and the neglect of true wisdom can drive followers of Jesus mad at times. Yet the Bible instructs us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). To live at peace means to be at peace. Peace is a settled confidence that comes from being right with God (Romans 5:1), which leads one to experience inner tranquility, relational poise, and a profound sense of being protected (Philippians 4:8). As followers of Jesus, we must refrain from adopting “the arts of the agitator.” [1] Yet from a position of inner peacefulness, we should bring words of peace into our conversations that deescalate the situation while seeking ways to present the gospel of peace to an unsettled world. In a day when conflict and controversy are leveraged to sell anything, we as followers of Jesus should rise above the fray and be reasonable and peaceable people.

Question:  What are you as a pastor doing to promote peace in the midst of all this crisis?

  1. Practice consideration for others.  Paul uses the word “considerate” (vs. 2). This word is the outward expression of gentleness. When we put the concerns for others above our own rights we are being reasonably forbearing, patiently kind and sweetly considerate. This is very personal to the Cretans, who were described earlier as “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). They were known as being uncivilized barbarians, who exhibited the unrestrained indulgence of wild and ferocious beasts. Yet as new followers of Jesus they were to take on the gentle character of their Savior (Matthew 11:29) and follow his example of relinquishing their personal rights for the betterment of others (Philippians 2:5-12). The Bible appeals to us, “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). We are not to respond as evil brutes always fighting for our rights but as respectful, considerate, and gentle people. The Apostle Peter says this demeanor is what makes our testimonies attractive. He writes, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15). The message of the gospel becomes more apparent when the power of the gospel comes alive through our firm convictions and sweet consideration of others.

Question: How are you as a pastor encouraging considerate behavior for the purpose of making the gospel attractive to your community?

  1. Humble in attitude.  Paul finishes this list, “and always to be gentle toward everyone.” Whereas consideration is the outward expression of gentleness, here it speaks of the inward attitude of humility, which is the foundation of all our behaviors. Andrew Murray wrote, “The root of all virtue and grace, of all faith and acceptable worship, is that we know that we have nothing but what we receive, and bow in deepest humility to wait upon God for it.” [2]  To reinforce this posture of humility, Paul reminds them of where they came from and how God’s mercy alone saved them. He writes, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another” (Titus 3:3-4). One historian used the following words to describe the Cretans, ‘a turbulent race,’ ‘fighting amongst themselves for generations,’ ‘whose rebellious propensities seemed to be unquenchable,’ ‘always producing disorder’ and possessing a ‘factious and seditious spirit.’ Yet this is where the gospel met them. Paul continues, “But when the kindness and love of God, our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7). In Paul’s mind, there is no room for pride in our lives, only room for humble gratitude.

Question: How are you as a pastor modeling and promoting a spirit of humble dependence on the Lord during this crisis?

Why are we called to be remarkable, gospel-centered citizens?

Paul answers that question, “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone” (Titus 3:8).

Our beliefs should always impact our behavior. As recipients of God’s mercy, we are called to be merciful to others. As followers of Jesus, we should be taking the lead in doing good to others and not dragging our heals while others take the lead.

Paul wants Titus “to stress these things.” There is a heightened level of urgency in Paul’s words that we read earlier. He wants him to courageously and confidently teach this immature movement of churches not only to proclaim the gospel but to live out the gospel for the benefit of every person on the Island of Crete.

Pastors, church leaders and every follower of Jesus, this is our time to shine, this is our time to stand out, this is our time to be kind, merciful and fearless all in the name of Jesus the Risen Lord and only Savior.

So, let us all be remarkable citizens!  Let us be humble, considerate and peaceable! Let us be live, breathe and speak the gospel! Let us lead the way by being eager to do good!

[1] Hiebert, D. E. (1981). Titus. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 443). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

[2] Murray, Andrew. (1997). Humility: The Beauty of Holiness (pg. 29). Fort Washington, PA: CLC Publication.

Never Preach to an Empty Room

I never thought the day would come, that due to COVID-19 every pastor in America would be forced to do what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. You see, early on when Grace Church decided to go multi-site, we also decided to take an unconventional approach to video preaching. We chose not to record the sermon at a Saturday night service in front of an audience, instead, I would preach on Wednesday mornings. And yes, aside from a small crew of one or two people, the room would be completely empty.  But, I learned an important lesson early on in this process. NEVER preach to an empty room. Instead, I always preach to the REAL PEOPLE on the other side of the camera.  I found it too frustrating and too fake to try to hold the illusion that I was preaching to imaginary people in a cavernous room.  Instead, week after week, I stare down the lens, looking into the camera and into the faces and souls of my congregation.  I also understand that each week there is an internet audience and individuals who will watch the archive version of the message months and maybe years after I deliver it.  Since we have a preaching team, I have developed a list over the years of 10 tips and tricks for preaching through the camera that serves as a resource for everyone who preaches at Grace.  Since all pastors across the country are now in the same boat, I thought I’d share it with you!

10 Tips for Preaching THROUGH the Camera:

  1. Talk faster than you think you should. A quicker delivery helps to hold people’s attention. 
  2. Voice inflection is particularly important. You can be more passionate and animated than feels natural. 
  3. Keep your eyes on the lens as much as possible – don’t look around at the imaginary crowd. 
  4. Utilize visual aids whenever possible. Pictures, video clips, full screen quotes all help break it up and keep it interesting. 
  5. Explain all personal/geographical references: ie. Instead of “Kim and Caleb,” say “my wife Kim and my son Caleb…” instead of “We went to 1201” say “we went to a local restaurant called 1201.” 
  6. Briefer is better.  There is a limit to how much preaching people will endure on screen.  The standard at Grace is a 30-minute video sermon. 
  7. If you are using notes on a podium or an iPad – the camera shot should be wide enough to include those things so that people can see what you’re looking down at.  The use of a teleprompter is preferred so that eye contact can be maintained with the camera. 
  8. Nervous gestures and body language are amplified on the screen. 
  9. Pause for expected laughter. It’s a little risky (especially if you aren’t as funny as you thought you were going to be), but when you keep chugging along with your next point while people are still laughing at your last one – it is a stark reminder that you’re on a screen. 
  10. Imagine specific people.  Both as you are preparing and as you are delivering your sermon to the camera it’s helpful to remember specific people and their anticipated reactions and questions to what you are saying. 

I’m praying that the word of God goes forward in unprecedented ways during these unprecedented times!

Fasting Resources

Fasting Definition

Fasting is deliberately abstaining from the normal routines of life for the purposes of spending focus time in prayer and the study of God’s word as we seek to align ourselves with God’s purposes.

Articles

Prayer and Fasting in the Pastors Life – Ronnie Floyd

Revival & Fasting – John Piper

Why should I Consider a Social Media Fast? – Kevin DeYoung

Quick Study on Fasting – Gary Rohrmayer

Eight Basic Guidelines for Fasting  – Gary Rohrmayer

Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer – CRU

Being in Tune with the Supernatural though Fasting – Ronnie Floyd

Strengthening our Prayers through Fasting  – Gary Rohrmayer

Bill Bright’s Fasting Testimony

David Brainerd’s Fasting Testimony

21 Classic Fasting Quotes

Sermons

John Pipers Sermons on Fasting

Tony Evans Sermons on Fasting

  1. The Importance of Fasting
  2. Fasting For Deliveranc
  3. Fasting For Burden
  4. Fasting For Protection
  5. Fasting For Needs
  6. Fasting For Mates
  7. Fasting For Marriage
  1. Fasting For Healing
  2. Fasting For Guidance
  3. Fasting For Revival
  4. Fasting For Ministry
  5. Fasting For Intimacy
  6. Fasting For Justice
  7. Fasting For Power

James McDonald – Video

Fasting For a Spiritual Breakthrough – Elmer Towns 

Breakthrough – NorthBridge Church

Fasting for a Spiritual Breakthrough – Gary Rohrmayer

Power of Fasting Together – Mark Albrecht

Readying Ourselves for a Breakthrough – Mark Albrecht

First: Priority Determines Capacity – Heartland Church

Start Now! – Darryn Scheske

21 Days Of Prayer & Fasting – Darryn Scheske

The Power Of Priority – Darryn Scheske

What Really Matters? – Darryn Scheske

Nothing To Lose – Jeffrey A. Johnson, Sr.

Seminars/Campaigns

Hunger for God Seminar – John Piper

The Daniel Plan – Rick Warren

Interviews

What is the Purpose of Fasting? – John Piper

How Can I Conquer Gluttony? – John Piper

Celibacy and Sexual Fasting – Tim Keller

Reading Plans/Devotional Guides

7 Basic Steps to Fasting and Prayer  – Bill Bright

Fasting: A 30 Day Guide – Gary Rohrmayer

21 Days in the Gospel of John

21 Day Fast

21 Day Challenge: Made to Crave

Books

Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough – Elmer Towns

Fasting for a Financial Breakthrough – Elmer Towns

Hunger for God – John Piper

Hunger for God – John Piper (Free pdf)

God’s Chosen Fast – Arthur Wallis

The Power of Prayer and Fasting – Ronnie Floyd

The Daniel Plan – Rick Warren

Top Ideas from Week Three of Coronavirus Quarantine

It is surreal to think that we are finishing up week three of the Covid-19 quarantine. Nothing is normal for any of us. To be honest, I’m starting to forget what “normal” even looked like. Our work week has changed, our sleep patterns have changed. I even had someone share the loss of a commute to and from work each day. Here’s what I know hasn’t changed. We still serve the same God today as we did yesterday. We still have the greatest message to share that has ever existed on our planet. And we still know the end of the story! Please know that you are loved by the team at Converge MidAmerica and we are praying for you.

Weekly Webinar

On March 31, we had another wonderful Zoom call with 44 people who got some clarity around our online streaming presence. This week, our topic is “The Psychology of Crisis.” It has been eye opening to learn the real psychological effects this season is having not only on our church members, but on us as pastors as well. Pastor Nate Wagner, pastor of Sparta Baptist Church in Sparta, Michigan is our presenter. Not only is Nate a fabulous pastor, he is a licensed counselor, and I know you will be blessed by what he brings to us.

Click here to watch a recording of the “Psychology of Crisis” webinar.

Psychology of Crisis Webinar Presentation Slides by Nate Wagner

 

Once again, we are offering 6 different breakout opportunities throughout the week.

You can jump in on any of these Zoom calls for an opportunity to encourage each other, share ideas and most importantly, pray together. All times are central time zone. I know last week a couple of the numbers weren’t correct. I trust that this week we have resolved that issue. Sorry about that.

                                                                      ___________________________________

This week, I thought we’d change it up a bit.

I have been hearing amazing ideas coming out of our office staff in relation to how churches can minister to and help families enjoy their kids during these days. Following is a “best of” list of those ideas. I trust you will be able to use them personally and share them with those in your circle. Special thanks to Kirsten Andreson, Eileen Herrera and Yahaira Landaverry for the ideas.

If your church has a RightNow Media account, share the login with your congregants

Encourage Christ-centered cartoons for downtime.  Encourage family devotional and worship time using included resources such as Theo and Seeds Worship (for elementary-aged kids). If your church does not have a RightNow Media account, the church can enroll in a free trial that is shareable with your congregants. 

Host a weekly storytime over Zoom.

You can very easily read a book that you have a copy of while sharing the digital download onscreen, providing a good quality story experience.  Check out The Good Book Company, as they have some Gospel-focused storybooks and are currently offering free digital downloads of the illustrations.  Also include a music video for worship (look up Yancy, she’s great for young kids!) and ask the kids for their prayer requests.

Host a watch party of the new Pilgrim’s Progress. 

This new animated version of the movie is free to watch online, just sign-in here to watch.  Take it a step further and challenge your youth to read through the book with you over the course of the next three weeks, hosting a weekly mid-day gathering to discuss, share what you are learning and pray.  There are a number of free modern-English Kindle versions of the classic by Paul Bunyan or you can recommend your students listen on Audible using their free 30-day trial.

Encourage the entire family to “attend service” by providing ways to engage the kids that may be accustomed to attending children’s church instead of the main service.

Parents may all too easily allow their kids to disengage and go play during service time.  Send out an email with a simple Bible-themed craft or activity for younger children to work on while their parents participate in your streamed Sunday service.  It need only be a simple attachment that parents can either print off or create on their own with supplies that many have on hand at home.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Plan unified Easter lessons for all age groups utilizing The Gospel Project curriculum.

It’s currently free when you start a free Ministry Grid account. There is age-specific content so the entire family can learn at their age/reading level.  They provide two weeks of Easter lessons, so it is perfect for use this weekend (Palm Sunday) and next (Easter)! Click here to sign-up.

There’s another really dynamic youth Easter curriculum available for free download from The Action Bible (just scroll to the very bottom of the page to download a Zip file). 

Create an online art gallery on your church Facebook page where families can share photos of their kids’ artwork created during this time at home.

Each week, you can post a “schedule of art themes” for them to follow along with. This will encourage a sense of community and allow kids to see photos of their friends that they are likely missing.

Utilizing their preferred social media platform, provide your youth with a challenge or talking point each day to keep them engaged and in fellowship.

Give them a question to ask of a specific person, to keep them engaged with their family and to ensure they have to come back to post their answer.  Maybe you can all start memorizing a passage of scripture together, each student assigned a verse to creatively record and post on their assigned day. Check out a posting site like FlipGrid which is great for elementary-age students. 

Host an online game night for your students.

It could be a virtual nerf gun fight, online games (ask them, they know which platforms to utilize), or turn them onto the simple joys of charades or Pictionary over Zoom!

Host or encourage a family worship night, a hymn-sing or a family dance party.

Provide the playlists by recommending music such as this kid’s playlist put together by The Gospel Coalition, available on Spotify. 

Start introducing a new online-based curriculum package.

Free trials are available for all age groups at Think Orange

Commence an evangelism and missions focus, instilling an understanding of the global Church and the reality that this pandemic is affecting each corner of the globe.

Teach your students about different cultures, contexts and ways to share the Gospel.  Create a daily prayer schedule for specific Converge missionaries, highlighting the countries, cultures and church partners they each serve. 

Here are some more great missions and evangelism resources by age group:

  • Elementary Aged KidsCompassion International has a number of online devotionals, lessons and activities to help you learn about “the least of these.”  Maybe come together and sponsor a child during this unprecedented time. 
  • Youth/StudentsDare2Share has free resources for both the youth pastor and the teens, including free apps for both.

 

We love you all and stand ready to serve you during this time!