Equipped for a journey of renewal

The December Equipper (with the five articles linked below) focuses on helping us understand and live into the renewal the Spirit continues to grant our fellowship. [caption id="attachment_2471" align="aligncenter" width="388"] Raising Lazarus (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)[/caption] From Greg: Our renewal continues Greg Williams sets the GCI-USA theme for 2017, anticipating how the Spirit will continue to renew our fellowship in multiple ways. GCI's educational strategy for renewal Greg Williams reviews the work of GCI's Educational Strategy Task Force that has been looking at educational support for GCI's ongoing renewal. A renewed understanding of evangelism GCI associate pastor Josh McDonald writes about how... Read the article

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Kid’s Korner: Renew your ministry to children

[caption id="attachment_340" align="aligncenter" width="201"] Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their lives. (Proverbs 22:6)[/caption] In congregations blessed with children, the transition into the new year is a good time to give careful thought to what might be done to renew their ministries to children. Here are two articles that provide assistance. An Introduction to Children's Ministry. This article from GCI provides a comprehensive plan for organizing a children's ministry. Here is its introductory paragraph: Children are a blessing from the Lord. With these blessings also come responsibilities. As stewards of God’s children, parents are responsible for helping children grow physically,... Read the article

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From Greg: Our renewal continues

Dear minister of Christ, I hope you enjoyed the theme of Renewal at our 2016 US Regional Conferences. We heard inspiring accounts of how the Holy Spirit is renewing us---opening minds and hearts to become more missional in thought and action. It's thrilling to see him transforming us into congregations willing to go "outside the walls" to gather others to the community of the church. [caption id="attachment_21" align="aligncenter" width="202"] Greg and Susan Williams[/caption] In his Theology of Renewal presentation at the conferences, Dr. Gary Deddo reminded us that our Triune God is a God of renewal---he has been from the beginning when, "out of nothing" (ex nihilo), he created all things. His work of renewal, which is "making... Read the article

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Sermon Summary: A renewed understanding of discipleship

One of the areas where the Spirit is renewing GCI's understanding and ministry practice is that of discipleship. We see him leading us to embrace an approach to discipling others (disciple-making) that emphasizes the hope and healing that is ours because of Jesus’ faithfulness, not our own. This approach is helpfully examined by Wesley Hill in a Christianity Today article titled "How I Found Healing for My Spiritual Blindness." Hill describes how his understanding of discipleship was renewed by an in-depth study of the Gospel of Mark. His article would make a good outline for a sermon on this topic. Here are excerpts from the article: I was hungry for instruction—guidance in how to go about deepening and enriching my faith. I... Read the article

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A renewed understanding of evangelism

What difference does GCI's Incarnational, Trinitarian vision make in everyday ministry? Josh McDonald, associate pastor of GCI's congregation in Indianapolis, Indiana, tells how it renewed his understanding of evangelism. [caption id="attachment_2272" align="aligncenter" width="202"] Josh and Heather McDonald[/caption] In the mid '90s, I did two years' time at a fundamentalist Christian college. Among my studies (along with a parade of Christian rock concerts), was a class on evangelism ("witnessing to the lost"). The professor taught us to read the sports page so we could lure people into casual conversations, then pin them with the gospel. One of his favorite refrains was, “If you don't know-that-ya-know-that-ya-know the exact... Read the article

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GCI’s educational strategy for renewal

This article is from Dr. Greg Williams, director of GCI-USA Church Administration and Development and a faculty member at Grace Communion Seminary. For a related article in GCI Weekly Update, click here. [caption id="attachment_2353" align="aligncenter" width="198"] Greg Williams[/caption] When it comes to the church and its ministry, GCI is firmly committed to having strategies, plans and actions that flow within the stream of renewal that the Holy Spirit has generated within our fellowship. We prayerfully desire that all our ministry efforts be authentic, focused participation in the ongoing ministry of Jesus. We know well that Jesus, revealed in the apostolic witness of Scripture, is the head, foundation and cornerstone of his... Read the article

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Use Christmas for outreach

In this article, Heber Ticas, CMM's National Coordinator, discusses how the congregation he pastors uses the Christmas season as a prime opportunity to reach out to unchurched people in the area served by his church. [caption id="attachment_1960" align="alignright" width="150"] Heber and Xochilt Ticas[/caption] The congregation I pastor in Southern California, Comunion De Gracia, is constantly looking for ways to live out a "missional mindset." A primary way we do that is by taking advantage of the annual holiday seasons to create missional environments within our congregation and, most importantly, to be present within the community that surrounds our church building. When it comes to reaching out to the community, one of the most... Read the article

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From Greg: Humanizing humanity

Dear fellow ministers of Christ, [caption id="attachment_21" align="alignright" width="150"] Greg and Susan Williams[/caption] In my many travels with Delta Air Lines I often read Delta's Sky magazine (typically doing the crossword puzzle first in an attempt to exercise my mind!). On a recent flight, a particular article caught my attention. It highlighted the movie Born to Be Blue, in which actor Ethan Hawke portrays fabled blues trumpeter Chet Baker. Hawke is quoted as saying that Baker's biggest struggle after a drug dealer knocked out his teeth was “to play and to play great again.” Noting the movie's primary goal in telling Baker's story, Hawke made this comment (emphasis added): Some biographies paint [Baker] as the... Read the article

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Kid’s Korner: Use Christmas to teach kids about Christ

Childrens mininstries have the responsibility (and wonderful opportunity) to teach children about God and his love. This teaching is offered in many ways and at various times. A significant "teachable moment" arrives each December in the Christmas season. Though we may (understandably) object to the commercialism associated with this season, we can take advantage of this annual opportunity to help children learn about the stunning miracle of Jesus’ birth. [caption id="attachment_340" align="alignright" width="230"] Teach children how they should live, and they will remember it all their lives. (Proverbs 22:6)[/caption] By focusing on Jesus' birth, we are reminded that, through the Incarnation, the eternal Son of God, in the person... Read the article

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Advent-Christmas celebration resources

In the Western-Christian tradition, Advent and Christmas celebrate the coming (advent) of Jesus Christ into the world. Advent-themed worship services are held on the four Sundays leading up to Christmas (in 2017 the first Sunday of Advent is November 27). Advent celebrations often follow the progressive themes of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace (sometimes in a different order). By beginning with Hope, Advent looks forward to Jesus’ “second coming,” which then points back to his Incarnation, followed by the celebration of Jesus' birth on Christmas. [caption id="attachment_2201" align="aligncenter" width="421"] Source[/caption] Below are resources for celebrating Advent and Christmas. Up first are four short Advent-themed videos from... Read the article

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