Sermon for January 6, 2019 (Epiphany)

Note: January 6, the day of Epiphany, begins a season in the Church calendar also called Epiphany (or Epiphany Season). For a Surprising God article explaining its meaning, click here. Scripture Readings Isa. 60:1-6 • Ps. 72:1-7, 10-14 • Eph. 3:1-12 • Matt. 2:1-12 A Light to Follow (Matthew 2:1-12, NRSV) Note to preacher: As an introduction, you might show the Visual Bible video enactment of the Magi's visit as recorded in Matthew's Gospel. To find it online, click here (and continue to 10:05). You've no doubt heard the story of the three wise men, the Magi, come from the East to visit the newborn Jesus. Some of the ways the story is traditionally told are inaccurate. For example, the Bible does not say how many Magi there... Read the article

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Tools for Building Healthy Churches

The links below connect to the Ministry Toolbox on GCI's newly-launched Resources website. The tools found there are designed to assist congregations in pursuing our healthy church vision. Healthy church results from several factors, including the two addressed below: healthy leadership and healthy ministries. Healthy Leadership (REAL Teams) Healthy church leadership is pastor-led and team-based---what GCI refers to as REAL teams. For an infographic explaining what this means, click here. For videos that give additional detail, click on these links: Introduction to REAL teams Relationally connected Enthusiastically engaged Affirming Liberating leaders Healthy Ministries (Faith, Hope & Love Venues) ... Read the article

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GC Hickory Relaunch

The pastoral leaders of GC Hickory (GCI's congregation in Hickory, NC) recently sat down with Joe Brannen of GCI Media to discuss their congregation's relaunch. As you will learn in the recording linked below, though GC Hickory has just begun the relaunch process, they already have experienced both success and challenge in following the Spirit on the road to becoming a healthy expression of church in their target community. [caption id="attachment_11496" align="aligncenter" width="487"] GC Hickory pastoral leaders (L to R): Anthony and Elizabeth Mullins, Emma Lee and Paul David Kurts[/caption] Part 1: [audio mp3="https://equipper.gci.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Hickory-Phase2-Part1.mp3"][/audio] Part 2: [audio... Read the article

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Reflections on Stewardship

This article is from Santiago Lange, GCI elder in Germany. When the word stewardship is mentioned, we likely think of our monetary donations to the church, including giving offerings in worship services. This form of stewardship is both valuable and necessary for the church to fulfill its calling. However, biblical stewardship entails much more than our regular donations to the church. As the old saying goes, "money isn't everything." [caption id="attachment_10690" align="aligncenter" width="348"] (source)[/caption] The basis of stewardship in the Bible is the understanding that God owns all the resources in the universe. In his grace, he allows us to manage some of these resources. We usually think of ourselves as the owners of our... Read the article

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Sermon for Dec. 30, 2018

Scripture readings for today: 1 Sam. 2:18-20, 26 • Ps. 148 • Col. 3:12-17 • Luke 2:41-52 The Most Boring Story in the Gospels (Luke 2:41-51) Introduction Note to preacher: You may want to begin this sermon with an anecdote telling about a time you got lost as a child, or a time you thought you lost your child or grandchild. Share your sense of panic and relief. It's part of life---sometimes kids get lost. Seeing something glittery, or hearing a familiar song, they wander off. Maybe you got lost when you were a kid---it's a terrible feeling when you realize you don't know where you are; when surroundings and faces look strange to you. It’s like a scary dream. But when it's one of your kids who is lost, the scary dream... Read the article

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Sermon for Dec. 24/25, 2018 (Christmas)

Note: This sermon is for Christmas Eve or Day, which begins the 12 days of the Christmas season (for a Surprising God post about Christmas, click here). A Speaking of Life video and discussion questions are not provided with this sermon. For a Bible Project video exploring Luke's account of Jesus' birth, click here. Scripture readings for today: Isa. 9:2-7 • Ps. 96 • Titus 2:11-14 • Luke 2:1-20 Jesus Shares Our Humanity (Luke 2:1-20) Introduction Here on Christmas Day [or Christmas Eve] our focus turns to the miracle of the incarnation and birth of Jesus. In chapter 2 of his Gospel, Luke gives us a glimpse of the early life of Jesus as a newborn, infant and adolescent. In doing so he intends to help us understand how Jesus... Read the article

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Sermon for Dec. 23, 2018 (Advent 4)

Note: This sermon is for the last Sunday of the season of Advent, which spans the four Sundays that precede Christmas day. To read a Surprising God post explaining the meaning of Advent click here. For four GCI-produced videos for Advent, click here. Scripture readings for today: Micah 5:2-5 • Ps. 80:1-7 • Heb. 10:5-10 • Luke 1:39-55) Doing God’s Will (Hebrews 10:5-10) Introduction Note to preacher: You may want to share a personal anecdote that answers one of the introductory questions. Have you ever struggled trying to determine God's will for you life? Have you ever feared that your decisions would lead you out of God’s will? Have you ever struggled trying to figure out how to determine God’s will? Have you ever felt... Read the article

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Sermon for Dec. 16, 2018 (Advent 3)

Note: This sermon is for the third Sunday of the season of Advent, which spans the four Sundays that precede Christmas day. To read a Surprising God post explaining the meaning of Advent click here. For four GCI-produced videos for Advent, click here. Scripture readings for today: Zeph. 3:14-20 • Isa. 12:2-6 • Phil. 4:4-7 • Luke 3:7-18 Aggressive Gratitude (Philippians 4:4-9) Several years ago, the book The Count of Monte Cristo was made into a movie that starred Richard Harris and Christian actor Jim Caviezel. The beginning of the film is set in the desolation of a hopeless island prison. Richard Harris plays an older prisoner who has found a way to survive in this dark place. As a spiritual survival technique, each morning... Read the article

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Sermon for Dec. 9, 2018 (Advent 2)

Note: This sermon is for the second Sunday of Advent, the season that spans the four Sundays preceding Christmas day. To read a Surprising God post explaining the meaning of Advent click here. For four GCI-produced videos for Advent, click here. Scripture readings for today: Mal. 3:1-4 • Luke 1:68-79 • Phil. 1:3-11 • Luke 3:1-6 Participants in Christ’s Ministry (Luke 3:1-6; Philippians 1:3-11) Introduction Note to preacher: You might begin with a personal anecdote about anticipation-preparation: expecting the birth of your first child, the wedding of an adult child, the birth of a grandchild. When anticipating something good such as a high school graduation, a wedding, the birth of a child or grandchild, a visit with old... Read the article

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