“We Believe” Workbook

The first half of our We Believe discipleship resource is now available in a workbook format. The workbook is developed to the spark conversation and make these resources more applicable for small groups and discipleship classes. We also made one change to the original document. To better reflect our praxis on infant baptism and for greater clarity, we have adjusted the language of 8.6 in We Believe. The updated downloadable files for We Believe are available on our resources site. The change affects the adult version, the youth We Believe did not include the topic of infant baptism. Read the article

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Sermon for August 25, 2019

Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10 • Psalm 71:1-6 • Hebrews 12:18-29 • Luke 13:10-17 This week’s theme is God our deliverer. God told Jeremiah he had formed him from the womb to be a prophet and there was nothing to fear. God would provide the words he needed. The Psalm reminds us that God is our refuge when we cry out for deliverance; he is our hope and confidence. The author of Hebrews tells us we’ve not come to the burning mountain like the Israelites, but to Mt. Zion—the city of the living God. In Jesus we receive a new kingdom that cannot be shaken. The sermon focuses on the passage in Luke. Here we learn that Jesus frees us from whatever prevents us from standing tall in him. Freedom to Straighten Up Luke 13:10-17 (NRSV) ... Read the article

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Sermon for August 18, 2019

Readings: Isaiah 5:1-7 • Psalm 80:1-2, 8-19 • Hebrews 11:29-12:2 • Luke 12:49-56 This week’s theme is Stay Connected to the Vine. The prophet Isaiah reminds Israel—through the example of a vineyard—how God carefully planted and cared for them. He did everything for them, but they rebelled against him, and he had to clear the vineyard. The Psalmist tells a similar story—using a vine as an example—asking God to restore them. Hebrews 11 shares the stories of many who were faithful—who stayed connected to God. These faithful are our “great cloud of witnesses,” reminding us to run with perseverance and to stay focused on Jesus. Luke shares Jesus’ statement that he didn’t come to bring peace---he came to draw people to... Read the article

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Sermon for August 11, 2019

Readings: Genesis 15:1-6 • Psalm 33:12-22 • Hebrew 11:1-3 • Luke 12:32-40 This week’s theme is Trust in God’s plan, not our own. Abraham tried to fulfill God’s promises his own way—through Ishmael—but God’s plan was different. Abraham came to believe and was counted righteous. The Psalmist reminds us that God sees it all and has a plan—he is the one who works things out. In Hebrews we are reminded that even when we cannot see, our assurance is that God has things under control. The sermon focuses on Jesus telling his disciples to not fear—we don’t need to have all the answers because we know the One who does. Do Not Be Afraid Introduction: Have this passage read just prior to the message. Do not be afraid,... Read the article

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Sermon for August 4, 2019

Readings: Hosea 11:1-11 • Psalm 107:1-9, 43 • Colossians 3:1-11 • Luke 12:13-21 This week’s theme is We belong to God. The prophet Hosea reminds Israel that God was always with them—even when they are in captivity or exile. They are his people and he will return them to their homes. Paul reminds believers in Colossae of their true identity. They are in Christ, therefore live in that life—putting off anything that is not Christlike. This is part of the renewal offered to all, regardless of their background. In Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the rich man who thought his identity was in what he had, rather than in God, who is our real treasure. The sermon focuses on Psalm 107, and reminds us that God hears our cries. We are his... Read the article

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Sunday Celebration First Impressions

First impressions can bridge someone into the life of a faith community; it can also become a stumbling block. By Heber Ticas, pastor and Superintendent of Latin America. Maria had lived in isolation for about 13 years before encountering our spiritual family. She had fallen into a deep depression and a sense of emptiness after her husband died. Previously disillusioned with church, she didn’t know where to go to find support, and did not feel she had a sense of belonging anywhere. Rosa, Maria’s neighbor, had sometimes observed Maria watering her plants and always wondered why she was so secluded. Bolstered with faith and hope, one day Rosa overcame her fear of rejection and knocked on her neighbor Maria’s door and invited her... Read the article

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People Come, People Go; Some Stay

How do we assimilate people into our healthy congregations? By Randy Bloom, US East Regional Director When a renowned church leader taught that pastors need to get used to the idea that more people will come and go from church than come and stay, I felt encouraged and a bit frustrated. I was encouraged because it helped me not feel inferior about myself or the church I was pastoring; I was frustrated because of the reality his statement expressed. He said this trend was true for almost every church. Why? Why don’t more people return to or stay with a church they visit? Over the years I’ve heard countless pastors ask the questions, reflecting in their facial expressions the same frustrations I felt. There are many answers,... Read the article

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Thinking About Skipping Church?

By Randy Bloom. US East Regional Director Have you ever woken up on a Sunday morning and felt like staying home from church? I’m not keen on admitting it, but I have. Sometimes there were legitimate reasons such as illness or extreme exhaustion; but other times I was just being lazy. After getting up and moving around—even when I don’t feel like going—something compels me to head out. Why is this? I credit the Spirit drawing me to rejoin my fellow believers in our weekly sojourn to worship God. I’m also sure there is a human sense of obligation; all my life I’ve been taught—and as a pastor I’ve taught—that we should go to church and I want to “walk my talk.” But more than an obligation, I feel the need to gather... Read the article

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Church = Hope

What is the first word that pops into your mind when you think of church? Fellowship? Potluck? Sermon? Worship? Communion? God? Hope? I’ve been blessed to travel to many countries around the world and meet people from several cultures. I’ve rubbed shoulders with the poorest of the poor in Bangladesh and Nepal, and with people of status and wealth in several countries. Like most of us, I’ve seen people in their highest highs and their lowest lows. I’ve been with several family members and friends as they have faced horrendous trials and losses. One common theme I’ve encountered all over the world is the need for people to have hope. Wherever you go, you see people without hope. The homeless population around the world is... Read the article

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