With a Little Help from Our Friends

By Randy Bloom, US Regional Director Years ago, faced with the challenge of leading major change in the congregations I pastored, I took the opportunity to visit some non-GCI churches. Initially, I was simply accepting invitations from pastor friends I made in a local ministerial association. Right away it occurred to me that accepting their invitations was more than responding to their warm gestures of Christian fellowship, but I had opportunity to learn a great deal. It was easier back then as my congregations were still meeting on Saturday. My new friends pastored churches of a wide range of worship styles, all within the circle of orthodox Christianity. It is a major understatement to say the experiences I had were eye-opening. I... Read the article

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Is There a Best Version of the Bible?

  Dr. Gary Deddo, Grace Communion Seminary President, addresses the topic: What is the best version of the Bible to use? That question is asked often, and it is a good one. First, we have available in English an astonishing range of options to choose from—and growing. Second, there are different ways of translating and also specific aims of particular translations. Even if all were equally helpful in some way, no one could consult even most of them. For more on this topic, see Gary's article on the Grace Communion Seminary website. Read the article

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Easter Invite Church Hack

Easter is a joyous celebration of the new life we have in Christ! Easter Sunday is the most attended church service every year. It is also a great opportunity to invite those who don’t normally attend to visit your church. Download and customize this month’s Church Hack, and encourage your members to invite their friends and neighbors to experience Christ’s love for them and for the whole world. #GCIchurchhacksEaster Hack Read the article

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RCL Resource for Children’s Church

By Pam Morgan, GCI Operations Coordinator There are many resources for children's ministry, but few coincide with the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL). I have been using Sermons4kids for our children’s ministry in Grace Communion Hickory. It has a lot of options and does follow the RCL. You can sign up on their website and they will send you the lessons weekly. They also have a children’s bulletin that you can download and print that is great for kids to have and work on before they go to children’s church. I use their free resources and I supplement them with videos that my husband Mat found at Saddleback. Kids love the videos and they are great to reinforce the story with a visual. I put together our children’s... Read the article

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Sermon for April 26, 2020

Acts 2:14a, 36-41 • Psalm 116:1-4, 12-19 • I Peter 1:17-23 • Luke 24:13-35 The theme for this week is abundant life begins with changing the way we think. In Acts 2, Peter encourages everyone to change the way they think, and the psalmist in Psalm 116 shows how being caught in and released from a negative mindset looks. In I Peter 1, we are reminded that Jesus has ransomed us from old, negative ways of thinking. Our sermon outline this week focuses on Luke 24, where we see how the stories we tell ourselves about God can make us blind to who he is. The Stories We Tell Ourselves Luke 24:13-35 Start with an example of a misconception you had about God. Or ask the members to share misconceptions about God—theirs or those they have... Read the article

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Sermon for April 19, 2020

Psalm 16:1-9 • Acts 2:14a, 22-32 • 1 Peter 1:3-9 • John 20:19-31 The theme this week is witnessing resurrection. In Acts 2, Peter witnesses to the resurrection, telling the people that their story has been re-written and the interpretation is here at last. In Psalm 16, the poet speaks about always having hope in God’s vindication (resurrection) before him no matter what’s going on. In 1 Peter 1, the apostle encourages the community that their resurrection reality can’t be touched or tarnished by human hands but is secure in God’s hands. Finally, our sermon, “Blessed Are Those Who Doubt,” is based on John 20. Thomas the great doubter becomes the great witness and theologian as he declares Jesus to be “My Lord and my... Read the article

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Sermon for April 12, 2020 Easter

Acts 10:34-43 • Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24 • Colossians 3:1-4 • John 20:1-18 This week’s theme is Raised to New Life. In Jeremiah we see the everlasting love and faithfulness of God calling Israel to himself to be his people. Psalm 118 is read anew in light of the resurrection, where a new day of rejoicing is made. Peter preaches in Acts the gospel proclamation and Paul writes to the Colossians of their new life hidden in the risen Christ. The sermon from John 20 tells the Easter story by walking with Mary Magdalene along her journey of the resurrection, where Jesus lifts her into new life with the Father. The Journey of Resurrection Have Psalm 118:24 read at the beginning of the worship service, and then have someone read John... Read the article

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Sermon for April 10, 2020 – Good Friday (This can also be used for Maundy Thursday)

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 • Psalm 22:1-21 • Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9 • John 18:1-19:42 This week’s theme is The Passion. One suggestion is simply to read the passages from a modern translation with a bit of discussion and a prayer after each reading. Isaiah shares the prophecies about Jesus’ sacrifice. Psalm 22 is the Psalm Jesus quotes and is about God’s deliverance. Hebrew talks about Jesus being our High Priest, and the two chapters in John share Jesus’ arrest, trial, death and burial. The service below can be done with a meal, with snacks or just on it’s own. It is a candle service. Good Friday Suggestion: This service works best with a 16 people or more. With a smaller group, members may need to read more than one passage.... Read the article

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Sermon for April 5, 2020

Isaiah 50:4-9 • Psalm 31:9-16 • Philippians 2:5-11 • Matthew 26:14-27:66 The theme for this week is emptying ourselves as Jesus did. In Isaiah 50, we hear the song of the suffering servant who trusted in God’s plan even though he was being mistreated by humanity. In Psalm 31, the poet talks about trusting in God even though he appeared to all his neighbors to be losing and defeated. In Philippians 2, Paul tells us to take the same humble mindset of Jesus, who, even though he was God in the flesh, emptied himself of his rights and power. Our sermon, Jesus, Friend of Losers, is based on Matthew 26. These passages tell the story of the King who embraced life by dying and whose crown was made of thorns. Jesus, Friend of Losers For... Read the article

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Easter Preparation Season

The Easter Preparation season is a time of preparing ourselves to receive from God a fresh and joyous grace. By Rick Shallenberger, Equipper Editor and US Regional Director Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before beginning his ministry. Many in the orthodox Christian world keep 40 days of Lent and focus on penance. But was Jesus’ focus on penance, or something else during his time in the wilderness? The text most used for this season is Luke 4. Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2) Following this passage is the story of the three... Read the article

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