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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Are You Willing to Change “That?”

By Bill Hall, National Director, Canada I have been blessed to meet many people who have been an inspiration to me. One person I met on several occasions was a well-known Canadian actor who, unbeknown to many of his fans, once lived on the streets of Winnipeg, Canada. Because he is no stranger to poverty and the lifestyle that ferments a spirit of hopelessness, he and his wife put comfort behind them in November and December, and tour Canada and the Northern United States to raise money for local food banks. They put up with lost luggage, strange beds, and long days on the road in order that others may be fed. I was reflecting on his example when thinking about church, and I had to ask how much effort we put into reaching the... Read the article

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Local Congregation Branding

Part of being a healthy church is consistent communication. To support our local congregations, we have developed a local congregational branding kit. These resources are a starting point that can be edited and developed to reflect the unique context of each of our congregations. We pray that these resources will support you in joining with Jesus to share his love with your community! Read the article

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Sermon for July 28, 2019

Readings: Genesis 18:20-21 • Psalm 138:1-8 • Colossians 2:6-10 • Luke 11:1-13 This week’s theme is God knows what he is doing. When Abraham barters with God over Sodom and Gomorrah, God already knows the number of righteous in the city. The Psalmist reminds us that God knows all the troubles we face and already has a plan; for this we can praise him. Paul tells the believers in Colossae to continue to walk (trust) in Christ—he is the head over every power and authority. Luke reminds us that God knows the good gifts to give and we can trust him. This week’s sermon weaves a theme through these passages. God Knows What He Is Doing Have you ever wondered why God is delaying taking control? Why Jesus hasn’t returned yet? Do... Read the article

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Sermon for July 21, 2019

Readings: Genesis 18:1-10a • Psalm 15:1-5 • Colossians 1:15-28 • Luke 10:38-42 This week’s theme is The righteous (those who believe) will not be shaken. The Lord appears to Abraham, who asks if he has found favor. God replies and promises Abraham a son within a year. The Psalmist describes the behavior of the righteous who “will never be shaken.” In Luke, we read the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus says Mary “has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42). This week’s sermon focuses on Colossians 1, reminding us that we live in righteousness because of our reconciliation with God, through Jesus. Incomparable Colossians 1:15-28 Introduction: Who is Jesus? Who do others say he is? Who do... Read the article

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Sermon for July 14, 2019

Readings: Deuteronomy 30:9-14 • Psalm 25:1-10 • Colossians 1:1-14 • Luke 10:25-37 This week’s theme is God’s goodness leads to praise. In Deuteronomy, the Israelites are told they can obey, and when they do, they will see God’s goodness. In his letter to believers in Colossae, Paul tells them he is continually praising God for them—for their faith and love. He reminds them that God’s goodness brings redemption and forgiveness. In Luke, we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, where Jesus tells us to extend mercy, just as he does. The sermon focuses on Psalm 25 and David’s response to God’s goodness. Salvation from A to Z Psalm 25:1-10 (ESV)  Introduction: You may want to ask the following question and let the... Read the article

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