A Reason for the Hope You Have

By Rick Shallenberger, Equipper Editor For most of my life I wasn’t sure how to deal with Peter’s admonition, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” The sad reality is no one asked me for the reason of my hope because I never gave them reason to ask. I didn’t talk about my hope, and people didn’t see that hope in me. Part of the reason is because my hope wasn’t on the right thing. Another reason was because I attended a church that believed and taught that sharing the gospel was the responsibility of only a few. As I grew in my faith, I was still not sure how to give a reason of the hope in me. I wasn’t sure how to explain my faith to others; I... Read the article

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What About Evangelism

By Bill Hall, National Director, Canada The seminar on Small Group ministry was nearing a close. The attendees had heard about having an “empty chair” at a small group meeting, creating a safe place for sharing and about the “life cycle” of a group. When I opened the floor for questions and comments, one person put his hand up and asked, “What about evangelism?” His question took me back several years. I was raised in a church that counted on media to bring in new people. My denomination had a television show and several publications that we believed were responsible for bringing most of the members to the various churches. I still recall the meeting with our leading pastors when we were told we would no longer be airing a... Read the article

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Faces of Faith

Do our lives inspire others to say, “I want what you have”? By Tim Sitterley, US Regional Director, West When I was an assistant pastor, one of my responsibilities was coordinating our worship services. This was early in the worship wars, and there was still a great deal of resistance to contemporary choruses and instrumentation other than just a piano. In an effort to establish more credibility to what we were doing each week, I invited the senior pastor to bring his guitar and join us. He argued that he only knew four chords well, but I pointed out that was one chord more than he needed to play most of the contemporary music of the day. I also assured him we probably wouldn’t patch his guitar into the sound system anyway, so he... Read the article

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Calling Up vs Calling Out

In GCI, we pursue Christ-centered relationships and seek to serve each other with high support, high challenge---with grace always. Bringing challenge in a healthy way can be difficult. This month we are focusing on the difference between calling up and calling out, in order to be liberating leaders who empower others. Click the link below to view and download the August Church Hack featuring the “Liberator’s Intent” tool. Read the article

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Using the RCL

Participating in a three-year plan to preach through the Bible By Bill Hall, National Director for Canada I still remember the day 21 years ago when I started in my first pastorate. In my discussions with the outgoing pastor, he mentioned that it would be beneficial to meet with some pastors from other denominations who got together each Wednesday morning at the local coffee shop to discuss the Bible. So, the next Wednesday morning I went to the coffee shop, and gazing around the crowded tables, I saw a group of 5 men and women sitting at a table near the back of the restaurant. I walked up to them, introduced myself as the new pastor in our town, and was welcomed into the group. I quickly found out the group wasn’t just... Read the article

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Preaching With Passion

Grabbing people’s attention with stories and passion By Randy Bloom, US East Regional Director Jesus used storytelling in powerful ways. We call many of these stories parables. He illustrated that one of the most effective ways to prepare inspirational sermons is to include stories in them. Jesus’ stories challenged people. At one level, many of his stories are entertaining. Entertaining for the purpose of getting attention, making a point and leading to action—action that was indicative of transformation. The Age of Reason I referred to in “Foundation of Inspiring Sermons” is over. We are now in what people refer to as the Age of Relationship, and as Paul Williams says (in Church Planting from the Ground Up), people are... Read the article

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Foundation of Inspirational Sermons

The difference between teaching and preaching By Randy Bloom, US East Regional Director When was the last time you heard an inspirational sermon? When was the last time you preached one? (I used the word, “preach.” You’ll see why later.) These may be difficult questions to ask and answer. I’ve heard some inspirational sermons. I hope I’ve given a few. Knowing if a sermon is inspirational is often a subjective matter. It depends on a number of factors. But when we’ve heard an inspirational sermon, we know it. We all want to give sermons that are inspirational, but how can we? The source of inspiration is the Holy Spirit. We know this. How can we do our part in participating in the Holy Spirit’s work of inspiring people... Read the article

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Love Venue: Volunteer Appreciation

Affirmation and appreciation go a long way in deepening relationships and making sure another person knows that you value them. A Healthy Church takes the time to acknowledge and say thank you to volunteers and leaders. One way pastors can affirm their team is through a personalized note. Check out the GCI branded pastoral letterhead and other resources for team affirmation, here: Read the article

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Don’t Mess Up My Church

A tongue-in-cheek idea to keep church the way we like it. Because we like things the way they are and don’t want new guests to return, let’s make sure we incorporate at least a few of the following behaviors – things that seem normal to us, but might seem odd or overly strange to guests and new believers. Offertory: Be sure to focus on the need to cover the pastor’s salary or to maintain the building. Guests are far more concerned with the welfare of the church and pastor than they are about mission and ministry. Make sure guests know they should not give an offering. After all, we don’t want them to follow the lead of the Spirit. Communion: Focus on the bread literally being the body of Jesus and the juice... Read the article

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Worship Service Prep

Here are a few nuts and bolts. By Randy Bloom, US East Regional Director I think all of us would agree that God is worthy of the best we can do – and this includes preparing for a Sunday worship service. Worship is participating with Jesus’ worship of the Father. It’s important that we make appropriate preparations that help people encounter Jesus and grow as his disciples. Develop a theme We recommend that GCI pastors follow the Revised Common Lectionary. Equipper provides a theme and scriptures for each week, giving worship leaders a jump-start in preparation. Worship leaders can read the four RCL scriptures and pray over them. See each week’s theme and scriptures in Equipper. Special Days. Because we are a... Read the article

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