Posts belonging to Category Church

New “Praying For” Series

We are doing a new series of messages Sunday mornings on praying for various things. Here are the links to the various messages in the series.

Praying For … Series
(Click here for a PDF of all the sermon outlines for the series.)

Praying For series

Praying for Things – 1 John 5:14-15
Praying for Forgiveness – 1 John 1:5-10
Praying for Healing – James 5:13-16
Praying for Victory over Sin – 2 Peter 1:3-4
Praying for Church and Family – Matthew 6:9-13
Praying for the Lost – Colossians 4:2-6
Praying for Missions – Matthew 9:35-38

Post 2016 Election Comments in Church

This past Sunday at church I shared a few words with the congregation about the election. I thought I would post them here, too, in case any of you might find them helpful.

I just want to share a few words about the election with you this morning. This has been a difficult election season, and even coming out of the election our country remains deeply divided. I want to encourage you if your candidate won not to be overly excited and if your candidate lost not to be overly discouraged. Every president is but a footnote in history. Our hope is not in princes or in presidents but in Jesus Christ who reigns forever. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House, Jesus is still on the throne. And that’s where we need to keep our focus. When we gather to worship, we do not come together as Democrats or Republicans but as believers in Jesus Christ, united in him and seeking his good together for the world. God is in control, so let us continue to focus on Christ and the gospel and sharing God’s love with the world around us.

Sunday Worship at Emanuel AME Church after the Massacre

Kate Shellnutt reports on the first Sunday of worship at Emanuel AME church following the shooting incident earlier this week:

Rev. Gillison welcomed members, guests, and media, saying, “This is the day that the Lord has made, and we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Tucked away in the back row of the balcony, part of me wondered, “Rejoice? Right now? On this day?” I was overruled by the 500-plus crowd below, who shouted along with him.

It kept coming. Prayers thanking God for his blessings. For waking them up this morning. A reading from 1 Thessalonians: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (5:16-18, KJV). They literally sounded the trumpet, making a joyful noise with praise anthems and soloists walking the aisles until the cordless mic started cutting in and out.

“Many hearts are broken and tears are still being shed, but through it all we are reminded we serve a God who still cares,” Gillison told the congregation, the first of several messages coupling the tragedy with a testimony of God’s faithfulness. (Source: CT)

Related post: Relatives of Church Shooting Victims Address Charleston Shooter in Court [Video and Transcript]

Invite Someone to Church for Easter Sunday

Most Americans say they would visit a church if invited by a family member, neighbor or friend. And Easter is a time when people are more open to considering matters of faith. So who will you invite this year?


Live, Love and Give 2012

Live, Love and Give

Our church is sponsoring a great program to help those in need this Thanksgiving season. For just a $20 donation, Live, Love and Give will provide $40 worth of food items (including rice, pasta, canned goods, etc.) to someone in need.

If you would like to participate, click here to visit the website and make an online donation: Live, Love and Give

Live, Love and Give to Feed the Hungry

Live, Love and Give

Our church is sponsoring a great program to help those in need this Thanksgiving season. For just a $20 donation, Live, Love and Give will provide $40 worth of food items (including rice, pasta, canned goods, etc.) to someone in need.

If you would like to participate, click here to visit the website and make an online donation: Live, Love and Give

Texas Megachurch Offers Christmas Services in 3-D

Link: Texas Megachurch Offers Christmas Services in 3-D

We have church services in 3-D every Sunday – and you don’t even have to wear special glasses. Most of my life takes place in three dimensions. How about you?

The Five Worst Places to Sit in Church

Here is another great cartoon from Dave Walker.

Pews (The Five Worst Places to Sit in Church)
This cartoon by Dave Walker originally appeared in the Church Times.

So, where do you sit in church? Do you sit in the same place each week or do you like to move around?

Related posts:
    • The Sermon Cartoon
    • The Pastor’s Dog
    • The Dullest Blog in the World

Click here for more Cartoon related posts.

Coral Ridge Merger 2.0

On Sunday we just happened to be visiting Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale for their first newly combined worship service. Like many churches Coral Ridge has offered two services on Sunday mornings with two different worship styles — one traditional and one contemporary. But starting this past Sunday they have combined the two services into one, a venture that Pastor Tullian Tchividjian jokingly referred to as Coral Ridge Merger 2.0 (with reference to last year’s merger between Coral Ridge Presbyterian and New City Presbyterian churches).

Whereas many churches that offer a blended style of worship offer some hymns with the organ and some praise music with the praise band, Coral Ridge went a different route. As the congregation gathered, the orchestra played a worshipful rendition of the hymn, “This Is My Father’s World.” This was followed by a video presentation of the church’s new vision for worship appropriately titled, “One.” Next the majestic organ swelled as we all stood for the opening hymn. But then, surprise, the organ traded off for the drum kit, the orchestra and praise band joined in, and we sang “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” to a truly blended accompaniment of all the instruments together.

The service continued with traditional and contemporary elements blended together. We sang hymns and praise choruses with various instrumentation. During the offering the choir and orchestra presented a stirring rendition of Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Pastor Tullian preached a convicting message on the importance of unity in the church from Ephesians 4:1-6. All things were done to God’s glory with excellence in keeping with Coral Ridge’s philosophy of ministry.

Kudos to the worship planners who pulled all the various elements together and also to the sound engineer who achieved a remarkable audio balance throughout the service. When I am in a church service, I like to be able to hear myself singing as well as the congregation around me. I found that even with all the instruments playing together I was able to distinguish the worship leader’s voice, the choir singing in the background, the orchestra, praise band and organ, as well as hear my own voice, the voices of those around me, and also have a sense of the whole congregation singing. That is no small feat, so thank you to whoever paid such careful attention to the sound.

For Tullian and Coral Ridge, this merging of their two services into one is not a matter of preference or convenience but comes from a theologically-shaped conviction rising out of the gospel. As Tullian shared in a blog post yesterday,

Building the church on stylistic preferences or age appeal (whether old or young) is just as contrary to the reconciling effect of the gospel as building it on class, race, or gender distinctions. In a recent interview J. I. Packer said, “If worship services are so fixed that what’s being offered fits the expectations, the hopes, even the prejudices, of any one of these groups as opposed to the others, I don’t believe the worship style glorifies God.” One of the leading ways the church can testify to God’s unifying power before our segregated world is to establish and maintain congregations and worship services that transcend cultural barriers, including age and musical styles. (Blog post: We Are One)

I am still wrestling with whether a single worship style service is a gospel imperative or simply a gospel conviction for Coral Ridge at this time, but I appreciate the conversation Tullian is opening on this issue, and I trust it will make us all think more deeply about church and worship together. Oh, and did I mention, I had a wonderful time worshiping the Lord with my brothers and sisters in Christ at Coral Ridge Sunday. All glory to God!

Don’t Waste Your Unemployment

As many of you know I am currently in between churches and looking for work. This is a tough economy to be looking for work in, and there is not a lot of movement in churches either. Pastors that might normally have been open to move are staying put, while older pastors who had been looking at retirement suddenly find they need to keep working. This is actually a good thing for many churches who can use the stability, but it makes it tough when you are trying to transition into a church.

So, in the meantime I am trying not to waste my unemployment. This is a time to grow in my faith and dependence on the Lord and an opportunity to give testimony to his faithfulness. I am extra conscious of the fact that I need God’s daily provision, and the prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread,” has taken on new meaning for me.

The truth is, we are always daily dependent on God. Even when we have steady employment, we need to recognize that God is the one who provides and look to him, not our job, for security. “Everything I have today, I have because of God.” God has been faithful, and he has provided for all our needs.

Of course, I am also working hard at being productive during this time. In between job searches and resumes, I have been able to make good use of these extra hours God has given me each day. I have taught myself some new skills and worked on some larger projects. The end result so far is the birth of a new business and the completion of a book project. I will be sharing about both of these with you in the coming days, so stay tuned. In the meantime, thank you for your prayers for me and my family during this time of transition.

Related posts:
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    • The Bible Memory Version
    • Church Search
    • Pastoral Profile

Church Search

(Note: New posts are below. This post automatically bumps to the top.)

I am currently seeking God’s will for his next place of ministry for us as a family. If you know of a church that is looking for a pastor, please pass this information on to them. Thank you! Click here for my Pastoral Profile page.

Related posts:
    • Yes, we are all in Florida now!
    • Update on the Fowler Move
    • Big Change for the Fowler Family
    • Questions and Answers about Our Upcoming Move

One-Fourth of Nonprofits to Lose Tax Breaks

From The New York Times:

At midnight on May 15, an estimated one-fifth to one-quarter of some 1.6 million charities, trade associations and membership groups will lose their tax exemptions, thanks to a provision buried in a 2006 federal bill aimed at pension reform.

“It’s going to be an unholy mess once these organizations realize what’s happened to them,” said Diana Aviv, president of the Independent Sector, a nonprofit trade group.

The federal legislation passed in 2006 required all nonprofits to file tax forms the following year. Previously, only organizations with revenues of $25,000 or more — or the vast majority of nonprofit groups — had to file.

The new law, embedded in the 393 pages of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, also directed the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax exemptions of groups that failed to file for three consecutive years. Three years have passed, and thus the deadline looms.

Wow. This sounds huge. Does anyone know how this affects churches?

Update (4/28/2010): I just got an email from a friend (who is a CPA and church treasurer) informing me that this does not apply to churches. He referred me to the Instructions for Form 990 which states the following:

For annual tax periods beginning after 2006, the law requires most tax-exempt organizations, other than churches, to file an annual Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF with the IRS, or to submit a Form 990-N e-Postcard to the IRS. If an organization fails to file an annual return or notice as required for 3 consecutive years, it will automatically lose its tax-exempt status. (Instructions for Form 990, page 1; under the section What’s New: New Penalty Provisions for Nonfiling)

That’s good news. I’m glad to know this won’t be catching any churches by surprise. Now, hopefully the other nonprofits can catch up on time.