September 2013
Church Press Newsletter

"Proud to be an American! But
ashamed of my Government!"

That's the window sticker on a car seen recently in Denver. Pretty well sums up how many people feel today. Either way, we need some help.

Government: A Godly Perspective by R. R. Kremer (WELS) is a six lesson reproducible Bible study on CD, (make as many copies as you wish) that offers some real help. Let your people know that you are beginning this study, and your attendance will definitely go up. Chapter titles:
  1. Government established by God.
  2. America designed to be Godly.
  3. The Christian and civil disobedience.
  4. The Christian's role in government.
  5. Church and state, agenda or fact?  
  6. Overview of today's government.  

Click website to order or email us: #259. $39.99.  


Presence Power

"It is beyond obvious that texting 'sorry 4 ur loss' cannot replace the handwritten card. And the handwritten card cannot replace the hug, the crying on the shoulder, the presence."
- By Tim Challies, Leadership Journel, August, 2013

Can Anything Be Done to Improve Your Worship Services?

Ask folks who are not members, perhaps a friend, to attend a worship service. Ask them to write down their observations on the music, sermon, and other aspects of the service. Then treat them to coffee at Starbucks. Their assessment can prove very helpful. To get a broader assessment ask each elder, church officer, and member to try to enlist just one non-member for this effort.

Idea for Elders

Most Boards of Elders meet monthly. Every other month idea: After a brief devotion by Pastor (1) have each Elder visit one non-attender. Then (2) report back to share what happened, and (3) pray for all who were visited.

This procedure has many, many benefits. Try it at your next meeting. Do it at least every other month.

Entitlement Generation

Definition: "The group born between 1979 and 1994 who believe they are owed certain rights and benefits without further justification. Example: The entitlement generation expects higher salaries, flexible work hours, and ample time off." -

For Pastor's Eyes  Only

The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel. Covers not only mistakes, but offers practical suggestions to move ahead. Hard cover. 200 pages. New. Retails for $14.99. Free (including shipping) to the first pastor who emails us.

For Church Secretary's
Eyes Only

Breaking Free Day by Day, devotions for every day of the year,by Beth Moore. Hard cover. 382 pages. Hard cover. New. Retails for $15.00. Free (including shipping) to the first secretary (or office administrator) who emails us.

Review, Review, Review!

When using Getting Closer to God with your junior confirmands, we encourage a first quarter review using some of the worksheet questions from the first five lessons plus any additional questions you may wish to ask (do the same at the conclusion of the second, third, and fourth quarters).

Not only will this help drive home the truths of each of the lessons - it will permit discussion of any points that are not understood.

This review session can be informal, including pizza or chips and pop during the review. The young people will "love you for this."  It's also fun to turn the review into a contest such as the boys against the girls to see which team gets the highest score.

Consider inviting parents to attend class sessions and the reviews. Some pastors make it a must to have at least one parent (on a rotating basis), to be present. It's also a good idea to have students write a minimum 100 resume of the sermon each week.

An Excellent Church Website

We like the attractive and very informative website for Faith Lutheran Church (LCMS), Oakville, MO, Rev. John Brunette, lead pastor. Excellent job of identifying all the programs and activities of the Church. Click Faith Lutheran Church for ideas. Well done.

In place

. . . of a Scripture reading for a worship service consider having five girls and five boys each recite one of the Ten Commandments by memory with the meaning. Kids love it and so do the adults. Print text out in the bulletin.

Things That Matter
  1. Do not teach a small class in a large room.
  2. Do not have a lot of empty chairs.
  3. Arrange chairs in a circle or a "U."
  4. If you have two worship services with low attendance at each, get rid of one of the services.
  5. If using a textbook, be sure to always have extra copies on hand. 
  6. Make sure that lighting is not just adequate but better than that. 
Humor in the Pulpit

I like it. There are two ingredients in almost every joke. The first is surprise. If you're not a funny kind of preacher, your element of surprise will be much greater. A second ingredient in almost all jokes that causes people to laugh - conflict! Yes, conflict! Think about all the things in your life that went wrong, but now you can laugh about them. People want to know you're not perfect, and you can identify with their struggles. A little humor goes a long way in making you a very effective communicator of God's Word. - Nick Arnette

Lingo - Be Careful
By Judy Karwan, Our Savior Lutheran Church (LCMS), Palm Springs, CA, Rev. Mike Coppersmith, Pastor

Look out for Christian "lingo." Many of the words in our worship service may be meaningful to us but difficult for the unchurched to understand. Occasionally, litanies and hymn verses may need to be rewritten so that they are understandable to the first-time visitor.

We invite you to hear the music and read the words to Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) by Chris Tomlin. Take a moment to reflect on God's ending love and His amazing grace for you. Click Amazing Grace.

Let's  Be About the Business of Forgiving
By Pastor Don Ginkel

A minister was dealing with a woman about accepting Christ. She gave one excuse after another as to why she could not do so. Finally he said to her, "Is there someone that you cannot forgive?" She looked startled and said, "How did you know?" He said, "I didn't know, but I do know that unless you do, you cannot be forgiven."

Is there someone today that you cannot forgive? I heard of a man who carries a notebook in his pocket and on the back page of the notebook he has what is called a "Get List." It means people he plans to get even with because of some real or imagined wrong against him. Is there a list like this in your head? Is there someone whose name is written in the back of your mind that you plan to "get even" with some how, some time, some way?

Forgiving is clearing the record of that person and transferring the responsibility for any punishment to God. Forgiveness will allow you to have the same relationship toward him after he offends you as you had before he offended you. But how?

Christ is sufficient to allow you to forgive when you're slandered, when you are challenged in every area of your life, when your convictions are cut to shreds before the world, when you are betrayed, lied about, and degraded, when you are struggling to pick yourself up and you're hit again on the way up. I can say to you this very moment as a living testimony, it really works.

Jesus: "Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37b). Let's be about the business of forgiving! It's the only way to live.

By Rev. Darrell Stuehrenberg (LCMS)
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Fort Lauderdale, FL

The sermon for August 25 at the 9:00 a.m. service and the 5:30 p.m. service the 24th is based on Luke 13:22-33. The conversation with Jesus turns to . . . HEAVEN!! And Jesus' answer is . . . BE PREPARED!!

For the last several months our Sunday morning Adult Bible Class at Bethlehem has been wrestling with the Adult Bible Study, "The Many Wonders of Heaven" (its a great study written by Lutheran Pastor Donald Ginkel). Our attendance has been . . . VERY GOOD!! Many Sundays we have fifty to sixty percent of our Sunday worship attenders participating in this Bible Study! Many folks have questions about . . . HEAVEN!!

It seems that I am at that point in my ministry where I am officiating at a fair number of funerals and memorial services. If there is ever a message that a funeral service SHOUTS at the attender, it is . . . ARE YOU PREPARED?

My prayer today is that your eyes are focused on the Lord Jesus Christ for your eternal future . . AND THAT HEAVEN IS YOUR HOME!!

Note from Pastor Don: Hurray for Pastor Stuehrenberg and the people he teaches! Your Bible study group can experience growth similar to that at Bethlehem. Order sufficient flyers for your bulletins. If your budget is a bit strained, Church Press will supply them free. Just ask and you will receive. Student Guide, #147, is $6.95. Leader's Guide, #148, is $4.95. Bulletin Inserts, #149, 50 for $3.50. To order click HEAVEN at our website or email us or call toll free: 888-772-8878.

6 Commitments for Growing a Church in Unity
By Pastor Rick Warren

One of the reasons why Saddleback church has grown over the years is because we have maintained a harmonious atmosphere. When there is a church that is loving, it attracts people like a magnet. When a church really loves, really offers love to each other and those who are welcomed into it, you'd have to lock the doors to keep people out.

All living things grow and if a church is alive and living, it will grow naturally. The question, if the church isn't growing, is, "What is keeping it from growing?" . . . A simple reading of Romans 14 reveals six ways that we are to build each other up rather than tearing each other down. [read more]

Stack of Stuff

Something we're too insulated from: 1 million child refugees from Syria (some 740,000 of these are under the age of 11)! That's not just another number, but a child facing horrors we cannot even comprehend. "Even after they have crossed a border to safety, they are traumatized, depressed and in need of a reason for hope" (Anthony Lake). Please pray and give. You and your church can send a check either to "Samaritan's Purse" or "Lutheran World Relief."

Three weeks ago Pastor Tim Carr (LCMS) in Toledo, OH,
ordered more copies of I Have Good News for You and then he added: "I'm working hard toward 300 adult confirmands." Yes! Amen!
Oswald Chambers:
"Never become attached to anything that continues to hurt God."

I Have Good News for You
is available in Spanish and for the visually impaired in large print. Click Good News.

Every church should know this:
To draw more visitors to your church website, make regular changes or additions. AND, more often than not, the pastor's page is visited a lot!

Promote your next adult membership class.
The following paragraphs can be used in your bulletins and newsletters. Click promote.

(Christian Copyright Licensing International) is a must so that you can do the right thing and legally copy music for worship services. Call 1-800-234-2446.

"Survey: Evangelicals Increasingly Countercultural on Same-Sex Issues.
Nearly one-third of Catholics approve same-sex marriage, but only 2 percent of evangelicals say the same." - Abby Stocker

Two good habits to develop: 1. Read at least one chapter in your Bible each morning before reading the newspaper. 2. Read at least one good book a month.

If you were not a Christian, how do you think you would want your Christian friends to act towards you? What do you think you would want them to say or not say to you? Would you prefer that they not bring up their Christian faith to you?

Do You Trust Me?
Children's Talk by Pastor Don Ginkel

This morning we are going to talk about faith or trust. David, I am going to ask you to come over to this chair and stand on it. The first question I want to ask you is, "Do you trust me?" He will say, "Yes." Since you trust me, I'm going to put a blindfold on you in just a moment. Then I want you to fall forward, and I am going to catch you. But if I miss and don't catch you, you are going to be "ketchup" on the floor. Do you understand what we are going to do? "Yes." I'm going to stand back here, and I am going to tell you to jump and, if you trust me, I will catch you. You won't get hurt. If I don't catch you, what is going to happen to you? You are going to fall face down on the floor and get hurt pretty bad - aren't you? That's okay? "Yes." [read more]


Getting Closer to God

A twenty lesson course by Pastor Ginkel on the basic truths of Scripture for junior confirmands, Christian Day Schools, and adults. Passages (NIV) are printed out with summary thoughts, suggested passages for memorization, closing hymn, prayer, Bible reading schedule for the week, and challenging worksheet questions.

In catechetical form with strong emphasis on Jesus in each lesson. A 67 page Leader's Guide helps with preparation. It is Lesson One that elicits so many responses. It asks, "How Close Am I?"This is followed by these eight questions:
  1. Will most people go to heaven?
  2. Are you sure you are going to heaven?
  3. Is it possible to know for sure that you have eternal life?
  4. Why will you get into heaven?
  5. Is salvation something you can earn?
  6. How then is eternal life possible?
  7. How do I receive the gift of eternal life?
  8. Can I have the assurance that I belong to God's family and that heaven is my home?  
Having answered these questions from the Bible young people are then ready to proceed with the ABC's of the Christian faith. 128 pages, #145, $9.50. To print out Lesson One for your perusal, "How Close Am I?," click How Close? Click website to order or email us .

The 12 Biggest Challenges Pastors Face
By Thom S. Rainer

In my latest latest non-scientific Twitter survey, I asked the following question of pastors: What is your biggest challenge in ministry? Here are the top twelve responses with representative quotes. I've taken the liberty to expand most of the quotes from their abbreviated form in Twitter.
  1. Apathy and internal focus. "I have been in ministry for over twenty years, and I've never seen church members more apathetic and internally focused." [read more
Does Where We Worship Matter?
By Abby Stocker
Christianity Today, August 14, 2013

I was raised in a tiny country church on liturgy and hymns. White, steeple, pews, potluck dinners - my church had the stereotype covered . . . when I went off to college in the city, I found myself in auditorium-style sanctuaries with rows of cushy seats and screens flashing lyrics over pictures of running creeks . . . When we sang, the worship band brashly added choruses or enhanced the hymn-turned-pop hit with appropriately choreographed lighting . . . I suffered a sort of church culture shock. [read more]

The Boomerang Sermon
By Chris Nye

Every week pastors around the world set aside time to prepare sermons. We stare at the blank document on our word processor, watching that terrifying cursor blink, almost in unison with the seconds ticking away. It's a stressful time.

Even though I pick out the topics and Scripture for my sermons months in advance, this moment of blank document anxiety begins every week when I sit down to prepare my message. Since I study at home (a place of endless distraction), I find every excuse not to write anything down or read anything from the stack of resources I've pulled from my shelves . . . Saturday night is not a time of fun and entertainment, but of utter madness. [read more]

Iscariot: A Novel of Judas

This is an amazing book. We highly recommend your reading Iscariot by Tosca Lee. The most reviled man in Biblical history comes to life. In Jesus, Judas believes he has found the One - the promised Messiah and future king destined to overthrow Roman rule. Galvanized, Judas joins the disciples, ready to enact the change he has waited for all his life.

But Judas' vision of a nation free from Roman rule is crushed by the inexplicable actions of the Nazarene Himself who seems in the end to turn against His own people. This is the story of Judas - from his childhood and tenuous family life as a devout Jew to a man known to the world as the betrayer of Christ.

Your local library may be able to get a copy for you. You can order the Kindle format for $10.67 (includes free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet) or the hardcover for $16.28 from Amazon. You'll want your family and friends to read it, too. Hoping you order your copy now.

  The Lord's Love for Sinners

The prophet Isaiah had been ministering to a group of rebellious people. They were failing miserably. They really didn't care for God anymore. They went through a lot of religious motions, even brought offerings along at worship time, but they didn't repent of their sin and believe. Isaiah basically said, "Don't come to worship anymore and bring your sacrifices because it's not going to do you any good. We have preached the Word to you, visited you in your homes, talked to you privately, and you refuse to change. You scorn the poor, the fatherless, and the widows. The bottom line says that you are failing."

Then God spoke through the prophet to these rebellious people: "'Come now, let us settle the matter,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool'" (Isaiah 1:18). That's the greatness of the Lord's love for sinners, for people just like you today.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!

Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love,

Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

                                          - Samuel Trevor Francis

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