Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Old Landmark - Pentecostal History

A friend and colleague of mine, Bro. Matthew Shaw, has somewhat recently started a blog that contains many articles he has written. The name of the blog is 'The Old Landmark' and the URL is:

http://oldlandmark.wordpress.com

Bro. Shaw is an excellent writer and researcher. Most of his articles are on the history of the Pentecostal movement and/or doctrinal history. He is a regular contributor for the Pentecostal Herald (official publication of the United Pentecostal Church International) and writes a monthly article for the Indiana Apostolic Trumpet (official publication of the Indiana District, UPCI).

Bro. Shaw holds a M.L.S. from Indiana University and a B.A. in English/Literature from Ball State University. He is a professional librarian at a public university and an instructor of undergraduate English/Literature. He is also an accomplished musician/music director and is very active in Apostolic ministry.

If you enjoy reading about Pentecostal history and doctrinal history, you will definitely enjoy 'The Old Landmark' blog.

Friday, May 23, 2008

God Hates Divorce

"I hate divorce" - God

It is no secret that divorce is a huge problem in American society. Every 27 seconds a couple divorces. There are 7,000 divorces per day affecting 10,000 children. Divorce rates have doubled since 1965. Over half of all first marriages and sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce. At current rates, about 1.5 million couples divorce each year in the U.S. Perhaps saddest of all, Christians are reportedly divorcing at approximately the same rates as non-Christians. Divorce is ravaging our nation.

What does God think of this trend of divorce that is so prevalent today?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ministry Success Through Empowerment

Most Pastors are well aware of the fact a local church simply will not grow beyond the size of which one person can personally manage at a reasonable level. No matter how hard a Pastor works, he will never be able meet all of the needs of a church by himself after the constituency has grown to a certain size (generally about 100-150 people in regular attendance). Many have come to the conclusion that delegation is necessary to maintain a growth mode in a church. Delegation, however, has definite limits with regards to long-term effectiveness and success.

The key to long-term success in ministry is not delegation, but empowerment. The most successful Lead/Senior Pastors do two things. First, they identify and develop leaders. Second, they empower these leaders providing them with information, responsibility, authority, and trust to make decisions and act independently. They realize that when leaders feel empowered to act, they tend to respond with loyalty and commitment. Empowered leaders achieve personal ownership that generates a much higher level and quality of performance.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Christian Rights in Public Schools

There have been several occasions in which parents from our congregation have asked me questions pertaining to the religious rights of their children who attend public schools. I have to admit that I have not always known the answers. But, I always do my best to help them find good information.

Recently, I became aware of a great contact and some helpful information on this topic. The Christian Law Association (CLA) appears to be a fantastic source for asking questions and/or reporting problems and legal difficulty in regards to practicing one's faith in public life. I have not personally contacted CLA yet, but I have communicated with others who have and reported them to be extremely helpful. The CLA contact information is on their website. They apparently encourage people to contact them with their legal questions.

The CLA website contains a nice section entitled 'Public School Rights Video Series'. This site contains over a dozen brief videos (about 30 to 45 seconds each) addressing commonly asked questions about religious rights in public schools. Below is a snapshot of the videos' content (the link to the actual videos is at the end of this blog entry).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Alliance Defense Fund and The Pulpit Initiative

In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson proposed a piece of legislation in Congress that became known as the 'Johnson Amendment'. This legislation changed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code by prohibiting churches and other non-profit organizations from supporting or opposing a candidate for political office. Since the enactment of this legislation, Pastors and other ministers have been forced to keep silent regarding political speech that could be construed as speaking for or against a candidates - even if the speech is clearly proclamation of scriptural truth. Pastors and churches can be investigated by the IRS and, if found in conflict with the regulation, have their non-profit tax exemption status revoked.

A well known conservative Christian legal advocacy group called the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is taking the IRS to task with respect to this government regulation. This organization and its supporters rightly proclaims that the 'Johnson Amendment' constitutes a form of interference with and prohibition of religious free speech that is unconstitutional in nature. The ADF has designated Sunday September 28, 2008 as 'Pulpit Freedom Sunday' and is recruiting U.S. Pastors to defy the IRS mandate on this day. If this action results in an IRS investigation, the ADF will sue to overturn the federal rules regulating the unconstitutional practices of the IRS.

Is this a good idea?

Should Apostolic ministers consider participating in such an endeavor?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Does Divorce Make People Happier?

Many people who seek a divorce allegedly do so because they feel trapped in an unhappy life. They believe that if they could liberate themselves from their marriage, which they believe to be the cause of their unhappiness, they could 'move on' to a life that is more fulfilling. Social research, however, demonstrates the fallacy of this myth.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Video Resources for Ministry Development

I have been aware of a website called PCminister.com for quite some time. But, it has come to my attention lately that many of my ministerial colleagues are not aware of this great, free video training resource. The tag line for this PCminister.com is "Equipping Workers from the Parking Lot to the Pulpit". As the name and motto imply, the site is designed to train and equip young and aspiring ministers and develop those already working in the ministry in various capacities.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Top Ten Tips for Church Websites

#1 - Every church needs a web site.
We are living in the 21st century. We are living in the Information Age. The Internet has become the primary tool used by people to find information on anything and everything. According to the mindset of a large and growing number of people in our society, you don't exist if you can't be found on the Internet. This trend is continuing to grow every year and is here to stay.

#2 - People will visit a website before they visit a church.
Because the Internet has become the primary means people use to research and gather information, it has become increasing likely that potential guests will "check you out" on the web before making a decision on whether or not to visit in person. Also, studies show that people seek out Christian resources online as an alternative for attending church. While this trend certainly does not reflect the goals of Apostolic ministry, it does demonstrate an opportunity to make connections with individuals searching for religious/spiritual content.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Crown Financial Ministries

Many years ago, I found out about a non-profit organization called Crown Financial Ministries by hearing their radio programs on a Christian radio station. I would tune in while driving somewhat frequently and enjoyed what I heard. I always thought that the program was interesting and promoted good information. It wasn't until about five years ago, however, that I discovered Crown Financial Ministries consisted of so much more than the radio programs.