On May 24th, four local churches came together for a night of worship. I wanted to share the video of this service here on the blog. It was a powerful night of worship and praise. I love seeing churches work together and break down denominational and geographical barriers.
Archives For Church Related
I recently started using Amazon Smile to support one of my favorite charities, Because We Care Ministries. I do a lot of shopping at Amazon since I have a Prime account with free 2-day shipping on most items. It’s an easy way to help support mission work in Nicaragua. Here is how Amazon Describes it
What is AmazonSmile?
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.
When you go to smile.amazon.com and login with your Amazon account, you can choose from almost one million different charities. I chose Because We Care Ministries in Roanoke, Virginia, a great missions organization that we partner with to do mission work in Nicaragua. They receive 0.5% of the purchase price from every eligible AmazonSmile purchase I make. That may not sound like a lot, but if many people set it up, it can make a huge difference in the mission field.
After you set everything up, you do need to remember to shop at smile.amazon.com instead of the normal www.amazon.com. I installed a Google Chrome browser extension called SmileAlways that automatically redirects me to the smile page. Try it out! I love finding ways to support more mission work.
We just finished our latest sermon series called Foundations at Cornerstone. Our goal was to focus on basic foundational truths that every believer should know and understand. Sometimes, it’s good to just focus on the basics. I have been surprised throughout the series at the positive response from our mature believers. I think pastors tend to forget that many people struggle with doubt and confusion about what they believe.
We focused this series on questions that people have about their faith.
- Can I trust the Bible?
- Who is Jesus?
- Why is the resurrection important? (Easter Message)
- What is our responsibility?
I created the graphics for this series using simple stock graphics and iMovie. It was quick, but I hope it shows what you can do with simple tools and a limited budget. Here is the opening video for the series.
I love hearing stories of growth and life change, and God moved throughout this series.
- One person shared how much our church has helped him overcome his addiction. His comment was that he has never experienced people who truly care about him
- One person shared how they were fearful of messing up and losing their salvation. When they understood what it truly means to have faith in Christ, they were set free from worry and fear of messing up
- Multiple people trusted Christ for salvation
- Two people who had a previous conflict reconciled and asked forgiveness
Each week I hear stories like these. It never gets old seeing God work miracles in our church!
This was also posted on the Cornerstone website
At our First Wednesday Service last week, our focus was on family worship and discipleship. I shared several resources to help you lead your family. Here are just a few of the resources we recommend.
Rightnow Media is a great website that gives Cornerstone attenders access to over 3500 video Bible studies and children’s videos. To signup, please go to www.mycornerstone.org/rightnow to request your login information (if you do not attend Cornerstone, please contact your church about signing up for this great service). Once you are registered with the site, you can access it here. Not only do they have great videos for your children to watch, they also offer great Bible studies on topics like parenting and marriage.
It Starts at Home Bible Study
This is one of the video Bible Studies available through Rightnow Media. Here is the description for the study
Who is shaping what your kids believe?
In these busy, hectic days we take our kids to sports practices, games, music lessons, school tutoring and other activities to give our children the best opportunities for success. But what if we’re missing the chance to teach them what matters most?
Our children can grow up smart, athletic, popular and polite but lack a vibrant relationship with Christ. The few hours they spend in church each week can be helpful, but it cannot nurture a faith in our kids that will withstand the trials that are on the horizon. Church alone cannot teach them, we must start at home. But many parents feel ill equipped to develop the faith of their children.
In these six sessions, we will explore biblical and tangible ways that parents—couples, single parents, blended families and grandparents—can build a legacy of faith for their children. Each session includes interviews with everyday parents talking about their own doubts, fears and desires. Gary Thomas, Matt Chandler, and Kurt and Olivia Bruner provide powerful teaching that will help you give your kids what they need to build a solid framework for lifelong faith.
YouVersion for Kids
The same Bible app that is available for adults is also available for children. Check out www.bible.com/kids to find out more information about this interactive mobile app for children.
New City Catechism
The New City Catechism is a way to teach faith and doctrine to children and adults through the use of questions and answers. There are 52 question and answers that are taught through videos, commentaries, and even songs. This is a great way to spend time together as a family going deeper in your faith. You can access it online or through an iPad app.
Today many churches and Christian organizations publish “statements of faith” that outline their beliefs. But in the past it was expected that documents of this nature would be so biblically rich and carefully crafted that they would be memorized and used for Christian growth and training. They were written in the form of questions and answers, and were called catechisms (from the Greek katechein which means “to teach orally or to instruct by word of mouth”). The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 and Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms of 1648 are among the best known, and they serve as the doctrinal standards of many churches in the world today.
Next Steps to Grow in Your Faith
Finally, our church has a detailed plan to help you grow in your faith. We encourage you to work through this as a family. Click here to read more and complete a personal Spiritual Growth Plan for both you and your family
In a previous post, I shared about ChurchThemes.com, a great company making church templates for WordPress. I’m a huge proponent of using WordPress for church websites if you have someone that has the skill level to maintain the site. WordPress is powerful, but it also requires someone with fairly strong web skills. For churches that want to focus on the content of the site, without worrying about hosting details, security, and updates, a better solution may be to use a company that handles the hard work for you.
FaithConnector is one of the newer sponsors of my site, and they have a great turnkey solution for church websites. They provide great working websites, with all the features you need for your church. You start with a design template, have it customized with your church logo and graphics, and then add content for your church. They handle the hosting and support for you. I’m really impressed with the number of features they offer. Here are just a few.
Price aside, we built our system for churches and ministries, and that’s why you’ll find church and ministry-specific applications included such as the member directory, ice-breakers, ministries, small groups, prayer requests, eCards, classifieds, courses, and online giving and then many, many more that are more general in nature such as discussion boards, chat, calendar, announcements, blogs, business listings, media player, mobile site, podcast, rss feeds, streaming media, email blasting, photo galleries, surveys and online store.
Pricing starts at $45 per month and a $250 startup fee, but you are buying peace of mind when you go with a company like FaithConnector. The video below shows a sample of what FaithConnector is doing. If you are looking for a quick and easy website solution, then this may be for you.
Disclaimer: FaithConnector is a current sponsor of this site and the links in this review are affiliate links. I have not personally used FaithConnector, but I am impressed with the demo videos and the sites they currently host. I am always looking for good technology solutions for churches, and I believe this is a good solution for many churches. You can see my full disclosure policy here.
This past Sunday, we started a new series at Cornerstone on the book of Nehemiah. I have been wanting to preach through Nehemiah for several years, so I am excited to finally start working through the book with our church.
We are using some of the devotional materials from the American Bible Society as we go through this series. They provide a reading plan, a small group guide, and a 40-day devotional entitled Brick by Brick. My hope is that this study will help us as we strive to serve our community and share the Gospel message.
I took the graphics from the Brick by Brick series and made a quick sermon video introduction for Cornerstone using Keynote. I think the story of Nehemiah would make a great movie, so I incorporated a cinematic sound track with the video. Nehemiah is a hero that refuses to give up. Here is the video.
Here are some other books that have been helpful in my preparation for this study
- Visioneering by Andy Stanley
- Be Determined: Standing Firm in the Face of Opposition
- Nehemiah (MacArthur Bible Studies)
- Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary)
- A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom From the Book of Nehemiah
- Holman Old Testament Commentary – Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
Over the past few weeks, I have been putting together a tool for our church. We have taken the mission and vision of our church, and combined it with a process to help people develop a Spiritual Growth Plan. Our elder team is passionate about helping people grow in their faith, and this tool is just another way we can help people grow. Here is what we did:
- First, we created a brochure that shows how our events and activities relate to our mission and vision. This brochure has a section of next steps that people can take to grow in the three main relationship areas of their life. Their relationship with God, their relationship with others, and their relationship with the world.
- Second, we incorporated this information into our website at www.mycornerstone.org/next. On our website, people can create a customized Spiritual Growth Plan based on our activities and resources from Cornerstone. The plan is then emailed to them as a report.
- Finally, we incorporated this same Spiritual Growth Plan into our church mobile app, so that people have yet another way to utilize what we have created.
Our goal is that this tool will be continually updated with new resources and activities at Cornerstone. A Spiritual Growth Plan is a way to be intentional about becoming more like Christ. Our Sermon Series Next shares more about our plans and vision for Cornerstone. Here is a screenshot from our website. Let me know your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
This year I’m encouraging and challenging you to join me in reading your Bible daily. I shared last night at our First Wednesday service that you need a Bible, a pen, and a plan.
- A Bible that you will actually read and understand
- A pen so that you can write down what God is showing you
- A plan so that you can see the storyline of the Bible through the Creation, Fall, Rescue, and Restoration
The plan I am starting with this year is the Essential 100 Plan. It’s a great plan to use if you are just getting started reading your Bible. Here’s more about the E100 plan.
The Essential 100 Challenge (E100) helps you get an overview of the Bible… without getting bogged down. The Plan guides you through 50 Old Testament passages and 50 New Testament passages — The Essential 100 — so you can see the big picture of God’s Word, and form a daily Bible reading habit in the process. E100 is an achievable way to have a “through the Bible” experience; it’s the Bible reading plan people love to complete.
Will you join me in reading through this plan? Here is how you can start:
- At Cornerstone, we have bookmarks available for you. Pick one up and check off your progress each day.
- On the YouVersion Bible app, you can signup for the E100 plan – Check it out here - You can even listen to it through the YouVersion app if you don’t like to read
- Download a E100 Planner here from my blog
If churches could do only one thing to help people at all levels of spiritual maturity grow in their relationship with Christ, their choice is clear. They would inspire, encourage, and equip their people to read the Bible — specifically, to reflect on Scripture for meaning in their lives. The numbers say most churches are missing the mark — because only one out of five congregants reflects on Scripture every day.” (Move, p 19)
If you are a follower of christ, don’t you owe it to yourself to read and learn about the God you are following? Join me and let’s read, learn, and discuss together!