Free Christmas Video Resource from Gateway Church!

 
 

I read on Tony Morgan’s blog earlier this week that Gateway Church (Pastor Robert Morris) is offering a free Christmas Video to anyone who wants it; and it’s available in HD.

If you’re looking for a last minute video resource to show before, during or after your Christmas Eve or Sunday service – or perhaps just on your website, this video may be just what you are looking for. Enjoy!

 

Get with YouVersion Today!

YouVersion

Hopefully, you’ve heard of this great website by now. I’ve blogged about it before but feel it’s worth bringing up again. www.youversion.com is a free website that offers a myriad of tools to help you and your congregation integrate the Word of God into daily life.

It’s not just a Bible Website! It’s much, much more. It’s a place for people to gather to talk about Scripture – and what it means to them. It’s a place for accountability and encouragement. It’s a place to journal & remember what you are learning.  YouVersion is fast becoming the primary means by which this generation interfaces with God’s Word.

FOR YOUR CHURCH
First, let me give you some examples of how this website can serve your church. With a little focused attention on your part and regular attention each week, you may discover that your congregation reads the Bible more than ever! Let me show you how:

  • Read a Bible plan together.YouVersion has over 150 different reading plans. Some are devotional plans from well known leaders like Rick Warren. Most are Bible reading plans that range from 7 day plans to year long plans. Some of the plans are even topical in nature and would go perfectly with a sermon series. Individual’s can subscribe to plans via many different methods. We encouraged our congregation to join the “New Thru 30” plan last year when we did a series on the New Testament. Check out the Bible Reading plans here.
  • Create a Group & Live Events
    You can create a group just for your church and encourage your congregation to join. Once your group has been created, it can be used for encouragement and unified activities. As an example, click on THIS LINK to see a Live Event I created for a group I created for my blog readers. Note: This Live Event is simply one example of what you might consider doing with your congregation. 
  • Encourage Accountability
    YouVersion recently released a new feature that allows individual users to pick another YouVersion user as an accountability partner with a Bible Reading Plan. YouVersion will send email updates to the accountability partner on the individual’s progress in the plan, including whether or not they are getting behind in their reading. You might consider challenging your congregation, Sunday School classes or small groups to partner together.
  • Advertise YouVersion RegularlyThis website is free to everyone, compliments of the people at lifechurch.tv. Your congregation can only benefit from it’s use. Find ways to regularly advertise the website to your church. Put links on your website, make announcements, place ads in your bulletin, maybe even add a link to the site on your email signature.


FOR INDIVIDUALS
There are many other great features in YouVersion that will help you and your congregation stay rooted in the Word. Here are a few of them.
  • My Notes & Community Notes
    You can attach as many personal or private notes to individual Scriptures as you want. This takes ‘writing in the margin of your Bible’ to a whole new level. Notes can be kept private so that only the user sees them, or they can be made public for everyone to view when they browse to that particular passage. 
  • Bookmarks & Labels
    You can bookmark as many verses as you want to allow for easy access later on. Additionally, YouVersion has announced a new feature that should be rolled out very soon. The new feature will allow you to create labels for each individual bookmark. So for instance, you will be able to bookmark James 1:19 and then create labels like ‘anger’, ‘listening’, ‘patience’. Over time, those labels will come in real handy when your trying to look up passages you’ve bookmarked as relating to ‘anger’!
  • Pick Your Version & Parallel Bibles
    YouVersion boasts more than 100 different versions of the Bible in multiple languages. Pretty much, it’s highly likely your favorite version exists. Additionally, the ‘Parallel’ button will let you view a particular passage in two different versions at the same time.
  • Audio Bible
    Have a few moments to spare while driving to work, taking a shower, or mowing the lawn? Listen to the Bible, again in several versions. You can even listen to your daily Bible reading plan! Personally, this feature alone has increased my diet of the Word of God.
  • Go Mobile
    YouVersion is available for just about every mobile option out there. I have YouVersion installed on my phone and enjoy almost all of the functionality of the website at the touch of my finger. You can create widgets for the verse of the day or even your Bible reading plan.
  • Twitter & FaceBook
    YouVersion makes it real easy to post a Scripture to Twitter or FaceBook. Did you read something profound? Let all your friends read it too!
There’s more. Signup for YouVersion today and fall in love with God’s Word all over again!

Do Something Different

 
This past Sunday our church did something unique. It got people talking, created some buzz, added value to the message, and created a memory for our congregation. It was something different.

We held a ‘No-Show’ Sunday. We removed all of the volunteers from the schedule and replaced them with cardboard silhouettes. We trimmed down the service to almost nothing. No projection, videos, lights, or worship team. Our worship leader led from a guitar. The words to the songs were in the  bulletin – which people picked up themselves because there were no greeters or ushers. Everyone left right after the service because there was no cafe. Staff and key elders ran the preschool – there was no programming for gradeschoolers. I could go on, but you get the idea. Our series title is ‘Me to We’ – we’re talking about partnering together in ministry through service in the church. It was awesome.

When was the last time you did something unique, different and memorable?

I ran across this video clip at churchm.ag today. It’s about a store called ‘The Limited’ that did something different. What could you do in your church or community this winter that people would always remember (in a good way)?

Can’t see this video? Click this link.

What the Church Can Learn from Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir

I ran across this video clip on Michael Hyatt’s blog. I must say, it deeply impacted me.  I’ll share a few reasons why after you’ve watched it too. It’s about 15 minutes long, but well worth it. Be sure to watch to the very end as composer and conductor, Eric Whitacre, shows the first 3 minutes of hisVirtual Choir performing “Sleep”. Wow.

Why Is This So Powerful?
Here are a few suggestions as to why I found myself in tears during this presentation.

  • Unity.
    Hundreds and hundreds of people came together for one cause despite the overwhelming differences in age, culture, beliefs, financial status, and lifestyle. None of the singers ever questioned whether they were willing to sing based on who else would be singing with them. The result was a unified choir that could quite possibly be the largest and most unsegregated, unbiased choir to ever perform together in history. In many ways, Christians all over the world share a similar unity through our mutual faith in Jesus Christ. 
  • Unique.
    Each voice was completely unique, one of a kind. No two voices were exactly the same. Each one represented a unique person and contributor. It is so discouraging to me when people live their lives believing they have no contribution to make in the world. God told Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I set you apart’. It’s so important for us to remember that we are each and every one uniquely created and extremely valuable to God.
  • Alone.
    Every video was created with one person in front of a webcam. There is nobody in the background cheering them on or providing moral support. In fact, most of the singers were likely completely alone during their individual recording. Although there are many things we do together, our contribution to God’s purposes start within ourselves. God has given us the unique responsibility to decide to live for and follow Him. Nobody else can make that decision – or carry it out – for us.
  • Real Life.
    The ‘normal’ venue for a choir of this magnitude would have been performed in a special building, with lights, cameras, sound systems, coordinated clothes, etc. It’s fascinating to see everyone’s living rooms, bedrooms, etc. in the background while the singers perform. This is how our Christian faith will really be lived out. In real life every day of the week . . . not on Sunday mornings during the church service.
  • Confidence.
    The self-confidence each singer exhibited to record and submit their solo was inspiring. I suspect many people battled self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity – but they pressed through to the end. I particularly appreciated the story of the wife who submitted her recording despite her husband’s negative attitude. We will fulfill God’s purposes in our lives and ministries one day, hour, and moment at a time. Often His goals are accomplished because we choose to press through the internal attacks of the enemy and find victory by believing in what God’s word says instead of listening to what our mind and experiences have to say.
  • Conviction.
    Each singer had a conviction that this project was important and worth dedicating themselves to. The hours spent behind the scenes is a testimony to that fact. It’s OK for us to try, fail, learn and adjust (See ‘The Rhythm of Failure‘). It’s appropriate for that cycle to take place 2, 14, 78, or hundreds and hundreds of times before we get it right. If it’s what God has called us to do, or be, then we will do whatever necessary to get there.
  • Leadership.
    I am very impressed with Mr. Whitacre’s leadership. He shows courage, passion, excellence, and initiative. He recruited over two thousand people to participate in his choir – and didn’t pay any of them. As church leaders, we can learn a lot from this example. How many willing and ready volunteers and leaders do we have sitting in our churches and community, just waiting for a cause to move them off their seats and into God’s purposes?
Here is the entire presentation of “Sleep” in case you’d like to watch it to the end. Make sure you watch it in full screen!
 
 

Four Things the Church Can Learn From Ben Watson

Whether you are a fan of the New England Patriots or not, you’ve got to admire Ben Watson in this outstanding play against the Bronco’s last year. Check out this run and then read on.

Four things the local church can learn from Watson’s great effort:

  • Don’t Look at the Odds
    Everyone was amazed that Ben made that play. I think most were awed that he even tried. He wasn’t interested in finding out if it was wise to go for it, he just did. How many times do we give up before even trying, simply because the odds look too far against us. What would the Bible read like if that’s what the hero’s of our faith did? David & Goliath. Moses & Pharoah. Esther & Haman. Mary. Peter. Paul. Stephen. Dare I say . . . Jesus. Don’t hold back. The ‘odds’ are man made, but we’re living for God.
  • Give Your All
    Watson gave his all in that run. He didn’t hesitate, stumble, or falter. If he had, he wouldn’t have made it. His ‘all’ was everything needed to get the job done. I wonder what would happen if we put that same unrelenting effort towards the ministry? Perhaps our very best effort is exactly the amount needed to fulfill God’s purposes in our church. Is it possible we short-change the work of God simply because it’s easier to run than sprint?
  • Resist the Urge to Compare
    What if Ben Watson saw how fast everyone else was running and used that as a benchmark for what he should expect of himself? Not good. What benchmark do you measure your ministry by? Is it the church you grew up in? The church down the road or one you watch online? None of those should reflect who you are or what you could do in your unique venue.
  • Don’t Give Up
    At some point in that run, Watson had a choice to make. He could keep running or give up. Most of us would have given up. He didn’t. He pressed through the mental wall or ‘dip’ and kept going until the end. The biggest battle we face is inside. We’re regularly faced with people challenges, financial difficulties, and failed attempts to build positive momentum in the church. It’s so tempting to just slow down and go back to the drawing board before the play has even finished. 

Remember Paul’s words today and take heart.

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Elim Family: BASIC College Ministries

I have BASIC to thank for introducing me to Elim Gospel Church way back in 1990. B.A.S.I.C. stands for Brothers and Sisters in Christ and is a ministry dedicated to encouraging college students to connect with God through college events/activities, conferences, and the local church. I believe every college student should get involved in a BASIC group (find a campus near you here) or help to start one. Don’t know where to start? How about checking out their upcoming events and check out their website at www.thebasicsite.org! This amazing ministry is led by one of my favorite men of God, Todd Cavanaugh – who attends Elim Gospel Church and seems to be a magnet for local news channels!

‘Invite’ Series by Andrew Manzano

Andrew Manzano

I’d like to introduce you to a friend at Elim Gospel ChurchAndrew Manzano. Andrew owns his own production company at www.thesoundtank.com and makes some AWESOME video’s for the Christian community.

A while back I encouraged you to consider ‘spicing’ up your Sunday morning services with the occasional Sunday Service Video Clip. Andrew’s clips have given www.sermonspice.com some great traffic – and for good reason. Check out his “Invite” series below and consider purchasing one or more of them this week!

Andy Stanley’s Podcast (for the non-tech Christian leader)

Pastor Andy Stanley

If you are a pastor or church leader you are probably familiar with Andy Stanley. If you aren’t, then I recommend you get familiar with him right now. Andy Stanley is a very important voice in church leadership, management and personal growth. You can learn more about Andy right here and you can browse and purchase some awesome books right here.

This post is meant to be a quick and easy way for you to listen to Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast without actually subscribing to the podcast (which I recommend you do – subscribe with iTunes/subscribe with feed-burner). If I were you, I would make it a personal goal to listen to every one of these 25 minute audio clips . . . several times. I also recommend you ask your church leaders and friends to listen to them as well.

If you are unfamiliar with how to listen to podcasts, then I recommend you watch one of these short video tutorials.

Subscribe to Podcast in iTunes

Subscribe to Podcast using Google Reader


Note: Due to copyright issues, I am unable to provide links to each individual Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast in this blog. However, should you choose to subscribe via Google Reader you can easily see past Podcast’s and listen to them whenever you want.

The Rhythm of Failure

Craig Groeschel

Do you remember when you learned how to ride a bike? How about your first few times trying to tread water? What can you learn today from that experience? Perhaps it’s time for you to go back to the basics all over again. You still remember how to ride a bike, but I wonder if you’ve forgotten how to learn how to ride a bike?

This is my fear for many pastors and church leaders. They’ve forgotten about the rhythm of failure. Failure is critical if you want to learn to do anything new. There’s a rhythm within failure that equips and stimulates new ideas and growth.

It goes something like this:

  • You try.
  • You fail.
  • You learn.
  • You adjust.

This morning I watched this 10 minute clip from Craig Groeschel. I was encouraged. I needed to hear what he had to say about failure. Among other things, he shares four things we need to take risks and embrace failure in the church.

I think you need to watch it too. Why not stop what you’re doing right now, put this on full screen, turn up the volume, and give yourself a quick leadership lesson. Perhaps you’ll want to forward this video on to the other leaders in your church as well. You won’t regret it.

Love Your Sound Tech As Yourself

There is someone else on the stage. You can’t see him, but he’s not invisible. His presence rolls of the stage in waves – sound-waves. He lives in a world of high’s, mid’s and low’s – and no, he’s probably not manic-depressive. When he’s ‘on’, you sound fabulous. When he’s ‘off’, you sound boomy, hollow, or possibly demented. He is either your hero or a villain.

I’m talking about your sound man (or woman). Pixar did a superb job of catching the essence and challenge sound tech’s (and pastors) face every Sunday in this short clip. For copyright reasons, I am only showing you the first 2 minutes. Enjoy.

Love Your Sound Tech As Yourself
All kidding aside, your sound tech is a very important part of the Sunday morning experience. He probably knows things about sound that you don’t , and even if that isn’t true . . . well, he’s back there and you’re up here, right?

It seems that a lot of pastors and church leaders nurse a gnawing frustration when it comes to their sound tech. They never seem to ‘get it right’. It’s too loud, too soft, or just mixed weird. The microphone isn’t working again, the monitors hum distractedly, or you can’t hear the video as it’s playing on the screens. Overall, the relationship tends to be strained.

I have a suggestion for you. Invest in your sound tech relationally. Ask he and his family over for dinner. Set up occasional meetings with him to just talk shop regarding the Sunday morning experience. Help him understand your values and preferences with sound. Cast your vision for ministry to him. Let him dream with you about the church and it’s future. Help him feel a part and extension of you every single week – after all, he is.

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