Oct 21

Praying for My Pastor – rest and peace

During the four Tuesdays in October, Share will publish brief journaling ideas and prayer suggestions related to Clergy Appreciation Month. Use them as you support everyone on your church staff in prayer. Think, too, about additional ways to honor those who serve you and your faith community in Christ’s name. CTA has a number of products and several free ideas you may find helpful. 

As you begin, read Exodus 16:23.

In ancient Israel, every seventh day was a day of rest. God’s people literally stopped working. This day off was the Lord’s day, a day he gave the nation as a gift, as a sign of his love, and as a reminder of his promise to send the Savior, in whom we find true rest from the impossible burden of trying to save ourselves by our own efforts. Do you encourage your pastor(s) to take a day of rest?

Lord Jesus, our pastor(s) serve you and us each time we gather to worship. Thank you for their commitment and devotion to you and to us. Just as they are faithful in their work, make them faithful to rest:

  • Convince them that they need time off to recharge their batteries and to enjoy your gifts of relationships, recreation, and relaxation.
  • Work in the hearts of each member a sensitivity to this need and a respect for our pastor(s)’ time off.
  • Draw all our leaders to yourself in your Word for their own comfort, strengthening, and enlightenment. May they rest in your sure promise of life everlasting in Jesus our Lord.
  • Above all, I pray . . .

Consider this observation by the reformer Martin Luther: “It is necessary to impress on people at large that all who would be called Christians owe it to God to consider those worthy of double honor who minister to their souls.” How could you express this “double honor” to your own minister(s) this week? (See also 1 Timothy 5:17.)

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 20

Cross-Shaped Prayers — a free devotion for this week’s meetings

This week’s free devotion is slightly adapted from CTA’s new devotion book for Christian Workers, Shaping Hearts; Changing Lives: 30 Days to Grow in Service. It is available now, and the product line includes many valuable, value-priced gifts for church staff and volunteers. October is Clergy Appreciation Month in many churches. How will you honor those who serve you in Jesus’ name?

As we pray, Jesus invites us to do it “in his name.” In love, he shares his name, his authority with us, inviting us to use these as our very own:

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. John 14:13 

Our sins make us totally unworthy to enter heaven’s precincts, let alone to ask for anything there. If we presented our own personal credentials, the Throne Room would be inaccessible. Heaven’s suburbs and even the exurbs would be off-limits!

But we come in Jesus’ name, not our own. We come, forgiven at the cross and alive in his great Easter victory. And because of it, our prayers are truly heard and accepted.

Then our Savior invites us to serve – also “in his name,” carrying the credentials he has provided:

Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. Luke 9:48

Just think! Our hands and feet and voices become the channels through which Christ’s love flows.

Imagine That!

In a very real sense, we collaborate with Christ. He joins our prayers to his own. He uses our service to accomplish his purposes. No matter how insignificant, how unworthy, or how ill-equipped we may feel, we both pray and serve in Jesus’ name. Hang on to that truth. It’s life-changing!

Remember This

I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. John 17:9

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 15

Stop! Listen! Share! — Stop Light Chat Cards Help Families Share the Faith

All the experts agree. When parents share their faith in Jesus with their children, the conversation makes an impact. If you’re a children’s minister, DRE, DCE, or Sunday school volunteer, you know you want moms and kids, dads and kids, grandparents and kids talking about the faith.

What gets in the way?

  • Some parents don’t think they know enough.
  • Some families think of the process as too solemn, too formal, too foreign, and therefore, too embarrassing.
  • Some grownups just don’t know how to start.
  • The biggest roadblock of all, though, in most families is a lack of time.

Stop Light Chat Cards blow through each of those barriers. Colorful, fun, easy-to-use, and inexpensive, the Chat Cards pose simple questions designed to open meaningful conversations with kids of all ages–even on the way to school, music lessons, or soccer practice. Encourage parents to keep the Cards in the glove box or cup holder storage console. Then, when the family is stuck in traffic or headed to that out-of-town game, everyone can think, talk, laugh, and even pray together.

 

Editor’s note: Stop Light Chat Cards are one of the newest products in CTA’s Teachable Moments to Go product line. Learn more about it at our website.

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 14

Praying for My Pastor – protection & safety

During the four Tuesdays in October, Share will publish brief journaling ideas and prayer suggestions related to Clergy Appreciation Month. Use them as you support everyone on your church staff in prayer. Think, too, about additional ways to honor those who serve you and your faith community in Christ’s name. CTA has a number of products and several free ideas you may find helpful.

 As you begin, read Psalm 121:8.

Hospital calls. Home visits. Conferences. Meetings. Pastors are usually on the go. The car often functions as a second office, as pastors drive from place to place, fulfilling their calling as the Lord’s under-shepherds for your congregation and in your community.

Lord Jesus, today I pray for my pastor(s) as they travel, serving you and your people:

  • Guide them as they plan their day.
  • Send your holy angels to protect them wherever they go, especially as they drive.
  • Give them alertness and quick reflexes.
  • May they faithfully bring your Good News to many.
  • I pray especially …

Offer to do some running for your pastor. Perhaps you can pick up some congregational supplies or visit someone in the nursing home.

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

Oct 13

Heart-Shaping Prayers — a free devotion for this week’s meetings

heart-shaping-prayerThis week’s free devotion is slightly adapted from CTA’s new devotion book for Christian Workers, Shaping Hearts; Changing Lives: 30 Days to Grow in Service. It is available now, and the product line includes many valuable, value-priced gifts for church staff and volunteers. October is Clergy Appreciation Month in many churches. How will you honor those who serve you in Jesus’ name?

Suppose someone said, “Tell me about God’s callings in your life. How do you serve him?” How would you answer? (If time will permit, let a few volunteers comment.)

Some of us have taught Sunday school for decades. Others fold the monthly newsletter or visit members in the hospital each week. Some preach sermons or run the homework help desk for community high school students. Many volunteer at community events and most of us serve our co-workers on the job and the members of our own families at home.

The answers go on and on. There are, after all, a million ways to make a difference – a million important ways! Still, one specific calling belongs to all of us who belong to Jesus. We get to pray for those we serve, and those prayers may be the most important thing we do!

By themselves, our prayers have no power. But the one to whom we pray has all power! What’s more, he is our Savior-God, the one who loved us so much he died for us. He has promised to hear and help! What hearts will you ask heaven to touch on earth today?

Read This

Colossians 1:9-12 records the prayer Paul prayed for the Christians in the city of Colossae. Since the Holy Spirit inspired this prayer, don’t you think he intended to answer it?! Read Paul’s prayer. What specific requests could you borrow and use as you pray for those you serve? 

Remember This

When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

 

Oct 08

Becoming Significant in Your Community: Reaching Out Beyond the Church Doors

outside-the-church-doorsOne Saturday in October each year many folks in our community are out and about serving in an incredible mission blitz event. They provide a wide range of services for the community that include:

  • Completing home repairs for those in need.
  • Providing nursing home residents with a bag of personal items and lap robes, delivered by children who stay for a while to sing.
  • Cleaning up leaves and other debris at local parks, a cemetery, and in the yards of elderly residents who need help with fall yard work.
  • Helping at a recycling collection site.
  • Conducting a Winterize Your Car Check, where people can bring their vehicles for an assessment they can later share with their mechanic, Meanwhile, their windshield wiper fluid is topped off and their tires and batteries are checked.
  • Operating a free winter clothing and toy store.
  • Sorting and packaging food for local food banks, the food having been collected during a food drive conducted the previous week.

This event, initially hosted by one of our local churches, now includes other churches and organizations in our community, and it enjoys the support of local businesses. Over the past few years, it has grown into an opportunity to share Christ’s love not only with those we serve, but with others who volunteer as well. It’s an exciting, meaningful day of service!

What makes this event so successful?

  • Passionate, resourceful people work hard behind the scenes. They carefully consider all the details. They know how to delegate responsibilities.
  • The organizers understand the importance of advertising through many channels. They have developed a great logo, have adopted yellow t-shirts as signature volunteer wear, and visibly participate in our community’s September parade and festival in September.
  • They make good use of technology, providing details on a dedicated Facebook page and encouraging online volunteer registration.
  • They host an early morning kickoff celebration on the day of the event to help all the volunteers get enthused about serving for the day.
  • They provide many options and opportunities to serve. People of all ages and abilities can find a way to help before or during the event.
  • People are willing to serve because it is a one day commitment.
  • Each year, the organizers evaluate the event and consider changes that could help them reach out to even more people.

What about your community?

Could your church find ways to serve your community? You need not organize a huge Saturday mission blitz, but what part of the event you just read about might work in your setting? Start by gathering a few enthusiastic planners, pray together, and then begin to talk about how God might want to work through you if your goal was to touch people in your communities with Jesus’ love. What doors might your Lord open to joy and service?

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

 

 

Oct 07

Praying for My Pastor – health & strength

During the four Tuesdays in October, Share will publish brief journaling ideas and prayer suggestions related to Clergy Appreciation Month. Use them as you support everyone on your church staff in prayer. Think, too, about additional ways to honor those who serve you and your faith community in Christ’s name. CTA has a number of products and several free ideas you may find helpful.

 

As you begin, read 1 Corinthians 16:13.

A pastor’s physical well-being is a vital aspect of ministry. The demands and pressures of serving God’s people can challenge even the most physically fit pastors. If their stamina fails, pastors can find ministry a heavy burden.
Living God, source of all strength and support, I pray for my pastor(s):

  • Pour out your blessings of health and well-being.
  • Let your strength be their strength as they serve.
  • Support their ministry with the grace, power, and encouragement that come from you alone.
  • Keep sickness and pain and the assaults of the devil far from them.
  • Each day may they may find joy in sharing your love in Christ with everyone they meet.
  • In particular I pray for . . .

Volunteer to help at church with a task you can do well. The time and energy you save your pastor and the church staff may give them an opportunity to relax and renew both body and soul.

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

 

Oct 06

God, Our Creator – a free devotion for this week’s meetings

Creator-of-the-UniverseEditor’s note: This week’s free devotion includes a prayer/meditation written by faithful pastor Walter E. Schuette who has since gone to be with the Lord. We pray that his witness will encourage you for your own life of witness.

As you begin read Job 38:1–12.

 

Father, your creation overwhelms us. Majesty and power shout out from every corner of the universe! How humbling when we remember you called it all into being by simply speaking your Word. Your might and glory put all human wisdom and effort to shame.

Not only did you create all things, but by your power and in your love, you preserve them. You keep the universe running smoothly, the laws of nature working as you intended. Our minds boggled at the balance you maintain. Thank you for the beauty and order we see all around us.

The best thing you did for us was to send your Son, Jesus, to bring hope to a universe scarred by our sin. We praise you for all you have done for us in Jesus, who brought us back to you. Amen.

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

 

 

Oct 01

Customize Your Church Calendars for Fall — and through the year

And do it for free!

Yes, it’s a ploy. We want you to find all the many downloadables we offer–also for free. So check out the free calendar templates and spruce up your monthly newsletter. Each template comes complete with encouraging thoughts, Bible verses, prayer starters, and even a joke. But don’t worry. There’s plenty of space for you to add important events and news about your ministry.

Try October’s template and see how much time it can save you–or your busy secretary!

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc.

Sep 30

Sharing Jesus without Leaving the Subdivision

Editor’s note: This article appeared in CTA’s Grab N’ Go newsletter a few weeks ago. We didn’t want Sunday school teachers, Awana leaders, or catechists to miss the ideas, so we are reprinting it here. Let us know what you think. (And be sure to share your helpful ideas with us so we can pass them on! Just click on “Leave a Reply” below.) 

Frommer’s, a top name when it comes to travel guides, says that traffic is a nightmare in Atlanta. And boy, are they right! There are plenty of road rage and traffic headaches to go around. The average commuter spends 60 hours stuck in traffic each year. Traffic congestion is so bad that it’s become a problem for traditional children’s ministries where parents drop off the kids and return later to pick them up. Families stop going to these ministry events because the traffic is just too much to handle.

When Children’s Ministry Director Charessa Koontz started work one year ago at Christ the Shepherd Lutheran Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, she brought with her a new concept for outreach ministry—the conviction that the most powerful Christian outreach opportunities are located right in one’s own neighborhood.

“Everyone has a two-mile radius around them,” she says. “They know the people in the radius. They know how to serve them. We want to encourage people to put their fingerprint on a local person, a community, or a service project.”

Charessa utilized this concept in her previous ministry at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Richmond, Virginia. There, she had started a program that invited church members to use pledge cards to commit volunteer hours, just as they would if they were pledging a monetary donation. Her initial goal was to have each individual commit five hours of service and, according to Charessa, members “blew that number out of the water!”

“It’s not just about giving money to a cause,” she says. “It’s about using all of the resources that God has given to you.”

Charessa is excited to implement this type of volunteer program at her Atlanta church this fall. They have a handful of service opportunities planned. In addition, Charessa and the members at Christ the Shepherd are making a dedicated effort to reach neighborhood children at Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and on other holidays.

“Our members are going to buy Halloween candy and Valentine’s Day cards anyway,” comments Charessa. “So, why not provide something more meaningful at the holidays? Why not hand out something that’s going to have an impact?”

To do this, Charessa sets up a table at church and stocks it with activity books and small gifts from CTA. Church members are then invited to purchase the CTA items and hand them out instead of or alongside secular gifts. For example, this fall members passed out nearly 300 Who, Who Loves You? Gospel Fun Activity Books for younger children and 300 SHINE Activity Books for older kids on Halloween night.

All of Charessa’s efforts point back to her church’s vision: Up, In, and Out—reaching up to God, in to one another, and out to the world that God loves. Aside from individual members volunteering, she wants the church to live out this vision and be known for its devotion to Christ-like service.

“We want the church to work in its two-mile radius, too,” she says. “We want the church to be known as the place that loves and cares about the community. We want the neighborhood to know that our church is a place where they can come to ask for help with meeting their needs. When we show our appreciation for the people in our community and honor them, they notice—especially when it’s a church acting in such a secular world. We just want to be known by how we love and be a blessing to our community with service. If we do that, we can’t lose.”

What outreach opportunities are located in your two-mile radius? We encourage you to get started today! Carry in the groceries for your neighbor, read to a class at your local elementary school, or have morning coffee with nursing home residents. Whatever volunteer opportunity you choose, CTA provides Christ-centered resources so that you can share the Gospel story with others. Visit  our website to choose from our wide selection of devotional books, witness bracelets, bookmarks, and gift sets.

 

© 2014 CTA, Inc. 

 

 

 

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