“Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:22-25 (NRSV)

Why is it important for Christians to gather? Some people would say we need to gather to collect offerings, so the church can survive. Others may think that it is necessary to gather because church is the place where God can be worshiped by God’s people. I have heard also that when people miss church, they feel empty. We need to remember that Paul is writing for the first century church, which is not probably the same image we think about church today.

Churches back in that time were basically houses hosting a few people who gathered clandestinely to know more about this Jesus, the son of God. They were simultaneously surrounded by multiple gods lifted up by people who praised living kings and rulers from the empires.

Paul, once convicted about Jesus’ love, talks about the power of gathering, because by getting together, it gives identity to the people of God. Identity in love, compassion, grace, and favor. Identity that is marked by the faith. Faith in the one who came to give his life against all political systems imposed. Through Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, Paul was able to teach that a king is not the one who rules through oppression, but who loves with such power that it brings hope to those lacking of it.

Gathering on a regular basis helps us to build self-discipline, and while the discipline takes place, our souls are transformed gradually to become what God intents for us. How? Through gatherings we may see the reflection of our sinful nature in each other, and at the same time we may reflect the grace that God provides. As part of congregational formation, the transformation may occur to help us grow as individuals, as well as Body of Christ.

Now, the challenge that Paul brings us in this letter is to not only taking the image of gatherings in a place like our church, but also taking this personal and communal formation to other spheres of lives: home, work, friends, and enemies with the purpose to see “one another to love and good deeds.”  It liberates us, frees us, and reshapes us.

 Prayer: God almighty. Guide us to intentionally be open to your voice, so we can take the church -your church- with us wherever we go. Break the barriers of our minds, hearts, and souls, and change us in such a way that the transformation never ends. Please, forgive us for limiting your gatherings to one place. Merciful God, in your powerful son’s name, we pray. Amen.

Carlos Reyes
Infinite Grace Fellowship
Washington DC

Image“I believe that God has been working on me my whole life.  Every experience that I have had, both good and those that have been challenging, have led me to this point.  In Christ, I am a new creation that comes to the table with all of my past experiences and with my hope in Him for the future.  My prayer is that at Infinite Grace Fellowship, God would empower each of us to impact the lives of those in our community for the Kingdom of God and that the Good News would be spread far and wide both in word and in action to make disciples of Christ to then make more disciples of Christ.  We are going to be doing church differently and it is exciting!”

Christmas Invitation

Christmas Worship Invitation

CHURCH RULES

Submitted by Leshia Roberts Chandler

Church Rule #1: Anything inside your clothes that may move should be strapped down.

Church Rule #2: If reading is not fundamental at your house, avoid reading out loud during the service, unless asked to do so. 

Church Rule #3: If you can’t sing, don’t. The penalty is enhanced if you have a relative who is in a position to pressure anyone to give you the microphone.

Church Rule #4: Do not make origami animals out of dollar bills and put them in the offering.

Church Rule #5: If your hat is so big that you have to leave one of your kids at home so you can get it into your back seat, don’t wear it.

Church Rule #6: Breath Mints

Church Rule #7: If you get a speaking assignment, stay within the parameters of the assignment and SIT DOWN.

Church Rule #8: Clap on 2 & 4 Church Rule #9: If you quote a scripture, make sure you quote it in the right context. Also, make sure it’s actually in the Bible. Example: “God only helps those who help themselves” IS NOT a scripture.

Church Rule #10: If you invite someone on Friends Day, that is not the day for you to stay home. 

Church Rule #11: The use of racial slurs while encouraging the preacher is strictly prohibited. For example: “Preach, (racial slur)!” or “That (racial slur) sure can preach!” are not appropriate.

Church Rule #12: If church starts at 11:00 and you show up at 11:45, please don’t ask the ushers to see if they can get you 3 seats in the front.

Church Rule #13: It is acceptable to ask God to send you a mate, however, if that new brother or sister is married, that is a SURE SIGN that God did not send him or her to you.

Church Rule #14: They’re supposed to play the instruments when the preacher is preaching good. If you’re testifying, and they start playing softly while you’re speaking, that means you need to cut it short and sit down.

Church Rule #15: If your hand has been in contact with a body part or excretion that you wouldn’t want anyone to know it’s been in contact with, DO NOT stick your hand in the communion plate until you use some hand sanitizer.

Church Rule #16: Stop looking at that girl’s/woman’s behind when she walks around for the offering.

Church Rule #17: Try to have your offering prepared before service. It saves time, AND asking the deacons to make change from the collection plate is frowned upon.

Church Rule #18: If you attend a church where the preacher lays hands on people: 
1. Make sure there’s someone there to catch you if you are going to fall down;
2. Make sure you’re the one he or she is actually ministering to before you fall or whatever you do;
3. The church is not responsible for clothing that tears or rides up when you fall, nor is it responsible for any jewelry, wigs or extensions that become dislodged on impact; and
4. If available, video replay will be used to determine whether items were dislodged before or after impact.

Church Rule #19: No texting, tweeting, or posting on facebook. It is an affirmative defense to this rule if you can do it without being obvious AND you’re benefitting the service. For example, it’s okay if you’re texting one of the associate ministers on the front row to wake him or her up.

Church Rule #20: If your church observes Maundy Thursday, and they have foot-washing service, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE wash your feet AND put some lotion on them as close to service time as possible. BIG OL’ crusty, frito-smellin’ feet detract from the significance of the moment.

The list is not exclusive or comprehensive.

http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/08/the_logic_breathing_life_into_oreos_new_branding.html?referral=00563&cm_mmc=email-_-newsletter-_-daily_alert-_-alert_date&utm_source=newsletter_daily_alert&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alert_date

Dr. John R Compton was my first pastor and role model as a spiritual leader.  I wanted to acknowledge him during Black History month yet his legacy as a pastor and community leader extends beyond the confines of a one month celebration.

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Rev. John R. Compton, former president of the Cincinnati NAACP and the first African-American to serve on the governing board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), died April 19. He was 77.

Active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Rev. Mr. Compton was part of the march on Washington led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 and helped organize visits to Cleveland by King.

The Rev. Mr. Compton came to Cincinnati in 1948 to become pastor of the Wehrman Avenue Christian Church. Prior to that, he had served at a church in Palestine, Texas, after graduating from Jarvis Christian College there. During his 30 years as pastor at the Wehrman Avenue church, the growth of the congregation necessitated a move to a larger building. With the move came a new name – the United Christian Church.

After he left that assignment, the Rev. Mr. Compton provided leadership in the regional and national offices of the Christian Church. He was the first African-American to serve as regional minister (for the church in Indiana) and as president for a unit (the division of homeland ministries). He was administrator of the National Convocation of the Christian Church, and administrator of the reconciliation mission, the church’s race and poverty program.

He also served on the church’s 16-member general cabinet, wrote numerous articles for the church’s magazine and lectured at the Christian Theological Seminary.

After his retirement, the Rev. Mr. Compton served the Bond Hill Christian Church, overseeing the merger of that African-American church with the white Forest Park Christian Church. The resulting church is known as the Kemper Road Christian Church.

The Rev. Mr. Compton received awards from Jarvis Christian College, Cincinnati Community Action Now, the NAACP and honorary doctorates from Lynchburg College and the Christian Theological Seminary.

In 1988, he received the Liberation Award from the National Convocation of the Christian Church and was inducted into the Jarvis Christian College Hall of Fame in 1995.

The Rev. Mr. Compton was a member of the Walnut Hills Area Council board, Victory Neighborhood Services Agency and the Cincinnati Model Cities board.

I believe that there is a lack of understanding about what the Beloved Community is and how it should operate in the 21st Century. Who are the guardians of the dream or the transmitters of the vision? I believe that the Beloved Community is balanced between Chrisitan piety and social responsibility. The ultimate goal is justice for everyone.(Rawl’s Equality Principle) God’s call for us to be in relationship with God and people demands that we share this relationship that we expereince as love, grace and forgiveness so that everyone will expereince what we are/have expereinced. The Beloved Community embraced radical racial and class diversity, economic opportunity for all and justice for those who were oppressed. This is the core of the Beloved Community.

Is this a lost concept with middle/upper middle class Americans? Does the American middle class value working for justice and equality of all of God’s people or only those who are most like them? People who encountered the Beloved Community in the King framework were transformed. They believed that their individual happiness in life (Mill’s happiness Principle) was rooted in the community being whole and unified. (Dyke’s Community is greater than the individual principle) That is why there was a civil rights movement.

Proposition: The civil rights movement is dead. Now is the time for the Beloved Community to become a reality in the lives of Americans.

Thesis: The vision of a flourishing democratic society that President Obama has cast is embodied in the Beloved Community of Dr. King. Without the theological foundation of God’s grace that also seeks justice for all, the vision is incomplete.

Church Marketing: Do You Need a Brand?

Like many of the terms that come from the secular marketing arena, the term brand can leave a bad taste in the mouth of a ministry professional. And with good reason. In the secular world, after all, brand activity is often used as makeup, covering up real flaws in a product or company. However, like we’ve seen in previous articles, there are many times when crossovers from the secular marketing world have some application in ministry. This article outlines the concept of branding and what merit it may have within the context of a church—if any at all.

Our goal at SermonView is not to shoehorn the church into worldly marketing practices, but to redeem biblical principles that have been used in the mainstream marketing world. Our fundamental goal is to increase the effectiveness of church communication. Before we head down this road of branding let’s start with a reminder as to how we define church marketing:

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I know that this is a touchy subject for many pastors.  I have been asked should we “market the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”  The answer is no but wheter we like it or not, especially in the mainline denominations, we have to do a better job of answering the question, why does this church matter?  If it were gone tomorrow would anyone miss the ministry provided here?  What ministries at this church make a difference in the lives of the people that we serve?  This is what you market. This is your brand.

When you can not answer these questions you are lost in the catagory of “church” rather than First UMC where people’s lives are transformed in the celebrate recovery group.  or Second UMC where the youth group nurtures seeking youth as they make a coomiment to Christ.

The Burden of the Suburban Church – Bill Easum

Two other things caught my attention- when it rained hard the majority of homes on the West side of town flooded, and even though 75 percent of the city was Hispanic, all eleven city council members were Anglo. Neither of these conditions seemed right to me.

My last twenty-four years of local church ministry were spent in an up-and-coming suburban church. Like most suburbanites, many of my flock were into getting ahead, building fences around their homes, chauffeuring their children to this-and-that, and distancing themselves from the rift-raft of the world. . Most of the members were content with living lives isolated from the rest of the city and in many ways isolated from one another. I was 29 years old when I began my ministry in that church.

During those years I noticed several things about suburban Christianity and the city of San Antonio, TX. For one thing, suburban Christians thought salvation was something intensely personal and individual. It never dawned on them that biblical salvation is both individual and societal.

That all changed somewhere around my tenth year as pastor. I became involved in the Industrial Areas Foundation a community organizing effort of churches began by Saul Alinsky. Over the next decade I was to have the biggest learning experience of my life.

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This article gives great insight to the challenges and opportunities of suburban ministry.  Teaching personaly piety and societal responsibility demands a balanced approach to the scriptures and life that is often not present in many ministries.