February 8,  2018
God's Higher Purpose
By: Max Lucado

No moment, event, or detail falls outside of God's supervision. God is the one who "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous"  (Matthew 5:45 NIV). He isn't making up this plan as he goes along.  Daniel 5:21 says, "The most High God rules the kingdom of men, and sets over it whom he will."

So, if God is in charge, why does he permit challenges to come our way? Wouldn't an almighty God prevent them? Not if they serve his higher purpose. The ultimate example is the death of Christ on the cross! Everyone thought the life of Jesus was over. Jesus was dead and buried, but God raised him from the dead. God took the crucifixion of Friday and turned it into the celebration of Sunday. Can he not do a reversal for you?

Pray for Your Pastor
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Explore the main texts in all four Gospels and in Paul's writings that deal specifically with the last week of Jesus' life and with the resurrection.
Every one of the four Gospel writers has a reason for writing. Each wants his audience to come to see who Jesus Christ is and what God is doing in and through him.
For this study, Paul is also crucial. He is the first of the New Testament writers to mention the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. All of his work predates any of the four Gospels. Paul is the only writer that we know for certain was a witness of the resurrected Christ so he has a special place in the discussion of Holy Week and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Turnaround Strategies For Christ's Church
by Tom Ehrich
Publisher, Writer, Church Consultant

As I consult with Presbyterian congregations, the same scenario keeps recurring: In 1966 the church was full; today, after five decades of relentless decline, the pews feel empty. 

This scenario is painful for church leaders. They feel guilt, shame, frustration and fear. They wonder who is to blame. Is  here any future for their beloved church? 

The good news is this: There are "turnaround strategies" that a church can pursue. The hard news is this: Those strategies will change everything-not because what we're doing is all wrong, but because the world has changed and God needs different ministries from us.

In other words, working with God to find a new future for the Presbyterian Church won't be easy or comfortable, nor, in the absence of bold and self sacrificial leadership, will a better future even be possible. 

Here, briefly, are nine turnaround strategies I have identified. 

Overcome Invisibility:  We know what street corner our church occupies, but we have become invisible to the community at large. That community (our mission field and source of future members) isn't opposed to us - They just don't know we exist. Our response should be aggressive marketing, use of powerful digital and web tools, to speak in language people beyond our walls can hear and to answer the questions they are asking.

Look Outward: We keep having the same internal conversations. People out there are different from us: more ethnically diverse, younger, not as prosperous, living in ways different from our ways. We cannot possibly serve this larger community unless we see and care for them as they are.

Outcome-based decision-making: No more nostalgia, no more magical thinking, no more pretending. See the data, see the trends, see reality-and then make a solemn vow that we will measure what we do and pay attention to whether it works. 

Fresh Leadership: Strong pastors working with strong laity, with neither cadre trying to control the other. We need younger and newer leaders.

Rethink Affiliation: Move beyond Sunday morning worship as the primary marker of affiliation and, this, as the primary focus of funding and effort. Work on relationships, such as those formed in small groups. Go deep with people.

Rethink Stewardship: Adopt the biblical practice of harvest giving, and stop asking people for charity giving aimed at funding the church budget. 

Communications that Work: No more monthly paper. Instead, use the modern technology to reach people. No more rehashing church news and church controversies. Convey faith with personal stories and words that inspire. 

Stop the power struggles: Our conflicts are killing us. Control battles paralyze us. 

Focus on young adults: Reach a world whose average ages is 25, whereas our congregation's average age is over 60. Younger generations aren't like us. We need to serve them as they are, not as we remember being.

These strategies are eminently doable. But they would mean change. Is our will to thrive and serve stronger than our fear of change?

Keep Thinking...

"Do not ask God to guide your steps if you are unwilling to move your feet."

Pictures Around the Presbytery
Homestead Presbytery would like to encourage everyone to send photos from your church's events to  
hpoffice@homesteadpres.org We would LOVE to 
feature all the awesome things you are all doing!