Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future.
Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future.
“Do you like Nirvana?”
My friend’s sudden question snapped me out of my daydream. An hour-long bus ride home from school tended to make me oblivious to everything around me.
“What do you mean?” I asked, confused. She handed me a cassette of a new group. Curious, I popped in the tape and listened intently, the knobs in the clear cassette player turned, churning out note after glorious note.
Something happened that day that I’ve never forgotten.
I fell in love.
My friend changed my life in that instant. Kurt Cobain spoke to all the feelings of loneliness, depression, and inner angst I had wrestled with for many years. I discovered a piece of myself that day through the gift of music.
As I explored this new genre of alternative music, I tested out other bands in my cassette player. Bands like Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, and Primus screeched out their musical harmonies along with enough guitar reverb to shake my bedroom walls. They also awakened my soul. When I listened to them, I felt alive. The words and music resonated with me and helped me get in touch with feelings that lay deep within me.
Nirvana didn’t just change the way I listened to music; everything else changed too. I soon found myself walking down the hall decked out in Converse shoes and red plaid flannel shirts—identical to what my friends wore. Soon I was not myself anymore. I found myself belonging to something bigger than just the music—a whole way of life. Because I liked the same music as my friends, they soon invited me to parties and to sit with them at lunch. Soon I wanted to do what they were doing and go where they wanted to go.
Nirvana wasn’t just any band. They changed the face and future of music. Not only did it open me up to a new genre of music that allowed me to express all of the angst I held inside, but my self-concept changed as a result. Even though I didn’t like the grunge look that the new bands made popular, I wore it anyway because by changing the way I looked on the outside, I gained a wealth of new friends and opportunities for social interaction.
But I lost myself in the process.
That same year, I began dating my first boyfriend. Five months of puppy love turned sour one day as I got the dreaded phone call: “I think we should break up.”
My self-image crumbled, leaving me a big lump of insecurity. I wondered if I was worthy of love and if I would ever love again. That insecurity turned into crippling fear, which turned into full-blown panic attacks and bouts of depression. At the age of 16, I was a mess.
In my senior year, all of that changed. Questioning the role of God in my life and struggling with why I was put here on earth culminated in a one-time event where I got real with Him. I prayed that He would reveal Himself to me in a way radically different than anything I had experienced. When I finished praying, something was different.
Although I didn’t feel different, I began to see things around me differently. I didn’t worry so much about what others thought of me. I regained my confidence and saw myself again as a beautiful young woman of God. I learned to love myself again. I stopped worrying about what others thought of me and began to focus on how God saw me.
I was forever changed.
Because I was learning to love myself, I loved others too. It took time, but I began to see myself as God saw me: unconditionally loved and accepted.
Loving and accepting yourself is at the heart of your relationship with God. Through understanding God’s approval of you, you can discover your purpose, not only in the church, but also in the world.
Churches rely heavily on generous donations from their local community. These gifts of money, no matter how small they may be, can help keep the church afloat so that it can continue to preach the word of God and host a variety of other community events. Unfortunately, though, there are quite a few churches out there that struggle getting enough donations for them to make ends meet. Is this an issue at your local church? Here are a few ways you can inspire your local community to give more generously.
Increase The Congregation Size
One of the first things you might need to do is to consider how you could increase your church’s congregation. The more people who come to its weekly sermons will mean there are more people who could potentially donate. So, you just need to think of ways to encourage people to visit our church regularly. Once the size of the congregation has increased, you will find that there is more cash in the donation plate once it has been passed around everyone.
Get An App For Your Church
It’s worth thinking of some modern ways to try to get more people to donate as well. Some churches are now speaking to app developers who can create a mobile app for them that allows digital donations. Members of your congregation can download this app to keep up to date with the latest church news. If there is also an option to send a donation through the app, you should find that quite a few people may be tempted to do so.
Host Fundraising Events
If you’d rather stick to some traditional methods of fundraising, you might want to hold a fundraising event, like a church fair or coffee morning. This can be a great way to bring your congregation together and socialize, and you will also find that these events encourage people to be extremely generous. If you need to raise a fair bit of money, you might want to host a larger event like a charity dinner or auction of promises.
Set Up An Online Giving Page
If you liked the idea of creating a mobile app with a donation option, then you may also want to think about setting up a website dedicated to collecting donations. There are now lots of platforms, such as JustGiving, that give you the chance to sign up and make a profile for whatever cause you like. Alternatively, you can always make your own website.
Encourage Pastors To Preach About Generosity
One thing that can help boost the number of donations is preaching about the benefits of generosity. So, if you are a pastor, it could be worth adding a few words about this into your next sermon. If you are just a member of the congregation, why not discuss this with your pastor? If they know the advantages of preaching about generosity, they may be more inclined to do so.
Good luck trying to get more donations for your church!
Ten Ways to Love Your Pastor’s Wife This Valentine’s Day
If you have been a Christian for any length of time you have probably been a part of a church body, whether it is for a long or short period of time. If this is the case, you have probably been blessed by the presence of a pastor’s wife, even if you haven’t been directly impacted. Their behind the scenes sacrifices have touched your lives in more ways than you realize.
But many time pastor’s wives don’t take time for themselves because they can’t afford it or have bought into the lie that they shouldn’t take time out for themselves. Yet a pastor’s wife is often the backbone of the church, the glue that holds everything together. That means she needs to be healthy in all areas of her life so she can be well enough to care for everyone else that needs her attention. This Valentine’s Day take a moment to shoe her you love in her in a special way. Here are ten unique ways to demonstrate that love in a tangible way:
Pamper her- In today’s duel income society, most pastors’ wives have to work to help out with the household finances in addition to serving within the body. Because of this, they have to serves as though they are a paid employee of the church, stepping in to every and all programs that have a deficit in workers. She could use a day off. Give her a gift certificate to a local spa for a day of pampering. This is a way to give her some guilt free time to focus on recharging her batteries so she is not too burned out to help others within your congregation.
Volunteer for her- Pastors wives rarely get time off. With the exception if illness or a child’s activity, most pastor’s wives are expected to be present at every church service. They don’t get to pick and choose whether they attend that week’s service like every other church member. I addition, they often get to church early, as well as leave late. This can be a heavy burden, especially if they work on top of it. Give her some much needed time off by offering to fill in for her in one of her ministries. Offer to get there early, setting up snack, tuning on lights and heat as well as any other early morning responsibility. Sometimes the best gifts don’t come wrapped in packages; sometimes they come in the form of a morning to sleep in late.
Give her a vacation-most pastors and their families can’t afford vacations. Some don’t get paid commensurate with their education and experience like other vocations. They are sometimes asked to make sacrifices so the church can survive, sometimes at the expense of their own wallets. If you have been blessed with a vacation home, offer it to the pastor and his wife at little or no cost. What a weight to be lifted off of them when they can get away for the weekend to bond as a family or even work on their marriage.
Offer her friendship-Some of the best ways to express love is the gift of a listening ear or friendship. It is not always possible for pastor’s wives to make intimate friends with those within their fellowship. When tensions arise, she cannot divulge private information to church members. Find her a friend where she can feel comfortable venting or sharing her personal issues with an element of confidentiality. Having someone to go to with whom she can confide can do wonders for her physical, mental and social health.
Give her a gift basket- Gift baskets are a unique gift because it is an opportunity to demonstrate how well you know your pastor’s wife. Fill a basket full of goodies she enjoys. If you are not sure what she likes, fill it with items that show you care about her physically and mentally. Fill it with bath and shower gels, bubble baths to help her relax, popcorn kernels and free movie tickets if she likes the movies or books and snacks if she likes to escape through the pages of a good book. If all else fails, fill a basket full of chocolate. It gives her an excuse to indulge in something just for her (and give her permission not to share if she doesn’t want to.)
Write her a note-A month or so ago, I had a former church member interested in one of my books. When she sent payment, she enclosed it in a card. Inside the cards she had written: “10 ways I miss you in our church.” She then highlighted all the things she missed about my presence in church. As someone who hardly misses church, it is easy for me to feel what I do to serve is not noticed or appreciated. That note was one of the most thoughtful notes I have ever received. I pinned that note onto a bulletin board in my office for me to peruse when I am feeling down or having an off day.
A handwritten note goes a long way in this email and image driven world in which we live. Highlight the ways you appreciate her and the ways she serves behind the scenes within the church. Your thought to identify these subtle ways in which she blesses the church will mean more to her than she can articulate.
Make a scrapbook- take the above suggestion one step further and enlist the help of other church members to create a scrapbook full of pictures and notes of her along with church members. Chronicle all the places she has served. Include pictures of you hugging her and putting your arms around her. A picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes showing her she is loved provides more value than merely telling her.
Having said this, in one of my first church retreats, we had a free time where we were to write notes of encouragement to each other. As I went through reading them, I was personally touched by how I impacted lives without even realizing it (as well as reminded about words I had said or actions I had taken that I didn’t even remember.)
Create a skit- Some churches still use the creative arts to get a point across. This may include skits or plays performed in front of the church. Instead of the usual Christmas play or Easter cantata, think outside the box and create a play demonstrating love for your pastor’s wives. Get other volunteers to help write the screen play as well as to perform each scene. Write a story making the pastor’s wife as the main character. Aloe the church to help her solve a need in her life, or creatively show they care. In the same way a handwritten note is valuable, this will also go a long way. The fact you took it upon yourselves to demonstrate your love for her will live on in her memories for years to come and bless her life in many of the same ways she has blessed yours.
Sing her a song- If your church has a choir that sings during the service on a regular basis, write a song (or find one on the Internet) that expresses how you feel about her. Invest some time teaching it to your choir or worship team and have them surprise her with it during one of the services (particularly one that she doesn’t miss due to serving in other areas of the church). She will love you took time to honor her publicly, and she will be blessed that other members volunteered to help you pull it off.
Have a surprise party- when all else fails, have a party! Churches don’t often take the time to honor their cherished staff, and when they do, they are at the expected times like Christmas or Pastor Appreciation Month. But wouldn’t it be nice to surprise your pastor’s wife with a party in her honor. Decorate the fellowship hall or sanctuary or have it at her home if she is more private.) Get a cake, give her gifts, pretend like it is a special occasion. When she asks the reason for the celebration say, “it is honor our pastor’s wife day!” Because, let’s be real, do we ever need an excuse to eat cake and have a good laugh?
Life is short. So many people live with regrets of not telling the treasured people in their lives how they really feel. Let 2019 be the year you change all that. Start with your pastor’s wife. If she has made a difference in your life, whether big or small, demonstrate how much you care by implementing one of the above suggestions. Blessing your pastors’ wife’s life may, in turn, bless yours.
If you want your church to thrive and grow, you need the congregation to grow. And the way you achieve this is by making sure you get the message out there. This means letting people know about your church, where it is, and what they can do to be involved with it. Promoting and advertising your church these days is probably slightly different to how it would have been back in the day.
In fact, the world has changed a lot, and it is important that you do as much as possible to improve the way you promote the church. This will have to be done on a social level, as well as on a business level. There are so many things you need to keep in mind if you want to sort this out, and it is important that you share these ideas that will help you to achieve this.
Be More Active in the Community
One of the best ways of getting the word out there is to do as much as possible to be more active in the local community. This is a great way of generating positive attention for the church, as well as being able to do some good in the local community. There are so many benefits to this approach, and it is essential that you get this right as much as you can. Focus on doing as much as possible to enhance and improve the way you make the presence of the church felt in the local community. Having the chance to do some good and make a real difference in people’s lives moving forward is crucial.
Create a Snazzy Website
Do as much as you can to create an appealing and professional website. You have to keep in mind the fact that there are so many more opportunities for promoting the church online these days than ever before. Back in the day advertising would have been much more basic, and expensive. Whereas these days it is clear that Christian web hosting services can play a massive role in allowing you to promote the church more thoroughly. This is definitely something you need to keep in mind when you are looking at the best ways of creating and developing ways of promoting and advertising the church in a more cost-effective way.
Throw Charitable Events
There are a lot of things you can do to get the word out there and generate interest in your business. And one of the best ways of doing this is to make sure you throw charitable events, and that you do your part for the local community. There are so many things you have got to make sure you focus on when it comes to throwing charitable events and embracing God’s mission for you and your church. And this is something you need to do well if you are serious about getting the word out about the church and trying to make a difference.
These are just a few of the best ideas you can use to help you improve the way you promote and advertise your church. There are so many different things that can play a role in this, and it’s important to look at what you can do to bring more people to the congregation. Spreading the word, and making people aware of what the church can offer them, and why it is an attractive choice.
Non-religious people have a hard time understanding how anyone can have faith in God when their life becomes challenging. How can you put all your belief and trust in someone when everything around you is falling to pieces, and life gets tougher and tougher? It’s something that many people of faith also struggle with during their darkest hours. It’s easy to give up your hope when times get tough, but you should always keep believing.
If you’re currently going through a hard time, and feel like your faith might be fading away, then this post will be of service to you. I’ll give you some advice that will help you keep your faith even when life is a struggle.
Reach out to help centers
You may be unaware of this, but there are numerous Christian help centers out there that are designed to assist people in tricky situations. Regardless of how hard your life is, you can always pop into one and have a chat with the people there. The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is one of the most prominent help centers out there for anyone in need. It really benefits you to talk to other people of faith and get the support you need. If you have a look online, you’ll find all the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God locations near you. Reach out to help centers like this if you’re having a tough time and just need to unload some of your emotions and feelings onto someone else. Everyone is always very welcoming, and they’ll help you keep your faith in God even when it feels like everything is going against you.
Read a daily devotionalI find daily devotionals are an excellent way to stay in touch with God every single day. Various organizations create and release little devotional booklets with a special thing for you to read every morning when you wake up. It helps to bring God’s teachings to you in a more relevant way by combining Bible verses with real-life situations. Usually, you get given little tasks to complete as well, which helps keep you in-tune with your faith. Reading a devotional when you wake up is the perfect way to maintain a positive mindset every morning.
Make a list of everything you’re thankful forIt’s so easy to let the negative things in your life cloud everything else. As such, you neglect all the positive aspects of your life that you’re incredibly thankful for. My idea is to make a list of everything in your life that makes you happy or puts a smile on your face. I’m talking about family, friends, the church, your job, your health - anything and everything you can think of. This shows you that life might be tough, but God has still given you so many things to be thankful for.
At the end of the day, everything happens for a reason. It might not seem like it at the time, but God has a plan for everyone. The important thing is to keep your faith even when it feels like the world is against you. This is one of the most significant tests God will ever give you. So, prove to him you have the faith!
Many people with faith in their lives ask themselves how they are supposed to keep faith in God while waiting on their prayers to be answered. Well, it’s not until we begin to grow up that we learn to wait on His timing, rather than becoming impatient that His answers aren’t immediately available to us. The big question of whether we deserve answers from God isn’t the what most people worry about. It’s whether they will get any answers at all.
God can see a bigger picture over our lives than we can. Everything that we do and say are all perfectly designed and balanced to the end, and a big part of His plan includes working through our prayers. When you have billions of people all praying out for God, your prayer requests become part of the queue. Asking those around you; Sisters, the community, your church body and your family to pray for you can help to strengthen your prayers with God, but if you are unsure whether God is listening, you need not worry. We pray hard, and we want Him to hear us, and He promised over and over to hear His children - you are one of those children. God is listening and while we wait for God to answer our prayers, we must be patient and keep as faithful as possible to Him.
We don’t deserve to know the reasons behind His choices. We are His children, but we don’t get the privilege of understanding His plan or the reasons behind his decisions. When you sit and you wonder “why me?” you need to flip your thinking and think instead “why not me?”. When something isn’t going your way, you have to wonder why you don’t get to know the answers, but the only one who deserves any clarity immediately is God. He is the one who decides when and how to answer our prayers. While we wait for our answers, we must be patient and take stock of the blessings that we do have while waiting for the things that we want the most.
We are very lucky to be living in this world, even when it seems like life isn’t particularly fair. Keeping a prayer journal with the dates of the prayers made can help you to look back and see when God heard you. What we want always comes to us in time, when we are ready - and only God knows when we are ready to receive His blessing. Remember the scripture from Jeremiah 29:11? It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has promised you the hopeful future, all you have to do is take your faith and put it in his hands, and he will deliver us.
Pray hard, but never expect the answer. Be grateful and wait, and God will respond in time.
At the start of a new year, we all want to be better. Some people will want to go on a diet and get in shape, others will want to work on their careers. But then there are the kinds of goals that kind of fit in anyway - like your hobbies. And this can certainly apply to your blog. Maybe you do blog for work or you want to turn it into a career? Then this could definitely be the year that you take things to the next level. When you want to do that, you need to make sure that you’re being as professional as you possibly can be. And when it comes to blogging on a more serious level, you do need to work a little harder to make your efforts more polished. Let’s look at a few ways you can do this.
Refine Your Web Design
First of all, if you don’t have a clear and professional looking blog, then this is where you’re going to start. Take a look online for a template you can use that will look the part. Or, you could even hire a web design to create something custom for you.
Create A Content Calendar
Next, if you want to feel more professional, then you need to plan. Planning your content in advance is a great way to make sure that you are on top of your game. And this is where having a content calendar comes in. If you’re not sure what that is, take a look at https://blog.hootsuite.com/ on how to create one. By doing so, you are going to be able to plan in relevant content and get it scheduled so that you never run out of ideas.
Stick To Branding
Then, the next thing that you’re going to want to do is make sure that you are branding everything you do. If you are changing fonts and colors on everything, then it’s not going to be branded, it will just look messy. It’s the same for any documents you create. You should make sure that you have templates, like https://www.templafy.com/ provides, to make this easier. The more consistent your branding is, the more professional you will look.
It’s also a good idea to start networking. Because this is a great way to get your name out there. Also, you may find that you meet people that can open doors for you and your blog in the future. And what could be better than that?
Be More Consistent
And then finally, if you want to feel more professional with your blog, then you need to have a schedule for yourself. This means that you’re going to want to come up with working hours. If you treat your blog like a job, and you put in the work, it will start to pay off. So make sure that you allocate consistent time each day to work on your blog. After all, the more work you put in over a shorter space of time, the quicker it is going to pay off.
“That’s not how we’ve done it in the past,” a church member retorted when asked to participate in a new ministry program. “We can just do it like we’ve always done it.” This is an all too familiar response when it comes to church ministry. Change can be downright scary. I myself am a type-A, high- strung personality and like to have everything planned out when it comes to something new. However, I also know that any ministry needs to embrace change in order to adapt to the changing needs of the people they strive to serve.
Change is inevitable. Nothing stays the same forever. As cultures change, churches change, too. Instead of fearing it, churches would benefit from creating strategies to deal with the change effectively so ministries don’t just survive, but also thrive.
In the book Who Moved My Cheese? Author Spencer Johnson lists four different types of ways of dealing with change. The cheese, their source of food, has been moved to a different location. The four mice: Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw, have to deal with how they choose to find this new location. Each mouse deals with the change differently. Sniff detects change early and adjusts his life around the impending change. Scurry, upon discovering change, plans and prepares for it. He may not know change is coming, but when he does, he embraces it and tries to find alternative ways to find the cheese. As he waits, he wastes away, missing out on the place of solace change might have brought him. Haw at first stays with Hem and also complains about the cheese being moved to another location. Once he begins to feel the ill effects of not having cheese (his rumbling stomach and weakening frame) he decides to go looking for the cheese. Once he successfully finds it, he basks in the realization that change is not as bad as he once thought. 1
How do you deal with change? Do you embrace it, or do you fear it, dragging your heels at the very thought of it? Change can benefit all involved if leaders embrace it and plan for it instead of running from it.
The idea of change makes me shudder. If it is not broken, don’t fix it, right? Yet change is necessary. It prevents a ministry’s direction from becoming stagnant. It allows growth and freedom. When you look at your ministry as a whole, change can be a great benefit. Churches have to learn to deal with change if they want to move forward with their vision. Some churches may fear change, yet if the dynamics of ministry don’t change to suit members’ needs and new members don’t get connected, a once growing ministry will die.
If you have someone in your church on the cusp of change, here are five ways you can deal with it effectively:
Create a clear vision- it is not enough to know how a ministry will function now, but what does the leader want the ministry to accomplish in one year? Five years? Help members see where the ministry is headed, so they can decide if it is still a viable ministry for them. The biggest companies today all have vision and mission statements. If a church is poised for numeric growth, it has an overall vision and specific steps as to how to get there. If you don’t know what that vision and mission is, ask the pastor or a member of the staff. Equipped with that information, reframe your ministry as to how it fits under the umbrella of your church ‘s mission and vision. This will achieve unity and give it a unique purpose within the church as a whole rather than a side ministry irrelevant to the church’s function.
Create a plan together- Instead of leaving your church member with no direction help her mark out a clear plan of what the future of the new ministry will look like. Get important ministry heads together, and brainstorm ways to change that will preserve the goals of the old ministry but run it in a way that will reach the most people at one time. Get out a whiteboard and first identify the purpose and goal of the ministry. Then talk about ways that ministry seeks to meet the needs of its participants. Sometimes it means the format (or how that ministry operates) needs to change. In other cases, it may need to be scrapped altogether. This will take courage to scrap unnecessary ministries, but in the end, like a gardener prunes dead branches, this will leave room for the live branches to flourish. This will help her know how to move the ministry forwards, not backwards.
Help them process loss- Behind a member’s fear of change is fear that they will have nothing to offer the new ministry. Furthermore, a ministry head may fear not having a place to be needed even more. This fear, if not held accountable, may cause grumbling and gossip that when sown into listening ears, leads to dissension. Nip fear in the bud as soon as you can. Have a frank conversation with ministry heads whose ministries are no longer effective. Help them process their grief. Encourage them to redefine their role as a leader and help her discover how their unique gifts will enhance the ministry as a whole. Encourage them by letting them know that you appreciate their work up until this point. Help them redirect their focus in a positive way, not criticizing the ministry’s ineffectiveness, but use it as an opportunity to reach a new generation of church members. Remind them that their work helps to bring forth God’s kingdom here on earth.
Reproduce new leaders- Jesus began his ministry training leaders. He pinpointed the twelve disciples as those whom he could train and show them how to accomplish his Father’s work, hoping they would eventually replicate other leaders themselves. Help him/her to identify someone within the ministry as a potential new leader. Encourage her to mentor the other person and train them into helping them lead the ministry in the event of illness or unexpected absence. Mentorship may take on several forms, based on schedules and the amount of free time available. Encourage mentors and mentees to remain consistent, meeting regularly. Purchase a book that will help equip mentees to lead ministries. Have each person work how the frequency and duration of mentorship. Help him/her utilize his/her gift of leadership to create more leaders. It will not only benefit the other ministries, but the church as a whole.
Celebrate the unveiling- Communication is imperative at this point. Church members who fear change may be wondering what is happening. To help them ease into a new transition, have elders or other established leaders communicate changes at vital points throughout the transition. Encourage them to communicate it in a positive way so people are not conditioned to fear change. Help them to be an advocate for change, rather than someone who rallies members to buck against change. Once a new vision and mission are established, celebrate it. Put in on bulletins and other banners as a way for people to memorize the new vision and mission. Challenge them to pass out business cards and other advertisements to people in their community so everyone can be on board with it. This will create an overall sentiment of excitement and possibility of people coming to faith because everyone is in agreement about the church, where it is headed and where it is going.
Change is inevitable. We can choose to have a wrong perspective and ignore or fear it. But with the right perspective, change can enhance your relationship with God and allow your ministry to flourish.
1 Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese? (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1998).
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