Friday, June 23, 2017

Small Town Church Planting

“I love church planting, but the big city makes me nervous.” That was what a pastor recently told me as we sat together at dinner. He serves a well-established traditional Southern Baptist church in the Bible Belt. But he had heard about the great need in the North for new churches and wanted to be involved. He had spent several days in one of the largest cities in our region but just knew in his spirit that serving there was not something he or his church would be comfortable doing. He wanted to know if we had other options in New England, especially ones in small towns. I was happy to share with him numerous examples of small towns across our region that need new churches.
Our national denomination is currently focused on reaching 32 of the largest cities across our nation. This is a focus I support because the spiritual lostness in those cities cries out for the Gospel to be revealed to them. But not everyone is called to plant a church in a city. Thankfully, there are many other options for those who are not called to the city. Nearly half of America’s population lives in small towns, and many of those towns also need a gospel preaching church planted. In our quest to reach the city, we must not forget the small places.
Jim Egli, Leadership Pastor at the Vineyard Church of Urbana, Ill., has identified a number of reasons to plant a church in a small town. He points out that it is easier to get people’s attention in small towns, whereas in big cities it is hard for a new church to get noticed. He also points out that it is easier to reach families and networks in small towns because people’s lives are more interconnected. Egli says “When someone comes to Christ in a small town this often influences an expanding number of people because of how closely people are tied to one another.” From the practical perspective, Egli points out that it is often cheaper to plant a church in a small town because real estate prices are so much less than in many urban areas. I am thankful for Jim’s insights. Take a moment to read his full article
But without question, the two strongest reasons to plant a church in a small town are that people in those places need Christ and Christ has called us to go to them. Though demographics make it clear that our nation’s urban areas are growing faster than many less populated places, those who still live in out-of-the-way corners of our land need Jesus just as much as the young man at the coffee shop in a gentrified urban area. Let each of us examine our own hearts and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and then respond by either planting, or helping to plant, a church in a town where God has called us, regardless of its size.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Importance of Fatherhood

History of Father's Day

Father's Day was first suggested by Sonora Dodd in 1910 in Spokane, Washington. Her father raised her alone because her mother had died when she was young. When others were celebrating Mother's Day, she could not take part since she did not have a mother. She wanted a similar event to honor fathers so she could express her deep love to the father who worked so hard to raise her alone. She originally planned to celebrate the day on June 6 but the ministers in town who had agreed to help her with the project needed extra time to prepare special Father's Day sermons so they selected the 3rd Sunday of June. We still celebrate Father's Day on the third Sunday of June each year. Mrs. Dodd died in 1978 but was pleased that Father's Day had become a national celebration before her death.

Modern fatherhood is in trouble.
  • The American family is falling apart.
  • The divorce rate is approaching 50%
  • 1/3 of all children in the U.S. live in homes without a father
  • A growing number of children have no meaningful relationship with their father at all
  • Children, especially boys, who do not have a good male role model have a higher risk for engaging in a number of self-destructive behaviors.
  • The breakdown of the American family and the collapse of fatherhood in our culture carries over into the spiritual realm as well.
  • Children, especially boys, who live in a home where the father does not attend church, are significantly less likely to attend church themselves as adults.
  • Children who did not bond well with their earthly father have significantly more difficulty accepting the concept of a loving Heavenly Father.
  • Children abused by a male have almost overwhelming difficulties accepting the love of a Heavenly Father.
  • As difficult as it may be for some to accept, there is a Heavenly Father who does care about us and has a wonderful plan for our lives.

     
Psalm 40:5 - LORD my God, You have done many things— Your wonderful works and Your plans for us; none can compare with You. If I were to report and speak of them, they are more than can be told.
  • Our earthly father may not have been all that we wanted him to be, but our Heavenly Father has big plans for us.
  • We may wonder where God is when we go through difficult times in life.
  • God is working behind the scenes in unexpected ways.
  • It is often hard to see God at work in the midst of our pain, but He is there and He is working.
  • When we look back later, we often see His hand more clearly than when we were going through the experience itself.

     
John 1:12-13 - But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
  • Though all people are God's children in a general sense, some people have trusted Christ as Savior and developed a personal relationship with God.
  • The people who develop this relationship are REALLY the children of God.
  • Those who receive God as Father are given the RIGHT to be called his children.
  • Though God wants everyone to accept His fatherhood, many will reject Him.
  • We accept the fatherhood of God through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ.
  • Those who receive His fatherhood become his special children and discover a relationship with the ultimate father figure in the universe.
  • Regardless of our relationship with our earthly father, God wants to fill the void in our lives as our Heavenly Father.
  • We may feel that we are unworthy to be one of God's special children.
  • Notice the passage says that we become His children because He desires it, not because we deserve it.
  • God looked at all the billions of people on this planet and chose us to have a personal relationship with.
  • Because God chose us, He did something inside of us to open our hearts and minds so we can come to know Him.
  • Have we responded to the call of God and embraced Him as our Heavenly Father?
  • If not, we should make Him our Father on this Father's Day by repenting of our sins and placing our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

     
Joshua 1:8 - This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.
  • It is God's desire for us to prosper and succeed in everything we do.
  • God says that if we study the Bible and carefully follow its instructions for life, then we will have a prosperous and successful future.
  • Numerous researchers have shown that following biblical principles leads to a more successful life.
  • Scientists have now proven that prayer speeds healing after surgery and during treatments for cancer.
  • Financial planners agree that following the principles of saving and generosity found in the Bible are good financial advice.
  • There are a number of "healthy diets" on the market that are derived from Biblical principles.
  • A number of relationship gurus draw their advice from the Bible.
  • A Christian businessmen's group has proven that applying Christian principles to business increases profits.
  • This does not mean that we will never have struggles or difficulties in life.
  • It means that God will work through our struggles and difficulties to turn them into opportunities for prosperity and success.

     
Galatians 3:8 - Now the Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and foretold the good news to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed in you.

 
  • God looked down through time and could see how Abraham's family would be a blessing to the world.
  • God knew that Jesus would come from Abraham's family.
  • Jesus Christ has changed the world.
  • Just was God knew Abraham's future, God knew that WE would come to faith in Christ.
  • God has a part for US to play in making the world a better place.
  • God has some unique BIG thing that He wants each of us to accomplish in our lives.
  • Are we working with God to make the world a better place or working against Him?
  • Are we willing to step outside our comfort zone and let God use us to change the world?


    Conclusion:
    • Though fatherhood in America may be in trouble, God has a plan for each of us that is bigger than all the statistics and difficulties facing fatherhood in our society.
    • God's plan includes us becoming His special children through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.
    • God's plan includes helping us have a prosperous and successful life as we put His Word into practice in our lives.
    • God's plan includes helping us make the world a better place as we each accomplish some unique thing that only we can do.
    • We must decide if we are willing to accept God's plan and work with it or if we want to fight against God's plan.
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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Top 10 Reasons People Don’t Tithe - Guest Post by Charles Stone

Tithing is a spiritual discipline many Christians practice. In its simplest form it means giving back to God 10% of what you make. I’ve practiced it for years as a regular part of my giving. I tithe ‘plus’ to my local church and I give to other causes on top of that. However, throughout my 35 years of ministry I’ve seen 10 common reasons that church people give for not tithing. I list them below with a counter point below each.

  1. It’s all mine anyway. Why should I give?
    • Counter-point (CP): Everything we own is actually God’s (Ps 50.10, Ps 24.1).
  2. I give elsewhere. This is the person who counts his giving to secular causes, his time, or paying for his child’s Christian school tuition as his tithe.
    • CP: Do causes around the purposes of God get the lion’s share of your giving?
  3. Tithing is not in the New Testament. This is one of the most common.
    • CP: When Jesus fulfilled the law, He didn’t revise spirituality downward.
  4. God will provide through other people. This person believes that other people will give to support the cause of Christ in their church.
    • CP: God chose to release His resources through all believers.
  5. My gifts don’t really count. This person thinks that because he can’t give much, his giving really doesn’t matter.
    • CP: Don’t minimize the size of any gift (recall the story of the poor widow in Mark 12.41-44).
  6. I don’t trust preachers. This is understandable due to the few high profile ministers who misuse God’s money.
    • CP: If you lead a church, make sure you instill the highest standards of stewardship and accountability.
  7. I only give to projects I like. This is the control freak who only gives to projects he or she can designate funds to. Some people in this category even hold back their giving in their church because they haven’t gotten their way.
    • CP: Trust your church leadership to wisely manage God’s money.
  8. I have no control over my financesMy husband does. In this case (and it’s almost always a wife in this position) her husband controls the finances and although the wife wants to give, he prohibits it.
    • CP: Rest in the Lord, He knows your heart.
  9. I will tithe when I can afford it.
  10. I’m afraid to. These people honestly fear what might happen to them or their family if they give.
    • CP: Step out in faith knowing that God promises to meet your needs.
What reasons have you heard people use to justify not giving or tithing?
This article was originally posted at http://charlesstone.com/top-10-reasons-people-dont-tithe/#comment-3352190597   and is used with permission.
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Charles and his wife Sherryl have a heart for pastors and pastors’ wives. They have taught hundreds of pastors and their wives in the United States, Canada, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, Cuba, and Mexico. Charles is the author of 4 books – Daughters Gone Wild – Dads Gone Crazy (W Publishing/Thomas Nelson, 2007), 5 Ministry Killers and How to Defeat Them (Bethany House, 2010), People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership (Inter-Varsity Press, January 2014), and my newest book, Brain-Savvy Leadership: the Science of Significant Ministry (Abingdon, 2015).

Friday, June 9, 2017

Will Christians Be Allowed to Hold Public Office in America? - Guest Post by Rev. Tim Counts

This letter was written by Rev. Tim Counts, Pastor of Northshire Baptist Church, Manchester Center, Vermont, in light of the outrageous and unconstitutional assertion by Senator Bernie Sanders that individuals who hold to a Christian world view are unfit for pubic office. It originally appeared on Rev. Counts' blog, He Must Become Greater, and is used by permission. 

Dear Senator Sanders,
I am a pastor in Manchester Center, Vermont, so I am one of your constituents. And I am concerned. You and I both know that Vermont has added to the rich history of religious freedom in our great country. I live 25 minutes from the Old First Church in Bennington, where the following plaque is placed on the side of the historic church building: “First Church in Vermont dedicated to separation of church and state. Congregation founded by those seeking religious freedom.” As you probably know, First Church was “gathered” on December 3, 1762, the first Protestant congregation in the New Hampshire Grants. They were “separatists,” believing that the government should neither establish nor restrict religious freedom. They were seeking religious freedom, not freedom from religion.
Your actions towards and comments to Russell Vought during his confirmation hearing for deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget endanger our rich history of religious freedom as both a state and a country.
Here is why I am concerned, and here is why I write you today: not only because I believe you violated Article VI of the United States Constitution in imposing a religious test as a litmus test for somebody’s fitness to hold a government office, but also because you then released this statement yesterday: “racism and bigotry—condemning an entire group of people because of their faith—cannot be part of any public policy.”
As I have read your comments towards Mr. Vought and watched the video of your interaction, I am astounded at how quickly you have tied together personal faith that Jesus is the only Savior with an individual’s public policy. As Mr. Vought tried to express but was interrupted, Christians believe that all people are made in the image of God and thus should be treated with dignity and respect, even while we hold to Jesus’ statements such as, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
We do not have to be Universalists theologically to be able to hold public office nor to be good citizens in the Green Mountain State or in the United States of America. I believe that the founders of First Church would have been shocked at your statements as they were leaving a government that told them what they could and could not believe. We have reverted back to a government that has a religious test, but rather than church membership allowing entrance into government office, it is now philosophical membership in secularism that holds the keys.
I ask you to clarify and clearly articulate whether or not you truly believe that a Christian who believes that Jesus is the only way to salvation can no longer hold public office in this country. Are you saying that citizens who are not atheists, agnostics, or Universalists cannot serve as government officials? As you have been reminded already since Wednesday, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution declares, “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
Evangelical Christians who hold to salvation in Christ alone may be a minority in our great state, but we are not racists or bigots, and our elected Senators should not make such broad-brush and intolerant statements.
I will continue to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, which means the “good news” of Jesus Christ. It is a message of reconciliation to God and fellow man. It is good news that we offer to all people who will listen: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) It is a message that says that although our sin condemns us before the holy God, that Jesus took our condemnation on the cross and rose from the dead so that believers in him will never stand condemned (Romans 8:1). And if somebody really believes that message, they will embrace Jesus not only for salvation but also to help them live a life of service and love to others. Jesus himself said that all of the commandments are summed up in love for God and love for others (Matthew 22:36-40).
I will not only continue to preach that message, I will continue to pray that those of us who believe in this good news will be allowed to serve in public office; not promoted because of our faith but also not prohibited from service because of our faith. I am writing to you today not because you are telling me I cannot preach this message, but because you are telling me that those I preach this message to are “hateful” not because of their actions, but because of their faith.
As a Vermont pastor, I ask my country for freedom to not only preach the gospel–but also for freedom for those I preach to–to hold their religious beliefs while also holding public office. If you return to our roots of religious freedom as a state and as a nation, the religious tests will stop. And you may find that those you classify as racists and bigots today not only believe that Jesus is the only way to personal salvation, but also that His way is a way of love that treats all persons with the utmost love, respect, and service–even in public office.
Sincerely,Tim Counts
A Concerned Pastor in Vermont

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Power of Words

“One generation will declare Your works to the next and will proclaim Your mighty acts.” Psalm 145:4

My wife and I took our grandchildren to a theme park for our granddaughter’s birthday. Though we were exhausted by the end of the day, it was a lot of fun and we were glad we went. It was fun to watch our grandchildren ride the rides, meet the characters in costume and eat lots of foods we might not normally eat at home.

Because we live in a very diverse part of the country, many of the other families there spoke languages other than English. One family was sitting next to us chatting away in another language but almost every sentence had an English word or two mixed in. Apparently there is not a perfect translation for “face paint” or “roller coaster” or “ferris wheel” in their language. The children, who were bi-lingual, easily inserted English words when needed into a sentence in their heart language, and the parents understood it just fine. It was a great example of communication even when concepts do not quite fit the language we are used to speaking.

What does this have to do with the church?

Churches often speak a language that those outside the church cannot understand. We think that our non-churched friends are uninterested in the things of God when in reality, they simply do not know what we are taking about. We need to learn how to blend ancient theological concepts with modern language so our people can understand what we are talking about. If we refuse to use words that make sense to those around us, we will continue to see the church shrink and drift toward irrelevancy. Like the children at the theme park, we may be surprised how easily we can insert one word for another so others can understand the concepts more clearly.

Here is an idea, make a list of theology concepts important to share with the non-churched people in our lives. Then think of at different ways to express the same thoughts, but using simpler words. Then do again and see if we can make it even simpler. We might be able to speak more clearly than we realize, if we would just try!

Lord, help us learn to communicate Your truth in ways that others can understand. Amen.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at: