holiday blues

Holiday Blues: Beating the Holiday Blues

By | Resources

Holidays can be a time of delight for most people after a long year of hard work. It's not entirely clear when the festive season starts though. Traditionally, most would agree that Thanksgiving is a decisive marker of the start of the holiday season. But every year, in a phenomenon, unfortunately, named the Christmas Creep, the holiday decorations seem to come out earlier each year. No doubt there is a commercial motive behind this; regardless, it serves as a reminder for most of us that we are in the final stretch of the year, a year riddled with challenges that may have had us doubting if we would succeed and yet, here we are.

Most people look forward to reuniting with family, reconnecting with old friends perhaps, and maybe live through a few awkward dinners. But there's a significant section of us for which the thought of the holidays induces feelings of anxiety, loneliness, stress, and even dread.

What are the “Holiday Blues”?

Most functional adults have a life with predictable routines. They wake up at a certain time every weekday, perhaps eat at a favorite restaurant every other Saturday and stay out for a little bit – but not too late as to miss church on Sunday, and then on Monday, it's back to work. Different groups of people have different perspectives on this routine lifestyle. The holiday blues can happen to anyone, anywhere.

For some, particularly those with life partners that are supporting a family, going to work is just a means to ensure that their family is catered to and provided for. On the other side of the spectrum, particularly in cities and in metropolises, loneliness and isolation have become both endemic, in the sense that they affect a certain demographic in specific urban areas; and pandemic, since these issues are wide-spread across cities and states on all continents.

Who is most affected by the holiday blues?

Mostly young professionals who have recently moved out of their parents' houses, and middle-aged individuals who have either spent most of their lives alone or who've lost significant others and/or children, rely on peers and colleagues to be social tethers keeping them from completely isolating themselves socially. When the holidays come around, that regular routine is disrupted. Friends and colleagues go off on holiday to visit their families. If these individuals, even the most well adjusted ones, are without the means to travel to family, or without close family to travel to, then each reminder of the approaching festive season is a reminder that a period of disruption and loneliness is approaching. Holiday blues are the uneasy feelings of loneliness, stress, and anxiety which develop around certain holidays.

Holiday stress may also be caused by the financial burden which the season places on individuals. For starters, there are expectations of certain activities during this season, regardless of background, level of income and culture you come from. Over Christmas holidays, for example, some expect gifts, others expect to travel, and others expect parties or gatherings. Certain employers understand this period results in significant financial issues and allow for a bonus to be paid out. However, this is not always the case and the pressure these financial burdens create can be significant enough for a person to dread this time of year. What adds on to this pressure is the conspicuous consumption of peers.

While holiday blues may be unavoidable for some, there are methods to manage this condition and ways to minimize negative outcomes.

How You Can Beat the Holiday Blues

As mentioned, there are many reasons why you might feel sad around the holidays, such as:

  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Thoughts of past holidays
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Finances

Regardless of why you’re not quite feeling “yourself”, these are a few ways you can beat the blues come the holiday season:

Don’t be tempted to “hunker down”

Even if you’re just taking a quick walk to the library or the corner coffee shop, staying active and being in the company of other people can lift your mood. Simple gestures like a smile exchange as the person coming out holds the door for you can elevate your spirit.

But what if those places you go only remind you of the places and people you miss? Come up with something new to occupy yourself. For instance, if you live in a city that’s known for its tourism, consider going on a guided tour with some enthusiastic visitors. Just seeing happiness and smiling faces can put a spring back in your step. If that doesn’t really sound appealing, you could always volunteer at a shelter for animals or do some other activity that engages your spirit and doesn’t allow you to dwell on sadness.

If you really don’t want to be around others, consider calling or texting with someone you think might be having the same bout of holiday blues. Sometimes just knowing someone else feels the same (and cares enough to call!) can put you and your friend in a place of good cheer.

It’s okay to cry – and it’s okay to smile, too!

What if you’ve lost someone? Or worse, lost them at or near the holiday season?

You might not feel like you deserve to be happy, or maybe you feel guilty if you do experience some happiness around the holidays – which drives you further into a funk. It’s not uncommon to feel survivor’s guilt, but don’t allow your grief to dry up your wellspring of happiness.

There are five stages of grief and they don’t follow a set pattern – you may go through several stages multiple times in the same day, or even in the same hour. It’s only human to be sad and recognize that you miss your loved one – but there’s no shame in smiling or letting yourself be happy. After all, your lost loved one wouldn’t want you to be sad for long periods of time.

Reminiscing and longing for past holidays

Remember when you were a kid and Christmas was the best day ever? Christmas as an adult doesn’t always hold the same kind of feeling. Looking back at the holidays of yesteryear or keeping with traditions is a part of every holiday – not just Christmas. But maybe your memories are stuck on replay and you wish you could go back to a happier time…that isn’t a bad thing, but if you remain mentally in the past, you could be missing out on happiness in the present.

One of the best ways to get through a rough holiday memories patch is to create new ones. Making new memories or starting new traditions gives you hope and helps you look forward to the next time the holidays roll around. Maybe bake some cupcakes or cookies for some children at your local hospital or cook a meal for a family on your street. It’ll take your mind off bad memories and sadness as you watch faces light up from your gifts.

Sunny days are few and far between in the winter

The winter season brings good cheer, but in many parts of the world it also brings overcast skies and a lack of sunlight. This loss of natural light adversely impacts many people. In fact, there’s even an apt name for it – Seasonal Affective Disorder. When you find the blues setting in, go outside or, better yet, give yourself permission to book tickets to a place where the sun is still shining. Join a gym. Both sunlight and activity can help boost your immunity to the winter holiday blues.

But what if you don’t even have any money?

There’s nothing worse than already being in a funk than not having any money to do anything about it. You might be hoping to buy presents for children in your family or for friends, but limited resources can put a damper on your holiday spirit. But material items are not the only things you can offer during the holidays. You can volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, or go to the local hospital or nursing home and just hang out with patients. Patients who have no family nearby or have infrequent visitors feel incredible when you just lend an ear. There’s nothing better for your own happiness than spreading some to others.

Cheer Up 😊

All in all, the best process of eliminating your holiday blues is remaining true to yourself. If you’re invited to a gathering, what would you do if it wasn’t the holidays? You’d go. Don’t stay in isolation. Say yes to these invitations, eat, drink, and be merry! Acknowledge the small joys and be grateful for them – you’ll uncover some moments of true happiness.

And those are some memories to carry into the next year and beyond.

When a Pastor is Overwhelmed: How to Recharge and Evolve

By | Resources

As a pastor, you want to appear strong and capable no matter the situation you are in. As one of God's representatives on earth, you feel under great pressure to perform your duties well no matter what trials you are personally facing.. Your strong front may be hiding a wild swirl of emotions, though.

Ministering to people is a 24/7 job that brings daily if not hourly challenges. All pastors must feel overwhelmed at times, but some never acknowledge how they are feeling. It is dangerous to ignore your own mental and emotional well-being, however. When you are overwhelmed, you need to take concrete steps to address your needs, both for your own sake and for the sake of your religious community.

The Reality of Being Overwhelmed

People with anxiety disorders often feel overwhelmed, but anyone can experience this issue. Anxiety has many causes, but it is an internal battle often triggered by external events. As a pastor, you have many demands made on your time, making it difficult to complete all of your tasks. In addition to job pressures like church attendance, parishioner counseling, and church management issues, you also have to deal with your own family difficulties. You have to worry about your finances, housing, childcare, car maintenance, etc. Sometimes the sheer volume of the tasks you face can send you into emotional gridlock.

When you reach this point, you can easily become consumed with anxiety, which means you cannot focus on anything else. Your brain actually shifts its resources to address the areas that are suffering, meaning you are often unable to perform other tasks. Your thinking, memory and even physical capabilities are affected by your anxiety. That means that your job performance and personal relationships can decline, making you even more anxious and overwhelmed.

While prayer is certainly an effective first step in attacking anxiety, the divine answers you seek may well be found on the mortal plain. When you are laboring under an anxiety burden, you need to use all the tools at your disposal: both spiritual and earthly.

A Pastor's Traditional Role

A pastor's job description is a lengthy one. You have to represent your church and maintain a connection to the denomination's leadership and goals. You are also the face of the church in the local community. You have to provide leadership in every aspect of your particular church and manage a great deal of administrative work. You spend much time performing your official duties, including Sunday services, weeknight services, weddings and funerals. Most importantly, you dispense comfort and guidance to your parishioners. You are constantly on duty.

These expectations could overwhelm anyone, especially when your own personal life poses challenges. You suffer trials and tribulations just like anyone else. As a leader, you also feel pressure to always be calm and serve as an example of strength. Of course, these expectations are unrealistic and only add to the feeling of being overwhelmed. Pastors can often become trapped by their own performance expectations.

Ways for Pastor's to Cope

The problem with being overwhelmed is that it makes you feel as if you have no choices. You end up running to one task after another, spending all of your time and energy just maintaining things. When you are experiencing this problem, taking any kind of new action can seem like too much effort. But pastors do have resources to fight this state of being. In addition to your religion, there are some practical steps you need to take to get your emotional state to a healthier place.

Rest and revival

You've probably been told numerous times that you need to slow down. When someone says to “take it easy,” your first response is probably, “How?” After all, you have so much to do, very little time and people are counting on you. All of those things may be true, but you are not able to perform well when you are feeling overwhelmed. You have to stop the madness for everyone's sake.

First, take time off. Stop the vicious cycle for at least 24 hours so that you can rest and revive. (If you can take more time, do so.) You will physically feel better but, more importantly, you will be able to get some perspective on your situation. As a pastor, finding even a day alone can be challenging, so leave town if you must. Give your location to a trusted family or friend and then unplug. You may feel indispensable, but the world will keep on spinning while you tend to yourself. Most people won't even question your absence.

Learn to delegate more. You became a pastor so that you could help people, so saying “no” to anyone may be nearly impossible or you. But practically, you do need to refuse some requests. You cannot serve on infinite boards and lead the prayers at every community event and feel well. At the very least, you need to delegate more tasks to others. Let someone else take the lead on various projects. Giving up a little power is hard, but you cannot do everything yourself and be emotionally healthy.

Do as Thoreau instructed and simplify. Take a good look at both your home and work life. What are you doing that is not necessary? Have you created too many groups at church? Are your church events becoming more elaborate and time-consuming? Look at your home life as well. Have you surrounded yourself with too many things that interfere with your spiritual life? Get rid of the stuff that isn't enhancing your life or the life of your parishioners.

Revise your schedule. Chances are that your current one has little or no “me” time on it. As a pastor, you are trained to think of others and not of yourself, but your mind and soul need some enjoyment. Fun even. If you like to play sports or go to a gym, then you should. Regularly. Plus exercise is a proven way to reduce anxiety. If you have a hobby, pursue it once a week. If you don't have a hobby, get one. You may think these things are frivolous, but they are vital to your mental health. You can't be on duty every minute of your life and not feel overwhelmed.

Family and Church Support

Asking for family and parishioner support means more than delegating tasks. It means letting the people in your life know that you need help. While you don't have to make an announcement from the pulpit, you should be comfortable with telling people that you are feeling overwhelmed. Begin with a trusted family member or friend. Then you can share your situation with the church's hierarchy. Many denominations have their own counseling services since pastor burnout is a common occurrence. Pastors can also benefit from seeking professional counseling not affiliated with the church. The key is acknowledging that you need help and then seeking it out.

If you feel ashamed of needing help, you should remember what you have undoubtedly told your congregation many times: “Asking for help from God and man is strength and not weakness.” The Bible stresses the need for self-care“Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” – 1 Peter 3:4 NIV

God does not want your spirit to be overwhelmed. Acknowledging that you need help from your family and church members is essential to keeping the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” Fixing yourself is not a selfish act, either. When you are strong and happy, you are of much more helpful to others.

Pastors by necessity hold themselves to a high standard. You are representing God, which is a beautiful and terrifying responsibility. You are a role model for your own parishioners, the members of your extended community and your own family. To say your role comes with a lot of pressure is understating the reality. In fact, outsiders might ask if there was any way for you not to be overwhelmed.

You do have powerful weapons on your side. You have your strong spiritual beliefs and the Bible. These are a strength and comfort to you, but alone, they are not enough. You have to take action to address the state of being overwhelm. First, rest and take stock. Then make concrete changes to your life by simplifying it on all fronts. Say no more. Play more. Eat well and get plenty of exercise. Let other people help you with your burdens. And be kind to yourself. God does not want you to live an unhappy and overwhelming life. In fact, you have been instructed to enjoy it:

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

thanksgiving sermons

Thanksgiving Sermons: 10 Thanksgiving Sermons Pastors Will Be Thankful For

By | Bible Verses

With Thanksgiving approaching, there is no better time to remind your community about the power of praise and thankfulness. If you need some prompts for your upcoming service, here are ten great ideas to get you started. Each one comes with scripture which you can then use as the foundation for the rest of your sermon.

1. The Power of Thanksgiving & Praise

Psalms 103: 1, 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

The Psalms are full of admonition to give thanks. When we think of the life of King David, we remember how he came from being a young shepherd boy to ruling all of Jerusalem. Here, he tells us to “forget not” all of God's benefits. It could be that he knew where his true strength lie, and how important it was to acknowledge it on a daily basis.

2.       Why We Should Give Thanks Every Day

Psalm 69:30

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving comes once a year, but we can find little things every day to be grateful for.

3.       Different Ways to Give Thanks

Psalm 95:2

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

Encourage your congregation to use songs and even poetry as new ways to vocalize their thankfulness. Little children can be taught to sing songs of praise at an early age. Sometimes the heart doesn’t know what to say, but a song is perfect.

4.       Being Thankful for Loved Ones and Family

1 Corinthians 1:4

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…

Your congregation has probably heard it before: charity begins at home. But so does praise and thankfulness. Sadly, our families and closest to us are oftentimes the ones who bear the brunt of our ingratitude at home. Use Thanksgiving as a way to bring the sermon closer to home—speak of the importance of showing a grateful heart for family members, even those who are hardest to love.

5. Thanksgiving Even When Things Are Tough

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

“All circumstances” is a pretty broad statement. But the point that the apostle Paul was trying to make here is that we can find a reason to give thanks, no matter what is happening. If your community is experiencing rough times, health issues, or other problems, address the need to look at the situation and still find a way to give thanks for all the good.

6.  Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving

Colossians 4:2

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

This sermon, instead of praying for things in the usual way, you can commit to only prayers of gratitude. Lift up your congregation by offering a prayer that only outlines what you, as a pastor, are thankful for. Find a way to focus this prayer session on only gratitude, and see what a difference it makes!

7.   Being Thankful for God’s Love

Jeremiah 33:11

Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.

God’s love is often hard to comprehend. But one thing we know for sure: it is steadfast, unwavering. Your community may find it hard to see or feel God’s love in the world around them. Yet, you can use this Thanksgiving as a way to bring it back to the truth: His love endures forever.

8.   Thankfulness for God’s Forgiveness

Isaiah 12:1

You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.

One of the most wonderful things about the Christian faith is the hope we have in Forgiveness. And this is a powerful thing to be thankful for. Everyone has sinned at some point, and “come short of God’s glory”. Yet, we have this beautiful promise of God’s comfort, even in the most depressing times. He does not hold anger against us, and neither should we with our brethren.

9.  Finding People to Be Thankful For

1 Timothy 4:4

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.

Can you find it in your heart to love those who are hard to love? God does, and He rejects no one who wants to enter the Kingdom. This verse outlines how we are all God’s creations and must treat each other like the treasures He knows we are.

10. Teaching Our Children to Be Thankful

Psalm 103:2-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.

If there is a youth service, or a special Thanksgiving celebration just for the children, make them the focus of thankfulness. Encourage them that God is always there, to crown them with mercy, and give them wings as an eagle. This could be symbolic of strength, or conviction that they need as young people.

+++

These are just a few ideas for formulating your own sermons during Thanksgiving. You can always tailor each one to your situation, or find more Bible verses to promote a spirit of Thanksgiving. Encourage those who want to donate and give to the church with the progress the church has made. You can bring statistics into these “Gratefulness” sessions. How many missionaries were sent out this year? How many lives came closer to faith? Keeping track of these statistics is also easier with a Giving App, or way to digitize your outreach programs. Check out our blog and other articles for more practical tips on making an impact.

Great Service Ideas for Your Church on the Upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday

By | Resources

There is no doubt that Thanksgiving is an American, secular holiday. The occasion commemorates the arrival of Europeans to the continent and the traditional meal early Americans held to mark the event. However, Thanksgiving is also a holiday with themes that align with the Christian religion. It is an annual occasion during which people spend time with their families, and it is an opportunity to remember the very important values of gratitude and appreciation for what you have. For that reason, despite it being a non-religious holiday, Thanksgiving is actually an excellent time to have a special service at your church. A Thanksgiving Service can be a good chance to share lessons about the values at the center of the holiday and to gather congregants and their family members while they have time away from school and work.

If you are a congregation leader and you are considering leading a Thanksgiving Service this November, you may feel like you want some guidance on how to connect the holiday to the liturgy and the tenants of Christianity. You may also want some special activities you can do at your church to make your Thanksgiving service feel even more festive. Read on for some helpful tips for planning a Thanksgiving service, as well as some ideas for making the holiday more meaningful for everyone who gets to experience it.

The Logistics: When to Have a Thanksgiving Service at Your Church

Thanksgiving is a holiday that features a meal on a specific Thursday in November. However, if you have a Thanksgiving service at your church, you may be wondering: when is the best time to have it? You don't want to interrupt people's meals, but you also want to make sure it's during a time that people have off of work and school so they can attend. You also want to make sure the message is timely and relevant to the occasion that's happening.

To plan the service, consider taking a poll or survey of congregants a month or two in advance to find the best time on Thursday that works for them. Or, pick a time for the service and announce it far in advance. That way, your congregants can plan around the scheduled service and they can make both their festive family meals and the special service at their church.

The Publicity: Spread the Word About the Service

There's a good chance your Thanksgiving service is going to be at a time you don't usually have a service. Because of that, you need to get the word out about the event, so you make sure that everyone knows about it and attends. Print flyers and hand them out at regular Sunday services, or place them on community bulletin boards. Also, update any and all social media and online presence you have with the date and time of your Thanksgiving Service. You want to make a special effort to market the service so that you ensure people are aware of it. Consider drawing attention to the special focus of the event by theming the materials: consider incorporating some fall colors or autumnal images so people will know that the service will be focused on Thanksgiving.

Ask for Help: Get Volunteers

Because the Thanksgiving Service will be on a different schedule than normal, you may need help from congregants who want to volunteer for the service. They can lead prayers, give readings, hand out literature, usher, sing, and more. Even if you do not need the extra help, a Thanksgiving service may be an opportunity to get congregants involved who do not usually participate in the service. Ask well in advance for helpers who can contribute to the holiday service so that they can prepare to be at the service and get ready to perform whatever task has been assigned to them.

Prep the Service: Choose the Content

The meat of the Thanksgiving service is that actually the content that is heard, sung, or spoke there. Take at least a week in advance to plan out the content of the service, including what prayers will be read, what sermon will be delivered (and who will be delivering it), what songs will be sung, and what other special events will take place during the ceremony. Here is some guidance for choosing the content of your Thanksgiving service.

Focus on Prayers of Thanks

As its name suggests, the focus of Thanksgiving is thankfulness and gratitude. Hone in on prayers that offer thanks and help to heighten this message. You can write your own prayers thanking God for his goodness and work, or you can plan to let congregants offer their own silent prayers of thanks. There are also several well-known prayers that focus on an appropriate Thanksgiving message. You can find a selection of these prayers at the following links:

Write a Sermon

The sermon may be the heart of a Thanksgiving service. Start preparing it well in advance so you end up with a talk to deliver that hammers home the message you want congregants to hear. If you want to choose a Bible verse or story to focus your sermon on, one popular topic for Thanksgiving is Luke's Story of the 10 Lepers. In the story, 10 lepers are healed but only one says Thank You (and it is a Samaritan). This story is about the nature of gratitude and how to acknowledge it. Also, consider getting personal in the sermon and telling stories from your own life about where you feel gratitude and what you feel appreciative for. By modeling giving thanks for congregants, you can show and explain to them what it means to express gratitude and how it can elevate both their lives and the lives of the people they are thanking. Tips for sermon writing during Thanksgiving time: if possible, write the sermon as early as you can, then practice it multiple days before the holiday. That way you can sit back and relax during your Thanksgiving meal with your own family, and you won't have to stress or worry about rehearsing your words when you should also be appreciating a holiday meal at home.

Get People Involved: Consider Additional Activities

One way that a Thanksgiving service might differ from a traditional church service is that you may want to incorporate activities into the service. Doing more active things during a Thanksgiving Service will help get more people excited and involved in the event. It is also a good way to give to people who are in need, and Thanksgiving can be a particularly hard time for those people who don't have families or means to celebrate with. Once the typical service part of your Thanksgiving service is over, consider holding the following activities:

  • Host a meal for the less fortunate at your church, and have congregants cook and serve the meal
  • Have a canned food or dry good drive associated with the service. Have people bring at least one canned good or food item when they attend. Collect the items and donate them to a local food pantry.
  • Assemble gift bags for the less fortunate with warm weather goodies and toiletries in them. These will come in handy in the upcoming cold winter months or serve as little gift bags during the festive gift-giving time of the holidays.
  • Allow people to give their words of thanks out loud to the whole congregation, or break up into smaller groups and have people share what they are thankful for. Let the whole community hear what each person has gratitude for.
  • Look for other community events that are helping to serve the less fortunate, than coordinate travel and attendance as a group and take all of the attendees over to participate.
  • Read from a non-religious book about gratitude. Find a novel, children's book, or essay that speaks to the theme of being thankful. Share all of it or some of it aloud. Help elucidate the message with texts or stories that really resonate with listeners today (and listeners of all ages)
  • Offer fellowship before and after the service. This is a time for gathering, socializing and expressing love. Also, it is a time when many people fly in town to see their loved ones, so there is a good chance that people who are not usually there will be in attendance. Allow for the church to be a space for this sharing and let people spend time together before and after the Thanksgiving service. To encourage people to stick around, offer small sweets or post-Turkey desserts after the service, so people can snack while they catch up.

Space: Make Space feel Holiday Festive

No need to go overboard at your church for Thanksgiving, but you can help your church feel like a place that people want to be and stay on the holiday by incorporating little decorative touches to remind them of the season. For Thanksgiving, consider using some autumnal or themed decor like mums, pumpkins, straw, and cornucopias on tables. Make the entire place feel like a spot for them to celebrate the occasion of Thanksgiving, not just in the sanctuary or chapel when the prayers are being said or sermons are being delivered.

Going Forward: Encouragement for the Future

One of the most important messages for the Thanksgiving service attendees to leave with is that gratitude matters not just on the holiday, but every day of the year. Cite bible verses focused on gratitude. Then give people ways to help incorporate more giving of thanks into their daily routine. You may encourage people to start a gratitude journal so they become aware of all the things they are thankful for. Or, you may give a challenge to congregants for them to go say “Thank you” at loud to one new person every single day. Focus the Thanksgiving Service on how thankfulness should be central to our lives always, and how Thanksgiving is just a holiday that allows us to recenter and re-focus on that annually.

The Thanksgiving Service: Spark Attendance, Participation, and Generosity

If you lead a congregation and you want people to get more involved in the coming months, consider having a Thanksgiving Service for the upcoming holiday. While Thanksgiving is not traditionally a Christian event, it is an opportunity to teach about and celebrate some of the same core values that lie at the heart of the religion. In addition to being a good opportunity to add in special services and a way to give families structured, fulfilling activities to do together, the holidays can also be a chance for your congregation to raise funds and help bring in more donations that can help your church continue to grow and thrive.

For fundraising and development during the upcoming holiday season, consider using NewFire Giving to help. This online giving platform comes with an app that can help make giving to your church easier and more convenient for congregants for all agents. It also has software that works on kiosks, so visitors who come during the holidays can physically make gifts while they are there. Also, NewFire Giving incorporates text-to-give, so you can appeal to younger generations who prefer to accomplish tasks from the convenience of their smartphones. Finally, NewFire Giving also comes with an educational program that can help you learn more about how to effectively fundraise so that your church is thriving and always has enough funds to run effective programming, maintain safe and beautiful structures, recruit new members, and pay a staff that can help nurture and lead.

To learn more about NewFire Giving and how it can help your congregation during this upcoming holiday season, get in touch with us today. We'll help you pick the plan that's best for you and teach you how to start growing your congregation in effective, sustainable ways.

Cynical in the Bible: How to Help Congregants who Are Doubting their Faith

By | Resources

When you run a church congregation, you will encounter a wide range of people who have a variety of feelings about church, the bible, and their religion. Some will be devoted congregants and firm believers whose faith never waivers. Others will be new to the religion and learning, but excited about developing their spirituality and relationship with God. Finally, undoubtedly, there will be some doubters in the Church, who are feeling unsure about their faith and cynical in the bible, not sure whether they believe in their religion or not.

If you deal with congregants who are feeling cynical, there is no reason to feel frustrated or disappointed with them. Instead, use their feelings as an opportunity to learn more about their doubts and your own religion, and how the Bible itself can help provide some guidance for anyone who is experiencing cynicism. If you are not sure where to start with someone who is feeling cynical in the Bible the following may help. These steps can help you address the doubts that people are feeling, get to the root of their questioning, and help encourage them to see different ways for them to come back closer to their faith.

Discuss the Moment of the Loss of Faith

Talk to someone who is feeling cynical about when their faith started to waived. Usually, there is an inciting event or series of events that has led to a person feeling cynical in the Bible. If you can get at the root of a person's cynicism, you can better understand how to address it. Usually, cynicism is caused by a feeling of alienation, of being hurt, or of unresolved about something. Try to target the reason that a person's cynicism began, and you will have a clearer idea about how to get them back on the path to faith.

Foster Community

One good way to help people feeling cynical in the Bible is to help them connect with a community of people who are not cynical. Hold events, religious study groups, and programming and encourage the person feeling cynical to come. When they feel welcomed and like they are a part of this community, they may be more open to hearing the ideas of the community. Also, because cynicism is often sparked by feeling alienated from your church community, it is possible that by being welcomed into a new group, they will feel less alone and in turn, less pessimistic about the benefits of faith.

Encourage Openness

One way to help a cynic come back to Christianity is to show them that it's okay to feel flexible and open about beliefs, instead of fixed rigidly in a set of beliefs or non-believing. It is okay for people to question religion and to be loose about opinions and understanding. By giving a person feeling cynical in the Bible a middle ground to come back to: questioning, rather than one side or the other (believing vs. doubting), you give them a safer, less intimidating place for them to return to.

Focus on Service

One of the most important aspects of the Bible is not the religious laws or lessons in it, but instead the message that it is important to serve and help other people. Hone in on this very concrete aspect of the Bible, which is hard to argue with for anyone who has a kind heart. If the person feeling cynical in the Bible has trouble with the parts of the Book that require blind faith, instead, focus on the parts of the BIble that talk about tangible ways to serve other people. Go through stories about generosity that exist in both the new and old testament. Then encourage them to take on some of that service themselves. Or, alternatively, hold a service project with congregants so they can follow the Word of God and serve the community together. When you get a cynic to see the good that service can do and to feel the feeling you get when you help other people, you can help them more likely buy into the rest of the messages in the Bible, that surround the words about generosity and giving.

Share Your Own Doubts

Be vulnerable when you are talking with someone who is cynical in the Bible, and express times when you have felt doubts or questioning, as well. All peope of Faith have had time where they have wondered or questioned some of their own beliefs. If you are a person of faith, it is powerful to tell someone your story of feeling doubtful or unsure, and then coming back to a place of believing. You can create common ground with someone who is feling cynical in the Bible, then display your route back to believing. This can help inspire them to see that there is a path to being a believer again, and that it is completely normal for them to feel doubts about their religion.

Bible Verses for People Feeling Cynical in the Bible

One of the best resources to turn to to help someone who is feeling cynical in the Bible is the Bible itself. There are many verses and passages in the Bible itself that can help people have more faith in it and in the word of God. Here are some helpful Bible verses that you can share with people who are cynical in the Bible, that may help them return to their Faith.

  • And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. – Matthew 17:20
  • I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14
  • Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Phillippians 4:8
  • I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life.” But what is God's reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. -Romans 11:1-36
  • We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus – Romans 15:1-7
  • And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. -Matthew 21:21
  • To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. – Psalm 22:1-31
  • Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. Hebrews 6:1-3
  • Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:31-32
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. – Romans 15:13
  • A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. -Proverbs 17:22
  • Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. – 1 Peter 5:8-10
  • Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. – Phillippians 4:8

Help Encourage Excitement About the Church with NewFire Giving

When your congregation is feeling excited about encouraged about your church, they are more enthusiastic about donating to help the church grow and thrive. When you help congregants learn to be more excited about their faith, you can also help them feel more excited about giving to their congregation as well. One great tool that can help you learn how to foster enthusiasm and generosity in your is NewFire Giving.

NewFire Giving is an online giving and donations platform created specifically for churches. NewFire Giving allows people to give to a church via a website, an app, or even via text. It also provides software you can use to offer giving via kiosks at your church. One of the best parts about NewFire Giving, however, is that it also comes with an educational component, Ignite Coaching.

With Ignite Coaching, you can get access to lessons from church fundraising experts who know how to help you boost your fundraising efforts and increase generosity from congregants. When you take part in Ignite Coaching, you can build an action plan for growth, figure out how to meet and surpass your giving needs, and combat general skepticism and cynicism in congregants who might otherwise feel hesitant to give.

If you want to learn more about how you can use NewFire Giving to get your congregants more enthusiastic and excited about your church, reach out to us today. We'd love to talk to you about how to help your community grow and flourish.

Wise Leaders in The Church

By | Resources

Good leadership relies on the same personal qualities that are nurtured by a Christian life. If you’re working hard to follow the pathway of Christ, you have the foundational characteristics to be a wise leader. Here you might be saying, “Wait! I know I could do better in my spiritual discipline, and I definitely don’t always feel wise!” Your humbleness and striving to improve are actually key to being a good leader, so you’re already on your way. Here are some of those habits of leadership which characterize the deepest Christian values:

Honesty

Complete honesty, within yourself and before God, is fundamental for all followers of Christ. You must be able to view yourself objectively and acknowledge all the areas in which you still need to grow. Similarly, in leadership positions, you must show others your true self, and speak truthfully. This kind of transparent authenticity is one of the most important qualities in a leader as well as in a Christian. CEO Magazine calls honesty “the single most important leadership value.” They cite research that shows only 20 percent of people trust business leaders to speak the truth, and they note that this dismal statistic is evidence of a “crisis in leadership.” Against a backdrop of such low expectations, your honest approach will build trust among your congregants.

Compassionate Listening

Of course, it’s central to have compassion for those in need — but you can’t put that kindness into action until you listen to people’s deepest stories. You already know this: Every church leader has people turn up at their door, troubled and in need of counseling. This same ability to listen is central to wise leadership. Harvard Business Review calls listening to an “overlooked leadership tool,” and notes that it creates an environment of safety, and allows more “spaciousness” to be built into your day. Listening to the needs and opinions of all stakeholders means that you’ll be aware of multiple viewpoints, and will, therefore, make better strategic decisions.

Selflessness

Here’s something to consider: “The aim of the great leader is not to get people to think more highly of the leader. It's to get people to think more highly of themselves.” This is a secular quote, from business coach Bob Moawad, but it has a connection to authentic Christianity. How many Bible verses guide us in putting the needs and interests of others before our own? If you set aside your own pride, and don’t become infatuated with your own status, your power as a leader will grow.

Faith

Faith is fundamental to organizational success, just as much as it is to our personal spiritual lives. As a church leader, of course, you have faith in God. But you have to spread that faith a bit farther: You need faith in yourself, your mission, and your community. An article in Business News Daily puts it this way: “When leaders believe in their employees and give them the opportunity to learn and grow, they might be surprised how much they can accomplish.”

Diligence

Proverbs 12:27 says, “Diligence is man’s precious possession.” Christianity is not an easy path; those who follow the Lord’s example must be constantly conscientious. This same earnest effort applies to leadership as well: As a leader, you’re not the one who goes home early or takes lots of vacations. Indeed, you may end up working longer hours than anyone on your team. (Actually, research finds that CEOs do end up working long hours: about 62.5 hours per week, on average.)

As a church leader, you’re in a great position to demonstrate the enormous power of Christ’s example. By relying on His virtues, you will build trust among your church community, and effectively achieve whatever practical and financial goals you set.

Generous in The Church: How to Inspire Your Congregation to Adopt a Spirit of Generosity

By | Resources

When you run a church, you provide both a physical place and a community for congregants that can help enrich their lives in many ways. Churches offer programming, religious services and guidance, social opportunities, education, and more. In order for a church to survive, thrive, and grow, it relies on the donations of its members and congregants. Often, the generosity of church members can be the key to a church that succeeds and flourishes.

Often, members of a church congregation are naturally generous and enjoy giving to the church. However, sometimes, it's important for you, as church leaders, to remind members about generosity. Being reminded to give not only encourages people to donate the money they have to help, but it also helps encourage a spirit of generosity that can benefit the entire community in a variety of ways.

If you want to encourage your congregants to prioritize being generous in the church, there are some concrete steps you can take. These techniques can help remind people that giving is show important; show them how generosity can help; and demonstrate concrete ways they can do generous acts for their congregation.

Focus on Examples of Generosity in the Bible

One good way to set a tone of generosity in the church is to focus on lessons of generosity in the Bible, especially when it comes to sermons, bible studies, and more. There are many, many lessons about generosity in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and you can use these lessons as the topics of programming and services during your push to encourage generosity in congregants. If you need a good shortlist of Biblical lessons about generosity, check out this list of 10 Examples of Generosity in the Bible (and How to Follow Them) compiled by Crosswalk.

Encourage Church Leaders to Model Generosity

Congregants are not the only people at Church that should be generous. The church leadership should be focused on generosity too, including clergy members, board members, staff, and more. When the leadership at a church is consistently generous, they model the behavior for the members of the congregation and set the tone for the rest of the community.

Make it Easier Than Ever to Be Generous

Sometimes, congregants simply are not as generous as they want to be because they don't know how to give. Make giving as simple and easy as possible by offering a very straightforward, convenient way to donate. By having events at which congregants can give at the church, or offering online, digital platforms for giving, you can facilitate the process of making donations, and you can inspire people to be more generous no matter where they are spending time.

Talk About How Your Church Uses Money

To get people excited about giving in your church, talk openly about how your church uses funds. People are more encouraged to give to their church when they understand exactly how their money will make an impact. Talk about the mission work that donations fund. Explain how many of the donations that come into the church are eventually donated to other local organizations that need them. Describe how money is used at the church to pay clergy, provide programming, maintain the building, and more. When people know exactly how donations will be used, they understand why it is important for them to be generous with their community and they feel more excited about giving.

Celebrate Giving

When your church has received a certain number of donations or a certain amount donated, celebrate. Or, when your church is able to hold a program because you have enough funding, make it a joyous occasion. When congregants know that giving is an act that will ultimately be celebrated, they will feel encouraged to give and understand the ultimate positive impact that generosity will have in their congregation and community. Ultimately, you can help people directly see and feel the ultimate

Empower Your Generous Congregants with NewFire Giving

If you have successfully fostered a feeling of being generous in the church, your congregants will want to donate what they can to help your community thrive. They will feel excited to give to you and about the results of that donation. One great platform to make donations simple and convenient is NewFire Giving. NewFire Giving is an online donations platform that makes it easy for church members to donate from the comfort of their own laptops, desktops, or smartphones. And, it allows you to set up kiosks for giving at the church. NewFire Giving makes giving a digital process so that it's simpler than ever before. Reach out to the team at NewFire Giving today to learn more about how our tools can help make your movement of generosity at your congregation become an even more powerful one.

Church Newsletter Article Ideas That Foster Engagement

By | Resources

Church newsletters are an ideal way to allow members to be in-the-know about everything that is going on. Whether your church does a weekly or a monthly newsletter, it is important to have one that creates interest and is read by everyone. Here are some church newsletter article ideas that foster engagement and keep members happily reading more.

Keep It Consistent

Using your church logo and a regular template creates a sense of familiarity. It makes a brand and an identity that your members can relate to on a regular basis. Keep the fonts the same and the newsletter uniform so that it is easily recognizable. If you have the same layout it is easily known as the church's official newsletter.

Words From the Pastor

People want to hear from their beloved pastor and the perfect place (other than at the pulpit) is within your church's newsletter. It doesn't have to be long-winded or anything like that. Instead, it can be as short as a paragraph or two. Just something that is encouraging and thoughtful should be ideal for those who want to hear the pastor's words.

Important Dates

Another crucial area of any newsletter is a place for important upcoming dates. It might be church celebrations, a holiday schedule, church functions, etc. This should be a fairly simple area that is not overwhelming to the reader. Keep it uncluttered and only list dates that are important without a lot of extra reading for this portion of the newsletter.

Inspirational Topics

One aspect that keeps people engaged is inspirational topics. Words of healing, hope, and motivation are often needed by members of the congregation. Perhaps they are going through something hard or painful or maybe they simply need to hear words that make them feel inspired or happy.

Perhaps words about God's blessings will fit in nicely. For example, as mentioned at 2 Praise God:

Many of us are believing God for incredible things. We have dreams, visions, and desires placed in our hearts by God and we’re believing God to make good on His promises to us. Some of us find comfort in the scripture that tells us “all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). While the promises of God are without void, we have a responsibility to make sure we are preparing for God’s blessings and promises.  The Bible states faith without works is dead (James 2:17). Therefore, I propose to you that preparing for God’s blessings requires faith into action. It’s not enough to simply say you’re ready to receive God’s blessings, and yet do nothing to position yourself for God’s blessings.

This is just one example. It can be about forgiveness, strength in faith after something bad happens, stewardship, or even a person's purpose in life and in faith. Just make it inspirational and thoughtful to keep the members engaged and looking forward to the next newsletter.

A Monthly Scripture

You can do this in a variety of ways: as representative of your upcoming sermon, support a theme, or simply share something from the heart. This scripture can come with a short introduction or you can simply share it without stating why it is important and touch upon it at the sermon.

You can also use it as a teaching tool. Choose a monthly scripture that people can try to memorize. For instance, one of the most famous of all, Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Share the Song List

People like knowing what is going to happen at the next sermon. This can also lift their spirits when they see their favorite worship songs listed. You can even include a link to a Spotify playlist to allow your attendees to prepare for the songs.

Relevant Excerpts

One way of providing teaching and filling up the church newsletter with valuable information is with relevant excerpts, links to articles, or anything pertaining to something you've read or follow. For instance, let's say you have read a particularly thoughtful or moving article online. You can easily post your favorite excerpt as a quoted item then list the link where the members can read further. Always credit the original author. This is an excellent way of providing members with information they can access on their own time and without taking up valuable sermon time.

Historical Moments

A paragraph of historical moments can be within the church or global. For example, if new ground was broken for the church 10 years ago, a write-up about that would be a nice addition. This gives the new members a better history of the church and keeps regular members aware of the past celebrations.

These are just a few ideas to foster engagement in your church newsletter. You can add things as you see fit such as social media content, prayer intentions, and ways to give, even if the member cannot be there in-person. If you want to learn about igniting generosity in your church, check out our Ignite Coaching.

Spiritual Disciplines: What Are Spiritual Disciplines?

By | Resources

When you see the word discipline, you ultimately think of a means of conditioning to be better by means of sacrificing something that you do, that you love, or that you are used to. How discipline is described in the bible is described as the instruction of the way that one should go. We are known to discipline children and pets, but we too can expect ourselves to be disciplined as students, employees, friends, and even parents. But according to the book of Hebrews 12:5-11, we are all the Lord's children, and thus, we warrant discipline.

Discipline has been highlighted best in the Bible on Timothy 4:7. Each copy of the Bible may have different wording, but what Paul basically tells Timothy is “discipline yourself to inherit godliness.”. What he meant by discipline in the original text is to train, practice or become fit, as the Greek word “gymnazo” is used, which translates to “gymnastic” in English. In Timothy 4:7-8, Paul then says “physical training is valuable, but godliness has value in all things. Like athletes who discipline themselves for physical ability, we also need to discipline ourselves to strengthen our souls for the Lord.

There are many ways in the Bible that the Lord and his people teach us how to grow spiritually, and such concept gave somebody the idea to name all these instances and name them “spiritual disciplines”.

What Are Spiritual Disciplines?

Spiritual disciplines are basically ways in which we can be holy and closer to God, not by action, but rather behaviors and how we “discipline” ourselves. Rather than being told what is right and wrong, we are meant to change habits and perspectives so that we know by instinct to identify right from wrong, do what is right, and avoid what is wrong.

Spiritual disciplines are described as different ways in which we can be close to the Lord, whether by sacrificing, putting others and the Lord before ourselves, or resisting sin and selfishness.

Where Did Spiritual Disciplines Come From?

There is no complete set of spiritual disciplines like the Ten Commandments. You cannot find such a list of disciplines in the Bible, either. The spiritual disciplines have been conceptualized by early Catholic and Orthodox churches for how to tailor their people to have strong spirits to appease the Lord.

Depending on where you look for spiritual disciplines, you will find different disciplines in different amounts. Churches tend to have unique or their own versions as a means to teach followers in their own ways.

If you are looking for some examples of spiritual disciplines, we have come up with a list of disciplines, both for abstaining and engaging in the Lord and his people.

Fasting

This may seem like a peculiar discipline. Fasting is what it sounds like; the resistance of eating food. Why we fast for the Lord, though is for spirituality. Fasting teaches us to learn self-control, and not just by resisting food. We also fast to think more clearly, making us more attentive to the Lord and people who matter to us. Fasting is not about God bending His will to ours, but bending our will to His. If you need a tip to help fast, eating fish can help you feel full and will cause you to resist eating more. Jesus also has an association for fish, such as the ichthys symbol, which allowed two men to draw two halves of a fish in the sand to let each other know of their faith without talking about it out loud.

Sabbath

According to Genesis 2:3, the Lord created everything in six days, and then rested on day seven. The Sabbath day is known as the day of rest, and nowadays, we need more discipline than ever in order to do so. God says that rest is good, but rest is not what we should do too much of. According to Jesus, the need to help people does not take a rest, so it's important to still be there to those who matter to you on Sundays.

Solitude

Solitude is considered something that doesn't seem achievable to the common man, and it may sound like solitude actually isolates us from family, but solitude is a way to escape all the noise and distractions in our lives so that we can put more attention on the Lord. Solitude isn't about being alone, but just to allow yourself to have a moment with God. Pray to Him, talk to Him, use the time to embrace Him. You don't necessarily need to be alone, either. Dedicate a place and time to be alone with God in peace and quiet. If can be a room in your home, it can be your Church, or it can be a place outside that's quiet where you are able to collect your thoughts. Setting aside two hours a month to be in solitude with God is a great way to bolster your spirit and become disciplined. Solitude is considered a discipline that may enhance other disciplines, as well.

Submission

Also known as confession, you can submit to God privately, with a trusted follower, or in public. All forms of confession and apology are acceptable to God, even if nobody is present to hear from you. Even though Jesus had never sinned, he is an integral part of confession. Without his death and resurrection, we wouldn't have God's grace and forgiveness. While sinning all makes us human, forgiveness is another thing we need from God in order to strengthen our soul for him.

Prayer

It's not possible to grow as a follower of God, but also never pray. While you can be a believer in God and not pray, your relationship with him can be dormant and stagnant. Prayer is how we communicate with God. We talk to him and he listens. Jesus has taught us how to pray humbly such as in Matthew 6:5-6. According to Luke 11:9-13, God is like a charitable father who gives us wholesome, good gifts when we ask for them. Pray selflessly, gratefully, and persistently so that you can continue exchanging thoughts and answers with God.

Fellowship

We tend to think of fellowship is social interaction with friends and family, but it is meant to be more than that. Fellowship, however, doesn't happen at random. Fellowship is meant to be a collective group of followers who all bask in the Lord's glory. In order to retain a strong faith, we all need friends and family worshiping the Lord in unison. Jesus lived in unending fellowship with the Lord, like with his disciples, and this is the basis of our fellowship with God today.

Worship

When we worship at church, many people assume that it is the same as single, but there is much more to it than that. We can actually worship anywhere, whether at church or in our own homes, wherever there is a reason to worship. When we worship God, we are acknowledging his goodliness, righteousness, and worthiness. To worship God means to admire all of his accomplishments. Worship is basically a focus of God's endless worth.

Service

According to the Colossians 3:23-24, we are all serving the Lord. When we work, we are meant to do it for God, and not for our bosses. Knowing that we work hard, God sees that we are all handsomely rewarded. To humble ourselves before the Lord, we have to act as servants for Him. If you need an example of one who served God greatly, look none other than for Jesus. Jesus had proved that the greatest are those who serve and put themselves last.

How Can I Have More Spiritual Discipline?

I may feel like an incredibly daunting task to remember each and every discipline, but we do not advise you to do so. it doesn't require knowing and memorizing all these disciplines in order to embrace all that is good, much like the Bible. Instead, here is what we suggest if you want spiritual discipline.

First, you can consider choosing one or two disciplines that you like the most and simply live by them. Whether you want to find God more through prayer or encourage fellowship among your peers and friends, each discipline can be considered its own path to you becoming a genuine person. The question isn't can you be a good person, but rather in what ways can you be a good person.

Second, you can consider simply living the way that you do now, but make decisions that the Lord would make. Help others, be charitable, don't hold grudges, call your family so they don't feel abandoned. Attending church is also a great way to find inspiration, or if you manage a church, you can teach others about spiritual discipline.

Third, you can figure out what you want you to improve in your life, whether it be your attitude towards others, your relationship with your family, a new-found habit of being lazy, business at church, or whatever you want to change for the better. You can find a discipline that can help you with a problem or two that you have and also get closer to the Lord. All in all, the answers to your questions can be found or recited to you from the Bible.

Conclusion

Spiritual disciplines are helpful ways in which you can become bolster your soul and improve your relationship with the Lord. Discipline in any form requires commitment and sacrifice, but when all is said and done, your path to God will be as clear as ever.

NewFire Giving makes it easy to accept funds and donations to churches locally and online. Get started with NewFire Giving today for beneficial tools and resources.

What To Say When Someone Dies

What To Say When Someone Dies

By | Resources

It’s hard to know what to say when someone dies. Let alone say the right thing. Sometimes it’s nothing. Sometimes it’s a lot. Sometime it’s just to listen and to love. The important thing is never to rush through grief. Be patient. And see what Scripture has to say about mourning. But know this, there’s no magic set of words. There is, however, an important role for you to fill.

Mourning and Wailing and Not Rushing

Before saying anything to anyone, understand grief takes its toll in different ways. For some the mourning process is quick. They somehow immediately rely on God, knowing eternity is in view. They see God is just and trust Him. They know they can’t change what they can’t change. So they embrace a bit of the hurt and can function relatively soon.

For most, that’s not that case.

For most, it takes a long time of wailing and crying and hurting. For many, it means not being able to function quite the same for a while. Sometimes you never function the exact same way again. You’re changed. And that is okay. It’s good, even.

You might be tempted to jump the gun and utter 1 Thessalonians. Hold on. Understand that verse first. You don't want to hurt someone by mishandling it.

1 Thess is not to stop someone grieving. It’s not your place to halt that. 1 Thess is meant to gently remind the aggrieved that our hope is living. That those asleep in Christ will live. But it connotes grief is still felt. So if you’re impatiently gauging some timeline to say “move on!” you're neglecting them and God's plan for them. It's apathetic.

Apathy is dangerous to a person’s healing. Yes, it is true and comforting that God is sovereign. But He has a plan for their hurt.

So make sure that it’s not your goal to take their pain away.

Rather, help them embrace and understand their pain. Wail with them. Hurt with them. Love them.

It’s your place to serve. To build and support the community. And sometimes that just means being around, and being open to them. And helping them find avenues to get whatever roughed up, raw emotions out.

John Piper even says eat the bitter fruit of sorrow, it helps draw near God.

It takes facing the difficulty of death, before understanding the need for the comfort of God. It’s when we look at the storm that we appreciate He who commands the wind and the waves.

Lamentations

Some yell. Some cry. Some chop wood. Or any and all combinations of things. Be there with them. Mourn with them. Lament with them. That’s the first step in understanding what to say when someone dies.

Lamenting is one of those super effective ways to get the hurt out in the open, so that you can face it. Lamenting is all about groaning and admitting how sucky this is! It’s honesty and grit in saying “I am in pain,” and it is well needed.

The heart is faint, the groans are many, and someone is gone.

It’s a hole that deserves respect and time to look into. You can’t just fill it or cover it up. You must feel empty, and pray honestly about it. Help the aggrieved too, that God may fill their hole in the time He deems appropriate.

Otherwise, the person you’re with won’t be able to move on. It doesn’t happen until they’re ready. And they're ready when God wants them to be. Until then, help them be honest before Him. He will honor that.

Fasting and Praying

While lamenting before God is a form of prayer, it’s not the only style of prayer. Praying directly for healing is another. And it’s good but doesn’t encompass the reality of what’s happened.

Instead, consider praying like Christ.

Pray that someone’s faith would not fail. It puts the trust of someone’s life and salvation in the hands of God, where it belongs.

Pray in silence with the bereaved. Meditate on Scripture with them. Together, sit in the presence of God, knowing His grace and presence are enough. Knowing He is more empathetic than any else ever could be. And knowing He will not forsake you with all that pain.

And fast.

In Scripture, when there is a death, many don’t eat. It’s okay. Let the people hurting fast in grief for their loved one. Don’t let them be unhealthy, but it’s an important part of mourning. It might be worth it to fast with them.

Even Christ said His disciples will fast once He is gone, but while the bridegroom was with them, why would they?

Well now someone is gone. There isn’t a more appropriate time to fast.

To fast in this hard time is to rely on God while simultaneously mourning. And there is no better time to mourn than while seeking after God.

Christ Weeping

As a reminder of how tough death is on people, when Lazarus died, who wept? The direct answer is Christ wept. He was moved by the fallen world, that death has come. His friend died, and it reminds how we have fallen from God.

For that reason, death is hard and it’s supposed to be. It’s separation from God and everyone else. Even though Christ was about to raise Lazarus, it still invokes tidal waves of emotion.

Therefore, Christ weeping is proof that it is a good to have that hurt.

Affirm that in people. Life is sacred and deserves to be grieved. Then remind them that Christ will raise the dead and you’ll wait together until the healing happens.

Peace in God

Death changes a person. But that change can be good. Memories, which today are sour, tomorrow might be sweet like honey again. They might be the very catalyst which God uses to push someone along the healing journey. Not only for them, but for others in mourning as well. Keep that in mind when with someone grieving.

Because healing and peace may seem far off. But it surrounds you like a mist in the morning.

There is peace in friendship. There is peace in the sovereignty of God. It may be hard to feel when the pain is loud, but it is there. Yet it's hard to see when death feels so heavy.

Truthfully, it is hard to find peace when a non-believer dies. Their fate isn’t life. And that hurts.

But having peace in God isn’t based on suffering. It’s based on unity. God’s grace is enough, and we know that. But someone who doesn’t believe in Him has no idea what that means. They are not unified with the Holy Spirit and don’t have that internal sense of God’s presence.

But God has given them you.

And you are filled with the Holy Spirit.

So, as an ambassador of Christ, your presence will be the extension of His. Go out of your way to be a consistent presence of empathy and holiness. Be loving. In that, be available to live out the great commission.

With believers, you’re a step ahead. You can access the discipleship sooner, and seek the Lord together. But with non-believers, you’re a step back, and need to be available to them.

A time to preach the gospel, for the glory of God and for their healing will come.

What you Shouldn’t Say

There are things you shouldn’t say. Sometimes you shouldn’t say anything. It’s kind of something you have to feel out. But if the person you’re with needs an outlet, you’ll get a sense of that. Help them release.

Again, they might scream. They might hit something. They might run. They might be silent. Just don’t rush their emotions.

Don’t say anything which jumps ahead of the current connection you have. Everything must come from a place of empathy, not apathy.

What you Should Say

When some of those hurting people yell, know it’s not at you, not really. But they need to exert any and all energy. Some people will need to be held. Some need an outlet as simple as going for a walk. You’ll see any and all combinations of it.

In those moments, you’ll have a chance to preach the gospel. But be mindful of the person. You need that empathetic connection first, to truly help them. Share your own story. And, very importantly, listen to them.

Be available to their needs. Once they sense that, then they will hear what you have to say.

So what is it you should say when someone dies?

It’s different for everyone. But it’s always something to let them know they aren’t alone. It’s okay to hurt. You can face the hurt together. There is hope. Especially in Christ.

Now, unfortunately, sometimes the stress of death comes with financial stress. Not everyone can afford a funeral. Fortunately, NewFire Giving has a text-to-give and text messaging service. You can reach out and see if anyone is willing to help.

Either way, your presence is what the person needs. It represents the hope of a unified life in Christ, and that is invaluable.

Christian Pick-Up Lines

Christian Pick-Up Lines

By | Resources

“Christian pick-up lines” sound a bit like an oxymoron to some, but even Christians need a way to break the ice to connect with that special someone. If you've got a crush on someone, turn it into a real-life bond with the perfect line.

Great Christian Pick-Up Lines for Dating

“I love everything about the way God made you.”

God really knows how to make amazing people. When you like or love someone, you have to love everything about the way God made them – that includes seeing the perfection and the flaws and appreciating both. While this seems like a cheesy line about thinking someone is beautiful, what this line really says is that you're someone who can grow to appreciate everything about a person and you are willing to work through difficult times.

“I didn't know angels flew so low!”

Calling someone an angel is quite a compliment. This one is a better version of the silly line “Did it hurt…when you fell from heaven?” That one is fine, but it insinuates that someone is a fallen angel, which is not a compliment to some Christians. Saying “I didn't know angels flew so low!” is a similar statement, but shows that you recognize their commitment to religion and god.

“God must have been showing off when he made you.”

When you like someone, everything about them seems amazing. You might think god was even showing off by making someone who seems so perfect for you! This pick-up line is a sweet classic that will make anyone blush.

“I can't perform miracles, and I only have enough fish and bread for two people…but that's enough for a date!”

We can all strive to be more like Jesus, but ultimately, none of us are going to perform the same miracles that he did. This pick-up line is a silly way to speak about humbleness. It says, “I may not have much, but I really want to go out with you!”

“I think the paths God made for each of us are converging.”

If you believe that God sets everyone's purpose on this earth, then this pick-up line is for you. You may see a strong crush on someone as a sign from God that this person is for you. This is a powerful Christian pick-up line for that special someone you've been eyeing.

“Is this pew taken?”

Many churches don't have pews anymore. They are creaky and uncomfortable, for the most part. However, it's still a great church joke. It is best used when you're approaching your crush before or after a church service. If it works, you can sit together for the whole service!

“Let's worship together!”

What better way to start a loving relationship than in church. This is less of a pick-up line and more of a call to friendship and to spend time together. It lets the person know you're interested in them and gives you space to see what develops naturally.

“Let's be accountability partners.”

Being your crush's accountability partner is a great way to get to know them better in service to the lord. As for accountability partners, you will both work on something you hope to improve in your life and keep each other on task. It could be something related to your personal life or to your worship or bible study habits. Improving yourselves together is a wonderful way to go from a crush to a relationship.

“Let's volunteer together!”

Volunteering at a soup kitchen, at church, or at the library is another amazing way to spend time with your crush. You will get to know them and see how you work together as a team. It's another way to let them know you want to get to know them better and see what develops without putting too much pressure on the situation.

“So, do you pray here often?”

When you see a new cutie at your church, you may wonder if they are completely new or if you've simply never seen them before. This pick-up line is a play on a common one used at bars. At church, you can use it to let someone know you want to go out on a date or pray together more frequently!

How to Deliver a Pick-Up Line Respectfully

When you are trying to use a pick-up line to ask someone out, make sure to do it with respect. You never want to make someone feel uncomfortable, especially if they are in your church community. If someone says no, take that at face value and just try to be their friend instead of asking them out multiple times.

When delivering a pick-up line, wait for a good moment. Don't interrupt your crush if they are having a conversation with someone else. Perhaps wait until after a church service or a break in a class. Once you deliver the line, your crush will probably laugh, and then you can start having a normal conversation in which you plan a time to hang out. If they aren't appreciative of your pick-up line, just move on. There will be other crushes to try them on later!

These Pick-Up Lines are for Guys and Girls

Many people believe that only guys can deliver a good pick-up line. However, these days women can also take the lead in contacting their romantic hopefuls. Just like men, it's important for women to be respectful in delivery and make sure to not give someone unwanted attention.

People of both genders need to make sure that their crush and flirtation maintains an appropriate level of interaction for their age and beliefs. Many Christians do not want to do much more than holding hands or smooching before marriage. Some families prefer parental supervision of flirtation and dating to keep teens and young adults on the right path. Keep all of this in mind when you make your move with one of these sweet pick-up lines. Hopefully, using one of them will put you on the path to a healthy and loving Christian relationship!

Thanksgiving Verses to Give Thanks and Be Grateful

By | Resources

Thanksgiving is the time to be thankful for everything you have in your life. It is a time to reflect on everything that the Lord has provided us and give back. It's a time to spend with family and the people who mean the most to you. In the spirit of the season, here are some verses of the good book that reflect this time of year, and will help us appreciate the holiday even more.

Take your time and read through these, reflecting on the wisdom they contain. Reflect on all that you have to be grateful for that the Lord has provided you and your loved ones. Let these lessons ring true in your heart not just on this day but every day of the year.

From the word of God

Psalms 7:17 – I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

Psalms 31:19 – 19 [Oh] how great [is] thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; [which] thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!

20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Psalms 50:14 – Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the most High:

Psalms 95:1-7 –

1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

3 For the LORD [is] a great God, and a great King above all gods.

4 In his hand [are] the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills [is] his also.

5 The sea [is] his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry [land].

6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

7 For he [is] our God; and we [are] the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

Psalms 100:1-5 –

1 (A Psalm of praise.) Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

3 Know ye that the LORD he [is] God: [it is] he [that] hath made us, and not we ourselves; [we are] his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, [and] into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, [and] bless his name.

5 For the LORD [is] good; his mercy [is] everlasting; and his truth [endureth] to all generations.

Psalms 107:1 – O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy [endureth] for ever.

Psalms 116:12 – What shall I render unto the LORD [for] all his benefits toward me?

Psalms 145:1-7

1 (David's [Psalm] of praise.) I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.

2 Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.

3 Great [is] the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness [is] unsearchable.

4 One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.

5 I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.

6 And [men] shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.

7 They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness.

Isaiah 12:1-6 –

1 And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.

2 Behold, God [is] my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH [is] my strength and [my] song; he also is become my salvation.

3 Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.

4 And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.

5 Sing unto the LORD; for he hath done excellent things: this [is] known in all the earth.

6 Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great [is] the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

Lamentations 3:23 – [They are] new every morning: great [is] thy faithfulness.

Matthew 6:25-34 –

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, [shall he] not much more [clothe] you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.

2 Corinthians 2:14 – Now thanks [be] unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.

Ephesians 5:20 – Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Philippians 4:6 – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Colossians 3:15 – And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Hebrews 13:15 – By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of [our] lips giving thanks to his name.

James 1:17 – Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Be Grateful

Having gratitude is one of the best things we can do for our health and happiness. Realizing everything we have been given and appreciating it instead of taking it for granted will do us a world of good. Take a few minutes to reflect on what it is you are grateful for in life.

Science is on board, with the research telling us that showing gratitude makes us healthier. We sleep better when we are grateful. It makes us more happy and optimistic, giving us a significant boost to self-esteem. We make better progress towards our own goals and are more determined.

We become more aware of our surroundings. Practicing mindfulness allows us to see the present for the gift that it is. We can learn to observe without judgment and love without fear. We form new relationships better and improve on our current ones. We automatically become more generous and trustful towards ourselves and others, showing more empathy.

Being grateful isn’t just something nice to do. It is a practice that, if done every day, will change your life. The second we stop taking things for granted is the second we can start to grow into the people the lord meant us to be. We can silence our critical inner voices and begin to take in all the signs of the Lord’s love that he’s left all around us. The world around us is a wonderful place, just as God made it. Just because we sometimes forget this fact doesn’t make it any less true. If we awaken our sense of wonder, standing in awe of the divine gifts we’ve been given, the world will acknowledge it.

Share these words with your family this Thanksgiving. Use the word of God as an instrument to express your love and appreciation for them.

To Tithe or Not?: Verses about Tithing

By | Bible Verses

Tithing is an arguable aspect of the church today. Several verses about tithing appear in the Old Testament than in the New Testament. Their place in the Bible makes tithing to appear like law. Some believers view the practice as an act of following Biblical laws. Others view the practice as a basic duty of a New Testament believer.

Believers that oppose the tithing habit are of the view that the New Testament cancels all laws of the Old Testament. For this reason, tithing does not fit in the modern church. Yet, several New Testament verses make the practice relevant.

i) New Testament Verses that Talk about Tithing

Some verses in the New Testament support tithing:

  • In Mathew 23:23, Jesus warns the Pharisees for their lack of concern for bigger matters even though they observe the tithing practice.
  • In 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 one can find lessons about giving. The verse also says that one can have enough of everything when he or she gives.
  • In Luke 18:12, Jesus talks of a story of a Pharisee and a tax collector. As the Pharisee prays, Jesus notes that he is a tither.
  • 1 Corinthians 16:2 speaks of saving something in the first week as a collection for the followers of God as one does well in life.
  • Mathew 6: 1-4 advises people to give without letting others know about it.
  • Luke 6:38 holds that a person that gives will receive a full quantity.
  • 2 Corinthians 6:1-24 points out that a person that gives according to their ability will have more wealth than he or she needs.
  • Luke 12:33 observes that a person should place their wealth in heaven since it will not get damaged.
  • 1 Timothy 5: 17-18 says that those that preach and teach earn a salary.
  • Acts 4: 32-37 tells about land and house owners that sold their personal effects and took the money to the house of the Lord for distribution among the disciples.

ii) The Relationship between the Verses and Malachi 3:10

Malachi 3:10 is the main verse about tithing. It is in the Old Testament making it a law. For this reason, believers that observe Mathew 5:17 resist it. Such believers claim that the second verse places grace above the law. Yet, the New Testament provides proof that living under grace does not excuse anyone from tithing.

A thorough study shows that the New Testament verses about tithing have a direct relationship with Malachi 3:10 in the following manner:

  • In Mathew 23:23, Jesus counts tithing as a right habit that the Pharisees observed. One should note that Jesus replaced laws with grace. Yet, he continued to appreciate the importance of observing the law of tithing.
  • In 2 Corinthians 9:6-10, one gets the subject of plenty that is like the overflow that Malachi 3:10 addresses as a result of giving.
  • One can find a similarity between Luke 18:12 and Mathew 23:23. The two verses or show that Jesus viewed tithing as the right action even with the introduction of grace.
  • In 1 Corinthians 16:2, the savings have a similar nature with tithing. Both actions bring food in the house of the Lord.
  • Mathew 6: 1-4 talks about making giving a secret. The act is like the nature of Malachi 3:10. It is one's secret to know the amount of tithe that he or she will offer. It is also the duty of a tither to calculate the value of his or her total harvest and get a tenth.
  • Luke 6:38 and 2 Corinthians 9:6-10 focuses on a common issue of receiving more than enough; like the results of tithing that Malachi 3:10 discusses.
  • The means in 2 Corinthians 6:1-24 compares to the harvest that one collects in Malachi 3:10. The amount of tithe depends on the total amount of the harvest that one collects.
  • Placing wealth in heaven, as Luke 12:33 observes, means taking a tithe to the house of the Lord according to Malachi 3:10.
  • The workers in 1 Timothy 5: 17-18 are servants that live in the house of the Lord. The servants consume food that Malachi 3:10 features.
  • The selling of land and houses in Acts 4: 32-37 compares with the harvest that Malachi 3:10 speaks about. Additionally, the act of taking the money from the sales of the property resembles the act of taking a tenth of the harvest to the house of the Lord.

The similarity of the content of the verses with the content of Malachi 3:10 makes it clear that the New Testament supports tithing as part of a practice that believers should observe.

iii) Confusing Verses about Tithing

The confusion about tithing comes from a series of New Testament verses. Romans 6:14 states that the coming of Jesus to earth brought in the grace that released the believers from the law.

Some believers claim that living under the grace of God makes tithing useless. They consider the New Testament as more important than the Old Testament.

Colossians 2:13-14 also talks about the cancellation of written laws after God's decision to save mankind. Omit, Galatians 2:19-21 talks about dying to the law to live in Christ. The two verses are against the use of Biblical laws.

iv) Making the Confusing Verses about Tithing Clear

Mathew 5:17 quotes Jesus saying that he did not come to abolish the Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets. He came to fulfill them. For this reason, tithing remains relevant in the New Testament. To reject tithing is like rejection of truth. It is a sin to a believer.

The New Testament about tithing is a proof that grace is not greater than law. Grace makes the law stronger. It makes the law more relevant in the modern church. Believers that oppose tithing need to understand the verses. Additionally, they should note that the details of the verse in Malachi 3:10 are similar to the details of the verses that talk about tithing in the New Testament.

Song Selection: 6 Must-Ask Questions to Create a Worship Se

By | Resources

Music is an integral part of the church that makes the experience lively, more entertaining, and more pleasing to attend. However, picking songs usually isn't an easy, quick, or fun job to do. It can take a long time to settle on a list of songs, or worship set, for one week alone, and it's something that has to be planned for every week of services.

What Is a Worship Set?

A worship set is a series of songs that a church plans to play for services every week. Each song has to fit with one another stylistically or thematically. This is so that your service gets its message across for why your community is summoned to Church on Sunday (or any day that you have service).

To avoid repetitiveness, churches will choose different songs for each part of the mass. This includes the beginning, the end, communion, and more. This can be very hard to do, considering that some songs can feel like they fit great with multiple themes when they have been already used weeks ago, while you're looking for songs to fill that void in the worship set.

Sometimes there are themes that are very broad, in which there are more songs that you can count that you can use. Other times, it can be troubling to find any songs to go with a theme for a service one week. For the next time you plan a worship set with other church officials, here are six questions that may help you complete worship set with confidence.

Are The Songs Singable Or Interesting?

Of course, with every song you consider for a worship set, you expect it to have it sound great and have lyrics that the community can sing along to. If there are some songs that you are considering but do not know how they play out, talk them over with your music director. How do they play on a piano or guitar? Do the lyrics sound beautiful when sung? You want to choose uplifting, cheerful, and energetic songs for the entire worship set. You would like your churchgoers to sing along, feel energized, and make the church service lively.

Songs that have a sad or somber theme, or have lyrics that are dull or hard to understand can actually do the opposite. A singable song with a cheerful melody can allow members of the church to sing louder. Every now and then you may come across a song in another language like Hebrew or Latin, and while they may sound beautiful, you would always like to have English lyrics that other people can sing along to. At church, old people want to feel young and young people want to feel wise. The right songs are capable of doing both of these things, making them great to sing at any age or demographic.

What Do I Think Of The Songs?

This may be an obvious thing to point out, but if you are not sure about a song yourself, there are some things that you can do to help make a sound decision. Imagine standing or sitting in a pew during a church service and hear the song playing. Do you feel right at home, or is something rather off? As somebody who is listening to these songs as they play, what do they mean to you?

It may require you to read the whole lyrics and listen to a couple of verses, but if nobody has listened to the song before it is composed on Sundays, how will you be sure whether or not it will fit the mold?

Do The Songs Have Meaning?

It's one thing for songs to have great, and even catchy melodies. You want songs to entertain your church, but do the songs tell a deep story is another question. For a song to be used for your worship set, it has to be about the Lord and His righteousness, first and foremost. You would be surprised at how many songs for worship do not mention the Lord at all, and instead, just contain lots of fluff in it. Some of them could even just be a pop song if you replaced the word “Jesus” with “baby”. Church services should try to choose meaningful songs rather than play what might sound like karaoke.

If you happen to find a good song for a worship set, but it may not be all that fitting for this week's service, save it somewhere to use for another week. The week that you need that song can make it all the more easy to complete a worship set. Many churches happen to do this for multiple songs.

What Does The Pastor Think Of The Songs?

Of course, your pastor might have listened to hundreds of songs in your songbooks already, as well as other songs from other books that he may like or dislike. Of course, you likely cannot confirm the worship set for the week without your pastor's knowledge. But, having him involved with the worship set, even with only input, can make you and other officials feel more confident in what gets chosen.

As a matter of fact, your pastor probably has a number of favorite songs that are played for certain themes in the prayer service. If you are having trouble finding songs for the worship set for a given week, going to your pastor for help is never a bad idea. Whatever choices your pastor recommends, you can feel certain that you're making great choices. This is not only because the pastor might know a thing or two about worship music, but because it won't be possible for him to question your decision on song choices since they are his.

What Would The Lord Think Of The Songs?

You may ask for opinions from other church officials and even your pastor, but what about the Lord? Of course, the Lord cannot give you the answers to specific questions you ask, but he can tell you through instinct.

When picking out songs for your worship set, do you choose them with 100 percent confidence? Might you have some guilt or hesitation, even if you have everyone else's approval? Sometimes, the Lord can signal you on whether or not your songs are good choices. If you have doubts about one or more of your song choices, that's simply the Lord's way of telling you that there are better choices out there for this week that you need to find.

Do These Songs Resonate With The Church?

Where you are headed and where you want to go as a church can also play a factor in which songs you want to choose in a worship set. Are you looking to appeal to a new demographic? Is your current demographic still your main priority? Not only can you choose songs to get young or old people more involved, but songs that appeal to certain demographics can actually cause more people of that demographic to come to your church from word of mouth. If your churchgoers are in love with your music choices, they will definitely recommend your church to other people that they know, leading to more seats being filled each week, and more funds you may receive.

Conclusion

With a great worship set, you can be sure that you have a series of songs to keep churchgoers engaged and create an overall positive atmosphere each Sunday. If one or two songs just miss the mark, you have next week at least to learn from your mistake and make a more informed decision.

Links:

https://spreadworship.com/blog/choosing-songs-for-worship/

9 Questions To Ask When Creating A Worship Setlist

Worship Set List Tips for Powerful Worship Times (Podcast Episode 8)

https://www.newfiregiving.com/church-revitalization-a-guide-to-church-revitalization/

https://www.newfiregiving.com/youth-group-activities-10-super-fun-youth-group-activities/

Church SEO

Church Seo: Church SEO Best Practices to Get Your Church Found

By | Resources

The Church is called to become the city set on a hill, a beacon of light in a world surrounded by darkness. And to step up to such a noble calling in this modern-day society, your church has to make it to the top of Google search results. Here are the SEO best practices that help the church swing it.

Location, Location, Location

When people search for a church on Google, they’ll likely include their specific location in their search term. If not, Google will take the initiative and display local churches first. This is why it’s very nifty to include your location details on every page of your website. And the best way to do this is to add your address in schema.

Schema markup is a code you can paste into your website’s HTML so search engines can easily read and identify your church’s physical location. This also ensures that you have a uniform address on every page of your website, i.e., Street will always be spelled “Street’, and not as “St.”.

Mind Your Key Phrase

Think of your audience. What key phrases do they type in Google to find your church? If you don’t have any idea what keywords people are using to get to your site, fret not. You can install Google Analytics on your website so that you don’t have to give yourself a headache with guesswork.

Google Analytics should be able to tell you what keywords visitors are using to find your church website. Other nifty information like which websites or social media sites refer them and which page they’re browsing on your church site is also available.

Another way to come up with key phrases is to go to Google Keyword Planner and discover keyword ideas. You’ll also get to check how many people on average are typing in those keywords every month. Simply key in your church website URL and the tool will generate keyword ideas.

Once you have your keywords and key phrases, make sure that you optimize your webpages using these. Specifically, you’ll want to have those phrases in these strategic places:

  • Title Tags.
  • Page URL
  • Images
  • Meta Description
  • Content

Go for a Responsive Web Design

As more and more people search for stuff on the web using their smartphones and tablets, Google is keeping up with the trend by prioritizing websites that display well on a host of devices. The onus is on you then to opt for a responsive web design for your church website.

This is not just for search engines’ sake, either. When your webpages render well regardless of what kind of device your audience is using, you’re making it easier for people to find and connect with your church.

Put a Name on it

A picture may paint a thousand words, but if you want to optimize it for the search engine, you’ll have to use words too. While people can easily see that people are having fun just by looking at images, search engines won’t know what it’s all about when all it can read is a bunch of words and letters like IMG8769.jpg.

That’s lost opportunity there when you can come up with a relevant key phrase like “fall festival in Orange County”. Search engines can better identify what the page is all about just with that simple tag and you have better chances with getting that page indexed and ranked for that specific key phrase.

Google My Business

This is a key area that you should focus on for your church SEO. First, you need to create a Google account for your church to get the ball rolling. If your church already has an email address, use that one to create a Google account.

Then, log on to that Google account and search your church on Google. Once you find it on Google’s local listing, you will notice links underneath your church name and address that say: “Claim this business” and “Suggest an edit”.

Check out the name and address displayed. If it is correct, click on “Claim this business”. If not, click on “Suggest an edit” to correct the information displayed. Just follow through with the next few steps so that Google can verify that you have the authority to represent your church or make some changes to the listing. It may take a phone call or postcard to complete the verification process but it’s definitely worth the effort. This will singlehandedly put your church on the map–literally.

Invest Time in Your Blog

Having a blog on your church website is another way you can reach out to people who have yet to come to your church. Give them reasons to come visit your website regularly with fresh new content even when they can’t attend the church service just yet for whatever reason.

Besides, it’s not just people who’ll be attracted to those new content. The search bots will be onto your new page as it goes live on the website. And when you have lots of pages indexed by search engine bots, you’ll have better chances of making it into Google’s search result.

Remember: Google Loves Google

Google loves its own, there’s no doubt about that. Thus, utilizing some Google properties on your website can be a boost to your SEO efforts. And these are pretty nifty tools to embed in your church website as well:

  • Google maps. Embed this on your “Contact Us’ page. Aside from the SEO cookie points, this is a practical tool that gives driving direction so that visitors can easily locate you.
  • YouTube. On its own, YouTube is hailed as the second largest search engine, boasting of more than 3.5 billion searches per month. No wonder, even dental practices find it worth their while to post on this popular video-sharing site. Now, take stock of those videos of sermons and events that your church has. Upload those on YouTube and then embed the video on your site. You’re hitting two birds with one stone with just this practice.

Ask for Reviews

Having reviews on your local listing is a sign to search engines that your church is an active one with real people talking about it. Besides, review from real people holds some weight to potential visitors as well. Those reviews are social proof, the kind that can influence people’s decision-making. So, ask church volunteers and long-time members to leave an honest review on your church’s listing to get the ball rolling.

Fish for People

Remember that SEO is not the ultimate goal. It’s just a tool to connect to a wider audience — especially people who are actively looking for a church they can belong to. So while SEO is worth all your effort, you must always remember to write your content with people in mind. This means, don’t overdo on those keywords and don’t write like a robot. Mentioning your keyphrase five times in a 500-word article is just unnatural and your audience will know that instantly.

Even at an age when everyone’s competing to make it to Google’s first page, the church’s call will still be to fish for people, not search engine bots.

Your church’s online presence is an excellent way to reach out to people who have yet to come to a Sunday service. We live in the digital age where most people are online, so the church must go where people congregate. The online platform is an excellent spot to shine your light before men for the glory of your Father in heaven.

Bible verses on giving

Top 10 Best Bible Verses on Giving For Tech-Savvy Churches

By | Bible Verses

Giving to the church can be a touchy subject. While most of your flock may be already familiar with the concept of tithing, it’s common for pastors or leaders to find themselves reluctant to ask. There is already so many financial burdens their flock is responsible for and asking for help may feel like the last thing you want to do.

To give you more confidence when asking for donations, let’s go back to the Scriptures and see what they have to say about the topic of Giving. Perhaps there are certain mindsets you need to overcome. Or maybe, you just need new inspiration to encourage your church to give. Whatever the reason, here are 10 top Scriptures that will help you on this topic:

Luke 11:13

If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

Encourage your flock to see how giving starts with the Lord. He puts it in our hearts to help each other, like a close-knit family would.

Hebrews 13:16

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Modern sacrifices mean the giving up, or the foregoing of certain pleasures. It may feel like a sacrifice to give—especially when you don’t have much in the first place—but this is the true spirit of giving.

Malachi 3:10-12

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

Tithing goes way back to the Old Testament. People did it to show their loyalty to God, and support the priests and servants of the Lord. In return, God promised them such a bountiful harvest. Encourage your ministry leaders that giving to the Lord always has its rewards, either physically or spiritually.

Luke 21:1-4

As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

The story of the Widow’s mite is a beautiful example of the kind of giving God is most pleased with. It doesn’t matter how much you give—it matters how meaningful your gifts are.

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

The wealthier members of your church can also set a good example with their giving. If you feel like they would rather give donations anonymously, a Giving App can help to make the process easy.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8

 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

No one should ever feel forced to give. The Apostle Paul makes it clear in this Scripture. If it is not done with genuine love, it is not true giving.

Proverbs 11:24

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

Again, the difference in abundance we can experience depends on our capacity to give and share.

Matthew 10:8

… Freely you have received; freely give.

Giving does not always have to be financial. Volunteers give their time; members of the church can organize swaps, or barters, if some folks prefer to give of their blessings in this way.

Acts 20:32-35

“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Although there are spiritual rewards for giving, teach your church members early on that this should not be the incentive.

Matthew 6:19-21

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The purpose of a pastor is to continually lead his or her flock to the “treasures in Heaven”. Thus, by setting an example of priorities, your fellowships can become inspirational places of worship. Resist the urge to promote commercial, materialistic, or financial gain. Any fundraising you do should not be an opportunity for the wealthier to “show off”. Rather, a time of unity, where all can come together and be blessed by the act of giving.

For more ideas for motivational Bible Studies, church activities, and holiday-themed programs, or how to get started with digital solutions for giving, check out our donation management software and the New Fire blog.

tips for pastors

Tools For Pastors: 15 Must-Use Apps and Tools for Pastors

By | Resources

As a pastor, you do God's work in thousands of ways. In addition to leading services and explaining God's word to parishioners, you are called upon to provide loving counsel to parishioners in crisis and officiate at weddings and funerals — plus help keep the church doors open by participating in financial decision making and hiring congregational staff. It can be overwhelming to try to get everything done each week. Fortunately, in today's world, there are many mobile apps and online tools to help you.

Time Management Tools

Time management is key to your success as a pastor. You'll need to be able to keep track of all of your obligations to your church community, such as appointments with parishioners, wedding rehearsals, and interviews with potential new staff,

Our top choice for time management is Google Calendar.

Google Calendar has several advantages for a busy pastor:

  • You can add new meetings or appointments on the go using Google Calendar for your phone. Just push a few buttons and you're all set!
  • You can sync your calendar on your phone and computer. So if the church receptionist adds a new appointment for you on her computer, you can see it right away on your phone.
  • You can color-code entries. Want to see at a glance what special events you're doing this month or how many counseling sessions with parishioners you have scheduled? Just look for the ones marked in a certain color.
  • You can get notifications on your phone and in email. Set the calendar to notify you an hour or half an hour in advance so that you never miss an appointment.

Our runner-up time management choice is Unroll.me

Unroll.me is an email management application, but we consider it a time management tool because many pastors find that going through all of their emails takes a significant chunk of time out of each day.

Unroll.me filters email for you so that you only see high-priority messages (based on the filters you set up). It also sends you a daily digest of your emails so that if anything slipped through the cracks you can see and respond to it.

This tool helps cut down on time you spend going through email and helps ensure that you respond to high priority emails in a timely manner without wasting time on emails that are less important before you get to the most vital communications.

Sermon Writing Tools

Obviously, writing sermons is an important part of any pastor's job, and there's never going to be a tool that can do it for you. However, there are a couple of tools that can help make this important task easier.

Our top choice for sermon writing tools is Evernote.

Evernote is a web and phone app that, as the name implies, allows people to take notes. But this tool can also do quite a few other things.

  • The note taking function is similar to a word processor. You can type an outline or your entire sermon in the app. You can also do voice dictation if that's more comfortable for you.
  • The Evernote web clipper is an extension of the Evernote app that you can add to your browser. This tool allows you to save anything you find online to your Evernote app so that you can find it easily if you want to refer to it while writing your sermon.
  • You can organize your sermons and associated notes using the notebook feature. Notebooks are like folders on a computer; you can create several notebooks and put sermons, notes, and other information into their own notebook.
  • You can share notes with others, so if you need feedback on your sermon or you want to include an excerpt in a church newsletter, you can grant the relevant people access.

Another tool you might find helpful is Trello.

Trello is an organizational tool that replaces the old note card system. Using this tool, you can create lists and add cards to each list. For example, while planning your sermon you can create a list for each theme and create a card for each point you want to hit that is related to the theme.

Trello also has some associated tools that are helpful. You can assign a due date or a color code to each card, filter cards by color, or add a checklist to a card to help you keep track of things you need to do.

Financial Management Tools

As a pastor, you know how important financial management is to your church's operations. Collecting tithes, keeping track of expenses, and preparing financial reports are important behind-the-scenes stuff that you need to be involved in if your church is going to keep its doors open and provide valuable programming for parishioners!

Our top recommendation for financial management is Tithe.ly

Tithe.ly helps churches collect tithes more easily. It is a mobile app that allows parishioners to donate to the church on the go.

  • You can customize your tithe.ly page to include a church logo or photos of your church.
  • Parishioners can donate via the app using credit/debit card or wire transfer.
  • You can set up a text-to-give option so that users can donate by sending a text to a five digit number.
  • You can set up a mobile kiosk so that users can give without having to create an account on the app
  • The app generates monthly financial reports for you so that you can see at a glance how much money your church is receiving through tithes.

This app helps encourage giving because users can give at their convenience and don't have to worry about whether or not they have enough cash on them on Sunday morning. It also ensures that parishioners give from the heart rather than giving because they don't want their fellow parishioners to see them skip the collection dish.

Our runner-up in this area is Quickbooks.

Quickbooks is an excellent tool for keeping track of church finances. You can sync it with church bank accounts so that it automatically captures transactions, categorize those transactions, and run expense vs. revenue reports and any other financial report you need.

Conclusion

Being a pastor is a big responsibility, but there are many tools you can use to help make it easier! Let us know how these tools work for you, and if there's another tool you find useful, make sure to send it our way.

Taking My Church Events to the Next Level

By | Resources

Sponsoring community events takes a lot of work. There are so many moving pieces to coordinate and get right for the event to run smoothly. If you pull everything off, though, hosting events is a fantastic opportunity to engage with the members of your community and to attract new faces. So let’s talk about some things to keep in mind so that your next event will be the best it can be.

Find the Right Event

Every kind of event will have more or less success, depending on the interests of your members. The best thing you can do is find something that is going to connect with your current members. Get everyone involved and find out what kind of event interests them.

Balancing interest with the cost of the event will help get you an idea of which event will have the best return. Unlike business, your ROI isn’t strictly financial, but the more people you can reach for the lowest cost, the more you can optimize your scheduling and engage with many more people for the same budget.

If it’s something that has a lot of interest, it will be easier to find enthusiastic volunteers, and build the kind of enthusiasm for the event that you want. Your members will encourage more friends and family to attend. You will be able to reach more minds and engage more hearts by starting with the right event.

Some ideas for events include:

  • Concert
  • Family Movie Night
  • Super Bowl Party
  • Block Party
  • Art show
  • Lunch Event
  • Parent’s Night Out
  • Raise Money for Charity
  • Talent Shows
  • Yard Sales
  • Car Wash

Try organizing one of these events, or get creative and use these ideas as a starting point.

Keep in touch with your members.

The importance of keeping everyone who cares about your church up to date on current events can’t be understated. Today, keeping in touch with people is expected.

Set up a monthly calendar so that your events can take priority for members. Encourage people to add your events to their Google calendar. They can see far in advance what they want to do with you and can schedule the chaos of daily life around those important events.

Keep your website and all the social networks that you are active in up to date. More and more, that is how you interact with people daily. How else are they going to know about your events?

Get the word out

It’s hard for someone to attend an event they don’t know about. Prayers aren't enough to get your message out there. As soon as you set the date, start letting everyone know about it. Reach out to your entire community. Tell them what’s happening in your newsletter, online, send them an automated phone call or text, make sure that they know what’s happening.

Used car dealers aren't the only ones that need to advertise. The whole point of advertising is to let as many people as possible know about what is going on and to try to target the people who will be most interested. Reaching out beyond your circle is how you are going to attract new people.

Stay Organized

One person can’t do everything alone. A great event comes together with the effort of many different people giving a hand. You need people you trust. Get a few volunteers on board to help. Delegate tasks to your volunteers. If you are running multiple events, having someone else in charge of planning each event puts a lot of the burden off of your shoulders.

Assign job duties to everyone who wants to help so that it is clear who is responsible for what. They teach the same thing in first aid training. Shouting to a crowd for someone, anyone to call 911 to get help only results in a crowd of spectators. Singling people out and giving them specific tasks makes sure they get it done. You will get better results if everyone knows what they are supposed to do and when.

Organize for the even in accordance with the size of it. A simple luncheon might only need a few group emails to coordinate. A large festival with half a dozen activities might need a dedicated chart to keep everything clear and make sure no details get overlooked.

It’s tempting to live by the old mantra that, “If you want it done right, do it yourself,” but you aren't more productive. You are creating a bottleneck that everything has to come through. You will be able to get a lot more done without touching it yourself, and allowing other people to take over will allow them to add their touch. The result is almost always better when other people can work together.

Communicating is critical to pulling everything off. Make it easy to communicate with planners by setting up a consistent day of the week to discuss everything. They will know when they can reach you, and you will have an easier time fitting everything else you need to into your week.

Focus on the Experiences of those who attend

The events that you hold are a huge selling point for the value that you can offer someone for joining your community. It might be the first interaction they have with your church, or it might be what shows them what it will be like to be part of this community. Focus on what you can give them, not what they can give you.

Have a goal for your event. There should be something you are trying to get people to try or do with each event. Think about what the appeal for your event will be for existing members and new people just joining for the day. Think of a great theme to have the event act as one cohesive whole. Have fun dressing up the venue with creative decorations. Think about things you haven’t done before. If you spend money on decorations, try to make them as versatile as possible so that you can use them more often.

Don’t improvise the activities for the event. Have them planned out, and assigned with each detail taken care of. Think creatively about what you can do at each event. Make the activities something that you will want to participate in too.

Be creative with the food. It doesn’t need to be the same potluck at every event. The food is often the biggest attraction for the event. It pays to get it right.

If you can manage to get all your ducks in a row, you’re on your way to hosting events that the community will love while demonstrating your value to potential new members.

The Widow’s Mite: A Spiritual & Financial Model for Church Leaders

By | Resources

Generosity is preached a lot in Christianity. We covet it and strive for it. We generally try our best to give as much as we can, but how much are we holding back? How much are we preserving for our security and safety?

We talk about someone willing to give you the shirt off their back, but we rarely stop to think about the significance of this act. The idea is not to give a surplus, but everything we have available to give. It’s the act of giving, even if it means there won’t be enough for ourselves. Let’s talk about selfless giving, and not holding anything back as we give everyone around us every single thing we possess.

In the parable of the widow’s mite, the widow gives two mites to the church. The Gospel of Mark says that two mites are worth a quadrans, the roman penny. This leaves the poor widow literally penniless. She held nothing back for herself, and it was this deep level of generosity that so moved Jesus.

Mark 12:41-44 41 And he sat down over against the treasury and beheld how the multitude cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a poor widow, and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than all they that are casting into the treasury: 44 for they all did cast in of their superfluity; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Luke 21:1-4 1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men that were casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, This poor widow cast in more than they all: 4 for all these did of their superfluity cast in unto the gifts; but she of her want did cast in all the living that she had.

As a model for the spirit

We must not judge ourselves by what others do or give. If we give all that we have to give to the lord, he will provide for us. The sentiment in your heard is worth more than anything the world can produce. Going through life with genuine generosity in your heart is the righteous path.

What we give to others can’t be measured in numbers. Even if all we have to offer is out time, giving all we have is the righteous thing to do. Living by this creed will lift you higher than riches ever could. Even during our fleeting time on Earth, giving warms the heart more than receiving ever will.

We can blame the oxytocin or the dopamine that’s released into our bloodstreams. We are social animals after all, and what makes people happy isn’t how much we have, but how much we connect with other people. If we can manage to give more than we get, then that mindset will spread to those around us. It is other people that should be in our prayers, not ourselves.

These benefits will extend far beyond this life, as well. It is these traits in his children that the lord cherishes most. Generosity and selfless acts are the quickest route to God’s good graces. Your actions will be rewarded.

This belief is supported not just by the bible but by a diverse array of ideologies and beliefs. It isn’t only Christians that are taught to be generous. Buddhists and Hindus also believe that to give is better than to receive.

Science is even starting to back up these beliefs. Research has shown that volunteering may improve your mental health. Volunteers were less likely to be depressed and suffered less severely. They were more satisfied with their lives and had a better sense of well being than people who don’t volunteer.

As a financial guide

The most valuable donations we have to give aren't the ones provided by the wealthy, but those who already have so little. Donating to the church might seem like a luxury that you can’t afford. It may seem like you will be better off by saving that money for your next vacation or a new car. However, the key to being happy is in giving.

It’s not about how much you spend. It’s about who you spend it on. The research has shown that spending money can make you happier. If you spend money on others, that is. Giving to others or charity makes people happier. A random survey of US citizens revealed that spending money on other people correlated with greater happiness, but spending it selfishly had no effect on long term happiness.

Those results were verified in the lab. At the University of British Columbia students were given envelopes with money in them. Some were told that they had to go and spend the money on themselves by 5 pm that day, while others were given the same time-frame to spend it on someone else. The students tasked with spending the money on other people were happier. The amount of money was changed from 5 to 20 dollars, but the outcome was the same. This was in contrast to what students believed would make them happier.

The takeaway here is that our instincts will push us to be selfish. We believe that putting all our money and efforts into ourselves is what will make us the happiest, but it won’t. It’s the people giving as much as they can to others that are the happiest in this life and the next.

There are many lessons that the bible teaches us if we trust in its wisdom. This is but a small offering. But it is not the small offerings that are worth the least.  The more we can take the time to learn from the small things, the better off we all will be.

church management tips

How Software Streamlines These 10 Church Management Tasks

By | Resources

Seventy-eight percent of churches use digital tools to automate many of the tasks associated with church management, such as congregation engagement, budgeting, and planning worship meetings. Here are 10 church management tips — and how you can use software to automate everyday tasks.

#1. Fundraising

Religious organizations receive 31 percent of all charitable donations in the United States. However, many local places of worship find it difficult to track donations and meet fundraising targets.

The latest donations software like NewFire Giving makes it easy for members of your congregation to donate to your church — and it's a lot more convenient than passing the collection plate around every Sunday morning. Donors can set up recurring donations, you'll be able to find out where your money is coming from, and you can optimize the donor cycle.

The latest analytics provide you with real-time insights into your fundraising drives, too — auctions, garage sales, ticketed events, you name it — and you can identify areas where your church underperforms.

#2. Accounting

Many church budgets across the US are decreasing, and you might want to keep a closer eye on your finances. The latest software lets you do exactly that. Accounting programs provide you with valuable financial metrics so you can track your income and expenditure from one centralized system, without relying on several different pieces of software.

Accounting software makes it so much easier to control your finances and identify new sources of income that will benefit your congregation and the local community. Usually, you can store this information in the cloud and access it from any device, anywhere in the world.

#3. Emails

Many members of your congregation have probably signed up to your mailing list, and email is one of the most powerful communication methods in the digital age. With email, you can notify your congregation about church events, service cancellations, and other important information about the church and the local community.

Email automation tools expedite communication between you and your congregation, and you can use this technology to personalize and automate your messages. You can save your content in the cloud, too.

#4. Social Media

More churches are using social media than ever before, and websites like Facebook and Twitter are powerful communication tools for raising awareness and increasing engagement.

The latest social media tools update your social media pages automatically, and you can receive the latest insights about which messages resonate the most with followers. You can use this data to fine-tune your future marketing strategies and increase online visibility.

#5. Disaster Recovery and Data Management

Many churches still rely on hardware to save important church information and documents — hard drives, floppy disks, etc. However, natural disasters like fires and floods can render this physical tech unusable, while cyber-criminals can hack these devices and access sensitive information about your church members.

There's a solution. Using cloud-based tools will let you store data in a virtual environment, away from your church building. This way, you can access information quickly in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.

Utilizing the cloud will not only boost your security credentials but allow you to access accounting, church membership, and other information from any device when you are away from your church building.

Currently, four out of five large churches (with 1,000 weekly members of more) and 55 percent of small churches use the cloud for church management.

#6. Increase Church Membership

Fewer Americans attend church every week than they did in the past, according to a recent study. However, many churches are using the latest technology to increase membership.

Using marketing tools will spread awareness about your services and other church events. These tools make it easier to create and manage digital marketing campaigns that encompass blog posts, social media posts, and other communication methods.

#7. Engagement

Engaging with your congregation is important as it encourages people to attend more services and events at your church.

Church letters still prove useful but, often, the information in these documents becomes out-of-date by the time it reaches your members in the mail. Using digital tools to notify members about community events and church activities is far more useful.

You can use software to send out SMS messages, for example, about upcoming church events or canceled services because of bad weather.

#8. Inventory Management

It is important you manage an inventory of church supplies and equipment for compliance and insurance purposes. Using digital tools to facilitate this process will save you time and a lot of hassle.

Inventory management tools keep track of all the supplies you order and you can re-order products automatically when stocks are low.

#9. Time Management

Many church leaders are extremely busy — they have hundreds of tasks they need to complete on a daily basis. Church scheduling tools optimize time management, so you can attend appointments and focus your energies on other duties.

This productivity tool will help members of your team carry out their day-to-day tasks and reduce workloads.

#10. Tax Filing

Although the majority of churches in the US have tax-exempt status, you will still need to file annual returns to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Tax management is, sometimes, complicated and time-consuming, but the latest financial tools make the entire process much easier.

Tax management software will help you file the right forms and meet IRS deadlines. This way, you can budget more effectively and control your finances.

The 10 church management tips above optimize the way you run your place of worship. As a result, you can better control finances, increase membership, improve fundraising, and much more.

Want to grow church donations? NewFire Giving lets you collect money from your congregation and the local community in a safe, digital space. Click here to find out more.

20 QUESTIONS YOU MUST ASK TO KNOW YOUR CHURCH'S HEALTH 
IS YOUR CHURCH "SICK"? FIND OUT IN 2 MINUTES.

WAY TO GO!

YOUR CHECKLIST IS ON THE WAY

} }); });