Virtual Prayer Meeting to Begin New Year

Church of God Prayer Ministries Coordinator P. Douglas Small will lead a national virtual prayer meeting to take place from Sunday, January 1, 2017 through Sunday, January 22.

Carmel Teens for Life Club Receives Wide Support

“As we celebrate the anniversary of the Bill of Rights, the Carmel Teens for Life Club learned that free speech cannot be taken for granted,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents the high school students who lead the club.

Christmas Children’s Book Release: ‘A Nativity Christmas’

Just in time for Christmas, author Tawney Anderson has released her new children’s book: “A Nativity Christmas.” Tawney has combined her talents as a playwright and theater director to create a unique host of characters that bring this Christmas story to life. Combined with animal character illustrations, “A Nativity Christmas” creates theater of the mind that will leave a heart-warming impression in the minds of all children and their families, while exemplifying why we celebrate Christmas.

Ten Tax Developments that Affect Churches and Clergy

Several important tax developments in 2016 will affect 2017 tax reporting by ministers, church staff, and churches. Richard Hammar lists the top ten developments in the January/February issue of Church Law & Tax Report, including:

Prague Added to ‘Send the Light to the Cities’ Initiative

Prague, Czech Republic, has been added to Church of God World Missions’ emphasis on “Send the Light to the Cities.” Christ’s Birthday offerings will in part go toward a ministry center there.

Why Church Services Should be Live Streamed

There’s a persistent myth about church live streaming that needs to be put to rest: The idea that once you go live online, your members will stop coming to the services. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t have statistics; I can only give you my experience with the hundreds of churches we’ve worked with around the world.

By Phil Cooke

Over and over, as we help churches live stream their services, the actual Sunday attendance in the building goes up. In other words, putting your services out there online for others to see actually draws more to the Sunday service.

There are plenty of amazing live stream stories. I was speaking at a pastor’s conference in Oklahoma this year and met one pastor who preaches to 700 people in his congregation. But his live stream is viewed by an average of 10,000 people each week.

We worked with a large church in the Southeast who actually gets as much as one-third of its total income from the live stream audience. In fact, one Sunday, the pastor called me, excited to share that the previous Sunday, the church received more donations online than the congregation gave in the offering plate. That’s unusual, but it does happen.

Think for a minute about former members of your church who have moved but would like to stay in touch. Students who have left for college, business people in the congregation who travel. Missionaries you support. I can tell you that whenever my wife and I are on the road on a Sunday morning, she always opens up the laptop and watches the live-streamed service from our church.

The bottom line: There are millions of people outside the walls of your church who need to hear your message. Certainly you won’t reach all of them with your online service, but the fact is, if you’re holding back from doing a live stream, you won’t reach anyone beyond those walls.

If you’re a pastor or church leader interested in live streaming, ask any questions in the comment box, or contact our team. We want to see your message reach as many people as possible, and a live stream is a relatively inexpensive and effective way to make that happen.

Phil Cooke has produced media programming in nearly 50 countries around the world.

(Source: ministrytodaymag.com)

Keys to Renewing Evangelistic Growth in the Local Church

“What can we do to help the churches in our state become more evangelistic?”

“We need more good evangelism programs. Why aren’t you providing them?”

“Why are we reaching fewer unchurched people than we used to?”

State Prayer Leadership Training Slated for January

Church of God State Prayer leaders will meet in Cleveland, Tenn., from Tuesday, January 10 through Thursday, January 12, 2017 for Prayer Leadership Training.

Discernment: The Most Neglected of Spiritual Gifts

Those who walk in the fullness of the Holy Spirit have access to the nine “power gifts” mentioned in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. These gifts include prophecy, speaking in tongues, miracles and healing—and many Christians are eager to receive these supernatural manifestations of God’s power.

Religious Freedom Bill Heads to President’s Desk

The U.S. House of Representatives passed and sent to the President’s desk the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (H.R. 1150).

Jesus the Savior at the Center

The following is submitted by Day Gardner, President of National Black Pro-Life Union:

Men & Women of Action Event Spreads Cheer in Appalachia

HINTON, WV — More than 55 volunteers, with tractor-trailers and U-hauls full of toys, coats, food and blessings rolled into southern West Virginia recently, determined to spread the spirit of God’s love and holiday hope to families in need throughout Hinton.

Christianity Today Receives $2 Million Capacity-Building Grant

Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded a $2 million grant to the nonprofit, global media ministry Christianity Today in support of Christian thought journalism and to help sustain meaningful discourse in the digital age.

Engaging Biblical Principles in Today’s Health Care Environment

With a new year on the horizon, many Americans are once again facing difficult health care decisions because of the health insurance requirement still in force under the federal Affordable Care Act. This is especially true as the open enrollment deadline of Jan. 31, 2017, is just around the corner.

Samaritan Ministries International (samaritanministries.org), with 64,000 members (210,000 individuals), has practiced health care sharing through a biblical lens for 22 years. Its focus has been Christians helping other Christians with their needs as the Bible instructs in Galatians 6:2, which says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (ESV).

“Every day we hear from people who are in a health care crisis of sorts, especially now during open enrollment,” said Anthony Hopp, Samaritan’s vice president for external relations. “Samaritan Ministries works to bring health care back to Biblical basics, applying the definition of Biblical community to health care. Our members share medical burdens with one another on a monthly basis, which means about $23 million is sent from household to household. Why do we do this? Because Jesus told us to love one another.”

Hopp noted that health care sharing ministries like Samaritan are exempt from the individual mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Members of these ministries who share each other’s health care needs are not required to pay any penalties, as this approach to health care satisfies the federal requirement that individuals purchase insurance or pay a penalty.

He added that Christians may choose a health care sharing ministry like Samaritan for a variety of reasons, such as the Biblical teachings of trusting in God, caring for fellow believers, and desiring to obey Jesus’ commands to love one another, which includes sharing each other’s burdens.

A Samaritan Ministries member family from Denver says they are “grateful to have Samaritan Ministries.”

“It shows our family that Christians do take care of each other. And we serve an awesome God who heals us. We are in prayer always for our Samaritan family.”

Today, Samaritan Ministries members from all 50 states and several foreign countries are directly sharing their health care needs from household to household. Those with health care burdens also receive notes of encouragement and prayers from the Samaritan Ministries member community.

For more information, visit www.samaritanministries.org, or follow the ministry on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

(Source: Christian Newswire)

Evangelical Ministers Call on Trump to Protect Religious Freedom

Activists will be holding signs with Christian women wearing head coverings to stand in solidarity with their Muslim neighbors and friends.

Agree ’17 to Feature Virtual Prayer Event

The Church of God International Offices is conducting a three-day revival, from Tuesday, January 10 through Thursday, January 12, 2017. The campus-wide event is part of a three-pronged emphasis entitled “Agree ’17.”

Pastor Responds to Crimes Against Humanity Charge

Liberty Counsel filed a brief opposing the latest efforts by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) in its lawsuit against Pastor Scott Lively, in which SMUG seeks to silence and impose significant financial penalties against Lively for his speaking and writing about his biblical views on homosexuality. Liberty Counsel’s filing is in response to a brief filed by SMUG as a last ditch effort to save SMUG’s case from dismissal after it utterly failed to present evidence supporting its claims at a summary judgment hearing last month.

How Change Reveals the Spiritual Foundation of Our Lives

This past week’s estimate of third-quarter real GDP was positive. The annual rate of growth was an annualized 3.2 percent, which was 0.3 percent higher than the previous estimate and 0.1 percent higher than expectations.

Freedom House Christmas

As schools in Kenya wind down in preparation for the Christmas holidays, several hundred children in a remote village face the possibility that their Christmas may not be one of cheer, but of hunger. With their school closed for the holidays, the children will no longer be receiving meals through Freedom House, which requires the use of the school kitchens. The use of these facilities while school is not in session is disallowed by Kenyan government policy.

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