For our Pastor’s Column series, Jeff Urban of Bear Creek Christian Church in Rochester, MN shares how Bear Creek does ministry and outreach in mobile home parks. The Bear Creek community has a heart for providing for those who lack material goods, relationships and connections to others. They model their home repair program after Habitat for Humanity, yet Bear Creek serves those who don't have adequate income to quality for Habitat. This church believes the gospel calls the Church to use its resources to meet real-world needs, in this case for repairing homes in disrepair. Photo Courtesy of Post-Bulletin.
As we approach the 2016 Presidential election, we wanted to know how pastors are navigating the political season. We asked a number of pastors to contribute as guest authors; some wouldn't touch the topic with a 10 foot pole, others like Pastor Kory Kleinsasser, lead pastor at Waite Park Church agreed to write this thoughtful piece about transcending the political chaos. We are encouraged by Pastor Kory's message of rising above fear, division and cynicism, and putting our trust in God knowing Jesus taught us to transcend the petty arguments of the day and to take an eternal, divine perspective.
As we approach the 2016 Presidential election, we wanted to know how pastors are navigating the political season. Pastor Jeff Heidkamp, co-lead pastor of Mercy Vineyard Church writes about why he doesn’t think the Bible has anything to say about American “uppercase P” Politics, but has a lot to say about “lowercase p” politics. Pastor Jeff shares when he believes it is appropriate for a pastor to become partisan, and a practice he implements that helps him to gain empathy for those who see the world differently than he does.
As we approach the 2016 Presidential election, we wanted to know how pastors are navigating the political season. Carl Nelson, president and CEO of Transform Minnesota writes about his observations this election season; including the political diversity of American evangelicalism, and how he believes a Biblically-informed policy platform will be in conflict with both major parties. As God’s people, Carl believes we are called to be servants, not masters, and trust that the renewal of our culture is a result of transformed hearts, not elected officials.
As we approach the 2016 Presidential election, we wanted to know how pastors are navigating the political season. Dr. Matthew St. John, lead pastor of New Hope Church in New Hope writes about three truths he knows this election season: "God is in charge, and His say is final. I must respond to what my Spirit-shaped conscience dictates, and offer charity to those whose choices differ from mine. I must honor the candidate that is victorious, if only because my Lord, in His written revelation, has commanded me to do so."
Rev. Anne Vining, senior pastor at First Covenant Church St. Paul, shares her deep need during the holidays for the intentional spiritual practices in Advent. The season of Advent is this rather counter-cultural invitation to wait, and to courageously choose hope over fear and despair—regardless of the state of our world, because Emmanuel, God with us, has come and is coming again!
2017 brings a new year and with it a new President which some pro-lifers hope will usher in change to the landscape of abortion across our nation. Tammy Kocher, Executive Director of New Life Family Services writes about how being pro-life extends far beyond the polling place and laws created to protect life. Christians must address the social and economic barriers that lead women and men to abortion clinics. Being pro-life is about more than saving babies. It is also about raising children. Together, we need to work towards creating a culture where the Church supports life decisions, helps mothers and fathers build healthy relationships and families. And supports them in their practical struggles while nurturing their spiritual development.
Read Ashley Barnd's experience on this Journey to Harmony as a biracial women who is in ministry in Bloomington with her husband. Ashley writes on having a deep visceral connection with the people who came before her and how they inspire her to keep pressing ahead regardless of the enormity of the task. In February, 30 Twin Cities Pastors went on a Journey to Harmony, touring Civil Rights Sites in the South. A handful of these participants wrote up their reflections to share with the Body of Christ in Minnesota.
Read Pastor Andrew Gross' experience on Journey to Harmony of being undone and put back together on this pilgrimage. And how he tried to humbly open his hands and invite God to help him learn and absorb whatever it was God desired for him. In February, 30 Twin Cities Pastors went on a Journey to Harmony, touring Civil Rights Sites in the South. A handful of these participants wrote up their reflections to share with the Body of Christ in Minnesota.
Read Pastor John Sommerville's experience on Journey to Harmony of being humbled by courage, humbled by shame, and finding hope in the grace of God that empowers us to work for harmony within the Church. This journey offered Pastor John the opportunity to learn, understand, mourn, repent and pray, as we ask God to help build bridges and speak up for healing and harmony within the church. In February, 30 Twin Cities Pastors went on a Journey to Harmony, touring Civil Rights Sites in the South. A handful of these participants wrote up their reflections to share with the Body of Christ in Minnesota.
Read Dr. Charles P. Morgan's, CEO of Union Gospel Mission, experience on this Journey to Harmony as he discovers more about the African American struggle for freedom and the equality that still doesn't exist in today's America, and how the conversation about racial equality and justice still lacks the proper vernacular, clarity and moral conviction. Yet, Dr. Morgan explains how he came away from this journey more hopeful than ever. In February, 30 Twin Cities Pastors went on a Journey to Harmony, touring Civil Rights Sites in the South. A handful of these participants wrote up their reflections to share with the Body of Christ in Minnesota.
Read Pastor Kevin Walton of Bethany Baptist Church's experience as he confronts the horrific past and misery inflicted on African Americans by American white society, and the struggles he had identifying as a white man, as a participant and beneficiary of a historically unjust society. Yet, Pastor Walton explains how he was encouraged by how God sustained His people in the face of evil, and the healing and transformative reconciliation offered at the cross of Christ. In February, 2017 30 Twin Cities Pastors went on a Journey to Harmony, touring Civil Rights Sites in the South. A handful of these participants wrote up their reflections to share with the Body of Christ in Minnesota.
Rev. Dr. Charles Gill reflects on his experience on the Sankofa journey, and how this trip violated the sanctity of his safe space. He writes about the residue of pain, humiliation, and shame in the African American experience, that he found he cannot wash off. And how as the trip progressed, Rev. Gill found many of those emotions began to leak out from under the locked door of his soul. Read what Rev. Gill is doing and what he desires for next steps as a result of this trip. In February, 30 Twin Cities Pastors went on a Journey to Harmony, touring Civil Rights Sites in the South. A handful of these participants wrote up their reflections to share with the Body of Christ in Minnesota.
Pastor Moisés Gómez writes about how the Evangelical Hispanic community and Hispanic Churches are feeling and responding during this tumultuous time in our country. He believes Hispanic pastors in Minnesota have been given the task of strengthening each member's Christian roots, reminding them that God is in control of all things. Pastor Moisés Gómez is a journalist from Mexico who currently resides in a suburb of Minneapolis. He is the founder and director of the first Christian magazine in Spanish of the Twin Cities, Salt and Light (www.revistasalyluz.com).
Nowadays, especially in light of the new president’s administration, virtually everyone wants to be a prophet. Discernment is of paramount importance. For those in the “school of the prophets” as well as those who are trying to discern the holy among all manner of uttering, Dr. Dennis Edwards offers four principles that guide his prophetic ministry.
Portia Allen, Local Project Director at River Valley Church writes about how attendees at River Valley's 8 metro campuses make themselves available to their respective communities by being present and volunteering at community events and by partnering with local organizations to help them serve local residents. Allen shares the framework by which River Valley chooses to do local outreach in each community, and why it's important for a church to ask itself if outreach meets a real need in its community.
Kicking off the first of our Pastor's Column Generosity Series, Pastor Bill Goodwin of Lighthouse Christian Church in Rosemount shares about the power of being generous, and how to get over the fears that hold us back from being more generous. Pastor Goodwin outlines Abram’s model of generosity, and challenges us to answer if we believe we are a good investment in God’s Kingdom.
In the second Pastor’s Column in our Generosity Series, Pastor Rod Carlson, Senior Pastor at Oak Hills Church in Eagan writes about similarities shared by churches that are the most generous. He shares a lesson he learned about what our giving reveals about our beliefs in the abundance of God or our fear of scarcity. Read more about how trusting in the Lord's generosity has allowed Oak Hills to bless missionaries, their community and their congregation.
In the third Pastor’s Column in our Generosity Series, Brad Hewitt, the CEO of Thrivent writes about how generosity helps make us wise with money. He shares the importance of making acts of financial generosity as a way of imitating God, who gave us all. Read more about how a healthy relationship with money is part of the abundant, surplus, full life Jesus promised his followers.
In recent months I’ve had the opportunity to hear directly from leaders in churches about life in ministry. I’ve hosted listening sessions with small groups of diverse church leaders, I’ve been a part of conference planning teams and retreats with pastors from rural communities and cities across our state, and I’ve traveled with 30 pastors on a 4-day civil rights pilgrimage. As we interact with and serve leaders in our evangelical network, I am heartened to know personally the many leaders who make up our evangelical network in Minnesota. These Godly pastors have hearts that ooze with compassion for people who need Jesus, and they accurately recognize that Christians must emphasize our identity in Christ and unity of the Body to bridge societal divisions.
What we witnessed with Hurricane Harvey is a new breed of storm altogether. It was the most extreme rainfall event ever observed in the United States, that may prove to be the costliest natural disaster in our nation’s history. Meteorologist and Evangelical Environmental Network Board Chair Paul Douglas writes about the compelling evidence that the warming climate we’re experiencing could be turning up the volume of weather extremes. The pain, disruption and dislocation of a rapidly-changing climate will be felt most by the world’s poor. Douglas appeals to Christians to acknowledge our new climate reality as we have a spiritual obligation to pay attention and to care for the least of these. Hear more from Paul Douglas at Transform Ideas: Creation Care on Thursday, September 28 (7-9pm) at Elim Church, Minneapolis.
How the Church Can Respond to the Nations at Our Doorsteps? “When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner among you must be treated as your native-born.” (Lev. 19:33) Arrive Ministries Executive Director Bob Oehrig offers some loving ways of how individual Christ-followers and our congregations can respond to our new neighbors, as such groups as Burmese, Iraqis, Ethiopians, Nepalese, Somalis and Liberians now join our children in schools and in our communities. Oehrig also shares practical examples of how Churches can partner with Arrive Ministries' programs to reach out with friendship and practical service, as we follow Jesus' command to “love the stranger."
For a post-abortive woman, simply hearing the word ‘abortion’ in church can be unnerving. However, not hearing abortion discussed in church can also create shame, further stigmatizing and validating a desire to keep a past abortion hidden rather than to seek healing. In a recent study, forty-three percent of women were regularly attending a church at the time of their abortion. This puts the Church in a difficult situation. How is the Church called to talk about the sanctity of human life, without ostracizing and further condemning the men and women who have been through an abortion experience?
Carl Nelson shares why in a world filled with human suffering and more and more tragedies, he has growing hope in the Church.
For our Pastor's Column series on evangelism, Pastor Brian Gingrich of Hillside Church in Bloomington writes about how community is inextricably related to their evangelistic endeavors; how a context is created that is both nonthreatening and mutually interesting. Find out how coffee and badminton have cultivated a culture of outreach and authentic relationship-building. And Pastor Brian shares some important lessons he's learned about evangelism and Millennials.
Pastor Jordan Borer Nelson, of Shiloh Temple International Ministries shares how he leads weekly evangelism efforts in North Minneapolis. The community is one of the poorest communities in Minneapolis. But he says Shiloh is blessed to welcome those who have been delivered from drugs and gangs, and those who struggle with poverty, lack of education and lack of proper resources. Find our how Pastor Jordan models the church's evangelism efforts after Jesus.
At Transform Minnesota, we believe the Church needs to tackle mental health. Our Spring 2018 Transform Ideas forum is focusing on the Church’s response to mental health. This is a personal testimony from Pastor Ned Eerdmans of CrossRoads Church in Fergus Falls. With strength and vulnerability, Pastor Ned shares his story of battling severe anxiety that crippled him, his marriage and his identity. How he found help and hope in his diagnosis through treatment, honesty and prayer.
Rev. Chong Yang of St. Paul Hmong Alliance Church gives us an in-depth look at evangelism in the Hmong community, starting with a basic understanding of the ancient cultural beliefs of shamans (witch doctors) and sorcerers. Rev. Yang shares how spiritual encounters and attacks are common in the Hmong community (Christians and non-Christians alike). And how Hmong churches need to have a strong foundation in the work of the Holy Spirit and His empowerment of healing, deliverance, and spiritual warfare, in order to share the Gospel to Hmong people.
Berean Baptist Church in Burnsville, MN was included as #10 among the fastest growing churches in the country, according to Outreach Magazine. Pastor Brent Birdsall says he cannot point to a strategic plan, specific program nor evangelistic effort to credit the growth. But, here he shares three observations he’s noticed while reflecting on Berean’s stewardship of that growth.
Gail Gisi's reflection of the 2018 Sankofa journey. Gail is the Director of Adult Education and Training at Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities. Here she writes about the way the “lens” of her mind and heart was adjusted in just four days, and the many lessons she learned while traveling with this team.
Rev. Dr. Dennis Edwards' reflection of the 2018 Sankofa journey. Dr. Edwards is the Senior Pastor at Sanctuary Covenant Church. Here he writes about the questions and feelings that arose in him after seeing a lynching memorial listing names from Laurens County, SC - where his mother was raised.
Kenya Mejia's reflection of the 2018 Sankofa journey. Kenya Mejia is on staff at The Urban Refuge Church in Minneapolis. Here she writes about being inspired by the brave Civil Rights workers who fought for equal rights, and as a woman of color, how their struggle bolstered her sense of identity and self-worth.
Dr. Greg Boyd’s reflection of the 2018 Sankofa journey. Dr. Boyd is the Senior Pastor at Woodland Hills Church. Here he writes about his initial reluctance to going on this group journey, and yet how hearing the stories of the African-American brothers and sisters journeying with him had a profound impact on him. Dr. Boyd shares how this experiential and relational journey to slavery and Civil Rights landmarks devastated him, hurt him and changed him.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions' comments regarding immigrant families, and his citation of Romans 13:1 as the basis for obedience to the laws of the State, represent a deep misunderstanding and misapplication of the relationship between the Church and the State that is consistent with the misunderstanding of Romans 13 that has long plagued the Church. The Christendom interpretation of Romans 13 has warped our view of the relationship between the Church and State. The New Testament shows little interest in proper statecraft; rather, the New Testament shows concern for how the Church will witness to Christ. As a Church in these challenging times, we are going to need a much deeper and more reflective understanding of the many ways we have been made a pawn of East of Eden powers, and untangle ourselves from these misunderstandings that have done so much damage to our witness, and to our ability to live out the heart of God in the world.
Good planning is only part of moving a church forward, plans have to be executed. A lead pastor must keep a finger on the pulse of the church to ensure movement is happening. In larger churches, this can be delegated through staff; in smaller churches, the pastor typically has to be that point person to keep things progressing. Read five areas that require leadership and attention from the lead pastor to help move plans to action.
What is a Corporate Chaplain? Deb Eigen shares about her ministry in a marketplace setting and how she aims to build up each employee at Aagard Corporation through encouragement, emotional care, prayer, and resources.
Rev. Amy Luukkonen serves as a Chaplain in the Shakopee Women's Correctional Facility. Here she writes about doing ministry in such a confining environment, and how she's found a humble acceptance that God is working to create a sacred space even amidst all of the boundaries of prison.
Pastor Bruce Talso is a volunteer Police Chaplain for the Brooklyn Park and Champlin Police Departments. He writes of his role as a chaplain to meet the needs of grieving family members while helping them process traumatic experiences. He also ministers to the police officers in their service to the community.
Rev. Nicole Smith serves as a Chaplain at Hennepin County Medical Center - a level 1 trauma hospital. She shares about the powerful role of silence and listening when visiting patients in the hospital. And in a beautiful poem, Rev. Smith writes about the healing power of tears.
Lt. Col. Philip Winn Jr. serves as Chaplain for the Minnesota Army National Guard. He writes about the unique places he has conducted worship services, and the ways he takes God's presence with him when ministering to our armed forces. Chaplain Winn shares the importance of caring for the religious, spiritual, ethical and moral needs of our country's Soldiers and families.
Rev. Judy Marks is a Chaplain at Senior Facilities across the Twin Cities. She leads a ministry that advocates for the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of senior citizens. Judy shares why Christians can't neglect our senior citizens, and how we can show Christ's love through a ministry of presence.
Rev. Rick Chilton reveals, behind the barbed wire, the inside of God’s glorious model of prison restoration. Rev. Chilton is a high risk Minnesota Prison Chaplain working with the incarcerated Federal, State and local community focused on spiritual restoration with achieving a sustained, self-sufficient, grace-filled transition back into society.
Rev. David Myles writes about the story of the three Hebrew boys (in Daniel 3) standing up to what they considered wrong in the face of the nationalistic, popular beliefs and practices. Rev. Myles likens the Hebrew boys' refusal to bow and worship the golden image King Nebuchadnezzar set up, to NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem. In the future, under a new national leader, Rev. Myles warns it could be Christians' religious fidelity and liberty that is being challenged based on similar arguments. "Is it possible that what you are supporting today will be used against you in the future in a similar or same manner?" "It might not only be kneeling in protest, but also kneeling in prayer that will be called into question," Rev. Myles argues.
Ten tips to consider as a springboard for conversations in your church on how to promote healthier relationships among men and women. Pastor Amy Rowell, the Community Life Pastor at City Church in Minneapolis longs to see the Church reflecting an accurate image of who God is by how we relate with one another as men and women. Read how we can empower our sisters in Christ to use their gifts in whatever capacity they can to serve the Church.
Like a geyser of water finally breaking through the surface, suppressed for a variety of reasons, are the stories from brave women who have in some cases risked a lot to share their stories. Women need spaces where their voices are honored. We are all better and stronger when a variety of voices are invited to the table and honored. It helps us understand one another. To learn from one another. To step outside of ourselves and experience another’s story. To move forward in unity and love. To truly be the body of Christ.
Woody Roland, a Transform Minnesota board member and the pastor of missions at Autumn Ridge Church in Rochester wrote this Op-Ed piece for the Rochester Post Bulletin on December 11, 2018.
Churches of all shapes, sizes and flavors have one thing in common: they want to grow. The bigger question is: how willing are you to lead change? Growth and change are synonymous. As a ministry consultant and coach, Chad Hunt has seen many pastors sacrifice growth to keep people happy and avoid discomfort. They want results without change. Here Hunt shares three changes leaders avoid making, which can prevent church growth.
Pastor Peter Haas writes a pastor's column on God's plan for sexual brokenness. He writes "all of us have sexual brokenness. Yet, God’s plan isn’t to oppress us but set us free." This blog also acts as a resource for various questions Substance Church has received about marriage and sexuality, along with Bible and research advice.
Pastor Terry Parkman is the NextGen Pastor at River Valley Church. He writes about the importance of tying purity to God's will when mentoring teenagers. He writes how compromising purity, loses a bit of who God created us to be. Pastor Terry writes about the importance of pre-decision in a dating relationship; deciding beforehand what one's standards are, not in the midst of lust or emotion. He shares how guarding your heart begins with giving it to the One who crafted it in the first place.
In this month’s pastor’s column, Dr. Akin Adeniyi writes about what pastors need to be talking about these days. He encourages pastors to balance messages that promote salvation of souls and edification of saved souls. Dr. Adeniyi shares eight truths he believes pastors need to be reminding their congregations. And above all, that pastors should seek to talk about what Jesus would be talking about if he was physically ministering on earth right now.
Sondra Samuels writes about how she believes pastors need to be sharing a more relevant message about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection that will resonate with teenagers. As teenagers in her life and work increasingly deal with anxiety and isolation, her hope is that pastors will teach how Jesus' life and message of love, power and hope can address all that is going on in their lives. Samuels is the President and CEO of the Northside Achievement Zone, working to end the achievement gap in North Minneapolis.
"I have always known that Klansmen were terrorists. I could easily identify their distinctive dress (white robes) and their symbol of terror (the cross). But sometimes the things you know fail to really hit home. It was not until I was face to face with those symbols at a museum in Birmingham, AL that I saw the true tragedy and tasted the true terror," writes Pastor Jason Meyer, while reflecting on his 2019 Sankofa Journey.
"I was eager to find my place in history. Would I have had the bravery to march with Dr. King? Could I have been counted among those who sat bravely at Woolworth’s to protest the immorality of segregation?... (Later) I found myself in Birmingham, standing on the wrong side of love–and history," writes Pastor Mike Tong, while reflecting on his 2019 Sankofa Journey.
“To assume I would have done differently is the height of arrogance or ignorance. The fact is that most of us are simply products of our culture and society, not independent actors. Most people simply will not act counter to our cultural environment. People do not think alone,” wrote Pastor Kory Kleinsasser, while reflecting on his 2019 Sankofa Journey.
“Several of the stops on our journey brought about an eerie, spiritual connection to my ancestors which was initially unsettling. As we continued, this sensation shifted from eeriness to empowerment as it gave me confidence that the strength of my people who endured these hardships still has the power to be a catalyst for true reflection,” wrote Elder Kyle Jeter, while reflecting on his 2019 Sankofa Journey.
"Pastors, we need to recognize the importance of soul care in our own lives. If our souls are depleted and dry, chaotic and overwhelmed, this internal state will undoubtedly spill out upon all we encounter," writes Dr. Christine Osgood. In order for the soul to be well, Dr. Osgood suggests we need to care for and invest in six interrelated dimensions: your body (physical), your thoughts (cognitive), your feelings (emotional), the people (relational) you consistently engage, your calling, mission or purpose (meaning), and your spirit (spiritual).
"Sabbath is the only one of the Ten Commandments that we brush off as not really that important. But it’s the longest and most descriptive commandment, the hinge words between how we relate to God and how we relate to each other. It’s not a throw-away comment. One day in seven, God says, you stop all work, because you are not to be defined by your output. You are all simply and completely human beings, alongside one another, all beloved children of God," writes Rev. Kara Root, Lead Pastor at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis.
In the overall life and ministry of a church, the gift of a pastoral sabbatical is a relatively small thing, and yet the benefits it reaps are abundant and lasting. Rev. Christian Ruch writes about who all benefits from a pastoral sabbatical.
"Ministry is demanding. Serving the Lord and others can be like a roller coaster with its ups and downs. Therefore, prioritizing personal time weekly and extended time seasonally to unplug from the demands for some personal soul care is not only important, but a necessity," writes Bill Goodwin.