What a winter this has been! Most of the United States remains shivering into March with snow cover on 49 of the 50 states. It reminds me of the old English hymn:
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago
But these cold months have also reminded me of the importance of the conservation and stewardship of our energy resources. Here are some hints, adapted from “Green Faith” resources, that will not only save you some money, but will also help teach stewardship principles to your congregation:
- Have your congregation make a formal commitment to conserve energy as an act of christian stewardship.
- That sounds simple, but when congregations make a commitment and publicize it, they are not only making a stewardship witness, but are also more likely to change behavior in both church and home energy practices.
- Choose an “Energy Steward.”
- Without making energy somebody’s job, conservation slips through the cracks. Most congregations have someone who loves finding new ways to save some money without hurting the congregation’s ministry.
- The Steward should establish a baseline for energy use, monitor monthly use in relation to the baseline, report on conservation measures to the governing body and work with the pastor to oversee energy education that emphasizes the spiritual principles of conservation, not just the financial savings. Click here for the CTCR report on Stewardship of the Environment.
- Establish a baseline and a target for energy use.
- Without a baseline, you won’t know if you’ve saved energy.
- Gather your past two years’ energy bills.
- Compare the monthly energy usage figures (not cost) to previous periods.
- Set goals for quarterly and annual energy use, mindful that seasonal variation from year to year is inevitable.
- Aim for a 10% reduction in relation to the baseline during your first year.
- Identify energy conservation measures.
- Your local utility company can often provide an energy audit. Click here for specific hints.
- Evaluate results, praise, publicize and take the next steps.
- Have your Energy Steward monitor and report on financial and environmental impact. Remember, you’re educating about good stewardship and the link between energy, the environment, financial responsibility and our calling to be faithful stewards of the gifts God has given us.
- Publicize your success; praise your leaders! Write a news release for your newsletter and local paper stating that your church is a leader in energy conservation stressing that your church believes care for the earth is a Christian value, a response to the generous blessings God has given and his call to be stewards of this world and its environment.
For more help on environmental stewardship, see the “Green Faith” web page.
Another resource for energy stewardship is the Environmental Protection Agency. It offers a host of resources for congregations under a program called Energy Star for Congregations. Most congregations can cut energy costs by up to 30% by investing strategically in efficient equipment, facility upgrades and maintenance. Materials provided by the EPA are especially helpful for congregations entering a building or remodeling program, but excellent resources are also available to help educate your members in proper stewardship of energy in their own homes.
Art is President Emeritus of the Southeastern District, LCMS, and a Regional Consultant in stewardship and capital funding for LCEF. Dr. Scherer is developer of LCEF’s popular Consecrated Stewards series and author of the new Gift of Joy Bible studies.
(Header: Derivative work of “Light Bulb” by Patrick Edqvist.)
Rev. Oscar Benavides is the Executive Director of LINC North Texas. Here he shares with LCEF blog readers about leadership in ministry:
According to one statistic, ninety percent of students in the United States attend a public school, and it’s no secret that many of our public schools are struggling at best. The worst part is that politicians, school administrators, teachers and parents are very frustrated but can’t seem to change the downward spiral. What role does the Church play in public education? Does separation of church and state prevent the Church from helping?
Four years ago, my wife and I were invited to speak every Friday in a classroom of a public middle school and teach 70 teens on the topic of “leadership”. Part of that teaching included doing three parent workshops. We were amazed at the results of changed teenagers and families. The experiment worked so well that the school district hired our organization, LINC North Texas, to teach at their eleven middle schools and high schools with over 1,200 students. We could not do it by ourselves; we hired part-time facilitators from local churches to help us reach these students. LINC North Texas trains church staff/volunteers to go into the schools, teach our curriculum and help the families. This work led to several Bible studies for parents, ESL classes, financial literacy classes and now a new church.
Though we can’t teach the Bible in the classroom, we teach biblical character and leadership. The power and application still results in life-change. There is no law against Christians volunteering and helping students and families in public schools. We are commanded by Jesus to go into all the world; public schools are no exception!
It doesn’t take much to notice that the teachers and administrators are desperate for help. Most don’t have the resources and capacity to make a significant impact on students and families. But your church does! Many churches continue to wait week after week, but the crowds are not coming to church services. In most places the Church has to go to where the crowds are with a servant attitude, not its own agenda. Schools need to see real transformation that can only come through the love of the Gospel. We can do more than just hand out backpacks to needy students; we can be the presence of Jesus to them.
Is God calling your church to be part of the transformation of students and their families in your community?
My prayer is that your church will see the public schools as your next frontier!
Rev. Oscar Benavides is the Executive Director of LINC North Texas in Dallas and is a small group leader at the LCEF’s Fall Leadership Conference in San Antonio. He is also the community development consultant for the Five Two Network. www.lincnt.org
Greg Bearss is a church planter and the founding pastor of LakePointe Lutheran Church. Here he shares with LCEF blog readers about leadership within the church:
Greg Bearss is a church planter and the founding pastor of LakePointe Lutheran Church. Greg, his wife Kristi, and four children live in Hot Springs Arkansas where they started LakePointe Church. LakePointe began in 2006 with 10 families and a passion for reaching people who are far from God and now averages over 750 in weekly attendance. Pastor Greg currently serves as lead pastor for LakePointe Church and the Mid-South District Church Planting Executive. You can follow Pastor Greg on Twitter @Pastor_Greg or www.gregbearss.com or go to http://www.lakepointefamily.com for more information.
Matt Peeples Lead/Founding Pastor of The Point, shares with readers about leadership in ministry:
A lot of churches are considering doing a mobile app, but aren’t sure if it is worth the money. From my experience it is worth every penny and then some!
When we launched our app in March of 2012 over 50% of all data usage was by mobile devices. In one year that number sky rocketed! Just look at all the people you see using smart phones. A study in the November 2013 issue of Inc. Magazine showed that 72% of men and 62% of women don’t go an hour without checking their smart phones. Many companies are running hashtags with commercials because they have found most people play on their smart phones while watching TV. The experts even go so far to say if your site is not mobile friendly it is worthless! Be honest, how many of you take your phone with you to the bathroom? Ok that’s not a statistic; it’s just a little anecdotal evidence.
The numbers are clear, our society is a society that demands information on the go and in the palm of your hand. That is why a mobile app is a huge opportunity for the church to meet our culture where they are with the Gospel. After seeing the results of having a mobile app at our church, I wish I would have done it sooner. It has more than paid for itself.
To date, our church has an average attendance of 230 people a week. Since launching the FREE The Point Knox app in 2012 we have seen 3,394 downloads, over 17,935 page views and over 100,000 impressions. We use it to run all our Connection Group content, and even have people give their weekly offering through it. Many of our first time attenders said they listened to us on the app before coming out. One person said they used the app for an entire month before coming out. In a church where the average first time visitor is disconnected from church this says a lot about the effectiveness of a mobile app.
How do you get started?
I know the idea of figuring out another piece of technology makes you want to take early retirement, but it’s easier than you think to get a mobile app. Here are a few quick tips to help take your church mobile.
- Find a good CMS (Content Management System). Identify who you want to build your app. While your friend down the street could probably make you one, I would suggest going with a company that builds them with a Content Management System platform. A CSM is a huge help. They are easy to use, and easy to teach your staff to use. Bottom line you want this to make an impact NOT take up all your time. We used, thechurchapp.com. They have a heart for ministry, the lost and making the mobile app process easy for churches!
- Figure out your focus. Like anything you do, you need a focused vision for your mobile app. Why do you want to launch one? For The Point Knox app the answer was simple, outreach and discipleship. We wanted this to be a tool that helped disciple people in the faith and a resource that they could use to share The Point with their disconnected friends.
- Figure out what platforms the app will run: Apple, Android, and Windows all run with different size specs, which can be a HUGE pain! This is another reason to get a CMS. This is important because you want to be on as many platforms as possible (iPad, iPhone, Android, tablets, etc.) While it might cost a little more ($20/Month) upfront to be compatible with everything, it will be worth it in the long run!
- Promote it. We share our mobile app on our website, tell people they can use it every Sunday morning, talk about it in our advertising and put a QR code on any promotional material we do. We want to get the word out there so people can use it. It has not only become a new front door, it has also generated community buzz on the local news. Here is a link to the first story that ran about our use of technology. It was a huge boost for us in our first few years as a church.
So is it worth the cost?
I would have paid twice as much after seeing the impact an app has had on our church. I truly believe the discipleship and outreach benefits far outweigh the cost! It has become a huge outreach and discipleship tool for our church. More than that, it is a tool that speaks to Millennials. To my generation technology is a native language, and it is one you have to learn to speak if you want to share the Gospel in our culture.
So take a leap of faith, and give it a shot! From what I have seen when it comes to a mobile app for your church, the benefits far outweigh the cost!
Matt Peeples is a church planter in Knoxville, TN. He is the founding pastor of The Point and is the 2012 Fred E. Leitz Mission Award Winner. Matt has a passion for reaching people far from God which has lead him to experiment with various forms of outreach and marketing designed to target the disconnected. He currently lives and works in Knoxville, TN, with his wife Liza and son Brooks.
This is a true story that conveys a deep truth. I was on a capital stewardship campaign teaching about prayer, for the adventurous undertaking this congregation was engaging. There were about 100 people present when a little girl walked up to me from the side and politely tugged on my suit coat. She was about 8 or 9, I would guess. I was in the middle of making some great points that I’m sure everyone wanted to hear, so, I just as politely turned to her, bent over for a second and said, “I’ll be with you in just a second, honey,” and then turned to face the room – which was now looking at her.
As I inhaled to continue, a lady in the front row put her hand over her mouth as the little girl grabbed the side pocket of my suit coat and pulled less politely. Because I was almost finished, I held up an impatient finger and said into my microphone, as pastorally as I could, “Just a second, honey.” While my index finger was still pointing, I turned my head for just a moment before – she tugged the hardest and third time with her neck craned upward inviting eye contact.
A parent, (or at least a parental looking person) started to leave his seat with a “What do you think you are doing!?” look in his eye directed at the persistent girl. I forced a smile to him, held up my hand to indicate, “I got this” and then, turned, knelt on one knee and faced the polite but tenacious girl. The look in her eye and the trust and fear on her face invited me to give her a full embrace.
I took her hand and walked in front of the podium with her standing in front of me, my hands on her shoulders, I thanked her for pre-arranged help to teach the deep truth lesson of Luke 18:1-8. It was the story of Jesus teaching the disciples to “always pray and not lose heart.” Pray like a widow going before an unjust judge (who fears neither God nor man), who, although she is small, vulnerable and powerless, kept persistently, incessantly, perpetually, enduringly…asking.
There it is.
Don’t leave his side. Keep tugging even if he tells you to wait. Pull again on his coat, and again after that. Look for his loving response. Don’t stop.
Yeah, pray like THAT.
As a consultant and pastor coach for Capital Funding Services (CFS), Karl provides exceptional spiritual counsel to pastors and congregations in their pursuit of God’s mission. Karl is author of “The Love Paradox: Lead Others by Loving Your Self.” The accompanying discussion guide, workbook and other resources for well-being are found on his website, KarlGalik.com.