Sports strengthen church

Sports Strengthen Scottsdale Congregation

Church grows through sportsA local Scottsdale church has been reporting steadily increasing congregation numbers thanks to the addition of various sporting activities for both youth and adult members. The church has found that families are significantly more active in church activities when there are sports involved. The Scottsdale church has found that sports lead families to be much more social with other families, which grows lasting bonds with one another and creates a stronger Christian community.

Some of the church sporting activities that have had the best turnouts are group golf outings, youth soccer games, family softball events, and church bowling nights. These events have proven to not only bring out families that are already within the congregation but also new families who weren’t previously members. A lot of people can be a bit hesitant to join a new faith community, however, group sporting events seem to take the edge off and make joining a church more fun and welcoming.

On a particular Saturday golf event, the Scottsdale congregation had four families who weren’t already members in its church show up to play golf. There, the congregation had a group golf lesson where they learned to putt and received some amazing golf putting tips. After the event, all of those four families decided to go to church the next day (Sunday). They were asked why they decided to join, and they all answered that they had such a nice time playing golf with the other families that they would like to visit the church.

Another event that turned out well was bowling. Similar to golf, multiple families from within and outside the congregation showed up and played a couple games of bowling on a Saturday. On Sunday, the families that weren’t previously members of the church decided to go to mass with their new friends.

It seems that choosing sports that members of all age groups can have fun playing, no matter their physical fitness has the best results. The other sports mentioned, youth soccer and family softball games, are great to strengthen the congregation but are better for families that are already comfortable with each other.

Here at http://calvaryscottsdale.com/ we think sports is a fantastic way to strengthen your congregation.

Rats In The Church Basement

The Scottsdale Church Has Rats

rat found in basement

We were notified Sunday that there were rats in the basement of the Scottsdale location. The basement is used to store boxes containing props, decoration, and various other items used through the year for religious holidays. Christmas and Easter decorations top that list. We also keep tables and chairs there for the events when we host weekend celebrations. While taking inventory for the upcoming holiday season, one of our members noticed that there were some unwelcome guests living in the basement. There were multiple rats spotted when the lights turned on, they quickly scurried through an opening in the wall that led to the exterior of the property. This was a bit concerning because of the potential hazards they pose for disease. Rat droppings can spread diseases like hantavirus and can become deadly for children and the elderly. Considering that many of these decorations are placed out on tables with food and beverages during holiday events it was important that not only did we cover the hole in the wall, wash all of our linens and props, but that we also treated the property for rats and other rodents that may take a liking to the basement of the property. Our Scottsdale location is an older property and has also had some cockroach problems that need to be treated. We contacted an exterminator in Scottsdale that had experience with pest control in the area and provided an affordable quote and a timeline for the treatment. They were able to come out the next day and treat the property for rats, termites, cockroaches, bed bugs, ants, spiders, and scorpions. We have seen all of these insects on the property at various times during worship hours and figured it would be best to treat the property for everything at the same time. They also set out traps for the rats, we would rather have them captured and killed then poisoned and wondering off into the walls of the church and dying off. Because the property is older and the surrounding area has older buildings that are not maintained we opted in to on-going maintenance. They will be out monthly to spray the property and check the traps for rats. This should provide us with a sanitary property to worship and enjoy fellowship during the holidays without having to worry about infestations and disease.

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The Anvil of the Evangelical Mind

Schools and scholars can help the Christ-centered movement become all the more Jesusy.

Historian Mark Noll’s prophetic call in The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind launched a thousand more laments about the shallowness of evangelical scholarship and thinking.

The judgment remains accurate as far as it goes. American evangelical Christians are American Christians, and Americans have never valued the life of the mind as much as they might. But where Noll’s 1994 volume lamented the dearth of intellectual commitment among evangelicals, he now wonders if there is much evangelical thinking among the evangelicals committed to the life of the mind.

In a recent lecture, he said that institutions like Christianity Today and Wheaton College, among others, “sustain Christian seriousness about intellectual life.” He went on to say, however, that among the high level of evangelical learning on display among leading educational institutions and publications, “not much of it seems particularly ‘evangelical,’” but displays learning that draws on broadly Christian sources, like Reformed Protestantism or Roman Catholicism.

“That work is often obviously Christian, but with incredible variety, reflecting a huge mélange of influences,” he said. “For tracing broad trajectories of historical development, the word evangelical is probably still useful. But for contemporary evangelical effort, not so much.”

At the same conference at which Noll spoke, James K. A. Smith of Calvin College went on to argue that evangelical scholars should abandon the attempt to discover and explore the evangelical mind as such, but instead to draw on these broadly Christian resources to shore up their intellectual efforts.

I basically agree with Smith—that is, I believe Christian …

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Court Overturns Atheist Victory Against Pastors’ Best Benefit

Seventh Circuit rules Clergy Housing Allowance is constitutional, despite challenge by Freedom from Religion Foundation.

For the second time, a popular tax break for pastors has been judged permissible under the US Constitution, despite efforts by an atheist legal group to prove otherwise.

Today the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s 2017 ruling that the Clergy Housing Allowance violates the First Amendment.

Offered only to “ministers of the gospel,” the 60-year-old tax break excludes the rental value of a home from the taxable income of US clergy, CT previously reported. GuideStone Financial Resources has called it the “most important tax benefit available to ministers.”

The allowance is currently claimed to the tune of $700 million a year, according to the latest estimate by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

The October 2017 decision by Wisconsin district judge Judge Barbara Crabb had been a victory for the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), which “jeopardized the benefit for clergy in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin … and many predicted similar consequences nationwide,” wrote CT’s sister publication, Church Law & Tax (CLT) in an analysis.

In today’s ruling, a panel of three judges again refuted the claims of FFRF attorneys, deciding that the allowance passes muster according to two related Supreme Court rulings, Town of Greece v. Galloway and Lemon v. Kurtzman.

“FFRF claims Section 107(2) renders unto God that which is Caesar’s,” wrote circuit judge Michael Brennan. “But this tax provision falls into the play between the joints of the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause: neither commanded by the former, nor proscribed by the latter.”

The FFRF told the Associated Press it is reviewing its options. …

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The Disturbing Temptations of Pastoring in Obscurity

Leaving the limelight didn’t heal my pride; it only disguised it.

Gregory the Great, so tradition tells us, was a reluctant pope. Well-educated and from a wealthy family, Gregory experienced inner tension between his longing for the contemplative life and his sense of calling toward secular responsibilities. After converting to the monastic life and transforming his house into a monastery—the happiest years of his life—Gregory often was called into service of the church in public ways, including serving as Pope Pelagius II’s legate to Constantinople. When troubles gathered around Rome, Gregory was called from his monastic life to the city to help. Soon afterward, Pope Pelagius died of the plague sweeping through Rome at that time, and Gregory was elected to succeed him. Gregory tried to refuse the office, preferring his monastic life, but once elected, he accepted his duties faithfully and worked hard to serve God in his new position. The best leaders, according to the old proverb, are reluctant leaders.

Of course, as my own story shows, reluctance is not an inherently laudable trait.

My calling into pastoral ministry came when I was in high school, in a small Presbyterian church in the Mississippi River Valley of western Illinois. I hoped to be a music minister of some sort, though I wasn’t sure if churches hired people to do that. Following my internal inclinations and external affirmations toward pastoral ministry, I studied at a Christian college where my eyes were opened to some of the great ministry leaders of that time: Billy Graham, John Stott, Dallas Willard, John Piper, Elisabeth Elliott. Many of them spoke at my college. I prayed, God, use me however you want—even like these great women and men. I didn’t want to be a big deal in peoples’ …

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Power and Pastors: Part 1

Recovering A Biblical Understanding of Power

The Billy Graham Center recently hosted a conversation at the GC2 Summit about sexual assault and abuse, harassment, legal issues, consent, responses to abuse, the important role of governmental authorities, the rule of law, and additional topics vital and urgent to discuss in today’s culture. Church leaders—women in particular—are gaining a prophetic platform to call out injustices and abuses, both inside and outside the church, that have long been ignored, covered up, and even accepted.

During the conversation, I had the opportunity to address the summit about the proper use and the abuse of power in the church. Now, I want to take a deeper dive into the concept of power. In this first article, I want to help church leaders recover a biblical understanding of power by discussing the subtlety, scope, and stewardship of power.

The subtlety of power

Power is all around us, and in fact, it is within us. Yet, when it comes to the general public, both inside and outside the church, people don’t typically think of power as something they possess. People tend to think of power as holding a particular position (politically or organizationally), standing on a certain platform, having prosperity, or being popular.

In To Change the World, James Hunter notes that the concept of power is closely associated with the roles of elites in society. Power, therefore, is more associated with who a person is or what he or she has acquired—especially in relation to others.

However, according to Andy Crouch, power—in its simplest definition—is, “The ability to make something of the world.”

Couple this definition with the theology of the imago Dei and the creation mandate, and you arrive at the conclusion …

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