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 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.

Her Prayers Helped Pull Me Out of Occult-Fueled Madness

While I plunged further into darkness, a middle-school classmate kept lifting me up to God.

I started walking in the valley of the shadow of death at a very young age. In first grade, I became aware of something: What you see is not all there is.

The spiritual world was real to me, even as a child, because of my engagement with the occult. What started out as intrigue and entertainment quickly led to a lifestyle of encounter with the stuff of Hollywood lore. I remember watching a chair slide across the floor and a candle floating off the coffee table. I saw things no one should see.

You can’t immerse yourself in the occult for long without going on a journey you cannot reverse on your own. I had night terrors so bad, so horrific, I was tormented for years. In junior high, the anxiety produced ulcers. Specialists couldn’t confirm what was wrong. I felt trapped, breathless, and alone.

My experiences with the supernatural led me on a quest for answers. In many ways, I was a typical boy, the kind who enjoyed basketball, skateboarding, and GI Joe cartoons. But I also studied religion and philosophy. I was gripped by an all-consuming desire to find a language or a belief system to describe my regular interactions with the unseen world.

‘Pray for That Young Man’

Eighth grade was a pivotal year. On the outside, I looked like a quintessential American teenager. Taking a break from the occult, I enjoyed school, engaged in athletics, and certainly didn’t look like someone immersed in darkness.

One day, as I was standing at my school locker, a female classmate sensed in her heart that God was whispering my name. (I wouldn’t learn this, of course, until later.) The whisper said something to the effect of, “Pray for that young man. You are going to marry him one day.” Some of life’s …

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Interview: Four-Star General: Military More Cautious About Faith

General Roger Brady (USAF, Ret.) thinks soldiers are becoming more religious but the armed forces are more uncertain about religious expression.

The issue of religious tolerance has created challenging times for the United States military. All the service branches are trying to protect the rights of both those with religious beliefs and those with none. The choices made by military leaders exist in a pressure-packed environment framed by their oath of service, the Constitution, military guidelines, public opinion, and their own personal beliefs.

Recently, Brig. Gen. E. John Teichert, commander of Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, became the focus of a Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) demand for an official investigation into his conduct, specifically a personal website that calls the nation to pray for itself and its future. The MRFF, led by former Air Force captain and activist attorney Michael L. (Mikey) Weinstein, alleges that Teichert is violating the Defense Department policy concerning religious proselytizing.

Retired Four-Star Gen. Roger A. Brady has had discussions with Weinstein regarding these kinds of religious issues and pressures. He was once the personnel director for all Air Force personnel, and he finished his 41 years of duty in 2011 as 33rd commander of all US Air Forces in Europe and led the joint NATO Allied Command from Ramstein, Germany. General Brady is a longtime Christian who now sits on the board of trustees for Mid-Atlantic Christian University and serves as the deacon over adult education at his local congregation of the Church of Christ.

Brady led the 2005 inquiry into whether religious intolerance and discrimination were occurring at the United States Air Force Academy. Brady’s team found no outright or intentional religious discrimination, although it did discover some overzealous evangelism and a lack of …

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Prosecutor wants Hezron Parks to spend 25 years in prison for Tempe fire captain slaying

A prosecutor told Hezron Parks he wants him to spend at least 25 years in prison if a jury finds him guilty of second degree murder.




The Embodied Church in a Digital Age

Should we cheer or moan when online churches perform virtual baptisms?

Virtual Reality Church’s first baptism took place in a 3D house with an underground pool and a massive billboard overhead proclaiming “A Special Baptism and Communion service.” Alina Delp, 46—portrayed as a purple, robot-like avatar—stood submerged in the water while Pastor D. J. Soto proclaimed her new life in Christ and her sins washed away. When her avatar floated to the surface, dozens of congregants and family members cheered, their avatars sending heart and clap icons floating skyward.

Delp rarely leaves her house due to erythromelalgia, a rare condition that makes it painful to be outside for longer than a few minutes. Baptism would have been difficult for her in the past. With the virtual baptism, her family members from all over the country were able to witness the event in real time.

“When the opportunity came to me, I just had to do it. I was so excited that church was an option for me, that baptism was an option for me,” she said.

She believes it was a real experience, just like getting baptized in water.

“It was powerful. As D. J. was speaking and I was under the water, I could feel this life I lived before being lifted away, and there was this new, amazing future for me,” she said, getting emotional. “I was there. It counts.”

Virtual Reality (VR) Church is just the newest iteration in a series of digital church trends that have picked up steam in the past few decades—from livestreaming entire church services, to virtual campuses that stream a sermon, to fully digital churches and digital missionaries.

Such technology is increasingly used for evangelism and spiritual identity. More than three-quarters of Americans own a smartphone, and nearly …

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20 Truths from ‘Women in God’s Mission’

Excerpts from Mary Lederleitner’s new book.

  1. “…around the globe women face a wide variety of unique challenges because of their gender… despite these challenges, when women accept and live into God’s invitations, he uses their lives in amazing and remarkable ways” (page 9).
  2. “Many women’s lives are a balancing act of navigating power in different spheres and roles, and this becomes most noticeable in their leadership trajectories” (page 24).
  3. “While both men and women have to balance a wide range of personal and professional roles in their lives, disruption in mission leadership trajectories happens disproportionately to women” (page 25).
  4. “(the) ability to navigate power when diverse leadership roles and opportunities arise or disappear is a fascinating feature that is often much more unique and common in women’s leadership journeys” (page 33).
  5. “…God alone is all-powerful and all-knowing, and he truly understands the scope of what you are capable of doing as you follow him in mission…” (page 34).
  6. “it might be a bit easier for women leading in God’s mission, in contrast to those leading in some other professions, because character qualities such as love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are taught in Scripture as being marks of spiritual maturity…” (page 37).
  7. “…a deeper identity than purpose will be needed to enable women to navigate the challenges they will face personally and professionally. Their identity must be rooted first in God, and not merely his purposes” (page 45).
  8. “…they have an ongoing sense that they must remain deeply connected at three levels: to their God, to the people they meet through their ministries, and to the realities present within their ministry contexts” (page 53).

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Ex-charter school operator of Discovery Creemos pleads guilty to theft, conspiracy

Daniel K. Hughes, ex-CEO of Discovery Creemos Academy in Goodyear, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and theft and faces a five-year prison sentence.




The fight for the preserve is over: Scottsdale voters overwhelmingly approve Prop. 420

Scottsdale voters passed Proposition 420, related to development in the city’s preserve, as well as a tax hike for roads.




The ‘Whole’ in Our Gospel

Has “holistic mission” won the missiological battle? Its champions say so, but their boast might be premature.

In recent years, the ideal of “holistic mission” has dominated thinking about the church’s call to make disciples of all nations. Broadly speaking, a “holistic” approach weaves together two essential threads of mission: sharing the gospel of eternal life through faith in Christ and meeting people’s earthly needs, which often involves challenging political and economic forces that breed injustice and poverty.

Influenced by liberation theology, the work of the Lausanne Movement, and books like Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, holistic mission came of age in the 1970s and ’80s through the missional church movement. Today, its animating spirit can be found in institutions like the Christian Community Development Association and the global Micah Network. As Sider likes to say, and as Al Tizon repeats in Whole and Reconciled: Gospel, Church, and Mission in a Fractured World, “We won.”

In the 1980s, holistic-mission advocates used the language of “transformation.” Then, under the influence of Latin American theologians, they pivoted to “integral mission.” Tizon, executive director of Serve Globally (the international-ministries arm of the Evangelical Covenant Church) and a missions professor at North Park Seminary, argues for recasting holistic mission in terms of reconciliation.

As Tizon acknowledges, this proposal is indebted to a host of theologians and missiologists (whom he cites generously). His purpose is more about showing how this newer paradigm meets the needs of the prevailing global situation. He begins the book with a series of chapters on “The Whole World” that address the effects of globalization. Though he …

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The Parable of the Caravan

We need to pay attention to love’s deep call on our lives.

Jesus’ parables aren’t just stories to be read; they are meant to read us. Parables aren’t meant to affirm our rightness and everyone else’s wrongness. They can sneak past our personal armor to show us a better way to be. They can hold up a mirror (“Oh no, I’m the prodigal son’s big brother!”) or puncture our delusions (“Oh no, I’m the debtor who has been forgiven much but am unwilling to forgive a little!”), then show us where by grace we can grow in love.

The “migrant caravan”—as the large group of children and adults from countries like Honduras and Guatamala currently headed toward the US border seeking safety and better lives have been dubbed by the media—is excruciatingly real.

But in ways, the frenzied political debate about the caravan isn’t real because they’re so far from our border. Instead, what should be real is the opportunity to pay attention to love’s deep call on our lives.

One helpful way might be through the lens of a modern-day parable—and consider how it is reading us. Let’s call it the Parable of the Caravan.

* * *

Once upon a time, the world’s most powerful kingdom enjoyed a record-low unemployment rate and record-high stock market prices.

Other countries much poorer were hosting millions of refugees, but this kingdom did all it could to keep these refugees out. Then one day, a thousand miles away, a few thousand people in danger in their own land joined together with the unrealistic dream of walking—yes, walking—a thousand miles to safety and jobs in the powerful, far away kingdom.

Moms and dads and children joined this “Caravan,” though even if they somehow …

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Scottsdale voters will decide hotly debated measure on city preserve, tax hike for roads

Scottsdale, after years of debate, will vote on development in the city’s preserve with Prop. 420. The election also includes a tax hike for roads.