• Pay attention to the time you have to prepare. If you are planning a complicated play, don’t wait until November or December to begin practicing.
• With smaller children, keep your performance simple by narrating the program yourself. Parents and church members love to watch children perform no matter how elementary the program.
• For a fun touch, let your angels wear battery operated halos or carry battery operated candles.
• Use your teens as much as you can. (They are full of ideas, and sometimes younger children will listen to them better)
• Let small children use inexpensive musical instruments when singing carols. (2 years old can play
Toddler Glockenspeils or Rhythm Instruments such as blocks. If they are 3 years or older, they could play children’s Xylophones or use Kids’ Maracas. (If a child doesn’t have an instrument to play, let him hold a battery operated candle)

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Ideas for a Christ-Centered Christmas

• Instead of putting up a tree, put a large manger scene in your family room. Place your gifts in front of the manger.

• Wrap presents alike by the givers. When Christmas morning comes, let each child place the presents he has near him. He can systematically give out his gifts. This takes the focus off of receiving and puts the emphasis on giving. (Gifts don’t have to be expensive; children could draw special pictures, color, and frame them)

• Focus the season on Jesus’ sacrificial love by taking your children shopping for a person who is unable to give anything in return.

• Send a Christmas box to a missionary family. Allow plenty of time for your children to earn money their own money to buy gifts for the missionary children.

• Involve your children in sending shoe boxes to Franklin Graham’s project Operation Christmas Child.

• Plan to give a gift to Jesus. (In my son’s church, he places a Chest of Joash at the front of his pulpit. This is a great way to give a Christmas gift to the Lord and to help with remodeling projects around the church.

• If you know someone who will be spending Christmas alone, invite him to your home.

• To show the love of Jesus, volunteer time to a particular ministry. (A homeless shelter, a children’s home, or hospital)

• Send a Christmas card or gift to a soldier.

• Gather a group of friends from your church to go Christmas caroling.

• During the month of December, do random acts of kindness in Jesus’ name. (Pay for person’s meal behind you, rake a neighbor’s lawn, pay for person’s coffee standing in line behind you)

• Take food to a family in need.

• Bake goodies for your neighbors, family, and friends.

• Place indoor and outdoor decorations that reflect Jesus really is The Reason for the Season.

• Hand out Christmas tracts wherever you go…and say Merry Christmas.

Ways to Keep Your Family Spiritually Healthy

If you are a missionary or a pastor, here are a few hints to help keep your family spiritually healthy. I pray that these tips will be a blessing to you.

• Each day display ways to your family how you love the Lord with all your heart.
• Don’t get so busy with the ministry that you fail to help your children develop their own personal relationship with the Lord.
• Be a father who leads his family in spiritual matters so that your children will not feel rejection or turn away from the Lord.
• Be a parent who helps his children work through stressful situations that they might experience on the field.
• Develop meaningful family traditions on the field. (Birthdays, holidays, rewards)
• As a parent, show affection to your children and to your mate.
• Have fun with your family. Some of the most godly families are those families who have fun together.
• Use your children in the ministry. This will show them that you respect and value them, and it will also show them that they are not just tag-along children.
• Give them responsibilities and enlist them in doing wholesome work.
• Give Biblical reasons for the rules you set. Live more by the principles of God’s Word instead of “I said so…rules”. Search His Word together to find verses that are relevant to your rules.
• Pray at different and unusual times and places together.
• Always try to sing together. (car, working, playing)
• Memorize verses together.
• Look for different and creative ways to do family worship. You don’t have to do them every day, but on the days you do them, make them meaningful.
• Teach your children the importance of delayed gratification. Instill in their minds the value of self-denial for the sake of their futures.

Thanksgiving Poem and Quotes

I have taken this poem and quotes from the book my brother Gary Smith wrote entitled Life Changing Thoughts. If you do not have this book, I would recommend ordering one. Gary spent several years collecting poems, quotes, and ideas about many different subjects that you could use in your ministry. I have used his book many times when I have needed information to prepare bulletins,seasonal banquet programs, etc.

In Everything Give Thanks

Thru sunshine, cloud or stormy days,
When hope abounds or care dismays;
When trials press down and toils increase,
Let not thy faith in God decrease;
“In everything give thanks.”
For we know all things work for good,
Nor could we change them if we would;
It will be well if only He commands,
For all of His promises forever stand;
“In everything give thanks.”

• Be grateful for door of opportunity and for friends who oil the hinges.
• If I spend my time filling my heart with regrets of yesterday, and worries of tomorrow, I will have no time for giving thanks today.
• Thanksgiving is not a time of the year, but an attitude of the heart.
• It is better to appreciate things you don’t have, than to have things and not appreciate them.
• When all of our earthly resources have failed we can still give thanks, for we know God will never fail us.
• One of the most embarrassing moments for an atheist is when he knows he has been blessed, but he has no one to thank for it.
• I murmured and complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.
• 0h Thou, who hast given us so very much, please grant us one thing more, a grateful heart.
• Be thankful for the Giver and not just the gift and for the Blessor and not just the blessings.
• When you are discouraged don’t just sit and frown; instead, get a piece of paper and write your blessings down.
• Don’t be sorry when your purse is half-empty; rather, be thankful that it is half-full.
• Boy to his sister: “I just don’t get it, dad thanks God for giving us our food, then he bawls mom out for the grocery bills!”

• Come in early and prepare the pastor’s office for him by turning on his lights, setting the temperature, preparing FYI sticky notes and placing them his desk.
• Make sure his office is stocked with items he uses daily. (paper paper, Kleenexes, pens, paper clips, staples, bottled water, coffee, creamer, sugar, etc.)
• Keep counseling books together. If the pastor asks you to find a certain book before a counseling session, you will be able to find it quickly.
• Never ask the pastor to do something that you can do. (making or receiving phone calls, receiving and sorting mail, preventing  interruptions and attending to trivial requests, hosting unexpected guests, etc.)
• Be careful never to isolate your pastor on very important matters. Ask God to give you discernment about ways of protecting him without becoming bossy with others and isolating him from his ministry.
• Don’t waste your pastor’s time with too much conversation and giving him too many unnecessary details.
• Never come across with a know-it-all or prideful attitude.
• Never give him negative information before his messages.
• At the end of the day, clean your desk, clean office floors, empty trash in his office and yours.
• Be flexible concerning your pastor’s desires. Although you might have your day planned, he might want you to do something completely different.

The rule of thumb when planning a banquet is, if you are honoring someone, you usually plan a sit-down dinner. If it is more of a casual get together, plan a buffet.  If possible, always opt to do a buffet. Sit-down dinners are more work and more expensive.

Tips for Planning Buffet Meals

• Get friends’ recommendations for good caters. Independent caterers are usually cheaper than large companies. Don’t be embarrassed to negotiate for price break or ask if they’ll throw in more appetizers for the same amount.
• Keep a laminated copy of proper placement of food for buffet settings on hand.
• Before food arrives, label area where want your food placed. You can do this by putting a slip of paper where you want each dish placed. This also helps others know where to place the food.
• Decide if you want to set up a for one or two-line buffet. For a one-line buffet, guests move around all four sides. For a two-line buffet, set table with twin arrangements of plates, food, silver, and napkins on each side.
• Use warming trays or crock pots to keep food hot.
• Don’t serve everything on buffet table. Use a different area for appetizers and another area for coffee and desserts.
• Make sure to leave space between dishes so that people can put their plates down to get food.
• Use small frames to label items such as decaf coffee, various flavored coffees, and sugar free desserts.
• Do not be afraid to use prepared foods when necessary; just display in a beautiful way.
• If serving a bland food, serve a tart or spicy food to complement it.
• Serve a cold dish with a hot dish. (Use crushed ice to keep certain foods cold)
• Serve a soft food with a crisp one. Bread sticks are an example of a crisp food.
• Use color in planning meals. If color is drab, consider garnishing with parsley, cherry, tomatoes, or beets.
• Plan a variety of foods by considering flavors, textures, and temperatures.
• If you use prepared foods, display them in a beautiful way.
• Plan an entree, a vegetable, a fruit or vegetable dish, and a dessert and beverage.

Entree -This is usually a meat dish. It could also be meatless pasta dish.
Vegetable -Fresh or frozen vegetables are the best for color, texture, and flavor.
Fruit or vegetable salad –This will also supply the color and flavor.
Dessert– They can be elaborate or simple.

Tips to Help Feed Large Groups

• The best meals to cook for large crowds are spaghetti and meatballs, soups and salads, and casseroles.
• Have everyone bring a dish and create big buffet.
• More selections equal smaller portions.
• Stick to easy recipes with simple ingredients.
• Use 6 oz. protein per person meat selection.
• Use 1 # 10 can of vegetables per 5 person.
• Use 1 potato per person.
• Use 1 head of lettuce per 5 people.
• Use a 9×12 main dish to serve 10-12 people.
• Add plenty of bread when feeding large groups.
• If you are not using chafing dishes, choose foods that taste good at room temperature.
• For an inexpensive meal, prepare 2 kinds of soups and 2 large salads. Add chips and cut-up veggies.
• Do not serve tough meats if using plastic utensils.

Tips to Help Prepare Drinks for Large Groups

• Use 1 lb. coffee for 50 8 oz. servings (2-cups cream).
• Use 1-cup tea leaves for 50 8 oz. servings.

Pokemon: What is it? by Matt Slick

Pokemon, which is short for “pocket monster,” has become a phenomenal success in America among children. There are cartoons and even a movie based upon the Pokemon characters. Almost every child in America is familiar with this fad and owns some form of Pokemon paraphernalia.

But, what is Pokemon? Pokemon was created by Nintendo in Japan in 1996. It is a role-playing game involving cards, Nintendo Game Boy, and TV cartoons. The cards have pictures of different Pokemon on them–more than 150 so far. The Pokemon are supposed to be “monsters” that have special powers and share the world with humans. The idea of the game is to have the children learn how to collect as many Pokemon as possible, train them, and use them against other people’s Pokemon by invoking the various abilities of each Pokemon creature. Pokemon can evolve and pass through various levels–100 being the highest. Colored energy cards are sometimes used to aid the Pokemon.

There are four basic types of cards.
1. Basic Pokemon cards which depict creatures that fight for you against other people’s Pokemon.
2. Evolution cards depict Pokemon that are able to evolve into more powerful creatures.
3. Energy cards are united with other cards to give the Pokemon more energy needed in carrying out the trainer’s orders.
4. Trainer cards are cards used one time and then discarded.

There are different types or categories of Pokemon: Bug, Fighting, Fire, Flying, Dragon, Electric, Ghost, Grass, Ground, Ice, Normal, Poison, Psychic, Rock, and Water. Within each type are several different Pokemon, each possessing various abilities. I’ve constructed a chart below of some of the categories of Pokemon.

Type of Pokemon Individuals found within category Various abilities found in Group Fire Pokemon Charmander, Charmeleon, Charizard, Flareon, Growlithe, Magmar, Moltres, Ponyta, Rapidash, Vulpix, Ninetails Scorching, heating, running, stomping, racing,
Electric Electabuzz, Jolteon, Magnemite, Magneton, Pikachu, Raichu, Voltorb, Electrode, Zapdos Lightning bolts, anti-gravity, explosions, Ghost Gastly, Haunter, Gengar Ultra dimensional, poison, mimicry, taunting Poison Ekans, Arbok, Grimer, Muk, Koffing, Weezing, Nidoran(Female),Nidorina, Nidoqueen, Nidoran(Male), Nidorino, Nidoking Silence, stealth, use of poison, use of claws and biting, breaking opponents’ bones.  Psychic Abra, Kadabra, Alakazam, Drowsee, Hypno, Jynx, Mew, Mewtwo, Mr. Mime Reading minds, teleportation, inducing headaches, high intelligence, consumes people’s dreams, hypnosis, confusion, evolves.

Within the game, evolution is taught repeatedly. There are special stones (Fire, Leaf, Moon, Thunder, and Water) that can be used to force some Pokemon to evolve into more powerful creatures. Of course, after normal development in skill learning, various Pokemon often evolve on their own.

Is Pokemon Dangerous?
Is Pokemon dangerous? Potentially, yes, it is. It conditions the child who plays the game into accepting occult and evolutionary principles. Haunter can hypnotize, eat a person’s dreams, and drain their energy. Abra reads minds. Kadabra emits negative energy that harms others. Gastly induces sleep. Gengar laughs at peoples’ fright. Nidoran uses poison. The Psychic type of Pokemon are among the strongest in the game. Charmander, Haunter, Ivysaur, Kadabra, and many more evolve. The children are taught to use these creatures to do their will by invoking colored energy cards, fights, and commands. Much of it is reminiscent of occult and eastern mysticism.

The Bible says to “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it,” (Prov. 22:6).1 2 Chron. 33:6 says, “And he made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger.”

I do not see how allowing children to play with games that encourage fighting, reading of minds, use of poison, mimicry, taunting, teleportation, hypnosis, and evolution can be a good thing. This is not training a child to righteousness; it is accepting the occult and secular evolution. Is this what we, as Christians, want our children to meditate on? Of course not.

If children are conditioned to accept these things in youth, then they will be more likely to accept these ideas in adulthood. This leads people away from God’s Word and truth and not toward it. This is dangerous to a person’s eternal destiny.

More Information
• On the Pokemon rules website it states, “Carry your Pokmon with you, and you’re ready for anything! You’ve got the power in your hands, so use it!”
• One observer of children playing the game said that the children would afterwards mimic the game by summoning the Pokemon to attack others. This is occultic.
• Pokemon are summoned to do battle and to protect. This is equivalent to sorcery.
• Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water are frequent elemental themes found in Pagan religions, witchcraft, and Wicca and are used heavily in Pokemon.

The spiritual side of the world is real. There are spiritual elements and demonic forces at work, whose purpose is to lead astray and destroy:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places,” (Eph. 6:12).

The enemy is powerful and cunning. The only light we have is the Bible, and we need to follow it and not give ourselves or our children into the hands of those who would introduce occultic principles in a role-playing game. Again, the Bible says . . .
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,” (1 Tim. 4:1).

There is nothing wrong with children having fun and using their imaginations; but when that fun involves the occult, it is dangerous. As Christians, we should be very concerned about what our children are involved in since they can be so easily influenced. They don’t need the influence of the occult or evolutionary theory to help them towards Christ. They need the truth.

You are over-reacting
Addendum–two months later:
This article has generated some interesting responses. I’ve been called delusional, bigoted, paranoid, and one who contributes to the decline of society because of my intolerant comments about an innocent and fun child’s game. One mother, who claimed to be a Christian, emailed me with heavy complaints and accusations and sought to justify her actions in encouraging her children to watch Pokemon. Well, that is her prerogative.

Have I changed my opinion? Not at all. Am I delusional, bigoted, paranoid, and a contributor to social decay? I certainly hope not. And from what I see in God’s Word and from what I have seen in Pokemon, I still stand on what I have said.

I expect people to not like it when their comfort zone is rattled and when I don’t tote the secular line and salute to “harmless children’s games” even when they teach occultism. By the way, I told the Christian mother that the Lord will hold her accountable for how her children are raised. I asked her if she wants to continue to encourage her children to play with cards that teach casting spells, evolution, and controlling forces to do your bidding. She emailed me back and called me some names.

Others have simply assumed a non-Christian perspective and made judgments about me and this article from their non-Christian point of view. That isn’t a problem. They are entitled to their opinions as am I.

Is Pokemon good? I don’t think so. Does it contribute to impressionable children accepting occult ideas? Yes, it does.

Another comment
I would like to thank you for your stand against Pokemon and other such materials. I understand how you feel when confronted by supposed “Christians” who oppose what you’re trying to do here. I think that it’s a sad time we live in when even the church members want to go around doing what seems right in their own eyes, and they tell you it’s o.k. because “we’re under grace so we don’t need to follow the rules anymore.” Let me say this, the majority of the problems we’re facing today in Christianity are here because of the lack of strong leadership. Most pulpits today are delivering feel good sermons that have little spiritual effect while our remaining power dwindles away due to the gross sins being committed right under our noses. I personally have been in churches that were supposedly “filled with the annointing” and watched the children in the seats in front of me playing Pokemon & dungeons and dragons while the parents “worshipped God.” Pretty sad.

But, let me encourage you to continue fighting the good fight and not budge even one inch in your convictions. Many times people in the church talk about unity, which is important, but not at the cost of compromise. We will all stand before the Lord and give an account for every word and action so let the truth shine out of you without reservation!

The church needs some warriors today who will stand up for what the Word of God tells us is right, regardless of any man’s opinions. Be that warrior!

Remember, the fear of man is a snare to your soul!

God Bless, David

Different Article:

Pokemon (short for POcKEt MONster and pronounced Poh-keh-mon) is now the rage among both Christian and non-Christian children in much of the world. What do these “pocket monsters” teach our children and what are the philosophies underlying this “innocent” game? Is this something that Christian children should be involved with?

Pokemon is a role-playing game similar to Dungeons and Dragons, MAGIC, and others, but with more subtle occult overtones. It is a copyright of Nintendo and was first created in Japan in 1995, where it was highly influenced by Japanese mysticism. Much of its character seems to come from Shinto (the traditional religion of Japan), Buddhism, Hinduism, other Eastern religions, and New Age philosophies. The game reflects Japan’s warrior past in its violence, with the object being to conquer other Pokemons through physical force or sorcery.

Besides the Eastern religious overtones, New Age concepts abound in the Pokemon cards.2 Each Pokemon is a certain “type,” which describes their “energy.” There are currently 7 types of Pokemon, including “Grass,” “Fire,” “Water,” “Lightning,” “Psychic,” “Fighting,” and “Colorless.”3 Many of the 150 Pokemons use violence to conquer other Pokemons. This violence includes gnawing, slashing, smash kick, fire blast, seismic toss, electricity, poison, psychic blasts, paralyzing, etc.4 This is not the “innocent” game that it is made out to be. Other Pokemons “evolve” through the use of “stones” (thunder, water, moon, fire, and leaf) which are items used to summon powers (the origin of these “powers” is not stated, but they are not from God).4 Training cards also include those that use “potion” and “super potion” to magically heal your damaged Pokemon fighters.

Many Pokemons evolve “naturalistically” to become other Pokemons… In examining the cards, it is apparent that macroevolution is being taught, since “species” that have evolved from other species are similar in appearance. In some instances, the term “evolution” is used incorrectly, since individual Pokemons are able to “evolve” into more powerful creatures. In essence, the game is teaching a kind of reincarnation.

Here are some examples of Pokemon types and what they do:

Name Attack Method
Jynx “Merely by meditating, the Pokemon launches a powerful psychic energy attack”
Abra “Using its ability to read minds, it will identify impending danger and teleport to safety.”
Kadabra “It emits special alpha waves from its body that induce headaches even to those nearby.”
Weepinbell “It spits out poison powder to immobilize the enemy, and then finishes the enemy with a spray of acid.”
Ponyta “Its hooves are 10 times harder than diamonds. It can trample anything flat in moments.
Machoke “Karate chop does 50 damage points”

“I will travel across the land
Searching far and wide
Each Pokemon to understand
The power that’s inside.
Gotta catch them all!”

The words above are from the Pokemon song that is sung at the end of the television program. Children are being encouraged to tap into the power of the Pokemon cards. Further instruction is given at the official Pokemon card site:

Carry your Pokemon with you, and you’re ready for anything! You’ve got the power in your hands, so use it!”5

Many children are taking this instruction to heart and literally carry their Pokemon cards with them everywhere. We are even seeing these cards appearing at our church and Christian school. Children are being encouraged to tap into supernatural power instead of the power given by God.6 They are told that the more cards they collect, the more power they will have. Many children are completely addicted to the cards and spend all of their free time playing with them. If nothing else, Pokemon has become an idol in their lives – being more important to them than God.

The use of Pokemon cards can potentially open doors to demonic oppression through the following activities:7

1. Possession (known or unknown) of occultic records, tapes, books, pictures, charms, tools, games, etc.
2. Seeking or giving consent to occultic power or occultic revelation
3. Fascination with occultic power, occultic revelation, or psychic phenomena, in general
4. Escapism through thrill-seeking, science fiction, soap operas, or some other addicting hobby/activity
5. Fascination with violence, especially violence devoid of justice
6. Meditation on anything other than God’s revealed truth
7. Chanting or other cultic/occultic forms of worship

The Bible’s teaching is clear about being involved in occultic activities. We are told not to become involved in sorcery or divination or consult with mediums or spiritists.8 The high penalty (death) for engaging in sorcery indicates the seriousness of this sin in the eyes of God.9

While Pokemon continues to gain popularity, its creators will continue to introduce new ways to become a Pokemon “Master.” At some point, in order to maintain interest in the game, it will become necessary to add new features/characters and alternate means to “get the power.” My prediction is that this game will add more New Age features, along with more violent and bizarre characters. Those who are involved in Pokemon will continue to be indoctrinated more deeply in the New Age philosophies. In fact, Pokemon resources are listed under New Age resources.10

Another threat to children who play with Pokemon and other role playing games is the tendency to become involved in more serious forms of role playing games, such as Doom,11 Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: the Gathering, and role playing games with even more occultic overtones. In fact, Pokemon sites often have links to these sites (wizards.com, etc.). The “Role Player’s Realm,” which links to Pokemon and other role playing games has the uninhibited URL “http://www.screaming.demon.nl/.” The association with the occult is fairly obvious.

Conclusions
Pokemon teaches the following concepts/philosophies that are counter to Christianity:
1. Violence as a means of obtaining power.
2. Evolution
3. New Age concepts (reincarnation, psychic power)
4. The use of occult objects (magic stones) to gain power over your opponent
Continued participation in Pokemon may lead to:
1. Involvement in the game that leads to psychological addiction such that the game becomes an idol in the life of the child
2. Involvement in malevolent role playing games (and people associated with them)
3. Open doors to demonic oppression

Recommendations
If your child has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, I recommend that he be given the facts about Pokemon and what the Bible says about participating in sorcery. A child who is encouraged to pray about his involvement in Pokemon and follows the Holy Spirit will voluntarily give up participation with Pokemon-associated activities. Several children we have talked to have made this decision without being forced to do so by their parents. If your child has not accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, I would make the decision unilaterally and explain why he would not be allowed to participate in Pokemon-related activities. If your child is highly involved with or addicted to Pokemon, I would provide extra support for them and encourage and provide opportunities for them to engage in other, less threatening hobbies/activities.

References
Note: As a Christian, I will not knowingly provide a link to pages that promote non-Christian values/ideas. However, the URL’s are listed below so that you can confirm the accuracy of the information included on this page.

1. Much of the research information used to develop this page comes from wizards.com (http://www.wizards.com/Pokemon), the official Pokemon card site.
2. http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/Labyrinth/6402/poke-level.htm
3. http://www.wizards.com/Pokemon/Rules/Welcome.asp
4. When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? (Isaiah 8:19)
5. From Reasons To Believe’s web site, “Dealing with Demons” (http://www.reasons.org/resources/papers/demons.html)
6. Leviticus 20:6-7 And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul, and will cut him off from among his people. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.
7. He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. (2 Kings 21:6)
8. Malachi 3:5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
9. Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.

http://www.newageinfo.com/res/meditat_data.htm
See “No Evidence of a Spiritual Realm?” (http://www.GodAndScience.org/apologetics.html)

How to Daily Pray for Your Missionaries

Their Relationship with God
• That they would grow spiritually and have an effective prayer life

Their Physical and Emotional Life
• That they would be protected from disease, hazards, travels, hostile governments, and false religions

Their Family Life
• That they would be a good testimony to the nationals and the wisdom to raise and train godly children

Their Ability to Communicate
• That they would have good success in language school and gain the ability to communicate God’s Word with clarity

Their Ministry
• That they would have boldness in witnessing and that the Lord would open doors for teaching, preaching, discipling, and counseling

Their Need for Fellow Laborers
• That they would be able to stir the national’s hearts for service and see them surrender to God’s call for service

Their Country of Service
• That their country of service would be a stable country and that the leadership would allow them freedom to minister and stay in the country

Idea for a Yearly Baby Dedication Service

This is a service where Christian parents dedicate their children to the Lord. They promise the Lord and church to raise their children in a godly way until children can make their own decisions to follow the Lord. Pastors should contact families who have had children during the previous year and invite them to a meeting to discuss the service. He can use this meeting to teach and explain the reason for the service and reinforce a biblical vision for Christian parenting.

Actual Order of Baby Dedication Service

• Parents stand before the congregation with their children, and the pastor asks the following questions:

Do you today recognize these children as the gifts of God and give heartfelt thanks for God’s blessing?

Do you now dedicate your children to the Lord who gave them to you all, surrendering all worldly claims upon their lives in the hope that they will belong wholly to God?

Do you pledge as parents that, with God’s help, you will bring up your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, making every reasonable effort, with patience and love, to build the Word of God, the character of Christ and the joy of the Lord into their lives?

Do you promise to provide, through God’s blessing, for the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of your children, looking to your own heavenly Father for the wisdom, love and strength to serve them and not use them?

Do you promise, God helping you, to make it your regular prayer that, by God’s grace, your children will come to trust in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins and for the fulfillment of all his promises to them, even eternal life; and in this faith follow Jesus as Lord and obey his teachings?

• Insert these same promises in the bulletin to reinforce a Biblical vision of parenting for the whole congregation. The pastor can invite all parents silently to re-commit these promises.

• After the parents have confirmed their promises, the pastor can pray a prayer of dedication.

Prayer of Dedication

(child’s name), together with your parents, who love you dearly, and this people who care about the outcome of your faith, I dedicate you to God, surrendering together with them all worldly claims upon your life, in the hope that you will belong wholly to God for ever.

• After the ceremony, the pastor can present parents with a Child’s Bible, a certificate, and a pastoral letter to give the child on his 12th birthday.

Sample of a Pastoral Letter:

Name of Church
Address of Church (City, State Zip)
Date of Dedication Service
Infant’s Full Name

Dear (child’s first name)

I would like to wish you a Happy Birthday today. I am writing this letter to you on the day that your Parents dedicated you to the Lord at (church name). As you read this letter, you are celebrating your 12th birthday. I hope today is a special day for you.

God blessed you with two very special parents. They prayed for you during your mother’s pregnancy. Earlier today at your dedication, I reminded your parents of their responsibility to provide you with a home that would honor Christ.

As a church, we prayed that you would grow up to know and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

Up to this point, your parents have made most of your life’s important decisions. Now you are 12 years old, and there is one decision that only you can make. You alone must accept Jesus as your personal Savior. If you have already done this, I pray that you will continue to grow, as a Christian and that, you will stay close to Jesus in your years ahead.

May God bless you on this special Birthday.

In Christ’s love,
Pastor’s Name

Planning a Yearly Mission’s Conference

The success or failure of the Mission’s Conference rises or falls with the leadership. If the pastor and leaders do not get excited about the Conference, the people will not get excited.

Why Should Your Church Have a Yearly Conference?

• To give your church more of a burden for missionaries around the world.
• To give your church information about new missionaries and their fields.
• To challenge your church to have a deeper prayer commitment for individual missionaries and their fields.
• To encourage your church to pray that the Lord will raise up new missionary candidates from your church.
• To increase your church’s mission giving so that it could take on new missionaries and increase the support of its current missionaries.

When Should Your Church Schedule the Mission’s Conference?

• Select the date that doesn’t conflict with anything that will compete for a large section of your congregation.
• Most Conferences follow one of these three schedules: Wednesday through Sunday; Sunday through Wednesday; or Sunday through Sunday.
• Set the date and theme at least a year in advance.

What Are Some Themes, Slogans, and Quotes Your Church Could Use?

• There are many different themes you could use: ”The field is the World”, “Laborers Together,” “Go Into All the World and Preach the Gospel,” “Pray! Give! Go!” “Do You Hold the Key?” “Missions, Heaven’s Heartbeat,” etc.
• “I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light” — John Keith Falconer
• “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply” — Hudson Taylor
• “God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him” — Hudson Taylor
• “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed” — Hudson Taylor
• “If I had 1,000 lives, I’d give them all for China” — Hudson Taylor
• “God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him.” — Hudson Taylor
• “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” — William Carey
• “To know the will of God, we need an open Bible and an open map.” — William Carey
• “Is not the commission of our Lord still binding upon us? Can we not do more than now we are doing?” — William Carey
• “The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” — Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia
• “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose” — Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950’s trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador
• In the vast plain to the north I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been” — Robert Moffat, who inspired David Livingstone
• “If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?” — David Livingstone
• “Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell; I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” — C.T. Studd
• “No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once.” — Oswald J. Smith
• “Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist.” — Oswald J. Smith
• “The mission of the church is missions” — Oswald J. Smith
• “If God calls you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon
• “You can give without loving. But you cannot love without giving.” — Amy Carmichael

What Are Some Things Your Church Should Do to Start Preparing for the Conference?

• Budget the Conference’s expenses in yearly mission’s budget. This amount should cover Conference expenses, plus a good love offering to each missionary.
• Begin preparations at least six months prior to the Conference.
• Recruit an effective leader to head up planning the Conference.
• Involve as many people as possible in the planning and preparing of the Conference.
• Find the best keynote mission’s speaker you can get. He will set the tone for the Conference.
• Develop a program that includes skits, creativity, drama, and storytelling. Skits and dramas are very effective in challenging hearts for missions.
• Three weeks before the conference, give Faith Promise Sunday school lessons to the teachers to teach for next three weeks.
• Children’s church can also hear Faith Promise lessons and raise special missionary offerings for various projects or missionaries.
• Have Sunday school teachers and Junior Church leaders teach a mission lesson each week for 4 weeks prior to your conference.
• Bathe your Conference in prayer. Prayer is the single most important part of the Conference.
• Organize cottage prayer meetings several weeks before the Conference, asking people to sign up and be a part of the effort to pray for the success of the meeting.
• Promote your Conference as the best event of the year for your church.

What Music Should Your Church Use for the Conference?

• If you have a choir director, have him plan a missionary theme song to be sung each night of the Conference. “Lift Up Your Eyes”, “Look Unto the Fields”, “How Shall They Hear”, “Here Am I, Send Me,” “Come Over and Help Us,” etc.
• If you do not have a song leader, select someone to lead songs for the Conference.
• Sing missionary songs for each conference session.
• Choose a missionary theme chorus to sing for each night of the Conference.
• Use missionary emphasis words with familiar hymns. (Check my blog for examples January 17, 2012; Mission Conference Songs)

How Should Your Church Advertise for the Conference?

• Publicly verbalize enthusiasm for world missions and encourage financial support for the Conference.
• Three weeks before the Conference, send each family an encouraging and challenging letter about the Conference.
• Encourage each member to look for ways to minister to the missionaries during the Conference.
• One month before the conference, decorate sanctuary with large theme banner.
• The Conference program should be printed ahead of time to insert in the church bulletin at least two or three weeks prior to the conference.
• Posters should be placed about the church including pictures of missionaries and information about their fields.
• Prepare a Prayer Guide booklet for your people. This will have a listing of all your missionaries, their contact information, their prayer requests, interesting facts about their ministry and the country they represent.
• The church marque should carry appropriate advertising of the Conference.
• Place articles in the local newspaper with news releases and pictures of the missionaries.
• Make contact with local radio and television stations for public service announcements.
• If there are Christian schools in your area, contact them and let them know that you have missionaries who would be available to speak in their assemblies and classrooms.
• Put up a book table with stimulating missionary biographies and stories for the people of your church to purchase.

How Should Your Church Treat the Missionaries Who Participate in the Conference?

• Be sure to correspond well with the missionary before the conference.
• When the missionary arrives, show him around the church facility, introduce him to staff, and show him where to set up his display.
• Give him a welcome packet that includes:
1. Itinerary of where he is to be throughout each day and what is expected of him.
2. An envelope with some spending money for him to use during the Conference.
3. Directions how to get to his host’s home/motel and back to church.
• Pray with him. Ask the Lord to use him effectively during the time he is with you and that your people will be responsive to his ministry.
• Invite him to join you in prayer before each service or function in which he takes part.
• If you plan to do something fun with missionary while he is with you, find out what he enjoys. Be sure to give him the option. Your concern is to meet his needs. Some may need time away from the children after spending hours or days traveling in the car. Others may need to rest or catch up on correspondence. Be sure not to make him feel any pressure.
• Be sensitive to any dietary restrictions he might have.
• Don’t feel obligated to provide three large meals each day. It’s usually more convenient for the missionary to have breakfast at the host’s home/motel.
• Provide an evening meal at the church for missionary/missionaries. Be sure to include the pastor and his family, the staff and his family, and the family or Sunday school class who provided the meal to join the missionaries. (This gives other members a chance to interact with missionaries so that they can begin to know, to love, and to appreciate the missionaries)
• Use Skype to involve special missionaries who are not able to attend the Conference.

What Should Be the Schedule of Your Faith Promise Sunday?

• Take commitments in each Sunday school class. Assign one spokes person to read the class commitment in morning service. (Ex. By faith Pastor_________, the primary girls will give $10.50 each week for world-wide missions)
• After sermon, hand Faith Promise Cards to every member in the service. Have prayer. (While people are writing out their commitments, have two people to set up a power point display to calculate total commitments)
• Collect cards from morning service and have someone total those cards.
• Call out a representative from each individual class to audibly give class commitment.
• Rejoice over total promised for the coming year.

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