Seedbed Gathering, connecting, and resourcing the people of God to sow for a great awakening. Tue, 25 Oct 2016 15:04:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 110238651 The Power of Sacramental Church Planting Tue, 25 Oct 2016 11:00:00 +0000

Pastor of Redeemer Anglican Church in Asheville, North Carolina, Gary Ball shares his love of liturgy and the power of sacramental church planting in a modern context.

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Why Your Greeters are Also Worship Leaders Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:00:15 +0000 Several years ago, I found myself living in a new town eager to find a church in which I could participate. I visited several churches before I found the one I wanted to call home. Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. If so, think back to the moment you knew you’d found the church you would call home. What was it that drew you, that made you feel comfortable, that connected you to God? For me, it was another worshipper, a random person in the congregation. It was before the service formally started. I was a graduate student, sitting alone in a pew about near the back of the sanctuary. And as I sat, awkwardly looking at the families around me, a lady walked over to where I was. She said “Good morning. I’m not sure we’ve met. What’s your name?” I gave her my name and she gave me hers. Then she asked, “Have you been here before?” It was my first Sunday, but I was actually relieved it wasn’t obvious. Or if it was, this kind woman made me feel welcome by not assuming I was first time guest. This church was the first church I’d visited where someone asked my name and truly made me feel welcome. I didn’t get a bulletin handed to me at arm’s length and the kind of stare that says, “You’re new here.” Instead, I met a person who asked about me before she started telling me about the church. As a result, I made that church my home while I lived in that town. It wasn’t the music or the preacher or the programming that drew me to the church, it was the way I was treated before the worship service really began.

This year, it rained on Easter Sunday. Not scattered showers or a fine drizzle, but a steady, soaking rain. People wore rain boots instead of dress shoes. We had expected a large crowd and prepared to make room for guests, out of town visitors, and family members who might come since it was Easter. We began to worry the rain would keep people from getting out. But in faith people would come, since it was Easter after all, some of our volunteers decided to go buy umbrellas. And our greeters stood out in the rain, in the parking lot, with the umbrellas, escorting people from their cars to the lobby. This simple, thoughtful act was one of our most talked about moments at our church.

Technically, people introducing themselves to each other isn’t part of a worship service. Neither is being escorted under an umbrella through the rain. However, both of these acts created an atmosphere for worship. Because I felt personally welcomed in a new church, I felt comfortable singing hymns and was more open to hearing the word proclaimed. And I’m confident the fact people were dry on an incredibly wet Easter morning helped them engage in worshiping the Risen Lord. They weren’t distracted by getting soaked, and they felt welcome having been greeted and served in the parking lot, before ever walking in the door of our church.

I’ve come to believe that if people are offended or distracted in the time they’re at our church, before the worship service formally starts, they are less likely to engage in the worship service. We try to think about what it feels like to walk into our church, to be greeted, to sit in the auditorium before the service begins. Are we making people feel welcome and at ease? Are there distractions that draw attention away from worship? Might guests feel awkward or singled out?

I encourage you to also think about what it feels like to walk into your church, to be greeted, to take a seat before the service. Is there anything about the experience that might distract people from thinking about worshiping God?  Does the experience help guests feel welcome and at ease?  If you’re not sure what this experience is like, since familiarity makes us blind to some of these things, ask a friend who doesn’t go to your church, or better yet any church, to come one Sunday and give you some feedback on how they felt to walk in and wait for the worship service to start.

If you want to read more on these ideas, check out Chapter Nine, “Creating Irresistible Environments” in Andy Stanley’s book Deep and Wide. We’ve found that book helpful for how we think about when and where our worship service starts. Not only that, but it’s helped us teach and train our volunteers. Stanley says “The sermon begins in the parking lot.” We’ve internalized that idea, and believe our worship services begin well before the formal welcome or call to worship. Our worship service begins when people walk from the parking lot into our doors. We try to do all we can to make people feel welcome and comfortable. And we pray this helps them engage God in a positive way, creating an atmosphere for worship.

Andy Stanley, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 157.

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The Call: How to Process a Call (Episode 24) Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:00:11 +0000 God calls people through preaching. Are you still wrestling with a call? On the other hand, do you wonder how you might preach about a call to ministry? Listen in as Carolyn Moore proclaims the word of God and connects it with the call to ministry.

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Create Living Discussions with Tool Questions Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:00:00 +0000 Where would this idea be useful? How might this help you in your current situation? How could this change something happening right now? These are tool questions, and this category allows you to help students to complete the task of comprehension that began with the second level processing in your bite questions.

What they are

Tool questions complete the comprehension process by taking the information that has been clarified from a passage or study and helping students see its application in the here and now. Getting clear on the content is important, but if all we do is study a passage in its context our ultimate goal of life transformation has not happened. As we study the scriptures is it not merely enough to recognize that David lamented his sin with Bathsheba, we must talk about how the principles in that passage can help us in our life today.

How they can go bad

Application is far too often where good discussions stop. Though we must always set application as a goal, it is an intermediary goal. The reality is that not all examples in the Bible are good examples and a lot of what is said must be further evaluated and synthesized before it is of most use.

How to use them well

The best use of tool questions is to help students experience an idea or story as if it is there own. The reality is that though the Bible was written thousands of years ago, it is dealing with ideas and themes that are universal. That means that as we think through how those situations apply to our current context, we are discovering that the Bible is not merely true because it happened in the past, but it is true in a more powerful way: it happens now.

When we use application well, we discover that we are experiencing the same ideas and struggles of the scripture in our lives today. When that becomes the lens through which students explore the scriptures, the Bible comes to life for us and we see its power and poignancy everywhere we turn.

To create great tool questions begin by looking at the big principles and plot points in a passage and try to imagine where those might be the most useful or similar to the lives of your students. Then, design questions that act as the mental bridge between those principles and plots into the real world of those we are leading.

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Preaching “All Hallows Saints Eve Day” Tue, 25 Oct 2016 10:00:00 +0000 Pastors, we have a unique opportunity this year with the last Sunday of the month being October 30th. We have the opportunity to educate and equip the households of our congregations to commemorate and celebrate All Hallows Eve and All Saints Day (October 31 and November 1). While one day’s festivities might be easier to address than the other, the truth is that each one needs the other.

Let’s begin with the obvious: October 31st, All Hallows Eve (or Halloween). I’ve got to be honest, I’ve loved this day all my life; I mean kids, costumes and candy…need I say more? But as the years have past I’ve grown to appreciate so much more about Halloween, and that primarily has to do with death. Now, no one likes death, but in the last century in North American culture it seems as though death has become the thing we collectively ignore, or refuse to consider or be confronted by. Funerals and the grieving process have become far more about convenience; just ask you local Funeral Director. Nowadays the majority of people want to schedule wakes, services, and burials on the weekend when it’s most convenient for everyone. We no longer want or allow the death of a loved one to be an interruption. Far fewer children attend wakes and funerals because we fear what their exposure to this side of reality might do to them. We want the process to be quick and painless and, as a result, it carries over into the rest of our lives.

In our contemporary society there is a general attitude of ignorance towards death. I once heard someone say it best: “We all live like we’re never going to die.” That’s why I like Halloween because it’s an opportunity for us, especially followers of Jesus Christ, to confront death. On this night, celebrated across our culture, death, bones and anything reflecting the frailty of our mortality are accepted and considered to be appropriate. Of course, some individuals might take these considerations too far and make the festivities more about fear, but that’s not where our origins lie.

It was in Ireland, Scotland and England that All Hallows Eve first became a combination of prayer and merriment. At that time children would go door-to-door and they would sing, “Soul, soul, an apple or two, if you haven’t an apple, a pear will do, one for Peter, two for Paul, three for the Man Who made us all.” The tradition of All Hallows Eve emerged from an era when death actually was a serious and acceptable meditation. Christian art from that period shows skulls and bones as commonplace for interior decoration, at least in the cells of the convents and monasteries. While our contemporary commercialism whitewashes many rituals and festivals of their true meaning, history teaches us there is more to the story than just this moment. Even though our bodies shall indeed return to dust some day, because of Jesus’ resurrection, because he is our living hope, death will not have the last word! Therefore there is good reason for prayer and merriment and there can be meaning in commemorating and maybe even making a mockery of death with masks, decorations and dress-up! I think we should embrace the opportunity to confront death for ourselves, and do so in community, because that’s the other opportunity October 31 affords us. It’s the one night a year in our towns, neighborhoods, and communities that we truly share with our neighbors; knocking on each other’s doors, sharing candy and conversation as families. In our culture there isn’t any other celebration or event like it!  It’s an incredible open invitation for the body of Christ to connect with their greater community, which is also why we wake up from our candy comatose on the morning of November 1 to remember the rich history and heritage of the Church that also invites us to celebrate community in another way.

All Hallows Eve is the Eve of All Saints Day, and All Saints Day is an opportunity we far too often forget. The “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) is our lineage and inheritance. It is the memory and the testimony of those who have lived faithfully for the LORD and have gone on before us. For those of us who live out our Christianity in a culture of great comfort and convenience, All Saints Day is an important opportunity for us to commemorate those who have sacrificed so much: those who have suffered persecution and martydom in the past and those who continue to suffer persecution around the world today. While Halloween, with it’s candy and costumes, gives us reason to embrace our mortality and make a mockery of death, All Saints Day provides us with an increased awareness of just how great a cloud of witnesses we belong to and how we too can follow faithfully in such a way.

So, pastors, let us not overlook the opportunities our culture and the Christian calendar affords us. Let us educate and equip the families of our congregations so that, come the morning of November 1, we might worship in some way, share in a moment of silence in honor of those who have gone before us, and invite our children to pray for those presently persecuted for their commitment to Christ.

Further Reading and Resources:

Halloween – Trick or Treat Video

Catholic Education All Hallows Eve

Preaching On All Saints Day

Saints to Imitate on All Saints Day

Praying for the Persecuted Church

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Why It’s Time To Lose the Calculator Tue, 25 Oct 2016 08:00:22 +0000

October 25, 2016

Matthew 26:6-16

6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.

8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.


The irony is so thick as to almost be confusing. On the one hand an unnamed woman breaks open a very expensive jar of perfume and pours it over the head of Jesus. It is an uncalculated gift.

On the other hand, Judas, one of Jesus original disciples sells him out to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. Nothing could have been more calculating than this.

Love has no calculator. It has nothing to do with the amount and everything to do with the heart. Consider the widow in the Temple who put in two copper coins. Jesus said she had given more than anyone else there that day. They had given out of their excess. She gave all she had. This woman gave what some have estimated to be worth a year’s wages.

Over the course of my life, I’ve been around a lot of people who have a lot of money and a number of them have given a lot of money away. They always bring a calculator. Don’t hear me wrong. Calculated giving is good and God blesses it.

I think what I’m trying to say is that every day giving can be honorable and generous and immensely significant. Then there is Love. Love is giving raised to another order of magnitude. Amount has nothing to do with it. That’s why a calculator doesn’t even make sense. There is no calculus when a person is moving in the supernatural realm of love. Because they keep no record of wrongs, they also keep no record of rights. Because they hold everything loosely, they can give everything freely. It does not make sense. It never will. This is the stuff of God. It’s funny how it can drive disciples to sheer indigence!

Isn’t it interesting how we admire big givers. We salute them. We put their names on buildings. We look up to them. To say we admire this woman seems absurd. We are in awe of her. We can’t put her name on a building because we don’t even know her name. Her story, however, will never be forgotten. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” But why? Because what she did bears witness to what Jesus did. As she poured out that very costly perfume for the sake of Jesus, so he would pour out his infinitely costly life for the sake of her (and us).

Giving can come from many motivations. Love can only come from being loved. Giving is always good. Love, on the other hand, is always Divine.

See the difference?


Father, we want to become un-calculating givers; which is to say we want our offering to carry the freight of Divine Love. While we know it when we see it, we don’t know how it works. We know it has nothing to do with what we can afford or not. Lift us off the plane of our present mindset and into the realm of Divine Love. We want to live our lives in that economy, which will never add up on our earth bound balance sheets. Teach us to love. In Jesus name, Amen.
Daily Text MATTHEW 10-25-16


1. What stands out to you about today’s text and the story it tells?

2. Reflect on this statement: So often in response to another’s giving we give thanks to God for the giver. When we see giving raised to the level of Divine Love, we give thanks to God for God.

3. What would it look like for you to hide your calculator? What would that mean? What would have to happen inside of you?

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Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.

J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Fulfillment: Jesus and the Old Testament by Timothy Tennent Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:29:42 +0000 Timothy Tennent

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This We Believe! Meditations on the Apostles’ Creed by Timothy Tennent Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:25:51 +0000 Timothy Tennent

]]> 0 63146 The Call to Holiness: Pursuing the Heart of God for the Love of the World by Timothy Tennent Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:20:54 +0000 Timothy Tennent

]]> 0 63144 Ten Words, Two Signs, One Prayer: Core Practices of the Christian Faith by Timothy Tennent Mon, 24 Oct 2016 21:03:23 +0000 Timothy Tennent

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