TO REVIVE THE BLESSING!!!
1st Trimester 2021 Minnesota Church Ministries
Association Vol. 25 – No. 1
It has been 35 years since John Trent and
Gary Smalley treated the Christian world to the concepts contained in the book
entitled, The Blessing.
These principles of sharing love and grace with others, based on the Old
Testament practice of offering a blessing are critically important to us in
this season following the pandemic we have just experienced. To give a cursory review, the 5 elements of The
1. Meaningful touch.
2. A spoken message of love and acceptance.
3. Attaching “high value” to the person being
4. Picturing a special future for that person.
5. An active commitment to fulfill the blessing.
Throughout the past year, we have been
touch-deprived in the Christian community.
We have been warned not to shake hands and hug. We have kept our social distance. We have suffered greatly from not feeling the
warmth that brothers and sisters usually extend to one another. For our own emotional health, we need that
touch restored and even intensified!
Communication has been hampered in this
past season because of the masks that have muffled our expressions. Having a meaningful conversation that declares
our love and acceptance has become a tougher task. To clearly convey just how valuable the other
person is in your estimation gets muddled by the stifling of your voice and the
shrouding of your smile.
The special future we envision for those we
would wish to bless has even been called into question by the pronouncements of
the experts who paint a dark picture of what to expect in the days ahead. A very real fear has gripped many that there
is no bright future…only one of successive battles against future viruses or
variants that arise.
Ongoing commitments to those we wish to
bless are somehow dampened because we don’t know what our future opportunities
will be to participate to fulfill the blessing.
Enough doubt about the future has been planted in people’s minds that
they hesitate in any kind of commitment…even in something as simple as meeting
up for breakfast or lunch…let alone any kind of ongoing promise of support and
From all of these dynamics we need to be
delivered. I am praying now for the
lifting of mask mandates, especially in the wake of widespread
vaccinations. I am also encouraging my
fellow brothers and sisters to rise up in faith and recognize that the
de-personalization of the last year cannot continue. We need to reach out and physically touch
others, graciously communicate our love and belief in them and their futures,
and endeavor to be a significant ongoing presence in their lives to be a
continual blessing to them as we commit ourselves to walk together.
People of faith must be the ones to lift
the entire society out of this state of suspended animation to do what God has
called us to do in the season ahead. May
God give us the faith and boldness to pursue lives that pass on The
Blessing to others!
Timothy A. Johnson, Executive Director
YOU HAVE RELIEF FOR THE DOG DAYS!
2nd Trimester 2021 Minnesota Church Ministries Association Vol. 25 – No. 2
The Dog Days of Summer, according to the experts
is described like this…Dog Days traditionally refers to a period of particularly hot
and humid weather occurring during the summer months of July and
August in the Northern Hemisphere. In ancient Greece and Rome,
the Dog Days were believed to be a time of drought, bad luck,
and unrest, when dogs and men alike would be driven mad by the extreme heat.
I am sure that most of us in
Minnesota would agree that we have been passing through the Dog Daysin recent weeks. This period certainly
will pass as such weather phenomena always do.
But it could be argued that right now we are experiencing Dog Daysin a number of ways.
Political unrest, international
instability, economic unpredictability, rising crime, and even in the church a
lack of confidence about the future…all point to uncomfortable realities. We are living in challenging days which can
even take a toll on us spiritually and emotionally.
It is in just such an environment
that the Church of Jesus Christ can do her best work. Just think of what we offer to people through
1. THE GOSPEL ITSELF. The message of grace, forgiveness, and new
life in a relationship with Jesus that the Church offers gives hope,
confidence, and assurance during times of stress…whether they be personal,
corporate, national, or international. For
literally thousands of years, we have heard personal testimonies of how Jesus
has made the difference for people spiritually and emotionally.
2. THE WORD. The perspective that those who are tutored by
the truth of Scripture and nourished by the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit sustains
them as they move through difficulties.
When the great story of the Bible is unveiled to us, we recognize that
what we are facing today is in many ways similar to what faithful people have experienced
in the past….and in fact may be less stressful than some things they lived
through by the power of God.
3. THE BODY. The encouragement that comes from the body of
believers enables the individual to rise above immediate challenges. Relationships within the Church at times can
be strained and even cruel…yet on balance, having a group of people who are
called to be a source of love and grace is a huge benefit. The relationships one can experience and
enjoy over a lifetime become a lifesaver to those who are part of the church.
Our Association aims to
strengthen these expressions of ministry that are regular features of the local
church. May God make us all more and
more effective in our own assemblies in helping people through the Dog
Days they encounter!
Timothy A. Johnson,
A TIME FOR PATIENCE & PERSISTENCE!
3rd Trimester 2021 Minnesota Church Ministries Association Vol. 25 – No. 3
As we move further through
the pandemic that we have been enduring, many church leaders are posing serious
questions about the future of the Church…not just about their individual
congregations, but the Body of Christ across the whole country and beyond.
Attendance continues to be
sluggish in many places, leaders are not sure who is with them or who has fled
to another fellowship, or if online streaming will be the permanent choice
people will make as opposed to in-person worship.
I want to give a word of
encouragement and challenge to you that can give perspective:
1. JESUS SAID I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH! We must take
courage in the fact that Christ is the Lord of the Church and he is out in
front of us even when we don’t feel it from week to week. His sovereign leadership is already being
seen if you look close! Open your eyes
to what God is already doing!
2. ROME WAS NOT REBUILT IN A DAY!!! The unsettling
nature of the last two years in church life will not be overcome
immediately. The fruit of the Spirit of
patience is in order. God will make all
things beautiful in His time.
3. PERSISTENCE IN THE RIGHT THINGS needs to be our daily commitment. In the long run, people will respond to love,
to the gospel, to the word, to personal touches, to consistent character…and we
must continue in the things we know are fundamentally necessary in church
work. The words of Calvin Coolidge
should be taken to heart: Nothing
in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is
more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded
genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated
derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press
On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. These words which apply to any human
endeavor take on special meaning when we know we are in partnership with an
Almighty God who enables our persistence to bear fruit.
May God give you a new sense
of empowerment and anticipation as you recognize His primary leadership in the
Church and your responsibility to remain patient and persistent in the work you
have been called to do.
A. Johnson, Executive Director
RESCUING US FROM HERESY
4th Quarter 2022 Minnesota Church Ministries
Association Vol. 26 – No. 4
historically been committed to a belief in the inerrancy and inspiration of the
Scriptures as a foundation stone to truth and life. A recent survey by Ligonier Ministries
revealed the following statistics regarding confessing Evangelical believers that
seem to shake that foundation:
w 48% of Evangelicals believe that
God changes…that he learns and adapts over time, only 43% believe He does not
w 71% of Evangelicals reject the
doctrine of original sin; only 21% hold to it.
w 36% of Evangelicals believe that
church membership matters; 56% do not.
w 43% of Evangelicals reject he deity
w 38% of Evangelicals believe that
the Christian faith is personal, not objective truth.
w 37% believe that gender identity is
a matter of choice.
w 28% believe that the biblical
condemnation of homosexuality does not apply today.
The knee-jerk reaction
to such surveys is, Who actually responded to this survey? Are these self-identified evangelicals really
Christ followers and believers in the Word of God? And yet, these results are disquieting to us
and should perhaps give rise to some introspection. How well are we doing in communicating
biblical truth in our generation?
Let me suggest an
antidote to these trends in thinking among the general Evangelical population:
1. A Recommitment to Biblical Inerrancy. As leaders we must
strongly reaffirm our belief in the Bible as the source of truth we lean upon.
2. A Re-Emphasis on Historic Doctrine. Reacquaint the people
with key doctrinal commitments…either based on your own Church’s statement of
faith or on one or another of the historic confessions.
3. A Re-Strategizing Regarding Adult Education. A return to more
comprehensive teaching to larger groups of adults in regular classes may need
to be pursued to give guidance to as great a number of adults as possible.
It seems that the current
quality of preaching, teaching, and small group activity is not producing
biblically sound Christian disciples.
May God help us do what is necessary to rescue our people from heresy!
A. Johnson, Executive Director
THIS WEEK’S MINISTRY WILL LAST FOREVER!
3rd Quarter 2022 Minnesota Church Ministries Association Vol. 26 – No. 3
In most of our churches we
find ourselves wondering if what we are doing is really having an impact. Are people’s lives really being change? Are we filling the spiritual void around us
in any meaningful way?
Once in a awhile, God gives
us a glimpse of hope regarding what is happening…but many times that is only in
retrospect, looking back on ministry that took place years ago. The other night those of us who were a part
of the fellowship of Central Free Church in Minneapolis, which went out of
organizational existence back in 2003 gathered for a reunion just to refresh
our connections. It was a wonderful
Although we all showed twenty
years of aging, there was an instant heart to heart bond we all shared as we
fellowshipped together. We were back together in the same building where we all
served together, worshipped together, raised our kids together, benefited from clear
teaching and preaching from the word of God, and shared in each other’s lives.
Individuals testified in
conversation how their faith grew through their years in that place; how their
gifts were developed for the benefit of church ministry and personal
careers in that place; how they were glad that their children got their start
in church involvement in that place; how the relationships forged in that place
are still some of the most meaningful in their lives.
As we were all connected
there 20+ years ago, there were times when we were not sure of the impact that
ministry was having. Looking back on it
now, we see just how much God was accomplishing through faithful and consistent
efforts over many years…even though the attendance in there was on a gradual
This reunion experience
should encourage all of us! What we are
doing this week in ministry, when it is well done and well-motivated, will have
a lasting impact both in time and eternity.
No matter whether your church is growing or shrinking…what you do THIS
WEEK can have positive results 20 years from now.
Remember this as you start
another school year of ministry where you are. Jesus said, “I will build my
church!” The church is being built in
the lives and ministries of all His people where true believers, the Word, and
the Spirit reside. Take courage and
praise God for what is happening where you are!
A. Johnson, Executive Director
OVERCOMING THE BIG LIES!
2nd Quarter 2022 Minnesota Church Ministries
Association Vol. 26 – No. 2
In a movie of yesteryear,
Groucho Marx was caught by his wife with another woman and posed that famous
question: “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” Nazi propaganda minister Goebbels cynically
admitted that if you repeat a big lie long enough everyone will believe
it. And today we are being asked by
politicians to listen to their unrelenting spin on almost any issue that often denies
the realities that are plain to see.
In spiritual and ministry
terms, there are several big lies that are often repeated that we must be ready
to resist. Consider these:
1. You as an individual are trapped by forces beyond
your control. A wide of range of environmental, genetic,
and sociological conditions supposedly hold us in their grip and we are unable
to work our way out of it. The Apostle
Paul made it clear even in facing the ups and downs of life that he could do
all things through Christ who strengthened him.
We are not victims; we are more than conquerors!
2. Faith is for weaklings. We are told,
like Governor Jesse Ventura once explained, “organized religion is a sham and
crutch for weak-minded people who find strength in numbers.” That may be a natural response from a
would-be hot-shot professional wrestler.
But true faith in God has been testified to by people of great strength
in all pursuits of life. Presidents,
kings, law-makers, educators, scientists, business people, and millions of
common people with uncommon strength point to the empowerment that faith offers
3. The ministry of the Church is having no
impact. Statistics are offered to show how
involvement in Church is on the decline and that aggregate impact of the church
is negligible in society. The only way
to prove just how much impact Christians are having to have them all extracted
from society at once! In point of fact, most of what is good, positive, and
redemptive springs from the inner core of Christian teaching and
understanding. Christians who truly
embrace a worldview that is based on biblical teaching live lives that lift the
morale of the society around them and are, as Jesus said, the salt of the earth
that preserves and enhances everything and everyone they touch.
Don’t give it to the big lies
that are being broadcast in our day.
Trust the Spirit of God and His Word to do their work and make the Big
Lies inoperative in our eyes and the rest of the world.
A. Johnson, Executive Director
1st Quarter 2022 Minnesota Church Ministries Association Vol. 26 – No. 1
All ministry is
relational. The primary relationship, of
course is with God Himself through Jesus Christ. That vertical relationship is complemented by
the horizontal relationships within the Church and community. As leaders in the church, we must take three
dimensions of responsibility seriously in order to develop relational ministry
in our congregations:
1. WE MUST BE MODELS. People
look to us for direction on to how to build relationships. They need to see us as strong leaders in our
families; as those open to new friendships; and as growing in our people
skills. This will be communicated in our
preaching and teaching, in personal conversation with individuals, and in how
we develop connections even on boards and committees. Deeping relational connections between the
key leaders of the church will help to set a positive pace for the entire
2. WE MUST BE MATCH-MAKERS. Within
the congregation, as leaders we need to be constantly working at matching
people up to develop new friendships and connections. Finding people with similar interests who can
enjoy fellowship both informally as well as in organized small groups will
foster warm friendships. Getting people
together to share meals in both individual homes and in larger settings at church
will be also give rise to new relationships.
3. WE MUST BE MOBILIZERS. As the
congregation moves out from the worship and fellowship they enjoy at the
church, they need to be challenged to be forging new connections in the homes
and communities in order to be obedient to the Great Commission. With every person that is encountered each
day, individual believers have the opportunity to reach out, touch, love, and
positively impact others as friendships and family connections are
deepened. Leaders must constantly be
reminding people of the need for intentional personal outreach in order for the
mission of the Church to be realized.
The sociologists tell us
these days that Americans are becoming more and more isolated, lonely, and
disconnected from community. The Church
is uniquely positioned to meet this need as believers are equipped and
commissioned to move out with the love and grace of Jesus in deeper
relationships in the Church, home, and community.
A. Johnson, Executive Director