*** Are you a blessing? ***

I received this testimony from a young Swiss woman via Facebook. It really encouraged me, especially the post script, and I wanted to share it with you because it illustrates what the Holy Spirit does behind the computer screens.

I am a 17 year-old Swiss student. I have known Top Chretien for quite some time, and I regularly read the Thoughts for the Day and the messages for leaders. I have also been watching the MonEglise.net programs for several months. I truly wanted to thank you. I have always loved worship and that’s what drew me to MonEglise.net. I have tremendous experiences, and every week I can hardly wait until the next broadcast.

I don’t always listen to the preaching, but when I do, I find the teachings to be of good quality and well-adapted. I truly believe that God can do great things through your work and the work of your team, regardless what certain people may say. The Internet is an excellent means of evangelism, but also simply a means of getting together, and I find that you make magnificent use of it! We also clearly see your passion for God, and that, that’s fantastic. :-D

I would sincerely like to encourage you to continue all the work that you do, in spite of the difficulties, and, especially, in keeping simplicity. That’s all, I don’t know if one day you will read this message, but I really wanted to encourage you and to thank you! Finally, and briefly, my goal was to particularly encourage you for MonEglise.net, even if the other things are also great!

PS I know that God loves watching you :-) and seeing the impact that this has on us, it’s fantastic. :-D

I didn’t know this young student, but when I shared this testimony with my Swiss friends, they told me that they knew her very well and that she had a very difficult health issue. I would also like us to pray for her and tell her how much we appreciate her whole heart for the Lord and her spirit of encouragement. Go ahead, young woman, God is going to move in your life, he is already doing it, because you are a blessing!

Why not imitate this young woman, and develop a spirit of encouragement by telling those who bless us how much we appreciate what they do for us? It’s good to be blessed, but it’s even better to be a blessing! There is more joy in giving than in receiving…

*** ICC: A Relevant Church! ***

ICC Church (Impact Centre Chrétien), whose services we appreciate every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. (Paris time) on Top Chretien, is going to launch two very interesting initiatives using new technology.  “Think outside of the box,” say the Anglo-Saxons. That’s just what Pastor Yvan Castanou does, and I welcome his initiatives that I’ll share with you in this blog.

Many churches do not yet understand that using new technology should be an integral part of the life and development of a church. Why should it be? Quite simply because new technology is part of people’s daily life today! “Go all over the world,” Jesus said! We can go with emails, with websites, with Facebook, with text messages, with Knowing God, etc.; so many tools just as effective as a sound system and a video-projector!

Our study of Knowing God Internet users shows us that 100% of them visit a church’s website before visiting the church. Thus, it is extremely important for a church to be present and visible on the Internet. Besides, it is for this reason that we launched MonEglise.net, to fill somewhat the technological gap, and help Internet users understand what a local church is so that they want to go to one!

Today, new technology allows the church to go beyond its “locality”! So why not take advantage of it? ICC, therefore, is going to launch two promising initiatives in this direction:

-A multi-site conference with Myles Munroe as the speaker. Myles Munroe is an excellent preacher and a marvelous conference speaker. Sponsored by the CEAF- http://www.ceaf.fr (Community of Churches of African Expression in France), this conference is offered to all local churches that would like to broadcast it live. It will take place Thursday, June 10 to Sunday, June 13, 2010. I encourage pastors and all Christian groups to register on the website http://parisleadershipconference.com. You will need an Internet connection, a video-projector, and a meeting place. If you, as an individual, would like to follow this conference, you will need to go to one of these broadcast places. However, nothing stops you from creating your own meeting place for the broadcast if you are a group of Christians. You must hurry though! It’s coming very soon! And, I think this conference will be a great blessing for all those who follow it.

-The second initiative is courageous, and I am anxious to see the fruits with lots of enthusiasm! ICC is going to open up, as a beginning, three other meeting places, but keep only one church. How are they going to do this? By gathering people together in meeting places or hotel conference rooms in the north, in the east, and in the west of Paris and broadcasting the Sunday morning services live from ICC auditorium. In fact, the praise and worship can be done locally but the preaching of the Word of God will come from the main service. In summary, it’s one church but many meeting places united through the Internet. As a result, I think that ICC is going to have an extraordinary impact in the years to come throughout the French-speaking world. I also think that many people are going to discover Jesus as Savior.

I have been convinced for several months now that churches should grasp this vision and do the same. I welcomed, at ICC by the way, an entire pastoral team from Lifechurch.tv. They are the pioneers in the domain of multi-site churches. They have a church in Oklahoma City and 15 meeting places all over the United States. They originated the YouVersion, the free Bible for iPhone. They are also the initiators of ChurchOnline, an internet church that encouraged me a lot. (I’ll talk to you about it another time.) Thirty pastors responded to the invitation. The general idea is that we can move the church to where the people live, and therefore, increase the impact of a local church or a particular ministry. In other words, multiply the number of meeting places by broadcasting the services through Internet, and thus, increase the impact of a church.

I understand that this new model of the church doesn’t suit everyone! But I believe that it is very biblical that a particular ministry of teacher, evangelist or prophet not be confined to only one meeting place. We have always defended the idea that these ministries should be itinerant, and rightly so. Today, there are other means of going, and the Internet gives us the opportunity. So why not seize it! Why shouldn’t the church use this technology to reach cities and even islands everywhere in the world, especially where there is no pastor!

I congratulate Pastor Yvan Castanou and ICC Church for opening up this new way. For goodness sake, let’s avoid petty criticism, and let’s try to encourage creative and innovative initiatives for the Kingdom of God, in any case, at least on Top Chretien. I count on you for that!

Allow me to ask you this question: “Do you think that the actual model of operating our churches is sacred? Or do you think that we should use all means at our disposal to spread the knowledge of Jesus Christ?” I will be very interested in knowing your opinion.

*** Are you relevant? ***

We live in a very different culture from the one the Apostle Paul lived in. His culture was essentially religious. However, he had understood a very great principle: it was to become all things to everyone in order to win some of them. I do everything for the cause of the Gospel, he said! (1 Cor. 9) Besides, he wrote his epistles in the New Testament in Koiné Greek (popular Greek) and not in Hebrew (the language of the Law) … do you wonder why …

We live in a visual and artistic culture made up of music and dances in which the image is extremely important. How do we approach our culture with the Gospel? Are we relevant?

Several years ago, I went to Hungary in the context of my role with CIJEM (a youth movement that I like a lot). That weekend, as if by chance, the “Faith Church” was inaugurating their new facility. So, I asked the young person accompanying us to take us to their dedication service. Imagine three “big” French pastors in a 1970′s Traban. It was a very old, tiny car, and it had no shock absorbers. We arrived at their brand new facility and believe me, I was shocked! The entrance hall could hold 500 persons seated and the main hall, more than 10,000. And it was packed! Perhaps this isn’t your style of church, but that’s not the question! The question is: How could a church experience such growth in so difficult a context as post-communist Hungary? And, it is this same church that offers us the following video clip where we see 1,300 youth dancing in the streets of Budapest, the Pearl of the Danube. They dance to openly testify to their faith in the resurrected Jesus Christ as the answer for their country.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5dSIL358NM]

And you, what do you do to be relevant in your culture and bring it the Gospel message? What do you do to become all things to everyone in order to win some of them?

As for me, I try to understand where the Internet is going and how to reach the greatest number on the Internet with the Good News of Jesus Christ. With the evolution of social networks like Facebook and its famous question “do you want to be my friend?”, I think that we have an incredible opportunity to introduce the one who wants to be their friend, Jesus! But we need to reflect, to understand this culture, and then to act in consequence. Of course, not intentionally, this will always evoke reactions from religious people who think that their church culture is sacred. I think that the Gospel is sacred, not culture. And you, what do you think?

*** Give It All You've Got! ***

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Seth Godin. He’s a well-known American writer especially in the fields of marketing and communication. He recently wrote the following blog which caught my attention and you are going to understand why:

This was sort of shocking, at least to me:

I was talking to a religious leader, someone who runs a congregation. She made it clear to me that on many days, it’s just a job. A job like any other, you show up, you go through the motions, you get paid.

I guess we find this disturbing because spiritual work should be real, not faked.

But isn’t your work spiritual?

I know doctors, lawyers, waiters and insurance brokers who are honestly and truly passionate about what they do. They view it as an art form, a calling, and an important (no, an essential) thing worth doing.

In fact, I don’t think there’s a relationship between what you do and how important you think the work is. I think there’s a relationship between who you are and how important you think the work is.

Life’s too short to phone it in.

This blog gets our attention, doesn’t it? I don’t know if Seth Godin is a Christian or not, but he puts the finger on an important point. Why and how we do things…

What he cites obliges me to examine myself. I am a little ashamed of what that religious person said for I, too, am what one would call a “religious leader”. I am one, not by career choice, but because I received a very clear call to serve God. I would never want that calling to be transformed into a job that I should accomplish to earn a living! However, I must likewise admit that certain days are also more difficult than others: fatigue, lassitude, personal battles, temptations, routine…And during days like those, I remember some very good advice that my wife forwarded to me, and that I try to put into practice: the three Es.

Energy: God gives strength to the weary one. Keep moving forward!

Enthusiasm: Do everything with the right attitude, for the Lord and with him!

Empathy: If I am interested in others, I forget my little mistakes. I am not the center of everything!

I hope this advice will be as useful for you as it has been for me.

And you, how do you live your work and your life? With all you’ve got or as an obligation?

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