Tom Datema alerted me to a seminar–in just two weeks–by the guys at Midnight Oil Productions. Tom and I heard these guys at a ChurchMedia.net conference. They’re tremendous. Both were once on staff with Ginghamsburg Church in the Dayton, Ohio, area, as part of the group that designed worship experiences. They are especially good when it comes to using imagery and metaphor. Their seminar was perhaps the best one on this subject I’ve ever attended.

The cost is $99 per day, and they’re taking walk-ins, so you don’t even need to register in advance. And if Dayton is too early, they’re doing this seminar in other locations.They are doing two one-day seminars back to back:

  • Monday, April 27: Creative Worship. Philosophy and tips putting together engaging digital-age worship experiences.
  • Tuesday, April 28: Design Matters. About creating media for use in worship services.

The Easter season is always exciting for churches. That’s when we see some of our biggest attendances, and it’s when a lot of ministry occurs.

So tell me what happened during the Easter season at your church, so I can share it here with others. Or, just leave a comment.

Mark Ralph, pastor of Sunfield UB church (Sunfield, Mich.), has faced very serious vertigo for the past three weeks. He has fallen down a number of times. Tomorrow, Wednesday, he undergoes a four-hour series of tests to try to determine what is happening. Please keep Mark in your prayers.

J. Michael Caley, senior pastor, Banner of Christ (Byron Center, Mich.)

We broke the 300 barrier for the first time in three years, with 304 combined in our two services. Best yet, after a meaningful Good Friday and powerful Easter morning, we saw one first-time commitment and three rededications to Christ.

The Kid City staff and Josh Good, the youth pastor, ministered to 80 kids on Saturday, then they all bagged over 4000 ‘eggs’ hidden in our back field!

Our budget is $6500 a week, but our average giving since February 1 is running over $7500.

God is movin’ and shakin’ in some cool ways.

Marvin Schwartz, pastor, New Horizons UB (Rockford, Ohio)

Easter was a great time for New Horizons. We had 284 in attendance with 60 below fifth grade. Our average attendance has increased to 196. As I stepped back and watched the people come in, I realized quickly that many were individuals who had not been here in a long time.

One person (a regular attendee) came up to me before the service and, in a calm voice with his arm around my shoulders, said, “It better be good today, Pastor.” No pressure there. I believe he had family members coming who hadn’t been in church for a long time; having them be there, by itself, was a major breakthrough for him.

We did our best not to make our service any different than other services. I didn’t want people’s first impression of us being something we weren’t. Therefore, everything we did on Easter Sunday we strive to do every Sunday (except for the 8:30 breakfast, where all were invited). I use Easter as a way to reach people who normally wouldn’t be in church.

Addition from Ken Meyer of New Horizons: “We did a mass mailing of 9000 invite cards and advertisements, and were able to share with people that had never attended a worship service before! These are exciting times in our ministry.”

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My wife and I were both 23 years old when we had our first child. Some today believe that was pretty young, and no doubt it was. However, my kids are now having grandkids, and I’m glad I’ve got the strength and energy to enjoy them.

It seems the trend today is toward having children later in life. I suppose that helps explain why fertility clinics are doing so well. Some just seem to wait far too long. For some it may be a matter of completing their education, others a question of maturity, some just never think they can afford a child.

Planting churches is similar to having babies. Some wonder if it’s the right time, if they have enough resources, or if they should have a baby at all.

Our United Brethren churches in Latin America can’t follow that logic. They daughter churches at a pace that would frighten most people. The term “Octochurch” might even apply in some cases. Seemingly unconcerned about resources, timing or preparation, they simply gather believers in a new area and begin outreach. Once they begin having an impact, they build a simple shelter and before you know it, a new church has been organized. Within ten years or so, that church will probably give birth to a new church itself.

I admit, not all new churches succeed; up to one-half of all new church plants in Latin America fail. But they seem willing to tolerate a lot of failures on the road to success.

In the photograph is a group of believers who have assembled to plant one of two new churches in Managua, Nicaragua. During recent visits to Central America, I must have visited no less then 30 churches just like this one in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Honduras.

Everyone in church planting and missions is agreed that the most effective way to saturate a region for Christ is through the multiplication of growing churches. So why doesn’t it happen more often.

What about you? Have you had a baby yet? What are you waiting for?

Tony Morgan, the “Chief Strategic Officer” at a booming megachurch in South Carolina, is one of the premier bloggers in the evangelical world. He’s especially popular among the cutting-edge crowd. Really an interesting guy.

He just posted “25 Free Web Apps That Make Life Easier.” Increasingly, things are moving to the web. Instead of using a program you install on your computer, you go to a website and accomplish the same thing, whether it’s managing a calendar, writing Word documents, or managing your finances.

I was aware of, and use some of, the web apps that Tony mentions. But others were new to me. Depending on your level of geekiness, you may be interested in checking out his list.

What web apps would you add to the list? Mention them in the comments.

Registrations for XLR8, the US National Conference, are pushing toward 700. Here are the current figures (which we also update fairly regularly on the conference homepage):

  • Total registrations: 661
  • Ministerial┬ádelegates registered: 167
  • Lay delegates registered: 167 (interesting that they’re the same)
  • Attending the UB Historical Society Banquet: 111
  • Golf outing: 24 on Thursday, 24 on Saturday
  • Teens and children registered: 96

Atlantic Avenue UB (Franklin, Pa.) broke ground Monday morning, April 6, for an expension project to the church. A new sanctuary and classroom space will be added, along with a complete make-over of the entire building.

The project has a prictag of $1.96 million. The project should be completed by December of this year.

The Atlantic Avenue pastor is Gary Small. Since he arrived 17 years ago, the church has grown from 150 to about 500.

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While some chose to lay on the sandy beaches of Florida to work on their tans, 13 students from Huntington University gave up their week of rest and relaxation to build houses in Benton Harbor, Mich., on March 16-20. The university’s Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service partnered with Harbor Habitat for Humanity, the local Habitat affiliate, to complete multiple service projects around the community.

Throughout the week, students tackled a variety of tasks, such as ┬ápicking up trash, spreading mulch, and working directly on a house–putting up roof sheeting, painting, or putting in hurricane stripping. Students were on the worksite from 8 a.m. to about 3 p.m. each day.

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“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students,” said Grace McBrayer, the JMC staff advisor. “All week I saw students be selfless, inclusive to each other and serve, serve, serve!”

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After putting in more than five hours of physical work, the students took their afternoons off to enjoy the scenery, interact with members of the community, hold devotional times, participate in other service projects, and spend time together as a group playing games and building relationships.

Josh Lawrence, program coordinator of the JMC and the student leader of the trip, felt each student had a good experience. He thought the trip served as a good reminder of just how blessed students are relative to other places not too far from Huntington.

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“Our group was great, and it meant a great deal to me that everyone was willing to give up their spring break to make a practical difference,” said Lawrence, a senior business major from North Judson, Ind. “We not only grew as a team, but we saw the direct results of our efforts and the work we had done. I also think it helped put things in perspective for us.”