Adult Ministries Blog

Exploring New Ways to Pray

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA11er @ 11:21 AM

Philippians 4:6 - "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

What a blessing to know that we can come to God in prayer anywhere, at any time and through every situation! Although we are all at different places in our prayer lives, God hears all of our requests, and as we have more experience with prayer, we develop a consciousness of God’s presence and move gradually forward in our spiritual growth and understanding of God’s will.

There are many opportunities to come together in prayer at Calvary. Worship, Bible studies, small groups, service projects, classes and cell groups all have a component of prayer. This summer, there will also be a new opportunity to pray with others between worship services from 10:05 to 10:25 a.m. in the Gathering Room (with the exception of June 5 when prayer will be in Room N205). Everyone is invited to join us and lift up the joys and challenges, people and events at Calvary and beyond our borders!

There are a variety of ways to encourage each other in prayer. Try one or more of these small group prayer methods...

  • Written Prayers. Give people time to write a short prayer on a piece of paper. Then suggest that those who are willing can read it aloud.

  • Sentence Prayers. Often people are helped to pray aloud if given a sentence to complete. Ask them to complete a sentence like:

Lord, I thank you for_____

Lord, forgive me for _____

Lord, help my friend _____

Lord, help me to be more _____

Lord, help me to let go of _____

Lord, give me the courage to ______

Lord, one of my fears I need help with is ______

  • Prayer Requests. Ask the participants to share special needs that can be remembered in prayer. The participants may prefer to write them on a sheet of paper. As a starter you can go around the circle and ask volunteers to share a request. Then tell them that the mention of a request was a prayer. Just say “Amen” and remind them that God heard the request.

  • Specific Prayer. As the trust level grows and the participants become more comfortable with prayer, you can ask them to share specific concerns or personal needs. Then ask each participant to pray for the one on their left. Let them know this ahead of time so they can listen carefully. This makes prayer personal and specific.

  • Silent Prayer. Set aside two or three minutes for this. You may suggest topics to pray about. Let the participants know how you will end this time of prayer.

  • Popcorn Prayer. The facilitator begins with a brief prayer such as, “Lord, we are thankful for…” and then group participants randomly complete the sentence. No introduction or "Amen" is needed. Words pop up from different places. You can use this with specific topics or as a general prayer.

  • Laying on of Hands. On certain occasions it may be appropriate to ask one or more persons to lay their hands on one participant who needs special prayer. They can place a hand on the head, shoulder, or back. The touch is affirming.

  • Prayer Journal. Encourage participants to write down prayer requests that are shared in the group. As participants report back, they can check off progress made. Also, encourage participants to jot down feelings or ideas about prayer as they come to them. Include a list of answered prayers.

  • Circle Prayer. Sit or stand in a circle. Holding hands can be optional. Invite volunteers to share a brief prayer. Use the silent moments for prayer as well. Assign someone to close with a prayer. Sometimes you can begin by praying the Lord’s Prayer in a circle.

"Pressing On" Through Adult Ministries & Discipleship

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA10er @ 10:38 AM

Leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus is exciting! When you study Jesus, you see love, kindness, patience, gentleness―the very foundation of great relationships! Jesus walked alongside people, building community with them. He understood them and knew what they needed most.

Through our adult ministries and groups, we would like to come alongside you to live life together, build friendships to encourage each other, grow together through God’s Word and prayer, and serve together to impact the world around us. We are a church working together to show the love of Christ! Join us on the journey!

Your journey begins with our invitation. From retreats and classes to “Man Cave” experiences and small group studies, there are many ways to deepen your faith and to experience authentic community as we move into the summer months.

Join us for worship services on a Sunday or Thursday or dive deeper into what it means to live the Jesus Lifestyle during our series on Sunday mornings. Serve others in our community and at Calvary through Calvary Works or the Calvary Guest Experience. Receive healing and renewal through a prayer and healing service or pray for others during our summer prayer sessions. Attend a small group or fellowship group and journey through life with good friends who are there for each other in every season of life.

Every step on our journey is a step into a closer relationship with Jesus. And as we grow in that relationship, our hearts will be evident through our character and actions. Eric Russ, lead pastor of Mack Avenue Community Church in Detroit, lists the characteristics of a Christian disciple, which may be useful as “guideposts” in our journeys (from “Discipleship Defined”):

A true disciple of Jesus worships God. If you are a new creation in Christ, you are someone who brings glory to God and recognizes His honor.

A disciple must be confident of Christ’s death and resurrection for his salvation. He must know that he is a child of God and Christ dwells within him.

A disciple walks in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is responsible for everything that happens in the life of a believer—his new birth, daily walk, understanding of Scripture, prayer, etc. He produces the fruit of the Spirit in us, which enables us to live holy lives and witness for Christ.

A disciple demonstrates love for God, neighbor, fellow disciples, and enemies. Jesus commands us to love God with every fiber of our being and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

A disciple is one who knows how to read, study, memorize, and meditate upon the Word of God, to store its truths in his heart. It is impossible to walk in the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit without understanding God’s Word. The reverse is also true: you cannot understand God’s Word without the Holy Spirit.

A true disciple of Jesus is a man or woman of prayer. Jesus models throughout Scripture that communicating with God is one of the most important things in a Christian’s life. He models that those who are children of God seek the Father.

A disciple is one who obeys the commands of God in a lifestyle that honors Christ.

A disciple is one who trusts God and lives a life of faith. Scripture reminds us that, “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

A disciple understands God’s grace. God loves us unconditionally, whether we obey Him or not. This is the opposite of legalism—a heretic way of thinking that urges us to try to obey God’s laws in our own wisdom, strength, and power.

A disciple is one who witnesses for Christ as a way of life. If you love Jesus, you are spurred on to tell people about Him, testifying to what He has done in your life.

Do You Believe?: Recognizing God's Plan, Taking Action & Living for Jesus

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA11er @ 11:06 AM

There are many cultural influences and different schools of thought in our society that lead us to ask multiple questions and even cause us to follow a different path in life. This can leave us feeling confused and uncertain.

But if we focus on one question—“Do I believe?”—and truthfully examine the role that faith plays in our hearts and lives, we can discover the one path that will make all the difference. That is the path we take as we go deeper into our relationship with Jesus and continue our walk as his disciple, living out our faith and putting it into action.

The motion picture and small group study "Do You Believe?" aims to help each of us answer that question for ourselves. The study highlights four central truths through four questions that can help guide each of us to an understanding of what it means to really believe and what we can do as a result.

The writers of "Do You Believe?" have this to say about those themes:

Do you believe God has a plan?

Our lives may be complicated with the struggle of sin, but God has always had a plan to save us.

It’s hard to accept that our pain could be exactly what leads us to peace and hope. But what if that was always the plan? What if God has always had a plan to save us from the inevitable hollow end of a life lived in hopelessness and sin? Could He be using those awful struggles to point us toward the deliverance we seek? Do you believe God has a plan?

Do you believe you are a part of God’s plan?

It’s our choice to recognize God’s work in the world or to deny His involvement in the experiences we have every day. If we believe that God has a plan, we should acknowledge that His plan is still in progress. He is working even now to further His intention to save all who would accept His forgiveness. His desire is that we would participate in His plan of salvation for the world. Participation requires us to recognize that God is currently at work in people’s lives all around us.

Do you believe that faith requires action?

Having faith in God requires belief followed by action. As Christians, we should not be content in the knowledge that God has a plan without having the desire to participate in it. The knowledge of Jesus’s sacrifice for us should motivate us to act.

Faith will prompt us to do things that we know we can’t do by ourselves. The action is bigger than something we could do on our own. Having confidence in God’s plan when we cannot possibly see the outcome is the point at which we understand true faith.

Do you believe Jesus is worth your sacrifice?

Submitting to God’s plan requires sacrifice. Jesus asks us to give our whole lives to follow after Him. Every day we have opportunities to share Jesus’s salvation with people. With every opportunity comes sacrifice. Some of the sacrifices are small; others will cost us everything. But to truly follow Jesus, what we sacrifice is dominion over our own destiny. And that is a spiritual act of worship―laying aside our right to be in charge of ourselves and willfully handing that responsibility to God, regardless of the outcome.

More about "Do You Believe?">>

Spiritual Practices for Lent: “Adding in” Versus “Giving up”

Posted by Richard Knopf on OP4er @ 4:34 PM

The season of Lent represents the 40 days (not counting Sundays) from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. For Christians, it is a period of preparation for Easter and a time to strengthen one's faith through repentance, prayer, fasting and acts of service. For many of us, we may give up something for Lent, such as soda, coffee, wine, chocolate or TV. During Lent this year, why not focus on adding something new to your life? Though we’re already halfway to Easter, it’s never too late and it’s never the wrong time to try a new spiritual practice…

With anything we do in life, the more we “practice” the more we grow in that area. If we want to become good golfers, we need to get out there and play a round at least two to three times a week. The same is true for any sport. And it holds true with our faith as well.

Lent is a wonderful time to focus on growing our faith. Through various Lenten practices, we can be more intentional in our faith journey, as well as in growing and deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ. Consider making more room for these practices in your life:

Prayer & meditation
Schedule a daily time for prayer. Having a daily appointment with God is indeed the most important thing any of us could have in our planners each day. Use books like Places Along the Way: Pocket Devotions for Lent by Martin Marty and the Christ in Your Home devotional (available at Calvary’s Information Desk) to help make the most of your prayer time.

Study & worship
Attending the Lenten worship services at Calvary is a wonderful experiential way to learn and to grow deeper in your faith; a traditional noon service was recently added to our evening line-up. If you are attending our Lenten “Cul de Sac” series, use the takeaway cards distributed at each service as a means to deepen your focus on the themes that are highlighted each week.

There is also a wide variety of resources to help you in your personal or small group study. Here are a few of our favorites for the Lenten season:

  • The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (available for purchase at Calvary’s Information Desk)
  • Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster
  • A Lenten Discipline by Thomas W. Strieter (based on the liturgies and meditation of Luther’s Small Catechism)
  • The Lenten Pharmacy―Daily Healing Therapies by Edward Hays (daily reflections on how to live a healthy and holy life)

Acts of service
During Lent, we can also commit to doing something for others. It could be volunteering at church, at school or in your community. And it can be as simple as helping a neighbor in need right across the street. With all the Lenten and Holy Week services at Calvary, we need a great assortment of ushers, greeters, food servers and parking lot helpers to help welcome guests. Why not seek out a new way to serve others during this Lenten season?

Fasting is another spiritual practice that some people do during Lent. Some fast for a day and others may fast one meal a day or week. Still others will fast one day from morning to evening and have a light dinner. Fasting is an agreed upon time between you and God not to eat. It is a way to commune with God, and it brings us closer to God. By eliminating the distraction of food (the planning, preparation, eating, being full and digesting) and being disciplined to overcome the hunger pains, we free ourselves to be humbled before God. “So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer” (Ezra 8:23).

God desires all of us to come to know him in a more intimate way. Though Lent is a very meaningful time to commit to deepening our relationship with him, he beckons us every day to draw closer to him in new ways. May we have the courage and discipline to take up a new practice. May we be keen to expect and notice how God meets us in it!

Seeking Christ in Transforming Your Marriage: Next Course Begins Feb. 28

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA9er @ 9:49 AM

Hi! We are Tim and Candis Johnson. We have led marriage classes here at Calvary for over a decade. However, we are not marriage experts; we are sinners who have been saved by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:6) and we are former Christmas/Easter Christians who have been transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). We know that God is a marriage expert and can transform any relationship, because he transformed ours.

As of today, we have been married for almost 21 years, but around our fifth year of marriage, we were on the brink of divorce. God didn’t start by repairing our marriage; he started by repairing our relationship with him. Looking back on it, we clearly had issues with communication and conflict resolution. We also had very dissimilar backgrounds. We grew up seeing very different ways of handling conflict and overall communication. We were ill-equipped to build a strong marriage, but despite those shortcomings, that was not the problem with our marriage. The problem was that neither one of us had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We both thought we were Christians but we did not lead a Christian life. If you were to look at our calendar (time) and checkbook (money), you could see where our priorities were and they were not in the church.

During this dark time in our marriage, Tim searched for answers and ways to save our marriage. God brought a Christian friend into his life. He pointed Tim to the Bible. He told Tim of how God had transformed his life and marriage. He mentored Tim over the next six months. During this time, Tim started to read the Bible, listen to sermons on the radio; he would go to church, and we eventually went through the Alpha Course together. God repaired our relationship with him and the resulting by-product was a renewed marriage. We are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) as God captured our hearts and changed our lives forever.

Glory to God, we are now well equipped to address communication and conflict resolution issues. Once he renewed our marriage, we became students of God’s plan for marriage. We went to biblically-based marriage conferences and studied biblically-based small group marriage studies. Over the past decade, we have led different biblically-based marriage curriculums here at Calvary. The class we are leading currently is the best curriculum we have encountered. We are committed to bring marriage enrichment courses that are based on biblical principles to others at Calvary. Another course begins soon—join us on Sundays beginning Feb. 28! More>>

One of the main things we learned is that every marriage goes through periods of ups and downs. Sometimes those downtimes get the best of us and we lose hope that things will turn around. During these downtimes are when we need to draw closer to God. God gives us many tools and abilities to take on any challenge. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do anything through Christ who gives me strength.” As we fix our eyes on Christ (Hebrews 12:1-2), read the Bible, and apply it to our own lives, we stop focusing on our spouse and all his/her flaws. We will soon realize that we are both two broken people. We both have a lot of flaws and only when we look at each other through Christ’s eyes will we be able to see past those flaws and focus on the good things in our spouse. 

Reflections on Serving from Calvary's Spanish Community

Posted by Richard Knopf on OP1er @ 1:49 PM

Serving others is an integral part of serving God. He asks us to take care of our brothers and sisters and, when we respond even in small ways, it can make a big impact on our world, community, small groups and church. The experiences of Calvary’s Spanish community is a case in point of how serving benefits everyone in its reach!

Packing meals for Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) has become an integral part of bringing together the Spanish-speaking community each year. The community bands together to make a difference in children’s lives around the world. Many of the people packing are from countries that are helped by the life-giving FMSC shipments, and they know what a difference the meals make. 

By contributing financially and volunteering, Washington says, “It is a way we can give back to the larger community. It is a way we can give back to God and thank him for all the blessings he gives to us.”

Daisy, a young woman in Calvary’s Spanish community, says helping out helps her feel good. “It makes you feel like you are making a difference in someone else’s life.” 

Daisy not only helps with the food packing event, but has also raked lawns for several years with her family. This past year, Daisy and her mom helped rake a yard, and they have been able to go back to this house several times and are building a relationship with those who live there. Daisy says, “The family cannot rake their own yard because he has no legs. However, he comes out and keeps us company every year. This person is very grateful for the help we give him in the name of Jesus Christ.” 

In serving together, Calvary’s Spanish community enjoys stronger bonds because they are doing something much bigger than themselves. They are helping the world—they have a different understanding of it since they come from many different parts of the world. The ties that are made through serving together help to build friendships, forge the unity within the group and enable the group to do more than any one individual is able to do on their own. The impact of caring for others through service is felt throughout the whole community.

Serving together is a common language—people from different parts of the world can come together and have a different understanding of and appreciation for the joys and struggles that make us all human. Hearing the stories of people helped by FMSC and other efforts helps us realize that it really can make a big impact when everyone contributes something. Like Washington and Daisy, we all have our part in God’s calling to take care of our brothers and sisters. When we’re asked to help our neighbors, whether near or far, God makes all things possible.


What's Your Next Step?

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA11er @ 11:21 AM

From Nancy Hellander Pung

Have you ever wondered…

  • About the passions that God has placed on your heart and how to translate them into action?
  • How to best use your God-given talents, gifts and strengths to serve others in a way that glorifies God and brings great joy to yourself and others?
  • How God can use those incredibly challenging seasons in your life that mold you and change you forever to bless others?

Or do you simply want to discover more of your God-given strengths, personality type, passions, values, mission and goals to live a life of meaning and purpose?

This January, the Gifts Discovery & Coaching Ministry will kick off a new online class series with seven short teaching videos that can support you in answering those questions and uncovering your next steps!

The classes will be held via Google Hangout. We will start and end each session with prayer, a short Bible study related to each week’s content, then we will dig deeper into each session, personalizing it to each class member. You will complete any assessments ahead of time (the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, StrengthsFinder 2.0 and a spiritual gifts assessment) and there will be some coaching exercises to help you discover your unique set of core values and passions, and write a personal mission statement and set goals.

Handouts for each video and a Bible study that go with each session will be available to download and print and will be used during the online Google Hangout.

At the closing session, we will share our missions and goals and move through any fears or obstacles that could get in the way of stepping out in faith to serve. This course is completely personalized for you and each participant will reflect, learn and grow more into the person God created him or her to be; to continue Jesus’ ministry in the world; to touch the world, restore the broken and equip the spiritually hungry.

Whether your next step is to sign up for a mission trip to Mexico, Honduras or Haiti; to serve food to hungry people in Golden Valley; to pray for others; or to befriend someone in need, the Gifts Discovery & Coaching Ministry would love to support you in stepping into the full potential of who God created you to be.

We are the church, we are the body of Christ and we all have gifts that can be used. And the world needs your unique gifts!

This course will be facilitated by Calvary member and leadership coach Nancy Hellander Pung. Nancy has been a licensed secondary teacher and coach for 25 years in Minnesota. She has her master’s degree in Education from Hamline University and is also a Certified Fearless Living Life Coach. She was a 2004 Minnesota Teacher of the Year semi-finalist. Nancy has taught a leadership coaching skills course for Educators at Hamline University since 2008, both in-person and most recently online. She is the CEO of Design from Within Coaching, LLC. 

Nancy is committed to living a Christ-centered life and empowering others to step into the full potential of whom God created them to be. She works primarily in public schools teaching, mentoring and coaching educators to communicate in more effective and empowering ways in order to build better relationships of trust and respect to raise academic achievement. 

The Blessings of a Servant's Heart

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA10er @ 10:31 AM

Steve and Janet Thompson enjoy befriending and sharing Jesus' love with Chinese students.From Steve & Janet Thompson

Let your faith direct your steps and take you into action!

In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells us to accept the grace of our salvation and live our lives by our faith in Christ, following in His footsteps. As Jesus said "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40).

The opportunities to serve and volunteer at Calvary are abundant.

Wanting to "give back" we started volunteering at the Community Meal; three years later we find our lives richly blessed by the friendships and community family of all who attend and volunteer with us each Tuesday.

In 2013 we learned about Pastor Tacho and Sally Dominguez's mission in Mazahua Valley. Calvary coordinates with Mazahua Valley Mission to organize trips there every year in order for us to learn from each other and grow stronger in Christ's word together. There we were very encouraged by the faith journey and love of the believers! While we were there we became much more aware of all the distractions that all of us  have to fight living in the vast material abundance of the USA. We were warmly welcomed as we worked alongside the community of believers at MVM.

As part of Calvary's Mission and Outreach efforts the Hospitality Center for Chinese is supported once a year by Calvary members. We were very blessed to be part of this enterprise the past few years. HCC sponsors a Friendship Dinner to provide interaction between Christians and new Chinese students and visiting scholars and their families. Volunteers prepare a variety of foods, serve the dinner and socialize with the Chinese friends eager to learn about Christianity and Western ways. It is such a rewarding gift to be able to share with these friends who are so eager to learn about Christianity!

We are so very thankful for all the opportunities that Calvary provides us to show the face of Christ.

Recent scientific studies  talk about “givers glow” and “volunteer high.”

“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Equipping Ourselves for Conversation, Sharing the Story of Christ

Posted by Richard Knopf on OA11er @ 11:17 AM

From Craig Anderson, facilitator
“Tactics for Defending the Faith” course

How many of us have felt unsure, hesitant or even embarrassed when we find ourselves in a conversation with an unbeliever who challenges us with some of the following statements: “truth is relative,” “there’s more than one way to God,” “the Bible has been changed over time,” “Christians are hypocrites,” “Christianity is a crutch,” “all wars have been caused by religion,” “a loving God wouldn’t send people to hell,” “I don’t believe anything unless science proves it,” “atheists can be moral,” “you have no right to judge me,” “the Bible doesn’t say anything about _____” or the old stand-by “who are you to say”?

Christian apologist, Lee Strobel writes, “We live in a day where militant atheism is on the march. Christianity is coming under attack, not just from best-selling books, skeptical college professors, and television documentaries, but increasingly from neighbors and co-workers. Each day the chances are increasing that you will find yourself in a conversation with someone who dismisses Christianity as a mythology-ridden anachronism. What will you do when they paint you into a rhetorical corner and belittle your beliefs? How will you persuasively present ‘the reason for the hope that you have’ (1 Peter 3:15)? How will you seize opportunities to get into potentially life-changing spiritual discussions with people you meet?”

This is the territory that “Tactics for Defending the Faith” covers. Developed by Greg Koukl of the Stand to Reason ministry, this course will help you learn how to get into the “driver’s seat” in any worldview conversation. You’ll learn techniques to have engaging discussions with individuals who run the gamut from being simply indifferent to blatantly hostile to the Christian faith. As Greg Koukl notes, “Soon, your conversations will look more like diplomacy than D-Day.”

During this six-week course, we’ll study and practice several face-to-face interactive exercises and introduce daily disciplines to help us improve our comfort levels when God presents opportunities to use the approach within our individual spheres of influence. It’s my prayer that we’ll experience firsthand how this approach provides an accessible game plan for winsomely dissecting competing worldviews and accelerating our transformation into bold ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16-21).

I’ll be leading this course on Sundays, Oct. 18-Nov. 22 during the 8:45 a.m. hour. If you’re interested in registering for the course, or would like additional information, you can contact me by e-mail, or by phone or text at 612.251.6739.


Being a Culture of Invitation

Posted by Richard Knopf on OP1er @ 1:16 PM

One could say that the book Just Walk Across the Room was born out of one important question: “How does anyone wind up getting saved?” The book’s author, Pastor Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Church, discovered that the answer to this question was fairly consistent—the majority of respondents were invited by others to come to church and to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

Pastor Hybels decided to ask his congregation how they got saved, and in almost every case, they recalled very normal, everyday situations that occurred in a number of ways and a variety of locations. A simple introduction at the gym. A word of encouragement at the grocery store. A question or a conversation at school, work or a fun social function. E-mails, calls, texts and tweets. Though the circumstances and settings ran the gamut, each encounter held one thing in common with the rest: one person approaching another person as led by the Spirit to share the message and love of Jesus.

At Calvary, “a culture of invitation” is among our six key values. In other words, we resonate with what Hybels discovered through his research. We’ve seen firsthand how personal invitation tops the list of ways God uses us to help grow his kingdom; evidence resides in our own testimonies, as well as the attempts we’ve made ourselves to invite others to know him. But here’s the question we need to ask ourselves today: “How can I invite others to know Jesus this fall?”

There are numerous opportunities beginning this month to which we can invite other people. With so many events on the calendar—the Community Picnic & Carnival, Calvary’s weekly worship services, numerous Bible studies, children and youth ministries, etc.—it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the options; however, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to provide perfect instruction along the way to discern just the right thing for just the right person. Steps for inviting someone to church>>

May God continue to grow us into a culture ready to lead his people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ!



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