Leadership, Pastors, Sermon Illustrations, Uncategorized

Who Killed Jesus?

I gave a sermon today about the meaning of Palm Sunday and spoke about the crucifixion of Jesus, as well. I will post the audio file of that sermon in a couple of days.

As I read the crucifixion accounts in the New Testament this week, I was reminded again of how horribly sad it is that, by various groups at various times in history, the Jewish people have been blamed for the death of Jesus. Although Jesus criticized the religious establishment of his day, the Jewish religious authorities did not have the power to execute anyone. The occupying Roman Empire did not permit Jews to enforce capital punishment.

The Jews did not kill Jesus. We know this because of a fact that is so simple, it is often overlooked. The Jews did not use crucifixion. The Romans did.

It is horribly sad that Jewish people have been persecuted, called “Christ-killers”, and generally blamed for Jesus’ death when it is obvious that Jesus was executed by the Roman Empire under the authority of the governor, Pontius Pilatus, known in English as Pontius Pilate.

What we know of Pilate from history is that he would not have hesitated to execute a person who was called a king by anyone, because the Romans did not tolerate any potential threats to stability and the kingship of Caesar. Jesus’ followers claimed he was a king, and this was enough for the Romans to execute him.

Jesus was Jewish, all of his first students were Jewish, and Jesus was killed by Gentiles.

More than this, in Christian theology, Jesus is believed to have died on behalf of all people in the world. His death shows the ugliness of violence, domination, hatred, in other words, sin.

However, in the Gospel of John 10:14-18, Jesus is reported to have a different take on his own death:

“’14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.'”

Church Planting, Leadership, Pastors

The Coming Death of Denominations?

George Bullard on the coming death of national denominations…

While its death has been forecasted for years, now, I don’t believe this will be true for the United Methodist Church, that I’m part of. I see signs of hope because there are people who get it, who are working to start new churches.

Don’t get me wrong, 30 years from now the United Methodist Church will look much different than it does currently, after a severe time of pruning. It will be much smaller but thriving again by that time.

So, I’m optimistic that there will be new life, but this is a good warning…

For more of my thoughts on the future church, visit https://ryangear.com/2010/10/29/future-of-the-united-methodist-church/

Church Planting, Leadership, Pastors, Sermon Illustrations, Uncategorized

The Future Church

Two profound links, here, one a video and one a blog post.

1. On the coming Evangelical split (it’s been happening for 5-10 years now):


The earlier blog post that the author refer to:


2. On the future of the Church (Richard Rohr, Brennan Manning, and NT Wright):

Leadership, Pastors, Sermon Illustrations

Mission as the Emerging Entry Point for New People

Pastors, this is a great article about how mission may be the new entry point, front door, for new people into churches. I largely agree. Among younger people right now, I think the front door may be 50/50 between worship and service projects.

For people who already profess to be Christians, I’m sure that worship is still the largest front door.

For people who do not yet profess to be Christian , I would not be surprised if service projects are already the largest front door, by far.

How does this article change your definition of “church service”?


Leadership, Pastors, Uncategorized

Greeter and Usher Name Tags

I designed these name tags for use in a United Methodist Church using the 3-D Cross and Flame as the background of the nametag.

It fits into a standard 3 x 4 vinyl name tag holder.

Feel to use this design, if it is helpful. This name tag template is a jpeg, 300 dpi (commercial printing quality), so you can save it to your computer and use any desktop publishing program to write the name on top of the design.

1. Click on the photo, and save it to your computer.

2. Insert the photo into any desktop publishing document that is 8.5 x 11 portrait.

3. Resize the photo to fit the 8.5 x 11 page from edge to edge on all sides.

4. Write the names of your greeters or ushers on top of the photo, as I have on the first name tag.

5. Insert your church logo over top of the Stonybrook logo.

6. Save the entire doc, including all names, as a jpeg or tiff (tag image file format) file, 300 dpi.

7. Send the doc to a printing company, or print it yourself. I have the name tags printed on cardstock.

8. Cut each name tag along the obvious edges, and trim any blank excess off of the right side of the name tag in order to fit the name tag into the holder.

9. Place each name tag in a 3 x 4 clear vinyl name tag holder.

10. Attach a lanyard to the name tag holder.

Also see “Church Bulletin Design“.