There are many elements to effective discipleship. Steve Murrell, one of the founding pastors of Victory Manila in the Philippines, explores them. read more
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In my blog, I have referred many times to my days of church consultation, particularly those experiences where we sent one of our consultants to be a first-time guest in a church. He or she would return with a report of those experiences, and the report would eventually be consolidated with other information for the church.
I have nearly 300 of these “mystery guest” reports. Both Chuck Lawless and I have posted about them on my blog.
In the past, the mystery guests would grade the visit based on several criteria. Less than 20 percent of these reports were graded “B” (good visit) or higher. read more
For most youth workers, few things in ministry are as dreaded as navigating conflict—especially when it comes in the form of an angry parent or frustrated volunteer and when it comes suddenly and unexpectedly.
You know the scenario: You’re hanging out in the youth room doing your youth pastor thing, and before you see it coming, he’s in your face. He’s on a mission. He’s got a few concerns, and he’s gonna share them with you right now. He has no desire to think about the timing. His agenda is the only one that matters. He’s a ticking time bomb, and time is running out. read more
Ever wonder why some small group ministries seem to steadily move to new levels of success and health while others start with a bang and go out with a whimper?
Here are five commitments that make the difference:
1. Connecting everyone to a small group is a top objective every year. By “everyone,” I mean everyone. And it’s not just 50 percent or 80 percent of the weekend adult attendance. I’m talking about 150 percent of the weekend adult attendance number! In addition, the commitment is to a small group (i.e., not a class or a Bible study that meets in rows). And it’s not about off-campus versus on-campus. It’s all about connecting to a group that includes the essential ingredients of life change. (See also "Essential Ingredients of Life Change" and "Design Your Group for Life Change.") read more
Do you need more preschool workers to serve children? Do you need more greeters to greet? Do you need more ushers to … ush?
If so, you’re in familiar territory.
I’ve never met a church that said, “You know, when it comes to volunteers, we’re good. We’ve got plenty. In fact, there’s a waiting list for the nursery.”
Churches everywhere need to mobilize more volunteers to get ministry done. But before you start signing people up and filling slots, it might be helpful to take a look at why people are not volunteering.
Here are five reasons people might not be volunteering at your church: read more
Like many of you, I found out Thursday morning that Calvary Chapel founder and pastor Chuck Smith has died. read more
It was another average weekday. Shortly after arriving home from work, I’m routinely rifling through the pile of papers pulled from my second-grader’s backpack. Amid the assortment of math worksheets, writing assignments and doodles, I see one yellow slip of paper.
One glance, and dread envelopes me.
Another ticket; another note from the teacher; another reminder of my son’s innate gravitational pull toward horsing around. (Sigh.) read more
Iran is all over the news. President Obama and President Hasan Rouhani talked just over a week ago—the first time the presidents of the two nations have spoken since 1979. This is being hailed as good news, and I tend to think that starting conversations is a good first step.
Yet even in that conversation, religious liberty became an issue. I am thankful President Obama brought up pastor Saeed Abedini to the Iranian president.
Iran is a complex place when it comes to the gospel, religious liberty and sharing Christ. Recently, I had a conversation while in Central Asia with some workers in that nation. It was a powerful and moving conversation, shared here with their permission. read more
The letters and comments are pouring in from our recent article on the pastor’s wife.
I suppose it should not surprise me—weirdness is everywhere—but some people were angry that we called the pastor’s wife “the most vulnerable person in church.” One guy gave a long list of people, mostly the hurting seekers who arrive at church hoping to find a word of encouragement or a helping hand, who come before her.
There is no question that churches are filled with seeking, hurting, vulnerable people. Ranking them in order of desperation and need is pointless, since we are to be ministering to them all. read more
It’s common sense: Church leaders can’t expect people to grow in generosity if it’s not talked about.
While some leaders try to avoid the topic at all costs, the truth is most churchgoers aren’t as resistant to talking about money as we think. In fact, many already give to a variety of organizations and causes.
This shows there is a gap to fill between what we know the Bible says about money and our willingness to act on what we know.
Talking about money in church can be tough for the person on the platform and the person in the crowd. But it’s not impossible to do—and do well. You just need to better understand what to say and when to say it. read more
If you’re operating social media for yourself or for your church and you’re trying to grow your platform, I’m sure you’ve heard the one key to social media success is this: “Content is king.”
But have you ever wondered: What exactly does that mean? Does it mean that "if I build it, they will come”? Does it mean all I have to do is have a well-written article and hundreds of people will line up to read it?
If you’ve tried this, I’m guessing you know it doesn’t necessarily work.
If you haven’t tried it, let me save you some grief and wasted hours—there’s more to it than that. read more
(This is the type of article some church people will find objectionable. I’m fully aware of that and am willing to run the risk of the flack from writing it. If it results in one congregation standing up to a member who has held the church in a stranglehold and run off preacher after preacher, if it puts just one bully out of business, it’ll be worth the flack. This is a far bigger problem than most people realize.)
No church bully thinks he’s one. He’s just (ahem) looking out for the interests of the church, since a) no one else seems to be willing to do it and b) even though it’s a difficult task, he has the courage to step up and do this difficult thing. read more
1. In all the world there are only three Christians who love change; none of them are in your church.
2. When you speak before an unfamiliar group, be careful what you say because you never know who is listening to you. You’ll start to tell a story about some guy in your former church, and his mama is sitting right in front of you.
3. There will never be a time in your life when you know all the Bible and have your questions all answered; if you cannot serve Him with some gaps in your knowledge and preach without knowing everything, you’re going to have a hard time. read more
Emma grew up in a small town her whole life. She dated and had a steady boyfriend for two years, until he succumbed to the ribbing of his football teammates and tried drugs for the first time. After learning of his new found habit, Emma’s parents forbid her to see him. But after spending most of her time with him and his friends for the previous two years, she never really found a place to belong again. The local churches’ youth groups were nonexistent; her sister had her own friends, and failed attempts to make the school’s sports teams left her feeling rejected. At home, she often saw and heard her parents fighting about money and didn’t get the attention she wanted from a distracted mom consumed with trying to keep her marriage together. read more
I love being a pastor’s wife. It truly is who God has called me to be in this season of life. Everyday is not easy, but when I’m serving as God intended for me to serve, I’m never more fulfilled in life.
That’s why I decided to share this advice to pastor’s wives. (I understand my husband has lots of pastors who read his blog. I hope they will share this with their spouse.)
Here is my advice:
Don’t try to be something you are not … and … Don’t be afraid to be yourself. read more
Most church leaders who don’t have a plan for engaging financial leaders in their church lack one for these two reasons:
1. The belief that engaging financial leaders will make them feel as if all the church cares about is their money or it shows favoritism to certain givers.
2. The lack of confidence to engage financial leaders in a way that encourages them to become significant givers.
However, as churches look to climb out of the tough times caused by the recession, we can no longer exclude anyone—including those with financial means—when it comes to developing a giving ministry. At the same time, confidence is developed when we know the proper techniques to use and the right questions to ask. read more
In a world that has become so wrapped up in social media like Facebook, Instagram and avatars, has the live event lost it place? Has the “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves” become relegated to a computer screen or a smartphone (Heb. 10:25)?
I recently watched a group of young girls sitting at the same table in the food court of a trendy mall and laughing. Though there’s nothing unusual about that, what caught my attention was that they weren’t talking to each other; they were feverishly texting back and forth. Their laughter wasn’t a result of what they were saying to each other, but rather what they were texting to each other. In our digital age, have we lost even our most fundamental art of conversation? read more
Half of all Christian students will walk away from their faith in college. How can your church confront that statistic and help teens establish a deep faith before stepping on campus?
As young people from your church graduate high school, how they develop in the years that follow will determine not only their destiny, but also the destiny of the American church. Pastors enjoy a certain delight and privilege in helping to guide the lives of the families that look to their wisdom and spiritual leadership for navigating the tumultuous waters of life.
This is especially true as many parents enter the minefield of determining a course of direction for their recent high school graduates. Since these early years are so important, we must be very careful to help parents set up their young adults for success, no matter how unconventional the approach may be. read more
Think about the teenagers in your church who you believe love God the most, the ones that would be most likely to serve in your congregation. Can you see them in your mind yet? These are the “good” kids, right? At least these are on the correct path, right?
Don’t be too sure.
These are the exact type of teens who go on mission trips with my team each year. More than 72,000 of them have shown up over the years ready to explore South American jungles, trek through Himalayan mountains and journey inside cultures unlike their own, all for the chance to tell people about Jesus. At least that’s what I thought, until I made a shocking discovery. read more
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