Life

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michael-browndr

Who is Playing the Race Card?

My article “Open Letter to My Black Evangelical Friends” elicited some very helpful comments along with words of affirmation and, unfortunately, a number of very ugly comments. The thoughts of many hearts were certainly revealed!

Is it possible that some of the readers were not aware of the great love and respect I have for my black brothers and sisters and that it was out of love and respect that I asked some pointed questions? Is it possible that some readers wrongly viewed me as some kind of white supremacist, completely misreading my words and my intent? Perhaps I assumed too much about our unity in Jesus?

Thankfully, I did receive a number of very insightful comments, and that is the best place to start. (The only comments I will be citing were those that were made, to the best of my knowledge, by my black brothers and sisters.) read more

Kenny-Luck-Sleeping Giant-MT

Kenny Luck Ignites Sleeping Giant Movement to Wake Up Christian Men

For years, Kenny Luck has witnessed Men’s Ministry in local churches leaving men unengaged and unfulfilled. The best-selling author’s heart is to see that trend cease.

Luck, an ECPA platinum award-winning author of the God’s Man and Every Man Series and pastor of Men at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, has launched the definitive website for Christian men in conjunction with the Sleeping Giant Total Solution, a proven Men’s Ministry model.

EverymanMinistries.com has ignited a grassroots movement from within that equips the local church to use modern technology to create a spiritual phenomenon: Strong men of God who will look to impact their families and the culture around them. read more

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AG Hispanic Churches Struggle With 'Culture Shock'

For many decades, Spanish-speaking Assemblies of God churches could typically be described as predominately Mexican and Mexican-American churches where all services were held in Spanish. Today, some see Hispanic churches as resembling close-knit families who share a similar heritage and culture. For many generations, those descriptions and assumptions would have been mostly correct.

Yet now, to the surprise of even some Hispanic churches, the “melting pot” that is the United States is making itself known and providing a “culture shock” for some Hispanic churches that goes beyond the nearly inevitable clash of generations.

“Just like most churches, Hispanic churches typically minister to several generations within their congregations,” says Efraim Espinoza, director of AG Office of Hispanic Relations. “So, they have the expected generational differences to work through.” read more

Kyle-Searcy-Prayer-Closet

Christians Can Govern from the Prayer Closet

Election Day ... it did it again! The results produced myriad emotions ranging from convulsive joy in some to severe depression in others.

I’m fascinated every time I see our democratic process unfold. The fact that we, the people, actually get to elect the leaders of our nation intrigues me. But we have learned to put so much hope in government that people are often crushed beyond measure if their candidate loses or relieved beyond reason when their candidate wins. Both emotional extremes are unnecessary since Scripture suggests that no matter who wins an election for office, we can still win.

“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people­—for kings and all those in authority—that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4, NIV). read more

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Attention Americans: Prayer Urgently Needed

As the chairman of the board of governors for 40 Days to Save America, I am humbled to lead in a season of prayer.

In what could be the most momentous election of our lifetime, everyone wants to know, “Who will lead America for the next four years?” The answer should be obvious: He who has led us for the past 236 years of our national existence—the Lord God Almighty!

The vast majority of people in America realize and acknowledge that no one but God can save her. That’s why many have concluded that nothing short of a national awakening will do—hence, a call for prayer, fasting and action.

Choosing a president, members of Congress and governors is a sobering responsibility, especially given the multiple crises with which our nation is confronted. These men and women wield enormous power over the citizenry. The can confront the forces of evil that stalk us domestically and internationally, or ignore them. Our moral free-fall can continue, or they can call America back to its founding principles. read more

D-MinLife-Deliverance

Wars of the Spirit

One night, exhausted from a hard week of work, I got in the bathtub to relax my tired body while my wife, Kathy, lay sick in her eighth month of pregnancy. An hour later, I started to get out of the tub. But as I stood up, an intense thought hit me: I am going to die!

The thought caused panic to rush through my whole being like stampeding cattle. My entire body trembled as my heart pounded out of my chest. Strength drained from my limbs as I fell back into the water, shouting desperately for Kathy to help me. She rushed into the bathroom where I lay helpless. I managed to mumble something about having a heart attack. She strained to help me out of the bathtub, and then she ran into the kitchen to call our family doctor.

He relayed a few questions to me and concluded that I was having a panic attack, not a heart attack. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a journey through a living hell.

That first panic attack initiated a constant state of fear in me. All throughout the day, high levels of anxiety overwhelmed my soul like waves crashing on the seashore in a violent storm.  read more

john-mcconnell

Pentecostal Founder of Earth Day Passes at 97

John McConnell, Jr., the Pentecostal founder of Earth Day, passed away on Oct. 20, in Denver. He was 97 years old. 

McConnell’s grandfather was at the Azusa Street Revival and his parents were founding members of the Assemblies of God.

Following the Kennedy assassination, McConnell’s Minute for Peace gained worldwide attention. This led to his Earth Day and other initiatives aimed at promoting people and planet. In this book, Peace, Justice, Care for Earth, he shares the views that garnered support during the environmental movement from 1969 onward, and that have inspired followers for 40 years at annual Earth Day ceremonies at the United Nations (UN) and cities across the globe. read more

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The Time to Pray is Now

Most Americans know the score. The significance of the Nov. 6 general election cannot be understated. 

And because this particular first Tuesday in November is so critical, it also cannot be taken lightly just how crucial it has become for Americans to get down on their knees in repentance and prayer, asking God for grace and mercy to help guide us back to a path of righteousness.

Second Chronicles 7:14 says: “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” read more

Dave-Stone-Liberty-University

Pastor, Author Addresses Students on Overcoming Sin

Pastor Dave Stone spoke on how to win the struggle with sin during Liberty University Convocation on Monday. Stone is the senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky., one of North America’s largest churches with 21,000 in attendance weekly. He is also the author of seven books, including his Faithful Families series.

Stone asked students, “Will you decide today that you will no longer be held hostage by the guilt of sins that God has already forgiven, forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead?” read more

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12 Ways to Make Your Church ‘Middle School Friendly'

Parents can do a great job of being the primary spiritual nurturers of their children, but they can be much more effective if the church is supporting them in the endeavor. Here are 12 suggestions for how you can help families with kids in middle school, ages 11 to 14. read more

Internet-cord-unplugged

Reaching the Unplugged

The rise of the Internet and mobile technology has ushered church communications into a new digital era. As a result, churches have worked hard to create a flawless user experience, engaged social networks and search engine-optimized websites. We’ve come far, but I fear we’ve left people behind. Meet the “unplugged.”

Despite popular belief, the unplugged are not just senior citizens, they are those in our pews who are not regularly visiting the web or aren’t socially engaged online.

So how do we keep up our online strategies while still caring for the unplugged?

I imagine communication as if it were a hub and spokes on a bicycle. A bike has two wheels (online and offline) and is capable of moving us forward. Just like using Facebook, Twitter, email and other tools to bring everyone back to your website, you can use platform announcements, posters, people, etc., to point back to one central hub with all your communication pieces. read more

d-MinLife-Teens

Ministry Involves Action, Not Simply Talk

Are you helping teens move beyond content into active obedience?

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Youth ministry has morphed into a never-ending conversation. Let’s face it. Those of us in youth ministry run from one meeting to the next planning, sharing, envisioning, describing—talking. If we got paid by the word, we would all be rich.

And now we have all sorts of seminars, workshops and conferences where we pay to hear others talk.

Too much talk and not enough action. I don’t think the early church was immune to this problem. First John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (NIV). read more

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Conferences Help Women Succeed in Ministry

Women by the thousands are flocking to conferences, seeking a fresh touch from God and answers to practical questions affecting their lives and ministries. Are they finding what they need?

My footsteps resounded as I walked down the long, concrete corridor toward the office of the founder and president of Crossroads Christian Communications. With each step came a reason to turn from my mission, but my heart would not allow my feet to stop. This meeting could not be delayed or omitted because of any personal anxiety, for it was fueled with a passion that came from the depth of my spirit.

My passion was to reach women with the good news of the gospel, unite them in their faith, motivate them to rise above an enemy called “average,” and spiritually fuel them to return to their daily lives with new vigor and excitement. read more

Make the Presentation Engaging

Create a system that frees and empowers leaders to do what they do best

I constantly remind our leaders, The sermon begins in the parking lot. By the time I stand up to deliverwhat is traditionally considered the message, everybodyin our audience has already received a dozen or moremessages. Many have already made up their minds as towhether they will come back the following week.

Thesame is true for your church. The quality, consistencyand personal impact of your ministry environments defineyour church. Whether you refer to them as classes, programs, ministries or services, at their core they are environments that involve a physical setting combined with some type of presentation. read more

weddingtopper

Healthy Marriage Ministry Depends on Strong Vision

Note: This is the second of a three-part series about Christian marriages.

There is nothing wrong with having a marriage class, seminar or retreat. We have them all. But a healthy marriage ministry will focus on strengthening marriages, not just fixing marriage problems.

I began to teach a weekly “couples class.” The title alone immediately attracted singles and the divorced. We found that the classic marriage class is designed to fix the problem marriages. I wanted more than that. So we send struggling marriages to the marriage class in hopes that they will get better, graduate and then get back to work for the church.

The very title “marriage class,” along with the predictable subject matter, often defines “healthy marriages” according to a series of dos and don’ts, steps and conditions and understanding one another's differences. After that, there is just getting through life with a new set of tools. read more

empty-church

Protestants Declining With the Rise of the 'Nones'

The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion is growing at a rapid pace.

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, about one-fifth of the U.S. public--and a third of adults under age 30--are religiously unaffiliated today. Those are the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.

In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15 percent to just under 20 percent of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6 percent of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14 percent). read more

Friendship-Dan-Reiland-Amplified

True Friendships Carve Out Many Blessings

Note: The following is an excerpt from Dan Reiland’s book, Amplified Leadership. Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., and the former executive pastor at Skyline Church in San Diego, Calif. His passion is developing and empowering leaders who want to grow and who are willing to take risks to do so.

Friends are a blessing. You never know what will come from each relationship you begin. One of the many blessings of my relationship with John C. Maxwell was the privilege of helping him write a little book titled The Treasure of a Friend. Consider this definition of friendship John and I shared in that book: Friendship is based on what it gives, not what it gets. read more

Dan-Reiland-Pastor-Coach

Don’t Enter the Ring Unprepared

Note: The following is an excerpt from Dan Reiland’s book, Amplified Leadership. Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Ga., and the former executive pastor at Skyline Church in San Diego, Calif. His passion is developing and empowering leaders who want to grow and who are willing to take risks to do so.

Cinderella Man is one of my favorite movies. In it Russell Crowe plays James J. Braddock, a prizefighter down on his luck during the Great Depression. Braddock was determined to provide for his family, so he returned to the ring at a time when most people thought his career was over. To everyone’s surprise, Braddock scored win after win. Then he did the unthinkable. read more

Is the Presentation Engaging?

Create a system that frees and empowers leaders to do what they do best

I constantly remind our leaders, The sermon begins in the parking lot. By the time I stand up to deliverwhat is traditionally considered the message, everybodyin our audience has already received a dozen or moremessages. Many have already made up their minds as towhether they will come back the following week.

Thesame is true for your church. The quality, consistencyand personal impact of your ministry environments defineyour church. Whether you refer to them as classes, programs, ministries or services, at their core they are environments that involve a physical setting combined with some type of presentation.

As stewards of a local church, we should determine the messages our environments communicate. Your ministry leaders need to know what makes an environment great as your organization defines great. Defining what a great environment looks and feels like ahead of time provides a powerful safeguard for your entire ministry culture. When it comes to creating great, irresistible environments, we ask three key questions:

  • Is the setting appealing?
  • Is the presentation engaging?
  • Is the content helpful?

For this article, I want to focus on the second question. Engaging presentations are central to the success of the church’s mission. We are the only entity charged with the responsibility of presenting the gospel. So we need to be good at it. Here are some things we’ve learned along the way.

Engaging presentations require engaging presenters. However, engaging presenters are not always good content creators. Likewise, some insightful content creators have no business on a stage with a microphone.

In church world, however, we have a tendency to expect content creators to be engaging presenters and presenters to be great content creators. If your system depends on your staff and volunteers being proficient in two or three of these disciplines, you’ll always get mediocre results. You need a system that allows engaging presenters to present, skilled content creators to create content, and relationally savvy group leaders to facilitate groups.

Now here’s something I know about your church. Somewhere in your congregation are people who make a living presenting information. You’ve got a bunch of teachers in your church. The last thing they want to do is sit in circles with eight children for an hour on Sundays. But they know how to organize content. And some of them would love to present the Bible story as long as they don’t have to take ownership of a small group.

We’ve gone to great lengths to create a system that frees communicators and content developers to do what they do best. The corollary is we’ve gone to great lengths to protect our audiences from presenters who aren’t engaging. We choose our most engaging presenters, give them great content and then turn them loose. And we use those presenters in different departments throughout our church.

Engaging presentations aren’t limited to talking heads. As a general rule, if you can present something in any way other than someonestanding on a stage and talking, do so! If you can communicate something via video, go video. There’s so much more we could talk about under thisheading: visuals, interviews, note-taking outlines. All those things add an element of engagement.

The bottom line is this: Do what it takes to create a culture characterized by a relentless commitment to engaging presentations at every level of the organization. Your message is too important to do anything less than that.

If a presentation of any kind is going to be made in your church, it should be engaging. Set the bar high. Adjust your system or model so that your best presenters are presenting. Find the theologically astute thinkers in your crowd who might be good at helping with content. Employ the skills of your teachers and educators. Design a system that frees your small group leaders to facilitate rather than present. At every level of your organization ask: Was the presentation engaging?


Andy Stanley is the founding and lead pastor of North Point Community Church. He is a sought-after speaker and leadership mentor with a special passion for raising up the next generation of leaders. A best-selling author, some of his many books include Choosing to Cheat, The Best Question Ever, The Next Generation Leader, Visioneering and Deep and Wide, slated to release this fall. Adapted with permission from Deep and Wild: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley (Zondervan). Copyright © 2012. read more

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