Your church doesn’t need a new mission. God determines the mission. He defines the mission. And he’s been about the mission for thousands of years and simply wants your church involved in it. But your church is in desperate need of a vision that is informed by God’s Word, inspired by God’s Spirit, and applied passionately and broken-heartedly to your local context.

If you’re a Lead (Senior) Pastor and you don’t have a vision for how your church will carry out its mission in your local context, here’s my advice: Get away with Jesus! Take a retreat. Meet with some mentors. Read the word. Drive around your community and beg God to paint a picture in your mind of what could be if the gospel took root and sprouted all over the place.

Every ministry leader needs to cultivate a vision for their ministry context, but Lead Pastors are out front, setting the pace. God has chosen you to lead his sheep on a rescue mission for other lost sheep.

Once you’re a leader with a vision from God of what should be, it’s on to step two. Get mean. 

No, this is not an…

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Vision

I’m often asked, “Is there any single common denominator that you can find in every growing church?”  I have studied churches for many years, read about them, and visited them. I’ve discovered that God uses all kinds of churches, in all kinds of different ways, all different methods and styles.  But there is one common denominator that you can find in every growing church regardless of denomination, regardless of nationality, and regardless of size.

That common denominator is leadership that is not afraid to believe God.  It’s the faith factor.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming.  Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody’s mind.  It started off as a dream.  It started off as a vision, a goal.  If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same.  If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit it.

A church without a vision is never going to grow, and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor.  So you as a leader and as a pastor, must have God’s vision for your church.  The very first task of leadership…

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preaching lessons from Charles Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon is arguably one of the greatest preachers in the history of Christianity.

  • He preached over 600 sermons before the age of 20.
  • The collection of his recorded sermons fills 63 volumes and over 20 million words, making it the largest collection of books by a single Christian author.
  • He once spoke to an audience of 23,654 without the use of a microphone or sound system.
  • He frequently preached ten times per week because he accepted so many invitations to speak.1

Spurgeon was so gifted and influential that it’s no wonder he earned the nickname of the “Prince of Preachers.”

It’s safe to say that we could all learn much about preaching from such a prolific preacher.

So here are 12 preaching tips that Charles Spurgeon taught his students:

1. PRAYER IS SERMON PREP

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Calendar

One of the first things I do when I begin coaching a Senior Pastor is lead them through a process of redesigning how they schedule their week to ensure their highest ministry priorities get consistently accomplished.

It is the same process whether they serve churches of 50 to 5,000.

Here’s what that process looks like:

Draw A Weekly CalendarPastors Schedule

The first thing I have Senior Pastors do is pull out a piece of paper and turn it to horizontal view.

Then I ask them to draw six horizontal lines, representing a typical weekly calendar, and placing the days of the week up at the top.

Mark X’s On Friday And Saturday Slots For Your Days Off

Pastors Schedule

Your work week is now Sunday through Thursday. No more work on Fridays and Saturdays.

This immediately presents two problems for the typical Senior Pastor. First, they’re still doing their sermons on Friday and Saturday. Second, they take Monday off.

Both of these…

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Martin Luther King

Today our country pauses to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. As we do so, we may ask ourselves: Why, especially in a time of so much racial tension, injustice, and strife, did Dr. King’s message resonate with so many?

King was, of course, a gifted orator, and his calls for justice and and equity were often poetic and deeply historic. But I think a great deal of the power behind King’s message came from the way that he was pressing a claim onto consciences.

He drew frequent contrasts between the promised end to the injustice of slavery and the ongoing injustice of Jim Crow. In his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail,” King, against the so-called “white moderates” who counseled “patience,” pointed out “an appalling condition” that Americans were still, in large numbers, exiles in their own land. With such injustice, there was no room for the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”

This is the kind of prophetic, sin-and-judgment language that we see in the Old Testament. We often hear caricatures of evangelical “hellfire and brimstone” preaching. But most evangelical churches breezily converse about sin in terms of consequences to be avoided. In fact,…

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Burning OutOkay, we’re already making our way through the new year. It’s now fully 2017 and we don’t need to talk any more about 2016. We can move on. Onward and upward, right?

By the way, how are you doing on your new goals . . . your resolutions? Are you on track or have you already given up. Either way, there’s grace here for you! Whether you set goals or not, whether you’re after some new plateau of your life like a tenacious animal or you’ve already limped away like an injured koala bear who fell off the top branch trying to reach that last leaf, and whether you’re expecting big things in the new year or you’re resigned to just handling whatever comes your way best you can — it’s all okay. No judgment here! Enjoy the new year and I hope that 2017 is the best yet for you!!

But I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a phenomenon that happens to far too many leaders — and it often catches them by surprise. In other words, it’s a tragedy that most of us can only react to — rather than…

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January is the perfect time to add more small groups. Tell your members small groups are important because:

1. Small groups move us out of self-centered isolation. It’s the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It’s a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love. You learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor” (1 Corinthians 12:26 NCV). Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the connection God intends for us to have (Ephesians 4:16, Romans 12:4–5, Colossians 2:19, 1 Corinthians 12:25).

Real fellowship means being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ: “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” (1 John 3:16b NIV). This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects us to show other believers — loving them in the same way Jesus loves us.

2. Small groups help us develop spiritual muscle. You’ll never grow to…

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Love in Action

By Rodney Holmstrom

Little Girl with DogI’m not saying this is the right frame of mind, nor is it always the case, but sometimes in ministry we can look at the kids’ area as a “childcare” area so that mom and dad can work on their struggles in life.

In Celebrate Recovery our place for the kids to go is called Celebration Place, and for students, it’s The Landing. What I love is that it’s not just a place to keep kids occupied during the adult services, but instead a place for kids and teenagers to work on their own lives. We like to call these ministries “Pre-covery.”

The wonderful story below was written by a dad in Celebrate Recovery and shows how impactful this ministry is not just for the adults but for the whole family. It will bless your heart.

Raising young kids is hard — especially when one has a severe ADHD diagnosis.  He has some severe behavioral patterns that escalate quickly, and often the cool-down process takes a while. Sometimes, like in many households, bedtime is an absolute war zone. It’s like they’ve forgotten that we just did this 24 hours ago.

When my oldest…

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Kid with a BibleHi, my name is Sylvia, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with co-dependency and food issues. I came to Celebrate Recovery in a different way than most. I have led our Celebrate Recovery Kids Time program for eight years. The kids had fun and got to see Jesus each week. However, this was not helping improve their lives. I had a strong management background and knew how to take care of kids. I thought that was all I needed.

Although I was a Christian who had strong faith, I wasn’t actively seeking time with Christ to work on my stuff. I was not learning who he wanted me to be. I struggled with abandonment issues with my earthly father, and I didn’t want to search for a deeper relationship with God. I did my job and wanted the best for the kids. I did not focus on life-change for them because my life hadn’t changed yet. I didn’t understand what that really meant.

We started using the Celebration Place curriculum immediately after its release. We loved the lessons but hadn’t ever gone through Celebrate Recovery

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RunningThese are five questions every pastor will answer in 2017 whether he addresses or neglects them.

Pastor, how will you answer each one of these five questions?

Question #1: Will I prioritize my personal walk with God daily?

This is not a question about whether you will study for sermons, but a question about prioritizing your personal walk with God. Your personal walk with God will determine everything else in your life and ministry. Therefore, prioritize your personal reading of the Scripture, your personal prayer life, and your personal spiritual growth in Jesus Christ.

Question #2: Will I devote myself to being the spiritual leader in my family?

This is not about functioning as the spiritual leader of your church, but it is a question about devoting yourself to be the spiritual leader of your family. The level of your spiritual leadership in your church will never go beyond your personal walk with Christ and the genuine spiritual leadership you provide in your family. In other words, you cannot lead your church spiritually if you do not lead your family spiritually. Therefore, determine now to operate with great intentionality as the spiritual leader of your family.

Question…

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RebelAs a pastor, more than other people, I see the hurt and the heartbreak that happens in a family when a child makes rebellious and destructive decisions. And thankfully, there’s a story in the Bible that offers us a lot of insight.

What has often been called “the story of the prodigal son” is really a picture of how God shows his holiness, his goodness, and his kindness to his children — each son in this story was rebellious in his own way. Some of the insights we learn about parenting from this story might surprise you.

The story, found in Luke 15:11-32, unfolds in three stages.

Stage 1: Rebellion.

Beginning in verse 11, “Jesus said, `There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.'”

Stage one is rebellion. In every parent-child relationship, there’s going to be a struggle. It’s a struggle for control, a power struggle.

At birth, as a parent, you are…

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CherishAbout five centuries ago, Copernicus changed the way we think about our universe when he postulated that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of our universe. (We, of course, now know that it isn’t the center of the universe, but the Sun remains the center of our solar system.) Plato, Socrates, Augustine, and Aquinas all lived without understanding a basic truth that any educated person today takes for granted.

One hundred years later, just four centuries ago, Sir Isaac Newton discovered what we call gravity, something that even a contemporary fifth-grader could describe.

The relative youth of basic knowledge is rather stunning. For all his wisdom and brilliant insight, Aristotle knew less of hard science — astronomy, anatomy, and even physics — than the vast majority of Advanced Placement high school students do today. It’s remarkable to consider relatively recent advancements in intelligence and understanding.

A TV series like Mad Men, initially set just 60 years ago, seems like a ridiculous relic of an atrocious past — men treated women like that? People were that insensitive to race issues?

Just as intellect and social understanding have grown, so our love should grow, as…

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