Dreamer

What should we do during seasons of discipline and delay? Four simple things:

1. Wait for the Power

You are going to need the full power of your dream to work for you, not some watered-down, premature version. Jesus made his followers wait until they received power from on high. That’s a promise for us, not just them. You will receive supernatural power for the task ahead if you don’t try to rush God’s timing.

I’m convinced that much of the dream-centered life is simply saying, Okay, God. It doesn’t make sense to me. All of culture is going the other direction. But I’m going to do exactly what you say. That posture of pa­tience and obedience is much more powerful than our own efforts.

2. Remember the Voice of God

Psalm 34:3 encourages us to “magnify the Lord.” Does that mean make him bigger? No, but it means we make him bigger in our own lives. By doing this we make God’s voice bigger than the voices of doubt in our own situation.

Imagine the dream busters who rose up against Noah and the pres­sure he got from his own family. I picture his three sons…

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Lady

Hi, I’m a grateful believer in Jesus. I struggle with codependency, anxiety, and the effects of past abuse. My name is Tiffani. I became a Christian when I was 30 years old, and for many years I volunteered in children’s ministry. I served as a Sunday school teacher, VBS teacher and coordinator. I also served as a youth group leader, teen chat leader, young adult leader, and eventually as the children and youth ministry coordinator. All the while my life was secretly spinning out of control. The poor choices I made left me feeling unloved, unworthy, and lonely. When my chaotic lifestyle came into the light, I was asked to step down from all of these positions that I loved and found my worth in. My heart broke; I had to accept I was not a good example for the children. I was hopeless. Fortunately, a counselor told me about a local Celebrate Recovery program and I started attending.

After a few years in Celebrate Recovery, I went to my first One-Day event where I attended the breakout session for Celebration Place. I remember thinking – this is it, this is what I…

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Turf

Turf wars can be brutal –especially within ministry.

As a young minister in the Eighteenth Century, John Wesley was chided by the Anglican Church for preaching across parish lines (invading another pastor’s turf).

When approached, Wesley famously explained, “The world is my parish.” In other words, Wesley did not draw boundaries for his ministry. He saw a world full of opportunities.

Usually when we think of ministry “turf wars,” we think about boundary disputes between two churches. However, I think we should be more worried about the boundary disputes pastors place upon their own churches!

Wesley was right — the world is (your church’s) parish. I can say that confidently, because the Bible states is clearly.

In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve the task of multiplying and filling the earth (Genesis 1:28) with the people made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). This was the first call to discipleship in history.

In the very same sentence, God gives Adam and Eve every resource they need to fulfill the task when he says, “fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of…

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“The New Testament is the only model we need!” There, I went ahead and said that for you. It’s out of the way. For those pastors and church leaders who highly value the New Testament and actually want to accomplish something meaningful, read on.

Every church follows a model. Most of the church leaders who criticize following a model follow a model that tends to criticize models. Follow that? There are traditional models with an age-graded Sunday School, a morning worship service, evening worship service, and a mid-week prayer meeting, plus some other programs. W. A. Criswell (one of my biggest heroes) was a pioneer of this model in the 1940’s. Back then, grading ministries by age was innovative.

Other churches follow the “simple church” model. They have weekend worship, small groups, and that’s about it. The ministry and mission is carried out by the groups and the individuals in them. It works well for those who do it right. There are also house churches, and still a few quarter-time churches that only have a Pastor once per month. There’s the Amish and Mennonite model – very community-centric. You get the picture.

We started…

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Lily Pads

By Donna Yearsin, National Celebration Place Coordinator

The view outside my living room window is a beautiful pond teeming with wildlife. There are times when the pond is so still it looks as though it is made of glass. Then a goose or some other bird will break the surface, sending ripples across the pond to the shore. Other times, a fish will jump up from under the water, sending more ripples to the shore. Like the goose or other bird that plunges into the pond, our actions affect the lives of those we love. Over the past nine years, I have seen families come into our Celebrate Recovery meetings with one parent struggling with an addiction, the other broken from strain as the addiction rips their family apart. Their children were scared and angry. Hope was all but lost.

One such family stands out. A dad came to Celebrate Recovery with his young daughter. The mom was active in her addiction and out of the picture. The little girl was out of control. She hid under tables and ran away from our child care workers. When we added Celebration Place…

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There are tens of thousands of churches in America that haven’t baptized anyone in at least a year. Even though The Great Commission and The Great Commandments are core to who we are as the church, we’re struggling to engage our culture with the Gospel.

One of the reasons so few churches effectively engage in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often, the first question asked is, “How much will it cost?”

The right question is, “Who will it reach?”

How much is a soul worth? If you spend $500 on a social media ad that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?

If your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive evangelism strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let me share some insights about financing your strategy, based upon my experience as Saddleback has grown over the years.

First, money spent on evangelism is never an “expense,” it’s always an investment.

The people you reach will more than repay the cost you invested to reach them. Before we held the first service at Saddleback Church, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in…

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medium_16249760532

In a recent Fast Company article, The Startup Revolution Is About To Surge Again, Coca-Cola VP of Innovation David Butler discussed his ideas about what is needed for the “next wave entrepreneurial growth.”

I see some parallels with church planting and church growth movements.

Butler talks about three waves, two of which have already occurred and one which is forming.

The First Wave

The first wave was, “moving from dotcom to startup.”

Startups are now mainstream. It’s never been easier to start a business. There are new tools available that make the process easier than ever before.

Church planting has become more mainstream as well. Church planting became cool. Churches wanted to become church planting churches and seminary graduates began thinking more and more about planting their own churches rather than going on staff at existing churches.

In the startup world,

. . . new tools, communities, and access to capital have all contributed to today’s global startup ecosystem. That’s the second wave—the wave we’ve been riding for the past decade.

Church planting organizations, congregational church planting arms, multisite, church planting conferences, books, etc. all grew up to create a church planting ecosystem. This was the second wave.

The Second Wave

Church…

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Have you ever met a verbal arsonist? Their words are always inflammatory.

In the Bible, the book of James says that words, like a fire, can burn people. We grew up saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” But words do hurt. Words destroy. Fire and words under control can give tremendous warmth and light, but fire and words out of control can be devastating. They can destroy miles and miles of homes and lands and peoples.

James wrote in his letter, “All of us do many wrong things. But if you can control your tongue, you are mature and able to control your whole body” (James 3:2 CEV).

In other words, if you can learn to master your tongue, everything else about your life will be easier to manage.

The problem with our words is that they can create a chain reaction. You can say something that you didn’t mean to have any harm, but it can have devastating effects that are beyond your control. Just a few inflammatory statements set off a chain of events that we now look back on and call World War II.

On a more personal level, your words can create a…

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Team

Whenever I consult with a church, ministry, or nonprofit, I always begin by looking closely at the team. The employees are the ones that make an organization work, so learning as much as we can about them is critical – and I’m often surprised at how little pastors and other leaders actually know about the personal side of their team. If you’re not taking the time to know your people well, you’re shortchanging your vision. Having studied teams over the years, here’s a starting list of issues leaders need to know about their teams:

1) Purpose is just as important as talent.

Talent is important, but know why your people are there in the first place. Find out who’s there just for a paycheck, and who’s there to change the world. Knowing motivations is critical for team chemistry to work.

2) Make sure they’re in the right seats on the bus.

You know the Jim Collins concept – get the right employees on the bus, make sure they’re in the right seats, and then get the wrong ones off the bus. Brilliantly simple, and yet you’d be amazed at the number of organizations…

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“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b NIV).

Make a list of the top three times of growth in your life. Odds are quite high that one, two, or three of them were troublesome times. Maybe you brought the trouble on yourself by going to graduate school. Or the trouble happened to you when multiple staff members left at the same time. Either way, trouble comes our way and we have to face it. In times like these, I’m encouraged by an adage a mentor once told me:

Growth does not come free of charge.

Small group ministry lends itself to messes. We want people to be real and to be in relationships. That’s a recipe for messiness! Fortunately, our God is one of restoration and growth in the midst of pain.

As long as you’re going to have the messes, you (and your small group leaders) might as well grow from them. In God’s Word we see imagery of the refiner’s fire subjecting precious metals to extreme temperatures to enhance and perfect it. Consider a mess you may even be in right now, and let God…

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U Turn

While the phrase “Paradigm Shift” may be used and heard a lot today, the actual occurrence of one is still a rare sight.

A paradigm shift can be defined as a dramatic change by members of a group or community in the cognitive framework of basic assumptions, ways of thinking, underlying suspicions and methodology. I believe a true paradigm shift in small group ministry can release a desperately needed disciple-making revolution in our churches.

For many years, small groups were seen merely as an assimilation tool. In other words, if you get new church attenders plugged-in to a small group, they won’t be able to sneak out the “back door.” While this was (and is) a real benefit of small groups, it was an isolated motivator that typically didn’t generate enough sustainable momentum for churches to eventually see the “back door” shrink or close.

Since then, small groups have been re-discovered as an oasis for community, transparency and best friends. In others words, you need a small group to form close-knit, Christian relationships in your life that allow you to be vulnerable and cared for. While this was (and is) a real benefit of small…

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Prayer

At Grace Hills, having sensed something of the direction God was taking us as a community, we declared 2017 to be “the year of the breakthrough.” And we’ve seen breakthrough!

  • People have come to know Jesus and have been baptized.
  • Marriages have gotten back on track toward unity.
  • People have discovered and committed to biblical community.

And much more. God’s Spirit has been stirring our hearts as we’ve gathered before him. And it’s left us wanting more of what God wants to give us, which really means, it’s left us wanting to give ourselves more to his control and influence.

We held a worship celebration recently and referred to it as an “All In Gathering,” but it was really a meeting filled with prayer, praise, and a little bit of preaching, too. The night culminated in us huddling together as a church family around the stage, praying over our leaders and asking God to show us how to follow him into the future more faithfully.

1. God, Give Us a Breakthrough in Evangelism!

God, remove the blinders from the eyes of unbelievers so that the Gospel we are sharing will connect with their minds, hearts,…

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