Archives For Brandon Cox

Social media is here. It’s not a trend. It’s not a fad. It’s part of the atmosphere we breathe in, like oxygen. Like it or not, social media is here.

You and I who are parents of teens and preteens grew up in a very different world. I remember the first broadcast day for MTV. Remember the first video? It was “Video Killed the Radio Star.” And it was prophetic.

We also grew up at the advent of the Internet for home users, email, and social networking when it wasn’t cool.

Email started out as a kind of inter-office instant messaging system. Now, seven out of 10 people check their email a minimum of six times per day.

In the first internet generation, we would “dial up” and then “disconnect.” You could hear the modem scream and then hope for a “You’ve got mail” announcement.

Now, it’s always on. We’re absorbed in it.

I have a daughter and, as of this writing, she’s about to turn 15. I couldn’t be more proud of her maturity when it comes to social media and technology. But it’s something I think about every single day. I have two boys – currently 7 and 4 -…

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pastor

Truth: Your pastor is weak. He’s flesh. He’s human, frail, and doesn’t always have it all together. He may be faithful to God and thereby filled with the Holy Spirit, but there’s always a secret side to him. He will probably never mention it in a sermon or a deacons meeting. Chances are, he won’t even tell his wife, but he endures battles.

I’ve been a pastor since I was 19 years old, and I’ve fought these battles for all that time. I want to advocate for your pastor today to tell you a few things you probably weren’t aware of.

Your Pastor Battles Loneliness

Pastors are surrounded by people who love them, but who often don’t know them intimately. They are celebrated on Sunday, but wonder on a slow Friday morning if they’ll ever enjoy a deep friendship with anyone. Call him and encourage him.

Your Pastor Battles Feelings of Inadequacy

Most pastors today are expected to be great preachers, teachers, counselors, hospital chaplains, advisors, financial managers, publicists, apologists, scholars, organizers, recruiters, and sometimes maintenance men. That’s a lot of pressure. Most pastors are hardwired to do one or two of those things well, so it’s a virtual…

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Culture

“The modern Church is so consumeristic!” It’s a common line uttered by the religiously fed up, and of course, there’s a lot of truth in it. Some churches in America do tend to cater to the consumeristic mentality of our culture. But I think, on the whole, most churches don’t, and that’s actually part of the problem.

The modern Church has a perceived problem of consumerism. And it’s very popular to speak and write on the topic, preaching to the choir and an angry chorus of amens. The insinuation is that churches too often go out of their way to please seekers and make the Gospel palatable to nonbelievers, watering down the message and skirting hard truth in the process.

Does this happen? Sure it does. Some leaders, choosing the approval of people over the fear of God, invite people to an easy version of Christianity that never makes the invitation Jesus made to “come and die” with him. But let’s be honest for a moment. For every “six flags over Jesus” fun house version of church, there are dozens of churches that really couldn’t care less about what the average consumer thinks. And that may be the…

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168. That’s it.

You and I have exactly the same amount of time. Rich or poor, young or old, we each get 168 hours in a week’s time.

With some of that, we need to rest, or we’ll get fewer total weeks in our short lives. With some of that time, we need to spend quality time with people, building friendships and relationships.

And with some of that time, we work. Actually, most of us work during a lot of those168 hours, proportionally speaking.

How many times have you gotten to the end of the day, or the week, or maybe just Monday morning and said, “If I just had more time, I’d . . . ”

Reality check: You can’t get more time.

But what you can do is expand your capacity. You have the ability to be more fruitful with the same amount of time you’re working now.

I recently wrote on another website about the difference between bandwidth and capacity, and how we often confuse the two.

Bandwidth pertains to how much time we have for a given area of life, such as family, work, or volunteering. And capacity refers to how much fruit I am able to bear in…

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Warning

Can you really become an overnight success? No. Let’s be real. Actual “success” is the sum of all kinds of effort and energy over periods measured in years, not nights.

Can you lose your success overnight? Yep.

J. J. Watt said, “Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.”

When someone living is described as successful, we have to remember that we’re talking about someone living through the process of becoming successful. And one of the more dangerous decisions we can make is declaring ourselves successful based on yesterday’s victories.

This principle is illustrated well by the ancient King David of Israel. When he was a kid, he defeated a lion and a bear. As a teenager, he took down Goliath. And in early adulthood, he was anointed king in the place of Saul and led his nation in great military conquests, delivering them from the oppression of the Philistines.

That’s success, right?

But in midlife, a single decision nearly ruined it all. In fact, that decision was extremely costly for David, and even more so for the people he was leading.

Here’s the story . ….

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Facebook Like

I will never forget that one Sunday. We were launching a new message series called “Healing.” It was all about how Jesus’ Beatitudes are the ultimate pathway for recovery. We spent about $200 sponsoring a video advertising the series during the week leading up to the first Sunday.

The results? We had 74 first-time guests, and, literally, all of them indicated on their communication cards that Facebook was how they’d heard about us.

Two young ladies who had come because of the ad told me after the service that they were heading out to a party the night before, and our ad caught their eye. They decided to attend our services that morning, and both of them prayed to receive Christ.

That was $40,000 well spent. Let me clarify a few details about that amount . . .

  • It was actually Facebook AND Instagram.
  • It was over five years, not all at once.
  • It was, literally, our entire advertising budget for five years.
  • It has worked! Very well, in fact.

But that’s not all. Theirs isn’t the only story. We now see about 400 to 450 people gathering each week, and a majority of them have actually…

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Coffee Meeting

Somehow we’ve gotten a little confused about the essence of leadership. If you think it’s all about getting bigger, going higher, and commanding more respect and attention from others, you’ve missed the point.

Leadership is all about giving everything we’ve got to others. If we have knowledge, wisdom, and insight, we lead by giving it away. We grow by investing in others.

There is an entire generation of up-and-coming leaders who need elders. They need fathers, models, mentors, and friends. And leadership is, among many other things, the willingness to lead the next generation of leaders.

Becoming obsolete is easy. All you have to do is stay on the path of least resistance, pay the least cost, and think only about yourself and your own success.

To avoid becoming obsolete, try one of these tips for leading the next generation…

Grab Coffee

Can you lead from a distance? Sure. But if all you do is lead from a distance, you are severely limiting your opportunity to lead to your fullest potential.

And that’s why coffee is so important (and espresso is even better!). Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone makes a pretty excellent…

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Brokenness

When I served as a pastor at Saddleback Church, one of the things that impressed me most about the church was a hiring requirement Pastor Rick Warren laid down:

If you haven’t been through pain, you’re not ready to be on staff at Saddleback Church.

Pastor Rick understood the power of a broken heart.

Andy Stanley understands it, too. When speaking to leaders, he often asks the question, “What breaks your heart?”

Usually, knowing what breaks your heart opens the door to knowing what you should do with your life and how you should be leading others.

Nehemiah, of the Old Testament, is considered one of the greatest models of successful leadership in history. And his story started with a question: “How’s Jerusalem?”

When the answer was “not good,” Nehemiah’s heart was broken. He records:

“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven” (Nehemiah 1:4 NLT).

Nehemiah’s burden drove him to lead the nation of Israel into a successful rebuilding campaign.

My wife, Angie, and I talk about this often. Her heart breaks for those in our community suffering with emotional and relational brokenness, so…

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Church communication is both art and science. You can use spreadsheets, but you also need finesse.

You can print bulletins, but few people will read them. You can use social media but few people will see the updates. You can send email but a majority won’t see it in their inboxes. You can even print a newsletter and use snail mail to send it, but why in the world would you?

Church communication leaders and church staff members hear it all the time: “I didn’t know that was happening.”

I’ve been a pastor for 20 years and I’ve been designing church websites for 15 years. I’ve worked in church communications for over a decade and in the last five years, I’ve watched our church plant grow from two families to 500 or so regular attenders.

We still struggle with all of the same questions every church leader has about keeping people informed:

  • What gets announced from the stage?
  • What gets put in the bulletin?
  • What gets posted on social media?
  • What gets passed along via email?
  • Who is in charge of all of that?

Signal-to-Noise

This matters so much because people are constantly being bombarded with noise. From work,…

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Winners

If you’re a pastor, you’re a motivator. In fact, motivational preaching is one of the most powerful and persuasive tools for change our culture knows.

W. A. Criswell, one of my own preaching heroes, defined preaching as “seeking to move a man’s will God-ward.” He went on to define teaching as “instructing that man in the will and ways of the Lord.”

I agree with the late Dr. Criswell that both are the tasks of the local church pastor, but it was his words about the motivational nature of preaching particularly captured my heart.

The very idea of motivational preaching may have negative undertones with many people because we assume that the Gospel is at odds with a message of personal motivation. Or at least we feel that the doctrine of depravity is incompatible with a doctrine of personal achievement. But when we begin with a proper perspective of self — that we are completely and totally dependent on the redemptive power of God — then the Gospel becomes the most motivational message of all.

We win. We are winning, even when it seems that we’re losing. So we are winners, now and forever because of the grace of God…

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That phrase “teaching hospital” jumped out at me during a conversation with Geoff Surratt, who was then pastor of church planting at Saddleback Church. As we discussed the vision of Grace Hills Church over lunch, Geoff helped me put words to the burden I kept feeling to plant more than a church: to plant a multiplying movement of reproducing churches.

I believe in church planting. I believe that the local church is supposed to multiply itself, birthing daughter churches, and that this is not only biblically mandated, but a highly practical way to expand the Kingdom of God in our culture.

America has seen well over 1,000 new megachurches spring up the last decade, and our actual transforming impact upon America is often difficult to spot. We need more churches. Why?

  • People are going to Hell without Jesus, and the percentage of our population without a relationship with Christ is on the increase.
  • Many existing churches are dying, and birthing new babies is usually easier than raising the dead.
  • God has ordained the local church as his primary vehicle of spiritual and social change in the world.
  • New churches reach more people, faster. It takes…

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Most Christians I know want the Church to experience revival. We just don’t all agree on what revival looks like.

Back in the olden days (the mid-1990s) I preached a few times at a small church (averaging 12 each Sunday) in eastern Arkansas. They had a rotation system that determined who would take the visiting speaker home for lunch, and one day my lot fell to two elderly ladies who made awesome roast beef!

As I sat in their living room visiting after lunch, they brought out some photo albums from the church’s history. I was amazed to see crowds of people stuffed so tight into the little white clapboard building that they were spilling out into the yard around the church, with small groups gathered around each window leaning in to hear a loud evangelist thunder forth the Gospel.

The next few photos were of the mass baptisms they conducted in the White River — dozens had come to claim Jesus Christ.

Some argue that “revival” isn’t about people being saved but about the Church coming back to life. I agree, but the byproduct of the church coming to life is nearly always that lost people knowing and…

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