Archives For Brandon Cox

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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? 74 first-time guests came 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 shared with 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.

$40,000. Well spent. Let me clarify a few details…

  • 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 come as a result of seeing our…

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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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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 brokenheartedly 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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LightEvery great movement of God invites a challenge from sinful people. I wrote about this recently in a post entitled How to Stop a Church from Growing, and Pastor Titus S. Olorunnisola, who is planting Bethel Gospel Centre near Melbourne, Australia, asked the magic question: How, then, do we handle the legalists?

In the case of the early Jerusalem church, the problem was complex. Non-Jewish people all over the region were coming to know Christ, but some deeply legalistic Jews, known as the Judaizers, were demanding that all of these new believers go through the rite of circumcision and keep the ceremonial law in order to be both Jewish and Christian.

Paul, Peter, James, and others were of the viewpoint that salvation for these newcomers was by grace alone through faith alone, but the vocal minority raised enough of an issue that the elders had to gather for a discussion. They finally emerged from this first church council with some wisdom for churches everywhere.

Their decision was rendered as follows:

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them…

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AdventAlways.

’Tis the season of Advent  –  the celebration of the coming, the appearing of Jesus Christ. Advent consists of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas, and Christmas Day. Traditionally, the Christian church has used the first two Sundays of Advent to anticipate the second coming of Christ and the last two Sundays to celebrate his first coming, as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem.

Different church traditions approach Advent in different ways, but I favor the approach of focusing on the four key messages of the Christmas story: hope, peace, joy, and love.

This year, we’re doing an Advent message series based on these themes…

The Christmas season seems to do two things in relationship to hope. It highlights and accentuates the hopefulness we can have when we follow Jesus, who came once and who is coming again. But this time of year also exposes the hopelessness that so many feel because of loneliness and losses.

It’s a tough time of year for a lot of people financially, with winter coming on and the days getting shorter. There’s less sunlight and therefore a little less energy and a little more sadness…

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WinterDecember is crazy. It’s chaos for most American families. We’re rushing from one party to the next, getting the shopping done, and wrapping up the year at work and at home, hopefully before we have all the kids in the house full-time for their two weeks off.

December also tends to highlight our consumeristic tendencies. We go from celebrating thankfulness and contentment on Thanksgiving to the mad dash for cheap stuff on Black Friday. Just take a glance at the condition of the Nike Outlet Store in Seattle after Black Friday shoppers went a bit mad…

If you don’t think consumerism is that much of a problem for us, consider some highlights of this story from Becoming Minimalist‘s website: 21 Surprising Statistics That Reveal How Much Stuff We Actually Own:

There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).

The average American throws away 65 pounds of clothing per year (Huffington Post).

Americans donate 1.9 percent of their income to charitable causes (NCCS/

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how-to-stop-a-church-from-growing-11-30-16

Have you ever read Acts 15? It’s right between Acts 14 and Acts 16! Many people find themselves skipping the chapter, or at best, lazily dozing their way through it to get to the excitement of chapter 16 where Paul received his great “Macedonian Call.”

But there are thousands of churches in America that need to hear the message of Acts 15. It’s written for grumpy people. Or more accurately, it’s written about some grumpy people. They were more religious and more “churchy” than everyone else, and yet demonstrated the greatest lack of maturity among all the saints.

Let me give you the short version… Paul and Barnabas were doing awesome things for God, bringing the least, the last, and the lost to Christ, and establishing local churches across the region. The church was happy! There was celebration and excitement!

The church sent the delegates to Jerusalem, and they stopped along the way in Phoenicia and Samaria to visit the believers. They told them—much to everyone’s joy—that the Gentiles, too, were being converted. (Acts 15:3 NLT)

Notice, growth is happening. People are being saved. Churches are being started. After thousands of years of obstinate resistance, finally, the Gentiles are submitting…

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