Archives For Brandon Cox

Pointers for PastorsWhat exactly is a ‘purpose driven’ church? In this Pointer for Pastors, I’ll tackle that question and explain what it means to focus on God’s eternal purposes for the church, rather than pretty much anything else.

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People Pleasing PastorsCharles Stone pegged me well with his book People-Pleasing Pastors, which I highly recommend. I have struggled with people-pleasing for most of my life. As a kid, I think I had a positive tendency to want to obey authorities in my life, but as an adult I managed to add to that dynamic a tendency to avoid any correction or conflict. And the only alternative is to keep everybody around me happy while bottling up my own feelings of frustration and disagreement. And whatever we keep stuffing inside… eventually leaks, or explodes, and I’ve been guilty of both.

As Charles points out, Pastors are particularly prone to people pleasing. We want people to like our sermons, to feel good after our counsel, to agree with our vision and leadership, and to feel better about themselves for having been around us. While some level of encouragement and affection toward others is healthy and biblical, if we’re not careful it can ultimately feed our ego, present itself as a false humility, and change the way we lead and live.

I’ve learned this lesson the…

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DiveNothing paralyzes good leadership like fear, and nothing fuels good leadership like taking risks in faith. Obviously, we must make decisions wisely, but when we know, it’s time to go. This is coming from a somewhat trigger-shy leader.

If you know what a DISC profile is, I’m a high “I” and a fairly low “D.” That simply means, I want everybody to be on board with a decision before I move forward as opposed to driving ahead on my own. So when I feel that people disapprove of my direction, I’m prone to want to plant my feet. Knowing this is half the battle, and dumping my fear and leading confidently anyway is the other half.

As leaders, we fight fear daily.

  • The fear of trying and failing.
  • The fear of criticism.
  • The fear of doing something dumb and getting everyone hurt.

Way back in 2000-ish, the church I was leading in Kentucky was averaging about 60 in weekly worship, so we set aside a Sunday as a big day and we set a goal of having 75. I announced it publicly. We prayed…

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2014I’ve loved 2014. It’s been crazy busy, but there’s also been a sweet rhythm to life. I haven’t blogged as regularly as I have in past years, but my posts have often been longer, more article-length, and at least half of this year’s top ten are actually the top ten of all time (and this is my tenth year blogging). Without further delay, here were the best button-pushing, attention-garnering articles I wrote for pastors and ministry leaders this year.

10. The Truth of the Bible Still Matters, And It Always Will

This has been a bit of a roller coaster year in American culture, from the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case to the various gay marriage cases heard. In the middle of that chaos, I felt a calm assurance because of a decision I made when I started my ministry at age eighteen – to accept the Bible as God’s perfect Word.

Regardless of the outcomes of these and other controversies, I will still carry a Bible in which I completely trust. I believe it to be timeless truth as a whole and in all of its parts. Therefore, I have an absolute…

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Temple Baptist Church Sarnia New Roof

No church leader I know wants to see another church close its doors. We need every local church, now more than ever, if we’re going to fulfill the Great Commission as soon as possible. I’m a Baptist who still believes in the perpetuity of biblical, local New Testament churches until Jesus comes again. But each local church in history has tended to have its own life cycle. Some are revived and have a whole new life. Others disband and dissolve. And many churches limp along in mere survival mode for a couple of decades until their stalwart generation is gone and then close their doors.

Here’s a hard truth. Sometimes, churches need to die. Sometimes, churches need a miraculous healing and fresh breath of life. God is certainly in the miracle-working business and is alive and well on His throne, but under His sovereign reign, history proves that miracles aren’t always in order from His perspective.

If you think your church might be dying, here are some possible next moves.

Assess the situation.

And here’s the tough question you must ask to have a meaningful assessment: Will we, by fighting for our survival, consume…

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RewiredSpiritual growth campaigns have always been a powerful way to move a church forward, and with the rapid adoption of social media by the people in the pews, there has never been a greater opportunity to create, stimulate, and propagate a conversation among your people about what God is doing in their midst. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and a myriad of other online social networks are merely examples of how technology is helping our culture catch back up with God’s original plan for his Good News to be carried via interpersonal communication.

God’s Good News spreads furthest and fastest through personal connections and conversations.

Growth happens with intentional focus, so whether you are simply beginning a new message series or launching a full-blown campaign on the scale of “What on Earth Am I Here For?” you will need a strategy for empowering people to further the conversation with their friends.

Here are some things to consider:

Evaluate and expand your library of content. Content is currency. The people writing the books, blogs, and tweets that offer the most valuable information are ultimately purchasing trust and influence, and no one has better content on hand than…

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I love small churches. I love medium-sized churches. And I love large churches and “megachurches” (typically defined as an evangelical congregation with 2,000 or more weekend service attenders). I also agree with a principle shared by Bailey Smith who once said, “There are no large churches. All churches are small, some are just smaller than others when compared to the surrounding lost population.”

I’ve pastored churches of 30 and I’ve served as a staff Pastor at a church that averaged about 22,000 attenders at the time. In many ways, the largest of them was also the smallest – the most capable of shaping and nurturing my soul. For whatever reason, church size is a very, very sensitive topic. Within the church, everyone seems to favor whatever size the church they’re part of represents. Some view small churches as ineffective and unwelcoming. Others view large churches as doctrinally weak or merely as corporate structures who prefer making dollars over disciples.

Why all the sensitivity? I think it’s social. We’re all a little protective of our identity, especially when we feel that someone is judging and assessing us as more or less worthy by secondary measures such as church size.

At Grace…

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Counseling

Some of the spiritually healthiest people I know are in counseling. There seems to be some stigma around it, but getting help with our mental and emotional issues is really a matter of choosing to grow with the help of others. And the New Testament reveals a pretty neat idea in the mind of God… the church can be a growing body of compassionate counselors. If you’re a Christian, you need counseling from other Christians, and you need to offer counseling to others too.

I believe there is a huge need for professional counseling in the culture in which we live, and there are times for all of us when the the healthiest thing we can do is pay to see a clinician trained in the art of coaching us toward healthier thinking and relationships. But there is also a vast army of counselors within the membership of the church.

Paul challenged Christians to “Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives.” (Colossians 3:16 NLT) He challenged us to admonish and to encourage, to hold others accountable, to help apply biblical truth, and to make each other healthier, mutually.

When I was a…

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Mother TeresaMartin Luther King, Jr. was so moved by the plight of black people in America that he gave his life leading a civil rights movement. Mother Teresa was so crushed by the poverty she saw in Calcutta that she spent her life there ministering to the poor. John Knox was so burdened for the souls of the people of Scotland that he prayed to God, “Give me Scotland, or I die.”

Moses saw the suffering of his Hebrew brothers and sisters and it moved him to reject his royal upbringing and ultimately lead them across the Red Sea to freedom. David was touched by the broken and outcast who were fleeing Saul’s kingdom to live in the caves that he became the great shepherd-king of Israel. Paul was devastated over the Jews’ rejection of Jesus as Messiah to the point that he bordered on wishing himself to be accursed if it would mean saving them.

What breaks your heart?

After Jesus encountered the woman at the well and changed her life with the good news, His disciples wondered why Jesus would even waste his time on the Samaritans. Jesus forced them to refocus and…

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Vanderbloemen Bird NextSuccession has been a hot topic in many church leadership circles lately.

William Vanderbloemen, former pastor and President/CEO of executive search firm Vanderbloemen Search Group just wrote a book on the subject called Next: Pastoral Succession That Works, which is a church leader’s comprehensive guidebook to understanding what you can do now to prepare for the day your church faces a leadership transition.

Brandon: What is the overall big picture of Next?

William: It really comes down to one sentence: Every pastor is an interim pastor.

Why? Because unless you plan on pastoring your church after Jesus returns, every church will have to face the reality of a leadership transition. Are you ready? Most people aren’t. Many church leaders equate succession planning to retirement planning. However, smart church leaders realize that succession planning is much more than that. We hope that this book will be a conversation starter and a guide for pastors and church boards as they look to the inevitable reality of transition.

Brandon: In Next, you mention the old adage, “Everyone wants to talk about succession…until it’s their own.” Why do you think many pastors feel that way?

William: What…

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Everything Is CommunicationI first read The Purpose Driven Church around 1998 and began to implement some of the core ideas of the book. Somewhere along the way, Christian leaders began to re-interpret Rick Warren’s ideas and reduce the idea of being a purpose driven church down to a seeker-sensitive style of worship and nothing more. But being a purpose driven church is really about having an intentional process for disciple-making.

This disciple-making process is rather simple. Bring your community into your weekend crowd. Help the crowd become part of your congregation. Move the congregation to be committed, and turn the committed into a core. And as your core adopts the mission, vision, and values, they reach the community and the cycle repeats. So it’s a matter of moving people into church membership, into spiritual maturity, into ministry, and into mission.

Church communications is an area of special interest to me and a vital part of any church’s strategy for reaching our current culture. And in a purpose driven paradigm, we need to think about how we communicate in a well-rounded fashion to strengthen the process of disciple-making. We tend to think about church communications as design, marketing,…

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MoneyAs a Pastor, I’m well aware of how many people have the assumption that “all Pastors want to talk about is money.” The funny thing is, after twenty years in ministry and communicating regularly with thousands of pastors, I can firmly assert that talking about money is one of our least favorite things to do, especially in our culture where personal finances are very… personal.

But the Apostle Paul wrote to a younger Pastor in Ephesus named Timothy once and told him to “Teach and urge these things… there is great gain in godliness with contentment… but those who desire to be rich fall into temptation… for the love of money is the root of all evil… As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches.” (1 Timothy 5:2-17 ESV)

In other words, good doctrine (which literally means “teaching”) demands that we address the issue of money. Here are several reasons why the church NEEDS to talk about finances…

  • Money is a gift from God to be managed for a season, not an earned commodity to be consumed…

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