Archives For Brandon Cox

OverwhelmedDo we choose to be overwhelmed? To suffer depression an anxiety? Yes and no.

Depression and anxiety are epidemic in our culture. Suicide, the most tragic possible end of these conditions, is all too common today, and the church has had a mixed and mediocre track record of dealing with it.

About six or seven years ago, I entered a period of depression and anxiety that I didn’t see coming, and didn’t recognized until I was in fairly deep. I had made the choice to say yes to “opportunities” that wound up crowding God and other people out of my life, and I descended into a bit of a pit. My soul suffered. My wife and kids suffered. My church suffered.

After moving to the west coast and getting plugged into a church and a small group that forced us to get real, I finally began to understand where I was and make the slow and difficult climb out of the valley. I’d been overwhelmed.

What does overwhelmed look like in the life of a Christian?

First, you can’t keep God happy, so you stop trying, or at least slow down. Prayer becomes minimal. Our problem is that we…

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This past Sunday, Grace Hills had our big Premiere Sunday at the Malco Pinnacle Hills Cinema. We had less than three weeks to prepare for the big move after making the decision to switch locations, so the last week or two have been fairly stressful, but when the big day arrived, our minds were a little blown away by the response. God showed up in a powerful way!

Here are eight factors that have been on my mind since we left the theater…

God

I have to point out up front something I repeat often when people are expressing gratitude for how well things went: “We blame the good stuff on Jesus.” He guided our planning and preparation, energized our team for the task, and His Spirit filled the theater with His powerful presence and blessed His truth.

Prayer CircleA lot of prayer

Not only had our staff been praying hard during the days leading up to Sunday but the whole church was praying that God would use the day in a powerful way. When our…

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Water Sunday

Water Sunday is one Sunday your church or small group sets aside to focus on the global water crisis, through a variety of activities, studies or sermons that bring the congregation into solidarity with people all over the world who lack safe water. It includes a special offering to provide safe water and the Living Water message for those in desperate need.

Here are three simple suggestions for making an impact with Water Sunday…j

  • Beverage Fast – Challenge your congregation to skip all beverages except for water for a designated amount of time. You can participate for a week, a full month, or even as a Lenten fast! Calculate what you would normally spend on drinks for that amount of time and donate it to provide safe water to people around the world.
  • Six-Week Small Group Study – This transformational small group study will walk through three people from the bible, starting with Jesus calling Peter out onto the water, as they take steps of faith and will provide actionable steps that participants can take each week as they grow in their faith.Each session includes a powerful 4-5 minute video with…

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FB AdsGod invented social media, so church, you ought to use it! Nonprofits who hope to change the world? You too! I’ve written plenty about the theory and philosophy behind using social media. In fact, I wrote a whole book about using social media to spread the gospel and I wrote it to lay a foundation.

Today, I’m shooting from the hip and offering some practical, do-able tips for using social media on the ground. These are based on my observations of what I’ve seen work, what I’ve seen done poorly, and what I believe is on the horizon. So…

  1. Define the why. Don’t just engage because it’s cool. Engage because it matters. For eternity.
  2. Define the who. Who are your audiences (and you will have more than one).
  3. Determine your strategy. Don’t try to do everything, but definitely don’t do nothing (I know…).
  4. Value communications and creativity. It’s not a little thing on the side. Everything you do is communications.
  5. Start. Sign up…

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Go see Selma. Angie and I caught it on Saturday night and were moved by its message. Be prepared for Lyndon Johnson’s profanity and some scenes that are shockingly violent. Both represent realities of the era. Here’s the trailer…

Dr. King has been an inspiration to me for a number of years because of his intense passion for seeing a world where color no longer divides humanity. One doesn’t have to read much of the New Testament to discover that this was certainly a priority of Jesus as well. His new Kingdom would be one in which “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28 NLT)

This verse, and plenty of others, aren’t about denying the physical realities of variances in our skin pigmentation or the anatomical differences between male and female. The bigger point is that when confronted with Christ, we must acknowledge the universality of certain characteristics on a spiritual level.

  • We are ALL created equal in worth and dignity, in God’s image.
  • We are ALL sinners in need of the redemptive grace of God.
  • We are ALL made acceptable to…

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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.

Click play to listen in…

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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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