Archives For Brandon Cox

Don’t read what I’ve written until you watch this video…

Once you dry your eyes, think about some of the huge implications of this story for people who serve in Christian ministry, personally or vocationally.

  • Lots of teams win games (50% actually) but THIS kind of win gets celebrated virally.
  • Sometimes the role of the pros is to serve up the big moment for the big-hearted volunteer.
  • We’re all selfish, until a few of us are not, and the rest of us get swept up in the movement.
  • Popularity is being liked, but influence is using popularity for a far bigger cause.
  • Huggers are heroes. I wish I was one by nature… without the slight awkwardness of trying to be one.

I could go on, but I’d rather you go on. Either in the comments or as you share this on Facebook, offer your own observations.

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When we began planting Grace Hills, we didn’t have the quarter of a million dollars that some plants in America start out with. We had way less than that in fact, so we had to figure out how to hack some things together, and I’m convinced it’s made us stronger. We learned to do the very best we could with what we had, and we’re still doing that.

A lack of resources is merely an opportunity to be extra creative.

The Values of Excellence

The first thing we had to do was clarify our “values” concerning excellence, and we came up with five. These are not an official statement – just random thoughts that guided some of our early decisions.

  • We do things with excellence (the best we can) for God’s glory.
  • We refuse to make an idol of excellence – excellence isn’t the goal, disciples are.
  • We refuse to allow the pursuit of excellence hold us back. We won’t wait for perfect conditions before taking risks.
  • We will learn from models, valuing effectiveness over originality. We don’t need credit, we need life.
  • We will be a model, sharing our…

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Last Sunday, we wrapped up our teaching in the series Limitless Life, based on the book by Derwin Gray by the same title. The basic idea is that we are all limited by the labels we wear. Some of those labels were given to us by other people and others, we’ve applied to ourselves. But none of those limiting labels are God’s intention for us. He offers labels like “redeemed,” “child of God,” and “more than a conqueror.”

Labels CrossOne of the more painful moments for me as a Pastor was arriving home and getting a longer look at that cross. All those labels… all that shame… all that brokenness among the people who come in every Sunday smiling.

On the first Sunday of the series, we stood a wooden cross at the entryway of the auditorium and gave everyone blank labels. They wrote down the labels they’d been carrying and then stuck them on the cross on their way out. Then we spent the remainder of the series talking about the replacement labels God offers.

We watched, over the course of this series, as people joined small groups at a record pace for us,…

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There is a formula for launching a church in America. Collect lots of money. Spend lots of money getting the word out. Turn the big crowd of strangers into a church. It’s easy… if you have lots of money. But c’mon, church planters are hackers by nature right? It’s possible to get the word out in a better way, especially today.

When we began planting Grace Hills, we didn’t want to drop a ton of money on massive but impersonal means of announcing our arrival – and we didn’t have a ton of money anyway. So we used Facebook. We’re still using Facebook. And it’s working.

  • We started with two couples (including the Cox’s). We spent $0 on traditional advertising but had 35 at our first gathering in July of 2011.
  • We grew to approximately 80 within six months by word-of-mouth and while spending $0 on traditional advertising.
  • We launched with 176 on our first Sunday, mostly gathered through Facebook, word-of-mouth, and search engines.
  • Today, we’re the most “liked” church in northwest Arkansas and an estimated 75-80% of our first time guests found us on the web.

Why Social Media…

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FoundationsAt Grace Hills, one of the most important things we ever talk about is our Code – our Core Values. We talk about these values in every membership class and in most staff meetings. They’ve done more to guide our growth than anything else we’ve written down.

Recently I began reflecting on where our church’s staff needs to go as a team and it occurred to me that while our church, as a whole, understands who we are because of our Code, our staff may not have a strong identity as a team because I’ve never clearly and succinctly articulated my own values for those who join our ministry in a leadership role.

So I wrote out the ten values I hold most dear when it comes to church staff members. And they are…

Grace Hills Staff Values

  1. Jesus is the One who fuels genuine passion, so we stay close to Jesus, we honor Jesus in all we do, and we make time with Jesus first priority.
  2. Integrity is required for leadership, so we honor our covenant and remain accountable to our leaders, and put our families before ministry.
  3. We lead by serving…

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Adrian Rogers outlined sermons using four phrases:

  • Hey You! (Get the audience’s attention)
  • Look! (Examine the Scriptures)
  • See! (Explain the passage)
  • Do! (Make application)

Andy Stanley is famous for one-point preaching, but really breaks his messages into five movements:

  • Me (How do I struggle with this?)
  • We (How do we all struggle with this?)
  • God (What does the Bible say about this?)
  • You (What should you do about this?)
  • We (How can we all live this out together?)

And I’m not sure who came up with it, but another well-known system is:

  • Hook (Get attention)
  • Book (Examine the Word)
  • Look (Expound the passage)
  • Took (Make an appeal)

The Puritans jumped right into point one of 27ish as they preached for several hours and there are plenty of other outlining methods as well. I’ve changed my system several times over the years, which I think is important to keep us out of a rut. Lately, I’ve been outlining my messages around three movements..

WHERE WE ARE

In the first part of the message, I speak about the problem or issue that the message addresses, hopefully in a way that motivates my hearers to identify with the problem personally as in, “Oh yeah, I struggle with that too!”

WHAT GOD SAYS

In the…

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Epic GraceMost of the books that I read on the subject of grace tackle it from a theological point-of-view in which the subject of grace is systematically defined and expounded upon. And I love books that comprehensively address grace, a topic with which it seems I’m never familiar enough. But sometimes, I like to read a book that builds on the foundation of a healthy theology of grace but focuses on grace lived out.

Kurt Bubna’s book Epic Grace is just that. It’s sort of a memoir that involves teaching through story. Kurt’s stories often made me laugh and always made me think. And the basis of the book is that grace is so big, so epic, that it’s the one and only thing that will get us through the thickest and thinnest experiences of our lives.

And whether Kurt intended his book to come across this way or not, I love the un-systematic nature of it. Every chapter covers an aspect of grace, or a related subject, illustrating the underlying principles from Scripture and from his own experience. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to hear Kurt read it out…

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Limitless LifeI’ve been anticipating the release of my friend Derwin Gray’s new book Limitless Life for many months now. There are books that come along that hold the key to restoration and healing for a great number of people, and I believe this is one of those books.

Derwin addresses a subject near to all of us – labels. Some are good, many are bad, and because of our broken nature, we tend to allow the negative to stick hard and long. But God has other plans. He has other labels for us to wear that clearly identify us as His child, His purchased possession and co-inheritors of His glory and Kingdom.

In Derwin’s words, from the introduction…

A label is a soul-tattoo that is ingrained deep in our hearts, so much so that it determines how we see ourselves. And how we see ourselves determines how we live.

A false label leads to living a lie. And a life built on a lie places you in a spiritual prison. Jesus wants to give you, free of charge, labels that are true. And His labels will set you free (John 8: 32).

A destructive label leads…

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Raise the TemperatureThere is a cold, hard fact I remind myself of often as a Pastor. No one does more to determine the spiritual temperature of my church than me, the Pastor. It’s part of shepherding. I’m the lid. I’m the limit.

I define passion as the heated desire with us to do or to be something. Paul talked about being on fire (ready is prothumos or “on heat”) to preach (Romans 1:17) and told Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God within him” (2 Timothy 1:6). I believe Pastors are the primary thermostat when it comes to the spiritual temperature of the church.

That doesn’t always mean a lukewarm church is led by a lukewarm Pastor. There are always exceptions. Sometimes passionate leaders lead apathetic people – just ask Moses. And sometimes apathetic leaders have passionate followers – but usually not for long. But since I’m writing to Pastors and leaders, I’ll simply say that if you’re frustrated that people don’t seem passionate and driven enough, you must start with a check of your own temperature.

When you find yourself in a spot where you’re leading a lukewarm body of people in a mission that…

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FireOne of my favorite little Bible verses might seem somewhat obscure, but in its original language, it’s packed with meaning. Paul wrote to the Romans, “I am eager to come and preach the gospel to you…” (Romans 1:16) The word translated as eager comes from a compound Greek word that means “on heat,” or as we would say it today, Paul was on fire to preach!

Passion is a priceless aspect of leadership. It’s something that can be faked, but only temporarily. We can only keep up the facade of passion for something for so long before people begin to realize we aren’t quite as invested as we’ve acted. Real passion burns inside us. It flares up somewhat uncontrollably and makes us do crazy things, like go to new places with the gospel, get personally involved in the lives of hurting sinners, and push others around us forward even at the cost of our own comfort.

Real Passion Is Cultivated with Jesus

Passion can be derived from reading the latest church growth books, attending conferences, and listening to motivational tapes about leadership. But these generate but a flicker in comparison with the true source of passion in a Christian…

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