Archives For Brandon Cox

I Am a Foreigner

By Brandon Cox

I don’t like that word. I don’t like to hear people called “foreigners” on American soil. And frankly, I just don’t care that much about the politics of immigration. I’m a Christian, a stranger and a foreigner in this culture. My citizenship is in another kingdom, so I’m odd and strange because of my beliefs and values.

Right now, I’m a foreigner in a more real sense. I’m writing this in my hotel room in the Dominican Republic. I’m on a mission trip, visiting Pastor Aridio Garcia and his church, Iglesia Bautista Nueve Espenaza. My task tonight was to take a Haitian translator (he’s tri-lingual) door-to-door and invite people to a Bible study, which I would later lead at a local family’s home.

At one door, the man of the house was a little upset that my Haitian friend had brought these “Americano’s” by and another group of guys around the corner felt the same. I’m not entirely sure about the source of…

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Some churches view the staff as hired workers. If that is the case in your church, respect your leaders and don’t blame any rebellious attitudes on what I am about to say about this. Other churches view the staff as interdependent creative thinkers and leaders. In the first case, the usual mentality is “anything you aren’t doing for the church should be done ‘off the clock’.” In the second case, the mentality is “everything you do as ministry and mission benefits us as long as your priorities are in order.”

When I was at Saddleback, I learned some pretty great lessons about systems, structures, and staff leadership. In spite of our blessed chaos and the “fast, fluid, and flexible” environment of the southern California megachurch, I learned a ton about leadership and how a church staff can function in a healthy way.

One of the principles Pastor Rick often shared was that every church staff member is expected to fulfill three different ministries, on or off “the clock.”

1. Every church staff member has a ministry to the lost. And our ministry to the lost trumps our other responsibilities every time. We…

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Don't Believe the RumorsPastor, you will always have critics, and you will always have fans. At the end of the day, you need to have the guts to believe neither, but rather to allow your affirmation to flow only from the truth God has declared about you in His Word.

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When I was in Bible college, I was taught the same basic sermon preparation methods that thousands of other preachers have learned. It’s a linear outline that usually begins with a major proposition, continues with several major points, each supported with explanatory illustrations and then a conclusion that summarizes the truths presented. There’s nothing wrong with that approach, but my tendency too often is to rely on what I know.

This past Sunday, my wife sat and listened to the message, so I asked her how it went and she offered plenty of encouragement along with a question about why I had chosen a particular illustration that was a little trite and impersonal rather than a life experience we had endured that illustrated the point much more personally. Ultimately, it was easier for me to stay away from the deep, personal story that would have better connected with the audience and play it safe with something more light-hearted. Hence, I missed a great opportunity.

The…

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What Is Next?Pastor, no one on the planet bears more responsibility for motivating a group of people than you.

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 definition of preaching that captured my heart. At the end of every message, I want to issue a strong appeal to my congregation to do at least three things:

  • Consider the truth I have presented.
  • Understand the personal application of it.
  • Act on it.

Motivation is not the primary goal of preaching – seeing lives transformed by the gospel is. But motivation is near the top of the list of priorities in preaching. At the end of our expounding of the Scriptures, people need to know what to do with what we just said, and they need to be provoked to take action lest they be hearers of the Word and notdoers.

Therefore, when I preach, I try to do certain things.

Connect the ancient text with the audience’s…

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ReWrittenA year and a half ago, I met Bruce and Heather Moore. I had somehow caught wind of their story and was so inspired that we invited them out to California to attend Saddleback’s leadership conference. Bruce had served on staff at two different suburban megachurches, but God had called he and Heather into a new ministry venture leading a dying church. Their new congregation in downtown Tampa had one year to live, and over that year, God worked a miracle through their leadership and began authoring a new story for Christ Fellowship.

Bruce and Heather are sold out for the gospel’s sake, and God keeps using them to lead others to Jesus. NavPress wisely approached them about writing a new book called ReWritten: Exchanging Your Story for God’s Story. I read the manuscript early on and loved the concept. I wholeheartedly endorsed it and want to do so now that the book is going to be released to the public.

Here’s an excerpt from the book…

Your life matters. It matters a great deal.

Truth be told, life will never be satisfying until you know who God created…

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MetricsChurch metrics. That’s not a very pretty phrase. In fact, for many, it seems cold. If church becomes a numbers game, then people become “just a number,” and when people are just a number, we’ve failed to emulate the ministry of Jesus. But if we fail to count anybody, we allow people to slip through the cracks and therefore fail to emulate the ministry of Jesus.

So how do you count people in a way that makes each person count? You balance the stats and the stories. In other words, who was there on Sunday is even more important than how many were there. I’m leading a breakout session during Exponential (it will be in their podcast some time soon) on “The Metrics of the Craveable Church.” I didn’t pick the title, or the topic for that matter. But what I’m emphasizing is that how many people showed up is not nearly as important as how many people moved. How many people gave their lives to Jesus, submitted to baptism, joined a small group, and got involved in a ministry for the first time?

We’re planting a church and when I travel, people often…

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The Measure of Our SuccessWe recently caught up with Shawn Lovejoy between breakouts at Exponential. His new book, The Measure of Our Success, was debuted during the conference and we see it as one of the most important reads for Pastors in recent times. Shawn candidly and transparently shares from his own mistakes and issues a challenge to Pastors to determine what really matters and how God defines success as opposed to how our culture defines it. It’s a must-read book for the heart and soul of any Pastor.

Grab a Copy!

You can also watch and share the Youtube edition.

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Joshua Meyer and FamilyJoshua Meyer is currently planting Cause Church in Clinton, Iowa and they are launching this week, Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012.

How did God call you to plant Cause Church?

About three years ago I was standing at my sink washing dishes and I heard in my mind: “You are done”. I called my wife, asked her to come home from work, and shared with her what I had sensed. From that moment on we have been praying and are drawn back to that moment. That day I went to three men and shared what I had heard, received wisdom and advice from each, and spent the next year asking God to help us understand what that meant for us.

One day while driving and praying God confirmed that whatever was next must be done in a new setting. Moments later I received a text message from a former youth ministry student and it said, “You can’t pour new wine into an old wine skin”. I was blown away. I called my wife and she said that in prayer she was receiving…

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Thin IceGrace Hills Church is eleven Sundays old, officially, and about eight months old, unofficially. And we’re in trouble. If we don’t do something, all of our effort will be in vain and all hope of planting the kind of church Jesus had in mind will be lost.

No, we’re not out of money. God has provided every step of the way. No, we’re not losing people. In fact, we’re seeing new attenders every week. And no, we’re not losing our leaders. We’re seeing new leaders emerge as each week passes. But still, I content that we’re in jeopardy of losing everything important to us… if we don’t fight for it.

Churches do not automatically thrive. The American church, as a local institution, has proven that it can coast along in almost-dead mode for many years. But there are no churches that are effectively reaching and changing their surrounding culture by accident. Recently, Rick Warren wrote a brief piece on Pastors.com about breaking three common barriers to church growth. In the comments, a troubling attitude emerged that is probably not too uncommon among believers in American churches…

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The RefugeTodd and Darren Lemons are currently planting The Refuge in Terrell, Texas and are planning on an official launch date of January 6, 2013.

Tell us about your calling to church planting.

Todd – I was part of a plant in 1996 in Savannah, GA and from there called to the ministry. Ever since then, I have felt a strong connection with church planting and after serving with established churches, I felt God calling me to plant a church a couple of years ago. When I asked for prayer from a good friend of mine, Darren, he said he was being called to do the same. We prayed, talked about it, and our visions lined up almost to a “T”. We then were approved by our association and God has confirmed our calling every step of the way.

Darren – I had been serving in Mesquite, TX and was struggling for 5 years with the calling of where God wanted me to plant a church. God kept revealing the Kaufman County area to me. I was getting ready to start the process when Todd and I discussed his calling….

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Handle with PrayerI’m wrapping up a message series on the subject of prayer this Sunday, and I’ve grown in my personal prayer walk as a result of preaching it. I’ve learned from some great sources and wanted to pass along a list of my favorites…

Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God’s Strength for Living by Charles Stanley

Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer, The: Experience the Wonders of God through Prayer by E. M. Bounds

With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray

Prayer, the Great Adventure by David Jeremiah

Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey

Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster

On Prayer and the Contemplative Life by Thomas Aquinas (currently free in Kindle edition)

On Earth as It Is in Heaven: How the Lord’s Prayer Teaches Us to Pray More Effectively by Warren Wiersbe

Prayer: Asking and Receiving by John R. Rice (out of print, but one of the best)

Praying the Lord’s Prayer by J. I. Packer

The Power of Prayer and Fasting and How to Pray by Ronnie Floyd

Too Busy…

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