Archives For Brandon Cox

What is success? Most people define it in one of three ways:

  • How many possessions do you own?
  • How much power do you wield over others?
  • How much prestige do you have among peers?

American Christians tend to blend right in. We even apply these standards to churches and church leaders. Which church has the biggest budget, the nicest building, or the largest weekend attendance? There’s nothing wrong with any of those things – money is good, influence is invaluable, and popularity is something God can use in huge ways. And we certainly need churches to grow exponentially in a world as lost as ours. The problem is, none of those factor into God’s viewpoint on success.

Jesus gathered a handful of followers in His lifetime, didn’t have a place of His own, and was despised and rejected by the social elite of his community. But He was most definitely successful. In fact, He was so successful that He could come to the end of His life and confidently proclaim…

I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.

– John…

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A History of Social Media

By Brandon Cox

Beth Hayden and Rafal Tomal, with Copyblogger, have put together an insightful infographic detailing the history of social media. They rightly say that it goes all the way back to the first email (since email is social) and they also rightly conclude that “at some point very soon, we will all stop talking about ‘social media’ and put the focus where it belongs – the global media network that connects us all.”

history_of_social_media

Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

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What On Earth Am I Here For?As you most likely know, The Purpose Driven Life is ten years old, and with its tenth anniversary, Saddleback Church and thousands of others will be launching a new spiritual growth campaign in the first quarter of 2013 called What On Earth Am I Here For? We’re putting together a crack team, a volunteer army, a special forces initiative… sorry, got a bit dramatic. We’re looking for Pastors and leaders who will be leading the campaign who are willing to blog the journey on pastors.com.

We’d like to see stories each week about…

  • How you are preparing for the campaign.
  • How you are recruiting hosts and launching new small groups.
  • What you’re preaching in January to prepare for the campaign.
  • How you’re promoting the series.
  • How lives are being changed – stories each week of people who are discovering God’s purposes for their lives.
  • How your church and its people are growing as a result of the campaign.

If you’ll be blogging about these things and would allow us to syndicate your posts here on pastors.com or if you’d like to write for us,…

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PhariseesMany of the Pharisees were probably great teachers and skilled speakers. I’m sure many were charismatic, skilled communicators. But by the time Jesus arrived on the scene, the Pharisees, on the whole, were killing the culture around them spiritually. Jesus had a lot of work to do just to unwire people from the performance-driven, legalistic trap of pharisaism.

I’ve been guilty of preaching like a Pharisee before, and as I review my sermons from the past, I cringe a bit as I peruse certain periods of my ministry when I placed undue burdens on my listeners in the name of “preaching the Word.” I’m writing out of my own past tendencies (and present tendencies I’m still trying to snuff out) as well as out of what I observe across the landscape of evangelical preaching.

The following tips will work to draw a moderate-sized crowd. A pulpit characterized by negativity and belligerence will draw a moderate-sized crowd of masochists who draw energy to go on another day by being beaten up spiritually. But it won’t make Jesus-like, craveable disciples. So use them at your own risk.

How do you preach like…

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I think most everyone is a bit weary of the commercialization of Christmas. Most of us love the season, the traditions, time with family, carols, food, and opportunity to rest. We are not tired of Christmas; we just fear losing what made it “Christmas” to begin with.

That is particularly true when it comes to our children. We do not want them to think this sacred holiday is merely about having their every electronic, plastic, and sugar-infused desire met. We love the expression on their faces as they open presents. We delight even more in putting those smiles there. But we want them to see that those presents represent “the gift;” a gift that was given not to pacify a desire or annual fad, but to meet the deepest need of their soul.

What follows is a liturgy (order of service) of sorts. Feel free to adapt it. The liturgy is intended to be highly interactive and is built around four presents and is infused with Christmas carols, Scripture and conversation. The…

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It’s that time of year again when churches focus on the celebration of the birth of Jesus. We can’t afford to pass up the extra attention that people tend to give to the greatest story ever told. This post is an open thread. Use the comments below to tell us what your church has planned for the holidays. Your name, along with your comment, might just wind up in lights!

Go!

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At precisely 11:31 am, I glanced at the traffic stats for pastors.com and was elated that we were setting an all-time, single day record for pageviews. One article was responsible for much of the surge, and article originally entitled Young Pastors: 7 Women to Watch Out For.

At 11:32, I read and email that reflects feedback I’ve received from others as well pointing out the sexist nature of the article’s title. Good call, you who voiced this. I should clarify that Joe McKeever, the author, wrote an excellent warning to young men in ministry and meant no harm whatsoever with his title. Joe is one of our best and most consistent writers.

Having re-evaluated the article’s title, I made the executive decision to do three things:

  1. Keep the article. It’s an excellent warning to young men in ministry.
  2. Change the title to reflect the real intent of the article itself. It’s now Men: Protect These 7 Women by Watching Yourself. I’ll explain the new title in a second.
  3. Write a follow-up, myself, on Young Women: 7 Men With Whom to Guard Your Interactions Carefully. It’ll be live sometime…

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Old Church

Photo by 55Laney69.

That’s a phrase you will only hear in the modern, western church – particularly in the United States. In first century Jerusalem, if you didn’t like the music, the Pastor, or the amount of perfume Sister Bertha wore, you had to stay and work it out. Where else would you go?

Disclaimer: What I’m about to say has nothing to do with people who are far from God. I’m writing it to people who claim to know Him well. Read on.

I’m not promoting the idea of having only one church in every community. I think God is blessing a movement of multiplying churches that are helping to fill the earth with the good news of Jesus. But the side effect of our multiplying efforts is applying of the same consumer mentality we use at the mall to the church.

When you plant a new church in a community with a lot of churches, like northwest Arkansas for example, you come into contact with people now and then who are “looking for something new” because of the problems they encountered at their old church. I’ve heard plenty, including…

Brandon PreachingThere are certain elements that must be included in every single sermon that we ever preach. They are non-negotiable. To put it another way, every sermon you preach has three key components…

The God Component

The “God component” is what sets preaching apart from other kinds of public speaking. We are God’s spokespeople. We preach His word, not ours. And as we consider the role of God in the sermon, we have to ask some pretty pertinent questions:

  • Have I recognized that God is the ultimate authority on the meaning of His word?
  • Have I consulted with the Author of the word in prayer?
  • Have I trusted the results of my preaching to the Spirit who moves among his people?
  • Have I made Jesus the central character of the sermon?

The Communicator Component

The component has to do with me, the preacher. I need to ask certain important questions about my own role in the preaching experience:

  • Have I live and embodied the word in my life? That is to say, have I been the incarnation of the message I hope to convey on Sunday morning?
  • Can I honestly say I’ve spent adequate time in preparation, so that…

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Some churches raise the bar when it comes to recruiting small group leaders. You need to be a member for X amount of time, well versed in the church’s doctrinal statement, agree to a lifestyle covenant, etc. The more qualified the leader, the stronger the group will be… or so goes conventional wisdom. But is that really true?

My friend Ron Wilbur, one of Saddleback’s Small Groups Pastors, once told me I’d probably make a terrible small group leader. It wasn’t that he was trying to discourage me. Ron taught me something valuable when he said, “your tendency will be to teach and answer all the questions, and you’ll kill the discussion and short-circuit the relationship-building process.” Now that I lead a small group in my home, I have to agree with Ron. If I’m not careful and intentional, I’ll be the bottleneck that holds my group back from being a healthy micro-community.

So if we’re not looking for long term members and Bible scholars, who makes the best group hosts? Most commonly, new believers in Christ, but I would expand that criteria to include anyone with these key characteristics.

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Share Your Faith AppNew social technologies have enabled people to share their faith at unprecedented rates, which makes this a great time in which to pass along tools and resources to the people in the pews to help them along. One such great tool is the How to Share Your Faith app. It’s free, and it’s available on a variety of platforms.

Check out the demo video:

Read More About the App

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@PastorsBecause a special friend in ministry looked out for us, we’ve received the special gift of a new Twitter username – @pastors. We promote three different accounts on pastors.com:

  • @RickWarren – updates from Pastor Rick Warren – operated solely and exclusively by Pastor Rick.
  • @Pastors – updates from pastors.com and conversation – operated by Brandon Cox (@brandonacox), Editor and Community Facilitator.
  • @RWToolbox – updates and archives from pastors.com and other sources – operated by a few secret agents.

So give us a follow, a shout-out, and let us know how we can help you!

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