Archives For Brandon Cox

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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Different Kind of TribeTraditional small group ministry might seem like a leap ahead of the lecture-based classroom in terms of relationship-building, but the rate of change in our surrounding culture still far outpaces the rate of change within the church. Small group ministry is changing. Again. And Rick Howerton, one of the few guys I read religiously concerning group life has written an excellent guide for embracing this change in his new book, A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic.

In a traditional small group environment, small groups are a new way of organizing the church, assimilating people into the church, and expanding in number outwardly. But Rick challenges our traditional approach, and even our terminology, choosing to term groups “Christian micro-communities.” It’s not that they are entirely Christian – in fact, genuine Christian micro-communities do and should include people still far from God. Though Rick doesn’t use this phrase in the book, I think he echoes what has been weighing on my heart lately – how to include people and help them to belong to a community, even…

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Starting a MinistryOne of the challenges of church planting is staying lean. I became a Pastor under a programmatic mindset – offer enough things and more people will come. Thankfully, I came across a good book long ago that helped to shift my thinking. Instead of a list of programs to attract people, what we really need is a simple process for growing people.

Programs can easily become dead weight and create the drudgery of having to “find volunteers” to staff them. But processes scale with growth naturally. Nonetheless, there will still be times to determine how to best reach out to a new group of people – students, seniors, divorcees, etc. How do you know when it’s time to pull the trigger on launching a new ministry? I have two criteria…

1. There is enough supply.

That is, there is someone, or a group of people, ready to lead it. They may be people whom you’ve raised up, or they may be people who have shown up, but they have the spiritual gifts, heart, ability, personality, and experiences necessary to pull it off. And most importantly, they have the “want to.”

2. There…

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Deep and WideA little over a year ago, Angie and I started planting Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas, and one of our biggest hopes is that it’s a church that unchurched people love to attend. So Andy Stanley’s newest book, Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend caught my attention. I pre-ordered it and devoured it once it arrived. I found the book to be both deep… and wide.

Andy opens with the deeply personal side of how North Point Ministries came into existence – the whole story including his experience at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, his parents’ high-profile divorce, and a church split. But don’t buy this book just to be “in the know” about such things. Instead, buy it because of all that follows – tremendous wisdom from one of this generation’s great church leaders.

I jotted a few notes down to share with my own leadership team, such as…

Andy Stanley’s announcement at the organization of North Point:

“Atlanta doesn’t need another church. Atlanta needs a different kind of church. Atlanta needs a church where church people are comfortable bringing their…

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Not in a flood.

Not in an earthquake.

Not in a wave of tornadoes or a political coups.

But from hunger.

Hunger. It’s that feeling that gnaws at our bellies in the morning because we haven’t had our cheerios yet. But for millions, hunger is a lifestyle with no hope. Today is World Food Day. It’s a good day to become aware of some things…

World-Food-Day-Child-Hunger
Via Save1.

And once you know, it’s time to do something. I leave it to your own conscience and God’s leading as to what your next step is, but here are four possibilities:

  • Pray for compassionate caregivers to be able to feed more hungry people.
  • Investigate what Save1 does. They’re for-profit, but they support nonprofit organizations in a way that uses business smarts for good.
  • Feed hungry people through great organizations like Samaritans PurseCompassion International, and World Vision (our family sponsors a little girl named Nana through World Vision).
  • Post the above infographic on your own blog today. Here’s the source link.
Now, go.

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Old PewsEverybody worships. Not everyone believes in God, or in gods, or in the God of the Bible, but everyone worships. Everybody ascribes worth to something, which is one of the basic definitions of worship.

My favorite book about worship, outside the Bible, is Warren Wiersbe’s Real Worship: Playground, Battleground, or Holy Ground?. Wiersbe offers this concise definition of worship…

Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are—mind, emotions, will, and body—to what God is and says and does. This response has its mystical side in subjective experience and its practical side in objective obedience to God’s revealed will. Worship is a loving response that’s balanced by the fear of the Lord, and it is a deepening response as the believer comes to know God better.

As my favorite Worship Pastor on the planet likes to say, “worship is both revelation and response.” It’s tuning in to listen to a holy God, and it’s responding to what I hear and see. Genuine worship results in a net increase in my personal awe of God and ultimately changes my life in…

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Ten CommandmentsI’m a messed up human being. I don’t mean that I’m particularly deranged – just that I was born broken and have reached the plateau of adulthood carrying some flaws with me. The biggest flaw? I believe lies… sometimes.

Here’s a law of life that can’t be avoided or broken… The way I think determines what I believe, which determines how I act, which creates my path and all of its rewards and consequences. Ultimately, life’s trajectory is a result of my beliefs.

When I mess up and sin, it’s always because I’ve believed a lie. I’ll give you some examples…

  • I’ll just do this once.
  • Nobody knows… or cares.
  • Everybody does this.
  • This is just who I am.
  • I’ve gone too far and there is no turning back now.
  • No one could ever really love me.

Any of those ring a bell? Whether whispers from the enemy, or sad chants we’ve accidentally learned to repeat, they are destructive. So today, and tomorrow, and every day thereafter, I need to start my day by ingesting truth. I believe that the only source of absolute truth is in the Bible, the Word of God. So I use

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It's Personal by the Bloye'sAccording to Brian and Amy Bloye, the two toughest jobs in the world are raising kids, and raising a church. And both tasks are deeply personal.

I’m a better church planter for having read It’s Personal. It’s now one of the books I’ll be pushing at every potential church planter. Why? Several reasons.

  • Calling is key, and while many books talk about church planting models and methods, few focus on the foundation, which is what matters when the going gets tough. They Bloyes make it plain. If you’re not called, do anything else.
  • Family is first. Brian and Amy share the real story of how they’ve had to fight to keep family first by establishing healthy boundaries and limits.
  • Friends are essential, and Brian and Amy give permission for the planter to have friends. One of the leading causes of the abandonment of a fledgling plant is the emotional toil the isolation often takes on a planting family. Friends aren’t optional.
  • Staff unity matters. As a lead planter, Brian helps others to understand the need to get “mean” about the vision and to tenaciously guard that vision…

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LidsAlways in the back of my mind is this thought, “Don’t be the factor holding back the growth of Grace Hills Church.” I believe in John Maxwell’s Law of the Lid. So if my leadership is sub-par, and I’m supposed to be at the head of the pack, where does that leave other leaders for whom I am responsible?

I need to be keenly aware of my blindspots, which means allowing other leaders, especially my wife, to look and speak into my life. I have some leadership flaws I’m working on right now, but at the top of the list is my slowness in delegating authority and responsibility to others. Here are some harsh realities about the inability to delegate that I’m trying to embrace today:

  • If I don’t delegate, I’ve snapped a lid on the growth of my organization. We’re done.
  • If I don’t delegate, it could signal a subtle arrogance in me that believes no one else could do as well as me with a responsibility.
  • If I don’t delegate, I rob someone of the pleasure and reward of serving and leading.
  • If I delegate tasks alone, and not authority, I’m…

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ServingWe called ours We Love NWA because that’s how people refer to our community. Whatever you call it, we’re glad we took a weekend away from having a worship service in our theater to serve our neighbors. We’re not the first, by any means to have a weekend to “be” the church instead of “doing” church. Other churches have cancelled their regular weekend worship time to go serve in various capacities. But why?

As we geared up for our big weekend, contacted local charitable organizations, and signed up volunteers, we kept the conversation going among our leadership about why we were doing this to begin with. Ultimately, we decided the concept reflected the culture of our church very well, and would accomplish some big goals for us. Let me clarify first, however, the reasons we ruled out:

  • We will not do this simply to attract attention. Attention is valuable, but is never the big goal.
  • We will not do this to “get people to come to church.” It wasn’t about serving in hopes of the return favor of a visit.
  • We will not do this to “take a break” from worship. If this isn’t…

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