Archives For Brandon Cox

MinistryHere it is:

Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.

– Warren Wiersbe, On Being a Servant of God

According to Warren Wiersbe, one of America’s long-term leading thinkers on ministry issues, this definition consists of four vital parts. Our church staff just walked through his definition of ministry this morning, which includes…

  1. Getting to know the divine resources God has made available,
  2. Compassionately seeing the real needs of people,
  3. Being a willing channel of God’s resources to people in need, so that
  4. God alone is ultimately glorified.

And Wiersbe also points out a prime scriptural example of this definition in action:

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon. Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. Then…

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FishingJesus stopped a few fishermen one day in the Sea of Galilee and challenged them to turn the world upside down by issuing a simple call… “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19, NIV)

Many have taught about how the disciples left their careers behind to follow Jesus into full-time ministry that day, but they forget the other instances of the disciples fishing for fish later in the gospels. It wasn’t a career change or the sacrifice of a job to which Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John that day. He called them to fish for people, and to make people a superior priority to fish.

One of the mistakes we make in modern ministry leadership is to see people who walk through the doors of our churches on Sunday mornings as potential helpers, come to assist us in the fulfillment of our mission. If we’re not careful, we begin to assess the usefulness of people based on their appearance, their talent, or their apparent zeal and commitment to spending time doing churchy things.

What if instead of seeing people as a means to accomplishing…

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I’m currently reading Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church by Mark DeYmaz. It’s one of several books I’ve read on the subject because it’s a big area of concern for me as a Pastor who is planting a church in a community that is diversifying much more quickly than the churches within it.

But I hope the multi-ethnic conversation among church leaders is short-lived. Why? Because we tend not to spend a lot of time talking about things we have figured out. You don’t hear church leaders saying things like, “We need people to be givers, so let’s encourage more churches to take offerings,” or “Ya know, we just need more fellowship time – let’s encourage churches to have potlucks.” We’re done with those conversations, at least for now.

My prayer is that planting and leading churches that are ethnically representative of the diversity in their surrounding communities will become so normal and commonplace that we don’t have to talk about a strategy for getting it done anymore. But in the meantime… we need to talk about getting it done. If your church leadership hasn’t had a conversation about this, it’s time.

It’s time to evaluate by asking the…

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Ever watched a really good idea crash and burn? Me too.

Here’s some brutal honesty… entire movements have gone down in flames because of boneheaded approaches to good ideas. This isn’t to say we can’t afford to make mistakes. In fact, the only way to know we’re taking risks is to make mistakes. We can’t afford not to make them. But we also can’t afford to ignore timeless principles of leadership effectiveness.

In honor of our most fatal leadership mistakes, here are my “from the hip” ways to kill great ideas (warning: sarcasm ahead)…

  • Form a committee. In this way, you’ll be able to devote more time to keeping minutes and electing officers and less time to solving problems. Also, we’ll be able to prevent a single great leader from running with the idea without feeling the need to check with several people with different opinions before proceeding.
  • Be sure to control it. Before you even start executing a good idea, be sure to write plenty of rules and parameters so that no one feels the freedom to run too fast with it. Freedom is the enemy when we’re trying…

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Ninety and Nine

Being loud doesn’t make you a leader. Neither does being popular. Leadership is influence, and influence means taking people in a direction they wouldn’t otherwise be going – hopefully forward. Ambition isn’t enough to qualify you to lead. There is more to the equation.

You need to be led before you can really lead. This one is tough for eager leaders, but in order to lead well, you must first be okay with being led. One of the greatest leaders I know who was in charge of 350+ staff in a well-known megachurch said, “I’m a man under authority.” If you don’t know what it’s like to follow or if you’re unwilling to learn from those ahead of you, you’re not quite ready to lead.

You need to love people before you can really lead. You can lead and love self, but the end result is pretty pitiful. Great leaders love those they are leading. Good shepherds have a tendency to lay down their lives for their sheep, and great leaders are always thinking about how to move their followers to the next level.

You need to become a servant…

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At the Movies 2012Summer tends to be a time when churches slow down and brace for the “summer slump.” But some churches press forward and capitalize on the “down time” by doing things out of the ordinary and experiencing growth on multiple levels. One of the more popular ideas in recent years is preaching a series of messages based on the themes of current films at the box office.

If you’re preaching a series in this strain, please take a moment to comment below and tell us…

  • What’s your approach?
  • What movies will you address?
  • How do you make sure the message is biblically-based?

Feel free to include links to your series on your church webpage or your blog. We’ll put together a follow-up article including the best ideas!

Also, here’s a free resource from Open from their At the Movies 2012.

Now… go!

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The Abiding Church

Nate Sweeney has walked through a plethora of leadership issues in his young life, transitioning a church from its long-standing traditions into a church that communicates the gospel clearly to a new generation, with a new name, a new leadership structure, and a new style of ministry. Though he understands how to relate to the culture, Nate’s heart is really for the church to do what it was always intended to do – abide in Jesus. 

In The Abiding Church, Nate offers encouragement, a challenge, and some practical wisdom for church leaders who need a fresh fire in their bones. He balances the idea of growth with the idea of intimacy with Jesus. Healthy churches grow, but healthy churches are more than just smarter or bigger – they’re more committed to the gospel and keep Christ at the center of their attention.

In Nate’s words to church leaders…

At the end of your life you will look back and realize you did a lot of things for God. You had good days and bad. You had victories and failures. You obeyed His word and sinned against Him. All of this should be…

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Storm Trooper WorldSometimes someone comes to Grace Hills from a larger church because they’re “looking for something smaller.” My reply is always the same. “You’re welcome here, but I hope we let you down.” It’s not that we’ve set out to be a “big” church or a megachurch. But we also haven’t set out on this journey merely to settle at any given point. Therefore…

We will attempt big things for a big God. We will go “all in,” choosing to take risks in faith over playing it safe.

That’s our second of ten core values at Grace Hills, and it’s something we have to remind ourselves of often. It’s easy to give into our autopilot and merely coast along on yesterday’s success stories, but we want to think bigger.

Anytime we talk about the need for churches to grow larger, people come along quickly with objections.

  • You don’t have to be big to matter to God…
  • Large doesn’t mean healthy…
  • People are more than numbers…
  • We should be multiplying instead of adding…

All of these responses are true when properly understood, but none of them become an excuse for settling while more people die without Jesus. The…

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Home RunToday marks the release of the movie, Home Run, the touching tale of a baseball player who has seen success on the diamond and failure in his personal life due to his difficult family experiences and his addiction to alcohol. We love the movie because of its message of hope and its open reference to Celebrate Recovery, a ministry born in the hearts of John Baker and Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. Celebrate Recovery becomes the mechanism of change in all-star player Cory Brand’s life.

Sean O’Connell, a reviewer with the secular publication, The Washington Post, gave the movie three out of four stars and challenges readers to give it a look. O’Connell observes, “What might have been a woeful by-the-numbers, come-from-behind story benefits from welcome doses of sentimentality and rustic flavor.” And further…

Before the athlete is forced to face the music for his destructive on-field actions, Brand’s savvy agent, Helene (Vivica A. Fox), comes up with a public relations solution. She enrolls her high-profile client in an off-the-beaten-path 12-step program in his home town near Tulsa, where he agrees to coach the underachieving Little League squad and…

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The BibleI want the church – your church and my church – to grow. I’m encouraged when I see the church effectively demonstrating the love of God and communicating the good news of Jesus to a culture with an ever-evolving language. I’m concerned when I see the church struggling to connect with people who are far from God. This concern is grounded both in my understanding of Jesus’ challenge to be fruitful and my conviction that millions are spiritually dead and hopeless until they trust in Jesus. But fruit-bearing is only half of the equation.

I do not have a green thumb. I’ve purchased a number of plants over the years and have managed to watch most of them die grueling deaths, mostly from dehydration. But I do have enough common sense to know how vital roots are to the life and vitality of any garden variety plant. And typically, the deeper the roots, the fresher the fruits. Jesus even used this as an illustration of the Christian life.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you…

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I’ve started to write this post quite a few times, and each time, I’ve deleted it. It’s hard to know what to say when someone you admire and love goes through something as tragic as what Rick and Kay Warren have endured the last few days. Their son, Matthew, ended his own life at the age of 27 after battling severe mental illness for many years. I have heard Rick speak of this behind closed office doors, asking for prayer and pouring his heart out concerning his love for his son and his trust in his God in spite of not understanding all the reasons why Matthew suffered so terribly.

I believe that Rick and Kay, their other two children, and all of their loved ones will battle an array of emotions for quite some time. But I also believe that the message of hope that Pastor Rick has shared for the last…

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