Archives For Brandon Cox

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!


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At precisely 11:31 am, I glanced at the traffic stats for 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

  • @RickWarren – updates from Pastor Rick Warren – operated solely and exclusively by Pastor Rick.
  • @Pastors – updates from and conversation – operated by Brandon Cox (@brandonacox), Editor and Community Facilitator.
  • @RWToolbox – updates and archives from 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…

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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