Archives For Books & Media

TeamsThatThriveHealthy conflict is the catalyst of extraordinary performance. If your church leadership team never has conflict, then something is wrong. Effective teams welcome healthy conflict – and they manage it in such a way that it actually aids the team.

Numerous studies overwhelmingly suggest that task conflict is good, whereas affective, or relationship, conflict is bad. In other words, team members should challenge each other’s ideas, interrogate one another’s beliefs and values, and willingly offer different perspectives while refraining from attacking others in the process, or making snide, sarcastic comments in the process.

Based on our recent study of nearly 150 church leadership teams, we encourage you to cultivate the kind of conflict that fuels great team performances. We found that thriving teams engaged in challenging dialogue. They also cultivated (rather than squashed) healthy conflict significantly more than under-performing teams.

To spur healthy “task conflict” on your team, we suggest that you and your teammates:

  1. Vigorously solicit critiques of plans, decisions and assumptions guiding decision making.
  2. Model respectful, assertive, thoughtful and honest critiques of ministry ideas and plans, and invite others to do the same of your own ideas and plans.
  3. Celebrate group members who say the…

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practical shepherdingWhether moving into a solo pastor situation immediately following seminary studies or other preparation, or transitioning into a senior pastor position after serving on staff, many pastors have the experience of seeing their own initial sense of confidence evaporate before the demands, sometimes unexpected, of every day pastoral ministry. While some will blame inadequacies in their seminary preparation, to be fair, it is likely not possible for some things to be learned prior to being thrust into actual ministry experience. Nonetheless, those wanting to develop important ministry skills, or those wishing to improve them, can use mentors, whether personal or literary, in those early days of ministry.

The Practical Shepherding series, published by Zondervan and edited by Brian Croft, Senior Pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, seeks to help fill this need. Projected ultimately as seven slim books, most of which will be published later this year, the series begins publication with two short works that will benefit pastors in the early days of ministry, as well as their more experienced colleagues looking for either a refresher or a different perspective on ministry concerns.

Comfort the Grieving: Ministering…

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Dirt Matters, Jim PowellA few years ago a local church sought my advice in reversing their decline in attendance. As our conversation unfolded, I noticed all of their questions were programmatic ones—What kind of music does your church play? What do you wear on Sundays? How do you present announcements? Do you serve coffee and donuts?

All this church seemed to be looking for was the right superficial tweak or change in methodology that would attract people. They wanted a silver bullet…and there is no silver bullet

While methods can make a difference in contextualizing the Gospel for this generation, programmatic changes alone are not going to turn a church around and move it forward. When a church is in decline, the problem has a much deeper root. So, I told that church what I’m about to tell you…what really needs to be addressed is not a program, a method, or a ministry, but the church’s culture.

Culture is the somewhat nebulous and complex blend of norms, beliefs, attitudes, traditions, and practices that define a congregation. Every church has a culture, and though it can be tough to grasp, it has a tremendous…

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Building Strong Worship Leaders

One of the greatest needs of the church today is gifted, godly worship leaders who will not only pour themselves into the weekly corporate gathering but who will, behind the scenes and off the stage, pour their very lives into discipling and training a whole new generation of worship leaders. That’s why I’m so excited about the work of Dwayne Moore and the Asaph Generation. Worship leaders from various backgrounds are coming together to see a generation of people giving authentic praise to God as never before.

From Nehemiah to the apostolic era, from the Renaissance to Azusa Street, great movements of God have always been fueled by heartfelt repentance and passionate worship. When God’s name is glorified, great things begin to happen. Please read this book slowly. Soak in its wisdom. Hear and heed the call, first to be a worshipper, but also to determine how you can invest your life into seeing God’s name magnified and glorified in our culture.

– From the Foreword, by Brandon Cox

Grab your free copy here!

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Skinny jeans and a tattoo does not make you a leader!” – Christine Caine from Catalyst ’14

As a member of INJOY Stewardship Solutions, I have the privilege of attending some of the greatest Christian conferences possible. During the second half of 2014, several events among others stood out.

Therefore, I am proud to announce my latest Ebook  Skinny Jeans And A Tattoo Does Not Make You A Leader And 999 More Leadership Quotes: Wise Words & Timeless Truths From The 2014 Double, Global Leadership Summit and Catalyst Conferences (and more) is FREE with a subscription to this website.

Here are just some of the events you will learn from:

  • Double ’14 took place at NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. Put on by the NewSpring staff, this amazing event was designed to help churches double in attendance.
  • Global Leadership Summit is the Willow Creek Association’s annual convergence of Christian and business leaders.
  • Catalyst ‘14 had a different feel this year. The content was much more geared to Next Generation Christian leaders. An extra day of Lab sessions are included in the content.

These and other events featured many incredible…

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Finding Your Way Back to GodIt’s now been 25 years since my wife and I along with my brother Jon and three friends from college started Community Christian Church. During that time I’ve had the privilege of journeying with thousands of people who describe their experience as “finding their way back to God.” Over the years we began to notice that certain events seemed to happen over and over again to almost everyone as they came to faith. We never took the time to label those events, but we would notice similarities in people’s spiritual journeys.

It wasn’t until Jon and I started working on our newest book, Finding Your Way Back To God did we try to identify these similar spiritual events. We chose a select and diverse group of 25 people and did in depth interviews with them. We listened closely to each of their stories and studied their individual experiences. In time, we were able to name the parallel events that everyone experienced on their journey to God. We call them the “5 Awakenings.”

At the same time, our study of scripture led us to the story of the prodigal…

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StuckIf you have a broken relationship, I hope today’s post encourages you.

I was certain that God was leading me to start a different kind of church across town. My pastor was certain that God would never lead me to do such a thing. I was devastated that he wouldn’t support me. He was devastated that I would risk hurting the church he pastored. After serving together for 12 years and despite being best friends, our relationship completely severed and we wouldn’t talk to one another for years to come.

Years later we reconciled and I interviewed my “friend again”. (I ask the questions and he provides the answers.) I shared some more of this story in my new book STUCK When You Want to Forgive but Don’t Know How.

Warning: Reconciliation may not be appropriate for you if your offender is abusive and reconciling would cause further injury, if your offender does not want to reconcile, or if your offender is unrepentant. It only takes one person to forgive, but it takes two people to reconcile.

I was not only your Associate Pastor for twelve years, but we were pretty close friends weren’t we?

“We…

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Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora.

Research has found that the proportion of young people who are daily readers drops has dropped dramatically in recent years. According to some studies, since 1984, the percentage of 13-year-olds who are weekly readers dropped from 70% to 53%. Even worse, the percentage of 17-year-olds who are weekly readers fell from 64% to a startling 40%. It’s jarring news.  Therefore, I’m sharing my list of reading recommendations.  Here are a few titles that had an impact on my life and that every African-American should read.

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The Mis-Education of the Negro – Carter G. Woodson, Ph.D.

The thesis of Dr. Woodson’s book is that African-Americans of his day were being culturally indoctrinated, rather than taught, in American schools.  This conditioning, he claims, causes African-Americans to become dependent and to seek out inferior places in the greater society of which they are a part. He challenges his readers to become autodidacts and to “do for…

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At some level, all Christians want their churches to be influential in carrying out the work of God. One pathway to increased influence is a road we often overlook – the one behind us.

Looking back can be good. It can give us wisdom and perspective. It can also help us look forward to what God is doing next in your churches and ours.

This helpful book looks back at ten historic spiritual shifts of the last century and identifies a church closest to the center of each one. You may not have heard of these pioneering churches and their leaders, but we suspect you have been influenced by them far more than you realize. And we strongly suspect that after reading each of their stories, you’ll be glad you did – and you’ll have a better perspective on your own church and how God is at work in and around it.

It is hard to imagine anyone more qualified to identify and describe these trends and the personalities behind them than our friend, mentor, co-author and fellow researcher Elmer Towns. Starting in the 1960s he became the nation’s leading figure in…

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Reference works that provide information about the geography and archeological findings related to the New Testament often do not adequately relate that material to the life of Jesus in an orderly and readable manner that brings the gospel material to life. Jesus, a Visual History seeks to fill that gap, and the work has virtues that will be appreciated by many readers, though deficiencies in the work may cause many to look for other resources.

The narrative of the book is focused around a harmonization of the gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. While a typical harmony of the gospels would be more lengthy and address critical issues at length, this work provides a more cursory overview while augmenting the telling of the gospel story with a vast array of photographs, pictures, maps, charts, and explanations of archaeological findings and brief histories of areas that Jesus visited. The most compelling chapters of the book, which form a parenthesis interrupting the overview of the life of Jesus, provide a history and travel guide to Jerusalem and the temple mount, covering timeframes going back to King David through the intertestamental…

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These two volumes advocate the views of the Christian Counseling Coalition, which sets out to “help us regain our confidence in God’s Word as sufficient to address the real life issues that we face today.” Mr. Kellemen, who authored Gospel-Centered Counseling and is the editor of Scripture and Counseling, is the Executive Director of that organization.

Mr. Kellemen, as well as the other authors represented here, is concerned that the church has unwisely turned over the care of souls to professionals outside the church. They contend that this capitulation to the philosophies and methodologies of modern psychology has at its root a lack of confidence in the sufficiency of scripture to provide what is necessary for life and godliness. While it is not denied that secular psychology produces research and ideas that can be valuable to the church, it is argued that it is important to recognize that many of the approaches developed by modern psychology rest on assumptions that contradict Christian teaching. As a result, while Christian counselors almost always claim to be integrating psychological insights with biblical Christianity, one often finds inundation rather than integration. With many well-meaning…

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Commentary SetPreaching pastors and Bible students should be thrilled with this update of what already was an exceptional Bible reference resource. Now a five volume work (with the last volume supplying a number of helpful indices), Zondervan and revision editor Moises Silva have produced in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE) what could become a go to reference resource for any pastor preparing to preach or teach from a New Testament text. While this is a solid academic work, the updated organization of the materials makes this a most useful work for the pastor’s study.

Indeed, while pastors will look to NIDNTTE primarily for New Testament exegesis, much use could be made of it for preaching from the Old Testament, as well. In providing careful studies of New Testament Greek words, the work covers the use of the same terms in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament produced in the second century B.C.). Thus, the scripture index takes just over 100 pages to list references in this work to the Old Testament.

Originally published in German, this work first appeared in English in…

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