Archives For Missions

Pastor, you’re surrounded by dirt.

To be more precise, you’re surrounded by soil – all kinds of soil. In your community, you have people who are ready to respond to the Gospel and people who aren’t. Your job is to isolate the good soil and plant your seed there.

Jesus clearly taught this notion of spiritual receptivity in the Parable of the Sower and the Soils (Matt. 13:3-23). Like different kinds of soil, people respond differently to the Good News. Everyone is not equally ready to receive Christ. Some people are very open to hearing the Gospel and others are very closed. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained that there are hard hearts, shallow hearts, distracted hearts, and receptive hearts.

If you want your ministry to maximize its evangelism effectiveness, you need to focus your energy on the right soil. That’s the soil that will produce a hundred-fold harvest. Take a cue from those who work with actual dirt. No farmer in his right mind would waste seed, a precious commodity, on infertile ground that won’t produce a crop. In the same way, I believe…

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From 1795 to 1810 the Baptists and the Methodists planted 3,000 churches in 15 years on the western frontier: Kentucky and Tennessee. But today, Methodists and Baptists are declining.

Methodists and Baptists—now in many different denominations—are seeking to recapture that passion. Of the denominations in decline, the ones that have a chance at growth will embrace a church planting focus.

Even mainline denominations are asking how to engage in church planting.

Many from mainline denominations get frustrated when they see the urgency with which evangelicals try to reach people. They’ll lose this frustration when they realize those are the people who plant churches.

How will mainline denominations need to go about this kind of change? Some haven’t planted churches in a while. They’ll have to relearn a part of their own history. They’ll also need to look into other traditions, denominations, movements, and networks to see what else is being done in this area.

I was recently with some mainline denominational leaders and was asked how they might accelerate their church planting focus.

How Mainline Denominations Accelerate Church Planting

If you are a part of a mainline church and recognize this need for change, first I would say,…

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When you look back in life you realize that there are some moments that literally changed your trajectory. The birth of a child; your wedding; Steve Bartman interrupting the 2003 Cubs playoff game, etc.

One of those moments for me was a text I received inviting me and Denise to join Rick Warren and their team on a journey to Rwanda. It was short notice and not great timing, but it felt like a God idea.


I’ve written about the journey and the incredible experience of being in Rwanda. (Rwanderful and Where Did $500 Billion Go?)

We have worked in Kenya for many years and been there several times. So we thought we had an idea of what to expect in Africa. Especially in a country only 20 years removed from a national genocide that eliminated 10% of the population.

What we found was a country that was unified, beautiful, orderly, and only a few months away from being the first orphanage-free country in the world. A country where the top members of every major denomination and church organization not only worked together…

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Screenshot 2015-10-08 21.13.53If you’re exploring the world of church planting, you’ve probably realized calling is a big deal. Because church planting is difficult, it’s important to know that the God of the universe has called you to do it.

But calling can be a tricky business, can’t it?

I was in my dorm room the first time I sensed a call to reach lost people, but it was 1:30 in the morning, so I didn’t think much about it. Besides, the only form of ministry I’d ever seen involved dingy fellowship halls and out of touch sermons – not a very compelling picture to a nineteen year old college football player.

Fast-forward a few years, after a summer workout, a thought hit me that coaching football was a great way to marry by burden for the lost with something that involved more Dri-FIT than flannelgraph. However, two years into my dream coaching job, all I wanted to do was listen to sermons and read blogs about church planting. I couldn’t shake the sense that I was created to do something else. I found myself caring more about our team chapel service than the conference…

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One of the things we continually emphasize at Saddleback is that the Church is God’s instrument for ministry here on Earth, and that makes it the greatest force on the face of the Earth.

The Church has survived persistent abuse, horrifying persecution, and widespread neglect. Yet despite its faults (due to our sinfulness), it is still God’s chosen instrument of blessing and has been for 2,000 years.

As Rick Warren thought through our missions strategy, The PEACE Plan, he noted the Church has eight distinct advantages over the efforts of business and government to help those in need:

1. The Church provides for the largest participation.

Most people have no idea how many Christians there are in the world: More than 2 billion people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. That’s one third of the world’s population! The Church has about a billion more people than the entire nation of China.

For example, about 100 million people in the United States went to church this past weekend. That’s more people than will attend sporting events in the U.S. throughout this year. The Church is the largest force for good in the world. Nothing else even comes…

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God has given every believer, in every one of our churches, a mission – to go into the world and share the Good News about Jesus. Why? Why should we care enough about the people around us to tell them about how to get to Heaven? This can be a difficult concept to teach our congregations. How do we motivate them to take the Good News and share it with others? Here is something that might help.

The Bible – in 2 Corinthians 5:14 – says: “For the love of Christ compels us.” Our love for Jesus motivates us to fulfill our mission.

Everybody matters to God. God has never made a person that he didn’t love. God made some people that I don’t love, and God has made a lot of people that I don’t even like.

But God loves them. The most despicable person you can imagine is still loved by God. And because God cares, we must care.

I once watched a televised interview with Jane Roe – of the famous Roe-v-Wade abortion case. During the interview, she shared that she had become a believer in Jesus Christ. As she told her story, you could hear how her heart had been softened and she’d…

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Most church planters who have kids ask the question at some point, is church planting really the best for my kids?

I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience, the answer is yes. Here’s why it matters: because answering that question with a yes could mean that you plant the church you’re thinking about. Even more, it could be the best thing for your children.

Now God could raise up a church planter from a stone if he wanted, so he doesn’t need you to do it. But he designed us to pass on our faith to the next generation through church planting, among other ways.

My father and I talk about how God redeemed our family a little bit in Dedicated: Training Your Children to Trust and Follow Jesus, but I wanted to share something here that I’ve never written on—the lessons I learned specifically as a church planter’s son.

My parents answered the question, is it best for my children? Yes. In fact, one of the major reasons my parents wanted to plant a church was because they thought it was best for us. They thought, given our circumstance, it…

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Our culture is changing. Things that were common only 20 years ago are becoming impossible. Things that were rare 20 years ago are becoming common place. Disaster seems to strike nearly every day somewhere in America or in the world.

Our world is changing and it’s not becoming more like Christ.

I do, though, believe that there’s hope.

There’s always hope with Jesus.

A big part of that hope is the Church. The Church is still God’s plan to reach humanity. However, as the Church, we stand at a crossroads of opportunity. One way takes us down the same path some of the church has been down for quite some time. That path says, “Look at us and see us. We’ll impress you into believing like us.” That path worked in the past and still works to some degree. However, there’s another path of opportunity. It’s the path that seems to give the Church and those outside of the Church real hope. It’s the path that sheds new light on what really makes Christianity special. There are some real advantages to the Gospel message and those trying to get it out.

Here are 4 advantages the Church has…

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Leaders are always defined by self-imposed standards. I’m not talking about standards set by other people, but standards they set for themselves. Great leaders always expect more from themselves than they do from their followers. They put forth more effort as well. That’s leadership.

If you were to look through the New Testament for the phrase “make every effort,” you’d find it six times. They represent six important vows we need to make as leaders. I believe these six vows will lead to an effective and productive ministry.

1) Vow to maintain integrity

“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. No one is perfect. To be spotless and blameless means to live with integrity. How do you maintain integrity if you’re not perfect? You need to be transparent. A person of integrity is not claiming to have it all together in every area. On the contrary, the person of integrity is willing to be open about their strengths and weaknesses.

Having integrity also means living what you say you believe. You model what you teach. And you tell the truth,…

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Life on MissionThe front page of USA Today read, “Protestants lose majority status in the U.S.” It just happened to catch my eye as I walked past a newsstand. I thought to myself, “Okay, but what could have taken its place? Catholicism is dying – is this about Mormonism?”

The article explained that Protestant numbers are down from 53% in 2007 to 48% today.  But these Protestants didn’t switch to a new religious brand. They just let go of any faith affiliation or label. According to the Pew Forum, one in five Americans now claims no religious identity. None. That means there are now more “nones” in the U.S. than any other protestant denomination.

Warren Bird from Leadership Network concludes that: “More than 1 out of every 3 adults (33%) in America is unchurched. This means they haven’t attended a religious service of any type during the past year. This represents some 125 million Americans. That number alone would be the 10th largest country in the world!” (September 9, 2012,

Does that mean the U.S. is now a mission field? I think the more appropriate question is WHEN WAS IT NOT?

In Acts 1, Jesus charged the first disciples with the responsibility of…

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“The New Testament is the only model we need!” There, I went ahead and said that for you. It’s out of the way. For those pastors and church leaders who highly value the New Testament AND actually want to accomplish something meaningful, read on…

Every church follows a model. Most of the church leaders who criticize following a model follow a model that tends to criticize models. Follow that? There are traditional models with an age-graded Sunday School, a morning worship service, evening worship service, and a midweek prayer meeting, plus some other programs. W. A. Criswell (one of my biggest heroes) was a pioneer in this model in the 1940’s. Back then, grading ministries by age was innovative.

Other churches follow the “simple church” model. They have weekend worship, small groups, and that’s about it. The ministry and mission is carried out by the groups and the individuals in them. It works well for those who do it right. There are also house churches, and still a few quarter-time churches that only have a Pastor once per month. There’s the Amish and Mennonite model – very community-centric. You get the picture.


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Gaining by LosingPeople are leaving the church J.D. Greear pastors. Big givers. Key volunteers. Some of his best leaders and friends. And that’s exactly how he wants it to be.

When Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission, he revealed that the key for reaching the world with the gospel is found in sending, not gathering. Though many churches focus time and energy on attracting people and counting numbers, the real mission of the church isn’t how many people you can gather. It’s about training up disciples and then sending them out. The true measure of success for a church should be its sending capacity, not its seating capacity.

But there is a cost to this. To see ministry multiply, we must release the seeds God has placed in our hands. And to do that, we must ask ourselves whether we are concerned more with building our kingdom or God’s.

In Gaining By Losing, J.D. Greear unpacks ten plumb lines that you can use to reorient your church’s priorities around God’s mission to reach a lost world. The good news is that you don’t need to choose between gathering or sending. Effective churches…

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