Archives For Missions

PeopleIt is a natural thing for Christians to want to be around other Christians. Something special happens in the fellowship of believers.

We can worship freely, study deeply, and communicate clearly. Hanging out with like-minded people who (appear to) “have their stuff together” can be a wonderful thing.

But how well are we engaging those who aren’t as spiritually stable as we (think we) are?

I’ve been fascinated by the fact that a lot of Christians don’t seem to like non-Christians—otherwise known as “the lost,” “the unchurched,” or whatever other term you may want to use. They want to keep away from the messy people– perhaps missing the obvious that we are messy as well.

Who Is on Your Friends List?

It is kind of interesting that after coming to Christ and growing in knowledge, we often end up distancing ourselves from some of our former friends. And then, as we begin to grow in spiritual maturity, we find that we have less and less time for the hurting and struggling.

We have found the one thing that meets the need in our lives, but we keep our distance from those who need the very thing we’ve…

Continue Reading

MillennialsIn my book Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and Churches that Reach Them, we focused on the generation often called “Millennials” today. The first part of the book dealt with the views of the unchurched. However, we didn’t just want to write a book about what was wrong. So, the last part of the book dealt with churches that were successfully reaching young adults.

My coauthors and I were very thankful to be named to Leadership Journal’s Golden Canon book awards, and many people said they were helped by the resource to have a reasoned (rather than sky-is-falling) look at the generation and it’s challenges.

I’m often asked to summarize some thoughts on the book, and did so in a recent conference call, which we’ve turned into an article here at the blog.

We identified characteristics of churches that were engaging young adults by reaching and keeping them as part of the church. Here are three significant ways in which churches can effectively reach and retain Millennials.

1. Be Contemporary and Culturally Engaged

The first clear pattern among churches that are reaching young adults…

Continue Reading

TargetWe’re seeing a lot of criticism recently of pastors, writers, speakers, filmmakers as well as others about how they share the Christian message with the outside culture. Some are criticized for making it too easy – they lead with the “grace” message, and are hesitant to talk about tough issues like sin, hell, or punishment. On the other side, those who preach a more serious message about tough subjects are labelled as “out of date,” “insensitive” and “hard core.” I know the debate well because over the years, I’ve had friends and clients on both sides of the argument. But here’s the problem: It’s the wrong argument, and here’s why:

Today we live in the most distracted culture in the history of the world. There’s more competition for people’s time and attention than ever. Which means that if you have an important message, your FIRST priority is to get that message heard.  I’ve said many times that no matter how great your message, if no one’s listening, you’ve failed. Getting a person to walk in the door of a church, turn on a radio or TV program, buy a book, or find…

Continue Reading

Nice ShoesIt’s no secret that millennials aren’t exactly flocking to churches these days. There are theories and statistics, but the fact remains the same: Our churches aren’t a place millennials tend to call home.

Instead of tackling the problem on a grand scale—instead of diving into theories and ideas as to the cause and the solution—I want to move in closer, to what millennials need from us in our churches today. While I’m not a millennial, and while this is not a comprehensive list, these thoughts are derived from some of the conversations I’ve had with millennials about this very topic.

1. A realism about the state of the world

I once heard someone say that churches have a tendency to put bandaids over bullet wounds, treating serious problems, hurts, and issues like they can be solved with a parable and a pat on the back.

Millennials aren’t so easily pacified.

Millennials, as a rule, tend to be activists—aware of the hurt in the world and passionate about solving it. One of the chief complaints I hear millennials give about churches is that they’re out of touch with the realities of the world and that they’re…

Continue Reading

ObstaclesHealthy people grow. Healthy animals grow. Healthy trees grow. Healthy plants grow. Healthy churches grow. Growth is a characteristic that God supernaturally breathed into all living things. And the body of Christ—the local church—is a living thing.

So, when a church is not growing, it is helpful to ask: “Why?”  If we understand the reason for a church’s lack of growth, it is easier to accurately diagnose the cause and to prescribe the cure.  Here are the five most common “growth-restricting obstacles”…

Growth-restricting obstacle #1: The Pastor.

There are three different causes if the pastor is inhibiting the growth of a church:

1. The pastor does not have a PRIORITY. Churches grow when they have a priority for reaching the unchurched. When the pastor doesn’t, the church won’t. (See Luke 19:10)

2. The pastor does not have a VISION. Growing churches have pastors who believe God wants to reach people in their community and assimilate them into the Body. No vision for outreach is as much a barrier as no priority.  (See Acts 16:9)

3. The pastor does not have the KNOWLEDGE. Working harder is not the secret to effective outreach. The secret is working smarter. Unfortunately, little is taught in most seminaries or Bible schools about how…

Continue Reading

David PlattDavid Platt was elected president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board today (Aug. 27) by board trustees, meeting at the IMB’s International Learning Center in Rockville, Va.

Platt, 36, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, a Southern Baptist congregation in Birmingham, Ala., will take office effective immediately as president of the 169-year-old organization, the largest denominational missionary-sending body among American evangelicals. More than 4,800 Southern Baptist international missionaries serve worldwide.

Platt succeeds former missionary, pastor and Southern Baptist Convention president Tom Elliff, 70, who has served as IMB president since March 2011. Elliff asked the agency’s trustees earlier this year to begin an active search for his successor. Elliff and his wife Jeannie plan to return to their home state, Oklahoma.

The author of the bestselling books “Radical” and “Follow Me,” among others, Platt has been pastor of The Church at Brook Hills, which counts about 4,500 members, since 2006. He also founded and leads Radical, a ministry that exists to serve the church in accomplishing the mission of Christ. Radical provides resources that support disciple-making in local churches worldwide, organizing events and facilitating opportunities through multiple avenues, all aimed at…

Continue Reading

Old ChurchIt is a sad reality today that many churches are simply not reaching many people for Christ.

No, it’s not all about numbers. Yes, fellowship and discipleship are important. But if we are trying to follow the great commission, why are we not doing more to try to reach more people?

Put simply, I believe it is because we have not created a culture of evangelism in our churches. Somewhere along the way, many churches have lost their evangelistic fervor.

If we want to create a culture of evangelism in our churches, I believe there are at least 5 things that we must do.

1. Model Evangelism Yourself

You cannot expect your people to do something that you yourself are not doing. It is as simple as that.

You can only lead people as far as you have gone yourself. If you are not actively seeking evangelistic opportunities, your people won’t either.

This should be a given, but I know this is something I need to get better at myself.

It is easy to get so consumed in the busy work of being a pastor that we neglect our own obligation to reach out to people who are…

Continue Reading

Mike Brown, an unarmed 18 year-old, black teenager was recently shot and killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

This is a sad, horrific, and an all too familiar ugly story.

DIFFERENT WORLDS

We don’t know all the details of what went down in Ferguson, but what we do know is that black evangelicals and white evangelicals interpret these types of situations very differently.

What if black and white evangelicals attended multi-ethnic churches instead of segregated ones?

If this Christ-exalting life were to become our reality, we could address racism, oppression, and injustice together.

What if black and white evangelicals and other evangelical ethnicities shared life with each other in a local church community and heard each other’s stories and walked in each other’s shoes?

If this Christ-exalting life were to become our reality, I believe our suspicions and mistrust of one another would be abandoned and replaced with love for one another.

A SEGREGATED CHURCH

Sadly, only 13.7% of Evangelical churches in America are multi-ethnic. And according to Drs. Michael Emerson and Gerardo Marti in their article, “The Rise of the Diversity Expert,” many multi-ethnic, local…

Continue Reading

Greg Laurie Harvest AmericaI am passionate about telling people about Jesus Christ. I want to do it in a way that isn’t religious and strange. I want to do it in a way that is friendly, that is understandable, and that is culturally relevant. But yet I don’t, in any way, want to compromise that biblical message—that story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and how He can change lives.

Every year we hold events called Harvest America, which from beginning to end are designed to bring the gospel in an understandable way to the person who has never heard it before. It is not like a church service in that it is geared toward a nonbeliever, from the music we choose to the message I share. Every aspect is designed to make the gospel of Jesus Christ understandable. I want people to make an intelligent decision about Jesus Christ based on the facts.

I want to tell them what Jesus said, what He promised, and how to come into a relationship with Him. When I speak, I effectively preach for a decision. From the beginning to the end of…

Continue Reading

The news stories and pictures of the border crisis in Texas all became personalized for me on Tuesday. The children and young people we saw are real children and real young people. We saw children from seven to seventeen years of age, from the countries of Honduras, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.

Ronnie Floyd at the BorderOn Friday, July 11, I issued a Call to Prayer: Responding to the Crisis on the Texas Border, and addressed the border crisis as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. When I was called upon to accompany Dr. Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Dr. Jim Richards, Executive Director of the Southern Baptists of Texas to the border of Texas, I cleared my calendar and joined them. Dr. Moore and I were together in McAllen, and Dr. Richards joined us in San Antonio. We were accompanied and escorted into these places by Mr. Ali Noorani, the Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

What Did We Do?

We began yesterday morning by touring a Texas Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas. Within twenty hours of entering our country, children are brought to facilities like…

Continue Reading