Archives For Missions

Steps

When I think about the commitments I’ve made that led to spiritual growth, often a very small step took me to a place where I could make the next commitment. Here are some baby steps that will help your members make the next commitment toward spiritual maturity.

1. Put a place to commit on your welcome cards. If you have a card for guests to use to give you information about themselves, that’s also a great place to offer an opportunity to commit to a class. Your guests will see from the beginning that these classes are a priority at the church. It also gives them an opportunity to sign up without leaving their chair during worship services.

2. Personalize the weekend announcements. When you’re announcing the classes from the pulpit, think about the person who needs to make a commitment to the next step. Ask yourself, what will help him or her to do that? Focus on who needs to take the commitment step. Don’t simply tell people when and where the class will be. Remember, you’re inviting people, not numbers, to the class.

3. Make the commitment to the next class a…

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When I wrote The Purpose Driven Church, I made the bold assertion that every church is driven by something. That’s still true, and you must decide what will drive your congregation.

A lot of churches are driven by tradition. Others will be driven by personalities and politics. Still other churches are driven by debt, by the shape of their buildings, or by a ministry structure so large and so inflexible that fresh growth will be difficult.

Healthy churches, however, are driven by God’s purposes. These churches will focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, and they’ll discover that God wants his church to fulfill five purposes:

  • Worship – Healthy churches will magnify the name of Jesus in all that they do.
  • Evangelism – Healthy churches will focus on the mission of introducing unchurched people to Jesus.
  • Fellowship – Healthy churches will bring people into membership in God’s family, the church.
  • Discipleship – Healthy churches will help people become more like Christ.
  • Ministry – Healthy churches will help…

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In ministry, some things must never change but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing. Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly updated to reach each new generation.

In other words, our message of transformation must never change while the transformation of our presentation should be continual, adapting to the new languages of our culture.

Consider this: the word contemporary literally means with temporariness. By nature, nothing contemporary is meant to last forever! It is only effective for a while and only relevant in that particular moment – which’s what makes it contemporary.

What is considered contemporary and relevant in the next ten years will inevitably appear dated and tired in 20 years. As a pastor, I’ve watched churches adopt many contemporary styles…

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Baptism at Saddleback

Many people came through the front doors of our churches during Easter – and many people were saved. But, as you already know, not all of those who come during Easter return the following week. And not everyone who gets saved during Easter services grows spiritually either.

So how do we make sure those who attend our Easter services return, become active in our churches and get involved in ministry?

Keeping the fruit of your ministry is as important as winning the fruit in the first place.

What did the early Church do after big evangelistic harvests?

  • They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said (Acts 14:21-22 NIV).
  • Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers. After spending some time there, they were sent off by the believers with the blessing of peace to return to those who had sent them. But Paul…

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Conversation

The longer you’re a believer, the less you think like an unbeliever. After you come to Christ, your interests and values change.

Because I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, I think like a Christian. I don’t normally think like an unbeliever. Worse than that, I tend to think like a pastor, and that’s even further removed from an unbeliever’s mindset! That means I must intentionally change mental gears when seeking to relate to non-Christians.

If you look at most church advertising, it’s obvious that it was written from a believer’s viewpoint — not from the mindset of the unchurched.

When you see a church ad that announces, “Preaching the Inerrant Word of God,” what group of people do you think that ad appeals to? Certainly not to unbelievers!

Personally, I consider the inerrancy of Scripture as a non-negotiable belief, but the unchurched don’t even understand the term. If you’re going to advertise and promote your church, you must learn to think and speak like unbelievers. The spiritual terminology that’s familiar to Christians is just gibberish to the unchurched.

I’ve often heard pastors complain that unbelievers are more resistant to the Gospel today than in the past….

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Persuasion

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11a NASB).

“And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks
(Acts 18:4 NASB).

And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God” (Acts 19:8 NASB).

Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian'” (Acts 26:28 NASB).

Persuasion gets a bad rap, especially when it comes to evangelism.

Sure, we all know those types who take it too far. We’ve all felt that holy cringe when we’ve seen pointed fingers and heard “repent” reverberating from a bullhorn on the street corner. But I think we can all agree that this style of “evangelism” is more coercion than it is persuasion.

The English word for “persuasion” smacks of the used car salesman stereotype of evangelism that asks “What can I do to get you to buy into Christianity today?” to a hurried, harried, and harassed customer. But the biblical Greek word for evangelism (“peitho“) is a whole different story.

Peitho means “to gently win someone over, to lovingly convince, to…

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This year my husband, John, and I are celebrating 20 years in full-time ministry. Twenty years! (Cue the confetti and horn blowers!) During those years we have had the joy of serving on staff at churches in New England and in Southern California. While the places look nothing like each other from the outside, I have found that the experiences are similar in many ways. Building bridges and a culture of love is always in style. There is joy in collaborating with a team, and there is tension when leading through change. Watching people walk through the doors of your church for the first time never gets old, and it is thrilling to step out of your comfort zone and into a new part of the world with the Gospel.

In New Hampshire, I learned about The PEACE Plan for the first time. Our church took teams to Rwanda regularly. We saw ordinary people with ordinary giftings become a part of something so much bigger than themselves or their region. My husband and I went on PEACE trips to Rwanda with our church on the East Coast and then…

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Map and Phone

In my previous article, I talked about our need to become world-class Christians. I talked about the importance of shifting our thinking from being self-centered to being others-centered. There are at least two other major shifts that need to happen in our thinking.

Shift from local to global thinking

God is a global God. He has always cared about the entire world: “God so loved the world” (John 3:16a NIV).

From the beginning, he has wanted family members from every nation he created. The Bible says, “From one person God made all nations who live on earth, and he decided when and where every nation would be. God has done all this, so that we will look for him and reach out and find him” (Acts 17:26-27a CEV).

Much of the world already thinks globally. The largest media and business conglomerates are all multinational. Our lives are increasingly intertwined with those in other nations as we share fashion, entertainment, music, sports, and even fast food. Probably most of the clothes you’re wearing, and much of what you’ve eaten today, was produced in another country. We’re more connected than we realize.

These are exciting days to be…

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World

You’ll either be a worldly Christian or a world-class Christian.

“Jesus said to his followers, ‘Go everywhere in the world, and tell the Good News to everyone’” (Mark 16:15 NCV).

“Send us around the world with the news of your saving power and your eternal plan for all mankind” (Psalm 67:2 TLB).

Worldly Christians look to God primarily for personal fulfillment. They’re saved but self-centered. They love to attend concerts and enrichment seminars, but you’d never find them at a mission conference, because they aren’t interested.

Their prayers focus on their own needs, blessings, and happiness. It’s a “me-first” faith: How can God make my life more comfortable? They want to use God for their purposes instead of being used for his purposes.

By contrast, world-class Christians know they were saved to serve and were made for a mission. They’re eager to receive a personal assignment and excited about the privilege of being used by God.

World-class Christians are the only fully alive people on the planet. Their joy, confidence, and enthusiasm are contagious because they know they’re making a difference. They wake up each morning expecting God to work through them in fresh ways.

Which type of Christian do you want to be?

God invites…

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Teresa’s Club was a staple along Highway 80 for 25 years until the owner, Teresa Fears, met Jesus Christ through friendships with members of Mobberly Baptist Church.

Afterward, it was Fears’ idea to close down her adult club in Longview, Texas.

The Mobberly “church ladies,” as Teresa calls them, have changed her life. And she has changed their lives in sharing the Gospel.

Mobberly’s involvement with Fears began more than three years ago when worship team member Laney Wootten began praying about the club.

“The Lord made it clear that I was not just to pray but to do something,” Wootten said. She searched the club’s Facebook page and was surprised that the owner was a woman with a passion for helping special needs children.

Fears accepted Wootten’s friend request and the two began messaging on Facebook. Wooten, the parent of an autistic son, found common ground with Fears, who regularly volunteered at the Truman W. Smith Children’s Care Center for medically fragile children…

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That phrase “teaching hospital” jumped out at me during a conversation with Geoff Surratt, who was then pastor of church planting at Saddleback Church. As we discussed the vision of Grace Hills Church over lunch, Geoff helped me put words to the burden I kept feeling to plant more than a church: to plant a multiplying movement of reproducing churches.

I believe in church planting. I believe that the local church is supposed to multiply itself, birthing daughter churches, and that this is not only biblically mandated, but a highly practical way to expand the Kingdom of God in our culture.

America has seen well over 1,000 new megachurches spring up the last decade, and our actual transforming impact upon America is often difficult to spot. We need more churches. Why?

  • People are going to Hell without Jesus, and the percentage of our population without a relationship with Christ is on the increase.
  • Many existing churches are dying, and birthing new babies is usually easier than raising the dead.
  • God has ordained the local church as his primary vehicle of spiritual and social change in the world.
  • New churches reach more people, faster. It takes…

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I’ve planted several churches, and I know how hard it can be. I’ve never “closed” a plant, but I’ve sat with several others that have. It is painful — but sometimes it is helpful.

I think that doing an “autopsy” is a helpful part of the learning experience, and something that is not done often enough. Here is one such reflection from John Thomas, a former planter.

As an aside, one of the more fascinating documents we references in Viral Churches was an autopsy report by Todd Hunter. At the time, Todd was director of church planting for the Vineyard and later the head of the Vineyard. Now he is an Anglican Bishop (and we shared a pulpit and some fellowship time last week with the Anglican Church in America). You can download that report from 1986 (an eternity in church-planting years) here.


A Guest Post from John Thomas

Of course, I had heard the stats about church planting failures. Regardless, I went for it knowing the Lord was leading me to start a new church for his glory. I read all the books, attended the conferences, took…

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