Archives For Missions

Gospelize” is an old English word for evangelize. It’s a cool word with an old flair that engages our postmodern teenagers with the ancient quest of going into all the world to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19.) If you really want to get your teenagers engaged in telling “the greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told” (to quote my good friend Propaganda) then here are five simple action steps you can take right away in your youth ministry:

1. Spend more time in prayer.

For the last few years we’ve been programming into our Dare 2 Share weekend conferences an extended time in prayer. These mini concerts of prayer have been an exciting and somewhat surprising realization for me. I’ve realized that, given the right context, teenagers down deep inside really want to pray. What if you took 10 minutes of every meeting, maybe right in the middle of a worship set, and allowed teenagers to pray in small groups, silently and even had a few come up to an open mic? Or, like one youth leader in Chicago, get your teenagers in a big circle at the end of the…

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I see a lot of church advertising these days. Many churches are utilizing billboards, print ads, and social media for the purpose of outreach. I love the concept of utilizing creative spaces to advance the kingdom. However, there is a something unsettling about public ads that advertise with slogans such as:

  • “In depth preaching,”
  • “Contemporary and traditional services,”
  • “Bible studies for the whole family.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love all of those things. Preaching, corporate worship, and Bible study are all high on my list. And no, I don’t think the church should hide what we are doing.

However, it strikes me odd when a church’s outreach efforts advertise elements that only believers would be interested in. That doesn’t mean unbelievers don’t need it –it just means they don’t know they need it –yet.

As I see it, this kind of advertising implies one of three things about the church:

  • The church assumes we live in culture familiar with Christianity. Churches must realize that we no longer have the luxury of living in a culture that is familiar and friendly to the church. Reaching unbelievers requires us to think like a missionary overseas attempting to reach a…

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As someone who both cares about the mission of the Church and leads a research organization, I watch the trends in the Church and the culture. Occasionally, someone asks me to share some thoughts on the big picture, in the case of the North American context, questions related to “streams” of Protestantism.

Based on research, statistics, extrapolation, and (I hope) some insight, I notice three important trends continuing in the next 10 years.

Trend #1: The Hemorrhaging of Mainline Protestantism

This trend is hardly news—mainliners will tell you of this hemorrhaging and of their efforts to reverse it.

Mainline Protestantism is perhaps the best known portion of Protestantism, often represented by what are called the “seven sisters” of the mainline churches. Mainline churches are more than these, but these seven are the best known, perhaps:

  • United Methodist Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
  • Episcopal Church
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • American Baptist Churches
  • United Church of Christ (UCC)
  • The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

They tend to fall on the progressive side of the theological continuum, but there is diversity of theology as well (Methodists, as a whole, are probably most conservative, for example).

Mainline Protestantism is in trouble and in substantive decline. Some…

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In last week’s The Top 10 Leadership Posts I Read The Week Of June 8th, Beth Riedemann wrote a post entitled An Open Letter To Mike Linch, Sr. Pastor at NorthStar.

The title caught my attention because Mike is one of my dearest friends and one of the great pastors in America.  You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

As I read Beth’s post I was moved by her transparency as she recounted her family’s story of coming back to church and the role NorthStar Church and Mike, specifically, have played in her spiritual journey.

While no two stories are ever the same, the following are 20 Facts About The Unchurched People Who Visit Your Church I gleaned from Beth’s comments:

  1. Unchurched People were often deeply affected as children by the actions of their parents and their view of God.
  2. Unchurched People were often judged harshly by those in roles of spiritual authority.
  3. Unchurched People often watched Christians treat each other harshly. Why would they want to be part of that?
  4. Unchurched People are unclear on what is needed to go to Heaven.
  5. Unchurched People have seen poor Christian leadership modeled for them. Thankfully, God…

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Parkview Christian On Mission

“Your mission . . . should you choose to accept it.”

Every kid growing up in my generation longed to hear those words from the television series, “Mission Impossible.” The agency would send a super secret tape player to the secret agent, who would listen to instructions (usually involving a dangerous trek to some communist country), and then the tape would self-destruct so no one else could ever know what the super secret mission was.

Interestingly, there was never an episode where the agent said, “I’m not feeling it, I think I’ll go get a beef sandwich.”

The assumption here is that if you are an agent, it’s your job to take the mission. If you want to sit around all day and play Candy Crush®, you can work somewhere else. Maybe the DMV. But if you’re an agent—you accept the mission. That’s the whole reason you took all those Kung Fu lessons.

Guess what? Every believer is an agent. Every believer has a mission.

The Life on Mission curriculum is about how to help your congregation realize that they are on mission. Not just the Pastor. It’s written to help them understand…

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I used to go to church to make fun of Pastors. No joke. I would take notes as they preached and wait behind to tell them the 15 ways they were wrong. Not only that, but I used to read the Bible only to look for contradictions in order to argue Christians out of their faith. Sometimes it even worked, sadly.

Now most atheists aren’t this way, but some of them have strong opinions about religion, God, and the people who follow Him. Which is why it’s important that we – as Christians – minimize our mistakes when we do get the opportunity to talk with them about Christ.

Two Things:

Before we get into the 5 mistakes, I do want to mention two things:

First, for the material in this post I will be drawing mainly from three different sources: my time as an atheist; my mistakes in talking with atheists after becoming a Christian; and the wisdom of those who graciously gave their opinions and experiences on this topic – thank you!

Second, I want to assert that ‘talking to atheists’ means a respectful and wanted conversation by two or more people that have…

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Culture Wars

By Tim Harlow

Life on MissionI believe that God puts us where He wants us. I know that’s an obvious opening statement, but that means that I actually believe that God put me in Chicagoland in 2015 because He gave me certain gifts and abilities that He wants me to use.  I don’t think I would have fit in as a preacher in Mayberry in the 1960s. I just could not have dealt with the legalism. I would have probably opted for Woodstock.

I was recently at an event where I heard a lot of well-meaning Christian leaders talking about “taking our culture back.” There are many church leaders who would love to bring back the “moral majority” to America. And while I hate what immorality does to people’s lives and also to the heart of God, my study of church history shows me that Christianity is usually most potent when it comes in from the outside. Jesus didn’t call us to be the majority of the earth.

He called us to be the salt and light.

I want to lead the Christians who are cellphone lights in a movie theater. Do you know what I…

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“He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.” The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?’ Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.’” John 4:4-10

Though most of our personal evangelism probably happens in the context of some kind of relationship (friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, classmate, teammate, etc) there are countless opportunities we have throughout our lives to engage complete strangers with the good news, just like…

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As I’ve said before, Christianity is not dying; nominal Christianity is.

Today, Pew Research Center released a report drawing a variety of headlines—everything from “Christianity faces sharp decline as Americans are becoming even less affiliated with religion” to “Pew: Evangelicals Stay Strong as Christianity Crumbles in America.”

So what are we supposed to think of Christianity in America?

The nominals are becoming the nones, and the convictional are remaining committed.

The big trends are clear, the nominals are becoming the nones, yet the convictional are remaining committed.

In other words, Americans whose Christianity was nominal—in name only—are casting aside the name. They are now aligning publicly with what they’ve actually not believed all along.

The percentage of convictional Christians remains rather steady, but because the nominal Christians now are unaffiliated the overall percentage of self-identified Christians is decline. This overall decline is what Pew shows—and I expect it to accelarate.

As I have said before, not one serious researcher thinks Christianity in America is dying. What we see from Pew is not the death-knell of Christianity, but another indication that Christianity in America is being refined.

As such, let me share three takeaways from…

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Outside TemperatureIsn’t it easier to point out the wrongdoings of others and tell people what to do, rather than be a part of the solution?

My wife and I have noticed this in our children—they love playing the victim. So whenever there’s conflict, instead of figuring it out themselves, they come to us crying out “injustice!”

I wonder where they learned that from? I knew I never should’ve let them watch Sesame Street…

In order to fix this attitude, a few days ago, my wife began teaching them the difference between being bossy and being a leader. Here’s the difference:

  • Bossy people point out the wrongdoings of others, expect others to fix their issues, and are never wrong.
  • Leaders take responsibility for situations, don’t dwell on problems, focus on solutions, and make change happen.

As I was reflecting on this new paradigm of parenting (my wife is amazing by the way), I couldn’t help but notice the similarities that it had with thermometers and thermostats. Let me explain:

  • Thermometers point out what currently is, expect others to do something with that information, and they provide us with the standard—they are never wrong. Thermometers are indicators.
  • Thermostats, on the other…

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Rick and Kay Warren at the PEACE CenterBy Tommy Hilliker

It started with a bag of groceries to meet a serious need in our community. Our benevolence requests went from six a day to more than 40 a day, and 15 percent of our congregation was out of work. At the peak of the economic recession, our community was hurting and in need of real assistance. In response, Saddleback Church launched its food pantry, which two years later would turn into The PEACE Center.

Jesus said in Mark 9:41, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name … will certainly not lose their reward” (NIV).

Everything we do centers on providing practical help and connection to the church and sharing the hope of Jesus Christ.

People came to our doors the first day we opened them. We have fed more than 80,000 people in south Orange County, Ca. We also provide free legal aid, immigration help, tutoring clubs, ESL classes, medical services, and much more. And the most amazing part is that more than 1,600 people have given their lives to Jesus because of the work done through The PEACE Center. People…

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