Archives For Missions

Dreamer

What should we do during seasons of discipline and delay? Four simple things:

1. Wait for the Power

You are going to need the full power of your dream to work for you, not some watered-down, premature version. Jesus made his followers wait until they received power from on high. That’s a promise for us, not just them. You will receive supernatural power for the task ahead if you don’t try to rush God’s timing.

I’m convinced that much of the dream-centered life is simply saying, Okay, God. It doesn’t make sense to me. All of culture is going the other direction. But I’m going to do exactly what you say. That posture of pa­tience and obedience is much more powerful than our own efforts.

2. Remember the Voice of God

Psalm 34:3 encourages us to “magnify the Lord.” Does that mean make him bigger? No, but it means we make him bigger in our own lives. By doing this we make God’s voice bigger than the voices of doubt in our own situation.

Imagine the dream busters who rose up against Noah and the pres­sure he got from his own family. I picture his three sons…

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Turf

Turf wars can be brutal –especially within ministry.

As a young minister in the Eighteenth Century, John Wesley was chided by the Anglican Church for preaching across parish lines (invading another pastor’s turf).

When approached, Wesley famously explained, “The world is my parish.” In other words, Wesley did not draw boundaries for his ministry. He saw a world full of opportunities.

Usually when we think of ministry “turf wars,” we think about boundary disputes between two churches. However, I think we should be more worried about the boundary disputes pastors place upon their own churches!

Wesley was right — the world is (your church’s) parish. I can say that confidently, because the Bible states is clearly.

In the beginning, God gave Adam and Eve the task of multiplying and filling the earth (Genesis 1:28) with the people made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). This was the first call to discipleship in history.

In the very same sentence, God gives Adam and Eve every resource they need to fulfill the task when he says, “fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds 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 mid-week prayer meeting, plus some other programs. W. A. Criswell (one of my biggest heroes) was a pioneer of 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.

We started…

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There are tens of thousands of churches in America that haven’t baptized anyone in at least a year. Even though The Great Commission and The Great Commandments are core to who we are as the church, we’re struggling to engage our culture with the Gospel.

One of the reasons so few churches effectively engage in outreach is because they ask the wrong question. Too often, the first question asked is, “How much will it cost?”

The right question is, “Who will it reach?”

How much is a soul worth? If you spend $500 on a social media ad that reaches one unbeliever for Christ, is it worth it?

If your church gets serious about developing a comprehensive evangelism strategy, it will cost money! With this in mind, let me share some insights about financing your strategy, based upon my experience as Saddleback has grown over the years.

First, money spent on evangelism is never an “expense,” it’s always an investment.

The people you reach will more than repay the cost you invested to reach them. Before we held the first service at Saddleback Church, the people in our small home Bible study went about $6,500 in…

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In a recent Fast Company article, The Startup Revolution Is About To Surge Again, Coca-Cola VP of Innovation David Butler discussed his ideas about what is needed for the “next wave entrepreneurial growth.”

I see some parallels with church planting and church growth movements.

Butler talks about three waves, two of which have already occurred and one which is forming.

The First Wave

The first wave was, “moving from dotcom to startup.”

Startups are now mainstream. It’s never been easier to start a business. There are new tools available that make the process easier than ever before.

Church planting has become more mainstream as well. Church planting became cool. Churches wanted to become church planting churches and seminary graduates began thinking more and more about planting their own churches rather than going on staff at existing churches.

In the startup world,

. . . new tools, communities, and access to capital have all contributed to today’s global startup ecosystem. That’s the second wave—the wave we’ve been riding for the past decade.

Church planting organizations, congregational church planting arms, multisite, church planting conferences, books, etc. all grew up to create a church planting ecosystem. This was the second wave.

The Second Wave

Church…

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We’ve all been shocked by the flooding and devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. So many people have lost everything they’ve worked for in this world. And yet the response we’ve seen from churches and relief organizations has been amazing to watch.

This disaster gives us all an opportunity to share God’s love in the lives of people affected by Harvey who need to hear about the abundant, eternal life in Christ Jesus. We have an opportunity to teach our congregations about facing a crisis.

Whether you’re planning to help in the Gulf region, or whether it’s the next time a wildfire, flood, earthquake, tornado, or hurricane devastates your own community, sooner or later, your congregation will be called to minister in a time of unparalleled grief. When that happens, here are five biblical principles you can teach your members about helping spiritually in the midst of a massive crisis:

First, teach them to release their grief

People feel all sorts of emotions when they face crisis, such as fear, anger, worry, depression, resentment, helplessness, and grief. The most important thing to teach people is that they must acknowledge these emotions before God. It does…

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Halfway between downtown Houston, Texas and Galveston Bay lies the town of Deer Park. To the West is Pasadena and to the east, Baytown.

Citizens of these Houston suburbs are no strangers to the issue of flooding, so they’re normally quite prepared. But as the nation watched recently, all of their preparedness was futile in the face of the massive, devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey.

We were able to connect with Charlie Ellison, Executive Pastor at Life Bridge Baptist Church in Deer Park while he was out in a truck delivering supplies to local residents who have now lost everything.

Life Bridge has sent teams out to clear debris, tear out damaged flooring and sheetrock, and deliver supplies purchased from local stores using money donated by people near and far. Part of their work is simply getting to pray for people as they serve. “Most of these people didn’t have flood insurance because flooding never seemed like a problem they’d have to deal with.”

“They haven’t just lost things. They’ve lost memories and all that they’ve worked for over a lifetime,” he continued. “It’s a blessing just to…

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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…

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Bikes

Summer is a great time to reflect on your leadership. You are between the “start of the year” season of ministry and the “fall season,” wrapping up the end of the year. In my personal life, each month, I look at my spiritual health planner to see where I’m at with spiritual goals, course correct, and the push into next month. It’s like my spiritual tune-up.

The same is true for my leadership. For me, summer is a season when I can take a deep breath, pause, and evaluate. I like to look at five attributes of my leadership that affect our church’s Small Group Ministry.

Am I taking a risk?

Comfort zones can be stabilizing places, but they can also be a barrier to the next level of ministry for you and your team. A good question to ask yourself is – Where are you taking a risk in ministry? When I use the word, “risk”, I mean, is there a new way you need to do ministry that may be better? If money wasn’t a barrier, what would you do?

Once you answer that, what are different ways to accomplish that goal with the funds…

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Messy Church

During my second full week of pastoring, one of the ladies of our church made a disturbing comment. Looking back, I believe her comment probably describes the attitude of many other churches and their members.

Our church was getting ready to construct a new building when I was hired. I’m sure the lady meant well, but you can imagine my shock when she said, “I don’t know why we are building a new building. We are a small town and only getting smaller.”

She was right. At that point in time, the town of 18,000 people had experienced a brief decline in population. However, her viewpoint missed one major fact: Out of the 18,000 people in the town, no more than 5,000 were active in a local church.

I kept my mouth shut, but my snarky brain wanted to shout, “Actually, we are building too small! There’s no way we could hold all the potential new believers in our town with this new building plan.”

What would prompt a person to overlook so many lost people in a town? It’s not ignorance of the situation. I believe most church members are tempted to write…

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Almost anytime I mention numbers related to church life, I anticipate some responses about the value of numbers and congregations. In the 1980s, this type of discussion came primarily from more liberal churches that weren’t growing. Some of these leaders felt that declining membership and attendance was likely a sign of health. The members who really cared about the church were the ones who remained. They could make the biggest difference without the more nominal members remaining as obstacles.

Today, it is not unusual for me to hear from more conservative church leaders that declining church numbers may be a good sign because it is an indication that the numbers reflect true regenerate members. But, for the purpose of this brief article, let’s assume that attendance growth is a positive indicator. Presumably more people are hearing the Gospel and being discipled when a church is growing.

It is in that context that I hear almost every week from church leaders whose churches seem stuck at some level of attendance: 100, 200, 500, 800, and so on. I even got a call a year ago from a church where the pastor was concerned that attendance was stuck at 7,000!

After 25…

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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 NLT).

Though most of our personal evangelism probably happens in the context of some kind of relationship (friend, family member, coworker, neighbor, classmate, teammate, etc.) there are countless opportunities we have throughout our lives to engage complete strangers with the Good News, just…

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