Archives For Missions

Refinery

It’s inevitable. Every single time we publish an article on pastors.com designed to help Pastors lead their churches to grow, people react with defensiveness and pseudo-spiritual comments. Everyone seems quick to point out that “it’s not about numbers,” “bigger doesn’t mean better,” and “my small church matters just as much as your big church.”

Yes. We know. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a small church. Small churches do awesome things for the kingdom and for their communities. And Pastors of churches of fifty people can have just as much integrity and just as much of God’s blessing as Pastors of churches of five thousand. Transfer growth is not a net gain for the church – we need to talk about conversion growth. All true.

Some go even further to imply that if you’re big, you must have gotten big by compromising the gospel or watering down God’s truth. These critics can’t help but grit their teeth when they talk about “thosemegachurches!!”

Here’s the problem. When we celebrate smallness as though growth is optional, we show that we think of the world around us as…

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Rick Angel Stadium

Last week, I wrote about the 9 reasons why your church should make the most of ‘big days’ for growth. And I told you that ‘big days’ have been very instrumental in Saddleback’s growth over the last 34 years. We’ve learned the art of pyramiding growth through special days.

But how? How do we maximize those big days for all they’re worth? Here are nine ways.

1. Plan your big days around your main worship service.

You might host other special events, but if you’re hoping to enlarge your main service attendance, then you will get the most benefit out of big days if they are planned around your existing, primary weekend service(s). It’s very difficult to try to get people who attend a special event during the week to become part of your weekend service.

2.  Plan big days on a naturally high attendance day.

Have your special day on a day when people are most likely to come anyway. They include without a doubt Easter, Mother’s Day and Christmas Eve. Those are a…

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Evangelism-and-Discipleship-Cover-Final-copyEvangelism or Discipleship: Can They Effectively Work Together? by Bobby Harrington and Bill Hull Evangelism and discipleship are not two things; they are one. Jesus has commanded us to “make disciples.” In this new eBook, veteran discipleship leaders Bobby Harrington and Bill Hull focus on the need for leaders to bring together discipleship and evangelism and plant churches with that mindset. The two authors offer Bible-based insights into how evangelism and discipleship work together to accomplish the Great Commission, sharing stories and examples of leaders and churches that have successfully brought the two together for kingdom impact.

Jesus’ Matthew 28 commandment included the expectation of reproduction—that new disciples would become well-taught disciples who would in turn embrace the mission and make other new disciples. Anything less is to sabotage the master plan. Evangelism is simply a form of pre-conversion discipleship. When we engage in this disciple-making process, Jesus tells us that He will be present with us—to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20). Download the free eBook.

Key highlights:

  • Helpful observations of the state of evangelism and discipleship in the West
  • The theological significance of discipleship and how it encompasses evangelism.
  • Experienced perspective from…

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Giving Coffee

Your God is awesome. Your church is wonderful. Yet guests who visit your church don’t often return. No true connection was made.

A parking lot greeter in our church expressed that concern: “We’ve got to figure out how to actually connect every guest with another person. Our flippant hellos or glad-you-cames just aren’t adequate.”

Why not challenge every member of your church to use these seven tips to connect with guests:

1)     Make a personal commitment to intentionally “connect” with one guest every Sunday. Ask God to make you aware of visitors. Be diligently alert—in the parking lot, foyer, nursery, hallway, worship service—to notice them. If you accidentally welcome someone who isn’t a guest, no problem. You’ve found a new friend.

2)     Once you’ve found a possible newcomer, pray for God’s guidance. Smile, greet the guest warmly, and introduce yourself. Pay careful attention to his name. Repeat it. Write it down. You will want to call him by name next Sunday when he returns.

3)     Chat casually and purposefully. You may ask, “Is this your first time to worship here?” Ask nonintrusive questions such as, “Did you just move to town?” or “What brought you…

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Ukraine Man

KIEV, Ukraine (BP) — Tensions rose to dangerous levels as Russian forces occupied Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in late February, but Ukrainian Baptists aren’t slowing down their ministry to a nation battered by months of internal crisis.

In fact, they’re picking up the pace.

“The response from the churches has been fantastic,” said IMB worker Shannon Ford, who lives in Ukraine’s capital city of Kiev, during a March 4 interview. “It really has been a time for prayer — not simply saying we’re going to pray, but actually going and being seen and guiding other people to pray,” even in the far east near the Russian border.

IMB personnel are serving right beside them.

“We’re able to do our ministry,” Ford insisted. “We have a family in right where the Russian fleet is parked. I talked to them this morning, and they were telling me all the different ministry things they did last week and what they’re planning this week. So despite all the uneasiness and the frightening pictures from the zoom lens of the media, our personnel and our national brothers and sisters are still doing their job, still having outreach…

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Scaffolding

I had a dream of having friends I started the church with go the distance with me serving as ministry partners for forty years and then riding together off into the sunset much like Billy Graham has done with Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea. It didn’t happen.

Here’s what I know: Those who start the journey with you seldom finish with you. In the church planting world I call this principle THE LAW OF SCAFFOLDING. The people you start the church with are not the people you grow the church with. This is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn as a church planter. I am a highly relational person – a people person. I enjoy people and working together as a team to see changed lives. It was emotionally painful for me anytime somebody left the church. However, part of the process of growth was learning the law of scaffolding.

In the late 1800’s Missiologist John Nevius once referred to missionaries to China as “scaffolds” to be removed when the building was established. Scaffolding is a temporary structure used to support people and material in the construction or repair…

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Charles Arn Surgery

Date: October 18, 2013  (Friday)
Time: 02:35 p.m.
Place: California Urology Medical Clinic, Pomona California 

“Dr. Arn…your biopsy came back positive.  I’m afraid you have prostate cancer.”

I thought he must have been talking to someone else in the room.  But we were alone…and the doctor was looking straight at me.

“Are you sure?” was all I could think of to say.

“Well, you are certainly welcome to get another opinion. But these biopsies are seldom wrong.”

“So, now what?” I asked, which led to a 20-minute conversation about what this newly discovered disease was…how far advanced it might be…and what were the options.

To make a long story short, three months after the biopsy report I had an IV in my arm and was being wheeled down the hallway at the City of Hope Medical Center to what would be a 3-hour surgery. (Robotic-assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy to be exact.) For those of you (men) who have been there and done that, I won’t remind you. For those who haven’t, I won’t bore you. But as I think back on the events of the past three months, I’d like to share with you what I learned from hospital staff, doctors, nurses, and even…

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Sales Pitch

Because of my undiagnosed allergy to the inside of an office I spend a lot of time hanging out at coffee shops and restaurants. Most of my fellow nomads are people conducting business, and every day I see “the turn” executed at tables around me. For the uninitiated let me explain the turn. You invite a potential customer to meet you for coffee. When they arrive you engage them in small talk feigning interest in their stories about work, family and life in general. After an appropriate amount of time passes you steer the conversation toward what you actually want to take about; an amazing opportunity, a business proposition or potential investment. This is “the turn”, the moment when the real purpose of the meeting comes out. I see the disappointment on faces as they realize the salesman doesn’t really care about them, he just wants to pitch. There’s  a turn in process at the next table as I type. (Read more about Ron Popeil, the master of the turn here)

Now that my wife is the CEO of a large non-profit we get turned a lot. People invite us to…

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illusion

Growing up there were many superstitions, wives’ tales, and myths that as you got older you realized, as much as you believed it then, they were not true.  Some were harmless and innocent but others caused fear because if you broke a mirror you believed you would have seven years bad luck.  Even intelligent people will knock on wood, wish on a falling star, and become visibly upset if a black cat crosses their path.  As a child, I remember carefully walking down a sidewalk and avoiding every crack because, “step on a crack break your mother’s back.”

There are many church “myths” today that are spoken as if they are factual.  A myth is defined as, “an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true.”  Remember, a myth is called a myth because it has not been proven true.  The problem is that we hear myths, believe them, and then allow them to control our thinking and our behavior.  When churches believe myths rather than the truth it causes fear and can paralyze their ministries.  Things like, “If we build it they will come!” or…

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Hard WorkI have been leading a ministry called “Dare 2 Share” for the last twenty years or so. During that timeframe we’ve had the privilege of inspiring and equipping a half million teenagers to share their faith. We truly believe that, because 85% of those who trust in Jesus do so by 18 years of age, a student-led movement of teenagers reaching teenagers with the gospel can transform this nation for Christ.

But, over the course of the last two decades, I’ve also encountered the reality that getting Christian teenagers to consistently share their faith is a challenge…a serious one. Yes, teenagers share the gospel when they’re at our training conferences but six months later the majority of them are back to their old non-faith sharing habits. Again and again we have seen that it takes youth leaders to, well, lead their own youth in this area. We can give them the basic faith-sharing tools they need to get started but youth leaders must use them and continue to use them throughout the year if evangelism is going to be a lifestyle for their teenagers.

What’s true of teenagers is especially true of…

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Church health is dependent upon the health of the pastor and its leadership.  If leaders are going to help people follow Jesus more closely and deeper then they must be setting the example for them to follow.  In Leading on Empty Wayne Cordeiro says, “Wisdom and understanding are not built in a day, however they are built daily.”  Your daily walk with God must be consistent to show others how to develop an intimacy with God.  Cordeiro goes on to say, “We don’t forget that we are Christians.  We forget that we are human, and that one oversight can debilitate the potential for our future.”

The ministry is not easy!  It is a calling, a privilege, very rewarding and a blessing beyond description but it is not easy.  When consulting with pastors and training church planters I always remind them, “you are in trouble if you are in the ministry.”  C. H. Spurgeon said, “The ministry is a matter which wears the brain and strains the heart, and drains out the life of a man if he attends to it a he should.”  The devil…

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MegachurchAs the saying goes, “The world is going to hell in a hand basket.”There’s never been a greater challenge for world evangelism, there are plenty of social problems like hunger and homelessness we face here in the United States, Christians are being marginalized more than ever, religious persecution is rampant on a global basis, and that’s just the beginning. But what are we still debating in the Church today?

Megachurches.

Hard to believe but I sometimes think we Christians spend more time criticizing large churches than anything else. Are there problems in 2,000+ member churches? Of course. But I work with churches of all sizes for a living, and I can tell you that for every case of shallow teaching, bad theology, leadership failures, financial improprieties, or whatever the criticism du jour happens to be, I can point to a long list of 50+ member churches guilty of the same things.

From the perspective of a person passionately interested in how Christians engage today’s culture, here’s some reasons I think it’s time for a moratorium on megachurch criticism:

1. You had a bad experience at a megachurch? Grow up. There are plenty of bad experiences to…

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