Archives For Missions

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

I can predict with certainty that in the next year, some churches will be driven by tradition. 2014 won’t look much different than any other year other than a few new faces and some tweaks here and there. Others will be driven by personalities and politics. Still other churches will be 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, will be driven by God’s purposes next year. 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…

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In 1964 Bob Dylan released his third studio album “The Times, They Are a-Changin’.” As was typical of the music from the 1960s, political and cultural statements and protests were the norm. The times were changing. Some for the better (i.e. the Civil Rights Movement.) Others, maybe not (i.e. the sexual revolution.) Nevertheless, songs such as this and others that gained popularity became themes for a generation in flux.

Churches changed as well over time. Some for the better. Others. . .well maybe not. Over the last few decades we have seen the advent of the church growth movement, the growth of para-church organizations, the birth and subsequent death (well, basically) of the emergent church, the focus on being seeker-sensitive, the development of labels such as “traditional” and “contemporary” when it comes to worship styles (which by their nature are labels that mean different things to differnt people) and categorical shifts in emphases in areas such as youth ministry, family ministry, men’s and women’s ministries, and the like.

There are always those voices that speak of needed adjustments in church practice as culture changes. Some have wrongly attributed these changes to keeping the message “relevant.” That’s a misnomer. The Gospel is…

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Multi-EthnicThe Apostle Paul did not go into a Greco-Roman city and plant a church for the Jews and then a church for gentiles (non-Jews) because it would have been out-of-step with the Gospel he loved, lived, and proclaimed (Galatians 2:11-21).

Paul relentlessly believed that the power of the Gospel could create a new kind of humanity that was an altogether new ethnic group called the Church. The Church would be a community where racism, classism, and sexism would be defeated by Gospel-love (Galatians 3:24-28).

The Apostle Paul was so committed to the glory of God through the local church that eventually He was imprisoned and killed for planting Jew and gentile (multi-ethnic) churches throughout the Greco-Roman world.

“And he said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ Up to this word they listened to him. Then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live.” Acts 22:21-22

The Following are the 8 Reasons Why the Apostle Paul wants local churches to be Multi-ethnic, whenever possible:

SOTERIOLOGICAL (Doctrine of Salvation)

Beautiful PeopleI’m going to list the most beautiful churches in the world. Are you ready? Follow me: If I said, “You have a beautiful church”, would you reply, “Thanks. When did you visit our building?” or would you reply “Thanks. Who did you meet?”

It’s simple and subtle, but potentially dangerous. So often we refer to churches’ facilities or campuses and define that as a “church”, as if they’re synonymous. One of the reasons that I love church plants and those in portable facilities is that they don’t have to overcome this hurdle like churches with their own building.

We don’t go to church. We are the church. If you want to see the most beautiful churches in the world, you’ve got to spend some time with believers that are sold out to Jesus, filled with His love and grace, display the fruits of the Spirit and have a passion to serve their community.

While I’m thinking about it, read Dino Rizzo’s book Servolution – that’s a beautiful church and a beautiful vision/ministry. Each time I’ve visited a church that has a Dream Center, including the LA Dream Center led by pastor Matthew Barnett, I’ve seen a…

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AtheistLast week I sat next to James on a flight from St. Louis to Denver. As we talked the subject turned to spirituality and religion. I confessed that I was a preacher and he confessed he was an atheist. What unfolded on the rest of the flight was a deep, thought-provocative, laughter-laced gospel conversation.

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of engaging many atheists like James in various settings. I’ve discovered five helpful tips when sharing the gospel with someone who claims to not believe in God.

1. Don’t be shocked and do ask tons of questions.

Some atheists like to shock Christians with the fact that they don’t believe in God. This brand of atheist pulls the pin on the “there is no God”grenade and drops it in the middle of the conversation, expecting Christians to run for cover.

Don’t be phased. As a matter of fact start asking questions about their atheism. Find out what they mean by atheism (some are agnostics but call themselves atheists.) Ask questions about their background. Were they raised in church? Do they have any Christian friends? Where were they educated about atheism?

And remember that, as you ask questions, your goal is…

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I love that part of the story of the early church in which God allows persecution to scatter the Christians from Jerusalem like ants. The Bible says that everywhere they went, they preached the gospel (see Acts chapter 8). Phillip, in particular, headed to a city in Samaria and became the earliest cross-cultural missionary. When he preached there, the citizens listened and embraced Jesus. The Bible sums it up by saying, “So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:8 NLT)

I’ve spent a lot of time lately reading Acts and other sources of early church history. I’ve found this theme to be recurring. The apostles enter a city and preach Jesus against the backdrop of creation and the story of God. People embrace Jesus and the city takes on new life.

The other reaction that happens is riots break out and people get upset, but it’s usually the established religious leadership, feeling threatened by the dethroning power of this new gospel, that stir up the crowds. As I’ve looked over the stories, from Samaria to Athens all the way…

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Jump Into Church PlantingLeadership guru Ken Blanchard once shared with me that you could tell if a person was an entrepreneur by the fourth grade. Church planters are spiritual entrepreneurs. Merriam-Webster defines an entrepreneur as “one who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.” I remember starting my first lemonade stand when I was 10 years old and recruiting other friends to help me. My first love was baseball and I was the guy that would call up his friends and ask one to bring the bats, another to bring the balls, and invite everyone to meet at the elementary school at 2 p.m. to play baseball. In the same way, a church planter asks one friend to bring the sound system, another friend to bring the children’s ministry equipment, and invites everyone to gather at the elementary school for a worship service.

Church planters are spiritual entrepreneurs who know that the odds are stacked against them in starting a successful church, but they’re willing to assume the risk anyway. Unlike a business entrepreneur whose primary goal is to make money, a spiritual entrepreneur’s goal is to make…

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Do you want to make a difference in your community but you’re not sure how to get started? Here are three actions each pastor and church needs to take in order to identify those around you who need Christ. If you and your church will take these actions, you will discover pockets of people who are more than ready to be reached with the Gospel message.

IDENTIFY PEOPLE GROUPS

Take the needed time to do some research in order to find out the various people groups represented in your city (the U.S. Census Bureau is a good place to start). In our own research, we discovered that even in our small Northwest Arkansas region of 400,000 plus people, we have 66 people groups, plus the largest group, which is what I call the big white cluster that comprises 75% of the Northwest Arkansas region. Additionally, we discovered that our region has the largest gathering of Marshallese people outside of their native Marshall Islands.

What God has done through this discovery is remarkable . . . a testimony to the power of God for the glory of God! We put…

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What if every church had a vision to plant ten churches in ten years?  If two couples were to move to a city with the goal of reproducing themselves and multiplying every three years, it could happen.  Four couples could plant 32 churches in ten years.  As you study the multiplication of the early church you notice that when it was illegal church planting was exponential, when it became acceptable church multiplication slowed down, and when it became advantageous to be a Christian church multiplication came to a screeching halt.

A church multiplication strategy is committed to developing not a church plant but a network of churches in a city or area.  In Luke 10:6 Jesus sent seventy of His followers out in groups of twos with their mission being to find a person of peace.  When they left that city, who was left in charge of the Lord’s work?  Paul, in his church planting journeys, used this same strategy of finding a potential leader, training them, empowering them, and leaving them in charge.  If 10% of our churches were planting churches, we would double…

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Peanut“When I was young, I said to God, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the universe.’ But God answered, ‘That knowledge is for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God, tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well, George, that’s more nearly your size.’” George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was born into slavery in the mid 19th Century in Missouri. He went on to become a world famous scientist. Because he was frail and sickly as a child he worked as a gardner. As a result he had plenty of time to investigate, wander the woods and fan into flame his natural curiosity for all things scientific. Although his ambition was much bigger God gave him one thing to focus on…the peanut. As a result of his relentless experiments on that shell covered protein bullet he discovered over 300 uses for the peanut, including peanut butter (Praise the Lord!)

Too many times we as Christians want to conquer the world but God is calling us to something seemingly much smaller. But when we apply laser like focus onto our God calling in the power that He provides, the results can be…

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There is a formula for launching a church in America. Collect lots of money. Spend lots of money getting the word out. Turn the big crowd of strangers into a church. It’s easy… if you have lots of money. But c’mon, church planters are hackers by nature right? It’s possible to get the word out in a better way, especially today.

When we began planting Grace Hills, we didn’t want to drop a ton of money on massive but impersonal means of announcing our arrival – and we didn’t have a ton of money anyway. So we used Facebook. We’re still using Facebook. And it’s working.

  • We started with two couples (including the Cox’s). We spent $0 on traditional advertising but had 35 at our first gathering in July of 2011.
  • We grew to approximately 80 within six months by word-of-mouth and while spending $0 on traditional advertising.
  • We launched with 176 on our first Sunday, mostly gathered through Facebook, word-of-mouth, and search engines.
  • Today, we’re the most “liked” church in northwest Arkansas and an estimated 75-80% of our first time guests found us on the web.

Why Social Media…

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Birthing a Church 101

By Kyle Searcy

When my wife and I decided to start a family, we thought we were “ready” to become parents. We had read the best books, asked for advice from our most auspicious relatives and mustered our prayer life around what God had in store. And He didn’t disappoint us!

Last weekend, I spearheaded a new church in a different state. It reminded me of the exhilaration I experienced while waiting for our first child to be born. And the process to create a successful beginning to this baby church paralleled some of what we had to do to prepare for our own progeny. Conception begins the baby’s life; vision for the new church had to be conceived and defined. Babies take nine months to grow through strategic and intricate design modules in order to have the necessary parts to support life; a new church must work through a strategic plan so that the outcome matches the original concept. The DNA of both babies and churches integrates the function of the body in a cohesive manner. The anticipation is exciting but once the new one (baby or…

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