Archives For Missions

By Jeff Brawner

Mormons are family oriented, clean-cut, and prominent in political and economic circles, fervent in their faith, and all-around nice folks. In so many ways one could erroneously assume that Mormons represent just one more facet of fervent evangelical Christianity.

Many would like to think that theological differences between Mormons and evangelical Christians aren’t enough to have any real significance. Sadly, they are badly mistaken.

According to Scripture, being nice, family oriented, clean-cut, and fervent fulfills none of the requirements to be right before the Lord. Consequently, we can respect Mormons (who call their religion The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) for much of the way they live, but we also need to accept that their understanding of God, Christ, Scripture, and salvation as well as other matters of faith are outside what Scripture teaches.

Here are a few of the highlights of the theological differences between the Mormon belief system and what evangelicals believe, drawing from my book, “How to Share Christ with Your Friends of Another Faith“:

God: Mormons believe that God is the ruler of our planet. He is the ruler of only this…

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You’ve heard it suggested the U.S. is simply Europe on a 50 year delay. Supposedly most churches will be museums before our grandchildren reach adulthood.

Though new numbers from Pew Research released this month point to a decline in American Protestants, no serious scholar believes Christianity in America is on a trajectory of extinction. And, as a Ph.D. researcher and practicing evangelical Christian, I say to those who’ve read recent reports and come to that conclusion, “Not so fast.”

You see, many in the U.S. who identify as Christian do so only superficially. These cultural Christians use the term but do not practice the faith. Now it seems many of them are giving up the Christian label, and those cultural or nominal Christians are becoming “nones,” people with no religious label.

Christian nominalism is nothing new. As soon as any belief system is broadly held, people are motivated to adopt it, even with a low level of connection. Yet, much of the change in our religious identification is in nominal Christians no longer using the term and, instead, not identifying with any religion.

In other words, the nominals are becoming the…

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Several years ago a study by the largest Protestant denomination in the country found a startling relationship between the length of time pastors had been in their churches, and the growth or decline of those churches.  Their finding?  Approximately 3/4 of their growing churches were being led by pastors who had been in their church more than four years, while 2/3 of their declining churches were being led by pastors who had been in their church less than four years.  Their conclusion (with which I agree):  Long-term pastorates do not guarantee that a church will grow.  But short-term pastorates essentially guarantee that a church will not grow.

So, why do pastors leave their churches?  Here are the results of one study where pastors were asked that question …There is an undeniable relationship between pastoral tenure and church growth.  While most growing churches have long-term pastorates, and some non-growing churches have long-term pastorates, it is almost unheard of to find a growing church with many short-term pastorates.  Frequent change of pastors seems…

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By Craig Sanders

“One of the greatest things you can do is to become a missiologist in your community and a mission strategist for your people,” says Ronnie Floyd, pastor of Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas. Floyd recently spoke at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Floyd recounted his experience as pastor of the former First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., which transitioned from a mega-church to a multi-site church with four campuses, adopting the name Cross Church in 2011.

“People are drawn to fellowships that are on mission,” Floyd said, noting that the intimacy of multi-site churches also helped promote the church’s growth in recent years.

Floyd described the initiative of Cross Church members to study people groups in northwest Arkansas, enabling them to minister to an ethnic people group related to the Marshall Islands in the northern Pacific Ocean. When several in the Marshallese community became Christians, they collaborated with the Jesus Film Project to bring the Gospel to the unreached in the island nation.

“One thing Southern Baptists understand is lostness,” said Floyd, who mobilizes small groups to share the Gospel by illustrating to them the dire need of unreached people groups.

In…

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Most of us have been to a pep rally at some time in our lives or a sporting event where we cheer for our team.  There is some humor and a lesson that can be learned from our participation as fans at one of these events.  The trumpet blows followed by everyone standing and yelling, “Charge!”  Then we all sit down to eat our hot dogs, popcorn, and nachos.  We aren’t in the game and we do not know the game plan.  We are only spectators!

Every team has a particular cheer or song that unites everyone in the stadium.  In high school my sons played sports for the Ft. Gibson Tigers so every game we heard “The Eye of the Tiger.”  In college football the Razorbacks call the hogs, Oklahoma has Boomer Sooner, and Georgia has “Who Let the Dogs Out!”  In churches today we have a “Vision Statement’ that is meant to rally the troops in our churches to carry out God’s Great Commission.

Vision has the ability to excite people, rally them, and urge them to join in the game.  Vision statements are worthless without…

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SurveyFor the past week, I’ve blogged quite a bit on statistics and their use. I’ve discussed the misuse of stats, how to discern which stats are good and which are not, and even presented some new research on pastors’ views of the election and the use of stats.

You’ve responded with good questions and robust discussion (especially on my Facebook page). Through it all, I found a common theme in your tweets and comments: Where do I find accurate stats? While I can’t vouch for every research study conducted at every research firm under the sun, there are many trustworthy sources out there. You know their names, and I consider many of their leaders personal friends.

Since many of you use stats (as the research I presented yesterday showed) and want trustworthy ones to use, I thought I would share these stats I compiled for the Exponential Conference held this past April. These are as up-to-date as I could make them. But like any stat, they could be updated and changed. So before you use them, be discerning and…

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Throughout 2012, we have been releasing groundbreaking new research from LifeWay Research’s Transformational Discipleship study. In the study, we were able to identify eight attributes which consistently show up in the lives of believers who are progressing in spiritual maturity.

The latest data released focuses on the need to make personal, sacrificial decisions in order to better obey Christ, or as we have titled it “Obeying God and Denying Self”. The study found that less than one-third of churchgoers strongly agree they are following through in specific aspects of obedience.

From the release:

The survey reveals 64 percent of churchgoers agree with the statement: “A Christian must learn to deny himself/herself in order to serve Christ.” Nineteen percent disagree with the statement.

The survey measures confession of sins and asking God for forgiveness as one component of ‘Obeying God and Denying Self.’ When asked how often, if at all, they personally “confess…sins and wrongdoings to God and ask for forgiveness,” 39 percent indicate every day and 27 percent say at least a few times a week. Eight percent of respondents say they rarely or never confess sins and wrongdoings…

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Share Your Faith AppNew social technologies have enabled people to share their faith at unprecedented rates, which makes this a great time in which to pass along tools and resources to the people in the pews to help them along. One such great tool is the How to Share Your Faith app. It’s free, and it’s available on a variety of platforms.

Check out the demo video:

Read More About the App

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Jesus Film Mobile App ScreenshotThe story of Jesus Christ is one that is unchanging, no matter how you present it. But technology and our way of communicating is changing, and so is the way we share the gospel. Through a link on any social media site, or via a text message, or even chatting over coffee with someone, we can share the Bible with others. But what if there were a simpler way to witness to others at your fingertips?

Literacy rates, electricity or even speaking different languages is no longer a barrier for sharing the gospel with others. The JESUS film project has created a way to ease the burden of how to share Jesus’ story with everyone. Jesus Film Media app, available on iOS now and soon out for Android, is just the way to do it. This new app allows users to access the complete library of The JESUS Film Project, some 66,000 video clips. Providing the original 2-our film, JESUS, with 61 teaching segments in more than 1,150 languages; Magdalena, The Story of Jesus and My Last Day, all subsequent films about…

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When I led a church consultation company, one of the more common facets of my consultation was an on-site visit to a worship service. The person I hired to conduct the visit could know nothing about the church. Ideally this “mystery guest” would be an unchurched person, so that he or she could give an honest assessment from the perspective of someone who knows little about churches.

I requested that the mystery guest evaluate different areas of the visit, but I was always most interested in the overall score. They submitted a score of one to seven. The lowest score meant that the visit was terrible, and they would not return under any circumstances. I recently retrieved some of these “one” reports. Inevitably there was one event that took place that made the visit so bad. Let me share eight of those events in eight different terrible church visits.

1. “I was asked to introduce myself in the worship service. There were probably 150 or so present, so all the members knew I was a guest. I had no choice but to speak up and…

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CoachingMy son, Matthew, began playing football at a young age.  He was doing ok and getting in the games but it was not until he had the right coach that he excelled.  As a senior he dominated defensive linemen and I have very vivid memories of him opening up gaping holes for their running backs.  He got all kinds of honors and was recruited by several colleges.  He has often commented on that coach who believed in him, built a relationship with him, and pulled skills out of him he thought were there but wasn’t sure.  Yes, he had the size and skill but the game changer was a coach who invested time and energy into him.

This principle can easily be seen in sports but it is even more important in the local church.  There are many people who want to serve and believe they can be used of God but they need someone to invest their time and energy in them.  A good coach can be one of the most important high impact volunteer leaders in your ministry.  Think of all the examples we have in the New Testament…

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Leading the CrowdMission builds community.

If you try to build community with no mission you will end up playing at life and going through the motions.

It’s the ascent up the mountain, checking gear, adjusting to breathing different than everybody else in the valley, and making sure those taking the journey with you aren’t getting left behind that will develop you to peak potential. But it will also surface your fears.

And this is how your leadership grows!

You alone have the power more than anyone else to wreck your journey. The potential of self-sabotage is your greatest threat. You are wise to be afraid.

Notice the fear. Let it be a compass.

Because if you are going to take significant hills with your life you need to notice the fear. The fear reveals a place you will wreck your leadership.

1. Go to Jesus and ask for clarity for what your fear really is.

2. Wait for Him to speak/lead/comfort, etc your fear.

3. Move forward with a deeper passion knowing that you can be certain your identity is in Him.

4. You will never have 100% certainty in your mission but because of #1-3 you can be…

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