Archives For Missions

Reaching MillennialsI recently had a conversation with a church leader about how to reverse the declining attendance of their 20-somethings audience.  This same conversation is most-likely happening at thousands of churches across the globe.

There has been much information written on this subject.  Most solutions to retaining this generation fall into four categories:

  • Creating a new type of creative and more relevant worship service.
  • Becoming more cause-minded.
  • Incorporating social media.
  • Being authentic and real.

While I agree these four solutions are necessary, we need to look even deeper into millennials and how they are feeling.  Many experts feel 20-somethings are apathetic.

I want to propose to you that millennials are not just apathetic.  Millennials are angry.

This theory flows from a September 2013 Fast Company article featuring comments from Nancy Lublin, CEO of Something.org, and Umair Haque, director of Havas Media Labs.  They are experts in helping companies adapt and better understand social change, causes, the needs of millennials and how to more effectively engage them as customers.

Their insights are something all pastors and church leaders can learn from in creating churches angry millennials love to attend.

  • Angry Millennials Will Love Churches Who Admit The World Is Broken – Whether it is…

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Requirements for Church PlantersStarting new churches is one of the best ways to reach new people and introduce them to Jesus. When done right, with the right people, in the right place, and at the right time, God can do remarkable things through what is commonly called “church planting.”

In the past thirty years or so of ministry, I’ve had the pleasure of being directly involved as the senior pastor in two church plants and indirectly involved as a team member in three others. I’ve watched it done with God’s favor and wisdom, and I’ve also seen it done poorly too. Through all of these experiences, I’ve learned a lot.

There are many qualifications for success, but here are what I consider to be the top ten non-negotiable requirements for those called to plant a church:

  1. A clear call to church planting which is confirmed by other leaders and pastors who know them and have worked closely with them.
  2. A supportive spouse and a stable, healthy marriage and family.
  3. A strong emotional resilience. (Without it, they won’t likely survive.)
  4. A heart for evangelism with a proven gift and ability to reach the lost.
  5. A capable teacher who is…

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Young Adults Leaving ChurchKANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) — Why young adults leave the church is one of the most vexing questions facing the church today.

A LifeWay Christian Resources survey from 2007 indicated that 70 percent of 18–22-year-olds stop attending church for at least one year. Surveys by The Barna Group repeatedly have shown that a majority of 20-year-olds leave church, often never to return.

Citing a recent study by the Brookings Institution, author Rachel Held Evans recently suggested, in essence, that millennials are leaving evangelical churches in search of more progressive fellowships because of dissonance with the more conservative doctrinal stances and cultural convictions of their former congregations.

Yet it seems to reason that if compromising biblical convictions attracted millennials, then mainline denominations would be teeming with young adults. On the contrary, mainline churches are proof positive that liberal theology does not magnetically draw young adults to church.

Causation for young adults exiting the church has been studied for decades, yet little has been accomplished in the way of reversing it. As a Gospel preacher, seminary president and father of five young children, to me this is more than a theoretical concern.

At the risk…

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The New Testament Book of Acts includes a story from the life of Philip that can give us guidance today as we seek to reach unbelievers with the gospel.

Philip had been ministering in Samaria when an angel appeared to him with a different assignment. He should leave Samaria, and travel south to a road connecting Jerusalem with Gaza. Luke comments that it was called “the desert road” (Acts 8:26). On this road, he came upon a political official returning home to Ethiopia.

Philip’s attention was taken as the man was sitting in his chariot reading audibly from Isaiah’s writings. The narrative tells us the official—a eunuch in Queen Candace’s court—had been to Jerusalem to worship. Doubtless, he had heard from the passage but did not have understanding of it.

The man’s lack of understanding was the bridge Philip walked over to start a gospel conversation. You can check out the entire story in Acts 8:26-40.

As we saw a few weeks back, people today still go to the Bible when they have problems. Among those surveyed, 42% had turned to the Bible within the past year to help them deal with pressure. One-quarter of…

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Old ChurchHow did 120 Jewish followers in the first century turn into a multi-ethnic movement of over 33 million followers by 350 AD?

Immediately we know they preached the Gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a given.  Sociologist and comparative religion professor, Dr. Rodney Stark in His book, The Rise of Christianity, outlines three things the early church did to bring about the greatest movement planet earth has ever seen.

I propose that as America becomes more post-Christian, the 3 things the early church did, are 3 things the church in America must do as well.

1)      THE EARLY CHURCH TOOK CARE OF THE SICK AND POOR

Plagues in the first and second century had catastrophic effects on the western world. Marcus Aurelius, Roman Empire from AD 161 to 180, said, “So many people died that cities and villages in Italy and in the provinces were abandoned and fell into ruin.”  (Stark, The Rise of Christianity, 76.)

Dionysius, the Bishop of Alexandria, wrote about how the Christian community embodied the Gospel by nursing the sick, and even the dying, while the pagans abandoned the sick.  He noted that the pagans “throw their sick into the…

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In the video Frost says, “We need to adopt a posture of listening to the neighborhood, or community, or city to which we have been sent. And it is one of the least practiced skills…

We turn up with our pre-fabricated mode of church. We know exactly what ministries or programs we’re going to offer, and we place it in that neighborhood or city whether they want it or like it or not.

But what would be different if we moved closely into intimate relationship with a neighborhood or a city and we adopted a posture where we were listening – genuinely listening – wanting to know what it is that they want or need or in what ways we can in-flesh the Gospel right under their very noses?

We simply want to transplant what we did somewhere else and bring it to your neighborhood whether you like it or not. And those days must be over if we are serious about embracing a missional-incarnational stance.”

Via Verge

An advocate and champion for movements of gospel-centered Missional Communities, Verge Network exists for church leaders, students, entrepreneurs, artists, urban innovators, business leaders, community development specialists, non-profit leaders,…

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Father’s Day was very special.  My family was planning to attend the 11:15 AM service with my wife’s parents at North Metro Church where they attend.  However, located just six miles to the east of North Metro is Piedmont Church of Marietta, GA.

Led by the incomparable Ike Reighard, Piedmont is one of my favorite churches in America.  Ike has been a dear friend for 15 years and is always a privilege to reconnect with.

On Saturday, Associate Pastor Marlon Longacre (another dear friend for 15 years) advertised an event called DadFest on his Facebook page.  In response to churches traditionally beating up on dads on Father’s Day for all we are doing wrong, DadFest celebrated all the positive contributions we bring.

DadFest included a classic car show, inflatables for the children, health screenings, hamburgers and hot dogs, and they even gave away Green Egg b-b-q equipment.

My family attended Piedmont at 9:30 AM where we celebrated DadFest prior to arriving at North Metro in time for their 11:15 AM service.  We called this our Church Road Trip. 

That evening we reviewed our day and the consensus was that Piedmont was the friendliest church we had attended in a long time.  As…

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Dear Church Planter,

do you feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster?

Some days you feel like Jesus is going to plant the greatest church in the history of the church through you.

Some days you feel like your massive inadequacies are going sink the church plant like the Titanic.

May your fear, inadequacies, and lack of resources cause to fall into the arms of the One who is your courage, who is your adequacies, and who is unlimited in His resources, Jesus.

While preparing a future sermon series, while listening to Google Play, I came across the song “Bullet” by Mat Kearney.

Let these words inspire you.

Yesterday I was sitting recalling reminiscing
Trying to remember whenever there was nobody listening
Before the hugging and the kissing, the booing and the hissing
All I had was just a vision, all I had was my ambition
Your love without condition kept me swinging when I’m missing
My eyes upton the prize kept me striving for the mission
When I was down for the count, falling out of the commission
I can hear your voice now screaming out, ‘son, listen’
Get on up, don’t give up, though you struck opposition
Time to buck all that stuff, find out what’s your condition
Like a pull in…

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Newspring Unleash ConferenceAlmost 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…

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On Tuesday morning, June 11, 2013, I presented a motion at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention about the issue of mental health challenges. From that point until late last night, I encountered people all over the convention center who stopped to thank me, many with tears in their eyes, for standing in the gap for those who struggle daily with mental illness. Additionally, emails, twitter messages, and text messages were expressed.

Why Were These People Passionate With Their Gratitude?

They were passionate and thankful because their lives have been interrupted by the challenge of mental illness. What was expressed?

*People losing children and fathers to suicide

*Pastors with depression

*Parents dealing with major issues with their children like bipolar disorder

*Parents with special needs children

Imagine…these are numerous people overwhelmed with gratitude for presenting compassion for the least of these.

What Did I Present To The Southern Baptist Convention?

I presented the following motion to the Southern Baptist Convention’s 2013 Order of Business Committee:

Mr. President and messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention, since 58 million Americans and 450 million people globally suffer with the enormous challenge I bring before you today, as well as the world needing us to address this issue, I make the…

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I just can’t believe it is already the middle of June.  Busy, busy, busy!!!  Every season has certain rhythms with summer being the time of vacations and trying to get away.  We must redeem even the summer time by taking full advantage of the opportunities that God gives us.  Are we doing that?  Are we taking full, complete, total advantage of the doors HE is opening?  What goals has God placed upon your heart for the next three to six months and what are you going to do to make them become a reality?

Please do not think I am talking about being busier because all of us are busy enough but we need to make sure we are doing the necessary things God has called us to do.  This is not about doing more, but rather, about doing the right things in the life rhythms we are already in.  Thom Rainer put it this way.  “God calls us to make a transformational impact on the world, not provide a carnival of frenetic activity for ourselves.”

This is one of the reasons I believe in a coaching/mentoring relationship so strongly.  All of us need a…

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I’m currently reading Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church by Mark DeYmaz. It’s one of several books I’ve read on the subject because it’s a big area of concern for me as a Pastor who is planting a church in a community that is diversifying much more quickly than the churches within it.

But I hope the multi-ethnic conversation among church leaders is short-lived. Why? Because we tend not to spend a lot of time talking about things we have figured out. You don’t hear church leaders saying things like, “We need people to be givers, so let’s encourage more churches to take offerings,” or “Ya know, we just need more fellowship time – let’s encourage churches to have potlucks.” We’re done with those conversations, at least for now.

My prayer is that planting and leading churches that are ethnically representative of the diversity in their surrounding communities will become so normal and commonplace that we don’t have to talk about a strategy for getting it done anymore. But in the meantime… we need to talk about getting it done. If your church leadership hasn’t had a conversation about this, it’s time.

It’s time to evaluate by asking the…

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