Archives For Missions

A seismic shift is taking place in American church facilities, a shift that will become even more noticeable in the years to come. Church worship centers or sanctuaries will become smaller than they were the past 40 years. As church leaders decide to build, a large number of them will decide to build smaller than most of their predecessors have in previous years.

The trend for the past four decades has been to build increasingly larger worship centers. And while the large worship center will not disappear, you will notice more intentionality to build or buy smaller. Why? As I look at the church landscape in America, I see seven reasons, and only two of them are related to declining attendance. I will note those two first.

  1. Decreasing frequency of attendance among church members.  I noted this trend in a previous article. The informal definition of an “active” church member a decade ago was a member who attended worship services an average of three to four times a…

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1. It’s like sharing with a person who is broke that they just won the Lotto (only better!)

2. You enter a struggle with the forces of darkness in a battle over a soul’s eternal destination (Epic!)

3. When you share the gospel you are put in a position where you are forced to rely on the Holy Spirit for wisdom (James 1:5,6), courage (Ephesians 6:19,20), and clarity (Colossians 4:4.)

4. It’s like sharing with a cancer victim that you just discovered the cure for cancer (only better!)

5. Evangelism is the communication of the greatest love story in the history of the world (sorry Romeo!)

6. It’s like telling an orphan that they’ve been adopted into the family of the richest person in the universe (well, that’s exactly what it is.)

7. The pressure is not on you to convert them but to share the gospel clearly. wisely and lovingly. The Holy Spirit does the rest!

By the way if you don’t know how to share the gospel download the amazing Dare 2 Share app, watch the videos and you’ll be…

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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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