Archives For Missions

100 LargestOutreach Magazine just released their Outreach 100 issue for 2013. LifeWay Researchdoes the research for this issue. I was particularly encouraged to see the list focus especially on fastest growing churches. You can subscribe to the magazine here. Here is my article with a bit of analysis of some of the fastest-growing churches in America.


Each year at LifeWay Research, we work together with Outreach Magazine to create the Outreach 100 listings of the country’s Fastest-Growing and Largest Churches. On one hand, these lists are one of the most anticipated things we do each year. People seem to eagerly await the lists so they can learn from these churches about what God is doing to build his kingdom across the United States. On the other hand, there are those who complain about the lists. They seem to think this is a way of exalting “big churches” in an effort to make them look better than the churches that are not on the list, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Remember folks: facts are our friends.

I love to learn. I have spent a significant portion of my adult life in the…

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When we planted Grace Church in a local movie theater two years ago, we assumed that one day we would have a more permanent location. Meeting in a theater is not without challenges, and we assumed we’d eventually have a place for offices and more permanent meeting space, etc.

We also had plans (which are currently in process) of sending out a planter and were excited about planting a new church. We think it is essential to plant and to do it early so that multiplication is part of the life of our church.

We think it is essential to plant and to do it early so that multiplication is part of the life of our church.

However, we did not expect that we would be multiplying our local campus so soon.

None of us could have expected how that would happen. But last week, we announced the launch of a new second campus of Grace Church after Indian Hills Church voted to dissolve and transfer their assets to Grace Church. Their desire was for Grace to start another campus there—and we are glad to do so.

So, now we are launching a new campus. In other…

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StatsI am a trend watcher, particularly among churches in America. I am not particularly insightful or smart; I simply listen and speak to many churches. In fact, through my travels, blog, and other social media, I hear from thousands of church leaders every week.

The three trends I’ve recently noticed are not new. What is new is that a relatively few churches embraced these concepts a few years ago. Today, they are becoming normative. These three approaches have moved from the category of “exception” to the category of “mainstream.”

Changing Trend #1: Entry Point or New Member Classes

When I wrote High Expectations in 1999, I talked about the very early trend of churches requiring a class before granting membership to someone. In other words, a membership class was an emerging facet of expectations for church members.

Today, membership classes are pervasive. In an informal survey I did this year of churches with over 250 in worship attendance, more than 80 percent had some type of entry point class as a requisite for membership. In 1999, that number would have been less than 10 percent.

Changing Trend #2: Churches with Multiple Venues

I have to admit that the growth…

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Planting New Gospel ChurchesDid you know that only 4% of 46,000 Southern Baptist Churches are directly involved and connected to planting new gospel churches? If this is true in a missional convention of churches like the Southern Baptist Convention, I wonder what it is like among all evangelical denominations or networks of churches? Yes, when a Southern Baptist Church contributes through the Cooperative Program of the convention, these contributing churches are indirectly involved in church planting. I am calling for churches to not only do this, but directly be connected to planting new gospel churches. Why?

Gospel Churches Plant Gospel Churches

Since January, we have been preaching through the book of Acts. Again and again, we see the biblical precedence of planting churches. When the apostles went into towns, cities, and regions where the gospel had never been before, they won people to Christ and planted a gospel church immediately.

Gospel advancement and gospel community were both a significant part of the churches discussed in the book of Acts. It appears, at times, that it is difficult to separate the advancement of the gospel and the planting of a new gospel community or church. For…

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Role of Campus PastorThis past week I was contacted by a minister that was getting ready to start his new role of Campus Pastor at a multisite church in 2014. He asked me to share with him what my week looked like, my responsibilities and explain the role of the Campus Pastor. Believe it or not, this is something I do often and will be doing more in the future as a resource and partner on my friend Scott Williams’ new website:

Basically, I told this future Campus Pastor that it all comes down to people. I spend my time with, for, helping, serving, leading, training and equipping people. How is this different from a Senior Pastor? I guess I would say it’s the amount of extra time I have for investing in personal relationships. A good portion of a Senior Pastor’s week is locked away in a study preparing a sermon for Sunday. That’s the hard reality of his job. I don’t have that pressure. What I do have is time. Time for people.

I counsel, I shepherd, I lead, I invest, I build teams, I work on strategy, vision,…

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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, 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.


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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