Archives For Missions

ServingWe called ours We Love NWA because that’s how people refer to our community. Whatever you call it, we’re glad we took a weekend away from having a worship service in our theater to serve our neighbors. We’re not the first, by any means to have a weekend to “be” the church instead of “doing” church. Other churches have cancelled their regular weekend worship time to go serve in various capacities. But why?

As we geared up for our big weekend, contacted local charitable organizations, and signed up volunteers, we kept the conversation going among our leadership about why we were doing this to begin with. Ultimately, we decided the concept reflected the culture of our church very well, and would accomplish some big goals for us. Let me clarify first, however, the reasons we ruled out:

  • We will not do this simply to attract attention. Attention is valuable, but is never the big goal.
  • We will not do this to “get people to come to church.” It wasn’t about serving in hopes of the return favor of a visit.
  • We will not do this to “take a break” from worship. If this isn’t…

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questionmarkI’ve asked advice from a lot of people– and greatly benefitted from it. My belief is that I can best learn from those who have gone before me. So, I often seek such people out because I am convinced that one of the greatest ways to learn is through seeking the counsel of others.

Most of us quickly learn we need to regularly engage with certain key people (e.g. coaches, mentors, professional peers) from whom we can seek advice, encouragement, and feedback on issues we are facing in life and ministry. The difficulty, however, is that we are often ill-prepared when seeking advice from whom we desire to learn but do not know particularly well. Below are a few of the things I have learned about being a good steward of time and resources when seeking out advice.

Information or Relationship

Is an advice conversation primarily for relationship-building conversation, or for information-transference? There are certainly times when you should lay the groundwork for a deeper relationship. But many times when asking for advice, especially with someone you are meeting for the first time, you simply need to be prepared to…

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By Brett Eastman

The Bible says “Pray to the Lord of the Harvest”.  We are all called to be shepherds and to impact the lives of others.  I don’t do this as often as I should, but this a challenge for all Christians.  There are many simple ways for people to grow as a shepherd.  The number one thing you can do as a leader is modeling.  The fact that you show up is the number one training instrument in the church in America.  Do you realize that?  Just the fact that you show up and don’t act like the Bible answer person, that you’re genuine and authentic and reflect God’s love.  Each week you show up, and if they don’t show up, you call them.  You’re modeling the functional role of a shepherd.

Another way in a small group to shepherd another is to rotate leadership.  This is one of the most strategic things you can do to help develop shepherds in a circle that you’re in, and help to take a load of responsibility off of you.  It’ll be a heck of a lot more fun too, rotating the leadership.  One…

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I am often amused when I hear myself identified as an expert in any area. If I am a perceived expert, it is because I have had the wonderful opportunity to listen to thousands of people over the past few decades. They are the experts; I am little more than an interested reporter.

Though much of this information could be regarded as dismal, my ultimate assessment is not that pessimistic. I believe in the God of miracles. If my conclusions focused on human ability and goodness, I would have little hope. But my conclusions presume the God of creation is on His throne.

For now, in this list of 10 reasons we have not reached the unchurched, let us focus on what is wrong. Let us look with stark honesty and candor at the ineffectiveness of many American believers when it comes to sharing their faith. And in coming weeks, let us look at reversing the trend through God’s power.

1. Spiritual lethargy. One of the main reasons many Christians do not share their faith is simply explained by the word disobedience. Spiritual lethargy takes place when…

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Large ChurchesThis past summer, while not at my church, I preached at a few megachurches — James River Assembly of God (Springfield, Mo.), Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minneapolis), and Christ Fellowship (Miami). At every place the question was discussed, “How can we live on mission more effectively?” They wanted to live on mission while being a megachurch. Megachurches want to be missional.

Another outcome I’d love to see is the end of “class envy” and “class superiority” in all sized churches. Some small churches or anti-megas believe large churches are a blight on America. In turn, some megachurches sneer at small churches with a spirit of superiority because any church in America smaller than them “just doesn’t get it.”

We need each other! The enemy is not another church; the enemy is the enemy (Ephesians 6:10-17). And if it takes all kinds of churches to reach all types of people, then we all have a unique place in God’s mission. Paul gave a principle that supports our need for each other to the Romans:

For I want very much to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual…

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The idea of clarity, simplicity, and the gospel has been following me around lately:

  • Last night in one our coaching cohorts (FYI, a couple spots are available for the next cohort) we were discussing the idea of clarity in ministry, and the need to refine our defining values before we can share them with those we are leading.
  • A few weeks ago I took part in a training program that started off by asking us to share the gospel with someone in no more than ninety seconds.
  • This weekend I listened to an interview that Craig Groeschel did with Bill Hybels, where Bill challenged people to use five words to express the Christian message… Bill’s words were Love, Evil, Remedy, Choice, Restoration.

Clarity is powerful.  Being able to clearly state what, and why, you believe allows you to act boldly and decisively, both as you lead and follow.  With all the marinading I have been doing on clarity, I decided that I would take the challenge and express the Christian message in five of my own words:

  • Love: I would agree with Hybels that it all starts with love.  A loving…

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Recently at a LifeWay chapel service, we hosted Dr. Lamar Vest, who is the President and CEO of the American Bible Society. I had the privilege of introducing Dr. Vest, and, while doing so, I shared a bit of my own background and how I was impacted by the American Bible Society.

As a new young believer, I would order Bibles in different languages from the American Bible Society to share with friends who spoke those different languages. I also collected a few of those Bibles on my own, and valued and appreciated the contribution of the American Bible Society to the distribution of the word. The American Bible Society continues its ongoing passion for making the Bible available, understandable, and read by people all over the world. It has a particular interest in Bible engagement, not just Bible distribution, but how people read, dig deeper and are changed by the Bible.

However, what many people do not know is that the American Bible Society is behind a Bible translation, and there are actually missiological impulses that undergird their translation.

After I introduced…

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I was deeply saddened to hear the news about the passing of Calvin Miller. It was always a joy to learn from him.

A native of Enid, Oklahoma, Dr. Miller was a faithful servant of the church. Though he only pastored two churches in his lifetime, his 25-years of service at Westside Church in Omaha, Nebraska, shaped his ministry and that of many others. Under his leadership, Westside grew from 10 members to over 2,500 when he left to join the faculty of Southwestern Seminary in 1991. Since 1999, Dr. Miller had served at Beeson Divinity School (one of my alma maters).

A prolific writer, he authored more than forty books and countless poems and free-lance articles. Dr. Miller was deeply committed to the evangelism, apologetics, and cultural engagement for the cause of Christ. He even contributed a “Letter to the Church” for the Mission of God Study Bible (that essay is below). When he asked me to endorse his book, Letters to a Young Pastor, I felt like a kid was asked to endorse a celebrity. (You should get the book.)

He was never one…

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Listen to the words of Jesus on being sent…

  • Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work.” John 4:34
  • “I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 5:30
  • “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38
  • “I know Him; because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” John 7:29
  • “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” John 8:29
  • “We must work the works of Him who sent Me, as long as it is day; night is coming, when no man can work.” John 9:4
  • And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And he who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me.” John…

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Jesus said, “Go and make disciples.”  You’ve heard it.  You’ve studied it.  You’ve preached it.  But, have you ever defined it?  What, exactly, is a “disciple”?

May I suggest that, for all practical purposes, a “disciple” is synonymous with an “ideal church member.”  Or, at least, it should be.

If you agree, then try this exercise with your church leaders: List the qualities of an ideal member of your congregation.  How should such a person act?  What should he say?  How should she feel?

Once you have listed the qualities of a disciple, examine your church’s programming to see how—or if—you are helping people reach this ideal.  After all, it seems reasonable that church activities should lead people toward some goal…

Here are nine characteristics I suggest could begin your thinking about the characteristics of an ideal member in your church …

An ideal (assimilated) member:

1.   …understands and identifies with the goals of your church.  Goals are what church leaders have determined to accomplish in the coming year.  How many of your constituents could list at least two of your church’s goals for the coming year? …

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Guest column by Jon D. Wilke

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — When it comes to discipleship, those who regularly attend church struggle with sharing Christ with non-Christians, according to recent study of church going American Protestants.

The study conducted by LifeWay Research found that 80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.

These distressing results came from an extensive discipleship research project focused on measuring spiritual maturity in individuals. Overall, LifeWay Research found eight biblical attributes consistently evident in the lives of maturing believers. Of those eight, “Sharing Christ” has the lowest average score among Protestant church attendees.

Three-quarters of churchgoers say they feel comfortable in their ability to effectively communicate the Gospel, while 12 percent say they don’t feel comfortable telling others about their faith.

Despite a vast majority believing it’s their duty to share their faith and having the confidence to do so, 25 percent say they have shared their faith once or twice over the…

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Setting up task groups is a great way to develop a growing number of faithful volunteers in almost any area of ministry.  A task group is distinct in that it isn’t just a traditional fellowship-building group or a team of people simply fulfilling a task.  By definition, task groups attempt to accomplish both fellowship and ministry at the same time.

The principle mission of a task group is to set aside a 30-45 minute group time to develop the spiritual and relational life of each team member.  People tend to join a group because of the task they want to work on, but ultimately they will stay because of the mutual caring among the group members.  Being intentional about developing the sense of community through a designed group time strengthens and improves the overall health of the ministry.

Most of the principles used to develop effective traditional small groups can be transferred to working with task-oriented groups.  However, several features will especially enhance the development of task groups.

1. Encourage groups to meet before or after their serving time.  No matter how frequent the serving…

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