Archives For Missions

Most church planters who have kids ask the question at some point, is church planting really the best for my kids?

I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience, the answer is yes. Here’s why it matters: because answering that question with a yes could mean that you plant the church you’re thinking about. Even more, it could be the best thing for your children.

Now God could raise up a church planter from a stone if he wanted, so he doesn’t need you to do it. But he designed us to pass on our faith to the next generation through church planting, among other ways.

My father and I talk about how God redeemed our family a little bit in Dedicated: Training Your Children to Trust and Follow Jesus, but I wanted to share something here that I’ve never written on—the lessons I learned specifically as a church planter’s son.

My parents answered the question, is it best for my children? Yes. In fact, one of the major reasons my parents wanted to plant a church was because they thought it was best for us. They thought, given our circumstance, it…

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Our culture is changing. Things that were common only 20 years ago are becoming impossible. Things that were rare 20 years ago are becoming common place. Disaster seems to strike nearly every day somewhere in America or in the world.

Our world is changing and it’s not becoming more like Christ.

I do, though, believe that there’s hope.

There’s always hope with Jesus.

A big part of that hope is the Church. The Church is still God’s plan to reach humanity. However, as the Church, we stand at a crossroads of opportunity. One way takes us down the same path some of the church has been down for quite some time. That path says, “Look at us and see us. We’ll impress you into believing like us.” That path worked in the past and still works to some degree. However, there’s another path of opportunity. It’s the path that seems to give the Church and those outside of the Church real hope. It’s the path that sheds new light on what really makes Christianity special. There are some real advantages to the Gospel message and those trying to get it out.

Here are 4 advantages the Church has…

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Leader

Leaders are always defined by self-imposed standards. I’m not talking about standards set by other people, but standards they set for themselves. Great leaders always expect more from themselves than they do from their followers. They put forth more effort as well. That’s leadership.

If you were to look through the New Testament for the phrase “make every effort,” you’d find it six times. They represent six important vows we need to make as leaders. I believe these six vows will lead to an effective and productive ministry.

1) Vow to maintain integrity

“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. No one is perfect. To be spotless and blameless means to live with integrity. How do you maintain integrity if you’re not perfect? You need to be transparent. A person of integrity is not claiming to have it all together in every area. On the contrary, the person of integrity is willing to be open about their strengths and weaknesses.

Having integrity also means living what you say you believe. You model what you teach. And you tell the truth,…

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Life on MissionThe front page of USA Today read, “Protestants lose majority status in the U.S.” It just happened to catch my eye as I walked past a newsstand. I thought to myself, “Okay, but what could have taken its place? Catholicism is dying – is this about Mormonism?”

The article explained that Protestant numbers are down from 53% in 2007 to 48% today.  But these Protestants didn’t switch to a new religious brand. They just let go of any faith affiliation or label. According to the Pew Forum, one in five Americans now claims no religious identity. None. That means there are now more “nones” in the U.S. than any other protestant denomination.

Warren Bird from Leadership Network concludes that: “More than 1 out of every 3 adults (33%) in America is unchurched. This means they haven’t attended a religious service of any type during the past year. This represents some 125 million Americans. That number alone would be the 10th largest country in the world!” (September 9, 2012, leadnet.org)

Does that mean the U.S. is now a mission field? I think the more appropriate question is WHEN WAS IT NOT?

In Acts 1, Jesus charged the first disciples with the responsibility of…

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“The New Testament is the only model we need!” There, I went ahead and said that for you. It’s out of the way. For those pastors and church leaders who highly value the New Testament AND actually want to accomplish something meaningful, read on…

Every church follows a model. Most of the church leaders who criticize following a model follow a model that tends to criticize models. Follow that? There are traditional models with an age-graded Sunday School, a morning worship service, evening worship service, and a midweek prayer meeting, plus some other programs. W. A. Criswell (one of my biggest heroes) was a pioneer in this model in the 1940’s. Back then, grading ministries by age was innovative.

Other churches follow the “simple church” model. They have weekend worship, small groups, and that’s about it. The ministry and mission is carried out by the groups and the individuals in them. It works well for those who do it right. There are also house churches, and still a few quarter-time churches that only have a Pastor once per month. There’s the Amish and Mennonite model – very community-centric. You get the picture.

We…

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Gaining by LosingPeople are leaving the church J.D. Greear pastors. Big givers. Key volunteers. Some of his best leaders and friends. And that’s exactly how he wants it to be.

When Jesus gave his disciples the Great Commission, he revealed that the key for reaching the world with the gospel is found in sending, not gathering. Though many churches focus time and energy on attracting people and counting numbers, the real mission of the church isn’t how many people you can gather. It’s about training up disciples and then sending them out. The true measure of success for a church should be its sending capacity, not its seating capacity.

But there is a cost to this. To see ministry multiply, we must release the seeds God has placed in our hands. And to do that, we must ask ourselves whether we are concerned more with building our kingdom or God’s.

In Gaining By Losing, J.D. Greear unpacks ten plumb lines that you can use to reorient your church’s priorities around God’s mission to reach a lost world. The good news is that you don’t need to choose between gathering or sending. Effective churches…

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Second Time Guest

My Experience…

Ten years ago my family and I moved into a new home and neighborhood, and used the summer to search for a new church home. In 8 of the 10 churches we visited, I filled out a visitor card or signed a guest register. (Two churches had no way for visitors to identify themselves.)  Of the churches visited, 6 of 8 sent a “Thank you for visiting” letter, and 2 had a representative phone us the following week.

My family especially enjoyed three of the churches and decided to go back for another visit. I again completed the visitor information and, the following week, checked the mailbox for a follow-up. Monday … Tuesday … Wednesday … no letter … Thursday … Friday … Saturday … nothing. No card. No call. No contact.

We returned to the same three churches for a third visit in our search for a church home. Visitor card? Completed.  Left with the church? Check. Received any follow-up contacts the next week? None.

My Questions…

Do you have a way to let your first-time guests know that you are glad they came? A letter? Phone call? Post card? Hopefully so. But what…

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I’ve heard the story of a man who was criticized for his evangelism methodology by a fellow believer. He was told that his methods weren’t personal enough, too mechanistic, and they would never work.

The man, saddened by the criticism, thought for a few moments about the challenge leveled in his direction. With great care and genuine concern in his voice he responded, “I much prefer my method of doing evangelism to your way of not doing it.”

Now that’s an evangelism mic drop moment.

I’ve seen that credited to D.L. Moody and James Kennedy, but regardless of who said it the story reminds us of our situation today.

The Need

In a culture that is quickly changing—one that has openly embraced secularism and spirituality without any sort of biblical foundation—evangelism is shockingly and sadly unengaged by many Christians. The people around us are increasingly secular, and our evangelistic efforts are on a downward trend.

That means we have a big problem, friends.

All Christians love evangelism, as long as someone else is doing it.

At LifeWay Research, we have analyzed the evangelistic behavior of Christians almost ad…

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Igniting a MovementWhat can American church planters learn from our international counterparts?

As director of training and leadership development for India Gospel League (IGL), Benjamin Chellapandian (“Pastor Benny”) oversees 7,000 church-planting pastors in rural India and Sri Lanka who over the past 25 years have planted roughly 70,000 churches. Recently, Chellapandian spoke to a U.S. church about God’s plan and purpose for growth, focusing on his observations from the Book of Acts. Below is an excerpt from his message:

In past years, the church has discovered that to fulfill God’s plan and purpose, we need to grow numerically. Much of that teaching comes from the Book of Acts’s account of the birth and growth of the early church. If we want to learn about planting churches that grow and accomplish Jesus’s mission, we don’t have to look any further than to the examples of the churches in Acts. I have learned (and continue to learn) so much from the early churches about planting churches. In Acts 1 after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus is teaching His disciples about the Kingdom of God and tells them to “wait in Jerusalem.” Then just before He ascends into…

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Gospelize” is an old English word for evangelize. It’s a cool word with an old flair that engages our postmodern teenagers with the ancient quest of going into all the world to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19.) If you really want to get your teenagers engaged in telling “the greatest story ever told that’s hardly ever told” (to quote my good friend Propaganda) then here are five simple action steps you can take right away in your youth ministry:

1. Spend more time in prayer.

For the last few years we’ve been programming into our Dare 2 Share weekend conferences an extended time in prayer. These mini concerts of prayer have been an exciting and somewhat surprising realization for me. I’ve realized that, given the right context, teenagers down deep inside really want to pray. What if you took 10 minutes of every meeting, maybe right in the middle of a worship set, and allowed teenagers to pray in small groups, silently and even had a few come up to an open mic? Or, like one youth leader in Chicago, get your teenagers in a big circle at the end of the…

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I see a lot of church advertising these days. Many churches are utilizing billboards, print ads, and social media for the purpose of outreach. I love the concept of utilizing creative spaces to advance the kingdom. However, there is a something unsettling about public ads that advertise with slogans such as:

  • “In depth preaching,”
  • “Contemporary and traditional services,”
  • “Bible studies for the whole family.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love all of those things. Preaching, corporate worship, and Bible study are all high on my list. And no, I don’t think the church should hide what we are doing.

However, it strikes me odd when a church’s outreach efforts advertise elements that only believers would be interested in. That doesn’t mean unbelievers don’t need it –it just means they don’t know they need it –yet.

As I see it, this kind of advertising implies one of three things about the church:

  • The church assumes we live in culture familiar with Christianity. Churches must realize that we no longer have the luxury of living in a culture that is familiar and friendly to the church. Reaching unbelievers requires us to think like a missionary overseas attempting to reach a…

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