Archives For Missions

“He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.” The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?’ Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.’” John 4:4-10

Though most of our personal evangelism probably happens in the context of some kind of relationship (friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, classmate, teammate, etc) there are countless opportunities we have throughout our lives to engage complete strangers with the good news, just like…

Continue Reading

As I’ve said before, Christianity is not dying; nominal Christianity is.

Today, Pew Research Center released a report drawing a variety of headlines—everything from “Christianity faces sharp decline as Americans are becoming even less affiliated with religion” to “Pew: Evangelicals Stay Strong as Christianity Crumbles in America.”

So what are we supposed to think of Christianity in America?

The nominals are becoming the nones, and the convictional are remaining committed.

The big trends are clear, the nominals are becoming the nones, yet the convictional are remaining committed.

In other words, Americans whose Christianity was nominal—in name only—are casting aside the name. They are now aligning publicly with what they’ve actually not believed all along.

The percentage of convictional Christians remains rather steady, but because the nominal Christians now are unaffiliated the overall percentage of self-identified Christians is decline. This overall decline is what Pew shows—and I expect it to accelarate.

As I have said before, not one serious researcher thinks Christianity in America is dying. What we see from Pew is not the death-knell of Christianity, but another indication that Christianity in America is being refined.

As such, let me share three takeaways from…

Continue Reading

Outside TemperatureIsn’t it easier to point out the wrongdoings of others and tell people what to do, rather than be a part of the solution?

My wife and I have noticed this in our children—they love playing the victim. So whenever there’s conflict, instead of figuring it out themselves, they come to us crying out “injustice!”

I wonder where they learned that from? I knew I never should’ve let them watch Sesame Street…

In order to fix this attitude, a few days ago, my wife began teaching them the difference between being bossy and being a leader. Here’s the difference:

  • Bossy people point out the wrongdoings of others, expect others to fix their issues, and are never wrong.
  • Leaders take responsibility for situations, don’t dwell on problems, focus on solutions, and make change happen.

As I was reflecting on this new paradigm of parenting (my wife is amazing by the way), I couldn’t help but notice the similarities that it had with thermometers and thermostats. Let me explain:

  • Thermometers point out what currently is, expect others to do something with that information, and they provide us with the standard—they are never wrong. Thermometers are indicators.
  • Thermostats, on the other…

    Continue Reading

Rick and Kay Warren at the PEACE CenterBy Tommy Hilliker

It started with a bag of groceries to meet a serious need in our community. Our benevolence requests went from six a day to more than 40 a day, and 15 percent of our congregation was out of work. At the peak of the economic recession, our community was hurting and in need of real assistance. In response, Saddleback Church launched its food pantry, which two years later would turn into The PEACE Center.

Jesus said in Mark 9:41, “Anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name … will certainly not lose their reward” (NIV).

Everything we do centers on providing practical help and connection to the church and sharing the hope of Jesus Christ.

People came to our doors the first day we opened them. We have fed more than 80,000 people in south Orange County, Ca. We also provide free legal aid, immigration help, tutoring clubs, ESL classes, medical services, and much more. And the most amazing part is that more than 1,600 people have given their lives to Jesus because of the work done through The PEACE Center. People…

Continue Reading

CoffeeCurrently there are about 12,000 Starbucks stores across the United States.* These 12,000 stores are strategically located in high end strip malls, busy corners and Target Store entrances. They are designed to draw us in and give us the coffee (and snacks and atmosphere and, did I say coffee?) we love.

Starbucks has done the best job of any coffee company in existence of penetrating the market and saturating the nation. Their green and white circle sign of deliciousness draws us weary travelers in like a bee to a honey flavored Frappuccino (is there such a drink? Just wait and I’m sure there will be!)

So how can Starbucks saturate the physical cravings of decaffeinated Americans and the church cannot satisfy the spiritual thirst of Americans with the living water? After all, there are only 12,000 Starbucks coffee shops in the United States and there are over 300,000 Protestant churches! That’s right! We outnumber Starbucks by 25 to 1!

So, with this as a backdrop, here’s what Starbucks can teach the Church when it comes to evangelism:

1. Train more “Baristas” to serve excellent drinks consistently.

Too many times the pastor is the only Barista…

Continue Reading

Crowded ChurchAlmost every church in the world will see an attendance spike this week. In the this-is-really-obvious-research-finding, we found that Easter was the highest attended day of the church year. (OK, really, it was about Mother’s Day, as USAToday reported in a front page story on our data, but Easter was number one.)

If you work in ministry, you already know this and did not need LifeWay Research to tell you. You’ve been planning for it. But are you planning for next week, too?

Nicola Menzie, a reporter for the Christian Post, asked me some questions for her story, “How to Keep the ‘Chreasters’ Coming: Experts Say Preparedness and Follow-Up Are Key.” The story has lots of helpful information, and the subtitle gets it right, “While Churches Look to Make Converts for Christ on Easter Sunday, Many Fail to Make a Connection.” Her good questions got me thinking—so I turned my comments to her into a full post here.

Let me share some thoughts on what your church can do to follow up its Easter guests.

Seize the Easter Moment.

Easter is an opportunity, but it has to be seized. More people will hear…

Continue Reading

Cross Church Door

In ministry, some things must never change but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing. Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly updated to reach each new generation.

In other words, our message of transformation must never change while the transformation of our presentation should be continual, adapting to the new languages of our culture.

Consider this: the word contemporary literally means with temporariness. By nature, nothing contemporary is meant to last forever! It is only effective for a while and only relevant in that particular moment – which’s what makes it contemporary.

What is considered contemporary and relevant in the next ten years will inevitably appear dated and tired in 20 years. As a pastor, I’ve watched churches adopt many contemporary…

Continue Reading

New Life

I believe God is preparing the church for another reformation. The first reformation focused on what the church believed; this one will focus on what it does.

For too long we’ve separated the Word of God from the work of God. As the church, we’re called to be the body of Christ – the whole body. We’re not just called to be the mouth of Christ, but the feet and hands as well.

Every time a new reformation has come, five renewals have preceded it. The awakening and reformation of the global church will begin with churches like yours. The same five renewals will precede this movement in your church.

Personal Renewal

It starts with the heart. If God is going to renew your church, he’ll begin it with you – and then it has to continue with the rest of your church. You might call it rededicating your life, being filled with the Spirit, or the “deeper life.” I don’t care what you call it. Just get it! Pastor, the bottom line is this – you need to fall in love with Jesus again. Do that and all of a sudden it’s not about religion…

Continue Reading

I research, write, speak, and generally encourage the church towards joining Jesus on mission. Obviously, my understanding is that there are a large number of churches that are not engaged—at least, not engaged well—and my hope is that this will change.

There are two aspects of this process of change I would like to address in this post: one encouragement and one caution. These can be rather tricky waters to navigate, and there may be a couple of paths that seem right and easy.

The Encouragement

A few years back, I did some labor relations consulting with one of the top three home improvement warehouses. As part of that process, we would set up survey calls to every employee in every store, and each would answer a series of questions regarding the health and culture of the workplace.

The information was gathered anonymously in order to encourage honesty. Once the information was gathered and compiled, a rating was given to each store based on the information gathered from all the employees at each location.

Stores in the “red zone”—the bottom ten percent of all the stores—would be separated out and marked for further study, and perhaps…

Continue Reading

FeetMany people have slipped into the mindset that evangelism is a gift that some believers have and others do not. The reality is that when someone becomes reconciled to God, He sends them out to reconcile others. That’s not a gift—we all have the responsibility to take Christ to others.

Pastoral leadership can go a long way in shifting those mindsets. Pastors can and should equip the church body to understand their role in evangelization. Among other things, a church can do four things to encourage the spirit and practice of evangelism.

1. Build Relationships

Only a very few hear the gospel or show up at church without first being in relationship. Most people who come to Christ are invited by a person they know.

God calls us to evangelize, including our family, friends, and neighbors. He invites us to invite others. Personal relationships are the best way to reach out.

Sometimes the world gets the wrong idea that being a Christian means our lives are perfect.

Your friends trust you when you talk about restaurants, plumbers, and baby sitters. That same trust gives each believer an open door to introduce their friends to Jesus.

2. Encourage Engagement

Sometimes…

Continue Reading

Little ChurchDisciples Need Leaders

I wonder how many church leaders don’t even realize the success of ongoing discipleship depends partly on how well they develop leaders.

God didn’t design the church to have one person lead everyone else in spiritual formation—far too often the model of evangelical churches. Throughout the New Testament, we see leadership development and delegation—or mass participation—of discipling others.

Paul repeatedly told young pastors to entrust the ministry to spiritual people who could then pass it on to the next generation.

You mass produce cars, not disciples.

I’m convinced one of the reasons we struggle with discipleship is because we aren’t raising up leaders to make more disciples.

You don’t need a priest because you are a priest.

Most people who are reading this are going to be Protestants of some variety. Protestantism was in part a rediscovery that individuals do not need a priest to communicate with God.

This is a key theological issue. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:9 that we are a “royal priesthood” who are to proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness. We correctly assert that we don’t need another human as a priest for us…

Continue Reading

Jesus Washing FeetWith whom are you doing life? What I mean is, with whom do you spend time hanging out and talking about the deepest things of life? Whom do you sharpen, and who sharpens you?

Jesus lived toward the cross and the resurrection, and his singular focus on his end game motivated him to live very intentionally. He depended on God for constant guidance and made choices rather strategically. For example…

One day soon afterward, Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles.

– Luke 6:12-13 NLT

Jesus had thousands of followers.
He had dozens of disciples.
He picked twelve to train more deeply and send out.
And he had three that were with him even more often.

I think there’s a pattern there for us to follow when it comes to the goal of our lives as Christians. Whether you want to call it discipleship, leadership development, or just plain friendship, I’m convinced we need to intentionally develop relationships with these circles of people in our lives. We need to pour ourselves into others,…

Continue Reading