Archives For Missions

“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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In this brief video, Pastors Rick Warren and Tim Harlow talk about how to move people to be on mission globally. Read more about Tim’s book and campaign, Life on Mission.

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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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Igniting Movements: Multiplying Churches in Dark Places

By Ajai Lall and Josh Howard

Nearly 65 percent of the world’s unreached people groups live in India (1.2 billion people) and the 11 countries surrounding it—comprising nearly 50 percent of the world’s population. This is where Central India Christian Mission (CICM) makes its impact.

Founded by Ajai Lall and his wife Indu more than 30 years ago, CICM is igniting movements throughout this populous region. In this FREE eBook, Igniting Movements, Lall and CICM leader Josh Howard chronicle the journey toward church multiplication through riveting stories of facing religious persecution, practical leadership insights and multiplication principles that continue to reproduce churches in some of the world’s darkest places. The authors conclude the book by sharing five “big things” we must not forget if we truly want to ignite church multiplication movements where we are. Igniting Movements—the ninth eBook in Exponential’s church multiplication series—offers encouragement, wisdom and inspiration to planters regardless of your context or culture. Download your copy of Igniting Movements.

Key takeaways

  • The three elements needed to start and stoke spiritual fires
  • How we can reach the world’s population with the gospel in less than 20…

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As someone who both cares about the mission of the Church and leads a research organization, I watch the trends in the Church and the culture. Occasionally, someone asks me to share some thoughts on the big picture, in the case of the North American context, questions related to “streams” of Protestantism.

Based on research, statistics, extrapolation, and (I hope) some insight, I notice three important trends continuing in the next 10 years.

Trend #1: The Hemorrhaging of Mainline Protestantism

This trend is hardly news—mainliners will tell you of this hemorrhaging and of their efforts to reverse it.

Mainline Protestantism is perhaps the best known portion of Protestantism, often represented by what are called the “seven sisters” of the mainline churches. Mainline churches are more than these, but these seven are the best known, perhaps:

  • United Methodist Church
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
  • Episcopal Church
  • Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • American Baptist Churches
  • United Church of Christ (UCC)
  • The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

They tend to fall on the progressive side of the theological continuum, but there is diversity of theology as well (Methodists, as a whole, are probably most conservative, for example).

Mainline Protestantism is in trouble and in substantive decline. Some…

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What are the questions that have changed your life? For Jeff Leake, president of the Reach Northeast church planting network, the question that changed his life—and the lives of thousands–came in November of 1996. In this FREE resource, Leake shares the story of why and how he has led Allison Park Church to become a multiplication center that to date has been involved with the planting of 38 churches throughout the Northeast.

Leake also takes readers on a transparent journey as he identifies the primary tensions he and Allison Park wrestled with as they planted one church after another. He admits, “As soon as we decided to step out and plant our first church, I felt the pull of fear on my soul”:

  • What if everyone leaves our church and goes with the church planter?
  • What if our larger givers leave and I’m left with nothing but bills?
  • What will happen if my attendance drops?
  • What will my peers think of me if I pastor a smaller church than I did before?

As he faced those fears head-on and Allison Park obeyed and stayed its course of multiplication, God’s provision continued to come. The Question That Changed My…

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When Darrin and Amie Patrick planted The Journey in the basement of their house in St. Louis, Missouri, they began the church to reach and engage “people like us.” The new eBook, The Journey: Toward a Healthy Multiplying Church, traces the story of The Journey from a small core-group meeting to a movement of the gospel across six Journey churches and eight church plants around the United States. In the book, Patrick shares five lessons he and The Journey have learned over the past decade about becoming a movement where every member sees themselves as a missionary for their city. Below, he fleshes out the first lesoon:

Not that I’ve done it, but I would guess that one of the hardest things to do is build a plane while you’re flying it. That’s really what we’ve done at The Journey, and in many ways are still doing. Every multiplying church has to face it at one time or another. Still more difficult is to not just be building while in motion, but inspecting it in mid-flight. But, by God’s grace we have learned some things since planting The Journey more than a decade ago.

Lesson…

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