Archives For Missions

CountingFifty years ago, many churches had signs posted within the building showing weekly numbers on them: worship service attendance, Sunday School attendance, offering total, and even how many people brought their Bibles. We live in a different age now.

Today, some frown upon “counting.” But I actually think it’s worth doing – and doing better than we’ve ever done before.

There’s an old but true cliché: We count people because people count. We count because we care about the souls of each person we count. We count because we want to be effective in what we are doing.

Among our churches, we need to ask if we are reaching people. We need to ask if we are discipling people. Are we reaching our goals or are we falling short? These are important questions to ask and important things to count.

My contention is that we need to keep a scorecard. The challenge is in deciding what we are going to measure and how are we going to measure it. I’m convinced that the things we’ve been counting for years on those church attendance boards are helpful to count – but they’re not all we should…

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1. Because you’re doing it for them.

Think “outreach” in youth ministry and we automatically think “event.” The words go together like “dodge” and “ball“. The challenge is that our teenagers themselves are our biggest outreach “event“. Because the average teenager has around 400 online and face-to-face friends they must be inspired, equipped and unleashed to engage them in Gospel conversations. Think about that for a moment, the average teenager has more friends than the average youth room can hold! But we have an almost irrepressible appetite for doing outreach events instead of mobilizing our teenagers to be the outreach event.

To make the switch we must turn from quarterbacks to coaches. Instead of just “Hey kids bring your friends out and watch me throw the touchdown throw of salvation in their lives” we must equip them to bring the “J” word up with their own peers. Of course, outreach events are fine and good and needed from time to time. But if they are replacing, rather than enhancing, our teenagers’ personal evangelism efforts then they are limiting our true outreach effectiveness.

2. They don’t understand the urgency.

When’s the last time you talked about the reality of hell with your teenagers? Yes,…

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SparkWhat would it look like if a significant number of churches had to intentionally try not to multiply and the Lord added to their numbers daily? (Acts 2: 42-7)? In this FREE resource, Exponential Director Todd Wilson presses into Exponential’s 2015 theme, “SPARK: Igniting a Culture of Multiplication,” to give church leaders a vision for reproducing churches and the tools needed to see that vision come to fruition. The eBook sets the framework for Exponential’s 2015 eBooks series focusing on multiplication and champions Exponential’s focus on moving the multiplication needle in the U.S. Church.

Wilson highlights the prominent church cultures leaders most naturally create and challenges you to honestly assess which culture you’re creating. He points out that every church–regardless of your context or phase (pre-launch, launch or post-launch)–is creating a culture and takes readers through a thorough explanation of how culture is created and what is needed to create a multiplication culture.

He offers an exploration of what Scripture says about God’s command to multiply and out of that scriptural study comes fresh insight as he contends that the U.S. church needs both addition (what he calls the micro strategy of adding disciples one on one,…

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I love small churches. I love medium-sized churches. And I love large churches and “megachurches” (typically defined as an evangelical congregation with 2,000 or more weekend service attenders). I also agree with a principle shared by Bailey Smith who once said, “There are no large churches. All churches are small, some are just smaller than others when compared to the surrounding lost population.”

I’ve pastored churches of 30 and I’ve served as a staff Pastor at a church that averaged about 22,000 attenders at the time. In many ways, the largest of them was also the smallest – the most capable of shaping and nurturing my soul. For whatever reason, church size is a very, very sensitive topic. Within the church, everyone seems to favor whatever size the church they’re part of represents. Some view small churches as ineffective and unwelcoming. Others view large churches as doctrinally weak or merely as corporate structures who prefer making dollars over disciples.

Why all the sensitivity? I think it’s social. We’re all a little protective of our identity, especially when we feel that someone is judging and assessing us as more or less worthy by secondary measures such as church size.

At Grace…

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Arm WrestlingI have to admit that I’m growing weary of the “Is it better to be relevant or obedient” arguments. Frankly, it’s wasting a lot of time and energy, plus, it’s causing division and isn’t helping the cause. Here’s why:

1. We’re not even using the word correctly.  By definition, “relevance” isn’t about popularity, being cool, being liked, or by extension, compromise. Relevance is about the right thing at the right time. It’s about being connected to the matter at hand. It’s about the right tool, strategy, message, or idea that fills a need. What could be more important in sharing the gospel? By misinterpreting and condemning the word “relevance” we’re closing the door on important and critical ways it could be used to reach this culture with the gospel.

2. Relevance and obedience actually work together.  Using the word correctly, if you’re obedient, then you’re relevant. In our obedience, God uses us to be the right answer at the right time. Anything else is disobedience and irrelevance.

3. The relevance versus obedience argument is a slippery slope.  It can too easily imply our superiority and godliness, and minimize other’s efforts to share…

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old churchAs a “traveling evangelist” I’ve had the privilege of preaching in churches from coast to coast. And, until I have the microphone on over my ear, most people have no clue that I’ll be the preacher that day, so most treat me like a first time visitor. Over the course of many years of visiting churches I have had great experiences as a guest along with some not-so-great ones.

And, lately, my trips to new churches have accelerated in my own city. I hate to use the term “church shopping” but that’s what we’ve been doing as a family for the last several months. The church we’ve been attending as a family for several years is a great one but it’s a 35 minute drive away. So my wife and I decided in September to start looking for a home church in the Arvada area. All the churches we have visited so far have been pretty good.

As a result of my visits to churches over the last several years and, with my family, over the last few months, I did notice some things about how first time visitors must feel when…

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ChurchIf you attend a church regularly, you’ve probably noticed the phenomenon. A guest shows up for a worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.

I did a Twitter poll to ask these first-time guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. While some of the responses were anticipated, I admit being a bit surprised with some of them.

Though my poll is not scientific, it is nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top ten responses in order of frequency.

  1. Having a stand up and greet one another time in the worship service. This response was my greatest surprise for two reasons. First, I was surprised how much guests are really uncomfortable during this time. Second, I was really surprised that it was the most frequent response.
  2. Unfriendly church members. This response was anticipated. But the surprise was the number of respondents who included non-genuine friendliness in their answers. In other words, the guests perceived some of the church members were faking it.
  3. Unsafe and unclean children’s area. This response generated the greatest emotional reactions. If your church does not give a high priority to…

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Christmas BokehOne of the secrets of growth at Saddleback Church is that we usespecial days as an evangelism tool and to keep our members motivated toward the growth of our congregation. In a sense, Saddleback Church was built around three days each year: Easter, Christmas, and Mother’s Day.

Here are some reasons we plan for growth during Christmas:

Christmas attracts the community. You are well aware that many people who normally never come to church will come for Christmas services or Christmas presentations. In addition, your whole community is immersed in Christmas, and many people are more prepared to hear the Gospel than at other times of the year.

Christmas encourages members to bring relatives and friends. Christmas is a perfect time to make a first impression. If your relatives wonder where you’re going to church and you bring them to church on the biggest Sunday of the year, they’ll catch the excitement of the congregation. Your members will find it easier to invite family and friends to church at Christmas than any other time of the year.

Christmas enlarges the vision of your members. This is a time to help your congregation catch a vision…

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Life on MissionMatthew was a tax collector. The Jews hated tax collectors because they were usually swindlers and “sell outs” who worked for the Romans. You couldn’t get any lower than a tax collector. They even had their own category. There were “sinners” and there were “tax collectors.” Like there are normal sinners, and then there are tax collectors.

So Jesus and the disciples came upon Mathew one day and Jesus says, “Why don’t you quit your job and follow me?” (Matthew 9) Matthew says “yes,” and the next thing you know Jesus is at a party at Matthew’s house. There are no details about what happened next, we just know that Matthew throws a party and Jesus is there.

So who would Matthew invite? MORE SINNERS!

Can you imagine the scene? Put it in modern day context. I can only imagine Matthew running back and forth from the kitchen, making sure everyone was being looked after as he listened to the conversations that took place around the table and out in the hot tub. He’s restocking the beer cooler. There is NON–Christian music on the stereo. You know Naughty Matt had a…

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Mexico CityWe all know what transformative life change can occur when someone comes to accept Christ. Though the power of the church, Christ-inspired members have caused a massive shift for the betterment of local communities. We believe local church pastors can play a very strategic role in worldwide evangelism and community transformation for God´s Glory. The time has come to inspire, equip and mobilize a new generation of healthy pastoral leadership, committed to growing churches to train and mentor other pastors. This movement will result in church-to-church partnerships to reach people groups who still have no believers, no Bible, and no body of Christ.

Saddleback Church is embarking on a global, Purpose Driven PEACE-inspired mission initiative to reach across every continent and impact and transform all nations. We are looking for Purpose Driven and PEACE-friendly churches and pastors to “come and see” what Saddleback is doing to transform not only lives and communities, but entire nations across the five continents.

We are in the planning stages and before our first All-Africa continental initiative takes place in the country of Rwanda in Africa in 2015, we want to develop and implement a “Mexico Pilot”…

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Mother TeresaMartin Luther King, Jr. was so moved by the plight of black people in America that he gave his life leading a civil rights movement. Mother Teresa was so crushed by the poverty she saw in Calcutta that she spent her life there ministering to the poor. John Knox was so burdened for the souls of the people of Scotland that he prayed to God, “Give me Scotland, or I die.”

Moses saw the suffering of his Hebrew brothers and sisters and it moved him to reject his royal upbringing and ultimately lead them across the Red Sea to freedom. David was touched by the broken and outcast who were fleeing Saul’s kingdom to live in the caves that he became the great shepherd-king of Israel. Paul was devastated over the Jews’ rejection of Jesus as Messiah to the point that he bordered on wishing himself to be accursed if it would mean saving them.

What breaks your heart?

After Jesus encountered the woman at the well and changed her life with the good news, His disciples wondered why Jesus would even waste his time on the Samaritans. Jesus forced them to refocus and…

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MistakesOver the last two plus decades I’ve had the privilege of engaging thousands of youth leaders in conversations about the subject of outreach and evangelism. During that time I’ve gathered a ton of great thoughts and ideas from youth leaders in the trenches when it comes to reaching out to the next generation with the good news. Some youth leaders are killing it when it comes to advancing the good news among teenagers in their communities.

Sadly, I’ve also witnessed a pattern of mistakes and missteps in the youth ministry world when it comes to outreach. I’ve boiled them down to 5…

1. Forgetting to saturate their outreach efforts in prayer

Jesus set the pattern for saturating outreaches in prayer. Mark 1:35-39 reminds us of this, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’Jesus replied, ‘Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.’ So…

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