Archives For Ministry

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to serve others by meeting needs in love.

Topics include: leadership, preaching, vision, SHAPE, building ministry teams, developing leaders, becoming Purpose Driven, mental health, kids, students, etc.

Change Requires New Thinking

“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” Ephesians 4:23 (NLT)

The battle to change your life begins in your mind. If you want to change your behavior, you must start with your thoughts and attitudes.

The renewal of your mind is related to the word “repentance.” Repentance is a negative word for some people. They think of a guy on a street corner, holding a sign—“Repent! The world’s about to end.”

Repentance is a good thing. It does not begin with your actions. It begins with learning to think differently. “Repent” simply means to make a mental U-turn. It’s something that starts with your mind, not with your behavior. Changing the way you think will change the way you act.

This means turning from guilt to forgiveness, from purposelessness to purpose, from no hope to new hope, from frustration to freedom, from darkness to light, from hell to heaven, from hatred to love.

Repentance also changes the way you think about God. He’s not mad at you; he’s mad about you! It changes the way you think about yourself, your spouse, your kids, your loved ones, and how you think about your past, present,…

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What Makes a Great Team

Every church needs a strong volunteer team. You can’t afford to hire enough staff to do all God wants you to do in your community.

More importantly, one of the purposes of your church “is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church” (Ephesians 4:12 NLT). Part of equipping your volunteers to serve the church is developing them into an effective team.

Strong churches have strong volunteer teams. So what makes a good team? Every good team has eight traits. When put together, these traits spell the acronym T.E.A.M.W.O.R.K. I’ll share these eight traits in the next two articles of the Ministry Toolbox. Here are the first four:

T – Trust

You can’t build a team without trust. Trust is the emotional glue that binds a team together. If you don’t trust someone, you don’t have confidence in that person. Without confidence, you can’t achieve anything of value.

Paul trusted Timothy to represent him to the church in Philippi. Paul knew that Timothy would be faithful to care for the church and carry back news to Paul. In Philippians 2:19-20, Paul wrote: “I hope in the…

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There Is Hope for You

By Lacey

My name is Lacey. I’m 28 years old. I have four children, and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ.

I was molested when I was 6 years old. I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t right. Growing up, I tried everything to escape how I felt on the inside, while my mom had no idea how to raise my siblings and me.

I started sneaking out at 12 years old. My friends and I would steal four-wheelers or cars to ride around the back roads, smoke weed, and get drunk. One time, an old friend of mine and I took a minivan and skipped three states. I ended up in a juvenile detention center. My mom became my best friend and started smoking weed and drinking with me. I started selling crack and doing cocaine at age 13. My best friend at the time overdosed and died. It rocked my world. I knew that should have been me.

I moved to Chicago to try and start fresh. I was only there for two years when I made my way back to drugs. I…

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New Beginnings

By Celebrate Recovery

New Beginnings

By Mary Owen, National Training Coach

This is what newcomers hear when they attend Celebrate Recovery® for the first time:

“If this is your first time to Celebrate Recovery, welcome to our forever family. It’s not so important why you’re here. What is important is that you’re here. Keep coming back!”

My husband and I have a 10-year-old grandson who is learning how to play the upright bass. His conductor teaches at three schools, so he decided to combine all of them to perform at one concert. The 115 children had never played as a group before this concert.

It was amazing to hear students from different backgrounds with different personalities, who were playing together for the first time, come together and make music.

The conductor explained that the most important lessons he teaches his students are to start together, stay together, and finish together. That’s how they were able to make such beautiful music together!

Just like in learning an instrument and playing with others, this can work in our lives, too!

Start together.

Are you struggling with a hurt, hang-up, or habit? Are you tired of trying to fight your battles alone? If you…

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How God Uses Weaknesses

You have weaknesses. I’m sure this statement doesn’t shock you. You know about them, most likely you’ve known about them for some time.

But the real question is this: What are you doing with your weaknesses? You can hide and deny them. Most of the time, this is what we try to do because we’re afraid of what might happen to our ministries if people discover we’re not strong in every area.

There is a better option. Instead of hiding our weaknesses, we can recognize and share them. Even better, we can learn to glory in our weaknesses. For God to use you greatly, you’ll walk with some kind of limp the rest of your life.

I have struggled with a handicap all my life. I was born with a disorder in my brain chemistry that makes public speaking excruciatingly painful to me. It is a genetic problem that is resistant to any medication. If doctors could have cured it, they would have years ago. I’ve been to the top neurologists in the nation.

In a nutshell, my brain overreacts to adrenaline. Neurologists at the University of California, Irvine, would tell you…

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3 Lessons We Can Learn from a Difficult Holiday Season

I know the Christmas season isn’t particularly merry for many people. When December rolls around, you’re not thinking of Christmas carols, holiday gatherings, and Christmas Eve worship services. Instead, your mind is on family members who are gone and on holiday disappointments.

Many also live in places where it’s cold and dark in December, which likely makes the problem worse.

Pain is a part of life, and holiday lights and eggnog can’t always push it away. I don’t know what the source of your holiday pain is, but I know it’s real and it hurts.

I also know God can turn your pain this holiday season into benefits. Re-read that last sentence. Your pain hurts—badly, but it doesn’t need to have the last word.

Paul writes about the benefits of our struggles in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11. No, he wasn’t facing a difficult Christmas season. Paul was facing persecution for his commitment to preach the Good News about Jesus regardless of the consequences. Here are three benefits of our struggles, according to Paul in that passage.

God will use your pain to teach you to trust him.

You’ll never…

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Looking Beyond the Horizon of Sorrow

By Gordon

I’m a believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with independence and pride. My name is Gordon.

In the state of consciousness that comes just after waking from a fitful slumber, that’s when I reach out in hopes to physically connect with my wife in some way. Just to touch her arm as I had done for 44 years.

But as all lives eventually end, hers has come to a close, at least here in this realm. Until all things are made new by the One who restores all things broken, I will never see her, touch her, or hear her voice.

Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease began its filthy work by robbing her of memories and words—nouns and names. This malevolent thief did not relent until there was nothing left of who she was. And then it took her last breath away.

I’ve often wondered, “Was I angry with God about this profound loss? Am I still angry?”

What I will tell you is this—in the quiet times, in the darkness of the night when all I could see was a faint glimmer of light from the street lamp, when all I…

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God Is Ready to Rescue You

By Mac Owen, National Director, Celebrate Recovery®

In one of the toughest times of my life, I was given a Bible by my sweet wife. She had placed a marker in this Bible with the words, “Please read this chapter.” It was Psalm 18, written by David, a man who would become known as someone after God’s own heart. David suffered many hardships in his life but was always quick to thank God for delivering him through the hard times. He knew where his hope came from.

This chapter has become a prescription for me. This step-by-step plan helps me get back on the right track when I’m losing hope.

In this chapter, I see three things David does and three things God does in response.

  1. David starts with praise. He calls God his strength, his rock, his fortress, his deliverer, his refuge, his shield, and his stronghold. (Verses 1-2)
  2. David remembers God’s promise. When David calls on the Father, the Creator of the cosmos, he is saved from his enemies. (Verse 3)
  3. David shares his predicament with God. David is at a point where everything seems hopeless, even to…

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3 Ways to Thank Your Volunteers This Christmas

I’m sure you’ll be saying “Merry Christmas” often in the next few weeks, but there are two other words that may be even more important:

Thank you.

Pastor, you’re likely in the midst of one of the most volunteer-intensive months of the year. You have countless projects, events, and activities to prepare for this season. Plus, you have one of your largest services of the year coming up in three weeks.

It’s a busy time for you and your volunteers—so please remember to thank them. It’s not just courtesy; it’s a critical part of ministry in the holiday season. Paul describes what should be a regular practice in the church in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now” (NCV).

Your appreciation of others boosts their value. You give people strength when you thank them. William James once wrote, “The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Paul gives us a great example of how to express gratitude to church members in his New Testament letters. He clearly understood the importance of expressing gratitude to the…

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7 Christmas Sermon Ideas That Engage the Unchurched

Like many of you, I have struggled to prepare Christmas sermons that are faithful to Scripture and yet engaging to an unchurched audience. This year I’ll prepare sermons for my 40th Christmas season at Saddleback.

Christmas services have played a big role in Saddleback’s growth through the years. We built Saddleback on two seasons: Christmas and Easter. We’ve called it the two humps of the camel. We’d see exponential growth during a holiday and then it would drop off a bit, but it didn’t drop off much. During the rest of the year, we’re typically consolidating our growth and moving people from “come and see” to the “come and die” purpose driven paradigm I wrote about in The Purpose Driven Church.

I know some pastors have the idea that their churches will grow by adding one family a week for the rest of their existence. But that won’t happen. You’ll never grow a little bit by little bit. Growth usually happens in spurts. Your attendance will stay static for several months but then, on one big day, you’ll jump past a growth barrier (whether it’s 200, 500,…

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God Turns Our Mess into a Message

By Hannah

Hello, my name is Hannah. I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, and I struggle with codependency. I am 29 years old. I was born in Meridian, Mississippi. I grew up in a loving but divided home. My parents divorced when I was 4 or 5. As a result, I have a blended family of half- and step-siblings who are so special to me. I have fond memories of my childhood—playing with my siblings, family vacations, spending time together on the holidays, church involvement, and more.

As I reached my pre-teen years, I received devastating news. The summer before sixth grade, I was diagnosed with Turner Syndrome. Turner Syndrome affects the reproductive system in women, and the doctor informed me that having children would be very difficult and possibly dangerous. I did not have some of the other health complications and physical characteristics that often come with Turner Syndrome, so I was diagnosed at an older age than most women who have it. Although I was heartbroken, I held on to gratitude for being in good health…

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Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

Do you need a miracle in your life?

If so, be grateful.

Gratitude is a miracle-creating attitude. It has the power to transform seemingly unsolvable situations. When you thank and praise God in the midst of a problem, he will do a miracle and turn things around.

Acts 16 demonstrates the power of gratitude. Paul and Silas had gone to Philippi to preach and to teach, but they weren’t well-received. In fact, the crowd stoned them, beat them, and threw them into prison.

At midnight, in the middle of the dark, damp, cold prison, Paul and Silas began praising God and singing songs of thanksgiving.

That’s when God did a miracle. He sent an earthquake that shook the whole prison. The prison cell doors opened up, and all the chains and shackles on every prisoner came unbound. Freedom came through thanksgiving.

I don’t know what kind of freedom you need. I have no idea what kind of miracle you’re asking God for, but I know gratitude is the key. Gratitude will do miracles in your life as it releases the power of God. Instead of complaining about your problems, start counting your blessings.

In…

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