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.

By Blake

I wanted to be professional baseball player or a fireman when I was growing up. How was it that in my early 40s I had successfully become an alcoholic? I was in a self-imposed hell that was physically, spiritually, and morally bankrupt.

I grew up in a Christian home and in what I thought was a typical household. My parents didn’t really drink– an occasional glass of wine typically only if people were over for dinner. We moved about every four years as I was growing up, and it wasn’t until I looked back at all the variables of my life, did I realize some of the impacts that had. It was in high school that my path began to wander. I was extremely insecure but popular. I shared my first kiss in high school with a girl from my church who took her life months after we had parted ways. Not because of me, but it was a loss and pain I didn’t know how to handle.

Eventually, drinking became part of what I did with some of my football and baseball teammates…and like an amazing switch, my shyness would disappear….

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“I have gained perfect freedom by following your teachings.”

Psalm 119:45 (CEV)

Everywhere you look, you can find people who like to pretend.

It’s not a game; they aren’t children who are playing make-believe. They’re adults pretending to be someone other than themselves in order to get the approval of others. Seeking approval typically plays out in one of two ways.

Some are trying to meet the expectations of someone else, and that means they’re allowing their purpose in life to be defined by someone other than God. This is a dangerous way to live because people’s expectations are inconsistent. 

Other people are trying to meet their own unrealistic expectations of perfectionism. That’s when you think you must be perfect to be loved and accepted. Inevitably, we fall short of being perfect, so the only option that makes sense is to fake it.

Are you pretending? Maybe you’ve been pretending for so long that you don’t know who the real you is anymore. You’re wearing a mask, and it’s wearing you out. Everyone else thinks you’ve got plenty of money, success, and happiness.

When you stop…

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By Ken Grider, National Encourager Coach

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, as He already existed in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself by taking the form of a bond-servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross.”

Philippians 2:5-8 (NASB)

The goal of any devotional– and life on earth for that matter –is to point to God. The goal is to bring us into a closer relationship with and a greater awareness of our Savior. I want to be someone who says, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV) regardless of location, proximity, timing, or circumstance. Notice I said, “I want to be”…this is not always the case. In fact, my most frequent request of God is that he will let me see with his eyes and love with his heart. But, as I unpack these verses, my spiritual assignment, once again, becomes one that I…

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The most powerful form of advertising is the personal testimony. “I tried pie, so should you” is a well-worn form of introducing people to a product. It’s still being used because it works. Television, the Internet, and social media have made people more resistant to hard sales pitches. 

Impact is no longer a matter of volume. It’s about connection. Years ago when pastors had a weak point in their sermons, they would sometimes write in their notes, “Weak point. Yell here.” They thought yelling would help impact lives more effectively. But that’s not true today. In fact, people are more resistant to the volume factor than ever before. 

What would you rather listen to, a hard-sell or a soft-sell salesperson? There’s no question about it. No one wants to deal with the loud, pushy salesperson who is trying to sell something the moment you come into the store. 

So how do you preach powerfully today? You preach personally.

Talking about your life in a personal way has a power you simply can’t get any other way. But personal preaching isn’t new. In fact, it goes all the…

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By Kristen

Hi, my name is Kristen. I am a grateful believer in Christ in recovery for bulimia, overachieving, and perfectionism.

Life was crazy, chaotic, and unsteady for me growing up. I was an awkward, nerdy, athletic kid, and I just wante to fit in somewhere. Because of several experiences, I came to believe the lies that I would never be good enough and that I was to blame for everything that went wrong. I thought that the best way to cope was to choose (or force myself) to always be happy on the outside, no matter what. So I started putting on masks. However, inside I started pretending and living in a fantasy life to cope.

This way of coping eventually paved the way for me to start struggling with an addiction that was pretty easy for me to hide…bulimia. My life was marked by insecurity, performance, people-pleasing, and the striving for perfection. I convinced myself that this was something that was only hurting me and that I could control it.

I finally came to a point where I realized my eating disorder was controlling me, so I started getting help. While attending Celebrate…

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Make Every Step Count

By Rick Warren

“All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.”

1 Corinthians 9:25-26 (NLT)

 

Every step in your journey with Jesus should be taken with purpose and intentionality. There’s a heavenly prize ahead—an eternal reward that awaits those who honor God in everything they do.

Living a life on purpose requires self-discipline. This means you won’t be able to do everything that other people do. God’s plan is different from the world’s plan. Being a disciple of Jesus often means taking the more difficult path.

Olympic runners must give up all kinds of stuff in order to go for the gold. They must go to bed at a certain time, eat a certain way, and train at a certain time. They must count the cost of what it will take to win. Then they make the necessary sacrifices, denying their natural urges and click reference inclinations. The rigorous training is never the focus; their sights are set…

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By Donna Yearsin, National Director Celebration Place

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

Romans 7:15-20 (NIV)

One of the most beautiful things about recovery involves introspection. Focus questions posed during Open Share Groups cause participants to stop and think about their own thoughts, feelings, and actions– an honest assessment of what is…

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Do You Know the Needs of Your Congregation?

When I plan my preaching calendar, I start by analyzing my audience. I start where Jesus started—the needs of people. 

You won’t learn that from a commentary set. Commentaries can help you analyze your text but not your congregation. You need to be able to answer three specific questions about your congregation:

  • Where is my congregation right now?
  • Where does my congregation need to go in the future?
  • How can we help them get there?

So, how do you answer these questions about your congregation? Make these four activities a regular practice in your ministry, and you’ll develop a more relevant sermon schedule:

Listen.

I get many of my sermon ideas from talking to people on the patio after worship services. I listen to people talk about their temptations, their habits, their sins, and their needs. As I listen, I’m constantly asking myself, “Do I need to do a message on this?” I also find that the letters and emails I receive give me great ideas about…

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By Tiffani

Each hurt we go through can build walls in our lives; some can turn into good boundaries, others build walls of protection surrounding us and we think ugliness cannot break though to get to us. Hi, I’m a grateful believer in Jesus– I have victory over co-dependency, isolation, fear of abandonment, and shame. I struggle with food addiction and the effects of past abuse, and my name is Tiffani.

I grew up in an alcoholic home where both my father and stepfather drank heavily. My mom used shame, fear and withdrawal to parent us. I remember the night my dad left. A police officer woke me and my two sisters and helped us get dressed, they took us to a friend’s house to spend the night. I had so many questions but even at that young age I knew better than to ask. In my mind it was better to be as quiet and invisible as possible. My walls began to form. I had quite a few life-changing events all happening at the age of 6: my parents separated, I moved from a middle-class suburb area to a more inner-city location, I…

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By Rodney Holmstrom, National Assimilation Coach

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

There was a man walking along on a cold winter day. Suddenly hitting a patch of black ice, he fell and then BAM! He wasn’t expecting this, but found himself on the ground, cold, wet, humiliated and seemingly alone. He cut his elbow and was bleeding quite a bit. He wanted to go crawl into a hole and hide. His first thought was complete embarrassment for what had happened and wondered if anyone had seen him fall so abruptly. Before he realized it, a stranger was kneeling by him grabbing his arm, helping him back to his feet. He felt embarrassed by the situation. However, the stranger wasn’t focused on that at all. Instead he focused on showing love and compassion while making sure he was ok. He knew he was hurting and came alongside him, helping him mend his wounds.

This has me thinking about my brothers and sisters struggling with mental health issues. Some may struggle with depression, anger, anxiety or other issues that make…

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“Accept God’s salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Ephesians 6:17 (NCV)

You are in a constant battle for your mind. That’s where temptation begins. When God gives you an idea, that’s inspiration. But when the devil gives you an idea, that’s temptation. Every day, you have to choose which ideas you’re going to accept.

The Bible says if you want to overcome temptation you need to resist the devil. How can you do that? By replacing tempting thoughts with biblical truth.

There are two steps you can take to prepare for battle:

The first step is to “accept God’s salvation as your helmet.” What does a helmet do? It protects your mind. Your mind is where the battle against temptation is fought. Before you can say “no” to the devil, you have to say “yes” to Jesus Christ.

The second step is to “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” and use it against the devil’s temptations. This requires memorizing Scripture so you will know top article how to counter the devil’s lies. He isn’t afraid…

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Pastors are often taught in seminary to develop a content outline for their sermons. This type of outline is designed to help you teach the Bible, but rarely does it lead to effective sermons and life change.  

And the purpose of our preaching is to see God change lives. 

That’s why I developed what I call a communication outline for my sermons. The purpose of a communication outline is to change lives rather than simply inform. Instead of a series of alliterated points backed by sub-points that simply describe the text, I turn my points into applications, and each one has an action to take. 

Let me show you how these two outlining strategies—content and communication—might impact a typical sermon on the book of Jonah. 

Here’s a content outline for the book of Jonah:

Jonah’s four chapters break down into four good points no matter which outline you’re using.  

As you know, Jonah runs down to Joppa and gets on a boat headed for Tarsus in chapter one. God told him to go east, and Jonah went as far west as…

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