Discerning a call to plant a church presents a great challenge. I have been blessed to network with church planters and coach them through discerning their call. The conversation inevitably arrives at a question very similar to this: “I've got this vision that I know God has given me, but I keep asking ‘How do I know when it is time to go?’"
When a minister assumes his first pastorate, it can be an exciting time for everyone. There is so much hope and anticipation. But there is also so much that is mysterious and fraught with difficulty. The following are some bits of advice from some lessons I've learned over the years, some of them the hard way.
We overlook “respectable sins” not only because they are pervasive, but also because they don't seem as bad as others that get more press. But when we turn a blind eye to these "ordinary" sins, they begin to fester.
Above all, preach unceasingly the glory of the Kingdom that is here and is to come; it is the only hope we have in these “last days.” We must all “do the work of an evangelist.”
We have been given a set, predetermined number of days to walk this earth. We should, by God’s grace, make every one of them count.
"Pastor’s wife" became foundational to my identity instead of solely my calling. These impossible expectations personified into an inner coach who barked orders and criticized when demands where unmet. This inner voice was my constant companion choking out truth.
We need a category for revival in all of our churches. Without it, we may miss out on the great blessing that God offers. Without it, we may spend our lives toiling for the wrong things, and we may shortchange the future generations.
We’ve struggled to find the right manner and method. It’s hard work and requires constant attention. But in our house, we’ve found that effective family devotions are made up of three basic rhythms…
The best place to repair an airplane is on the ground. This minimizes moving parts, leaves less room for error, and removes the almost certain fatal result if the repair goes wrong. But mission never stops and in the real world this is often not an option.
I love apologetics for what it can do for you, but I hate apologetics because of what it can do to you.
I’m not saying that’s wrong or that children’s ministry is bad – I love and serve in the children’s ministry in my church – I’m merely making the observation that while this ministry can and should serve the church, it will never replace it. Regardless of what curriculum or structure or teaching style your children’s ministry uses, here are some reasons why it’s healthy from time to time to take…
My wife and I once attended a small church that had no worship leader. No choir. No instruments. No overhead projection. No cool lights. The building was plain-Jane. Yet their gathering was powerful. Why?
God commanded that His people encourage each other because He knew we would need it.
I was twelve or thirteen, and my dad, who is a pastor, gave me the opportunity to preach a five-minute sermon (what was he thinking?). I selected Judges 3:12-30 as my text and delivered a sermon on Ehud and Eglon that I had titled “When Lefty Stabbed Fatty."
All too often, those who are keenly aware of the call to defend the gospel from damaging distortions, since they're not afraid to back down from a fight, are often the quickest to fight dirty.
Without question, church planting and pastoral ministry demand a faithful “pouring out as a drink offering” self-sacrificing life of commitment to God and His people. However, this call to pastoral ministry does not mean we should live a life of self-neglect for the sake of Christ.
Smaller churches are no less hindered from doing what God has called his people to do than are larger churches. Having more people does not maker it easier.
Distractions of all forms hit pastors. These distractions are circumstances that burden the pastor’s heart to such an extent that it threatens their ability to properly prepare for preaching the Bible faithfully.
If we know this is God’s plan for us and we are going to spend countless hours doing it, why wouldn’t we want to get really good at it?
Theological training is as important to the call of ministry as the call itself. But we can resent this training. Or we can be shaped by it.
You don’t want people to dread your small group every week. To feel like they just have to come. To view it as a waste of time. To be the group of which they say, “Don’t join a small group. Mine is terrible.”
Anxiety can feel uncontrollable when finances are tight, when relationships are strained, and when there doesn’t seem to be enough time to fulfill all of life’s obligations. Does the Bible provide any specific strategies for avoiding worry?
Responsive readings not only assist in the reading and praying of Scripture, but also are of value in that they are biblical, historical, participatory, and instructional for the life of the church.
The study of church history has fallen on hard times. But here are 10 reasons why the average believer’s walk with Christ would be enriched by learning a bit from our hallowed past.
Many of us were never trained in our formal education, internships, or perhaps even our associate roles how to lead a great ministry team meeting. This was something that became apparent to me as I stepped into lead a burgeoning team of strong leaders at my church. What follows here are hard knocks and necessary considerations, I believe, for a great ministry meeting.
Does your "devo life" need a spiritual steroid shot? Consider this approach to Bible reading.
When our work and ministry is laid bare before the Lord we want it to withstand the fire.
I don’t know what your opposition looks like. It might be a senior leader that prefers you preach four points to a better job rather than freedom in Christ. It might be a church member that can’t stand the songs you sing on Sundays. Or it might be the elder that spends more time thinking about "what could have been" instead of "what can be." But I do know this…
Two things smaller churches can do is opt out of a couple of things they often end up doing that they shouldn't.
In the end, reaching Millennials is about understanding them and being willing to participate in their world. It takes conscious decisions; you’re not going to accidentally attract them.
Help from Psalm 25 to encourage more prayer.
The shepherd leads the sheep, and the sheep follow the shepherd. It is a simple concept to understand, but it is a difficult concept to practice. Why? Because the sheep don’t always want to follow the shepherd!
Do you understand productivity in the right way? Is your approach to "getting things done" rooted in the gospel and its implications?
Our goal is not to grow churches, but to make disciples.
If you’ve sensed God’s call on your life to Christian ministry, then one of the most crucial decisions you’ll need to make is where – not if – you’ll receive training for ministry. Whatever your situation, your first step needs to be to commit the next season of your life to getting theologically equipped to do ministry effectively and long-term.
Are you a leader who wants to unify your church and dismantle the silos, politics, and turf wars that frustrate real ministry and mission? Then labor to help your people see beyond their own cardboard kingdoms and embrace the greater kingdom of God.
As I have seen several churches in my area continue to dwindle in size I have watched the leadership of many of these churches settle into into one of three dangerous mentalities . . .
Why memorize the Scriptures? What would be the benefits of this practice that most people would consider obsolete today, in an age in which the digital revolution has all but made it redundant?
In order to combat this we need to speak truth to our hearts. We need to remind ourselves of the truth of Scripture. This is no less important in the area of evangelism. We need to debunk the myths that are too easily believed and cling instead to what God has said and done.
When guilt persists, remember where Jesus is and where he's been.
Three practical tips to help pastors squash pride and cultivate humility
… or buying Twitter followers or gaming the analytics to inflate website stats, etc.
At least 5 things:
1. It's dishonest.
No, it's not illegal. But neither are lots of unethical, dishonest things. The asumption that people make when they see "Bestseller" labeled on a book or 600,000 followers on your Twitter page is that you came by those accomplishments the straightforward way: attracting…
How often are we great at making an invitation or giving information, but unwilling to be in it for the long haul? How often do we simply expect people to know things they aren't supposed to know? Helping new believers and those curious about the faith requires not just an invitation to the game, but nine innings of investment.
This isn't simply a "megachurch problem." The heart of the issue is found in congregations of 80 people as well as those with attendance in excess of 8,000. Many churches of all sizes struggle with this same issue: pastors who build a strong vision tied only to themselves leave congregations with significant challenges when the eventual change of leadership occurs. So what’s to be done?
There are many ways in which we should be loving one another in the church, and most of these practical steps might seem like no-brainers, but it's always a spiritually healthy and Christ-honoring exercise to work through how we might flesh out 1 John 3:18: "Let us love not in word or talk but in deed and in truth."
While you may not have "get my small group to like me" written out as an explicit goal in your community efforts, it’s still in the back of your mind, whether you’re a leader or a group member. Nearly everybody wants to be liked. That's not a terrible thing. Caring what others think (while not being dominated by that) shapes our responses, and helps us become more loving and generous.…
In truth, we often experience conflict in our lives and leadership because of our own actions, insecurities, and ill-motivated decisions. Since this is true, it is important for leaders to learn to ponder the hardships they face by first looking internally at what might be driving conflict with others—including their own lack of character and/or competence.
Building a culture of church planting begins by making it personal to your people. When planting becomes personal, your people will pray for it, give to it, talk about it and celebrate it. These priorities will build a culture of planting in your church.
I’d been a pastor’s wife for less than a year when I began preparing my exit strategy . . .
How do we contend for the faith and guard the gospel without being argumentative, judgmental, or cantakerous?