My wife, Joyce, and I planted our local church 29 years ago, Jan. 29, 1984, in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, N.Y. We were not sent out with any money and had only a handful of people who volunteered to serve with us. The following is based on all the mistakes I have made as a church planter, and the lessons I wish someone had coached me through.
1. Be sent from your local church. Unfortunately, many send themselves and just “went” instead of being “sent.” The Bible teaches us that we should not preach unless we are “sent” (see Romans 10:15).
The most difficult place for any Christian pastor to serve may be next to a military base.
The greatest opportunity any pastor might have in a long lifetime may be serving next to a military base.
As the Apostle Paul said, “... a wide door for effective service opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (I Cor. 16:9, NASB).
Jim and Patsy told their story to some of us not long ago. I have never forgotten their testimony and want to continue lifting them to the Lord.
Background: They are from the U.S. and pastor a church near an American military base somewhere overseas. They’ve been there two years.
Every summer my family and I read a book together. We’ve been doing this through the kids' teen years, and now even in their college years. Last summer we read Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker. What a great book on prayer!
Our summer book discussions are a simple but meaningful experience for us. We eat dinner together, then discuss a chapter or two of the book. That’s it! But what a cool time! I’m always amazed at the insights, comments and questions that come from our conversations.
This article isn’t about Mark’s book, it’s about prayer, but I want to say what makes this book different to me. There are so many good books on prayer, and in the end, they all say the same thing. Pray. And that’s good. But this book seems to inspire people to pray, and there is no price tag you can put on that. When the Holy Spirit is at work, He is at work!
We’ve got some incredible student volunteers in our ministry. Students as young as sixth grade, all the way up to seniors in high school, are critical members of our kids' ministry team. We wouldn’t be as strong without them.
And when I have an audience with my student volunteers, there are three things I want them to remember:
1. Be present. I mean, really be present with the kids. Get eye level with them, smile and let them know that you want to hear all that they have to say. Play with them, ask about their dog and tell them about yours. There is a big difference between you and me. I remind these kids of their mom. You are like the big brother/sister who actually plays with them. This is your chance to be someone’s hero. So have some fun.
The Bible instructs us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (see Ps. 122:6). For tens of millions of Christians in America, this admonition means standing for the modern state of Israel and its right to exist in accordance with God’s will and plan.
Yet on a practical level, some Christians find themselves unprepared when confronted by those who cite Israel as an occupying oppressor of the Palestinians or an obstacle to peace due to its failure to return to pre-1967 borders. I often hear believers respond by saying that God gave the land to Abraham’s descendants, not to the Palestinians, and leave it at that.
While this response is certainly accurate, it’s also incomplete. It fails to refute the frequently heard charge that Israel cares more about land than peace, making war inevitable. As Christian leaders, we have the biblical responsibility to respond in full, and the best way to do that is to intentionally educate ourselves on the story of the modern state of Israel. Below, I’ve provided a broad timeline to help us better understand that story.