Life Tue, 28 Feb 2017 01:07:19 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Consider This Truth Before You Go Into Debt for Your Ministry

The richest man who ever lived, King Solomon, famously warned that "the borrower is servant to the lender" (Prov. 22:7b).

How true. But those of us who are not counted among the wealthy are nevertheless forced to deal with debt as we make our way through the modern world. Debt is not a sin, as the Bible gives instructions on how to have debt but not, for example, on how to have adultery. Debt is simply a form of bondage that should be avoided if possible.

Some debts can actually lessen bondage. When choosing between renting a home or taking out a mortgage to buy one, remember that the landlord has more and quicker legal rights than a mortgage lender. By buying with a mortgage, you have less bondage than a renter and can turn the home into a substantial asset as you pay off the home (see our Feb. 24, 2016 blog, "Reaching your Savings Goals"). Another example would be an auto loan for a car you need to go to work. Finally, many small businesses must carry some debt to operate. Just don't get more house, car or business than you can afford.

But the real bondage trap debt usually catches us by appealing to our desire for instant gratification. Credit cards allow us to make impulsive purchases, then trap us into paying interest rates up to 30%. Desperate people will pay up to 500 percent (yes, 500 percent) interest for a payday loan. Students are lured into debt by overpriced universities and often end up in virtual slavery to their lenders (See our July 17, 2016 blog, "College Financial Planning"). By snaring you in debt, these lenders are turning your productive efforts into a stream of interest payments, thus enslaving you for their benefit.

So old King Solomon was right about debt. But he also advises those trapped in debt to humbly negotiate their freedom from their creditors (See Prov. 6:1-5 in the Bible). This is a foundation of our system of debt relief.

Avoid the debt traps if you can, but if you've already been caught, do what you must to get free. {eoa}

Ron Allen is a Christian businessman, CPA and author who serves in local, national and international ministries spreading a message of reconciliation to God, to men and between believers. He is founder of the International Star Bible Society, telling how the heavens declare the glory of God; and the Emancipation Network, which helps people escape from financial bondage; and co-founder with his wife, Pat, of Corporate Prayer Resources, dedicated to helping intercessors.

This article originally appeared on

]]> (Ron Allen) Money Tue, 21 Feb 2017 22:00:00 -0500
10 Sure Ways to Be an Excellent Pastor—and a Phenomenal Boss

"There is no other person I would rather work for."

"I enjoy my work and ministry so much, and the biggest reason is I serve under an incredible pastor."

"My pastor rocks."

Those are some of the laudatory comments we heard from church staff persons who serve under excellent pastors. In my previous post, I shared the top 10 ways pastors can be bad bosses. In this article, I look at the positive perspective.

Here are the most frequent comments we heard from church staff. These are 10 ways pastors can be great bosses.

  1. Cast a clear vision and path. "You have no doubt where he is leading our church and us. He is clear, articulate and his vision is compelling."
  2. Support other ministries. "As a children's minister, I have served in churches where the pastor never says anything about our area. My pastor, though, is always lifting up my ministry and other ministries."
  3. Create a fun atmosphere. "Those who serve on staff in local churches face many serious and challenging issues. I love the way our pastor encourages us to have fun and enjoy our work. I love the way he jokes around with us."
  4. Provide a good role model and example. "Whether it's work ethic or character issues, my pastor serves as an excellent role model. Even when I disagree with him, I never question his integrity or commitment."
  5. Be decisive. "This pastor is the first I ever served under who does not hesitate to make a decision, even if it's a tough decision. We are never left wondering if or when something will happen."
  6. Include other staff as part of the team. "We have different responsibilities and ministries among our staff, but our pastor makes certain we see the big picture. He really helps us to feel like we are part of the team."
  7. Have the back of your staff. "I knew what kind of boss I had the first time a cantankerous church member read him the riot act about me. My pastor let the church member know he supported me and respected me. I will never forget that."
  8. Listen well. "He is really a rare leader. You know when you go to talk to him about something you have his full attention. He not only listens, he responds very well."
  9. Support the staff member's family. "I don't know how he found out about our financial struggles. But my husband and I cried openly when he quietly gave us a check from funds he had collected from church members. I suspect he contributed a lot himself."
  10. Communicate frequently and clearly. "Most leaders, pastors included, never communicate enough. That is not the case with my boss. We are always in the know. He actually worries about overcommunication. I love it!"

Bad pastor bosses. Good pastor bosses. Those who serve under them have spoken clearly. May we who lead take their words to heart. {eoa}

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit

]]> (Thom Rainer) Marketplace Tue, 21 Feb 2017 13:00:00 -0500
Adopting Holy Spirit's Agenda for Your Team

What's your agenda for other people?

Some of us are trying to help other people buy into our agendas. 

Some of us are trying to help other people achieve their agendas.

Some of us are trying to help other people discover God's purpose and plan for their lives and order their priorities around His agenda.

It's easy to get these mixed up, isn't it? 

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner, for trying to get people to do what I want them to do—my agenda—instead of inspiring them with what you want them to do: Your agenda. Amen. {eoa}

Patrick Morley is the founder of Man in the Mirror Ministries. For the original article, visit

]]> (Patrick Morley/Man in the Mirror) Relationships Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:00:00 -0500
9 Key Characteristics of Spirit-Led Business Prophets

In my previous post, I introduce the supernatural role of business apostle. Today let's review the supernatural role of prophet in business.

Role of Business Prophet

Prophet (prophetes) — one who is moved by the Spirit of God and therefore His spokesman; a foreteller; often an inspired speaker; interpreter of hidden things

Business prophets are strategists who create and evaluate business plans and implementation actions. They possess a supernatural gift of marketplace timing, sensing the right opportunities in the right market space at exactly the right time. Through their gift of analysis, they challenge the status quo to reveal what others need to do to prepare for the future.

According to Dr. Bill Hamon in his book, The Day of the Saints, "more than 90 percent of the prophets in the Old Testament never functioned inside the walls of the temple. They never earned their income from 'church' ministry. Most were business people or government officials."

Some biblical examples of business prophets include Nathan (David's staff member), Deborah (judge), Amos (farmer) and David himself (shepherd, warrior, king).

Key Characteristics of Business Prophets

Some key characteristics of a business prophet can include:

  • Create the systems and strategies to implement the apostle's vision.
  • Challenge the status quo.
  • Encourage and exhort others to attack the problems and challenges.
  • Recognize and partner with other prophets.
  • Have unique insight and perspective.
  • Speaking up when something is going wrong or about to go wrong.
  • Intuitive problem solvers.
  • Ability to improve on other's ideas.
  • Recognize potential pitfalls and hurdles to come.

How Business Prophets Equip Their Saints

Since business prophets are the ones who sense the future and adjust plans to be successful, they partner with other business prophets to maximize the business impact for the kingdom. Some of the ways a business prophet equips his team include:

  • Creating action steps for the business apostle's vision.
  • Creating "What If" scenario plans of alternative action in case of a failure or misstep.
  • Declaring God's Word over situations and people.
  • Alerting the team to potential enemy attacks and prepare countermeasures of action.
  • Promoting and releasing creativity and fresh perspective into all operations.
  • Encouraging and exhorting other prophets to speak up boldly with their revelations.
  • Training up others in how to hear the voice of God.

The Business Prophet's Mandate

Business prophets are gifted to sense what's next. It is therefore their mandate to clearly share their supernatural revelations and prepare the organizational structure for the future.

Their mandate comes with a cost—the real potential of being outcast, shut down, excluded and ignored, for many others (even under the anointing of God) may not want to hear their truths. Therefore, it is imperative that business prophets stand their ground, speak the truth in love and boldness, and exhort others to have ears to hear and eyes to see. {eoa}

This post is an excerpt from Dr. Jim's forthcoming book, Anointed to Lead: How to Discover and Unleash Your Supernatural Leadership Gifts to be released Summer 2017.

Dr. Jim Harris is President of The Jim Harris Group, an international speaking and advising firm dedicated to helping believers in business unleash their unfair advantage in the marketplace. He is the author of Our Unfair Advantage: Unleash the Power of the Holy Spirit in Your Business and numerous other award-winning business books.

]]> (Jim Harris) Marketplace Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:00:00 -0500
An Oft-Ignored Step to Eliminating Your Debt Burden

If you want to retire at age 67 with as much income as you had from working, experts have moved the goal post a little further out.

That's right. Because of the low rates of return in the current economy, a major financial firm has increased the target savings from eight times earnings to 10 times by age 67. Interim targets include one times your annual salary at age 30, two times by age 35, and three times by age 40. Obviously, many people are failing to achieve these targets. However, these goals, while ambitious, are achievable with an early start, a constant savings habit (we recommend 10 percent) and the long-term effects of compounded investment yield.

Then again, perhaps the idea of retiring at age 67 is just not good for you. So says Warren Buffet, who says that working past retirement age keeps you sharp, lets you benefit from your years of experience and gives you a buffer in a down stock market. In fact, the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 25 percent of workers will be over age 55 by 2020. If you start late in life, say at age 40, you could still save 10 percent of your income for 30 years which, when invested in a historical market average of 6 percent yield, would produce an income stream equal to 70 percent of wages.

Even so, savings is a critical component of your family's plan for financial freedom. Sadly, many people fail to save because they are too focused on their debt. You must be saving even while in debt, just as our hero Abraham Lincoln did. He suffered a financial reverse in 1837 but bought a house with his savings in 1844 before paying his debt in 1848. Like Abraham Lincoln, you should build your life before you pay your debt. Yet we find that many seniors are carrying large debt burdens because they did not develop a debt relief plan when they were younger.

Don't let your creditors take your financial future. Remember, saving is still the key to financial freedom. {eoa}

Ron Allen is a Christian businessman, CPA and author who serves in local, national and international ministries spreading a message of reconciliation to God, to men and between believers. He is founder of the International Star Bible Society, telling how the heavens declare the glory of God; and the Emancipation Network, which helps people escape from financial bondage; and co-founder with his wife, Pat, of Corporate Prayer Resources, dedicated to helping intercessors.

]]> (Ron Allen) Money Thu, 16 Feb 2017 22:00:00 -0500
This Can Quickly Erode a Worship Team's Culture

If you lead worship, you know what it's like to need musicians.

Sometimes all it takes is a living, breathing human who can hold an instrument and they're welcomed to the stage with open arms.

You want to sing? You're on the team.

You know what a keyboard is? Consider yourself scheduled.

Played the guitar once? How's this Sunday look?

It's just the nature of the ministry—people come and people go. You need people to fill out your team. The problem is that we give more thought to people's skill than we do their attitude. And bad attitudes can erode a team's culture.

Have you ever thrust someone into a leadership role because they were super-talented? But you didn't do the hard work of teaching them how to love and serve God's people? Yeah, me neither.

There are just some people who can't help but complain about everything. I especially see this in church. Rather than dive headfirst into what is happening in the kingdom of God, they'd rather sit from a distance and complain about it.

The problem with this attitude is that Jesus loves His church. And he's not asking you to reform it as much as he is asking you to be it.

In the midst of all this talk about improving the worship experience, picking better songs, raising up greater talent and leading powerful worship, lies the hearts of our team members. And therein lies my heart and your heart. God has given us talent, and He calls for excellence, but excellence with a bad attitude is not honoring to God.

That's why, today, we're talking attitudes. Excited?

The Problem With Being on Stage

One of the struggles we face with modern worship is how closely the form resembles your typical rock show. There's a stage, lights, hazer and an audience with their eyes on you. And it's not only the rock worship band who is prone to this. Anyone who's been on stage knows it can be an addicting experience. You feel important, valuable, liked, maybe even adored. The thought of "serving your local church" may not even enter into the equation. Because you're a musician and you belong on stage.


So what do you do? Sunday morning becomes a gig. You roll in with your gear, play the sets and roll out. It's quite possible that the only time you're in church is if you're on stage.

This is unhealthy on a number of levels. Believe me. I've been there.

Let's consider 1 Peter 4:8-11:

Above all things, have unfailing love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without complaining. As everyone has received a gift, even so serve one another with it, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone serves, let him serve with the strength that God supplies, so that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

I love this verse. Let's draw from this our theology of attitude:

3 Reasons Why Attitude Matters

1. Serving in the local church is about love: The motivation that should rise above all motivations is that of love. The reason you play your guitar in church is to love people. The reason you are on stage is to love. And this verse doesn't just say love. It says to love each other deeply. That lays bare my selfish motivations. How dare I step into a leadership role on stage, leading the church whom Jesus died for, and seek to use their attention for my own gain? Lord, have mercy.

2. Serving on the worship team is a ministry of hospitality: I love this idea of "show[ing] hospitality to one another without complaining." At its core, Sunday morning ministry is about hospitality. We are creating an environment for people to encounter God, not to bask in our awesomeness. What does it mean to be hospitable? It means to create a warm, friendly, welcoming environment. If I'm on stage with a scowl, fully immersed in my own parts, tone and image, how is that being hospitable? It actually has the opposite effect. Imagine visiting a restaurant where all the hostesses and waitresses were taking selfies and didn't even acknowledge your presence? I don't think you'd stick around.

3. Using your gift is an extension of God's grace: If you can sing, play keys or lead a production team, it's not just a reflection of how talented and hard-working you are. At its core, it's a distribution vehicle of God's grace. This is of massive importance. Why? Because it keeps any of us from taking credit for something we are not responsible for. Rather, we do what we do in the strength that God supplies. And in the end, God gets the glory. We work hard; we develop our gift. But we do it because of God's grace, for the glory of His name.

So let's have an attitude check. Look inwardly at your own attitude. If you lead a team, take a hard look at how you're leading your team to have a great attitude.

Teach them how to love the church, be hospitable and serve in the strength that God supplies.

What struggles are you facing in regard to attitude? {eoa}

David Santistevan is a worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For the original article, visit

]]> (David Santistevan ) Worship Mon, 13 Feb 2017 22:00:00 -0500
Transforming the Way God's Word Is Presented in This Media Age

Ben Ferrell believes in the power of media to help ministries grow. He's the CEO of BMCFerrell, a marketing agency with offices in Tulsa and Dallas.

Like skilled mechanics working on an engine, the BMCFerrell team examines a church or ministry, finds out what components aren't working and moves the various elements to their optimal state. The company's success stories include both global ministries, like those of Joyce Meyer and Brian Houston, and small churches.

A Jesus Movement convert, Ferrell has witnessed firsthand how God can use marketing for His glory. BMCFerrell is the result of three men, each following God's call and uniting to build something bigger than any of them. The marketing agency they founded serves some of the most influential pastors and churches worldwide. Ferrell's years in the industry have taught him how to create a Christian workplace of excellence—and how many churches sabotage themselves in marketing.

3 Men

The story of BMCFerrell predates Ferrell, going back to the early days of Oral Roberts' ministry. Roberts called two men into his office—Willard Mason, a CPA and general manager, and Jim Kerby, a writer.

"God has called me to film my tent crusades and put them on television, coast to coast in every city, and it's your job," Roberts told them. "Do that."

"Sir, I don't even know anything about film," Mason said.

"Well, you pray, and God will show you," Roberts replied.

Christian television producers or stations did not exist at the time. Neither did videotape; all media had to be produced on expensive film. But Mason and Kerby worked together for 10 years, establishing Roberts' groundbreaking television ministry. At one point, Roberts promised to reply to every letter viewers sent him. The ministry received millions of letters, and Roberts—always a man of his word—directed Mason and Kerby to design a system to efficiently respond to all of them. With the help of IBM, the duo invented the modern-day direct-mail automation system.

Mason and Kerby worked for Roberts for 10 rewarding but exhausting years before starting a company of their own, BMC Advertising.

The new company handled political campaigns—Mason and Kerby were burnt out on working with ministries. BMC Advertising became famous almost overnight as a political advertising powerhouse. Their win-loss record was astounding. They worked nonstop for their clients. They achieved great success. Then God stepped in with other plans.

"After a few years, both of them—Mr. Kerby and Mr. Mason—were in two different towns in Oklahoma meeting with political clients, and both at the same time felt a strong message: 'We are supposed to turn this agency over to God,'" Ferrell says. "It was independent of each other. They came back and ... shared this information to each one's surprise, and they said, 'Well, OK, let's do this.'"

Mason and Kerby prayed together: "BMC Advertising now belongs to You, Father. Jesus, it's Yours. Do what You want to." The next Monday morning, their phone wouldn't stop ringing. Preachers were calling. The agency had never solicited preachers, and preachers had never called the agency in its previous few years of business. But like clockwork, after Mason and Kerby handed the business over to God, He gave them a healthy new list of clients. They began helping upstart ministries across the nation, including those of R.W. Schambach, Jack Van Impe, John Osteen and Kenneth Hagin.

Meanwhile, young Ben Ferrell was making worship music for God. Saved at 16, Ferrell took what he knew—rock 'n' roll—and tried to give it a Jesus twist.

"When I met Jesus, I turned the music in," Ferrell said. "I would write songs that were popular and put Jesus words to them. We got people saved. It was the Jesus Movement. It was an amazing time. We went to prisons and parks with our guitars and sang about Jesus. Then I heard about ORU."

Ferrell majored in health and physical education at Oral Roberts University (ORU) and played music on the side. He sang in chapel, held concerts and eventually signed a recording contract. He led a national worship program on CBN, toured the world and saw God do signs and wonders through His Spirit. During this time, he realized what a powerful tool media can be for the kingdom.

"My core belief in media is that the anointing of the Holy Spirit can be transmitted through media," Ferrell says. "As the media world has changed, I absolutely believe that the anointing and the grace of the Holy Spirit can be transmitted through Twitter, through Instagram, through television, obviously through books and all the other media. That's my core belief, and that's why I've dedicated my life to media ministry."

Eventually Ferrell felt called to hang up his guitar. He married Kelly in 1982, and they had four children. He needed a job that required less travel, so he applied to work at BMC Advertising in 1989, and Mason and Kerby hired him to handle print media. Ferrell became an instrumental part of the team, securing significant new clients like Meyer, Houston and Bayless Conley.

After Mason's death, Ferrell became a partner at BMC. And in 2001, Kerby retired, selling his portion of the company to Ferrell. BMC Advertising became BMCFerrell. Ferrell still can't believe how God brought the journeys of all three men together to create the company.

"The Lord just blessed with these wonderful clients, and they grew exponentially," he says. "It doubled, it tripled, it quadrupled, and the company just took off like a rocket."

Although three men have led the company, several women have been instrumental in its success. Among them is Ferrell's wife, Kelly, who is chief financial officer and executive producer.

The Ferrells' son, Parker, is also on board as project coordinator. The project is the agency's outreach to the millennial generation.

3 Attributes

Even as the new leader of BMC Advertising, Ferrell found his own plans came second to God's. Ferrell learned that lesson the hard way his first day as owner.

"I walk in the first day as owner of BMC Advertising—Sept. 11, 2001," Ferrell says. "So I walk in, all this self-importance, get my team together and started planning. We're going to do this, that and the other. Then someone taps on my shoulder and says, 'I think there's something you need to see on television.'"

Since that first day, Ferrell has learned a lot about what it means to run a Christian company. He believes three attributes set apart BMCFerrell from secular marketing agencies, the first being an emphasis on relationships and values.

"I think what really sets us apart is our values, our relationships and our results," Ferrell says. "We are very, very strong on relationships. We feel like, first of all, our agency is committed to the kingdom of Jesus, so therefore, we have a divine destiny. ... We feel like relationships are very premium to us, and results are very premium, because we believe that Jesus' kingdom is constantly expanding, and anything that has to do with Jesus' kingdom should be productive, fruitful and expanding."

The relational emphasis manifests in many of the company's projects. After the Ferrells' son went through a prodigal period and then came back to God, Ferrell was inspired to reach other youth with their peers' testimonies. The site gathers true stories of God's saving power, showing millennials they are not alone in their faith journey.

The second attribute that sets BMCFerrell apart is love. In John 13:35, Jesus says, "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Ferrell has strived to create a company that will be known by love—and that means always putting the client first.

"When a client comes to BMCFerrell, we have a tendency to fall in love with them," Ferrell says. "We work with ministries that we believe in, ministries that we have faith that God has anointed them. We just feel like the kingdom of Jesus is all fueled through love. ... When we sit around in meetings, we are constantly saying, 'What is best for the client? What is best for Pastor [John] Siebeling or Pastor Conley, or what's best for the ministry?' We never say, 'What's best for BMC?' or 'What's an opportunity for BMC?' We're not opportunists; we're servants of faith. And we always try to put the ministry first, even if it costs us financially. As we do that unto the Lord, God blesses us for that kingdom principle of putting them first."

For example, BMCFerrell considered what was best for Pastor John Siebeling and The Life Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and the church grew from 3,000 to 6,000 members. Ferrell says most of the church's visitors came as a result of viewing a TV program BMCFerrell designed and placed for Life Church in the Memphis market.

As a daily reminder of his clients' importance, Ferrell hangs their pictures on the wall. He believes faithful service to those clients is the key to his agency's success—both practically and spiritually.

"My No. 1 strategy is to be faithful with the clients and the relationships He's given us because in His kingdom, if we're faithful with whom He gives us and what He gives us, He will give us more," Ferrell says. "In fact, that was one of the things Oral taught Willard [Mason] and Jim [Kerby]: 'God is our source, and if we're faithful with those whom He gives us, He will give us more.'"

The third attribute is the hardest to put into practice. Since the day Mason and Kerby dedicated the business to God, everything at BMCFerrell is given over to the Lord—whether for glory or hardship.

That means giving God credit for all business successes. After all, James 1:17a says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights." But Ferrell challenges his staff to see work as a form of worship, giving glory to God through labor.

"We look at our company as an instrument of the kingdom of Jesus, and our work is worship," Ferrell says. "So at the end of the day, if I've had a bad day, I go home, and on my way home, I say, 'Lord, I gave You my day. I did my best, and I lay it at Your feet as worship.' ... I teach our team there's nothing insignificant in God's kingdom. Whether you're handling a contract with the smallest radio station in the country or you're printing business cards or whatever you're doing, whatever you do is worship unto the Lord, and that makes it glorious."

3 Mistakes

One of BMCFerrell's services is a "media audit." During an audit, the BMCFerrell staff takes a day with a church or ministry and looks at every way it handles media. BMC finds out what the church is trying to say and if the church is actually saying it. BMC checks branding, messaging, target audiences and every other facet to find out what's not working. After years of auditing ministries, Ferrell says most issues stem from three problems: missing fundamentals, inconsistent messaging and weak products.

Many churches are missing fundamental marketing strategies. Ministries must use traditional methods like print and broadcast advertising but also need to have social media strategies in place. Some omissions had the marketers scratching their heads.

"One [church we worked with] has a lot of wonderful names," Ferrell said. "They've worked with people for years. But they're doing no direct-mail marketing, which is very fundamental. If you have good, active names, direct mail is a still a very robust way to market your materials and communicate and build relationships."

Regarding inconsistent messaging, Ferrell says church staff often run social media without a consistent strategy. Other times, staff independently create accounts without realizing the church has existing accounts—with followers—on that platform. Ferrell laughed when he recalled one church with 15 Instagram accounts.

"In our media audit, we look at who's in charge of which thing," he says. "Who's in charge of the Twitter? Who's in charge of the Instagram? Who's in charge of the television? Who's in charge of video for the services? And we find a lot of times those people don't even talk to each other."

When a consistent media plan is being executed, team members are communicating, and the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.

"A lot of times, it's almost like catharsis where people realize, 'Oh my gosh, we're not even talking as a team.' ... When we come in and do that, that makes them realize, 'Hey, we've got to work together, and what we're saying over here needs to be consistent with what we're saying over here.' There needs to be a strategy behind it," Ferrell says.

Finally, in some cases, the product just can't live up to the marketing hype. The church experience was oversold and failed to capture visitors.

"The best TV program can only get someone to the church one time," Ferrell says. "The old-time advertising saying is, 'Advertising can only get a consumer to use your product once. If it's not what is expected—if it's not quality—then all the advertising in the world is not going to help them use your product a second time.'"

That's where the difficult balance lies. Marketing strategy is important, but what turns visitors into members is the quality of the service. Ultimately, any church that combines strong marketing with great ministry is setting itself up for success—and advancing the kingdom. {eoa}

Taylor Berglund is content development editor at Charisma Media and co-host of the "Charisma News," "Charisma Connection" and "C-Pop" podcasts.

]]> (Taylor Berglund ) Marketplace Mon, 06 Feb 2017 19:00:00 -0500
5 Ways for Your Marriage to Thrive in Ministry

My wife and I married over 15 years ago, and we've had our share of ups and downs. Throw in having four kids and starting a church, and we've had many days we felt our marriage was surviving instead of thriving.

Over the years, we've had to make many adjustments to reconnect and grow in our relationship together. The enemy will do everything to destroy your marriage in hopes to stop your ministry. We all know that in theory; but in practice, it's easy to forsake or take for granted your relationship with your spouse.

Here are five ways for your marriage to survive and thrive in ministry:

1. Stay close to Jesus. The bottom line: The closer you are to Jesus the greater potential for you to be closer to your spouse. Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit" (John 15:5). The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and all the rest. Whose relationship wouldn't be better if that is the fruit you are producing? Stay connected to Jesus.

2. Go on a date together each week. We do this during the day once a week. We save on childcare because our kids are in school. Disconnect from social media, email and your phone while you are together. It communicates your spouse is a priority and nothing else matters. Talk about your dreams. Share something funny that happened. Laugh together. Hold hands. Look them in the eye. Reconnect! A regular date is a non-negotiable. You will give every excuse why you can't do this each week. It's a lie. Pay the small price for regular dates or the large price for counseling later.

3. Say you are sorry and mean it. Drop the pride. Stop reading this and call them right now. Life is too short and your calling too great to hold on to grudges. It's the little offenses over the years that build up and destroy marriages. The enemy knows he won if he can get you to see your spouse as your enemy instead of your partner. If you don't let it go, one day you will wake up and say, "How did we get here?" How you got there was one small offense at a time. Let it go!

4. Serve each other. One of the quickest ways to grow bitterness in your relationship is by serving everyone else in ministry but neglect to serve your spouse. Find out ways you can serve them that make them feel appreciated, and do it every day. Pick up the kids from sports practice. Clean up after dinner to give your spouse some alone time. Take the kids to the park while your spouse gets a moment to breathe. It's the little things that make a big difference!

5. Honor each other publicly. Speak well of your spouse in front of others. Paul said, "Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other" (Rom. 12:10, NLT). We tend to focus on what is wrong with our spouse. Instead of finding the 10 things that are wrong, find the one thing that is right and honor them. Your spouse will become more of whatever you speak over them. If you don't like what you are getting, then change your tone and what you are saying.

Your marriage will not become great by accident. In your efforts to reach everyone around you for Christ, don't neglect the one relationship that matters most on this earth. Healthy marriages have the potential to produce healthy ministry. Work on it every day. {eoa}

Kevin Campbell is a church planter and the founding pastor of Elevate Church located in San Diego, California. He has a Master of Divinity from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. Kevin and his wife, Susan, have four children.

For the original article, visit

]]> (Kevin Campbell ) Family Life Wed, 01 Feb 2017 22:00:00 -0500
8 Traits of Excellent Worship Leaders

As I visit churches in my various roles, I'm privileged to worship with many different congregations. The styles aren't always the same, but I can tell you some of the common traits I find in worship leaders who catch my attention.

I know these thoughts are just my opinion, but here are some of those things:

1. The worship leader enjoys what he's doing. I can't tell you how many times I've watched as a worship leader drudged his way through the task. When the leader loves to worship, on the other hand, I love worshiping along with him.

2. He smiles. This trait goes along with the previous one. When you love honoring God, your face shows it.

3. He makes the Word of God central in worship. Perhaps he reads the Word, or maybe he quotes it as a transition. The songs themselves also echo the Word of God, and the leader helps me prepare to hear the Word.

4. He leads well, but without show. I'm not even sure how to describe this trait, but I know it when I don't see it. Showmanship and God-centered worship are contradictory.

5. He chooses songs that are singable. I'm not a musician, so I tread softly here—but I think some songs that work well for a praise team don't always work well for a congregation.

6. He teaches me songs I might not know. He's aware that some in the congregation don't know every song he chooses, so he helps us hear them and sing them. This one's especially important to me when I can see the lyrics on a screen but don't know the melody.

7. He builds prayer into the worship time. The combination of singing God's praises and speaking to Him in prayer is a powerful one for me.

8. He leads with excellence. You can usually tell when the preparation for leading others to worship is lacking.

Again, these thoughts are only mine, often based on only one experience in any given church. But sometimes we get only one opportunity to lead others to worship God. What other traits would you add to this list? {eoa}

Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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]]> (Chuck Lawless ) Worship Fri, 27 Jan 2017 22:00:00 -0500
If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry

The physical environment of a children's ministry is very important. Apart from the volunteers, it is one of the top factors that help a children's ministry grow.

Great facilities can make a children's ministry seem a lot better than it is, and sub-par facilities can make a ministry seem worse than it really is.

Your facilities are making a statement to families. When you spend the time and resources to create kid-friendly, excellent facilities, it says to parents, "We care about your kids. We've created a special place for them. We value your family."

My friend, Bruce Barry, has been helping churches create great environments for kids for many years now. Bruce is a creative genius and knows how to design facilities that cause kids to drag their families to church. He has been instrumental in helping me create great spaces for kids in several ministries I've led over the years and has been a key factor in the growth of these ministries.

In the new book we wrote together, If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry, Bruce shares 10 steps to creating great environments for kids. Here's an overview:

1. Research

  • The internet is a great source for inspiration.
  • Type in words related to your theme such as Yosemite Park, under the sea, Toon Town or a Disney movie.
  • Use words that best describe what you are trying to accomplish.
  • You are searching for a look and feel that reflects your thoughts.
  • Print out all your favorites and lay them out. You will find a pattern emerging.

2. Brainstorm

  • Gather a team to brainstorm with you.
  • Keep an open mind—this will allow you to think of things you never considered before 
  • You will find your collective creativity creates an explosion of creativity.

3. Name It and Brand It

  • The name should be something that best describes your theme.
  • The theme and name of your brand should be directly related.
  • Sometimes you can work in reverse and create a theme based on the name you already have.
  • Once you have your name, it's time to create a logo.

4. Kids' Entrance

  • Remember, first impression is everything.
  • The entrance should scream "kids."
  • Ask yourself "Is it easy for parents to find the kids' area?"
  • Have good directional signage. Whether mobile or permanent, you need signage that directs parents and kids to the kids' area.
  • Look at your space from a kid's perspective. Stoop down; see it through the eyes of a kid.
  • Make your theme immersive.
  • Include characters in your design that can help kids identify with your theme.
  • Use characters throughout murals and wall coverings, signage, puppetry, and more.

5. Check-In Area

  • A check-in desk should be a focal point designed to function efficiently for the parents, with elements that will excite the kids.
  • Make sure to create an area to register first-time guests
  • Show a hint of what is to come beyond the check-in area.

6. Add Color

  • Once you've registered the kids, you are ready to enter their world.
  • There's nothing more boring than walking through walls that are just white or beige.
  • Choose fun colors for your walls, doors and trim.
  • Create emphasis on one wall by painting it a complementary color.
  • For durability and longevity, consider custom-themed, commercial-grade wall covering, it's fun, vibrant and fade-resistant.

 7. Signage

  • Create room signs.
  • Make sure they look memorable and blend in with your theme.
  • Signs can be suspended from the ceiling over the door or mounted next to it.
  • Choose characters related to the room theme so kids can immediately recognize their room.

8. Worship Area

  • Create excitement in your worship area.
  • Whether it is a classroom, multi-purpose room or worship room, this should be your centerpiece.
  • Collect or build props to be part of your theme.

9. 3-D Elements

  • There is nothing more impressive than adding 3-D elements.
  • It will bring your environment to life and create the Disney factor.

10. Get Up and Make It Happen

  • It's time to make a difference in your children's ministry.
  • Roll up your sleeves, gather your supplies and create like Disney.

No matter your church size or budget, you can do something to create fun environments for kids. Churches that do this will reap the rewards many times over in kids and families reached. {eoa}

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]]> (Dale Hudson ) Children Thu, 19 Jan 2017 19:00:00 -0500