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7 Strategies for Taking Your Community by Storm

Fellow pastors and church leaders, we are in a battle for souls. The Bible encourages us to “endure hardship as a soldier.”

This is not to say that we are at war with people, and we need to be very careful to realize that the war we are involved in is spiritual in nature. In fact, the war we are engaged in is far more important than any earthly one. The implications of our war are eternal.

Victory is not a matter of who will be in charge politically or who will control natural resources. It’s a battle that will determine how many people we can rescue from sin forever. We’re talking about souls for eternity. read more

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Ed Stetzer: Church Planting, Partner Churches and Denominations

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of planting another church. In April 2011, our church-planting team and a core group of believers launched Grace Church outside of Nashville.

The methods of planting may have changed, but the motivation has stayed the same.

Needless to say, I love church planting. Yet church planting is different today than it was 25 years ago when I planted my first church in Buffalo, N.Y. We started that first church plant in Buffalo just going door to door. In other churches, we used direct mail, telemarketing campaigns and just about any other way to get the word out. read more

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What's Your Antidote for the Monday Morning Blues?

What does your church do for people? Probably more than you’ve thought. Every Monday, scores of pastors are ready to walk away from ministry. It’s easy for us to forget how incredibly helpful the local church is in shaping and benefitting people’s lives. Let me encourage you about this for the next five minutes.

Last week I heard from a couple whose trajectory was completely changed by what they learned in New Song’s Financial Peace class. Today they have less debt, less tension, more hope, more discipline and more skills to apply to so many areas of their lives. I walked away thinking, “We have hundreds of families who are out of debt or on their way. Offering Financial Peace may be the greatest favor our church has ever done for people.” read more

Tony-Morgan

How to Identify Your Church’s Community Persona, Part 2

If you ask most churches, they are genuinely seeking how to reach their community. Identifying your target visitor through building a community persona is the first step.

Next, you need to figure out how to reach those you have identified and meet their needs.

One important way to achieve this is through generational marketing. Each audience is shaped by different life experiences, traditions and values and should be communicated to using the appropriate and effective channels. read more

3 Proven Ways to Engage Your Community

Everything communicates.

What people experience in your church has the power to propel them toward Christ or push them away. What we do matters, and doing it well is essential. From your website to the parking lot signage, more than likely your first-time guests have gotten an earful before they’ve even heard the first word of your sermon.

Here are a few time-tested proven how-tos for engaging your community: read more

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How to Identify Your Church's Community Persona

Building an ideal customer profile is a common business practice whose goal is to identify the type or types of people the business caters to. This involves identifying needs, wants, pain points and more. This type of study into the minds of customers helps businesses market more effectively and offer products and services that really meet the needs people have.

So, how does this relate to your church?

Quite simply, if you can learn to identify those you serve best in the community, you will better understand how to attract them to your church and meet their needs. read more

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5 Tips for Writing to Your Easter Visitors

For many people in your community, Easter is the only day of the year they’ll show up at church. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to those who don’t think about church the other 364 days of the year.

You’ll want to reach out to your visitors and thank them for coming. Depending upon the size and culture of your church, you may make a personal visit, call them or write them a letter (whether through the mail or via e-mail)—or very possibly do all three.

In fact, if you visit them or call them, sending them a follow-up letter is an appropriate next step. It’ll allow you to give them some more details about your church and guard against the possibility that you’ll forget something important. read more

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Are Events Killing the Church?

Tim Stevens shared a great post recently about “The New Normal Project” at Granger Community Church. It was a post written about what used to be known as stewardship campaigns. You should check out the full article.

This is the quote that grabbed my attention:

“We had very few extra events (i.e. banquets, home meetings) and focused everything we could around the weekend services. People are very busy with very good things—and most of them can only give us one shot a week. That doesn’t mean they are unspiritual or don’t love Jesus or the church. It just means they are living their lives, investing in their families and contributing to society.”

Tim was writing about their specific project, but I think we as church leaders need to be challenged by Granger’s learning. Generally, churches are very event-driven. We are a one-trick pony. read more

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Rick Warren: When Your Church Doesn’t Match the Community

What do you do when your church no longer looks like the community that surrounds it?

Focus on what your church does well.  Don’t try to be something you’re not.  If your church is primarily made up of elderly folks, decide to become the most effective ministry to senior citizens in your community that you can possibly be.

Don’t try to be a church for young families.  Strengthen what you’re already doing and don’t worry about what you can’t do. Keep doing what you’ve been doing—just do it better. Chances are that there’s an unchurched pocket of people in your community that only your church can reach. Find those people—and reach them. read more

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Rick Warren: The Four Laws of God’s Blessing

Here are the four laws of God's blessing:

1. Our blessings should flow to others. The Bible teaches us that we are blessed not just so that we can feel good, not just so we can be happy and comfortable, but so that we will bless others. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2, “I will bless you ... and you will be a blessing” (NIV). This is the first law of blessing: It must flow outwardly.

How do you bless others? By serving a need, whether it is physical or emotional support, financial help, or practical advice. "Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand" (Philippians 1:4 MSG). read more

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Can You Spot the Real Christians?

The unsaved see believers as hypocritical, and no different than themselves. Here’s how to live an authentic faith that stands out from “normal” American Christianity.

I hesitated to accept the gospel in college because of the behavior of people who claimed they were Christians. They were not much different than me. Their language, actions and behaviors weren’t so special that I viewed what they had as a better life. Why would I want what they had? What was so special or different about it?

When it comes to our culture, it’s more of the same. The music industry feeds our youth with profanity and sex, but then those same musicians stand up and thank “the man upstairs” at awards ceremonies. Our sports heroes party, use performance-enhancing drugs and get into fights, but then they kneel down and thank God the moment they score a touchdown.

What is the world supposed to think of this? Would the real Christians please stand up? read more

Churches Should Build Community Ministry

What better time than a recession to pool your resources and minister to the needy?

It started with a bag of groceries to meet a serious need in our community. From there, our benevolence requests went from six a day to more than 40 a day, and 15 percent of our congregation were out of work. At the peak of the economic recession, our community was hurting and needed real assistance. In response, Saddleback Church launched a food pantry.

People came to our doors the first day we opened them. Today we have fed more than 80,000 people in south Orange County, Calif. Our Food Pantry provides fresh and nonperishable grocery items to families in the community. Pick-ups are available once every 30 days and walk-ins are welcome on select days and times every week.

Within two years, our pantry turned into The PEACE Center, where we also provide free legal aid, immigration help, tutoring clubs, ESL (English as a second language) classes, medical services and many more services.

And the most amazing part is that more than 1,600 people have given their lives to Jesus because of the work done through the center. People come not just with hungry stomachs but with hungry hearts as well. read more

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Christmas in Connecticut: Morning for Newtown Families

Our hearts continue to grieve over the horrific evil that was unleashed against precious, helpless children last week at an elementary school in Connecticut. In the midst of the pain we also remember that hope rises and prevails over darkness through the Advent of God’s eternal Son.

There are many questions. Answers are complex and elusive. As we try to process such unspeakable atrocities, trying to make sense of the senseless, trying to reason out the irrational, let’s walk through this against the backdrop of what we do know. Here is what we know with certainty.

Sin always brings tragic consequences. The Bible is clear that all rebellion against God will exact payments. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). No matter how troubled the shooter was, there is no way to begin to understand such events without an acknowledgement of sin, evil, and the activity of the devil and his minions. Jesus called the devil “the thief” and said his intent against humanity is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). read more

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In Light of Newtown Massacre, Resist the Devil, Not God

One of the most difficult things a pastor has to do when a tragedy occurs is to try to find the words to comfort a grieving family and explain how God can allow such a horrible thing to take place. While I do not purport to have all the answers for such situations—sometimes it's best just to be there for grieving families and offer prayer for them rather then give explanations—these instances do highlight the existence of evil in the world.

On the day of the shooting in Newtown, Conn., I was shocked to hear both a prominent television news anchor and the governor of Connecticut use the word evil several times when referring to the heinous act of the shooter. Where doe evil comes from?

Jesus said that the thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He also called him a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Rather than cause me to doubt the existence or goodness of God (like Satan wants), heinous acts like this should remind us that there is a real devil in the world who revels in destroying human life while seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). read more

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Connecticut Shootings: Why the Shock and Awe?

Amid the "most wonderful season of all" comes the tragic news of a deranged young man entering an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 27, including 20 children. Tragically, Christmas for these families will likely be the darkest of many dark hours to come. The days when parents could send their children off to school with confidence that they would be cared for and protected seem long gone.

Just this summer we watched a senseless shooting spree in a Colorado movie theatre take the lives of 12 people and injure another 59. The national premiere of The Dark Knight Rises had Americans clamoring for tickets to be entertained by violent behavior. When tragedies like these occur, why do we respond with such shock and awe? Psychiatrist Keith Ablow said, "This kind of shock registers with people—because it seems like the unthinkable keeps moving into the sphere of our reality."

The "unthinkable" first surfaced in mankind thousands of years ago when Cain killed his brother Abel out of mere jealousy and rivalry. God had warned Cain, "Sin is crouching at your door," but Cain ignored God's word and committed murder. God punished Cain for taking innocent life but the violent shedding of blood has continued for centuries. Why? read more

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Joshua Fowler: ‘Heaven Stood at Attention’ for God Day

In an age where the government—both national and local—has seemingly neglected God’s Word, Apostle Joshua Fowler believes Dec. 12, 2012, will be recorded with historical significance.

Wednesday, Fowler and other leaders of God’s army joined local government leaders at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando to proclaim 12-12-12 to be “God Day: Awakening a City to Awaken Nations.” A representative of Mayor Buddy Dyer’s office, city commissioners and a representative of United State Congressman Daniel Webster’s office were on hand for the proclamation.

“When that proclamation—signed by the mayor and city commissioners—was read, the prayer was powerful. God just came in and arrested the place,” said Fowler, senior minister of Life Legacy Church in Orlando. “When the city commissioners left, their words were that they were rocked by this. God just touched them. read more

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Post-Sandy Chaplains Rely on 'Divine Appointments'

Chance. Coincidence. Happenstance. Those words don’t exist in the vocabulary of Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains.

“Because our chaplains pray each morning for God's direction, we don't believe that we ever accidentally stumble into a meeting with somebody as we’re ministering in the aftermath of a disaster,” said Jack Munday, international director of the ministry. “Those encounters were put in place by God. We call them ‘divine appointments.’”

And those divine appointments have been happening for more than a month now in New York and New Jersey following the impact of Superstorm Sandy in late October.

Take, for instance, the recent experience of chaplains in Nassau County, N.Y., where the chaplains have been reaching out to hurting survivors since Oct. 29. read more

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