Ministry Today | Serving and empowering church leaders

The Righteous Risktaker

For missionary innovator Kevin Turner, the safest place on earth is in God's will ... even if it means getting shot at, shelled and held at gunpoint.
By Matthew Green

There's no such thing as a closed country.” That's the overriding philosophy of Kevin Turner, founder of Strategic World Impact (SWI), an organization that specifically targets active war zones, disaster regions and areas of Christian persecution with humanitarian relief and evangelistic ministry.

But before his salvation in 1989, the rural Michigan native describes himself as being in bondage to fear.

“I was afraid of the dark, afraid of the day, afraid of being in a room by myself.” Since then, in the course of his adventures in more than 100 countries, Turner has been shelled, shot at, held at gunpoint, pursued by Yemeni terrorists, and he's even called home a few times to say his last goodbyes. Some have criticized him for the risks he takes in alleviating suffering and preaching the gospel in hostile environments, but Turner is quick with an answer.

“Jesus said, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel,'” he says with a chuckle. “He didn't say anything about coming back.”

With help from the U.S. military, the Bartlesville, Okla.-based missions agency trains its short-term and long-term teams to enter the most dangerous areas in the world. Team members are taught techniques in cultural understanding, gospel storying, trauma counseling-as well as survival, antiterrorism, land-mine awareness, evasion, escape, rescue and facing interrogation.

Although some of Turner's full-time staff have military backgrounds (a West Point grad and a retired Army intelligence officer), the organization prepares laypeople from any vocation to pursue ministry in the toughest parts of the world. Turner sees the current global climate of terrorism and war as a perfect opportunity for ministry.

“We have a golden opportunity to provide life-saving support and bring the gospel,” he says. “God is the one opening the doors-making it possible.”

He describes the pre-tsunami challenges in the Aceh province of Indonesia. “From 1634, Aceh has been closed to the gospel,” he recalls. “Now, we're preaching the gospel in a mosque there and showing the Jesus film. That disaster was allowed by God so that we could touch hearts.”

More recently, SWI has been involved in earthquake relief in Pakistan and built a school for 250 students there. Muslim, Hindu and Christian children attend and hear the gospel presented every day.

“We never do humanitarian assistance without a proclamation of the gospel,” Turner says.

“That's our commitment.”

SWI has a lean and mean style of ministry, and its staff is small for the global scope of its involvement.

“SWI only exists to carry out the vision God gave us. The vision isn't the organization, it's the ministry. The organization is a necessary evil to carry that out,” Turner says.

“My hope is that we never lose our edge, that we never get to a point where I just tell people about it and stay out of danger. That's when I resign.”

In the meantime, Turner keeps his eyes on the nightly news-looking for a new opportunity to take Christ's compassion to the most unlikely places on earth. “I will not treat life with such kid gloves that I never risk living it,” he contends. “I'm not in any more danger in a war zone in God's will than I am driving down the highway in Tulsa.”

For more information on the ministry of Kevin Turner and Strategic World Impact, visit

Invite the Unexpected

Compassionate ministry is the birthplace of miracles.
By Matthew Barnett

My favorite verse is Matthew 26:6 (NKJV): “And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper ... ”

Why? First, think of where this verse is located. In literal biblical timing, this is about 72 hours away from the crucifixion-72 hours before Jesus would endure the most horrible death imaginable.

If you knew in three days you were going to die, would you be having dinner with a leper? Think about the disease of leprosy. It is a sight so horrifying and a smell so repugnant that most people cannot even stay in a room with a leper without getting sick. The leper is the outcast of society, thrown away and rejected. And our Jesus, hours before he was to die, was in the home of a leper.

Why? I believe Jesus wanted one last inspiration for why He had to go to the cross. He wanted one last motivating image in His mind for why He had to endure the pain. As the pain became too much to bear and He could see the angels in heaven at His beck and call, ready to come and rescue Him, He could see Simon the Leper fresh in his mind.

One of the most essential ingredients to effective ministry is-without a doubt-compassion. Compassion is what releases the power of God for miracles. If we are not moved with compassion for our cities, then we will never have the ability to reach them. Every time you see the words “moved with compassion” in regards to Jesus you see miracles and the supernatural release of the power of God.

How did Jesus get compassion? He put himself in situations where compassion was necessary. He put Himself face to face with pain and heartache so that it forced Him to act. It broke His heart and forced Him to do something. It wasn't enough to observe, walk away and then forget what He just saw.

This brings us to one of the most important questions we face as leaders: How do we get compassion?

The problem with most of us is that we never see the pain. We never see the heartache, and, because of it, we are never moved with compassion. Without compassion the power of God is never released in our lives, our ministries and our churches.

The key to getting compassion is to do it the very same way that Jesus Christ did it.

Matthew 14:14 is the best lesson, First, Jesus saw the multitude. If you don't see them, you cannot have a broken heart for them. Second, Jesus was moved with compassion. And third, He healed their sick.

Jesus' healing of the blind man in John 9 is a similar occurrence. The reason a miracle occurred that day is because the words “He saw” occurred first. If Jesus didn't see the blind man, He never would have healed him. The problem with most churches is they expect the blind man to find them. If we want miracles, we have to put ourselves in situations in which miracles can occur.

The ministries of The Dream Center are all miracles. They are miracles that have changed people's lives. And every one of them was born out of brokenness and compassion.

That is why we require our staff to stay connected to the streets. It is when they are face to face with the needs of our city that their hearts can be broken and they can develop ministries relevant to meeting the needs of our city.

Matthew Barnett is the author of The Church That Never Sleeps and is senior pastor of The Dream Center ( in Los Angeles.


Paul Paino, general overseer of Calvary Ministries International (CMI), died September 3, at the age of 82. Paino founded CMI in 1969 as a fellowship of ministers and churches to enable apostolic ministers to fulfill God's call to preach the gospel.

Kyle Lake, pastor of University Baptist Church, Waco, Texas, and the author of two recent books, died after being electrocuted during a Sunday-morning baptismal service Sunday, October 30. Lake, 33, is survived by a wife and three young children.

Adrian Rogers died November 15, 2006, at the age of 74, after battling cancer and double pneumonia. Rogers served 35 years as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn. He hosted a radio and television program called Love Worth Finding, which reached more than 150 countries.

Wanted: News Tips. Have you caught wind of a noted pastor or church leader who has made news by planting a new church, running for public office, retiring after a long tenure in ministry, making a transition into another area of service or launching/completing a building program? If so, send news tips with the subject line “transitions” to

Sermon Radar

Detecting cultural intersections with the gospel ... without diluting truth.
By Mark Batterson

According to Harvard Business School professors Anthony Mayo and Nitin Nohria, there is one common denominator all great leaders possess, regardless of age or industry: “acute sensitivity to the social, political, technological and demographic contexts that came to define their eras.”

Let me put it in biblical terms.

First Chronicles 12:32 (NKJV) refers to the men of Issachar. It says they “had understanding of the times [i.e. they had tremendous insight] to know what Israel ought to do [i.e. they had tremendous foresight].” Here's another way of saying it: they had foresight because they had insight. They were visionary leaders because they were experts in cultural exegesis.

There is a fine line between redeeming culture and compromising truth. But it's a line we must be willing to walk. Redeeming culture doesn't mean watering down the gospel. It means translating the gospel into a language that people can understand, using culturally relevant metaphors so that people can grasp spiritual truths.

The 18th century Scottish thinker, Andrew Fletcher, said, “Give me the making of the songs of a nation and I care not who writes its laws.” Our culture is shaped, even more than we know, by the movies we watch and the music we listen to.

At National Community Church, our sermon series God @ the Box Office and God @ the Billboards are attempts to exegete the movies and music that are shaping the cultural consciousness of 175 million unchurched Americans. Then we juxtapose them with Scripture. Those series are two of the hardest hitting series we do all year. The reason is simple: movies and music are brutally honest about the human condition. They may not contain the truth, but they are in touch with reality.

Apologist Ravi Zacharias says, “I credit them with a greater degree of honesty and unmasked vulnerability in recognizing the anguish within the human heart than the academician, who often conceals such a struggle behind a façade of self-assurance.”

So how do we get better grades in cultural exegesis? It starts with doing our cultural homework. That is what Paul did in Athens (see Acts 17). He not only studied the Athenian altars, he even cited one of their poets. That gave him grounds to contend for the truth in the Areopagus.

The way I keep a pulse on the culture is by strategically reading magazines and watching television programs. I'm obviously not recommending you ingest high doses of morally objectionable content. But we can't afford to bury our head in the sand either. There are illustrations everywhere. All we have to do is have our sermon radar on so we can redeem them. For instance, I was watching Punk'd on MTV, and we decided to redeem the idea and turn it into Praiz'd. Instead of pulling a prank, we decided to do surprise celebrations for our leaders who were going the extra mile.

Here is a lesson I've learned pastoring a church that is 75 percent unchurched and de-churched: When you use biblical illustrations, it gives you credibility with Christians. When you use cultural illustrations, it gives you credibility with the un-churched and de-churched. Who are you catering to? We need to reach both. The most important thing in preaching isn't what you say. It's what people hear. And people only hear things they perceive as relevant to their lives. Perceived relevance will make or break you as a preacher.

The way to increase the level of perceived relevance is to talk about things people are thinking about. That's what Jesus did in Luke 13:4. He references the tower of Siloam that killed 18 Galileans. Why? Because it was on the frontal lobes of everyone listening to him!

Let's not just talk. Let's be heard. Biblical exegesis is half the battle. Cultural exegesis is the other half.

Carpe culture.

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church ( in Washington, D.C. Composed largely of Capitol Hill staffers, the church is 80 percent single and 80 percent 20-something. Mark is also the author of ID: The True You (Xulon) and a daily blog (
To check out an episode of “Praiz'd,” visit and click “Eye & Ear Candy.”

Out of Time?

Make every minute count in youth ministry ... and spend less time doing it.
By Jeanne Mayo

When it comes to our time priorities, many youth leaders are more “plumber” than “pastor.” How? They find leaks and fix them. And all too often in youth ministry, we spend the majority of our time “fixing” things and students that are already “broken.”

Granted, there's nothing wrong with being a caring, pastoral leader. But far too often, your potential spiritual champions get very little of your time because your EGRs (“extra grace required”) are consistently demanding attention with their noisy “leaks.”

Most of us are familiar with the notorious Pareto Principle. Simply stated, it says that “80 percent of your results will come from 20 percent of your investment.” So if you're interested in being more than a “youth pastor plumber” in 2006, you might wisely determine where your 20 percent of time investment is that reaps nearly 80 percent of your youth ministry progress. With that in mind, a wise leader would strategically try to enlarge that productive 20 percent to an even larger percentage.

Take a few minutes and write down the top five, 10, or 20 most influential students in your youth ministry. (Realize that this list could also include potential leaders as well as students who are not even spiritually on target yet.) As you re-prioritize your youth ministry time investment for 2006, determine to spend 80 percent of your relational time with those people.

Does the Pareto Principle work in youth ministry? You bet! This time two years ago, after building a youth ministry to nearly 1,000 students on a weekly basis in Illinois, I found myself starting all over again in Atlanta. I began with 20 students and one volunteer leader.

Now, nearly two years later, we average approximately 200 each week and have about 20 leaders. Even more exciting, many of the students are finding an authentic relationship with Jesus in their personal lives.

How did it all begin? I simply made a “Holy Spirit hit list” of my top potential influencers. That list included influential students (Christian and non-Christian) as well as potential leaders. The results didn't occur overnight nor did they come as a supernatural outpouring in the services. Instead, they were the long-haul fruit of living a prioritized life relationally.

Let me walk you through determining your priorities in your overall life and youth ministry. We can make the process simple by boiling it down to three words, all starting with the letter “R”:

“R” No. 1: What's REQUIRED of me? In other words, there are some priorities in your life and youth ministry that are non-negotiable requirements. Omit these from your time-scheduling and you're in double-trouble. (Ever try telling your senior pastor that attending church on Sundays is “no longer one of your time priorities?”)

“R” No. 2: What will give me the greatest RETURN personally and in youth ministry? Usually this answer pivots around some of your strength areas. For youth leaders, your high-return areas will be developing leaders and creating a weekly youth service that is really worth attending.

“R” No. 3: What gives me my greatest sense of REWARD? The internal fulfillment that comes from prioritizing your time investments often points to areas of highest reward. For me personally, it usually points back to doing something that helps to coach and mentor youth pastors.

Amazingly enough, when I am working in this arena, time flies by because I'm in my “zone.” A wise man once said, “Find something you really love to do and then you won't have to work a day in your life.”

As you launch into 2006, I can't think of a more vital area to revisit than your time priorities. Peter Drucker, the famous management guru, says “Do first things first, and second things, not at all.” Pretty wise counsel for those of us in youth ministry, don't you think? Unless of course, you feel that your mission in life is to be a plumber.

Jeanne Mayo is the president of Youth Source Ministries and director of Oxygen Youth and Youth Adult Outreach. For more information on her monthly youth ministry coaching CDs, The Source and Up Close, check out

Counseling Pre-Believers

How to move from addressing symptoms to healing souls. By Larry Keefauver Much of what passes for pastoral counseling is merely palliative. People desire relief not repentance, and unfortunately we often accede, desiring to please people rather than God.

Confronting the roots of sin and exorcising the lies of secular paradigms and philosophies demands spiritual and emotional stamina on the part of both counselor and counselee.

Truthfully, most people in pain would rather cope or deny than look deeply into themselves to uncover the authentic roots of their pain and then turn to the Source who will satisfy their deepest longings and needs.

Surface behaviors and presenting emotions-along with his resulting problems, crises and stresses-do not represent the real, deep-seated needs of a person. Remember, the presenting problem is rarely the real problem. Pastoral counseling must touch the deepest needs of a human being and connect him to the One who meets those needs, if genuine and lasting restoration, growth and healing are to transpire.

Can we and should we counsel pre-believers? Absolutely. Here's why and a too brief practicum in how.

How you, the counselor, perceive the counselee dramatically affects your ability to truly encourage, edify and equip a counselee. Pre-believers who simply get relief are enabled to continue to deny their longings for God and their need for radical repentance.

Without first identifying his own emotions, choices, deep beliefs and convictions, the pre-believer can never reach an understanding of how completely separate he is from the One who can quench his deepest thirsts for significance and security. As the counselor moves from the surface issues or emotions to the depths of a person's soul, the counselee begins to understand more than the feelings of pain she has.

The pre-believer in the counseling process comes to insights about why he has made wrong choices and what beliefs and convictions have fueled those errant decisions.

Wrong choices are rooted in sin, not in heredity, environment or others who have hurt us. Scripture becomes a surgical tool, exposing the cancers of wrong beliefs and idolatrous substitutes for the living bread and water of Christ.

Counseling a pre-believer is an irreversible journey toward a whole relationship with God, and then others and self. With this understanding on the counselor's part, a process of moving from the presenting problem to the answer, plans and a hopeful future become a journey from existence into life, from coping into healing.

Counseling pre-believers has two critical goals: First, there is a need to connect that person with the risen Lord who meets all needs. Second, the counselee must decide to turn from wrong convictions and beliefs to the truths of God's Word.

Those truths can become the foundations for repentance, change and making right decisions-which will empower the counselee to act, speak and think righteously. Such a life will not be free from all pain; but it will satisfy the deepest longings of the heart.

Larry Keefauver, D.Min., is president and founder of Your Ministry Counseling Services ( and the author of numerous books. He teaches counseling and family studies and serves as executive director of the Beacon Institute of Ministry at Beacon University.

The Therapy Toolbox

Spiritual techniques for addressing emotional problems

Certainly tools and techniques from a variety of therapeutic sources may be utilized. But in the end, the meeting of pre-believer with Christ has to happen for lasting healing to be effected.

Listening. This tool enables the counselor to hear beyond the presenting problem and allows the pre-believer to articulate both the emotions and facts that have precipitated a crisis in his or her life.

Questioning. “What led to this problem?” “What do you want for you?” “What are you feeling?” “What is the pain?” “What is confusing you?” Refuse to berate the counselee about what he or she should or should not be doing. Such blaming or condemning statements will only cause defensiveness or denial on the counselee's part.

Speaking truth in love. When a counselee identifies mistakes and wrong decisions, go deeper into exploring what beliefs and attitudes may have led that person into a wrong path. While others may have wrongly hurt them, they alone choose their responses and reactions. Assuaging guilt with temporary relief removes the Spirit's conviction.

Meeting deep needs. Desperate people, hungry for security and significance, will try to satisfy their longings and desires somewhere. Pre-believers can be led by a compassionate, pastoral counselor to understand the roots of their deepest longings.

Copyright Exemptions

What you can use and how you can use it-without asking permission.
By Susan Fontaine Godwin

Too often we hear about what we can't do when it comes to copyrights. I'd like to hear more about what we can do.” This was the recent lament of one of our church clients. With that in mind, let's focus on what the U.S. copyright law provides in the way of exemptions from required permissions:

1. Religious Service Exemption. Exempts performance and display of copyrighted work of a religious nature during religious services.
2. Display Exemption. Exempts the “owner of a particular copy lawfully made” from having to get permission from the copyright owner to display the copy.
3. Non-profit Performance Exemption. Exempts performance and display of copyrighted works if proceeds are solely used for educational, religious or charitable purposes.
4. Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption. Applies to non-profit educational institutions only (most church activities do not qualify for this exemption.)
5. Public Domain. Once a copyright term expires, the right to copy the work, “falls into the public domain,” meaning that the public has the right to use and/or exploit the work.

The religious service exemption (Section 110[3]) provides that “performance of a dramatico-musical work of a religious nature, or display of a work, in the course of services at a place of worship or other religious assembly” shall not constitute infringement of copyright.

In other words, you do not have to get permission from the copyright owner to sing a song or display the lyrics of a work of a religious nature in a religious service. This applies to the “performance” and “display” rights, only two of the five rights of the copyright owner.

The display exemption (Section 109[c]) provides that the “owner of a particular copy lawfully made ... is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to display that copy publicly, either directly or by the projection of no more than one image at a time, to viewers present at the place where the copy is located.” The key phrase is “copy lawfully made,” purchased with permission from the copyright owner or for songs covered by the Christian Copyright License International (CCLI) license.

The public domain exemption is prominent in church activities because of the frequent use of older hymns. Copyright protection is for a limited term (currently 70 years after the death of the author) and when that term expires, the work falls into the public domain. The public then has the right to use and/or exploit the work.

There are several exceptions to the public domain exemption:

1. The words and music to a song (e.g. “Be Thou My Vision”) may be public domain, but an arrangement may be copyrighted.
2. New verse(s) may be copyrighted and added to a public domain song.
3. New music may be set to public domain words.
4. New words may be set to public domain music.

In all of the above cases, if the modifications or additions to the public domain work are original works of authorship, then the parts that are original works are subject to protection under the copyright law. In addition to the exemptions listed above, there are several licenses authorizing churches to use copyrighted works, which are included in each license program, in a number of ways without first obtaining permission.

If your church wants to use songs for non-exempt church performances, such as concerts, special events, playing music before or after religious services, aerobic and dance classes, and music-on-hold, you can obtain discounted licenses from the three performance rights organizations in the United States: ASCAP, BMI and SESAC (, and

The use of any other types of copyrighted material for various activities and formats requires permission or licensing from the copyright owners prior to use.

Susan Fontaine Godwin, author and educator, is president of Righteous Oaks Music Inc., specializing in music-publishing administration and Christian copyright administration (

Legal Screenings

Are the video clips used in your sermons breaking copyright laws?

Many pastors now use video clips to complement their sermons. However, like any work of art, film and television productions are protected by copyright laws. To make keeping these laws easier, CCLI, in joint venture with the Motion Picture Licensing Corporation (MPLC), has a new video license called Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI), which allows license holders to show videos included in the license's group of producers, in church services ( The Church Video License provides legal coverage for churches and ministry organizations to show home videocassettes and videodiscs of motion pictures, whether playing just a few seconds of a video or showing a full-length feature. This license covers manufactured videocassettes and videodiscs purchased, rented or borrowed. Other ministry organizations (e.g. schools, childcare, conferences and camps) can also be licensed to include videos in their programs.

Mail Call

Seven reasons to keep a strong-and clean-church mailing list.
By David E. Manning

Show me a church that keeps a clean mailing list, and I'll show you a church with a clear vision. Every pastor aims to keep the seats filled on Sunday-but what about communicating with current (and potential) members from Monday through Saturday, raising funds for outreach and promoting the events and services your church offers?

Successful businesses have found that maintaining a mailing list keeps their companies in the awareness of the public. With little effort and a small up-front cost, your mailing list can do the same for your church. Here are seven good reasons for starting one-and for keeping it current:

Communication. Your mailing list is a lifeline to your congregation, and your congregation is only as strong as your weakest link-or in this case, the name on your mailing list that was neglected. Whether through newsletters, invitations or birthday and holiday greetings, find a way to connect with everyone on your mailing list on a regular basis.

Information. A mailing list can give you valuable information about who's in your congregation. A simple demographic overlay can be appended to any list's database, providing information such as marital status, presence of children, ages of adults and children, household income, gender and so on. By understanding your congregation you can better serve its needs.

Attendance. Your mailing list can more accurately gauge your effectiveness in reaching those searching for a church home. Be sure you obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of every visitor that attends your church-as well as regular attendees. This allows church staff to get a better handle on who's coming in the front door and who's leaving through the back.

Outreach. When used properly, your mailing list can become one of the most effective tools available for outreach ministries. For example, if you knew that certain people on your mailing list could be trusted time and time again to show up at-and even lead-outreach events, you could put your list to work for you. By easily identifying these individuals, you can empower them to coordinate these types of events and report back to you.

Special needs. Fifth, your mailing list can help identify some special needs within your congregation. For example, let's assume you keep a detailed list and know that several of your members are experts in the area of information technology. If your church is in need of some Web site design, then you know whom to turn to-even if it's just for a recommendation.

Fund raising. Sixth, your mailing list can increase funds to support the different ministries within the church. Taking advantage of a well-kept mailing list will allow you to mail a small brochure, postcard or flyer to a key segment of the list who might be interested in helping a specific ministry.

For example, if the youth ministry needed to raise funds for a missions trip, it would be advantageous to know who donated in the past, who has a heart for missions or even someone who has a heart for the youth. They should be the first place to turn in the event of a fundraiser.

What if you could mail a small brochure at key times of the year displaying the pastor's teaching tapes and/or special projects that need funding, such as the youth group or a missions group or the sale of CDs or videos of the worship team? Don't you think those people who are most familiar with you would buy for themselves as well as family and friends?

Ministry support. While a large percentage of the support of tithes and offerings comes from those attending church on a regular basis, we should not overlook those who may not attend or visitors from different areas of the country. If you have an average attendance of 400 and a membership of 525, a portion of the support may come from those who did not attend regularly. So, it would make sense to contact those visitors and non-regular attendees on special occasions such as raising funds for hurricane relief, a new building or a missions trip.

David E. Manning Jr. is director of consumer marketing for Strang Communications. His experience includes more than 10 years of sales and marketing.

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