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10 Diseases That Make Churches Unhealthy

In the 1990s, Peter Wagner published The Healthy Church, a book describing several diseases that churches sometimes exhibit. Some of his descriptions are quite helpful (e.g., koinonitis = excessive, inward fellowship), and the list itself challenges readers to come up with their own descriptions.

Here are 10 diseases I see as I consult with unhealthy churches around the country:

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Is It Worth the Price, Pastor?

Once in a while, a pastor has to make a tough call.

Do you speak out on a controversial issue or not?

Yes, you could come down hard on the latest political correctness issue dividing the country and enraging both halves.

You could address the racial matter driving the liberals crazy and inflaming the conservatives to near-incineration.

You could take a public stand on what your community is experiencing, knowing that many on both sides of the issue are upset with the others.

Some will insist you should take a stand. read more

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What Not to Do as an Emerging Leader

As an up-and-coming emerging leader, don't do these:

1. Believe you are the answer.

2. Stop honoring those who’ve laid the groundwork before you.

3. Write off all the folks who finally helped you “arrive” and who might suddenly seem insignificant or unimportant.

4. Remove yourself from reality by surrounding yourself with “handlers” and those only interested in being “yes” men and women. read more

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7 Ways Satan Tries to Destroy a Church

I’m not a pastor who is constantly looking for Satan behind everything that goes wrong. I concentrate my attention on Jesus and encouraging others to follow Jesus and not to focus on the defeated one.

Yet, I’m fully aware that Satan loves to destroy—or attempt to destroy—a church. Obviously, Satan is a limited being, and God’s church is secure. The gates of hell shall never overcome what God started, but Satan certainly loves to disrupt what God’s church is doing: “Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).

Here are 7 way Satan tries to destroy a church: read more

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Brad Lomenick: Young Leaders Should Shut Up and Listen

I love young leaders. Catalyst exists to help equip young leaders, especially those under 40. I’ve invested a significant part of my life into connecting, gathering, inspiring and equipping young leaders.

But this is a tribute to the leaders over 40 who so many of us under 40 too often think “don’t really understand what’s going on anymore.”

So to all of my young, passionate, ready-to-change-the-world peers who are under 40:

SIT down, SHUT UP, and LISTEN! read more

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How to Remove Your Mask of Deceit

My mask was failing.

I had worked so hard to keep people out, to keep them from seeing the real me, that I hadn’t invested the energy in allowing God to clean up the stuff I was trying to hide.

My mask was protecting me from other people’s judgment, but it was also preventing God’s healing and cleansing from taking full effect. I was struggling with some sin issues. Instead of allowing God to help me, I was fighting very difficult battles on my own.

As my mask began to show cracks, I became ashamed and desperate. read more

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Why Encouragement is Crucial in Youth Ministry

You are slammed with things that need to get done, there is a parent that just won’t get off your case, or perhaps you just have heard more negative than positive lately. It sounds like you could use some encouragement.

I know a lot of youth workers right now who are going through a season of needing encouragement. For some, it is because of the season; going into summer you are tired. For others it’s situational. No matter what the reason, you deserve some encouragement.

I just want to encourage all my fellow youth workers, volunteer or paid: You are doing good work. You are doing what God has called you to do. You are making a difference in the lives of students even when you feel like you are getting nowhere. You are gifted no matter what your critics say. Your God created you to be just the way you are. What you are doing is worthwhile. read more

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7 Tips When You Are Frustrated Enough to Quit

I was talking to a staff member of a church recently who is ready to quit. But he can’t.

What he’s experiencing is not depression, in my opinion. It could turn into that at some point, if he’s not careful, but today it’s frustration. Severe frustration. The kind that keeps you up at night.

The problems appear to be more external than internal. They are work-related, but they are impacting every other aspect of his life. (They always do.)

It’s a poor work environment. He is frustrated because he has given everything he knows to give, but nothing seems to matter. He feels under-appreciated, under-utilized and unfulfilled. He’s treated lousy by a controlling leader who never acknowledges his accomplishments. He’s tried confronting gently, firmly and directly. read more

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Rick Warren: Healing for the Wounded Leader

Too many churches are led by wounded pastors and leaders who can’t really love people, can’t be vulnerable or focus on the future because of past rejection and hurt. But there is healing for wounded leaders!

There are a lot of things that wound us in life. Maybe you were wounded because somebody lied to you. Maybe a promise was made to you that was broken. Or maybe you were in a conflict with a church member or fellow leader.

In that conflict, some angry words were said, and you were deeply wounded. Maybe you were wounded by a betrayal, by rejection or by being misunderstood. You may have been wounded by being devalued, overlooked or not valued enough. And you can be wounded by loneliness. read more

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Has Anxiety Got You Down?

Pastor Andrew closed the door to his study and leaned against the hard wood, letting out a long breath. A ball of anxiety grew inside his mind, threatening to shut down all functions.

There are times when that ball of anxiety threatens to overwhelm us. It might be because we have overwhelming responsibilities or because people problems loom. The anxiety can also grow from bills or that feeling that we are missing something.

Have you ever noticed how fear takes over your brain? What starts as a niggling feeling in the back of your mind soon has you comatose in front of the television, hoping to drown out the cacophony of "what ifs." read more

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How to Lead (and Preach) Through Your Weaknesses

Jesus was definitely an iconoclast, continually challenging the conventional thinking of His day. Twenty different times, Jesus said, “You’ve heard it said ... but I say to you ... ” And even today, His thoughts on leadership go against the grain.

Most modern books on leadership, whether Christian or secular, give the same advice: Be confident, never admit fear, maintain control and be composed, be convincing and never show weakness. But Jesus had a different style altogether. Instead of leading from a position of strength (lording authority over people), Jesus led from a position of weakness, becoming a servant. read more

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Be Careful What You Call 'Divine Judgment'

I absolutely believe that divine judgment is in the earth today, and I reject the teaching that states that from the cross until the Second Coming, God’s wrath will not be poured out on the earth. There is a substantial amount of New Testament evidence that stands against this doctrine.

At the same time, we better be very careful before we start calling specific events “divine judgment.” It is dangerous and unwise to bear false witness about the Lord.

Recently, a caller to my Line of Fire radio broadcast stated that the Boston Marathon bombing was a divine judgment, one of the main causes being the legalizing of same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts in 2004. read more

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4 Steps to Success in Conflict Resolution

In my past few blogs, I’ve talked about conflict—why people avoid it and why it’s better to lean into it.

One thing I’ve learned about working with teams of people: When two or more are gathered, there will be conflict!

Why? Because we all have our opinions about how things should be, and we’re rather attached to our opinions. Conflict is a reality of leadership. I’ve been all over the map on how to lead through conflict, from completely avoiding it to plowing through it and leaving a body count behind. Let me tell you, neither approach works out well. read more

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4 Keys to Finding a Difference-Making Mentor

I once took a course from Dallas Willard where he lined out 30-some-odd spiritual disciplines. “These are all tools,” he would say. “Use whichever ones help you personally.”

I’ve discovered one that wasn’t on his list. Call it the practice of mentoring.

It took me a few months, but when I found a pastor who could mentor me, his tutelage was so helpful that I haven’t been without one since. These are the traits I look for in my mentors: read more

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Why All Sermons Are a Work in Progress

Those of us who counsel pastors and teach future preachers sometimes caution them to “study the Bible for itself, just to receive the Word into your heart, not to prepare sermons.”

We might as well tell Sherlock Holmes to enjoy crime scenes for the beauty of the occasion and to stop looking for criminals; or tell Albert Pujols not to worry about actually striking at the baseball crossing the plate but to relax and take in the inspiration of the moment; or tell Joan Rivers to give up on plastic surgery.

Some things you do because this is who you are.

When a pastor reads a great insight in the Scriptural text, does anyone think for one minute that he is going to file that away in a personal-edification file, never to be shared with others in sermons? read more

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Continue to Pray When Your Answer Is Delayed

Your church isn’t growing, and you can’t figure out why. That’s always a tough place to lead and live.

You aren’t alone. In fact, you may be among the majority of churches in the U.S. that are struggling to grow. For some, on the surface, all seems well. Of course, there are a few problems here and there—that’s true in every church—but overall things seem good.

So, what is it? How do you decode the cipher that unlocks the answer? Or perhaps the issues are more obvious and even problematic, but the solutions still evade you. read more

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How to Avoid Compassion Overload

In the last week alone, 57 people have died in four violent events as reported by major news outlets.

Every week, people in your church lose a job or a loved one or have a health incident. Every month, families are torn apart by anger, misunderstandings and rebellion (not just teens; adults rebel too).

The pain from all this is hard to keep in perspective without tuning out. There comes a point when we are tempted to hand out pamphlets instead of dealing with more stress: read more

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Rick Warren: 8 Steps to Grow Your Church

Do you realize that if your weekend attendance totals about 90 people, you’re an above average church (at least in the United States and when measuring by such numbers)?

If you’re wondering what you need to do to grow, here are eight steps that can help you break an attendance barrier:

1) Decide you really, really want to grow. Believe it or not, the primary barrier to church growth is desire. Do you really want to grow? If the answer is yes, then you must commit to this goal and be willing to accept changes. read more

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Counselors Should Steer Couples Away From Blame Game


In marriage counseling, it’s common to find spouses playing the part of attorneys—stating their case why the other spouse is to blame for the problems at hand.

A husband blames his wife for his neglect because she’s not physically affectionate enough. A wife blames her husband for her critical nature because he’s not emotionally intimate enough. As a counselor, it’s easy to slip into the role of a judge trying to decide who “wins.”

The wiser approach is to hold spouses responsible for their own actions and words. The apostle Paul clearly describes this principle of personal responsibility in Galatians 6:7-8, saying that a man (or woman) “reaps what he sows.” Consider the following steps to counseling couples away from the name-and-blame game and toward a “harvest” of a better marriage. read more

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