Outreach

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Pastors, Avoid These 5 Traps

As I have had the opportunity to speak to groups of pastors over these past few years, I have identified five different traps I believe churches often fall into—traps that prevent our churches from realizing their full potential to change the world for Christ.

Most churches will find they have slid into one or two of these traps to one degree or another. Some will have avoided them all. Either way, just being aware of a trap helps keep one from falling prey to it in the first place. 

Below are the five traps to consider. Do one or more characterize you or your church? read more

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Evangelism Moves Beyond Planting the Word of God

I’m not an evangelist or a pastor. I’m not even a Bible teacher or a youth minister. I’m a filmmaker, attempting to do the near-impossible for my films. I attempt to visibly film an invisible God. 

Having traveled the world to make my first three feature films, Finger of God, Furious Love and Father of Lights, it’s probably safe to say that the last six years have given me a new perspective and quite an education on what God is doing around the world, as well as which evangelism methods are working, and which ones are seemingly slogging through quicksand. 

The politically correct statement here would be to say that as long as those trying to evangelize are preaching the basics of the gospel, then we should just be happy, no matter their methods. But I can’t help but wonder if one form of evangelism is more effective than another.  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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Successful Church Planting Requires Both Passion and Planning

My wife, Joyce, and I planted our local church 29 years ago, Jan. 29, 1984, in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, N.Y. We were not sent out with any money and had only a handful of people who volunteered to serve with us. The following is based on all the mistakes I have made as a church planter, and the lessons I wish someone had coached me through.

1. Be sent from your local church. Unfortunately, many send themselves and just “went” instead of being “sent.” The Bible teaches us that we should not preach unless we are “sent” (see Romans 10:15). 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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Laurie Beshore: Love Without Walls

Even with the best of intentions, things have a way of going south.

When we launched our outreach ministry (at Mariners Church in Orange County, Calif.), the first thing we thought to do was meet the basic needs of the people we were serving. Sounds reasonable, right? They need groceries; we’ll give them a bag of food. They need winter coats? Got it. School supplies? Check. Then we’ll teach them about Jesus and they’ll pray the prayer and bam! We’re all good.

But wait.

If we really believe in an irresistible Savior whose love is the most powerful force on earth, why is it we cling to manipulative tools, gimmicks and cheap material resources to all but bribe someone into the kingdom of heaven? read more

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Ron Phillips: When the Diagnosis Is Defeat

“When adversity comes, you praise God.”

That was what my friend Terry had always been taught. When those tough times come, you just stand there, stare down the storm, and praise God.

However, on January 8, 2012, praising God was not very high on Terry’s priority list. After experiencing some problems, and noticing a lump that had developed only over a couple of days, and that ran from his chest up toward his shoulder, Terry decided to visit his doctor. His doctor was pretty blunt with the assessment:

“You have extensive small cell carcinoma (a very fast growing and aggressive form of cancer). You probably only have 6 to 12 months to live.” 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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Tony Morgan: 5 Attributes of a Church in Decline

Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with a denominational leader in a different part of the country.

Over the last few years, he’s personally been involved in consulting engagements with about 60 declining churches within his denomination. That grabbed my attention. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of experience working with churches that are in decline.

With that in mind, I was curious to learn if there were any common themes. Within moments, he rattled off these five attributes of churches he’s worked with that are in decline: read more

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Rick Warren: God’s Acceptance Is All You Need

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; I will fear no one. The LORD protects me from all danger; I will never be afraid.” (Ps. 27:1, GNT)

The fear of rejection is based on two things. First, we all need to be loved. That’s a fact. We all desperately need massive doses of love in our life to be healthy individuals. God says, “I want to love you.” God is love, and he knows you need to be loved.

But, second, we develop the false idea that our need to be loved is solely dependent upon one person or a group of people. When you expect someone else to meet 100 percent of your need for love, you’re asking for trouble. You’re setting yourself up for hurt and opening the door for the fear of rejection. When you look to any other person besides God to meet all your love needs, he or she can’t. There is no human being alive who can love you as completely and as fully as you need to be loved, and there never will be. Only God can do that. read more

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Reaching the Unchurched: Speak Their Language

Are you praying for insight about how your church can impact the unchurched? I remember thinking: If our church ever becomes popular among the unchurched, we'll sure be able to do lots of good. After all, there are lots of people needing redemption in our community.

Think about this: Do you remember who led you to faith in Christ? Numerous surveys say it was probably a relative, friend or co-worker. One survey even claims that 97 percent of people who come to Christ do so through an existing relationship. read more

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Rick Warren: God Wants Your Contribution

“A spiritual gift is given to each of us as so we can help each other.” (1 Cor. 12:7, NLT)

God has a unique role for you to play in his family.

This is your ministry, and God has gifted you for this assignment: “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” (1 Cor. 12:7, NLT).

Your local fellowship is the place God designed for you to discover, develop and use your gifts. You may also have a wider ministry, but that is in addition to your service in a local body. Jesus has not promised to build your ministry; he has promised to build his church. read more

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Repent! You Won’t Let My People Give!

“There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him...” 1 Kings 19:9 (NIV)

These sobering words penetrated my soul one day in prayer. It was a typical Thursday morning at the office. I was performing my daily routine of checking messages, answering phone calls and sorting mail when I heard a faint, but distinct noise coming from an area near the sanctuary. Knowing that I was the lone person in the building, I went to check to see if someone was attempting to break in.

As I walked down the hallway, I felt compelled to enter the sanctuary and pray for a few moments. This decision would forever change my life. I made my way to the front of the sanctuary and knelt at the altar. read more

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Randy Clark: Raising Your Faith Level

Patterns and keys to seeing more of the miraculous

Being in healing ministry, I have witnessed the miraculous regularly and seen thousands touched by God each year.

I remember two times when the Lord spoke something to me out of His Word, and it gave me an insight that brought an increase for healing. The first instance happened about two years ago, and the second about a year ago.

The first came out of 2 Corinthians 4:13, where Paul said, “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken.’ Since we have that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak” (NIV).

I’d seen this Scripture many times, but when God quickened it to me, all of a sudden it took on life. All of a sudden I made this connection: Faith needs to be spoken. You can say you believe something, but if you don’t have enough faith to declare it, to speak it, there’s something that’s not released. read more

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Rick Warren: The Height of God’s Love

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:38-39 NIV)

There is no place that you can go where God’s love isn’t. You’ll never be separated from God’s love.

Nothing—no circumstance, no situation—can separate you, because God’s love is everywhere: “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39 NIV). read more

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Target Marketing: Finding Your Focus

Paul spoke about being “all things to all men” (see 1 Cor. 9:22). His missionary journeys proved his ability to understand different people groups and adapt his message to meet them where they lived.

On the other hand, Paul considered himself called to be an "apostle to the Gentiles” (see Rom. 11:13). Sounds slightly targeted doesn’t it? How do we reconcile these two pursuits: to reach all and yet focus on only a segment?

Paul understood his strengths and his calling. Every church has strengths at reaching a “type” of people in its community. Though that might strike some as unjust, its truth defines both our strengths and the areas we need to grow.

Whether you are a church that is known for young families, old money, the upper class, the working class or the struggling class—whether you are known for deep followers, surface seekers, empty nesters or down-and-outers—there are tendencies as to whom you draw. 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

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Reinhard Bonnke: All America Shall Be Saved!

Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke took his soul-saving mission to Vero Beach, Fla. this weekend during a two-day Gospel Fest.

An outdoor tent set up at the Vero Beach Airport drew at least 5,000 worshippers from across the country hungry to hear the simple gospel Bonnke preaches—and sit under the anointing of the evangelist who has invited multiplied millions of souls into the kingdom.

“Every time I take the microphone I have one burning desire in my soul …” Bonnke told the crowd on Saturday night. “To see hell empty and heaven full!”

Bonnke is best known for his crusades in Africa and for his cry, “All Africa shall be saved!” More than 55 million Africans came to Christ under his ministry from 2000 to 2009 alone. During the Saturday night Gospel Fest the evangelist was focused on lost souls in America. Bonnke declared, “All America shall be saved!” read more

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Rick Warren: God Calls Us to a Life of Service

“It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.” (Ephesians 2:10 LB)

God calls you to a service far beyond anything you could ever imagine. You were put on Earth to make a contribution.

You weren’t created just to consume resources—to eat, breathe, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with your life. You were created to add to life on Earth, not just take from it. God wants you to give something back.

The Bible says, “In our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10b TEV). These “good deeds” are your service to the world. Whenever you serve others in any way, you are actually serving God and fulfilling one of your purposes (Colossians 3:23-24; Matthew 25:34-45; Ephesians 6:7). read more

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