Filmmaker and media consultant Phil Cooke recently sat down with Sam Smith of Medical Ministry International, an organization making a huge impact on the poor around the world. Find out what Smith had to say. read more
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Many Christians believe they can't preach Jesus and not care about justice or, conversely, that they can't have true justice without pointing people toward Jesus the Just. Find out why the numbers seem to show that more churches are catching that mission. read more
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship is a classic. It powerfully describes Christ’s call for men to “come and die” in order to be His disciple.
In as many times as I have discussed that book with friends, I’ve never thought about an equally important concept—until now. Since a true disciple of Christ will become a disciple-maker of others (after all, that is Christlike), we must also consider the cost of disciple-making.
Initially, we may think the cost is time and energy. Certainly this is true. Disciple-making is a commitment to open up your life to another person. It’s an act of service that requires long hours, late-night calls, inconvenient conversations and out-of-the way trips. read more
It’s a waste of time to fish in a spot where fish aren’t biting. Wise fishermen move on. They know fish eat at different times of the day in different places. To apply this to ministry, you need to focus on the most receptive people in your area.
This is not a marketing principle. It’s a basic New Testament principle. Jesus told it in the parable of the sower. When you sow seed, some of it falls on rocky ground, some on stony ground, some on hard ground and some on good soil. Wouldn’t it be great if you knew what the good soil was and sowed all your seed there? Why waste seed, time, effort, energy and money? read more
Mark 1:17 says, “And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men’” (ESV).
Throughout my ministry, God has placed so many different people in my path—people from all different walks of life, from the affluent to the poor, from the important to not important, from the religious to the nonreligious. But a common theme between them all, when confronted with the gospel, is that they will listen if it is presented in a nonthreatening way.
In the book of Mark, Jesus told the apostles that He would make them fishers of men. Now, let me show you how a fisherman works. read more
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
Once you make the decision that small groups will be your primary (or only) delivery system for connection and discipleship, it only makes sense to look for ways to accelerate small group ministry growth and impact.
Here are what I’ve found to be 6 keys:
1. Your senior pastor must become the primary spokesperson and champion. Although I’ve not ranked these 6 keys in order of importance, there is no question that this a very important key. If you want to build a thriving small group ministry, there is no workaround for the absence of this key. See also "Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church of Groups." read more
Recently I was visiting a church in the heart of a retirement community. The pastor got up and was astoundingly relevant. “There are five ways we tell you what’s going on here,” he said. He held up his hand and counted on his fingers: “The bulletin, the sign, the website, our mailer and announcements.”
He paused and then joked, “If you still don’t know what’s going on, then I have a hunch you’re just not with it!”
I don’t know if this was the pastor’s typical practice, but as a guest, it was a huge leg up in knowing where to find the information about how to get involved. read more
Recently the Table Project, a private social network for your church, announced that it was being acquired by Gateway Church in Dallas. Now Gateway is a big church—one of the fastest-growing in the country, with more than 25,000 people. But a church acquiring a tech company? That’s different.
I love seeing the church do more than Sunday morning. I love seeing the church do more than VBS or neighborhood outreach. I love seeing the church do more than missions. All of those things are great, but I especially love seeing churches giving back to other churches. read more
In 1999, the company I worked for was acquired by the world’s largest insurance broker, which was based in Manhattan. I was appointed the chief information officer of one of the subsidiaries and began a 10-year period of commuting from Seattle to my office on the 50th floor in the south tower in the World Trade Center.
I was one of more than 1,700 employees from four subsidiaries that were housed in the north and south towers. We lost 376 staff and contractors the morning of 9/11. Many were my friends and colleagues. read more
Loss is hard. Although everyone handles grief differently, I’m convinced that nobody handles it easily.
One of the ways that Christ comforts His children is through His body—the church. Romans 12:15 reminds us to “weep with those who weep” (ESV). After all, that’s what Jesus did. When His friend Lazarus died, He wept with Mary and Martha over their loss (John 11:35).
So when Jesus gives us, His ambassadors on earth, an opportunity to represent Him through comforting those experiencing loss; we must not take it lightly. That’s why I think it is vital that every church think through their own “care plan” now. read more
How to use today’s real-time connectivity and community to extend your church’s reach
Last month was my birthday. Because of social media like Facebook, I got more birthday wishes than I ever got cards in the mail. A few weeks ago a friend of one of my friends was in dire straights. Her husband had been in a motorcycle wreck and lay in a coma in the hospital, yet people instantly began praying for him.
Because of Facebook and how connected we are today with smartphones and tablets, we can hear about and respond to the burdens and celebrations of life in real time. Gone are the days of hearing about a prayer request for the first time in the Sunday bulletin. read more
Church communicators are world changers—or at least they should aspire to be, because that’s the heart of the Great Commission. World changers do three things with regularity. Effective church communicators need to do them too:
1) Build. World changers build things. They build programs, business solutions, and church and nonprofit structures. They build themselves professionally and personally. They’ve learned the difference between building and tweaking. At the heart of building, they’re bringing a new (or borrowed) idea into an existence that can live and breathe in their unique organizational model. Tweaking fixes things. Building creates them. Yes, we need communicators who can tweak and maintain what already exists. But whoever is leading your communications needs to be building.
2) Love. Though building comes naturally to many leaders, loving does not. Yet the cream-of-the-crop world-changing leaders have mastered the ability to communicate love not only for what their team members bring to the organization, but for who they are as humans. Loving the people around them comes in the form of encouraging words (email, text, phone calls, hand-written notes), gifts (a gift card to an employee’s favorite restaurant, iTunes downloads, an unexpected financial bonus, a day off) or quality time (taking an employee out to lunch, a 5-minute pop-in to employees’ offices to check how they’re doing).
3) Communicate. Almost everyone I know thinks they’re a clear and accurate communicator. But just because it makes sense in their mind doesn’t mean it makes sense to everyone else. World changers have learned to clearly express the day-to-day expectations of the people around them.
There are three questions world changers are trying to answer every day in their communications with their people:
- Do the people around me know what’s expected of them?
- Do the people around me know (as much as I know) where we’re going?
- Do the people around me know milestones and deadlines on the calendar?
Not all church communicators can actually communicate well. We know everything there is to know about marketing, but that doesn’t mean it translates to how we work with our team. If you want to be effective, if you want make a lasting impact, you need to communicate properly with your team.
All three of these tasks do not come naturally for anyone. But the implementation of all three is extremely important for everyone. If you don’t build, they won’t feel inspired. If you don’t love, they won’t feel valued. If you don’t communicate, they won’t feel anchored.
World changers are doing all three, increasing in all three and forcing all three. Not just once in a while, but every week. It’s part of their job. It’s part of their routine. As church communicators, you’re working to change the world. If you want to be effective, you need to intentionally build, love and communicate every week.
There is a lot of talk about discipleship these days—and it is about time. Jesus seemed to think discipleship was a big deal, putting it as the heart—and the verb—of the Great Commission to "make disciples of all nations." Yet it seems discipleship has fallen on hard times in many churches in the West—for example, English-speaking places like the U.S., Canada, Australia and England, where there are Christians who are just not as desperate and committed as their sisters and brothers in the Two-Thirds World.
I would go so far as to say that our discipleship model is broken. I would like to suggest some areas where we are broken and hopefully provide some solutions about how to fix them. read more
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