All posts in ministry & outreach

How to Bring Someone to Jesus this Easter!

Resurrection week is one of the BEST weeks of the year to bring someone to hear the clear gospel of Jesus Christ. If you live in New England, 57% of the population said they would respond positively to a FRIEND inviting them to church. How cool! That’s a pretty amazing open door. So, I challenge you to be intentional and strategic about bringing someone to hear about Jesus on Easter Sunday. Make Easter about more than family and your personal world. Make it focused on what matters—a Saviour who really rose again, and a lost friend who needs to “get…

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13 Critics You Should Listen To…

Critics are a dime a dozen, some should be heard but many are self-appointed sounding brass. The internet and anonymity empowers them. I’ve had my share is covert critics, and generally they are the same—intentionally deceptive and gifted at distortion. One thing is consistent, they NEVER contact me to get the truth. Truth would nullify their game. More than a decade ago I determined some guidelines regarding “who’s criticism I would hear.” Giving a “hearing to a critic is like giving the key to your spirit. You are not obligated to hear every random cynic. You are not under biblical…

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Crazy Church—Why Christians Fear for Their Guests!

Churches are a study in variety. Some are grace-filled, gospel-centered. Some are judgment-filled and man-centered. Some are controlling and abrasive. Some are safe and healthy for spiritual growth. Some are Spirit-led, some are Spirit-quenching. Some are formal, some are relaxed. Some are stiflingly stiff, some are refreshingly personable. Some are caustic and critical, some are godly and gracious. Some are hostile and some are happy. Some are issue-oriented, some are gospel-oriented. Some are cold and unfriendly, some are warm and welcoming. The list goes on. Funny thing is, no matter the church—ALL the Christians that attend there are just regular,…

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How to Make 2014 Successful in the Extreme!

appy New Year! Thanks for stopping by and reading my weekly ramblings. It’s a privilege to touch your life in this way, and I appreciate you extending to me that privilege. Today begins 2014! Aren’t you glad to be ALIVE?! Isn’t God good?! He probably answered a ton of prayers for you last year—even those seemingly little ones like “Help us to have a good day today…” He probably provided a lot of meals, a lot of oxygen, a lot of heartbeats, a lot of breaths, and a lot of physical strength to serve Him and enjoy life! So, do…

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Partnering with New Hope Baptist!

Many readers connect with me often about how they pray for Connecticut and the gospel in New England! We are grateful—beyond words! Thank you for sharing the vision and for asking God to guide and bless. Recently the Lord opened a door for Emmanuel to launch out by faith in a new effort. I wanted to take a moment to update you and ask you, again, to pray. When God called us to New England we came with two burdens. The first was to preach the gospel to the lost in our immediate region from a healthy Emmanuel Baptist Church….

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Can the Gospel Reach North-East Intellectuals?

The North East has a reputation of being hardened and closed to the gospel. Many in this part of the country take pride in their intellect, their academic prowess, and their financial achievement. New England has been documented as the most biblically illiterate part of the country. Read more about that here. At the same time, there’s a Christian revival happening in the North East. Secular media has documented this, and you can read more about it here. In fact, in one study, 57% of New Englanders said they would respond favorably if a friend invited them to church! You…

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27 Ways to Communicate Better

ne of my greatest passions in life is to communicate God’s Word more effectively. I have a very long way to go, but here are the things I see effective communicators do to strengthen the impact of Bible preaching or teaching. All of this is assuming that prayer, dependence upon God, and integrity are already in place. These are practical points you could implement immediately. This is what HOLDS MY ATTENTION, CHANGES ME, and RIVETS ME to God’s truth as a listener. Maybe a few of these things will trigger something to strengthen your own communication skills: 1. Study great…

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Shattering Pastoral Caricatures…

Every day I meet people from a variety of religious and non-religious backgrounds. They all define “pastor” with different mental caricatures. As a pastor, I am “mantled” with these caricatures before I even know it—subtly, silently, in the background of each new relationship. I don’t get to have my own persona. Every new relationship is begun “under water.” It’s a stark realization. I’m fighting a huge uphill, relational battle—thanks to the title “pastor.” From false teachers, to varying religious structures, to bad ambassadors, to ethical failure and scandals—the title “pastor” has a pretty bad wrap in 21st century minds. Fortunately,…

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Repost: Skeptics, Spectators, and Servants

In John 11, the amazing story of the raising of Lazarus unfolds. Not long ago, I was studying this passage and it occurred to me that there were three distinct groups of people at this resurrection, and those groups are still pretty much “alive and kicking” in today’s local churches. Picture the scene—Jesus has waited for Mary outside of town, and “the Jews” have followed her, weeping (John 11:32-33), as she goes to meet Him. Then together they go to Lazarus’ grave, and the Jews follow. In the next few moments an unbelievable miracle occurs—Jesus raises a man from the…

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The “Luxury” of Disunity…

It’s the first century. James is Jesus brother. He’s pastoring the church at Jerusalem. It’s big. Lots of people have believed in Jesus—and a very diverse group. (You’ll see that in Acts.) James was a leader—a religious man, well-connected and well-respected. The politics of the day were complicated (to say it simply)—more like a hornet’s nest of complexity and power-play—Jews vs. Romans, Jewish sect vs. Jewish sect, Jews vs. Christians, Romans vs. Christians, Jews vs. Jews, Rulers vs. Commoners… on and on. In the middle of all this the gospel was exploding! Poor people believed. Rich people believed. Religious leaders…

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Getting Out of the Gospel’s Way…

(Note: Lengthy post—I apologize in advance. But it’s important!) In December we hung a Christmas banner at the street. ECA students hosted a Wednesday night concert. Because of that concert, a young lady  named Emily visited EBC with her family and her fiancé, Gerry. They all heard the gospel. They stopped in the lobby, we met, we talked, and we invited them to come back. Sunday, they were back, and welcomed with open arms into a warm, gospel-centered church family. They fellowshipped. They sipped some coffee and pastries from the welcome center. They were warmly ministered to. They were loved….

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New Life in New England

Yesterday was Emmanuel Baptist Church’s second Open House Sunday! Guests were welcomed, the gospel was lovingly presented, and God worked in people’s hearts. It’s an incredible blessing to see God bless the faith of the EBC family. It’s appropriate to share the victory in hopes that your faith will be encouraged. As I reflect on the day, here are the things I thank God for… 1. The church family’s efforts of faith. On Wednesday evening well over 125 people came between 6pm and 7:15pm to distribute flyers around the region. Afterward we gathered for prayer and asked God to move….

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Influence Trumps Authority

Note: This article is directed at parents, but the principle applies to pastors and leaders as well… Do you want your children to love God? Do you want them to truly enjoy living life with and for Jesus Christ? There’s an unspoken principle that many parents or leaders miss. It often goes ignored, unrecognized, and completely invisible. But it plays out in every family and church. It is present in every parenting struggle and every parenting success. It’s huge. Stay with me! Influence trumps authority. That’s it. End of article. Influence trumps authority! But it sounds trite, simplistic, and possibly…

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New Sign, New Vision for God’s Glory…

This past Sunday at EBC marked a major moment of renewal and vision for our church family. God allowed us to dedicate a new sign for His glory! It was a moment of celebration, worship, and rededication of our campus. We are asking God to renew His work of preaching the gospel, loving Jesus, loving the lost, and loving one another in this healthy church body. Thirteen months ago, when our family pulled onto the hill at 296 New Britain Ave. in our well-packed vehicles, we began by faith what we believe will be a long and fruitful ministry at…

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Blessing the Bruised Generation…

A few weeks ago I had a wonderful lunch appointment with a fantastic young couple. They don’t attend our church and aren’t planning to, but we were thankful to spend time together. During the course of the conversation we were sharing our stories—our journey of faith and growth in local church life. At one point, I looked at the young husband and said, “What was your ‘church experience’ growing up?” To give my question a context, both of these adults grew up in what claimed to be “Bible-believing” churches. All four of us have seen some unhealthy models of church…

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The Power of Your Words…

Have you thought about your words lately? They are powerful! They either build or destroy. They either encourage or discourage. They either pick up or put down. Words are weighty—powerful influencers. Words stay with people—for a long, long time. James compares words to fruit and water—things that are consumed and digested. What takes seconds for you to speak will find it’s way into someone’s spiritual digestive system and either poison or nourish them for years! For the good or the bad, words don’t just impact once. They impact over and over. Things you say today, write today, post today will…

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Your First Year at a New Church…

The First Year at a New Church… Recently a new pastor emailed me and asked, “What do you know now that you wish you knew when you arrived at EBC?” That’s a challenging question to answer briefly. I’m a beginner. God knows what He’s doing, but I don’t. This year, I got some things right and a lot of things wrong. In a quick nutshell—here are the biggest blessings and challenges of our first year at Emmanuel Baptist Church, followed by some challenges for those about to answer God’s call: Biggest Blessings: Seeing God turn a church around Seeing God…

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When You Don’t Know What to Say…

A friend of ours has gone through unthinkable hardship in recent years. In fact, this hardship is so massive and so devastating that, when I see this friend, I really have no idea what to say. And so the temptation is to avoid the conversation. To say nothing. Don’t ask. Don’t call up the emotions. Don’t touch the nerve-center that is so sensitive. After all, what can you say? Is there any right or helpful thing to say? When there are no words to adequately comfort or help with such massive injustice and loss, is there anything you can say?…

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When God Leads Change…

Note: Please don’t read into this post that people are resisting change at EBC. In fact, they have embraced change, and seen God glorified by that change for the past year. This post is just my effort to help others release the strangle-hold that “SAME” has on their church. If you call a new pastor, you are calling change. I’m not saying things “might change.” I’m not saying “things could change.” I’m saying, he IS change. The new guy IS change. He doesn’t know your context. He doesn’t know “how it used to be,” “how it’s always been,” or what…

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If Only We Refused to Play Games…

Note: Hopefully this post doesn’t apply to you. It’s a bit of satire with a serious message…  Let’s play a game… should be a lot of fun. Anybody can play. It’s sort of like “Family Feud”—let’s call it “Ministry Feud”—or “Pastor Politics!” Round One: The First-Blood Round Either one of us can go first. The goal is to draw first blood. If you go first—you seek to find something wrong with me and my church. It shouldn’t take long, especially if all personal standards and preferences are in play and humans are involved. Then, on my turn, I’ll find something…

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