All posts in ministry & outreach

5 Simple Ways to Bring a Friend to Church Sunday

Everything you are about to read is based upon the assumption that you attend a church that is “guest friendly.” I’m assuming you attend a church where people are intentionally friendly to new faces and gracious in spirit; a place where the worship is Christ-centered, and the gospel is clearly preached in grace and truth. This is the type of church every Christian WANTS to bring friends to. The truth is, recent studies show that a large majority of people are open to being invited to church by a friend or family member. If you have a healthy church, you…

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15 Encouraging Thoughts for New Pastors

Last week, and young pastor who is about to transition to New England wrote to me asking for advice. This post is simply the first random fifteen thoughts that came to mind when looking back on my own transition. I’m admittedly NO expert! I’m still limping my way along, trying to be faithful in all the areas I need to grow. But, perhaps, if you are a young pastor (or older) pastor facing a transition, these thoughts will encourage you. Fifteen random thoughts about transition into a new pastorate: 1. Every state or region is a very different culture, so…

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Six Steps to Kill a Church

I recently came across a powerful quote from an 18th century English pastor named Job Orton. Ironically, he wrote to the ministers of his day about doctrinal compromise. The struggles of churches nearly 300 years ago are the struggles of churches today. Read what he says: “I have long since found (and every year that I live increases my conviction of it), that when ministers entertain their people with lively and pretty things, confine themselves to general harangues, insist principally on moral duties, without enforcing them warmly and affectionately by evangelical motives; while they neglect the peculiars of the gospel,…

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The Church I Dream of Pastoring

Joy and optimism ought to characterize every Christian and every church family. The fact is, a lot of Christians are miserable and they show it—they project it. Their lack of joy is like a giant negative billboard for Jesus, the gospel and His church. The same could be said for many churches—they radiate defeat, judgmentalism, and carnality. If they preach a gospel, it’s a joyless, unattractive gospel. The gospel is attractive! Jesus is wonderful! Peace with God is astounding! The grace, love, and community we enjoy, as Christians, is untouchable! It’s like nothing to be found anywhere else in the…

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Understanding Anointing…

Do you ever feel called to responsibilities that are BIGGER than you? Do you ever cry out to God, “I can’t do this!” You’re not alone! Think Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others. Much of my Christian life I’ve heard the word “anointing” presented in public contexts. Few Biblical words are so skewed and misappropriated than the word “anointing.” Can we explore it for a minute? Go with me. (And thanks for giving me some time to speak into your life.) If you ever bounce between feeling completely self-sufficient and feeling utterly insufficient—these words will encourage you! Jesus said to His…

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How God Revives a Dying Church

Recently, I fellowshipped with a missionary couple who served for more than 40 years on the foreign field. A huge portion of their focus, for many years in the UK, was to help restore dying churches. In post-Christian America, in this and coming generations, we must not only plant churches—we MUST see older churches renewed and restored by God’s grace. Recent studies from those who track church closures would indicate that we couldn’t plant churches FAST ENOUGH to replace the churches that will die in the coming decade. I believe God is raising up a generation of young leaders with…

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The Crisis of God’s Call

Examining the Disruptive Call of God… Not long ago a young ministry leader facing a clear call wrote to me and asked about dealing with the painful reality when God’s call collides with everyone and everything you love and have given your life to. He is being called to leave people he dearly loves and a life he has spent years building by God’s grace. Now God is saying, “Follow me…” In my opinion, and personal experience, there are few things so difficult in life as that moment when God calls you away from good things. It’s truly a “lovest…

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15 Reasons Spiritual Leaders Should Rest

Ministry doesn’t stop—EVER. When do the needs of people “clock out?” When does opportunity to witness “pause?” When do emergencies take a “break?” When are all the church members fully discipled? It doesn’t happen. Therefore, there are only two ways to find durability and sustainability in ministry. The first is to be Superman. (Notice I didn’t even say Jesus—because He actually needed rest.) The second is to deliberately, intentionally, strategically REST. I’m preaching to myself in this post. Resting is hard! But NOT resting is harder! Resting is humbling. It is dependence. It is submission to God’ authority and control….

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A Story of Guardians and Innovators

I was wonderfully surprised and grateful for the overwhelming positive response to Thursday’s post about Millennials. I believe understanding these generalizations is critical to benefiting from godly relationships and growing in effective ministry in our day. Thank you for your kind responses and encouragement! I was surprised that what I wrote resonated so intensely, and was deeply grateful that it did. Now, onward to the follow up… Spiritual leaders of all ages are my dearest friends, mentors, and counselors. There’s nothing in my last post or this post that wasn’t TAUGHT TO ME by godly men older than me. I…

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Things that Discourage Millennial Christian Leaders

I believe in the millennial generation—perhaps because I worked with young adults for over two decades! Because of my age, I regularly find myself on the receiving end of “concerned” conversations from two generations. Those older than me are fearful of where the millennial’s will take the gospel and biblical Christianity. Those younger than me feel they aren’t being given a fair shot—they are discouraged by and often feel compelled to run from unbiblical attitudes and hostile dispositions of previous generations. I’m not referring to doctrinal concerns—the millennial’s that I know are committed to gospel purity and biblical integrity. They…

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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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