DR. JAMES RUSSELL
PRACTICING KINGDOM ECONOMICS
LEADERS WHO LEAVE THE PULPIT TO MAXIMIZE IMPACT
HOW OUR CHURCH IS HELPING BUSINESS SEPTEMBER // OCTOBER 2015
EQUIPPING CHRISTIAN LEADERS TO GROW
Marketplace AND THE Church Fulfilling the Church’s Role in Supporting Business Leaders
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KNOWN FOR HIS PROPHETIC GIFTING, Hubie Synn has seen the miraculous take place in the lives of those he’s ministered to, including Jonathan Cahn, the New York
Times best-selling author of The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah . Synn shows you how to hear from God, demonstrating that God can use
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S e p t e m b e r // O c t o b e r 2 0 1 5
Marketplace 18 & the Church The church has a key role to play in supporting business leaders— but many pastors don’t realize it. Helen Mitchell, director of the Talbot Center for Faith, Work and Economics and co-founder of Saddleback@Work, employs her executive and pastoral experience to guide church leaders in their faith-at-work ministry.
32 | GIVING AWAY THE STORE—FOR THE KINGDOM’S SAKE
Two brothers conscious of their kingdom purpose made the radical move to give 100 percent of their highly profitable company to a Christian organization. By Taylor Berglund
26 | FINDING PURPOSE IN THE WORKADAY WORLD
Northern California church The Father’s House is helping business leaders find their spiritual purpose in the marketplace. By Wil Lake
38 | PRACTICING KINGDOM ECONOMICS
Putting kingdom principles into practice and honoring God in the marketplace yields an abundance of spiritual fruit. By Dr. James R. Russell
46 | LEGACY LEADERS
Learn how God has led some pastors to leave the pulpit as their primary ministry in order to maximize their kingdom impact. By Ken Walker PLUS: Three leaders make a difference in the world.
58| THE EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY LEADER
A New York City pastor and author sheds light on “emotionally healthy” planning and decision making. By Peter Scazzero
62 | SECOND-CAREER CHURCH PLANTERS
Although a first career in business can be excellent preparation for planting a church, such a move requires a specific calling. By Nelson Searcy
72 | DELIVERING CHURCH IN UNIQUE SETTINGS
North Star Community Church has chosen the novelty of a movie theater as “neutral ground” for reaching its community. By John Velsor
MinistryToday September // October 2015
82 | PREACHING Improve your pulpit ministry these 15 ways. 84 | VISION Cast vision effectively before big transitions.
DEPARTMENTS MINISTRY LIFE
78 | SOCIAL MEDIA Avoid picking fights with online troublemakers.
80 | ADMINISTRATION Consider the benefits of a great ministry team.
12 | IN REAL LIFE Dethrone the dominion of sympathy addicts. By Dr. Mark Rutland 14 | PASTOR’S HEART Center your mind on God for fresh perspective. By Max Lucado 86 | ON PLATFORM Enlarge your platform with your message. By Dr. Steve Greene
Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $5 per year for postage, other countries add $10 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X1Z1. © 2015 by Charisma Media. For advertising information call (407) 333-0600. Nothing that appears in Ministry Today may be reprinted without permission. PRINTED IN THE USA Robert Hawkins | © iStockphoto/Tomwang112
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IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
Should Your Church Use Audio or Video Podcasting? By Paul Clifford Ten years ago, I discovered podcasting. It gave me an excuse to drag out the Rio mp3 player that I got when I bought my iBook a few of years earlier. I didn’t have money for the fancy new iPod that Apple sold, but I found I could make do with this 8-megabyte wonder. Like the creation of broadcasting 100 years previous, podcasting started with audio-only content. It wasn’t long before video was added to the roster of possible formats. Back then, video was more difficult to deal with than it is today. You could only watch it on your computer, for the most part. Despite its success, we knew that Apple would never release a video iPod because Steve Jobs had just said, “I’m not convinced people want to watch movies on a tiny little screen.” Now, every smartphone out there can play video. Now, tablets are common. Now, you can connect a Roku, Chromecast, AppleTV or FireTV to your television to get 1080p video on your television. So, which should your church do— audio or video? Clearly, the time for video has arrived, right? Video is easier to consume than ever before. Our Internet speeds are finally getting fast enough to handle it. In fact, services like Netflix and Hulu are already enabling video to be delivered online. So, is your church behind the times if you only do audio? Maybe, but there are some clear advantages to audio-only delivery. Audio is easier to edit. It’s easier to distribute. It’s easier to consume. When you’re out for a run, can you watch video? When you’re driving your car, can you watch video? When you’re working at your computer, can you watch video and still be productive? No. But, in all those situations, you can listen to audio. Other than times that you are sitting at home looking for entertainment, when 6
MinistryToday September // October 2015
can you watch video? In line at the store? You could, but you don’t have 30 minutes for even a short sermon. While waiting at the doctor’s office? Maybe, but don’t you normally check email or Facebook during those times? Video really is what we call a “lean back experience.” You normally don’t just turn on a video podcast to “have something on in the background.” Despite the fact that I consume a lot
of podcasts, not many of them are video podcasts. When I have some time to watch video, I tend to watch streaming media on YouTube, Vimeo and similar sites. Podcasting is powerful, though. You can consume a podcast when a streaming service just wouldn’t be practical, assuming you downloaded the media ahead of time. People can stream audio podcasts with Stitcher, but because mobile data is so much more expensive than your home connection, why not download stuff you’ll be consuming “on the go” ahead of time? If you prefer video and are a passenger, or think you’ll be out of range for Internet, you might want to download it ahead of time. There’s less competition in the world of video podcasts too. So you might think it’s a market ready to be dominated. Maybe, but maybe not.
Sure, there’s less competition, but there are reasons why. This is partially due to the fact that they’re harder to make and distribute, but also because (as we’ve seen), the audience is smaller. Don’t forget that while the distribution of an audio podcast with a media host like libsyn.com can be as inexpensive as $5 a month for unlimited downloads of a weekly show, video would cost a lot more. So, should your church do audio or video podcasts? Yes and maybe. Audio is the standard and most consumable format. Video is a growth area. What you shouldn’t do is a video-only podcast unless your content is so visual that it doesn’t work in audio-only format. While most of my shows are both audio and video (with the audio-only versions being much more popular), my screencast show, which primarily shows how to use ProPresenter, is video only. This is because it’s easier to watch someone use software than to listen to them describing it. This is where many churches are missing out. Because audio is so much easier to consume, stripping the audio from the video and releasing it as a stand-alone podcast will likely increase the people who consume it. Doing the opposite will likely cause you to lose subscribers because the people who only listen when their eyes are occupied will quit downloading it if you only distribute videos. In short, here’s the strategy I’d recommend: Start an audio podcast. Maybe add a video podcast. Don’t start a videoonly podcast, unless there’s a reason your content demands video.
Paul Clifford is the author of Podcasting Church, Tweeting Church, The Serving Church and most recently Church Video School. He live-streams free tech training five days a week at trinitydigitalmedia.com. Lightstock
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IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
Learn How to Create a Dynamic Worship Service Flow By Jason Hatley After leading a powerful worship set, you come to the end of the final song. It’s a quiet moment of worship and the congregation is fully engaged and focused on God, when the “announcements guy” comes out with a big laugh and smile, and sets a completely different tone from the one you just created. On their own, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about either of these worship service elements. But back to back in your worship service, the light and fun
announcement time quickly jerks the congregation out of the moment like going from first to third gear without pushing in the clutch. We recently kicked off a new series on five questions every worship leader needs to ask each week to help them develop their music plan for Sunday. Your music plan is more than just your set list. It’s your map for making sure that the Sunday service isn’t just “three songs and a sermon,” but is a powerful, transformative time of actual worship. Today we’re going to look at the second question for developing your music 8
MinistryToday September // October 2015
plan, and this one is all about creating the right “flow” in the service: How does this worship set connect with the rest of the worship order? There’s a temptation as a worship leader to focus only on the 20-plus minutes of music in the service Sunday. Not what comes before or after—just the music. The problem is that if, like the opening scenario above, you’re taking the service one direction and all the other elements of the service are heading another direction, rather than creating a service that effortlessly moves the congregation from beginning to end, you can actually take people out of the moment where God is working in their heart. So, as you create your music set list each week, you must do so with an eye on everything else that’s happening in the worship order and how the set you’re selecting fits into it. Here are three principles to keep in mind when planning your set:
1) What’s before the song or set?
If it’s your opening set, and you use a video clip pre-service to set up the topic of the day, you probably want to start with a quick introduction to that day’s topic, and then make sure your first song fits into that theme as well. If your final song of the day is after the message, talk with your pastor to see how he’s planning to end the message. Not every song after the message has to
be “reflective.” Sometimes your pastor will want to end the service with a challenge, so you’ll want a more “motivating” song. Sometimes, he’ll end upbeat, so you’ll want a “let’s stand and celebrate” song. Knowing what comes before your set will help you keep the mood that’s already being created.
2) What’s after the song or set?
Recently at The Journey we ended our opening set with a very quiet moment of worship. And like the story above, our welcome time is very upbeat. So rather than pulling people out of the moment at the end of the set, I worked with one of our pastors to come out at the end of the song, say a few words to connect the song to the topic of the day and wrap up with a prayer for what God wanted to show us. A simple idea, but one that allowed us to create a great moment in the service, rather than a great distraction.
3) What’s the big idea?
Finally, make sure that wherever your set falls in the overall worship order that you’re planning songs that will keep the theme or topic of the day on track. Remember, it doesn’t matter how great the worship set is you have planned if it doesn’t take into account what’s before it, what’s after it and what the big idea of the day is. You (and your congregation) will leave the service wondering why all the pieces quite didn’t fit together today. How are you doing at connecting your worship set with the rest of the worship order? This week ask, “What is before and after the set, and how can I choose music that fits into the overall flow?”
Jason Hatley is the executive pastor of worship arts at Journey Church, lead pastor of the Journey Church—Boca Raton and founder of Worship Leader Insights. The original article appeared at worshipleaderinsights.com. Lightstock
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5 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ in Youth Ministry
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Our No. 1 mission in youth ministry is to share the love of Jesus with our students. We can talk about the love of Jesus or we can demonstrate the love of Jesus. We can tell them they are loved, but unless we demonstrate love to them, our words really are just words. Here are five powerful ways to demonstrate authentic love in youth ministry: Listen. It’s so tempting to jump in with comments when teens share the things that teens share. But sometimes we youth workers need to hold off on offering answers and offer our ears instead. When we listen, we give them a chance to talk it out, work through the details in their mind and the tension in their heart. Respect. Teens want to be part of relationships that offer mutual and genuine respect. The Golden Rule pretty much does the trick here. Treat teens the way you want them to treat you. Listen when they talk, value their opinion and experience, and treat them like the adult they are growing to be, not the child they once were. Relate. Students feel loved when we relate to them as individuals. They need to know that they are not just lost in the crowd. It starts by being invested enough to learn their name, praying for them and asking God to pass the love He has for them to you. Enter their story. Affirm. I strongly believe students feel loved when they are affirmed and celebrated. Think about the many ways God affirms and celebrates you. Never assume a student knows he or she is loved. Do everything you can to make it abundantly 10 MinistryToday September // October 2015
clear through affirmation. Each student in youth ministry needs the adults in his or her life to do more affirming and less assuming. Let’s not make the mistake of assuming that every student knows they are loved. Let’s affirm every student with abounding love. Invest. Give your time. Have a presence in the life of the teens you serve. It says “I love you” pretty loudly. One quality hour of listening, relating and mentoring may be the equivalent of six months of youth group. Attend a student’s choir concert or game and make arrangements to hang out with their family afterward for dinner or dessert. Invest your time by having students come to youth group early to help you set up. Offer to have dinner there for them and make sure you have enough time to sit with them and eat and converse after you’ve set up. Invite a youth and their family to your house for dinner. This type of investment does take your time, but if you find yourself short on time, maybe you can evaluate where your time is being spent and how. You won’t regret spending more time with students and their families. You can say you love people, but making an investment of time puts words into action. Think of one or more of the students you work with. How will you demonstrate the love of Jesus to them this week?
Theresa Mazza is a longtime youth director and youth worker volunteering in student ministry at Broomfield United Methodist Church in Broomfield, Colorado. This article originally appeared at youthministry.com. Lightstock
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Deposing the Tyranny of the Offended Strong church leaders can dethrone the dominion of sympathy addicts
t Live Oak High School in Northern California, Cinco de Mayo has apparently become more of a divisive issue than a joyful cultural celebration. Racial tension has gone a long way toward stealing the fun at Live Oak’s Cinco de Mayo celebration. That is a sad state of affairs. Sadder still was the decision of the school’s administration to forbid displaying the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. The matter went to court, of course, and the court held that the administration’s concern for avoiding violence at the high school trumped free speech and the display of the American flag in an American high school. None of this is to say that every Anglo student at Live Oak is a model citizen, nor that all those wishing to show the flag had pure motives. Student motives are absolutely not the point. Free speech is the point. Tough times require tough leaders. Having said that, Live Oak High School and Cinco de Mayo are not really the point of this column. That high school situation is, rather, an example of a greater leadership issue. America has become a nation of enablers for the easily offended. In politics, in pop culture and, sad to say, in the church, there often prevails a tyranny of the easily and chronically offended. Why do those who take offense get all the love and attention? Why should we constantly make way for those who literally live on the lookout for any possible offense, real or imagined? Purdue University received a gift from a couple in honor of their parents. The wording the donors wanted on the plaque referenced “God’s physical laws.” However, the wording was changed without the donors’ permission on the grounds that someone might be offended and the plaque might incite a legal battle. Now a First Amendment legal battle is underway at Purdue. Why? Fear of giving offense. This is not to give anyone permission to deliberately hurt others. For example, would it have hurt the Anglo students at Live Oak to wear the flag every other day and just skip May 5? On the other hand, the administration at Live Oak could have simply said, “Look, this is America. If you are offended by the flag of this republic, you are too easily offended and you need to lighten up. Oh, and by the
way, all the nice policemen in the halls will be helping us have a fun day. Beyond that, on Cinco de Mayo, as marvelous a fiesta as that is, the flag of the republic still flies.” Where this issue of constant offensetaking becomes truly counterproductive is in the church. Every time some churchgoer gets their feelings hurt, everyone gathers around, billing and cooing like a flock of mourning doves. One of the problems is that it is frequently the same people who are easily offended. Again and again! I think it is high time that church leaders quit enabling these “repeat offensers.” The Bible says in 1 Corinthians that love is not easily provoked. When someone is regularly and all-too-easily offended, it is proof that he is short on love. The current trend is to “hold people accountable” for every verbal slip. Why can’t we start to hold people accountable for inflicting their emotional immaturity on the rest of us? Every pastor receives emails from easily wounded souls devastated by some word, joke or sermon. Those faint hearts should know their pastor’s heart is right and his motives pure, but they are compelled, absolutely compelled, to express their offense. They know they will be swaddled and rocked in tender arms, their tears dabbed at tenderly by comforters who enjoy the scene as much as they do. They count on their addiction to sympathy being pandered to rather than their own emotional weakness being challenged by a church that loves them enough to tell them to lighten up and grow up. America is falling prey to a terrible tyranny of full-time offense takers. The church is under no obligation to follow suit. Love is the key for us. Love does not want to give offense. Love also does not easily take offense. The body of Christ must throw off every ruler save Jesus only and grow into the maturity He wants us to find. We have a King, not emotional tyrants. Even as I finish writing this column, I am absolutely certain that there will be those who are offended by this article on not being easily offended. Oh, well.
“I think it is high time that church leaders quit enabling ‘repeat offensers.’”
12 MinistryToday September // October 2015
D r . M a r k R u t l a n d is president of Global Servants. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has over 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president. Life Touch
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The God-Drenched Mind
Centering your mind in the daily grind goes a long way toward finding perspective
ou’ll never have a problem-free life—ever. You might be called out of the stands to pinch-hit when your team is down to its final out of the World Series, hit a home run and have your face appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Pigs might fly. Men might surrender the remote control. Women might quit buying purses. It’s not likely. But it’s possible. But a problem-free, no-hassle, blue-sky existence of smooth sailing? Don’t hold your breath—especially if you are in ministry. Problems happen. And problems have a way of narrowing our vision. Want to help your congregation enlarge their vision and overcome their problems? Set an example by following Caleb. Caleb’s story stands out because his faith did. When Moses sent the 12 spies into Canaan, Caleb was among them. He and Joshua believed the land could be taken. But since the other 10 spies disagreed, the children of Israel ended up in the wilderness. God, however, took note of Caleb’s courage. “But My servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit with him and followed Me fully, I will bring him into the land where he went, and his seed will possess it” (Num. 14:24). He centered his mind on the Lord. When the Israelites claimed the Promised Land, Caleb reminded Joshua of God’s promises to him. What name appears and reappears in Caleb’s words in Joshua 14? The Lord. The Lord. The Lord. Nine references to the Lord! Who was on Caleb’s mind and heart? What caused him to have a different spirit? He centered his mind on the Lord. What about you? What emphasis would a transcript of your thoughts reveal? The Lord? Or the problem, the problem? The economy, the economy? The jerk, the jerk? Promised Land people do not deny the presence of problems. Canaan is fraught with giants and Jerichos. It does no good to pretend the land is not. Servants like Caleb aren’t naive, but they immerse their minds in God-thoughts. When troubles come our way, stare at the mountain less and at the Mountain Mover more. Ponder the holiness of God. Set your mind on a holy cause. When Moses sent Caleb to spy out the land, Caleb saw something that troubled him—the town of Hebron. Hebron held a special spot in the history of
the Hebrews. It was the only piece of land that Abraham ever owned. Abraham buried his wife there. He was buried there. So were Isaac, Rebekah and Jacob. Hebron was a sacred site. But on the day Caleb first saw it, the holy hill was inhabited by unholy people. To see the burial place of Abraham disrespected and disregarded? It was more than he could take. So Caleb asked Moses for Hebron. “Just give Hebron to me; I’ll take care of it.” Moses took the request to God. God gave the answer, and Caleb was given the land. Fortyfive years later, at the age of 85, the old soldier was ready to inhabit Hebron. He chased the enemy and reclaimed the city. Caleb wanted to do something great for God. He lived with a higher call. How high is yours? Maybe the reason your problems feel so great is because your cause is too small. I have a friend who makes regular medical mission trips to a remote jungle clinic in order to treat the disadvantaged. He is a retired surgeon with an ample income. He could spend every day of his life in ease and luxury. But he focuses on supporting the health clinic for his own good. “I need a cause that is greater than cable TV and Cadillacs,” he said. “If I focus on my comfort, nothing can satisfy me. But when I focus on the concerns of God, I am a happy man.” My friend functions out of a God-drenched mind. If your problems are great, then your cause is too small. When your cause is great, the problems begin to shrink. Do you have a holy cause? Ask God to give you and the people in your church a Hebron to claim to His glory. An orphanage to serve. A neighbor to encourage. A needy family to feed. A class to teach. Some senior citizens to encourage. Want to see your troubles evaporate? Help others with theirs. You’ll always face problems. But you don’t have to face them the way you always have. Immerse your mind in God-thoughts, and set your mind on a holy cause. Once you find your mountain, no giant will stop you, no age will disqualify you, no problems will defeat you. After all, you and Caleb have something in common. You have a different spirit.
“If your problems are great, then your cause is too small. When your cause is great, the problems begin to shrink.”
14 MinistryToday September // October 2015
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Serving Marketplace Leaders Your church can fulfill an important role by supporting businesses
riving across town on that sunny Southern California day, my mind wandered to our monthly Business Connection event scheduled at church that night. Generally, I look forward to our monthly gathering of small business leaders, owners and entrepreneurs, but not this night. I wasn’t thinking about praying for these small business leaders and their companies or the high-energy networking and sharing they would engage in or what our main speaker would share. I was thinking about how to get it all done in the few hours left in the day and whom I needed to call. I had just found out that many of my core volunteers were not available, and I was left to figure out how to make an event happen for 100 people. To make things even more complicated, we had technology challenges in our marketing and communication. Our typical threeweek schedule for communication had been reduced to a week, relying heavily on emails, social media, word-ofmouth—and prayer. Since we hadn’t met the previous two months and lacked strong speakers the two months before that, we’d lost momentum.
18 MinistryToday September // October 2015
BY HELEN M. MITCHELL And I was beginning to lose my momentum too. Were we really making a difference? Is this still what small business leaders were looking for from their local church? Turning off the main road, my thoughts drifted to personal matters. I was leaving for the airport at 5:00 the next morning, and I still had not packed or prepared for my business trip. It was going to be a long night. The bright California sun and the beginning of summer did nothing to alleviate the weight and pressures of life that accompanied me in the car that afternoon. In the four years I have been leading the Business Connection at Saddleback Church, thousands of people have come for the purpose of connecting to people, connecting to business and connecting to their work purpose. In spite of the fruitfulness, the value, new business development and the ministry, in that moment I wanted to quit. I have been told that rarely is there a pastor who doesn’t want to quit at least once a month—and often every Monday morning! Unable to clearly discern God’s will and direction, two questions came to mind: 1) Should the church continue
with the monthly Business Connection event? and 2) Was I to continue to lead it if we did? Was it time for a big change? At the end of the event that evening, John, a regular participant, approached me. He’d casually told me in the past that the hour’s drive was not too much for the value he gained in listening to inspiring and knowledgeable speakers and to clarify where God was in the midst of his business. This night, however, he was a man on a mission and not at all casual in expressing the value that he and other small business leaders gained. He was direct and strong with his words. It was as if he knew what I needed to hear. “Don’t stop meeting,” he said. “We need this.” Either God was really making a point about the need to meet and minister to small business owners or He didn’t want me to miss the answer to my first question—or perhaps both. It also turned out we had an abundance of help that night, so I was able to leave earlier than usual, as I was eager to get home and on with my packing. Before I left that evening, I walked up to thank our speaker one last time and realized a quick exit was not to be. Another attendee who had been talking with our
ÂŠ iStockphoto/eatcute | Robert Hawkins | Helen Mitchell
The monthly Business Connection event aims to build competency, character and community among its members.
speaker commented on how passionate he thought I was for these folks and that I obviously was the right person to lead this group. I had just met this guy!
An Unknown Need
In my journey with workplace ministries, I have learned that there is both a need and a huge opportunity for the church to make a difference in the business community—but most pastors are not aware of it. Most of the pastors and seminary students I’ve spoken with through the years have not considered how or why they should support the business leaders in their church. Central to the church’s role in supporting businesses are questions like these: Is work good and a gift of God? Are only certain types of work pleasing and acceptable to the Lord? Which jobs are considered doing God’s work? Words like profit, competition, money and business can elicit negative connotations for some. Today’s anti-capitalist news headlines seem to reinforce stereotypes. Others may view businesses simply as sources of funding for the local church or their employees as a mission field ripe for evangelism. While in some cases those descriptions may be accurate, it’s important to remember that a business is a combination of the organization and the people who work in it. If we 20 MinistryToday September // October 2015
want to know what contribution the company is making to society and to employees’ quality of life, we must look at both the purpose of the business and its leadership. Businesses themselves add to our world by the contribution of products or services and the employment of individuals. In the case of medical technology, for instance, improvements in the field have brought life-saving procedures and much-needed relief from pain. A smartphone and a computer keep grandma connected with her children and grandchildren on the other side of the country. Any job done for the wrong reasons with sinful motivations and an impure heart is not pleasing to the Lord. Who does the work, how it gets done and for what reasons reflect the state of the leader’s heart. The pastor plays an important role in serving business leaders. Ephesians 4:11-13 expands the pastor’s role by instructing God’s representatives to equip the saints for the work of ministry. The word “works” in this passage is the Greek word ergon, which can mean business, employment, task, product developed or anything accomplished by hand, art or industry. Part of the pastoral job description then is to help God’s people find the right job and to do their work with excellence as unto
the Lord to benefit the common good and for human flourishing. God intends for His people to be His managers in the world for His glory and for the benefit of others. God ordained work prior to the entrance of sin in the world, and work in itself has intrinsic value (Gen. 1:23-28; 2:15). Almost every pastor I know can tell you that defining moment when he felt called into pastoral ministry. These pastors knew their work reflected God’s purpose for their life. They were to lead His people, grow them to be more like Christ and prepare them for a ministry and mission in the world. Rare is the business leader who will tell you that he was created to run a good business and that his worship, ministry and evangelism flows from work that is pleasing to God. Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we should walk in them.” Again we find that the word “works” is ergon, the same used in Ephesians 4. God planned long ago for some people to run a good and profitable business and to develop a good product or service. These leaders are to have a ministry inside and outside the local church and a mission in the world. The pastor plays an important and influential role for business leaders. Faith, Robert Hawkins
work and economics are fundamental to our gospel mission and creation mandate. As the pastor points the business leader to a fuller understanding of his purpose and influence in the world, his focus will expand beyond the local church to becoming more globally minded. As the pastor guides the leader in practically connecting faith to daily work, the leader will become more missionally driven in his business and more Spirit-driven in his leadership. As the pastor guides the business leader in discerning where God is in his business, the leader will collaborate as God’s business partner to meet unmet needs, bring new solutions and influence people. As the pastor leads the business leader to connect with other like-minded leaders, they will find community and a sharing of ideas and spiritual growth in their work life. For example, at our monthly Business Connection event, we are building competency, character and community among the members. We are investing in their vocational, spiritual and personal development. The business leader is not looking for his pastor to help him run his business more profitably, implement manufacturing improvements or make that personnel decision. The business leader is looking for his pastor to be his pastor in all areas of their life, including his work life. Leaders want their pastors to pray for them and their business. They want to be seen, known and understood for what they do. Pastors need to acknowledge the contribution that the leader’s business makes to society, and affirm the leader’s calling, value, worth and dignity as a business leader. Business leaders want to be valued for what they can provide in the local church with their unique skills and training. Invite them to speak into technology, communication, finance and other aspects of running the church. Unless the CEO has a real desire to work in the nursery, his service likely will be better invested in matters that match his skill set, giftings, experience and passion. Business leaders want their pastor to unpack biblical truths with excellence 22 MinistryToday September // October 2015
Marketplace leaders surrender their work lives to God by nailing their business cards to the cross.
and help them understand. They want to be refreshed, uplifted and encouraged. After a week of being beat up by customers, suppliers and investors, they need to be refueled and sent back out into the world.
No ‘Right Way’
There is no single model or one right way for the local church to support businesses. At our church, we have a directory of the businesses represented in our church that is available to the congregation; business networking and business mentoring within the church to create community; small groups or life groups at various leaders’ businesses with their employees in order to help them maintain focus on the purpose of the business and grow the individuals in their work life. Chaplaincy services are also effective in the right environment. Bring in speakers to help business leaders navigate workplace challenges, such as legal rights. Support entrepreneurial ventures or fund small-business startups. Each church needs to discover whom God has entrusted to the congregation, their members’ level of spiritual maturity, the
businesses represented and their locations, sizes and industries. Each pastor needs to build on the unique DNA of his own church with the people God has placed in his congregation. Fortunately, we are seeing an increase in the number of churches that are attempting to connect with the work life of their members. Unfortunately, most of those efforts, while well-intended, go from sizzle to fizzle in a hurry. Pastors and church leaders are left frustrated and their congregation disappointed. “RIDE” is a simple acrostic you can use for a guiding strategy. It helps pastors frame support not only for business leaders but also for all of the working congregation. The acrostic’s meaning is not necessarily sequential, but it offers areas of focus. Think of these areas as levers that when pulled, will yield fruitfulness as church members are empowered to multiply in the marketplace. hh Reinforce the role that believers have in the marketplace hh Identify the influence they have hh Disciple them in their work life hh Empower to multiply Helen Mitchell
R: Reinforce the Role
What is their job description for Jesus? A mature theology of work facilitates an integrated understanding of work, stewardship and calling from a biblical perspective. Pastors need to include work illustrations in their teaching. Although not everyone in the congregation will work in the field of business or have a career, everyone can identify with words like job, work and workplace.
I: Identify the Influence
Now that your congregation has the big picture, help them to see what this looks like in their work life. Use testimonials, stories and practical examples to provide a mental model and fuel creativity. Business leaders influence their employees with their character, their company with their ideas and leadership, their industry by their decisions and those around them by how they live.
With a high-level understanding of God’s purposes in the marketplace and what leaders can do in connecting their daily schedules to God’s work, the pastor can effectively disciple the business leader. This discipleship can occur in the church’s weekend service, through classes or on an individual basis. Small and consistent activities shape beliefs and facilitate cultural change. If people are effectively discipled in their work life, lives will be changed, and companies and communities will be transformed. At Saddleback, we focused on growing and discipling marketplace believers, primarily through one of our 500 workplace small groups. Twenty-five percent of our workplace small groups had one or more people come to Christ by first developing disciples, so at our December 2014 Business Connection event, I invited the small business leaders to offer their business to Jesus as their Christmas gift. Using large wooden crosses placed throughout the room, the leaders nailed their business cards to them in surrender.
E: Empower to Multiply
With the right soil, the planting of seeds and consistent watering, you will 24 MinistryToday September // October 2015
“There is both a need and a huge opportunity for the church to make a difference in the business community—but most pastors are not aware of it.” begin to see lives change, people coming to Christ, businesses transformed and communities impacted. God is eager to make Himself known through the business leaders in your church and through their businesses.
How to Guide Business Leaders
1) Increase understanding on the integration of faith, work and economics. Books such as Business for the Glory of God by Wayne Grudem, Work Matters by Tom Nelson and Business for the Common Good by Kenman L. Wong and Scott B. Rae are a few of my picks. Theologyofwork.org is a robust website with articles, resources and an in-depth review for each book of the Bible. Convenenow.com is a nationwide group of Christian CEOs growing exceptional businesses built on kingdom principles. 2) Join a community of like-minded pastors in this work-life conversation. Made to Flourish, a pastors’ network for the common good, is an effective forum for pastors to support and learn from one another, as well as access tools, resources and assistance. Learn more at madetoflourish.org. 3) Visit your business leaders at their place of business. Walk with them and experience their life on a regular basis. Understand how their company operates, their challenges and opportunities. 4) Read what your business leaders are reading. Pick up the latest management, leadership or business book, and
discuss it with your business leaders. Subscribe to a business journal or magazine to keep current with business and economic trends. 5) Consider the needs of the unemployed in your church. Consider what your church can do to provide assistance in finding a job for the unemployed, from resume writing to interviewing skills. The unemployed may, in fact, be a talent pool for your business leaders, so this could be a win-win. 6) Find someone in your church who is passionate about Christian leadership in the marketplace. Pray for and find individuals with whom you can collaborate, and empower to lead and develop marketplace initiatives in your church for your working congregation. 7) Cast a vision of being a whole-life discipleship church. Helping your congregation identify the godly value in their daily work is not another idea to add, but rather one to integrate into the ministries and culture of our churches. As mentioned earlier, as we were preparing for yet another monthly Business Connection meeting, God took me on a drive to get my attention. He reminded me of the role of the church in supporting and meeting the needs of business leaders and those who have been called to do His work in the marketplace. He showed me, again, that it’s not about me, but about serving our business leaders. This ministry is not easy, but it can bear much fruit for the kingdom of God. What local business leaders can your church help develop? H e l e n M . M i t c h e l l is the architect and visionary of the Saddleback@Work ministry, where she served on the pastoral staff at Saddleback Church. As CEO and founder of Strategic Management Resources, she is a speaker, author, licensed minister and consultant to business leaders and pastors. She is director of the Talbot Center for Faith, Work and Economics at Biola University, as well as an adjunct faculty member at Biola’s Crowell School of Business. Her business career started with AT&T, where she became a vice president at the age of 30.
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Finding Purpose in the Workaday World How our church is helping business BY WIL LAKE
hristian leaders engaged in the marketplace need to know there is a higher purpose to their careers than boosting their company’s bottom line. Helping leaders discover their spiritual purpose in the marketplace has been the driving force of our church’s Marketplace Ministry. After attending one of our Marketplace Ministry events, one business leader said, “Now I realize that there is a spiritual purpose for my business.” Purpose is a powerful word, a lifechanging concept, a spiritual revelation. Purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.” Our church—The Father’s House in Northern California—is helping leaders discover the purpose for their businesses, their talents and their prosperity. God created all of us for the purpose of loving and glorifying Him. When we use the talents and skills He gave us, we glorify Him in our work. Author Wayne Grudem observes in Business for the Glory of God that one of the ways we can glorify God is through “imitation of the attributes of God.” Grudem writes that desire in humans to imitate God is “why human beings have an instinctive drive to work, to be productive, to invent, to earn and save and give and to do the thousands of specific activities that fill our days.” Business leaders who find purpose in the marketplace are motivated to work tirelessly to achieve that purpose. The
26 MinistryToday September // October 2015
results can be astounding! Consider what Bill Gates shared about starting Microsoft. “When Paul Allen and I started Microsoft over 30 years ago, we had big dreams about software,” Gates said. “We had dreams about the impact it could have. We talked about a computer on every desk and in every home. It’s been amazing to see so much of that dream become a reality and touch so many lives. I never imagined what an incredible and important company would spring from those original ideas.” Most of us don’t know Gates, but our lives have been affected significantly by his life purpose.
Wealth on Purpose
In our Marketplace Ministry, we teach our business leaders that their life matters. Their life has meaning, and their work has purpose. In Deuteronomy 8:6-17, God tells Israel of the blessings that come from observing His commands. He let them know that they would live in good lands with plenty of resources and that all their material needs would be met. Then in verse 18, He tells them to remember something really important. “But you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to get wealth, so that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is today.” God gives us the “ability to get wealth.” Why? What’s the purpose of this wealth?
To “establish His covenant” made with Abraham (Gen. 12:2-3). It’s a covenant of blessing, not only for them personally but also “a blessing” to others through them. Israel would be blessed to be a blessing. They would prosper for the purpose of extending God’s spiritual kingdom. This is also the purpose for our financial success—that we would bless people in need, finance church ministries and reach those far from God through generosity extending His kingdom all around the world. As present-day Christ followers, we are under the same covenant of blessing Abraham was under through our faith (Gal. 3:8-9, 29). When marketplace leaders grab on to the spiritual purpose for their business, their work becomes much more meaningful. They begin building a business to glorify God and using their wealth to build His kingdom in their community and around the world.
Support in Community
Practically speaking, how is our church helping businesses? At The Father’s House, we encourage our business leaders to see their business as a ministry that is vital to God’s will being accomplished in their community. As pastors, we instill in them faith and vision for greater levels of success and influence in their particular market sector. We push our young entrepreneurs to dream big, work hard and connect with the older, more experienced business people
ÂŠ iStockphoto/Rawpixel Ltd; Wavebreakmedia | Lightstock
who can mentor and coach them. We provide a platform for business people to meet together through our BusinessLink ministry. BusinessLink offers a network for the success-driven, high-capacity achiever—or those who want to become one—desiring moral support, sources of wisdom, relationships and prayer. BusinessLink gatherings are held once a month on a weeknight and are led by business leaders. The first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes of the 90-minute gathering are for talking together and networking. There is usually a 15-minute roundtable discussion on business-oriented questions asked by the ministry leaders. Then a guest speaker will talk for 25-30 minutes on a relevant topic having to do with business practice, market conditions or legal issues or will present a testimony of how God intervened and has blessed a business opportunity. Periodically one of our pastors will speak, adding a spiritual emphasis on business and finance. We have a couple of important guidelines for BusinessLink. First, guest speakers are not allowed to promote their business. They can share what they do and describe their business, but are asked not to promote it as an opportunity for new clients or partnerships. This is a fine line, but we’ve had success in keeping it. This is not a “dog and pony show” moment to attract new clients, and we don’t want BusinessLink attendees to feel like they are sitting through a sales presentation. Second, we never ask for money. BusinessLink is a safe environment for business leaders to come and not get “hit up” for money from pastors or ministry leaders. We’ve never taken an offering at any BusinessLink gathering, but as a church, we cover the cost for these events. We see these gatherings as “investments” in our business leaders. These leaders respect the fact that their pastors don’t see them or this gathering as a place to ask for money. Another important thing we do is provide a platform for business people to connect with job seekers. This ministry, CareerLink, is designed to help people who are looking for a new job or considering changing jobs in the future. Each week at a gathering held at our church, those in attendance hear from recruiting experts, career coaches and other guest speakers. Topics 28 MinistryToday September // October 2015
Executive career coach Dean Tracy gives CareerLink participants some keys to staying motivated during their job search.
Christian business leaders bring their skills to all types of marketplace ventures.
discussed are how to write a winning resume, how to set yourself apart in a job interview, do’s and don’ts on an interview and how to stay motivated in their job search. Many of our people have found the best jobs they’ve ever had because of what they learned at CareerLink.
Results From Outreach
Since we launched CareerLink, two amazing things have happened. What started as a ministry for our local church has expanded to include our community as a whole. As a result, one of the greatest things that has happened is that now the majority
of people in attendance at CareerLink are from the community rather than from our church body. Word has gotten out that there is a local church that will equip people in the community to find jobs. CareerLink has become an “on ramp” for people to discover our church. The other amazing result of this ministry is that local businesses and job placement programs have asked to partner with us. The job programs let us know which companies are looking for workers so we can send people their way. Local companies contact us directly and inform us when they have job openings. People who came Chris Elm | © iStockphoto/Steve Debenport
to CareerLink without hope now have new careers, bringing them dignity and financial stability. Lastly, we let our business people know that we want to pastor them. I used to push them to lead business-oriented small groups until I realized that most of them needed to be in small groups as participants, not as leaders. As hard-charging business leaders, they need to work on their marriages and their parenting challenges or just hang out with cool people who aren’t expecting more than friendship from them. They need to know that we care about them as people. Ted is an example of a successful business owner who needed pastoral care. In an email he sent to me, he shared how the care he received had impacted his business: “My wife, Nancy, and I started going to TFH (The Father’s House) in January 2010,” Ted said. “We had never been involved in or committed to a church before that time. We joined a marriage small group, and I started attending
Marketplace Ministries. I started forming friendships and relationships with other business owners within the church. “My wife and I are the owners of a company of approximately 40 employees, and we specialize in hazardous waste transportation and management. When we found our way to TFH, we were struggling in our marriage and our business was also in trouble. “Morale was low, and the culture of the company was terrible. “As a result of relationships formed at TFH and Marketplace Ministries, God placed exactly the right people in my life. “One of our pastors introduced Nancy and me to a couple who helped us to get our marriage back on track. We then introduced our whole company to their teaching and guidance, which started a culture shift at work using godly principles. “Another member of Marketplace Ministries who specializes in helping organize companies with process and procedures began working with our management staff. This has been another huge step in
helping change the way we do business. “We know that it pleases God that we are now seeing the ‘big picture’: “What is business for? The answer is kingdom purposes. “We are now not only experiencing the best year financially in the history of our company, but we are also seeing big life changes in those working with us. “We have come a long way in our walk and are grateful for the help we have been afforded from our local church.” When business leaders find their purpose, everything changes! Pastors can help them discover new levels of success by including ministry to the business community as part of their church’s overall strategy. W i l L a k e serves as the Napa campus pastor at The Father’s House, reaching people in Northern California’s Napa Valley. He also oversees leadership development and the church’s Marketplace Ministry, encouraging business people to see their business as a ministry.
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Heavy lifting, such as erecting this reactor in an oil refinery, provides much of Barnhart Crane & Rigging’s “profit with a purpose.”
Barnhart Crane & Rigging
Giving Away the Store—for the
KINGDOM’S SAKE Barnhart Crane and Rigging shows how significantly business can impact the church
BY TAYLOR BERGLUND
lan and Eric Barnhart grew their company, Barnhart Crane & Rigging, in two decades from a simple mom-and-pop operation to an industry leader valued at several hundred million dollars. Then, in 2007, the brothers suddenly gave the company away to a Christian organization. This move prompted plenty of media attention, as the industry tried to figure out why the brothers would make such a radical decision. But the leaders of Barnhart Crane won’t be found basking in the attention; they’re a pretty humble group of individuals. When asked what the company does, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Jeff Latture says, “Barnhart is a company that moves big things.” Latture may just be describing the company’s day-to-day operations. A contractor working primarily in the energy sector, Barnhart Crane specializes in using large machinery to lift and transport industrial equipment across the country. The company transports almost every type of massive equipment imaginable, from space shuttles to giant drills to nuclear turbines. Sometimes the company works on uniquely difficult projects, such as when they had to haul a 400-ton component from Tennessee to Virginia. None of Barnhart Crane’s transports could carry it, and even if they could, there was a risk that highway bridges would collapse under the weight. At the 2013 C12 Leaders Conference, President and CEO Alan Barnhart explained that they solved this predicament by building an
even bigger transport, one which could also navigate around the bridges. Barnhart Crane has 44 offices and 1,300 employees. Shifting big things takes on a spiritual component for the company’s leaders as well. Barnhart has been instrumental in moving one of the biggest obstacles for many ministries: budgetary struggles. The company donates a significant portion of its profit every year to churches, ministries and charities; that profit often looks like hundreds of thousands of dollars. That would be enough for most companies, but not for Barnhart Crane. In 2007, they gave away 99 percent of the multimillion-dollar company.
Blessed to Be a Blessing
Of course, Barnhart Crane was not always so large. The company that would become Barnhart Crane and Rigging was started by the brothers’ father, Richard Barnhart, in 1969. Richard and his wife, Nancy, retired unexpectedly in 1986 and offered the small business to their sons; if the sons refused the offer, Richard and his wife planned to sell the company. The decision was difficult for Alan, who was in the process of leaving to become a missionary in Saudi Arabia with his wife, Katherine. Furthermore, he’d been studying the Bible and, based on the words of Christ, had developed a healthy fear of becoming wealthy. Alan talked with his brother, and they agreed to take over the business together, but under one condition—the company had to be fully dedicated to God. Latture explained that Alan “came to his conclusion that everything we have and everything we are belongs September // October 2015 MinistryToday 33
One of Barnhart’s specialties is hauling very large cargo loads such as this reactor headed to a natural gas processing plant in Kansas.
“We believe that as we’re successful and attempt to make lots of money, it’s not a call to increase our lifestyles and make more money. It’s a call for us to give back.”—Jeff Latture to God, and the question is: ‘What are you going to do with it? What does the Owner want you to do with it?’” The brothers repositioned the local business as a commercial company, added some cranes, and the modern Barnhart Crane and Rigging was born. They weren’t entirely convinced that the business would survive the year, but they said that if it became successful, they would limit their income and find methods to give back to God and the community. This commitment was inspired by 1 Timothy 6:17-19: “Command those who are rich in this world that they not be conceited, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who richly gives us all things to enjoy. Command that they do good, that they be rich in good works, generous, willing to share, and laying up in store for themselves a good foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of eternal life.” Their principles paid off. The original staff of 12 multiplied in the next decade, attracting exciting new members—including Latture—with such perfect timing that Alan could only describe it as “miraculous.” Latture explains that he and many others were attracted by the company’s principles and ultimate purpose of serving the kingdom of God. 34 MinistryToday September // October 2015
As the company grew, so did its profits. The company grew at least 25 percent every year for 23 consecutive years. By 2008, Alan said that Barnhart Crane and Rigging was worth $250 million. And that was what motivated Alan and Eric to make their big decision. In 2007, the brothers put 99 percent of the company into a trust with the National Christian Foundation. Recently, the 1 percent that they held onto—a voting trust—was given away as well. As of 2013, Alan Barnhart owns no part of the company that bears his name, although he is still the steward of the company. Why would the brothers make such a big move? Latture describes it as the ultimate fulfillment of their original vow: “This thing is worth an awful lot of money. It’s a huge temptation and ... inheritance, passing from one generation to another—that could be a problem. So Alan and Eric said, ‘We say it’s God’s. Why don’t we just make it God’s?’” They had to get special permission from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to make the exchange—the IRS was convinced that no sane person would give away their company unless there was foul play involved—but the transaction finally went through. Alan
has never regretted the decision: “It has been so much more fulfilling to be a kingdom investor than it could have ever been to be a consumer.” For a while, Barnhart Crane’s staff members were hesitant to tell their story. “We tried really hard to be under the radar and not a known entity in the giving world,” said Latture. “Then we were challenged probably 10 years ago by some guys who told us: ‘The testimony is important. The model you have is also a value to the kingdom, and you need to be willing to help others.’” Barnhart Crane’s model shows how a business can make a big impact on the church.
Giving Away a Million
On the surface, what Barnhart Crane does doesn’t look any different from any other company. Alan and Latture consistently describe Barnhart Crane as a for-profit company. The senior staff members view making money as their goal. But the “why” behind the “what” is what makes the company remarkable. Latture understands that the company is not Christian. “Companies can’t be Christian,” he said. “But the leaders are, and we run that based on our faith. ... It means we believe that as we’re successful and attempt to make lots of money, it’s not a call to increase our lifestyles and make more money. It’s a call for us to give back.” The senior staff members see God as the ultimate owner of everything. God has given them everything, from the original business to the resources, from the employees to the clients; company leadership believes it is their duty to return those gifts to Him by supporting ministries both locally and internationally. In 2009, Barnhart Crane and Rigging gave away $1 million to more than 200 charities and ministries; from all available evidence, that’s a pretty standard year of giving for the company. So where does it all go? The Barnharts don’t decide which ministries get the money through a family foundation. Rather, they started a group called GROVE (God’s Resources Operating Very Effectively). GROVE is composed of employees who have an Barnhart Crane & Rigging
interest in where the money they’re making is going. Members tend to become advocates for one or two ministries, and then extensively research and build relationships with that ministry. “We have 60 to 80 people, in some cases with their spouses involved, doing due diligence on ministry, building their relationships, traveling to see the work and then facilitating the grant request internally to get a gift approved,” Latture said. “There’s no expectation that you do it as part of your job, but we do give people the freedom to do that if they have interest.” These advocates have gone as far as Yemen on trips to work alongside these ministries, which has helped to adjust their own perspective when it comes to working at Barnhart. In fact, Alan says that several of them have even come to Christ as a result of their experiences. Not all the charities are in far-away locales; some are located in the company’s own backyard. Barnhart Crane supports inner city ministry, as well as local churches and outreaches. The youth ministry Young Life, which helped Alan develop his faith growing up, is a beneficiary. Barnhart Crane is affiliated with Hope Christian Community Foundation, which aims to help other companies devoted to kingdom investment. But in general, Barnhart Crane doesn’t like to brag about all the organizations they’re helping; after all, “when you do your charitable deeds, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matt. 6:3).
Modeling Faith on the Job
At the end of college, Alan’s friends told him he needed to become a minister. He wanted to serve the Lord in full-time ministry, but after prayer, he realized, “All of us who are followers of Jesus are in full-time ministry.” This view has infused both his life and his company. Barnhart Crane’s staff views their whole company as a form of ministry, not only serving the surrounding community but also their employees within. After all, the church isn’t limited to a church building, and kingdom ministry doesn’t cease after Sunday morning. To make their company a place where 36 MinistryToday September // October 2015
Barnhart engineer John Shaw teaches students in a hands-on learning class in an after-school program.
ministry can thrive, the senior leadership team tries to model both openness about their faith and acceptance of others for who they are in Christ. To hear them talk about it, creating a Christ-centered workplace is pretty simple. “We don’t have a ‘Gospel Hour’ or anything like that,” Latture laughed, and said it boils down to openness. “The senior guys are as accessible as anyone in the company. ... That openness creates an environment where you live out your faith, and in the company, it wouldn’t be uncommon if we’re having a working lunch to pray over the meal.” That transparency and openness among the top tier helps create a relaxing environment for the workers, who can more freely express themselves without fear of getting shut down. Christian employees are free to share their faith with unbelieving employees and to grow in spiritual discipline. Even nonbelievers can benefit, appreciating the personable environment and, of course, the benefits that come from being part of a successful business. Latture stresses that they hire a wide variety of faiths and, in a way, that gives their workplace a potential mission field. “A couple of times a year we will explain the purpose of the company and why we believe what we believe. ... Thanksgiving we tell why we’re thankful, Christmas we tell why we celebrate, and at Easter, we get to tell why we believe.” Latture said. “We’re very respectful, and that’s what we should
be anyway as believers: respectful but clear about what we believe when given the opportunity.” To young business leaders who are looking to follow Barnhart Crane’s unusual model, Latture urged them not only to serve in the community and to adopt openness, but also to find mentors and accountability. “I think all of us need a mentor,” he said. “I think wealthy folks have a hard time having peers that will speak into their lives about how to deal with (wealth), because it’s important and other believing business owners or leaders that have walked part of the road can be a great help.” When Alan and Eric gave their company to God, they realized that there was no going back. In the event that the company ever sells, the proceeds from it go to the trust. If Alan ever retires, he can’t hand it off to his children like his own parents did. The board will pick another trustee to run the company, hopefully one who will protect the same vow Alan made. Yet Alan isn’t concerned or worried about his company. He knows that it’s ultimately in God’s hands, as it always has been. In his closing remarks at the 2013 C12 Conference, Alan said that none of this experience has felt like he made a sacrifice. In fact, he said, “It feels like a blessing.” T a y l o r B e r g l u n d is assistant online editor at Charisma Media. Barnhart Crane & Rigging
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Honoring God in the marketplace yields an abundance of spiritual fruit BY DR. JAMES R. RUSSELL
oo many Christians and churches desperately need financial breakthrough. Many are trying to be obedient, giving and praying in faith, but somehow finances are still scarce. As a result, families are torn apart, churches are not built, missionaries are not sent, the poor are not helped, dreams are unfulfilled. Ultimately, with this lack of resources, the growth of the kingdom of God is hindered. A primary focus of the Bible and of Jesus, the kingdom message is the answer to many of our problems on this earth, including financial lack. Putting the kingdom message into practice in the area of finance also results in eternal rewards. Too often kingdom economics has been ignored. Kingdom economics is a necessary part of the full kingdom message. The Bible often uses “kingdom of heaven” and “kingdom of God” interchangeably, especially in Matthew, which was written to a primarily Jewish audience, but for the purposes of this article, we are defining the kingdom of heaven as the place of the throne of God where the Father and Jesus now dwell. For now, the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom that impacts the physical world, but it will become a physical kingdom during the millennium in the last days. Eventually the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven will merge. Kingdom economics is concerned with bringing the economy of the kingdom into the physical world. Living in the last days means believers have urgent responsibilities and cannot afford to be limited by a lack of resources. God does not intend for His children to be limited. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, but there are specific principles that must be followed. God will not violate His Word.
Building on a Heritage of Success
Christians have a heritage of past and present successful business leaders. For example, many know that John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) was very successful in his business dealings. In today’s terms, Rockefeller would have been worth more than $268 billion upon his death. At one point, he controlled 90 percent of all U.S. oil refining. With his prosperity, he gave generously, and some observers have declared that he was the greatest philanthropist America has ever had. Fewer know, however, that Rockefeller was a dedicated Christian who attended church every Sunday and prayer meetings every Friday, and also led a balanced life. He believed and attempted to follow the Scriptures and paid tithes his entire life. He had a heart for African-Americans and funded research that eradicated the hookworm disease that was prevalent in the South. He also funded the predominantly black Spelman College in Georgia. Rockefeller donations revolutionized medical training, funded the University of Chicago, supported missionaries and built hundreds of high schools in the South. Rockefeller began life as a poor boy who came from a dysfunctional family, but the Lord used him. Many of his monopolistic practices would be frowned upon in today’s culture, but his was a different time. R.G. LeTourneau (1888-1969) was a dedicated Christian who made his fortune manufacturing earth-moving equipment. He recovered from a bad partnership that left him $5,000 in debt and a failed
September // October 2015 MinistryToday 39
construction project that left him with $100,000 in liabilities. A man of Christian principles, LeTourneau refused to work Sundays even when threatened with bankruptcy. He started LeTourneau University, a private, nonprofit Christian institution. He also was responsible for 300 patents. LeTourneau was famous for tithing 90 percent of his income and keeping only 10 percent. As a well-known speaker on Christians in business, he did much to transfer a kingdom mentality to his fellow believers. Many know that the Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A chains are closed Sundays. The Lord honors people who obey
their commitment to Him regardless of potential costs. God has prospered both businesses, allowing the founders—David Green and the late S. Truett Cathy, respectively, to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into kingdom work. In addition, Green and Cathy have set examples with their fearless commitment to trusting the Lord and standing on biblical principles. Many also recognize the following companies and their Christian founders: Coca-Cola (Asa Candler), Domino’s (Tom Monaghan), Interstate Batteries (Norm Miller), Home Shopping Network (Bud Paxson), HTC Corporation and VIA Technologies (Cher Wang), Mary Kay Cosmetics (Mary Kay Ash), Pilgrim’s Pride (Bo Pilgrim), Quaker Oats (Henry Parsons Crowell), Service Master (Marion Wade) and Wal-Mart (Sam Walton).
Putting God’s Word to the Test
Millions of Christians have put God’s Word to the test in the business world. 40 MinistryToday September // October 2015
They have found that the Lord is faithful, and His Word includes sure promises for the believer. These marketplace Christians follow God and are empowered by His Holy Spirit. They are a light in an often dark world, leading by example in love, patience, honesty, integrity, righteousness, compassion and peace. The people these leaders influence in the marketplace observe their diligence, wisdom, insight and apparent favor. These leaders simply appear to be different than the world—and as a result, God is glorified in their work in the marketplace. The Lord wants to build His kingdom
through His people, and the business world will be a primary vehicle He will use to do so. As business people follow God’s direction and choose to partner with churches, they will have sufficient resources for themselves and others. Many business people also will be called to maximize their kingdom influence with their international connections. Whether founders, owners or employees, God can use the Christian no matter what role he fills in the marketplace. What is important is that each person is where the Lord has called him to be, to live out his faith and follow God’s direction. The critical factor is the believer’s relationship with Christ. The Lord has the ability to bless His people in the marketplace regardless of circumstances. Readers of the Old Testament know that Joseph (Gen. 39:21-23) is an example of this. He prospered even as a wrongly accused prisoner because the Lord was with him, and he was obedient.
Living as a Kingdom Citizen
If the believer wants to be an active citizen of the kingdom, he must follow kingdom principles. To do less and expect kingdom blessings is presumptuous. Kingdom principles are clearly outlined in the Bible, and they have been tested and proved millions of times. Consider these key kingdom principles: Principle 1: Believers must make sure their priorities reflect that they are serving God first. Abundance and wealth are tools to glorify God, build the kingdom, reach the lost and help the poor and disadvantaged. Christians do not own anything; all that
Mary Kay Ash
they have belongs to the Lord, and He is in control. He decides how it will be used and will require believers to be good stewards of these resources. Money can be a great blessing or a great curse depending on our priorities. Like the rich young man who was forced to choose between his wealth and following Jesus, we also must choose. Jesus said to the rich young man: “‘If you would be perfect, go and sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. And come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this, he went away sorrowful. For he had great possessions” (Matt. 19:21-22). We must decide whom we will serve. We must decide to first seek the kingdom and His righteousness. “No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt. 6:24). Principle 2: Believers need to get sin out of
“But you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to get wealth” (Deut. 8:18a). their lives, obey God and continually seek His presence. Repentance is always available. As Jesus commanded the adulterous woman, “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11). More influence and resources will exaggerate any weaknesses the believer has and will create new temptations. Obedience is key. We should be known for His righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. There is victory over all sin in His presence. “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 4:17). “For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11). Principle 3: Remember the Parable of the Sower. Jesus used the parable to help explain the mysteries of the kingdom. The parable describes the reasons why the Word of the kingdom is either productive or not. The parable indirectly teaches strategies to avoid life’s pitfalls and grow spiritual fruit. “Therefore listen to the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one who received seed beside the path” (Matt. 13:18-19). The strategy inherent in this passage is to be open to the Word of the kingdom, asking questions, seeking godly 42 MinistryToday September // October 2015
counsel and following the Holy Spirit. “But he who received the seed on rocky ground is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, eventually he falls away” (Matt. 13:20-21). The strategy here is to expect tests, anticipate difficulties and remain firm in your commitment regardless of potential costs. “He also who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22). The strategy revealed in this passage is to trust the Lord, maintain proper priorities, renew your mind, consecrate yourself anew and have patience. “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit. Some produce a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown” (Matt. 13:23). The strategy in this Scripture is to continually listen to and study the Word and put it into action, bearing fruit in the process. Principle 4: Willingly give tithes, offerings and whatever else the Lord directs. Hold nothing back that He asks. The Scriptures are replete with examples of the benefits of giving. Jesus answered, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left a house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, who shall not
receive a hundred times as much now in this age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, with persecution, and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30). “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will men give unto you. For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you” (Luke 6:38). Principle 5: Pray with faith. Continually pray for direction, wisdom, the solution to challenges, opportunities, favor and creative ideas. Pray individually and collectively. Be willing to receive prayer from others. “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you will receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). “You ask, and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. So if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have whatever we asked of Him” (1 John 5:14-15). Principle 6: Be empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit has been given to lead, guide, direct, convict, witness and empower the believer. The fruit of the Spirit should be on display everywhere. The gifts of the Spirit should be utilized in board meetings and in managing businesses as well as in church buildings. The kingdom is known for the supernatural. “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20). “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of Hosts” (Zech. 4:6). Principle 7: Do not fail the test of victory and success. The greatest temptation is likely to come after the reception of financial breakthrough. When our financial means are more modest, we tend to be more humble, more willing to seek the Lord in faith, more appreciative and more dependent on the Lord. It is easy not to hoard when we have nothing to hoard. When the Lord has answered our prayers in the affirmative and success comes, it is time to share a testimony of His faithfulness and goodness, to express gratitude, to increase kingdom giving, to help and teach others and to push in for His direction and Lightstock
more of His power. Avoid pride. Remain humble. Increase fruit for the kingdom. “Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ But you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to
get wealth, so that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is today” (Deut. 8:17-18). In these last days, we are called to understand, apply and model the kingdom. To the extent that we allow the King of kings to have dominion in our lives, we
will experience victory. The message of the kingdom must spread throughout the world. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13). D r . J a m e s R . R u s s e l l is professor of economics and chair of the Undergraduate College of Business at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
GOD DOES NOT WANT TO USE YOU. HE WANTS TO KNOW YOU. ZACH NEESE, worship pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, boldly proclaims that you are not God’s disposable tool. You cannot perform to please Him. You were created to know Him, and then carry His love into a hurting world. Prepare to be transformed and revitalized by this realization of how to truly worship a King.
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Leaders How God has led some pastors out of the pulpit into significant ministry opportunity BY KEN WALKER
ark Rutland had worn multiple hats in church life, from pastoring a United Methodist church to evangelism to foreign missions. Yet, when he reached his early 50s, he and his wife, Alison, sensed a looming career shift. Still, they never expected it would come in the form of an invitation to lead the then-troubled Southeastern College. He never applied, just responded to an invitation from the board of directors. They weren’t interviewing others; the job was his for the taking. “That appealed—the sense of being needed, or wanted, to step in and take on that kind of challenge,” says Rutland, who six years later led the Assemblies of God school’s transition into Southeastern University. “I had lectured here and there, but never had been on the faculty of a university except adjunct lecturing in a couple of classes,” he says. “It just felt like a new direction and a fresh way to start trying to apply the gifts and direction I felt from the Lord.” To say he succeeded would be an understatement. The trustees of Oral Roberts University (ORU) were so impressed with Rutland’s accomplishments in Lakeland, Florida, that in 2009 they offered him ORU’s presidency. Taking over after a financial scandal left the Tulsa school rudderless, Rutland only stayed four years. His tenure included giving a two-year notice to allow adequate time for a replacement search. Today he has returned to Global Servants, the missions organization he founded in 1977. In addition, Rutland mentors pastors and business people through the National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL), which meets throughout the year at three different sites to provide practical instruction in everyday workplace issues. Regardless of the venue, Rutland never felt like he departed from ministry, but just changed roles while garnering considerable insights. He especially gained an appreciation for his expanded influence while speaking to college and university students. “When I was preaching in chapels, I became aware, almost at a painful level, that I was not just preaching to those college kids,” he recalls. “I was preaching to all the people they would marry, all the children they would raise, all the businesses they would run, all September // October 2015 MinistryToday 47
Fox News reporter aims to be faithful As a reporter, anchor and one-time host of Fox & Friends Weekend, Kelly Wright is a familiar face to millions of TV viewers. Yet, for years he has worn a second hat as an evangelist, worship leader and frequent pulpit speaker. After informal evangelistic appearances and on-air witnessing as a reporter for The 700 Club in the 1980s, Wright was ordained in 1993 by the nondenominational Open Door Chapel in Virginia Beach, Virginia. “My calling is actually what I do,” says Wright, who served as an associate pastor and worship leader at Open Door. “I’m trying to be faithful to my duties every day. “When life gets in the way, hopefully I’m there with the right words from God from my heart to inspire people and help them get through their difficult days.” A veteran of 12 years with Fox News Channel, Wright has reported on key developments in places such as Iraq, Africa and Paris; covered presidential Kelly Wright races; and interviewed public figures, including former First Lady Laura Bush. He has also reported on pastors such as Bishop T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. Wright says while such high-profile leaders attract controversy, they make a tremendous impact through the media on people’s lives and in ways that many will never see. “A lot of times we have to make an impact by being an example right where we are planted,” says the Oral Roberts University graduate. “It doesn’t matter if you are a reporter, a preacher, a teacher or a fisherman. Occupy that occupation by letting Christ show up in your life.” Ironically, despite his visible position, Wright is open to changing to a pastoral role if that is what God wants. For pastors contemplating going the opposite direction and leaving the pulpit, he suggests praying and making sure that God—and only God—is calling them to take that step. For the pastor thinking about departing his current role, Wright advises seeing whether he can handle a new role while also maintaining a pulpit. Wright uses the example of the late Adrian Rogers as someone who relied on staff for counseling, administration and other issues to leave him free to teach others beyond his congregation. “My advice to a pastor is to do this wisely and be sure that’s a call for you to step out into the unknown,” Wright says. “Then be ready. If you’re going to wake up every day and the devil knows your name, you’re going to be attacked.”—Ken Walker 48 MinistryToday September // October 2015
the churches they would pastor and all the districts they would represent in Congress— all the extended impact of their lives.”
A Broader Reach
Pastors who leave the pulpit for greater influence in God’s kingdom are true legacy leaders. Like Rutland, some continue to reach the church through those they teach. Others, like John C. Maxwell, keep their hand in the church through part-time pastoral roles or continue to serve as interim pastors, even though their new position represents their primary source of income. A best-selling author, Maxwell is respected for his work in leadership in secular and Christian arenas. Yet he had sensed God’s call to train and develop leaders five years before accepting the pastorate of Skyline Church in San Diego. Maxwell discussed this desire with the Skyline board, whose members agreed to allow him to pursue his call as senior pastor. He says a “great team” carried the load, particularly his last few years at the church. “As I look back now, I see that I wasn’t doing either at the highest possible level of excellence, so I finally let go of Skyline,” Maxwell says. “I loved the people there, but it was God’s church, not mine. It was time for someone else to lead there while I found out what God had for me in the development of leaders.” What the Lord had in mind for him included a greater entrée into the marketplace. In the past 20 years, Maxwell’s organizations (INJOY and now EQUIP) have trained more than 5 million leaders in nearly 200 nations. He also discovered that few people in the marketplace even think about the church. And that you can’t start a conversation with criticism; it takes credibility to do so. Business people won’t even listen to you unless you first demonstrate your competence. Establish that and they are open to a conversation. “I led more people to Christ outside the church in the first five years than I had in my previous 10,” says Maxwell, who now speaks several times a year at South Florida’s Christ Fellowship. “And in the 20 years I’ve been in the business community, I’ve led more people to Christ than I did in 26 years in the pulpit. “I was surprised by that. I shouldn’t have FOX News
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Versatile leader Dave Robinson empowers others to ‘take influence’ into the world Dave Robinson juggled business duties and the pastorate for years, carrying credentials with the Assemblies of God after attending Central Bible College. During his summer breaks while in college, Robinson directed homebuilding and remodeling crews. From 1993 to 1996, he oversaw a major redevelopment project at Canaan Land. Founded by the late Mac Gober, the Alabama-based ministry offers residential drug rehabilitation treatment. Dave Robinson Before and after his work in Alabama, Robinson pastored churches in the Chicago area. For four years during his last pastorate, he helped his son manage a recreational vehicle business. “I never separated my life between secular and the church,” says Robinson, a member of the Full Gospel Fellowship of Churches. “Through the years, I’ve always felt my greatest influence has been to advance the kingdom in the marketplace.” His sense of a “disconnect” between the church and the business world inspired him to leave the pulpit in 2005. His consultancy, Coaching 4 Ministers, works with pastors and business leaders. The latter represent about 40 percent of his business. Robinson’s passion is to awaken pastors to the reality that they are falling short of adequately training the average person in the pew to carry important Sunday lessons into the marketplace Monday. “When actor Harrison Ford crashed his plane (last March), the first group on the scene were doctors,” he says. “They realized who they were, what they were trained to do and probably saved his life. Isn’t that a great example of the church? If we’re trained, we’ll step in and know what needs to be done.” Robinson thinks that starts with a change of mindset, to help more Christians see themselves as ministers. Too many fail to realize that what goes on during the week is as “spiritual” as church, says Robinson, who addresses the situation in his book, Idle in the Marketplace at the Eleventh Hour. “It’s our job to prepare people to go back into their world and take influence,” Robinson says. If we don’t turn this around, we’re going to go the way of Rome and other (civilizations). “I believe it will happen with a divine partnership. The ‘royal priesthood’ (1 Pet. 2:9) is not just referring to church leaders. It’s referring to all people.”—Ken Walker 50 MinistryToday September // October 2015
been. After all, Jesus went out to the people who needed Him to share the gospel with them. I believe in the power of influence (and) opportunities.” So does Wes Cantrell, a new state legislator in Georgia. Although continuing to serve as young adult pastor at First Baptist Church (FBC) of Woodstock since his election to the state’s House of Representatives, Cantrell has seen his speaking invitations mushroom. A Georgia native whose first job was in youth ministry at a Southern Baptist congregation in Mississippi, Cantrell had already ventured outside the pulpit. In addition to maintaining an ongoing campus presence as director of First Priority, which helps establish student-led Bible clubs, he was one of the founders of The King’s Academy. A hybrid between homeschooling and two-days-a-week classes, in the past 17 years King’s has expanded its building space and enrollment, which is now at more than 900. He still serves as chairman of the board. Yet Cantrell never expected to run for elected office. But last year a legislator elected to fill an expired term took some stands that didn’t sit well with Cantrell or many of his future constituents. Soon a close friend asked, “Would you consider running against him?” Cantrell sidestepped the offer by trying to recruit two other men, but both declined. Nervous about potential churchstate conflicts, he decided to meet with his pastor. Johnny Hunt offered his unconditional support. “At 52, I felt like God was asking me to do something I didn’t want to do,” says Cantrell, whose district covers a region northwest of Atlanta. “It was the perfect storm. I can’t imagine any other circumstances in which I would have agreed to run for office.” Although FBC Woodstock is one of the area’s larger megachurches, the associate pastor quickly discovered what widespread visibility meant. His speaking invitations quadrupled, taking him to places like an addiction recovery center, a foster-care program graduation and a child advocacy center. The latter serves as a temporary way station for children who are believed to be victims of physical or sexual abuse. During his next term in 2016, Cantrell is sponsoring
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Hispanic pastor leaves pulpit, grows reach A Baptist pastor in New York City, Reverend Luis Cortés had chosen to leave his pulpit by 1981 to teach at Eastern Baptist (now Palmer) Theological Seminary, but he has continued to cultivate his relationships with pastors. Cortés started meeting regularly with about 20 pastors working in North Philadelphia’s Hispanic community to discuss the problems they faced in hopes of securing field placements for students at his seminary. That ministers’ association would pave the way for the 1987 founding of Esperanza, an influential Rev. Luis Cortés nonprofit community development corporation that maintains ties with 13,000 churches. Esperanza now has 340 employees working at its $60 million Philadelphia campus. Esperanza’s National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference draws 700 faith and community leaders to Washington, D.C., annually. The organization also is one of only two Hispanic intermediaries with U.S. Housing and Urban Development. Esperanza carries out such tasks as financial counseling, youth mentoring and sponsoring sports leagues either directly or through its affiliates. It has awarded $13 million in grants to more than 500 Hispanic faith-based organizations. A key element in the organization’s success was the provision in its founding documents that he could not oversee Esperanza and pastor a church. “That was the wisest thing we did because it created a noncompetitive environment,” he says. “I wasn’t wrestling against them, and they could support me. If someone is doing this kind of work and wants to be successful with a group larger than your neighborhood, it is hard for other (pastors) to support you if you’re pastoring. This took all those pressures away.”—Ken Walker legislation to guarantee the confidentiality of children who testify against parents, relatives or others in such cases. The need was highlighted through the highly publicized case of the Duggar family of reality TV fame, where supposedly confidential information burst into national headlines. “The Friday after that story broke, I had a meeting already set up with the advocacy center,” Cantrell says. “I said, ‘This will help us with legislation. People will 52 MinistryToday September // October 2015
understand that it’s important to protect that information without fear it will surface 10 years later.’”
A New Call
Sometimes the call to leave the safety of the church comes in unexpected ways. Charles Gaulden was senior pastor of a 2,000-member megachurch in South Carolina when Rutland invited him to teach annually in Southeastern’s graduate program in leadership. »
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In 2002, Gaulden started making an annual trip south to lead a one-week class on campus. Five years later, he joined the faculty full time as a professor of Christian ministries and religion. “It was gradual, but it grew,” says the former pastor of Evangel Cathedral in Spartanburg. “I never had a lightning flash, but every few months I knew that this is what I should be doing. “When I got to Southeastern (at age 18), the Lord impressed on my heart that I would become a pastor and do that for many years, but one day I would teach at a Christian college. I had no idea it would be at Southeastern.” The professor has maintained a pulpit presence, twice serving as an interim pastor while at Southeastern. Yet, whether preaching in a church or not, Gaulden feels his influence has multiplied 10 times over through shepherding shepherds. In addition to classroom instruction, Gaulden has filmed a series of 10 video courses for the Christian Life School of Theology. The sessions have been translated into languages such as Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Spanish. “I think the biggest thing is to get to travel to churches and train leaders,” Gaulden says of the impact he makes outside a traditional pastoral role. “I’m able to say things to that church and its leaders that fit in with what the pastor is trying to do.” A heart for pastors still drives Thom Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay 54 MinistryToday September // October 2015
Christian Resources. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the multifaceted publishing house employs more than 5,100 people and releases thousands of books and curriculum resources annually. The former pastor of five churches and one-time dean of the missions school at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rainer led a church consulting business until he divested outside holdings when he assumed LifeWay’s leadership. However, he still communicates with pastors via blog posts (thomrainer.com), a podcast that started in 2013 and social media. These avenues touch about twothirds of the 350,000 Protestant church leaders across the U.S. “I have to be clear though,” Rainer says. “That’s not my individual influence as much as it is leading an organization of individuals who have that influence. “Still, I would say my leading contribution (since leaving the pulpit) has been providing truth about where churches are and the opportunities of where churches can go. I think I have been able to provide a dose of reality—and, hopefully, a double dose of hope for church leaders.”
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Any pastor dealing with financial struggles, a contentious congregation or another in the myriad of 21st-century challenges may be tempted to leave the pulpit behind in hopes of multiplying his influence elsewhere. » © iStockphoto/wildpixel
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Rainer cautions anyone considering such a step to devote considerable time to prayer and consulting trusted advisers. Through the years he has seen many leave the pulpit and, after the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, admit that they made an ill-advised move. “Don’t leave for a negative reason,” Rainer says. “There are church leaders who are leaving the pastorate and all the challenges that it has instead of sensing why they are going into something else. “Besides, I don’t think the pastorate has any less influence than something else. I am still not convinced that a local church pastor has any less influence than I do at LifeWay or than I did at Southern Seminary.” Maxwell says any pastor considering leaving the pulpit needs to first ask the question, “Why do I want to move?” Is it a desperate attempt to get away from something or taking advantage of a new opportunity? Emphasizing that it isn’t right to “bail out,” Maxwell says any pastor should
leave on a high note and only after examining his or her motives. “Do you want more influence because it feeds your ego?” Maxwell asks. “Does it raise your profile? Does it give you more money or perks? I think it’s important to look deep inside and make sure you’re doing the right things for the right reasons.” Rutland says a pastor who leaves the pulpit for another job isn’t leaving ministry anymore than a doctor who leaves private practice to become the head of surgery at a hospital is leaving the medical field. That said, he outlines two other primary questions: 1) What are the trade-offs? Rutland doesn’t believe seeking a broader platform or greater visibility is reason to make a move. However, if the pastor is seeking to multiply his impact, that can be positive. “At 65, I was at a place where I wanted to train leaders at the midpoint of their career,” Rutland says of leaving ORU
and establishing NICL. “My impact on them could cause an impact on others.” 2) Are you ready? Taking this kind of step is risky, meaning you should only make it after drawing up careful plans. Rutland points out that he didn’t leave Southeastern because he was unhappy. Indeed, with his family living in their “dream house” and having their five grandchildren within a 3-mile radius made him content to stay in place. Yet when ORU called, he sensed his time in Lakeland had ended. “I could have gone on doing it, and I don’t think God would have been mad at me,” Rutland says. “I could have stayed there until the day I retired. But I feel you come to a point where you say, ‘This is done. It’s time for me to move to the next thing.’” K e n W a l k e r is a freelance writer and book editor based in Huntington, West Virginia. He has written for many years about pastors and Christian businessmen.
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‘Emotionally Healthy’ LEADER
4 characteristics of ‘emotionally healthy’ planning and decision-making
BY PETER SCAZZERO
58 MinistryToday September // October 2015
or years I believed that if I could simply identify the right planning and decision-making process, we would then make good decisions at the church I pastor. That, it turned out, was both naïve and misguided. In a 20-year period, however, the dramatic difference between our standard process and emotionally healthy planning and decision-making became crystal clear. The first is the foundation from which the other three follow: 1) We define success as radically doing God’s will. From the time I became a Christian, I believed intellectually that listening for God’s will was vitally important. But it wasn’t until a four-month contemplative sabbatical in 2003-2004 that my approach to planning and decision-making was utterly transformed. As a result, my definition of success so broadened and deepened that my leadership and my approach to discerning God’s will experienced an extreme makeover. What happened? I slowed down my life so I could spend much more time being with God. Listening for and surrendering to God’s will became the focus of my life—both personally and in leadership. I realized that our congregation, New Life Fellowship Church, had one objective: to become what God had called us to become and to do what God had called us to do. That would be the sole marker of our success. It meant that all the previous markers—increased attendance, bigger and better programs—had to take a backseat to this one. I was no longer willing to “succeed” at the expense of hearing and listening to the will of God. Embracing God’s definition of success for New Life through the years was initially difficult for me to accept. It slowed me down, and I suddenly felt like I didn’t look as good as the leaders of other more successful ministries to which I compared myself. But as time went on and we leaned into God’s leadership and wisdom for our context, a new freedom and joy emerged. » Lightstock
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“In emotionally healthy planning and decision-making, we don’t simply open meetings with prayer and then leap headlong into our agenda.” 2) We create a space for heart preparation. In emotionally healthy planning and decision-making, we don’t simply open meetings with prayer and then leap headlong into our agenda. We begin by creating a space for heart preparation. We intentionally step back from the distractions and pressures that surround us so we can discern and follow God’s will. This preparation takes place on two levels—personal heart preparation and team heart preparation. Personal heart preparation: Before entering a meeting room, our first priority as leaders is to prepare our heart with God. How much time is needed? That depends on the level of the decision or plans being made and how much internal noise might be cluttering your inner life at the moment. The simple principle we follow at New Life is the weightier the decision, the more time is required for preparation. Team heart preparation: In order to make good decisions, we begin our meetings—whether it be a weekly team meeting or an full-day planning meeting—by creating the necessary space for the team to center their hearts before God. If I am leading the meeting, I’ll begin with two to three minutes of silence. The purpose of these opening moments is to create an environment free of striving or manipulating outcomes so we can seek God’s will together. When our staff team goes off site for 60 MinistryToday September // October 2015
one of our planning retreats in the year, we may devote up to half the retreat time to allow team members to meet God personally before we gather to make plans. We like to begin every important planning retreat with a “being” experience before tackling the “doing” component of these meetings. 3) We pray for prudence. Prudence is one of the most important character qualities or virtues for effective leaders. Without prudence, it is impossible to make good plans and decisions. The word “prudence” is used to characterize people who have the foresight to take everything into account. Prudent people think ahead, giving careful thought to the long-term implications of their decisions. Prudence has been called the “executive virtue,” meaning it enables us to think clearly for now and the future and not be swept up by our impulses or emotions. Perhaps most importantly, prudence refuses to rush—it is willing to wait on God for as long as it takes and to give the decision-making process the time it needs. The Bible often contrasts those who are prudent with the simple or foolish. They don’t want to do hard work of thinking things through and asking hard questions. So, call me simple and foolish because all of these things characterized my decisions in the early years of ministry. How many times did I appoint volunteers and staff too quickly without asking hard
questions? How often did I add a new ministry without thinking through the support it would need? Asking God for prudence was not even on my prayer list. Now asking God for prudence has become a constant refrain as I seek to do God’s will in leadership. There remains one final characteristic of emotionally healthy planning and decisionmaking that we must talk about—finding God in our limits. 4) We look for God in our limits. Our limits may well be the last place we look for God. We want to conquer limits, plan around limits, deny limits and break through limits. In standard leadership practice, we might even consider it a mark of courage to rebel against limits. But when we fail to look for God in our limits, we simply bypass God. New Life, like every church, is constrained by limits. Our small building, our under-resourced neighborhood and our humble people—are just a few. But if I look for God in these limitations instead of trying to get around them, I begin to see something different. Our very limitations might well be transformed to become our greatest means of introducing others to Jesus. Remember the words of the apostle Paul? God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, not our strengths (2 Cor. 12:7). Limits are often simply God’s gifts in disguise, which makes them one of the most counterintuitive, difficult truths in Scripture to embrace. It flies in the face of our natural tendency to want to play god and run the world. Take a few minutes to reflect on these four characteristics. If you are willing to take the risks and live with some temporary disorientation, I can promise you that God is waiting for you there. P e t e r S c a z z e r o is the author of The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World (Zondervan). Find out more at ehleader.com. Scazzero is founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York, a multiracial international church with more than 73 countries represented. After serving New Life as senior pastor for 26 years, he is now the teaching pastor/pastor-at-large. Follow him on Twitter (@petescazzero). Lightstock
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Why a first career in business is great preparation for starting a church BY NELSON SEARCY
growing number of pastors who have taken on the assignment of starting a church never expected to be church planters. However, with God’s leading, these second-career leaders embraced their calling into the specialized ministry of church planting. In the last several years, there has been a shift in the type of people who attend my training seminars on how to successfully launch a new church. While the crowd used to be made up of primarily 20-somethings in skinny jeans, lately there have been many more 40- and 50-something professionals in attendance, most who had already had a measure of success in the business world. Second-career church planting has become a positive trend, with good reason. Many careers—whether corporate, nonprofit or military—offer an invaluable training ground for potential church planters. Those who are considering stepping out of their current profession to start a church often find that the skills they’ve developed and honed throughout their careers are sure to help them excel. Still, these skills are not enough on their own. No matter what the new pastor’s experience has been or why it might make him a good church planter, he shouldn’t move ahead until he is sure of one thing—that God is the one calling him to this new endeavor. The majority of church starts fail within the first year because the majority of church planters start churches without a clear calling from God. In order to plant a successful church, the church planter must know that he knows that God is calling him to do it. Thriving churches have always been, and will always be, built on a base of personal calling, not personal choice. The church planter must know for certain that God has called him to step out of his current career and start a church. Moving forward without God’s leading is ill advised at the very least. When I counsel engaged couples, I often try to talk them out of getting married. Why? I want to make sure God is the one behind the September // October 2015 MinistryToday 63
“No matter what kind of leadership abilities a person brings from his previous career, starting a church will stretch the new pastor in ways he never imagined.” impending union. Otherwise, disaster will follow. While calling off an engagement is painful, it’s much easier than calling off a marriage. Stopping before the mistake is made will prevent a lot of future heartache. So it is with the calling to start a church. If I can talk the church planter out of starting a church, it will hurt a little now, but it’s going to save him, his family and the people around him a lot of hurt in the future. And if he is truly called by God to start a church, I won’t be able to talk him out of it. Each church planter must consider the question: Do you know for certain that God has called you to start a new church? Understanding some sources of improper calling may be helpful as the church planter reflects on his answer. There are, of course, dozens of sources of improper calling, but these are the ones that I see pop up most frequently: hh Unemployment hh Anger or resentment toward another pastor hh Feeling unhappy with one’s current career track 64 MinistryToday September // October 2015
hh Having a parent or grandparent who started a church hh Ego hh Subscribing to the “in” thing to do In addition to these improper sources of “calling,” the church planter must keep in mind that the call to ministry is not necessarily the call to start a church. He may be called to serve in an existing church or to work in a ministryrelated organization. He may be called to preach. In fact, he may have discovered that he has the potential to be the greatest preacher since Billy Graham, but still not be called to start a new church. The call to church planting is incredibly specific. Church planters must be careful not to confuse it with the other opportunities God may be bringing his way. If the potential church planter thinks he may have allowed misguided emotion or a confused line of reasoning to lead him to the idea of starting a new church, he would be wise to turn back now, spend some time with God and seek the advice of a mentor who knows him and
can help him gain some perspective. He must not act on a hunch or think that because he feels “pretty sure,” he should be planting a church. He has to be completely sure. The Lord clearly admonishes those who forge ahead without a calling: “See, I am against those who prophesy false dreams, says the Lord, and recount them and cause My people to err by their lies and reckless boasting. Yet I sent them not nor commanded them. Therefore they shall not profit this people at all, says the Lord” (Jer. 23:32). The first year of a new church is not easy. While there undoubtedly will be times of uncertainty, knowing for sure that the church planter is called to the task at hand is what will keep him moving forward. Often, that assurance is the only thing he has to stand on, so clarifying the church-planting calling is essential. Here are some of the ways the potential church planter can recognize a proper calling: hh Prayer and Bible study. God calls, and confirms His call, through prayer and Bible study. People who are called often feel God confirming His calling every time they pray or read the Bible. hh Surprise. A surprise calling happens more often than the ministryminded believer may think. Ministry may have never factored into our own plans for our lives, when (Surprise!) God intercepts them and puts the believer on a new path. This surprise calling leads to a 180-degree turn in career and life focus. hh Holy discontent. While resentment toward an existing church or pastor can be a source of improper calling, a proper calling will often carry with it a sense of holy discontent. The person with holy discontent is not focused on problems within a specific ministry but rather has a heart to improve the overall level of ministry in a particular community. It can also show up as the nagging realization that he has been ignoring God’s plan and that he won’t find fulfillment until he surrenders to His will to start a church. hh Burden for the unchurched. A proper call is always accompanied by the desire to reach the unchurched. If the © iStockphoto/skynesher
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“People who are called often feel God confirming His calling every time they pray or read the Bible.” goal of the potential church planter is to change the Christians he knows, he is most assuredly not called to start a new church. However, if he has a passion to reach people who don’t know God, he may be hearing a true call. hh Godly counsel. A proper call will be accompanied by confirmation from those around the believer aspiring to become a church planter. He must seek out other ministry leaders, tell them what God is doing in his life and prayerfully assess their response. Church planters must make the effort to discern their call, so let’s break down the four calls of a church planter.
Four Calls of the Church Planter
1) The Call to Start a Church: If the church planter has been called to step out of his career and start a church, he can be assured of two things. First, the calling will be undeniable. Second, God will equip him to do the new work. When He chooses, He also empowers. The new church planter may struggle with
66 MinistryToday September // October 2015
feelings of inadequacy, which, while normal, have no place in the heart of a man or woman called to God’s purposes. The church planter must not allow fear to derail all that God wants to do in this new chapter of life. The church planter can have full confidence that He will provide everything needed to succeed. 2) The Call to Understand Your Spouse’s Call: If the new church planter is married, God will not call him without confirming the call in his spouse. He must be intentional about sharing what God is doing in his heart with the partner the Lord has given him. It’s important for the church planter to listen earnestly to what God is doing in his spouse’s heart. Starting a church can be difficult on a marriage. Open, honest communication throughout the process is crucial. Church planters must keep these points in mind: hh The timing of the church planter’s call may not match the timing of his spouse’s call. If the church planter’s
call comes first, he must not push, but rather be patient and allow God to speak to his spouse in His own timing. Just as God called these two special people together in marriage, He will call them together to start a church. If one forges ahead without the other, not only is he acting outside of God’s will for their marriage, but he is also putting their future church in jeopardy. On the other hand, if the spouse’s call comes before the church planter receives the call, the church planter must realize that God may be using his spouse to gently (or not so gently) move him forward into God’s plan. hh The intensity of the church planter’s call may not match the intensity of his spouse’s call. While sometimes both spouses receive an intense call to start a church together, it’s not uncommon for one to be led to take on a more supportive role. The church planter should not assume that his spouse is not in sync with him because their levels of passion are not equal. The Lightstock
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goal is to confirm mutual calling, not mutual intensity. hh The church planter must make sure his spouse is fully involved and committed. If not, it’s time to slow down and not make any decisions without listening to the spouse’s point of view. Before acting on the new thing to which God is calling, the church planter must check, recheck and ask his spouse’s friend to check that the spouse is also on board. The call to marriage always takes precedence over the church planter’s call to start a church. 3) Your Call to a Place. If the new church planter already knows where he is called to start a church, he must think about how God has formed him for that place. What life experiences has he had that will help him relate to the community? How has God already been working in him to get him ready for this assignment? If he is not yet sure where he should start a new church, these questions may help him clarify this part of his calling: hh Has God called you to leave your current home? The church planter may already be in the place to which he is called. 68 MinistryToday September // October 2015
hh Are you passionate about a particular area of the country/world? If God has put a passion in the church planter for a specific place, he must carefully examine the possibility that He could be calling him there, but he must be careful not to confuse passion with personal preference. If he isn’t yet sure where God wants him to start a new church, it’s time to hit the pause button and figure it out. He must do some research, talk with other church leaders, pray with his spouse and study examples from Scripture. When he lands on the place to which he is called, God will confirm it in his heart. 4) Your Call to a People. The church planter will likely be called to reach those who are most like him. Everything from his age to his race to his previous life and career experience will help determine whom God is calling the church planter to influence. By being called to church planting as a second career, the church planter is already positioned by God to connect with people in a unique way. If he has lived his faith during his first career, he has a track record to challenge others like him to do the same. If he and his spouse have already raised a Christian family,
they can attract and speak into the lives of younger families. As a rule, the church planter will be best able to reach people who are about 10 years younger to those who are just a few years older. The church planter will relate best to others who come from a similar cultural background. While some rare church planters are called to minister to people very different from them, God will likely place the church planter in the midst of a people group who can relate to him on many conscious and subconscious levels. When I was called to start The Journey Church in New York City, I wrestled with the fact that the city is so ethnically and economically diverse. As I prayed about the specific people to whom God was calling me, He gave me something of a revelation. While there was no shortage of New York churches focused on the poor and the disadvantaged, there were virtually no churches equipped to reach the city’s young professionals. Not only did God place a burning passion in my heart for the young professionals of Manhattan, He also showed me that they were the people He had designed me to be able to relate to most effectively. God gave me a desire to reach the very people I was most equipped to reach, based on the gifts and experiences with which He had blessed me. As the new church planter seeks clarity about whom he is called to minister to, God will give him the same kind of desire. God will cause his heart to break for the people He wants the church planter to impact.
Characteristics of a Call
As a final step of clarification, the church planter must evaluate his calling in light of the biblical characteristics of a godly calling. He can do so by asking himself these questions: hh Is your calling clear? As Paul taught, God is not the author of confusion but of peace (1 Cor. 14:33). hh Has your calling been confirmed by others? When the church planter is called to start a church, he will see confirmation from those around him. hh Are you humbled by the call? Humility is the proper response to a true calling. If the call is not bigger © iStockphoto/laflor
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than the person, it may be from the church planter himself and not from God. hh Have you acted on your call? When God truly calls a church planter, he will be incapable of ignoring His voice. “And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Matt. 4:19-20). Now, the church planter must ask himself again: Do I know for certain that God has called me to start a church? This must be nailed down. When was he called? What were the circumstances surrounding the call? How did it match up with the sources of proper calling? Does he recognize the four specific calls in his calling? How? How does his call measure up to the biblical characteristics of a call? What is the emerging vision God is giving him with this call? As the potential church planter thinks about his answers to these questions, I would encourage him to start keeping a church-planting journal and write in ink. Once the church planter starts moving forward, he’ll want to look back on his confirmed calling again and again.
Answering the Call
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The call to ministry is the call to prepare. Here are some ways the church planter can begin preparing for his new path: Prepare to lead: No matter what kind of leadership abilities a person brings from his previous career, starting a church will stretch the new pastor in ways he never imagined. If the church planter already has leadership experience, it will prove invaluable. As a second-career church planter, he has the benefit of using his previous experience to his advantage in many ways. Not only will this experience help him attract funding for his new church, it will also lend an element of credibility to the overall endeavor. If the church planter’s previous career didn’t leave him with much leadership experience, this is his opportunity to train himself as a leader. God will graciously supply church planter needs with what he needs as he does his part to learn and grow. He must study everything he can get his hands on in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, staff management, delegation, marketing and accounting. His continual prayer should be, “God, make me the 70 MinistryToday September // October 2015
leader I need to be to lead this church into the future.” Prepare to teach: The ability to teach well and the ability to start a successful church go hand in hand. Even if the church planter is naturally gifted in the area of teaching or has teaching experience, he must continue to strengthen this skill. He must get himself ready to teach in a way that will directly benefit the people he is called to reach. This may mean a departure from the teaching style he has used in the past or has become accustomed to in other churches. As a church starter, he will be teaching constantly. Beyond teaching in worship services, he will teach his vision for the church to its early core group. He will teach his plan to potential funding partners. He will teach his strategy to the community. He will teach his systems to laity. He will teach himself what it means to lead a growing church. The day may even come when he will be called on to teach other second-career church planters how to do what he has done. The church planter must take care to hone his teaching skills. Strong teachers build strong churches. Prepare to depend on God: Just as the church planter’s leadership and teaching ability will be stretched, so will his faith. Starting a church from scratch is definitely a faith venture. At every turn, God teaches the church planter new things and takes him into deeper dependence on Him. As his dependence on God grows, so will his church. Responding to God’s voice often means the church planter will be led to step beyond his comfort zone into the great unknown. The call to leave the profession he has spent years mastering to start a church is the call to an all-out, faith-intensive adventure. Once again, the church planter must ask himself: Are you certain God has called you to start a new church? If he can answer, “Absolutely yes!” then let the adventure begin! N e l s o n S e a r c y is founding pastor of The Journey Church in New York City. He has helped thousands of first- and second-career church planters launch healthy churches. Along with 12 other books, he is the author of Launch: Starting a New Church from Scratch (Baker Books). He is also founder of churchleaderinsights.com, where church planters can find free helpful resources.
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Casting Delivering Church in Unique Settings BY JOHN VELSOR
lthough believers of yesteryear often worshipped together in homes,
today’s churches meet in a variety of unusual spaces. While the YMCA, movie theater or the mall may not have been designed with churches in mind, pastors and their congregations have found them to be suitable, albeit nontraditional, venues for worship, fellowship, evangelism and discipleship. When my wife and I began searching for venues to launch our church, a movie theater was not the first place that came to mind. We began by looking at some of the more “traditional” locations, such as schools, community centers and warehouses, yet for some reason, God kept drawing us back to the our local AMC theater. What some may have considered an unusual choice of venue seemed to us like the perfect opportunity. In our minds, the theater was fun and innovative, allowing us to connect with our target audiences, those who did not know God or were not already connected to any local faith community. As we began to plan and dream about North Star Community Church, we started to imagine the creative ways we could use our theater venue to reach people in our area. As pastors, we were a “young-ish” couple who had not begun serving God until our early 20s. We both had life-changing encounters with Jesus, and we wanted to introduce Him to people who were just like we were. The movie theater seemed like it was an easy, neutral ground between us and the unchurched for many reasons. First, it was a place that most people in our community were already familiar with, so the baggage that came with a “religious” environment would already be removed. Second, the concept of church in a theater was also fun and a little out of the box, just like our church would be. Lastly, this venue helped to communicate the desire we had to be actively involved in our city. Our unique setting showed that North Star was not what our community would expect out of a church, and our hope was that those who walked in with preconceived notions about “religion” would let down their guard with us, if at least for the sake of curiosity.
72 MinistryToday September // October 2015
Starting Conversations Naturally
“Our hope was that those who walked in with preconceived notions about ‘religion’ would let down their guard with us.”
When looking for a location for our church, we intentionally considered what we call the “intrigue” factor, which we hoped would open doors for conversation. We’re often asked, “What is a church doing in a movie theater?” or “How does church work in a theater?” Our personal favorite is: “Does the church own the movie theater?” Some of these questions have given us an easy “in” for getting to know more about the person we are engaging, including his church background, if any, which leads to a natural opportunity to extend an invitation to North Star. This conversation starter has helped us to connect many times with strangers in a coffee shop, friends in a moms’ group or players on a baseball diamond. We even had a press release covering our church’s grand opening hit the Associated Press, which led to our church being featured on local news stations simply because we were meeting in such a unique place. Our location choice served us more than we originally imagined it could! As new church planters, we encountered many things that we didn’t expect while meeting in a theater environment—some of which were harder than we’d imagined—but many that have been amazing and divinely inspired. When we launched North Star in February 2011, we soon found that we would have many God-ordained conversations because the theater played movies at the same time as our church service. Because of that timing, week after week we encountered people that you would not meet in a traditional church environment. From families who were searching for a church but couldn’t find one to people who walked into our theater looking for a movie and ended up finding Christ, we are in awe of how God has used this nontraditional venue to engage people from all walks of life and in all stages of faith. Along with the theater providing a great way to connect with new people Sunday mornings, we also found that our unusual setting gave us creative ways to market ourselves as a church. From purchasing the website URL that capitalizes on our location, thechurchthatsmellslikepopcorn.com, to getting customized microwave popcorn bags with our logo and service times, our venue gives us many fun ways to uniquely market and show off our fresh attitude towards church.
Adding Value Intentionally
Being a church in a movie theater also has helped us in our approach to outreach, which is to find ways to “add value” to people’s everyday lives. One of the ways we’ve tied our venue to our outreach has been to host activities like our free “Rio 2 Family Movie Event.” During this event, we opened up the entire theater for anyone to enjoy a free movie—on us. Not only did this give us favor in our city but also with our theater manager, who fully appreciated the additional revenue and numbers received that weekend. » Lightstock
September // October 2015 MinistryToday 73
As a community outreach, North Star distributed “Free Movie Night In” gift bags, which included movie-related items and an invitation to the church’s “At the Movies” series.
We’ve also leveraged the theater theme in outreach by distributing “Free Movie Night In” gift bags to people in our city. These packages included a free Redbox code, microwave popcorn bags (with our logos and information), candy and an invitation to our “At the Movies” series. Lastly, as an Easter Sunday outreach, we’ve enjoyed hosting our HIStory Easter 3D movie twice in the last few years. Showing the movie during multiple Easter services helped us reach a large number of people for Christ. Pastor Kevin Gerald at Champions Centre in Washington State created the 3-D movie that explains the life and story of Jesus. Not only did their resources help our church build the kingdom, but also because we were new church planters, they worked within our church-planting budget so we could afford to show the movie. We sure had fun watching people come for an Easter service and picking up their 3-D glasses on their way to church! North Star has also applied the theme of “adding value” to our relationship with the theater in which we meet, working to find ways to bring value to the venue. We have respected the theater’s role as a business by continually stating that “we understand they are a movie theater first, 74 MinistryToday September // October 2015
and not a church.” We have reminded our team and congregation of this fact. Because we have been intentional in adding value and respecting our theater’s primary function, we have been given many advantages. For example, the theater has blessed us with access to a large storage room big enough to house all of our portable equipment as well as the use of extra storage space under the theater curtains. The theater was also very generous in allowing our church to permanently fix our lighting fixtures to the ceiling. Benefits like these have saved our congregation many of the headaches of portability such as keeping expensive technology from being destroyed with all of the hauling back and forth for set up, dealing with frozen or hot coffee creamer due to extreme temperatures and having a much easier time with set up and tear down than many portable churches experience. For those who understand what a “Minne-snow-ta” winter is all about, the snow removal that the theater, and not our church, is in charge of throughout the winter months is a great bonus for us!
Overcoming Obstacles Creatively
Although we could list pages of benefits to our particular meeting place, there
have been, of course, some challenges too. For example, we will never forget when Lady Gaga’s voice interrupted our service by singing “Poker Face” through the loudspeakers. Thankfully, we were able to weave in some humor and share with the people that Lady Gaga herself was helping with the altar call! We all laughed and secretly hoped this would not be a recurring issue. We faced another challenge with our kids’ ministry: Although the children love the fact that they can find a Skittle or two during kid’s church, our parents and volunteers have not always been as fond of that bonus treat. Along with the popcorn and candy “bonuses,” we also have limitations in terms of space for the kids, who require plenty of room for the movement and the fun factors we add to our “Navigation Station” children’s ministry. Giving our kids the room they need to play in a theater setting has been an issue we’ve had to work through creatively. We recently relaunched our K-5 kids ministry and, thankfully, for the first time in our history, we felt like we utilized the theater environment to its fullest—creating the kids’ ministry we’d originally dreamed of at the inception of North Star. »
Pastor John Velsor uses North Star’s theater setting for church services, including baptisms such as this one with young Amelia Celadita.
Since Pastor Velsor and his family started North Star Community Church with 40 people, the church has grown to 300 in attendance.
Along with the challenges to the children’s ministry, there have been obstacles that come with church growth. Theaters have a number of shows they are required to play every day, so we have been limited in our service time frames. We have worked to approach with creativity the time constraints while adding services, but we have not yet experienced the results we desire. Considering that a large percentage of our congregation has young children, the fact that the next service starts shortly after the first means if a family is running a little late to church, it’s not a big problem because they can easily shift into the second service, but encouraging people to attend an earlier service has been difficult. 76 MinistryToday September // October 2015
Time limitations make the transition with check in and check out of kids challenging between the two services. All the coming and going with youngsters in a smaller space can be confusing and frustrating when parents want to get into the service quickly or out to lunch in a hurry. Lastly, for our staff and volunteers, greeting people has been unique with the short time frames. In the confusion, we have said “goodbye” to many people coming in and “hello” to many people on their way out of church. Clearly there are practical issues churches encounter while “doing church” in a movie theater, but sometimes we just have to find creative ways to overcome
obstacles. We thank God for His ability to give us innovative ways to work within these unique situations. The creativity He has given us never ceases to amaze our congregation. The last issue we faced with our theater location was also a bonus, which was the fact that movies played during church when we first started meeting at an AMC. This was amazing for evangelism and connecting to our community. Our complimentary donuts and fresh, hot coffee bar were something we offered to patrons as they are on their way to an early movie showing. Having strangers at our doorstep, however, was unsettling at times for parents with young children, and it motivated us to be innovative with security. When we shifted to the theater we meet in now, we eliminated a lot of the struggles we’d faced in AMC with security, as our current cinema does not start showing movies until noon, and by that time, our service has concluded. Although we’ve met some unexpected challenges, we would not change the fact that North Star began in a movie theater. We love that we can be different, having fun with our church and leveraging our venue for marketing and outreach. We appreciate the stories of life change that have happened simply because someone wandered in to go to a movie and instead wound up having an appointment with God. We laugh as we recall that our congregation has eaten popcorn during church in our “At the Movies” series and worn 3-D glasses on Easter. We smile knowing that our kids have learned that God can use anything, anywhere and anyone for His purposes, and that “church” can happen outside four walls. Our location has been fitting because of who we are as pastors and for our fun, creatively minded people. All in all, North Star’s theater location has helped us tear down walls and preconceived ideas about the church, allowing us to bring lightness as we talk about our faith and being the church right where we are—even if it means our shoes are stuck to the ground with popcorn butter and Slurpee juice. J o h n V e l s o r is founder and lead pastor of North Star Community Church in Minneapolis. He is also a speaker and facilitator for the Church Multiplication Network.
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How to Deal With Online Trolls
Before picking fights with online troublemakers, consider an alternative approach
onsulting with hundreds of churches through the years, sadly I have found that there’s one common enemy some of the most effective churches in America share— online trolls. In these cases, at least one disgruntled ex-church member has decided to launch a Facebook page, Twitter feed and in some cases a blog with the express purpose of criticizing the church. There are many reasons: Some are offended by the pastor, others don’t like the church’s teaching, a few feel they were taken advantage of, and still others are convinced they’ve uncovered secret wrongdoing within the church leadership. There’s no question that some pastors and churches do dumb things, a handful do the wrong things, and a few do illegal things. But the question is—whether it’s true or not, is a social media platform or blog the place to air dirty laundry? B.F. (Before Facebook), gossip was a similar option, but thankfully, most just left the particular church. In my case, through the years, there have been plenty of churches and pastors I disagreed with, but I didn’t gossip or launch a Twitter campaign to complain. I made a decision to either pursue it with church leadership or just move on. But maybe “moving on” is the problem for these critics. They just can’t let go of the hurt or being offended. From being on the inside of many of these situations and having read the critical posts, I can say the vast majority aren’t acting out of a biblical perspective, they’re simply acting out. Because they feel they were wronged, they’re lashing out at the church or the pastor. But in the same way I advise against online campaigns against Hollywood, the gay community or anyone else, I would say the same thing to people who launch online campaigns against churches: They make little to no impact and do nothing for the cause of Christ. Besides, think for a minute: Someone who feels wronged by a local church or pastor and invests the incredible amount of time it takes to create a blog and fill it with criticism, or does the same with a social media platform—and keeps it going for months or years—probably has much bigger problems in their life.
So if you’re a pastor or leader in a church who’s undergoing this kind of online criticism, here are my suggestions: 1) Before you react, consider the source. There’s a difference between the occasional online critic and a troll. Most pastors know these people because in many cases, they’re ex-church members. So you may see a post—or even criticism— from a church member who has an innocent question that you can easily answer, which solves the problem. So know the difference. 2) If it’s a troll, ignore it. I tracked one online troll who had positioned himself as a theology cop and had been ripping into a local pastor for months. He only had five Twitter followers (probably his family), so he had little to no impact. 3) Don’t help him by responding. When you respond on a social media platform, you’re sharing the troll with all your followers, so don’t help promote him by responding. 4) If it gets highly offensive, ask your attorney for advice. There are cases where online criticism can evolve into defamation, and there are legal remedies. A good attorney will help know if and when to pull that trigger. 5) Finally, stop reading it. I know some pastors who dwell so much on the criticism that it derails their concentration. Eventually they become depressed and lose focus. Stop obsessing over the 3 percent who are critics, and start feeding the 97 percent who aren’t. Particularly with social media platforms, trolls are easy to block. We live in a culture of victimization. Some people have essentially discovered their identity in being a victim, so they’re willing to invest a great deal in expressing their victimhood. So stop reading the criticism, and start leading the congregation. The dog may bark, but the train keeps rolling. Doctrine, theology and moral living are important, but there are legitimate ways of correction within a church. Becoming an online troll isn’t one.
“Stop reading the criticism, and start leading the congregation.”
78 MinistryToday September // October 2015
P h i l C o o k e is an internationally known writer and speaker with a Ph.D. in theology. Through his company, Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California, he has helped some of the largest nonprofit organizations and world leaders use the media to tell their story. This column originally appeared at philcooke.com. © iStockphoto/alphaspirit
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MINISTRY LEADERSHIP: A D M I N I S T R AT I O N BY RICK WARREN
How to Develop a Great Ministry Team
3 reasons why working with an effective team can improve your ministry
s a seminary student, I first began to understand the importance of teams. I did a study of the 100 largest churches in the United States, and asked them a series of questions related to staff and ministry. This may come as no surprise, but the study showed strong churches have a strong team spirit. They do this by combining two things: a common goal with good communication. You can have people working on the same project but not communicating with each other, and they are not a team. You can have people who communicate well, but are not working toward the same goal, and that is not a team, even if you call them that. Let me give you some foundation on why I think this is important: First, the body of Christ functions as a team ministry. Romans 12:4-5 says that, just as there are many parts to our bodies, likewise there are many parts to Christ’s body. Essentially, God designed it so that we all need each other to have a fully functioning ministry and every one of your staff members (or lay ministry leaders) plays an important role. The very fact that the church is a body and not a business means that teamwork is more important to those of us in ministry than it is to people in a normal business relationship. Nobody has cornered the market on all the gifts it takes to make a church successful. If you only surround yourself with people who mirror your strengths, then the church is going to have problems. For instance, I am a visionary, and I can see the big picture, but in order to make the vision a reality, I need other people around me who can hammer the vision into a reality. The problem that I see with a lot of pastors, and I’m being frank here, is that too many of us are afraid to admit there are some things we cannot do. In a sense, the first real step toward teamwork is for you to admit you need a team. The success of Saddleback is not about Rick Warren. The success of Saddleback is really about the many people who worked together toward a common goal. No doubt I provided the vision, but it’s guys like Glen Kreun, who came on staff two years after I founded the church, who turned the vision into a reality.
That’s why I intentionally choose staff people with strengths that compensate for my weaknesses. Second, teams accomplish more than individuals working separately. When there are more hands working, more can be accomplished. One example of this is found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, where we’re told that two are better than one, and a rope of three cords is hard to break. Another example of teams accomplishing more than individuals is in Nehemiah, where people worked by groups or families. In the New Testament, Jesus sent people out two by two to minister (Mark 6:7). Paul, in Acts 24, specifically mentions seven people who are part of his ministry team. This mutual encouragement is vital to your ministry because you’re not just working on well-meaning projects; you are in a spiritual battle, carrying the most important message the lost world will ever hear! The devil wants to defeat you, and one of his favorite tools is discouragement. That’s why you need a team working with you. Third, a strong team is not threatened by disagreement. Remember, there are two essentials to teamwork: a common goal and good communication. In order to have good communication, people have to be willing to express their opinions no matter how different they are from everyone else’s. Peter Drucker says that if only one side is being presented in a discussion, then thinking is not taking place. So, if the people on your team are not coming up with more than one opinion, then chances are, not a lot of thinking is taking place. Or maybe they are thinking, but they’re afraid to express their opinions. You need to create a team environment where people are not afraid to say something stupid, where they are not afraid to make a mistake. And you need to make sure you are not threatened by disagreement.
“The first real step toward teamwork is for you to admit you need a team.”
80 MinistryToday September // October 2015
R i c k W a rr e n is founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. He is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life and The Purpose Driven Church, named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. © iStockphoto/kupicoo
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MINISTRY LEADERSHIP: P R E A C H I N G BY CHUCK LAWLESS
15 Ways to Improve Your Pulpit Ministry
How to become a more effective preacher and teacher—even if you don’t like critiques
s a professor, I don’t like course evaluations, and as a preacher, I don’t enjoy sermon critiques. So, I’m leery of telling others how to improve their preaching or teaching. Nevertheless, here are 15 ways to improve your communicating the gospel: 1) Assume you need to improve. If you genuinely believe you have no room for improvement, ask others until you find someone who’s honest enough to help you. 2) Consider the last time you intentionally improved your approach. If your last intentional improvement occurred years ago, or if you can’t remember when it was, you may have become stagnant as a communicator. 3) Read the Bible and pray every day. This suggestion is basic, but it matters. Preachers and teachers who read the Scriptures only to prepare a lesson have reduced the Bible to a textbook for others. Those who communicate without praying regularly are operating in their own power. 4) Forsake sin in your life. Sin drains our passion for God and robs us of our power for communicating the gospel. Open the Scriptures with a clean heart, though, and it’s pure joy. 5) Spend more time with your congregation. Your job is to teach the Word, but it’s more than that; it’s to teach people the Word. In fact, it’s a particular people: your class or your congregation. Know them so well that you can help them apply the Word to their lives. 6) Enlist a prayer team. Don’t assume others are praying regularly for you as you preach or teach. Enlist prayer warriors who will intercede specifically for your holiness, your preparation and your teaching. Know you will be proclaiming the Word under the power of God. 7) Study preaching and teaching. Search for online preaching or teaching classes. Read books about preaching and teaching. Even veteran preachers and teachers can usually learn from reviewing these materials. 8) Listen to other preachers. If you think you preach or teach too long, listen to someone who is more concise. Learn the value of stories and illustrations by considering what you remember from a sermon. Take note of good introductions and conclusions. Absorb from others without trying to become somebody else.
9) Invite others to help you prepare. Enlist others to walk with you as you put together your sermon or lesson. Invite them to critique your exegesis and your proposed outline. Preach the sermon to them first. If time won’t allow you to take this approach each week, try it at least once a month. 10) Simply and clearly answer the “What?” “So what?” and “Now what?” questions. What does the biblical text say? Why does that truth matter? As a listener, what am I to do with this teaching? If you as the preacher or teacher can’t answer these questions, neither will your hearers. 11) Practice. Read your manuscript or outline again and again. Teach it in your head—or to the wall or your infant or your dog or to the air— multiple times. Know the material so well that you can connect easily with your audience when teaching it. 12) Do immediate reflection. As soon as possible after teaching or preaching, jot down some notes. What worked well? What needs to be changed? Make notes while your teaching is hot in your mind. 13) Listen to and watch your own sermons or lessons. For the sake of communicating the gospel better, become the audience for your own teaching or preaching. And if you discover no room for improvement, go back to suggestion No. 1 and invite others to listen to your message with you. 14) Invite unchurched folks to listen to your sermons or lessons. Ask an unchurched friend or unbeliever to critique your teaching. Find out if he or she understands your points. Determine how often you use Christian jargon. See if your friend sees your teaching as applicable. Give it a try—your friend might even turn to Jesus! 15) Take care of yourself physically. Eat properly. Sleep well. Take your days off. Go on your vacation. An exhausted, out-of-shape preacher or teacher is not a good witness for the transforming power of the gospel.
“Absorb from others without trying to become somebody else.”
82 MinistryToday September // October 2015
C h u c k L a w l e s s serves as professor of evangelism and missions and dean of graduate studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Connect with him on Twitter (@clawlessjr) and Facebook (CLawless). This article first appeared on thomrainer.com. © iStockphoto/Splitcast
MINISTRY LEADERSHIP: V I S I O N BY CLARENCE E. STOWERS JR.
The Real Reason Why Change Rarely Works
Remember these 3 key lessons when casting a new vision for your congregation
s a leader, it’s quite easy to get caught up with a vision. Leaders are encouraged to look out for opportunities and then take the lead in making things happen. But sometimes we find ourselves alone out front and wonder what happened to the people we’re leading. Why aren’t they with us? Take a scenario of a group of people going fishing on a lake. Typical leaders get the vision, jump in the boat and are off to fish straight away. But the rest of the group may take a different approach. As the leaders look back, they find that half the people are still on the river bank. Some are still prepping their fishing gear, while others are just starting to launch their boats. Still others are on the water but are heading in the opposite direction. Some are going in circles, and others haven’t even decided if they feel like fishing after all. That’s when a leader needs to realize that only leading from the front doesn’t always help. In Winning With People, John Maxwell admits that patience is not one of his strengths. “When I was younger,” he writes. “I constantly cast vision for the people in my organization and then left them behind—not a good thing for a leader.” At our church, Mars Hill Baptist in Chicago, when we as leaders cast a vision for a building campaign, we left some people behind. In the process, we simply dropped the ball at times and learned three humbling lessons: 1) Buildings are significant and hold many memories. Mars Hill has been part of the community for 37 years. Families have celebrated many memorable weddings. Parents have introduced their children to the church and sat Sunday after Sunday in the pews together. Others have said goodbye to loved ones, and those last few words in that place were significant. People have heard from God through listening to a particular sermon or whispering a quiet prayer. And all of that happened in a place that now looks completely different. Walking through the front door no longer triggers those memories. Memories hold significance and give people a sense of belonging. So when everything looks so different, it’s easy to understand how the memories maybe won’t seem quite as real,
and people feel left out. We didn’t take the time to understand the significance of these memories and that for some, the transition would be a little more difficult. 2) Change happens quickly; transition follows slowly. We also assumed that most people would be able to accept the changes as easily as we did. We were only looking ahead of us; we weren’t looking around. What we didn’t realize is that while change happens instantly, transition follows more slowly. For most people, change is difficult and for others, it’s plain scary. As leaders, we should have invested more in individual relationships to help people understand and accept the transition. If the church leaders had stayed on shore instead of going ahead in their boat, they could have helped and encouraged those who were uncertain about going fishing. Sometimes there is more serving involved in leadership than leading. 3) Casting vision requires careful communication. In Genesis, God gave Joseph visions and dreams of being a great leader. Young Joseph related his dreams to his brothers directly, and as a result, they sold him as a slave. We know that the visions came true, yet at that moment, the brothers couldn’t understand how that might ever come to pass. At Mars Hill, we had our vision fixed firmly on the future and overlooked how some people would feel about the changes. The leaders could have taken more time to share and communicate more details of the vision and how it would affect individuals. This may have helped people accept the changes more quickly. Leaders must be committed to building relationships with people. At Mars Hill, where people feel that they have been excluded or left behind, we want to rebuild those bridges and include them in our community once again. There is much for church leaders and members to learn in any transition.
“Sometimes there is more serving involved in leadership than leading.”
84 MinistryToday September // October 2015
D r . C l a r e n c e E . S t o w e r s J r . is senior pastor of Mars Hill Baptist Church in Chicago. He has more than 20 years of leadership experience, mostly as an executive director of a Christian school. This article originally appeared at cestowers.com. Shutterstock/iQoncept
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P L A T F O R M
BY DR. STEVE GREENE
Enlarge Your Platform With Your Message Create value on your platform by delivering a message rather than a sermon
any of us work for decades to develop a significant platform. We speak. We write. We get cute on Facebook or Twitter. We email good content to a well-developed list. We might even do a few podcasts. Hopefully, our platform grows with time. But perhaps along the way, our message becomes jumbled. What was once clear and powerful in simplicity ages with external stimuli that maybe pulls us off message. People along the way make suggestions about what our message “should be.” Sometimes we listen. Outside words get inside. Our message often becomes cloudy as our experiences and reading begin to challenge us. Perhaps we wobble a bit because our own faith has been challenged in some way. We cannot fake a message for very long before our face reveals doubt during delivery. I’ve listened to messages delivered by powerful speakers that left me wondering if the speaker even believed what he was saying. A message without correlating passion is just words. There is a difference between a message and a sermon, speech or soliloquy. The message is our reason for speaking. A message comes from a core belief. To share our message we use our platform. On platform, we deliver our message with structure, including topics, stories, illustrations, visual aids and any other form of nonverbal tool we can create. Our challenge is to protect the message from everything we might do to deliver it. As technology invades our platforms, we must observe the impact of our new tools upon our message. Bells and whistles are not a message. When I read Charles Spurgeon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones or G. Campbell Morgan, I come away with a clear understanding of their powerful messages. I may recall a story or two, but their messages delivered the impact. Spurgeon needed little more than his booming voice and a stump to deliver a timeless message. Thanks to Joy Strang, I was introduced to Practicing His Presence by Brother Lawrence and Frank Laubach. The reason this book has never been out of print in over
300 years is the message of His presence. The book has no fluff or wasted words, yet it delivers a message that is clear and evergreen. A life or career message endures through seasons. We aren’t easily blown about by someone else’s message of the hour. We know our calling and know the message of our ministry. We know the difference between our message and next Sunday’s sermon. The message is present in every use of the platform. If someone asked you today to describe your message, what would you say? It wouldn’t be last week’s sermon and perhaps not a book you’ve written. Your message is you and what the Holy Spirits anoints you to deliver. “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly” is a message worth delivering. Abundant living is a gift. Every platform moment can be directed to this message. If we are teaching about the kingdom of God, we would teach Romans 14:17: “For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The sermon may be about understanding the kingdom, but the message is about living in abundance through kingdom living. A newsletter about A Family Day next Saturday on church grounds would include a message about abundant living through family fellowships. A podcast about Mike Rakes’ new book, Slings and Stones, encourages a better thought life for abundant living. A Facebook posting of a beautiful sunset would count the blessing of the abundance of beauty God puts on display for us every day. Your message permeates every element of your platform. You know the message the Holy Spirit has called you to deliver. As you prepare content for your full platform, think strategically about how to weave your message into everything you write or create. Deliver your message with consistency and frequency. Having done all, stand on your platform, with your message.
As you prepare content for your full platform, think strategically about how to weave your message into everything you write or create.
86 MinistryToday September // October 2015
D r . S t e v e G r e e n e is executive vice president of the Media Group at Charisma Media. Follow his daily, practical Greenelines blog at ministrytodaymag.com/blogs/greenelines.
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