DARREN SHEARER SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN BUSINESS
ROB RENFROE GRACE ON THE JOB
NATALIE GILLESPIE INFLUENCING THE FINE ARTS JANUARY // FEBRUARY 2016
EQUIPPING CHRISTIAN LEADERS TO GROW
Empowered by Grace John Bevere
Give your young people a reason to get and stay connected to the Lord There are too many complaints about young people who leave the church, never to return. This doesnâ€™t speak well for what they learned in the first place. Youth programs may keep them busy, but if they donâ€™t get the meat of the Word before they leave home, when will they get it? Much of the time, they settle for cheap substitutes that do not bring real peace and contentment. A person should never see yoga as more calming than choosing to trust in God. Hidden Treasure chronicles my own spiritual journey in connecting with the Lord. It began with a search for inner peace and ended with a total surrender to the Lord. In this book, I provide the Scriptures that brought me to this point. There are no complicated steps or procedures, just unconditional trust in the Lord. This may be too simple for modern Christianity, but it is the essence of humility toward God. Most of the time, the peripherals of Christianity are overemphasized, with the essentials being overlooked. This ends up being no more effective than a motivational talk with a limited shelf life, and it does not produce ongoing Christian transformation.
Visit HiddenTreasure.website for a FREE download of Hidden Treasure
Your small Christian School or Bible College can have nonGovernmental Accreditation! The Accrediting Commission International, Inc. John F. Scheel, Ph.D. – President
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c o n t e n t s V o l . 3 4 // N o . 1
J a n u a r y // F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 6
Empowered 16 by Grace Pastor John Bevere knows from personal experience what it means to be empowered by God’s grace to exceed his natural abilities. He explains that the Scriptures don’t limit grace to God’s unmerited favor, but we can grow in the grace of God’s empowerment and lead our teams in that direction as well. Bevere shares his views on grace in our Cover Story and in a Charisma Podcast Network series.
74 | FINANCE 8 things to keep in mind when budgeting 78 | ANNOUNCEMENTS 3 questions to discern what I announce Sunday
26 | THE TRUTH OF RELATIONSHIP GRACE
Consider how truth and grace play out in the workplace. By Rob Renfroe
34 | GRACE IN THE ARTS
See how faith guides the art of a ballerina and a painter. By Natalie Gillespie
42 | FIELDING FAITH
Following Christ makes a sports career more than just a game. By Shawn A. Akers
48 | UNCENSORED
Dare to embrace the entire Bible in your preaching and teaching. By Brian Cosby
56 | IT’S MY PLEASURE
Learn lessons from Chick-fil-A on commitment to the cause. By Dee Ann Turner
60 | USING SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN BUSINESS Examine the ministry role of Christians at work. By Darren Shearer
66 | DIVINE APPOINTMENTS
Learn how to follow the Holy Spirit in the corporate world. By Amanda Barbosa
MinistryToday January // February 2016
DEPARTMENTS MINISTRY MATTERS
6 | TECHNOLOGY How to mic a guest speaker 8 | WORSHIP 3 traits of kingdom worship 10 | YOUTH 4 tips to keep teens engaged in church
70 | ASK A PASTOR Bubba Justice offers a practical ministry apprenticeship program
76 | CHURCH GROWTH Why your church outreach depends on change
80 | TRIALS “Et tu, Brute?” How to handle betrayal and rejection
12 | IN REAL LIFE Take just 21 seconds to change your world By Dr. Mark Rutland 14 | TRUE STEWARDSHIP Cultivating community and purpose By Chris Brown 82 | ON PLATFORM Your landing page should land visitors 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 $20 per year for postage, other countries add $25 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 TOC: Audrey Hannah | Holli Hamby | Cover: Allan Nygren
IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
How to Mic a Guest Speaker By Chris Huff You could put a lapel mic on anyone in seven seconds. An ear-worn microphone might take a little longer. But this isn’t a rodeo. You don’t win anything for the fastest time. Most of all, the person being miked is already uncomfortable and a quick accosting just makes it worse. Let’s jump into the shoes of the guest speaker. You are Molly, a church member back from a mission trip to Uganda and asked to give a report of the experience. You are nervous. Enter the sound tech, whom you have never met, a few minutes before the service. Tech: “Here’s your microphone. Clip it on your shirt.” [Tech walks away] You are left holding the lapel mic and the wireless pack, now confused and nervous. Now, let’s play out the scenario in a much different way. [Tech comes up to you 10 minutes before the service.] Tech: “Hi, I’m Chris Huff, and I need to set you up with a microphone. How are 6
MinistryToday January // February 2016
you doing this morning?” Molly: “A little nervous. I’ve never talked in front of this many people before.” Tech: “I was told you’re speaking about your Uganda trip. What was the best part of the trip?” At this point, the tech is building a relationship with you and asking you about the event. They want you to know they’ve got your back and by you telling a story, you are relaxing a little bit, taking your mind off the idea of public speaking. Note they are asking for a good story, not “What was the scariest part?” Would you really want to recall a scary time when you are already nervous? Molly: [Tells the story.] Tech: “That sounds like a great trip, I can’t wait to hear more. I need to set you up with a microphone and once I’ve done that, you won’t have to worry about doing anything with it, OK?” Tech: “I have a little microphone that clips to the front of your blouse. It attaches to
this cable and this little pack that can clip to your pants or to a pocket or wherever you find comfortable. This cable can either run outside your shirt or inside, it’s up to you. Hiding the cable gives a professional look.” (Note the use of the word “you” so they feel they have control.) Molly: “Umm, how does the cable go inside my shirt?” Tech: “That’s easy, you drop the cable down and put the end out. Then, you connect the wireless pack.” Molly: “OK, now where exactly should I clip the microphone?” Tech: “I’ll show you.” [Tech drops his chin to his neck, places a fist below and then puts his finger on the spot.] [Tech hands you the lapel mic and cable so you can clip it on and run the cable.] Tech: “If you’ll hand me the plug end of that cable, we’ll finish this up.” [Tech plugs cable into the wireless pack with the power on and muted on the console.] Tech: “Here is the pack, where would you like it?” Molly: “I’ll just clip it to my pocket.” Tech: “Perfect. You don’t need to worry about turning it on as I control all of that.” [Tech has either locked the transmitter in the ON position or placed tape over the switch.] Tech: “I look forward to hearing more about your trip.” As a tech, miking a guest is part of our job. Put the mic on the guest, and then you’re done. What the guest needs from us is trust and confidence. They need to trust the microphone will work when they talk, that it will stay in place, and that everything will be OK. Call it a pep talk. Call it a confidence booster. Miking a guest isn’t about turning in the “fastest miking time,” it’s about recognizing public speaking is the second-highest fear, just behind flying, and you have the opportunity to minister to that person before they step on the stage.
Chris Huff is the author of Audio Essentials for Church Sound and writes on church audio production at behindthemixer.com. © iStockphoto/Anthony Brown
IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
Adopt These 3 Characteristics of Kingdom Worship By Bj Pridham The preaching had ended, and the arena was full. The pastor walked onto the stage and the music team sat poised, ready like elite forces eager to take ground. The atmosphere was charged, pregnant with the presence of God. All eyes were on our fearless leader as the air is sucked out of the room, and God sat on our worship. The next 20 minutes was an orchestration of worship that felt as though we had stepped out of an arena of 8,000 into the hallways of heaven. We caught some of it on an album a few years back. The track called “Kiss Towards” is a constant reminder of how powerfully God wants to move in our praise and worship. I’m so thankful for senior pastors who are passionate about the presence of God. At Planetshakers, Pastors Russell and Sam Evans are our churches’ finest worship leaders and, in my opinion, the greatest in the world. I’ve observed through the years how they can plan so precisely yet allow God to take the reins and lead us right to where He is. I watch our staff when our pastors walk on the stage as they pay close attention to Pastors Russell and Sam find “the moment of the meeting” and agree with heaven’s agenda to see a powerful move of God. I want to share with you three critical things I’ve observed being one of the praise and worship leaders at Planetshakers. I’m always learning, but I am so glad I have great “generals” as examples in my life.
1) Adopt God’s method for praise and worship.
There are so many differing opinions on what praise and worship is, and truthfully, I feel as though its roar has been lulled to sleep in the global church. God’s Word gives us a clear definition of what it means to praise: Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” Psalm 47:1 says, “Clap your hands, all you people! Shout to God with a joyful voice.” 8
MinistryToday January // February 2016
These are some of many kingdom guidelines to praise the way God loves to be praised. It was Israel’s obedience to shout that brought down the walls of Jericho. Despite what your flesh says, the Bible says God loves someone who worships in spirit
percent hearing in both ears. Paul and Silas, imprisoned in the midnight hour, sang hymns of praise to God. What happened next was supernatural. The cell doors flung open not only for them but for others. As leaders, we must know praise is not only a weapon that brings freedom to us but releases freedom to others.
3) Praise and worship evoke an encounter with God.
Bj Pridham and in truth. Therefore, how we feel—the flesh—is not the basis of praise. Who God is and how He likes to be praised, according to the Word, is how we should praise.
2) Praise and worship characterize a kingdom culture.
“But You are holy, O You who inhabits the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; they trusted, and You did deliver them” (Ps. 22:3). When we lead people into praise and worship, we are bringing them into an environment of kingdom order. This Scripture tells us God abides (sits on) our praise. A praise and worship leader ushers people into “heaven on earth.” Here’s one of thousands of testimonies we have from a recent meeting: An 11-year-old girl who was 90 percent deaf in one ear suddenly noticed that the music was excessively loud while in praise and worship. Then the realization occurred she had been healed! Since then, doctors have verified and confirmed she has 100
The Bible says that where Jesus was honored, He was able to perform miracles. I believe it’s the same with His presence. Whenever we lift Him up, giving Him honor, He is right there with us, able to do whatever He wants to do. This incredible privilege, whether you’re a praise and worship leader or simply passionate about it, it is an “all in” deal. I love the response of the cripple at the gate called Beautiful when he received his miracle in Acts 3:8: “Jumping up, he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.” His response to God’s work in His life was proportioned to the miracle he’d received. Those who are forgiven much (healed of much in this case) love much and usually have no problems showing it. I have three beautiful boys. (Our third son was born earlier this year.) As their daddy, my favorite time of day is when I get home from work. My two oldest boys run, leap, cuddle and kiss me like crazy! They don’t care what it looks like. All they know is Daddy’s home. It’s impossible to love someone with your whole heart and not show it. The Father did this with Jesus and withheld nothing by sending Him to the cross, raising Him in a glorious victory. Perhaps praise and worship, using our whole being—mind, body and soul—are indeed a fitting response for all He has done.
Bj Pridham is worship pastor at Planetshakers Church in Melbourne, Australia, and a member of Planetshakers Band (planetshakers.com).
Ministry Matters V o l . 3 4 // N o . 1
4 Tips to Keep Teens Engaged in Church By Tim Smith As your younger parishioners begin to approach puberty, you may notice that their interest in Sunday school, church services and even church activities begins to waver. This is a normal rite of passage, as they begin those final steps toward adulthood and discovering who they want to be when they get there. Rather than pulling back on church youth groups and activities geared for that age, you should be thinking about restructuring them to increase the appeal. These are your future primary congregants, and during the troubling teen years, you have a perfect opportunity to show how their religious background will always help lead them in the right direction. 1) Be flexible in structure.Teens are facing new challenges and need a safe place to work those out. When planning your youth group, keep the scheduling flexible, leaving plenty of time for “free” talk either with the youth pastor or among themselves. Not every meeting has to be about Bible study. Instead make the main subject themes that are plaguing them now, such as peer pressure, sex and drugs, with references to religion and spirituality in the background.
2) Recruit an enthusiastic youth pastor.
A youth pastor does not need to be young, but he should have plenty of energy and fresh ideas for how to interact with younger church members. They should also be aware of trends in society and how to work those into the meetings. The more relatable the youth pastor is to the kids who join, the more likely they are to keep coming back.
3) Use the term “young adult” not “youth” ministry.Kids today are sophisticated and
know more at their age than we give them credit for. Don’t talk down to teenagers, but rather treat them like the young adults that they are. When they have questions, answer them; when they are offering their own insight, make sure you are listening. At this age, kids have more respect for adults who talk openly and treat them with respect. By putting this into practice, you are developing a youth group the young 10 MinistryToday January // February 2016
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members will feel comfortable being a part of. 4) Work with what they know.Don’t forget these are kids who are growing up in the middle of what we call the age of technology. Integrate modern technology into the youth ministry, and you’ll be amazed at the increase in interest. Let them design pages for the church website or give them research assignments they can do through online searches. Take advantage of modern technology to communicate better with the youth group when meetings are not scheduled. Create a Facebook page where they can chat and share ideas from home. Use text services to send them messages about meetings and other activities. That can be done with ease using a mass notification system such as DialMyCalls, which is able to send a message to multiple people at the same time. Teenagers are more inclined to read a text message than any other form of communication. Using this type of service to reach out to them will definitely grab their attention. Don’t let diminishing numbers in attendance discourage you from offering a youth group to your younger church members. Adapt your program to meet the needs and interests of teenagers today, and they will be happy to keep up with their religious and spiritual education.
Tim Smith is the social media guru and support manager for DialMyCalls. This article was first published at churchtechtoday.com. © iStockphoto/Christopher Futcher
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GROWTH. EXPANSION. MULTIPLICATION. God has called and anointed me to multiply ministries through media communications. For over 30 years, I have been involved with those who have risen from obscurity to changing countless millions of lives with the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ on a global scale…and Pastors who have seen their churches double, triple…grow exponentially. I have also wept over those I have known that are gifted, anointed, talented, but continue to struggle because of mistakes, or they just don’t know how… Now, BMCFerrell is available to engage with you. Are you ready to multiply?
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R E A L
L I F E
BY DR. MARK RUTLAND
21 Seconds to Change Your World
Discover how to find God’s healing and abundance through the Lord’s Prayer
ears ago, in a season of great personal need, I longed for renewal in my prayer life. What I found was exactly what many have discovered: When prayer is most needed, words are the hardest to find. How to start? What to say? What is even OK to ask for? I was stressed, afraid and less capable of effectual fervent prayer than I should have been. In desperation, I turned to the Lord’s Prayer—and a bit later, Psalm 23—and began a journey into its healing, restoring power. I have received blessings and healing in a 21-second prayer taught 2,000 years ago by a Jewish rabbi. I did not so much take hold of the Lord’s Prayer as it took hold of me—and it has never let me go. I pray it multiple times daily, often silently in meetings, while driving and even at basketball games. By the way, you can pray the Lord’s Prayer before the shot clock runs out! — I have likewise encouraged others to rediscover the Lord’s Prayer. Many of them, with emotional wounds that hampered their lives, found inner healing in the Lord’s Prayer. It seems to me that the habitual use of the Lord’s Prayer, as good as that is, cannot be compared in effect to its healing power. Especially in combination with Psalm 23, the grace to forgive and to be forgiven—what King David called soul restoration—is exactly what so many long for in their lives. I have seen so many utterly amazed to find it was there all the time, right there in the Lord’s Prayer. Others were not so much hurting as they were stagnant in their prayer lives. What they all had in common was a need for a practical way to start fresh, and many found it in the Lord’s Prayer. Some had jettisoned the Lord’s Prayer because of unrewarding liturgical worship during which they heard bored congregations drone through it in bovine enthusiasm. Others attend charismatic churches where the prayer is not despised but ignored. Those of us in the ministry cherish the hope that our people pray more than they do, whoever “they” are. In real life, many in every church long for a more effective prayer life. Many read about the prayers of David Brainerd and E.M. Bounds, but instead of being inspired, they are intimidated and paralyzed. They want a doorway into prayer that will work for them right now, right where they are, that will change their world and the world of those around them. They
want a prayer that is concise, comprehensive and doable, even if you’re not E.M. Bounds. I talked with a group of husbands who agreed on one thing; they were uncomfortable praying aloud with their wives. “She’s the prayer warrior at our house,” one man said. “I stumble around and feel stupid in prayer whenever she’s listening.” His confession got more amens than most of my sermons. “What if you knew what to pray every time and you never had to think of what to say? How would you like that?” I asked. They wanted that—unanimously. When I suggested the Lord’s Prayer, its many uses and its power as a family prayer, they absolutely loved it. “Why didn’t I think of this before?” one man asked. A good question. Why didn’t I? Why indeed? Perhaps the Lord’s Prayer needs to be used again, sung again, loved again and prayed again. I am on a crusade to urge churches, pastors, laymen, prayer groups, prison ministries, youth groups and families to declare 2016 The Year of the Lord’s Prayer. If you will, register at 21secondsbook.com and enter the code LPP23 for a free digital copy of my sermon series “The Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23.” Why not pray it right this moment, with the magazine in your hand? Join me right now in the prayer Jesus gave us. “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those “Who trespass against us. “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. “For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. “Amen.”
“I did not so much take hold of the Lord’s Prayer as it took hold of me and it has never let me go.”
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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. His new book, 21 Seconds to Change Your World (Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group), is available now at your local bookstore, all major online retailers, 21secondsbook.com and globalservants.org. Life Touch
T R U E
S T E W A R D S H I P
BY CHRIS BROWN
Cultivating Community and Purpose Helping members of your congregation find fulfillment together in Christ
n the Great Commission, Jesus told us to make disciples. But making disciples means more than just winning people to Christ—as important as that is. It also means helping them find two things everyone needs and only Christ can provide: community and purpose. Deep down, we all want to be fully known and fully loved. That’s community. We all want to know our life matters. That’s purpose. When all is said and done, we want people to come to our funeral and be able to celebrate our legacy. For believers, the church provides the backdrop for both community and purpose. I know that from personal experience. The first time I sat in church, I felt invisible. I was a teen who had no community and no purpose. My mom was dealing with addiction, and my father had just passed away. I struggled to process the violence and poverty of my childhood in the context of my new relationship with Jesus. I knew I was a child of God, but I still felt alone. I needed what everyone needs: community and purpose. In the Gospel of John, Jesus prayed for the believers He was sending into the world. He wanted them to understand their mission (John 17:18), but He also wanted them to experience unity with one another (John 17:23). Simply put, He prayed they would find community and purpose. When we find community and purpose, a genuine sense of satisfaction settles into our hearts—a peace that provokes us to action. Errands become divine appointments. Cubicles become a mission field. Church becomes the launching pad for amazing things. Leading people toward community and purpose is one of the greatest ministries church leaders can provide. I see four ways you can help make that happen in your congregation: 1) Focus on gifts not burdens.In Numbers 13, Moses sent 12 spies to check out Canaan. Ten identified the obstacles, while two embraced the opportunities. The majority saw only the burdens, but Joshua and Caleb recognized God’s good gifts. Pastors can help church members discover their gifts rather than burdens by plugging them into service. Serving others offers a sense of purpose and connects members with others who have similar passions. For believers looking to be part of something bigger than themselves, nothing works better than service. 2) Talk about “and” not “or.” Too often, we segment and specialize ministry to the point that people must choose purpose or community instead of embracing both. In reality, emphasizing one
to the exclusion of the other creates unhealthy situations. Purpose without community feels like manipulation, but community without purpose is just empty talk with no intentionality. As a leader, it’s important to draw a clear connection between purpose and community. Remind members why they’re doing what they’re doing in the church and who is being blessed along the way. Make sure members know they are making a difference not just going through the motions. 3) Add more “on ramps.” The time between a guest’s second visit and his complete disconnection from your church is short—and getting shorter all the time. Churches that provide multiple options for building community and finding purpose have a better chance of making those connections stick. While you don’t want to schedule things just to fill a calendar, you should think about creating different kinds of groups that perform different kinds of service at different times. That takes creativity, but it also creates a culture in which community and purpose can flourish. 4) Expect results. Nothing provides a sense of purpose—and teamwork that builds community—like good, old-fashioned results. When members see their hard work pay off in changed lives, it matters to them, and that’s important. As a leader, you cast that vision. You’re the one who reminds believers that while they can’t earn God’s love, their good works can make a difference for the kingdom. Tell them you’re praying for a big harvest—and invite them to be a part of the adventure. If you listen carefully, you can hear the cries all around you. People are busy yet unfulfilled. They have a thousand friends or followers on social media but feel anonymous. They love their job and still long for work that matters. People passionately pursue community and purpose. The church can help meet those needs, and your leadership can create the culture that makes a difference in their lives.
“I knew I was a child of God, but I still felt alone. I needed what everyone needs: community and purpose.”
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C h r i s B r o w n is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide. Available on radio stations across the country, “Chris Brown’s True Stewardship” provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. Follow him online at stewardship.com, on Twitter @chrisbrownonair or on Facebook (chrisbrownonair.) Ramsey Solutions
Exceed Your Potential
How God’s grace empowers you beyond your natural ability
BY JOHN BEVERE
uppose you knew a struggling businessman. You’ve watched this person struggle to get his footing for years, but he’s faced one failure after another and seems ready to give up. But then someone approaches your friend and says, “Great news. We now have the scientific means to put on you the combined fullness—the full ability and nature—of Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Interested?” What would your friend say? “Absolutely!” Once he had the abilities of these men, your friend would start thinking of ways of investing he’d never thought of before. He would become very successful and exceed anything he had ever achieved. He’d become a leader in his field, and everyone connected to his work would benefit from his success. It would be astounding to behold. This is a nice hypothetical, isn’t it? It’s too bad we don’t actually have a way to take on the nature of the leading men and women in our fields. Maybe you’re even reading this story and thinking right now, “I wish that were possible because I could use it!” But hold that thought. »
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John and Lisa Bevere serve in ministry together at Messenger International.
Assuming the Nature of Jesus
In his first epistle, the apostle John makes a stunning statement: “As (Jesus) is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). That’s a huge declaration. Essentially, John is saying that while we don’t have a way to take on the nature of Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, we do have access to the nature of someone greater than any of these men. How? Through God’s grace. If that statement surprises you, you’re not alone. There are a lot of misconceptions about grace in the church today. Most of us don’t really understand what grace is or what it does in our lives. Here’s a case in point. In 2009, a survey was conducted with thousands of Christians across America. They were asked, “Give three or more definitions or descriptions of the grace of God.” Of the thousands surveyed, only 2 percent stated that grace is God’s empowerment. Yet this is exactly how God has defined and described His grace! He says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). The word weakness means “inability.” So God is saying, “My grace is My empowerment, and it is optimized in situations beyond your ability.” This applies in our homes, our churches, our workplaces and every other area of our lives. How amazing is that! This isn’t an isolated idea in Scripture either. The apostle Peter defines God’s grace the same way. He writes, “Grace ... be multiplied to you ... . His divine power (grace) has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:2-3). Once again, grace is referred to as God’s “divine power,” and Peter says every resource or ability we need is available through that empowering grace. This leads me to something the Lord revealed to me during a recent prayer time. He asked me, “Son, how did I introduce grace in My book, the New Testament?” As an author who has written over a dozen books, that question carried significant meaning to me. Whenever I’m bringing up a new term in a book, I give the primary definition when I introduce it. So when a new term is introduced in the book of an experienced author, I assume it carries the primary definition. 18 MinistryToday January // February 2016
John and Lisa Bevere and family
“The grace of God gives us the fullness—the full ability and nature—of Jesus Christ.” But my response to the Lord’s question was, “I don’t know.” I went to my concordance to find out how God introduced grace in His book. Here is what I discovered: “We have all received from His fullness grace upon grace” (John 1:16). The apostle John is stating here that the grace of God gives us the fullness—the full ability and nature—of Jesus Christ. Did you hear that? Not Bill Gates. Not Steve Jobs. Not Albert Einstein or Johann Sebastian Bach or any other great man or woman in history. The fullness of Jesus Christ Himself! This is why John can boldly declare, “As He is, so are we in this world.” It turns out our hypothetical situation isn’t so farfetched after all. In fact, it understates the reality of what God has given us.
Leading on the Job
The grace of God is overwhelming. It’s a gift of salvation, forgiveness and the empowerment to live rightly before God. Not only that, but it also enables us to be fruitful and reign in life. Paul says: “For if by
one man’s trespass death reigned through him, then how much more will those who receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). The implications of this statement are astounding. By God’s grace, we can rule in life. We’re empowered to overcome any obstacle, and we’re ordained to make a significant mark in our spheres of influence. How does this look in practice? We are to break out of the status quo, to surpass the norm. We are called to influence—to be the head and not the tail, above and not beneath (Deut. 28:13). Not only are we to rise above the adverse circumstances of life, but we’re also to outshine those who don’t have a covenant with God. We are to be leaders in the midst of an unenlightened world. The head sets the direction, course and trends, whereas the tail follows. We should be leaders in all aspects of our society, not followers. Allow me to spell it out clearly. If your profession is in the medical field, by God’s grace, you have the ability to discover new Allan Nygren
Good or God? John Bevere Dared to Ask Ministry Today publisher Dr. Steve Greene recently spoke with Pastor John Bevere on several episodes on the Charisma Podcast Network. In this and successive sidebars, we share selections of that content, reflecting on the message of Good or God?, Bevere’s new book. Greene: You asked an important question in the first chapter of Good or God?, “What is good?” Bevere: People think we are born with the inherent knowledge of what’s good and evil. To take it one step further, today in our society—and this has even crept into the church—we assume that if something is good, it’s got to be of God. Well, if good is so obvious, why does Hebrews 5 tell us we have to have discernment to recognize the difference between good and evil? If you look at Solomon at the dawn of his reign, God appears to him and says, “Ask me anything you want.” He says, “God, give your servant an understanding heart that I might discern the difference between good and evil.” Isn’t it interesting that Solomon cries out for that? If you look at the rich young ruler, he comes running up to Jesus and he says, “Good teacher, what do I do to inherit eternal life?” Before Jesus even answered this very important question, he looks at him and says, “Why do you call me good? Nobody is good but God alone.” Is Jesus saying that He’s not good? Absolutely not! He’s perfectly good, but what Jesus is saying to this man is, “You have a standard for good, and God has a standard for good, and the two aren’t the same.” Good is all about reference point. You can have two different families moving into identical homes. They’re threebedroom, two-bath houses; they’re $150,000 houses. To one family, it’s a bad move, but to the other family, it’s a good move. To the family who thinks it’s a bad move, they’ve just moved out of a $2 million estate. To the family for whom it’s a good move, they’ve just moved out of a one-bedroom apartment. So what Jesus is saying to this rich young ruler is, “You are not going to reduce God’s reference point of what is good down to your level.” God really got this across to me when I was getting ready to speak to 5,000 leaders in Sweden, I’d written 10 books by this point, and I was really having a great time of prayer with God, and I had judged a certain situation to be good, and the Holy Spirit said, “No, it’s not good.” He gave me Scripture to show me that it wasn’t good. I remember getting in an argument with Him, and I finally slammed my foot down, and I said, “But God, all the good that’s come out of this situation.” The Holy Spirit said this to me: “Son, it wasn’t the evil side of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil Eve was attracted to.” He said it was the good side. And when He said that, I literally flew to my Bible in Genesis 3. I read, “and she saw the tree was good,” and the word “good” leapt up off the page. It was pleasant, it was desirable to make her wise, so all of a sudden, I realized there is a good that will actually lead us away from God’s presence. There is a good that will lead us away from God’s best for our lives. I realized what would really deceive, if possible, even the elect in the days that we’re living in because Jesus said that. It used to bug me, bug me, bug me that Jesus said, “If possible, even the elect would be deceived.” I’d say, “God, those are Christians.” I realized that what is going to deceive Christians isn’t satanic rock concerts, it isn’t drug-infested parties. It is evil masked with good. Greene: A Christian is deceived by evil masked with good. Now that’s heavy and it’s scary. Bevere: It is scary, and it’s a healthy scary. Jesus talks about deception so much in the days just before His return. Paul said some are going to depart from the faith, talking about deception, and he’s talking about Christians there. Peter talks about deception. Jude talks about deception, so there’s only one problem with deception and that’s this—it’s deceiving. The person who’s deceived believes with all their heart they’re right when, in reality, they’re wrong. © iStockphoto/pagadesign
January // February 2016 MinistryToday 19
and innovative ways of treating sickness and disease. Your potential is immeasurable and unlimited. Your fellow workers should marvel at your discoveries, and your work should inspire them. Your innovation and wisdom will cause them to scratch their heads and say, “Where is this person getting their ideas from?” Not only can you shine in your sphere of influence, but you will multiply your effectiveness in your field. Others will aspire to follow in your steps and seek to know the source of your ability. If you’re a web designer, your creations should be fresh and innovative, so much so that others emulate your work. You and other believers in your field should set the prevailing trends that society follows. You will be sought out for your work and known for your innovation. You’ll be so ahead of the curve that others in your field scratch their heads and say to one another, “Where do they get this creativity from?” You will multiply your effectiveness
by imparting your knowledge into others, growing your industry and giving into God’s kingdom. If you’re a school teacher, by the empowerment of grace, you can develop fresh, creative and innovative ways of communicating knowledge, understanding and wisdom to your students. You can think of
approaches none of the other educators in your school system have considered. Your fellow educators will say, “Where is he or she getting these ideas?” If you’re a businessperson, you can come up with inventive products and sales techniques that outclass what’s been done before. You’ll engage keen
Good Leaders Are True Influencers Greene: What moves a good leader? Bevere: A good leader is someone who knows how to get in the presence of God, knows His heart and then influences the people under him—and not just influence but also to build a team. A team of leaders can do so much more than one leader himself. A successful leader today is a leader who builds excellent teams. David, to me, is an example of a great leader. Here is a guy living in the wilderness. He spends time with God, and so much does he love God that he literally transcends what a man is supposed to do back then. Back then, you know, you were either a prophet or you were a king—or a leader, I should say. And yet David has so much of the heart of God in him because he spends so much time (with Him). So what happens is all these people come out to the wilderness and they are the most disgruntled people. They are people who are in debt. They are people who are offended. These are the guys who are the scum of Israel, and they come out and spend time in the wilderness. These guys end up becoming some of the most renowned men of the nation of Israel and the most renowned men of all the nations around during David’s reign. Why is that? Because they got in the presence of a true influencer, and they built a team out of these guys. We still talk about them today. So David is spending time with God in His presence, and he is really getting the heart of God so that when he gets around these disgruntled men, they don’t influence him. He influences them and makes them into great leaders. To me, that is true leadership. It is not when we influence people. Aaron influenced people. He built a calf, and if you think about it, that is all they saw in Egypt for 80 years. He was invited to the top of the mountain to get into the presence of God, but he didn’t do it. Moses ended up there. ... Aaron goes back to the congregation. He goes back to where the people were because Aaron found more comfort in the presence of people than in the comfort or in the presence of God. So Aaron is an influencer. He is a leader, and he builds this calf and calls it Jehovah. ... If you look at the difference between his leadership and David’s, you see a great, great contrast. One knew how to get into the presence of God to affect his team, and the other one affected his team but wasn’t in the presence of God. 20 MinistryToday January // February 2016
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marketing strategies that are ahead of the curve. You will deftly perceive what’s profitable and what’s not. You’ll know when to buy and when to sell, when to get in and when to get out. Other businesspeople will scratch their heads trying to figure out why you’re so successful. And you’ll multiply by developing young entrepreneurs and generously giving to build the kingdom. The same principle applies if you’re a musician, researcher, athlete, scientist, policeman, flight attendant or stay-athome mom—or if you’re in the media, the military or any other arena of life. Each of us is called to different sectors of society. Wherever we’re located, we should flourish. Our businesses should thrive even when others struggle. Our communities should be safe, delightful and prosperous. Our places of employment should boom. Our music should be fresh and original, emulated by secular
musicians. The same should be true of our graphics, videos and architectural designs. Our creativity should inspire and be sought after on every level. Our performances, whether in athletics, entertainment, the arts, media or any other field, should stand out. When the righteous govern, our cities, states and nations should flourish. Our schools should excel when we teach and lead. When believers are involved, there should be an abundance of creativity, innovation, productivity, tranquility, sensitivity and integrity. All because of grace!
Depending on His Grace
Now, before you go away thinking this is nice in theory, let me assure you that it is the reality of what God can do in each of our lives when we yield to Him. I’ve personally witnessed this transformative power of grace. One of my worst subjects in high
Discovering the Key to True Discernment Greene: How did you address discernment in your Good or God? book? Help us understand how to develop greater discernment as Christian leaders. Bevere: The key to discernment is found in one phrase, “the fear of the Lord.” If you look at Malachi 3 and 4, it depicts three groups of people. It depicts the wicked, the person who doesn’t know God. It depicts the righteous who are complaining and then it depicts the righteous who fear God. And God says a book of remembrance will be written about those who fear God. See, the ones who were complaining, the righteous who were complaining say: “It’s not fair. We obey God. We see the wicked prospering, but we’re not prospering. This isn’t fair.” They’re constantly complaining. Complaining just says to God, “I don’t like what You’re doing in my life, and if I were You, I would do it differently.” It is an absolute slap in God’s face. The righteous who fear God, they’re going through all this turmoil, but they keep talking about the ways of God and the principles of God and the Word of God, and God says, “I’m going to write their names down in a book, and I’m going to write down what they’re saying in a book.” He said, “Then when the fire comes, you’re going to be able to discern once again the difference between what’s truly righteous and what’s not righteous. “So when I say that the key to true discernment is the fear of the Lord, it scares people, and let me tell you why it scares them. It’s because anytime you mention the word “fear,” people go, “Oh no, no, no. God’s not given us a spirit of fear. He’s given us a spirit of power, love and of a sound mind.” Those people are confusing the spirit of fear with the fear of the Lord. There is a difference. If you look at when Moses delivered Israel out of Egypt and the presence of God comes down, the people run away from God, and Moses looks at them in Exodus 20:20 and says, “Hey, do not fear because God’s come to test you to see if His fear is in you so that you may not sin.” Moses isn’t contradicting himself because he says do not fear because God’s come to see if fear is in you. ... The person who fears God is the person who embraces God’s heart. What’s important to God becomes important to him. What’s not so important to God is not so important to him. The person who fears God loves what God loves and hates what He hates. 22 MinistryToday January // February 2016
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school was English and creative writing. I struggled anytime I was assigned a threepage paper. It would take many hours for me to finish a paper—and not before going through half a notebook pad. I’d rip up and throw away page after page of awful writing. I scored a mere 370 out of 800 points on the English portion of the SAT. When God told me in 1991 that He wanted me to write a book, I thought He had me mixed up with someone else. How could I write a chapter, let alone a book? What I didn’t originally factor in was the immeasurable, unlimited and surpassing greatness of the grace of God in me. Within 10 months of receiving my “write a book” directive from God, two women from different states approached me two weeks apart and said, “John, God wants you to write. In fact, if you don’t, He’ll give the messages to someone
else.” So I wrote a contract with God and acknowledged my complete dependence upon His grace. Since that day, I’ve written 19 books. Millions of copies have been distributed worldwide in over 90 languages. Why the change? Because before, I wrote in my strength. Now I’ve learned to believe for and depend on God’s grace. What about you? What has God entrusted you with? Do you see the evidence of His grace in your work, or have you been attempting to labor in your own strength? Has God given you a gift, a goal or a dream that seems impossible to achieve? The truth is, whether you’re succeeding or you’re struggling, God wants to take your efforts to the next level by His grace. I encourage you to let the words of Ephesians 3:20 stir your faith: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine,
according to the power that works in us.” Are you ready to engage with His remarkable power? Make this your prayer: Father, today I ask You to work mightily in my life. I know grace is the power that enables me to live above and beyond anything I could imagine or request. As I steward the influence and skills You have entrusted to me, help me shine as a light for Your glory. Help me set a precedent in my field and point many to You. Thank You for empowering me with the fullness of Jesus Christ! In Jesus’ name, amen. J o h n B e v e r e and his wife, Lisa, are the founders of Messenger International. This article is based on content from Good or God?: Why Good Without God Isn’t Enough by John Bevere. For more information on the book or to dig deeper into this topic, visit goodorgod.com.
Fueled by Grace for Leadership Greene: In your new book, you have a chapter titled “The Fuel.” How does that fuel relate to leadership? Bevere: In that chapter, I deal with a very controversial subject in the body of Christ, and that is grace. I know there are a lot of people who say, “Hey, there’s teaching on hyper grace and extreme grace” and, to be honest with you, I am a teacher of extreme grace. I’m a teacher of hyper grace because I want all the grace that I can get. I think my attention was really arrested when the Holy Spirit amplified to me that James says He gives more grace, and I thought, “More grace?” I thought I got all the grace I ever needed when I got saved, and then I saw Peter said, “Grace be multiplied to you,” and I started digging and I realized that we haven’t painted the whole picture of what the grace of God does in our life. ... Grace gives us the empowerment to do what we otherwise couldn’t do in our own abilities. It gives me the ability to live godly because the Bible tells me I’m to live just like Jesus. This is the way I define grace: It’s God’s empowerment that gives us the ability to go beyond our natural ability. That is the fuel we need for leadership. Greene: Let’s say I have an underperformer on my team. They’re “good people,” I love them and believe they were sent by God, but they’re not getting the job done. Does grace apply in this situation? Bevere: You have to get the right people in the right position. When they’re in the right position, God has given them the grace to do that. They just need to learn to depend on it. So if I have a person and I’ve ministered to them about the grace of God and trusting God for His ability in a position, and it just doesn’t seem to be working, a question I always ask the Holy Spirit is, “OK, do I have this person in the wrong position?” ... I had a team member that was in a department, and he was not doing well. I kept encouraging him. I kept ministering to him. I kept saying, “Now listen, just pray and believe God for His grace to do this.” He couldn’t do it. Well, one day I’m in prayer and I’m thinking, “Oh, I should put this person over in this department.” I moved him over there, and that person started excelling. So I believe that God has put a sweet spot in all of us and that sweet spot is where that grace is.
24 MinistryToday January // February 2016
THE TRUTH OF RELATIONSHIP
GRACE How truth and grace play out in the workplace BY ROB RENFROE
o you prefer grace or truth? When you’re in trouble, when you have a problem, when you’re hurting and confused, would you rather someone show you kindness or tell you the truth? It’s not an easy question. If I had made a mistake in judgment—I had meant to do right, but I just blew it—I’d want grace. Or if I had acted in anger or selfishness and hurt someone, I’d want grace. I’d want someone to say, “It’s OK. I forgive you.” But if my mechanic sees that my brakes are failing or my AC guy discovers that my heater is emitting carbon monoxide, I wouldn’t want grace or comfort or someone trying to make me feel good about my situation. I would want to be told the truth about the danger. What about my doctor? If I’m overweight, not exercising and have high blood pressure, I’d want the truth. I would prefer if he was nice about it, but if he never said, “Rob, you need to make some changes in your lifestyle,” I wouldn’t think, “He sure is a
26 MinistryToday January // February 2016
loving and accepting guy.” I’d think, “He’s not doing his job. He cares more about my feelings than he does about my health, and that’s not what I need from my doctor.” What do you want in a friend—grace or truth? Would you want someone who is always there to comfort you and take your side? Or would you prefer someone who tells you where you’re blowing it and helps you see yourself for who you are?
Responding With Grace
Answering the question can be even trickier in the workplace setting, as it can seem it should be all business. Getting the job done is what we’re paid to do, so tell people what they need to know, let them know when they perform well and when they don’t, and reward them accordingly. If there were ever a place to emphasize truth over grace, it should be the workplace. But in following Jesus, you follow the One who came with grace and truth (John 1:14). With Him, it wasn’t one instead of the other © iStockphoto/laflor
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“As followers of Jesus, we have an opportunity to be different in the workplace ... and that begins with grace.” or one more than the other but grace and truth together in equal measure. That’s one of the reasons Jesus so dramatically impacted the lives of the people He encountered when He walked the earth, and it’s one of the reasons His ministry and His example continue to transform lives today. He always held grace and truth together. As followers of Jesus, we have an opportunity to be different in the workplace—different in how we interact with people—and that begins with grace. I speak to about 500 men each week in a ministry we began 13 years ago. Most are upper-middle-class businessmen. 28 MinistryToday January // February 2016
Once I asked the men to list the traits of the best leader with whom they had ever worked. What made that leader so exceptional when it came to creating a vision, helping people work together and accomplish their organization’s goals? All of the men listed several characteristics of the leader they most admired, but the traits repeated most often fell into three broad categories. “Competence” was a high value. The leader had to “know his stuff” to command the respect of others and be seen as worthy of trust. Competence was one of the top three but not the highest. “Character” was second on the list.
Answers that fell into this category were responses such as “I knew she would always do the right thing”; “He’d take the blame when our division didn’t perform well”; and “She would be honest with a customer even if it meant not getting the sale—and she expected the same out of us.” But the trait that was mentioned more than any other was “compassion.” These hard-nosed, bottom-line businessmen said what made their best leaders so impressive and effective was that he was “caring,” “concerned about each one of us” or “interested in me and my family.” They described the leader as “a great listener,” “someone who made time to listen to you and your problems,” and “someone who treated you as a person, not as an employee.” Some even wrote, “He loved us.” When I shared the results with the group, I jokingly said, “Guys, c’mon. There’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no loving in business.” But there is because there are people in business—real human beings who have hopes, hurts and families; who want to be noticed and appreciated—and who want their lives to matter. What I have learned about human beings—friends, family members and people at work, whether the man who cleans the toilets or the one who runs the company—is that we all need to be loved, we all respond to kindness, and we all are touched deeply when someone shows us grace. It can be as simple as noticing when a co-worker is having a difficult time or has failed to perform well and saying to that co-worker, “You’re going to have better days. If I can help, let me know.” It can be telling someone at work, “You may think this is funny, but I pray for the people I know and I care about. Tonight I’m going to pray for you and your family. Is there anything in particular I can pray for? How are your kids?” You’ll be surprised how open people become. If you have reached some level of success at work, asking a younger co-worker to lunch will make a big impact as you inquire about his plans, take an interest in him and discuss what he hopes to accomplish. Creating an informal mentoring relationship where you help someone with his career and encourage him to balance his life around what truly matters is a remarkable © iStockphoto/laflor
gift of grace. Young people are looking for mentors—caring people they can trust. Why shouldn’t you be the person to fulfill that role rather than someone who thinks life is about nothing more than professional success and career advancement? Acts of grace and compassion are particularly powerful in the workplace because they are so unexpected. Love is powerful enough to make people wonder why you are the way you are. Grace is powerful enough that others might even listen when you say the reason is Jesus.
“Acts of grace and compassion are particularly powerful in the workplace because they are so unexpected.”
Telling the Truth
Truth is also important. In the business world, the truth is often told without any concern for another’s feelings. It’s the truth described by Sir Richard Needham when he wrote, “The man who is brutally honest enjoys the brutality quite as much as the honesty. Possibly more.” That’s not the kind of truth we saw in Jesus, and it’s not the kind of truth that people should receive from us. But there are times when there is nothing as helpful as truth spoken the right way. When I was a young associate pastor, the church I served made plans to build an additional classroom building, as our new church was growing rapidly. I was in charge of Christian education for children and adults, so the building committee asked me to determine how much space we needed in our next building. Together with my education committee, we determined our needs and how many square feet the building would require. When I presented our plan to the building committee, they responded by telling us that our proposal was more than the church could afford. The committee asked me to come back in a week with a different plan and gave me a budget to work with this time. Before I tell you the rest of the story, I need to remind you I was young because, to this day, what happened next is rather embarrassing. I went back to my Christian education team and told them what the building committee had asked us to do. We looked at the parameters they had given us and came to the conclusion that what they were asking us to do made no sense. We decided that we should just wait until the church could afford to “do it right.” 30 MinistryToday January // February 2016
That’s what I told the building committee when I attended their meeting a week later. Respectfully, I told them that my committee and I thought we would make due until the church was able to build a building that would take care of our long-term needs. The chairperson asked if I had prepared a plan with the information they had requested. “Well, no, because we just didn’t see the point,” I said. The chairperson politely reiterated the committee’s request and asked me to have that option ready in two weeks for their next meeting. As we were leaving that night, one of the men on the committee asked to speak with me. A good friend and the managing partner of a large law firm, he
had practically no church background when he and his wife started attending our church and I had led him to faith in Christ. He was a large man who towered over me as he said, “Rob, I need to tell you that if you were my employee, I’d be firing you right now. The people on that committee are busy, and they work hard. Instead of being at home with their families tonight, they came to the church to listen to a report they had asked you to bring, and you didn’t do it. Nobody is paying you to think you’re smarter than everyone else. Nobody is paying you to be arrogant. Nobody is paying you to waste their time. If you worked for me at my law firm, I’d be telling you to clean out your desk.” » © iStockphoto/kupicoo
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“People need both grace and truth. Real growth requires both.” For a second I thought, “Man, I led you to Christ. Before you knew me, you were self-centered and full of yourself and spiritually lost. Who are you to tell me ... ?” but then I remembered who he was—my friend and one of my greatest encouragers. He was a brother who loved me. And he was someone who was telling me a truth about myself I needed to hear. That was 30 years ago, but I have never forgotten what he said. It was a great gift that has served me well through the years. There have been other times when I’ve been asked by a committee to work on a plan I didn’t think made much sense and many occasions when a senior pastor told me to do something I saw little value in doing. But the truth my friend spoke that night has stuck with me: Be humble, be a servant, show others the respect you desire to be shown and be faithful in the tasks you’ve been given. I am as grateful for the truth he 32 MinistryToday January // February 2016
spoke to me after that building committee meeting as I am of any act of kindness I have ever received. It was exactly what I needed to be a better employee and grow more into the image of Jesus. In the workplace, some of us have trouble telling the truth. Sometimes we shy away from confrontation, possibly because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. But by not telling that person what he needs to hear, we may not hurt him, but we also don’t help him. Others of us will wait until we are frustrated and angry to tell someone how he needs to change and improve. Then the truth comes out as an explosion that does more damage than good. People need both grace and truth. Real growth requires both. Paul taught the Ephesians this when he wrote: “But, speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him, who is the head, Christ Himself” (Eph. 4.15).
Which do people prefer—grace or truth? Most of us want grace, but we know that we need truth. Those who follow Jesus have in our Lord the perfect example of how grace and truth should be combined. And if we speak and relate to people the way He did, whether in our homes, in our churches or in our places of employment, we can be a source of comfort, growth and encouragement to others. R o b R e n f r o e is the author of The Trouble With the Truth: Balancing Truth and Grace and A Way Through the Wilderness: Growing in Faith When Life Is Hard (both Abingdon Press). He serves as pastor of discipleship at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in Houston and is leader of the men’s Bible study Quest, attended by over 300 men. He is also president of Good News, a national organization committed to the doctrinal integrity and spiritual renewal of The United Methodist Church. © iStockphoto/Pali Rao
GRACE in the Arts
How faith in the Creator guides artistic direction
BY NATALIE GILLESPIE
eeking entertainment and inspiration, Americans invest significant time and money in the fine arts. But are the arts inspired by God? While the visual arts, dance, theater and music appeal to the emotions, do they also resonate with the spirit? And can we also find God’s grace in the art world? Answering these questions with a resounding “yes,” two unique Christian artists—Japanese-American artist Makoto Fujimura and Ballet Magnificat founder and artistic director Kathy Thibodeaux— have made it their life mission to integrate their gift for the arts with their belief in the sacred.
Painter Makoto Fujimura
Painter, author, speaker and “culture shaper” Fujimura dedicates his life to making art, and his art to the One who made him. “I tell people all the time that my life is proof that God exists, and He is an artist,” Fujimura said in a phone interview from his studio. “That I have been able to make a full-time living as an artist most of my life is an absolute miracle. I get to do something that is considered somewhat useless to society—create beauty—and God has sustained me and my family all this time.” Fujimura was born in Boston but spent much of his childhood in Japan. He found himself drawn to art from the time he was young, and his parents encouraged his Brad Guise
creativity, an attitude he calls “unusual” for an Asian family. Fujimura returned to the U.S. when he was 13, and in middle school, a substitute teacher made a comment that, unknowingly, laid the groundwork for the artist’s life’s calling. After observing a painting done by Fujimura as an adolescent, the teacher asked, “You can’t waste God’s gift, can you?” Although Fujimura was not raised in a religious family, the teacher’s words struck a chord. The artist says he always felt his ability was a gift, an unexplainable force that expressed itself through him. “I didn’t know it was God,” Fujimura says. “I didn’t know what to call it. I thought everybody had this experience, of something glowing through you like electricity. I feel that way in the studio still. It’s like it’s not yours but something happening right in front of you that’s so miraculous every time.” An artist and a scholar, Fujimura went to college in Pennsylvania and studied literature and the Bible in addition to his art. He went back to Japan and became the first non-native to participate in the Japanese
painting doctorate program that dates back to the 15th century. Throughout his studies, he learned about God but did not accept Christ as his Savior until his mid-20s. “My wife had a real renewal experience after we got married,” Fujimura says. “We went to Japan for me to study, and her spiritual searching really affected me. We ended up at an interdenominational church in Tokyo with some missionaries, and that’s when I heard about the Lord.” Fujimura chose to follow Christ and was baptized in 1986. As a result of his newfound faith, he says his artistic works also underwent a transformation. “Everything changes,” he says. “When you fix your gaze upon Jesus, your whole vantage point changes, why you do the things you do, what you’re looking at, how you love the materials you are using. Things change not just in one area but in everything you do.” Fujimura’s works, which often fuse abstract expressionism with the ancient Japanese art of Nihonga, have been displayed in galleries around the world. The artist has become a renowned speaker and January // February 2016 MinistryToday 35
Makoto Fujimura’s Four Holy Gospels paintings commissioned by Crossway were shown alongside historical printings of the King James Bible at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City.
“Art is a very powerful way to show the beauty of God to the world.”—Makoto Fujimura writer, lecturing at prominent universities such as Yale and Princeton. In 1992, he founded the International Arts Movement (IAM) and established the Fujimura Institute in New York City in 2011 to encourage collaboration among “artists and thinkers.” The American Academy of Religion named Fujimura the organization’s 2014 Religion and the Arts award recipient, and in fall 2015, he was asked to join Fuller Theological Seminary as director of the Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts. Fujimura’s goal is to “be part of a process of integrating theology, worship and the arts in a way that the world will rejoice in,” he says. “A lot of universities have abandoned theological inquiries,” Fujimura says. “They are trying to solve problems without the narrative that allows them to believe that theology can be counted. Part of our effort is to re-inject the theological back into poetry, the arts, the sciences. When you offer this point of integration, people find themselves kind of having this awakening experience. “We are to make things on this Earth, and that is somehow connected very mysteriously to the world beyond. We are artists of the kingdom regardless of what we are doing.” Fujimura says his writings, his speaking, 36 MinistryToday January // February 2016
his appointments and his business all come from the Lord. “I can tell you for sure that all of these things are not from me,” Fujimura says. “I am a very high introvert. I do not like to be on stage in front of anybody, and now I speak to very large audiences. But all of a sudden God presents an opportunity, and I pray, ‘Lord, if you want me to do this, I’m willing; but Your will be done.’ I have learned to be obedient.” Fujimura feels he was created with a gift of “reconciliation,” of bringing together faith, beauty, creativity and people of all walks, beliefs, generations and backgrounds in ways that mesh rather than clash. “Being a culture shaper is just being faithful to the call God has given you,” Fujimura says. “If you are faithful, you are shaping culture. In all of the work we do, we should feel as though we are a conduit connecting heaven to Earth with that movement happening through the Holy Spirit.” Fujimura admits there is significant darkness in the arts today, but he strongly believes Christians should not turn away from art because of that darkness. Instead, they should appreciate both the beauty and the brokenness. His 2014 book is called Culture Care, and he speaks often
on the need to bring faith back into the culture rather than turning away from it. “In the art world, people actually admit to their darkness, their brokenness,” he says. “That is what is so beautiful about it. Artists are often so candid and authentic; they don’t deny their brokenness. In art, there is no pretension that it is solving the problems. It is just an honest place, and I actually enjoy that openness. God cares about us deeply in the very brokenness where we are.” Fujimura says God has given him the gift of evangelism, and he loves artists’ willingness to ask hard questions. “One of the greatest joys of my life (is) to see God’s grace move in the eyes of broken people like me,” he says. “It’s not our work; it’s God’s work and the Spirit’s work. I am just there to be available.” Fujimura says artistry, creativity and beauty should be important to people because we are the creative expression of the ultimate Artist. “If you are not blown away by the very nature of how things work, then there is something wrong because the spirit is just allowed to sing with the ultimate Artist,” Fujimura says. “He created you and designed you, and I think that’s why there is something very transformative about the gift of art and transparent to what is going
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on inside the soul. This is what connects us to worship. Art is a very powerful way to show the beauty of God to the world.”
Ballerina Kathy Thibodeaux
Ballet Magnificat founder and artistic director Kathy Thibodeaux grew up dancing. As a girl from Mississippi, she also grew up in the church but quickly found out many churchgoers didn’t believe God approved of ballet. Yet Thibodeaux felt as though her ability to dance was bigger than herself. She knew it was a gift. “I think it’s every girl’s dream to be a ballerina when they grow up,” Thibodeaux says. Her dream came true. She was taught by a couple who had danced with the American Ballet Theater, and she worked hard at her craft, training for hours daily. “I kept studying all through my teenage years, and dancing became the god in my life,” Thibodeaux says. “I had kind of grown up going to church, but I didn’t really know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Dance took His place in my life. I thought dancing was going to make me happy.” Thibodeaux achieved what few young women do. As a teen, she went to New York City in the summers to study. Soon she began to dance professionally. She had reached the top, but she wasn’t satisfied. At 19, Thibodeaux met her husband-tobe, Keith. The two fell in love and married quickly, and it was Keith who introduced the young dancer to a real relationship with Christ. “He started telling me about Jesus, and I thought, being from the South, I was already a Christian,” Thibodeaux says. “But I didn’t know what it meant to have Jesus as Lord of my life. By grace, I was able to surrender my life and gift of dance.” Thibodeaux had peace with dance but soon began running into many Christians who didn’t. In the 1980s, Thibodeaux found herself under scrutiny by many believers. “I had Christians all around telling me I could not dance anymore because being a Christian and dancing don’t go together,” she says. “But when I sought the Lord and what He had for me, I felt like He had given me the gift of dance and didn’t want me to bury it. I wanted to lift up and praise His name with dancing to glorify Him.” Thibodeaux was dancing professionally 38 MinistryToday January // February 2016
Makoto Fujimura’s 1997 work, Sacrificial Grace
“I thought everybody had this experience, of something glowing through you like electricity. I feel that way in the studio still.”—Makoto Fujimura in Mississippi, but when her contract came up for renewal, she and her husband felt God was calling her to leave the company. The couple stepped out in faith and began praying about starting a Christian ballet company, something they had never even heard of, let alone know how to undertake. “We had never heard about other people dancing for Jesus and did not know what that was going to look like, but we knew we wanted to do it,” Thibodeaux says. When she left the ballet company, the decision made the newspapers, and a local university called and offered the couple office and studio space to help get their new venture started. She only knew one other Christian who was a dancer. “I called him and told him what we
wanted to do,” she says. “He gave me a number for another dancer, and I called her and told her about the vision for Ballet Magnificat. She said, ‘I’m coming.’ We didn’t know her. She didn’t know us, but we had the same vision.” Word got out about the little dance company that could, and Ballet Magnificat began to grow. “We started in 1986 with just a handful of dancers who had the same vision,” Thibodeaux says. “We had to practice, perform, book our own shows, address envelopes and mail them to different churches. We did it all with just that handful of dancers who came without a promise of any kind. We had no money for salaries. In the beginning, we would go to a church, and they’d give us a couple-hundred dollars, Makoto Fujimura
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Kathy Thibodeaux says that Ballet Magnificat has been performing for nearly 30 years “only by the grace of God.”
“We wouldn’t want to try to do anything on our own without the Holy Spirit giving us direction and understanding.”—Kathy Thibodeaux and we’d say to each other, ‘OK, who has a need?’ And we’d sort of split up any money we received that way. God just provided. We got to see Him work, see His miracles time and time again.” The company started traveling in a minivan to regional churches. They brought a home stereo system and performed for the Lord wherever He opened the door. “People said, ‘This won’t work,’ ” Thibodeaux says. “But we’ve been going almost 30 years now. We are here only by the grace of God, and He has blessed us more than we ever thought possible.” Today, Ballet Magnificat has two professional companies that travel internationally. The studio operates a well-known school of the arts, and dancers from across the nation come to the Jackson, Mississippi-based company to train. They choose about 40-42 dancers annually, and some go on to the touring companies. 40 MinistryToday January // February 2016
Ballet Magnificat has about 50 paid employees, including office staff and dancers. Its companies perform at churches, auditoriums and other venues. To make ends meet, Ballet Magnificat relies on honoraria and offerings from performances as well as on monthly donations. God has always provided. “We say we’re a miracle, that only by His grace, we’re still here,” Thibodeaux says. “Our prayer is always that we would decrease and He would increase. It is definitely our desire that God would get all the glory.” Thibodeaux says the influence of the Holy Spirit pervades the ballet company, from the administrative and business decisions to the way the company chooses and choreographs its shows. One powerful performance called The Hiding Place re-enacts the story of Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom.
“We couldn’t do it without the Holy Spirit, for sure, and we wouldn’t want to try to do anything on our own without the Holy Spirit giving us direction and understanding,” Thibodeaux says. She says Christians need to understand that dance and the arts can reach a place in people’s spirits that reasoning sometimes cannot. “It is hard to explain, but it transcends speaking,” Thibodeaux says. “When we dance, we are speaking with our whole body, soul and spirit to express our love for the Lord. God says if we lift Him up, He will draw all men to Himself. As we are in Him, He does the work in people’s lives.” N a t a l i e G i l l e s p i e is an award-winning author, editor and speaker. She lives with her family in St. Petersburg, Florida, and can be reached at email@example.com. © 2013 Shashank Shekhar
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Fielding Faith How following Christ makes a career in sports more than just a game
BY SHAWN A. AKERS
salm 37 didn’t mean much to Tim Brown during either his college football career or his early days in the National Football League. If it had, Brown says he believes he would have saved himself—and many others—a world of grief. Instead, Brown chose to submit to the seductions the life of a world-class athlete can present to an impressionable young man. Not only was he hurt by his naïveté about his “sexual conquests,” but so were many young women who crossed his path. It sent the wrong message to younger players who looked up to him. It was only when Brown completely surrendered his life to Jesus that he realized the impact his faith, as well as his influence as a professional athlete, could have on those who saw him as a role model. That responsibility is one some current and former professional athletes who profess Christ take very seriously. If Brown had only known then what he knows now, he says he could have spared many who associated with him a great deal of emotional pain. Now a surrendered follower of Jesus, Brown, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in late July, freely admits in his book, The Making of a Man: How Men and Boys Honor God and Live With Integrity, his past sexual addiction. He details how his addiction almost destroyed his life and caused
42 MinistryToday January // February 2016
“unfathomable” hurt to others, for which he felt deep remorse. “One of my favorite passages in the Bible is found in Psalm 37:23-24. It says, ‘The steps of a man are made firm by the Lord; He delights in his way. Though he falls, he will not be hurled down, for the Lord supports him with His hand.’ There was a time when I knew who Jesus was and what He expected of me, but I simply didn’t act the part. Drugs and alcohol never had any fascination for me, so those things were never a problem. “But women, well, that was a different subject. For me, that was a difficult thing to overcome. For me, it wasn’t one of those things where you can just go cold turkey or go into detox with a 12-step program. What I thought was fun and a good time was painful for many women who walked away crying because they want more of a relationship from me. For someone who claimed he knew Jesus, that’s bad.” Brown says he used to see his random sexual encounters during his four years at the University of Notre Dame and into his NFL career with the Los Angeles Raiders as simply the “perks” of his profession. He didn’t give a second thought to how he looked to children and younger adults or how it affected the women he dated—until God told him enough was enough. “God spoke to my heart,” Brown says. “I’ve got four sisters, and if anyone treated them like I treated some of these women, I would be ready to jump down someone’s throat. I realized
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I would have a daughter someday. God simply broke my heart to the point where I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. That allowed me to step up and be the man God wanted me to be and the example He needed me to be to others.”
guys know there is something missing in their lives. Some of these guys have come to know Christ, and I’m very happy that I might have played a small role in that along the way.”
Tempted by Lukewarm Living
As a world-class soccer player, Aurélien Collin says he bears the burden of excellence in representing his country on the field. Many in France take le football very seriously. Collin’s burden to represent God to his fellow countrymen, however, supersedes his patriotism for France—a nation that some believe has quietly experienced revival in recent years. “Jesus said in Matthew 5 that we should let our light shine before men,” says Collin, a defender for Major League Soccer’s Orlando City. “I certainly always give my best on the soccer field to make my country proud. That’s what I get paid for. “But when the spotlight is on you because of your status as an athlete and God has blessed you with talent, you had better make sure that you’re living right and acting in a Christlike manner at all times. You’ve got a lot of people looking at you, and you had better make sure you’re trying to live a life according to God’s Word. You will be held accountable for that.” Brown, Tillman, Watson and Collin preach about integrity and how influential athletes must walk in it. It’s an area of life in which six-time world-champion boxer Robert Guerrero refuses to compromise.
Carolina defensive back Charles Tillman says he can relate to Brown’s lukewarmness as a professed Christ follower. Although saved, Tillman never lived in complete surrender to Jesus until 2008, when his daughter Tiana needed a heart transplant. It took dire circumstances, but Tillman, who then played for the Chicago Bears, put everything in his life at the feet of Jesus, including his Christian witness to others. “In Matthew 28, Jesus told His friends to go and make disciples of all nations,” says Tillman, a two-time Pro Bowl selection and the NFL’s 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year. “That’s something everyone should take seriously. But when you’re in a position of influence, and I’m saying that with all humility, you’ve got to see it as a commitment to God. “I’ve got some teammates who don’t want to have anything to do with ‘that Jesus,’ but I love on them anyway and try to be the best example I can be to them. Then you’ve got others who are looking for more in their lives than just making a lot of money and playing football. They are genuinely interested in what you have to say, and that’s when you’ve got a tremendous opportunity to bring another soul into the kingdom. I love and thank the Lord for those opportunities.” New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson, a 12-year NFL veteran who has earned the respect of his teammates as a mentor for younger players, is thankful for a similar role. “As an older player, a veteran, I’ve had many chances to have in-depth conversations about Christ with a lot of guys on our team and on other teams in the league,” says Watson, who won a Super Bowl as a rookie with New England in 2004. “I take it as a great responsibility to talk to them about their marriages, their girlfriends, their children, their faith and other things. “I’m at a place where I don’t mind being a jerk and challenging them in places where other people won’t. Some of these 44 MinistryToday January // February 2016
Feeling the Burden of a Nation
Declining a Lucrative Deal
As a disciple of Christ, Guerrero knows well that his personal life comes under a great deal of scrutiny. After he discovered fame and fortune, he promised God he would never do anything to disgrace the gospel. In 2011, shortly after he became the first of three fighters in history to win both featherweight and welterweight world titles, Golden Boy Promotions offered Guerrero a substantial amount of money to have his likeness appear in advertisements for Corona beer. Guerrero quickly declined the deal. “Robert is the real deal when it comes to his relationship with Jesus Christ,” says Bob Santos, Guerrero’s manager. “That was a lucrative promotion he turned down,
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and I knew immediately what the answer was going to be when I called him about it. His character really amazes me.” The decision, Guerrero says, wasn’t difficult. In fact, it was obvious. “That’s not something you even have to pray about because you know full well what the right thing to do is,” he says. “I don’t believe it’s something God would have approved of. My wife (Casey) fully supported me in the decision. It could have meant a lot for me and my family financially, but honoring God means so much more to me than those things.”
Aiming for a Greater Reward
To keep Brown on the straight path, it took other Scriptures such as Proverbs 11:18. “A wicked person earns deceptive wages, but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.” Even after he laid down some of the things preventing him from enjoying a more intimate relationship with Christ, he continued to struggle with other sins, including pride and covetousness. While
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other players were showered with lucrative endorsement deals, some companies were hesitant to approach Brown because of his “clean-cut image.” “After I began living the saved life, I still felt sorry for myself at times because I felt like I wasn’t getting enough recognition; I wasn’t being allowed to do certain things,” Brown says. “I was turned down for several appearances and promotional campaigns because people said I was too clean. “God quickly reminded me that my reward may not come on this side of heaven. To get the reward I really wanted, I knew I needed to keep living right. I reminded myself that many people are rich and famous, but how are they acting? What are they doing? I needed to keep myself in situations where I knew exactly what God wanted me to do.”
Living by God’s Standard
Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren believes every Christian needs to be consistent in his character. “Integrity demands that every area of
your life is treated with the same intensity,” Warren says. “A person of integrity doesn’t act one way in church and another way at work and another way on the golf course.” Brown says athletes who profess the name of Christ must be consistent with their behavior in the locker room, on the field and off the field. In other words, athletes must heed 2 Corinthians 4:2 daily, which says, “But we have renounced the secret things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by expressing the truth and commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” “Whether you like it or not, people hold you to a different standard,” Brown says. “God also holds you to a different standard. ‘Come out from among them and be ye separate,’ His Word says. Whether you’re an athlete or waiter or a policeman, that’s what the Lord demands. Live out what you say.” S h a w n A . A k e r s is the online managing editor for Charisma Media.
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Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible From the Pulpit
he entire Bible—from “In the beginning” to “Amen”—sings of one overarching story, like a multipart ensemble supporting one another’s voices in a unified oratorio. In it, we see God’s manifold wisdom displayed as a multifaceted, beautiful tapestry of truth and love. No color is missing. No voice is flat. Unfortunately, pastors in the American church have too often cherry-picked from the Scriptures those warm and fuzzy verses that make us feel good. In so doing, we functionally ignore the other “difficult” or “embarrassing” portions, leaving them behind. To be sure, the Bible is full of passages that make many of us blush and squirm: Israelites stoned adulterers, God told Israel to kill whole people groups, and Jesus taught that people go to hell. All of 48 MinistryToday January // February 2016
BY BRIAN COSBY these texts (and many more) have led some to simply abandon Scripture altogether. But for those pastors who truly affirm that “all Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Tim. 3:16) for our profit, joy, knowledge and salvation through Christ, we humbly embrace the entire Bible. Or do we? Not long ago, as I flipped through the Psalms in my Bible, I noticed something disturbing. I had underlined and highlighted those passages that communicated God’s steadfast love, His gracious care and the joyful praise of His people. At times, my red pen seemed to hum along in a triumphal ink-letting until I hit, “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God” (Ps. 139:19). That’s when it stopped. My pen did a hop, skip and jump to “and lead me in the way everlasting” (v. 24). Looking through other portions of my Bible, I noticed the
same trend. From Genesis to Malachi, Matthew to Revelation, it seemed as though I didn’t want to read the offensive and edgy. I didn’t want to ponder the scientific improbability of the sun standing still (Josh. 10:13) or why the man with crushed testicles wasn’t allowed to enter the assembly of worship (Deut. 23:1). It seemed as though I wanted to run from the historical creation account of Adam and Eve like those loonies running from the bulls in Pamplona. Am I embarrassed by the Bible?
Cherry-Picking the Scriptures
Many self-professing Christians today cherry-pick the Scriptures for a feel-good faith without realizing they’re doing it— and their pastors don’t help. This type of churchgoing, John 3:16-affirming picker © iStockphoto/Peter Booth
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“When we as pastors censor the Scriptures for a feel-good faith, we snub the authority of Christ.”
is oftentimes “functionally embarrassed” by the Bible. We’re not openly or blatantly embarrassed by Scripture, but we functionally reveal our embarrassment of the truth of the Bible by affirming, discussing, quoting and preaching only certain passages while overlooking many others. Let me give you a few examples. Some of these onward-Christian pickers march into cultural wars with their unashamed condemnation of one or two social evils (such as homosexuality or abortion) to cover up their functional embarrassment of other offensive and seemingly archaic portions of the Bible. Others simply don’t see the inconsistency. For example, what does a red-letter edition of the Bible really communicate? For many, it subconsciously communicates the lie that the words of Jesus are more important than other inspired words in the biblical text. My daughter loves the Berenstain Bears books, especially The Forgiving Tree. When we read before bed, she often reaches for this book. Not long ago, I opened the cover and read, “For if you forgive men when they sin against 50 MinistryToday January // February 2016
you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Bring out the fuzzies! It’s a wonderful quote from Matthew 6:14. But notice that the publisher left out the second part of Jesus’s instruction: “But if you do not forgive men for their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins” (v. 15). Ouch. You see, it’s fine to rally around the glowing reminder that our heavenly Father forgives us when we sin, and we should! But we don’t want the nagging reminder that if we don’t (or won’t) forgive others, God won’t forgive us. Several years ago, I was invited to speak at a conference for a church in Philadelphia. As I engaged in worship with their community, I noticed something rather unusual, at least to me. The people stood for the reading of the Bible out of reverence for God’s Word (which I loved!) but only for readings from the Gospels. When they read from an Old Testament passage or from one of Paul’s epistles, they remained seated. Was it because Luke’s account of the life of Jesus was “holier” than Genesis, a book that Jesus Himself considered inspired text?
When I asked my host why we stood for only the Gospel readings, he said he didn’t know. It hadn’t even crossed his mind. As a “recovering picker” myself, I’m not suggesting that you join your local chapter of Pickers Anonymous (if there were such a thing). But I am suggesting that we take an honest evaluation of ourselves as pastors before God.
Making God in Our Image
One of the main areas that we “censor” in the Bible is the full character of God. From a casual survey of the American landscape, it seems that we like certain attributes of God (His love, grace and so on) but not others. Many self-professing Christians prefer a tame, cuddly, grandpa-like god to God as revealed in the pages of Scripture. We’re embarrassed when we read that God “shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked” (Is. 11:4). Then—like a televised version of an R-rated movie—we bleep out the bad parts, “creating” a new god in the process. Sometimes pastors are as guilty of © iStockphoto/STILLFX
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this as their church members. But we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) not the other way around. He is the Creator, and we are the creation. He is the Potter, and we are the clay. By His grace, He molds and forms us into the likeness and holiness of His Son. Oh, how the American church and its leadership need to reclaim a God-centered faith—one that begins with the freedom and glory of God, not the freedom and glory of man. Again, we may not intentionally aim to censor the Scriptures, but we functionally do this without realizing it. We functionally proclaim the half-counsel of God.
Swinging for the Fence
Growing up, I had what you might call a “little-man” complex. My friends labeled me “Small Fry” at an early age, and I made it my mission to prove them wrong. While I loved soccer and running—which came naturally to me—I wanted to play baseball. But because I lacked the natural faculty to stay calm and stationary, my dad (rightly) insisted that I get my energy out running after a soccer ball rather than standing in the outfield and waiting for a ball to come my way. Thus, my high school baseball career found an outlet in PE class. During PE, the students converged on the diamond to choose teams, which I hated. Yes, I was that nervous last pick, impatiently waiting for the makeshift draft to end. When I stepped up to the plate, however, I wanted to overcome my little-man complex, and so I would swing with all my might. I believed in swinging for the fence—go big or go home—but I always struck out. Many Christians today believe in swinging for the fence. They want to be passionate, “sold-out,” radical followers of Jesus, but they’re giving their all for the wrong god. Just because some people are passionate doesn’t mean their lifestyles are healthy or right. You can be passionate about all sorts of unhealthy, harmful things, such as mullets, porn or the mysterious McRib sandwich. When we invent a god in our image—like a divine buddy who is at times weak, pouty and needy— we are no longer talking about the God of the Bible. A number of years ago, my wife and I bought a house in Atlanta—one that the real estate agent called a “handyman 52 MinistryToday January // February 2016
special.” She told us that the “bones” were structurally sound; it just needed some TLC. With my handy-dandy DeWalt drill in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, I got to work! The daunting project, however, quickly became a fund-raising program for my local Home Depot. Despite my lack of carpentry and plumbing skills, I felt empowered by Home Depot’s slogan, “You can do it. We can help.” I kept telling myself, “I can do it!” My wife wasn’t so sure. It’s a bad day, however, when the church begins taking its theology from a home-improvement store. I sometimes listen to sermons from TV preachers or skim through their New York Times bestsellers, and when I do, I seem to hear Home Depot’s slogan in the back of my head, but with a twist: “You can do it. God can help.” The message in many of these sermons, books and blogs is simple: You and your efforts can earn God’s blessing. If you’re in a pickle, just pull yourself out (what the Reformers might have called sola bootstrapia!). With a dash of God’s help and a sprinkle of Dr. Phil, you can achieve anything! If you just have enough faith, God will reward you with health, wealth and prosperity. That’s right, friend (cough), no harm will come to you if you really believe in Jesus! Try selling that to Jesus’ disciples. Home Depot theology, simply put, is idolatry—magnifying the gifts of God
above the Giver Himself. It’s like the prodigal son wanting his father’s possessions but not the father. In the end, the subtle “You can do it; God can help,” message puts the positive spin of self-help in the place of Scripture, covering it up like a fig leaf. But we need to teach our people that God is not their co-pilot. Jesus doesn’t take the wheel when we hit a patch of ice. Our Lord isn’t standing outside in the cold and rain just waiting for you to bring Him in. He’s El Shaddai, God Almighty, who lives and reigns as the sovereign and selfsufficient triune God of all eternity. He uses His disciples in His mission on earth not because He needs us but because He loves us.
Embracing the Whole Counsel
The apostle Paul proclaimed, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). He preached Christ crucified from both easy and difficult texts of Scripture because he understood that—while the Holy Spirit led him to communicate God’s revealed will (2 Pet. 1:21, 3:15-16)—he was not the arbiter of truth. Paul’s task was not to censor the Scriptures in hopes that people would be saved by hearing a partial gospel; his task was to preach the whole counsel of God because “faith comes from Lightstock
“Pastors need to put to death our fear of man—to be accepted by the world—and return to a right fear of God, who didn’t waste words when He gave us His Word.” hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). When we as pastors censor the Scriptures for a feel-good faith, we snub the authority of Christ. When I question or decide which passages to preach on, I can miss out on the truth that sets my church free. When we avoid the biblical practice of church discipline, for example, we miss out on the joy of seeing wayward sinners reclaimed or seeing Christ establishing greater peace and purity in His bride. When we avoid the doctrine of hell in our preaching and teaching, we miss the experience of gratitude for what we are saved from and the hope of what we are saved for. Jesus didn’t call us to a halfhearted, partially committed, self-empowering journey called “Christianity”; He called us to deny ourselves, take up His cross 54 MinistryToday January // February 2016
and follow Him (Luke 9:23). This is nothing less than the electric chair for our flesh. Pastors need to put to death our fear of man—to be accepted by the world—and return to a right fear of God, who didn’t waste words when He gave us His Word. Jesus calls us into an upsidedown kingdom, where we die to live, give up to gain and worship a King who wore a crown of thorns not gold. Embracing the entire Bible acknowledges Him as the everlasting author of truth, the Bulwark never failing. The beauty of the gospel is that our sin is no match for God’s grace. Pastor, if you’ve been guilty (as I have) of censoring the Scriptures in your preaching and teaching, you can take rest in the promise that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
(Rom. 8:1). Take up your dwelling in the promises of God, humbly confess your sin and thankfully receive His forgiveness— maybe even search out those difficult passages and set up camp beside them. Ask God’s Spirit to teach you new and wonderful things in His Word, and share them with your congregation. And as the old hymn reminds us, “The things of this world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” B r i a n C o s b y serves as senior pastor of Wayside Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, and is a visiting professor of church history at Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta. He is the author of numerous books, including Uncensored: Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible (David C Cook, 2015). © iStockphoto/David Clark
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PLEASURE Lessons from Chick-fil-A on cultivating commitment to the cause
BY DEE ANN TURNER
ultivating a spirit of commitment versus a command to compliance reaps continuous rewards, especially in employee loyalty. Compliant employees will do exactly what you ask. The employee value proposition with this relationship is simple and transactional. The employer pays the employee an agreed-on wage to execute agreed-on tasks. If the employee is internally motivated, then he or she will complete work exactly as asked. If the employee is not internally motivated, then the employer will constantly have to remind the employee of the rules, requirements and responsibilities. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a miserable way to operate a business. Thankfully, there is a better way. When a leader is able to get a team member to commit to an organization, the employee value proposition is something very different. The team member not only does what the leader asks but also expends discretionary effort. The leader, in return, commits to the development and growth of the employee. This creates a cycle of commitment between the leader and the employee. The more the leader invests in the committed employee, the more the employee knows and can contribute. The more the employee contributes, the more committed he or she is to the business. That higher level of commitment translates to a greater contribution. The perpetuation of this cycle grows the business in exponential ways. How does compliance play out on a daily basis? Employees generally do only what is necessary. Because selection is generally a weakness of the compliance-driven manager, most of the employees they hire are also compliance-driven and do not 56 MinistryToday January // February 2016
exhibit a trait of being internally motivated to do more. If the employee is doing only what they are told to do and only what is necessary, they are not looking for ways to further please the customer. If the manager is focused only on transactions and not on customer service and satisfaction, the employee is not thinking about serving the customers’ true needs either. In this model, somebody is usually “chewed out” each day and turnover is frequent.
Commitment, on the other hand, looks very different. Leaders encourage employees to anticipate and meet guest needs, even when there is no procedure in place. It’s more than just showing up at work on time in proper uniform. At a quick-service restaurant, this might be holding an umbrella over guests returning to their car in the rain, changing a guest’s tire or driving for miles to return an item left by a guest at the restaurant. In return, the leader takes a personal interest in each team member, understanding opportunities for growth and the team member’s personal and professional aspirations and dreams. Leaders who coach for commitment instead of merely compliance invest more to prevent people problems rather than incurring the expense of having to solve people problems. Committed members of your team build the brand of a business. Compliant employees, at most, barely protect a brand. It may take more skill and intention to lead committed staff, but it is also a lot more fun. Committed team members create committed teams, and committed teams become winning teams. If you want to lead a winning team, seek commitment from team members rather © iStockphoto/PaCondryx
than compliance from employees. I have seen both of these employee value propositions in action. The first one reminds me of a summer job that one of my sons had a few years ago. He worked for a lawn care business where the boss required compliance and rarely received commitment. My son learned more from observing his behavior as an owner than
were there less than 40 minutes. As usual, they placed the bill for service under the doormat. After they left, I looked at the bill. They checked the boxes for numerous tasks they did not perform. It would have taken at least two hours to do all of the things they claimed. Unfortunately, this is the common behavior of employees who work for a boss who requires compliance
“If the employee is doing only what they are told to do and only what is necessary, they are not looking for ways to further please the customer.” he learned about maintaining lawns. Since we also were customers of this lawn care business, we had a unique perspective of understanding the owner as a boss and seeing the results of his management. Yes, it would have been far less expensive to cut out the middleman and have our son care for the lawn, but then he would have missed some valuable lessons. Bob was the owner of this business, and he was not very selective in his hiring, which was his first mistake if he was expecting anything more than compliance from his employees. My son’s training was a one-week experience as a ride-along with his manager, Barry. Relationship beyond that was nonexistent between Bob and his employees. He chewed them out regularly for failing to meet his and the customer’s expectations, and firings were frequent. Bob’s insistence to lead his employees by fear caused them to be disgruntled and demotivated, and it often showed in their work. They had no commitment to Bob, the customers or their work. My son was partnered, for the entire summer, with Barry, which was fortunate because he learned how to do things right. It also meant his days were much longer because not only did he and Barry take more care with the lawns they maintained, they often had to go back to other customers at the end of the day to correct the poor efforts of other employees. One day, I had the opportunity to observe this in action. The lawn maintenance crew arrived for its weekly care of our lawn and did not know I was sitting on the porch. I watched as they mowed the small lawn and clipped a few shrubs. They 58 MinistryToday January // February 2016
rather than nurturing commitment. Employees do only what they have to do, and sometimes only what they can get away with, so not only does the customer suffer—eventually, so does the business.
On the other hand, over the years, I have observed Chick-fil-A Operators who are masters at nurturing commitment. Their efforts are storied throughout the history of our company. The stories include an Operator in Atlanta who has an extremely multicultural team with over 20 different nationalities represented. Understanding that the team needs to work together effectively, he makes a point of nurturing relationships by inviting them to his house for dinner. When their families visit from their home country, he often invites them to dinner as well. One of his employees from Kenya eventually became an Operator of his own Chick-fil-A restaurant. Operators have provided their own scholarships for team members (in addition to the Chick-fil-A Leadership Scholarship offered by Chick-fil-A), taken their teams on outings to theme parks and ski retreats, provided limousines for their team members on prom night and a host of other generous gestures to build the commitment level of team members. In return, team members have rewarded Operators with unprecedented commitment to guests. Commitment starts at the restaurant level, but prevails throughout our business. Late one afternoon, an Operator called the warehouse at the Chick-fil-A corporate office for a badly needed
equipment part. Not only did the warehouse employee quickly locate the part, she drove over 200 miles round trip that afternoon and evening to get the part quickly to the Operator. Twenty or more years ago, Hurricane Opal came up the East Coast. In its path, Atlanta suffered a great deal of damage. At our office, we lost power and fallen trees covered our three-quarter-mile driveway into our property. For the most part, Atlanta was shut down on this particular day. However, a Chick-fil-A Operator candidate had driven through the storm to make it to our office for his interview. One of our Human Resources staff knew the importance of being at the office to meet the candidate. Her husband drove her to the entrance of the driveway, and she climbed over fallen trees and debris for the three-quarters-ofa-mile trek to the building. By the time the candidate arrived, our fabulous groundsmaintenance crew had cleared the debris and trees, but the efforts of this employee to get to work had been nothing less than heroic. So how do these investments translate into success? In Chick-fil-A’s case, Operators have produced one of the lowest team member turnover rates in the industry. The Operator retention rate spanning nearly 50 years is 96 percent. The corporate staff retention rate has consistently remained at 95-97 percent over the same time span. Most notably, Chick-fil-A has experienced a sales increase of more than 10 percent almost every year it has been in existence. Commitment breeds commitment and produces phenomenal business results. Commitment among employees is a catalyst for growth—of the individuals and the business. Fostering people’s dreams catapults the business into a whole new realm. D e e A n n T u r n e r is vice president, corporate talent, for Chick-fil-A. Along with serving on the boards of The Kenya Project and Proverbs 31 Ministries, she is active with a variety of family-focused missions. Learn more at deeannturner.com.
Taken from It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture by Dee Ann Turner Copyright © 2015. Used by permission of Elevate Publishing (elevatepub.com).
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USING SPIRITUAL GIFTS
Examining the ministry role of Christians at work
ost working Christians spend the majority of their waking hours in a for-profit business setting. Yet many marketplace Christians are unaware that the Holy Spirit has given them spiritual gifts to be used primarily in the marketplace—not only in the context of a local church or charity. Sadly, many marketplace Christians are unaware of the spiritual gifts entrusted to them for fulfilling the 60 MinistryToday January // February 2016
BY DARREN SHEARER disciple-making and world-transforming mission of the church. In local churches that help marketplace Christians to identify their spiritual gifts, the typical “spiritual gifts assessment” is being used almost entirely for the purpose of assigning these believers as volunteers to serve in their various in-house programs. For example, those who score high in the spiritual gift of “hospitality” often are appointed as greeters at the front door of the church Sunday morning. Those who score high in the gifts of
“service” or “helps” often are expected to use their gift primarily to help with duties such as setup and cleanup around the church campus. Shouldn’t marketplace Christians also be equipped to use their spiritual gifts in the marketplace where they spend most of their time and have the most influence? Often, Christian teaching about “marketplace ministry” primarily emphasizes the application of timeless principles in business (e.g., Proverbs) and the need © iStockphoto/Yuri_Arcurs
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to provide generous financial support for Christian-themed charities. Yes, these things are important, but what do we mean when we say, “Christians working in business should view their work as ministry”? What does it look like to engage in ministry in a business setting?
Equipped for the Marketplace
A significant part of ministering in the marketplace involves exercising our spiritual gifts, the tools God has given to marketplace Christians for spreading the awareness of His glory throughout our workplaces and beyond. Hundreds of millions of marketplace Christians must be equipped with an understanding of their spiritual gifts and how to use them for
ministry in a business setting. In this way, the saints will be “equipped for the work of ministry,” enabling them to fulfill the disciple-making, world-transforming mission of the church (Eph. 4:12). Certainly, all Christians should offer their spiritual gifts in a way that helps their local churches create outstanding services and excellent programs. This is an essential part of transforming our communities and discipling nations. However, marketplace Christians are called to use their spiritual gifts to fulfill the mission of the church primarily in the marketplace. The business world is where the unbelievers are, where approximately 85 percent of Christians spend the majority of their waking hours, where evangelism and
“Marketplace Christians are called to use their spiritual gifts to fulfill the mission of the church primarily in the marketplace.”
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discipleship can happen on a daily basis and where the culture is shaped. Today, marketplace Christians all over the world are using their spiritual gifts for ministry in business. Consider these real-life examples: hh Real-estate developer with the gift of faith hh Business consultant with the gift of intercessory prayer hh Professional athlete with the gift of healing hh Author with the gift of worship hh Department store owner with the gift of hospitality hh Venture capitalist with the gift of cross-cultural ministry hh Manufacturing CEO with the gift of compassion
Operating With Special Abilities
Most of us would agree that a nonChristian cannot operate with the spiritual gifts of miracle-working and healing, two gifts that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 12. At the same time, few of us would say a non-Christian cannot operate with the gifts of administration or leadership, which also are listed as gifts in the Bible (1 Cor. 12:28; Rom. 12:8). It is true that many Fortune 500 companies are run by non-Christians who possess extraordinary administrative and leadership abilities. So is there even a difference between natural abilities and spiritual gifts? Are Christians supposed to be doing business in the marketplace with natural abilities, with spiritual gifts or with both? Should it be mostly one or the other? The following are six ways in which natural abilities differ from spiritual gifts: hh Spiritual gifts are only for born-again Christians. hh Spiritual gifts are gifts to the church through individuals. hh Spiritual gifts are fueled by the fruit of the Spirit. hh Spiritual gifts are governed and directed by the Holy Spirit. hh Spiritual gifts enable us to worship God through our work. hh Spiritual gifts can produce eternal results and rewards. In short, a spiritual gift is a special ability given by the Holy Spirit through a © iStockphoto/svetikd
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born-again Christian to the people of God for the purpose of spreading the awareness of the glory of God throughout the earth.
Activating ‘Varieties of Gifts’
Once we realize spiritual gifts also are needed in the marketplace, we must activate the “varieties of gifts” that have been entrusted to marketplace Christians (1 Cor. 12:4). Although marketplace ministry often is defined through the lens of one particular spiritual gift, the ministry has many different expressions beyond the ones that come most naturally. For example, one whose primary spiritual gifts are serving as a pastor and exercising compassion likely would view marketplace ministry as a calling to care for the personal needs of his employees and co-workers as a chaplain would. Marketplace chaplaincy organizations such as Corporate Chaplains of America and Marketplace Chaplains USA are doing outstanding work for God’s kingdom in this regard. But this is only Call 800.504.5278 or visit us online at SouthUniversity.edu
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one expression of marketplace ministry. One whose primary spiritual gift as a marketplace Christian is apostleship might tend to view ministry in the marketplace as a calling to become like the Old Testament’s Joseph, Daniel or Esther, rising to the upper echelons of the “seven mountains of culture” to make a transformational impact for God’s kingdom. This popular emphasis of marketplace ministry is yet another unique expression of what God is doing in the business world. A marketplace Christian whose dominant spiritual gift is evangelism probably would be more inclined than most other marketplace Christians to evangelize in his workplace. We all are called to lead others into the saving knowledge of Jesus, but for some, this is their most prominent spiritual gift. An individual with the gifts of miracle-working and healing might say that marketplace ministry is about pursuing supernatural signs and wonders in a business setting. Andy Mason leads an
“Hundreds of millions of marketplace Christians must be equipped with an understanding of their spiritual gifts and how to use them for ministry in a business setting.” organization named Heaven in Business at Bethel Church in Redding, California, which trains marketplace Christians to use these gifts in the marketplace. A marketplace Christian with the spiritual gift of cross-cultural ministry likely would view marketplace ministry as a calling to reach foreign lands with the gospel. The relatively new phrase, “business as mission,” is the tagline
for how this spiritual gift operates in the international business world. International businessman and author Ken Eldred emphasizes this aspect of marketplace ministry as he finances and builds multimillion-dollar “kingdom businesses” in India and China to transform these nations with the gospel. To fulfill Jesus’ mandate to “make disciples of all nations,” all of the church’s spiritual gifts must be activated. Can you imagine the impact that could be made if every marketplace Christian identified his spiritual gifts, understood how to use them for ministry in a business setting and used them every day in the marketplace? D a r r e n S h e a r e r is the author of three books, including The Marketplace Christian: A Practical Guide to Using Your Spiritual Gifts in Business, which includes a spiritual gifts assessment for marketplace Christians. He is the podcast host and lead blogger for Theology of Business (theologyofbusiness .com) and is CEO of High Bridge Books.
GRACE & TRUTH In the Scriptures, we see that God’s people often went through wilderness experiences, and these experiences changed them in profound ways. In our own lives, a wilderness experience could be the loss of a loved one, a financial or health crisis, divorce or some other painful experience—when we see no end in sight and wonder how we can make it through another day.
With sensitivity and warmth, Rob Renfroe explores the wilderness experience—what it is, how we get there, why God allows it and how we can get through it God’s way so that we learn the lessons He has for us, lessons that can be learned only in the desolate seasons of life when we are totally dependent on God. The book can also be used as part of a six session study with a DVD featuring Rob Renfroe and comprehensive Leader Guide sold separately.
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Our culture tells us that we cannot be people of conviction and compassion—that we must choose one or the other. Using the example of Jesus, Rob Renfroe shows committed Christians that we can and must balance grace and truth in our lives and in our witness. You will learn how our culture wrongly defines tolerance and distorts what it means to be nonjudgmental. The Trouble with the Truth will help you understand why truth is under attack and how you can respond the way Jesus would.
January // February 2016 MinistryToday 65
How my education prepared me to follow the Holy Spirit in the corporate world
f you had told me eight years ago God would use the study of business to reveal His heart for me and draw me closer to Him, I probably would have given you an eye roll. This tends to be my go-to response when I think something is a bit too far reaching. My husband loves it! At 17, I left Orange County, California, for Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I pursued a marketing degree and became the goalkeeper on the women’s NCAA Division I soccer team at Oral Roberts University (ORU). Despite
66 MinistryToday January // February 2016
BY AMANDA BARBOSA being a focus of attention on the soccer field, I struggled a bit with feeling invisible, as though people weren’t seeing me for who I was. I always felt misunderstood.
Limited by Perceptions
My first two years at ORU were hard because this feeling became even more pronounced. People tended to treat me and respond to me according to the person they perceived me to be, which was often heavily influenced by my role as a goalkeeper. It was not uncommon
that I be referred to as “intense” and “intimidating” along with a few other choice words. In fact, one of my college coaches admitted my senior night that he was somewhat afraid of me. This perception worked well for me on the field but was limiting in other areas. Not only was I hampered by the perception others had of me, but I was limited by my own self-perception. Living within these limitations and being a bit of a perfectionist, I decided if I couldn’t do something perfectly, I probably shouldn’t try it at all. » © iStockphoto/Mamuka Gotsiridze
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“Now that I have stepped into my career as a marketer, my experience with someone who believed in me has served as an example of how I can be a conduit of God’s love in the workplace.”
In my third year at ORU, I took a class taught by the dean of the School of Business, and he saw the real me. He saw things I didn’t see in myself and called those things out, challenging me to be more than I thought was possible. For example, I once found myself speaking in front of a room packed with top-level executives from Fortune 500 companies. But I am that girl who once walked out of my vocal recital mid-song! Standing up in front of a room of people is not my forté. In the pursuit of excellence while studying business, the dean helped me discover what it means to be seen not according to what I do but rather according to the fullness of my heart—to be seen as Christ sees me. “For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). 68 MinistryToday January // February 2016
Abiding in Christ
Having been truly seen, I was challenged to become the person the dean believed me to be. Outside of my comfort zone, I discovered glimpses of God’s purpose for my life, full awareness of my self-doubt and shortcomings—and just how much I needed more of Jesus. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Now that I have stepped into my career as a marketer, my experience with someone who believed in me has served as an example of how I can be a conduit of God’s love in the workplace. In a field where relationships make the world go round, I have endless opportunity to see people through God’s eyes—for who they really are—not allowing my perception of them to be based on how they present themselves but rather to be defined by
who they are in the eyes of Christ. Relying on the Holy Spirit for this insight into the hearts of the people I am privileged to work with, I am able to be wise in the way I act toward those whom God places in my life. I can make the most of every opportunity by having grace for the moment and to speak in a way that is more easily received (Col. 4:5-6). As I grow as a business leader, I will continue to depend upon the Spirit to provide wisdom and insight in order to achieve what He has called me to both professionally and relationally. A m a n d a B a r b o s a is customer acquisition and public relations manager at a women’s activewear company in Santa Monica, California. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Oral Roberts University, where she also obtained her MBA and was a NCAA Division I athlete.
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Ask a Pastor
Bubba Justice offers a practical apprenticeship program to train new ministers
ubba Justice, senior pastor at Inverness Vineyard Church in Birmingham, Alabama (invernessvineyard.org), recently talked with Managing Editor Christine Johnson about his apprenticeship program, a practical training program that pastors can run in a church of any size. The two-year program allows churches to train ministers without having to form a school while also using those ministers as volunteers in all areas of operation. Volunteers are training in six systems: church finances, Sunday morning (weekend service) celebraBubba Justice tions, small groups, connecting/assimilation, working with volunteers and evangelism/outreach. Training in each of the six systems lasts four months. Johnson: Tell us about your congregation and how it started. Justice: We were started in 1994 as a church plant out of the Birmingham Vineyard. Prior to that, I had been a volunteer pastor and did every single job in the church, so when it came time to be a pastor, I had experience in all the different arenas of the church. Our church has planted six different churches. Now we’ve got about 400-450 active people. On any given Sunday around 300 people attend, and we’re heavily engaged in ministry to the poor and missions, church planting and evangelism. Johnson: What kind of training did you undergo to prepare for the pastorate? Justice: In 1983, I went to Bible college for one year, Southeastern Bible College in Birmingham. While I was in school, I really felt like I needed to have a little bit more life experience and practical experience to be a pastor in the church and felt like the Holy Spirit told me to go and get a business degree. At the same time, I had been listening to Peter Wagner, and Peter Wagner had said the very best way for a person to be trained as a pastor would be to go spend 10 years at a local church and work in every department of the local church. So I did a dual thing in that I went and got an accounting degree—I’m a CPA—but simultaneously, I did everything that a paid pastor would do. I rotated through every ministry of the church but the worship team—and they wouldn’t let me go on the worship team! … Once I started pastoring this church, I went to seminary at Birmingham Theological Seminary in Birmingham. It was an extension center out of Jackson, Mississippi, so I went and got a master’s degree in biblical studies. Johnson: As a pastor, what burdens you, and what energizes you? Justice: It energizes me to see people experience God’s
70 MinistryToday January // February 2016
destiny for their lives. I was in a pastors breakfast one time, and one of the pastors asked, “What do you want God to say to you on the Day of Judgment?” My response was, “I want God to say to me you helped every person in your church fulfill the destiny I have for them on their lives,” so that’s what really energizes me. Anytime we do something evangelistic, missions oriented or leadership, those all energize me. What drags me down is when people argue over unimportant issues or things that aren’t essential for the kingdom of God. If someone gets upset because someone doesn’t worship the way they do, that really drains me. Johnson: Did you start the apprenticeship program, and how many churches are using it? Justice: It’s something that we started. In the Vineyard, instead of having one prescribed way of training church planters, there are four or five different churches that are advocating several different ways to train church planters. We have had interns from Fuller Seminary, and we’ve had two or three interns from Beeson Divinity School, and I’ve had an intern from Princeton Seminary. What was important to me in talking to these interns and talking with other pastors who had internships was that there wasn’t any structure to the internships necessarily. … Even in my own experience as a volunteer pastor, anything that I picked up wasn’t intentional on the part of the person who was mentoring me. I’ve done a lot of reading over the years, been exposed to a lot of people who talk about the structure of the church, and it basically boils down to … most churches have some basic systems that you’ve got to have operational for the church to be successful. With my reading, in my seminary training and my year in Bible college, nowhere did they actually get into the practical, “How do you do this on a day-to-day basis of running a church?” Through prayer, through contemplation, and through study, I said I want to set up an apprenticeship program and, talking with several other pastors, determined that a person really could get the idea and learn and be familiar enough with something after four months of immersion into a specific area of the church. Another thing that is really important to me about this is that a lot of pastors of churches of a medium size or smaller size feel as though they can’t train other pastors or they can’t have the ministry schools that the megachurches have. They get discouraged and they feel like they’re disqualified from Frank Carnaggio
being able to engage in training leaders in the church. Going to the apprenticeship program—and we intentionally call it “apprenticeship” vs. “internship”—think through how a true apprenticeship works: If you were going to be an electrician or plumber where you come alongside a master electrician or a master plumber and you work with them, you do everything they do, and they supervise what you do. So it’s not anything you do in theory. With true apprenticeships, you are working. There are a lot of people who think they have a call of God on their life, and there’s no way to test that call without going
to have him or her work on multiple systems simultaneously, whereas the average apprentice would only work on one system at a time. Johnson: What do you foresee for the future of the program? Justice: One of the visions God has given me is to raise up 200 pastors, church planters and full-time ministry workers from right now until I turn 70, and that’s 19 years. … This apprenticeship program gives me a structured way to do that and a very doable way to do it because it engages people in
“There’s a lot of people who think they have a call of God on their life, and there’s no way to test that call without going to Bible college or seminary.” to Bible college or seminary. What happens if at the end of that time frame if you discover you’re not really called to be a pastor or a church planter or a staff person? You’re really called to be a Christian businessperson. You just spent thousands of dollars and you’ve incurred a tremendous amount of debt. All of this came together as we thought through this apprenticeship program. … Even if your church is 70 people, you can run an apprentice program with one person, and you could actually raise up a church planter or a pastor, and that’s not something that smaller churches ever even think about that they can participate in. Johnson: What are the specifics of the program setup? Justice: The way I have set up the apprenticeship program is it’s a two-year program, but I said, “I’m going to give you an exit ramp and an entry ramp every four months.” … Every four months, when it’s time to rotate the apprenticeships, people could begin the apprenticeship, and they could go to the next one. For example, there was a lady who was having a baby, and she said, “I’m going to take this next rotation off and once my child is old enough, I’m going to come back in when I have some more time to do that.” It’s extremely flexible in four-month increments. This is the lay-driven version of the apprenticeship. When I’m working with a seminary, and they’re getting credit for an internship or summer learning, then I will condense it. The way the apprenticeship is set up is that for a person who is a layperson and who’s trying to test this out, it’s about a 4- to 8-hour commitment. … When I get a full-time intern over a shorter period of time, I’m able 72 MinistryToday January // February 2016
what we’re doing anyway in the life of the church. We’re just intentionally making space for people who feel as though God’s got a call on their life to come alongside. When they get through, if they feel like they need to go on and get further education and get that piece, that’s great. If they already have that piece and this gives them the practical training, that’s great too. One of the other things that’s been nice about this is that all pastors deal with people who say, “I feel like I have a call of God on my life” … and when they’ve gone through this apprenticeship, they actually discover, “You know what? I’m really not called to full-time ministry as I thought I was.” But it settles in their heart this question that’s been out there: Am I called to full-time ministry? Am I not called to full-time ministry? And sometimes getting the answer now helps you to get on with the rest of your life and be fully engaged at the level God’s called you to be fully engaged in. My connecting pastor came through the apprenticeship program. So for churches that want to hire internally, this is a great program and a great structure to transition people, for example, from a business position into a church position. Johnson: Where have you seen this program used? Justice: I have taught this and have seen it used in other countries as well. I’ve seen it used in India; I’ve taught it in Kenya. It’s not anything that’s proprietary to the Vineyard or to me. It’s something that we share and talk about. It’s wide open for other people to be a part of, but it’s just important to us that we’re training people.
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MINISTRY LEADERSHIP: F I N A N C E BY BRIAN JONES
8 Things to Keep in Mind When Budgeting
Crafting an effective church budget can be one of the pastor’s toughest challenges
ecently a senior pastor friend, attempting to lead his church of 180 in growth, asked if I had any thoughts I could share about crafting an effective budget for their church. Since I know this is something many pastors are thinking about, I thought you might appreciate listening in on the conversation. Here are eight things to keep in mind when budgeting for growth: 1) Growing churches always budget to last year’s income. If you took in $168,000 last year, that’s the total amount you budget for the following year. Increases in giving are placed in reserves. 2) Growing churches under 400 always hire part-time worship and part-time children’s staff before they hire a secretary. We were 320 as a church before we had our first paid parttime secretary. I’d suggest splitting your $9,000-a-year salary for your secretary and hiring a very part-time worship minister for $4,500 a year and a very part-time children’s staff member for the same. Both will fuel growth. As I say to the guys I coach, “Never underestimate the power of $50 a week to motivate a gifted college kid or stay-at-home mom to deliver a superior performance.” I have 12 full-time people on my ministry staff, and most started this way. 3) Growing churches keep expenses low but put together aggressive plans for income growth. Identify an area where you would like to improve income and lead the charge in implementing the necessary changes. Online giving is a great place to start. 4) Growing churches budget 5 percent of their overall budget for marketing and outreach events. Skip this at your own peril. 5) Growing churches run back-to-back capital campaigns that bring in an additional one to three times the annual budget over three years. Given the excellent facilities you already have in place, a few key investments in your website, signage, branding and wayfinding graphics would completely transform your campus and make it the inviting place. For instance, if you ran a capital campaign, you could net an additional $170,000 to $300,000 in three years. 6) Growing churches do not plan for an even distribution of income across all 12 months. If you took in $170,000 last year, what percentage of it
came in January? February? March? Each month of the year? If, for instance, 12 percent of the total budget was given in January, then you can only plan 12 percent of your upcoming budget to be spent in the upcoming January budget. Figure that for each month of the upcoming budget’s year. Since giving is cyclical, your expected income and expenses should be as well. 7) Given point 6, growing churches manage their budgets not by whether they meet their budgets every week but by whether their reserve funds target is met at the end of each month. When you budget, showing monthly income and expenses across a 12-month income/spending plan, you want to show at the bottom of each month your expected reserve. Manage to that number. That is priority No. 1. If you projected to receive 12 percent of your income during January, but only received 10.5 percent, obviously that affects what your targeted reserve balance should have been at the end of that month. Yes, managing expenses is key too, but if we don’t hit our targeted reserve balance, the congregation hears about it immediately. As leaders, don’t make the mistake of huddling in a room and worrying yourselves sick over the finances. Be transparent and make everyone aware of the situation. Sagging offerings are always a symptom of a lack of strong, biblical teaching on giving and a lack of vision-casting. If you tell the congregation you are short on funds, tell them what you want to do with their money. Get them excited about the potential result of their gifts. 8) Growing churches plan their income model based on last year’s giving, but they expect to grow 5-10 percent every year. Because of that goal, these churches are thinking about this year’s, next year’s and the following year’s budget at the same time. As ministers and governing board members, our task is to go out to the future, get a clear look at what will be happening and then come back and tell our people about it.
“Don’t make the mistake of huddling in a room and worrying yourselves sick over the finances.”
74 MinistryToday January // February 2016
B r i a n J o n e s is the founding pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, an author and a blogger at brianjones.com. © iStockphoto/LUHUANFENG
MINISTRY OUTREACH: C H U R C H
GROWTH BY BRANDON COX
Why Your Church Outreach Depends on Change Your desire to grow your congregation means some things can’t stay the same
e like change that directly benefits us—a promotion, a new home, marrying our dream mate and so on. But we’re terrified of change that threatens our sense of stability, security or significance. Having been a pastor for 18 years, I’ve seen my share of missed opportunities for growth resulting from the fear of taking risks that might cost our comfort. God is living, active and dynamic. Furthermore, He is sovereign. We like to treat God as a product—apply, rinse and repeat—who will give us the same results forever as long as we never change the way we use Him. But God has a tendency to be elusive, calling us out of our comfort zones and drawing us into the sometimes crazy adventure of following Him on His terms, not ours. Growth and forward momentum are created by significant catalytic changes. We’ve watched this already in the short life of Grace Hills Church. We started meeting in an office building with about 30 people. When we moved to a local hotel, we grew to 70. When we launched in our first movie theater location, 174 showed up and we averaged 120 for the first six months. We added a second service and grew to 200. This year, we moved to a different movie theater and have had an average attendance of 240. We’ve seen the same thing as we’ve added staff. In my personal life, I can look back at the greatest moments of spiritual growth and can see that, in general, they align with unexpected changes in my life. These changes included when I met my wife, surrendered to ministry, started Bible college, had kids, moved to Arkansas, to California and back to Arkansas again. It isn’t that we should thrust ourselves into constant chaos and instability. It’s just that moments of transition lend themselves to more intense transformation for our souls. I get asked by many church leaders a rather basic and heartfelt question: How can we grow? How can we reach more people? How can we bring to life a seemingly dying movement? And my answer is always the same, generally speaking: change. I’ll be accused of being too pragmatic, but I find great biblical precedent for this principle. God moved Abraham from Ur, Joseph from Canaan, Moses from Egypt to the desert and back again, David from the field to the palace to the cave to Hebron
and finally to Jerusalem, Nehemiah from Susa to Jerusalem, Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem, Paul to Antioch and more. You get the picture. God even allowed great persecution to hit the church in its early days in Jerusalem (Acts 8). Why? To force them from their comfort zone out to every nation with the Good News. Yes, I know some things must never change. The central message of the gospel of King Jesus and all of the truth that God has revealed in His Word, the Bible, is forever perfect and never in need of editing. But the culture around us is in a constant state of flux, and our method of communicating eternal truth must be adapted to each new generation or we risk irrelevance and obsolescence. The gates of hell stand no chance at all of prevailing against the beautiful bride of Christ—the church. But each church must have the courage to change the nonbiblical dynamics of its approach to a lost culture, which means leaders must be bold and courageous and embrace the pain of change for the win of seeing more people brought into the family of God. Henry Blackaby wrote in his book Experiencing God: “Once you come to believe God, you demonstrate your faith by what you do. Some action is required. ... You cannot continue life as usual or stay where you are, and go with God at the same time. ... To go from your ways, thoughts and purposes to God’s will always requires a major adjustment. God may require adjustments in your circumstances, relationships, thinking, commitments, actions and beliefs. Once you have made the necessary adjustments, you can follow God in obedience. Keep in mind—the God who calls you is also the One who will enable you to do His will.” If you want your church to grow—and you should, if you take the Great Commission seriously—then you’ll have to change. Period.
“Our method of communicating eternal truth must be adapted to each new generation or we risk irrelevance and obsolescence.”
76 MinistryToday January // February 2016
B r a n d o n C o x has been a pastor for 15 years and is planting a Saddleback-sponsored congregation, Grace Hills Church, in northwest Arkansas. He serves as editor of pastors.com and Rick Warren’s Pastors’ Toolbox. He writes a top-100 blog for church leaders and is author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God’s Love.
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MINISTRY LEADERSHIP: A N N O U N C E M E N T S BY RON EDMONDSON
3 Questions to Discern What I Announce Sunday Where should pastors draw the line in choosing what to promote from the pulpit?
f you’re a pastor, then you know the tension I am about to describe in a made-up scenario: “Pastor, can you announce the next meeting of the ‘Faithful Followers’ group? It’s Tuesday night at 7 at Sister Rita’s house. Everyone needs to bring their favorite dessert.” Do you announce it or not? It may depend on several things: the size of your church, the expected size of the event and, frankly, how much pressure you will face if you don’t. But it’s often not an easy answer. While I hope you never cave into pressure to do what you know you shouldn’t, I do realize the pressure. When we were a church running over 2,000 people a week I still had people who wanted me to wish someone “Happy Birthday” from stage. Sometimes the pressure came from one of our most faithful volunteers. I get it. But if you want to be effective, you can’t promote everything from the stage. If I promoted everything, I wouldn’t have time to preach, nothing would really be “special,” and pretty soon people wouldn’t listen to much of what I had to say. Plus, if I promote one thing, there is automatic precedent and pressure to promote another thing. Saying the pastor will never promote anything is the wrong answer. I realize the value in a pastor’s “endorsement.” So how do you decide what to personally promote? (I am assuming announcements are made by someone else or some other means Sunday mornings.) Here are three questions I ask when I decide which announcements I will make personally: 1) What needs my personal promotion most? What is really valuable to the largest amount of people and has a chance to be more successful if I say something about it? Just asking this question may or may not eliminate the “Faithful Followers” meeting. It depends on the number of people the meeting impacts within the context of the entire church. If it’s a few, I’m less likely to mention it. If it’s a significant percent—perhaps 25 percent or more of the church would be interested—I’m more likely to address it personally. (The percent is just a number. I
use my best judgment here.) When I talk about a men’s ministry event, for example, I know nearly half of the congregation has the opportunity to attend. 2) Where do I need to add credibility to a ministry? When I arrived at the church I now pastor, we had a vision to grow our college ministry. We are less than a mile from the center of a university and a junior college. When the college ministry had an activity, though it might impact only a small portion of the congregation, I promoted it. As a result, I raised the value of college ministry in our church. I reminded people of the importance and showed my “support.” I realize the weight the position brings to something, and if it’s something the church needs to value more, I’m likely to talk about it. 3) What impacts a large portion of the church and needs more attention to be successful? We are in a growth mode. Much of this growth is from young adults and young families. Our preschool ministry is being stretched. What a great “problem” to have! I love it. But we do need more willing servants to fill the growing needs in this area. I am frequently bringing this growth and need to the attention of our congregation. Our preschool director is thankful, and apparently the personal word of encouragement makes a difference in recruiting efforts—or so I’m told. If the need can only be met fully with my mention, then I know I need to bring it before the church. Those are some of the ways I discern what to announce. To be candid, these guidelines don’t eliminate the pressure from those who want something announced. However, the guidelines give me some comfort that I’ve at least thought through my answer. This doesn’t negate the importance of anything we do. Hopefully, every ministry is important to achieving our mission. When there is only so much time on a Sunday, I have to carefully discern what I personally mention.
“If you want to be effective, you can’t promote everything from stage.”
78 MinistryToday January // February 2016
R o n E d m o n d s o n is pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, and has a passion for church planting. Formerly a self-employed business owner, he is also a church and ministry consultant. This article originally appeared at ronedmondson.com. Lightstock
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MINISTRY LIFE: T R I A L S BY KURT BUBNA
Et Tu, Brute?
How to handle betrayal and rejection from close friends and church members
etrayal hurts. Whether it’s from a spouse, a parent, a child or a best friend, when someone is disloyal and lets you down, you feel it deeply. “Et tu, Brute?” is a Latin phrase meaning, “You too, Brutus?” Supposedly these were the last words of the Roman dictator
Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus when Brutus stabbed him. You may not die at the hand of your betrayer, but something inside hurts so badly you might wish you were dead. About 35 years ago, I told my wife I was done with our marriage and wanted a divorce. That betrayal wounded her deeply. In a moment of intense anger, my dad once told me never to call him “father” again. That rejection sent me into a tailspin of grief and despair. Through the years, some good friends who were involved in my church betrayed my friendship and left cursing my name. Tragically, traits like faithfulness, loyalty and steadfastness are not as common as they once were. Some have suggested there is a “narcissism epidemic” in our country, and that too many people today belong to the “Me, Me, Me Generation.” When it’s all about me, then my commitment to any relationship is subject to my emotions and my wishes. Turning my back on others isn’t that big of a deal when I’m the center of my world. Betrayal happens. So how should we handle it when it does? Here are four things to consider—none of which are easy: 1) Die gracefully. Whether you’re dealing with the dissolution of a marriage or the death of a friendship, it’s always better to take the relational high road in the aftermath of betrayal. You can kick, scream and bite with a vengeance, or you can entrust your life and soul to the one 80 MinistryToday January // February 2016
who understands. Don’t forget that Jesus was scorned, rejected and betrayed on a regular basis. He understands. To choose to die gracefully is not to deny the reality of your situation. It is, however, to say, “Jesus, help me to die to myself as You did and to forgive as You forgave even from the cross.” The death of our supposed right for vengeance never comes easily, but remember, with God in the mix, death is never the end of the story. 2) Learn abundantly. When there’s an issue and conflict between two parties, one person is rarely to blame for everything that happened. Years ago, a very good friend accused me of something I did not do. I was livid. I ranted and raved for days building a case for my defense, attacking his character in the process. Then the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart, “What will you learn in your pain?” Of course, my immediate thought was, “I’m going to learn how to hurt that guy!” Again came the gentle prodding of the Spirit: “Kurt, don’t make this about how right you are; make it about personal and spiritual growth.” A wise man or woman will ask, “What can I learn from this betrayal and this experience?” 3) Forgive profusely. It’s easy to talk about forgiveness but difficult to practice it. Maybe you’ve noticed it’s way easier to hold on to a grudge and stay bitter than to release someone from our judgment. Our human nature demands vindication. We want revenge. We don’t typically drift into forgiveness. Sometimes it’s necessary to correct someone’s action against us. The unjust offender may, in fact, suffer some natural consequences for their injustice toward us. But walking in unforgiveness is not an option for a Christ follower. We forgive because we’ve been forgiven. We forgive to set the other person free of our judgment but mostly to set ourselves free from the bondage of unforgiveness. 4) Love lavishly. God’s love for us has absolutely nothing to do with our performance, and He calls us to love as we are loved. When betrayed, love. When wounded, love. When falsely accused and rejected, love. When everything in you wants to scream, curse and take somebody out, love. Love because it changes you. Love lavishly because the alternative is never good. Love because you are loved. When your “Brutus” sticks his knife in your back, by the grace of God choose to say, “Ego quos amo, perducat vos, Brute!” (“I love and forgive you, Brutus!”) K u r t B u b n a is senior pastor of Eastpoint Church, a nondenominational congregation in Spokane Valley, Washington. He is also a blogger, speaker, radio and television personality and author of Epic Grace: Chronicles of a Recovering Idiot (Tyndale House Publishers). This column originally appeared at pastors.com. Lightstock
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P L A T F O R M
BY DR. STEVE GREENE
Your Landing Page Should Land Visitors When visitors view your website the first time, do you connect with them?
hen was the last time you had a thorough checkup for one of your most important assets? Your church website is an important communication tool for church leaders to make the first step toward developing a relationship. As I spend time getting to know church leaders and their organizations, I feel a great need to reach out to help with what should be known as the front door of the church. There are many companies touting templates to help churches build websites. It seems to me a template website is about as useful as a template theology or a template worship set. No template can capture the essence of your ministry better than when your site is designed with spiritual input. When I visit some websites, I wonder, “Did anyone pray about this site? Is this how we want to present our faith? Do we answer questions for seekers and post content to equip the saints? The biggest problem I see in website design is clutter. Just like an overprogrammed worship service can confuse rather than inspire, an overfilled landing page can lead to a church visitor’s quick exit. PRINCIPLE 1—Keep your landing page simple and powerful. The first thing we want visitors to do when they land on our page is to FEEL a spiritual connection with us. We can do that with design elements, words and images. Visitors to our sites want quick answers. You know what they want to know, so give it to them on the landing page. Use bold menus and large fonts on the page. PRINCIPLE 2—Make the pastor’s welcome message front and center. Present a clickable graphic with a short video of welcome from the senior pastor. Would it be a stretch to ask the pastor to pray for a visitor in your church lobby? Then why shouldn’t the pastor connect with website visitors up front? Write the script so the pastor introduces the website visitor to key features on the landing page. Keep the video under 2 minutes. The key point to make in the pastor’s message is how your church serves in any special way. What makes your ministry different? PRINCIPLE 3—Address felt needs. This is a key principle in all branded content. “Why did you come to this page?” Jesus asked the question, “What do you want from Me?” Shouldn’t we ask the same? My review of church websites led me to conclude we see all visitors as the same. We speak to a homogeneous visitor.
Yet, you know everyone comes to the website with a different set of needs. Again, if a pastor meets visitors in your lobby, will he begin speaking about your church programs or ask questions of the visitors to determine their needs? On your landing page, ask a few questions to demonstrate how you may be able to help. Tell them where to find help on your website. Too many church websites are all about the church. Engage me. What’s in your church for me? And don’t bury the answer. Make it front and center. Don’t tell me about your newest sermon series on the landing page. Your next sermon series is simply a product ingredient. Why is it on page one of your website? As a visitor, I want to know what the product will do for me. PRINCIPLE 4—Prayerfully consider NOT having a “Give” button on your landing page. I’ve visited many churches recently and I hear a common request, “If this is your first time here, please don’t feel you need to give to our work. Be our guest today.” Perhaps visitors to your website already believe “Churches only want my money.” When we highlight giving on page one, perhaps we send the wrong signal. I understand it’s important to offer an electronic giving option. Consider a “members page” in which you have more freedom to ask. PRINCIPLE 5—Do not delegate your landing page. God bless web designers. They are gifted and know plenty about HOW to make a site look good and work well. But it’s the job of the pastor to know WHAT should be on page one. A pastor has a vision for the church and the overall ministry. Get the heart of the pastor on the landing page! The principles I’ve offered barely scratch the surface of what should be the heart of your website. If you need help in determining the proper strategy for your landing page, you may want to consider attending my Pastor’s Platform training seminar. Visit this website for more information: platform.ministrytodaymag.com.
“Your next sermon series is simply a product ingredient. Why is it on page one of your website?”
82 MinistryToday January // February 2016
D r . S t e v e G r e e n e is publisher and executive vice president of the Media Group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. Follow his daily, practical Greenelines blog at ministrytodaymag.com/blogs/greenelines and download his Greenelines leadership podcast at cpnshows.com. Sean Roberts
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