KYLE SEARCY DISCIPLESHIP MUST GAIN A FOOTHOLD
BRINGING IN THE ‘CHREASTERS’
HAS SOMEONE DONE YOU WRONG? MARCH // APRIL 2014
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Evangelism & Discipleship
c o n t e n t s V o l . 3 2 // N o . 2
M a r c h // A p r i l 2 0 1 4
18 | A CONDITIONAL GREAT COMMISSION?
The Christian church’s future hinges on our response to Jesus’ command for evangelism and discipleship By Shawn A. Akers
20 | UNDENIABLE EFFECT
These five methods of evangelism have produced verifiable results. Which one works best for your ministry? By David D. Ireland
26 | CITYTEAM: WHEN DISCIPLESHIP EXPLODES
Only 12 years old, a discipleship movement has helped to plant almost 29,000 churches in 50 nations and has won almost 1 million converts—a third of them Muslims By Ken Walker PLUS: A hybrid model for discipleship
34 | KEEPING THE ‘CHREASTERS’
How your church can turn visitors who attend only on Christmas and Easter into fully engaged members By Hal Seed
36 | A GOSPEL WITH HANDS AND FEET
Sometimes more than words are needed to transform a heart By Andrew Douglas PLUS: Serving the city by living the gospel
14 | HEART OF THE BODY Take the church-size challenge 16 | WORSHIP CENTERS 7 reasons why churches will downsize
58 | CHURCH HEALTH Do you have a good poundfor-pound church? 60 | CHILDREN’S MINISTRY What to do when your ministry is understaffed 62 | STAFFING 12 characteristics of effective team members
64 | SOCIAL MEDIA How to use social media in a new church plant
6|M INISTRY OUTSIDE THE BOX How to network for a church gig | Does our compassion really help?
12 | KINGDOM CULTURE Has someone done you wrong? By Karen Jensen 66 | PASTOR’S HEART Is it time for some time off? By Thom Rainer
44 | ‘SOMEONE TOLD ME’
Five ministry leaders share the story of those who helped lead them—both directly and indirectly—to salvation Compiled by Shawn A. Akers
50 | WE’VE GOT A DISCIPLESHIP PROBLEM
Can discipleship gain a foothold in the 21st-century church? It must if the church is to fulfill its true call. By Kyle Searcy
MinistryToday March // April 2014
Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $5 per year for postage, other countries add $10 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X1Z1. © 2014 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 Lightstock
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Ministry Outside the Box
IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
Landing a Job: How to Network for a Church Gig When I hear the word networking, my mind flashes back to the big networking events I attended in the past—the kind where everyone’s goal was to get 10 business cards in 15 minutes so they could “make connections.” Do you remember those? For a semi-introvert like me, the very word networking invokes strong feelings of stress. And while I haven’t gotten great results through traditional networking events, the principle of networking has played a significant role in my career in church communication.
When I was starting out in my field, I attended the Spur Leadership Conference in Austin, Texas. Throughout the weekend event, I watched the Twitter hashtag feed for the event and followed anyone who posted a memorable quote or had something interesting to say about the conference. Afterward, one of those people kept posting interesting quotes and the occasional good recipe, so I was inclined to retweet her quite a bit. Months later, she sent me a direct message asking if we could meet for lunch. We had never met in person; I didn’t know her at all except as a fellow conference attendee. She just so happened to be Lori Bailey, the director of communications working remotely for LifeChurch.tv—a
church I admire and the inventor of the little thing called the YouVersion Bible app. At this point, I had been working no more than three months in church communication and was honored she wanted to meet me. She had my dream job! We got together for lunch—and for many subsequent lunches after that. I even took a few days out of the office (thanks to my gracious employer) to work remotely with Lori on occasion. I learned so much in those lunches. It was great to have someone with so much perspective and wisdom with whom I could share ideas and ask questions. Over the next couple of years, she became a mentor to me. When it came time for me to transition to Hill Country Bible Church in Austin, Lori was a listening ear through the interview process and even a character reference for me. I got a job in communications at a church I absolutely love! Looking back over the past five years, I can say that networking has played a crucial role in my growth—both personally and professionally. I can think of several other instances just like this one where personal connections made all the difference for me. Here are a few takeaways that I’ve picked up from these experiences: 1) Be genuine. Look for natural ways to get to know people for who they are before thinking of what they can do for you. Invest in relationships with people you genuinely would spend time with even if you didn’t have to. In the long run, those are the connections that really matter. 2) Go from big to small. Large networking events or conferences can be great for meeting a wide variety of people—but to really make the most out of those experiences, pick a few people you’d like to really know, and invite them to coffee or a one-hour meeting. This isn’t a time for you to give them a sales pitch. Focus on getting to know them. 3) Never stop learning. I’ve found many experts in the field are happy to give advice, especially to people starting out, so don’t be afraid to ask. This is a great way to build relationships and grow your connections. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been at this for a while, I encourage you to constantly network. After all, you just never know where those connections will lead. —Krista Williamson
» continued 6
MinistryToday March // April 2014
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Ministry Outside the Box
IDEAS, INSIGHTS & INSPIRATION BEYOND THE NORM
The Power of Focusing on the Peanut George Washington Carver was born into slavery in the mid-19th century in Missouri. He went on to become a world-famous scientist. But because he was frail and sickly as a child, he worked as a gardener. As a result, he had plenty of time to investigate, wander the woods and fan into flame his natural curiosity for all things scientific. Although Carver had ambition, God gave him one thing to focus on—the peanut. As a result of his relentless experiments on that shellcovered protein, he discovered more than 300 different uses for the peanut, including peanut butter. (Praise the Lord!) Too many times, we as Christians want to conquer the world but God is calling us to something seemingly much smaller. Even so, when we apply laser-like focus to our calling in the power He provides, the results can be astounding and abundant. In the words of D.L. Moody, “Give me a person who says, ‘This one thing I do,’ and not, ‘These 50 things I dabble in.’” We live in a generation of Christians who dabble. We dabble in books. We dabble in apps. We dabble in entertainment. We dabble in church. We dabble in this. We dabble in that. But what if we made the one thing we do the very cause of Christ Himself?
Jesus focused on the peanut. In Luke 19:10, He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the
lost” (ESV). Jesus certainly wasn’t a dabbler. Everything He did, from His baptism to His ascension, was focused on reaching and rescuing the lost.
The peanut I’m focusing on is energizing a generation to evangelize their world. As the president of Dare 2 Share, I have the privilege of working with youth leaders to build gospel-advancing youth ministries that result in teens relationally and relentlessly reaching their friends for Christ. From this obsessive focus, we have developed conferences, camps, curriculum, books, videos and apps. Lately we’ve witnessed pastors in some of these churches adopting our training materials to equip adults in their churches to share their faith. We’ve also heard stories of how God is using our training materials worldwide to equip pastors and their people to evangelize effectively. This doesn’t mean I’m changing my focus. It simply means when you focus on one thing obsessively, over time it can be used in other ways for other audiences. Occasionally I get asked, “Why don’t you expand into doing evangelism training conferences for adults?” or, “What about doing more discipleship-centered curriculum?” My answer to these questions is this: I’m focusing on the peanut God gave me to focus on. May we, like George Washington Carver, focus on the peanut. May we, like Jesus, focus on reaching the lost. —Greg Stier
» continued 8
MinistryToday March // April 2014
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Ministry Outside the Box V o l . 3 2 // N o . 2 Publisher/Executive Editor STEVE STRANG firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Operating Officer JOY F. STRANG Editorial Director MARCUS YOARS
Managing Editor SHAWN A. AKERS email@example.com
Does Our Compassion Help—Really? In 2013, a church in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., collected 700 pairs of shoes for a local homeless shelter. People came forward and placed their shoes on the altar, with many going home in socks or bare feet. What an incredible outpouring of generosity from a church working to make a difference in its community! Kudos all around to the church. It’s great to hear stories like this, but sometimes you start to ask questions: That’s a lot of shoes. I wonder if the homeless shelter was equipped to handle the storage and distribution of that many shoes? How would you distribute that many shoes? Did they have the right sizes? What kind of shoes do you buy for a homeless person? Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes for being on your feet all day, or dress shoes to complete an interview outfit? Are shoes what the shelter needed most? What if instead of shoes, those 700 people donated $20 each? That $14,000 could go a long way. Or what if all 700 people volunteered? What did that shelter really need? I’m not asking these questions to discredit this particular church or its pastor in any way. What they did is simply an example to help us think through this issue: Are we aware of what those we serve really need? Just because a church is doing something doesn’t mean it’s always the right something. One of the first steps to effective action is asking the right questions. Focus on What Counts We need to make sure our help is actually helpful. It’s something we’re not very good at finding out. We’re quick to give a high five and support a cause, but only later do we ask the questions. It’s 10 MinistryToday March // April 2014
not just the church either—people are now questioning the effectiveness of broader causes, from the pink ribbons for breast cancer to TOMS shoes. Often the marketing of a cause campaign puts more emphasis on our giving than on those receiving. Sometimes efficiency is sacrificed for the sake of greater effectiveness. By focusing on engaging people in a personal way, you can get more people to give. That’s kind of how short-term missions work. Sending a small team to a remote location for a few weeks isn’t a very efficient way to serve, but it can become effective as that small group is mobilized to support the cause. But the overriding factor in all these efforts needs to be the person receiving our help. We need to care more about serving them than how it feels for us to give. How to Help Here are some things your church can do to ensure its help really serves those in need in the best way possible: Ask questions. Lots of questions. The best need your church can meet is the most important one, not the need that has the cleverest slogan. Whether it is an organization or an individual, find out what is needed most—even if it’s not sexy—and work toward fulfilling that need. Walk a mile in their shoes. How would you like to be helped? How would you help a close friend or family member? Are you helping in a way that preserves their dignity and respect? Actions speak louder than words. At the end of the day, this is the main thing. What does your church’s action communicate? It isn’t always about reaching the goal. Sometimes it’s about how you reach it. —Eric Dye Lightstock
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K I N G D O M
C U L T U R E
BY K AREN JENSEN
Has Someone Done You Wrong? Don’t let unforgiveness affect your ministry
t’s happened to all of us. We’ve gone out of our way to lay down our lives for someone—ministered to them, helped them, gone the extra mile. Or we’ve worked alongside someone and shared life with them. Then they turn around and stab us in the back. Or they walk away ungrateful. Or they act in a very un-Christlike way toward us. Most of the time we’re able to shrug it off. We know “that’s ministry.” But every once in a while it gets under our skin. It catches us by surprise. It’s just so wrong and unfair, and it hurts. Those are the times a burr can get under our saddle and begin to make a wound. And a wounded officer in the Lord’s army is more detrimental than you’d think. You’ve heard the saying “Hurt people hurt people”? It’s true. If we let those wounds fester, we’re bound to start doing more harm than good.
ways than we know. Forgiveness is how to cut the chain and go on with life in peace, joy and effectiveness.
If we let those wounds fester, we’re bound to start doing more harm than good.
A Fresh Start If you’ve been in ministry longer than a week, then you’ve probably been hurt. But it’s not OK to stay hurt. I meet a lot of ministers who are still hurting from a situation that sent them reeling. Many times they don’t even realize they’re holding on to unforgiveness. But it’s begun to ooze out of their pores, affecting their words, their relationships and their ministries. What is it they say—harboring unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die? It’s true. It’ll eat your lunch, and it’s completely ungodly. Everything about God is about His forgiving nature. He once impressed it upon me like this: “Forgiveness is how My relationship started with you.” Forgiveness is how you and I got to be new creatures in Christ—He forgave us. Forgiveness is how God starts things fresh. It’s how He deals with humans—even the undeserving ones. That gives us an idea how important forgiveness is. If we don’t forgive, we are outside God’s way of doing things—and even worse, we can’t be forgiven (Matt. 6:14-15). Some of us need a fresh start after we’ve been hurt. God doesn’t want us to hang on to the pain, dragging it into our future like a ball and chain and letting it affect us in more 12 MinistryToday March // April 2014
The How-Tos The first step to forgiveness is admitting our need to do it. But then what? Sometimes the hurt goes deep. Sometimes we’ve made a passing attempt—“Lord, I forgive them, amen”—but the feelings are still there, and if anyone asks us about it, the pain comes gushing out! Thankfully, God just wants us to want to— He’ll help us do it. He’ll do the work in our hearts when we read and study His Word on the subject. By that, I mean a concentrated, sustained effort to soak our spirits in the Scripture and be a doer of it. Jesus said we are clean because of the word He’s spoken to us (John 15:3). We can’t do this in our own strength; we have to have His supernatural help. Thankfully, He’s more than willing to give it. If you need to forgive someone for hurting you—or if you just want to maintain a lifestyle of forgiveness in everyday life—here’s some Scriptures on which to meditate: Colossians 2:13; 3:12-13; Matthew 6:12-15; 18:21-35; Luke 6:35-37; 11:4; 23:34; John 13:34-35; 2 Corinthians 2:7-11; Ephesians 4:30-32; Romans 12:19-21. “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go)” (Mark 11:25, AMP). I quoted that last one because I love the imagery of letting it drop—of leaving it and letting it go. Can you picture yourself dropping your hurt into a pile and walking away from it? Let it go! Don’t ever go back and pick it up again. Let God take care of it. I like what one minister has said: “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner.” Get free today—forgive.
K a r e n J e n s e n is an itinerant minister and instructor at Rhema Bible Training College in Broken Arrow, Okla. She is the author of Why, God, Why? What to Do When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, published by Charisma House. Steph Bidelspach Photography
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SIZE BY SCOT T AT TEBERY
Take the Church-Size Challenge Size really doesn’t matter for a church to be effective
Stop and think: Is there a big difference between having a emember the Pepsi Challenge? It’s an ongoing marketing campaign run by PepsiCo that gained few large churches in a community as opposed to a lot of small acclaim the 1980s where participants would be offered churches? Of course there isn’t. If anything, a larger number two unmarked cups, one containing Pepsi and the other con- of small churches allows more people to exercise their gifts of taining Coca-Cola. After taking a leadership. When you think about it, sip of each, participants would be a large army of small churches could asked to reveal which one they liked be the sleeping giant that strategithe best. cally infiltrates the world. Apparently, more people picked Pepsi. At least, that’s what the ads The Small Advantage led us to believe. (Incidentally, MalSmall churches have some great colm Gladwell has a great chapter advantages. Many people feel more in his book Blink that explains the comfortable and are more prone to flaws of this taste test.) open up in smaller settings. Smaller Comparing two different brands churches have less logistical distracof soft drinks makes sense to us, tions. Pastors can spend more time right? But what if someone ran the investing in each member. same test, this time using the same Maybe that’s why it should be no brand in both cups? Let’s say the surprise when we hear a pastor or only difference would be the size of missionary reminisce about growthe cup. Wouldn’t that be a strange ing up in a small church. For that comparison? Would anybody think matter, we would do well to remema 24-ounce glass of Pepsi tastes betber that every large church started ter than a 16-ounce glass? No matter S c o t t A t t e b e r y served seven years in pastoral min- out as a small church! the size, the contents are the same. istry and is executive director of DiscipleGuide Church According to George Barna, I think we would all agree that test- Resources, a department of the Baptist Missionary the average American church has ing by size in this way would be Association of America. Connect with Scott on Twitter fewer than 100 members. And we ridiculous and illogical. all know how God loves to do big @scottattebery and read his blog at scottattebery.com. So why, then, do we often things with small numbers. Do you measure a church’s effectiveness by size? A church of 50 and remember the story of Gideon? Instead of increasing the numone of 5,000 are full of the same thing: followers of Christ! ber of soldiers under Gideon’s command, He decreased them more than 99 percent, from 32,000 to 300, leaving them outnumbered nearly 450 to 1. In Defense of Small And what happened then? God delivered 135,000 MidianDon’t get me wrong; not every small church is healthy, but ites into the hands of 300 soldiers led by a peasant. God loves neither is every big church. The fact of the matter is that the doing big things with small things for His glory alone. majority of churches around the world are what most would The problem is, many pastors are so often concerned with consider small. how they are going to boost their attendance numbers that they I’m afraid some have the mistaken impression that small when it comes to churches means “a lack of mission or pur- miss the things God has for them in the present. The church as pose.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the a whole never experiences the joy of what God made it to be. most passionate missional churches I’ve seen have relatively Please don’t misunderstand. I am not against big churches. small congregations. Small does not mean “inferior.” Many megachurch pastors do a great job making sure the memThere are a number of reasons why a church may be bers of their congregations enjoy the same level of fellowship small. The community in which it’s situated may be small and mission as a small church does. It would be a mistake to to begin with. Its congregation may be transitory. The con- write off churches simply because they’re small. gregation may send out people to plant new churches once In other words, don’t worry if your church isn’t a “3-liter” attendance reaches a certain size. congregation. God does big things in small churches! 14 MinistryToday March // April 2014
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7 Reasons Church Worship Centers Will Shrink The trend toward smaller worship centers has already begun
seismic shift is taking place in American church facilities, and it’s a shift that will become even more noticeable in the years to come: Church worship centers or sanctuaries will become smaller than they’ve been the past 40 years. As church leaders decide to build, a large number of them will decide to build smaller than most of their predecessors have in previous years. The trend for the past four decades has been to build increasingly larger worship centers. And while the large worship center will not disappear, you will notice more intentionality to build or buy smaller. Why? As I look at the church landscape in America, I see seven reasons, and only two of them are related to declining attendance. I will note those two first. 1) Decreasing frequency of attendance among church members. The informal definition of an active church member a decade ago was a member who attended worship services an average of three to four times a month. Now a member can be present only two times a month and be considered active. That trend is adversely affecting attendance. 2) The growth of the “nones.” Pew Research found that the number of Americans who say they have no religious affiliation increased from just above 15 percent of the population to just under 20 percent from 2007 to 2012. This shift is huge. One out of five persons will likely never be in your church services, and they no longer feel a cultural compulsion to be there. 3) The growth of the multisite and multivenue church. This movement is large and growing. Church leaders are strategically starting different sites and venues to bring the church to the population rather than expecting people to come to one worship center. Churches are more likely to have a few small worship centers or use one worship center on multiple days than have one large worship center. 4) The millennials’ aversion to larger worship centers. I have seen this trend in my research of this generation born between 1980 and 2000. I have also experienced this sentiment personally with millennial church leaders. On one occasion, I went on a tour of a large worship center with a millennial and came away greatly impressed with 16 MinistryToday March // April 2014
not only the size of the place, but also its functionality. My millennial friend, on the other hand, remarked that he hopes he never has to build something that large. On another occasion, I went by a small worship center with very little parking with a millennial leader. I noted that only about 200 people could ever worship there. He countered that 2,000 could be at the worship center each week if it were strategically used throughout the week. 5) Governmental agencies are increasingly unfriendly to church building plans. I have worked with a number of churches that have run into roadblocks with zoning authorities who refuse to let them build or expand. Some of the zoning authorities fear increased traffic issues in residential areas. I suspect many of them are also concerned about more property that’s tax exempt. 6) The shift in emphasis from big worship events to groups. Worship services will not go away. Preaching will remain central. But an emphasis on worship services as the “big event” will not be as great. Church leaders are giving more of their energy to the development of healthy leaders and groups. As a side note, watch for an increased demand for small group pastors or discipleship pastors. As worship pastors were in high demand the past 30 or 40 years, so will these other staff members be for the years ahead. 7) The desire to spend more on ministry and less on facilities. Church facilities have grown in proportion to the expenses of churches over the past four decades. Church leaders are looking for more funds for ministry, and they will find those funds by reducing facility costs. The big worship center will not be built in many congregations so that they will have more funds to reach and minister to the community and beyond. This trend toward smaller worship centers has already begun, and I only see it accelerating. An ancillary issue will be the challenge of churches to do something wise with existing worship centers that will continue to have higher percentages of vacant seating—but that’s a matter for another article. T h o m S . R a i n e r is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Lightstock
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EVANGELISM & DISCIPLESHIP
Conditional The Christian church’s future hinges on our response to Jesus’ command for evangelism and discipleship BY SHAWN A. AKERS
epending upon the person you ask, the definition of evangelism varies. Whether i t ’s a m u l t i m i l l i o n - d o l l a r crusade, online blogging, acts of random kindness or simply a friend sharing the gospel with another during lunch at a restaurant, there are many ways to fulfill the Great Commission that God has commanded of all of as believers. Evangelism, however, is only one aspect of our mission. Discipleship is just as crucial. However, while most chur che s in A m e r ic a ar e equipped to carry out that par t of Jesus’ mandate to raise people to a higher level of mature Christian experience and leader ship, few are performing that duty to Jesus’ standards, if at all.
18 MinistryToday March // April 2014
Within this issue of Ministry Today, pastor David Ireland of Christ Church in Rockaway, N.J., explores the five most effective models for evangelism. In “From Crusades to Soup Kitchens,” Ireland explains that if we don’t succeed, “the Christian church risks its ability to influence society and keep future generations engaged.” That should be enough motivation for any follower of Christ—much less ministerial leaders—to spread the gospel wherever they go! We also look at a pair of ministries using different methods but holding similar goals of meeting the unchurched in their place of need. By reaching out to the physical needs of its community, City Bible Church personifies Jesus’ love through its Downtown Compassion program, where relationships are cultivated and the gospel is spread. Writer Ken Walker reports on Cityteam, an organization based in San Jose, Calif., that has birthed a discipleship program that has, so far, helped plant almost 29,000 churches in 50 nations. In “We’ve Got a Discipleship Problem,” Kyle Searcy of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Ala., writes that the American church’s mandate to disciple globally has fallen by the wayside, though its duty to raise people to a higher level of Christian maturity and leadership has remained the same. As Bishop Searcy says, “A change in the church’s thinking and actions has become necessary to reach the lost.” This issue of Ministry Today not only explores some of the problems the church faces today with evangelism and discipleship, but also presents some transformational solutions. The question is: Are you willing to do what ’s required to correct your course to help strengthen the cords of evangelism and discipleship in the body of Christ? S h a w n A . A k e r s is the managing editor of Ministry Today.
These five methods of evangelism have produced verifiable results. BY DAVID D. IRELAND
uring some periods of church history, Christ-followers walked around with a nail in their pockets—an everpresent reminder of Jesus’ crucifixion. The thinking went, according to historian Leonard Sweet, “Proclaiming repentance is as much about reminding me of my waywardness as it is about setting other people straight.” If we did that today, we’d likely be seen as suspected terrorists. And forget about getting through airport security! Today, Christians still want to obey the Great Commission. So the question is: What’s the best way to practice evangelism now? The Meaning of Evangelism
One of Billy Graham’s greatest legacies is the Lausanne Congress, formerly known as the International Conference for World Evangelization. At the 1983 Congress, Christian leaders from more than 150 nations gathered in Lausanne, Switzerland, to explore new ways to carry out the church’s call to evangelize the world. The Lausanne Covenant was birthed from that meeting, and evangelism was defined as “the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Savior and Lord, with a view of persuading people to come to Him personally and so be reconciled to God.” It further declared, “In issuing the gospel invitation, we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship.” »
Lighstock | © Istockphoto/asiseeit
March // April 2014 MinistryToday 21
Whether a huge organization launches a multimillion-dollar crusade or friends talk about Christ over a cup of coffee in a kitchen, evangelism must be practiced today like never before. The principles they embody are also transferable to different denominations and geographical settings. Method 1: The Invitational Model
In his book Nudge, Sweet offers a simple and direct view of the subject. He explains, “Evangelism is nudging people to pay attention to the mission of God in their lives and to the necessity of responding to that initiative in ways that birth new realities and the new birth.” Regardless of the definition we’re most comfortable with, the call to evangelize is inescapable. Whether a huge organization launches a multimilliondollar crusade or friends talk about Christ over a cup of coffee in a kitchen, evangelism must be practiced today like never before. The challenge is finding not one—but many—effective methods of evangelism. It is a weighty issue because if we don’t succeed, the Christian church risks losing its ability to influence society and keep future generations engaged. Out of the search for evangelism methods that fit today’s postmodern culture, many approaches have emerged, such as: hh Prayer evangelism hh Generosity as evangelism hh Acts-of-kindness evangelism hh Missional communities as bridges to evangelism hh Service-based evangelism hh Crusade evangelism hh Online blogging as evangelism hh Social media evangelism The list is endless, and we all realize historic methods of evangelism often no longer work. Let’s take a look at five effective evangelism methods in use right now. While not in any order of success or proven effectiveness, these five methods have verifiable results. 22 MinistryToday March // April 2014
Relationship is the most significant access point into the private lives of others. Spiritual conversations are viewed by most people—Christian and non-Christian alike—as exceptionally private. Most people need to personally know the individual who wants to hold a conversation with them about God, faith, the Bible or any other spiritually related topic. The invitational model of evangelism happens when a believer invites a friend, neighbor, colleague or family member to an evangelistic social outing. The real focus is not on the event—be it a concert, play or worship service—though that serves a vital role. The believer’s primary goal is to expose their friend to a gifted person who can share the gospel in a culturally relevant way. The Christian’s hope is that their friend accepts Christ as their Savior. Warren Bird, the Leadership Network’s director of research and intellectual capital, shared the findings of the organization’s 2011 study of 25 megachurches. They received 50,000 responses to questions like, “What drew them to the church? What kept them there?” Of the results, Bird says, “On average, megachurches do better than other churches at evangelism, and it’s often as simple as people inviting their friends to church.” This finding does not discount the value of evangelism or the social impact of small churches. The research simply underscores the effectiveness of the invitational model of evangelism. On a personal note, Christ Church— the church I pastor in Rockaway,
N.J.—grew by approximately 1,000 people in 2013 through this method. We discovered the effectiveness of this model lies in the church’s ability to do the groundwork. This entails the creation of a worship environment where people feel comfortable bringing their unsaved family and friends. The invitational model also requires training Christians in the ongoing practice of establishing growing relationships with the unchurched. My congregation has a long way to go in perfecting this model, but we are committed to using it alongside other effective models of evangelism. Method 2: The Service Model
General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, built that global organization on the evangelistic principle that says, “A man cannot hear you when his stomach is empty. Feed him, and he will listen.” In other words, meeting people’s felt needs through acts of service gives power and eternal meaning to your words. Acts of kindness open a heart to the gospel. Many local churches have positioned themselves as ambassadors of goodwill and advocates in their communities. For example, Christ Tabernacle—a multisite church based in Glendale, N.Y.—began serving families of special needs children within its community. In September 2013, the church hosted a conference in partnership with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders. The invitation was extended to the entire community. Adam Durso, the church’s executive pastor and the dad of a special needs child, says hundreds of families came who had “battled with rejection from the public and social sector because of their special needs child.” Through this ministry, called the Champions Club, Durso says, “Christ Tabernacle has grown in credibility
and the right to speak into the lives of many people who have never heard the gospel before.” The church is an ally and a resource to these families who struggle silently to care for their special needs children. To demonstrate real commitment to them, Christ Tabernacle is now completing a sensory room—a learning space for children with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD and other needs. Last December, the Champions Club hosted a Christmas party, and more than 195 children came, accompanied by their parents and family members. Roughly 90 percent of them had never darkened the doors of Christ Tabernacle before, nor did they have a relationship with Christ. They toured the sensory room and were quickly hooked, finding themselves at home in God’s house. “We’re seeing the cong regation empowered to serve a demographic that is greatly underserved throughout our city,” Durso says. T he ser v ice model i s u sed i n a slig htly different way at Liquid Chu rch — a fa st- g row i ng mu lt isite church in northern New Jersey. “Hundreds of men in our church stepped up to donate over $50,000 and 5,000 hours of labor to do an ‘extreme makeover’ of a battered women’s shelter in New Brunswick, N.J.,” says Tim Lucas, the church’s lead pastor. “A battered women’s shelter exists for one reason—because men abuse their God-given strength. We wanted to demonstrate in word and deed the power of men surrendered to Christ using their strength to selflessly serve women and their children,” Lucas says. “The executive director [of the shelter] was so impressed, she began attending our church, gave her life to Christ and was publicly baptized! She is now a key leader in our church, attending seminary and bringing her newfound faith in Christ to her leadership at the battered women’s center.” Lucas adds, “When hardened cynics w itness the church fina ncia lly sacrificing and selflessly caring for abused women, neglected children or homeless families, they are inspired to ask, ‘Why are you doing this?’ and Lightstock
‘How can I help?’ ” The beauty of the service model is the discovery that serving people without an agenda other than loving them becomes a launching pad for conversations on faith. The broader community becomes willing to listen to matters of salvation, God and redemption. Regardless of the focus your church takes with the service model, God’s love in action through His people is irresistible.
New York City crusade that took place June 24-26, 2005. New York park and police officials tallied the crowd at some 242,000 people over the threeday crusade. More than 1,400 churches representing 82 denominations provided an estimated 20,000 volunteer workers. Drawing about 700 media representatives, this event that took a year to prepare—with a $6.8-milliondollar budget—and yielded approxi-
As culture changes, so should our methods. We cannot get angry at lost people if our evangelism methods are unappealing or ineffective. Method 3: The Crusade Model
Major citywide evangelistic events get a lot of press. They’re exciting because the big guns come to town— popu la r preachers, fa mou s si ngers — a nd because crowd- d raw i ng, gospel-centric activit y ta kes place that most churches don’t have the resources to host. In most cases, these stadium-sized meetings are planned over a couple of years and cost millions of dollars to pull off. Though they seldom last more than a few days, they require a lot of work—through the training of partner churches and parachurch organizations and through administratively gifted leaders, all of whom ensure the event goes off without a hitch. I know it takes a lot of work because I served on the executive committee for evangelist Billy Graham’s final bow—his
mately 9,445 decisions for Christ, half of which were first-time decisions. Another well-known example of crusade evangelism is Battle Cry—a Teen Mania International event conducted by Ron Luce, its president and founder. This Texas-based parachurch organization conducts crusades across the United States and in Canada to win teenagers to the Lord. In a concertlike atmosphere, teens turn away from darkness into God’s marvelous light. Jack Redmond, an executive member of the Battle Cry steering committee, says, “The engagement of teenagers from hundreds of local churches each year is phenomenal. The 2011 crusade, for example, drew some 15,000 people, and between 1,000 to 1,500 decisions were made for Christ.” Granted, crusade evangelism requires a lot of prep work and resources, but it is still a viable method today. » March // April 2014 MinistryToday 23
Although the testimonial model does not carry the glamour of the crusade model, it is by far the most powerful evangelistic method, resulting in the greatest degree of church growth and discipleship. Method 4: The Testimonial Model
Sharing your faith in a one-on-one setting maximizes the spread of the gospel. Unlike the invitational model, the testimonial model—more commonly referred to as witnessing—empowers the believer to close the deal. By sharing your life with your friend, co-worker, or neighbor, you as a believer get a firsthand opportunity to bring people to Christ. Through spiritual conversations, including the sharing of your conversion story, unbelievers are evangelized. Although this model does not carry the glamour of the crusade model, it is by far the most powerful evangelistic method, resulting in the greatest degree of church growth and discipleship. As statisticians explored sources of church growth over the recent decades, they discovered the web of personal relationships is the primary driver. In 1986, C. Peter Wagner, professor of church growth at Fuller Theological Seminary, reported his survey finding that 86 percent of churches grow because of friends and relatives. As evidenced in the list below, the testimonial model, reflected in the category of “friends and relatives,” markedly outperforms other sources of church growth: SOURCES OF CHURCH GROWTH
Advertisement The pastor Organized outreach Friends and relatives
2% 6% 6% 86%
Tim Massenga le, author of Total Church Growth, recently confirmed this in a new poll. He surveyed some 8,000 Christians across America and documented their answer to the question, “How did you come into the church?” SOURCES OF CHURCH GROWTH
Advertisement 0.1% The pastor 6-8% Walk-ins 4-6% Door-to-door visitation 1-2% 24 MinistryToday March // April 2014
Church program Friends and relatives
As you can see, the testimonial model embodied in the “friends and relatives” category still contributes significantly to church growth today. In order to capitalize on this model of evangelism, the local church must spend significant time training its members in the art of sharing their faith. These equipping sessions must take place through a myriad of teaching opportunities beyond the Sunday morning hour. In our church, we train the congregation to create 10-minute, three-minute, and one-minute versions of their conversion story. Becoming skilled at telling the story of your journey to faith in Christ is critical for success. Method 5: The Event-Driven Model
Churches that experience success with evangelism and growth regularly host events that attract nonreligious people. Whether a seasonal event, such as a Christmas musical, Easter play or harvest festival, or something like a marriage and family seminar, these activities entertain with a clear evangelistic component. In the above tables, we saw how a church’s programs and outreach impact its growth. Though a small percentage of the source of church growth, these organized events work hand in hand with the invitational and testimonial models used to attract lost people to Christ. Churches that experience growth from conversion—not simply transfers— work hard to develop a culture of evangelism. Their sermons provide God’s answers to social issues, relationships and the other areas of life in practical ways. Weekend services are streamlined and fall typically within a 75- to 90-minute timeframe. A well-designed worship experience allows the Holy Spirit to engage the heart of attendees—believers and unbelievers alike. This practice
creates ease in the members’ hearts to invite their unsaved family and friends to weekend meetings and special events. The success of the event-driven model lies in the ability of the church to create a culture where God’s love for lost people is easily evidenced and experienced. Equally important to the effectiveness of this model is what Durso shared when asked to contrast Christ Tabernacle’s experience of the service model with other evangelism methods. “Our street ministry outreaches, seasonal concerts, preaching in parks and on street corners are great events,” he says. “They are exciting. People come to the Lord. But our experience is that they are like a flash in the pan if not backed up with ongoing service-based evangelism that meet people’s needs.” Durso is correct. Events are good at attracting people to the church and even at helping people investigate the claims of Christ. However, if we want people to move beyond conversion and experience discipleship, which includes responsible local church membership, our ministry events must guide people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. Eva ngelism practices today a re certainly different than the models of yesterday, and these five models also have a shelf life. Unlike items we purchase at the grocery store, we don’t know their exact expiration date. But we do know that as culture changes, so should our methods. We cannot get angry at lost people if our evangelism methods are unappealing. We must continue to engage in good social research and in collaborative efforts, and we must continue to be sensitive to the nudge of the Holy Spirit as we strive to see relevant models emerge. D a v i d D . I r e l a n d , P h . D . , is senior pastor of Christ Church, a thriving 7,000-member multisite and multiracial congregation in northern New Jersey, and author of The Kneeling Warrior: Winning Your Battles Through Prayer.
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DISCIPLESHIP BEYOND BORDERS
Only 12 years old, a discipleship movement has helped to plant almost 29,000 churches in 50 nations and has won almost 1 million convertsâ€”a third of them Muslims BY KEN WALKER
26 MinistryToday March // April 2014
fter two decades as a missionary and missions-minded pastor, Jerry Trousdale felt thoroughly discouraged about the prospect of seeing the Great Commission fulfilled in his lifetime. So for a while, he stepped away from ministry to work in Christian publishing. But even after returning to the pulpit, his vision didn’t come alive until church-planter David Watson spoke at Trousdale’s church in Tennessee. Watson knew a thing or two about discouragement concerning the Great Commission’s fulfillment too. But after struggling mightily to make inroads with an unreached people group in Africa, Watson’s team finally saw breakthroughs, thanks to a “discovery Bible study” approach to discipleship that empowers normal folks to reach people in their community through a meaningful engagement with the Scriptures. »
A HYBRID DISCIPLESHIP MODEL
Are you willing to try new ways to grow your church and your impact? After fielding numerous calls about discovery groups at Shoal Creek Community Church in Kansas City, Mo., two years ago, the senior pastor, Roy Moran, wrote a 12-page essay called “Hybrid Church” to explain the basics to other pastors. In it, Moran compares his unfamiliarity with the hybrid car he once test-drove for in-laws with the uncertainty of developing disciples outside a traditional church environment. However, just as hybrid technology has improved cars’ gas mileage, he says discipleship models can expand a church’s reach. Recalling Shoal Creek’s research of various methods, Moran and other leaders eventually recognized the Willow Creek-style model at the root of their nondenominational church was not easily reproduced. A key to this awareness came from learning about a grass-roots movement in India that had birthed 2 million disciples and 80,000 churches over a 14-year period. It was only one of 120 different movements worldwide. “This story and the principles being applied drove us back to the Bible,” Moran writes. “Never were we more aware of [our] cultural bias. ... The forms that have developed over centuries had to be submitted to the functions that the Bible laid out.” Moran says the discipleship process at Shoal Creek follows a hybrid, combining the “gas” of bringing one’s burdens to Christ (Matt. 11:28) with the “electric engine” of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). Thanks to starting discovery groups outside Shoal Creek, the church is much better equipped to reach the 300,000 people in its area, given that half will never set foot inside a church, Moran says. The church learned to avoid traditional language when sharing about these groups after discovering that unbelievers consider “Bible study” a place where Christians go to display their knowledge. Because those outside the church don’t want to feel stupid, they avoid such encounters. “The key to facilitating groups becomes learning the fine art of asking questions rather than giving answers,” Moran says. “Giving answers hijacks the learning process from the learner and creates a passivity that is detrimental to the discipleship process.” While discipleship models may challenge church tradition, another proponent says that without changes, the Western church will die. “Eighty percent of the population [age] 26 and younger does not go to church and doesn’t want anything to do with church,” says Dan Williams, president of Sports Serve, a ministry that teaches how groups can use sports as a tool to spread the gospel. “We have to do something, and it has to be so simple it can be implemented without us.” And so in the Atlanta suburb of Lawrenceville, Williams is testing the hybrid model Moran advocates. In January, Williams started a class at First Baptist Church of Lawrenceville on how to make disciples outside the church. Nearby, First United Methodist is applying some of the principles within the context of church ministry, which Williams calls the “gasoline” side. He calls his current class the “electric” side that hopefully encourages people to make disciples in social clubs, on sports teams or in other settings. “One of the key elements is the reading list of Scriptures,” Williams says of the two-dozen-plus passages that form the basis of a discovery Bible study. “We often focus on a topic and look at how they can start a group with a family or others.” In addition to encouraging churches to further explore discipleship, Williams is using the discovery model with a community transformation movement called Impact 46. This grass-roots initiative brings together families, educators, government leaders and others interested in helping those from a lower socio-economic level. Williams says Impact 46 has particularly matured the past two years as the needs of an increasingly diverse, racially mixed population that is migrating to the suburbs became more apparent. The effort to incorporate discipleship into community settings is still in its early stages. However, Williams says one Russian-speaking group of Christians reached immigrants by sponsoring a soccer tournament last year. A woman who teaches martial arts recently started a group with a mother and daughter she met at a sports camp last summer. Williams hopes to persuade several leaders of Impact 46 to attend the upcoming iDisciple conference at Shoal Creek, particularly since Lawrenceville’s initiative is only one of several that organizers hope to see established in the region. “The disciple-making model is the principle of inside and outside,” Williams says. “We’re trying to multiply this by connecting to people from other communities by meeting needs and bringing peace and blessings to those communities.”
28 MinistryToday March // April 2014
A Simple Force
The essence of this method is utilizing laypersons to reach the lost and then discipling them by using select Scripture passages. After meeting in small groups to discuss the Bible, facilitators ask questions like, “What is this saying? What will you do as a result?” The goal of such groups is to start other similar groups and plant churches and communities of believers who emphasize obedience to God’s Word. To the Western church, this may sound too simple. Yet disciple-making models have led to countless conversions of Muslims, Hindus and others— so many that the 67-year-old Trousdale is more excited than ever as he travels 160,000 miles a year, including several visits annually to Africa. In addition to countless conversions, the former missionary has seen significant life changes. One example is Muslims in numerous African villages who, prior to conversion, decide to stop beating their wives after reading the Bible. “It’s letting the Word of God change your life and family, which often begins to happens in five or six weeks,” Trousdale says. “The reason these things are going viral is people want what they see.” A Model That Multiplies
A miracle story in itself, Cityteam originated as an inner-cit y mission in 1957 and gradually expanded its outreach to four other urban areas. In 1989, it established a disa ster rel ief m i n i st r y i n t he Sa n Fra n c i s c o B a y A r e a t h a t e ve nt u a l l y expanded internationally. However, its shift toward playing a major role in the discipleship movement started in 2002 after key leaders acknowledged that despite thousands of conversions and food boxes distributed annually, they were failing to make disciples. Soon after, the ministr y tried an experiment in one San Jose neighborhood. A leader moved into the area, a nd instead of t utoring children, he discipled 12 men to work with the students. That created communit y t ra nsfor mat ion. A chu rch of 160
SIGNED IN HIS BLOOD
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With an international staff of only 11 people, Cityteam has worked through a far-flung network that includes church planters working for little more than reimbursements for travel and Bible purchases. people sparked to life. Nineteen couples who had been living together got married. One dealer stopped selling drugs, complaining that Cityteam had ruined his market. A couple years later, Cit yteam’s president, Patrick Robertson, met Watson and Trousdale, and the pair eventually joined Cityteam’s staff, Watson as vice president of global church planting and Trousdale as Cityteam’s director of international ministries.
With an international staff of only 11 people, Cityteam has worked through a fa r-f lung net work that includes church planters working for little more than reimbursements for travel and Bible purchases. Si nc e 2 0 05, t he m i n i s t r y h a s expanded into more than 50 nations and planted nearly 29,000 churches. Those congregations include nearly 1 million converts, 35 percent of which are Muslims.
For more insights on disciple-making, church planting and other forms of outreach, try these resources BOOKS
hh Miraculous Movements: How Hundreds of Thousands of Muslims Are Falling in Love With Jesus by Jerry Trousdale hh The Father Glorified: True Stories of God’s Power Through Ordinary People by Patrick Robertson and David Watson with Gregory C. Benoit hh Preach and Heal: A Biblical Model for Missions by Charles Fielding hh Church Planting Movements: How God Is Redeeming a Lost World by David Garrison hh Movements That Change the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel by Steve Addison
ARTICLES AND BLOGS
hh Cityteam’s website: www.cityteam.org/dmm hh “Hybrid Church” essay: http://roymoran.com/files/ hh 2013/11/HybridChurchNov13.pdf hh Church planter David Watson’s blog: www.davidlwatson.org hh CPM Training Resources: www.cpmtr.org hh Church planter John King’s blog: johnkking.wordpress.com
30 MinistryToday March // April 2014
Robertson recognizes such numbers prompt considerable skepticism. After an internal audit in 2011, Cityteam purged 5,000 churches from its rolls after discovering many had moved, merged or disbanded. Nor does “church” necessarily mean a Western-style building where believers gather every Sunday. While most of Cityteam’s churches start in homes or marketplace settings, Robertson says the ministry’s insistence that converts go through believers’ baptism means they still fit the classic definition. However, he recognizes cultural differences mean the discipleship model that works so well in African villages faces a more formidable challenge when it comes to persuading Western ministers to adapt to this approach. “I wouldn’t call it resistance as much as sig nifica nt unfa milia rit y,” says Robertson, a graduate of a Bible college in western Canada. “It’s a paradigm shift and a completely new way of think ing about evangelism and disciple-making.” A Hybrid Solution
Nondenominational Shoal Creek Community Church in Kansas City typically hosts 1,000 people each Sunday at seeker-friendly services fashioned after Willow Creek’s model. Yet a second group of members and visitors rarely see its four walls. That’s because they gather in small groups throughout the week to read the Bible, discuss it and share its lessons with their relational networks. Roy Moran, senior pastor of the church, incorporated the disciple-making model into Shoal Creek’s church life in 2008, after searching three years for a way to expand the church’s outreach that didn’t involve more buildings or additional services. “Having planted the church from six people in my living room, I was sure that I only had one of those [Shoal Creek churches] in me,” Moran writes in an essay called “Hybrid Church” that shares his church’s story. After reviewing ever ything from multisites to missional communities to video venues, Shoal Creek settled on a discipling model because of its easily reproducible nature. » Lightstock
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Over the past si x yea rs, Mora n estimates the church has started 150 small groups in the community, with about 80 of them still active. Although tough to track conversion numbers, Moran knows nearly all of the church’s 30 baptisms annually are converts from these small groups. Still, of the 100 pastors who have contacted him in recent years to learn more about his church’s approach to disciple-ma k ing, Mora n estimates only 20 have acted on the concept. He thinks many find the idea of taking the Good News beyond their building too scary. For le a der s w ho a re op en to unconventiona l methods, thoug h, Moran says these kinds of models can help churches practice the fundamental belief that God empowers every person to make disciples. “This begins to put the average person with an extraordinar y God into play,” the Shoal Creek pastor says. “This gives a pastor something to execute at a street level and a church to have an outreach. If a church can have this kind of mindset, its influence in the community can be profound.” A Handful of Challenges
This doesn’t mean success is a given. Tony Williams discovered that truth three years ago when he tried to start a few groups in the trailer parks across the street from his church, Maranatha Christian Center. Despite serving on Cityteam’s board for more than 20 years, Williams didn’t see its discipleship model bear any fruit just east of downtown San Jose. For one, he used veteran members of his church as leaders, which may have handicapped the process. “The Western church is not used to this,” Williams says. “We’re better at giving answers instead of letting people discover them for themselves. We have to be careful to not present discovery Bible studies as a cure-all or the only way to reach people.” A lot of people want a “sticks and bricks” representation of God, he says. While some will respond to a g rass-roots Bible st udy, ma ny see the church building not only as the 32 MinistryToday March // April 2014
primary worship center, but also as a communit y center. When people need a lawyer, psychologist, doctor or financial adviser, they come to the pastor first, Williams explains. He says that makes it challenging for a Bible study leader to make inroads with this new model, given he or she lacks the resources available to a pastor. The obstacles Williams encountered is one reason he pla ns to attend Cityteam’s iDisciple conference, to be hosted at Shoal Creek Community Church from April 2-5—to hear what ha s worked for ot hers a nd learn how he can adapt that to an urban environment. “I saw it myself on the continent of Africa,” Williams says. “I want to see how it works at a local church.” In addition to cultural obstacles, pastors should be aware others may question the reliance on untrained— sometimes even unsaved—small group leaders. They may also object to the principles or theological assumptions of the approach, especially the place of preaching in missions work. One missions official, who asked to remain anonymous because he works in a sensitive region of the world, says critics of the discovery model cite its encouragement of nonbelievers discovering the gospel. Since an unregenerate person can’t have the Holy Spirit or apply proper hermeneutics, detractors believe they must be “told” the gospel by a pastor or missionary, he says. “The interesting thing about this argument is most of the discover y groups are done in closed countries, where preaching is a moot issue,” the official said. “No one can preach. So in many ways, the argument is academic and limited to a Western paradigm.” A Movement in the U.S.
W hile Cit y tea m has seen more success overseas, it is starting to see breakthroughs in the United States. Rober t son a nd Dave Hu nt , v ice president of North American church planting, who wrote his 2009 doctoral thesis on church multiplication in Africa, recently met with leaders of a major denomination concerning Cityteam’s discipleship model.
Robertson says they’re also seeing movement in the Latino community, a Filipino church, a Native American tribe and a corner of academia. The latter is evidenced by the leader of a network of eight groups led by various university scholars attending a regional conference last November in Philadelphia. Severa l megachurches have a lso held trainings. Among the results is what happened at Long Hollow Baptist Church in suburban Nashville, Tenn. A lthoug h only 20 people in the 9,000-member church attended a three-month discipleship training session last spring, Long Hollow’s staff decided to utilize discovery groups to take converts through eight key faith topics. They later expanded the invitation to others who sensed a need for spiritual renewal. “Within six months, they had 2,000 people doing discovery Bible studies,” Robertson says. “They’re a strong, outreach-oriented church baptizing 1,000 people a year. They’re going
outside of the church, too, which is ultimately what it needs to do. [They are] in the middle of an explosion.” Jan Winters, pastor of discipleship at Ca lva r y Chu rch in L os Gatos, Ca lif., a lso offers a n enthusiastic endorsement. In recent yea rs, the 1,200-member church had tried Alpha cou rses a nd a not her sma l l- g roup approach. However, after starting a dozen small groups and seeing several conversions, Winters struggled to increase group numbers. When she added one, another would fizzle. Last summer, Winters met with Cit yteam to learn how to organize g roups that wou ld develop disciples. Cityteam’s emphasis on prayer impressed Winters, who found herself praying more and listening for God’s direction. When the elders embraced these studies without any prompting, she recognized God’s movement in it. Winters led her first discovery study on marriage with a couple seeking marital advice after an affair left the
husband emotionally distant and the wife hurt and isolated. The couple reconciled, and new biblical insights helped them avoid a financial disaster. “I have found the process thrilling,” Winters says. “It has deepened my spiritual life, as God has been directing me. We have a large team embracing this model. People are coming to me, asking what I am doing rather than me pushing any initiative.” Trousdale recalls hearing similar comments in many other quarters of the world. “The Word of God and the drawing of the Holy Spirit are enough,” he says. “Too often people think they must have a church to understand and obey the Word. Our goal is to see discipleship happening outside the local church.” A freel ance writer from Huntington, W. Va., K e n W a l k e r has written regularly for Ministry Today and Charisma for 20 years.
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Prompting people to attend Easter and Christmas services doesn’t take much effort. The real work is enticing them to become regulars. BY HAL SEED
remember eating dinner one time with a couple that first came to church at Christmas. After sharing their story with me, the wife looked at me sheepishly and said, “We were Chreasters.” She continued, “For years we’d attend church on Christmas and Easter. Then on Christmas Eve, you said we should start attending every week, so we are.” I couldn’t help but smile. This is what our church prays for twice a year!
8 Ways to Keep Them There
Chreasters are easy to reach and hard to keep. The easy part is getting them to one of your holiday services. They’re actually out there looking for a place to attend on those days. The difficult part is getting them to return regularly. So, how do you persuade someone to come back to church who has no intention of doing so? You don’t. But God can. I’ve found that if you line up grace, truth and prayer, God can work miracles at Christmas and Easter. But here are some suggestions: 1) Concentrated prayer. At New Song, we spend two weeks in advance 24/7 prayer for our Christmas and Easter guests. We set up stations in our 34 MinistryToday March // April 2014
prayer room and ask members to fill their one-hour prayer slots five minutes at a time with prayers for the names of lost people submitted by other members, as well as for the city and other churches in town. We pray people will be drawn to the churches of our city on Easter, but our bigger prayer is that they’ll be drawn back in the weeks following. 2) A confident invitation to receive Christ. My message on Christmas Eve
and Easter is always pointed toward an invitation to receive Christ. If you’re not going to present the gospel on the two days when the greatest number of lost people are in your church, what’s the point in being a church? One year I went old school. Instead of asking people to respond to the Lord by raising their hands, I went a step further. While hands were up, I asked each one, “Are you serious about this?” After they each nodded in agreement, I said, “Then I’m going to invite you to come up here so I can pray with you.” What could they do? They had to come forward. After praying with them, I introduced them to someone who would take them through their first steps of faith. 3) An immediate follow-up. The person I introduced them to was holding
a packet. It contained a copy of the New Testament, a spiritual birth certificate and the first lesson in a follow-up course called “Foundations.” Before returning to their seats, follow-up had already begun. 4) A free book. At the end of the service, I ask everyone to stand for the benediction. Before praying, I say, “I know some of you couldn’t pray that prayer with me a few minutes ago because you still have a lot of questions you need answered. I have a book here called The God Questions, which I’ll gladly give you if you’ll read it. I’ll be up here in front after the service if you’d like a copy.” Then I pray, grab a stack of books, and wait, pen in hand. I ask each person who approaches me for a book, “So you have questions about God?” They always say, “I do.” After finding out their name, I hand them the book and say, “I hope we’ll see you back here next week.” 5) A volunteer phone call. Those who come forward to receive Christ that night begin one-on-one discipleship within a few days. But what about the Chreasters who don’t register a decision with us? We ask them to fill out a
commitment card and place it in the offering. Those who do are called by a volunteer the next day. We have found that Chreaster contacts grow cold quickly, so we make a huge effort to call within 24 hours. The call never lasts more than five minutes. Our callers thank the guest for attending and invite them to our next “R.U. New Cafe,” where they can meet the staff and learn more about the church. 6) A personal email. Also within 24 hours, I send a brief email to each guest, telling them how great it was to have them visit and asking how we can pray for them. I time my email for mid-morning, as I don’t want it to get lost in the load of emails everyone gets first thing in the morning. 7) A personal note. Within 48 hours, I also send all guests a handwritten note with a coupon in it. The coupon is for a free copy of a movie we made a few years ago. In 2010, New Song partnered with Sony Pictures to produce To Save a Life. The coupon is a pleasant surprise, and since they have to stop by our bookstore to pick up their copy, it’s an additional incentive to return soon. 8) A reason to return. Every year we try to offer a reason for the unchurched Shutterstock/Creatista
to return. One year it was to hear a comedian the following Friday night. Another year it was to be part of a family series. Another year we hosted a highprofile guest—professional surfer Bethany Hamilton of Soul Surfer fame—two weeks after Easter. Prepping for Their Return
How much time does it take for a visitor to decide whether or not they will return to your church? Experts pose differing numbers on this. Some say as quickly as 90 seconds. Others say three minutes. Still others say visitors take as long as 12 minutes to decide. Whoever is right, making a good first impression is imperative if you are going to retain firsttime visitors. At New Song, I ask our core members to “LINE UP” every weekend: L: Look for someone you don’t know. I: Introduce yourself. N: Never sit alone. E: Engage in conversation after the service. U: Use the R.U. New Cafe (our monthly lunch for newcomers). P: Practice the 3/10 Rule (talk to three people you don’t know during the first 10 minutes after the service).
Churches with attendance under 150 can make a friendly first impression by stationing two or three outgoing volunteers at their front doors. In this size church, newcomers are able to look around the crowd and find the “people like me” pretty quickly. “People like me” is key to assimilating newcomers. Once you get to 200 or more, the number of names and faces is large enough that you’ll need an exceptionally committed volunteer to be at the door at least 45 weekends a year. Since the average Sunday school teacher only attends church 39 weeks a year, you probably won’t find such a person. Hence, a staff member needs to assume this responsibility. I know from Jesus’ attempts that not even He reached everyone He spoke to. But God is not willing that any should perish, and neither am I. So right now I’m mobilizing every resource at my disposal to attract and connect “Chreasters” to my church. And the day after Easter, I’ll write my knuckles white with notes inviting them to return. H a l S e e d is the founding pastor of New Song Church in Oceanside, Calif. March // April 2014 MinistryToday 35
A guest and her children at Compassion Rockwood in 2008 appreciated the compassion they received
A guest at Downtown Compassion 2013 learns about services available to him
Caption ne dignihitat quas eictintis dolori quaturitae comnis exceature
Sometimes words aren’t enough to transform a heart. Even Jesus knew meeting physical needs is often the greatest starting point for sharing the gospel
A dental student at Oregon Health & Science University serves at Compassion Tigard 2013
BY ANDREW DOUGLAS
he parking lot should have been empty. It was cold; the desert chill clung to the pavement. But the headlights from pastor Randy Deal’s car caught the outline of people lined up and huddled close together. It was 6 a.m. Saturday morning, two hours before the doors to the local K-8 school in a suburb of Phoenix were due to open. These people are desperate, Deal thought. But those desperate people weren’t alone. Randy and his wife soon saw the Compassion Queen Creek organizing committee had sprung into action, making an emergency run to a local coffee shop and distributing a last-minute donation of hot oatmeal and steaming cups of coffee. Deal realized hope had hands and feet that day. Hope came through a handful of local churches banding together to become the church, walking out the truth of the gospel in a tangible way. A Clinic With a Heart
The “guests” were residents of Queen Creek, a neighborhood of middle-class homes shocked and beaten by the sudden and vicious downturn in the economy in 2006. This was Arizona, epicenter and poster child for the collapse of the real-estate bubble. “We are one of the hardest-hit areas in the country for foreclosures,” says Jennelle Esquivel, co-chair along with her husband of Compassion Queen Creek. “A whole group of people who
Benjamin Downing | PUMC | Milan Homola | Chris Low
March // April 2014 MinistryToday 37
SERVING THE CITY BY LIVING THE GOSPEL Want to know where to start? Take these six keys and run with them.
You can find prophetic keys to your city by watching the local nightly news. Marc Estes, an executive pastor of City Bible Church in Portland, Ore., says it’s on TV news where you’ll see your city’s greatest needs—what the population is groaning about. And Estes believes it’s the church’s mandate—in fact, its pleasure—to help identify and heal these wounds, that His name would be known. As you search for the key to unlock your city, don’t necessarily latch onto what another church is doing just because there’s momentum. Pray and ask the Spirit where God is directing you. Whether your church is 50 people or 5,000, that’s the first revelation you need: Where does the city need help? “Any leader who identifies a need and then goes into the community to solve it,” Estes says, “to me that is one of the most explosive, transforming things they can do.” Next, Estes says you need to believe God can work across church and community boundaries. City Bible Church does many things for the community without asking anything in return. They have renovated 30 rooms where foster kids meet with their parents. The church raised $50,000 for that job and mobilized 400 people over four days, including U.S. Bank employees, staff from Kohl’s and a high school dance team—people mixing and developing relationships with Christians. “Now we have key foster care officials in the state asking us how we can help with the thousands of disconnected dads and dysfunctional families and rehabilitate them,” Estes says. “School officials are asking how we can help with truancy issues. I’m meeting with captains of police departments. They’re all looking to the faith community to help them solve our city’s most colossal problems. I believe it is God’s plan to place the church in her rightful place as light and salt in our society.” In Portland, another marginalized group increasingly burdened in a place once called “America’s least Christian An executive lounge provides a place for police city” was the police. The officers to relax pastors at City Bible Church saw the need and stepped up. “Probably one of the most-closed people groups in our society is law enforcement,” Estes says. To serve that sector, City Bible Church built an executive lounge for officers, a place where off-duty police could relax on leather furniture and eat free food served from granite countertops in front of big-screen TVs. The lounge is open 24 hours a day and clocks 300 officer visits a month. There is no forced prayer and no heavy Christian sales job. It didn’t take long for relationships to blossom. “I started doing ride-alongs and getting invited to roll calls,” Estes says. Soon after, City Bible Church extended its service by honoring police officers with awards, partnering with police to help in schools and conducting marriage seminars only for officers. Recently, the church was even asked by the police department to spearhead an extreme makeover project for the widow of a recently slain officer. How can you get started? Estes shares six keys to help pastors and ministerial leaders reach their cities: 1) Align your mission and vision to be a gospel-centered church. Evangelism and discipleship must become your core focus. 2) Align ministry efforts around living like Jesus and sharing His love. This could include serving the community in tangible ways. 3) Mobilize the church around significant needs in the community. Maybe the public school system is in dire need of help and teachers could use support. 4) Build on relationships when meeting those needs. If it’s the school system, introduce yourself to the principal and faculty. Offer to bring in coffee and donuts. 5) Commit to reaching your city as a lifestyle. It’s not what you do; it’s who you are. 6) Celebrate the stories in every service, meeting and event. Testimony is how you can shift your church culture to one that is gospel-centered. Tell stories of transformation. Raise the bar for what members expect God to do in the lives of the people around them. Celebrate God’s goodness. 38 MinistryToday March // April 2014
had never known poverty were faced with huge challenges. These are families that two years before were actually very wealthy. They didn’t know how to live without health insurance, without food on the table.” Compassion Queen Creek follows a model laid out by Compassion Connect, a nondenominational nonprofit group founded in Portland, Ore., in 2006. Downtown Compassion in Portland has become a huge event each July with upwards of 300 volunteers descending upon Veterans Memorial Coliseum to guide hundreds of guests through haircuts, dental services, medical checkups, prayer stations and a food court—all for free. The goal is to bless the guests and live out the gospel. Pastor Deal, a pharmacist by trade, gave hundreds of blood sugar tests that day he saw the early morning line of people in the parking lot. One overweight guest in his mid-40s was going to have to get his legs amputated in three months if he didn’t get care. He came in with his wife and kids, who were treated too. His blood sugar levels were through the roof. “He knew that he was diabetic, but he couldn’t afford his insulin,” Deal says. “We got him a supply of donated insulin. I saw him the next year, and he still had his feet.” Some state dental associations hold annual clinics. But as medical and dental volunteers explain, a Compassion Clinic is different. You can pray with people at a Compassion Clinic. And the whole apparatus—right from calling people “guests” instead of “clients” to matching each person with a personal guide to feeding them a high-quality lunch—is designed to make people feel honored and loved. Other things ma ke Compassion Clinics different too. Church unity is a core value of the organization. No matter how many volunteers or amount of money an individual church contributes to the effort, no one church gets credited. Everything is offered anonymously. It’s through one-on-one interaction between believers who volunteer alongside non-Christian volunteers and
that happened. It was her dignity,” Rigutto says. “There was nothing specific. It was another guy who didn’t have any front the people that came in. teeth, and they made a partial for him Those who had the least and took pictures of him with this great gave the most. People big grin.” that didn’t have anything Rigutto describes the feeling she gets were trying to give a $5 working at a clinic with other Christians bill out of their pocket to as a “warm, cozy feeling.” a dentist.” What about the spiritual impact of Soon she was asked to the clinic on her city? Compassion Tigard 2013 was a great example of manage the dental secThere’s a pause in the conversation. unity among local churches and generations tion at a Compassion Then she says, “If I’m the only soul that Clinic event. She was ter- was saved, I feel good about that.” rified, but her first clinic as dental direcguests that personal transformation The clinic has transformed Rigutto tor came off well. takes place. A pa stor from a loca l At Compassion Oregon City 2013, church volunteered one year. A Transforming Center hundreds of volunteers from various churches came to serve Take Robin Rigutto, for example. A He was very skeptical and voiced his doubts that a oncedental hygienist, she was attending a church outside Portland five years ago a-year clinic could do any when she saw a tiny notice in a church good. By the same time next bulletin in asking for people with dental year, he took over managing the whole event. and medical skills to volunteer. R igutto and the pastor “I was a closet Christian,” she says. “I became friends. One day after knew I believed, but I wasn’t loud about a committee meeting, he told it.” Rigutto he and some friends Rigutto was the only dental hygienist were having a group baptism. at the first clinic she attended, and she “I want to come—I need to served 16 people that day. be baptized,” she told him. “By t he t i me I lef t t hat day, I She says now, “After workcouldn’t wait for the next clinic,” she ing with this group for a says. “It was such a wonderful thing couple of years, I knew forever—and as a volunteer, not a guest. it was what I had to do. I The effect of a Compassion Clinic ripknow now why I’m here ples across the community and church. on earth. Helping peo“We believe this is a move of the ple, being there for peo- Spirit worldwide,” says Milan Homola, ple that need something executive director of Compassion ConI can give. It’s amazing. nect. “People are drawn to the concept Everyone pulls together. of churches working together. It’s time All doctors want is a for local unity—not just spiritual unity handshake or a pat on of the universal church, but local neighthe back.” borhood unity.” Rigutto has seen a lot of miracles. One year, A Faith-Filled Outreach a n older woma n got Homola met Christ in college. After a crown on one of her moving to Portland, he joined a church teeth. The woman told doing medical missions in Mexico. them she’d come in that Some of the participants began to wonday expecting to lose a der why they weren’t ministering to tooth and now she was needy people in their own backyards. going to her grandson’s Homola and his pastor, Gary Tribbaseball game with a bett, now president of Compassion A local dentist volunteered to help guests at brand-new smile. Connect, began talking. Compassion Tigard 2013 “We gave her back “We felt like we were in way over PhotoCredit Chris Low | Milan Homola
March // April 2014 MinistryToday 39
our heads but God was miraculously opening doors,” Homola says. “The first doctor to step over the line said, ‘These guys are crazy. They don’t know what they’re doing. But I’ll help.’ ” After their first clinic ended, that same doctor sold his suburban clinic, bought a house in a low-income neighborhood and opened a nonprofit, faithbased community health center. In 2006, Compa ssion Con nec t offered its first Compassion Clinic. The Rockwood neighborhood of Gresham, Ore., has no large churches, so 12 churches combined to minister to a small, hurting neighborhood. “O ut of nece s sit y we wor ked together to reach the communit y,” Homola says. “There were no church names on any banners. All we said is, ‘We’re Christians, we love Jesus, and we want to serve you.’ ” A Compassion Clinic is a faith-filled outreach. The clinic meets people’s most basic physical needs. There is usually a prayer booth for guests to receive
ministry, but a Compassion Clinic is set up for guests to get their spiritual needs met in the one-on-one interactions they have with volunteers. And with each guest getting their own personal volunteer host to walk with them through the whole day, there’s lots of room for conversation. Controlling people is not a part of the deal. With hundreds of volunteers at the average clinic, it’s impossible to vet everyone. And if people are declined as volunteers, it eliminates an important avenue for God to work. “No one signs a faith statement to volunteer,” Homola says. “Volunteers get impacted and witnessed to as much as guests. We don’t have an us-versusthem mentality. I’d say 25 percent of health care volunteers have no connection to faith or church.” A Sprawling Movement
When it comes to sharing the model with other churches in other areas, it’s the germination stage that Homola
says is most critical—when someone sees a need and finds like-minded people in other local churches who want to meet that need. “We make sure the DNA from the beginning is Christ-centered,” he says. “Our requirement is that it be multichurch. We help build the core team so that from day one, as they build out the steering committee and plan logistics and recruit volunteers, that at its core, everything is centered on Jesus Christ.” A s tee r i n g com m it tee u s u a l l y includes a dozen people. The time span from the first spark of an idea to the actual day of the clinic is about five months. Compassion Connect received a grant to build a detailed kit that they sell for $99 that gives newbies help for almost every detail, from ma rketing to budgeting to denta l equipment wash-up procedures. Of t he roug h ly 30 0 volu nteers needed to pull off a clinic, 40 to 50 are health professionals. The biggest
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team by far is hospitality—people who act as guides and serve food and make guests feel welcome. Recruiting of dentists is the hardest part and all depends on relational networks. Often it takes only one dentist or dental hygienist to sign up, and then they go to their network and fill it up. Compassion Connect has purchased a handful of dental stations, including chairs and lamps, that they loan to clinics. It ta kes roughly $8,000 to run a full-day clinic, and shipping charges make up a large portion of this cost, as does the cost of renting the facility. Dental aid accounts for up to 90 percent of the services provided at any of the clinics. If a steering committee can’t pull off a full-blown clinic, it is encouraged to emphasize the dental aspect. It’s not hard, on the other hand, to find medical staff. Homola says nurse practitioners are just as valuable in this environment.
“It’s pretty low-key on the medical side of things,” he says. W hen it comes to g u ida nce on developing a Compassion Clinic, the Compassion Connect k it provides core principles, a sample guest traffic flow, and best practices for the dental, medical and other areas. But there is a lot of room to customize a clinic based on the commu nit y a nd the skills and connections of the team. For instance, in Arizona, the team secured excellent buy-in from the business community, and they were able to build a food court with free food from major restaurant chains. Compassion Clinics tap into the skills and passions of entrepreneurs and people with the gift of administration, plus doctors, dentists, pharmacists and others who might not feel the things they’re valued for the rest of the week have a place at church on the weekend. But M a rc E stes, pa stor of t he la rge, multisite Cit y Bible Church
in Portland, thinks these skills are exactly what the church needs. City Bible Chu rch is the driv ing force behind Downtown Compassion that serves Portland’s downtown core. “The heartbeat of the Father isn’t just all about you and me having a deep relationship,” Estes says. “It’s also about me being able to spea k to you about the w idows a nd the orphans. We want the gospel to be preached. We want people saved. But 46 times in the gospels, Jesus met a need before He preached.” L a st yea r, 17 com mu n it ies ra n Compassion Clinics. It isn’t hard to understand why Compassion Connect would love to see that number grow even more. A n d r e w D o u g l a s is a freelance writer and a second-year student at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. He lives in Redding, Calif., with his wife, three kids and a border collie and he blogs at RAndrewDouglas.com.
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‘SOMEONE TOLD ME’
Five ministry leaders share the story of those who helped lead them—both directly and indirectly—to salvation COMPILED BY SHAWN A. AKERS
apoleon Kaufman knew there was more to life than football, but it took a teammate calling him out in public to wake him up. Greg Surratt was raised in a loving, Christian atmosphere, but it took a book by Josh McDowell he read later in life for Jesus to become real to him. For either, the path to salvation didn’t come easily. Like all people—including pastors and ministry leaders—Kaufman and Surratt needed someone to share the Good News with them. Someone had to plant the seed of the gospel message; another had to water it. But whether through a tragic event, an unexpected book or the reluctant acceptance of an invitation to church, the seeds were planted for a future bountiful harvest. The following testimonies from well-known leaders in ministry demonstrate the simplicity and power of Christ’s gospel—which, at some point, has to relay. »
I was raised in a religious home. I grew up going to dead and dry churches in California, not really understanding what it meant to be a follower of Christ. When I was 15, I ran away from home to go find my dad, as my parents had been divorced since I was a kid. The first night I stayed with my dad, he said to me, “If you’re going to try any of that pot stuff, you should bring it home so we can all try it together.” I thought I had the coolest dad in the world. I remember the Bible said you were supposed to obey your parents, so I thought I was obligated. I became a party animal for about a year, thinking I was living the greatest life, not knowing I was destroying myself. When I was 16, a friend invited me to church. I thought, “Sure. I’m cool. God’s cool. We’ll get along.” When we arrived at church, we found about 200 people crammed into this little white church, and they were singing loud and happy. This was really new to me. I always felt like going to church was like going to prison and doing hard time for something I had done wrong. But this church was passionate. The pastor got up and delivered his sermon, and it was really the first sermon I heard in a plain, normal vernacular that a teenage kid could understand. I thought, “This is the greatest thing in the world. I’m in.” Because it was such a refreshing atmosphere—and because no one got in my face and pointed their finger at me—I gave my life to Jesus that day. I felt like I had found the cure to cancer. I went back to school and told everybody. Of course, my friends would want me to party, but I invited them to the real party. That was right at the end of my junior year in high school. One day, I came home to my dad’s house and all my stuff was on the front porch, and the door was locked. My younger brother came to the door and told me, “Dad said I can’t let you in.” My stepmother said I was too much of a Jesus freak and that I had to go. I was only 16, so I picked up my stuff and put it in my beat-up car. I drove down the road crying, not knowing where to go. I never got in trouble at all for being a party animal, and now, when trying to do the right thing, I found myself without a place to live.
For a couple of weeks, I stayed with some collegeage guys I met at church. When my pastor found out, he invited me over for a birthday dinner with his family when I turned 17. It felt weird. It was a real family, and it freaked me out. They gave me a little present and made me feel special. The next day, while I was at work, I got a message that my pastor wanted to see me in his office. I thought, “What did I do? What did I say?” I got to his office that night, and it was then and there that pastor Michael Craft invited me to live with him and his family. I was moved beyond words. You could tell this was a man of great faith. He had three beautiful teenage daughters and he invited me to come live with him. Being a part of his family was the most incredible experience of my Christian growth. I thank God for the older generation that takes a risk on behalf of the younger generation. And really, that’s what it takes to reach the younger generation. His generosity set me up for success and ultimately helped me make a decision to go on to Oral Roberts University and then into ministry to try to help the younger generation too. I figured if God could reach me and rescue me—as pathetic and messed up as I was—He can reach anybody or any young person. R o n L u c e is the co-founder and president of Teen Mania Ministries.
March // April 2014 MinistryToday 45
Barbara J. Yoder
Many times I have wished my coming to know Christ was easier. I was born into the middle of an evangelical revival center. I grew up sitting in sawdust on the floor of the tabernacle, listening to and living by the greats in the faith. As a small child, Billy Sunday’s widow was our next-door neighbor. Being raised in a Christian environment and home, I was “Christianized” from birth. My mother taught me to pray and memorize Scripture. Sundays were dedicated to church and family. When
I was 11, a godly woman prophesied to my family about who I was to become, and it was spot on. The catch was that I never seemed to feel connected to God. And the faith I had was fear-based. I was tormented by the thought of going to hell. I was two people—one who would lead several hundred to the Lord in a meeting one day at high school, and one who would do just the opposite the next day. I longed to know God but couldn’t seem to find Him in a way that “stuck.” My environment became toxic because of the church I had been raised in and the one I attended in high school. Actions by a member of our church scarred my mother, who eventually committed suicide. My family was torn apart by grief. The church eventually suffered when the pastor and several members committed adultery. I left the church, becoming a temporary atheist while in college. I was embittered by religion. God didn’t seem to work in the private lives of people in the church, and He certainly didn’t feel very caring to me. So I moved on. Living the life of an intellectual and professor at a major university, I became desperate. I could never seem to leave behind the questions: Is God really real, and if so, is He a personal God whom I need to know? If I don’t know Him, will I end up in hell? I immersed myself in reading both non-Christian and Christian philosophers. I closed myself off to most Christians because of their seemingly lack of authentic faith. Nothing touched the vacuum in my heart until I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship. He talked about taking the leap of faith. While reading his book, I said to God, “If You exist, I have a few things to talk over with You.” At that moment, Jesus walked into my room. I was overcome with liquid love and wept my way back to God. From that moment on, I knew Jesus was real. It wasn’t, however, until a year later that I moved to Detroit, where I found myself in one of the largest churches in the nation at the time—a charismatic church, where I began to be discipled and eventually entered the ministry. I began to learn how to believe God, walk with God, overcome obstacles and know who I am in Christ. B a r b a r a J . Y o d e r is the founding apostle and senior pastor of Shekinah Regional Equipping and Revival Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Mine was not a dramatic or radical conversion. But since neither of my parents were Christians, it was something that was new to me. I must have been about 6, and I was invited to come to First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Ala., for Vacation Bible School. What I remember most about it was that there was a teacher there named Margaret Tucker. I remember always thinking to myself, “She really smells good.” But the biggest thing I remember is that she always said to me, “Ronny, Jesus loves you so much.” You don’t ever forget something like that. I remember her love and passion for us. Years later, she wound up in an assisted living facility, and I was able to reacquaint myself with her because she was in the same complex where my mother lived. I’ll never forget Margaret Tucker because not only does it take a witness 46 MinistryToday March // April 2014
to get you see the truth, but it also takes somebody that has a heart for you to receive that message. She was one of those people. But it really wasn’t until a couple of years later when I was 8 that I received
my salvation. We had a teacher of evangelism come to our church, C.E. Awtrey, and I remember that he was so powerful and so bold in his teaching that it scared me. I remember I was nervous and started crying, and I ran out of the church and to our car. An adult from our church named Trent came out and sat in the front seat of the car with me and talked to me and calmed me down. He taught me a prayer that impacted my life. Two nights later, while sitting in the backyard, I remember looking up at the stars and that prayer came to the back of my mind. I prayed it, and God spoke to me. The next Sunday, I went forward— still scared—and made the profession in church. Weeks later, I got baptized. R o n P h i l l i p s is senior pastor of Abba’s House in Chattanooga, Tenn. His weekly television and daily radio programs are broadcast worldwide.
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I came from a great family with a great profession of faith, and my parents were godly people. But our theology while I was growing up was that you could lose your salvation for any of a number of transgressions. I probably did most of them. With the faith I grew up in, you could drop in and out pretty easily. I certainly was a wild teenager, and that made it even easier. There was a time we had a revival in our church, and I can remember hiding out under the grand piano. I remember saying to God, “If You can get me out of this place, I’ll do anything to serve You.” Of course, I didn’t follow up on that right away. As a kid, I was always in church and had mostly good experiences there. But it wasn’t until after I was in college that I began to re-examine what I believed. I believe a lot of college students do that. I began to question a lot of things about my faith and my beliefs at that time. Interestingly enough, it was a book by Josh McDowell called Evidence That Demands a Verdict that turned my life around. I decided that before I chucked everything, I was going to read it. It’s not the kind of book that lends itself to an easy read. But I read it, and logically it all made sense and reaffirmed what I really believed in my heart. The thing about that book was that the Lord revealed to me through it that Jesus was, in fact, who He said He was, and if He was who He said He was, then I had better take His Word seriously. That meant the Bible was a real document. I dedicated myself at that point to following the Lord wherever it took me, and here I am. G r e g S u r r a t t is founding pastor of Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, S.C., and a founding board member and president of the Association of Related Churches (ARC).
Going into my senior year of college, I really started getting the sense that my life was changing. A lot of people would send me Scriptures and give me tracts and other things. I got this sense that God was calling me. It wasn’t clearly articulated, but I knew I needed a change in my life. So I thought getting drafted and playing in the NFL and earning big money was what I was really missing in my life. I ended up getting drafted in the first round by the Raiders and went through a successful first season. I bought a big house in Seattle, and in the eyes of most people, I had made it. But I kept asking myself, “Is this it? This can’t be it. Something’s wrong with my life.” Some people come to Christ when they are down and out, but for me, I had money and all of this other stuff. Still, something was wrong. Going into my second year in the NFL, I was still going through this tug of war in my heart and in my mind. During a practice session at training camp, I was out there on the field, cussing and acting crazy with some of my friends. It was then that one of my teammates came up to me and said, “Hey, Napoleon, you don’t really look like the type of guy that would be out here acting like 48 MinistryToday March // April 2014
this. Man, don’t you know that God can use your life?” When he said that in front of my other teammates, I immediately justified myself. But I can remember going back to my hotel room and continually hearing those words: “Don’t you know that God can use your life?” It was at that moment that I got on my knees with nobody around and asked the Lord to forgive me of my sins and to change my life. I accepted the Lord, asked Him to come into my life and, from that moment on, have never been the same. I repented of my sins, started reading my Bible and started going through the discipleship process. It wasn’t until my sixth year in the NFL that I realized football was only a means to an end. What I was born to do was preach the gospel. I had just signed a two-year contract worth $6 million the year before. However, after some counseling with my pastor and my wife, I walked away from the game to serve God and to serve people—without any regrets. N a p o l e o n K a u f m a n is a former running back with the Oakland Raiders. He is now senior pastor of The Well Church in Livermore, Calif.
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walked into my dorm room thinking I was alone, but I was wrong! As a senior in college at Alabama State University, I found myself at the end of a very successful four years. Everything was great. I had great grades, great girls, a great reputation and a great future. However, one small matter did plague me. At times I felt empty inside—but I tried to drown that out with lots of activity. You see, I was as far from God as I had ever been. No one on campus witnessed to me. Not a soul tried to strike up a conversation that might convert me. But on that remarkable day, I walked into my room and instantly knew I was a sinner. The Holy Spirit visited me that day and convinced me my life was not pleasing to God. For three weeks, I wept day in and day out, pleading with God to forgive me of my sins. The conviction was so strong, I began systematically ridding myself of many things I knew were wrong. I severed unhealthy relationships and eliminated bad habits. At the end of those
Can discipleship gain a foothold in the 21st-century church? It must if the church is to fulfill its true call.
three weeks, I looked up into the sky and said, “Jesus, You are real. I give You 100 percent of my life.” Instantly, I felt the conviction leave me and an unfathomable peace enter my soul. I somehow knew I needed to find a group of Christians to hang with, so one day I parked my car and went to a room on campus I knew Christians frequented. I was able to see them through the balcony, holding hands in a circle while they prayed. I tried to get in the door, but it would not open so I literally climbed over the balcony and broke in to join their prayer meeting. That group became my new family for the next several months. Day after day, we spent time with each other. We ate, prayed, witnessed and fellowshipped together. We were mentored by a Bible study leader and other mature Christians who modeled living for
March // April 2014 MinistryToday 51
Christ and expected us to follow in their ways. They taught us the Word regularly and expected us to grow and mature. A f t e r g r a d u a t io n , o u r g r o u p continued to relate and connect for Christ. Incredibly, we had our first reunion of that college fellowship this year—27 years later. I was amazed almost
second part of our mandate: to raise people to a higher level of mature Christian experience and leadership. A lt ho u g h a g o o d nu m b e r of churches have some type of discipleship curriculum in place, they have failed to produce a plethora of disciples. George Barna, known for his research
The American church has drifted far from the original biblical mandate to disciple globally. everyone we saw or heard about was still going strong for the kingdom of God. In those days, I received a foundation I still stand upon. Although I never thought about it at the time, I was literally discipled into being a solid Christ follower, willing to lose my life if necessary to proclaim the name of Christ. Our Twofold Mandate
L ots of people have a si m i la r testimony of being discipled this way, but something has changed. The American church has drifted far from the original biblical mandate to disciple globally. Many have embraced the call to reach people, and they do so through events, creative worship services and other means that showcase evangelism people can swallow down. Evangelism is surely important, but let’s remember it is only one aspect of our mission. Discipleship is just as important. It seems few churches in America are truly competent in the 52 MinistryToday March // April 2014
on church life and the culture, declared in his book Growing True Disciples, “My study of discipleship in America has been eye-opening. Almost every church in our country has some type of discipleship program or set of activities, but stunningly few churches have a church of disciples.” A disciple is one who learns under the teaching of a master. This disciple becomes a complete, ardent, adequate, devoted follower of Christ in thought, word and deed. A disciple lives to follow the master, reproducing other disciples as far and wide as possible. A disciple is not perfect but is sold out to the cause and ways of Christ. A disciple is not about self but about Jesus. Many of our churches are bigger and boast programs broader than in times past, but we are not producing disciples—and the statistics show it. Jim Putman admonished the church in his book DiscipleShift, “Consider how recent statistics show that when it comes Lightstock
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to morality and lifestyle issues, there is little difference between the behavior (and one can assume condition of the heart) of Christians and non-Christians. Divorce rates are about the same. The percentages of men who regularly view pornography are roughly the same—and it’s a lot of men. Christians are considered to be more than two times as likely to have racist attitudes as non-Christians. Domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and most other problems are just as prevalent among Christians as among non-Christians. Consider too statistics about evangelicals. About one in four people living together outside marriage call themselves evangelicals. Only about six percent of evangelicals regularly tithe. Only about half the people who say they regularly attend church actually do.” Heaven, we have a problem—and Houston can’t help us! No wonder the church’s voice sounds like shrill soprano when its members speak to upbraid culture for its immorality. It doesn’t have the morality that adds the needed bass, or gravity, to our words. The Second Bookend
now available on
Written by Julia Eileen Lawson of the seventh-successive generation in her family lines to serve the Lord and the Body of Christ, this book is richly interwoven with Scriptures and thoughtfully interspersed with quotes from her forefathers, leaders in the Baptist and Pentecostal denominations, including John Leadley Dagg, John Roach Straton, Harvey McAlister and others.
The chu rch finds itself in this predicament through a fixation on the number of decisions for Jesus, with too much focus on the power of one salvation prayer. It’s not uncommon to have hundreds recite the sinner’s prayer in a church service or a crusade. Once that happens, a “mission accomplished” feeling envelops the whole room. But salvation is only one bookend. Discipling the saved is the other. Like most of America, perhaps the church has begun to chase quantity over quality. Take, for example, the AT&T commercials you may have seen lately where children discuss the meaning of “more” with an adult who keeps asking questions that compare “more” with “less”—and “more” always wins. The company’s campaign around these commercials is “It’s not complicated,” implying more is always better— and self-evidently so. But more is always better only when it’s more of the essential thing! The church of our society usually aims for more buildings, more money and more people in the seats,
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more decisions for Christ and more baptisms. These are all good, and we need more of them, but as Paul Harvey would say, “Now, here’s the rest of the story.” We need more true disciples. It shouldn’t be complicated, but it seems it is. The church has fewer disciples than ever before. Focusing on evangelism without insisting converts be discipled is like: hh A dating relationship that never grows to courtship or marriage hh A new hire on a job who never receives orientation or training to perform well hh A newborn child who only receives four weeks of training about life when he gets home from the hospital and a 30-minute talk once a week from dad at the dinner table hh A college freshman who receives a full scholarship but does not attend class or finish her college program hh A young recruit who joins the military and receives none of the boot camp or specialty training critical to fulfilling a mission W ho wou ld con sider such a n approach? In some cases, the world is doing a better job orienting its followers than the church. The job is not done until we teach, model and mentor those we reach to be disciples and to observe all the things Jesus commanded of them. If we are to get back to the true meaning of the Great Commission, decisions for Christ must become the starting point of a greater journey of growth and fruitfulness that lasts a lifetime. 7 Ways to Course-Correct
Now, here’s where things get real. I have pastored the same church for the last 20 years. In the early days, we were a disciple-making machine. I followed my early training and ordered the church’s training track in a similar manner. But in the last few years, something happened. As we grew to become a megachurch, we drifted into a quagmire of the status quo. Many would say we are still producing very serious and healthy believers, and I agree we are doing a decent job—but I know our focus on discipleship has waned a bit. »
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Reflection has allowed me to see where we made the mistake. Since we are able to point to a well-discipled and committed core, that resulted in the incorrect feeling that the process would continue automatically in the lives of the newcomers. Unconsciously, we began to put less energy and effort into the most important aspect of the Great Commission—discipleship. For several months, my team and I have been re-evaluating everything. Our eva luations have led to some conclusions for how to get back on course. Here are the steps I plan to take with our church: 1) No quick fix. I realize it will take time to shift the focus of our organization back to fully embrace both demands of the Great Commission. We did not get where we are in a day, and we won’t change it with a Band-Aid. Patience will govern our strategy. 2) I am the problem. As senior pastor, I take personal responsibility for where we are as a church. When I was intentional about discipleship, my church followed suit. When I shifted my focus, my church slid with me. If we are going to change, I must initiate the change. It will not work if I delegate it to a staff member. Modeling will start at the top. 3) Redefine a win. We must change what we measure as “success.” Although we will continue to count salvations, square feet and silver, we will not evaluate effectiveness based on these measures alone. The number of true, sold-out, unashamed, committed-untodeath, Christ-following disciples who are reproducing other disciples will be our yardstick. Our leaders will need to be given a vision of what this looks like. 4) Celebrate discipleship. I have learned we often reproduce what we celebrate. Our culture must be one that celebrates growing and mature disciples. Through testimonies, life stories, sermons and every other means afforded us, we will make a big deal of those who are being discipled. These celebrations will reinforce the goal of discipleship among the congregants. 5) Relat ional construc t. Disc iple ship happens throug h a relational construct. It’s birthing and raising progeny. Parents and families raise
children. Our discipleship structure will be a mentoring, apprenticeship structure with measurables through a nd t h roug h. Each m i n ist r y w i l l embrace this component so that work and service are not substituted for relationship but grow from it. 6) Rites of passage. Just as Jesus brought His disciples to a point at which they were to carry on His mission, having been properly trained, we must have spiritual rites of passage. We must develop a way of determining when disciples are ready to become disciplers. We must have a systematic approach that defines not just bases but places. Instead of finishing a class with a certificate or applause, we must walk-step believers toward mastering a set of standards and values that allow them to move on to the next phase. This rite of passage will help perpetuate growth without anyone feeling as if they have “arrived.” We will use a four-step approach: convert, apprentice, coach, oversee. 7) Kill the leaches. Everything will be geared toward discipleship. Anything that does not foster that goal will be eulogized. We cannot afford to spend needed resources and energy on programs and projects that do not produce true disciples in the 21st century. Everything draining our energy and resources that is not helping us produce healthy disciples must die. We will need to train our leaders to face these hard choices. Of cou rse, ma ny chu rches a re producing strong, healthy disciples in the true sense of the word. But as many also realize the church is in need of an adjustment. Making disciples is a mandate, not a suggestion. Standing before God one day and getting a D or F on your Great Commission report card doesn’t sound all too exciting. A change in the church’s thinking and actions has become necessary to reach the lost. Are you willing to take the time and energy required to correct your course and strengthen the cords of discipleship in the body of Christ? In this case, it’s not that complicated— more (disciples) is always better! K y l e S e a r c y serves as senior pastor of Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery, Ala., and Norcross, Ga.
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Do You Have a Good Pound-for-Pound Church? God evaluates churches on more than a seat-to-seat basis
reatness must involve victory over quality opposition or significant odds. In the boxing world, I have just described Manny Pacquiao. You don’t even have to love boxing to admire and respect this little man who packs a mighty punch.
We also know the scale of our church then demands proportional measures of faith and fruitfulness with the people we have. We might be in the heavyweight division, but measured “pound for pound,” we have found churches a fraction of our size outperforming us in our areas of weakness. We know God weighs churches pound for pound, not seat for seat. Measuring Up With Men
A great “pound for pound” category is the quality of your efforts with men in the community and men in the church. More specifically, how are you doing in the battle to combat the devil’s assault on the men he has called you to reach in your culture, community, congregation or country? The devil can’t stand a church or pastor who stops dealing him the aces—the men—he needs to deliver his diabolical schemes. In fact, he fears the church that starts delivering disciples who become great pound-for-pound God’s men. These are men who are not just good attenders but great activators of God’s purposes in and through their lives. A Pound-for-Pound Checklist
Manny Pacquiao has been appropriately labeled by fans of the sport, by bloggers, by sportswriters and by fellow boxers as the best “pound for pound” fighter in the modern era. In other words, as a boxer who has won titles in eight lighterweight divisions, he is never going to fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. That’s because he is 5 feet, 6 i½ nches and weighs in at 150 pounds all wet in his street clothes. He is not going to be remembered like Muhammad Ali because his greatness in the sport is measured by different dimensions. A “pound for pound” fighter designation gives you the greater measure of the boxer. Measuring pound for pound puts smaller fighting men into the powerful categories right up there with the heavyweights. And so it is with churches. As pastors and members, we easily confuse the measure of greatness in the local church. We all know and admire the “heavyweights” whose numbers are the size of small cities. One thing my senior pastor has taught me is not to elevate numbers beyond other dimensions of measurement God considers more important. He and I know that numbers do not translate to church health, disciple-making and God’s justice being delivered missionally through our efforts. 58 MinistryToday March // April 2014
Courageous pastors acknowledge and go after quality and depth versus numbers alone. Put your congregation through the following pound-for-pound analysis: 1) A church overweight with numbers but short on healthy men is not a good pound-for-pound church. 2) A church with big events for men but that produces a small number of leaders is not a good pound-for-pound church. 3) A church that invests in social justice without investing in men who cause issues is not a good pound-for pound church. 4) A church that measures itself by weekend attendance over the raising up of leaders and the sending of men into ministries is not a good pound-for-pound church. 5) A church that doesn’t recognize appealing to men reaches both men and women—but appealing only to women doesn’t reach the men—is not a good pound-for-pound church. 6) A church that puts its young boys with female leaders without the additional influence of other male leaders to model healthy male character is not a good pound-for-pound church. 7) Pastors who stay functionally disconnected from the network of the men in their churches are not good pound-for-pound pastors. How does your church measure up? K e n n y L u c k is the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church and the founder of Every Man Ministries. © Istockphoto/iodrakon
PEOPLE: C H I L D R E N ’ S
MINISTRY BY GINA McCL AIN
What to Do When Your Ministry Is Understaffed Here’s how to function well with a personnel deficit
recently met with a few members of our children’s ministry to create experiences for kids that engage them. We create team. After losing members of the team for various rea- physical and emotional environments that engage, nurture sons in recent months, we’ve been in “reorganization and connect with kids from infants all the way to preteen. mode” and working through the realities of being down two That’s a broad range of development and it means staff members. we’ve got to be knowledgeable about infancy, toddlerWhen we take inventory of the hood, preschool and early- to tasks and ongoing projects, a genlate-elementary-school age. Mix eral sense of mental fatigue and in the variation of kids, like those worry hovers just under the surwith special needs, and it adds face. This sense has little to do another layer of specialized skill. with our ability to take on more This means we are constantly tasks. Each team member is capaasking questions like: How will ble and willing to take on more. It’s this impact a child? How will this that as we increase our workload, equip a child to know Jesus? the quality of our work declines. Furthermore, as we equip volThat thought might be more unteers to love, teach and build palatable if our product was a relationships with kids, we know series of widgets or trinkets that that great volunteer experiences suffered from a lower level of create longevity. If a volunteer excellence or some plastic whatknows what they need to do and chamacallit that doesn’t really has the resources and skill to do have a major purpose in life. it, then they feel like they can win. But that’s not our product. Our People won’t last long if they don’t product is relationships and expe- G i n a M c C l a i n is a speaker, writer and children’s feel they can win. So providing a riences—and we need a team that ministry director at Faith Promise Church in great volunteer experience is just functions at its optimal best while Knoxville, Tenn. as important as creating a great serving our unique customers: kids. experience for the kids you serve.
Invest in Volunteers
Invest in Relationships
We’re a multisite church, and each of our campus teams in chidren’s ministry is intentionally small. At most campuses, there is only one paid staff member. This means we have to walk out Ephesians 4:12: equip other Christ-followers to do the works of the ministry. We do this by design because we believe the work of ministry should not rest solely on the shoulders of the paid staff at a church. Not only would such a structure put too much weight on the shoulders of too few, but our model also keeps the ministry from shutting down when—as has recently happened for us—paid staff members move on.
If you look back on every major turn in your personal journey, I promise there is a face and a name attached. Every time you drive a stake in the ground and choose to stretch yourself to believe something you’ve never dared to believe before, there is a relationship—a person attached to that decision. God uses relationships to nurture change, and especially spiritual change. Faith is transferred through relationship. It’s our goal to equip our volunteers to build relationships with kids so they, as adults, can invest time, love, words and a multitude of other things into the heart of that child over time. And let’s face it: Things are more fun when you get to do them with friends, so we want to foster friendships within our volunteer team. It’s one of the main reasons we ask people to invite their friends to join them in serving. Has your children’s ministry team ever faced a personnel deficit? Are you prepared for when you do? Keep it simple by investing in volunteers and by remaining focused on relationships and experiences.
Invest in Experiences
Once you’ve got a team powered by a combination of a (small) staff and (large) volunteer base, what’s next? This is where it goes back to the product—experiences and relationships. And to be successful, it needs to go both ways, serving both the kids and the volunteers. First and foremost, we work 60 MinistryToday March // April 2014
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PEOPLE: S TA F F I N G BY CHUCK L AWLESS
12 Characteristics of Effective Team Members Do you surround yourself with brothers and sisters who help and challenge you?
n more than three decades of ministr y, I’ve been privileged to serve with some of God’s finest people. Some have been lay leaders, and others have been clergy; all who come to mind have been servants of Christ. When I think of them, I am reminded of the traits that most characterized them:
much he did behind the scenes. As his pastor, I knew I could depend on him to do anything we asked (and do it well). 6) Holiness
I wish you could meet David and Laura. They’re one of the godliest young couples I’ve ever met. They simply model obedience in word and deed. 7) Risk-Taking
Sometimes God gives us someone who thinks outside the lines while staying within biblical parameters. Brian was such a team member for me. 8) Integrity
Leaders often learn the hard way that not everyone can be trusted. But God sends us team members who show us that godly integrity still exists. Randy did that for me. He speaks the truth, but he does so in love. 9) Teachability
Rich is a Bible study teacher who annually leads his group to grow and then plant new groups. He is a great teacher who is himself teachable. He has no personal “turf” to protect, as he knows the work of the kingdom is not about him. 2) Word-Saturated
Matt is quiet—an introvert who thinks deeply. Ask him about the Word, though, and he lights up. He has for years memorized it, and his life models what is in his heart. 3) Brokenness
He was a tough, rugged man prior to his conversion, but Glenn changed completely when the Lord grabbed his heart. He learned God would use him in his weakness. 4) Prayerfulness
I anticipated a great meal with this couple. After all, Ruby was a country cook and Jim a truck driver who surely enjoyed a strong breakfast. What they gave me, though, was a quick bowl of cereal—and an hour of prayer. 5) Dependability
John was just a quiet man who offered to do whatever our congregation needed. Indeed, few people knew how 62 MinistryToday March // April 2014
Sonney and Christie were loyal members of the first church I led. They freely admitted their need to learn more and to continue to grow in their knowledge and faithfulness. They made pastoring enjoyable. 10) Knowledgeable
None of these traits precludes our responsibility to know and understand in our faith journey. I think of Tim, who is a brilliant theologian, an experienced practitioner and an effective leader. He can share the gospel with everyone. 11) Fun
Ministry is hard and serious, but we should experience the joy of God in our work. My colleague, Jamie, and I laugh often—sometimes “just because,” it seems. 12) Reproducibility
The best team members I’ve worked with are those who raise up leaders to follow them. Shirley has always been an excellent teacher, but she has focused on training others who can then train more. She understands her work continues only if she is willing to think beyond herself. C h u c k L a w l e s s is dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., and president of the Lawless Group, a church consulting firm. Lightstock
WHAT HE KNOWS ABOUT MINISTRY COULD FILL A BOOK. IN FACT, ITS FILLED 16. Dr. Wayde Goodall has been called “a pastor’s pastor.” At NU, we’re proud to call him our Dean of the College of Ministry. His writing has been translated into 15 languages. He created Enrichment Journal, one of the leading magazines for clergy in the U.S. What does his knowledge and experience mean for students here? her Classes that are engaging, relevant, and practical. Theology that is sound. A faculty that is distinguished. And a world-class education that will fully equip you for ministry leadership. MA THEOLOGY & CULTURE MA MISSIONAL LEADERSHIP MASTER IN MINISTRY also online
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OUTREACH: S O C I A L
MEDIA BY BR ANDON COX
How to Use Social Media in a New Church Plant Who needs an advertising budget when social media spreads the word?
here’s a formula for launching a church in America: Collect lots of money. Spend lots of money getting the word out. Turn a big crowd of strangers into a church. It’s easy—if you have lots of money. But church planters are hackers by nature, right? It’s possible to get the word out in a better way, especially today.
page before we relocated so we could get a jump on connecting with people. We heard from people wanting more information long before our first vision meeting. And it grew quickly. If you’re going to use Facebook, you need to use it well: Understand the difference between a Facebook profile and a Facebook page. A Facebook profile is for people; a Facebook page is for brands, organizations, celebrities and other entities. Your church should have a Facebook page. Use your personal Facebook profile to connect with people. Through your own personal Facebook profile, you can connect with new people in your community, people who get in touch with your church about the plant and other people in your town you want to get to know. Maximize your church’s Facebook page. Facebook offers all kinds of great features for pages, such as cover images, avatars, events features and an “about” section (which, by the way, should include a link to your website right at the top so no one has to dig for it). Be sure to take advantage of them. Build one single page. When your church and its corresponding Facebook page reach critical mass, then you can start “sub” pages for different areas of your church, such as the kids’ ministry or small groups. Don’t Forget a Website
When my team and I began planting our church in northwest Arkansas, we didn’t want to drop a ton of money on massive but impersonal means of announcing our arrival—and we didn’t have a ton of money anyway. So we used Facebook. We’re still using Facebook. And it’s working. Proof That It Works
We started with two couples (including me and my wife), spent $0 on traditional advertising and had 35 at our first gathering in July 2011. We grew to approximately 80 people within six months through word of mouth and while continuing to spend $0 on traditional advertising. On our first official Sunday, we launched with 176 people—most of whom heard about it through Facebook, word of mouth and search engines. Today, we’re the most “liked” church on Facebook in northwest Arkansas, and an estimated 75 to 80 percent of our firsttime guests found us on the Internet. How to Use Facebook
We launched our church website and our main Facebook 64 MinistryToday March // April 2014
When we think about social media, we think of all the different social networks out there—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, to name a few of the majors—but I’m convinced you need to see your church’s website as a social network too. It’s a content hub of sorts, just like all the other platforms. Sometimes your goal is to move people from the established social platforms to your site. Sometimes it’s about moving people from your site to the social platforms. Either way, having a hub on the web in the form of a church website is essential. If you’re going to have a site, be sure to follow these steps: Design it with the end user in mind. This means caring less about aesthetics and more about usability. Make some information obvious on every page. I’m talking about gathering times, locations and directions here. Don’t make people search for this information. Make it readily available no matter where they are on your site. Tell the story of your church. Use pictures, testimonies and video. Avoid bland, impersonal statements and data. Make it findable via Google. Otherwise, it doesn’t exist. B r a n d o n C o x has been a pastor for 15 years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas sponsored by Saddleback Church and other strategic partners. He serves as editor of Pastors.com. © Istockphoto/Rawpixel
O r d i n a ry M I R AC L E S
COMING SOON: Take a sneak peek at what’s in Ministry Today’s special May/June issue
© istockphoto/kyoshino; AVAVA
Most churches and ministries, no mat ter what the size, can be proud of their kingdom accomplishments. A servant’s heart and attitude know no favoritism in God’s eyes, and He surely takes pride in the benevolent works of all His children. However, not all churches and ministries are the same when it comes to their ability to influence others to make an impact for the kingdom. Enter the Ministr y Today 21— a lis t of 21 churches and ministries that are influencing the 21st-century church. In our special May/June issue, we unveil these 21 unique ministries, all of which have become models for others to emulate in the ministry world today. This is not a list ranking the 21 best churches or ministries. The Ministry Today 21 was created as a resource for pastors and ministry leaders from which to glean ideas that could possibly enhance their own kingdom efforts. Trust us: You don’t want to miss this exciting issue!
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P A S T O R ’ S
H E A R T
BY THOM S. R AINER
Is It Time for Some Time Off?
Vacation time is critical not only for the pastor, but also for his or her family
remember speaking to a pastor a couple of years ago who was telling me all the ministries he led and areas he was involved in at his church. I then asked him an innocent question: “When do you take vacation?” His answer flabbergasted me. “I don’t,” he said. I thought maybe he had misunderstood, so I clarified. “In the past six years that you have served as pastor,” I said, “when did you take a vacation?” “I haven’t,” he restated. I had heard him right the first time. This pastor had deprived himself and his family of rest for the past six years. I anticipated burnout was not far away—and unfortunately, I was right.
Many pastors are reluctant to take a vacation. Who would care for those in need should they leave?
Sound Familiar? I think the pastor I encountered was a bit of an exception—six years without any time off is a rarity—but I have spoken to more than one pastor who has skipped his vacation for a year or two or even three. You may know pastors who take excessive vacations or abuse the vacations given to them, but those pastors are the unusual ones. And here’s why. Many pastors have no additional staff to cover for them should they take time away from the church. Though the laity do some of the work of ministry, let’s face it: Church members still want their pastor to be the one to visit the hospital, officiate funerals and counsel persons in crisis. As a result, many pastors are reluctant to take a vacation. Who would care for those in need of a pastor should they leave? Some pastors also admit to me that critics in the church get loudest when pastors aren’t around, so they’re reluctant to leave. They know when they return, the church will have stumbled into some type of conflict, so their vacation becomes a time of worry and wondering instead of enjoyment and restoration.
What Are the Rules? Numerous pastors share with me their uneasiness about vacations has to do with their simply not knowing appropriate protocol. If you have a corporate job, vacation 66 MinistryToday March // April 2014
policy is clear. Churches are different most of the time, though. For instance, some pastors wonder: How much vacation should I take? Many churches do not have a clear policy on this. How many Sundays can I be out? One pastor told me he was allowed to take three weeks of vacation each year but could not be out on a Sunday. What should I do if my vacation is interrupted? Many pastors return early from their vacations to conduct funerals or attend to other crises. Should they be allowed to take additional time off if they come back early? How do they make up the time lost with their families? Who should cover for me while I’m gone? This question is especially common where the pastor is a solo pastor. W hat about “mandator y vacation”? Some pastors simply refuse to be gone from their congregations. Should a church ever require it?
The Need Is There Serving as a pastor is a joyful calling, but it can also be a stressful calling. Pastors desperately need time—extended time—to rest and recharge. Very few vocations carry the same emotional highs and lows they face. The pastor’s family deserves vacation time too. A pastor’s spouse and children live through regular interruptions of family time. They know a pastor is on call 24/7 and that there’s no such thing as a “normal” life when it comes to being a family that serves the church. For this reason, vacations are critical to the health of the pastor’s family. Does any of this sound familiar? How do you handle vacations if you’re a pastor? What policies or guidelines does your church carry concerning vacation time? It’s time for our churches to do a better job caring for the mental health of our pastors—and for pastors to own their very real need for worry-free time off. T h o m R a i n e r is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.
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