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Tell It Well

Putting Evangelism in its Proper Place in the Church

Dr. Rice Broocks

Which Master Will Your Church Choose? You will find Princes of Mammon captivating, unusual and difficult to put down. In this novel you will learn about the deception and the difference of why it seems the ungodly prosper above the godly. Especially relevant to today’s times, Princes of Mammon involves conflict between wealth and power hungry men who always seem to prosper over the godly whom God must sift, chastise and refine before He can raise them up to serve His purposes. Among the characters is a strong woman who works alongside her husband and proves herself indispensable to their success while manifesting Christian virtues.

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One Place for Spiritual, Professional, and Personal Development Linda Fields, MBA, Founder and CEO of 7M-pact marketplace ministry brings 30

years of leadership experience in business and ministry to her clients ready to move forward in all spheres of society. As a coach and conference speaker, Linda relays compelling principles of leadership she learned first hand by launching an entrepreneurial corporate training center which positively affected over 150,000 participants with upgraded skills and careers. Linda brings this experience to leaders in corporations and church organizations through conferences and consulting tailored to help leaders overcome obstacles and uncertainty in order to fulfill their vision.

“Linda Fields is an extraordinary leader, mentor and coach for believers who are in the marketplace. As a career Minister I have been impacted greatly by Linda’s teachings and leadership. I highly recommend leaders to connect with her whether by the printed page, online or in live conferences. You will be glad that you did.” Rev. Mark T. Williams, Senior Leader Banner of Truth International

DOWNLOAD FREE Ministry Today Leaders KIT Experience it for yourself and share it with your team:

•  Pre-release Chapter 1 of The Fields Effect: Living and Leading Vision in everyday life •  Personal Assessment •  3 Teaching Videos •  Chapter 1 of IMPACT Your Sphere of INFLUENCE: Bringing God’s Presence to the Workplace •  IMPACT16 Conference - Leadership invitation

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c o n t e n t s V o l . 3 4 // N o . 2

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Tell It Well


Dr. Rice Broocks works with congregations around the globe to make evangelism training as integral to the church as worship and youth ministry. Most churches are not growing their congregations through winning non-Christians to Christ, and most don’t have an evangelist on staff to train believers to reach out in a winsome way. See what Dr. Broocks—the man behind the God Test app and the God’s Not Dead movies—is doing to help the church become more engaging.


Do your part to plan as you trust in the good future God is preparing for your church. By Warren D. Bullock

6 | TECHNOLOGY Use your tech gear as an instrument of worship By David Leuschner 8 | WORSHIP Keep your worship team volunteers motivated By Joshua Mohline 10 | YOUTH Take care to cultivate kids’ devotion to God By Lenny La Guardia





Shoreline Church Pastors Rob and Laura Koke provide a model for grieving a family tragedy as the world watches. By Anthony Petrucci


Christians can actively influence the marketplace under the blessing of God. By Linda Fields


Learn how the study of apologetics made me a better steward of our family insurance business. By Mark Tedford


Believers discover the benefits of alignment with each other through the ministry of the Christian Chamber of Commerce. By Di-Anne Elise


MinistryToday March // April 2016

54 | ASK AN EXEC Stan Jantz shows how Christian publishers are serving the church


58 | PASTOR’S HEART Learning how to forgive your people is critical to ministry


60 | GROWTH How to get your small groups past the 30 percent hurdle

62 | PREACHING Take your preaching skills to the next level of excellence


64 | REST How to make Sunday the best day of the week


12 | IN REAL LIFE Live through change in the good hands of an unchangeable God By Dr. Mark Rutland 14 | TRUE STEWARDSHIP Take a look at your ministry through the lens of stewardship By Chris Brown 66 | ON PLATFORM Learn how to stand out in the sea of messages bombarding your audience By Dr. Steve Greene

Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $20 per year for postage, other countries add $25 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X1Z1. © 2016 by Charisma Media. For advertising information call (407) 333-0600. Nothing that appears in Ministry Today may be reprinted without permission. PRINTED IN THE USA TOC: Rudy Ximenez | Cover: Sean Roberts | © iStockphoto/Tevarak

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Ministry Matters


Worshipping God With Tech Gear By David Leuschner I used to think the worship team members were “the people who lead music on the platform.” I didn’t think they had anything to do with the tech team. At the same time, I felt that worship only happened when I attended church and sang worship songs. But as I grew to be a leader of tech

ultimately preside over the service’s flow, creativity, atmosphere and the worship team’s abilities. Technicians are not behind the scenes; they are the scene. How a technician uses instruments of worship is critical to painting an atmosphere that welcomes

teams, the Lord shared with me that this thought process was wrong. God created us to worship. Technicians, musicians, preachers and the congregation all have a logistical role to play, but the main role we play is worshipping God in everything we do. As human beings, we were created to worship God, but how does that translate to a technician and his specific duties? The answer is simple: Our gear is simply an instrument of worship. If a worship leader with a piano, drums or guitar is considered playing an instrument of worship, then a technician’s sound console, camera or lighting board is just as much an instrument of worship. Many times, we ask our technicians just to be in the background and “make it happen.” But we need to realize that technicians are a critical part of the worship team. They

the Holy Spirit and engages the congregation in deep worship. This atmosphere doesn’t begin with how well we play our technical instruments of worship; rather, it all starts the moment we wake up in the morning. The spiritual environment we usher into our lives is the starting point of our worship. As John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.” Technicians must orient their spiritual lives in a way that points toward God and what He wants for us. This doesn’t start at church; it starts at home. Holding your tech teams to these standards will change your perspective on all of your tech needs, mistakes, wants, desires and performance. The goal is to reduce distractions and paint an atmosphere of worship through tech. That’s a vision the team can latch on to. It also creates a lens for


MinistryToday March // April 2016

everyone to look through when providing the tech needs of a worship event. Don’t get me wrong. I am not completely throwing out the need for qualified or talented people to operate your gear. Similar to the talent of a worship team member, gifted tech people who understand and can operate the gear is important. But I prioritize talent behind someone who has a heart for worship and a passion for the worship experience being the best it can be. You may say, “This is all pie in the sky!” You may think there is no way you can have someone who has this passion and also possesses tech abilities. My answer to you is this: It is possible, but it takes time and work. Be sure to set up systems that identify where people are in their walk with God, passion for worship and tech abilities. Just as a coach does, work hard not only to fill positions but to have layers on your team. These layers should include everyone who is just putting their toe in the water to test whether they like working in tech all the way up to the experienced and then leadership level. Develop a plan to train and move people from layer to layer, then make sure you have a way of monitoring those layers. This is critical to ensuring you have bench depth and the heart, culture and vision carrying throughout the entire team. As techs or tech leaders, our ultimate goal is to create teams whose members are not on the team to be cooler, flashier or more creative than the next church but want to use tech to point everyone’s attention toward our God. This happens when all of us use our talents, relationships, attitudes and abilities to worship Him in everything we do.

David Leuschner is associate senior director, technical arts and technology at Gateway Church in Dallas/Fort Worth. He facilitates the live audio, video and lighting for events and oversees approximately 230 volunteers and more than 30 full-time and over 60 part-time staff. G Made This

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To schedule your Media Audit, contact Jeremy Moore at 918-794-0414.


Ministry Matters


Keep the Volunteers on Your Worship Team Motivated By Joshua Mohline Building and managing a team is the most rewarding and, at the same time, the most challenging endeavor a worship leader can undertake. Many leaders who are entrusted with overseeing volunteers find themselves navigating unfamiliar territory, balancing their concerns for the team’s well-being with the practicalities of directing and developing the ministry. With such a broad task, there are three simple approaches to help your team feel valued while ensuring that the needs of your ministry are being fulfilled.

1) Set clear expectations up front.

When we first meet a potential volunteer, it’s natural to be excited. We’ve found someone we connect with who has a similar heart for ministry and is gifted and skilled. Often, though, the temptation can be to bring them on team immediately—before we communicate our expectations. To avoid confusion or frustration, have an initial meeting in which you lay out the contract for all volunteers. Despite the formality, this contract is simply a written agreement that expresses the ministry’s core values, behavioral expectations, vision for the future and weekly time commitment. Before inviting an individual to be a part of the team, he should know exactly what he’s getting into when volunteering. This protects volunteers from being overused because they can refer back to the clearly defined parameters of the agreement if they feel their boundaries have been breached. When our ministry started implementing these agreements, we saw a significant increase in commitment from team members. They understood they were stepping into something meaningful and being respected in the process.

2) Be generous.

Our volunteers are freely offering their time and talents week after week, so leaders should demonstrate gratitude with some 8

MinistryToday March // April 2016

generosity. This may be as simple as giving volunteers a free coffee at the church cafe or paying for the team’s meal at your next community gathering. We all want to be good stewards of our resources, but spending a few extra dollars in this way is an investment in your people. Showing you want to honor and bless your volunteers will go a long way toward creating a committed and unified team. Beyond paying for a meal or coffee, be creative with your generosity or think of ways to bless your team that don’t require spending money. Small gifts with an encouraging note can speak volumes. I once wrote a word of encouragement

on an old lantern about how one particular individual had a light that was visible wherever he went. The love of Christ was burning in his soul and radiated to those around him. This little act of blessing strengthened my relationship with him and the rest of my team because they felt they were seen and loved.

3) Lead with an open hand.

When people step into our world, it’s easy to expect them to be as passionate as we are about every aspect of the ministry. But as leaders, we need to give people permission and freedom to pursue the desires of their own hearts too. Practically speaking, we must recognize that our people have lives outside of ministry. If a volunteer calls in sick, is running late or needs time off, it’s vital

we meet those moments with grace. It’s healthy for people to take a break and be assured it won’t cause them to lose their place on the team or damage their relationship with their leader. Leading with an open hand also means giving space for volunteers to step into their dreams. For example, you may have a drummer whose preference is to play keyboard. An open-handed leader will create opportunities that will allow team members to explore these types of desires. It may require compromise on both sides to make this happen practically, but by limiting volunteers to one thing, you could eventually lose your drummer and also miss out on a potentially good keyboardist. Finally, open-handed leadership means having grace when people ask to be released from their commitments. It’s tough to do so when you love someone and you’re relying on them to fulfill their role. But holding onto people and demanding they stay involved will only push them further away if their hearts are no longer in their work. Let them see you care more about them thriving personally than you do about the ministry. Remember, as worshippers of Jesus, our ultimate ministry is to love people well, not to build an awesome band or craft the “perfect” church service. Consistently demonstrating how much you value your volunteers will cause your team to grow stronger, healthier and more unified in their own expressions of worship, servanthood and love.

Joshua Mohline is director of WorshipU (, the online school of worship from Bethel Music. With a background as a worship leader in settings from small to large, he has been a part of the Bethel Church worship teams since 2012. He facilitates the worship school, as it equips and empowers thousands of worship leaders and teams worldwide. 51200094_© iStockphoto/shironosov

Brett Durbin Are you CALLED to join God in His mission? Kentucky • Orlando • Memphis • Online

ministering in trash dumps around the world. co-founder of trash mountain project. asbury seminary m.a. christian leadership graduate. go to to hear brett’s story

Download your FREE ebook Called, from Asbury Seminary. Visit:

Ministry Matters V o l . 3 4 // N o . 2

Cultivating Kids’ Devotion to God

financially and spiritually, and so an adult focus truly becomes the work of a ministry. However, when a church focuses mainly on the success of its adult members, the consequence is a wasteland of children and youth whose spiritual needs are left unfulfilled. Leaders who use this approach often view children and youth as lost individuals who need to be engaged by programs— programs that will entertain them to prevent them from falling away—rather than as a vital part of the spiritual family who have the opportunity to be released into a ministry calling of their own. Children’s ministry today has a profound impact on the church of tomorrow. I understand the challenges we face today, but I also know that the future of the prayer and worship movement, the future of world missions and the future of justice ministries rely heavily on how we equip children and teens today. But I have a greater vision than simply equipping children for tomorrow. What if our children could grow in faith for signs and wonders today? What if revival was not just a program or an event in history books, but the spiritual environment our kids were walking in today? What if our children discovered their assignments in the Lord and 10 MinistryToday March // April 2016


Chief Financial Officer JOY F. STRANG

Publisher & Executive VP DR. STEVE GREENE

By Lenny La Guardia Formula-driven children’s ministry has dominated the modern church. Often, as a result, many curriculum developers have limited rather than empowered what children are expected to do in ministry. In many churches today, the emphasis is on teaching adults how to live godly lives. Adults are more developed intellectually,

began making an impact in the kingdom now? It is possible! I’ve seen it happen. But it’s not easy in light of the increasing cultural and spiritual barriers that dull the spirits of children and youth. Effective ministry to the next generation requires a search for divine guidance to contend with generational patterns and empower children and youth to live in wholehearted devotion to Jesus. We must apply these key foundational points to our own lives when praying for the children we care for, minister to and teach: Prayer is not a program. Prayer is a relationship with the living God, so it’s important to increase your own personal devotion and prayer life. Influencing children comes from your being influenced and impacted by God. Teach children that prayer is a relationship with God. By praying and listening to God, children are developing their own personal relationship and wholehearted devotion to God. Prayer is the road to a personal relationship with God. Teach children key biblical values. Children need to be taught the importance of practicing prayer and becoming familiar with the Word of God. Communicate Jesus’ worth and beauty in His identity. Emphasize to children that Jesus is the Lamb of God who forgives sins and gives redemption and eternal life. Equip children to discern. Give children the tools to distinguish between kingdom truth and the enemy’s counterfeit. Empower children to be spiritually active now, not to wait until they are adults. Train and empower them to be involved in the prayer movement, operating in signs and wonders. “Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer ... for all people” (Is. 56:7).

Lenny La Guardia is executive director of the Children’s Equipping Center and vice president of ministries at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. © iStockphoto/Christopher Futcher

Managing Editor, Print CHRISTINE D. JOHNSON Managing Editor, Online SHAWN A. AKERS Assistant News Editor JESSILYN JUSTICE Assistant Online Editor TAYLOR BERGLUND


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Funeral Drums, Life and Transition

Living through change in the good hands of an unchanging, unchangeable God


t is the middle of the night as I write this. Jet lag is in full sway, and I find myself wide awake. At least it is cooler now, the blazing African sun having begrudgingly given up its grip on the day. I am at our mission compound, the headquarters for Trinity Foundation, Ghana (as Global Servants is called here). From a village nearby I can hear funeral drums. I do not know who has died or even where the village is, but I know one of life’s transitions has occurred in a family not all that different from my own. I am reminded of my father’s recent death and what a transition it was for us. The old patriarch is gone. He was a tough guy, as one doctor put it, too tough to die easy. He was 93, a veteran of two wars and a fine Christian gentleman. No matter where I was in the world, I called him on every Veterans Day. Since I was born in 1947, I always joked with him how glad I was he lived through World War II. He obliged me with a laugh at the same silly joke every year. I will miss that little tradition and him very much. Our son, Travis, and I preached the memorial service, and my mother, who, at 91, still works in the office part time, was comforted and said she was at peace. It was a bit strange that only two days after that service, our seventh grandchild was born. I think what rattled me the most was when a friend in Texas said, “Now you’re the Rutland patriarch.” Is that it? Am I? I suppose so. And after me, it will be Travis and after him, his son, Mark. My wife said it reminded her of the words of a song by Blood, Sweat & Tears: “When I die, and when I’m gone/There’ll be one child born/In our world to carry on, to carry on.” When I was younger, I kept trying to “get everything fixed.” I thought a moment would come when everything and everyone would finally be in the right place. Then just as I seemed about to get it just as I wanted it, some seismic shift would dislodge it all. I’m not just talking life and death. Not all changes are bad. Far from it. A baby is wonderful. So were three babies, one right after another. But they changed everything. Grandchildren are fantastic, but they mean change. Promotions are terrific. So are new houses, new cities and new jobs. But they all mean change, and in real life, changes—even good ones—are stressful and challenging. My wife’s email address includes the phrase “23moves.” Hmm. Think that has history behind it? The trick, I am convinced, is to quit trying to get it all right. The next phone call could change your life.

Here is the truth. You never get it all fixed. Never. Just when you have things one through five in perfect order, thing seven breaks. Fix that and item number four needs to be replaced. Life is transition. So is leadership, because leadership happens in real life. Leaders who fight change are spitting into the wind. Poor leaders get angry at valuable employees who leave for better jobs, at church members who move away and at God for letting all that happen or even causing it. Employees sometimes leave. They get better jobs. They get pregnant. They just quit and move away. God calls them to new ministries. That is real life. And anyway, who does God think He is? As a former university president, I remember wincing whenever chapel speakers would tell the students: “This is the best time of your lives.” That kind of talk turns bold dreamers into cowering “professional students.” The worst thing about saying that to students is that it reinforces a fear they already struggle with. Many students actually fear—really fear—graduating. They spend years getting through college then absolutely freak out at the thought of graduating. Why? They fear leaving the warm, safe womb of the campus and plunging into the adventure. That is scary. I admit that. It is also the doorway into the rest and best of their lives. We must remember that above and beyond all of the transitions of life, God is the unchanging, unchangeable Ultimate Reality. Governments change. Whole nations and cultures shift. Certainly generations change. God does not. He is not just the God of Abraham, but of Isaac and Israel as well. We ourselves, our own lives, are in transition. To paraphrase poet John Donne, I do not know for whom the funeral drums sound in that nearby village. Not for me. Not quite yet. But they will someday. What I do know is that transition has come to that household. Don’t put your tent pegs in too deep. We are leaving in the morning.

“The trick, I am convinced, is to quit trying to get it all right. The next phone call could change your life.”

12 MinistryToday March // April 2016

D r . M a r k R u t l a n d is president of both Global Servants and the National Institute of Christian Leadership. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has over 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president. Life Touch


Through Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Bernis’s compelling teaching, you will better understand the specifics of God’s commitment to bring you through difficult times. Be confident that God can deliver you out of the trials and tribulations of life.

Read a fRee sample at:






Seeing Ministry as Stewardship

Managing God’s blessing God’s way is one of our highest callings as leaders


e all have a ministry filter—a lens that shapes the way we see what we do and why we do it. In fact, we may have more than one filter, depending on the context of our work and the opportunities in front of us. But I want to challenge you to see ministry through a lens you may have never considered—the lens of stewardship. From where I stand, looking at ministry through the eyes of stewardship changes everything. Of course, you really can’t use stewardship as an effective filter until you know what it’s all about, so let’s start with a question: What does stewardship mean to you? There’s a lot of confusion about the answer to that question these days. And that’s a problem because stewardship is one of our highest callings as believers. To get a better handle on what stewardship means, we need to think back several centuries to when the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible was first published. It was a time of lords and ladies ruling large tracts of land known as realms. Every lord had one person who watched over every detail of the realm’s business. That person was the “steward.” When the KJV translators needed a word to describe the responsibility of believers to handle God’s stuff well, that’s the image they used. It was familiar to their culture. They all knew about the rich lords who owned everything in the realm. They knew that while stewards handled a lot of resources, they actually owned nothing. Instead, they managed the lord’s assets for the lord’s benefit. Fast-forward to today. We don’t deal with lords and stewards very often, so it’s tempting to think that stewardship is just some old, stale word we’ve seen in church history books or in a capital campaign our churches dig out every year. To add to the confusion, the term is often used to describe taking care of the environment. But genuine, biblical stewardship goes so much deeper than any of that. Scripture traces stewardship all the way back to the Garden of Eden. In fact, stewardship is the first assignment God gave the human race. In Genesis 1:28, He told Adam and Eve to have dominion over everything that moves on this Earth. In other words, God commanded them to take care of His stuff. Adam and Eve were history’s very first “asset managers,” and God expects us to follow their example. For believers, stewardship means managing God’s blessing God’s way for God’s glory. He owns it all (Ps. 24:1), and we handle His stuff the way He

decides. We are His asset managers. But even though we understand the definition of stewardship, we’ve still got to deal with another common misconception. To use stewardship as an effective filter, we’ve got to get past the idea that it’s only about money. From God’s point of view, stewardship involves all of the blessings He provides—not just the financial ones. God brings into our lives our marriages, our kids, our friends, our health, our time, our talents and our opportunities. When we stop and think about it, even our ministries belong to Him. He trusts us to handle every single area for His glory. That’s an incredible responsibility (1 Cor. 4:2), but it really creates the foundation for using stewardship as a lens for ministry. Understanding the power of stewardship changes our worldview. And when our worldview changes, our actions change. That can take our ministries on a whole new trajectory. Ultimately, the stewardship filter can transform the entire DNA of your church. Anointing drips from the beard, so your example will flow down to other church leaders and members. Eventually, as stewardship becomes the church’s primary ministry lens, the entire culture changes. A new legacy will begin to grow before your very eyes. But it starts with a foundational gratitude to the One who owns it all and trusts us enough to be His hands and feet. Thankfully, stewardship is being reclaimed for God’s glory. Everyday people like you are starting to kick entitlement in the teeth and be unbelievably grateful for what they get to do. God is using that leadership to plant His message into the hearts of others. Best of all, it’s making a difference. Lives are transformed, marriages are restored, and teams are unified. That’s what happens when leaders do ministry through the lens of stewardship. When you use God’s blessings God’s way for God’s glory, God moves and lives change.

“To use stewardship as an effective filter, we’ve got to get past the idea that it’s only about money.”

14 MinistryToday March // April 2016

C h r i s B r o w n is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, pastor and dynamic speaker carrying the message of stewardship and intentional living nationwide as a Ramsey Personality. Available on radio stations nationwide, Chris Brown’s “True Stewardship” provides biblical solutions and sound advice for questions on life and money. You can follow him online (, on Twitter (@chrisbrownonair) or on Facebook (chrisbrownonair). Ramsey Solutions



Tell It Well Dr. Rice Broocks helps the church build a culture of evangelism and engage unbelievers BY CHRISTINE D. JOHNSON


any Christians haven’t a clue how to do the work to which Christ called them in the Great Commission—to make disciples. But is the church—especially in America—effectively equipping believers to be His witnesses? In some quarters, yes, but there is much work to be done—and no one more committed to it than Dr. Rice Broocks, co-founder of Every Nation and senior minister at Bethel World Outreach Church, a multisite church based in Brentwood, Tennessee. As the driving force behind the films God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2, Broocks is working with the church to empower believers to be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks why they have hope (1 Pet. 3:15). With hope in short supply in many places in the world and increasingly in the U.S., Broocks has set his sights not only on America but also on the uttermost parts of the world with the Every Nation ministry he co-founded with Phil Bonasso and Steve Murrell. Broocks doesn’t think small. Every Nation is making a dent with gospel truth across the globe, having grown to a family of more than 1,000 churches and campuses in over 60 countries. Many Every Nation churches get their start on the college campus.

Evangelize With Every Tool

Broocks believes the church should use all the tools at its disposal to share the gospel and defend the faith. Social media is one of the tools he uses, particularly Twitter, where he has more than 22,000 followers. A best-selling author, Broocks has written several books with an evangelism and apologetics focus, among them Man, Myth, Messiah: Answering History’s Greatest Question; God’s Not Dead; Every Nation In Our Generation: Recovering the Apostolic Mandate; and The Purple Book: Biblical Foundations for Building Strong Disciples, written with Murrell, a highly effective church planter in the Philippines. Beyond print, Broocks began using the more modern medium of film when New Orleans-based businessman Troy Duhon—who owns more than 20 car dealerships and was funding movies—first suggested the idea. Duhon put Broocks in touch with Pure Flix Entertainment, a partnership that led to God’s Not Dead, which became a sleeper hit at the box office. Duhon, the executive producer, “wrote the biggest check for the movie,” Broocks says. In the film, actor Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame stars as an atheist college professor who tells his philosophy class to write “God is dead” on a piece of paper and turn it in. When a Christian student refuses to do so and takes a stand for his faith, the professor challenges him to a debate, and viewers learn why Christians believe God is alive. Following on from its hit film, Pure Flix is releasing God’s Not Dead 2 in theaters April 1. The sequel tells the story of a high school history teacher taken to court by an atheistic civil liberties group. Man, Myth, Messiah offers the evidence behind the sequel for those who want more information or are driven by questions about Jesus after watching the film. » March // April 2016 MinistryToday   17

Not only is he employing social media, books and film, but he also launched an app that challenges people to take “The God Test.” After 30 years of ministry on hundreds of high school and college campuses, the need for such a tool became apparent. Available for iPhone or Android users, the God Test app is meant to be used by Christians to start, as Broocks says, “conversations that have eternal significance” and by non-Christians who want to examine what they know about God. (See our review of the app in the first sidebar.) Downloaded 17,000 times in 141 countries, the app has prompted tens of thousands of gospel conversations. Broocks has also seen “people come alive in sharing their faith” using the app. “My goal is to train you to share your faith in an hour or less,” Broocks says to Christians about why training videos are also available on the app. One thing important to Broocks was that the global survey on the app not be fake. “If we’re going to take a survey, it’s going to be real,” he says—and it is. In reviewing results from the survey, Broocks can tell where each God test was taken within 10 feet of where the test-taker was—valuable information to a researcher.

Equip Every Congregation

Broocks, who earned a master’s at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, and a doctorate in missiology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, has been told he wrote the first-ever dissertation not on evangelism but on the gift of the evangelist. Since its 2010 publication, his work has inspired others to write on the topic as well. “There is no gift of evangelism,” he says. “There’s only the gift of evangelist. Ninety-nine percent of people in the church are not evangelists.” The gift is cited in Ephesians 4:11 alongside apostles, prophets, pastors and teachers. “The gift of the evangelist was given to the church to equip God’s people to evangelize,” Broocks wrote in his latest book, Man, Myth, Messiah. Broocks believes that just as the local church has worship leaders on staff, they should have evangelists working alongside pastors and teachers too. First, however, 18 MinistryToday March // April 2016

“Churches are starting to realize that equipping people to defend their faith is just as vital as teaching the basic doctrines, or preaching encouraging and comforting messages on Sunday.” believers who are evangelists have to be identified and trained. The church must see the evangelists as an integral part of the body like they would a youth pastor or worship leader. But, Broocks says, when we think “evangelist,” we think “revivalist.” He decries this stereotype, asking, “How can we get evangelism beyond an event?” Instead, we must create what he calls a “culture of evangelism.” Broocks defines the word “evangelist” as a person “graced by God to proclaim the gospel to unbelievers while equipping believers to do the same.” His church has 70 evangelists and a senior evangelist “like a church would have a senior pastor,” he says. “We start out trying to identify that 1 percent first,” he says of the evangelists. He then addresses the most significant question: why only 3 percent of churches are growing through evangelism. The answer to that, Broocks says, is “we’re not clear about the gospel, we’re not certain whether we should even preach it, we don’t have evangelists functioning in the local church, and we really lack the tools. What tools do is they leverage the evangelist’s ability to the average person who doesn’t have that gift.” Evangelists and, in turn, believers of all ages must be equipped to tell their faith story and vigorously defend the gospel in the midst of a cultural onslaught that decries the truth about Christ. “Churches are starting to realize that equipping people to defend their faith is just as vital as teaching the basic doctrines, or preaching encouraging and comforting messages on Sunday,” Broocks says. Churches must teach believers to “winsomely engage” people with the gospel. For years, the church has trained believers to use tools such as Bill Bright’s tract The Four Spiritual Laws and D. James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion system, but there is always room for more tools to help believers share Christ.

“The ways you can engage unbelievers are as diverse as your own imagination,” he says, adding a caution. “Whatever method of engagement you use, make sure you get to the gospel,” he says. “Many people go out and they’re doing good works, but they never get to the gospel, as if that’s some kind of a stumbling block.” Broocks feels it’s necessary to use words to communicate the gospel. “There is a message that has to be presented,” he says. “Good works should adorn the gospel, but they don’t replace them. They should accompany them, just like signs and wonders.” He emphasizes that “preparing believers to give the reasons for their faith should be the highest priority for those engaged in Christian ministry.” How does a Christian know if he is part of the 1 percent in the church who are evangelists? Broocks cites several ways: the Lord’s voice, a prophetic word, spiritual fruit, a desire or burden for souls, peer affirmation and leadership affirmation. As a junior at Mississippi State, Broocks received a prophetic word about his gift and was told, “Always be ready to pack your bags.” Other than the factors above, why does Broocks think he is an evangelist? “I’m doing this ministry and I’m equipping people because nobody else wants to do it! I drew the short straw!” he quips. Broocks’ “defining moment” came when he baptized his atheistic brother, Ben, a third-year law school student who set out to talk Broocks out of his faith. “That was the catalyst for my entire family coming to faith,” he says. Broocks knows he is gifted as part of the 1 percent, but the real figure that sticks in his craw is 3 percent, the percentage of churches growing through evangelism. He set out to examine the data and deconstruct that number in his doctoral work. “The average Christian doesn’t know

the gospel,” he says. “The gospel is the Good News that God became man in Jesus Christ; He lived the life we should’ve lived; He died the death we should have died in our place; three days later, He rose from the dead, proving He is the Son of God and offering the gift of salvation to everyone who repents and believes in Him.” Churches do so much to draw people,

but Christians still don’t understand how to communicate the gospel. “When I go to speak (at churches), I say basically if you do nothing else, teach your people the gospel,” he stresses. “We’ve got seminars and tap-dancing ducks—I mean, look at all the stuff we’re doing to impress people to draw a crowd—and if we can’t empower them to know the gospel, I think it’s a tragedy, much less part of the reason for crisis.” The main problems leading to the crisis are that believers don’t know the gospel, there’s a lack of clarity about sharing it, and there are practically no evangelists in the church.

Reach Every Campus

Brooks is called to bring about a “cross-denominational apologetics and evangelism movement that equips people to defend their faith.” Through Every Nation, he is committed to establishing

The God Test App: A Review One of Rice Broocks’ most innovative projects is an app called “The God Test.” The God Test is, on the surface, a simple survey. Based on the respondent’s answer to the first question—“Do you believe in God?”—the app will present one of two sets of nine questions, one to assess a biblical worldview and the other to challenge atheists. Upon completion, the respondent can find resources to learn more about Christianity. But the app’s evangelistic capacity is where its genius lies. Anyone with The God Test on his phone can become a legitimate survey taker, asking friends, family or anyone on the street these questions to record the data—and, in the process, start a conversation about Christ. The app even comes with instructional videos, training believers how to share their faith in an hour or less. The God Test aims to train Christians who have a difficult time finding an “open door” to talk about matters of faith. The only way to train effective evangelists is to give them real-world experience in sharing their faith, according to Broocks, so The God Test is designed to remove barriers to that experience. “You can’t teach golf in a classroom,” Broocks says. “It’s the same for evangelism. This is an easy, genuine survey to help people start evangelizing, which helps evangelists come alive.” The app employs the power of digital media to reach people worldwide. More than 100,000 people have been tested using the app, which has been downloaded 17,000 times in 141 countries. One of the countries where it is most used is the Philippines, where The God Test has been downloaded around 5,000 times. The app has even been downloaded in distant locations like Jordan and Ghana. Over 200,000 test questions have been answered using the app. Moreover, thanks to data-collecting features within the app, the survey creators can tell both what respondents said and where they said it within 10 feet. These early numbers have Broocks excited about the app’s potential. “The God Test could be the largest raw-data survey about God ever,” he says. The data collected through The God Test has strong, practical usage. At a recent conference at Arizona State University, Broocks and his team promoted The God Test. Several students took the test, and the conference was able to use that demographic data to minister more effectively to the audience. Broocks and his team also are working on getting The God Test translated into more languages. During my time hands on with the app, I found it functional and well-designed, though at times lacking polish. As a highly tech-savvy millennial, I’m used to working with many different apps. The design is intuitive, particularly on the most important part—the survey. After the test concludes, an option comes up to see further resources, though I wish there were the option for the user to see the survey results. Without the ability to see the data, the survey offers limited value to the respondent— though it offers great value to the survey questioner and to Rice’s data-gathering team. Additionally, technical glitches display a lack of polish, though I expect that will be fixed soon. After all, the iterative nature of apps means that the development team can be constantly refining and smoothing the God Test experience. Ultimately, The God Test is an intriguing new tool. The app comes highly recommended to any Christian interested in sharing his faith. It is free to download and available on both iOS and Android operating systems.—Taylor Berglund March // April 2016 MinistryToday   19

“Christ-centered, Spirit-empowered, socially responsible churches and campus ministries” across the globe. Every Nation now has churches in 73 countries. “Our strategy is to go onto a campus and start there and also to have one foot in the campus and one foot in the community,” he says, observing why it’s so important to address the campus. “Whatever’s on the campus, five years later will be the values in society.” Broocks says he doesn’t want to be the “next big thing” in evangelism. “I’m not trying to be the next Ravi (Zacharias) or the next Josh (McDowell),” he says. Rather, Broocks is trying to win a million Christians willing to be used of God. “If we don’t get a million kids to defend their faith in this country, we lose,” he says. “We’re going to lose this thing. People are losing by (intellectual) driveby shootings. The average kid is losing their faith by a drive-by insult: ‘There is no God. Your God is like a tooth fairy. Jesus never existed.’” With 25 million people having watched the first God’s Not Dead movie and more than 8 million Facebook likes on its page, God’s Not Dead is certainly part of that movement. Broocks is also aiming to give away 1 million books to college students “to get this evidence in the hands of people,” he says, and to have ministries on hundreds of campuses around the world. Broocks finds young people “open to a credible presentation of the gospel and the truth of the Christian faith,” he writes in Man, Myth, Messiah, citing the urgency of defending the faith in an age when young people easily walk away from the church once they leave home for college. Battling ignorance on campus is critical as a student’s lack of understanding can easily lead to deception. “Time and time again in conversations with believers and unbelievers alike, the testimony is consistent that they either came to Christ or fell away into unbelief because of a few thoughts that seemed to change their worldview almost overnight,” he says. But Christians seeking to evangelize others and defend their faith had better be prepared, Broocks cautions. It’s a spiritual battle, so the forces of hell will be aligned against the Christian witness, not to 20 MinistryToday March // April 2016

The Gospel as a Human Right The Assemblies of God (AG) was launched with a fourfold mission of evangelism, worship, discipleship and compassion. One hundred years after its 1914 founding, the AG recommitted to evangelism with “The Human Right” campaign ( The campaign asserts that every person has the right to experience a clear and adequate presentation of the gospel. The concept of evangelism being a human right also intentionally came up in the movie God’s Not Dead 2. Defending Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart), the teacher on trial for her faith, attorney Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe) argues before the court that the “most basic human right is the right to believe.” Rice Broocks believes it is good to frame the gospel as a human right, as the metaphor is meaningful to young people today. “We’re very concerned about human rights, but ultimately, the most basic of human rights is the gospel,” Broocks says. Dr. George O. Wood, general superintendent for Assemblies of God, concurs. “This generation is very culturally sensitive to human rights,” Wood said when the campaign launched. “We’re actively involved in child advocacy, child sponsorships, water wells, feeding programs and any number of issues that deal with human rights. But there is a right that is even more basic and that is the right of every single person to have a clear and adequate presentation of the gospel of Jesus. We want to ensure this human right is being met worldwide.” Speed the Light—the student-led initiative that provides students the opportunity to engage in missions—is the global expression of The Human Right movement, and Youth Alive—which works cross-denominationally to connect youth ministry to the schools—is the local expression. Broocks also helps believers launch faith conversations through his What Matters Most? A Survey of Human Rights (My Healthy Church), which includes a simple survey about human rights. The product then guides participants to consider knowing Jesus as the most important right of all. mention the fact that one must be prepared to handle the intellectual objections. Brian Miller, who speaks with Broocks, is an example of a student who left the faith while in college. Now a physicist, Miller lost his faith while taking a Bible course at the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Later, while earning his Ph.D. at Duke University, he fully committed himself to Christ “based on being willing to follow the evidence wherever it led.” It’s stories like Miller’s that reveal why it’s so important to reach students on campus today. Overall, Broocks knows most Christians are “scared to death of evangelism,” and many aren’t really sure what the gospel is, so he encourages them

to “memorize and master the gospel.” It also helps for Christians to use simple approaches to sharing their faith. He recommends acronymns such as SALT and GREAT to remind believers how to get their message across effectively. SALT stands for Start a conversation; Ask questions; Listen; and Tell the story, while GREAT refers to Gospel, Reasons, Empathy, Approach and Tools. God has given Broocks an assignment, and he plans to take as many churches as possible with him toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. C h r i s t i n e D . J o h n s o n is managing editor, print, at Charisma Media. Contact her at

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Trusting in the good future God is preparing for your church BY WARREN D. BULLOCK


aking our seats on the platform of a small rural church where I was the guest speaker, the pastor looked at the pianist and said, “What shall we sing?” Immediately, I recognized I was not in a church that did much planning—long or short range. Now, it’s possible the pianist had been designated to plan the worship music. Perhaps the pastor depended on her to pick appropriate songs for the service. Maybe they had reached a comfort level in their respective roles. But it came across as poor planning—or none at all. Most pastors would agree that short-term planning is needed, but not all are committed to planning for the long term. However, church leaders should view long-term planning as an act of faith in the good future God is preparing. They then can embrace a process that includes unified vision, purposeful mission, measurable goals, clear communication and meticulous “due diligence.” Planning for the long haul takes persistence, sensitivity to God’s timing and adaptation to the unanticipated. However, tension can exist between what we perceive to be God’s role in building the church and what our role is, between divine sovereignty and human initiative. If God is already in our future preparing it for us—and He is—and if Jesus has promised to build His church—and He has—why March // April 2016 MinistryToday   25

do we need to spend time detailing plans for the future? Shouldn’t we operate day to day, week to week, waiting to see what God has developed for us? We certainly should live with a sense of anticipation at what God has prepared for us. But God has chosen to use Spirit-empowered believers to accomplish His plans. So in the church, He establishes leadership (Eph. 4:11), He empowers believers (Acts 1:8), and He distributes gifts to the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7). He has not elected to bypass us but has distinctive roles for us in building His church. One of the ways we cooperate with Him is through long-range planning. This can be approached in a variety of ways but should include at least two primary factors: development of ministry strategies and responding to opportunities.

Ministry Strategies

It is assumed here that the church understands its primary task to be reaching lost people for Christ. Therefore, the strategies developed will focus on the ways and means of best accomplishing that goal. Each ministry area needs to strategize so that all ministries are in alignment with this common mission. While we can learn from what other churches do, the Holy Spirit is creative enough to help us craft strategies unique to our community and our church. In our strategic planning, it is often as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do. A pastor in our church network felt led of the Spirit to plant a church in a growing community in the greater Seattle area. It was a highly affluent community, among the most expensive places in Washington to live. It did indeed need a strong church. A new member of the fledgling church had access to day-old bread from a nearby bakery, so one of their ministry strategies was to distribute it to all attendees after every service. But when affluent people from the community came to visit and were offered free bread, they were insulted and never returned—good motives, wrong strategy. The apostle Paul’s strategic plan was to preach in Asia, but he was kept by the Holy Spirit from doing so (Acts 16:6). Then he tried to enter Bithynia, but “the Spirit did not allow them” (Acts 16:7). 26 MinistryToday March // April 2016

“Perhaps once in a church’s lifespan, it will make a decision that will impact an entire generation—what might be called a ‘40-year decision.’” Why? God was going to open a door they could never have anticipated.

Unexpected Opportunities

Here was the opportunity only God could see: “During the night a vision appeared to Paul: A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’” (Acts 16:9). Paul responded to that call immediately. He set aside his strategy in order to respond to an opportunity. These unique occurrences are unplanned sovereign interventions, sudden open doors. We don’t always see them coming. In Paul’s case, one door closed so another could open. He altered his plans so he could follow God’s agenda. These two approaches to planning are not contrary to one another. They are not “either/or” issues but “both/and.” We will both strategize and respond to unusual opportunities.

Planning Principles

Here are some simple, long-range planning principles to keep in mind: 1) Pray, but also act. There certainly is no substitute for prayer, but neither is prayer a substitute for action. We can’t say, “I’m praying about it” but do nothing. Prayer makes us receptive to God’s great ideas. Prayer energizes planning and prompts action. 2) Be nimble but not impulsive. Open doors often require quick responses, but not every open door is God’s will. Opportunities may abound, but not every opportunity will be compatible with the direction God is presently leading the church. Don’t jump through every open door. 3) Be decisive, but sense God’s timing. The fact that a decision has been made about a certain ministry doesn’t mean it has to be announced next Sunday. Remember, we’re talking about long-range planning. Make sure the building blocks for success are in place. Take time to get key leaders on board. Put dollars in

the budget to ensure adequate funding. 4) Be open to change, but maintain the fundamentals. Change will happen. We can initiate it or be surprised by it. But when significant changes are made, keep core issues the same. Assure the people that the changes do not contradict doctrine, are compatible with the church’s faith-filled history and will advance the biblical mission.

Organizational Systems

As the church grows, it will outgrow the systems that have allowed the congregation to function effectively and efficiently. This happened in Acts 6 when the distribution of food to the Hebraic and Grecian Jewish widows was not equitable. The response to this problem was a systemic change—the establishment of a new layer of leadership—which resolved the issue. Long-range planning needs to take into consideration the need for systems change as the church develops. A few areas where such change will be required are: hh Financial growth and fundraising. Are adequate internal controls in place? At what point in the church’s development would a financial audit be advantageous? What special emphases will require a strong influx of funds? What should the church’s debt ceiling be? What funds will be needed for building maintenance and expansion? hh Missional expansion. At what point in our development should we plant another church? What type of church would it become? Who would be the campus pastor? How would it be financed? What should our international outreach entail? Which missionaries will we support? hh Annual preaching calendar. What biblical themes need to be emphasized? What are the discipleship needs of our congregation? Could PowerPoint, drama, video and other options be more effectively used to enhance communication? What guest © iStockphoto/Sadeugra

speakers would undergird and supplement the pastor’s ministry? hh Main church services. How can our service plans be better coordinated with the preaching? Have the services become routine? What adjustments could make them more effective? Does the music encourage congregational participation? Is everything done with excellence? How might we more consistently support the services with prayer? hh Staff changes. What key positions may need to be added or deleted? What portfolios need to be adjusted? What training can be provided to enhance pastoral ministry? What helps can be offered to assist in balancing work and family? Is the salary structure equitable? Systems breakdowns are alerts telling us change is needed. Long-range planning does not ensure no more breakdowns will occur, but it can help to reduce their frequency and impact.

Pastoral Succession

It has been my observation that many congregational churches struggle with the issue of pastoral succession. Having counseled scores of churches during the process of pastoral selection, I know that church boards and search committees often feel they are “in over their heads” as to what to do. There are two basic approaches to the process, only one of which relates to long-range planning. The first approach is the most common. The pastor resigns. A search committee is appointed consistent with the church’s constitution and bylaws. The church communicates with and receives counsel from denominational officials. Résumés and phone calls from prospective pastors begin to arrive. Selected candidates are interviewed. One candidate is presented to the congregation. The membership votes. A new pastor is elected. Obviously there are many variations of this process. The second approach to pastoral succession begins developing long before the pastor resigns. The pastor should initiate the process with the goal of selecting a new leader before he resigns. He carefully guides the church board through the intricacies and sensitivities of the selection. A candidate may emerge from the pastoral staff, or a potential successor may be asked to come and be a part of the pastoral team. 28 MinistryToday March // April 2016

Inviting the candidate to be on the pastoral team gives him ample opportunity to get acquainted with the people of the church, learn its systems and understand the culture. For the candidate, this is extremely risky because there is no assurance the plan will succeed. The risk turns into reality when the succession process is aborted. This can happen because (a) the pastor doesn’t resign as planned; (b) the pastor becomes disenchanted with the successor; (c) the chosen successor becomes frustrated with the process and changes his mind; or (d) the congregation doesn’t like the successor or the process of selection. Knowing these potential pitfalls, however, the pastor and church body can successfully navigate through them, and the congregation is blessed by a smooth succession process and continued effective ministry.

40-Year Decisions

Perhaps once in a church’s lifespan, it will make a decision that will impact an entire generation—what might be called a “40-year decision.” Israel made such a decision when they declined to advance into the promised land, and for 40 years, they reaped the harvest of that fateful decision. The early church made a 40-year decision when it determined that Gentile Christians would not be required to be circumcised (Acts 15). That decision had positive impact well beyond 40 years.

When the wrong decision is made, a church plants the seeds of death and decay; the congregation rarely survives that decision. Oh, it may still exist for another 40 years, but it has missed its best opportunity for significant impact for the kingdom. When the right decision is made, the seeds of faith and life are planted. Fruitful and productive years follow. I served a church that made a decision to leave an old, landlocked facility, relocate on 18 acres and build a new facility. It was the right decision, and now, 40 years later, the church continues to thrive. Wisdom demands we recognize such significant moments in the church and lead the congregation with clarity, confidence and humility. The men of Issachar were noteworthy for two things. First, they understood the times, and second, they knew what to do (1 Chr. 12:32). Through research and study, we can understand the spiritual characteristics of our times. The challenge is in knowing what to do. But we have confidence that the Holy Spirit also understands the times and He knows exactly what to do. He will give clear and certain guidance to our long-range plans for the future. W a r r e n D . B u l l o c k is a teaching pastor at Peoples Church in Salem, Oregon. He is author of Your Next Pastor, When the Spirit Speaks and When Words Hurt. Contact him at © iStockphoto/Sadeugra

Caleb Koke enjoys spending time with the kids of El Salvador on a mission trip.

have blamed them for pulling back) is a testimony to the resilience, hope and life we have in Jesus. I believe that God can use our suffering and even life’s most torturous circumstances for His eternal purposes— evidenced in the way that Caleb’s life and Rob and Laura’s ministry have impacted so many, even after his death.”

Grieving the Future

From the beginning of the grieving process, Pastor Rob and Pastor Laura, who have been married for nearly 30 years, chose to be transparent about their brokenness with their congregation of 5,000. “We don’t have all the answers, and we have not figured it all out,” Pastor Rob confessed. “As people on the same journey as so many other people who face difficulties and loss, there is an appropriate place for vulnerability in a church. In fact, people identify with pain and suffering more than they do with success.” These pastors refused to put on any Christian “mask” to hide their questions and struggles as they sought to come to terms with the tragedy God allowed in their lives.

“Living for a cause bigger than ourselves and getting the focus off ourselves have made a huge difference.”—Laura Koke “I don’t understand how people who lose a child survive without Christ,” Pastor Rob says. “It’s been said that when you lose a parent, you grieve the past. When you lose a spouse, you grieve the present. But when you lose a child, you grieve the future. We’ll never experience Caleb graduating from college, getting married, having his own kids. We miss Caleb tremendously.” From the start, Pastor Laura realized life would never be the same again. “For years, I had a stabbing feeling in my heart every day I woke up, saying to myself: ‘This is real. Oh my God, for the rest of my life ... so much pain.” Reaching for his wife’s hand, Pastor Rob explained how negativity knocked on the door of his own mind as the accident stirred up hard questions. “When you go through tragedy and loss, you ask yourself: ‘What did I do wrong?’ Maybe what I thought about God

isn’t true. Maybe God is all-loving but not all-powerful. If He loves me, God would have stopped the car from hitting the tree.” The Shoreline Church pastors are glad “Job’s friends” did not show up at their house. “When you go through loss, people don’t know what to say. Emotions are so tender. It’s better not to explain the unexplainable. Just give hugs and love.” “No matter what someone says at a time of tragedy, all they’re trying to say is: ‘I am sorry for what happened in your life’ and ‘I love you.’ I can’t tell you how much that helped. People mean well.”

Trusting in God

In their loss, the Kokes were more parents than pastors—more frail humans in need of Christ than superspiritual Christians. Their story is the story of hundreds or perhaps thousands of ministers March // April 2016 MinistryToday   31

Rob, Luke, Danielle and Laura Koke

who have suffered heart-breaking loss. “You never get over it,” admits Pastor Rob, who shared how recently seeing Caleb’s old scorecard from a game of Yahtzee prompted deep sadness. “You absorb it into a new reality.” Pastor Rob found hope when another pastor who had lost a child reached out in a letter. “Don’t exchange what you do know for what you don’t know,” the letter advised. Pastor Rob was challenged not to let the pain steal from him what he did know— Jesus loves him and his family; heaven is for real; and he will be reunited with his son in heaven someday. “There are some things in life you cannot understand, but with Jesus, there is a peace that passes all understanding,” he says. The Kokes stand on the truth of God’s Word. “Our only source of peace is that heaven is a reality,” Pastor Rob says. “When I see Caleb in heaven, no one should bother me for the first thousand years of eternity because I just want to hang out with my son.” These pastors find comfort in the reality that Caleb was “relocated” to heaven. “We are spiritual beings,” Pastor Laura 32 MinistryToday March // April 2016

observes. “Each of us doesn’t just have an earthly destiny; we also have an eternal destiny. Life does not end with this life. We keep going.” Pastor Rob adds: “In the most poignant moments in the first two weeks after Caleb’s relocation to heaven, God spoke to me deep in my heart that ‘I have your son and your dad.’ When you have the Holy Spirit giving you assurance, it’s very special.” God has also given Pastor Laura dreams about her son. “When I wanted to touch Caleb, I’d have a dream, and Caleb would hug me in my dream,” she says. “When [his passing] hits home, I thank God for heaven. Caleb graduated to the ultimate. And we will get to be together forever.” Once when Pastor Laura was in and out of weeping and she had a deep desire to know that “everything is OK,” it seems that God sent her a sign: “The most brilliant rainbow—a triple rainbow—appeared, speaking to my heart ... the promise of heaven,” she says. A few months after her son’s passing, Pastor Laura spoke at SHINE, Shoreline Church’s annual women’s conference that attracts more than a thousand

participants each October. “I couldn’t believe I could share at SHINE 2009, but I felt God’s presence, and I felt as if Caleb was cheering me on to share the love of God and to encourage others.” The key to the Kokes’ dealing with the tragedy has been a purposeful decision to put their trust in God. “Sometime after his relocation to heaven, I said, ‘God, I trust You. I don’t understand it, but I know You love me,’ ” she says. “I did not want to live in depression. I want to live this way: ‘God, I want to live in awe and wonder every day.’ We learn to embrace the difficult while enjoying every day.” Finding healing through sharing her story, Pastor Laura recounted in her book Wonder her experience as a mother who went from tragedy to trust.

Equipping the Church

The Kokes have two other children, Danielle and Luke, who suffered the loss of their brother. After the accident, it took Pastor Rob a while to release Danielle and Luke to fully live their own lives. “I said to myself years ago, ‘This has happened to me once. I don’t want it Rudy Ximenez

to happen again,’” he says. “But tragedy affects people differently.” Danielle was 14 when Caleb died. Caleb had been her best friend, according to her parents, so it was a significant struggle to cope with the loss. Danielle fell into the pit of alcohol and drug abuse. “Danielle got caught in a cycle that she couldn’t get out of,” Pastor Rob says. “She got treatment, and she celebrated one year of sobriety in November of 2015.” Now, Danielle attends Celebrate Recovery and is helping facilitate at their church, The Landing, a teen recovery program affiliated with Celebrate Recovery. “She has found an incredible sense of faith, purpose and destiny for herself,” Pastor Rob says. The Landing equips churches to offer a support group for teens dealing with peer pressure, abuse, addictions, parental divorce, bullying, anger, codependency and depression. Providing a safe place for those in recovery is now woven into the way Shoreline operates as a church. Not only has the Koke family survived the death of a son, but they also have used their grief to lead their church into a recovery that is changing lives in ways few churches do. In his sermon series on freedom from hurts, habits and hang-ups, Pastor Rob uses a video titled “Danielle’s Story” in which Danielle shares her recovery experience. At press time, the video had been viewed 17,600 times.

Making a Difference

The Kokes found help through a commitment to live for a cause—a higher purpose. To honor their son, they formed the Caleb Foundation, which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past six years to build three orphan homes, a wing in a children’s hospital in Haiti, a playground in Africa and other projects to help support children and young people in need. “Living for a cause bigger than ourselves and getting the focus off ourselves have made a huge difference,” Pastor Laura says. “It brings some joy to know the next generation will be affected by what the Caleb Foundation does. When you keep giving your life away, the ‘cause’ kicks in.”

Caleb, left, and Luke Koke

The Kokes have found that helping to heal others brings a measure of healing to themselves as well. “Because of people and the outpouring of their love, you wouldn’t be able to convince me that there is no God,” she says. “God brings you what you need when you need it.” However, both pastors were quick to say that in spite of all of the good the Caleb Foundation has done, the work doesn’t help “make sense” of their son’s death. The foundation “doesn’t make it OK or justify (Caleb’s passing),” Pastor Rob says. “At the same time, God is a redeemer.” Thankfully, the family has found stability on what has been a rocky road. “We’re experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives more richly than ever before,” Pastor Rob says.

Renewing Their Minds

Pastor Rob is grateful that the Bible addresses grieving. “Grieving rewires your brain to be able to function,” he says. “A healthy emotional response is honestly dealing with the pain, but (it must be) grieving with hope because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Every night for three years, the couple has read a book about grief recovery or

heaven in order to continually renew their minds. “Grieving is part of healing,” says Pastor Laura, who has a doctorate in chiropractic care. “If you don’t deal with it, it can manifest in unhealthy ways.” Although the Kokes aren’t aiming to be “grief experts,” the way they have learned to deal with their pain serves as an example other church leaders can follow. “Life is about embracing the truth,” Pastor Rob says. Instead of ignoring or denying their hurt, they have embraced the pain as a path to peace and healing. “Turn to irrefutable Truth: God is allpowerful. Look at creation,” Pastor Rob says. “And God is all-loving. Look at the cross. Where does it leave you while processing your emotions? That’s the place where Laura and I landed.” The couple’s experience is a model of recovery for church leaders who suffer significant loss. “With God, nothing is wasted,” Houston says, “And the Koke family is a beautiful example of the grace and faithfulness of our God through every season.”  A n t h o n y P e t r u c c i is a freelance writer who has also contributed to Charisma magazine. March // April 2016 MinistryToday   33

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DOING THE GREATEST WORK ON EARTH Christians influence the marketplace under the blessing of God


ould it be that the man or woman available to God can partner with Him in the marketplace, bringing heaven to Earth the other six days a week? God’s plans for people in the workplace are greater than we imagine. All work devoted to God is holy. Customer service representative or CEO, musician or mayor, principal or pastor, we all have the privilege to shine brightly in our daily assignments, transforming society. Yet something holds us back. Most people settle for a life at work that is far less rewarding than what is possible. Believing that work is anything less than sacred reduces our lives to a daily grind filled with struggle. But what if we are all

36 MinistryToday March // April 2016

BY LINDA FIELDS called to do the greatest work on Earth in daily life? “And wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and pleaded with Him that they might touch even the fringe of His garment. And as many as touched Him were healed” (Mark 6:56). Jesus met the needs of people in the marketplace as well as in the temple with healing and solutions that transformed lives and impacted society—we are to do the same and more. Our society is comprised of seven spheres where people are divinely positioned with skill, a desire to serve and a natural place from which to influence the world. These spheres—business,

government, education, family, arts, media and religion—are simply the lanes in which we work, live, play and have the opportunity to be the church in everyday life. But most are content to point people to church buildings and Christian programs to get a touch of Jesus from the professionals. We are held hostage to the lie that our work doesn’t matter to God, that paid preachers are the only ones actually doing God’s work. Mike Bickle, director at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC), believes the church has missed it when it comes to revealing God’s heart for believers in the marketplace. “It is time for pastors in the body of Christ to address the lie that has hindered

© iStockphoto/boggy22; ismagilov; matdesign24

many who work in schools, at city hall or businesses,” Bickle says. “The lie is that their work is not a ministry calling to build up the kingdom of God. It’s time to bless what these marketplace men and women have been doing to serve God in a significant way. They are faithful believers and vessels of God’s kingdom purposes; their work is precious and valuable in God’s sight.” For the man or woman who has a holy calling to teach, legislate, create, entertain or do business, it’s time to settle five

questions lurking in the hearts of believers on their way to work Monday morning. 1) Does my work matter to God? 2) How can I be a godly influence at work without being weird? 3) How does God provide divine direction and solutions for practical problems and dilemmas at work? 4) How can I partner with God to transform society beyond my offerings at church? 5) Should I quit my job and go into ministry? I have discovered answers to these questions through prayer and life experience, so

I make it my aim to continue to share some of my own journey to illustrate how this can work out in daily life.

God’s Care for Our Work

From selling tickets in a movie theater at age 16 to building a corporate learning center to leading a global marketplace prayer initiative, I have learned how much God wants to be involved in our daily work. I can only imagine what church folks thought of the preacher’s kid working at the movie theater. But I prayed for that job, and

“As ministry

leaders, we can help marketplace believers understand their spiritual significance in the workplace. They need to know they are in the perfect place to be a world changer.



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God opened the door. I felt His presence and pleasure over me as I showed up on time, completed my duties and learned how to deal with all kinds of people. I learned that my work at the movie theater mattered to God. He was with me and used that first job to help shape the person I would become. Work isn’t a necessary evil. It’s a divine invitation to grow as believers and make a difference in the world. God loves to show up in the mundane of life with His mercy and miracles. As leaders, it’s important we teach people to expect God at work, to invite Him in and to trust His leadership. Now, let’s fast-forward a few decades.

The Strangest Secret for Success

I sat in a faculty meeting listening to the academic dean talk about the new year as I scribbled a desperate prayer on a legal tablet. I loved teaching business, but my heart ached for more of God, more opportunity and more challenge. Should I leave the college for fulltime work in the church? Was I wasting my gifts and talents in a “secular” job? Could I become and do more for God in the ministry? I soon realized I was asking the wrong questions. I was reaching people every day I would never see at church. I prayed for 38 MinistryToday March // April 2016

my students. Co-workers came to me for help with their problems. God gave me creative ideas in the classroom. I began to understand I was serving others in my work as a pastor or priest (1 Pet. 2:9). He was showing me the transformational value and holiness of work in a dramatic way. Within two weeks of my scribbled prayer, I had the beginning of a divine answer staring me in the face. The adage “be careful what you pray for” crossed my mind as the magnitude of the opportunity unfolded. The college leadership asked me to create a corporate training center as part of the university to serve local businesses. It was an incredible opportunity that led to a unique collaboration between education, industry and the community that people came from around the world to experience. It was amazing to see God touch lives, influence careers and build up the economy as we trained more than 150,000 participants in the next 12 years. We had never worked harder, cried louder or rejoiced more as we watched God show up. In my home, in the car, on the fly, in the board room and deep in the night, I cried out to God for guidance because I knew He was listening and speaking. We all felt we were on a holy assignment, and heaven came to Earth Johanna Commons

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a little every day in the form of practical plans, burgeoning contracts, resolving of conflicts and creative solutions birthed in prayer and carried out in excellence. God had given me a living laboratory to learn what it meant to work from the place of prayer. It’s the strangest secret for success.

Forerunners in the Marketplace

Things were going well, and life was better than ever. Then I felt a divine nudge. My husband, Rick, and I decided to visit the International House of Prayer in the summer of 2006. I had never seen anything like it, people from all over the world gathering in 24/7 prayer. I was delighted to discover that they also had a ministry to people like me working in the marketplace who valued prayer. It was like connecting with a family you never knew you had.

We felt God was inviting us to help prepare the way for what He wants to do in the marketplace, bringing transformation in the various spheres of society through ordinary men and women. What followed was a series of events that led to our relocating from Texas to Kansas City, joining the ministry team and leading the marketplace arm of IHOPKC. Our move meant leaving everything we’d built in the past 24 years and, more importantly, our aging dads. But God confirmed it through our house selling within four hours of placing a For Sale sign in the yard and, more significantly to us, the blessings of our fathers. I’d love to say everything worked out exactly as planned, but the best stuff in God never does; His plan is always greater. Today, I am privileged to lead 7M-pact, a community of forerunners in the marketplace, men and women from all spheres

5 Proclamations for Christians at Work 1) Work matters: All work is holy, and my work matters to God. I believe God cares about work and is present in my work. I am hopeful about and thankful for the calling I have in my workplace assignment. I accept this calling as a holy assignment (Prov. 29:18). 2) Prayer works: I will pray and engage with the holy in my work. I will ask God for spiritual insights and blueprints for my work. I will also pray with others for the marketplace in my city to be transformed. 3) I have the power to bless: I am a priest bringing blessing in the marketplace. I will look for opportunities to bring God’s presence to those in my spheres of influence. I will bless the individuals I encounter as small congregations spanning cubicles, companies and communities. I will seek to hear from God at work, carry out my work as holy and bring transformation in my workplace (1 Pet. 2:9). 4) I will embrace community: I will participate in and honor community with other like-minded believers to transform our world. I will seek out believers in gatherings such as small-group studies face to face or in online groups or conferences and to hear from others and share testimonies, building up a community to do the work on the front lines of society together (Eccl. 4:9-10, 12). 5) I will run hard after God: I am on the journey with God! As a believer in the marketplace, I am going on a journey to know my God and do great exploits with Him. I will run after Him, desiring to know my God better. I trust Him to empower me to do the exploits He has for me to bring heaven to Earth in my work (Dan. 11:32-33).

40 MinistryToday March // April 2016



There are certain things we all should be aware of when we evangelize:

• Tailor your message to the audience at hand. We don’t use the same starting point for everyone we encounter. When Saint Paul evangelized a city, he went to the Jewish synagogue first, and then to the Gentiles. He used a different approach for the Jews than he did for the Gentiles. For the Jews, he tried to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah they were expecting. For the Gentiles, he used a different approach because they knew nothing of the Messiah the Jews were expecting. In Athens, Paul pointed to the statue to the unknown god as a starting point for his evangelism.

• There is no need to feel guilty if the person we evangelize does not come to Christ. God is the one who draws the person to His Son. When Paul was instructing those who were married to unbelievers, he said that “if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases; but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:15-16).

• Always be ready to have an answer. There are those who are formal evangelists see Ephesians 4:11); but the rest of us do it part time, within the framework of our daily lives. Peter tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15; see also Luke 10:2).

• We are to evangelize in joy and peace. “For ye shall go out with joy; and be led forth with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12). Joy and peace are from the Holy Spirit. We don’t get upset if someone doesn’t want to listen to us.

• God controls the outcome. He is the one who gives repentance. Paul tells Timothy that “the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth, and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:2426; see also 1 Corinthians 3:6-8; Isaiah 55:11). There is no guarantee that the person that we talk to will be reconciled to God. We can force someone to go to church on Sunday or bow down to Allah 5 times a day, but we can’t force someone to have biblical faith. This is why there can be no forced conversions in Christianity. It is antithetical to real Christianity.

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of society who are changing the world at work. Each Monday, those of us in Kansas City gather in the Global Prayer Room for a prayer meeting at 6 a.m. Marketplace believers join from all over the globe by live Web stream in corporate prayer. We also host conferences and webinars and publish resources to inspire and equip. We are honored to be part of a growing global movement of believers who are using their lives to make a difference at work. 7M-pact is an expression of IHOPKC, serving the broader body of Christ all over the world to impact the seven spheres of society through the marketplace. There have been times throughout history when we as believers must expand our paradigm to embrace what God is doing Pastor and Experiencing God author Henry Blackaby believes strongly in God’s activity in the workplace. “God is marshalling His people in the workplace as never before in history,” Blackaby says. “God is up to something. The next spiritual awakening could take place in the marketplace.” Something is happening among believers all over the world. There is a yearning in their hearts for more. God is awakening men and women to see His purpose in their work. The problem is, many in the workplace never hear teaching on the holiness of work and the role of the marketplace priest. As 42 MinistryToday March // April 2016

ministry leaders, we can help marketplace believers understand their spiritual significance in the workplace. They need to know they are in the perfect place to be a world changer as a part of God’s plan right where they are. You’ll remember in history that Martin Luther codified and nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church, questioning the practice of paid indulgences to the church to absolve the common man of sin at a time when history was ripe for reformation. It changed the world. The good news is that we are not subject to the restrictions in church history that existed in the days prior to the Reformation; but we do have modern-day paradigms that we have allowed to strangle the witness of those in the marketplace. Today, it’s a Martin Luther moment in history, when the church has the opportunity to embrace a new theology of work. L i n d a F i e l d s is the founder and CEO of 7M-pact (, the marketplace ministry expression for the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, and beyond. Sharing insights from over 30 years of corporate training and teaching university business, Fields speaks, consults and coaches individuals to lead well. She is the author of IMPACT Your Sphere of INFLUENCE: Bringing God’s Presence in the Workplace, Find Your Why Forward and other resources. Johanna Commons

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CreAted to Work

How the study of apologetics made me a better steward of our family business


y father’s passing in 2004 was one of the most impactful events of my life. Not only was he my father, but we worked together in our family insurance agency. After he died, I didn’t feel anger or resentment but rather the weight of obligation and calling on my life as my brothers and I took over the business. This call led me to greater engagement with my faith which, in turn, had a profound effect on my approach to work. Fifteen years ago, I was not fully engaged in my Christian walk. Despite attending church regularly, teaching a Sunday school class and faithfully contributing my tithe, I lived what could be called a “divided life.” I gave parts of my life to God, but other parts I considered my own. I found value largely in my ability to perform at work, and my purpose was centered on business goals. Many Christians in business feel the same way.

Confident to Witness

In a quest for deeper engagement with my faith, I discovered the study of apologetics through listening to an audio version of C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. 44 MinistryToday March // April 2016

BY MARK TEDFORD I had never heard anyone present a rational defense of Christianity before, and it was refreshing. For me, hearing Christians present faith as subjective and anti-intellectual had become a major barrier to greater engagement. Like most people, I am pragmatic and saw this as a cop-out and a concession that there was insufficient evidence for rational belief in Christianity. Thankfully, there is a very good, reasonable and objective case for the Christian faith. The Bible calls us to have faith but not as a blind leap. Scripture consistently appeals to evidence and reason to support its claims. Anyone frustrated by the anti-intellectual paradigm of faith will be as amazed and energized as I was to discover the intellectual case for Christianity is both robust and satisfying. The more I studied apologetics, the more confident I grew in my faith. I immediately wanted to share this new understanding, and I no longer shied away from a “religious” discussion. I remembered times in our agency when salespeople were offered significant incentives for sales of a particular product, but few would take part in the promotion. When we researched the reason they didn’t

participate, we discovered that most of the time the salesperson lacked an understanding of the product and confidence that it was sellable. Until the salesperson was trained on how to sell that particular product and had some initial success, he would not engage with the product no matter the inducement. In the same way, many Christians lack confidence in either the truth of Christianity or in their ability to effectively communicate their faith. Although they may be confident in their own salvation, they also may be reluctant to talk about their faith publicly. Why? There is something lacking. To be able to effectively engage in conversation about one’s faith, it is necessary to have a robust knowledge of the Bible and the philosophical foundations of Christianity. As any salesperson knows, it takes more to sell a product than it does to buy it; it’s the same with faith.

Accountable to God

As my study of Christianity deepened, I felt compelled to live out my faith in all areas of life, but I really didn’t know how to do it, and it seemed there were few resources that gave any direction. Sensing God’s call to enroll in the Master © iStockphoto/GlobalStock

“Because we

were created in God’s image, we were created to work.”

“I thought the Bible taught I was to give to God in my religious life but retain for ‘Caesar’ everything else. But the Lord is Lord of all.” of Arts in Christian Apologetics program at California’s Biola University, I sought to apply what I learned in that program. In the process, I noticed I was not following the Bible in many areas of my life, and I held many paradigms that contradicted what was taught in the Scriptures. Modern culture promotes many ideas antithetical to Christianity, and these counterfeits are sometimes hard to differentiate from true Christian thought. In my life, the dominant false paradigm was the divided life. My religious life was divided from my public life. For example, I thought the Bible taught I was to give to God in my religious life but retain for “Caesar” everything else. But the Lord is Lord of all. All of our actions either line up with God’s will or they don’t. This does not mean our public lives are a neutral space that has nothing to do with our faith, but we are also doing God’s will when we are fulfilling our public duties in areas that are not explicitly religious. To think there is some neutral area of 46 MinistryToday March // April 2016

our lives that does not concern God is too narrow an interpretation of what actually lines up with His will. We can see clearly how explicitly religious activities such as worshipping God on Sunday or giving tithes brings Him glory, but doesn’t faithfulness at home and honesty at work also glorify Him? Doesn’t God care about how we behave in all areas of our life? Of course He does. Integrating my divided life led me to adopt a stewardship mentality at work. Drawing from the parable of the talents in the New Testament, we see not only that all of our gifts and resources come from God, but we also are accountable to Him for their use. Most Christian business owners tend to think in terms of ownership. They own the business and only have an obligation to God to tithe. God cares about the tithe, but He also cares about how we use the other 90 percent as well. Social pressures lead many to live a divided life. Secularists claim that faith has no place in the public square because

of a misunderstanding of the supposed separation of church and state. Their call is for a public life scrubbed of religious thoughts and claims. But this is impossible because our business and public lives are dependent on ethical norms and rules of play that are not worldview neutral. All worldviews take their beliefs into the public square, and there is no justification for promoting explicitly secular claims over religious ones. Certainly, a pluralist society will struggle adjudicating between conflicting worldviews, but we cannot allow this argument to bar religion from culture while smuggling anti-Christian-worldview commitments in through the back door. Some believe engaging with our faith at work would be considered rude or unprofessional in a corporate or pluralistic setting. Of course, Christians should be sensitive to the fact that not everyone believes what we do, but this does not mean we should never mix our worldview with our public life. Conceding a biblical worldview for the sake of pluralism would mean giving priority to nonChristian thought in the sphere where most of us spend the majority of our time. The Christian should strive to engage the public in a subtle and inoffensive way. To many evangelicals, integration means everything has to be explicitly Christian. This has led to the creation of a subculture where Christians watch Christian movies, listen to Christian radio, send their children to Christian schools and seek friendship and trade only with other Christians. Christian subculture is nothing more than a withdrawal from society and is in direct opposition to the command for us to be salt and light in the world. Many Christians have abandoned industries they perceive to be “secular” so that Christianity has little influence in several of the institutions of culture.

Ordained to Work

The Bible has more to say about how we work than many Christians think. A robust theology of work would help us avoid unbalanced approaches to work. I’ve found two extremes to be avoided concerning work. The first is the glorification of work, where we seek to find meaning and identity through work alone. Finding purpose and meaning at work is a popular concept © iStockphoto/Pattie Calfy

BUILDING ON TRUST Drawing from a RICH HERITAGE, our heart is to SERVE pastors, BUILD dreams, IMPACT the world: ■ One church ■ One community ■ One city at a time

Let us rise up and build . . . [Neh. 2:18]



“Once, I took a spiritual gifts assessment and assumed my spiritual gift would be giving because I was a businessman. I was surprised it wasn’t even in the top five.”

Mark Tedford

in the business world today. Authors such as Simon Sinek in his book Start With Why show that purpose can be a powerful tool for employee engagement. It can, but work is an insufficient foundation on which to build our meaning. Employing this perspective ultimately leads to the “performance trap.” When a person has a good job that seems to contribute to society or if someone reaches a level of financial success, they can find meaning and

satisfaction at work. However, not all jobs are valued by society, and financial success comes and goes. Relying on work for meaning leads to the extremes of arrogance and pride for those who achieve high levels of success or purpose but despondency for those who do not. Also, it is a deterrent from participation in entry-level work that is low-paying and considered menial. Those under the influence of this paradigm will resist doing any work that does not add meaning or financial reward. Early in my career, I struggled with the performance trap because I did not like identifying with the insurance industry. Also, I would agonize over every major business failure. Identifying my meaning

and worth in the context of a biblical understanding of work helped me find balance. The other extreme view is that work is a necessary evil. The Greeks thought that work was a punishment from the gods, and they prized leisure. Their goal in life was to do just enough work so they could get back to leisure or have enough slaves so they never had to work. Work became merely a means to an end. The church has suffered from some similar thinking by dividing work between the sacred or perfect life and the secular or permitted life. The implication was that secular work was of no spiritual value and that all Christians should seek a sacred calling inside the church. This thinking

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downplays the value of work and implies that the only value lay people add to the church is what they can contribute financially. Once, I took a spiritual gifts assessment and assumed my spiritual gift would be giving because I was a businessman. I was surprised it wasn’t even in the top five and noticed that many businessmen had the same experience. There is a subtle suggestion that our goal as Christian businesspeople should be to one day leave business and enter “full-time” ministry. I think the church promotes the myth of the “Big Call.” We celebrate those who are leaving to be missionaries in Africa, but we fail to see the value of the person who has worked faithfully in his job for 20 years and has been a good witness for Christ there. The true biblical view is that God likes work. God worked to create the heavens and the Earth and, as attested to by Jesus in the Gospel of John, is not now sitting leisurely in heaven but continues to work. Because we were created in God’s image, we were created to work. Note that

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“Most church members are skilled and gifted in ways that are best used outside of church, and for most of us, our call is to use our talents for God’s glory at work.” Adam was given the job to tend the garden before the fall, not afterward. The Bible does not talk about a sacredsecular split or the call to “full-time ministry.” All of us are in full-time ministry. Most church members are skilled and gifted in ways that are best used outside of church, and for most of us, our call is to use our talents for God’s glory at work. In Revelation, every saint is given a stone with a unique name on it. In the same way, everyone has a unique combination of gifts, skills, passions, resources, relationships, geography and time so they are specially gifted to accomplish that to which God ordained them. I encourage everyone to seek out their calling and

trust that a proper understanding of work will allow for a broadened perspective on what that calling can mean. It may take some time, but if you seek, you will find. M a r k T e d f o r d is a partner at Tedford Insurance, a second-generation insurance brokerage, and has business interests in transportation and real estate. After obtaining a Master of Business Administration degree at Tulsa University, he went to Biola University to broaden his studies and received a Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics in 2013. A regular speaker for business organizations, Tedford serves on several boards and is chairman of the Oklahoma Apologetics Alliance. He resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma.


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Networking for the Kingdom-Minded

The ministry of the Christian Chamber of Commerce BY DI-ANNE ELISE


ingdom-minded business owners and professionals find support and fellowship through the Christian Chamber of Commerce (CCC). Believers aiming to provide services or products to the marketplace in an ethical manner and with excellence have enjoyed these benefits through their local CCC.

What CCC Does

The CCC provides an environment where business and faith meet and relationships are formed. Most groups are categorized as 501(c)(6), the type of nonprofit organization that is not tax-exempt and is not allowed to take donations. To join, most potential members go through a review and approval process and sometimes are asked to sign a statement of faith to promote Christian values and ethics in the marketplace. A Christian Chamber of Commerce operates similarly to the Chamber of Commerce but with many differences. Both groups host networking events, conferences, luncheons, training, workshops and plenty of opportunities to promote their members and businesses. Unlike the Chamber of Commerce, CCC is not affiliated with a national organization, and each group considers itself a separate entity. Another difference is that CCC speakers are Christians who aim to edify, often by sharing their salvation testimony, relating faith to the marketplace and 52 MinistryToday March // April 2016

speaking about their area of business expertise from a kingdom perspective. Additionally, some CCC groups hold Bible studies and worship gatherings free of charge for those who would like to attend.

Why Get Involved

Laurie Cranfield, CEO of the Christian Chamber of Tampa Bay (C3tb) and author of I Am in Business: Putting the Great I Am in the Workplace, explains why she started a CCC group. “One of the main reasons I founded the Christian Chamber was to try to make Christian owners realize that they have a

higher calling when they go to work, and they have to include God,” Cranfield says. At the C3tb, applicants are required to take a two-hour mandatory membership class to encourage them to apply 12 biblical principles on how to put God into their workplace. In South Florida, Kent Crook founded the Christian Chamber of Greater Miami (CCOGM) last year. After his experience as chair of a Chamber of Commerce, Crook sought to provide a place for the leaders of the business community to unite through the principles taught by Christ. His group is a little different than most in that it was formed as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit so the group could take donations to benefit the community. CCOGM “provides business men and women spiritual guidance, encouragement and opportunities to help them draw closer to God and be an effective witness in the marketplace.” A bit further north, Central Florida Christian Chamber President Mark Goldstein says CCC is all about building business by building relationships. Goldstein took a leap of faith in May 2009 when he sensed God’s leading to take over his local Christian Chamber— even though he knew he had to regroup and change his course to be in alignment with God’s plan for his life. Goldstein, who is of Jewish descent, became a Christian in 1981 through what he calls “a Damascus experience.” As a Christian, he is fully committed to the work of CCC. © iStockphoto/Rawpixel Ltd

He now facilitates events “designed to develop and nurture trusted relationships that lead to recommendations.” A New Jersey-based CCC group is doing something unusual; it is going national. The Kingdom Chamber of Commerce (KCC) has five chapters, three in New Jersey, one in Philadelphia and one in Washington, D.C., and is looking to expand this year. Angela Pipersburgh, KCC founder and president, said it is her desire to help believers “not to compartmentalize” their lives, separating business from faith. Her goal is “to create partnership in order to grow with like-minded business owners.” Pipersburgh’s desire, skill set and love for God’s people led her to open the doors to the Kingdom Chamber 12 years ago. Even though the Christian Chamber of Commerce groups throughout the country are not affiliated with each other or with a national organization, they all use the same model, building relationships with like-minded business owners to build the kingdom of God. CCC gives its members the support they need to shine a light for Christ in the marketplace. D i - A n n e E l i s e is the marketing and sales coordinator for audience development at Charisma Media and founder of Media Resources Enterprise. She is a business communication author, speaker, coach and trainer in public relations, marketing and social media strategy.



Ask an Exec

An interview with Stan Jantz, new executive director of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association



ublishing executive and former Christian retailer Stan Jantz recently was promoted to lead the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA), a group of 68 publishers. With a commitment to Christian publishing and retailing as well as to the church and Christian higher education, Jantz talked with Ministry Today, addressing topics from mentoring upcoming generations to the importance of collaboration in presenting a powerful witness to the world. J o h n s o n : How have Bible study tools Stan Jantz changed through the years? For instance, do you think it’s good that study books are often tied to those some have called “celebrity” Bible teachers? Jantz: My wife is a teaching director for Community Bible Study. They have their own proprietary material, but during the summer, she’ll participate in Bible studies, and invariably they’ll use a DVD set from either Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer. Those ministries have been built around Bible teaching, which I think is really critical. ... (Moore and Shirer are) celebrities for a reason; they’re really good at what they do, and they are compelling communicators, so we sometimes put that label on them. I don’t know either woman personally, but I would guess they would be embarrassed by that term, but we know what we mean. It just means they have a greater platform, and I’m sure they’re aware that to whom much is given, much is expected. You’ve got more responsibility when you’re at that level, but they seem to be handling it very well. Johnson: Speaking of Bible teachers, Joyce Meyer has written more than 100 books, Bill Johnson is attracting a strong following, and Jonathan Cahn reaches a wide range of believers. How is the charismatic and Pentecostal book market doing overall?

54 MinistryToday March // April 2016

Jantz: We could add Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes and many of the FaithWords products that Rolf (Zettersten) and his team do such a great job with, but also not overlook some of the specific companies like Harrison House, Destiny Image and Charisma Media. I was the publishing director of Regal Books. Regal was founded by Bill Greig out of Gospel Light, which was (founded in 1933 by) Henrietta Mears. They were known for Bible-based curriculum, but the Greig family had a huge, huge interest—and it showed through the publishing—in charismatic books and ministries. At Regal, we had wonderful relationships with many writers who came out of what I would call the Third Wave of the charismatic movement. I think it would be represented very well by what comes out of Bethel (Redding, California). I don’t think we did Bill Johnson, but we did Kris Vallotton and Banning Liebscher, who started the Jesus Culture movement. ... We had this wonderful, wonderful book called The Blessed Life by Robert Morris of Gateway Church. We’re seeing this kind of charismatic renewal that is again taking place, this beautiful blending of what Jesus said to the woman at the well. He said, “Those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and truth.” You have this beautiful balance and blend between the truth of God’s Word but also the work of the Holy Spirit, and too often, we’ve kept those in different places. I grew up in a tradition that was probably “Father, Son, Holy Bible.” We didn’t talk a lot about the Holy Spirit. There are others who grew up in a tradition that was much more directed toward the Holy Spirit, and maybe the Bible teaching wasn’t as robust as it could’ve been. But now you’re seeing churches such as Gateway, and pioneers such as Jack Hayford have done so much. We published Jack Hayford at Regal, and I got to know him pretty well. Love that man, and what a bridge-builder he is. In fact, I was just reminiscing with our staff that there was a time in Los Angeles when Jack Hayford, Lloyd Ogilvie from First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood and Kenneth Ulmer, a black pastor from Faithful Central—they formed a prayer coalition, and the three of them led this. Whether they were bringing Billy Graham to town or dealing with some crisis in the city or just praying for the city, for years they would meet, and what a wonderful coming together of different traditions both doctrinally and certainly ethnically. What I’m seeing in today’s charismatic church movement is that. Of course, globally, there’s just no question: You ignore the charismatic and Pentecostal movement at your peril. » Phil Hover

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If you want to see what God is doing, take a look around the world. There are more Foursquare churches internationally than there are in the U.S. So what Jack Hayford represents he’s passed on to Robert Morris. King’s moved to the old campus of Gateway Church in Dallas, and now Robert, who is mentored by Jack, is on the board of The King’s University, just embracing that. Robert has a Baptist background. He wasn’t raised in the charismatic church. He went to Moody. His preaching is just as practical. You walk in their church, and Kari Jobe is leading worship, and you think, “Man, this is heaven!” It’s just a wonderful experience but also grounded in solid biblical teaching, I even see publishers who might have tended to stay away from maybe too much on the Holy Spirit are really embracing that. Here’s my bottom line. At Regal, we published A.W. Tozer. He died in the 1960s, but pastors had access and the rights to all the sermons Tozer preached in his life—and he preached a lot of them—so from those transcripts, we were able to create some never-before-published material, wonderful books. One of his big themes is one of the things that is lacking for many Christians—that they really aren’t experiencing the presence of God—but that’s a longing we all have. Well, the presence of God in our lives is the Holy Spirit. Johnson: What significant changes are we seeing now in Christian publishing? Jantz: In our industry as publishers—and you could say the same thing for retailers but also in ministry leadership— (there is a) transformation that we’re talking about in technology and opportunity to get the word out in creative and accessible ways. We’re seeing also a generational shift, so the boomers are now kind of still running things, at least in publishing, but the Gen Xers are coming up, and you’re seeing a shift that’s now going to them in terms of the next C-level leadership. And this is not just true of Christian publishing, it’s true across the board. We need to be preparing the next generation, this millennial or young adult generation that’s coming up. They are eager to have an impact. They have big ambitions to change the world, to create something new, so to tap into that, give them the resources for training and mentoring both on a professional level as well as personal. I think that’s something we need to really focus on. At ECPA, when we look at Publishing University (PubU), which we hold on the Wheaton (College) campus, ... next year we’re going to invite students to come and to be exposed to what’s being taught and to be exposed to the industry, to plant those seeds early so someone is thinking of a career. ... We’re looking for excellence. You reward excellence through scholarships or internships. I think it’s just wide open, and there’s such a resource there of young, eager people who want to make a difference and who have the creative and technical skills that sometimes the older generation didn’t have starting out or certainly don’t have to that degree. The same thing is true of ministries, to really bring that generation along and be intentional about that. There’s great 56 MinistryToday March // April 2016

“We need to be preparing the next generation, this millennial or young adult generation that’s coming up. They are eager to have an impact.” fulfillment when people engage in that kind of work because you see that, OK, legacy is not about me. It’s about what I can leave for the next generation, whether it’s in my company, my family, in my church or ministry that will not only just carry on but make it better. Johnson: In ECPA’s most recent C-Suite Symposium, you had several speakers of interest to ministry leaders, including Barna Group’s David Kinnaman, who wrote the book You Lost Me. What did he have to say about the relationship of the millennial generation and the church? Jantz: His message was pretty positive in the sense that the church is still the hope for discipleship for millennials. If they’re given an opportunity and a space to wrestle with some of these issues, they will come back, so it’s not that they’ve left. He uses the term “exiles” rather than “leavers.” Obviously he reflects (on) the “nones” and all that, where they talk about religious affiliation. That seems to be a growing category. But exiles are just strangers in a strange land. They don’t feel at home. It may not be the church that’s the issue; it could be the world. It could be a number of things, but the main thrust of his message was as the church then reaches out with material and a place to wrestle with these questions millennials have, they will come back. Part of that characteristic is authenticity, being honest about the struggles we face, whether we’re in leadership or just teaching a Sunday school class for kids (as) a layman. ... (Kinnaman) was very hopeful, but his message was really geared toward supporting the church as publishers, working with churches that can produce messages and resources that millennials will be attracted to, and of course, the church is the space that they can come into community. An exile who’s out there by himself or herself—it’s a frustrating and lonely experience—but when they can gather in community with others, whether it’s in a discipleship class or just where they’re able to deal with their questions, to see mentoring and modeling by others around them, that’s really what’s going to bring them back to the church, if you will. Of course, (there’s) the old belief that, “Well, it’s OK if they leave because once they have kids and they settle in their careers, they’ll come back.” That doesn’t always happen. But we do not need to adapt to them as much as we need to be authentic and truthful about the topics that the church stands for. God invites our questions, and I think it’s not just a doctrine that’s on paper that you learn as you would learn any kind of topic, but rather it’s a living reality, a living Christ in you through the Holy Spirit. And I think that, more and more, what we’re going to see is that when people are confronted with that kind of reality, it’s going to be so compelling they’re not going to be able to resist it.  

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Pastors, Learn to Forgive People

Why leaders should never leave anyone outside their circle of love


n the late 1980s, our church was buzzing and growing. God was moving powerfully. We had just moved into a new worship center, and all of a sudden, transition was inevitable. While our numbers gained greatly, we also saw a few individuals and families depart. As a pastor, you know what it is like. We do not want to lose

anyone, and while God is bestowing on our church countless blessings, Satan sidetracks us with one little issue. This was an important moment for me. God had raised up a man to walk with me through those days of transition. His name was Ron Lewis. He joined me on the journey to help the church as we advanced toward reaching our region with the gospel, and he listened to me share about a few individuals and families who had departed our church. I will never forget what Ron told me that day. He looked at me and said, “Ronnie, never let anyone outside your circle of love.” I will never forget those words. Ron shared that if my heart was big enough to forgive continually and love unconditionally, the same people who may leave today may come back in the future. Even today I hear those words resounding continually: “Ronnie, never let anyone outside your circle of love.” I took Ron’s counsel to heart immediately. Additionally, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the words of the great scholar and teacher of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Oscar Thompson. He taught us continually: “The moment you experienced the love of Jesus Christ at salvation, you chose to forfeit the right to choose whom you would love.” God did a major work in my life personally and as a pastor. 58 MinistryToday March // April 2016

Starting that day, I have never let anyone outside my circle of love. I do not have the right to love this person and not love that person. Jesus sets the bar: Love all people! Even for a pastor and his family, there are times we are pressed on this issue. However, love and forgiveness always win. Pastor, let me share three simple actions you can take to never let anyone outside your circle of love: 1) Take people to the Lord in prayer. Pastor, there will be people in your church who will hurt you and even offend you deeply. Others will lie about you or cause problems in the fellowship. Still others will leave the church—even after you have won them to Christ, loved them, discipled them and cared for them through some of their deepest pain. How should you respond? Take them to Jesus in prayer one by one. Call their name out to the Lord in prayer. I am convinced that if I pray for people who have hurt me or tried to hurt the church, I will never let them outside my circle of love. Sometimes we want to talk to everyone else about what they have done. Make sure you talk to God about them. He is the only One who can keep your heart soft and sensitive to Him and others. 2) Forgive continually. Forgiveness is a way of life for a Christian, especially for a Christian leader. Please do not take it lightly. Do not try to turn the rattlesnake of unforgiveness into your pet or friend. If you do, it will strike you with a poison that will eventually destroy you and your ministry. A pastor and his wife cannot let Satan win this battle! He will destroy you, your marriage, your kids and perhaps even your leadership in the church. Unforgiveness and bitterness never have a place in the life of a pastor and his wife. 3) Let it go. Regardless of what has been said, written or presumed about you, let it go. Take it to the Lord in prayer. Forgive continually, then let it go. You cannot go forward holding on to a past hurt, resenting people, situations or the church itself. Let it go! When you do not let anyone outside your circle of love, many will eventually come back to you. I’ve lived long enough and served the same church long enough to see this occur. If I had not prayed, been forgiving and let go of my personal pain, my heart would have never been open to someone’s return or able to invite them to return to us as a church family. My challenge to you is simple: Pastor, never let anyone outside your circle of love! Remember, the moment you received the love of Christ into your life, you forfeited your right to choose whom you would love. R o n n i e F l o y d has been a pastor for more than 38 years. He teaches thousands of people all over the world via television, the Internet, podcasts, radio, speaking engagements and books. He blogs at Lightstock


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Dear Pastor, For most people, the process of growing in Jesus Christ starts when they come to church for the very first time. Can you think back to when you entered a church for the first time? It can be an intimidating situation – not knowing where to park, where to go, who you will meet, how you will be welcomed...essentially what to expect from start to finish. The challenge that all of us face as church leaders: each week you have people attending for the first time, but because of the scenario I described above, it’s difficult to get them to return. And if we don’t get them to come back, they’re never going to become fully-developing followers of Jesus. It’s such a challenge that the average church in America only keeps one out of every twenty people. That averages to about ten first-time guests per year. Now imagine that same church making a few small changes and improving that number to keep one out of every ten! How many more lives could be transformed? The great news is that there IS a proven process to welcome first-time guests, get them to return

again and again, and effectively move them to membership and an ongoing relationship with Christ.



It’s called Assimilation. I first developed this ten years ago at The Journey Church, and since then have implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. Completely updated and expanded for team training – The turnarounds I’ve seen now available as a low-cost download, CD or DVD set! have been dramatic, even It wasn’t easy figuring this out in the beginning. with churches that are 100 to 150 years old and In fact, the struggle was very real! I had to face a stagnant for a long time. crisis of disbelief before the answers would come... The fact is that nothing impacts the growth of your church FASTER than Assimilation – the process of welcoming first-time guests, Nelson Searcy keeping them coming back and eventually Lead Pastor, moving them to membership. The Journey Church Read the fu ll story onli ne now, includin Wherever you are, and whatever stage of life you’re how God fi g rst challeng ed Nelson w in as a church, improving your Assimilation rate is “What ar e you doing ith, with the fi going to have a dramatic impact on your church! g ifts I’m se rst-time nding you e ach Sunday ?”

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Help! My Small Groups Aren’t Growing How to get your church’s small groups past the 30 percent hurdle


f you have managed to connect 30 percent of your adults in small groups, congratulations are in order! You are among the top half of 1 percent of all churches in America. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. Now that you’ve been congratulated, let’s get to work. Quite a few things could contribute to your state of “stuckness.” Here are the biggest factors in small groups getting stuck and what you can do to move ahead: 1) Stop handpicking leaders. If you are still personally recruiting every leader, you have completely maxed out this method of starting groups. When our groups got stuck at New Life in Northern California, we had 30 percent in groups. I had handpicked each leader over the course of seven years. I had asked the same question for seven years: “Would you like to become a small-group leader?” For seven years, many people turned me down. Now, if I had 100 years to catch up with the connection needs of our growing congregation, I would have been in good shape. The problem is that well before we reached the 100year mark, I would be dead along with most of the people who needed to be connected into groups. While I thank God for the groups I had, the recruitment strategy had to change in order to recruit more leaders more quickly. We changed it and doubled our groups in one day. 2) Consider an alignment series. One of the fastest ways to propel your groups forward is an alignment series in which the senior pastor’s weekend messages are aligned with the small-group study. You can either purchase a curriculum or create your own. Either will work. The key is to tie what’s happening in the small groups with the weekend message and particularly to tie the small-group study to the senior pastor. The first time my senior pastor stood up in a weekend service and invited our people to host groups, we doubled our groups in one day. After seven years, we had 30 percent in groups. After one weekend, we jumped to 60 percent in groups. Other than Jesus, the reason unconnected people attend your church is because of your senior pastor. They like his personality. They laugh at his jokes. They enjoy his teaching. (Don’t mention

this to your worship pastor. It will break his heart.) When the senior pastor offers curriculum based on his teaching, you are giving your people more of what they already like—your pastor’s teaching. Then, when the pastor invites the people to host a group, they will follow his leadership. Once my pastor started recruiting from the platform, I never handpicked another group leader. 3) Start your coaching structure. Many churches have given up on small-group coaches. Even very large churches that are well-known for their small-group ministries have abandoned coaching or use paid staff to coach. This is a mistake. First, most churches could never afford to hire all the staff they need. Second, if you are not personally caring for your leaders, your leaders will eventually stop leading. I was able to coach my leaders up to about 30 percent connected into groups, but to be honest, I didn’t do it very well. When we doubled our groups in a day, I was in a coaching crisis. Then it dawned on me—since we doubled, that meant half of the smallgroup leaders didn’t know what they were doing, but the other half did. I matched them up like the buddy system, then I built the rest of the coaching structure on that. 4) Leave established groups alone. Here is what I didn’t do: I didn’t invite my established smallgroup leaders to do the new series. I didn’t ask my established small-group leaders to change anything. In fact, I didn’t even tell them. Why? I already had them. They didn’t need to change. They just needed to continue. Many of the established small groups did participate in the alignment series, but I never asked them to. They asked me! If you only have 30 percent of your adults in groups, it’s time to make a change. Change the strategies of how you recruit smallgroup leaders and make huge progress right where you are.

“The recruitment strategy had to change in order to recruit more leaders more quickly.”

60 MinistryToday March // April 2016

A l l e n W h i t e has been a pastor for the last 25 years. White consults and speaks in the areas of small-group strategy, staffing structure, volunteer mobilization and spiritual formation. He blogs at

T H I S PA G E - T U R N I N G N A R R AT I V E — recounted by Randy Clark, founding director of Global Awakening, showcases an extraordinary kind of courage found in the heart of a man whose faith in Jesus Christ never wavered even in the face of unspeakable horror.





Do You Suffer From ‘Analysis Paralysis’? 3 ways to take your preaching skills to the next level of excellence


ne of my biggest problems in sermon writing is what people call “analysis paralysis.” I get so involved in studying for a sermon that, eventually, the more I study, the worse it becomes. So here are some suggestions I have found helpful in my preparation: 1) Do a two-minute warning. To cure this, I started implementing something I call my “two-minute warning.” I stole it from my high school head

football coach. Our high school football team went to the state championship—mostly due to our incredible coach and not so much because of the talent on the team. Every Thursday at the very end of practice, the night before the big game, we would do what he would call the “twominute drill.” He would line us up on our own 10-yard line and then say, “Guys, you have two minutes to put the ball in the end zone.” As the quarterback, everything came rushing together—all the adrenaline, everything we had practiced, all the tips and ideas from our coaching staff—it all collided at that moment and forced me to quickly deduce what I needed to do to put the ball in the end zone. I do a similar thing when I study for a message. I study for four hours, then grab a piece of paper and say, “OK, I’m walking to the pulpit in two minutes and I can’t take anything with me but an outline. OK, Brian, you have two minutes to write down your message in outline form. Go!” Then I force myself to cut through all the stuff, all the ideas and all the clutter and get down to the heart of what I should talk about. 62 MinistryToday March // April 2016

Nine times out of 10, that outline becomes the actual outline I use for the message. For the rest of the week, an additional four hours, I craft what I decided to preach on in that two-minute drill. 2) The greatest enemy to keeping our noses to the grindstone and writing great sermons is not necessarily a lack of discipline but our next best spiritual gift. Every pastor I know, especially me, acknowledges the reason we don’t consistently preach great sermons is because we can’t stay in our seats long enough to hear from God and think deeply. My homiletics professors told me this would be the case, and to combat this, we needed to develop high levels of discipline. I think they were wrong. My biggest problem isn’t that I lack discipline; it’s that God has gifted me with a few other spiritual gifts I like using on a regular basis too. I have three spiritual gifts–leadership, teaching and evangelism. When I can’t stay glued to the seat, it’s usually because I’m drawn into leadership or evangelistic activities, not because I haven’t watched that rerun of The Blacklist I DVRed last week. (All of this underscores why I think preaching should be taught by senior pastors who are actually preaching, who have to deal with all the demands of an actual church.) Therefore, in my mind, one of the keys to trying to preach good stuff is purposely not to spend too much time writing sermons and to block out large amounts of time for my other gifts. I figured out that eight hours a week is just about all I can do before I start climbing the walls. That gives me a good 20 hours a week for leadership, a good 10 for evangelism stuff and another 15 or so for the miscellaneous stuff we all deal with. 3) Begin well, end well and tell two good stories in between. When I was a freshman in Bible college, a family friend and mentor took me out to dinner one night. During dinner, he asked me a question that shaped how I view my preaching task. “Brian, do you know what all great preachers have in common?” I looked at him with a blank stare. “They can all tell a story. Learn how to tell stories, Brian, and you’ll never have a problem keeping the Good News fresh and exciting.” Like you, through the years, I’ve read all the books I was told to read on how to preach a great sermon: “Try this technique. Try this outline. Do this unique thing.” Nothing has helped me more than John Samples’ simple advice: Open with a great story. Close with a great story. Tell two great stories in between. B r i a n J o n e s is the founding senior pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in Philadelphia. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, he is an author of several books and a blogger at © iStockphoto/Christopher Futcher


Make Sunday the Best Day of the Week

500 churches discover the secret to bringing people back to Sunday morning services


ave you noticed “the rise of the nones” in your community? Church demographers have observed that church attendance in America is on the decline because more and more people are declaring “none” as their religion. Even devout Christians are attending less frequently. Once upon a time in America, Sunday was pretty much the highlight of everybody’s week. After some chores Sunday morning, the family sat down for breakfast and then hitched up the wagon to ride into town for church. They arrived at church, greeted friends, sang, worshipped and heard a message. When church was over, most of those families hung around and ate lunch together. After all, this was their one day of the week without work and their one chance of the week to socialize. By mid-afternoon, farmers were thinking about getting their kids home before dark. The church would sing another song or two, maybe hear a short message from the preacher, then hitch their wagons for home, spending a final hour debriefing their day as they rode. After a day of rest, everyone was ready for another week of work. I suggest this is the way God intended it. Deuteronomy 5:12 says, “Keep the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, just as the Lord your God has commanded you.” Even God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2). I’m not saying we need to be legalistic about it. Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). He gave us a day of rest as a gift because He knew we’d need one. His great promise is: “(If you) call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy day of the Lord honorable ... I will cause you to ride upon the high places of the earth” (Is. 58:13-14). What if we made an effort to make Sunday the highlight of our week by resting, reflecting, refocusing and building the day around relationships and around God? That description sounds a lot like going to church, doesn’t it?

Every weightlifter knows that if you work on back muscles Monday, you want to give them a rest by working on a different set of muscles Tuesday. Knowledge workers know that working 55 minutes and diverting for five every hour will get them further than working full force every minute of the day. In preaching through the “I Love Sundays” campaign, I discovered that Americans need someone to give them permission to rest weekly. Last fall, 500 churches across the country used the campaign to learn how to make Sunday the highlight of their week. The results were incredible. In my own church, we experienced a 17 percent attendance bump, 50 people made first-time decisions to receive Christ, 200 new people enrolled in “I Love Sundays” small groups, and all of us experienced a sense that this idea of a Sabbath rest is right. Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the Sabbath.” Deuteronomy 5:12 says, “Observe the Sabbath” (NIV). Remembering is looking back. Observing is looking forward. Orthodox Jews spend three days looking back to what God did on the Sabbath and three days looking forward to what He will do the next Sabbath. Chick-fil-A is closed Sundays, yet its outlets generate more revenue in six days than all the others do in seven. Why is that? Maybe the principle of engage and release has something to it! I’m praying that 10,000 churches discover this as well. Imagine what could happen to our country if we rebuilt our weekly rhythm around resting, refocusing and relating to God and His people. We desperately need to discover the wonder of Sundays again. Pastor, how would making Sunday the best day of the week change the lives of the members of your church?

“What if we made an effort to make Sunday the highlight of our week by resting, reflecting, refocusing and building the day around relationships and around God?”

64 MinistryToday March // April 2016

H a l S e e d is the founding and lead pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California. He mentors pastors and offers resources to help church leaders at © iStockphoto/SolStock

In GONE Rod Parsley broadens your understanding of everything that Jesus purchased for you through His death and resurrection and how this powerfully affects your ability to overcome and live a life of victory.

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Standing Out in a Sea of Messages

Discover the 3 most critical components of building and growing your platform


platform is where you show up every day to deliver your message. We recently concluded our first seminar on platform development and marketing for ministry leaders. We will do it again in April, but I want to share with readers a brief overview of the essence of platform marketing. Platform development is a strategy to increase the reach of a ministry. Platform development is not a tactic. It is a long-term strategy that is executed with many optional tactics. Strategy answers the question, “What should we do?” Tactics answer the question, “How should we do it?” A platform can be developed in live appearances, online or mobile. Popular platforms include blogging, social media, podcasting, book writing and email marketing. What confuses most leaders about platform development is their focus on the method. All media will work to build reach if the message is correct. The message must resonate with a felt need of an audience. A platform doesn’t do the work—the message does all the heavy lifting. A message that clearly meets a felt need will do well on any platform. I pray that ministry leaders focus on three things in their platform development. 1) Content is king. 2) Frequency is queen. 3) Your list of people who need to hear your message is the horse and carriage for the king and queen. Whether people visit your lobby or your website, the underlying principle to keep in mind for marketing purposes is to determine the needs of the visitor. It’s very likely that the visitor comes to you with an expectation that you have something to offer. Pull marketing occurs with or without your design. Push marketing is frequently labeled “old school.” Radio and television advertising is interruptive or pushed onto an audience. Pull marketing occurs with word of mouth, and platforms are designed to be available on demand. When our audience needs an answer, a Google search helps the seeker “pull” possible solutions. Pull marketers are intentional about planting their message across relevant platforms. The new dynamic in content is to help people in need find us. The days of “finding them” are dwindling. We must become better fishers of men with well-designed message platforms. Media clutter spreads across ever-increasing media platforms. It’s very difficult for a message to be pushed to any need group

with an expectation of linkage. Response rates are generally negligible with mass media. One other important point to consider in content development is the definition of content. More isn’t necessarily better. Better content is to deliver your core message in as many creative ways as possible. It’s fair to ask the question, “How many times must I repeat myself?” if we don’t expect to ever receive an answer. The more often we repeat a message, the more effective we will be at connecting with felt needs. Repetition builds platforms. This doesn’t mean we say exactly the same thing every time we launch a platform message, but it does mean we know our life’s work is to deliver our personal platform message. We are called to deliver our message as we receive daily bread and anointing. A single platform message has a very short life expectancy. The likelihood of connecting to create learning is probably more dependent on the frequency of hearing a message than it is about the quality of the message or delivery style. Faith comes by hearing—over and over and over again. This third component of platform development does not appear to be intuitive. Leaders believe if they have followers in social media, their tribe will be accessible. The problem is that we don’t own the medium. Whatever social media you use to communicate with your need group is the owner of the platform. I strongly encourage leaders to develop a one-to-one strategy by using email to reach your tribe with a powerful message and heavy frequency. If you don’t have an email list (home addresses are second best) for your target group, your platform is ethereal. We cannot depend upon social media platforms to be the only carrier of our messages. In the context of this short column, please understand the importance of developing and maintaining your list as a matter of daily routine. Our seminar in April will offer extensive help in content, frequency and list development for leaders. I want to help you remain on your platform.

“We must become better fishers of men with well-designed message platforms.”

66 MinistryToday March // April 2016

D r . S t e v e G r e e n e is publisher and executive vice president of the Media Group at Charisma Media and executive producer of the Charisma Podcast Network. Follow his daily, practical Greenelines blog at and download his Greenelines leadership podcast at Sean Roberts

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“Reading Tim’s book changed the way I lead. I want to lead a happy people of God, and that means I want to lead with more joy, more happiness, more exuberance because of what Christ has done for us. . . . Read it. And stop being such a grump.” From the foreword by


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“After identifying our lazy readiness to reduce the Bible to convenient ‘scripturettes,’ Paauw guides us to the adult work of serious engagement with the Bible. When the Bible is taken with such seriousness, it will indeed serve to refresh and revive the missional energy of the church.”


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Ministry Today March/April 2016  

Serving rising leaders within the church by empowering them with effective tools for Spirit-led ministry.

Ministry Today March/April 2016  

Serving rising leaders within the church by empowering them with effective tools for Spirit-led ministry.