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Rick Warren

Ordinary Leaders, Extraordinary Dreams

Sphere of Influence

5 Steps to becoming a missional church

DJ Chuang

How to limit Social Media Distractions November // December 2013

Equipping Christian Leaders to Grow

How We Do It Changing Children VBS 2014 resource guide

Dream Center’s tips for community outreach

Two Sides to Mercy

Nancy Alcorn on the church’s real mission

‘To the Least of These’

Dream Center’s Matthew Barnett shares the keys to reaching, serving and pastoring the poor and hurting


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‘To the Least of These’


Matthew Barnett’s ministry, the Los Angeles-based Dream Center, serves as a global model of how to serve the poor, neglected and hurting—the “least of these” (Matt. 25). As guest editor for this issue, Barnett shares how every Christian leader can establish a culture of reaching those whom Jesus made such a priority.


What we can all learn from Matthew Barnett and his Dream Center’s ministry to the “least of these” By Lindy Lowry

62 | SMALL GROUPS Are you connecting the dots between what you’re doing and the results you’re getting? 64 | VOLUNTEERS Tips for recruiting and recognizing volunteers




8 | MINISTRY OUTSIDE THE BOX Killing the Christmas pageant, practical tips for creating or revamping your website, and why copy matters



Matthew Barnett reveals why he feels he has a “second chance at life” and how pastors everywhere can do more for those in need By Lindy Lowry


Dream Center ministry directors share what they’ve learned about identifying the needs of a community and mobilizing volunteers An interview with Kelli Bradley and Jonathan Martinez


How are people in your church and community catching a vision for a new life? It starts with one question. By Matthew Barnett


The church has a responsibility to not only share a message of mercy with the hurting, but also to demonstrate mercy By Nancy Alcorn

66 | MARRIAGE How to encourage and support your spouse at home and in ministry 68 | DEVELOPMENT 4 things to remember when investing in young leaders 70 | SMALL CHURCH LEADERSHIP How to delegate when there’s no one around


76 | CHURCH PLANTING 6 principles for city transformation through church planting 78 | MORMON OUTREACH Engaging the Mormon mission field

80 | SOCIAL MEDIA DJ Chuang offers proven tips for limiting tech distractions and working smarter


12 | KINGDOM CULTURE Does how you’re sharing the gospel resemble a business transation? By Laurie Beshore 82 | PASTOR’S HEART Essential truths as you seek the extraordinary plans God has for your ministry By Rick Warren


Take these five steps to be a church that impacts the people in your sphere of influence By Kirk Kirlin


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MinistryToday November // December 2013

Ministry Today (ISSN #0891-5725) is published bi-monthly by Charisma Media, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746. Periodicals postage paid at Lake Mary, FL 32746 and at additional entry offices. Canada Post International Publications Mail Product (Canadian Distributing) Sales Agreement Number 40037127. Subscription rate is $24.97 for six issues and $39.97 for twelve issues. Canadian subscribers add $5 per year for postage, other countries add $10 per year for postage, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. Send undeliverable Canadian mail to: 1415 Janette Avenue, Windsor, ON N8X1Z1. © 2013 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



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Ministry Outside the Box Lightstock

ideas, insights & inspiration beyond the norm

Why We Killed the Christmas Pageant Important lessons in community engagement The Sunday my pastor told us we were canceling the Christmas play you could almost feel the tension in the room. No one understood why he would take something so nostalgic, such a traditional part of our Christmas celebration, and change it. After all, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right? The congregation listened to him because we respected him, and we

trusted the direction he was taking us even if we didn’t understand it. If we hadn’t done that, we would have missed out on something amazing. That year, Christmas for the City was born. Instead of pouring all the resources into a Christmas production that meant a lot to our congregation but (frankly) wore out the staff, the church was going to throw a giant celebration

for our community. Our entire city was invited. In fact, the vision for it was just as its name describes—a Christmas party designed to engage our community. The church had to give up some of our traditional understanding of what a Christmas celebration looked like because it wasn’t about us. It was about the city. Here’s what we learned: Extravagance is not a requirement. The first thing we had to give up was the idea that Christmas celebrations had to be extravagant. I’m not sure where we got this idea, but it seems as if every year we felt we had to outdo ourselves from the year before, as well as outdo everyone around us. This competitive atmosphere was stealing our time, energy and resources. And our celebrations weren’t necessarily better for it. Making the transition to simplicity was difficult to embrace at first, but once we got over the “need” to outdo each other with decorations

or technology, it was actually freeing. Being more inclusive
is vital to success. We also had to make the celebration more inclusive. At first, people weren’t sure what this new celebration should be like, but as we started to connect with other local churches and nonprofits, we gathered an understanding. The first year more than 6,000 people attended. This crazy idea actually worked! It was truly a party for the city. Now there are activities for kids, a poetry slam, a story gallery, a “party” room and a live painting area. There is even an area where nonprofit partners can tell their stories, gather volunteers and distribute resources. It’s about Jesus, not the church.
The church had to make the decision that the celebration was going to be about Jesus, not about the church. Congregants agreed to get as many other people involved as possible—including other

churches’ choirs. Some were reluctant at first, but after a few years, church and community involvement has grown. Currently 35 sponsoring churches, 14 nonprofits and people from more than 50 churches participate with us. The church’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on the event. It’s a nameless, faceless celebration designed to gather the church from all over the community to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the Christmas season. Sometimes traditions keep us stuck. Sometimes they prevent us from experiencing God’s kingdom right here and now. As you think about Christmas 2014 and how your church will celebrate it, spend some time evaluating your traditions. Are any of them keeping you from engaging your community? Would people outside your church call them “exclusive” or “inclusive”? Ultimately, do your traditions build relationships with others? —Darrell Vesterfelt

Websites 101

So you think your church needs a website. Or a new site. Or a better site. Here are some practical tips to remember as you head down this path: Content matters.
The old slogan, “Content is king” is still true. People come to your website for the content. So make sure you have something worth coming to. Remember that content also brings people back to your site. Online copy is different.
Don’t just copy 8

MinistryToday November // December 2013

and paste from your bulletin or brochure. You need to rework the copy. Use bullets, bold text and subheads to make it easily scan-able for readers. Your website isn’t a dumping ground for every bit of copy your church has ever created. Be intentional about what goes online and then rework it so it works online. Be findable. Don’t stress out about search engine optimization (SEO), but don’t forget about it either. You want your site to be findable. The easiest way to do

© istockphoto/3pod

Practical tips for creating or revamping your website

SEO is to use tools (such as WordPress and plug-ins) that do SEO for you. It’s OK to link.
This is an old saying from

» WEBSITES on page 10

Being a Renegade Pastor is about abandoning a~, to pursue: God's best for your ministry! 'Ihe avenge church in Amcrlca is dcdining by 9~ every year, behind on budget and unable ttl move forward with the: kingdom plans God ha, in store. 'Ihe a~ puttlr is stressed out and struggling to maintain healthy relationships and life balance. But while the: cycle of average is strong. there is a way to ovcn:omc its pull and •tcp into a lifi: ofimpact and accllcru:c.

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Ministry Outside the Box V o l . 3 1 // N o . 6

Copy Matters

Publisher/Executive Editor Steve Strang

Essentials for clear and relevant communication Words are important—very important. If eyes are the window to the soul, then words are the gateway to the mind. And in the church world, what we are trying to communicate needs to be clear. As communicators, it’s vital that we are relentlessly intentional with our choice of words so that people form the correct assumptions about our churches. Here are a few tips for choosing your words carefully: Know your audience. If your audience is a group of senior-citizen suburbanites, don’t use lingo better suited for urban teens. It’s not easy to get some messages across to everyone, and there is a tendency to become generic in our wording. Don’t let cultural diversity keep you from working to create sophisticated and relevant communication. “Keep it simple” doesn’t mean “Keep it stupid.” Keeping it simple doesn’t mean dumbing down your message for the masses. It means choosing your wording carefully so your statement is concise and carries the same weight and meaning as a longer one might. Read.
Reading reduces stress, improves your analytical thinking and increases your vocabulary. Listen to

what an author is trying to say and glean from the way he communicates. Ultimately you will communicate better stories through your words and provide better experiences for everyone. Reinforce your vision. Everything should point back to your vision. You can make sure your communication is consistent with your overall vision by being intentional about the words your church communicates. Take a “time-out.” When I’m working on a project, I can get so into an idea that everything about that idea seems to glow with awesomeness. In reality, it doesn’t glow at all. I’ve come to realize this by having ideas flop, people not laugh at my jokes and blank stares face me during a “main” point of the sermon. Now I’m intentional about taking time-outs from my work so I can gain some perspective on what I really want to say. Take a minute or two and walk away from your project. Return with a clear head, and perhaps you’ll see something you didn’t see before. If you still think everything is great, ask someone else’s opinion (someone with ideas that are different from yours). If we really believe what we’re saying is important, it’s worth the extra attention.

» WEBSITES from page 10 the early days of the Internet, but it still rings true. It’s OK to link to the rest of the Internet. Don’t worry about folks clicking away from your site and never coming back. Don’t make your site a ghetto that no one can ever leave. Linking provides value, and it’s how the Internet works. Embrace it. Think photos.
Your website is going to

need some good imagery. I won’t rehash the age-old stock vs. real photography debate, but you’re going to have to. There are positives and negatives to both. Whichever way you go, invest some time and money into good imagery. It captivates people and draws them in. —Kevin Hendricks

Chief Operating Officer joy F. strang Editorial Director marcus yoars

General Editor LINDY LOWRY Editorial Assistant SEAN ROBERTS

Advertising Manager ANN MARIE Kelly Ad Traffic Coordinator christie helton VP Production Art Director Production Coordinator Graphic Designer

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Editorial and Advertising offices:

600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, FL 32746 Phone (407) 333-0600 • Fax (407) 333-7100 Email: Website: POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 51593-1602. subscription information: Six issues $24.97; twelve issues $39.97. Canadian subscribers add $5 per year, including GST. Other countries add $10 per year, payable in advance in U.S. currency only. If you have moved, received damaged or duplicate copies/missed issues, experienced billing problems, want to renew or need additional subscription information, call (800) 829-2547, go online to (to subscribe), e-mail, or write Ministry Today, P.O. Box 6102, Harlan, IA 515931602. Foreign subscribers call (515) 237-3640. Advertising Policy: We make every effort to be sure advertisers operate with the highest principles and credibility. But advertising in Ministry Today does not imply editorial endorsement. Mailing List: We make a portion of our mailing list available to reputable firms. If you would prefer that we not include your name, call (800) 829-2547, write to us at 600 Rinehart Rd., Lake Mary, FL 32746 or e-mail us at

CHARISMA MEDIA All articles adapted from and used by permission from 10 MinistryToday November // December 2013

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With Strings Attached

Does how you’re sharing the gospel resemble a business transaction?


ven with the best of intentions, things have a way of going south. When we launched our outreach ministry at Mariners Church in Orange County, Calif., the first thing we thought to do was meet the basic needs of the people we were serving. Sounds reasonable, right? They need groceries; we’ll give them a bag of food. They need winter coats? Got it. School supplies? Check. Then we’ll teach them about Jesus, and they’ll pray the prayer and bam! We’re all good. But wait. If we really believe in an irresistible Savior whose love is the most powerful force on Earth, why do we cling to manipulative tools and gimmicks to all but bribe someone into the kingdom of heaven? Let’s say you’re handing out mosquito nets in an African village. The long line of people waiting is a clear sign they really need what you’ve brought. It’s a captive audience. As you pass the nets across the folding table, do you say, “This is a free gift to you and all your neighbors from God-loving people who care about you”? Or do you start asking them about their relationship with Christ? There’s a subtlety here I don’t want you to miss because I have missed it many times. If you’re still holding on to the gift as you ask them about Jesus, there’s a very good chance the two will be connected in their minds—and not in the way you may have intended. Just for a moment, they may think something such as, “Do I need to say yes to Jesus to get this net?”

they have, the resources aren’t what they really want. More than anything, what they want and need is relationship. Being Authentically Generous

This transactional method—offering people a reward for the right behavior or response—is very effective at motivating people. Intentionally or not, we manipulate people using the power of stuff. But when we achieve success this way, though our numbers may look great, the success we achieve isn’t consistent with the heart of the gospel message. Transactional ministry is often done with good motives, but I wonder if deep down we embrace it because we like the immediate, visible results and how they make us feel. The people we are serving need what we offer them, even if they have to jump through a hoop to get it. Yet true spiritual fruit isn’t always produced immediately. And when we minister in this way, we focus on the shortterm results and lack faith in God’s work over the long haul. So is there a way for us to be authentically generous with people without trying to get something in return? Yes. It’s generosity that overflows from a heart that is satisfied in God, a heart that’s willing and ready to sacrifice for others—not to get something in return but as the natural fruit of God’s love for us. And this requires a deeper commitment to knowing and loving people. Our conversations about Jesus shouldn’t be the only ones we have with the people we serve. We have to earn the right to be heard and to share the gospel with people. And we do this to sacrificially love and serve them—not because we have to but because we want to. When it comes to the work of Jesus, we need to show up with a loving heart and open arms, letting the Holy Spirit do the work of bringing people closer to God. 

“Intentionally or not, we manipulate people using the power of stuff they need.”

If/Then Generosity

Most of the time, we’re unaware that we’re still hanging on to the gift, but sometimes we are. At these times, the way we present the gospel can feel like a business transaction: “If you give me this or respond to what I’m asking, then Jesus will do this for you. He’ll save you from hell if you say these words. He’ll provide a meal for you if you raise your hand.” Certainly there are people who recognize the business aspect and work the system to their advantage. But the people we minister to have taught us that receiving the gospel is more than just a simple transaction. We often assume we need material resources to motivate people. But more often, despite the apparent material needs 12 MinistryToday November // December 2013

L a u r i e B e s h o r e is the founding pastor of Mariners Outreach Ministries in Orange County, Calif. She has been married for 34 years to Kenton Beshore, the senior pastor of Mariners Church ( Adapted with permission from Love Without Walls: Learning to Be a Church in the World for the World by Laurie Beshore (Zondervan).

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Starting With What we can all learn from Matthew Barnett and his Dream Center’s ministry to the ‘least of these’ BY LINDY LOWRY, GENERAL EDITOR


atthew Barnett was 20 years old when his father, Phoenix First Assembly of God leader Tommy Barnett, asked him to take over a Los Angeles church with 18 people that was located in a gang-infested community next to a liquor store. The younger Barnett quickly managed to drive the crowd down from 18 to two congregants. After a particularly discouraging evening service, Matthew took a walk through Echo Park, which was notorious for its high crime. As he walked, he saw addicts, people without homes sleeping on benches, runaway teens. That night, Barnett realized that while he thought he had been called to Los Angeles to pastor a church, in reality God had called him to serve the brokenhearted, the homeless, the addicts—the “least of these” (Matt. 25). The church started with taking in one person and knocking on a few doors to give away groceries. Fast-forward 19 years and Barnett’s Dream Center has become a 24/7 church based in the heart of the city in a former hospital that takes in hurting people—from human trafficking victims to homeless families to at-risk teens. The church’s Adopta-Block ministry started with a few homes and now reaches more than 700 families every Saturday. Barnett’s story is both inspiring and challenging. How many churches can buy a 360,000-square-foot hospital and feed 30,000 people a week like the Dream Center does? But that’s when we have to remember how the story began. They started with just one person in need—something any church serious about Jesus’ mandate can start with, regardless of your size, location or context. Throughout this issue of Ministry Today, we focus on community engagement—the inspiring whys and the practical hows. In addition to hearing from Guest Editor Matthew Barnett, we also talked with two of the Dream Center’s ministry directors to learn practical principles. Our prayer and hope is that as you read these stories and best practices, you’ll be inspired and equipped to begin with that one need or build on what you’ve already started to meet many needs. Compassion begins with opening our eyes to “the one.” As Barnett says, “Compassionate people don’t just wake up overnight that way. They make themselves available to be put in situations that require them to be compassionate.” I read that statement and think, What would our world look like if every church leader placed his or her church in situations that require compassion? I’m intentionally looking for ways I can take that to heart. I pray you do the same.  

14 MinistryToday November // December 2013

the One

FULFILLING A DREAM: Matthew Barnett turned a shuttered hospital near downtown Los Angeles into a “spiritual healing center” that reaches 50,000 people in need every month




For L.A.-based Dream Center founder Matthew Barnett, Jesus’ words to His disciples in Matthew 25 have become an indelible part of who he is and the ministry he started 19 years ago. In this interview, Matthew challenges church leaders to embody the same passion and compassion for the hungry, the thirsty, the imprisoned, the homeless and the poor around them.



hen M i n i s t r y Today sat down w ith Matthew Barnett, he had just come off the largest cit y outreach Barnett’s L.A.-based Dream Center has undertaken to date. Bet ween 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, and 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 8—just a few days before the Dream Center’s 19th anniversary on Sept. 10—Barnett, along with thousa nds of volu nteers a nd 20 Dream Centers throughout the United States, served and met the needs of the impoverished, the homeless, the orphaned—the “least of these” Jesus admonishes the church to care for in Matthew 25:31-46. 16 MinistryToday November // December 2013

From meal preparation for the homeless on Skid Row and a kids’ clothing- and groceryg i f t- c a rd - g i ve away i n L ong Beach, Ca lif., to a homeless teen outreach in Holly wood and blanket, socks and hygiene kits distribution along the Venice Beach boardwalk, Barnett served the Los Angeles area for 24 hours straight—an initiative deemed Serve 24. The day we talked, his new book, God’s Dream for You, had just released. And though Barnett was excited about the debut , clea rly h is t houg ht s were on what he had seen and w hom he h a d enc ou nt ered d u r i n g t h e p r e v i o u s d a y s’ marathon outreach.

It is a new season for the 39 - ye a r - old p a st or a nd h i s world-renow ned minist r y in the nation’s second-largest city. Serve 24 has renewed his vision, he says, adding that he believes it is a turning point for him and the Dream Center. “More than ever before during these years of my life, I’m looking at the one in the crowd— kind of like Jesus keeping an eye on the one that felt invisible, the Zacchaeuses. I’m spending more time and looking for the one now.” Just as this outreach signals a ministr y turning point, so a recent physical crisis Barnett experienced represents a turning point of a different kind. In

HEART FOR THE HURTING: Since launching the Dream Center in 1994, Matthew Barnett has served millions in need


As pastor of one of America’s fasting-growing churches, MATTHEW BARNETT has written about the mission of the L.A.-based Dream Center he founded nearly 20 years ago in three books: The Church That Never Sleeps, the New York Times best-seller The Cause Within You and the recently released God’s Dream for You. At a young age, Barnett began to learn powerful ministry principles from his father, Phoenix First Assembly pastor and church-growth pioneer Tommy Barnett. Those principles continue to guide Matthew as he carries out the vision for a church that met the needs of the broken and hurting. The church has grown from a congregation of 39 members at its conception in September 1994 to an organization that reaches more than 50,000 people each week via the Dream Center’s 40 services and nearly 273 ministries and outreaches. More than 750 people undergoing rehabilitation live in the Dream Center, and each week 30,000-plus people receive food. And the vision has gone global with more than 100 Dream Centers launched around the world. Matthew also serves as senior pastor of the famous Angelus Temple, the church he united nearly 12 years ago with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel and the Dream Center. Matthew celebrated his 14th wedding anniversary in September with his wife, Caroline, who runs the Dream Center’s women’s ministries. They have one daughter, 10, and a son, 7, who also serve at the Dream Center in various ways. “It’s all they’ve ever known,” Matthew says. “In the same way my dad taught and really showed me when I was growing up, I want my kids to see and understand that all around them people are in need—and that they can make a difference in someone’s life.” 18 MinistryToday November // December 2013

mid-March 2012, after struggling with shortness of breath, he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. His doctors told him that if he hadn’t had it checked out, in two days he likely would have died. So what he calls a “second chance at life” combined with his new ministry focus on the one has Barnett—the son of Phoenix First Assembly of God’s stalwart leader Tommy Barnett—feeling thankful, reflective and looking forward to what’s next for the Dream Center that now serves more than 50,000 people via 273 ministries and outreaches such as Project Hope (a shelter for sex-trafficking victims) and the Dream Center’s inaugural ministry Adopt-a-Block, which each Saturday reaches more than 700 homes. Matthew is almost giddy with excitement as he talks about the January 2014 opening of the Dream Center’s new facility for emancipated minors who age out of the foster-care system and have no place to go but the streets. In this interview, the almost always optimistic Barnett talks about how he handles discouragement; his ministry and personal turning points; how his father taught and modeled compassion to him (and still does); the importance of having a God-inspired dream and the even greater importance of staying with it as it unfolds; the signs of revival; and what he’s doing with his second chance at life. Matthew, you’ve just come off of Serve 24, a 24-hour outreach into some of Los Angeles’ darkest areas. What inspired you? I’ve always wanted to go through the city of Los Angeles for 24 hours straight, just seeing the city at a grassroots level from morning to night. Of course, all the craziness happens in the early hours of the night. I always like to do things on an anniversar y date so that we don’t get caught up in the personal celebration and miss what it’s all about—connecting into the hearts and lives of people. I always thought I would do something like this on the 20th anniversary, but God said, “No, I want to do something in your heart right now.” And did He? Absolutely! I thought it would be fun to do 24 hours of outreach because I love outreach, but I wasn’t prepared for the lasting impact it would leave on my heart. You learn a lot about yourself in 24 hours. You learn about overcoming your flesh, about overcoming self, and you learn about vision. Seeing a city at 3 a.m. is a new way of experiencing life. People crashing up against a wall with no shelter, teenage runaways just trying to survive the night. It gave me and our church renewed vision. What does that vision look like going forward? I’ve been pastoring almost 19 years. The first 10 years, you’re so driven to reach lots of people. That pursuit never changes. But more than ever before during these years of my life, I’m looking at the one in the crowd—kind of like Jesus keeping an eye on the one that felt invisible, the Zacchaeuses. I’m spending more time and looking for the one now. The interesting thing about us is that every dream God has given us started by helping one person at a time. This is just kind of the year of getting very grassroots on a very personal level and going back

“Every dream God has given us started by helping one person at a time.” to where it all began. I know God is going to build the church. I know He’s going to do great things and bring the people. He just wants me to be available to Him. That’s a liberating place to be.

a rou nd E cho Pa rk— a place most people didn’t want to be at night. I saw so much humanity. That walk was life-changing because I put myself in a position where God would minister or speak.

When you say you want to be “available” to God, what does that look like in the day-to-day? I think it’s just carving out priority time to see life outside the four walls of the building. We can get really locked into a four-wa lls sit uation where we can’t get out of the building. It’s like a trap. You have to force yourself to be in positions where you’re confronted with the need, and that forces you to respond. Compassionate people don’t just wake up overnight and are compassionate. They’re people who make themselves available to be put in situations that require them to be compassionate. The night God gave me the vision for a church that would meet the needs of hurting people, I walked

Talk a little about the connection between serving and God’s dream for our lives—the subject of your new book. Ser v i ng cha nges u s bec au se it exposes us to needs we’ve never seen before and therefore creates dreams in our heart that we never knew were there. The issue is not what your dream is. The issue is what is in your heart that you’ve never seen that only serving can reveal. From where you started 19 years ago to now, have you seen a significant increase in churches that are truly embracing the hurting in their communities? I bel ieve t he chu rch is cha ngi ng . T he p endu lu m i s s w i ng i ng from v iew ing Su nday morning as

the destination spot to Sunday as a launching spot for what we can do Monday throug h Friday. The idea that these people are coming into the church to go out—I believe that’s the definition of how God wants to mobilize the masses. What do you think it will take to see genuine revival among the masses? My father has said, “Nearly every great historical revival happened from the bottom up.” The church f lourished when it reignited a heart and passion for the poor. I think revival isn’t revival until the secular world has acknowledged that the church has changed the outside world. Revival is not about a fourhour service or even people coming to the building. For 12 consecutive years, the crime rate has dropped around our community. The only year the World Cup didn’t take place in Scotland was when the revival was taking place and things were happening out in the streets. When you look at the life of Jesus, almost everything that ever happened was almost always outside the building. Even when Jesus was inside the temple, He was talking about events happening outside the temple. » November // December 2013 MinistryToday   19

to stand still made me realize the process of miracles by which God has done them in my life. And that was a very important step for me because I was guilty of just reaching for the next thing and not thanking God for what He had already done. W hen you face somet h i ng l i ke that and overcome it, your value system changes. You see more value in what you do rather than just getting one more thing done. It makes you appreciate the jou rney more. I’ve resolved that I will no longer live my life bypassing God but will see His hand in everything. I’m thankful and reflective but so fired up to live like a new man. Matthew Barnett and his wife, Caroline (center), oversee an organization that now distributes food to the needy in dozens of Los Angeles neighborhoods

What then is your challenge to church leaders, especially those leaders whose churches have become a little bit complacent or ingrown? I think the church needs to embrace a little sense of chaos, to find a need and fill it. We might not have the solution or the perfect program in place, but let’s target some of the needs and attempt to solve them. In the midst of being so program-minded, we can stop or not start something because it doesn’t make sense. I think we need to do a lot more things that don’t make a lot of sense in the area of reaching out because you can’t predict how people are going to respond. Sometimes churches think, We can’t solve this huge problem so we shouldn’t start. If we can’t take care of all the foster kids, then why take care of one? But the truth is that something can happen because of the spark—if they just kind of got out there and let that one spark ignite. On our 15th anniversary, we did an outreach to Skid Row, and I met this family who needed help. I asked our team, “I know we’re in the 20 MinistryToday November // December 2013

early stages of opening this floor for families, but can we please just take them in?” Then I realized they had opened up 26 rooms for fa milies because they knew that when I started talking about it, I wouldn’t shut up. But that family was the spark. Ever ything we’ve done—our food bank started with just a few bags of groceries we gave to people in the neig hborhood — e ver y t h i ng beg a n with one family, one door we knocked on, etc. In mid-March 2012, you had a pulmonary embolism and were close to death. How has this life-and-death experience changed you? The doctor told me, “You were 48 hours away from possible death.” It was the sca riest thing I’ve ever faced. I would go to bed at nig ht and think, Am I going to wake up in the morning? How has it changed the way you live and see life? I’ve always been consumed with what He’s going to do next. Having

You’ve called it a “second chance at life.” It really is. Then the next question is, What are you going to do with this chance? The new book releases today, and all I can think about is Serve 24 and the broken people we encountered. So while I’ll still be speaking across the country, I’m going to be home 52 weeks a year on Sundays. It’s just k ind of li ke, “L et’s go! I want to go to the next level of the Dream Center.” You are always so upbeat, even when you’re talking about your own mortality. But are there times when you just get really discouraged? How do you deal with these times? I get discouraged, but I have a quick bou nce-back capacit y. I thin k it’s because I’ve seen God do so much. I know He’s going to come through. It’s OK to get k nocked down, but the resiliency to get up fast has been the difference. So I just think that I’m so naturally joyful about what God is doing in this city and in this place. And I want to make sure we maintain that attitude so that we’re different from the neighborhood, to show them something they’ve never seen before. We don’t want to be relevant; we want to be revolutionary. »

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A lot of people have encouraged me along the way. There’s a lot of fresh energy, and ... at any given time all it takes to recharge is a 30-minute walk around this campus. This dream keeps me going. What is your counsel to church leaders who also have big, maybe even similar, dreams for their church? How can they stay encouraged during the unfolding of the dream and even in a sense fight the discouragement? You’ve done both. I think the only way you can remain in a dream and stay focused is to realize the dream is not a destination; it’s a journey. A lot of people say, “When I have this big building, then my ministry starts, my outreach starts. That’s when my dream will start.” They’re constantly viewing their destiny as a place out there, a big event out there, a place that they’re not at right now. One thing I learned years ago from my dad: He said, “Commit yourself to the finish line from the beg inning, and you’ll enjoy the process.” And I look at this 400,000 -squarefoot building and remember back to when it started. We had just one room to take in a family, and then it was a floor, and now we’re getting ready to open up this new area for emancipated minors—for teens aging out of the foster care system. Back then, we were so excited and we celebrated that one room. As long as we don’t see the vision or the dream as a destination but rather as a daily thing that’s unfolding in front of our eyes, that’s how we will stay in it. And part of that encouragement to stay in the dream comes from others like your dad. How did your dad encourage you? My dad is so optimistic. He used to say things like, “Hang around long enough, something good is going to happen to you.” Ever ything we do today is because of his belief in me as a pastor. What did he say when you told him about your initial vision?

It sure wasn’t what he thought I would be doing. But he said, “If that’s in your heart, Son, I’m going to spend the rest of my life supporting you.” For 19 years, he’s been on the road preaching in chu rches, a nd ever y dime he’s received as a result of those engagements he gives to the Dream Center. Just by himself, he ra ised about $700,000 for us. He is the most selfless man you’ll ever meet. My dad never mentored me in the sense of traditional mentoring. And one day I asked him, “Why didn’t you mentor me in that way, Dad?” And he said, “Because I knew God’s hand was on your life, and my role was to be 100 percent in your corner and make it a reality. I always felt that what you needed as a young man was a seasoned man of faith to stand by you and cheer you on to do whatever it took to make the vision reality.” Looking back, how did your dad instill some of the values you and the Dream Center embody? When I was growing up, my dad wa s one of t he on ly megachu rch pastors I knew who would still pick up people in his own car and bring them to church. I remember how he would give haircuts to people in the church balcony. We would go to neighborhoods, and he’d say, “You go this way, I’ll go this way,” and we’d knock on doors to try to meet the neighborhood and ask how we could serve them. He would put me in these positions, even at a young age, where he wouldn’t let me roll up the window when I saw someone in need. He wanted me to look out the window and see people. A nd he rea l i z ed t hat t he most important, teachable moments in a kid’s destiny come from their parents. He’d take me out of school for a day to do an outreach because he realized everything that happens in the heart is what’s going to drive a person. He allowed me as a young man to be around these types of situations [that] would form my entire belief system for what I would value in the years ahead. I saw a l l t hose t h i ng s t hat he

valued. The Dream Center is a credit to his leadership. So serving wasn’t a new value for him. Exactly! I’m the monster he built!


What do you say to those voices who challenge, “Well, it’s fine to feed people and give out blankets, but if you’re not sharing the gospel with them, you’re just sending them to hell with full bellies?” I believe we earn the right to be heard, and there are definitely times in our lives when God opens those doors to share the gospel. But I don’t think it’s an either-or thing. I think when we show up in people’s lives, we listen to the Holy Spirit, and if God tells us to share the love of Christ, then we do it. Or if it’s just being available and building relationships for later, that’s fine too. So it’s not an either-or thing. I think

you just give people a lot of love and stay open and listen to your instincts for what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do. You write in your new book that God’s dream is for us to bring someone along with us. Who are you bringing along? We have a young guy, Jonathan Martinez, who is a dynamic part of our future. He was 15 when he came into our teen recovery home from juvenile hall. He’s 25 now and runs all of my Adopt-the-Block ministries. He’s been raised in this building for 10 years. Part of the reason I believe in him at this age is because my dad believed in me when I was so young. Now he’s really kind of an associate pastor to me. It’s great because I’m still young enough to bring him along. It sounds as if you’re setting up for long-term succession. Do you have a succession plan?

I have no uncertaint y about the Dream Center’s ability to be better and better without me because it’s being run by a core of people [who] have been ra ised in this ministr y. Sixty percent of our staff are graduates of our rehab program. It is interesting talking about succession when you’re 39, but I think it has been a neat thing to see natural progress over the last five years. Without even really thinking about it, I’ve realized we have a succession plan because everyone is just naturally falling into place so well. Did your medical scare motivate you to ask, “What would happen if I weren’t here?” I thought about succession, but I’m glad that God was already thinking about it before I was and has already started to put those plans in motion. During that time, God humbled me in a ver y interesting way because I was on the sidelines for a couple

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months. Some of the biggest miracles in ou r ministr y happened when I wasn’t around—financial miracles and blessings. The church never skipped a beat. I think God was trying to remind me that it is His ministry and has always been His ministry, that He is going to take care of it and loves the people of L.A. more than I do. I love when God reminds you that He’s bigger than your grit and determination. What does the next frontier look like for you and the Dream Center? I was in Norway in this train station where trains were leaving all the time, 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., and I remember thinking to myself, That’s what I want the Dream Center to be like, where people can come any time, day or night, and say, “I want to serve,” and immediat ely have a se r ving opportunity. We rea lly are only t wo or three shifts away from becoming the 24/7 ministry I dream about. That’s kind of the next frontier for us. We’re also looking at more property in the community to expand [for] our families that need help. We have more than 200 families on our waiting list. Families have become the new frontier of homelessness. We’re looking at trying to buy an apartment complex to have an army of 300 more interns who give a year of their lives to love this cit y and really change the atmosphere of our communities by serving and being a consistent presence in the community. Because of this army that’s being raised up in the community, I’d love for Los Angeles to be a place that people look at and see as a city that’s truly come to love and serve others.  To learn more about the L.A.-based Dream Center and Matthew Barnett’s ministry, go to L i n d y L o w r y is general editor of Ministry Today. This was the third time she has interviewed Matthew Barnett and toured the Dream Center—both of which always inspire her to learn more.


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uring the last decade, Kelli Bradley has carried forth Matthew Barnett’s initial vision for the L.A.-based Dream Center, overseeing its evergrowing list of ministries—273 to date. She remembers when the Dream Center was just beginning to engage with area agencies such as the Los Angeles County Department of Family and Child Services, and when watershed ministries such as the Dream Center’s Transitional Housing for homeless families began. On the next few pages, Bradley and Jonathan Martinez, who oversees the Dream Center’s Adopt-a-Block ministries and leads at the newly planted Long Beach Dream Center, offer the insights they’ve gleaned about identifying the needs of a community, mobilizing volunteers and staying the course—important lessons for any church leader, especially when you’re just starting out with a vision to lead a compassionate church that reaches the “least of these.”

IDENTIFY THE NEEDS 1) Until you know the specific needs of the community, you can’t effectively engage with it. Bradley: You have to know what’s happening with the

schools, the economic situation, the population demographics, civic engagement, etc. We did a lot of research on the front end to get a better idea of what we were trying to figure out. And then it’s about identifying solutions for filling those needs and mobilizing your people around those solutions. Martinez: At our new campus at the Long Beach Dream Center, we didn’t automatically assume [we knew] what the 26 MinistryToday November // December 2013

Dream Center ministry directors share what they’ve learned about identifying the needs of a community, mobilizing volunteers and staying the course

needs of Long Beach were because we’ve had such great success in knowing what the needs are in Los Angeles. We started asking people what they needed and quickly realized the needs in Long Beach are shockingly different from those in L.A. For example, Long Beach has the 15th-highest highschool-dropout rate in the nation, so we quickly mobilized to offer GED [General Equivalency Diploma] classes. 2) People are your best means for identifying the needs. Martinez: We surveyed the neighborhood within a three-

block radius of the church, knocking on doors and saying, “Hey, we’re a brand-new church and we’re just talking to people to see how we can serve the community.” We asked questions like how long they’d lived in the neighborhood, if they had kids, if the neighborhood had gotten better or worse in the last 10 years, what could make it better, etc. Whenever we knock on doors, we wear our blue Dream Center T-shirts and bring a clipboard and pen so we look more professional. We’ve learned that when we look professional, people are more receptive to opening the door and talking to us. One of the things I think is important to know, especially if you’re a new church plant, is that we surveyed the neighborhood a year before we launched the church. We began meeting needs before we planted. So by the time we launched our first service, people already knew us or about us because we are much more in the community Monday through Saturday than we are [for] a Sunday service. When we launched, a lot of people we had surveyed and had already served came. » © istockphoto/t_kimura

Adopt-a-Block’s neighborhood cleanup

Discipleship programs help to restore body, soul and spirit

Kelli Brad ley (cente r) distribu during Se tes food rve 24 in Septemb er

Serving food at the Dream Center Diner

Sorting clothe s to give out at the His Hands Extended shop

Jonathan Martin ez (right) has fun at a kids outreach during Serve 24

Dream Center Academy helps students succeed in the classroom and beyond

3) Start with a vision and what you have. Martinez: As you start serving people,

you may start with one person. Pastor Matthew started Adopt-a-Block with him and maybe three or four other people. And now we have 600 to 700 people show up every Saturday just to serve the community in the Adopt-a-Block ministry. He started with what he had. He started with one door and meeting the needs of that family and then two families, and so on, and now we adopt 147 blocks every Saturday. Bradley: You can’t wait until you have all the answers to do something about a need. If you wait until you have everything you think you need, you’ll never do anything. You have to start somewhere with what you have and where you are. With every ministry we do, we start with the vision and what we’re trying to accomplish. Then we scale back to the details. We do our homework. We see what other churches and agencies are doing. We always ask what’s missing, what are the gaps. Once we know our goals, we can design a plan to meet them. MOBILIZE THE PEOPLE 1) Remember that people want to serve. Martinez: I think that’s the

stay-at-home moms or were employed part-time and could help out. I talked to people individually and didn’t try to overwhelm them with commitment but communicated what I was thinking this

The clothing outreach, His Hands Extended, gives out 15,000 pieces of clothing each month

No. 1 thing to understand when The Dream Center receives mobilizing volunteers. People more than 1 million pounds of food a month want to help. They want to be a part of changing the world. Everybody is looking for this “some- would look like, the timeframe and the thing bigger” purpose—the idea that expectations. I’ve found that people rise they were created for more. We facili- to the occasion when they realize there’s tate that greater purpose by search- a need they can actually do something ing for help within the church or local about. That’s how I get case managers neighborhood. for the family floor. They’re all just volunFor example, is there someone in your teers who love what the church stands for church who is passionate about serving and love the vision of the Dream Center. a certain group of people? We always say, “The miracle is in the house, or the 2) Strategically plug people into miracle is in your community.” When serving opportunities. Bradley: You want to know the vocapeople see that this is something they can be involved in that’s actually making tions of the people in your church, as a difference, they start to step up—either well as the gifts, talents, experiences voluntarily or when asked. and abilities God has given them. It’s Bradley: When we started the Transi- important to plug people into ministry tional Housing program, I looked to the where they can use the gifts they already women in our congregation who were have. Using their marketplace gifts for 28 MinistryToday November // December 2013

ministry fuels and inspires people. I’m not a financial planner. I’ve never even worked in finances. So I looked for people in our church who do that for a living—bankers, credit counselors, financial planners—and then asked them to teach a class or meet with a family about credit issues. We’ve found that when you have a need and tell your congregation what that specific need is, people rally. So we’re doing what we’ve committed to do for the community, and we’re also giving people an opportunity to serve and feel a part of the vision. People do have a genuine desire to help. They just don’t know how. They need to be led. They need to be guided. As church leaders, that is our responsibility—to not just say, “We need your help,” but, “Here’s how you can help.” It’s about just being very practical with people. 3) Offer multiple options for serving. Martinez: It’s important to respect

people’s time. They have lives. Saturday might be the only day they have to spend with their family. I don’t want to create an outreach that will take 10 hours of that family time or even six hours. So what we’ve done is organize an outreach so that [if you have] from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., you can go to one of our local sites. If you have from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., you can go to one of our sites within a five-mile radius. If you have more time, then you can go to the project sites in South Central and East L.A., and you won’t be back until 2 p.m. Creating options to allow people to come and serve is essential. 4) Create opportunities for kids to serve with their parents. Bradley: A lot of times, childcare can

be an obstacle to serving if we don’t create opportunities where families can serve together. We actually encourage adults to bring their kids. We want to help parents show their kids the value of serving others. There are so many things you can do in your community where kids can be a part. Martinez: One of our families, the DeMarcoses, regularly come out to our Adopt-a-Block ministry on Saturday

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mornings, and their kids bag vegetables, tie up the bags and hand them to a family. A lot of times, some of the kids in the families we’re serving have never been around a two-parent healthy family. They have no idea what that looks or feels like. We’ve learned that it’s important these kids from broken and dysfunctional homes see healthy families modeled. So that’s another reason why we create opportunities for families to serve together. PARTNER FOR THE MISSION 1) Work hard to join forces with community leaders and organizations. B r a d l ey: Engag ing other

2) People need to see Jesus before they hear [about] Jesus. Bradley: We want these agencies

and organizations to know we’re here to help, that we’re not here to carry out any agenda. We don’t go in to share the gospel. We don’t go in to invite them to a church service. If you come in to serve

The bus ministry is often called the “life net” to winning souls in L.A.’s gang-infested neighborhoods

community leaders is one of the most important things a church can do to effectively meet needs. We’re very intentional and strategic about working alongside the government agencies and government officials and the other nonprofits that are working with the same families or types of families we are. We were given a letter from the Los Angeles County Department of Family and Children Services saying that we’ve been able to help 1,000 families in the system and save the department $700,000. But I remember when I first started trying to work with them. It took several months before a social worker even called me back. I just kept showing up, kept emailing, kept calling and leaving Backpack giveaways messages. She knew I wasn’t going include essential school away. I think she also eventually supplies for kids realized I wasn’t trying to “sell” them anything. I was just saying that we with no agenda, that will shine brighter wanted to help: “If you have a family we than anything we can ever say. And can bring some food and baby supplies they’ll see something different about us. to, let me know. We’d love to do that.” Our approach is so totally different from When we continue to serve and con- probably any approach they’ve ever gottinue to show up with no expectations, ten from a church. It gets their attention that’s when God usually blows our and automatically starts to break down minds. He does more than anything we any walls. Martinez: More than what Jesus said, could have ever planned. We’ve been able to reach more people and have seen big- it’s what He did that amazed the people and gave Him a platform to teach—the ger doors opened. 30 MinistryToday November // December 2013

people He ate with, the healings He performed and the miracles. So it’s important that people see Jesus before they hear [about] Him. When the church shows up acting like Jesus, serving like Jesus, we bust stereotypes. 3) Find ways to help other churches serve their communities. Martinez: Every day, churches

are involved at the Dream Center in some capacity. They usually start in the Adopt-a-Block ministry. Partnering with churches is really important to us. We’ve kind of been able to be that outlet of outreach for a lot of them. And we also look for ways to help them meet needs in their own areas. Our food bank receives 1.3 million pounds of food a month, and a big part of what we get we give to other churches so that they’re able to serve their communities. STAY THE COURSE 1) A consistent presence earns trust. Bradley: When it comes to any-

thing that you launch in a community, you have to stay consistent. We’ve learned that the one who stays in the neighborhood the longest wins. Consistency—doing what you say you’re going to do— wins the attention of the people. I believe one of the things churches might be missing is that they’re more focused on their services and gatherings than they are on being in the community. You have to make it simple and eliminate the obstacles for people to be involved on a consistent basis. We really try to find different times on different days to get as many people involved in serving as possible so that it’s not just this once-amonth thing. If there’s only one serve day a month, and [people have] to work or their kids have a soccer game, then they’ll never serve. And the community presence is less noticeable. So for example, as the community of Long Beach sees that we’re not going anywhere; that we’re going to do what we say we’re going to do; and that we’re

going to be there, people will begin to open up and trust us more. We’re already starting to see that. Even after only a few months we’re starting to become a pillar in that neighborhood because we’ve stayed consistent. 2) Cultivating a culture of serving begins with the leader. Bradley: Creating a culture of serv-

ing is going to take the pastor getting excited about serving and modeling it because a culture is created from the top down. So identifying what your church is going to be about is vitally important. And then you have to be the one rallying the troops and modeling that passion by serving. We really try to never lose sight of reaching the one—that one person with a need. Around here we say, “Find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it, put yourself in someone else’s world.” Just like consistency creates trust among a communit y, consistenc y creates culture, too.

3) Fight the rut. Bradley: As we continue to serve

and meet needs now for 19 years, one of our greatest challenges is to not get stuck in a rut. I see churches all the time who just keep something the same way for years and years because that’s how they’ve done it. We have to always look for creative ways to change up things so that the people who are serving, as well as the people we’re serving, don’t get stuck in a rut. The people you serve are constantly changing, which changes the need or the way we go about meeting it. We want to make sure that we’re revolutionar y, ser ving in different ways they haven’t seen and that we’re being creative with how we do it. We just keep trying to reinvent ourselves so that the programs and outreaches are as effective as they can be. As the church, we have everything we need to start to transform a community, but it’s going to be about identifying the need, mobilizing the people to be involved, staying consistent.

4) You always need a “so that.” Bradley: Any outreach must have a

“so that” attached to everything you do. The reason we meet people’s needs is “so that” we can earn the right to be heard and position ourselves to speak into their lives and tell them about what God has for them. Martinez: One of the greatest evangelism opportunities we have today is to show up and say, “We’re here to serve.” People will automatically just start asking questions. People ask us all the time, “You guys are a church, right?” That gives us the opportunity to say, “Actually, yes, we are, and since you brought that up, we wanted to let you know that the reason why we’re serving is because Jesus served us.” Any church can do that.  K e l l i B r a d l e y serves as director of the Los Angeles-based Dream Center’s 273 ministries, while J o n a t h a n M a r t i n e z leads the Adopt-a-Block ministry, one of the center’s first community initiatives that now draws around 700 volunteers each Saturday.

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What is your


DREAM How are people in your church and community catching a vision for a new life? Matthew Barnett says it starts with one question. BY MATTHEW BARNETT


HAT IS YOUR DREAM? It’s the one question they never expect. You can see their eyes widen when we ask them. They suddenly look up as if to say, “Did I hear you right?” Most of the time, when a homeless family arrives on our Los Angeles campus, they’ve lost just about everything. They have their car, whatever they’ve been able to cram into it, and nothing much else except the clothes on their backs. Someone on our staff takes them into a room and sits down with them. They’re expecting all the usual questions they’d get from most social workers. But we don’t do that kind of intake here. We have a different first question, and it almost always takes people by surprise. “What is your dream?” The question stuns them. Then often their eyes narrow a little with a flash of suspicion: Is this a joke? What is my dream? Are you kidding me? Coming here isn’t about dreaming! It’s about surviving. It’s about staying alive and keeping body and soul together. I didn’t show up on the front porch of a place like this because I’m chasing my dream. I’ve ended up here because I don’t have anywhere

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November // December 2013 MinistryToday   33

your dream”—and they can hardly believe their ears. Maybe they expected to have to prove themselves first or completely clean up their lives before we would start talking to them about their future. Belonging and Believing

“Jesus allowed people to belong first, to see what He was doing, find themselves drawn to Him—and then believe.” else to go. I want to keep my family together. I don’t want to live with abuse or threats. And I don’t have the energy any longer to fight the alcoholism, the drug abuse and the prostitution that are all around me. And you ask me, “What is your dream?” But “What is your dream?” is no idle question. It pertains to life and death. Think about Prov. 29:18: “Where there is no revelation [or vision], the people cast off restraint.” In other words, without a dream people don’t exercise self-control. When men and women have nothing to live for, they “cast off restraint.” So right up front we ask the people who come to us, “What is your dream? What do you want to see happen in your life? What do you want to achieve? Where do you want to go?” “Well,” they may say, “we’re just trying to survive.” And we answer: “But what if we took survival off the table? While you’re here, you won’t have to worry about that. This is a safe, clean place, and we will give you the food and shelter you need. So let’s start thinking about your potential.” The fact is, when you’ve been disappointed again and again, you become 34 MinistryToday November // December 2013

afraid to dream. How could you bear another disappointment? But in the power of Christ, you can begin to dream again. Even in marriages, there comes a point at which people lose hope. A husband and wife may be committed to staying together for the rest of their lives, but as they imagine the years ahead, it looks to them more like running an endurance test or slogging along on an endless marathon. Asking people “What is your dream?” is almost like lifting them to a whole different plane. We’ve found that most people really do have something in their hearts they would love to do or pursue, but they have suppressed that dream for so long that it doesn’t seem like a possibility at all. Maybe the dream is getting free from addiction. Maybe it’s finishing high school or going to college. Maybe it’s being trained for a certain occupation or specific career. The desire is still there, but it’s buried so deep beneath their setbacks, pain and loss that they’ve forgotten they ever had any aspirations. Once we hear their dream, we tell them, “We’re going to help you get to

This “What is your dream?” interaction is based on a concept that the Lord has impressed on us through the years as we’ve worked with people in crisis. We call it “belong and believe.” Think about it. In the Gospels, Jesus said to a number of men, “Come and follow Me.” At that point, they were in no way ready to be disciples of Christ. They were just regular guys. But Jesus called each one of them, inviting them to walk with Him and to serve Him. He allowed people to belong first, to see what He was doing, find themselves drawn to Him—and then believe. For some of them, coming to faith in Jesus took a long time. Two disciples didn’t believe until after the resurrection when Jesus directly confronted them and said, “‘How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!’” (Luke 24:25, NIV). He didn’t justify their lack of belief or make excuses for their behavior while they were learning, but He allowed them to belong to believe. They didn’t have to clean up their lives first. Manuel Ramos was 17 when he came into our teen discipleship program (a major program at the Dream Center in which teens who have been kicked out of their homes and kicked out of school are raised in a Christian environment). Manny’s father was an alcoholic, and as a young boy, Manny became heavily involved in alcohol and drug abuse. He has been hospitalized more times than he can remember, he once accidentally burned down his home, and he drifted from trailer park to trailer park staying with friends until he ended up on the mean streets. He was probably as lost and broken and lonely as a young man can be. When Manny finally came to us— thanks to the help of a concerned family friend—dreams were the last thing on his mind. All too real was the horrific nightmare from which he’d just emerged. »


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“I had no idea I even had a dream,” he says. “I shouldn’t even be alive! At one point in my life, I was so messed up I thought it was all over. I couldn’t remember what I had done that week because I had never been sober. I was homeless, no one cared about me, and I didn’t care about myself. I didn’t take care of my body or try to stay clean. I just didn’t care.” And Manny had become an alcoholic by age 13. “Addiction doesn’t really say it,” he recalls. “It was more like affliction. Something awful. I was so lost—but nobody cared. If I had been dying, no one would have heard my screams. “So dreams? I never had time to think about dreams. I’m only 17 years old, but I’ve gone through stuff in my life that no man should ever go through. I’ve felt pain that’s so painful you want to throw up, but I had to go on. “So I quit sobbing and wiped my eyes. I hid the pain in the corner of my heart where no light shines. That’s where it stayed, and I forgot it was even there.” Once in our program, though, Manny learned that he had to re-encounter all of that hidden pain before he could catch a vision for a new life. Jesus helped him do exactly that. Soon after Manny met Jesus, the Lord walked him over to that corner of his heart where he had buried all his sorrow—the still-raw, jumbled up, jagged-edged, poison-tipped blades of pain that had torn into his young soul again and again. The Bully in the Room

That hiding place in Manny’s heart reminds me of an article I read about storing nuclear waste out in the deserts of eastern Washington state. In a process known as vitrification, radioactive liquids and sludge are turned into large glass logs that are stored in vast vaults somewhere deep under the soil—where they will presumably remain for the next 1,000 years or so. But Jesus doesn’t allow hidden vaults of crystalized pain and deep-rooted anguish. He wants to throw those vaults open. He wants to take that pain on Himself. “Jesus showed me my despair,” Manny remembers. “I found out right then that I had a Father and that He was a Father who actually cared about me. Without 36 MinistryToday November // December 2013

Him, I would have no dreams at all. I guess I had been just too proud to let God take care of me.” Sometime in the midst of Manny’s discipleship program, somebody taught him Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33-34 (NIV): “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” As Manny began to seek God first and release all his stored-up pain, he found something he hadn’t even been looking for: Manny found his dreams. Pain is like the bully in the room that chases a person’s hopes out the door and sends dreams into hiding. That’s why people in crisis who come through our doors are so surprised to have us ask them, “What is your dream?” Their dreams have been overshadowed by their disappointments and sorrows for so long that they may have forgotten they ever had any. But the Lord doesn’t forget anything. As we ask God to reveal His dream for our lives, He may first have to roll up His sleeves and help us work through some interwoven layers of heartbreak that have hidden His desire and purpose for us. Jesus did exactly that for Manny, even after all that young man had been through. I encourage you to believe that Jesus can do the same for you and the people God has placed in your care— both in your church and in your community. See what happens when you ask the people in your path, “What is your dream?”  M a t t h e w B a r n e t t is the senior pastor of one of the fastest-growing churches in the United States, Angelus Temple in Los Angeles. He is also the founder of The Dream Center, a ministry that demonstrates the love of Christ by rescuing people out of poverty, homelessness, addictions and human trafficking. Excerpted from God’s Dream for You with permission from Thomas Nelson for use only in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Ministry Today.


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A Calling

Is it enough to plant seeds, or does the church’s mission go beyond that? Mercy Ministries founder Nancy Alcorn says the church has a responsibility to not only share a message of mercy with the hurting, but also demonstrate mercy through our actions.



frequently travel to churches and Christian organizations to share the vision of the need to minister to hurting girls and unwed mothers. Most of the people who hear me speak become enthusiastic about responding to God’s call. Sometimes they commit to supporting Mercy Ministries with their prayers. Sometimes they help Mercy Ministries financially. Sometimes they catch the vision and begin to implement it in their area. Whatever God leads them to do, I am thankful most Christians who listen respond. Most, but not all. “I just don’t think the church is responsible for those girls. By having that home available, you are condoning premarital sex. We are simply to preach the gospel.” I try to reply to such criticisms in a pleasant way. “Don’t you think that the message might mean more if it is backed with actions? And isn’t the message for those who are hurting, not for those who are well?”

38 MinistryToday November // December 2013

Unfortunately I rarely receive a pleasant response: “I still don’t believe the church can possibly care for all those disturbed girls, juvenile delinquents, and unwed mothers—they are the ones responsible for their situations. Besides, we pay taxes for the government to take care of them. Those girls need highly skilled, well-educated professionals. A bunch of Christians with good intentions can’t possibly do much good.” »



No matter what I tell them about my own experience, some people have already made up their minds. They simply won’t listen to the voice of reason—or to the voice of God. There are also many Christians who are aware of the mistreatment and abuse some girls suffer and who want very much to address the problem, but they are not sure what the solution is.

that same moment, conviction gripped me. If this girl sensed my repulsion, we could lose her. The police had phoned me at the home only minutes before to tell me Tammy’s circumstances. “I’ve never seen anything quite like it,” the officer said with empathy in his voice. “If you can’t help her, I don’t know where she will end up.”

Nancy Alcorn (bottom row, center) with Mercy residents

Graduates of Mercy Ministries on a missions trip in Uganda

The solution is simple. It is the church. The people of God have the duty and privilege to bring restoration to broken lives. Loving the Seemingly Unlovable

I think about Tammy and the first time I saw her. The smell almost knocked me over. As Tammy came closer, I saw the filthiness of her clothes. Her hair was matted and looked as though there were bugs in it. I thought, I do not want this girl to sit in my car. In 40 MinistryToday November // December 2013

I receive phone calls like this often. A parent, friend, neighbor, or counselor will call to tell me of a troubled girl he would like me to meet. So getting in my car and going out to bring this girl to Mercy Ministries was not unusual. I had made a commitment to the Lord when this ministry began that where He leads, I’ll follow. As I drove into the desolate area of the inner city, I recalled the details the officer had given: “We found her at this drug dealer’s house we have been surveilling,” he told me. “We advised her to

get out now or she would probably end up in jail. Then we told her about you and Mercy Ministries, and she agreed to get help.” But now as I stood face-to-face with this seemingly hopeless transient, I saw how much unconditional love I lacked. I hugged her quickly and tried not to gag from her smell. As we walked to the car, she turned toward me and softly spoke. “Ma’am, I don’t think it is a good idea for me to get in your car,” she said, obviously embarrassed. “Don’t wor r y about it, honey. You won’t hurt anything,” I tried to reassure her. With pleading eyes she added, “Do you at least have something I can sit on?” “Only this,” I said, and pulled an old jacket out of the trunk. I crawled into the driver’s seat, and before we were a mile up the road, I felt myself becoming physically ill from the odor. But I couldn’t show my disgust or this girl would think I was rejecting her. As if sensing my dilemma, she said, “I’m sorry I smell so bad. I can even smell myself.” “We’ll get you cleaned up as soon as we get you home,” I promised her. Before we got there, I suggested we cut off the air and roll down the windows. Thankfully she agreed. Uneasiness swept over me. What if the girls don’t receive her? What if they say something inappropriate and Tammy is destroyed? As I pulled in the driveway and got out of the car, the girls were waiting at the door. I had told them I was going to pick someone up, but I feared they would not be prepared for this. Thankfully the Holy Spirit had breathed upon their spirits. I love to watch Him work. As Tammy took her first steps into Mercy Ministries, she was embraced by examples of unconditional love. For a moment she stood at the doorway, taking in the new surroundings. One by one the girls introduced themselves, and their compassion was evident. Tammy again apologized for her odor. “I really am sorry I smell this way,” she whispered as she lowered her head. Sensing her uneasiness, the girls took her hand and led her down the hall. As the voices trailed off and the girls

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disappeared into the bathroom, I could hear them offering everything from towels and clothes to shampoo. The conviction I had felt earlier swept over me again. I was supposed to be doing that. After all, wasn’t I the one who stood before congregations night after night telling of the unconditional love we offer here? But I had not even wanted this girl in my car. That day, as I saw the love of God manifested in its purest form, I realized that the message preached at

church is commissioned to do works far surpassing these. The church is called to do the work of Jesus. During Jesus’ earthly ministry He did more than preach a message; He reached out to a hurting and sinful people. In one of His first sermons, Jesus said He was sent not only to preach the gospel to the poor but also to heal the brokenhearted and to set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18). And that is exactly what He did. Jesus fed the hungry (John 6:1-12) and

Nancy Alcorn baptizes a Mercy resident

“The solution is simple. It is the church. The people of God have the duty and privilege to bring restoration to broken lives.” Mercy Ministries was working. Today it had preached to me. As I lay in bed that night, the events of the day kept replaying in my head. The girls had not hesitated to touch Tammy’s filthiness, and God has not hesitated to touch ours. I realized the lesson the body of Christ (especially I) could learn from seeing what I had seen that day. If we, the church, could learn to love the seemingly unlovable, our witness would be limitless. The Mission of the Church

Tammy’s story and others like hers are firm reminders to me that it is not enough for us preach a message, pass out tracts or visit door-to-door to evangelize a neighborhood, though those activities may be the specific calling of some individual Christians. The 42 MinistryToday November // December 2013

gave drink to the thirsty (John 2:1-10). He exalted the lowly (Matt. 11:25). He consoled the mourning (Luke 24:36). He forgave the criminal (Luke 23:43). He released the captive (Mark 5:1-20). He comforted the imprisoned (Luke 4:18). He restored the fallen (John 21:1519). He fellowshiped with the outsider (Luke 15:2). He suffered for the sake of His people (Rom. 4:25). He died for us (Rom. 5:8). Not only does the Bible reveal that Jesus ministered to the needs of the people around Him, but it also points out a special group to whom Christ especially ministered. As Jesus was touring the countryside with His 12 disciples, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of heaven, several women went along (Luke 8:1-3). Until they met Jesus, these women had

suffered from physical diseases and demonic possession. As a result of His work in their lives, they were not only restored but also privileged to proclaim the reality of Jesus Christ. One of them, Mary Magdalene, was honored by being the first to see and announce that Christ had risen (John 20:11-18). Scripture makes it clear that Jesus was actively involved in ministering to people in need through works of compassion. It also demonstrates that the hurt in the broken lives of women was close to His heart. But that was only the beginning. Jesus told the disciples, “He who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also” (John 14:12). He commanded the church to follow the example of His ministry by not merely sharing a message of mercy but also demonstrating mercy through their deeds. And that is what they did. In the New Testament members of the church performed the same deeds as Christ. They fed the hungry and gave drink to the thirsty (Acts 11:27-30). They exalted the lowly (1 Cor. 1:26–31). They consoled the mourning (Acts 20:9-12). They forgave the criminal (Acts 9:26-30). They released the captive (Acts 16:16-18). They comforted the imprisoned (Acts 16:25). They restored the fallen (2 Cor. 2:5-9). They fellowshiped with the outsider (Acts 11:1-18). They suffered for the sake of God’s people (Col. 1:24). The apostles reorganized the very structure of the early church by adding new offices to sustain widows (Acts 6:1-7). They understood that “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27). Because of their experience in godly living, the church gave the women a special teaching ministry (1 Tim. 5:9-10; Titus 2:3-5). It is clear in Scripture that from its inception the church was actively involved in ministering to a hurting world. It is also plain that the broken lives of women were of special concern to these servants of Christ. We who follow Jesus Christ and are part of His church are charged with

continuing to carry out Christ’s Great Commission in the midst of our present crisis. We must not only share the gospel with our words; we must also address with our actions the hurts and needs that confront us daily. We, not the government, are commanded to support the unwed mothers. We, not the government, are commanded to release the young women in bondage to drug addiction, promiscuity, and other sins. We, not the government, are commanded to bring young women into the embrace of eternal life. We, not the government, are commanded to bring restoration to broken lives. We, not the government, are commanded to be the hands, the feet, and the mouthpiece of Jesus Christ to the world today. The Heart of the Great Commission

As the people of God and the followers of Jesus Christ, the church is called to bring the message of salvation to those enslaved by sin. This mission

means more than merely sharing a message, as important as that is. According to Scripture, the disciples were given broader instructions: “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ ” (Matt. 28:18-20). Clearly, the heart of the Great Commission is not just evangelism; it is also discipleship. Though salvation from sin is an essential element of the gospel, it also includes “‘teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you’” (Matt. 28:20). The Lord has charged His church not only with the task of planting seeds but also with the duty and privilege of being used by Him to make sure that what is planted grows to maturity and bears much fruit (1 Cor. 3:6-9.) Just

as Christians are called to apply the gospel to their lives, so they are called to teach others to do likewise. We have the responsibility to lay a foundation on which godly lives can be built. It is up to us. There is no one else.  N a n c y A l c o r n spent the first eight years of her career working at a correctional facility for juvenile delinquent girls and later investigating child abuse cases. Out of this experience came a driving passion to help broken girls that led Alcorn in 1983 to found Mercy Ministries, a free-of-charge, Christian residential program for girls ages 13 to 28. Her book Echoes of Mercy, from which this article was adapted, chronicles her journey of transforming lives, as does her latest release, Mission of Mercy (Charisma House). To learn more about Mercy Ministries, visit


Called to the Take these five steps to be a church that impacts the people in your sphere of influence BY KIRK KIRLIN


or a couple of decades, my ministry team has been helping to make pa stors bet ter leaders —not by showing them how to run better programs or have slicker services—but by teaching them to lead their churches to impact cities the way Christ did. We created the five steps you’ll read about on the following pages because of what we’re seeing all over the country: The church is disconnected from the communit y. I served at a successful church for several years. Just about every dime of our budget, every minute of our time and every ounce of our collective energ y were eaten up ministering on our campus to those who showed up. While we succeeded in gathering nearly 1,200 people, we missed almost 3 million who lived and worked within reach. © istockphoto/lissart | Linda Gillotti

The money we spent on “outreach” was used to promote our events. Two facts make this upsetting: (1) Fewer and fewer Americans are willing to visit a church at any time for any reason; and (2) Jesus and the early church didn’t operate this way. Rather than promote weekly extravaganzas at Solomon’s colonnade, Jesus met and ministered to people where they were. Bu i ld i ng relat ion sh ips w it h i n t he community and ministering to those outside the congregation create a church that is thriving and vibrant. Isn’t that what you want your church to be? We call churches like these “missional churches.” The process to becoming a missional church is doable, transferrable and follows a few sequential steps. »

November // December 2013 MinistryToday   45

Step 2

“Though we succeeded in gathering nearly 1,200 people, we missed almost 3 million who lived within reach.”

Step 1

DETERMINE YOUR PERSONAL CALLING Before your church can become missional, some of your members must live on mission. Think of it this way: Personal change precedes corporate change. By “live on mission,” I mean that they sense God’s calling to reach out into their community and build relationships with unchurched people—and then actually act on it. This “calling” is not nearly as mysterious as many assume. Most of the time, He calls us to connect with non-Christians who are like us—those who have similar backgrounds and experiences. God knows what He’s doing in our lives. My friend, Robert, spent a ver y unpleasant childhood shuffled from one crummy foster home to another until, as a teenager, he was adopted by a Christian couple. They loved and cared for him as no one had ever done before. The experience was transformational. He became an exceptional person, receiving a law degree from the University of California at

46 MinistryToday November // December 2013

Los Angeles. Moreover, he ended up founding a nd fina ncing Christia n orphanages in Nicaragua and the Philippines. His ministry, Arms of Love International, finds, embraces, loves, cares for and holistically educates dozens of kids nobody wants. God shaped him to make an incredible and unique impact. I think about Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” All of our life experiences have been orchestrated to shape us for the “good” we get to do. Discovering our missional calling is often as easy as looking carefully over our lives—the people, the events and the circumstances that have shaped us. Wondering if you’re where you’re supposed to be? Consider your skills, connections, experiences, passions and concerns. Let them direct you toward where you’re to serve. Think about how God might use you, as he does Robert, in a unique way.


Even when armed with a clear and concise sense of missional calling, relatively few Christians make the jump from sitting in church to living as a missionary in their local context. Most need a pretty powerful “nudge” to break loose from the momentum of the life they’re accustomed to and the commitments that consume their time. This step can be hard. Many wellintentioned church leaders are so busy with church activities that they don’t have time to minister to those outside. So, how do we step into our new, missional calling? Assess your commitments. List your current commitments and think about each one. Is the commitment in line with the missional calling you feel God has for you? Does this commitment take too much of your time without furthering your impact on those you care about? Recognize your spheres. In bringing Ephesians 2:10—that God has been shaping us all along for what He’s planned for us to do—to fruition, God has provided both the people to help us move into our missional calling and the people we’re meant to serve and influence. Who are some of the people that might help you move into your calling? Who are some of the people you feel called to serve? Take action. Without a concerted, deliberate leap, we can never hurdle all that binds us to the comforts of the life we know. We have to break out of the familiar to begin connecting with those to whom we’re called. Get rid of the commitments that actually diminish the missional living God’s called you to. Delegate responsibility. And once you’ve decided to take that leap, you can keep connecting, serving, blessing and loving the people you’re called to. Consider Dave, a denominational executive burdened with the oversight of 65 churches in his district. Before taking Step No. 2, he routinely worked 70-hour weeks and had no connection to anyone unchurched. During our Activate Workshop, Dave found ways to gradually cut more than 20 hours from his work week, freeing him up to Lightstock

meet his neighbors. During times of fellowship over shared coffee and meals, he built deep friendships with these neighbors. Now a couple years later, they regularly call on Dave in times of distress and are moving toward Christ in unprecedented ways.

Step 3

Determine Your Church’s Calling

You can help your church understand its calling only if you’ve walked through the steps yourself and acted on your own missional calling. Impacting those outside the church, you can lead your church to become missional. Ephesians 2:10 applies equally as well to churches as it does to individuals: “For we are his workmanship....” Though it’s great to have individual believers connect with the unchurched in meaningful ways, a congregation serving together on local mission can change an entire city. A few years ago, a city councilwoman commented on the influence of a local church in her city: “I don’t know where

our city would be without this church. They’ve contributed to our city in ways we could never repay!” Where is your church equipped to serve? Here are several small steps to discern where God is calling your church to impact the community: Analyze your “mission field.” To learn the local residents’ hopes, dreams, worries and concerns, have a few church members interview community leaders (chief of police, school principals, city council members, community service administrators and the mayor’s office). Tell them to ask about barriers to Christ, the gospel, and the church in that community. Others can obtain demographic data on both the community and the congregation. For example, a Presbyterian church in Laguna Niguel, California, interviewed the City Council to determine where it could serve. Partnering with the Red Cross, members became disaster preparedness advocates in their neighborhoods. Helping neighbors to be ready for

wildfires, floods and earthquakes—disasters common to this area—they forged lasting relationships and met practical needs. Another congregation, a Christian church in the Los Angeles basin, is made up of a mix of Anglo, Hispanic and Filipino members, some of whom are on the edge of poverty. They learned of a community of people who’d lost their homes and were living in their cars, RVs and campers. They adopted this community and, almost weekly, found tangible ways to serve, befriend and love these resilient people. The church was able to connect deeply with people who had lost everything. Today, many of them have a relationship with Christ and deep friendships with the members of the church. Discerning God’s calling for your church, looking at the needs of the community and deciding how your church can serve those needs are vital steps to becoming the vibrant church God wants all churches to be. »

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Step 4


Every pastor or church leader wants his church to be vibrant, growing and healthy. Unfortunately, that desire can lead us to focus inward instead of outward on the ministry the church does in the community. After you’ve completed the process of determining possible areas in which your church could affect the community, it’s time to take action. Focus. Nothing is as essential to a church’s missional strategy as impacting communit y residents regularly, repeatedly, redemptively and unconditionally. But it’s not the amount of activity that matters; it’s the extent of the impact you’re having. Once our eyes are opened to the needs, we realize there are many ways to help. Resist the urge to be everywhere at once. Pick one place, one people to engage frequently, generously and beneficially. For example, about a third of the congregation of a Free Methodist Church in California’s South Bay are seniors, so they decided to adopt a residential care facility for retirees. Every week, church members care for residents, family members and staff at the care center. On a regular basis, they meet the needs of residents and staff. Recently, an administrator commented that in his 20-year career, he’s never seen a church care so deeply, regularly and beneficially. He recently said, “If this continues, I might change my religion.” Serve for their benefit, not yours.

Put aside the idea that outreach is about growing your church. Determining and acting on your church’s calling isn’t intended to get people to join your church. It’s not intended to get people to do anything but instead provides a context for believers to demonstrate the gospel for those who otherwise would not experience it. We worked with a suburban Foursquare church that decided to adopt their city offices, offering free volunteers for any civic function. At first, their offers fell flat. City officials were skeptical that church members would manipulate this opportunity. After months of “no’s,” the city had a volunteer need they couldn’t fill any other way. When church members came 48 MinistryToday November // December 2013

“You can help your church understand its calling only if you’ve walked through the steps yourself and acted on your own missional calling.” and served without wearing church logo shirts, without hanging a banner advertising their service times and location, and without handing out, “come worship with us” cards—the city was relieved. The church was invited back— again and again. Careful to love and serve the city for its benefit alone, this church has developed a reputation for being authentic, caring and generous. Relationships have formed. In time, several city employees gave their lives to Christ, and some are now regulars at the church. Work as a team. To become a vibrant church that reaches the community, you’ll need to establish a committed leadership team and a team leader for each missional initiative. These people do the initial work of building relationships with administrators, supervisors and executives where your congregation will be serving. They’ll provide the leadership, communicate ministry opportunities and successes, and invent ways for the congregation to participate broadly and deeply in the missional initiative.

this is a lot to do; and (2) I really haven’t been equipped to lead my people in this way. A friend once described the transition as “turning a librarian into a Navy Seal.” You may not feel quite like a “librarian,” but “Navy Seal” is probably not the first thing people say when describing you. You’re most likely somewhere between the two. Over the last 20 years, we’ve walked with thousands of pastors and denominational executives who now live and lead a lot more like a Navy Seal than they did before. Though there’s certainly a need to develop and practice some skills related to leading, vision casting, team building, change processing, and coaching, the greatest changes happen in you. If Christianity is anything, it’s a dynamic trust relationship between God and those who are being developed to maturity in Christ. For pastors in this context, it means being a leader of change by being a leader in change. And so much of that will—in the end—be about willingness to trust Christ and follow His lead.

Step 5



If you’re like many pastors, right now you’re thinking two things: (1) Wow,

We live at a moment in church history when deep change is underway, both in the culture and in the church. » Lightstock

church members, are different. They now relate to the inmates in new ways. And this has changed the way the inmates are with each other. Could it be that the kingdom of God has come to this prison? Is the kingdom of God ready to break into your community? What is your church’s impact? What could it be? 

“Without a concerted, deliberate leap, we can never hurdle all that binds us to the comforts of the life we know.”

Starting and managing an investment business helped prepare K i r k K i r l i n to develop leaders. He has served on the pastoral staff of both a church plant and a large, growing church.  His passion is to champion leaders to live “all-in,” so that those they influence advance the Kingdom of God. Kirlin is the senior member of Church Resource Ministries’ reFocusing Team, which stewards this movement around the world. CRM’s reFocusing Team coaches pastors from across the denominational spectrum across the United States and abroad. For more information and to download the free eBook this article is based on, go to


Much of society has decided that we don’t have what they need, so they stay away—in droves. They need to experience the gospel, to see it lived out in ways that impact their lives, overcome their skepticism and thaw their cynicism. Only love—generous a nd unconditional—will do that. One last example: A mid-sized Methodist church has taken all five steps. Realizing they had a number of people in their congregation who work in law enforcement and discovering their community is home to three prisons, they adopted the correctional officers at a state prison just a half-mile from the church. A team was formed and began to lead the congregation as it invented ways to express appreciation and admiration for the prison guards. Not long ago, an official confessed that because of this congregation’s influence, “the environment has changed” in the prison. Correctional officers, impacted by the kindness and care of

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Vacation Bible School

Want your church’s 2014 VBS to be the best ever? Get a jump-start by checking out the following resources for reaching all ages in your community this VBS season. ABINGDON PRESS Praise Break: Celebrating the Works of God! Methodist; Preschool/Kindergarten (ages 3-5), Younger Elementary (grades 1-3), Older Elementary (grades 4-6), Teen and Adult; five sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so (Ps. 107:2a, NRSV). THEME/CONTENT: God has brought us a mighty long way, and it is always good to pause and praise the Lord! In many churches, there are points in worship wherein a testimony, a song or a sermon is just so good that it calls for a “praise break!” STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Worship DVD including an introduction video, music videos, movement instructionals and demonstrations, liturgical dance video and a mini-documentary; Director’s manual; Preschool/Kindergarten, Younger and Older Bible Story Leader Guides; Arts & Crafts L eader; Music & Movement L eader; 52 MinistryToday November // December 2013

Heritage & Drama Leader; Recipe Guide; Outreach/Follow-up Leader; Student Book Sa mples for Preschool/K inderga rten, Younger Elementary, Older Elementary and Teen; Music CD; one sample of each publicity and craft material: Craft Sticker Sheet, Promo Poster, Invitation Postcard, Leader Certificate, Student Certificate, IronOn Transfer, Horse-and-Chariot Craft and Praise Break Chess Piece. STARTER KIT PRICE: $74.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Unique crafts; original songs. PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “Christ was proclaimed, people were reached, and everyone had a blast” (Paul Appleby, pastor, Central Christian Church, Columbus, Ga.).

ANSWERS IN GENESIS International Spy Academy: Agents for the One True God Nondenominational; Toddler (ages 2-4), Pre-Primary (ages 4-6), Primary (ages 6-9), Junior (ages 9-12), Teen-Adult; five sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: There is only one true God (1 Kin. 18); Our Three-in-One God (Matt. 3); The Great I AM (Ex. 3); The one true God provided the one true way of salvation through His one true Son Jesus Christ (Gospels); Love the one true God with everything you’ve got! (Mark 12). THEME/CONTENT: Special Agents learn to know, love and live for the one true God. Day 1, they’ll learn to detect false gods of counterfeit religions. Day 2, they’ll uncover our three-in-one God, the Trinity. Day 3, they’ll find out more about the Great I AM and some of His awesome attributes. Day 4, they’ll learn about the Creator who came to redeem us from our sin. Day 5, they’ll be encouraged to stay hot on the trail of the one true God and love Him with everything they’ve got! STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Director Guide; Assembly Guide; Craft Guide; Snack Guide; Game Guide; Junior Teacher Guide; Primary Teacher Guide; Pre-Primary Teacher Guide; Toddler Teacher Guide; one Student Guide for each age group; Promo & Recruitment DVD; Helper Handbook; Special Agent Handbook; How Can I Become a Child of God? booklet; passport. STARTER KIT PRICE: $99.99 (Sta rter); $189.99 (Super Starter) ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Leader Guides; Student Guides; promotional materials;

T-shirts; hat; music resources (contemporary or traditional versions); puppets; station signs; student resources; spy-type gear; decorating posters; gospel booklets; King James Version resources. PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “It was very easy to follow the teacher manuals, and they had wonderful variation in methods of presentation” (Bethanne W., VBS teacher). “Thank you, Answers VBS, for not remaining silent, but for having a loud voice for truth!” (Joni W.). “The material was totally solid and flowed really well” (Katie S.). “A well-organized, professional, energetic, Bible-based God-loving program” (Steve U.). “Some people say there are many gods, but there’s only one true God!” (Calvin M., age 6). “The teaching material was fantastic! The best yet!” (Kara S.). “All the kids loved this theme and had a lot of fun!” (Aimee O.). NEW FOR 2014: Science experiments; missions opportunity with Children’s Hunger Fund to provide Food Paks and gospel tracts to hungry children around the world.

BOGARD PRESS Cross Canyon Trail: Ridin’ Strong With Jesus Baptist; Preschool (ages 2-3), Kindergarten (ages 4-5), Beginner (Grades 1-2), Primary (Grades 3-4), Junior (Grades 5-6), Young Teen (Grades 7-9), Teen (Grades 10-12), Adult; five sessions.

God; Ridin’ Obedient: Ruth was obedient in following God; Ridin’ Faithful: Nehemiah was faithful when rebuilding the wall; Ridin’ Bold: Peter was bold when he reached out to the lost; and Ridin’ Courageous: Esther was courageous in the face of danger. STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Lesson and music DVD; songbook; music CD; music transparencies; craft book; game book; skits book; fun book; comic book; Trail Guide with stickers; theme stickers; achievement certificate; appreciation certificate; nametag; lanyard; plastic nametag holder; bulletin cover; doorknob hanger; publicity flyers; postcard; publicity poster; salvation tract; attendance chart with stickers; activity pages for Preschool, Kindergarten, Beginner, Primary and Junior; Student Books for Young Teen and Teen; Teacher Manuals and Visuals for Preschool-Teen and Adult Lessons; Director’s Plan Book with Resource CD; New Testament; bookmark; photo frame; daily crafts; Live-It! cards; bracelet; VBS pin; nylon drawstring backpack; bandana; pencil; tote bag; T-shirt; iron-on transfer; video posters; memory verse posters; Bible teaching posters; door banner; daily icon set; room decorations; transparencies. STARTER KIT PRICE: $189.95. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Triptych art; wall banners; community yard sign; vinyl banner; decoration set. NEW FOR 2014: Bracelet.


THEME/CONTENT: Scavenger hunt. Join Jeff Slaughter on this VBS adventure-filled scavenger hunt that begins at Matt. 7:7 and follows a Scripture-packed path through Bible studies. STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Essential Kit: curriculum manual (director section, preschool, younger kids Bible study [grades K-2], older kids Bible study [grades 3-5]); Ultimate Scavenger Hunt DVD (includes song videos and choreography); Official Scavenger Hunt listening CD; name badge with lanyard. Ultimate Kit: includes all of the above with Ultimate Media Kit (DVD with songs and choreography, digital curriculum CD and digital media DVD with .mov files and more), daily theme posters, station posters, promotional posters, official T-shirt. STARTER KIT PRICE: Essential Kit: $69.99; Ultimate Kit: $189.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Ancillary products: split-track performance CD; theme posters; name badges; nametag stickers; lanyards. NEW FOR 2014: Curriculum now available in Spanish; oversized themed wall poster; Backyard Bible Club edition included on the curriculum disc in the Ultimate Kit or downloadable at the website.

COKESBURY Workshop of Wonders: Imagine and Build With God Methodist; Preschool/Kindergarten, Younger Elementary, Older Elementary, Teen, Adult; five sessions. Jeff Slaughter’s VBS Scavenger Hunt Evangelical (nondenominational); Preschool-Grade 5; five sessions. MAIN SCRIPTURES: Judg. 6:1-16, 36-40; Ruth 1:14-17, 2:5-16, 3:10-11, 4:13-17; Neh. 4:1-23, 6:1-9; Acts 10:9-22, 34-43, 11:1-2, 12-18; Esth. 3:8-15, 4:1-17. THEME/CONTENT: Verse: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23, KJV). Students will follow God’s trail in life by serving, following, living for, sharing and standing with their Savior, Jesus Christ. The five Bible lessons include Ridin’ Ready: Gideon was ready to serve when asked of

pre sen



VBS Made Easy!

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Weekly theme: Matt. 7:7; Daily themes: Gen. 1-3, Num. 22-23, John 3:16, Acts 1-2.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: “You are the God who works wonders” (Ps. 77:14a, CEB). STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Workshop of Wonders catalog access to free premium upgraded online registration tools available at; Director Guide; Preschool/Kindergarten Leader Guide; additional Leader Guides; sample copy November // December 2013 MinistryToday   53

of age-level Student Books for Preschool/ Kindergarten, Younger Elementary and Older Elementary; complete music CD with PowerPoint slides, which includes two original preschool songs and samples of publicity and craft materials. STARTER KIT PRICE: $89.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Free outdoor banner with starter kit (if ordered by Dec. 31). PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “As a recreational leader, and also playing professional sports, I’m able to show these kids physical fitness, running around, exercising, warming up drills, warming up properly” (Van Tuinei, NFL professional recreation leader, First United Methodist Church, Noblesville, Ind.); “The flexibility of this is that you could do that for any size church. I think that you could take the curriculum and choose two or three different stories to fit, whether it be a weekend or just a three- or four-day VBS” (Laura Stinnett, director of children’s ministries, Asbury United Methodist Church, Little Rock, Ark.). NEW FOR 2014: 3-D Scripture Treasures; music videos filmed on location.

CONCORDIA PUBLISHING HOUSE Gangway to Galilee Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod; Preschool-Adult; five sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: “I have called you by name, you are Mine” (Is. 43:1, NASB); “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation” (Ps. 25:5); “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7); “Jesus said, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’ ” (Matt. 14:27); “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). THEME/CONTENT: Gangway! Clear your schedule! Even the wind and the waves 54 MinistryToday November // December 2013

can’t keep kids away from this voyage. At Gangway to Galilee, kids visit exciting sites around the Sea of Galilee and discover how Jesus saves us now and eternally. Dare to make this an amazing grace adventure! STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Super Duper Director Guide with CD; Horizon Program Overview DVD; Gangway to Galilee Tote Bags (5-pack); Pastor Overview; Set Sails Music; Music Leader Guide; Opening/Closing Leader Pack with CD; Seashore Storytelling Leader Guide with CD; Bible Story Posters (5); Big Catch Bible Challenge Leader Guide with CD; Bible Memory Posters (5 unique); Splash-tacular Crafts Leader Pack; Sunrise Snacks Leader Pack; Sink or Swim Games Leader Guide; Fin-tastick Preschool Leader Guide with CD; Castaway Youth/ Adult Bible Study Flyer; Casting Nets Mission Project Flyer; Offering Envelope; Publicity & Decorating Posters (3); Catch-O-Fish (25-pack); Publicity Postcards (24-pack); Publicity Poster; Craft Sampler Pack; Safe Harbor Sand Art Craft (12-pack); Seaside Boat Craft (12-pack); Fin-tastick Fish Craft (12-pack); iWitness Snap Bracelet (12-pack); My Savior Cross Craft (12-pack); Student Sampler Pack; Set Sail Passalong CD/DVD; High Tide Elementary Leaflets; All Aboard Preschool Leaflets; SOS Collectibles; Shipshape Buffs, Group Identifiers; team nametags (10-pack). STARTER KIT PRICE: $149.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Leader resources; puppets; Student Guides; keepsakes; crafts; decorating resources; free online registration; publicity supplements; T-shirts. PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “I just want to affirm how fantastic this curriculum is! The Summit Storytelling is thorough and engaging. I especially appreciate the emphasis on finding and memorizing the Bible Code each day. Getting kids familiar with the Bible is crucial and your program definitely seeks to do that. Love the mountain theme as well! Every song and study is intentional and cohesive with the theme/story of the day. Thank you for all the hard work you put in. Our Savior and Waikoloa Lutheran Church will certainly enjoy our daily trips to the Summit!” (Janet, Our Savior Lutheran Church, Aiea, Hawaii); “Thank you for making this year’s VBS one filled with energy and fun.

From the theme to the music to the stories, the program was well-written and easy to use. The PowerPoint slides made Base Camp a breeze and the supporting DVDs made the details of setting up and running Tell It VBS a joy to work with this year” (Pat); “We had a very successful VBS. We had wonderful volunteers and staff. Go Tell It on the Mountain was so fun to work with. We are still singing the songs. The best thing was we had some of the kids from last year. It was such an honor to be part of the program” (Dorothy, St. John Lutheran Church). NEW FOR 2014: Posters (14) now included in Starter Kit; how-to site videos (6) for volunteer training; Pastor’s Guide included in Starter Kit; more decorating how-to videos (14); more one-stop decorating shopping; more downloadable artwork.

EDITORIAL CONCORDIA El Rey que viene (The Coming King) Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod; Ages 3-14 and Adult; five sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Luke 19:28-40, 22:4748, 23:32-56, 24:1-35; Acts 1:3-11. THEME/CONTENT: Jesus Comes as King; Jesus Conquers the Great Enemy: Sin; Jesus Breaks the Old Dominion of Death and Opens a New Kingdom of Life; Jesus Comes to us in His Word and Holy Communion; Jesus Brings His Kingdom Through His Word. STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Lesson plans for all age levels; lyrics and music for eight original songs in Spanish and English; invitations, flyers and attendance certificates; cut-outs; adult Bible studies; closing program; three sets of five color posters for each day’s Bible story; student worksheet samples for the three levels; one full-color promotional poster; multimedia CD with songs,

accompaniment tracks, story narrations (only in Spanish) and PowerPoints. STARTER KIT PRICE: $54.99 Spanish-Only Leader’s Pack; $59.99 Bilingual (English/ Spanish) Leader’s Pack ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Student worksheets; promotional posters; crafts; cardboard stand-up Jesus figure. NEW FOR 2014: Decorating option: cardboard stand-up Jesus figure.

GOSPEL LIGHT SonTreasure Island Nondenominational; Preschool-Preteen; five-day, ten-day or other formats available in Director’s Planning.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Based on 1 Cor. 13. Children will learn more about how God’s love is shown through Jesus, as they move through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Session 1: Jesus Helps a Young Girl and a Sick Woman. Session 2: Jesus Forgives Zacchaeus. Session 3: Jesus Lives Forever. THEME/CONTENT: Visitors to SonTreasure Island are welcomed by the scent of exotic flowers, the taste of tropical fruits and the sound of island music. But this is no ordinary escape! There is treasure to be found here. More precious than gold, more lasting than diamonds, it is the greatest treasure of all— God’s love! At SonTreasure Island, treasure seekers will play island games, create colorful crafts and enjoy tropical snacks. But more importantly, they will discover the rich treasure of God’s love through the life of Jesus. STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Deluxe Kit: Bible Story Center Guides for Primary-Preteen; Prekindergarten & Kindergarten Teacher’s Guide; sample pack of Student Guides; Bible Game Center Guide; Recreation & Snack Guide; Island Crafts for Kids; Assemblies & Skits Production Guide: Reproducible Resources with decorating instructions and patterns; Elementary Teaching Resources;

Prekindergarten & Kindergarten Teaching Resources; Decorating Poster Pack; Director’s Planning Guide with CD; Reproducible Music CD; Preview DVD; Director’s sample pack. STARTER KIT PRICE: $169.99 Deluxe Kit; $99.99 Reproducible Power Pack ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Reproducible Power Pack, including t wo CDs a nd one DVD with resources for churches to print and email to VBS team members and families. L e a de r s’ R e s ou rc e s C D i nc lude s resources for the Assembly Leader, Bible Story Center, Bible Games Center Leader, Recreation and Snack Center Leader and Music Center Leader. Print them out or email the files to your leaders. Print out as many student guides as you like or send student guides to families via email. Print the posters in a smaller size, or send them to a local print shop to print in a larger format. Includes Primary-Preteen Bible Story Center Guides in PDF; Prekindergarten/Kindergarten Teacher’s Guide in PDF; Assemblies & Skits Production Guide in PDF with patterns in JPG; Skit Scripts for Promotional Skit, Assembly Skits, Closing Program & Bible Story Skits in PDF and RTF formats; Bible Games Center Guide in PDF; Recreation & Snack Center Guide in PDF; Daily Student Guides in five age levels PreK-Preteen in PDF; Bible story posters in JPG; Bible verse posters in JPG; Course logo & daily logos in JPG; Music Center activities, Song Word Charts, Piano Sheet Music and Song Motions in PDF; six SonTreasure songs and two preschool songs in MP3; Decorating & Crafts Everything for decorating, creating crafts and any other arts or graphics needs; Reproducible Resources in PDF with Patterns in JPG; clip art; Island Crafts for Kids craft book in PDF with patterns in JPG; Decorating Poster Pack in JPG; Assembly Resources Everything on Assemblies DVD, but formatted to be used with presentation software such as ProPresenter or Mediashout; humorous videos that introduce each session’s Bible story in MOV; music videos for each of the songs in MOV; Practice videos for the song motions in MOV; Bible story posters in JPG; Bible verse posters in JPG; course logo and daily logos in JPG.

PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “I love everything about Gospel Light; from every aspect, the music, crafts, games, stories, all come together to get God’s message across for the children. The teachers and helpers love it also because the curriculum is so easy to use. It’s just an awesome and fun experience for all ages!” (Alice Mohn, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Pennsylvania); Gospel Light’s VBS “never fails to deliver a strong biblical message, with all the bells and whistles that any church could ever use” (Erin Beal, Trinity Lutheran Church, Ohio);“Out of the approximately 50 children, there were 30 who either asked Jesus into their hearts for the first time or recommitted their prior experience” (Mary Macho, Canyon Hill Nazarene Church, Idaho). NEW FOR 2014: Reproducible Power Pack.

GOSPEL LIGHT SonTreasure Island Weekend Adventure! Nondenominational; PreschoolPreteen; three sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Based on 1 Cor. 13, just as is full SonTreasure Island program (see above). THEME/CONTENT: Same as SonTreasure Island VBS (see above). STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Director’s Guide; Bible stories with creative storytelling techniques that tell how Jesus showed God’s amazing love when He was here on Earth; variety of activities that appeal to children’s many learning styles, including games, crafts, music and more; a Teacher & Parent Connection for each lesson that can be given to parents; reproducible CD that includes music and lesson materials ready to print or email (student guides, lessons ready to email, modifiable flyers, etc.); closing program for the worship time in your November // December 2013 MinistryToday   55

Sunday morning worship service. STARTER KIT PRICE: $89.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Reproducible CD includes music and lesson materials ready to print or email (student guides, lessons ready to email, modifiable flyers, etc.) PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “Gospel Light’s curriculum is so easy to follow. Plus, it is so biblically sound. I love it!” (Cyndi Young, Elam Baptist Church, Ga.); “It is directorfriendly and teacher-friendly” (Sherry Watts, St. Thomas More Catholic Church, Kan.).

customize it to our situation. I love that it was a three-day schedule.” (Heather Murphy, VBS director).

GROUP PUBLISHING Wilderness Escape: Where God Guides and Provides Interdenominational; Preschool-Adult (intergenerational); five sessions.

by how it ended up being a faith-developing experience for adults and unsaved family/friends who were connected to our members. It was just plain fun!” (Amy Ellzey, VBS director). NEW FOR 2014: Only three trained Station Leaders (Celebration, Moses, Fun and Games); only three main stations to decorate; preschool-friendly options; smaller tribe sizes.

GROUP PUBLISHING Weird Animals: Where Jesus’ Love Is One-of-a-Kind Interdenominational; PreschoolYouth; five sessions.

GROUP PUBLISHING Blast Off: Launching Kids on a Mission of God’s Love Interdenominational; Preschool-Youth; two two-and-a-half-hour sessions, plus a one-hour Sunday Celebration.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Day 1: Men bring their friend to Jesus for healing (Luke 5:17-6); Day 2: Jesus dies and comes back to life (Matt. 27:11-28:20). THEME/CONTENT: Countdown to the most fun weekend in the universe! As kids explore God’s infinite love, they’ll practice down-to-Earth ways to love each other. S T A R T E R K I T C O N T E N T S : Di rec tor Resources: Director Go-To Manual; Blast Off Program Resources DVD; VBS P.R.O. Volunteer Resources; Music and More Leader Manual; Out-of-This-World Bible Adventures Leader Manual; Projects-Witha-Purpose Leader Manual; Have-a-Blast Games Leader Manual; Mission Sendoff Leader Manual; Blast Off Music Leader Version CD; Student Materials Sample Pack. STARTER KIT PRICE: $67.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Updates and resources at PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “The best part about Weekend VBS was the organization and preplanning that was already done for me. It was so simple to use and we were able to 56 MinistryToday November // December 2013

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Day 1: The Israelites cross the Red Sea (Ex. 14:1-15:21); Day 2: God provides manna and quail (Ex. 16); Day 3: Israel defeats the Amalekites (Ex. 17:8-16); Day 4: Moses remembers Passover (Ex. 12:130); Day 5: God gives the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20). THEME/CONTENT: Caravan with Moses and the Israelites. S T A R T E R K I T C O N T E N T S : Di rec tor Resou rces: Ultimate Director Go -To Guide; Ultimate Director Go-To Recruiting & Training DVD; Decorating Places: Wilderness Escape DVD; Wilderness Escape Clip Art & Resources CD; VBS P.R.O. Volunteer Resources; Publicit y Poster; Publicity Samples; Bringing It Home: Family Faith-Builders Devotional; Volunteer Resources: Celebration Leader Manual; Israelite Camp Tent Host Manual; Moses’ Tent Leader Manual; Fun & Games Leader Manual; Celebration Music DVD; Celebration Leader Version CD; Israelite Tent Sample Pack; Student Resources Sample Pack. STARTER KIT PRICE: $139.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Updates and resources available at PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “We loved the Athens curriculum! We could teach whole families and they could enjoy the experience together. Everyone enjoyed the ‘living history’ format. Before the experience, we thought this was going to be for visiting children and their families. We were surprised

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Day 1: Jesus heals 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19); Day 2: Jesus reaches out to a Samaritan woman (John 4:1-30); Day 3: Jesus washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17); Day 4: Jesus dies and comes back to life (Luke 22:47–24:12); Day 5: Ananias bravely helps Saul (Acts 9:1-19). THEME/CONTENT: God filled the world with a lot of crazy creatures—including you! When kids feel weird, different or even lost in a crowd, nothing compares to the unconditional love of Jesus. S T A R T E R K I T C O N T E N T S : Di rec tor Resources: Weird Animals Ultimate Director Go-To Guide; Decorating Places: Weird Animals DVD; Weird Animals Clip Art & Resources CD; Weird Animals Ultimate Director Go-To Recruiting & Training DVD; VBS P.R.O. Volunteer Resources: Sing & Play Rock and The Tail End Leader Manual; KidVid Cinema Leader Manual; Imagination Station Leader Manual; One-of-a-Kind Bible Adventures Leader Manual; Critter Café Leader Manual; Untamed Games Leader Manual; Spotlight VBS Leader Manual; Ozzy’s Preschool Park Preschool Director Manual; Ozzy’s Preschool Park Bible Adventures and Missions Leader Manual; Ozzy’s Preschool Park Games Leader Manual;

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Ozzy’s Preschool Park Preschool KidVid Cinema Leader Manual; Ozzy’s Preschool Park Craft & Play Leader Manual; Weird Animals Sing & Play Music Leader Version two-CD Set; Weird Animals Sing & Play Music DVD; KidVid Stories DVD; Student Resources: Bible Memory Buddies set (5); Bible band (elementary); Ozzy’s Bible book (preschool); Watch for God wristband; name badge; iron-on transfer; Follow-Up Foto Frame; Imagination Station samples. STARTER KIT PRICE: $169.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Updates and resources available at PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “Group gives you the recipe and the resources you need to do VBS. Its so simple yet so profound at the same time. Easy to put together, full of energy, the kids stay connected, and every step is so completely intentionally done” (Lisa Jost, VBS director). NEW FOR 2014: KidVid Cinema; Weird Animals Bible Memory Buddy app.

LIFEWAY KIDS Agency D3: Discover. Decide. Defend. Baptist; Babies-Adults; five sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: “But honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15, HCSB). THEME/CONTENT: Trace it back to just the facts! The evidence is clear. The proof is all right here! Come discover, decide and defend the truth about who Jesus really is at Agency D3. STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Administrative Guide for directors; Decorating Made Easy; Music for Kids CD; Takin’ It Home CD; One Kid’s Evidence Kit: Grades 1–6; special agent carabiner; special agent rearview sunglasses; catalog; Jump Start poster; promotional DVD; Director’s badge (only in Jump Start Kit). STARTER KIT PRICE: $34.95 Jump Start Kit; $99.99 Kids and Preschool Starter Kits 58 MinistryToday November // December 2013

NEW FOR 2014: Jump Start Kit; Kids Starter Kit; Preschool Starter Kit; Takin’ It Home CD.

REGULAR BAPTIST PRESS Arrow Island: Choosing God’s Way Baptist; Age 2-Adult; five sessions.

MY HEALTHY CHURCH MEGA Sports Camp: Game Plan Nondenominational; ages 6-12; five sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you’ ” (Jer. 29:11-12, NIV). THEME/CONTENT: MEGA Sports Camp is a sports outreach that teams Bible truths with sports skills. Kids pick from basketball, soccer, cheerleading, baseball or football. Daily themes are Strategize, Prepare, Launch, Win and Persist. Daily Bible stories are derived from the life of Moses. STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Director Guide; poster pack; Director DVD & CD; Art CD; Rally Guide (large group/worship time); music and media DVD and CD; Coach Huddle Guide (small group time); sports playbooks for cheerleading, basketball and soccer (flag football and baseball optional); Sports Flash (kids’ take-home); Theme Keepers for kids; Welcome to Holsom: Adventures in Faith (salvation/discipleship piece); T-shirt; sports bottle; magnetic photo frame. STARTER KIT PRICE: $129.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: T-shirts; ironons; carabiners; water bottle. PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “In the five years we have done MEGA Sports Camp, we have become completely purposeful in reaching our community. We are able to promote the program in public schools and 95 percent of our enrollment are community kids, not ‘churched.’ ”

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Theme verse: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105, KJV). THEME/CONTENT: Arrow Island is full of tropical habitats just waiting to be explored! Each day, students will start off at their base camp for worship and singing. Throughout the day, they’ll play games at Rolling River Rapids, make crafts in Misty View Gardens and enjoy tropical snacks at Signal Rock. They’ll even get to meet Jimmy, his friends and Feathers—the last of the Booki Booki birds. Most importantly, Shady Cove Trail will lead students to five locations around the island, where they’ll learn about people in the Bible who faced a decision—whether or not to choose God’s way. Arrow Island: Choosing God’s Way shows students the importance of choosing obedience, godly friends, kindness, courage and active faith. This VBS will provide biblical examples that equip students to choose God’s way in every detail of their lives. Memory verses are: John 14:15 (Focus: God wants us to obey Him out of love.); John 15:12; (Focus: God wants us to choose good friends who will help us live for Him.); Eph. 4:32 (Focus: God wants us to be kind and forgiving even when people are not kind to us.); Deut. 31:6 (Focus: God wants us to be true to Him regardless of what other people do.); Col. 3:23 (Focus: God wants us to serve Him with our whole heart.). STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Director’s Guide; Director’s Resource CD Set; Thank-you Card; Teacher Books (2s & 3s—Youth); Student Activity Sheets (2s & 3s—Junior); Youth Handbook; Adult Bible Study (5 Decisions That Changed the World); salvation poster; gospel bookmark; salvation tracts (5); Welcome to the Family, Family Fun sheet; Operation Bangladesh Mission

CHOOSE THE EVANGELISTIC VBS RBP’s Arrow Island helps you look beyond the fun to see the need for a Savior! RBP® is the only VBS publisher recommended by CEF®—the world’s largest evangelistic outreach ministry to children!

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Offering poster; jumbo theme poster; theme poster; invitation flyer; doorknob hanger; postcard; bulletin cover; craft ideas book; monkey photo frame; alligator key chain; music CD; attendance chart; nametag; registration card; Arrow Island pass; backpack; pouch; sticker sheet; theme balloon; theme button; logo sticker; iron-on transfer; sticky notepad; island gummy treats; lizard pencil; frog squirt; inflatable monkey; monkey takehome bags; catalog; promotional DVD. STARTER KIT PRICE: $89.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Evangelism; decorations; promotions; crafts; gifts, awards and more; games; snacks; attendance; puppet resources; teaching resources. Operation Bangladesh: Reaching Children for Christ is the 2014 VBS Mission Offering Project option. PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “CEF is pleased to once again endorse Regular Baptist Press’ VBS curriculum for 2014. We continue to be encouraged by the strong biblical content and gospel presentations of Regular Baptist Press material and encourage you or any of your partnering churches to use their material for your VBSs” (Rev. Moises Esteves, vice president, USA Ministries, Child Evangelism Fellowship). NEW FOR 2014: New games and snacks product categories.

STANDARD PUBLISHING Jungle Safari All denominations; Preschool-Teen with Adult option; five sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: Day 1: Gen. 1; Day 2: 1 Kin. 17; Day 3: Dan. 6; Day 4: John 3, 19, 20; Day 5: John 14, Rev. 1, 4, 21, 22. THEME/CONTENT: Jungle Safari: Where Kids Explore the Nature of God. God is Creator. God is Provider. God is Protector. God is Savior. God is King. 60 MinistryToday November // December 2013

STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Director’s Guide binder; Planning and Music six-disc set, including Planning & Missions DVD with program overview and missions segments, music video DVD with new music from Yancy, music CD, Opening & Closing CD, Exportable Media DVD (MP3s and MP4s) with all files needed to download for presentation software and Decorating & Publicity CD; Age-Level Resources three-disc set, including Preschool CD (PDF of preschool section of Director’s Guide, additional files referenced in the guide, plus audio and print files for teaching preschoolers), Elementary and Preteen CD (PDF of Director’s Guide, additional files referenced in the Director’s Guide, plus digital files for all leaders’ guides and cards), Teen CD (audio, video and print files referenced in Leader’s Guide—Teen); Leaders’ Guides for Sites; one of each agelevel Student Book; Decorating Pack and Guide; Bible Story poster pack; Daily Theme poster pack; Site Names poster pack; Missions poster pack; samples. STARTER KIT PRICE: $199.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Age-level student books; Jungle Bible Pals by Floppets; promotional helps; decorating items; stickers and other themed items. PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “We conducted our VBS in late June this year with the theme of God’s Backyard Bible Camp. We had several neighborhood kids there all week, and would never have expected the story that would follow for one family. Two weeks after VBS, a house fire would claim the lives of five family members in our community. The mother, two teens and two children would lose their lives in that fire. The two children, along with one teen brother, were involved with our VBS each night. Although they never attended on Sundays, we could always count on them being around at VBS. You always wonder what impact you have on the kids and if they learned from the lessons, crafts and songs. As I met with this family to plan their memorial service, an aunt commented on how Emily was singing ‘God’s Big Backyard’ all the way home from a camping trip four days before the accident. It was a seed that God planted in her heart, and now she is experiencing the greatness of God’s backyard in heaven.”

NEW FOR 2014: Friendly adaptations for special needs; Service & Missions Site; Crafts & Music Site; missions curriculum from Beth Guckenberger (Back2Back Ministries); music by Yancy.

URBAN MINISTRIES The Jesus Connection…What a Friend! All; Preschool-Adult; 10 sessions.

MAIN SCRIPTURES: “God ... invited you into this wonderful friendship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9, LB). THEME/CONTENT: The Jesus Connection encourages character-building qualities such as purity, trust, Christian service and loyalty, and teaches students how to live in fellowship with Jesus. Lessons integrate being connected to Jesus through print, digital and social media. STARTER KIT CONTENTS: Cross body bag; student and teacher books for preschool, primary, junior and teens; sample adult lesson; planning DVD; theme song; movie; water bottle; neon shoe laces; glow sticks; puzzle; word search game; sunglasses; theme poster; wristband; catalog; order form and more. STARTER KIT PRICE: $79.99 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Adult curriculum; crafts; music CD; outdoor banner; publicit y items; VBS T-shirts; baseball cap; Bible storybook; Bible verse posters; application posters; nametags; certificates; ABCs of Salvation; class record books; attendance charts. PREVIOUS USERS SAY: “The lessons were great! This was the most spiritual VBS that I have taught. One of the students said she really enjoyed VBS and that I was the best teacher ever!” NEW FOR 2014: New music and videos, activities and apparel; online resources.  

' RAHMANQ~~ ~501tr


Dr. Rahman travels the world speaking a powerful message that captivates audiences of all sizes. He is a direct product of missions, coming to Christ as a Muslim boy in Kolkata under the ministry of Missionary Mark Buntain.

2,500 children currently being discipled to reach India for Christ! REFERENCES: Pastor Tommy Barnett Pastor Luke Barnett info@phoenixfirstorg

Pastor Rick Cole

currently has 26 Dream Centers RESCUE GNI (children's homes) that are rescuing more than 2500 children from a destitute existence and A CHILD each child now has a dream for their future! We see them through one year of Bible college plus a BA in their chosen field for the same sponsorship of $35 per month. Pastors, teachers, nurses, engineers, etc., reaching INDIA with the Gospel!

RESCUE A "HIGH RISK" in~ebrothel~of India are forCibly GIRL brought down from the northern hills of India,

Tragically,some80% of the girls that "work"

some as young as five or six years old. We have a network of people and pastors who identify a girl at high are ever taken. risk and we intervene BEFORE -,.......,..,..,.,,_ ' Our hope is to build Dream Centers for 500+ girts and rescue them from the horrors of sexual slavery. At present, we have nearly 100 girts. In our other 25 homes in So. Bengal and Odisha, we've rescued m than 300 girts who -~~!t~~~~ werefaci the same danger.

Ministry Life: S M A L L


The Small-Group Dots You’re Not Connecting

Are you missing the link between what you’re doing and and the results you’re getting?

“I can’t find enough leaders” is most often connected to the method you’re using to identify and recruit them. Leader scarcity is almost always related to inadequate leader identification tactics. Solution: Begin building in easier ways for potential new leaders to dip their toes in the water. Recruiting leaders first as hosts combined with a church-wide campaign is a great way to offer a six-week test drive that often results in long-term commitments. “Coaching doesn’t work here” is connected to the way you’ve designed the coach’s role and to whom you assign coaches. The primary reason coaching doesn’t work is that the coach’s job description produces accountants who count things instead of developers who shape people. Solution: Redesign the coach’s role to focus on development. Keep in mind that whatever you want to happen in the lives of group members has to be experienced first by the leaders of your groups. “People are too busy to commit to a small group” is connected to two important dots: (1) the way you’ve designed the menu of opportunities and (2) the way you describe group life. The advantage of a limited menu selection is that it’s easier to provide next steps that are easy, obvious and strategic. The way group life is described is everything. When it’s described as anything less than an essential ingredient for life change, it’s 62 MinistryToday November // December 2013

perceived as non-essential and optional. Solution: Intentionally shorten the menu and perfect the way you talk about group life (verbally, in print and on the Web). The sooner you get to the place where next steps are designed to be easy, obvious and strategic, the sooner you’ll begin to see greater commitment. “Small groups don’t make disciples” is directly connected to the way you’ve defined a disciple and the way you’ve designed the small groups in your church. If your small-group ministry isn’t making disciples, the reason is embedded in the way your ministry is designed. Solution: Give adequate thought to what you’re trying to produce. Carefully describe a new preferred future. Redesign your system to eliminate any steps that don’t lead to the future you’ve envisioned. “It’s not the right time” is connected to a lack of understanding that there is always a window closing for the unconnected people in your congregation, crowd and community. “It’s not the right time” actually means: hh We need to do a capital campaign this fall, so we’ll delay our church-wide campaign until the spring. hh We need to lay the foundation for a healthy small-group ministry before we add new groups. hh We need to train new leaders before we even think about starting new groups. hh We need to build a healthy coaching structure before we add new leaders. I often say, “Unconnected people are always one tough thing away from not being at your church.” Loss of a job. Divorce or separation. A devastating diagnosis. A child in trouble.  Unconnected people are always close to the one thing that will decide their spiritual destiny. When we delay connecting opportunities, we must always have this reality in mind. Solution: Make a commitment to the unconnected people in your congregation, crowd and community. Take your Easter adult attendance (an estimate is fine) and subtract the adults who are truly connected. What remains are the unconnected people in your crowd. Write that number where you can see it every day. Figure out the approximate number of un-churched people in your community. Write that number where you can see it every day. Then take action to bring those numbers down.  M a r k H o w e l l is the founder of and is LifeWay Christian Resources’ small-group specialist. A veteran leader with more than 25 years in ministry, Howell serves as pastor of communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas.

© istockphoto/tumpikuja


love what Andy Stanley says: “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you’re currently experiencing.” If you don’t like the results you’re currently experiencing with your small groups, it’s time to start connecting some dots. Here are five group-life dots you may not be connecting:


AS YOU WISH New author Mercy Lokulutu brings a dynamic message, uncovering the secret to unleashing the full power and strength of God in your life and relying on Him to accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

I WILL BE FOUND BY YOU Fancis Fangipane provides the solution for gaining a more meaningful life and a closer connection to God. This book is a key to unlocking a heart after God.

STATIC JEDI Life is a dangerous place when you can’t hear God. First-time author, Eric Timm will teach you to master the noise and distractions that keep us from Him by following the examples of Jesus.

CHRISTIANITY TO GO As a follow-up to Christianity Lite, Glen Berteau takes you deeper into the true message of the gospel by motivating us to BE the good news and become more like Jesus.


Create a Culture of Serving

Tips for recognizing, appreciating and recruiting volunteers


10 volunteers they’d like to see highlighted and recognized and why. hh We asked a volunteer photographer in our church to go around on Sunday morning and take pictures of all the people on the list I compiled. hh We looked through the pictures and list and considered how these volunteers serve and then laid out our future VOWs. (Note: We try to rotate between male and female volunteers, as well as among different ministries such as Kid City, students, worship, tech, First Impressions, cafe and so on). In addition to featuring volunteers, here are a few other ideas for making sure volunteers are recognized and appreciated: hh Send a personal thank-you note from the pastor. hh Set aside preferred parking Volunteer of the Week for the VOW. “This week ’s VOW is Darin h h Film a video hig hlig hting Cooley. Darin serves in a number a volunteer. of ways at Forest Park Carthage, G r e g A t k i n s o n has been in ministry for two hh Assign a strong volunteer to including working on our First decades and has been writing, speaking and training represent the church for a commuImpressions a nd Pa rk ing L ot thousands of church leaders since 2000. He now serves nity event. Teams, preparing communion, as the campus pastor at Forest Park Carthage, a multihh Develop Volunteer Sunday and unlocking the church doors each site church in Southwest Missouri. use it to acknowledge all volunteers. Sunday morning, collecting the h h Post a thank-you note in a volunteer’s work area before offering after the second service and leading a LifeGroup. he arrives for his shift. Darin is a true servant, and we are blessed and encouraged hh Create a photo wall in a hallway recognizing volunteer by his cheerful spirit and servant’s heart. If you’d like to serve years of service. on our First Impressions Team, please contact Pastor Matt.” hh Plan an annual volunteer appreciation dinner. hh Take advantage of National Volunteer Appreciation There you go—short, sweet and to the point! We always end Week (usually the second or third week in April).  each write-up with a call to action (e.g., “If you’re interested in Try these easy ideas in your church as soon as next week. our First Impressions Team, please contact Pastor Matt.”) We’re seeing positive takeaways as people feel appreciWhy did we start this feature at our church? We saw no ated and more people start to ask, “How can I serve in negatives and all positives. It highlights great servants in our my church?”  church and allows us to brag on them. It gives them a shot in the arm and fires them up to keep serving. And it reinforces our culture of serving. MinistryResource After people in our church see these types of notices mulChurch Leadership Essentials by Greg Atkinson provides a tiple times, I’m confident the idea will be part of what God toolbox full of leadership tools for pastors and other church uses to bring new volunteers to our teams. Here’s how we leaders. Atkinson packs 34 key leadership principles into made it happen: concise but powerful chapters. hh I asked all our staff and team leaders to send me a list of

ne of the ways I use social media is to keep an eye on other pastors and churches and see what they’re up to. Through the years, I’ve noticed that several churches highlight a Volunteer of the Week (VOW). I first saw Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., do this. After keeping my eye on this initiative for quite some time, I was inspired to start it at my own church. I believe in this idea so much that I actually own it at my church. Eventually, I’ll pass it on to another leader, but for now I’m putting all my effort and energy into getting it started. We’ve been doing this for about a month now. Here’s a sample of what we post in my weekly blog and email to the church (and also include in our handout):

64 MinistryToday November // December 2013

Exc i te. En e rg i ze. In s p i re. Revo l u t i o n i ze Yo u r Wo rs h i p.

Judy Jacobs

Jason Crabb

HERE ARE SOME OF THE TOPICS THAT WILL BE COVERED: • Expression, Energy And Projection • Leading Worship vs. Performing • How To Minister, Not Just Sing

• Vision & Tools To Get To The Next Dimension • How To Engage The Congregation • Personal Growth

* These are just some of the topics we will be discussing.

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Ministry Leadership: M A R R I A G E BY DEBBIE JONES

Critical Care

Ideas for encouraging and supporting your spouse at home and in ministry

In the weeks that followed, both Tom and I agreed to earnestly pray about the possibility. After much prayer and counsel, we sold our home, packed our bags and took off for Centerville, Ohio, to plant a church. That was 36 years ago, and we have had the journey of a lifetime. I’ve watched God use my gifts and passions to shape and mold me into the person I am today. God put a deep love for spouses in me, and I started a ministry called bloom! that offers support and encouragement to lead-planters’ spouses. The heart of a church is directly affected by the heart of the leader’s spouse! Recognizing the potential impact of your spouse, how can you as the leader of your church and family encourage and support them? 1) Acknowledge that God called both of you to a particular ministry. It won’t work if the spouse isn’t behind the ministry 100 percent. Take the time to allow your spouse to go through the process to hear what God is asking of your family. Our family believes God calls the family! 2) Help your spouse find their passion. The church has certainly changed since the days when all spouses were expected to play the piano, but there is still unspoken pressure on a spouse today. How many times is the spouse expected to be an extrovert, have perfect kids, a perfect house, a perfect marriage, or 66 MinistryToday November // December 2013

lead a ministry they no training for or desire to do? I believe God calls the spouse to a church to serve, but helping them find their passion and ministry is critical. Begin by asking yourself, “Where is my spouse gifted, passionate and equipped to lead?” Pray with your spouse about where God might be calling them to serve. Helping your spouse find their role is critical! 3) Elevate your spouse. The greatest gift you can give your family and church is a strong marriage. No one should doubt how you feel about your spouse. Although we had times when there were crazy schedules and tons of work hours, I never felt Tom was “missing in action” when it came to our family. We would schedule times to get away (two weeks) so that we could be fully engaged with each other and our kids. Another aspect of elevating your spouse is to understand what they might be dealing with. Reading a book such as Anne Milam’s Bloom Where You Are Planted gives you a glimpse of some of the emotions your spouse and family may be experiencing. Attending a conference session together or having your spouse help with a Sunday morning message is a great way to say, “I value and acknowledge what my spouse brings to this church.” I have always appreciated Tom’s desire for me to be a partner in our journey and his making a point of publicly and privately acknowledging his support. Below are a few comments from other spouses on how they have been supported that may give you ideas for ways to affirm and encourage yours: Meg Nuno (Los Angeles): “My husband released me to finish my schooling in the midst of church planting. His belief in me that I could handle both church planting and getting my bachelor’s degree gave me the emotional strength I needed. He also gave me a mini-”platform” ministry putting me in charge of doing announcements, which helped me to stay involved and give people an opportunity to know who I was—without being in a super-consuming ministry mold.” Sarah Burnett (Baltimore): “He is always pointing people in our church to me for my leadership advice, even though I have no official title and am technically a stay-at-home mom. But because he values me and my opinion, others do too. It keeps me involved and engaged.”  D e b b i e J o n e s has served with the Stadia team, a church-planting organization, for six years and is the director of spouse and family support. With 30 years of ministry experience, she has conducted numerous workshops and seminars throughout the United States. She founded a ministry for Stadia called bloom! to provide care and support to the spouses of church planters.

© itockphoto/aldomurillo


can still remember the day my husband, Tom, returned from a church-planting conference and said those 10 words that changed our family forever: “I think God is calling us to plant a church.”

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Ministry Leadership: D E V E LO P M E N T BY R AY CHANG

Life-on-Life Leadership

4 things to remember when investing in young leaders


rowing up as a Korean immigrant in the Korean at him and ask, “OK, how can we help this player succeed?” church, I always struggled with my sense of iden2) Nobody is where he should be or where he will be. We are all tity. I came to the United States when I was 6. Back in development. And part of our job as leaders is to help in the ’70s, the Asian-American community was relatively younger leaders get moving toward where God wants to small. One of the challenges of take them. So one of the things I growing up in an ethnic environsay to young leaders is, “Look, my ment was understanding and seejob as a pastor is to help you get ing the ways Christ transcends where God wants you to be. I am culture. Often my culture was the transitional person. I want to what defined me: I was a Korean lead you and encourage you along or an Asian. that path.” In one sense, that’s One of my biggest challenges what discipleship is. wa s that I wa nted to lea rn. I 3) A s u p p or t s y s t e m i s n onwanted to become a better pasnegotiable. One of the things I’ve tor, a better leader. But because found with young leaders is that of my cultural context, there were more than finance tools or a mona number of limitations, includetary investment in their church, ing a lack of mentoring or discit he y need a nd wa nt people pling. So I left the Korean church i n v e s t m e nt , l i fe - i n v e s t m e nt . and joined an evangelical church, Young leaders have told me they where I served as an intern. wou ld rat her have somebody There my eyes were opened. I invest in their lives for the long saw ministry of the same gospel hau l t ha n receive a paycheck being applied in different ways, R a y C h a n g is the founding president of Orange or donation. and it extended my opportunity County, Calif.-based Ambassador Network, an 4) It’s about life-investment. My to live out my faith. organization that is working to launch a movement relationship with the leaders we A few years and church posi- of multiplying, multiethnic and missional churches, train is an ongoing, coaching, lifetions later, I knew I wanted to both locally and globally. Chang also planted and leads long relationship. It’s about the help young men like myself. I real- Ambassador Church in Brea, California. person, the individual. It’s about ized that there are many potential the disciple. We need the models leaders who are not being ministered to or developed for and the learning—that’s all good—but the information leadership because they have no point of relationship or is not what’s going to make leaders succeed. It comes connection. down to how we invest in them. Leadership development It’s difficult for a young, second-generation Korean- is about life. It’s a long-term commitment, a marathon American or Hispanic to go into some of the mainstream instead of a sprint. ministries. So we started a training ground for five semiWhat I never had as a young leader in the Korean church nary students at the church where I served as outreach pas- was a life coach who would stick with me all the way tor. Now I work with young leaders all the time, coaching through. So I live life with the philosophy that I want to do and investing in them. Here are a few things I’ve learned for someone else what was never done for me. If we’re going about leadership development: to impact the nation, we have to impact young leaders.  1) Leadership development starts with a person, not a program. The No. 1 principle of any leadership development is MinistryResource assessment. You have to understand a person’s calling, In Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret, leadership mentor and pastor his background, who he is. And that’s the uniqueness of Larry Osborne addresses how to create a culture of innovation and the person. stability in any organization. Also included are the questions every It’s like evaluating a football player. You can draft him as leader should ask before launching a new endeavor. a quarterback and make him fit the system, or you can look

68 MinistryToday November // December 2013


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Ministry Leadership: S M A L L


How to Delegate When There’s No One Around 6 keys to sharing the ministry load in a small setting

myself—and see myself as a martyr while I did it. Slowly, I started to listen to Ron’s advice. Here are six lessons I learned the hard way about what to do when you want to delegate but there doesn’t seem to be anyone to delegate to: 1) Leave guilt at the door. Too many small-church pastors operate out of guilt. Because their guilt motivates them to work hard, they assume it will cause others to do the same. But guilt never works. I know. I’ve tried. Guilt doesn’t motivate; it paralyzes. It doesn’t encourage; it discourages. Motivation by guilt leads to burned-out pastors and unhealthy churches.  2) Adapt your methods to suit your size. Too many small churches with 50 people are operating as if they had 500. This causes a great deal of extra and unnecessary work. It’s not healthy to operate a small church under a template more suited to a larger church. When we adapt our methods to suit our size, a lot of “essentials” aren’t so essential. For example, when 20 people show up for a meeting, I don’t speak through a microphone, have a band lead in worship or offer age-appropriate child care. I set up a play station in the back corner of the room for the kids, and I ask two adults to rotate caring for them. Then I ask everyone to grab a chair and form a circle. I talk for a bit and then segue into a conversation about the subject. When we adapt our methods to suit our size, we may find that a church of 50 doesn’t need: a worship team or choir; a Sunday school; a nursery; an audio system; a building; a full-time pastor (Ouch! Sorry.). And if we don’t need all that, we won’t need the people or the money it takes to run all that. Acting like a big church is one of the worst strategies a small church can have.  3) Stop doing ministries that have no one to lead them. If there’s no one willing to lead a ministry, it’s probably not as vital as everyone thinks it is. We gutted the church’s ministries down to the bare essentials. Then we didn’t start anything up again until we satisfied the requirement of having two people to run it (see point 4). 4) Don’t start or restart a ministry without at least two people on the leadership team. “But we need it” is not a good enough

reason to start a new ministry. It might be a good reason to meet an immediate need, but a sustained ministry takes more. And no, one of the two team members can’t be the pastor. 5) Assess and hone your delegation skills. According to the apostle Paul, delegation is one of a pastor’s primary responsibilities (Eph. 4:11-12). There’s no excuse. Small-church pastors need to learn how to delegate better. 6) Delegate, pastor, delegate. We have to face the reality that a lack of volunteers is not always the congregation’s fault. No matter how small our church is, how burdened we are or how impossible the task of training volunteers to do the work of ministry seems, delegating is not an option.   K a r l V a t e r s is the author of the new book, The Grasshopper Myth: Big Churches, Small Churches and the Small Thinking That Divides Us. He’s been the lead pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, Calif., for more than 20 years and blogs at 70 MinistryToday November // December 2013

© istockphoto/GlobalStock


elegate, pastor, delegate.” I’ve heard that wise advice hundreds of times–literally. Ron Cook was the chair of the pulpit committee that brought me to the church I’ve pastored for 20-plus years now. In the first few years here, whenever he’d catch me doing something myself instead of training someone else to do it (which was frequently), he’d walk by me, usually while lending a helping hand himself, and drop that little gem into my ear. In my book The Grasshopper Myth, I comment about those first few years at my current church when I was a hurting pastor at a hurting church. The combination of those hurting entities led to two realities: hh There were very few people left at the church to do any work. hh My primary ministry motivation was guilt. When those factors combined, it led me to do too much of the ministry work

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Ministry Outreach: C H U R C H


For the Good of the City

6 principles for city transformation through church planting


s executive catalyst for the church planting network understand how important it is to spend time in and even live Mission Orange County, Chris Lagerlof works with in a place where someday they’ll plant a church. Build relachurches in 34 cities in Orange County, Calif., to col- tional equity and present the gospel before you actually plant. laborate for the good of their cities and to plant churches A church planter I know named Norb Kohler is a great that have a city focus. Here, Lagerexample of a minister who planted lof reflects on more than 30 years the gospel before planting a church. of ministry experience to offer six He took spiritual responsibility and practical principles any church ownership for an entertainment leader can learn from as he focuses center called The District in Tuson making disciples in his context: tin, Calif., (movie theater, bowling, 1) Don’t mistake participation for shops, restaurants). He spent a year transformation. In Orange County, we getting to know every single store get so excited about events and peoowner, every manager and every ple showing up that we sometimes employee. He ate lunch there every mistake big attendance for actual day, and they planted Convergence transformation. In church planting, Church in the theater. The church is a number of the models that have made up mostly of people who work been embraced for the last 25 years at and spend time at The District. are event-driven. They’re about the 5) There’s a huge difference between big events: the preview services and knowing your demographics and knowing the launch. Church planters and your geography. Demographics tell their launch teams often become you who lives in your city, but they event planners rather than what they don’t tell you how the city works and need to be: agents of change. C h r i s L a g e r l o f is a strategic thinker, project what is unique about it. Geography 2) Develop a discipleship strategy specialist and experienced leader with a passion to help is more revealing. Draw a circle before a planting strategy. Often min- leaders and churches move forward by maximizing around the area where you’re plantisters will start a church and experi- their focus, clarity and performance. Lagerlof worked ing a church and ask, What’s in this ence some success, but they don’t for 17 years as a pastor and champion of several minis- circle? Are there schools, a jail or know what to do next. There’s not a tries at Mariners Church in Irvine, Calif. Connect with prison, a police station, businesses? discipleship strategy in their DNA. him at How do we develop relationships They’ve got lots of people coming, and serve them? Or is there a place but they’re creating simply attendees, not necessarily disciples. in that circle that’s just hard spiritually? How do we make 3) Be quick; don’t hurry. Renowned UCLA basketball coach an initial impact? Is our church ready missionally to make John Wooden always told his players: “When we hurry, we an impact? make the biggest mistakes, we cut corners, we compromise, 6) If your primary focus is the church, your impact will be limited. and we end up in a different place than where we wanted to When you look through a kingdom lens rather than through be.” I think the reason a lot of church planters hurry is because the lens of a church, there’s a huge difference in how you envithey want to have regular attendance so they can pass an offer- sion planting the gospel in your community and city. A church ing basket and have revenue coming in each week. When you lens tends to focus on just the gospel of salvation as opposed move too fast, you make a series of decisions that kill what your to the gospel of the kingdom, which is much bigger. A church mission and vision are about. lens focuses on producing people who attend church but don’t 4) Plant the gospel before planting a church. If you plant a worship necessarily become disciples. service, people familiar with the church will show up. But if When the church is about four walls and a meeting place, we you plant the gospel, the community and the city will show up, make disciples for the church instead of making disciples for and you’ll plant a church with people who are unchurched and the world. Disciples for the church tend to show up for church. don’t know Jesus. So one of the things we try to do—and this is Disciples for the city tend to be focused on transforming the part of the “be quick, don’t hurry” approach—is to help planters city and the world.  76 MinistryToday November // December 2013

Ministry Outreach: M o r m o n

Outre ach B y L y n n K . W ilde r

Engaging the Mormon Mission Field

A former Mormon suggests how to lead your church to present truth for troubled souls

Raised nominally Christian, my husband and I joined the Mormon Church in our mid-20s. According to the Pew Forum, more than 85 percent of converts to Mormonism come from biblical Christianity. Mormonism’s close-knit family culture pulled me right in. I did not know God’s Word. If I had, I might have recognized that the Mormon Church espouses several unbiblical doctrines: a different godhead with three separate gods who worked their way to godhood like members do; a Christ whose atonement does not cover all sins; and a different way to salvation. None of these doctrines is based on the truth of the Word. Mormon Mission Field

The Mormon mission field is all around us, full of those who’ve never heard the gospel of the God of the Bible. Yet Christians seem conflicted about whether they need to tell Mormons the Good News. Despite our hesitancy, God is working among the Mormon people. In our ministry, we hear almost daily from those who are questioning the Mormon faith and trusting the Jesus of the Bible. Like God among the Muslims, the wind of the Holy Spirit is weaving in and out of lives, 78 MinistryToday November // December 2013

drawing thousands of Mormons to biblical truth. Here are six ways Christian leaders can start to impart truth: 1) Teach about false christs. First, pray for the Mormon people. Pray that God will break the spirit of blindness and open their eyes. Then research, learn about and teach people the nuances of false christs. 2) Help believers dig into the Word to discern what is true from what is untrue. False teachings have interesting similarities. Typically, they: don’t trust the Bible; add to Scripture; minimize sin; deify and exalt man; humanize God by making Him a man or denying the Trinity; teach that salvation is found through the organization alone. 3) Equip your church to evangelize. Help church members fulfill their role as evangelists to Mormons. As Paul became all things to all people so that they might be saved, some must be equipped to reach Mormons with the Good News. Our own son was converted to the God of the Bible by a Baptist pastor, a Bible and the Holy Spirit while on his Mormon mission. No one is outside the reach of God’s grace. 4) Invite the missionaries or Mormon neighbors to talk about faith in Jesus. Be friendly and gentle. The Book of Mormon teaches contention is of the devil, so contending will get you nowhere. Talk. Question. Love. 5) Define your terms and ask them to define their terms. Mormons use the same religious words as biblical Christians, but they have different meanings— words like salvation, grace, atonement, apostate, exaltation, godhood, apostles and angels. Did you know that in Mormonism a dead person can return as an angel? Ask them to explain what they mean by a term. Persist and then respectfully point out the biblical differences. 6) Focus on the reliability of the Bible. Mormonism teaches that the Bible is unreliable, so trusting God’s Word is one hurdle Mormons must conquer. Bible study, regular prayer and worship time, fellowship, and showing them the biblical God in the Word are essentials. We worship a God that has the supremacy to preserve the words of truth. These days, truth is at a premium. Having come from Mormonism, truth is everything to me. Jesus before Pilate said He came to testify to truth. So He did—and so must we.  L y n n K . W i l d e r is a former professor at Brigham Young University and faithful Mormon for more than 30 years. Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church chronicles her amazing journey of faith. She and her husband, Michael, created the nonprofit Ex-Mormon Christians United for Jesus ( to protect Christians from false christs and to bring Mormons to know the joy of the biblical Jesus.

© istockphoto/tnotn


s a tenured professor at Brigham Young University, I was a faithful member of the Mormon Church, stuck in the endless cycle of trying to please Christ with my works. According to Book of Mormon doctrine, if I did enough, then His grace might kick in to save me. When I was re-baptized into the biblical Jesus, I literally felt the chains of false religion fall.

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The Social Media Vortex

Proven tips for limiting technology distractions and working smarter

80 MinistryToday November // December 2013

Michelle Kim Photography


ver look at the clock and realize you’ve spent the last two says. “Distractions not only lower our productivity; they also hours surfing the Internet, reading Twitter posts or com- increase our stress. You probably already know what distracts menting on Facebook? In this social media-obsessed you the most—phone calls, emails, instant messages, Interage, typical water-cooler banter and pointless meetings are no net browsing, interrupting co-workers and so on. Strategies longer the greatest time wasters at like scheduling email checks, turnwork. A recent uSamp study found ing off your phone, and leaving the that nearly 60 percent of workplace office for a quieter environment may distractions involve social networks, eliminate distractions so that you text messaging, instant messaging get more done.” (IMs) or email. In fact, navigating In an article he wrote on avoiding between multiple tabs and windows social media distractions, PC World to keep an eye on a variety of applicontributor David Daw suggests cations is a huge distraction in itself. turning off the push notifications on In the end, nea rly ha lf the your smartphone for social media employees surveyed in the study updates from sites such as Facebook said they worked only 15 minutes and Twitter. “Setting up a way to or less without getting interrupted tune out mobile e-mail notifications or distracted. More than half said is well worthwhile,” he writes. they wasted at least one hour every To keep from getting sucked into day due to distraction. We live in a a vortex of endless surfing the web, disruptive, tech-obsessed world. San Francisco-based writer and pubThat’s the data. But data rarely lisher Genevieve DeGuzman offers motivates or inspires us to make the three tips: types of behavior modifications and D J C h u a n g hosts the Social Media Church podcast, Close news and social media sites. lifestyle changes we need to elimi- a place for conversations with church leaders about Another helpful tip is to create an nate the distraction of social media. social media. He’s the editor of two books, Asian aggregated feed of all your favorWe have to choose to be in control American Youth Ministry  and Conversations: Asian ite news sites. This helps you avoid of how much time we spend—and American Evangelical Theologies in Formation. He has wasting time “wandering” the net how we spend it—on social media. been blogging at his personal website ( for headlines and updates. I know people who have punted since 1999, curating many links to resources pertaining Close your Internet browser when and just said “no” to using social to churches, technology, and multiethnic or Asian- you’re working. The precious seconds media. While that is a solution, it’s American ministry. it takes to load the browser when not a very relevant one for those of you feel tempted to go online may us who do want to be effective in connecting with people near be just the moment you need to become conscious of the time and far. you’re wasting. If you must be logged in on a continual basis, A better one is making a conscious choice about how you try restricting yourself to three or four browser tabs for workuse your time moment by moment. Here are my top actions for related sites. Close everything else. avoiding social media and personal technology distractions: Try online quarantine.  For extreme measures, install  Freehh Turn off alerts and notifications dom, Anti-Social, or RescueTime, which put a temporary barhh Check e-mail only three times a day rier on your access to certain websites on the net. Add all your hh Use a second monitor (to decrease window-switching time) social media sites to the blacklist. hh Schedule regular blocks of time to turn off my More than at any other time in history, technology—specifismartphone. cally social media—affords us the opportunity to connect faster In a video titled Slow Tech, Google Ventures General Part- and in unprecedented ways. We can meet and talk to people ner Joe Kraus made these comments about our constant cul- we otherwise would never have met. But with that opportunity ture of distraction and the crisis of being disconnected and comes the responsibility to steward these resources in produclosing ourselves: “We all face distractions on a daily basis,” he tive and healthy ways. 

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STATEMENT OF OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND CIRCULATION (Required by 39 U.S.C. 3685) Statement required by the act of August 12, 1970, section 3685, Title 39, United States Code, showing ownership, management and circulation of Ministry Today, publication number 08915725. Published bi-monthly (6 times per year) at 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. Annual subscription price: $24.97. The names and addresses of the publisher and editor are: Publisher, Stephen Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746-4868; Editor, Stephen Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746-4868. The owner is Plus Communications, Inc./DBA CHARISMA MEDIA, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. Stockholders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of stock are Stephen Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746 and Joy Strang, 600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 32746. The known bondholders, mortgagees and other security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages or other securities are: none. Total Number of Copies printed: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 24,896; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 22,440; Paid and/or Requested Circulation: 1) Paid/Requested Outside-County Mail Subscriptions Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 16,339; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 18,024. 2) Paid In-County Subscriptions: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 3) Sales through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales and other Non-USPS Paid Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 4,880; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 801. 4) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 21,219; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 18,825. Free Distribution by Mail: 1) Outside-County as Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 682; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 633. 2) In-County as Stated on Form 3541: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 3) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 0; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 0. 4) Free Distribution Outside the Mail: Evangel Christian1x3_Ad#1.indd 2 average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 750; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 500. Total Free Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 1,432; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 1,133. Total Distribution: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 22,651; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 19,958. Copies not Distributed: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 2,245 number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 2,482. Total: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months, 24,896; number copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 22,440. * I certify that the statements made by me above are correct and complete.

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*Percent Paid and/or Requested Circulation: average number copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 93.7%; number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date: 94.3%. Stephen Strang, owner Joy Strang, owner

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Ordinary Leaders, Extraordinary Dreams Essential truths as you seek the plans God has for your ministry


ave you ever stopped to think that our ability to dream is a God-given gift? God has given us the power to be creative, to dream, to visualize, to plan. It is a powerful force that can be used for either good or evil. Napoleon said, “Imagination rules the world.” Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Every great achievement in ministry or any other area of life happened because somebody dared to dream. I firmly believe that nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming. In church leadership you often start off with big dreams, but as you get into the hard work of ministering, your dreams shrink to the size of the situation. Tragically, circumstances tend to shrink our dreams. So periodically, we need to be stretched. We need to learn how to dream bigger. The history of Saddleback Church is a testimony to the power of a God-given dream. Our vision was crafted from the very first message I preached at Saddleback on March 30, 1980. We had 60 people in a trial-run service, at which I described our church vision as being a dream that included: hh sharing the gospel with hundreds of thousands of residents in South Orange County hh 20,000 members growing together in spiritual maturity through Bible studies, seminars, retreats and fellowships hh sending out hundreds of career missionaries and church workers all around the world hh sending out our members by the thousands on shortterm projects to every continent hh starting at least one new daughter church a year hh 50 acres of land on which we’d build a regional church for our community with beautiful yet efficient facilities When I shared that with approximately 60 people whom I’d never seen before in my life at the very first service, some of them said, “Fat chance! How in the world will 60 people grow to be a church of that size? How are we ever going to get land in the Saddleback Valley at the price that it cost?” and so on. Amazingly, we surpassed that initial God-sized dream a long time ago, and we’re still growing. Great things can emerge from small, humble beginnings

when God is in the middle of them. But you’ve got to start with a dream. If you’re going to lead a church, you must be a dreamer. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” Faith begins with stretching your imagination. It begins with visualizing the invisible. We cannot accomplish the impossible until we first see the invisible. Faith begins with catching a dream, a vision. It is “perceiving as real what is not revealed to the senses” (Heb. 11:1, AMP). William Carey was the first modern missionary. When no one else was going around the world, Carey felt called to leave his home in England and go to Burma. Everybody who knew him told him he was crazy. But Carey boarded a boat and left for Southeast Asia, and the rest is history. His words have guided me through life: “Attempt great things for God. Expect great things from God.” Everybody needs a dream for life, and every pastor needs a dream for the flock. It is a psychological necessity. If you’re not dreaming, if you don’t have a goal for life, if you don’t have a dream, if you don’t have a vision, you’re dying. We develop our dreams, and then our dreams develop us. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a great person or a great pastor. I believe there are only ordinary people and ordinary leaders committed to extraordinary dreams. When an ordinary person is committed to a great, God-inspired dream, it makes that person a great person. If you want to be healthy, you’ve got to have a dream to live for, and God expects you to use your imagination. Don’t simply borrow the dream of another leader, but don’t fail to let others inspire you as you seek the dream God has for your ministry. Church leader, keep dreaming. Decide today that once you start, you’re going “all in” and you’re committing the very life you live to seeing the dream become reality! 

“If you’re going to lead a church, you must be a dreamer.”

82 MinistryToday November // December 2013

R i c k W a rr e n founded Saddleback Church, one of America’s most influential congregations, and the PEACE Plan, which networks more than 400,000 churches globally to solve the world’s biggest problems. He is the author of several books, including his most recent title, What on Earth Am I Here For.

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Ministry Today November/December 2013  

Serving rising leaders within the church by empowering them with effective tools for Spirit-led ministry. Guest Editor: Matthew Barnett, pas...

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