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SECOND SHIFT Thriving in bivocational ministry


LEA D by DESIGN For you. For your ministry team. Authors Eric Geiger (author of bestselling Simple Church and Creature of the Word) and Kevin Peck argue that churches that consistently produce leaders have a strong conviction to develop leaders, a healthy culture for leadership development, and helpful constructs to systematically and intentionally build leaders. All three are essential for leaders to be formed through the ministry of a local church.

Visit DesignedtoLead.com to receive free leadership resources RELEASING SEPTEMBER 1

Contents 28 22

Read more about bivocational pastor and painter Jim Black on page 14.

COVER SECTION 14 Second Shift Growing numbers of pastors are thriving in bivocational ministry. By Bob Smietana

20 8 tips for bivocational pastors Seasoned ministers share advice for balancing dual roles. By Bob Smietana

22 Planning your preaching A practical guide to sermon prep for the bivocational pastor. By Philip Nation

24 Sermon prep: A week in my life Step-by-step calendar helps keep ministry on track. By Philip Nation

FEATURES 28 Holy cause and effect The conviction for leadership development in your church. By Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck

34 Less flash. More truth. The real story on millennials and the church. By Aaron Earls

38 38 Unstoppable 3 lessons we must learn from the early church. By Sam O’Neal

40 B uilding families in today’s culture How to help parents teach their children to thrive. By Ann Iorg

44 Soul care We are created to share one another’s burdens. By Ed Welch

IN EVERY ISSUE 4 Inside F&T Worth more than gold. By Carol Pipes

5 From My Perspective Six benefits of bivocational ministry. By Thom S. Rainer



43 Technology 7 technological advances churches should watch for in the future. By Jonathan Howe

46 Calibrate 5 things your church can do to care for orphans. By Tony Merida

48 On Our Radar Relevant and practical resources for you and your church.

JOIN US ONLINE FactsAndTrends.net Can’t wait until the next issue? Make sure to visit FactsAndTrends.net for exclusive online content. Read additional pieces from our writers and editors, as well as contributions from other Christian leaders.

7 Insights Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting the church and our world.

32 Groups Matter 5 signs your small-group strategy is missing the mark. By Ken Braddy


FactsAndTrends @FactsAndTrends

Facts & Trends • 3


Worth more than gold


s we raced to get this issue of Facts & Trends off to the printer in late August, the rest of the world seemed tuned in to the Summer Olympic Games in Rio. I certainly watched my fair share of the incredible speed, dexterity, and feats of strength displayed by the world’s top athletes. One of my favorite competitions is the decathlon. I was on the edge of my seat as U.S. athlete Ashton Eaton crossed the finish line of the 1,500 meters, the last of the 10-event competition, winning the Olympic decathlon for a second time. He certainly deserves the title “World’s Greatest Athlete.” The competition in the decathlon is fierce. These athletes must possess speed, strength, endurance, skill, and laser-like focus to excel at multiple disciplines. As I watched the competition, I was reminded of the bivocational pastors featured in this issue and thousands like them who serve their churches while working a second job. Juggling two professions is tough. Yet, bivocational pastors find a way to balance it all. They possess many of the same characteristics of a decathlete—endurance, skill, and the ability to focus on multiple disciplines and deftly shift from one to another. Bivocational pastors’ lives are lived in slices of time, often compartmentalized and only sometimes overlapping. They face a never-ending balancing act between pastoral duties, work, and family. While there are unique challenges for bivocational church leaders, there are benefits as well. One thing we heard repeatedly from bivocational ministers was how they’ve found unexpected blessings for themselves and their churches. In this issue, you’ll hear from bivocational pastors about how they’ve learned to thrive in ministry. In his column, Thom S. Rainer explores the unique benefits of being bivocational. And Philip Nation offers a practical guide to sermon preparation for the busy pastor. We pray this issue celebrates the work of bivocational church leaders—for their gospel ministry is worth more than a gold medal and lasts for eternity. Carol Pipes, Editor @CarolPipes | Carol.Pipes@LifeWay.com

4 • Facts & Trends ISTOCKPHOTO

Facts&Trends Volume 62 • Number 5 • Fall 2016

Facts & Trends is designed to help pastors, church staff, and denominational leaders navigate the issues and trends impacting the church by providing information, insights, and resources for effective ministry. Production Team Editor | Carol Pipes Managing Editor | Lisa Cannon Green Senior Writer | Bob Smietana Online Editor | Aaron Earls Graphic Designer | Katie Shull

LifeWay Leadership President and Publisher | Thom S. Rainer Senior Editor | Marty King

Contributors Gary Bistram, Ken Braddy, Eric Geiger, Jonathan Howe, Ann Iorg, Tony Merida, Philip Nation, Sam O’Neal, Kevin Peck, and Ed Welch

Advertising Send advertising questions/comments to: Facts & Trends Advertising One LifeWay Plaza, MSN 192 Nashville, TN 37234 Email: Carol.Pipes@LifeWay.com Media kits: FactsAndTrends.net/Advertise This magazine includes paid advertisements for some products and services not affiliated with LifeWay. The inclusion of the paid advertisements does not constitute an endorsement by LifeWay Christian Resources of the products or services.

Subscriptions For a free print subscription to Facts & Trends, send your name, address, and phone number to FactsAndTrends@LifeWay.com.

Permissions Facts & Trends grants permission for any original article (not a reprint) to be photocopied for use in a local church or classroom, provided copies are distributed free and indicate Facts & Trends as the source. Contact Us: Email - FactsAndTrends@LifeWay.com Mail - F  acts & Trends, One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN 37234-0192 Facts & Trends is published quarterly by LifeWay Christian Resources. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, copyright 2009. Used by permission.

FALL 2016


Six benefits of bivocational ministry


ivocational ministry is not a new phenomenon. It is as old as the church itself. However, we have seen an increase in the number of bivocational pastors and church staff serving throughout the United States today. I believe bivocational ministry will continue to increase in the years ahead. Some of the increase will be forced upon churches and staff because of the financial realities of small and mid-sized churches. In today’s economic climate, a second job is increasingly necessary for ministers who want to serve in the church and support their families financially. Another area of increase in bivocational ministry will be among those I call marketplace pastors. We will soon see many attorneys, educators, physicians, business leaders, and other professionals who will choose to continue in their marketplace jobs while serving in a church as well. These marketplace pastors could be paid full time by the church but have mutually agreed with their church not to take full-time compensation. I see this marketplace pastor trend as a healthy movement in American congregations. Some may wonder why anyone would choose to serve bivocationally. It is challenging enough to balance ministry with family. Adding a second job seems like an overwhelming burden. But for many bivocational ministers, the benefits outweigh the challenges. Here are six reasons bivocational ministry can be beneficial.

necessity. While attending seminary and pastoring a church, I worked 30 hours a week at Citizens Fidelity Bank. I had so many great opportunities to share the gospel. Someone in a secular job will be right in the middle of lostness and can minister to people who may never set foot in a church. Many marketplace pastors are choosing to stay in their secular jobs because of the evangelistic opportunities.

churches to have more bivocational staff than full-time staff. 4. A bivocational pastor can have greater freedom than a person in a full-time role. Many pastors and staff are hindered from leading courageously for fear of losing their jobs. Pastors sometimes don’t say or do things that need to be done because their salary is tied to keeping peace in the church. Pastors who are not dependent upon a church financially are able to look at critics more objectively. That sense of freedom will lead to a longer tenure at a church.

In today’s economic climate, a second job is increasingly necessary for ministers to serve in the church and support their families financially.

1. A secular or marketplace job places pastors in the middle of secular culture on a regular basis. When I first entered ministry, I served bivocationally, by

5. Bivocational ministers and staff have transferrable skills they can use in their churches and at work. Abilities such as communications, project — Thom S. Rainer management, public speaking, managing conflict, motivating people, and collaboration are beneficial at church and in the 2. Serving bivocationally can help workplace. Bivocational ministers also church leaders break out of their “holy have skills to support themselves if they huddle.” Many times pastors are so surfind themselves no longer employed rounded by Christians they rarely have with their churches. the opportunity to share the gospel with 6. Members of the congregation lost people. Bivocational ministry offers become more involved in ministry. plenty of opportunities to live on misChurch members understand bivocasion and meet the spiritual needs of the tional pastors have limited time and unchurched. Working in the marketplace cannot be expected to do all the ministry also helps church leaders better relate to of the church. Church members realize the people in their congregations. they are partners in ministry and are 3. Bivocational ministry allows more willing to serve when asked. churches with limited resources to Bivocational ministry is a clear expand staff. Churches often know and definitive trend in church life. they need more staff leadership but Although there are many challenges, can’t afford it. Bivocational leaders bivocational ministry can be tremenare a great option for any church staff dously rewarding. position. This approach not only frees Thom S. Rainer (@ThomRainer) is president and up resources but also allows church CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. leaders to develop people within their own congregations to serve on staff. Eventually, it will become common for


Facts & Trends • 5

FactsAndTrends.net Popular stories from our website 52 Ideas for Your Church This Year From car-care clinics to neighborhood block parties, Diana Davis shares 52 ideas—one for each week of the year— your church can use to make an impact in your community.

What Does It Mean to Be for the City? For a church to actively love a city, it’s not so much a strategy or a plan, writes Dean Inserra, but a culture in which church members continually immerse themselves in the life of the city.

7 Statistics That Predict Church Growth Ultimately, God brings growth to churches, but research reveals several factors common in churches that experienced significant growth in recent years.

13 Things a Pastor Should Never Say to a Congregation In addition to the obvious no-no’s, such as profanity, heresy, racism, sexism, and the like, Joe McKeever says no pastor should ever be heard to utter any of these statements from the pulpit.




6 • Facts & Trends


FALL 2016


Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting our world




any Americans who don’t go to church are happy to talk about religion and want to find deeper purpose in life. They’re open to taking part in community service events hosted at a church or going to a church concert. But only about a third say they’d go to a worship service if invited by someone they know. The question of what happens after they die rarely crosses their minds.

These are among the findings of a new online survey of 2,000 unchurched Americans from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. The survey, conducted in partnership with the Wheaton, Illinois-based Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, found more than half of Americans who don’t go to church identify as Christians. But they are mostly indifferent to organized religion, says Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research.



or this survey, “unchurched” means those who have not attended a worship service in the last six months, outside of a holiday or special occasion like a wedding.

Among their characteristics: • Two-thirds (67 percent) are white • Just over half (53 percent) are male • About half (47 percent) have a high school diploma or less


Almost two-thirds (62 percent) went to church regularly as a child. Few had a bad experience with people at church (19 percent) or were turned off by the church’s teaching on moral issues (21 percent). Many seem to have simply fallen out of the habit of churchgoing. FACTSANDTRENDS.NET


Facts & Trends • 7


Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting our world

IF THE UNCHURCHED ONCE ATTENDED A CHURCH, WHY DID THEY LEAVE? Among the reasons they stopped going to church: Only attended because my parents made me: 25%

Lost interest: 23%

Turned off by the church’s moral stances: 21%


Moved away from the church: 20%


Lost trust in the church: 20%

Got too busy in my life:

There are many beliefs about life after death. Which statement is closest to your own beliefs?


Had a negative experience personally with people at church: 19%

I made life choices that would not be supported by a church: 11%


Go to heaven because you received Christ as Savior: 17%

I lost trust in God:

Go to heaven because you tried to be a good person:



No one really knows:

ST AS CHRI IAN Y F I NT E ID Of those who identify as Christian,


Cease to exist: 12%

Return in another life form: 7%

Go to heaven because God accepts everyone: 5%

Go to heaven because you tried to obey Ten Commandments:

1 in 4 reports having a strong faith.




8 • Facts & Trends

FALL 2016




Being part of a congregation doesn’t seem to appeal to most of the unchurched, even after they marry and have kids or face a time of crisis.

CUSSION S I D TO When someone

How likely are you to attend church regularly sometime in the future?

wants to talk about their religious beliefs, how do you respond?

Likely: 33%

Which, if any, of these life experiences would make you more open to consider turning to the church for help?

Change the subject as soon as possible Discuss it freely



Discuss it with some discomfort


Unlikely: 67%

Listen without actively participating















How often do you wonder, “If I were to die today, do I know for sure I would go to heaven?”













Some unchurched say they may attend in the future

Among the unchurched, self-identified evangelicals, African-Americans, and those who regularly attended church in the past are more likely to say they will come to church in the future.

Those who are 65 and older, who have graduate degrees, or who have never regularly attended are less likely to say they will go to church in the future. Group most likely to attend: SELF-IDENTIFIED EVANGELICALS Note: Charts are rounded, so some totals may not equal 100%.



Group least likely to attend: PEOPLE WITH GRADUATE DEGREES


Facts & Trends • 9


Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting our world

ATTRACTING THE UNCHURCHED TO CHURCH The unchurched often have Christian friends and aren’t turned off by conversations about faith. If a friend of mine really values their faith, I don’t mind them talking about it.

How many friends do you interact with regularly who consider themselves Christians?

None 9%



2-4 21%

5-10 11-20



20 or more


Not Sure 23%



esearchers found good works—like caring for other people’s needs or treating others well—are attractive to the unchurched. They are also affected by seeing how faith helps people solve problems in their communities or personal lives. Still, the effects of seeing faith lived out are modest.


Knowing they did so because of their faith, which of these, if any, would pique your interest in listening to Christians? TREATING OTHERS BETTER:






32% 24%

31% 22%


26% 22%





10 • Facts & Trends

FALL 2016

A personal touch still matters


If a local congregation or faith community wanted to reach out and invite you to attend, they might use one of these methods. Would the following options be effective in getting you (or others) to visit?

ant the unchurched to give church a try? Ask them to church. More than half say a personal invitation is effective. Inviting them to a community meeting—rather than worship—might be the way to go.

If someone you knew invited you to these activities sponsored by a local Christian church, how likely would you be to attend?

Likely: 62%

Unlikely: 38%

Community service project Likely: 51%

Unlikely: 49%

Sports or exercise program Unlikely: 54%

Concert Likely: 45%

Unlikely: 55%

Opportunity to meet neighbors Likely: 45%

Unlikely: 55%

Worship service Likely: 35%

Unlikely: 66% Unlikely: 74%

Yes: 29%

No: 71%

TV commercial Yes: 23%

No: 77%

Postcard Yes: 23%

No: 77%

Outdoor sign or billboard Yes: 22%

No: 78%

Knock on door from church member No: 79%

Ad in newspaper religion section Yes: 20% No: 80% Yes: 19% Unlikely: 81%

Unlikely: 75%

Facebook ad Yes: 18% Unlikely: 82%

Seminar on spiritual topic Likely: 24%

Online video

Door hanger

Recovery group Likely: 25%

No: 49%

Radio commercial Yes: 20% No: 80%

Small group for people curious about God Likely: 26%

No: 45%

Yes: 51%

Yes: 21%

Unlikely: 65%

Seminar on practical life topic Likely: 34%

Yes: 55%

Personal invitation from friend or neighbor

Neighborhood safety event

Likely: 46%

Personal invitation from family member

Unlikely: 76%


Source: LifeWayResearch.com Sources: LifeWayResearch.com, The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis FACTSANDTRENDS.NET

Facts & Trends • 11


Beliefs, issues, and trends impacting our world



oung adults in America are more likely to live with their parents than to live with a spouse, partner, or roommates. About a third (32.1 percent) of Americans 18 to 34 years old live in their parents’ home, the highest percentage since 1940, according to Pew Research. Slightly fewer—31.6 percent—are married or cohabiting. That’s down nearly half from 62 percent in 1960. “Dating back to 1880, the most common living arrangement among young adults has been living with a romantic partner, whether a spouse or a significant other,” wrote Richard Fry of Pew Research. Today this is no longer the case. “This turn of events is fueled primarily by the dramatic drop in the share of young Americans who are choosing to settle down romantically before age 35,” wrote Fry.

mericans have a lot to be worried about these days, according to a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Public Religion fear they or a family Research Institute. member will be a About half of Americans (51 victim of a violent percent) worry they or a member crime of their family will be a victim of a terrorist attack. That’s up from 33 percent in 2014. Two-thirds of Americans (63 percent) fear they or a family member will be a victim of a violent crime. A similar number fear they or a family member will lose their jobs (65 percent).



Source: PewResearch.org


Among other findings: • Half of Americans say the nation’s culture and way of life have changed for the worse since the 1950s. That figure jumps to 70 percent for white evangelicals. By contrast, black Protestants (69 percent) and Hispanic Catholics (62 percent) say things have gotten better. • Almost half (49 percent) of Americans say discrimination against Christians is as big a problem as other kinds of discrimination. A similar number disagree. Source: PRRI.org



hree-quarters of Americans (73 percent) say the state of moral values in the U.S. is getting worse, according to an annual poll from Gallup. One in five (20 percent) says morals are getting better. That’s a shift from 10 years ago. In 2006, 81 percent said the state of morals was getting worse, while only 11 percent said morals were getting better. Gallup also asked Americans to rate the morality of issues from abortion and assisted suicide to polygamy and cloning.

Birth control..................................... 89% Divorce............................................ 72% Sex outside marriage......................... 67% Having a baby outside marriage.......... 62% Embryonic stem cell research............ 60% Gay/lesbian relations ....................... 60% Death penalty................................... 59% Buying or wearing fur clothes............. 59%



Among the results:

12 • Facts & Trends

Adultery...........................................88% Polygamy.........................................82% Cloning people................................ 81% Suicide........................................... 73% Pornography.....................................61%

Source: Gallup.com FALL 2016



his summer the world was captivated by Pokémon Go. The smartphone app uses the phone’s camera and GPS to create an augmented reality and lead gamers to where they’ll find virtual creatures. Almost overnight, the game brought kids and adults streaming out of their homes to explore their communities while searching for Pokémon characters. These exotic creatures can be found at parks, government buildings, schools, and landmarks. Most churches are also designated as PokéStops and gyms. These churches began to see tweens, teens, and young adults show up on their doorsteps searching for Pidgeys and Jigglypuffs. For many gamers, it was their first time to visit a church. Churches responded by adding “Welcome Pokémon Gamers” to their church signs, while others handed out bottles of water bearing labels inviting gamers back to church. Some churches took to Twitter with suggestions on where to find PokéStops and gyms on campus and inviting gamers to special Pokémon Go events. The jury is still out as to whether this is simply a passing fad. But for now, churches are finding Pokémon Go is a great way to meet people in their communities. Go to our Facebook page (Facebook.com/FactsAndTrends) and tell us how your church is using Pokémon Go as an outreach tool.


Which are you more comfortable 41% talking about MY with others? SPIRITUAL VIEWS




esearchers compared how often Americans talk to others about politics to the number of times they talk about spirituality. Two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) say they had at least three conversations about politics in the last month. Eight percent had no conversations about politics. By contrast, fewer than half (44 percent) had three or more spiritual conversations in the same time frame. Twenty-two percent had no conversations about spirituality. Overall, 6 in 10 Americans (59 percent) say they’re more comfortable discussing their political views than their spiritual beliefs. Source: LifeWay Research FACTSANDTRENDS.NET



ewer than half of Protestant senior pastors say their church allows LGBT people to serve, even in limited roles, a recent LifeWay Research study found.


Where can an LGBT person serve in your church? Anywhere At least one service area but not anywhere

30% 15%

Nowhere Haven’t discussed it*/Not sure

34% 21%

Notes: *Excludes those who selected another option Respondents could select all that apply

Source: LifeWay Research Facts & Trends • 13

SECOND SHIFT Thriving in bivocational ministry By Bob Smietana


few months ago, Jim Black found himself in a familiar spot. Black was associate pastor of a small church in Minnesota that had hit a rough patch. The senior pastor had resigned and money was tight.

There wasn’t enough to pay the bills, including Black’s salary, and the congregation feared the church would have to shut down. Black told them to have faith and assured them things would work out. “I told them, ‘You are going to see God provide for us,’” he says, during a break from painting a barn in rural Minnesota. “Then I went home and wondered, Why did I say that?” Not long afterward, Black, who is 57, grabbed a paintbrush and got to work. So far, he’s picked up nine jobs in the area, with hopes of more to come. GARY BISTRAM/GENESIS PHOTOS

14 • Facts & Trends

FALL 2016


Bivocational pastor and painter Jim Black paints the exterior of the Runestone Museum in Minnesota. FACTSANDTRENDS.NET/SECONDSHIFT

Facts & Trends • 15

When he’s not painting, Black is helping restart the church, Catalyst Covenant Church, in Alexandria, Minnesota, with about 40 people. He’s serving as a bivocational pastor. “God opened up the doors,” he says. Black is an old pro at bivocational ministry, having held a second job for most of his three decades in ministry. He’s part of a growing trend of pastors whose churches can’t afford—or have chosen not to have—a fully supported pastor on staff. These days, megachurch pastors get most of the headlines. They write books on church leadership, speak at conferences, and shape the way many churches operate. But bivocational pastors—such as real estate brokers, information technology professionals, house painters, teachers, and lawyers who work both in the church and in the secular world— outnumber those big names. And their numbers are likely to grow in the future. Fewer than two-thirds (62.2 percent) of churches in the United States have a full-time pastor, according to the 2015 Faith Communities Today survey. That’s down from 71.4 percent in 2010. Median Sunday attendance dropped from 105 people to 80 during the same time, and the median annual budget fell from $150,000 to $125,000. “A lot of churches can’t afford to take care of their pastor,” says Ray Gilder of the Nashville-based Bivocational and Small Church Leadership Network. In those churches, the pastor often has two options—live on a very small salary or take a second job. Getting a job is often preferable, says Gilder. He suggests aspiring young pastors—and those already in the pulpit—develop marketable skills for the secular marketplace. That might mean

putting a college major to use or applying skills developed in the church—such as counseling, organizing people, or raising money—to work in the outside world. In some cases, it might mean picking up a paintbrush and getting to work.

When I paint, I have time to think and pray. It’s really a sweet time. — Jim Black, Catalyst Covenant Church, Alexandria, Minnesota

Find the right ‘second’ job One of the biggest challenges bivocational pastors face is finding the right day job. For Black, at least, finding a second job was relatively simple. “Painting is what I know,” he says. Black learned painting from his dad, a schoolteacher who ran a painting business during the summer. He started working at age 5 and has painted ever since. Painting houses allowed him to work his way through seminary and support himself as a pastor. He prefers to work with paintbrushes and rollers, as opposed to spray painting, because he believes the finished job looks better. People hire Black because they trust him to get the job done right. Working by hand also gives him time to talk to his customers. Those relationships often endure, long after the job is done. In that way, ministry and painting go hand in hand.

16 • Facts & Trends

“Bivocational ministry is not about the money,” he says. “It’s about the mission you are on and finding a way to do it.” However, bivocational pastors have to be careful to choose the right second job, says Chris DeBlaay, pastor of the Branch church, a 10-year-old congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Don’t take a job that’s a bad fit for your ministry, he says—one that pays poorly or takes up all a pastor’s time and energy. “You have to choose something that’s not going to drain you,” he says. DeBlaay first discovered bivocational ministry about 10 years ago, when he and a friend were thinking about planting the Branch. They wanted the church to be sustainable and didn’t want to spend years planting the church only to burn out or see the Branch fail for lack of finances. Ten years later, he’s glad to be a bivocational pastor. “For me—and I think for our church—it still makes a lot of sense,” he says. Still, being bivocational wasn’t always easy. DeBlaay left a fully supported job at another church to plant the Branch. And it took him a bit of time to find the right second job. DeBlaay, who studied health science in college, began working at a corporate wellness company about the time the Branch launched. The job was fortuitous—DeBlaay’s wife worked at the company and introduced him to some colleagues, which eventually led to a job offer. That first job, however, meant he was often on-site with his company’s clients, setting up programs and running seminars. He enjoyed the work, but it left him drained at the end of the day. “By the time I got to church stuff, I had so little left to give, because I was FALL 2016


using all my skills, talents, and intellectual energy at work,” he says. He eventually switched to a job that wasn’t hands-on with clients and left him a little more time to breathe.

I am no less a minister of the gospel when I’m at my law firm than when I’m at the church. I’m on mission just as much at one place as I am at the other. — Randy Singer, Trinity Church, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Be willing to share responsibility Having a bivocational pastor means congregation members need to take leadership roles. At the Branch, everyone has to be all in to make the church work, says DeBlaay. Being bivocational means everyone in the church is in the same boat, says Black. When he asks church members to handle a task at church, he knows the toll it can take. “I’m just as tired as they are,” he says. “I know I have to depend on them.” Randy Singer agrees. Singer, a lawyer by trade, has been a bivocational pastor at Trinity Church in Virginia Beach the past nine years. He also runs a law firm and writes novels on the side. The church could afford to pay him full time, but Singer isn’t interested. He believes bivocational ministry helps bridge the gap between professional staff and people in the pews. “Being bivocational sends the message that we need all hands on deck,” he says. Having a secular job also keeps him from being trapped in a church bubble, where his primary social contacts are with fellow Christians. Being in the courtroom and working at his law firm keeps him in touch with the rest of the world. “I am no less a minister of the gospel when I’m at my law firm than when I’m at the church,” he says. “I’m on mission just as much at one place as I am at the other.”

Randy Singer, pastor of Trinity Church and lawyer in Virginia Beach.


Facts & Trends • 17

Being bivocational allowed me to make enough outside of the church that I was able to support my family. It also blessed the church because I wasn’t drawing a salary. — A.J. Jones, City of Hope Covenant Church, Bolingbrook, Illinois

Singer believes bivocational pastors need to share leadership in order to be successful. At times, he says, pastors are afraid to give lay leaders control over essential parts of the ministry. His advice for bivocational pastors: Delegate as much as you can. Find and develop leaders who can run ministries at the church, and let them do their jobs. “It’s really hard to be a control freak and be a bivocational pastor,” he says. Gary Mitchell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Chataignier, Louisiana, often tells young pastors to befriend an older church member, who can look out for them. Mitchell, a longtime bivocational pastor and consultant for small churches, learned that lesson early. “The most important thing is building relationships with church members,” he says. “If you can’t build relationships, you’re not going to last long.”

Use your time wisely

A.J. Jones, pastor of City of Hope Covenant Church and realtor in Bolingbrook, Illinois. 18 • Facts & Trends


Another key to bivocational ministry is setting clear expectations for both pastor and church. The first step is determining which tasks the pastor needs to do and which responsibilities lay people can take care of. “Does the church need me 40 or 50 hours a week?” asks A.J. Jones, pastor of City of Hope Covenant Church, a 5-year-old multicultural church plant in Bolingbrook, Illinois. For Jones, a longtime IT professional who now runs a real estate business, bivocational ministry is part necessity and part design. The church has limited financial resources, and he’d rather see money go into outreach ministry than salaries. “Being bivocational allowed me to make enough outside of the church that I was able to support my family. It also blessed the church because I wasn’t FALL 2016


drawing a salary.” It’s a win-win, says Jones. Along the way, he’s discovered some tricks of the trade to make the most of his time. Among them: Don’t write your sermon by yourself. On Monday nights, Jones meets with about a dozen pastors for Bible study and sermon preparation. They all preach from the same text and do background research as a team. It’s a technique borrowed from pastors of larger churches. “You have the collective knowledge of 12 teaching pastors in a room,” he says. “Within two hours of study, we do what would take me 10 hours on my own.” He doesn’t see himself as any less of a pastor than those who are paid full time at their churches. “I care for the people of my church— I am very much involved,” he says. “I don’t just show up on Sundays to preach.” For Chris DeBlaay, being bivocational means focusing on the things he does best. That’s a luxury fully supported pastors don’t always have. “If you’re a full-time pastor, you’re going to have to do things you either don’t like or are not good at,” he says. “You’re getting paid, and someone has to do it.” For Singer, the central tasks for a bivocational pastor are preaching and pastoral care. He preaches about twothirds of the Sunday services at Trinity and spends the rest of his pastoral time doing weddings, funerals, and hospital visits. He entrusts staffers with administration and running other ministries. He’s become ruthless in asking himself about every task—even answering emails—Do I have time for this? “Time is my most valuable commodity,” he says. “You have to be able to live with a low level of frustration that you

can’t get everything done.” For Finny Kuruvilla, being bivocational means simplifying his life. He doesn’t have a television, a Facebook account, or other social media. Still, his life is full, with six kids, a busy job as chief investment officer for an investment firm based in Boston, and his responsibilities as a church planter. He also teaches New Testament Greek and apologetics to college students on the weekends. His advice for bivocational pastors: Don’t waste time. “If you cut away the extras, there is time,” he says. “I think a lot of people will look back and regret how much time they wasted.” Kuruvilla has also learned to find joy in his work as a pastor. He loves studying and preaching, finding it refreshes his soul rather than draining him. Bivocational ministry values both the calling to a vocation and to pastoral ministry. But balancing the two requires commitment and reliance on God. That’s a lesson Jim Black learned while in seminary. Feeling worn out from balancing his studies with his work as a painter, he went to see one of his teachers, a now-retired theology professor. “Why does God make me do this?” Black asked. The professor sat quietly for a minute and then gave him some advice. “Pray the paint strokes,” he told Black. That advice has stuck with Black, turning his secular work into a time that nourishes his soul. “When I paint, I have time to think and pray,” he says. “It’s a really sweet time.” BOB SMIETANA (Bob.Smietana@LifeWay.com) is senior writer for Facts & Trends.


QUICK STATS 34% of solo or senior pastoral leaders were bivocational in 2012. Source: National Congregations Study, 2015

WHO ARE BIVOCATIONAL PASTORS? • 57% of African-American pastors • 39% of white evangelical pastors • 15% of mainline Protestant pastors Source: National Congregations Study, 2015




Source: FaithCommunitiesToday.org

WHAT IS THE MEDIAN BUDGET OF AMERICAN CONGREGATIONS? 2010 2015 $150,000 $125,000 Source: FaithCommunitiesToday.org

Facts & Trends • 19



However, some are choosing bivocational ministry as a means to better

know their communities and live on mission in the marketplace. Whatever the reason, many bivocational pastors are finding unexpected blessings for

themselves and their churches while navigating the unique challenges of bivocational ministry. Here’s some advice from well-seasoned bivocational ministers for those onsidering a similar path.

Put your family first. One of the biggest strains of being a bivocational pastor is the stress it creates on your family. James DeBoe, a longtime bivocational pastor and doctor, served 28 years as pastor of a Brethren in Christ church in rural Virginia while running his medical practice. One of the best decisions in his career was setting a regular lunch date with his wife. The two had been at odds. He was spending too much time at work, causing a strain on their marriage. In the middle of a medical exam, he says, he felt God tell him he needed to take his wife to lunch. The feeling was so intense he walked out of the exam room—leaving a patient on the table—and called his wife to invite her to lunch. “After repeating this lunch date a few times, she was much happier,” he says. 20 • Facts & Trends

Finny Kuruvilla, a bivocational pastor in Boston, takes Fridays off to spend time with family. In the winter, that often means ice-skating or other activities. He teaches science to his kids, who are homeschooled, and once a week, he takes one of the kids to a local Mexican restaurant, where they snack and chat. “We sit for an hour, eat chips and salsa—it costs me $2,” he says. “Guard the hearts of your spouse and children,” says Philip Nation, teaching pastor at The Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, and director of content development at LifeWay. “Don’t let them be ministerial widows and orphans. Love them well and you will lead better in the church.”

Find a second job you like. Andrew Weaver, pastor of United Lutheran Church in Sunbury, Pennsylvania, has an unusual job for a bivocational pastor. He is a balloon

artist, specializing in giant art installations such as a 70-foot-long balloon river—complete with kayakers—he did for a local art fair. Weaver says having a second job is good for a pastor’s mental health. “If all the pastor does is serve the church and lives within the church walls, that can be very isolating,” he says. “Getting beyond the church walls is important for every pastor.”

Remember the mission, even when money is tight. Most bivocational pastors will hit a rough spot, says Jorge Garcia, pastor of Gracia y Paz Covenant Church in Chula Vista, California. Sometimes money is tight. Sometimes there is too much to do and not enough time. Don’t give up, says Garcia, who works as a sales engineer during the day. Just do what needs to be done and press on. “You have the opportunity to serve God as a pastor for a particular flock of people,” he says. “If you need to sell pizzas, you sell pizzas.”



ivocational ministry is often a necessity for pastors in today’s economy.

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Learn to say no. Randy Singer, a lawyer, writer, and pastor of Trinity Church in Virginia Beach, tracks every hour he spends on each job. Those hours add up quickly, and there is usually still work to be done even after he reaches 60 or 70 hours. Singer has learned to do only the things that matter most. He even pauses before answering an email, knowing he can easily be caught up in a time-consuming conversation. He skips social media and limits meetings. Sometimes, he says, you have to leave things undone. “You can work yourself to death trying to do both jobs.”

Make developing leaders a priority. Bivocational pastors can’t do it all, says Brian Dye of Legacy Christian Fellowship in Chicago. Dye, who pastors a church plant on the city’s West Side, stresses the importance of sharing responsibility with the congregation and developing leaders for the church. It involves some risk. Lay people will need time and space to grow into a leadership role, and they won’t always get it right the first time. Having faith that God is at work in everyone at church helps, says Dye. “Trust that God will raise up leaders to fill the need,” he says. Delegate as much as you can, says Singer. “Find and develop leaders who can run ministries at the church—and let them do their jobs.”

Show up. Ministry always requires the power of presence, whether a pastor is fully supported or bivocational.

Gary Mitchell, a longtime bivocational pastor and consultant in Louisiana, recalls serving at a small church in the 1980s. A couple in the church asked Mitchell to visit their estranged son, who was dying of AIDS. Mitchell was afraid. This was early in the AIDS epidemic, when no one understood how the disease worked. The young man, thin and covered in sores, was in an isolation ward. Mitchell eventually was able to talk and pray with the young man. That made all the difference in the world to the young man and to his parents. Mitchell believes some pastors forget that caring for people is an essential part of ministry.

Love your work in the “real world.” Or, at the least, learn from it. Many of your church members struggle to even like the job they have. According to Gallup’s 2015 State of the American Workplace report, 68 percent of American workers are “not engaged” or are “actively disengaged” from their workplaces and less likely to be productive. “It’s a good thing to admit we sometimes struggle like everyone else,” says Nation. “It’s a better thing to show how faith intersects our work and guides us through the struggles. In your full-time work, learn how God is shaping your character and leading you to ministry opportunities that would not happen otherwise.”


Don’t be too busy for God. Sometimes even a pastor with two jobs has to slow down and listen. That’s a lesson John Pippin, who stepped down last year after 30 years as a bivocational pastor at Corinth Church of Christ in Sparta, Tennessee, says he sometimes forgot. Pippin says he’s thankful for the time he spent in bivocational ministry, but he’s glad for a break. At times, he felt as if he were on a treadmill—always preparing for the next sermon but not growing spiritually. One of his professors warned him early on that Sunday comes every seven days, and he had to have a sermon ready—or, in his case, two sermons a week, along with pastoral care and visitation. The deadlines were unrelenting. Looking back, Pippin says he developed some bad habits. He was spending a great deal of time studying the Bible, but he was always preparing for the next sermon. “That doesn’t help you grow,” he says. Pippin’s advice for other pastors: Don’t always be in a rush to write the next sermon. Instead, listen to what the Scriptures are teaching you. “Slow down and give it time to stick,” he says. “That’s the part I think I missed.” BOB SMIETANA (Bob. Smietana@LifeWay.com) is senior writer for Facts & Trends.

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ivocational pastors face a constant tug-of-war between working in the present and planning for the future. With limited time to provide pastoral care, study for messages, and lead a church, it’s tempting to procrastinate on long-term planning.

But planning your preaching calendar is always worth the effort. As a bivocational pastor, I keep a preaching calendar at least six months ahead. Whenever I can, I like to keep a rolling calendar of 12 months on the schedule. It’s difficult, but possible. Here are some action steps for effective long-term sermon planning as a bivocational pastor. Please note all of it comes with the foundational understanding that prayer and personal holiness are a given for any of this to actually work. Schedule times for planning. To be successful in the future, you must discipline the present. Start by spending time with only your Bible and a blank notepad as you pray about what might be needed in the year ahead. Set aside half of a Saturday (or some other off day) to meander through lots of ideas and give some type of outline to Bible books and topical series. Follow up with a second time of planning to organize what you discovered. You can lengthen or shorten series, put them in a logical progression, and arrange them on a calendar. Work with a team. Being bivocational doesn’t mean you need to go solo. Find a group in the church or a group of likeminded pastors to assist. Having friends speak into the process will give you the encouragement and pushback you need. Plus, you’ll likely gain insights that don’t

happen when you work alone. Keep special dates in mind. Preaching calendars need to take special days of the year into consideration. Easter and the Christmas season are obvious ones. But don’t forget about the beginning and end of school years, secular holidays such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, and special events with your church such as Vacation Bible School. Work on it quarterly. Once you have a year set for yourself (or at least six months), keep setting aside half-days to revisit the schedule and press forward. Don’t set a schedule for the calendar year and then forget about it for 11 months. Keep a rolling calendar so you can stay ahead. Leave some blank space. During the year, I normally leave October or November blank. Why? Because I know there will be some national crisis, cultural event, or church emphasis that needs to be addressed in the sermons. Give yourself some breathing room to pivot toward critical issues. Coordinate with the church calendar. The church has goals for making disciples, encouraging faith, and deploying people into ministry. Many of the goals are tied to ministry activities on the church calendar. Don’t allow the message series and the ministry activities to


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operate separately. Coordinate the two for a greater impact. In fact, it’s possible to have the preaching schedule drive the ministry emphasis and see a great impact because of it. Know your context. Start with knowing the needs in your church and the style of series to best address those needs. Next, know your community’s glaring needs and the hidden ones. Discerning issues of encouragement and how to do outreach is founded in Scripture and worked out in our ongoing mission. I find a mix of series on Bible books and topics is needed to accomplish these goals. Embrace the long walk. Preaching is an in-the-moment event each week where you pray for immediate results. The preaching calendar helps you to have long-term goals in mind for the next few years. It’s not likely anyone will come out of a single message series with an understanding of the whole counsel of God. Instead, take the long view. Feed the congregation in a progressive manner so they can mine the depth of God’s Word.


ne of the most common questions I hear about being a bivocational pastor is how I make time for sermon prep. Most of the time, I want to say: By the skin of my teeth. The truth is, I have a weekly schedule, and it helps me stay on track.

Via Twitter, LifeWay’s President and CEO Thom S. Rainer asked pastors about the amount of time they spend studying for one sermon. The responses represented a slice of reality for many pastors. The key points I took from his post are: • 70 percent of pastors’ preparation time is between 10 to 18 hours per sermon. • The median time for sermon preparation in this study is 13 hours. • Most who gave a response of under 12 hours indicated they were bivocational pastors. I didn’t participate in the survey, and I’m not sure how I would have answered. Identifying my amount of prep time as a bivocational pastor is difficult because every week is different. Plus, it feels as if every spare moment often leads to thinking about the next sermon. So with the hope of bringing some sense to it all, here’s a look at my week of sermon prep.

• S tart with planning months in advance. I have my series planned for at least six months including passages, themes, main points that need wordsmithing, and tentative titles. I’ve met with our staff and elders to test the plan and ask for their input. It’s critical for me to know where I’m going with my messages for an extended period of time as it helps me to spiritually prepare.

PHILIP NATION (@PhilipNation) is director of content development at LifeWay and teaching pastor at The Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out.

Philip Nation

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• After sermon: Weekly planning begins As soon as one message is done, I’m praying about how the next message intersects with what God is doing in that moment. My drive home from church each week sometimes gives me a chance to meditate on how the next sermon can dovetail with what I just witnessed the Spirit do in our lives.

• Sunday: Read I read the passage for next week and just sit with it for a bit. Meditation has become, and needs to be, a key part of my preparation. I have found that if I just rush right into outlining or reading commentaries I am robbing myself of hearing from the Spirit as the priority.

• Monday: Heavy preparation I outline the passage by simply rewriting and separating the phrases. I normally preach one core passage. But if I’m delivering a topical message with multiple passages, Monday night is dedicated to the central passage and investigating the various places I’ll point to during the message. After the outlining, out come the academic resources. Commentaries, systematic theologies, and language resources are the core for me. Some of them I have physically in my study and others are accessed online with myWSB.com. During this evening, I give a bit of time to illustrations but those often appear in the process later when the outline is closer to finalized.

• Tuesday: Meditate and study Before I leave for work, I go over the passage and ask for God’s guidance on whether I’ve hit on the right theme and principles to teach. It is a devotional time for me to test if what I’m planning to teach will hold up in daily life. Tuesday evening is more study time. If Monday night was tied up with something else, then all of the regular Monday stuff must happen too. When able, I will shape the outline to its final form and begin looking for a key illustration.

• Wednesday: Finalize major points Before I go to bed, I finalize the main points of the outline. When it goes fast, sub-points also come together by this time. I email all of this information to our church office by noon on Thursday for what will be shown on the video screens. FACTSANDTRENDS.NET/SECONDSHIFT

• Thursday & Friday: Reflect I awake with the sermon in my head, go to bed thinking about it, and catch moments to reflect on it throughout the day. Somewhere in these two days, I usually finish the major editing to my sermon notes.

• Saturday: Edit I tweak my sermon notes a bit and print them out. I try to get my mind set that it is finished and do a trial run out loud to work on the intro, transitions, conclusion, and timing.

• Sunday morning: Scribble Any last-minute edits or thoughts are written in the margins. Stuff gets circled or underlined. As a bivocational pastor, I find time with family, extra work, and other pastoral duties can cut in on my sermon preparation. I work to be disciplined but don’t beat myself up if the system is interrupted. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s the one that works for me. Developing a system or rhythm for sermon preparation is worth the structure you can give, the prep you can have, and the commitment to the gospel you live out.

DIG DEEPER •T  he Art and Practice of Bivocational Ministry: A Pastor’s Guide by Dennis Bickers •U  niquely Bivocational: Understanding the Life of a Pastor who has a Second Job by Ray Gilder •B  ivocational and Small Church Leadership Network: http://bscln.net/resources/ • LifeWay.com/pastors Facts & Trends • 25



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evin and I have five daughters, and no sons, between us, so we are adept at executing ponytails, discussing princesses, and painting pottery. We have vacationed together several times, meaning we have waited in lines together for hours at Disney

World to secure a signature from a princess. And our wives have scolded us, “Slow down, they are little girls” when driving a boat with our daughters trailing behind on a big tube. Fathering girls is different than anything we have


ever done, and we both love it. On our best days, we embrace the enormity of the responsibility with eyes toward the future. We are helping prepare our girls for life outside our homes. Our role is not to help them live out the Christian faith only when they are safe in our presence, but also in our absence. Our role is to equip them, not to feverishly attempt to live their lives for them. Leading people in a local church is very similar. Leaders, when embracing the enormity of the responsibility, keep an eye on the future. They develop others, not just for the comfort of life in the church, but also for life as a whole. They equip God’s people to serve, not feverishly attempting to do all the ministry themselves. Both parenting and pastoring must focus on equipping. Two major problems are plaguing many churches: (1) many churches are not healthy, and (2) churches, in general, struggle to equip people for ministry.

Many churches are not healthy. A plethora of symptoms are lamented, from a lack of generosity to low ministry engagement to the scarcity of God’s people living on mission. Symptoms are often addressed, but the symptoms point to an overarching sickness. For example, a lack of generosity reveals a loss of awe for His generosity, that He who was rich became poor for us. The scant number of people, in most churches, who view their neighborhoods and professions as God-given mission opportunities, reveals an incomplete view of or lack of passion for the mission of God. The examples of symptoms could continue, and they painfully remind us that many local churches are not as healthy as they could and should be. Churches, in general, struggle to equip people for ministry. In a recent research project, pastors were surveyed about their church’s plan for developing and training people for ministry. Fewer than 25 percent


Facts & Trends • 29

of church leaders said they had any semblance of a plan. Essentially the vast majority of churches admit they have absolutely no strategy for developing the people in their churches for ministry. Clearly, equipping others is a missing conviction in churches. Yet the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus: And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness (Ephesians 4:11–13).

DIG DEEPER •D  esigned to Lead by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck

Paul’s exhortation is clear. When pastors/teachers train and prepare God’s people for ministry, the result is the body of Christ is built up. The scarcity of healthy churches and the lack of passion and plan to train people for ministry are not unrelated problems. In fact—according to the apostle Paul—one is the result of the other. Quite simply, a failure to equip people for ministry results in an unhealthy church. A lack of conviction for equipping results in an immature body of believers.

holy cause and the glorious effect clearly prescribed in Scripture. There is a holy cause and effect in ministry. If we will make the training of the saints our holy cause, the effect is a healthy church. A healthy church is not a perfect church, but she is a church that is being collectively formed more and more into the image of Christ. Paul writes that as the training of the saints in the work of the ministry occurs, a church will be growing “into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness.” We are joining the apostle Paul in making the statement: to have a healthy church, a church must equip believers. We are not hedging. We are not merely suggesting that equipping people is important. We are not merely suggesting there is a relationship between equipping and health. We are declaring that equipping causes health. Equipping is the work of leadership. Equipping must not be something that is seen as optional, something seen as for “other churches.” It must be a deeply held conviction. Equipping is for every single church. Equipping must be for your church. Equipping must be viewed as foundational, as fundamental to what it means to actually be called a church.

Holy cause and effect

A biblical approach to ministry

Our lives are filled with the principle of “cause and effect.” Doctors remind us if we eat healthy, the effect will be a more healthy body. Dermatologists scold us that if we fail to use sunscreen, the effect will be damaging to our skin. Children are taught the principle of cause and effect early in elementary school because it is so critical to learning to make wise choices throughout life. But somehow many church leaders have missed the

Pastors, and churches, with a biblical approach to ministry possess a deep-seated conviction that all believers are gifted for ministry, not just the “professionals.” Scripture never uses the term “minister” to set aside a special class of people who serve other Christians. All believers are ministers. Thus those selected by the Lord to be pastors are to invite all believers to engage in ministry and view themselves as equippers of all the

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ministers, all of God’s people, within the Church. God is deeply passionate for His Church, for His bride, and ferociously committed to maturing her. For this reason, “He personally gave some to be . . . pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). He personally involves Himself in the process of setting apart pastors, not to do the ministry, but to prepare God’s people. When pastors do for the people in a church what the people should be doing for themselves and one another, everyone loses. The body suffers. People are not discipled and developed for ministry. The local community is not served and impacted as it could be. Churches and church leaders are wise to long for both unity and maturity. And the Scripture teaches that as people are developed for ministry, growth occurs in unity and maturity—maturity even measured by Christ’s fullness. When equipping is a value that permeates the culture of the church, those in the church see the opportunities to pursue maturity and be developed. As opportunities to be developed are shared with the church body, people are able to move toward Christlikeness within the church.

Preparing our girls (and people) Parenting girls is one of the best experiences either of us could have hoped for. It is also intensely sacred. Over about 18 years, we will help our respective daughters prepare for life outside our homes. There are so many hurdles, barriers, and dangers implicit in preparing them for life. Inevitably, many days and nights will be spent worrying and wondering if our investment, wisdom, and love are bearing fruit. Still, no

The New Testament concept of the pastor is not of a person who jealously guards all ministry in his own hands, . . . but one who helps and encourages all of God’s people to discover, develop, and exercise their gifts. His teaching and training are directed to this end, to enable the people of God to be a servant people. . . . Thus instead of monopolizing all ministry himself, he actually multiplies ministries. —John Stott matter how hard or dangerous the road gets, there are no shortcuts, and there is no way to live our children’s lives for them. They will have to honor God with their lives for themselves. Our job is to train them, not do it for them. It’s the nature of leading our families. In the same way, the nature of leading a church is to prepare the people of the congregation to live a life of worship for Jesus. Equipping is the call of every pastor. There is no other job description, no matter what is on file with the personnel committee or board of directors. This should be the understanding of every church member, no matter what ministry model is printed on the posters in the foyer. We are a people ruled by God’s Word. He has shown us how His Church is to work according to His power. We cannot improve on the plan of the Master, and we must not try. Do you really want a church that is growing in unity and toward maturity? Then make your cause, your holy cause,


the equipping and preparing of God’s people. The epidemic of unhealthy churches is the result of churches and church leaders being woefully under committed to equipping people for the ministry and the mission of God. Without a deep-seated conviction to develop leaders, without a passion for equipping—a church will not enjoy the beautiful effect of unity and maturity. ERIC GEIGER (@EricGeiger) is vice president of LifeWay’s Resources Division and senior pastor of ClearView Baptist Church in Franklin, Tennessee. KEVIN PECK (@_KPeck_) is lead pastor at The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas. Learn more about their new book, Designed to Lead, and download free resources at DesignedtoLead.com.

Facts & Trends • 31

5 signs your small-group strategy is


By Ken Braddy

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very church has a philosophy of small-group ministry. For some churches, it’s Sunday school. For others it’s home groups, D-groups, or some other expression. How do you know if your small-group strategy is working? Are you making disciples? Are there any telltale signs it may be missing the mark? While teaching, fellowship, and ministry take place in varying degrees in groups, the first and foremost goal of groups is to produce disciples who make disciples. Discipleship isn’t just something clergy-led. Nor is it a class taken or a notebook filled out. Making disciples is something every believer is commanded to do. In Real-Life Discipleship, Jim Putman says the Great Commission confronts us with the reality that “it is the job of every believer to make disciples.” If we begin by accepting that discipleship is the primary goal for groups, then yes, there will be indicators as to whether or not groups are producing disciples. Here are five signs your church’s discipleship strategy may be missing the mark when it comes to producing disciples.


1. TOO MANY LARGE GROUPS Some churches have allowed Bible study groups to grow too large. Discipleship is best accomplished in a group of about a dozen people. This was Jesus’ model for producing disciples. “When a disciple-maker is responsible for shepherding more than 12 people,” says Putman, “it’s far more likely some will fall through the cracks because there are just too many people to get to know all of them well. And remember, if you don’t know people, then you don’t know where they’re at and what they need in the spiritual growth

process.” To put it another way, you simply cannot disciple people from a distance.

2. A  PULPIT-CENTRIC APPROACH TO DISCIPLE-MAKING There’s no doubt the messages preached by pastors are highly influential and important in the life of the church. But as a disciple-making strategy, preaching is incomplete. Putman reminds us preaching results in a lecture style of communication, and that “many pastors believe they are making disciples by preaching sermons…they see discipleship as simply a transfer of knowledge from teacher to student and the result will be a changed life.” A pulpit ministry combined with a disciple-making, small-group strategy creates and maximizes the kind of environment in which people can be discipled in ways they cannot during a worship service.

3. A  DISCIPLESHIP PLAN THAT ISN’T REALLY DISCIPLESHIP As a pastor, I often had what I call a “university strategy” for discipleship, which focused mainly on classes teaching people what to believe. The strategy was well-intentioned, and the course leaders were passionate and knowledgeable, but the groups often failed to teach people to put what they learned into practice. In their book DiscipleShift, Putman and Bobby Harrington write: “Far too many of us assume that discipleship is merely the transfer of information leading to behavior modification. But discipleship, at the heart, involves transformation at the deepest levels of understanding and affection.”


4. STAFF AREN’T LEADING OUT IN THE DISCIPLE-MAKING PROCESS The adage “You can’t lead where you’ve never been” may be especially true in the case of making disciples. In Rediscovering Discipleship, Robby Gallaty says some leaders “were never discipled themselves. They have never been exposed to an intentional process of discipleship and aren’t sure what to focus on.” Each staff member shoud be modeling discipleship.

5. N  O INTENTIONAL PLAN FOR MAKING DISCIPLES Jesus provided us with a model for making disciples: Jesus ministered while the disciples watched. Jesus then invited the disciples to assist Him in ministry. Then the disciples ministered and Jesus assisted them. Finally, Jesus observed as the disciples ministered to others. Few churches today have such an intentional process for making disciples. If you believe your church could do a more effective job at making disciples, take heart and be encouraged. Any of these five indicators of a lack of discipleship can be reversed in time. Remember, making disciples means people must be in proximity to one another. Groups must be smaller. An intentional process must be adopted. The journey is worth taking, especially when you see disciples begin to make more disciples. KEN BRADDY (Ken.Braddy@LifeWay.com) is manager of adult ongoing Bible studies at LifeWay.

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Less flash. More truth. The real story on millennials and the church



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t’s fall in Tallahassee, Florida. The excitement is as high as the leftover summer temperatures when thousands of people—mostly college students—cram into a building to be part of something huge. But this isn’t a typical Saturday night college football game for the Florida State Seminoles. This is a Sunday morning worship gathering for City Church. Located seven minutes from FSU’s football stadium, City Church has a congregation of more than 70 percent millennials (the generation born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s), says pastor Dean Inserra, a millennial himself. More specifically, a majority of the Sunday morning attendance is college students. How is City Church drawing these young adults? By being honest, says Inserra. “Millennials are looking for honesty and humility from the pulpit,” he says. “Honesty about what the Bible actually says and honesty about the pastor not being an expert on living out the things he is preaching about, but a work in progress, by the grace of God, like everyone else.” Planted in 2007 by Inserra in his parents’ house, City Church has grown from 24 people to 5,500 this past Easter. City Church hasn’t sought to entertain young adults with a spectacle. And it hasn’t abandoned historic Christian teachings to better fit with cultural norms. Instead, Inserra has focused on a relational, authentic ministry with strong biblical teaching, which led to City Church’s explosive growth. The history of City Church points to a frequently hidden reality: Despite what many claim, millennials aren’t leaving evangelical churches in droves. Neither are they significantly more liberal in their theology than previous generations. This is not just anecdotal evidence—it’s

the statistical truth. This is the real story on millennials and the church.

The truth about millennial evangelicals When Pew Research released its most recent report on the religious landscape in America, much of the attention focused on Christianity’s drop of almost 8 percentage points in population share over the last seven years. Few paid attention to the relatively stable numbers of evangelicals, which declined less than 1 percentage point. Even fewer noticed

Millennials are looking for honesty and humility from the pulpit. — Dean Inserra the percentage of evangelicals who are millennials, which remained the same at 21 percent from 2007 to 2014. According to the General Social Survey, more evangelical young adults are attending church than at any time in the last 40 years. Almost half of all evangelical young adults are at church every week. This doesn’t surprise Trip Lee, a rap artist and church planter in the Atlanta area. “I’ve traveled the country and the world doing music and teaching and meeting a lot of millennials,” he says. “I meet young people all the time who are hungry for the truth of God.” If young adults want to be entertained, they’ll go to a concert, the millennial musician says. “But if what they want is actual truth from God, they want to go


to churches like that,” he says. Brad Jones, who works with Louie Giglio’s Passion Conferences, knows how hungry millennials can be to experience Jesus and gather with others to worship Him. The Passion Conferences regularly attract tens of thousands of college students. Those gatherings serve as reminders both to the broader church and the students who attend that they are not alone in following Christ. “Our opportunity at Passion is to help students see that not everybody has given up on the faith and there is a generation rising up for the glory of God,” Jones says. Some contend this generation is embracing a more liberal, less orthodox Christianity, with young adults calling themselves evangelical while in actuality they are more like mainline Protestants in their beliefs. Once again, the statistics say otherwise. Millennial evangelicals have more in common theologically with older evangelicals than they do with others their own age. An expansive LifeWay Research project surveyed the theological beliefs of Americans with 44 questions. It asked about topics such as the Holy Spirit, Scripture, church attendance, the divinity of Jesus, sex outside marriage, and more. Out of all the topics, millennial and older evangelicals had statistically relevant differences on only four questions. And in some of those differences, millennials were more orthodox than their elders. Barna Research found a similar trend in a survey about the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. Around a third (35 percent) of practicing Christians under 40 favored the ruling, while support among all Americans in that age group was almost twice as high at 61 percent—a gap of 26 percentage points. By comparison, only Facts & Trends • 35


nine points separated practicing Christians under 40 from Christians 40 and older (26 percent). Evangelical churches aren’t the ones losing young adults. According to Pew, historically black Protestants and evangelical Protestants have the highest retention rate among Christian groups—70 percent and 65 percent respectively. The Protestant group shedding the most members raised in the faith is mainline Protestants, which includes denominations that have embraced popular views on sexuality and morality. Only 45 percent of those raised mainline stay that way as adults. Almost one-fifth become evangelicals, and close to one-third leave the Christian faith altogether. This doesn’t mean evangelicals aren’t facing challenges with millennials. While most millennial evangelicals are not leaving the church, some are. And unchurched millennials (about one-third) are growing increasingly secular.

The way forward No matter how encouraging or discouraging the trends may be, Jones says the church must stay motivated for the mission. 36 • Facts & Trends

“We never want to lose sight of the fact that no matter how big our church grows, there are tens of thousands of students on college campuses in our city who don’t know Jesus,” he says. So for churches that want to reach millennials, Lee says leaders must first decide what exactly they want to do and be as a church. “If our only goal is to get people in the door, we can throw the Bible out altogether,” says Lee. “But if the goal of the church is to make disciples of Jesus, we can’t change God’s Word. If we want to draw young people, we should draw them to the truth in Scripture.” Churches shouldn’t shift away from biblical truth, he maintains. Instead, says Lee, “We should think about shifting in some of the ways we connect with young adults.” Jones, who also serves as a student pastor at Passion City Church in Atlanta, says instead of coddling young adults and catering to them, churches should challenge them. “Don’t count them out,” he says. “Instead, call them up.” For Lee, churches often force millennials into “spiritual ghettos” like the college ministry or singles ministry instead of allowing them to integrate and

serve with the body of Christ as a whole. He says many churches don’t treat millennials as mature believers. He challenges church leaders to pour into young adults and disciple them like any other believer. “Don’t have low expectations of the young people in your church,” he says. “Treat them like actual believers, not junior-level believers. If they believe in Jesus, they’re believers.” Churches aren’t going to reach or retain millennials through new programs or different songs, says Inserra. “You have to focus on being relational. Millennials are only coming to church if someone they know and trust invites them,” he says. “I shake my head when a church thinks changing music style is the way to reach millennials. They are lost! Why would they care that you have guitars?” Lee agrees with Inserra—it’s all about relationships. Having younger adults on staff and making different music choices can “create an environment where people feel welcome, but the more important thing is personal relationships.” Millennials aren’t going to come into a church because they walked by the front door and heard a song they like. One surprising way churches can reach young adults is by involving older adults. Jones sees the impact of older volunteers at the Passion Conferences who are there simply to serve those who are younger. “Millennials need to see people who still have their hope in God,” he says. “If they don’t observe people older than them who are still following Jesus with their lives, then what makes them want to do the same?” Inserra says older Christians can model consistency for a generation that is “trying to move from one ‘experience’ to another. Being around faithful, consistent, content believers can do wonders FALL 2016

for a generation constantly looking for their next Instagram picture.” Recognizing this and the impact of mature men in his own life, Lee says he is praying for God to draw more than just young people to their church plant. “We don’t want it to be a youth ministry,” he says. “We’re praying God would also send us older believers who can pour into those of us who are younger.” This mix of enthusiasm and experience is “necessary for the church to be as healthy as it can be,” says Lee. “The most important thing is the members building their lives in such a way where they interact with people of all ages and different races, and as they build those relationships, they share the

gospel with people and invite them into community,” Lee says. “That’s the main way to reach young people.” The real story on millennials and the church is the same old story. To reach young adults, the church shouldn’t adjust biblical doctrines, but neither should it attempt to trot out expired programs. Instead, the church must love young adults as Jesus loves them, invest in their lives, and walk with them as they become mature disciples of Christ. It’s not flashy. It doesn’t garner a lot of attention. It’s just the truth. AARON EARLS (Aaron.Earls@LifeWay.com) is online editor of FactsAndTrends.net.

DIG DEEPER •G  roeing Young: 6 Essential Strategies to Help People Discover and Love Your Church (Baker) by Kara Powell, Jake Mulder, and Brad Griffin



othing changes the course of a culture quite like a movement—a wave of passionate individuals joining to fight for and achieve a single, critical goal. Think of the American Revolution, the abolitionist movement, or the civil rights campaign.

But nothing has changed the course of our world quite like the movement we call the church. According to Acts 1, the earliest iteration of the church had about 120 believers—plus the Holy Spirit. From those humble beginnings, God launched a movement that has built momentum for millennia and affected every corner of the globe. As modern participants in that movement, we can learn a great deal from those earliest of disciples. In fact, we

must learn from our spiritual ancestors if we want to continue their legacy of changing the world for the cause of Christ. Specifically, here are three lessons from the early church that will help us fulfill our mission as disciples of Jesus.

Face external opposition with humility Many people today have a false understanding of what it means to be humble.

38 • Facts & Trends

We often think a humble person is a weak person—a doormat to be walked over or ignored. In reality, humility is strength under control. Humble people have power and passion, yet they aren’t driven to unleash their strengths on a whim or in service to their own desires. Instead, humble people submit their power and passions in service to something greater than themselves. The earliest leaders of the church demonstrated this kind of humility in the face of opposition and persecution. Take the apostle Peter. In Acts 5, he was arrested and dragged before the Sanhedrin—the religious court of his day. Enemies who had the authority and the desire to do him harm surrounded him. FALL 2016

Yet he stood firm. The Sanhedrin had ordered Peter and the other disciples to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. They refused. Peter and the other apostles didn’t complain. They didn’t sling insults or sarcastic comebacks. They simply (and humbly) focused on their calling to serve Christ. “We must obey God rather than men,” Peter and the other apostles told the religious authorities. The church continues to face outside opposition in today’s world. Yet we don’t serve the cause of Christ when we respond to that opposition in kind. We don’t need bravado or blistering retorts when others seek to tear down what God is building through His church. What we do need is humility. We need strength under control.

Face internal opposition with unity In addition to being attacked by outside forces, the early church dealt with a number of internal struggles and conflicts that threatened to derail its mission. Early believers disagreed about what it meant to follow Christ. These disagreements sometimes erupted into major divisions. The apostle Paul sought to address these divisions in several of his epistles. Perhaps the most famous example came in his first letter to the church at Corinth, where he called out the problem in no uncertain terms. “Is Christ divided?” he wrote. “Was it Paul who was crucified for you? Or were you baptized in Paul’s name?” Paul offered his solution to this problem in verse 10. “Now I urge you, brothers,” he wrote, “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say,

that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.” Unity within the church is a major theme throughout the New Testament, from Paul (see Philippians 2:1-2) to Peter (see 1 Peter 3:8-9) and beyond. Jesus lifted up the critical importance of unity and mutual love in the church when He

We cannot resist the crushing pressure of our culture unless Jesus strengthens us. — Sam O’Neal, LifeWay

said, “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Sadly, the church today often feels divided, by denomination, political affiliation, and racial segregation. These factors and more have raised walls within the body of Christ—walls that will not be broken down by more fevered attempts to force other Christians into our specific method of following Christ. When differences arise between factions of the church, we need to strive for unity, not victory.

Above all else, stay focused on Christ The early church represents the most successful movement in human history. Yet the earliest Christians could never have survived outside opposition and internal strife without the presence and power of Christ in their midst. The early


church succeeded because it was dependent on Christ. The same must be true of the modern church. We cannot resist the crushing pressure of our culture unless Jesus strengthens us. We cannot set aside our many differences for the sake of unity unless Jesus joins us together. As Peter declared in the church’s very first sermon: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah!” (Acts 2:36). May we keep the same focus. And by God’s grace, may we see the same results. SAM O’NEAL (@SamTONeal) is content editor for LifeWay’s Adult Ministry team.

DIG DEEPER Bible Studies for Life has released Unstoppable Gospel, a six-week study from Gregg Matte. This study examines the early church in the Book of Acts—always on the move, constantly advancing, and constantly occupying new ground. The church faced obstacles, but not defeats. The church suffered opposition, but never retreats. The church endured persecution, but could not be extinguished. Rediscover what made the early church so powerful— so unstoppable. Available at LifeWay Stores and LifeWay.com.

Facts & Trends • 39

Building families in today’s culture How to help parents train their children to thrive By Ann iorg

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aring for and training children is an important responsibility for adults. When children are not given what they need to mature adequately, they carry those shortcomings into adulthood. As adults, when they live out those inadequacies, society spirals downward.

This is happening today and will only intensify if the church does not accelerate its efforts at teaching children about family, gender, and marriage issues. Church leaders must continually emphasize love for children and their training, lest churches forget the significance of this task. Every child must learn basic concepts to be a productive part of society. These are best learned from someone who cares for them on a consistent basis—first at home, then church, school, and other training venues. Parents, grandparents, other relatives, pastors, teachers, coaches, and mentors are crucial to ensure children grow into mature, productive, caring adults who make a positive contribution to society. In our culture (and in many churches), we are not giving children the training they need in the area of personal identity and family relationships. Therefore, children are growing into adulthood without a strong sense of who they are in God’s eyes, their purpose in life, and the proper role and significance of the family. An important way a church can minister to children in the changing culture is training parents to be the primary teachers for their children in these areas. This can be done in a variety of ways, including having a yearly parent training event, inviting a guest speaker on child training, organizing a book study about teaching children at home, hosting a parenting conference, or developing a mentoring program in which older parents coach new parents. No matter the method chosen, here are three key aspects of training parents to

teach their children to thrive in today’s culture.

1. TRAIN PARENTS TO AFFIRM THEIR CHILD’S IDENTITY. Teach parents to affirm their child’s identity—early and often! Teach parents to speak positively about gender distinctives and differences. Help them develop a greater comfort level in discussing gender issues with younger children and answering sexuality-related questions as children get

Teach parents to speak positively about gender distinctives and differences. — Ann Iorg

opportunities for parents to celebrate their opposite-gender child and affirm their child for who he or she is and is becoming.

2. T RAIN PARENTS TO MODEL BIBLICAL FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS. We must help parents understand what the Bible says about family relationships so they can teach and model these truths at home. Hopefully this will reinforce what is also being taught at church. Most parents want to be good parents and good spouses, but many don’t know how to teach these concepts to their own children. Many parents have never had any training in child development and need help knowing what is appropriate for each stage of development. We can help parents by providing training opportunities. We can also reinforce for parents their “on the way” role of teaching children as life happens. In some cases, the church must provide biblical counseling for parents so they can be emotionally healthy and thus give their children an emotionally healthy home.

3. T RAIN PARENTS TO ANSWER TOUGH QUESTIONS. a little older. Ultimately, provide some healthy tools to fully educate older children about their emerging sexuality as puberty nears. Encourage parents to participate with their children in gender-based events like mother-daughter parties or father-son campouts. These are helpful to build a sense of belonging with one’s own gender. They also allow girls and boys to observe a variety of healthy expressions of their gender. Opposite-gender events, like a father-daughter activity or a mother-son outing, can also be helpful. These are


God planned for every child to start out safe and protected in his or her mother’s womb. But as parents soon learn, every child quickly grows up and has to live in a chaotic, imperfect world. Helping our children move from a safe, home environment to the broader sinful world where they will make their impact for Christ is difficult. Children need to come gradually to understand our imperfect world and how to keep it in perspective. As part of this process, they need someone to answer their tough questions and help them make sense out of the messiness of our world. The best Facts & Trends • 41

strategy for helping children survive this transition is steadily, patiently, and honestly answering their questions and addressing their concerns. Teaching biblical ideals is not enough without also helping them process the hard reality the world is far from ideal. Likewise, if we show them only the problems and not the ideals, they accept the problems as normal. When we fail to help children process difficult experiences, we short-circuit their spiritual development and limit their ability to cope with the difficulties of life as adults. We need to let children experience

life, talk with them about the everyday problems they are experiencing, and help them put things into perspective based on the Christian worldview we are trying to develop within them. As a church, we must be consistent in teaching children, training adults, and helping families. The results will be far-reaching into society. God is faithful, however, and will give us the wisdom we need to deal with whatever comes our way. Training children about gender and family issues in the new marriage culture is challenging. But doing it effectively

is essential to assure healthy homes in coming generations. ANN IORG is a contributor to Ministry in the New Marriage Culture, from which this article is adapted. Used with permission from B&H Publishing.

DIG DEEPER •M  inistry in the New Marriage Culture, edited by Jeff Iorg Available at LifeWay Stores and LifeWay.com.

Haven’t been inside a church

since their wedding,

movıe theatre

but they go to the

twice a month.

Do you want to meet them where they already are?

Churches nationwide are experiencing rapid growth beyond the walls of a traditional church building by offering services in nearby and culturally relevant locations, the local theatres. Reach the unchurched by bringing your church to a neutral, comfortable place that is familiar to everyone. Share your mission and your message on the big screen.

A smart growth strategy for church plants, multi-site and relocation. Ready to learn more? 1-800-792-8244 | www.RegalTheatreChurch.com 42 • Facts & Trends

FALL 2016

TECHNOLOGY Technical tools for your ministry

What’s next in church technology? By JOnathan Howe


he technological revolution we’ve seen in churches over the past 30 years is staggering. What’s even more remarkable is the speed at which technology in the church continues to improve.

Simply having a projection screen was once considered a novelty in many churches, and overhead slides were used to project lyrics. Now, multiple screens with video or animated backgrounds are commonplace in our worship centers. Online giving was groundbreaking five years ago. Now, it’s a core function included in every major church management software on the market. Church websites, apps, live streaming, video-based curriculum, and podcasts are but a few of the new ways churches are using technology. And they are almost all assumed at many churches. Of course, many churches do not use some (or any) of these technological advances. And, honestly, neither your church nor mine really needs any of them to function as a church. Countless churches all over the globe with little to no technology are making disciples in ways that would put to shame some of the most technologically driven churches in the U.S. However, many of our churches do use these technologies—and we are always looking for what’s next. So here are seven technological advances churches should watch for in the future. 1. Computerized child check-in. To ensure child safety in the church, computerized check-in will likely become mandatory for churches over the next decade. When parents drop off a child in a preschool classroom, they want to know the child will be kept safe and taught well. Computerized check-in helps with half of that equation. The next point covers the other half.

2. Online leadership training. As our lives become more and more busy, we are less likely to spend hours upon hours in training sessions at the church building. Online leadership training allows church leaders to train in the margins of life on their own schedule. Better-equipped discipleship leaders become more effective disciple-makers. 3. Spotify playlists. A podcast by Mike Harland, director of LifeWay Worship Resources, recently mentioned churches having a core list of songs to know and sing. Spotify playlists allow your members to become more familiar with the songs they will sing on Sundays and to enter into times of personal worship throughout the week. 4. Text-to-tithe. Online giving is now the norm for many church members. But text-to-tithe (my term) allows those who might be unprepared to give the opportunity to worship through the giving of tithes and offerings. People prefer to give in different ways. Churches that offer multiple paths for giving nearly always see an increase in total giving. 5. Video announcements. The biggest positive of video announcements is the ability to control the length and professionalism of your announcements. The biggest drawback is that sometimes people will tune them out. Video announcements are not for every church, but many churches use them very effectively.


The Gospel Project app

6. Online/app delivery of curriculum. We are seeing an increase in digital curriculum at LifeWay. While there will always be a place for printed curriculum, the ability to have your weekly lesson at your fingertips all the time is convenient for many leaders and learners. 7. Environmental projection. This might be the newest thing in church technology. The ability to transform blank rooms into various environments by projecting scenes or graphics onto the walls of the room brings a new flexibility to existing spaces. I have not yet seen this technology used in a worship service, but I have seen videos, pictures, and demonstrations. The results of a well-planned environmental projection display are staggering. JONATHAN HOWE (Jonathan.Howe@LifeWay. com) is director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources. Facts & Trends • 43



aily struggles are expected in the Christian life. We encounter temptations, we get stuck in sin, grief abounds, and we are always confronted with difficult decisions that require wisdom. We are, indeed, people who need daily help for our souls. Pastors, of course, were never intended to carry the burden of pastoral care by themselves. Before Christ, priests and prophets were the go-to counselors, but now the task is dispersed among all God’s people. Pastors are called “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, ESV). Most prominent among this ministry and building up is the way we care for one another’s souls. 44 • Facts & Trends

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God’s Word gives insight into the nature and care of the soul we could never have apart from His revelation. Our approach should capture both the tone and content of the great themes of Scripture. Everything we say should sound better than what anyone could imagine. Our care for each other should go deep yet be elegantly simple. So, how can we build a culture of care in our churches? Acknowledge our own neediness. The best preparation for helping others is to be helped. As we follow Jesus, the church culture aspires to humility, and the most practical way for us to express that is to know our own neediness and ask for help. Nothing could be clearer. We are created, finite, limited in our abilities, sinners, and sufferers. We need the Lord, and we need one another, every day. This is so fundamental to life with Christ that we could define faith as, “I need Jesus.” But it’s harder than it seems. Our corporate goal then is to express Psalm-like neediness to the Lord, and, with that, to ask someone to pray for us. Perhaps we need help with a difficult relationship, power to battle temptation, or to love children with wisdom. That is impossible apart from the Spirit’s work of humility. But imagine a church in which members ask someone for prayer, every day. That alone could change our church culture. Love wisely. Equipped with the Spirit and humility, we realize others also need us. God has been pleased to use the ordinary care of ordinary people to bring extraordinary growth and change in our lives (1 Corinthians 1:20-2:10). So we participate by taking the initiative and moving with love toward brothers, sisters, and neighbors. Once there, we simply ask: How are

you? What could be simpler, yet so important? We will hear about events from the week; we are especially eager to hear how those events affected the person. We listen for joys or sorrows. With the joys, we rejoice and enjoy them together. With the sorrows, we pray. We try to match life with Scripture and consider together what God says to us, and we pray. Imagine that kind of lively interdependence happening after a church service or in a small group. Imagine people moving toward each other, with a special interest in the visitor, the marginalized, the isolated. Imagine people smiling, enjoying one another, being grieved together and praying then and there.

God has been pleased to use the ordinary care of ordinary people to bring extraordinary growth and change in our lives. — Ed Welch

Once we pray for someone, that person is lodged into our hearts. We can’t help but follow up in a day or a week and ask what God is doing. Not many have experienced that kind of love and care. When we receive it, we are inspired to go even deeper in sharing our hearts, and we are inspired to move into the lives of others. It is through these small steps of neediness and love, by ordinary people, our churches become an attractive light to the world. ED WELCH is a Christian counselor with more than 30 years experience. He is the author of Side by Side: Walking With Others in Wisdom and Love.


DIG DEEPER Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Ed Welch Available at LifeWay Stores and LifeWay.com.

Facts & Trends • 45


ways your church can care for orphans



rphan care is for ordinary Christians, not varsity. The Bible makes this clear. But I’m afraid the need overwhelms many Christians before they begin to respond.

At the same time, lone Christians are incapable of living out all of God’s commands. Ministry is a team sport, a community effort. We work together as members of one body. As you pray about what God may be calling you personally to do for orphans, consider the ways your church may be able to accomplish much more together.

1. GIVE, SERVE, AND PARTNER UPSTREAM One of the best ways churches can care for the orphan is to invest collective time and resources into impoverished

ministries that accomplish this work. Check out HelpOneNow.org for more ideas along these lines.

2. INVEST IN ORPHANAGES countries and communities in order to prevent orphans. Some children wind up in foster care, children’s homes, or orphanages because of poverty. We can’t prevent all children from becoming orphans, but we can help many through wise mercy ministry. Organizations can raise money for emergencies much more easily than for development, but if we don’t change structures and create sustainability, then the problems may persist. Churches can mobilize business leaders to create sustainable businesses in impoverished places and partner with

Orphans aren’t always available for adoption. So how can we care for kids who will grow up in an orphanage or children’s home? Perhaps your church can select an orphanage or children’s home to support. Look to serve them by doing construction work, giving financial aid, and supporting the full-time workers. Think about how to make sure the children are being taught well and are learning the basic doctrines of the faith. In supporting orphanages or children’s homes, you may also be able to develop ongoing relationships with the children. Let’s do what we can to ensure these

The Weimer family from Nashville, Tennessee (from left): Izzy, Bethlehem, Micah, Brandon, Simona, Kirk (dad), Dominic, Heidi (mom), Joseph, Selam, Justice, and Bereket. Heidi and Kirk began the adoption process in 2007 while on a mission trip to Ethiopia. Several adoptions and years later, they now have 11 adopted and biological children. 46 • Facts & Trends

FALL 2016


Practical ministry ideas for your church

kids are hearing the gospel, being loved, and receiving the best possible care.

3. P  ROMOTE AND SUPPORT LOCAL ADOPTION AND ORPHAN CARE While we should commend Americans for adopting a number of international children, we need to remember we aren’t the only answer to the orphan crisis. If we want to see orphanages emptied and children in families (where they belong), then we need to think of ways to educate and empower local leaders to create a culture of adoption and orphan care. Some of those ways include trying to impact high schools and universities, training pastors and future pastors in seminaries, hosting conferences, writing books, and influencing business leaders and politicians. In some countries, myths about orphans abound. Some believe orphans are cursed, and to bring an orphan into their home is welcoming a curse. So we must educate. Others don’t think they have sufficient accommodations to adopt. We can help provide financial aid. One agency our church supports, Lifesong for Orphans, reported recently it has helped 140 Ukrainian children get adopted by loving, Christian Ukrainian families. This has effectively emptied an entire orphanage. And the cost for a Ukrainian family to adopt a child is $500, not $25,000 (about the cost of an American adopting a Ukrainian). Perhaps you or your church might financially support such initiatives, after doing some careful homework.

4. ADOPT AND/OR SUPPORT ADOPTION Adoptions in the United States have decreased significantly in recent years. Will you encourage the people of your church to prayerfully consider adopting

children, either domestically or internationally? If the financial challenge is the major obstacle, then consider fostering to adopt. Just remember in adoption it’s important to select a good agency and ask questions. If you’re not able to adopt children, then will you consider supporting others? You might give to various adoption-funding agencies, as our local church does, or you might consider blessing a couple in the adoption process. You may also consider supporting adoptive couples by helping them tutor their kids, or baby-sit to give the parents a date night.

5. P  ROVIDE TRANSITIONAL ASSISTANCE Orphans and foster children who are not adopted often have nowhere to turn when they age out of care. So how do we help? First, churches must strengthen their relationships with orphanages and children’s homes. If churches will invest in orphanages and get to know children, then they can make an impact on these children when they age out. We need to know the kids on a relational level and seek to support them. Further, we must help our Christian businessmen and women get a vision for orphan care. If entrepreneurial leaders will submit to God’s Word and use their resources, then they can make a huge difference in the lives of children. Perhaps you have business leaders in your church who might consider “adopting” an orphanage or children’s home to provide some immediate help. Then, as the relationship continues, they may begin exploring ways to help these particular kids in the future, as they age out of care.


We need to turn our high-capacity leaders loose on this problem of transitional assistance, introducing them to the right people, giving them biblical foundations, and covering them in prayer. We must help and encourage God’s people to steward their various gifts and skills for the good of those in need.

BE WISE AND SPEAK UP When it comes to international orphan care especially, we must be wise. The orphan crisis is complex, and there isn’t just one thing we need to do. If we don’t act carefully, we may even end up perpetuating problems (like human trafficking). If the Lord gives you any influence within your church and your community, use it to speak up for the voiceless. In the Old Testament orphans often had no voice, and God urged His people to treat them justly. The same responsibility falls on us today. TONY MERIDA is pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, and author of Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down, from which this article is adapted.

November 13, 2016 Orphan Sunday On the first Sunday of November, churches worldwide celebrate God’s love for the orphan and how ordinary people can make a difference. Orphan Sunday, sponsored by the Christian Alliance for Orphans, is your opportunity to be a torchbearer for orphans around the world and in your community. By celebrating God’s heart for the orphan, you can reveal the gospel through adoption and/or local or global ministries. For more information, visit CAFO.org/OrphanSunday.

Facts & Trends • 47

ON OUR RADAR Practical resources for you and your church

Books and Bible Studies Detours: The Unpredictable Path to Your Destiny By Tony Evans (B&H)

Detours in life are good things that often feel bad. Evans knows a thing or two about detours. He knows God works through detours to bring you to the place He has created just for you. Yet we often try our own way. Using examples from the life of Joseph, Evans answers questions like: How do you find the destiny God has designed for your life? How can you make the most of the detours God has planned for you? What is the purpose of a detour?

Volunteering: A Guide to Serving in the Body of Christ By Leith Anderson and Jill Fox (Zondervan)

People begin volunteering and serving in church for a host of reasons, but almost every volunteer immediately has ques48 • Facts & Trends

tions and maybe even some fears. Volunteering can be rewarding and exciting, but to serve effectively, you need to understand the why, how, and what of serving others. Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Jill Fox, church consultant with experience overseeing volunteer teams, base their book on principles and training they have used.

I Am Going By Daniel Akin and Bruce Ashford (B&H)

God’s mission is accomplished through His Son’s life, death, and resurrection. He was sent to save us from our sins and to restore His good creation, which has been marred by sin. But what does that have to do with us? In other words, how should God’s mission affect the way we live? He is calling us to go. Akin and Ashford are calling church members to go around the world and across the street with the gospel of Jesus Christ. At Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, they train thousands of men and women to be on mission in every nation of the world, including their own. They wrote I Am Going for individuals and churches to use to call even more to go.

Rare Leadership: 4 Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead By Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder (Moody)

Learning to be a great leader isn’t brain surgery, but two experts say it involves some brain science. Marcus Warner, a pastor, professor, and ministry president, and Jim Wilder, founder of a nonprofit working on the intersection of brain science and theology, examine recent developments that reveal leadership skills are learned in a different way and in a different area of the brain than management skills and academic studies. The book combines real-life examples, biblical wisdom, and fascinating insights into the human mind to help leaders and those aspiring to leadership discover how they can unleash greater effectiveness, authenticity, and joy in personal and professional relationships.

The Christ-Centered Expositor: A Field Guide for Word-Driven Disciple Makers By Tony Merida (B&H)

The Christ-Centered Expositor by veteran pastor and preaching professor Tony Merida provides a comprehensive overview of expository preaching. This one-stop shop for effective expository preaching begins with the inner life of the expositor and then moves to sermon preparation and delivery. Ideal for both those studying for the

FALL 2016

These and other resources are available at LifeWay stores and LifeWay.com.

a session introduction, Scripture passages, commentary, a weekly activities checklist, a Bible reading plan, and devotionals. ministry and those already serving in a local church as a teacher or preacher, this book aims to equip readers for greater faithfulness to God, His Word, and His mission.

Disciples Path: The Journey (LifeWay)

This new Bible study from LifeWay (available November 2016) provides a one-year, intentional and comprehensive plan that shows a Christian how to follow Jesus and then lead others to do the same. Volume 1 focuses on essentials of the Christian life: who Christ is, baptism, prayer, the importance of community and discipleship, and more.

The God Who Goes Before You: A Biblical and Theological Vision for Leadership By Timothy Paul Jones and Michael Wilder (B&H)

When it comes to leadership, there is much to be learned from research and the reflections of marketplace leaders. But without Scripture as the supreme authority, flawed views of human nature and deficient perspectives on God can skew views on leadership. Christ-centered, kingdom-focused vision of leadership must precede any principles of leadership that derive from human wisdom.

Volume 3 emphasizes the importance of Bible engagement, prayer, and Christian community in the life of a believer.

The aim of this book is to provide a foundation for the study of leadership with both feet firmly planted in Scripture. This foundational vision for Christian leadership has emerged from examining the story line of Scripture as a whole, interpreting biblical texts in light of their historical, epochal, and canonical contexts.

Volume 4 focuses on living out the Christian life and how to be a disciple who makes disciples.

Belonging and Becoming: Creating a Thriving Family Culture

Each session of The Journey offers a mix of group discussion, personal study, and practical application. This includes questions for reflection, prayer guidance,

By Mark and Lisa Scandrette (InterVarsity Press)

Volume 2 explores the characteristics of a disciple and central doctrines of the faith.

high-performance, rapid-pace culture, and reflecting on difficulties from our own families of origin only increases our doubts and insecurities. Mark and Lisa Scandrette, parents of three young adult children, understand the challenges and cast a compelling vision of what the family can be in Belonging and Becoming. They offer wisdom from the joys and struggles of their own experience as parents in the ministry and practical guidance for creating a healthy and deeply rooted family culture.

I Am Bible (B&H)

The I Am Bible highlights all the words in the Bible spoken directly by God, with commentary notes to provide further insight into each highlighted verse. The words of God are highlighted in bold black text and the words of Christ are highlighted in red. This unique feature allows the reader to experience the heart of God and identify themes that occur throughout Scripture.

Many feel overwhelmed about the prospect of raising children in our


Facts & Trends • 49

ON OUR RADAR Practical resources for you and your church


2016 Women’s Leadership Forum

Passion 2017

VBS Preview Events

November 10-12, 2016, Hendersonville/ Nashville, Tennessee

January 2-4, 2017, Atlanta, Georgia

January 6-7, 2017, Ridgecrest Conference Center, Black Mountain, North Carolina

Speakers: Jennie Allen, Nicki Koziarz, Trudy Cathy White, Annie F. Downs, Chris Adams, Travis Cottrell (worship leader)

Women leaders can come ready to learn as participants study the unique aspects of each generation and how leaders can bridge the gaps between women of all ages in the church. LifeWay.com/events

Featuring: Louie and Shelley Giglio, Passion Band, Chris Tomlin, Christine Caine, David Crowder, Beth Moore, Matt Redman, John Piper, Hillsong United, Levi Lusko, Christy Nockels, and Francis Chan.

A gathering of young adults, Passion exists to see a generation leverage their lives for what matters most—to live in such a way that their journey on earth counts for what is most important in the end. 268generation.com/passion2017

January 13-14, 2017, Fort Worth, Texas January 26-28, 2017, Hendersonville/ Nashville, Tennessee (three events) LifeWay’s preview events allow leaders to experience the 2017 VBS theme “Galactic Starveyors” a little early. In addition to the in-depth look at the upcoming theme, attendees will have access to breakout sessions to improve their next VBS, learn decorating techniques from the VBS designers, and get preview-only discounts on some VBS items. LifeWay.com/events

FOLKS WE’RE FOLLOWING When a leader fails to address a problem, the problem is no longer the problem. The leader has become the problem. @craiggroeschel 50 • Facts & Trends

The most obvious sign of pride isn’t boasting, it’s a lack of prayer. @bj116 FALL 2016

Practical resources for you and your church

Digital apps

Podcast Facebook Live The new feature of the largest social media network gives individuals (and churches) the opportunity to deliver live video content to a significant online audience. Using a strategic approach, Facebook Live can help churches inform, influence, and engage church members and guests. Before using Facebook Live, consider the following tips: plan ahead, keep videos short, give potential viewers time to join before starting the content, have a purpose, use simple props like printouts and signs, and give the video some personality.

Broadcast by Thom S. Rainer on Facebook Live


KidEvent Pro A customizable church management system, KidEvent Pro supplies churches with a website for volunteers and participants to sign up for special events. Churches can use the online tool to plan and organize an event as well as manage groups, rolls, schedules, emergency contacts, allergy information, and more. KidEventPro.LifeWay.com KidEvent Pro website

Without margin, there is no imagination. @willmancini

The woman who knows what it means to be redeemed lives an entirely different life than the one who isn’t sure. @_angela_thomas #RedeemedStudy @LifeWayWomen


Word Matters Hosts: Trevin Wax and Brandon Smith No matter how long you have been reading and studying the Bible, there are challenging verses that raise hard questions. The Word Matters podcast is designed to help pastors and teachers work through some of Scripture’s most difficult passages. The heart of the podcast features a short discussion between Smith, brand manager for the Holman Christian Standard Bible, and Wax, Bible and Reference Publisher of LifeWay, on a tough section of the Bible. They discuss varying viewpoints of the passage, give their opinions, and frequently invite guests to share another perspective. One of the most helpful portions of the podcast is the conclusion where Wax and Smith outline the best way to teach these potentially controversial biblical passages. hcsb.org/category/podcast

Facts & Trends • 51

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Profile for Facts & Trends

Facts & Trends - Fall 2016 - Second Shift  

Facts & Trends is designed to help pastors, church staff, and denominational leaders navigate the issues and trends impacting the church by...

Facts & Trends - Fall 2016 - Second Shift  

Facts & Trends is designed to help pastors, church staff, and denominational leaders navigate the issues and trends impacting the church by...