Saturday, December 13, 2008

2 New Christmas Quizes from Facts and Trends - Free Downloads

I'll include this info in the Pastors Today e-newsletter on Monday but I thought some of my readers might want to access them for something going on this evening or tomorrow.

Download two all new quizzes in PDF form courtesy of LifeWay's Facts and Trends Magazine.

Download them, print them out, and challenge your staff, family, or class to a friendly Christmas-themed competition.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We Got our Fireproof Movie Event kit today

I was very stoked when Telena brought me our Fireproof Movie Event kit today. We are planning to host a movie event at Gladeville Baptist Church on Wednesday, January 7, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. as part of our Spring Small Groups Launch night.

We will have tables set up with representatives from all our Sunday morning Bible study groups, our Wednesday night LifeQuest groups, our Home groups, and Affinity groups.

One of the things we're planning to do is offer The Love Dare Bible study in the spring on Wednesdays, Sunday mornings, and in some home groups.

Thank you Lord for great tools like these!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Prayer Letter from My Mom for You to Share

I wish you could all meet my mom and dad. My mom e-mailed a note to my wife, my brother Chuck, his wife, and me this morning. It was encouraging and insightful so I asked her if I could post it here (she said yes).

Here's what she wrote ...
I was praying more intensely than usual for you four this morning. Some of this comes from the difficult day I had yesterday. Yesterday I found myself focusing on all that had to be done during this particular season of the year. The Bible study I did this morning helped me see what was happening. I was studying Matthew 13:1-23. It hit me that I was like the person who heard the Word and understood it then the worries of this world and seduction of wealth choked the truth of God’s Word and my life became unfruitful.

You all have much more on you than I—therefore I am committed to continue to pray that you will focus on Jesus and His Truth and not let the worries of this world and the seduction of wealth choke you.
My mother is the co-author of A Mother's Garden of Prayer and A Woman's Garden of Prayer: Cultivating Intimacy With God Through Prayer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

5 Enemies of Staff Unity

Today in staff meeting at Gladeville Baptist Church I began the meeting by sharing some insights from Dave Ramsey (he shared these at Catalyst '08). He discussed the unbelievable power of unity for a church staff team or any type of staff team.

He stated that few churches or organizations experience real unity and shared five enemies to unity on a church staff team ...
  1. Poor Communication
    Dave stated "when the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, strife sets in"

  2. Gossip
    Ramsey said gossip is when a negative comment is discussed with anyone who can't help solve the problem

  3. Unresolved disagreements
    He said "this happens when a leader doesn't know they exist or avoids confrontation"

  4. Lack of shared purpose
    Dave said "this happens when the leader doesn't restate the goal, the vision, and the mission early and often"

  5. Sanctioned incompetence
    Ramsey defined this as "keeping an inefficient team member because we feel sorry for them"

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Christmas Traditions as Worship and Evangelism Tools

I found this article in a past edition of Let's Worship Magazine and thought it would be very helpful for pastors or teachers as they are dealing with Christmas and the traditions around Christmas.

It's a transcript of an address to a group of ministry leaders.

Here's a quote ...
Sometimes it seems that Christmas is overlooked as an opportunity to share the good news in a way that they may be saved. Much of what we have around us and the trappings of Christmas came because those who preceded us understood that there was an opportunity in the birth of our Lord to communicate even as the shepherds communicated, that we might do what we do not giving offense to anyone, but that people might be saved. But it’s not easy.
Read Christmas Traditions as Worship and Evangelism Tools

And don't miss our Christmas and Thanksgiving Resource Index for links to other articles as well as model sermons and worship helps.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fresh Ideas for Church Thanksgiving Celebrations

Consider a Lord’s Supper celebration and a simple meal.

Other ideas include a Pie Squad Party, a Wall of Thanks, and a Seeking Thanksgiving mystery van trip.

Ideas are from Diana Davis, author of 'Fresh Ideas, 1,000 Ways to Grow a Thriving and Energetic Church.'

Check out these Fresh Ideas for Church Thanksgiving Celebrations

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My New Assignment and Contact Information

Hey Friends

I wanted you to know that in a couple days I will move to a full time role at Gladeville Baptist Church as their Pastor for Vision and Purpose. I will be leading the staff and helping to align our leadership and church family to our vision and purpose. I would appreciate your prayers!

I've been on staff at GBC as Pastor for Spiritual Growth for the past 2 1/2 years in a bivocational role.

My last day at LifeWay is tomorrow (Fri, Oct. 31) but I will continue to send the weekly pastors today e-newsletter and edit the pastors area of lifeway.com on a contract basis.

You can connect with me here ...

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/people/Craig_Webb/526681166

Twitter http://twitter.com/pastorstoday/

Church Website http://www.gladevillechurch.org/

thanks so much!

Craig

Friday, October 24, 2008

15-Page Sample of Let's Worship Magazine

A month ago, I let you know about the eight sermons from Exodus by Calvin Wittman that coincide with the 2009 January Bible Study. I wanted you to know that there are four more sermons on Exodus by Calvin in the Winter 2008-2009 Edition of Let's Worship Magazine (One in the print and three on the included CD-Rom). If you don't already subscribe to this great magazine for pastors and worship leaders I encourage you to view the 15-page sample I posted here.

The sample includes info about the Acts 1:8 Challenge, Calvin's sermon, "Preparing for Service" from Exodus 4:18-26, as well as 13 "Missions Moments" by Trent Butler to call attention to missions anywhere your church serves or sends.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Howard Dayton's Four Steps to Prevent Further Personal Financial Problems

Howard Dayton of crown.org has a simple and practical article on LifeWay.com called Help in a Financial Crisis. Here is an excerpt ...
What we do and allow in moderation, our children will allow and do in excess. - Benjamin Disraeli in an 1865 address before the British House of Commons
Financial problems can be devastating, so it makes good sense for families to practice prevention rather than recuperation. You may feel it's too late to practice prevention, but it's not. In fact, the only way to correct a downward financial spiral is to institute basic, simple, preventive measures in order to counterbalance unbiblical financial practices and to prevent further financial problems. 

Here are four steps

The first is obvious – stop borrowing
"The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous is gracious and giving" (Psalm 37:21).

Scripture clearly indicates that borrowing isn't God's best for His people and should never be used as a routine part of financial planning – especially now.

Start saving
"Precious treasure and oil are in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man consumes them" (Proverbs 21:20).

Today, spending and borrowing are promoted, and saving is discouraged. But God's principles encourage saving for future needs and purchases, rather than borrowing or using credit.

Avoid hasty decisions and ignore pitches such as, "buy now, before it's too late"
"The plans of the diligent certainly lead to profit, but anyone who is reckless only becomes poor" (Proverbs 21:5).

Patience and consistency, rather than quick decisions and looking for instant success, are the ways to financial security. Discipline yourself to work and save to reach a goal.

Develop and live by a budget
"Poverty and disgrace [come to] those who ignore instruction, but the one who accepts rebuke will be honored" (Proverbs 13:18).

Learn to develop and live on a balanced budget – a monthly spending plan. If you don't, chances are that the cycle of debt will continue and could easily worsen. Those mounting monthly payments probably aren't quite as "easy" to make as they are alleged to be.

If Christian families would live by sound biblical financial principles, they would be lights to show others the way to financial freedom. Larry Burkett believed that with consistent teaching and discipline of God's principles, it would take less than a generation to break the financial bondage under which so many Christians live, and free them to fund the work of the Lord.

How to Raise Expectations through a Membership Class

Dan Garland, our Director of Pastoral Ministries and Church Consulting says, "raising expectations begins by clearly communicating the expectations associated with the discipleship process of your church." He suggests the following:
  • Begin by developing a clear, easily explained, and communicated mission / purpose statement.
  • Communicate this mission statement to all the membership.
  • Develop a membership class for all new members.
Dan has written two very practical articles to help you get yours started

Thursday, October 9, 2008

At Chris Ediger's House with Friends 7 People 8 Macs


We are all staying at Chris and Andrea Ediger's House and having a great time. After eating out at Armando's Cuban Restaurant we are back at their house.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Top 10 Ideas for Clergy Appreciation Month

Pastor, I hope you know I appreciate the work that you do. I'm thankful for the opportunity that I and others at LifeWay have to express this by providing strong Biblical resources as well as complimentary articles and free model sermons.

For those of you who are not pastors and want to express appreciation for your pastor, Diana Davis, author of Fresh Ideas, offers 10 Ideas for Clergy Appreciation (includes a free download of a complimentary pastor appreciation worksheet).

Read Top 10 Ideas for Clergy Appreciation Month now and access the free download.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fireproof Movie has a Great First Weekend at the Box Office

I had the privilege of seeing Fireproof twice this weekend. On Friday with the department I work in at LifeWay and on Saturday with fifteen couples from the Church I serve bivocationally, Gladeville Baptist Church.

I had seen the Fireproof movie several months ago in a screening here at LifeWay but I loved getting to see it again through fresh eyes. I was amazed at how Fireproof affected me emotionally even seeing it for a second and third time. I thank God for Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick who are both great story tellers. I thank God for a Pastor Michael Catt, Executive Pastor Jim McBride, and the Sherwood Baptist Church family who gave so much of themselves to bring glory to God in this film.

I received this e-mail newsletter from the Fireproof marketing folks yesterday and rejoiced in the good news ...

You made FIREPROOF the No. 4 overall movie in America this past weekend! In fact, if you look at per-screen average (and Hollywood does), you made FIREPROOF the second-leading per-screen film this weekend.

You puzzled Hollywood pundits and prognosticators. You boggled movie-based bloggers. You showed the movie industry that there not only is interest in good, wholesome films, but there is also an audience for them.

You made an impact. And in case you're wondering, people noticed. This is what USA Today said:

“The surprise of the weekend, though, was the Christian-themed Fireproof. Made for $500,000 and released on 839 screens, the Kirk Cameron drama did $6.5 million and took fourth place.

“Most analysts did not expect the film to crack the top 10, yet it enjoyed the second-largest debut this year for a film opening on fewer than 1,000 screens; the biggest was Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour, which debuted to $31 million on 683 screens.”

After winning the championship game in Facing the Giants, Coach Grant Taylor asks the members of his football team, “What is impossible with God?” To a player, they all answered: “Nothing.”


I hope and pray that you will have the opportunity to see Fireproof, that you will do The Love Dare for your spouse, and that you will consider leading a group through the Fireproof Bible Study that will come out in February 2009 with the Fireproof DVD.

If you are a pastor or bible teacher feel free to adapt this model sermon manuscript by Pastor Michael Catt called Fireproof Your Marriage.

Friday, September 26, 2008

January Bible Study 2009 Sermons from Exodus


At www.lifeway.com/jbs you will find an overview of 2009 January Bible Study (JBS), Living in Awe of God: Studies in Exodus, download samples, and get complimentary JBS 2009 leader and learner guides for your preschoolers and children.

You will also find a link (bottom right hand corner) to eight sermon manuscripts by Calvin Wittman from selected passages in Exodus. The following sermons correspond with the chapters of the January Bible Study (JBS) 2009:
  1. The Forward Movement of God's Plan, Exodus 1
  2. Setbacks in Service, Exodus 4 - 6
  3. The Plagues of Egypt, Exodus 7 - 11
  4. The Exodus from Egypt, Exodus 13 - 14
  5. Walking By Faith in the Wilderness, Exodus 15 - 17
  6. Prepare to Meet Your God, Exodus 19
  7. God Answers Prayer, Exodus 32
  8. Four Essentials of Worship, Exodus 35
Visit lifeway.com/JBS now to access them

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

40/40 Prayer Vigil begins today

The 40/40 Prayer Vigil consists of 40 days of prayer from September 24 to November 2, 2008, culminating in 40 hours of around the clock intercession during the last 3 days of the Vigil.

The Vigil focuses first on personal spiritual revival. It then covers an expanding circle of prayer concerns, from the church to the nation.

For more information and to download a Free Prayer Guide for either the 40 days or 40 hours are here.

Kirk Cameron talks about Fireproof Movie on Today Show



I really enjoyed this interview. I got to be on the set in Georgia when they were filming part of the movie and was so impressed with everyone on the cast. Kirk Cameron was just as you see him in this interview: humble and passionate about God and family.

Remember that you can download a free sample of The Love Dare here

If you are looking for sermon or teaching ideas to follow up viewings of The Fireproof Movie you can access a free sermon by Michael Catt in LifeWay's Proclaim Online ...

Access the free sermon and free PowerPoint now called Fireproof Your Marriage by Michael Catt (Michael is Executive Producer of Fireproof and the Sr. Pastor at Sherwood Baptist Church)

The sermon is adapted from Michael's book Fireproof Your Life. For more information regarding Fireproof Your Life by Michael Catt, visit www.fireproofyourlife.com

Monday, September 22, 2008

Download Essential Church Free for a Limited Time


I was very surprised a couple of weeks ago when David Schrader, over at bhpublishinggroup.com told me they would be offering 'Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts' by Thom and Sam Rainer as a free download for a limited time.

This important book has profoundly impacted the way I view how we are operating in the church I serve, especially as we relate to younger members.

On ChurchLeadershipBooks.com you will be asked to enter your e-mail address (which will sign you up for the complimentary "Church Leadership Books" e-newsletter) and you will be able to download a PDF of all 255 pages of 'Essential Church?'

The download will only be available for a limited period of time so do it today.

Access the complimentary download of 'Essential Church?'

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sermons with PowerPoint Presentations and Sermon Handouts


I usually don't post my sermons in Proclaim Online but I wanted to take this opportunity to show you how I do my PowerPoint, Sermon Handouts, and the Sermon Booklet format I use. I've posted a five-sermon series that I preached in June.

I have published the sermons on article pages but have also linked to .zip files, which include the full PowerPoint presentations for each sermon, PDF and Word Documents of Sermon Handouts, and a Sermon Booklet.

In the PowerPoints, observe how we chose to use specific fonts, font sizes, font colors, and shadows. Also notice the use of bold for words we are stressing in particular scripture references.
In the Handouts we matched the PowerPoint graphics and use similar fonts and styles.
I print my sermons as a booklet using the "bookfold" option in Microsoft Word and use the "manual duplex" option when printing it.

Access everything on our EXTRA sermons page ...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Does New Research Tell Us About the Role of Preaching?

Pastor, in the new book, Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts, Thom and Sam Rainer ask and answer the following question,
Is Preaching Still Important? Their answer is "Yes!"
Even in today's hyper-techno-driven conversational-wiki-culture, preaching is of the utmost importance. Of the several church-related or pastor-related issues noted by dropouts, preaching came up several times as a critical issue in retaining college students and young adults.

Dan Garland, our Director of Pastoral Ministry and Church Consulting pulled together some quotes and research results from "Essential Church?" related to preaching.

View the article Is Preaching Still Important Today?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

LifeWay Research Follow-up poll examines hot topics Calvinism, Speaking in Tongues, Baptism, and Who Makes Decisions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--New research into several questions that often dominate Southern Baptist debates -- from the rise of Calvinism and prevalence of elders in congregations to speaking in tongues and baptism practices -- offers some hard numbers to inform those discussions.

The issues in question, and the results uncovered by the survey, show that Southern Baptists have strong opinions in several areas. LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, conducted the study during the spring among a sample of 778 Southern Baptist pastors.

CALVINISM

LifeWay Research previously reported a rise in the number of self-identified five-point Calvinists among recent seminary graduates. In the new survey, LifeWay Research asked Southern Baptist pastors if they were "concerned" about this increase, asking them to agree or disagree with the statement, "The rise of Calvinism among recent seminary graduates concerns me."

Among Southern Baptist pastors, 27 percent strongly agreed and another 36 percent somewhat agreed with the statement indicating that they were "concerned." Sixteen percent strongly disagreed with the statement and another 17 percent somewhat disagreed. The remaining 5 percent indicated they "don't know."



SPEAKING IN TONGUES

In a LifeWay Research release in 2007, half of Southern Baptist pastors answered "yes" to the question, "Do you believe that the Holy Spirit gives some people the gift of a special language to pray to God privately? Some people refer to this as a private prayer language or the 'private use of tongues.'" In the new survey, LifeWay found that practice is much less common than is the belief in its existence. Among Southern Baptist pastors, only 4 percent said they "personally speak in tongues or have a private prayer language," while 95 percent said they did not and 1 percent "don't know."

BAPTISM

Pastors also were asked about their church's practice of receiving members who were baptized or sprinkled in other churches. The question was, "Our church admits people into membership of our church who have been sprinkled or baptized in the following ways (without requiring baptism in OUR local church)."

A full 92 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism of new members who were immersed after conversion in another church that has the same beliefs as a Southern Baptist church.

If the candidate for membership had been immersed after conversion in another Southern Baptist church, 84 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

If the prospective new member had been immersed after conversion in another church that does not believe in eternal security, 26 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

If the prospective new member had been immersed after conversion in a church that believes baptism is required for salvation, 13 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

If the prospective new member had been baptized by sprinkling or pouring after conversion, 3 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism prior to admittance into membership.

If the prospective new member had been baptized as an infant by sprinkling, pouring or immersion, 1 percent of Southern Baptist pastors said they would not require baptism.

"Baptism is always an important question for a denomination that values baptism so much that the word 'Baptist' is included in their name," said Ed Stetzer director of LifeWay Research. "The results here are interesting. First, there is a small percentage of SBC churches that do not accept the baptism from other SBC (or like-belief) churches. Second, more than one-fourth of SBC pastors indicate they would receive into membership someone baptized in a church that does not believe in eternal security, possibly including such churches as a Free Will Baptist or an Assemblies of God church.

"Finally, and I am guessing most surprising, one-eighth indicate their church would accept a baptism from churches that believe baptism is required for salvation, possibly including such churches as a Church of Christ," he said.

'SOUTHERN' IN THE 'SOUTHERN BAPTIST CONVENTION'

Among Southern Baptist pastors, 7 percent strongly agreed -- and another 20 percent somewhat agreed -- with the statement, "Having the name 'Southern' in the 'Southern Baptist Convention' is a hindrance to the work of SBC churches." Forty-one percent strongly disagreed with the statement while 27 percent somewhat disagreed and 5 percent "don't know."

To further clarify opinions on the denomination's name, Southern Baptist pastors were also asked their level of agreement with the statement, "Having the name 'Southern' in the 'Southern Baptist Convention' is a hindrance to the work of SBC churches outside of the South." As the focus shifted to Southern Baptist congregations outside the convention's historic strongholds, 16 percent of Southern Baptist pastors strongly agreed and 26 percent somewhat agreed, while 29 percent strongly disagreed and 21 percent somewhat disagreed. The remaining 9 percent "don't know."

WHO MAKES DECISIONS

In a related study conducted in 2007 among 405 Southern Baptist senior pastors, LifeWay Research asked, "Which of the following best describes the primary decision-making process at your church?" Among the pastors polled, 42 percent said their church was congregation-led, while 30 percent said their church was pastor-led.

The other options and responses, in descending order of frequency include: Committee- or team-led (6 percent); deacon-led (4 percent); elder-led (4 percent); led by a board or council other than elders (3 percent); staff-led (2 percent); and trustee-led (0 percent). Seven percent responded "other."



Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research, explained, "I think some will be surprised that so few SBC churches actually utilize elders to lead the decision-making process. Southern Baptist pastors primarily see their church as either congregational- or pastor-led.

"For the purpose of this study, pastors indicated who led their church's 'primary decision-making process,' which is not the same as 'final authority,'" McConnell noted. "So some may be pastor-led while still requiring the approval of the congregation or other groups of leaders. In the end, most Southern Baptist churches are primarily led by the congregation or the pastor in their decision-making."

When the survey results were sorted by average primary worship attendance, a significant difference became apparent in the primary decision-making process. The larger the church the less likely they are to be congregation-led. While the congregation may still be a part of the decision-making process in a large church, the leadership of this process shifts toward smaller leadership groups.

In churches with average primary worship attendance of 250 or more, 8 percent identified "staff-led," compared to 2 percent in churches under 250 in attendance. By the same token, only 24 percent of churches with average primary worship attendance of 250 or more identified "congregation-led" as the primary decision-making process, compared to 45 percent of churches under 250 in attendance.

This decision-making question was included in a telephone survey in 2007. The survey provides 95 percent confidence that sampling error did not exceed +4.9 percent. All of the other questions were included in an online survey of 778 Southern Baptist senior pastors in 2008. While the number responding to individual questions varies, the sample size provides 95 percent confidence that sampling error did not exceed +3.5 percent.

Read the article on LifeWay.com

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Does Your Preaching Style Connect with Younger Listeners?


Pastor, I read an article by Pastor Gene Wilkes in the Spring 2008 edition of LifeWay's Let's Worship Magazine that challenged me in several ways. I've posted an excerpt here along with a link to download the full 5-page article. This is part of his explanation
  • A coach approach to preaching invites the preacher to ask rather than tell and listeners to participate rather than force them to absorb facts or daydream during a speech prepared by a preacher
  • A coach approach to preaching engages the participant at the level of his or her own issues and resources with the clear message of the biblical passage
  • Rather than the preacher making one-size-fits-all applications, he invites the listeners to customize what they have heard to their particular needs or goals
It's a big step for me to think about preaching this way, how about you?

Read the excerpt and the full article then share your comments ...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Fireproof Bible Study to Release with Fireproof Movie on DVD


I hope you and your church family have plans to see the new movie, Fireproof, when it releases in theaters on September 26, 2008.

I wanted you to know that we at LifeWay will be releasing a new resource at the same time Fireproof will release on DVD in February 2009. The Fireproof Bible Study: Live the Love Dare Member book and Kit will create a marriage-centered Bible study experience for individuals and couples.

Eight small-group sessions will be based around one or more movie clips from the motion picture Fireproof. It will utilize activities that create community, provide opportunities to dialog about real life in real marriage, explore and apply God's Word, and invite participants into a risky but redemptive journey.

The Fireproof Bible Study: Live the Love Dare Kit will include:
  • The Love Dare Journal (B&H Publishing Group) by Fireproof co-writer and director Alex Kendrick and co-writer and producer Stephen Kendrick
  • The Fireproof Bible Study: Live the Love Dare Member book by Michael Catt, Alex Kendrick, and Stephen Kendrick
  • The Fireproof Movie on DVD
  • Fireproof Teaching Clips DVD
  • CD ROM containing sermon outlines and helps for church planning and promotion
Each group session drives participants toward their weekly reading and application in The Love Dare Journal.

When members of your church family see this movie later this month they will want to find a way to use it as a ministry tool to have long term impact on the families in your community. The Fireproof Bible Study: Live the Love Dare will be an excellent biblical solution.

And, in case you missed it, I posted an excellent sermon by Michael Catt called Fireproof Your Marriage (includes complimentary PowerPoint).

And, in case you haven't seen the trailer of the Fireproof movie ...


Fireproof Teaser Trailer from Mike Stecker on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Video - Brad Waggoner discusses 'The Shape of Faith to Come'

I found this video to be very helpful. In this video, Brad Waggoner discusses 'The Shape of Faith to Come' his soon to be released book (October 2008).

In The Shape of Faith to Come, research expert Brad J. Waggoner and his team measure the beliefs and actions of 2,500 active Protestant churchgoers from across the country against seven key standards of biblical spiritual formation. You may purchase The Shape of Faith to Come here

Friday, August 22, 2008

Downoad Free Sample of 'The Shape of Faith to Come' by Brad Waggoner


In The Shape of Faith to Come, research expert Brad J. Waggoner and his team measure the beliefs and actions of twentyfive hundred active Protestant churchgoers from across the country against seven key standards of biblical spiritual formation:
  1. Learning the Truth
  2. Obeying God and Denying Self
  3. Sharing Faith
  4. Serving God and Others
  5. Exercising Biblical Faith
  6. Building Solid Relationships
  7. Seeking God
The far-from-predictable findings reveal the current state and potential forecast of spiritual formation in the United States. This book will release in mid-October but I wanted you to have a change glance at the table of contents, and read the introduction and part of the first chapter.

Download sample pages here ...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

LifeWay Research 2008 Church Compensation Study: Pastor Raises Beat Inflation ... Barely

Saw this new article by Mark Kelly on LifeWay.com ...

Inflation didn’t eat away all of the average Southern Baptist pastor’s pay increase over the past two years, but it came close – and churches may have a more difficult time keeping staff members ahead of inflation in 2008.

That’s one finding of the SBC Church Compensation Study, a survey of 12,854 staff positions in Southern Baptist churches. The survey was conducted by LifeWay Research, in cooperation with GuideStone Financial Resources and Baptist state conventions through July 1, 2008.

The study also found that almost two-thirds of churches are partially or fully paying for their full-time senior pastor to have medical insurance and that compensation can vary significantly depending on geography, worship attendance and the pastor’s experience and education.

All the data acquired by the study has been compiled into a Web-based tool that will help churches as they begin planning staff compensation packages for their 2009 budgets.

Read the whole article including commentary by Guidestone's O. S. Hawkins and LifeWay Research's Ed Stetzer.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How Not to Leave Destruction as Your Leave

I just read a news text update on my phone: "Russians withdraw from Georgia, leave as much destruction as possible as they go." How I hurt for the innocent people hurt by this conflict.

I thought about how we are tempted to do the same thing when we are backing out of a conflict, leaving a job after quitting or being fired, or leaving a place of ministry.

I was reminded of an article I posted by Pastor Calvin Wittman titled, "How to Leave Your Church With Grace."

If you find yourself in the position of having to leave or wanting to leave very badly and finally getting the opportunity here are a few things to consider.
  1. Recognize that the church still belongs to God and only He can make it what it should be.
  2. Forgive those who have wronged you.
  3. Let your parting words reflect the grace of God not a grudge of the flesh.
Who you really are is best seen in the midst of difficulty. As you leave, even if you are leaving under fire, make a conscious choice to leave under grace.

Read the whole article: How to Leave Your Church With Grace

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What Causes Churches to Grow or Decline?


I posted an article yesterday by Dan Garland (Director of Pastoral Ministry and Church Consulting) as part of his Today's Bivocational Pastor e-newsletter. This excellent article deals with the results from two new studies show that church growth has more to do with internal rather than external factors.

He first reviews some of the findings in The American Church Research Project then compares them to the findings in Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts by Thom Rainer and Sam Rainer.

Look at these findings and read an overview of how Thom and Sam Rainer evaluate some of these key internal factors in Essential Church.

Read What Causes Churches to Grow or Decline?

Monday, August 11, 2008

New 'Connect, Grow, Serve, Go' Knol by Bret Robbe

Bret Robbe, Director of Leadership and Adult Publishing at LifeWay just published a new knol with great information about Connect, Grow, Serve, Go.

The Connect, Grow, Serve, Go knol also includes links to two free webcourses ...
  • LifeSpan Spiritual Development Webcourse
  • Connect-Grow-Serve-Go Webcourse

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Subscribe to E-LifeWay Research Insights and get an advanced copy of Essential Church

I have this in tomorrow's edition of Pastors Today but wanted to go ahead and put it in the blog tonight. I'm really glad LifeWay Research is offering a service like this for those pastors or other church leaders that make good use of solid, current, and helpful research results.

E-LifeWay Research Insights is a twice-monthly email briefing that provides you with the facts you need to make informed ministry decisions. Stay informed, but let us do the work. Each briefing provides exclusive new research, at-a-glance summaries of research from a variety of sources, a deeper look at LifeWay Research studies, and examples of research in use. You may download a sample here ...

The $48.00 annual subscription
includes 24 issues keeping you informed throughout the year. Each issue is sent straight to your email inbox on the 1st and 15th of the month. For new subscribers, we will send a free pre-release copy of Essential Church by Thom and Sam Rainer (limited quantities).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Seven Reasons Speakers Flop by Mark Sanborn

Just saw a good article on Michael Zigarelli's Christianity 9 to 5 site dealing with the reasons speakers flop. It was a good reminder for me. The article is by Mark Sanborn president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc. and author of The Fred Factor

Here are the seven reasons, view the article to read his explanations ...
  1. They disregard time
  2. The have an unclear purpose
  3. The have inadequate preparation
  4. They fail to capture attention
  5. They appear pompous
  6. They are boring
  7. They use false endings

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Four New Model Sermons with PowerPoint Template

I just posted these yesterday on the EXTRA! sermon helps page.

September 2008 - Series, A Changed Life by Steve Andrews

EXTRA! sermons are free sermon manuscripts which follow the themes of the Bible Studies for Life Curriculum Series (BSFL). During September Adults using BSFL will be looking at a unit of study called, “Short Stories, Tall Orders.” These lessons from four of Jesus’ parables in Matthew help adults know how to live in light of the kingdom of God.

See individual sermons for how they relate to the Bible study topic.

Free Download: A Changed Life Sermon Manuscripts, PowerPoint Template, and Images ZIP (1.2 MB .zip file)

Friday, August 1, 2008

PowerPoint Template for Fireproof Sermon

I just uploaded a new PowerPoint template to be used with the Fireproof Your Marriage sermon by Michael Catt. You may access the free Fireproof PowerPoint template here


I had fun working on this and hope it's useful for preaching and teaching. I created one for Facing the Giants last year and it had almost 7000 downloads.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fireproof Your Marriage, New Sermon by Michael Catt


I just published a new sermon by Pastor Michael Catt. Michael Catt has been the Senior Pastor of Sherwood Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia since 1989. In that role, he has served as Executive Producer for all three Sherwood Pictures' films: Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and Fireproof. For more information regarding Fireproof Your Life by Michael Catt, visit www.fireproofyourlife.com

You may view the sermon Fireproof Your Marriage now

You may also visit the LifeWay's Fireproof movie site here

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fireproof Movie: Free Sample from The Love Dare book

One of the central parts of the new movie, Fireproof (in theaters September 26, 2008 and available on DVD in early 2009) is The Love Dare book that Caleb's father presents him when Caleb's marriage is spinning out of control.

When Barbara (my wife) and I went to Albany, Georgia to watch part of the filming of Fireproof, and saw clips of the movie, we both began thinking of ways this amazing film could be used to impact marriages in our church family as well as marriages all over the world.

During a break from the filming, Alex Kendrick, Fireproof Producer, and co-writer with his brother Stephen (Fireproof Director) took us into a side room and asked us what we thought so far. Our questions turned to ministry impact and what resources would be available for pastors and church leaders. Alex felt the same way and shared that this was the vision of the whole team. They hoped that LifeWay would be involved.

I am so proud that B & H Publishing Group (a division of LifeWay) decided to publish The Love Dare and that LifeWay Church Resources will be publishing a small group curriculum in early 2009 that will be out the same time the Fireproof DVD will release.

While I don't have all the information about the curriculum, I want to share a little about The Love Dare book that was written by Steven and Alex Kendrick. Here are the basics ...

"The Love Dare is a 40-day guided devotional experience that will lead your heart back to truly loving your spouse while learning more about the design, nature, and source of true love. Each reading includes Scripture, a statement of principle, the day’s 'dare,' and a journaling area and check box to chart progress."

In the introduction to The Love Dare, the authors lay out the three elements of each chapter.
  1. First, a unique aspect of love will be discussed. Read each of these carefully and be open to a new understanding of what it means to genuinely love someone.
  2. Second, you will be given a specific dare to do for your spouse. Some will be easy and some very challenging. But take each dare seriously, and be creative and courageous enough to attempt it. Don’t be discouraged if outside situations prevent you from accomplishing a specific dare. Just pick back up as soon as you can and proceed with the journey.
  3. Last, you will be given journal space to log what you are learning and doing and how your spouse is responding. It is important that you take advantage of this space to capture what is happening to both you and your mate along the way. These notes will record your progress and should become priceless to you in the future.
I have posted a free 11-page sample of The Love Dare in our online catalog. I encourage you to pre-order copies of the book for every couple in your church.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

How to Celebrate a Church Anniversary

One of my favorite writers is Diana Davis. This article on How to Celebrate a Church Anniversary comes from her book Fresh Ideas: 1,000 Ways to Grow a Thriving and Energetic Church.

We have posted numerous articles/excerpts from this book with Diana's permission and they have all been hits. If you are preparing to celebrate a milestone anniversary in your church (whether it's 5, 5, or 150 years) you'll want to check out Diana's practical ideas in the article How to Celebrate a Church Anniversary

You may also want to check out her newest book, Fresh Ideas for Women's Ministry: Creative Plans and Programs that Really Work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Google Publicly Launches Beta of Knol - a New Web Authoring Tool to Share Knowledge

I'm planning to experiment with Knols in the coming months to post information on Preaching, Pastoral Care, Leadership, Evangelism, and a Pastor's personal growth. Just like a blog, it's free and fairly easy to get started.

Read the Article Introducing Knol

I created a quick Knol on Preaching and look forward to adding content there during the next few weeks. Got any ideas for specific topics you think I should cover?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Free Online Fuel Cost Calculators

Are you thinking about getting a new car to save on fuel costs? Or, trying to see if you need to use public transit? Estimating the cost of gas for a road trip? Here are a three free calculators from dollartimes.com ...
You may also want to check out this page from fueleconomy.gov ...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Quick Poll: What is your church's worship style?

I posted a new quick poll in the pastor's area of LifeWay.com.

It will just be up until Thursday, July 24, 2008 so go to lifeway.com/pastor and be included in this informal survey.

I am aware that there are different definitions for each of these styles and you may not know what constitutes a "Gen X / Postmodern" style of worship, but if it's your style you probably know it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Should We Anoint the Sick with Oil Today?

I'm not sure where you stand on this issue. Anointing with oil is not part of my normal practice. Bruce Grubbs, the senior pastor at the church where I serve part-time on staff (Gladeville Baptist) does this on a regular basis and I think it's very cool.

I posted a new article on this subject by Pastor Harold Dinsmore in the Pastors Area of LifeWay.com.

Pastor Dinsmore believes we are missing a great opportunity if we don't choose to offer the anointing of oil when we pray for the sick. He offers his reasoning as well as five things to consider should you choose to do this.

Read Should We Anoint the Sick with Oil Today?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Christian & Religious Families Happier, Less Likely to Divorce

Excerpted from a BPNews.com article by Michael Foust

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Men who attend religious services regularly are more likely to have happy and stable marriages, more likely to be involved with their children and less likely to divorce, new research says.

Additionally, mothers who attend church weekly are half as likely to have children out of wedlock, the study says.

The research by the University of Virginia's W. Bradford Wilcox analyzed data from three national surveys: the General Social Survey, the National Survey of Families and Households, and the National Survey of Family Growth.

The research also drew partially from data in Wilcox's book, "Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands."

Read Foust's article in Baptist Press: Christian & Religious Families Happier, Less Likely to Divorce

And, read a preview of Soft Patriarchs, New Men at books.google.com or buy Soft Patriarchs at Amazon.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Neo-Nazi Convict becomes Pastor after Transformation

Courtesy of LifeWay.com/News MINERAL WELLS, Texas

Seventeen years of prison and a lifetime of hate, violence and racism is mapped on Steven Neill's body. Druids, swastikas, skulls and symbols of the occult circle and mesh darkly up his arms and disappear into his shirt; the letters "skinhead" are tattooed across the knuckles of both fists. Friedrich Nietzsche's famous phrase – "God is dead" – stands defiantly in black, inked into his wrist.

But God is very much alive to Neill, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Mineral Wells, Texas, and his markings weave a visible testimony of a life transformed.

"These are the roadmap of my life-story," he said unashamedly, running a rough hand up his arm. The tattoos are an easy way to share Jesus, just like Share Jesus Without Fear – the witnessing method that stopped Neill in his tracks and led to his salvation.

Read Neo-Nazi finds freedom in prison by Russ Rankin

Sunday, July 13, 2008

3 Ways to Avoid Church Conflict During Uncertain Times

Wayne Oakes, minister/church relations consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, says uncertain times bring anxiety into the church. When everything around them is changing, Christians often cling to an unchanging local church for security.

So, when church leadership suggests change, the anxious member feels the last leg of security kicked out from under him.

Read this practical article excerpted from BPNews.net by Norman Jameson.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Webcourse: Simple Church - Next Steps


I had the chance to go through the new online webcourse: Simple Church - Next Steps and was blown away by the five practical training videos featuring Eric Geiger (co-author of Simple Church) as well as the PowerPoint training session on Managing Change and Conflict featuring LifeWay Lead Consultant, Barry Campbell.

I plan to purchase this online training for our church staff and other key leaders as we continue to pursue the Simple Church model. I encourage you to buy and complete this webcourse as well.

You will also want to view a video interview with Dan Garland, Director of Pastoral Ministries and Church Consulting here at LifeWay and Scott Kerr. Scott Kerr is pastor of Valley Creek Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. They discuss the process of a traditional church becoming a Simple Church.

How One Church Is Confronting the Danger of Moral Failure

I read an article this morning in BPNews.net titled, Ky. church confronts danger of moral failure and wanted to let you see the letter that Pastor Todd Brady sent to his church family. I am grateful for his leadership and example for the rest of us ...

Dear Church Family:

Churches should trust their leaders. Church leaders should live and provide leadership which is worthy of such trust.

Shivers went down my spine when I read of the minister in Plano, Texas, who was arrested recently in a sex sting after having solicited a minor online and after having driven three hours to meet with what he thought was a 13 year-old girl.

This incident is yet another contribution to the loss of trust and confidence in our society’s church authorities.

Eleven years of ministry with students on a college campus cause me to be acutely aware of the dangers of sexual temptation—particularly internet pornography.

In light of this latest story from Texas, I am thrilled that the pastoral leadership and staff of our church have spoken humbly, and yet definitively, concerning sexual temptation and accountability. It is my desire that you know of our earnestness as we seek to be faithful to God and accountable to one another with our lives and our ministries.

Thank you for your prayers for us. We love you, and it is our joy to issue the enclosed statement – for the good of First Baptist Church and beyond, and for the glory of our great God.

1 Corinthians 4:2,

Sincerely in Christ,

Todd Brady. Pastor
First Baptist Church of Paducah

You may download the resolution they adopted here ...

Here are other articles on this topic ...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Car Talk's "As The Wrench Turns" Premieres this Weekend

My family is a huge fan of the NPR program Car Talk. So, I am stoked to see that they have an animated program featuring Click & Clack, the Tappet brothers.

Here's a summary from the website: Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the didactic duo whose voices grace the NPR airwaves on the ever-popular radio show Car Talk, have moved themselves into the world of animation with the all-new primetime series Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns.

The program takes off from the hit NPR show and follows the on- and off-air escapades of Click and Clack, the Tappet brothers (alter-egos of Tom and Ray Magliozzi) as they try to fix cars, fend off disgruntled customers and seek out increasingly creative ways to goof off. Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns is set at Car Talk Plaza, a fictional building that houses their radio studio and their famed garage in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

You'll have to check your local station for the schedule. Nashville's WNPT Channel 8 says it will be on this Saturday at 6 p.m. central but other stations have it tonight.

Visit their fun website now ...

5-Sermon Series on Jonah Posted in Proclaim Online

I have finished posting the August 2008 Extra Sermons, "Returning to God." This is a five-sermon series from Jonah by Jerry Gifford. The series includes five sermons with the following titles and scriptures:
  1. Six Signs We Need to Return to God, Jonah 1:1-3, 5
  2. God Wants You Back, Jonah 1:4 - 2:10
  3. Returning to God: Confinement, Communion, and Confession, Jonah 2
  4. A Second Chance with God, Jonah 3
  5. A Heartless Prophet, Jonah 4
You will also be able to download the complete series. The download will include both RTF and PDF manuscripts, a PowerPoint template, and three images.

View the Returning to God series now ...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Who Runs the Church?

The final article in our series on Pastor Terminations launched this morning. "Pastor, this is our church and not yours and it is about time you realized this." If you've heard this statement, you know the potential conflict it represents.

"Who runs the church?" and the power and control issues coming from that question is the number one reason for pastor termination. You can help to avoid this by understanding the following five truths about power and control issues and by heeding the following five suggestions to neutralize these issues.

Read The Number One Issue for Pastor Termination: Control Issues Over "Who Runs the Church?"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Long Road To Forgiveness - Kim Phuc


I was listening to NPR on the way home and had my breath taken away by an audio essay that was a part of the, "This I Believe" series. Kim Phuc is best known as the girl in the famous photo of a Vietnam War napalm-bombing attack near Saigon. As I listened, I wasn't sure where she was going but was touched to the core as her story unfolded.

I encourage you to listen to her essay. The uncomfortable part of this story is that this famous photo has her running unclothed away from the napalm-bomb. But this is a powerful story of her coming to know the love of God through reading the Bible. This is how she puts it ...
In Christmas 1982, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. It was an amazing turning point in my life. God helped me to learn to forgive — the most difficult of all lessons. It didn't happen in a day and it wasn't easy. But I finally got it.
You may read or listen to her essay here, "The Long Road To Forgiveness."

Depending on your setting, this would be a powerful illustration for preaching or teaching. Of course you would avoid using the image in your worship service or class room.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

2008 Southern Baptist Convention Compensation Study

The results of the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Compensation Study are now online. Anyone can access the results and run free reports. This is valuable information for churches who are evaluating how they compensation their staff. It is also valuable for pastors and church staff as they evaluate their own compensation as it relates to their age, experience, and education as well as other important factors like church attendance and the church's budget.


An electronic survey questionnaire was carefully designed by an advisory group representing Baptist state conventions, LifeWay Christian Resources, and GuideStone Financial Resources. The questionnaire was accessible via the internet from January 7 through April 15 of 2008.

Authors of the study suggest you use the “Customized Study” menu option. It “cuts through” many apparent differences in data and gives you data for churches most like your own in size and financial resources. It is also important to use all state conventions when preparing a customized report. . This gives you the broadest possible database and provides the most accurate information for your church.

In the FAQs on the site, it is reported that there are at least five advantages to this study:
  1. It is uniquely Southern Baptist. All 13,020 responses included in the survey are for ministers and employees of SBC churches.
  2. It is free. The participating state conventions LifeWay Christian Resources, and GuideStone Financial Resources pay all costs.
  3. All reports are available on the Internet.
  4. Most compensation studies provide reports based on attendance, budget, etc. The customized report option is unique to the SBC study. This makes it possible to get compensation data based on churches most like your own by combining criteria.
  5. Every survey form received is evaluated for valid, useable data and over 20 data integrity filters are used on the data before study results are compiled.
Access the 2008 Southern Baptist Convention Compensation Study now ...

Monday, June 30, 2008

Ed Stetzer and LifeWay Research Say Pew Research Got it Wrong

NASHVILLE, Tenn., 6/27/08 – In the second major release from their U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, the Pew Forum states that "70 percent of Americans with a religious affiliation say that many religions – not just their own – can lead to eternal life." The detailed findings (available at: http://religions.pewforum.org/reports) indicate that 57 percent of those attending evangelical churches also agree that many religions can lead to eternal life. Only 36 percent chose the alternative, "My religion is the one, true faith leading to eternal life."

However, some have expressed concerns about the way the question was asked. "The Pew Forum accurately reported the question they asked and accurately reported the responses they received, but I do not think that led to an accurate portrayal of evangelicals," said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Terry Mattingly of the Scripps Howard News Service and the GetReligion.org blog wrote, "I am being a bit picky here, but I suspect that if you asked a lot of people that Pew Forum question today, they would think of the great world religions. But many Christians would think more narrowly than that. Not all. Not many, perhaps. But some. What is your religion? I’m a Baptist, a Nazarene, an Episcopalian, a Catholic. Can people outside of your religion be saved? Of course. This is not the same thing, for many, as saying that they believe that salvation is found outside faith in Jesus Christ."

"I believe the Pew study is directionally right in pointing out that a surprisingly small number of self-identified American Christians believe in the exclusivity of Christ as a means of salvation, and therefore, getting into heaven," explained Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research.

"But the way they worded their question may have had some impact; many people think of ‘denomination’ when they hear ‘religion,’ so it isn’t that surprising that a Lutheran could think a Methodist would also go to heaven or a Catholic could think that a Protestant would go to heaven," said McConnell.

Stetzer cautioned, "When we define evangelicals as not just those who sit in pews but who agree with certain evangelical beliefs, we find a different picture than was widely reported in the news about the recent Pew study."


Read the full press release: Are Evangelicals Really Universalists

Simple Church Author's New Book & Event: Essential Church

I featured this in my newsletter (Pastors Today) but wanted to make sure those of you who follow the blog saw it. I've also blogged about Essential Church? before but I have added an extended preview download of the book in our online catalog.

Download a 28-Page Sample of Essential Church ...

Here's an overview of the book:

"Why do so many young adults (ages 18 to 22) leave the church, and what will it take to bring them back?" This important question is examined and duly answered in Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts, a follow-up to Thom S. Rainer's best-selling Simple Church co-written this time with his son, research expert Sam Rainer (check out Sam's excellent blog Church Forward).

Essential Church? is based on a study of one-thousand so-called "church dropouts" who were interviewed about why they left. Their answers are quite surprising, having less to do with "losing their religion" and more about the desire for a community that isn't made stale by simply maintaining the status quo. In turn, Thom Rainer and Sam Rainer offer churches four concrete solutions toward making their worship community an essential part these young people's lives again:
  • Simplify - develop a clear structure and process for making disciples.
  • Deepen - provide strong biblical teaching and preaching.
  • Expect - let members know the need for commitment to the congregation.
  • Multiply - emphasize evangelism, outward focus, and starting new churches.
Thom Rainer and Sam Rainer will also be leading a strategic retreat experience (February 26-28, 2009 at the Ridgecrest Conference Center) to bring pastors and church staff members together to explore the Essential Church message - reclaiming a generation of church dropouts.

Get Essential Church Retreat details now ...