Monday, March 31, 2008

New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released from Barna

March 31, 2008 (Ventura, CA)

Most Americans get married at some point in their life: just one out of five adults (22%) has never been married. Among those who have said their wedding vows, one out of three have been divorced at least once, according to a new study from The Barna Group.

Marriage Is the Norm

In addition to finding that four out of every five adults (78%) have been married at least once, the Barna study revealed that an even higher proportion of born again Christians (84%) tie the knot. That eclipses the proportion among people aligned with non-Christian faiths (74%) and among atheists and agnostics (65%).

Divorce Is Widespread

Among adults who have been married, the study discovered that one-third (33%) have experienced at least one divorce. That means that among all Americans 18 years of age or older, whether they have been married or not, 25% have gone through a marital split.
Read the entire report ...

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Sermon Handout: Uses, Abuses, Ideas, and Samples

I had great fun putting together an article and 10-page download dealing with sermon handouts. I posted it this afternoon in Proclaim Online on LifeWay.com

I attended a conference almost thirteen years ago where I learned the value and the method of a sermon handout. I still use a handout almost every time I preach, but lately I have some reservations:
  • Some who might take more detailed notes only fill in the blanks on my outline.
  • Many people have stopped bringing their Bibles to church.
  • I get in a rut with how I create these sermon handouts.

This past year I have been experimenting with some new ways of using this valuable teaching tool. I would like to share some of the methods and principles along with some sample handouts that I have used recently.

Read the article and get the free 5-page PDF download

Fireproof movie Garners Multiple Endorsements from Marriage Advocates

ALBANY, Ga., March 27, 2008 - "Fireproof," the new action/relationship film from the creators of "Facing the Giants" and "Flywheel," releases this September from Sherwood Pictures and Provident Films. Already the movie is uniting marriage advocates from across the U.S.

National groups such as Focus on the Family, Outreach, FamilyLife, The Marriage CoMission, America's Family Coaches, AMFM, Marriage Alive Communications, and MarriageToday endorse the movie and are urging their constituencies to see it. Influencers such as marriage expert Gary Smalley and Bubba Cathy of Chick-fil-A are also working to spread the word.

It's no secret that U.S. marriages are in crisis. The U.S. Census Bureau and marriage organizations vary on the stats but agree that nearly half of all weddings lead to divorce—with rates highest in the Bible belt. Some 25 percent of U.S. adults divorce at least once; and given the abundance of poor marriages, many couples skip it outright.

"Fireproof" mirrors the problems of many marriages, in this case through a firefighter whose high-stress job spills into his home life. Hitting on pain points common to married life—from indifference to insults to emotional affairs and internet porn—the story opens with a couple's disintegration.

"Most movies are about relationships that lead to marriage," Michael Catt, of Sherwood Pictures said. "'Fireproof' picks up seven years into a marriage headed for divorce. And the question is: Can a cold marriage revive? Why stay together?"

Given that firefighters have one of the nation's highest divorce rates, "Fireproof" also has the support of many firefighters and related organizations. John White, former head of the Los Angeles Fire Department's Search & Rescue Team, is urging firefighters across the country to see it.

A Sampling of Endorsements...

Bubba Cathy, Chick-fil-A:
"Since I had the privilege of visiting the 'Fireproof' set, I've been this movie's biggest fan. On top of a powerful message and the potential to change lives and marriages, this is one great movie!"
Scott Evans, Founder and CEO, Outreach, Inc:
"We all know marriages inside and outside the church are in trouble. Fireproof the movie finally provides the church a powerful and relevant way to address the need and provide hope and healing through Jesus Christ. I would encourage every church to do a Fireproof Your Marriage message series and outreach."
Dr. Jeff S. Fray, Chair, The Marriage CoMission:
"The time has come in America when the devastating impact of divorce and the breakdown of the family are un-masked. [This movie's] challenge to 'never leave your partner behind' brings to us a dramatic experience of the power of sacrifice and forgiveness in restoring hope for a strong, lifelong marriage. I expect this film will save marriages that are faltering, enrich good marriages, and give all viewers more confidence that great marriages can be a reality."
Bob Waliszewski, Director, Focus on the Family's Plugged In
"[After] a few days of filming, I was most impressed with how [directors] Alex and Stephen [Kendrick] began the day with prayer and a short teaching from the scriptures. The clips have gotten me excited about the potential of this film, first, to present the Gospel, second, to give hope to struggling marriages. And third, to say to those struggling with addictions that the cycle can be broken."
Dennis Rainey, President, of FamilyLife
"'Fireproof' is going to do more than entertain and stir hearts when it comes to movie theaters (this fall). This is a movie that will impact couples in a profound way for decades to come."
Sherwood's aim to "reach the world from Albany, GA" rides on first-rate entertainment packing powerful messages. Its first movie, "Flywheel," explored business integrity. "Facing the Giants" tackled personal fear and failure. Now "Fireproof" asks what makes a true hero. "This movie is about fireproofing your most important earthly relationship," Executive Producer Jim McBride said. "Our hope and prayer is that people will be touched by the story of Caleb and Catherine and commit to fireproofing their marriages—no matter what state those marriages are currently in."

For more information about "Fireproof," how individuals and organizations can get involved, and in what theaters the movie will open, stay current with www.FireprooftheMovie.com

Where to find job descriptions for ministry

I was working from home yesterday before attending the funeral of a friend and co-worker. I was working at our dining room table across from my sweet wife, Barbara, when I got the following RightNow (our online help system) question from a pastor:
I am trying to find sample job descriptions for paid staff in a small to medium SBC church (e.g. Pastor, Youth Minister, Church Secretary, Financial Secretary, Minister of Music, Instrumentalist, Sound Technician, etc.)
I figure if one person asks, it must be on other people's minds as well. Here's what I posted for him:

First, I suggest you get a copy of Career Crossover: Leaving the Marketplace for Ministry, by Tom Harper. It has some of the best job descriptions I've seen as a part of the Appendixes starting on page 144. These are better than any I have seen online. I have a sample of the book posted in our LifeWay online catalog.

If you're looking for a site where churches have shared their job descriptions, our friends over at ChurchStaffing posted a bunch here. They have 200+ job descriptions for you free of charge.

As far as unpaid ministry positions, these articles on lifeway.com are very helpful and practical.
The final source is from Arkansas Baptist Convention, Church Committees & Officers Job Descriptions. These include 21 job descriptions are available to download with permission to print for your church’s use.

Please feel free to post other online sources you know of in the comments area below...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When and how to use film clips in sermons and teaching

Just got an e-newsletter from movieministry.com (they help pastors and others use movies as a way of reaching out to others with the Gospel of Christ).

The person behind this website it Dr. Marc Newman. He has an excellent article in the articles section of the website that has excellent advice for using movie clips in sermons. This one deals specifically with the placement of clips.

Read From Cinema to Sermon: Using Movies to Illustrate

What are your most important relationships?

And, how would God answer that question for you?

A new study from the Barna Group got me thinking about my most important relationships. You can read their study results in Americans Identify Their Most Important Relationships.

Their study showed that "people’s most important personal relationship is not with God. Family surpassed their Heavenly Father as the key personal connection. However, when asked to identify the most important group or network in their life, colleagues from their church topped the list, mentioned by three out of every ten adults."

I hope that if you asked God about my most important relationship He would say, "Craig's most important relationship is with me." I'm afraid some days He might say, "Well, Craig is a little wrapped up in himself and his own little world today." Ouch.

It would be very interesting if Barna or LifeWay Research were able to ask God these types of questions:
  • What is captivating the thoughts of your followers?
  • How much time do your followers spend talking to you?
In any case, I'm praying that God would be the most important relationship in my life. I know that when He is number one, that all other relationships are better.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Reality of Jesus' Resurrection

This article is courtesy of Biblical Illustrator Magazine and is outstanding material to strengthen your Easter message.

In this article, Beeson Divinity School's Jerry Batson asks,

  • How did first-century Christians come to believe in the reality of the resurrection?
  • How did this belief change their lives?

He says that answers to these questions are as important to us as they were to them. Batson presents the following evidence of the reality of Jesus' Resurrection:

  • Resurrection Appearances
  • The Christian Movement
  • The Uncommon Life
  • The Early Confession
  • Changed Lives

Access this complimentary article now...

View our Easter Resource Index for more last minute help...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Easter PowerPoint Template

I created a new PowerPoint template to go with the Easter sermon that I posted earlier this week. I have set it up so you could use it with any sermon. I used an image that portrays Jesus as Light of the World.

Access the PowerPoint here ...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Movie from 'Facing the Giants' Creators: 'Fireproof'


Barbara and I had a chance to attend part of the filming of this very exciting motion picture that will release this fall. So, I was very excited when Marc Harper with SermonCinema.com called me last Thursday to let me know that the Fireproof website would be live this weekend.

We at LifeWay will be providing sermons resources and well as a lot of promotion for this great movie which will bring to light many of the key issues men and women are dealing with in their marriages. In the meantime, become familiar with this new movie from the church staff at Sherwood Baptist Church, Directors Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick and Executive Producers Michael Catt and Jim McBride.

Visit fireproofthemovie.com now and watch the trailer and learn more about the film.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Easter Sermon, I Am The Light, John 8

I found an excellent Easter sermon by Frank Lewis in Let's Worship Magazine and found out that not only did they print the sermon but they included three audio messages on the CD-Rom that comes in the back of each issue. I really like that they are doing this. They include audio interviews, children's worship bulletins, PowerPoint templates, and this type of sermon audio content.

I wanted you to see the quality of the sermons and the audio that Let's Worship has, so I got permission from them to post both the manuscript and the audio in Proclaim Online.

This model Easter sermon by Frank Lewis is based on John 8. The sermon actually sets up the Lords Supper Observance. In the sermon, Frank says, "When Jesus claimed to be the light of world, He was making a claim to be the Messiah. The Jewish ears in the audience when Jesus said this would have really perked up, probably much more so than our ears.

You may view the manuscript and download either a PDF version exactly the way it appeared in the magazine or an RTF version which you may open in a word processor. You will also find a link to listen to the entire sermon audio.

View Easter Sermon, I Am The Light, John 8

Snow in Nashville on Saturday

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Palm Sunday Sermon

I've posted the Palm Sunday sermon I preached last year.

I hope it will give you some ideas as you prepare for your Palm Sunday services. You can download the manuscript, PowerPoint presentation, and listen to the audio. I used a video clip from The Nativity Story to portray the volatile political situation at the time of Christ's birth. I did this to help our church family understand the type of Messiah people were looking for as Jesus entered triumphantly into Jerusalem.

Monday, March 3, 2008

New Sermons based on Get A Life! book

I posted 5 new sermon manuscripts along with a PowerPoint template in Proclaim Online. I featured this in Pastors Today but wanted to make sure you saw it.

These sermons are by Pastor Brett Selby, a Transitional Pastor and Leadership Development Specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, and are based on Reggie McNeal's book Get A Life: It IS About You.

Brett decided to use some of the principles of the book in a sermon series geared towards both leaders in his church as well as other Christians who were seeking to know how they fit in God's plan. The book and this series are built around five questions:
  1. Why Am I Here? Jeremiah 29:1-14
  2. What Is Really Important to Me? Philippians 3:7-14
  3. What Is My Scorecard? 2 Corinthians 10:12-18
  4. What Am I Good At? Matt. 25:14-30; 1 Cor. 12:4-11
  5. What Do I Need To Learn? Proverbs 1, 4
This series will serve as the Extra sermon series for April. View it now...