Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Barna Study on Social Networking, Online Entertainment, and Church Podcasts

A new study from The Barna Group explores social networking as well as how Americans use digital technology to get the products, services, and content they desire. The research identifies the mainstream - as well as emerging - platforms and practices. Additionally, the Barna study also examines how the Christian community engages with such technologies, including the use of church podcasts.

David Kinnaman, the lead researcher on the project says, "Church leaders have to strike the delicate balance between the spiritual and cultural potential of tech tools without surrendering to the false promise of these tools. Having the means of reaching the masses - for instance, through podcasting - is a good thing. Yet, nothing matches the potency of life-on-life discipleship. In this respect, social networking and blogs can be effective tools to intimately connect with a small, natural network of relationships. The key is using the technology to in a way that is consistent with your calling and purpose, not just an addictive self-indulgence."

Read the complete article now...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Preaching Rather than Presenting

I've just posted a new article that will be my lead for Monday's Pastors Today e-Newsletter. It's by one of my favorite writers, Ken Gosnell.

Ken says, I have found that in order to make a real impact, I have to move past giving a presentation to really teaching people. Here are a few simple principles that I have found to be helpful ...
  1. Create powerful points.
  2. Use real stories.
  3. Write from different of points of view.
  4. Interact with the audience.
  5. Follow the Rule of 12.
You may read his article now...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Essential Church by Rainer and Rainer

I'm reading an advance manuscript for Essential Church? Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts by Thom Rainer and his son, research expert and respected blogger, Sam Rainer. I'm experiencing the same excitement that I felt when I first read the Simple Church: Returning to God's Process for Making Disciples by Thom Rainer & Eric Geiger.

For me, Simple Church was life changing and church changing. In fact, my pastor, Bruce Grubbs (at Gladeville Baptist Church where I serve as a bi-vocational Pastor for Spiritual Growth) asked me to design a staff retreat around the principles contained in Simple Church so we could begin moving in that direction. I did and we did. You may view the staff retreat plan here.

Essential Church asks the question, "Why do so many young adults (18 to 22) leave the church, and what will it take to bring them back?" This issue has been the subject of much study as pastors and church leaders grieve over the loss of so many of their youth and young adults.

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.

I think you will find that Essential Church builds on the call in Simple Church for Clarity, Movement, Alignment, and Focus with equally 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.
But, the book doesn't come out until September! So what should you do?
As soon as possible, we will post an excerpt so you can become more familiar with this great resource.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Download Sample from Jeff Iorg's new book "Is God Calling Me?"

Jeff Iorg is the president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary. He's just published a new book dealing with understanding the call of God.

I've posted a 15-page sample that you can download from the LifeWay online catalog. This sample includes the title page, contents page, and chapter 8: "The Call to Pastoral Ministry." I recommend you order the book and read the sample while you're waiting on the book to come in the mail.

It's a brief (115 pages) book that you will want to have on hand as you help others (or maybe yourself) process and understand the call of God on your life.

Go to the LifeWay online catalog to download the sample then buy the book.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quick Poll: How Long is Your Average Sermon

Most of us have an average length we preach. You may have to ask someone else in your church to find out.

So, About how long is your Sunday morning sermon (excluding invitation)?

Take the poll on the front of the Pastor's Area of LifeWay.com

It will only be active until May 23, 2008.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pastor, Do You Exercise Too Much or Too Little Authority?

I've just posted the second article in our series on Pastor Terminations. We are counting down the top five reasons they happen.

Bob Sheffield says church leaders and members may think that the pastor has a leadership style that seeks to have everything his way. In some instances, this is more reality than perception. Bob says that we pastors walk a fine line between exercising too little and too much leadership authority.

In this case, the number four reason for pastor termination is that "The Pastor's Leadership Style Is Too Strong."

Read five reasons your leadership style may be perceived this way and five ways to guard against it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

LifeWay Research: Economy pinching churches, but giving still strong

NASHVILLE, Tenn., 5/7/08 -- While economists debate how serious America’s economic slowdown really is, Southern Baptist pastors report their members are still giving, in spite of the financial pressures felt by many families.

A new study by LifeWay Research shows that 72 percent of Southern Baptist pastors indicate difficulties in the U.S. economy are affecting their churches negatively, yet 76 percent say offerings are at or above levels they had expected when drafting budgets several months ago.

At the same time, 24 percent of the pastors say offerings are below what they had expected and 27 percent indicate their congregations will not meet budgets if current giving trends continue.

View more information about the study now ...

Economy pinching churches, but giving still strong

For help with stewardship in your church ...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Barna.org Examines Faith of Mormons & Jehovah's Witnesses

I found this research fascinating. In a new study from The Barna Group, they explore "the religious and demographic background of these two groups and show that they differ significantly from the born again Christian population in a variety of respects."

As far as Jehovah’s Witnesses ...
  • Only 7% of Jehovah’s Witnesses meet the criteria for being born again
  • Only one out of every ten of those adults base their hope of salvation on a confession of sins and acceptance of Christ as their savior
As far as Mormons ...
  • Comparatively few Mormons believe that the Bible is totally accurate in all of its principles (32%).
  • A majority believes that a good person can earn their way into Heaven.
For much more information, I recommend you read the full article here ...

Monday, May 12, 2008

David Jeremiah on Hiding from God

I saw this article by David Jeremiah in Baptist Press this morning. I think you could use this for a Wednesday night devotional or develop it into a sermon. Here's an excerpt ...

Dr. Jeremiah asks, "Who is the most famous fugitive in the Bible? Jonah is famous for being the prophet who ran from God, but then ran into God in the depths of the ocean. He discovered there are no hiding places from God.

Then he lists hideouts and hideaways Jonah used to hide from God:
  • Geography
  • Religious prejudice
  • Self-pity
  • Stubbornness
He gets closer to home when he asks, "Have you built any of these in your life?"
  • Work/career/advancement
  • Family
  • Leisure
  • Ministry
His closing quote is, "Be a follower, not a fugitive. Run to the Lord, not away from the Lord. Hide in the Lord, not from the Lord. When the Lord sees you next, may He see your face, not your back."

His original article has much more detail, check it out here ...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Pastors Quick Poll Results: "How Many Close Friends?"

Thanks for participating in last week's Quick Poll question from the Pastor's Area of LifeWay.com: "How many close friends (besides your spouse) do you have?" I'm thankful to God for those who have close friends. Would you pause and pray for those who don't?

Ike Reighard says, "Friendship is a vital part of New Testament ministry and leadership. Without quality, biblical friendships, we are modeling a flawed Christian lifestyle for our church members. Most pastors find themselves in an unhealthy relationship where their wife is their only friend and counselor. If a pastor continues to project his problems onto his wife, she will grow disillusioned and desperate to leave the ministry." He says there are 4 types of friends every pastor needs (developer, designer, disturber, and discerner).

You might also look at Henry Webb's article on the 4 stages of a pastor's ministry (foundation, maturing, multiplying, and legacy). He says, "In addition to the presence of His Spirit, God provides you different people as sources of help as you move through the stages." Read the article and download a free chart which includes a map of calling issues, source of help, educational challenges, major concerns, personal issues, and dangers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Proverbs 31 and the Value of Mothers $116,805

We're planning to take part of each of our three morning worship services tomorrow to thank God for our Mother's. This is what I am planning to share before we offer a prayer of thanks and blessing for moms.

The book of Proverbs has great wisdom for every one of us. It is the Word of God and the wisdom from God for our lives. When these Proverbs were first written, they were intended as guides for young men who need wisdom and knowledge and training especially when it comes to women.

Proverbs 31 is written to young men trying to help them understand the qualities in a woman that are the most valuable and The Message Paraphrase of Proverbs 31:10 says, "A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds." (The Message) But how do we measure the value of a mother?

Are you wondering what mom should be paid for her work as mom? Salary.com has valuated the "mom job" of both the Working and Stay-at-Home Moms! Based on a survey of more than 18,000 mothers, Salary.com determined that the time mothers spend performing 10 typical job functions would equate to an annual salary of $116,805 for a stay-at-home mom. Working moms ‘at-home’ salary is $68,405 in 2008; this is in addition to the salary they earn in the workplace. (see article at Salary.com)

The job titles that best matched a mom's definition of her work are (in order of hours spent per week): housekeeper, day care center teacher, cook, laundry machine operator, computer operator, psychologist, facilities manager, van driver, chief executive officer and janitor.

But Proverbs is saying that a godly woman is even more valuable than that.

There is great pressure that goes along with the fact that moms in 2008 feel that they need to be everything that is listed in Proverbs 31. So I would like to thank God for the mother’s of our church family and I would like to ask God for his rich blessings on each mom here. Would mom’s stand and allow others around you to lay hands on her and I will offer a prayer on behalf of our church family…

Friday, May 9, 2008

Avoid the Top 5 Reasons for Pastoral Terminations, Part 1

I've just posted a new article on LifeWay.com. This is the first in a five-article series where retired pastoral ministry specialist Bob Sheffield will share the top five causes of forced terminations (from the 2006 Forced Termination survey conducted by the Church Minister Relation's Directors network in cooperation with LifeWay Christian Resources) and offer several prevention strategies for each.

The cause he deals with in this article is cause # 5:
The Church Was Already In Conflict When the Pastor Arrived

Bob shares three important but often overlooked facts about this type of destructive church conflict. He then answers the question, "What does a pastor or staff member do to help prevent this type of forced termination from happening?"

Read the article:

Avoid the Top 5 Reasons for Pastoral Terminations

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Warren Barfield "Love Is Not A Fight" Online Video Premiere

In his new song "Love Is Not A Fight," Warren Barfield sings about the importance of staying true to marriage vows.

Love is a shelter in the raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
If we try to leave, may God send His angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

Click on the Warren Barfield video to view it ...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

LifeWay Research: Evangelism Beyond the Church Walls

Unchurched adults interested in finding a congregation aren't nearly as likely to visit one in person as a church member who is shopping for a new congregation. That means effective evangelism must begin outside the sanctuary in relationships between Christians and unbelievers, according to research from several recent studies from LifeWay Research.

My favorite part of the report is the audio interview with Ed Stetzer and Tim Keller

Access the findings and listen to the audio interview with Ed Stetzer and Tim Keller

Friday, May 2, 2008

Don't miss Craig Groeschel's blog post "Try Not to Step Across the Line"

This is a great blog post by Craig Groeschel (Pastor of LifeChurch.tv). His blog is one that I follow very closely. This one was especially true and I think this is a good word for all of us who are teaching/preaching ...

Craig Groeschel says, "Everything you say must be true. But everything that is true doesn’t need to be said." Then he lists several examples (go to his blog post to read all of them)

Here's one example: "If you’re going to tell a story about someone in the church, get their permission first." I think that is true even if you are saying something good about that person. I added the following comment on his blog...
This is a great follow up to your “Take Some Risks” post. I’ve been chewing on that and asking the Lord how I can do that more. As far as this post, I’ve been amazed at how much it raises the tension in the congregation if I cross this line of sharing a personal story about a church member - even if it’s positive. I don’t think it is a good / helpful tension. I’m also amazed at how the tension is relieved if I begin with the statement “I asked Joe if I could tell you about a conversation we had.” I also agree with other commenters about using our children in illustrations. We have an agreement that I have to pay them a certain amount of money if I ever use their name in a sermon without permission. I have the same agreement with my wife, but it involves much more money. This agreement really serves to make me think about the implications of sharing without permission, but I have had to “pay up” several times.

This post "Try Not to Step Across the Line" was a follow up to another one you shouldn't miss called "Take Some Risks" where Craig Groeschel says, "To demystify your pastoral role, you’ll have to take some self-revealing risks." He then offers a few suggestions when revealing personal flaws.

Making Every Day Count: Wisdom for Life from God's Word

I've posted five new sermons by Rick Ezell in Proclaim Online. You may access them on the Pastor's EXTRA! sermons page.

Here are the titles:
  1. The Undeniable Mark of a Champion, 2 Corinthians 4
  2. The Worth of Your Work, Colossians 3
  3. The Secrets of a Healthy Home, Ephesians 6:1-4; 1 Timothy 3:4; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Titus 2:7; 1 Corinthians 14:1; Psalm 127:1
  4. The Incredible Power of Your Words, 2 Samuel 9
  5. The Power of Money, Matthew 6