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.


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."


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."


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.


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."


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