Friday, September 30, 2016
Thursday, September 29, 2016
“In a missional decision, every action and ministry function is done with a focus on the mission of Christ.” Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 2:10 PM
Effective organizations build their own leaders instead of only buying them. Effective organizations develop people to deploy against their mission, that is to say, they take the people they have, develop their capacity, and hand increasing amounts of responsibility to them. Much more than any organization, a local church should excel at developing and deploying people. And they must be developed and deployed for the mission of God. Embedded in the Christian faith is a history of multiplying, a command to make disciples, and a promise that our mission will not be thwarted. Sadly, many churches struggle to develop leaders. Here are four warning sign. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 2:05 PM
So how do you engage older church attendees… say people over age 50?
The question’s been around a long time. And—as most church leaders could tell you—it’s a bit of a loaded question.
It’s also a question I’m hearing again and again, particularly from churches that are doing a great job reaching young families. Some leaders want to know how to keep older members engaged, especially when a church is doing a great job reaching young families. Read More
It's very odd, the whole signs-of-the-times thing. Many conservative Christians are deeply opposed to astrology, for very good reasons, but get terribly excited about astronomical phenomena that seem to tie in with biblical prophecy. You can't have it both ways, surely: either the stars and planets do foretell the future, or they don't.
The latest event to get prophecy-watchers excited is Friday's Black Moon. This is when there are two new moons in a calendar month (a blue moon is when there are two full moons). And you can't actually see it, because it's dark; the sunlit side of the moon is facing away from the earth. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:44 PM
Donald Trump’s smartest political move this year was issuing his list of prospective Supreme Court nominees. This is the ultimate “trump card” (pardon me) for white evangelical voters, it seems. Franklin Graham spoke for many when he suggested recently that the only thing at stake in this election is the future of the Supreme Court. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:40 PM
Another church in China has been issued with a legal notice to quit Christian activities in the latest of a spate of actions against house churches.
The house church in Sichuan province has been ordered to stop meeting under rules that govern religious gatherings. The church has been subjected to a clamp down because its pastors are not government-appointed and it is not an officially-licensed church.
Similar action has been taken recently against other house churches in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Anhui and Henan provinces. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:35 PM
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Small churches may be the most overlooked, under-appreciated and underutilized asset on earth. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Over one billion people choose to worship Jesus in small churches.
But the astonishing power of small churches is not just about the numbers. It’s about strategic placement.
This is where our small size becomes our advantage.
Small churches have found their way into every corner of the world.
Laws don’t stop us, distance can’t limit us, and lack of funds won’t discourage us.
In places where Christianity is illegal, our size makes us invisible. Where people have no transportation, our size makes us accessible. Where land is expensive, our size makes us affordable.
Small churches are not a mistake to be fixed or an obstacle to overcome. We may be God’s greatest tool to reach the world. Especially when we join forces with our big- and megachurch brothers and sisters. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:08 PM
When options are plentiful
I am often asked how to know if the plans we make are God’s will for our life. I’m not referring to which cereal to have for breakfast. For the most part I think God would simply say choose your favorite (and, like a good parent, try to steer you to a healthier option). I’m talking about those life-altering decisions, such as career choice, relationships, or decisions requiring huge steps of faith.
Most of us want to do God’s will, and yet, as I view Scripture, God seems to give us a tremendous amount of freedom to choose the paths in our life. If you’re like me, you’re fully capable of making a mistake. I’ve made many doing things my own way.
It seems easier for me when I have some sort of structure through which to process a decision. Years ago I began to ask myself questions when facing major options in my life.
Here are 5 helpful questions I often ask myself to help discern God’s will.... Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:02 PM
Going to church every week, week after week matters. If we know Jesus, we should desire to be with his bride. For all those who believe, have a church home, but don’t attend consistently, I’m writing for you. If you’re one of those spotty non-attenders, I’m writing to you in love but also in truth. Come home! Regular church attendance is not just good for the ministry; it’s good for your soul, and for mine.1
So why is regular church attendance so important? Here’re seven reasons.... Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 2:57 PM
The State of Theology: A Poll of Eternal Significance
Over the next few weeks Ligonier Ministries web site will be publishing a series of articles highlighting and helping to interpret the key findings of the Ligonier-LifeWay State of American Theology 2016 Study. Learn More
Evangelicals' Favorite Heresies Revisited by Researchers
Reprising their ground-breaking study from two years ago, LifeWay Research and Ligonier Ministries released an update today on the state of American theology in 2016. Read More
Ligon Duncan on Why ‘No Creed But the Bible’ Is a Lousy Creed
What does it mean to be a confessional church? When making our case for a particular doctrine, is it fine to reference our confession of faith, or would it be best to just stick to Scripture? Isn’t the Bible enough for Christians in establishing our doctrine and practice? Should we demand church members subscribe to a particular view of a third-level doctrine? Read More
Seven Areas Where Pastors Have Failed at Reading Minds
Thom Rainer: "Hardly a week goes by where pastors do not share a story with me about their failure at mind reading." Read More
Crossway Reverses Decision to Make ESV Bible Text Permanent
Amid much public debate, publisher says strategy for a 'stable' Bible was a 'mistake.' Read More
Nine Debatable Thoughts about Contemporary Evangelism
Anyone interested in reaching people for Jesus has to face the reality that culture is changing dramatically – and we have to respond by considering our methods and approaches to evangelism. I understand that reality, but some of the current thoughts about evangelism are worthy of debate. Let me know your thoughts about these positions. Read More
Half Of Scots Say They Aren't Religious
Figures showing further decline in the number of Scots who say they are religious do not represent the full picture, the Church of Scotland has insisted. Read More
Christian Author Philip Yancey: Trump 'Stands Against Everything Christianity Believes
Evangelical author and speaker Philip Yancey has slammed pastors who support Donald Trump, saying he is "staggered" that Christians see him as a hero. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 2:42 PM
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
This is the first in a five-part series that will dramatically alter the way we see small churches and their kingdom potential.
ore than one billion people choose to worship Jesus in small churches.
Yes, you read that right. One billion plus.
This has massive implications for the church, the world and how small churches see their role in the kingdom of God.
So many implications, that I’ll be writing about them in a five-part series, starting today. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:36 PM
Most churches have them. “Sacred cows,” that is – those traditions, programs, etc., that no one would dare criticize or change because they’re engrained in the institution. Here, though, are some options for dealing with a sacred cow in your church. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:31 PM
I believe that leading volunteers is truly a great test of one’s leadership. In many ways, leading volunteers is the ultimate test of one’s ability to lead others. When I interview someone, I don’t only look for their work with “paid staff”; I pay close attention to their history leading volunteers. I have hired people from the local church to lead large teams at LifeWay because I believe their ability to build and lead teams of volunteers would easily translate into leading a team. On the flip side, many leaders in companies are only able to direct people because of positional authority and title and not because they are able to influence people toward a compelling direction. Here are three reasons leading volunteers is a great test of one’s leadership. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:23 PM
One of the greatest areas of insecurity for pastors is preaching.
I love it. It’s like candy to me. This formerly quiet, introverted kid LOVES to preach. But in nearly 20 years of ministry, out of my insecurities, I’ve struggled with letting go of the pulpit.
I’ll admit, I’ve gotten way better at this. I love to hear our staff speak, whether it’s through preaching, small group or music. They are gifted with their voices and styles of presentation.
But I look back at many past years of ministry to students and adults and, quite frankly, I feel I deprived them. I gave them one voice. Some call it being “protective of the pulpit.” I understand that, and I do protect who’s preaching in our church. But let’s call it for what it really is: insecurity.
Here are four reasons why the senior pastor shouldn’t preach every Sunday. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:20 PM
The Church of England is heading for growth, according to a leading Christian evangelist.
Church attendance has suffered steady decline for decades and latest figures published earlier this year showed it dropping below one million for the first time.
However, there are indications that the decline is slowing and possibly even reversing, especially in iconic churches such as cathedrals.
The slowdown in decline coincides with the launch of the Archbishop of Canterbury and York's Renewal and Reform programme to find more people to train for the ministry as well as to encourage church growth. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:07 PM
Monday, September 26, 2016
Many people are saying it’s been a tough decade for evangelicals. The media says that Christianity is in great decline. The media, and some Christian authors, predict doom and gloom.
While the research isn’t as doom-and-gloom as people are saying, I do think we are in challenging times. The last 10 years have brought us to that reality. There have been a few distractions along the way. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:52 PM
If churches could speak, what would their words be on their deathbeds?
You don’t have to wait until a church closes its doors to hear some of the sentences that led to its death. Indeed, these three sentences, or something similar to the words, are pervasive in too many churches. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:45 PM
It’s easy for us to shield ourselves—not consciously, not maliciously—but nevertheless, to pass on the other side in order to remain unaware of the pain and the spiritual hopelessness that is around us. That was not the way of Jesus. He looked for the pain. He searched for lost people. That was the first step in redeeming them. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:42 PM
Here are 5 simple tips that can definitely make you a better communicator before you give your next talk. They’ve definitely helped me. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:36 PM
A true defense of the Christian faith has never been more needed than now, but an attempt to rescue Christianity from its dependence upon Scripture is doomed to disaster. Read More
The Church Needs the Bible
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:31 PM
We live in a technological age that is rapidly changing how we do business, banking, education, and on and on. Certainly there are disadvantages of being constantly in touch with everyone who demands our time and attention, and the anxiety caused by information overload is evident in the harried, hurried lives we live. Only the future will tell whether the ever-increasing velocity of new developments is new and better or simply “fast and furious.”
Missionaries and missions administrators have had to adjust to innovations just as much as every other field. More often than not it is the new missionaries who are introducing agency administrators to new developments, who must then decide whether the new ways are better or worse. In the book, Changing World, Unchanging Mission, I discussed contemporary global trends and changes and their missiological implications. As I have continued thinking about technological changes, seven developments are worthy of further consideration for the ways they have changed the way we do missions. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:26 PM
Saturday, September 24, 2016
The Christian church has been a cornerstone of American life for centuries, but much has changed in the last 30 years. Americans are attending church less, and more people are experiencing and practicing their faith outside of its four walls. Millennials in particular are coming of age at a time of great skepticism and cynicism toward institutions—particularly the church. Add to this the broader secularizing trend in American culture, and a growing antagonism toward faith claims, and these are uncertain times for the U.S. church. Based on a large pool of data collected over the course of this year, Barna conducted an analysis on the state of the church, looking closely at affiliation, attendance and practice to determine the overall health of Christ’s Body in America. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 9:31 PM
I think the whole concept of faith is one of the most misunderstood ideas that we have, misunderstood not only by the world but by the church itself. The very basis for our redemption, the way in which we are justified by God, is through faith. The Bible is constantly talking to us about faith, and if we misunderstand that, we’re in deep trouble. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 9:28 PM
4 Church Finance Mistakes and How to Fix Them
Poorly managed church finances can hurt a pastor’s ability to shepherd church members and reach the local community. Read More
10 Ways to Quickly Derail a Meeting
A derailed meeting is a costly meeting in time, productivity, energy level, and has long-term impact on the culture. Read More
Reasons Emotional Intelligence Wins When Choosing Leaders
In recent years, more attention has been given to “emotional intelligence” (EQ) than intellect (IQ). Read More
Lay Aside the Weight of Moodiness
Living in a fallen age, in fallen bodies, in which our fallen natures vie with our regenerate natures for control, we unfortunately cannot avoid the plague of bad moods. Read More
5 Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed
In this day and age, feeling overwhelmed is all too common. For some, it has become a way of life. They cannot remember when they did not feel like their plates were beyond full. Read More
The hidden hours of ministry: Personal godliness
Here are six ways that unattended sin weakens our ability to serve God in public. Read More
Why the Church Can’t Replace the Family
Connecting Church and Home: How to create a grace-based partnership between the church and family. Read More
How Can The Church Thrive In A Non-Christian World?
If our churches have to be a little more uncomfortable to us insiders in order to reach even one lost soul for Christ, that’s a sacrifice we should all be willing to make. Read More
Prepare and Share - Helping You Share Your Story
Here are four (4) quick tips that will help you prepare your story and give you confidence to share it. Read More
The Endgame of Secularism
The story of the rise of secularism is the story of a stunning intellectual and moral revolution. Read More
Anglican 'Church' For Conservative Christians Launches Mission In England
Anglican 'Church' For Conservative Christians Launches Mission In England. Read More
Relentless Decline Of The US Episcopal Church Continues
The US Episcopal Church has lost nearly ten per cent of its members in just five years, latest figures show. Read More
Why The Church Has Got To Start Caring About Persecuted Christians
Surprisingly, Eddie Lyle – president of Open Doors UK and Ireland – says North Korea is not actually the most difficult country for Christians to live out their faith. He gives that title to Nigeria, where he says the Church "is facing its Gethsemane". Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 9:00 PM
Friday, September 23, 2016
No part of the Old Testament seems more foreign than those sections that detail God's laws for Israel. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 12:37 PM
Thursday, September 22, 2016
In my previous post, I gave two reasons why some Christians resist the term “cultural engagement.” For some, the term is too broad to be effective. There isn’t an overarching ‘culture’ for us to engage. (I affirmed yet questioned that objection in the previous post.)
For others, the term is a slippery slope to worldliness because we are tempted to water down the distinctive doctrines of Christianity in order to become more palatable to society. Or, we are tempted to replace the message of a shameful and bloody cross with activity around a noble and popular cause.
This objection deserves further attention, and I want to respond to it in greater detail in this post.
How do we avoid mission drift as we seek to “engage the culture” or “serve the world” in which God has placed us? Read More
2 Reasons Why Some Christians Resist the Term 'Cultural Engagement'
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:26 PM
The timeless question, “Which do you want first, the good news or the bad?” seems one never easily answered. It all depends on the mood of the hearer, really–somehow determined by whether or not he or she is prepared to hear or accept either the good or the bad. Gospel proclamation–evangelism–is the same way. It is dependent upon the Spirit to prepare the hearts of the hearers to receive it. Yet we believers do not have the luxury of sharing it or not. It rests within the identity of Christians as Ambassadors of Christ, compelled by Christ’s sacrificial love for us, to reconcile others to God (2 Corinthians 5). We proclaim the Good News because we’ve been reconciled and cannot hold it in. In this article, Zane Pratt expounds on what it means to evangelize, or share the Good News across cultures with those who’ve not heard. This article is the first in what will be an ongoing series on cross-cultural evangelism. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 3:17 PM
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
The presumption that small churches don’t grow is false. Some grow numerically. Most grow spiritually. Many grow in both ways.
When you run a website, as I do with NewSmallChurch.com, you get to see the search terms people use to find it.
That question is one that pops up all the time. So today I’m going to take a stab at answering it. But before I offer my answer, I’m going to challenge the premise of the question:
The presumption that small churches don’t grow is false.
Small churches do grow. Some grow numerically. Most grow spiritually. Many grow in both ways.
It’s just that when they grow numerically, we don’t call them small churches any more. We call them medium, big or megachurches.
Where do we think all the big churches came from? Those frogs started out as tadpoles. Asking why small churches aren’t growing is kind of like asking “why aren’t there any big small churches?” Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:10 PM
Most churches need to change at some level, but many leaders don’t know how to lead through change. In some cases, leaders who have tried to lead have been defeated when change doesn’t occur. Maybe these simple steps will help encourage leaders who face these situations.... Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 1:03 PM
And, 5 Suggestions to Motivate Them
I’ve learned in leadership – you can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn or grow personally.
Perhaps you’ve tried. I have. I see one of my jobs as a leader to help people grow – learn new ways to do things better, more efficiently, to improve as individuals – and ultimately, as a team. I’ve at times been worn out, however, trying to help some people develop. At times, it seems they want to keep doing things the same way – sometimes even keep making the same mistakes. They never seem to seek out – certainly not embrace – new or better principles to their life.
This is not only in leadership. It’s true with all of life. There are seasons we aren’t very teachable.
I’ve discovered the reasons someone isn’t willing to develop individually may not always be the same. In fact, there may be several reasons. Read More
What is sin? One definition is that sin is anything within me, or an action produced by me, which fails to bring glory to God (Romans 3:23). Whenever the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of your heart to see your sin, it is healthy to turn to the Scriptures to fill your mind with truth. One of the most helpful portions to deliberately meditate on is 1 John 1:8-2:2. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 12:55 PM
1. Calvinism is not a system of theology that denies God’s universal love.
While there are some Calvinists who do deny God’s universal love for all men, this is certainly not a necessary or a central tenet of Calvinism. Calvinists do, however, believe that God has a particular type of love for the elect (an “electing love”), but most also believe that God loves all people (John 3:16). It is a mystery to Calvinists as to why he does not elect everyone. (More on this here.)
2. Calvinism is not a belief that God creates people in order to send them to hell.
Again, this is not representative of normative Calvinism. While supralapsarians do believe that God creates people to send them to hell, the majority of Calvinists are not supralapsarians. (More on this here.) Read More
A few years ago, I ran across a comic strip in which one of the figures says, “Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Yet those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it.” This comic is a humorous, albeit somewhat cynical, play on the well-known quote by the American philosopher George Santayana (1863–1952), who wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is a well-known and widely used quote because there is much truth in it. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 12:44 PM
A study of 250 congregations suggests that youth and young adults want substance rather than style.
An enthusiastic group of 20-somethings from Immanuel Church of the Nazarene in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, recently gathered to share what they love about their congregation. One noted the modern worship music and relevant messages at Sunday morning services. Another said the spiritual depth of the community challenges her to follow Jesus. Still another mentioned the friendships built during a mission trip.
When one 22-year-old offered her two-word answer, every head nodded. It wasn’t the name of a program, but a person: Bill Wallace. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 12:39 PM
5 Unfair Myths About Megachurches It’s Time To Bust
The logical issues alone with slamming large churches are riddled with problems. But it’s even deeper than that. Read More
8 Signs You May Be Doing Ministry in Your Own Power
I’ve been studying spiritual warfare for more than twenty years, and I’ve watched the enemy mow down believers, leaders, and churches with sin, false teaching, and division. I’ve also seen the enemy attack leaders in a surprising way: that is, by enticing us to operate in our own power rather than God’s power. He wants us to be like the disciples in Mark 9, who tried to cast out a demon without praying – thus operating in their own strength. Read More
3 Important Ways Ministry Leaders Care for People
While expressing love for people in a ministry means distributing care through others, and not feverishly attempting to meet every need, a loving ministry leader wants the people to be cared for. Here are three actions ministry leaders must take to ensure people are cared for... Read More
Five Categorical Lies about Pastors
Thom Rainer takes a look at five common lies circulating about pastors. Read More
3 Keys to Sharing Your Faith on Social Media
“Think before you post—because someone is always listening.” Read More
The State of the American Church: What the Numbers Are Telling Us
Ed Stetzer: “Research data gives us a realistic picture of our health—rather than the overly optimistic view we’d prefer.” Read More
Baptist Christian leaders condemn religious liberty report as 'moral disaster'
Leading Baptists have condemned a US report advocating peaceful co-existence between religious groups and "non-discrimination principles". Read More
Most Germans fear the 'Islamisation' of their country, says poll
Nearly six in ten Germans fear the Islamisation of their country, according to a new poll published by a leading Christian organisation. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 12:27 PM
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
It’s easy to think only large churches with big staffs and significant budgets can reach young people. The truth is they are. But new research shows they’re not the only ones. Kara Powell shares brand new research on how average churches with few staff and little money are reaching young adults in the same way large churches are. Listen Now
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 8:04 PM
8 time-tested principles of church planting
There are few phrases more frequently spoken in church and mission circles than “church planting.” There also are few subjects around which ministry mavens work harder to be distinctive. Some tout valuable methods that are of a contextually limited scope, while others like David Garrison’s Church Planting Movements (2004) seem to capture the essential elements of transcultural movements.
One of the really interesting things about the new methods, and even of very helpful research-based analyses like Garrison’s, is how “back to the future” so much of it is. Roughly a century ago people like Henry Venn, Rufus Anderson, and John Nevius became the modern apostles of “indigenous principles” of church planting, perhaps better known today as the “three-self principles.” In spite of many significant 20th century successes for these principles (places like Korea and Ethiopia come quickly to mind), this idea that new churches ought to be established that are self-governing, self-supporting, and self-propagating has not received good press in recent years. There are several reasons why this is so. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 7:59 PM
One of the most profound challenges for Christians as we live in an ever-more-hostile world is how to properly defend the faith against the incessant attacks against it. And these attacks have taken their toll. We have seen far too many casualties over the years as people leave the church because they had doubts or questions that were never answered. Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 7:53 PM
Monday, September 19, 2016
It’s one of the biggest lies in churches.
Of the thousands of on-site and virtual consultations I have done, it is the most common sentence I hear from church members:
“We are the friendliest church in town!” With rare exceptions, it’s just not true.
We surveyed guests who visited the church and found a dramatically different perception. Their most common comment is:
“The people at that church aren’t very friendly.”
So how do so many church members have such a disconnect with reality? I see six common reasons.... Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 12:20 PM
In almost 20 years of studying churches in North America, never have I yet found an evangelistic church that was not led by a strongly evangelistic pastor. Here are some general characteristics I’ve seen in these pastors.... Read More
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 12:14 PM
Contrary to popular wisdom, good preaching has little to do with eloquence, fashion, or the length of a sermon. Good preaching is all about content and posture. By content, I mean, "What is the message about?" and by posture I mean, "How is it about it?" Film critic Roger Ebert has said that a movie is not what it is about but how it is about it. In other words, what makes a movie bad or good is not mainly what it's about but how it presents its content.
Similarly, a preacher can preach on nearly any subject found in the Scriptures so long as he does so in a Scriptural posture. Good preaching goes with the grain of the Bible. So we are not flippant where the Bible is not flippant. We are not angry where the Bible is not angry. We smile where the Bible smiles, and we yell where the Bible yells. (Some preachers only preach smiling sermons or angry sermons, which shows they aren't really preaching the Scriptures faithfully.) Good preaching is dependent on content (the Scripture's words) and posture (in their Scriptural sense). That is what good preaching is.
But what is preaching itself?
Lots of theologians and ministers define preaching in different ways, but I tend to think that preaching is proclamation that exults in the exposing of God's glory. Read More
The Mystery of the Gospel
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 12:10 PM