Monday, February 29, 2016

What Are the Top Evangelistic Churches Doing That Mine Is Not?

What’s In The Gap? What Makes The Difference?

I'm interested in what's in the gap. What is the difference? And to what degree is the difference tied to leadership?

Here’s why I go to the leadership factor. How is it that one church struggles to grow under a particular pastor and then, when he resigns, another pastor comes to lead the church to sudden and rapid growth?

What does one pastor do differently from another? Is it even something the pastor does? Did the church actually change?

These are questions worth asking. If we can discover what’s in the gap we can then train other pastors in principles that grow their church and help them reach people for Christ. Read More

Also see
The Pastor Factor in Top Evangelistic Churches

7 Ways To Grow Church Attendance By Increasing Engagement

In an era of declining church attendance, how do you grow your church and advance your mission?

Well, one key is this: you turn ordinary attenders into passionate champions of the mission. Not convinced? I outlined 5 reasons why engagement will drive almost all future church growth in this post.

For too long, too many North American Christians have thought that sitting passively in the back row to get fed is what’s required of them, or that the main goal of finding a church is to attend one you ‘like.’

The goal of any Christian should never be to find a church you like and sit in the back row. The goal should be to fully engage the mission.

Again and again, it’s engaged Christians who advance the mission.

Engaged people are passionate people. They know what the mission is. They serve in it. They live it out.

They’re passionate enough about it to invite their friends.

Over the long term in a church, you can accomplish more with 300 engaged Christians than with 3000 disengaged attenders.

The disengaged group will dwindle. The 300 engaged Christians will advance the mission and never stay the same.

Yes, only God can bring growth. But he uses people who are engaged to do it.

So if you were going to drive engagement at your church, how would you do it?

Here are 7 ways. Read More

Two Strategic Drifts in Churches and How to Address Them

Organizations and churches drift away from their identity and mission. Without constant care and godly leadership, drift pulls a church from her core message and mission. A church doesn’t drift into greater health or better focus.

We drift as individuals in the same manner. We don’t drift into physical fitness or spiritual growth. We drift away from those things, not toward them. D.A. Carson wrote, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.”

In terms of strategy and mission, there are two common and related drifts that plague churches. Read More

12 Simple Steps for More Effective Small Church Planning Meetings

Since planning meetings are harder to do in a small church, it’s even more important to make them matter.

I’m a big believer in planning. But I’m not a fan of meetings.

Yet planning requires meetings. So what’s the answer?

We can do more effective planning by having more effective meetings.

In fact, when the meetings are more effective, we can usually have fewer of them. That’s what I call a win-win. Read More

4 Pieces of Advice for My Younger Self

What we learn along the way can help those who've yet to live it

What advice would you give your younger self? Thinking through that question can allow a new generation to learn from the journey of those who have gone before and have the scars to show for it. Read More

Russell Moore: Why this election makes me hate the word ‘evangelical’

It wasn’t even intentional on my part. I just noticed a few weeks ago that I had stopped describing myself to people as an “evangelical.” I had begun, subconsciously, to say that I am a “gospel Christian.” When I caught myself doing this, I wondered why and the answer wasn’t long in coming.

The word “evangelical” has become almost meaningless this year, and in many ways the word itself is at the moment subverting the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Part of the problem is that more secular people have for a long time misunderstood the meaning of “evangelical,” seeing us almost exclusively in terms of election-year voting blocs or our most buffoonish television personalities. That’s especially true when media don’t distinguish in election exit polls between churchgoers and those who merely self-identify as “born again” or “evangelical.”

Many of those who tell pollsters they are “evangelical” may well be drunk right now, and haven’t been into a church since someone invited them to Vacation Bible School sometime back when Seinfeld was in first-run episodes.

The other problem is the behavior of some evangelical leaders. I have watched as some of these who gave stem-winding speeches about “character” in office during the Clinton administration now minimize the spewing of profanities in campaign speeches, race-baiting and courting white supremacists, boasting of adulterous affairs, debauching public morality and justice through the casino and pornography industries.

I watched one evangelical leader pronounce a candidate a Christian, though he explicitly states that he has never repented of sin, because he displays the fruit of the Spirit in job creation. That’s not a political problem; it’s a gospel problem. Read More

Saturday, February 27, 2016

ACNA and Conservative Lutherans Report Progress in Talks

By Robin G. Jordan

Participants in the interdenominational dialogue  between the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and two conservative Lutheran bodies, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS),and Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC), have released an interim report in which they claim  that they have reached “significant doctrinal agreement.” What was particularly surprising about this report was its focus on the Anglican Formularies as the supposed basis of this agreement.

The ACNA in its constitution and canons equivocates in its acceptance of the authority of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion and dilutes the authority of The Book of Common Prayer and Ordinal of 1662 to such a degree that it is negligible. In its own Ordinal, its Catechism, and its proposed Prayer Book, it distances itself from both the teaching of the Holy Bible and the doctrine of the Anglican Formularies, aligning itself with the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church on a number of key issues. Why then did these talks focus on the Anglican Formularies?

The answer in part to this question is found in the report itself, in its particular interpretation of the Anglican Formularies. For example, the report claims on the basis of the First Exhortation of the 1662 Communion Service that Anglicans and Lutherans are in agreement on confession and absolution. This, however, is far from the case. Anglo-Catholics and Lutherans may be in agreement but Evangelicals and Lutherans are not.

Whether auricular confession was a doctrine of the Anglican Church was a bone of contention between Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals in the Anglican Church in the nineteenth century and is one of the issues that historically have divided the two schools of thought. Nineteenth century Anglo-Catholics argued that auricular confession was a doctrine of the Anglican Church on the basis of the First Exhortation in the 1662 Communion Service. Evangelicals pointed out that Anglo-Catholics were misinterpreting the exhortation, not taking into consideration its historical context and the intent of its authors. They were also disregarding what was the received interpretation of the exhortation, that is, the minister of God’s Word, after the individual with the unquiet conscience had opened his grief to him, did not absolve him of his sins but showed him from the Holy Scriptures that if he was truly penitent and trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, God forgave his sins. He was absolved of guilt.

From its own formularies it is quite evident that the ACNA mishandles the Anglican Formularies in one of three ways. It ignores them. It misinterprets them or misquotes them. It makes selective use of them, citing them when they appear to support its doctrinal positions on key issues. Its proclivity to mishandle the Anglican Formularies explains in large part the focus of the talks on the Anglican Formularies.

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion take a Reformed view of the sacraments, recognizing only two sacraments—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. It does not regard absolution as a sacrament but as a corrupt following of the apostles. The 1662 Prayer Book also embodies a Reformed view of the sacraments. Both the Articles and the Prayer Book reject the Lutheran view that Christ is present with the consecrated bread and wine. While the nineteenth century Catholic Revival and twentieth century ecumenical and liturgical movement may have caused some Anglicans to take a realist view of Christ’s presence in or under the forms of bread and wine after consecration, this view is not the view of the Articles or the Prayer Book. It is not the view of authentic historic Anglicanism. It is not the view of Anglicans who stand in the heritage of the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement.

The ACNA, however, is not representative of authentic historic Anglicanism in its teaching and practices. It is unreformed Catholic.

Like the talks between Anglicans and Roman Catholics in the twentieth century, the talks between the ACNA and the LCMS and LCC gloze over important difference between Anglicanism and Lutheranism. While the positions they may agree upon may be acceptable to Anglo-Catholics, they are not to genuine Evangelicals.

As the late Peter Toon pointed out, the Lambeth Quadrilateral was a recommendation of the 1888 Lambeth Conference. It was a proposal for the reunification of the Anglican Church with the Roman Catholic Church. It is binding only on those provinces of the Anglican Communion that adopt the recommendation.

Anglicans are historically divided on whether the adoption of the episcopate is essential to closer relations between denominations. Anglo-Catholics maintain that it is. Evangelicals insist that it is not.

Anglo-Catholics view apostolic succession in terms of a particular succession of bishops and the transmission of the grace of the Holy Spirit tactually from one bishop to another. Evangelicals, however, view apostolic succession as a succession of doctrine. They point out that God confers the grace of the Holy Spirit upon whomever He wills. They view as a needless barrier to closer relations with other denomination the Anglo-Catholic insistence upon their adoption of the episcopate.

The release of this report serves to divert the attention of ACNA members away from the problems and weaknesses of the denomination. This announcement of progress on one front helps to keep their mind off the lack of progress on other fronts. But which is more important—developing closer relations with two other small denominations or spreading the gospel and making disciples? A very large segment of the North American population does not know Jesus Christ. They face a Godless eternity.

Typically denominations that focus on ecumenism are denominations that are not reaching and engaging the unchurched. Here in western Kentucky only a very tiny segment of the population is Anglican and Lutheran. The diminutive size of this population segment says a lot. It suggests that the energies of the leaders involved in these talks might be put to better use. It also suggests that the denominations in question might need new leaders. The top evangelistic churches have evangelistic pastors. The top evangelistic denominations have evangelistic denominational leaders.

What Church Planters Want You to Know

What is a church planter?

A simple definition of a church planter is one who plants (or starts) a new local church. That leads to the question, "What is a good definition for church?" The word "church" originally comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which is defined as "an assembly" or "called-out ones." The root meaning of "church" is not that of a building but of a people.

Beyond just a Greek definition of the word, the New Testament model of the local church is a group of people who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior and live out the Great Commission.

So, to combine these ideas, a church planter would be one called by God to start a new movement of people who commonly trust in Jesus and are faithful disciples of Him. Read More

Revitalizing Church—Steps to an Outward Focus

Churches must understand—and move toward—an outward focus.

If we aren’t preparing people to engage in God’s mission to the world, we are preparing them to fail in that mission.

Many leaders realize their church is plateaued or declining. Most don’t like it, but struggle with how to break the cycle. How does a church come out of the tail spin? One solution is for the church to develop an outward focus. God didn't design churches to be healthy by only looking to ourselves and meeting our own needs. Read More

Photo credit: Christianity Today

How Should the Gospel Relate to Culture?

The question of how to relate the gospel to culture is a question about how to express the gospel message in genuinely cultural and authentic terms while at the same time maintaining the purity of the gospel. Speaking of gospel and culture in the African context, Kato says,
Culture as a way of life must be maintained. It is God’s will that Africans, on accepting Christ as their Savior, become Christian Africans. Africans who become Christians should, therefore, remain Africans wherever their culture does not conflict with the Bible. It is the Bible that must judge the culture. Where a conflict results, the cultural element must give way.”[1]
In relating the gospel to any culture, it is good for the preacher to have an objective, which in this case is to make the gospel relevant without compromising the purity of the gospel. Read More

5 Strategic Misconceptions About Multisite

Recent estimates suggest that as many as 8,000 U.S. churches are utilizing a multisite strategy. I’m confident we’ll see that number increase in 2016. On one hand, I’m excited to see more and more churches taking steps to expand into new communities. On the other, I’m afraid that many churches are considering a multisite strategy prematurely.

The reason? Leadership teams often misunderstand the actual purpose of multisite. Here are a few strategies for which it is often mistaken.... Read More

Also see
Now More Than 8,000 Multisite Churches

The Pastor Factor in Top Evangelistic Churches

We have been told for years that everything rises and falls on leadership.

Yet, when many churches look to see what’s working and what isn’t, they rarely look to leadership.

They blame a variety of external things and circumstances that excuse the leader, the pastor, from being the issue. Read More

Weekend Roundup: "The Brand and Value of a Church" and Much More

The Brand and Value of a Church

What’s in a name? For churches, it could be more than you think. Read More

Seven Lies You’ve Been Telling Yourself About Church

Church is not about your enjoyment of the service but your enjoyment of Jesus Christ. Read More

7 Steps to Move Members into Ministry

Sam attends his church faithfully every Sunday, but he is not involved in doing ministry through his church.... How do you move members like him into ministry? Read More

The Word Made Flesh - The Ligonier Statement on Christology

We confess the mystery and wonder of God made flesh and rejoice in our great salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Read More

Affirmations on Expository Preaching

Danny Akins lists 12 personal theological affirmations he have made throughout his ministry about what he describes as "the wonderful responsibility of preaching the Word of God." Read More

How to Give Your Pastor Sermon Feedback (and How Not To)

Pastors don’t hear much about the sermon. Here then is my plea to you, consider providing regular, thoughtful feedback to your pastor. Read More

Recovering an Emphasis on Prayer

How can we as evangelicals recover the emphasis on prayer in worship that our Reformed forebears understood? Let me mention some ways. Read More

5 tips for enjoying the church prayer meeting

When Christians don’t pray in public, we lose something—the unique privilege of showcasing to all who gather with us, the extraordinary and unique relationship between Christians and their heavenly Father that Jesus Christ has opened up. Read More
Does your church have prayer meetings?
Should Christians let Muslims use their buildings?

...should Christian churches ever be used for Muslim prayers? Read More

Resist 'civilization jihad,' NRB speakers urge

The U.S. government has been unwittingly complicit with a "pre-violent" form of Islamist attack on the West known as "civilization jihad." Read More

Christianity is extremist, according to almost half US non-religious adults

Almost half of non-religious American adults consider Christianity to be extremist, according to a new study by the Barna Group. Read More

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Ancient Rock of Christian Religion

How old is the doctrine of justification by faith alone? Was it just invented at the Reformation? Was it the brainchild of Martin Luther or John Calvin?

Well, the Church of England’s official view on that subject is that justification by faith alone is an ancient doctrine—taught by the Bible itself and found in the best theologians of the early church in both East and West. So despite what some today might say, it is not a mere “distortion due to the heated atmosphere of the time.”

Indeed, as the Homily of Salvation says, it is an absolutely vital doctrine at all times. As you can see in today’s extract.... Read More

Continually Washed by the Gospel

Right after you were born, the blood and vernix on your body was washed off by a nurse or even your mom or dad. Have you taken a bath or shower since the day you were born? Of course you have. Our bodies continually become dirtied, requiring new cleansing. It is the same way with us spiritually. Even after we are born again by the Spirit of God (John 3:1–8), we continue to sin. We have to be washed for the first time by Jesus, but He also continues to wash us of our sins. Read More

The Key to Leadership: Seven Articles

3 Weaknesses That Hurt Your Leadership Effectiveness

One common denominator of weaknesses is that leaders are embarrassed to admit them. Read More

7 General Suggestions for Handling Stress in Life and Leadership

The world is stressful. And, as I view the world, it is not getting any easier. There seems to be little relief in sight. If anything, life seems more stressful today than even a few years ago. It may be getting worse – not better. Read More

7 Specific Suggestions for Dealing with Stress in Life and Leadership

Stress is very much a part of life. Having traveled to many cultures, however, I think we may sometimes “specialize” in stress in America. It almost seems we look for ways to bring more stress in our life. Read More

Don’t Make Important Decisions Late in the Day

Over the course of a regular day, everyone’s mental resources get taxed, research has consistently shown. Thus, as the day wears on, whether you like it or not, you become increasingly fatigued and consequently more likely to underperform on work tasks. Cognitive fatigue in a very common condition that results from sustained engagement that taxes your mental resources. This seems obvious, right? Yet the vast majority of people often overlook cognitive fatigue, despite the fact that it influences their choices and behaviors in profound ways. Read More

My Advice to Leaders: Leave Before You Have To Leave

Here’s some advice I’ve learned watching people in organizations over the years. I’ve seen it in government, business, and, sadly, far too often in the church. Some people stay too long. Read More

Pessimists Can't Lead: 7 Ways to Find Optimism

Don’t imagine you energize others by reminding them they fall short. Negative leaders bring up opportunities in ways that make people feel like losers. “You should have been doing this all along.” Read More

8 Ways Leaders Spend Their Time After Hours

Have you heard the old proverb, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” or worse yet, heard it said about you? If so, you might be spending too much time at work and not enough time playing. Without time off from work, people can become both bored and boring. Read More

Equipped to Preach the Word — A new online resource by David Jackman

Check out this exciting new resource - free from the Proclamation Trust.
The purpose of this series of videos and accompanying manuals is to put resources into the hands of those who long, under God, to train up a new generation of faithful and effective Bible preachers.

Topics include: the nature and necessity of revelation, interpretation and application; apostolic priorities and practice; contemporary challenges in the culture and the church; careful reading and thoughtful analysis of Scripture; watching your life and doctrine; the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly.

This course helps you to train others to acquire and develop the necessary practical tools and skills to expound the Bible's message. This includes both the preparation of the text and the presentation of the preaching, so as to connect that message to our contemporary cultures. The course seeks also to motivate the preacher to progress and perseverance, through spiritual encouragement, not only to be a skilled workman, but also to be maturing as a humble servant, whom God can use.

The combination of video teaching and downloadable materials for further discussion and practice exercises make this a flexible resource for training groups.

There is a worldwide need for the Word of God to be proclaimed and for Christians to be more deeply rooted in its truth. That is the heartbeat of Equipped to Preach the Word.
Learn more about this resource, download the Leader Manual and the Trainee Manual, and watch the videos here.

Why You Need to Change How You Preach (And 5 Changes I've Made)

The message of the gospel matters so much that we need to communicate it in the best possible way for those listening.

Patterns are good. Ruts are bad.

Patterns give us structure. Ruts keep us stuck.

Everyone who speaks in public develops speaking patterns. The danger is to not let those patterns become ruts.

That’s why I purposely change the way I preach every few years. Read More

10 Common Ways Churches Get Off Mission

The Lord has called his people to be on gospel mission for the sake of his glory. Most churchfolk will readily acknowledge this, and yet many churches have drifted away — often subtly — from thinking of themselves as missionaries in their respective communities and beyond. Here are some common ways churches engage in “mission drift.” Read More

Why Max Lucado Broke His Political Silence for Trump

In the face of a candidate’s antics, ‘America’s Pastor’ speaks out.

Max Lucado is a pastor in San Antonio and a bestselling author of 32 books including the most recent Glory Days. In a 2004 piece, Christianity Today dubbed Max Lucado “America’s Pastor,” alluding to his broad appeal to mainstream Americans. Part of that appeal can be attributed to his approach to politics: typically, he stays out of it. He never endorsed or opposed a presidential candidate. Then Trump happened.

In a recent blog post, Max Lucado chose to speak out against what he calls Trump’s “antics,” insisting that, “such insensitivities wouldn’t even be acceptable even for a middle school student body election.”

We talked to Lucado about his motivation for speaking up and how Trump has changed his attitude toward pastoral involvement in politics. Read More

Also see
Decency for President
When a public figure claims to be a Christian but does not act like one, he not only cast doubt on his claim but also his actions harm the public image of Christians and Christianity. 
Photo Credit: Christianity Today

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Together Under One Roof: Envisioning the New Province

By Robin G. Jordan

How could a second alternative North American Anglican province differ from the Anglican Church in North America? Here are nine ways that I envision the new province might be different from the ACNA. They are in no particular order.

1. The new province would embody in its formularies a degree of comprehensiveness consistent with the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion. It would give a central place to the Holy Bible and the Anglican Formularies in the doctrine and worship of the province and would genuinely affirm the Jerusalem Declaration.

2. The new province would have a conventional syndodical form of ecclesiastical governance with a general synod and its standing committee serving as the principal governing body of the province. The general synod would consist of the bishops of the province and clergy and lay representatives from each missional community and congregation. The general synod’s standing committee would be elected by the general synod and would be accountable to the general synod and subject to its direction and supervision. It would perform such functions and exercise such authority as the general synod would assign to it.

3. The new province would make election by the judicatory its primary method of choosing bishops. It would permit election by a provincial episcopal selection committee for those occasions when a judicatory could not agree on a new bishop or when a judicatory failed to choose a new bishop within a specified period of time. The election of new bishops would be confirmed by vote of the general synod or by vote of the standing committees of the synods of several judicatories between sessions of the general synod.

Initially bishops would be elected by the general synod. As the new province grows and judicatories are formed, the election of their bishops would devolve to the judicatories.

4. The new province would limit the terms of its bishops, requiring a vote of a judicatory’s synod to extend the term of a bishop. It would limit the powers and prerogatives of its bishops to those expressly conveyed to them by its governing documents. Bishops, like other members of the clergy, would be bound by the provisions of the new province’s governing documents. How much discretion they could exercise and under what circumstances would be delineated in the same documents.

5. The bishops of the new province would not form a separate chamber in the general synod but would sit with the clergy and lay representatives in the general synod. When a vote is taken by orders, the bishops would vote with the other clergy.

6. The new province would have moderator or presiding bishop who would be elected by the general synod. The powers and prerogatives of this provincial officer would be limited to those expressly conveyed to him by its governing documents. The moderator or presiding bishop would have no metropolitical authority.

7. The new province would seek to reach and engage a much broader segment of North America’s unchurched population than the Anglican Church in North America. It would start new missional communities and congregations in small towns and rural areas as well as in cities and their suburbs. It would make substantial use of locally-trained licensed ministers in its evangelistic outreach and church planting strategy. A typical missional community or congregation would gather around God’s Word on Sunday or at another convenient time and then it would go back into the community to serve Christ. A major focus would be building bridges with the community and reaching and engaging the unchurched population in the community.

8. The new province’s Prayer Book would be based upon the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. It would incorporate a number of the better features of the 1552 Prayer Book and more recent Anglican services books. The postures in the rubrics would be suggestions only. It would include a number of alternative forms of morning and evening worship that could be used in place of the services of Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Holy Communion. It would also include guidelines for the development of local liturgies. The service of Baptism would be revised to reflect the biblical teaching that regeneration does not automatically or invariably accompany water baptism. The service of Baptism would include a rite for the admission of catechumens modeled upon that of the Church of South India.

9. The new province would have its own catechism which would reflect the teaching of the Bible and the doctrine of the Anglican Formularies, including the two Books of Homilies.

How else might a second alternative North American Anglican province differ from the ACNA? What are your thoughts?

The Character of the Christian: Temperate

Today we continue our series on the character of the Christian. We are exploring how the various character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to exhibit them. I want us to consider whether we are displaying these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure. Today we will look at what it means for Christian leaders and for all Christians to be temperate and sober rather than drunk or debauched. Read More

Three Ways We Can Better Love Those We Lead

Researchers and leadership authors continually contend that the best leaders are those who love and care for those they lead.... Christian leaders should be the most loving leaders. God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us (Romans 5:5). We have been empowered by God to love people the way God has loved us. The apostle John challenges us to love as God has loved us. Below are three ways we should express love to those we lead:

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent His One and Only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. (1 John 4:7-11) Read More

Thinking About Expository Preaching—Part 3

A look at the place of thematic, narrative, and topical preaching

In this three post series, I am trying to clear up some preaching myths and explain my position on the best method. The first post explained why verse-by-verse exposition should be the primary diet from which you feed your church. The second post made the point that verse-by-verse exposition is not the only biblical form of preaching. In this third post, I want to advocate for other forms of preaching that may not be verse-by-verse, but can be expositional and beneficial to your congregation. Read More

Is It Possible to Manipulate People Into the Kingdom?

Jesus did not send us to make converts. He did not command anyone to make decisions. He did not send the church out to talk people into walking an aisle or undergoing baptism or praying some magic words.

He commanded the church to make disciples. A disciple is something far different from a convert or a friend or decision. To be a disciple means a commitment for life. Read More

Nigerian Churches Unite, Launch Plan Against World's Deadliest Terrorists

For the first time, Anglicans, Catholics, and Pentecostals have a strategy to defend and restore Christians decimated by Boko Haram.

The world’s deadliest terrorist group is not in the Middle East. It’s in Nigeria, where the Islamist insurgency of Boko Haram and other forces killed more than 4,000 Christians in 2015.

That death toll was a 62-percent increase from 2014, according to a new report.

In response, Nigeria's largest confederation of Christian churches is, for the first time, jointly endorsing a commitment to revive churches in the West African nation’s north, before they collapse from a decade of violence that has killed thousands of Christians and driven away more than 1 million. Read More

Image: Open Door

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What the Future Holds for Convictional Anglicans in the ACNA

By Robin G. Jordan

What can convictional Anglicans expect if they remain in the Anglican Church in North America? By “convictional Anglicans” I mean self-identified Anglicans who are Anglican in conviction as well as name. They “uphold and maintain the faith of the Churchs expressed in the Holy Bible, the Anglican Formularies, and the Jerusalem Declaration.”

Convictional Anglicans will lead a marginal existence in the Anglican Church in North America. Whether convictional Anglican congregations are tolerated in a particular diocese or network will depended upon the bishop of the judicatory. Whether convictional Anglican clergy are tolerated will depend upon the other clergy of the judicatory as well as its bishop. While convictional Anglican congregations and clergy may be tolerated by one bishop, they may not be tolerated by his successor.

Convictional Anglican congregations will be discouraged from calling clergy who are convictional Anglicans. They will be forced to accept clergy who do not stand in the heritage of the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement. 

Convictional Anglican congregations will be assessed hard-earned dollars to pay the salaries of bishops and other clergy who do not uphold and maintain the Anglican Church’s “historic faith” or preach the New Testament gospel. They will be asked to pay for the costly ornaments of these clergy and of the church buildings that they construct.

 They will be called upon to fund new church plants whose congregations and clergy do not stand in the heritage of the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement. They will be expected to subsidize missions whose congregations and clergy also do not uphold the Anglican Church's "historic faith."

Since bishops in the ACNA license clergy for ministry in their judicatory and approve their employment by congregations in the judicatory, convictional Anglican clergy will be particularly subject to the vagaries of the ordinary of a particular diocese or network.  A bishop may initially tolerate a member of the clergy who is a convictional Anglican but may become less tolerant with the passage of time due to pressure from his fellow bishops in the College of Bishops or due to other circumstances.

Convictional Anglican clergy can look forward to receiving the cold shoulder from other clergy in the judicatory at gatherings of the judicatory’s clergy. They can expect not be appointed to important boards, commissions, committees, and task forces. They can look forward to having preferment withheld from them on the basis of their theological outlook. They can expect not to be offered leadership positions in the judicatory or elected or appointed to the office of bishop.

Since the bishop of the diocese or network must approve all new church plants, convictional Anglican clergy can look forward to the routine rejection of their church planting proposals on flimsy grounds. They can also expect their bishop to permit a new church plant to go ahead only to appoint as its vicar a member of the clergy whose theological outlook is more in line with the unreformed Catholicism of the ACNA.

Convictional Anglican clergy who recommend promising candidates for ordination can look forward to their bishop rejecting these candidates or sending the candidates to a seminary that does not uphold and maintain the Anglican Church’s “historic faith” or stand in the heritage of the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement.

Convictional Anglican congregations and clergy will be required to use the ACNA Prayer Book when the book is finalized. The ACNA canons do not even permit bishops to authorize even minor changes in the ACNA Prayer Book or special services. If convictional Anglican clergy make unauthorized changes in the Prayer Book, they can expect visiting clergy to question the changes. They can also look forward to scrutiny and criticism from other clergy in their deanery. They can also expect unhappy church members to make complaints to the bishop. At mandatory clergy gatherings related to the Prayer Book and its rites and services, they can look forward to feeling out of place or even pressured to conform.

Little by little convictional Anglican clergy who do not leave the Anglican Church in North America will compromise their convictions. They will make one concession after another and slowly lose their theological identity. The possibility of a larger church, a higher salary, a prestigious preferment, a bishopric, or a pension and a comfortable retirement will undermine their resolve to stay faithful to their principles. They eventually will be assimilated.  On the day of reckoning they will be required to give a stricter accounting to the Lord Jesus Christ who will sit enthroned not as their Savior but as their Judge. They will have to explain why they made peace with false teachers and took part in their wickedness.

5 Reasons Engagement Will Drive Almost All Future Church Growth

As culture changes in front of our eyes, you might be wondering, what will drive future church growth?

In addition, you’re probably frustrated that the things that used to help a church grow don’t ‘work’ anymore (here are 9 things that have stopped being effective).

You’re definitely not alone in your experience or your frustration.

As Western culture becomes increasingly post-Christian, our approach to church needs to change because our culture has changed.

None of this means the mission of the church has changed. The mission is the same in every generation.

But the methods we use—our strategy—has to change, as I outlined here.

So what’s one of the biggest changes we’re going to see?

Simple. If you want to see your church grow, stop trying to attract people and start trying to engage people.

Here’s why. Read More

Theological Study Is for Everyone

Every Christian must be a theologian. In a variety of ways, this is something I tell my church often. And the looks I get from some surprised souls are the evidence that I have not yet adequately communicated that the purposeful theological study of God by lay people is important.

Many times the confused responses come from a misunderstanding of what is meant in this context by theology. So I tell my church what I don’t mean. When I say every Christian must be a theologian, I don’t mean that every Christian must be an academic or that every Christian must be a scholar or that every Christian must work hard at giving the impression of being a know-it-all. We all basically understand what is meant in the biblical warning that “knowledge puffs up” (1 Cor. 8:1). Nobody likes an egghead.

But the answer to formal scholasticism or dry intellectualism is not a neglect of theological study. Laypeople have no biblical warrant to leave the duty of doctrine up to pastors and professors alone. Therefore, I remind my church that theology—coming from the Greek words theos (God) and logos (word)—simply means “the knowledge (or study) of God.” If you’re a Christian, you must by definition know God. Christians are disciples of Jesus; they are student-followers of Jesus. The longer we follow Him, the more we learn about Him and, consequently, the more deeply we come to know Him. Read More

Discipleship in Jesus' Style

I was slow in “catching on.” I was a young pastor in a small denomination that had been shrinking in size for over fifty years when I was ordained. Through the grace of God and in His timing I became exposed to how to help a new believer in Christ grow and mature… and reproduce! As I learned later through my own research that this all takes place as a result of our union with Christ and our personally abiding in Him (cf. John 15), I became excited to see our congregation incorporate these things into their church life.

Now it was a traditional practice that the elders of the church – we are presbyterian in church government – should visit the members and “shepherd” them in the Christian life. So as a new pastor I brought this up before our elders, and without objection we took assignments to visit the “sheep.” Only one of our elders fulfilled his assignment. I could not figure out why the others looked at the floor and said they had not made their visits. I was baffled. They were serious Christians but seemed to balk at this kind of visiting our members.

This went on for several months until I was embarrassed even to inquire into their assignment. And then one day the Lord opened my eyes to Scripture. I had known the text, but never applied it to this situation. It was Mark 3:14 (AV). “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him, and that He might send them forth to preach….” The lights went on! Of course. Jesus had these men “with Him” so they could watch Him, listen to Him, learn from Him on site. How does He speak with these people? What questions does He ask? How does He respond to rebuff? When does He leave them? The picture became clear! Read More

Tuesday Roundup: "Ten Comments from Happy Church Guests" and More

Ten Comments from Happy Church Guests

I recently looked at my file of church guest “exit interviews.” These files originated when I did a lot of church consulting, but it also includes some recent consults. In essence, my team asked guests to attend a worship service on the same day to get their immediate impressions of the church. Among those who had a positive experience, we heard a pattern of recurring themes. Here are the top ten responses in order of frequency. Each item is followed by a direct quote from a guest. Read More

7 of the Quickest Ways to Frustrate People on a Team

I have learned there are some actions, which can frustrate people faster than others. This might be a good time to do some self-reflection. As you read these, don’t be quick to think of others – although certainly there will be some of this too – but consider your own actions when you (or I) may frustrate people on your team. Read More

7 Hiring Mistakes That Could Cost Your Church Over $100,000 are seven hiring mistakes you want to avoid at all costs. Read More

9 Practical Ways to Increase Giving In Your Church

Candidly, I’ve hesitated to write a post like this because I don’t like the potential risk of “trivializing” giving by making a simple list. Giving to Kingdom work is a profound, life changing and deeply personal process for each person in your church. For every leader, it requires artful and prayerful leadership to inspire a congregation to give. That said, I know how much stress pastors and church leaders carry about church finances. So my hope is that this “simple” list is helpful, encouraging, easily accessible and therefore worth the risk. Read More

Pig Blood and Glowing Sand

According to recent polls, more than a third of self-identified white evangelical voters currently support a presidential candidate, Donald Trump, who touts a false story about an American general executing Muslim terrorists with bullets dipped in pig blood as inspirational for the future of American foreign policy (and who endorses the killing of non-combatants in the fight against ISIS). Another one in five white evangelical voters currently support Ted Cruz, who has suggested carpet bombing Syria, saying, “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.” Read More

Uganda to boycott ACC meeting in Lusaka

The Church of Uganda will boycott the April meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka. In a letter dated 23 Feb 2016 the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali said comments made by ACC chairman Dr. James Tengatenga...that the Americans could not be kept away from the meeting, and statements by Episcopal Church leaders that they would pay no heed to the primates’ call that their church withdraw from pan-Anglican bodies for three years inevitably led to this outcome. Read More

Uganda: Archbishop’s Lenten Appeal to Pray for Uganda and the Anglican Communion

As you know, the Church of Uganda’s Provincial Assembly has resolved that the Church of Uganda will not participate in meetings of the Anglican Communion until godly order is restored, including demonstrating that it is capable of restoring godly order. This has not yet happened. The Church of Uganda, therefore, will not be participating in the upcoming April meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Lusaka. Read More

Muslims converting to Christianity in Nigeria, despite brutal persecution

Muslims are converting to Christianity in northern Nigeria amid rapidly rising levels of Christian persecution, which has seen more than ten thousand Christians killed in five years, according to a new report released today. Read More

Turkey: Christians face eviction in town's last remaining church

Christians in the last remaining church in a Turkish town face eviction after the city council refused to allow them to continue worshipping. Read More

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Case for a Second Alternative Anglican Province in North America

By Robin G. Jordan

At the present time North America has no jurisdiction that, in the words of the Standing Committee of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), “upholds and maintains the faith of the Church expressed in the Bible, the Anglican Formularies, and the Jerusalem Declaration.”

Throughout Canada and the United States are a scattering of congregations and clergy who do uphold and maintain the Anglican Church’s “historic faith.” However, they are not united in a single organization.

The organization with which they are affiliated in most cases is a diocese or sub-province of the Anglican Church in North America and accedes to its constitution and canons. Under the provisions of its governing documents ACNA dioceses and sub-provinces and the congregations and clergy affiliated with them are required to conform to the teaching and practices mandated or sanctioned in its official formularies (i.e., constitution, canons, ordinal, catechism, etc.). They and the congregations and clergy affiliated with them must use the proposed ACNA prayer book now in preparation once it is finalized.

The Anglican Church in North America in its formularies distances itself from the teaching of the Bible and the doctrine of the Anglican Formularies. The ACNA is aligned with the Roman Catholic Church and the Council of Trent in its doctrine of apostolic succession, the episcopate, salvation, revelation, and the sacraments and with the Eastern Orthodox Church in its doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

The Anglican Church in North America makes no room in its formularies for the biblical and Reformation principles of the English Reformers and their successors—the congregations and clergy who stand in the heritage of the English Reformation and the Protestant Elizabethan Settlement and who are Anglican in conviction as well as name. The proposed ACNA prayer book is unreformed Catholic in its teaching and practices.

At the present time North America also has no jurisdiction that is genuinely committed to the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America, to the restoration of the Bible and the Anglican Formularies to a central place in the North American Anglican Church.

Historically the jurisdictions that have embraced the extreme form of Catholic Revivalism whose influence is reflected in the formularies of the Anglican Church in North America have shown little interest in reaching and engaging the unchurched population of North America. Where they have planted new churches has been limited to locations that have an existing population that subscribes to this ideology.

With the exception of the Anglican Church in North America all of these jurisdictions are in decline. The ACNA is a new jurisdiction and has benefited from defections from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.

If Kentucky is a microcosm of the Anglican Church in North America, only a small number of churches are active in evangelizing the unchurched and planting new congregations. The larger number of churches is moribund.

The gospel preached in churches influenced by the ideology of this extreme form of Catholic Revivalism is not the gospel expressed in the Bible and the Anglican Formularies. It is a different gospel—a gospel of sacraments and works.

The prelacy, ritualism, sacerdotalism, and sacramentalism that dominates thinking in the same extreme form of Catholic Revivalism inhibits the utilization of the experience, spiritual gifts, and talents of the laity in the leadership, ministry, and mission of the local church as well as the jurisdiction and its subdivisions. It prevents the church at all levels from realizing its full potential in the service of Christ and his gospel. It hampers the church from reaching and engaging a wide segment of the North American unchurched population.

The Anglican Church in North America is so structured to permit a special interest group to occupy the place of power in the jurisdiction, to entrench its views, and to block meaningful reform. There is little likelihood of the ACNA becoming more comprehensive and adopting other much needed reforms.

The only way forward is the formation of a second alternative North American Anglican province, one that brings together under one roof all North American Anglicans who upholds and maintains the Anglican Church's "historic faith" and who are committed to the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America.

Photo: A wild rose that grows in the hedgerows alongside the country lanes in Seely Suffolk, Holy Suffolk, so called for its numerous churches. Wild roses also grow here in western Kentucky. They bloom in early June, around the time the farmers harvest the winter wheat. .

Rick Warren: Balance Is the Key to Church Health

A far better focal point than church growth is church health. Big isn’t better. Small isn’t better. Healthy is better. Read More

Three Ways to Starve the Bad Values in Your Organization’s Culture

Every organization, every ministry, every team has a culture. Much has been written about culture, and essentially culture is the shared values and beliefs beneath the surface that ultimately drive the behavior of the organization. This means an organization’s culture has direct bearing on how the organization acts. Terrance Deal, in his book Corporate Cultures, said culture is “the way things get done around here.” So, when unhealthy values exist in a culture, they adversely impact how the organization behaves.

Because shared values and beliefs form an organization’s culture, when one speaks of “changing the culture,” one is really speaking of replacing the values beneath the surface. It is insufficient to merely call out an unhealthy value and think it will just go away. Leaders must starve unhealthy values in the culture they are stewarding. And these unhealthy values must be starved until they are dead, and they don’t die easily. Here are three ways to starve the bad values in a culture.... Read More

Missions Mistakes and Misconceptions – Rainer on Leadership #201 [Podcast]

On today’s episode, Thom Rainer and Jonathan Howe discuss missions and how churches should be involved both local and globally. We also cover some common mistakes and misconceptions churches suffer from as they look to mobilize their people for missions. Read More

Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 20:07 — 18.4MB)

Why the Vatican Is Wrong About Evangelizing Jews

Late last year the Vatican released a document declaring that the Roman Catholic Church would no longer engage in organized mission to Jews. Titled “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable,” the document states: “In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews.”

As a Jewish believer in Jesus, I was horrified when I first heard about this rejection of mission to my people. But the Bible commands us, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19). Reading the whole 10,000-word document doesn’t diminish the shock of the Roman Catholic Church’s announcement. But it does reveal the thinking that led to the final conclusion, just as a student’s work in a math problem explains the mistaken answer at the end. Read More

Monday, February 22, 2016

Seven Ways to Fight Mission and Strategy Entropy

The second law of thermodynamics is about entropy: things move to disorder and chaos over time. This principle surrounds our daily lives. A well-ordered garage digresses to clutter; a cluttered garage never becomes an organized one without intervention. Our bodies, without exercise and care, experience muscle atrophy. Left alone our muscles grow weaker, not stronger.

Ministries and organizations face entropy too.

Richard Rumelt, in his book Good Strategy, Bad Strategy stated that organizations continually drift to disorganization because of the inevitable pull of organizational entropy.

Because of entropy, mission can lose its potency and strategy can lose its clarity. Without constant care, mission and strategy grow weaker, not stronger. (Mission is what an organization or ministry is on the planet for, and strategy is how the mission is accomplished.) Without leadership, people will drift away from mission. Without intentionality, a focused strategy will wander to disorder.

Leaders must fight the entropy that threatens to dilute mission and strategy. Here are seven ways.... Read More

Theology is Not Just for Theologians

Theology rightly understood is not a tangential part of Christian faith; it is the source, strength, and substance of vibrant faith. As A. W. Tozer famously said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us” (Knowledge of the Holy, 1). This is the core of theology—thinking God’s thoughts after him. And true theology is thinking biblically-informed thoughts about God. Theology is not an academic discipline consisting of esoteric terms, but sound doctrine that gives life and strength to every child of God made alive in Christ.

Sadly, this way of thinking about theology is often missed. Even among pastors, those called to instruct in sound doctrine, there is a sense in which theology is secondary to the real work of the ministry. Evangelism, discipleship, worship services, and church growth are elevated above “theology,” but only because they assume that each discipline and practice of the church is a-theological. In the short run, such doctrinal inattention may not create observable problems, but in the long run it will. Read More

The Future of Liberalism

Does Liberalism have a future? Or is it only parasitic on the real life of the church? What are the respective fruits of Liberalism and Evangelicalism?

Whilst we might instinctively feel we know the answers to such questions it is highly insightful to see if history corresponds to theory. And it does!

In this highly interesting and informative article, Barry Shucksmith traces the historical development of Liberalism in the Church and the decline of Church life that resulted from it alongside the story of Victorian Evangelicalism with a particular focus on the 1857-1860 revival in Great Britain. Read More

The Practice of Preaching: Four Articles

A 5 Step Method For Delivering a Talk Without Using Notes

In this post, Carey Nieuwhof explains the method he learned to use to go notes free. Read More

6 Sermon Myths We Need to Bust

Carey Niewhof wraps up his five part communications series by busting some sermon myths. Read More

Preaching the Terrors

What do we say about the ghastly parts of the Bible? Read More

5 Strategies for Faithfully Preaching an Unbeliever’s Funeral

Whatever circumstances bring an unbeliever to the church house for a funeral, here is John Powell's strategy for preparing to do an unbeliever’s funeral. Read More

Where I Find My Best Outreach Ideas

I love the annual resources issue of Outreach magazine. Not only does it contain a wealth of amazing ideas, it’s also a reminder of an important principle: If you are serious about outreach, you need to be learning from those who have gone before you. I thrive on learning from others. I think there is nothing more thrilling than to glean wisdom from those God is using in various ways. Read More

Cultural Trends Pastors Should Recognize

Every generation has to consider their context as they live out the mission

An author friend of mine claims our modern church methodology can reach only 30 percent of people in the West. Further, he says we have already reached those 30 percent and that we need to explore other ways to reach the 70 percent who would not attend a church gathering.

Re-read that last sentence and let it marinate for a moment.

There is no research to validate that claim (and I told him that). However, the percentages have gained some traction among pastors, who are now rethinking their evangelistic strategies and the role their church plays in reaching others.

That’s probably a good thing.

And, I think he is on to something...I just don’t like stats without evidence!

In reality, the most effective evangelistic methodology right now is probably people bringing their friends to a church gathering. But we should examine the current trends to see where the church and culture are headed.Read More

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Why a Second Alternative North American Anglican Province Is a Strategic Must

By Robin G. Jordan

If we look at the early history of the Christian Church, we find that the early Church responded to false teachers by disfellowshipping them from the local Christian community and ostracizing them. It responded to false teaching by spreading biblical teaching, planting new Christian communities that were biblically orthodox in what they held and taught, and recognizing and support existing biblically orthodox Christian communities.

Due to the nature of the Anglican Communion, member provinces that “uphold and maintain the faith of the Church as expressed in the Holy Bible, the Anglican Formularies and the Jerusalem Declaration” have no way of disciplining member provinces that depart from the Anglican Church’s historic faith. They can follow the example of the early Church and disfellowship themselves from the straying province and shun its leaders. This is what the provinces and dioceses affiliated with GAFCON and the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans have done to date in the case of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and the Anglican Church of Canada. They, however, have been hesitant in taking the next step which is to spread biblical teaching, to plant new biblically orthodox Christian communities, and to support existing ones. This may attributed in part to the accusation of boundary crossing that has been leveled at these provinces and dioceses in the past and a lack of resources to effectively carry out this step. But disfellowshipping and ostracizing a rogue province is not going to be effective unless the next step is taken.

The leaders of the provinces and dioceses affiliated with GAFCON and the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans have taken a different approach. They have supported the formation of an alternative province in North America by various groups disaffected from TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada on the assumption that this alternative North American province would act as their proxy in spreading biblical teaching, planting new biblically orthodox Christian communities, and supporting existing ones.

This approach, however, is not working. Their supposed proxy—the Anglican Church in North America—has itself departed from “the faith of the Church as expressed in the Holy Bible, the Anglican Formularies and the Jerusalem Declaration.” It has adopted an exclusionary policy toward the teaching and practices of North American Anglicans who are faithful to the Bible and the Anglican Formularies and who uphold and maintain the Anglican Church’s historic faith.

The faith the ACNA officially upholds and maintains is almost indistinguishable from the unreformed Catholic faith of the Roman Catholic Church and bears little resemblance to the Protestant Reformed faith of the Anglican Church. The two faiths accept the teaching of the Creeds but deviate from each other in a number of key areas, which include revelation, salvation, and the sacraments. They espouse two entirely different gospels–one a gospel of sacraments and works and the other a gospel of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The ACNA has proven not to be the agent of the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America that these leaders had hope that it would be.

As long as the leaders of the provinces and dioceses affiliated with GAFCON and the Global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans are reluctant to admit the failure of their approach and respond to the false teaching in TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada by spreading biblical teaching, planting new biblically orthodox Christian communities, supporting existing ones, and in other ways promoting the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America, their disfellowshipping of TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada will bear no fruit.

One way that the same leaders can promote the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in North America is to back the formation of a second alternative North American Anglican province, one that fully accepts the teaching of the Bible, the Anglican Formularies, and the Jerusalem Declaration and conforms its doctrines and practices to that teaching. Its formation may cause the ACNA to reconsider its exclusionary policy toward the teaching and practices of North American Anglicans who are faithful to the Bible and the Anglican Formularies and who uphold and maintain the Anglican Church’s historic faith; and to make other much needed reforms. On the other hand, the ACNA may prove intransigent. In that eventuality North America Anglicans will still have one province that is genuinely committed to the renewal of biblical Anglicanism.

A second alternative North American Anglican province, which “upholds and maintains the faith of the Church as expressed in the Holy Bible, the Anglican Formularies and the Jerusalem Declaration,” will have distinct advantage over the ACNA in spreading the gospel, evangelizing the lost, and planting new churches. Unlike the ACNA the second alternative North American province will be free to reach and engage a much wider segment of the unchurched population, unencumbered by the ritualism, sacerdotalism, and sacramentalism that have become marks of the Catholic Revivalist influence in the ACNA. This three “isms” along with the form of governance in the ACNA and the ecclesiology behind it work against the laity in that jurisdiction fully realizing their God-given role as leaders, ministers, and missionaries of the Church.

As my grandmother used to say, a wise house wife never put all her eggs in one basket. If she drops the basket, she loses all the eggs. 

4 Ways Big Sunday School Classes are Hurting the Church

If you asked a dozen teachers what the purpose of Sunday School is, you’d hear a variety of things – there would not be consensus among them. Some would argue that Bible study is the primary reason Sunday School exists. Another person would passionately plea that evangelism is the number one goal. Still others would say fellowship or ministry to others are the main reasons why groups exist.

I believe that Sunday School groups exist to make disciples. The Great Commission is at the core of what churches are supposed to be about. We should be able to measure our effectiveness against that biblical mandate.

You may be a member of a large Sunday School class, or your church may allow large groups to exist in their Sunday School structure. Large groups are normally have an attendance of 25+ people, sometimes bordering on 40-50, and in some cases even more. I have spoken to group leaders who proudly say theirs is the largest group in their church. The teacher puffs up, sticks out his chest, and lets me know that his group has the most people, and everyone in the church knows it – and knows what a good teacher he is. I grimace when I am a part of those conversations, because large groups actually hurt the church. Here are four ways those big groups are not helping the church.... Read More

The Most Used but Least Understood Phrase in the Church

Jesus said, “If you ask anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

That cannot mean that if we attach “in Jesus name” to any prayer request we are guaranteed to get it — it’s not a magic spell.

Neither can it mean that if we neglect to say “in Jesus name” our prayers will not be answered — no prayer in the Bible contains these specific words.

So what does it mean? We use it often enough at the close of most of our prayers, and yet do we know what we’re saying? Read More