Why and How to Develop A Team of Elders

As my wife and I were preparing to move after I accepted the call to pastor a small struggling church in Northern New Jersey, I’ll never forget the parting words of advice given to us by one of our seasoned ministry mentors: “Don’t trust anyone!” I think it is particularly easy for those in full-time ministry to slip into this way of thinking, particularly when dealing with lay leaders. We find ourselves in a place of unique vulnerability. Armed with fear and pride, we are tempted to keep our distance from everyone. Fear—ministry is our livelihood, not just something we do after work. Pride—we’ve spent years studying and praying about this stuff, why should we listen to these people?

Four Leadership Essentials For Church Revitalization

The past seven years have been a wild, unpredictable, surprising, joy-filled journey of revitalization for our congregation. By God’s grace, we have seen this old church go from nearly shutting it’s doors for good, to becoming a vibrant, gospel-saturated, growing congregation that God is using to reach the lost, make disciples, bring hope to a community, and glorify the Father as we seek to make the name of Jesus famous together. While I don’t believe there is some “magic bullet” that will assure the revitalization of a declining or dying congregation, in my experience there are four practices that have guided our ministry and leadership, which I would say have really served as the key leade

The Importance of Bible Fluency in Church Planting

Not long ago I was sitting down for coffee with a young man named Keith who recently surrendered his life to Jesus through one of our church plants here in Denver. As we sat there, discussing some of the ways God was powerfully at work in his new life as a believer, Keith blurted out, “I just can’t get over the Bible! I mean, everyday God is seriously using this book to transform everything about me. It is crazy!” It is in moments like these that the Lord once again reminds me that the power of our ministries and our church planting efforts does not lie in our clever ideas, fresh initiatives, or strategic programming, as helpful as those things are. No, at the end of the day the power of our

Applicational Exposition

Expositional preaching is applicational preaching. It has to be. The Scriptures itself demand application. The epistle of James makes proverbial, what is obvious. We must not be hearers of the Word, only. We must be doers. It’s not enough to exegete; we need to apply. It’s not enough to listen; we must apply. What good is faith without works? Not much. What good is exposition without application? Not much. On Sunday morning, your people can stay at home and read Martyn Lloyd-Jones. They can stay at home and read John Stott. They can stay at home and read John Piper. But they mustn’t! They must come and gather with the people of God and listen to the Word of God! And then they must

Three Keys To Persevering In Church Revitalization

I pastor a church of 60 attending members on any given Sunday in Northern Colorado. The church was planted in the 1950’s and many members believe the best days of the church are behind us. When I was called to be the pastor of Hillside they had been through six years of three different interim pastors and church attendance had dropped by over half through those six years. One church member said, “God has pruned us down to the very root.” The sheep were ready to be led and I was a young pastor finishing my final year of seminary when I received God’s call to church revitalization in Northern Colorado. Key 1: Know your calling. Church revitalization is a difficult calling. It’s different from

Why Churches Should Plant Churches

Our church is planting a church. We do not have a seating capacity problem or a parking space problem and we are not trying to open a new location closer to people who are coming from far away. None of those are bad reasons to plant, they are just not the best reasons to. The church I pastor is 60 years old and stable, but is by no means bursting at the seams numerically. We have committed givers, but between our mortgage debt and other ministry needs, we do not have piles of money lying around. It’s easy to look at megachurches with much bigger budgets, streams of people, and deep leadership pools and believe they should plant churches. They should. We may think newer churches that do not o

The Importance of Home Discipleship in Youth Ministry: Three Regrets of a Former Youth Pastor

This last year I was replaced as a youth pastor. It wasn’t anything bad that I had done or my church. In fact it will happen to every youth pastor. At some point or another you will be replaced. You will leave your current place of employment and your church will replace you with another youth pastor. When Mark asked me to write this blog post, I had just celebrated one year of ministry at my new church where I am an Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries. For six wonderful years I poured into students through prayer, Bible studies, retreats, conferences, gross games, lock ins, and more. I had a passion for parents and families and longed to provide curriculum that was family friendly, t

Watching God Change My Church Planting Plan

When I started out on this church planting journey I had spent a lot of time in a process of discernment, and was confident that God was leading me to plant this church. But beyond that initial leading I had no idea what this thing would look like, nor how it would grow/develop. Now, I am a planner, so I started reading books and articles on church planting strategy, and I began to plan how this thing would look. This was all done couched in prayer and seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit, and we started this church with a plan we were confident was from the Lord. That’s where things started moving in a direction we weren’t prepared for. In our initial plan we thought we’d be in the “core-

The Importance of Practicing Encouragement

Years ago, when my daughter Addi was approximately 8 or 9 years old, as we paid for our groceries at the cash register in Smith's, Addi said something truly profound. On her own accord, she thanked the cashier for her hard work and said, "God loves you and so do I." To be honest with you, it was a bit of an uncomfortable moment for me. I kind of laughed under my breath awkwardly, not sure how the woman would respond. To our surprise, the cashier paused and then began to cry. She walked around the cash register, gave my daughter a big hug, and said, "I really needed to hear that. That made my day. Thank you!" Here is what I learned from my young daughter that day... Number one, I need to be m

Seven Reasons Why Gospel-Centered Preaching is Necessary Today

We live in a time of great pressure, both externally from the world and internally in our churches, to be anything but gospel-centered. Externally we are undergoing a culture-shift away from Christian values and ideals. This is to be expected and is not unique in world history. Much more troubling, however, is the downplaying of the gospel - it’s necessity, centrality, and power - within our churches, especially our sermons. In the name of church growth, churches hire expert communicators who work hard each week to encourage the masses, hopefully share something about Jesus, but above all to keep them coming back the following week. Rather than asking, “How can we best honor and worship

Sharing the Gospel with the World:  4 Lessons from the Early Church

There is much that can be learned from observing the evangelism efforts of the early church (Specifically the first 100 years of the church’s existence: Roughly A.D. 30 – A.D. 130) as we seek to apply biblical strategy to our own evangelism efforts in the contemporary church. The passion of the early church to reach the lost should be nothing short of inspiring to modern day followers of Christ. As A.W. Tozer observes in his article, Evangelism: Early Church Methods, there is much we modern day Christians can learn from the “single mindedness of the early church…to go witness, give everything to the Lord and give up all to God, bearing (one’s) cross and taking the consequences.” I would lik

What is Church Replanting?

Church Replanting: the rescue, redemption and restoration of a church at or near the point of death, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the glory of God and the good of the community. Replanting… what does this mean? Replant? Think of it like this… You were given a plant that was beautiful! Everyone that came to your house complimented you on its size, health, vibrance, and the fragrance was breath-taking. Now one day you noticed the plant was changing. It’s leaves were turning pale yellow and the plant looked slightly withered. You didn’t forget to water it. Maybe someone else watered it too much. Maybe it isn’t getting enough light. You love this plant and you will do whatever it takes

John Calvin and the Importance of Application in Preaching

While this may come as a shock to some, John Calvin’s preaching was accessible in its simplicity. “As a preacher, Calvin’s primary aim was not to communicate to other theologians, but to reach the common person in the pew. … Occasionally, Calvin would explain the meaning of a word more carefully, but without ever giving the Hebrew or Greek original. Yet Calvin did not hesitate to use the language of the Bible.”[1] Moreover, Calvin’s preaching was pastoral in its tone. “The Genevan Reformer never lost sight of the fact that he was a pastor. Thus, he warmly applied Scripture with loving exhortation to shepherd his flock. He preached with the intent of prompting and encouraging his sheep to fol

Advantages of Replanting

My friend Nathan Rose was recently interviewed over @ For The Church on the advantages of Replanting.

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