Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Churches challenged to start 100,000 new Bible study groups

By Bob Smietana

LifeWay Christian Resources is challenging churches to start 100,000 new Bible study groups by the end of this year. 

The new groups initiative is a partnership between churches, state conventions and LifeWay. 

It's designed to help longtime churchgoers jumpstart their faith and to help new believers grow spiritually, Bruce Raley, director of church education ministry for LifeWay, said.

Whether they meet on Sunday mornings or during the week, small groups are the best way to learn the habits of faith, such as prayer, Bible study and serving others, Raley said. 

"Discipleship takes place best in the context of a relationship," he said. "And relationships are most likely to develop in a small group." 

So far, about 17,000 new groups have been registered at GroupsMatter.com, which includes guides for starting new groups, resources for new leaders, and promotional materials.

Raley and other organizers say the new groups can be started at any point in the year. But they suggest the first Sunday in September as one of the best options. That way, he said, churches can spend the summer months getting ready.

"We believe thousands of new groups will kick off on that day," he said. 

Read more...

Friday, April 4, 2014

How To Launch New Gospel Project Groups!

A Step by Step Launch Guide for The Gospel Project
We recognize that launching new groups, or even beginning a new study for your small group, can sometimes feel overwhelming.
That is why we created this step by step launch guide for The Gospel Project. In this step by step launch guide you will find a few suggestions for communicate clearly and lead well through your transition to The Gospel Project.
We encourage you to download the launch guide and use it as a resource to help you lead well. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Free Resources from LifeWay for New Church Plants

LifeWay Christian Resources is offering thousands of dollars worth of free products and services to new churches. Please click the link below to get all of the details. 

For churches in their first two years of operation, LifeWay has a variety of free offerings to help get a few of the foundational aspects of ministry in place. This includes helps for:
  • Bible Study Groups (6 months of digital curriculum for all age groups)
  • Church Website (Free website design and 1 year of hosting)
  • Leadership Development (1 year access to Ministry Grid, LifeWay's new web-based training platform)
  • Plus, $500 in free printed LifeWay resources of the church's choosing
To qualify to receive the free offers above, simply complete the form at lifeway.com/article/new-church-offer

If your church is more than two years old, you may be able to take advantage of this offer for your next church plant. Please pass this information on to other church planters. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Big Picture Interactive Bible for Kids

The Big Picture Interactive Bible for Kids is full color and includes features to help kids experience the Bible, including call outs of key Bible stories, definitions, memory verses and more, all designed to get kids digging into and learning the Bible for life. It’s the perfect companion for the Gospel Project for Kids curriculum.

Learn more...

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Gospel Project Android App Is Now Available!

Good news Android users, The Gospel Project Android App is now available. Many of you have expressed a desire to have the ability to access The Gospel Project through your Android phones and tablets, now you can! Our team did a great job on these Apps.
These Apps are free viewers for The Gospel Project. Once downloaded, you will be able to view the volumes that are available for purchase. Each of The Gospel Project Android Apps are optimized for Android 4.0 and higher.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

FREE Explore the Bible Preview for all ages!


FREE event!
Registration not required.

Explore the Bible expands to Young Adults, Students, and Kids this fall! Come discover the enhancements for Adults; check out the new Young Adults, Students and Kids resources!

Explore the Bible: Adults is uniquely designed to take participants deep into the context of
God’s Word, encourage them to let the Word dwell in them, and challenge them to live it
out in their own context. And with this fall’s expansion, Explore the Bible becomes the first study to offer book-by-book studies for groups of all ages.

So, for churches wanting to align all ages in study, Explore the Bible allows Adults, Young Adults, and Students to study the same passage while Kids study the same book and concepts, incorporating narrative elements from throughout the Bible, as necessary, to make challenging concepts more kid-friendly.

Learn how Explore the Bible can encourage transformational encounters with Scripture that help Adults, Students, and Kids know the Word in a personal and meaningful way.

THIS PREVIEW IS DESIGNED FOR: Adult Leaders • Young Adult Leaders • Student Leaders • Kids Leaders • Bible Study Leaders • Pastors • Ministers of Education • Sunday School Directors • Small Group Pastors and Coaches

Monday, April 7
7:00 p.m.—8:45 p.m.

Tallowood Baptist Church
555 Tallowood Road
Houston, TX 77024

Event subject to change without notice

For more information, contact:
Wayne Poling
LifeWay Ministry Team Trainer


Monday, March 17, 2014

Children of the Day-The New Bible Study from Beth Moore

An in-depth Bible study of 1 and 2 Thessalonians

Is family life a challenge? Is work is driving you crazy? Do you know God has a purpose for your life, but can't figure out what it is? Know that your circumstances are not coincidental. And God's timing is impeccable. Join Beth Moore on the Thessalonian shores as she walks you through the truth of each verse of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. In this study, you'll face crises, afflictions, relationships, doubts, concerns, and fears. Find encouragement for living the Christian life now and hope for when Christ returns.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Priscilla Shirer Live Simulcast - April 5th

The Word.  Closer to home.

Reduce your drive time, waiting-in-line time, and away-from-home time. Ramp up your comfort, convenience, and community outreach. With the Priscilla Shirer Live Simulcast, you can take a break from your busy routine to get in the Word with your church family or friends.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Seven Ways to Help New Members Stick

By Thom S. Rainer
Very few church leaders need to be convinced that assimilation is important. And very few church leaders need to be convinced that some upfront mechanism, like a new members’ class, is important. The question I am asked frequently is: “What are the best practices for this upfront orientation or new members’ class?”
I have the advantage of research, input, anecdotal information, and ongoing conversations with church leaders. From these sources, I have derived seven ways to help new members stick. Obviously, my list is not exhaustive, but I do think it represents some of the best practices I see in churches today.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ten Areas Where Pastors Need to Be Trained for the 21st Century

By Thom S. Rainer
Any pastor or other church staff member should be prepared in biblical truths. Theology is a key discipline as well. Indeed none of the classical disciplines should be forsaken, nor any of the practical disciplines, such as missions, evangelism, or church planting.
But the American culture has shifted dramatically in a relatively short period. The United States is becoming more like an international mission field. As a result, ministry training, whether formal or informal, should reflect this reality. Missionaries are typically required to receive intensive cultural and language training before they go overseas. Frankly, a similar need exists today for those in American congregations, or those planning to go to these churches.
So where are the greatest needs? My list is certainly not exhaustive, nor is it in any particular order. But I do see all of these areas as key to reaching our new and challenging culture.

Friday, March 7, 2014

New Exclusive Clip From Moms' Night Out


Exclusive ClipA New, Exclusive Clip featuring Sean Astin and Alex Kendrick
While the moms have made big plans for their evening out in MOMS' NIGHT OUT, the dads experience an equally eventful and hilarious adventure. In this scene featuring Sean Astin and Alex Kendrick, Sean must make a quick decision between getting his separated shoulder worked on or helping out his wife. In a tip of the hat to every guy, he chooses to do both!

Watch (and SHARE) the Scene
The
Ultimate Mother's Day Gift
The Ultimate Mother's Day Gift
Throughout the year, guys are faced with the most challenging of tasks: buying gifts for their wives. Will it be the right size? Does it have enough sparkle? Is there a chord connected? How do I wrap this?

This Mother's Day, we've taken the guesswork out with MOMS' NIGHT OUT. Opening in theaters on May 9—the Friday of Mother's Day weekend—plan a moms' night out for your wife and her friends. Or you can see the movie as a special family outing. Or both! However you do it, remember: you never lose with the gift of laughter.

Download this easy-to-use Dad's Guide

Thursday, March 6, 2014

7 Suggestions to Get the Introverts Sharing in Your Meetings, So You Don’t Miss Their Input

By Ron Edmondson

Yesterday I shared 7 Reasons the Introvert Is Not Talking in Your Meetings. I committed then to share some suggestions. Read that post first, or this one will be harder to follow.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Connected: My Life in the Church

Connected: My Life in the Church by Dr. Thom S. Rainer provides a biblical understanding of what it means to be a part of the body of Christ through a study of the Book of Ephesians. This study moves us to see that God has placed us in our local churches to serve others, care for them, pray together, learn together, and grow together–all for the glory of God. This group Bible study is a great companion or follow-up to Dr. Rainer's I Am A Church Member.

Learn more...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Programming and Your Church Strategey

By Eric Geiger
Your church has programs. Or environments. Or whatever it is that you call things where people gather/attend/meet together on a regular basis.
Many church leaders struggle connecting strategy or discipleship process with church programming. It is common for a team to gather to discuss discipleship process or strategy and fail to see implications of their discussions on their weekly programming. Or they almost view the two discussions as mutually exclusive, as if the programming conversation is unspiritual and the discipleship conversation has no bearing on what the church offers. While we must be careful not to equate assimilation with transformation, a wise church leader wants to utilize the church’s programs as tools the Lord will use in the transformation of His people. The programs must be viewed as tools for the people, and not the people as tools to run programs.
When I have met with church leaders on the impact of their discipleship process/strategy on their programming, here are four discussion points I have used:

Monday, March 3, 2014

Six Major Issues Regarding the Digital Church

By Thom S. Rainger
A point of clarity is in order. In this article I am referring to “the digital church” in a very specific way. I am not referring to the many uses of the Internet available to churches: church web sites; social media; and a plethora of training tools. Instead I use the phrase to refer to those churches that view a significant part of their constituencies to be online rather than in person.
The “digital church attendees” likely view the worship services online. They may be in some type of online small group. They have the ability to minister to others via the Internet. And they can support the church financially online as well.
Some churches now view these persons as integral participants in the life of the church. A small but growing number are willing to grant them membership. And many churches see the digital church attendees as an extension of the ministry of the church, even if they do not have full membership status.
This phenomenon is not transitory. It will be with us for the foreseeable future. As I speak with pastors and other church leaders across America and beyond, here are the key issues being discussed.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Simple Church Epilogue Part 2

By Eric Geiger

It has been nearly eight years since Simple Church was first released. Now after eight years of discussions and observations with church leaders, I am offering a series of blog posts on the five most significant lessons learned since then. The last post was about the proclivity for churches to drift. The second lesson is this:

Read more...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Simple Church Epilogue Part 1

By Eric Geiger
Almost eight years have passed since the initial release of Simple Church, and to say that we are overwhelmed with the response would be a vast understatement. Our shock with the response is not a statement of humility (unfortunately) but the reality of the nature of the book. Let’s be honest—it was a nerdy research project. The research was extensive and the results were noteworthy; therefore, a book followed. But research books don’t tend to make anyone’s “favorite books” list.
Not only is the book a research-based book, but it is also loaded with “insider language.” Meaning we wrote the book for pastors and church leaders. The book is filled with the kinds of conversations we have during consultations, staff meetings, and strategy sessions with church leaders. We never thought regular godly church people would read the book or have the book given to them by a pastor in their church.
The book is far from perfect. It is definitely not infallible or inerrant. It is incomplete and incomprehensive. We simply reported on what we discovered in the research. Now after eight years of discussions and observations with church leaders, I am going to offer a series of blog posts on the five most significant lessons learned since Simple Churchreleased. Here’s the first:

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

7 Things to do if your group isn’t growing

By Ken Braddy
I never thought I’d be writing a blog post about this topic.  Through the years I’ve experienced success in launching new Bible study groups and seeing the churches I served grow (and in one church growth was incredible and exponential), but my wife and I recently launched a new ongoing Bible study group at our church (called a LIFE Group at our church) and until recently, the group hadn’t grown as much as I’d like. I realize that developing community and growing spiritually are important factors, too, and that numerical growth isn’t the only thing to look for. But I do want my group to grow and reach out to people who are unconnected.
At one point, we weren’t sure that our fledgling group was going to make it. Thankfully, things have changed (more on that at the end) but there are plenty of small groups and Sunday School classes that are in a similar situation to where we were this past year. What do you do if your group isn’t growing? Having lived through it, I’ve realized there are seven options:

Seven Occasions When You Should Not Hire More Church Staff

By Thom S. Rainer


I recently received a Twitter request to provide guidelines for hiring additional church staff. Not too long ago, you could add staff according to a clear formula, typically one full-time minister for every 100 to 200 in worship attendance.
Unfortunately, it is usually not best to approach adding staff in a formulaic fashion today. Most churches do not add staff according to a programmatic approach. You could, in the past, know that the first staff was a pastor, followed by either music or education, and then followed by age-graded ministers such as students or children.
Today, the decisions are much more fluid and much more contextual. I must have an extended conversation with a church leader before I can even begin to suggest additional staff. So, instead of answering the Twitter request directly, I will approach it inversely. I thus offer seven occasions when a church should not hire additional staff.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

When 'hello' is not enough

By Diana Davis

Your God is awesome. Your church is wonderful. Yet some of the guests who visit your church don't return. No true connection was made.

A parking lot greeter in our church expressed that concern: "We've got to figure out how to actually connect every guest with another person. Our polite hellos or glad-you-cames just aren't adequate."

Why not challenge every member of your church to use these tips to connect with guests:


Read more...

Monday, February 24, 2014

10 Ways to Know If Your Small Group Ministry Is Gaining Ground

By Mark Howell
How can you tell if your small group ministry is gaining ground?  What are the signs?  Can it be measured quantitatively?  Or do you have to know how to measure qualitatively?
Obviously, you can measure many things quantitatively.  Quantitative measurements like how many groups you have, how many leaders and apprentices you have, and how many people you have in groups all tell you something.  The reality though, is quantitative measurements don’t tell you the whole story.
Recently, I shared 5 keys to taking new ground in 2014.  In this post I want to highlight 10 ways to know if your small group ministry is gaining ground.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Transformational Groups: An Interview with Ed Stetzer (Part 1 & 2)

By Rick Howerton

How do we measure the success of our small groups? How do we lead those groups from where they are to where we want them to be? We sat down with Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, to talk about some of these things as well as some of the research from his book Transformational Groups. Here are the post from this two-part series.

Part 1

Part 2

Learn more about the book Transformational Groups here...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

LifeWay Men's Ministry Catalog Now Online!

Check out all the latest resources from LifeWay to help you strengthen the men in your church. Here's a LINK for the digital version of the new LifeWay Men Catalog!

Most pastors say religious liberty on decline

By Bob Smietana

Most Americans say religious liberty is important, but they don't always agree on how much liberty is enough or too much. 


Religious liberty is the issue at the heart of the upcoming Supreme Court hearings between Hobby Lobby and the Obama Administration over the HHS contraceptive mandate. It's a dispute that is unlikely to go away, no matter what the Supreme Court decides. 

American preachers, it turns out, are more than a bit uneasy about religious liberty these days, according to a survey by LifeWay Research, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The survey found that seven out of 10 senior pastors at Protestant churches said religious liberty is on the decline in America. About seven in 10 also said Christians have lost or are losing the culture war. The telephone survey of Protestant senior pastors was taken Sept. 4-19, 2013. 

Read more...

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Creating a climate for starting a new group

By Ken Braddy
VBS may well be a high point of the summer in your church’s mission to reach children for Christ and introduce them to the gospel. My church (and I’m pretty sure your church, too) dramatically transforms normal rooms for one week out of the year, transporting young learners to far-away places, all to create a climate for learning and engagement.
Why do VBS volunteers go to so much trouble to create this kind of climate? Because climate counts! Climate draws children into a life-changing week of Bible study. When it comes to new groups, climate is just as important. Leaders must pay special attention to several things that create the right climate in which to successfully start a new group.
Any new group needs a climate in which members understand and value each other’s unique relational styles. Dr. Les Parrott, creator of SmallGroupInsights.com, has identified four categories of people in any group: Talkers, Doers, Thinkers, and Listeners. As Dr. Parrott has stated, “One style is not better than the others. They each add unique value to the group process … and knowing what group ‘style’ we each have can go a long way when it comes to cultivating community.”
When your group multiplies, consider having each person use the online tool found at www.smallgroupinsights.com to assess their personal group style. It’s quick, easy, and provides a 10-page report for the leader to share with the group to create a climate where everyone’s unique style is understood and valued.
Another way a leader can create a climate for starting new groups is to train an apprentice leader. The role this person fills is more than “just a sub,” and is really a leader-in-training who will one day become the primary leader of a new group. An apprentice leader who regularly leads the group will gain valuable experience in guiding a group through Bible study. The group members’ responsibility to the apprentice leader is to pray for him, provide feedback, and one day step out in faith and go with him to begin a new group that reaches out to people who are not connected to a Bible study group.
Finally, there must be a climate of prayer. Leaders must regularly pray about starting a new group that takes the Gospel to people who don’t have a small group to belong to, and to see those people reached for baptism and church membership. Churches are full of “missionaries to the culture,” and we must all accept our responsibility to start new groups. If you and I don’t, who will?
Remember that climate counts. What kind of a climate are you and your leaders creating when it comes to the important mission of starting new groups? It’s not too late to change the climate of your group and become more missional as you seek to take the gospel to people who are unreached for Christ.
Ken Braddy is managing director of Leadership & Adult Publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources, Nashville, Tennessee. He has served as minister of education at two Texas churches and is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

8 Steps to Penetrating Lostness Through New Groups

By Claude King

Guide your church or group to pray for God’s heart for the lostness in your community and world. Then follow His leadership to penetrate that lostness by starting new Bible study groups through which He will draw people to saving faith in His Son. Here are eight steps to consider:
  • Pray to know God’s heart for the lost.
  • Put names and faces on lostness in your Jerusalem… and to the ends of the earth.
  • Pray for laborers. (Matthew 9:35-38)
  • Commission and equip teams (2 or more people) to start new groups.
  • Pray for God to open your eyes to see where He is working and join Him. (John 4:35)
  • Pray for open doors. (Colossians 4:2-6)
  • Invite people to listen to God, learn from Him, and come to Christ. (John 6:45)
  • Tell your own story of what good things Christ has done for you. (Mark 5:18-20)
 As you pray, consider new groups for:
  • Age Groups: Who and where are they?
  • Sunday Workers
  • Socio-economic groups
  • Language Groups/Ethnic/Cultural (see: www.peoplegroups.org)
  • Housing Types (e.g. apartments, trailer parks, condos)
  • Professions
  • Relationships (coworkers, relatives, neighbors)
  • Geographic Areas (other towns, villages, neglected regions)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Warren, LifeWay to release 'Son of God' study

By Carol Pipes

Pastor and The New York Times best-selling author Rick Warren is partnering with LifeWay Christian Resources to release a Bible study for the upcoming "Son of God" movie from 20th Century Fox.

The small group curriculum resource by Warren is a companion piece to "Son of God," produced by husband-and-wife team Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. The study will be available Feb. 15, two weeks before the movie hits theaters Feb. 28. 

"Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You" is a DVD small group Bible study, which features Warren explaining how you can find your purpose in studying the life of Jesus. The study is available at LifeWay Stores and LifeWay.com/SonofGod.


Read more...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Why Don’t More Churches Have a Strategy to Start New Groups?

By Thom S. Rainer
Admittedly, I have not done a scientific study on how many churches in America intentionally start new groups. But my anecdotal observations are that only about one in 20 churches, or about 5 percent, have a semblance of new groups strategy in place. Those numbers are sad, because such a strategy can be used of God to revolutionize churches.
I don’t plan on this article being one and done on the subject. It’s too important. You will hear more in the near future.
What Is a Group?
Different groups serve different purposes. Some exist for fellowship. Others have an intense discipleship motive. Still others are designed to reach beyond themselves with an evangelistic intent.
They also go by a myriad of names. They are called Sunday school classes, small groups, home groups, cell groups, Bible study classes, and more.
My point in this article is not to differentiate the groups; that exercise can come later. My point is to show the incredible value of groups in general to a church, especially when there is an intentional strategy to reproduce them.
What Can New Groups Do for a Church?
It almost seems like starting new groups is some type of secret strategy. You rarely hear church leaders speak about it. But those who have implemented such a strategy wondered what took them so long to do so. The value of starting new groups is enormous.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Documentary examines True Love Waits

By Aaron Earls

After 20 years and millions of pledge cards, has True Love Waits had a positive impact and does it still matter?

A new documentary by LifeWay Films examines the history and future of True Love Waits. The international purity movement captured the national conversation in 1994 by covering the National Mall with cards from teenagers promising to remain sexually pure.

The documentary "True Love Waits: The Complicated Struggle for Sexual Purity," traces the story from the beginning to the present day relaunch, including the lives of individuals involved. Scott Mills, executive producer of the movie and manager of LifeWay Films, said the documentary unflinchingly deals with the reality of what began as an idea sketched on a napkin and exploded as an international movement.

"Millions of teenagers of the past two decades have made commitments to stay pure," Mills said. "Many have kept those commitments and at the same time many have struggled."


Read more...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What Church Documents Say About Your Church

By Chuck Lawless
I love working with local congregations. As I consult with churches, I learn so much by visiting the church, listening to the staff, and interviewing members. Nothing can fully take the place of spending time with the local body of Christ.
Yet at the same time, I learn a lot about a church by reviewing its written documents. Recognizing the suggestions below are not infallible, I encourage you to evaluate your own congregation if assessed based on these documents.
Read more...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

52 Ideas for Your Church in 2014


How will God use your church in 2014? Here are 52 easy ideas to inspire you:

1. The 52 Challenge: Members commit to personally invite one person—friend or stranger—to church every week this year, and write the names on their personal calendar.

2. Snow Day: Build dozens of snowmen on the church lawn. Decorate snow-families with creative props and signs inviting folks to church.

3. Plan a baby shower for a local pregnancy center on Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, January 19.

4. Sunday Brunch: Deliver invitations to homes located near the church building inviting them to worship services and to a Sunday brunch beforehand with their neighbors (and some friendly church members).

5. Pray for Leaders: Invite local government leaders to your worship service. Recognize those who are able to attend and pray for them.

6. Community-Wide Blood Drive: Support your local blood bank.

7. Date Night: Provide complimentary childcare for unchurched couples on Valentine’s Day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Small Group Short Term Studies From LifeWay

When the Bible meets life, people begin seeing everything through the truth of Scripture.

In John 4, Jesus connected with an outcast woman and helped her see how He alone was the answer to her greatest need. This new small group series focuses on real-life, topical issues that let your people see how Jesus is the answer to their greatest needs, too‒how the Bible meets their life right where they are.
Biblically rooted and based on an intentional discipleship plan designed to mature believers, this series helps you equip your members to understand how faith impacts their family, their career, and their struggles. And all the while challenges them to live out their faith, right where they are.

The Specifics

  • Six sessions each
  • Ideal for groups meeting anytime, anywhere
  • Designed for leaders of all levels, from the experienced to the novice
  • Two new studies are released every 3 months
  • Group Member Book available in print, digital, and app formats

Perfect for a Church Campaign

Any of the small group study topics can be the theme of a church campaign by integrating that topic into your weekly sermons. You'll find helpful tools in each title's Leader Kit.
  • Promotional video, presentation slides, banner ads, and posters
  • Video: One for each session featuring the author providing biblical insight
  • Leader guide: Expands on the commentary you get in the Group Member Book
  • PLUS- Free online sermon outlines: Two sets for each session. One uses the same Scripture passage as the session. The other expands on the theme but uses different Scripture passages.

Leader Kits

Leader Kits include helpful resources for a campaign or small group Bible study:
  • Group Member Book
  • Video for all six sessions featuring the author providing biblical insight to stimulate group discussion
  • Leader guide (expanded with commentary)
  • Promotional helps including video, posters, banner ads, and presentation slide