Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Five Ways to Care for Hurting People During the Holidays

Five Ways to Care for Hurting People During the Holidays

While many people enjoy the holiday season more than any other time of the year, there are others who struggle to find any joy in it at all. In fact, for many people, this time of year is devastating and debilitating. A broken relationship, a haunting seasonal memory, the death of a friend or family member, or the inability to bless their family with the kind of gifts others are receiving plants a dark cloud over many, especially when they are seeing the masses celebrating passionately while they are hurting deeply.
So how does a small group leader show the love of Christ to those who are living in the midst of the dark night of the soul?

 

Live Demonstration

You can see smallgroup.com in action and ask our discipleship specialist any questions you have every Tuesday at 2pm CT. Our team will walk you through the tool and help you quickly get comfortable creating custom Bible studies. Click here to register for the next online demo.
 

Recommended Smallgroup.com Series for December: 

As John began writing his gospel, the Holy Spirit inspired him to avoid opening his book with the name “Jesus.” Instead, John was led to use a different name for Jesus: the Word.
Names are important, and John tied this name for Jesus—the Word—to the story of creation. It is extremely significant that the Gospel of John opens with “in the beginning” because it echoes the first words of Genesis 1. None of John’s Jewish readers could have read the early verses of his gospel without thinking about the creation story in Genesis 1. 
Join us as we explore the advent of Christ through John's Gospel!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Your FREE Christmas Bible Study

We’re celebrating Christmas early this year for small group leaders thanks to a FREE Christmas bible study, courtesy of Bible Studies for Life. Be sure to download this study to use with your group and celebrate the story of Christmas together.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is over and Christmas is just a few weeks away? That means it’s time to make holiday plans for your small group, if you haven’t already. Whether you are wrapping up your current study, having a Christmas party, or volunteering for a service project together, this Christmas bible study is the perfect opportunity to focus the attention of your group on exploring the rich depth of our Savior’s birth. This free study is Bible Study Insider’sChristmas gift to you. May it point you and your group to a deeper and more meaningful Christmas experience this year.
Instantly download your FREE Christmas Bible Study.


Merry Christmas from Bible Study Insider!

Friday, December 2, 2016

An Intentional Plan of Discipleship

There's a disciple-maker inside every Christian.

When a baby is born, people immediately spring into action to clean, check, bathe, and warm the infant. All this is done in order to ensure that this new creation is well on his or her way to a life of growth, health, and maturity.

But when someone is born into Christ, we usually just congratulate them and send them into the world. As a result, churches are full of baby Christians who never fully developed spiritually, even if they were born decades earlier.
Disciple's Path: The Journey (available in November 2016) provides an intentional one-year mission toward maturity in Christ. It's a purposeful process covering four volumes, 13 sessions each. The Journey was created to nurture believers into disciples who make disciples.

 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Download your free Advent family devotionals!

Bible Studies for LifeDownload Free Devos: The Coming King! Advent Devotionals in Isaiah

This year, celebrate Advent as a family!

Advent is a special and important time to reflect on the birth of Jesus and everything Jesus came to do. That's why Bible Studies for Life wants to provide you, your family, and the families in your church with free devotionals that promise to:
  • Draw your family closer around the birth of Christ
  • Help you develop fresh appreciation for why Christ came
  • Adopt a purpose- and mission-filled approach to the busy Christmas season
This 14-day devotional is designed to begin on December 12 and run through Christmas day, and we encourage you to not only use it in your family, but to share it with other families in your study groups.

It's yours for free—plus one month of studies.

The family Advent devotional is yours for free when you sign up to preview four free sessions of Bible Studies for Life for kids, students, and adults. There's no obligation—just an invitation to walk closely with Jesus this Advent season.
Download My Devotionals

Monday, November 14, 2016

The secret sauce for growing your Bible study organization

By Ken Braddy

One burger restaurant chain has what they’ve labeled a “secret sauce.” It’s a blending of several other ingredients into one original sauce. Other burger joints followed suit, and now almost every place you eat has what they call a “secret sauce.” Even movies like Good Burger poke fun at the idea of a secret sauce that has unknown ingredients. Truth be told, if you blend mayo, ketchup, and Thousand Island dressing, you’ll probably come up with a “secret sauce” very close to the kind you get in most restaurants. The secret’s out.

Read more...

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

New disciple-making resource based on Jesus' methods

Disciples Path: The Journey

LifeWay wants to let you know about a new intentional plan of discipleship called Disciples Path: The Journey.

Based on Jesus’ approach to disciple-making, this resource facilitates transformation through the principles of modeling, practicing, and multiplying:
  • Leaders model a biblical life
  • Disciples follow and practice from the leader’s example
  • Disciples become disciple-makers
Preview 3 Sessions Free

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

See what's coming up next in Explore the Bible



The winter quarter of Explore the Bible will cover Joshua, Judges, and Ruth. These books of the Bible tell us that God is involved in the lives of His people, and He uses the most unexpected of us to accomplish extraordinary feats of power and grace. In this study, you will see that God has a plan, and He fulfills His promises. You will be inspired to follow Him in faith. Because even in your darkest hour, God is moving on your behalf.
Order now
Save time and money* by creating a recurring order. Your future orders will be shipped automatically, and you'll receive up to a 5% discount on each. There's no risk; order adjustments can be made each quarter, as needed. Call 800.458.2772 to set it up.

* 5% on church account orders and 3% on credit card orders.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Watch your mailbox! Your quarterly ordering packet is on its way.

LifeWay Church Ordering

Look for the big, green envelope!

Your quarterly ordering packet is on its way. Inside you'll find all of the newest Bible study releases that LifeWay has to offer for spring, plus a handy order form you can share with your ministry team leaders.
Order by December 15, 2016 to receive your Early Bird discount. The fastest and simplest way to order online is with LifeWay's Church Ordering tool.
START MY ORDER
Questions? No problem. Give us a call at 800.458.2772. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.
The LifeWay Customer Service Team

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

See what's next in The Gospel Project

The upcoming winter study in The Gospel Project is Exile and Return, which covers Daniel, Ezra, Esther, Nehemiah, and Malachi. This sixth leg of our journey through the storyline of Scripture focuses on God’s work to sustain and provide for His people while in exile and during their return home.
Preview Personal Study Guide
Preview Leader Guide
Or order now

Monday, October 17, 2016

3 steps to starting a new group

When a lay person in the church is asked to lead a new group, one of the most common reactions is, “But I don’t know enough about the Bible.”

Technically, none of us knows enough. But we all know something, and LifeWay can help with the rest.
  1. Start with Bible Studies for Life, which is a leader-friendly Bible study that group members find very practical and rewarding.
  2. Order a Personal Study Guide for each member so everyone is on the same page, the same subject, and the same verses.
  3. Get your new leader a Complete Leader Experience Pack. This resource contains everything a group leader needs to guide the group with confidence:
    • Leader Pack – which includes videos, a customizable Leader Guide, posters, and more
    • Leader Guide – which features the group plan to facilitate discussion
    • Personal Study Guide – so they can get a feel for what participants are studying
    • Advanced Bible Study – to get additional insights into the Scripture
    • Biblical Illustrator – for well-researched articles that add rich detail to the study content
Starting new groups develops your leaders, matures your members, and ultimately grows your church. In 2017, get your new leaders and your church off to a great start.
Order a pack
Order Personal Study Guides

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Every ministry area is a context for discipleship

Bible Studies for LifeDiscipleship doesn't happen by accident
While groups and classes are essential for discipleship, every area of the church where people interact provides an opportunity for discipleship. This is why we created the Discipleship [IN] webcast, an event in which ministry experts explained how discipleship happens in 10 different ministry areas.
And now each session is available for you to watch individually and on‑demand. Just click below to watch how discipleship happens in:
WATCH NOW

Monday, October 10, 2016

Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor

By Thom S. Rainer

They are the walking dead.

They are dead emotionally.
Their vision and passion is dead.
Their spiritual life has little life at all.
They are burned out.
Many have died vocationally. Others are waiting for burial.
Autopsies are not a pleasant topic. I get that. But I would be negligent if I did not share with you about the numbers of pastors who are dead in ministry. You need to know. You need to grasp this reality. You need to pray for them. You need to walk alongside them.
How did these pastors die? My figurative autopsies uncovered eight common patterns. Some pastors manifest four or five of them. Many manifest all of them.
  1. They said “yes” to too many members. In order to avoid conflict and criticism, these pastors tried to please most church members. Their path was not sustainable. Their path was unhealthy, leading to death.
  2. They said “no” to their families. For many of these pastors, their families became an afterthought or no thought at all. Many of their children are now grown and resent the church. They have pledged never to return. Their spouses felt betrayed, as if they were no longer loved, desired, or wanted. Some of these pastors have lost their families to divorce and estrangement.
  3. They got too busy to remain in the Word and in prayer. Simply stated, they got too busy for God. Read Acts 6:4 again in the context of all of Acts 6:1-7. The early church leaders saw this danger, and they took a courageous path to avoid the trap.
  4. They died a slow death from the steady drip of criticisms. Pastors are human. Yeah, I know; that’s an obvious statement. We sometimes expect them to take the ongoing criticisms from members as if they were rocks. But a steady drip can destroy even the most solid rocks.
  5. They were attacked by the cartel. Not all churches have cartels, but many do. A church cartel is an alliance of bullies, bully-followers, carnal Christians, and even non-Christians in the church. Their goal is power. Their obstacle is the pastor. Many pastors have died because cartels killed them.
  6. They lost their vision and their passion. This cause of death is both a symptom and a cause. Like high blood pressure is a symptom of other problems, it can also lead to death. Pastors without vision and passion are dying pastors.
  7. They sought to please others before God. People-pleasing pastors can fast become dying pastors. The problem is that you can never please all the members all the time. If pastors try, they die.
  8. They had no defenders in the church. Imagine a dying person with no medical intervention. That person will die. Imagine pastors without members who will stand by these leaders. Imagine pastors where members are too cowardly to stand up to cartels. If you can imagine that, then you can imagine a dying pastor. By the way, this form of death is often the most painful. The pastor is dying without anyone to help or intervene.
Autopsies are not fun. Talking about dying is not fun.
But if you are a church member, you can be a part of the solution.
Will you?

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Pop Quiz for Pastors and Church Leaders

By Chuck Lawless

Based on what I’ve learned about church leaders via years of church consulting, here’s a pop quiz for pastors and other church leaders. Many, many leaders with whom I’ve worked could not answer these questions – questions I believe strong church leadersshould be able to answer: 
  1. What are your church’s mission and vision statements? You might be surprised how many leaders can’t answer this question.
  2. What are the demographics of the community within 5-10 miles of your church? Too often, leaders guess at this answer. 
  3. What are the names of your community’s government officials? Spiritual leaders in a community should know these names, particularly to pray for them.
  4. Is your church growing? If so, is it growing by evangelistic growth? Transfer growth? Biological growth? You should know the source of your church’s growth.
  5. What is your church’s baptism/conversion: resident members ratio? This ratio (baptisms/conversions per resident member) hints at the church’s level of evangelistic effectiveness.
  6. What is your church’s facility capacity (# of parking spaces, education capacity, worship center capacity)? An administrator may know most of this information, but pastors should be aware of these important data as well.
  7. What are the names of your staff members’ spouses and children? Not knowing suggests an unhealthy disconnect between the leader and the staff.
  8. What is the testimony of your primary leaders? It’s a tragedy if you serve with people every week whose Christian stories you don’t know.
  9. Is your church meeting budget? If you don’t know this information, you might be surprised some day by what you find. 
  10. What percentage of your active attenders have joined within the past three years? Being aware of this figure helps you know if the church might be in a leadership transition (older members vs. newer members).
  11. How many church planters, missionaries, and pastors has your church sent out during your ministry? If you don’t know, my guess is that the number is probably small.
  12. What percentage of your active attenders are involved in a small group?If the small group is the place where your members get connected, you should know this answer. 
  13. Do your church’s leaders affirm the church’s doctrinal statement? You might assume they do, but do you know for certain? 
  14. How many mission trips is your church sponsoring this year, and to what places are the teams going? Leaders who can’t answer these questions likely aren’t as involved in missions as they need to be.
  15. What is your vision for the church five years from nowA generic “I want the church to be reaching more people” really isn’t sufficient. A good vision has some level of specificity based on the church’s history, context, and leadership. 
Assuming a value of 6.5 points for each question, with a 2.5 point curve just because we all need grace, what would you score on this pop quiz?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

LifeWay adds new discipleship resource

By Aaron Earls
This fall LifeWay Christian Resources is launching a new long-term study designed to "make disciples who make disciples."
"Disciples Path: The Journey" is a one-year small group study that focuses on helping both new and existing believers understand and apply core Christian doctrines to become more mature disciples.
"Discipleship is one of those things we talk a lot about in the church, but many times we have difficulty putting it into practice," said Michael Kelley, director of groups ministry at LifeWay.
For that reason, LifeWay introduced a series of short-term studies called Disciples Path last year and is expanding it this fall into "Disciples Path: The Journey for a more long-term approach."
"With Disciples Path," he said, "we wanted to provide a simple tool that equips people well to make disciples."
Each study in Disciples Path lasts five to six weeks and builds on the previous ones, Kelley said. "At the end, not only will people have moved forward in their spiritual journey, they will be ready to bring others along in that same journey."
This type of reproducibility and growth excites Josh Howerton, lead pastor of The Bridge Church in Spring Hill, Tenn. "The reason I'm so passionate about Disciples Path is it creates a clear path," Howerton said. "Clarity leads to movement."
After hearing from those who used the short-term study, leaders at LifeWay realized there was a need and desire for a longer, more comprehensive study using those same discipleship principles.
In creating The Journey, LifeWay developed four volumes that take participants through the life and work of Christ and into responsibilities of Christians. "A church can set aside a year, put all their groups on the same page, and walk through an intentional pathway of discipleship," Kelley said.
Each of the four volumes has 13 sessions that allow for group discussion, but also application and activities for participants to do in their personal time between meetings. The Bible studies, Kelley noted, encourage leaders to model a biblical life in front of and alongside group participants, who can then follow the leader's example and make disciples themselves.
It's that reproducibility that Kelley hopes will happen. "Our goal is to see over 13,000 groups on an intentional pathway of discipleship using Disciples Path: The Journey in 2017," he said.
"But that's only the beginning. Because disciples are followers of Jesus who also make disciples, and because Disciples Path: The Journey emphasizes the need for replicating faith, those groups will not only be making disciples but also raising up future disciple-makers who can turn around and lead others down the same pathway."
For more information on Disciples Path: The Journey, visit DisciplesPath.com/TheJourney.
Aaron Earls is a writer for LifeWay Corporate Communications.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Watch the Leadership Pipeline Conference For Free

It's hard to believe that the Pipeline Conference is next week. Tickets have sold out and it is going to be a fantastic event for church leaders!
We know that most of you will not be able to join us in Nashville, but that does not mean you have to miss the conference. We are offering a FREE live webcastof the conference main day on October 13
We would love it if you would take time to tune in along with your leadership teams to hear from our incredible lineup of speakers. This is a rare opportunity to get real leadership training, not just a series of sermons. 
Join us on Thursday, October 13, beginning at 9:00 AM Central Time.  

Saturday, October 1, 2016

27 Ways To Bless Your Pastor In October

By Mark Dance

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, which is a great opportunity for church members to bless their pastors. Since it can be awkward for pastors to initiate this for obvious reasons, I am hoping that through social media this post will reach the eyes of key lay-leaders and lead pastors who will take up the mantle of showing “double-honor” to their ministry staff.

Here are 27 simple ways you can honor your pastor(s) in October, or anytime of the year...

Friday, September 30, 2016

Thom Rainer’s 5 Seismic Shifts in the Church All Leaders Need To Know


Join Dr. Thom Rainer for this one-hour, LIVE Virtual Town Hall as he covers five seismic shifts in the church all leaders need to know. Registration is limited to the first 25 pastors and staff in each state who sign up.

Writes Dr. Rainer:

My office constantly receives requests for me to travel and speak at events around North America. Unfortunately because of the demands in my role as President and CEO of LifeWay, I’m only able to accept one or two a month. This means I miss out on dozens of requests every month.

Recently we started thinking of ways to remedy this. I’m so excited about the solution my team came up with—a virtual tour of every state and province in the US and Canada. And our partners for the tour, eaHELP and Southeastern Seminary, have made it possible.

In these live, virtual town halls, I will cover Five Seismic Shifts in the Church All Leaders Need to Know. There will also be a time for Q&A so that you can ask questions related to either the content or the state of the church in North America.

Click here for more info and to sign up.

As of this posting only two states—Ohio and Florida—are full. All other states and Canada have remaining slots, but don’t wait. Twenty-five slots will fill quickly.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Telegram: Announcing the future of small group Bible studies

A TELEGRAM WAS ONCE THE FASTEST WAY TO SEND MAIL. THOSE DAYS ARE HISTORY.

SMALL GROUP BIBLE STUDIES ARE CHANGING TOO. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE WAY YOU’RE DOING IT NOW, BUT SMALLGROUP.COMREPRESENTS THE FUTURE OF DISCIPLESHIP TOOLS.
  • FIND OR CREATE A CUSTOM STUDY TO MATCH YOUR GROUP’S UNIQUE PREFERENCES.
  • BUILD A SERIES OF STUDIES BASED ON A DISCIPLESHIP PLAN.
  • ENHANCE STUDIES WITH VIDEO FROM TRUSTED TEACHERS LIKE MATT CHANDLER, TONY EVANS, BETH MOORE, JOHN PIPER, AND OTHERS.
  • INCLUDE YOUR OWN VIDEOS FROM YOUTUBE OR VIMEO.

SIGN UP FOR A FREE PREVIEW AT SMALLGROUP.COM

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2016 study of pastor salaries, benefits available

By Martin King
Compensation for full-time Southern Baptist church staff members has exceeded the cost-of-living increase over the past two years. However, health insurance coverage continues to decline, according to the 2016 SBC Church Compensation Study.

The biannual study is a joint project of state Baptist conventions, GuideStone Financial Resources and LifeWay Christian Resources. Compensation and congregational data is collected anonymously from ministers and office/custodial personnel of Southern Baptist churches and church-type missions.
Compensation increasing
Compensation (salary plus housing) increased 3.4 percent for full-time senior Southern Baptist pastors over the last two years, 4.3 percent for full-time staff ministers and 2 percent for full-time office personnel. The U.S. Department of Labor's Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the same two-year period increased only 1.1 percent.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Houston Pastor Night Out: Date Night with Dinner & Childcare - October 13


Pastor Night Out:  Date Night with Dinner & Childcare

Thursday, October 13   |   7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Houston's First Baptist Church    |   Fellowship Center    |    7401 Katy Frwy
UBA partners with Houston's First Baptist and Lifeway to offer this evening of encouragement for pastors and spouses at no cost to you. Enjoy a free dinner and receive a free gift from Lifeway. The primary purpose of this free event is to encourage ministry couples to lead healthy lives and ministries. There will be a panel of three ministry couples who will answer your tough questions about the challenges of life and ministry.
Space is limited to the first 100 couples to respond, so an RSVP is absolutely needed. Childcare can be provided only for those who complete the HFBC Childcare Registration Form by October 3.
Contact: Tom Billings, UBA Executive Director
Houston's First Baptist can not accept a child for childcare without pre-registration.Please follow this link to complete registration for your child. Select "Register as Guest." Childcare is available for birth through 5th grade with registration.
A similar event is scheduled at a different location on Friday, October 14, for those couples who prefer a program in Spanish. This will allow us to serve a greater number of couples more effectively.
Un evento similar esta programado para los pastores hispanos el Viernes 14 de Octubre. Por favor presione aquĆ­: Salud Pareja Pastoral.



Please share this invitation with others you know. Hope to see you there...