Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Live Webcast with David Platt - April 29, 2016

Secret Church with David Platt Coming April 29th

Secret Church is an intense time of Bible study with teacher and author David Platt.  It is simulcast live around the world, to over 60,000 participants —lasting 6+ hours—including a time of prayer for Christian brothers and sisters across the globe who are facing persecution and for those who still have not heard the gospel.  This year, David will look at five major religions, what makes the gospel unique and sets it apart from other religions and how we, as followers of Christ, can share the gospel with those of different faiths.
We all have questions when it comes to sharing the gospel with people of different faiths . . .
Isn't it intolerant to say that Jesus is the only way to be right with God? 
Don't all people really serve the same God in different ways? 
What if I'm not an expert on Islam ... should I still witness to my Muslim friend? 
Why do I need to know about other religions if I'm not a missionary? 
What do I need to know about other religions when I'm witnessing to people?
Secret Church 2016: "A Global Gospel in a World of Religions"
During the next Secret Church, David Platt will explore the claims of Christ in the gospel and consider how these claims both inform the way we understand religions in the world and impact the way we live and share the gospel with others when surrounded by believers with diverse belief systems. (Read the full topic synopsis here.)

We  invite your church, small group, friends, or family to participate and be a part of the next Secret Church Simulcast, on Friday, April 29, 2016.  Register at SecretChurch.org.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Let's all 'Invite 1' to VBS

By Diana Davis
Vacation Bible School -- it's not just for church kids! VBS can be a fantastic evangelism event. Catch a vision for how your VBS could impact eternity.
Here is a simple plan to involve every member of your church or small group to engage unchurched children in a life-changing VBS. It's called: "I Invited 1".
Issue a challenge.
The goal is for every individual in your church to personally invite one unchurched boy or girl to VBS. Anyone can do that. Specifically issue a call to every child, senior adult, youth, single adult, couple and college student to take the challenge.
Ask God to alert them to children in life's path who don't attend church -- neighbors, acquaintances, schoolmates, strangers, work associates' children, and then to personally invite the child to your church's VBS.
Ask church members to bring the first name of that child next Sunday.
Make it easy.
As you issue the challenge, give each person one great-looking VBS invitation for the child they'll invite. It can be a business-card size or larger-size invitation. Include the church website for details and online registration. Pray over the invitations and ask God to direct each person to a child who needs Him.
Make it visual.
-- Create a huge "Jesus loves the little children" wall display in a visible area of the church.
-- A couple of Sundays before VBS, provide greeters with colorful die-cut paper dolls to give to each church attender to write the first name of the child they're inviting, and add it to the wall display as a prayer reminder.
-- Print well-designed, round stickers with large letters "I invited 1" for every person to proudly wear. Purchase and print sheets of circle stickers or order stickers from a printing company. You can do this for a couple of weeks. Picture this: grannies and 4-year-olds, teens and newcomers all wearing "I Invited 1" stickers. Wouldn't it be fun if some needed a dozen stickers?
-- Announce the total number, who have been personally invited so far. Pray for them. Challenge others to invite one.
Create excitement.
-- Strive for 100 percent involvement. Though many are already fully engaged in VBS planning, the majority of members probably can't offer hands-on help because of work, schedule or health. Every person of every age and circumstance can invite one child. Imagine what God can do if every member participates.
-- Children's Sunday School teachers can relay tips on how to invite friends, how to include and welcome newcomers, and how to invite them to your church after VBS.
-- Just before VBS begins, encourage members to remind the child they invited to come.
-- Instead of an all-church project, this could be done in your choir, women's ministry, youth group, deacons, small group, etc.
-- Plan an enormous follow-up on Saturday after VBS and prepare to welcome many new parents and children on Sunday.
So wear your "I Invited 1" sticker with pride and prayers. And, VBS staffers -- hold on to your hats! God's at work, His church is excited about inviting, and this may be the most thrilling VBS yet.
Keep Jesus' words from Luke 14:23 in mind: "So his master said, 'Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full.'"
Diana Davis, on the Web at www.dianadavis.org, is an author, columnist and ministry wife in Pensacola, Fla. She is the author of "Fresh Ideas for Women's Ministry" (B&H Publishing) and "SixSimple... [Expand Bio]

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Small Groups in Summer


Summer is right around the corner, and countless churches are facing the same question: What are we going to do about small groups this summer?

It’s a question that matters to small groups ministry professionals, and more importantly, to small group leaders. Often, we do one of two things: (1) cancel our groups over the summer, or (2) forge ahead as if nothing has changed from the school year. Both of these approaches have major drawbacks.

When we cancel our groups, we abandon the one thing that drives the dual engines of community and spiritual growth in our churches. And we do this during the time of the year when more people than ever are looking for a new church home.

If we just push through the summer with our weekly meetings as if it’s the fall or spring, we fail to take seriously the change in mentality that happens when school lets out. At best we will have about 25-30% attendance at our group meetings because people are not up for weekly, long-term commitments over the summer.

Small group leaders need a summer solution that offers discipleship and community but also takes seriously group members’ intermittent availability. I’d like to share one solution that we tried when I was a small groups pastor that worked really well. I hope this is helpful to you small group leaders out there in the trenches, as well as those of you who serve on church staff teams.

During the school year, we would do weekly Bible studies in our groups. But when the summer rolled around, we changed that up. We chose three “hot topics” that would be intriguing and timely. For example, one of them was entitled Responding to Islam like Jesus Would. For that topic, we filmed an interview with an expert on witnessing to Muslims. We also did one entitled Questions Every Christian Should Be Able to Answer. For that one I reached out to Mary Jo Sharp at Houston Baptist University, and we filmed a great dialogue on basic apologetics. A timely topic for this summer might be something like How Would Jesus Vote?

For existing groups, we asked them to meet just once a month over the summer to address the three topics. We provided them a link to the videos so they could watch them as a group and discuss.

For people who were not already in a group, we hosted a corresponding on-campus event where we showed the videos and people had conversations around tables. We did not ask people to sign up beforehand; we just told them to show up if they were interested. We provided dinner and childcare, and some of these table groups launched into home-based groups in the fall.

Monday, April 18, 2016

9 Trends In Church Membership And Assimilation Processes

By Chuck Lawless
I’ve studied churches in the United States for almost twenty years. During those two decades, I’ve seen growing changes in church membership and assimilation processes – particularly among newer and younger congregations. Here are some of those trends. 
  1. More churches are emphasizing membership, including requiring a membership class. More congregations are recognizing that the New Testament strongly implies that church leaders knew who their members were and held them accountable. Exclusionary discipline passages like 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 surely show church membership at that level.
  2. Churches are doing their homework before admitting members. No longer do some churches automatically accept members from other churches. Instead, they often check with previous churches to evaluate prospective church members. Some churches won’t admit members if they’re still dealing with anger or frustration toward a previous congregation.
  3. Some churches are requiring prospective new members to read books before joining. Typically, these readings are part of the required membership class. Two of the books I’ve seen required are Thom Rainer’s I Am a Church Member and Jonathan Leeman’s Church Membership.
  4. Churches are working to close the back door. They’ve learned that wide-open back doors result in poor assimilation rates. They focus on small groups and mentoring as essential discipleship strategies for closing the back door.
  5. Church discipline is assumed. They find discipline within the New Testament not as a punitive strategy, but as a means of redemption and restoration. In fact, they wonder why older churches have seldom carried out necessary discipline.
  6. Believers see themselves as responsible for, and accountable to, each other. My experience is that younger and newer churches have a helpful, growing understanding of what “church family” means. They may not always do “family” well while they’re learning, but they have the right goals in mind.  
  7. Small groups are really “life” groups. This point relates directly to the previous one. In the past, small groups were more content-focused than relationship-focused. That’s changed as churches use small groups as the glue to connect members to one another.
  8. Among evangelicals, more regular observance of the Lord’s Supper is part of strengthening the church family. In my early Christian experience, our church observed the Supper once each quarter to avoid its becoming just a ritual. More churches now recognize that it’s possible – and perhaps even necessary – to share the observance more regularly as part of the church family tradition.
  9. Churches are still wrestling with membership issues. Issues like the content of a church covenant, the necessity of signing a covenant, and the process of church discipline are still being debated.  
First appeared here...

Friday, April 15, 2016

National Sunday School Conference coming March 17-18, 2017

Bring new life to your Sunday School!

March 17-18, 2017 — First Baptist Church — Hendersonville, Tenn.

What is the most vital aspect of a healthy, growing On Track Sunday School? 
Trained and equipped Sunday School leaders!
You’re invited to see some of America’s best Sunday School practitioners and get your Sunday School leaders On Track!

The Benefits of On Track Training

  • A trained leader is a competent leader.
  • A trained leader has higher morale and enthusiasm.
  • A trained leader has a higher sense and focus on the mission.
  • A trained leader senses the value placed on them by their church.
  • A trained leader is positioned to train other leaders.
  • Research reveals growing Sunday Schools have prioritized leadership training. 
Registration Only $40Sign Up Today


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Student Ministry that Matters-3 Elements of a Healthy Student Ministry

Is your student ministry healthy?
This is a question every student minister has asked. It’s a question that brings both anger and tears.
You are growing in numbers, but something just didn’t feel right. It doesn't feel healthy. This is the “there must be more to student ministry than this” moment.
Regardless of your ministry context, church size, denomination, or years of experience, it is possible for you to have a healthy student ministry. The three elements, explained by authorBen Trueblood, will lead you to that very thing. Student Ministry that Matters gives you and your leaders a framework to answer this question, "Is my student ministry healthy?" and help you highlight areas of improvement as you seek to lead a student ministry focused on health.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Leadership Pipeline Conference - October 13-14, Nashville, TN

Pipeline Conference. October 13-14, Nashville, TN

WHERE DOES HEALTHY, EFFECTIVE LEADERSHIP COME FROM?

In short, it starts with you.
Ephesians 4 says the calling of church leaders is to "train the people in the work of the ministry." The result, Paul says, is healthier, more effective churches. Pipeline aims to help you do just that.

WHY PIPELINE?

This two‑day conference (2nd day optional) will help you learn how and why to create a leadership pipeline to develop people at every level in your church—from weekly volunteers to pastoral staff.
Pipeline is unlike other church leadership events because it offers real training, something you can take home and implement immediately.

SAVE $40 OR MORE WITH EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION

Early bird registration is now open. But act now—space is limited and Pipeline will fill up fast. Click below to view the schedule, rates, full speaker lineup, session topics, and more.
SPACE IS LIMITED—REGISTER TODAY
LifeWay Leadership


Thursday, April 7, 2016

LifeWay moves swiftly toward new headquarters

By Lisa Green
LifeWay Christian Resources appeared to leave little doubt of its aggressive timetable Wednesday (April 6) for construction of its new building, breaking ground for new headquarters just hours after closing the purchase of the property.
Within two years, LifeWay expects to move 1,100 employees into a new office building on 2.5 acres in Capitol View, a mixed-use urban development in Nashville's central business district.
On Wednesday, the future site of the nine-story, 250,000-square-foot building was primarily dirt and gravel, with front-end loaders waiting idly beside a huge white tent. Hundreds of employees gathered for a brief ceremony to pray and dedicate the new location.
"There's really a singular purpose to this -- to celebrate through prayer," LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer told the assembled employees.
Describing the future of the new property, Rainer said, "It's going to be amazing to see what will happen. Lives will be changed and people will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The only thing we can do in response is say, 'God, to You be the glory,' and pray that every day we will be used by Him."
Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee, expressed thanksgiving for LifeWay's legacy of commitment and quality. "We are proud to be partners with this organization," he said.
Several LifeWay employees then led in prayer for the project's builders and architects, for employees and the surrounding community, and for churches across the nation and around the globe.
The groundbreaking ceremony coincided with a celebration of the 125th anniversary of LifeWay, established in 1891 as the Baptist Sunday School Board. Its downtown Nashville campus eventually expanded to 14.5 acres, more than the ministry needs today.
In November 2015, LifeWay sold the property to San Diego-based Southwest Value Partners, a private real estate investment firm. The new owner plans to redevelop the site, but LifeWay will continue to occupy part of the property until its new building is complete.
Two months ago, LifeWay announced plans to build in Capitol View.
In a chapel service for employees before the groundbreaking, Rainer outlined LifeWay's 125-year history through the accomplishments of its eight previous presidents, from entrepreneurial founder J.M. Frost, "one of my heroes of the faith," to Rainer's immediate predecessor, James Draper.
Rainer noted a worldwide shift toward digital technology since his own tenure began in 2006. Preparing to move to a new location during these years "has been a God-infused effort," he said.
"Remember this place fondly -- remember how God has worked in this place -- but remember that the God of the Old and the New Testament is not limited to a place," Rainer told employees. "As we move to Capitol View, the God who has been with us for 125 years will be with us in the future."
Employees then boarded shuttles to the new location, where Rainer and his executive leadership team tossed dirt into the air with ceremonial shovels.
Construction of the new building is expected to begin almost immediately.
Lisa Cannon Green is managing editor of Facts & Trends magazine, published by LifeWay Christian Resources.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

DISCIPLESHIP [THRU] Featuring Eric Mason, Tony Merida, And More...FREE Webcast!


Discipleship [thru]
May 3, 2016  12:00 Noon CT

Being More Like Christ in All Areas of Life

You’re invited to Discipleship [Thru], a special webcast event featuring Eric Mason, Tony Merida, Darrin Patrick, Jackie Bledsoe, and many more. These Christian pastors and thought leaders will offer key insight about how discipleship happens through everyday life circumstances like marriage, tragedy, poverty, success, relationships, and more.
This event is absolutely free, making it the perfect opportunity for you and your ministry team to learn, together, how Jesus Christ provides us with daily opportunities to be more like Him.

Register today for free downloads!

Register today for Discipleship [Thru] and you will receive a 4 FREE sessions of Bible Studies for Life and a free download of Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple-Making. You can also choose to receive updates on the conference, and be entered in a drawing to win $150 in Bible Studies for Life curriculum.


 

It's a big day at LifeWay. We are celebrating 125 years of ministry today.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Give your groups an intentional path of discipleship

Bible Studies for Life

Discipleship doesn't happen by accident.

That's why Bible Studies for Life is built on a research-validated plan to make disciples at every age. Help the adults, students, and kids in your church grow closer to God together. Try Bible Studies for Life today.
View print and digital study options for every age group by clicking below.

ADULTSSTUDENTS


KIDSPRESCHOOL

Friday, April 1, 2016

Evangelism initiative keyed to small groups

The call to biblical evangelism is becoming a person-to-person, small group initiative in Oklahoma as well as a dozen other states.
The Connect>1 Evangelism Campaign, created by the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, aims to "take the Gospel to every corner of our state by engaging Sunday School classes and small groups in personal evangelism," said Bob Mayfield, BGCO Sunday School specialist.
Sunday School or small groups, as the single largest organization in most churches, are integral to the mission of the church, Mayfield said.
"By using the church's small group organization, the church will be able to engage greater involvement in evangelism from its members than by any other means," he said. "They will not have to create a new organization that will need additional leadership, budget and space on the church calendar."
Bible studies by LifeWay Christian Resources will support the Connect>1 initiative's first six weeks starting in September, with the Bible Studies for Life curriculum teaching specifically on the Gospel. Blake Gideon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla., authored the six-session study titled, "The Unvarnished Truth."
Michael Kelley, LifeWay's director of groups ministry, said, "When we learned of the opportunity to align our most popular curriculum series with a strong evangelism plan, we decided God was in this and wanted to make it work.
"The six Bible Studies for Life lessons will support Oklahoma's plan, while providing an excellent study on sharing the Gospel for the 140,000 groups that will discuss them beyond Oklahoma and other Connect>1 participating states.
"It is our hope that the seeds of the Gospel will produce a spiritual harvest this fall and beyond," Kelley said.
The Oklahoma convention is promoting Soulwinning Commitment Day on Oct. 2 to its 1,800 churches, aiming for the state's Baptists to make a minimum of 100,000 Gospel presentations to Oklahomans in the ensuing weeks.
"On Oct. 2, Oklahoma Baptists will be asked to take the '3151 Challenge' as the engagement phase of the campaign begins," said Mayfield, who has partnered with BGCO evangelism leader Mike Napier in the Connect>1 initiative.
The 3151 Challenge, Mayfield said, is an opportunity for every Oklahoma Baptist to do the following during the month of October: 3) Pray for three lost friends by name, 1) learn one Gospel presentation, 5) invite five people to your group and 1) share the Gospel at least one time."
As envisioned by the BGCO: "Imagine a plan to equip and engage every church member to be a fisher of souls," the Connect>1 online resource pages state. "A simple plan that any follower of Christ can do. A basic plan that is organized through the church's Sunday School or small groups strategy to disciple members to become exactly what Jesus called His small group of disciples to be: soulwinners!"
The Gospel message undergirding the evangelism initiative is titled "One Great Hope." As described on the Connect>1 resource pages, it focuses on four points of conversation -- "One Great God, One Great Problem, One Great Hope and One Great Decision" -- drawn from Romans 5:8, which states: "But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us!"
Mayfield added that "One Great Hope," in addition to a version for mass distribution, also is available as a "k2k" (kid to kid) tract "so that a 9-year-old can share the Gospel with a friend. It definitely has the 'cool' factor."
BGCO leaders mailed Connect>1 resource kits to every Oklahoma Baptist church the first week of March.
One Oklahoma Baptist church, however, already had taken up the 3151 Challenge.
"First Baptist Church of Rosedale decided to try the 3151 Challenge in January. They did not have any resources, but the pastor [Mike Ridgway] understood the plan well enough to challenge the church to try it," Ridgway said. "One month later, they had more than 20 first-time guests and five professions of faith. This is a rural church with an attendance of about 100 people."
Yet Oklahoma is not alone in the Connect>1 initiative, as Baptists in other states also are participating with a similar evangelism campaign adapted to their respective conventions. Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi Baptists were among the first states to tap into the Connect>1 resources. Mayfield said nine other state conventions also are utilizing the resources.
Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, affirmed the 3151 Challenge and the BGCO's development of the Connect>1 evangelism initiative.
"We borrowed this idea from our brothers and sisters in Oklahoma. They saw fruit from the emphasis, and we pray we will as well," Lance wrote in an article titled "Easy Arithmetic" on his blog at www.RickLance.com.
Lance praised the concept of inviting five people "to come to church. This may sound old-fashioned, but relational touches like personal invitations to church are needed now more than ever. We live in an increasingly disconnected society in terms of personal relationships. Inviting people to church is a warmhearted way of reaching others."
BGCO Executive Director-Treasurer Anthony L. Jordan said Oklahoma pastors are "excited to see the SBC partner like this. Our state conventions, associations and LifeWay have partnered together to provide evangelistic resources to the local church.
"Because of the contributions of Oklahoma Baptists to the Cooperative Program," Jordan added, "we are able to provide these resources to our churches at no cost, making all of the Connect>1 resources available to other state conventions to customize for their state."
Across the SBC, meanwhile, Mayfield said LifeWay's involvement is saving "hundreds of thousands of Cooperative Program dollars that would have otherwise been spent on developing curriculum by Oklahoma and other state conventions."
For more information about the BGCO's resources for Connect>1, visit www.bgco.org/connect1. Materials include teaching materials, leader guides, Gospel tracts and other materials suitable for mass use.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

LifeWay highlights small churches

Facts & Trends issue focuses on 'the power of small'
The power of small churches is the focus of the latest edition of Facts & Trends, a publication of LifeWay Christian Resources for pastors and other church leaders.
"With the majority of churches in America having weekly attendance below 100, we believe this issue will hit home with and inspire many of our readers," said Carol Pipes, the magazine's editor.
The magazine includes the unique opportunities and challenges small churches face on a daily basis as well as examples of how smaller churches have turned weaknesses into advantages. Readers will learn from church growth experts Bob Whitesel and Elmer Towns, as well as from Karl Vaters, founder of NewSmallChurch.com.
"Large or small, rural or urban, every church can make an impact for God's Kingdom," Pipes said. "We should value healthy churches of all sizes."
One of the articles in the cover section explores how megachurches are harnessing the power of "small" through small groups, multisite campuses and micro sites.
The spring 2016 issue of Facts & Trends also includes an interview with pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, author of "Reviving the Black Church," as well as articles on human trafficking and the significance of music in developing disciples.
Each issue of Facts & Trends includes church and culture trends, resource recommendations and columns by LifeWay President Thom S. Rainer and Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research.
A subscription or copies of the magazine can be obtained by contacting the magazine's staff at FactsAndTrends@LifeWay.com or visiting the FactsAndTrends.net website.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

12 Clues That You Are a Micromanager

By Tony Morgan
I’ve been around leaders of organizations for almost 30 years. In that time, I’ve never run into a leader who admitted, “I am a micromanager.” Ironically, though, I’ve routinely encountered people who acknowledge their boss is a micromanager.
There’s obviously either a perception or a self-awareness gap.
This isn’t a phenomenon only present in the business world. Church leaders can fall into this trap as well. In fact, it’s not uncommon to see this trait in leaders of fast-growing churches, particularly those that are still led by their founding pastor
In the early stages of launch, staying on top of all the details and being involved in every decision can actually lead to success.

The problem is that these same attributes of control will impede growth as the church grows larger.

Unfortunately, not all of these pastors are able to shift their leadership style to meet the changing needs of a growing ministry. And that’s one key reason why churches get stuck.
With that, I wanted to offer some wisdom to help you determine if you are holding on to too much control. Here are…12 Clues That You Are A Micromanager.