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:

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
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




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...

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Go digital studies and start today!

Bible Studies for Life

Go digital and start today!

The fall study season is nearly here, but there's still plenty of time to get the perfect resources for your groups. With Bible Studies for Life digital resources, you and your group leaders get instant access to everything they need to lead.
Bible Studies for Life digital studies are:
  • Flexible: use anytime, anywhere
  • Convenient: download today, teach tomorrow
  • Leader-friendly: easy to share via LifeWay's MyCurriculum Manager
  • Customizable: choose from additional translation choices and adjust content
  • Affordable: a great value for churches of any size
  • Mobile: app versions also available for iOS and Android devices
It's the simplest way to start a new Bible study. Discover all digital Bible Studies for Life resources for adults, students, and kids by clicking below.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Gospel Presentation Videos

The most important message kids will ever hear is the gospel.
With the help of these videos, every leader in your ministry can confidently share the gospel message with kids.
Each video presents the gospel to kids in a simple and straightforward way. You may choose any video you like, download the video for free, and then watch with your kids or use it to train your leaders.

Additional Downloads

Monday, August 29, 2016

8 Reasons You Need to Pray for Your Small Group Leader This Week

By Chuck Lawless

Whether your church has Sunday school or off-site small groups during the week, you likely have small group leaders who week after week facilitate the group. Frankly, I don’t think we spend enough time praying for these leaders. Here’s why we must cover them in prayer:
  1. They’re teaching the Word. That in itself is serious business. Anyone who studies, interprets, teaches, and applies the Word of God needs our prayers. Even if your small group leader only facilitates the study, he or she is still leading discussion of the Word.
  2. God will judge them as teachers. God holds the standards high for teachers (James 3:1), even if they’re not the primary teacher/preacher who stands in the pulpit every Sunday. The location of the teaching and the size of the crowd don’t diminish what God demands.
  3. The enemy wants to destroy teaching leaders. Satan is aware that whenany leader falls – including a small group leader – others are weakened, too. He aims his arrows at the small group leader’s personal walk and at his or her family.
  4. They must balance family, work, church, and group preparation. Most of us struggle with balance in general. Along with all the other commitments in life, small group leaders add the hours needed weekly to prepare a lesson and minister to group members.
  5. They share the burdens of their small group. In the strongest small groups, members really do share life together. That means that the leader often carries the burdens of the group. And, he or she often does that alone, depending on the nature of the concerns.
  6. They sometimes wrestle between group preparation and their personal quiet time. In fact, their small group preparation can become a source of conviction if it causes them to miss their own time with God.
  7. Their task is to raise up good leaders and then send them out. That’s tough to do, actually. Most of us love having faithful attenders and great contributors in our group – but those are often the very people we need to multiply new groups. That means that small group leaders are always seeking to send out and re-grow their group. Leading well, they never reach a place of comfort with their group’s status.    
  8. They’re sinners, too. They may be leaders, but they struggle with temptation just like the rest of us. Their families face the same pressures. Work can be just as chaotic for them, and then they must put on a good face each week with their group.  For all these reasons and others, they deserve our prayers. 
I encourage you to pray right now for your small group leader. Then, direct your other group members to this list so they can join you in prayer. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

How to Start a Small Group Bible Study in 9 Easy Steps

by Rick Howerton

Learn how to start a Bible study, create a setting where people can engage with God's Word and facilitate the growth of authentic relationships.
One of the biggest problems facing the American Church today is the fact that many people would consider themselves "unchurched."
So the challenge is this: can people be reached with the gospel despite their distrust of the local church?
The answer is yes, but we must offer an informal and relational study group in which people find personal identity.

Small-group Bible studies offer a secure and non-threatening opportunity for people to study God's Word and build authentic relationships. The key, however, is creating quality, intentional Bible study group experiences that grow out of a clear commitment to make them work.

1. Seek God's wisdom.
Pray about whether to start a small group and that God will prepare you for the next few steps in this journey. Without a doubt, this is the most neglected step. But this is a very important one because small group ministry requires leaders who have a heart for people and are willing to invest themselves in the lives of group members.

2. Clarify your vision.
Developing a mission based on prayer and commitment will help you set the course. A vision helps focus your efforts in one direction rather than chasing off in multiple directions.
3. Identify your target.
It's good to know who you want to reach through your group. Most of the time, you can figure this out just by looking around your community and asking a few questions:
·         Who is accessible to you?
·         Who do you already know?
·         Do you want to offer an early morning Bible study for business leaders?
·         Are there young moms in your community who need a support system?
·         Could you organize a prayer and Bible study group where young adults hang out?

4. Develop a strategy.
Think about the people around your church. How many have been there for years? Most likely, someone has tried this before. So that means that some have failed and some have succeeded. Bring together those people and other leaders who can offer fresh ideas and wisdom for creating something new.
5. Choose your approach.
How frequent will your group meet and what types of studies will you have? One way to choose your approach is to start with a calendar. Plan from a yearly perspective if possible, then focus in on each month. This is a great time to dream about what God can do in your community. Be mindful of your group members and what their needs are while you plan. Don't forget to allow for some flexibility in your planning.
6. Train small group leaders.
Again, the nature of small group studies is different from an ongoing Sunday School class. Identify potential leaders and their strengths, equip them based on the unique needs of the small group target and commission them to fulfill the tasks for which they have been trained.
7. Monitor the process.
The small group approach needs one central leader who coordinates the work. This leader can evaluate the effectiveness of current studies. He or she will also identify other needs to address and plan for groups.
8. Replicate.
Start every group with a leader and an apprentice. Every leader should be training an apprentice to someday lead his or her own group. Equip them to invest themselves in others as their leaders have in them. (Learn more about an intentional plan for discipleship.)

9. Learn and apply.
As you complete different studies or books, evaluate and plan new groups based on your experience. Never be afraid to adapt. Use all the organizational tools you can find to create a life-changing small group ministry.

Free Resources Recommended for You
Get access to free resources, practical advice and spiritual guidance for groups ministry, all provided by leaders you can trust.
A small group is essential to a woman's spiritual growth. It provides acceptance, affirmation, accountability and much more.
Consider these three phases when developing a devotion to prayer among the people in your church.
Rick Howerton is the discipleship and small group specialist at LifeWay. He is founding pastor of The Bridge Church in Spring Hill, Tenn., and author of Countdown: Launching and Leading Transformational Group.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The New and Most Popular Studies at

The Heart of God's Story by George Guthrie

This 6-session Bible study explores the beauty and power of God’s unfolding story in Scripture, weaving the teaching around three key, interlocking themes: face, space, and grace. Face focuses on God’s presence as the central theme of Scripture; Space points to God’s creating a place for us to walk with Him and live for Him in the world; Grace refers to God’s outward focus as He gives humanity a mission in the world.

Unstoppable Gospel by Gregg Matte

This 6-session study journeys through the exciting early days of the church. As the Book of Acts opens, you'll see a room full of huddled, scared disciples, completely powerless and uncertain of the future. You'll also see these same followers become empowered men and women, advancing throughout the world, proclaiming the unstoppable gospel that turned the world upside down.

Other new studies at

  • More Than Enough: A 6-week study on peace by Jeff Iorg
  • Connect the Dots: A 6-week study for young adults on God's will by Mike Hurt
  • Samson: A 6-week study on God-given purpose by Chip Henderson