Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Church response to domestic violence focus of study

By Bob Smietana

When it comes to domestic violence, Protestant pastors want to be helpful but often don't know where to start, a new study shows.
Most say their church would be a safe haven for victims of domestic violence. But many don't know if anyone in their church has been a victim of domestic violence. And only half say they have a plan in place to help if a victim comes forward, according to a new report on churches and domestic abuse from Nashville-based LifeWay Research. The study, conducted Aug. 22–Sept. 16, is based on a phone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors.
Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, said churches want to help victims of domestic violence but aren't always effective at doing so.
"Many pastors aren't aware if domestic violence is happening in their congregation," McConnell said. "And even if they are aware, they often don't know how to help."

Monday, February 20, 2017

Great and Not So Great Pastors!

Over the years I have worked with and for a lot of pastors and interim pastors. At one time I think I counted up that there were 18 along they way.

That's a lot of pastors...some were great to work with and some were not so great.

These two posts from Thom S. Rainer made me think of several of the good ones and the bad ones I've journeyed with. 


Ten Ways Pastors Can Be Bad Bosses

Ten Ways Pastors Can Be Great Bosses

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Big Picture Easter Bundle for Kids Ministries

The Big Picture Easter Bundle: From the Makers of The Gospel Project for Kids provides digital content for five one-hour sessions centered around Easter. Bundle includes downloadable Bible story videos, songs, music videos, discussion starter videos for kids, digital Leader Guides, Activity Pages for preschoolers and kids, posters, coloring pages, Big Picture Cards for Families, and more. Leader Guides are filled with step-by-step instructions and activity suggestions, including low-prep options for busy leaders. Bonus content includes the Big Story Circle digital download (a $39.99 value!) and more.

Sessions include:
  • The Last Supper
  • Jesus' Triumphal Entry
  • Jesus' Crucifixion and Resurrection
  • The Emmaus Disciples
  • Jesus Appeared to the Disciples

You have options! Tell the story in chronological order OR study Jesus’ Triumphal Entry on Palm Sunday. Sessions are flexible and can be mixed and matched according to your needs.

The Gospel Project for Kids is a Christ-centered Bible study resource that looks at the big picture of God's story — the story of redemption through Jesus Christ. Each week, kids of all ages will follow a chronological timeline of Bible events, all the while learning how each story points to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Throughout these Easter sessions, kids will discover God’s plan for redemption, which began before creation, culminates with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus was welcomed as King but days later was crucified by the people. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and subsequent resurrection provided salvation for sinners and restores our relationship with God.

Learn more and order here...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Ongoing Power of a 95-year-old Formula

Sometimes when I need to gather my thoughts, I will go to a space where I can be surrounded by reminders of LifeWay’s history. In the middle of one display is Arthur Flake’s journal. Flake was a businessman and volunteer church leader from Winona, Mississippi. In 1920, he became the first leader of the Sunday School division at LifeWay (then the Baptist Sunday School Board). One of the first things he did was establish a set of standards that painted a picture of an effective Sunday School. The journal on display at the LifeWay building contains Flake’s notes for establishing that standard.

The journal is opened to a significant page (see image above) that includes a list of actions that would become known as Flake’s Formula. The formula eventually evolved to these points:
  • Know the possibilities
  • Enlarge the organization
  • Enlist and train leaders
  • Provide space and resources
  • Go after the people
The men who followed Flake (Gaines Dobbins, J. N. Barnette, Othal Feather, A. V. Washburn, Harry Piland, Bill Taylor, and now David Francis) built upon this formula. Flake’s formula was the impetus for much of the growth of Southern Baptist Sunday School in the 20th century.

Read more of Part 1 and be sure to follow the links to Parts 2, 3, and 4 of this great treatment of Flake's Formula.

Monday, February 13, 2017

13 training options for Bible study group leaders

By Ken Braddy
It’s true that training makes a difference. The leaders of the Georgia Baptist Convention surveyed over training2500 churches in that state and asked the question, “How frequently do you train your group leaders?” Then they sought to understand the growth pattern of those same churches over a four year time period. The result? A strong correlation between training and growth emerged. Churches that trained group leaders quarterly or monthly grew at a rate of just over 13% during that time period. Churches that had no ongoing training actually decreased in size by just over 2%. The conclusion? There’s a connection. Training matters!
Here are 13 training options for churches of all sizes and shapes. There’s no reason any church should be without a plan for training if you offer some of these:
  1. Weekly training. Few churches do this today, and those that do typically offer only one curriculum in all of their adult groups (or student and kids groups) so the focus is on helping teachers look ahead at the upcoming lesson. Lesson preparation is normally the theme of these meetings.
  2. Monthly training. This typically involves age-group training (adult, student, and kids leaders) in separate training sessions. Each group participates in training designed for the age groups they lead.
  3. Quarterly training. Churches that practice this kind of training bring all group leaders together in one room to hear a message designed for them all. A guest speaker is frequently brought in to rally the troops.
  4. Training opportunities offered by your local association. Local associations of churches often schedule training events in the Fall, Spring, and late Summer. Check with your local association to know what their pattern of training looks like. These tend to be affordable, low-cost events.
  5. Training opportunities offered by your state convention. Like local associations, state conventions offer training events as well. These take place year-round, so check with your state convention about the training opportunities they are providing this year. These tend to be affordable, but often require traveling to a regional location.
  6. Regional training opportunities offered by LifeWay. The company I work for provides regional training events called “Transform” and we utilize professional trainers and practitioners to deliver high-quality workshops aimed at improving teaching in all kinds of settings.
  7. National training opportunities offered by LifeWay. LifeWay owns the Ridgecrest on-track-ss-poster-1_5Conference Center in North Carolina and offers training events there. It also schedules events like the On Track Sunday School Training Conference, offered just once a year in a destination city like Nashville.
  8. Personal training. There is nothing to keep you, a group leader, from creating your own annual plan for personal training. This may include a workshop you pay to attend, or books you read on your own so you become a more effective group leader.
  9. Training in triads or quads. Some church leaders enjoy placing group leaders in smaller groups of 3 or 4 persons for the purpose of training them. The group is asked to read a book or article provided by the church staff leader to whom they report. The group then gets together once or twice to discuss what they’ve learned.
  10. Training done in a retreat setting. If a church can afford this kind of investment, it can pay big dividends. A retreat setting allows everyone to focus on the training and relationship-building that takes place when you get away for a few days.
  11. Training done by partnering with another church. Churches are learning they can partner with one another and share costs of bringing in a guest presenter. This makes training affordable for both churches (or perhaps 3 or 4 churches).
  12. Training done online. LifeWay’s Ministry Grid is an online tool for training group leaders. It is customizable, and there are thousands of videos available and ready to be watched by busy group leaders – at their own pace and in their own time.
  13. Training using this blog. Some church pastors and leaders like to take content from a blog like this one and use it to train group leaders. I list other blogs sites that might be helpful in the top right corner of the blog’s home page so that you have even more options.

Friday, February 10, 2017

New Bible, building top LifeWay reports

By Lisa Cannon Green
Christian Resources is looking ahead to a newly revised Bible translation and a new corporate headquarters, leaders told trustees this week.
At their semiannual meeting Feb. 6-7, trustees received copies of LifeWay's new Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which is online now and will be available at LifeWay Stores and other retail outlets in March.
"We're honored to have a Bible translation our own denomination is a part of stewarding," said Eric Geiger, vice president of LifeWay's Resources Division. Southern Baptist scholars Tom Schreiner and David Allen led the multi-denominational translation oversight committee.
The CSB, a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible, focuses on both accuracy and ease of reading, Geiger said. "You don't have to choose between the two." See related story.
In his report to trustees, LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer highlighted progress toward a new corporate headquarters. LifeWay sold its current site in downtown Nashville in late 2015 and is building a more modern facility in nearby Capitol View, a mixed-use urban development that will include apartments, retail, offices, a hotel and a park.
"This is the cutting edge of downtown Nashville," Rainer said. LifeWay expects to move 1,100 employees to the new building before the end of the year.
Though the building will be new, it preserves LifeWay's history and values, Rainer said. He pointed out details on architectural renderings: "Those stained-glass windows are coming directly from our chapel, to remind us of the heritage we had in Van Ness Auditorium for so many years. Right above those steps, you see John 14:6. There will be historically significant items throughout these floors, and there will be Scripture prominent everywhere."
The new building will also include a LifeWay Christian Store, with street frontage and an entrance from the lobby. LifeWay's previous store in downtown Nashville closed after the property was sold.
Jerry Rhyne, CFO and vice president of finance and business services, reported a solid financial performance for 2016. Geiger noted the popularity of "War Room" the movie and its accompanying Bible study by brothers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, and strong results in 2016 for Fuge Camps, B&H Academic and global markets.
Rainer emphasized LifeWay's need to adapt quickly in a fast-changing world. He traced the history of LifeWay, noting how church practices continue to change and how technology is evolving.
"The pace of LifeWay is fast," he told the trustees. "Urgency is our constant theme. We cannot at all afford complacency."
He pledged LifeWay will learn from churches and serve them with excellence while refusing to compromise God's truth.
"These are challenging times, but they are also times of greatest opportunity yet," Rainer said. "And so we move into the future with confidence."
In other action, the trustees:
-- Nominated Ron Edmondson, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., to fill a vacancy on the board.
-- Learned LifeWay has received a "clean audit" from outside auditor LBMC. The audits covered LifeWay's operations, pension plan and post-retirement benefits plan. LifeWay also received a clean PCI (Payment Card Industry) audit for its handling of customers' bank credit card activity.
-- Discussed and approved responses to two motions referred to LifeWay by the Southern Baptist Convention during last summer's meeting. The responses, regarding news coverage of trustee meetings and preservation of Southern Baptist Convention history, will be reported to the 2017 SBC meeting June 13-14 in Phoenix.
-- Recognized five trustees who are ending their board service in June. They are Beth Guffin, of Birmingham, Ala.; Alan Hayes, of Mt. Juliet, Tenn.; David Horner, of Raleigh, N.C.; Blake Lindley, of Norman, Okla.; and Peter MacMaster, of Healy, Alaska.
-- Heard reports from each of LifeWay's vice presidents regarding progress and plans for ministry advance.
Lisa Cannon Green is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

LifeWay releases new Christian Standard Bible

By Aaron Earls

LifeWay Christian Resources released its newly revised Bible translation this week. The full text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is available at www.CSBible.com, with print versions releasing in early March.

As a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), the CSB balances linguistic precision to the original languages and readability in contemporary English.

"We believe this is a translation that combines accuracy and readability without compromise," said Trevin Wax, Bible and reference publisher at B&H Publishing Group, part of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Independent research from the Global Bible Initiative reported the CSB had the best combination of adherence to the original text and readability for a modern audience.

"With the CSB, Bible readers and teachers can rest assured they have a translation that communicates ancient truths to a contemporary audience as faithfully and clearly as possible," Wax said.

More than 100 Bible scholars from 17 denominations translated the HCSB from the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.

The CSB revision and oversight committee, a team of top biblical scholars, incorporated advances in biblical scholarship since the original translation, as well as input from Bible scholars, pastors and readers to provide an accurate and readable translation.

"This team has delivered a translation that hits the sweet spot between fidelity and readability," Wax said.

Tom Schreiner, professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and David Allen, dean and professor of preaching at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, co-chaired the multi-denominational committee.

LifeWay President and CEO Thom S. Rainer said he was excited about the release of the CSB. "We know millions of pastors, teachers and Bible readers have a commitment to God's Word. At LifeWay, we share that commitment.

"Because God's Word is faithful and true, we wanted to provide a translation that is faithful to the original text, while being highly readable," Rainer said. "I believe the CSB will engage more people in reading and sharing God's Word."

Already, the CSB has been endorsed by numerous pastors including Tony Evans, Robby Gallaty, Eric Mason and Derwin Gray, as well as Bible teachers Kelly Minter, Lisa Harper and the team behind the popular women's Bible study, She Reads Truth.

For Wax, who also serves as a teaching pastor, the CSB makes an easy transition from the pastor's study to the pulpit. "As a pastor, I've grown more confident in the CSB's accuracy and precision," he said. "It is a text I can use for sermon preparation and serious Bible study."

He also believes the new revision makes discipleship and evangelism easier. "Because it is clear and easy to read, I can share it with people who are new to the Word of God as well as those who are already regular Bible readers."

A full version of the CSB is available at Read.CSBible.com. Beginning this month, the translation will be available through other Bible apps and website. CSB Bibles will be available at LifeWay Stores in March.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

See what's next in Bible Studies for Life

The upcoming spring edition of Bible Studies for Life is all about Jesus. The first section, Victory, covers the victory that’s available through Him—over fear and sin, with faith and hope, and shared with all believers. The second section, Identity: My Life of Faith, shows that how you serve your family, carry out your work, and live out your faith is a strong, consistent witness of your relationship with Jesus Christ. The study includes a special focus session for Easter—He Is Risen.
See a Personal Study Guide sample
See a Leader Guide sample
Or order now

Friday, January 13, 2017

10 Questions I Have for Small Group Leaders

By Chuck Lawless

My wife and I have always been members of churches with a Sunday School program until we joined our current church, Restoration Church in Wake Forest, NC. Now, we attend a small group that meets in a home on Tuesday nights, and we’re learning more about this approach.
In my opinion, the leader of either type of group makes or breaks the group. So, here are some questions all small group leaders need to consider.

Monday, January 9, 2017

3 Mistakes Leaders Make When Starting a New Year

Here is a typical scene the week after Christmas…
A leader gets some rest, feels rejuvenated, and the burden to lead the team better in the New Year starts to grow. The leader reads a book, favorites a dozen blogs, listens to some leadership training on a variety of topics, and is fired up for the first meeting with the team he/she leads. In the midst of the enthusiasm, here are 3 common mistakes leaders make as a new year begins. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Get a biblical, actionable framework for developing leaders at every level of the church!

Pipeline Leadership
"You might walk into the conference with a hazy understanding of how [this] can be done, but you'll walk out with a clear and compelling understanding, definition, and framework for, not only the importance of leadership development, but how you can begin to implement that in your local church." - Reid A., Orlando, FL


The first annual Pipeline Conference sold out, but if you missed it, we are pleased to announce Pipeline Regionals, coming in 2017.
Pipeline coaching will help you and your leadership team understand the why of leadership development, explore the core competencies of developing leaders at every level, and send you home with a plan you can implement immediately. This framework for leadership development is:
  • Biblical: principles rooted in truth and relevant to churches large and small; rural, urban, and suburban
  • Foundational: outlines everything you need to establish a culture of leadership development
  • Practical: gives you a game plan you can take home and implement immediately
  • Collaborative: sparks essential strategic conversations with your leadership team


No other event provides this combination of a proven, biblical framework for development with an actionable plan you can use. But if you want to attend, act now as space is limited! Click below to learn more.