Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ministry Grid -- Weekly Live Demos and Get 30 Days FREE!

When it comes to developing your leaders, Ministry Grid is here to support your every need. Our free, weekly live demos let you engage, ask questions, and see first hand how Ministry Grid can work for your church or organization.

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Monday, June 23, 2014

KNOWN Rolls Out New Series for Students

Coming Fall 2014

Coming fall 2014, KNOWN will be rolling out a new series of studies starting with Salvation, Right & Wrong, and Love.
Check out the new look in the sample HERE.
View a complete list of 2014-2015 studies HERE.
Getting Started with KNOWN?
Available in print and digital options. See your ordering options HERE.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Nine Issues to Consider for Church Staff Meetings

By Thom S. Rainer
The first church where I served as pastor many years ago only had seven regular attending members in the early stages of my ministry there. I still had church staff meetings, even though I had no paid staff, and I was a bi-vocational pastor. At the onset, there were three of us: the lone deacon who served as worship leader; his son, the Sunday school director; and me. We met monthly unless we had a pressing need to meet more often.
I took the principles I learned from the staff meetings of that small church and applied them to future churches where I served as pastor, as well as other places where I had a leadership role. Keep in mind that there is no perfect formula for these meetings. I have, however, found these nine key issues to be applicable in almost every leadership situation.

Friday, June 13, 2014

3 Ways Churches Can Reverse the Absence of Millennials

By Mark Whitt

There’s been much buzz on the Internet recently about the absence of young adults in churches. Numerous blogs, research statistics, and denominational reports point toward this significant decline. There have been countless comments and conversations about the reasons Millennials are not connecting to church.

But I’m not quite ready to say “the sky is falling” just yet. Why? Because I believe the Lord is going to use this generation significantly to proclaim the kingdom of God in a world that’s seeking for hope in something. There are obvious characteristics among the Millennial generation that will be used to take the gospel into the dark places of our world.

When it comes to Millennials, here are few things to remember:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Build and Manage Great Teams

By Jeff Harden


No one does anything worthwhile alone, and that's why we all want--scratch that--why we all need--to build great teams.
But is team-building an art or a science?
Great question--one I asked Gregory Ciotti, a Customer Champion at HelpScout, a company that provides email support software for SaaS and ecommerce, if he could answer. (Gregory also has a very cool blog.)
Here's what Gregory put together:
When it comes to assembling, motivating and keeping a great team happy so that they can flourish in your business, the truth is that it's a bit of both.
There's no way to overstate how important a great team is to a business' success. The quality of the work you do will exceeds the quality of the team behind it. Yet to many an entrepreneur's and manager's dismay, teambuilding often seems as complicated as watch making--there are a lot of moving parts and things have to be just right in order to create something magical.
Fortunately, academic research on team culture and group dynamics sheds some much needed light on creating and motivating the perfect team.
Here's a look at ten of the best studies available. Check them out to learn practical steps youcan do to ensure your team is set up for success.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What Happens When Your Discipleship Pastor Goes Missing?

By Eric Geiger
Leaders and organizations make decisions all the time. They choose a direction, allocate resources, and execute. Often there are unintended implications, sometimes good and sometimes bad. The unintended implications don’t necessarily reveal themselves immediately but are often more understood as time passes.
In the last 6-8 years, the role of “minister of education” or “discipleship pastor” has been diminishing in many churches. For those unfamiliar with the role, for many years, in churches of 200 or more, a minister of education/discipleship pastor was often hired to lead all the “education” or discipleship ministries of the church. The staff member typically provided direction to the adult groups either directly or through a team and led staff and leaders assigned to other age groups. So in those churches, a kids ministry director/pastor and student ministry director/pastor reported to the minister of education.
Depending on the context, there may be multiple reasons why churches moved away from the role. One, of course, was financial. Some churches and church leaders viewed the “minister of education” as middle management. And we know what happens to middle management in a financial crisis. Instead of leading through the minister of education/discipleship pastor, senior pastors/executive pastors decided they would lead the kids, students, and adult teams directly.
In some churches, the move has worked well. Senior pastors/executive pastors have stepped in and effectively filled the need that the minister of education was addressing. But in many churches, three unintended consequences have emerged.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Bible Study Headquarters Now In LifeWay Stores

Last month LifeWay Stores unveiled the newly designed Bible Study Headquarters, now a prominent feature in all locations.
“The new Bible study reset will allow us to better meet our customer’s needs and make it easier for our staff to help customers find what they are looking for,” says Stacie Weavil, visual merchandising manager for LifeWay Stores. “We wanted to find the best way to showcase Bible study products in our stores,” says Stacie.
In the new floor design, Bible studies are arranged by category—from new releases and best sellers to Bible studies for men, women, individuals, and groups. There’s also a section called Bible Studies for Today’s Church that features Bible Studies for Life, The Gospel Project, and Explore the Bible.
The new design includes “way-finding signs” that guide customers to a particular section depending on the type of content they are looking for. The Bible Study Headquarters floorplan was tested in four stores last summer. It has now been implemented in 169 LifeWay Stores across the nation and will be implemented in the remaining 17 stores this summer.
“There’s been a huge amount of excitement in the stores. To get to this point as quickly as we did is a miracle,” Stacie says.
“We want to make sure store managers and associates have what they need to be able to help customers and ultimately help spread the gospel.”

Monday, June 9, 2014

Free tools for biblical illiteracy. This week only!

By Cindy Landes

As a free gift to you and your ministry, this week you can receive one month free of Explore the Bible + the free ebook, Read the Bible for Life + one church will win $500 in Explore the Bible Fall Resources. Click here http://lfwy.cc/xy3uY

Sign up for free downloads of Explore the Bible preview sessions and you will receive a link to your free ebook download. Also if you are 18 years of age or older and live in the United States, with your sign up (prior to deadline of 11:59 pm CST on Thursday, June 12, 2014) you will be entered to win $500 (retail value) of Explore the Bible Fall 2014 resources. Winner will be announced on Friday, June 13, 2014. Winner will be contacted by email and have until 5:00 pm CST on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, to reply to accept prize. If winner does not contact the LifeWay contact by deadline, they forfeit their prize.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

13 Books Every Leader Should Read



By Eric Geiger

I am frequently asked about what business/leadership books I think are helpful for church leaders to read. I think there are two polar opposites that need to be avoided when believers who lead ministries consider adding “leadership and business books” to their reading diet.

On one extreme, there are people who consider it unspiritual and ludicrous for a church leader to read a leadership book written from a perspective that is not distinctly Christian. After all, what does leading an organization have to do with the sacred body of Christ? Or as Tertullian asked, “What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?” On the other end of the spectrum are those who read every leadership book possible, insisting that because “all truth is God’s truth,” there are important lessons for the people of God.

While I understand both views, I think it is wise to avoid the extremes. We must heed the caution not to compare the bride of Christ to another organization, but there are some helpful insights to be learned from the secular world. As Jesus said, “sometimes the sons of this age are more astute than the sons of light.” At the same time, we must read with a discerning mind knowing that we are often reading from a view of “the sons of this age.”

With that said, here are thirteen books I think can be helpful to church leaders. I have placed an overarching need the book addresses in parentheses next to the title.

Friday, June 6, 2014

10 Wise Leadership Lessons I’ll Never Forget

By Faith Whatley

I am so grateful for the leaders who have poured into my life and development over the years. It’s those same leaders you find yourself quoting as you mature into your leadership voice. When you start to lead a team these treasured nuggets of advice are put to the test. Here’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received:

1. Cultivate Relationships. More than 20 years ago a very wise leader told me to work hard and build a lot of relationships. No matter the size of the company or your team, make sure you know everyone.

2. Learn from Weakness. If you find yourself under poor leadership, take time to learn from that weak leader. You can learn just as much from a weak leader as you can from a strong leader. When you have a weak leader, you learn things you should never do which can be more important than the things you should do.

3. Just Get Happy. Sometimes we just need someone to reset our emotions and expectations. There have been times I have felt unsettled and wondered what life would be like if I made a drastic career change. In other words, could the grass be greener on the other side? These times have been rare, but someone really important to me said, “You need to get happy, you are in a good situation.” When my attitude changed, I found new energy in my work.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

New Bible Study Insider App Free Download


On the go? Get the App.
Rushing to your small group and need an icebreaker? Stumped by a new challenge in your small group? Looking for your next study?

We're pleased to announce the free Bible Study Insider App. Get insider access to intriguing icebreakers, answers to questions leaders often ask, and video previews and PDF samples of our latest Bible studies.


Download For FREE Today!    Apple iTunes     Google play


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Explore the Bible Curriculum Sampler Now Available!

I received today my anticipated sets of Explore the Bible Curriculum Sampler. The UPS man just now dropped my boxes at my door, rang the bell, and drove away!

I have had much interest from church leaders eager to examine actual copies of these new resources that are expanding this Fall to now also include resources for Young Adults, Students, Children, and Preschool to go with the long existing resources for Adults.

You can get you very own Explore the Bible Curriculum Sampler right here for only $10 and the shipping is free! Or you can pick one up from a local LifeWay Store. They also contain a coupon for $10 toward the purchase of Explore the Bible resources!

To learn the full details of the Explore the Bible resources for all ages and download free lessons, go here.

Monday, June 2, 2014

2015 VBS: 'Journey Off the Map'

By Aaron Earls

Kids will have the opportunity next summer to explore and discover the adventure of life during a "Journey Off the Map" that is "Unknown to Us, Known to Him" in the 2015 Vacation Bible School from LifeWay Christian Resources.

The description of the 2015 VBS theme invites students to "set out on a journey to uncharted territory where they will encounter the unexpected waiting around every bend. On this expedition of a lifetime, kids will need to stick close to their guide in order to survive. They will discover that Jesus is the ultimate guide on a journey uncharted by them, but known by Him."


Learn more...

Friday, May 30, 2014

Rainer writes 'autopsy' of 'deceased' churches

By Thom S. Rainer

The church was dying and didn't know it. Attendance was down, the building was mostly empty, and the glory days had long since passed.

As a last resort, a church member asked LifeWay Christian Resources' president, Thom S. Rainer, for advice. Rainer spent a few weeks studying the church, then recommended a number of changes.

But church leaders rejected them. 

As he walked out the door, Rainer knew it was simply a matter of time before the church died. Later, he and a friend performed a kind of autopsy on the church -- reviewing its last few years for what went wrong. 

Lessons from that church autopsy -- along with about a dozen others -- are included in Rainer's latest book, "Autopsy of a Deceased Church" from LifeWay's B&H Publishing imprint.

The book is meant for struggling and vibrant churches alike, Rainer said. "Even healthy churches need to learn from autopsies," he said, "because they can tell us paths of prevention."


Read more...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Free Access to Sermon Illustrations Database and Other Resources from Dr. Tom Goodman

In the Spring of 2007 as I was preparing to make a ministry change I experienced incredible pains working thru my collection of ministry notes and resources that I had collected over a 35 year period. I had lots of stuff to sort thru and decide what to keep and what not to keep. Decisions had to be made because I knew that I could not keep the 3000+ volumes in my library nor the nine filing cabinets of papers, notes, articles, etc. There was just not going to be space in my home office into which I was moving.

These materials represented my life and ministry going back to my teen years and it pained me to know most of it would have to go since I could not access it electronically or physically store it any longer. So, I began the process of discarding and giving away what to me was extremely valuable and personal until I got it down to a more managible size. And I will always have moments when I think...man, I wish I still had those notes.

This was my flash back as I read my email today from Dr. Tom Goodman at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Austin. Congratulations Tom on your accomplishment in digitizing so much of your work and your willingness to share it with others.

Here is a weblink where you can access many years of this fine pastors hard study, work, and writing. Enjoy and be blessed!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Seven Habits of Outwardly Focused Churches

By Thom S. Rainer
It was not a dramatic moment in time. Instead it was subtle, almost too subtle to be noticed. It became evident first in mainline churches. But evangelical churches followed a few years later. The erosion was slow, but it became glaringly apparent after several years.
The change of which I speak is the movement away from outwardly focused ministries in churches. Over time, most of the resources of time, money, and ministries have shifted more toward the members. Churches are now gathering in holy huddles with little intention of breaking out into a world of lostness and loneliness.
How did this negative trend develop? Though many perspectives could be offered, allow me simply to share the practical perspective. There was a time when most churches had an outreach ministry. And more times than not, this ministry was a type of program with predictable patterns.
But church leaders, vocational and lay alike, became program averse. So they slowly began eliminating outreach programs in their churches. I understand why this development took place. The programs seemed ineffective, not culturally relevant, and often cumbersome to lead and implement.
The problem, however, is that nothing replaced the programs. And the mild culture of outreach in churches was replaced with no culture of outreach.
At the same time, more churches started sending members on international mission trips. This development was good. But it gave many in the church a sense of false comfort that the church was really outwardly focused. The problem was that many times the local community became a neglected mission field.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

4 Benefits of Bible Study Alignment

If you know the story of Southwest Airlines as told in the book Nuts!, then you know that the airline aligned its fleet around one type of aircraft — the 737. Replacement parts were interchangeable. Pilots were trained efficiently on flying one type of airplane, not several types. Flight crews could be transferred from plane to plane and they were always familiar with the layout and safety features of each plane because every aircraft was the same. Mechanics were trained to work on one type of aircraft - you guessed it — the 737.

Southwest's simple philosophy of aligning its fleet, employees, and customers around one type of plane has paid huge dividends for the airline. In fact, Southwest has consistently been profitable while many other airlines have gone bankrupt. Alignment works.

Is there any real benefit to aligning different age groups in your church through the same Bible study? Is there any benefit if you align even for a short amount of time? The answer is "yes."

Read more...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Enhance Your Vacation Bible School With A Movie Night!

Add a new dimension to this years’ Vacation Bible School with a movie night!!

Get your church fired up for Agency D3, enhance your parent night, or give the kids a preview of what's coming at VBS this summer. Rocket Pack Jack and the Babylon Virus is a new tool from LifeWay Films and LifeWay Kids that takes the daily Worship Rally videos, adds some additional scenes, and is re-edited into a 45-minute action-packed movie!
This DVD is great to send home with VBS families, or to use as an outreach tool for kids and families who may not attend your church regularly. Give them away or even sell them if you like! We offer bulk package pricing to make it as affordable as possible!

Friday, May 23, 2014

It’s Time to Reimagine VBS Follow-up

By Jerry Wooley
With the first days of Vacation Bible School just around the corner it’s time – actually past time – to start making plans to continue the connections begun with unchurched families during VBS.
You might assume I’m referring to follow-up (an action or series of actions), and on some level you would be correct. But continuing the connection is much more than an action. It’s a philosophy of why we conduct VBS in the first place. It’s a change from believing VBS is an end in itself, to believing VBS is just the beginning – the launch pad for future evangelistic opportunities.
Simply put, approximately 300,000 unchurched individuals attend VBS each year. During VBS we have a great opportunity to share the Gospel, resulting in approximately 80,000 professions of faith. This is a phenomenal number for one week of ministry, but what might the number of professions of faith be if we truly became intentional about building on the relationships (continuing the connections) begun during the week?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Millennials and the Demise of Print: Five Implications for Churches

By Thom S. Ranier
As the president of an organization that has huge investments in both print and digital assets, I watch the trends related to the two closely. Current discussions focus on a few basic issues. First, digital communication is pervasive and growing. Any metric will affirm that reality. Second, print as a form of communication is suffering in most areas. Third, print will have occasional rebounds that will give print adherents hope that it is not going away. In the past couple of years, for example, print book sales have stabilized.
But a recent article by Henry Blodget in Business Insider shed some fresh perspectives on this issue. He notes the allegiance to print media is highly influenced by the age of the readers. Simply stated, the older you are, the more likely you are to like, or even prefer, print. Of course, that information is really stating the obvious.
The Stark Reality of the Future of Print
But Blodget notes recent research that is almost breathtaking. The research looked at media preferences for different age groups. The stark reality of the future of print is most noticeable in the 16-to-24 age group and the 25-to-34 age group. The Millennials have absolutely no loyalty to or preference for print mediaBlodget’s words are worth repeating:
“Media consumers in the 0s, 10s, 20s, and 30s have no such print alliances. To them, the idea of printing on a dead tree and then trucking it to houses and newsstands seems ludicrous, old-fashioned, inconvenient, and wasteful. To these folks, paper-based publications are a pain to carry and search, easy to misplace, and hard to share, and the information in them is outdated the moment it appears. For those who weren’t raised on paper, digital is superior in almost every way.”
Wow. Those words are painful for an old print adherent like me. But facts are our friends, and I would rather deal with reality than deny reality.

Five Implications for the Church

Of course, after I read the article, my mind traversed quickly to implications for local churches. I see at least five at this point.

Monday, May 19, 2014

New Worship For Life: Kids works anytime!

Any size church. Any size kids ministry. Any time slot.
Worship For Life: Kids works!

Worship For Life: Kids is a large group, media-driven, interactive worship experience for kids. It comes with complete scripts for live stage presentations and with ready-to-use videos. Simply choose the format that works best for your group. Each week kids will hear a presentation of the gospel and learn how to apply God's Word to their lives!
Worship For Life: Kids provides solid biblical teaching, engaging worship, group games, and take-home family resources — all wrapped in a fun, energetic experience that your kids will love!

Worship For Life: KidsBible Studies for Life KidsThe Best of Both Worlds

Worship For Life: Kids is a large-group worship experience designed to work hand-in-hand with Bible Studies For Life: Kids, our small group Bible study resource. To reinforce learning, they follow the same study plan. Use Worship For Life: Kids as a stand-alone resource or use the two together to program multiple time slots!

Learn more...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Explore the Bible expands, includes kids and students

By Carol Pipes

Beginning this fall, LifeWay's Explore the Bible ongoing curriculum line will expand to include young adults, students and kids. 

"Until now, Explore the Bible has been a book-by-book study only for adults," Toby Jennings, managing editor of the study, said. "With this expansion, it will become the only curriculum we know that provides book-by-book Bible study for groups of all ages."

Adults and students will study the same passage of Scripture every week. The material for kids will focus on the same concept within the same book as adults and students. They may, however, cross-reference a connected story in Scripture that elaborates on the primary message to make challenging concepts more kid-friendly. All ages will study the same memory verse.

Jennings explained that each study session is developed to help groups understand the Bible passage within its larger biblical context. Sessions include engaging discussion questions, in-depth Bible commentary and a comprehensive reading plan for each book of the Bible.

Explore the Bible is partnering with leading Bible teachers and scholars to develop the material and serve as general editors for specific studies. Well-known pastor, author and radio teacher David Jeremiah will serve as general editor for this fall's study of Hebrews. 

Tony Evans, another renowned teacher and author, is leading the winter study of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah. Other general editors include Union University's George Guthrie, and senior pastors Jim Shaddix, Afshin Ziafat, Gregg Matte, Vance Pitman and Bryan Loritts.

In addition to the 13-session ongoing study, Explore the Bible will also be available in six-session studies for small groups.


Read more...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Nine Rapid Changes in Church Worship Services

By Thom S. Rainer
If you were attending a church worship service in 1955 and then returned to the same church in 1975, the changes would be noticeable but not dramatic. Churches were slow to change over that 20-year period. If you, however, attended a church worship service in 2000 and then returned to that same church in 2010, there is a high likelihood you would see dramatic changes in just ten years.
What, then, are some of the most significant changes? Please allow me to offer some trends from anecdotal information, church consultations, and objective research. As a caveat, some of the data based research comes from an excellent study, The National Congregations Study by Duke University. This study, fortunately, is longitudinal, so it is able to look at changes over many years. But the study is also dated, with the latest data reported in 2007.
From these multiple sources, I have assembled nine changes that have come at a rapid pace in many churches. Please note my perspective. I am offering these from the perspective of a researcher; I am not making qualitative assessments. Also, with every trend there will be thousands of churches that are exceptions to the norm. But these are the changes in the majority of churches in North America.

Monday, May 12, 2014

How Ministry Grid Can Train Your Church Leaders - FREE Training in Houston May 20






How Ministry Grid Can Help Your Church (Houston)

Houston, Texas

How Ministry Grid Can Help Your Church (Houston)
Tuesday, May 20, 2014 from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM (CDT)

Registration Ends: May 19, 2014 12:00 PM
Registration for one attendee to the Ministry Grid


Event Details
Ministry Grid will offer a demonstration of our training platfrom, show you how to use it to train church leaders and volunteers, and answer any questions you may have. Our intention is to provide you with a dynamic, unique tool for training to assist you and your fellow leaders in ministry and raising up oithers to serve the church. We will also provide a 30 day free subscription to ministry Grid for all churches represented.

Register here…
http://ministrygridhouston.eventbrite.com/?aff=estw

ALSO...
Thursday, May 15 - Free online site demonstration and training.  Find details and RSVP HERE.
Thursday, May 22 - Free online site demonstration and training. Find Details and RSVP HERE.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Summer 2014 Bible Studies from LifeWay



    



Beyond Belief: Exploring the Character of God
by Freddy Cardoza
Too many people base their understanding of God on their own perceptions: “I think God is…” It’s not important what we think, but it is important what God says about Himself. Beyond Belief will lead you and your group into a study of the infinite character of God as it focuses on six attributes of God that lead us to living fruitful lives in right relationship with Him.

Resilient Faith: Standing Strong
In the Midst of Suffering
by Mary Jo Sharp
For too many people, their faith is shaken. Faith in Christ can and should be constant because Christ, the One in whom we place our faith, is constant. We all face or will face difficult times when we need to stand firm in our Christ-centered faith. The Book of 1 Peter offers the needed understanding of what a resilient faith looks like and how we can stand strong regardless of what comes at us.


Learn more and order Bible Studies for Life Summer 2014 studies now at biblestudiesforlife.com.