Monday, April 17, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Four Ways To Connect People Into Groups After Easter

By Chris Surratt

I can almost guarantee that your church will have unconnected people in it on Easter Sunday. In fact, most churches will have record attendance on that day, but we rarely plan for how to help those new attenders get plugged into community as soon as possible. If one of your purposes for small groups is to help close the back door, then there is no bigger opportunity than Easter Sunday. Here are four things you can do to help connect those new visitors into groups after Easter.
1. Have a groups connect event the Sunday after Easter.
You will want to give people visiting on Easter Sunday the quickest avenue possible to getting into groups. This connection event can be a full event that leads into a campaign (see next point), or a stripped-down version with just small group leaders available in the lobby. Start promoting it on Palm Sunday to give you two weeks of promotion before the actual event.
2. Plan a post-Easter, four-week small groups campaign.
A full six-week campaign will be difficult at this point, but a four-week series that starts the week after Easter will put the campaign ending before Memorial Day—the unofficial start of summer. Anything longer will lose momentum because of the natural rhythms of summer vacation schedules. The first week of the study can kick off with the connection event at the church and then move into off-site locations for the final three weeks.
3. Only announce the next sermon series and small groups on Easter.
With that many people in the room, it’s tempting to announce everything that you do as a church. Resist that temptation and only announce what the next series is and how people can get connected in groups. Truthfully, most people will be thinking about Easter lunch at the end of the service, so they will only have an attention span for one or two announcements. Make those the most important initiatives they need to hear: what they will learn if they come back, and how they can get connected in community.
4. Follow up on new groups for the summer.
You don’t want your new groups to cease to exist when vacations start, so plan to follow up with them the first week of May in order to help them have a plan for staying together through the summer. They don’t have to continue meeting every week, but this is not the time to disband as a group. Give them ideas for doing something fun and something missional throughout the next two months. That will help keep the community going that was just started.

Chris Surratt is a ministry consultant and coach with over 22 years of experience serving the local church. Chris served on the Executive Team at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, and was on staff at Seacoast Church in Charleston, SC, for 15 years. He also manages for LifeWay Christian Resources. Chris’s first book, Small Groups For The Rest Of Us: How to Design Your Small Groups System to Reach the Fringes, was just released by Thomas Nelson. You can follow his blog at or follow him on Twitter @chrissurratt.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Be the first to see the new Matt Chandler study

We believe

The Apostles’ Creed was born from the apostles’ teachings. The scriptural truths contained in the creed enable us to build our Christian lives on good theology, with the knowledge that our faith is rooted in truth and a rich history. Take your group through this 12-session study and experience the significance of understanding and clearly professing what you believe.

The Apostles' Creed Bible Study

Monday, April 3, 2017

Help Your Class Members Study The Bible For Themselves

The largest research project ever conducted on effective discipleship practices revealed that healthy churches teach people to connect to God’s Word, both on an individual basis as well as in community. But that connection doesn’t just happen.  It requires an intentional plan and provision of resources.  It also requires a consistency of purpose.  Finally, it requires time in God’s Word.

So how can you help your members learn to connect to God’s Word?

By training them on how to use a Personal Study Guide!

Why Personal Study Guides are important to a person’s discipleship development:

·         THEY REMOVE BARRIERS.  When you hand someone a Personal Study Guide, you remove his/her biggest obstacle in connecting with the Bible – confidence.  Essentially, you equip long term members to become active participants and you tell new visitors, “We want you back. You belong here.”
·         THEY ARE A TOOL.  Learning to connect to God’s Word doesn’t happen overnight. It takes intentionality and commitment. The Personal  Study Guide provides guidance and commentary to help an individual understand what they’re reading in a format that is easy to follow.
·         THEY INCREASE A PERSON'S EXPOSURE TO THE WORD.  Exposure to God’s Word transforms a disciple’s life.  Giving someone a Personal Study Guide communicates that personal Bible reading and study is essential for spiritual growth and it provides them with a practical guide to approach their person Bible study time.
·         THEY CAN ADD TO DEEPER DISCUSSION.  The Personal Study Guide expose an individual to questions that promote understanding and application throughout the week. Giving an individual time to digest the Scripture on their own leads to deeper discussion when the group meets weekly.
·         THEY CREATE A STRONGER COMMUNITY CONNECTION. Through repeated exposure to the Word and to deeper group discussion, Personal Study Guide also helps deepen the investment an individual makes to their group and to their church.  As a result, the people in your groups become some of your most engaged church members.
·         THEY DEVELOP LEADERS.  Every group has people who are already well equipped to lead, but may not believe it yet.  These guides demystify the process of preparing and leading the group conversation, giving the group member the confidence they need to take the next step toward becoming a group leader.

Ways to encourage a member’s use of the Personal Study Guide.

·         Ask a member to be prepared to share a summation of a section of the study material.
·         Email/Message/Facebook class members about their response to a particular quote on a page.
·         Break class into small groups to compare responses to an assigned part of the study.
·         Encourage use of the application questions in small groups during the class session.
·         Encourage recording prayer requests in Personal Study Guide margins.
·         Refer to some of the study questions throughout your teaching presentation.
·         Ask a member to be prepared to present a report on a doctrine, person, or event that is in the Personal Study Guide.
·         Tweet a quote (with page number) from the study to your class members.
·         Encourage members to frequent the blogs on the curriculum’s website.
·         Remind the class members of their responsibility in the discipling process.
·         Have class members create accountability partners who will check on each other’s personal preparation for the upcoming Bible study through phone calls, social media, and email.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Healthy Churches Bundle Now Available!

Get all 4 books for a healthy church for just $30. Limited time only.
All the resources you need to grow a healthy church, in one bundle! 
Dr. Thom S. Rainer's experiences as a pastor, seminary professor, denominational leader, and researcher have been eclipsed by his role as a coach and shepherd to pastors around the country.

Whether it is through the daily engagement he has with pastors through his online platforms or the resources he has published, Dr. Rainer wants to help you grow a healthy church. Now, for the first time, four of the books that will help you grow your church and keep it healthy are available together with free shipping.

1. Autopsy of a Deceased Church 
No one wants to see a church die. And yet, far too many churches are dying. For more than twenty-five years, Dr. Thom S. Rainer has helped churches grow, reverse the trends of decline, and has autopsied those that have died.

From this experience, he has discovered twelve consistent themes among those churches that have died. Yet, it's not gloom and doom because from those twelve themes, lessons on how to keep your church alive have emerged.

2. Who Moved My Pulpit? 
Who Moved My Pulpit? may not be the exact question you're asking. But you're certainly asking questions about change in the church—where it's coming from, why it's happening, and how you're supposed to hang on and follow God through it—even get out ahead of it so your church is faithfully meeting its timeless calling and serving the new opportunities of this age.

Based on conversations with thousands of pastors, combined with on-the-ground research from more than 50,000 churches, Thom S. Rainer shares an eight-stage roadmap to leading change in your church. Not by changing doctrine. Not by changing biblical foundations. But by changing methodologies and approaches for reaching a rapidly changing culture.

3. Simple Chruch 
Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. With insights based on case studies of 400 American churches, Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making process is often too complex.

Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart: Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus. Simple Church examines each idea, clearly showing why it is time to simplify.

4. The Millennials
At more than 78 million strong, the Millennials—those born between 1980 and 2000—have surpassed the Boomers as the larger and more influential generation in America. Now, as its members begin to reach adulthood, where the traits of a generation really take shape, Thom Rainer and his son Jess (a Millennial born in 1985) present the first major investigative work on Millennials from a Christian worldview perspective.

The Millennials is based on 1200 interviews with its namesakes that aim to better understand them personally, professionally, and spiritually. Chapters report intriguing how-and-why findings on family matters (they are closer-knit than previous generations), their desire for diversity (consider the wave of mixed race and ethnic adoptions), Millennials and the new workplace, their attitude toward money, the media, the environment, and perhaps most tellingly, religion.

This bundle is only available online (not available in stores). 

Half the price of buying individually + free shipping!

Monday, March 27, 2017

LifeWay Men Recommends Bible Study Insider

By Kris Dolberry
In speaking with leaders of men’s ministry around the country, one of the questions I most often get is something like, “What study would you recommend for my men’s group?” Choosing the right study is one of the biggest challenges in leading a men’s group (or any group, for that matter). There are often so many options that it’s difficult to narrow things down. Once you do narrow things done, how can you be confident the study you’ve selected is trustworthy?
Bible Study Insider is designed to make this process easier. It is a subscription service that arrives at your door each May and November. Each $50 box contains:
  • $150 value.
  • A $50 voucher to use toward your next purchase (Yes, you did the math right. It’s essentially free.)
  • 12+ actual Bible study books (no samples!) of LifeWay’s latest releases
  • A DVD that includes the first full video teaching session of each video-driven study in the box.
  • Other bonus gifts (like books and audio devotional CDs)
This is great for a group leader because it lets you check out our latest Bible study offerings from your own La-Z-Boy.  Seriously, there is no catch! You keep all the contents of the box and get to use your $50 voucher toward your next purchase. So if you know you’ll be buying LifeWay resources, it’s a no brainer!
Here are few other details to know:
  • You must redeem your voucher by phone. It cannot be used in store or online. And you must redeem it by the time you get the new box (6 months).
  • Shipping is INCLUDED in the price of the box. No hidden fees to you! (Although if you are in Canada, you likely have to pay tariffs. We’re sorry about that.)
  • The voucher can be used on ANY LifeWay adult Bible study products for adults, men, women, young adults, and marriage and family; and ongoing curriculum for young adults and adults. You don’t have to use it on anything in the box! However, it cannot be used on events, digital products, kids products, student products, worship products, magazines, or language products.
  • Each box contains a variety of adult products—they are not just for men. Consider splitting the cost and/or sharing with other ministries in your church.
Have more questions? Check out the FAQs or leave a comment below!
Know you want to order? Get the Box!

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Christian Standard Bible - Faithful and True

Christian Standard Bible / Faithful and True
The Bible Your People Use Must Be Trustworthy and it Must Make a Heart Connection
The CSB is designed to be both literal and readable. 
A translation that is trustworthy, and easy to understand. A Bible pastors can preach from, and anyone can easily share with a friend or neighbor reading it for the very first time. The goal of the CSB is simply this: to grow the number of people reading God's Word and serve the Church in her mission to make disciples.
"I am deeply grateful for the Christian Standard Bible, because it is rigorously faithful to the original languages without sacrificing clear readability. This translation will help believers and non-believers around the world be able to read, understand, memorize, obey, and proclaim God's Word."
You don't have to choose between
accuracy and readability.
Christian Standard Bible - TwitterChristian Standard Bible - FacebookChristand Standard Bible - Instagram
Christian Standard
1 800 458 2772
One LifeWay Plaza
Nashville, TN 37234

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

App expands VBS impact for LifeWay

By Aaron Earls
The excitement and learning that takes place at Vacation Bible School can happen anywhere now, thanks to the LifeWay VBS Galactic Starveyors app.
For the fourth consecutive year, LifeWay Christian Resources has released an app connected with its latest VBS material.
The app provides churches and parents numerous opportunities to reinforce biblical lessons from VBS, according to Melita Thomas, VBS and kids' ministry specialist at LifeWay.
"The app is a wonderful tool for connecting church and home," Thomas said. "It also provides churches with an additional easy follow-up tool."

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

ERLC, LifeWay release religious liberty curriculum

By Tom Strode

Two Southern Baptist entities have combined efforts to produce a small group study on religious liberty at a time when the fundamental freedom appears to be both threatened and misunderstood in the United States.
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) and LifeWay Christian Resources announced the release of the study -– "Religious Liberty: How the Gospel Shapes Our First Freedom" -- Tuesday (March 7). The six-week study is available for purchase through LifeWay.
The free exercise of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is under attack for some Christians and other religious adherents -- especially those who object to using their services for same-sex weddings or to performing abortions or other medical procedures that violate their consciences. In addition, some in the church seem uncertain whether religious freedom should extend to people of all faiths.
The curriculum's goal "is to equip churches to see religious liberty as it is -- grounded in the Gospel," said ERLC President Russell Moore.
"In an age when religious liberty is increasingly imperiled we all need to be reminded that religious liberty isn't a partisan political idea," Moore said in a written release. "It's a fundamental part of being made in the image of God, and being created with a conscience that is answerable ultimately to Christ, not Caesar."
He prays the study "will help believers and churches dismantle myths and misconceptions and help the body of Christ be faithful in its witness in the years ahead," Moore said, adding he is thankful for the partnership with LifeWay and those who contributed to the study.
Each of the six lessons consists of a 60-minute group session, plus individual study, journaling and an article by a religious liberty expert. Each group session includes 15 to 20 minutes of video featuring pastors, scholars and other leaders commenting on religious freedom.
Among the more than 70 leaders appearing in the videos are Matt Chandler, lead pastor for teaching of The Village Church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area; Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.; Robert George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University; and Nathan Lino, senior pastor of Northeast Houston Baptist Church.
The six lessons are:
-- Religious Liberty in Today's Culture;
-- Religious Liberty and the Bible;
-- Religious Liberty and Mission;
-- Religious Liberty and the Common Good;
-- Religious Liberty in the Public Square;
-- Religious Liberty and Common Objections.
The curriculum's primary authors are Phillip Bethancourt, the ERLC's executive vice president, and Andrew Walker, the ERLC's director of policy studies.
Walker told BP the ERLC-LifeWay curriculum is the first to his knowledge to be "dedicated explicitly to religious liberty."
"Considering that religious liberty faces challenging headwinds like never before, it is urgent that Christians understand the relevance and necessity of religious liberty, not only for themselves, but how its biblical foundations lay the groundwork for a society that fosters respect and liberty amid great diversity," Walker said in written comments.
"Understood from a biblical perspective, religious liberty is a vital component for the advance of the Gospel," he said. "Consciences must be free to respond to Christ, and free societies ensure that persuasion -- not coercion -- can occur."
Materials for the study may be ordered online at
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on... [Expand Bio]

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Welcome the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) to LifeWay Kids!


I am very excited about the release of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB). Today the release was made “official” in LifeWay Kids ongoing Bible study curriculum lines. Starting with our spring releases you’ll notice the use of the CSB in Bible Studies for Life, Explore the Bible, and The Gospel Project.
I want to share some quick FAQs and links to help answer your questions and get you started well with the CSB.
Why has LifeWay created a new translation?  The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is a revision of the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), updating translation and word choices in order to improve on the HCSB’s balance of faithfulness and clarity, as well as to enhance the shareability of the translation to new Christians or those reading the Bible for the first time. At LifeWay we are committed to improving the translation based on advances in biblical scholarship and input from Bible scholars, pastors, and readers. Taking each of these factors into consideration, the Christian Standard Bible has improved on the HCSB’s faithfulness to the original text and clarity for a modern audience.
What is the difference between the HCSB and the CSB? There are five major differences between the HCSB and the CSB. They are:
  • The capitalization of pronouns referring to God.
  • The use of “tongues” instead of “languages” in some texts.
  • The use of “Yahweh” as God’s personal name.
  • The rendering of doulos as “servant” instead of “slave.”
  • The translating of gender language into English.
This page elaborates on these specific differences.
When can we get actual copies of the CSB for our kids? There are two kids Bibles releasing this month CSB Big Picture Interactive Bible and the CSB Kids BibleThe CSB Read to Me Bible will release in August. Other Bibles editions (not specific for kids) have been released and more will come in the days ahead. CLICK HERE to sign up for notifications regarding releases.
The CSB is available online but last week I went ahead and downloaded the free app (iTunes or Google Play) so that I could have it with me all the time.
Tell me more! Have more questions? CLICK HERE to find answers to more frequently asked questions.
By the way … LifeWay’s VBS resources will make the change to CSB in 2018 and the change in children’s Bible Drill will affect the 2019 drills.
Bill Emeott serves as Lead Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Kids. A graduate of Mercer University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Bill has served as a Kid’s Minister and currently teaches 2nd Grade Bible study.

First posted here...

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Enhancements coming this Fall to LifeWay's Explore the Bible resources

Exciting new enhancements are coming to LifeWay’s Explore the Bible bible study resources for all ages this fall. See below some highlights of what’s coming and check out the links for more info. And as always, let me hear from you as to how I might assist you with strategies or resources to help strengthen your ministry.


·         Explore the Bible Daily Discipleship Guide will be introduced. This is an all in one resource (leader and learner in same piece). It will encourage daily Bible engagement, support discipleship groups meetings during the week, and simplify training additional leaders to start new groups.
·         The Young Adult version will be discontinued.
·         Studies of longer Bible books that require more than 3 months of study will be done in consecutive quarters.
·         In the Personal Study Guide, the Bible text will be printed once (with the commentary). This will gain space for additional commentary.
·         The Leader Pack will add pack items in PDF format to the CD-ROM.
·         In the QuickSource, we will change the way the key words are marked
·         No changes to Leader Guide and Leader Commentary.


·         The Central Truth of each study will appear at the beginning and the end of each study.
·         NEW! Family Connection provides simple questions based on each session for parent to discuss with students throughout the week. It also contains a family devotion for those families who want to go deeper with their students.
·         NEW! Middle School Option: A middle school specific version of the leader guide complete with unique Explore Options and discussion questions will be available for a free download to all who purchase a leader guide.
·         Leader pack will contain posters to help make sessions more interactive, videos that provide leaders with hands on training for each session, and PowerPoint templates.
·         Midweek Studies: Free downloadable studies will provide complementary studies in other books of the Bible for students and student leaders who have additional meeting in the middle of the week.
·         NEW! Explore Options: Interactive activities and engaging illustrations that provide leaders with fresh ways to introduce the Central Truth of each session and connect it to the lives of students.
·         NEW! Discipleship Moments: Provides leaders opportunities to share their lives with their student and to connect with them at a deeper level to show that there is more to following Jesus than just studying the Bible.
·         Verse number headings will be added to the commentary to make it easier to use and follow.
·         Context Notes: Notes about theological, cultural, historical, and literary context will be designed to train students and leaders how to study the Bible in context.
·         Now What? Application questions that challenge students to process the implications of each study and apply its central truth to their lives at school, at home, and in their neighborhoods.
·         Personal Challenge: Each session will end with a personal challenge calling students to continue processing what they’ve learned and apply the central truth to the context in which they live.
·         Bible Reading Plan will be contained in each guide that will challenge students to dig into that session’s book of the Bible on their own.


·         Explore the Bible: At Home will connect adults with what kids are studying. It will provide a devotional thought and a family reading plan.
·         New Scope and Sequence will provide a three year plan where all 66 books of the Bible will be studied in a book by book fashion.

·         Redesigned layout for Babies & Toddlers Leader, Preschool Leader, and Preschool Worship.
·         Introducing new Family Card for preschoolers: Larger format card with rounded corners and hole punch.
·         Added Text Connection to leader guide to spotlight other areas of Scripture that tie in with what preschoolers are studying.
·         Bible Skills Spotlight: Bible skills are highlighted for each session.
·         Inclusion of next hour teaching helps in Preschool Leader Guide for ready access by teachers.

·         Redesigned layout for Younger Kids Leader, Older Kids Leader, and Kids Worship.
·         One Family Card to be used for both Younger and Older kids.
·         Added Text Connection to leader guide to spotlight other areas of Scripture that tie in with what preschoolers are studying.
·         Bible Skills Spotlight: Bible skills are highlighted for each session

If you want more information and download a sneak peek of the new studies, click here or go to

To learn more about the new study plan for Kids, go here and here.