Tired of the “shock and awe” style of event-driven ministry? What are the key elements in helping someone else mature as a follower of Christ? How do we do it? In 2012, a LifeWay Research project showed eight key steps to follow. The study showed it all begins with Bible engagement…getting people into the Word of God. So let’s get started. Guide them into the Word of God –

1. Comprehensively. Give them a Scripture reading plan that includes the whole counsel of God, not just your favorite texts.
2. Prayerfully. Ask God to help them understand what they read.
3. Closely. Encourage them to look for truths from each passage they study.
4. Textually. Don’t let them get bogged down on a verse or two they don’t understand. Keep them moving.
5. Joyfully. Help them see Bible study as delight, not duty. They are literally hearing the Savior speak to them.
6. Audibly. God’s Word was originally delivered orally. Encourage them to read the Bible out loud . It will help them commit it to memory.
7. Congregationally. Teach them to bring their Bibles to church and read the Scriptures as the pastor does.
8. Missionally. Show them that they are on mission for God. Train them to tell people they know about Jesus.

(adapted from Philip Nation. “Eight Ways to Lead Others in Bible Engagement,” Facts and Trends, Summer 2016, pp.41-42)

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I remember the phrase from years ago, “a member in good standing.”  Maybe you do as well, but in the context of church life, what does it mean and why is it important?  Thom Rainer, President and CEO of LifeWay, recently wrote on church membership.  In his article, he gave some indicators of what being a disciple of Christ looks like.  Dr. Rainer says that a good place for a new believer to start in the discipleship journey is knowing what is expected of him as a church member.  So here goes…

  1. A member of a church should read the Bible daily.
  2. A member of  a church should be involved in a Bible study group.
  3. A member of a church should be sharing his/her faith on a regular basis.
  4. A member of a church should be a generous giver.
  5. A member of a church should attend corporate worship each week.
  6. A member of a church should be involved in ministry and missions.

As Dr. Rainer says, “As church members engage in daily Bible reading, group Bible study, evangelism, corporate worship, ministry and missions, and giving –  they will grow as disciples or followers of Christ.  And then their churches will grow and become healthier churches.”  So let’s all jump on board and become that kind of church member!

(adapted from Thom Rainer, Facts and Trends, Summer 2016, p.5)

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scalia-reactionsThe late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia is recognized as one of the most brilliant justices ever to sit on the nation’s highest court.  Even his political opponents respected his intellect and his ability to use the English language effectively in his arguments.  Justice Scalia once said something about faith that we need to consider.

He said in a speech,

“God assumed from the beginning that the wise of the world

would view Christians as fools…and He has not been disappointed.

If I have brought any message today, it is to have the courage

to allow your wisdom regarded as stupidity…be fools for

Christ – and have the courage to suffer the contempt

of the sophisticated world.”

How willing are you to allow the world to call you a fool for living your faith?  Jesus said in Matthew 5:11, “Blessed are ye when they revile and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for My sake.”  I think the late Justice Scalia had it just right.

(adapted from Preaching / Summer 2016 / p.12)

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iStock_000017794376XSmall-editedHow many of you have heard the story of Lt. Hiro Onada?  Most have not.  Lt. Onada was a Japanese solider in World War II.  He had been sent to guard an obscure island in the Philippines, which he did, until he surrendered on March 10, 1974.  Lt. Onada ignored the fact that he had stopped hearing and seeing any armed resistance.  They air dropped letters to him insisting he give up, but he thought it was a trick.  He never gave up hope.  Even after he was found in 1974, it took six months for him to be convinced the war had ended.


Ever feel tempted to quit, to give up, or throw in the towel?  Dear friend, don’t lose hope.  Your situation is not hopeless.  God loves you.  He sent His Son to die on the cross for you.  The Bible is full of encouragement for you…

“With God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

“For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)”

“Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you; ” (Psalm 55:22a)

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15)

“Be courageous, and He shall strengthen your heart” (Psalm 31:24)


(adapted from The Book of Heroic Failures by Stephen Pile.  As read in Preaching magazine. March /April 2016, p.8)

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300_943211In Nederland, Colorado, they have a strange festival called, “Frozen Dead Guy Festival.”  It commemorates Bredo Morstoel, who had himself cryogenically frozen.  There are all kinds of events such as coffin races, a polar plunge, and snow sculptures.  The festival culminates with a tour of Morstoel’s shed, where his frozen remains are stored.  We do a lot of funny things to try to deny death, but death still comes.

On Easter Sunday, we do not celebrate a Person whose body is now lifeless.  We celebrate a Savior who conquered death and is alive forevermore!  Phillip Brooks was a great preacher and a well-known songwriter  remembered for his Christmas carol, “O Little Town Of Bethlehem.”  About Jesus Christ, Phillip Brooks wrote,

“Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer;

Death is strong, but life is stronger;

Stronger than the dark; the light;

Stronger than the wrong, the right.”

And then he said to us, “Let every man and woman count himself immortal.  Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in His resurrection.  Let him say not merely, ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’”

(adapted from Preaching, March/April 2016, p.8)

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One MillionJim Burnett is a pastor in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He recently wrote an article for pastors entitled “Putting Your Financial House in Order.” Often when we hear financial experts talk about money, it makes our eyes glaze over. Jim’s article was simple enough for preachers, so I thought I would share three brief admonitions with you regarding your family’s finances. Solomon tells us in the book of Proverbs, “Go to the ant, you slacker! Observe its ways and become wise. Without leader, administrator, or ruler, it prepares its provisions in summer; it gathers its food during the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:8) Quite simply, you should:

Live Within Your Means – A lack of knowledge and poor money management often lead to overspending. You should spend less than you bring home each month. Andy Stanley calls this living with a “margin.”

Be Faithful In Your Giving – As a Christian, make sure you are a person of integrity when it comes to your giving. What can look like a financial problem, is for many, more of a faith problem.

Invest For Your Retirement – Don’t rely on others to take care of you when you retire. See a professional who can help you develop a plan for your future. And start now.

(Facts and Trends, Winter 2016, p. 39)

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migration-300x188The term that is often used today to describe the relocation of peoples across borders is “global migration.” Regardless of what our politics are on the subject, as Christians, we should sit up and take note of this trend. It affects how we share the Gospel message with the unsaved world. Consider the following…

*Immigrants account for 13% of the U.S. population,
*Adding their children, 1 in 4 people in America are a first or second-generation immigrant,
*About 1/3 of U.S. Hispanics and 2/3 of U.S. Asians are foreign born,
*47% of immigrants are naturalized U.S. citizens,
*27% of U. S. immigrants are here illegally, and
*26% of immigrants are legal permanent residents and people here on temporary visas.

By 2060, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts nearly 1 in 3 U.S. residents will be foreign-born. This migration of people is an incredible and transformational opportunity for the American church to reach the world with the Gospel, without even leaving home. I ask you to consider, “ What part will we play?”

(adapted from Facts and Trends, Winter 2016, pp. 1-18)

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