The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

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Welcoming Guests and First Impressions

The sermon starts in the parking lot, and the impression you make for your guests on Sunday morning during the first 10 minutes will be indelible.

Technology and The Church

Leveraging technology for ministry can be an incredible blessing. But it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. Learn how to use technology well.

Vision and Leadership

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot. Faith filled vision, leadership and risk are key ingredients for ministry.

Preaching and Communication

You know and understand how challenging it is to communicate. It is hard to get and capture people's attention. Learn how to communicate effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative means asking the right questions and making new associations. Discover new and creative ideas for your ministry.

The Best Giving Advice For Tough Economic Times

Giving Money

In light of the difficult economic times most of us are facing, these words from C.S. Lewis are an important reminder and lesson for God's people on how much we ought to give:
“I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusement, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our giving does not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say it is too small.  (Tweet This) There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our commitment to giving excludes them.” 
- C.S. Lewis

Notice that Lewis doesn't address an amount or percentage, rather he address the heart of the matter, the idols of our heart - comfort & personal peace.

Do You Know What Is The Most Popular Book Of All Time?

Library Books

The most popular book of all time may not surprise you, it is of course - The Bible. The Bible has an interesting history. With thousands of translations, over forty original authors, and a two millennium history, let’s take a look below in the infographic at the trails, tribulations, changes, and status of the world’s most popular book.

How To Have Great Coaching Conversations With Staff

Coaching Conversations Church Ministry Staff

guest post by Dr. Nathan Baxter

Do you know how to have a coaching conversation with your key players? It’s scary to think about the amount the time we spend talking to staff members and key volunteers on any given week.

How many of those conversations help your leaders become better leaders?

One of the biggest expenditures of most church budgets is devoted to paying their key players. But most churches do not have a workable system that provides bonuses to their staff based on their improved performance for hitting certain measurable goals.

Have you considered the possibility of improving the effectiveness of your key players through the use of strategic coaching conversations?

Imagine being able to increase the output, energy, and effectiveness of your top ten leaders by 30% in 2014 through the use of coaching conversations. How would this increase the effectiveness and impact of your church?

Consider the findings of notable researcher, Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, who, after studying thousands of coaching conversations between managers and their team members, concluded that it was actually possible to increase employee performance without an incentive program.

How? Through the use of coaching conversations.

If you want to up your game in the coaching department, I would recommend you include the following when talking with a leader:

Be Clear That They Are Clear
Ask your team member if they are clear about the following:
  • Their top three ministry functions/responsibilities 
  • The most important expectations you have for them 
  • What needs to be done and when 
If you are relying on their job description to tell them what to do, you are in trouble! 
Remember, job descriptions are stagnant; many times they are never referred to after the hiring process or, at best, during an annual review. Keep conversations fresh regarding expectations, key functions, and responsibilities. Also, be sure to share your answers to the same questions with the person you are coaching towards greater effectiveness. 
Is that clear? 
Compliment Before Correcting
Everyone needs correcting on occasion but everyone needs sincere compliments on a regular basis. Ministry is difficult. Leadership is unfair. Church work has a built-in spiritual enemy who rebels against all leadership efforts to advance the gospel.

One of my favorite exercises in helping church teams improve is having them share the top three compliments they have received regarding their current ministry assignment. Then I ask them if they regularly get enough affirmation; 90% share that most of the time they feel greatly unappreciated.

Giving a sincere compliment costs you nothing more than a few minutes reflecting on the qualities or actions that you admire. “Thank You” goes a long way.

Connect the Dots
If you want to watch your key leaders excel, often remind them that what they do matters. Give specifics to show exactly how their leadership or their ministry strategically helps advance the mission of the church. We all need to be needed and we want to know that our work week is actually contributing to the mission, and bottom line, of the organization.

Prepare
  • What do they really need to hear? 
  • Where do they need to grow as a leader? 
  • What impresses you most about them? 
  • What is the best way to correct them in an encouraging way? 
Key players are key. Therefore, view them as one of the most strategic resources to invest in. Do this thoughtfully and wisely. 
Leaders who develop their coaching conversation skills enjoy the rewards of watching their key ministry players continually excel in effectiveness. This little investment generates a tremendous payoff over time. 
Have you ever thought about taking ten minutes in the morning to think through your coaching conversations you plan to have with your key players?

Dr. Nathan Baxter, founder of Lead Self Lead Others, has been leading teams and helping people move their stories forward for over twenty years. Nathan earned his Masters of Divinity Degree with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry and Leadership Degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. Before starting his Executive Coaching career, he served for 28 years in full time ministry, filling the roles of Youth Pastor, Senior Pastor, and Executive Pastor. www.LeadSelfLeadOthers.com

3 Reasons Why Financial Giving Culture Has Changed

Carrot Stick Motivation
guest post by Jeff Anderson:

Church giving culture is drastically different than it was decades ago. While it didn’t change overnight, this culture shift has accelerated just in the past five years. I won't bore you with the common suspect reasons you've likely heard.

I won't share how denominational tithers are dying off (which they are). And I won't remind you that churches don't talk enough about giving (we’re all sick of hearing that, and it’s not completely true anyway). And I won't share how people are materialistic, greedy and swimming in debt (that’s nothing new either).

As I look at giving trends today, there are three unique reasons why the church giving culture is becoming increasingly different… and dysfunctional.

1. Vision casting has replaced doctrinal teaching. Instead of teaching Christians to give to please God, they're being taught to give to meet a need - build buildings, feed orphans, dig wells, etc. Part of this trend is due to competition with non-profits. As the number of non-profit (para-church) ministries grows, so do the choices people have to give.

To compete with non-profits, churches have applied best fund-raising practices to raise money. This means videos, brochures, projections, targets, and of course...celebration Sunday! And after the campaign comes ribbon cutting ceremonies, ROI reports, metric discussions. Meanwhile the doctrine of giving takes a back seat…or for some churches, fades away entirely.

2. People want to see their gifts make a difference. This second reason is closely related to the first. Vision casting has trained congregants to be customers. Instead of giving because it's the right thing to do (a response of worship, submission and adoration to God), they give because of an impact they expect to see realized.

That's why when a church does a special offering, they have no problem raising the funds. Nobody wants to send Pastor Gonzalez back to Mexico without the cash to build the orphanage. But when it comes to funding weekly budget, churches struggle. People can't "see" insurance, light bills, and payroll taxes. But they can see hungry children, water, brick and mortar, med clinics.

People want to see their gifts have impact. That’s how they’re being trained.

3. The doctrine of tithing has been downgraded. People no longer trust the tithing doctrine.

However, this poses a problem for churches that have historically relied on the tithe as the gold giving standard.

So what happens when Christians raise questions about tithing? It depends. If the church does not have a valid replacement theology, they'll turn to more vision casting… you know, showing people how their gifts can make a difference.

You see the cycle we're caught in, don’t you?
Not either or, but both

Vision casting is not bad. It's good actually. Churches need to aim for meaningful goals. And church leaders need to be accountable for showing ministry impact from their work. But these ideas must not replace the need to teach solid doctrine for why we should give to God.

Theology should always trump trends. Biblical doctrine should always be stronger than a best practices manual. The word of God should shout louder than the wisdom of campaign consultants.
Paul pleaded for the Corinthian church to give. He offered a few words of vision (famine-ridden Judeans), but he used primarily a heavy dose of doctrine to encourage Christians to give.

If you're a church leader, I encourage you to evaluate the giving trends in your church - ask yourself the question.

What do your people hear the loudest - the doctrine of giving? Or something else?

JEFF ANDERSON speaks and writes about walking with God, with an approach to discipleship that combines scripture and story. He’s the author of two books, Plastic Donuts and Divine Applause (January 2015).

Jeff began his career working as a CPA for a Big Six accounting firm, then became a day trader in the stock market. Following that, he joined Crown Financial Ministries as vice-president for North America Generosity Initiatives. He now speaks, writes, and consults with churches and ministries. Jeff and his wife, Stephanie have four children. www.AcceptableGift.org

3 Things That Must Sync Together Or Ministry Will #FAIL

Heart Passion God
Out of balance. Missing the mark. A lost element. Those are phrases that can often describe our ministry and churches. Our church or ministry may be strong in one area of focus, but woefully lacking in another. Sometimes as a church we can emphasize and be strong in one area, at the expense of putting importance on other important facets.

For a church to be complete it must hold true to three important elements. Like three legs of a stool, there can be no strength or integrity if any one of these elements is missing.  Here are the three:

Orthodoxy - Right belief. The Bible is the Word of God. God breathed. Useful of teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). Are we faithful to believe all that it teaches. Also are we faithful to guard our doctrine and hold the Scriptures up as our final authority in all matters of faith and practice?

Orthopraxy - Right practice. It isn't just important to believe the right things, but it must inform and shape how then we live. It must shape how we live among one another within the church and how we act toward the world around us. Is our life morally consistent as a person whose life has been freed from the power of sin? The people of God must be living in such a manner that is characteristically different than the world around us.

Orthopathos  - Right passion. Our hearts must be moved by the things that moved Jesus (i.e. God's glory, The lost). Our faith and our churches must be earmarked as a people who are cultivating a deep intimacy with Jesus. And our lives must be marked by a love, not only for God, but for others.

Do you and your church have all these ingredients and elements?


APP Of The Week - WordLens

WordLens App Week



If you are in ministry, you perhaps travel - perhaps on mission trips and other ministry endeavors. I do travel a lot, and one of the apps that I have grown to love, appreciate and depend upon is WordLens. WordLens allows you to translate the written word through the use of your camera, in real time without an internet connection and it's FREE!

Listen to Lifehacker describe it:
WordLens is the brainchild of the folks at Quest Visual, recently acquired by Google, so expect to see some of its features rolled into Google Translate any time now. WordLens made waves back in 2010 because its iPhone and Android apps were some of the first to offer real-time, camera-based translations—where you just hold your device up to an unfamiliar language, and have it re-rendered in your native language right in front of your eyes. When it was new, it was the first time anyone had seen anything like it, and the apps still work remarkably well. They're not perfect of course, but they can be useful for reading street signs, menus, and other printed documents that you need to muddle through. As a result of being acquired by Google, WordLens is now free, and anyone can download the apps for Androidfor iOS, or even for Google Glass for free. It still only supports a few languages, but it's completely free, works well enough, and in a way works magic in front of your eyes.
Consider adding WordLens to your arsenal of apps.




The Hope That Is The Mission Of The Church

Mission Church

"Mission of the church is nothing more or less than the outworking, in the power of the Spirit, of Jesus’ bodily resurrection. It is the anticipation of the time when God will fill the earth with his glory, transform the old heavens and earth into the new, and raise his children from the dead to populate and rule over the redeemed world he has made”
- N.T. Wright 

The 5 Most Crucial Questions To Ask Of The Bible

Asking Questions Bible

Pastor Timothy Keller from Redeemer Church said these are five questions he asks of a biblical text as he reads it for himself.
  • How can I praise him?
  • How can I confess my sins on the basis of this text?
  • If this is really true, what wrong behavior  what harmful emotions or false attitudes result in me when I forget this? Every problem is because you have forgotten something. What problems are you facing?
  • What should I be aspiring to on the basis of this text?
  • What are you telling me this today.

This Problem And Difficulty For Pastors May Surprise You

Student Debt Crisis


When you think of a pastor's ministry challenges a lot of issues perhaps come to mind. Perhaps you think of:

  • Dealing with difficult congregations
  • Worship wars
  • Leadership challenges
  • Family/Ministry balance
  • Spiritual exhaustion and compassion fatigue
  • Sermon prep and preaching
  • Many others....
But do you think of debt, seminary debt? The debt that comes from preparing the pastor for ministry. This kind of debt is growing and is saddling and burdening many men and women in ministry - becoming a problem that is undermining their effectiveness and ability to carry out the ministry God has called them to. Reformed Theological Seminary, my alma mater, has some very compelling comments and facts below that address this issue:

from RTS:

Why is seminary debt such a big problem? Seminary debt is a problem because “the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). It’s all too easy for men and women who are called to serve the Lord to become trapped in educational debt, unable to follow their calling. Many missions agencies won’t accept applicants who have outstanding debts. Smaller churches, including those in rural or inner-city areas, often struggle to afford the larger salaries that student loan repayment demands. This is especially true when seminary debt is combined with debt from an undergraduate degree (a very real problem which is beyond the scope of this study). Student debt robs the kingdom of God of the workers most needed to fulfill the great commission. (Tweet This)

Pastor Debt Infographic

9 Not-To-Be-Missed Steps To A Powerful "Thank You"

Thank You Note Encouragement






When a donor gives to your ministry, it is essential to express gratitude with a thoughtful and timely thank you note. As it has been said, "Before you bank, thank". (Tweet This) But not all thank you notes and attempts to express gratitude are created equal. Below are some helpful steps to creating a powerful thank you.

excerpted from Get Fully Funded, at 9 Steps to a Powerful Thank You Letter:

Make sure you are getting the most from your Thank You letter efforts with these ideas.

1. Send it QUICK. The faster you get your Thank You letters out the door, the better. Donors want to be sure that you received their gift and a Thank You letter is the best way to let them know it arrived safely. Shoot for 48 hours from the time you receive a gift until the time you put the Thank You letter in the mail. If it takes you a little longer and that’s the best you can do, work with it. Figure out what will work for your organization and put a priority on getting the letters out the door.

2. Make it match. Instead of sending out a generic letter, customize your Thank You letter to the specific ask that was used to generate the gift. If a gift comes to you from an appeal you sent out, then make sure your Thank You letter refers back to the story or the text in the appeal. You may need to write several different letters that can be used for whatever you have going on. For instance, you may want to write one letter for a special event you are working on, another one for monthly givers, and another one for donors who respond to your newsletter. Relating the Thank You letter back to the ask is a way to let your donors know you are paying attention and that you are organized enough to use be trustworthy.

3. Share your plans for their money. This is critical. Make sure the donor knows how you plan to use the donation he or she just sent you. Text like “Your gift will help send 15 children to summer camp for one week” makes the process of donating more real and tangible to the donor. They can envision 15 kids going to camp for a week and it helps create a bigger feeling of satisfaction for the donor.

4. Use a real signature. Digital signatures are easy and eliminate hand signing a stack of letters. But savvy donors know the difference between a digital signature and a live one. Have your President or Executive Director sign the letters, or ask a volunteer to sign them on his or her behalf. And use a blue pen so that donors can clearly tell it is a real signature.

5. Add personal notes to the letters. Have your Executive Director or President go through the letters and add personal notes. This can bring big rewards in terms of stewarding donors! Taking a few minutes of a busy day to go through a stack of letters may seem like a chore to your boss, but donors who get a Thank You letter with a personal note will be thrilled that the head staff person took the time to personally acknowledge his or her gift.

6. Include cumulative giving data. Hopefully you have this information in your donor tracking software and can get to it easily. Sometimes donors forget when they last gave. Including year-to-date information can be a gentle reminder for them of their giving.

7. Make it clear if the letter is also a receipt. Don’t you hate getting boring Thank You letters that drone on and never clearly spell out the gift you made? (By the way, if you aren’t giving to other organizations, you need to. It’s a great way to put yourself in the donor’s shoes and also lets you see how other organizations handle the thank you process.) If you have to, draw a line on the page below the thank you text and put “Gift Receipt” about the actual gift information. This will make things crystal clear for the donor and eliminate confusion. It will also reduce the number of calls and emails you get from donors saying they never got a receipt.

8. Include an offer for a tour. 
9. Give the donor a contact.

(Read the entire post HERE)

The Power Of Tech To Communicate With Your Followers

Communicate Phone Text News Email

Technology is rapidly changing and its constant improvements are extremely beneficial for churches across the country. In the not-so-distant past, churches would have to rely on phone trees as their main source of communication with congregation members. Advances in technology have made keeping in contact with hundreds or even thousands of church members an extremely simple task.

Rather then having to rely on individual church members in a phone tree to deliver an important message to the entire congregation, automated church calls can make what most would consider a daunting task quick and easy. Sending out a message through a phone tree could take hours to reach a handful of people - an automated church calling system could accomplish this task in a matter of minutes.

What type of messages can be sent out using this type of automated technology? Churches and religious leaders can send out messages regarding weekly services, upcoming events, prayer requests, and/or donation notifications.

Church leaders can sign up for a church calling system such as DialMyCalls.com and make their lives a lot easier. Once an account is set up, all congregation member contact information is entered into the web-based service. Upon adding every church, the pastor can then record a personalized message to send out. What would once take hours with a traditional phone tree can now be accomplished with the click of a button.

Pastors should not be frightened by new technology and should embrace a new automated method of communication. Keeping all of your religious followers up-to-date with current information is a key ingredient to maintaining a successful church.

Author Bio: Tim S. is an avid writer and loves to share new and exciting technology with the world. He currently works as the media and support manager at DialMyCalls.com.

Disclaimer - DialMyCalls.com is a proud sponsor of Ministry Best Practices.

7 Easy Steps To Create Painless Decision-Making Meetings

Brainstorming Meetings

excerpt from 99U:

Brainstorming meetings can be disastrous, often eating up time and leading to poor decisions. Google Ventures has a way to avoid the pain of traditional meetings with a seven step method.

Over at Fast Company, Jake Knapp explains:
The next time you need to make a decision or come up with a new idea in a group, call timeout and give the note-and-vote a try.

1. Note: Distribute paper and pens to each person. Set a timer for five to 10 minutes. Everyone writes down as many ideas as they can…

2. Self-edit: Set the timer for two minutes. Each person reviews his or her own list and picks one or two favorites…

3. Share and capture: One at a time, each person shares his or her top idea(s). No sales pitch. Just say what you wrote and move on…

4. Vote: Set the timer for five minutes. Each person chooses a favorite from the ideas on the whiteboard…

5. Share and capture: One at a time, each person says their vote…

6. Decide: Who is the decider? She [or he] should make the final call—not the group…

7. Rejoice: That only took 15 minutes!

The “Note and Vote” technique works by circumventing the usual suspects that cause brainstorming meetings to go awry: personal feelings, fear of being unheard, and building ideas off one another rather than focusing on originality.

(ht: 99U)

Top Ministry Tweets This Past Week

Facebook Twitter Social Media
The Ministry Best Practices community is bigger than simply a blog and website. We share a lot of great inspiring and entertaining content and have thoughtful conversations at our social media sites. Make sure to "Like" us on Facebook and to "Follow" us on Twitter so that you won't miss a thing.

Here are the top tweets posted by @BestMinistry







The Biggest Reason Why Donors Give May Surprise You

Donors Giving Fundraising

(This is an excerpt from Jeff Brooks’ latest book,”The Money-Raising Nonprofit Brand: Motivating Donors to Give, Give Happily, and Keep on Giving.” For information, click here.)

Stating abstract ideals is not fundraising. No matter how elevated those ideals are. Donors give to make specific things happen, not to identify with ideals. (Tweet This) Our job as fundraisers is not to ennoble a boring old shoe with a glowing ideal. Our job is almost the opposite of that: We connect a donor’s ideals with a gritty and specific reality, so she can change the world.

Branding doesn’t always kill fundraising. It can even do some good for organizations that follow these disciplines:
  • They have the calls to action that both donors understand — and that can’t be obliterated by a fog of abstraction.
  • They can make what they do clear and obvious visually and emotionally because they’ve learned what motivates donors to action.
  • They connect with donors. Real donors whose preferences they know from real-life behavior.
Our comments:

Simply using and relying on words like change, hope and transform aren't enough as you engage and connect with your donors. You must offer them clear and measurable objectives and impact. You must tell them how you and your ministry are changing actual lives. You must offer them stories and statistics as to how their investment within your ministry is making a real and tangible difference.

Here is an example for you of my ministry does it with our ministry brief - Click HERE to view

(ht: Fundraising Success)

10 Sure-Fire Ways To Have Your Church Always Like You

Church Liking Pastor
excerpted from Ron Edmondson:

Here are 10 ways to remain favorite pastor:
  1. Never turn down a social invitation - Sacrifice your family time. It’ll ruin your family dynamic but keep the church happy.
  2. Don’t talk about money – Jesus never did, right? Don’t be meddling.
  3. Never mention sex – Good Christians don’t. They just don’t. They don’t even think about it.
  4. Stick to the sins everyone else is doing – Don’t mention things like gossip or gluttony. Those are too personal.
  5. No challenges please – We don’t want our toes stepped on and definitely don’t want to leave with homework. Or at least give us some homework passes. Please.
  6. Preach “feel good” messages – That hard stuff to hear…who needs it?
  7. Wear the right clothes – Like Jesus did, right?
  8. Don’t buck tradition – Especially the ones that were started by pastor so and so. You know the ones.
  9. Play everyone’s favorite music – Every Sunday. (You miracle worker.)
  10. Don’t lead…just preach - Give us your “best” message every Sunday, but don’t take us anywhere new.
(ht: Ron Edmondson)

5 Big Questions You Need To Ask Before Joining Ministry

Church Ministry Pastor Calling
excerpted from Jeff Medders post:

Wherever you are on the “call to ministry” spectrum, here are five questions you need to answer.

1. Do I Want to Make Disciples and Make Much of Jesus?
You might have a library-load of reasons why you think should be in vocational ministry—but if you don’t have the right reason, you are treading on unholy ground.

A lot of people join the ministry for all the wrong reasons. You don’t become a pastor to make friends. You don’t become a foreign missionary to ease your conscience. And you don’t plant a church for the praise of self. Ministry happens for one two-pronged reason: I want to make disciples and make much of Jesus of Nazareth. Pats on the back are fleeting. Disciple making is eternal. Don’t join the ministry to make Mama and Daddy proud. Do it for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Real ministry is all about Jesus, and making disciples of Jesus. Gospel ministry is a self-explanatory term—it’s all about preaching the gospel and making disciples (Acts 14:21). Student Ministry, Kids Ministry, etc., must be about making disciples and making much of our Galilean King of Kings. If not—it’s no longer Christian. Ask why you want to be in ministry.

Desiring ministry is good thing (1 Timothy 3:1), as long as your aim is the fame of Jesus Christ—which, you know, is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20). Rest assured, Jesus isn’t commissioning you for anything different.

2. Am I Called?
Back in my college ministry days, a guy came up to me and said he felt called to preach. I asked him, “Is anyone calling you to preach?” Cue the crickets. “Are you teaching anywhere right now?” The crickets began to preach.

The calling question is a vital element. You might feel called to vocational ministry, but, believe it or not, you could be wrong. One way to reinforce your calling is by seeing if anyone is calling you. Is your church asking you to teach? Are they asking you to serve more and more? Are God’s people already asking you to serve? Your feelings don’t matter. Feelings are fickle. And a call to ministry is like a burning bush.

Moses knew his calling was sure because God called him, he had a mission, and he had a people to serve. If the Holy Spirit is calling you out (Acts 20:28), what is your mission, and who is it for?

Church Sheep Pastoring

3. What Are My Gifts?
Someone who is good at entertaining middle schoolers doesn’t equal a student minister. A golden smile, a firm handshake, and a preacher voice cooked in a seminary oven won’t yield a pastor. The Holy Spirit of our risen Christ, his power and the gifts he gives, is what makes a minister.

There is no doubt that the Lord can (and does) use our natural brain power and people skills, but if we are going up against the dark powers of the age—and I don’t mean cable television—we need supernatural, make-a-nuke-jealous power: The Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

If you are in Christ, his Spirit is rumbling inside of you, gifting you, ready to exalt the name of Jesus. So, how has Jesus gifted you to exalt his name? That’s what spiritual gifts do. “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen”(1 Peter 4:10–11 ESV).

A great way to discover your spiritual gifts is by serving in many different ways. (Tweet This) Serve in varied ways, see where fruit pops up, and ask others about your gifting. Timothy’s gifting, even at a young age, was obvious to those around him, so much that Paul called him to join his church planting team (Acts 16:1–5, 1 Timothy 4:14–15).

What are those around you noticing? Ask them. They might see your gifting before you do. And they might even encourage you in the midst of discouragement.

4. Am I committed to a local church?
The Apostle Paul’s vision for ministry is one that builds up the body of Christ. Jesus gives us spiritual gifts for the good of his church. “And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11–13 ESV).

A calling to ministry should fly in tandem with a love for Christ’s church. (Tweet This) You won’t be preaching to a blob of people—that’s Christ’s bride, and you are there to build her up.
Like Paul and Barnabas, you want identification and affirmation from the leaders of your local church (Acts 13:1–3).

5. Am I ready to wait?
(read the rest of the post HERE)

How God Uses Our Spiritual Dryness In Our Life

Spiritual Dryness and Desert
Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, don’t experience God’s presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale. 
Then it is important to realize that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God’s presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don’t, it does not mean that God is absent. It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness. It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.
- Henri Nouwen

How do you move and press on through those seasons of spiritual dryness? 

I know that as a ministry leader or pastor it is much tougher to experience those times, because we are often expected by those we serve and minster among to always and perpetually be hearing from and drawing near to God. Yet we will also experience periods and occasions of spiritual dryness.

So how do we work through those seasons of spiritual dryness? What should spiritual dryness teach us? Firstly, spiritual dryness should drive us to desire and seek God.  It should push us deeper to the Lord. Also, it should prompt us to ask, God - what are you wanting to teach me? Spiritual dryness should be seen as a means, tool and instrument of God to help us examine our lives more closely. 

Isaiah 50:10 - "let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God."

How To Reconcile The Tension Between Safety & Serving

Safety Serving Bravery Mountain Climbing

Because of the years of work with medical missions and international travel I've been in situations where I've served in the midst of political unrest, in the wake of natural disasters and human suffering. In every place I've served, there has always been the necessary discussion and consideration of the balance between safety and serving.  These thoughts by Gary Haugen of the organization International Justice Mission - a group that addresses the plight of human trafficking, are of tremendous encouragement in helping to negotiate that tension between Safety & Serving.

excerpted from Church Relevance:

When did it begin to occur to the twelve disciples that following Jesus was going to be dangerous?

When did it occur to you that following Jesus is going to be dangerous?

There are two ways to respond to fear: (1) seek to be safer or (2) seek to be braver.

Jesus is in the business of making people who are braver. Jesus is not in the business of making situations safer because he uses unsafe situations to make people braver.

You must make a choice between being safe or brave. Jesus tells us we will suffer for him. (Tweet This)

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. - 1 Peter 4:19 (NIV)

There are two things that are always God’s will and dangerous:
  • Telling the truth.
  • Loving people in need.
  • If my life in following Jesus, doesn’t feel dangerous I might want to check if I’m actually following Jesus. 1 John tells us that if we see people in need but do not help them then the love of God isn’t even in us.
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. - Isaiah 1:17

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8

God is calling all of us to the work of justice, but it is not safe. Do you want to experience your power safely? Or do you want to experience God’s power dangerously? (Tweet This)

The Bible says God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.

(ht: ChurchRelevance)