The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

Welcome to our site. Our mission and dedication is to equip leaders for innovative ministry. Explore. Read. Share.

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.

A Simple Way To Pray

Luther described prayer as: "The hardest work of all -a labour above all labours, since he who prays must wage almighty warfare against the doubt and murmuring excited by the faint-heartedness and unworthiness we feel within us...that unutterable and powerful groaning with which the godly rouse themselves against despair, the struggle in which they call mightily upon their faith."

For me, one of the most helpful guides to prayer is Luther's, A Simple Way to Pray, especially the edition with comments from Archie Parish. A Simple Way to Pray is a collection of Luther's pastoral advice on prayer. It came about when Luther's barber asked him for some guidelines on prayer. Luther's counsel on prayer was that we use the Lord's Prayer, the Psalms, and the Ten Commandments as well as the Apostle's Creed as models and guidelines for how to structure our prayers. Luther isn't bound up in rote rituals within these guidelines, but rather Luther believed that there were Biblical patterns of prayer that are helpful for all believers. Luther's guide is extremely helpful especially in it's practicality.

You can order that book here.

4 Seasons Of Leadership

from Ron Edmondson:

“There are four seasons of leadership. Misunderstanding this can lead to frustration.”

Some plant: “Some leaders sow seeds. They are used to start something new.”

Some water: “Some leaders are used to create systems that allow progress to continue. They build healthy teams. They create good structure. They help things grow.”

Some pull weeds: “Some leaders identify problems and provide solutions to address them. They make the hard changes. They restructure. They clear the path to progress.”

Some harvest: “Some leaders get to see the fruition of the harvest.”

(ht: Blog Of Dan)

Photo Credit: *~Dawn~* via Compfight cc

Top 15 Books On Evangelism

These are Ministry Best Practices' Top 15 Recommended books on the topic of evangelism. Some of these books address the theological underpinnings of evangelism. While many others help us in becoming a much more effective practitioner of sharing our faith in Jesus.

Here is our list:

Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People by Will Metzger

Just Walk Across The Room by Bill Hybels

Questioning Evangelism by Randy Newman

The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert F. Coleman

Finding Common Ground by Tim Downs

Evangelism Out of the Box by Rick Richardson

The Heart of Evangelism by Jerram Barrs

“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you're not saved yourself, be sure of that!” - Charles Spurgeon

What would you add?

The Marginalized Are Central To The Church

A good word from Henri why the church must always look outside of itself and be missional.
“Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of our society. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sisters – they require our first attention. 
We can trust that when we reach out with all our energy to the margins of our society we will discover that petty disagreements, fruitless debates, and paralysing rivalries will recede and gradually vanish. The Church will always be renewed when our attention shifts from ourselves to those who need our care. The blessing of Jesus always comes to us through the poor. The most remarkable experience of those who work with the poor is that, in the end, the poor give more than they receive. They give food to us.”
 – Henri Nouwen

Photo Credit: Alex E. Proimos via Compfight cc

4 Lessons From The School Of Suffering

from Darryl Dash:

Suffering is real, and it is a very good teacher. Okay, I knew this, but I knew it in a new way last year. There is something about experiencing an intense period of suffering. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but I’m the better for it. What Spurgeon said is true:
Do we not profit most in stormy times? Have you not found it so -- that your sick-bed -- your bereavement -- your depression of spirit, has instructed you in many matters which tranquility and delight have never whispered to you? I suppose we ought: to learn as much by joy as by sorrow, and I hope that many of my Lord's better servants do so; but, alas! others of us do not; affliction has to be called in to whip the lesson into us.
Christianity has rich resources for suffering, but Christians often don’t. The Psalms and other writings became real to me in new ways. My prayer life was deepened even as my prayers contained fewer words. The consolation from knowing that Jesus was no stranger to suffering became even more precious.

At the same time, I found that there’s a stigma to certain kinds of suffering in the church. We aren’t always comfortable when the answers aren’t easy. Perhaps it’s an over-realized eschatology (complete victory is ours now!) or a lack of experience, but I wish we were better equipped to stand with those who are suffering.

There’s a secret group of sufferers. Begin to speak about your suffering and you will find a lot of people who say, “You too?” I was amazed by the number of people who understood what we were going through, because they’d been through it too.

Weakness is the way. One of the things I’ll never forget is Charlene’s reminder that weakness isn’t a distraction from ministry; it’s often in our weakness, not our strength, that God most powerfully works. God seems to love using weak people. As J.I. Packer writes:

For all Christians, the likelihood is rather that as our discipleship continues, God will make us increasingly weakness-conscious and pain-aware, so that we may learn with Paul that when we are conscious of being weak, then— and only then— may we become truly strong in the Lord. And should we want it any other way? (Weakness is the Way)

At some level, the suffering continues, as do the lessons, although at a completely different level. I pray I’ll never forget the lessons I’ve learned in the school of suffering.

Quotes To Encourage And Inspire

Here are some quotes to encourage and inspire you today.

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else."C.S. Lewis 

"Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until they rest in Him."Augustine of Hippo 

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried."G.K. Chesterton (What's Wrong with the World) 

"We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone."Martin Luther

“When people say, "I know God forgives me, but I can't forgive myself," they mean that they have failed an idol, whose approval is more important than God's.”
Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters

"Every painful thing we experience in relationships is meant to remind us of our need for God. And every good thing we experience is meant to be a metaphor of what we can only find in Him.... We settle for the satisfaction of human relationships when they were meant to point us to the perfect relational satisfaction found only with God." 
Paul David Tripp

Four Kinds Of People

As you approach discipling and shepherding those within your church and ministry, it is helpful to see and understand that there are four kinds of people in the world and in your church (via Tim Keller):

Law-obeying, law-relying. These people are under the law, and are usually very smug, self-righteous and superior. Externally, they are very sure they are right with God, but deep down, they have a lot of insecurity, since no one can truly be assured that they are living up to the standard. This makes them touchy, sensitive to criticism and devastated when their prayers aren't answered. This includes members of other religions, but here I am thinking mainly of people who go to church. These people have much in common with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.

Law-disobeying, law-relying. These people have a religious conscience of strong works-righteousness, but they are not living consistently with it. As a result of this, they are more humble and more tolerant of others than the “Pharisees” above, but they are also much more guilt-ridden, subject to mood swings and sometimes very afraid of religious topics. Some of these people may go to church, but they stay on the periphery because of their low spiritual self-esteem.

Law-disobeying, not law-relying. These are the people who have thrown off the concept of the law of God. They are intellectually secular or relativistic, or have a very vague spirituality. They largely choose their own moral standards and then insist that they are meeting them. But Paul, in Romans 1:18-20, says that at a sub-conscious level, they know there is a God who they should be obeying. Such people are usually happier and more tolerant than either of the above groups. But usually there is a strong, liberal self-righteousness. They are earning their own salvation by feeling superior to others. It is just that this is usually a less obvious kind of self-righteousness.

Law-obeying, not law-relying. These are Christians who understand the gospel and are living out of the freedom of it. They obey the law of God out of grateful joy that comes from the knowledge of their sonship, and out of freedom from the fear and selfishness that false idols had generated. They are more tolerant than number 3, more sympathetic than number 1, and more confident than number 2. But most Christians struggle to live out number 4, and tend to see the world as a #1, #2, or even #3 person. But to the degree that they do, they are impoverished spiritually.

5 Reasons Change Is So Difficult For A Leader

Here are five reasons change can be so very difficult for a leader:

You fear the security of your job - this isn't an irrational fear. A person I know just got fired after being there for 7 weeks as their pastor (and it wasn't moral or ethical reasons). It was because of a disagreement over direction. Implementing change and a new direction can make a leader feel vulnerable.

You feel that you are alone - it is hard to implement change when you feel as if you are the only one leading the charge trying to take the hill.
Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future – John F. Kennedy
You know that its gonna cost capital - change costs. It is going to cost relational capital, energy and focus. As a leader you may feel as if you don't have those resources to spend.

You suspect that the vision isn't clear to prompt change - people will change because of a compelling mission and vision.  Perhaps you know you need change, but you can't rely on a clear and compelling vision to help prompt and initiate that change.
If you want to make enemies, try to change something – Woodrow Wilson
Your ministry culture doesn't have a good history with change - your church doesn't have a good history. Perhaps in the past change wasn't done well. Perhaps people were burned by it. Maybe it split the church and many key families left. That history is going to leave a bad taste in people's mouth and it is going to make any leader gun-shy to implement change in the future.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got –Anonymous
Just because these issues make change difficult for a leader - doesn't mean that a leader isn't called to be a change-agent. In light of these challenges, the question becomes, how does a leader scale these hurdles and break through these barriers in order to help move their organization or ministry into the future that God has called them? What are your thoughts?

The Essential Element Of Every Pastoral Visit

Unfortunately, it seems, for many pastors and churches, the role of pastoral visits seems to have diminished. And yet, having one's pastor, shepherd or elder visit in the home is such an essential part of ministry. On a Sunday morning, a pastor can't address each person's or family's issues and needs, nor can they relationally connect with each individual.

Having a pastor visit believers one-by-one is Biblical. For instance, when Paul spoke to the church leaders at Ephesus he told them to follow the example of his ministry (Acts 20:18-35). He reminded them that he had preached both in public and in private:
 “I … have taught you publicly, and from house to house”. 
This same pattern is in Paul's letters in that he not only wrote to churches, but to individuals, such as Philemon, Timothy and Titus personally. Also Jesus himself preached in public, but also ministered to individuals on their own, sometimes in their homes (e.g. the woman of Samaria, John 4:3; the man born blind, John 9:1; Mary and Martha, Luke 10:38).

Needless to say, as pastors conduct these visits, there is one essential element that should not be avoided, per the advice of Derek Prime and Alistair Begg, from their book "On Being A Pastor".
Prayer should be part of every pastoral visit.

Once we make it our habit people will always expect us to pray with them, and they will be disappointed if we do not.

Praying together should be seen as a principal purpose of a pastoral visit.

(ht: Blog of Dan)

5 Ways To Stop Creating Meetings From Hell

Meetings can too often seem like eternal punishment. Many meetings we are called to (or perhaps we are calling them ourselves) seem meaningless, unfocused and waste our time and energy. Therefore, as a leader, how can you avoid creating "meetings from H-E-Double Hockey Sticks"?

Here are 5 tips that can help.

Have clear agenda and stop/start time - start the meeting when you say you are going to start and end on time. Don't wait to start a meeting until everyone has arrived, and don't let meetings go well beyond their intended time. Doing so doesn't respect people's time and it creates bad precedent and expectations for the future.

Don't have meeting with out clear purpose.... don't just have them - you shouldn't create or go into a meeting without knowing exactly what you are intending to accomplish. You should have a meeting to accomplish something that's a part of your vision, mission and objectives. Avoid having meetings just to "inform"- like simply just reviewing the calendar.

Try having short huddles instead of meetings - instead of blocking out time in the schedule and calling an official meeting for everyone to attend, gather together around a focused objective/task/issue. You can have that huddle meeting in the hall. Have the meeting while standing and you'll be assured that the meeting won't last very long.

Don't leave a meeting without clearly assigned and measurable action items - before you leave the meeting, you should have clearly defined Action Items. And with every item that is created you should know and record - what exactly (quantitatively) are you needing to do, who is responsible for it and what is the time frame when it needs to be accomplished. In addition the progress of those action items needs to be reviewed regularly.

Avoid bringing laptops/smartphones to the meeting - people disconnect and disengage from meetings with these devices...if your meetings are focused and to the point there will be no need for people to run to these devices because they are bored.

5 Essential Questions For Those Seeking Membership

What questions should you ask in a membership interview?

Here are some thoughts from Mark Dever and his book "The Deliberate Church":
  • Ask them to explain the gospel.
  • Ask them what their previous church was and why they left.
  • Ask them if they are baptized, what the mode of their baptism was, and are they willing to be baptized if they have yet to do so.
  • Ask them if they have ever been disciplined by a church.
  • Ask them for their personal testimony.
What would you add to this list? Or modify?

Good Day For Ebook Deals

Below are some great ebook deals from fantastic authors on subjects ranging from faith, ministry, culture and Christian living. Enjoy

Know the Heretics and Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin Holcomb ($5.99)

Visit the Sick, Prepare Them to Shepherd, and Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals by Brian Croft ($5.99)

The Grand Weaver, Walking from East to West, and Who Made God? by Ravi Zacharias ($5.98)

The Gospel According to Jesus and Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur ($5.98)

Jesus In His Own Words by Robert Mounce ($0.99)

How Sermons Work by David Murray ($4.39)

Faithful to the End by Terry Wilder ($4.99)

Hipster Christianity by Brett McCracken ($1.99)

Mary-Another Redeemer? by James White ($1.99)

Photo Credit: Pavel P. via Compfight cc

How To Avoid Delegation Dumping

Too often we take the shortcut to delegation...we give over and assign a particular role or responsibility on someone in our organization, we then wipe our hands, we move on and don't look back.

But that isn't delegation...that's just pure dumping.

Delegation dumping doesn't work. If we are truly going to make delegation effective we have to spend time and invest on the front end and work through these 4 stages. It will take time. It is an investment. But the payoff for us and that person we delegate to will be much greater. Here are the 4 stages:

Model - At this stage need to have that person with us. We need to demonstrate and show that person how the job or responsibility actually looks.

Assist - Now that person needs to start doing it. We're not done yet. We still need to be along side that person and remain a resource, assist and help them. We must coach, train and equip them to succeed.

Watch - Then after a while, we must eventually get out of the way. We still need to be present, but we must simply observe and watch - allowing ourselves to give that person the helpful and important feedback they require.

Leave - Then eventually we just need to leave, move on and trust the person to do the job we've entrusted to them. There is no room for micromanaging.

Which of these 4 stages of the delegation process do you have the most trouble with?

The Loneliest Job

Pastors are some of the loneliest people. For those outside the ministry, that fact may come as a surprise. You may think pastors are always surrounded by people. You may think that people are always seeking the pastor out and that they must have many deep spiritual and personal relationships. But for those of us in ministry, we know, just how true this statement is - many pastors are lonely.

They feel isolated.

And because of their loneliness and isolation, they often have no one in their life who is truly in their life, who knows them...the real them.

  • No one who knows their junk. 
  • No one who knows their fears. 
  • No one who knows their failures. 
  • No one who knows their hopes and dreams.

Being in this place of isolation is a dangerous place to be. It makes pastors vulnerable. (see infographic below)

  • Vulnerable to compromise.
  • Vulnerable to rationalize failure.
  • Vulnerable to justify dangerous behavior.
  • Vulnerable to minimize sin.
  • Vulnerable to shift blame to others.

Pastor who have you allowed in your life that can speak words of life and grace into your life and walk with you through the hard times of ministry and the temptations of life?

How To Get High Quality Scans On The Go

One of my go-to productivity apps is ScanBot (available on both  iOS/Android).

I have used several other scanning apps in the past, but what I like about ScanBot the best is it's simplicity and ease of use. ScanBot simply takes high-quality snapshots using your phone's camera. Then the app saves them (as a PDF or jpeg) to your preferred online web service-  Google Drive, Evernote, Dropbox, and more. Evernote is my preferred app, and therefore I have ScanBot set up to automatically upload to Evernote once the document is scanned.

The other great feature of the app is that ScanBot automatically finds and frames the item you are scanning and then it takes the scan without you having to tap the screen. Having ScanBot frame the item to be scanned is such a great feature because it allows all the extraneous table or desk top to be cropped out of the scan. ScanBot gives you a clean and clear scan.

For any ministry leader who is on the go, like myself, an app like ScanBot comes in handy and is a great resource. Watch the video below to see this app in action.

Don't Miss These Great Ebook Deals

Here are some great ebook deals for your library!

The Shepherd Leader at Home by Timothy Witmer—99¢
Date your Wife by Justin Buzzard—99¢
Family Shepherds by Voddie Baucham—$2.99
Preaching the Parables by Craig Blomberg—$3.03
Women in the Church by Andreas Kostenberger—$3.50
The Work of Christ by R.C. Sproul—$3.69
The Promises of God by R.C. Sproul—$2.99
Pleasing God by R.C. Sproul—$2.99

Ready for Reformation? by Tom Nettles—99¢
Manhood Restored by Eric Mason—$1.82
A Guide to Biblical Manhood by Randy Stinson—$3.19
Doxology and Theology edited by Matt Boswell—$2.99
Simple Church by Thom Rainer—$1.82
I am a Church Member by Thom Rainer—$3.65
The Dude’s Guide to Manhood by Darrin Patrick—$2.99
Pressure Points by J.D. Payne—$3.99

Hero of Heroes by Iain Duguid—$1.99
Preach: Theology Meets Practice by Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert—$4.99
The Church by Mark Dever—$2.97
Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler—$2.99
How to Study the Bible by Richard Mayhue—$2.99
Mansfield’s Book to Manly Men by Stephen Mansfield—$2.99
The Measure of a Man by Gene Getz—$4.99
The Measure of a Young Man by Gene Getz—$2.99
The Majesty of God in the Old Testament by Walter Kaiser—$3.99
God’s Will by J.I. Packer—$3.99

Photo Credit: BMeunier via Compfight cc

Evangelicals Are The Biggest Cheaters

Here is some disturbing news from Christian Today:

"Thou shalt not commit adultery" may be one of the Ten Commandments but if a new survey is anything to go by, a sizable percentage of evangelicals think there's some room for negotiation on God's rule for love.

A not so insignificant 25.1 per cent of Ashley Madison users identified themselves as evangelical, topping the international poll by the dating service that specializes in hooking up people already in relationships.

The survey uncovers the religious affiliation of 105,000 of the dating service's members, with more than 60,000 of the respondents coming from the US. Around 57 per cent of respondents were male and the average age was 30 among the men and 34 among the women..

The breakdown of religious affiliation in full is:
  • Evangelical 25.1%
  • Catholic 22.75%
  • Protestant 22.7%
  • Agnostic 2%
  • Mormon 1.6%
  • Muslim 1.5%
  • Jewish 1.4%
  • Atheist 1.4%
  • Jehovah's Witness .5%
  • Hindu .3%
Meanwhile, just under a quarter (24 per cent) of men using the site and nearly a third of women (32 per cent) said they pray regularly.

The figures mirror the religious breakdown of the US population, with Pew research putting the proportion of adult evangelicals in the country at 26 per cent, and Catholics at just under 24 per cent.

Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman told the Daily News: "You can go and pray every Sunday, or Saturday, or three times a day, and it may not make a difference in how monogamous you are."

The Least Popular Books Of The Bible

Everyone always talks about their favorite book or books of the Bible. Yet rarely is the question or issue about the least favorite Bible book ever asked. Yet in the infographic below, the folks at the Overview Bible Project presents The Least Popular Books of the Bible (according to as to the books least read on their site),

(ht: ChurchMag)

N.T. Wright On Gay Marriage

For churches, pastors and ministries, this is the issue of our day and a big part of the cultural conversation. And yet unfortunately there aren't too many Biblically minded, sober and thoughtful voices on the subject and issue, but here New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright proves to be one. J. John (Revd Canon) of Philo Trust interviewed N. T. Wright and asked him about the redefinition of marriage:

(ht: Justin)

Quotable Friday

Here again are some more great and inspirational quotes about faith, leadership and life - posted by Ministry Best Practices on social media these past several weeks.

7 Crucial Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Preach

from Francis Chan:

  • Am I worried about what people think of my message or what God thinks? (Teach with fear)
  • Do I genuinely love these people? (Teach with love)
  • Am I accurately presenting this passage? (Teach with accuracy)
  • Am I depending on the Holy Spirit’s power or my own cleverness? (Teach with power)
  • Have I applied this message to my own life? (Teach with integrity)
  • Will this message draw attention to me or to God? (Teach with humility)
  • Do the people really need this message? (Teach with urgency)

(ht: Blog of Dan)

Requests For Every Worship Pastor

Here, in this video below, stand up comedian Tim Hawkins shares a couple requests he has for worship pastors. Does Tim Hawkins speak for you? What requests would you have for your worship pastor?

The Pressure Of Being A Pastor

As a reader of Ministry Best Practices you know that we discuss this issue often. You can see relevant articles HERE and HERE. Pastors and their families are under great pressures and stress. We need to be praying and supporting the pastors and ministry leaders that lead and shepherd us.

See some sobering stats from this video below:
The Pressures Of Being A Pastor from Ministry Best Practices on Vimeo.

Source: H.B. London's Book - Pastors At Greater Risk

Why Applying The Gospel Is Essential For Leaders

An important reminder for all ministry leaders (and for everyone for that matter).
“If you know what He has done at infinite cost to himself—He’s put you into a relationship so that you’ll never be rejected by Him—then your motivation when you sin is to go get Him. You want fellowship with Him. When the thing that most assures you is the thing that most convicts you, you’ll be okay because when you’re convicted of sin in a gospel way it drives you toward God.  
Without the gospel we hate ourselves instead of our sin. Without the gospel we’re motivated through all sorts of awful fear and pride to change and it doesn’t really change our hearts; it just restrains our hearts. ”
 — Tim Keller "How the Gospel Changes Us"

As leaders, when we remember and apply the gospel, we don't have to hide, be fearful and be puffed up with pride. It will give us the freedom to be a repenting repenter, humble and broken before others we lead. With the gospel in view, we can rest in the assurance of being fully loved and accepted as a son or daughter of the King!

5 Common Mistakes Of New Small Group Pastors

great advice and insight from Mark Howell

Here are 5 of the most common mistakes of a rookie small group pastors:

1. Trying to take care of too many small group leaders. This is a very common mistake and reflects a lack of understanding of span of care. Caring for too many can only do two things: burn out the caregiver or provide inadequate and watered down care.

2. Propping up existing groups instead of starting new groups.
It happens to all of us and if we let it, it will happen over and over. ”We are down to three couples…if you could send us a couple more it would be helpful.” This is a losing proposition. Far better to prioritize new groups and teach existing group leaders how to be on the lookout for new members.

3. Not saying “no” to unfit “leaders.” Although unfit can cover a lot of ground, the version that catches many rookie small group pastors are the people who want to be a leader but couldn’t build their own group if their life depended on it. They need to be given 10 members and then don’t have what’s necessary to hold the group together. Learning to say “no” often begins with learning to ask, “Do you already have a few people you can invite?” Seasoned small group pastors learn to be wary of the “leaders” who can’t build their own group.

4. Allowing their senior pastor to delegate the small group champion role. This mistake has deadly implications. It’s never good when the most influential person in the congregation (the senior pastor) delegates the champion role to the small group pastor. Rookie small group pastors often have a very hard time helping their senior pastor see the opportunity that exists when the champion role is played by the right person.

5. Missing the opportunity to partner with their senior pastor. Related to mistake #4, there is a tremendous opportunity for impact when a small group pastor learns how to help the senior pastor champion small group ministry.

Here’s an important note. All of us make these mistakes at one time or another. The key is to learn from our mistakes and not make them again!

Ebook Deals For Your Library

Here are some great deals that you don't want to miss. Add these to your summer reading.

Do I Really Love Jesus? by Jean Maurice Prosper—FREE
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Reasons We Believe by Nathan Busenitz—$3.99
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Beyond Bath Time by Erin Davis—$2.99
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What Every Man Wishes His Father Had Told Him by Byron Yawn—$2.99
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The Mortification of Sin by John Owen—99¢
Manhood Restored by Eric Mason—$2.99
Simple Church by Thom Rainer—$2.99

Introducing the New Testament by Joe Blair—99¢
Subversive Kingdom by Ed Stetzer—$2.99
Doxology & Theology by Matt Boswell—$2.99
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The Shape of Faith to Come by Brad Waggoner—$2.99
The Church by Mark Dever—$2.99
Preach by Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert—$2.99
Hero of Heroes: Seeing Christ in the Beatitudes by Ian M. Duguid—$1.99
Joni and Ken by Joni & Ken Tada—$3.99

Four volumes from Crossway’s Knowing the Bible series on sale for 99¢:
Romans by Jared C. Wilson
James by Greg Gilbert
Isaiah by Drew Hunter
Genesis by Mitchell Kim

X-Ray Questions To Help Diagnose Idols Of The Heart

Idols of the Heart. Those things in our life that we serve functionally as our gods. They are often subtle and they may be things that we would define as "good things". Yet the problem is that we have made a good thing preeminent and assigned to it an inordinate affection and devotion.  

These questions below, by David Powlison, aim to help us identify the ungodly masters that occupy positions of authority in their heart. These questions reveal those 'functional gods,' what or who actually controls our particular actions, thoughts, emotions, attitudes, memories, and anticipations.

These are great diagnostic questions for every ministry leader to ask of themselves as well as something very beneficial to share with others.

Here are all 35 of David Powlison's X-Ray questions:

1. What do you love? Hate?

2. What do you want, desire, crave, lust, and wish for? What desires do you serve and obey?

3. What do you seek, aim for, and pursue?

4. Where do you bank your hopes?

5. What do you fear? What do you not want? What do you tend to worry about?

6. What do you feel like doing?

7. What do you think you need? What are your 'felt needs'?

8. What are your plans, agendas, strategies, and intentions designed to accomplish?

9. What makes you tick? What sun does your planet revolve around? What do you organize your life around?

10. Where do you find refuge, safety, comfort, escape, pleasure, security?

11. What or whom do you trust?

12. Whose performance matters? On whose shoulders does the well-being of your world rest? Who can make it better, make it work, make it safe, make it successful?

13. Whom must you please? Whose opinion of you counts? From whom do you desire approval and fear rejection? Whose value system do you measure yourself against? In whose eyes are you living? Whose love and approval do you need?

14. Who are your role models? What kind of person do you think you ought to be or want to be?

15. On your deathbed, what would sum up your life as worthwhile? What gives your life meaning?

16. How do you define and weigh success and failure, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable, in any particular situation?

17. What would make you feel rich, secure, prosperous? What must you get to make life sing?

18. What would bring you the greatest pleasure, happiness, and delight? The greatest pain or misery?

19. Whose coming into political power would make everything better?

20. Whose victory or success would make your life happy? How do you define victory and success?

21. What do you see as your rights? What do you feel entitled to?

22. In what situations do you feel pressured or tense? Confident and relaxed? When you are pressured, where do you turn? What do you think about? What are your escapes? What do you escape from?

23. What do you want to get out of life? What payoff do you seek out of the things you do?

24. What do you pray for?

25. What do you think about most often? What preoccupies or obsesses you? In the morning, to what does your mind drift instinctively?

26. What do you talk about? What is important to you? What attitudes do you communicate?

27. How do you spend your time? What are your priorities?

28. What are your characteristic fantasies, either pleasurable or fearful? Daydreams? What do your night dreams revolve around?

29. What are the functional beliefs that control how you interpret your life and determine how you act?

30. What are your idols and false gods? In what do you place your trust, or set your hopes? What do you turn to or seek? Where do you take refuge?

31. How do you live for yourself?

32. How do you live as a slave of the devil?

33. How do you implicitly say , 'If only...' (to get what you want, avoid what you don't want, keep what you have)?

34. What instinctively seems and feels right to you? What are your opinions, the things you feel true?

35. Where do you find your identity? How do you define who you are?

Top 12 Must Read Leadership Books

As leaders we are continually called to be growing and developing. That goals is often accomplished by reading - that is why it is said that "leaders are readers". As a leader, I am constantly digesting books - especially ones about leadership. I know that this isn't an exhaustive list below, but here are some of the top leadership books you should have on your shelf and be ready to read (if you haven't already done so). Some of these books are classics. Some are fairly new and recent. Some are spiritual and ministry minded. Some are business and marketplace focused. Yet all of these books below are must read books for every leader.

Getting Things Done - David Allen

Making Ideas Happen -  Scott Belsky

7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey

Good to Great - Jim Collins

Spiritual Leadership - J. Oswald Sanders

Dangerous Calling - Paul David Tripp

Leaders Who Last - Dave Kraft

Decisive - Chip and Dan Heath

Courageous Leadership - Bill Hybels

Contemplative Pastor - Eugene H. Peterson

Any books you feel are missing from this list??

Post Christian Cities - Where Does Your City Rank?

from Barna:

The level of irreligion in America depends on how you measure it. And the vitality of faith in America is much more than simply how people label themselves.

Barna Group tracks the following 15 metrics related to faith, which speak to the lack of Christian identity, belief and practice.

Post-Christian = meet at least 60% of the following 15 factors (9 or more factors)
Highly Post-Christian = meet at least 80% of the following 15 factors (12 or more factors)

1. do not believe in God
2. identify as atheist or agnostic
3. disagree that faith is important in their lives
4. have not prayed to God (in the last year)
5. have never made a commitment to Jesus
6. disagree the Bible is accurate
7. have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
8. have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
9. agree that Jesus committed sins
10. do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
11. have not read the Bible (in the last week)
12. have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
13. have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
14. have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
15. do not participate in a house church (in the last year)

Based on that are where people ranked throughout the U.S.

(ht: Barna)

4 Phrases That Will Kill Great Ideas Forever

Too often great ideas never survive the "brainstorm period". We work hard to come up new and fresh ideas for our church, ministry and organization, yet before they even have a chance to to take shape and develop, they are dismissed and destroyed. It doesn't take much to kill a great idea. Too often it only takes a quickly and cleverly uttered remark. These are 4 lethal phrases and remarks that will kill any great idea before it has been given time to take root. AVOID THESE AT ALL COST!

"We can't afford it" - stuck with a scarcity mindset believing that we are limited and defined by the resources we have today.

"We've never done that before" - stuck with a precedent mindset believing that our past experience dictates and defines our future direction.

"It's already been tried and didn't work" - stuck with a failure mindset believing that past failures dictate future performance and success.

"That idea is not practical" - stuck with a utilitarian mindset believing that all ideas have to have immediate and understood implications and application.

If you want great ideas to become reality, it is important to set these killer phrases aside and not judge too quickly an idea before it has had a chance to grow, develop and prove itself.

5 Barriers That Are Keeping You From Effectively Delegating

As a leader, you know that it is essential to delegate. You've been told that in order for you to be effective and truly productive, you will need to involve others to assist you with the many tasks that you asked to juggle. Yet even though delegation is a certain pathway to leadership success, it may often frustrate and allude you. Why is that? Here are perhaps several reasons why it is difficult to get traction on delegating to those around you.

Feeling overwhelmed - you are feeling so overwhelmed and under stress, you don't have the capacity to look up and objectively access that the best course of action is to delegate.

You are rushed and have immediate deadlines -you are so behind on your deadlines, and you feel the pressure to get the job or project done immediately, therefore you don't feel as if you have the time or energy to delegate.

You don't trust that others can do it as well - you think that no one can or will do the job as well as you can. And since you feel that because you are the one that'll be evaluated on the job's performance and it's execution, you don't want to risk putting your own reputation at risk.

You've been burned in the past - been there, done that, got the t-shirt. You've tried to delegate in the past and it hasn't worked. All it's proven is that delegation costs spending a lot of energy with very little positive return.

You've never seen it properly modeled - you hear about delegation all the time, but you aren't sure what it looks like and therefore without any clear vision or model of delegation you are uncertain on how to proceed.

Perhaps some (or all) of these barriers mentioned above,are keeping you from delegating. Recognizing and being honest about them is the first step to addressing them head on - because as a leader it is essential that you delegate.

The Top 5 Regrets To Avoid On Your Deathbed

a sermon illustration (James 4:14; Matthew 7:24-27)

from Top Info Post:

Below a palliative care nurse shares the top regrets she's heard from her patients. Her patients were those who had gone home to die. At those moments some incredibly special times and conversations were shared during the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

The Most Popular Tweets These Past Several Months

Here are some of @bestministry's most popular tweets these past couple of months. If you are not following Ministry Best Practices on Twitter, let me encourage you to do so - our twitter account tweets great quotes, pictures and articles. Stuff that you won't find on the website and certainly stuff that you won't want to miss!