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.

Two Prayers That Will Inspire And Provoke The Soul

Here are two wonderful prayers from St. Augustine.

Almighty God, You have made us for yourself, 
and our hearts are restless till they find rest in you. 

Grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose,
that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing your will, 
and no weakness hinder us from doing it; 
but that in your life we may see light, 
and in your service find our perfect freedom; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 


You are Christ, my Holy Father, my Tender God, my Great King, my Good Shepherd, my Only Master, my Best Helper, my Most Beautiful and my Beloved, my Living Bread, my Priest Forever, my Leader to my Country, my True Light, my Holy Sweetness, my Straight Way, my Excellent Wisdom, my Pure Simplicity, my Peaceful Harmony, my Entire Protection, my Good Portion, my Everlasting Salvation. 

Christ Jesus, Sweet Lord, why have I ever loved, why in my whole life have I ever desired anything except You, Jesus my God? Where was I when I was not in spirit with You? Now, from this time forth, do you, all my desires, grow hot, and flow out upon the Lord Jesus: run… you have been tardy until now; hasten where you are going; seek Whom you are seeking. O, Jesus may he who loves You not be an anathema; may he who loves You not be filled with bitterness. 

O, Sweet Jesus, may every good feeling that is fitted for Your praise, love You, delight in You, adore You! God of my heart, and my Portion, Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit, and may You be my Life within me! May the live coal of Your Love grow hot within my spirit and break forth into a perfect fire; may it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart; may it glow in my innermost being; may it blaze in hidden recesses of my soul; and in the days of my consummation may I be found consummated with You! 


What Your Church Can Do To Fight Modern-Day Slavery

sex trafficking book review
Perhaps you read the stats

There are an estimated 27 million people on the earth today trapped in some form of modern day slavery. There are an estimated 1.39 million victims of commercial sexual servitude worldwide. Tragically, only 1-2% of victims are rescued. Remember every number is not just a statistic it represents the life of a victim.

The problem is that too often we become overwhelmed by the enormity of the issue that we become paralyzed, thinking - what can I really do to help?

Justice Awakening is a roadmap for the church and God's people to get active in making things right. Justice Awakening is a handbook for Christian who want to bring an end to human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Pastor and activist Eddie Byun offers in this book practical, on-the-ground steps that any believer or church can take. For example:
  • Have the church fast from slavery-made food and products
  • Host movie nights and screen films that offer insight into the trafficking industry
  • Rally men's and women's ministries to educate and actively engage in the fight against trafficking by helping anti-trafficking and after-care programs
  • Work as a church to push for legislation to punish traffickers
"The book that I have long awaited is finally here! Thank you, Eddie Byun, for creating a road map
that weaves justice, prayer and biblical inspiration for those of us who aspire to follow the path of Jesus.Justice Awakening is written for individuals who want to do something significant to change the world. Read it as you ride along the bus toward freedom and justice." (David Batstone, cofounder and president, Not for Sale)

"In Justice Awakening, Pastor Eddie Byun provides an urgent introduction to one of the most brutal forms of violent injustice in our world today: human trafficking. But Pastor Eddie doesn't just share what's wrong with the world--he provides a road map to get active in making things right. His great passion for the church and for the most vulnerable people in our world fills each page." (Gary Haugen, president and CEO of International Justice Mission (IJM))

Go here to get your copy of Justice Awakening

Why The Global Church Needs Greater Resources For Youth

Having traveled overseas (especially in countries that have been war torn at sometime over the past 30 years) - the trend is less that of an aging population (i.e. the U.S.) but rather a high proportion of the population 25 and younger. That means the church's investment in the youth within that country is of paramount importance. Below is an infographic illustrating the importance of the global church needing to focus on youth ministry and yet why the needed resources needed to accomplish that task are lacking.

The global church needs to invest more time, energy, and resources to address global youth issues and unlock the potential that lies within this largely untapped source of transformation.

Global Youth Ministry

One Simple Tip To Get 50% More Ideas

excerpted from 99U:
There are two leading problems with the average brainstorming session, as researchers at the Kellogg School of Management explain :
In a typical six or eight-person group, three people do 70 percent of the talking. (Tweet This) Early ideas tend to have disproportionate influence over the rest of the conversation.
One of the researchers  Professor Leigh Thompson, remarks that the dominant people don’t realize that they’re doing most of the talking. “In fact,” she says, “they vehemently argue that meetings are egalitarian.”

The solution to these lop-sided meetings is brainwriting, instead of brainstorming. 
Thompson describes brainwriting as “the simultaneous written generation of ideas.” She breaks it down the process as such:

Step 1: Write just one sentence each. For the first five or 10 minutes of your next idea generation meeting, every team member writes down one good idea or one proposed solution on, say, each of a small stack of index cards.

Step 2: Consider the idea, not the source. When the timer goes off, all cards are submitted anonymously and taped or thumbtacked to a wall for the whole team’s consideration.

Step 3: Put it to a blind vote. Team members signal their interest in an idea by marking it with a sticker or a Post-it note. Everyone gets a limited number of stickers and, if done right, the best ideas emerge quickly.

(ht: Kellogg)

Never Have A Meaningless Meeting Again

We all experience them. Ineffective...time-wasting...unproductive...boring...meetings. Of course it is important for your leadership team (elders/deacons/ministry teams) within your church to occasionally meet in order to work effectively. Yet as you do meet, it is important to ask these two essential questions to insure that the meetings you have are effective and productive.

excerpted from Mike Bonem:

How would you evaluate the effectiveness of your meetings? I know that I’ve just said the dreaded “M” word. No one likes meetings. But shouldn’t the leadership team meetings be the place where you work on the most important organizational issues? If not, where will you work on the major challenges? How will you make the decisions between two great opportunities?

The first question for your leadership team is, “Do we work on the most important issues at our meetings?” (Tweet This) Take a minute to do a mental inventory of those matters that could have the greatest impact on the future of your organization. Are these matters the focus of your team meetings? Are they even discussed? Are you having honest discussions? A number of factors could keep these issues from receiving appropriate air time – fear of conflict, a habit of only dealing with urgent matters, embarrassment at admitting a mistake. But if you want to move forward, it is essential to overcome these barriers and get the right issues on the table.

The second question is, “Do we make and follow through on decisions made in our team meetings?” (Tweet ThisSome teams talk about the issues. In fact, they talk and talk and talk, and never make a decision. Or they appear to make a decision, but then nothing happens. Important matters deserve ongoing attention and accountability to insure that action is taken.

Here’s my recommendation. First, answer the two questions on your own. How do you evaluate your team? Then makes these two questions the focus of your next leadership team meeting. Push hard for an honest conversation and if changes are needed, make a clear decision on what will be different in the future. It could be the most important thing that your team will do this week.

(ht: Mike)

Applying The Gospel To Everything

"In order to grow in Christlikeness, we’ve got to intentionally apply the gospel to everything we are and everything we long to do. We’re not to sever our obedience from [Christ's] perfect sinlessness nor disconnect our mortal life from his resurrected life. We’ve got to understand ourselves in the light of our new identity, seeing ourselves as we truly are: sinful and flawed, loved and welcomed. Only these gospel realities have enough power to engender faith, kill idolatry, produce character change, and motivate faithful obedience."
- Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me

I remember hearing years ago from pastor and teacher Jack Miller, that, as Christians, we need to "preach the gospel" to our hearts and lives every day. We don't graduate from the gospel. (Tweet This) The gospel isn't merely some set of propositional truths that we affirm in order to become Christians and then after that it carries no relevance. Rather the love and grace of the gospel is the reality that we must live in and let permeate in and through us every day.

If you are anything like me, I have short term memory loss. I easily forget. And I can forget at times that I am loved and fully accepted by Jesus. How is that possible? It becomes possible when I allow the stresses, failures and pressures of the day to overshadow Christ's love for me. It becomes possible when I choose to listen to the voices of the world and the enemy define me by their lies. That is why I must double down on the gospel. Through the Word, I need to press down into my heart that I am accepted and loved by Jesus, and that no circumstance, feeling or failure can change that fact.

In spite of how I may feel today or the circumstance that I may face, I must remember the truth of Paul's words to the Galatians.
Galatians 4:4-7 "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Tweet This) So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God."
Remember today who you are in Jesus. That your identity and acceptance is found in Him, defined by Him and secured in Him.

Would You Notice If Jesus Was Absent From Your Church?

In the book called Organic Church, by Neil Cole, Neil asks a very provocative question,
“Our churches should allow Jesus to be the leader on our team and set expectations accordingly. Someone might say, ‘Well of course we recognize Jesus is on board; it is assumed.’ But the real test is if you conduct ministry business expecting Jesus to carry the load - to carry the team. Or do you practice church as though Jesus doesn’t need to do anything, and everything is done for Him instead of by Him?”
Later in the book, Neil writes about this issue again,
“We must trust God to do His part. We must be willing to place ourselves in a position where, if He does not show up, we will be seen as complete fools. Most churches have not been willing to take that risk.”
So, if Jesus never showed up in your church or ministry, would anyone notice? (Tweet This)

Are you and your leaders willing to risk and lead in such a way that unless God is in it, your plans, goals and dreams are doomed to fail?

I understand that this is not an easy thing. We don't want to be foolish about our decisions...but we do need to be fools for Christ. What does this look like practically? Here are a couple of thoughts (in no particular order) that would help and guide a Church in placing themselves in a position to fail if Jesus doesn't show up.

Are you willing to make decisions in light of where God is leading, not necessarily having your budget be the sole arbiter of decisions you make.

Are you willing to confess your weakness and need for Christ and His strength to others? -  “My grace is sufficient for you, for [my] power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Are you willing to take times to wait at times for the Lord and not just push ahead with your agenda?

Are you looking to the wrong gifts and experiences for people to be in spiritual leadership. Instead of merely competent people within leadership, what about faithful people? What about broken and surrendered people?
"God’s idea of ministry training is a broken vessel. His idea of spiritual preparation is suffering, which includes rejection."
— Frank Viola (Tweet This)
Instead of requiring your pastor to be a CEO (in addition to many other things), perhaps you need to revisit and emphasize their responsibility in being a shepherd for the people of God. A shepherd that points us to Jesus.

Are Jesus' words merely just a motto or are they truly something you cling to - “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). (Tweet This)

Do you embrace failure in ministry or do you react by being worried, anxious and frantic?

Are you willing to trust God enough that Jesus is truly the Head of His Church in such a way that you are willing and have the freedom to let certain balls drop?

How much does do you and your church's leadership dedicate to prayer (and fasting)? How much of that time is proportionate to the time you spend in strategic planing and team meetings?

Any thoughts or questions you would add to this list?

6 Ways To Overcome The Dreaded Preaching Block

As Pastor, you've done a bunch of exegetical work for your Sunday sermon, yet you're still at a standstill with the overall focus and organization of your sermon. Now your sermon preparation morning is turning into afternoon. You've hit a roadblock. Your Wednesday has now become a Friday, and Sunday is now looming. Your sermon doesn't seem to gel and you feel stuck. How can you get unstuck? Here are a couple of things that have helped me over the years preparing sermons.

Pray Over Your Sermon: Praying should be a constant posture during your sermon prep. But there may be a time when you need to hit the pause button and pray. Ask the Lord for wisdom, ask him for a breakthrough. Tell God how you are honestly feeling about your sermon and your struggles. Also ask the Lord to reveal in you whether there is something in your life that is causing a roadblock (Ps. 139:23,24).

Work On The Sermon In A Public Place: Often times preparing my whole sermon locked up in my study makes the sermon feel too academic. This sermon that the Lord has called me to preach is going to be preached to people. Therefore I find working on a part of my sermon in a public place, like a coffee shop, gives me a good perspective in thinking through how to apply the Word of God to people...their real problems, fears, hopes and joys.

Take A Walk: Taking a walk through the woods, helps me clear my mind and reconnect with God. The great preacher and theologian Jonathan Edwards often found the same communication and clarity with God while walking in the woods. He shares with us the importance of these walks in his Personal Narrative:
I spent most of my time in thinking of divine things, year after year; often walking alone in the woods, and solitary places, for meditation, soliloquy, and prayer, and converse with God.
Read: Perhaps reading another perspective or commentary may help you see the sermon and text through a fresh lens and may open up some additional thoughts and insights.

Pause: Get away from your sermon for a while. Take a nap. Go exercise. Play.

Talk Out Your Sermon With Another Person: I am a verbal processor. If I try to articulate my sermon and thoughts to another person, it can sometimes help me bring clarity. Perhaps try to talk out your sermon, especially in it's raw form, with your spouse or another ministry leader in your church. Welcome their feedback, thoughts, comments and suggestions.

This Week's Ebook Deals!

Don't you wish your ebooks could have that classic book smell and feel? I often do. Yet then again, I do appreciate the great deals and portability that are available through ebooks these days. Here are some great deals, that you don't want to miss, because some of these deals will be ending soon.

Surprised by Suffering by R.C. Sproul—FREE
The Promises of God by RC Sproul—99¢
Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World—99¢
Broken Vows by John Greco—99¢
The Life, Teaching, and Legacy of Martin Luther by Andrew Lindsey—$3.99
Innocent Blood by John Ensor—99¢

But God by Casey Lute—99¢
Servanthood as Worship by Nate Palmer—99¢
Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue by Andreas K√∂stenberger—99¢
Bloodlines by John Piper—$1.99
What Is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert—$1.99
Transformational Discipleship by Geiger, Kelley and Nation—$1.99
The Heresy of Orthodoxy by Andreas K√∂stenberger and Michael Kruger—$1.99

Confronting Kingdom Challenges by Samuel T. Logan Jr.—$1.99
Why Cities Matter by Justin Buzzard and Stephen Um—$1.99
Political Thought by Hunter Baker—99¢
Glorious Ruin by Tullian Tchividjian—$2.99
King Solomon by Philip G. Ryken—99¢
Understanding English Bible Translation by Leland Ryken—99¢

Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell—$1.99
Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung—$1.99
Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes—$1.99
Raised? By Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson—$3.99
The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger & Greg Gilbert—$3.99
When I Don’t Desire God by John Piper—$1.99

God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas about Love, Intimacy, and Marriage by Daniel Akin—$2.99
Healing for a Broken World by Steve Monsma—$2.99
The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken—$2.99
To Live is Christ to Die is Gain by Matt Chandler and Jared Wilson—$2.99

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi—$3.99
PROOF by Daniel Montgomery & Timothy Paul Jones—$3.99
What’s Best Next by Matt Perman—$3.99
The God Who is There by D.A. Carson—$3.99

The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission by John Dickson—$3.99
The God I Don’t Understand by Christopher Wright—$3.99
Know the Heretics & Know the Creeds and Councils by Justin Holcomb—$3.99 each
Walking Like Jesus Did by Larry McCall—$3.99
Boring: Finding an Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life by Michael Kelley—$4.80

5 Ways Guaranteed To Become More Productive Every Day

We all want to be more productive, right? Yet for some reason our day gets away from us and we find ourselves scratching our heads wondering where did all the time go and what did I really accomplish during it? There is hope. You can be more productive and use your time more wisely. Here are a couple of "lifehacks" that can help move you into a more productive place in work and life.

Pretend Like You Are Going On Vacation

I seem to be the most productive when I know that I am going on vacation or leaving on a long trip. I know that time is at an essence and therefore I work more efficiently and focused.

David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, recommends applying that mentality to your work at the end of every week in order to help you be more productive:
Most people feel best about their work the week before their vacation, but it's not because of the vacation itself. What do you do the last week before you leave on a big trip? You clean up, close up, clarify, and renegotiate all your agreements with yourself and others. I just suggest that you do this weekly instead of yearly.
Take Short Breaks

It is a very good idea to take breaks during the workday in order to get more energy and become more productive. Here are some examples from this infographic below:

Energy Boosts at Work

Don't Check Email In The Morning

The choices you make in how you spend the first few minutes of your work day sets up the remainder of it. Ron Friedman on Harvard Business Review explains why we should spend the first 10 minutes of every morning performing a brief planning session:
What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at your desk? For many of us, checking email or listening to voice mail is practically automatic. In many ways, these are among the worst ways to start a day. Both activities hijack our focus and put us in a reactive mode, where other people’s priorities take center stage. They are the equivalent of entering a kitchen and looking for a spill to clean or a pot to scrub. A better approach is to begin your day with a brief planning session. 
Minimize Distractions

Although some of the distractions we face at work come from our coworkers coming uninvited into our workspace to talk or distract, many of the distractions we face throughout the workday are electronic. Our workday is filled with chimes, beeps, rings and bells. If you are going to be more productive you got to put boundaries around your gadgets and online life. Here are a few tips and tools.

  • Let calls go to voicemail. Don't answer calls. If it is important - it will go to voicemail and you can check it later.
  • Turn off email notifications - you don't need to know when every email enters your inbox.
  • Pause your email - - read your email in batches, only during certain times of the day.
  • Block your social media sites during work -
Avoid Multi-tasking

Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, says our obsession with multitasking is one of the culprits or our lack of productivity.
When we multitask, we don’t actually do things simultaneously; we switch back and forth between tasks. So, working on an email, while on a phone call, then responding to instant messages that pop up makes you feel far busier than you would be if you managed only one task at a time and gave it your full attention.
Focus on important projects alone...for 50 minute chunks at a time. Don't believe the lie that you can do 2, 3 or 4 things at once.


Just find a way to start that important project. Just like physics, an object in motion tends to stay in motion, therefore if you can get just a little motion it will propel you and move you forward. Try the 2-minute rule, which we posted about earlier HERE.

Please tell us what ways, tips or techniques you use to be more productive during the day?

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Justin Taylor outlines the ten reason's of why God allows suffering from Jared Wilson's book, Gospel Deeps.

In Jared's book he writes that “while we may not be satisfied with what God has revealed about his purposes in suffering, we cannot justifiably say he has not revealed anything about his purposes in suffering. We may not have the answer we are laboring for, but we do have a wealth of answers that lie in the same field.”

Here’s an outline of the reasons Jared identifies from God’s Word:
  • To remind us that the world is broken and groans for redemption [Rom. 8:20-23].
  • To do justice in response to Adam’s (and our) sin.
  • To remind us of the severity of the impact of Adam’s (and our) sin.
  • To keep us dependent on God [Heb. 12:6-7].
  • So that we will long more for heaven and less for the world.
  • To make us more like Christ, the suffering servant [Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 1:5, 4:11].
  • To awaken the lost to their need for God [Ps. 119:67, 71].
  • To make the bliss of heaven more sweet [Rom. 8:18; 1 Pet. 4:13; Ps. 126:5; Isa. 61:3].
  • So that Christ will get the glory in being our strength [John 9:3; 2 Cor. 4:7].
  • And so that, thereby, others see that he is our treasure, and not ourselves [2 Cor. 4:8-9].
(ht: Justin)

5 Keys To Effective Sermon Prep

excerpted from Chad Brooks

I remember when I first started preaching. There was no rhyme or reason to how I prepared. I just started typing with an empty document and hoped for the best. Later, I took a few notes from my Bible and started at least working with a basic idea in mind.

Over the last several years I have put a pretty good rhythm into place. These are five essential practices that I believe will help anyone’s sermon preparation.

1. Read. That’s it. You have to be reading. Read many different types of writing; articles, magazines, the newpaper and online. Read books related or unrelated to ministry. You will be surprised how much material you begin building up in your head.

2. Have a holding tank. Find a way to capture this information. I use Evernote and a Field Notes notebook. Between the two, I always have something with me. I organize Evernote with three folders to keep me moving forward and specific notebooks and folders for sermons I am researching/writing and preparing. 

3. Have a preaching calendar. This is the best way to stay ahead and make sure you are preaching the whole counsel of God. It also is a huge help to the folks who assist in worship.

4. Ask others. Asking other people what they need to hear from church and letting them in on the preparation and visioning part of sermon work will not only be a help to you, but teach others about the holy act of preaching and preparation.

5. Find/build and stick to a preparation rhythm. This is one of the hardest, but most rewarding practices. Learning to get this built into your weekly schedule will transform your sermon preparation. It will keep you on task and getting done early in the week (no one likes to write a sermon on Saturday).

The Reality Of Seminary Life - Infographic

from Greg Henson:

During the 2011-2012 academic year (the most recently completed academic year), 6,900 incoming students at 161 different schools within ATS completed the Entering Student Questionnaire.  Some of the results are reflected in this infographic provided below.

(ht: Greg Henson)

How To Care For Those We Lead

excerpted from Gilbert Kingsley:

I was sitting in an elders’ meeting recently listening to two counselors, also elders, share about caring for our people. They said, “The vast majority of peoples’ needs can be met by someone who cares.”

In other words, people that we may think need a counselor simply need to be in a caring community. They called this “soul care” and they described it this way using the acrostic LOVE.

L- Love
  • Go to where they are.
  • Are you curious about where those feelings come from?
  • Feelings reveal reality. Explore feelings.
  • Feelings are driven by perspective. Perspective is driven by beliefs.

O- Offer yourself
  • It’s easy to identify people by sin. But the New Testament refers to people as saints.
  • Requires vulnerability on our part.
  • Helping self-disclosure is healthy.

V- Validate
  • Most of us want to vindicate.
  • We need to be about valuing others.
  • People need to feel safe.
  • Asking questions. “Tell me more about…”
  • Do we want to fix them more than we want to know them?

E- Encourage
  • When we know the good, the bad and the ugly and still love them, that’s very encouraging to them.
How do you engage and care for those in your church community?

Snapchat Continues To Be Popular Among Millennials

Snapchat is now more popular than Twitter among U.S. millennials. A report, from comScore, finds that 32.9% of Americans aged 18-34 had installed the Snapchat app on their phones in June 2014, trailing only Facebook (75.6%) and Instagram (43.1%).

While the data says nothing about actual usage of social media apps, it does indicate that Snapchat's reach among young adults is remarkably high, especially when compared to a multi-billion dollar company such as Twitter.

Infographic: Snapchat More Popular Than Twitter Among Millennials | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

This trend is a significant challenge to those of us in youth, college and young adult ministry. How do you address and confront the popularity of this App among your youth and those in your church?  Do you even believe you should? I and manny others (see Adam McLane) would claim this is a dangerous App. In fact, it is an App that needs to be deleted from every phone.

Why? Because it's not an innocent App. It is built on the objective and promise that images can be sent without the fear of consequences - images just simply disappear. This promise opens people up to sending inappropriate and sexually explicit pics among each other.

But the truth is - those pics don't disappear. There are consequences from sending sexually explicit pictures and comments. There is no "real privacy" and anonymity with an App such as Snapchat.

How do you address Snapchat in your ministry context?

4 Tips For Memorizing God's Word

As followers of Christ, we need to hide God's Word in our heart - here are some great tips to help integrate memorization of the Word within our daily life.

excerpted from Gloria Furman and Crossway

1. Pray It
Are you faced with a situation that grieves you? Circumstances that frustrate you to no end? Things that make you feel like there’s no point to life? Seize the opportunity to pray through the Scripture that you have memorized. Pray the words that the Spirit divinely authored. You never know when those verses you have memorized will lead you to prayer, comfort you as you pray, and instruct you in your prayers as the Lord intended them to do.

2. Announce It
How many times have you had an opportunity to share the gospel and felt frustrated by a loss for words? When we memorize verses about the gospel, we will become better prepared to announce the gospel. Since faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ, we can take seemingly outlandish confidence that the verses we have memorized explicitly concerning the Good News (and other verses!) will be of unparalleled benefit to our hearers. Taking opportunities to announce the gospel as the Spirit leads also drives God’s Word deeper into our own hearts.

3. Sing It
Do you need to hear something that is “music to your soul”? There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that were written so God’s people could sing them. Some modern musicians have even put lots of other verses to music in really enjoyable arrangements. On one memorable day this year, God steadied my heart as I sang with my kids in the car, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name” (Ps. 86:11). Singing Scripture on different occasions is one more way that our circumstances can serve our Scripture memory.

4. Teach It
Scripture doesn’t “come alive” when it is skillfully taught because it already is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12). God’s Word is what makes us come alive! Dive deep into the study of the Bible and talk about what you’re learning with other women, and see how the God’s Word gets stamped indelibly on your own heart. When we take the passages we’ve memorized and explain them to others, defend them to skeptics, and talk about how we are applying them to our lives, the Word not only edifies those who listen, but it also works in us.

(ht: Crossway)

How To Increase Spiritual Fruit In A Digital World

Here is a presentation I highly recommend you watch.

excerpted from Kent Shaffer

In June 2014, I spoke at Biola Digital Conference about how can we increase spiritual fruit in a digital world. Biola University has been kind enough to make this video free for you. View it and my notes below.

How do we increase spiritual fruit in a digital world?

Now we could talk about…
  • The importance of branding, design, and first impressions.
  • Digital atmospherics and how to nudge users in the direction you want them to go.
  • Emerging technologies and what these shifts mean for the future of ministry.
  • Or even results-based strategy.
I’ve taught about that, but it guarantees nothing! And there are plenty of books and blogs and lectures that can teach you today’s leading strategies and best practices.

I’ve spent the past decade studying the ministry models and best practices of global Christianity. Reality is I could spend 50 more years and still hardly grasp the depth and complexity of 43,000 denominations spread across 196 countries.

But what I do know – what I am confident of is that there is one model – there is one approach – that is essential to increasing your spiritual fruit.
Abide in Christ. Pursue God’s wisdom. And obey.
I used to say there is no golden formula, but I disagree now. For years I watched mighty moves of God in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. And I marveled, what is it? What is it that makes them thrive? It is not their ministry models. It’s not their denominations. It is not their theologies. These movements transcend all of that. And then one day I realized it is their hunger and obedience!

There is an essential formula and it echoes throughout Scripture. There is an essential formula that should serve as the foundation of what we do.
Abide in Christ. Pursue God’s wisdom. And obey.
Abide in Christ, and you will flourish.
And out of the overflow of your relationship with Jesus, pursue the foolish wisdom of God.
And then simply obey His guidance to the best of your abilities.
Now this doesn’t throw talent and intelligence out the window. It is in that last step of obedience. We need to use our brains and our bodies for the Kingdom, too. But a relationship with Christ is a filter that removes our self-reliance, that removes the wisdom of the world, and leaves us with the wisdom of God if we’re willing to listen.

Read the entire notes from Church Relevance HERE

Are Teens Addicted To The Internet?

Here are some highlights from the infographic:

  • The average teen spends between 14 and 19 hours / week online. (those numbers may be on the low side)
  • 50% of students have 3 devices that can access the internet. 10% have five. Usually that breaks down to a family computer, a personal laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, and the TV / Gaming system. 
  • 62% of teens say that they need the internet to function on a daily basis.
Although it is almost impossible to avoid any degree of computer and internet use these days, the key for parents and youth leaders is to assess when normal usage has moved into addiction. Some things and signs to keep an eye out for that may signal addiction are...

Does you teen sleep with their smartphone? Or take their phone to the bathroom with them?

Is their internet use affecting or changing their mood? (usually in a detrimental way...depression, anxiety etc..)

Do they become anxious, angry or irritable when they are removed or don't have access to the internet? (or when they loose or misplace their smartphone)

Is their performance at school and grades suffering?

Is Online Giving Safe?

Given the ubiquitous nature of smartphones and devices, mobile and online giving must be an essential ingredient for any church and ministry in our day and age. In fact a company that we at MBP work closely with is PushPay. They are a great example of an online giving platform that allows donors a virtually frictionless mobile and web experience for giving.

Yet the question that many people may still have is security? Is it safe? Will my data and privacy be protected? The infographic below doesn't necessarily paint an optimistic picture, given the recent rash of data breaches and that 75% of people have had or will have in their lifetime their data compromised.

The security of your data (particularly online donations) has often times less to do with the companies that you and I entrust it to, but rather with the practices and safeguards that you and I choose to do (i.e. using complex and never recycled passwords).


Friends Are Free Gifts From God

God uses people in our life, such as friends, as signposts to showing us God's love for us. I love this quote by Henri Nouwen illustrating the importance and gift of have friends.
We need friends. Friends guide us, care for us, confront us in love, console us in times of pain. Although we speak of “making friends,” friends cannot be made. Friends are free gifts from God. But God gives us the friends we need when we need them if we fully trust in God’s love. 
Friends cannot replace God. They have limitations and weaknesses like we have. Their love is never faultless, never complete. But in their limitations they can be signposts on our journey towards the unlimited and unconditional love of God. Let’s enjoy the friends whom God has sent on our way.
- Henri Nouwen

Why Real Christians Are So Odd

from A. W. Tozer:

A real Christian is an odd number, anyway.
He feels supreme love for One whom he has never seen;
talks familiarly everyday to someone he cannot see;
expects to go to heaven on the virtue of another;
empties himself in order to be full;
admits he is wrong so he can be declared right;
goes down in order to get up;
is strongest when he is weakest;
richest when he is poorest;
happiest when he feels the worst.
He dies so he can live;
forsakes in order to have;
gives away so he can keep;
sees the invisible;
hears the inaudible;
and knows that which passeth knowledge.

The Church, Our Purpose And Our Mission

Here are a couple of choice excerpts from John Piper's book, Let the Nations Be Glad! This is a classic book on the role of mission within the church. A must read.
The most exhilarating thought in the world is that God’s inexorable purpose is to display His glory in the mission of the church is virtually the same as His purpose to give His people infinite delight. p. 33-4.
He (Paul) was gripped by the OT purpose of God to bless all the nations of the earth (Gal. 3:8) and the be praised by all the peoples (Rom. 15:11), and to send salvation to the end of the earth (Acts 13:47), and to make Abraham the father of many nations (Ro. 4:17), and to be understood in every group where He is not known (Ro. 15:21). . . . His aim was not to reach as many Gentile individuals as he could but to reach as many unreached peoples as he could. This was Paul’s specific missionary vision. p. 195.
God’s focus: the gospel proclaimed to all the people groups of the world. This focus “undercuts ethnocentric pride and puts all peoples back upon his free grace rather than any distinctive of their own” p. 217.
It’s a humbling thing to discover that God does not choose our people group because of any distinctives of worth, but rather that we might double our joy in him by being a means of bringing all the other groups into the same joy. Humility is the flip side of giving God all of the glory. Humility means reveling in his grace, not our goodness. In pressing us on to all the peoples God is pressing us further into the humblest and deepest experience of his grace, and weaning us more and more from our ingrained pride. In doing this he is preparing for himself a people - from all the peoples - who will be able to worship him with free and white-hot admiration. p. 218

The Science Of Stage Fright

from TED Ed:

Heart racing, palms sweating, labored breathing? No, you’re not having a heart attack -- it’s stage fright! If speaking in public makes you feel like you're fighting for your life, you're not alone. But the better you understand your body's reaction, the more likely you are to overcome it. Mikael Cho advises how to trick your brain and steal the show.

(ht: TED Ed)

4 Ways Church Discipline Demonstrates Love

from Jonathan Leeman’s book, Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus 

Here are 4 ways church discipline demonstrates love:

  1. Church discipline shows love for the individual, that he or she might be warned and brought to repentance.
  2. Church discipline shows love for the church, that weaker sheep might be protected.
  3. Church discipline shows love for the watching world, that it might see Christ’s transforming power.
  4. Church discipline shows love for Christ, that churches might uphold his holy name and obey him.

How To Turn First Impressions Into Lasting Connections

As we are on vacation during these next couple of days, Ministry Best Practices will be posting the "Best of" articles on different topics that have been some of the more popular posts over the years.

Today we look at creating memorable and "WOW" first impressions at your church. It has been said that the sermon begins in the parking lot. In other words what happens to a visitor (for better or for worse) before they even hear the sermon will make a lasting impression. An impression that will most likely determine whether they return or not.

Just the other day friends told me that during a visit to a new church, no one spoke to them during their entire visit. Truth is that they are unlikely to return, regardless of how great the sermon or the music was. This truth has far reaching implications. It means that what a guest sees (i.e. your website or goofy church sign) for the first time matters. It means that whether or not you are a welcoming church will really matter! The little and big details of how you treat and respond to visitors matters!

Enjoy a sampling of some of the best articles from Ministry Best Practices on how to best create "WOW" first impressions for your church every Sunday morning.

How To Create A Great First Impression

Remember This ONE Simple Thing!

5 Ways Your Church Can Improve A Visitor's Welcome

Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep

It's NOT All About You!

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. - Hebrews 13:2

Why It's Important To Laugh

As we are on vacation during these next couple of days, Ministry Best Practices will be posting the "Best of" articles on different topics that have been some of the more popular posts over the years.

Today we want to look at humor. Humor is an effective tool and device that can help you make or illustrate an important point. Also humor can provide the needed spoonful of sugar to help difficult medicine go down. To be able to laugh is a gift. At Ministry Best Practices we will often use humor, satire or parody to communicate. Here are some of the very best humorous posts from Ministry Best Practices.

Requests For Every Worship Pastor

When Churches Lie - REAL Church Postcards

Even More (Honest) Church Postcards

When I Forget To Tell My Wife That She Is In The Sermon

Hipster Pastor Name Generator

Humorous Church Names

Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.
- Bill Cosby

How To Speak With Passion & Purpose

As we are on vacation during these next couple of days, Ministry Best Practices will be posting the "Best of" articles on different topics that have been some of the more popular posts over the years.

Today we will be looking at how we communicate. Being able to communicate well is one of the most important skills within ministry. We are constantly communicating - particularly speaking. So how do you move past simply being a mediocre speaker to one that communicates well? Do you want to learn how to speak with clarity, purpose and passion? We trust these articles below from Ministry Best Practices will help you in the quest.

There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.- Dale Carnegie

How To Thrive Through The Weariness Of Ministry

As we are on vacation during these next couple of days, Ministry Best Practices will be posting the "Best of" articles on different topics that have been some of the more popular posts over the years.

Today we are going to look at the spiritual and emotional health of those in ministry. Why do so many pastors burnout out? How does the gospel and preaching it to our heart every day contribute to the spiritual health of those in ministry? May these articles and videos below encourage and bless your hungry and thirsty soul.

“Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could.” - NY Times

Ways You Can Use Technology Without It Using You

As we are on vacation during these next couple of days, Ministry Best Practices will be posting the "Best of" articles on different topics that have been some of the more popular posts over the years.

Today we are going to look at using and leveraging technology for ministry. What are the best ways and practices to engage with technology? How can you best use technology to become more productive all the while prevent becoming a slave to the tech at the same time? You can strike that balance, and these posts below will show you how.

“The underlying power in social media is not the technology. It’s the power that comes from human beings connecting from all around the globe. If the gospel message (or any message, for that matter) is transmitted along relational lines, churches can confidently head in the direction of social because of the volume of relationships it can facilitate.” 

How To Lead Others And Yourself Well

As we are on vacation during these next couple of days, Ministry Best Practices will be posting the "Best of" articles on different topics that have been some of the more popular posts over the years.

Today we are going to look at leadership. How can you more effectively lead those that God has entrusted to you? What are the challenges with leadership and how can you overcome them? We explore those issues that will help you become a high-impact leader.

“Leadership is not about titles, positions or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”
― John C. Maxwell

How To Cultivate Your Creative Juices

As we are on vacation during these next couple of days, Ministry Best Practices will be posting the "Best of" articles on different topics that have been some of the more popular posts over the years.

Today we are going to examine the issue of creativity. How do you get those creative juices going? What things can you do to be more creative in ministry? These posts will help you cultivate the creativity that you need and desire.

“Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up”
Pablo Picasso

How To Recruit & Lead Your Volunteers

As we are on vacation during these next couple of days, Ministry Best Practices will be posting the "Best of" articles on different topics that have been some of the more popular posts over the years.

Today we are going to focus on volunteers. How do you find and recruit them for your ministry? Once they are serving, how do you continue to motivate, encourage and lead them?

11 Ways To Empower Your Volunteers

How To Move Members Into Ministry

How To Get More Volunteers

How To Motivate Those Who Serve

3 Reasons For People To Volunteer

Do all you can for everyone who deserves your help. Don't tell your neighbor to come back tomorrow, if you can help today.  --Proverbs 3:27, 28 CEV