Life

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Giving to Receive Defeats the Purpose of the Passion

Overhearing other people’s conversations can be dangerous! I stood in our church office and overheard someone talking about our benevolence giving.

“But is it reaping a return? Do any of these people ever come back and be part of the church?”

That short moment of eavesdropping changed how I view life and church. Do you give in order to receive?

We are all guilty of it. We work hard all week, but if all we get are negative reviews, we feel cheated and let down; or we stay with a family because it is our job, and hope that when this crisis is over they will become stalwart members of the congregation. We give to a woman in need and then feel let down when she doesn’t bring her kids on Sunday. read more

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Strong Stewardship Eliminates Excess, Motivates Generosity

It was a frank conversation about money with other leaders at our church. We tackled what most of middle-class America considers a taboo subject and faced some hard truths. As a result, I was awakened to my habits and how they influenced the financial situation of our closest friends.

For example, in our community of friends, eating out had become our cultural gathering point—church and then lunch. It had become our Sunday ritual. We love to eat together. Unfortunately, this ritual was causing friends to increase their personal indebtedness to credit card companies.

How did we get to this point in our habits? read more

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5 Ways to Create a Secure Children's Ministry Environment

With the spate of national tragedies in the last few months, all parents are asking, “Is this a safe place for our kids?” That includes churches. As children’s ministry leaders, we’re charged to take our role as both physical and spiritual guardians very seriously, and we should do everything we reasonably can to make our ministry environments a safe place for kids to be. It’s too important to “wing it” or think that the chances of something happening are slim.

Ask yourself and your team: Where are the weak spots in our ministry? Where are the places that need to be shored up to keep kids, families and volunteers secure and safe? read more

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Empowering Student Volunteers for Effective Ministry

I was watching my friend Parker the other night. He is an incredible student leader and a talented young man.

He was working lights at our Saturday night service during our "You Own the Weekend" series. He was killing it, super passionate, incredibly creative—even his parents came to see his work!

I looked around the room and was so happy—adults were around talking to students and generally keeping order—but in most cases, students were serving in a ton of areas.

Got me thinking—when did this happen? I can think of a time not too long ago when we didn’t have students serving in any significant way. When did students really start serving at our services like this? When did Parker move from attendee to ingenious lighting guy extraordinaire? read more

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Check Your Ministry Team’s Spiritual Compass

When I was learning to drive, I lived in the country. Roads were narrow, one lane in each direction.

One of the first things you learn when driving in tight quarters is to keep your eye on the right edge of the road. The problem is that you tend to steer where you are looking. If your eyes are on the headlights coming at you, chances are high that you will steer your car right into the oncoming traffic.

What does this have to do with church leadership? What your leadership team focuses on and where you spend your energy will impact your entire congregation. read more

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Dan Reiland: Are You Believing God for Miracles?

Every summer my family and I read a book together. We’ve been doing this through the kids' teen years, and now even in their college years. Last summer we read Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker. What a great book on prayer!

Our summer book discussions are a simple but meaningful experience for us. We eat dinner together, then discuss a chapter or two of the book. That’s it! But what a cool time! I’m always amazed at the insights, comments and questions that come from our conversations.

This article isn’t about Mark’s book, it’s about prayer, but I want to say what makes this book different to me. There are so many good books on prayer, and in the end, they all say the same thing. Pray. And that’s good. But this book seems to inspire people to pray, and there is no price tag you can put on that. When the Holy Spirit is at work, He is at work! read more

Gina-McClain

Student Volunteers Make Awesome Workers

We’ve got some incredible student volunteers in our ministry. Students as young as sixth grade, all the way up to seniors in high school, are critical members of our kids' ministry team. We wouldn’t be as strong without them.

And when I have an audience with my student volunteers, there are three things I want them to remember:

1. Be present. I mean, really be present with the kids. Get eye level with them, smile and let them know that you want to hear all that they have to say. Play with them, ask about their dog and tell them about yours. There is a big difference between you and me. I remind these kids of their mom. You are like the big brother/sister who actually plays with them. This is your chance to be someone’s hero. So have some fun. read more

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Avoid Indignance Toward Children's Ministry

Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to more than 400 Filipino children's ministry pastors, coordinators and volunteers at our annual Victory National Kids Ministry Summit. The delegates came to Island Cove from fifty Philippine cities, plus Singapore, Cambodia and Dubai.

My topic was the “why” of kids ministry. I told some stories, read some Bible verses, and asked four questions. Here are the Bible verses and questions:

Are we bringing kids to church or to Jesus? Getting kids to church is a good start, but it is only a start. The goal is to get them to Jesus. Let’s not be like the disciples in Mark 10:13 who completely missed the point: "People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them" (NIV). read more

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How Are Children of Church Planters Affected?

As our church ramps up to plant a church a year for the next several years, I’ve had conversations with five of my key guys about becoming church planters. Church planting is one of the most challenging sub-categories of pastoral ministry.

One of my guys confessed recently, “I’m struggling with this potential call. I don’t know if I’m willing for my son to grow up hating the church.”

His statement took me back to dozens of pastoral nightmare stories of pastors' kids (PKs) who have walked away from God and the church because they felt forgotten and forsaken by parents who loved the church more than they loved their children. read more

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Dan Reiland: Are Good Leaders Happy?

I was out for a run for the first time in months. A “runner’s injury" to my right foot has been slow in healing. It was great to be off the exercise bike and back outside!

While I was out, another runner passed by me in the other direction and greeted me with a cheery “Hey, keep going!” and a big smile. It was a lifting moment and brought a smile to my face. The next runner passed by within inches of me. I offered a cheerful “Hey!” and he never looked up. The difference was staggering.

That moment was a fresh reminder of how much I appreciate people with a positive and cheerful spirit. They bring life! Others steal life. Both options can take place in a moment. read more

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7 Reasons to Start a Pastors’ Roundtable Retreat

I spent three days recently at a cabin with five other pastors, holding what we call a roundtable.

I’m from California. We met in Illinois, where there was a blizzard one day and the temperature hit minus 7 degrees one night. I didn’t care. What we were doing was so important, we didn’t need to go outside. We do this every year. We plan to continue doing it until our last days of ministry.

Here’s why I’m involved in a roundtable:

1. These guys inspire me. They’re my friends, all are pastors, and seeing how they live out their commitment to God inspires me. There aren’t too many people who do what we do. One of the guys lost his wife and best friend to cancer in the same year. Another adopted and is raising four high-risk children. A third runs triathlons. All of them are devoted to their wives and to walking in close quarters with Christ. During dark seasons in my ministry, I think of them and it boosts my determination to keep going. read more

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Chris Wesley: How To Build Youth Ministry Endurance

This past weekend, thousands of youth ministers participated in the Simply Youth Ministry Conference. As a participant in the past few, I know that feelings of empowerment and encouragement are flowing through this year's attendees' minds and souls.

The reason these conferences can be such a powerful experience is because of the camaraderie and the opportunity to take a youth ministry “time out”.

The problem with a conference like Simply Youth Ministry is that it’s only a weekend. After a weekend of euphoria you are forced to go home and face:

  • That hurting teen
  • A pastor you clash with
  • An angry parent
  • A semi-committed ministry team read more
Kim Martinez 2

Relationship Health: Celebrate Our Differences

Our church was in the middle of a building project, and the new sanctuary was almost done. On Sunday morning I overheard a board member: “We should never have given her (the pastor’s wife) the authority to pick out the color. That isn’t white. It’s pink!”

This was my first building project, but it wasn’t my last. There is something about aesthetics that brings out the best and the worst in us. Whether it is the color of the carpet, the style of the pew, the genre of the artwork or angle of the lighting; for every decision there is a myriad of opinions. How can you stay positive when people are lined up on all sides, ready to shoot?

Paul exhorted the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord. When trials, troubles and disagreements come, we have to make a choice to focus on the positive. Disagreement isn’t the problem. read more

Kim Martinez 2

Relationship Health: How to Build Team Respect

God has given you a fantastic team at work. Your team might be small—family members, or a few volunteers. Maybe you are blessed to serve at a church large enough to afford a full staff. Regardless, God has given you a team. Even if you have to search to find them, they are there.

People are unique. If they were all the same, we could just give each one a function and expect amazing results. Instead, personalities get in the way. This person brings the fun, that person is very concerned about details … and each thinks the other is … annoying.

Your job is to help these people become who God created them to be and to help them gel as a team. How can you make the most of this fantastic resource and help these dedicated people reach their full potential? read more

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Jack Hayford: Why and How We Worship

“To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6, NKJV).

Over the years I have sought to teach people both why we worship and how to worship. Worship has often been misunderstood as the musical prelude to the sermon, rather than the means by which we, as the people of God, invite the dominion of His kingdom to be established on earth.

Psalm 22:3 says that the King of kings is literally “enthroned” in our praises. Wherever God’s people come together to worship, and where that happens, all the weight of His glory, His rulership, and His dominion are present. read more

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Learn to Have A Vibrant Christian Life

Life in the Spirit is anything but dull. Learn how obedience to the voice of God is your passport to a vibrant Christian experience.

One of the most exciting aspects of the Spirit-filled life is the fact that we can have adventures in God that reveal to those around us His supernatural nature. In the coming days, I believe many of you are going to begin to flow in signs and great and mighty wonders.

Some of you will be stirred to do even greater things than others have accomplished in the past through the name of Jesus. Often God works this way—doing greater things as each new generation comes along.

During the late 1970s and 1980s, I pored over books written about the great men and women of faith. As I read, I prayed, "Lord, I want to do these things and greater." Often I would get down on my knees and weep, crying out to the Lord for revival and the harvest among the nations. read more

Inside-the-box

At Times, Think Inside the Box

For many youth workers, a big part of their job description seems to include “Think outside the box on a regular basis”… constantly coming up with new ideas and innovative programs that are bigger and better than last year, last week, and last night.

And while there is certainly a place for risk-taking and improvement in each new season, sometimes what you really need is tried-and-true, solid stuff. Stuff that is actually totally inside the box!”

Ask yourself these questions as you look at planning the season ahead: read more

LaDonna-TL-Osborn

A Daughter's Tribute to T.L. Osborn

My much-loved father, Dr. T.L. Osborn, the man known around the world as "The Father of the Gospel" entered his eternal rest on Thursday, Feb. 14. He was in no pain and had no sickness. The Lord simply took away his breath.

My father was wrapped in love, his family surrounding him as he stepped through the veil into eternity. He is now in the presence of Jesus, whom he had served faithfully for 77 years. We can only imagine the sweet reunion between him and his beloved Daisy, three of his children, a granddaughter and a celebrating host of believers who are among the redeemed because of my father's ministry during more than 65 years to every corner of the earth. He was in his 90th year, having passed his 89th birthday on Dec. 23.  read more

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God Designed Life to Share

Last Monday I walked by this secluded beach in Ko Olina in Hawaii. Without the clean soft breeze, the chirping birds, the sound of waves splashing on the rocks, and the scent of the blue ocean … pictures like these are … well … just pictures.

No matter how beautiful this spot was it is of little value because I had no one to share it with. The Bible is indeed correct when it declares, “it is not good for man to be alone.”

It’s funny how we work ourselves to death and take for granted what actually matters, our closest relationships. I could only wish Marie was with me at that particular moment. Life is meant for sharing.

Life is composed of multiple moments that are here for a while and then are gone. Makes you think of how important each moment we have with the people we love have to be maximized and taken advantage of. Life is meant for sharing. read more

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Rick Warren: Church Family a Lab for Love

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27, NLT)

A church family moves you out of self-centered isolation. The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish love.

As a participating member, you learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor” (1 Cor. 12:26 NCV).

Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the New Testament truth of being connected with and dependent on each other. read more

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