Churches Growing Young

I discovered this information listening to the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

Kara Powell and her team at the Fuller Youth Institute spent 10,000 hours collecting data from churches to find out what they were doing to reach young people. There were huge variants in background, from culture, to denomination, to ethnicities, and what they found were six core commitments that created healthy environments for young people to thrive.

Empathy. Churches who empathize understand the main questions that young people are asking and journey with them as they figure them out. There are three questions being asked:
Who am I?
Where do I fit?
What purpose do I make?

Jesus’ message. For younger people, Jesus is first and Christianity comes second. Jesus is magnetic. He’s a message, a person, and a context who can handle our biggest questions, including our doubt. Young people connect with that.

Keychain leadership. This is leadership that isn’t centralized control. Every leader has keys of authority of power and influence, and as young people are ready for them, leaders know how to hand the metaphorical “keys” to them.

Prioritize young people. From allocating a budget to speaking their language, churches doing well to reach younger audiences invest in them.

Focus on families. One of the best ways to reach young people is to equip their parents and partner with them.

You don’t need a big budget, and you don’t have to be perceived as “cool.” You can leverage your time, talents, and volunteers to serve, and any leader can get better at engaging young people, no matter how “old” they are.

Print This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post [ Episode 106 ] [ Churches Growing Young ]

Because of Jesus

This is a list of reminders of what we have and who we are because of Jesus:

Below, you’ll find Pastor Craig Groeschel’s personal declarations and many more ideas for Bible verses and truths you can use to renew your mind and fight back against negative thinking.

Pastor Craig’s Daily Declarations

  1. Jesus is first in my life. I exist to serve and glorify Him.
  2. I love my wife and will lay down my life to serve her.
  3. My children will love God and serve Him with their whole hearts. I will nurture, equip, train, and empower them to do more for His kingdom than they can imagine.
  4. I love people and believe the best about others.
  5. I am disciplined. Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me.
  6. I am growing closer to Jesus every day. Because of Christ, my family is closer, my body is stronger, my faith is deeper, my leadership is sharper.
  7. I am anointed, empowered, equipped and called to reach people far from God.
  8. I am creative, innovative, driven, focused, and blessed beyond measure—because the Holy Spirit dwells within me.
  9. I develop leaders. That’s not something I do. It’s who I am.
  10. My words, thoughts, and imaginations are under the power of Christ. I take all thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.
  11. I wake up with purpose, direction, and meaning every day of my life.
  12. Pain is my friend. I rejoice in suffering because Christ suffered for me.
  13. I bring my best and then some. It’s what I bring after I do my best that makes the difference.
  14. The world will be different and better because I served Jesus today.

Because of Jesus …

  1. I am a child of God. (Galatians 3:26)
  2. I am a spiritual contributor, not a spiritual consumer.
  3. I am alive. (Romans 6:11)
  4. I am a faith-filled, life-speaking, fully devoted follower of Christ.
  5. I am Christ’s ambassador. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
  6. I am a masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
  7. I am content in Christ alone.
  8. I am chosen. (Ephesians 1:4)
  9. I am determined to love God and people with everything I have.
  10. I am a child of God. (John 1:12-13)
  11. I am strengthened by God who upholds me, protects me, and defends me.
  12. I am joyful. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  13. I am gentle. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  14. I am not easily offended and will not hold onto bitterness.
  15. I am patient. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  16. I am faithful. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  17. I am self-controlled. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  18. I am kind. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  19. I am known—even before I was born. (Jeremiah 1:5)
  20. I am steady. (Psalm 91:1)
  21. I am not alone—God is with me.
  22. I am loved. (John 3:16)
  23. I am fierce in confidence and boldness because God is with me.
  24. I am free. (John 8:32)
  25. I am healed. (1 Peter 2:24)
  26. I am unashamed. (Romans 8:1)
  27. I am called and equipped to go after the righteous desires God puts in my heart.
  28. I am strong. (1 John 2:14)
  29. I am fearless. (Isaiah 43:5)
  30. I am secure. (John 10:28-29)
  31. I am not a people-pleaser because I answer to God first and seek to please Him.
  32. I am a new creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  33. I am not shaken. (Psalm 62:6)
  34. I am not stuck in worry because Jesus offers a peace this world cannot give.
  35. I am born again. (1 Peter 1:23)
  36. I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37)
  37. I am named by God, not labeled by man.
  38. I am the light of the world. (Matthew 5:14)
  39. I am mighty in His power. (Ephesians 6:10)
  40. I am the Church and I exist for the world. (1 Corinthians 12:27)

For Women

  1. I am the daughter of the King of all kings.
  2. Because of Jesus, I lack nothing.
  3. God has given me everything I need to do what He’s called me to do.
  4. I speak encouraging, life-giving words and build others up.
  5. The joy of the Lord is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)
  6. I will not compare myself to other women. God made us all beautifully unique.
  7. I will hold myself to God’s standards and measure myself with grace.
  8. I will love and laugh rather than fight and complain.
  9. I refuse to waste my life on meaningless things.
  10. I will act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. (Micah 6:8)
  11. Through Christ I am strong, gentle, fierce, and compassionate.
  12. I will fight the good fight for what matters most. (2 Timothy 4:7)

For Men

  1. I am the son of the King of all kings.
  2. I lay down my pride and selfishness, giving all glory to the one true God.
  3. I love my family like Christ loved the Church—giving Himself up for her.
  4. I fight for purity, guarding my eyes and heart from tempting situations.
  5. I seek friendships with other godly men to sharpen my perspective. (Proverbs 27:17)
  6. I wait for God to open the right doors and take action when He does.
  7. I’m not defined by my failures or successes.
  8. I finish what I start.
  9. I never give up!
  10. I will act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God. (Micah 6:8)
  11. Through Christ I am strong, gentle, fierce, and compassionate.
  12. I am a warrior! I stand firm, even when the pain is crippling because God is my strength.
  13. I will fight the good fight for what matters most. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Print This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post [ from pastor Craig Groeschel ]

How to Study the Bible

How to Study the Bible
A congregational tool, by Todd Wendorff

The goal of good Bible study is to learn what the Bible is saying and how it applies to your life.

  • “It is through applying the Word that God changes our lives.”
  • But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” – James 1:22 (NLT)

Use the guidelines in this article to study God’s word for yourself. Once you know the passage you want to study simply observe, interpret, and apply. These three steps will get the Word into your life.

  1. Observe the passage by asking the question: What do I see?”
  2. Interpret the passage by asking the question: “What does it mean?”
  3. Apply the passage by asking the question: “What do I do?”

Just answer the questions as you study your passage.

Select 3-10 verses dealing with the same topic. Think about why you want to study this passage.

All observations are valuable. Write them down. Use the following list of questions as a guide.

  • Who is writing or speaking and to whom?
  • What is the passage about?
  • What are the commands?
  • What are the promises or cause/effect relationships?
  • What are the repeated words and ideas?
  • What problems were the recipients facing?
  • Where does this take place?
  • When does this take place?
  • Why does the speaker or author say/write what he does?
  • What do I learn about God?
  • What do I learn about Jesus?
  • What do I learn about the Holy Spirit?
  • What do I learn about me (or mankind)?

Write out any additional observations or insights from the passage. This may include contrasts, lists, comparisons, etc.

This can most readily be identified from the commands and the repeated words and ideas in the passage. Often there will be one command in the passage with several motivations.

In one phrase sum up the main thought of the passage. Make sure your theme is large enough in scope to include all the author is saying in the passage. It’s often the biggest point that is being made. It often requires you to step back and look at the passage as a whole.

Put your answers in the form of an outline. Take your main theme and break down the passage into sub points under the theme. These sub points form principles of life and ministry. A principle is defined as a timeless lesson in the way God works or is doing things in the world.

To develop each principle (each point in your outline) you will want to EXPLAIN IT (interpretation), ILLUSTRATE IT (from the Bible or personal examples of how this principle worked out both positively and negatively) and APPLY IT (not every point will have specific application). You may want to do this on a separate sheet of paper.

For example, you may be studying Luke 10:38-42, the passage about Jesus visiting the home of Martha and Mary.

The passage is about choosing what is best for your spiritual life. The author is saying that sitting at the feet of Jesus is best. Now, how does each verse fit into the theme? This is where interpretation comes in.

  • Martha is distracted by busyness. Busyness robs from our spiritual life.
  • Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to Him. Sitting and listening to Jesus is always a priority in our spiritual lives. Jesus says make time to sit and listen.

To help you interpret the passage, answer like the ones listed below. Use as many or as few as you need to.

  • What are the meanings of the words?
  • What does the immediate context suggest? (preceding and succeeding verses)
  • What does the broader context suggest? (chapter and book)
  • What do other cross references suggest?
  • What is the cultural meaning? (What did it mean to those to whom it was originally addressed?)
  • What do commentaries suggest?

This is where you purpose to do what God has taught you through bible study. (James 1:21-25, Matthew 7:24-27). It is through applying the Word that God changes our lives.

Application does not happen by osmosis, but by intent. God enlightens us from the Word, we enact the application with our wills, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to carry out these choices. It is usually best to concentrate on applying one principle at a time. The goal of all application is to glorify God by becoming more like Jesus.

2 Timothy 3:16—”All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for:

  1. TEACHING: What did I learn?
  2. REPROOF: Where do I fall short? Why do I fall short?
  3. CORRECTION: What will I do about it?
  4. TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS: How can I make this principle a consistent part of my life?

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Copyright 2003 by Todd Wendorff [ from Christianity Today online ]

Reckless Generosity

In our world, we like to measure ourselves by comparing ourselves to others. We don’t like unchanging standards. We can always find somebody who is worse, greedier, further away from God’s standards. We can do this in many areas of life:

  • Generosity: We can say, “My heart’s generous. I want to be generous. I just don’t have very much money right now. Things are kind of tight. Someday, I’ll have more money and then I’ll help take care of people who are in need.” But for now, we go on spending every dime we have on ourselves.
  • Serving: We can say, “I’m really busy right now. I’d love to serve people who are in need, but I can’t fit it into my schedule. Maybe when I have more time and get on top of things, then I will serve.” But our schedule never seems to open up and serving never fits into our day planner. 
  • Reaching Out: We can say, “I’d love to form a relationship with somebody of a different ethnicity or culture. I really want to be part of God’s solution to breaking down the walls that divide us, but it involves taking risks, and I am not up for that. I will wait for someone else to reach out to me; then maybe I can respond instead of initiate.”

But time passes and the walls grow higher and higher. We can measure our lives by comparing ourselves with others, but God does not. He sets a standard that is radically different from the constantly changing world in which we live. We need to look to his Word and discover his standard and then ask him for the strength to grow in our devotion to live with the justice, righteousness, and compassion that marks the heart of God.

God says, “I will measure my people by the one standard that counts. It’s very simple. Are people hungry? Feed them. Are people sick? Help them. Are people oppressed? Stick up for them. Are the widows lonely? Visit them. Are there uneducated children? Teach them. Are people rejected because of the color of their skin? Befriend them.”

The widow of Zarephath fed Elijah even though she had but a handful of flour and a little oil in a jug. (1 Kings 17:7–24) In this story she is recklessly generous. She gives the last of what she has to Elijah.

We should all pause occasionally to ask if we are living with that kind of generous spirit. Maybe we have an abundance of oil and flour in our jars. Maybe we only have a little. Maybe we have a huge flour jar, or perhaps a very small one. No matter what we have, we can still learn to live with a generous spirit.

Here are some questions we might want to ask occasionally:

  • Am I being faithful with my tithe to God?
  • Am I being responsive to the needs of the poor?
  • Am I learning to take risks in giving that stretch my faith?
  • Am I giving in a way that is becoming a natural part of how I live?
  • Am I noticing God’s generous provision in my life and responding with a thankful heart?

Dallas Willard says the law of the kingdom is the law of inversion, where the last are first and the servants are the greatest. This is modeled in a striking way in the life of this widow. The weakest, most vulnerable person — an impoverished, pagan, Gentile widow — becomes the one whose generosity keeps the prophet Elijah alive.

If you were the widow in this story, how do you think you would have responded to Elijah’s request? What an amazing example for all of us!

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[ This is directly from Bible Gateway e-mail Devotion, 2017-01-12 ]

What We Need From Pastors

Today, I was reading Brian Dodd on Leadership. A good word for pastors…

We want our pastors to work on their craft, to be prepared, to think of new and creative ways to communicate the timeless message of Jesus Christ. But because of the over-abundance of pastoral talent and our access to it, we no longer need slickness and craftiness.

Here are a Few Things we Need:

  1. When you stand up on Sunday, we do not need you to impress us with your brilliance and insight. We just need to know you have been with alone with God and he has marked your life.
  2. We do not need a talk. We need you to have a message for us from the Ancient of Days addressing the issues we face at this point and time in human history.
  3. We need you to have calloused knees on our behalf.
  4. We need you to elevate the importance of the Bible. It is God’s Word on paper and we want to know what it says.
  5. We need you to preach the truth of Scripture, the virgin birth, the sinless life of Jesus, and Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.
  6. We need you to tell people there is a heaven and a hell and everyone will go to one or the other.
  7. We need you to challenge us to live righteous and holy lives.
  8. We need you to prioritize the pursuit of personal holiness over the pursuit of personal freedoms.
  9. We need you to be a picture of the desired destination at which you wish for us to arrive.
  10. We need you to put your relationship with God above all else and your family second.

Here are a Few Things we Need for You to Know:

  1. We need you to know how much we love and admire you.
  2. We need you to know how often we pray for you.
  3. We need you to know how much we appreciate the fact you could make far more money consulting or in corporate America but you choose to pastor sheep like us.
  4. We need you to know how much we look forward to hearing you each Sunday.
  5. We need you to know we have you and your family’s back.
  6. We need you to know we were glad you were there at our most defining moments – weddings, funerals, baptisms and baby dedications.
  7. We need you to know how sorry we are for saying stupid, uneducated, and ill-advised things we deeply regretted later on.
  8. We need you to know we should have paid you more.
  9. We need you to know that if you need anything, all you have to do is ask.
  10. We need you to know how glad we are you did not resign this past Monday but decided to come back for another Sunday.

Print This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post [ Brian Dodd on Leadership ]