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Matthew 7:12

Bible Gateway - 23 hours 41 min ago
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

In Defense Of Longer (And Better) Sermons

Christian News - Fri, 18/01/2019 - 10:47am

How long should a sermon be? As long as it needs to be.

People don’t hate long sermons.

They hate boring sermons. Irrelevant sermons. Impractical sermons. Uninspiring sermons. Unprepared sermons. Over-prepared sermons… You get the idea.

A bad sermon can’t be short enough, but an engaging sermon can go longer than you think.

However, before you let your next sermon drone on and on, make sure it’s everything it needs to be.

A Tale Of Two Sermons

Recently, I heard two sermons that went well over 45 minutes each. Both were good. They had great content and I was moved by them.

One of them, while good, would have been even better with some editing. The speaker could have dropped up to 50 percent of it and a very good sermon could have been a great one. The other sermon, though long, felt rushed. It could have gone 10-15 minutes longer and no one in the room would have complained.

The issue wasn’t the length, or even the quality of the sermons, but the fit. One sermon was the right fit for the content and left us wanting more, while the other was too long for the content and left us wanting less.

A better question than “what’s the right length for a sermon?” is “what’s the right length for this sermon?” or “what length of time will help it do everything it needs to do in the best possible way?”

Make Room For What Needs To Be Said

Too often, we limit what we can do with a sermon by the format of the church service.

Why not give the sermon the time it needs by putting a little wiggle room in our Sunday service format?

Got a short sermon? Let the worship go longer. Got a long sermon? Maybe get to it earlier in the service than you usually would so the worship and announcements don’t crowd it out.

People have longer ...

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1 Corinthians 10:13

Bible Gateway - Fri, 18/01/2019 - 12:00am
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

How to Lead Well as a Church Planting Leader

Christian News - Thu, 17/01/2019 - 4:47pm

Three tips from my own experience as a church planting leader.

Many frequently joke about the turnover rate in church planting leadership. It seems that whenever I’m at a conference or church event, someone new will come up and say, “Hey, Ed. I’m the new leader of church planting at [insert denomination name].”

To be fair, this issue happens across denominations—it’s not just certain ones in certain parts of the country. It happens at the district, network, and denominational levels.

Church planting requires a certain set of skills—organization, initiative, patience, and passion, just to name a few. These skills are especially required for a church planting leader. To last long term in this capacity without burnout requires some forethought and consideration. Here are some thoughts on how to lead well in this position

First, dedicate yourself to being an advocate.

As a leader of church planting, it’s important to remember that you are not actually a church planter; the roles are different. You aren’t the official doer of all things church planting—you are, by definition, the one who helps organize and oversee the work being done by church planters out on the field.

Church planting leaders who enter into the territory of their church planters in a micromanaging sort of way ultimately undermine their own authority at one time or another. Simply put, if you find yourself frequently saying to the church planters you oversee, “this is what you should do” or “this is how I did it” and “this is how I’m going to do it,” know that this approach is unhelpful in the long term.

For many who work under the leadership of a denomination, your advocacy has to be directed upwards. It’s your job to work ...

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Philippians 2:14-16

Bible Gateway - Thu, 17/01/2019 - 12:00am
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

Galatians 5:16

Bible Gateway - Wed, 16/01/2019 - 12:00am
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

John 8:31-32

Bible Gateway - Tue, 15/01/2019 - 12:00am
“[Dispute Over Whose Children Jesus’ Opponents Are] To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.””

Why Current Church Trends Mean Very Little In Smaller Churches

Christian News - Mon, 14/01/2019 - 7:45am

Small church ministry isn’t about following trends, it’s about knowing people.

In a couple recent articles, I wrote about current trends in church worship music. (You can read them here and here.)

If you worship or serve in a smaller church, you may have read those articles and shrugged, or maybe you saw the titles and didn’t even bother to read them.

I don’t blame you.

While our brothers and sisters in bigger churches look for trends, compare notes and learn from the latest innovations, small churches usually let those trends pass us by without a ripple.

It’s not because small churches don’t care, it’s because current trends almost never apply in smaller churches the way they do in bigger ones.

Here’s why.

The Unique DNA Of The Small Church

The smaller the church is, the more unique their DNA is.

Especially in a church of 75 or fewer (that’s over half the churches), the mix of personalities makes every church a unique place.

The bigger the church becomes, the less each individual personality affects the whole, so it becomes more helpful to know the latest trends. Not necessarily to keep up with them, but to have the ability to speak into them.

But when a church is small, it isn’t nearly as important to know the latest trends as it is to know the individual people in your congregation and your surrounding neighborhood. To know their needs, their histories, their strengths, their personalities and their relationship with Jesus (or lack of).

Knowing People, Not Trends

If you pastor a church of 50 in an agricultural community, you don’t need to use the latest social media app. If you oversee a small denominational church in a once thriving, but now dying inner city, you don’t need to study blogs about the latest church trends.

In both situations, you need ...

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1 John 4:20-21

Bible Gateway - Mon, 14/01/2019 - 12:00am
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

2 Corinthians 5:19-20

Bible Gateway - Sun, 13/01/2019 - 12:00am
“that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

Galatians 3:26-28

Bible Gateway - Sat, 12/01/2019 - 12:00am
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 118:5-6

Bible Gateway - Fri, 11/01/2019 - 12:00am
“When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

1 Peter 1:15-16

Bible Gateway - Thu, 10/01/2019 - 12:00am
“But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.””

CT Women’s Top 10 Articles of 2018

Christian News - Wed, 09/01/2019 - 4:43pm

Why being ‘spiritual’ is never enough, how Kate Bowler experienced Christ in her cancer, and 10 lessons from same-sex abuse inside the church.

Read CT Women’s most-read articles of 2018, ranked in order of which ones our online readers engaged most.

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Matthew 6:19-21

Bible Gateway - Wed, 09/01/2019 - 12:00am
“[Treasures in Heaven] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Amos 5:14-15

Bible Gateway - Tue, 08/01/2019 - 12:00am
“Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.”

What Will I Preach This Sunday?! 6 Tools for Overcoming Preacher’s Block

Christian News - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 10:41am

Simple steps to help you prepare better, preach stronger and have a greater impact.

One of the greatest challenges of pastoring is coming up with something fresh to say to the same people week after week.

As a pastor, I’ve been preaching for over 30 years. Over 4,000 messages. For many years I would regularly run out of things to say – or, more accurately, new ways to reinforce the same foundational truths - but Sunday was coming whether I was ready or not.

If you’re the preaching/teaching pastor, you know the feeling. The Saturday Night Dread. The “what am I going to say this week that they haven’t all heard 100 times before?” panic.

It still happens to me occasionally, but it doesn’t happen as much as it used to, because over the last three decades I’ve learned a few tools that reduce the pressure and make Preacher’s Block a little less frequent.

What To Talk About?

The main issue in Preacher’s Block is coming up with a subject. An idea valid enough to be worth saying, but fresh enough to keep people’s interest.

That’s easy when the audience is new. Or when you’re new to them. But when you’ve been at the same church for years, even decades, you can’t keep saying what you’ve said before – even (especially) if you’re reinforcing the same foundational Bible principles you’ve taught dozens of times.

Over the decades I’ve discovered a handful of tools that help in this task. They’re not the “right” way to preach and/or prepare. They’re some tools that work for me. And maybe they’ll help you, too.

1. Preach In A Series

Yeah, I know. This is not exactly a new idea. But of all the ways to reduce the “what am I going to preach about?” panic, this is the best one, ...

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Ephesians 5:1-2

Bible Gateway - Mon, 07/01/2019 - 12:00am
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

1 Peter 1:13

Bible Gateway - Sun, 06/01/2019 - 12:00am
“[Be Holy] Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.”

Isaiah 1:16-17

Bible Gateway - Sat, 05/01/2019 - 12:00am
“Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”


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