January 2016

Christian Unity
Young and Old Can Still Worship Jesus Together
A healthy inter-generational church is one of the few places where young and old can come together and learn from each other.
Young and Old Can Still Worship Jesus Together

(This post has been updated from its initial publication. See the postscript.)

Last Sunday, a teenager named Skylar and a senior named Gene chatted in the hallway between services at our church. I secretly took this picture of them. (I got their permission to use it here.) ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
Ramps vs. Signs: Saying 'Yes' to Unexpected Ministry Opportunities
Churches on offense don't have to be offensive. We can meet people where they are while staying true to our message.
Ramps vs. Signs: Saying 'Yes' to Unexpected Ministry Opportunities
Image: drazz | Flickr

What are we afraid of?

So many churches and pastors act in fear and stay on defense when we should be acting in love and staying on offense.

I’m not saying that we need to be offensive. Quite the opposite.

A church on offense – a church that is aggressively offering ...

Continue Reading ...
The Church Needs More Creative Christians – And Better Critics
Every creative Christian has been criticized. We remember the creatives. We’ve forgotten the critics.
The Church Needs More Creative Christians – And Better Critics
Image: Mark Sebastian | Flickr

Some people love to put others down.

The church is full of them.

For instance, here are some titles of recent online posts:

  • ‘10 Serious Problems with (name of new Christian book)’
  • ‘The Problem with (preachers name)’
  • 'Christians Should Stop Reading (name of Christian blogger)’
Continue Reading ...
Small Church Ministry
How to Have a Church Where Money Is Never a Problem (For Real)
If your small church is struggling to survive, this might be the solution you're looking for. Hint: it's extreme, but it's not a fad.
How to Have a Church Where Money Is Never a Problem (For Real)
Image: Emergency Brake | Flickr

So many small churches exist in survival mode.

They struggle to meet the rent or mortgage. They struggle to pay the pastor. They struggle to stay alive.

Sometimes the battle for basic survival is so severe that very little ministry gets done, especially ministry outside the church ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
11 Ways to Protect Your Spirit from the Demands of Pastoral Ministry
Pastoral ministry can be hazardous to our spiritual health. But it doesn’t need to be.
11 Ways to Protect Your Spirit from the Demands of Pastoral Ministry
Image: Susana Fernandez | Flickr

Too many pastors are living in constant frustration, anger, depression and burnout. Many have given up. Many more who would give up if they could.

Whether our churches are growing, static, sick, healthy, big, small or any combination of those, Pastoral ministry is increasingly ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
5 Reasons to Stop Making Your Sermon Notes Rhyme
Instead of playing linguistic games, we need to produce better content. In a format that matches the way people listen, talk and live.
5 Reasons to Stop Making Your Sermon Notes Rhyme
Image: abhi | Flickr

If I could only give one piece of advice to seasoned pastors to help make our Sunday messages more effective for how people live and listen today, it would be this.

Stop making your sermon notes rhyme.

(If you want more than one idea, check out Why You Need to Change How You Preach ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
A Better Way to Invite People to Church – And to Jesus
Attending church for the first time is hard. But we can make it easier for people if we do this one thing.
A Better Way to Invite People to Church – And to Jesus
Image: Metropolico.org | Flickr

People who don't go to church don't want to go to church.

For folks like me, who love going to church, that's hard to wrap our heads and hearts around. Because of that, we sometimes get our priorities mixed up.

When people get to know Jesus, church attendance is a ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
Are We More Invested In Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus?
Church attendance should be a tool to help people draw closer to Jesus. Not the other way around.
Are We More Invested In Bringing People to Church? Or to Jesus?
Image: R/DV/RS | Flickr

I have a confession to make.

As a pastor, I have too much invested in getting people to attend church.

My salary depends on it.

My reputation depends on it.

My sense of self-worth depends on it.

All to a much larger degree than I'm comfortable with.

And I'm not alone.

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
Tired of the Show: Why the Church Can't (and Shouldn't) Compete with Hollywood
No one is leaving church because we're not putting on a good enough show. They're looking for something else entirely.
Tired of the Show: Why the Church Can't (and Shouldn't) Compete with Hollywood
Image: Blondinrikard Fröberg | Flickr

What are people looking for in a church?

Pastors ask this question regularly – and we should. But too often, I think we miss the mark entirely.

Recently, I was with a group of ministers sharing new ideas. Much of our discussion centered on issues like the quality and volume ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
The 3-2-1 System for Better Annual Small Church Planning
Annual planning is harder in a small church, but that doesn't mean it's not possible. Or important.
The 3-2-1 System for Better Annual Small Church Planning
Image: Dafne Cholet| Flickr

Lack of planning is a big reason so many small church pastors feel worn out. And why so many healthy small churches feel stuck.

Some of the advantages of annual church planning include:

  • Better preparation for events
  • More time to think and pray about Sunday sermons
  • Better use of volunteer time
Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
I Ran a Successful Business, Why Can't I Run a Successful Church? (6 Reasons)
Successful businesses and successful churches have some similarities. But they have far more differences.
I Ran a Successful Business, Why Can't I Run a Successful Church? (6 Reasons)
Image: Anka Albrecht | Flickr

Much of today's ministry training takes its lead from businesses.

Maybe businesses should be taking their lead from pastors.

Many successful businesspeople have flamed out trying to plant or pastor a church. Some left a successful business for full-time ministry, only to burn ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
Transition Without Relocation: 8 Steps to Stay Fresh In a Long-Term Pastorate
A pastor who stops learning, stops leading. And a pastor who stops leading, stops pastoring. Even if they stay on the job.
Transition Without Relocation: 8 Steps to Stay Fresh In a Long-Term Pastorate
Image: Seth Vidal | Flickr

Only Jesus can make a church great. But he allows us to participate in that process.

Behind every great church, large or small, is at least one pastor who stayed long enough to outlast the bad times and build on the good times.

It is the most common thread for great churches. ...

Continue Reading ...
Small Church Ministry
5 Reasons Annual Planning Is Harder In a Small Church
Most small church pastors want to be better planners. But where are the resources for how to plan better in a small church context?
5 Reasons Annual Planning Is Harder In a Small Church
Image: r. nial bradshaw | Flickr

It’s January.

In the big church down the street, this year’s plans were drawn up many months ago. The January sermon series has been running promos for weeks so they can take advantage of the huge Christmas attendance bubble. The annual budget was approved months ...

Continue Reading ...

Read More from Karl

Follow Christianity Today

Free Newsletters

More Newsletters ...