Innovative Ministry
How Can You Tell If A Church Is On Offense Or Defense?
Churches on defense talk about the glory days of the past. Churches on offense maintain a strong hope for the future.
How Can You Tell If A Church Is On Offense Or Defense?

There are two types of churches.

Those on offense and those on defense.

In recent years, I’ve been in hundreds of rooms with thousands of pastors from both types of churches.

Churches on offense are not different from churches on defense in any external way.

They and their ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
6 Ways To Use PowerPoint (Yes, PowerPoint!) To Help Your Audience Become Better Listeners
The most powerful communication tool is not the image on the screen. It’s your ability to connect with the audience.
6 Ways To Use PowerPoint (Yes, PowerPoint!) To Help Your Audience Become Better Listeners
Image: Shelley Vaters

Are there any two words more likely to send an audience running for the exits than “PowerPoint presentation?”

That’s why, even though I use PowerPoint almost every time I speak, I don’t do PowerPoint presentations.

I teach. I preach. I talk. I illustrate. ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
One Simple Step To Create A Year-End Giving Bump In Your Church
This is a great way to thank everyone for their generosity, while providing a helpful reminder to make up for any unintentional shortfall for the year.

A lot of churches get a nice year-end bump in their finances.

During the Christmas season even casual attenders come to church more often, churches hold annual events like Christmas Bazaars that bring in funds, and the week of Christmas often attracts huge crowds – and ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Growth
If There’s No Church Growth Guarantee, Does It Even Matter What We Do?
Like saying “please,” using church growth principles makes church growth possible, not inevitable.

There’s nothing anyone can do to guarantee that any particular congregation will grow numerically.

No, I’m not being pessimistic, I’m being realistic.

There are simply no absolutes in church growth. At least not for the numerical increase of an individual congregation. ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Growth
Your Results May Vary
In church growth, as in everything, we can’t take our lead from the best examples, but from typical results.

You know those commercials where clients or patients had amazing results, only to hear a hurried voice at the end telling you “individual results may vary”?

It might be helpful if church growth books, blogs, podcasts and conferences had that, too.

The reason those ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
Be The Church Or Make Way For Something Else
Christ is not found in our institutions, he is found in the church. In people who love Jesus, love each other and gather together regularly.

Why does the church exist?

It’s not to get people together for meetings. Or to keep our theology pure. Or to defend our traditions. Or to look cool and appealing to the unchurched.

But it’s easy to fall into one or more of those traps if we’re not constantly ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
What Is Appropriate To Wear In Church? (2 Reasons It Doesn't Matter And 3 Guidelines)
Wear what helps you think more about Jesus and less about yourself – and what will help others do the same.


Is this still a thing? People aren’t still arguing about what we wear to church, are they?

Yes. Despite the much more relaxed approach most people have, the debate about appropriate church attire still rages in some circles. So I’m going to weigh in on it.

Where ...

Continue Reading ...
Innovative Ministry
Narrow Your Focus, Widen Your Scope, And Increase Your Ministry Effectiveness
Discovery takes place in the hinterlands, where we don’t feel comfortable and things can get a little scary.

Oh, the funnel.

That simple, but immensely valuable piece of human engineering.

With it, you can take massive amounts of material, data or (using the visual funnel we call a lens) visual information and channel it in a way that makes it so much more valuable than when it was random, ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
No, Pastor, We’re Not Always Right
More pastors get in trouble through pride and arrogance than maybe all other character deficits combined.

Pastors have a special place in my heart.

My father was a pastor, as was his father. And I have been in active pastoral ministry all my adult life – for almost 40 years, now.

One of the most important lessons I have learned in all those decades is that there’s nothing ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
Quit Trying To Become A Great Preacher
Becoming a great preacher is about me. Preaching more effectively is about Jesus.
Quit Trying To Become A Great Preacher
Image: Nycholas Souza | Unsplask

Effective communication is a passion of mine. But when we speak in front of people on a regular basis it’s easy to lose sight of why we’re doing it.

How many pastors have found themselves deep in the weeds in sermon prep, trying to find just the right illustration, ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
Whatever Happened To Churches Meeting Felt Needs? – And What Should Replace It?
Meeting needs is a big part of the church’s mandate. But meeting "felt” needs has always been a slippery slope.

If you were in seminary or in active pastoral ministry in the 1990s and 2000s you probably remember what the big trend in pastoral training was.

Felt needs.

Back then it seemed like every church leadership book, article and conference was telling pastors that the way to reach ...

Continue Reading ...
Church Leadership
How To Start Training Your Church Leaders To Become Equippers, Not Just Doers
A simple, practical first step to help you or your team start building a team.

As pastors, we have a solemn obligation to equip church members to do ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Instead, too many pastors burn out because the pastor and the church members expect the pastor to do most or all of the ministry for them.

Making the transition from the doer of ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
5 Terms Christians Need To Stop Misusing
The way we’ve been using these terms causes confusion for newcomers, nonbelievers and even for long-time Christians.

The mission comes first.


Ahead of my ideas, my preferences and my well-worn, dearly-loved terminology.

Because of that, whenever an extra-biblical idea or turn of phrase is anything but clear in the way it advances the message, we need to find and use a better manner of ...

Continue Reading ...
Christian Unity
If We Can Worship Anywhere, Why Go To Church?
It doesn't just matter that we worship Jesus. It matters that we worship him with other people.

I don’t go to church to worship Jesus.

Hear me out. It’s not as bad as it sounds.

Anyone can worship Jesus anywhere, at any time.

We don’t need a special building, a special day or a special time to do it. We don’t come into the presence of God when we enter ...

Continue Reading ...
Church & Culture
Faithfulness: God's Goals + Ordinary Actions = Extraordinary Results
It’s great to dream big dreams. It’s greater to be consistent in the small, mundane tasks that make those dreams possible.

Great lives are made up of mundane tasks.

  • Getting out of bed every morning
  • Making sure the kids are clothed and fed
  • Going to work
  • Thanking a friend
  • Being honest
  • Helping a neighbor
  • Showing up at church

We’re always told to pursue excellence. To accomplish great things. To be world-changers. ...

Continue Reading ...

Read More from Karl

Follow Christianity Today

Free Newsletters