20 Hidden Killers of Ministry In the Church

This great article was sent to me by one of our elders. What are your thoughts?  This article originally appeared at  http://www.churchleaders.com

By George Bullard
Discover these hidden factors that are undermining the health of your church congregation.

Life is fragile. But you know that.

All of us who are more than a generation old realize the physical and mental sharpness of our childhood and youth has diminished. It may not be obvious when we are 20-something or 30-something, but it is there. It becomes more obvious when we are 40-something and 50-something and still trying to trying to push ourselves like we were much younger.

By the time we are 60-something and 70-something, the aging process is in full swing. Many of the symptoms of our aging have been present for decades, but they are just now having an obvious impact on us that we cannot overcome by just working harder. We must work smarter and choose carefully those things to which we commit ourselves. Health conditions that were not obvious in earlier decades are now part of our daily concern and actions.

If we make it to 80-something or 90-something, for the vast majority of us, health and life expectancy issues are not only a primary concern for us, but often for our family who love us and have a responsibility to help care for us.

Is the Same Pattern True for Congregations?

Absolutely! The patterns are clear.

Congregations often thrive for the first generation of their lives. At some point when they are 20-something, their founding dream or vision wanes. If they do not intervene in their own journey in response to the spiritual nudge of the Triune God, the vitality and vibrancy of their congregation will diminish incrementally for the succeeding decades, and they will approach death at some future date.

Or they may realize the underlying spiritual, strategic, social and structural health issues and redevelop forward in response to a new or renewed vision. This is possible as a Christ-centered, faith-based, spiritual community. This is not something that is ultimately possible for us as individuals.

The ideal is that following the first generation of life, congregations will re-envision their future continually and effectively live into that vision as FaithSoaring churches. However, that is an ideal realized by less than 20 percent of congregations at any given time.

What about the rest of us?

Hidden Factors Undermining the Health of Congregations

Once congregations reach the end of their first generation, what are the hidden factors undermining their health?

As an overarching issue, let’s acknowledge that the lack of an empowering, God-inspired vision for future ministry that guides the journey of the congregation is the key foundational factor. Yet the vast majority of active people in a congregation can feel the lack of vision, so it is not totally hidden. They may not be able to identify that the factor lacking is vision, but they feel that something is missing.

Captivating vision is, however, the most important factor—hidden or visible.

Here are hidden factors I have observed over more than four decades of working with congregations in the second, third, fourth and following generations of their journeys. I offer 20 hidden factors here. What ones would you add?

1. Denial

Many congregations are in denial of the fact that they are no longer driven or fueled by a clear sense of vision. They believe the majority of things are doing well in the congregation. It is generally meeting their expectations. Nothing is wrong that needs to be addressed.

2. Comfort

The longer congregations are in existence, the more they are comfortable with the way things happen in their congregation. They have lost the prophetic, cutting-edge nature of the vision they are seeking to fulfill. Good enough has become good enough. A subtle mediocrity has set in.

3. Tradition

The patterns and culture begin to harden like concrete once congregations have been in existence for a generation or more. Tradition is worshiped as beloved heritage. This is where the seven last words of the church come in: “We’ve never done it that way before.”

4. Mission

During the first generation, mission is often truly missional in nature and is about what God is up to in and through the congregation. By the second generation and following, without intentional effort otherwise, mission can often become about the existing congregations and what they are doing.

5. Programs

In years past, denominations sold congregations on the idea that successful, growing programs always meant successful, growing churches. This was a partial truth. Too many congregations believe a focus on the right programs is the best future for them. Also a partial truth.
6. Discipleship

Too many congregations believe discipleship equates to head knowledge, when it is really a lifelong process of spiritual growth focused on the Triune God. Thus, many people connected with congregations never grow deep enough in their faith so that it is evidenced by a Christ-like lifestyle.

7. Relationships

Deep relationships in a congregational community are important. Yet, too many people equate close relationships with a closed circle of relationships. The active participants of congregations have too many people with whom they only have face familiarity, not deep friendships.

8. Shallow

Too many conversations in congregations are shallow. We are afraid to go deep. We are afraid of being marginalized if we say what we really think about the Bible, theological issues, ethical dilemmas, or what makes up a moral or immoral lifestyle. Congregations need deep dialogue.

9. Life

Life happens. Life can be tough. Church is a place where we should deal with life issues. However, there is a really big difference between, in humility, bringing our life issues to a loving congregational community and abusing a church because of our anger over our life issues.

10. Tenure

The longer the average person has been connected to a congregation, the more they see things primarily from their own perspective or the perspective of their best friends. This leads to a lack of openness to transition, change and innovation. The age of a person is not a factor.
11. Attractional

Congregations tend to be output based. As such, they want the growth numbers of the church to be better each year than the year before. They want to attract new people to provide leadership where needed and to contribute generously to the church budget and any debt.

12. Churched

By their second generation, many congregations are composed of people who come from a churched culture and do not understand the unchurched culture. Even if they became professing Christians during the past generation, they may have lost the perspective of the unchurched.

13. Demographics

The geographic context served by congregations often changes from generation to generation. The demographics within active congregations may not match the community context, if it ever did. Congregations can become disconnected from their context and not understand the people.

14. Drift

The theology, philosophy, methodology and style of congregations can drift over the years. One day, the long-term members realize this is not their congregation any more, and they seek to bring the congregation back from the abyss instead of seeking God in the present times.

15. Dull

Congregations can get stuck in place, lack innovation and creativity, and simply become dull. There is no excitement, glitter or pizzazz. As such, they are unattractive to new people and do not inspire existing participants to do more than to go through the motions of being and doing church.
16. Leadership

Any system needs a fresh set of leaders stepping forward on a regular basis. Too many congregations do not have this. The same leaders have led with the same or similar style, and in the same or similar ways, for too many years. Fresh ideas and approaches have few or no champions.

17. Management

When a congregation is beyond its first generation of life and is not empowered by vision, a vacuum is created into which a management mindset settles in. These management people have the good of the church at heart, but forget a church is an organism and not an organization.

18. Museum

Because of the significant investment congregations make in their buildings, and the fact that many participants invested their personal financial resources in those buildings, keeping up the museum becomes a high priority for congregations. They become curators rather than creators.

19. Money

To keep up the museum, and to have the staff congregations believe they need or deserve it, an increasing percentage of budget allocations are spent on buildings and staff. When this gets over 70 percent of the budget, warning signals should go off. When over 80 percent, the crisis is huge.

20. Anxiety

Long-term, older members confuse Christ and the culture of congregations to the extent that they may believe allowing congregations to change in any radical manner may deny the presence and direction of God. They fear it may even impact their personal eternity in a negative way.

Why Have I Identified These Hidden Factors?

The answer is quite simple: These types of hidden factors cause tens of thousands of congregations in North America to fail to transition, change and transform following their first generation of life.

They may have a fruitful, vital and vibrant first generation, but instead of moving forward to an equally exciting second, third, fourth or more generation, they become what I call “One Generation Congregations.” They live on the fumes and memories of the past. They call it heritage and hope that tomorrow will bring a return of the characteristics of the first generation. They may never be captivated by an empowering vision again.

Further, I have identified these hidden factors to get them out in the open for dialogue and to work on clarifying them and building strategies to address them. When congregations can effectively address these and other hidden factors, they may create a readiness to soar with faith in the direction of God’s full kingdom potential for them.

I’m Not In Church

This blog post originally was posted on thomrainer.com   Check out his page to see other great posts from Thom.  One of my favorite reads.

Our neighbors, family and co-workers need the truth of the gospel.  It can be as easy as an invite.  God’s plan for accomplishing His purposes on this earth is the Church!  Who do you need to be aware of around you today?  Below is a great reminder.

I am not in church.

Sure, I have visited churches several times, but I gave up.

For the most part, the people were unfriendly in the churches. No one greeted me unless it was some contrived greeting time. No one noticed me while they gathered in their holy huddles. One church member sat down by me and told me I was sitting in her pew. I decided to leave right then.

I am not in church.

But I really would like to know more about Christianity. Unfortunately, most of the sermons I hear seem watered down. Too many of the preachers tend to shy away from dealing with the biblical text straight on. I want to learn, but they just seem to want to please.

I am not in church.

I could make you a list of over 100 things churches are against. The topics range from the serious to the ridiculous. I sure would like to find a church that also tells me what they are for.

I am not in church.

But I need help. I know I need help. There are times I hurt badly and seek answers. I was hoping to find some of those answers at church. I was hoping to meet people who cared. I was hoping to be in place where I am treated with dignity and care.

I am not in church.

My co-worker goes to church. I even know where he’s a member. But he’s never invited me. My neighbor goes to church. My children play with her children. I see their family go to church every Sunday. But she’s never invited me. I would go if she did. I would definitely go.

I am not in church.

But church members don’t seem to care. They seem too busy to care. No one speaks to me. No one invites me. No one shows concern for me.

I am not in church.

I am not anti-church. I am not anti-Christian. I am really seeking answers. I am really looking for people who care.

I am not in church.

But I think I would like to be.

What is Religious Liberty Anyway and Is It Worth Fighting For?

Below is a great article written by Aaron Cline Hanbury in Relevant Magazine talking about Religious Liberty.  Very informative.  Hope you enjoy! -Matt

As kids, we all learned about the founding of the United States and how free exercise of religion was the driving idea behind the whole American project. In many ways, as the story goes, religious liberty, is the heart of the United States.

Fast forward to today and, you’ve probably noticed, debates about religious liberty are louder and more public than any time in recent memory. In states like Missouri and North Carolina and Georgia, recent religious liberty legislative bills met loud opposition from people both within and outside those states.

Critics of these measures claim they carry significant implications for members of the LGBT community. In some cases, they say, bills like the one proposed in Mississippi allow business owners to deny services to LGBT people, if the owners think serving them conflicts with their faith.

In Georgia, major corporations and Hollywood film companies threatened to leave the state if its governor didn’t veto a religious freedom bill that made it all the way to his desk. Last week, comedian Tracy Morgan canceled a show in Mississippi in boycott of that state’s new religious liberty bill.

On the other side, supporters of increased protections for religious liberty claim that—even in high-profile cases involving bakers, photographers and people like Kim Davis—the only victims of religious intolerance are those who actually hold religious convictions.

The contrarian writer of the Get Religion blog, Terry Mattingly, recently published an editorial pronouncing “Religious Liberty Is a Scary Term.” In it, he highlights the disconnect between the term and the culture. One of his sources puts it simply: “Religious liberty is something that only old white men believe in.”

Religious liberty, it seems, is controversial.

But part of this problem, at least as I see it, is that the term itself is widely used but rarely defined. And like most churchy buzzwords—think “worldview,” “community” and “kingdom”—overuse renders the meaning even more elusive. But just like those terms, we can’t afford to concede ambiguity to religious liberty.

Religious Liberty in the United States
For the United States, religious freedom in practice starts with the First Amendment. It says,

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

But even before this amendment became official in December 1791, religious liberty—or freedom of conscience—was central to the young country. Writing to the United Baptists of Virginia, May 10, 1789, George Washington himself wrote:

If I could have entertained the slightest apprehension that the Constitution framed in the Convention, where I had the honor to preside, might possibly endanger the religious rights of any ecclesiastical Society, certainly I would never have places my signature to it …

And then, not a year later (August 18, 1790), Washington wrote a similar letter—this time to the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island:

The Citizens of the United States have every right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

For Washington, as the Constitution reflects, freedom of conscience wasn’t just about Christianity or even religion per se. Rather, for the country to work for all citizens—religious or not—he knew it needed to establish freedom for religion. This meant political and societal tolerance for the religious choices of others—Muslims, Buddhists, humanists and, yes, Christians.

Religious Liberty in the Bible
Of course, we Christians shouldn’t assume that something central to the United States is also central to our faith. We’ve been down that road, and it’s ugly. But just because we wouldn’t say religious liberty is “central” to Christianity—at least I wouldn’t—doesn’t mean it’s not important.

In his massive book about politics and the Bible, theologian Wayne Grudem details the foundations of religious liberty from the Christian faith. He begins, of course, with Matthew 22:21: “In Jesus’ statement about God and Caesar, he established the broad outlines of a new order in which ‘the things that are God’s’ are not to be under the control of civil government (or ‘Caesar’),” Grudem writes. Jesus is saying that there “is one realm of activity under the authority of civil government and another realm of activity under the direct authority of God.”

As an example, Grudem points to the practices of the earliest churches. He writes:

Support for the idea that government should not control the church (or synagogue or mosque) is found in the selection of church off in the New Testament. The first apostles were chosen by Jesus, not by a Roman official (see Matt 10:1-4). The early church, not any government official, chose ‘seven men of good repute’ to oversee the distribution of food to the needy (Act 6:3). Paul gave qualifications for elders and deacons that would have been evaluated by those within the church (see Tim. 3:1-13; Titus 1:3-9). There was clearly no involvement by the civil government, neither by local officials nor by the Roman Empire, in any selection of officers in the early church.

This is because, contrary to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, the government of the church and government of the state are different systems of government, and the have authority over different groups of people, for different purposes.

The New Testament establishes clearly that the Church is not subject to the state—we answer to an authority far higher. The Bible, though, doesn’t necessarily suggest a model for what this looks like. But when you look, for example, at how the apostle Paul describes the work of the Church in 2 Corinthians 5—“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others.”—you can see that an ideal context for Christianity (if there is such a thing) is one in which we are free to “persuade others” with the message of the Gospel.

Here in the United States, the biblical roots of religious liberty aren’t lost—even among the ardently secular. Of all people, writer H.L. Menken, one of the most important and popular writers in the history of American journalism—and no fan of religion, much less Christianity—saw this clearly. He wrote in 1926 (which I found here):

The debt of democracy to Christianity has always been underestimated. … Long centuries before Rousseau was ever heard of, or Locke or Hobbs (sic), the fundamental principles of democracy were plainly stated in the New Testament, and elaborately expounded by the early fathers, including St. Augustine.

Religious Liberty in Our Culture
In 2009, leaders from different streams of Christianity—Robert P. George, a professor at Princeton University; Timothy George, the dean of Beeson Divinity School; and Chuck Colson, the founder of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview—wrote a manifesto called the “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.” In it, they described religious liberty like this:

“Immunity from religious coercion is the cornerstone of an unconstrained conscience. No one should be compelled to embrace any religion against his will, nor should persons of faith be forbidden to worship God according to the dictates of conscience or to express freely and publicly their deeply held religious convictions.”

And there lies the rub. This idea that people should “express freely and publicly their deeply held religious convictions” can certainly sound like a license for bigotry and even racism. And this is exactly the tone a lot of our current debates take.

Last week, I talked with Os Guinness, one of our society’s most influential cultural critics who has written widely on all kinds of issues and particularly about the first amendment. Back in the 1990s, he even wrote some of President Bill Clinton’s speeches on the topic. I asked Guinness—who, his name should tell you, isn’t originally from the US (and, yes, it’s that Guinness)—about some of our cultural angst about religious liberty and why the concept matters in the first place.

“The current view that religious freedom is both partisan and prejudice and doing the things you mentioned [like promoting bigotry] is very recent,” he told me. A common misunderstanding, he said, is that “Religious freedom has been taken as freedom for the religious. Whereas, of course, it includes naturalistic, secular worldviews like atheism, as well as transcendental supernatural worldviews like the Christian faith or Judaism.”


The High Five (March 25)93
He argues strongly that religious liberty is the “first freedom” of the United States. He doesn’t mean “first” just because it’s the first amendment, but because it’s a logical priority. His reasoning takes a technical turn here but his point is important. He said:

Take the three political rights: (1) freedom of conscience, (2) freedom of speech and (3) freedom of assembly. There’s no hierarchy, that would be invidious, but they are interlocking. Freedom of assembly assumes and requires freedom of speech. You wanna get together with people to whom you want to say something that matters; you don’t want only to talk about the weather. Freedom of speech includes, assumes and requires freedom of conscience. You’re talking about things that matter to you, because you’re convinced of them based on your conscience.

Freedom of conscience, then, is far different from freedom of choice—freedom of choice is autonomous, like what cereal you buy or what color shirt you want. That’s a matter of your preference. But, freedom of conscience you respect because people are not free: They’re bound by the dictates of conscience. And that’s why, since the Reformation of Martin Luther right down to the first amendment, [religious liberty has] been respected as the first freedom.

Then Guinness summarized his answer to my question like only he can: “For the current generation to dismiss [freedom of conscience] as either purely partisan or a matter of prejudice … is incredibly short-sighted and foolish.”

What makes these dismissals of religious liberty “foolish”? The first freedom, contrary to popular assumptions, isn’t set up to suppress or silence minority views and practices at all—it’s just the opposite: Religious freedom is about protecting those who find themselves outside the majority. And this matters to Christians not only because we ourselves hold minority beliefs, but also because we want our to see our neighbors’ minority views protected, too.

Honestly, we Christians in the US—much, much less the broader culture—will probably never arrive at a consensus on what religious freedom should look like or even how strongly we should fight for it. But it’s something we can’t lose and from which we shouldn’t shy away—no matter how loud the social media majority is.
Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/what-does-religious-liberty-even-mean#MU41XEYbCQfxy54C.99



What Should We Think About Worship On Sunday

The following is a blog by Nate Akin, Pastor of Disciple-Making at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC.  Nate does a great job with sharing what our actions, thoughts and attitudes should be in worship on Sundays.  You can see this blog and others at baptisttwentyone.com

How Should Someone Think about the Sunday Gathering?

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near – Hebrews 10:24-25

The New Testament has no category for a “me and Jesus Christianity.” Telling one of the apostles “I am Christian but have no significant connection to a local church” would seem as strange to them as me telling you “I am a vegetarian.” The Christian has not only been saved for the vertical relationship with God but for the horizontal relationships with brothers and sisters. We have been saved into the church for one another.

In Hebrews 10 we are told that we should “consider” or ponder (this is an active activity not passive) how we will stir one another up and in Hebrews the focus is on this in the context of the Church gathering (the Greek word here is “episynagogue”). Therefore, the gathering of the church is not like a country club where you come to be waited on and served but instead where we come intentionally to serve and encourage others. In light of this exhortation I want to share two implications and then 9 practical ways one can come to the gathering ready to encourage and stir up others.

2 Implications:

Come to the gathering as a participant and not a consumer – Your first thought when coming to the gathering should not be “how can I be benefitted today” but instead, “how can I benefit others?” If you come to the gathering merely because you like the preaching and the music you are coming as a consumer and not for the good of your brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, this prevalent across the American Church culture and often times churches play in to this rather than equipping their people to be different.
Church hopping will make it impossible for you to know people well enough to know how to encourage and stir them up – If you bounce from church to church you will never really know people well enough to know how to encourage them. In addition to that, if you merely attend a service for an hour on Sunday and are not in the lives of other Christians you will not know how to do this well. My plea is that you will be active in being in each other’s lives and you will then come to the gathering intentionally thinking how can I benefit them today.
9 Practical Ways you can come to the gathering ready to build others up:

  1. Come to the gathering with this mindset of I am ready to stir it up and encourage – Who can I encourage to love and good deeds today?
  2. Pray for the gathering on your drive to the building – Pray for all the elements of the service and do this with your children so you can model this for them. Pray for the songs and singing, the pastor and his sermon, the fellowship that will happen, the childcare workers, the childcare workers, the childcare workers, and so on.
  3. Come early and stay late – We show up early for things we are excited about like ball games. I mean I arrived at Star Wars 7 an hour early in a Chewbacca Onesie. Yet, at times we roll in to the gathering of God’s people late and then leave early. If we are going to encourage believers through fellowship at our Sunday gatherings we need to show up early and stay later for the benefit of our brothers and sisters.
  4. Seek out people to greet that you don’t know – Try to find at least one person each week that you don’t know and introduce yourself to them. If you see a person sitting by themselves, go and sit with them.
  5. Seek out friends and give them a word of encouragement or pray with them for their upcoming week – how awesome would it be if your people every week had someone pray for their upcoming week?
  6. Do acts of service even when you aren’t scheduled to serve and when you are scheduled to serve show up and serve with a smile – Seek out ways to serve others as we gather together.
  7. Go sit with a family with a bunch of children and help them during the service
  8. Sing – The NT teaches us that our signing has a horizontal component (again it is not a time for you just to be singing to Jesus imaging its just you and Him as some Music Ministers might say). We are told to encourage one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Singing is a time to build up the family by preaching to one another the truths of the faith through song.
  9. Be an active listener for the preacher – It is ok to talk to the preacher during the sermon. It is ok to nod in agreement and show the preacher you are engaged in what is going on. Come to the gathering with the mindset I am going to be an active listener for the preacher today.
    There are many more ways we can do this, what would you add to this list?

Sunday mornings are not just about what the pastors and leaders do. We must teach our people that what they DO on Sunday mornings has eternal ramifications. Let us consider how we will do this!

Tim Duncan’s Example For The Church

Tim Duncan

This past weekend the San Antonio Spurs played the Golden State Warriors in one of the most highly anticipated regular season basketball games in history.  Both teams are having record seasons and San Antonio lost the first meeting of the two teams by 30 points!  Something was going to have to change for the Spurs to avoid the same outcome.

During pregame warm-ups, San Antonio’s coach Popovich shared that Tim Duncan would not be starting the game.  Understand the context here:  Tim Duncan is the Spurs.  He is the greatest power forward of all time, has 5 world championships with the Spurs, has been the heart and soul of the team and has only missed 2 previous starts in his long, All Star career.  Tim wasn’t injured, Pop just felt like the Spurs needed to change some things and make a few adjustments to win the game.

“He’s such a great person,” teammate LaMarcus Aldridge said of Duncan. “He didn’t pout; he was very positive. He was talking to me. I don’t know if many guys in that position would have handled it as well as he did.”

That’s a picture of humility and understanding the big picture:  It’s not about Tim Duncan, it’s about winning the game.  And that’s what happened…the Spurs won the game!

So you might be asking, what does this have to do with the church?  Well, let me tell you.  We play in a much bigger game, the game of life, and the outcomes aren’t championships, but people’s eternity.  Sometime as church leaders make adjustments or change the way things have always been done, those who have been there the longest, or feel like they have invested the most are the least positive and they lose sight of the big picture:  It’s not about you or me, it’s about doing whatever it takes as a team (or in this case the church) to win the game!

As we look around our city, our country, and our world, people need the hope and love that Jesus Christ offers.  God’s tool for making this happen is the church.  Unfortunately on many fronts, the church is losing because they refuse, or people in the church refuse to “take one for the team”.  What’s the old saying, “there’s no I in TEAM”?

So if you’ve ever wanted to be like Tim Duncan, and you are part of a church, here is your chance.  Be like Tim, or better yet, be like Jesus.  Understand the big picture and be willing to adjust, change, or even come off the bench if that’s what the coach asks and it helps the team win!

How Every Parent Can Pray For Their Kids

Portrait Of Happy Family

As parents, we are given a biblical responsibility for the discipleship of our kids.  Whether you feel fully equipped to do this or not is a legitimate feeling that many parents have. Obviously, this is why the church is here.  To help equip you for this purpose.  At the same time, one thing that we can all do is pray for our kids.  I came across this prayer guide and wanted to share it with you.

Take time to look up the verses that correspond with the prayer requests.  What’s amazing is that as we read the bible verses and pray the prayers, God will equip you in greater ways than you could have imagined to disciple and mentor your own kids!  We have a part in raising what could be the greatest generation for the gospel that the world has ever known.  Lets not drop the ball!

Prayer Requests and Scripture Promise

  • Personal Salvation & a Committed Life I Corinthians 1:4-9; Galatians 1:3-5; 3:14-21; Philippians 1:3-11; 2 Timothy 1:3-7
  • Sense of Security and Love Psalm 91:10-12; John 17:14-17; Romans 8:35
  • Presentation of a Good Example and Worth Testimony Philemon 4-6; Ephesians 6:1-4; II Thessalonians 1:3-8; I Thessalonians 1:2-10
  • Development of the Mind of Christ Philippians 2:5-11; Colossians 1:3-12
  • Knowledge of Right and Wrong Proverbs 20:11; 28:13; Philippians 1:9,10
  • Protect from Evil Proverbs 4:14, 15; Galatians 5:16; Ephesians 6:11; James 4:7-9
  • Resistance to False Teachings Matthew 7:15; Colossians 2:8
  • Godly Decision Making Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 12:1,2; I Corinthians 1:13, 31; Philippians 3:12-14
  • Establishment of Realistic Goals for Life Psalm 32:8; 138:8; 143:8-10; Proverbs 4:20-27
  • Wise Friendships Proverbs 13:20; 22:24,25
  • A godly Husband or Wife and a Happy Marriage II Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:22,23
  • Management of Time and Stress Proverbs 16:9; Philippians 4:6
  • Development of Good Work Habits Colossians 3:23; II Timothy 2:15
  • Discipline in Financial  Mark 12:41-44; II Thessalonians 3:7-10

Game Changer

This past weekend I started a new series I’m calling, “Don’t Waste Your Life” and I believe it can be a game changer for so many who are struggling.  You see you and I were created by God for a purpose… He actually has a plan for you!  

Sunday’s message was titled “Living with Urgency” and I asked a clarifying question, “If you knew you only had a short time to live, how would you live your life?”

Pretty deep.  The bible passage was Matthew 5:18-20, 24-26.

Here are several challenges for Living With Urgency

  • Take a Drastic Step.  Many times when we are re-evaluting our entire life and what’s important, a few settle changes aren’t enough.  We have to realize what’s important, stop worrying about things that won’t last, removes obstacles – decide whats’ really important and remove the rest!
  • Expect The Unexpected.  God’s plan may be different than mine.  Does God have permission to interrupt your life?
  • Create Space in Your Life for God.  I’m not talking about compartmentalizing, I’m talking about creating a time daily that you focus on your relationship with Christ.
  • Make The Change Now.  Don’t be a procrastinator, start now.  Urgency by definition means now.

So I encourage you to live your life like you only have a short time left.  Live your life in such a way that you have no regrets.  Live your life for Christ with a sense of urgency!

To watch the entire message click here: https://castlehills.church

I hope you will join us this week as we continue week #2 of this important series!

Greater Comfort or Great Commission?

There are 2 “greats” at battle in most churches today.  One is greater comfort, the other is the Great Commission.  I would like to look at the affects and impacts of both.

The Great Commission:  Matt 28:19-20

  • Impacts people’s eternity
  • Grows God’s Kingdom
  • Is “others” focused
  • Is a mandate from God’s Word
  • Helps people mature in their faith
  • Grows the Church of Jesus Christ

Greater Comfort:

  • Has a negative impact on people’s eternity
  • Negatively impacts the Kingdom
  • Is “me” focused
  • Is contrary to God’s Word
  • Negatively impacts people’s faith
  • Negatively impacts the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ

Unfortunately, in the battle of “great”, greater comfort is winning and the affects on the American church is devastating.  Let’s pray and ask God to change our hearts to align with His.  In the battle of “greats”, the Great Commission should always win!

What (SOME) Church Members Mean When They Say They Want Their Church To Grow

This is a great article by Thom Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway Resources.  As someone who regularly communicates with hundreds of pastors, I always appreciate his perspective. -Matt

I heard it again just a week ago.

And I bet I’ve heard it nearly a thousand times.

“The search committee,” the pastor began, “said they really wanted the church to grow. Now I am leading them to do some things to reach people, and those same people are out to get me.”

You will rarely find a church member who says he or she is not for growth in the church. But many church members have unspoken, perhaps unknown, conditions attached to the statement. In other words, I am all for growth in the church unless it impacts me in some way.

Let’s look at seven of those “unless” conditions:

I really want to see growth in our church . . .

Unless we have to change the worship style.
Unless we have to add more worship services.
Unless I lose my parking spot and my seat in the worship center.
Unless the new people who come to our church look differently than we do; dress differently than we do; or speak differently than we do.
Unless we have to spend a lot of money on “those” people.
Unless the new people mess up my current fellowship circles and groups.
Unless we have to change the facilities in any way to accommodate the growth.

For certain, not all church members have such attitudes. Similarly, don’t assume those church members who act enthusiastically about potential growth have really considered the consequences. Stated simply, reaching people with the gospel always has a cost.

Unfortunately, many church members do not want to pay that cost.

Let me hear about your perspectives and experiences regarding this issue.

What We Learn From David And Goliath

Read 1 Samuel 17 and you will see one of the most amazing stories of overcoming.  You have a lame duck king, a fearful nation and a boy who is hacked off at a giant!  You know how the story goes – David is the underdog – the odds are stacked against him.  Everyone is scared of Goliath.  He’s 9 ft 9 inches tall and a beast of a warrior.  He taunts the nation of Israel and their God.  David has had enough.  You know how the story goes.  But here are a few principles you may have never considered that we can learn and I pray they encourage you today!

  1.  We Are Saul and His Army in This Story, Not David

There was an enemy that could not be overcome.  The people tried in vain and were going nowhere.  God had to send a savior, a rescuer.  That was David for the Israelites and for us its Jesus, the ultimate Recuer and Savior.  We have an enemy that we can’t overcome, giants in our life, so God sent Jesus to gain victory.

              2.   We Don’t Fight For Victory, We Fight From Victory

Just like David’s victory encouraged the army of Israel to be strong and take back the land the Philistines had taken from them, Jesus victory over sin and death should encourage us in the battle we face daily because He has already won!

    3.  The Same God Who Fought For Them, Fights For Us!

We overcome because He overcame!  Be encouraged today if you are a child of God.  The giants have been defeated.  We walk in victory because of what Christ has done!