Monthly Archives: August 2009

Viewing Boone’s Creek as a Church Plant

I know this question may seem rather difficult to comprehend. We have had such a storied history, reaching so many over our 224 year history for Christ, that we may wonder why we should bother taking time for something of this nature.

This question was posed on Sunday night, August 23rd to our Sunday evening congregation. I asked them, and they came up with four different items that they would consider if they were in the initial stages of planting a new church:

Location, location, location. First, they would look for a place to plant the church facilities. Would this building be easy to get to? Easily accessible? Enough room for worship, classes, children’s and youth activities?

Examining the people you wish to reach. To be honest, established churches lose the fine edge of this because their churches are … well… established. The core crowd is already present—often for years and years. We assume that, given our long history, everyone knows where we are. Yet, did you know that there are those who live in Athens who were not aware of where we were until I introduced myself on their front porch and showed them where we were?

Did you also know that within a five mile radius of the church, the average household income is $99,089 (as of August 2008)(the national average is in the high $50,000 range)? Did you know that 42% of them have a college or Master’s degree (national average: 24%)? Did you know that the majority of them are in their late 20s (known as the Young and Coming)?

How do we interpret this? This means that they are used to being surrounded by excellence, preparation, and are in desperate need of not just human care and compassion but for the truth! They have been inundated with theories, opinions, and every sort of philosophy. They are coming to an age where they just want to hear the truth about the meaning of their life. They reach a crisis point saying, “Is this all there is? I grew up with just Bible stories, but my teachers never connected it with real life issues!” This is where we must step in!

Christ-centered. Not appealing to the culture to find out what people want. We appeal to Christ and the Scriptures to give them what they need. They need the Gospel. They need to know that everything the Scripture touches on (and it’s not just spiritual things, but everything) is truth. We must mine out the Scriptures and go to trusted, God-centered, Christ-exalting resources to help them “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Leaders. These churches need leaders. And they need leaders who will lead. Too many of us (leaders included) simply react—react to problems and issues and crises and controversies by compromising, smoothing things over simply to keep the peace (and for many pastors, to keep their jobs)! But the church needs leaders (and I am talking to myself) willing to submit to God’s vision for the church (which is to spread His glory from our neighbors to the nations) and will not settle for mediocrity, but will strive for excellence by doing all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Leaders surrender to their Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and invest in people both inside and outside the church, as well as their families (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:1-4).

Established churches (especially Southern Baptists churches) have all the programs and missions organizations and materials and everything else already fit—all we do is plug in. Yet, by simply going through the motions of this and taking it for granted, we can do all this without even thinking about what we are doing. But we need to look at what we are doing. We need to take nothing for granted when it comes to the Lord’s work. We need to have movement and direction. And we’ll be talking more about this on Sunday nights—so I and this church really need you there.

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Leadership Lessons from Bengals Training Camp

bengals training camp

On Friday, August 7, some of us from church went to see the Cincinnati Bengals training camp at Georgetown College.  We truly enjoyed ourselves (not just because of football, but because of the friendships we had).  As a Bengals fan, I am very interested to see how they will do this year—and have the obligatory high hopes that they will play to their potential. 

One could tell immediately that the Bengals coaching staff had a number of items they wanted to observe—specifically the running game (how they ran, blocked, defended, etc.).  From that, I jotted down some various lessons I learned on leadership from this camp:

  1. The coaches must implement a plan to execute.  Organizations wanting to make a difference cannot just show up.  They must be going somewhere.  Each team has an identity.  If you think of the Pittsburgh Steelers, you recognize that they are a running team.  The Arizona Cardinals, for the most part, are a passing team.  That’s their identity.  When the Bengals say, “We’re getting away from who we are,” I know immediately they mean that they are getting away from establishing the run.  Local churches must establish their identity, then implement a plan to execute.
  2. Each player has a function to perform.  Defensive tackles cannot play wide receiver.  Right guards cannot drop back and play quarterback.  Each member of a football team has a task that they are best equipped to fulfill.  So too with a local church—each member is a part of the body of Christ with a function.  Churches flourish when each person understands their functions, then proceed to carry them out.
  3. There will be successes and failures, winners and losers.  Celebrate the wins, absorb the losses, learn from both.
  4. The fans must have some hope that the team is headed in the right direction.  Granted, some fans are eternal optimists, some are eternal pessimists, some just enjoy being at the game.  But all in all, fans need to have some hope that the team, coaching staff, and owner are headed in a direction of success.  (One fan flew overhead of the complex with a banner behind saying: 101-187-1 . . . Hire a G.M.  This record represents the record under the watch of Mike Brown, owner and G.M.  Fans find ways to express themselves.)  So to, church members (especially those new to the church) need to believe that the church is moving somewhere rather than staying stagnant with century-old programs and traditions meant for another time and place.
  5. Examine what type of influence you are in the locker room.  Some players play the game, go into the locker room, change their clothes, then leave.  Some practice only as much as need be, then leave.  The special players take the younger players under their wing to bring them along in their role.  Some exalt ‘self,’ others are team players.  With members at church, we can be all about ‘self,’ or about the team.  We can be there only the bear minimum, or we can stay extra to invest in others who need to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus (2 Pet 3:18).   
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Obama Uses Religious and Moral Motivation to Support Health Care Reform

Recently, President Obama engaged in a phone conversation with some rabbis over health care reform. In the process, the President strongly invoked moral and biblical language in order to make the case for support of this reform. He keyed in that many were “bearing false witness” about the plan. He goes on to the key paragraph from Obama’s call:

“These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation. And that is that we look out for one another, that I am my brother’s keeper and my sister’s keeper, and that the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.”

The point of this blog is not to debate the finer points, but to see how administrations past and present use biblical language to push forward their agenda. What about this? From George Washington to our current president, this has been a common practice. What do you think about Obama’s use of this rhetoric?

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Logos Bible Giveaway

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.

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Ten Deadly Sins of a Dying Church (Stephen Gray)

Stephen Gray writes a very thought-provoking article on “The Ten Deadly Sins of a Dying Church.”  May God spare us from these very sins.

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“Listen Up-Help for Listening to Sermon” (Unashamed Workman)

Colin Adams at Unashamed Workman writes a very compelling article about listening to sermons.  Here’s an excerpt:

Here’s a question for you. Think back to church last week. What was the sermon about? Have a think. What passage in the Bible was it from? Do you remember the main points from the sermon? Can you remember any of the applications the preacher made? What truth impressed you most? Tricky questions – aren’t they? Well if you’re struggling with your answers, you’re not on your own. In fact my suspicion is that most of us can’t remember very much about last Sundays sermon at all.

Click here to read more on this.

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Reggie Kelly Shares His Testimony for Christ

Reggie Kelly is a tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals.  Here, he shares his testimony as a follower of Christ.  A few days ago, Kelly found out that his torn achilles tendon would keep him out for the entire season.  Pray that Christ would continue to strengthen him and his witness during this time.

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When Smaller Churches Rise to Greater Heights

I am pastor of a church that averages around 170 per Sunday morning: 30 in the children’s area (workers included) and 140 in the main worship service. Technically, we are above the national average of churches (which average approximately 75), but we are just below the “medium” range, which begins at 200.

By the world’s perspective, smaller churches face a daunting task. In an age of consumerism where people come to a church to see what that church can do for them and provide for them, we are tempted to work to make the “big sell.”

Over the years, we have lost some of our long-time members to bigger churches in our area that have more resources to provide more programs for children, youth, young adults, parents, grandparents, singles, divorced—every type of demographic available.

While these churches gain traction and momentum, many of our smaller churches work hard to maintain. Some may visit the church, take a look and examine the particular ministries on the table, then may feel they need to move on to churches with … well… more!

John Benton in his wonderful little book “Why Join a small Church?” recounts a story of a friend of his who was a zealous Christian and a pastor of a small church. Though the church had only a dozen or so elderly folks in attendance, he took the call. He preached the Word of God faithfully, with much boldness, and accompanied by much prayer. Here Benton describe this:

What a situation! For many years nothing much seemed to happen, except a few minor encouragements from time to time. Though the preaching was good, the church continued fairly small. But my friend stuck to the task, praying, preaching, and doing whatever he could, with the help of a faithful few, to make the little flock a group of Christians pleasing to Christ. And after something like fifteen years of his ministry there, suddenly the church took off. Christians moving into the area began to join, people began to get saved. Things they had only dreamed of before as a church began to come true. The church numbers something like 200 to 250 people on Sundays, the building has been renovated and they have been used by God to plant another church in a nearby town.

Numbers are not everything. I believe this church had already become a great church even before attendance began to increase.

Even with slight numbers, small churches can rise to greater heights. How?

  1. A commitment to prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4).
  2. A determination to establish God-centered, Christ-exalting relationships (Acts 2:42-47);
  3. A desire to inject the message of the Gospel, accompanied with genuine compassion and care for those you are trying to reach (Ephesians 4:15);
  4. A hunger and thirst for knowing what you believe, why you believe, and why it is worth telling (Ephesians 4:11-16);
  5. A dogged commitment to assembling together with the saints at the appointed time (Hebrews 10:23-25);
  6. A shedding of a consumeristic attitude, looking for a church that meets your particular needs, rather than rolling up your sleeves and helping that church be what God would have it to be!

I’m sure there are more. But notice what resources are needed to maintain these things: the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), the Bible, and you.

What about it?

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Seven Traits of Effective Leaders (Rainer)

Thom Rainer, Executive Director of LifeWay, has written a very helpful article on Seven Traits of Effective Leaders.

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Paul Washer on American Christianity

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