5 Things to Remember When It Comes to Church Size

Chad Hall: I have had the privilege to serve as a coach to pastors for over 15 years, and I’ve noticed that it does not take long in the coaching relationship for the topic of church size to come up. I’ve also noticed that some pastors approach church growth with health and wholeness while others struggle with (and because of) church size.  If you are a pastor, church planter, or key leader, you need a healthy and theologically sound attitude for dealing with church growth, size, and numbers.  To help you develop such an attitude, here are five things to recognize when it comes to church size. Growth is not the only good.  Some church leaders lack a biblical imagination that would allow them to envision a purpose for their church other than growth.  Making growth (or big) synonymous with good is a recipe for disaster because it prevents good from being a higher value than growth.  Granted, big and good are not opposites, but

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Should All Believers Take Part in Evangelism?

Simply by being a member of the church of Jesus Christ each Christian has a responsibility to be involved in the missionary call of the whole church. We should all be praying, all giving, all sending. There are two particular passages in which the apostles call all believers to be involved in the work of evangelism. First a passage from Paul (Colossians 4:5-6), and then one from Peter (1 Peter 3:15-16). The words of the Lord through His apostles are clear. Evangelism is not simply the task of church leaders, pastors, and evangelists who are specially called and gifted. (Though the New Testament does recognize the particular responsibility of leaders and pastors in this task and teaches us that God does indeed gift some for this work with special abilities; see, for example,Ephesians 4:7-12 and 2 Timothy 4:1-5.) But it is not only the teachers and evangelists who have this task set before them; rather, every believer is called to

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6 Ways Small Churches Can Love Their Communities

Daniel Darling: What if you are the pastor of a small church but would like to do something to serve your community? What if you love the idea of adopting a school, but barely have enough resources to cover your nursery on Sunday? Is it possible to do acts of mercy in your local Jerusalem with a tiny band of volunteers? Surprisingly, it is. Here are six tips for small church outreach: 1. Relieve yourself of false guilt. If there is one thing that plagues small church pastors in a big metro area, it’s the constant guilt about what your church is “not doing.” Mostly this guilt comes as a result of comparing yourself to the other churches in town. Instead, begin to look at the entire body of Christ in your community rather than your own specific congregation. You are just one of many God is using in that region to bring about His glory. When I finally realized that

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Jesus Gives Us an Identity, Not Just a Task

Trevin Wax: We often think of “witness” as something we do (such as evangelism), rather than something we are. But in the commissioning scenes in Luke (24:44-48) and Acts (1:4-8), Jesus speaks of the disciples in terms of present reality (“you are My witnesses”) and future identity (“you will be My witnesses”). What’s the significance of being Christ’s witnesses? Jesus is the Focus of Our Witness First, note the emphasis in both accounts on Jesus claiming authority over the disciples’ identities and activities: My witnesses. This could refer to the fact that the witnesses belong to the Lord —”you are the witnesses who belong to Me.” Or it could mean that the witnesses speak of the Lord in line with their identity —”you are the witnesses that speak of me.” I’m inclined to go with the latter understanding since Luke 24:44‒48 focuses on bearing witness to all that has been fulfilled in the Old Testament (not to mention the focus in Acts on the expansion

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Not By Might, So It Just Might Work

Kevin DeYoung: I think one of the main reasons we struggle to tell people about Jesus is that deep down we just don’t think it will ever work. We think we’ve already tried to share with people before and nobody was interested. We imagine sharing our faith to be nothing but muscling up our strength to go do our duty and embrace failure. We soldier on, expecting fruitlessness, so we can say, “I did it, pastor.” Most of us lack faith that God actually has people prepared for us who will listen. This is where the doctrine of predestination is the best news in the world. We have not yet exhausted the number of God’s elect. God has more people to be saved, so keep on sharing. When Spurgeon was asked why he kept preaching the gospel when he believed in election, he replied, “Because the elect don’t have yellow stripes down their back.” In other words, he could not

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The Non-Negotiable Centre of Missions

Matt Smethurst in conversation with Zane Pratt, dean of Southern Seminary’s Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism: What do you perceive to be the most common misconception among evangelicals about the place and purpose of missions in Scripture? The most common misconception about the place of missions in Scripture is the idea that mission is somehow optional, or simply one among many items on the church’s agenda. But mission is actually one of the glues holding together the grand narrative of Scripture, and it’s central to the agenda of the church. The most common misconception about the purpose of missions in Scripture is the idea that mission is simply anything useful the church does outside its own walls. It’s certainly true Christ’s disciples seek to obey everything he commanded, including loving our neighbour as ourselves and being zealous for good works. However, the point of the spear of the church’s mission is making disciples, which necessarily involves evangelism and church planting among those who’ve never heard

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7 Reasons to Care About the Great Commission

Thabiti Anyabwile: 1. To experience the power of God (Matt. 28:18). “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” proclaims the Lord. He invests that authority and might in the work of redemption. Our participation in the Great Commission brings us under that Heavenly Authority. No better place to be. 2. For the glory of God in Christ (Matt. 28:18). The Lord’s words in verse 18 harken back to that wonderful vision of Daniel 7:13-14. The transfer of “authority, glory and sovereign power” that Daniel foresaw is completed in our Lord’s post-Resurrection commission to His Church. The bringing of nations to worship Christ spreads the glory of God in His Son. 3. To express obedience and love (Matt. 28:19). The commands us to “go and make disciples.” We’re not only to “teach them to obey everything I commanded,” but we’re also to express such obedience ourselves. Participating in the Great Commission is in a sense the simultaneous way we

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Freely offered and fully finished

“There is no inconsistency or incoherence in the teaching of the New Testament about, on the one hand, the offer of Christ in the gospel, which Christians are told to make known everywhere, and, on the other hand, the fact that Christ achieved a totally efficacious redemption for God’s elect on the cross. It is a certain truth that all who come to Christ in faith will find mercy (John 6:35, 47–51, 54–57; Rom. 1:16; 10:8–13). The elect hear Christ’s offer, and through hearing it are effectually called by the Holy Spirit. Both the invitation and the effectual calling flow from Christ’s sin-bearing death. Those who reject the offer of Christ do so of their own free will (i.e., because they choose to, Mat 22:1–7; John 3:18), so that their final perishing is their own fault. Those who receive Christ learn to thank him for the cross as the centrepiece of God’s plan of sovereign saving grace.”  J. I. Packer, Concise Theology, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 138-39 (HT:

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An Explosion of Joy

“There has been a long tradition which sees the mission of the Church primarily as obedience to a command. It has been customary to speak of ‘the missionary mandate.’ This way of putting the matter is certainly not without justification, and yet it seems to me that it misses the point. It tends to make mission a burden rather than a joy, to make it part of the law rather than part of the gospel. If one looks at the New Testament evidence one gets another impression. Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact? The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is more like the fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal but life-giving.” – Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in

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The Sin of NoMission

Joe Thorn: A healthy church, a true church, is a church on mission; one that follows Jesus as disciples while making disciples of others. A church on mission maintains both an outward and inward orientation with the hope of the gospel and works of grace. We are to reach out, gather in, and worship Jesus together in all of life. When a church loses sight of the mission Christ gave us (to make disciples) it not only ceases to participate in Christ’s ingathering of those he calls to himself, but it also begins to die. A church can only live as she abides in Jesus, and Jesus is definitely on mission. To abide with him we must go with him. But this sin of “no-mission” will not only kill the church, it will also kill the family. Edmund’s Clowney’s book, The Church, is my favorite single volume on the church. In his chapter on the mission of the church he makes the

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What Did Jesus Come to Save Us From?

John Piper: Let’s do this inductively. I ask. You answer. John 3:17, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Why did God send his Son? _______________ John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Does not obeying the Son (e. g., when he commands us to trust him) bring us under God’s wrath or leave us under his wrath? _______________ So what did God send his Son to save us from? _______________ Is this a felt need among the unbelievers you know? _______________ What are the implications for the content of preaching and                             evangelism? ____________

Election: Handle with Care

David Mathis: I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. –2 Timothy 2:10 The doctrine of election is a sharp scalpel. It can be wielded with care and skill, and taken up to give life and heal. Or, in the hands of an untrained fanatic or detractor, it can be used to harm, to sever vital arteries and mutilate hurting people by spinning out untrue implications. In this five-minute clip of his most recent sermon, John Piper encourages us to follow the apostle Paul’s powerful example in 2 Timothy 2:10 and wield the dear doctrine of election with gospel care. .

That Awkward Moment When We Speak the Gospel

I’m dedicating this post to the good people of Bethel Evangelical Church (my church!). We have a great evangelistic opportunity before us this week. With God’s grace, let’s go for it! Ken Currie: Evangelism is counter-cultural. It’s true everywhere on the planet, but perhaps it’s especially so in our increasingly post-Christian Western society. We live in polite culture, for the most part. Talk about religion? You just don’t go there. Talk about how many tornadoes have come through, and how the team is doing, and how the city has new recycling bins. But Jesus Christ, crucified for sinners and risen from the dead? You just don’t go there. So they say. For the time being, it seems the greatest threat to gospel-telling in such a society is not that we will be hauled before the city council, beaten, and have our property taken away. What we are really dealing with is some awkwardness. Awkwardness is perhaps the biggest threat to

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The Gospel Is Big Enough to Fight for Itself

Russell Moore: Sometimes believers will throw up their hands in frustration with non-Christian people they know. “I have said everything I know to say to her about the gospel,” one might say. “She already knows it all and doesn’t believe.” Often what we seek is another argument, a hidden angle that our interlocutor hasn’t thought through before. But that’s rarely how the gospel is heard and received. Think about it in your own case. Did you believe the gospel the first time you ever heard it? Perhaps you did, but if so, you’re quite unusual. Most of us heard the gospel over and over and over again until one day it hit us in a very different way. And what was different about it? Was it a new argument? Did you say to yourself, “Wait, you mean there’s archaeological evidence proving the historical existence of the Hittites?” or “Hold on, there were five hundred witnesses to the resurrection? Well, what

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Evangelistic vs. Covenantal Worship

Lee Irons critiques Tim Keller’s ‘Evangelistic Worship’: Some of you may be aware that there is this thing called “the missional church” or “the missional movement” or just “missional.” It is a fundamental shift in thinking in which ecclesiology is subordinated to missiology. The church exists exclusively as a means for the accomplishment of the so-called missio Dei. Therefore, everything the church does should be missional and should engage the culture for the sake of winning people to Christ. Of course, if “everything” the church does ought to be missional, then this will logically impact corporate worship. When the church gathers for corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, what is occurring in that meeting and who is being addressed? The missional movement says that worship ought to be evangelistic and that the service should not only edify the saints but also address unbelievers. I have written a paper in which I critique this view. I have chosen to interact with

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