How individualism corrupts mission (Doug Ponder): In an individualistic culture, relationships are simply not the primary lens for understanding identity. And that’s a problem because individualism negatively impacts three areas critical to the Great Commission. Read more at the International Mission Board (IMB).
If the gospel is true, the gospel is urgent (Jen Oshman): Christ in us has something to say. As vessels of the risen God, you and I have living hope to offer our friends in every conversation. This living hope, though, can somehow get stuck in our throats. We hesitate and hem and haw, inwardly wondering if we’ll alienate our friends by bringing up the God who made them. Read more at JenOshman.com.
Don’t mistake transfer growth for evangelism (Michael Niebauer): “Our numbers are down.” Few words have inspired more dejection among American pastors. For many, the emotional ups and downs of their labors are tethered to the attendance figures of Sunday mornings and ministry events. This fixation on numbers plagues churches of all shapes and sizes. Some may acknowledge that such ups and downs are unhealthy—even ungodly—yet they still can’t help being downcast when attendance flags. For those who wish to break their unhealthy fixation on numbers, the challenge is answering this question: How do I become less obsessed with numbers while also taking seriously the call to evangelize? Read more at The Gospel Coalition.
9 reasons why I am excited about evangelism today (Chuck Lawless): This post may surprise you. I know that culture is increasingly anti-Christian, and the work of the gospel ministry faces new challenges every day. On the other hand, I’m excited about doing evangelism today. Here’s why. Read more at ChuckLawless.com.
“Don’t wrestle with pigs” (thoughts on handling criticism)(Scott Sauls): I hate it when people criticize me. Yet being criticized is to be expected when you are an influencer or a leader. Even the best parents routinely get criticized by their children, bosses by their employees, coaches by their players, athletes and artists by their fans, teachers by their students, and pastors by their congregants. If we are unable to handle criticism, we may want to consider doing something different with our lives. Read more at ScottSauls.com.
Why “We need to reach the young people” might distract your church (Mike Leake): “If you don’t reach young people, your church is going to die.” I have heard that sentiment quite frequently when thought leaders (whatever those are) get together and discuss revitalization in local churches. Logically it’s absolutely true. If an organization does not perpetuate it will not survive into the next generation. It is right for a church to be concerned if they only have gray heads. But there is an underlying theology within this statement which I believe will lead to death instead of life. Read more at MikeLeake.net.
How to shepherd people through the eye of a needle (Ross Lester): I used to find people with lots of money intimidating, but God has been teaching me what it looks like to serve and lead them. What follows are simple observations, but they’ve been learned through seasons of pain and frustration. Though I’m by no means an expert, I hope these 13 principles will prove useful. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.
5 indicators of a healthy and transforming soul care ministry (Garrett Higbee): Soul care as I refer to it includes both preventative biblical care and more formal biblical counsel. When I think about the simplest definition of biblical counseling, I often define it as “speaking the truth in love with growing compassion and skill.” The philosophy of biblical soul care emphasizes that every believer can be a wise counselor. In fact, I would argue that we all counsel ourselves daily. We also counsel others in our circle of influence. The question is not if we counsel; it is how we counsel. Is our self-talk biblical? Is our advice to our friends biblical (Prov. 27:9)? Read more at the Biblical Counseling Coalition.
Leave behind the weariness of bitterness (Jon Bloom): Here’s the real danger: the indignance we feel toward injustice — the way we’re supposed to feel toward injustice — can metastasize into bitterness in our soul toward God and his apparent lack of concern and willingness to take action against injustice. This can turn us “brutish and ignorant” (Psalm 73:22), leading us to fall away from God (Hebrews 3:12) or to distort his word into saying what it does not say, because in our lack of faith, we cannot bear it. Few things drive us to twist the Scriptures like the problem we have with evil and the pain it can cause us or those we love. This is a “root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit” (Deuteronomy 29:18) that defiles many, as Hebrews warns us (Hebrews 12:15). Read more at Desiring God.
These cuts are leading us to Christ (Brianna Lambert): When the Holy Spirit descended into our hearts, he came with a scalpel. As saints justified by Christ’s blood, we are constantly being sanctified while we await the presence of Christ and the glorification of our souls. This sanctification in the middle is not always easy, and certain periods of our lives often feel too burdensome. Does God know what he’s doing? Why is my growth so slow? Is this pain doing something? In these times, we find hope in understanding the work of the Spirit and his purpose in our lives. Read more at Gospel-Centered Discipleship.
11 signs of hope for a declining church (Chuck Lawless): Many churches in North America are plateaued or declining. Given that reality, many church leaders need signs of hope today. Here are signs I’ve seen in churches that moved beyond the plateau to growth. Read more at ChuckLawless.com.