Category Archives: Church

Practical Ideas to Reach Your Community

Book Review: Loving Your Community: Proven Practices for Community-Based Outreach Ministry, by Stephen Viars

Stephen Viars has pastored a large church in Indiana for the past 30+ years. In addition, he serves as a biblical counselor and frequent speaker at conferences, colleges, and seminaries. His latest book, Loving Your Community: Proven Practices for Community-Based Outreach Ministry, is written from his experience in trying to reach his community with the gospel.

In the introduction, he lays out the idea of taking the gospel to the streets. Rather than waiting for the world to come to the church, the church needs to take the gospel to the world. According to the author, the first step is in trying to craft ministries and programs that meet the needs of the surrounding community.

In Part 1, the author presents “The Biblical Foundation of Community-Based Ministry.” Playing off the title of the book, he addresses Loving in the name of Christ, Meeting Your community’s pressing needs, and Caring for the welfare of you Community. It is a thoroughly biblical approach to serving as an ambassador for Christ in today’s culture.

In Part 2, the author presents “The Practice of Community-Based Ministry.” He describes several ways churches can meet the needs of the community. He includes offering counseling to those who are hurting, opening the church facilities for community events and needs, offering practical classes, taking surveys of the community to determine their needs, partnering with the city to develop parks and/or community centers, and offering residential treatment programs. He gives specific examples of how his church has done these things and the testimonies of those who have been touched and impacted by the programs.

In Part 3, the author addresses “The Challenges of Church-Based Ministries.” The author tries to answer the common questions and objections that might be raised, as well as providing encouragement on how to get started. He made a point to explain that community-based outreach is not a reinvention of the social gospel movement. Rather than redefining the gospel, these ministries “create compassionate platforms for addressing social need so that the gospel may be clearly and powerfully proclaimed.”

On the one hand, it would be easy to dismiss the book and ideas as something that you need to be in a larger church to do. On the other hand, the author provides practical encouragement to start small. Take one idea and implement it rather than trying to do everything. If God lays it on your heart to be part of this type of ministry, the book will give you ideas on what you might consider doing and how to get started.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review.

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Posted by on January 18, 2020 in Books, Church, Evangelism


Cyber Church

Does a church’s online presence encourage people not to attend church? Does a cyber church contribute to the decline of church attendance?

That was the question posed by one of my Regent University students in her term paper for BIBL 230 Theological Research and Writing. Her conclusion is that a church’s online presence is one of the contributing factors to the decline in church attendance.

The benefits of a cyber church or a church’s online presence is that it can help promote the services, ministries, activities, and values of the church. Having sermons available online can minister to shut-ins and those who are physically unable to attend. A good church website can whet people’s appetite for coming events or make them feel like they missed something worthwhile.

The downside of a good church website is that it can make people feel like they don’t need to attend the church. They can substitute knowledge for relationships. By watching a video of the worship service or viewing the pictures from an event, a person could feel like they were present vicariously and did not need to be there in person.

In commenting on my students’ paper, I mentioned that I have seen both the good and bad of an online presence. On the positive side, I have had individuals mention recently that they listened to my sermons on the church website, liked what they heard, and were convinced they needed to attend the church. On the negative side, I have also had folks say that they read my sermon outline or the summary of my message which I posted on my blog and decided that it was enough and they didn’t need to be there in person to hear the entire message.

I am currently preaching through the book of Hebrews. A few weeks back, we examined Hebrews 10:24-25 which stresses the fact that we should not avoid meeting together as is the habit of some, but that we need to be present in order to encourage one another.

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.

Don’t let a cyber church, pastor’s blog, podcast, Instagram photo, or anything else become a substitute for corporate worship. Join the people of God and worship Christ together. Practice the “one another” commands of the New Testament.

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Posted by on December 20, 2019 in Church, Culture, Hebrews, Regent University, Scripture



For several years now, I have seen spots before my eyes. In non-technical terms, they are “eye floaters.” My doctor said it was nothing to be worried about. He said that as we age, the fluid in our eyes can dry or harden and the small pieces begin to clump together and float. Generally, they are transparent, but occasionally they will catch the light and appear as shadows in your vision. Most of the time, I don’t see them, but depending on what type or color of background or wall I’m looking at, I will become aware of them.

As a pastor, I am aware of a different type of floater. These are people who float in and out of the church and never seem to attach or connect. One group of floaters are those who float in and out from week to week. Perhaps they attend once or twice a month and yet consider your place their church home. Another type is even more sporadic in their attendance, floating between your church and their cabin in the woods or camping at the lake. Still others are what are termed as CEOs—Christmas & Easter Only. They show up during the holidays and are gone for several weeks and months before turning up again.

Another group of floaters are those who come into the church excited and enthusiastic. They love the preaching and the music. They gush about the programs. They want to be discipled. They desire to serve. Over time, they may even become members. But then one day, you realize you haven’t seen them for several weeks. Apparently, their roots were too shallow and they drifted away. On very few occasions, they will say “goodbye” and explain why they are leaving. Perhaps it was a perceived slight or offense. Perhaps they didn’t have as much influence as they were hoping for. Maybe the pastor didn’t greet them or the worship leader didn’t incorporate their favorite song into the worship set. More often than not, they simply floated away without saying anything. It’s only later that you begin to notice their absence and wonder, “Whatever happened to so-and-so?”

Floaters in the eyes may be a natural part of aging. On occasion, however, it could be a sign of something more serious that needs to be checked and corrected. Floaters in the church may be a reflection of our culture and our lack of commitment and connection. On occasion, however, it could be a sign of a weakness in the church or the individual that needs to be checked or corrected.

If your eyes have floaters, talk to your doctor. If your church has floaters, ask the people graciously why they stopped attending. If there is something that needs to be corrected and/or healed, do what you can to fix the problem. If you are a floater, get counsel from a trusted friend as to what is holding you back from committing yourself to a church body.

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Posted by on November 25, 2019 in Church, Culture


Why attend church?

“Why should I attend church?” This question came up at a recent pastor’s gathering. We discussed how we would answer someone if they posed the question. Here’s a few of the reasons we came up with:

  • The church is God’s instrument to reach the world.
  • Hebrews 10:24-25 commands us not to neglect meeting together.
  • The “one another” commands of the New Testament are hard to practice if you are by yourself.
  • As members of the Body of Christ, we have a mutual responsibility to one another.
  • Christianity is meant to be lived corporately, not just individually.

In addition, this article by Peter Adam gives “11 Reasons Why You Need to Belong to a Church.”

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Posted by on October 9, 2019 in Church, Scripture


Sign of the times

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Posted by on September 9, 2019 in Church, Photos


Cell phones and the Call of God

This notice can now be found in French churches:

En entrant dans cette église, il est possible que vous entendiez l’appel de Dieu. Par contre, il n’est pas susceptible de vous contacter par téléphone. Merci d’avoir éteint votre téléphone. Si vous souhaitez parler à Dieu, entrez, choisissez un endroit tranquille et parle lui. Si vous souhaitez le voir, envoyez-lui un SMS en conduisant.

Translation: It is possible that on entering this church, you may hear the Call of God. On the other hand, it is not likely that he will contact you by phone. Thank you for turning off your phone. If you would like to talk to God, come in, choose a quiet place, and talk to him. If you would like to see him, send him a text while driving.

(Thanks to Barb S for posting this on Facebook)

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Posted by on August 14, 2019 in Church, Culture


Coming this fall to First Central

Below is a letter mailed out to the congregation of First Central Bible Church profiling four events and programs coming this fall to the church.