Category Archives: Church

Levels of Evangelism

Levels of Evangelism

Gary L. McIntosh, Growing God’s Church: How People Are Actually Coming to Faith Today


    Persuasion Evangelism

Goal: Helping others become disciples of Jesus Christ.

Evaluation: How many people have become lifelong followers of Jesus Christ?

Proclamation Evangelism

Goal: Helping others hear about and decided to believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

Evaluation: How many people have believed?

Presence Evangelism

Goal: Helping others in the name of the Lord

Evaluation: How many people have been helped?



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Posted by on December 2, 2017 in Church, Evangelism, Quotes


A balanced approach to ministry

Do we share the gospel or do we feed the hungry? Do we pour our efforts into evangelism or digging wells for clean water? The nature of these questions assumes an either/or answer. However, as Dr. Gary McIntosh explains, we need a holistic approach to ministry, but one which keeps sharing the gospel as the first among equals.

Our priority to proclaim the gospel of salvation to all the nations does not mean we should ignore serving our communities or mankind. Service without proclamation and proclamation without service are both futile. It is the gospel preached and lived that impacts humanity and society with power. Both need to be preserved, and the church must practice both. In truth it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to disentangle preaching and service. Preaching the gospel of salvation must be done among the people, not just to the people. Yet it must also be admitted that the best service the church can render to humanity is the proclamation of the gospel of salvation. Numerous nonprofit organizations, Christian and non-Christian, address social justice issues around the world. But only the church is called to proclaim salvation in Jesus Christ.

What makes the church unique is not its good deeds but its message of salvation in Jesus Christ. If we feed the hungry today but fail to preach the gospel of salvation and thereby see few or none turning to Christ, those we feed will ultimately die in their sins. They may be well fed, but they will go into eternity apart from Christ. The ultimate service is to win souls, whereby they go into eternity as children of God.

Gary L. McIntosh, Growing God’s Church: How People Are Actually Coming to Faith Today

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Posted by on December 1, 2017 in Church, Evangelism, Ministry, Quotes


Keep the sea out of the ship

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Posted by on October 26, 2017 in Church, Quotes, Tim Challies


It’s not you, Pastor

It’s not you, Pastor, but … I need a change … I don’t feel connected … I’m not inspired … the Holy Spirit is leading me … I have different convictions about leadership … I don’t fit … I don’t agree with the vision … I don’t want to be tied to one church … the church doesn’t need me … but it’s not personal.

Why is it that when I hear someone is leaving the church and their reasons start with, “It’s not you, it’s me …” I immediately feel like it’s my fault. I feel like I just received the ecclesiastical “Dear John …” letter. “I think we should see other churches. Let’s just be friends.”

I guess my feelings fit in with Jim Collins “the window and the mirror” concept in his book, Good to Great. During times of prosperity and success, the leader looks out the window and praises the efforts of the people. During times of difficulty and challenge, the leader looks in the mirror and wonders what he could do better.

How can I lead more effectively? How can I inspire, encourage, and challenge people to grow? How can I keep the flock from scattering?

While I know my task is to focus on pleasing God rather than people, it still feels very personal when someone says, “It’s not you, Pastor, but …”

Ah, the challenges of leading a church. SIGH!

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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Church, Ministry, Passion, Personal growth


A book that doesn’t live up to its title

Book Review: The Light is Winning: why religion just might bring us back to life, by Zach Hoag

I did not like the book. The book did not live up to its title. The book describes the flaws of a narrow slice of legalistic Christianity rather than stories of the benefits of religious practices. I do not recommend the book. These four statements summarize my evaluation of Zach Hoag’s latest book, The Light is Winning: why religion just might bring us back to life.

The author’s purpose is stated on p. 28, “…the decline of Christian faith in America is not a problem to be solved but an opportunity to be embraced.” However, he never develops that idea but instead spends the bulk of the book, fully two-thirds, describing his journey from growing up in an apocalyptic cult in east Texas to an overbearing, controlling father to a legalistic Calvinistic Baptist Church to planting a church that would ultimately fail. If anyone has a reason to quit the church, it’s him. You come away feeling sad for the author.

Despite describing the problems of American Christianity, he doesn’t really give a solution to the problem. He spends a few pages saying that the church needs more Jesus, specifically that we need to spend more time in the Gospels than the rest of Scripture. He spends a few pages extolling the virtues of Methodist traditions and rituals and how they helped him recover from his failed church plant. However, he never gets to the title of the book until the last chapter and never truly develops why he believes there is hope for the church or American Christianity. In between, he peppers his ideas with illustrations from HBO TV shows.

My guess is that the book is aimed at a younger generation than mine, and certainly not aimed at a long-term pastor like myself. I did not agree with all the endorsements inside the front cover.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on June 24, 2017 in Books, Church, Quotes


The 14-Minute Business Meeting

Last night, First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, held our semi-annual business meeting. Jim, our moderator, asked me to open in prayer at 7:01PM. After reading the minutes from the last meeting, voting on four nominations for open board positions, hearing an update from Doug on the building renovation project, and me giving an update on our intern, Jack, the meeting was closed in prayer at 7:15PM. A 14-minute church business meeting!

Afterwards, several commented about previous 3-hour, contentious business meetings where we talked in circles and the comments generated more heat than light.

On the one hand, there was nothing significant on our agenda. We will undoubtedly have a much longer meeting this fall when we present the proposal to renovate our building. In fact, we will have several presentations, Q&A sessions, and discussions before the actual vote.

On the other hand, the shortness of the meeting demonstrates the improved health and stability of the church.

  • We started 2017 with a financial deficit and our giving is now ahead of budget.
  • There is greater confidence in and trust of the leadership. I have now been here five years and we have elders, deacons, and deaconesses who are all functioning in their respective roles.
  • We are stable and headed in the right direction.

That being said, there was still a fair amount of slack-jawed amazement when the moderator asked J to close in prayer. 😉


Practical advice on growing a church

Book Review: When Your Church Feels Stuck: 7 Unavoidable Questions Every Leader Must Answer, by Chris Sonksen

What does a pastor do when his church is not growing and the attendance is plateaued? What questions should he be asking? Where can he find answers?

Chris Sonksen has written a book trying to provide solutions for the problems related to church growth.

I want to encourage you to do the work necessary to create the clear picture and plan that God has for your church. God’s heart is for your church to win—to be a place of life change and transformation and to build a church that lives in the stage of increase.

In chapter one, the author lays the foundation for his approach to diagnosing and solving the problem of why a church isn’t growing. He explains the difference between the “God factor” and the “Leader factor.”

“Jeremy, there are two things you have to realize; there is the God factor and the leader factor. The God factor says ‘We can’t do anything without God.’ Would you agree?” He nodded his head and quietly said, “Yes, I agree.” I went on to say, “The leader factor says that ‘God doesn’t do anything without a leader.’ Now, Jeremy, we both know that God can do whatever he wants; he’s a miracle-working God. But when it comes to building a thriving local church, more often than not God looks for a leader. Would you agree with that, Jeremy?” Again, he quietly said, “Yes, I agree.” I said, “Jeremy, what this means is that we have to be willing to do our part. God will always do his part. He never lets us down and never quits on us. He will always come through. Our part is to be willing to change. Be willing to be honest about where our church is and willing to take it where it needs to go.

I found the second chapter to be the most helpful. Using the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:20-25), Sonksen lays out the principle, “God determines the talent, We determine the choices.” Success is not measured by results, but rather by whether or not we are faithful in using the gifts God has given us.

The bulk of the book identifies and explains 7 questions that pastors need to ask about their church:

  1. Mission: What do we do?
  2. Strategy: How do we get it done?
  3. Values: What are the guiding principles we live by?
  4. Metrics: How do we measure a win?
  5. Team Alignment: Do we have the right people in the right seats moving the in the right direction?
  6. Culture: How do we change the culture of our church?
  7. Services: How do we match what we say is important and what we really do?

The strength of the book is that it gives practical solutions to the difficult challenges of church growth. In that sense, it is a helpful volume. The weakness of the book is that it lays all the emphasis on human effort and tends to leave God out of the equation. While he stresses that success is not determined by numbers and size, he implies that if your church is not growing, then the pastor is failing. Since much of the examples in the book are of the author coaching another pastor through these questions, it tends to be a promotion of the author’s consulting service.

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 May 31, 2017 in Books, Church, Quotes