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Why Gathering with the Church On the Weekend Matters

We need some terminology shifts in our discussion about weekend gatherings of the church. First of all, the word "attendance" implies that church is an event that we support and make happen with our attendance. But church isn't an event. And while the church is "local" in its expression, it isn't defined by a building or a location either. Church is people. The church is a covenant people who are united by our belief in Jesus, our baptism, and by communion, and we commonly …

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You’ve Been Called Out

I wasn't exactly Mr. Athlete as a kid, so when we played sports in school or in the neighborhood and captains started picking teams, I usually wasn't first choice... or second or third. But when it comes to my role as a member of God's kingdom, the Bible says I'm part of a people that God has chosen and called out for a special task. We've been recruited to turn the world upside down. Peter put it this way, "However, you are chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy …

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Why Talk About Money at Church?

As a Pastor, I'm well aware of how many people have the assumption that "all Pastors want to talk about is money." The funny thing is, after twenty years in ministry and communicating regularly with thousands of pastors, I can firmly assert that talking about money is one of our least favorite things to do, especially in our culture where personal finances are very... personal. But the Apostle Paul wrote to a younger Pastor in Ephesus named Timothy once and told him to …

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Harsh Realities Facing Today’s Church

About 100,000 churches will be dead in a decade and a half. That's somewhere around one fourth of the churches that exist in America today. Personally, I don't believe "the church" is dying, but the overall health of the church in America will be drastically hindered by the disappearance of so many local bodies. Thom Rainer agrees, and I think he's well-qualified to speak to the issue. He recently wrote really great little book called Autopsy of a Dead Church. Everybody …

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Three Pillars of a Strong, Dynamic Ministry

When it comes to leading a strong ministry and building a healthy church, it takes more than solid theology or smart strategy. In fact, it takes a combination of those, plus the Spirit's leading and empowerment. I think of these three as pillars of a dynamic ministry. Every church needs to be led by a Pastor with a strong ecclesiology - a strong theology of church and mission. Out of our ecclesiology flows our mission, in fact. The mission doesn't change. Jesus defined it …

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How to Bring Joy to Your City

I love that part of the story of the early church in which God allows persecution to scatter the Christians from Jerusalem like ants. The Bible says that everywhere they went, they preached the gospel (see Acts chapter 8). Phillip, in particular, headed to a city in Samaria and became the earliest cross-cultural missionary. When he preached there, the citizens listened and embraced Jesus. The Bible sums it up by saying, "So there was great joy in that city." (Acts 8:8 …

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When the Church Is Working Right

I believe that Jesus was the first church planter. I realize that most evangelicals refer to the Day of Pentecost as the "birthday of the church," but the church was really born as Jesus began gathering His earliest disciples, and the plan and strategy for the church had been in existence for eternity already. Jesus gathered a few guys with him at the beginning of His ministry and poured Himself into them. He would often address large throngs but would then retreat into …

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Everybody Belongs, Starting with You

Everybody belongs. When we say everybody, we mean every color, every shape, every personality, and people with every kind of story imaginable. Everyone belongs, even before they believe. It's sad that we have to expound on the word "everybody" to make sure people know that we mean everybody. This is the fourth core value of Grace Hills, and like the others, it is rooted both in our understanding of the biblical role of the church as well as our overarching passion for …

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The Abiding Church: Calling Church Leaders Back to Jesus

When I first moved back to northwest Arkansas to plant a church, not everyone understood. Even quite a few church leaders wondered why the neighborhood needed another church. But Nate Sweeney embraced us and has encouraged us all along the way. I so appreciate his ministry in northwest Arkansas, and I'm excited about the release of his first book, The Abiding Church. Nate Sweeney has walked through a plethora of leadership issues in his young life, transitioning a church …

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Eight Questions for Churches at a Life and Death Cultural Crossroads

One of our core values at Grace Hills is, "We stay fast, fluid, and flexible. There are no sacred cows. We embrace the pain of change for the win of seeing more people meeting Jesus." I wrote that one knowing that of all of our other core values, it would probably be the hardest to honor over the long haul. It addresses the crossroads where theology meets psychology, where truth, mission, and fear intermingle. Change is hard. The American evangelical church is in a rather …

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