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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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A Scalable Model for Making Disciples in Small Churches

"The New Testament is the only model we need!" There, I went ahead and said that for you. It's out of the way. For those pastors and church leaders who highly value the New Testament AND actually want to accomplish something meaningful, read on... Every church follows a model. Most of the church leaders who criticize following a model follow a model that tends to criticize models. Follow that? There are traditional models with an age-graded Sunday School, a morning worship …

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Is Discipleship About Growing? Or Going? Yes!

We often use the word discipleship in two different senses. We refer to our personal spiritual growth as discipleship - the process of becoming more like Jesus. But we also use the word to refer to a person or church's ministry of making disciples. So when we talk about discipleship as a purpose of the church, to which are we referring? Both. For me, discipleship has always been and hopefully always be a challenging issue to understand. What I mean is that I don't ever want …

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Imitation Is the Greatest Form of Discipleship

One of the phrases Jesus uttered frequently was "follow me." It's recorded six times in Matthew and seven times in John (probably with a little bit of overlap). Since the gospels only record a tiny sliver of Jesus' life on earth, we can safely presume He issued that invitation to many, many people. And to all potential disciples, He said, "If any of you wants to serve me, then follow me. Then you'll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment's notice. The Father will honor and …

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Would You Willingly Be Executed?

"It's just my cross to bear." I've heard people say that phrase about the dumbest things. We tend to say it about things that annoy us, inconvenience us, or maybe cost us time or money. It reveals that we really haven't a clue what it means to take up our cross. Jesus was about to die a horrific death on a cross. He and all of the apostles knew what that meant. They had grown up under Roman rule, which was fairly free unless someone tried to rebel. Once, an example was made …

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Discipleship Is a Catch-and-Release Process

Jesus stopped a few fishermen one day in the Sea of Galilee and challenged them to turn the world upside down by issuing a simple call... "Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people." (Matthew 4:19, NIV) Many have taught about how the disciples left their careers behind to follow Jesus into full-time ministry that day, but they forget the other instances of the disciples fishing for fish later in the gospels. It wasn't a career change or the sacrifice of a …

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Spiritual Maturity Is a Pathway We Walk Together

God created you to be like His Son, Jesus Christ, and He has a pathway for you to walk on the way to spiritual maturity. Nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus formed a community of people who could walk this pathway together and He called it a church. Today, spotting the globe are hundreds of thousands of churches walking the pathway to spiritual maturity together. Why? Because God never intended you to walk the pathway to being like Jesus alone. Far too many people …

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Andy Stanley: The Church Can Be Deep and Wide

A little over a year ago, Angie and I started planting Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas, and one of our biggest hopes is that it's a church that unchurched people love to attend. So Andy Stanley's newest book, Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend caught my attention. I pre-ordered it and devoured it once it arrived. I found the book to be both deep... and wide. Andy opens with the deeply personal side of how North Point Ministries …

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Doing Discipleship Post-Resurrection Style

I've heard plenty of talk about discipleship and multiplication recently, and it usually goes something like this... If you want to make disciples the way Jesus wants, you have to do it the way Jesus did it. And Jesus, in His earthly ministry, chose only a few people, weeded out those who weren't true followers, and avoided letting crowds follow him. Therefore, discipleship is one-on-one, takes a year and a half, and doesn't involve seeing masses of people come to know …

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Sacrifice Everything For Buried Treasure

Last night, I spent some time with the Association of Baptist Students at The Hedge, their Tuesday night gathering. I talked about going "all in for the kingdom" and shared from the parables Jesus told about the value of discovering the rule and reign of Christ over all things. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the …

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