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Category: Ministry and Leadership

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    A recent check on Amazon.com discovered that over 25,000 books are listed under the category of Church Growth. This is an amazing number of books given the fact that the North American Church Growth Movement is only forty-one years old. With such a large number of books written on the topic of church growth, it is only natural to ask if there is any consensus on what factors are found in growing churches in North America. What are those factors? I thought you’d never ask!

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    One of the little known facts of church growth is that pastors can stay too long. Long pastoral tenure can actually harm the growth of a church. Generally, the first twenty years of a pastor’s tenure are quite healthy, but it is very rare for a pastor to lead a church through a third decade with vitality and growth.

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    ¿Por qué las cosas son como son? ¿Dónde está Dios cuando el mundo lo ignora a Él y a sus principios? Cuando Dios actúa, ¿por qué hace Él lo que hace? Todos nos hemos hecho alguna vez preguntas difíciles respecto a Dios y a nuestra fe. En muchas ocasiones, lo que vemos aparentemente no concuerda con lo que creemos acerca de Dios. ¿Qué hacer en estas circunstancias? En Habacuc encontramos un libro bíblico que nos muestra un modelo para enfrentar estos momentos y acrecentar nuestra fe en el Dios que sostiene el universo con su poder.

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    Peter Drucker wrote that in our knowledge-based society, information is the key resource and building block for every type of organization. Information is the new money, currency upon which organizations rise or fall. How may a local church respond to the new currency of information in today's world?

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    Good doctrine, good fellowship, good worship, and good prayer. Do they guarantee the growth of a church? Not necessarily. Sometimes churches do not do well, even though they have the basic ingredients. So, what's the problem? For some, it's a lack of communication to those in and outside the church.

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    You don't have a second chance for a good first impression. When it comes to first-time guests at your church, that statement is especially true. And it's that first impression guests leave with that determines whether they will be back. So, what is it that goes into a good first impression? Or, for that matter, a bad one?

  • Ben Shin — 

    I love my office. There are many reasons that I love my office. One is that I can store the many books that I own in there. Second, it is a place for study or reading in a quiet setting. But what I love most is that my office is a place for ministry and discipleship to occur. In other words, it is a safe place to meet students who are not only facing the challenges of academia but also the hardships of life. For this reason, the value of my office hours is priceless!

  • Dave Keehn — 

    There is a pressure that is constantly battling around us to give people whatever they want. When you are younger it was labeled peer pressure. However, as we grow older the peer pressures continues throughout life, we just call them “Expectations”…

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    Often times it seems that harder the church tries to be relevant, the more irrelevant we become. The Bible is full of this kind of upside down logic. The self-clingers lose themselves, the prideful end up humbled, those jostling to be first end last, and, now it seems, those trying the hardest to be relevant end up most irrelevant. Thaddeus Williams explores what happens when the church puts relevance to culture ahead of reverence to Christ.

  • Ben Shin — 

    Looking over a resume in order to hire a person for ministry can be trickier than one realizes at first. This is especially true because they typically want to give the benefit of the doubt to one’s accomplishments and experiences as listed on a resume. However, it has been the experience of this writer that what is often listed on a resume may not actually be the truth. There are those who like to “stretch” the information or possibly “embellish” the facts to point in favor of the applicant. Then there are those who just flat out lie about who they really are and what they’ve done. This blog will highlight some clues or signs of “red flags” that may show up in ministry resumes.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Breaking up may be hard to do, but starting over in ministry can be scary. No one enjoys change and often our worst mistakes happen in the stress of transitions.

  • Ben Shin — 

    Forming the right kind of pastoral staff or leadership team can be a very challenging endeavor. Getting the right people to work together for the long run is much more difficult than people imagine. Sometimes great individual leaders do not necessarily mean they will work well together in a team. So, how can this be remedied? But before this question can be asked, there is another important preliminary question that needs to be raised. What elements need to be in place or need to match in order to build a strong and cohesive staff? This blog will examine three aspects that need to match well in order to build a good, strong, and cohesive staff.

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Recuerdo que el pastor de la iglesia donde crecí repetía constantemente esta frase “el amor es un producto de la voluntad”. Estas palabras se convirtieron en una expresión común en la iglesia y se mencionaban constantemente en diferentes contextos. Me parece que lo que el pastor quería comunicar era que la acción de amar está basada principalmente en una decisión y no solamente en emociones. Nuestras emociones cambian, pero cuando decidimos amar a Dios y a nuestro prójimo independientemente de nuestro estado de ánimo entonces estamos así cumpliendo la ley de Cristo. Estoy de acuerdo con la idea general, pero creo que el amor va mucho más allá de nuestra voluntad. El amor se centra en la persona de Dios y nosotros tenemos el gran privilegio de participar y demostrar el amor divino.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    This post is for people who are praying seriously about the possibility of serving overseas in long-term cross-cultural missions. It may help you assess where you presently stand in terms of “readiness” for such a ministry assignment.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    There is poignant scene in the movie “Amazing Grace” that pans onto a country field in which William Wilberforce is lying on the wet grass contemplating the magnificence of God. He is mesmerized by the dew on a spider web as evidence of God’s handiwork. In this instant he feels the inner tension between staying in the moment, meditating on God and returning to ongoing struggle in politics. He cannot discern which is better: to sit in solitude with God or enter the realm of politics where he is seeking to bring God’s justice? It is only later that some abolitionist ministers suggest that he could do both: seek to be with God and serve God – at the same time. It is this special combination that I believe is the key to living for God’s Kingdom - not at a glorious future in heaven above, but now in this broken world in need of God’s redeeming justice and hope!

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    What are spiritual gifts, really? Andrew Faris posted an interview with me on this question at the "Christians in Context" blog.

  • Ben Shin — 

    I am very excited to announce that Talbot School of Theology will be launching a new Doctor of Ministry track in Asian-American Ministry in June of 2013. This is a 2-week residency that will run from June 3rd to the 14th, 2013. This track will be taught and guided by some of the most experienced leaders, instructors, and practitioners in Asian-American ministry. The track is geared towards anyone who pastors or leads Asian-Americans in a church or parachurch.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I recently discovered something about Nehemiah that I had never noticed before. There are lots of hints in the biblical book that bears his name that Nehemiah was a person who lived with an ongoing awareness of the presence of the Lord, and who highly valued the importance of communion with God.

  • Klaus Issler — 

    The Christmas story is about Jesus being born into the family of Mary and Joseph. Have you ever considered what other options there were for which type of family Jesus could have been born into? We could explore these possibilities by asking, “What early life experiences do we think could best prepare Jesus for his later public ministry?” Let me suggest a context for this kind of musing. Imagine you were invited to observe that special planning session in eternity past when the Godhead considered creating this world and mapping out a plan for our redemption. Of course this couldn’t happen, but pretend this divine session was like one of our committee meetings. The topic on “today’s” agenda is “What is the best early life experience preparation for Jesus to be formed for his distinctive divine-human role as Messiah and Savior of the world?”

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    “Al mundo paz nació Jesús” es el inicio de un popular villancico navideño que resume magistralmente esta temporada de fiesta por la llegada del Hijo de Dios entre nosotros. La navidad celebra el cumplimiento de la promesa de la venida del Príncipe de paz (Is. 9:6). La segunda persona de la trinidad se hizo hombre y habitó entre nosotros para después darnos vida a través de su sacrificio expiatorio en la cruz. Por lo tanto, la navidad es un acontecimiento digno de celebrarse.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I just came across a 230 year old letter that is loaded with wisdom, love, zeal, and grace from an experienced "pastor" to a new "pastor."

  • Nell Sunukjian — 

    The colors and smells of fall have arrived, even here in southern California. Red, yellow, gold and peach-colored roses, fresh from my garden, are tucked into a round pumpkin. Homemade pumpkin bread, smelling of cinnamon and ginger is fresh from the oven and ready to be tucked into our mouths. Thanksgiving is almost here.

  • Ben Shin — 

    Life can be busy. This just seems to be a reality of life. And especially within the Christian world, busyness sometimes seems to translate into godliness. I have known this to be true in my own life. I have the privilege to teach each week at the seminary and interact with students and colleagues regarding very important eternal matters. I also served as the lead pastor of a church on a “part-time” basis. I’m married with two little boys who were always wanting daddy’s time. And I was finishing my dissertation for my doctorate. Just a little busy!

  • Erik Thoennes — 

    The recent statistics released by The Pew Forum on Religious & Public Life showing a decline among Americans who consider themselves religious are sure to alarm many concerned about the spiritual state of the nation. For evangelicals, the most potentially jarring of these statistics shows that for the first time in its history the United States does not have a Protestant majority. The study found that about 20% of Americans say they have no religious affiliation, an increase from 15% in the last five years. The sobering reality in all this for evangelicals is that, although our churches continue to grow, our evangelistic effectiveness has significantly lagged behind the US population growth. This study is a clear challenge to evangelicals to live up to our name and proclaim the good news in a culture where we can no longer assume common theological foundations. Evangelical Christians have to learn to preach the gospel in a culture where we are no longer part of the Protestant majority. This is not necessarily a bad thing though. A few observations about the data shows that the picture is not as bleak as it may seem.

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    El Espíritu Santo es esencial para la vida y enseñanza cristiana. De hecho, no creo exagerar al afirmar que sin la ayuda y poder del Espíritu Santo todos nuestros esfuerzos tanto para agradar a Dios como para enseñar a otros a hacerlo carecen de sentido y, por lo tanto, los resultados son insignificantes. Desgraciadamente, en muchas ocasiones el Espíritu Santo es olvidado, minimizado o incluso relevado a solamente una teoría teológica que creemos porque se encuentra en la Biblia, pero que no tiene ninguna relevancia en nuestra vida diaria. De hecho, llegué a escuchar a un profesor de un seminario afirmar que muchos cristianos de forma práctica creen que la santa trinidad está compuesta por el Padre, el Hijo y las Santas Escrituras. De esta manera, la presencia del Espíritu Santo es totalmente olvidada.