The Best Team Ever

I am a proud member of God’s team. That puts me on the winning team. He has called me and equipped me for one purpose—to serve Him. If you are a follower of Christ, God has extended the call to you as well. He has uniquely equipped you for service and ministry. We serve His church and His kingdom. Are you serving? What are your unique “gifts”? How are you using those gifts to accomplish God’s purpose?

If you are a big fan of football, and I am, you understand that it is the team that wins games; not the player. Sometimes I wonder if we forget this principle when it comes to ministry in the church. Service and ministry in and through the local church is not for the few and the proud. God calls and equips ALL of his people to service and ministry in HIS church and in HIS kingdom. We need to work together to accomplish God’s plan. We are better together. We can accomplish more, together.

It is the coach that calls the plays, not the players – We are SO busy! Our calendars are full. Our church calendars are full. It seems there is no margin in our lives for the most important things. We are busy doing lots of good things that we miss opportunities to accomplish great things for God, together. What is God calling you and your church to accomplish together in your community? Let Him call the play and you do your part to the best of your ability.

Just some thoughts…

  1. Listen to God. Obey Him. Do what He wants you to do.
  2. Work with others. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Ask them, let’s do it together.
  3. Mentor others. People need help in knowing what their next step is in becoming a servant for God. Give them a job. Encourage them and brag on them. Help them succeed.

It is not about us. It is all about God. Let’s take the field (football lingo) and accomplish great things for God—together.

Six Questions for people who are growing spiritually

Do you remember the envelope system? Of course you would place your tithe or offering in the envelope but you also had to check the boxes. Did you bring your Bible? Did you read your lesson? And so on. There were at least six questions you were asked to check every week. Maybe, that’s something we need to bring back. If so, here would be my suggestion.

Did you read your Bible regularly this week?

Did you tithe this week?

Did you pray regularly this week?

Did you have a gospel conversation with someone this week?

Did you perform a random act of kindness towards someone this week?

Did you attend Worship AND Sunday School this week?

What is a spiritually growing person supposed to be involved in every week? What habits or regular activities are they supposed to be engaged in? Asking these questions is not designed to judge people but simply to remind people what is involved in growing spiritually.

I suppose the reason the envelope is not still around is because someone “felt” judged by others and thought these questions were too intrusive. I don’t know. But this I do know, if we don’t start teaching, equipping and encouraging people to do these things, how are we supposed to expect them to grow?

I’m just saying!

BE Different

Don’t just make a difference; we need to BE the difference!

I walked into McDonalds to go to the bathroom and get a large drink. Little did I know that I would encounter a rude and angry customer berating the people behind the counter. Other customers just moved out of the way. He never got physical but his rant seemed to be over the top. The manager did an excellent job of trying to manage the customer’s anger and bring resolution to his issue. Even after the manager met his demands, he continued to complain.

I spoke up. I wasn’t angry or hostile, I just simply told him he had made his point and it was time to move on. Unexpectedly, he stopped yelling and simply left. I went to the counter, complimented the manager on her customer relation skills and told the employees behind the counter that I appreciated them. Oh and by the way, they messed up my order but I didn’t say anything. (NOTE: I was so stressed out I ordered a strawberry shake and got chocolate instead).

All around us we hear anger. The cry of the victim is all around us. Some of it real and some of it simply based on perception. We begin to feel mistreated, misunderstood or cheated. We feel tempted to join in on the tirade and give people a piece of our mind. We display it in road rage on the highways. We see it in hotels, restaurants, stores, shops and so much more.

BUT, shouldn’t we be different. 27 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either.
30 Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. 31 Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them
. Luke 6:27-31 (HCSB)

This passage is not about letting people rule your life. It’s about an attitude that we as Christians should I have. God is first, others are next, then my own needs. Wouldn’t you like to be treated that way as well?

Three things you should know when you share the gospel

Why is it so hard to have a conversation with a lost person about the gospel? Honestly, it’s never easy. Please know this, God wants you to tell others your story. He wants others to hear how He changed your life so that they can know how to experience that same kind of relationship with Almighty God. Let’s take a look at some of the dynamics at work when we share the gospel.

There is a Spiritual Battle – In the spiritual realm, there is a battle raging for the soul of mankind. Satan wants to keep as many souls as possible out of heaven. At the same time, God continues to direct our lives into divine encounters that draws others to himself in an eternal relationship with Him. We may not see the battle that rages for the souls of those we encounter; but know it is always there. (Ephesians 6:12)

It’s your words, but God’s message – We get hung up on saying the “right” thing, knowing the “right” words. While you are debating the words to use, God is already at work in your heart and mind. While you are talking, God is at work in the heart and mind of the person you are sharing with. Trust me, they are hearing the gospel even if our words are not as “perfect” as we would like them to be. Don’t misunderstand me, attending classes and training seminars on how to share your faith are important. Do what you can to improve your witness. Just don’t overlook the work that the Spirit of God is doing in our lives and in the lives of those we share with.

Just Share – I have had the privilege of training lots of people in sharing their faith. On every visit, I encourage those with me to take a leap of faith and just try. I am always there to bail them out if needed. However, in all of these years, I have never had to. When it is all over, I almost always hear these words, “thanks for giving me the opportunity to share”.

You need someone to go with you? Get someone. You need to practice? Find someone. You want to learn how to share your faith? Just do it!

3 Things You Need if You Want to Start a NEW GROUP

The right vision – Before starting a new group the most important question to answer is WHY? Just announcing the new class, finding a new teacher and assigning a room is important to starting new groups, but the real success comes from the why question. Why are you starting the new group? Who are you trying to reach through the new group? How will this help you to reach more people, disciple more people and develop more leaders?

The answer to the why question will be the clarion call to those willing to support the new group and those who will be interested in being a part of the new group. Remember, relationships are fundamental to the small group process but the objective is to make disciples who make disciples. To ignore one or the other is a recipe for disaster.

The right plan – Know your context. The right plan must understand the culture of the group you are trying to reach. I can honestly tell you that every group that I have helped to start was unique. There are principles that apply to every new group you start but the methods are many.

The right plan takes time to develop. Pray through it. Talk about it. Ask questions of existing groups. Discover those not attending a small group or class and probe their thoughts on starting a new class. Take the time to recruit the right leader. Develop the best curriculum plan and discover the best space possible to start the new group.

Great vision without a great plan is the definition of a disaster.

The right person – If God is leading you to start a new group, then He also has the right point person to be a catalyst to the beginning and continuation of the new group. (Hint: when I was on church staff, I kept a list of potential leaders on a sheet of paper that I kept in my Bible). Pray for God to show you the right person. Ask the person to pray for God to show him/her His desire for them and this new group. Spend time with them in prayer, planning and encouragement.

I can’t tell you the best way for you to start a new group but I know the one who does. God can and will lead you to make the best decisions in starting a new group. New groups are a must if you desire for, your church to be healthy and vibrant in your community. However, if you don’t start at least one new group every year, I can tell you that you are headed on a path to decline.

Pray right now and decide to be a catalyst in starting a new group.

Creating a Culture of Invitation in Your Small Group

Is your class or small group OPEN to new members? Is your class or small group EXPECTING new people to attend/join?

The answer to these two questions helps you determine whether or not your class or small group exhibits a “Culture of Invitation.” At the core of why your class or group exists is about making disciples. Our context is a small group of people, gathered around God’s Word and determined to accomplish His purpose. It’s about people. Our focus is on God and fulfilling His purpose, but our target is people. Use these suggestions to help your class or small group create a “Culture of Invitation.”

It starts before a guest or prospect arrives.

  • Assign someone to be primarily responsible for greeting and befriending any new guests.
  • Weekly remind members to invite friends, peers, co-workers and family to join them in Bible study.
  • Prepare the room for guests. Make sure the chairs are arranged so the guest will be comfortable and feel welcome.
  • Make sure you have enrollment cards, pens and name tags available. Additional Bible study books should be on hand to provide to guests.

When guests arrive…

  • Invite guests to sit in the best seats and surround them with people who are interested in them.
  • Collect accurate information for the purpose of follow up.
  • Invite them to join the class. You can enroll someone as a member just as easily as you can collect guest information.
  • Everybody wears a name tag. Use one color for guests and another for members.
  • Focus on getting to know the person, not just on completing tasks.
  • Invite guests to join you in worship. Ask them to sit with you and your family.
  • Invite guests to join you for lunch.
  • Be sure and introduce your guests to the Senior Pastor and other appropriate staff.
  • Assists with collecting children if they have preschoolers.

Follow up after a guests visit.

  • Make a phone call within 24 hours thanking them for their participation.
  • If they choose to join you, help them know what their next step would be.
  • Ask if you can add them to your mailing lists, email lists, blog, facebook or text group. If they requests to be removed, please honor their wishes.
  • Continue to make contact until they join and become active or they request to not be contacted anymore.

Living Missional; 4 arenas for missional living

18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. John 17:18 (HCSB)

“Living Sent” – When we received the gift of Jesus Christ, eternal life, the forgiveness of sin, and so much more, we were adopted into the Family of God. We are heirs, God’s children—family. Our privilege and responsibility is to now invite as many people as possible to join God’s family. But, how can they hear unless someone tells them? How can they see unless someone shows them? How can they know unless someone leads them?

People are watching. I’m not trying to freak you out, but people around us are observing what we say and do. They notice where we go and don’t go. They see how we live. Years ago I had a neighbor named Fred, (that really was his name). For months we talked over the fence about normal stuff. We laughed a lot and shared stories. One day, Fred asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a Baptist Minister. Things got real quiet. Then Fred said, “Sean, if I had known that months ago we would not have been friends”. Fred had had a bad history with some church folks in his past and it left a bitter taste. Fred got to know me by the way I lived before he knew what my titles were.

People need the chance to see the Jesus in you. They need to hear the hope that is within you. Our world is selfish and desperately needs to see someone who loves them—unconditionally. They are desperate to be a part of a family like the one we have: God’s family. Take these truths and apply them to these 4 arenas of your life.

Your family – The people that really know you the best are those that are with you the most. Be careful to live the kind of life every day that glorifies God.

Your church – If we can’t love those who are part of God’s family, what does that say to the world who is watching us. 34 “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (HCSB)

Your Work or School – For many of us, these are people we see almost every day. How we live our life indicates what we value most. People at work or school need to see that Jesus is the most important person in your life.

Your Community – Every smile you give to a cashier, every kind word you say to a waiter and every door you open for others shows your heart and love for people. Give generously. Volunteer your time, your gifts and your resources to help others. Be Jesus in your community everywhere you go, everything you say and everything you do.

Christianity is 24/7. #Live4God

Grow Spiritually, 3 things that maturing believers do!

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)

Have you heard the quote, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”? Actually You can. If you put a little salt in his oats, he will eventually head to the water tank. I’m not a theological genius but I believe you can encourage people to grow spiritually.

Participation in regular Bible study – In study after study, maturing believer’s credit regular attendance in a weekly bible study as one of the key factors for personal spiritual growth. This actually makes sense. Accountability is one of the key environments needed to keep people focused on God’s Word and His mission. Encourage those you lead to commit to attend more often. If they attend Bible study twice a month, encourage them to make it 3 times a month. You get the point. People need to know that just showing up every week helps. (NOTE: It helps even more if they attend Worship as well).

Accountability Group – This is one of the strongest indicators of maturing believers but also one of the least used methods in study after study. This requires a high degree of accountability and trust. Many people struggle to “go deep” because the cost of trusting someone else is so high. Vulnerability is a significant sign of maturity. A group of 3 to 4 people of the same sex meeting regularly for the purpose of bible study and accountability can significantly increase you spiritual attitude and aptitude. Choose wisely. Consider longer term friends instead of someone you just met.

Read Your Bible everyday – This was identified as the number one attribute of a growing believer in study after study. Nothing takes the place of the individual spending quality time alone with God and His word. Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour; this one thing alone over time equips you to face life’s trials and deepens your faith and trust in God. Read God’s word daily. Pray daily. Meditate on God’s word (read it slowly and over and over again for comprehension). Just take the time to BE with God.

Share the Gospel: Why most people don’t!

37 “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38 (HCSB)

I prefer the statement, sharing the Gospel with the lost rather than soul winning. The former is an objective that can be measured. The latter assumes that I am the one who wins souls; only God can do that. In the simplest of terms, God has commanded me, as a believer, to make disciples. The starting point for all disciples is a relationship with Christ. But how can those who are lost know the Savior unless someone tells them?

Fear, apathy, selfishness, anger, bitterness, lack of confidence are some of the reasons people give as to why they don’t share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Research shows us that the majority of Christians have not shared the gospel with anyone. Of those precious few who have, thank God.

I have a simple answer to those who have not shared; Just do it. If you don’t know how, ask someone to show you how. If you lack confidence, ask someone to go with you. If you don’t know anyone, ask someone else who they know. Just go. Just share.

Sharing the gospel is hard work. It requires two things as indicated in Matthew 9:37-38; Pray and Go. It really isn’t complicated. I know, I know, you want to know what happens if you don’t do it right. I admit, there is some truth to that but remember that salvation is the work of God not us.

Commit to these 4 things. If it helps you to remember, this is the 3151 commitment.

  • Pray for at least 3 lost people every day, by name.
  • Learn at least 1 gospel presentation.
  • Invite at least 5 people to your Sunday School or Small Group.
  • Share the gospel with at least 1 person.

For more tools and resources for the 3151 commitment, go to www.louisianabaptists.org/connect1/.

5 Minutes with the Sunday School Teacher!

People are busy. I know that. There is a lot you want to do and a whole lot more you are expected to do. What I would like do is to take 5 minutes of your time to talk about one thing that I know God expects of you.

Go and Make Disciples – This command from Matthew 28:19 is the clarion call to all lay leaders to equip the saints, to make disciples who will make disciples. There are tons of voices out there telling you all the ways to make disciples. Lots of experts who have developed tools, resources, strategies and workshops that will help you make disciples. Many of them have great ideas and insights that work great—for them. Unfortunately, you are not them and your church is certainly not like theirs.

I want to make this simple. There are principles that many of these experts are teaching, but how do you apply that to your situation. First of all, let me restate your purpose as the leader of your class. Your job is to make disciples who will make disciples. The churches best strategy to make disciples is through small groups.

With all of that being said, most of you already have a structure that can already accomplish this purpose. In many churches it is called Sunday School. The problem is that most of our existing groups have lost their purpose. It is your job as leader to lead them and equip them to make disciples. I know you are doing the best you can to accomplish the purpose you believe you are suppose to accomplish. Along the way, maybe you have lost sight of the purpose of your small group. It is your job to remind them. At the same time, let’s be honest, some people will never understand the purpose of their small group. Let’s focus on those that do. Our model is the Great Shepherd.

He led by loving them – Change is not easy to most people. Don’t announce changes, encourage change. Don’t make demands of them, equip them. People respond to your heart and your actions, not from your words.

He led by showing them – Exemplify change. Be willing to go the extra mile. If you are willing to commit, follow through and live the life you want them to; they will follow.

He led by equipping them – Show them what’s most important. If everything you do is important, those who follow will not know what’s most important. Tell them, show them, equip them and lead them to know what’s MOST important.

He led by caring for them – Those you lead need to know that you care about them and those in your community. I know you care, but do they know that?

Leader, you are the one God chose to be in your role. He can and will use you to make disciples that make disciples.