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Posts tagged ‘Great Commission’

4 Keys to Creating an Irresistible Church in 2014.

Greg Atkinson

Greg Atkinson

Let me preface what I’m about to write by saying that basic and foundational things like prayer, discipleship and evangelism (having an externally-focused church as I’ve stated before) are all a given. Each church should take the Great Commission seriously and have an emphasis on the “Go” and on the “make disciples.”

I start everything with prayer, and so please know that what I’m about to discuss is with the above stated things as must-haves and what I consider foundational to a healthy church.

With that being said, let me share with you the “big four” that I look for when I visit a church, secret shop a church, or consult with a church. As the Scriptures encourage us—we should “compel them” to come in.

The big four that I look for when I do a secret shopper are first impressions, children’s ministry, security and worship. Yes, worship is last and I have listed them in the order that I weigh them.

As many studies have shown us, people make up their mind whether or not they will return, long before the worship service and especially the sermon. Most visitors will know in the first 10 minutes if they will return to your church.

First Impressions

Let’s start with what I consider to be the most crucial of all ministries at a church. Whether you call it first impressions, hospitality or guest relations—it matters and is paramount to breaking down walls and making guests feel welcome at your church.

“You’ve got 10 minutes. Somewhere between the parking lot and the children’s center, the ten minutes pass. They should know they matter to us before they hear how much they matter to God.”—Mark Waltz, Granger

Something I tell all the churches I work with is: “You must be strategic and intentional about breaking down any barriers of intimidation. You must be strategic and intentional about creating warm, welcoming environments.”

Now, I could spend an entire series on just first impressions. This is everything from your online presence (social media like Twitter, Facebook—as well as your website). For example, when I do a secret shopper visit, I create 10-15 pages in my report on just online presence before I ever leave to attend their physical campus.

Once one comes to your physical campus, the real fun begins. First impressions then include the parking lot, greeters, ushers, and people who greet you at your church’s Welcome or Information Booth. First impressions also include things like smell (your church may stink), signage (your church may be intimidating and confusing for new people), and how your facility is kept up and maintained. All these things play subtle parts in a guest’s first impression of your church and their subconscious.

Children’s Ministry

Maybe I’m biased because I have three young kids, but I believe in having a strong and attractive children’s ministry. A lot of churches target parents in their mid-20s to mid-40s and the best way to compel them is to offer a children’s ministry so dynamic that kids drag their parents to church.

Let me suggest that you make children’s ministry a priority. I’ve seen churches that spent millions on their worship center and have dumpy children’s facilities. I’d never return with my family to churches like that. Show me and your community that kids are important and that you care about partnering with parents to be a help in their spiritual growth. We all know the statistics on the likelihood of people accepting Christ after age 18. Student ministries (children’s through youth) are vital to fulfilling the Great Commission.


This is probably the most overlooked part of most churches I visit. Most church leaders have never sat down and intentionally and strategically thought through how and why they do security. I wish this wasn’t important and that you didn’t have to have some kind of security presence, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. If there had only been one church shooting, that would be enough. I’m sad to say that several churches have experienced the tragedy of shootings—not to mention molestation and kidnapping.

Bottom-line: If I’m worried about my kids’ safety, I’m not going to enjoy the worship service and I will miss what God wants to do in my heart through the experience of corporate worship.

Security includes everything from people’s cars in the parking lot, to the safety of infants in the nursery, to children’s facilities, check-in and check-out procedures, mentally ill people acting out in the middle of a service, and protecting the senior pastor. Every great church with a well-known senior pastor that I’ve worked with had a bodyguard standing next to the pastor for his protection. This is not for show or something for rock stars—this is something real and needed to protect that man of God from people that mean to do him harm. When you stand for truth and speak against sin, you become a target for many that live in darkness. If you haven’t done so already, think through every aspect of security in your organization. I just returned from a church in California that had security people covering every single entrance and exit to their children’s ministry. It was a beautiful thing to see and made me feel safe as a parent.

Attractional Worship

I know there’s a lot of discussion and debate about whether a church should be attractional or missional. I’ve talked extensively about it all over the country. I’m a both/ and person and like for a church to seek to be both, but when it comes to the corporate worship service—I look for an attractional model. Again: COMPEL them to come in. Blow your people and your community away with excellence and an environment that allows the Holy Spirit of God to move.

I never got over Sally Morgenthaler’s book, Worship Evangelism. I think lost people can be moved by genuine and authentic worship. I also know God moves through the preaching of His Word. Please know I’m not talking to just large churches. I work with several small churches. They do things with excellence and, for a small church, blow me away.

Regardless of what size church you have, you should think through worship flow, song selection, authenticity, communication/ preaching and every aspect of what you want people to experience each week when you gather. Are sound, video and lights important? I think so, but you don’t have to have the best of the best to see God move. One of the most special and memorable services we did at Bent Tree when I was there was have a stripped down music set with no technology.

Whether you’re in a school, movie theater, gym, or worship center—you can seek to create an environment where people encounter the Living God.

Please know these are not biblical laws or scriptural requirements. These are just four keys that I look for when I visit a church, and I’ve found over the years that the churches that do these four things well will see God bless their church in amazing ways. Think through each as a team and prayerfully consider how you can do each to the best of your ability.

Note: The preceding is an excerpt from Greg Atkinson’s latest book, Church Leadership Essentials, available on Amazon through Rainer Publishing.

Written by Greg Atkinson

Greg Atkinson is an author, speaker, consultant and the editor of Christian Media Magazine. Greg has started businesses including the worship resource website WorshipHouse Media, a social media marketing company, and his own consulting firm.

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Avoiding the Coming Tsunami of Church Closure.

How can you avoid scenarios like this in the future?

How can you avoid scenarios like this in the future? (Lightstock)

In 1964, Bob Dylan released his third studio album, The Times They Are A-Changin.

As was typical of the music from the 1960s, political and cultural statements and protests were the norm. The times were changing. Some for the better (i.e., the civil rights movement.) Others, maybe not (i.e., the sexual revolution.) Nevertheless, songs such as this and others that gained popularity became themes for a generation in flux.

Churches changed as well over time. Some for the better and others … well, maybe not. Over the past few decades, we have seen the advent of the church growth movement, the growth of parachurch organizations, the birth and subsequent death (well, basically) of the emergent church, the focus on being seeker-sensitive, the development of labels such as “traditional” and “contemporary” when it comes to worship styles (which by their nature are labels that mean different things to different people) and categorical shifts in emphasis in areas such as youth ministry, family ministry, men’s and women’s ministries, and the like.

There are always those voices that speak of needed adjustments in church practice as culture changes. Some have wrongly attributed these changes to keeping the message “relevant.” That’s a misnomer. The gospel is always relevant and always will be. The local church, however, that has been accused of sliding into irrelevancy often is just a victim of becoming an inwardly focused organization that has forsaken the missional commands of the New Testament.

We Have to Do Something

Unfortunately, many churches realize they are on life support when it’s too late. Of course, with God, it’s never too late. I get that. However, I have been in numerous churches over the years that are full of nice, loving people who have forgotten their mission. They gather, listen to sermons, go to Sunday school, and worship through giving and singing while the community surrounding them really doesn’t even notice they exist.

Then, as if finally awakened from a deep sleep, they acknowledge they have had far more funerals in their building recently than baptisms and begin to see the writing on the wall. Something has to be done.

In some cases, these well-meaning believers hire a young pastor or maybe an associate pastor with the instructions to reach “those people out there.” It’s a noble gesture, but often it doesn’t match true expectations. While the new pastor may have the greatest intentions to reach the community, and with the backing of those who called him to do just that, he often discovers the message given and the actual expectations are different.

While the instructions were to “reach those people out there,” the actual, nonverbal instructions were “reach those people, but don’t force us to change anything in here.”

I have talked with numerous young ministers who have experienced this very thing. In most cases, they don’t last in these churches. In the most severe cases, they find themselves out of ministry fully.

Reaching Millennials

Generational differences are real, and as the times change, they become more and more evident. Many church leaders track these trends, but others discover them naturally as one generation matures and the next steps into leadership roles. A church that only reaches an older generation will have a room full of wisdom and potentially no debt, but it will not be as effective in reaching younger people in the community.

Conversely, a church that only reaches Millennials will have a lot of energy and will “like” ministries and movements that address social issues such as trafficking and justice, but it will find it difficult to finish any significant task and may discover the funding lacking for all areas.

I’m not throwing stones. I’m simply stating facts. The Pew Research Center, as well as other surveying groups, has affirmed that young people (ages 18-29) are less religiously affiliated than any other generation in our nation. Unfortunately, the trend is that this number will continue to decline. The statistics mirror that which has been happening in Europe for decades. The times, they are a-changin’, it seems.

So, how does a church that desires to “be all things to all people” so that we may reach some for the gospel do this? How does an established church with almost a century of history adjust processes and programming in order to remain effective ambassadors for Christ in this culture? The answer may seem simple.

It may even sound like a cliche, but when lived out fully, it is not. It is the gospel in action. Regardless of generational makeup or church culture, living missionally is the key. It leads to viewing the community surrounding one’s church as the mission field. This inevitably leads those within the church to begin living as missionaries. Perhaps this is what God meant when He called us His ambassadors.

Living missionally removes the typical church marketing strategies that intend to sell a program or ministry to a community that doesn’t want it or think they need it. No longer are church members bragging about their great church or the ministries offered. Here’s a news flash: Lost people aren’t thinking about the church and therefore do not view what the church has to offer as something they need, much less want.

Living missionally leads Christ-followers to love their neighbors and to offer that which they do need—the Good News of Jesus Christ. The gospel! That changes everything.

Avoiding the Tsunami

I have seen a number of local churches in our city take steps to avoid the coming tsunami. These churches are different from the ones described above in one very significant way. These senior saints desire to see those in their changing community reached and are willing to sacrifice “their” church for the sake of the kingdom. It’s an amazing transition.

By sacrificing the concept of it being “their” church, they are affirming the reality that they are God’s church and that the mandate given by Christ in the Great Commission is as valid today as ever. These “traditional” churches with a majority of older members are as relevant, and perhaps even more so, as any “contemporary” church in the community.

Know the Times

In reading Pastor Mark Driscoll’s latest book, A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future? some points really struck me. It is estimated that one quarter of unmarried women between the ages of 29 and 39 are currently living with a partner and that about half have lived at some time with an unmarried partner.

Over half of first marriages are now preceded by cohabitation. More than 60 percent of high schoolers “agree” or “strongly agree” that cohabitation before marriage is a good idea.

Churches that market themselves as a great place for the entire family, with service times on Sunday morning that work for young families, a great kids’ program, rocking student ministry, family camps and daytime Bible studies for stay-at-home moms, are inadvertently telling the majority of Americans—singles—they are not welcome and to stay away.

These points and many others from various sources all echo that which we know to be true—the Western church is in trouble. In many cases, it is on life support, surviving on the tithes and attendance of an older generation while lamenting the fact that reaching the young, uncommitted “Nones” is not easy.

It’s Not Easy

God has promised that His church would prevail. However, He never promised that the local gathering on the corner that meets in a building with the name “church” on it would always be around. In fact, according to history, every local fellowship has a shelf life. You don’t see anyone talking about the current work of the great church in Corinth or Ephesus any longer, do you?

So, while we’re here, we are called to honor God, spread the gospel and do whatever it takes to be His uncompromising ambassadors in the community in which He has placed us. That focus and appropriate action will help us avoid the coming tsunami.

It must be less about “our” church and more about His.

David Tarkington is the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Orange Park, Fla. He has served on the pastoral staff since January 1994. Beginning in 2005, David began serving as the senior pastor.

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Written by David Tarkington

4 Steps to a Healthy Church Culture.

Church service

How would you assess the cultural health of your church? (Lightstock)

“Love, listen, learn and lead! That is why we are here!”

When I heard those words at a recent Global Vision Summit with Dynamic Church Planting International, it resonated with my heart. It caused me to think through how important the order is, and the process of creating a healthy culture in our congregations and ministries.

These four ingredients are paramount to moving our churches toward being healthy and reproducing. Every church must be driven by the Great Commission and recapture its vision to live on mission for God.

1. Love

We need to love our congregations and our communities. When Jesus looked on the multitudes, He was moved with compassion. When you look at the people around you, are you brokenhearted for them or are you just angry at them? Love your city enough to get involved and see it transformed, one changed life at a time. We should love living where we live and not be trying to just tough it out or live in survival mode.

What impact could you have for Christ in the schools, in city government, in times of crisis, in local restaurants and with the local policemen and firemen, to name a few? We are good at scolding, but how good are we at loving them? People need to know that Jesus loves them and we love them. They need to know how deeply we care about them and are committed to them. Love means we are excited to live as missionaries in our zip code!

2. Listen

The key is to stop always telling and start listening. You show people how much you value them and care about them by listening to their story. Alvin Reid in ReVITALize says, “The churches I observe who need revitalization have tended to reduce the gospel to the most brief and simple of presentations possible and tend to share the gospel with people they hardly know.” Who do I know that needs a listening ear? Who needs a shoulder to cry on?

Most people have moved past mass production and are looking for relationships. Our society now lives in the coffee shops, where they can share their stories in community. They do not want a sales pitch but rather a more comprehensive perspective of the gospel by explaining creation, the fall and how they can be rescued through Christ alone. But this demands our willingness to sit down with them, listen to them and build a relationship with them.

3. Learn

If we love the city and community we live in, then we need to ask some very important questions: What is our city’s history? What are the values of the community we live in? What dreams and aspirations do the people who live here have? How can our congregation minster to them in practical ways that display the love of Christ? How effective are we at reaching our communities for Christ? What is working, and what needs fixing?

We must fight the temptation to continue using methods that are no longer effective. Many churches appear to be more concerned about maintaining their traditions than pursuing people outside their walls and bringing to them the life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. When will we learn that the pain of slow death is worse than the pain of change? Moving a church from an inward focus to an outward focus is a major spiritual endeavor but is worth it!

4. Lead

Here is the problem: Many Christians believe their church exists for them. You hear from them, “What about me?” But spiritually mature Christians are asking, “What about them?” and are involved in the process of making disciples. The answer is not in scolding them, because they are doing what they have been shown to do and what has been modeled. If living on mission were really valued, then we would have already made the necessary changes.

The center of the church is Jesus Christ, not us. Leaders in the church need to recall the membership to the reason we exist: to make disciples who make disciples! It begins by loving, learning and listening to our congregations and our communities. Leading requires loving confrontation with the truth that maintenance, status quo, and being inwardly focused is living in disobedience to Christ’s commands.

Healthy cultures love, listen, learn and lead!

Larry Barker serves as director of North American missions for the Baptist Missionary Association of America. He has a passion to see hundreds of BMAA churches planted throughout the USA and Canada and has also served as a missionary to Romania.

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Written by Larry Barker

Patrick Morley: A Plea to Disciple Younger Men.

Have you had the opportunity to disciple a younger man?
Have you had the opportunity to disciple a younger man? (Shutterstock)

A former business colleague is discipling a college student and asked me which of my books I would recommend he use. Without blinking I wrote back, “How God Makes Men.”

In the email, I included the following book excerpt, which explains why:

“By now, I’m sure you’re not surprised that God sends men in much the same way He has been sending them down through the centuries. Once you’ve been enlisted in God’s army and learned how to clean and shoot your weapon, you’re going to be deployed. Sending is simply going wherever God wants you to go to do whatever God wants you to do. Of course, making disciples is not the only thing God sends us to do. But in this chapter we’re focusing on the Great Commission, or ‘making disciples,’ part of sending. Let’s consider the priorities of making disciples.

“First, making disciples starts at home. Your most important ministry is to your wife (if you have one). A friend of mine was having marriage problems. He came to one of our conferences and got inspired to disciple men. Since that brought him joy, and home brought him distress, he started putting more and more time into discipling men and spending less and less time with his wife. When he asked me about it, I said, ‘I don’t want you doing ministry to men until you get your ministry to your wife right.’ To his credit, he went back and put his own marriage in order. Today, he has a flourishing ministry to men.

“Second, after your wife, your most important ministry is to your children (if you have any). A man’s number one discipleship group must be his family. No amount of success anywhere else can compensate for failure here. God has ordained you to disciple your children. If they don’t get discipled, that one’s on you. You are God’s designated way to release the power of the gospel to your children.

“Finally, once you have your own house in order, then you can have a disciple-making ministry to others. All kinds of people need discipleship. But let me make a special plea. You see, one of the greatest needs in our day is to disciple younger men. An incident from the animal kingdom illustrates this.

“When elephants overcrowded South Africa’s Kruger National Park, the government authorized killing adult elephants and relocating their offspring to other parks. As the orphaned male elephants became teenagers, they were clueless about what normal elephant behavior looked like. When their testosterone levels spiked, the orphaned bulls turned aggressive. In one park they savagely killed thirty-nine rhinos. A park ranger watched as a young bull elephant intentionally knocked over a rhino and trampled it. The situation was out of control.

“Then rangers brought several adult bull elephants into one of the parks. Just by being themselves, these animals ‘mentored’ the younger bulls, demonstrating to them what normal male elephant behavior looked like. No more rhinos were killed after the mature bulls arrived.

“It’s not easy to become a man. Many young men today have grown up as ‘practical’ orphans. They’ve been left to guess at what normal male behavior looks like. The faith of young men is under severe attack. That’s where the battle is raging. And frankly, mature Christian men are just not getting the discipleship job done. Consider these challenging words:

“If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.”

So, consider discipling some younger men. That’s a place where you can really make a difference.



Patrick Morley is founder and CEO of Man in the Mirror. After building one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies, in 1991, he founded Man in the Mirror, a nonprofit organization to help men find meaning and purpose in life. Dr. Morley is the best-selling author of The Man in the Mirror, No Man Left Behind, Dad in the Mirror, and A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines.

Franklin Graham: Season of Hope.

Franklin Graham
Franklin Graham (BGEA)

Millions of people across the United States and Canada watched the My Hope with Billy Graham program over the last few weeks. My father’s message, The Cross, has been broadcast on hundreds of TV stations and shown in thousands of churches and homes.

It will be several more weeks before we know the full impact, but we already know of tens of thousands of people who have shared with us that they gave their lives to the Savior in repentance and faith. Praise God!

One pastor of a very large congregation told me his church had 1,300 small groups that met in homes and neighborhoods to watch The Cross, and an average of more than two people came to Christ in each group. He told me he expected up to 3,000 more people than usual to attend his church the next Sunday. The pastor could hardly believe it.

Since my father had asked Christians to invite unsaved friends to watch the broadcast, he wanted to do the same. He had more than 900 guests for a gathering near his home—politicians, celebrities, state and local leaders, as well as some of his longtime friends and many neighbors from the area. We lowered the lights and everyone in the huge room watched The Cross with my father, and then we had a meal together. By the end of the evening, more than 100 indicated they had made a decision for Christ.

We thank God for the thousands of churches who partnered with us in this nationwide outreach. The only hope for our country is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is “the power of God for salvation” (Romans 1:16, ESV). Our job now is to follow up with all those who gave their hearts to Jesus. We want to make sure they are discipled and connected with a Bible-believing church.

I am grateful for each person who has taken part in the My Hope outreach in this country, whether by praying, giving or inviting unsaved friends to watch—some of you have done all three. Please join us now 
in praying for these many new believers.

During the Christmas holidays, we’ll be showing another powerful My Hope America program, Defining Moments, on TV. I believe this 
will have a significant impact. Our purpose is to keep the Gospel of our Lord and Savior in the forefront as we celebrate His birth. Pray that the Lord will use the testimonies and message to clearly communicate the reason the Savior came to earth.

Our plan is to do My Hope America each year for the next five years—we want the week of Nov. 7 to be Evangelism Week across America. We want to continue to produce powerful evangelistic programs and material that churches and individuals can use to reach the lost around them for Christ.

We need your help as we follow up with the tens of thousands who have made decisions and as we reach out to even more. Your prayers and gifts enable us to carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (see Matthew 28:18–20). The Bible says that because of your gifts, “others will praise God for … the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them” (2 Corinthians 9:13, NIV).

This article originally appeared on



George O. Wood Sets John MacArthur’s Pentecostal Record Straight.

George O. Wood
George O. Wood

Recently, Dr. John MacArthur and Grace to You Ministries hosted the Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church in Simi Valley, California.

Dr. MacArthur believes that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit ceased with the close of the apostolic era and that the Pentecostal and charismatic movements are therefore theologically aberrant at a foundational level.

By contrast, Pentecostal and charismatic Christians believe that “the promise [i.e., the gift of the Holy Spirit] is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39, NIV). With this promise comes the evidential sign of speaking in other tongues and the power to be witnesses of Jesus Christ “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8; 2:4; cf. Luke 24:49). Consequently, following the apostle Paul’s teaching, we “eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit” (1 Cor. 14:1).

While there have been isolated aberrations of behavior and doctrine over the past century among those who self-identify as Pentecostal or charismatic, the movement as a whole has proved a vital force in world evangelization—a fulfillment of the promise Jesus made to His disciples in Acts 1:8. On behalf of the 66 million adherents and 360,000+ churches in the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, I thank God that the faith and life of the Acts 2 church are still being believed and experienced today.

The Assemblies of God celebrates 100 years in 2014 and remains committed to the full authority of God’s Word. As a founding member of the National Association of Evangelicals, the Assemblies of God has sought to cooperate in the Great Commission with Christians of like-minded faith, even when they are not Pentecostal and charismatic, and we remain committed to that collaboration.

We trust the time will come when Dr. John MacArthur and those who share his perspective will acknowledge the great contribution that Pentecostals and charismatics are making in the evangelization of individuals without Christ. We pray God’s blessings on their efforts to share His gospel with a lost and dying world. Pentecostals and charismatics are their co-laborers in this effort, so we ask that they would similarly pray for God’s blessing on us as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission that God has given us all.

George O. Wood is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. 



7 Reasons You Should Develop More Leaders Now.

Rick Warren

If you want your church to grow—and if you want the kingdom to grow—you’re going to need to develop many more leaders. In the early church, an interesting turn of events happened when the apostles shifted from simply preaching to releasing leaders.

The Bible says in the early chapters of Acts that God was “adding” to the church daily. Shortly into the life of the Jerusalem church, there arose a conflict between Hellenistic Jews and Hebraic Jews over the care of orphans and widows. The apostles asked for leaders from the church to be pointed out, and then they released seven men to oversee a new area of ministry. Suddenly, the terminology changes from God “adding” to the church to the church “multiplying.”

Out of Acts 6, we can take away at least seven lessons for churches that want to grow by empowering and releasing more leaders.

1. A growing church is a biblical idea. It says, “In those days the number of disciples were increasing.” If a church is not growing, it is often because something is unhealthy. Healthy things grow. Unless the community is already saturated and everyone reachable has been reached, a church must diagnose what is breaking down in the leadership development process. We’ve said that if there is one person who doesn’t know Christ, we’re going to keep growing. A growing church is biblical.

2. Church growth causes problems. Acts 6 says that there were “rumblings of discontent.” That’s true in any church. Sometimes people come to me and say, “Pastor Rick, we’ve really got a problem in this church.” I want to say, “Which one? I’m aware of about a couple hundred. Which one are you talking about?” They say, “You may not recognize this, but there’s this need.” Of course we recognize it. We live with it day and night. But leadership development takes time, so there are always holes to be filled in any growing ministry.

3. Problems are always unmet needs. The passage says, “The Greek-speaking Jews claimed their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food.” We would like to think everyone in our church’s membership is together in the priority of seeing more people come to Jesus, but even Christians get distracted when there are unmet needs in their lives—real or imagined. When you experience a leadership problem in your church, it almost always flows out of someone’s unmet need.

4. Pastors cannot do it all. The apostles’ response to this need was, “It wouldn’t be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.” It’s a legitimate need, but it’s not one that God called them to meet. Spiritual leaders cannot remain spiritual leaders long if they aren’t spending adequate time at the feet of Jesus seeking wisdom, direction and vision.

5. Spirit-filled believers assist the pastoral staff. The apostles said, “Choose seven men, full of the Holy Spirit, and we’ll turn the responsibility over to them.” It’s interesting that if you read these names in Acts 6—Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolaus—you find that they are all Greek names. And these men cared deeply about the needs of the Greek believers in the early church.

6. The pastors are to focus on praying and teaching. Then they said, “We will give our attention to prayer and teaching of the word.” I once had to make a covenant with Saddleback Church. If the people would take on the work of the ministry, I would make sure they were well fed. That’s been my goal since that time. The ministry of Saddleback outgrew me a long time ago. Obviously I can’t do all the ministry. I can’t even do a fraction of the ministry. But I can make sure that people are well fed.

7. The result of lay ministry was more growth. The passage says, “This proposal pleased the whole group so the word of God increased rapidly [multiplied].” There was mobilization. In many churches, all you’re expected to do is attend and give. But those are really two minor issues related to what God really wants to do in your life. We have allowed our spectator-oriented culture to influence the church.

But God teaches us to mobilize every person for ministry—pastors and staff are to equip all believers for the work of the ministry. We have to mobilize every member for ministry. This is leadership development. And this is essential to fulfilling the Great Commission.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America‘s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times best-seller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

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