Prayer zone for a better, empowering, inspiring, promoting, prospering, progressing and more successful life through Christ Jesus

Posts tagged ‘Mark’

‘Tis the Season to Attack the Gospels?.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe, Truth in Action Ministries

Every year at Christmastime, like clockwork, you can expect the mainstream media to come out with some sort of “fresh” perspective on Jesus. We see this on TV specials and in magazines and reports. Since December has just begun, I thought I’d be pro-active in answering the critics.The basic questions are these: Can we trust the Bible? Can we trust the Gospels? If they were put on trial, as in a court case, how would they hold up?

One man who contributed significantly to Christian apologetics was one of America’s great legal leaders. Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) was a professor at Harvard Law School (1833-1848). He contributed a great deal to the school, expanding it, including its library.

Greenleaf wrote a major textbook used widely, A Treatise on the Law of Evidence

Contrary to some accounts (even found extensively on the Internet, to this day), Greenleaf was not an atheist or agnostic converted to Christianity by the evidence for the resurrection. He was livelong, active member of the Episcopal Church. In 1847, Greenleaf applied his expertise as a pioneer in the area of trial evidence to the Gospels in a landmark book.

Greenleaf wrote The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospel Examined by the Rules of Evidence. The evangelists, of course, are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As he applied the rules of evidence to the Gospels, he found them reliable.

Greenleaf says, “The foundation of our religion is a basis of fact—the fact of the birth, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection by the Evangelists as having actually occurred, within their own personal knowledge. Our religion, then, rests on the credit due to these witnesses. Are they worthy of implicit belief, in the matters which they relate? This is the question, in all human tribunals, in regard to persons testifying before them; and we propose to test the veracity of these witnesses, by the same rules and means which are there employed…” He answers, Yes.

He goes on from there to highlight the four Gospel writers:

*Matthew (also called Levi), the tax-collector and one of the twelve, an eyewitness of the Gospel events. Writes Greenleaf: “Matthew was himself a native Jew, familiar with the opinions, ceremonies, and customs of his countrymen; that he was conversant with the Sacred Writings…”

*Mark (also known as John Mark) was essentially Peter’s scribe in his Gospel—from the early Church comes the consistent report that Peter’s recollection of the Gospel events are found in the second Gospel. Mark went on to preach the gospel in Egypt, where he was martyred.

*Luke, believed to be a physician, traveled with Paul. Says Greenleaf, “If…Luke’s Gospel were to be regarded only as the work of a contemporary historian, it would be entitled to our confidence. But it is more than this. It is the result of careful science, intelligence and education, concerning subjects which he was perfectly competent to peculiarly skilled, they being cases of the cure of maladies.”

*John was a fisherman of Bethsaida, on the Sea of Galilee. Greenleaf says he wrote his Gospel after the other three, recognizing their truthfulness, and added things not found in the others.

Greenleaf notes a great unfairness shown the Evangelists in modern scholarship: They are somehow guilty until proven innocent. They are viewed as untrustworthy for no cause, until they can somehow be corroborated by some outside secular source. (If it was true in Greenleaf’s day, how much more is it true in ours—despite the wealth we have of additional archaeological and manuscript evidence in favor of the Gospels’ veracity.)

Says Greenleaf: “But the Christian writer seems, by the usual course of the argument, to have been deprived of the common presumption of charity in his favor; and reversing the ordinary rule of administering justice in human tribunals, his testimony is unjustly presumed to be false, until it is proved to be true.”

Greenleaf adds, “It is time that this injustice should cease; that the testimony of the evangelists should be admitted to be true, until it can be disproved by those who would impugn it; that the silence of one sacred writer on any point, should no more detract from his own veracity or that of the other historians, than the like circumstance is permitted to do among profane writers; and that the Four Evangelists should be admitted in corroboration of each other, as readily as Josephus and Tacitus, or Polybius and Livy.”

He affirms: “their honesty…ability… the consistency of their testimony…the conformity of their testimony with experience…the coincidence of their testimony with collateral circumstances. Let the evangelists be tried by these tests.” He does and finds them trustworthy. He also answers common objections, such as the miraculous elements found in the Gospels.

So, be prepared, when you see the TV specials coming up about “the true story of Christmas” or the like, when they attack the Gospels. The Gospels have been put on trial, and they have passed the test.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Library, a spokesman and cohost of Kennedy Classics. He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book that Made America and (with Dr. Kennedy) What if Jesus Had Never Been Born? and (with Peter Lillback),George Washington’s Sacred

Huge Push On To Start Tracking Our Children With Smart Technology.

Embracing the Mark of the Beast

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16,17

With each passing day, RFID and GPS tracking technology inserts itself further and further into our culture and consciousness. Privacy is becoming something that will soon be viewed as an antiquated notion, a relic from our grandparents day. We tell ourselves that we are becoming ‘safer’ and more advanced, when in reality we are chaining ourselves to a one world system connected to the computer matrix.

RELATED STORY: Texas Student EXPELLED For Refusing To Wear RFID Chip Tracking ID Badge

When I first got saved, and began to study bible prophecy back in the early 90′s, I could not for the life of me figure out how the mark of the beast could ever get a foothold in society. Certainly the people would rise up against it, and refuse to be chipped, tracked and cataloged, right?

Here in 2013, we have our answer. Far from ‘rising up against it’, the people are embracing it with a mind-numbing speed. We no longer need to worry about the government tracking us, we are doing it to ourselves. Tracking has become cool. As it turns our, slick marketing, flashy graphics and the occasional tug on our heartstrings was all that was needed.

You are the frog, and the pot of cold water you started in is about to get boiling hot.

Fox News: This holiday season some parents are going high-tech and getting their child a watch that tracks their every move. It’s called the FiLIP: a watch and phone with GPS geared at kids aged 4 to 11 — basically before they are ready for a smart phone.



Parents can program up to five numbers into the gadget, which kids can call with the touch of a button. Using the FiLIP app, parents and other preauthorized adults can track the child’s location, make calls, send texts and set “SafeZones.” Parents get an alert when a child leaves a safe zone.

”What we learned after doing a lot of interviews with families, with moms dads and kids, is that they would like to have some of the sophisticated technology of a smartphone but take away some of the features like internet access,” Kirbak says.

The FiLIP was named after the CEO’s son, who went missing and was found at a mall 4 years ago. source – Fox News.

by NTEB News Desk

What Manner of Man!

He said to the paralytic, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
Mark 2:10-12

Recommended Reading
Mark 2:1-12 ( )

When your mind turns to Christ, rejoice first in who He is — His person, His divine and human natures, for He is both God and man. Then think of what He has done — His work. Visualize as best you can the scene when He created the heavens and earth. See Him entering the world as a baby, becoming a miracle worker, wielding His power over wind and weather, over sickness and sorrow, over death and demons. Remember how He died for us, rose again, ascended to heaven, and will soon return in glory. Think, too, of what He does for us each day — the blessings He pours into our lives, the way He is interceding now for us as our Great High Priest.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( )

Sometimes we’re too busy to consider Him as we ought. Take time today to ponder anew the person and work of Christ. If we really think on these things, we’ll be like the people in Mark 2 who “were amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never saw  anything  like this!'”

Most men are notable for one conspicuous virtue or grace — Moses for meekness, Job for patience, John for love. But in Jesus you find everything.
J. Oswald Sanders

Acts 20-21

By David Jeremiah.

Being saltier…

By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”
Mark 9:50

Salt is so delicious and tastes so good. When you think about it, why Jesus uses salt as an analogy for how we as Christians live our lives, it is obvious why Jesus wants us to have flavor, and life, and make life better for those who are around us.

Everybody usually wants more salt in their meals. How many of us want more Christians in our lives? It depends on how our experience has been and if it’s been bad, some of us would say we don’t want any of that. See, that’s the thing. We live in a world where many people, when we think of Christians, don’t think of flavorful, salty, alive people.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “I might have entered the Christian ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.” Robert Louis Stevenson, in his day said he was so happy because, “I have been to church today and I am not depressed.”

Now there’s something about being salt that in a pure, in a permanent, in a good way that says this person is delicious to life. It is a person that, if you were to be around them, your day and your life is just going to be better. They’re salty. We need to be saltier disciples.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be that person that people will want to be around because I bring your flavor to life. Help me to make others’ lives better because I reflect your hope and love in all I say and do. Amen.

Reflection: How are you salty in your daily life?

Studying Mark’s Gospel: The Son of Man Crucified.

  • By Thomas Klock Harvest Ministries

Lesson 21: The Son of Man Crucified (Mark 15)


We are at the heart of the passion of the Son of Man. In Mark 14:43-72we saw Jesus betrayed, arrested, tried (illegally in most respects), and condemned for the truth. Sadly, we also saw the downfall of Peter, the Rock, now humbled and crumbled into dust. Yet by God’s grace we know that he was restored and effectively served Christ the rest of his days, just as those of us who have failed the Lord can also find that forgiveness and restoration to effective service for Him. Jesus was cruelly and illegally mocked by the religious leaders themselves as they convicted Him for proclaiming that He was not just Son of Man, but Son of God.

The hour for which Jesus was incarnated into our world had come. This week we will see another person crumble and make the wrong decision about Jesus: Pontius Pilate. Mark quickly moved through the crucifixion of Jesus to His death and burial, but it is appropriate for us to take time to meditate on what He suffered for us.  This week we’ll have a few less notes and comments when we come to the crucifixion itself so that we can think on it more effectively. Let’s turn to that now.

DAY ONE: The Roman Trial

Please carefully read Mark 15:1-10 and answer the following questions.

1.  The religious leaders either continued all night or held a consultation separately with the whole council to make their illegal trial a bit more legitimate. They then bound Jesus and took Him to Pontius Pilate (his name means armed with a javelin[i]). He was the fifth Roman prefect (a title later changed to procurator, i.e., imperial magistrate) from a.d. 26–36. He was a harsh governor who despised the Jews (Luke 13:1-2). Presumably he stayed in Herod’s palace as was customary for provincial governors. If so, Jesus’ trial was held there.[ii] These governors held court early in the morning, so this was nothing unusual. Describe the interaction between Pilate, Jesus, and the Jewish leaders, and Pilate’s reaction to this (vv. 2–5).

2.  Pilate knew something was fishy about all of this, and then thought of a way he might avoid the mess. Who did that involve (vv. 6–8)?

3.  What did He ask the people and why (vv. 9, 10)?

4.  What else happened at this point that Mark omitted (Matthew 27:19Luke 23:6-12)?

Scripture Memory: This week we will be memorizing Colossians 2:14 (nlt). Review the passage several times throughout the day each day this week, and by the end of the week, you should have it memorized completely.


He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. (Colossians 2:14, nlt)

DAY TWO: Mocked by the People and Soldiers

Please carefully read Mark 15:11-19 and answer the following questions.

1.  Yesterday we saw that, according to Passover custom, Pilate wanted to release a prisoner to them, hoping they would select Jesus. The Zealot criminal Barabbas (whose name ironically meansson of the father) had committed murder in his insurrection against Rome, and Pilate thought that surely they would pick Jesus over him. Yet how did his plan backfire (vv. 11–13)?
2.  The crowd was stirred up by the priests, which in Greek literally means shook up like an earthquake.[iii] How did Pilate now crumble before the pressures of the crowd, just as Herod did in our study of the death of John the Baptist (vv. 13–15)?

Jesus’ scourging was actually much worse than its portrayal in The Passion of the Christ, as horrible as that was. The Roman flagellum was a lash made of leather thongs embedded with bits of glass, bone, and metal. The prisoner was stripped, often tied to a post, and beaten on the back by several guards using these whips. No limit was set on the number of blows, and often this was fatal. “Our Lord’s back was so lacerated by the scourge that it was one mass of open, raw, quivering flesh trickling with blood, not a series of stripes or cuts, but one mass of torn flesh;” and also “and the flesh of the victim was shredded, sometimes until bones or entrails appeared. Flogging was sometimes fatal.”[iv]

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, nkjv). 

3.  After being scourged, what further mockery did Jesus endure under these heartless soldiers? Notice how many people were involved (vv. 16–19).

Scripture Memory: Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.


He canceled the _____________________ that contained the charges against us. He _________________ it and destroyed it by _____________________ it to Christ’s cross. (Colossians 2:14, nlt)

DAY THREE: The Skull

Please carefully read Mark 15:20-28 and answer the following questions.

1.  Mark omitted much of what took place on the way to Jesus’ death.  (You can read a more complete account in Luke 23:26-32.)  What happened during the procession of Jesus to the place of His crucifixion (vv. 20, 21)?

NOTE: A condemned prisoner would carry the crossbeam of his cross, weighing about 100 pounds. The one who had the blessed privilege of carrying this for Jesus, too weakened to carry it Himself, was Simon of Cyrene; Mark alone mentions his sons Alexander and Rufus, probably believers known to the church in Rome that Mark wrote to (see Romans 16:13). Golgotha is a Greek transliteration of an Aramaic word meaning The Place of the Skull. The word Calvary comes from the Latin Calvaria, a variation of calva, a skull. Golgotha was a rounded, rocky knoll (not a hill or mountain) resembling the shape of a human skull. Its exact location is uncertain, but of course a church has been built on one possible site.[v]

2.  What else happened at the time of His crucifixion (vv. 23–26)?

For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots. (Psalms 22:16-18, nkjv). 

3.  When He was arrested, Jesus had asked the band taking Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber?” (Mark 14:48). Ironically, who were His companions in death as prophesied in Isaiah 53:12 (vv. 27, 28)?

Scripture Memory: Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.


He canceled the ____________________ that contained the __________________ against us. He _________________ it and destroyed it by _____________________ it to ____________________ cross. (Colossians 2:14, nlt)

DAY FOUR: The Son of Man Dies

Please carefully read Mark 15:28-39 and answer the following questions.

The time frame mentioned here in Mark (the third, the sixth, and the ninth hours) reflected Jewish time. They reckoned time from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., so this means that the third hour was 9 a.m., the sixth hour noon, and the ninth hour 3 p.m. John used Roman time in his Gospel, so “the sixth hour” in John 19:14 is 6 a.m.[vi]

1.  What types of awful mockery did Jesus have to endure during His suffering on the cross (vv. 29–32)?

But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” (Psalms 22:6-8, nkjv)

2.  What awesome thing happened when the sixth hour (noon) came, and what do you think this all reflected (vv. 33–36)?

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent? (Psalms 22:1-2, nkjv)

3.  What happened at last at the ninth hour, and how did this witness to both Jew and Gentile what God had done (vv. 37–39)?

Jesus’ “loud cry” shows that He didn’t die the ordinary death of one crucified; normally a person suffered for a long period (often two or three days) and then lapsed into a coma and died. But Jesus was fully conscious to the end; His death came voluntarily and suddenly. The centurion’s confession is the climax of Mark’s revelation of Jesus’ identity; a Gentile Roman officer’s response contrasts with the mockery we read of here.[vii] No doubt his response was based on what he saw of Jesus and on the final words He said. Let’s close today thinking about Jesus’ seven statements from the cross.

  1. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34
  2. “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:42-43
  3. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27)
  4. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46Mark 15:34
  5. Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” John 19:28
  6. “It is finished!” John 19:30
  7. “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”  Having said this, He breathed His last. Luke 23:45-46(nkjv)

 Scripture Memory: Try to fill in the missing words in the blanks below, by memory if at all possible, and then review the passage several times today.

He canceled the _____________________ that ___________________________ the ______________________ against us. He _________________ it and _______________________ it by _____________________ it to ____________________cross. (Colossians 2:14, nlt)

DAY FIVE:  The Son of Man Buried

Please carefully read Mark 15:39-46 and answer the following questions.

1.  What interesting thing did Mark add about the death of Jesus (vv. 40, 41), and how were these women involved in Jesus’ ministry (Luke 8:1–3)?

2.  Some secret followers of Jesus now emerged from concealment. Who was one of these men (John 19 tells us the other one was Nicodemus), and what did they find courage to do (vv. 42–44)?

NOTE: Warren Wiersbe clarifies something for us here: “We must not think that these two men suddenly decided to bury Jesus, because what they did demanded much preparation…. Joseph had to prepare the tomb in a garden near the place where Jesus died. This tomb was probably not for Joseph himself, since a wealthy man would not likely choose to be buried near a place of execution. The men also had to obtain a large quantity of spices (John 19:39), and this could not be done when the shops were closed for Passover. And all of this had to be done without the council’s knowledge.”[viii] Perhaps they, like the woman who anointed Jesus’ with her perfume for His burial, had believed Jesus’ words regarding His coming death, even though the disciples didn’t. 

3.  Pilate inquired of the centurion whether Jesus was already dead or not. The Romans would not release His body until they had verification that He was dead. How does John 19:31-37 confirm this fact?

And they made His grave with the wicked—But with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. Isaiah 53:9

4.  Describe Jesus’ burial. What is there to remember about the women to keep in mind for Lesson 22 (vv. 46, 47)?

Scripture Memory: Can you write out this week’s passage by memory here below? Give it a try, and keep reviewing the passage several times throughout the day.


Colossians 2:14

DAY SIX: Following Christ

Much of what happened on Good Friday was unwittingly done and fulfilled prophecies of long ago.There is one we haven’t mentioned. “So the Lord God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.’” (Genesis 3:14-15, nkjv).  In Scripture, the Seed referred to the promise of one who would come to destroy the curse Satan brought to this earth. Even the ground was cursed, bringing forth thorns and weeds (Genesis 3:17-18). The crown of thorns that the soldiers repeatedly beat onto Jesus’ head is a picture of God’s curse on sinful humanity being thrust on Jesus![ix] He took your curse personally on Himself so you can be freed of it—so no matter what troubles you and trips you up today, you can find forgiveness and transformation at the foot of His cross. It was more than atonement that Jesus came to bring us; it was a new life, a New Covenant in which we experience a living relationship with God.  Read through the two passages below and record your thoughts and thankfulness for what He has done for you, and perhaps record some things you have struggled with that can find new victory through the “wonder working power in the blood of the Lamb!”

By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”   Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.  Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh,  and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:10-23, nkjv).

Don’t let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ. For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe.  When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. It was a spiritual procedure—the cutting away of your sinful nature. For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ. (Colossians 2:8-15, nlt)

Think about this as we close: The death of Jesus was actually the end of religion! “No rules, regulations, or rituals are to be imposed between God and humanity. The distance these created between sinful humanity and the holy God has been done away with from God’s side. There is now free access to God the Father through the work of the Son on the cross. God has now come close.”[x]


Scripture Memory: Hopefully you now can write out this week’s passage completely by memory.Do so now, and keep on reviewing it so you will be ready to share it with others in your group time.


Colossians 2:14:


[i] Oxford University Press, The Scofield Study Bible, NKJV (New York:  Oxford University Press, 2002), p. 1391.

[ii] John D. Grassmick, Mark.  In John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications, 1983), p. 185.

[iii] :  A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In Oak Harbor:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1932, 1933, 1997).

[iv]  James A. Brooks, Mark.  In David S. Dockery ed., The New American Commentary, Vol. 23(Nashville:  Broadman Press, 1991), p. 252;  John D. Grassmick, Mark, p. 186; and Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Studies in the New Testament:  For the English Reader (Grand Rapids:  Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Co; in Bellingham:  Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1984, 1997).

[v] John D. Grassmick, Mark, p. 186-187.

[vi] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1 (Wheaton:  Victor Books/SP Publications Inc., 1989), p. 164.

[vii] John D. Grassmick, p. 190.

[viii] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 1, p. 166.

[ix] Grassmick, p. 187.

[x] Peter G. Bolt, The Cross From a Distance:  Atonement in Mark’s Gospel.  In D.A. Carson ed., New Studies in Biblical Theology, Vol. 18 (Downer’s Grove:  InterVarsity Press, 2004), p. 127.

© 2006 by Harvest Christian Fellowship. All rights reserved. Written by Thomas Klock for Men’s Bible Fellowship, 2005-2006.

6 Keys to Accelerating Small Group Ministry Growth.

Written by Mark Howell

Small-church-group-growthOnce you make the decision that small groups will be your primary (or only) delivery system for connection and discipleship, it only makes sense to look for ways to accelerate small group ministry growth and impact.

Here are what I’ve found to be 6 keys:

1. Your senior pastor must become the primary spokesperson and champion. Although I’ve not ranked these 6 keys in order of importance, there is no question that this a very important key. If you want to build a thriving small group ministry, there is no workaround for the absence of this key. See also “Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church of Groups.”

2. Move from promoting a menu of options (“buffet”) to a single next step (“plated meal”). In its optimum form, this includes all types of promotion (verbal, print and web). Moving to a single next step is a very underappreciated move. At the same time, I’m not sure its power can be overstated. See also “A ‘Plated Meal’ Leads to a Church of Groups” and “10 Ideas That Have Shaped My Philosophy of Ministry.”

3. Rethink minimum leadership requirements to make it easy to begin and nearly automatic to continue. This may seem completely counterintuitive, but if you want to accelerate small group ministry growth and impact, making the first step into leadership an easy, toe-in-the-water step is essential. See also “Do You Know This Game-Changing Connection Secret?” and “Leader Qualification: Raising the Bar, Lowering the Bar and Open Bar.”

4. Focus affinity ministry efforts (i.e., men’s, women’s, couples and singles) on creating steps, not destinations. Specialized events and short-term groups that are designed to appeal to specific affinities can be great first steps out of the anonymity of the auditorium. They can also be invite opportunities (i.e., first steps for friends). Thoughtful design can also build in next steps that lead to a group. See also “Three Distinctives of North Point’s Access Group Strategy” and “Design Your Connection Strategy With Unconnected People in Mind.”

5. Rewrite staff scorecards to clarify wins related to small group ministry growth and impact. Clarifying an organizational win is one thing. Drilling down to identify wins at the individual staff member level is an essential ingredient if you want to accelerate ministry growth and impact. See also “Who: The A Method for Hiring.”

6. Allocate resources (budget, on-campus space, staffing, etc.) to support small group ministry growth and impact. Want to accelerate small group ministry growth and impact? Is it reflected in the way you’re allocating resources? If you want to build a pervasive small group ministry, it will be reflected in the budget (staff, leader development, promotion, church-wide campaign, etc.). It will also be reflected in things like the way on-campus space is allocated (i.e., in the competition for space, events/steps that lead to group life will be prioritized over “destinations” that are ends in themselves). See also “Quotebook: Allocating Finite Resources.”

Mark Howell is the founder of, committed to helping churches launch, build, and sustain healthy small group ministries. He’s also the pastor of discipleship communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church. You can read Mark’s blog at or follow him on Twitter.

For the original article, visit

A Moratorium On 2015 Election By Chido Onumah.


Chido Onumah

I didn’t imagine I would return to this column, although temporarily, so soon after I decided to take a long break three weeks ago. But that was exactly what I found myself doing when I received a call from a friend last week informing me that Nigeria’s Senate President, Brig. Gen. David Bonaventure Mark (retd.), had voiced support for a “national conference” as a way out of our current political morass.

I was elated, even before I had the chance to explore the details of Mr. Mark’s position. I must confess I am not a fan of Mr. Mark. He is one of the most loathsome figures in Nigeria’s tortuous road to democracy and nationhood. Mr. Mark is a survivalist. For him, expediency is the name of the game. He once vowed to go on a shooting rampage if the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief M.K.O Abiola, was sworn in. A few years later, he would go into exile and lend support to pro-democracy groups during the dictatorship of Gen. Sani Abacha.

Mr. Mark has moved from assuring us he would put on his camouflage and fight another civil war rather than “negotiate” Nigeria to now acquiescing to a national conference “to confront the perceived or alleged structural distortions which have bred discontentment and alienation in some quarters”. So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when I finally got the opportunity to review Mr. Mark’s latest proposition. It was dripping with survivalism. But this is one issue I am ready to ignore the messenger and focus on the message.

Of course, there is nothing new about Mr. Mark’s current position other than the fact that he is the highest official in the present administration to publicly make a case for a “national conference”. Mr. Mark’s latest move, its shortcomings notwithstanding, is commendable. It is heartwarming that after years of denial, Mr. Mark has found the chutzpah to come out of the closet.

I crave the indulgence of readers to quote him extensively. During his September 17, 2013, speech to senators, Mr. Mark said:
“(On) the renewed calls to convene a national conference, let me counsel that we make haste slowly, and operate strictly within the parameters of our Constitution as we discuss the national question. We live in very precarious times, and in a world increasingly made fluid and toxic by strange ideologies and violent tendencies, all of which presently conspire to question the very idea of the nation state.

“But that is not to say that the nation should, like the proverbial ostrich, continue to bury its head in the sand and refuse to confront the perceived or alleged structural distortions which have bred discontentment and alienation in some quarters. This sense of discontentment and alienation has fueled extremism, apathy and even predictions of catastrophe for our dear nation.

“A conference of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities, called to foster frank and open discussions of the national question, can certainly find accommodation in the extant provisions of the 1999 Constitution which guarantee freedom of expression, and of association. To that extent, it is welcome. Nonetheless, the idea of a National Conference is not without inherent and fundamental difficulties.

“Problems of its structure and composition will stretch the letters and spirit of the Constitution and severely task the ingenuity of our constitutionalists. Be that as it may, such a conference, if and whenever convened should have only few red lines, chief among which would be the dismemberment of the country. Beyond that, every other question should be open to deliberations.

“However, I hasten to add that it would be unconstitutional to clothe such a conference with constituent or sovereign powers! But the resolutions of a national conference, consisting of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities, and called under the auspices of the Government of the Federation, will indeed carry tremendous weight. And the National Assembly, consisting of the elected representatives of the Nigerian people, though not constitutionally bound by such resolutions, will be hard put to ignore them in the continuing task of constitution review. But to circumvent the Constitution, and its provisions on how to amend it, and repose sovereignty in an unpredictable mass will be too risky a gamble and may ultimately do great disservice to the idea of one Nigeria”.

There are many things wrong with Mr. Mark’s position. First, the military decree which passes as the 1999 constitution – a constitution which had no input from Nigerians, one which Mr. Mark and his colleagues didn’t see prior to taking over from the military in May 1999 – is not worth the paper it’s printed on. As a mark (no pun intended) of its worthlessness, it ought to be publicly shredded. Second, sovereignty lies with the people. Mr. Mark would do well to dispense with the delusion that the chair-throwing, do-nothing National Assembly should be vested with the powers to define the “new Nigeria” we envisage. It would be tragic to say the least.

It is not for nothing that “political jobbers, sycophants, and hustlers have prematurely seized the political space, and are being allowed to set the tone of national discourse”. That is the nature of politics in Nigeria. Political office is not an opportunity to render service, but an avenue to plunder. It is a pointer to the fact that the last thing Nigeria needs now are elections.

That brings me to the question of the 2015 election. I propose a moratorium on the next general election slated for 2015. As a country, we’ll be deluding ourselves going into any election without resolving, or at least understanding and confronting, many if not all the fundamental issues of our nationhood.

For the edification of Mr. Mark and others who now accept, albeit grudgingly, the inevitability of the SNC, I shall paraphrase the salient points of the SNC – points that have been made popular overtime by many writers, including Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Femi Falana (SAN) Jaye Gaskia and, of course, Edwin Madunagu.

While it might be difficult for Nigeria to disintegrate into ethnic republics (I don’t know of any “ethnic nationality” that is willing or ready to go to war), the “Somaliazation” of Nigeria is a “clear and present danger”. While in principle the “unity of Nigeria” is beneficial, that unity can only be meaningful if it is founded on justice and equity.

The SNC is meant to prevent a one-sided, or unilateral and, therefore, violent, resolution of the current crisis. It is the only viable historical option, (though not at all times), but precisely at those points in a nation’s history when a crisis, signifying the bankruptcy of a social order or an existing political structure, cannot be resolved either by the existing state or by any other coalition of forces.
The SNC need not aspire to address all questions.  It should limit itself to the fundamental question of our national existence.  Other questions will be taken up by an elected Constituent Assembly or Constitutional Conference when the terms of our continued existence have been agreed upon by the SNC.

The SNC should not be conceived as a gathering of Nigeria’s ethnic nationalities, because Nigeria is not, and has never been, the arithmetical sum of ethnic nationalities. The SNC is not a Constituent Assembly or Constitutional Conference, and must not be confused with it. A Constituent Assembly or Constitutional Conference is normally put in place by an incumbent government under its own rules. Whatever form it takes, a Constituent Assembly or Constitutional Conference comes into being only when a basic direction of national renewal has been agreed upon, or imposed.

I am tempted to argue that in the planned SNC there should be a few “no-go areas”, but that would be presumptuous and reckless of me. A Sovereign National Conference proceeds with no assumption whatsoever; it is national in the truest sense of the term; it is pragmatic; it is self-constituted and, while it lasts, it is superior to any other political institution in the land, including the incumbent government. Only a referendum can alter even a single word in the decisions of the SNC.

Two weeks ago, The Guardian reported that President Jonathan was considering the option of a “sovereign national conference to douse political tension ahead (of the) 2015 presidential elections”.  Now is the time to make the SNC a reality. Rather than investing on a doomed second term agenda, the president should summon the courage to push the SNC agenda.

Nigeria is in dire need of statesmen and patriots, not vacillating politicians. As Edwin Madunagu has noted, a nation in crisis, like Nigeria, can advance in one of three directions:  Either it degenerates into anarchy (Liberia and Somalia) or disintegrates (Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union), or the whole nation meets to save itself.  The way to national recovery and renewal lies in the third direction.


Tag Cloud