Welcome to a new year of Church Leader Insights. We know you’re going to enjoy the reading we have lined up for you this year.
Preaching is a grind I welcome every week. Expositing God’s Word is one of the toughest but most rewarding aspects of being a pastor. You can’t treat preaching like a sprint, rushing to get a response on Sundays. It’s more like a marathon, a paced lope in which long strides are made over time.
Illustrations are not the most important part of a sermon. The meat is the exposition of the text—always. The illustrations add spice and flavor. Nobody wants to eat just spices for dinner. But then, meat without flavoring is bland. In most cases, sermons need a little flavor.
Illustrations also help the listener to understand your points, especially the more abstract or theological ones. You know those technical manuals that “help” you put together cheap furniture? That’s your sermon without any illustrations. They may get the job done, but nobody will enjoy them.
Where do I get my sermon illustrations? I have five key sources.
1. Real life. About half of my sermons begin with a personal illustration, preferably a recent one. It’s good for your guests and new members to hear a little about who you are and what’s happening in your life. Additionally, your members are more likely to relate to you if you open up about your own life.
There are lots of multisite churches in America today, and they are predominately located in cities. I think smaller, rural churches need to consider going multisite as well. Thom Rainer recently wrote, “Multisite used to be something only large churches tried. Now, smaller churches are getting in on the strategy.” Here are four reasons why adding an additional campus needs to be on your radar as an option for your growth needs.
1. There is a need for the people in the next community over to be reached with the gospel. Whether we like it or not, our church will only reach people in a certain proximity. Sure, we can point to that family that is driving from 45 minutes away to attend our services, but they are usually the exception. They are usually not the ones who are inviting their neighbors to make the drive and check out our ministry. I believe people who are far from God will not drive over 15-20 minutes to attend a church with any regularity (most of our regulars won’t drive that far either). With this in mind, there is a need to take the ministry of the Gospel to the surrounding communities where our people are driving from in order to help them invite their neighbors, friends and co-workers to church. If the community is large enough to have its own elementary school, then it is large enough to handle an effective ministry in the town. The elementary school shows there are enough young families with children to warrant a ministry geared to reach them.
Whenever our team works with a church on strategic planning, the church pinpoints several “core issues” they believe are the most important things holding them back from being the church God has called them to be. After identifying those areas, they can make plans that will actually move them towards sustained health.
We’ve worked with a lot of churches in the last few years, and we wanted to update you on the trends we see in the core issues that consistently arise. Here are the top five:
1) Discipleship Pathway
Churches are having difficulty creating a solid and simple discipleship path to help regular attendees, as well as newcomers, take next steps in their walk with Christ. Many churches have an overwhelming number of programs available, but no cohesive path that helps people learn which steps to take and when. Based on Jesus’ commission to His followers when He left earth, we think this is a big problem.
2) Leadership Development
In many churches, there has never been a priority placed on leadership development. For churches to continue growing, this area cannot be overlooked. Senior Leadership Teams rarely have a person with the specific role of championing leadership development. Breakdowns happen when this is treated like a program instead of a foundational aspect to the growth and health of a church.
y dad taught me many things. One of the most valuable life lessons I learned from him was the importance of perseverance. World War II leader Winston Churchill understood the importance of perseverance as well. In the darkest days of World War II, Churchill gave a speech at his old school. He walked to the podium, surveyed the crowd of awe-struck students, and said “Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”
So, we should live lives of perseverance and teach our children to do the same. Quitting should not be an option except in rare circumstances. Here are 10 things to consider while teaching your child if or when to quit.
1. Listening to your child.
Have your child explain to you why they want to quit. Really listen to what they are saying, gently ask questions, and empathize with how they are feeling.
2. Understanding the entire story.
One source of information is never enough. Sure, you need to listen to your child with an understanding ear. It’s also necessary to listen to their teacher, coach, or whoever you need to in order to make sure you have all the facts.
3. The significance of commitment.
We want to teach our children to always keep their commitments. It’s important for our children to understand the importance of following through with everything they say they’ll do.