Building Body Branches

I love words, and I love to see words put to effective, creative use. Just this morning, as I was reading the gospel of Mark, I was struck anew by Jesus’s ability to paint pictures with words. “Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed…” So often he spoke in parables, word pictures, as a means of describing truth. In fact, he used parables so often that Mark could say, “He did not speak to them without …

The Vine Project

The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne was a surprise bestseller. Coming from a small Australian publisher, it made its way into Mark Dever’s hands and he declared it “the best book I’ve read on the nature of church ministry.” The rest, as they say, is history. Pastors and church leaders were introduced to its helpful illustration of the vine and the trellis: the vine representing gospel ministry that reaches and nourishes people, and the trellis …

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Ask Me Anything (Jesus Calling, Family Integrated Church, Family Devotions, and More)

Today I am kicking off a new “mailbag” feature. A year ago I introduced Letters to the Editor, a means for readers of this site to provide input and feedback. Now I am adding a complementary feature, an opportunity for me to answer questions you have asked. Today’s questions concern Sarah Young and her books, family devotions, family integrated churches, personal devotions, and reading. Sarah Young and Jesus Calling Have you ever considered contacting Sarah Young and finding out her …

Taking Up a Collection in a Cashless World

I have always enjoyed the part of the worship service we call “the offering” or “the collection.” This is the time when the deacons pass the plates and each of us gives our financial gifts. It is a moment of both joy and solemnity as we express gratitude through generosity. It is an act of corporate worship as together we give back to the Lord what he has given to us. But the collection is going the way of the …

The Cracks Begin at the Bottom

San Francisco’s Millennium Tower is in trouble. The 58-story tower is home to some of the city’s wealthiest people, its apartments among the most expensive and desirable in the city. But recently its residents have begun to notice some troubling issues. Engineers who studied the building have been alarmed to find it has sunk 16 inches in the 7 years since it was built. Not only that, but it has developed a 2-inch lean at the bottom which translates to …

Why the Local Church Really Matters

As we prepare to worship God tomorrow, it may do us good to pause for just a few moments to consider the local church. What is the church? Why has God called us into these little communities? Does the local church really matter? It does! The local church is foundational to God’s plan for his people. In their book Church in Hard Places, Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley offer 6 reasons that the local church matters. The local church is …

The Missing Elements of Modern Worship

I once paid a visit to one of the most mega of America’s megachurches. It’s a church whose pastor is well-known, a church known for its innovation, a church held up as a model for modern evangelicalism. I went in with as open a mind as I could muster. I left perplexed. I was perplexed not by what was said or done in the service as much as what was left unsaid and undone. Since that visit I’ve had the …

3 Quick Questions Before Quitting Your Church

We all know there are times and circumstances in which the only right course of action is to leave a church. If the church leadership has apostatized or proven themselves unqualified for ministry, if they are preaching a false gospel, if they have surrendered to the culture, we need to get out. We can leave these churches boldly and without looking back, shaking the dust from our feet. But more often than not, we leave churches for what we might consider …

Maybe You Need To Declare a Name Amnesty Sunday

It’s probably a silly idea. It’s probably the kind of thing we came up with late on a Friday afternoon and laughed about before realizing, “Actually, maybe there’s something to this.” Somehow it became a bit of a tradition for Grace Fellowship Church and, even better, one we rather enjoy. We call it “Name Amnesty Sunday” and we hold one every few months. Let me tell you how it works and how it might benefit your church. You’ve had the …

The Beginner’s Guide to Conflict Resolution

One matter of continual concern to me is interpersonal conflict within the church. It’s not the existence or even the quantity of conflict, but the inability or unwillingness to deal with it when it arises, and this despite the Bible’s clear teaching that Christians are to resolve conflict and how Christians are to resolve conflict. It’s simple: As believers we are not permitted by God to have open, unaddressed quarrels with other believers. We are to work to bring any …