Category Archives: Church

Three Resources Focusing on Spiritual Maturity in Churches

Churches aim to help followers of Jesus become more like Jesus; but, how successful are they in actually doing it? In 2004, Willow Creek Community Church under the leadership of Bill Hybels began a research project called REVEAL to determine how well they were doing to grow followers of Jesus. These 3 books provide an overview and results of this ground-breaking research as well as practical ideas churches can implement to better make disciples:

“Is your church really making a difference? How do you know? Do you ever lie awake at night wondering . . . Do our programs really help people grow? Are we putting our resources into ministries that genuinely change lives? Are we helping people become more like Christ, or just keeping them busy? For years, church leaders have relied on numbers to help answer questions like these. In other words, we ask the “How many?” question. How many. . .members? Baptisms? Decisions for Christ? How many attend each week? Are in small groups? Actively serve? Tithe? Numbers can be helpful, but they don’t reveal the whole story. Numbers can’t peer into the human heart. When it comes to spiritual growth, we need to be able to measure more than numbers. We need a glimpse of people’s attitudes, thoughts and emotions. We need a tool that reveals the heart of each person. Now Willow Creek invites you to learn what it discovered in a three-year process of study and research-involving six other churches as well as congregants from Willow Creek. Discover the four segments that characterize the journey of spiritual growth. Learn more about what catalyzes and stunts spiritual growth. And understand how the church needs to change in order to help people become more like Christ. What you discover here may challenge you. Or confirm nagging suspicions you’ve had all along. Either way, the findings in REVEAL will undoubtedly change the way you think about church-and what it really takes to make a difference.”

“Follow Me draws on the latest research to provide unprecedented insights into what drives-and derails-spiritual growth. It addresses questions every ministry leader wrestles with: How does spiritual growth happen? How do we help people move toward a more intimate and committed relationship to Christ? And it reveals the astonishingly honest responses people gave to questions about their spiritual lives. More than anything else, what people really want is change-they want to become more like Jesus. And they’re looking to the church-to you-to help them grow.”

“One of the church’s primary responsibilities is to foster genuine spiritual growth in people’s lives. Today’s pastors bring tremendous effort and passion to this task, but they are often disappointed by people who sit in the pews for years, knowing about Jesus but never really knowing him. In 2004, Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago undertook a three-year study to measure spiritual growth called the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey. Over the next six years, additional data was collected from over a quarter million people in well over a thousand churches of every size, denomination, and geographic area. Move presents verifiable, fact-based, and somewhat startling findings from the latest REVEAL research, drawing on compelling stories from actual people—congregation members of varying spiritual maturity, as well as pastors who are equally candid as they share their disappointments and their successes. It provides a new lens through which church leaders can see and measure the evidence of spiritual growth. The local church is uniquely equipped to foster spiritual growth and challenge people to pursue a life of full devotion to Christ. Move helps pastors and church leaders inspire and direct that challenge with confidence as they lead their congregations to move closer to Christ.”

Your turn… If you are familiar with REVEAL, share some of your insights here.

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Filed under Church, Spiritual Formation

Three Powerful (and Free) Tools via LifeChurch.tv

Lifechurch.tv is one of the most innovative churches in the world. They are the church that built and made the YouVersion Bible App available for free (more than 137 million people have downloaded it at this moment). One of the things I love about Lifechurch.tv is that they create and share all of the amazing tools and resources they use. They share them via a website called Open: A Digital Mission of Lifechurch.tv (make sure you check that site out for resources for Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, Small Groups, Worship, Sermons and so on). You can find some of the places I’ve mentioned them in the past here.

In this post I want to point out three powerful tools they designed and have made available for other churches to use:

This free and customizable platform can help your church launch an online ministry with embedded video, live chat, social media connections, and more.

Better information helps you make better decisions. This free online tool helps you track data for your church, including attendance, salvations, baptisms, and more.

This performance review tool helps churches promote a staff-wide culture of continuous, collaborative growth.

Your turn… Which of these resources have you heard about and are using?

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Filed under Church, Church Leadership, Creativity, Technology

Three Series by Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley and North Point Community Church put out some great resources aimed at leading people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Here are 3 series I think you’ll enjoy (make sure you click on the resources provided for each lesson — great for personal growth and/or small groups):

  • Life Apps by Andy Stanley and Jeff Henderson

“There are various apps available for download with categories ranging from weather and traffic to addicting games and networking tools. With such a huge selection to choose from, countless apps are downloaded, but only a few are used. When it comes to our lives, the Bible gives us many applications to live by, but the change happens as we apply them. In this 6-week series, Andy Stanley and Jeff Henderson identify five life applications worth living by.”

“We throw the “grow” word around a good bit. Specifically, we talk about a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. But what exactly does that mean? What exactly is growing?  We believe there are five primary things God uses to grow our faith. These five things are not listed anywhere in the Bible. We discovered them by observing how God works in the lives of believers – and even unbelievers. We are not proposing that these are the only leverage points God uses. But every time we hear someone recount his or her faith journey, at least one of these five dynamics is part of the story.”

“Everything has a beginning. Every person, every idea, every journey starts somewhere. Whether it’s one small step in a new direction or a major event, from that point forward nothing is ever the same. It’s not always comfortable. It’s not always easy. But it’s a start.”

Your turn… What are some other series by Andy Stanley you’ve enjoyed?

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Filed under Church, Discipleship, Sermons, Spiritual Formation

Three Books by Andy Stanley

If you’ve browsed around my blog much you already know I’m a big fan of Andy Stanley. He is a great leader and communicator. He has a way of taking complex concepts and making them simple, understandable, and practical (extremely relevant). You can find lots of great resources on his website. Today, I simply want to mention 3 books you should check out:

“Drawing on two decades of experience mentoring a rising generation, seasoned visionary Andy Stanley shows how to discover and play to your strengths, harness your fears, leverage uncertainty, enlist a leadership coach, and maintain moral authority. Capable men and women will eventually catch, pass, and replace the current generation of leaders. Embracing these essentials, you will not only excel in your personal leadership, but ensure a no-regrets experience for those who choose to follow you.”

“Let’s face it. With all the demands of the workplace and all the details of a family it’s only a matter of time before one bumps into the other. And many of us end up cheating our families when the commitments of both collide. In this practical book, Andy Stanley will help you. . .

  • establish priorities and boundaries to protect what you value most.
  • learn the difference between saying your family is your priority and actually making them your priority.
  • discover tested strategies for easing tensions at home and at work.

Watch as this powerful book transforms your life from time-crunching craziness to life-changing success.”

Deep & Wide provides church leaders with an in-depth look into North Point Community Church and its strategy for creating churches unchurched people absolutely LOVE to attend. Andy writes, “Our goal is to create weekend experiences so compelling and helpful that even the most skeptical individuals in our community would walk away with every intention of returning the following week . . . with a friend!” If your team is more concerned with who you are REACHING than who you are KEEPING, Deep & Wide will be more than a book you read; it will be a resource you come back to over and over!

Erich’s note: these are just 3 of the many resources by Andy that you’ll find helpful. Read them and then check out the others.

Your turn… What are some other resources by Andy Stanley that have impacted your life?

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Filed under Books, Church, Church Leadership, Family, Work

Three Churches That Provide Great Resources

Here are 3 Churches that help make me better. One of the ways they do this is by the free resources they generously provide. I think you’ll enjoy spending some time on their sites and benefit from the resources too:

LifeChurch.tv wants to make a lasting difference in your life, in our community, and in the world. How do we go about that? By leading people to become fully devoted followers of Christ. That’s the driving purpose behind everything we do. Here are a few links that will take you directly to some resources they provide (make sure you explore all the different areas on each page):

  1. Weekend Messages
  2. Talk It Over Archive (includes video messages and discussion guides for each lesson/series)
  3. Resources for Your Personal Growth
  4. Resources for Churches (includes lots of great resources churches can use at no cost)
  5. Featured Resources (this page has some of the ones above and more all in one place / make sure you spend some time here)

NewSpring Church exists to reach people far from God and teach them to follow Jesus step by step. We believe that growing people change, that we can’t do life alone, that saved people serve people, that we can’t outgive God and that found people find people. You can learn more about their VISION here. Here are a few links to resources they provide:

  1. Weekend Messages
  2. Resources for Your Personal Growth (their Next Steps page is helpful too)
  3. Resources for Churches (Make sure you click on each tab | Series | Students | Kids | Groups | Volunteers | for lots of great resources)

So that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ. That was the vision of Elevation Church when it began in 2006 with a group of eight families led by Pastor Steven Furtick. Over the past seven years, that vision has remained the same as our church has grown to seven locations in the Charlotte, NC area with multiple extension sites around the U.S. and Canada. You can learn more about Elevation Church here. Here are some links to some of their resources:

  1. Weekend Messages Go to the Sermons To Go Page for a variety of ways to watch messages.
  2. Resources for Your Personal Growth (fyi: this link goes to Steven Furtick’s blog where you’ll find resources to help you grow)
  3. Resources for Churches
  4. Worship Resources

Your turn… What are some churches you know of that share great resources.

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Filed under Church, Transformation

Three Books that Focus on Millennials and the Church

As a follow up to the 3 articles I shared on Monday, I thought some of you might be interested in diving deeper into the Millennial generation and their views on church and faith by exploring these books (I’m more familiar with the first 2 but all 3 look good):

Millions of young Christians are disconnecting from church as they transition into adulthood. They’re real people, not just statistics. And each one has a story to tell. Now the bestselling author of unChristian trains his researcher’s eye on these young believers. Where Kinnaman’s first book unChristian showed the world what outsiders aged 16-29 think of Christianity, You Lost Me shows why younger Christians aged 16-29 are leaving the church and rethinking their faith. Based on new research, You Lost Me shows pastors, church leaders, and parents how we have failed to equip young people to live “in but not of” the world and how this has serious long-term consequences. More importantly, Kinnaman offers ideas on how to help young people develop and maintain a vibrant faith that they embrace over a lifetime.

At more than 78 million strong, the Millennials—those born between 1980 and 2000—have surpassed the Boomers as the larger and more influential generation in America. Now, as its members begin to reach adulthood, where the traits of a generation really take shape, best-selling research author Thom Rainer (Simple Church) and his son Jess (a Millennial born in 1985) present the most comprehensive research project on Millennials from a Christian worldview perspective ever undertaken.

Research, which began in early June 2009, is based on 1200 interviews members of the Millennials that aim to better understand them personally, professionally, and spiritually. Chapters report intriguing how-and-why findings on family matters (they are closer-knit than previous generations), their desire for diversity (consider the wave of mixed race and ethnic adoptions), Millennials and the new workplace, their attitude toward money, the media, the environment, and perhaps most tellingly, religion.

The Post-Church Christian by J. Paul Nyquist and Carson Nyquist

You’ve heard the stats by now: the Millennial generation is leaving the church. Walking away in disillusionment and frustration, they are looking for new communities to welcome them. As they seek to follow Jesus, they are leaving the churches they grew up in to find a new way. In an attempt to exemplify the story of Millennials and seek answers for the future, Paul Nyquist, President of Moody Bible Institute, has teamed up with his son, Carson Nyquist, to share an honest and thoughtful conversation on this topic. As father and son they’ve experienced this generational disconnect, both personally and in the church.  Hear their story as they converse about the experiences of the Millennials in the church and share thoughts for how to move forward.

Your turn… What are some other good books that focus on the millennials and their view of church and faith?

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Filed under Books, Church, Millennials