I had the pleasure of meeting with the Baptist Collegiate Network this evening. This is a network of leaders in Baptist Collegiate Ministries. These guys are passionate about making disciple-making disciples on the nation’s college campuses.
While meeting with them, I learned of a great resource for evangelism. It is the Gospel Appointments website. Be sure to check out this website which details a very simple approach to meeting people and sharing the gospel.
The Gospel Appointments approach was designed to help college students meet and share the gospel with other college students. However, it is not limited to just college students. Check out this resource, set up an appointment, and share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are releasing a project today that we’ve been working on for quite awhile. The Gospel Conversation app is a resource for all church members who would like to be intentional in their personal evangelism efforts.
When you download this app to your phone, you will have access to different evangelism tools such as 3 Circles, Gospel Lighthouse, Prayer Walking, etc. You will also find a link to the Caskey Center blog where we will continue to post helpful articles.
Two areas of the app are forms. One form, “Gospel Conversations,” is for you to enter information regarding a gospel conversation you may have had. There are two purposes for this: 1) to help New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary celebrate it’s centennial anniversary by engaging in 100,000 gospel conversations, and 2) to foster a certain amount of accountability.
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is celebrating it’s centennial anniversary this year. The seminary was started by act of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1917 in order to train pastors in a mission field. New Orleans, LA was not like any other city or state in the early twentieth century. It’s quite unique even today! So, for the 2017-2018 school year, we would like your help with gospel conversations in your mission field.
Two key components of effective evangelism is intentionality and accountability. With this app, we are asking you to intentionally engage in gospel conversations with the people God puts in your life. We want to help you by keeping you accountable. This is not a legalistic type of accountability. Rather you will receive regular encouraging emails (not too regular. We don’t want to be a nuisance!) regarding personal evangelism. I imagine you might want to know how well your fellow Christ-followers are doing in sharing the gospel.
So there it is. The Gospel Conversation App is here for you. Let me challenge you to make an effort each day, each week, to prayerfully look for the divine appointments God has prepared for you. Share the gospel in love. Provide those who are ready with the opportunity to make Jesus their Savior and Lord. Then let us know about your conversations in the app.
Today’s guest post is from Brad Winter, Rec Director at NOBTS. It is a repost from his blog site, I Must Decrease.
This is a piece I wrote for the Dean of Students Newsletter at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
I remember stepping on that scale three years ago and realizing that I had enough. If I was truly going to go wherever God wanted me to, I had to change my lifestyle. I just knew that if God called me to a remote part of the world at 300 plus pounds, that I would struggle the whole time there. Sadly, I would not be able to honor and serve God to my fullest ability.
Excellence in physical health and wellness is vital not only for being available to go wherever God wants you but also for your own well-being. Physical health and wellness, when placed in the top tier of our priorities help with stress and anxiety. It also helps with battling depression, it affects your work performance, protects against heart disease, and other medical issues that we encounter in our lives.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Take some time this summer and reflect on where you are with your health. See which areas in your physical health and wellness that are not glorifying God at the current moment and work on those areas. Then, get busy getting healthy in order to go where God wants you and to glorify Him in that aspect of your life. It’s tough, but you can do this!
Pastors should be purposeful in leading their churches. A pastor who resigns himself to simply show up at the regular meeting times, and teach a nice Bible study or preach a sermon is not honoring his calling. We are called to lead the churches to make disciples who make disciples. Healthy churches do that through evangelism, discipleship, worship, etc. In order to keep the church on mission, it is important to evaluate your church’s health regularly.
John Finkelde recently posted an article here about five metrics he suggests churches should measure regularly to stay on course. Read the article for his explanation, but the five items are:
Baptisms as a ratio of worship attendance
Average age of the congregation compared to the average age of the community
Percentage of adults serving
I agree with most of what he says regarding the metrics. If the church is baptizing roughly 10% of it’s average worship attendance, it is more likely to be a healthy church. Baptisms reflect the presence of evangelism and discipleship. I agree the average age of the congregation should be mirror the community. I would also add that the racial/ethnic and economic composition of the church and community should be similar as well. This indicates the church is making an impact in the community.
The percentage of adults serving indicates discipleship and equipping effectiveness in the church. I would probably tweak this metric to measure the percentage of baptized believers who are serving. If we believe that the Holy Spirit empowers all believers to engage in ministry, then we must believe that baptized children and youth must be engaged in ministry.
Visitor flow refers to keeping track of the number of visitors in the church. It is extremely important to show hospitality to those guests who visit the church. Smaller churches tend to have a more intimate setting, and they must make guests feel like they are part of the family.
Secondary giving deals with giving beyond the regular offering. This could be missions giving (Lottie Moon, Annie Armstrong, etc.), capital campaigns, or any number of designated offerings. I would adjust this to examine the percentage given to mission and ministry through the budget as well as through designated gifts. It will reflect the institutional attitude of missional giving as well as the personal attitudes.
I would also recommend the pastor and each staff minister keep a personal assessment dashboard. Here are some metrics I would recommend for your personal ministry dashboard:
Keep up with the quality and frequency of your personal spiritual disciplines.
Spend quality time with your spouse.
Invest in time with your family.
Regularly meet with a small group.
Assess your personal health and fitness.
Assess your emotional health.
Rate the quality of your sabbath.
How productive are you being?
How effectively are you managing your time?
Regular assessment keeps us focused on the mission. How do you measure your church’s health? Would you add or change anything for the personal ministry dashboard?
I read an interesting article about the lack of musicians available in the church. Scott Barkley, production editor at the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Christian Index, wrote about the effects of the cultural change throughout America. What was once considered a rite of passage for children has diminished. Fewer kids are taking piano and other music lessons. More kids are involved in sports. While this may be healthy for kids who sit around looking at tablets, it has an unexpected negative consequence for the church. Also, those who are skilled musicians are often drawn to secular opportunities. We are seriously lacking talented musicians to lead in worship.
Rather than bemoan the state our culture is in, we need to be proactive. This issue affects small churches and large churches. Many churches have adopted the use of recorded music (CDs, digital music, etc.), and others are contacting local college ministries.
Beyond the immediate measures, I believe it is important to make systemic changes so that the church has musicians in the future. Here are three suggestions to help with the future worship of your church:
Disciple young believers with musical abilities to see how they can use their skills/gifts for the kingdom.
Encourage current musicians in the church to mentor/teach potential musicians. Give them space to practice. Give them opportunities to play during worship.
Disciple the congregation to be open to different types of worship expression. Many younger musicians are capable at contemporary worship, but are intimidated by hymns. Allow them to worship God in their own cultural expression.
What have you found that would help in these types of situations?
CEO– /ˌsēˌēˈō/ – noun– an individual who attends church on Christmas and Easter Only
A story has been of a husband who told his wife that he would do anything to save their failing marriage. It was Passion Week, and the believing wife knew that the Gospel was the only thing that could change her husband’s life. So, in a false move, she told her husband that if he would go to church with her on Easter Sunday that she would never ask again. Reluctantly, the husband agreed. He arrived with a cautious but opened mind. Unfortunately, the service began by the pastor belittling everyone who was only there because it was Easter. The husband left the church that day never to return to any church ever again.
This story is harsh, but this sort of story will take place in many churches this Easter. CEOs will be a part of your church this weekend and instead of condemning them let us embrace the opportunity:
By Preaching the Gospel. This Sunday may be the largest concentration of lost people in your church all year. So Pastor, please preach the Gospel and what the resurrection truly means.
By Praying for their Salvation. Begin now praying for the family and friends of your church members who will be coming to church possibly for the first time all year or in many years.
By Training the Greeters. The first perception of the church for new guests will be the greeters. Make sure they have a smile and the information needed to make the guests feel welcome.
By Connecting them to Your Church. People want to feel like they can be a part of something bigger than themselves so make sure that you have an intentional plan to connect guests to your church. Provide information about small groups, upcoming events, and for families, information about youth and children’s ministry.
By Creating an Intentional Plan for Follow-Up. Every guest that provides information to your church should have a follow-up contact within 24-48 hours. Allow those who visited your church know that they were welcome that day and any future date they return.
Each week the church should be reminded that every person that walks through the doors of the sanctuary is a person created in the image of God and a person in need of the salvation found only in Jesus. As a church, we should anticipate and welcome the guests that come to our church. We should treat them with respect and avoid anything that will hinder them from knowing Jesus, especially on Easter Sunday. So please do not criticize CEOs.
The Caskey Center for Church Excellence would like to invite you to our annual No Restraints Conference April 21-22, 2017. The No Restraints Conference is a free two day event that seeks to encourage the minister, the minister’s wife, and the overall ministry taking place in smaller membership churches. This weekend is not limited to church staff members only and is open to anyone who has a love for the ministry of smaller membership churches.
This weekend will include two keynote plenary speakers: Dr. Ed Stetzer and Phil Waldrep.
Dr. Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer has written extensively in the areas of church planting, revitalization, evangelism, and pastoring.
Phil Waldrep is the President and Founder of Phil Waldrep Ministries, a ministry that seeks to provide Biblical truth with practical application. Waldrep speaks at conferences and retreats in churches across America. He has a heart for pastors and seeks to encourage them through Scripture. Waldrep is also the author of Reaching Your Prodical
Breakout sessions for the event will include topics such as Logos Bible Software training, Money Matters, Accountability, and a special Excellence in Marriage session lead by Dr. Chuck Kelley, President of NOBTS and his wife, Dr. Rhonda Kelley.
This month’s podcast features Joel Southerland. Joel serves as the Executive Director of Evangelism for the North American Mission Board. Join us today as we discuss evangelism and ministry. Show notes can be found here.
Many of us have seen it or heard of it. A preacher shares the gospel message with a group of children. At the end of the presentation he asks something like, “How many of you want to have Jesus as your Savior today?” A few hands go up, then a few more. Before you know it little hands all over the room are raised. The preacher does the only thing that he has been taught to do. He asks all the children in the room whose hands are raised to close their eyes as he guides them through the “Sinner’s Prayer.”
Unfortunately, this is not the best way to talk to children about Jesus. It is not the “Sinner’s Prayer” or the public presentation of the gospel that makes this situation uncomfortable, but the fear that the children may not understand the decision they have made. Child evangelism is probably more difficult than any other age group. Children have limited knowledge and understanding of our church language and vocabulary. Children may even struggle with why they need Jesus in the first place. So, with all of these variables that take place in child evangelism here are just a few do’s and don’ts:
Don’t be manipulative. Children need Jesus, but they still need to make that decision for themselves. They don’t need to make a decision to impress their friends, and they don’t need you to make them scared of hell simply to accept Jesus.
Don’t pressure. Much research has been published verifying that the likelihood of someone becoming a Christian diminishes after the age of eighteen. While this should call the church to urgently reach children, we should never pressure a child into making a decision that they do not want to make or do not clearly understand.
Don’t use adult terminology that they do not understand. Words such as sin, repent, righteousness, sanctification, and justification are all concepts that a child should come to understand, but use definitions and concepts that they will understand now. This can also mean you cannot give them a bunch of bible verses and expect them to understand those either. Even some of the modern translations are too difficult for children to understand.
Don’t turn away question. Children learn by asking questions. When a child asks an inconvenient question answer it anyway. This is a teachable moment that shapes the child.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Often times we can feel like failures when a person does not accept Christ, but that is not our fault. Children especially learn through repetition so tell them about Jesus over and over.
Do show them that you care. Children will always listen to people who they know care about them. So have fun, be silly, and show them the faith you have. If they decide to follow Jesus, continue to care for them by showing them how to follow Jesus daily.
Do tell them it is important. While not pressuring, explain to the child why salvation is important. They may have never considered that they even need Jesus.
Do be clear. When sharing the gospel with children make sure that you use words and examples that they understand. Evangelistic tools that include visuals and pictures such as bracelets and EvangeCubes may be beneficial.
Do share the gospel with their lost parents. One of the best ways to reach a lost child with the gospel is to reach their lost parents. Children value what their parents value and they talk about what their parents talk about. They are at times mini versions of their parents. If you can reach their parents, you have a far better chance of reaching the child.
Child evangelism is difficult, but it works. When I was seven years old, I attended a Vacation Bible where a church and a pastor used these principles to share Jesus with me. The gospel presented to me that day was loving but not pressured. It was urgent but not manipulative. I am forever grateful for that day when God used them to share Jesus with a child, like me.