What’s worse than a person being lost in sin and separated from Jesus?

Answer: A person being lost in sin and having no one who cares!

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This Sunday is the Superbowl of Christian Sundays! This Sunday is Easter!

It’s a GREAT time to invite a friend! Continue Reading…

If you want your church to be more effective in reaching people for Jesus, it’s important to constantly improve.

Learn what works. Learn what doesn’t. Make changes.

Smart Questionsphoto credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

Here are 16 smart questions that all pastors & church leaders must ask.

  1. Is the church as hungry as it used to be?

    Reaching the lost is tough business. It’s easy to become comfortable and let your foot off the gas.

    But complacency is the enemy of growth.

    Make sure you’re always moving forward.

  2. What small changes can I make today that will help me become a more effective leader?

    This could be as simple as waking up 1 hour earlier to pray and study, making it a habit to exercise daily, or spending more time with you spouse.

  3. Does the church have an engaging online presence?

    Let’s be honest, many people will find your church via Google and then decide whether or not to visit based solely on the “vibe” of your website.

    Is your website easy-to-navigate and appealing to guests? If not, it’s time to step-up and make that investment.

    Here are 3 churches in Raleigh, NC that get it right!

  4. Continue Reading…

I never met my grandfather. Everything I know about him I’ve heard second-hand.

He was a man whose large physical stature was matched by his outgoing personality.

faithphoto credit: nealh2008 via photopin cc

By day he was farmer who raised tobacco and by night he sold homemade moonshine.

He loved his family and he loved to hunt.

From everything I can tell, he was like many other hard-working Americans of his generation, doing his best to provide for his family.

But the most important thing I know about him is that one day he made a critical decision that not only altered his life, but the lives of many generations to come.

At the age of 35, my grandfather gave his heart to the Lord and shortly thereafter surrendered to the call to become a preacher.

His moonshinin’ days were over. He turned them in for something even more potent.

From the rooftop of his barn, he started his very first church. And for the next 20 years prior to his death, he preached the gospel faithfully, leading hundreds of people into relationship with Christ and impacting many more.

At his funeral, hundreds of people showed up to pay their respects to this “giant” of Christian faith.

Here are 3 important lessons about faith that I’ve learned from his life:

  1. You don’t have to be ready, you just have to be available.

    Whenever you operate in a spirit of humbleness and obedience, God will use you.

    Education, income level, talents…none of that matters. God is bigger than your circumstances and He always gets the glory when you are obedient. Continue Reading…

I can’t even fathom the impact the church could have on the world if every Christian discovered the joy of generosity.

Seriously, take a minute to think about it.

Joy of Generosityphoto credit: Scott Johns

Imagine what Christian outreach might look like if the church wasn’t constrained by a lack of financial resources.

Here’s a fact:

But those dollars are useless unless you discover the joy of generosity.

Culture gives you a thousand and one reasons not to give.

Well here are ten powerful reasons why I think Christians should love to give.

  1. Giving shows God that He is first in your life.

    God is a jealous God. He wants to be first, even before our love of money.

  2. Giving allows you to have an eternal impact regardless of your talents or income level.

    You may not be able to preach a sermon, play an instrument, or lead a choir in worship, but it takes nothing more than a commitment to give. Continue Reading…

This week I’m guest blogging for Injoy Stewardship Solutions. Injoy is one of the strategic ministry partners of Northpark Church.

If you’re a pastor or church leader, I want to invite you over to visit Injoy‘s website.

spiritual growth

This week I’ll be doing a 3-part mini-series that covers these topics:

  • 3 Keys to Create a Thriving Culture of Generosity in Your Church
  • How to EXPLODE Generosity from the Pulpit
  • “Thou Shalt Be Inwardly Focused”…Said Jesus Never

This blog mini-series will help grow your church spiritually and hopefully challenge your personal generosity.

Today I also want to share with you 5 resources that will enhance spiritual growth for you and your church.

  1. Free Sermon Series, Graphics, & Video Bumpers.

    If you’re a church planter or pastor of a growing church, you need to check out the resource vault of Anthony Braswell. Pastor Anthony is the Lead Pastor of Northpark Church and he has a HUGE heart to help equip other pastors.

    You can spend thousands of dollars on relevant sermon series, graphics, and video intros/bumpers, or you can check out his resource vault and get tons of great content for free. Click here to check it out.
    Continue Reading…

Most people simply don’t understand tithing.

To many Christians it seems like some sort of country club due. Another bill in the long list of monthly expenses.

Tithingphoto credit: More Good Foundation via photopin cc

Giving is supposed to be an act of worship that draws you closer to the heart of God.

Then why is it that the concept of tithing, giving the first 10% of one’s income, has become so divisive in the church?

Christians debate questions like:

Is tithing still even required? Wasn’t it an Old Testament law? Didn’t Christ abolish the law with His death and resurrection?

Should I tithe off the gross or net of my income?

Does God really expect me to tithe if I’m struggling in my personal finances?

I “tithe” my time to the church. Isn’t that enough?

These questions all have the same recurring theme–what’s the least I can give and still receive God’s blessings.

When you debate these questions, you totally miss the point.
Continue Reading…

NEVER be afraid to encourage people to give.

Jesus taught constantly on money and possessions. Don’t believe me? Consider this:

  • Jesus talked about money more than He did Heaven and Hell combined.
  • Jesus talked about money more than anything except the Kingdom of God.
  • 11 of the 39 Biblical parables deal with money.
  • 1 out of every 7 verses in the gospel of Luke discusses money.

Open Bible

photo credit: Ryk Neethling via photopin cc

If it was important to Jesus, it should be important to you too.

Here are 6 actionable steps to increase the offering this Sunday:

  1. Practice the 1-to-5 Principle.

    For every one minute of service time that is dedicated to the offering, spend 5 minutes in preparation. Don’t make the mistake of simply “winging it.” Approach the offering with the same level of focused preparation that you do for your sermon.

    It’s EXTREMELY important. The offering funds all the ministries of your church.
    Continue Reading…

Death is the ultimate statistic: 1 out of 1 people will die. I want to leave a legacy when I die. I know you do too.

Muhammed Ali once said, “Don’t count your days. Make your days count.”

Deathbedphoto credit: tomroper via photopin cc

Here’s a non-comprehensive list of 10 things you will never say on your deathbed:

  1. I was too generous.”

    Your legacy won’t be defined by what you accumulate. Your legacy will be defined by what you give away. Be generous with your time, talents, and treasure. Invest in people. Meet needs. Be the hands and feet of Christ.

  2. I should have kissed my spouse less.” 

    Successful long-term relationships are characterized by physical affection. Kiss your spouse. Everyday. Every chance you get. No exceptions.
    Continue Reading…

Only a few years ago, money was my number one lust. Giving it away definitely wasn’t on my radar.

But lucky for me, generosity is an acquired skill. A skill that can be learned by anyone.

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photo credit: Powerhouse Museum via photopin cc

Here are the four stages you must travel through as you grow in generosity…

The 4 Stages of Giving:

  1. Giving is a chore.

    I’d just given my life to Christ. I now felt the compulsion to give to my church. It was uncomfortable and I didn’t like it.

    For me, this stage was filled with 2 emotions–regret and greed. Regret said, “But Larry, you haven’t even paid off your credit cards yet.” Greed said, “Do you realize what stuff you could buy with this money?”

    This is the one stage that can’t be skipped. You will experience these emotions on the road to generous. And when you do, know you’re heading in the right direction…
    Continue Reading…

The mission of the church is simple–Make disciples who make more disciples.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:16-20).”

Abundance

Unfortunately, the mission of the church sometimes becomes clouded.  And it’s usually a mentality problem.

The way I see it, churches typically have one of two types of mindsets:

  1. Those with an abundance mentality.

  2. Those with a scarcity mentality.

What type of church is yours?

As I was drinking a cup of coffee this morning, I jotted down some church characteristics to help you answer that question.

8 Characteristics of Churches with an Abundance Mentality:

  1. They champion the success of other churches in their area.

    They realize that a single church can’t pastor an entire city. They believe in the power of partnership. They understand that we are all on the same team.

  2. They readily share their knowledge, contacts, resources, and “secrets” with other churches.

    I once saw my pastor give away 5 years worth of sermon resources (messages, notes, graphics, and video bumpers) to 14 church planters in our area.

    I was blown away.

    It challenged me to be more generous.

    By the way, you can get some of those FREE sermon resources by CLICKING HERE. Continue Reading…

This week I’ve traded over 50 emails with Christians who have a personal relationship with Jesus, but are struggling with giving.

A businessman holding a wallet with dollar bills

They’ve asked me some tough questions:

“What if I can’t afford to be generous?”

“How do I start giving if I’m strapped with debt?”

“I’m living paycheck to paycheck. What’s your advice to me?”

First understand this:

I promise that wasn’t a callous statement. Let me explain.

To grow in your personal generosity, you’ll have to take some uncomfortable (possibly even scary) steps of faith.

I wrote a post about the “4 Stages of Giving” that I believe all Christians experience on the road to generosity.

Every generous Christian experiences doubt and fear in their giving from time to time.

But did you know that giving is the only place in the Bible where God openly challenges you to “Test Him?”

If you want to become more generous, here are 3 simple steps.

3 Simple Steps to Become More Generous

  1. Get Out of Debt.

    The average American has $15k in credit card debt, $150k in mortgage debt, and $32k in student loans…and it’s crushing them.

    Perhaps I just described your exact situation.

    If you’re drowning in debt and don’t know where to start, I challenge you to check out Dave Ramsey‘s Financial Peace University and enroll in this class.

    It’s a 9-week course (90 minutes per week) that teaches you how to make a budget, live within your means, and begin digging your way out of debt.

    The average person that attends Financial Peace University pays off $5,300 in debt and saves $2,700 within the first 90 days…that’s an $8,000 swing.

    If you’re in debt, this is a class that you can’t afford NOT to take.

    If you’re a pastor or church leader reading this, what’s holding you back from hosting this class at your church?

    If you want your members to grow in their generosity, help them get out of debt.

    Show people you want something FOR them, not just something FROM them. Continue Reading…

This past year my wife and I invested financially in four churches (outside of our home church).

Each of these churches has BIG vision! We were excited to give to these ministries.First-Time Giver

I noticed two things they all had in common:

  1. These churches are led by pastors who passionately love Jesus and are willing to do whatever it takes to reach unsaved people.

  2. They completely ignore their first-time givers.

All of these churches are involved in incredible ministries and are making an eternal impact.

But each failed to let me know how my gift was making a difference.

They also missed a huge opportunity to encourage me to give again and take the next step in my faith.

Here’s something you MUST understand:

There is no greater time to help someone grow in their spiritual walk than after they give to your church for the first time. Continue Reading…