Worship Well

I’ve got to get my mind right.

In “Spiritual Transformation,” Dr. Dallas Willard shares…

“To think of God rightly, as God is, one cannot help but lapse into worship; and worship is the single most powerful force in completing and sustaining the spiritual formation of the whole person. Worship naturally arises from thinking rightly about God on the basis of revealed truth confirmed in experience. We say flatly: worship is at once the overall character of the renovated thought life and the only safe place for any human being to stand.”

I’ve been way to busy and the first thing to go has been a sense of daily worship, followed close behind by a bad attitude and spirit that I only do a poor job of hiding. My mind has simply wandered into the world of performance, getting it done… and in doing so I miss it altogether.

Maybe you struggle with the same thing?

I need to slow down mind, body and soul and worship. I need to keep God the Father, the Son our Savior and the Holy Spirit central to a daily, even in-the-moment lifestyle of worship.

Let’s encourage one another to worship well. #heartsoulmindstrength #encourageencourageencourage

I Love BIG Churches 2

Unknown-4I Love BIG Churches – Part 2

4 Ways to Beat BIG Church Bitterness

It’s been said that, “A few apples spoil the bunch.” The big bad BIG Church reputation may actually apply to a few who have, unfortunately, earned it well. Still, I have found these to be the exception. Regardless, how we respond and relate to others is on us. Bitterness of any kind, for any reason, is unhealthy and quickly becomes a disease that infects a lead team (staff) and even entire church culture. So, what do you do with it once you recognize it?

Here are 4 Ways to Beat BIG Church Bitterness

1. Confess it. Get rid of it. You’ve held on long enough. Confess it to the Lord. Then, go to those you have spoken ill of and seek their forgiveness. Do the same with those you have infected and then repent of it. How? By speaking encouragement and blessing. Remember the old adage, “If you can’t say something nice…”

2. Pray for them. It’s hard to have bad feelings towards people you are sincerely praying for. I don’t know how this works, I just know it does. Pray those BIG Church leaders receive wisdom, faith, influence, blessing, peace and more as they serve the One they will ultimately answer to… just like you. Do this privately, do it as a lead team and even in your large settings, meetings and services. Remember, “What goes around, comes around.”

3. Learn from them. They may not always know better than you, but they might know some things you don’t. Maybe you know what they know and they have simply done what you haven’t? Either way, be humble enough to admit that they might know (and practice) somethings that may yet prove very healthy for you and your ministry culture. DON’T NOT BE AND NOT DO EXCELLENT THINGS JUST SO YOU WON’T BE LIKE “That BIG Church.”

4. Partner with them. Could it be that God’s people are better together than apart? Of course. And, I get it… different groupings of God’s people have and will exist until Jesus comes again. God uses them in unique ways to carry out His greater will. Still, aren’t there some things we could do better together to reach the lost and impact our communities for Christ? You won’t know until you try, until you ask. Take the lead on this…

Seek out that BIG Church leader. Encourage them, share concerns with them, pray for them. Yes, you will probably have to make an appointment. That’s just areality of leading a larger organization with a different system of doing business. Yes, it is a business… and, there is no more important business than the Father’s business. Jesus thought so. No, they may not be interested. However, imagine what God could do through His people if they did!

Whatever you do, don’t live and lead bitter. Let BIG Church bitterness go. It will only burn you and, worse, those you love. Refocus your energy. Big, small, mega, milt-site, home-based… there is so much potential yet to be realized as you invest in God’s unique plan for you and those you serve with!


I Love BIG Churches!

Unknown-2I Love BIG Churches: Part 1

Are You BIG Church Bitter?

We all know the story.  One of those “BIG Churches” starts growing and then explodes in number. They get bigger and bigger while other churches get smaller. Some even close their doors and it’s all the fault of that “BIG Church.” But, is this an entirely true story?

Why are we tackling this “elephant in the room” among church leaders? It’s simply because we want to see churches of any size grow and gain more and more influence for Christ in their communities! Who knows? If more leaders spent less time criticizing others and more time uniting, praying, leading, serving and simply being God’s people in their communities, maybe their own influence would grow a little more? Oddly enough I began working on this series over a year ago when I was leading a wonderful, smaller congregation and, having pastored two of “those BIG churches” (and now on staff at another “BIG Church”)… my heart hurt every time I needed to confront BIG Church Bitterness.

If you find yourself a critic of big churches, and an even bigger critic of “mega churches,” this mulit-part series may be for you.

Here are 5 Signs You are BIG Church Bitter…

1. You speak negative about their leaders. Do you find yourself questioning or, worse, condemning big church leaders for things like preaching too shallow or leading too “CEO?” Your inner narrative is even worse when you think about these leaders!

2. You speak negative about their people. Obviously everyone that attends “that big church” does so because they can stay anonymous. They show up for the “big show” and leave. They don’t have to be and aren’t truly invested.

3. You are convinced you are deeper spiritually. You wouldn’t dare say it, however, your leadership and your people are simply deeper and better followers of Jesus Christ. You preach, teach and practice the truth, the whole Gospel and they don’t. Besides, they can’t possibly be true to the Word and have that big of a following.

4. You are sure they make a bigger impact only because they are bigger (and have more money). Here’s a good question to ask yourself, “Can big churches do what they do because they are big… or are they big because they’ve done what they’ve done?”

5. You secretly wish you were like them. Someone once said, “Methinks he doth protest too much.” (Hamlet paraphrase) Of course, you aren’t one of these. Some leaders might, but you insist you would never want their level of influence or the responsibility that comes with it. You have never once coveted their salaries which, of course, are too big. Yet, for someone who doesn’t care about “that big church,” you sure spend a lot of time and emotional equity thinking and talking about them among your leadership and people.

Here’s the problem with these 5 signs… they are all sin. They don’t curry the favor of God and only keep His favor from flowing. Talking bad (often disguised as sarcasm) may score points with people who are quick to agree and then stroke the egos of their far more spiritual leaders, but God simply hates it for what it is… disunity. It’s one thing to critique leadership and organizational styles and systems, it’s another to get personal. I’ll refrain from the Bible lesson. Needless to say God’s Spirit and Word combine to oppose BIG church bitterness and the counter-productive culture it creates. If you truly love the Lord, His Body, and desire to reach the lost for His glory… you’ll stop.

It’s time to see that”BIG church” (and maybe yourself) in a different light. Ask yourself, “Am I BIG Church bitter?”

Coming up next in this series:

I Love BIG Churches: Part 2… How to Beat Big Church Bitterness.                                        I Love BIG Churches Part 3… Exposing BIG Church Myths                                                                                           I Love BIG Churches Part 4…Questions to Ask about BIG Churches

Some Advice for Pastors – Part 2

UnknownHere is my second piece of advice for pastors at any stage of your leadership journey…

Lead Your Team.

By leading your team, I’m not talking about visioning, strategizing, planning, resourcing, training, etc. There is no shortage of books, conferences, coaching, and more to help you lead well on these fronts. I’m talking about something far better… and far riskier.

I was a young, eager pastor, attending one of my first national general assembly sessions. I was a little in awe of seeing some of the leaders I had heard about and was determined to glean from their insights. I saw one such leader, Dr. Carl Flewellen, across the crowded lobby and walked up and said, “Hi, I’m Tom and I’m a new pastor. What advice would you give to a young pastor just starting out?” Without hesitation he put his hand on my shoulder and looked me straight in the eye and said, “Love’em. Just love’em!” This wasn’t the advice I expected, but just what I needed.

Anyone can attend a leadership simulcast and implement the latest in leadership principles with their teams… and I’m a big fan of stuff like this! However, if you aren’t wise enough and brave enough to truly get to know your lead team, their hurts and hopes for themselves and their families… you aren’t really leading to potential and your team is far less than they can be. You may be managing well, but you aren’t leading like Jesus. Dare to develop a relationship with them.

Know your team and care for them personally with the love and compassion of Christ. No, you can’t do this with an entire congregation (although you can die trying!). What you can do with your lead team (staff or lay-leaders) is to partner in far more than your organizational vision and values. Share their lives and they will be far more likely to share your vision.

Piece of advice #2 is simple… “Just love’em!” 

The Journey of Lent (& life)


What is Lent and why should we experience it? Especially for those not of a Catholic or more liturgical background, how can this tradition help us go deeper in our relationship with Jesus and wider in our influence for Him with others?

Lent is a period of 40 days (not including Sundays) between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Many Christians traditionally fast, pray, repent and/or practice moderation during this time in preparation and recognition of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. One source explains, “The Bible does not mention the custom of Lent, however, the practice of repentance and mourning in ashes is found in 2 Samuel 13:19; Esther 4:1; Job 2:8; Daniel 9:3; and Matthew 11:21.” In many respects, this is a journey that is reflective of Jesus’ own path from the places of his popular ministry to the unfolding of His passion on the lonely cross of Calvary.

Perhaps this journey is summarized in the recollection of Luke, one of His closest followers, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51, NIV) This wouldn’t be an easy road. Still, Jesus had known His mission from the beginning. He knew His purpose and pursued it with a singular passion. He journeyed with compassion for the fickled crowds and words of instruction and rebuke for both close followers and critics alike along the way. Fixed on the cross He came to a crisis on the Mount of Olives, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV) It is this journey, this crisis point that Lent leads us in.

What will you give up in order to gain a deeper identity and fellowship with Jesus? How will you join Him in the journey He now entrusts to us as His followers… the daily commission to “carry the cross” in such a way that others are convicted by His sacrifice and catch a glimpse of His enduring love for them? In the end, ours are simple sacrifices… going without coffee or soda, fasting from certain foods or, (dare I say it?), all forms of entertainment media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Netflix, movies, TV, etc). It is helpful to go down this road with others who will pray with you, for you and share in making an accountable sacrifice during this sacred season.

As Jesus “set out for Jerusalem,” may this season of Lent help us focus our lives on a deeper intimacy with Him and a greater commitment in the Great Commission journey He has set out for us.

What are some ways you or others are observing Lent? Share your thoughts with others in the discussion section below!

Sources include: and




“Blow that trumpet!”

images-13Hey, pastors and church leaders, played any trumpet lately?

The prophet, Joel declared, “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand.” (Joel 2:1, NIV)

May I suggest that in the midst of our latest teaching series, we need to be sending out a clear warning?

What should we be warning people about? Here are 5 Tunes We Should Be Blowing…

1) Jesus is coming… soon! The signs are everywhere. The news outlets are covering them… shouldn’t we? Persecution, earthquakes, floods, volcanoes erupting in an alarming duet with violence around our nation and world. It is our job to connect the dots between these events and the eminent end. Sound a little to apocalyptic and alarmist? That’s because it is. Love your target audience enough to say it anyway.

2) It’s time to get right… tomorrow is not promised. These aren’t the “scare tactics” of yesteryear. Or, are they? And, why not? We are all going to die, if Jesus doesn’t return first. And, Hell is a pretty scary place. The time is now to come to Jesus and allow His infinite love and grace to change our eternal destination. He paid the way on the cross of Calvary and rose again to conquer sin and death for us. Preach John 3:16 (&17) like it’s never been preached before!

3) Jesus is the way… the ONLY way. Sound intolerant and lacking in an informed love for humanity? Consider this… what kind of human would we be if we truly believed that “The bridge is out!” but deliberately failed to warn those cruising in comfort down that same road?

One classic argument still works well. If we are wrong about Jesus then we have lost little, lived a comparatively good life and that’s really about all it takes for anyone to make it to Heaven (if there even is one). However, If we are right, then those who differs with us on this point have lost everything, forever. The only loving thing we can do is declare the Truth we believe. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV) 

4) Hell is as real as Heaven… and Jesus doesn’t want anyone to go there. So, you need to go there, pastor! Preach it, teach it, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Tweet and blog about it. Weave the reality of reward and punishment into your repertoire of otherwise Biblically sound and grace-filled, relevant topics.

5) We are accountable… and will answer. Some of you reading this will end up being too concerned with a “radical” image and label to match. You will worry about losing your following as people think you have lost your mind (or at least your “cool”). Don’t be one of them. You will never have been more relevant than when calling everyone’s attention to the soon coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Consider the ancient warning of Ezekiel…

“The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes someone’s life, that person’s life will be taken because of their sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for their blood.’” (Ezekiel 33:1-6, NIV)

YOU are one of these “Watchmen,” pastor. It’s time to pick up that trumpet and blow!

PS – You gotta love some Louis Armstrong. Preach Jesus like “Satchmo the Great” played that trumpet!

On the Way of the Cross

images-18What is life really like for followers of Jesus? In a culture that promotes technologically advanced convenience and comfort, and a brand of Christianity where relevance and righteousness often clash, what does it mean to “carry our cross” both now and in the future?

Discover 6 things we can expect as we follow Jesus On the Way of the Cross…

”And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.” Luke 9:22-24, NIV

1) On the way of the cross… People will cheer you. We all love to be cheered on! Beware (See Luke 6:26), most cheer like fickle fans that only do so when their team is winning. However, those on the way of the cross are saved from the need of accolades and applause. Why? Because it is the pleasure of God heard in“Well done, good and faithful servant…” that becomes our reward. Besides, we have a cheering section that is out of this world. (See Hebrews 12:1-3)

2) On the way of the cross… People will question you.

Why? Because the life of a Christ follower calls into question a life lived for self. Jesus asked His followers then and now this question, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?” (Luke 9:25) We will be questioned, and will plenty of questions ourselves. However, on the way of the cross we are saved from the need to have all the answers. We follow the One who is the answer… Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”  (See John 14:6)

3) On the way of the cross… People will betray (& deny) you.

This doesn’t exactly leave us shouting, “Sign me up!” This is hard truth and not a promising prediction. Why? Because it is a hard way to walk. Why would anyone go this way unless it was guaranteed to be worth it? Worse than betrayed, we may just be denied… marginalized as though our existence means nothing.

However, we are never alone. “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV) On the way of the cross we are saved from the loneliness that marks so many who are surrounded by people and things but never truly belong. Our longing is replaced by a sense of belonging as we walk in the Spirit of Jesus.

4) On the way of the cross… People will accuse you. (See Matthew 5:10-12)

However, Jesus is our vindication. He is our alibi. He is our counselor, defender, payment, who bore our sins.  We may be found guilty in the eyes of man, but through Jesus’ sacrifice we are seen as innocent in the eyes of the Heavenly Father. Following Jesus on the way of the cross saves us from the need to be vindicated in the eyes of this world.

5) On the way of the cross… People will mock you. (See Matthew 24:9-14)

Righteousness isn’t always “right” in the eyes of the world and this will only increase in the coming years as our convictions based on God’s Word are seen as intolerant or worse, evil. Jesus saves us on the way of the cross by freeing us from the need to fit in and go the way of the crowd. Suggested read – Bonhoeffer: A Biography by Eric Metaxas. 

6) On the way of the cross… People will crucify you. (See John 15:18-24)

All of church history and the recent martyrdom of Christians throughout the Middle attests to this. However, on the way of the cross we are saved from the fear of death. We do well to remember this in the relative light affliction we face in the USA. Ultimately you can’t really kill someone who is already dead and yet, has never been more alive. 

What is our response? None… not if we have already beat them to it! 

Paul said to followers of Jesus in Galatia, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NIV)

Jesus showed us the way to the cross, so that we could walk the way of the Cross. The deeper truth is that we can’t go the way of the Cross unless we have first been to His Cross and laid all our sin before Him. Then, as we are empowered by His Spirit and guided by His Word, will we have power to walk the way Jesus walked and fulfill the will of the Father for our lives as He did His.

Is it worth it? Jesus encouraged His disciples, “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31, NIV

In the end, those who “take up their cross” will find what Jesus found. Not just the certain travailing on the way of the cross, but abundant life on the other side of the cross! (See John 10:10)

What have you learned about what it means to follow Jesus? Share your thoughts below in the Reply section…


focus40logo2013-colorClick on the following link to access some amazing resources for 40 days of focused prayer and fasting as the Easter season approaches… Extreme Love! Looking for a deeper challenge… text ‘extremelove’ to 96362 to receive 1 daily challenge a day for 30 days. Live out the extreme love of Jesus… reach out and make a difference in someone’s life today!

Focus 40, 2013 takes place February 20–March 31, 2013. The 2013 prayer and fasting focus will observe the theme: “Extreme Love” based on the Great Commandment of Jesus. The Apostle Paul expressed it this way, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8, NIV).

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment in all of the law he replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40 NIV).

The Transformation Team has produced a wide range of resources available to you and your church to help you observe these 40 days of prayer and fasting, leading up to Easter 2013. Together we anticipate experiencing God’s “Extreme Love.”

Resources and promotional material will be available in both English and Spanish on this website. Begin planning now to help your congregation experience the “Extreme Love” of our God this Easter season.


Marketing Ministry

images-10Every organization is marketing their product, whether they intend to or not. What does this have to do with your church or ministry? Perhaps more than you know. After all, your product is salvation and the product designer is God the Son, Jesus Christ. This makes you and your lead team the “pitch men,” if you will.

In an interview with Leadership Journal’s Drew Dyck, Andy Stanley and Tim Keller share their unique perspectives on what many see as a controversial topic. Do marketing, promotion and branding have any place at all in the pulpit and as viable methodology as a whole? Are sound doctrinal preaching, teaching and simple evangelistic efforts (personal and corporate) sufficient to fulfill the Great Commission in the 21st century?

Read the following excerpts and then let me know your thoughts…

Andy Stanley – “People really hate to use the term marketing, but the truth is every church is presenting itself. The question is whether they’re doing it well. A lot of churches are empty because they’ve successfully presented to the community that there’s nothing here for you. And everybody believes it!

Marketing is about perception. You work to create a perception, which hopefully reflects the reality. Being intentional about how we present ourselves in the community is crucial. But it’s not about billboards. We don’t have a billboard. We don’t buy radio spots. We don’t have ads in the newspaper. Our marketing is our service in the community. Our marketing is our generosity to charities in the community. Our marketing is providing volunteers for other organizations. That’s the best kind of marketing. Some people use leaflets and billboards. We don’t do any of that. It’s not necessary. But churches do need to pay attention to their reputation in the community. And if it’s not what it should be, they have to address that.

Of course if people aren’t even aware you’re in the community, you have a marketing problem. If they know you’re there but the perception is negative, you have a marketing problem. So you have to do something. Don’t be afraid of that. Just accept this as the world we live in, and figure out a way to reshape your reputation in the community.”

Tim Keller says – “The critique is that the church has overused, maybe unconsciously, business marketing techniques. And I think that critique is probably half right. Whenever people talk to me about marketing, I say, “Tell me what marketing is.” Some of what they usually describe seems like common-sense, wise communication. Some of it seems like manipulation. I commend wise communication, not the other parts that make me cringe.

I do feel that a lot of urban churches overdo it in this area. They create a façade. They have incredible websites and terrific published pieces. Their physical environments have a slickness and hipness about them. Some people are shocked to find none of that when they visit Redeemer. One person said, “It wasn’t what I expected at all. Number one: There were no screens, no clips. It was very print-oriented. Very retro.” This person also pointed out that I was an older guy, white hair, bald, and wearing a suit. He said, “This isn’t my idea of an urban church at all.” I found that amusing. But I think it shows that a lot of urban churches put way too much emphasis on branding and façade and first impressions.

I think the key is substance. Urban people recognize when they’re being spun and do not respond well to that. I think a lot of times people feel like there’s something more authentic about a place that doesn’t have the screens, doesn’t have the slick sites, and doesn’t have a young, hip-looking person up front. It can backfire on you.”

What is my perspective on the subject? Simply this… put it out there in the preferred languages and media of your target audience. This means not being afraid to passionately promote what God is doing in and through your life and ministry and then giving Him all the credit. Nothing replaces the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit in partnership with a lead team unashamed to promote His Word and His kingdom!

I look forward to hearing from you. Please, let me know how I can come alongside you and your ministry to encourage and equip!

Excerpts taken from Leadership Journal, Fall 2012, Balancing Acts

7 Traits of Breakout Churches

Check out this great article by Thomas Rainer from Outreach Magazine…

I have been a student of American churches for thirty years. That statement really means two things: I’m old, and I’m a slow learner.

In those thirty years, one of my most fascinating learning ventures has been the discovery of breakout churches. Simply defined, a breakout church is a congregation that has experienced at least five years of decline followed by at least five years of growth. While numerical growth is not the inerrant barometer for church health, we researchers must use numerical gauges for much of our objective data.

The Common Factor

As my research team began sorting and analyzing the data of some 50,000 churches, we found a common factor in many of the breakout churches: the breakout took place when the church got a new pastor. While that finding is helpful from a research perspective, it’s not very helpful to many churches. And it’s certainly not helpful to the pastors of struggling churches.

So our research took a new twist. We only looked at churches that experienced breakouts without changing pastors. I was encouraged by our findings.

The Seven Traits

The breakout churches, almost without exception had seven common characteristics. Though I list them numerically here, for sequential purposes, I am not assigning priority by the rankings.

1. The pastor had a “wake-up” call.

He stopped denying that his church had a challenge. He became determined, in God’s power, to lead the church to growth and greater health. He would no longer be satisfied with mediocrity in God’s church.

2. The church, under the pastor’s new leadership, developed clarity in its purpose.

Most of the churches were previously activity focused. They were busy with the “what” without addressing the “why.”

3. The pastor began assembling the right team for a new era of leadership.

That team would include either paid staff or unpaid laypersons.

4. The pastor developed a spirit of tenacity.

He knew that the turnaround would not take place overnight. He followed a prayerful plan for the long haul.

5. One of the early moves in these churches was to focus more ministries outwardly.

The wake-up call noted above included an awareness that most of the ministries of the church were for the comfort and desires of the members. The leaders began to change that reality.

6. The pastor and other leaders in the breakout churches had deep biblical faithfulness.

They saw their mission emanating from God and written in His Word. That faithfulness was the push that moved them forward even in the midst of challenging times and potential discouragement.

7. The pastor invested more time in the preaching ministry.

He realized the centrality of the preached Word, and gave it more time and emphasis than any point previously.

The Hope Present in These Churches

Our quest to discover breakout churches that did not change pastors became an exercise in hope for our research team. We first saw how many leaders transitioned from a lackadaisical attitude to one of enthusiasm and possibility. Some of the leaders told us that their change was more dramatic. They described it as moving from hopelessness to great hope.

Of course, the other great encouragement in this project was discovering the story of entire congregations moving from a inwardly-focused lethargy to an outwardly-focused Great Commission mindset. By the time our research team saw these churches in the “after” mode, we found it hard to fathom they were once lifeless and discouraged.

If I found a single message in the scope of this research, it is simple but profound lesson for churches and their leaders: Don’t ever assume that your congregation has little or no hope. We found that many of these churches were once in despair, and many members confessed they had no hope. Then the breakout came. Then God showed He was wasn’t done with their church.

That story could very well be the story yet to be told of your church.