On Failed Church Plants: How Many Are There and Why?

Fifteen.

That’s the number of “failed” church plants we’ve recorded in Louisiana since 2010. 15 out of 138 churches planted.

I tracked this number down because it’s one of the regular remarks I hear from people wanting to question or disparage the role of church planting in the ministry of the church.

Don’t most church plants not make it anyway?
History tells us that most church plants won’t be around in 10 years.
I’ve heard 80% of church plants fail.” (Don’t know where this number came from, but it has to have joined the ranks of the most quoted bad stats.)

So that means we have an 88% “success” rate in church planting in Louisiana since 2010. The North American Mission Board has reported a 68% success rate across North America. Not an 80% failure rate.

As a church planter, I hate using these words – “failed” and “success.” Here’s why?

  • You can’t fail in attempting something great for God. If you’re sharing the gospel, you might not get immediate results, but you plant seeds for the future. The word of God never returns void. In the context of church planting, that might mean you run out of time on financial sustainability, but you can look back and see seeds planted, people that were lifted, and deep lessons learned that led to spiritual growth and character development in the life of a planter and team. I don’t think God would call that a failure.
  • Defining success in church planting can be muddy waters. Successful church planting is evangelism that leads to the birth of a new congregation. Is it success, then, if a church plant stays open, but reaches very few new people through evangelism? Is it success if a church plant grows at the expense of other churches in town? Is it success if a church plant doesn’t impact the community around it through evangelism and people in the immediate area don’t even know it exists? Questions like these lead me to look back at my list of 15 and see a few churches that made the tough decision to close, but may have been more “successful” than some of the 109 that are still open. Self-sustainability is an important factor in church planting, but evangelism and reaching new people, should ultimately define our true success.

Why do Church Plants Fail?

Looking back at our list of 15 and a factoring in a few others that I’ve been involved with prior to 2010, here are the reasons for their failures:

  1. Character and Calling issues. 4 out of the 15 I mention closed because of moral failure or a deficiency in character in the church planter.
  2. Wrong Context and Culture. Another 4 in our list can be chalked up to the church’s strategy and focus or the church planter himself not being a good fit for the context and culture.
  3. Ran Out of Time. The other 7 just simply ran out of time before achieving critical mass or financial sustainability. Lots of factors could go with this one, including work ethic issues of the church planter (which may go back to character and calling), lack of partner development, lack of evangelism and team building, difficulty of the soil in the area (which may go back to context), etc.

These are all things that we can counter with good solid assessments of planters and partner churches on the front end, good equipping and networking opportunities for planters and their teams, and by building great partnerships to come around each new plant.

In Louisiana, we offer these opportunities as part of our Church Planting Networks. Connect with our Facebook Group to keep up with opportunities. Our Greenhouse Training is specifically designed to help a church planter in Louisiana design systems and strategies to get to self-sustaining status in five years.

Church Planting is a risky thing. Not failing every now and then may be a sign that we’re not pushing into the absolute hardest to reach areas.

The great axiom is “Failure is never final, it’s only feedback.”

If a church plant doesn’t make it, it usually leaves behind some changed people and we can say it’s cultivated the ground for something in the future.

Check out these resources to help you or your church to get started on your church planting journey:

Portable Church: Advantages and Objections

A portable church has MANY advantages. I’ve been a part of portable churches for most of my ministry.

Currently about 40% of our church plants in Louisiana are portable. There’s no need to be afraid of going portable in church planting or other ministries. Here’s why:

1. Energy

Energy can be directed outside the walls, because the walls are not ours. In portable situations, the church is usually not responsible for cleaning, managing accounts, and making repairs. We’re able to direct the skills of the people more to the needs of the community.

2. Affordability

The costs of buildings are growing exponentially. In many, not all, communities being portable is better financially for new and transitioning churches. Often the cost of building straps congregations with debt and too small a seating capacity for maximizing growth.

3. Community Engagement

A LifeWay research study called The State of Church Planting showed that new churches that meet in public places experience 42%­49% greater attendance than others. Unchurched people are comfortable attending gatherings in theaters, gyms, banquet rooms, hotels. And the benefit to non­profit locations that churches can gather in is great.

Churches we’ve planted have met in an apartment complex office, a fire station, a YMCA, and a museum. Each greatly benefited from the income of our rent and our church came to see our being there as an investment in the community.

4. Culture

Portable church allows for the ministry to be built on what is most important, especially in critical early years. When you are portable, people attend church due to relationships and mission. The building and space are less likely to become “tails that wag the dog.”

Common Objections:

  • Isn’t that a lot of work? Yes. It takes work to set up every Sunday. But that work involves people rubbing shoulders and elbows together weekly. In my experience setting up church on Sundays brings people together.In my opinion, one of the reasons portable churches meeting in public places have 42%­49% greater attendance is because of the work that requires mobilizing people every weekend.Relationships + Responsibility = a Reason to Return. Churches with few mobilization opportunities limit their capacity for growth. Portable church set up expands mobilization potential.
  • Doesn’t a building signify that you’re a real church? Maybe so. But do you really want a building to define your church. Church should be defined by its disciples, their love for one another, and the church’s ministry in the community. Studies and my own experience show that a portable church can enhance these things.
  • Won’t people get burned out? People tend to get burned out in any situation. The work of the leader is to provide good systems, regular encouragement, and changes of pace to allow people to manage seasons of their lives.Portable churches can setup with great creativity and simplicity – limiting the workload, but still involving greater numbers of people in the ministry of the church.Now, churches do reach a critical mass in attendance and finances where ownership and construction may make better sense. And God often provides building at the right time for the growth of His church.

HOWEVER, there’s no need to be afraid of a portable church.

If you’re thinking about starting a church that may need to be portable or you’re thinking of staying portable, use these questions as a guide:

  • Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me direct energy outside the walls?
  • Can I find an affordable, portable space that will help me with engaging community leaders & spheres of influence?
  • Will portable church help establish the culture & vision of this new church for this community?
  • Am I ready to establish teams & mobilize people?

House Bill No. 51

According to attorneys from whom we’ve solicited interpretations, we believe that most, if not all, of the exemptions and exclusions regarding sales taxes relating to non-profits have been reinstated – with the exception of the period from April through June 2016.

Due to the complexity of Louisiana’s sales tax laws and how the tax assessor in each city and parish may interpret these laws, we encourage you to direct your questions to a local attorney or CPA that is familiar with such laws.

Download the PDF to view the exemptions and exclusions relating to sales taxes that were reinstated by the passage of HB 51.

ReGroup Coaching

ReGroup Coaching Strategy Brochure

Regroup (v): 1. To stop and prepare yourself in order to continue to do something difficult; 2. to stop, think and reorganize. ©Merriam-Webster

Effective organizations require strategy and foresight. Without time to ReGroup, an organization can become anemic, unfocused and possibly apathetic.

Sound familiar? If so, we can help by providing a fresh perspective customized for you and your church.

ReGroup Coaching exists to assist the pastor and key leaders of a local church to develop a simple and clear strategy that will lead the church into health and growth.

Vision

It all begins with the crafting of a vision.

“Vision is painting a compelling picture of what could be.” – Brent Taylor, Pastor of First, Carrolton, Texas

Vision …

… brings clarity
… defines
… brings enthusiasm, excitement and passion
… empowers your leadership team
… defines “the win”

Why should I as the pastor of my church want to participate in ReGroup Coaching Strategy?

strategy

  1. The pastor is the key. The role of the coach is to facilitate or guide the pastor as he leads a small group (five to seven) of key leaders in his congregation through a strategy development process.
  2. This process can be repeated by the pastor, with or without a coach. This process follows five specific steps.
    1. Identity
    2. Purpose
    3. Vision/Objective/Outcome
    4. Methodology
    5. Measurement
  3. By engaging key leaders of the congregation in strategy development, this process develops cohesiveness between them and the pastor. It almost guarantees that you are all working from the same “playbook”.

What should I expect to happen as a result of the ReGroup Coaching Strategy?

The pastor and key leaders will develop a clear picture of why their church exists in their community, find common objectives, and develop those objectives through strategic planning. Next, they will determine how to measure the success or failure of the strategy. And equally important is the establishment of a celebration date to give God the glory for what He has done.

What does the ReGroup Coaching Strategy look like? How does it work?

There are three types of Coaching:

  1. Local Church ReGroup Coaching Consult – This is a one-time meeting between the pastor, a coach and an agreed upon small group of leaders from the church. A coach is assigned as requested by the pastor of the church. If available, the pastor will select from available coaches that is believed to fit the specific focus and need of the church. The church will be responsible for the honorarium and on-site expenses (meal and hotel, if necessary). The Louisiana Baptist Convention will reimburse for travel to the church (mileage and meals).
  2. Local Church ReGroup Coaching Strategy – A Coach is assigned as requested by the pastor of the church. If available, the pastor will select from available coaches that is believed to fit the specific focus and need of the church. The church will be responsible for the honorarium and on-site expenses (meal and hotel, if necessary). The Louisiana Baptist Convention will reimburse for travel to the church (mileage and meals). After the coach and pastor have met, the coach will assist the pastor in selecting five to seven key leaders of the congregation to meet for an agreed amount of time. The sessions or session can be accommodated to meet the needs of the pastor and key leaders. They range from
    1. 5 to 6 two hour meetings over the period of three to four months.
    2. 3 meetings for three or four hours each
    3. 1 meeting lasting for at least six to eight hours.
  3. ReGroup Cluster Coaching Strategy – This method is similar to the local church model which involves a partnership with a local association, four to six participating churches and two facilitating coaches. The association/participating churches will be responsible for the honorarium and on-site expenses (meal and hotel if necessary). The Louisiana Baptist Convention will reimburse for travel to the church, (mileage and meals). After the coach and pastor have met, the coach will assist the pastor in selecting five to seven key leaders of the congregation to meet for an agreed amount of time. The sessions are planned in advance to accommodate the needs of the pastor and key leaders. The sessions require five or six two hour meetings over a period of three to four months.strategy

ReGroup Coaching Request

10 Classes You Won’t Take in Seminary

Coming together for pastors’ conferences like E4 is so vital to pastors because we are still learning the lessons you miss at seminary.

You missed them because they aren’t found in any syllabus. They are only learned in the Seminary of Hard Knocks.

Here are a few classes I’ve audited from that fine institution over the years.

#1: How to Make the Church Smell Good after the Septic Pump Quits on Saturday Night

You walk down the hall and you’re greeted by a slightly malodorous sensation. “This hall stinks,” you say to yourself on Sunday morning at 7:38 am.

You go to the Welcome Center. “The Welcome Center… stinks too!” And then your head begins to spin with a harsh, whiff of reality. “THIS WHOLE CHURCH STINKS!”

Trust me. You can clear the disinfectant spray shelves of every Dollar Store in a ten-mile radius and you aren’t getting rid of that stench before the first-time guests arrive.

#2. Avoiding Debates Inside the Church over Calvinism, Drum Volume, and the Fellowship Hall Table-Lending Policy

Church is a sensitive subject and there will always, always be a controversy. Your job as pastor is not to ease the tension but to manage it.

In fact, we see in the ministry of Christ that the gospel should sometimes provoke tension. But it’s not fun. It’s demoralizing. It can wipe you out.

But you can leverage it to your advantage.

You’ll provide perspective and vision when you find the conflict is brewing. But beware. Those little foxes will tear up the vineyard in milliseconds if you aren’t careful.

Side note: I hate conflict. But it’s like a watermelon patch in north Louisiana. Give it time and those green monsters will surface.

#3. Five Casseroles to Stay Away from During Covered Dish Supper

I’ll save you some tuition and just tell you what they are according to my 52 years of church homecomings, small groups and funeral wakes.

  • Broccoli Velveeta Asparagus Mush
  • Green Been and Carrot Gelatin Delight
  • Spicy Frito Tamale Surprise
  • Gooey Crock Pot Pizza
  • Baked Tater Tot Pasta

I, like most pastors, often have an inherent sympathy for cooks and casseroles that haven’t been touched at a church get-together.

The rule of thumb is simple: If your stomach turns, even slightly, at the eclectic medley of ingredients in a culinary creation which hasn’t been touched in a line of 500 parishioners, DO NOT pick up the serving spoon. This will not end well for you.

#4. How to Time the Filling of the Baptistery

Although baptisteries vary from church to church, here’s a basic rule of thumb: 15 minutes before the football game of your choice, go to the church and start the faucet. Around the middle of the third quarter, just to be safe, go check the progress.

In most cases it will be filled adequately. However one caveat: If there are several injury time-outs or replay reviews you might want to bring a mop and a wet vac.

Obviously this formula doesn’t work for bowl games with extended half time festivities. One side note: do not drain the baptistery on a Saturday night. (See #1 Septic Pump Seminar)

*Important- This method doesn’t work if you are ADD. Delegate.

#5. Surviving Three-Funeral Weeks

One of the tensions most pastors face is the unpredictable nature of the ministry. Most critical moments and mandatory ministries occur with less than 48 hours notice.

No-brainer: Nobody dies on schedule and they don’t spread the funerals out evenly over the course of a year. There will be those three-funeral weeks and you’ll be expected to be awesome at everything else that week as well.

Funerals can be amazingly powerful experiences but they always end the same way. Every person’s funeral that I’ve conducted is still, to this day … resting in peace.

So, you aren’t Jesus, but you can offer His comfort to families in their most intense and desperate moments.

#6. Discerning the Will of God VS Your Sudden Urge to Resign on a Sunday Morning, Drop the Mic, and Scream “Free at Last!”

Every pastor has a moment where he fantasizes saying all those things he’d love to say at his weakest moment.

Dropping the mic is rarely a good thing to do. Unless you are like … the Son of God.

The best thing to do of course is pray. Pray without ceasing, especially when you’re angry, desperate, frustrated and thinking about a job change.

Remember those who suffered and are suffering through so much more than you are now. There’s always someone who has it worse than a couple of people rubbing your name in the dirt at Starbucks.

And just to be honest – if you’re a pastor, somebody is always doing that. You just got wind of it.

#7 How to distract your congregation from the screaming baby.

Let’s face it guys. You may be an amazing communicator but you no match for the colicky baby on the fifth row.

You could be revealing the Ark of the Covenant’s exact location and upwards of 50% of the attenders are contemplating whether it’s a wet diaper, gas, or teething.

Give it up.

Share that thing you’ve never told anybody and you’re fine. They won’t hear it.

#8 Verses Appropriate to Cease Church Softball Altercations

This comes with a story. Many, many years ago Christians, seeking missional opportunities to connect with the unchurched through sports decided that rather than risking the dangers of going into the heathen city leagues to develop relationships, they would simply create our own petri dish of dysfunctional, overly dramatic competition.

Seriously though, sports offer a great way for us to build community with the unchurched but I have known a few Brother Rodmans.

#9 How to be Biblical, Relevant, Contemporary, Traditional, Conservative, Merciful, Decisive, Prudent, Articulate, and Meek all at the Same Time

I am one of those guys who walks through the scripture verse-by-verse, John McArthur-style, providing spot-on contemporary illustrations, while parsing Hebrew, quoting poetry, helping split the metaphorical babies of contemporary living, counseling addicts, healing 1.3 marriages a week, involved in camping, sports, coffee shops, and 30 parachurch organizations, waxing Cloud-and-Townsend on tough love while having the grace of Brennan Manning, the relevance of Craig Groeschel, and the humor of Andy Stanley with several movie ideas that would rival Spielberg.

That’s the kind of guy I am… for 5 minutes a day… in the shower… Then I brush my teeth, put on my Dockers and just try to figure out who God intended me to be.

Somewhere underneath the bold, impregnable, phantasmagoric fascist architecture of my superego is an ordinary guy who loves God and is desperately trying to shut up the delusional guy in the shower.

#10 How to Forget the Insulting Innuendo of a Loose Cannon. 

The insanity of insecurity is that a pastor could go through a Sunday, see God use him in ways that boggle his mind, and then one person could throw a lighthearted verbal sucker punch in the church office suite and every extraordinary epiphany is immediately frozen in a Mac spinning wheel of death.

I’ve compared notes with a number of other pastors and they all say the same thing. We constantly have to battle our own leadership insecurities. It is a learned skill. I’m still learning.

These are only a few of the timeless lessons offered at St. Paul’s Seminary of Hard Knocks. Every pastor goes there and every pastor learns.

Come to E4 this year and we’ll encourage, inspire, uplift, and challenge each other as we continue our education in the Seminary of Hard Knocks!

Tax Changes for Louisiana Churches

During the recent legislative session, Louisiana lawmakers made changes to tax laws that could affect your church and Association. After consulting with a sales tax attorney, our convention attorney and CPA, we have prepared an interpretation to assist you in applying these changes.

Note: These changes are effective immediately – HOWEVER – a second special legislative session has been called for June during which they will be re-evaluating exemptions for non-profits. We will update you as details emerge.

Update: House Bill No. 51 has been passed in the House, and now heads to the Senate.  The bill will reinstate many of the sales/use tax exemptions for nonprofits. However, the exemptions would only apply effective July 1, 2016, meaning that nonprofits would have been required to collect sales/use tax between April and June. Get more info here

Hot Louisiana Summer Outreach Ideas

Along with Vacation Bible School, summer offers us some great opportunities for outreach and seed planting in our communities. Here’s a few that I’ve tried or learned from other Louisiana churches:

Water Bottles for Front Yard Lawn Mowers
Fill a few ice chests full of ice cold water or Gatorade, then head out on Saturday morning and watch for people working in their front yard. Interrupt them by giving them a bottle and a small connection card to your church. I promise they won’t mind.

Face Painting or Balloon Animals at Local Festivals
Every Louisiana community has a festival, car show, farmers market or something. Add to the gathering by offering something fun for kids. Face painting is easy for almost anyone. Poll your team for other talents that might be unique and entertaining. Don’t forget to have invite cards to your church or Bible study.

Fun for Kids at Multi-housing Complexes
If you haven’t already, you should get to know the managers at local multi-housing complexes. They’re often required by upper management to provide events for the park and in my experience they are stressed about that! Offer to help by extending a VBS activity or showing up with a snow cone machine or bounce house a few times over the summer. It’s a great way to build some relationships and show the community your church cares.

Snow Cones at Local Daycares
Private daycares are usually very open to engagement with churches. Especially if you offer free snow cones for every child in the afternoon! Snow cone machines rent for $100 or so, check around to see if another local church has one, or if you’re part of a Baptist association, they may have a block party trailer equipped with a snow cone machine plus more. Ask the daycare if they’ll send home an invite card or event invite from your church in backpacks in return.

Outdoor Movie Nights
Pick an area park, backyard, subdivision common space, and a short movie. Outdoor movie screens can be purchased for around $200. Projectors are available from partner churches or your local association. Pop popcorn and show the latest family friendly movie that has come out in theaters and a crowd is usually easy to draw. Our church gives away microwave popcorn with a sticker that says “Pop In On Us Sunday” inviting people to our church.

New Resident Welcome Baskets
If families are relocating, chances are they’re trying to do it during the summer. Help your members get their eyes open for the houses for sale around them and watch for new people moving in. Prepare a welcome basket with things that would be helpful for new movers and new residents in your community, along with a connection card from your church. This also helps your members to make early connections and build relationships with their new neighbors.

Hurricane Prep for Local Mobile Home Parks.
Great men’s group project. Connect with a local trailer park and offer to cut low-hanging limbs back away from trailers in the run up to hurricane season. This is a great service to residents and management that will never be forgotten. Pole saws rent for $125 or so and probably at least one guy in your group has a chainsaw.

Free Movie Day for Stay-at-home-moms with Kids
Turn your church or a local meeting hall into a free cinema for the afternoon. Show a favorite kid movie with popcorn and box drinks. There’s probably a local mom’s Facebook group that you can spread the word through.

Outdoor Summer Concert
If your church or community has a nice green space, find a local musician or band (no shortage of those in Louisiana) and throw a free sunset concert. Offer free drinks and invite cards to your churches gathering.

There’s really no right or wrong way to reach out and make contact with people for the sake of the Gospel. We only fail if we don’t try. Praying for many seeds sown across our state this summer!

Got other ideas for summer outreach? Don’t be stingy. Please share.

LBASYC Testimonies

Who We Are
We, the Louisiana Baptist All-State Youth Choir (LBASYC) are made up of high school students from all over the state of Louisiana.  This is the 24th year that LBASYC has been in existence. Our choir comes together every year to tour around the United States for one purpose – to share the love of Jesus Christ.

Why We Sing
We, the students who are in LBASYC, have been changed by the love of Christ. Because we have been changed we want to share with others how they can find love, peace and forgiveness. Here are some of our God stories.

Hayden

My life before Christ was pretty much the same as any other regular kid. I attended church regularly with my family, but I never felt a desire for Christ in my life. I was content with living my life, enjoying doing kid things with my friends, the rest of the time, being quiet and playing video games. I never really got into any trouble and was, to the standard of society, an exceptional kid.

The end of my freshman year of high school was when I came to Christ. High school had really opened my eyes to the realization that I needed to make a change, in not only my spiritual life but others’ lives as well. I felt a strong desire to submit my life to Christ, and get to know my spiritual father, so that I could make a difference and stand out from the crowd and show others that it was “OK” to be different.

Since I gave my life to Christ, He has allowed me so many opportunities to share his gift. I became involved with our local football team as the athletic trainer, and that has given me the opportunity to get involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I am currently a Huddle Leader in FCA and that has allowed me to share my faith with others and set a godly example for those that may not normally have one. Lastly, here recently my church has formed a small youth choir and I have had the opportunity to share God through praise and worship.

Grace

My life before Christ was really lonely.  I was moving schools, trying to make friends, and “fit in”.  In my head I thought I wasn’t good enough. Then I started hearing how God’s love was unconditional and never-changing.  With God I had a friend.  I had someone that I knew would never leave.

Sally

As a child, I had been told about who Jesus was, but I didn’t actually know Him. I knew intellectually that He was God’s son, but I really didn’t understand much and didn’t know anything about a purpose.  Everything I did was centered around me.  I was selfish, ignorant, and lost.  But then I realized I really needed to know Jesus, He chose to die on the cross for me so I could live and have a relationship with God. So I prayed to God and admitted that I had messed up, that I sinned and always tried to do things on my own, that I knew Jesus was His son, that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross for me and that God raised Him from the grave.

Because of what Jesus did for me, I no longer have to try to be good to earn my way into heaven. In fact, nothing any of us do will get us into heaven. I don’t have to do things on my own. But this was just the beginning. Having Jesus in my heart is like having a being or presence inside of me. No matter where I go, He’s always there giving me love, support, and guiding me. He gives me a purpose and leads me.  He carries me along the way so I can live with meaning. Even when awful things happen, I have peace in my heart because I know God.

Two years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. If I didn’t trust Jesus, it would have been devastating. But because of Jesus, I have hope. I’m a pretty logical and orderly person, and I like to know what’s going to happen and what to do. I’m a planner. And now God is teaching me to fully rely on Him because He truly, truly is my foundation and strength. I’m learning to keep focus on God and trust Him every single moment of every single day—to be a light for Him in this world—to let God be in control instead of me being in control.

Joshua

Before I met Christ, I was lost.  I was a sinner and cared only for myself.  Now I am a follower of Jesus.  Now I care for others more than myself.

Kristi

Because I was brought up in the church, I struggled with the validity of my faith until I realized all God brought me through.  I was bullied as a young child so much that I had to transfer.  I went to a new school with no friends and no self-esteem.  My entire identity was destroyed.  I made it through to high school and was blessed with friends I never thought I would have.  But then everything seemed to fall apart.  The self-image I had was terrible.  I hated everything I was.  I never thought anyone would love me.  I felt every friend was lying to me.  I couldn’t see anything past the darkness surrounding me.  I began to think about suicide.  I thought I’d do myself and everyone else a favor and just end it.  I don’t know how I’m alive today.  I only know that God wasn’t finished with me, so He saved me again.

Today, I see why I’ve faced what I’ve faced.  He uses me, a messed up, insignificant girl, to tell people He loves them.  I’m alive because He loves me. He loves you too! SO MUCH! I can’t even explain it to myself half the time, but He does.  He’s changed my life and has given me people who love me, no matter what.  Wait for Him.  He knows what’s best.

Caleb

Before I met Christ, I was confused.  I had so many questions: How did everything exist? Who created it?  I learned it was God and that He sent His Son Jesus to save me as the sinner I was.  Today Jesus has saved me and I live for Him. Each and every day I live by faith, trusting in Him and learning what he has in store for me.

Brynna

My walk with God has been a struggle throughout my life. My life before Christ was not a happy one, I was once so depressed I would resort to self-harm just to feel better. When I felt like there was no way out of my depression, I attempted to end my life. I carried around wounds from dysfunctional relationships from the home I grew up in. My anger and lack of respect caused me to lash out and curse and be disobedient. There was a point that I was so desperate to get away, my sister and I ran away from home in hopes to escape our unhappy home. We were picked up by law enforcement. Things were still in turmoil and my mother sent me to a mental hospital at one point during that time and it was the worst experience of my life. I later moved in with my father hoping for a fresh start, but unfortunately I soon realized that life with him wasn’t what I expected and in the end I decided to move back in with my mom to be closer to my sisters.

I became a Christ-follower at 15. Ever since then my walk with God has gotten so much stronger. I absolutely love everyone in my church family! I have no idea what I would do without them. They have been there for me through every step of my journey. The most important thing God taught me is forgiveness, I have learned to forgive those who hurt me and even myself, to forget about the past and move on to build relationships stronger than they have ever been.

When I think about my future, I see so much and God has everything to do with it. I thank him every day for giving me the gift of the future! If I hadn’t been introduced to the church that I am going to now I may have not have a relationship with God and I don’t even want to think about what my life would still be like without Him. God is my strength and my refuge, He brings me up when I am down, He gives me hope for the future and He loves me more than I could ever love myself.

How Can You Know?
How can you know the love of Christ that we are singing about and sharing? It is as simple as A-B-C.

A-     Admit: Confess to God that you are a sinner. Repent, or turn away from, you sin.

  • Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
  • Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  • 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

B-      Believe: Trust that Jesus is God’s Son and that God sent Jesus to save people from their sins.

  • Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
  • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
  • John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.’”

C-      Commit: Give your life to Jesus. Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior.

  • Romans 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”
  • Romans 10:13 “for ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

We invite you to pray this simple prayer if you would like to give God control of your life.

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are God’s Son and that you came to earth, died on a cross for my sins and were raised again on the third day.
I know that I am a sinner and separated from you by my sin.
I ask you to forgive me of all my sins. I accept the gift of your salvation which you purchased for me on the cross and I ask you to be my Lord and my Savior.
In Jesus’ name, amen.

If you prayed this prayer you now belong to God based on Romans 10:13 (shown above).

Please write us a note and tell us your God story.

In addition, we encourage you to follow up with these ABCs.

A-     Access: Access God’s Word every day. Read the Bible and pray.
B-     Baptism: Follow Jesus in baptism.
C-     Church: Find a local church body of believers to join with.

Better Than Busy

This has been one of those weeks. If you’re a pastor’s wife, too, you know exactly how it feels.

In less than seven days there have been hospital visits, unexpected out-of-state travel, a church work day, a baby growing more curious by the day, and – hardest of all – the sudden death of a friend and church member.

Yeah … it’s been one of those weeks.

Busy to say the least. 

We work to balance my husband’s bi-vocational pastorate, two full-time jobs, his full-time seminary classes and family time that is consumed by an active baby girl.

Some days – more often than I would like to admit – I get tired and discouraged. There are so many things I need and want to do that I just run out of time.

Right when my daughter needed a diaper change, the person I wanted to check on slipped out of the church doors.

I forgot about offering to cook supper for a friend in the midst of running errands on my lunch break.

The prayer I promised to say for someone facing a tough day? I remembered it – at 9 pm.

Those are the days when all the things I want to do and all the things I wish I could be get the best of me.

I want to be the best. Have the best relationship with God, be the best wife, the best mom, the best employee, the best pastor’s wife. (I’m type A if you couldn’t tell!)

But right now, the best is beyond my grasp.

These days, I’m learning to step back, appreciate God’s grace and seek bite-sized bits of better.

Find Better in Moments 

It’s easy to skip studying Scripture and praying because you don’t have all the time in the world to devote to it. On those days, instead of giving up, find your bites. Make the most of those small moments to keep the conversation going.

While driving from one chore to the next, pour your heart into music or podcasts that align your heart with His.

As you’re washing the thousandth load of laundry or the hundredth bottle, submit your heart to God in prayer or meditate on a verse.

Don’t lose those moments. 

Your attitude for the day can be won and lost in small moments. Then, when your time for deeper study does come your heart will be ready and open.

Find Better in Community

When time is short the first thing I neglect is friendships. But that isolation only keeps the cycle of discouragement going. Make time to keep investing in those godly friendships – even in small ways. And if you don’t have one, start building one.

Some days, I even use an app on my phone to help me check in on a friend. It may sound odd, but it keeps me connected.

Why invest? Because God uses those friendships to encourage you. 

And, as a special note to moms, when that friend offers to babysit – graciously accept their offer and set a date. You’re not a burden – those times encourage you, your friend and your child.

Find Better in Service

My days always feel more productive when I know I’ve been obedient.

Whether it’s making a flyer for the upcoming revival, cooking or taking a turn in the nursery there is joy in service.

Instead of over-committing yourself, trim down your schedule and serve where the Lord is calling you – not where so-and-so expects you to serve. Then find joy in that service no matter what it is. Even if it’s proofreading the new bylaws!

Better doesn’t leave me feeling blue – it encourages me and brings me hope in the midst of exhaustion.

Better shows me that with God’s blessings every day I can keep finding better.

I pray that you, tired pastor’s wife, can find better, too.

Bible Study Impacts Lives

Adult Sunday School and Small Group teachers want to see lives changed through Bible study.

Jesus and Ezra have provided teachers with powerful and creative ideas to teach the Word of God.

This resource was prepared to help experienced teachers, as well as new teachers, to grow in their understanding of Scripture and in ways of teaching their class/group members toward transformation.

 

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