Category Archives: Simple Church

Assurance Sermon Series

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Today, as I write this post, I am reminded of the great gift God has bestowed upon us-assurance. We are allowed to live out our life in assurance. We can know who Jesus is and who we are in Him. This aspect of the Christian walk can transform our being. We no longer have to be intimated by a society that believes we are the ones who have lost our way.

The letters of 1, 2, and 3 John are what I like to call the black and white, cut and dry, and zero gray areas of Christianity. There is this a theme throughout that says it either this or that with no in between.

Light or dark, good or evil, love God or don’t love God, heaven or hell, Jesus or Satan, righteousness or sin, life or death, eternal or temporary, and truth of false.

This will be an 8-week series leading up to Easter Sunday. I look forward to our time together as we journey through another book of God’s amazing Word of Life.

I plan on posting some notes each week for each of the 8 sermons here on this blog.

In the meantime, stay in the light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Leading a Church of Less Than 100

Are You on Track if You Lead a Church of Less Than 100?

Most of the time church planting is a long, hard slog.
Are You on Track if You Lead a Church of Less Than 100?
I came across this article and really thought of this as reality. I lead a church of 80 or so at the beginning stages of year 2. I sometimes feel as if the growth isn’t going fast enough and as numerically as it should be. You too may feel that way too. Read the article below and be encouraged if you are a church planter!

Every church leader or pastor desires ministry to be fruitful and to influence their community. But we need to be reminded that we can no longer depend on the success of the past to be the shelter of our future.

While leadership is important, a church’s size can change frequently, depending upon other factors like changing demographics of the community or cultural shifts. But how do we respond when the previous generation was much more numerically effective than we are? What do we do when people ask, “Why don’t you have the results they had before?”

Older members of any given church typically seem more nostalgic about the past and use that as a measure of success in the future. It is important to remember, however, that culture has changed in such a way that it becomes misleading in many places to expect the numerical success of the past for a new generation.

Reaching for the Unattainable?

Several years ago, at a conference at Saddleback Church, I noticed that all the other speakers were pastoring a church between 5,000 and 25,000. However, what they also had in common was they had planted churches in another era.

At the time, I was pastoring a church whose size was far less than 5,000. When it was time for me to speak, I kept looking at Rick Warren out of the corner of my eye. I was scheduled to preach at Saddleback on Sunday, so I did not want to tick him off!

But I also had something to say.

I told listeners that conferences like this are great, but that they can also be really confusing and disheartening. When you drive onto Saddleback’s property, if I recall correctly, you drive up a four-lane highway called Purpose Drive and then you come to a stop light at Saddleback Way before parking your vehicle and entering one of the many entrances into the main sanctuary.

People came into this conference and heard speaker after speaker tell implausible stories of preaching and teaching only to see thousands of people showing up. I reminded those in the crowd that this conference could help them, or it could hurt them. “If you aren’t careful,” I told them, “this conference can be ministry pornography for you. It will be an unrealistic depiction of an experience you’re never going to have that distracts you from the real and glorious thing.”

Let me be clear: I’m not saying that everyone in the next generation isn’t going to reach as many people as they would like. There will always be outliers. I know of numerous faithful church planters who are attracting relatively large numbers. There are stories of tremendous, immediate success. We praise God for these situations. But we also need to acknowledge the reality that most of the time church planting is a long, hard slog.

And it is a lot harder than it used to be.

When Smaller Is Better

The typical church plant averages around 100 in attendance until after the four-year mark. Most churches in the U.S., in fact, have 80 people or less attending their weekend services.

Pastors and planters should know the statistical realities of the average church instead of assuming they are a disappointment if they don’t match the atypical success stories they see at conferences or read about in books. It is for this reason that I launched the Breaking the 200 Barrier series. It is time we have more chastened expectations; this, in turn, will make us more likely to succeed. A Lifeway Research study found that one of the four correlative factors to church-planting success was coming in with realistic expectations.

So, you are probably not going to have 1000 in a year, and it will be harder than you think, but knowing that will help you reach people as you grow.

Now, I know that does not fill conferences. People don’t rush to attend a conference with the guy who failed at planting a church or the one who took six years to get to 100. But the truth is, speakers who pastor or lead smaller churches are in the ideal situations to give practical help and encouragement to pastors struggling to reach their community. Having a right perspective always helps.

Let me share an illustration from how I watch television with my daughters. To help them realize that what they see is mostly unrealistic, we actually google pictures of the women on the screen without make-up. We do this so my daughters can have a better understanding of beauty and perception.

(If you have young daughters, try it—you may be surprised by their response.)

Similarly, church planters need to know that the expectations they see on conference platforms are unrealistic. Pastors need to remember that ministry in the past should not serve as the only measuring stick for ministry in the present. If we don’t remember this, then planters and pastors may see the tremendous success on the stage or in the past and assume they are failures if they don’t reach those virtually impossible-to-reach levels.

It is past time that churches measure success based on the current realities of their cultural context instead of past glories or present-day anomalies.

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Who Moved My Pulpit?

Today, I want to inform you of a new book by Thom Rainer. If you want to make a difference with your ministry team, then this book can help you to become the change agents of the church. Change will not happen without the pastor, staff, and elders leading the charge.

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Who Moved My Pulpit? may not be the exact question you’re asking. But you’re certainly asking questions about change in the church—where it’s coming from, why it’s happening, and how you’re supposed to hang on and follow God through it—even get out ahead of it so your church is faithfully meeting its timeless calling and serving the new opportunities of this age.

Based on conversations with thousands of pastors, combined with on-the-ground research from more than 50,000 churches, best-selling author Thom S. Rainer shares an eight-stage roadmap to leading change in your church. Not by changing doctrine. Not by changing biblical foundations. But by changing methodologies and approaches for reaching a rapidly changing culture.

You are the pastor. You are the church staff person. You are an elder. You are a deacon. You are a key lay leader in the church. This is the book that will equip you to celebrate and lead change no matter the cost.

The time is now.

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Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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100 Blog Post

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Today marks the 100 blog post since moving to Del Rio, Texas in October of 2013. The time has gone by rather quickly. Our family has adjusted from our first days of indoctrination to the area. We had become quite acquainted with our Weatherford, Texas surroundings, after more than a 10 year church staff life, home life, and community life. Moving to another area of the state was not really on our radar, thinking God would open a door of service in the multitude of churches located in the Metroplex of the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.

But God, you know, has His agenda that usually has nothing to do with our agenda. He doesn’t even check our calendar to see if we are going to be available for His next assignment. He is the One that does the calling, the opening, and the assigning. So, He did it. He opened up a place of service that has been an absolute blessing. It has been all Him! He has created an atmosphere of unusual growth, health, and fun (you can have fun at church)!

So, as we enter into 18 months of service, I wonder what God wants to do next? Only He knows! I am ok with that. He has done a pretty good job so far, so I bet he will continue to do so

Stay in the Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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Love God, Love People, Serve the World

God is love. He is to be loved. He loves when you love Him. Love God.

Love People. People need love. People love being loved. Love People.

Serve the World. The World needs your service. The World loves being served. Serve the World.

In a church context it would look like this:

Love God = Worship Service, Love People = small groups, Serve the World = Ministry Teams

In the book Simple Church, there is an example of churches that view the number of attenders horizontally, which means the total number in worship, small groups, and in ministry teams. Viewing attenders vertically, allows us to view the process in a different perspective. We can see the percentage of attenders from worship into small groups, and then into ministry teams.

So in order to have an accurate picture of the process, the measurement must take place at every level. The process must in the DNA of the church. Everything must be evaluated in the light of the vision or process to be able to discern if a new program or ministry fits into the bigger scheme of the church.

Stay in the Light,

Pastor Larry

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Discipleship

What do you think of when you here the word “Discipleship?” Going to a Class? Going to Bible Study? Going to Church?

What about all of these and spending time with Jesus in His Word? If you want true discipleship, then it will cost you your time, efforts, and sacrifice. Anything that is worth while is costly.

If you look at the diagram below, you will see that many Christians like to hang out on 1st base. 1st base is comfortable and its where the parties happen.

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Growth is when you decide to answer the call to discipleship. The Christian life was never meant to be easy. Scripture teaches us that. Following after Christ requires us to put our agendas aside and follow the only agenda that matters;Jesus’ agenda! Wont you follow Him today?

Wednesdays, beginning Jan 8, 2014, a new Bible study will take place in the Java room beginning at 7 pm. The study will be about forgiveness. Sign up on the FBC Facebook page today!

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Stay In The Light, 1 John 1:7,

Pastor Larry

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A Visual Vision

People are looking for the real deal. A vision that can be seen, not just talked about. Visual creates clarity.

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Here is a clear visual of a process a church can strive to be. There are steps to becoming a fully committed follower of Christ.

1. Knowing Christ: This happens though worship, fellowship, etc.

2. Growing in Christ: This happens through discipleship, bible study, quite time, etc.

3. Serving Christ: This happens as you see God at work and you join Him there; mission projects, teaching, volunteering, etc.

4. Sharing Christ: This happens when your knowledge of Him is ready for be vocalized to others who need step 1.

Stay in the light,

Pastor Larry

 

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