May I challenge you?

This is in no way meant to be a guilt trip or sound heartless, nor is it something said because numbers are low or offerings are poor because neither are the problem here. But as pastors we often observe how people feel obligated or compelled to tell us why they miss church or meetings as if we are The Judge in the matter. It seems that some believe that by telling us reasons why they miss it in some way appeases their sense of regret and they've been excused as if they missed school. But we're not God. We do not judge but we as shepherds are heartbroken at times to see what people miss in God's Plan by making excuses to be MIA. We as pastors are not offended when people come 2 times a month because our joy and peace are in Christ alone. What do people miss? Answers. Peace. Wisdom for this weeks' problems and pain.They miss the encouragement by a group of people that are so excited to see them. They miss everything that they need. God waits to be gracious to you in the Body of Christ. There are things God will tell you in private without the Church but there are things He will only tell you in Church through His Body on earth. He has answers for you! Stop being a victim of your circumstances, stop living in what people have done to you in the past, stop complaining about your job, marriage, & personal situations. Stop being familiar with God, stop staying away because of people - draw near to Him, God is bigger than people - His Plan is bigger than your failures and unbelief. Expect great things from God for your life & come to be a part of the greatest and hottest thing happening on planet earth today - CHURCH!

No Distance Between You & Your God in Prayer

Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. - Daniel 10:12-13

"If thou art running to Christ, He is already near thee. If thou dost sigh for His presence, that sigh is the evidence that He is with thee. He is with thee now: therefore be calmly glad." - Charles Spurgeon
It is of great comfort to read the words penned “from the first day...thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Be glad child of God for our words are heard “from the first day”! This should cheer the wavering saint who labors in prayer!

When we think of international communication and how back in the day it used to take weeks to have a painstakingly written letter delivered to it’s eagerly awaiting addressee, we can truly appreciate the fact that there is no distance between the seeking soul and the listening God. We tend to think of God naturally, in terms of distance, that He is far away in the heavens on a throne, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
In the sphere of prayer there is no distance, no interference, no walls, no obstacle to catch our rising prayer and cast it to the ground. God is closer to the believer than the believer is to himself. As a matter of a fact, before we pray He knows our prayer altogether - Psalm139:4.

In warfare it is critical to know that there is no distance that our prayer must travel. A whisper of a prayer can be more powerful than a prayer of shouting and pleading with God. Often due to a delay of the answer, we assume there is distance, but contrary to appearance, He instantly hears and He instantly acts.
Yet there are times of a hindering of the execution of that prayer as we see in Daniel’s case. Though Daniel did not immediately know of the delay of an answer due to warfare and hindering, Daniel continued to fast and pray. It is of utmost importance that we cease not in prayer, that we knock until the door is opened. Because the answer is coming and your constancy in prayer is part of the warfare being waged. All too often answers to prayers in transit are halted due to the breakdown of prayer.

When a person begins to discover the power of prayer, the Prince of Persia, the unseen authority of Ephesians 6:12, will begin his hindering program. He will use feelings, pressure, circumstances, people, or personal distractions to get the praying warrior to stumble in his prayer and stop. He will project impulses, fears, bad news, or whatever he can send to stop the prayers.

Were Daniel’s prayers a part of the victory in that Michael the Angel was sent to help get the words to Daniel of the vision? I think so. For when we read the disciple’s prayer of Matthew 6 we read “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The distance between the will of Heaven and the will of God accomplished on the earth is only a prayer away. When we pray, God's will is accomplished. When we abide in prayer, we are an acting agent, an ambassador, that becomes a conduit of the accomplishment of the things of God on this earth.
!We must remember that the devil is the "Prince of the Power of the Air" so he has authority in the air, but not absolute authority. When believers live in their flesh, in the wisdom of this world, they become conduits of the air giving place for the devil, even speaking his mind about God’s people and God’s work. That is why when we are Spirit-filled we can detect demonic activity when we enter certain locales of entertainment, carnal activity, or territories given over to sin.

Be ever aware of the words that you speak and what you put out into the air. Negativity and fear, carnal comments, natural deductions, and personal opinions devoid of truth actually give the devil a stronghold to traffic in the air causing pressure and oppression over people.

It can be clearly observed when we travel to certain countries, and cities that are ruled by corrupt Godless political leaders, how the atmosphere of the country is heavy and oppressed. It is a great joy that when we pray, the atmosphere in which the Prince of the Power of the Air dwells, cannot stop or slow our prayers. Actually when we pray, the atmosphere is confronted and is cleared. Nothing was more effective in clearing the air in the Bible than the spoken Word of God and the prayer of the saints. Just as the air in a lightning storm is ionized and purged, so is the thick atmosphere of Satanic activity in warfare when the prayers of you and I arise.

Closing the Gap between You & the Millennialists, Gen Y & Gen Z

With every new generation the cycle seems to repeat itself. The gap between the older generation widens with the younger generation. It’s almost as there is a language barrier that forms. Historically it seems these generational characteristics cycle, repeating themselves almost every 100 years. In every generation we can see characteristics of earlier generations - but with different emphasis'. My parents' generation "Baby Boomers" (the loyalists and hard nosed Cold War-ists) and my generation "Generation X" were somewhat idealists - we grew up learning definitions to words, principles, loyalties, rules, & absolutes. Because we were expected to adopt responsibility at a young age (had my first job at 14 was on my own by 18) we learned how to interpret our ideals from our parents into practicality because of dire need to - we were thrust into an understanding via that great crucible coined "sink or swim”  

Here is a short outline of what is considered by many as the Gens:
"Builders": 1920-1945 The Great Depression and World War II produced a generation with a strong work ethic, financial conservatism and respect for authority.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964 - Born in an era of financial prosperity, they are vocal on social issues and liberal in outlook.
Generation X: 1965-1979 - Cynical about authority and open to new forms of spirituality, but insecure about their financial future.
Generation Y: 1980-1994 - Labelled as flighty and transient, they are known as the “me now” generation.
Generation Z: 1995-2009 - Tech-savvy, creative, confident and with a strong work ethic – the result of more mature parents and the economic downturn. 

But Millennialists or Generation Y (born 1980-1994 - the "Pepsi Generation") grew up in an era where the internet came alive and a  budding social media craze and grew. Facebook created a "Me now” society that is very self aware and self centered. They are not idealists like us and our parents - so black is not black and white is not white to them. Rather many of them balk at absolutes, principles, clear definitions and God-lingo. They will poke at and push a little against ideals and absolutes to see if they stand - and when they do Baby Boomers & Gen X will be shocked and get a somewhat insecure - "what do you mean? you can't question that - that's just the way it is." - but that's exactly why they do that - they need to know how strong it is. They are all about practicality - not the abstract of ideals but "what does this mean to me practically today now? - I can't get a job or get over this addiction! What does grace mean to me in a day to day application, not just a theological definition”. They are having kids and living in many cases unmarried with a set of values that are more situational ethics rather than principles, that is where we see them hungry for practical principles for living. 

We Baby Boomers and Gen X are calling them Millennialists (because that's what we do - we define things - they chuckle when we call them Millennialists because they don't see themselves that way. As a matter a fact - hey don't really look at other gens)

What I see the Millennialists and later gens need is a very practical, honest, authentic, down-to-earth Gospel message that is Truth oriented and not idealistic or exclusive or judging but inclusive - real love from God that is demonstrated with straight words. The more curious intellectual Millennialists have dived into apologetics because they are seeking to define their culture for who they are in contrast to idealistic stereotyping they could be labeled with. Don't get them wrong though, they are not wanting compromise or anti-authority - as we would interpret it because they question - they want real truth, love and relationship.  The last thing they want is Gen X - (their parents) to try to be like them - they are looking for value. 

When we've had Millennialists come to our church here in Philly they are not so impressed by programs or vocab but by straight truth, honest talk, and genuine care. 

Case and point - the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus walks 24 miles to her - she did not walk to him or follow Jesus due to a miracle he performed. The conversation began with it being all about her. Once she understood that not only was it all about her but that Jesus knew her and her life without judging and condemning. She had real dialogue about real things with Jesus. Not religious ideals. He won her by his one on one authentic dialogue that was based in love and value for her soul. It was then she asked about who He was and then came the revelation to her that religion and ideals could not break through. She walked away amazed at the discovery of the “Gift of Eternal Life” and it transformed her life. 

The Millennialists, Gen Y are now in their 20’s and early 30’s as another generation is growing up, Generation Z who are in their teens and graduating from High School. They are very adept in technology, and information gatherers. 

There is yet another new generation upon us today. Babies born in the 15 years from 2010 will be known as "Generation Alpha". And they’re set to be the largest generation yet, as we experience a birthrate spike larger than the post-WWII baby boom. According to social researcher Mark McCrindle, the name was selected because, just as in science, once the Latin alphabet was exhausted they moved on to Greek letters. “This generation is likely to be the most formally educated in history. They will begin schooling earlier and study for longer.” Brought up in an era of information overload, they are expected to be even more tech-savvy and materialistic than their predecessors, Gen Z

The biggest mistake that Gen X and the Baby Boomers could make today is to underestimate their importance in the lives of Gen Y - the Millennialists, as well as the newer generation. The older generation has much that Gen Y needs - but Gen Y needs it in their language. Like Jesus did, he broke it down into practicality and real loving talk with inclusivity. Remember, God’s Love is trans-generational, trans-cultural and it is transformational. - Christian

The Genesis of a New Creation

Before we could approach the subject of prayer in this small treatise, we are prompted to evaluate the natural state of every human being, and that being unregenerate, spiritually dead, impotent. A man that has been seeded from the earth, born of the flesh, is therefore flesh. We originally being fleshly and blind to the things that of the Heavenlies, are in need of new “genesis” in the deepest part of ourselves. That “genesis” differs from the Biblical account of the origins of the material world in that it has an entirely different source. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” – John 3:6. This source afore mentioned is rooted in the Heavenlies and shares nothing with the soil we stand on now. The Source from which this comes is from The Spirit of God Himself.
Mankind needs a total rebirth, an absolute rejuvenation that is sourced from that Heavenly sphere from which springs up a new creature. Mankind cannot be remade, remodeled, or refashioned. You and I need a new genesis – a creation that is not made from the materials from ourselves, or this world.
God created this universe not out of mandate but out of love, and because of love God sends His only Son into it to rescue it. Jesus’s love and mission to this world was terminated by the ingratitude and sin of man (and of you and I). Yet it was the Love of the Spirit of God for humankind that raised Jesus from the dead and burst Him from the sullied grave.
Thus we may be reborn by this Love from Above. Anyone that allows the Love of the Spirit of the Father to enter and believe on His Son that He sent, will be a recipient of a supernatural miracle – a rebirth of the Spirit of God. Something or rather better stated; Someone will be born inside that is born from Above, that is sourced from Above, and speaks the language of Above.
!This is the new creation that the Bible speaks so much of. This new creation is born of the Spirit and cannot sin, fail or be destroyed. It is sourced from the Seed of the Gospel of Grace. Just as a new born babe cries out for it’s mother’s breast and her caress, so this new creation hungers and thirsts for God; His Word, His Love and His Communication to the inner most parts of who we are.
This is beginning of prayer.

Church Building & Growth from the Inside Out

Just returned from an awesome Pastor's Retreat with about 110 other GGWO pastors. We were challenged, encouraged, built up, and inspired by new ideas and vision. Here are some notes on a session I did on Church Building and Strategies:

Building from the Inside Out

Church Growth vs. “Making all men see” - Numbers are God’s part - we can’t make a tree grow faster. It’s the inherent life within the seed - in the tree. The Gospel Seed is the The Life in the Body = the Word. 1 Pt 1.23 & Jn 6.63. Our Passion is not growth but Paul’s passion: "And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ" - Eph 3.9. It’s the Word of Grace that caused growth in the first church and that made disciples - Acts 4.4. Is the Father’s desire to have a full house - Lk 14.23

“The stat that 80% of church plants that fail is bogus - The truth is that after 4 years 68% of church plants are alive and well - only 32% fail" (see Ed Stetzer‘s research on this). There is a revival of missions and church planting across the country and the world today.

Divine Creativity is Good - Jesus has the Key to the city where we minister = Function by principles and not patterns. Concepts & religious idealism kill - principles breathe creative life into programs and events.


Critical Internal Ingredients:
  1. Inner heart picture of what the church will be like in 2 years, in 5 years and beyond. 
  2. “Self Talk” - what is the content of what we are speaking in our heart as a pastor/planter? Eccl 5.2
  3. The team has to be led in vision and passion - 
    1. Daily schedule
    2. Word of God intensity
    3. “Team Talk” - what are we talking about on the team consistently? Complaining? Vision? 
  4. Pastor and team members personal discipline in the Word, prayer, and private life - personal growth as a leader. 
  5. Develop Timothy and men. “If we have one man we have the country”
  6. Be patient - Let people grow. We are not here to conform people to Christ’s image or a pattern of religious behavior - the Holy Spirit through the Word transforms people by the renewing of their minds. 
  7. Attack laziness - Col 4.17

7 Reasons Why Church Plants Fail - Generally church planters and church planting ministries all agree on these 7 reasons.
  1. Unqualified and or novice leaders
  2. Lack of understanding or respect of the local context
  3. Underfunded
  4. Rigid model
  5. Planting alone
  6. Resiliency in defeat - “Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face”  Mike Tyson
  7. Intangibles: Calling? Timing? Right Man? Sent? 

Church Growth Analysis: NG = VF x RR – BDL
Net Growth = Visitor Flow x Retention Rate minus Back-Door-Loss (Dr. Larry Sherman - Director of Church Planting - Great Lakes Conference ECC - 82 new churches this year)


Breaking Barriers: With two or three people, there is disciple-making. When you have 12, you have a unit of disciples. A group of 70 you have Body where you assess, train and at 70-100 like Jesus & the Moravians you send out.
  • Breaking the 100 barrier. Unless you are an extra-ordinary pastor / leader - the average pastor can only pastor 70-100 people affectively before he starts losing touch with some. Delegate. Trust. Listen. 
  • Breaking the 200 barrier. Disciple & raise up men. Many churches had to break down and hire a small staff to go beyond the 200 mark. 
  • Breaking the 500 & 1000 marks - The pastor takes on more of a preaching/teaching role only & with effective training and raising up men to lead teams, groups and departments. He focuses on his investment and discipleship of this handful of men that are leading. 

6 Team Positions That Must be Filled to Grow a Church plant startup: (this may be obvious but a common mistake is the planting pastor does it all himself with little to no delegation & trust)
1. Lead Pastor: You have to have a point leader - A builder of men. Jesus had disciples, Acts 20.4-5 Paul traveled with his men and you should mentor the team & others as well.
2. Worship Arts Director: Someone who can provide leadership and build teams at every level. Web, stage design, media and graphic design. 
3. Children’s Director: a MUST, a Youth Pastor can wait.
4. Connections/Assimilation Leader
Greeters, parking lots, cafe, etc. = connections, and follow-up from first-timer through them accepting Christ and becoming discipled is key in being baptized into the Body. Many times assimilation is shared with the Pastor and  the Assistant Pastor in this list or this is 2 separate roles.
5. Office Administration/Pastor Assistant
This is such a key role that again, your wife does NOT want to fill.
6. Prayer Warrior/Leader


#1 Problem all leaders struggle today is they are not encouraged. Not built up. Tell a man who he is and he’ll know what to do. Here are 12 reasons (among many) leaders lose their passion in their call and they stop growing - in return their ministry stops growing. Very often the people that a leader leads will not grow beyond the level the leader himself has grown - we need as leaders to be constantly challenged and constantly grow.
  1. Getting stuck in the mud of the details of the ministry & spinning wheels.
  2. Distraction of entertainment - movies, online entertainment, gaming, and excessive recreation
  3. Google searches replace turning of the pages of the Bible and books.
  4. Discouragement due to family pressures or marriage problems - find the right balance.
  5. Soulish relationships - relationships that cross the lines into the inappropriate
  6. Petty skirmishes - the tit-for-tat arguments because of insecurity
  7. Hidden idols - toleration for error that slips in and causes to stumble
  8. Personal sin. Sin steals joy, vision and concentration. Consecration produces concentration
  9. Pursuit of materialism - Succumbing to the temptation to possess and acquire.
  10. Knowledge replaces obedience - The stimulation of information replaces radical steps of faith
  11. Psychological thinking replaces Bible Conviction
  12. Departing from the basics of the vision & teaching to be more acceptable and less controversial.

Things that Have Brought new people for us in Philly/Hatboro. 

  1. Monthly events - Last month - Pig Roast - 200~ new visitors.
  2. Concerts and Raffle
  3. Bring a Friend Sunday - new visitors get a free gift bag
  4. Social Media - targeting groups of people with special interest / topics - Meetup.com & Craigslist
  5. Word of Mouth 
  6. “Walk-ins"
  7. Signs in front of the church
  8. Street evangelism & visitation 
  9. Sermon series & hitting hot topics people talk about on the street.
  10. “Surgical Outreaches” - Targeting community events and people hotspots with events such as coffee house outreach, etc.

Ponder the Path of your Feet

Sadly, all to often, I see the same disastrous pattern repeat itself - a pattern that is as old as man himself; people get settled & comfortable in a familiar rut that lulls them into a state of ease and passivity where a daily faith walk is no longer characteristic of their lives and Calvary's Cross becomes just optional furniture in the rooms of their soul. It is then the fatal mistake is made in a bad decision or a behavioral indiscretion that leaves a person paralyzed and a casualty. Friend, guard your heart, walk circumspectly and ponder the path of your feet. Take steps of faith in your calling and grow in grace and conviction daily. For the Devil as a roaring lion roams about seeking whom he may devour.

200 Words on Leadership Growth

Each one of us is a leader in some way or another. We influence people most of the time unknowingly either in a good or bad way by our decisions.
> The question of growth as a leader is often overlooked by people because of laziness and passivity. 2 Tim 4.5
> The question is not how to grow my church or expand my influence, but how to grow personally as a leader. Ministry growth follows naturally. Ex 33.11

Growth Process:
1. Honesty and transparency: You're either walking with God and there's power & anointing in your life or you are; not thus you're plagued with weakness. Ps 45.7
2. Growth in your personal relationship in the Word of God and grace convictions. How's your relationship with your Bible and reading? 1 Tim 4.13
3. Personally being a part of a small team where your tools are being sharpened as well as yourself challenged. 1 Thes 5.11
4. Selflessly develop leaders around you into their calling. Help leaders above you, beside you and below you grow in all they are to be in their Calling. Acts 14.32 & 20.17
5. Others followed Christ because He was moving in God's Plan. People will follow you as you follow Him. 1 Cor 11.1

> When you stop growing, those that are around you stop growing and the laws of deterioration begin. Jn 21.3