“Our church is financially broke”

Rear side of audiences sitting and listening the speackers on the stage Premium Photo

Every church goes through lean times financially. Four years ago it was our turn.1 Our church treasurer came to me with the bad news. “Pastor, as you know, we have been falling behind on our bills each month for several years. Our church is now financially broke. We can’t even pay the utilities bill this month. What are we supposed to do?” But today, four years later, all our bills are paid, we have a reserve fund of four months’ expenses, and our tithe two years ago was almost twice what it was four years ago. When people ask how we did it, I tell them that only the Lord can reverse a downward spiral like that, but there were three key ways we learned to cooperate with Him. Continue reading

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Baptism for the Dead? 1 Corinthians 15:29

Second coming

“Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?” 1 Corinthians 15:29.

So what does “baptism for the dead” mean?

What do you do when you run into a verse that is somewhat obscure?

Here are three things that can help…

  1. Look at the context of the passage.
  2. Look at key words in the verse and study their meaning throughout the Bible.
  3. List possible meanings and, asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, select the one that fits best with the context and key words.

Context

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Why Not Try This? …Take the 2020 Challenge

baptismAre you ready for the 2020 challenge?

As a pastor (or church leader), by the end of 2020 what will you have done, cooperating with the Holy Spirit, to bring people into God’s final movement? There will be a thousand distractions, a hundred other things, and a dozen fires to put out to derail you from doing the most important things.

I love what the apostle Paul said in Acts 20:20. “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house.”

Based on that, I’d like to personally challenge you to do three things in 2020. Continue reading

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Why Not Try This? …Use Your Israel Trip for Evangelism

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Many pastors and church leaders have taken a trip to Israel to walk where Jesus walked and see the Bible lands. Why not use all those pictures and experiences to share Jesus and Bible truths with others?

Last month (September 2019) my wife Lois and I visited Israel and Jordan with a group of pastors and spouses from Texas. It was an incredible experience. Based on a challenge from our son Dustin we went with the purpose of taking pictures and being ready to have a week of reaping meetings within a few months of our return. Our son Jacob and daughter-in-law Vero were on the trip as well and made videos we could use as part of each presentation. They are available on YouTube.

We just finished our reaping meetings with the Benbrook Seventh-day Adventist Church, which was planted just last year. With any reaping meetings it is important to have people ready for baptism through Bible studies before opening night. At the end of our meetings we had a family of four baptized in the swimming pool of the hotel where we held our meetings. And during the week we made friends with new interests, involved more church members in our God-given mission, saw God transform lives and started a weekly Amazing Facts Study Group as follow up.

baptism.jpgBelow is an outline of what we did each evening in the reaping meetings. There are links to various resources. Feel free to use or adapt anything here for your situation that might help you win souls for Jesus and His final movement!

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Five Keys to Strengthen Your Church

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The Lord has a great plan for your church family! Your little church can impact eternity for Jesus!

“A company of believers may be poor, uneducated, and unknown; yet in Christ they may do a work in the home, the neighborhood, the church, and even in “the regions beyond,” whose results shall be as far-reaching as eternity.” The Desire of Ages 640.4

Here are five crucial areas to examine and strengthen in your congregation.

  1. No disconnected guests. How do you make sure that when a person visits your church there is someone who will connect with them, help them feel comfortable and get them introduced to others? Who will offer to give them Bible studies so they can learn transforming Bible truths for the last days? Who will invite them to join a group where they can find fellowship, encouragement and spiritual growth?
  2. No dormant disciples. The Lord doesn’t call people to just sit in church. What is being done to help people discover their gifts and passions and put them to work for Jesus?
  3. No dead space. How can you eliminate dead space during the worship service so it has a natural flow and people aren’t distracted from connecting with God through the various parts of the service?
  4. No dry baptistries. Do you fill your baptistry on a regular basis to be sure it still works? Does everyone know when the next few baptisms are scheduled so they can encourage people to make their decision?
  5. No diminished prayers. Is it common to see people praying with each other in your church facilities? When people pray in church, is it clear they believe in a God who loves them, listens to them and has the power and wisdom to answer their prayers in the best way in the light of eternity?

As you reflect on these points and questions personally and with your church family the Lord will show you areas to revitalize and/or strengthen your witness to your community.

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Q&A – Why do I never hear about the Adventist churches in my town?

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I received this message out of the blue from someone in another state I haven’t heard from in years…

Question: Hi Dan, I have a question. I don’t attend the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church where I am, but there is a Spanish SDA church in town and also an English speaking SDA Church in town. We never hear about anything they are doing. We hear nothing at all. This is true of other towns as well. So that’s my question… why not? What do you think?

What would you say?

Here’s how I responded.

Answer: Hi D————, great to hear from you. It’s been a while. You’re asking some very important questions. I believe the Lord wants every church to be on fire and bold in serving others and sharing Jesus with their communities. The devil would like to get them distracted with a thousand other things. Why don’t you go visit the English church and the Spanish church and share with them what you just asked me and ask them the same questions? I would love to hear the responses you get from members and church leaders. And perhaps God is calling you to go and make a difference too. What do you think?

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Making Appeals – Top Ten

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An appeal is an invitation to take a next step with Jesus.

 

  1. Appeal often. At the end of every sermon. At every baptism. At the end of every Bible study. Whenever the opportunity arises.
  2. Appeal because of Jesus. Talk of Jesus’ goodness, kindness and love. Talk of how much Jesus loves each person. Talk of Jesus’ wonderful plan of redemption. Tell stories of Jesus’ life. Tell the parables Jesus told. Tell them what Jesus is doing now in heaven. Then invite people to respond to Jesus.
  3. Appeal for Jesus. If Jesus were right there with you what do you think He would say to this person? Would He say, “Follow me and I will use you to lead others to me”? Would He say “Come to Me and find rest”? You are an ambassador for Jesus to make the appeals He would make.
  4. Appeal for simple action. Ask “Is there anything that would make it difficult for to follow Jesus and be baptized like He was?” Ask “Would you like Jesus to be in charge of every part of your life and make the changes that only He can make?” Ask “Is the Sabbath truth clear to you? Would you like to begin spending this day with Jesus in the way He has told us in the Bible?”
  5. Appeal with the benefits of following Jesus. Rather than focusing on “ought to” focus on “how to” and the blessings of following Jesus. Instead of “You don’t want to receive the mark of the beast, do you?” say “Would you like the Lord to write His law in your mind so you understand clearly what is right and wrong and in your heart so you want to obey Him out of love?”
  6. Appeal in a variety of ways. When appealing invite people to respond with a “yes” or on a card or with a raised hand or by coming to the front or by standing and saying something good about Jesus, etc.
  7. Appeal based of God’s Word. Show clearly what Jesus says in His Word and invite people to follow. Ask “Is this Bible truth clear to you? Are you willing to follow Jesus in this area of your life?”
  8. Appeal briefly. Avoid hostage appeals that go on forever, pressuring people to respond so they can leave. Make your appeals brief, positive and to the point in a Christ-centered way.
  9. Appeal with several options. Sometimes give multiple appeals. “Let us all stand. Tonight/Today I’m talking to three groups of people. I talking to those who have never asked Jesus to be in charge of every part of their life. Next I’m talking to those who are walking with Jesus but have never been publicly baptized by their own decision. And finally I’m talking to those who have been baptized but have gone on breaking one or more of God’s commandments, knowingly or unknowingly. If you are in one of these three groups raise your hand and wave it at me. While our singers are singing, I want all of you in these three groups to come to the front so I can talk with you briefly. Come now.” When the group is at the front say “I’d like everyone to put their hand on their heart and repeat after me. ‘Jesus, I love you with all of my heart. Whatever you say to do I am willing to do. Wherever you say to go I am willing to go. Help me take my next step with you no matter what anyone else may say or think of me. Thank you for helping me, Jesus.’” Then say “Amen and Praise the Lord! The Lord will answer your prayer. We’d like to get your contact information so we can help you take your next step with Jesus. Here are the cards and pens. Our assistants will help you then pray with you before you go back to your seats. As you fill out the information our singers will sing another song. When you are finished you may return to your seats and we will have prayer with all the congregation then dismiss.”
  10. Appeal to believers to make appeals to their friends. As you make an appeal you can say “Please pray for your family or friends who are here who need to make a decision for Jesus. Pray that the Lord will make truth clear to them and that they will feel the love of Jesus drawing them to a full surrender to Him.” You can also say to the entire audience “When you go home you can invite your friends to follow Jesus and share with them what you have decided. Turn to someone in front of you or behind you and tell them something good about Jesus so you can practice before leaving. Then pray with each other and dismiss quietly.”

 

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” John 12:32.

 

 

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