Author: Andy Addis

Good Friday?

Good Friday.

I know we have all heard the sermons about Good Friday being misnamed, because it was anything but good. 

Brutal, yes.

Sad, absolutely

Agonizing, without a doubt.

So, we have been pointed in the direction of identifying the irony of calling such a vicious day a “good” day. I don’t disagree; I’m sure I have preached that message in the past.

I know we’ve also been taught to view this as Good Friday because of what takes place later. In other words, it’s only Good Friday because of what we see on the other side of the horror. You know that anthem… It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!

Again, not untrue. And, it is inspiring theology for sure.

But, what if Good Friday was good on the day it was happening in the way that it was happening? No, I’m not saying that brutality is a kindness, nor am I saying that the events of Jesus crucifixion were pleasant in any way.

Far be it for me, I can hardly stand to imagine those moments in my prayer time, read the accounts in Scripture, or watch in the Christian movies that portray this day.

Yet, what if 2000 years ago as Christ bore the crown of thorns, suffered the lashes on his back, and carried the cross to Calvary… what if all that was, good?

The phrase Good Friday does not exist in Scripture, it’s a part of church tradition remembering the day of Jesus’ brutal sacrifice. However, the concept of and the word “good“ are all over the New Testament and consistently stem from the Greek root agathos.

One place that word shows up is in Philippians 1:6:

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Well, we all know the end of that story. The good work that Jesus was doing, the good work that He had to carry on to completion, that good work involved the cross on a Friday.

So, by Jesus’ own definition the work that needed to be done for our salvation, began in us by Him, completed in us by Him, and sustained us by Him was good.

The reason we call it Good Friday is because the work He was doing for us on the cross to bring our salvation into existence was “good!“

Hard, unjust, sacrificial, violent, unfair, brutal, wrong, but… it was good. Not just because of what it did, and not in the rearview mirror. Jesus was doing “good“ even on the most beautiful/brutal/brutiful of days 2000 years ago.

This should stand as a reminder to followers of Jesus even today.

First, that we should be overcome with gratitude and worship because of the good thing He was willing to do for us.

And, second, that we should know that, even as we go through hardship for the sake of the cross, discipline for our own discipleship, and sacrifice for the sake of others, it’s not something that one day might turn out well. In that moment, in that suffering, in that persecution, in that hardship, it is good.

Made this truly be a good Friday to each and everyone of you.

Why churches die: refusing pastoral leadership

This is the second of two articles I was asked to contribute to a series of seven articles about why some churches die. At the end of the article will be a link to this entry where you can also find the other articles in the series.

The joke landed well in a room of 300-plus denominational leaders and pastors. The laughter sparked numerous spontaneous testimonies and anecdotes – that apparently needed to be shared immediately. It took a minute to get the room back to the speaker.

What was the gut-busting and response-provoking bit of humor?

Answering that is difficult. There was no punchline, just a statement everyone had heard before and acknowledged as a joke.

The speaker had said, “It’s like the struggling church that says they want a new, young pastor with some new ideas.”

Hilarity ensues.

I have to admit I got caught up in the moment and laughed myself, probably to keep from crying at the numerous examples I could personally describe of being undermined, ignored or placated over the years.

The truth is, that statement should not be funny

One of the indicators of a dying church is that it fails to follow (or even reject) pastoral leadership.

I am not advocating blind obedience by a congregation or pushing for a pastoral offensive going unchecked. But here’s what needs to happen in a church struggling to follow its pastor: some biblical accountability and a little benefit of the doubt.

Let’s start with biblical accountability as we focus on Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Let’s keep this verse in the context of the whole counsel of Scripture, understanding this is not the only instruction on congregational responses to pastoral leadership. But it is a starting place.

When one is called to serve in the pastoral office, that person is to be “obeyed” (the first of two imperatives in this verse). If I work a little with the language, he is to be followed as he leads others.

A good church member will see a pastor as a God-appointed, -inspired and -led leader, attempting to discern the community and guide a church to spread the gospel where it is planted.

If you call him “pastor,” remember that you are the church, part of the body. The pastor is leading you!

And if you ignore, criticize, pledge to outlast or play the “I’ll just hide and watch this dumpster fire game,” you are out of line because you are out of sync with God’s Word.

Even if you don’t like or understand the direction he is taking, if it’s in line with God’s word, you still follow because of the second imperative in the passage: submit.

Yes, sometimes pastors appear to have “nontraditional” ideas or try to do something “we’ve never done before,” but perhaps the Holy Spirit is leading him. Look at God’s leadership in the Bible: build an ark, cross the Jordan, step out of the boat.

God calls leaders to things that will give Him the glory. That’s why no biblical narratives exist about keeping the facility nice or balancing the budget. God will lead your pastor to do God-sized things, and the congregation is to obey and submit.

But this verse is a two-way street, and the pastor is not off the hook. What he does must be for the good of the congregation’s souls – and he… will… be…held… accountable.

So this means the pastor must be living and leading in a way worthy of the congregation’s followship and submission. He must continually ask if this is how the Lord wants him to lead. No, seriously, he needs to ask that all the time. Every day.

Because it’s the Lord’s church we are stewarding, and we will be called to account for what we do.

A church member should want to obey the pastor even if it’s not easy – because the pastor has left no doubt that he loves the Lord and he loves them.

Finally, how about we give each other the benefit of the doubt? You may have been burned in the past, and you may naturally respond in a negative way, but God can change hearts – even yours.

As the writer of Hebrews tells us, there is no need for us to bicker, squabble and distrust because when we obey and submit to godly leaders, we “do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

A dying church has a lot of issues, to be sure. But one issue within your control costs nothing and makes a huge difference: Be good leaders and be good followers. Then hide and watch what only the Lord can do!


Why Churches Die, Part 7: They Reject Pastoral Leadership

Why Churches Die: Not Applying God’s Word to Their Lives

This is the first of two articles I was asked to contribute to a series of seven articles about why some churches die. At the end of the article will be a link to this entry where you can also find the other articles in the series.

The lights came on that day in eighth-grade Physical Science class.

Our teacher/coach/driver’s ed instructor pushed a chalkboard eraser along the edge of his teaching desk. He was dangerously close to making it fall over the edge.

“I know it’s hard to see, but there is energy here,” he said. “This eraser is full of potential energy on top of this desk. But that energy will stay stored until it moves over the edge.”

Every eye watched as the 6-inch-long eraser plummeted from the edge of his desk under the gentle promptings of his hand. It tumbled through four feet of free fall before bouncing off the floor, barely making a noise, and emitting a tiny cloud of chalk dust.

“Now, that is kinetic energy! As long as it stays stored, it’s potential. But things start happening once it finds its use.”

He was more excited about the lesson than he should have been. Most students were ignoring him, and the few that weren’t were now rolling their eyes. But that’s the day I got it.

Stored energy is potential. But if it stays that way, that’s all it is: potential.

Every good sermon ends when you push the eraser over the edge of the table. All the Bible study, illustrations, argumentation and rhetorical eloquence must end up as some kind of application, or the rest of it was just an exercise in religious futility.

All that potential energy needs to become active motion as repentance, obedience, evangelism, worship – anything in a God-ward direction!

Many dying churches do not comprehend just how much stored potential energy they have. They are powerhouses and powder kegs ready to explode with gospel energy, but that stored-up potential is never set in motion.

You can find that potential stored energy in almost every verse of the Bible, but let’s look at one of my favorites: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Rom. 1:16)

What is the potential energy of the church?

First, we have the gospel! If my Greek isn’t too rusty, that means we have the good news. In a world jumping up and down to share bad news, where horror stories lurk around every corner and every channel reeks of darkness, we have a better story to share.

I remember hearing that the ‘sin of the desert’ was to know where the water was but not tell others who were thirsty. When we don’t take the potential energy of the good news of Jesus Christ and use it to light up the darkness, we are wasting it.

We don’t need a better message. We have the gospel!

Second, if we have the gospel, we have God’s power! I know we’d like bigger budgets, deeper leadership benches and more evident and low-hanging fruit opportunities in ministry, but we don’t need them.

Why? We have the stored potential energy of the God of the universe. If we have the gospel, then we have the power of God in our church, ministry and lives! That means we lack nothing. It’s time to let the power of the Lion loose – and He can take care of Himself!

Third, we have the potential of salvation in our hands. The world is looking for something, and they’re trying to satisfy themselves with many stupid and inadequate things. But we have what every human being is looking for, whether they realize it or not: salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ!

We often look at our lives and ministries through the lens of loss or what’s missing. But we seldom remember the stored potential energy given to us through the gospel. Indeed, we need nothing more, and if we tap into that potential, the frenzy of kinetic energy released would be more than any of our churches can handle.

It would be amazing!

So, the real question isn’t what we need, but how do we release the stored energy God already has put in place? If we would apply what we know and believe already, we would find God already has provided all we could ask or imagine.

Many say knowledge is power, but I don’t think that’s true. I believe knowledge is fuel, stored energy. Only when knowledge is applied does that potential become power.

When I was a young man, they told me I had potential and it was encouraging. When I was a little older, they told me I had potential and it was a reminder. As an older man, when someone tells me I have potential, it’s a warning!

God has given you everything you need: the gospel, Jesus, His presence and power are more than enough.

Let’s apply what we already know, use what we’ve already received and be the church He has called us to be!


This article is also posted at:

The holy trifecta of a healthy church

The following is an excerpt of “Doing More together” which is a free resource available to you through The Rural Pastor Podcast.

Principle #1: Bible preaching, relationships and vision are the holy trifecta of a healthy church.

Too many times we look for some secret sauce, like those late-night television commercials that promise you can lose weight, change your financial future, or make a bass boat out of duct tape. The problem is, they’re almost never the truth.

This first principle is actually one we discovered looking back in the rearview mirror. Our little band of approximately 100 people in a declining, indebted, rural congregation saw tremendous growth that led to nearly 500 in worship within the first couple years of our transition.

What was the secret sauce?

There wasn’t any.

We simply did what you would expect any good church to do, and God blessed it!

Visitors turned into regulars, regulars turned into members and when they were asked why they chose to be a part of CrossPoint one of the main responses was, “You preach the Bible here.”

Personally, I internally questioned what in the world other churches were talking about for half an hour every Sunday morning?

What we’ve discovered is people just appreciate solid biblical teaching that’s more clear than clever and they aren’t looking for five easy steps to whatever, or a self-help series on how to be you 2.0.

Walking through books of the Bible, saying the hard things, and leading with love seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.

In addition to solid biblical teaching, relationships are something that can’t be skipped if you’re going to pastor a church. This meant lots of high school volleyball games, fried chicken dinners in people’s homes, and late night hang out time in the church parking lot talking about everything from the NFL to the NRA to the SBC.

The final piece of this holy trifecta of biblical preaching and relationships was vision. Not just any vision, but a wild, join-us-on-an-impossible- mission-and-let’s-see-if-God-shows-up kind of vision.

We decided the vision for our church was already cast in the Great Commission, but if we quantified it we could give ourselves a target to shoot at.

So, with no voice from heaven, but understanding that the tithe was 10%, we decided we would give him 10% of the city. Yep, 10% of 35-40,000 people meant we were going to be a church of 3500- 4000 people.

It was such a preposterous proposition that we found a number of people who wanted to be part of it just in case it actually happened!

Some of you may object to setting a goal like that, with seemingly impossible standards. But, I ask you what happens if we only make it halfway? What a failure, right? A little neighborhood church only running 2000 people now?

I think you understand what I’m saying.

The vision was huge and that compelled people to be a part of something bigger than they were. The goal was not to keep the lights on, or run a program one more year, or fill all the vacancies of the people who quit doing the roles from the previous year. It was to shake the town upside down and spread the gospel everywhere, handing back to God 10% of the city redeemed by the blood of Jesus!

That was the vision in the beginning, but now let me tell you an encouraging story. The location of the church’s first campus is in Hutchinson, Kansas, and we became known for having some pretty exciting Christmas Eve services.

As we grew, the number of services had to be multiplied each year and even extended to the day before Christmas Eve (affectionately called Christmas Adam services).

In 2019, with seven services over two days, we saw 4,046 people attend that holiday celebration. We know Christmas and Easter are high points, but we saw what it could look like when we finally reach that vision and goal!

Now, some of our smaller locations have actually touched those numbers in attendance. Let me explain what that means. When a church reaches 10% of their city, it’s no longer a church in that city, it’s that city’s church. When one out of every 10 people at the grocery store, one out of every 10 kids in school, one out of every 10 nurses at the clinic goes to CrossPoint, it’s a tipping point that changes the community and it is fantastic!

Big vision doesn’t scare people away, it draws them close. When you spend time cultivating relationships built on solid biblical preaching, you lay the groundwork for some great growth and ministry.

To see all the other principles and get your free copy of “Doing More Together” go here:

I See You Pastor

Thank you to the rural church pastor. I am one of you, and I want to thank you for some things most people would not understand

Thank you for the fact that holiday weekends are more weekend to you than holiday, and a weekend means a Sunday when you will be ready.

Thank you for the countless times others’ emergencies have become your emergencies because pastoring is a 24/7 calling.

Thank you for missing football games and naps to make time for sermon prep. 

Thank you for working the “other job” to pay the bills so you can do this job with skill and compassion.

Thank you for altering your family plans to ensure that the traditions of families in your congregation can be maintained.

Thank you for being there when everyone else is on the road and standing at your post like a good soldier.

Thank you for picking up the slack when volunteers disappear for the holidays because “things are just so busy.”

Thank you for seeing the stress and pace of a holiday season as an opportunity that you can’t miss in hopes of making an impact.

Thank you for taking care of your family, our family and the church family and doing it with a prayer and a smile.

Thank you for putting more in the offering plate than is often put in your paycheck.

Thank you for forgiving us when we didn’t know we assumed of, presumed upon, or consumed you.

Thank you for responding to a calling and sacrificing daily and for the countless things too numerous to name and remember. Thank you1

This Thanksgiving, I pray that you know this rural church pastor: you are not alone, you are seen, and you are loved.

Today, I am thankful for you.

Philippians 1:3–5 (ESV)

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Prayer for Pastors

This is Andy Addis speaking here. I want to share with you a letter sent to pastors from a friend and mentor who is the Associational Mission Strategist of the Heart Of Kansas Southern Baptist Association. Glenn Davis is a treasure to me, and I hope this letter is a treasure to you.

On this occasion of Pastor Appreciation Month, I come to You to pray for the men who lead churches across this association.

Heavenly Father, I come to You because You are good, and You are gracious.  Your love is a steadfast love, never faltering and never fading.

I come to You because You are all powerful.  You are Creator and Sustainer.  You are King above all Kings, You are Lord of all and able to act in behalf of your shepherds.  There is no place in all of creation where Your voice is not heard and Your purpose not accomplished.

Father, I pray today for these pastors.

They are men whom You have called out for a unique role.  They have been chosen by the Almighty God to serve as undershepherds of Your flock.  You have chosen them to lead, to love, and to feed Your church.  You have assigned to each of them their duty station where they faithfully defend the bride of their King.

Father, the enemy they fight is real.
He is cunning and relentless and ruthless.
He appears as an angel of light to deceive.
He is relentless.  When his attack at the door is thwarted, he moves to rattle the window bars.  When assault from the outside is resisted, he works through those inside the church.
And he is ruthless, attacking wives and children and families.

But our enemy is no match for our King.  Our enemy will one day be cast into the pit.

Father, I pray for pastors to be clothed with Your armor and to stand against our enemy.

  • Protect them by faith.
  • Encourage them with the truth of Your Word.
  • Fil them with joy in Your presence.
  • Cause their hearts to abound with Your love.

Father, I thank You for these men, my fellow servants, my brothers in arms, my friends.

On this day, and every day,

  • make them aware of how great Your love is for them,
  • use them to encourage one another,
  • empower them for the work,
  • give them peace and great joy in their homes,
  • and glorify Yourself, extending Your Kingdom through their lives and ministry.

Your story, my story, our story

The following is an excerpt from the introduction of  “Doing More Together” which you can download in its entirety on the resource page resource page!

His old late ‘90s pickup rolled up in front of their house and seemed to settle into place with familiar creaks in the suspension and pops of gravel still stuck between the treads from the dirt road that brought him home.

After he turned off the ignition, he sat for a moment, enjoying the quiet. A couple of bicycles littered the front yard, expressly left where they had been instructed not to be left just the day before yesterday.

The kitchen light burned brightly, and then the silhouette of his amazing wife flashed past. Flashed past is no exaggeration as she seemed continually to move 90 miles an hour in that house.

She was super mom to two grade school-boys, part-time (more like full- time) receptionist at one of those downtown boutiques, an experienced chauffeur to the block and chaperone to everything happening with those under 15 in that small town.

Add to that list the multi-page resume of experience in volunteer positions all over their church, ranging from mentoring to childcare to janitorial and anything in between; she was amazing.

He felt himself breathe out the words, “I wonder how long it’s been since I told her that.”

Hearing his own voice, he realized his internal conversation was making its way into the real world, and it jarred him into reality. Time to start his second workday.

He gathered his bag and jacket from the bench seat of the truck and left the worries of the day job behind, as much as he could, knowing it would start all over again tomorrow at 7 am.

Swinging the front door wide open (one of his favorite parts of the day), two boys paused a brutal smackdown via video game long enough to greet dad at the door, the younger with a hug and the older a fist bump. They stood there long enough to answer a question or two about their day, but dad knew what they wanted to hear. “Okay, good to see you, boys. You can go back to your game.” No further urging was required as they both resumed their game without missing a beat. Their eyes were on the screen, but their voices were directed at him as they said as if in rehearsed unison, “Love you dad!”

As he stepped through the dark dining room settling against the doorway of the bright kitchen, he saw her, in all her frenetic energy.

Wearing an apron and armed with a spatula, he could see she had already taken care of dinner. He must be later than usual.

Her head was cocked to the left, pressing a phone to her shoulder as she bustled around. There was a 70-80% chance it was her mom or sister from back home, which she missed so much. She mouthed the words “I love you,” then glanced at the clock before mouthing, “About 30 minutes?”

He kissed her on the forehead and then slipped off to get a head start on his other job. Maybe these thirty minutes would give him enough of a head start so he could go to bed at the same time as his wife.

He walked down the hallway to the spare bedroom they call an office and closed the door behind him. It was a third bedroom which was cleverly disguised as a bi-vocational pastor’s office:

  • A haven for free books from past conferences.
  • A desk stacked with denominational fliers and church bills.
  • A few knick-knacks and thank you gifts from over the years from church members (including that odd painting of Jesus whose eyes followed you wherever you sat that his father- in-law “found for him” at a garage sale).

It wasn’t much of an office, but he wouldn’t have to worry about that for too long because in about 18 months, when his oldest became a teen, he knew this office would become a bedroom once again. A fact his twelve year-old son, currently rooming with a nine-year-old brother, never failed to recall at all family meetings.

Turning on the desk lamp, he pushed away a stack of papers while glancing at the bulletin board. There was a schedule pinned up for the current series at the church, reminding him he was already behind on his preparation for this weekend’s message continuing through the book of Ephesians.

He knew he needed to pour into some study. He should read the passage in multiple versions, study some commentaries, try to figure out some original language stuff and, oh yeah, maybe pray about it.

That thought threw a quick shiver down his spine.

It’s not that he didn’t want to pray; he loved prayer. But it was a reminder to him that his own personal devotions had suffered at the hands of a schedule that could only be described as undoable: working 7am-3pm five days a week, coaching every afternoon, caring for a young and active family, and then trying to pastor a small rural church that had enough meetings to steer a church five times its size!

He hadn’t even studied the passage, and he knew he still had to come up with a fantastic outline that was simple enough for the lost to hear the Gospel, yet deep enough to give something to sister Sally who’d been grading sermons for more than 50 years. He needed to produce argumentation, thoughtful exegesis, powerful (yet never before heard) illustrations, notes for the bulletins, PowerPoint slides for the screens, and direction for the song leader who wanted all this yesterday.

He likes preaching, but he doesn’t love it. What he does love kept creeping in under the door to this makeshift office:

  • The sound of his kids laughing.
  • The smell of the dinner being made by the woman he cherished.
  • The thought of togetherness just outside the door.

But, there was even more that he loved.
He was a bi-vocational pastor because he loved people, especially those in his little church.
He loved the community and wanted to give his life for that out of the way place. He loved mentoring, pastoring and holding that little piece of ground for the Kingdom of God.

But it did not matter how much he loved it all, something was going to have to give. The pace, the energy and the work just were not sustainable. Something was going to have to give before he did.

He would die for his family and that little church… but he’d rather live for them.

He did not know what it was but he knew he needed something that would help him love and lead his congregation while opening that door to be with his family.

Preaching Is Hard

Let me begin with an understatement: preaching is hard. We love it, we’re called to it, but every time we stand in the pulpit, we expose a little bit of our soul and stick our neck out.

Preaching is hard.

One of the many reasons preaching is challenging is the different kinds of ears receiving the message. I’ve always found it amazing how the same message can affect individuals in the same congregation entirely differently.

After a recent message, I received several pats on the back from members of the congregation who told me things like, “Man, I really needed that, “I love how you make the text come alive,” and “That was a real punch in the gut that I needed.“

Then later, I received a text message outlining how I had disappointed someone with my “non-inspiring” message.

It was a reminder of a principle that Jesus taught (though not about preaching) that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword.

You see, preachers can’t do what they do for the applause, or they will quit doing what they do because of the criticism. You’re always going to get both.

We need never forget that both good and bad comments come from good and bad places. Sometimes when you hear something positive and affirming, it’s because the message really served the purpose and they applied it well, but sometimes they’re just positive because they love you.

And sometimes, someone is negative concerning the message because there was something in that message that probably should’ve been left out or handled differently. But, sometimes, they’re negative just because they’re negative. Or, maybe one line in the message soured them to everything else; you know how we humans can be? You are one, right?

Either way, I’ve learned in 30 years of preaching that no matter what comes your way, don’t get inflated by the compliments or deflated by the criticisms, but instead, make it a meal of campfire trout.

Eat the fish and spit out the bones.

There’s always something to learn, even if the comment is overly gracious or absent of grace. Please take the opportunity and hear what needs to be heard, learn from it and then leave it behind!

Let me give you our lives in a microcosm. In July 2022, because of multiple camps, all church staff gatherings, and special events, I will deliver 44 different messages. Here are some factual statements:

  • Forty-four messages delivered in 30 days will not all be “home runs.”
  • You are human and won’t get everything right every time.
  • God can still work amazingly and do miraculous things even through a “mediocre performance.“
  • You weren’t called to be awesome. That’s His job.
  • Faithful obedience and hard work, that’s the job… the outcome, that’s not your job.

So, if you’ve ever pondered a message before delivery or after and thought, “I wonder what so-and-so thought about that,“ or “Man, I wish I did better with that.“ Let’s put some things in perspective by listening to what the apostle Paul encouraged a young preacher to focus on in 2 Timothy 4:2.

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”

Preach the truth: to reprove someone in a message is to point out clearly where the line is, even if it’s been stepped over. There is a black, there is a white, there’s an up, there’s a down, and there’s a wrong, and there is a right. Good preaching will clarify that in a blurry world. Sometimes people will applaud it; sometimes, they won’t. That doesn’t matter. Reprove yourself and others as you preach the truth

Preach restoratively: The word rebuke is more than just calling someone out. It means to command. So we need more than one of those “you fish-eyed, fool heathen, turn or burn” messages. We need real direction, helpful criticism, and authoritative instruction. Once the preacher clarifies the problem, the preacher should have a clear response. Preach restoratively.

Preach alongside: the word to exhort is a compound word in the original language pronounced parakaleo. The first half is from the same place we get parallel, like railroad tracks. The second half means to speak or to talk. Exhorting someone is to come alongside them and speak with them. Good preaching isn’t yelling at someone; it’s coming alongside them and saying what needs to be said. Some of the most powerful messages I believe I’ve ever delivered made Jesus the hero while showing my weakness in identifying myself with those in the congregation. Preach alongside.

There’s no doubt that preaching is hard, but we make it even harder when we listen to the voices of our congregation as a source of our mental well-being or a source of our feeling valued.

You were called to this task because you were already valued by the One that matters. You deliver the word not for the applause that it might invoke. You stand in the pulpit because it’s a place God has given you to steer the ship in the tumultuous waters of a broken world and chaotic culture.

Be ready in season and out, my friend, and listen to the One voice that truly matters. Preach, not because you love it, not because it’s necessary, not because they need it, but because it’s a privilege to which God has called!

Separating Theology From Methodology

We’ve all been there. Flipping through the channels on a sleepless night, attempting to drown out all the thoughts with senseless infomercials. And, for a moment, we might even be tempted to give in:

  • Maybe that’s all you need to do to lose weight.
  • I wonder if that stuff could flex enough to seal the baptistry?
  • A panini would be good right now.
  • Yes! I am finally getting those washboard abs.

But, long before dawn, you come to your senses and realize there are no easy fixes or one size fits all solutions, and you dodge the bullet of 3 easy payments of whatever.

It’s a similar feeling I have experienced at church/leadership conferences lately. I hear the great success stories, I am moved by powerful testimonies, and I find myself believing that if I just “do that” everything will finally fall into place. Yet, nearly 30 years down this road of ministry, I can assure you of one thing: we all need more than a conference quick fix.

The problem is a mindset that there is an answer, and we just need to go on a treasure hunt to find it. We all know that the only ‘solution’ is the presence and the movement of God, but it doesn’t keep us from pursuing the gold at the end of someone else’s rainbow.

That’s a hamster wheel that I invite you all to get off right now.

One way to break that cycle is to separate theology from methodology. One we hold firmly with a tight fist, and the other we must hold loosely with an open palm.

Theology requires a tight grip because there is a right and a wrong, there are dangers and errors, and there is a true orthodoxy that must be remembered, revered and relived in each of our lives and ministries.

But, methodology… that’s a different story.

Never forget that everything we do in the church today was once brand new. Always remember that missionaries need to minister contextually, and you are a missionary. Continually keep your eyes open, heart receptive, and ears tuned to what God is doing; it may be different than what you are planning.

Let me give you an example.

I pastor a network of rural churches called CrossPoint. In the last 19 years, we have grown from one declining congregation of 100 plus people in a single location to a network of 13 sites with more than 2500 attending weekly.

We have grown by revitalizing our original location, planting new sites and partnering with existing ministries to replant.

We have become a video-driven, rural, multisite.

I have written all of this just to drop that last line on you. If I am right, every word of the previous description probably caused you to pause.

Video-driven: “Ah, a tv preacher. That would never work here, and it’s probably of the devil anyway.”

Rural: “Really? I bet they aren’t really rural. He’s probably just a poser in a town that has their own Walmart.”

Multisite: “Yeah, no.”

I know these terms and methodologies are struggles for many, and I understand. The reason I know this is that I did not move my family to the middle of Kansas to pursue these “models of ministry.” I came there to pastor a church and follow God’s leading.

In the process of reading the context of the community, seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit in decision making and making the most of every opportunity, this is what we became.

And, whenever I share our story, I am always careful to say:

What we do is not THE way to do ministry. Its not even the BEST way to do ministry, necessarily. But, it is A way.

And, that is my hope for you. A hope that you would not be locked into a model or be a believer in a methodology. Just be open to the fact that God will lead you in your ministry, mission or replant in a way that might not seem normal, but it could be just what you need!

That’s all for now. I have to finish my insane cardio workout before I warm up some nutritional system food and get snuggied up on the couch for some infomercials. Shamwow!

An open letter to church planters (and others)

I write this open letter to church planters because of the importance of the work you do, because I have a heart for pioneers and risk-takers, and because I pastor a church that believes in church planting and lives it.

But, the truth is this letter is for pastors, leaders, and believers of all stripes.

This is a dark world, and times are (to use the nicest term I can think of) precarious.

These indeed are days when people have started to call good things evil and evil things good. Doing the work you are called to often feels fruitless at best and dangerous at worst.

But you, we, are not alone. The Apostle Paul was a man who knew how to suffer for the sake of the Gospel and kept his joy. This rock star pastor saw the miracles of God drip from his fingers and proclaimed that any suffering here is light and momentary compared to the eternal glory that awaits.

If I could be frank, his strength, determination, endurance and spiritual prowess are so incredible that sometimes… I really dislike him.

Maybe that’s why I was drawn to Acts 18.

  • Paul moves from the cosmopolitan, spiritual epicentre of Athens to the dirty, outskirts travel hub of Corinth. Comparatively, this place was a hole.
  • The city was complex and full of sexual dysfunction and immorality.
  • He was broke and had to revert to a day job to support himself.
  • And the people he was trying to reach with the love of Jesus “opposed and reviled him” (Acts 18:6).

The rejection was so public and defeating that Paul “shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads!'” (Acts 18:6)

It was an obvious low point for Paul, and maybe this says more about my brokenness than his circumstance, but this is where I started to like him again.

He apparently doesn’t wear a cape; this guy bleeds too. Now we can share a cup of coffee and lick our ministry wounds.

But, at just this point in the story, we see one of the rare ‘red letter’ passages in the book of Acts.

In Acts 18:9 it says, 

“And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.””

I don’t believe we doubt the continual presence of Christ with us, even in the dark times.

I bet most of us don’t struggle with speaking up, even when the world tells us to shut up.

And most of us have just settled in with the knowledge that attacks will come, and personal loss is a part of the game.

But did you catch that last part?

“For I have many in this city who are my people.”

I wonder if Paul woke from his vision and said, “Really… where are they?”

Paul couldn’t see them because God talked about His “already not yet” church. They were unknown, unreached, unconverted, undisciplined, but they were there! When Paul was ready to shake the dust from his feet and move to someplace where things were more fruitful, God showed up and allowed him to see through the eyes of God.

God was doing more than Paul knew, expected or could even begin to understand.

This same chapter says that Paul’s response was to plant, dig in and commit. He stayed there for 18 months, even in the face of failure. He adjusted his ministry to focus clearly on his calling.

That’s when God did what only God could do:

  • A new location, right next door to the synagogue (the house of Titius Justus)
  • A celebrity convert who caught the city’s attention (Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue)
  • New friends and instant leaders that would be with him for the next 16 years (Aquila & Priscilla)

I don’t know where you are right now leader, but don’t give up.

God is doing more than you know, expect or can even begin to understand. Many in your city are already His, starting with you.


Seeking more of Him and less of me,
Pastor Andy Addis
John 3:30
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