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Author: Andy Addis

Your Nativity Is Missing Something

I am one of the most Christmassy people you will ever meet. I love everything about the holidays from the sacred to the hokey:

  • I start Christmas music with the start of the NBA season
  • I go to every Christmas party I am invited to, and some I am not
  • I am a verified over-gifter and sin against my Dave Ramsey roots as an annual indulgence

So, with all that being true, I have a surprisingly “ba humbug” thing to bring to the table.

I have a problem with your nativity.

No, I am not talking about the anachronistic presence of three wise men who wouldn’t have been there that night. They probably didn’t show up until Jesus was well past infancy and maybe even entered the toddler stage.

It’s okay to have them part of your nativity… just put them in another room… east of your nativity… right next to the little drummer boy.

So, my problem isn’t with the wise guys. In fact, the problem isn’t with something in your nativity. It’s with something not in your nativity.

Here is what you need to add. Just next to the cattle lowing where the baby awakes, and on the other side of the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night I need you too slide in another little creature.

A dragon.

Nope, I’m not kidding. Your dragon needs space in your nativity and here is where I get the biblical support for that:

“And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems.  His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.” (Revelation 12:3–4)

Right there, at the birth of Jesus was a satanic presence ready to thwart God’s plan by killing the Savior while he was still a baby. In Revelation the spiritual metaphor is thick, but in the Gospels, we see the efforts of the dragon through King Herod who killed all the children in a region trying to kill the boy Jesus.

But God warned Joseph and Mary through the wise men (see, they are still in the Christmas story… just keep them in that other room so they can “travel afar) and they fled with baby Jesus to Egypt and stayed their until things were safe to return.

Let’s be clear… the devil was there at the birth of Jesus. He had plans to destroy our Savior. 

But, God is never surprised, outwitted, or overpowered. The devil who wanted to devour the Christ child on that first Christmas Eve went to bed hungry!

Our God is great. Our God is strong. Our God is able. Our God is always ahead of the enemy!

Today, in your own life, there is a very real danger that the dragon is still seeking your destruction as part of God’s people. But, whether he is a dragon in the nativity or a prowling lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), our God is able to guide, strengthen and protect.

I do not know what you are up against today. It might feel like that dragon is breathing fire down your neck but do not be afraid.

“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10–11)

Merry Christmas. It’s a little early, but it’s never too soon to remember your dragon protection.

For this I toil…

There is a lot of tension in being a follower of Christ. If you haven’t noticed, you haven’t been reading the manual very closely.

We often call them a paradox: to be first, you must be last; to save your life, you must lose it; what good is it to gain the world and lose your soul? You know, little things like those.

But, I recently have been pondering a grace and works tension. Not regarding salvation, no, no!

There is nothing to add to or take from the work Christ did for us on the cross.

I’ll leave some space here for the presumed “Amen’s.”

But, sometimes, we carry that theology of salvation into a theology of discipleship where it does not fit as neatly. This is not to say you’re covered by grace until salvation and then transferred to a kingdom of works as a disciple. Not at all.

Every Christian is offered grace before, during, and after our salvation “moment.” But, once we become followers of Jesus, we are disciples; disciples have discipline, and discipline takes work.

See, there’s that tension. 

As a disciple, it’s not a question of grace or works but a reality of grace with works.

Paul explained this beautifully in a single verse from Colossians 1:

29 “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

First, being a disciple involves ‘toil.’ The word is kopio in Greek and means to labor, work, use some energy. In this verse, Paul describes the ministry to which he was called to steward and says it requires ‘toil.’

I can’t think of a better way to say this, so I will blurt it out. This means that some stuff’s just on you. Getting up in the morning, walking through your disciplines, submitting to your Lord, and fulfilling the obligations of your calling.

There is no escaping it. It’s work. It’s hard. And it’s on you.

Second, we cannot ignore the beautiful end of this tension, described as “struggling with all his energy.” The word for ‘struggling’ here is agonizomai (probably no need to break that down for us).

Yet, in the agony of the struggle, we find that everything we do is with all His energy. We’ve all felt it when the task is too big, the obstacles are too difficult, and yet somehow there is enough strength. Miracles change our circumstances, serendipity is replaced by the supernatural, and you have to step back and say, “Wow, Lord, thank you.”

It’s a spiritual inertia becoming momentum that begins with a step of obedience to enter into the toil, then fueled by the filling of “all his energy,” and suddenly you find you have become a spiritual juggernaut impossible to stop because of the God who saved you, called you and fills you.

Third comes the payoff for our toiled obedience filled with the power of our Savior, leading to all “that he powerfully works within me.” The words “powerfully works” in Greek are pronounced dynamis energeo, from which we derive dynamite and energy (if you are willing to follow the twisty path of etymology, finding some potential root words for our English language). 

And what a payoff that is. Our simple obedience and Spirit-filled energy results in explosive ministry and energy beyond our abilities!

Thank you, Lord. 

Yes, the tasks are too big for you, and the calling you have received is too much for you. But, you are called to step into the toil and be filled with all His energy so that He might do what you and I could never do on our own or even together. 

Let’s not focus on strategy, resources, or even abilities, and instead, let us offer a worshipful act of obedience as we step into the work, believing and knowing He is all we need. When the toil is in your strength, the toil is terrible.

But, when the toil is in His strength, the toil is worship. And that worship is wonderful.

Learning To Be Grateful

I am not grateful enough for Jesus. 

I am thankful I am aware of this, and I am crying out to God to help me become more tender to all Jesus has done for me and asking Him to increase my gratitude. Writing this to you is a way for me to do that. I always learn more when I teach than any learners do, so this is my hope.

I know Jesus loves me and that He loves me more and better than anyone else can or would. But, the truth is that my wife loves me, there is no doubt. My kiddos love me; I know because they tell me. My mom loves me, but she has to.

So, honestly, in my head, it sometimes gets lost and a little muddy that Jesus loves me because I am a blessed man, and I know lots of love.

But, there are three things that Jesus is for me that no one else can be: perfect, willing, and able.

Jesus loved me so much that He died for me and you. Yet, there may be others who would choose that path if they were in that situation. But because of these three things, I should be eternally grateful for the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.

Perfect – Jesus was not a good man, a great teacher, or a mid-level deity. He is and was the eternal Son of God and Incarnate Man (meaning He was fully God and fully man, simultaneously). And, as He walked this earth as a man, He was perfect. “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pe 2:22). I know some good people, maybe even some great ones, but Jesus is the only perfect person ever to walk the earth. And, because of that, He is the only one able to be a sacrifice for you and I. Anything less than perfect, and the sacrifice was blemished, just like you and I. We cannot save ourselves, but Jesus’ perfect condition made Him a suitable sacrifice. 

I am grateful.

Willing – I know you may be thinking that there is someone who would be willing to die for you. You’re probably right. I hope so! But they would probably die for you because they like you, and you are at least somewhat likable to them. Yeah, I am sure you get on each other’s nerves, and maybe there has been a tense day between the two of you, but there is a connection that causes you to believe they would take a bullet for you. That was not the case with Jesus. “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Ro 5:7–8). Don’t miss what that verse says. While we were still sinners, rebellious, fighting Him and in blatant disagreement and disobedience… that’s when He was willing to die for us. Not once we bent a knee, admit our fault, or make a change. Before you ever had a good thought, and while you and I were still rotten, He died for us. 

I am grateful.

Able – This is the most distinct of the three characteristics listed here. It is not theologically possible, but if someone could live a perfect life, then good for them. It’s not plausible, but someone who I mistreat and fight against might choose to die for me. But, the one sure thing that separates them from Jesus is His ability. As the Son of God, He was not just perfect and willing, but He could defeat hell, death, and the grave for us. He literally died and rose again on the third day! “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). Some good and even great people may die for others, but only One had the power to lay His life down and take it back up again. Only One, only Jesus! 

I am grateful.

Thank you for taking a moment to read through these thoughts. As a believer in Jesus for nearly four decades, I need to ensure that I am not growing cold or callous to the reality of who He is and what He has done. He is perfect, willing, and able.

I am grateful. I hope you are, too. 

And, if you have never accepted the grace of God into your life through the perfect, willing, and able sacrifice of Jesus, please reach out and let me help you find your way to Him: 


Leveling Up Leadership

Pastors are leaders, not a groundbreaking statement, but what kind of leaders are they?

Very often, leadership is considered a binary issue. Either you are or you aren’t. You have the gift, or you don’t. You’re leading a crowd or taking a walk by yourself.

But what if leadership had levels?

That would help you know where to place people with the “gift “of leadership in your church. And it helps discern where you are as you face the challenges of leadership daily.

This concept surfaces in Exodus 18 when Moses gets schooled by his father-in-law (that’s never a fun experience). Jethro tells Moses that what he’s doing is not good because he’s bearing all the weight himself. He tells him he must find leaders but then gets strategic about it:

Exodus 18:21 (ESV): Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.

Moses was to look for a bunch of leaders, all with similar integrity and skills, yet some were capable of leading thousands, while others needed to be simply over a handful.

Apparently, there are levels of leadership.

In my 30 years serving the church, I have seen four levels of leaders, both volunteer and staff.

Here’s a look at that list of four leadership types garnered from my observation over the years:

  • Earn a check
  • Serve a cause
  • Lead a cause
  • Advance a cause

Starting at the lowest level, or the lowest level of commitment, are leaders who are there to “earn a check.” You might think that’s only a staff designation. But, some volunteers lead in your church simply because they’re hanging onto a family heritage, feel a sense of burdened obligation, or even think they are somehow earning their spot in the Kingdom (legalism in its truest form).

And, if you’re blessed enough to have secondary staff members, some are skilled and able, but the only reason they are serving is because they need a job.

When someone volunteers, serves or leads to receive something in return, like payment of some kind, we must ask the question: should they be allowed to be in that place of leadership?

The answer is yes, and no. For the staff member, there is a higher sense of accountability and a need for them to be more than a hireling. There need to be some serious conversations about commitment to the church and the vision, positive conversations that challenge them to embrace leadership at a different level.

It could be extending their leadership to a place where they feel ownership. But, in the end, if a paid staff member can’t find motivation beyond a paycheck, they need not receive that paycheck.

Being a volunteer is a different matter. Suppose you recognize the volunteer is serving for some payout. In that case, this is an opportunity for discipleship driving them to prayer, seeing the value of what they do from the Kingdom perspective and celebrating with them. They may need to move roles or be challenged with different tasks and levels. As a pastor, you should embrace the opportunity to turn them into something more than they are today through God’s Spirit and service as a co-laborer.

What you don’t want to do is let them continue to serve with that heart, especially in leadership, knowing that all they are doing is “plugging a hole.” That is abusing the volunteer who should be discipled better.

The second level of leadership is one who “serves a cause.” These are the leaders that understand the mission and want to contribute. Their service is on task and beneficial to the organization/church. But, their leadership is primarily custodial. They are seldom self-starters and paint by numbers. They will be a faithful leader as long as they are instructed and inspired well. These leaders are managers and not alpha dogs.

It can be challenging for the staff member at this level because leaders above them often project their own personality and drive on those who serve with them. When they don’t see the same characteristics in that staff member that they see in themselves, it can often cause conflict and disappointment.

This is true for the secondary staff member as well as they believe they are serving at full capacity and don’t know why “the boss” is not satisfied. If this is the scenario you’re in, one of two choices must be made:

1) You can adjust your expectations to be satisfied with what they have to offer.

2) Or, you can help them to be a better leader, finding joy in seeing them grow.

For the volunteer at this level, you must ensure they are in the right seat on the bus. A leader who serves the cause is an incredible asset if you need someone to fulfill a role who will passionately reproduce what you need to be done in a specific area. But, if you have them in a position that needs to run independently without instruction, you could set yourself up for heartache.

Staff members and volunteers can grow from this level with some direct contact: intentional conversations on leadership, clear expectations, public rewards, reading together and processing as a team. The “serves a cause” leader is an asset where they are but has the potential for even more.

The third level I refer to as “leads a cause.” These are leaders that not only understand but they own the vision and the mission. They can articulate to others and convey passion. They can take the current church architecture and continue producing results with excellence.

You are a blessed pastor when you have one of these leaders on your staff! They are truly running arm and arm with you, and you probably feel a deep kinship with them as you work. If there is any drawback, they sometimes get a little out over their skis and occasionally swerve into your path as a leader.

But, it would help if you always appreciated those moments as a pastor, knowing that you’ve been given the gift of a strong leader, who you can help shape into a mature leader in the days in years ahead.

And if you have a volunteer that you can describe in these terms, they are often labeled a “high-capacity volunteer.” And that is a gift you should not miss giving thanks for in your prayers. Usually, the biggest drawback to high-capacity volunteers is that the world has recognized that skill in them, and they are often divided between your church, Boy Scouts, coaching, and 1000 other “good things.”

If the Lord leads, you might need to have that conversation with them, saying that they can continue serving all those good things, or if they are willing to clear their schedules, you would like to open the door up for them to bigger and better God things.

A good path for either staff or volunteer that can “lead a cause” is active apprenticing. Simply inviting them to a three-phase process to help them grow and to release them into more ministry is this:

  • Come with me and watch what I do.
  • Come with me and do what I do.
  • I go with you and watch you do it.

This tried-and-true method will help develop even the best leaders into better, higher-capacity, Kingdom-shaking leaders.

The final category of leader will “advance a cause.” Not only does this leader understand and personify the church’s mission and vision where they are leading well in the current structure, they are busting at the seams to take everyone and everything to the next level.

These are the leaders you don’t have to inspire. In fact, you need to hold their reins sometimes. And let’s be honest, if you have a staff member or a volunteer in this category, just hit your knees and say thank you, Lord! But, there is a potential drawback.

Have you ever wondered where new pastors come from or where new ministries begin?

Well, they come out of the local church—churches just like yours.

I know the thought of losing the best and the brightest out of your congregation is not what you want, but if God raised them through you to go and do something else, He has a replacement for them right there in your midst!

When you recognize this kind of leader in your congregation, you have two responsibilities:

1) Open up new doors of ministry for them to stretch, grow, challenge, and take your church further down the road. Never be jealous of them in ministry; never worry that they will outgrow you. Actually, it would be best if you were hoping they would.

2) Let them go. When you recognize God is calling them out, you should lift them up before you send them away. If they obey God, it can do nothing but bless you!

I hope recognizing these different levels of leaders and how you might challenge and help them benefits you. Even more so, I hope you as a pastor are thriving as a “lead a cause” kind of leader because the pastor of every church needs to be ‘that’ guy.

But if the weight of leadership, the stress of bivocational life or a history of difficult work in the church has dropped you down a notch in your leadership practices, then take some time to draw yourself toward Him and practice some of these leadership pieces yourself.

Ask a more mature pastor to apprentice you. Start a reading group with leaders who will inspire you forward. Or, clear your schedule to make sure you have time for the God things and not just a bunch of good things.

Pastor, we are proud of you, thankful for you and want you to know what you’re doing is important and that you are not alone.

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.
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