Thursday, February 28, 2008

John MacArthur on Preaching God's Word

Why Preach the Word?
(By John MacArthur)

For many reasons, faithful and full proclamation of the Word is the only right way to preach. First of all, such preaching lets God speak rather than man, because it declares God’s own Word. And it is an incredibly thrilling privilege to give voice to God!

Second, preaching the Word is the only right way to preach because it brings the preacher into direct contact with the mind of the Holy Spirit, the author of Scripture. It is for that reason that the preacher of the Word finds the process of study and discovery to be even more rewarding than the preaching that results from it, gratifying as that can be.

It is tragic and puzzling that so many preachers who recognize Scripture to be God’s own Word spend more time investigating and interacting with the limited and imperfect minds of other men than delving into the infinite and holy mind of God. Part of the reason, of course, is that many hearers do not really want to delve into the depths of God’s righteousness and truth, because it exposes their own shallowness and sin. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul warned his son in the faith about the danger of those who hold “to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). Later in that same epistle he would warn again that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;. . . and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4; cf. Acts 20:29–30).

Third, preaching the Word is the only right way to preach because it forces the preacher to proclaim all of God’s revelation, including those truths that even many believers find hard to learn or accept.

Fourth, preaching the Word is the only right way to preach because it promotes biblical literacy in a congregation, not only through what is learned from the sermon itself but also through the increased desire to study Scripture more carefully and consistently on their own. The faithful pastor, and all other faithful believers, love to learn God’s Word because they love the God of the Word.

Fifth, preaching the Word is the only right way to preach because it carries ultimate authority. It is the complete and perfect self-revelation of God Himself and of His divine will for mankind, which He has created in His own image.

Sixth, preaching the Word is the only right way to preach because only that kind of preaching can transform both the preacher and the congregation.

Seventh, the final and most compelling reason that preaching the Word is the only right way to preach is simply that it is His own Word, and only His own Word, that the Lord calls and commissions His preachers to proclaim.

Today’s post adapted from John’s commentary on 2 Timothy (Moody Press).



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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A lot on my mind of late...

My mind has been swimming with thoughts the last few weeks. A lot of good stuff going on in my gray matter.

My first week preaching at First Congregational Church of Waseca will be Easter Sunday. Nothing like getting put into the game at crunch time! I'm really looking forward to it. What honestly could be more exciting? Not much that I can think of at this point. I have no idea how many visitors we'll have that week, so it'll be interesting to see if any keep coming back (or if they are all just friends and family visiting people for Easter). My plan is to bring it. Really bring it. I don't want to hold back. And that excites me. And scares me. In a good way.

I'm going to do a gospel presentation. I think it will be edifying as well as interesting. Two presentations that have really hit home with me in the last few years were Mark Driscoll's at Mars Hill Church last year and Bill Hybels' at the close of the 2006 Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Hybels presentation was influential on our Easter services at Crossroads Church in 2007.

I have been thinking about web sites and domain names for the church. I've gone ahead and parked myself on a domain name, though it may or may not long term be the domain for the church. It was available, so I grabbed it - wasecachurch.org -and I plan on putting together a simple web site via a blog to just get some static info up before Easter. Just in case someone is searching for a church that weekend. I have a friend who has volunteered to help us with an "official" web page once we get to that point. He's really talented with this kind of stuff, so when that day comes I'm going to take whatever he'll give!

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

John Piper: A Bunch of Crap called "gospel"

(HT: Purgatorio)



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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Advice for Preachers

The Resurgence has a great 5 1/2 minute video of Matt Chandler giving preaching advice to pastors. If you preach, it's worth a few of your minutes to check it out. (click here to download video)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Distancing Ourselves From Death


As I made mention the other day, I have accepted a Senior Pastor position, and will be starting within the next month. This of course means great transitions in life, but it also means many new opportunities and experiences on the professional side.

One thing that has been on my mind is funerals. Strange, huh? I have been thinking about how being a senior pastor will require of me at some point to perform funerals, as well as care and counseling for those who are grieving. This has been spurring a set of thoughts that was randomly clarified by an episode of "Little House on the Prairie". I was flipping through stations while cleaning my office this afternoon, and caught a short segment. I can't say I've ever watched a whole episode, but this moment in the show was good. A man had come from "back East" to tell his daughter her mother had died. A month ago. He didn't feel that sending a letter was the proper thing. I turned the TV off to contemplate this further.

Our culture has become greatly distanced from death. We do everything we can to avoid it, both personally as well as corporately. We try all sorts of things to add years to our lives. If I told you that the bark from a young oak sapling was a great source of anti-oxidants (which help reduce the rate of cancer, helping you live longer), someone would try to make it commercially available. This plays out in many ways. Plastic surgery would be another great example.

When someone dies, we hire someone to take the body and prepare it for burial. We pay someone else to clean up any mess from the death. We've created an elaborate (and expensive) system all around our avoidance of death.

Back in the 1870's (Little House time), and in other regions in our world, death was a different experience. It was far more "real" to those people I think. The cow you are eating for dinner was the same one standing in your field a day ago. Medicine was rudimentary at best, and things we take for granted today killed thousands in localized outbreaks.

We have become experts at suppressing, delaying and avoiding grief.

So you might be saying to yourself at this point, alright, get to the conclusion already. I'm not sure I have a conclusion at this stage. Some of this is our microwave culture - instant gratification. But I think there is more there to be unearthed. We as a culture are changing the way we grieve, but I wonder if that is for the good. We still have the same needs to address, the tug of the grave never changes. As for me, I'll continue thinking about this, but I suspect the reality won't fully set in until I am elbows deep in ministering to someone in their time of need. I pray for the wisdom and ability to grieve with them.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Acts29 Boot Camp - Scott Thomas' notes from Chicago

Scott Thomas shared some thoughts given by Mark Driscoll at the Chicago Acts29 Boot Camp. Ones that caught my attention:

Driscoll said he prefers to preach rather than teach about preaching. He cleverly said it is the difference between going on a date and teaching someone about dating. "Going on a date with your wife always ends a lot better than a lecture about dating your wife. Likewise, it is much more fun to preach than it is to talk about preaching."

Preaching is like driving a stick shift. It takes time to learn the rhythm. For the time being, there may be a lot of gear grinding. Take your time. Get your own voice. Listen to a lot of sermons. Practice preaching to anyone who will listen--or at least won't yell back.

The secret to church fruitfulness is opening the Bible, exalting Jesus through someone who believes in the authority of Scripture. Driscoll said, "Don't buy into the myth that preaching is out. Preaching is only out for those who suck at it."

2 Timothy 4:2 is every preacher's life verse and it says to "preach the word." In doing so, we need to preach with a tight fist on the Scriptural principles and a loose fist around the missiological applications. Our preaching is to be both timeless with the truth of God's word and with methods that are timely.

Six Framing Questions for Preaching the Word

1. What does Scripture say? - The Biblical Question
2. What does the Scripture Mean? - The Theological Question
3. What is my Hook? - The Memorable Question
4. Why do people resist this truth? - The Apologetic Question
5. Why does this matter? - The Missional Question
6. How is Jesus the Hero/Savior? - The Christological Question

To hear the whole sermon and download the notes, visit the Acts 29 website.



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Sunday, February 17, 2008

2008 Willow Creek Leadership Summit

THE LEADERSHIP SUMMIT 2008 FEATURES NEW TWO-DAY FORMAT!

Greetings in 2008 from your partners at the Willow Creek Association. I pray that the ministry season during Christmas and now in the New Year has been enriching for you, your staff, and your congregation. Here at the WCA, we’ve been blown away by what God accomplished around the world this past year. When The Global Leadership Summit 2007 (GLS) concluded in early December, the Summit had been hosted in 224 cities in 32 countries reaching nearly 108,000 leaders worldwide. Only God!

I’m writing today for two reasons. As an alumnus of The Leadership Summit, I want to thank you for your commitment to leadership development. And, because of your dedication, we wanted you to be among the first to know some important news—we’re shifting The Leadership Summit 2008 to a two-day event on Thursday-Friday, August 7-8!

Over the past few years we’ve heard many leaders say they’d be better served by a shorter event. Time commitment, the fatigue factor, and full weekend schedules were three primary reasons for the preference. We’ve been listening and taking the input very seriously. After careful evaluation and conversation with our most engaged partners and participants—plus, tons of prayer— we’re finally making the shift.

The entire Summit team is excited about the potential of this change and committed to making future Summits increasingly powerful and valuable for Christian leaders. Our faculty includes highly-respected senior pastors as well as innovative minds serving society such as:

  • Bill Hybels, senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church
  • Brad Anderson, vice-chairman and CEO, Best Buy, Inc.
  • Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder, Teach for America
  • Catherine Rohr, CEO and founder, Prison Entrepreneurship Program
  • Efrem Smith, senior pastor, The Sanctuary Covenant Church
  • John Burke, lead pastor, Gateway Community Church
  • Craig Groeschel, senior pastor, Lifechurch.tv
  • Chuck Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship Ministries
  • Gary Haugen, president and founder, International Justice Mission
  • Bill George, Harvard professor and former CEO, Medtronics

Be sure to visit willowcreek.com/summit for full bios on these leaders and up-to-date additions to the speaker line-up.

We’re working to ensure that The Leadership Summit 2008 is even more focused on practical leadership training with concrete, next-step takeaways. Please do not hesitate to contact our team at 800-570-9812 if there is anything we can do to add value to your team’s Summit experience. Thanks again for your continued partnership as we work together to strengthen the ministry of the local church around the world.

Partnering to Lead,

Signature

Steve Bell,
Executive Vice President
Conferences & Events, Membership

P.S. We hope you’ll agree that the shift of the Summit to a two-day event, August 7-8, is good news. Now’s the best time to register your team with Super Early Bird rates good until May 20!



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Friday, February 15, 2008

Introducing the new pastor!


It's official. I accepted a call from First Congregational Church, Waseca, MN to be their Senior Pastor! We are very excited about this opportunity. Truth be told, I drug out the process longer than I probably had to, to make absolutely sure we were sure on this.

So a lot of changes in our lives will be coming! We've already looked at some houses, but likely none that were in our price range. We saw some absolutely beautiful houses in Waseca though. While I wouldn't say housing is cheap there, the prices are far more reasonable than they are in the Twin Cities.

So in the days/weeks to come, I'll be posting more about this exciting change in our lives. My start date is March 15th.

Just a bit of background on First Congregational Church (FCC) and Congregationalism:
FCC was founded in 1868.
First building burned down in 1951.
The pilgrims on The Mayflower were Congregationalists.
Jonathan Edwards was a Congregationalist.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Chain Churches - Churches going multi-site in Minneapolis and St. Paul Metro

Below is an article from the Star Tribune this past weekend on some local multi-site churches. The first church being talked about is the former Spring Lake Park Baptist Church where I was on staff for my first 3 years of Seminary. Multi-site and mega-church aren't for everyone, but these are some area churches that do both well. Eagle Brook Church is now the largest church, and fastest growing church in the state of Minnesota, with something in the area of 4000 more people attending than just 3 years ago when they opened their Lino Lakes campus. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of these three churches to friends and family, and I have pretty high standards.


Twin Cities-area churches are part of a national trend in which individual places of worship are spinning off satellite locations to meet the varied needs of their ever-growing flocks.

Last year, Brint Patrick and his family had to make a 45-minute round-trip from their home in New Brighton to Saturday evening services at Eagle Brook Church in Lino Lakes. Now, they go just 6 miles each way, and have gained some free time each weekend.

They didn't move, and they didn't change churches. They merely attend the church's new satellite site in Spring Lake Park. "Now my church community is part of my regular community," Patrick said. "I love it."

In the latest example of the mountain coming to Mohammed, Twin Cities churches are spinning off satellite campuses: second, third, fourth and, yes, sometimes even fifth worship sites where their far-flung members can attend services.

In the Twin Cities, 22 churches representing 13 denominations have more than one site. It's part of a nationwide phenomenon, with an estimated 15,000-plus multi-site churches in the country, said the Rev. John Mayer, executive director of City Vision, a Minneapolis organization that tracks religious demographics.

"It's a trend that is changing religion markedly," said the Rev. Brent Knox, whose Evergreen Community Church has five locations in Minneapolis and its suburbs. "Instead of thinking only in terms of bigger and bigger churches, people are starting to look at other options."

North Heights Lutheran Church in Roseville spun off a second location in 1986, the first such operation in the state. Since then, the idea has taken off locally and nationally. The Rev. Geoff Strait of Seacoast Church, which has sites in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia, was one of three ministers who wrote a book titled "The Multi-Site Church Revolution" in 2006. They could hardly keep up.

"When we started work on the book, there were a handful," he said. "The next thing we knew, there were hundreds. Now there are thousands."

There is no single overriding reason why churches decide to go multi-site. Some do it to expand their membership base across a wider geographic area. Some do it instead of remodeling their buildings. Some do it because the centralized structure is a more economical way to start a church than planting one. And some do it because it enables them to narrowly focus services.

Nor is there a typical approach to the way they work. For instance, each of the Evergreen Church sites has an individualized approach that targets a specific demographic group, while all of the worshipers at the three Bethlehem Baptist Churches hear the same sermon -- delivered in person in one place and via video screens at the other two.

When North Heights Lutheran launched its second site in Arden Hills, members never dreamed that 20 years later Strait's book would single them out as trailblazers. Truth be told, they were just looking for a way to solve a parking problem at their Roseville facility.

"We'd run out of parking," recalled the Rev. Bob Cottingham. "We were busing people from a supermarket north of the campus. But we owned a K-through-8 school there, and we didn't want to sell that. So we started a second campus."

Having more than one site enables the church to offer different types of services simultaneously instead of having them stack up in a holding pattern. For instance, the Roseville church holds a contemporary service at the same time Arden Hills hosts a more traditional one.

"The members are free to go wherever they want, and they love that," Cottingham said. "I rotate [from week to week] so that I can preach at all the services."

Satellites vs. a teardown

A different type of space squeeze was behind Bethlehem Baptist Church's multi-campus expansion. Tucked into a corner of downtown Minneapolis bordered by the Metrodome, Hennepin County Medical Center and the Interstate 94-35W interchange, once the pews filled up there wasn't any way to get more room without razing the structure and building a new one with lots and lots of balconies.

"When we maxed out our facilities, we talked about a larger sanctuary downtown," said Jon Grano, Bethlehem's pastor of operations. "But that didn't seem like a good use of resources when the new building was only 10 years old."

Instead, they opted for two satellite churches, one in Mounds View and a newer one in Burnsville.

The newest satellite church in Minnesota is the third campus of Eagle Brook Church, the largest and fastest-growing congregation in the Twin Cities. With a home church in Lino Lakes, the campuses in White Bear Lake and Spring Lake Park enable all the members to plug into the same religious spirit.

"It's like shared DNA," Mayer said of this type of spinoff. "It's having a common vision. The members see it as one big church. And, as opposed to planting a church, you don't lose your leadership" by having staff members leave for the new congregations.

The Rev. Scott Anderson, executive pastor at Eagle Brook, agreed that having a centralized operation helps boost the quality of the workforce. "By being able to pool our talent across the sites, we're able to maintain a consistently high quality of talent in speakers, musicians and teachers," he said.

Serving different cultures

At the Evergreen churches, Knox likes that each facility has its own identity, but remains part of the bigger organization.

"We have the economy of scale of having one central office," he said. "Instead of five copying machines, we only need one. And there's a synergy" from being part of a group.

"But I like the intimacy that comes from smaller churches. Each of our churches has a different culture, if you will. The geographic areas are different, and the demographics are different. For instance, the church in the Uptown area targets young singles. That's certainly different from our original church [in Bloomington] that has a suburban feel."

The folks who monitor trends say that not only is the multi-site phenomenon here to say, it's just getting started.

"We're going see a lot of churches doing this in the next 10 to 15 years," Mayer predicted. And Strait agreed: "Once churches start interacting with other churches, these things tend to spread."

Jeff Strickler • 612-673-7392




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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Albert Mohler: Top 10 Books Every Preacher Should Read in 2008

I'm stealing this from Justin Taylor.

Each year in Preaching Magazine Al Mohler lists his "top 10 books every preacher should read." Here's the new list for 2008:

1. Preach the Word: Essays on Expository Preaching: In Honor of R. Kent Hughes, edited by Leland Ryken and Todd Wilson

2. Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical
Interpretation
, by Graeme Goldsworthy (IVP Academic)

3. Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, by John MacArthur (Thomas Nelson)

4. A City Upon a Hill: How Sermons Changed the Course of American History, by Larry Witham (HarperOne)

5. Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution, by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach (Crossway)

6. Renewing Minds: Serving Church and Society Through Christian Higher Education,
by David S. Dockery (B&H Academic)

7. After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of
American Religion
, by Robert Wuthnow (Princeton)

8. God’s Ambassadors: A History of the Christian Clergy in America, by E. Brooks Holifield (Eerdmans)

9. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by D. A. Carson and
G. K. Beale (Baker Academic)

10. Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters, edited by Donald K. McKim (IVP Academic)


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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Cultural Architect - Erwin McManus

Erwin McManus shares his thoughts at Christian Post on why churches are declining in America:

A cutting-edge church leader known for his innovative ideas on reaching a post-modern generation for Christ contends the reason why churches are declining in America is because they are self-centered.

“My primary assessment would be because American Christians tend to be incredibly self-indulgent so they see the church as a place there for them to meet their needs and to express faith in a way that is meaningful for them,” said cultural architect Erwin McManus, lead pastor at Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, to The Christian Post Monday.

“There is almost no genuine compassion or urgency about serving and reaching people who don’t know Christ,” he added.

McManus, whose church members’ average age is 25 years old, is known for breaking the “rules” of traditional church and applying spiritual creativity to engage and develop the next generation of Christian leaders.

Speaking about church decline in general, McManus concluded: “I think the bottom line really is our own spiritual narcissism. There are methods and you can talk about style, structure and music, but in the end it really comes down to your heart and what you care about,” he said.

He often explains that while the Bible does not change, the methods to effectively communicate the Word of God can.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Super Bowl 2008

I'll go on record to say I'm cheering for the New York Giants. I think the final score will be 34-17 with New England winning. Hopefully I'm wrong. Michael Strahan is one of my all time favorite football players, and I'm not a fan of Spygate.

Here's to some good commercials!

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Willow Creek Faces to Watch in 2008

Below is an article from the Willow Creek Association's magazine Willow. I currently read Mark Batterson's blog evotional and have read one of his books in the last year. I also read Dave Ferguson's blog, and his book Big Idea is one of the next ones I will be reading. I have been reading Perry Noble's blog for over a year, and have had some really good phone conversations with his small groups staff in the last year. Efrem Smith is a local pastor who I've had the occasion to see preach a handful of times. His church is an interesting mix without question. I've heard him say some things that made me question his theology a bit, wondering how tight he was with Greg Boyd on Open Theism among other issues. I wouldn't cast him into that group without knowing more though. I first became familiar with Tullian Tchividjian when he filled in for Justin Taylor on Between Two Worlds blog. Tullian did a great job replacing one of the leading Christian bloggers. I haven't followed Tullian that closely, though I do get some of his writing from time to time when Justin Taylor links him. I have heard of Nelson Searcy through his Saddleback Community Church connection, but that is about all I know on him. I was surprised I had this level of familiarity with 4 of the 5 the WCA chose to highlight.

WILLOW Magazine, Volume 15, Issue 1

Faces to Watch in 2008

You see their names on conference rosters. Your friend asks if you’ve read one of their books. You know the name but can’t quite place the face.

Mark Batterson

As lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., Batterson leads a multi-site church with eight services in four locations. Recognized as one of the 25 Most Innovative Churches in America by Outreach Magazine in 2007, NCC’s vision to meet in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area is becoming reality. The church was founded by Batterson and his wife, Lora, in 1996 and a majority of the church’s congregation is made up of twenty-somethings (73 percent) who come from unchurched or de-churched backgrounds (70 percent).

In the spring of 2006, the church completed construction of Ebenezers, the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill, which the church owns and operates. In 2007, Ebenezers was recognized as the #2 coffeehouse in the metro DC area by AOL CityGuide and also serves as one of the church’s sites for Saturday night services.

When the iPod first came out and revolutionized the way people listen to music, Batterson saw its potential for a new kind of ministry. He was one of the first pastors to put his sermons in a podcast, which he liked to call the “Godcast,” allowing church members and anyone else who might be interested, access to audio or video podcasts of church messages. News media throughout the country featured the idea, which is now commonplace.

Not only does Batterson connect with people via podcasts, but he also writes a heavily read blog, www.evotional.com, where he muses about a variety of topics. He is the author of the book, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day (2006) and his next book, Wild Goose Chase is set to release in August 2008.

Batterson and his wife, Lora, have lived on Capitol Hill since 1996 and have three children: Parker, Summer, and Josiah.


Nelson Searcy

In 2001, Searcy and his wife, Kelley, moved from Southern California to New York City with a mission to do what many have done … and failed at: Launch a church in the heart of Manhattan. Serving as lead pastor/teaching pastor of The Journey Church of the City, an innovative, multicultural church since their first services in the spring of 2002, Searcy’s leadership and vision has been especially well-received considering he’s an “outsider” and not a native New Yorker.

Offering services in two Manhattan locations, The Journey has grown from a handful of attendees to more than 1,100 people in four Sunday worship services and more than 1,200 people are active in small groups. In the summer of 2006, the church launched The Journey Jersey City with weekend services at the AMC Theater at the Newport Mall in Jersey City, N.J.

Searcy is a speaker, coach, and church growth expert who shares his knowledge and passion for the church with other church leaders around the country.In many circles, he’s known as one of the best strategic minds out there today. Through his non-profit organization Church Leader Insights(www.churchleaderinsights.com), Searcy has personally trained more than 20,000 pastors, church planters, and church leaders in live events and seminars. He is also the author of 20 articles and 30 training resources on leadership, evangelism, church planting, and church growth and his first two books, Launch: Starting a Church From Scratch (2007) and Fusion: Turning First Time Guests Into Fully Engaged Members of Your Church (2008) offer practical approaches to ministry.

Prior to moving to Manhattan, Searcy served alongside Rick Warren as director of the Purpose Driven Community at Saddleback Church.

The Searcys live on the Upper West Side with their son, Alexander.


Perry Noble

In 1998, Noble started a Bible study for college students in his home. In less than two months, the study grew from eight people to 150, and by 1999, a core group of 15 people cast the vision for NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC. They chose to adhere to a biblically-based Christian doctrine, but to be different than the other churches in the community. The group focused on three main areas: creativity, where the church is the most creative place of worship on the planet; excellence in everything with 110 percent effort, quality, and effectiveness; and relevance in teaching people how God and the Bible are important for life today.

The 2007 Church Report recently announced that NewSpring is #21 on the list of the Top 50 Most Influential Churches in the U.S. The church is also one of the 100 fastest growing churches in the country with more than 7,500 people in attendance each week. In January 2006, NewSpring finished construction on its state-of-the-art facility with an auditorium that seats 2,500. More space has meant more people finding God as more than 900 people accepted Christ and 800 people were baptized in 2006.

Noble’s unique teaching style keeps the congregation wondering what will happen during message time. Whether using full blown pyrotechnics or preaching the first part of his sermon from inside a casket, Noble’s teaching is unpredictable, captivating, and biblically centered — and more and more people around Anderson are connecting with him each week. He also writes a blog (www.perrynoble.com) that features his thoughts on vision, leadership, creativity, and “anything else that strikes me worthy to write about.”

Noble and his wife, Lucretia, live with their daughter, Charisse, in Anderson.


Dave Ferguson

Dave Ferguson met with four college friends in a small group which birthed the vision for Community Christian Church, in Naperville, Ill., in 1989 with a mission to help people find their way back to God. Over the years, the church has grown from five to more than 5,000 people with services held at eight locations throughout the western suburbs of Chicago. The 2007 Church Report listed Community Christian Church as #19 on the list of the Top 50 Most Influential Churches in the U.S.

As the multi-site revolution exploded, Ferguson was on the cutting edge with innovative ideas and visionary leadership. He’s able to use his multi-site experience to help other churches and leaders seeking to expand through multiple church sites through the NewThing Network, a catalyst for a movement of reproducing churches.

Not only was Community Christian Church at the forefront of the multi-site ministry strategy, but its teaching strategy is being shared and embraced by other church leaders. Ferguson co-authored the book, The Big Idea: Focus the Message, Multiply the Impact, (see page 29), to help other churches learn how they can implement this new approach to teaching. Ferguson’s blog is found at www.daveferguson.org.

Ferguson and his wife, Sue, have three children.


Tullian Tchividjian

When Tullian’s mom, Gigi Tchividjian, eldest daughter of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, was pregnant with him, she was taking a church history class. She learned about Tertullian, the early church father who held an unwavering commitment to defending God’s truth. She decided to name her child Tertullian and prayed, “If it’s a boy, please make him an ardent defender of Your truth like Tertullian was.” It took many years for Gigi’s prayer to be answered.

Losing the “Ter,” Tullian struggled to come to faith personally and dropped out of high school, spending several long years finding his way. As Billy Graham’s grandson, he rebelled against everything his family stood for, but God didn’t give up on him. In 1993, Tchividjian reconnected with God and he’s never looked back.

Now serving as the founding senior pastor of New City Church in Coconut Creek, Fla., since 2003, Tchividjian is also a popular conference speaker, radio preacher, and author. His new book, Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life’s Most Important Relationship (2007), chronicles the intensity of his own spiritual journey and points the way to God for a new generation of seekers. His grandfather sees the potential in this thought-provoking book and said in the foreword, “Apart from the Bible, this may be the most important book you could ever read …”

Prior to moving back home to Florida, Tchividjian served on the pastoral staff of three churches. He is currently a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. He lives in Coconut Creek, Fla. with his wife, Kim, and their three children.


Efrem Smith

Efrem Smith and his wife, Donecia, gathered a few dozen people together for a Super Bowl party in 2003 where they not only watched the game, but also shared their vision for an urban, multi-ethnic, Christ-centered community in the heart of North Minneapolis. Soon after, The Sanctuary Covenant Church was launched with a mission to reconcile the people of the city to God and one another. Every third Sunday, the church offers Hip Hop Sunday featuring breakdancing, popping, media, and hip hop music as a way to connect with those in the community who might otherwise never step foot in a church.

As senior pastor, Smith not only provides leadership and teaching to the staff and church body, but he also serves as board chair of The Sanctuary Community Development Corporation (The Sanctuary CDC), a non-profit organization founded by members of the church dedicated to community transformation that extends far beyond the church walls. The Sanctuary CDC’s mission is to build on the strengths in the North Minneapolis community to ensure that people are educated, employed, and physically and spiritually healthy. The wide variety of programs offered are open to all community members, regardless of their religious beliefs or affiliation.

If that’s not enough to keep Smith busy, he also hosts a weekly radio program, “A Time for Reconciliation,” where he addresses issues that keep reconciliation from happening between people, races, and the church. He is the author of Raising Up Young Heroes and co-author of The Hip Hop Church. His bi-monthly column, The Urban Take, is featured in Youthworker Journal. Smith is a national conference speaker and regularly speaks at colleges, high schools, junior highs, churches, and leadership training events.

Smith and his wife, Donecia, have two daughters, Jaeda and Mireya.



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