Rearing Children to Stay in the Church

large_praying_handsA Pastor friend of mine from North Carolina shared with me that one out of every four children who grow up in the Church abandon their faith once they get out on their own. (Usually off to college) Startling, but true facts.

How do we prevent our children from being on the bad side of this statistic? Many friends, including fellow Pastors  have asked me what Susanne and I did to rear 3 boys who are all active and solidly planted in a local church, and who continue to walk faithfully even after becoming adults. Rearing children, especially boys seems to be a very hard task in the age we live in. Here are my answers to those who have requested my help with this over the years.

1. The New Birth – Be careful to make the new birth in Jesus a constant and clear message. Refuse to allow church membership or attendance to become a substitute for spiritual life. Gathering with other believers with commitment is important, but nothing meets the importance of true Spiritual life through faith in Christ! Attending church without the new birth is only a religious exercise. Attending with a genuine faith makes it alive and refreshing.

2. The Totality of Life – Make sure that the Christian faith is expressed in the context of the full expression of life, and do not let it become lost in a ‘religious’ framework of ‘church.’ A robust faith in every facet of life is a healthy and biblical faith.

3. Demonstrating Repentance and Openness – As parents, be quick to live out the humble and real practice of repentance and openess before your children. Repent to them whenever you fail before them. Nothing makes Christianity more real to our children as our brokenness and repentance. Using godly wisdom, discuss your own journey of maturing in faith, and be open about your struggles of seeking God’s will. Continue reading “Rearing Children to Stay in the Church”

My Son is a Hero!

JoshLeadingWorshipSometimes we learn things from the actions of our children that it makes our heart swell with joy, thanksgiving and humility. That happened to me this past week.

My oldest son, Josh, is a youth and young adults pastor in Kannapolis, North Carolina. I was visiting with him and preparing to travel with him and some of his youth group to a week long church camp. We had not seen each other since Christmas, and as we were catching up on things, he related a story to me which tore my heart out as well as made me burst with pride–the good kind.

He had been praying for months about how to reach kids from a lower income project housing close to his church. It started when he, along with a couple of his other youths, went and bought some popsicles and sat down in the middle of the projects and asked, “Does anyone want a popsicle?” Kids flocked to them and the friendships began.

After several months of building relationships with these young street-wise kids, they began wanting to hang around Josh. They loved being around him because they felt he Continue reading “My Son is a Hero!”

Overloaded With Wood

Bond fireThe unique thing about building a fire is that you start with a little wood and fire–then you add more wood. Sometimes I think our view of church planting is so complicated that we’ve stacked wood for a huge bond fire, but we have forgotten to bring the fire.

We have an overload of conferences, an overload of ideas, an overload of books, an overload of theories, an overload of symposiums, and an overload of interest. Our wood is stacked as high as the old Aggie bond fire rallies at Texas A&M, and yet we are not burning…we are not on fire!

We are overloaded with wood.

We’ve attempted to cross every “t” and dot every “i” in order to be prepared. But honestly, how do you prepare sufficiently for the move and falling of God’s fire when He breaks out. We map out all the “how to’s” and the “what ifs,” and then we say, “Here is our wood, Lord, light it!” All of this while the Lord is saying, “Let me bring fire to your life in prayer, and then I’ll also provide the wood.”  Continue reading “Overloaded With Wood”

Lord, Increase Our Faith

FaithLike every true believer, the disciples desired to walk in a deeper dimension of faith with Christ. They asked Him to explain how they could increase their faith. (Luke 17:5-10) What a wonderful request! However, when we examine the answer Jesus gave to them, we are surprised at His response. It is a great distance from what is usually taught today in Christian circles. How did Jesus answer this question? How does it apply for us if we want to increase our faith? Let’s look at this briefly.

* First Point – Jesus discusses how a ‘grain of faith the size of a mustard seed’ contains all the power necessary to perform His will. (v. 6)

Application – The faith given to every believer at the new birth in Christ is sufficient to accomplish God’s will if we use it! While we think in terms of enormity…the Lord thinks in terms of simplicity and potentiality. If we look to what we already have in Jesus, we will discover the power to do all He commands. (Eph. 3:20)

* Second Point – Jesus discusses the relationship between servant and master. (v. 7-8) Servant is an unfortunate translation. The Greek word for servant (doulos) is ‘slave.’ A Continue reading “Lord, Increase Our Faith”

Changing Hurdle Jumpers

hurdleWe have been rapidly moving toward a post-Christian culture. That can be daunting to those, like myself, who are old enough to remember the Christian dominating culture and have lived through the transition. However, if we embrace one important dynamic, it does not have to be the hurdle we think it is.

In order for many of our neighbors in our culture to ‘come to church,’ they must jump many hurdles to get to our services. Some of those hurdles are:

  • Meeting times – do we worship a day or a person?
  • Dress codes – do ties and dress slacks make us more spiritual?
  • Meeting protocol – why 3 songs, an offering, a sermon and a prayer?
  • Bible linguistics – why heavy theological language which most don’t understand?
  • etc.

The average ‘posty’ (my term for a post-Christian person) must jump over these and many other hurdles in order to ‘fit into’ our puritanical and centralized pattern of church. Continue reading “Changing Hurdle Jumpers”

Why It’s Good to be the Minority Sometimes

Rick's GranddaughterI love to share what other leaders in the body of Christ are saying. As many voices as possible need to be heard from men who understand culture and who are using their gifts and talents to reach others with the gospel. Here is a great article by Rick Whitter. He does a good job of relating the experience of his granddaughter to our call to be strangers and pilgrims. Let us all be sensitive and wise as ambassadors for Christ. Well worth the read. Here is the link:

Why It’s Good to be the Minority Sometimes | Thoughts on Life and Leading.

New Book – Praying in the Spirit

Praying_in_the_Spiri_Cover_for_KindleMy latest book, “Praying in the Spirit” has just been published. It is a culmination of several years of work. I have had the privilege of praying with many believers from various backgrounds, and those who walked in spiritual authority and power all had one thing in common…praying in the Spirit. However, this subject is seldom, if ever, discussed in our discipleship and leadership training. And yet, prayer is to be the strength, power, momentum and basis for all our work and ministry. In this book, we will put the subject back on the table for discussion by looking through the Scriptures and hearing God’s call to pray in His strength and under His leadership. We must return to the leadership of the Holy Spirit if we are expecting to see our prayers avail with God’s promises and strength.

In this book, we look at the ministry of the Holy Spirit in and through prayer. We will rescue this topic from the many misunderstandings about what it is, and will encourage all believers to learn to pray in power of the Spirit like the early church did. Praying in the Spirit is not about flexing our spiritual muscles but about letting the Holy Spirit flex His! We cover three main subjects:

    • What is it?
    • Who can do it?
    • How do we do it?

These three questions require us to walk through many areas of discussion. Some of them are: What is meditation? What is the difference between false and true meditation? What are the different kinds of prayer? What are the different seasons of prayer? What about praying with tongues? What about faith in prayer? What does it mean to pray “according to God’s will?” What is the deepest form of prayer? etc…

It is available in paperback from the Publisher. You can click 2T2 Publishing and purchase a copy of the paperback, and the book is also available for e-book readers in Kindle and Nook. It is also available in paperback from Amazon.

Emasculating Christian Men

ScarecrowOur culture hates absolute truth! It also hates and rejects men who are bold enough to proclaim it. That is why pastors should never seek to be popular or acceptable among the leaders of society. Jesus warned us to be concerned if “all men speak well of thee.” It is the sign of a false prophet. (Luke 6:26)

We are witnessing the constant disintegration of our society and it should not surprise us. However, we are also seeing the emasculating of Christian men in the church…even in the pulpit. This is alarming. God is looking for men who will not bow down to political correctness or social pluralism, and who are willing to proclaim the exclusive claims of Christ boldly, and call for all to repent and surrender to Jesus!

A gospel of love and encouragement is NOT the gospel of Christ if it excludes God’s judgment of sin and the call for repentance. The message becomes nothing more than pop-psychology with god words, and will only complement the further decay and Continue reading “Emasculating Christian Men”

Go and Tell…

recording4A young man sits in an outreach meeting in a rural village in India. His name is Babu.* He listens as the Gospel is proclaimed in his village with clarity during a street meeting. Conviction comes upon his heart and he responds to the call to repent of his sins and surrender to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. When he does, his life is changed forever as God washes away his sins and makes him a new person in Christ. (2Cor. 5:17)

This story is unfolding time after time through the work of Project India, as we have seen nearly 4,000 come to Christ in the past 14 months and planted 41 churches in previously unreached villages. However, the story of this young man will help explain some of the phenomenal results we are seeing.

Soon after his conversion, Babu is praying and senses the Holy Spirit directing him to action. He obeys and is immediately thrust into action in the kingdom of God. What does he do? Babu is very poor, but feels he is to take all his money and buy a video camera and Continue reading “Go and Tell…”

Hiding Among the Trees

There are lots of things which can stand between man and God. It could be a job or hobby. It could be friends or family. Maybe even good works or religious devotion. Yes, church work can keep us from the rest of faith.

In our attempt to get busy for God and perform the Father’s work, we can lose our way of grace and become victims of our own efforts. It is easy to fall into this trap, or should we say, to hide behind this tree.

“…the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees…” (Gen. 3:8, ESV)

The very thing (the trees) God gave Adam and Even for food and nourishment (Gen. 1:29; 2:16) was now being used to hide them from God’s presence. Continue reading “Hiding Among the Trees”

You Are the Salt of the Earth

The beauty and insight of the teachings of Jesus is how He used the language of common people to illustrate the treasures of God’s wisdom. He taught using examples from farmers, carpenters, bakers, storms, weddings, relationships and many others. In the sermon on the mount He said we are the “salt of the earth.” (Matt. 5:13)

In this verse, Jesus is warning believers about losing their saltiness and making their life worthless for the Kingdom’s sake. Why does He call us ‘salt’ and how does it apply to our life as Christians?

The Good

Salt purifies – It brings purity to every situation and thereby offers healing. We bring heaven’s prospective instead of letting bitterness, hatred and strife control the situation. We will either be contributors to the damage of the situation or agents of God’s truth to offer healing.

Salt preserves – It protects and preserves from decay. We seek to restore, protect and preserve instead of seeking to destroy and cast out.

Salt flavors – It brings the fragrance and taste of heaven to difficult situations. The presence of God can make the most difficult situation endurable. The enemy loves to Continue reading “You Are the Salt of the Earth”

Restorative Church Discipline: Rescuing and Healing the Wounded

Hopefully one of my books will ready for print by the end of January ’13. Here is the Preface, which I just finished before sending the manuscript to editors. I feel it reveals my heart in writing it. Pray the Lord will use it to help and encourage young pastors and elders.

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If you are considering employing the steps of church discipline within your church—DON’T DO IT! That is, until you have taken the time to read and pray through this book. There are dangers, problems and pitfalls which await you if you do. The issue of church discipline is too serious to rush out and begin implementing without a thorough understanding and personal evaluation of our motives.

I knew an Elder who was young and full of zeal. He was elected to lead a church and extremely excited to do so. As the case with many young pastors, he soon began to see the lack of moral restraint and brokenness over sin in his congregation. Rampant immorality, gossip, slander, and backbiting were present and became known over the next couple of years.

Then one Sunday morning, after enduring all he thought he could, he addressed the church. He preached through the passage in the gospels (Matt. 18:15-17) about church discipline in one service. He closed the service saying, “From this day forward, this is how we are handling sin in this church.”

After the service, he retired to his house and enjoyed lunch with his wife, feeling he had delivered his heart and God’s heart to the church. As he finished his meal, he sat and reflected upon the service. Then suddenly he asked himself, “What have I done? How do I do this? Who are the witnesses? Which sins do I confront? How far do I take it? How do I restore someone? How do I handle them if they refuse to repent? Etc…”

Many questions overwhelmed his thoughts about the passage. He wondered how to carry out the words of Jesus faithfully. He had preached out of his frustration over the condition of the local church. His zeal, warning, and declaration to the church had gotten ahead of his understanding. The Holy Spirit arrested his heart and prompted him to slow down.

That young man was me, many years ago. If you feel frustrated with the condition of your local church and feel called to do something, I understand. I feel your pain and have felt your heart. As a fellow pastor and elder I have two basic words—slow down.

Before taking any steps, I plead with you to read and pray through this book. I cannot guarantee wisdom for all situations. However, I can offer some help in many of them. If you are a pastor or elder and feel the burden to see the local church walk in the power and purity of the Holy Spirit, I have written this book for you. It comes out of years of ministry experience, heartache, errors and a sharp learning curve.

I pray the words in this book will save you from some of my early errors, and that it will be a resource of help for understanding and employing restorative church discipline. If it helps one pastor, the years of writing and editing will be worth it. If it helps one congregation to be a loving group of believers who begin rescuing and healing their wounded, that is even better.

Nothing is as heart breaking as seeing the destructiveness of sin, especially when a believer refuses to repent. Equally so, nothing is a joyful as seeing a brother restored through repentance. There is hope for all—even you and me.

I have a dream. It is a dream that our local churches can be the shining light on the hill and the salt of the earth. It is a dream that she can be a chaste virgin with eyes only for Jesus. It is a dream that all of us who name the name of Christ would love other believers the way Jesus does. It is a dream that we would stop shooting our wounded, and instead reach out to rescue and heal them. They need us…and we need them!

Because of His Grace,
Terry