How to Build Community in Your Church

As a pastor of a small church, I'm particularly sensitive about building a sense of community. I don't think community is just another 21st century buzzword, I think it reflects the body life described for the church in the New Testament. For example, in our latest study of the Lord's Prayer, I've been struck by Jesus intructions for how to pray. You will notice the use of the plural. "Our Father", "Give us our daily bread", "Forgive us our debts." This pattern is all through the gospels, the epistles, the pastoral letters--commands and encouragements given in the plural. The point is this: Christianity was not meant to be lived individualistically. When you put your faith in Christ, you are baptized into a body, joined to a people.  So it is an important function of the church to create environments where this body life, this community, can flourish. Much of this falls on church leadership. They must...

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A Commitment to Holiness and Humility

I had the privilege of interviewing Rev. Samuel Rodriquez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Rodriquez is a well-known speaker who represents the growing Hispanic evangelical population. I asked him about a recent honor he received: You were the first Latino leader to give a commemorative address at Dr. Martin Luther King's annual commemorative event. Was that opportunity a dream come true? Beyond a dream come true, the opportunity graciously rendered serves as a testimony to the purpose and promise of God for each of our lives. When I was 14 years of age, I saw a television special on Dr. King when a still small voice in my heart prompted me to write, "One day, God will enable me to connect with Dr. King's family as I serve our communities." With a commitment to holiness and humility, all things are possible. I also asked Rodriquez about immigration reform and the...

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7 Steps to Get Started Writing

I have a lot of people who are interested in launching a writing career, but don't know how to get started. It seems a bit overwhelming. So I decided to try and write a post with seven sort of first-steps on writing. I hope this helps those who feel this call. 1) Take a Long View. This is less of a practical step and more of a vision thing. But I think it's importnat to not get too caught up, right away, in that big book project or thinking that you're going to make a ton of money so you can retire. You need to think of writing less as a way to make money (which in the future can happen, at least in a side-business kind of way) and more of a calling to communicate and use your gifts to lift people. Don't take an all-or-nothing approach with the idea that...

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The Rhythm of Forgiveness and Repentance

This past Sunday, in our sermon series Teach us to Pray, we looked at this phrase in the Lord's Prayer: "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors." Now this phrase of this prayer would be really wonderful if it stopped at "Forgive us our debts." That's how most of us pray, if we're honest. The Bible tells us we enter life with a debt--a massive gap between us and God (Romans 3:23; Romans 5:12, among others). Christ's death on the cross and resurrection erased paid that debt and offers reconciliation with God. Anyone who has put their faith in Christ can pray this prayer with hope, knowing his debt has been forgiven. But the prayer doesn't stop there. Jesus says that we’re to pray “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This word “as” is not just a fill-in word here. It’s a real Greek word, hos that...

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