The Thriving Church Backstory


LinkedIn1

Very soon The Thriving Church: The True Measure of Growth will be released. I want to tell the story of how it came to be.

Churches should be growing. I believe this with my whole heart.

Models and methods of church growth abound. During my first years as a pastor, Willow Creek and Saddleback were hot. Later it was Mars Hill. Many churches copied their formulas for growth.

As I formed my own ideas of how a church should grow, I determined to be guided by truth. I looked for key passages of Scripture to instruct me.

What causes growth? How is authentic growth measured?  How does a pastor lead a growing church? What do people in a growing church do? Can my church thrive?

I kept landing in Ephesians 4:1-16. I read, reread, translated, diagrammed, researched, taught, preached, and preached again and again the principles in that text. In 25 years of pastoral ministry, this was the primary passage of Scripture that shaped my thinking about church life. It guided me in establishing goals, setting direction, and shaping ministry.

I was privileged to serve as lead pastor of two churches, one for 9 years and the other for 12. Both churches experienced growth. There were seasons of multiplication, but also maturing. My experience of pastoring through these stages of church life increased my understanding of the Ephesians 4 model of growth and what causes a church to thrive.

Three years ago the Chief Shepherd gave me a new assignment. I now equip a new generation of pastors as a Professor of Pastoral Studies at Faith Baptist Bible College. I don’t teach during the summer, so I have time to write.

I asked my friend Nancy Lohr, Acquisitions Editor at JourneyForth, for suggestions. Her response, along with some helpful guidance: “Figure out what your passion is and focus on that.”

And here we are.

The Thriving Church: The True Measure of Growth is scheduled for release December 6, 2019.

They Said Yes!

Old TypewriterThis week I have been blessed with an answer to prayer and a major step in fulfilling one of my heart’s desires. Allow me to give thanks to God and share with followers and friends.

Two years ago I began using summer and Christmas breaks as well as early mornings during the school year to turn stacks of study notes and sermon outlines into a manuscript. Last October I submitted the result of my efforts to a publisher for consideration.

After six months of review by editors and a few revisions on my end, I received a letter this week which began, “We are excited about your book titled Growing Body. The topic of church growth from a biblical perspective is important, and your book will speak to that need . . . If you accept the terms of the contract, please add your electronic signature . . . “

My heart leaped. Praise God!

Months of editing, revision, and production still lie ahead. I’ve discovered that while writing is hard work I enjoy the process. I look forward to the finished product and the impact it will have.

I am grateful to God for giving me the vision and energy to write and to my wife for her support and encouragement. I am thankful for the opportunity to partner with JourneyForth Books.

Many thanks to JourneyForth Acquisitions Editor Nancy Lohr who, eight years ago, first encouraged me to turn a sermon series into a book and who is now walking me through the process. It took a while, but here we go!

The Shepherdology Podcast Is Up!

Shepherdology Podcast Logo ColorThe first full episode of the Shepherdology podcast is now available.

You can find it on iTunes, Google Play Music (for Android) and Stitcher.

The home page is shepherdology.podbean.com.

You can listen to or download it from any of these sites.

Shepherdology is for pastors. My purpose is to provide truth and encouragement that will help pastors in their personal lives and ministries. Having pastored for 25 years, I am familiar with the responsibilities, pressures, blessings, and painful experiences in a pastor’s life. I want to be a pastor’s friend – someone who speaks into your life and prays for you.

Check it out. If you find it helpful, share it with another pastor.

Let’s talk Shepherdology!