Author Archives: Lane Corley
Failure is pervasive in life and ministry. In his book Fail: Finding Hope and Grace in the Midst of Ministry Failure, J.R. Briggs vulnerably shares his story and weaves together the stories of others who had experienced great ministry failure. The book provides a healthy framework for understanding failure, provides solid definitions of success for those in ministry, and connects with some pathways out of ministry failure. Briggs reminds us of the facts that inn our failures we experience God’s grace and power, God does not leave us alone, and God shapes our character. Great book to process if you’re going through a dry season or feel an overwhelming sense of failure in your ministry or career. You can overcome, you can fail forward, you can begin again.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
- Ministry is fertile ground for failure, and failure is fertile ground for ministry.
- Breakdowns often lead to breakthroughs – and sometimes failure can be the very thing that provides the breakthrough we need to experience true ministry.
- Failure is the crucible of character formation.
- The gospel doesn’t keep us from failing but instead transforms it into deeper meaning and a more hopeful purpose.
- Often it is not a major catastrophic event that brings pastors down but the ongoing, unrelenting, oppressive stress on the treadmill of ministry, where we simply cannot keep up the pace.
- Faithful ministry is meeting people where they are and walking with them to where God wants them to be.
- The business-model approach to ministry is product oriented, a biblical approach to ministry is process oriented.
- When we live as faithful followers of Jesus, we are bound to fail – and yet this is a good thing. Failure can be a gift. Failure can be grace. Failure can yield hope.
- Our lives and ministries will be assessed by congruence, not efficiency. It is not found in productivity, competence or progress as much as in the development of Christlike character and coherence of our stories with the character of God.
- There are few professions more open to attack by vulnerability and shame than ministry.
- For pastors one of the most accepted and encouraged yet dangerous and potentially lethal numbing agents is busyness.
- Failure will define us, refine us or redefine us, but it will never leave us the same.
- How we deal with the brokenness around us depends entirely on how we deal with the brokenness inside us.
- There is no spiritual formation and maturity without difficulty and uncertainty. If we are going to continue to grow in our journey with Jesus, we have to continue to risk, opening ourselves up to the possibility of failing again.
Margin is defined as an amount by which a thing is won or falls short. And margin creates opportunities.
In sports – “We’re winning by a 25 point margin, so we can allow our substitute players to get playing time.”
In business – “Our sales have created a substantial margin this month, so we can afford to take a few advertising risks if we want.”
In church, margin can be more than enough money, more than enough volunteers, more than enough space to take risk and expand into a new area of ministry.
Multiplication requires margin. That’s the problem. Most churches today have little margin. We have too little or just enough money, volunteers, space in the calendar, etc.
It has gotten harder to create margin. Building and staff expenses have increased. People are harder to reach today than ever before. People are giving less to churches than ever before. People have less time, or believe that they do, than ever before. Churches must work harder and get creative in building, protecting, and strategically utilizing the margins for healthy growth.
“I just don’t have enough _____ to get involved in church planting right now.” He’s right. The margin for the multiplication of ministry is diminished for most churches.
How can we create margin?
- Assess ministries to determine their effectiveness and work to eliminate those that are no longer fruitful. This could create some margin and momentum for other areas. Example:
- Look for margin that may be unrecognized. Can you duplicate a ministry that your are preparing already into another sphere. Example: One church does VBS at their location, then at local private daycare’s. That’s multiplication, that took little extra prep by volunteers.
- Take an assessment of the amount of time people spend on ministry inside the church. If its more than 12-15 hours, its probably cutting into the time they have for ministry in the neighborhood, marketplace, or community. People work 40 hours per week and probably have another 10-12 to volunteer. Explore ways to help people put ministry and volunteer hours toward the unchurched around them. This is the least common denominator of kingdom growth. This is the path to margin for our churches.
- Assess empty space around you. Most communities have lots of empty space that can be used for ministry. Instead of always thinking about building new (which almost always robs us of margin, or will in the future), consider ministries that may can fit empty space around you. Example: I visited one church that turned neighboring empty buildings into ministry space, saving the church a ton of money in new construction costs and building good will in the community by sparing potential blighted property.
- Margins are created by healthy growth, facilitated by healthy systems. Consider working on strengthening the systems of your church. Check out this Systems Analysis Tool to get started.
If multiplication is desired, margin should be on your mind as a ministry leader.
What other ways can we create margin for ministry and multiplication?
- Is your church creating margin through healthy growth of disciples?
- What are you planning for future margins?
- What is the thing keeping you from having margin for multiplication and ministry right now?
- What are of your ministry has the most margin right now? How can you multiply it?
- Do people have enough margin in their life to perform the least common denominator of kingdom growth – Gospel Sharing with Friends and neighbors?
When talking about planting new churches, I prefer the term church multiplication. Why? Most churches lack margin and without margin financially and with volunteers, they don’t believe that they can plant another church. It’s an option for one day IF we are able. But multiplication is a must for every church and a path to every church getting healthy and getting involved in planting new churches. Every church, to be healthy, MUST multiply. We must multiply ON-CAMPUS through new disciples, servant-leaders, groups, and ministries. Then multiplication in a healthy church WILL move OFF-CAMPUS through multiplication of ministries, outreach events, missions partnerships, AND new congregations in some form.
Start multiplying and you will be a church planting church.
How do we get started?
- Multiply New Disciples by sharing the gospel and bringing new people into the kingdom. Train your church in personal evangelism and lead them to see their community as a mission field.
- Multiply New Servant-leaders by having a monthly leadership development round table for existing and potential leaders. Begin a mentoring relationship with teachable and hungry disciples.
- Multiply New Ministries by looking at the needs in the body that are currently not being met and commission a leader or team to tackle the need.
- Multiply Off-Campus Ministries and Outreaches by asking the question “Where is the church not?” Look for opportunities like local multi-housing communities, local nursing homes, local compassion oriented agencies, etc.
- Multiply Mission Partnerships by planning an annual mission trip, a vision tour to an underserved part of your state or region, co-sponsoring a new church in your area or state, etc.
Multiplying at these levels will lead to growth, health, and the hunger to keep the multiplication going at every level, including new communities where a church or campus may be needed.
Get in touch – email@example.com – if you need to help with ideas and scenarios, or you’d like to network with other multiplying churches in your area. Connect with our Louisiana Baptists Multiplication Network for events to help you work on strategy and systems for healthy multiplication.
Every new year, there seems to be a pruning of things that just don’t make the cut to continue as a habit or tool that is effective. Here’s a few things that I picked up or continued in 2018 that have made the jump into the new year.
2. Nate Bagatze – How have I not heard of this guy before 2018?! Absolutely hilarious and very clean comedian. If you like Jim Gaffigan and Brian Reagan, you’ll love Nate. Check him out.
3. HIIT Training – In December, I joined a High Intensity Interval Training Group at our gym. Having been a Crossfitter and 9Rounder in the past, I’ve loved the intensity and brevity of this workout. And I love doing it with a group. 30 minutes – 15+ different exercises – 80%-100% of max heart rate for 20 minutes or more. I’ve lost 15 lbs, and a couple of belt loops. And planning on a triathlon on my 45th birthday in August.
3. Music: Jenny and Tyler – Not sure how I came across their music, but I’m hooked. Very deep and meaningful lyrics. Personal feel. A couple of their songs have been very special to me during deep waters over the last year.
4. The Christian Planner – I developed a reputation a few years ago in my professions circle for being a go to guy for media and technology questions. I’ve even developed and taught courses called Social Media and Ministry and Technology for the Church Office. Well, last year, I made the backwards leap to Paper. Paper Calendar – the giant one that sits on the desk, and Paper Planner. I’ve loved the Christian Planner. Great crowd funded story from a veteran turned entrepreneur. Very user friendly, simple, and always fun to open.
5. Podcast: The World and Everything In It – The best source of daily news from a Christian perspective, in a 25 minute, engaging format. I never miss a day. Looking for a Christian news source with positive voices. Check it out on Itunes or wherever you get your podcast.
6. Book: How to Read the Bible Book by Book – I talk about this book a lot. It’s my favorite “Read along” with my daily Bible Reading plan. It summarizes every book of the Bible, so as you read along and feel a little lost in the geography or history of the Biblical narrative, the summary in this book can get you back in the know, so you can hear from God. It’s not the only one. Any Bible Handbook will do the same, but I love this one. Check it out.
7. Youversion.com / The Bible App – I’m hooked on this app for Bible Reading, sharing Bible verses, and now our church uses the Events page for sermon notes. Check it out if you haven’t already. And when you do, let’s be friends.
8. Feedly.com – for staying up to date on news and blogs on all my favorite topics, which include theology, gardening, hunting, church, technology, marriage, parenting, etc. Great place for consolidating the things that you want to see everyday from around the internet.
9. YNAB – This will be our 6th year as YNAB’ers. Love this budgeting tool and App, that helps us keep up with our money and spending. I like what I see from Dave Ramsey’s Every Dollar as well, but we were YNAB’ers before that, so we’re hooked and not going anywhere. If you’re looking for a budgeting and expense tracking tool, check out YNAB. And I’ve enjoyed the YNAB Podcast this year as well.
What making life easier for you? Don’t be stingy. Please share.
It is an understatement to say that prayer was an important part of the life of Jesus. It is also an understatement to say, if it was important to him, how much more should it be to us. During our churches 40 Days of Prayer journey this year, I’ve spent some time exploring the prayers of Jesus. A simple rhythm emerged that’s worth emulating.
1. Jesus prayed ALONE.
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” Luke 5:16
For the believer, private prayer is essential to power and essential to demonstrating to God our faith in him. If you don’t really believe in God’s promises to hear and answer prayer, you’ll never go to your private room or prayer closet, shut the door and with no one looking, seek God for power or for people (Matthew 6:6). Jesus spent considerable time alone with God. So should we.
What is your plan to pray ALONE? Where is your PLACE of private prayer?
2. Jesus prayed WITH OTHERS.
“he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.” Luke 9:28
Jesus had a small group of disciples that he did life with 24/7. He also had an inner circle of his closest friends that he gathered for special seasons of prayer and connection with God. Jesus promised special power to those who pray in agreement with others (Matthew 18:19-20), and he practiced this, by praying with others regularly throughout his ministry.
What is your plan to pray WITH OTHERS? Do you have a small group of friends that you pray with? Do you have prayer partners who pray for you regularly? Are you a faithful, praying friend to others in your life?
3. Jesus prayed FOR OTHERS.
“people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them” Matthew 19:13
Jesus talked to God about men along with talking to men about God. In Matthew 19, we see Jesus praying for children brought to him. Jesus prayed for his followers, including us future believers in John 17. The Bible even says that he intercedes for us still today (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). Paul, commends intercession, or praying for others, as a top priority for believers, urging prayer for everyone, including those in authority (1 Timothy 4:1-2).
What is your plan to pray FOR OTHERS? What people do you pray for by name everyday? How are you making intercession a part of your life of prayer?
4. Jesus prayed STRENUOUSLY.
“Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.” Luke 6:12
We see Jesus, taking prayer to another level throughout his life and ministry by spending nights in prayer to the Father. He began his ministry with 40 days of fasting and prayer. We see a rhythm in the life of Christ of him exerting himself with greater intensity in prayer.
When was the last time, you took your prayer life seriously and strenuously for a season? Could you see yourself doing an annual fast? Could you see yourself doing an annual retreat where you focused on God and God’s desire for an area of your life or a person or persons in your life?
A simple rhythm of prayer: Pray Alone – Pray With Others – Pray For Others – Pray Strenuously.
Next Steps / To Do’s:
- Schedule time alone with God at least 3 times this week. Find a place of connection with God in your home or in nature.
- Join a group at a local church or start a group in your home or at your work, that is committed to praying for each other.
- Make a list of people to pray for everyday. Your family, your church, your coworkers, your neighbors. Check out the Prayer Card app to help with organizing your prayer list.
- Look at your annual calendar and plan an overnight prayer retreat or a season of fasting and prayer this year. More about fasting HERE.
“Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 7:2,3
The Disciple of Christ must make the Word of God his constant companion. We do this through reading, studying, committing to memory, meditating on, and applying God’s Word EVERYDAY. Over the last six months, I’ve reinvigorated my MEMORIZING OF and MEDITATING ON the Word of God using the Bible Memory App. See my post on Cultivating the Habit of Scripture Memory for more about my journey.
Why is Memorizing Scripture an important Discipline for a Follower of Christ? Here are 4 Reasons:
1. IT WILL HELP ME DEAL WITH TEMPTATION. “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” Psalm 119:9-11. Jesus used memorized scripture to defeat the temptations of Satan himself. If he used it, how much more do you and I need scripture stored away as a weapon against temptation.
2. IT WILL HELP ME MAKE WISE DECISIONS. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” Psalm 119:105. The principles and promises of the Word of God give clear directions for decision making and facing the crossroads in life.
3. IT WILL COMFORT ME WHEN I’M STRUGGLING. “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God Almighty.” Jeremiah 15:16. My journey began during one of life’s rough patches, that I longed to have the promises of God nearer to my heart. What do you have in your mind to challenge the minds, the world’s, the devils wrong perceptions of events in life. The Word of God is a perfect remedy.
4. IT WILL HELP ME WITNESS TO UNBELIEVERS. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15. God promises to use His word in the transformation of peoples lives (Hebrews 4:13; Isaiah 55:11). I struggle with persuasion and to know what to say. Memorizing Scripture helps me in responding to questions and objections. The Word of God is the best witnessing tool we have as disciples of christ.
How do I Memorize a Verse?
Here is the process I started with in my collegiate years:
1. Pick a verse that is meaningful to you.
2. Say the reference at the start and end.
3. Say it aloud.
4. Break the verse into natural phrases.
5. Write the verse on and index card.
6. Display in prominent places (mirror, computer, dashboard, etc.)
7. Always memorize word perfect.
8. Put verse to music.
9. Get a partner for accountability.
10. Start one or two verses a week.
Now, technology helps us do all of this. I’ve found the Bible Memory App to provide a great process and system to commit verses to memory on an even a more regular basis.
When do I memorize a verse?
- During your time alone with God. Hopefully you’re spending a daily time with God. If not, start that now. Then verses to memorize will present themselves as you read and study God’s Word. Get our booklet How to Get a Grip on the Bible for help in getting started with a Daily Time with God.
The Key to Memorizing anything for most people is repetition and review. So to memorize scripture, you need a plan and time to review. That’s where the Bible Memory App or other Apps can help. The app lays out a review schedule for each verse and most people have their phone with them at all times.
- When you are waiting. Just think of all the moments that you currently scroll social media. What if you just turned half of that time into reviewing the eternal, life changing Word of God? I review my verses anytime I’m waiting or sitting, during commercials, and then immediately when I wake up and before I go to bed, I’m sure to review two verses.
You have the time. You have the technology. You need the wisdom and spiritual ammo. Get started today and begin hiding and treasuring the word of God for yourself.
See my post Cultivating the Habit of Scripture Memory on how to get started with the Bible Memory App.
The brain is an amazing organ. It’s ability to catalog information for the future, to block out traumatic events, to recognize things and places, and so much more is an incredible aspect of our wondrous and remarkable creation (Psalm 139:13-14). I believe that we utilize an incredibly small portion of what the brain is capable of. Taking the easy way out through amusement or observing other peoples smarts is the rule of the day. God calls us to engage our faith fully with our minds. We’re called to read (Revelations 1:3), study (2 Timothy 2:15), meditate on (Psalm 1:1-2), memorize (Psalm 119:9-11), and apply the word of God to our lives (James 1:22). We’re promised the brain hacks of wisdom, insight, knowledge, discernment (Proverbs 2:1-10) as gifts of God to aid our lives and our learnings.
So how are you engaging your mind through spiritual disciplines and habits?
In 2018, I re-established the habit of scripture memory. I had picked up the habit during my collegiate years through the influence of the Navigators and use of their Topical Memory System. Since 2002-2003 this habit was sporadic. In 2018, after going through one of life’s rough patches and longing for the promises of God to be nearer to my heart and mind, I downloaded a few Bible Memory Apps to try out. I landed on the Scripture Typer App, now called the Bible Memory App and after 7 months, I have mastered 430 verses. The Bible Memory App provides a great system to start and maintain the regular habit of memorizing and reviewing scripture. The key to memory for most people is repitition and review. With the Bible Memory App, you progress through verses by reviewing and as you review verses correctly, through typing the first letter of each word in a verse, your review schedule for each verse lengthens. So now, with 430 verses mastered, I’m still only reviewing 25-30 verses each day, spending 10-30 minutes each day in scripture memory.
Where did I find the time? I’ve pretty much replaced 75% of the time I spent on Social Media and other quite meaningless web surfing with this habit. I feel much better about myself. My faith is strengthening. Scripture memory improves your preaching and teaching, if you do that regularly, which I do. Besides the spiritual benefits, Scripture memory is also a habit and memory exercise that if maintained can keep the brain sharp as you age, potentially warding off dementia and cognitive decline.
Let me encourage you to try this Biblical injunction out and develop it into a habit. You will not regret it. If you use the Bible Memory App, here’s how I would get started:
- Download the App, open and account, find the Verse Library and start with the Group of Verses called “Verses for Children.” About 20 verses that are short, familiar, foundational.
- After that, move to the Group “Top 100 Verses.” Another great group of verses that are short, familiar, foundational.
- After that, pick another verse library category that speaks to where you are in life. Or, you can search for a group that you would like to connect with. I started with the Topical Memory System Group, because those verses were familiar to me. Right now, I have a group that is trying to memorize every YouVersion.com “Verse of the Day.” Find the group HERE.
- Put together a group with your Small Group, family, accountability partner, or for your church.
There are other apps and tools out there. Which one have you found helpful?
You can do this. Yes, you’ve got the time. You need this habit. Now, it’s not something we HAVE TO DO, as believers. It is something WE GET TO DO. Hiding God’s word in your heart is a privilege, given to us by God.
Tomorrow – Why and How to Memorize Scripture?
The Bible is full of resolutions. Our reading of the Bible should be to see the gaps between ourselves and God’s will and close that gap with resolve. The difference between worldly resolution and Biblical resolution is that as believers we have the promise of God’s presence with us to empower and encourage us as we resolve to walk with him. So let’s be resolute in 2019. Here are four Biblical Resolutions in way of reminder and challenge.
1. Devote yourselves to Prayer… Colossians 4:2
Prayer works every time it is tried. God promises to hear and to answer the praying believer, who prays in faith (Matthew 7:7; James 1:5-8; 1 John 5:14-15). Resolve to be a person of prayer in 2019.
- Set your alarm for 10:02am as a reminder to pray for your church and for more laborers for God’s mission (see Luke 10:2).
- Get your church’s directory and pray for one page per day.
- Sign up for Daily Prayer List of the International Mission Board
- Sign up for BlessEveryHome.com and pray for your neighbors everyday
2. Every man mature in Christ – Colossians 1:28-29
The resolve of the apostle Paul was to move EVERY PERSON in his sphere of influence closer to Christ. What a resolution!? Our influence as believers is currently limited by our vision and our lips. Resolve to see every person in relation to eternity and communicate God’s Gospel truth in practical ways in 2019.
- Pick up or make invites to your church to hand out around town.
- Ask God for divine opportunities and commit to share the gospel on a daily or weekly basis.
- Make a list of lost friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors to pray for everyday.
- Pick up a book or study on sharing the faith and read to get equipped. Let me suggest: Turning Everyday Conversations into Gospel Conversations by Jimmy Scroggins, Sharing Jesus Without Freaking Out by Alvin Reid, or Tell Someone by Greg Laurie.
3. Exercise is of some value – 1 Timothy 4:8
In most of us, a new year brings a desire to make changes. Gym memberships increase by about 12% every January. While we do not all need to be Iron Men, we should recognize the secondary value (next to godliness) of maintaining and/or improving our physical condition as a steward of God and faithful witness until our last breath. Resolve to improve and/or maintain your physical condition for stewardship and witness in 2019.
- Walk. This is a great way to combine #1, #2, and #3. Walk your neighborhood and pray for each home and look for opportunities to build new relationships.
- Try a 21 Day Fast as a way to reset your prayer life and dietary life.
- Join a gym and/or fitness class as a way to get in better condition and build new relationships in the community.
4. We will tell the next generation – Psalm 78:4
The next generation is to be a priority for disciples of Christ (Deuteronomy 6:6-8; Psalm 78:1-4). Parents and Grandparents have a built in reminder of their duty and priority. But we mustn’t stop there. With Christianity in decline, we need all hands on deck to make sure every child hears of God’s love in Christ for them. Resolve to pass on your faith to someone younger than you in 2019.
- If you’re a parent, commit to a family meal time each week where you share a devotional and pray for and with one another.
- Sign up to volunteer in the children’s ministry of a local church.
- Look for opportunities to volunteer at a local school or mentoring program.
- Ask God to show you a child at your church or in your neighborhood that needs an encouraging word.
What are some other Biblical Resolutions that we can resolve to pursue in 2019?
This year our church partnered with a couple of great organizations for Christmas On Mission Projects:
1. The Kids In Transition (KIT) Program through our local schools. KIT as the program is called helps teens who are in substandard or transitional housing. Another term is “couch surfer.” A teen without a permanent address. It also covers teens who find themselves in other situations such as teen pregnancy or fleeing from an abusive parent. We were able to fill a few wishes for some of the kids in this program. Find out more info HERE.
2. James Storehouse and Louisiana Dept of Child and Family Services. James Storehouse is a Non-Profit that mobilizes resources for foster children and families associated with foster care and adoption. Kim Bigler founded and directed the Storehouse with a lot of enthusiasm. They have many volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Bridge Church was able to provide a breakfast at their new facility on Hwy 21 in Covington for the staff of our local DCFS office.
The DCFS staff does amazing work for our community. This year alone, 192 kids were adopted through our local Covington office! Also, 107 kids were placed in a foster care home and 165 homes were certified as foster care providers. STILL MORE ARE NEEDED!
Incredible people doing hard work for the neediest among us. Praying for these and others on the front lines of need in our communities.