May Sermon Series Giveaway

This month is giving away a 6-week series, “How To Hear God’s Voice.” This series will help your congregation gain confidence communicating with God.

Sermon topics include:

  • How To Read The Bible
  • Following God’s Promptings
  • The Purpose of Pain
  • How to walk through open doors
  • How to know the difference between a good idea and a God idea
  • and more

Sermon Bundle Includes:

  • .jpg artwork files (title slide and scripture background slide)
  • 6-Weeks of sermon notes

Are Mission Trips A Waste of Money for Your Church?

If you fly anywhere in the United States during the summer, you will almost inevitably see groups of short-term missionaries headed on a mission trip. You can’t miss them, a group of week long missionaries. Teenagers and chaperones in bright neon t-shirts, brand-new passports, and an enthusiasm for all that they will accomplish for the Lord. Maybe you’ve seen them and asked yourself what those eager young people could possibly accomplish during their 5-day stay in whatever developing nations they were headed to. Perhaps the thought has even entered your head that those kids should just stay home and send whatever money they raised straight to the mission field, where it could be put to better use!

This idea of sending money rather than sending people is a hot topic in the missions community. As the directors of a children’s home in Guatemala, we often hear the question, “What do you need from my church, money or people?” Our answer: “Both!” We are big believers in short-term missions, and in the nearly ten years we have been on the mission field in Guatemala, we have seen the Lord accomplish so much for His kingdom through the partnership of short-term missionaries with a local organization.

Yes, short-term missions is a lot of work. It requires months of training, coordination, and preparation. It requires finding a reliable host organization to partner with. It often requires many hours of travel, and it almost always requires a significant financial investment from the church or from those participating in the trip. Is it all worth it for your church? Our experience says that if it’s short-term missions done right with a focus on Christ and on serving, yes, it’s absolutely worth it!

Let me give you 3 reasons why your church should take a short term missions trip:

1. Short-term missions gives your church accessible, achievable goals.

We have witnessed countless short-term missions teams come together across differences in age, socio-economic class, theological disputes and political perspectives to serve the children at our orphanage. They band together through pre-trip training, travel, and serving others, in order to accomplish a common goal. Achieving the goal of the missions trip, whether it be providing dental care in an underserved village, holding Vacation Bible School at an orphanage, building a home for a homeless family, or training local workers in best practices for hygiene and sanitation, is a hugely rewarding experience for a group of church members when done in the name of Jesus Christ. We’ve witnessed that these short-term missionaries almost always take this sense of unity and accomplishment back to their local church after the trip, and their enthusiasm serves as a true boost of energy and momentum for the entire congregation.

2. Short-term missions is a faith-building experience for participants.

Often, short-term missionaries are in over their head, which isn’t a bad thing! Out of their comfort zone and in unfamiliar territory, short-term missionaries are forced to rely on the Lord in a way that often do not at home where life is familiar and comfortable. As an organization that hosts missions teams from around the United States, we have seen hundreds of men, women, and teenagers encouraged in their faith while on a missions trip to the children’s home. We often hear “I came to serve and be a blessing, but the Lord has taught me so much about relying on Him during this trip that I am the one who was blessed!” Cliché? Perhaps. But it’s also true! We have even seen the Lord call people to adoption, the ministry, and even full-time missions at Casa Shalom! Former short-term missionaries at Casa Shalom have gone on serve full-time in Mexico, Brazil, Thailand and Italy! Although short-term missions can be uncomfortable and even daunting, we don’t need to fear it, as the Lord tells us in Isaiah 41, “Fear not, I am the One who helps you.”

3. Short-term missions trips are a fantastic way to truly be a blessing to the host organization in a developing nation.

In Acts chapter 1, Jesus makes it clear that missions is not optional. He uses his very last words on Earth to tell His followers that they would be witnesses for him in their city, their region and in the whole world! At this critical moment, He could have spoken on any topic, but He chose to emphasize missions one final time. Ministries like our orphanage absolutely need donations of funding to provide critical care for those we serve. But we also need man- and woman-power to accomplish what we cannot on the ground, and to provide the love of God and spiritual encouragement and refreshment! Short-term missions teams provide both funding to support the day-to-day operations of the orphanage, and workers to accomplish tasks we simply do not have the staff or funding to accomplish. We need men, women, and teenagers on fire for Christ to be witnesses for Him to us on the mission field!

Missions done right is a church or organization partnering with an existing ministry to accomplish what the ministry needs done. The ministry doesn’t need anyone to paint? Don’t insist on painting! The ministry doesn’t need someone to do door-to-door evangelism? Don’t insist on doing door-to-door evangelism! Take your cue from your hosting organization and focus your trip on what they truly need accomplished. Keep the focus on Christ and not the glorification of any one individual or of your church. Take the leap into short-term missions and watch how the Lord blesses your ministry!


The Wrong Question That Most Pastors Keep Asking

I’ve been reading the book “Hero Maker” by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird. The book talks about 5 levels of churches:

Level 1 – Declining Churches
Level 2 – Plateaued Churches
Level 3 – Growing Churches
Level 4 – Reproducing Churches
Level 5 – Multiplying Churches

Every pastor’s goal should be to lead a level 5 church, churches who launch churches who launch churches, but so often what holds the pastor back is asking the wrong questions.

For example, Level 1 pastors, pastors of declining churches, ask questions like, “What do I do when I don’t have anyone to help me?” or “How can we honor the legacy of the past.”

Level 2 pastors ask questions like, “How can we do things our people will want to participate in?” or “How can we keep the ministry going?”

Level 3 pastors are leading growing churches, but still ask wrong questions like, “How can we close the back door?” or “How can we get everyone to know each other better?”

All of these are good questions, but none of them will lead to multiplication, and by asking the status quo questions we get status quo results. But there is one question, according to Dave, that most pastors are asking that keeps us from experiencing multiplication. What is the wrong question that most church leaders are asking: “How Do I Grow My Church?”

4 Reasons Why “How Do I Grow My Church” Is The Wrong Question

1. “I” – How Do I Grow My Church

We were not meant to do this alone or versus each other. The “I” should be replaced with “we.” Hero Makers know that the mission is accomplished only through the multiplying of other leaders.

2. “grow” – How Do I Grow My Church

This is only partially right. Yes, the church was meant to grow. And, yes, healthy things grow. But growth is not the endgame. Hero Makers understand that growth is not about creating more seating capacity; it’s about creating more sending capacity and expanding God’s kingdom.

[bctt tweet=”Hero Makers understand that growth is not about creating more seating capacity; it’s about creating more sending capacity.” username=”@daveferguson”]

3. “my” – How Do I Grow My Church

It’s not yours or mine; we are only stewards. We’ve each taught this stewardship lesson hundreds of times to our people regarding finances and every area of their life, but we need to look at our own ministries and giftedness. Hero makers know it’s all God’s, so they can “grow God’s church” rather than “grow my church.”

4. “church” – How Do I Grow My Church

It’s not just about the church; it’s about the kingdom of God. This question of how to grow the church is almost always asking with the lowercase c church in mind. That’s short sided. Hero makers are far more concerned about the growth of God’s kingdom. They see their church through a kingdom lens versus seeing the kingdom through the lens of their local church.

Most of this blog was taking straight out of the book “Hero Maker: Five Essential Practices For Leaders To Multiply Leaders” by Dave Ferguson and Warren Bird. I want to give credit where credit is due.

To pick up your copy of Hero Maker (and I highly recommend) click here.


The First Question Every Pastor Should Ask Before Making An Important Decision

The general consensus about leaders is they should be bold, strong and decisive. Ask someone to describe the kind of the leader they want to follow, and you’ll be probably get an answer resembling William Wallace.


Why your talent is keeping your church from growing

I know what you’re thinking, I think it all the time myself: “If I just had a few more talented people (singers, communicators, small group leaders, etc.) I could grow this church.” It makes all the sense in the world. More talent = more results, right? Not so fast.

I grew up in a “tribe” with the best singers and preachers you’ve ever heard. I’m serious. These men and women were/are the cream of the crop. Later in life, as I entered the ministry profession for myself, I began to reflect on the churches and incredible ministers I had grown up under, and arrived at a frightening question:

Why are all of these churches filled with the best talent not growing?

It didn’t make any sense. The best preachers and singers were preaching and singing to shrinking crowds or plateaued crowds at best. I guess the reason the question scared me is that I had spent my ministry preparation trying to increase my talent. I convinced myself that increasing my preaching or singing ability from a seven to an eight (on a hypothetical talent scale) is what my church needed to make the jump to the next level. I was wrong.

Think about this; Jesus was called the great teacher, but is that what made him great? The people say he taught like no one they had ever heard before but is that quality what built the church that has changed the world over the last 2,000 years? I would argue no. If it wasn’t his teaching talent, what was it? I would say it was his ability to develop the disciples. For Jesus ministry to grow and have the mass impact, He desired He had to duplicate himself and empower others. Jesus understood that talented leaders make a splash, but leaders who develop talent make a difference. The same is true for you and me.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Talented leaders make a splash, but leaders who develop talent make a difference.” quote=”Talented leaders make a splash, but leaders who develop talent make a difference.”]

Obviously, there is a talent minimum required to draw specific demographics to your church, but don’t we preach sermons about how God uses the unqualified? I’m convinced, now more than ever, what my church needs me to do to help us grow and reach more people is not develop more of my talent; it’s to recognize and promote the ability in others. The challenge is our expertise has taught us, “It’s easier if I just do it myself.” We’ve bought into statements like, “If you want it done right you have to do it yourself.” We have, and the small group of people who love our talent, keep telling us how talented we are, but are we making God’s kingdom better?

Recently during my devotions, I came across this verse in Exodus that I had never noticed before.

Exodus 25:34
And the Lord has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach their skills to others.

What a gift! What if you and I changed our desires and our prayer? What if we started asking God to give us the ability to teach our skills to others? I’m going to step out on a limb and guess we would be more satisfied with the ministry and our churches would grow. 150 people might want to hear you minister, but thousands of people in your community want a chance to minister, they’re just waiting for you to teach them how.


Passing the Church To The Next Generation with Willie & Whit George

Recently, at the Seeds Conference hosted by Church on The Move, Founding Pastor Willie George and new Senior Pastor Whit George discussed the process of transition and succession.


2 Things To Remember When Dealing With Difficult Church Members

It is my honor to coach pastors—pastors from small and large churches, from traditional and non-traditional settings. Regardless of context, leadership always involves leading people, and people come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Leadership is both an art and science, and despite your divine calling, you must learn the skill of leading your church, organization, and followers. In my experience coaching pastors, many pastors struggle to lead persons who may have a strong personality, high influence, are in opposition to the vision of the pastor, may be self-centered, or any number of other personality conflicts.

Carey Nieuwhof from Connexus Church said “leading people is harder than reading Greek” and I agree; It’s doable but challenging. Even Moses and the Apostle Paul struggled with some of the people assigned to them, and you will as well.

It is important to remember that you pastor ALL the people, not just the ones that agree with you. Here are 2 simple reminders that will help you lead difficult individuals in your church.


There are 2 levels of leadership—relational and positional. In today’s culture, positional authority is not well received or followed. If you have to remind people that you are the leader, you may not be! The better approach is to build relationships, yes, even with those who are difficult. Of course, it’s easier to spend time with people who agree and support you, but the best return for your time may be spent with those who need to know you, to hear your heart and to understand the reasons for how you lead.  Rest assured, you will not win over everyone or get everyone to agree, but you’ll never regret the time you spend in this way. There may come a time when you have to use your positional authority but only do so as a last resort.

[bctt tweet=”If you have to remind people you are the leader, you may not be!” username=”billisaacs”]


People rarely give you straight answers, and most people never give the true reasons behind their decisions or actions.  More than once in my leadership, I have thought the issue was one thing only to find it was really something else entirely. I’m coming to believe that there are some things a leader cannot see until God opens their eyes to see it.  Elisha prayed for his servant that God would open his eyes to allow him to see what was really there. Once his eyes were opened, he saw the real truth of God’s provision.  The same is true of you and your leadership. There is often more going on than you can see with natural eyes. Be careful not to react to what you see but instead pray about what you are seeing and ask God for wisdom.  He loves to give it to you!

Your pastoral career will be marked by the people you lead, and they will bring you the most joy and the most sorrow. It is common to hear a retired pastor lament how much they miss the people they once led. At the end of the day, how you lead people and relate to them determines your measure of success in ministry. Lead well!


3 Ways To Love Your Husband When He’s Your Pastor

I remember when I told my mom I was going to marry a pastor. The first words out of her mouth were, “He better not move you away from me.” Much to her dismay, her question became a self-fulfilling prophecy, and I found myself living five states over, away from home, at twenty years old.

It didn’t take long for me to learn that living away from family was just one of the many sacrifices that ministry would ask of me. Being the wife of a pastor carries many unique burdens, expectations, and different ways of thinking, but ministry is also a life filled with favor, blessings, opportunities, and meaningful life experiences that wouldn’t come otherwise.

Jesus said, “A prophet is without honor in him hometown.” No doubt, it can be challenging to honor your husband when he’s your pastor (and sometimes boss) and honor your pastor when he’s your husband. Over the course of 14 years in full-time ministry, I have developed a few philosophies that I think are unique to pastors’ wives. These new “norms” for Jason and me have helped our marriage to remain healthy and thriving amidst the idiosyncrasies of life in the ministry.

1. Be his biggest cheerleader

This comes naturally for me because my general disposition is to be an encourager. Ministry is filled with highs and lows, and each high and low carries significant emotional swings. It is so difficult for pastors to not continuously be motivated and consumed with numbers. How many people showed up, how much money was given, how many AMENS were shouted? Numbers can dictate and control in a way that they shouldn’t, and I have found the best way to temper that control is to surround my husband with endless streams of affirmation. No one in the church should affirm my husband’s work ethic more than I do. We have all heard our share of lazy preacher jokes, but over time, I have learned that even when their hands aren’t working, Pastors’ hearts and minds are endlessly occupied. We make a big deal around our house about how hard daddy works and how important his work is, but no matter what is going on at the church, we think daddy is pretty amazing just because of who he is.

I have come to realize that regardless of how profound his message was, how large the offering was, or even how many people showed up, my husband is still the most amazing man in my life, and he needs to be reminded of that frequently so that his worth isn’t dictated by numbers that are constantly fluctuating. Celebrate your man with words!

2. Respect his boundaries

As naturally as encouraging comes to me is how unnatural the second philosophy has been to implement into our marriage. Being a young newly married pastor’s wife, I was eager to share my life with Jason.  It confounded me that he was not as eager to “share” as I was. I thought that living life together meant talking about life together, and it worried me when Jason didn’t tell me everything that happened throughout his day, especially in regards to church and ministry. I just assumed that if a couple was having marital issues and told Jason, I should know about those issues too. I was convinced that his love for me would be matched by his willingness to tell me all of his secrets. Several conversations (and complaints made by me) took place before it finally began to register that his integrity was what kept him silent, not his lack of affection. Not only do I now see it as I a positive that my husband does not share the confidential knowledge that he carries, I no longer ask him to. I’m so appreciative of his willingness to carry other people’s secrets because it allows me to keep an optimistic and innocent view of people in the church.

3. Value his schedule

Early on, it was easy to feel like my husband had a crazy schedule that was never conducive to family time. Bible study Mondays, choir practice Wednesdays, two service Sundays, and here I thought that pastors played golf all the time. A pastor’s schedule requires unique responsibilities. One example of this came a few years ago when I began to realize that my husband really needed to focus on Saturday evenings. I was always asking him to hang out with our friends or take me out on a date, but I finally realized we could date any night of the week, and that he was more likely to want to go out on a Sunday night and take Monday as an off day. I can’t have it both ways. If I get to enjoy the benefits of him being able to take the kids to school, I also have to understand he may be called away or need to be left alone to prepare at different times. Our new norm is that Saturday nights are off limits.

Every marriage, man, and church are different, so you have to learn what is most important to help him feel loved and supported. I’ve only been married to a pastor for 14 years so I know I have so much to learn, but these are the things I try to keep consistent in our home.


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5 Things Pastors Want To Tell Church Planters

I can’t speak for everyone, but I love the church planting revival, and the focus on church planters, happening in the church right now.

The stats don’t lie, planting a new church in a community is the best way to reach new people with the gospel. I’ve never felt called to plant a new church, but I love partnering with church planters financially and spiritually to help them get started. Over the past 10 years our church has given away $500,000 to help missionaries and church planters, and that has allowed me the chance to talk to a lot of planters. I wrote more about how our church has created a generous culture in this post.

Let me give you 5 things I’ve said, and other pastors want to say to church planters over the years:

1. We believe in you

Don’t do it alone. Don’t think that no one wants to help you or no one wants you to plant your church. We do. We aren’t as excited about it as you are, naturally, but that doesn’t mean we are against you. If we haven’t called you back yet, we’re not ignoring you. We want to help you. We may not be able to give money right now, but we will pray or share our facility, or let you borrow our hymnals. (ok kidding about the last one) For what it’s worth, it’s hard to encourage someone who conveys arrogance. Lead with humility. Ask my opinion now and then. Sometimes the reason you feel no one is behind you is because you accidentally sent the message you don’t need anyone. Just know I’m watching and applauding you. I need to remember to tell you more often.

[clickToTweet tweet=”CHURCH PLANTER: Sometimes the reason you feel no other pastors are behind you is because you accidentally convey the message you don’t need other pastors help.” quote=”CHURCH PLANTER: Sometimes the reason you feel no other pastors are behind you is because you accidentally convey the message you don’t need other pastors help.”]

2. We’re a little bit jealous of church planters

When we leave meetings with people who want to fight over petty things, we always think of what it would be like to plant our own church and not have to deal with dumb problems. We know you have you will have challenges of your own, but the chances are, you probably won’t be slowed down by arguments about Sunday School, paint color, and whether you have to wear a tie or not. We either don’t have the guts or don’t feel called to plant a church, but every time we hear you talk about your vision, there is a little part of us that wished we could do what you are doing.

3. Don’t say, “there’s no one in the community doing what you’re trying to do.”

Depending on where you are planting, there are probably a few hundred other churches. Someone is doing similar things to what you want to try. We understand you have a vision and are excited about it, but when you say those things, it makes you sound like you have some revelation that no one has. At the end of the day you bring people together, worship, teach, pray, make relationships, and serve the community. God set it up that way. You are going to do great things, but start your church based on what you are for, not what you are against. When you say, “No churches are reaching unchurched people,” or “No churches in the area are reaching the community” you sound arrogant. Whether you realize it or not you’re insulting pastors who have spent their lives sowing seeds in the community. Instead try this, “God is doing incredible things in ______, and we want to get in on it.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”CHURCH PLANTER: When you say, “There are no churches doing what we’re trying to do” you’re insulting pastors who have spent their lives sowing seeds in the community you’re trying to reach.” quote=”CHURCH PLANTER: When you say, “There are no churches doing what we’re trying to do” you’re insulting pastors who have spent their lives sowing seeds in the community you’re trying to reach.”]

4. If you need some people from our church to help you launch, we just want you to talk to us first. We’ll help.

It takes a solid foundation of faithful serving, attending, tithing people to get a church off the ground. The irony is it seems your starting your church to reach the unchurched people in the community you say no one else is reaching, by marketing and recruiting church members from other churches. I’m sure I’m a little sensitive about it, but you will experience the pain of someone leaving for something “better” soon. I know you think this makes me selfish, inwardly focused, and not kingdom minded, but I will send them with you, I just want you to talk to me first. The fact that you don’t want to is the very reason you should do it. Don’t put my people in the tough spot of having to tell me something you should have told me. I want to launch them not lose them. One more thing, please don’t say, “I didn’t recruit/steal anybody. They approached me.” That may be true, but we both know you can lead the conversation in any direction you choose. Just be a leader with integrity and shoot straight with me. I can respect that.

5. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

90% of pastors don’t finish their careers in ministry. Right now you may think your only challenges will be raising enough money or finding a place to rent, but you will find out the emotional swings of pastoring people are crazy. The highs are going to be so high there are going to be days when you feel like you could never fail, and the lows are going to be so low you won’t be able to get out of bed. Pace yourself; God will grow your church. How you start matters. Character, integrity, honesty, they are essential. Don’t burn bridges with other pastors; you don’t realize it now, but one day you will need to cross those bridges. Go for it, dream big dreams, do big things, reach your city for Christ. We are brothers, and we are in this together. I’m praying for you. Please pray for me.