Category Archives: Church Inside Out

God’s magnificently varied grace

Yesterday I was in Snyder, Texas, for a Church Inside Out seminar with the Eastside Church of Christ there. Someone asked an interesting question. I was discussing the varied nature of potential ministries in the church, mentioning everything from a cookie ministry to after-school tutoring to free yard care for the elderly.

That’s when someone asked if I knew of an available resource that contains suggestions for possible ministry activities.

I don’t. I’m not aware of anything like that.

Do you know where to find that kind of information? If not, have you heard of unique ministries that people have developed? I’d love to have more to share with others.

“Serve one another with the particular gifts God has given each of you, as faithful dispensers of the magnificently varied grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:10)

The joy of travel and sharing

Phew! It’s been a busy past few weeks. Since February 22, I’ve been to Canada, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Alamosa, Colorado. Blessed beyond blessed to get to share with believers in so many places… but I’ll confess that I’m a bit road weary. I’ve got a seminar in Snyder, Texas, this weekend, but at least I’ll be in my own bed.

Paul Smith, preacher at the San Luis Valley Church of Christ in Alamosa wrote a very nice article about recent seminars they’ve had at their congregation, including the Church Inside Out seminar I did there last weekend. I encourage you to read what he wrote.

One reason that I thoroughly enjoy doing the Church Inside Out seminars is that I believe the information is relevant and useful to most Christians. I think most congregations can find something in the seminar that will help them reach out more effectively; I think most individual Christians can also find something of use. As I’ve said before, there’s not that much original thinking in the seminar. One skill God has given me is to be able to combine the ideas of others who are more original than I. Hopefully I can give Christians information they might not get otherwise.

Travel does seem to be the enemy of blog writing, at least in my case. I decided long ago not to be a slave to this site; I’ll update as I can, hopefully providing some things of value along the way. Thanks for reading!

O, Canada

I made my first trip to Canada last weekend. I was privileged to receive an invitation from the Great Lakes Bible College to come and present my Church Inside Out seminar. The seminar was held at the Waterloo Church of Christ in Waterloo, Ontario. The event was also live-streamed via Zoom. The Zoom recordings are posted online: https://courses.glbc.ca/courses/church-growth-seminar-church-inside-out/ (That’s not my favorite type of video, but it’s certainly better than nothing. If you’d like to see what these seminars are about, that’s a good way to get a feel.)

Loved being with fellow Christians in Canada. As always in our brotherhood, I met lots of people that know people that I know. Those shared connections always create additional joy.

My main cultural problem was remembering that Canadian dollars and U.S. dollars are not the same! The difference in value can get confusing at times.

God is at work in Canada, through good people that want to see the Kingdom grow. I was privileged to get to share some time with them.

Go do some good!

Trey Morgan posted this on Facebook:

Christians in a church are a lot like cow manure. If you spread them out all over a community as God intended, they do a lot of good. BUT if they only stay piled up doing church things in a building … they tend to just stink.

Now there’s an illustration that will stick with you! Better yet, hope it motivates you to get out and do some good! Even better… hope it motivates me to do the same.

[I’m speaking on Church Inside Out in Silver Spring, Maryland, this month. Then in November I’ll do another seminar in La Grange, Texas. And in December, I’ll be working through the material with the leaders of the Church of Christ in Princeton, New Jersey, as they prepare to study Church inside Out with their members. I’d love to do the same for your church… contact me, and we’ll talk about it.]

Physical fitness tests and the church

I’m blessed to have the opportunities to talk to church leaders about their congregation’s outreach. If you’ve read Church Inside Out, especially the workbook, then you know that much of the book is focused on self-evaluation. It calls a church to look at what it’s doing well and what it’s not doing well.

Today I was remembering the Presidential Physical Fitness test from my youth. If you went to school after Eisenhower and before Obama, you had to do these tests in some form or fashion. I remember the tests as being 600-yard run, 50-yard run, chin-ups, sit-ups, standing broad jump, and softball throw. Since I didn’t get my coordination until junior high, those tests were a nightmare. I could nail the sit-ups, do okay in the broad jump, and would be totally humiliated in the other categories.

We would take those tests once a year, then forget about them. We did nothing to try and improve our performance. We merely ignored the existence of the test until it came around again.

In an ideal world, when those tests revealed my lack of upper body strength, someone should have helped me develop in that area. (Poor Mrs. Jenkins was dealing with 50+ kids in P.E. class; there was no way she could have paid that kind of individual attention to one student. She did well to keep us from killing one another.) Then the next year’s test would have been an interesting evaluation of progress, rather than merely confirming the previous year’s results.

When churches look at their strengths and weaknesses, they should be looking for how to improve in the areas where they are weak while taking advantage of their strengths. It’s not about criticizing nor ridiculing; it’s about finding areas where improvement can be made.

The same goes for each of us personally, of course. We seek outside evaluations of our spiritual lives, not to swell with pride or wither in despair, but in order to learn to strengthen the areas that need fortifying.