God designed the Church to run on volunteer power. Every member of the congregation is a spiritually gifted individual, after all, called and empowered to do “the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12 ESV). And yet, many churches experience a chronic shortage of volunteers.
What is the cause of this shortage, and what can pastors and other church leaders do about it?
Those are the questions Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood explores with Jill Fox in Episode 153 of the Influence Podcast. Fox is Ministry Initiatives and Next Gen pastor at Westwood Community Church in Excelsior, Minnesota, and co-author, with Leith Anderson, of two books: The Volunteer Churchand Volunteering, both published by Zondervan.
Cynicism. Compromise. Disconnection. Irrelevance. Pride. Burnout. Emptiness.
No one expects to experience these negative feelings, but everyone does. As Christians and as leaders in the church, the question we need to ask ourselves is what we should do about them.
That’s the question Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood explores with Carey Nieuwhof in Episode 152 of the Influence Podcast. Carey Nieuwhof is pastor of Connexus Church in Barrie, Ontario, and author of Didn’t See It Coming, published by WaterBrook.
This past summer, thousands of Assemblies of God churchgoers went on short-term missions trips. These trips often do much good. They certainly change the people who go on them for the better. But is it a good idea to shift a church’s missions strategy to short-term missions?
Similarly, churches are increasingly supporting “social justice” causes such as anti-human trafficking initiatives and water well drilling as an important part of missions. Granted, these are great causes, but are they missions?
In today’s episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks with Doug Clay and Greg Mundis about what missions is and why missions need long-term missionaries. Doug Clay is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (USA), and Greg Mundis is executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions.
America is in the midst of a generational sea change. Baby Boomers are no longer the nation’s largest generational cohort. Instead, Millennials are.
Unfortunately, Millennials are the least religious generational cohort in our nation’s history. If the Church wants to reach Millennials, it cannot rely on strategies that worked with Boomers. The generations are simply too different.
In today’s episode, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Geoff Surratt about five tensions churches must manage to successfully engage Millennials.
Together with his wife, Sherry, Geoff is the founder of Ministry Together, which “partners with “ministry leaders for relational health, organizational growth and Kingdom impact.” He is also author of the free e-book, The Church Will Thrive.
Roughly half the U.S. population is male, but fewer men attend church on average than women do. In the Assemblies of God, for example, the latest statistics indicate that men account for 31.5 percent of Sunday morning attendees, while women account for 40.4 percent. This gap in attendance reveals a ministry opportunity.
Earlier this year, Michael Zigarelli — professor of Leadership and Strategy at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania — conducted a qualitative survey of seven Protestant churches with greater parity in attendance between men and women. His working paper, “Churches that Attract Men,” identified transferable principles of man-friendly churches and is the springboard for today’s Influence Podcast conversation between him and Influence magazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood.
Topics of conversation include why attracting men is a good church-growth strategy and what man-friendly churches have in common. But Zigarelli also addresses “pushback questions”: Why are we talking about man-friendly churches in a culture that’s talking about “toxic masculinity”? Does being man-friendly trade on shopworn gender stereotypes or complementarian views of church leadership? And does attracting men create a void of ministry to women and children?
It’s an interesting, informative conversation, so make sure to listen to the entire thing!
In today’s episode, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Chris Sonksen about his new book, Quit Church: Because Your Life Would Be Better If You Did, published by Baker Books.
Sonksen believes too many American Christians take a "noncommittal, casual approach" to both God and the Church. By doing so, they miss out on the tremendous blessings God has for them. Quit Church is about quitting nominal religion and practicing a vibrant faith.
Chris Sonksen is pastor of South Hills Church, a multisite congregation in southern California; founder of Church Boom; author of When Your Church Feels Stuck; and an Assemblies of God minister.
Religious liberty has emerged as a particularly contentious issue in American public discourse, especially in light of President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. But religious liberty didn’t become controversial overnight. Indeed, if history is any guide, religious liberty has been a controversial issue in the United States since its founding.
In today’s episode, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Brandon J. O’Brien about Isaac Backus, a Baptist who led the fight for religious liberty during America’s founding era. Backus’ example is both inspiring and instructive, shedding light on what religious liberty means in a contemporary, pluralist America.
O’Brien is director of content and distribution for Redeemer City to City in Manhattan, author of Demanding Liberty, a new biography of Isaac Backus published by InterVarsity Press, and coauthor with E. Randolph Richards of Misreading Scripture with Western Eyesand Paul Behaving Badly.
To be a Christian is to bear witness to Jesus Christ in the place and time in which you live. Every age presents unique challenges to, as well as unique opportunities for, Christian witness. In this episode, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Prof. Alan Noble about how Christians can bear witness to Christ in the midst of a distracted, secular culture.
Alan Noble is assistant professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University, cofounder and editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture, and author of Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age, published by IVP Books and hitting bookstores on Tuesday, July 17.
Spiritual warfare is a component of every Christian’s life and ministry (Ephesians 6:10–20). Pastors are often on its frontlines, however. In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Wayne and Kristi Northup share what they have learned about this often overlooked aspect of the Christian life.
The Northups are co-lead pastors of Saints Community Churchin New Orleans, Louisiana. They planted the church in 2011 with a vision to win a city, starting congregations throughout the greater New Orleans area. They have three children.
Jeffrey and Joanne Portmann planted Newhope Church in Puyallup, Washington, on Easter Sunday in 2014. From the outset, their vision was to have five locations within five years. Today, Newhope has five campuses throughout South Puget Sound.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence senior editor John Davidson talks to Jeffrey Portmann about how pastors and churches can implement a multiplication philosophy whatever their current size or location.
Over the past eight years, LifePoint Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, experienced explosive growth. That was good news, of course, but it created stresses throughout the organization, in terms of both personnel and finances. Indeed, the stresses almost caused Pastor Mike Burnette to leave the ministry entirely.
Few pastors lead churches that experience explosive growth, which is always a sovereign move of God. But all pastors experience heightened levels of stress. In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Burnette shares his experience of burnout and identifies practices that will replenish a leader's soul.
Husbands and wives ministering alongside one another in the church is common. Indeed, it has biblical precedents in ministry couples like Priscilla and Aquila and Andronicus and Junia (Romans 16:3, 7). But working together, even in ministry, presents unique challenges to healthy marriages.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine senior editor John Davidson talks to Geoff and Sherry Surratt about how ministry couples can have thriving marriages.
The Surratts are founders of Ministry Together, and coauthors of Together: A Guide for Doing Ministry Together. Geoff wrote a feature story on multisite churches for the March/April 2018 issue of Influence magazine.
May is Mental Health Month. In today’s episode, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Dr. Stephen Grcevich about a mental health inclusion strategy for the local church.
Dr. Grcevich is founder and president of Key Ministry. He is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with over thirty years of clinical experience and extensive research experience evaluating medication prescribed to children and teens for mental health disorders. A past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, he is the author of Mental Health and the Church, published this year by Zondervan.
Yesterday—May 20, 2018—was Pentecost Sunday. Many churches marked the occasion with a special emphasis on the person and work of the Holy Spirit.
In today’s podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Dr. Jim Bradford about how pastors can create environments for people to be filled — and refilled — with the Holy Spirit on a regular basis.
Dr. Bradford is the outgoing general secretary of the Assemblies of God. After nine years in that position, he is returning to ministry in the local church as senior pastor of Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri.
May is National Foster Care Month.
In today’s episode, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks with Jay Mooney and Johan Mostert about how churches can support foster care parents and thus solve the twin problems of America’s foster care system: capacity and stability.
Jay Mooney is executive director of COMPACT Family Services, formerly Assemblies of God Family Services Agency. Johan Mostert is director of COMPACARE, one of COMPACT’S initiatives.
Episode 139 Notes
People--including practicing Christians--are neither as morally good as they should be nor as morally bad as they could be. This is the sanctification gap, the distance between who we are and who we should be.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, executive editor George P. Wood talks to Christian Miller about how to close that gap. Miller is A. C. Reid Professor of Philosophy at Wake Forest University and director of the Character Projected, funded by the John Templeton Foundation and Templeton World Charity. He is also author of The Character Gap: How Good Are We? (Oxford University Press).
Episode 137 Notes
On Monday, April 23, 2018, the Assemblies of God announced that Rev. Donna Barrett would succeed Dr. Jim Bradford in the office of general secretary. Her term beings June 1, 2018. This was an historic announcement, given that Barrett is the first woman in the denomination’s history to serve on the Executive Leadership Team. In today’s podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Barrett about her life and ministry and how God has led her to this point in time.
In this episode, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Brian Stiller about five drivers behind Christianity’s explosive growth worldwide.
Stiller is a global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, an ordained minister in the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, and author of From Jerusalem to Timbuktu: A World Tour of the Spread of Christianity, recently published by IVP Books.
To learn more about Brian Stiller, visit BrianStiller.com.
The vast majority of churches in America are small. In the Assemblies of God, for example, 75 percent of all churches report fewer than 200 people in weekly attendance. Nearly 60 percent report fewer than 100. And nearly one-third report fewer than 50.
Unfortunately, there are few books about how to lead a small church. Karl Vaters’ new book, Small Church Essentials is one of the best, and it’s both hopeful and helpful. (See our review here.)
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Vaters about the unique challenges and opportunities facing small-church pastors. Vaters is teaching pastor of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship in Fountain Valley, California, and an Assemblies of God minister. He blogs regularly about small-church leadership at NewSmallChurch.com.
Episode 135 Notes
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, senior editor John Davidson talks to Mike Santiago about the whys and hows of giving feedback — both positive and negative — to the leadership team at your church.
Santiago is pastor of Focus Church as well as a member of the Church Multiplication Network’s Field-Based Team, coordinating training for church planters in the Assemblies of God (USA). You can connect with him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. His handle is @CheckTheMike.
Episode 134 Notes
Easter is a few days away. Around the world, Christians will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This event, so pivotal to Christian faith, is a reminder that Christianity is an inherently supernatural religion. Unfortunately, in the modern era, many disbelieve in miracles, their skepticism fueled by appeals to science. So, the question naturally arises, do miracles really happen?
To answer that question, Influence magazine senior editor George P. Wood interviewed Lee Strobel about his new book, The Case for Miracles. Strobel began his career as the award-winning legal editor for The Chicago Tribune. After his conversion from atheism to Christianity, however, he turned his attention to apologetics and evangelism and has written bestsellers like The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. He currently serves as professor of Christian Thought at Houston Baptist University as well as teaching pastor at Woodlands Church.
If you’d like a video of Lee Strobel making the case for Jesus’ resurrection, which you can download and use in your church, go here.
Episode 133 Notes
In 2012, Mike Santiago planted Focus Church with his wife Ashton in metropolitan Raleigh, North Carolina. The church met in rented school facilities for several years until being told their rental agreement would expire in two weeks. Providentially, Focus was able to merge with an older, existing church whose facilities had been built in the 1980s.
People expect different things from church facilities in 2018 than they did in the 1980s, however, so renovations were needed. Plus, there were items of deferred maintenance that needed to be addressed. In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine senior editor John Davidson interviews Mike Santiago about how to update an older church building on a limited budget.
Santiago is pastor of Focus Church as well as a member of the Church Multiplication Network’s Field-Based Team, coordinating training for church planters in the Assemblies of God (USA). You can connect with Santiago on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. His handle is @CheckTheMike.
Episode 132 Notes
Josh Wellborn is the newly appointed director of National Youth Ministries for the Assemblies of God (AG). He comes to that position after two decades of ministry as a youth pastor and District Youth Director in the Michigan District of the Assemblies of God. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Josh talks to Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood about what churches can do to reach and retain young people. His vision can be summarized in two words: relationship and discipleship.
Episode 131 Notes
Everyone wants to be a hero. Yet only a few understand the power in being a hero maker. Those that do become leaders who multiply leaders.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Dave Ferguson about how to multiply leaders in your church. Their conversation draws on insights from Dave’s new book, Hero Maker, coauthored with Warren Bird and published by Zondervan.
Dave is pastor of Community Christian Church, a multisite congregation with 11 locations in Chicago and its suburbs. He’s also the visionary for New Thing, an international church-planting movement, and president of the Exponential Conference. You can follow Dave on Twitter; his handle is @DaveFerguson. And check out his website, DaveFerguson.org.
Episode 130 Notes
Pastors and other church leaders often turn to secular leadership books for insights about how they should lead their congregations. Those books can be helpful, so their advice shouldn't necessarily be discounted.
By the same token, however, the Bible itself is a leadership book, which sets out the distinctive tone and posture of authentically Christian leadership. So, it should be the primary source of guidance for how Christians lead.
In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine executive editor George P. Wood talks to Ryan Lokkesmoe about leadership lessons we can learn from the New Testament church. Lokkesmoe is lead pastor of Real Hope Community Church in Houston, Texas. He has a Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Denver, and he is author, most recently, of Paul and His Team, published in 2017 by Moody.
Episode 128 Notes