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Chris Russell

  • 8 Practical Ways to Use Facebook for Evangelism

    Paul tells us in Hebrews 3:13,

    “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

    I believe our generation has better tools for “encouraging one another daily” than any other time in history. Take Facebook, for instance. Through this powerful website, we now have the ability to stay in touch with people like never before!

    While Facebook is a great place to stay closely connected with your best friends and family members, I would encourage you to add in a ministry component to what you do online. Become purposeful in using Facebook as a subtle way of nudging your friends toward God. Use it as a vehicle for advancing God’s purposes on this planet. This all comes down to mindset. What is your purpose for engaging people on Facebook? Hopefully, you will see what a great platform Facebook can be for your ministry.

    With this in mind, here are eight simple ways that you can use Facebook to advance God’s Kingdom and to help others in their walk with the Lord:

    1. Use your status updates as a subtle way of identifying yourself with God in front of your friends.

    I don’t like to use Facebook for rants or soapbox preaching. However, I do like posting verses that have spoken to me during my devotional times, quotes from other godly people, and other spiritual insights that the Lord gives me from time to time. Regular, subtle status updates can go a long way in drawing your friends toward God.

    2. Create a group page for your church or ministry.

    Creating a Facebook page for your church is almost as important now as having a website for your church. Your church website can easily create an online brochure for people to learn about you. However, a Facebook page creates more of an opportunity to develop community for your church online. Once you have that page in place on Facebook, it can also become a fantastic opportunity for outreach. When page members like updates and pictures from that Facebook page, those likes will show up in their own newsfeeds. This becomes a subtle way for their friends to begin learning about your amazing church. We have discovered that any time we post pictures on our Facebook page, those turn into thousands of impressions to people who do not currently attend our church. And this outreach is FREE!

    Many churches today seem to be going to a lot of expense and effort to create their own, private online community through their church website (a member-only section). I tend to discourage this approach. I believe it’s better to keep your online community right out there in the open on Facebook where unchurched people already have their accounts and can connect easily.

    3. Train your church members to “check-in” on Facebook when they arrive at your church (via their mobile devices).

    Each Sunday we quickly flash a reminder slide up on the screen which reminds people to check in on Facebook. We also run this slide in a loop prior to the service, and we often have that announcement in the bulletin. Since those check-ins appear in each person’s time line, that then gives us thousands of impressions on Facebook each week. When Facebook friends see that they have two or three friends who already attend your church, that will give them a reason to consider visiting. Friends on Facebook will also begin to realize that “something’s up” at your church!

    4. Regularly create events for your church or ministry for which you can invite friends.

    When you create an event on Facebook for your church or ministry, this creates momentum to help boost attendance and involvement. It also provides a free tool for your church members to use to invite their friends to your event. The event does not need to be elaborate. It could merely be the title of your pastor’s sermon for that week. But creating an “event” around that topic can go a long way in attracting new people.

    By the way, keep in mind that the pastor is not the only one who can/should set up these events. Anyone in the church who is outreach minded can do these things to advance the ministry. As a matter of fact, it is probably even more effective if these events are set up by non-pastors.

    5. Send friend requests to guests who have connected with your church.

    When guests visit a church, they often feel like they are invading somebody else’s family reunion. A great way to help break down those barriers is to send them a friend request once you have gotten to know them a bit at church. Sending them a friend request shows them that you want to think of them as more than a church visitor; you actually want to become a friend. Facebook creates a terrific opportunity to begin planting the seeds of friendship.

    6. Connect with the greatest ministries that are represented on Facebook and then like and share their status updates on your own Facebook wall.

    Most of the greatest ministries in the country are already positioned on Facebook. Take some time to find those amazing ministries, and then like them. I have personally grown greatly in my journey with the Lord by receiving a steady stream of status updates from these great and powerful ministries. Those updates also give me valuable material to share with others on my own time line.

    7. Create light touches by liking or commenting on your friends’ pictures and status updates.

    When you like a picture or status update of one of your friends on Facebook, it communicates a subtle message that you care about them. These work well because they are light touches. By the way, for acquaintances, you will likely want to use these sparingly. You don’t want to “weird-out” people you barely know by liking every photo and status update they post. But occasionally noticing their updates can help you to begin connecting at a deeper level.

    8. Maintain balance with your profile by continuing the personal side of Facebook along with your ministry focus.

    Facebook is powerful because it is relational. If you use it merely as a soapbox or for self-promotion, you will actually begin to alienate your friends. So work to maintain a balance here. Go ahead and post a picture of that incredible hamburger or the video of that cat falling into the toilet. But then be sure to sprinkle some occasional seasonings of truth onto your timeline from time to time.


    Chris Russell has spent the past 25 years actively involved in ministry through pastoring, church planting, writing, Christian radio, and special speaking around the country and in seven different countries. He is passionate about communicating the truths of God's Word in a creative, highly-relevant way.

    Chris has three kids and happens to be married to his best friend, Leigh. He currently pastors a church on the north side of Cincinnati. For more, visit Sensible Faith.

  • Why Doesn’t God Heal Every Sickness, Disease, and Illness?

    I am a big believer in the doctrine of healing. I have experienced God’s healing in my own life, and I have witnessed God healing myriads of people over my past couple decades I’ve been in ministry. I am greatly comforted by verses like the one in James that gives us a great hope in the power of prayer:

    James 5
    13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
     14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
     15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.

    I do believe that God heals, but I also believe that healing is not always the only path that He chooses for us. Sometimes His perfect plan for our lives is to allow us to suffer and experience disease, illness, and hardship. The reason for this is that He can often teach us things through suffering that we would never be able to learn through a book or seminar, or through comfort and prosperity.

    Paul had a problem with his eyesight that God never healed. When Timothy was sick, Paul told him to drink wine (not go to a healing service). The Lazarus who was raised from the dead eventually died later. Paul says that he had a thorn in the flesh which he prayed for God to remove over and over again, but God never removed it. Job suffered because God had a whole bigger purpose for him than mere comfort on this planet. And Job’s suffering was not the result of a lack of faith.

    Some of the greatest blessings in this world come from God’s power in the midst of trials. God changes us, molds us, strengthens us, and builds us through hardship. And there is nothing like the experience of being comforted by God alone in that dark hour.

    Over the past twenty-five years that I have been in ministry, I have seen people hurt greatly by the false teaching that God always wants to heal every malady. This is because that belief can cause a massive amount of guilt and disillusionment for the afflicted in those times when God actually chooses not to heal. The implication is that the suffering Christian just didn’t quite believe enough or is hiding some sort of sin. I have seen Christians destroyed in their faith over this erroneous teaching.

    We must realize that sometimes it’s just not God’s plan to heal or to fix a problem quickly for us. And that’s ok. He still loves us. He still has a plan. And He still has a profound purpose for that pain that can end up blessing us beyond anything we could ever imagine.

    Often God chooses to heal! But sometimes He teaches us more and draws us closer when we walk the dark mile of suffering. But to experience such blessing, it is important that we run to God and not away from Him in the midst of the storm.

    For an epic example of how God can bless even in the midst of a tragedy, check out this post:

    “Experiencing God’s Grace — Even at the Death of a Child”


    For more, visit Sensible Faith.

  • 10 Questions to Get “Unstuck” Spiritually

    During this past year, I bought a vehicle that I have wanted for just about all my life: a Jeep Wrangler. I’ve always liked seeing them, but I was just recently able to get one for myself. There’s nothing quite like zipping around town with the top off and doors off. It’s basically like riding a roller coaster… EVERYWHERE.

    After buying my Jeep, I got on Youtube to check out what others do with their Jeeps. I was stunned. What do you do with a brand new vehicle? You bury it in mud! Here’s one video of what others have done with their Wrangler.

    When I watched that video of that Jeep that was stuck, I realized that that is exactly what people do with their lives. They often run their lives into the muck and mire of this world, and they often get stuck with seemingly no way out. Well, my hope is that, if you are spiritually stuck in your life right now, this blog post will help to pull you out of the pit.

    If you feel like you are stuck spiritually and are just spinning your wheels, then I would like to suggest that you take a few moments to ask yourself some self-examining questions. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” King David said it like this:

    Psalm 139:23–24
    Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. (NLT)

    Many people I have worked with over the years have been able to get unstuck by prayerfully asking these following questions and allowing God to help them find areas that need to be fixed.

    1.  Is there some unconfessed sin in my life that I need to deal with?

    1 John 1:8–10
    If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (NLT)

    2. Is there some person I have offended or hurt, but I have not apologized to or sought forgiveness or restoration?

    Matthew 5:23–24
    So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. (NLT)

    3. Is there some person in my life whom I have not forgiven?

    Ephesians 4:31–32
    Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (NIV)

    4. Is there any idol  that I have adopted into my life in the place of God?

    1 John 2:15–16
    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. (NKJV)

    5. Am I believing lies about God, myself, others, or my situation?

    Philippians 4:8
    Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (NKJV)

    6. Am I being disciplined and consistent in my pursuit of God?

    Psalm 63:1–8
    O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you. On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. (NKJV)

    7. Are there any areas of my life that are out of balance?

    Ecclesiastes 3
    1 To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
    A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted;
    A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
    A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
    A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
    A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
    A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
    A time to love, and a time to hate;  time of war, and a time of peace.  (NKJV)

    8. Are there any areas of my life that are requiring inappropriate amounts of my time?

    Ephesians 5:15–17
    See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (NKJV)

    9. Is there some ministry that God wants me to pursue, but I have held out?

    1 Timothy 4:14
    Do not neglect the gift that is in you….  (NKJV)

    10. Have I been 100% honest before God on each of the above questions?

     John 8:32
    And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (NKJV)


    For more, visit Sensible Faith.

  • Could a God Who Allows Suffering Really Be Good?

    Genesis 50:20

    And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.

    Today’s passage gives us a beautiful glimpse at God’s amazing plan, which was set into place before the universe began. Joseph had to go through incredible heartache as a result of the horrible sins that his brothers committed toward him. They hated him with a perfect hatred. They sold him into slavery, and they hoped to never see him again. It appeared that there was no hope that Joseph would ever again be happy again.

    But God was able to take an event even as terrible as this and use it for something beautiful. Through Joseph’s slavery, God was able to rescue the entire family of Jacob and turn them into the great nation of Israel. Wow! What a plan!

    There is no such thing as random pain. God has a divine purpose for everything, and He can often accomplish things through suffering that He would not be able to accomplish in any other way.

    Because God is omniscient (He knows everything),  He truly sees the big picture. He truly knows what’s best for us. He knows what will bring the ultimate good for mankind.  And He allows suffering at times to bring about that ultimate good –- in mankind in general, and in your life in particular.

    As a parent, I occasionally have to do the same thing with my kids. My daughter may not understand why we would have to take her to the doctor to get a shot, but that medical treatment would be for her ultimate good. I can see the big picture in a way that she does not always fully understand … yet. At some point she will … perhaps.

    One thing in this life about which you can be sure is that God loves you dearly. And the suffering that you experience is somehow related to His love for you. And this can only be understood fully as it is seen from His eternal, “out-of-this-world” vantage point.

    TODAY’S BIG IDEA:  “Suffering can be an extension of God’s goodness when it is viewed from the perspective of God and eternity.”


    For more, visit Sensible Faith.

  • About Chris Russell

    Chris Russell has spent the past 25 years actively involved in ministry through pastoring, church planting, writing, Christian radio, and special speaking around the country and in seven different countries. He is passionate about communicating the truths of God's Word in a creative, highly-relevant way.

    Chris has three kids and happens to be married to his best friend, Leigh. He currently pastors a church on the north side of Cincinnati. When he's not pastoring or blogging (www.SensibleFaith.com), he runs a real estate company in his "spare" time (www.PlumTreeRealty.com). He believes that A.D.D. (Attention Deficit Disorder) is one of his 'spiritual gifts.'