Philip Nation


Philip Nation

Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. He earned a master of divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a doctor of ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves as teaching pastor for the The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville, Tennessee.

His works include Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. He is also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, he has written the  small-group studies Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

That’s My King. Do You Know Him?

S. M. Lockridge was a powerful preacher. Among his powerful life as a pastor, he is perhaps best known for several litanies during various messages. One of those is a message when he repeatedly used the phrase “That’s my King!” Below you will find the transcript of the full 6-minute section of that sermon along with the audio of it as well.


My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews—that’s an Ethnic King. He’s the King of Israel—that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now, that’s my King.

Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s Saviour. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King.

He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He’s the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. That’s my King.

Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King.

His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you... but He’s indescribable. That’s my King. He’s incomprehensible, He’s invincible, and He is irresistible.

I’m coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens cannot contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King.

He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. That’s my King! That’s my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King. We’re around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but in the end all that matters is God’s power. Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His. Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? Forever and ever and ever and ever... And when you get through with all of the ever’s, then... Amen!


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


4 Warnings about “Authenticity”

In our churches today, a premium is put on the idea of being:

  • Real
  • Transparent
  • Genuine
  • Heartfelt
  • Authentic

In years past, I remember hearing the arguments back and forth about how transparent should a pastor be about his personal life. As a young man, it seemed to me that leaders put a high priority on communicating how well everything was going in their lives and in the church. Many times, I witnessed church leaders putting a positive spin on very negative events. From my limited vantage point, the façade of “everything is just fine” was the priority. In the vein of creating a people who have an eternal hope for the future, leaders continually spoke positively about their lives.

Today, I think the winds are blowing in the other direction. The premium is now put on authenticity; especially from the pulpit. The drive to be genuine has become the willingness to describe church life, cultural events, and even personal experiences as unvarnished as possible. However, it has also become the opportunity to “air one’s dirty laundry” for the whole world. In the vein of creating a confessional people, leaders are at the forefront desiring to show what such a life might be.

With all leadership traits, cautions are needed. Moving to one end of the spectrum or the other has inherent flaws that we need to guard against. With the strong urge toward authenticity, we can eventually create such an environment that many will find off-putting. Leaders must guard the church’s authenticity from becoming an awkwardness that damages the very journey of faith we are trying to encourage. Here are four cautions that I would offer to church leaders.

1. Don’t be the class clown. Humor is hard. Leading with genuine heart is risky. When the two are unnecessarily combined by a leader, the result is the “class clown” who does not know when to be quiet. When uncomfortable, many often cover it up with an attempt at humor. But most of us are not very skilled at humor and, in the pulpit, we can drive the joke too far and come off looking immature. The sermon is not the place for a constant stream of jokes.

2. Self-deprecating humor that is a mask. Sarcasm is a prevailing mode of humor. If overly-applied to ourselves, however, it can get a lot of laughs at first and cover up a great deal of transparency in the end. In the bid to be authentic, we can find an issue in our lives that everyone thinks is humorous and continually make fun of ourselves about it. By doing so, we are just entertaining rather than being confessional about the true issues that we struggle with in life.

3. Revealing details that inflict pain rather than heal it. Every leader must find the line between being confessional and dredging up pain in the lives of others. It is a difficult decision but one that should be made. Should every pain in your life be available for public consumption? What will happen in the lives of those listening to you if you share “that” thing? The settings in which you are authentic about some arenas of life will differ from issue to issue. In our authenticity, we must never degenerate to being shock jocks.

4. Confession that borders on egotism. The biblical injunction that we are to be a confessing people is a life to be lived, not a point to be made. As a pastor, transparency should come with no ulterior motives. As those who stand with a platform and a microphone, we must constantly guard against our own egos taking control. A love for attention can drive us to an “I’ve been more real than anyone else” syndrome of arrogance.

The two solutions that can bring a resolution for all of these foibles are simple.

First, carefully plan your words. Revealing private details before your church family should be as carefully planned as the rest of your sermon. Secondly, put the needs of others before yourself. The feigned humility that comes from being the “most real” person in the room will help your leadership credentials for a very short season. We should consider how our candidness helps or hurts the church family listening to us. Our authenticity should never be used as an awkward crowbar to leverage the same from others. Rather, offer yourself as a living sacrifice to Christ first, and then allow Him to lead you into faithful community with the church.


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


6 Marks of a Maturing Church

In Acts 9, we read the story of Saul’s conversion and beginnings of his ministry. It was a rocky start as the church was suspicious of his trustworthiness. But after the start of his public ministry, the church accepted him and began to saw additional growth because of what God was doing through Saul. In the 31st verse of the chapter, a description is made of how the church was beginning to mature and minister in a hostile culture. I find that there are six marks in this single verse.

So the church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace, being built up and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, and it increased in numbers. -Acts 9:31

1. Widespread. It describes the church as having already reached “throughout Judea, Galilee, & Samaria.” It is both a comment on geographic boundaries and cultural boundaries. People were carrying the gospel to various regions and various types of people. To say that the church was in Judea was expected, but to see it spreading among the Samaritans was not. Many of the early believers were ethnically Jewish, and they did not associate with the Samaritans. It signals to us that we must seek to increase the borders of the kingdom on this world despite cultural, ethnic, economic, and social differences. Don’t ever be intimidated by the systems of the world when you are sharing the gospel of God’s kingdom.

2. Unity. The church “had peace.” I think this is a commentary on how they existed in the culture and how they treated one another. For the moment, think about what it means inside the church family. It is when you see unity among the diversity. Uniformity should discarded as useless pandering to control-hungry leaders. Instead, we need to pin our unity on the idea of working toward the gospel goal of seeing the world know Christ as Lord and experiencing Him as friend. When we all drive toward the mission of the church, then unity is easy.

3. Development. The verse also tells us that the church was “being built up.” The Greek words used in the phrase find their literal usage in the construction of a house. The church was growing up. The right pieces were being put in the right place. It is a sign that strength was being added to the structure so a healthy fellowship could continue. The outward ministry was being coupled with inner growth. For a church to mature, it needs both.

4. Holiness. As the church developed, it was “walking in the fear of the Lord.” I love the phrase because it signals the depth of what holy living truly is. Though holiness includes morality, it is not the sum total of holiness. Rather, it is a lifestyle in which the awe of God is carried with you at all times. The church, in these days and in our day, should be marked by the presence of God. Our behavior is changed by our view of how different God is from us. Consequently, our transformation by the gospel means that we are now set apart for the Lord’s purposes that we joyfully fulfill in our everyday living.

5. Momentum. Knowing that we are called to holiness, it becomes natural because the church receives “the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.” Unbelievable but true. He indwells believers so that, individually and collectively, we can be emboldened to ministry and mission. On your worst day when the whole world seems to be caving in, the Holy Spirit has the desire to encourage you. When church life is at its toughest because of temptations from without and trouble from within, the Holy Spirit never abandons us. The God of the universe wants to encourage the church.

6. Growth. From all of the rest that we see described, the church “increased in numbers.” Through the ministry and the investment in outsiders, the church grew. I am unashamed in my desire for the church to numerically grow. It seems to me that from the witness of the Bible that God wants more people converted, more people experiencing grace, more people ministering, and more people coming to know Him as Savior. The church should want the same and work with everything we have to see it happen. A mark of a maturing church is that it focuses on the ministry that will persuade people to the truth of the gospel and the beauty of knowing Christ.


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


10 Questions Every Pastor Should Ask on Monday

Sunday is over. A new week of ministry has begun. If you are a pastor like me, here are ten questions we should ask ourselves.

  1. Do I pastor just for the emotional charge of preaching?
  2. How deep is my love for the people in my church?
  3. Are there members that I’m avoiding because I don’t like them?
  4. Are there issues in my church that I’m avoiding because they scare me or I’m intimidated by the people involved with the issues?
  5. Am I leading by the power of the Spirit or by my own cleverness?
  6. Is my prayer life intense or waning?
  7. When I study the Bible, does it include study that is purely personal?
  8. Are there people in my life who are able to hold me accountable for mistakes I make?
  9. Do I still love God’s calling to ministry and am I willing to give my everything to Him?
  10. If I had another pastor who had less than a stellar answer to any of the above questions, what biblical counsel would I give? Am I willing to follow the same truth I would give to others?

Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


5 Types of Preaching

When preaching, I often try to measure up the listeners in the room. I want to know if they are engaged, bored, drowsy, or prepared for the time of worship and the Word. More often than not, my assessment should start with myself. As a pastor, I need to evaluate my own heart and preparedness for the moment of the sermon. In doing so, I’ve come up with five generalized styles of preaching: four of which need to be guarded against and one that I hope is the regular manner in which I preach.

1. Pulpitainment: In this manner, being clever replaces stating truth plainly. The truth is in there, but you have to listen for it in the punchline, the video clip, or the story told by the preacher. We all know it is necessary to keep the listeners engaged in what we are saying. The glitch is that we think the Scriptures will not do so and therefore we have to drum up something more interesting to hold their attention. The right staging, songs, illustrations, and all the rest can be parts of a great worship service… as long as it is pointed to worshiping God. Don’t give in to the temptation to entertain the audience and forget that the time is primarily for the mission of the King.

2. Pulpiteering: The preacher becomes the point of the sermon. It happens when humility gets replaced by your ego. It is not done on purpose (I hope). However, there are times when the preacher wants to “assert his authority” in such a way that proves he is the leader of the church. This boisterous, blustery preaching exalts the man and loses the gospel message.

3. Over-Sharing: I’ve written before about how excessive authenticity leads to awkwardness. The preacher must present himself as a real person with real struggles. Any hint of a plasticized life will ring hollow. But a little authenticity goes a long way. You must know your congregation and understand how much to share before it all becomes awkward for the listener. We must not allow our transparency to become the only thing people remember when they leave the service. Be genuine but don’t use transparency and/or confession as a way to leverage a response from people.

4. Exegete-Only: Exegesis is a necessary part of sermon preparation. However, Hebrew or Greek word studies should not replace teaching the text’s truth and application. The exegetical process is wonderful for preparation, but in a sermon, it is quickly sterilized information. Plus, spouting off about your knowledge regarding ancient languages and customs can be a breeding ground for intellectual pride. Additionally, no one really cares about the eighteen derivations of that Hebrew noun. Use the information to give clarity to people, but don’t let Bible background information drive your sermon.

5. Passage-Driven Exposition: The preacher’s work is to expose the truth about God in the Scriptures to people in desperate need of transformation. To do so, it requires engaging people with the power of the Bible. In fact, the preceding list of possible speaking styles can all be effective when subservient to the scriptural text and used with wisdom. The preacher should be engaging and not boring because the text is alive with the power of God. The preacher should speak with a commanding demeanor because the subject matter is the commanding power of the gospel. The sermon should have a confessional attitude because everyone from the preacher to the listener is coming under the authority of God. Exegetical work and other preparation should show up in the content of the sermon because the pastor takes the work seriously to study diligently for the moment of preaching.

In the end, I want to preach a Bible kind of message in a Bible kind of way. If it is a narrative passage, I preach the story. When it is prophetic, I raise my voice and declare the oracles of God. As I cross into the epistles, I teach the principles. But in all of the various genres of the Bible, we must never lose the sense that we are communicating eternal truth in their temporary place to people who need gospel transformation. To that end, I am determined to let the passage God unveils before me to drive both the content and the manner of my preaching.


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


Spiritual Warfare: Real Struggle. Real Victory.

Ephesians 6:14–17

  • Spiritual warfare. Sounds like a movie on the SyFy channel. Aliens vs. Predators or Sharknado
  • Whole concept seems strange and foreign to us.
  • But... we’ve sensed it; watched it; experienced it as a church; been attacked as individuals.

What is our problem with Spiritual Warfare?

Two polar opposite ideas have affected our approach.

1. It’s a Fairy Tale. Anti-biblical secular thought that deadens our thoughts.

2. It’s Spiritual Paranoia. Unbiblical hyper-spiritualized teaching that there’s a demon behind every corner. If I oversleep, it was a pillow demon.

  • One side mocks. The other side gawks.
  • Paul’s view… Ephesians 6:10–13
  • Spiritual battle rages around us. So fierce that God entered the battlefield to protect us: Warrior King!
  • In Joshua He is the Captain of the Army of the Lord.
  • In Isaiah, He is the deliverer who arms Himself to rescue
  • In the Gospels demons tremble before Him.
  • On the cross He delivers the deathblow to the darkness.
  • In the resurrection, He seals the fate of the evil one.
  • In Revelation, He is the conquering King who rides a stallion and has a flaming sword.
  • Not a sanitized, sappy Hallmark-movie-version of Jesus. Not a Hippie Jesus who dances around the countryside singing songs with the disciples. Not the pretty movie Jesus with perfect hair and Miss America smile.
  • We serve a Warrior King who does not fear darkness or death.
  • We don’t stand on the battlefield alone.
  • What is the truth about warfare? Christ’s Victory Is Our Victory.
  • We don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory.
  • We get this call to arms (v.13): “take your stand”
  • Don’t give in to fear because we are not left defenseless.

We stand with the Warrior King who prepares us for battle and fights with us.

  • Complete armor to prepare us with His work for us.

What is our stance in spiritual warfare?

1. Stand Confident in Righteousness – v.14

  • Leather apron hung under the armor to the thighs
  • W/O: vulnerable to the assaults of vital organs, chest
  • The gospel is the message that we’ve been transformed.
  • “Righteousness” = we are in a right relationship with God
  • Clothed in the righteousness of Christ—our robe of victory and our armor for battle.
  • You are not barely suited up for battle. God has put His good character on you.

When you are accused by the enemy of being no good, useless, weak, and worthy of only being discarded—then stand up in the truth of God’s love and the righteousness that He has given you.

2. Stand Ready in the Gospel – v.15

  • Sandals improve mobility, stabilized, prevent sliding
  • Move surely—ready to plunge into battle.
  • Picture of readiness and preparation with message of peace
  • Hold fast to a position that’s already been won
  • Carry message of light into battle against darkness by proclaiming the good news
  • Ready to jump into the middle of battle
  • Illustration) Football player who has pads on and then goes home would be ridiculous.

When you see others under attack from sin and its devastating work, then stand up by living in and carrying the gospel to them.

3. Stand Protected in Faith – v.16

  • Qualifies this section with “in every situation”
  • The shield was designed to stop the fiery arrows
  • The shield covered the whole person.
  • Protects us INTERNALLY: from every temptation to ungodly behavior, doubt, and despair.
  • EXTERNALLY: Against persecution & false teaching

When the enemy comes after you with temptation and the world is hard (and those are constant), we must stand in faith. We must be reliant in faith that God is good, He will not abandon, He does not change His mind.

4. Stand Prepared in the Word of God – v.17

  • Helmet designed to withstand the heavy blows
  • Often decorative to indicate the army in which you belong.
  • Salvation protects us and shows off whose/who we are.
  • Sword is only weapon for defense and attack.
  • It is the Word of God.
  • Cuts people’s defenses, through their conscience, and awakens them.

When you are tired of the enemy making headway… and I hope you are… then take your stand in God’s Word. Read it, consume it, study it, discuss it. It is God’s gift of how He reveals Himself to us. It is the truth when the fog of war rolls around us and we are confused. Stand on God’s Word and declare salvation to others and remind yourself of God’s good work for us. 

Conclusion:

  • We are dressed with Christ’s armor and, therefore, display the characteristics of the anointed one in our attitudes, language, and behavior. In this way, we resist the evil one, giving him no opportunity to gain an advantage over us.
  • Christ has already won the victory
  • Christ’s victory is our victory.
  • While God supplies the armor, it is our responsibility to take it up, put it on, and use it confidently against the powers of the evil one.

We stand with the Warrior King who prepares us for battle and fights with us.


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


10 Ways to NOT Mess up Your Easter Service

The holidays are a time that we can sometime swing to extremes. As leaders in the church, we are not immune to the temptations. In fact, they seem to become heightened as we plan for the special services of the year. Questions are asked about maximizing impact and involving new people into the life of the church. Other questions sneak in such as how we make the music better, the service more memorable, and the like. It is all an exercise in understanding the “why” behind the “what.”

The “why” must be to introduce the greatness of Christ and the truth of His gospel to people’s lives. Here are ten ideas about how to not misstep on planning for Easter Sunday.

  1. Clearly make the whole service about Jesus. It is not about the children’s choir, worship band, cool sermon graphics, or any other such thing. Make sure everybody and everything points to Jesus.
  2. Don’t try to be so clever that people miss the message. At a holiday service, it is tempting to change how you preach for the nebulous goal of “connecting with new people.” Preacher, be yourself and teach like a normal human being.
  3. Do not brag about everything your church is doing in an attempt to win people into regular attendance. If you try to announce/cover/boast about the whole church calendar, you’ll just overwhelm and distract.
  4. Never, ever berate the listener. Tell them why Jesus is so worthy, why the kingdom is so wonderful, and why the life of faith is one of hope. Help them face the facts that the world is hard and sin is killing them. But don’t beat up people who are already beaten up.
  5. Offer hope. Life is hard. The faithful members of your church need to be reminded of the hope we have. The first-time guests need to be introduced to the fact that hope exists.
  6. Start preparing immediately for Easter Sunday. Pastors and worship leaders should already be discussing what will be the same and what will be different on Easter. Prepare your volunteers for any changes.
  7. Recruit extra volunteers now for the children’s and preschool ministries. You do not want to be the church that has to announce: “We don’t have enough workers in the Preschool classes today. Who will go help us out?” It signals to guests that you really don’t care about their kids and have low standards about who is keeping them.
  8. Make plans for announcing a new Bible study group (or groups). Help people understand the value of small groups for their spiritual growth.
  9. Decide how you will encourage people to make a decision in response to the gospel. However your church chooses to do it, make sure it is clear to the listener, easy to navigate, and any volunteers necessary are prepared for their ministry.
  10. Pray expectantly. In fact, you can probably discard the first nine items on this list if you will engage most aggressively in this one thing. In his book Preacher and Prayer, E.M. Bounds wrote:

What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men who the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow though methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.

I hope you and your church will have an amazing Easter Sunday.


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


5 Simple Strategies for Better Communication

Communication is a key component to leadership. If you are communicating, then you are leading in some way. Here are five principles that you can begin using immediately to help you communicate, and thus lead, better.

  1. Use positive language. Draw people to your point by inspiring them. If you paint a brighter future, people will desire to listen and follow. A quick listen to great speeches like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address or Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech faced the difficulties of the present day. But they also move on to describe the promise of something greater.
  1. Avoid alarmism. Leading through times of crisis is necessary. Creating a constant environment of crisis is demotivating. Eventually, if every circumstance is a cause for alarm, people will stop listening and simply give up hope. Change is inevitable, and and it is always accompanied by a cost. However, you can help people through it by not sounding the crisis alarm with your language.
  1. State how it is easy to understand what we are doing. The constant use of phrases like “This is tough to understand” or “This will be hard for some people to do” becomes principles to follow rather than warnings to help. Instead, as you prepare, plan out simple steps for everyone listening to follow through on easy actions.
  1. Use more simple words. Speakers and leaders read so much on the subject matter in which they lead that the natural tendency is to get bored with the standard language and a slight obsession with new words that accompany their discipline. Remember that your audience has not done the same. It is fine to introduce a new vocabulary to your audience but you must do so in such a way that it does not distract from your core message. Instead, use more simple language than complex so that you are immediately and easily understood.
  1. Tell great stories. Everyone loves a great story, and stories are everywhere. You can write an original illustration, adapt a real-life situation, use a historical narrative, or find something from the recent news headlines. Telling great stories will help the audience connect all of the principles you teach to the every day life that they lead.

Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


8 Church Ministry Trends to Consider

I watch church trends. The last few years have been an interesting journey for the church in the United States. As I observe the work of the church in our country, I’ve noticed eight trends that we should all consider. Many of these are difficult to quantify by a research project, but they are all having an impact on the landscape of ministry.

1. Multisite: According to the findings from Leadership Network/Generis, there are more than 8,000 multisite churches in the United States. Whether you consider a digital form of circuit-riding preachers, a new form of church planting, or just a healthy model—it is going to be with us for a while. We can learn a great deal about how to multiply leaders in our churches as a result of this movement.

2. Deeper divides: With the same new tools that are being used to call for revival, they are being used to deepen the divide between various streams of Christianity. Simply addressing the realm of Evangelicals, I can regularly find voices shrieking over several discussions: between the theologically-driven and the methodologically-driven church, Calvinism and non-Calvinism (though we struggle for a name for it), worship wars (yes, this is still a thing), and highly programmed versus highly organic church models.

3. Teaching Teams: Churches are doing more to access the giftedness of those in this membership when it comes to the Sunday preaching or teaching in worship services. The rise of teaching teams is harder to track, but we are seeing more churches rely less on one super-preacher and more on how God has gifted many people in the body. Personally, I lead a teaching team in our church and find it to be a healthy way to study better.

4. Tribalism: Because we have moved far past the constraints of geography dictating association, tribalism is, in some ways, overtaking denominationalism. Formerly, if you were a Presbyterian in Kansas City, then you associated with others of your denomination in the region. Now, you can join any tribe you wish based on ministry methodology, social cause, missiological orientation, and an endless list of factors. Networks are now the “cool kids” that everyone wants to sit with at the lunch table.

5. Bivocational staff members: Bivocational ministry has been around since the apostle Paul was making tents to earn a paycheck. But today more mid-sized and larger churches are staffing with bivocational ministers. Similar to teaching teams, it is a way to leverage the giftedness of people in the church in a renewed way.

6. Smaller facilities: Anecdotally, it seems as if adult Bible study groups meeting in homes is on the rise while groups meeting on campuses is on the decline. Local congregations will have to determine if that is good or bad for them. However, fewer churches are investing large sums of money to build traditional education buildings. In some cases, churches are using facilities that intentionally put them into multiple worship services so that they can save on building and/or build-out costs.

7. Continued growth of parachurch ministries focused on global justice: Denominations have systems by which their congregations can do mission work domestically and internationally. However, with limited funds, most have chosen to focus on a precious few goals; like church planting, evangelism, and disaster relief work. It leaves a wide field of work to parachurch groups that have a laser focus particular issues. Orgainzations like the Gideons International exist to distribute Bibles. Groups like Compassion International dedicate their work to releasing children from poverty and introducing them to the gospel of Jesus. More congregations are working through such groups to accomplish their church’s mission.

8. New ways to call for revival: Many local pastors have renewed their call, prayers, and work for a sweeping revival in the United States. It is a great thing that seems to always bubble under the surface for the church. With new tools like social media and electronic books, the call is taking on a new form, which is good.


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


10 Ways to Give a Terrible Presentation

On a regular basis, I present information. Weekly, I preach sermons and teach Bible studies. Periodically, I teach at universities. On top of those, I also speak at leadership conferences of different types. Suffice it to say that I’ve been a bad presenter in the past and have been witness to some bad presentations in my time. Honing my presentation skills is something that has required a fair amount of discipline in my life… which is a joy to give so that the truth being discussed is not muddled by communication goof-ups.

PowerPoint (and all of its digital equivalents) is a great tool for speakers, teachers, and presenters of all sorts. As we’ve all watched presentation moments die in front of us, let me give 10 warnings about how not to use PowerPoint.

(For the easily offended among us, please take note that I have my tongue planted firmly in my cheek for the following list. Enjoy.)

  1. Put too many words on a slide. After all, the more words you put on the screen, the less people will actually listen to what you are saying.
  2. Repeat this on every, single slide. Every time a new slide comes up, make sure it is a flood of words that distracts the listener from the point you are actually making.
  3. Read every word on every slide. Assume your audience is not intelligent enough to actually consume the information.
  4. Use lots of sweeps, pop-ins, fly-away transitions. The use of distracting movement, noises, and odd effects will surely enhance your presentation.
  5. Include dated clip art. After all, there is no need to use nice photography of real people and real life to illustrate how a principle relates to everyday situations.
  6. Don’t set up early. Let everyone watch you wrestle through the set up process and then ask the audience for help. It is so endearing to watch you struggle.
  7. Talk into the screen. When speaking, turn your back on the audience and face the screen while you talk so they understand your priority is on your information rather than on their learning.
  8. Use, at minimum, one slide per minute of talk time. Rushing through more slides than you have time shows that this was a talk “from your heart,” rather than one of those sterile “I prepared diligently for this time” presentations.
  9. Forget the order of your slides. Make sure it is a surprise every time you go to the next slide so you and the audience can share in the next digital treat.
  10. Use it as the point rather than the tool. Spend all of your time preparing your slides rather than your talk to ensure maximum dullness and ineffectiveness.

Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


21 Questions to Ask Other Leaders

A leader needs to be a learner. And the learning needs to be constant. It proves itself to be true over and over again that you can learn from anyone in any leadership position. In fact, some of the greatest leadership lessons I have gained have been from those who felt they were in “lower” positions. The idea of this was driven home for me when LifeWay Research (which I was a part of for three years) did the study for Transformational Church. Many of the pastors that we interviewed based on the health of their church would ask, “Why me? Why are you interviewing a pastor like me in a normal church like this?” What they did not know is just how important their leadership was to the life a church that we needed to learn from.

Leaders, as a group, look for the superstars among our particular type of organization and learn from that perceived top echelon. Pastors are no different. So, my encouragement is that no matter what work you do, learn from everyone you can.

As I’ve been mulling over how I can more intentionally learn from others, I began putting together a list of questions that I hope to pose to more and more people. When I meet other leaders, here’s what I want to know.

1. What book has had the greatest impact on your understanding of leadership?

2. What are the most important “nuts and bolts” lessons that you can give me?

3. What are your reading habits?

4. What blogs do you read on a regular basis?

5. Who are the historical figures who have influenced you the most?

6. What other arenas of leadership to look to learn from?

7. Tell me about the pieces of technology, apps, and software that help you the most.

8. Did anyone put you through an intentional plan for leadership development? What was the plan?

9. Do you have a plan to intentionally develop yourself as a leader?

10. Do you have a plan to intentionally develop others into leaders?

11. How do you separate yourself effectively from work to rest?

12. What are your main goals in leadership?

13. Describe your process for developing a vision and mission for your organization.

14. What is your daily schedule of work?

15. How do you design and hold a great meeting?

16. Do brainstorming meetings really work? If so, how do you do one well?

17. What do you do with a team member who has bad chemistry with the rest of the team?

18. What offenses require you to immediately terminate someone’s employment?

19. What are the best hiring practices and processes you’ve used or seen?

20. How do you admit and fix a problem in your leadership?

21. What do you want to go back and change?


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.


Why Gutenberg Printed the Bible

Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable-type printing press in the 1400s. With it, he helped revolutionize the Western culture world. The first book of significance he printed was the 42–line Gutenberg Bible, which took him years to finish and ultimately bankrupted him. He recorded why he endeavored on the work (source). It is a great reminder to all people of faith as to why we should never give up on the work of God’s mission.

God suffers in the multitude of souls whom His word can not reach. Religious truth is imprisoned in a small number of manuscript books which confine instead of spread the public treasure.

Let us break the seal which seals up holy things and give wings to Truth in order that she may win every soul that comes into the world by her word no longer written at great expense by hands easily palsied, but multiplied like the wind by an untiring machine.

Yes, it is a press, certainly, but a press from which shall flow in inexhaustible streams the most abundant and most marvelous liquor that has ever flowed to relieve the thirst of men.

Through it, God will spread His word; a spring of pure truth shall flow from it; like a new star it shall scatter the darkness of ignorance, and cause a light hithertofore unknown to shine among men.


Philip Nation is the adult ministry publishing director for LifeWay Christian Resources. Find out more on his blog.