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Training Resources

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When Does the Easy Part Come?

My name is Jack and I am a recovering que sera sera Christian. I wonder how many other que sera sera Christians are squandering the privilege of being on mission for Jesus Christ. That’s the word that really catches in my throat: “privilege.”

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Regarding People

The goal in discipleship is to be neither a cynic nor an optimist, per se, but to be a realist looking through the lens of the Spirit’s power. What I mean is that our attitude toward someone’s growth must be dependent on God’s promise to will and to work, not on the immediate results we currently see.

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The Anti-Disciple Maker

How many of the people wandering the halls of our building on a Sunday morning have taken in far more knowledge than they’ve actually been able to apply? How many people are going from class to class and sermon to sermon gathering information that isn’t leading to transformation?

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Choosing the Right Discomfort

There are two kinds of discomfort in life, and we have to pick one of them. The first is good and the second is bad.

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Speaking Without Speech

You never know what’s around the corner, as the saying goes. Neither did I know what was on the other side of the door as I was departing a skilled nursing center recently.

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The Art(s) of Discipleship

With the exception of the occasional Mozart born every few decades, everyone needs a teacher to show them how to master their art. I’ve had writing teachers and music teachers my whole life. A French horn was just a useless hunk of metal until my teacher taught me how to use it in the way its designer intended.

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Why Witness?

What if turning the corner in becoming an effective evangelist isn’t following a new strategy or even a firm kick in the pants, but taking time to soak in the good news of the Gospel for your own life?

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What Am I Waiting For?

Grocery store lines are comprised of human beings, people with eternal souls who need to hear the Gospel. They aren’t barriers; they’re image-bearers.

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Playing the Long Game

We live in a country of immediacy. We all know this and it’s constantly bemoaned or praised by sources begging us to slow down and smell the flowers or pushing us to speed up and smell the new iPhone.

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You Are What You…

What are those things that most shape you? What makes you who you are? What guides your decisions throughout the day? These are huge questions that dictate how you live your life each and every day!

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Does God Want Me To Be Happy?

Does God want us to be happy or does He want us to be holy? Actually, He wants both, and in His wisdom He has created us in such a way that we only find our highest happiness in Him.

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Unity and Peace: Does My Effort Matter?

Have you heard of the traditional “seven deadly sins?” It’s likely you have, but have you heard of the seven so-called “heavenly virtues?” One of these heavenly virtues makes healthy disciple-making relationships possible.

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The Things We Endure

A devoted follower of Jesus must love His Church for her deepest universal and spiritual reality, her mission, and her true essence: the people. This doesn’t mean ignoring or not addressing a local church’s flaws; it means that a focus on the transcendent splendor of Christ and His bride will cause these flaws to be less central.

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Making Disciples Together

None of us should try to pursue intentional disciple making on our own. We all need others around us to spur us on in this difficult but worthy endeavor.

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Now What Pleases You?

When something dawns on you for the first time, do you get that take-your-breath-away feeling? “Breathtaking” as an adjective is like “amazing.” It’s sort of like having a heart palpitation which catches your breath for a moment. New insights can be overwhelming!

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Until the Other…

Perhaps this relational depth is most difficult because it gives that person permission to speak into our life the same way—to tell us the things we need to hear but don’t want to. It’s one of the beautiful pains of being a part of the Body of Christ.

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A Two-Week Tango with Pareto and Parkinson

In the last two weeks, I hung out with a dead Italian economist and a guy whose name is more associated with a disease than with productivity.

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The Deep-Water Challenge: Plunge In and Demonstrate Confidence

The prospect of adversity tends to intimidate us into giving up the fight rather than challenging us to confidently soldier on through exhausting trials. But that’s one of the reasons God has given us leaders who help us when we can’t touch the bottom any longer.

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A Quick Summary

The ability to summarize helps us train and teach others because it is essentially the act of teaching ourselves. It only makes sense; put a complex concept in simple terms and it will be more accessible to me as well as others.

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Label the Bones

For those who want to make disciples, labeling the bones is an expression of that foundational instructional skill we call synthesis, which allows us to move the concepts of Scripture into the hearts of people and the contexts they understand.

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The Fighter Verses App: A Powerful Tool for Memorization

Scripture tells the truth, and memorizing it can be a means for us to recall this truth amidst the lies we hear and tell ourselves.

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Why Competency isn’t Enough

What images come to your mind when you hear the word “training?” An athletic setting? A corporate on-ramp? A server shadowing another at a restaurant?

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Another Day, Another Drip: Enduring Challenges Produce Endurance

The drip, drip of problems never stop despite wrenching the nut tighter. Yet followers of Jesus can be calm in their hearts because of the peace of God which He gives to those He is transforming day by day.

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The Goodness of Work

Work is good. Let that sink in for just a moment. Yes, there are angry customers. Yes, there are mechanical breakdowns. Yes, there are miscommunications, unjust promotions, and blowout diapers. But work is good.

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The Difficulty of Work

The toil of work is an important biblical concept God establishes here, very early in the Scriptures. God probably never meant for work to be easy, but now it’s genuinely tough, and even under the curse of God.

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The Nature of Work

Anytime we are exerting ourselves to manage God’s creation—whether that’s creating Excel spreadsheets, hauling wood, or changing diapers—we are working.

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An Introduction to the Faith and Work Movement

Christians should live all of their lives in a manner pleasing to God, not just offering Him their explicitly spiritual activities. Our trouble seems to be in figuring out how this works.

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Disciple-Making Motivation

When you think about pursuing the disciple-making process, what gets you motivated? What drives you to want to share the good news and introduce people to Christ? Or, another way to think about it: in moments of discouragement, how do you keep going?

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Breaking Through Prayer Barriers

Prayer is something that every believer would say is important. Nonetheless, many of us have struggled with prayer and find it difficult.

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Disciple-Making Obstacles

We are over a month into 2017, so I challenge you to consider what things get in the way of you being an ambassador for Christ in your workplace, in your neighborhood, in our city, and around the world.

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Taking a Different Route to Work

Have you ever taken a wrong turn out of sheer habit?

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Disciple-Making Reboot

As we begin the new year, rededicate yourself to the endeavor of reaching those who don’t yet know Christ.

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Disciple-Making is a Form of Leadership, Part 2

The difference between disciple-making and leadership might not be as big as we think.

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Disciple-Making is a Form of Leadership

Sound, biblical principles of leadership will make you more effective as a disciple-maker.

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Make the Most of Christmas

In a season of hustle and bustle, taking a few minutes to intentionally plan ways to share about the good news of Jesus is key.

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Great Questions, Part Two

This week we continue with the topic of questions for dialogue, offering three more basic questions for productive disciple-making interactions.

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Great Questions

It is very easy in interactions with others to assume we must drive the conversation, and sometimes we talk at people rather than drawing them out.

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The Advantage of Writing Stuff Down

When I entrust information to my brain, not only do I risk forgetting things, but I also end up using mental energy that could go somewhere else. Instead, if I write things down, I can “clear the mental decks” and be free to think and respond to what’s in front of me.

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Thanksgiving as a Disciple-Making Tool

During this time of the year, Thanksgiving is a popular topic in sermons, articles, social media posts, radio talks, and more. We who make disciples of Christ seek to be attuned to our cultural situation and to be “wise as serpents” (Matthew 10:16).

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The Time-Expanding Power of Humility

Study leadership for any length of time—at least from a Christian perspective—and you will find out about the foundational importance of humility in a leader.

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The Best Place to Make Disciples is…

I have wondered if we might be missing the most opportune location for disciple-making. Have we found the best place to make disciples yet? What if it has been under our noses this whole time, but we have missed it?

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Disciple-Making, Agro-Gastronomically Speaking

If you stop and reflect on your week, what one adjective would you use to describe the things that have been on your mind? Exciting? Discouraging? Energizing? Gloomy?

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Uniting Prayer and Scripture

Prayer is so fundamental to the life of a Christian that it’s almost a disservice to call it a spiritual discipline; it’s more like breathing.

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Reading the Bible Through the Lens of Jesus

As you read the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, work hard to understand it. At some point you’ll want to look for specific things in your life to practice or change, but before you do that, take some time simply to reflect on Jesus.

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Leapfrogging

Contrary to our expectations, perhaps, ministry to the circles further away from us tends to be more comfortable than ministry to the circles closest to us.

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Understanding Ethos

While we might not make an explicit appeal to our own character when sharing a message, our character and integrity speak without words and are either consistent or inconsistent with what we say.

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The Seasonality of Disciple-Making

Don’t be discouraged as disciple-making relationships may undergo changes in the same way our natural environments undergo seasonal changes.

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Disciple-Making Directs People to Jesus

How easily we forget that Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations is a call to connect people to Jesus himself!

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Disciple-Makers Impact Christians and Non-Christians

Those of you who have been around Grace for a while, or others who have read our posts and heard our sermons, may have wondered, “Why do they use the term disciple-making instead of discipleship?”

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Disciple-Making is a Cooperative Endeavor

Americans tend to be highly individualistic and self-sufficient, but if we are to be effective disciple-makers we must grow to think more in terms of “We” than “I.”

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Disciple-Making as a Process

While it is true that there are critical events in a disciple’s life, most notably the moment at which he or she crosses from death to life, we as disciple-makers must adopt a long and broad view of disciple-making if we are to carry out the Great Commission.

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Disciple-Making is Bible-Based

The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16–20) is dense and brilliant in defining what disciple-making is all about, and it is in the Great Commission that we find a second characteristic of true disciple-making: it is Bible based.

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What Do We Mean by “Disciple-Making?”

To us, “multiplying devoted followers of Jesus” and “making disciples of all nations” are the same thing. We at Grace believe that all we do should be oriented toward this calling.

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How to Pray for Someone

Is it just me, or is praying for someone not quite as simple as it sounds?

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Ministry to the Whole Family

It’s true that there are obvious differences between western culture (a broad term in itself) and cultures we find in Asia or Africa. Most notable may be the degree of individualism that we see in the west, which contrasts starkly with the more collectivist mindset of other parts of the globe.

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Club Sports (And Other Big Commitments): Could They Be Good for Christians?

Club sports have become a major feature of American culture, at least for families with school-age children. Though they have been around for a long time, club sports have become more intense recently, demanding more and more hours, and routinely usurping traditional sacred times of the week (most notably Sunday mornings). The American church’s response to this dynamic has been primarily negative.

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Becoming a Better Storyteller

If you hang around people with a passion for disciple-making long enough, you start to see certain characteristics emerge. Good disciple-makers tend to be fluid in the way they approach their days and avoid rigidity in the interest of responding to God’s Spirit. They are also consistent in their efforts to connect with people, and to connect people with one another. Most of them, furthermore, are good storytellers.

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The Role of Obedience in Disciple-Making

Just like Jesus and the early disciples, you can supplement your Gospel preaching by teaching people to follow the commands of Christ even before conversion.

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The “Whom” of Being a Witness

If God has called us to be witnesses for Christ, then a very important question arises: “To whom should I testify?” The answer is simpler than we might think.

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Review of What’s Best Next

Here we gain a practical framework not just for getting things done, but for getting the right things done, based on the highest-level perspective possible: the perspective of God himself as expressed through Jesus Christ.

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Disciple-Making Training Lesson 4: Hearing and Obeying God’s Word (Part 1)

Learn a simple and transferable method of Bible study for individuals that is designed to help you not only hear what God is saying to you in the Scripture, but also to obey what He’s told you.

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Fruitful Disciple-Making

Abiding is, at some level, an abstract concept. On its face the word strikes us with its passive tone. We should recognize, though, that abiding is not withdrawn from reality nor divorced from obedience.

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Two Pools and Two People

When we speak of two pools and two people at Grace, we are reminding ourselves of the call to multiply devoted followers of Christ, and we’re trying to put flesh on that call.

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Using the “Arrow Question”

Arrow questions strike deeper than the surface by touching on a matter of importance to the addressee. They are the sort of questions that often provoke the hearer to decide how straightforward an answer he wants to provide.

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Back to the Basics: Obeying the Word

I just can’t get away from the connection between disciple-making and coaching. There are many similarities we could mention, but one significant similarity between the disciple-maker and the coach is that both impart training in skills and character to others.

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Disciple-Making Training Lesson 6: Prayer

Frustrated by your prayer life? Hoping to help others pray? We’ve created a lesson for use in groups that will enrich your prayer life. Discover the joy and power of praying according to God’s will!

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Solutions to the Busyness Dilemma

Recall that last week we looked at the issue of busyness as it relates to disciple-making. It’s one thing to point out challenges, but we don’t want to stop there!

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The Busyness Dilemma

Many have written about the challenge that busyness poses for disciple-making. Normally the warning goes like this: if you’re too busy with all sorts of activities, you won’t have any margin in your schedule for building relationships with people. At one level this warning is convicting and warranted.

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Flipping the Classroom

“Flipping the classroom” reverses the traditional educational model. The result is a learning environment that is much more interactive and catalytic to application. How can we employ this technique in our disciple-making?

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Witness: Leveraging Your Passions

Begin taking advantage of the natural bridges you already have into the lives of others.

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Thank God for Quirky People

Lately I’ve been convicted of my often critical attitude toward other people, particularly those who are kind of quirky or just have some personality element that grates against me—this coming from a guy who more or less refused to sit in a chair in his office for a couple weeks.

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Happy People are More Effective Disciple-Makers

Did you realize that the term Gospel means “good news?” The etymology may confuse us today, but “Gospel” is simply the conflation of two Old English words: god (“good”) and spel (“news”). So, let me ask you a question today: how “good” is your good news?

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Am I the only one who has felt burnt out at times from the challenging task of reaching out to those who are far from God? Am I the only one who gets exhausted when seeking to find opportunities to share the hope of Jesus?

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Share it!

Disciple-making is a noble task, and in the interest of helping you pursue it we’re willing to go to great lengths (if you doubt this, check out our somewhat nerdy posts on helping you navigate pronouns and track down King Tiglath-Pileser III). Today we want to provide a basic challenge: share pretty much everything God is teaching you through His Word.

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The Daily Prayer Partner Calendar

In a post several weeks ago, we introduced you to the 90-Day Disciple Making Challenge by Contagious Disciple Making. One of their ideas (the one you encounter on the first day of the challenge, in fact) is so good that we wanted to pass it on to you in a separate post. We’ll call it the “Daily Prayer Partner Calendar.”

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How Do I Discover My Spiritual Gifts?

When a Christian finds out that he or she has a spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:7), it can be a perplexing pleasure. It is a pleasure because it’s nice to know that the Lord has given us a special gift to offer in service to the body of Christ. It’s perplexing because we may not know what that special gift is.

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The Theology of Canadian Humor

Canadians are funny. No, this is not some sort of half-friendly wisecrack about our neighbors to the north. My exposure to the entertainment world (think of such humorists as Dan Akroyd and Mike Myers), as well as personal encounters with a number of Canadians, confirms that there’s something going on here.

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Thanking Your “Resources”

When we started posting our Training Resources, our intention was to provide you with lots of useful tools that would benefit you as you seek to make disciples. A quick glance at our page will show that we’ve covered quite a variety of resources. Today, though, we want to alert you to a resource you already have access to.

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The Sword Method of Bible Study, Part 2

When we use the Sword Method on a passage of Scripture, the “outputs” are several insights about the nature of God and people, as well as some indications about how a person might live. These outputs are beneficial, but they’re often too general or abstract to be actionable. In order for our study process to be most effective, we have to go a step or two further.

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The Sword Method of Bible Study

When it comes to Bible study, many of our methods are so complex and individualized that they are virtually impossible to pass on. To combat this we want to offer you a simple and reproducible strategy called the Sword Method of Bible study.

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Is the Harvest Really Plentiful?

Christians who struggle to share their faith feel hampered by a number of limitations: a sense of not knowing what to say in spiritual interactions, a lack of relational connections with non-Christians, a fear of being rejected, and so on.

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Kids, Adults, and the Gospel “Click”

Whenever we share the Gospel with someone, we long for them to light up, jump for joy, and turn to Christ in faith. However, it isn’t always so obvious when someone comes to faith in Jesus. How can we know when the Gospel “clicks” for a child?

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The Three-Thirds Disciple-Making Process

Those who spend a significant amount of time investing in others eventually run into a practical question: “What should I cover when I meet with those I’m training?” Without some kind of plan, meeting times with trainees can easily dissolve into directionless conversation or teaching that never works itself out in real life.

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Teaching Them to Obey

It’s a good idea occasionally to ask important questions of ourselves to see if we are on track spiritually. Let me throw out a few simple questions that may be more revealing then they appear at first glance.

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Getting More out of Your Reading

Already in our Training Resources posts we’ve argued that reading is an important activity for leaders, but today we want to add a corollary: reading a lot and not processing what you read is something like eating a lot of food and not digesting it. This is true of reading the Bible as well as other resources. James told us not to be hearers of the Word only, but also doers of the Word (James 1:22). In an information-rich age, we particularly need to heed his warning.

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Yes, You Can Share from the Bible!

In sphere-of-life ministry there seems to be an authority challenge as well as an accessibility challenge. On the one hand, we can build into someone’s life with our own insights, which are comfortable and easily accessible to us. The problem is that our own insights have no spiritual authority in themselves. Conversely, we gain authority as we speak the Word of God to others, but expressing the biblical text meaningfully seems inaccessible to some.

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Great Words and Ideas for Sharing the Gospel with Kids

In our prior tip on child evangelism, we focused on things to avoid in witness to children. This week we turn to the other side of the equation: some great words and ideas to focus on when we share our faith with kids. As with last time, we present below three tips to make your witness to children more effective.

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3 Things to Avoid when Sharing the Gospel with Kids

We all want to be more effective in sharing the Gospel with our own kids and with others God puts in our lives, but how can we grow in this respect? So often we first try to sharpen our tactics, but perhaps a better way to begin is to consider which of our current practices we should avoid.

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Caring, Sharing, and Challenging

How do you invest in someone? This question is of immense practical importance. It is one thing for a person to recognize that God has given him the privilege of serving others and being a part of the kingdom of priests that “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It is quite another thing for that person to know how to carry out His priestly duties.

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The Value of Corporate Injustice

Many of you in our platoon of fellow warriors have occupations that put you face-to-face with injustice and interpersonal strife on a daily basis. This can be very grating, especially when those in authority over us misuse their authority and treat us unfairly.

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There’s an App for That

Committing Scripture to memory is an important element of training for effective ministry to others in our spheres of life. We recently stumbled upon an app available for iOS and Android devices that might give you some assistance in making Scripture memory a part of your daily routine.

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Sharing Your Story to Share His Story

If someone in our church was asked to share the Gospel, they’d probably dive into specific ideas, outlines, illustrations, Bible verses, and other content. They might use a napkin to draw the “bridge” illustration, whip out their Bible to travel down the Romans road, or present their favorite Gospel tract.

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Share Jesus More Naturally

When we think about being more effective evangelists in our various spheres of life the Lord has put us in, I think we need a dose of realism. I won’t forget Larry Moyer, a gifted evangelist who founded EvanTell, saying he gets nervous before every time he shares the Gospel. Spiritual interactions are the event horizon of a cosmic battle (Ephesians 6:10–20), so a degree of internal tension is appropriate.

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Developing Godly Confidence

Confidence is an often-overlooked but important aspect of any ministry endeavor. It is paramount for someone who would lead others in any direction, and this holds true for those who desire to lead others toward Jesus.

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Courage Begets Courage

Recently I had the unique privilege to travel to Central Asia and to see first-hand the challenges and joys that brothers and sisters in Christ face there. It seems almost silly to attempt to encapsulate my experiences because they were extremely rich and diverse. For our purposes today, though, I want to highlight something that smacked me in the face: life in general—and the Christian life in particular—is far less comfortable for these brothers and sisters than it is for us.

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Old Testament Timeline

The Old Testament comprises about two-thirds of the Bible’s text, but since it is further removed from us than the New Testament—culturally and chronologically—it presents particular analytical challenges. The accompanying spreadsheet attempts to help you as you study the Old Testament by laying out a relatively comprehensive timeline of the ninth through sixth centuries B.C., an era during which much important Israelite history took place.

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Read to Lead

A popular axiom in leadership circles says, “Leaders are readers, and readers are leaders.” As is the case with all axioms, this is a bit of an overstatement. Nonetheless, there’s no question that if you dig into the personal habits of a leader, generally you’ll find books.

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On the Playing Field

Most Christians recognize the importance of sharing their faith but often feel, simultaneously, they don’t share their faith enough. Some feel ill-equipped to proclaim the Gospel, some feel nervous, and still others feel they aren’t living a lifestyle that validates their message. Fortunately there is a training strategy for evangelism in all our spheres of life that proves wonderfully versatile and addresses all our hangups.

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Pushing Back

Some people enjoy a good battle, but nobody wants to be disliked. This makes challenging someone’s truth claim uncomfortable in certain situations. Saying, “I disagree,” or, “That’s wrong” can quickly draw criticism.

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Snow Rollers and Teachability

There’s always more to learn about God and His creation. When we think we know something pretty well, it’s not always the case. We need to recognize we’re always learning.

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