Category: Ministry (page 3 of 6)

Popularity Was Not a Promise

We all want to be loved and appreciated. We all want to be treated fairly, and given the benefit of the doubt when our motives or methods are misunderstood. However, if we have chosen to be followers of Jesus, we have another reality.

Jesus told his followers, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18) That is a chilling reminder that popularity was not something Christ promised any of us, even in today’s marketing savvy church world. No matter how many orphans we rescue; no matter how many widows we help; no matter how many people we dignify with basic medical care; no matter how many water wells we fund and drill for the parched populations, we will always be misunderstood or even vilified.

Have “Christians” earned some of this scorn. Most definitely. We have been angry when we should have been prayerful. We have cursed the darkness, when we should have been the light of the world and we have focused on politics when we should have been planting life giving churches. We have pointed out the failures of others while hiding the sins of our own soul. Hypocrisy and misguided zeal deserve the rebukes of our culture. For these things, we should repent and commit to being better at reflecting the Christ who guides us daily.

But, even if we get it all right and Jesus is purely reflected in our words, thoughts and deeds, we will not be popular with everyone. We have to get over the need to be adored and, instead, cherish the love of a few. Jesus got it right, every time, but we know how that ended. Instead of being aggravated, he forgave them and even took a repentant thief with him to paradise that very day.

Let our words be marinated with grace and our hearts saturated in worship. May we follow the ways of Jesus, who did not retaliate when he was falsely accused, but instead, left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. May we love one another sincerely, serve routinely and bless others at every opportunity, without any desire for applause.

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Stories from the Dream Center

We are still a few weeks away from the public grand opening of our first Dream Center, but we are already hearing amazing stories from the women who are coming to the clinic. Our medical team began seeing a few patients about a month ago to get ready for the hundreds of women who will come once the public is made aware.

One of the first patients was a young lady who was out of work, sick, and really needed a miracle. A New Lifer told her mom about the medical clinic and she went there for help. She said afterwards, “I have hope, they really cared about me, they made me feel special. I had no idea there was such a place. The people were wonderful.”

A young, spanish-speaking lady showed up at the clinic and told us that she had never been to a doctor, ever. She had been sexually assaulted last year, but had never gone to a doctor for treatment. We were able to help her with blood work, annual exams, and gave her treatment for severe acid reflux.

Another young lady came to the clinic suffering from high blood pressure and was unable to get her prescriptions because she had been laid off from work. She was supposed to take her meds twice a day, but was only taking them a few times a week because she could not afford the refills. We were able to get her prescriptions filled for $4 a month.
All three of these ladies either wrote down additional prayer requests or asked for one of our volunteers to pray with them at the clinic. What a great opportunity to not only meet the practical needs of women in our city who would otherwise go untreated, but to also be a reflection of Jesus.
Thanks for all your prayers and support for this first Dream Center. I am so proud of the hundreds of volunteers who have made this happen. If you have not seen the clinic, join me for the grand opening on Sunday, July 31st from 3pm to 6pm. We will have more details later this month.
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Fast Food Marketing and the Local Church

Have we, as American pastors, given up our calling as shepherds and unknowingly become fast food entrepreneurs who are building a religious business and not a church? Before I dive into this, let me first confess. I am the pastor of a church with several big buildings, one of them with a cafe and a bookstore that sells products. Our stage is backed by a huge high definition screen and surrounded by lights of every color.

In many ways, we are not unlike any other mega church in America because, we too, have used marketing techniques to attract a crowd on Sundays.  But, the internal conversations among our leaders are shifting. We want to be what Eugene Peterson calls “a company of pastors” and not a company of shopkeepers. Church is not a product to be consumed like a gym membership, but rather a holy gathering of sinners who are becoming saints because of grace.

This is a blog, not a doctoral thesis, so I am not trying to give complete answers to the three questions below. Instead, I am hoping to start some conversations and maybe some helpful debate. I will ask some questions here and give some of my thoughts. I hope to create a symphony of discussion that may be helpful to leaders who are brave enough and secure enough in their calling to honestly evaluate the way we are leading our churches. Also, this is not a slam on the fast food industry, of which, I am a big fan. In fact, I might starve to death if my driver side window ever broke.

Read the three questions and consider my thoughts and then give me your thoughts.

Question #1 – Is it wrong to use marketing for our church?

I don’t think marketing is evil or carnal, as long as we are not solely leaning on worldly principles while forgetting the primary disciplines that truly build the church. Prayer is the engine of church growth, followed closely by our personal witness to others. Praying people who know they are called to a local fellowship will bring others with them to the gatherings. Slick, four-color door hangers are fine, but passionate people who love their neighbors are the real church builders.

At New Life we have banners on the outside of our church to tell people what times we meet and, from time to time, we use local media to promote events. However, we are also convinced, it’s the unseen work of the Holy Spirit birthed in prayer that really gathers the lost, the hurting and the disenfranchised.

Question #2 – What do we REALLY want?

I emphasized REALLY, because I know what most church leaders would tell me if asked this question. They would say they want to make disciples, reach the lost, and help the hurting. And they probably do. But what I hear leaders talk about most are attendance numbers and because our mouth always betrays our hearts, I suspect we have focused too much on how many are attending rather than how many are growing.

We stopped emphasizing overall weekend attendance numbers about 18 months ago. We do not talk about it in meetings or in the hallways, but we do know how many were baptized, how many went on missions trips, how many joined small groups and how many became a part of the Dream Team, which is our group of servant leaders who lead inside and outside the church.

The result has been a liberating release from the temptation to compare ourselves to other churches and a freedom from the impulse to perform solely for numbers sake.

Question #3 – Do we really know the stories of our people?

Instead of telling me attendance numbers, I would like to hear about stories. In the sea of faces, there is a surplus of stories waiting to be told. Tell me about current accounts of redemption, healing, restoration and rescue. How many that arrived is a lot less compelling to me than how many are thriving.

In a neighborhood restaurant, there are lingering unhurried conversations about stories. In a fast food restaurant, there is a hurry to get to the next customer with short blurbs of discussions about a numbered meal on a well organized wall menu. Everything in a fast food restaurant is about efficiency and excellence. Time is the master and we are the slaves.

Church for the past 2000 years has been centered around the story of our Christ, pausing to remember him in the Sacraments and interludes to celebrate the stories of a persecuted but joyful people. It has always been about the gathering of the called out ones, not the gathering of potential customers who we hope will have a great consumer experience.

I do believe in excellence and efficiency, but not at the expense of relationships and stories. We can do both – tell stories and build relationships in a environment that is warm and inviting.

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Yes, I am Having Heart Surgery

On Sunday, I told my New Life family that I would be taking a few weeks off from my role as pastor to take care of an issue with my heart. Not my spiritual heart, but my physical, real-life beating one. I will be having pulmonary valve replacement surgery on June 10th at an area hospital. I will be in the hospital for 5-7 days and recovering at home for 4-6 weeks. This surgery is fairly common and the prognosis for a full recovery is very good. In fact, my doctors say I will have more energy than ever after the surgery. So get ready for Turbo Brady in July!

In both Sunday morning gatherings I detailed my life journey as a heart patient and at the end, the elders and the church family gathered around me for prayer. I am so thankful to belong to a close knit church who embraces the power of faith and family. If you want to hear my story and see the prayer time, click here.

I am scheduled for two pre-surgery procedures in the the next few weeks, plus I plan to spend a few days with my family on vacation so I can begin the surgery journey rested. While I am gone, we will continue the sermon series, “This is My Story” with some incredible speakers who have amazing testimonies of miracles and redemption. Here is the speaking schedule:

May 29th – Tom Davis, the founder of Children’s Hope Chest and a key partner with New Life in serving orphans and the poor around the world.

June 5th – Pastor Jimmy Evans, the pastor of Trinity Fellowship in Amarillo and a New Life Overseer will share his story.

June 12th – Britt Hancock, a New Life missionary to Mexico who has incredible firsthand stories of miracles and salvations among the Indian people.

June 19th – Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family will share his story of being raised in the foster system and discovering God as dad.

June 26th – Ross Parsley will return to speak for the first time since leaving New Life to plant One Chapel in Austin, TX

July 3rd – Dave Roever, a decorated Vietnam veteran will share his powerful story of finding God in the midst of great tragedy.

July 10th – David Perkins, our youth pastor, will continue our study of the book of Luke

July 17th – I hope to return.

I am thankful for a great team of leaders at New Life who will lead well in my absence. Thanks again for all your prayers and support. I will try to post regular updates here or you can get real time updates from me on Twitter @PastorBrady

Health and peace to all of you. God is with us and He is for us.

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Monday Confessions from a Pastor – Part 2

Dear God,

It’s  the Monday after Easter Sunday, but I am sure you’re already aware of that fact.  I hope you were pleased with what happened at church yesterday. By the way, thanks for being there. Church is always better when you attend. I hope you felt honored and I did not hinder people from meeting you personally.

I realize I am already rambling here, but you know how tanked I feel on Sunday afternoons and on most Mondays.  Why can’t I be one of those pastors who are hyped after a service instead of one who feels like a can of Spam? By the way, thank you for Tuesdays. My brain and body somehow start working better then.

It was great to see 102 people baptized last night and hundreds more praying to follow you during the morning gatherings. Thanks for what you are doing in Corey and thousands of others who did not get their story told on a video. I hope you felt honored and trust that the spotlight was on you more than those of us on the stage.

Lord, help me to not be so aggravated when people give me immediate criticism about the Sunday talk or wait for me off the stage to point out one minor detail I got wrong. They should wait a day or so to give me their opinion but they don’t and probably never will. Forgive them Lord, because they have no idea how vulnerable and tired I feel right after a service. They have never been on a stage in front of people talking about life and death issues. When you give them that chance, I am sure they will then be more considerate about when to give their feedback.

Lord, help me not feel like every Sunday has to be “the best Sunday ever, in all of church history.” Not every talk has to be epic and not every worship service has to be “off the chain.” Remind all of my pastor friends on Twitter not to hype every weekend like it is the Super Bowl of all church weekends, every single week.  You know that every Sunday service is not that great, because you attend their churches, too.  Help us to build disciples with our weekend gatherings and not create consumers who expect a new and improved product every weekend.

Lord, thanks again for allowing me to pastor New Life.  Keep me focused on the important things and help me to ignore my own carnality. Thanks for the time. I hope to talk to you again real soon.



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Dream Centers Update

The opening of the first of many Dream Centers is only a few weeks away! The remodeling of the office space is almost complete thanks to a great team of volunteers and soon we will begin seeing our first patients. This first Dream Center will provide basic medical care to the women of our city who cannot afford it.

Last week, we hired a full-time Physicians Assistant who will lead the medical team. Michelle Laguens is a Naval Academy graduate who also received her medical training at George Washington University.  We are so thankful that God is sending us people who are super qualified but also called to serve our city.

We plan to have a grand opening to the general public sometimes in early July, but in the meantime, the team of volunteers will be training and learning procedures by caring for the women of several local churches.

Remember, we will have constant prayer in some rooms on the second floor of the Dream Center if you are interested in spending some time there during the week. Contact Matthew Ayers at for more information about volunteering. Thanks to everyone who has prayed, served, and contributed to this great ministry to our city.

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God Needs My Help

I was hours away from speaking to a large crowd of people and I found myself praying the typical pastor prayers.

“Help me tonight to speak clearly and effectively. You know I cannot do this without you.”

As I was praying, God interrupted. Imagine that, God had something better to say. 🙂

“Why don’t you pray that you would help me? Maybe I am up to something tonight and you could be a part.”

The way I pray before speaking has forever been changed. From now on, I will ask God to show me what He is doing and to help me to simply cooperate. It’s not about me after all, and that is a huge relief. God is active and moving among people, most of the time, invisibly.

It’s not about my performance or my communicative ability as much as I thought. It’s more about a partnership with the unseen. May we all table our agendas, our objectives and our well planned goals and, instead, simply ride the wake of what God is doing among the people whom He loves more than we can imagine.

Cooperate. Participate. Partnership.

That seems so much better than hoping I do well in front of a crowd. It seems more spiritual and more eternal. Help me God to help you.

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What makes all this worthwhile?

I was meeting with a young leader recently, talking about church, the future and all that God is doing right now in our fellowship. I found myself really excited about life and realized that I really like what I get to do everyday. Why am I so excited?  What makes all this worthwhile? These are questions that need to be discussed and answered by everyone, whether you’re a pastor or not. Here are some of my answers.

1. Life must be lived with friends.

Working alongside people you love and respect makes all the difference. In fact, I believe the camaraderie, the laughs, and the conversations will be the things we remember the most. Telling the stories of what God did among us, remembering the gaffes and the goofiness of the past are some of the most treasured times I have with friends. Not everyone around us has to be close, personal friends, but there needs to be close relationships present somewhere or the road just becomes too arduous.

2. Life must be lived for His kingdom and not for our personal empires.

When a group of people put God first and their egos and agendas last, a momentum is created that’s almost impossible to stop. When no one cares who gets the spotlight or the accolades and only God is worshipped, the atmosphere becomes ripe for miracles. I can give my life away without regrets if the end result is building something eternal that brings God glory.

3. Life must be full of experiments that lead to innovation.

I really enjoy a work environment that is full of risks, experiments and potential messes. This is when the most innovative ideas tend to surface. The moment that everything is predictable is when I get really bored and distracted. I can pastor for another 40 years if the church keeps its sense of wonder and continues asking the question, “What is the best way to do this?”

4. Life must be about others succeeding.

Life is better when we are cheerleaders. Watching others do more because of our influence and facilitating the growth in those around us really makes the tough days worthwhile. Leading is more than just telling others what to do. It’s speaking the right words at the right time, igniting passions and opening eyes to opportunities.

What makes it all worthwhile for you? What keeps you going forward with joy and purpose in every step? What would you add to this list?

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How to take a day off

The sabbath was not a suggestion. Moses included it in his top 10 and Jesus completely redefined this ancient practice to the Jewish culture who had made it a chore instead of a blessing. But, let’s be honest, most of us do not know how to take a day off without feeling guilty, restless or insecure. As a young pastor, I seldom chilled for a entire day and it almost cost me my marriage, my health and my ministry. Today, I am better at it. Here are some thoughts and suggestions to help all of us unplug and recharge our lives.

1. Tweet less or not at all.

2. Don’t look at your Facebook inbox.

3. Go on a date with your spouse.

4. Go outside and take a walk. The sun recharges our bodies more than we think.

5. Unless it’s family or one of your close friends, do not answer your phone. Voicemail is a great screening tool.

6. Don’t drink cheap coffee.

7. Talk about anything but work stuff. Note to pastors – church stuff is work stuff.

8. Wear clothes you would never wear to work. I have an awful set of t-shirts I wear on my day off.

9. Do something that makes you smile or laugh. If nothing comes to mind, read something from Dave Barry.

10. Spend time reading the bible. If you’re a pastor or teacher, do not read the text you plan to teach on Sunday. Read for yourselves today and not for others.

11. Hit yourself on the kneecap with a hammer each time you read an email from work. After a couple of emails, you will be forced to lie down and rest.

12. Spend some time completely alone. Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. We should too.

May our souls be restored and our joy return as we trust that God can do more in our lives in six days than we can accomplish in seven days on our own. The sabbath requires faith and obedience, but the rewards are incomparable.

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I remember when …

I remember when:

* children sat in church with their parents and doodled on the tithe envelopes with a golf pencil found in the pew.

* pastors wore suit and ties, but when the preaching was really good, he would take off his coat and throw it to his wife on the front row.

* cutting edge Sunday school technology were felt boards.

* there was a little sign at the front of the church that told the attendance, offering and how many visitors we had at church.

* we had church Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesday nights and to miss any of the three meetings was next to heresy.

* the only instruments in the church were a piano and an organ. Guitars and drums were for the nightclubs and bars.

* favorite songs could be identified by the page number of the holy hymnal. My favorite was #267 or  “I’ll Fly Away”. For some reason, though, we never sang the third verse of any song.

* you could get in big trouble if you got your “church clothes” dirty before church started.

* it was considered a “great Sunday” when the preacher did not preach and people prayed at the altar instead.

* people who sang “specials” never sounded that special and always had to read the words of the song off the back of a cassette label. They would say “don’t listen to me, just listen to the words.”

* the church building always smelled like sheep actually lived there during the week.

What do you remember?

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