Author Archive for stephenlawes

Child of the King, husband to Alice, father to Sarah and Douglas, grand father to Samuel, Avery, Stevie, Eloise, Reed, Madeline and Margaret, pastor to the Vineyard in Big Pine Key, sometime writer and blogger, jogger, kayaker and founder of the Jesus Moment Bible Institute and Seminary (onlinebibleinstitute.org).

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Illuminated Reading

Illuminated Reading

May 16, 20170 Comments

I am hoping to finish the final editing my latest book, “You Have the Words of Life”, here on Online Ministry Training. I have had the chapters and basic ideas mapped out for over a year but I don’t seem to be able to sit down and get it all put together. Perhaps, adding it here will give me a little motivation to get it finished. This book will be another “devotional” book but this time I am hoping to help people learn a Bible reading method that they will find helpful in their Christian walk. I like to call the method, “Illuminated Reading”. In short, it is about inviting the Holy Spirit to illuminate a verse or passage as you read through a chapter of scripture. And then, take that illuminated verse or passage and think about it throughout the day. I will be using the Gospel of John for the reading and then I will explore whatever I felt had been illuminated to me as I was reading. If I can get busy and complete a chapter a week, I should be able to have it published by Christmas.

Church Marketing Research

Church Marketing Research

May 15, 20170 Comments

Would you like to have more visitors at your church? We are going to do a series of Church Marketing articles here at Online Ministry Training. If the answer to the more visitors question is yes, then you may find the articles helpful. Having new visitors on your weekends makes things a lot more interesting. We enjoy a steady flow of visitors at our weekend celebrations. Some of them are just passing through while they are on vacation. Others are local people, some who have just moved into the area and others who have been here for a long time but have decided they want to go to or go back to church. When people in you area are looking for a church, how do they find yours? That’s where church marketing comes in. Maybe the idea of marketing your church sounds funny to you. Maybe it seems un-spiritual to you somehow. If we are praying and being the church shouldn’t the people just show up? While praying and being the church are certainly a huge part of the equation, with all of the things competing for people’s time we need to make sure that the people in our communities know that we are there.

One of the best ways to start this journey is to do a little church marketing research. A great place to start your research is The Association of Religion Data Archives (thearda.com). They provide amazing data about your community for free.

The first thing to do at The Association of Religion Data Archives is to look for the U.S. Congregational Membership Report.

Enter your zip code into the field and you will have access to a wealth of information about your community.

I will be using our area for demonstration purposes. These results represent our entire county. I live in the Florida Keys, which is a string of islands that run about 120 miles that are linked together by bridges. The population for our county is around 80,000. My island has a population of about 4000 people. In a 20 mile radius(which is the outer limits of how far someone would drive to church down here as traffic moves slowly and that 20 miles would take 35 minutes) we can reach about 25% of that number or 20,000 people. This first bar graph is one of my favorites. I like the big chunk of people represented as unclaimed. I get excited about thinking how they can be claimed for the Kingdom. These are the people that we are reaching out to. There are 48,000 unclaimed people represented on the graph. If 25% of them live in my area, that means there are 12,000 people that I would like to see get claimed for the Kingdom of God.

As you scroll down beneath the bar graph you can get some ideas about how the churches in your community are currently doing.

Being the only Vineyard church in the county really helps me with this information. At the 2010 census we had 790 people identify as attending Vineyard. That number represents adults and children. Our personal attendance records for 2010 show that we were averaging 500 people at our weekend services so that number bears out as very accurate for us. Take time to press through the various tabs on the report to see the data displayed in different ways. Knowing who you are reaching out to will shape how you plan your church marketing.

Living Invitations 3

May 14, 20170 Comments

We are including a re-cap of our weekly sermons here on Online Ministry Training. This week we talked about hospitality. The Greek word translated “hospitality” means “love of strangers”. The “hospitality” we are talking about is all about loving others through Christ and making people feel special. But it must be sincere. It must be genuine. If it is phony it won’t be effective. It is certainly our hope that through our “hospitality” people will ultimately come to know Jesus, but it cannot be a requirement. We need to love people regardless of how they respond. Love must be sincere.

Romans 12:9-13 (NIV)
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Living Invitations Part 4 Ministry Chat

May 13, 20170 Comments

This Sermon prep Ministry Chat on Online Ministry Training is bout integrity. During our celebration services this weekend we are going to begin a discussion on the spiritual battle we are engaged in on behalf of our neighbors. We are going to looking at the armor we have for the battle and this week it is the belt of truth. When I think about being a person of truth I think about integrity. Integrity is about doing the right thing, regardless of who is watching. Since we talk about living by dong the next right thing all the time, I thought this was very interesting and that it was worth all of us thinking about. Integrity is a heart issue. While at some level I want to do what is right because of my family and friends and church, is that enough if my heart really isn’t in it? If I thought that a wrong decision could be done so no one would know, would I still choose to do what is right? And that is what I think integrity is about. I think most of us have experienced justifying and rationalizing our wrong choices. No one will know. I deserve it. Life isn’t fair. Who will it hurt? I am tired of waiting. And of course, the biggest rational lie of them all, “God wants me to be happy doesn’t He?” He does, but not at the expense of your integrity.

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