Monday, August 6, 2018

Letting the Back Door Swing

One of the toughest pills for a replanting pastor to swallow is that some need to leave.  Every pastor called by God is a shepherd at heart.  We don’t want to lose a single sheep, even one who disagrees with us.  Surely, we convince ourselves, they’ll come around.  We pray for them.  We walk on eggshells around them.  We lose sleep over them and get that queezy feeling in our stomachs with each phone call, text, email or Facebook post from them.

But let’s be real.  If God has called you to replant He has called you to be His agent for change leading the church back to life.  Those who will work against you and that change must be converted to the vision or they must go elsewhere.  And that’s OK.  In fact, it’s necessary.  A replanter is like a planter in this regard: God gave the vision to you.  Your job is to help others see it and embrace it as well.  Hopefully many will.  But some will not.

Taken from The Replanted Church. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A New Review!

"The Replanted Church" is a book that needs to be read by so many today. The author is a veteran pastor and church leader, faithful in his work for decades, and he speaks with wisdom and experience. Even if you are not in the trenches of full-time Christian ministry, the book is a good primer on leadership. Lawrenson gives pointers on how to creatively navigate struggles that churches of any size will face. As one who has spoken in (and served as consultant for) hundreds of churches throughout the U.S., I know many of the issues that Lawrenson so aptly writes about. Struggling congregations everywhere will benefit from this."

Thanks to my friend, author, apologist, evangelist and educator Dr. Alex McFarland for reviewing the book, The Replanted Church on 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Replant Happening in South Carolina!

I met with a young 27 year old pastor from South Carolina this morning for breakfast.  For the last 5 months he has been the pastor of a church that was about to close its doors.  But, God has him there to keep that from happening.

His church is a perfect candidate for replanting.  Although it is 130 years old, it is ripe for a new beginning.  A few months ago someone put a copy of The Replanted Church in his hands, and he's now in his second go-around with the book. 

Listening to his heart for the church - the church he grew up in - leads me to believe God's not through with them yet!  I'm excited for him and the church as they watch what God can do.

Will you join me in praying for them?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Easy-peasy? Nope.

There's nothing easy about replanting a church.  Consider the Hebrews seeking to take back their Promised Land.  During their 400 years in Egypt others moved in, squatting on their farms and living in their cities. 

"It would have been so much easier to settle in Canaan had no one moved in when they left for Egypt.  But, easy isn’t usually a part of God’s plan for us.  And if something is easily gained, it tends to also be easily surrendered." - The Replanted Church


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Change that lasts...

Change is slow.  Maybe I should say that change that lasts comes slowly.  And one reason is should be slow is that it starts with little things. - The Replanted Church.

It takes change to bring a dying church back to life.  But, it can be done!  Just know where to start with the changes.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What I Learned from Yanni and Laurel

Try as you may as a communicator to be clear in what you say, not everyone hears it.  Their presence and even an affirming nod means nothing!

Preaching since I was 16 and just finding this out now.  Good grief!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

What We Have Here is a Failure...

Perhaps nothing is both more critical and at the same time more difficult in leadership than effective communication.  Sometimes what is said isn't heard or perceived as it was intended, which leads those being led to confusion and frustration.

So, work hard at making your communications as clear as possible.  Not everyone listens well, especially in this day of texting without true verbal interaction.  And the filters we have all accumulated in our minds can affect the communication both coming and going.

"I thought I heard you say...", when that wasn't at all what you said is a perpetual challenge that even good leaders will experience.  What takes them from good to better finding ways to improve.  And there is always room for improvement in all of us.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Pros vs. Cons

We can weigh the pros vs. the cons, but ultimately we must come to the conclusion that the only way for it to fly is if God provides the wings. - The Replanted Church

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Replanted Church. Finally done.

About ten years ago I started writing the story of what God did to turn our church around.  Knowing that there are more churches (than we would like to admit) dying in America, my hope was and is that the principles God used with us will give encouragement to congregations who are circling the drain.

Last fall I was granted a Sabbatical by my church. I knew that time should be used to get the book done.  With the help of some friends in Colorado and the use of their cabin, and others who have published writings to help with the ins and outs of getting it from a file on my laptop to print, the project was finished in early February.

My amazingly talented son, Nathan, did the cover design.  Looks great, doesn't it?

Our story (at least the part in the book) begins in 1991 and goes through 1996.  Five years of seeing change come about that resulted in a healthy, growing church. 

None of it is rocket science. 

I'll be changing the look of this blog somewhat - it's been unchanged for far too long - and posting more regularly about church stuff that I've learned in an effort to help other pastors.  If you're part of a church, even if not a pastor or on staff, I hope you'll at least be challenged by some of what I post.

And if you like it, order a copy of the book!  Mostly, could you pray for those pastors and churches who read it.  My hope is for it to make a difference in the Kingdom.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Billy Graham: We’ve Lost a Giant

Facebook blew up last Wednesday. 

Every media source and the whole world (it seemed) was reporting and commenting on the news that Billy Graham had died at age ninety-nine.  We all knew it was coming soon.  We’d been thinking that for the last decade at least.  Finally, his Lord made the call and home he went.

He has had my admiration since I was a boy.  They say that he proclaimed the message of salvation in Christ in person to over 200 million people!  That doesn’t include all of us who watched his telecasts through the decades.  Suffice it to say no preacher reached as many since Jesus uttered the Great Commission to “Go into all the world” with His Good News. 

Memories are etched in my mind of him on our black and white console in the 1960’s, coming in primetime network television, pre-empting whatever was usually on.  With a Bible in one hand and extending the other, he urged men, women and young people to receive Christ at the end of his sermons.  Always. That’s because he was an “evangelist” – from the Greek it means someone who proclaims the “evangel”, the Good News of Christ. 

I’ve seen videos of the invitations he gave to “come forward”.  In some cases, people didn’t walk, they ran to trust Christ, so compelling was his message.  And as a preacher myself, I learned from Mr. Graham that the offer of salvation God has given isn’t complicated.  There are no hoops one must jump through. He loved to quote Jesus’ words, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.  It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

And so, in over 60 years of preaching they came by the hundreds of thousands – no, probably the number is in the millions – to simply receive God’s gift they heard about from a simple preacher with a simple message.  I’ve read the last few days many of those who responded at Billy Graham “crusades”.  Many are my friends.  Their lives were changed at that moment, not by Billy Graham (and he would be quick to point that out), but by their new-found relationship with almighty God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus.

He was known as the “pastor” to every American president since Harry Truman.  All of them sought him out, asking for his insights, wisdom and mostly his prayers.  And he, without partisan, obliged them all.  I have to wonder, had it not been for his influence in the White House, what might be the condition of our nation today. 

Interestingly, as a boy he preferred baseball to religion.  I detested going to church,” he said when recalling his youth.  But at age 15 something radical happened in his life.  “But finally, I was persuaded by a friend [to go to a meeting]…and the spirit of God began to speak to me as I went back night after night. One night, when the invitation was given to accept Jesus, I just said, ‘Lord, I’m going.’ I knew I was headed in a new direction.”  And as a result, generations came to hear and respond to that same invitation through this North Carolina farm boy.

We never met, although I did hear him preach once in person in Atlanta over twenty years ago.  Yet, I know he would be embarrassed if the focus of this column was on him, because he never lived that way.  He would say to me, “Rick, point them, like I did to Jesus.” 

We’ve lost a giant, both in American culture and in the Christian world.  But the hope is that those of us who knew his Savior will see him one day.  The message he preached will continue to change lives.  I know, as a Gospel preacher that I stand on the shoulders of Billy Graham, and am thankful to have lived in a generation he impacted.