Book Review

Each week TAP will focus on a particular book that we believe to be a great resource and one that we like to send to missionaries and National Pastors around the world.


The Strategy of Satan by Warren Wiersbe is a concise and easily read book on how Satan attacks the Christian.  This book is easily outlines for teaching and Bible Study.


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Church Revitalization – Part 5, He brings the sheep

This is part 5 of  our ongoing series on Church Revitalization with this focusing on the fact that Jesus declared “I will build my church”.

There are many business systems and business models that relate to church organization and church order.  However – church is not a business.  I detest the idea that a smaller church is a stepping stone to a larger church for a Pastor.  I don’t see this to be God’s plan at all.  I believe strongly that God calls a Pastor to a church.  I believe the Pastor knows when he is or is not in the will of God in a particular ministry.  The question is then – does God call a man away from a church to relocate him to a larger church?  No doubt sometimes, but probably not any more than He would call a Pastor away from a larger church to go to a smaller church.  Only – that never seems to happen.

My belief has always been this:  God knows where I am.  He knows how many sheep I can handle.  If He wants me to have more then He will bring them to me.  After all – He has promised that He will build His church.  It is not my job to go looking for a greener pasture.  He will bring His sheep to me to be their under-shepherd when He knows I am ready for them.

This does not negate my responsibility to work and invite and prepare for people to come to my church – but it does put the power where it should be.  I don’t need to move to a larger church – God can make my church larger if He so desires.

You may disagree, and I understand.  This is a peace that God gave me years ago and I continue to believe that is how He directs me to Pastor.  Church Revitalization takes time.  It is a long process.  It would be easy to jump to another church – but I would be failing the church He gave me to work in.

Church Revitalization – Part 4, Work, work and work some more

  • This is part 4 of our ongoing series on Church Revitalization

Church Revitalization is not easy – it is hard work.  As the saying goes: “if it was easy, everyone would do it”.  What is it going to take to make church revitalization successful in your ministry?  Hard work.

Church revitalization is not a Sunday only job.  It is a twenty-four, seven day a week job.  It takes a consistent focus in every area.  Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Work harder on your messages.  Spend more time.  Do more practice.  Pray more.  Learn from others.
  2. Work harder on your facility.  Keep things clean, neat, current, updated and safe.
  3. Work harder on training.  Go to conferences.  Train your teachers. Teach your leaders.  Disciple your new converts.
  4. Work harder on vision.  Look ahead.  See what problems may be coming.  Focus on what areas you may need to address. Know the spiritual temperature of your church.
  5. Work harder on loving others.  Every wonder why there are so many verses on the need to love and care for others?  Probably because it is not our natural reaction.  It is something we need to work on.  People can often be unlovable – yet our command is to love!

Work hard and then work even harder!

Church Revitalization – Part 3, Do what you do and do it well

  • This is our continuing series on Church Revitalization – Part 3

Very simply – your church is not going to be a “jack of all trades” of churches.  You will not be able to be and to do everything and if you try to you will not be able to do it well.  So here is my advice – focus on the things your church does well and do them better than anyone else.

I have been part of churches who wanted to emphasize music, but they just did not have the talent to do music well.  They would have an annual cantatas, but music was just not their thing.

As church cafe’s and coffee shops have become popular, I have seen churches try to fill that niche’ at their own church – but don’t have the finances and personnel to do it well.  They end up putting a couple coffee pots on a classroom table.

Our church in Dillsburg received a call a number of years ago from an Assisted Living center down the road looking for someone to come in once a month to hold a Bible study for their residents.  I had a gentleman in our church that was very interested in teaching so I had him contact the home.  After just a couple of months we found that they were willing to let us come every week.  We put together a couple people to help with music and now, twelve years later, this is an entirely separate service for our church each and every Sunday.  Also, as the church has grown, we have added other nursing homes and other teams to minister to them.  We are now in five facilities – three of them every single week.  It’s what we are good at.

We are good at children’s ministry.  People love our nursery, our children’s Sunday school, our Junior church ministry, our evening Children’s clubs and our Vacation Bible School.  They feel confident with out teachers and love our curriculum.  It’s what we are good at and we emphasize it.

Our church does not have a softball team.  We don’t have a divorce care group or an addiction program.  We don’t have community fairs or summer car shows.  All of those things are fine and there are plenty of churches in our areas that are doing many of these things.  But they are not what we do and we would not be able to do those things well if we tried to do them too.

Just do what you do and do it very well!

Church Revitalization – Part 2, The Main Thing!

  • Our continuing series on Church Revitalization.

Very early in my ministry I attended as many conferences as I was able to.  I wanted to learn and I wanted to observe what other churches were doing.  At one such conference the pastor gave this important advice:  “The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing”.  His emphasis was on evangelism.

God gave us the Great Commission.  It is not – as we often see on bumper stickers today – the Great Suggestion!  We are to be telling other about Jesus Christ.  There are numerous ways to do this today and with the increase in technology, the opportunities to evangelize are increasing.  Unfortunately, while the opportunities to evangelize might be increasing the actual act of evangelizing seems to be decreasing.

The Main Thing is to tell others about Jesus Christ.  We must be pointing others to Christ.  Are we doing that?

  1. The Preaching must point others to Christ.
  2. Our Music must point others to Christ.
  3. Our Activities must point others to Christ.
  4. Our Programs must point others to Christ. 
  5. Our Children’s Ministries must point others to Christ. 

Remember – Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!

Church Revitalization – Part 1, PRAYER

*With this post I will begin a 10 part series on Church Revitalization.  I have been blessed to have been a part of one for the last 14 years and now I believe God has given me an opportunity with TAP to revitalize a Missions organization as well.

I was called as the Pastor of Cedar Hill Baptist in Dillsburg, PA in February 2005.  I was not yet ordained and I still had about a year left of Bible College.  Cedar Hill at the time had 22 members and an average attendance of 35.  They had looked to merge with two other area churches in the years previous and when the church rejected these plans, the previous pastor got frustrated and left.  Following are the things we did – right and wrong – that led us to where we are today.  This past Sunday we had 217 and we have had two very successful building projects.  We did not grow quickly, but we have grown slow and steady.

The first and most important element of revitalizing a church is a focus on prayer.  This is not just cliche’ but the source of all power.  If God is not in it, then it is manufactured.  Manufacturing church growth is a real strategy that is often employed today.  There are certain steps that will work to grow your numbers – but you might as well run a country club.

  1. Prayer from the Pastor.  As the leader and spiritual director of the church the Pastor must be bathing the ministry in prayer.  We must be faithfully praying for the church, for our direction, for our impact, for our individual members and for our effectiveness.  This is elementary and understood, but cannot be overlooked.
  2. Congregational Prayer.  We must have a church committed to praying.  We are good at praying for all of our health needs – but in regards to church revitalization – we better be praying for visitors, for converts, for our leaders and teachers, for our impact in our community, etc.   We must stop praying for ourselves and start praying for souls.
  3. Finding Prayer Warriors.  This might just be the key to why Cedar Hill saw growth and unity.  Most churches understand the importance of the Pastor and Church members praying – but what about getting others to pray for us?  We began a newsletter – not a newsletter for our church family – but a newsletter for those who were genuinely interested in our church but could not attend our church.  We had other churches praying for Cedar Hill.  We had people who had moved away praying for Cedar Hill.  We had friends and family, many of which were out of state, praying for Cedar Hill.  Finally (and this might be unique) we had our missionaries and their churches praying for Cedar Hill.  Think about that:  We so often pray for our missionaries and their needs – but how often do we rely on them praying for us?  God does answer prayers that are offered up outside of the United States!
  4. Church Leaders Praying.  We had board members praying for the church at board meetings.  We had Sunday school teachers praying for their classes.  We had youth leaders praying for their youth group.  Everyone in a leadership position prayed for their ministry opportunities.
  5. Teach on Prayer.  We have and continue to emphasize prayer.  We have spent time on Sunday evenings putting together Prayer Journals.  We have mixed up our Prayer meetings.  We have had multiple avenues to get together in group prayer meetings (Men’s Breakfast, Ladies Breakfast, Cottage prayer meetings, etc).

Prayer.  Why did Cedar Hill grow when so many churches struggle?  The number one answer I always give is that People Prayed and God Answered!

Advice from 45 years on the field

Missionary Harry Thomas Latham and his wife Penny have been missionaries in Brazil for 45 years.  People have asked him how he has managed to persevere that long.  Here are some points he shared:

  1. When you take up your cross, don’t put it down until the Lord tells you to.  
  2. Have a good relationship with your spouse.  If you don’t have it work on it until it is so.
  3. Make every decision with the idea of staying a lifetime.
  4. Don’t let discouragements and criticism cause you to quit.
  5. Obtain as much prayer support as possible.
  6. Be more concerned with loving and forgiving people than how well you speak the language.
  7. Be available, flexible, and dependable.
  8. Plan far ahead.
  9. Get an early start.
  10. Do the hardest job first.
  11. Never give up. 
  12. Take fun vacations.
  13. Use air conditioning.
  14. Get spiritual input, in English, from your favorite speaker.
  15. The longer you hang in there, the greater influence you will be