5.24.2024

How to Take a Sabbatical

Between our unique cultural moment and the pressure of ministry leadership, we need to prioritize sabbaticals.
1
min
5.10.2024

How to Engage in Discipleship in the Current Age

The message of the gospel remains constant, but culture changes constantly. To engage people in relevant ways, we must be willing to adjust our methods. We asked some of the plenary speakers from our 2023 RightNow Conference, Grow: Making Healthy Disciples, to share their ideas on engaging in discipleship in our current age.

Eric Mason

I think it’s a good opportunity and time for the church to be “re-presented” to the world. The Bible talks about—in Ephesians 3:21—it says, “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus.” In other words, the church is God’s tabernacle now for Jesus’s presence. In other words, represent him. And so I think that we need to rebrand everything from how we talk about the gospel, how we talk about men, how we talk about women, how we talk about family, how we talk about relationships, how we talk about money. I think one of the mechanisms to do that is utilizing social media, by utilizing reels and YouTube videos and all these other means that are out here to really express, explain, and rebrand discipleship.

David Kinnaman

I think a huge opportunity for the church to engage in discipleship in the coming years is around community and how lonely people are, how isolated they are, how much they’re desperate for a better way to be in community, to be human, and to answer some of these nagging questions that lurk in our hearts and in our souls. There’s a sense in which, in community, we actually realize what we’re made for. I have this idea that we’re a storied community and we try to tell our stories and understand our stories in light of Jesus’s story. In community we could be shaped into the men and women that Christ can use in the world.

Bryan Carter

People are longing for connection and relationship. People are longing for life on life, sharing life together. One of the ways that can happen is one believer walking with someone else and just helping them in their walk—using the Word of God to guide them, to share life with them, to instruct them. This is one of the great ways we have to leverage our lives to invest in one another each and every day.

David Platt

I think social media, digital, AI—these avenues open doors for all kinds of exposure to the gospel in people’s lives and exposure to God’s Word. How can we steward some of these things at the same time? That must be coupled with life-on-life, in the flesh together, walking through all that this life brings and applying the gospel to it. So how do we steward both of those to the full in the days ahead? I think that’s a challenge and an opportunity and a chance the church hasn’t had in history. So, let’s make sure to do them both well and wisely with the Word and the Spirit as our guide.

Technology can be an excellent means of spreading the gospel and connecting with one another. We can use digital media while knowing it does not substitute for in-person community. Discipleship happens most effectively face-to-face.

How are you maximizing online tools in your efforts to bring people together in gospel community?

1
min
4.26.2024

Work/Life Balance for Christians

How often have you made plans with a friend, only to realize you’ve double booked with a work meeting?

Or when was the last time you tried to engage in your favorite hobby, only to find yourself constantly checking your work email? I’m willing to admit I’m guilty of this—and I’m sure you are too.

Our fast-paced, hustle-and-bustle culture puts us in an endless state of busyness. Our jobs and career goals bump against our personal time, family obligations, and ability to sleep, making it hard to find a rhythm in life. Which, even in the best case, only leads us to anxiety, imbalance, and burnout.

Our desire to work hard and make progress in our professional lives isn’t a bad thing. In fact, God expects us to have a strong work ethic to care for ourselves and our families. Diligence and excellence are two of the major ways we steward the talents, abilities, and resources he’s given us. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.” But many Christians live with a tension of wanting to excel at work while prioritizing their health, family, friends, and ministry.

Finding balance can feel impossible.

A healthy work-life balance is simply the ability to maintain a sustainable rhythm of work and rest. Achieving a perfectly curated work-life balance is improbable because life is full of sudden and unforeseeable changes. Instead, think about a rhythm that best suits your current season of life. It’s more achievable than you may think.

Let’s look at 3 practical ways we can bring our professional and personal lives into a harmonious rhythm:

1. Determine Your Priorities

If our main priority is to serve and glorify God in all that we do, then we must take inventory of all he’s given us—our relationships, jobs, our bodies, resources, and our time. We should be faithful with all that God has given us but know that we can’t do everything. Some people and tasks are more important than others. Ask yourself: what are the responsibilities, hobbies, and relationships I refuse to put to the side? Is it serving in the local church? Having dedicated quality time with family and friends? Or maybe climbing a corporate ladder? Verbalizing your priorities will help you determine what you do and don’t have time for. It may even reveal some disordered priorities that need to be rearranged.

For advice on how to balance work with family, check out Expert Ownership: Mastering Small Business with David and Jason Benham.

2. Set Personal Boundaries

It is easy to overlap our work and home lives. To ensure that we are at our best, whether at work or home, we need to establish boundaries. Everyone’s boundaries are going to look different because none of us has the same family dynamics or work schedules. But, to get your mind started, here are some examples of helpful boundaries:

  • Silence your work phone after 7:30 p.m. or refuse to look at work email until the next day.
  • Prioritize being present at your kids’ extracurricular events (games, recitals, etc.).
  • Use all of your PTO during the year. Or take a long weekend each quarter away from work simply to rest.
  • Prioritize your doctor’s appointments, even though they take you from work.
  • Determine which phone calls or texts you will and won’t answer at work.
  • Lock your social media during work hours.

For more practical ways to set personal boundaries, watch Jordan Raynor’s series Redeeming Your Time on RightNow Media @ Work.

3. Practice the Sabbath

Taking a sabbath is not an optional time for rest—it’s a command and a gift from God (Exodus 20:8–11; Mark 2:27–28). Having a whole day set aside for rest allows us to reset within a divinely orchestrated rhythm established at the creation of the world (Genesis 2:2–3). The difficulty for busy Christians is that we don’t think we have time to rest. We can’t afford to stop everything for a whole day! But God says it’s for our own good to slow down once a week.

Resting is a faith exercise—reminding us that God is in control, not our calendars. Sabbath teaches us to let God be God while we enjoy the blessings he has given us. For busy Christians, practicing a weekly day of rest can be one of the most helpful ways to maintain work-life balance.

For more ideas on sabbath, check out The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry with John Mark Comer.

Conclusion

Ecclesiastes 3:12–13 says, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.” (NIV) Working hard is a necessary part of life—it’s the way we provide for ourselves. But our work should never come between our health, family, children, or ability to simply enjoy the little things in life.

Try one of the practical suggestions above and allow God to guide you to a healthy rhythm of life.
1
min
4.2.2024

RightNow Media Around the World

RightNow Media Around the World

The Mission of RightNow Media

Our mission is to work with the global church to inspire people to love others before self and Christ above all.

Our mission and dedication to supporting the global church prompted our international expansion across the globe in 2018, beginning with serving churches in India. We have since extended our work to Latin America, East Asia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, and Africa.

 

Through a strategic alliance with NextGen Global Leaders, RightNow Media has been able to serve more than 30,000 churches in over 100 countries.

Our Global Content

RightNow Media works with trusted Christian teachers from around the world to create meaningful discipleship content. We are proud to offer a digital library of more than 25,000 Bible study videos and discipleship resources supported in 13 languages to more than four million worldwide users.

 

See some of our original content produced within the last six months from each of the regions we serve:

Africa
A Gospel View of Ezra Dr. Kwasi Amoafo
Asia-Pacific
Does God Care? Kavitha Emmanuel
Australia/New Zealand
Kingdom Entrepreneurship Wez Hone

Brazil
Galatians Rosther Guimarães Lopes
East Asia
The Power of the Cross Ki Sung Yoo
Latin America
Stories from Heaven RightNow Media

Middle East
Boundless Grace Jamil Khouri
United Kingdom
The Book of Malachi Dave Cornes

Impact

Max Premson, Regional Director over Asia Pacific (APAC), shares how RightNowMedia has played a role in his life, both personally and professionally:

Personally, RightNow Media has helped me grow spiritually. Whenever I needed strong teachings on certain topics, RightNow Media has always been helpful. Representing RightNow Media in the APAC region, we have witnessed many small groups in the region being blessed. In our church, we have seen youth, teens, and kids’ groups using it effectively, resulting in holistic transformation in their lives.

To see more RightNow Media original content produced globally, check out our Around the World library on RightNow Media.

1
min
3.1.2024

What Is Discipleship?

We asked some of our speakers from our 2023 RightNow Conference Grow: Making Healthy Disciples to share how they define discipleship.

What is discipleship?

The way you define the term may be different from the way others understand it, but if we desire to be good disciples or give our lives to making disciples, we need to know what we mean when we use the term. We asked some of our plenary speakers from our 2023 RightNow Conference Grow: Making Healthy Disciples to share how they define discipleship.

Eric Mason

“So when I define discipleship—of course, we know of the verse about it in Matthew 28 and other verses—but I define discipleship as being in a lifelong apprenticeship to Jesus Christ, in which he takes you not only from spiritual death to spiritual life but from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity in gospel community.”

Libin Abraham

“According to Paul in Ephesians 3, discipleship is the Holy Spirit working in our inner being, Christ dwelling in our heart through faith. The idea of dwelling is this pervasive presence of Jesus not as a guest but as a host, as a resident in our heart to our every thought of our mind and desire of our heart, every day of the week and time of the week, that he is fully reigning and ruling as king. As he dwells pervasively in our hearts, we are formed into the image and likeness of Jesus. Just as he walked, we walk.”

Lisa Harper

“All too often discipleship becomes transactional. It becomes, ‘I am going to have someone who is younger than me in the Lord and we’re going to spend exactly ninety minutes together every Tuesday at this particular coffee shop, and I'm going through this Bible study.’ Well, that feels more dutiful, almost like studying a proposition instead of engaging with a person. God has called us to be a family, a community of ‘one anothers,’ so it has to be relational. There has to be compassion involved because if you're discipling and someone is probably making the same mistakes you made 10 years ago, you need grace for that. Then there has to be time to have some face-to-face, eye-to-eye, where you take off your dadgum Apple watch and make eye contact.”

Jennie Allen

“You have to remember that the ultimate goal is that, when a disciple has been discipled, they are making disciples. Are they on mission? Are they giving away what you've given to them? If you have a stagnant pool of people where you are pouring, and pouring, and pouring in, and no one is pouring out, that is not the way of Jesus. I don't know what that is, but it is not the way of Jesus. So it should be a constant sense that new believers are coming in, that baptisms are happening, that people are regularly encountering Jesus. Why? If they truly are being discipled and they are knowing Jesus more, then they are called. Their next step of obedience and discipleship is that they’re discipling somebody else.”

Though our definitions of “discipleship” may vary, the essence of all the answers focus on being attached to Jesus. A disciple is someone who knows Jesus personally, is committed to obeying him, becoming more like him in character, and equipping others to know and follow him as well. That is God’s call to all of us.

How would you define discipleship and how does your life reflect what it means to be a disciple?

1
min
2.14.2024

Will Someone Be St. Valentine?

The the love of St. Valentine points us all to the love of Christ.

The warm and fuzzy feelings of Valentine’s Day are met with eager anticipation by some and skeptical eye rolls by others.

Romantic love steps into the spotlight in mid-February, but is that the type of love behind the holiday? A closer look at history reveals that romance has nothing to do with the man behind the hearts and chocolates. Rather, the love of St. Valentine points us all to the love of Christ.

Who was St. Valentine?

The origin of Valentine’s Day traces back to the historical figure St. Valentine. However, the legend of this saint more closely resembles Paul Bunyan than George Washington. From what we know about church history, there were two significant men named Valentine in the third century—a priest in Rome and a bishop in Terni, Italy—with miraculous stories attached to their names. Because of the passage of time, historians aren’t sure which events should be attributed to whom and tend to combine the two figures into one man.

Some sources say Valentine secretly married couples against imperial military policy. Others comment that he healed a blind woman in front of the imperial court, evidencing the power of the gospel to skeptical eyes. Regardless of what is true about the life of the Valentines, there is one historically reliable event historians agree that they share: each was executed for his faith under intense Roman persecution. All we can really know about Valentine is that he served as a Christian leader who gave his life for his faith. That story doesn’t make for a cute Valentine’s Day card.

So, why should we care about St. Valentine?

The celebration of Valentine’s Day that we know today didn’t begin until one thousand years after Valentine died. English poet Geoffrey Chaucer mentioned in his poem Parliament of Foules that birds choose their mate “halfway through the second month of the year.” Since that moment, Valentine’s Day has been associated with passionate courtship rather than remembering the life of a saint in service to Jesus.

But some of you may be thinking: “Why should we care about remembering saints from the past at all?” Looking to faithful men and women of the past who’ve followed Jesus can renew our love for God and inspire us to emulate their devotion.

Saints from church history are part of our “great cloud of witnesses” the author of Hebrews writes about in Hebrews 11 and 12. The example of Christians both present and historic should motivate us to action, saying, “Therefore . . . let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us . . . keeping our eyes on Jesus.”

So, consider Valentine. If all we can know with certainty about his life is that he was a faithful pastor under intense persecution, yet so committed to Jesus that he didn’t renounce his faith when threatened with death, that alone should be celebrated and emulated.

How can we emulate St. Valentine?

This Valentine’s Day, as we focus on romantic love through food, chocolate, or cards (no matter how cheesy they may be), let’s also model Valentine’s self-sacrificial love for God and others as a leader and a martyr for the faith. While we probably won’t be called to die for our faith, we are called to heed Jesus’s martyr-like words in Matthew 16:24–25: “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.”

Valentine’s Day should remind us that true love does exist—“No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

We would do well to emulate Valentine’s self-sacrificial love to others in a world desperate to see and know the love of Christ.

1
min
2.9.2024

How I Got Over: The Resilience of the Black Church

If there is any entity in the United States that has exemplified what it means to remain resilient in the face of obstacles, it is the Black Church.

Many of us would agree that enduring in the face of trials is one of the pillars of our Christian faith.

Scripture repeatedly tells us that God walks with us through the fire—strengthening and refining us—as opposed to yanking us from it. And if there is any entity in the United States that has exemplified what it means to remain resilient in the face of obstacles, it is the Black Church.

Resilience means having the capacity to recover quickly from difficulty—the ability to spring back into shape. And over the past 400 years, Black people have found ways to not only recover from the ramifications of slavery but thrive and keep the faith. Recently, I watched the AND Campaign’s How I Got Over, a five-part documentary series on the history of the Black Church. They highlight how the Black Church has shown resilience through a long history of obstacles. Let’s look at three examples from their series of ways the Black Church has exemplified what it means to never give up on God.

Origins of the Black Church

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”—Booker T. Washington

The documentary discusses the founding of The Black Church and its many denominations. The Black Church at its conception began because of longstanding racism and segregation—even within Christian institutions. The first Black denomination (AME) was created because white Christians refused to worship alongside Black Christians. And instead of using their rejection as a reason to give up on God, Black Christians showed resilience by clinging to their convictions and pursuing him further.

It would have been easy for any of them to give up—to decide that choosing a different God or a different faith would be more liberating. But when they decided to form their own denominations to continue their worship, they not only displayed God’s impact in their lives, but also revealed a conviction in their hearts that kept them moving toward the cross instead of running from it. They created and sang Negro Spirituals. They formed new churches. They embraced the stories of deliverance, justice, and freedom found in Scripture.

They kept going.

The Public Witness of the Black Church

“When the Black Church at its best is the public face of the witness of love and justice, it will be targeted.” —Cornel West

In How I Got Over, we also learn about the significance of the Black Church in the civil rights movement and how Black leaders used their faith in Christ to influence the secular world. Justin Giboney says in this episode, “For Black Church leaders, the gospel was more than a call to action—it was the theme music of the civil rights movement.”

The civil rights movement not only depended on the Black Church but also made huge progress because of it. The church served as a launching pad for many leaders, groups, and rallies. Going to church wasn’t just for spiritual nourishment in this era—political meetings happened at church, resources were mobilized there, and rallies and marches set their meeting points at churches. In addition, Black clergy and church leaders were some of the first Black people to hold positions in government. Black preachers served as politicians, and Black Christians, like Fannie Lou Hamer, fought against voter suppression motivated by strong biblical convictions.

Even though the public witness of Black Christians sparked more obstacles—like the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama in 1963 and many others like it—they harnessed their righteous anger to remain resilient, which eventually resulted in successes like the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Black Christian leaders knew that there was no need to separate the message of the gospel from the fight for justice and equality because taking the gospel seriously and standing on authoritative, biblical ideals meant standing against oppression and racism.

Education and the Black Church

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”—Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How I Got Over highlights a few of the different ways that the Black Church opened doors for educational opportunities in the Black community. I don’t know about you but I love school. And being a Black woman, I frequently find myself thanking God for the opportunity to learn from prestigious institutions because I know that it’s due to the determination of those who came before me. Education for Black people was illegal and dangerous for most of American history. And yet, despite being pushed out of opportunities left and right, they prevailed.

One of the main priorities that Black people pursued after emancipation was their education. And during this time, the Black Church provided opportunities for the Black community to learn in a safe and familiar environment. Over time, they were able to advance through the educational system and take advantage of vocational schools, colleges, and graduate schools.

Black people had the determination to take back their dignity and become educated members of society. They used the forced segregation from schools and educational systems to their advantage, creating and funding their own schools, universities, and carving out ways to educate themselves and prove those in power wrong.

All in all, the Black Church has contributed to the faith in many ways, but more than anything, the Black Church is an example of resilience despite the odds set against it. As believers, we know that God has called us to endure, and for the Black Church, endurance is at the foundation of its existence and the reason why it continues to thrive.


As we celebrate Black History Month, consider watching The AND Campaign’s How I Got Over, a documentary exploring the history and resilience of the Black Church and the impact it’s made in the public square and the education system. The series has five episodes full of information, history, and inspiring stories. You can also click here to learn more about the AND Campaign.
1
min
1.19.2024

The “Boring” Part of Exodus

The intricate detail of God’s first home with the Israelites shows us the lengths to which God will go to be with his people.
Scripture Study

For those brave enough to embark on a Bible reading plan, the gears grind to a screeching halt around the second half of Exodus.

The tabernacle furniture doesn’t grab us the way the liberation of God’s people from Egypt does.

Our eyes may glaze over at building materials and measurements, but the intricate detail of God’s first home with the Israelites and the description of how Israel is supposed to act with God in this new space shows us the lengths to which God will go to be with his people. This isn’t just Israel’s story—it’s our story too.

God makes the purpose of this portable worship complex clear to Moses in Exodus 25:8: “They are to make a sanctuary for me so that I may dwell among them” (emphasis added). God will “dwell”—sakan in Hebrew—in the tabernacle similarly to how he “settled”—sakan—on Mount Sinai to give the Law to Moses in Exodus 24:16.

What Moses experienced up on Mount Sinai—talking with God and seeing his glory—God now wants to make accessible, in part, to all his people in the camp. The mountain-top experience will come down to the people wandering in the wilderness. God doesn’t ask his people to climb up to meet with him—he stoops down to live with his people. Starting to sound familiar?

The Tabernacle Then

When God moves into our space and time, he changes everything. With the tabernacle, the space between God’s heavenly home and Israel’s earthly existence didn’t just get closer—the two places overlapped and became something new. This new space points back to God’s presence with humanity in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 1–2—the original dwelling place of God and people. God will make his presence known, like he did with Adam and Eve, in this new space where heaven and earth collide—a heaven-and-earth space.

The Garden of Eden imagery shows up throughout the tabernacle instructions. The entrance to the tabernacle was a curtain of blue, purple, and crimson fabrics (Exodus 27:9, 16)—colors not naturally occurring in linens but apparent in nature. There are cherubim—the same angelic beings who prevented Adam and Eve from returning to the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:24—worked into the design of the curtains. These colors and images of angels signified that those entering the tabernacle were stepping into an otherworldly place. Importantly, however, instead of preventing humanity’s meeting with God in the garden, cherubim welcomed the people into God’s presence.

Another literary parallel to the Garden of Eden involves the progressively ornate materials the closer one gets to the center. The materials used in the outer courtyard are bronze and silver (Exodus 27:1–8; 30:17–21), and the materials used inside the tent are gold (Exodus 25:10–40). But inside the tent, there’s an even more special place—the holy of holies with more gold objects (Exodus 25:10–22). This was the place where God would manifest his presence and meet with the people. The purposeful move from bronze to gold—from the courtyard to the holy of holies—parallels Genesis 2. The creation story moves from the land of Eden—the region God chose to plant a garden—to the actual garden itself and even further to the tree of life “in the middle of the garden” (Genesis 2:8–9). The closer to the center, the more concentrated the divine presence.

So what? What does it matter that the tabernacle reminds us of the Garden of Eden? What is God doing through Israel with the tabernacle?

Just like God created humanity to be with him and to multiply his rule over the earth, God was doing a new work of creation in and through the people of Israel. God was remaking humanity—and the world—through the people of Israel with the tabernacle. When we see the Garden of Eden imagery while reading the “boring” parts of Exodus, we are reminded of God’s initiative to be with his people and to have his people share his presence with the whole world.

The Tabernacle Now

We can be tempted to miss the flashbacks to the Garden of Eden in the tabernacle instructions. But we should not only notice that God moved toward his people in the past; we should also notice that God is still moving toward his people now in the newest heaven-and-earth space—the church.

The same God who ordered Israel to build these precise structures now lives continuously with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t have to build precise structures to meet with God like the Israelites. The mountain-top experience that came down to Israel’s wandering camp has now, in the presence of the Spirit, been made available for everyone who trusts Jesus.

Our existence as the new tabernacle—the new meeting place—points toward the ultimate heaven-and-earth place—the renewed creation of Revelation 21–22. One day, God will completely fill the earth with his Spirit and live with us forever in an entirely renewed creation. Upon seeing a vision of God’s restorative plan, John exclaims, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . . Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them” (Revelation 21:1, 3).

The tabernacle in Exodus points us to the renewed creation—the ultimate heaven-and-earth space. And when we doze off reading about the different metals and linens, we can remind ourselves that behind those instructions stands a God who not only wants to be with his people but will stop at nothing to be with them.

Until we reach that ultimate “tabernacle,” Exodus reminds us that the same divine presence that was with Israel now exists in us—the church made up of diverse brothers and sisters trusting Jesus as we wander in the wilderness.
1
min
1.5.2024

Behind the Scenes: The Book of Joshua with Louie Giglio

While filming in Atlanta, our team asked Louie Giglio a few questions about preparing for this series and his hopes for small groups.
Behind the Scenes

In the book of Joshua, we get a front-row seat to the power of God as he led the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. By faith, Joshua and the Israelites overcame the challenges and obstacles they faced with the courage God supplied. And by faith, with God’s strength, we can overcome the challenges we face too.

In 2023, RightNow Media sent a film crew to Atlanta, Georgia to film The Book of Joshua with pastor Louie Giglio. The book of Joshua follows the people of God as they work to secure the land God had promised to them.

While filming, our team asked Louie a few questions about preparing for this series and his hopes for small groups.

RightNow Media: What is the one thing you learned while preparing for this series?

Louie: I think one of the things that probably hit me the most preparing to teach through Joshua—and I mentioned it as we were moving through some of the early sessions—is just that Joshua was a man. And that’s important for me to remember, and for all of us to remember, we’re not looking at Bible characters. I was studying the other day about Lazarus, and we all know Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but he was about thirty years old when Jesus did that. And somehow, we have these “older Bible characters” and we don’t realize the disciples were twenty-somethings, and Lazarus was twenty-eight or twenty-nine or thirty. And Joshua was older when he was leading the people into the Promised Land, but he was just a human being. It’s like James reminding us that Elijah was a man like us, so I think I just saw through fresh eyes, through the book of Joshua, that this isn’t some superhero that just dropped down out of the Old Testament. But this is a guy of flesh and blood just like me, a person just like you, who is putting their trust in a supernatural source to do supernatural things.  

RightNow Media: What is the one thing you want viewers to walk away with after watching this series?

Louie: My big hope for every one of us that’s in this series together is that we will walk away with confidence. I think the enemy, if he could do one thing for all of us, it would be to chip away at our confidence in God and, ultimately, our confidence in ourselves as God is choosing to lead us. Because this is an important time to be alive on planet Earth and God has incredible assignments for every person. Not just special people like Joshua, not just for the special people like Moses, but God has an assignment for every single one of us in our lives. And he’s got an assignment for you. And so, I hope, as you’re going through Joshua with us, that you will sense, “wow, there is a calling on my life. It’s not to be a preacher or a spiritual leader or someone like Joshua—it’s a calling to this particular place and time, and these people.” And that you will sense that there’s purpose in that. That you’re not just spending time on Earth, but you have an assignment on earth to lead people into the fullness of what God has created them for. And I hope everybody sees that and feels more confident about stepping into that. Because there’s probably a river in front of you—an obstacle between you and that calling—and God wants to show you in this series how to grow in your confidence in him so that you can become everything he’s called you to be.

RightNow Media: Tell us about the most memorable moment of filming this series.

Louie: I think one of the moments I’m going to always remember most about shooting this series is just the incredible team and incredible shoot. RightNow Media, they’re not wanting me probably to say this, but they’re the best team and working with them is always an incredible experience for me. And just their vision of wanting to build the church and serve people and see people grow in their faith and become more committed followers of Jesus, it really is inspiring. And it doesn’t feel like we’re just here with camera and lights and background, and we’re making a theme, it feels like there’s a collective heart in this room right now to want to serve people. And I think that’s going to be for me the most memorable thing about this. I stand in front of a lot of cameras, I stand under a lot of microphones, there are lights on me a lot of the time, and you can tell a difference when it’s a job and when people really want to see hearts change. And I know I came here today because I have the honor and privilege of being on a journey with people to see their lives change, and see my life change, as we’re in this Word together, and I really believe that all the people in this room with me right now have that same heart. And that’s what makes a shoot like this enjoyable, but it also makes it satisfying and meaningful. And I’ve loved being a part of this journey together.

The Book of Joshua with Louie Giglio releases exclusively on RightNow Media January 23, 2024.

1
min
12.1.2023

Mary: More Than Mother of God

While Mary serves the miraculous and cosmic role of birthing the Messiah, she is also a faithful witness of what it looks like to model Christ’s action of mediating.
Scripture Study

Interest in Mary peaks during Christmas.

As we unpack our nativity scenes from eleven months of storage, placing Mary next to the manger is as normal as singing Christmas carols or watching Buddy the Elf eat gum off the subway railing.

For many of us, though, Mary never leaves the manger’s side. She goes back in storage with the wise men and reappears next year. While Mary serves the miraculous and cosmic role of birthing the Messiah, she is also a faithful witness of what it looks like to model Christ’s action of mediating between God and humanity—telling others what God is like and bringing him their concerns.

You may be thinking, “Wait, isn’t Jesus the only one who mediates between God and humanity?” And that instinct would be right. I’m not talking about mediating salvation between God and people—that’s something that only Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection has accomplished. What I am saying is that, like the prophets in the Old Testament standing as a go-between by proclaiming God’s message to the people and representing the people’s requests to God, Mary shows us how to occupy the space between God and the world as a light that points people to God.

Mary doesn’t supplant Jesus’s role as the ultimate mediator. But inside and outside of the Christmas story, Mary does show us how to obey our call to live as Christ’s body on earth, sharing who God is and advocating on behalf of others.

Mary Proclaims God’s Character

Before traveling to Bethlehem for Jesus’s birth, Mary visited her cousin, Elizabeth, who was also miraculously pregnant. Elizabeth recognized Mary’s unique role as the “mother of [her] Lord” (Luke 1:43) and pointed toward Mary’s faith that God would “fulfill what he has spoken to her” (Luke 1:45).

In response, Mary launched into her famous speech magnifying God’s character—the Magnificat. These ten verses are more than Mary simply responding to her situation with gratitude. Mary shares God’s words not only with Elizabeth but also with us as readers thousands of years later.

Many commentators say Mary’s speech falls in the genre of prophecy. In essence, a prophet served as a mediator between God and people to provide the people with revelation of who God is. Mary comments on her own “humble condition” (Luke 1:48) and how God exalts the “lowly” (Luke 1:52), like herself. By describing herself in these terms, Mary speaks to those who may similarly feel overlooked or unimportant—much like how the people of Israel likely felt at the time of Jesus’s birth. Mary says that God has “helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy to Abraham and his descendants forever” (Luke 1:54–55) with Jesus’s birth announcement, reminding God’s people that he cares and acts on their behalf.

Through her speech, Mary stepped into the space between God and his people by proclaiming the good news that God’s “mercy is from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50) and that “he has scattered the proud . . . [and] toppled the mighty from their thrones” (Luke 1:51–52). She reminds us that God “has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:53). Her song reads like many of the psalms in the Old Testament that proclaim the character of God to people in desperate need.

Mary models how we should be little mediators of God’s presence on earth—declaring his good news to people who need to hear it.

Mary Intercedes on Behalf of Others

The beginning of Jesus’s public ministry provides a stage for Mary to stand as a type of mediator outside of the Christmas story. Before Jesus began teaching and demonstrating his identity as Israel’s Messiah, he and his disciples were invited to a wedding Mary also attended. As John writes in John 2:1–12, the wine for the wedding in Cana ran out and presented the host family with a problem.

Running out of wine at a celebration in Ancient Near Eastern culture was a social faux pas that would have brought enormous shame on the host family. Seeing this risk and interceding on behalf of the wedding party, Mary went to Jesus with a request without a question, “They don’t have any wine” (John 2:3).

Not only did Mary initiate stepping in as an in-between for the wedding party, but she also went straight to the person she knew could act, revealing her faith. She saw a need and entrusted it to the person who could meet that need.

While Jesus’s response appears harsh (his calling Mary “woman” isn’t derogatory or dismissive as he uses the same word when speaking tenderly to her on the cross in John 19:26), Jesus explained that he was hesitant because he had not begun to reveal his identity as Messiah—which Mary presumably knew—to everyone.

Instead of feeling rejected, Mary reaffirmed her faith in her son by telling the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. Jesus may have chosen not to act and told the servants to stand by, but Mary accepted that possibility and left the decision in Jesus’s capable hands. In doing so, she communicated an important truth not only for the servants at the wedding but also for us reading the passage today—obey God regardless of what he calls you to do. Mary advocated for people who had nowhere else to go and instructed them on how they should respond to God’s command—much like how the church operates in the world today.

Follow Mary as She Follows Christ

Maybe it is appropriate that we think of Mary most often during the Christmas season. Christmas often calls us to act in mediatory ways.

This may be someone’s first Christmas alone, and they need to hear from you that God sees them. Perhaps this Christmas someone received bad news and needs you to advocate for them on your knees in prayer. By imitating Mary as she imitates Christ, we can be God’s ambassadors, channeling his overpowering love for them.

We cannot imitate Mary’s honored role in the incarnation, but we can replicate her faithful ministry by following Jesus as he mediates for us.

1
min
11.17.2023

Behind the Scenes: The Creators Season 3

Filming this season was bittersweet, because both the cast and crew knew that this season would be the show’s last.
Kids & Youth

The Creators Season 3 is the biggest season we have produced yet—there are pirates, original songs, and even a karate showdown.

There is something for everyone in the six episodes of Season 3.

But filming Season 3 was bittersweet because both the cast and crew knew this would be the final season.

When The Creators first began, some of the actors had never worked on a show before. But by the end of this season, the young actors had not only worked on a show but acted in episodes from over a dozen TV genres, flexed their acting muscles, and even recorded their own music.

Series producer Lindsey McNally shared how the cast visited a music studio to record their vocals for Season 3. “Season 3 is the first time each cast member sings their own music—they have all grown so much as performers.”

Series Producer Lindsey McNally poses with a special guest on The Creators set. (Photo Credit: Chris Ablaza)

The weeks of production included laughter, birthday parties (facilitated by the cast members' wonderful mothers), and the joys of watching the growth of the amazing cast. The show may be coming to an end, but make sure to keep an eye on the cast as their careers continue. Niko (Art) and Sydney (Zoey) have already done some work together for Nike, and we are sure there is more to come from these talented teenagers.

The Creators gather on the iconic leather couch one last time. (Photo Credit: Chris Ablaza)

“This type of production was uncharted territory for RightNow Media,” McNally said. “But we took the plunge—in the chaos of 2020, mind you—and God has blown us away!”

“It’s so cool to see how many young lives have been impacted. I don't think any of us expected there to be three whole seasons, but here we are almost four years later.”

We have loved reading your fan mail and watching the videos you were inspired to create after watching The Creators. And, while Season 3 will be the final season of The Creators, we will never forget how the show has entertained, inspired, and encouraged us all.

Catch the final season of The Creators coming in January 2024! In the meantime check out Season 1, Season 2, and The Creators Christmas Special.

Special thanks to Chris Ablaza for capturing the making of Season 3 on a disposable camera!
1
min
10.27.2023

The Christian Calendar

Over the centuries, the church developed a year-long pattern of celebrating touchstone moments in our faith.
Church History

Birthday gifts.

Anniversary dinners.

Graduation parties.

Christmas gatherings.

Independence Day fireworks.

We love celebrating past victories and significant moments. The church is no different.

Over the centuries, the church developed a year-long pattern of celebrating touchstone moments in our faith. Many churches follow this liturgical calendar in their Sunday worship.


What Is the Christian Calendar?

The church calendar is a yearly cycle that starts in late November or early December and follows the life of Jesus, celebrating his resurrection in spring, and remembering the lives of saints for the remainder of the year. Three major holy days circle the season of Christ’s Incarnation and three occur during the Resurrection season, while Ordinary Time marks the other six months with regular Feast Days.

The Season of Incarnation

Advent

The church year begins with Advent, celebrated during the four Sundays leading up to December 25. During Advent, the church spends time reflecting on the birth of Jesus and his promised return. We acknowledge that we live in a world full of pain and confusion and that we are waiting for him to make all things new. It is a time of anticipation waiting for Christ’s return and the fulfillment of his kingdom.

Christmas

Also known as the Incarnation, Christmas celebrates when God became a vulnerable baby, marking a seismic shift in the cosmos. God. Became. A human being. Pause and reflect on that glorious truth. As the hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” goes: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. For Christ is born of Mary . . .” But, unlike our cultural celebration, Christmas Day is only the start of the Christmas celebration on the church calendar. The celebration continues through the new year and, for the western church, up to January 6.

Epiphany

The season of Epiphany begins on January 6, the Day of Epiphany, at the end of the traditional twelve days of Christmas. Epiphany means “manifestation” and refers to Jesus being made known to Gentiles—first privately to the three Magi who traveled to find him after his birth, then publicly through his baptism and first miracle. The season “has a narrative arc beginning with the Magi and ending with the Transfiguration. The overall emphasis is the manifestation (showing forth) of the glory of Jesus Christ,” says Rev. Fleming Rutledge, Episcopal priest and author. Our Bible readings progress through the childhood of Jesus into his early days of ministry.

The Season of Resurrection

Lent

Forty days before Easter, the church inaugurates the season of Lent with Ash Wednesday, a holy day on which believers are encouraged to fast and pray. Lent is traditionally a time of self-denial and repentance, with churches swathed in dark colors. Special church services are held where ashes are smudged on the hands or foreheads of attendees. The traditional phrase pastors speak over congregations is, “From dust you came, to dust you will return,” though some offer an urgent “Believe the gospel!”

Easter

The pinnacle of the church year celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ as the one who defeated death and brings hope to all who call him Lord. He is risen! we tell one another. He is risen, indeed! we respond.

The Easter season lasts fifty days, as we follow Jesus's post-resurrection life to his Ascension forty days later and end with the feast of Pentecost.

Pentecost

Pentecost celebrates the new body of Christ, his church sent and empowered to share his love with the world, and falls fifty days after Easter. On this day, we celebrate him sending his Holy Spirit to indwell, fill, and empower his disciples. Churches focus on texts that highlight the Spirit and decorate their sanctuaries in red and white, symbolizing “the tongues like flames of fire” through which the Spirit descended upon the disciples (Acts 2:1–4).

The Season of Ordinary Time

The first half of the church year focuses on Christ while the rest of the year broadens its scope to the entire family of God. Ordinary Time focuses on the lives of biblical characters, telling us that our daily, ordinary lives matter to God and should matter to us as well.

Major Feast Days

Each day of the year is a feast day dedicated to the memory of a particular saint whose life offers us inspiration. Feast days tend to memorialize martyrs on the day of their death, which early Christians considered to be graduation from life to life. The feasts of Patrick and Valentine remain cultural touchstones even today.

Why Observe the Christian Calendar?

For those who worship in non-liturgical churches, consider some benefits you could gain from observing the church calendar. You don’t have to become fully liturgical, but you may end up adding a few elements common to other denominations to your habit of worship. So, why should you bother?

We reorient our view of the world.

The church calendar helps us to see the world through the life of Jesus our King. We live in an era where political messiahs come and go. One way to de-emphasize the politics of people is to proclaim the politics of heaven.

It offers a comprehensive exposure to the life of Christ.

We need to walk through Jesus’s whole life and emphasize different events so that God’s people can know the whole story. Easter is not complete without an Ascension Sunday. Celebrating the church calendar helps us understand the total Christ and his total life.

It is a tool for discipling children.

The church calendar gives parents, grandparents, and teachers beautiful ways to catechize, or teach, children about Jesus. It offers a structured way for kids to learn about the life of Christ, the hope of his second coming, and the rhythms of expecting what comes next in the Christian life.

It is a tool for discipling adults.

The church calendar helps us grow in our understanding of significant doctrines. Regularly remembering God’s work through Christ and other Christians will encourage us in our own faith.

It is a tool for evangelism.

Our neighbors and friends will see us giving something up for Lent or regularly attending church and they will ask, “Why?” Each feast day or new season gives us an opportunity to talk about Jesus and why he matters so much to us. And sharing those regular observances reminds us that we are part of something larger than ourselves. We love and follow a God bigger than the troubles of this world. That’s good news for us—and our neighbors.

1
min
10.13.2023

10 Studies from Black Ministry Leaders

At RightNow Media, we not only value diversity but believe that Black ministry leaders have a unique perspective on Christian history and the gospel.
Discipleship

The Black Church is more than just the people—it serves as a specific expression of the Christian faith that we should not only appreciate but glean from.

The origins, traditions, and stories within the legacy of the Black Church offer a perspective of Christian history that many times gets lost and, therefore, so do its voices.

At RightNow Media, we not only value diversity but believe that Black ministry leaders have a unique perspective on Christian history and the gospel. Their experience and unique history can help all of us see the sustaining grace and deliverance of God in a special way. In our extensive library, you’ll find Black teachers and speakers in series covering race relations in the church, books of the Bible, Christian living, and even faith in the workplace.

Keep reading for a list of RightNow Media Original video Bible studies from Black ministry leaders.

Studies on Race Relations and Black Christian History

Through Eyes of Color

Lisa Fields

In this six-session series, Lisa Fields, founder of the Jude3 Project, walks us through the common apologetic questions raised by the Black community and helps us understand how to respond to hard theological questions concerning race.

Urban Apologetics

Eric Mason

Many young people in the Black community are disinterested in Christianity, feeling like the church strips them of their dignity rather than reminding them of their God-given identity. As a result, they turn to ethnocentric ideologies, revisionist history, conspiracy theories, and mystic cults. In this series, Dr. Eric Mason addresses twenty big questions unique to the Black church.

Walk Through a Book of the Bible

The Book of 1 Timothy

Dr. Charlie Dates and Rev. Dr. James Meeks

Join Rev. Dr. James Meeks and his protege Dr. Charlie Dates in this seven-session series as they explore the major themes in Paul’s first letter to Timothy and address the essential questions we need to answer if we want our churches to thrive.

Exodus

Dr. Phillip Pointer

Exodus explores the foundational story of the Israelites and reveals an all-powerful, intimately personal God. In this six-session series, Rev. Dr. Phillip Pointer explores the major themes in the book of Exodus and helps us understand God’s redemptive plan for all humanity.

The Book of Nehemiah

Eric Mason

Whether we’ve felt spiritually stale or devoured by doubts, we’ve all wanted God to renew us. But what does spiritual restoration even look like? In this ten-session series, Dr. Eric Mason shows us how God renewed his people both physically and spiritually.

Studies for Christian Living

The Power of Knowing God

Tony Evans

Dr. Tony Evans believes seeking to know God is life’s greatest purpose. In this practical, six-session video series, he shares strategies and skills for how you can live victoriously as a child of God.

Work as Worship

Nona Jones

Many of us find our work lives to be hollow and lacking in purpose, but the joy of worshipping God can be experienced even in our secularized work environment. In this six-session series, business executive and international speaker Nona Jones shares how our work carries deep spiritual significance and is directly tied to our identity as God’s people.

God’s Uncommon Man

Tony Dungy and James Brown

Do you ever wonder what it looks like to be a man of faith? In this three-session series, sportscaster James Brown and former NFL coach Tony Dungy will teach us what it means to be an ”uncommon man“—a man who follows God faithfully.

Studies for Youth

Truth and Love

Marquise Cox

Join pastor Marquise Cox in this four-session series as he shows us how to speak the truth in love, wrestle with doubts, and talk about Jesus with people who disagree with us. You don’t have to choose between being loving or truthful—in Christ, we can do both.

Different

Jonathan Evans

In this series, Jonathan Evans will walk students through the parables in Luke to teach what it looks like for God to rule our lives. Though a life sold out for Christ might look backward to everyone else, it actually points us back to how God intended our lives to be when he first created us.

Consider watching through one of these series with your small group or as a personal study. We want you to grow closer to God and thrive in your community with the help of diverse voices. God has given us all a voice, and if we want the church to flourish, we must lift every voice.

1
min
9.8.2023

Most Popular Video Bible Studies for Fall 2023

Discipleship

As summer turns to fall, many church small groups are preparing to reconvene. At RightNow Media, we believe that one of the best ways to deeply connect with others is to study God’s Word together.

Whether you’re looking for Bible study video curriculum for adults, kids and families, or teens and youth groups, RightNow Media has something for you. Each one of our studies is thoughtfully designed to disciple viewers and spark insightful conversations that lead to spiritual growth.

Keep reading for a diverse list of RightNow Media Original video Bible studies for every ministry in your church.

Studies for Adult Small Groups

The Beatitudes

Matt Chandler

In this eight-session series, pastor Matt Chandler shows us what it means to live in the kingdom of God. Through Jesus’s teaching, learn what the blessed life really looks like.

The Cost of Control

Sharon Hodde Miller

We often claim to have everything under control—but do we really? In this six-session series, Bible teacher and author Sharon Hodde Miller discusses the way control can cost us a lot more than we could ever imagine and how we can walk in faith knowing God is in complete control.  

The Book of Nehemiah

Eric Mason

In this 10-session series, Dr. Eric Mason teaches us how God renews his people both physically and spiritually. Through the story of Israel’s plight and God’s faithfulness, we see how God preserved his people to carry out his mission of redemption.

Christian Shows for Families and Children

BIBLE BACKROADS

Dave Stotts

Explore Scripture, history, geography, and archaeology in each BIBLE BACKROADS series with Dave Stotts, host of Drive Thru History. Designed for all ages, BIBLE BACKROADS encourages families to dig deeper into the books of the New Testament together.

The Creators

The Creators are a group of friends who join forces to create fun and meaningful short films. Both clever and creative, The Creators weaves biblical truths through engaging stories for kids ages 6–12. Watch Seasons 1 and 2 now and stay tuned for Season 3 coming soon!

Stories from the Storyteller

Stories from the Storyteller is a wholesome, fun, and biblically based cartoon that follows the everyday adventures of Jonathan Evans and his family! Each episode features a parable from the Bible and shows kids how they can learn from the life of Jesus.

Bible Study Curriculum for Youth Groups and Teens

Heart of God

Francis Chan

In this six-session series, Francis Chan takes students on a journey of discovery to the heart of God. Students will walk away knowing God better and loving him more.

Fire and Faithfulness

Sadie Robertson Huff

Discover the lost art of faithfulness in a world that wants nothing to do with God. In this four-session series, you will trek through the story of four young Israelites with Sadie Robertson Huff. Like them, we all face a choice: remain faithful followers of God or follow the crowd. Which will you choose?

Truth and Love

Marquise Cox

Join pastor Marquise Cox in this four-session series as he shows us how to speak the truth in love, wrestle with doubts, and talk about Jesus with people who disagree with us. You don’t have to choose between being loving or truthful—in Christ, we can do both.

If this list doesn’t have what you are looking for, browse our online library of over 20,000 biblical video resources.

Our desire is for small groups, neighbors, friends, and families to live out Hebrews 10:24–25, “Let us consider one another in order to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”

We pray the studies you choose help you grow closer to God and to the people in your life.

1
min
9.1.2023

RightNow Media Around the World: Spotlight on Brazil

Learn about how God is using RightNow Media in Brazil.
Around the World

This fall, we are shining a spotlight on how God is using RightNow Media in Brazil!

RightNow Media launched in São Paulo, Brazil in April 2021 and currently serves over 400 churches across each state of the country. Through a strategic alliance with Nextgen Global Leaders, the team of eight brings quality RightNow Media content in Portuguese to inspire the Brazilian church to live out their faith in Christ.

The Team

Marcelo Robles

Brazil Manager

Marcelo is married to Susi Mary and has two daughters, aged 17 and 19 years old. He has served as a pastor and church planter for 30 years and as Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Argentina for five terms. Marcelo has master’s degrees in accounting, divinity, and cultural anthropology and is a PhD candidate studying at the South African Theological Seminary. Before working with RNM Brazil, Marcelo spent fifteen years leading kingdom businesses in Latin America, overseeing staff teams of up to 40 people.


Dirley Oliveira

Brazil Leader

Dirley Oliveira is married to Juliana Bristot. He is a deacon in the Brazilian Presbyterian Church and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Agency for Evangelization and Communication. Dirley has a degree in social communication and a postgraduate degree in marketing and social media, with over 15 years of experience in digital project management for large companies.


Daniela Ortiz

Content Analyst

Daniela Serraino Ortiz earned a Bachelor of Science for the family, and is a professor of physical education and a social communicator. She worked in the publishing world for more than 20 years. She is an active part of the leadership of the Buenas Nuevas church in the city of Buenos Aires. Daniela is a wife and mother of three children.

Studies from RightNow Media in Brazil

Our library of original studies from Brazil continues to grow as we connect with trusted Christian leaders and teachers across the country. These series serve the global church by providing high-quality video content that focuses on discipleship, families, leadership, and more. While these series are not taught in English, we encourage you to look at some of their most recent original releases to experience how God is using RightNow Media content around the world.

Salt and Light Ronaldo Lidório
Father, Man of Courage Hernandes Dias Lopes
Paul, His Life and Legacy Hernandes Dias Lopes

Impact

God is using RightNow Media to help equip and encourage pastors and leaders to make disciples within their congregations and communities. Pastor Anderson Peterman of the Presbyterian Church of Limeira in São Paulo shared with us how the platform is supporting his church:

"The RightNow Media platform...contains series with short episodes and support materials in PDF format, which significantly assist the dynamics of discipleship. Everything is done with high-quality graphics, counting on the collaboration of pastors committed to the Gospel."

Our strategic alliance with NextGen Global Leaders in Brazil and beyond has allowed us to expand our ministry to 5,000 global churches across 121 countries. Read more about the impact RightNow Media is making in other regions around the world:

To see more original content with churches outside of the US, check out our International Voices library on RightNow Media.

1
min
8.25.2023

How to Be a Successful Church Planter

Church planting is a lot of things: a risky calling, an entrepreneurial challenge, and an overwhelming journey that forces us to be completely reliant on God.

Church planting is a lot of things: a risky calling, an entrepreneurial challenge, an administrative juggling act, and an overwhelming journey that forces us to rely completely on God.

In the early days, it can be thrilling to plant a church. There is so much potential, so much hope. We want to do everything we can to make our churches succeed. However, we often equate growth with success, and while we know that God is the one who builds the church, we may still feel an urgent need to manufacture momentum.

We want our churches to “get big” as quickly as possible, and for good reasons. Size creates financial stability, multiplies our impact, and lets pastors delegate responsibilities to gifted leaders. So why wouldn’t we want rapid growth and good momentum? Momentum creates excitement. Momentum turns congregations into movements. Momentum is what turns small house church planters into recognizable pastors with influence and acclaim.

But momentum can also be a poisoned chalice.

The Dangers of Momentum

While we rush to brainstorm growth strategies, we don’t often stop to consider the costs or pitfalls of growth. Church planting is demanding work, and we can assume that once we hit one hundred, five hundred, or a thousand members then things will calm down. Only too late do we realize that the work never slows down without us intentionally hitting the brakes.

We don’t have to look far to find friends or famous pastors who have burnt out and are no longer in ministry. We can all name fellow leaders who became enamored with church size or rooted their identity in their sermon views. Those stories don’t end well.

There are good and righteous reasons for a church to grow, but when growth is our goal, God can cease to be our aim. Is growth worth the potential cost? Would you drink that cup even if it sapped the vibrancy out of your relationship with God, your family, or your church community?

For many of us, the answer would be “no.” But how can we avoid the allure and dangers of momentum?

Easy: before we daydream about what our church will be in five years, we need to decide what success looks like today.

Redefining Success

In Hebrews 11:32–38, we find an odd pairing of saints. The first group “conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight” (CSB). The second group of saints was tortured, destitute, and misunderstood. Which group would you say was successful? According to the author of Hebrews, the answer is both. Saints are not judged by their circumstances or fates, but by their faithfulness.

Your value as a church planter is not found in your church’s size, but in being loved by God.

Your identity is not found in being a best-selling author, popular podcaster, or leadership guru, but in who God says you are. Your purpose is not to build God’s church, but to faithfully make disciples.

When faithfulness is our goal, the pressures of rapid growth look like nothing more than glittering distractions. Sermons are an opportunity to faithfully proclaim Jesus, not a platform for our personality. Leadership becomes an opportunity to serve rather than to domineer and lord over our staff and volunteers. The people in our church become our focus rather than the empty seats.

Your church’s size plays no role in your ability to be faithful.

Therefore, your church size cannot be an indicator of your success. If God does not judge your church by its appearance, why would we?

Being obedient to God will lead each of us to different outcomes. Some churches may launch with hundreds of people, while others never grow beyond a small group meeting in a living room. Both can be faithful, successful churches. God is the one who changes hearts and saves lives. He builds his church. We are servants in his house—there is no reason for us to manufacture what only he can do.

Our responsibility is to be faithful to him no matter where he takes us.

1
min
8.11.2023

Habits Worth Honing

Our habits, whether good or bad, are shaping our work experience. What could it look like to establish positive habits at work?

When we’ve worked in one place long enough, we realize that the people—more than the product or service—are what make or break our experience.

Developing collegial relationships with coworkers and excelling in our work requires us to build habits—regular practices that govern our everyday behavior and which influence our potential to meet our objectives.

We all already have workplace habits. Some of us walk into the office every morning with a cup of coffee in hand, fueled for the day. Some of us work more isolated, with our headphones on, while others keep a more open posture to interruptions. There’s also the regular, mid-morning break we take at the same time every day to say hello to colleagues down the hall.

Not all habits, of course, prove helpful. Mid-afternoon gossip sessions erode relational trust, as will complaining without seeking solutions.

Our habits, whether good or bad, are shaping our work performance and experience. What could it look like to establish positive habits in the way we relate to our coworkers?

In his book Habits, author and speaker Marcus Goodloe highlights three relational habits that will bring us more fulfillment in our work. The better coworkers we become, the sooner we can improve our work lives and relationships for the better.

Assume the Best in Others

I was eleven years old when I first decided to follow Jesus. One of the first changes I made after becoming a Christian was deciding to believe the best about people until proven otherwise. The toughest test for my resolution was the little third-grade neighbor boy who tormented me at the bus stop. I walked to the bus stop reminding myself to not expect him to annoy me. Maybe he would, but I would begin the day by giving him the benefit of the doubt. When we expect people to disappoint us or react negatively, we set them up for failure and ourselves for frustration. We’ve judged them based on their past, or on our assumptions, neither of which encourages a positive interaction in the present.

As the year progressed, he didn’t bother me as much. Was he the one who changed, or did I? Very possibly, my new attitude somehow communicated itself to him, and we both changed for the better. My husband, a public school administrator who constantly interacts with parents, teachers, and other school employees, calls it “positive presupposition.” When we enter an encounter at work assuming the best, we offer the other person an open mind, a measure of trust, and dignity. If we can put our biases behind us and interact with others from a clean slate, we honor them.

Will some people disappoint us? Of course. But we will know that we gave them a fair shake. And don’t we all appreciate it when others approach us with positive presupposition? When we get into the habit of assuming the best, our work relationships will become healthier and more effective.

Treat Others as Sacred

One of the reasons we are to assume the best in others is that every person is made in the image of God. Everyone is sacred, or holy. The dignity inherent in each individual demands that we treat them with the respect and honor we all deserve.

Think about what makes you feel valued. Do you appreciate having people make eye contact with you when you are speaking with them? What does it do to you inside when you realize someone is actually listening as you share your concerns, ideas, or dreams? How do you feel when your supervisor asks about your family, remembers a significant day in your life, or assigns you a project that lines up with your passion? Small gestures carry a big weight because they tell us that we are seen and matter.

Seek Community

If you’ve ever played sports, you know the power of teamwork. Each player performs his or her role while depending on teammates to do theirs. Only together do they have a chance of winning. Even athletes in solitary sports like tennis or swimming will admit they cannot win without their coaches, trainers, family, and fellow athletes. We cannot succeed alone. Working in community is an exercise in humility, as we admit we lack certain abilities or talents. But that humility leads to thriving.

We think more creatively, more expansively, and more honestly when we are bouncing ideas off other people. We need each other for inspiration, support, and fine-tuning.

Let’s get in the habit of consulting others, encouraging colleagues, and creating a team that can rely on one another.  

The essence of a workplace is the people, not the product. The better we treat one another, the more fulfilling we’ll find our work and the more excellent our work will become. When we assume the best, relate to each other with dignity, and actively seek to work in community, we will make our workplace a place to flourish.

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7.28.2023

The Means and Methods of Christian Political Engagement

How can we take seriously the responsibility of civic engagement in a way that mimics and glorifies Jesus?

The United States is a unique place. We enjoy innumerable freedoms, prosperity beyond belief, and endless opportunities.

But what makes America especially unique is that our government, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, is a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” In other words, the responsibility for ordering the life of the country falls squarely upon its citizens. We vote, advocate, and even call our representatives to account because we all have a share in the stewardship of this country.

But today, when American politics feels so topsy-turvy, it’s easy to fall prey to the political spirit of our age. The country seems as angry and divided as it’s ever been and, if we’re honest, the church is sometimes guilty of joining in that divisiveness ourselves. But Christians ought to serve as a contrast to much of what we see in the public sphere—not merely as good, civil people, but as those who engage in the way of Christ. So, how can we do that? How can we take seriously the responsibility we’ve inherited in a way that mimics and glorifies Jesus?

Christian Political Engagement

In his book Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel, Dr. Russell Moore writes that “We are Americans best when we are not Americans first.” Stated differently, only when we prioritize our heavenly citizenship and apply its values here and now are we able to exercise our duties as American citizens most faithfully.

In many ways, the economy of American politics is at odds with what we value as Christians. Whereas politics values charisma, the kingdom values humility (Matthew 5:5); whereas politics values power, the kingdom values service (Matthew 20:24–28); whereas politics (in its current form) values and even incentivizes division, the kingdom values peacemaking (Matthew 5:9). There is a gulf, in other words, between the beliefs and ethics embedded in American politics and those we inherited upon gaining citizenship in the kingdom of God. But that doesn’t mean we’re being called to disengage politically; it means we’re called to engage.

Galatians 5 shows us how to live and engage in a different way, as good citizens of both kingdoms: by the Spirit, with the fruit of the Spirit, for the good of our neighbors.

By the Spirit

How can we keep our footing in a cultural-political current rushing so swiftly away from truth? “By the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16).

In a disorienting time like ours, we are called by Christ to “live by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25), to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18); “be led by the Spirit” (Romans 8:14); “walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16); “keep in step with the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25); and “bear the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22–23). More concretely, living by the Spirit means that we depend on him for guidance in everything we do, from talking politics with family to engaging online to standing up for what’s true and good. A life lived in fellowship with the Spirit is a prerequisite, and ongoing requirement, of faithful political engagement.

Whenever we enter the political sphere, we should always ask, “What would be the most faithful way to honor God in this situation?”

With the Fruit of the Spirit

Much of our politics is seething with a spirit opposed to the way of Christ, wooing our hearts and our tongues to engage in “idolatry,” “hatreds,” “strife,” “outbursts of anger,” “dissensions,” “factions,” “and anything similar” (Galatians 5:20–21). But the people of God are commanded not to “practice such things” (Galatians 5:21).

Instead, when we live by the Spirit we will bear the fruit of the Spirit, engaging others—even those with whom we disagree—with “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). We must resolve not to act in the way of the world, to fight fire with fire, so that we might be defined by the attributes of God.

For Our Neighbors

Living with the fruit of the Spirit is not merely an internal reality, but a commitment to serve others in a godly manner. Since our system of government, as Lincoln asserted, is “by the people” and “for the people,” we have the opportunity to leverage our political engagement as a means of obeying the great commandment (Matthew 22:37–40)—to create a government that works for our neighbors in love. And there are plenty of ways—large and small—that we can serve and engage for the good of others: we can vote men and women of character into office, advocate for policies that benefit the most vulnerable among us, engage in charitable dialogue with those “across the aisle,” and maybe even run for office ourselves!

We should be involved in politics as an exercise of love for our neighbors.

The muddled state of American politics can be disheartening. And if we’re not careful, we can convince ourselves to throw up our hands and disengage entirely. But we are invited by Jesus to “let [our] light shine before others”—from our homes to the halls of Congress—“that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). As you look out over the state of American culture and politics, let your light shine by looking for ways to engage by the Spirit, with the fruit of the Spirit, for the good of your neighbors.

For an in-depth look at the way our faith should inform our political engagement and the specific issues Christians should be involved with, watch For the Health of the Nation, a series RightNow Media produced in collaboration with the National Association of Evangelicals.

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