Traits of Effective Church Leaders

TRAITS  OF EFFECTIVE CHURCH LEADERSSome people are born leaders. Some have to really work on it to develop their effective leadership. Regardless of which umbrella you fall under, I have seen that there are a few traits to being an effective church leader.

  • Bible Centered – The most effective church leaders hold to the Bible as their final authority. If you want to be an effective pastor, be Bible centered and never waver.
  • Vision Driven – The most effective leaders possess an outwardly focused vision. Some church leaders are more interested in the ones inside the church walls and neglect the people outside of the church walls. If you want to be effective as a church leader, you must be committed to reaching people who are lost.
  • Lover of People – Now, this does not mean that every effective church leader must be a people person, but it does mean that they genuinely love people. Everything that effective church leaders do is driven by a love for God which results in a love for people.
  • Persistence – I believe we have too much turnover rate among church leaders. Whether it is a senior pastor, student pastor, or another capacity within the church, the turnover rates are alarming. We rarely see persistence anymore. To see the most fruit out of a ministry, we must endure and be persistent.

5 Characteristics of a Great Team

5 CHARACTERISTICS OF A GREAT TEAMI love sports! In fact, if you know me, I love Duke (hopefully, this does mean I lose my reading audience). I love all Duke University sports. I grew up in NC and have been an avid Duke team since I was young. As you know, if you follow sports, the Duke University men’s basketball team won the national title this past year. If you followed them throughout the season, you would have never thought that it was possible for that team to win the title. Duke relied heavily on freshman, they had one of their best players kicked off the team mid-season, and only had 8 scholarship players. The difference in them losing and winning was that they became a legit team mid-season.

Developing a team is so important whether it is a sports team, a business, or a church. I want to share a few  characteristics of a great team.

  1. Unity – I have been in churches that were not unified, and the team failed. I have been in other situations where the team experienced true unity, and it was a beautiful thing. Unity is vastly important, and it requires each member of the team to put aside their personal preferences for what is best for the entire team.
  2. Character – Character is at the heart of the team. Each member of the team must demonstrate genuine character when building great teams that last. Without character, the rest of the team characteristics are useless.
  3. Chemistry – Building great teams require team chemistry. This is all of the way down to the hiring process. Hire people who fit. One thing that amazes me is that so often churches hire people who do not fit in the church. This will not build a great team.
  4. Diversity – What I love about Trinity (where I serve currently) is the diversity of our team. We have young pastors and old pastors. We have conservative pastors and some more progressive pastors. We have different personalities on our team. Teams that cannot look past differences and accept diversity will limit their ability to build a great team. They may build a pretty good team, but they will not build a great team.
  5. Competency – I listed this last for a reason. This is so important, but in my experience, this is not the most important. For instance, someone can have the degrees, the experience, and the intelligence that can make them a great team player, but if they lack chemistry and unity– the team can become dysfunctional.

For those of you who serve on a team in a business or a church, the team that we serve on is critical, and we play an integral part to the success of the team in its entirety. It is my desire that we build healthy teams that contain people of character who are committed to unity, who are diverse, and who have the skills to reach the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Book Review: Onward by Russell Moore

OnwardRussell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, offers an intelligent approach to engaging culture without losing the Gospel in his new book entitled, Onward. In his book, Moore suggests engaging culture in an entirely different way than many Christians interpret their relationship with culture. He calls his way engaged alienation. His “engaged alienation” offers a completely different approach that might surprise many by his interesting suggestions.

Moore summarizes his top objectives and beliefs about engaging culture into several topics. Human dignity, religious liberty, family stability, and convictional kindness are his major themes mentioned in the book. He suggests that these are the major pathways to successfully engaging the culture in modern society without losing the truth of the Gospel in the middle of it.

What might surprise many is the bold approach  that Moore takes in his suggestions. For example, Moore suggests doing away with the Bible belt. This is heresy too many Christians. Trust me, I know considering I lived in the heart of the Bible belt for most of my life. Moore suggests that the Bible belt made it the norm to follow Jesus, and he believes that it has never been the norm to follow Jesus. In fact, it is the abnormal thing to do since Bible times. Moore also critiques several aspects of the belief system of the right and the left. He was not entirely republican or democrat in his book. He was a Biblicist, and he was trying to get Christians to align themselves with the Bible and what the Bible says about our influence in the culture. He was extremely political considering the relevancy of the many political topics plaguing our nation today. He took an intelligent approach with a Christian’s response when he suggests that Muslims should have their rights. Some will disagree with his sentiments, but he is helping Christians get a picture of engaging the culture without losing the Gospel and the freedom to preach the true Gospel in the middle of it.

Moore corrects some of the traditional Christians beliefs about certain passages used to engage culture. For example, the famous passage of II Chronicles 7:14 when the Bible says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and heal their land.” This passage has been preached at the major rally’s and likely gets the most amen’s of many passages in the Bible, but Moore points out the problem with using this passage as frequently as believers do when speaking about America.

If you are looking to engage the culture with a Biblical and intelligent view, then Onward is a book that  you must read. Moore says it best when he says, “We can be Americans best if we are not Americans first.”

Russell MooreAbout Dr. Moore: Russell Moore serves as the eighth president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

Prior to his election to this role in 2013, Moore served as provost and dean of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also taught as professor of theology and ethics.

A widely-sought cultural commentator, Dr. Moore has been recognized by a number of influential organizations. The Wall Street Journal has called him “vigorous, cheerful, and fiercely articulate” while The Gospel Coalition has referred to him “one of the most astute ethicists in contemporary evangelicalism.”

Dr. Moore blogs frequently at his Moore to the Point website, and hosts a program called Questions & Ethics—a wide-ranging podcast in which Dr. Moore answers listener-generated questions on the difficult moral and ethical issues of the day. In addition, he is the author of several books, including Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ and Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches.

An ordained minister, Dr. Moore has served as a pastor for a number of Southern Baptist churches—most recently serving as preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church from 2008-2012. A native Mississippian, he and his wife Maria are the parents of five boys.

Ways To Keep Young People In Church After Graduation

ChurchAlthough there are many blog posts and books written on the subject of keeping young adults in church after they graduate high school, I want to narrow the solution down to four practical solutions for churches to adapt in order to keep young adults in church when they graduate.

Biblical Depth

Sam Rainer who has been heavily involved in the study of the millennials with Lifeway records that students who hear sound sermons each week, are involved in a small group Bible study, and those that study the Bible on their own are the ones who rarely drop out.[1] I feel that church leaders for years have felt that the solution to keeping young adults in church is through really cool technology, relevancy, casual environment, and contemporary music. I am not against any of these things. In fact, all of the things listed are good things, but they cannot be the most important thing. In fact, millennials do like these things, but according to the research done by the Barna Group as well as Lifeway Research, we find that millennials value Biblical depth much more. Rainer’s challenge to church leaders: go deeper![2]


The second way to keep young people in church is through a mentorship program. It has been proven that teenagers who are being mentored and discipled by an adult are less likely to leave the church when they graduate high school. In fact, I believe that churches have gone away from a mentorship program in most cases. The best example that we find of a good mentorship program is in Scripture through the relationship of the Apostle Paul and young Timothy. The Baker Encyclopedia on the Bible described their relationship this way:

“The apostle Paul, undoubtedly Timothy’s spiritual father, refers to him as “my true child in the faith” (1 Tm 1:2); he perhaps converted Timothy on his first or second missionary journey. The son of a Greek (or gentile) father, Timothy was yet uncircumcised; however, when Paul decided to take Timothy with him on the second journey, he had him circumcised, so as not to hinder their missionary endeavors among the Jews. Timothy, who was “well-spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium” (Acts 16:2), became Paul’s companion and assistant on his second missionary journey at Lystra.[3]

Here we see the Apostle Paul investing in the life of a young adult, Timothy. From this description of their relationship we find that Paul disciple Timothy, he challenged Timothy with practical ministry application, he ministered with Timothy, he did life with Timothy, and he gave leadership away to Timothy. That is a good mentorship program, and if this was done more frequently, I believe that it would reduce the rate of young adults leaving the church.

Connecting Earlier to the Local Church

In youth ministry, teenagers are usually involved in a heavy program. In fact, most youth ministries are programmatic in nature, almost to a fault. They can be so programmatic that they pull teenagers out of “big church” (what it is referred to by teenagers) and into the youth program. Then when students graduate out of the youth ministry, they do not know how to handle adult church, because they have not been exposed to the adult side of church. According to Lifeway’s Research, 20% of young adults left because they did not feel connected to the people in the church. Brad Waggoner, vice president of research and ministry development for Lifeway said this after they uncovered their research on the epidemic of young adults leaving the church: “Relationships are often the glue that keeps people in church or serves as the attraction to begin attending again following a period of absenteeism. Many people are deeply influenced by friends and loved ones. Church leaders should passionately and consistently challenge church members to maximize their influence with youth and young adults. Frequent and intentional contact can either prevent or counteract the tendency of some to drop out of church.”[4] I think it is crucial to have teenagers in adult services regularly. Teenagers should be involved in serving in the local church. Teenagers should be allowed to usher, sing in the choir or through special music, play in the worship band, volunteer, etc. In other words, students should be involved. It is proven through Lifeway’s study that students who are involved and connected are much more likely to stay when they graduate high school.

Have a Singles Ministry

Many churches have absolutely nothing more than a Sunday school class for young adults. Some churches do not even have a class for that age; they just send the college students into classes with all of the adults. Now one could argue that placing them in adult classes can be healthy, and I tend to agree to a certain extent, but you have to have something that brings that group together. Sam Rainer lists several aspects of a good singles ministry that will keep young adults. First, the singles ministry must have Biblical depth. We are not going to spend much time here, because this was one of the overall themes of the entire church that needs to happen to retain young adults. Secondly, set high expectations. 96% of millennials say that they believe that they can do something great. 77% said that they are motivated to make a difference by serving others in society [5] this is great news for the rest of the world, because it is clear that the majority of the millennial generation wants to make a meaningful contribution to society. Therefore the singles ministry must set a high expectation to do something great if they want to keep young adults. Third, Rainer suggests keeping them with multiplication (evangelism). Rainer states that “every church we have studied that is effectively reaching and retaining young adults is highly intentional about evangelism.”[6] Lastly, Rainer suggests keeping them through simplicity, namely discipleship. He challenges churches to possess a strategic discipleship structure.

Although these suggestions may seem simple, they can go a long way. The church must address the epidemic plaguing most churches. When churches address the epidemic, they will find that things must change, or the millennials will not attend their church. When young adults feel that the church is interested in making a difference, they will come.

[1]           Sam Rainer, “Four Keys to Keeping Young Adults in Church.” (Accessed June 12, 2015).

[2]           Ibid.

[3]           Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 2069.


[5]           Thom Rainer and Jess Rainer, The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2011), 116.


Reasons Young People Are Leaving The Church

Why they leave blog postI can still remember it. I was a full time youth pastor doing the usual responsibilities that I had of giving the announcements to the entire church on Sunday morning. Isn’t that what all youth pastors are supposed to do on Sunday mornings? As I sat on stage preparing to share what was going on in the church, I noticed the large group of students that were assembled in the crowd. I was proud to see such a good number, and seeing this assumed in my mind that I was doing a fantastic job as a youth pastor. Then, something hit me like a ton of bricks. I began to notice the rest of the crowd. I began to notice that there was a massive gap in age in our church. For example, there were hardly any young adults in the service. If my memory serves me correctly, there were roughly 35-40 teenagers in the service, and then maybe 3-5 who fell between the ages of 19 and 30. I noticed that statistic was a major problem in the health of our church. As I examined our church, I began to look around, and I noticed that our epidemic was not just our epidemic. This epidemic is universal. Many churches in America struggle with keeping young adults in church. After researching the reasons, here are some of the top reasons young adults are leaving our churches today:

“Church Members seemed Judgmental or Hypocritical”

According to Lifeway Research, 58% of those who left the church listed a church related issue as to their reason for leaving. The most common was that they felt that the church members were judgmental or hypocritical.[1] Thom Rainer records in his book Essential Church that 84% of young adults claim to know a committed Christian. Of the 84%, only 15% of those young adults see a marked change in their lifestyle from the rest of the secular world.[2] Hypocrisy in the church is a major problem. Jesus said in Matthew’s Gospel in his conversation with the Pharisees, “So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.[3] Martin Manser, the Bible Expositor, stated this: “An outward pretense masking an inner reality. Scripture condemns hypocrisy, especially in matters of faith. Believers should express their commitment to God in their words and their deeds, as well as in their inner motivation.”[4] The concept of hypocrisy actually refers to wearing a mask. It is the idea that you are being someone that you are not. Rachel Evans, writer for CNN’s belief blog, said something extra profound in her 2013 article entitled Why Millennials are Leaving the church. She said,

“Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates  edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving. But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances. In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.”[5]

Young adults can spot hypocrisy from a mile away. D.C. McAllister wrote an interesting article in April of this year entitled, “How not to communicate to Millennials like Hozier.” In the article, McAllister is challenging church leaders in the way they communicate with the millennial generation. The article came in response to a Virginia pastor who sent an open letter to Hozier after he published his secular hit song entitled Take me to church. The premise of the song is a proponent of the LGBT movement. The song openly blasts the hypocrisy found within the church. The article is not regarding the song; the article is in response to how church leaders engage conversation with millennials about these specific things. McAllister said in her article,

“They [young adults] really hate the hypocrisy—and it’s there. Sexual issues are a big part of it. Nothing irritates a millennial more than seeing homosexuality singled out as the big sin, while Christians have premarital sex, get divorces, watch porn, and cheat on their spouses. It’s not that Christians necessarily do these things more than unbelievers (that’s an unfounded claim), but they do them—and, as Jesus said, if nothing else, they lust in their hearts, so some humility (not to mention perspective) is called for. When millennials start hearing Christians condemns homosexuals without admitting their own failings, they stop listening.”[6]

Although, I do not agree with the article in its entirety, McAllister is exactly right in her response to the hypocrisy found in churches. Churches are not to be perfect, but it is true that many churches elevate certain sins such as homosexuality over other sins, and young adults call this hypocrisy. Matthew 5 records the conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus tells the Pharisees that they are as bad as the adulterers because they have already committed adultery in their hearts. Now, obviously the sin has different results, but to God, the sin of thinking about adultery is the same as going out and committing adultery. To a millennial, someone who fantasizes in their mind about sex is as guilty as someone who is a public homosexual. Millennials hate hypocrisy, and the church must limit their hypocrisy if they intend to keep millennials in church.

Their Faith is Shallow

David Kinnaman, president of the Barna group, published a book on this subject entitled “You Lost Me.” In his book, Kinnaman suggests that the shallowness of the millennial’s faith has two sides. First, you have the young adults who have a superficial understanding of the faith and of the Bible. Kinnaman states that this group has faith which is an inch deep. Second, we find faith communities that convey a lot of information about God rather than discipling young believers to live wholly and deeply in the reality of God. “When you put these two together, the result is a generation of young adults whose faith is an inch deep and a mile wide- too shallow to survive and too broad to make a difference.”[7] Kinnaman and the Barna Group conducted a survey of over 1200 young adults in 2011. Here are the results of their survey:

Completely True of Me           Mostly True of Me
Church is boring                                                             16%                                      31%
Faith is not  relevant to my career or my interests         13%                                      24%
My church does not prepare me for real life                  9%                                        23%
My church does not help me find my purpose              9%                                        23%
The Bible is not taught clearly or often enough             7%                                        23%
God seems missing from my experience of church       7%                                        20%

These statistics may not seem like large percentages, but they do represent millions of young adults.[8]

Life Changes

Probably the most universal and frequent reason young adults are leaving the church is life changes. 27% of young adults said that they left the church because they simply wanted a break from church. 22% said that they moved away from the church and could not find a new church within driving distance that they wanted to attend. 25% claimed that the reason they left was that they went off to college. 23% said that work took them out of church.[9] All of these statistics show the different life stages of being a young adult. College, work, moving away, and the ability to make their own schedules are all stages that young adults go through. It is more difficult to balance these life stages along with spiritual growth when you have more freedom as a young adult.

Religious, Ethical, or Political Reasons

18% said that they left the church because they disagreed with the church’s political or social issues, and that they were attending church to please others (17%). 52% of the young adults polled identified a religious, ethical, or political reason as a contribution to the reason that they left the church.[10] This is likely the most obvious of the reasons people leave the church as a whole.

All of the reasons mentioned are valid reasons for a young adult to consider leaving. It is important to note that 80% of the young adults who were polled had no real intention of leaving the church to begin with. This implies that the reasons they gave for leaving are legit concerns that the church is faced with in regards to keeping the young adults in church. In fact, I would venture that the statistics given in Lifeway’s research disproves Ken Ham and Britt Beemer’s belief that the majority of the young adults who leave church were already gone long before they graduated high school. Ken Ham along with Britt Beemer published the popular book Already Gone. In their book, they seek to prove that the majority of young adults left the church mentally and spiritually early in their teenage years.[11] Now, I do agree with some of their sentiments in the book, I do not believe that it is true in its entirety. Lifeway’s research suggests otherwise. The majority of the young adults polled said that they had no intention of leaving until they were faced with the different life stages that came after high school graduation.


[2]           Thom Rainer and Sam Rainer, Essential Church: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2008), 104.

[3]           The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Mt 23:28.

[4]           Martin H. Manser, Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies (London: Martin Manser, 2009).

[5]           Rachel Evans, “Why Millennials are Leaving the Church.”, (Accessed June 12, 2015).

[6]           D.C. McAllister, “How not to Communicate with Millennials.”, (Accessed June 12, 2015).

[7]           David Kinnaman, You Lost Me: Why Young Christians are Leaving Church…And Rethinking Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing, 2011), 114-115.

[8]           Ibid, 116.


[10]          Ibid.

[11]          Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, Already Gone: Why your Kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009), 33-34.

Book Review: The Happy Christian by David Murray

the happy  christianI have to admit that I was a bit skeptical while reading this book. When you write a book on happiness, you always tend to get a book that guilts people into being happy more often than not or you get a book filled with ignorance. Look, life stinks sometimes. That is the reality of life so I was very curious at the way that Murray would handle an idea such as a happiness. Here are three highlights about the book:

  1. Murray looks at the Why of a Christian’s Happiness – David Murray did a fantastic job explaining the why of a Christian’s happiness. He pointed out that Christians who have experienced the true Gospel have a reason to be happy even when the world around them is rather gloomy. The reason we have to be happy is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. David writes, “The church has not always been successful in communicating the Bible’s uplifting and inspiring message.”  Murray challenges churches to  speak to the happy, inspiring, and uplifting message that is presented in the Gospel.
  2. The practicality and relevance of the book – Murray mentions several things that are extremely practical that can discourage a Christian and therefore they would lose their happiness. Murray writes that too much immersion into the news outlets can diminish a person’s happiness. This is so true, relevant, and practical. How many times have we watched the news and went away discouraged by what we saw and the state of our world? He also mentioned that focusing on the past can be problematic toward a person’s happiness. These are great things that I felt the book had throughout. It was relevant and practical to the life of a believer in modern society.
  3. The Commitment to the Gospel – I always knew where Murray stood on the Gospel, and that is one thing that I love about him and his writing. That is why I was very encouraged to see that he never wavered from his commitment to the Gospel in this book, particularly in chapter three. Murray suggests that when Jesus was on the cross, He said “It is finished,” and He meant it. His point was that the war is over. The battle has been won. The devil has been defeated, and in three days, the grave would be overcome. This truth trumps any discouraging thing that happens to us in this world that we live. Now, Murray doesn’t suggest that a believer can never be down. In fact, I felt that he was balanced throughout, but he is saying that we do not need to be defined by discouraging circumstances, and within the discouragement of the circumstances, we can find happiness in the Gospel.

In Conclusion, I would suggest the book to believers and to unbelievers. It is practical and can help answer some questions about a person’s faith. The book was not a game changer and did not shed new light onto a subject, but it pointed out many reminders that are lost in our sermons, articles, and books about a believer’s happiness.

Note:  I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive/negative review.

Book Review: Ordinary by Tony Merida

OrdinaryBy: Mark Etheridge

The American church culture loves the extraordinary. We love the big conferences, the flamboyant concerts, and the rock star pastors. Yet, when it comes down to it, will these be the factors that will make the most impact in our world today? In his book, “Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down” Tony Merida challenges the contemporary ideas of how the church will impact the world, and provides insightful alternatives to answer this question. Merida explains the answer is not to become more “extraordinary” but rather to become more “ordinary” by showing gospel intentionality within the ordinary rhythms of life. I found this a very challenging and insightful book to read, so here are a few takeaways from this helpful book:

  • This book encourages the church to live ordinary by extending their arms of mercy ministry for the sake of the gospel: I will admit that I often get nervous when I hear people speak about ministries of mercy or social justice. I tend to assume the primary motives are simply for the physical well-being of individuals instead of their spiritual well-being. However, Merida helps explain this is not an either/or issue, but is instead a both/and issue. God is concerned for both the physical and spiritual needs of people, and this should be the concern of the church as well. Merida says, “Let’s embrace mercy ministry under the shadow of the cross” (pg. 28).
  • This book promotes hospitality as one of the most effective means of living the ordinary life: In the times I’ve spent overseas and interactions with people from other cultures, I began to notice American culture is not very keen on allowing others into their homes. The home is seen more as a right of passage to Americans, and only those who are considered close friends will be granted the opportunity into one’s home. However, this concept of hospitality was very important in the Bible, and is exemplified by Jesus in the gospels (particularly the book of Luke). Inviting others into your home for a meal opens up a wide array of opportunities to serve others, and show them the love of Christ. Yet this is challenging, and is counter cultural for many of us, but in order to do it we must put to death our own idolatry. Merida states, “We must kill the idea, ‘My home is my refuge.’ I often hear people say that. It’s idolatry. Jesus is our refuge. We need to open our homes to people.”
  • This book shows the necessity for ordinary people to care for the broken and marginalized of society: A majority of this book is spent on this very issue. Merida mentions how this was a blind spot in his life for so long, but now he realizes the necessity of the church to care for the downcast of society. I can say the same is true for me. This book will challenge to serve those who are hurting in ways you’ve never thought of, or perhaps never considered all together. Merida provides a wealth of scriptural support from both Old and New Testaments to illustrate how this issue is near to the heart of God. The reality is that God is a Father who has welcomed the broken, oppressed, and orphaned in His family. What a privilege it is to reflect in our lives what the Father has done for us! Merida also provides several practical ways to be involved, along with other helpful resources to be a part of God’s global mission in this way.

This book was incredibly challenging, and I encourage you to read it, and pray it will do the same for you. There is also a bible study curriculum produced in conjunction with this book, which will assist you in teaching this content in your local church. Here’s the link to this material: I am personally planning to begin a series in our student ministry using this content. May you and I both be encouraged to live more ordinary for the sake of the gospel.

Here are some notable quotes from this work:

“If you really want to stop human trafficking, then stop looking at porn. You’re perpetuating the problem of modern-day slavery, and failing to live a just life.” (pg. 11)

“Love involves compassion that leads to action.” (pg. 20)

“Jesus was separated from sin, but never isolated from people.” (pg. 47)

“We care for the fatherless in view of, in obedience to, and for the glory of, the ‘Father of the fatherless’.” (pg. 77)

“Speaking up for the voiceless is part of ordinary Christian discipleship. It’s not all there is to discipleship, but it’s part of being salt and light in the world.” (pg. 94)

“Jesus was the perfect example of living by God’s Word, for the good of others, and the glory of God.” (pg. 121)

Tony Merida is the leader pastor of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, NC and serves as an associate professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Kimberly, have five adopted children.

Mark Etheridge currently serves as Youth Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Pittsboro, NC. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Master of Divinity program in Christian ministry. You can connect with Mark on both Twitter and Facebook.