by Bob Roberts Jr.

I had so much fun last week speaking and participating at the SENTRALIZED CONFERENCE put on by Lance Ford and Brad Briscoe.  As usual Alan Hirsch is brilliant and listening to Ori Brafman was a treat.  I always learn something from Neil Cole.  Brad and Lance we’re really good.  Caesar Kalinowski really did excellent teaching on the Holy Spirit.  Michael Frost brought such a great word on grace . . . I could go on and on.  One of the things I like about this conference is the freshness of questioning everything – even themselves!  That’s transparency and real thinking in my book.  So as we began the session Saturday morning they talked about the whole “missional movement” and where it is heading, where it is running out of steam, why that is, if it is, and what needs to happen?  The answers were simple, Brad talked about loving people, Caesar talked about being filled with the Holy Spirit, and Michael talked about living in grace.  I’ve heard some mega-church pastors have the same conversation about the “mega-church movement”.  Read more

Blog: Lessons of local engagement through adoption

Special guest post by Mitch Jolly, Teaching Pastor at Three Rivers Community Church

At our church the pastors are all bi-vocational and while being part of the fabric of our town I began serving as a board member for the Department of Family and Children Services. One challenge we have in our town is that we have 200-300 children from new-born to 18 years old in foster care with roughly 7-10 foster / adoptive homes available. You do the math. There are simply not enough homes for orphans or those that are about to become orphans.

In 2007, Jennifer and I had two boys, spaced 2 years apart. We wanted a third child and began to feel the desire to adopt a child from our town, being part of the solution to our town’s evident need. We began to pray and soon found our desires to adopt matched the sex, age and race of a child in need of adoption. We both wanted a 2 year old, African-American, boy. We wanted a 2 year old because that would make our boys 6, 4 and 2. They would be able to wear hand-me-downs! We wanted a boy, well, because he could wear the already boy stuff we had. Finally, we wanted an African-American child because that was our desire that we believe God put in our hearts.

This story is deeply complex and nuanced and more than can be written in a single blog, but there are 5 lessons we learned from our adoption inside the context of the town we serve that I would  like to share them with you. Read more

Blog: God’s Promises Every Church Planter Should Know

By Bob Roberts Jr.

SO YOU’RE GOING TO START A CHURCH!!! HALLELUJAH!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! No doubt, you’re reading books, heading to some great conferences, in a cohort, talking to former church planters and pastors, gathering all the information you can to plant a church that glorifies God, extends the kingdom, and reaches your city and the world. There are some things that are very important to understand, to the degree that if you don’t – you could “lose” you’re soul in all the stress, challenges, and learning you’re about to do.

First, stay obsessed with Jesus! Read more

Blog: 10 Marks I Look for in Exceptional Church Planters – Part 2

By Bob Roberts Jr.

6. An exceptional church planter knows their context. Len Sweet says, it’s “knowing your zip code”. Who lives there, education, background, history, culture, values, traditions, nuances . . . all of these things are critical. There is always a growing church somewhere because someone doesn’t just love Jesus, they understand the people and have the ability to think deeply and design communication in light of who is present. It isn’t enough to know what is, but what’s coming. What’s coming, in terms of demographic shifts, psychographic shifts, economic shifts, racial shifts, etc? Another key issue is, what are the questions that the broader culture is asking? Thirty or twenty years ago, those questions were easy to ignore if you wanted to. Read more

Blog: 10 Marks I look for in Exceptional Church Planters – Part 1

By Bob Roberts Jr.

When I started Northwood in 1985 no one was really talking church planting that much. Pastors coming out of seminary definitely were not doing it – Rick Warren & Bill Hybels were anomalies. Today, it’s just the opposite, no one wants to pastor an established church and everyone wants to start a church. Sad to say, in my day many started churches because they couldn’t get an established church – but some were called and gifted and went out because of that call. Today, some, but not all, start churches because they see it as the quickest way to grow a church real big real fast.

1. An exceptional church planter has dealt with their brokenness. A church planter with a checkered past or a checkered present, that is being kept hidden from everyone else, sooner or later comes to the surface. Read more

Blog: War – Who’s It For, Who’s Against It & Why

Does your faith allow you to go to war?  Under what circumstances is war acceptable in your faith?  How do you respond to the killing of innocents in war?  What does God think of war?  How does Jesus view war? Is there a disconnect between what you believe about war and how you view specific nations? 

The world is boiling with war with no end in sight.  Sadly, often those wars are driven or supported by religion.  What do the faiths really teach about war and how do we use our faith to prevent them, instead of promoting them?

At the we will not ease into it – we will tackle big issues from the very beginning.  The very first night, Thursday, I will bring a brief overview of multifaith and why we are gathered.  We will then have Orthodox Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger from Jerusalem, Imam Zia of the Irving Islamic Center, Rev. Doug Skinner of Northway Christian Church, and Dr. Nguyen Quoc Tuan of Vietnam give their philosophical and theological view on war.  Read more


by Bob Roberts Jr.

There are some things that are not always clear – black and white – so knowing what to decide and what to do can be tough.  There are other things that are so clear that doing nothing is a sin.  I’m convinced that when we stand before God the greatest judgment we will face is not over the bad things we did, but over the good things we chose not to do.  Many churches are great at pointing out various sins and God’s judgment on people who do those things, but not as good at recognizing sin as doing nothing.  There are three or four public hot buttons that when you push them all evangelicals rally around morally – which is fine.  But often the spirit and attitude of how these things are addressed is not Jesus- like in the least.  But what about poverty, racism, hunger, persecution, and the list goes on?  Read more

Blog: Seek Jesus . . . . . Nothing Else

by Bob Roberts Jr.

Recently I met with a group of pastors and we prayed for God to move in us, our churches, our cities, and our nation.  It made me think deeply about what we were doing and how we should pray and especially me, personally.

All throughout world history and American history God has moved.  Some movements lasted longer than others – some have been more impactful.  Columbus believed when he discovered America that it was for some divine purpose – at the same time the Protestant Reformation was beginning in Europe.  The Puritans came for the express purpose of religious freedom.  The Great Awakenings have become a part of American history.  Church planting exploded with the western movement of the US.  Revivals became common place.  With the Azusa Street revival there was a new found power in worship.  Read more

Blog: Special Guest Coming to the Global Faith Forum

Everyone is welcomed at the Global Faith Forum. There are special rates available for groups from Mosques, Temples, Synagogues, and Churches.

The Global Faith Forum:  A New Way To Communicate How to Follow Jesus  Post by Andy Braner

A Few years ago I saw this bumper sticker that said “Coexist” with all the symbols of the world’s religions.  My first thought was, “How in the world does that work?”  Most religions have such dynamic differences, there’s no real way they can Coexist.  And my second thought, “That’s just a bunch of Utopian Tolerance.  We can’t do that! We have to guard the Truth.  Stand up for the truth.  Don’t be afraid of the Gospel!!!”  (and I could hear the battle cries from my evangelical friends howling in the background)

I know a lot of people who think the same.  They believe If the Christian tribe enters a space where they have to Coexist without ‘standing up for the gospel’  they negotiate their worldview and cast shame on God’s Truth.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I think the idea that ‘God is God and I don’t have to be God on the planet’ has allowed me to find friendships in the most interesting places.  I have friends that are devout Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists, Jews, and even Hindus.  When I started looking at the world through the lens I believe God uses to see humanity, I had a drastic conversion.  I stopped trying to convince and convert on my own merit, and starting to Love God and Love Others.  Loving God and Loving Others doesn’t mean we simply hole up in our own communities and disregard a great big world filled with people who believe differently.  It means what it says.  Love God.  Love Others.  (Matthew 22:37-40) Read more

Blog: 21st Century Jesus Values at odds with 19th Century Religious Structures

by Bob Roberts Jr.

There are so many new values at work in the 21st century versus the  20th century.  For the most part, the majority of social structures in the 20th century came about starting in the 15th century with the the renaissance, the enlightenment, the reformation, and the age of discovery and travel.   Those became highly developed and reached their zenith in the mid to late 20th century.  The combined “thought” of those centuries led to an age of science from 1860 to 1890 that has been unprecedented before and after.  The majority of scientific invention we have today can be traced back to that century.  The 20th century improved on all of it.   Because the world was not as connected as we are now, it was the elites that generally pushed things forward, and down upon society so it could develop (though some of the elite would push in the opposite direction). Read more