Archives For April 2014

Vision is to be able to see it before you see it. If you are speaking on it, here is a good sermon, English and Spanish.

May it be a blessing.


Word DOC in English


PP in English


PP in Spanish

Inviting someone to your church or event as a guest speaker is a common practice.  Most of the invitations go well.  But I have heard and experienced some horror stories that I believe could have been prevented if there was a clearer understanding beforehand.

When I was in seminary I was invited by a pastor to have a weekend retreat with his church.  I bought my plane ticket, got a car and paid all my expenses to get to the event.  I spoke several times that weekend and at the conclusion I got a “Thank you very much” and Goodbye”.  I ended up paying for all my expenses because the expectations were not clarified in the beginning.  Here are some practical suggestions for the ones who invite.

When you invite (Downloadable “Guest Speaker Information Form” available here)

1.       Be clear

  • Explain what the purpose of the event is and the audience they will be speaking to.
  • Specify how many times they are presenting and how much time they will have for each presentation.
  • Send them a copy of any promotional materials and schedule that you have for the event.
  • Estimate a realistic number of attendees.  This is important especially if the presenter is going to be giving any resources or handouts to their audience.
  • Explain your AV capabilities and ask for any AV needs.
  • Ask if the person is expecting to sell his materials and share with them what your policy is on that.

2.       Be reasonable

  • Don’t surprise the speaker with extra assignments.  For example, don’t schedule 6 messages in one day in two locations.  This takes a toll on the presenter’s voice and quality of presentation if they are overextended.  One time I was speaking for a weekend event and after the Friday night presentation the person in charge asked me to participate in a 6am activity.  I had flown several hours, was starting a cold and was scheduled to speak for six hours already the next day.  Be reasonable!  Trying to take advantage of your speaker will almost always guarantee that they’ll never come back to your location.

3.       Be transparent

  • This is one that happens to me often.  The person who invites builds up the event to be larger and better than what it actually turns out to be.  We all know that sometimes projections don’t pan out.  But don’t make up things just to land the speaker.
  • Be careful of bringing speakers in to fill your own personal agenda or vendetta.

4.       Be generous

  • Ask them if they prefer to make their own travel arrangements (ex. Flight, hotel, etc…) or if they prefer for you to make it.  If they choose to make their own arrangements, remind them to please keep all receipts and to give you a copy of them for reimbursement purposes.
  • Tell them what you will cover financially.  Including the specific amount of the honorarium, airfare, hotel, per diem and car rental you have budgeted for.
  • One of the things that I really appreciate is when a church sends a little card or a gift card for my wife or kids.  Being separated from your family while doing ministry is difficult.  When you come home with a gift from your travels it makes your family feel they’re important too.
  • Have the reimbursement/honorarium check waiting for the invitee.  If you are not going to have it ready because not all of their receipts have been turned in please let them know.
  • A question might be asked,  aren’t denominational workers paid to do what you are inviting them to do.  The answer is yes and no.  A person that travels out of his district to do evangelism or weekend events will have extra expenses.

5.       Be accommodating

  • Let me bold, underline, italicize and put this next phrase in a different font.   DO NOT buy the cheapest, 3 hour layover, nine hour flight you can find on Expedia.  Pay the extra $50 or $100.  You want you presenter to be at their best.  Traveling is not glamorous.  It takes a lot out of you.
  • Except for rare occasions don’t put the guest in a members home or your own home.
  • Ask if they have frequent flyer miles with a specific airline and purchase that ticket from that airline.
  • Same goes for the hotel.  We’re not talking about the Ritz Carlton.  A comfortable, nationally recognized chain is preferable.  A 3 star rating is a good starting point.
  • Once again ask they have points with a particular chain of hotels.
  • If you choose not to rent a car for the speaker please be sure to have reliable transportation for them.  Do not assign them a person who is overextended and not flexible to be their mode of transportation.  Speaking can take a toll on you and a little down town in between is really appreciated.
  • Be on time when picking up your guest at the airport.  Make sure you have exchanged contact information beforehand.  It’s also helpful to exchange pictures so both you and they know who you’re looking for.

My personal practice when I invited a guest to my church was to treat them well.  Not just financially.  We went all out to bless the man or woman of God so they knew their service for God was appreciated.  Next week…what to do when you’re the invitee.

I was invited to speak for a camp meeting.  It turned out to be an unforgettable experience.   The person who picked me up introduced himself as the transportation coordinator.  He showed up with a Toyota Yaris.  After traveling for 8 hours on the plane I was starving.  He said that we had to wait another 2 hours at the airport to pick up another presenter.  After my insistence he took me to Subway at the food court in the mall.  While I was ordering he went to the bathroom and timed his return right after I paid for the meal.  After the 2 hours passed we traveled to the camp meeting location without a GPS.  He got lost and ended up in a different state.  After 5 hours in the car we finally arrived.  I asked the person who had invited me when I was scheduled to speak to the youth.  He called another person and asked him the same question.  The other person replied, “He’s not in the program”.

I was lucky.  The other couple the transportation coordinator picked up, had it even worse.  He stopped on the side of the road to relieve himself. He got back in the car without washing his hands when a police cruiser drove u.  He proceeded to drop them off at the wrong hotel.  They had flown all night long.  I believe most of these mishaps could be avoided if you follow the following suggestions.

When you’re invited (Downloadable “Invitation Information Check sheet” available here)

1.       Be intentional

  • Ask what the purpose of the event is and the audience you will be speaking to.
  • Ask how many times you will be presenting and how much time you will have for each presentation.
  • Specify what your AV needs are.
  • If you plan on using handouts be clear as to who will be making the copies of those handouts.
  • If you plan on selling any of your materials let them know and ask them to share what their policy is on that.
  • Ask for a poster/promo and schedule for the event as early as possible.
  • Ask the host three important questions.

1. What do you hope to accomplish through this event?

2. What information or background can you share with me that will help me in preparing my material?

3. What action steps do you want people to take as a result of this event?

  • Prayerfully tailor your information and tweak your PowerPoint so it reflects the event you’re a part of.

2.       Be flexible

  • You’re not the queen of England or the king of Pop.  Things don’t always happen the way we draw them out.  Don’t be a Diva.  Be understanding and humble.
  • The moment to express your displeasure and evaluate the activity is not while the activity is going on.  The host doesn’t need added pressure to what already is a difficult situation.

3.       Be sensitive

  • Nobody likes a speaker that leaves a mess when they’re gone.  Different churches have different styles.  Do your job in a professional way and be sensitive about the local expectations, needs and present struggles.
  • Ask what the dress code is.
  • Be careful not to use your platform to fill your own personal agenda or vendetta.
  • If they allow you to make your own travel arrangements (ex. Flight, hotel, etc…) ask them what their budget is.  Be reasonable as you set up your travel plans.  Please keep all receipts and give those to them for reimbursement purposes.

4.       Be clear

  • If the host doesn’t mention it, ask them to inform you of what they will financially cover.    Including the specific amount of the honorarium, airfare, hotel, per diem and car rental they have budgeted for.  Some speakers have a specific honorarium amount and some don’t.  Whatever you do be clear on the expectations.
  • Please submit all receipts as early as possible and request reimbursement before the event is over.

5.       Be thankful

  • Both publically and privately thank the host for his kindness and highlight specific positive things that happened during your time together.
  • Write a short email to the direct supervisor of the person who invited you highlighting a specific strong area of the event.  Copy your host.
  • If they ask you for an evaluation use the sandwich method.  Start out by mentioning something positive, continue with something that could improve and end with something positive.

Being invited is an honor and a privilege.   Whenever your opportunity comes give your best and do your best.  Any other ideas or thoughts that I missed write them in the comment section.

*I’m giving away something valuable. More on that later.

Let’s be frank. Many of the church resources (and TV programs) we have put out through the years has been subpar at best. That has caused many of our churches to look elsewhere for quality materials.

One of the nice things of being in my position is seeing new resources when they come out (or before). I am a member of the Advent Source Board ( ) and just this week we took a look at several projects that I believe can be of benefit to you.

In the coming weeks, I will share several resources that I have personally seen. Hopefully these can be a blessing to your congregation. I will also be giving away one of each. So, be on the lookout.

This week:

Family Resources

These two are probably the best we have ever produced. Ever.

1. Help I am a parent!

A ten week curriculum, videos, study guides, everything you need to grow as a parent.

Help! I'm A Parent - Book and DVD Set

2. Mad About Marriage.

A six week curriculum. This is probably one of the best resources on for couples, bar none.Mad About Marriage:  Flipping The Switch – Small Group Curriculum

How can I use this? Here are three ideas:

1. Small Group. The great thing about small groups is that they can happen pretty much everywhere. This can be a great way to help the church invite their friends and it doesn’t last forever.

2. Sabbath School time. I did this in my last church and it worked great! The couples take off from their regularly scheduled SS class, and join this class.

3. Sermon series. Family is always a felt need. Advertise in your community and invite people for your series. If you combine with #1, the better.

*Now here is the giveaway: Next Monday, when the regularly scheduled blog comes out I will pick one of the subscribers of the blog. That person will win. They can decline their gift, if they so choose. We will try to start some regular giveaways of stuff you can actually use!


One thing that I learned to do early on as a parent is to ask my children for forgiveness when a mistake was made in my part. I was sharing this perspective with my congregation in a seminar and at the conclusion, a member took exception to it. He said that if parents apologized to kids, the kids would lose respect for them. I shared my personal experience, but it didn’t change his mind.

Last week, the Record Keeper Project was suspended. The reasons given were varied, but details were scarce. The response from the “creatives” in the church was clear: This was a painful episode. Both conservative and progressive websites questioned the decision, albeit for different reasons. These are my personal reflections and lessons, as a church leader, about this particular experience:

1. An apology would have great.

This is a key leadership lesson. At the other end of every decision, there are real people, with real feelings and real investments (emotional or otherwise). The ANN bulletin could have included at least a paragraph about the people making the decisions understanding the impact of their decision on the people who participated in the creation of the project. I believe that is still possible. Apologizing sends a better message.

2. An alternative production would be great.

I have not seen all of the 11 episodes, but it would seem to me (not being an expert, for sure) that the project can be edited, revised and improved, or outsourced, all better options than just cancelation. If there are some inaccuracies and theological misfires, FIX THEM. No one wants to present lies as truth. Was the project to deeply flawed it could not be rescued?

What I did see gave me hope for 2 reasons:

a. The effect it had on my kids. This project had visuals and a story line that interests and starts conversations with the younger generation. I was looking forward to showing the series for family worship with my own family.

b. I have a passion to reach Millenials (both of my kids are). I had conversations with a colleague who is planting a church in Portland Oregon for postmodern/postchristian which this project was tailored made for. He was planning to use this extensively. I hope he still can.

3. A graceful response by Young Adults would be great.

My prayer is that this experience does not become yet another reason to disconnect, disengage or depart from the church. When the church makes a mistake, treat her with the same grace God treats you. Rise above the hurt. Please hear me on this:

We. Need. You.

We. Want. You.

We. Love. You.

I apologize.

Embedded image permalink

School Profile- Greater Miami Academy

This week I had the privilege of being the speaker for the GMA spring week of prayer. This week of prayer was different from others I have done, because the chaplain asked me to make it more specific in the evangelistic aspect.  Pastor Alvin Payne is the chaplain, and here are some take aways from the week that can help you in youth ministry and Christian education:

1. Intentionally evangelistic.

Frankly, I am tired of just doing events, talks and programs that do not advance the kingdom and only makes people spiritually obese. We have churches full of seminar junkies. Where did they get the idea that Christianity of more about beliefs you hold than a transformation you experience? Many times it has been by the type of youth ministry we have done.

Any youth activity, I believe, should have the following five elements:

a. Intensely interesting. Interesting and deep (or spiritual) are not mutually exclusive. Humorless and spiritual are not the same. Our job is not to make the Bible relevant, but to show its relevance.

b. Purposeful. What’s the desired outcome? How does it fit in the overall plan of discipleship?

c. Excellent. It starts and ends on time, the elements flow and you can see that thought was put into the planning.

d. Evangelistic. It’s amazing what happens when you call people to cross the line. A message without a call, it’s like a meal, served, without being able to eat it. Last year 19 kids said yes and were baptized. This year several more made the same commitment.

One of the family members of the kids that were being baptized today, when the call was made, decided that her decision could not wait and decided to be baptized then and there. You never know who is listening, that’s why you ALWAYS make a call even if you think no one will come up. One thing I have learned after 22 years making calls is this: Don’t say no to yourself. Make the call. Let God take care of the results.

Take away- plan, purpose, preach, persuade.

2. Empowering worship.

One trait I am seeing in healthy schools is a high level of involvement from the students in not just running the program but crafting it. Pastor Payne has developed several praise teams (it’s even a class) and you could tell that the people leading worship were not just singers, but worshipers. (there is a difference).  One frustration I felt in Spanish churches when I was a pastor was the scarcity of musicians. I had a 700 member church and ONE piano player. The pastor that followed me started a music school and now several of those kids are part of the praise team. GMA is doing this well.

Take away: invest in teaching young people to play, sing, lead worship.

Let’s continue to pray for all of our schools. Christian education: it’s worth it.


According to the latest stats, Adventist churches lose 43 out of every 100 people they baptize[1]. If a local Hospital had 43 deaths for every 100 live births, we would consider it a national tragedy. If a car maker produced lemons on 43 out of every 100 cars, we would not hesitate to get that situation turned around. If a mechanic messed up on 43 of every 100 cars, we would call the BBB. If a restaurant had 43 plates out of 100 that gave your diarrhea you would call in the CDC.

Why then, are we not doing more to reclaim the 43 out of 100 that leave? Here are 5 practical tips.

1. Use technology.

My friend Jim Davidson, spoke last week about an experiment he did. He searched on for people that he knew were disconnected from the church. It took him 10 minutes to find several. With the average church only having an average of 50% of its regular members in regular attendance, how are we letting the former/inactive/disconnected know that we care?

b. Write

Handwritten notes say “I care”. But so does a postcard, a letter, a text or an email. Here is a sample one you can use or adapt.

c. Use right approach.

None of these strategies work very well:

Threats- “if you don’t come back, we will have to erase you from our books.”

Warnings- “Jesus is coming, and you are at risk of losing your salvation if you don’t come back.”

Pat phrases- “I know just how you feel.” (no you don’t)

Defensive posture- “let me explain.” No need to defend the church for previous decisions. Just listen.

“The church has changed”- unless this is true, don’t use it just to get them back.

The best approach is one of loving intentionality that tells the person: We love you. We miss you. We want you back. So does God.

d. Prepare your church.

How many people have left the church in not so good terms, returned, to find the same drama that made them leave in the first place? Explain to your greeters and ushers (and for that case ALL members) that when they see a face they have not seen in a while the way to go is to act normally. Don’t ignore. Don’t smother.

e. Use special days to your advantage.

Christmas. New Years. Valentine’s Day. Easter. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Fourth of July. Back to School. Thanksgiving. All times of the year where you may be having something special. It’s good to invite them back when they know they won’t be the center of attention.

What has worked for you? What resources have you used? Share them in the comment section.


A Killer Resume —  April 2, 2014

Here is a sample of a resume of an actual Theology Student that I found outstanding.

Share it!