Monthly Archives: March 2017

Help In Being Missional and Helping Others Know They Too Are Going to Heaven!

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

Real church growth comes when we get on mission for the Lord. Church growth is not about our normal process of changing sheep from one church fold to the next. Church growth is about winning the lost and disciplining them so that they too can share their faith with others. Now I know that fear often keeps us from sharing our faith. And I know that at times we feel we don’t know what to do or say. SO, let me share with you some simple things to help us be missional and help other to know for sure that they too are on their way to heaven.

One of the biggest obstacles to being on mission is just getting a conversation started. Let me first break the ice with a good outline to a missional conversation, then I would like to remove eight other obstacles that often get in our way of being missional for Jesus.

First, How do I start the conversation which can be used to make a missional presentation of the gospel? I like to keep it simple and use the outline FORM. Each letter stand for a progression which flows naturally in a conversation.

F – Family. It is the basic introduction of ones self and telling a little about your family. Most of us like to talk about ourselves and our families. If you introduce yourself and family, there is a pretty good chance the person you are addressing will introduce themselves as well. If they don’t share about their family you might want to ask some basic family related questions.

O – Occupation. When you are not with your family what do you do for a living? Let them share about themselves. Take note of anything you might later be able to bring scriptural or a witnessing tie to. Remember Jesus used water from a well.

R – Recreation. Transition from work to play. Wow sounds like work is pretty important to you. But all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. What do you do when you are not at work? How do you like to spend your down time or days off. What are your hobbies?

M – Message. Great, now is the focal point of this missional conversation. Take to the cross. Sounds like you enjoy life. Have you ever given any thoughts to what might happen when this life is over? Or wow! You know I or my family also enjoy a relationship with Jesus Christ. Do you have a relationship with Him? And listen for a true understanding of what it means to be saved. Also listen for a willingness to hear or an interest in the Jesus you are talking about. If the person turns you off or says, they prefer not to talk about that, let it go.

These eight ideas remove obstacles that get in your way as a missional Christian for Christ. They will make it easier for others to focus on your message without being distracted by your methods. The irony is that when our method is skillful, it fades into the background. But when our method is clumsy or offensive, then it becomes the focus instead of the truth we want to communicate.

  1.  Be ready.

We need to be clearly on the alert for chances to represent Christ. One guy on a plane had sat down between two other passengers, he had a captive audience on either side for almost four hours, and he was determined to make the most of the opportunity.

Though you do not need to squeeze each encounter dry, you should be willing at least to test the waters to see if there is any interest. Missional Christians are vigilant, always watchful for what might turn out to be a divine appointment.

  1. Keep it simple.

On the way to sharing about the cross, you don’t have to cover the entire ranged from young-earth creationism to Armageddon. That is a lot to have to chew on to get to Jesus. The basic gospel is challenging enough. Generally, you will have to deal with a few obstacles that come up. But if the listener is interested, why complicate things with controversial issues unrelated to salvation? Remember, if other issues don’t come up, don’t bring them up.

  1. Avoid religious language and spiritual pretense.

Your presentation does not need to be littered with spiritual lingo and religious posturing. Don’t come off as a “holier than thou.” And don’t be over bearing with your enthusiasm. Even when this is genuine, it sounds weird to outsiders. Words and phrases like “saved,” “blessed,” “the Word of God,” “receive Christ,” or “believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord,” may have meaning to you, but they are tired religious clichés to everyone else.

Experiment with fresh, new ways to characterize the ancient message of truth. Consider using the word “trust” instead of “faith,” or “follower of Jesus” instead of “Christian.” I try to avoid quoting “the Bible.” Instead, I quote the words of “Jesus of Nazareth” (the Gospels), or of “those Jesus trained to take his message after him” (the rest of the New Testament).

Avoid spiritual sentimentality like the plague. Even though a person is attracted to Christ, he may still be reluctant to join an enterprise that makes him look odd. Don’t let your style get in the way of your message.

  1. Focus on the truth of Christianity, not merely its personal benefits.

I appreciate evangelistic focus on truth rather than on experience. When one of his fellow passengers said he liked reincarnation, the Christian noted that “liking” reincarnation could not make it true. The facts matter. By focusing on the truth claims of Jesus instead of making a more subjective appeal, he gave his message a solid foundation.

  1. Give reasons.

Making assertions without giving evidence would be an empty effort. Be ready to give the support needed to show that your claims are not trivial. Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, and all the prophets did the same. Even in a postmodern age, people still care about reasons.

  1. Stay calm.

Don’t get mad. Don’t show frustration. Don’t look annoyed. Keep your cool. The more collected you are, the more confident you appear. The more confident you seem, the more persuasive you sound.

  1. If they want to go, let them leave.

When you sense the one you are talking to is looking for an exit, back off a bit. Signs of waning interest — wandering eyes, a caged look, darting glances toward the doorway — are clues he or she’s probably not listening anymore. Don’t force the conversation. Instead, let the exchange end naturally. Remember, you don’t need to close the sale in every encounter. God is in charge. He will bring the next ambassador along to pick up where you left off. When the conversation becomes a monologue (yours), it’s time to let it go.

  1. But don’t let them leave empty-handed. If possible, give the person a tangible way to follow up on what you challenged him or her to consider.

Keep on hand some tracts, booklets, and Christian paperbacks to leave behind to keep the thinking process going. You might offer your business card, a Christian Web site (e.g.,, or something to read. A copy of the Gospel of John is a good choice. It’s small, inexpensive, and focuses on Christ. Offer it as a gift, suggesting, “It might be best for me to let Jesus speak for himself.”

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

Church Phone: 423-272-7676

Church Email:

Rick Dinkins phone: 423-754-0750


Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

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Many Trapped In Darkness!

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

Greetings, I want to start this Pastor’s pen with an encouragement to hide a short passage of scripture in your heart this week. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (KJV) 6  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

As I was wondering what to write about this week in the Pastor’s Pen, I was praying and asking the Lord to bring something to my mind or put something before me that would be what He wanted me to share. He brought to my mind a time this past summer. I was taking a walk on our property last summer. As I hiked up into the woods, I came through this place or area of the trail where the sun flashed through the leaves and caught my attention. Light. I had entered the darkness of the woods but that light caught my attention. I “filed” it away and continued my travels through the trail to the overlook I have enjoyed so many times just communing with the Lord.

Later, I was reading through some various news stories and came across one of earthquake survivors in China. The story brought back to my mind my earlier encounter with the rising sun. The story was of a middle-aged man named Mr. Shen whose quick thinking to take cover in a doorway saved him from the fate experienced by many of his co-workers.

When interviewed, Mr. Shen recalled shouting to a co-worker to join him in the doorway when the room suddenly collapsed. The next thing he remembered was the sudden darkness that enveloped him.

What struck me in his interview was his statement, “Oh, the darkness, oh, the darkness all over. I didn’t know when it was going to end.”

There are people that we walk past every day that, without knowing it, are spiritually in the same condition as Mr. Shen; trapped in darkness under the weight of sin.

For Mr. Shen, the darkness crumpled under the hands of the rescuers. After 146 hours his encounter with complete and utter darkness came to an end. That darkness, however, will always leave a mark on his being.

Often, we forget the darkness that seeks to crush the hope of those around us.

Just Think About It and Do This: Find a place of complete and utter darkness and spend at least 15 minutes praying for people you know who have not accepted God’s free gift of salvation. And if you can’t think of 4 or 5 people who are in darkness, ask the Lord to help you meet and begin to build a relationship with some people who are lost in order that you might pray for them. Then remember, We have this treasure in earthen vessels…That is us! God wants to use us to take the Gospel of Light to those around us who are still trapped in darkness. Share Jesus with someone this week.

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

Church Phone: 423-272-7676

Church Email:

Rick Dinkins phone: 423-754-0750


Let us know if you have questions or if you made a decision for Christ.

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Satan Loves Our Self Loathing!

The Pastors Pen Logo smallDear Church Family,

Sometimes we do the things we hate. And sometimes we get confused and begin to hate ourselves for the things we’ve done.

There is a world of difference between ‘walking in the light’ while confessing our sins (1 John 1:7-10), and letting our sins define our identity. While it is appropriate to mourn our sin (Matthew 5:4), it is not appropriate to hate ourselves.

In the heat of the moment of regret and shame, we can almost think that self-loathing is good and right and biblical (after all, we have offended a Holy God and become unclean!). But in truth, God never calls us to hate ourselves.

The truth is that God loves us (John 3:16, 1 John 4:10). And the only one who loves our self-loathing is Satan.


  1. Because when I loathe myself I loathe someone created in the image of God

Proverbs 17:5 says, ‘Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker.’ James writes that the tongue ‘is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so’ (James 3:8-10).  Wow! We professing Christians need to watch our tongue.

What I say about people, I say about God. This is true whether I am demeaning other humans or myself. Even inward self-loathing insults my Maker, in whose image I was created.

  1. Because it diminishes my joy

Even in the middle of theological controversy, you can almost hear the joy in Paul’s voice when he reminds himself of the gospel: ‘I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20).

If I forget that the heart of the gospel is ‘the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me’ only to remember that I am worthy of being hated rather than loved, I will lose the joy of the gospel itself.

  1. Because it diminishes the work of grace that God has done in my life

Making myself an object of contempt makes more of the sin that once defined me than the grace of God which has re-created me.

Paul writes of sinners who are defined by their sin outside of grace, and then adds: ‘And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God’ (1 Corinthians 6:11).

What I was once, I am not now. My sins do not define me; my reconciliation with God does. Hating myself makes little of that and gives Satan joy.

  1. Because it discourages those who see grace in me

In 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 Paul describes a seriously messed-up church in a seriously surprising way: He tells them how he sees God’s grace active in them! He doesn’t deny their sin—he will deal with it strongly later in the letter—but he also doesn’t hate them for it. On the contrary, because he has seen grace in them he is encouraged by them, loves them and longs to see them grow.

The reality is that no matter how badly I’m doing, there are those around who love me, see God’s grace in me and are encouraged by me. If I continually dwell (and make them to dwell) on the sin in me, I will only discourage them and deprive them of the chance to give thanks to God for what he has done in my life. And Satan is pleased when we discourage one another.

  1. Because it hinders true relationship when I withdraw

From the very first sin, we see that Satan’s tactics result in us withdrawing from good and godly relationships. Genesis 3:7-8: ‘Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths’ (they withdrew from each other). ‘And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden’ (they withdrew from God).

When I self-loathe, I am giving influence to shame. Shame isolates, and in isolation, further sin thrives, which gives pleasure to our enemy.

  1. Because it distracts me from true humility

True humility (Philippians 2:1-11) is entirely grounded in an ‘others-oriented’ worldview. Self-loathing, ironically, makes much of me. How I feel about myself becomes the central, all-determining point of reality.

God gives grace to the humble, but opposes the proud. It is no wonder Satan loves self-loathing: Self-loathing is the opposite of godly humility.

  1. Because it makes me think that the answer is to love myself more

Loving myself more might seem like the answer to hating myself (and in many churches that is exactly what is preached). But that’s hogwash.

The answer is not to make little of my sin, but to make much of it: to see that it is my sin that caused Jesus to suffer and die. But don’t stop there. The answer doesn’t end with a Savior who suffers, but with a Savior who declares ‘It is finished!’ as he dies, then proves it when he rises. It ends with us meditating on the truth that ‘greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.’

He has called us friends. He died for us. I don’t need to convince myself to love me; I just need to remember that because God so loved, he gave his Son.

I am loved.

And no matter how much Satan hates that truth, it is where we are called to live.

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

From /  Satan Loves Our Self-Loathing.

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Signs Your Church May Be Dying!

Pastors Pen LogoDear Church Family,

After sharing the message last week, Reclaiming New Life For Dying Churches, I was ask, “Pastor Rick, How do you know if your church is dying?” And, “Do you think our church has been plateaued and declining?” I would like to take a few moments to answer these questions. Let me answer the second question first. Yes I think our church has been in a state of being plateaued and declining for some time now. I think even a casual look at our attendance, our activities and our effectiveness within our community would reveal this to be true. However, let me go on to say, I see the Lord beginning to turn that around. I feel a new sense of awareness of the Spirit of the Lord working in our midst. The balance of this Pastor’s Pen will be used to answer the first question of how can you tell if a church dying.

It is often a ponder or wondering when a church you love is struggling. IS this just a phase of struggle or decline or are we in real trouble?  Sometimes the question is so strong you even have to ask, “Do we need to hit the reset button here or just start over somewhere else?” I hope this Pastor’s Pen can help us answer these questions which haunt us. From all the conferences I have attended and the material I have read, there are certain characteristics of dying churches. Here are some of the common themes which seem to be prevalent in churches that are dying. Dying churches tend to…

  1. Value the process of decision more than the outcome of decision.

Dying churches love to discuss, debate, define and describe. They live for business meetings-even if few people attend them. They begin to find comfort and security in the well-known processes of church life. It seems that as long as they continue the processes, they are keeping the church alive. It must. also be said that sometimes their insistence on maintaining highly structured processes reflects a lack of trust in each other. The lack of trust and need for tight control is but another sign of a dysfunctional church.

  1. They value their own preferences over the needs of the unreached.

Dying churches tend to make their preferences paramount. Those preferences can include music, programs, preaching styles, uses of the building, resources shared with those outside the church compared to resources used for those within the church, and a host of other things. The point is this: Most members of the congregation focus on their own desires in these decisions instead of what would meet the needs of people who don’t know Jesus.

A church whose pursuit, with the heart of Christ, is the salvation of souls will thoughtfully and sacrificially consider the interests of others more valuable than the mere personal preferences of the establishment.

  1. They have an inability to pass leadership to the next generation or to focus on providing quality leadership to their children and youth.

They want young people in the congregation and often complain about the lac of young people in the church, but they do not plan for how to train them for leadership or allow them to serve in leadership.

If you don’t provide for youth in your church, the youth will go somewhere else that will.

  1. They cease, often gradually, to be part of the fabric of their community.

Members of dying churches rarely live within walking distance of the church. They have typically long ago moved to other parts of town. What was once a community church has become a commuter church. Members drive to the church building, park their cars, walk inside, and conduct their programs then walk back outside, get back in their cars, and drive home.

  1. They try to grow dependent upon programs or personalities for growth or stability.

Declining churches reach for programs and personalities they believe will turn the church around without embracing the changes needed to become healthy again.

  1. They tend to blame the community for a lack of response and, in time grow resentful of the community for not responding as it once did.

Some how we begin to be mistaken and believe the community is there for us. We see the community as a resource for us when in reality we should be a resource for the community and that we are here for the community.

  1. Dying church will anesthetize the pain of death with an overabundance of activity and maintaining less fruitful traditions.

It is common for a church that is near death, with only a few remaining faithful members, to continue to have a full slate of church activities. They continue with committee meetings and various programs that reach no one but maintain a sense of continuity with the past. There is also the sense that just being busy is a form of obedience. That in itself can become a source of pride. All of this activity-including maintaining a full church calendar, committee meetings, church meetings, and maybe even maintaining a church office and printing a newsletter or bulletin can distract a dying church from the fact that they are dying.

  1. They confuse caring for the building with caring for the church and the community.

Often, declining churches see no difference between the building and the church. The primary motivation of the remaining members may be to “keep the church doors open” or to make sure they don’t lose possession of the place that has meant so much to them throughout the years. At times, the most important and coveted committees in the congregation revolve around the church’s finances, properties and facilities. To be frank, it is easier to spend time and money fixing a building than doing the hard work to become an indispensable part of the fabric of the community.

If we really take a hard and honest look at ourselves, we will have to admit that these characteristic describe us. That is a painful observation. One which we need to repent of. It is tempting to wonder, “Can this dying church be saved, can she live again?” And the answer is YES! It is a good day to be part of this church. But we must also remember: God can only revitalize a dying church of the people are willing to seek Him, His glory and His plan above all else. That may mean some tough changes and decisions. It will definitely mean repentance!

With Many Prayers and Christian Love,

Pastor Rick Signature

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