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Give Me 100…

May 7, 2013

John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, famously wrote…

Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth.


This often cited quote comes from a letter Wesley wrote to Alexander Mather on August 6, 1777.  The following is the context of the quote…

No, Aleck, no! The danger of ruin to Methodism does not lie here. It springs from quite a different quarter. Our preachers, many of them, are fallen. They are not spiritual. They are not alive to God. They are soft, enervated, fearful of shame, toil, hardship. They have not the spirit which God gave to Thomas Lee at Pateley Bridge or to you at Boston. Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven upon earth.

236 years have passed since Wesley penned the letter.  Do you think he would send the same letter today?

Amazing.  I am challenged by Wesley’s understanding of the “danger of ruin to Methodism.”

I’m also greatly motivated!  I want to shake the gates of hell!  I want to set up the kingdom of God on earth!  How about you?

(Note, I am grateful to Lauren Porter regarding research on this quote)

A Spectacle of Grace!

May 2, 2013

Every time we celebrate baptisms at Van Dyke Church, I am deeply moved by the awesome display of God’s grace.

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Last weekend we witnessed a spectacle of God’s grace when 36 people got dunked!  Through this outer symbol of an inward spiritual surrender to Jesus Christ, they went public with their faith.

  • These people were not simply submitting to a moral improvement program.
  • They were not going from bad to better.
  • They were not entering a good behavior contest.

NO!  That’s not authentic Christianity.  What is authentic Christianity?

Surrendering to Jesus Christ means moving from death to life!

That’s why it’s such a big deal.  Following Jesus Christ is a bold, radical step out of the grave toward a new life.

Each time we celebrate baptisms we proclaim the statement from The Apostle Paul in Colossians 2:12…

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized.  And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

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Changing Lives!

April 11, 2013
Corey Wolloff Preaching at Thrive April 10, 2013

Corey Wolloff Preaching at Thrive April 10, 2013

Last night was awesome.  I had the privilege of attending THRIVE, our weekly worship service for Senior High Students at Van Dyke Church.  Our Director of High School Ministry, Corey Wolloff @CoreyWolloff was kicking off an awesome new message series called, “Take Heart!”  

  • The heart of worship in the room was off the charts (we love our new Youth Worship Leader, Chris Stephen).
  • The relationships were genuine.
  • The students were hungry to hear biblical teaching.
  • The staff/volunteers were sold out to seeing these students have authentic encounters with Jesus.

It all caused me to reflect on the amazing things God has been doing in and through our Student Ministry over the past year.  Just to name a few…

  1. The High School Ministry has exploded — doubling in size from last year at the same time!
  2. Overall, the entire Student Ministry (including Middle School) has grown 27%!
  3. We just hired an awesome new Youth Worship Leader/Programmer, Chris Stephen.
  4. We just hired a new Senior High Ministry Intern, Maryse Diemert.
  5. We also just hired a new Junior High Ministry Intern, Tal Zentmeyer.
  6. And hundreds of spots for our RIOT summer mission camp filled up in just a few hours of online registration!

WOW!  God is moving and grabbing hold of these young lives, changing them for eternity.  I am so pumped that I get to have a front row, center seat to see God change lives.  The team of staff and volunteers who work in our Senior and Middle School Ministries blows me away with their dedication, creativity and heart for these students.

How does this happen?

  1. We will do whatever it takes as a church to create a life-changing Student Ministry.
  2. We will empower and equip our Student Ministry Staff with the tools and resources they need to get the job done.
  3. We will challenge volunteers to give the best of their time, effort energy to these amazing students.
  4. We will never rest until every student in Tampa Bay knows, loves and serves Jesus!
  5. We will pray till we have callouses on our knees to see this all happen.




The Great Escape

April 2, 2013

The Great Escape


Wow!  We had a blast this Easter weekend at Van Dyke Church.  You are invited to view “The Great Escape” message and find freedom!

We are so pumped about what God did among us!

  • 5,392 people heard the gospel proclaimed!
  • 600 children took part in the “Easter In Space” experience!
  • 175 babies were in our nursery this weekend!
  • 72 persons surrendered to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior

Those numbers matter because every number has a name.  And I believe we need to shout from the rooftops about what God does to touch hearts, change lives and save souls.

He is alive!

Communicating to Change Lives, Part 3

March 19, 2013

Preaching at Real Ideas 3

This is the last of three posts on “Communicating to Change Lives.”  I’ve simply been listing some brief notes from my workshop on this subject I just taught at the Real Ideas Conference.  I don’t want to simply transmit information when I communicate.  I want to create the atmosphere for life change.  I am a faulty vessel and I pray everyday that God would use me in some small way to help people experience positive change in their lives.

So, here’s the complete list of 10 practices to develop for communicating to change lives:

  1. Stay in Constant Communication With God
  2. Exegete Your Church and Community, Not Just Your Bible
  3. Communicate Your Own Life Change
  4. Communicate Life Change In The Congregation
  5. Listen To and Watch Other Great Communicators
  6. Review the “Game Film”
  7. Ask the Three Questions
  8. Leverage the Message Through Small Groups/Study Guides
  9. Give People Next Steps
  10. Be Passionate!

Let me unpack the last 4 practices in this post…

Ask the three essential questions about the message you want to deliver:

  1. What do I want people to know?
  2. What do I want people to do?
  3. What do I want people to feel?

Leverage your message through small groups and the creation of study guides.  Give your message more shelf life by having small groups discuss the message in their small groups.  This creates a tie-in each week and a digging deeper opportunity based on your sermon.  Here at Van Dyke Church we also create a small video summary of the message with study guides that are all online for small groups to access.  If you want some more information about how we do this, contact our Director of Small Groups, Lynne Fukutani at and she would be happy to answer your questions.

Give people next steps.  Help people create application from your message by outlining some specific steps they can take to give legs to your content.  Challenge people to implement what they have heard.  And use handouts sometimes with these steps.  I always love when I plan far enough ahead to have some handouts for folks when they walk out of the sanctuary.

BE PASSIONATE!  If you haven’t owned the message, you can’t deliver the message.  I’ve listened to some preachers and I think their gonna put themselves to sleep!  Let the message marinate in your soul.  Pray for God to give you passion.  Make sure you are experiencing the change you want others to have in their lives.  Are you living the life you are inviting others to live?

Well, I hope these 10 practices will help all of you who are communicators.  I certainly don’t do them all perfectly or consistently.  I am growing each week as a communicator of God’s Word.  Thanks for being part of the journey.

Please comment and let me know what you think.

Communicating to Change Lives, Part 2

March 18, 2013


In my previous post I listed the first three practices for Communicating to Change Lives that I shared at the recent Real Ideas Conference at Van Dyke Church.  To review, here they are:

  • Stay in Constant Communication with God
  • Exegete Your Church and Community, Not Just the Bible.
  • Communicate Your Own Life Change.

And here are the next practices:

  • Communicate Life Change In the Congregation.
  • Listen To and Watch Other Great Communicators.
  • Review the Game Film.

Communicate life change in the congregation by making sure you are sharing stories of what God is doing in the lives of people in your church or ministry.  If possible, arrange for people to share testimonies.  People need to see stories of changed lives.  Note, when doing this, make sure they are written out an edited ahead of time.  You want to set people up for a win and for greatest possible impact.  Aim for clarity and brevity (3-4 minutes).  These don’t have to be dramatic, over-the-top stories.  They might be simple stories of how people are walking with Jesus and living out their faith.

Listen to and watch other great communicators.  Watch videos and listen to podcasts.  And don’t just listen to other preachers.  There are many examples of great communicators featured in TED Talks.  And when you listen and watch, you are not doing so to imitate people.  You are simply getting inspired and gleaning some best practices from them that you can apply to your setting.  There’s no substitute for being genuine and authentic.

Review the game film by watching yourself communicating.  Great coaches and players always watch the game film of their work on the field.  If you are not in a setting where you are videoed each week, simply set up a camera in an unobtrusive place to tape your message.  It doesn’t have be high quality if you are just using it for review.  You don’t have to do this all the time, but it is good to watch yourself so you can see what you do that helps or hurts your message.  You may have body language or mannerisms that are distracting.  You simply may have blind spots that you are unaware of if you never watch yourself.  Most people are too polite to tell you these things.  So watch.  And here’s a little trick — watch yourself sometimes in fast forward mode.  This is a great way to pick up on how you move about the platform or how often you make certain movements with your hands.

Final practices in the next post…

Communicating to Change Lives, Part 1

March 16, 2013

Matthew Hartsfield Teaching at Real Ideas 2013

Do you want to simply transmit information or cause transformation?  Obviously, we want to change lives!  Pastors, teachers and other communicators want to be used by God to create life change in significant ways.  At Real Ideas 2013 Jorge Acevedo and I co-taught a workshop on Communicating to Change Lives, in which I shared 10 practices for communicating to Change Lives.  Here are the first 3 steps:

  1. Stay In Constant Communication With God.
  2. Exegete Your Church and Community, Not Just Your Bible.
  3. Communicate Your Own Life Change.

First, ask yourself if you are surrendering to the change God wants to bring about in your life.  Are you spending time with God and God’s Word in a way that creates disequilibrium in your life?

Second, you may be a biblical scholar and exegete the text better than anybody else, but do you have any clue what’s going on in your church or community? Theologian Karl Barth said he prepared for every sermon with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.  Good advice.  How do you know what people in your congregation need from God’s Word?  Ask them!  I do that at Van Dyke Church periodically by having people simply fill out cards with what’s going on in their lives and what they would like for me to address from a biblical viewpoint.  And if you’re connected at all with people in your church, then you will naturally understand what’s going on in people’s lives.  Pay attention.

Third, are you communicating what God is doing in your own life?  Here is where I struggle.  I’m not the best at sharing personal stories, but I’m getting better.  And don’t always share success stories.  Share where you are struggling and where change isn’t coming so easy.  Of course, this needs to be done with an appropriate filter.  Some things are for sharing with large audiences.  Some are better shared in a small group setting.  And some things need to be shared with an accountability partner.

Next practices in the next post…