Easter, Top 10

Top 10 Best Easter Songs

Originally published April 3, 2015easter songs

There are so many great Easter hymns and worship songs out there. After all, how can a songwriter go wrong proclaiming the glorious truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection? It was hard to narrow it down to my ten favorites, but I gave it a shot.

(Please note- I am not familiar with all of these musicians. Their presence here is not an endorsement of any unbiblical theology any of them may hold to. Please thoroughly vet the doctrine of any Christian musician you choose to follow and make sure it matches up with Scripture.)

1. Jesus Paid it All– Nominated by my 11 year old son, who said in the car on the way home from church, “They need to do ‘Jesus Paid it All’ next week, because it is a very appropriate Easter song.”

 

2. Arise My Love– The grave could not hold the King!

 

3. Low in the Grave He Lay– You’re not really a Southern Baptist unless your church does this one every Easter.

 

4. The Old Rugged Cross– What a precious song this is and what a beautiful job this gentleman does on it.

 

5. Sunday’s On the Way– The resurrection is not an allegory for your personal problems coming to an end. Other than that, this is pure 80’s “in your face, Devil!” CCM awesomeness.

 

6. The Wonderful Cross– Who ever thought something so horrific could be so beautiful? But it is.

 

7. Man of Sorrows, What a Name– Hallelujah, what a Savior!

 

8. He’s Alive– The resurrection through the eyes of Peter. Oh how sweet it must have been for him to see Jesus alive again.

 

9. I’ve Just Seen Jesus– I love singing this one with my husband.

 

10. Christ the Lord is Risen Today– He is not dead. He is alive. We have this hope in Jesus Christ! This arrangement is such a nice blend of the traditional and the contemporary.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Happy Easter everyone!

Top 10, Worship

Top 10 Songs of Comfort and Joy During COVID-19 Quarantine

 

How’s your quarantine going? Climbing the walls yet? Miss gathering with your brothers and sisters at church? Anxious about being out of work? Worried about what the future might hold? There’s a solution to all of that: worship.

Here, in no particular order, are my top 10 picks for songs to get you worshiping and to keep you encouraged during the days ahead. Perfect for your church’s online worship service, or for singing while you wash your hands for the eleventeenth time in five minutes. Click on the title of each song for a lyric sheet.

(Note: I do not necessarily endorse all of these songwriters or performers, the churches/organizations they represent, any other songs they may have written or performed, or their theology. If you decide to follow any of these people or groups, check out their theology first to make sure it’s biblical.)

1.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:22-24

 

2.
You Are My Hiding Place

While we’re “hiding” in our homes from this virus, let us never forget that God alone is our true hiding place, the only place of safety and security. Do you recognize the Bible verses in this song?

 

3.
He Will Hold Me Fast

The God who loved you enough to give His only Son for you loves you enough to carry you through any crisis. God’s got you. He’s not letting go.

 

4.
He Leadeth Me

“Content, whatever lot I see, since ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.” It’s hard to be content in the midst of chaos. This lovely hymn keeps bringing us back to what should be our focus: Whatever we’re going through – still waters or troubled sea – if we’re in Christ, we can trust that God will lead us through.

 

5.
Count Your Blessings

God’s Word always leads us to look to Him and be thankful, regardless of our circumstances. Here’s a toe-tapper that’ll remind you to focus on how much God has blessed you! (And if you like the “old school” version of Count Your Blessings, enjoy! lyrics here)

 

6.
To God Be the Glory

“Give Him the glory, great things He hath done”? In the middle of a plague? Yes. There’s no better time than in the midst of distress to exalt the name of the Lord and “let the earth hear His voice.” Sometimes it takes calamity to cut through all the noise and open the world’s ears to the gospel. Praise the Lord!

 

7.
God Will Take Care of You

In Christ, we have the rest and assurance of knowing that no matter what happens, God will take care of us.

 

8.
His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

 

9.
Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Get your eyes off the things of earth – fear, disease, need, uncertainty- and turn them back where they belong. On Jesus.

10.
God Be With You Till We Meet Again

Are you missing your church family? This is a great song to help you prayerfully keep them in remembrance…until you meet again.


Bonus Song!
How Great Thou Art

Did you see the celebrity collab video of Imagine that was making the rounds on social media recently? Well, you probably won’t recognize as many faces on this one, but I think it’ll bless you a whole lot more. (Kudos to brothers Garrett O’Hara for coming up with the idea and Andrew Vasel for editing all the videos together on YouTube!)


Which worship songs are encouraging you during this time?

Church, Top 10

Throwback Thursday ~ Top 10 Features Your Church Website Needs

Originally published July 20, 2018

One of my favorite parts of this ministry can be found at the Searching for a New Church? tab at the top of this blog. Whether you’re moving to an unfamiliar area or you’re forced to leave your current church due to false doctrine, it can be difficult to find a doctrinally sound church to join.

I’m trying, in my own small way, to make that easier. In addition to providing church search engines and biblical resources delineating the things you should look for in a church, I’ve asked my readers to recommend any doctrinally sound churches they’re familiar with. They have generously given of their time to respond, and I’m overjoyed to report that we’ve had many happy “matchmakings” of brothers and sisters in Christ to wonderful church families.

I recently culled through and organized the nearly 250 reader-recommended churches into an easily navigable master list. I wanted to make sure the list was as helpful as possible, so I provided the web site of every church on the list. Which means I’ve looked at a lot of church websites lately. Most have been very helpful and well-designed. A few, well… let’s just say there was room for improvement.

If you want your church’s website to be helpful to visitors considering your church, as well as to your members, here are ten features (in no particular order…well, except #1) that would be beneficial:

1.
A Website

In other words, your church needs to have a website. All of the 250 churches on my master list have a website (or at least a Facebook page), so I’m guessing that means the vast majority of churches have some sort of website. However, in the past, I have attempted to find information on a particular church only to discover that they had no online presence.

When somebody puts your church’s name into Google and the only hits they get are Yelp or Yellow Pages listings, that communicates something about your church: “We don’t really care whether outsiders can find out information about our church in order to visit.” or “We are stubbornly digging our heels in against technology, even though it would benefit others.” or “We are an elderly congregation that won’t make the effort to understand how to use technology.” (Please don’t try to tell me technology is too complicated for elderly folks. My 97-year-old grandmother has a Facebook page and understands computer guts better than I do.)

Also, while having a Facebook page for your church is great (see below), I would recommend that you also have a web site. Many people, for various reasons, are not on Facebook, and even if your page is public, they have no idea how to navigate a Facebook page if they land on it. There are many free and simple web site hosts out there with a wide variety of designs such as WordPress, Free Church Websites, Doodlekit, and others. Ask around at other churches, examine a variety of church websites, or just Google “website builder”, and play around with the results until you find something that works for your church.

Finally, make the web address for your church simple, logical, and as brief as possible. If the name of your church is First Baptist Church of Anytown, make it something like FBCA.com or FirstBaptistAnytown.org, not PleaseComeVisitOurChurch.com or John316.org.


2.
A Facebook Page

What? I thought you just said we needed a website! Right. It’s very helpful to have both, for potential visitors as well as members. For visitors, a Facebook page has a friendlier, more interactive feel to it than just a web page. On your website they get “Just the facts, ma’am”: your address, statement of faith, staff, etc. On your Facebook page, they get to see the day to day goings on that members are involved in, comments from members, pictures, and so forth. For members, a Facebook page means up to the minute announcements and prayer requests, and a way to stay connected with their church family between Sundays.

But just as having no website can send the wrong message, having only a Facebook page and no website can also send a negative message: “We’re a young, hip church. We don’t care enough about the non-tech savvy crowd to make our information easily available to them.” or “Senior citizens aren’t welcome here.”

And notice, I specifically said a “Facebook” page. Yes, there are problems with Facebook, but it is the platform the majority of people on social media use. Maybe you personally prefer Google+ or Twitter, but if you want to reach the greatest number of people, go with Facebook. And be sure to post your Facebook address on your website, and your website address on your Facebook page, so that anybody landing on one will easily be able to click over to the other.


3.
The Church’s Accurate, Specific Physical Address

“Off Highway 20, just past the tire factory” isn’t specific enough for people who aren’t familiar with the area and are trying to input your address into their GPS or maps app. Give the specific, correctly spelled, street name and number, and be sure to include Dr., Ave., St., etc., especially if there’s another street in your town with an identical name (ex: Oak Dr. and Oak St.). Then, if you want to give additional landmarks, that would be helpful. Also include the full, correctly spelled name of your city and state (believe it or not, I’ve run across a few church websites that never mention which state they’re located in). People unfamiliar with your area may not know what DFW, NOLA, or Jax means.

Be sure that if the address of your church has recently changed, or if you’re temporarily meeting in another location for some reason, that you immediately update this information on your website, social media, etc. If people make the effort to get up, get dressed, and visit your church, only to arrive at your abandoned, old location, that’s a surefire way to make a bad first impression and practically guarantee that they won’t come back.

Put your physical address on the home page in an easily visible spot. Most of the church websites I visited did this beautifully, but it was annoying that some of them required me to hunt around for the address for several minutes. Was it on the “contact” page? The “about” page? The “FAQ” page? Don’t you want people to be able to find your address so they can visit?

4.
The Church’s Contact Information

This should include the church e-mail address, phone number, and mailing address at a minimum. It’s preferable to have these on the home page, but if that’s absolutely impossible, at least put them under a clearly marked, easily accessible tab marked “contact information”. Not under something less specific like the “about”, “learn more”, or “Got questions?” tab. Not under something cutesy or vague like a “Walk the journey with us” tab. Contact information. If you don’t have your social media icons on your home page, this would be a good place for those as well. You want potential visitors as well as members to be able to get in touch with your church, and most people don’t use phone books anymore.

If you use a website contact form rather than providing an actual e-mail address, be sure somebody in the church office is assigned to check those messages daily and respond to them in a timely manner. I’ve had the misfortune of trying to contact several churches through their website forms and never receiving a response. Likewise, someone should be checking and returning voice mails in a timely manner. Failing to respond to messages makes a bad impression on potential visitors and aggravates your members.


5.
Statement of Faith And Denominational Affiliation

It disturbs me that so many churches seem to be trying to hide their denominational affiliation or are being vague about their statement of faith in order to be “seeker sensitive” and not “turn people off”. That foolishness needs to stop. It’s deceptive, which is another word for lying, which is a sin. Churches need to unashamedly tell people who they are and what they stand for. If you’re so ashamed of the denomination you’re affiliated with that you feel the need to hide it from people, you don’t need to be part of that denomination any more.

Don’t depend on your church’s name to state your denomination for you. “Calvary Baptist” could mean Southern Baptist, Independent Baptist, American Baptist, Missionary Baptist, Reformed Baptist, etc. You can offer any caveats or explanations you like, but be up front about which tribe you belong to. If I’m specifically looking for a Southern Baptist church, I want to know if that’s what you are before I waste a bunch of time slogging through your website in an attempt to find out. And the same holds true if I definitely don’t want a Southern Baptist church. Don’t bait-and-switch me.

Your statement of faith should be specific, biblical, and include Scripture references. I think the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is an excellent template to follow. And, indeed, if the denomination you belong to has a solid, specific statement of faith on its website, why reinvent the wheel? Just link to it and say, “this is what we believe.” The same goes for any creeds or confessions your church holds to. Give the text or link to a site that gives the full text.

Having no statement of faith or a flimsy statement faith on your website raises immediate red flags. Not having a statement of faith says you’re hiding what you believe, or what you believe is so unimportant that you forgot to put it on the website. A flimsy statement of faith (A handful of short, extremely broad statements with no Scripture references like, “We believe the Bible is God’s Word.” Yeah? So do about 80% of Americans, most of whom aren’t even Christians.) says your church is doctrinally flimsy or wishy-washy.


6.
A Gospel Presentation

Most of the time, people perusing church websites to find information on how to visit your church are already Christians, but sometimes a false convert or a run of the mill lost person will happen upon your site. Christians should seize every opportunity to share the gospel with the lost, and putting a gospel presentation on your website is an easy way to do so.

If it’s a written explanation of the plan of salvation, make sure it’s long enough to be specific and accurate, but short enough that people will actually read it. Or, you could post a video like the one I’ve posted in the sidebar of this page, or maybe one that your pastor has recorded. Or, if your denomination’s website has a good gospel presentation page, you could link to that.


7.
Sermons

Christians looking for a new church want to know what the preaching is like. Church members who are out sick or traveling want to listen to any sermons they might have missed. A lost person who “stumbles across” (hey, we all know that’s Providence, right?) your website could listen to your pastor preach and get saved.

If you have the technology to record your pastor’s sermons and put them on the church website, do it! It can only serve as a benefit and a blessing. And if you don’t have that recording technology, prayerfully consider investing in it.


8.
Staff

It helps potential visitors feel more at home if they can get to know a little bit about the pastor they’ll be listening to or the youth director who oversees their children’s Sunday School department. A little personal information is nice, but be sure to also include some “resume” type of information, such as where he went to seminary and how many years of experience he has. A few websites I’ve looked at have included  the names of well-known pastors and authors or books that have been influential on the pastor’s spiritual life or philosophy of ministry. I find those very insightful.

9.
What to Expect

Some churches include a page on their website that gives all the details a first time visitor would want to know. If you have a welcome center where they can meet someone who will show them around, explain where it is and which exterior door is closest to it. Do you have visitor parking? Give directions to it or post a diagram. What time and in which room(s) are the worship service, Sunday School classes, etc.? Where is the nursery? Are there special accommodations for disabled visitors? Is next Sunday the monthly potluck? How do people usually dress for the worship service? Is a map or directory of the campus available? Ask new members what information they found helpful on your church’s website and what improvements could be made.

10.
Updates

If your church website has the same interface it had in 1997, it’s time for an update. Get a more streamlined, user-friendly, contemporary looking layout. It doesn’t have to look like something out of Star Wars, but it shouldn’t look like the site you had when the internet was brand new and AOL was the hottest thing going, either.

Make sure that when people click on the “about” or “contact information” or “staff” tab that there’s actually something there once they get there, not a “404 Error. This page does not exist.” type of thing. Old looking websites with pages that don’t work are not the way to introduce your church to the world. They send the message that, “Nobody here really knows what they’re doing, technologically speaking. Somebody tried to put a web page together about 20 years ago, but it was too hard, or she got too busy, and she gave up, and nobody else cared enough to handle this project.”

Additionally, keep the information on your website up to date. Sermons should be posted within a week or two max. Your calendar page should be the current month with up to date events, not the calendar from last September. If a staff member has left, the staff page shouldn’t look like he’s still there. As previously mentioned, all of your contact information should be kept up to date.

Not Absolutely Necessary, But Extremely Helpful:
Recommended Resources

More and more churches are dedicating a section of their website to a list of recommended books (and sometimes, blogs, websites, and music, as well) on various theological topics such as salvation, eschatology, marriage, etc. I’m sure this is a wonderful resource for their own members who want to study up on these topics, but I’ve found it is the fastest and easiest way to tell where a church stands, theologically, depending on which authors’ materials are recommended. If I were looking for a new church, the book page of the church’s website is the first page I’d check out. It often says more, specifically, about the church’s theology than the statement of faith page.


Your church website can be wonderfully helpful to potential visitors and church members alike. Take some time to make it the best, most welcoming and informative introduction to your church you can.

What are some helpful things you think should be included
on church websites for potential visitors? For church members?

Top 10

Top 10 Articles of 2019

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists, the Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2019, and the top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2019. Here are my ten most popular non-Mailbag blog articles from 2019:

Answering the Opposition:
Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections

There are also occasional comments and messages from women who are disciples of the false teachers I warn against, who take me to task for doing so. The same unscriptural accusations are raised again and again against me and against others who take a biblical stand against false teachers and false doctrine. Here, in no particular order, are the most frequently raised objections to my discernment work and my answers to them…


 10 Biblically Sound Blogs and Podcasts by Christian Women

False teachers. You can’t throw a rock out the window these days without hitting one. But are there any “good guys” out there who are getting it right? Discipleship, Bible study,and theological issues bloggers who rightly divide God’s word? You bet…


Christine Caine: Have No Regard for the Offerings of Caine

Unfortunately, Christine’s teachings and some of her actions do not meet even these basic biblical standards, and it is my sad duty to recommend that you not sit under her teaching for the following reasons…


 A Few Good Men: 10 Doctrinally Sound Male Teachers

Let me introduce you to a few of my favorite male authors of Bible studies
and other great Christian books and resources…


An Open Letter to Beth Moore – Timeline of Events

Since the discussion of the events and commentary surrounding the open letter have mostly taken place on Twitter, and many who have an interest in these events and comments are not Twitter users, this article is intended to be a timeline outlining the sequence of events, beginning with the publication of the open letter.


Living Proof You Should Follow Beth (No) Moore

For these reasons it is my sad duty to recommend that you not follow Beth Moore or receive any teaching from her or anyone connected to Living Proof Ministries.


Guest Post: Why I Left Elevation Church

I was part of Elevation Church for about six years. At the time, I thought it was the greatest church on Earth..


Going Beyond Scripture:
Why It’s Time to Say Good-Bye to Priscilla Shirer and Going Beyond Ministries

Should she repent in these areas in which she has broken Scripture and align herself with biblical principles, she would have no bigger fan than I, and I would rejoice to be able to point Christian women to her as a doctrinally sound resource. Until that time, however, it saddens me to have to recommend that Christian women not follow Priscilla Shirer or any materials or activities from Going Beyond Ministries for the following reasons…


 An Open Letter to Beth Moore

We as female Bible teachers ourselves write this letter to you in hopes of receiving clarification of your views on an important issue: homosexuality.


Leaving Lysa:
Why You Shouldn’t Be Following Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries

For these reasons, plus her habitual mishandling of Scripture, unfortunately, I must recommend that women not follow, support, or receive teaching from Lysa TerKeurst or Proverbs 31 Ministries(including any writers or speakers affiliated with Proverbs 31 Ministries)…


What was YOUR favorite article of 2019?

Mailbag, Top 10

Top 10 Mailbag Articles of 2019

I always enjoy the annual “year in review” articles and TV shows that run in abundance in late December, so I thought I’d contribute my own. Several Mailbag articles were among this year’s most popular, so I decided to make two separate lists. Check out my top 10 non-Mailbag articles of 2019 tomorrow. Here are my ten most popular Mailbag blog articles from 2019:

Vaxxers, Anti-Vaxxers, and the Health of the Body

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate? It’s a tough issue to discuss these days. 


Do You Recommend Angie Smith (“Seamless”)?

Wife of Todd Smith of the Christian music group, Selah, Angie started out as a blogger, then blossomed into a Christian author and speaker. Her best known book to date is a women’s study: Seamless: Understanding the Bible as One Complete Story


Potpourri (Todd Friel on Rick Warren, Enneagram, Should I stay or should I go?…)

Todd says Rick isn’t a heretic?…Sharply, yet gently, rebuking false teachers…What is an Enneagram?…Books vs. interactions…Should I leave my women’s Bible study group?


BSF (Bible Study Fellowship)

While I totally support the idea of delving deeply into the Scriptures with other women, there are a few of aspects of BSF that concern me… 


Should My Church Participate in Operation Christmas Child’s Shoebox Ministry?

Should my church participate in Operation Christmas Child? What are some other good international ministries my church could participate in instead?


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 1

Jennifer Kennedy Dean, Lisa Harper, Karen Kingsbury, Rebekah Lyons, Raechel Myers, Shauna Niequist, Jennifer Rothschild, Susie Shellenberger, Sheila Walsh, Amanda Bible Williams

(After today, I’ll be retiring this article. Thanks to Project Breakdown, I have completed updated, individual articles on each of these teachers which you may access at the Popular False Teachers and Unbiblical Trends tab at the top of this page, or by entering the teacher’s name in the search bar.)


Should Christians listen to “Reckless Love”?

Remember, everything we do should be governed by Scripture, not our opinions and preferences, or whether we happen to like a particular song or not…


Questions about the Open Letter to Beth Moore

Since the publication of the Open Letter to Beth Moore, several questions have arisen that I’d like to address…


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3

Jill Briscoe, Lauren Chandler, Tony Evans, Rachel Hollis, Chrystal Evans Hurst, Brenda Leavenworth, Leslie Ludy, Bianca Olthoff, Wellspring Group, Jen Wilkin


Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 2

Jennie Allen, Lisa Bevere, Rachel Held Evans, Heather Lindsey, Ann Graham Lotz, Kelly Minter, Nancy Leigh (DeMoss) Wolgemuth

(Project Breakdown begins on this list next!)


If you have a question about: a Bible passage, an aspect of theology, a current issue in Christianity, or how to biblically handle a family, life, or church situation, comment below (I’ll hold all questions in queue {unpublished} for a future edition of The Mailbag) or send me an e-mail or private message. If your question is chosen for publication, your anonymity will be protected.