What’s more important in ministry: Faithfulness or fruitfulness?

by Bart L. Denny, Ph.D., Th.M. I’ve often heard it said (harped upon, at times) that Christian ministry is about more than faithfulness—it’s about fruitfulness. I just don’t buy that. Not in the way it seemed to have been meant when I heard it said, anyway. Yes, sometimes ministries have been unfruitful when they lack no resources to help them yield a bountiful spiritual harvest. But this sort of fruitlessness may actually be the result of un faithfulness. What is faithfulness anyway? All Christians are called to ministry. However, I do write primarily from the perspective of a church leader. As ministry leaders, we ought to be willing to take a long, hard look at ourselves in the mirror, having the fortitude to eliminate ineffective practices in our given context. We should gladly attempt to find and implement those biblically informed ministry methods that have proven fruitful for others ministering in similar circumstances. We should humbly seek coaching and mentorship from th

Why I Am Hopeful for the Neighborhood Church in America

 by Bart L. Denny, Ph.D., Th.M. If you’ve read much of my blog, you might think my outlook on the Church (capital “C”) in America is pretty negative. Not so! I hope you’ll see in my writings that, in my view, the Church must face some stark realities. I think I can. Further, in light of the world as it is and not as we would like it, we must step up to the plate to meet these challenges, or we will see more decline and further decay. We will reach fewer of our fellow Americans with the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. But for now, I will focus on the many reasons to hope for a bright future for the American Church—especially for small, neighborhood, and rural congregations. Reason #1: Most people are open to spiritual conversations. Americans may be dropping out of organized religion, but that doesn’t mean they’ve all become atheists. According to research that the Christian publisher LifeWay conducted in 2022, two-thirds of Americans are open to conversations about faith.

Some Thoughts on Empowering Emerging Leaders in Church Revitalization

By Bart L. Denny, Ph.D., Th.M. You may have read that church revitalization pastors must focus on developing and empowering next-generation leaders if their churches are to see successful revitalization. My doctoral dissertation research bore that out—not that I was at all surprised. I had already heard successful church revitalization pastors talk about it. But more than that, long before I became a “doctor,” years of experience in the military and ministry had already proven to me the necessity of developing leaders. I write here specifically to church revitalization pastors. However, given that, to the best of my knowledge, all good leadership is biblical—regardless of who is doing it—this advice could fit most leadership contexts. The best leadership development advice ever: “Train your replacement.” In the Navy—at least in the units where I most enjoyed serving—the motto was “train your replacement.” It made sense. If something happened to you in a battle (or even an accident, giv

Should Christians Oppose the Death Penalty? Restoring the Divine Nature of Retribution

 by   Bart L. Denny May 6, 2013 (revised July 25, 2023)   Introduction This paper critically evaluates the ethical reasons for eliminating capital punishment, demonstrating that Christian ethics should reject it. However, such rejection should not be because it involves the state taking human life.  Indeed, the church has long affirmed the state’s right to exercise the death penalty, citing numerous biblical examples not only allowing capital punishment but rather demanding it.  In short, on its face, the basic concept of capital punishment is imminently biblical. However, currently and historically, the death penalty is not ethically administered by any state. This reality seems unlikely to change in any present system of secular rule or, as history shows, in any theocracy. Christian opponents of capital punishment are inclined to relegate the practice to the Old Testament, with no place alongside Christ’s teachings of mercy and forgiveness.  However, the most popular argument

Is Speaking in Tongues for Today?

 I wrote This research paper several years ago (sometime in 2012) for a class. Edits are minor, and where my views have changed or evolved, I speak of that in brackets. The topic is one of controversy in evangelicalism. For me, in the years since I first wrote this, the issue has become less about whether speaking in tongues exists today but rather whether what passes for tongues-speaking is, in fact, the speaking in tongues we encounter in the Bible. I don’t wish to break fellowship with people who disagree with me on this particular issue but are passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (as I am) and hold the Bible as God’s inspired Word (as I do). I believe that biblical tongues-speaking still exists and is rare. Moreover, most of what passes for tongues-speaking in churches today is not the phenomenon we see in the New Testament. Is Speaking in Tongues for Today? by Bart L. Denny, 2012 (updated in 2023) Introduction Does tongues-speaking continue today?  This paper will