Best Practices of Conversion-Growth Churches | Influence Podcast


“Many churches in America are stalled in their conversion growth, but it doesn’t have to be that way,” writes Rick Richardson in his new book, You Found Me. In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I’m talking to Richardson about the best practices of congregations that are “effectively reaching people and having an impact in their communities.”

I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host.

Rick Richardson is director of the Billy Graham Center Institute and its Church Evangelism Initiative. The institute is the research arm of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, where Richardson also serves in the graduate school as professor of evangelism and leadership. He is author of You Found Me: New Research on How Unchurched Nones, Millennials, and Irreligious Are Surprisingly Open to Christian Faith, published by IVP Books.

P.S. Check out my review of You Found Me here.

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The Booming Marketplace of Replacement Religions | Influence Podcast


Stories about the rise of the “Nones,” that share of the American populace which identifies with no religion, give the impression that religion in America is in steep decline. “What they fail to report,” writes David Zahl, “is that the marketplace in replacement religion is booming.”

In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I’m talking to David Zahl about the contours of this new secular religiosity. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influencemagazine, and your host.

David Zahl is the founder and director of Mockingbird Ministries, whose mission is “to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh and down-to-earth ways.” He’s also editor-in-chief of the popular Mockingbird website and cohost of the Mockingcast. Most recently, he’s author of Seculosity: How Career, Parenting, Technology, Food, Politics, and Romance Became Our New Religion and What to Do About It, published by Fortress Press.

The Myth of the Dying Church | Influence Podcast


Read the headlines, and you just might come to the conclusion that Christianity in America is dying. “Christianity Faces Sharp Decline as Americans Are Becoming Even Less Affiliated with Religion,” according to a Washington Postheadline. A BeliefNet story was titled, “Declining Christianity: The Exodus of the Young and the Rise of Atheists.” According to National Public Radio, “Christians in the U.S. on Decline as Number of ‘Nones’ Grows, Survey Finds.”

So is American Christianity really declining? That’s the question I ask Glenn Stanton in this episode of the Influence Podcast. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influencemagazine and your host. Glenn Stanton is the director of Global Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and author of The Myth of the Dying Church, just out from Worthy Publishing.

P.S. Check out my review of The Myth of the Dying Church here.

Leveling the Praying Field | Influence Podcast


“Too often,” writes Donna Barrett, “prayer looks like an activity on a sports field. You know, a select group of athletes make up two teams who are in fantastic shape, well-practiced, and highly trained. They do their thing at such a level of expertise that the spectators in the stands are awed and amazed. Though a fan may toss the ball around in their backyard, that person knows full well they can’t play at the level of the pros down on the field.”

In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Influence magazine’s executive editor, George P. Wood, talks to Rev. Donna Barrett about how to level the prayingfield so that everyone in a church can pray. Barrett is general secretary of the Assemblies of God (USA) and author of Leveling the Praying Field: Helping Every Person Talk to God and Hear from God, published by Gospel Publishing House.

P.S. Here is a linkto Ken Sande’s Relational Wisdom website, which was discussed in this podcast.

Change the World By Starting With Yourself | Influence Podcast


“Every movement begins with revolutionaries who grow disillusioned with how things are and imagine how things could be,” writes Hal Donaldson in his new book, Disruptive Compassion: Becoming the Revolutionary You Were Born to Be.

In this episode of the Influence Podcast, George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine, talks with Donaldson about how to become a compassion revolutionary who changes the world … starting with yourself.

Hal Donaldson is CEO of Convoy of Hope, a faith-based, nonprofit organization with a driving passion to feed the world through children’s feeding initiatives, community outreaches, and disaster response. He is also author of 30 books, the most recent of which is Disruptive Compassion, just published by Zondervan/HarperCollins.

P.S. This podcast is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com with permission.

Embracing the Apostolic and the Prophetic With Discernment | Influence Podcast


In Ephesians 4:11–12, the apostle Paul writes, “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”

Pentecostals believe this fivefold ministry continues today. Any spiritual gift can be abused, however. And when it comes to the apostolic and the prophetic specifically, unfortunately, abuses are all too common. How, then, should Pentecostals develop the proper use of apostolic and prophetic gifts, even as they discern their misuse and abuse?

That’s the question I ask Dr. Joseph Girdler and Dr. Carolyn Tennant in this episode of the Influence Podcast. Girdler is superintendent of the Kentucky Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God, and Tennant is professor emerita at North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They are coauthors of Keys to the Apostolic and Prophetic: Embracing the Authentic — Avoiding the Bizarre, just out from Meadow Stream Publishing.

Why Grace Is More Liberating Than You Believe | Influence Podcast


“There is power available to you that can unlock your soul and all of its hidden longings,” writes John Lindell—“the buried hopes of the past, the strength needed for the moment, and the dreams for a beautiful future. That is the power of the best news: the gospel is able to change your life at this moment, even now.”

In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I talk with John Lindell about this power, which is the power of God’s grace. Lindell is pastor of James River Church, a multisite congregation in Springfield, Missouri. He is devoted to seeing the local church thrive and standing boldly for the cause of Christ. Most recently, Lindell is also of Soul Set Free: Why Grace Is More Liberating than You Believe, just published by Charisma House.

If you’d like to listen to John Lindell’s thoughts about expository preaching, listen to Episode 97 of the Influence Podcast.

P.S. This podcast is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com with permission.

Best Practices for Developing Women Leaders | Influence Podcast


Women constitute a majority of church attendees but a minority of its pastoral leaders. In the Assemblies of God, for example, women and girls account for 55 percent of all Sunday morning attendees, but only 25 percent of credentialed ministers. This is true even though AG theology affirms that “God pours out His Spirit upon both men and women and thereby gifts both sexes for ministry in His Church.” This raises the obvious question: How can we do better at developing women leaders?

That’s the question I’m exploring with Kadi Cole in this episode of the Influence Podcast. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine, and your host. Kadi Cole is author of Developing Female Leaders and president of Kadi Cole & Company. One of the first women leaders to serve in an executive role at a large, multisite church, she is now a leadership consultant for both ministry and business. She is a founding member of the Women Executive Pastors Group and the founder of MinistryChick.com.

P.S. I reviewed the book on Amazon here. As always, if you like my review, please click “Helpful.”

P.P.S. This podcast is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com with permission.

Trends in Bible Engagement | Influence Podcast


Sixty-three percent of U.S. adults “agree somewhat or strongly that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life,” with 38 percent “strongly” agreeing. That seems like a good thing, right? Unfortunately, the “data shows a continuing downward trend from the previous year (42% who agree strongly) and the all-time high of 53% in 2011.”

For the past decade, the American Bible Society, in conjunction with the Barna Group, has released an annual State of the Bible report, surveying what Americans believe about and how they use the Bible. In this episode of the Influence Podcast, I’m talking to Dr. John F. Plake about Bible engagement trends, based on the 2019 report.

I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine, and your host. John F. Plake, Ph.D., is senior manager of Ministry Intelligence for the U.S. Ministry section of the American Bible Society, as well as an ordained Assemblies of God minister. Founded in 1816, the mission of the American Bible Society is “making the Bible available to every person in a language and format each can understand and afford, so all people may experience its life-changing message.”

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