Great Questions for Family Conversation

OK – So we’re all inside for the next couple days. If we’re not careful, we can be extremely productive at cleaning closets and tending to projects we’ve been hoping to finish but totally miss out on making relational investments in our spouse and children. Here are a few questions that will make great conversation starters to redeem the time.

  1. What is your favorite family memory?
  2. What are you trusting God for right now?
  3. What is your favorite worship song?
  4. What do you daydream about?
  5. What is your favorite superhero/princess costume? Why?
  6. What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?
  7. What is your favorite part of school?
  8. What is one thing we can pray about as a family today?
  9. What is your favorite family tradition?
  10. If you could travel back in time, what event would you like to see?


A few other fun ideas might be:

  1. Play your favorite songs from when you were a kid.
  2. Share your salvation stories with each other.
  3. Parents, share how you met with your children.
  4. Look at old photo albums.
  5. Break out the old fashioned board and card games.


Hopefully these questions and ideas will strengthen your family relationships while you wait for the ice and snow to melt.

3 Reasons Why Young Pastors Need To Work Together

A few weeks ago, Matt Capps and I met for lunch and began to talk about the difficulty of young pastors to connect with other young pastors around the state. Matt and I have developed a friendship because we’ve intentionally pursued getting together, laughing, talking about church, praying for and encouraging one another. We decided that day to create a network of young pastors, like ourselves, who are Great Commission minded and desire to connect with other pastors, learn from each other, and partner together in order to best steward our future ministries.

I’m extremely excited about the opportunity this provides young pastors across the state of North Carolina. Our first gathering will be at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. We will gather at 4:15pm on Tuesday, November 15 in the Meadowbrook room at the Koury Convention Center.

I see great value in this gathering because:

  1. It will facilitate relationships pastor to pastor.

We pastor in a contentious world, and pastoring is not always easy. Rewarding, but not easy. We’ve seen too many pastors tense, on edge, and waiting to pounce on one another for any reason. When pastors have relationships with one another, they more often give the benefit of the doubt or have personal conversations instead of lashing out publicly. We’ve witnessed the divisive nature of pastor attacking pastor from pulpits, conference platforms and social media.

We may have different ministry philosophies, but hopefully we all have the same end goal in mind. If we’re going to truly impact lostness in the state of North Carolina, we’re going to have to come together as a team. The best sports teams always talk about chemistry. They know each other. They respect each other. They believe in each other. They work together towards the same end goal.

This gathering gives us an opportunity to kick off relationships that will go with us throughout our entire ministry.

  1. We can learn from each other.

We want to be a band of brothers advancing the gospel in our state. To do this we will create an environment where we can learn from each other and share our best practices. We’re going to sit at round tables and discuss different topics related to our church and ministries. Although this is not a revolutionary idea, it does underline the importance of learning from others and standing shoulder to shoulder with others who are walking the same path.

We’ll discuss questions like:

  1. Where do you go for resources, tips, and training?
  2. How are you developing leaders in your church?
  3. How do you keep yourself fresh to do ministry with a full tank?
  4. How are you engaging your community with the Gospel?
  5. How are you leading culture change in your church?
  6. What is the best way for us to cooperate to strengthen our future?

If everyone comes ready to share and ready to learn and challenge one another, this gathering will have significant impact in all of our ministries.

  1. We can prepare for the future.

The theme of our gathering is “Stewarding our Future Together.” When we steward our future, we make the most of it. Too many pastors become disheartened and burned out in ministry, and something must be done. While there is no silver bullet, we want to develop a group of great commission minded guys who will minister shoulder to shoulder for the next 30+ years. We hope to see each other as partners in ministry who together reach many people for Christ.

We want to resource each other as well! To get started, B&H Publishing and Crossway are providing free books (a $55 value) for each attendee.

I’m looking forward to Tuesday, November 15. I hope you’ll join us.

To sign up for the meeting, click on the link below.

Sign Up For The Young Pastors Network Gathering

Staying Connected At Church All Summer Long

Baseball camp. Football camp. Basketball camp. Travel ball. All-stars. Cheerleading camp. Band camp. Family vacation. Traveling to see family. Business trip. Campouts. Weekend get-a-ways. Beach house. Mountain home. 

What do all these things have in common? They pull us away from the consistent interaction with the community of believers we call the “church.” We live in highly mobile society. People are traveling more than ever before. How can a person stay connected to the local church during a busy summer of travel?

Here are a few thoughts:

Be fierce about your personal time with the Lord.

1 John 1:7 –  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

No one will ever be able to feed you the Word like you ultimately need. You must feed yourself. When traveling we face temptations that you are able to stay away from at home. The only way to survive is through intentional, uninterrupted time with the Lord.

Study the Word and Pray.

Recommended devotional book: New Morning Mercies

Here are some Bible Reading Plans

Here is a great book I use to help me pray: Valley of Vision

Stay connected to your local church.

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

At Apex Baptist, we use an online tool to help us stay connected even when we are physically away from the church. This tool is called Apex Connected and it facilitates community so you can learn more about ministries, register for events, connect with others, and so much more.

Apex Connected will help you stay in the loop of everything happening in your Life Group (bible study class). You may miss a few Sundays over the next few months, but you can still stay in touch with group members, see prayer needs, be informed about group functions, etc. You will also be able to see all the activities for your children so they can be involved when your family is home.

By registering for Apex Connected you will receive the E-Newsletter which will share all the upcoming events and activities church-wide.

Continue to give.

Malachi 3:8 – Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.

All of us feel more connected to things that we are investing in. By continuing to give, you are being obedient to God and faithful in your church.

To give to Apex Baptist, click here.

Find a rhythm for worship.

Psalm 29:2 – Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

We need to worship the Lord. There are many opportunities to worship when you are away.

> If you are in the same place for an extended period of time, find a local church to worship.

> If you are in different places on Sunday, grab some worship music, sing to the Lord, and watch a sermon online.

We post the songs we are singing each week at Apex Baptist on Spotify.

Here is a link to past sermons preached at Apex Baptist.

Maybe these steps and resources will help you take the next step in your walk with Christ this summer!

Value: Missional Living

Our church mission statement is: Apex Baptist Church is an authentic community of believers worshipping God EVERYWHERE we go, becoming more like Him EVERYDAY, and serving EVERYONE we meet.

We believe our mission statement comes directly from the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20

Our Missions Guides us. Our values define us.

Our values:

  1. Intimacy with Christ
  2. Missional Living
  3. Ministry Excellence
  4. Disciple-making community
  5. Generosity

These values help us fulfill our mission of being a New Testament church.

In this post, we will look at our second value: Missional Living

Missions is often the term used for going overseas for the cause of Christ – hence the word missionary. Sadly, it has led some to feel that missions is something that happens “over there,” creating a dulled sense of the needs on our doorstep.

One author wrote, “When the church is at its best, mission is not something we do; it is something we are.”

This describes our desire. We want to live every day on mission for Christ.

The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:1-7:

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

In this passage, we can learn five keys for missional living.

1. Be Authentic

Paul admitted he was having to renounce certain things. There were desires that did not honor God, but he was not allowing those desires to control him. He refused to lose heart. He saw that as cowardly. He honestly desired to honor God above all things. He was not trying to trick anyone. He was not superficially religious, but transparent, humble and real.

If we want to make a difference in our world, we must be authentic each and every day. We should strive to be the same person on Monday that we were on Sunday. We should love God and serve others because this is the model we see for daily living in Scripture.

2. Stand on the Word of God

Paul saw no other option. He believed in a straightforward presentation of the Word of God. Over and over again, he simply presented the Word of God.

Often, we want to do anything but simply present the Word of God. Paul would urge us to stand on the Word. Present Christ as the solution to all of life’s difficulties because He is the only one who can ultimately do anything about it.

3. Expect Opposition

Paul, in this passage, determines that the Gospel is veiled to those hearing his message. When they did not understand, they easily dismissed, discounted or persecuted Paul because of the message. This was nothing new or unexpected for Paul.

So many times, when we encounter opposition the first thing we do is RUN! Paul would encourage us to expect opposition and preach the gospel in the face of opposition.

4. Speak of Jesus

When we are living missional lives, it is easy to speak of Jesus. No transformation can take place a part from Him. Jesus was often on Paul’s lips and he should also be on ours.

5. Serve

Paul saw himself as a servant to the people. Serving them Jesus. He was not looking for position or power. He simply desired for people to know Jesus.

If we want to live Missional Lives, we will recognize these five keys and be certain they work their way into the fabric of our lives.

Helpful Articles For Leaders

I sat in a freezing cold conference room (why are all conference rooms so cold?) as a 10th grade high school student when for the first time I heard the simple statement, “leaders are readers.” That simple statement made an impact on my life. Since that day, I’ve worked to develop a discipline of reading. Each day, I read the Bible, a chapter or section of a theological book and a chapter, section or article on leadership.

(I know, I know. I should broaden what I read to include fiction, biography, etc. One day it will happen.)

Along the way, I run into many helpful articles for church leadership and personal leadership. Check these links. I do not think you will be disappointed.

7 Ways to Draw Millennials to Your Church

Four Primary Tasks of a Senior Leader

Read or Get Out of the Ministry

The Pastor and His Culture

The Problem with the Harvest is Not the Harvest

Great Leaders Live By Strong Convictions

An Autopsy of a Deceased Church


Happy reading!

How to Prepare to Hear Sunday’s Sermon

I’m writing my Ministry Project Report for the Doctor of Ministry program at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the process of doing research for the report, I came across Thadeus L. Bergmeier’s book, Helping Johnny Listen: Taking Full Advantage of the Sermons We Hear. This book offers great tips that help people come prepared to hear preaching.

Here is a summary of the points in this portion of the book:

To prepare physically:

1. Come Rested – So many people race into church exhausted. Sitting still for the 30-40 minute sermon can be quite challenging when a person is not rested. (Although it is quite entertaining from the platform to watch)

2. Come Filled – Eat something before church! The enemy will distract you  with hunger. Come filled and ready to concentrate because God is speaking.

3. Come Healthy – Avoid situations and things that are going to produce illness that will keep you from coming to church and being under the preaching of God’s word.

4. Come Focused – It is very easy to become so engaged in other things rather than the sermon being preached.  When the sermon begins, lock in on it and tune out all other things.

5. Come Regularly – Church should not be an option for the person who claims the name of Jesus.

6. Come Thoughtfully – come prepared to read the Bible and take notes. Bring a copy of God’s Word that you can mark in it all that God is speaking to you.

To prepare spiritually:

1. Come Hungry – Yes, be filled with physical food, but we should come anticipating and hungry for spiritual food.

2. Come Worshipping – Worshipping God is not a light switch. It is not something that can be turned on at the right time. It is a lifestyle. We cultivate it all day, every day.

A.W. Tozer – “If you cannot worship the Lord in the midst of your responsibilities on Monday, it is not very likely that you were worshiping on Sunday!”

3. Come Praying – Pray for the service, the preacher and the sermon.

4. Come Expecting – We should expect God to move in our hearts and in our church. Could the reason sermons have had so little impact be because we did not expect to get anything from them while they were being preached?

5. Come Forgiving – We must forgive others because we have been forgiven  so much.

Reflections on my first three months as a Lead Pastor


Wow. It is hard to believe my family moved to Apex three months ago.  We’ve been blessed by all of the parties, dinners, cards, and gifts that have come our way.  Apex Baptist Church is a wonderful church which God has used since 1873 as a lighthouse of hope on the corner of downtown Apex, NC. I have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of faithful men who have led this church through the years.

Recently, I took a few moments to reflect on the last three months, here are five things that stuck out to me:

I am more convinced now than ever before of the power of prayer. A pastor is to be a prayer warrior. I have realized how much of a priority prayer must be in my life. Before becoming a lead pastor, I thought I understood the necessity of prayer.  Wow. I have a whole new understanding of the purpose and priority of prayer. I’ve been taught that the more you pray, the more anointing of the Holy Spirit you will experience. I am beginning to feel like I could spend all day in prayer and not get all the way through the matters I want to bring to God in prayer. Prayer is imperative for a Lead Pastor

2. Mentors are priceless!
I had the opportunity to be mentored by a wonderful pastor, Bruce Frank. My second week on the job, I called to apologize for all the times I interrupted his sermon preparation. I am not sure I can place an appropriate value on the wisdom that he poured into me. I have been in multiple meetings and had statements that he made to me race through my mind… It is kind of creepy! There is no way I would be prepared for many of the challenges these first few months have brought without the wisdom that he shared with me. He is also is available to me today… priceless.

3. Sundays come FAST!
There is a new pressure in my life. I get to preach every seven days. It is fun, but it requires a lot of preparation. I am learning the value of proper time management and allowing my ministry assistant to help me leverage my time so that I can be adequately prepared on Sunday. I’m committed to expository preaching. This takes time to prepare and honestly has matured me substantially in my own personal walk with Christ.

4. Spiritual Warfare is HOT
I am not someone who sees a demon under every rock, but I do believe we are in a spiritual battle. Spiritual warfare is real. We all love to think about how God has a wonderful plan for our lives, but the reality is that the enemy has a plan as well. His plan is one to destroy our lives. We’ve had to step up our personal prayer lives and learned how to be better prepared for spiritual attacks. Because of this, I have learned the importance of praying for other pastors as they lead and minister.

5. This is a privilege
I cannot believe God allows me to do this. It is the most challenging and rewarding task I have ever experienced. Each Sunday, as I walk to the pulpit, I am overwhelmed with the responsibility and the privilege it is to preach the Gospel of of Jesus Christ.

Worship Songs I Listen To…

Here are some worship songs that I love. I hope these can help you in your personal worship!
My Savior Lives – New Life Worship

When I Survey – Tim Hughes

Be Thou Exalted – New Life Worship

O Worship the King – Chris Tomlin

Nothing But the Blood – Matt Boswell

Doxology – Matt Boswell

God is Able – Hillsong

O For A Thousand/Hallelujah – Gateway Worship

We Are the Free – Matt Redman

All to Him – Desperation Band

God Be Praised – New Life Worship

Jesus Son of God – Chris Tomlin

Hiding Place – New Life Worship

Open Up the Heavens – Vertical Church Band

You Revive Me – Christy Nockels

A. W. Tozer – “If you will not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week.”

Reflections on a HUGE Sunday

Wow. God was good to Apex Baptist on Sunday. We took some huge risks and invested time, energy and resources to reach out to our community. Sunday was the fall kickoff for our church. All the activities that had stopped for the summer are gearing back up and ready for a great fall semester. We, also, started a new teaching series called, Replenish: Rescue for the Tired Soul. For the last couple weeks, we encouraged our church members to reach out to their friends and neighbors and invite them to be with us on Sunday. We used buzz cards (small invitation cards) to explain all that was going on. Our life group leaders reached out to everyone on their roll and invited them back to church. We mailed a postcard to as many people as we could afford inviting them to church.

Last week, our church prayed and fasted for God to use us in our community. On Wednesday night, we prayed over every room in our church and prayer-walked our campus. I was blown away by the response of people coming out to pray. You could sense God was moving all week long.

When people arrived for worship, we had new signs out directing people where to park. Our church van was utilized to shuttle people from parking lots down the street. Volunteers greeted people in the parking lot and directed traffic. Our guests had reserved parking and were greeted as they arrived to church. The sermon truly started in the parking lot. It was amazing to watch God use so many church members as they served others.

Our preschool ministry workers were hustling all day long. We have so many wonderful families who jumped in a classroom at a moments notice to open a new classroom or offer additional help in overcrowded rooms. I believe the spirit with which our church operated glorified God!

It was fun to watch the worship center fill up. I am glad we had the extra chairs to offer latecomers a place to sit. Most importantly the Spirit of God was moving! We celebrate today, with all of heaven, those who trusted Christ as their Savior. In both services, the alters were full of people crying out to God in repentance. At the end of the day, we added five families into our fellowship.

I’m so thankful to be a part of a church that is serious about making a difference in their community. I hope and pray that this is just the beginning of a wonderful season of reaching out to others who need to find rescue for their tired soul.

Five Heroes

Many people lately have asked me about my mentors and who has had the greatest impact on my life.  Obviously, the answer to this question is ultimately, Jesus. He has made the greatest difference in my life. He has been there when I have celebrated accomplishments and been there when I walked through the deepest valleys of my life. I am so thankful for Christ in my life. He is my hero.

Next to Jesus, the following people have made a significant impact in my life. These are my earthly heroes.

1. My Wife – Yep. She’s incredible! We’ll celebrate 10 years of marriage in January.  The best decision, next to trusting Christ, of my life was asking Brigitte to marry me. She is a constant encouragement, prayer warrior, wonderful mother and my best friend. There is no way that I would be a pastor of a church without the love and encouragement that Brigitte has given me.  We’ve experienced a lot of wonderful blessings from God together and I cannot wait to see what is next!

2. My Parents – Mark and Debbie Harrison are the best parents anyone could ask for. They always kept their relationship with Christ first and modeled putting their family above their work consistently.  My parents were involved in my life when I wanted them to be there and when they needed to be there. I watched them battle disease, endure hardship and stand for Christ. I am thankful for my mom’s prayer life. I am thankful for my dad’s passion for Christ. They both love Jesus. I am blessed to be their son.

3. Dr. Steve Gaines – Bro. Steve is my childhood pastor. My family moved to First Baptist Church, Gardendale, AL, the summer before my 8th grade school year. Bro. Steve boldly preached the Scriptures in a way that challenged the intellectual, but also engaged young and developing minds.  I am very thankful for the church I grew up in. Bro. Steve led the church to worship and expect God to do incredible things. I grew like crazy under the discipleship of my parents and Bro. Steve. As a young adult, he encouraged me in ministry and helped me learn how to serve on a church staff. He was patient with me and graciously began to mold me into the minister I am today.

4. Dr. Bruce Frank – Pastor Bruce has invested countless hours into my development as a pastor over the last 3 years. Monthly, we met for lunch and he allowed me to ask any question I had about pastoral ministry.  He taught me how to think strategically and how to lead a church with vision.  I remember having so many “ah ha” moments when meeting with Pastor Bruce. It was an honor to serve the Lord Jesus under Pastor Bruce’s leadership at Biltmore Baptist Church. I do not know how to say thank you enough for his investment in me.

5. Last, but not least, I look up to a retired football coach in the Gardendale area, Bill Hawkins. He actually coached at the rival high school to Gardendale. He retired from coaching and taught drivers education for the school board. He wore out his brake trying to teach me to drive. Coach has always been a source of encouragement to me. I always look forward to hearing “How we doing there good buddy!” every time I go home.  He has modeled true love as he has stood by his ailing wife for many years. I remember spending some time at his house in the summer as a high school student and he did his best to influence me to the most important parts of life. I listened Coach. Thanks.

These are very important heroes in my life.  In the Scriptures, we meet two men named Paul and Timothy.  The Apostle Paul is well known for many reasons, but one being that he was developing younger men to carry on the faith and be the pastors of the churches he planted.  I am so thankful to be a Timothy to these listed above.  I am also thankful for the growing opportunity to be a Paul to young ministers who are just getting started.