The Seventeen Most-Read Sojourn Network Blog Posts of 2017

In 2017, Sojourn Network’s blog covered topics ranging from church planting to fundraising to city-reaching to leveraging the pastor's home and church meals and so much more. Here are the top seventeen posts of no particular order.

9 Reasons Why Lead Pastors Should Preach Less

By Joel Brooks

Pastoral plurality in the local church is not just the biblical norm, it is a practical and spiritual necessity. But plurality can’t simply be pastoral nomenclature — terms we commonly use that make little claim upon us. If plurality is real, it brings men under submission and guides their service. This means sacred cows occasionally get slaughtered so that the pastor’s soul moves even closer to Christ-like service. One of the cows pluralities are reluctant to touch is the sacred area of lead-pastor preaching. Yet there are good reasons to slaughter. 

Sojourn Network Films: Gospel Community Church & Danny Hinton

By Danny Hinton

This is a compelling look into what it is like to minister to the deaf and differently-abled.


In what follows, Joel Brooks, Lead Pastor of Redeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama, reflects on the day he looked around and realized, "Hey, we’re one of the only ones left." Offering insight from personal experience, Joel dives into the stark realities of church planting and how not to plant a service, but rather a church.

Drinking Jet Fuel w/ Tim Keller

By Tim Beltz

Tim Beltz led a breakout session at the 2017 Leaders' Summit that garnered much attention from those inside and outside our network. In this post you'll be able to listen to the breakout audio and/or read the transcript.  

Sojourn Network Films: Substance Church w/ Ronnie & Melissa Martin

By Ronnie and Melissa Martin

Ever thought about planting a church in a small town? Ronnie and Melisssa did. But it wasn't like you expected. Born and raised in Southern California, God took the Martin's into the Midwest. In Ronnie's words, "It's a long, horrible story, but at some point, [God] did a left turn in the path that we were on, and he compelled us, and inspired us to plant a church in a small town."

4 Things I Learned Serving in Kids Ministry

By Aaron Gray

Who doesn't love serving in the children's ministry, right? In this post, Aaron Gray reflects on a unique situation—the day he decided to volunteer in the children’s ministry for both services. Here are four things he learned (and why he'll do it again).

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Getting to the Very Core of Pastoral Ministry

By Dave Harvey

The gospel is at the very heart of pastoral ministry. It may seem to obvious to mention, but you cannot have true ministry without having the gospel at the very core. And sometimes the obvious needs restated in a fresh way. In this popular post, Dave Harvey shares why the gospel is absolutely essential to the role of pastor.

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Why We Plant Churches

By Dave Harvey

One of the questions church planters are often asked is “Why are you planting a church? Isn’t there enough already?” As a network of pastors and church planters, why do we think church planting is so important? How does church planting contribute to healthy pastors and healthy churches? Dave Harvey answers these questions and more in this free Sojourn Network Paper.

Navigating Church Transition

By John Starke, Jamaal Williams, and Bert Daniel

In this post we get to peer into a conversation between three pastors who have experienced transition, unhealthy practices, and decline (spiritual and/or numerical). We encourage you to listen in and learn how these gentlemen navigated those roads.

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Pastoring in a Secular Age

By Mike Cosper

In what follows, Mike Cosper, Founder/Director of Harbor Media, sketches out four things about ministry in a post-Christian culture, ranging from the effects of modernity on the Church, to ways to think about evangelism, to why the Star Wars prequels sucked.

A Readers' DIet Pastors Planters Ronnie Martin

What books should I be reading as a pastor and church planter? Is there a daily diet of book reading that would be most helpful for someone who has to wear a multitude of ministry hats and doesn’t have an abundance of leisure time to complete one of the great works of literature every two or three days? Below are some category breakdowns that have helped me put it all in order, and maybe will help provide you with a more intentional reading track for your life. 

One of the most important skills for a children’s ministry teacher to learn is how to manage behavior. I’ve found that this is particularly tricky for classroom teachers who are conscientious about the gospel. We know that we’re not saved by our performance so creating a list of classroom rules or giving too much attention to how well behaved children are can seem harsh or legalistic. On the other hand, if a teacher doesn’t think about managing behavior at all, the class can get completely out of control, kids are difficult to teach, and the joy is completely sucked out of a ministry role. So, what can we do?

Feasting with Substance Church

By Casey Smith & Ronnie Martin

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God thinks food is a good thing. So does Ronnie Martin. Each week, after Sunday services, Ronnie invites those present to a feast, something he’s been doing since the day he planted Substance Church. According to Ronnie, the Sunday feast at Substance isn’t anything extravagant, but it does represent something bigger than itself. It serves as a window into a new world, a new kingdom. The meal is a tangible occasion for welcoming one another in hospitality, extending generous grace, and fostering true community.

This intrigued me, so I asked Ronnie to explain a bit about why he’s woven this practice into the rhythm of Substance. This is that conversation.


The Pastor and Hospitality

By Aaron Gray

The Bible actually has quite a bit to say about hospitality. And the longer that I read the Bible, the more I’m convinced that practicing hospitality is not merely something a pastor or a Christian should do, but that it points to the heart of the gospel itself. But how should we define hospitality?

By Gregg Allison

For those who desire to help instruct and inspire your congregation for city-reaching, here is a biblical theology of the city, a list of 13 passages to help you in creating a sermon series on the city, 5 questions crucial to learning your city, and a community group discussion guide that coincides with my previous post on developing and preaching a theology of the city. Use the guide, share it with your friends, and go love the neighbors in your city for Christ' sake!

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10 Steps to Creating a Church Planting Prospectus (that people will actually read)

By Garrison Greene

It's important that you put your prospectus together with care and diligence. But if you’re anything like Garrison was a couple of short years ago, you’re not exactly sure where to start. I hope these 10 steps help you get the ball rolling in creating a prospectus that will serve you in your church planting endeavors.

A Forgotten Remedy for the Worn-Out Minister

By Zack Eswine

The Apostle Paul was physically and emotionally worn out. Fear thunderstormed his soul. Conflict awaited him. He had no rest. Rather than hide this fact, the Apostle gave voice to it. As pastors, the idea of giving voice to the hurricane that batters against the boarded up windows of our souls feels dangerous. But God has a remedy in mind.