Saturday, January 7, 2017

What I Have Learned Through Blogging

Eight years ago today my teenage daughter helped me launch this blog. My primary purpose for the blog was to help churches of all sizes, but especially smaller ones, reach the next generation. Most of my early posts focused exclusively on that topic. As the years have passed I’ve expanded my focus to include cultural trends that impact churches and devotional writings that rise up out of everyday experiences. I also have invited a handful of friends to write guest posts, some of whom have been so kind as to write a number of guests posts. I think having more than one writer adds depth to the blog.

Since the blog’s inception 258,364 different people have read one or more posts on the blog. Forty percent of the visitors found the blog through Facebook. Forty-five percent found it through a Google search. Fifteen percent discovered it through some other search engine. Most readers are from the United States, though the number of European visitors is rapidly growing.

There are 958 posts on the blog. Five hundred and fifty-four people “follow” the blog and read almost every post. Nearly 1,000 people have to read a post before it gets into the list of “most read” posts on the blog. All the posts have a comment section that is open for two weeks after posting and some great discussions have been had in those comment threads. On very rare occasions I have to delete a comment because someone tries to hijack the thread and talk about something unrelated, or they attack some other person or group in their comment. I am thankful that the vast majority of people are respectful on the comment section, as I think it helps strengthen the overall value of the blog.

As I reflect on what I have learned through blogging, these things come to mind:

  1. Having a blog has greatly expanded the number of people I minister to. It is unlikely that I will ever preach a sermon or lead a church health seminar to more than a quarter of a million, but that is how many have read at least one post on my blog.
  2. Having a blog has opened up doors for other writing assignments that I had not previously considered. I’ve written articles for magazines. I’ve write editorials for Baptist Press. I’ve written some chapters for books that other people edited and published. Almost all of those opportunities came from someone seeing something I wrote on the blog and wanting to know more. Five of my seven books developed out of things I first wrote for my blog. It really has been the gate to more significant writing.
  3. Having a blog has forced me to write in a more focused way, which has also improved my verbal communication skills. Learning to write something meaningful that was short enough to read from someone’s mobile device, yet worth the time they took to read it, was a bit of a challenge. But it has many benefits that spill over into communication skills across many different formats.
  4. Having a blog has allowed me to interact with a wide variety of people that I might not have connected with in any other way. I have become good friends with many people outside my natural circle of connections who have greatly enhanced my life. Many of those connections originated from the blog.
  5. Having a blog has given me a larger platform for finding partners for the other ministries I serve. As a leader of a faith based non-profit, strong partners are essential for effectiveness. The blog has given me greater credibility, a larger network, and a voice that has impacted those non-profits in a very positive way though the blog is not officially sponsored or endorsed by those non-profits.
  6. Having a blog with regular posts takes a lot of time. Anything worth doing takes time.
  7. Having a blog is a lot of fun! It has been a great 8 years. I am looking forward to the next eight. 

What have you appreciated most about this blog? Of all the posts you have read, was one particularly impactful? What about it made it stand out? Leave your responses in a comment below. Thanks for being part of the journey!

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

Monday, January 2, 2017

Urban Ministry

I grew up in a city. When I moved to the village of Washington, Vermont, which only had one paved street and more cows than people, it was a bit of a culture shock. But after 20 years of ministry in Vermont I moved back to a metropolitan area. I had to go through culture shock all over again.

When I grew up, suburbs were just getting started, so farmland surrounded the city. A person could get back to nature with a short drive. When I was younger cities had a mix of Anglo and African American populations, both of which spoke English. The very small numbers of other ethnic groups often kept to themselves and were seldom part of the larger fabric of the city.

Urban areas have changed in the twenty years I was sojourning in rural areas. Now cities have a wide variety of ethnic groups who speak dozens of languages. Many of those ethnic groups are highly educated and both expect and deserve a seat at the cultural table. They are not content to keep to themselves in some isolated corner. Cities have expanded in size, gobbling up the farmland around them so getting back to nature is much more of a challenge for those living in urban areas. Suburbs have grown substantially, often with a population that rivals the city itself, which creates its own set of problems in an era of limited resources to support densely populated regions. Though many cities still have pockets of extreme poverty, increasingly they are being gentrified so that only the wealthy can live there. This concentration of education, money and cultural influence has given urban areas political and economic power that is reshaping our nation.

This reshaping is also impacting the church. Many rural churches are struggling to retain the younger generation because young adults are moving to urban areas after college. Many urban churches that have historically been primarily Anglo are now shifting to become multi-ethnic. As culture becomes more secular, churches have to find ways to capture the attention of a population that seems less interested in spiritual matters with each passing year. Existing churches are struggling to make those changes.

Into that vacuum of cultural change have stepped legions of innovative church planters who are starting urban churches that are uniquely designed to address these challenges. Though many leaders in existing churches are filled with despair as they face these challenges, church planters look at those same challenges as opportunities to do church in a different way.

It is my hope that existing churches and new churches can learn from each other and be on mission together to reach cities across New England. I take heart in Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (ESV).” I believe the gospel is powerful enough to work through existing churches and new church plants. I believe the gospel is powerful enough to reach both rural and urban areas. I believe the gospel is powerful enough to reach both English speakers and all those who speak other languages who have come to live in America. I believe the gospel is powerful enough to overcome economic disparity and political pressure. The gospel is the power of God that brings salvation to all. What we have to do is share that gospel with others. Whether we live in an urban or rural area, are involved in an existing church or a new church plant, speak English or some other language, let us rediscover our voice and share the gospel with as many as possible and watch how God transforms our urban areas for His glory.

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Dr. Terry W. Dorsett has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:


Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year's Resolutions

We often make resolutions at the start of a New Year. We might resolve to START doing something good that we have always wanted to do. We might resolve to STOP a bad habit that we have struggled with for a long time. The point of New Year’s resolutions is to improve ourselves in the New Year so we are better than we were in the old one.

While our intentions for these resolutions are good, most of us eventually fail to keep most of them. One researcher said that the average person keeps the majority of their resolutions for only 21 days. But they only keep one or two resolutions all year. However, the one or two they keep become permanent changes in their lives.

Resolutions give us the opportunity to let old things pass away and new things enter into our lives. The Apostle Paul talks about this in 2 Corinthians 5:17-19:

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.  Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

This passage has a lot to say to us about how we can become better in the coming year. Let’s look at each verse.

Verse 17 - Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.

When Christians make New Year’s resolutions they have an advantage over their non-believing friends because Christ helps us change into a new creation. Actually, in a theological sense, Christians have already been made new. The sins and mistakes and dumb things we did in the past have already been washed away by the blood of Christ. Though theologically Christians may already be new in Christ, from a practical perspective, we still have a lot of growing and changing to do in order to be new. It is important to realize that when an “old thing” goes away it creates a vacuum in our lives. A new thing must fill that vacuum or else the old thing will just come right back. We must learn to replace the negative aspects of our lives with positive things.

Verse 18 - Now everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.

This verse says everything is from God. In the context of this passage, it means everything new that replaces the old is from God. The idea is that Christians are guaranteed God’s help in overcoming our difficulties and becoming new. We have the Holy Spirit to help us make and keep our resolutions. But we must pray and ask God for wisdom and strength. When we pray, we can know that God will hear and respond. God has promised that every Christian has access to Him through prayer (Romans 5:2). God always answers our prayers, though sometimes not the way we expected. God also often responds to the prayers of non-Christians because He is a God of grace and mercy, He is not obligated to do so. If we want to be better people this year than we were last year, we should spend some time praying and asking God what good things we should be doing to replace the negative things we have done in the past. If we pray and ask God for guidance, we should be prepared to listen and respond when He answers. We must also remember that God has already answered our most important prayer, which was for our own salvation. Because of that, we are now reconciled with God. Reconcile means to reunite those who are estranged. It means to remove the enmity between them and change from a position of hostility to a relationship of friendship. Before we became Christians, we lived in opposition to God, living our lives however we wanted to with no regard for God’s plans. We were not in a position of friendship with God and often worked against His plans for our lives. But once we became Christians, things began to change in our lives. Our perspectives and our priorities changed. The way we spent our time, our energy and our resources all changed. Once we became friends of God, we began to work with Him instead of against Him.

Perhaps one of the greatest things that changed in our lives was that God gave us a ministry of reconciliation. That means that God calls us to help others become friends of God as well. Just as someone told us how we could become the friends of God, we should tell others. Along with all the other resolutions Christians make, we should resolve to share our faith regularly with others. Due to differences in our personalities and life situations, we may all do this in different ways, but we should all be sharing Jesus in some way as part of our New Year’s resolutions.

Verse 19 - that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us.

Notice that as God is working to reconcile the world to Himself, He does not pay attention to the sins of those He is trying to reach. We may be tempted to only share with people who we think are good enough for the Gospel. But that is not what God does. God does not put us on a scale and then decide who is worth reaching. He reaches out with grace and mercy to all who believe. The most sinful among us can be reconciled to God if we turn to Him in faith. Maybe last year was a bad year for our relationship with God, but this new year can be our best year yet. But we must not take God’s grace and mercy for granted. One day all of our chances will be used up and we will stand before God and give an account. At that moment we will either pass into heaven or be cast into hell and our chance to make resolutions about change will have passed. But at this moment, we still have time to ask God to forgive us and resolve ourselves to follow Him. Will we request that forgiveness? Will we be resolved to follow Him? Those who are not Christians should resolve that this will be the year of their salvation. Those who are Christians should resolve to share the Gospel in the new year with anyone who will listen.

Conclusion:
Most people make New Year’s resolutions. Christians have the promise from the Lord for help in fulfilling our resolutions. To increase the success rate of our resolutions we must replace our old habits with new habits that will please God. One resolution we should add to our list is to witness more to those who are lost because God has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation.


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Terry Dorsett has been a church planter and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. Find all of his books at: