When God Builds a Church

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9781501125256: When God Builds a Church
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Pastor Bob Russell shares the ten principles upon which Southeast Christian Church, one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America, was founded. He shares not only the story of one of the most amazing churches in America, but also what your church can become if you follow the principles and allow God to build your church.

Can the church truly be the "city on a hill that cannot be hidden" that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount? Can it grow large enough to attract throngs of seekers and yet be loving enough to care for each individual that comes? Bob Russell, pastor of Southeast Christian Church—one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America—says that it most certainly can. But it can only be done when we are submissive to God's will and allow Him to build that church. In the pages of this far-sighted, uncompromising book, Bob Russell and his son Rusty share the ten principles upon which this remarkable church was founded. Throughout the book, you will see God's mighty power at work in a church that began in 1962 with only 50 members and has now grown to over 14,000 and has become a bustling "city on a hill" whose beaming faith powerfully impacts its community and the world. This book shares not only the story of one of the most amazing churches in America but also the story of what your church can become as you follow these ten time-tested principles and allow God to build your church.

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About the Author:

God has blessed Bob Russell with a life much different than one he could have ever imagined. As a young man growing up in northern Pennsylvania, Bob had intended on becoming a high school basketball coach in his hometown. During his senior year of high school, however, Bob realized a desire in his heart to enter the ministry. Soon thereafter, he enrolled in Cincinnati Bible Seminary where he graduated in 1965.

At just twenty-two years of age, Bob became the pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Today that small congregation of 120 members has become one of the largest churches in America, with 18,000 people attending the four worship services every weekend.

Bob and his wife Judy have been married for forty years. They have two married sons who live in Louisville and are active at Southeast, and six grandchildren with whom they enjoy spending their time.

An accomplished author, Bob has written over one-dozen books. He also has a weekly column in The Lookout, a magazine printed by Standard Publishing. A highly respected speaker, Bob is heard weekly on the Living Word, a nationally syndicated radio program. In his leisure time he enjoys playing golf and is an avid University of Louisville basketball fan.

Bob Russell's gift of humor and insight, along with his unyielding commitment to honesty and integrity, will inspire the hearts of those who listen to consider Biblical truths as they relate to life in contemporary culture.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction

A DRAMATIC BEGINNING

   I'll never forget the first time I met H. W. "Butch" Dabney that afternoon in Cincinnati, Ohio, during a break at a conference on evangelism in 1965. "Hi, I'm Butch Dabney," he said. "I'm the chairman of the pulpit committee of a new church in Louisville, Kentucky, and I'd like to talk to you about our church. Do you have a minute?" 

   Butch, who was then in his early forties, was personable, confident, relaxed, and quick-witted. And he had a contagious enthusiasm for the Lord and the new church he had helped start -- Southeast Christian Church in Louisville. Little did I know that I had just met a man who would become for me a spiritual mentor and lifelong friend. 

   "Southeast is going to be such a special church," Butch assured me. "We started just three years ago with fifty members from the South Louisville Christian Church. Among those members were several experienced and devoted leaders who really want the church to honor Christ and grow. Although we're currently meeting in the basement of a house, we've grown to 125 people and are in the process of building a new church building that will seat four hundred." Butch spoke with conviction and enthusiasm as he continued, "We believe that what we do for the Lord should be our very best. We also believe we have the potential to be a powerful church, and we've been praying for the right minister. That's where you come in." 

   The situation at Southeast sounded ideal, but I knew what I had to say. "Your church sounds wonderful, and I'm sure it's going to do great things, but I know it can't be the Lord's will for me right now. In June, I became the first full-time minister of a congregation here in Ohio, and I committed to stay at least a year. It can't be God's will for me to break that promise." Butch and I parted company, and I didn't think I'd ever see him again. 

   Several months later I received a long-distance phone call. "Hi, I'm Butch Dabney. Remember me? I talked with you at the conference on evangelism several months ago. Well, we still haven't found a minister. Two women from our church came to hear you preach last Sunday and gave a glowing report. Sometime in the next few weeks, we'd like for you to come down and look over our situation. If it seems like a good fit, we'd be willing to wait until June when your year's commitment is up. Will you come?"

   Although I had a lot of apprehension about preaching in the suburbs of a large city, this was obviously an open door through which God was prodding me to walk. "Yes!" I said without hesitation. "I'll be happy to take a look."

   When I became a part of the ministry at Southeast in June of 1966, I was not quite twenty-three years old! But Butch Dabney assured me that the church was hungry to love a minister and poised to grow. He was right. The people were supportive and loving, and that's why I've been able to stay for thirty-four years. They endured some very immature sermons in those early years and helped me smooth out a lot of rough edges, and we grew together.

 

God Does Immeasurably More

    Southeast Christian Church was founded in 1962 when the leaders of its parent church (South Louisville Christian Church) felt the need to start a congregation on the growing eastern side of Louisville. After much prayer and planning, fifty people agreed to leave that established and growing congregation to start Southeast Christian Church. 

   The Sunday before the new congregation was to have its first service, Olin Hay, the minister at South Louisville, asked all those who were joining the new church to stand. When he looked out over the congregation, he was a little overwhelmed. He hadn't realized that so many were leaving. Among those who felt led to help start this new church were some of his most influential leaders. The fifty people included a worship leader, four elders, several deacons, and Butch Dabney -- Olin's own brother-in-law! But Olin bowed in prayer and asked God to bless this new congregation. And God began to bless it in an outstanding way.

   Since 1966, Southeast Christian Church has grown from 125 to over 13,500 in worship. We have gone through five building programs and two complete relocation projects, the last of which cost over ninety million dollars (including land, construction costs, and architects' fees). We have gone from an annual budget of eighteen thousand dollars to an annual budget of eighteen million dollars. 

   There have been many great joys and a few deep sorrows. Butch Dabney is now a retired elder, but he is still a mentor and friend to me. Our families are still close. He's like a father, and his sons are like brothers to me. And I have discovered that God's Word is true -- "God does immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine."

   On Christmas Eve, 1998, Southeast moved into a new facility. We desperately needed the room to grow. Before the move we had been cramming ten thousand people into a twenty-two-hundred-seat auditorium in five weekend services. In several of those services, people had to sit in the aisles, and as many as five hundred people were worshiping in the fellowship hall, watching the service on closed-circuit television. We had parking and traffic problems. We were shuttling people from off-site parking locations and housing adult Bible fellowship classes in neighborhood schools. We were even dealing with space problems during the week, without adequate room to house all the Bible studies, training programs, support group meetings, and activities we wanted to offer. 

   Our new facility includes a worship center that holds over nine thousand people, plenty of classroom space, an activities center, and two large fellowship halls. Attendance jumped by three thousand people in the first few weeks. We wondered if we would sustain that leap. Now, one year later, not only are we sustaining that growth, but we are also seeing many of those three thousand new people come forward to become a part of the church. When they come to shake my hand at the invitation time, I'll say, "How long have you been attending?" I am shocked at how many never attended our church before we moved into our new facility, which makes me all the more thankful that we chose to follow God's leading and build that new building. 

   While I was a student at Cincinnati Bible Seminary, I once visited a church that had five hundred people. I walked away saying, "That's just too big." I grew up attending a rural congregation in northwest Pennsylvania that until recent years never had more than one hundred members. I decided during my senior year of high school to enter the ministry, assuming I would return to that area of the country and help to pastor another small rural congregation. When people ask me today if I ever dreamed I'd be preaching to fourteen thousand people, I just laugh and say, "Not in my wildest imaginations." I often look around at what God is doing, consider my roots and my limitations, and say to myself, What in the world am I doing here? How did I get here? God must have a sense of humor! 

Back to the Basics -- the Purpose of This Book

    One of my favorite movies is Hoosiers, where Gene Hackman plays the part of Norman Dale, a former college coach with a tainted past who is hired to coach a rural high-school basketball team from Hickory, Indiana. Coach Dale leads the team all the way to the state finals. On the day of the semifinals, the team arrives at Butler Field House, the huge inner-city arena where they're to play in just a couple of hours. When the players enter the arena, their jaws fall slack and their eyes open wide. Gawking at the seats, the stand-alone goals, the suspended scoreboard, and the lights, they are awestruck and intimidated. 

   Coach Dale instructs one of his players to take a tape measure and determine the distance between the free-throw line and the goal. "What's the distance?" he asks.

   "Fifteen feet," the player says.

   Dale then tells the smallest player on the team to climb on the shoulders of a taller player so they can measure the goal. "How high is it?" he asks.

   "Ten feet," the player says.

   Coach Dale says, "I believe you'll find these are the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory." 

   The team members share in some nervous laughter, and everybody begins to relax. As they exit the gym, Coach Dale turns to his assistant and whispers, "Sure is big, isn't it!"

   I don't know what monumental challenges lie ahead in this new millennium. But I know we're still playing the same game. It's the same Bible we are teaching, the same truth we are proclaiming, the same Lord we are exalting. For the church to be the church -- in any 

millennium -- we must follow certain principles. If we ignore even one of these essential principles, we'll become something other than a church, with no defining characteristic to separate us from a country club or civic organization. 

   I'm convinced that if your church is characterized by the ten principles outlined in this book, regardless of the methods you choose to implement them, God will bless your efforts. 

   Many church leaders go to conferences looking for a quick fix or easy solutions to their problems. They hope to discover some fresh program, some unique gimmick that will jump-start their church --

contemporary music with a band, shorter or longer sermons, expository preaching or thematic preaching, small groups, or technological enhancements in the service. Discussing those ideas may be helpful, but what works in one culture or one area of the United States may not...

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Book Description Howard Books, 2015. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Pastor Bob Russell shares the ten principles upon which Southeast Christian Church, one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America, was founded. He shares not only the story of one of the most amazing churches in America, but also what your church can become if you follow the principles and allow God to build your church. Can the church truly be the city on a hill that cannot be hidden that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount? Can it grow large enough to attract throngs of seekers and yet be loving enough to care for each individual that comes? Bob Russell, pastor of Southeast Christian Church--one of the largest and fastest growing churches in America--says that it most certainly can. But it can only be done when we are submissive to God s will and allow Him to build that church. In the pages of this far-sighted, uncompromising book, Bob Russell and his son Rusty share the ten principles upon which this remarkable church was founded. Throughout the book, you will see God s mighty power at work in a church that began in 1962 with only 50 members and has now grown to over 14,000 and has become a bustling city on a hill whose beaming faith powerfully impacts its community and the world. This book shares not only the story of one of the most amazing churches in America but also the story of what your church can become as you follow these ten time-tested principles and allow God to build your church. Seller Inventory # AAC9781501125256

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