Review of Steve Parr’s “The Coffee Shop that Changed a Church”

The Coffee Shop That Changed a Church: Discovering the Net EffectThe Coffee Shop That Changed a Church: Discovering the Net Effect by Steve R. Parr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First off, full disclosure: Steve Parr is a friend. I’ve heard him speak on his “Why They Stay” research several times, and brought him to my church so they could hear it too. I’ve led conferences with him, used his material to train my leaders, and so forth. So you could for sure write off this review as biased.

That being said, this is a wonderful book. The trope of using a narrative story to teach practices and principles is either time worn and effective (see Andy Stanley’s “Communicating for a Change” or John Kotter’s “Our Iceberg is Melting”) or time worn and hokey (see Art Rainer’s “The Money Challenge.”) Steve’s narrative, about a struggling pastor who begins to meet with an older pastor and learns how to be a more intentionally evangelistic church, is actually a really good story. The only place it got hokey was when said older pastor recommends a book from “a friend of his” and it turns out to be ONE OF STEVE PARR’S BOOKS. Come on, man!

I would recommend this book to any pastor who is interested in leading his church to be more evangelistic. And knowing the results Steve himself has had, I can tell you that it really works. Which, by the way, is half of the title of the real book, written by Steve, that the fictional pastor recommends: Sunday School That Really Works.

Shameless, I know.

View all my reviews

Ten Lepers Left

Ten Lepers, by James Christensen

I wrote this poem several years ago, but updated it and used it in a sermon I preached this past weekend. A few folks have asked for it, so here it is. It is based on the story of the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17:11-19.

Ten lepers walked the city streets,

and stopped to hear the preacher preach

So close to death, all pride was stripped,

Nothing to lose; so those with lips

Called, “Jesus, help us out a bit?”

“Go, show yourselves unto the.  priests,”

He said, they scattered, west to east

Their skin, with cleansing fire burned

Ten lepers left, but one returned.


Once, the question came to mind, “What happened to the other nine?”

And though I claim no revelation—this is nothing more than speculation

I offer you this testament

To where the other lepers went.


First, there’s Leper Number One

Who took off in an all out run.

Her feet, now free from open sores

Ran like they’d never run before.


Poor old leper number Two

Had no idea what he should do.

So, scarred from years of being shunned

Went home, locked up, and saw no one.


Then there’s leper Number Three

For whom sickness became security

For years, defined by leprosy

Till it became identity

Healed, became a bitter man

And wished he could get sick again.


That accounts for three who were healed that day

Nine lepers left, one leper stayed.


Leper four, his skin free of spots

Left and immediately forgot

He’d ever been a leper.


Five and six found love along the way.

Ran off, got married that same day.


So that makes six accounted for

One leper stayed, that leaves three more.


And of those three, there were the two

That wrote “Life from a Leper’s Point of View.”

They gained great fame in lecture halls,

Signed copies of their books in malls.

And on the Oprah Winfrey Show,

Oprah said, “We want to know,

To what do you attribute health?”

“From within,” they said. “We healed ourselves.”


Number Nine believed his leprosy

Was to be replaced with prosperity

Convinced it’s what he deserves, somehow.

He’s out there living his best life now.


So, ten lepers went their separate ways

Nine lepers left, one leper stayed.

He stayed to fall at Jesus’ feet,

Stayed to feel His touch so sweet;

To thank Him for the gift he gave,

Ten lepers cured, one leper saved.

James Jackson


Grace Given on the Way to Jerusalem

Common grace and saving grace: how God uses one to lead us to the other.

Part 3 of the “On the Way to Jerusalem” seres. Preached March 11, 2018

Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, Alabama

James Jackson, Lead Pastor

Click here for PowerPoint: WTJ 3. Grace Given

Click here for manuscript: WTJ 3. Grace Given


On the Way to Jerusalem #2: Ultimate Urgency

Jesus said it’s a narrow door to Heaven. Do you know what the two keys are to that door?

Sermon Preached March 4, 2018, Glynwood Baptist Church, Prattville, AL

James Jackson, Lead Pastor

Text: Luke 13:1-5, 22-30

Click here for PowerPoint: WTJ 2. Ultimate Urgency

Click here for Manuscript: WTJ 2. Ultimate Urgency


On the Way to Jerusalem #1: A Costly Commitment (Luke 9:51-62)

The commitment Jesus demands, and the commitment Jesus demonstrated.

Click here for manuscript: WTJ 1. A Costly Commitment Manuscript

Click here for Powerpoint: WTJ 1. A Costly Commitment

I had a video that I was going to use in the introduction about Steve Gass, the inventor of Saw Stop. Trish convinced me that it was a little too intense for Sunday morning, but if you really want to see a guy put his finger into a table saw blade, here it is (truth: even I wasn’t going to show ALL of it!):

Click here for John Piper article that was referenced in the sermon

Finally, I am grateful to one church member who fact checked my illustration about William Borden, and showed me a couple of points I was wrong about. First, William Borden was not of the Borden dairies family. Those were different Bordens. Second, while Borden’s life fully exemplified the “No reserves/no retreats/no regrets” attitude, there has so far been no Bible found that actually had those words written in them. I’ve linked to two articles about Borden: the one I used as my source for the illustration, and the one that was sent to me yesterday.

I am so thankful for a church family that digs into the Scriptures and the sermon for themselves. The people of Glynwood are like the Bereans in Acts, who “received the word with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) You are a joy to pastor!

No Reserves, No Retreats, No Regrets

The Forgotten Final Resting Place of William Borden


If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ve always jokingly wished that I would get a new body. An upgrade. Something more Chris Pratt-like (“Guardians” Chris Pratt. Not “Parks and Rec” Chris Pratt).

But if I truly believe that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, then I choose to believe that in my glorified body I will look and be exactly as God intended for me to look and be, without the negative effects of age, disease, pollution, decay, environment, athlete’s foot, and Klondike bars. And somehow, in a way I can’t even fathom, it will be glorious yet still recognizable as me. And people will look at me and say, “my God.” Not in the casual, flippant, offhandedly blasphemous way we use that phrase today, but in a way that expresses awestruck wonder for the God that could resurrect such beauty from such ashes. People will recognize me, but they will recognize Christ in me with none of the flaws that distort and hide Him. And the only thing that will keep them from falling to their knees on the spot is that Christ will be seen in everyone else as well. And maybe the reason we will not grow tired of worshiping the resurrected Christ, even when we’ve been there ten Thousand years, (bright shining as the sun), is that we will experience him in ten thousand million different ways, expressed through every unique, glorified saint.