All posts by Fran Trascritti

I am a husband, a father, and a grandfather to 10! My wife, Teresa, and I have been married for 34+ years. I have been blessed to have been in church ministry since 1994, including pastoring a multiethnic, multigenerational church in the Cincinnati area for nine years. I am currently a Church Partner for LifeWay Christian Resources, as I serve the church in her mission of making disciples.

An Adventure at Opening Day

Let me begin by saying that before I moved here, I never thought that Opening Day was that big of a deal, but of course, this is Cincy.  So after living here for over three years, and adopting and falling in love with the Reds and everything Cincinnati, I decided to attend this year’s festivities.  Taking a vacation day off (yes, I had to say that), my son Jamie and I drove to downtown and took on our first ever Opening Day Parade here in Cincinnati.

I will sum it up like this: it will go down as something we will talk about for years to come!  We got to downtown early, parked in one of the garages close to the ballpark, and hiked it up to Findlay Market.  After checking out all the floats, cars, and even horses, we began to head downtown to look for a spot in which to see the parade.  It was at that point that we came up with an even better idea: we decided to be in the parade.  After all, we reasoned, what better way to see the parade than to be in the parade!

Looking around for some unknowing legitimate parade participants that we hoped to leech on to, my nervous son and I found a group that was dressed similar to us and began to blend in with their group.  We smiled and talked to each other and just kind of waited around in our place in line (toward the front of the parade).  After about twenty minutes of waiting, the parade began and we were on our way.

I wish I could tell you that we didn’t stick out from the group, but nothing was further from the truth.  You see, I decided that if I was going to be in the parade, I would really be in the parade!  I hooped and hollered, I clapped my hands, I danced, I led cheers from the parade watchers, and I slapped high fives with adults and kids alike.  We walked the entire parade route and we started to head for the game, but was stopped by one of the participants from the group that we had walked with.  She asked who we were and when we hesitated, responded with a wry smile, “you totally crashed our parade, didn’t you?”  As we all laughed, she invited us back for the next year, so we look forward to our next Opening Day! GO REDS!

40 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Our church family is in the midst of taking time over a period of 40 days to fast and pray for the Kingdom to be advanced. Many of our family of faith have fasted a meal a day, a full day of meals per week, or some other item to remind themselves to pray and seek God’s face during this time.  I believe that God is pleased when His people are faithful and fervent in their prayers.  I also believe that God renews us as we seek to glorify Him.

As a result of this time of spiritual renewal, I am excited about this Easter as well as some wonderful plans for this summer and beyond!  This Easter weekend will have three straight nights of our Passion Play.  We have a Saturday Community Easter Egg Hunt.  We are actively seeking both a part time pastor of youth and a pastor of children.  We are beginning a summer feeding program for all children under age 18 to provide free food and fun filled and Christ centered activities.  We are planning seven small scale neighborhood block parties to plant gospel seeds each Sunday night this summer.  There is a youth camp, a mission trip, and a back to school celebration in the works.  This is not all that we have planned, but as you can see, we have many great things happening to advance the gospel and help people to Come, Grow, Serve, and Share!

I invite you to join us.  Be in prayer for the Kingdom work.  Be in prayer that we all stay encouraged in Christ as we get physically tired from the many hours of planning and serving.  May we all seek to serve Christ and His Kingdom!

What we learned from the Tucson Tragedy

It’s been a short period of time, and many blogs, posts, and news articles have been already written about the implications of the Tucson event.  Some have blamed the political right, others the left, and yet others have blamed the system in overlooking a mentally ill human being when all the signs pointed to the obvious.  Analysis of the reasons for the shooting are still to come and will continue to be discussed for months, even years to come, but this is not my concern at this time.

Yet to me, the shooting was a wake up call, an appeal to the senses, that political rhetoric by reasonable people can be taken to the extremes by the unreasonable.  Can we, for example, disagree on an issue without demonizing the opposition?  Can we discuss an issue without insults spewing or anger bubbling, subtle or not?  Reasonable people can disagree without sarcasm, mockery, or condescension.  Reasonable people can see two sides of the same coin without downgrading a discussion to name calling, intelligence attacking, or (dare I write it?) racial tension.

The unreasonable, even the mentally ill take this sort of rhetoric and take it that much further.  A doubting of the opposition’s heart and intent has existed, and those that like to cling to these sort of things keep the endless cycle of hatred going.  I think that we are all tired of Democrats or Republicans being called “evil” or even “unpatriotic.”  We are also tired of pandering for the camera and “sound bite moments.”  Name names all you want, but this sort of rhetoric is found on both sides of the aisle.

That said, what can we learn from the tragedy?  We can disagree by discussing the issues at stake.  We can oppose proposals not by demonizing, but by respectfully offering a reasonable and principled alternative.  No one benefits when the opposition is made out to be less than human or sarcasm takes over.  Well meaning people can and must let the arguments speak for themselves.

For example, I will continue to support the rights for the unborn.  There is no argument in my mind and heart that could ever justify murder.  Yet it is not constructive to use name calling or sarcasm to advance my cause. I would rather appeal to the courts and laws to change this practice.  I will turn to Scripture, reason, and basic principles, and continue to pray for the end of abortion and the promotion of adoption.  I will preach from the pulpit without apology that this is the correct position to take.  I know- maybe it’s not exciting, even a bit boring to some, but this course of dialogue is the only course to take.

We have a country that is losing the war on drugs, experiencing the disintegration of families, and falling deeper and deeper into debt.  We have major policy issues at stake in the areas of the economy, deficit spending, and the military.  Our cities are facing bankruptcy, factories sitting empty, and the plight of the elderly and the poor being ignored.  These are not easy problems, yet I believe that we can come closer to overcoming these obstacles by coming together as a nation of one.  May we learn from unreason and promote reason in public discourse.

Nehemiah 6:1–19 (ESV) –

Nehemiah 6:1–19 (ESV) –

When God’s working, Satan’s attacking…

How many times have we seen God doing something absolutely, incredibly amazing, only to see distractions from people who are working in the flesh? This is what happened in Nehemiah’s case. God impressed on Nehemiah’s heart to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem, thus protecting His Temple, and through faithfulness, diligence, and the work of God and His people, the walls were completed in a mere fifty-two days.

As the work was occurring, the powers that were there already were angry and began to attack. They spread lies, innuendos, and suspicions about Nehemiah and his character. They mocked him and his work, laughed and tried to get people on their side. They played legalistic tricks to try to stop the progress being made. They threatened him and the safety of his workers. Finally, they got religious- trying to use a religiosity to stop God’s work from occurring.

What was Nehemiah’s response? Anger? Drama? None of these. It was a resolute heart, a confidence in God’s leading, and a reliance on the strength of God to overcome fleshly foes. Nehemiah didn’t rely on his ability to persuade other, no, not at all! He relied on God as he prayed, “But now, O God, strengthen my hands” (Neh 6:9). And as he resisted the threats of the fleshly ones around him, he did not run and hide- he stood his ground and proclaimed God’s goodness!

Whenever God is at work to advance His Kingdom, all of Hell is in anguish. Jesus said that the gates of Hades will not prevail against us, the church, God’s people. When God’s people are advancing the Kingdom with the life changing truth of the gospel, you are entrenched in spiritual warfare, whether you know it or not. Remember: when you see God working, run to Him in the Word and in prayer even more. Rest in God, draw near to God, and let God be your strength and shield, and as you do this, God will get the glory.


How to be ineffective in ministry

I am learning quite a bit about how to be ineffective in ministry.  

Okay, now that I have your attention, let me explain. Effectiveness in ministry is not necessarily what most people would think.  Effectiveness is not measured in how many buildings one can build, or the latest growth in worship attendance numbers, or even how well known your ministry is to people in your denomination.  None of that really matters in the big picture.

What does matter?  Changed lives.  New commitments to Christ.  Fruit.  All of these things matter to the Kingdom, though it is not always seen in the bottom line of a church spreadsheet.

Here’s some principles in how not to be effective in ministry:

  • Stay out of the Word.  Don’t read it unless you are preparing for a sermon or teaching time, and by all means, act like a professional rather than a everyday person.
  • Make your worship a farce by allowing the practice of praising God on one hand and acting ungodly toward a fellow believer on the other (this can be done by either the preacher or the member).
  • Evaluate and design your ministry in a way that makes you look good for the next search team to come around.  Go ahead and estimate high- after all, the people you shepherd are just stepping stones to a megachurch that is just waiting for you.
  • Be political.  Be very political.  Get your name out there so that others may know who you are.  The time spent getting to rub elbows with the “in crowd” evangelicals may pay off dividends.
  • Stop visiting. Just cut it out completely.  Pastors don’t do that anyway, and the ones that do are just “small church,” which is beneath you.
  • Center all ministry on you.  You are more important than training others to replace you.  If you stay vital to the organization, you can never get fired, right?
Okay, most of this is just plain awful.  However, I have either seen this happen or have done it myself.  

So how can you be effective in ministry?  Here are some biblical principles:
  • Be in the Word.  Read it.  Be immersed in it.  Be close to the Lord in your quiet time and pray for His strength and guidance in all things.  Pray for your church daily.
  • Be honest about your faults and sinfulness.  Allow God to cleanse you.  
  • When faced with sin in the church, seek to restore them if possible.  Stand firm on the Word while allowing for some time for them to change from the inside out.  If they don’t change, follow Mt 18:15-17, but do it as a final step, not a first step.
  • Focus your ministry on transformation.  Seek to reach people as they come to Christ, and then help them to grow, serve, and share Christ.  Numbers take care of themselves, and God just wants you to be faithful in what He gives you to do.
  • Stop the politics, ego stroking, and ambition.  This belongs to the world, not to the Kingdom of God.
  • Be heavily involved in visiting your people, loving them at every opportunity.  However, be sure that it does not override your study time.
  • Give away your ministry.  Start a ministry, train your leaders, and hand it off.  In fact, try to train yourself out of a job!
That’s all for now.  Hope that this was practical advice from one pastor to another.  I have learned how to make a mess of things, but I also know how God can use faithfulness for His glory.
Any other ways how a pastor can be effective?

RE: I need help with my Deacon Ministry!!!

I have had tons of email and visits to my domain name,  After trying to keep up with the website, I decided that it would just be easier to have the website come to this blog.  So if you are visiting this blog because of the search, no worries.

I am glad to help and share info that I have concerning the ministry of the deacon.  I have access to free videos, training resources, and guides in order to help deacons become “ministers of people.”  Just send me an email or call me by using the button on the side- I will see what I can send you and also give you a free personal consult.

What do I get out of it?  I would love nothing more than to see God glorified in your church and life- and that’s all we ever need!  🙂

The Great Commission Resurgence in a Nutshell

Since the passing of the GCR yesterday, I had multiple people ask simply, “what is it?”  Let me give you a quick run down of the GCR and what it means to Southern Baptists- covering all 7 parts of it quickly.  If you want more detailed info, go to

  1. A New Mission Statement for the SBC– “As a convention of churches, our missional vision is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all the nations.”  My comment: nothing earth shattering in the change here, but it is an attempt to focus on reaching and teaching.  
  2. SBC Core Values- eight core values were introduced. Again, no issues here with anyone present at the meeting (of course, there’s always one or two curmudgeons opposed to anything).
  3. Great Commission Giving– this proposal was altered a bit to include an even stronger stance on supporting the Cooperative Program.  This proposal also directed the IMB and NAMB, along with the WMU to greatly increase the offering goals by 2015 ($200 mil for Lottie, $100 mil for Annie).
  4. Change in NAMB- NAMB is to focus 50% of its efforts on church planting, ending cooperative agreements with state conventions, and forging new partnerships to keep on their new task.
  5. Change in IMB– IMB is to be free to enter North America, focusing on people groups living in the US and Canada.  For example, Iraqi immigrants in Detroit will be able to be better reached using the expertise of the IMB and the church planting resources of NAMB.  
  6. CP Promotion- CP education will be taken on by the state conventions, with support from the Executive Committee (EC).
  7. IMB to 51%- 1% will be removed from the EC and given to the IMB.  This brings the EC admin fees from 3% to 2%.
That’s pretty much it.  I pray that we may get down to business of reaching and teaching- may God guide us in His direction!

The Cruciform Church

When Christ died on the cross, He paid the penalty for sin.  Before the Righteous and Holy God, we are justified through Christ, legally, positionally, and eternally.  Christ’s death on the cross meant that we who are separated from God can now come before Him with confidence, trusting not in our flesh, our birth, our circumstances or our works, but in Christ alone and His sacrificial atonement for us.  And for that, we should be eternally grateful and thankful.

This is the basis for being a cruciform church (thanks to Lee Camp for this term in his book, Mere Discipleship).  The cruciform church is a church of individuals who take up their cross daily.  Worship is priority in all things, as it is first and foremost in all ministry, work, and action.  In fact, a cruciform church does not act without it being an act of worship to a most Holy God.

This act of worship of the Lord is expressed in many ways.  Most people think that worship means corporate worship, as in a Sunday morning gathering.  Actually, it’s often more than that, it can range from an individual/personal devotional and worship time, a small group bible study, a homeless feeding, and even a planning meeting (I know, maybe I’m pushing it)- that is, if the focus is on an expression from the participant’s heart to the Lord.

A cruciform church is formed around the cross.  It is a church with the cross in all its dealings.  It is a people eternally forgiven, eternally saved, and eternally grateful.  It is a people seeking not their own comfort, but the Great Commission.  It’s a mindset and a heart-felt change: all actions are driven by a concern for the non-worshippers of God, as those in the church reach to those who do not know Christ.  Evangelism, missions, discipleship, corporate worship, tithing, prayer, and other spiritual disciplines and practices mean nothing if the goal of expanding the Kingdom of Christ worshippers is not on its radar.

How does a church be more of a cruciform church?  It begins with the leadership.  The leaders must be sold out for Christ and His Kingdom.  They must be humble in their positions of leadership, as there are no professionals in the Kingdom of Christ.  They must be focused, removing distractions of “creature comforts” and self-centeredness from their thinking, centering their lives and minds on the things of the Lord through prayer and the Word.  They must be biblical, pointing the congregation to the principles of the Scriptures, shepherding the flock with patience and great instruction in the full counsel of the Word.  They must be slaves to righteousness, thirsting and hungering after the righteousness of God both inside and outside the walls of the church.  They must be bold and courageous, seeking God’s strength in standing up to the temptations of legalism and liberalism, saving the church from wolves that creep in, and pressing the people of God toward the Kingdom work of God.

Even more, it continues with the church itself.  The church must be willing to submit and to be lead, asking God to direct its paths and allowing God’s leaders to lead them in a direction that they should go.  They should be willing to come, grow, serve, and share Christ daily, in every place they influence: work, home, school, and even the seemingly mundane.  They must be unselfish, remembering the call to the Great Commission instead of the “Great Comfort” they so desire in their lives.  They must be hungry, desiring to see another soul saved, another life changed, and another sinner repentant.

These are the components of the cruciform church- the church with the cross in all its dealings.  Be the church. Expand the Kingdom.  Transform lives.


The Church

In an attempt to follow a biblical model for church ministry, I thought that I would mention a few thoughts of mine regarding churches and the prevailing attitudes within various sized churches.  I admit that these are not based on research, but on observations, and there are stereotypes that are inherent in my thoughts.  I will say that I have firsthand experience to varying degrees of least some of these attitudes:

  1. The Family Church- small church (usually 100 or less in worship), run by a few families, heart to grow, but most members desire a pastor that is more of a chaplain than a preacher.  Usually single staff pastor with a part time minister.  Out of necessity to have a continuous ministry, deacons can often be administrative in nature.  However, much of the administration is done by lay persons and through  monthly business meetings, though some churches function as a pastor led “dictatorship.”  
  2. The Transitional Church- small to mid sized church (100-200), some families still influence; heart to grow; most members desire a pastor to hold several duties (chaplain, evangelist, administrator, and preacher).  Deacons are more free to be ministers of people instead of administrators.  Critical time for the church as a lack of infrastructural change (ie. growth in the staffing or worship space) will begin to hinder ministry.
  3. The Expanding Church– mid sized church (200-350), some families that influenced in the past no longer hold as much sway; heart to grow; most members desire a pastor to lead staff, administrate, and  preach (possibly multiple services).  Deacons are ministers of people.  With the addition of full time staffing, much of the ministry is now able to be spread out among several pastors.  A church identity is formed and expressed in a sort of church “branding” to best express the heart of the church to the community.  A culture must developed that emphasizes excellence in ministry, that embraces change, and that emphasizes gifts to be used in ministry. 
  4. The Large Church- multiple full time staffed church with large worship attendance (350-1000); pastoral staff holds sway in ministry decisions; heart to grow; most members desire pastor to lead and preach.  The possibility of an executive pastor might exist to remove some of the administrative burdens off of the senior pastor.  Deacons enhance pastoral ministry through ministry of people.  A church “branding” begins to occur, with a clear identity of the church expressed to the community.  An intentional coordination among staff and key lay leaders might need to occur on a daily or weekly basis in order to best facilitate ministry.
  5. The Mega Church- Large gatherings, often in multiple services (1000+).  Pastoral staff administrates with associates in formed departments.  Many members desire pastor to be a figure head, a visionary, and a preacher.  Multiple preachers may be on staff to preach some of the services.  Deacons are ministers of people.  The church “brand” is recognizable in the community.  Senior staff meet separately, and then information is disseminated through other communications to associate staff.
  6. The Multi Campus Church– In this model, the church goes from multiple services in one location to multiple services in multiple locations.  This is not limited to mega churches, as multi campus meetings can occur in churches sizes from the expanding church model to the mega church model.  The “branding” of the church identity has now expanded to be recognizable enough to impact new locations.  
Again, I know that there are stereotype here as well as generalizations, but there is a sense that much of this occurs.  We can debate the individual thoughts here, but that’s missing my point.  After all, these types of churches all have a heart to grow, and all of these churches have organizational structures.  So what is the missing factor here?  
What we are missing here is the message of the changed life in Christ.  Personally, I think that churches have been overly focused on structure, systems, and resources and not enough on transforming people.  Sorry to say, but mega-church pastors and their methods sell books, but rarely are they models for others to follow.  In our quest to find the magic formula to grow our grandiose kingdoms, we miss the most important part of the reason for the church in the first place.  Converts come to Christ but do not know what is next.  Churches exchange sheep from one church to the next.  Pastors abandon one ministry for the greener pasture of another.  In the meantime, while on this earth, we lose our battle with Satan and his influence on the next generation.  
To our shame, our churches are baptizing less, tithing less, discipling less, disciplining less, and sharing less now than fifty years ago.  Something needs to change.  A discipling church is one that focuses on reaching and teaching.  There are systems, yes, but more importantly, there is a patient focus on changing the culture of the church to the heart of the gospel- that all people might come, grow, serve, and share Christ.  It is a mindset and a heart felt change, followed with action.  It begins with a transformation minded pastor and expands to the church.  And, yes, it will take time.
Let me mention this- building a life-transforming ministry is counter cultural, both inside and outside of the church.  It will not produce quick, immediate, results recognizable by associational and state convention baptismal numbers.  It will not spur the admiration of others in order to stroke your ego, accompanied with calls for speaking engagements and book deals.  It will not bring about offers for denominational positions and teams.  It will instead, bring about changed lives, and as some persevere to the end, it will result in praise and glory to God.  
Now that I have stated my case, I will keep posting on how this can happen.  Stay tuned as I lay out a plan for a biblical, transforming church ministry- one that emphasizes the gospel message to bring people to Christ and transform them to fruit bearing disciples of Christ.
Until next time,

Mondays…oh Mondays

Monday mornings can be a mixed bag for me.  Sometimes Mondays come and I get “right on it,” eager and ready for the week ahead.  Other times, after looking at my overbooked calendar with regret and disdain, I simply have dreaded Mondays.  Within those dreaded days, a very small percentage of Mondays are like today.  They are a downer.  A discourager.  A drag.  These days don’t happen much, but it does happen.

Now, please don’t get me wrong- I’m really okay, but it has seemed that today was going to be one of those small percentage Mondays for me.  I do realize that self pity and self centeredness is essentially self worship (idolatry), and certainly idolatry is sinful and repentance must come.  In my repentance of my sin, I first and foremost ran to God.  

I had to spend more time with a healing God.  I went to prayer.  I listened to music.  I especially ran to God’s Word.  As I struggled and pressed through the Bible reading, prayer, and meditation time, I found myself fighting for joy to take over my day and upcoming week.  My priority this morning became to focus on God and not my pity party, on God’s righteousness and not my self centeredness, the Lord’s glory and not my own.  I refused to let discouragement come in and take control, but instead focused on Christ alone, knowing that He brings joy. “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Ps 30:5).  I trusted that pressing on and pressing forth will result in a joy that goes further than simple happiness. 

This morning was one of those mornings that brought me joy in the presence of the Lord.  Even more, in my prayer and reading time, I ran across a puritan prayer that especially helped me and may may help others.  As a result, let me share it with you:
May I never give Thee rest until Christ is the pulse of my heart, the spokesman of my lips, and the lamp of my feet (Valley of Vision, p. 273).

May His words and His ways be my words and my ways- all for His glory!