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Seven Things Learned from Crawford Coon

Crawford Coon is a known name among Pentecostals. He provided to the entire world, systematic content for Bible teaching. His Christian Discipleship Course should be on the shelf of every pastor.

Crawford is my Dad’s younger brother. Their father – B. L. Coon, was a “church planter” in rural Central Louisiana before the phrase “church planter” was a phrase. Crawford and Gayle’s visits to our home were never boring. As many later came to know, Crawford could tell a compelling tale.

No disrespect is intended when I call him “Crawford.” You may know him as Pastor Coon, Brother Coon, Superintendent Coon, Bishop Coon, Dad, or Uncle. At our home, Crawford and his wife, were simply, “Crawford and Gayle.”

Crawford is one of three mentors of my life. The other two now-deceased were G.A. Mangun and T.F. Tenney. Those two affected me from a distance. Through observation, and only much later by participation, did I learn from these great men.

Crawford was different. He was near at hand. We talked. At times, rather often. Some of what I learned came from observation, others came from conversations boiled to a succinct statement.

Be Studious 

At the heart of things, Crawford was a meat and potatoes preacher. Unfortunately, as is the case in contemporary restaurants, “meat and potatoes” can be a bit rare. It is even rarer for someone to be so confident as to share his “meat and potatoes” with anyone else.

Today I looked at unpublished teaching notes Crawford gave me in the 1970s. The material is thorough, clear, concise, applicable and relevant. None has the fluffiness of whipped cream. Nor did any of the material have the confusion of a casserole.

As a youngster:  I read his material and looked at his library. He recommended some of my earliest book purchases. On occasion, I heard him preach or teach. I learned the value of a thorough, systematic study.

We both harken from the same cultural and church setting. Crawford and I both graduated from the same small-town high school. A good place to be brought up. I’m not sure it challenged either of us to do anything significant. Of course, that is likely the case in most educational environments.

Crawford made a difference. At some point, it occurred to me, if Crawford’s communication with audiences could consistently make sense, perhaps I could do the same. So, I mimicked his study, work ethic, and way of putting material together. From Crawford, came my commitment to consistently elevate the Bible to its proper place of authority.

Be Controlled

Crawford told me, “Never take action while angry. A good Pastor controls his emotions.”
I tried but did not always succeed. I’m not sure Crawford always succeeded in following his own advice.

On one occasion as a tired young pastor, my emotions mastered me. My anger was petty and ineffective. The second was when a person with a borderline personality disorder manipulated me into a minefield. At the time, I’d been away from pastoral ministry for a bit. Perhaps my sensitivity to such manipulation was dull. Through decades of pastoring, I’d never allowed anyone to move me into such a three-ring circus. Moreover, I was the “monkey in the middle ring.” In time, “somewhat controlled anger,” became a last-ditch response. It did not work.

Otherwise, I never dealt with any circumstance in anger. Now, that is not to say I didn’t get angry. I did, and I do. Crawford taught me to cool off before trying to address a situation.

Unfair things come to a leader. People misunderstand your actions. Unkind things will be said. None of us can control other people’s attitudes or actions. We can control our response. Crawford equipped me to deal with the crazy adventure of ministry.

Be Unshockable

Crawford advised me, “Do not allow yourself to appear shocked by any situation people bring you. Whether they tell you they robbed a bank; shot their neighbor, or been absurdly promiscuous always act as though the person you just spoke with had told you something much worse.”

Why is this important?

1. If you appear shocked then the person’s actions become even worse in their mind.

2. If you lean back in the chair with a facial expression that seems to say, “Wow, I’ve never heard anything quite that awful,”  the person immediately perceives you as ill-equipped to help them.

Somewhere along the path, a person’s confession will shock you. Don’t act it.  

Be Accessible

By observation, I learned to take any opportunity God gave me. Crawford did not measure  invitations. In this, he was like T.F Tenney. Thetus Tenney said of her late husband, “He went anywhere they asked him. He always thought he could help.”

This was true of Crawford when he was relatively unknown. It was still true after Crawford became a Bible teacher of note.

As a pastor, I had two different preachers cancel coming to my “at-the-time” small church. The pastor of a larger congregation had extended an invitation for the date they had previously scheduled with me. Crawford told me that was not how someone who “preached for the Lord Jesus” acted. Those who “preached for Jesus” rather than the crowd, the honorarium or to be able to drop names did so without regard to church size or the pastor’s name.

In retrospect, my biggest and most lasting impact has been with a group of 5-12 preachers. Those times are never a big deal, but for the long term, such moments are a great deal for the kingdom.

How to effectively and systematically study the Bible

Knowing how to study the Bible seems like a no-brainer. It isn’t. Some would say, “Surely every preacher knows how to study the Bible.” We assume too much.

Crawford showed me how to study for expository preaching or teaching. He also showed me how to use Greek and Hebrew resources. My approach to studying an individual Bible character also came from Crawford.

The gist of his lesson to me, “Don’t look at the scripture as bits and pieces of segregated information. Look at the Bible as a collective whole.” By his tutelage, the Bible was more than an array of sermon material, but a celebration of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything comes back to Jesus!

Be Secure

It is o.k. To relax and let a group ask questions. It is unusual for a preacher to let an audience ask questions. A time for questions was relatively normal at an earlier time. (A question to ponder:  were those earlier preachers more secure in themselves or more studious in their preparation?)

Questions can be embarrassing. The question may be irrelevant to what was taught. The question may be more of a statement than a question. The speaker may not know the answer.

Crawford didn’t care. He was comfortable in his own skin. All of the things we fear about questions came to him. He handled it all and coached me on doing the same.

Most important he taught me it was perfectly ok to say, “I don’t know.” The preacher who must know everything is dangerous. We have all dislike a “know it all.” No pastor (or preacher of any kind) needs to be thought to be as a “know it all.”

Be Trustworthy

Crawford said, “You can’t tell most of what you know about people. Through the years of pastoring a specific congregation, you will come to know dark things about each family. If you are going to help that family or others they have to trust you.”  

Part of gaining that trust is not telling anyone else what you know. This principle is non-negotiable. If a preacher cannot keep confidences, (that includes his spouse being equally silent), his ministry is limited. I’d not want him for my pastor. Unfortunately, such a leader cannot be trusted. 

Choose, Learn, Identify

The last of this is an appeal to my peers. We need some introspection to help those coming behind us.

  1. Who you learn from is important.
  2. What you can later identify as having been gained is equally important.

Until we identify what we have gained from our mentors we cannot know what we must intentionally pass on to the next generation.

Give What Has Been Given You

Please – people of my generation. Listen to Uncle Paul, “Take what has been given to you and commit it to faithful men, who will commit it to faithful men, who will commit it to faithful men, who will commit it to faithful men . . . .ad infinitum.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

It will be tragic if what we have gained from the preceding age dies with us.  It must not be. Write a book, start a blog or video blog, meet with a small group of younger preachers. Impact tomorrow by passing on what you gained. 

To whom much is given much is required! I’ve been given much.


Help!  Help!  Help!  Because of scheduled speaking engagements, I’d stocked up on all my books. Those engagements have been canceled or rescheduled.  The stockroom is overflowing with Light in a Dark Place, Ten, Take Root, Bear Fruit and all the rest. 

Right now 33% off purchases of over $20. Free Shipping in the United States. Inexpensive shipping around the world. Visit our website and check out the store wide sale on all my books! 

For more lessons learned from people who influenced my life, take a look at these earlier blogs: Things Learned from L.C.Coon; 7 Things Learned from Tom Fred Tenney; Five things I learned from H.B. Frazier;  and Things Learned from G.A. Mangun.


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Identifying Disrespect

The ability to identify and minimize connection with those who are patently disrespectful is important. Disrespect affects revival, destroys unity and limits a group’s ability to function effectively. This post is part of a semi-regular series of “Spotlight on the Scripture” writings posted directly to the Facebook page of  Calvary – Springfield, Missouri.  Springfieldcalvary 

Matthew 27:5 And he (Judas) cast down the pieces of silver in the temple . . . 

The late Billy Cole would often speak of the importance of respect. Respect validates others. Respect sets boundaries for our behavior. Those who respect, seek a way showcase other people in a positive light.

Recognizing Judas Disrespect

Because Judas may have supported a revolt against Rome, he has been called, “Judas the zealot.” He could also be labeled, “Judas the disrespectful.”

  • Judas disrespected Mary’s worship. He said her offering could have been used in a better way.
  • A kiss of betrayal disrespected Jesus. It also disrespected the significance of a kiss.

Did Judas respect anything or anyone? Probably not. When disrespect is a person’s norm, nothing is off limits.

Judas’ behavior at the temple was disrespectful. Every Jew was taught the sanctity of the temple. The temple had several sections. The Holy of Holies was where the High Priest entered on the Day of Atonement. Nobody else went there.

A second section was the Holy Place. It contained the table of shewbread, altar of incense and golden candlestick. The Holy Place was busier than the Holy of Holies. Priests were constantly serving in the Holy Place. Again, there were constraints. Nobody but a priest was to be in the Holy Place. Judas knew all of this.

The Source of Disrespect

When Judas returned the thirty pieces of silver, the English translation reads, “He cast down the pieces of silver in the temple.” The Greek word translated temple is naos. Naos referred to the “Holy Place.”  The area of the temple where a sign might have read, “Priests Only!”  Judas was not a priest. He was not even from the tribe of Levi.

What was Judas doing in the holy place?

  1. Perhaps Judas presumed that his business relationship with the priests allowed him access.
  2. Judas could no longer respect anything. Not only did Judas not respect Jesus, but Judas also did not respect the constraints of Judaism.

How to Know Those Who Disrespect

Mark those who disrespect and carefully watch for such behavior in yourself. Be careful of a “disrespector.” Several characteristics you will see in those who lack respect:

  • They never say a good thing about any other person.
  • When anyone comments on the positive qualities of someone else, a “disrespector” rolls their eyes or something similar. . .
  • The word “I” will be one the person uses often. Those who have a bold “I” in their vocabulary are never a team-player.
  • They say or do things at the most inappropriate times. An example:  confronting one of your failures or some area of conflict in front of other people. The intent is to bully and humiliate.
  • They have no sense of boundaries. You can hear Judas saying, “If I want to go in the Holy Place, bless God I’ll go to the Holy Place.”

In our age of social media dumping those who respect others will become people we prize. What about you?  Do you respect or disrespect?

My latest resource for evangelism – “What the Bible Says . . . “ a seven lesson topical Home Bible Study is available. It provides student handouts and worksheet for perpetual reuse. A pdf of the student handout material is made available to you.  The seven lessons in What the Bible Says . . . :

  • The Word of God
  • Salvation
  • Repentance
  • Baptism
  • The Holy Ghost
  • Speaking in Tongues
  • The Nature of God
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Systems for Church Growth

Systems are the making of effective life. The Bible says, “Jotham prospered.” The Bible says, “Jotham ordered his ways.” (2 Chronicles 26:7 RV) Jotham’s prosperity and the ordering of his ways are connected. The two things are always connected. People who establish no order for their life will not prosper. I cannot think of one person in my life experience or any person in history who is an exception. Can you?

You see the value of order everywhere.

  • Nature follows a system.
  • Jesus had the crowd sit down in orderly rank before he multiplied the loaves and fish.
  • When Jesus abandoned the tomb, He folded the grave-clothes.

Whether with spiritual gifts or elsewhere in life, “Let things be done decently and in order.”                              (1 Corinthians 14:40)

Systems work for the ministry. Some of the value of this is addressed in last year’s book “The Details Matter”.

Essential Systems For a Church To Grow

  • Systematic Evangelism
  • Disciple-making Systems
  • A System for Involving People

There are other areas of ministry like pastoral care, study, counseling and preaching/teaching where order helps. These will be a later topic.

The systems you put in place depend on you, the congregation and the resources available. Resources, as used here are money, people, energy and available time.  Do not feel guilty for not being able to do something when the resources are not available. However, regardless of limits these three things evangelism, disciple-making, and involvement should be approached systematically.

Systems will help a church grow. Systems will help you be effective in ministry.

Systematic Evangelism

In the Apostolic Continuum, there is no impact without evangelism. Our local congregation is just a bit above average in size. Currently, our evangelism is not as systematic as it will be. There are some things we do right. Each guest gets a personal hand-written card. Where the guest if receptive, they get a text message.

When we get an email address the person begins receives a battery of emails about the church. At Calvary,   AWeber manages our email list. I don’t know that AWeber is the best. It was not the most expensive and came highly recommended. A caveat:  I also use AWeber for If you are interested in information about Aweber for church or some other effort take a look here:   Aweber

The email letters we use in followup also follow a system. A copy of the letters is in my book “The How and Why of Follow Up Visitation.” Hint:  This week the e-book with all those letters is available for $2.99.  It is normally $9.99.

The second system for evangelism is a process to get newcomers in the door. Until a church has a consistent flow of guests resulting from lifestyle evangelism, “big events” are required. Last Veteran’s Day weekend we had a “big event.” Several newcomers attended. “Big events” include experiences like All Nations Sunday, Friend Day and Pentecost Sunday.

Big events are not my preferred approach to evangelism. In my opinion, it is better to have a steady flow of visitors. However, at times events are needed to increase the visitor flow.

What are you doing for systematic evangelism? I’d like to learn from your best practices.

Disciple-making Systems

The church is not called to make converts. The commission is to make disciples. How does a disciple-making system look?  Again, this will vary from one church to another. At the least, there should be some classes designed to orient newcomers to the church.

There should also be a time to officially welcome spiritual babies.  Below are some links to my YouTube Channel and some online teaching I’ve provided on the topic of disciple-making.

An overview of New Convert Care

Overcoming Sociological Issues for the sake of Disciple Making

Don’t Drop Your Spiritual Baby

There is more on the topic of Disciple-making at my YouTube channel. If you decide to visit, I’d appreciate an honest comment or two in the review section. (Hopefully positive, but I’ll take them all.)  While on the Youtube channel do not forget to hit the “Subscribe” button.

Retaining converts will depend on how strong and consistent your system is. A sporadic system will produce an inconsistent outcome. My little book “The How and Why of New Convert Care”  provides the skeleton of a system that can be established and sustained.  To get you headed in the right direction, with your own effort for Disciple making the job description for our church’s current Director of Disciple-making can be downloaded here. Discipleship Director

At Calvary we use the ten lessons of “Take Root” to give basic concepts about Christian life. This includes prayer and how to read the Bible. Then there are eleven lessons of “Bear Fruit” to develop concepts of Christian responsibility. Then the seven lessons of “Fitly Framed” help a person find a place of ministry in the church. In this process, we do our best to “Velcro” newcomers into the church.

What I’m describing reflects an ongoing system. Just as the sun will come up tomorrow, the things I’m talking about happening unceasingly. The consistency is what makes it a system. 


A church seems to naturally grow if people are involved in meaningful roles of ministry. However, getting people involved requires a system.

I’ve done this the wrong way and I’ve done it the right way. The wrong way was for me to simply teach my series on motivational gifts. The seven lesson series is the aforementioned “Fitly Framed”. It is good stuff. It helps every person find their unique gifting.  Thousands of pastors have a copy of Fitly Framed.

The material is good. But, like most teaching Fitly Framed does not give the structured system to engage people in ministry. Thus, the wrong way was to just dump the information out before the audience hoping it would somehow bring them to engagement. My audience found it interesting, but it did not significantly change people’s involvement in ministry. I’d given information but had not established a system.

The Correct Approach to Getting People Involved

  1. Have ministry leaders think of ways to involve people in the ministry they lead.
  2. Ministry leaders draft a simple job description for those roles.
  3. The church has a “Personnel Director” in place. Initially, this will be the pastor.
  4. Fitly Framed or something similar is taught to the entire church. This same material then is taught as a third level of caring for converts. Going forward every convert or transfer into the church is taught Fitly Framed.
  5. During the class, people take a gift test and discover their various gifting.
  6. The “Personnel Director” works with the students and ministry leaders to connect each person with an opportunity for meaningful ministry. Some ministry opportunities do need the pastor to sign off on a person’s involvement.

Best Practice for Involving People

What I’ve described is the way to get started. But, an order is only sustained with constant effort. How did my best constant effort look?

  1. I”d annually teach/preach a series about Christian Service. This teaching involved at least three weeks of consistently aiming at the target of involving people.
  2. On the last Sunday of this series, the various ministries of the church set up booths presenting their ministry and asking for volunteers.

It works! The first time we did this, our system was overwhelmed. We had far more volunteers wanting to serve than places to put them to work. We learned and did not make that mistake again.

Notice, everything I’m describing happens systematically and repetitively. Neither evangelism, disciple-making nor involving people should be a “one-off.” These are things you should be doing over and over.

System! Remember Jotham prospered. Jotham ordered his ways. The two are connected.

I’m interested in your experience in establishing sustainable systems in these three areas of ministry. This week, my reading has reminded me of the importance of learning from people who are following what the business world would call “best practices.”

What have been your best practice for evangelism, disciple-making and involving people?










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Daily Purpose

Luke 9:23

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Daily purpose is one of the 7 things the New Testament speaks of being done “daily.” Our purpose is what helps us find who we are in the Lord.

A Decision To Followfollow me

The first decision we have to make is do I want to follow the Lord? If we so choose, there are three badges of discipleship.

  • Self-denial
  • Let him take up him cross
  • Follow me

Often times it can be a struggle for people to make this decision. If you find that this is the case far too often, I have some helpful hints in one of my other blogs on spotting the fatal flaws in disciple making. Can you spot the four fatal flaws in disciple-making?

head-2713346__340The Challenge called “SELF”

Self enjoys money, food, recognition, success, and pleasure. Self has its own agenda. Our “self” is expressed in many ways. It often acts jealous, angry, boastful, or envious. We are a very self-oriented society.

Self-will At Work

Self-will caused Eve to bite forbidden fruit. Cain’s offering was worship in self-will. Of the three enemies of our salvation, flesh is the most difficult to overcome.

Self, the Sinner

Sinful humanity says, “I’m going to live the way I want to live.” The four principal manifestations of self-assertion are:

  • Self-sufficiency, “I can do it.” It is the opposite of trust. It puts no confidence in God.
  • Self-will, “I don’t care what the Bible says, I’m going to live as I please.” Stubbornness is the opposite of submission.
  • Self-seeking, “I’m the greatest.” It’s this business of boasting and bragging. It is the opposite of honoring others.
  • Self-righteousness, “I’m good within myself.” It is the opposite of humility.

Daily Self-Denial

One biblical translation says, “If any man come after me let him ignore self, and ignore self’s desires.” Ignoring self’s desire is the bottom line of totally following Jesus Christ. Jesus said that He had to have his Father’s help. If he who did no sin could do nothing of himself, what makes me think that I can do this alone? I am spiritually impotent until I discover the need for God in my life, and begin denying my own capability. The only way to get there is through self-denial.

Living Self-Denial

Self-denial puts “self” on the back burner. Self has no voice or vote in any decision. God’s word and the guidance of the Holy Ghost will order the path of a man who is a denier of self.

Daily Purpose

Far too many are Christians without commitment. The majority do not know what God has called and equipped them to do. This makes for frustrated spectators sitting on the church sideline. Jesus instructed, “. . . take up your cross (purpose) daily and follow me.”

We want the crown without the cross. We long to experience success without bearing a cross of responsibility.

It’s all wrapped up in a cross. We should ask, “Do I have a purpose?”, and “What is my cross?” If you have the desire you reach down and pick up a cross, but God does not forcibly load it on your shoulder. The Bible says, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily. . . . .”

sheep-690198__340Follow Christ

Christ also said, “Follow Me.” The very term Christian means to be a follower in the footsteps of the anointed. Loren Yadon’s study of the twenty-third Psalm concluded the sheep following close behind the shepherd always eat the best and purest grass. People who follow closely after the Lord, always receive the greatest blessing.

Our “self” is often at odds with the Lord. Living self-denial and daily self-denial are all things that we have struggled with. What are some ways that you have overcome your “self”. Please share your stories with us!

I have book recommendations as well as other useful information in my book “Daily Things of Christian Living” available on my website at