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Showing posts from 2012

When I Don't Say It Like I Want To

i teach often.  for the last 14-15 years i have taught every week and more often than not, multiple times a week.  the most messages i've ever given in one week was 15 (different messages).  that's abnormal, of course, but when you teach all the time you are bound to have times when you just wish you had the chance to do it over.
that was me this weekend at our 9am service.  the whole time i was teaching i kept thinking, "this isn't coming out like i wanted it to."  as i was teaching i realized this isn't going to be clear.  after the service was done i was exhausted.  my mind was racing the entire time i was teaching, trying to figure out how to be more clear.  it weighs on me emotionally because, as a teacher, i really desire people to gain understanding of a truth.  so when it's not coming out right it drains me.  
because i've had this happen more than a few times, i've learned that there are 3 things i keep in mind to maintain sanity/groundin…

Using A Sermon Prep Team [3]

okay, here is the third post of this series, but i've decided to add a fourth.  when i originally thought of this series i wasn't thinking of my 6 week prep period prior to teaching the series. so in this post i will discuss that part and then the next post will cover what we do in our weekly meetings as we teach through the book.

here is what we did those weeks:
week 1: read entire book (prior to our meeting) in an unmarked bible (preferably one without chapter or verse distinctions) and talk about our initial observations, one chapter at a timeweek 2: read through entire book again (prior to meeting) and list out tensions in the text (theological or relational) or tensions in life the text addressesweek 3: read through entire book (prior to meeting) and note where thoughts start and finish.  every author has a "flow of thought" and this is CRITICAL to understand when teaching through a book.  in our meetings we talk about and share where we broke things down.week 4:

Using A Sermon Prep Team [2]

this short blog series is designed to throw out some thoughts that can hopefully help you think about ways to incorporate others into your study of scripture as you prepare to teach.  the bigger picture might even include a bible study in general.  regardless, the key is to get different types of people with different strengths so that your study becomes more holistic.  i'm seeing the beauty of this more and more as we go from week to week.

my previous post shared some of the higher level benefits of prepping my messages with a team of people versus in doing so in silo.  here i will share the types of people that i've found to be good to include.  to be clear, i didn't build the team with these types of people in mind.  i've just seen the beauty of having these types of people on the team with me.  all of the team has characteristics that overlap, but there are some clear distinctions between each person i've found to be very helpful.  here they are:
Old Testament f…

Using A Sermon Prep Team [1]

i've been teaching weekly for about 16 years in the church context as well as conferences/camps/etc.  this has ranged from junior/high school ministry to college ministry to sunday morning services, from a mega church to a church plant.  i've tried many different things in my prep, done my notes a multitude of different ways...on and on.  in my pursuit to continue learning i recently tried something new: i put together a sermon prep team.  this team is made up of 5 other people that i meet with every week (i want to add some others too, actually).  so, i thought i would do a short series here about what i'm learning about using this format.  hopefully it will cause you to consider it at some level.  i think i will break this series up in the following ways:
1. benefits of using a "prep team"
2. types of people to have on a team like this
3. the format of our meetings - what we actually do
today i will simply start by listing out some benefits i'm finding with …

thankfulness at thanksgiving is easy

being thankful over thanksgiving weekend is easy.  it's every other week that my sense of gratitude can be lost. i would love to be able to say i never take things for granted and always remain grateful for what i have. but i can't, if i'm honest.
it's amazing how when we first get something we are thankful.  but then, if we consistently have it, we begin to take it for granted.  water whenever we want it.  electricity that works all the time.  grocery stores stockpiled with food.  we are not grateful for these things all the time.  the truth is we take them for granted because they are our norm and we rarely take a step back to think about what we actually have in these things.
this past sunday at Colossae i taught on Romans 5:12-21.  in this section paul is comparing Adam with Jesus.  his point is clear: they are two different people and each leads us in a totally different direction.  here is the comparison he makes between these two in this section:
Adam led to: si…

4 Thoughts For Reaching Millenials

on saturday i was speaking at the You Lost Me LIVE tour with my good friend David Kinnaman.  he had asked me to speak previously at their Seattle event and then again to join them here, in Portland.  if you haven't read his book, You Lost Me, i would recommend doing so.

anyway, he asked me to speak about reaching Millenials in the church context.  i shared 4 thoughts.  here they are in summary: View them as people, not a stat.  this may seem obvious, but it's sadly not as common as it needs to be.  this generation is talked about (which means they are looked upon) as more of a demographic than human beings.  i get how talking about a generation in general terms can be helpful and even necessary, but this balance needs to be watched very carefully.  if you view them as a target to hit, you will surely miss.Give them belonging.  a sense of belonging only comes in/through the context of relationships.  no sermon, no programming, music, black clothe or candles...none of this gives…

Thoughts on 2 Gatherings

Yesterday was the first time we had 2 Sunday gatherings at Colossae Church.  We had reached capacity, and probably beyond, for our current facility and were forced to either: move into a bigger space or add an additional gathering.  We obviously chose the latter.

Now, to be honest, I have a whole mess of different feelings with this.  Here were some of my concerns with this transition going into it:

Losing a sense of holistic community.  There is something really special to everyone being together and I didn't know how this would affect that.  The concern of becoming disjointed in ways was not small.  The life of Colossae is found in community, so keeping communities together is a priority.  With this transition people in the same community may join different gatherings and we wondered if this would negatively affect community.Putting the focus on Sunday mornings.  We have a very strong emphasis on embracing truths in every day life and doing so in the context of community.  This i…

Interview About "Better Off Without Jesus"

I've been doing a lot of radio interviews lately for my latest book, Better Off Without Jesus.  The interviews are fun to do and yet, a bit odd.  I may write a post about my thoughts of these interviews soon here - would be fun to unpack that a bit.

Anyway, today I did a LIVE radio interview on the book. Often times these interviews are LIVE on radio only, others are recorded and then aired at a later date via the radio, but then there are ones like this that are LIVE, Live Streaming and then is also posted for anyone to listen to.

So, if you would like to listen to this most recent interview, click here.   Hope it gives you a better understanding of the book and some of the thoughts in it!

The Myth of Organic Ministry

Talk of "organic ministry" is not lacking, that's for sure.  Whenever people ask me about how I planted Colossae Church, follow up with me about one of my books, ask me to further explain my philosophy of ministry or even more specifically how I approach discipleship, they often say things like, "Oh, so you just want it to happen organically."  I think I get what they are saying, which is why I don't agree.  Let me explain a little.

Typically when people talk about organic ministry there seems to be an underlying assumption that as a leader I don't provide structure, lack focus and intentionality, but instead just sort of hang out with people, sit back, and let things happen.  But this is the myth of organic ministry.  And people who start churches with this understanding of organic quickly realize that that approach doesn't work.  Ministries (all organizations, actually) need direction and leadership.  Every community needs leadership, which means …

Millenials Don't Leave Church, They Leave a Sub-Culture

I've been thinking a lot lately about different books, theories, studies, etc. on how "Millenials" are leaving church.  I've written a bunch about it and friends of mine, like David Kinnaman (UnChristian and You Lost Me) and Dan Kimball (They Like Jesus But Not The Church), have written well articulated books describing this issue as well.

But I'm becoming less and less convinced they are leaving the Church.  Instead, I think many are simply leaving the sub-culture of a particular type of church.  And this is something that I haven't seen articulated yet.

For instance, in You Lost Me David Kinnaman describes "exiles" as people that feel more comfortable outside of a church context.  If you have not read this book yet I would recommend doing so.  But regardless, I believe much of the reason is because they just don't fit into the sub-culture of the church or churches they have been exposed to.  So, depending on context, this may be correctly art…

On Mission But Missing The Point

It's sexy now to be "on mission."  Churches sort of pride themselves in being a "missional church" or being a "missional community."  But the idea of the Church as mission is nothing new - it stems back to  the very early church fathers - actually, Jesus.

I love how the Church has focused in these ways because I believe it's God's heart.  In fact the mission statement for Colossae, the church I planted and pastor is: to join in God's mission of reconciling the world to Himself through Jesus.  As God's people we engage in what God is doing.  The gospel doesn't call us to inviting Jesus into our lives, but it's an invitation for us to join in with his life.

That's a very big and critical distinction for us to make [and one I talk a lot about in my forthcoming book, Better Off Without Jesus].  But no matter who we are or what position we have, we often all get something else confused.  We think being a Christian is about '…

Lessons From An 80 Yr. Old Saint

We had a dear family member staying with us for the past 4 or 5 days.  She is a saint.  Amazing woman to say the least.  She loves God.  She has incredible insight.  She has a very sharp mind.  She gets ministry.  She is wise.

These are all things that make for fun conversations and especially when she throws out statements like, "You know, I remember when we first got electricity at the house and..."  This is when you know you're engaged in a fun conversation!  But over the course of the weekend she said 3 things that really stuck with me.  Here they are:

We were talking about all the different ways leaders are leading churches.  She understands the approaches and acknowledges the need for different approaches.  But she looked at me and simply said, "Just do what God wants."  I wasn't complaining about anything, I wasn't even explaining things I have been thinking/praying through.  She just gets what it means to be called to something and issued that l…

Choosing Winners of Advance Reader Copies

You may or may not have caught it on my Twitter, but I am giving away advance reader copies of my forthcoming book, Better Off Without Jesus.  One a week, until the book releases August 7.  So, I posted something about the "contest" and said to RT for a chance to win a copy.

Well, I've had a few people ask me how I'm choosing the winner.  So, I thought I would let you know.

It's simple, really.  When it's time to announce the winner I list out the names of those that RT on a piece of paper (or sometimes assign numbers to them).

Then my 7 year old, Karis, picks the name who she wants to win or number that just stands out to her.

That's it.

Next week my 4 year old daughter, Hope, will choose.  Then we'll go back to Karis and so on.

It's a way that makes it fun for me, unbiased and it's a small way my girls get to be a part of the ministry.  Good luck!

Back Cover of "Better Off Without Jesus"

Here is the back cover of the book.  You can see the description and hopefully get a bit of a better glimpse at what the book is about.

Why Writing "Better Off Without Jesus" Was So Different For Me

This is my 6th book and yet I feel like it's my first.  I remember when my first book came out.  I was both nervous and excited.  I also had some insecurity about it.  I wondered if people would like it or if it would actually do as well as Zondervan thought it would.  Each book that followed my excitement was always there, but I became less nervous with each release and my insecurities subsided too.  But all the feelings from my first book are back - and even more intense.  I'm more excited, a bit more nervous and even more insecure in ways.

I am very excited because I really believe this book can be a tremendous help for people and especially for those of us that struggle to clearly hear God's direction for our lives.  For those of us that wonder how, in fact, can we know when God is speaking and when He is not.  But I'm nervous and insecure for entirely different reasons than I've been with any of my prior books.  Here are at 3 reasons why:

I'm writing from …

2 Fatal Blows To The Church (i.e. People)

At our very foundation we have some things off base.  Most is due to our culture overtaking much of our thinking.  This is a reality we all must honestly face.  We cannot get away from the fact that we are culturally influenced in our pursuit of authentic Christian faith and experience.  To deny cultural influence is to deny reality.

Here are what I believe to be 3 fatal blows our culture has thrown our way that hinder us from walking in the desired and intended ways of our Creator:

Competition.  Western culture, in economics, in homes, in school, in driven by competition.  We want to win, be the best and more known.  We have bumper stickers for parents that have the "winning" elementary students.  People's pursuit of leadership positions in the church are too often about winning, being first.  Church planting is too often about winning, being the fastest growing and most sought after.  But the Christian life is actually based on serving others, not competiti…

Human Limitation - it's real

Two weeks ago I taught on Mark 9:14-32 at Colossae and talked about some limitations we experience as people.  At one point (v.19) we even see Jesus articulate the harsh reality that people are actually incapable of remaining faithful to God's design for them.   Throughout the book of Mark we've seen him articulate his realizations of people's limitations a few different times in our study and here it seems that he knows he is going to have to reconcile these issues himself - by leaving and dying to make the imperfect, perfect. 
Anyway, we didn't break the message down this way necessarily, but we saw human limitations expressed in at least 3 different ways through this passage: The misplacement of expectations.  We can often take what we should only expect of God and expect the same of other people.  We saw this with the man who brought his boy to Jesus, but then placed what he expected of Jesus onto the disciples.  They could not meet his expectations and it ended up i…

Leadership 101

Over the next couple weeks I will be throwing out some thoughts on leadership.  I of course have a lot of different thoughts so this will be simply me throwing out whatever thought comes to me at the point of writing.  They will be somewhat random, straight to the point and hopefully helpful for you - although you may be the one that should be writing these instead of me. 
Todays thought comes from the apostle Paul and understanding a bit about his ministry.  For me, one of the biggest things that pops out about his leadership is the fact that he "lived among" those he served.  See Acts 20:17-21 for an example.  You can also see this phraseology throughout the book of 1 Thessalonians.
You might say Paul's leadership was "down to earth" and there is a beauty to leading this way.  He didn't lead from a position, he led from his life.  In Acts 20:17-21 alone we see those he led could attest to at least the following things:
1. his humility.  Can we look at those …