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Showing posts from 2014

Quick Thoughts: Newsweek Article About The Bible

I respect the fact that people have differing opinions and beliefs. I also am fully aware that there are always two sides to every story. But even though I'm not an expert theologian or a professional reporter, I can say this Newsweek article is highly unfortunate. Good for business I suppose, but potentially an unwarranted problem for those of us that know the beauty of the Church and following Jesus.  If you have not read it I recommend you do so at some point. I cannot take the time to personally address or affirm all the points made here on this blog post, but I will share a few thoughts on this, albeit blunt thoughts. College students will likely hear about this, so here are a few bullet points to maybe keep in mind upfront: Clearly stated bias. Thankfully the author clearly states his bias in the beginning. He doesn't state it as a "bias" and anyone somewhat disgruntled with the Church or Christianity will resonate with his statements, which is a bummer. But, th…

Debt To Attend A Christian School?

Okay, so, here is a bit of a "zinger" topic...one that can bring up some emotion. But, does anyone else struggle with how much Christian colleges cost? Look, I understand they don't get state funding and they desire to have top-notch professors...and all that costs money. This is NOT necessarily a post saying they should lower tuition costs. I'm actually thinking of this from the other angle - the students who make the decisions to go the school. I value and appreciate the desire to get a "Christian" education and experience in college and I happen to think there is a place for it. But... What about all these people getting youth ministry degrees and going $30-50k in debt for it? How does that make sense? What about those that just want to be a pre-school teacher or go into social work? The debt for these types of people just doesn't make sense to me anymore. I can't tell you how many people I know that are completely strapped because of their schoo…

Discipleship Battles

I've always said, "Giftedness can get you places, but character will keep you there," for more on that, click here. I believe that statement. But one of the toughest aspects of leading younger people who want to be in ministry is teaching them that being developed sometimes means limiting the use of "gifts." This can be viewed as hindering them, misunderstanding them, devaluing them...on and on. Now, to be clear, we don't want to (and cannot) unnecessarily hinder God using people. But, in leadership there is a balance. And this can be a relationally tough line to walk sometimes. Here's the consistent bottom line issue I've seen the past decade or so: Millennials (and in many cases anyone who wants to be developed for ministry) can view the Church as an object where their "gifts" are developed rather than a subject they humbly serve. In other words, in the former view, the "gifted" person is at the center of the equation whereas …

Beginning of a significant cultural shift

We all know college has become an important and, in many cases, a necessary step for people to take in our culture. In 1950 only about 9% of 18-24 year olds were attending degree granting schools (which included those attending high school) whereas today 77% of 18-24 year olds are attending degree granting institutions (not including high school - for source click here). However you look at this and whatever we think might be the cause of such an increase, this is a massive cultural shift. Over the course of this trend there have been waves and cycles that have effected a number of things in both the Church as well as culturally, both too long to discuss in this post (to read more of on this subject, click here). For this post, I would simply like to share one shift in how college is viewed that I see having a tremendous impact on how we can minister to college-age people. Put simply, the shift is that fewer people view a college degree as a right of passage.  What does this mean? We…

Church Staffing Grid

Okay, personally, I was over the whole acronym thing about 15 years ago. That said, for the first time in that time frame I have come up with one that I think works well. How's that for internal contradiction? Anyway, I came up with this a little while ago and has served as somewhat of a guideline for putting together my staff, and more specifically, the "pastoral" staff. However, I do believe this can serve as a guideline for any leadership team. The way I say it is, "I believe every staff is held together by P.A.S.T.E." I would say that to have the best team possible we should have people in each of these areas. I've written brief descriptions of each below so maybe you can read through them and compare it to those on your team. Also, see where you might fit into the bigger picture yourself. P - prophetic. This person tends to be concerned with having reverence for God and caring for the poor and needy (like the prophets in scripture). Additionally tends …

Maybe we should change how we refer to the bible...?

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post called, "Pivot of Perspective On Bible Study" where I talked about a few different ways I've been talking to people about how they view the bible. Here I would like to throw out a few thoughts I've been thinking a bit through about how we refer to it in our speech.  We refer to the bible in a number of ways. We call it things like: ScriptureThe BibleThe WordGod's WordThe Holy BibleWord of God All of these are certainly good and well-meaning names and I am not saying we should change how we refer to it. Instead, I'm asking the question, what if we changed the way we referred to it? How could that impact how we see it impacting our lives? I have found the most common way we refer to it is, "The Word of God." We have time in the Word. We study the Word. But the more I study it I'm starting to think maybe a more accurate and fresh description of it would be, "Acts of God" versus "Word of God." No…

9 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started

I have been in ministry for about 19 years and I will say it's been an amazing journey. I have served as a volunteer, intern, Jr. High Director, College Pastor, Student Ministries Pastor, Children's Pastor, and I currently pastor the church I planted about 6 years ago. It has truly been a wonderful time and journey. That said, there are a few things I wish I really understood before I started: Motivations matter way more than people tend to acknowledge. Sifting through my motivations and then making sure I don't allow my impure motivations to drive my decisions takes a considerable amount of effort and intentionality - far more than I like to admit.Being alone is way more normal in leadership than people realize. Personally, I never really feel lonely, but I do feel alone. I almost never move in a direction without a team totally on board, but I am always "ahead" of the team in ways...which means I'm alone a lot.Making meaningful decisions on Sunday is ludicr…

3 Tricks To Managing Emails

If you're anything like me managing email is nothing less than burdensome. Add onto that Twitter DM's, Facebook messages, and text messages...at times there is just too much to respond to for a personality like mine. I've made some adjustments in the way I manage social media that has helped, but I have also learned a few "tricks" to managing email. Some of these may not apply to you or your context, but maybe you would get an idea or two that could help.

So, here are three quick "tricks" I use:

Close the door.  When I respond to an email I make sure I don't have anything left for me to do when I click send.  If I don't have all the information I need to get back to the person, I wait until I do before replying.  This cuts way down on the back-and-forth emails that tend to be unnecessary.Hit the Delete button.  After I respond to an email I immediately delete it from my inbox.  I use Mail on my MacBook, so if I need something it's technicall…

Millennials And Money

We all grow up being told we "can do whatever we want to" if, in fact, "we work hard enough." As we grow, we think if we can just jump through the hoops of education then we will be prepared for the workforce. But if that was true, why do companies have ongoing training programs? The fact is a college degree is pretty much necessary for someone to get a full-time job. Even in the trade industry, there is usually some sort of schooling necessary before getting a job. But to think that these things prepare you for the work you will be paid for is crazy. Sure, there is a foundation developed in ways. But just as seminary doesn't prep someone to pastor and lead a church, neither does a college-level degree prepare people to interact effectively in the marketplace. We all need to start somewhere. This is where I find the rub to be in many cases. I find many college graduates thinking they should be paid more than they are making when they get out of school. Certain…

Loveology

My friend, John Mark Comer, has his first book release today.  It's with Zondervan and it's called Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the never-ending story of male and female.I gladly endorsed it by writing:

"In a time when people are drowning in a sea of definitions, my friend John Mark Comer has brilliantly defined love, marriage, and sexuality in ways that find rescue in the ways of the kingdom and teachings of Jesus.  This is a much-needed tool in a culture where so many lack clarity."
Here is an exert from the back cover as well: This is a book for singles, engaged couples, and the newly married---both inside and outside the church---who want to learn what the Scriptures have to say about sexuality and relationships. For those who are tired of Hollywood's propaganda, and the church's silence. And for people who want to ask the why questions and get intelligent, nuanced, grace-and-truth answers, rooted in the Scriptures.
Go get it here!

4 Reasons I Want Our Youth Pastor To Fail

I know that title may sound a bit odd, but I mean it.  I literally want our youth pastor to fail in our church. As the pastor of a church, I say this because I believe failure does at least the following 4 things:
Gain needed wisdom.  Good decision making today is usually the result of poor decisions made in the past.  The truth is we don't learn as much from our successes as we do our failures and the more we fail, the more we will succeed.Shows consistent innovation.  I push our staff to try new things.  Some will work, some won't.  That's okay.  I love Facebook's slogan on this issue: "Move Fast And Break Things."  This phrase is painted onto the walls in their facility.  I don't want to negate our past experiences (see #1 above), but I also don't want our staff's thought processes to start with what they've seen.  We want to think about our context, our people and then work toward something unique to those that will help us move forward.K…

3 Things Every Christian Might Consider

New Year's resolutions are tough and mostly because we don't follow through with them.  Everyone knows that.  But there can be some health in changing up a few things in our lives, especially when it comes to keeping our faith fresh and vibrant.

So, here are a few things you might consider changing up...

(1) Your medium for reading.  I've always considered the bible to be interesting and, frankly, I love reading it.  BUT, if I'm honest, I've realized that there are times when I stop reading it in a fresh way.  So, one thing I've found to help is changing the medium I read it on.  I found changing from my physical bible to my iPhone to my iPad helps keep it fresh.  Even though the words are the same it can be like reading them for the very first time every time I switch to a different device.

(2) The version you read.  Sometimes reading a different version of the bible brings new perspective.  I usually read from the ESV, but sometimes I switch to NIV or NAS or e…