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An early Christian thinker named Tertullian asked, “What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?” In his day he warned against the push of the academy and philosophy against the Church and Christian faith. In our day we might ask “What does Rome have to do with Cambridge, New Haven, or Princeton?” Because in our day Harvard, Yale, and Princeton are pressing in against the Church in a similar way. But rather than philosophy, science is posing new challenges.
Put another way, “What does faith have to do with science?” This is one of the questions of our day, particularly how to reconcile the biblical creation narrative with science’s evolutionary one. It’s a question our people are asking, it’s a question our culture is asking. And we ministry leaders must equip ourselves to answer these questions.
One resource that will equip us is the new book Four Views on the Historical Adam. It engages head on a new civil debate that has opened up between evangelicals regarding opposing views of the Bible and science. Though past debates about evolutionism and creationism lay beneath the surface of this new one, this contemporary discussion is more about whether there is a real historical Adam.
The book outlines the four primary views on the historical Adam held by evangelicals. It’s a pastoral resource as much as a theological one. And as a pastor myself I recommend it to you for 3 important reasons: because your people are asking questions; our answers impact our theology; and this book generates respectful, truthful conversation.
If you follow the news at just a cursory glance you know from several front page scandals that the business world is suffering from ethical dehydration. From WorldCom to Enron to Arthur Anderson and beyond, people in the corporate world seem to need re-schooling in ethics.
But then there are the consumers who helped tip our economy over the edge into the Great Recession, too. They bought houses they couldn’t afford after lying about income they never had. Others refinanced their mini-McMansions in order to finance that boat, third car, and trip through Europe.
In other words, every economic actor is to blame for our current economic problems because everyone , to some degree, is lacking in ethics.
This is no way to run an economy, says Scott B. Rae in his new book Doing the Right Thing: Making Moral Choices in a World Full of Options. Because contrary to popular assumption neither corporate greed nor consumer greed is the engine of a flourishing economy and profitable business.
In his book Scott sets out to help people make moral choices in a world full of options. And one of the things I like about this book is that it does so through practical, down-to-earth chapters that connect to everyday life. One of those chapters, “Ethics in the Marketplace” reminds us of the number one necessary thing for driving our economy, which we ministry leaders have a responsibility cultivate among our people.
As ministry leaders it’s easy to get wrapped up in the daily administrative, leadership, and shepherding demands of our ministry. We’ve got to finalize next years budget, plan that awesome youth outing, or counsel a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. The are all great things, but sometimes we need to set aside time to engage with the theological demands, as well.
Enter the “views books” by Zondervan Academic. These short guides are designed to help introduce important biblical and theological evangelical “views” through evangelical voices. The latest book, Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy, presents current discussions about a crucial topic: the inerrancy of the Bible.
While you may not realize it, inerrancy is an important doctrine as well as an important ministry leadership issue. Because helping our people understand what the Bible is and how it functions impacts how they read the Bible and other areas of doctrine. There are 4 key reasons why you need to read this book in order to better serve your people in ministry.
Zondervan would like to invite you to take part in a review blog tour for a timely, relevant new book pastor and author Andy Stanley, called How to Be Rich: It’s Not What You Have. It’s What You Do With What You Have.
Paul wrote to Timothy to “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” (1 Timothy 6:18) This is the launch point for Andy’s book.
In his letter Paul asks us to imagine the difference we could make if we followed Paul’s command to “Do good, be rich in good deeds, and be generous and willing to share.”? Early Christians did. They were known for the extraordinary generosity they displayed. And in Be Rich, Andy challenges today’s Christians to rise to the occasion. To unleash a wave of generosity. To be rich—in a big, big way.
Andy unmasks our desire to place our hopes in wealth instead of in God, while describing the different way Christians can think about using their wealth: the more you give away the richer you become.
We are excited about how Andy’s new book can change the Church’s conversation about money and catalyze a movement of believers who are generous with their resources. But we need your help.
We have 25 review copies to give away to a randomly selected group of people who will commit to reading and then posting a review of Andy’s new book the week of January 5, by January 11, 2014. If you have a blog and would like to help, fill out all of the required information using the form below and submit by 11:59 P.M. Monday, December 16, 2013. We will randomly select 25 people for this blog tour opportunity. Sorry, due to international shipping constraints this opportunity is available for USA residents only.
Last summer the New York Times investigated allegations of widespread cheating in one of New York Cities most prestigious schools, Stuyvesant High. Apparently more than 80 students communicated about exams via text message. In a follow-up article, here was how one student involved in the alleged cheating described his rationale:
It’s like, ‘I’ll keep my integrity and fail this test’ — no. No one wants to fail a test,” he said, explaining how he and others persuaded themselves to cheat. “You could study for two hours and get an 80, or you could take a risk and get a 90.
While such candor is shocking, it isn’t to Scott B. Rae. He has written a new book that insists we are in an ethical mess, and we need to reignite a passion and commitment to “doing the right thing” in order for our society to remain free and prosper.
In his new book, Doing the Right Thing: Making Moral Choices in a World Full of Options, Scott insists that part of the reason why we’re in such an ethical mess, as evidenced in the above cheating scandal, is because of the incoherent views people have regarding morality, which cashes out as moral relativism. There are 4 dominate views:
- “What gives you the right to judge?”—A common refrain that insists no one has the right to make particular moral judgments.
- Follow your own conscience—Scott calls this view the “Jiminy Cricket” view of morality, in which people are encouraged to let their conscience be their guide, as in the Disney movie Pinocchio.
- Values are what you value—This view is pretty straightforward: values are defined as whatever you as an individual value.
- We make up our own moral rules for ourselves—In this common way of expressing moral relativism, either culture makes their own moral rules or individuals make up their own moral rules for themselves based on personal tastes and preferences.
Given this list it’s no wonder the episode in Stuyvesant happened!
As a pastor I want to ask this: What are we ministry leaders to do in the face of such incoherence and confusion? Scott suggests there are 4 alternative crucial characteristics of a distinctly Christian ethic that will fight against the incoherence of moral relativism: Transcendence, objectivity, universality, knowability.
Stop for a minute and look at your desk lamp or your ceiling. Inside is one of the most crucial inventions of the modern world: the lightbulb.
But did you know that one monumental innovation was the result of thousands of monumental failures? In response to that repeated pattern of failure Thomas Edison famously quipped, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Plenty of other successful leaders have followed suite: Abraham Lincoln lost countless elections, for years Albert Einstein was told he was stupid, Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, the founder of FedEx was given a C by his business professor for his college class idea.
Stories like these are comforting, aren’t they? They reassure us that our own failures and stumbles don’t have to be final.
Until they are. Because as Larry Osborne explains in his new ministry leadership book, Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret, the fact is some failures are final. “It doesn’t matter how much we believe in ourselves or how doggedly we pursue the dream, some failures permanently close the door.” (87)
In his chapter on “The High Price of Failure,” Larry outlines four major “leadership felonies” all of us ministry leaders are capable of committing. If we do, they will obliterate our trust and credibility and prevent us from executing our God-given mission.
Larry Osborne Says Answering These Two Questions Will Make Your Ministry Ripe for Birthing Innovation
As a youth worker, small group leader, or pastor, what frustrates you the most in your ministry? What do you see that’s not working?
In his new book Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret, Larry Osborn says these two questions are crucial for birthing innovation and moving organizations to new plateaus of effectiveness.
I wish I would have known that several years ago when I worked for a unique ministry to congressional leaders in our nation’s capital. The organization ministered to the spiritual needs of Senators, Representatives, and their staff through discipleship and evangelism. One of the major ways we executed our mission was by equipping congressional staffers to minister themselves.
We used a method of evangelism training that was developed in a different time and culture, focusing on answering questions about getting to heaven after death. A year in I had this sense that it wasn’t working in the unique post-Christian, young adult context of Capitol Hill (quick fact: nearly 23,000 staffers work in Congress, average age is 27!). I became frustrated that my Christian friends weren’t being trained properly and my non-Christian friends weren’t finding Christ through this method.
Larry would have told me to listen to the two questions I asked at the beginning that were gnawing at me back then. Had I known what I know now thanks to this helpful manual on ministry innovation, I may have birthed some lasting ideas that would have brought lasting change to this community.
Again, what is frustrating you in your current ministry context? What do you see that isn’t working? Answering these two questions will make your ministry ripe for innovation. According to Larry here’s why:
Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret: Failure Is The Norm. Larry Osborne Says Do These 2 Things To Succeed
You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Innovate or die. But what most organization consultants don’t tell you is what Larry Osborne does in his new manual for ministry innovation.
The dirty little secret about innovation is simply this: Most innovations fail.
“It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about a new product, a new program, or a new process. it can be a new company or even a new church. When it comes time to start something new or make a major change, the surest horse you can bet on is the one called Failure.” (17)
Well that’s comforting! And sobering, especially if you’re in the middle of a campaign to help right a ship that’s drifted off course.
This is where Larry’s new books comes in, Innovation’s Dirty Little Secret. He says that he has long felt that the Innovation Emperor is naked, that the hype and promises are overblown. Perhaps you’ve felt the same way. Larry is here to tell you “that you’re not the crazy one. When it comes to innovation and leading change, it’s the conventional wisdom [about innovation] that’s crazy.” (26)
If you want to avoid failure, or at least minimize the chance its ugly head will pop up, then Larry suggests you do these 2 crucial things in order to better navigate the predictable risks and dangers of implementing new ideas and major organizational change.