Rob Wegner on “Darkness, Depression, and Creation” – Rob is one of the authors of our upcoming book, Missional Moves. He’s also on staff at Granger Community Church in Granger, IN. This blog post is an excerpt from his personal journal. I love posts like this, and here’s why: 1) It’s personal, not perfect. I always respect church leaders who minister that way. 2) It leans on the Word of God for direction. 3) It helps me see that though there is darkness in my life God can create something good out of it. I think it’s remarkable when ministry leaders share posts like this. All of us feel this way sometimes, but something about our leadership positions often hinder us from being so honest. Thanks, Rob, for a great post and for pointing us back to the Word.
Book review of “Gospel Coach” - In this review Tom Farr says, “Too many church leaders are overcome by the demands of their chosen profession, and GOSPEL COACH presents the idea that all church leaders need someone investing in their life and helping them to be the best Christ follower and leader they can be.” How true that is. We’ve all seen church leaders and their families suffer as a result of burn out, haven’t we? By God’s grace more “gospel coaches” in the church will keep ministry leaders focused on following Jesus in every part of their (too busy) lives.
“If you recognize the need for a Gospel Coach and you have the desire to be a Gospel Coach, then you need to read this book. The theology is sound and the wisdom is practical. Thomas and Wood have created a faithful and viable vision for leadership development that will impact future generations of pastors and churches for the glory of God. You need this book on your shelf!”
The Chicago Sun-Times reviews David Staal’s latest book – Any parent will tell you that each of their kids has a unique personality. This review in the Sun-Times highlights how David Staal teaches us to nuance the character lessons we give our children so that we are not just telling them ‘what not to do,’ but also ‘what to do’ instead. His book is called Lessons Kids Need to Learn. I’ve blogged about it before. It’s not just a book for parents, but rather for anyone who mentors a child:
Sunday School teachers, grandparents, mentors, school teachers, etc. etc. Here’s a video from the author:
In last week’s “Thursday Giveaway” we handed out two copies of Adventures in Churchland by Dan Kimball. In order for folks to be elligible to win one of the copies they had to leave a funny story that happened to them in “churchland” (read: in Christian subculture). The stories were so funny I was laughing out loud as I read them. I highly recommend reading the comments on this post. Even the author chimed in.
For those of you who are interested in the book but either didn’t win one of the giveaway copies or haven’t yet purchased a copy you can check out this sample chapter from Scribd.com:
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Larry Osborne’s advice for innovators and ministry leaders: Larry Osborne is one of the teaching pastors at North Coast Church in southern California. He’s also a well-known serial innovator. In this post he offers ministry leaders and innovators some unlikely advice: “Slow down. You move to fast!” It’s a great post for leaders who oversee ministries that contain lots of smaller ministries. [Shameless plug: Larry's new book, Accidental Pharisees, will be out in two months! Woohoo!]
Sticky Faith at Saddleback: Kurt Johnston leads the Student Ministries Team at Saddleback Church. In this blog he talks about why and how Saddleback is making intentional steps to break down the silos between their youth ministries and adult ministries. It’s a really intriguing post, especially considering that Kurt ministers in such a unique church. What he’s proposing would seem much easier for a smaller church to do, not a big one. What’s extra cool about the post is that he mentions how much he appreciates Sticky Faith and the work of Kara Powell and the others at F.Y.I.
A Better Conversation about Homosexuality: This article from Christianity Today talks about three different authors views on how the church should address the topic of homosexuality. It’s heady-er (is that a word?) than the average CT article, but it’s a good one. Our author, Wesley Hill, is one of the three discussed.
The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach: The Gospel Coalition recently posted a new review of this book. Douglas Sean O’Donnell from New Covenant Church in Naperville, IL is the reviewer. If you’ve not seen this book and you are a preacher you’ve got to go check it out. It’s a ‘have-handy-on-my-shelf’ type of resource created by some of today’s leading preachers.
Why Virginity is not the Gospel by Carolyn Custis James: Carolyn’s article in the Huffington Post discusses the difference between the gospel and the Virginity Movment that recent interviews with Olympian Lolo Jones have brought to light. Carolyn is a thoughtful writer and gifted theologian. The distinctions she highlights here between the gospel and the Virginity Movement are important ones.
“It is completely false that churches must sacrifice quality to get quantity, must artificially choose between evangelism or discipleship, or cannot have depth and growth at the same time. Few prove this fact better than the ministry of Andy Stanley who has grown North Point Church on purpose and with passion. No Christian leader can afford to miss this book.”
Rick Warren, Pastor, Saddleback Church
“The most common question I get from pastors is, ‘How do I get the people in my church to be open to change?’ From now on my answer will be, ‘Read Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley’. Thanks Andy. Great book!”
- Craig Groeschel, Pastor, LifeChurch.TV
With surprising candor and transparency pastor Andy Stanley explains how one of America’s largest churches began with a high-profile divorce and a church split.
Deep and Wide provides church leaders with an in-depth look into North Point Community Church and its strategy for creating churches unchurched people absolutely love to attend. Andy writes, “Our goal is to create weekend experiences so compelling and helpful that even the most skeptical individuals in our community would walk away with every intention of returning the following week…with a friend!”
Later he says, “I want people to fall in love with the Author of Scripture. And while we can’t make anyone fall in love, we can certainly arrange a date.”
For the first time, Andy explains his strategy for preaching and programming to “dual audiences”: mature believers and cynical unbelievers. He argues that preaching to dual audiences doesn’t require communicators to “dumb down” the content. According to Stanley, it’s all in the approach.
You’ll be introduced to North Point’s spiritual formation model: The Five Faith Catalysts. Leaders responsible for ministry programing and production will no doubt love Andy’s discussion of the three essential ingredients for creating irresistible environments. For pastors willing to tackle the challenge of transitioning a local congregation, Andy includes a section entitled: Becoming Deep and Wide.
If your team is more concerned with who you are reaching than who you are keeping, Deep and Wide will be more than a book you read; it will be a resource you come back to over and over!
“Couldn’t be prouder of my son, Andy. And I couldn’t be more excited about the content of this book. I wish a resource like this existed when I was starting out in ministry.”
- Dr. Charles Stanley, Founder, In Touch Ministries
“Deep and Wide pulls back the curtain for all of us to see what is required behind the scenes to build a prevailing church. I was both challenged and inspired by this book.”
- Bill Hybels, author of Just Walk Across the Room
“No one has given me more practical handles for establishing a focused vision than Andy Stanley. Deep and Wide is a rich resource to help all of us stay intentional about the main thing – building a church that reaches people who are far from God.”
- Steven Furtick, Lead Pastor, Elevation Church
HT: CNN Belief Blog
When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question “Why me?” was a natural one.
Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, “Why me?”
Suffering and death seem random, senseless.
The recent Aurora, Colorado, shootings — in which some people were spared and others lost — is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents – the list is long.
As a minister, I’ve spent countless hours with suffering people crying: “Why did God let this happen?” In general I hear four answers to this question. Each is wrong, or at least inadequate.
The first answer is “I guess this proves there is no God.” The problem with this thinking is that the problem of senseless suffering does not go away if you abandon belief in God.
Read the full article here.
Timothy Keller is a brilliant writer. A lot of people could say that for a lot of different reasons. But what makes me say it today is that I’m amazed at his ability to succinctly, clearly, and gently express his points without pulling any punches or skirting any theological issues.
If you haven’t read this article yet, be sure you take the time to. People in your church are asking “God, why me?” about their suffering. Or people in your small groups and Sunday school classes might be asking “Why do things like the Aurora shooting happen?” This article will help provide you with thoughtful, biblical answers.
Some of you have already signed up for the Spiritual Influence blog tour. (Reminder, the tour is scheduled for 8/20 -8/24. If you’ve not gotten your copy in the mail yet please wait patiently. It will be there soon! Other bloggers are starting to review the book as well. I wanted to highlight two today:
The High Calling Blog - I love this quote from the review because I think many, many readers will resonate with this feeling:
I had never thought of myself in these terms—had never considered serving as a form of leadership. But according to Mel Lawrenz in his book Spiritual Influence: The Hidden Power Behind Leadership, serving is a form of worship and one quality of an effective spiritual influencer.
Read the whole review here.
Choose the Cross Blog – Have you ever read a book on leadership and walked away amped by your own potential and talent? I’m not saying a little boost to your self-esteem is always a bad thing. But I think that sometimes certain leadership books can leave us feeling like WE have all the power to do whatever WE WANT.
This reviewer points out that Spritual Influence offers a
I found that reading the book was a spiritual experience in itself, an exercise in practising humility rather than the boost to selfish ambition that discussion of leadership success often provides. …the book is more about influencing by taking on failures, heartbreaks and frustrations than it is about achieving worldly success.
Now that’s refreshing! Read the whole review here.
Interview with Wesley Hill: A two-part interview with Wesley Hill was recently posted on the Hopeful Realism blog. Here is part 1 and part 2. Wesley Hill is the author of Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. This is an interview that I hope many, many church leaders read. It’s not about ministry tips, or practical strategies for ministering to same-sex couples or anything like that. It’s a thoughtful conversation about the complexities of being a Christian and having same-sex attractions. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, or how you’re used to addressing it in your church, I hope you’ll take time to read this. Wesley is a thoughtful writer and a committed Christian. I think ministry leaders would do well to consider his story and ponder its implications for their ministry.
On Sabbaticals, Mark Buchanan: Mark Buchanan (Your Church is Too Safe) is wrapping up a four-month sabbatical. His blog post is worth reading even if, like me, you’ve never taken a sabbatical. For those of you that have, you’ll perhaps enjoy his perspective on how time passes while on sabbatical.
Book Review: Dan Kimball’s newest book, Adventures in Churchland: Finding Jesus in the Mess of Organized Religion was just reviewed on the Englewood Review of Books. This is the perfect book to give to people who are on the fringe of going to church. If you know anyone that says, “Why do I need to go to a local church? What does that have to do with my faith?”…give them this book. It’s a humorous read and it will help them understand why Jesus loves the church.
Audio Book: Listen to chapter 1 of Dan Kimball’s book They Like Jesus But Not the Church. If you’ve never read Kimball then you’re in for a treat. Not only will he give you insight into how the younger generation views the church and the Lord, but he’ll also make you laugh! The entire chapter is available on YouTube.
Here’s a short video interview with Laurie Beshore, founding outreach pastor at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA and author of Love Without Walls.
After watching this video I took Laurie’s advice and read chapter 9 of Love Without Walls. This chapter is called, “Oops, We Did it Again.” In it Laurie talks about how their successful, twenty-five year old outreach ministry began to fail to make an impact, and what they eventually did to make changes and realign their vision.
She writes that they had “too many ministries” and that it was “diffusing [their] impact in the community.” She later says, “certain ministries were sliding away from the original vision.” In order to realign their vision and values they eventually had to eliminate “40 percent of [their] ministries and a third of [their] staff.” (132)
How hard that must’ve been. Have you or someone you know ever been through a “realignment” like that? It can be very difficult to handle for all parties involved.
But as Laurie says in the video above, she’s excited about the future. Why? Because of what God showed them.