Saturday, December 26, 2009
A great group of singers from the High Pointe Church of Christ met at the Colonial Lodge, a nursing home in McKinney, to sing Christmas carols and bring a little Christmas joy to the residents and workers. It was a good mix of young and older Christians, with whole families singing together.
For some time, High Pointe has had singers meeting together on Wednesday night to sing and learn new songs. But Phil Prosser, who leads this group, and these singers have started going out about every other Wednesday to sing at nursing homes. This is a great example of taking a group that could be just inward focused, and making it outward focused.
You see, every group, Bible class, and ministry ought to adopt some type of outreach or service. We are really going to encourage this adoption this year at High Pointe. Doing acts of outreach and service can foster Spiritual formation, as well as helping the church in its mission. All of us, as individuals and groups, need something or someone outside of ourselves to serve. Without this, we become stagnant and stale. With it, we build up memorable experiences and bond as a group.
I am so appreciative of these singers! I have been engaged in evangelistic Bible studies on Wednesday nights, and I was off of work this week. But Gina (my 8 year old daughter) and I were able to join the group on this night. It was good for all of us to remember how blessed we are, and for all of the kids to "learn" about blessing others through this singing.
It was great to carol together. And the nursing home residents were very appreciative. One of the older ladies gave me a kiss on my cheek and said, "I haven't kissed a man in years!" This was a night to remember!
"27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27).
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Daniel was baptized into Christ on Sunday, 12/13/09. It was such a great day! I spoke on "The Community of the Christ Child," and how Christ draws together all people (wise men and shepherds). We had a graduation for Dyanmic Marriage, and then Daniel was baptized.
Daniel and I have been studying together, going through the Story of Redemption. Originally, Daniel came into contact with the church through a girlfriend that worships at High Pointe. Then he asked to friend me on Facebook, and he sent me a Facebook message asking about studying together. He said that he wanted to become a better person.
It is important for ministers and churches to stay current with culture, communication, and technology. When we speak someone's "language," it shows that we care about them. Facebook and texting are the language of new generations.
I am so glad that Daniel has put Christ on in baptism. He has come from a long way off, with almost no church background. It is great to see his tranformation. He is very excited about his new walk with Christ. Please pray for Daniel as he starts his new life in Christ.
Daniel will be transferring to Texas Tech in January. We will get him hooked up with a church in Lubbock. And we will try to reach out to his family that lives here in McKinney. I will miss him. Tonight he and and another new convert sat next to me at our "Celebration of Blessings." And someone else I'm studying with, Will, came tonight and told me that he plans on being baptized on Dec. 27. God is at work!
Does your minister or church use Facebook to help connect with people?
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
When should new converts start to reach out? When are they "ready"? The story of the "Woman at the Well" might be instructive. In John 4, the woman at the well had an encounter with Christ, and she went back and told her whole village about Jesus.
What was the result? John says, "39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I ever did." 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers." (John 4:39-41)
So, so question is, what is needed to start a new church? What do the people need to know? Can new converts be the basis for a new church? What would else would they need? What biblical or historical evidence can you cite?
To make a contribution to Genesis Alliance, click here. Help us plant new latino churches!
Monday, December 07, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
10-29-09 Gina Nored 3rd Grade
When she read all of but the last sentence, talking about telling others about God, doing Bible studies and Bible classes, I was smiling. But when she said, "I would be just like my dad," I was blown away. I was not expecting these words, and they were powerful. I have to say that it was one of my proudest moments as a father.
It hit me how much our children look up to us. They imitate us--the good and the bad. I'm glad that Gina has had a heart instilled in her for God. If there is nothing else Becki and I can do, that will be a great thing.
Becki said that she read last week that at age 12, kids don't want to be around their parents (or at least they don't share it). She said that we only have 4 years left that Gina will want to be with us, to do things with us all the time. Wow. I need to cherish these years, and continue to try to be the best father I can be.
What are you teaching your children by your life, actions, time, and money?
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Here is a great picture I found on Flickr. Doesn't this smile warm your soul?
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Can you be praying for Alma and her family?
Monday, November 02, 2009
Does your church have a Spiritual gifts ministry?
Friday, October 16, 2009
I am largely a suburban kid. I went to high school in Edmond, OK, suburb of Oklahoma City. I ministered in Liberty, Missouri, suburb of Kansas City. And now I'm back in McKinney, suburb of North Dallas.
It is no coincidence that I have stayed in suburbia. I am comfortable there. It feels like home. I know the homes, the schools, the chain stores--Home Depot, Target, Chili's. And of course, there is always a mall close by.
Chain restaurants are like suburbia itself--safe, predictable, comforting, and rather unimagitative and boring. I remember Chuck Monan, my preaching buddy, taking me around to a lot of "holes in the wall" in OKC. It was some of the best food around. But I never would have gone to these places on my own. You see, that's what suburban folk do--they stick to the comfortable and the familiar.
So guess what suburban Christians are looking for? A safe, comfortable, predictable Christian experience. Are the playgrounds safe and fun for my kids? Do they sing the 20 most popular Christian songs that are on Christian radio? Are they going through Max Lucado's latest book? (We are going through Fearless right now.)
All of this is fine in one sense, but let to itself, it leads to spiritual malaise if not spiritual death. My friend and missional leader Alan Hirsch, author of The Shaping of Things to Come and The Forgotten Ways, says that there is something about middle class, suburban Christianity that is antithetical to following Jesus. A similiar point is made in the book, Death By Suburb. One of my favorite stories in this book is of parents working on their child's 6th grade science project while their son is off playing videos games. When the child get's his grade, the parents proudly say, "We got an A." The point it that the parents are finding their identity in their child's accomplishments, which is a type of narcissism.
Here are some of the problems with suburban Christianity:
- Materialistic Christianity -- This results not only in personal materialism, but it in picking a church because they have the shiniest building.
- Consumeristic Christianity - Members come to worship, assemblies, events, etc. to be fed, never to give. They go to the church that offers the most goods and services.
- Crossless Christianity - I know that a certain preacher in Houston in one of the biggest churches ever seen has inspired millions of people. I am grateful for this. But I have never heard a call to sacrifice from him. This message, of course, would be counter to suburbia, which never advertises, "Come live in the Woodlands. You will have to sacrifice for others and your kids may not be safe. But if you'll deny yourself, you'll love it here."
- Christless Christianity - There is a whole book on this subject which I am eager to read. But Christ just doesn't fit in suburbia very well. Can you see Jesus riding around in his SUV, dropping off kids at soccer practice or church? No, I'm afraid Jesus is far too radical and dangerous for today's suburban Christianity.
The evidence is in, however. Typical suburban Christianity does not produce disciples of Christ. It produces consumers who hop from church to church looking for the best deal for their tithe--or rather, their 2.5% giving. And if the children's or youth program or the preaching or the worship or the carpeting isn't cutting it, their try the store--I mean the church--down the street. Rarely does a family say, where can I be best used? Where does God need me the most?
Calls to go feed the homeless? Far too unpredictable. And messy. Calls to go on mission trips? Too dangerous. And disruptive to one's schedule. Calls to devote money and resources to reaching lost people? Hey, don't you know that I'm the customer? Meanwhile, members take this consumer mentality back to their marriages and their other personal relationships, and we wonder why Christians are divorcing and have few real friends, just like everyone else.
Becki and I are not immune to this malaise. We both would enjoy living in the hubub of the new urban living. We enjoy meeting people and having lots to do. It would be a great place to do ministry. The reason we have ruled it out right now? Our kids. It's not safe or predictable enough.
That is the problem with suburban Christianity. It prevents us from taking any chances or putting us into situations where we would have to grow and depend upon God and each other. And by our actions and inactions, we teach our children that this is what the Christian faith is all about. And our kids drop out in droves.
Have you experienced the spiritual death of suburban Christianity? What is the solution?
Saturday, October 03, 2009
"Ramadan is the Muslim holy month of fasting for spiritual renewal and purification. It commemorates the month during which Muslims believe Mohammed received the Quran through divine revelation, and it calls Muslims to self-control, sacrificial generosity and solidarity with the poor, diligent reading of the Quran, and intensified prayer.
This year, I, along with a few Christian friends (and perhaps others currently unknown to us will want to join in) will be joining Muslim friends in the fast which begins August 21. We are not doing so in order to become Muslims: we are deeply committed Christians. But as Christians, we want to come close to our Muslim neighbors and to share this important part of life with them. Just as Jesus, a devout Jew, overcame religious prejudice and learned from a Syrophonecian woman and was inspired by her faith two thousand years ago (Matthew 15:21 ff, Mark 7:24 ff), we seek to learn from our Muslim sisters and brothers today."
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
This woman has told me about a very kind older man named Pete deLackner who had helped her. She had talked with him about being baptized. And today, she called me to tell me that he was ready to do this. He was baptized into Christ at 2:00 PM today!
What a wonderful story of how others whom we have helped are reaching out to people. The gospel spreading from person to person--kind of sounds like the book of Acts, doesn't it? Praise God!
Isn't this a great story?
Saturday, September 12, 2009
There can be no doubt that Jesus was at the center of the early Christian movement. Nothing else could generated the fiery zeal, compassion, love, and martyrdom of the first followers of Jesus. Nothing else could have caused a movement to begin with. Passion for "doctrine," worship issues, leadership structure--these would not have caused anyone to even get out of bed.
The time from Constantine through the Reformation was not merely a long time of apostasy, as I was sometimes taught. Many great things happened during this time. Christ became known around the world. Hospitals were started because Christians wanted to care for the sick and wounded. Governments, under the influence of or led by Christians, began to provide for the poor. The Bible was translated into the native language of many peoples, with missionaries sometimes spending decades learning a language and loving a people so that they might write the Bible into their own words.
But somewhere along the way, Christ was at times lost as the focus of the faith. When the cross was put on the shields of Constantine's troops, Christianity became intermingled with politics, force, and power--hardly Jesus' approach to the world. The Medieval world so much focused on the church and its representatives that Christ was surely secondary to the machinations of power. The Reformation and Renassiance focused upon the individual and the glorification of humanity and the arts and sciences. Many great discoveries were made, paintings painted, and sculptures sculpted in the name of Jesus. But it is easy to imagine that these devotions merely drew upon the cultural material that was available in that day. The colonization in the 17th-20th centuries was as much about spreading Western way of life as it was about sharing Christ.
When the European soldiers of WW I saw the bloody mess where Christian nations all came together to kill one another, most did not ever return to their faith. Surely this was not what Jesus was all about. This, coupled with medieval history, is why to this day, institutional Christianity is absolutely dead in Europe.
WW II, Vietnam, Watergate, televangelists, AIDS, poor media coverage, the moral majority, and a million other things, all happening on Christianity's watch, have led to a general distrust of Christians and Christianity.
9/11, just remembered yesterday, also did something. While for a brief amount of time it caused some people to remember God and affirm that there is good and evil in the world (President Bush called those who attacked the US "evildoers," invoking biblical language), it's more lasting impact was to create the New Atheism. This new, resurgent atheism points to 9/11 as evidence that all religion is inherently violent, oppressive, and a threat to humanity.
Our young people are growing up now in this new postmodern world. A world that has shed many of the sins of modernism--pride, arrogance, racism, secularism--that now faces the challenges of skepticism, relevatism, and distrust towards virtually all organizations--especially, perhaps, religious organziations.
If we want to reach people today, Christ must be at the center of who we are. Our young people know if we are passionate about Jesus and his way of life--helping the poor, loving the broken, depending upon the father--or if we just give Jesus lip service. They know if we are really more interested in politics, money, or lesser doctrinal issues that are constantly fought over.
Jesus ought to be at the center of our faith. This has always been the case! Today, however, we have no choice if we want to retain our children in the faith or reach those on the outside.
Do you think Christ is at the center of most churches that you have been a part of and most Christians that you know? What is the evidence for or against this?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
God - Jesus is the almighty God who became human for us (John 20:28).
Immanuel - Immanuel means "God with us." In Jesus, God came to be with us as he became human, and he is still with us today (Mt. 1:23; 28:20)
Lord/Master - Jesus is Lord, master, the one to whom we owe our obedience--not Caesar or any other earthly power (John 1:1, 14).
Messiah/Christ - Messiah means anointed one. In biblical times, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed, showing their special role from God (John 4:25-26). Messiah is the Hebrew word for anointed one. Christ is the Greek word for anointed one.
Alpha and Omega - As the Alpha and the Omega, Jesus is eternal, a characteristic of God (Revelation 1:8; 22:13).
Savior - The word Jesus literally means "he who saves." As Savior, Jesus saves us from our sins (Mark 10:45, Titus 2:14).
Shepherd - As shepherd, Jesus knows his sheep--us--and lovingly and gently calls us, protects us, and binds us up when we are wounded (Jn. 10).
Light of the World - Jesus is the one who shows us how to live and who God is, bringing light to the world (John 8:12; 3:19-21).
Living Water - Jesus is the one through whom we are filled with the Spirit, welling up inside of us (John 4:10).
King of Kings and Lord of Lords - Jesus is ruler of the rulers, the greatest of all (Mt. 19:16)
Lamb of God - Jesus is the one who sacrifices himself for us, the humble lamb of God (Revelation 3:14).
Mediator - Jesus is the one who mediates between God and humanity--our "go-between" (1 Timothy 2:5).
Bread of Life - As the bread of life, Jesus is the one who feeds our souls and gives us salvation (John 6:35).
Way, Truth, and Life - Jesus is the only pathway to the Father, the only one who can really show us how to live (John 14:6)!
Which of these names stands out to you or do you find interesting?
Friday, September 04, 2009
(Thanks to Linda Hardin, our secretary, for sending this.)
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
The article (cited below) gives five elements that research from Howard Thorsheim and Bruce Roberts shows helps people feel a part of a community. The article writer applies this to creating a sense of community at family reunions. Here is what the article says were the five most important elements in creating a sense of community:
- Knowing names. "That was the most powerful predictor" of happiness and well-being within a community, Thorsheim said. And it's simple to promote at a reunion. "Name tags are important, with big, bold letters."
- A sense of belonging. Name tags can include additional information, such as the person's hometown, home state and parents' names, to help people make connections. Before the Solingers' family reunion, members were invited to contribute material for a family history; the book was a great conversation starter, Donna Solinger said.
- A sense of caring. Before the Solingers' reunion, every family member received a call seeking their input, Donna Solinger said. The reunion opened with a ceremony at which candles were lit to honor each family member who had died in the four years since the last reunion. "The candles and bonfire stayed lit all weekend," she said.
- Linking. A meaningful reunion requires "some way to make a connection with others," Howard Thorsheim said. Asking people to bring something to share, whether it's food, music or a story, helps facilitate that.
- Helping - both asking others to help and being asked to help. But when you're the one doing the asking, make sure it's a real job that contributes something to the event.
As we seek to reach people for Christ, let us remember these elements that go towards creating a sense of community. Potential converts need to know members of the church community by name, and they need to feel that they belong amongst the members. A sense of caring should go without saying. Linking, however, could easily be forgotten. Potential converts need to have opportunities to share with the community and to provide assistance, which helps bind them to the community. So we should send potential converts out on workdays and invite them to serve even before they are baptized.
The postmodern truism, "They must belong before they believe" is true for a reason.
How do you think that we can create a greater sense of community for people who whom we are seeking to share Christ with?
From: The tales that bind; Sharing stories is the glue that connects families and makes reunions more meaningful, says a book by two Minnesota psychologists.(VARIETY) by Palmer, Kim
Source: Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), 6/29/2001.
Via: HighBeam™ Research
COPYRIGHT 2009 Star Tribune Co.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
I'm at the FriendSpeak training seminar at the High Pointe Church of Christ. FriendSpeak is the domestic version of Let's Start Talking, a way of sharing one's faith by helping people people practice their Englush. This is done in one on one conversations with readings from the gospel of Luke.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Globalization has been received in various ways. Trade unions are against it, and anyone who has had his or her job outsourced probably is not a big fan. However, globalization has also helped lift millioins of people out of poverty in India, China, Africa, and other places around the world. It has also made most goods in the US and other Western countries much cheaper.
Whether one is a fan or not, however, globalization is here, and it is an unstoppable force. If companies do not globalize, not only do they miss out on market share, but they also will fail to be competitive and may go out of business.
One might think that globalization would have a positive affect on the spread of Christianity, as Western thoughts and Western technologies flow into non-Western countries and people groups. And it has had a positive effect--but not for the reasons that we might think.
Western culture is moving away from Christianity at a rapid pace. Europe has done so for some time, and the US--while founded with spiritual dimensions and retaining a spiritual vitality--has moved in this direction as well. Filling the void of Christianity has been secularism, consumerism (pursuit of material things), and hedonism (pursuit of decadent pleasure).
According to Raschke, the reaction of the "Global South" to globalization and the exporting of Western values has been a strong move towards religion, as these forces have been seen as a threat to their values and way of life. The two religions that these countries are turning to are radical Islam and devoted Christianity. While these religions are obviously very different in terms of theology, they share a common vitality and all-encompassing worldview that inspires their adherents.
This helps explain the phenomenal growth of the gospel in continents like Africa. In 1910, after colonialism with its enforced, non-indigenous expression of Christianity, there were only 108 million Christians. By the mid-1980s, however, Christianity had grown to be the majority religion in Africa, growing at the rate of 6 million new adherents per year. (p. 43) Radical Islam has grown significantly during this time as well, resulting in events like 9/11.
One of Raschke's most interesting--and scary--points is that anemic, consumeristic Christianity as is so typical in the West does not have the power to compete with the fire and passion of radical Islam. It is seen as the product of a corrupt, consumeristic West. Only the "real deal"--a passionate, Christ-centered Christianity offers a real alternative to the appeal of Islam. As globalization brings eastern religions and Islam backflowing to the US, they may have great appeal to Americans. Indeed, Wicca and Islam are currently the two fastest growing religions in the US. Churches that offer weak, add-on Christianity to a consumer lifestyle will suffer attrition to churches--and other faiths--that offer a more devoted, comprehensive worldview.
GloboChristianity is a fascinating read for anyone interested in globalization, Islam, and the spread of world-wide Christianity. i recommend it.
What do you think of Raschke's conclusions?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
- Mormon Anti-Gay Machine Cranking Up Against IL Civil Unions
- Why Do American Christians Approve of Torture?
- New Proposed Arkansas Law: Take Your Gun to Church
- Soldiers in Afganistan Gives Bibles, Told to "Hunt People for Jesus"
- Disgraced Pastor Ted Haggard Facing New Sex Allegations
- Pastor Had Sex With Daughters to Teach Them How To Be Good Wives
- Two Catholic Priests Stole $8 Million From Church
- Hate on Display: The Westboro Baptist Church Protests the White House
- UK Flooding is God's Judgment on Society
- My Christian Daughter Says I'm Going to Hell
- 16 Victims of the Church of Scientology
- Catholic Church Excommunicated 9 Year Old Rape Victim
- Mormon New Zealand Man Beat Daughter Over Church Refusal
- Thousands Raped and Abused in Catholic Schools in Ireland
Out of Touch/Ignorant
- Why the Catholic Church Can't Ignore Science
- Reason is the Greatest Enemy Faith Has
- Faith Healing Parents Charged in Infant's Death
Not Helpful Spiritually
- Spirituality, not Religion, Makes Kids Happy
- Church Signs That Won't Make You Go To Church
- The Eight Most Bizarre Patron Saints
- 7 Year Old Steals Car to Skip Church, Car Chase Video
With all of this negative publicity, it is easy to see why the world is not big on "church." The implications of this are huge.
First, we must not assume that someone wants to "go to church." Non-Christians are likely to fear that they will be judged, hated, abused, bored, or subjeted to politics at church. This means that impersonal appeals and church marketing will continue to decrease in effectiveness in getting people through the church building doors.
Second, we must create safe, non-threatening and appealing entry points into church life. One of the workers that I know at a Starbucks here in McKinney named Brittany attends a house church in Princeton. Small groups and worship gatherings in homes, coffee shops, book stores, parks, and other non-churchy type of settings are places where we need to invite people to visit.
Third, we must do things which give the church a good name. Jesus told his disciples to do good deeds before people so that they may praise the Father in heaven (Mt. 6:14-16). This means we must do things which impact people and the community and are recognized even by non-Christians as being good. This includes feeding people, clothing people, providing school supplies to needy children, helping the abused and lonely.
As an example, you can read this story of how a family praised God because of how the Clothes Closet Ministry and the High Pointe Church of Christ helped the family after they had lost everything in a fire. I also met one of the school representatives who was up at our building today, coordinating with us on school supplies that the church provides. She talked about how this church helps them so much.
Basically, to change the way the world things of us we must act and be more and more like Jesus Christ. Not focused on ourselves. Not spending on ourselves. Not judging, but loving. Serving. Helping. Would not this type of church impact the world and our communities?
What do you think that we can do to change the world's opinion of us?
Monday, August 17, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I'm sure that there are elements of both. But for my part, I see people who have never gone to political functions going to them. I don't condone rude behavior, such as shouting people down, but the people I have seen speaking on the news seem to be very genuine in their concern. I am interested in going to a tea part or town hall myself to get a feel for people's moods first hand.
Bussing in protesters, whether from political groups or unions, would not be a genuine movement. But providing information on where to go? This kind of "organization" does not mean that there is not a genuine movement going on.
So now let's turn to Christianity. Certainly, it began as a movement. There was no massive "institution" organizing them, no manufacturing of responses. The movement was a Jesus movement, a spreading of the message and way of life of Jesus and the kingdom of God. As people heard about this Jesus and responded to him, they passed this on by word of mouth and in the public square. Their primary public spokespeople were passionate believers, willing to die for their faith. As these Jesus followers engaged in mission together, they naturally bonded, coming together to encourage one another, break bread, and pray.
In other words, the church was the result of the movement, not the other way around. When we start with Jesus, we get a church. When we start with a church, we miss Jesus. The faith becomes all about structure, organization, following the rules, and top down management.
So what are we today--a movement or an institution? Certainly, the church has largely become institutional--inflexible, bureaucratic, and hierarchical. Consider the following:
- A movement flows wherever the message needs to go. An institution says that you must go through "government forms" and a lot of hoops to do anything.
- A movement is innovative. An institution is primarily concerned about preservation of established ways of doing things.
- A movement has natural leaders who surface as the message is being spread. An institution requires a person to run for office and have an official title, designated by the institution.
Not convinced? Try changing your assembly times each week in response to the needs of the message or community. In many churches, try doing something religious (hold a Bible study, outreach, or worship) without getting approval. Try ditching Wednesday night service for Saturday night neighborhood outreaches. What would be the response?
So you tell me--is the church a movement or an instituion?
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Here are the mistakes that churches make in trying to recruit leaders:
1. Recruiting through impersonal means.
The bulletin is a lousy place to recruit. True, it may occassionally catch someone's eye and interest. But most of the time, it doesn't. Same goes for sign-up sheets, unless it is done in the worship assembly, in conjunction with a message on the subject, with time given for people to respond. Even then, one study has shown that personal recruiting is 5 times more effective than impersonal methods.
Reliance on impersonal methods is even less effective in big churches. Why? Everyone assumes that someone else will do the work or task. And in a large group, there is less relational pull. No one will know if you are a spiritual bum and never lift a finger to help. In smaller churches, it is harder to hide.
While I will at times put out invitations to serve in the bulletin and pass around sign-up sheets, I know that this usually at best raises awareness of the ministry. Primarily, the church bulletin is a place to celebrate ministries. A great picture or a powerful testimony of a ministry at work can do more to recruit new people than any generic announcement. (But personal recruiting is still best.)
2. Failing to consider a person's Strengths and Spiritual gifts when recruiting.
The fact is that when a person is given an opportunity to serve in the way that God has made them, rarely do their arms have to be twisted. Churches are horribly guilty of finding people to fit ministries, rather than letting ministry flow out of a person's giftedness and heart's passion.
True, some ministries need better organization and publicity. But much of the time, churches need to let ministries die if there is no one to fill the post. We are in the people business--and so is God--not the program business. A program is a life of its own that continues regards of the people involved. We need to let more things die in churches so that people can be freed to pursue the ministry God has put upon their hearts. At High Pointe, most all of our new ministry leaders have come from people going through a personal strengths and Spiritual gifts assessment.
3. Failing to reach out and make new disciples.
I am finishing up reading Organic Leadership by Neil Cole, a very interesting book. He says the following:
"When churches reach new people, the changed lives infuse the whole congregation with energy . . . . If your ministry is struggling without leaders, do not reevalutate your leadership development program. It is time to reevalulte your disciplemaking system. If you are doing next to nothing to reach lost and broken people, your leadership development system will yield very few resutls." (p. 138-39).
I am very pleased when I go back to Liberty (my previous church where I ministered for six years) and I find new converts serving on the minister search team, serving on outreach teams, and serving as ministry leaders in finance, transportation ministry, and more.
Recently at High Pointe, one of our new converts from Celebrate Recovery said that he wanted to help transport our clothes for our Clothes Closet ministry. (Read his story). And he volunteered to do this even before being baptized! New converts provide passion, energy, and new leadership in all kinds of different ministries. (Of courses, we should not forget that the primary goal is to send them back on mission and not become part of an internal church ministry machine.)
So, if you want to find new leaders, recruit personally, help people discover their strengths and spiritual gifts, and make new disciples of Christ!
What thoughts do you have about recruiting and developing new leaders?
Saturday, August 01, 2009
This is a short video that graphically illustrates the contrast between going to church and being the church out in the community. It promotes the "Tangible Kingdom" the book by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. See www.tangiblekingdom.com.
The Tangible Kingdom came out in 2008, and it has quickly taken hold in missional and church planting circles. One of the reasons it is pretty powerful is because it tells the real life story of the authors, who church planted in Denver (and elsewhere). They tell their challenges and blessings of being in established churches, and then in church plants.
Some interesting points that they make include:
- Telling Christians who want to join their community that they are on mission, and that in order to be a part of this group, they will need to commit to certain missional practices such blessing others, hospitality, etc.
- Letting "Sojourners" (those who have not yet fully committed to Christ, but who are searching) participate in their community, including having leadership roles in certain parts of worship.
- That starting a church with Christian is not really easier than starting it with non-Christians, since most Christians bring with them a consumer attitude that says, "Feed me," rather than seeking to feed and serve others.
- That mission is an essential part of spiritual formation, and that spiritual formation is a process.
They also have four major missional practices:
- Leaving - Replacing personal or Christian activities with time spent building relationships with people in the surrounding culture.
- Listening - Listening is watching and sensitively responding to the unspoken and spoken needs of Sojourners in ways that demonstrate sincere interest.
- Living Among - Participating in the natural activites of the culture around you, with whimsical holiness. This would include eating and drinking whatever was put in front of you (including moderate consumption of alcohol), a la 1 Cor. 10:23-31 and Jesus' example (who was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton).
- Loving Without Strings - Pretty self-explanatory!
The Tangible Kingdom is an interesting, thought provoking book with real life application.
Have you read this book? What do you think of the video and above summary?
The car was totalled, as you would expect from these pictures. Unfortunately, it is unlikely we'll be able to get anything near what the car was worth. It was a 1996 Honda Accord in excellent condition, with relatively low miles, leather seats--and it was paid for. We will have to pay more to get anywhere close to this.
I was just thinking the other day how great it was to have two cars that were paid for. Looks like I need to eliminate these positive thoughts next time to avoid jinxing myself!
Any thoughts on where to get another similar type and condition of Honda? What tips do you have on getting a good settlement for the car with the insurance company?
Monday, July 27, 2009
The Bible story that we read was about Genesis 3, which looks at the "fall" of humanity. I could not get through this, however, without Gina, my eight year old, asking all kinds of questions about this story and creation.
She asked questions like, how did dinosaurs and people and the ice age all fit together? And, did the serpent really talk?
Even, Emily our five year old, wondered about the talking serpent. Gina reminded us all of Balaam and the talking donkey, and that it was possible. But she said maybe that was just a way of saying it . . .
I tried to explain that the creation account was not an exact chronology. While true, it was poetic in its explanation and did not give exact timelines. And lo and behold, Gina said, if a day to God is like a thousand years, maybe the days in Genesis are like that.
Wow. That girl is too sharp! She thinks like a theologian and a biblical scholar. Since this discussion was not over her head, as I thought it would be, I went on and pointed out that the creation "days" were not to be taken literally because the sun and the moon were not created until "day" four--and 24 hour days only exist from the rotation of the earth around the sun (Gina completed my sentence about the rotation of the earth around the sun being what made 24 hours). In a literal reading, the sun was not even created until "day" four, so no regular days prior to this were even possible.
Besides being amazed at how sharp my girls are, here is the thought that came to mind. If an eight year old can see the problems with an overly literal reading of Genesis, so can adults--particularly non-Christians.
So let's not try to convert people to a literal 7 days of creation, the age of the earth, or anything other than Christ. He is the one whom we ought to seek to convert people to!
What questions have your kids had about the creation account?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
This, then, is how you should pray:
”‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins" (Mk. 11:25).
Now, however, email is out of control. I don't know about you, but I often dread checking my email. Email is a bad way to send or receive bad news. Many use it to hide from conflicts, be passive aggressive, or avoid personal interactions. Then there are the sheer number of forwards that we both have inflicted on us and inflict on others. And, the whole world is spamming us!
So, when I want to enjoy a day, I may delay checking my email for a few hours. Like last night, when Becki and I went to the Coldplay concert. But then I begin to dread what may await.
Of course there are many positive uses of email. I get wonderful notes of encouragement and support through email, and these brighten my life and my day. But sometimes, you wonder if your life might be better without all of this impersonal contact. If we all lived in the mountains and read French poetry to one another at high altitudes. Or we all lived on the beach without a plug-in.
Sigh. We live in an electronic world. We need to use it for good. But sometimes, I wonder if all of this technology is really good for us. What do you think?
What thoughts do you have about email? Do you ever dread checking your email?
Friday, July 17, 2009
It has been awhile, so I thought that I would bring back one of my favorite humorous YouTube videos. Feeling overshadowed? Not sure if you need the help of angels? Watch this hilarious video!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
It seems that both the right and the left want to use the government to enforce different moral positions. The right wants the government to outlaw abortions and defend traditional marriage. The left wants the government to take care of the poor and offer healthcare to all. And of course, both sides want the government to enforce laws against murder, theft, and other universally recognized moral laws.
So, on what basis do we use the government and laws to enforce a particular moral position? If the government should outlaw abortions and defend traditional marriage, why not have the government take care of the poor and offer healthcare? Usually the answer that is given is that it does not work. Capitalism works. Socialism does not.
But this is a pragmatic argument, not a moral argument. Would we argue against laws that outlaw abortion based upon pragmatism? Even if these laws did not work all the time (say, women who who wanted an abortion went to Canada), they would undoubtedly work some of the time. The moral basis for these laws would be upheld, even if they were not 100% efficient.
And we at one time had laws against things such as adultery. Would we be for these laws now? How about laws against pride? Lying? Gossip? Where do we draw the line?
I do believe that some moral issues ought to be upheld by laws. But it seems that we do not have a consistent rational for why we use the law to uphold some moral issues and exclude others. I would be interested in someone providing a good rationale.
What moral issues do you want the government to enforce? Which do you not want them to involved in? Why?
Monday, July 06, 2009
However, recently a magazine called "Rev!: Revving Up Ministry Together" caught my attention. The articles were current, insightful, and covered many different areas of ministry, including missional outreach, leadership, and spiritual formation.
Here are some of the articles in the july/august issue:
- Leading On Empty
- Twitter THIS!
- Who's Your Leper?
- Your Sons and Daughters Will Prophesy
- The Browning of Our Churches
- Rethinking and Re-engaging Missions
- The Top Five Church Growth Principles
- Growing Fruitful Ministries
- A Framework for Tracking Spiritual Formation
I have a hard copy of the magazine; however, here is the website link. Let me know what you think!
Do you read Rev!? What ministry magazines/sites do you like?
- ▼ December (4)
- ► November (4)
- ► September (6)
- How globalization is affecting the spread of the g...
- What does the world think of us? Check out these h...
- Pictures and Video of Our Coldplay concert
- Is Christianity a movement or an institution--less...
- Why recruiting leaders in churches does not work
- The Tangible Kingdom
- PIctures of my wrecked car
- ► July (8)
- ► 2008 (220)
- ► 2007 (176)
Theology and Popular Culture Blogs/Websites
- Churches in coffee shops and homes a growing trend
- Harvard's New Emphasis on Applied Knowledge is Instructive to Churches
- Young Adults want a lifestyle and authenticity, not religion
- My neighbor asked me to bless his house yesterday
- Exiles-Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture
- Christianity is about a lifestyle, not one hour a week
- Emotion in Worship
- Death by Suburb
- The Don Imus Firing--Lack of Redemption or Justice?
- Books That I Have Read in the Last Year
Some Other Blogs & Sites I frequent
- James Nored
- I currently am a preaching minister, evangelist, and missional leader at the High Pointe Church of Christ in McKinney, TX. I am working towards a Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, studying missional church, evangelism, and postmodern culture. I give missional church and Spiritual gifts seminars for churches. I have written an evangelistic Bible study for postmoderns (Story of Redemption), New Members class material, and a work on Spiritual gifts. I am blessed with a wonderful wife (Becki) of 13 years and two beautiful daughters (Gina-age 7, Emily-4), the loves of my life.