Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

We have much to be thankful for. One of those things to be thankful for is those who serve our country – living and dead. May God bless them and their families today.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Services

I hope you enjoyed your Sunday services today. If you didn't make it to any or don't have a local church, be sure to get in one. Until then, here's our church podcast and here's the link to some friends up in Bellevue, WA: Eastgate Bible Fellowship.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Andy Stanley (General Session 4/23 – Closing Session)

Andy Stanley ended the conference with a helpful leadership challenge. It starts with a clear maxim: “My fully developed strengths will always be of greater value than your marginally improved weaknesses.”

It corrects the myth that good leaders are good at everything and we need to focus on our weaknesses and ‘wing’ our strengths. This is natural and necessary when we start out, but it will limit our leadership in the long run if we stay in that mode.

Stanley likes numbers. Here are the two best kept secrets in leadership.
1. The less you do, the more you accomplish.
2. The less you do, the more you enable others to accomplish.

Each year you need to think through what you need to quit doing. “Only do what you can do” – it’s unrealistic, but always keep it as a target.

Three things happen when you drift from your core competencies. (These are easy to recognize in others, not self.)
1. Their effectiveness diminishes.
2. The effectiveness of other leaders are diminished.
3. The ability of the organization to keep good leaders diminishes.

Why Leaders Miss This Principle
1. They buy into the myth of being well-rounded. (You don’t need to be well-rounded … your organization does.)
2. Leaders forget to distribute between authority and their core competencies. (Everyone has authority outside of their competencies. Make as few decisions as possible. Let others choose.)
3. Some leaders can’t distinguish between their competencies and non-competencies. (Know what you don’t know.)
4. Some leaders feel guilty delegating their weaknesses. (Don’t. It’s someone else’s joy and strength).
5. Some leaders won’t take time to train other leaders. (Let people make mistakes. Do you want to be right, or do you want to make more leaders?)

Acts 6 illustrates this issue. “It would not be right for us to … serve food.” Not right = it would be WRONG!

What’s the outcome of all this?
1. It’s easier to establish a sustainable pace. (You won’t wear out from doing things you hate.)
2. Corporately, you’ll end up with a congregation that reflects your strengths, but not your weaknesses.

How do you get started on this? Ask some ‘Discovery Questions’:
1. What’s effortless for you, but draining for others?
2. In what areas are you the ‘go-to’ person?
3. What energizes you?
4. What do you wish you could stop doing?
5. What organizational environments are you drawn to?
6. Which do you avoid?

‘Discovery Project’: Write your ideal job description. This isn’t anything you might be able to act on immediately, but make it the target, the ideal.

We can do many things, what MUST we do?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Erwin McManus (General Session 4/23)

Erwin McManus is an excellent communicator, which makes it all the more tragic that my sound bytes of notes won’t demonstrate the cohesiveness of his message, but here goes. He does one session walking through Solomon and Ecclesiastes (he’s currently teaching on it – check the Mosaic podcast. Series titled “Reality Check”). He starts with the statement that “wisdom and knowledge are not “enough.” He’s referring to the fact that Solomon, writing Ecclesiastes later in life, thinks everything is meaningless.

The ministry application is that ministry can suck the meaning out of our lives. We get so pragmatic that we lose our souls. And it has had effects on our people. We teach them (by deed, if not by word) that their lives don’t have meaning outside of ministry.

This is where McManus gets provocative. He says Solomon is wrong when he says there’s “nothing new under the sun.” God says so in Isaiah 43.19 (I think this is what he referenced. I didn't have time to write it down). God is doing new things all the time. God gave us imagination and creativity, but we’ve abdicated creating the future to people who don’t know the Living God. We need to focus on living lives of meaning as leaders and help people find meaning in their own lives.

This is a good challenge. I can go on auto-pilot with my life too often instead of seeking to live with significance and meaning. What about you?

Random notes: We keep confusing fame and greatness. If we focus on fame, we’ll never hit greatness. (To link it to the body of the message, I suppose it indicates that there’s a difference between all this meaning talk and fame. We can live meaningfully without being famous.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hump Day History: John Chrysostom on Pastoral Ministry

I found a challenging couple paragraphs for those of us engaged in pastoral ministry in Hall’s Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers – specifically the section on John Chrysostom. All that is below is from Hall’s book; the block quote is actually Chrysostom himself.

“In John’s well-known and well-loved work, On the Priesthood, he compares the Christian pastor to a physician, one who has ‘discovered a multiplicity of drugs and various designs of instruments and appropriate forms of diet for the sick.’ John notes, however, that occasionally a healthy climate or deep sleep makes intervention by a physician unnecessary. Not so with physicians of the word. The preacher must carefully diagnose the ills and needs of his congregation, faithfully applying the only efficacious remedy, ‘teaching by word of mouth.’

That is the best instrument, the best diet, and the best climate. It takes the place of medicine and cautery and surgery. When we need to cauterize or cut, we must use this. Without it all else is useless. By it we rouse the soul’s lethargy or reduce its inflammation, we remove excrescences and supply defects, and, in short, do everything which contributes to its health. … We must take great care, therefore, that against a single kind of attack. … Unless the man who means to win understands every aspect of the art, the devil knows how to introduce his agents at a single neglected spot and so to plunder the flock. But he is baffled when he sees that the shepherd has mastered his whole repertoire and thoroughly understands his tricks” (p. 95).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Kay Warren & Wess Stafford (General Session 4/23)

These were actually two separate sessions, but their content overlapped and I think I was exhausted at this point. They were both pretty intense, which may have added to my fatigue. Most know who Kay Warren is, but Wess Stafford is President of Compassion International. Both are focusing on children. Wess more generally, Kay is intentionally challenging us to deal with orphans in our country and globally.

Starting with Kay Warren … there are 143 million orphans worldwide and God loves and protects them.

Proverbs 23:10-11 Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you.
God watches out for orphans and they are a litmus test of our faith (James 1.27). We all have personal responsibility when it comes to orphans. It may not be adopting, but we are responsible for caring for them in some way.

A powerful reminder when it comes to adoption is that we have been adopted by God and when we take care of orphans (adopt!), we are doing what our Heavenly Father has done for us. He has adopted us and shared all of His good things with us. We’re to do the same.

The Challenge: Ask yourself, “God, do you want us to adopt?” He won’t say ‘Yes’ to everyone, but He will to more people than you’d think.

Wess Stafford was next and he did a great job of showing Jesus’ care for children and His anger when people kept children from coming to Him (Mark 10.13-14; cf. Matthew 19.13-15; Luke 18.15-17).

I wish I remembered more of his talk. It was passionate and it ended with the challenge to not cause a child to stumble … and don’t let it happen at the hands of others, either.

It was an emotional, passionate hour plus with these two speakers back-to-back and I wish I’d taken better notes, but it was a challenging session nonetheless.

Incidentally, I have a friend who is caring for orphans in India. Check out Jane’s House if you’re looking for a way to care for orphans overseas in need.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mission(al) Monday: Living Incarnationally

I was privileged to spend some time with some of our missionaries and hear them share about living incarnationally in ministry. Ministry is relational if it’s going to be lasting. They talked about, even prior to their call overseas, they were living in an ethnic community and gained a hearing with the people and built relationships with people that were meaningful and transformative only after they moved in and actually shared life with people. Ate strange food, watched people’s kids, and the like.

It seems we’ve been going around in circles as we’ve attempted to minister to folks who are long term residents in the local motels. From our missionaries’ perspective, we’ve probably hit the wall in terms of what we can do until someone moves in there to live incarnationally among them. That’s kind of frustrating; there’s no way our family of 5 can do it, but it is also refreshing. The fact that we’re beating our head against the wall should be expected. We’ve reached the end of what we’re able to do effectively. We’ll keep doing it to keep the contacts alive until someone can get there – and we genuinely love some of the people there – but there’s not much more we can do with ‘drop in’ ministry.

As challenging and encouraging as this was for our ministry to the motels, it was challenging to how we live all the time. We don’t live incarnationally. Well, maybe we do, but it isn’t intentional. We live in a detached way like so many others rather than immersing ourselves in the culture and investing in those around us in a way that they feel loved. A challenging word for our family that I’m not quite sure what to do with it yet.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Services

Be sure to plug into a local church and listen to God speak to you through your pastor and your local community as you get involved. If you're not plugged in yet, check us out at Cypress Church. Or listen to my friends at Eastgate Bible Fellowship up in Bellevue, WA.

I feature our church each month, but rotate another church in each month. Let me know if you have any ideas for some other churches to feature.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Donald Miller (General Session 4/23)

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and, most recently, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, talked about good stories and how to live one. He says people become the character they play in the narrative they believe. It can bring out the best in us … or cause us to settle for some pretty lame stories (read that as lives). Miller says the stories adjust the moral compass in our brains and we live according to them. When we live good stories, we make a good life.

Miller talks about story often – as an author naturally would – but he doesn’t stick with unhinged stories. He wants people to find their place in God’s grand narrative. He says doctrine is important because it is the true story in which we live.

He challenged us to write a bunch of ‘what if’ questions on the board. “What if …” we built a house for someone who needs it in a hurting nation? “What if …” we did this or that? When we ask some “What ifs …” we can write a great story.

One final note, conflict is a key element in a meaningful story. We’re taught to avoid it, but if a story is to be meaningful, we need to have conflict.

The challenges to think about our stories are always compelling to me. I need to scribble out a few ‘What ifs …’ with my family. What about you?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Louie Giglio (General Session 4/22)

The first day ended with a great evening of worship led by Christ Tomlin and speaking by Louie Giglio. Giglio is known for some pretty amazing sermons online and his leadership with the Passion conferences. But he’s also just jumped into pastoral ministry, planting his first church. His message was a great basic reminder to all of us.

When he’s asked what kind of church he wants to be, he says, “An Acts 2 Church.” That’s great. But then he asked the question, “What did the Acts 2 church want to be?” They didn’t have an example. They had the Holy Spirit, the resurrection, and Jesus’ teaching.

Guess what?

We have those, too.

And if we want a movement like the early church, we need to be confident and lead confidently in God’s Word, trusting in the Holy Spirit and the Risen Christ.

That’s it. This ain’t rocket science. It’s unfortunate that I need reminders like this one, but I’m grateful to receive it. I need it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hump Day History: St. Augustine’s City of God

I’m a pastor. Sometimes I think I’m paid to talk. I’m paid to preach, give advice, be a ‘spiritual director.’ But I’m rebuked by St. Augustine’s description of a powerful moment in his ministry. He’s talking about different healings happening during his time as a church leader. On one such occasion, everyone was going crazy praising God going into the service. And this is how the service progressed after this time of healing…

Silence being at last obtained, the customary lessons of the divine Scriptures were read. And when I came to my sermon, I made a few remarks suitable to the occasion and the happy and joyful feeling, not desiring them to listen to me, but rather to consider the eloquence of God in this divine work (p. 830-831).
A great reminder that we are to always point to God’s eloquence in His divine work. Sometimes that means speaking. Sometimes it means keeping silent and just pointing the way.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Reggie Joiner (General Session 4/22)

Reggie Joiner talked about “One Thing” that would make a difference, THE difference, in every church. After saying all the things it wasn’t, he told the story of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15.?-?). The “One Thing”? Just treat a returning prodigal like a loving father treats his own son. He asked a frightening question: “What if the older brother had come out first?” How different would this story have been?

Loving Fathers are preoccupied with the missing. (Older brothers are preoccupied with themselves). Example: Don’t build church buildings for the people who are in it, but for those outside of it.

Loving Fathers operate from a context of forgiveness. (Older brothers operate from a context of shame). The goal is to create a place where the first place people run when they are in need is the church.

Loving Fathers throw parties. (Older brothers throw fits). We need to put joy and forgiveness in our homes and in our churches and there will be a huge difference.

Conclusion: Treat every prodigal like they’re your own son. And (speaking to church leaders), we have an opportunity to train a generation to love prodigals … or not.

Bonus: Joiner has a book out (Parenting Beyond Your Capacity) and he mentioned the idea earlier in the message that it is really difficult to raise children on your own. We need to invite other adults into our kids’ lives with our same values to reinforce what we tell them, but it will be from an objective resource. I thought that was brilliant. And I guess it needs to be people of different ages, too.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mission(al) Monday: Missional Renaissance, Shift from Church-Based to Kingdom-Based Leadership – Changing the Scorecard, Part 2

Check out the post from May 10 for the first half of this scorecard shift. We’re going to hit the last two elements now, as we wrap up Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal.

Resource Management
These resources are pretty generalized because they are so broad. It is up to each of us to make it specific for ourselves. The key in these areas is making sure these resources are missionally-oriented.

· Prayer. What do you pray for? When? How? Who’s praying for you? You need a prayer team and it might be smart to have different people take care of different aspects of your life. McNeal has people who pray for his preaching, his leadership, and his personal life. Each person only gets one section.
· Relationships. Missional lifestyle starts at home. Your family needs to model it. You’ll have relationships where you’re investing in the development of other people – Jesus followers and otherwise.
· Time. Audit your own time and then think about how to use it more missionally. Difficult choices will have to be made, including taking your Sabbath to grow in your personal development.
· Money. This is personal and organizationally. Do your finances reflect missional generosity that blesses others? This needs to include your family as well – those closest to you can thwart what you’re trying to do if they’re not ‘on board.’
· Technology. Figure out how to use it missionally and don’t let it own you. If you’re into gadgetry, you may need a technology fast.
· Personal Property. Your home, office, car(s), vacation properties, etc… are all things that need to be approached from a missional perspective. What is ours is no longer ours alone.

Personal Growth
McNeal: “Too many leaders lose their life in leadership. …The missional message is incarnational, meaning it is wrapped up in you” (p. 168). The author doesn’t think you can template personal growth, but here are some big ones.

· Self-Awareness. You need to know what pushes you (or prevents you) in the things you do – “your fears, tendencies, and so on.” What are your personality strengths and challenges? What is your cognitive style – do you reflect, process with others, make decisions with little or all of the information, big picture, want details, etc…? What is your conflict style? What is your emotional intelligence? What is your talent level, honestly? What are your passions? What are your hidden addictions and compulsions? (If hidden, you may need a coach to help you find them!)
· Family Development. People development starts at home. Blessing others starts with your spouse and your children – the same thing when it comes to helping them develop as people.
· Emotional and Spiritual Health. Practice the spiritual disciplines, including Sabbath – he’s mentioned this a few times. I think it is often neglected by leaders (I’m guilty at times). He also includes practicing forgiveness and reconciliation. Also pay attention to emotional health – anger, depression – and cultivate hobbies and build boundaries to maintain emotional health.
· Physical Health. Take this seriously. Eat right. Exercise. Sleep. Go to the doctor for your checkups, etc…
· Financial Health. Make a plan for your personal and family spending, a financial plan to prepare for your future, and figure out ways to enhance your income (this was discussed a couple weeks ago).

This needs to be a very personal scorecard, but I’m putting it on my list of ‘things to do’ because I need to really set some goals for who I am as a person – as a whole person, not just a church leader.

Missional Renaissance Conclusion
The world is changing and God is calling people to embrace the change and minister to His people in the midst of it. Over the last couple months we’ve seen the changes and now it’s time to catch the wave.

My notes through the last couple months don’t do this book justice. I encourage you to look into it if you’ve found these at all interesting. In all of these posts you’re getting the bullets, but missing the stories and much of the learned theory from McNeal. Grab the book. It’s a good read and less than 200 pages. It will be time well spent.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Services

As always (or almost always!), be sure to attend worship somewhere on Sundays and reflect on what God is teaching you through your local church. If you're not involved in a local church, here are a couple places to listen ... but look into a good Bible-preaching church near your home.

We're starting up a series on Acts at our place. Check us out here.

Here's a link to Eastgate Bible Fellowship - the church of some wonderful friends up in Bellevue, WA.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Mark Driscoll (General Session 4/22) already did the work of transcribing the points of Mark Driscoll’s message at Catalyst West. I’m going to put in just a few of the notes I sketched in my notebook.

By way of introduction, Driscoll mentioned one of the hardest things for him in ministry is to see other ministers not finish well. This message is a reminder that ministry isn’t what we do for God, but what God does in, for, and through us. Here we go…

11 Things God Does for Church Leaders
(Mark Driscoll via
Last week, Mark Driscoll was one of the featured speakers at Catalyst West. I did not get to hear his entire talk, but found these notes from The Resurgence to be really helpful. The topic: 11 things that God does for church leaders. See what you think:

1. Jesus is the Senior Pastor of the church. 1 Peter 5:4 – "And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory."

2. The Holy Spirit chooses leaders for the church. Acts 20:28 – "Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood."

3. God gifts leaders of the church. Ephesians 4:11–12 – "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."
Don’t work on your weaknesses; build a team to complement you.

4. God empowers leaders for the church. 1 Corinthians 15:10 – "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me."
Hard work doesn’t make you righteous – Jesus makes you righteous.

5. God encourages leaders in the church. 2 Corinthians 4:1 – "Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart."

Your hope is in God’s mercy, not your results in ministry.

6. The Holy Spirit speaks to leaders about the church. Acts 13:2–3 – "While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off."

7. God gives wisdom to leaders over the church. 2 Timothy 2:7 – "Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything."

8. Jesus joins leaders as they discipline in the church. Matthew 18:20 – "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."

9. God answers leaders' prayers for the church. James 5:14–15 – "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up."

10. The Holy Spirit falls on Bible preaching in the church. Acts 10:44 – "While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word."

11. The Holy Spirit says no to leaders of the church. Acts 16:6 – "And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia."

Sometimes God says ‘No’ because He loves you. It’s not God’s best for you. Love
God, don’t use Him. Worship Him for saying ‘No.’

Any of those jump out as particularly helpful for you? I don’t know if one stands out, in particular, but the entire package was something I knew, but needed to hear afresh in my life and ministry.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Charlene Li (General Session 4/22)

Charlene Li is a social media expert and author of Groundswell and the forthcoming Open Leadership. She says the social media trend isn’t a trend – it will be like air in the future – and it isn’t about technology. Rather, it’s about developing relationships you never would have been able to before. Since it’s inescapable, what do we do?

First, develop a strategy. Use it and get disciplined with it. How often do you write back to people on your blogs, on facebook, on Twitter. Start using it. It’s a valuable tool. You can use it and know the technology well, but if you’re not putting it to good use, you’re missing great opportunities.

Also, as you’re interacting with people, create “Sandbox Covenants” in your organization. Who can speak on your behalf and in what contexts.

Also, failure is inevitable as you’re figuring it out. Use failure as an opportunity to build trust in who you’re reaching. An example Li used was an innovation she wanted from Starbucks. She and several others posted it online, Starbucks tried it, and discovered it wouldn’t work. She was disappointed that it didn’t work, but her commitment to Starbucks grew as she understood that they listened to her and did their best.

How do you use social media? How have you seen it benefit your business/ministry? Have you had any failures that you’ve learned from?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hump Day History: St. Augustine’s City of God

OK. We’re back to St. Augustine, one of the “Great Doctors of the West” (see Hall), and one of his most famous works, The City of God. Regarding eternity (Book XXII), Augustine has a couple challenging quotes that struck me.

Neither are we to suppose that because sin shall have no power to delight them (those in heaven), free will must be withdrawn. It will, on the contrary, be all the more truly free, because set free from delight in sinning to take unfailing delight in not sinning. …Are we to say God Himself is not free because He cannot sin? (p. 865-866).

But their intellectual knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted not only with their past woes, but with eternal sufferings of the lost. For if they were not to know that they had been miserable, how could they, as the Psalmist says, for ever sing the mercies of God? (p. 877)

I’ve wondered about this issue of being able to sin in Heaven before. I like how Augustine mentions (not in the quote) that we will have more fully partaken of the divine nature and, if God is free and doesn’t sin, why can’t we be? That takes some of the tension away – because Adam sinned when he had it pretty good. Why wouldn’t we? We’ll be in a perfect place … but so was Adam. Augustine’s first quote helps, but there’s a reason I added the second.

When I wonder why the world has to be so bad, why evil is so prevalent, why sin is so pervasive and powerful in every human person, I wonder if that second quote gives us a good answer. Even if our eternal state is similar to Adam’s in some ways, his knowledge of the catastrophe of sin is nothing compared to ours. He knew nothing of it (until after it happened). We’ve been seeing it for generations. When we see what is unleashed when we set our wills against God, coupled with the flesh being set free as we are in glorified bodies, should keep us from such catastrophic choices as we enjoy God in eternity.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Eugene Cho (General Session 4/22)

Eugene Cho is a pastor from Seattle, WA who has a heart for those suffering extreme poverty. He and his family actually went without a salary for a year to understand poverty and to give their salary to help the poor. He has gone on to form an organization, One Day’s Wages. The idea is that one day’s wage (roughly 0.04% of your annual salary), it would be a small cost for you, but make a huge difference when it comes to extreme global poverty. A small church can make a huge difference. Generosity doesn’t start when you have a bunch of resources. It starts now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mission(al) Monday: Missional Renaissance, Shift from Church-Based to Kingdom-Based Leadership – Changing the Scorecard, Part 1

This is a challenge for those who are involved in church-based leadership, but McNeal helps with metrics in four different areas in his leadership training: paradigm issues (moving toward a missional mindset), microskill development (competencies the leader needs), resource management (what the leader has to work with), and personal growth (the leader as a person). Before we look at each, McNeal notes that it will take ‘ruthless self-management’ to ‘live the change they seek’ in the church and in others. What does it look like?

Paradigm Issues
Moving to a missional worldview is seeing your life as a mission trip. Following Jesus is not something you add onto your life, it is your life. McNeal suggests the following to help track the shift.
· Numbers of relationships with people who aren’t Jesus followers or church people, including those who are community leaders.
· Intentional study of things that help you understand your culture – periodicals, books, blogs, websites, and podcasts – and debriefing the culture with your leaders.
· Number of venues for intentional service in the community and number of hours serving.
· Number of life-coaching relationships and a regular commitment to debriefing your personal life with a coach or personal growth group.
· Number of stories of external, missional experiences used in your speaking and writing.

Microskill Development
There are plenty of resources available – books, seminars, and professionals – to grow in the areas to follow.
· Coaching. This means helping people with their further development.
· Storytelling. People under 30 make meaning through story. It is key to helping the missional change. It helps persuade and show people, concretely, how the gospel makes a difference.
· Conflict Management. Change means conflict. There’s also a self-awareness of what’s happening psychologically in yourself if you deal with negative emotions in conflict.
· Transition Leadership. Change doesn’t kill people. The emotions of change bury them. Helping people through it is vital.
· Listening Skills. This is mostly done through focus and intentionality, but there are also resources available to help with this (one of the books on our Friday Book Club queue is Quick-to-listen Leaders).
· Celebrating Others and Self. Celebrate missional progress and achievements because ‘what gets rewarded gets done.’
· Missionary Training. We need to help people understand the language of their own culture – and it should probably begin with generational studies.
· Praying. More time praying, but just as important, prayer must be dialogical, listening to what God is doing and where He wants to lead us.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother’s Day!

It’s Saturday, May 8 as I’m typing this. I just got done giving my son a bath after disciplining him for a few rounds of defiance. I’ve been alone with my three kids for about 27 hours and everyone’s ready for relief. When I have the kids alone for any significant chunk of time I spend money without conscience. I need diversions. Dinner out. Starbucks. Whatever. Throughoug the day I’ve taken any chunk of time I can get to catch brief naps here and there – whether it’s while the kids are napping or shortening their attention spans at the expense of Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakel.

What does this have to do with Mother’s Day? Everything. My wife lives this and handles it with grace and wisdom – and doesn’t need the budget I expend. She’s amazing. Happy Mother’s Day!

And my mom did all of this before videos were commonplace and we lived so far away from anyone or anything to occupy me that I’m not sure how I kept from driving her insane.

Moms are amazing. Be sure you tell your mom how much she means to you today … whether she’s near or far. Thanks, Mom! You’re wonderful. Happy Mother’s Day.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Andy Stanley (Opening General Session 4/22)

Andy Stanley officially opened the conference subtitled, “Unusual Tomorrow.” It was a pretty simple message that’s good for us anytime, not just at the beginning of a conference. We need to lead to create a better tomorrow and God has given us vision, but life beats our vision down. Stanley said, “Your vision will never be larger than what you believe is possible.” The challenges of life beat our belief down.

“Don’t let the realities of today crush your dreams for tomorrow.” The spread of Christianity is undeniable and unexplainable (from the beginning). And how did it happen? The church.

To conclude: “More is possible than you could ever imagine.”

The fact that this was at the beginning of the conference means I lost the power of the message in the barrage of lessons given. I needed to hear this again. I need clarification on my dreams and maybe some tinkering, but lately I’ve been discouraged, ready to dismiss them or let them fade away. It seems changes are afoot, but it shouldn’t be based on a lack of hope and faith, but because vision is being clarified.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Catalyst Recap: John Ortberg & Dallas Willard (Closing Lab – Ortberg only/General Session with both 4/22)

John Ortberg has just recently released his newest book, The Me I Want to Be and it is about the shaping of our souls, which he says is the most important thing ever – and pastors are entrusted with it. Only God knows what our true potential is and he’s more concerned that we meet it than we are. And the reality is, we’re being spiritually formed whether you’re doing anything or not. How are we formed? Grace.

Grace isn’t just for salvation, it is how we live. Ortberg quoted Dallas Willard (and Willard repeated it in their interview): “Saints run on grace more than sinners ever will.” Ortberg’s point at the closing lab session was that the River of God (Jn. 7.38-39) is always running and we just need to step into it.

This seems to be through spiritual disciplines, but Ortberg says that disciples are hand-crafted, not mass-produced. He suggests Monvee as a way to get your individual diagnosis of what you need. When you flourish, you become more the ‘You’ you’re intended to be.

The next day, Dallas Willard was interviewed by Ortberg before he was given the Catalyst West Coast lifetime achievement award. Some highlights…

Q: What ahs the church not been getting right?
A: Problem is the message. Jesus invites us through faith to live in the Kingdom now.

Q: What is Jesus’ gospel?
A: How to get into heaven before you die. We have to learn to live with God in charge now because the Kingdom is in action now as God is gracious towards us.

Random note: “Grace is God acting in your life to accomplish what you can’t accomplish on your own.”

Q: Why do disciplines matter? How do they relate to grace?
· Grace doesn’t make us passive.
· Grace isn’t opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning.
· Do things within your power to enable you to do things you’re unable to do on your own now by direct effort. Disciplines are training vs. trying.
· Make space for God to act.

Q: How do I spiritually grow?
A: Do the next good thing you know to do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hump Day History: Gregory of Nazianzus

I read Gregory of Nazianzus’ biography last year. He was an interesting guy to whom we owe much. He fought against many and fierce opponents to clarify the doctrine of the Trinity. Christopher Hall’s Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers has a great, brief bio of Gregory before examining how he approaches Scripture and walking through his battle with the Arians over the divinity of Christ. It’s a great summary and, like Augustine, I’m not going to unpack everything. Instead, I encourage you to give Hall’s book a read and I’ll comment on a brief quote that challenged me. A few insights from Hall as an interpreter of Gregory of Nazianzus’ life…

“Gregory contended his devotionally deficient stance before God hampered their ability to interpret the Bible well. A diseased spiritual life crippled their ability to comprehend and explicate divine truth. …who one is, the state of one’s spiritual health and devotional well-being, distinctly influences one’s ability to interpret Scripture correctly and communicate its truth faithfully” (p. 68).
“Gregory’s words remain a sharp and timely rebuke to the continuing temptation to practice theology as though we could separate the exercise of our mind from the development of our character” (p. 72).
This is a good challenge for pastors and theologians. We aren’t dispensers of theological truth. We’re people who are supposed to be communicating the gospel through a life changed by the gospel. Perhaps if we did that more faithfully we might have a deeper impact on the lives of our congregations/students and, in turn, deeper impact on the community outside of our churches and schools.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Catalyst Recap: Scott Belsky (Lab 3, April 21/General Session, April 23)

Scott Belsky’s lab session was a torrent of information. I’ll give you some of the highlights from my view. By way of background, Belsky founded Behance, which helps creative people get things done. That was his focus (and he just wrote a book: Making Ideas Happen).

A major issue creative people face is actually following through on their ideas. They get bored and jump to another idea. While this will challenge creatives, his charge is to do less, but see your few things through to completion. Each year one of the top three businesses for their management and supply structure is Apple. They’re known for their creativity, but that’s because they make their ideas happen. Several half-developed ideas (from my notes, not Belsky’s brain) are to follow. Let me know if you have any questions on them, but I hope there will be something that grabs you as useful for making more of your ideas happen. These are the ones that caught my eye.

His key equation was: Creativity/Ideas + Organization/Execution + Communal Forces + Leadership Capability = Making Ideas Happen.

Ideas. You’ve got this down.

· Don’t let today trump tomorrow. A key idea that I’ve already put into practice is ‘windows of non-stimulation.’ For the first chunk of your day, focus on long range project you’re passionate about before you get sucked into the vortex of your email Inbox. I’ve only been doing it a week and it’s already made a difference in my efficiency.
· Spend energy on staying organized.
· Organize with a bias towards action. When you’re in a meeting, new ideas are going to pop up. Don’t go after those ideas and lose focus. Put them on a “Backburner List” and get to them later. It might be a great idea worth chasing. And then create a process to either cull things from the list or turn them into action steps.
· Measure a meeting in action steps. If there’s no actionable point(s), it was a waste of time. (Not sure I totally agree with this, but the basic premise is important).

Communal Forces
· Partner with people different from you. Dreamers need “Doers” and “Incrementalists.”
· Share your ideas liberally so when people ask you about them, you’ll know it might be worth pursuing.
· Share ownership of ideas. It may not go exactly how you want, but it will be a better product. The benefit will outweigh the costs.
· When an idea is in process, decide your ‘sacred extreme’ and be willing to compromise on the rest.

Leadership Capability
· If you’re the leader, talk last. It lets your team engage and express their passion. And who knows what you’ll learn!
· Develop others through appreciations. You don’t have to highlight what they didn’t do well so much as praise what you liked. They’ll highlight that next time and the other issues will often fade.
· Judge (and hire) based on initiative (not experience). Find people that are eager to get things done and chase their dreams.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mission(al) Monday: Missional Renaissance, Shift from Church-Based to Kingdom-Based Leadership, Part 2

We started exploring the shift from church-based to kingdom-based leadership last Monday. Go check it out if you missed it and you’ll be up to speed for today’s continuation.

From Train and Deploy to Deploy and Debrief
Academic proficiency does not result in great leadership. McNeal isn’t against training; he thinks we need more theological training, but not the train & deploy model we’re working. Jesus deployed and then debriefed on their experiences. We’re seeing a shift toward this direction in many modular and online programs and it is trickling down to the M.Div. level as well. This opens the door for teachers and others to get a theological education without uprooting their families, etc… It should help develop genuine leaders, not just people with the right credentialing.

From Positional to Personal
The hierarchical authority days are fading. Leadership has been based on positional authority, but those days are numbered. It is personal influence that will soon carry the day. We need up-close and personal leadership. This leads to a huge challenge: “Are we living what we’re talking about? Are our own lives missional? Is there a spiritual attractiveness to us?”

Frequently Asked Questions
This discussion ‘frequently’ freaks church leaders out. Here are some of the questions McNeal deals with on a regular basis.

What is the role of the traditional church in the missional movement?
McNeal doesn’t think the traditional church should or will fold. Rather, McNeal is focusing on changing the focus of the church from “what” to “who” as the church goes into all areas of society. Here are some roles the traditional churches can take in the ‘missional renaissance’…
· Intake and deployment centers for missional followers of Jesus.
· Umbrella organizations for missional communities. This means building up the church, not necessarily this church.
· Use their gifts meeting some of the needs missional communities uncover.

How will you maintain doctrinal and biblical orthodoxy if you’re all off in your own communities doing your own thing?
There have always been theological shifts and we have the same Word of God and the same Spirit shepherding the church.

What is the role of clergy in the missional movement?
· Teaching: Good teaching and a theological perspective are still vitally important.
· Life coaching: This has been covered in previous posts.
· Missional strategies: Clergy are in a perfect position to be missional strategists.
· Training for missional community leaders: As missional leaders proliferate, they’re going to need someone to lead them. Clergy have some of the tools necessary for this training.

How do I earn a living doing what you’re talking about?
Bivocational may be a necessity for many. Get training now instead of later so you’ll be ready when the need for more than one job arises.

What about my call?
“Does your call revolve around a mission or a job?” Rarely has a question to a question been so clear. Unnerving for those of us who make a living in ministry, but the answer is clear.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Services

If you follow the blog, you're in rare company, but you also know I've had some issues with getting a new computer and working out some blogging glitches. Anyway, I'm back and want to encourage you to reflect on the Sunday message of your local church. If you don't have one, I have links to our church, Cypress Church, and another church that I feature alongside ours each month. This month I'm featuring Eastgate Bible Fellowship in Bellevue, WA. The pastor was my senior pastor when I came to Christ in high school. They're going through 1 Peter, it appears. We're finishing up Exodus this Sunday.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Quite a day, Friday.

I'll admit. I was only focused on the frustrating Mariners' game, but Jerry Brewer tracks an exciting day for Seattle sports last night: