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Kevin DeYoung on You Won’t Know Until It’s Too Late

Think - Desiring God Annual Conference

Kevin DeYoung has written a good post on preachers preaching passable sermons with no preparation:

Most pastors won’t tell you this, but they can preach a passable sermon with almost no preparation. We know how to string sentences together. We know more about the Bible than almost everyone in the church. We can cheat our prep time and no one will know. Not right away.

But over time, church members will think to themselves, “Something’s missing. There’ some power not here that used to be here. There’s some gospel connecting no longer at play. I can’t put my finger on it, but pastor doesn’t preach like he used to.” It happens slowly but surely. Maybe the emails seem more pressing this week, or maybe it’s a meeting, or this administrative thing. It’s not one massive thing, but a mountain of molehills. And then one day, Acts 6:4 is gone. The elders don’t pray. The pastors don’t study.

We must all fight for the ministry of the word and prayer. Elders and pastors must fight to keep it and congregations must fight to support it, to encourage it, to give time for it. Because most pastors and most parishoners don’t notice Acts 6:4 is missing until it’s too late.

You can read the rest here.

10 Signs of a Healthy Team

Teamwork - crossword - Healthy Teams

I loved this post over on The Resurgence blog adapted from Perry Noble’s blog on some great signs of a healthy team – something I want to come back to time and again:

1. You actually enjoy being around one another instead of trying to find ways to avoid each other.

2. Truth is spoken in love and not in a condescending or condemning way.

3. There is an atmosphere of freedom where differences of opinion can be shared without the immediate perception that the person who is disagreeing is somehow disloyal. (BTW, if you are in a meeting and you disagree mentally then you have an obligation to disagree verbally! If you do not feel that freedom then there is a problem!)

4. People are willing to walk into the room and ask for help rather than put off the perception that they have it all together.

5. No one is trying to prove themselves.

6. Everyone in the room values the opinions of everyone in the room.

7. There can be disagreements without the fear of relationships being destroyed.

8. The entire group is focused on attacking the problems in the room and not the people in the room!

9. People embrace responsibility rather than cast blame.

10. People work through tension honestly rather than saying nothing is wrong and then walking out of the meeting and tearing apart those with whom they disagreed.

Books I have read: I am a follower

I am a follower

Too often in the culture of church we focus on leadership and growth models – we have seminars, books, models, techniques, tools, study guides, celebrities and more.  I Am A Follower by Leonard Sweet challenges the church that their priority is on following Jesus.

“I Am A Follower” is a new kind of book about leadership paradigms.  Its goal is not to establish the five most prominent attributes of a leader nor is it a tutorial on how to become a great leader.  Rather, its premise is based on the idea that the best “leaders” point to the true Leader and that we need to recommit ourselves to loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength so that Jesus can live his resurrection way, truth, and life in and through us.

The book is divided into four parts. In the first section, the author states his case for rejecting leadership development and instead focusing on pursuing true discipleship.  The book invites us on a journey as author Leonard Sweet wrestles with John 14:6: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  What does it mean for us that Jesus did not simply show us the way or what truth is or how to live life, but that He Himself is the very Way, the very Truth, and the very Life?  As Sweet says:

Following Jesus’ lead, this book is organized into three parts to reflect Jesus’ three-part story: the way, the truth, and the life. When we focus on the world’s view of leadership, being a Christian becomes more about blazing our own trail than tracking Another’s footsteps, more about being happy than knowing truth, more about creating a guide to living than accepting the gift of life. When we focus on followership, however, a whole new template for the life of faith pops up:

    • To follow Jesus is to be in the right mission—the way: missional living.
    • To follow Jesus is to be in the right relationships—the truth: relational living.
    • To follow Jesus is to be in the right future—the life: incarnational living.

This seems to be a natural progression that Jesus proposed: first belonging (way), then believing (truth), then behaving (life).

This book, as with all Leonard Sweet books, is deeply challenging, and while I struggled with his over use of semantics, for example, replacing the word “leader” for “first follower”, I wholeheartedly agree with Sweet’s assessment of leadership infatuation within the church and culture.

As always, Sweet has a brilliant and artistic way with his words that captivates the reader throughout the pages.  More important than his artistic style, the heart of the book is challenging to the core.  I would absolutely recommend this book to any person: “leader” and “non-leader” alike.  Our primary goal is not to accumulate more followers of our ideas and thoughts (and Sweet certainly does not intend to earn followers of his own); rather, we have been called to follow Christ.  Are you ready to leave the mindset of leadership and enter in the relationship of following?  If so, “I Am A Follower” is a must-read for you.

The Full Circle of Christian Ministry

I loved Jon’s recent post on The Full Circle of Christian Ministry, check it out:

Friday night: Youth and Chidlrens Work

Child: I lost my jumper

Leader: Where did you leave it?

Child: I don’t know

Leader: Let’s check lost property

Child: OK

Leader: Is your name on it?

Child: I don’t know

Leader: Is it one of these?

Child: No I don’t think so

 

Monday Morning: Older folks Bible Study and Meal

Gentleman: Someone’s taken my walking stick

Staff: Where did you leave it?

Gentleman: By the window

Staff: Which window?

Gentleman: That one over there

Staff: Did it have your name on it?

Gentleman: Yes, but it’s been rubbed off

Staff: We’ll sort it out tomorrow

 

There are certain principles that you can apply to working with any age group…

Absolutely true, we find most days someone is popping into the church for lost property – be it from a pre-school group or our older peoples groups.

How To Be an Effective Critic

Thom Rainer writes:

 A few days ago I had a long conversation with a critic of me. Actually, it would be better to say that he is a critic of a decision I made. He would not want to describe himself as a critic of me in the general sense. Rare is the person who actually enjoys criticisms. I certainly would not be among that unique group. But this man made the criticism tolerable. And he certainly gained my respect by the way he handled it. Immediately after the conversation, I began to think through how he had approached me. I thought about his words, his body language, and even his preparation for criticizing me. I realized I had a case study on effective criticism. I also was able to note seven of the characteristics of this conversation where he criticized me.

Click here for some good advice.