Wednesday, October 28, 2009
In The American Church in Crisis (Zondervan, 2008), David Olson notes that some 3700 churches will be closing their doors annually for years to come. Taking into account both closures and projected new church starts, an additional 2,900 new churches need to be planted each year in the U.S. just to keep pace with population growth!"
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
I invited 6-8 people to be a part of this weekly discussion, knowing at any one time there may only be 3-4 people who can actually make the meeting any particular week. This group help me by:
- giving insight into future TNL teaching series.
- being a sounding board for my talk (sermon) ideas (examples, polls, big ideas, etc)?
- giving constructive feedback on talks from the previous week.
- generate fresh talk ideas.
- increase teaching relevancy.
- increase specificity and depth of informal feedback .
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Words engage debate and argument, where pictures by pass the left side of the brain and creates a experience (feeling) in the right side of the brain- Shane Hipps
It is time to put the adventure in the venture of church- Alan Hirsch
Life is that which exist far from equilibrium. We will not accept the status quo. We are the pilgrim people of God. We need to push away equilibrium in order to live- Alan Hirsch
When God does his greatest work through you, you won’t know it- Andy Stanley
Wanting to leave your make is not ego, it is the finger print of God on your life- Andy Stanley
The American cultural story is about getting more with comfort- Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson
The story of culture will always shape people and the message of Jesus will only be an interruption if we do not think through how we (spiritually) form people and how we see the future- Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson
Incarnation over relevance. Relevance is pointless, but contextualization is crucial- Darren Whitehead and Jon Tyson
Things are not going to change, they have already changed. The shift is not happening, it happened- David Gibbons
Remember, people can’t relate to successes, but they can relate to pain and failure- David Gibbons
We think that more knowledge will lead to better decisions, it doesn't- Malcolm Gladwell
In times of crisis we think we need daring and bold decision making, but we don’t, we need humility- Malcolm Gladwell
We worry about incompetence. Incompetence irritate me, but overconfidence scares me- Malcolm Gladwell
Anytime we teach purity or morality apart from the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ we will create a culture of unchurched people who will leave the gospel behind- Matt Chandler
Don’t assume the gospel in your teaching. We are treating people and applying the gospel like people understand it. Point it out them- Matt Chandler
Lead people to the gospel- Matt Chandler
For three days last week I was in Atlanta Georgia at the Catalyst Conference. Catalyst is a church leadership gathering originally geared for those under 40 years old. This was the 10th anniversary of the conference. It may still be geared the under 40 crowd, but it not only attended by that age group.
Those who gather in Atlanta for this conference run the gambit in ages, denominations, positions and most notability dress. Catalyst seems to be a black hole sucking in anyone pastor with a goatee, faux hawk, graphic T or a iPhone from all over the US (guilty as charged on at least one account)
Catalyst is summer camp for pastors. There are skits, loud worship bands with good looking young hipster leds, good teaching and entertaining distractions. Oh did I mention the pony, the armored car or the 35 foot belly flop into a kiddie pool with only a foot of water!
In the end Catalyst is about teaching leadership ideas to church leaders either directly by sharing management principles or in directly by refocusing the leaders on the Shepherd of the church. There was no unstated alternative like the National Pastors Conference which is a great book sale disguised as conference sponsored by Zondervan.
However, Catalyst is half helpful and half fluff. The valuable part comes in the form of the exposure to world class teaching from church leaders who are in the trenches of everyday ministry, Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, Rob Bell and Francis Chen to name a few. And yes, there were some ladies involved, Jessica Jackley from Kiva, Margaret Fienberg and Phyllis Shirer. These people are some of the best biblical communicators in the world and they come to Catalyst to teach and encourage church leaders of all kinds.
Also, the worship music was incredible! Moving, inspirational and executed excellently. Again, the musicians were second to none. I just wish the names of more than Steve Fee and Eddie Kirkland came to mind.
The fluff part came more in the amusement. A comic host/side kick, 13,000 little rubber footballs thrown around the arena in mass, crazy videos, confetti poppers and don’t forget the hardly seen pony (we think it was a colt for Tony Dungy) and the Guinness world record setting belly flop!
Dobson, Edward G., The Year of Living Like Jesus: My journey of Discovering What Jesus Would Really Do, Grand Rapid: Zondervan, 2009.
After hearing about A.J. Jacobs’ attempt to live out every rule in the Bible as literally as possible, pastor, professor and author Ed Dobson (not to be confused with James Dobson) embarks on a journey to do the same thing, almost. Dobson, who used to teach at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and was a prominent member of the Moral Majority years ago, takes Jacobs’ idea and applies it to living like Jesus for a full 365 days. This book is part journal and part confessional for his journey.
Dobson not only tries to live by the Mosaic laws and traditions Jesus would have lived by, like growing a huge beard, following a kosher diet, observing Jewish festivals and High Holy days, etc., but he also tries to live by the teachings of Jesus, giving to the poor and praying the Lord’s Prayer. Dobson tried to live like and according to Jesus.
The best part about this book are the crazy stories Ed gets to tell and is his unabashed honesty about his struggles to reconcile the teaching of Jesus with his fundamentalist background as well as his current life as a semi-retired pastor coping with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), more popularly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
One such story was when Dobson tried to fast and spend time in the “wilderness” like Jesus did in Matthew 4. Restricted by his ALS, Ed couldn’t do the 40 day deal, but tried to spend the night in prayer and fasting. He started out well by getting his camp set up and praying the “Jesus Prayer” hundreds of times. Things got a little complicated when he found out the camping stove he brought was not actually in the box. Not a big deal since he was fasting, but reality became apparent when Ed couldn’t make a cup of coffee! This threw him for a loop and ended up being a contributing factor, along with muscle cramps to why he packed up his gear and headed home at nearly midnight (“After all, Jesus didn’t have ALS.”).
It was equally interesting to read how living like Jesus affected Ed’s views about going to bars to hang out, his decision to pray the Catholic Rosary, and how this former right-wing Republican fundamentalist decided which candidate should get his vote for United States President.
Dobson has only ever voted Republican in the past, however his guiding question in the 2008 election year was not, “Who would Jesus vote for?” but, “Who most exemplified Jesus’ teachings of loving our enemies as well as the poor, the marginalized and the oppressed, and who was most committed to peacemaking?” Along the way, Ed does not hide his internal conflict with peer pressure wondering what his friends would think of him if he voted Democrat for once.
Another story that documents Ed’s journey has to do with loving the poor and being generous without restraint. One day a disabled Veteran comes to his front door looking for a few dollars in order to travel to the VA hospital. The Vet even has an official looking letter stating the details of his appointment. So, Ed, wanting to love like Jesus, gives the guy money. A few months later the same guy, with the same story and the same letter comes back to his front door. So, what does Dobson do? After a few seconds of thought revolving around the unfathomable odds of this coincidence, Dobson reaches into his pocket and gives the guy whatever money he had.
However, none of these hit home for me like Eds’ commitment to prayer. Ed moves past his traditional church experience of prayer by reaching into, not only the Catholic tradition, but also Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. Dobson’s journey is spent praying scripted or memorized prayers hundreds and hundreds of times each day. He was even willing to employ the use of an Orthodox prayer rope and Anglican prayer beads. This commitment to pray inspired me. Soon after hearing about Ed’s devotion to prayer I, too, started to memorize some of the prayers I found in the book. I found myself communicating more to God than just a wish list and communicating more often through these prayers.
In the beginning Dobson’s goal was simply to live like Jesus and according to Jesus in order to facilitate his own spiritual development. By the time the year was over and Ed was being interviewed by newspaper and television reporters, his goal had become twofold: to inspire people to live out the teachings of Jesus and to learn those teaching by reading the Bible. “If even one did that, then my year was a success,” Ed writes in the last chapter. What started out as an experience for growth eventually turned into an exercise for the benefit of others.