- A lot happened last week.
- My in-laws have been in town to help us make the adjustment into parenthood, they’ve been a big help and there have been lots of funny moments. One of my favorites from my father in-law: “What does YOLO mean again?”
- We all woke up Friday morning to the horrible news out of Aurora, Colorado. No matter your opinion on gun control/2nd Amendment now is not the time to make a political argument. Now is a time to pray and reflect on the ways you can bring the light of the Kingdom into the darkness.
- How awesome is my wife? Really, really awesome.
- Paterno’s statue came down. Never underestimate the power of a symbol.
- Big thanks to Jonathan Pearson for being the first contributor to the Rookie Pastor Paternity Leave, awesome take on the Sabbath.
- John Piper defends OT genocide. I have to admit that when I read that headline I cringed, but after watching it Piper has me at least considering a position I wasn’t at previously. It is impossible for me not to respect Piper’s passion and grasp of Scripture. Listen to those you disagree with, don’t just disagree. A counterpoint.
- Economy and charitable giving infographic.
- Stopping to ask the obvious question.
- Who Gives a Crap? Using toilet paper to help others, love this idea.
- There was a dust up last week about the role of women. Like many I was shocked at some of the language used, therefore the apology issued needs to be shared.
- What story does your church budget tell?
- You could buy cool apps, or just wait for Google to gobble them up and integrate them.
- Josh Griffin on raising kids in ministry, some things he has said in the past have been things Heidy and I have always hoped we could live out. We’ll see.
- Don’t be the leader that limits growth.
- Terrace Crawford has some openings for his coaching network.
- What Amazon is doing to business is also happening to the local church. Change or die folks. Remember Tandy computers? and no, sadly no relation.
- Reflections from a student ministry intern at Saddleback.
- Want to see giving go up? Make online giving an option.
- Been great to welcome some new advertising partners around here. Love working with folks to develop packages and pricing that fit their needs and this community. Contact me for more details.
Really. Really. Awesome.
This was taken the day after delivering our first son after 24 hours of labor. Let me tell you a bit about my incredible wife.
I met her in Freshman Greek class, she sat in the front I sat in the back. She got an A, I struggled and didn’t sign up for the second semester. Thankfully I got to know her and we both ended up running around with the same group of friends. She had a boyfriend back home and nearly from the start I was ecstatic to get put in the “friend zone”.
Over that freshman year we became good friends, despite the fact I was hoping for more. In that friend stage that would turn out so important we laughed a lot. We laughed at each other, at bad jokes and corny movies.
Laughter has always been central to our relationship. One time we got called out in the middle of a lecture hall during freshman ecology for laughing and talking in the back. Joking was how I tried to navigate out of the friend zone.
After she became single and we began to move towards dating, it was the friendship and humor that got us through the potentially awkward transition. Once we started dating we never broke up. We were committed to being friends first and I think that got us through the ups and downs of dating.
When I finally got up the nerve to ask her to marry me, her first response wasn’t to say yes (that was her second response) it was to laugh.
Our first ministry event together was an open house in the parsonage, when we spilled a bowl of pretzels minutes before people we didn’t know showed up to walk around our (their) home I told her: “laugh or cry babe, laugh or cry.” It has become a bit of a mantra for us.
The night before she went into labor we laid in bed talking and laughing about the day.
She is my best friend, my partner in life and ministry, my wife, and the mother of my son. She is incredible.
If you have one tell your spouse how much you appreciate them. Ministry is hard and they catch more of it than they should have to.
When our son let out his first cry we both laughed.
We named him Isaac.
Another great guest post in the Rookie Pastor Paternity Leave series.
3 Things Your Sabbath Shouldn’t be Without
I know the temptation. Every young or rookie pastor goes through it. It’s the “If I do more and take on more and do it well, I’ll get to where I want to go quicker.” It’s easy to do… and it’s good thinking… to an extent.
Sure, as young and green pastors and leaders, we have to work hard. We have to be dedicated to our church, our people, and our God. God doesn’t excuse lazy and we’ll never get ahead with a “Just get by” attitude.
That being said, though, God did give us a command to keep the ‘Sabbath’ holy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I won’t be legalistic and say that it has to be a certain day of the week. For Pastors, it’s not Sunday because we work on Sundays… we work hard. However, God put this Sabbath command in the midst of all the other ones that we Christians consider essential. In the middle of forbidding us to kill and steal and sleep around is the command to keep the Sabbath holy.
That goes for you too… young or rookie pastor!
You and I must find a day to rest… to be… to have a Sabbath. That may look different for each of us. Each of us have a different way of being, of refreshing ourselves, and of resting up. Whatever it looks like, a good Sabbath has these 3 elements (this is my opinion, don’t go looking for these verbatim in scripture, seminary grad …
This is part 5 of a blog series called Leading a Small Group.
Curriculum can ruin a good group, but it does not make a good group.
If you are like me and you have some responsibility in crafting the curriculum for multiple groups you know how hard it is to put good curriculum together. If you lead a group though, I think you are putting too much emphasis on the curriculum.
As a general rule of thumb when you are in a book study people want to be watching a video and when you are watching a video they will want more discussion in a book study. So if you are a creator give them what they want and stress variety. If you are a leader relax and accept that there is no perfect curriculum.
I respect and admire those that write curriculum from nothing. It is a gift that serves the larger church very well, but it is a rare gift. Don’t be afraid to adapt the work of someone else. The end product will be better and you will have more time to devote to the real work of small groups, developing relationships.
In small groups there is no such thing as plug and play curriculum. Everything needs to be adapted to fit your specific context. As you pre-game make sure you are changing language to fit your group and adding local flavor.
Make sure that the curriculum serves you, not the other way around. Whether it is an agenda or a list of questions realize that the people in front of you are more important than getting through your sheet of paper.
Life is going to happen and people are going to want to talk about things that aren’t on your curriculum. Always, always, always defer to these things initially. Some may prove to be a useless distraction that need to be moved past and others will be things that need to be addressed and discussed further.
The curriculum is a tool. Use it as such.
So I’m a dad. Wow. Isaac James came early this morning at 8 pounds 5 ounces and mom and baby are doing awesome. Here’s a not very good photo of the dude right after he got cleaned up.
Going to be stepping away from my normal blog schedule as I dive head first into fatherhood. In the meantime though we get to hear from some members of this community. These are friends I’ve known for years and those of you I only know from a meetup or through Twitter, but all have incredible things to share. So the common thread for this series isn’t a topic, but the Rookie Pastor community.
A few weeks ago I sent a mass email with a long list topics and I was blown away at the response. If you would like to be included on this project let me know and I’ll be happy to pass along how you can contribute.
As they are posted they will be updated here with the appropriate links.
- 3 Ways to Guard Your Sabbath
- Invest in People to Leave Well
- Preaching When I Don’t Feel Like it
- Non-Creepy Evangelism
- The Pastor’s Inner Circle
- Financial Do’s and Don’ts
- Leaving with Grace
- A Pastor’s Sabbath
- Three Free Steps Toward a More Interactive Worship Service
- Why Church Planting?
- Why Church Revitalization?
- When You’re Struggling with Your Worship Leader
- Budget vs Volunteers
- What Long Term Missionaries Need From the Local Church
- When a Bad Day Strikes
The Nooma series had a huge impact on my life personally and as a communicator during a very formative time in my life. Bell’s books, while somewhat annoying in structure have always challenged me to think. Like many I have naively attempted to imitate his preaching style.
Interesting to see this as I believe it is one of the first forms of communication I have seen since he left Mars Hill. Yes the video is a little predictable. Clearly intentionally controversial/disruptive. And of course maddeningly difficult to pin down.
But I’m glad I watched it.
This is part of a blog series that has 30 practical tips for the pastor looking to start or restart well. You can get the entire series as a Kindle book. The landing page will be updated with each new post.
As you are going around and talking with folks in those first 30 days it will quickly become clear who has an agenda. Those that are really pushing their puppet and clown ministry are pretty easy to spot (it’s the bedazzled sweaters) and can be let down easy. It’s the ones that have the sneaky agendas you have to watch out for.
The people that are pushy friendly, that really want to get to know you are the ones to be careful of. However from that same group you will find those that truly want to be supportive of you and those are the people you really do need to listen to.
If you haven’t been told this yet let me break the news to you: ministry is really hard. Not like Calculus hard or Saturday crossword puzzle hard, but draining, exhausting, “I don’t get paid enough to put up with this” hard.
Because of the challenges of ministry you need to embrace the cheerleaders and avoid the axe-grinders. The axe-grinders are the ones that send you an email Monday morning killing all the joy you had from the day before. Axe-grinders point out the problems with your program but don’t offer to help. These people aren’t helping and would probably be happier at another church, to bad they appear to enjoy the misery.
On the other hand the cheerleaders you need aren’t the ones that rubber-stamp their approval on anything and everything you do. A good cheerleader in ministry isn’t going to let you ignore the problems; they will lovingly point them out and help you correct them. Nor will a good cheerleader won’t let you sit in the negativity that comes from the critics.
Thankfully I am married to my biggest and most honest cheerleader.
- Still waiting on my son to be born, looks like we might be induced. Prayers greatly appreciated.
- Lot of reactions to the new data concerning confidence in denominations/organized religion, can’t say I’m surprised.
- Getting creative in adding staff.
- Can’t say I’ve ever seen the Rookie Pastor logo here.
- The Nines is looking for topic suggestions.
- Saturday night church in a college football town.
- Conventional wisdom says that writers have to be readers, but does it still apply?
- Free advertising, a church planter’s dream.
- Picking youth group over homework and the consequences for faith post high school.
- Already looking forward to next year’s Exponential Conference, here is the speaker lineup.
- Reggie McNeal caused a stir at the North American Christian Conference: “The American church must ‘do better at being a missionary culture instead of a membership culture.’
- We all know that we cannot continue to propagate the same type of church over and over again if we hope to reach those outside the church. We know it, the execution is the problem.
For the last few years Leadership Network has put on a free, online conference called The Nines. Each session lasts a maximum of nine minutes.
Previously nominations for speakers were held in this somewhat odd voting system where you up or down vote any of the nominated speakers. This year is different.
Instead of speaker nominations they are looking for topic nominations, particularly “hot topics”. It is an interesting approach and already they have a lot of the topics you would expect, but they are looking for more. So head over and submit your own topic.
The financial crisis over the past several years has affected giving and has taken its toll on churches all across our country. We have seen churches eliminate services, merge with other churches, file for bankruptcy or simply close their doors. Church leaders have struggled with figuring out ways to operate with less and increase church giving while trying to maintain church programs.
The good news is that there are organizations that can help churches with operational management and financial oversight. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) is one of those organizations and is dedicated to helping religious organizations earn the public’s trust by adhering to Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship – which focuses on financial transparency, board governance, integrity in fundraising and proper use of charity resources. ECFA is similar to the Better Business Bureau in that it provides a seal of approval for organizations that meet their criteria for management practices and gives the public a level of trust.