Thursday, March 30, 2006

Two Sad Leadership Principles

I had a fascinating conversation this week during the staff retreat with one of the staff members who has been a part of the leadership development team at the church. HCBC is working to create a leadership development movement within the church to support the vision to reach Austin (& to sustain an ever-increasing church planting movement). In the process of creating a leadership culture, the leadership development team interviewed an influential leadership researcher who used his dissertation to research the top 300 Christian leaders in the nation. At the end of 7 months of traveling the nation to personally interview these leaders, this researcher came to two startling conclusions about these successful Christian leaders. I'm wondering what you think about his conclusions:

1) That these leaders were very successful in the professional relationships, but weak in the personal relationships.

2) That these leaders were very passionate about the work they were doing for God, but not very passionate about God.

These two statements deeply convicted my heart; I hope that those of us who lead in the church of Jesus Christ don't fall into these traps. The one notable exception to the second conclusion was Bill Bright. The researcher said that when he interviewed Bill Bright, Bill spend an hour and a half talking about Jesus, weeping through much of the time. The researcher continued to ask questions about Crusade, hoping Bill would talk more about the ministry, but he just wanted to talk about what Jesus meant to him and how Jesus had changed his life. Too sad that Bill is the exception and not the rule.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Blogging Future?

I've had some interesting conversations recently with many people about the future of blogging. I've like to share a few ideas and get your feedback on where you think it is headed. I enjoy the blogosphere because it allows me to keep up with other people who I don't see very often and allows me to see what's happening in their life quickly (verses a longer phone conversation). Also, I like the dialogue it creates about ideas, helping people to discuss things long distance (again without huge time commitments). I recognize, however, that blogging may lead fewer people to be good at the face-to-face conversation (though text-messaging and emailing also lead to this problem) and create more surface-level relationships where people think they are connected without really being connected. I saw a great cartoon the other day where a teenager is coming in the door from school, and the parent says to him, "I know I can read about your day at school on your blog, but I'd really like to hear it from you directly!" What an interesting world we live in.

As far as ministry, I think we have just stratched the surface for the uses of blogging. I like the openness and authenticity that people bring to the blogosphere (though I'm sure it could become another place for people to wear masks), and I again like the dialogue. I see blogs being used more and more for prayer needs, church discussions, and vision-casting. I'm still working out some of these uses in my mind as I look forward to church-planting in 2007. Brian Russell has some good thoughts HERE on how he understands the usefulness of blogs for pastors. We'll see.

So, what do you think? Where are we headed with blogs?

btw, I'm out the next couple days for staff retreat, so no more blogging until Thursday.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

And it's a...

another boy!! 3 for 3 - I've got skills. I'll post a pic of the sonogram later so you can enjoy with us. Two more, and I'll have my basketball team complete. In all seriousness, we are really thankful to God for a great, healthy report from the doctor. I am overwhelmed at how blessed we have been. Now, if we can only figure out what is causing all these pregnancies...;)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Boy or Girl?

The appointment is set for the morning - will it be a boy or girl? Kade is banking on a sister this time. And actually, we're feeling the same way. But we could all just be on boy overload right now. Either way, I can't wait to meet the newest addition to our family. And if it's a boy - Barie will be outnumbered 4 to 1. Sweet!

We have it tough?

Here's the skinny: Abdul Rahman, a Muslim convert to Christ in Afghanistan, has been arrested and put on trial for changing his faith. The law in Afghanistan says that this crime is punishable by death. Most western countries (who are funding the rebuilding in Afghanistan) are furious over the lack of religious freedom and putting the pressure hard core on the Afghan president to spare this guy's life. Now, the judges hearing the case are saying the man is unfit mentally (read crazy) to stand trial, and most likely will be spared. SO, best case senario for Abdul, he doesn't get killed for converting to Christ, only judged to be insane. And we think we have it tough?

Here's praying that God raise up more American Christians who will respond to the challenge to take the gospel to these least reached places on the earth.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ebay Atheist

I thought you might be interested in this tidbit. Atheist guy thinks he can raise some money by auctioning off his church attendance for a month on eBay. He decides that if someone will pay, he will commit to attend for a whole month. SO, someone did pay, and he went (to Willow Creek). Read this to see what he thought...

Any thoughts?

Monday, March 13, 2006

We're Still Married

We survived the Family Life marriage conference still intact, and actually learned many helpful lessons that we took home with us. I learned that...

...our marriage gets better when we remove two small children and simply look each other in the eyes and have adult conversation for a while.
...my wife is the most beautiful and amazing person I've ever met, and she is truly my best friend (stop gagging - it's true).
...going to a marriage conference is even more fun for me whenever the conference is free (thank you FL) and the hotel is on the church (thank you HCBC).
...open and honest communication is not just good practice in ministry, but also in marriage.
...I have been blessed beyond what I will ever deserve in having a wife who embodies Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5.
...while I thought 3 children in three years was moving us toward stopping having any more kids, we may want to actually have 8 (thank you conference speaker).
...God is good for giving us the gift of marriage.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Seeking the unchurched

In my experience in church work, it seems like more and more church-growth is designed around attracting those who are already committed to Jesus Christ. In other words, flyers are sent to houses in a neighborhood, advertising "great Bible teaching" or "relevant and exciting worship." And while those pieces are absolutely necessary to a healthy church, why are we advertising things that are only attractive to other Christians? It is almost like advertising a new restaurant, where we are trying to convince people who eat out that our food and service is better than their food and service. But this is missing the whole point of the Great Commission. We have to plant churches that will seek the unchurched, not move the churched. When we begin to think about this new perspective, what would need to change in our church planting? First, evangelism must remain central - how are the church members going to proclaim the gospel in creative and culturally-engaging ways in our communities? Second, how are we going to get believers outside the walls of the church (and even beyond the walls of their job) so that we are all building real relationships with unchurched people? Third, how are we going to help new believers actually get connected to the life of the church? Personally, I think this has to do with vision (keeping the goal always in front of us), coordinating evangelism through small groups, equipping our people to share their faith, and praying for our hearts to beat for those without the Savior.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Misquoting Jesus

Just a head's up that the book Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman is now number 16 on the New York Times bestseller list. I mentioned this book in passing earlier because Dan Wallace at DTS has already published an excellent rebuttal to Ehrman's work. If you want your own copy of Wallace's rebuttal, email me, and I'll send you a hard copy. This report on WP covers Ehrman's journey - fascinating. Another reason (besides Da Vinci code) that church leaders need to teach people the truth about how we got our Bible.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Intentional Evangelism / Discipleship

This week, I had one of those revelation moments where God reminds you of something you have known for a long time, but maybe forgot somewhere along the journey. It was during a meeting with the Evangelism Pastor this week that God reminded me that if I don't schedule something intentional on my calendar for the week, it won't happen. Now, I know that sounds crazy simple, but the reality is that unless we schedule time into our week for evangelism and discipleship, they just won't happen on their own. I wish that were not the case, but for most of us, sharing our faith and walking next to someone in their faith while they mature are not regular parts of our weekly routine. In other words, we know that God asks us to do them, but unless we are intentional about them, they just won't happen. This makes sense to me in numerous ways: first, our depraved nature moves toward selfish passivity more than activity; second, our insecurities and fears drive us away from boldness in evangelism and discipleship; and third, the enemy does not desire to see us used by God to effect life-change in other people. So, long story short: we have to put time on the weekly calendar to invest in relationships with unbelievers, and we have to put time on the weekly calendar to mentor other believers. Most churches have been made ineffective for the kingdom because they quit reaching people with the gospel and simply begin to attract other Christians to their flock. And most Christians have been make ineffective for the kingdom because they are too busy (and apathetic) to put new relationships on their calendar. Where is our intentionality in reaching out to those beyond and building up those within?