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Kern Dinner and Tips to Avoid Moral Failures

March 26, 2008 1 comment

Had a great dinner tonight at Bethel Seminary with Stephanie and a group of students. Six years ago I was the recipient of a gracious scholarship from the Kern Foundation which covered all my seminary tuition for three years. This evening I was invited back, along with other alumni, for a time to eat and reconnect with other Kern Scholars. Besides seeing old friends, I was given the opportunity to co-keynote the event and share where God has lead me since graduating seminary.

While it was difficult to publicly share about the trials Stephanie and I have faced, it was very rewarding to be given the chance to possibly help save others from the pain we’ve gone through. The goal of my talk was to give the Kern Scholars a list of things they can do to protect themselves from sin and the failures that too many pastors end up committing. I hope to adapt the talk into an article in the near future. I’ll post it all when it is written. Until then, here is a summary of the tips….

1. Believe you are broken

Romans 7:18 – For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.

2. Trust in the value of marital transparency

Genesis 2:25 – And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

3. Understand the process is painful

John 12:24 – Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

4. Consider Christian counseling

Proverbs 19:20 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

5. Share your struggles with someone

James 5:16 – Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

6. Build your boundaries

Proverbs 16:17 – The highway of the upright turns aside from evil; whoever guards his way preserves his life.

7. Stay away from dangerous situations

1 Timothy 6:11 – But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

8. Cling to Christ

Psalm 63:8 – My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

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Categories: Leadership, Ministry

The Whiteboard Sessions

January 29, 2008 Leave a comment

It’s official. I have requested the time off and Stephanie has me registered for the Whiteboard Sessions. Now we need to book airplane tickets and a hotel. If you have an frequent flyer miles you want to sell or donate please let me know. I’m pumped for may! Should be awesome. Check out the website for more info.

Categories: Ministry, Vacation

Inspiration, Internalization, Imitation, and Impact

January 24, 2008 Leave a comment

I read these equations at Steven Furtick’s blog today. I think they provide a helpful and useful framework for thinking about how to use the creativity and work of others in our own lives and ministries.

Inspiration without Internalization=Imitation
Inspiration + Internalization=Impact

You can read his whole post for more context.

Categories: Ministry, Preaching

Birthday Highlights

January 2, 2008 1 comment

To confirm the rumor: yes…today is my birthday. I am 28 years old. Which means my star is beginning to fade and the body is not quite working like it used to. But enough with the negativity.

Tonight when I walked through the door our my house my nose was greeted with the wonderful aroma of ribs cooking in our kitchen. Stephanie made me a birthday meal fit for a king. We had BBQ ribs, tater tots, baked beans, potato salad, coleslaw, lettuce salad and brownies and ice cream for dessert. It was AMAZING!! I am STUFFED! Thanks babe!!!!!!!!!!!

More amazing than the meal was my birthday gift. Stephanie collaborated with some people who really love me and they are all sending me to Reston, VA for the Whiteboard Conference in May. This is a conference being organized by a blogging friend of mine and the speaker line-up should be incredible. Thank you to everyone who had a hand in this. I am very blessed.

Stephanie you are more than I deserve.

Categories: Birthday, Ministry

Using Magic to Gain a Gospel Audience

November 24, 2007 Leave a comment

A couple nights ago my family and I watched a show where a masked magician showed some of the tricks illusionists use to entertain audiences. I was thinking more about that and I thought it would be cool to learn some magic tricks and incorporate them into a show that teaches about Jesus. Almost everyone I know enjoys magic on some level. People get a charge out of being fooled and wondering what just happened in front of their eyes. Added to that is that fact that there is no shortage of material in the Bible regarding the spiritual world. Combining the two could make for a great draw and opportunity to share the story of the Gospel. I’d need to learn a few good tricks first, but it seems like a fun goal to shoot for.

Categories: Ministry, Preaching

What has Willow Creek Learned in 30 Years?

October 29, 2007 Leave a comment

Willow Creek is a church that has had a dramatic impact on my life and my philosophy of ministry (this same statement could have been written on the blog of hundreds of pastors around the country who are modeling themselves and their churches after Willow). Through its program-driven, seeker-friendly emphasis, Willow has reshaped the way Sunday morning service operates in thousands of churches.

So how do we react when Willow’s pastor, Bill Hybels, says things like this,

Speaking at the Leadership Summit, Hybels summarized the findings this way:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

Having spent thirty years creating and promoting a multi-million dollar organization driven by programs and measuring participation, and convincing other church leaders to do the same, you can see why Hybels called this research “the wake up call” of his adult life.

Hybels confesses:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

On a few of the blogs I read people are showering Hybels with kudos, declaring this a some kind of public repentance over the way Willow has organized it’s ministries. I doubt that Hybels sees his confession that way, but I do admire his willingness to say something went array. I am inspired that his devotion to Christ influences his leadership so much that he is willing to switch gears and do something new after 30 plus years of seemingly successful functioning.

(HT: CMS)

Categories: Hybels, Ministry, Willow

Bye Bye Ministry Fair

October 27, 2007 Leave a comment

Mark Waltz of Granger Community Church on what Granger is doing to encourage people to join in and serve.

A few years ago we moved away from what we called a “Ministry Fair” to a “Volunteer Expo” (I’m sure we borrowed it from another church). We found that the mere label was more understandable and less intimidating for people new to our church and/or Jesus. In years past, we set up large areas using tents or other temporary structures in a designated area on the campus and pointed people to the Expo following services. We experienced some measured positive outcomes in people stepping into the varied opportunities.

This year we opted to create space inside our auditorium where services are experienced. No one had to leave the room. However, we needed to help people visit ministry booths quickly and effectively. So, using tear-off cards in every program (bulletin), guests were invited to choose ONE area to start with and drop their card at that selected table. There they received a printed sheet that provided a bit more detail and information about the next step. That next step might be to participate in an orientation, visit/observe a ministry function or expect a return phone call for an individual conversation.

Categories: Ministry