Tag Archives: Church

Tuesday Picks ~ 6-13-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

What Would Aristides Say About Your Church?Eric Geiger
The world watched how early believers cared for one another, how they supported one another in challenging times, and how they longed to meet together. The world always takes notice when Christians love one another as Christ commanded. Unity is always attractive, and unity among God’s people piques the world’s curiosity.

Aristides, a 2nd century Greek philosopher, wrote an apology concerning what he had observed of Christians. What he observed is a beautiful picture of the early Christian church. From his findings we get a sense of why their community was attracting so much attention, both favor from a watching world and persecution from those who hated Christianity. Below are a few things he noted about the Christians with quotes from “The Apology of Aristides.”


The Moment that Changed Eric Liddell’s Life
Jordan Standridge
Eric was having to make an important decision; of course, no one was going to force him to speak or to have a public ministry. But I’m sure that Eric was counting the cost. Some people may say no big deal, but this was a huge deal. Especially for such an introvert.

This decision was going to affect the rest of his life…

This year, we celebrate 500 years of the Reformation. And looking back at the Reformation, I think we can all be overwhelmed. As we hear stories of Luther, Tyndale, and Lady Jane Grey, we see boldness in the face of entire nations, popes, and scores of cardinals and executioners, and we wonder whether we would ever be able to stay committed to Christ when we could possibly be burned or lose our heads. But most of us will probably never have to face that test. Most of us will simply be called to be faithful in the circles God has sovereignly placed us.

The question is will we be faithful to speak unashamedly of our love for Christ when He calls us to?


7 Things That Get Harder as Your Church Grows
Carey Nieuwhof

2 big takeaways for me…

1. The point of church is not for everyone to know everyone. The point is for everyone to be known.

2. If you’re not fine with others receiving the credit, you’ll eventually stunt the church’s growth to the level of your insecurity.


A politically incorrect Father’s Day guide to sex, masculinity and daughters…

Dad Meets the Sexual RevolutionWilliam McGurn
…most dads accept that part of the job is a willingness to be the unfashionable one; that is, to love enough to speak unpopular truths when the world cheats your children with fifty shades of grey. For all the complaints about “toxic masculinity,” genuine masculinity seems hard to come by. Surely the greater male dysfunction of our time is perpetual adolescence, and a culture that encourages the man-child.

So this Father’s Day, looking over the three greatest blessings in his life, this dad pines for the day when we might again speak honestly and openly about the profound differences between male and female sexuality, when the heart might be taken as seriously as the orgasm—and when young men pursing young women might even rediscover the marvelous possibilities of moonlit summer evenings.


The value of a drummer?
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Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Monday Picks ~ 6-12-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

The final paragraph of this is what grabbed my attention…

Six Stages of a Dying ChurchThom Rainer
Churches have broken free from the death stages, but they are rare. And the longer the church waits to make substantive changes, the more difficult it becomes to reverse the path. It’s significantly easier to make changes at stage one than stage four.

Also, keep in mind that nearly nine out of ten of the churches that die are in communities that are growing.

The problem is not a shortage of people. The problem is a shortage of courage, commitment, and sacrifice.


Absolutely true…

The Ultimate Character Test Any Great Leader Passes
Carey Nieuwhof
…where does the deepest level of leadership success come from? Ultimately it doesn’t come from a leader’s skill set; it comes from a leader’s character…

Character—far more than skill set—determines how deeply and passionately people follow you. A leader with character is a leader worth following…

Character, more than anything else, draws the hearts of people to your leadership.

The greatest leaders are highly skilled people whom other people love to be around. They’re people others admire, not just because they’re smart, but because they’re the kind of person other people want to become.


I love this piece from Tim Fall…

The Impossibility of a Christian NationTim Fall
https://barntsinthebelfry.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/a-christian-nation1.jpg?w=520Yet if nations could be Christians what might that look like?

The nation would…

-Care as much for foreigners as its own citizens.
-Never neglect the needs of widows and orphans.
-Not lord itself over other nations.
-Serve other nations, not seek to come out on top.
-Not think more highly of itself than it should.
-Turn the other cheek when other nations hurt it.
-Love its enemy nations.
-And over all this and more, exhibit fruit of the Spirit at home and abroad.

Anyone reading that list would see it’s impossible to fulfill.

People who say America is or has been or should be a “Christian nation” don’t mean they want America to fulfill that list either.* That is because a nation that’s a Christian would be one that serves all other nations, always seeking their good before its own. That’s not what people want out of their government.

They don’t want to live in a nation that would love its neighbors that much.

The real issue, though, is that people, not nations, are the ones who can be called Christians…


Graphic design is way more important than most church leaders believe. There is excellent advice here…

Three tips to instantly improve your church’s graphic design
Matt Heerema
Over the course of my career I have helped hundreds of churches with their web and graphic design. I have seen all the pitfalls, all the cliches, and all the different ways we boldly declare to the world “there is no commercial graphic artist in our midst!” I also have seen the path to vastly improving the design efforts of your good hearted volunteers. Whether it be bulletin design, sermon slides, lyric projections, or (especially) web graphics for your site and social media.

While very very few people have the expertise to tell you technical reasons that your graphic design is off-putting, everyone has a built-in appreciation for aesthetic, if even at the sub-conscious level. Poor graphic design will leave someone with a bad “feeling”, even if they aren’t consciously aware of it, or can’t articulate it.

If you are an untrained volunteer tasked with the creation of graphics for your organization, here are three things you can do that will take you miles down the road of communicating more effectively with your community…


The first rule of Yoga Club…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDYvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwNjEwXzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

 

Weekend Picks ~ 6-9-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

We’re Not in a Civil War, but We Are Drifting Toward DivorceDavid French
http://c5.nrostatic.com/sites/default/files/styles/original_image_with_cropping/public/uploaded/americans-left-right-liberal-conservative-democrats-republicans-blue-red-states-cultural-segregate-flag.jpg?itok=5uhAnuJYIf we seek to preserve our union, we’re left with a choice — try to dominate or learn to tolerate? The effort to dominate is futile, and it will leave us with a permanently embittered population that grows increasingly punitive with each transition of presidential power. There is hope, however, in the quest to tolerate. Our Constitution is built to allow our citizens to govern themselves while protecting individual liberty and providing for the common defense. It’s built to withstand profound differences without asking citizens or states to surrender their strongest convictions. We can either rediscover this federalism, or we may ultimately take a third path — we may choose to separate.


It’s true. Without a high level of self-awareness and and discipline, talent can limit a leader’s success…

The Curse of Talent for Young Ministry LeadersEric Geiger
I have heard several pastors and counselors wonder aloud about the hidden dangers of peaking early in ministry, of becoming super influential at a young age.

It is not only a phenomenon in local church ministry, however. Jennifer and Gianpiero Petriglieri have conducted extensive research on people who have been labeled “talented” in their careers and fields and discovered that those who have been assigned the talented title often quit early or struggle deeply because of the expectations placed on them. The blessing of being called a high-performing individual can easily become a curse.

While it is impossible to sum up all that goes wrong in the heart of a ministry leader who has been called “exceptional” or “an amazing leader,” here are three dangers “talented” ministry leaders face, three dangers we all must guard our hearts against…


Tim and I seem to be thinking along some similar lines. I wrote a piece yesterday called Faith vs. Certainty. It’s not the same, but it seems related…

Faith: the difference between doubt and indecisionTim FallTo choose doubt as a philosophy of life
is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.
(Yann Martel, Life of Pi.)

The Bible draws a distinction between doubt and indecision, and the quote above from Life of Pi helped me see why: Doubt can be useful as it brings us closer to God, but if instead we use doubt as a means of avoiding movement at all then it’s not really doubt but indecision…

God is not bothered by our doubts when they bring us to him…


Another look at the recent exchange between Senators Bernie Sanders and Chris Van Hollen, and Russell Vought concerning Vought’s Christian faith and how it “disqualifies” him from public service…

All Roads Lead to ExclusionAaron Earls
path decision choiceIs it intolerant and bigoted to say some religions are wrong?

As was recently demonstrated in a senate confirmation hearing, some people assume the answer to that question is yes…

…In essence, Sanders and Van Hollen are telling billions of religious individuals around the world they are wrong about faith and salvation and the senators are right.

And they are asserting that only those who hold their specific religious beliefs are worthy of holding public office. That’s quite an inflated view about your religious opinions, no?

You are telling 54% of the American population they are wrong about faith and salvation and because of that mistaken religious belief they are ineligible to serve in politics. Who’s intolerant now?

Whether all roads lead to God is a different discussion, but, even if Sanders and Van Hollen don’t want to admit it, all roads do lead to exclusion.

Vought is saying to Muslims, “I disagree with you religiously, but I’ll protect your rights.”

Sanders and Van Hollen are saying to Vought, “I disagree with you religiously, so therefore I don’t believe your rights are worth protecting.”

Which one of those is actually intolerant?


Reaching the Next GenerationAlvin Reid
Reaching the Next GenerationWhen it comes to the next generation, I’m sure of two things:

1) We aren’t too effective today at reaching (or keeping) the next generation.

2) The Gospel still works powerfully in any generation.

How do we share Christ effectively to a generation not impressed by the Church today? Here are five ideas…


The language of snacks…
Calvin & Hobbes – Click image for a larger view.

Tuesday Picks ~ 6-6-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

Our First JobDarryl Dash
Reading BibleWe tend to focus on roles, skills, and techniques. They’re important, but they’re not our first job. Our first job is to cultivate a heart that’s seeking after God…

Every morning we begin the process of waking up again. We wipe the sleep from our eyes, splash water on our faces, and move from grogginess to engagement at our own particular speed. The same is true of our souls. Every morning we need to wake up our souls again to the grandeur and beauty of God, and make it our pursuit to follow him…

Our first job is the one we often forget: to cultivate a heart that’s seeking after God. Everything else flows from that.


Serial Killer Released After Explaining Murder Was Only 3% Of What He Did -Babylon Bee
“My client’s opponents are determined to label him a ruthless killer, as if that’s all he does. In actuality, homicide was really only 3% of his daily activities during the decade in question…”

“He even held a job during the entire time in question, providing valuable services to society, which his accusers completely overlooked,” the attorney added.


Six Attitudes That Kill Evangelism in the Church
Thom Rainer
…why are our churches less evangelistic today?

That question could be answered from a number of perspectives. But one of the key explanations is simply an attitude problem. There are several dangerous and debilitating attitudes in churches that are killing evangelism. Here are six of them…

I have seen churches make dramatic turnarounds when just one person decided to be radically obedient to the Great Commission.

The question should not be: “What about them?”

The question should be: “What about me?”


Why C. S. Lewis’ ‘Mere Christianity’ Received Bad ReviewsTrevin Wax
LewisBBCtalks-firstprintingLooking back at these reviews, there is a delicious irony in the fact that Lewis and Mere Christianity are still read today, while most of his critics who charged him of being “out of date” are forgotten. Those who believed they were at the vanguard of newest biblical scholarship and modernist trends in theology have now been surpassed by other movements and are largely ignored by most churches throughout the world.

Meanwhile, Lewis’s legacy lives on. Why? Because Lewis had learned to see through the “chronological snobbery” that overtakes so many scholars…

True to form, the chronological snobs sneered at Mere Christianity, just like their descendants sneer at traditional Christian beliefs today–everything from our belief in miracles to our reaffirmation of Christianity’s distinctive sexual ethic. But, as Dean Inge has said, those who marry the spirit of one age are always widowed in the next.

That’s why we, like Lewis, don’t have to “dig in.” We can simply stand, smiling, trusting in the power of truths that have stood the test of time, knowing the gospel will go forward in faith while the heresies will go out of fashion.


Do as I say, not as I did…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9aaXRzLzIwMTcvMDYvWml0cy4yMDE3MDYwNl85MDAuZ2lm
Zits – Click image for a larger view.

Monday Picks ~ 6-5-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

This was written in January. Don’t know how I missed it…

6 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2017
Carey Nieuwhof
church trendsIf your church is still defined by what you ‘offer’ members to satisfy them, and isn’t defined by how you love each other and the world around you, the clock is ticking faster than ever…

I promise you, if you think you can speak to a group of believers and non-believers the way you would speak to believers alone, you’re wrong.

You certainly don’t need to alter the foundational message, but you do need to rethink your approach.


I thought this photo was a fake. I’m sure there’s a sermon illustration here somewhere…

Man who mowed lawn with tornado behind him says he ‘was keeping an eye on it.’
https://images-cdn.9gag.com/photo/aVqAR6n_700b.jpg
Cecilia Wessels snapped the picture of her husband, Theunis, on Friday evening as the twister passed near their home in Three Hills.

She said cutting the grass was on her husband’s to-do list, and as he started the task, she went for a nap…

“It looks much closer if you look in the photo, but it was really far away. Well, not really far, far away, but it was far away from us,” he said.

“I was keeping an eye on it.”


Prioritize Your ChurchTim Challies
No ministry can outshine it, no program can replace it, no power can topple it. The local church is God’s plan, and he has no backup.

God means for each Christian to be involved in a local church, and his Word knows nothing of Christians who will not be part of one…

If the local church is central to God’s plan for his world, it is equally central to God’s plan for your life. And for that reason I must ask: What is your relationship with the local church? Are you part of a church? Are you involved in it? Are you contributing to it in meaningful ways? You cannot expect to thrive or even to survive without it.

This may be hard for us to admit. We are men! We are strong and fierce and independent! But God means to teach us that we are not as strong as we might think. In fact, we are so weak that we desperately need the help of others. We need to be strengthened by the elderly, we need to be taught by the disabled, we need to be encouraged by the children, we need to be stirred by the unloved, we need to be humbled by the feeble. It is in the local church that we learn to run well.


Greatest hits are exhaustingSeth Godin
The web has pushed us to read what everyone else is reading, the hit of the day. But popular isn’t the same as important. Popular isn’t the same as profound. Popular isn’t even the same as useful.

To make something popular, the creator leaves out the hard parts and amps up the crowd-pleasing riffs. To make something popular, the creator knows that she’s dumbing things down in exchange for attention.

The songs you love the most, the soundtrack of your life–almost none of them were #1 on the Billboard charts. And the same goes for the books that changed the way you see the world or the lessons that have transformed your life.


Oops…
Off the Mark

Tuesday Picks ~ 5-30-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

4 Reasons Superstars Hurt Local Church Ministry
Eric Geiger
You have heard the statement “A chain is only as strong as the weakest link.”

In terms of building a sports team, the cliché challenges leaders to be concerned with the weakest player on the team, to be concerned with raising their skill. Some coaches and leaders live like this is true and focus their energy on developing the weakest links. Others place their energy on recruiting and keeping the strongest links on their teams…

Which approach is correct for staffing in ministry? Convictionally, it must be to develop all the people and not to focus on superstars. Practically, it must be to develop all the people and not focus on superstars. Here are four reasons superstars hurt ministry in a local church…


Yes, I’m sorry, this is another post about millennials. But it is a good one…

On “Listening” to Millennials (and What Does that Even Mean)Derek Rishmawy
listeningHonestly, I feel bad for churches and older leaders trying to get a handle on reaching Millennials. One of the biggest things the recent literature tells churches to do is “listen” to Millennials. But that can be fairly confusing…

Even more importantly, what does “listening” even mean?


Wise and InnocentMichael D. O’Neil
But what of those of us who are not so comfortable with aspects of the progressive social agenda, who perhaps even find them antithetical to Christian convictions? What are Christians to do when it is wrong to withdraw from public engagement, but threatening to so engage? What might appropriate response look like?

In this context, Jesus’ words from Matthew 10:16 provide guidance: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” (NASB).

Because Jesus has sent us out, our place is indeed, “in the world,” and even among the “wolves.” Christians must not withdraw from public space and public dialogue, but their presence is to be wise and innocent. Sometimes Christian engagement in the public sphere is less than wise; at other times it is far from innocent. Wise engagement is required lest we be ravaged; innocence is necessary lest we give ground for accusation or inflame existing tensions.


Live Above the Culture of RevengeMichael Kelley
It begins with recognizing that I, myself, am not able to dispense true justice and therefore any attempt at revenge is always flawed. I don’t know who really deserves what because I don’t know the depths of my own heart and sin much less anyone else’s…

… our job is to recognize first and foremost that we, too, ought to have justice dispensed against us. And when we grasp the immensity of how grievous our own offenses are perhaps it takes some of the fire out of our own desire for revenge.


Watch Repair…
https://safr.kingfeatures.com/idn/cnfeed/zone/js/content.php?file=aHR0cDovL3NhZnIua2luZ2ZlYXR1cmVzLmNvbS9CaXphcnJvLzIwMTcvMDUvQml6YXJyb19wLjIwMTcwNTI1XzYxNi5naWY=
Bizarro

Why Go to Church?

https://thedailyrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/why-go-to-church.jpg

“Certainly one can be self-centered inside a church gathering, but the church gathering is nevertheless where all the sinners ought to be at the appointed time, smack-dab in the middle of a congregational experience specifically organized against the idolatry of personal preference. Not just because God says to do it—although that’s reason enough—but because it is good for us to have our singular voice lost in the sea of corporate praise and it is good for us to shut our social-media-motor-mouths for a bit and hear ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ We should go to church—not mainly, but nevertheless—because it confronts and stunts our spiritual autonomy and individualism. We should go lest we become Cainites, saying ‘I’m not my brother’s keeper.’ Or reverse Cainites, ‘My brothers aren’t my keepers.’”

Jared Wilson

Worship Together

http://resources.razorplanet.com/510188-2746/510188_280_656928.jpgI was invited to lunch by a man in my church. He had something on his mind concerning our worship services that he wanted to talk to me about. We set a time and place. I could hardly wait to get with him because these lunches are always such fun for worship leaders. (Can you hear my sarcastic tone of voice?)

Anyway, as it turns out, this one went pretty well. I’ve had worse. Plus, he paid. But there was something about our worship services that he was asking me to change. Every week, sometime during the service, I would welcome people and ask them to get acquainted with the people around them. To introduce themselves if there was someone they didn’t know. This item appeared on my service plan as “Meet & Greet.”

Creative, right?

He wanted me to stop doing it.

What I found interesting was his reason. It seems he loved the flow of our worship time. He explained to me how the music would lead him to worship. He could let the world slip away and feel truly intimate with God. But just when he was feeling close to God he would be interrupted by all the people around him meeting and greeting. It was a real distraction to his worship.

This conversation occurred many years ago. Since then we have, for many other reasons, discontinued the “Meet & Greet” time. But there is a part of me that would like to bring it back. I understand that it’s one of the most uncomfortable moments during a service for guests. I’m not excited about infecting everyone during cold and flu season. I recognize that it feels artificial and forced.

But I thought of it as a symbolic ritual of something I believe is very important to the corporate worship experience of the church. Something I believe the man who took me to lunch completely missed.

It’s this: Worship isn’t just vertical. It’s also horizontal.

Corporate worship specifically is about the body of Christ coming together to express our unity in worship. You can have your “just-Jesus-and-me” times any time and place you and he agree on. But something different happens when we worship together.

Last Sunday we were singing one of my favorite new songs. As we were singing, Kathie nudged me and pointed out a man across the aisle. This guy had a stroke just a couple weeks before and had been in pretty bad shape. But he has experienced a remarkable recovery and was standing there in the congregation singing his praises. I made my way over to him, put my arm around him in sort of “man hug” and told him how happy I was to see him here. He agreed. He was happy to be here as well. Really happy! This happened as we were singing, “This is your family, Stretching as far as I can see. I’m right where I’m meant to be once again…”

I love that song!

This small interaction was most assuredly not an interruption to my worship. In fact, it was probably the most worshipful thing I did during the whole service.

What glorifies God more than his followers loving one another?

I’ll answer that one for you: nothing.

We definitely need our private times of worship. Do it daily, hourly, every moment of every day. But not when you’re together with the rest of the church. It’s not private there, it’s corporate.

If your worship is only for your benefit, I have to ask: who are you really worshiping?

I’m not really campaigning to bring back the “Meet & Greet” time. It needed to go away.

But not because it interrupts my worship.

Lloyd

 

 

 

Monday Picks ~ 5-22-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well..

The Beautiful, Necessary Distraction Of Corporate Worship David Santistevan
THE BEAUTIFUL, NECESSARYWe are misfits from many walks of life gathered under ONE NAME. We are sinners who’ve screwed up our lives, gathered under ONE CROSS where there is mercy. We are orphans embraced under ONE FATHER, now called sons and daughters.

We are the large, we are the small. We are the rich, we are the poor. We are the smart, we are the uneducated. We are the talented, we are the glossed over. We are the brilliant, we are the broken. We are the church.

And we need your voice in the corporate gathering. And you need that beautiful distraction in your life. It’s a fairy tale to only listen to Bethel records in the comfort of your home. Whether you like the songs or enjoy your band or not, you need Church. And the Church needs you…

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with closing your eyes and focusing on Jesus. No one will punish you for such an action. But corporate worship isn’t just about you and Jesus. You and Jesus can have devotions every day. Corporate worship is about being the Church.


Gotta Trust SomebodySamuel James
https://blogs.mereorthodoxy.com/samuel/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2017/05/7731975344_48d9130ce5_b.jpgTo make suspicion and distrust toward established, respected, and accountable sources of information your default orientation is to either put yourself at the mercy of other sources of information–which are probably just as biased and ideological as the sources you eschew, but biased in a direction you’re more OK with–or, even worse, it’s to make intuition and assumption your primary means of knowledge…

You’ve gotta trust somebody. Free market economics are far from perfect, but one thing to admire about the way America works is that even biased, slanted, ideological news outlets have to compete against each other for public trust, have to keep each other accountable, and have to abide by certain norms and incentives. To dismiss an entire arm of intellectual credentialism is to lose a lot of faith in the free market, really quickly. You’ve gotta trust somebody, and it can’t just be you.


This is a two part post from several years ago. It’s worth remembering…

Nobody Cares About Your Church (part one)Danny Franks
…it was in the middle of that discussion that I was hit with the cold, hard reality: nobody cares about our church

It’s not that they don’t care because they want to see the demise of your church.  In all likelihood, they don’t wish you any harm.  They don’t care because it’s just not on their radar.  The typical unchurched person in your community doesn’t scan the religious section on Saturday to see what’s going on at Second Baptist.  (“Look Martha! A Wild Game Dinner!  We gotta get in on that…”)

So what makes somebody care about your church?  That answer’s coming up in the next post.

Nobody Cares About Your Church (part two)Danny Franks
…most people who will attend your church will do so not because of a flyer, a marquee, or a newspaper ad.  They’ll do it because of relationship.  They’ll do it because a member of your church lent a hand, gave some money, bought some groceries, spoke a kind word, or personally shared the gospel.

And because they trust your people, they might try your church.

The people in your church are the best commercial for your church.  …[They] live what they believe in the community.  They serve without expectation of return.  They give generously when they know of a need.  They seek to bless others without an agenda.


Thirst Editions…
https://wronghands1.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/thirst-editions.jpg
Wrong Hands – Click image for a larger view.