Thinking Out Loud

March 22, 2014

Servants and Leaders

This is the third time around for this particular article, but it seems especially fitting for the current spiritual climate. The author is Brant Hansen who wrote this when he was working for WAY-FM, and now works for Air1 Radio.

LeaderMan vs. Servant Leader

I’ve had some people say, effectively, “Dude, you critique leadership, but don’t you think you’re leading people, too? Aren’t you worried about that?”

Nah. Not really. Shoot, I’m honored if I’m allowed to lead somebody, if I have an influential role in someone’s life. We need leadership — properly understood, the Jesus-type of “leadership” — like crazy. What we don’t need is the type of leadership I satirize.

We don’t need any more of “LeaderMan”. What we need are servant leaders, men and women who are gifted for leadership, whom people naturally follow, who point those people toward Jesus alone, our Teacher.

Granted, as always, I may not know what I’m talking about. But below are some off-the-top-of-the-head attempts at distinguishing one from the other.


Servant Leader: Has something to say

LeaderMan: Wants a platform on which to say something


LeaderMan: You almost feel you know his family, because he’s your Leader

Servant Leader: You allow him to influence you, because you know his family


LeaderMan: Wants you to know he’s a Leader

Servant Leader: You’re not sure he knows he’s a leader


LeaderMan: Loves the idea of the Gospel, and the idea of The Church

Servant Leader: Loves God and the actual individual people God brings across his path


LeaderMan: A great speaker, but self-described as, “Not really a people person.”

Servant Leader: Makes himself a people person


LeaderMan: Helps you find where God is leading you in his organization

Servant Leader: Helps you find where God is leading you


LeaderMan: Gets together with you to talk about his vision

Servant Leader: Just gets together with you


LeaderMan: Resents “sheep stealing”

Servant Leader: Doesn’t get the “stealing” part, since he doesn’t own anyone to begin with


LeaderMan: Wants the right people on the bus

Servant Leader: Wants to find the right bus for you, and sit next to you on it


Servant Leader: Shows you his whole heart

LeaderMan: Shows you a flow chart


LeaderMan: A visionary who knows what the future looks like

Servant Leader: Knows what your kitchen looks like


LeaderMan: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing with excellence

Servant Leader: Not exactly sure how to even calculate “worth doing”


LeaderMan: Talks about confronting one another in love

Servant Leader: Actually confronts you in love


LeaderMan: Impressed by success and successful people

Servant Leader: Impressed by faithfulness


LeaderMan: Invests time in you, if you are “key people”

Servant Leader: Wastes time with you


LeaderMan: Reveals sins of his past

Servant Leader: Reveals sins of his present


LeaderMan: Gives you things to do

Servant Leader: Gives you freedom


LeaderMan: Leads because of official position

Servant Leader: Leads in spite of position


LeaderMan: Deep down, threatened by other Leaders

Servant Leader: Has nothing to lose

March 4, 2014

Churches Feed on Fresh Blood

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 8:37 am

The title of today’s piece may seem a bit dark and that’s not the intention. What I want to do here is make an observation that I believe applies more in the small(er) church environment, but may also manifest itself if you worship with a greater number of people.

Local church volunteersChurches love new people.

That’s not a bad thing. Especially if somehow, despite the potential obstacles and blockages, people who have no previous church background, or have been away from God for a long time suddenly show up on Sunday morning. Without smothering them, we should certainly let them know that we’re glad they came and do everything we can to retain them as attendees.

But churches can be especially affectionate toward people who transfer from other congregations, especially if they have a gift-set they bring with them. They are quickly fast-tracked to the front of the line for service opportunities like Disney tourists with a Fast Pass.

I say this not out of resentment, because my wife and I have been that fresh blood several times; mostly together but sometimes one and not the other and vice versa. At one church’s annual meeting, a woman stood up and asked, “So, can anyone just walk in off the street and get a job here?” She was referring to me. The chairman wisely called for the coffee break to convene at that exact moment.

(After the break I was then asked to explain my previous experience and detail the eight-page questionnaire that the denomination required; a form which establishes personal testimony and doctrinal beliefs.)

But I’ve also seen it happen where senior church leadership is quite happy to fawn all over people who arrive from other assemblies with the requisite pedigree to be thrust immediately into high-profile positions. And I’ve seen those same people decide, six months in, that this wasn’t the right church after all and disappear as quickly as they arrived. They might have decided this sooner had they not been put to work so quickly.

The bottom line here is to know that this phenomenon exists and, insofar as it depends on you, try not to promote the feeding frenzy to extremes. It’s great to work with new people and allow them to get involved and share their gifts, but it’s also important to give newcomers time to settle in and get to know the tenor of a local church’s ministry.

February 26, 2014

Wednesday Link List

Chocolate Pope - NBC News Photo

The link list knows no borders, so you won’t find any gloating about Canada’s Olympic hockey wins here. Click anything below and you’ll be redirected to PARSE, the blog of Leadership Journal, a ministry of Christianity Today; then click each link there.

If you’re not busy this week snapping up Son of God movie tickets, you can check out Paul Wilkinson’s other writing at Thinking Out Loud.

"Jonah Leaving the Whale" by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1600

“Jonah Leaving the Whale” by Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1600

January 22, 2014

Wednesday Link List


So, if you’re following the saga, sometime in late June we agreed to make the Wednesday Link List part of Out of Ur, which is part of Leadership Journal, which is part of Christianity Today, which was founded by Carl F. Henry, who was not related to Buck Henry. But then, last weekend, Leadership Journal officially rolled out PARSE which is where each of the links below takes you… you can click through from there.

To celebrate our first official PARSE column, we bring you both quality and quantity this week…

Link sleuth Paul Wilkinson is also available to DJ your next youth group meeting or help you herd your cats. He writes these little disclaimers at the end of the list for CT/PARSE readers and sometimes forgets to remove them here.

Trouble reading this? We’re experimenting with leaving out the “<big>” tag on each line for the first time; but if it’s small for ya, we’ll update midday. This classic blog theme has a default that’s somewhat miniscule.

Our closing graphic is from a collection of 30 mean letters written by kids.

Dear Uncle Bryan

January 20, 2014

The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades

For several months, the book’s working title was Tomorrowland.

Eventually, it was ruled that ‘The Mouse’ would never stand for that, and so the title of Skye Jethani’s third book became Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow, and while another Disney property, EPCOT, is mentioned, the major motif in Futureville is the great promise that was held out for mankind in general, and America in particular in the 1939 World’s Fair.

Futureville - Skye JethaniWhile Jethani is not entirely a household name in the Christian community, his voice is as unique as his ability to weave a subject — in The Divine Commodity it was the art and life of Vincent Van Gogh — into his writing as an ongoing talking point. The middle book of the current three takes a different approach; elsewhere I described his book With as The Preposition Proposition.  His audience is widening through friend Phil Vischer’s podcast, but he is probably best known for his work on Christianity Today’s Leadership Journal, and its highly ranked blog, Out of Ur, relaunched this past weekend as PARSE.  As I’ve said elsewhere — and in reference to other authors — I think his books are best enjoyed after you’ve had exposure to some visual media; some clips are currently available at his blog Skyebox.

The premise of Futureville is that “our vision of the future is what determines how we understand the present. In a very real sense today is defined by tomorrow… what lies ahead.” The book looks at the wide arc of Biblical history through a lens that is both somewhat philosophical and agnostic-friendly. This is a title that meets the giveaway criteria.

He also offers some fresh insights for insiders. Example: We tend to think of the Biblical narrative beginning in a garden and ending in a return to a garden (which owes more to Crosby, Stills and Nash) while in fact the story ends in a city. If you live in Philadelphia or Detroit or Gary, Indiana, the idea of city may suggest that perhaps God could do better. But Jethani uncovers the rationale behind the imagery.

Social activism, environmentalism, politics, etc. all come under the microscope as does the effect current affairs have on shaping theology. Yes, the Bible can be thought of as somewhat clear on matters, but theological thought trends in ways not unlike celebrity fixations on Twitter. We may know what the text says, but the book points out the ways in which the capital ‘C’ Church will spin it differently and slowly drift from its mission.

Much of the book’s purpose is to help refocus us by freshly acquainting ourselves with the key images of scripture and of worship, and to re-purpose us to realigning our priorities. In many respects, Futureville is prescriptive, it gives the Church a mandate for 2014 not unlike Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock did for a broader society in 1970. While parts of Futureville may leave you disturbed, overall, the book offers assurance that God has orchestrated things to lead toward a conclusion of his choosing, and one that, to borrow from Jeremiah, offers us a future and a hope.

October 16, 2013

Perry Noble’s Eight Questions for Pastors

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:47 am

Perry Noble posted this in January, 2009 as a series of four blog posts. I thought he made some great points that should be preserved somewhere as a continuous text, so I created this as a ‘page’ here, but now that we’re doing some blog maintenance, it needs to be moved. Rather than simply bury it under an old date, I thought I would allow it run again as a fresh piece. I do realize Perry is quite controversial in some circles, but I still felt this article had merit.

Eight Questions I Believe Pastors Should Wrestle With

by Perry Noble

The further along I get into this pastor gig…the less answers I have & the more questions that I ask. Recently I made a list of eight questions I feel like I always need to keep in front of me…its helping me and I pray it may do the same for others.

#1 – “What if this Sunday was the last sermon I ever got to preach?”

Dear pastor, STOP…and read that again. Think about it…wrestle with it, seriously, allow that question to consume you for the rest of the day.

If THIS SUNDAY were the last time the Lord allowed you to preach…what would you say? How would you say it? What fear would you let go of? (Hmm…maybe someone needs to scrap the sermon they had originally planned for this Sunday & just go for it!)

Two weeks ago I made the decision that I am going to preach every sermon like it is my last…because…reality is I don’t know when my last sermon is going to be…and I don’t want to EVER leave the platform full of regret.

My prayer every Sunday is that God will absolutely set me on fire…and that I will speak clearly and full of conviction. Galatians 1:10 is very real to me…and I want to honor Jesus by saying everything I feel like He’s put in me to say.

Pastor…if Jesus puts it in you…you’ve got to speak it…otherwise you are “burying your talent,” and all of us know how that story ends!

One more thing…the goal of a message like this should be to lead the sheep…not beat them. Just something to keep in mind.

#2 – Am I waiting on God to do something for me that He has clearly asked me to do?

Let me be very clear…the term “waiting on God” really ticks me off because…well…it basically says, “I am so fast that I outran God…and now I am waiting on the Almighty to catch me!”

Uh…that has NEVER happened!

We don’t wait on God…He waits on us! (By the way…He’s outside of time…He doesn’t have to wait!)

So many pastors use the term “waiting on God” in order to remain passive in their leadership decisions. It may work with others…but not so much with Him!

I was reading the book of Joshua the other morning when God told Joshua, “Hey man, the land is yours…but I am not going to ‘do it all’ for you…you’ve got to TAKE IT!” Joshua was NOT waiting on God…but rather had to get to a place where He could embrace all that God has planned for him before he was even born.
Pastors…leadership requires that we take action, not be passive and hope that by some miracle that God will handle the situation that He has given us clear direction on.

God told Joshua to go in and take the land…and went ahead of him as he moved in obedience to God’s direction…and He expects the same from us as well.
When we “wait” on things to happen…we play defense…and God has called us to play offense.

#3 – Am I willing to make uncomfortable decisions?

One of the things I have discovered in leadership is that LOTS of people can identify the problem, talk about it, discuss it, pray about it…HOWEVER, there are VERY FEW PEOPLE who are usually willing to actually DO SOMETHING about the problem…

…BECAUSE…stepping up and being the leader OFTEN means we are willing to embrace the fact that God is going to require us to embrace uncomfortable situations.

This question really stood out to me the other day when I read Joshua 5:1-3. Let me ask you a question…do you REALLY think the guys were excited when Joshua dropped this bit of information on them? Do you think THIS was the picture of leadership Joshua had always dreamed of?

NOPE…but, Joshua clearly heard from God, was willing to be unpopular…and God honored his obedience.

One of the WORSE things we could ever embrace is a passion for being comfortable in leadership. Leaders make tough calls…period.

#4 – Am I pursuing God’s heart?

One of the things I’ve been asking of God lately is that He would allow the things that bother Him to bother me.

WARNING…do NOT pray that unless you are SERIOUS. He’s messing me up right now…and revealing Himself to me in ways that are absolutely blowing my mind.

I cannot be a good leader of others unless I am a passionte follower of Jesus…and to REALLY pursue Him means that I am begging Him for HIS agenda rather than trying to convince Him to buy into mine.

NewSpring is HIS church…not mine. I am a steward, NOT an owner. The church is HIS Bride…not mine. And the things that keep me up at night with worry…if I will just make it my passion to seek Him I will begin to understand that HE’S GOT IT ALL FIGURED OUT…HE’S NEVER WORRIED ABOUT NEWSPRING, so neither should I!

This peace ONLY comes as a result of seeking His heart.

#5 – Am I trying to do this alone?

One of the things I’ve tried to do quite unsuccessfully in the past is solo ministry…thinking that I really didn’t need the help of God or others.

STOP…no pastor would admit they would try to do ministry without God…but here’s a question…how much personal time do you spend in the word…sermon prep NOT included.

In order for me to lead publically I need to have a passion to meet with Him privately as often as I can.

AND…pastors, we need the help of others! We will never be able to do EVERYTHING in our church well…and we should stop trying. God uniquely designed you for a purpose…and when we embrace trying to do everything we often wind up accomplishing nothing.

I used to HATE asking people to do things because I falsly assumed that because I hated doing something that others would hate doing it as well…until I heard Andy Stanley talk about how there are people who actually LOVE to do the tasks that I can’t stand. (Organizing, etc.)

Pastors…there are people all around you just waiting on you to ask them to do what you hate to do. They know you are horrible at it…they’re praying that you will stop!!! SO…ask for God’s help…and embrace Ephesians 4:11-12 and get others involved as well.

#6 – Do I care more about my sermon for this Sunday…or the people who will hear it?

This one FLOORED me because…there have been times that I crafted the “perfect sermon” and completely forgot about the people who were going to hear it.

Pastors…we are called to honor God by giving Him our best. (II Timothy 2:15) And we should desire to preach great sermons…but our passion should be for the people that hear them to be transformed by the Gospel…and for their lives to be radically different.

People MATTER to God…the sermon MATTERS to God, but it should NEVER be our goal to hear “great sermon pastor” at the expense of us forgetting to love and lead the very people whom God tells us we will be held accountable for.

BOTH MUST MATTER…one does not have to be sacrificed for the other…just something the Lord is teaching me.

#7 – Am I being faithful or looking for a formula?

REALLY need to spend some time here! In the fall of 2002 our church grew from 504 to 1,600 in a period of six weeks. In 2006 our church went from averaging 4,000 a weekend in the spring to averaging around 8,000 a weekend in the fall.

When I tell pastors and church leaders that they all ask the same question, “What did you do?” (After all, God probably had NOTHING to do with it, right?)

SO MANY pastors out there want a formula to make their church grow…and so they hop from conference to conference trying to figure out what might work rather than BEGGING God for a white hot vision that will change the community that they are in.
Here’s the deal…we didn’t “do” anything during those amazing times of growth. (We did move into a new facility in 2006…but still didn’t expect that type of growth!!!) We didn’t launch a new program. We didn’t really change anything…we just simply kept doing the vision God gave us week in and week out…and He blew us away as a result.

My job as a pastor is NOT to find the latest, greatest church growth methods…but rather to be completely faithful and obedient to the vision God has poured inside of me.

One more thing…yes, we SHOULD go to conferences…we should learn as much as we can from others…however, our leadership should be DOMINATED by REVELATION from God rather than INSPIRATION from others.

#8 – Am I trying to be the Messiah in my church…or lead them to the REAL ONE? Pastors…STOP trying to be perfect.

Our goal should be to make much of Jesus…and that means embracing John 3:30 and, at times, being honest with our people about our trials and struggles.

People can identify way more with our mistakes than they can our successes. AND they don’t need US to be the Messiah…but rather to LEAD them to Jesus.

Paul was honest with his struggle in Romans 7:15-20…we should always be willing to be honest as well.

My church doesn’t need me to be their hero…they need to know about Christ and how, without Him, I would be completely screwed when it comes to life and eternity.

One more thing…I am NOT saying to confess your sins every Sunday to your church…what I am saying is don’t be afraid to tell them about the time you were insensitive to your wife, you got angry when someone cut you off in traffic, the seasons with which you struggled with porn…

Leading with integrity is embracing honesty! We should always use our weaknesses to point others to Christ’s strength.

One more thing…when you do talk about your struggles you will have people criticize you. Just remember that when that happens people usually find delight in finding fault in others so they don’t have to deal with their own mess. They want you to be perfect…but they are not perfect…which makes them a hypocrite. Love them through it and always be honest!

Perry Noble
Senior Pastor, NewSpring Church, Anderson SC

October 9, 2013

Wednesday Link List

Christ the Redeemer Statue


A big shout out this week to the people who track me down and submit link suggestions. Weekly deadline is 6:00 PM Eastern on Mondays.  To view clickable links for all that follows, read the Wednesday Link List at Out of Ur.

  • Although this movie trailer was posted in May, it was new to me: Coming in January, 2014 a movie about singer/songwriter Rich Mullins, aptly titled Ragamuffin…
  • …and a more recently posted trailer for a documentary exploring “the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality,” with interviews with “a dozen leading theologians and progressive thinkers.” The 7-part DVD series is titled Painting The Stars.
  • It’s not just a Catholic problem; a group is actively protesting to push for the ordination of Mormon women.
  • Just weeks before his formal installation, the President of the American Bible Society announces that the Board of Trustees has “brought [his] service to a close.”
  • “Christians in the Middle East are hostages in the hands of Islamic forces.” “Many of Israel’s Christians feel that their history, culture and heritage have been hijacked by Muslim Arabs in the region.” Read more at this report from a recent conference.
  • Sometimes in the quest to free ourselves from the constraints of religion, we discover we’ve simply immersed ourselves in a different form of religion.
  • Thanks to Canadian blogger Michael Bell, I was finally able to track down data on megachurches in Canada, a much shorter list than its U.S. counterpart.
  • 1-Source, a collaboration of four Christian publishing companies will offer titles by established authors like Bill Myers and Brandilyn Collins, as well as self-publishing.
  • David and Goliath becomes the theme of a TED Talk, but this explanation of the story is a little different from the one we know.
  • Essay of the Week: From right here at Christianity Today, Andy Crouch on the power we confer to those in church leadership and why it matters.
  • Find of the Week: Christian cartoonist Wes Molebash whose adventures with JP and Miles at the fictional Paper City Church make up the comic Insert Image.
  • Retort of the Week: Russell D. Moore responds to Pope Francis’ recent interview with an Italian journalist and the danger severing the love of God from the holiness of God…
  • …while Shane Claiborne remembers the original Francis.
  • There is so much to read at the blog of Samantha Field that it’s hard to just link to one post, but here’s 15 things you shouldn’t say to a recovering Fundamentalist.
  • Apologetics in part involves responding to Christianity’s critics, and these are some interesting responses.
  • One year ago at this time, I was crusading to get a classic book on the history of teaching about the Holy Spirit put back in print.
  • Typology: “So [Mommy/Daddy], [was/is] [name of prominent figure] a good guy or a bad guy?” Sometimes the answer is a bit of both. (Tangent: Check out the blogroll on this one.)
  • Not only does a portrait of Jesus have to be removed, but an Ohio school district has to pay the ACLU’s $80,000 in legal costs.
  • Ecclesia Church in Houston, Texas is producing a number of quality videos to go along with a dramatic reading of chapters in Genesis.
  • I think this was more common in a previous generation, but why not today? Praying for your children’s future spouses.
  • In some conservative Christian circles, the phrase “Guard your heart,” has an entirely different spin with consequences the writer of Proverbs never intended.
  • Jamie The Very Worst Goodwill Ambassador articulates her ambivalence after a tour with World Vision.
  • In the spirit of what’s termed Paul-Timothy relationships, Donald Miller suggests you should take your cues from people notably older than yourself, not your peers.
  • She “is a girl, just like you and me, who made a mistake. She knows when you are talking about her. She knows when you are looking at her and judging her.” An insider look at birth-mothers.
  • Don’t roll your eyes, but it’s one more Arminianism vs. Calvinism comparison.
  • For Italians, the name Simone Saltarelli denotes both a well known motorcyclist and a figure in Catholic church history.
  • The 2013 Catalyst Conference, as covered by the hometown newspaper, or more relevant details at Christianity Today.
  • Lost Song of the Week: Standin’ in the Need of Prayer by Deitrick Haddon and the Voices of Unity; a flashback to 2004.
  • Christianity Meets Culture: A blog featuring “reviews and news on the board gaming industry from a ministry point of view.” Not surprisingly, it’s called Theology of Games.
  • And then there’s this graphic which I’m sure you have use for, but I wasn’t sure how to introduce it. (What’s an .svg file anyway?)
  • Back on the comic front, nearly seven years and more than 1,100 panels later, the UK’s Jon Birch is still cartooning at ASBO Jesus.
  • Finally, a story for which I’ll quote the entire first paragraph, so you know I’m not making this up: “The Robertson clan from A&E’s reality show Duck Dynasty, will release a Christmas album called “Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas” on October 29, featuring several top country stars.”

Link curator Paul Wilkinson blogs daily here and Tweets as inspiration strikes at @PaulW1lk1nson (or is “at @” a redundancy?)

Peace - Rob Bell

September 25, 2013

Wednesday Link List


Wednesday List Lynx

Wednesday List Lynx

The links are at the post… They’re off! (A bad mash up of blogging and horse-racing.) (You should never have to explain the humor.)  Click through to read these links at Out of Ur, the blog of Leadership Journal.

  • Why do Christian college and university educations get so expensive? Here’s a detailed explanation from someone who knows.
  • In an effort to emphasize “values not rules,” staff at Moody Bible Institute, and subsidiaries like Moody Publishing can now consume alcohol, but rules remain strict for students.
  • Jon Acuff took the platform he earned blogging at Stuff Christians Life into a job with America’s best known Christian financial planner, Dave Ramsay. Then, suddenly, he announced he’s leaving that job.
  • Video of the Week: Flagrant Regard is back, this time with a wild take on an old hymn that’s actually based on an idea my son came up with. You just might recognize the tune.
  • Essay of the Week: A Reformed blogger wants to show a distinction between those who consider themselves Reformed and the more prevalent perception of what is usually called Calvinism.
  • Too many pastors know the story of George, who frequently gets invited out for an attack lunch.
  • Does your church have a children’s sermon in the middle of the worship time? Perhaps you can learn from a popular AT&T television ad campaign.
  • Some Baptist Churches are abandoning sponsorship of the Boy Scouts, and are instead supporting the newly formed Trail Life USA.
  • Lee Grady thinks it’s good for several reasons that judges chose an Indian-American Miss America.
  • Sometimes the questions people have aren’t the ones we expect. For example this pastor is asked, Why do we say Amen at the end of prayers? (The answer includes a couple of times not to.)
  • Question of the Week: Should sporting events preempt church services?
  • I’d seen this two-minute video before, but appreciated Michael Hyatt’s reminder of The Power of Words.
  • An article I hope you never need but might want to bookmark: How to minister to the parents of a stillborn or miscarried child.
  • For only $777.00 and a new pair of spandex pants, you can attend the first ever fan weekend hosted by the band Stryper.
  • This Eschatology primer not only provides definitions, but suggests which favorite Bible teachers fit into which end-times-view camp.
  • A Tennessee judge rules that a child in that state can keep the name Messiah after all, overturning a lower court decision. (Will his friends call him ‘Messy’?)
  • In what is no doubt an often repeated story in North America, a church in New Brunswick, Canada tells a gay 20-year old he can no longer volunteer in their children’s ministry…
  • …While across the continent, a philosophy professor at Azusa Pacific University is dismissed after he comes out as transgendered.
  • Deep Bible Study Department: For all of you who find this column shallow and superficial, does the “I am the Bread of Life” passage in John 6 have a sacramental application, i.e. to the Lord’s Supper?
  • Two years later, Christianity Today — parent to this Out of Ur blog — wraps up its This is Our City feature with a visit to New York City.
  • Marijuana. That’s what caused the Colorado floods. Just sayin’.
  • Skeptics are somewhat … skeptical about a Charismatic Bible teacher’s claim to have witnessed the restoring of a cheek bone lost in an accident.
  • A Seventh Day Adventist Church in Las Cruces, New Mexico is in trouble with the city for failing to comply with an ordinance requiring churches to have business permits.
  • On both sides of the Atlantic, churches wrestle with how to deal with the situation arising when someone presents a new idea or concept.
  • An Anglican bishop in Wellington, New Zealand challenges high income earners to consider salary cuts.
  • Finally, at my own blogs, a look at worship hand-raising; and, when we say “God spoke to me,” there are different ways this can take place, each with different degrees of fallibility.

Paul Wilkinson is available to speak at your next battleship christening, or if you prefer, follow him on Twitter.

3 months to Christmas

September 4, 2013

Wednesday Link List


It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a link list without any links!  To see the interactive page, click over to Out of Ur.

The interwebs were moving slower over the Labor Day weekend — and we stepped outside our rolling 30 day window — but hopefully what we lack in quantity this week we make up for in quality…

  • A pastor leading a Financial Peace University course realized that along with everybody he was teaching, he and his wife needed to create a budget.
  • “In the Church…”  is the definitive blog post for anybody who finds themselves planted squarely in The Church, but at the same time wanting to distance themselves.
  • In most jurisdictions, kids need to be vaccinated to attend school, but if they’re home schooled… Furthermore, if immunization is dismissed for fear of autism, is spreading measles a valid trade-off? (Also, a related opinion piece at Religion Dispatches.)
  • Yes, you can write a song. Here’s a primer on the form and structure of modern worship compositions.
  • Essay of the Week: Perhaps instead of looking at the five points of Calvinism as dry doctrine, we should think of TULIP as a narrative.
  • There’s always been a campus version of The Alpha Course, but now a Canadian group has completed Alpha Youth, scheduled for January release across North America.
  • So exactly what can be extrapolated “just because the bloggers of the Gospel Coalition happen to be in agreement with Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe and authoritarian Russian boss Vladimir Putin”?
  • Considering we usually think the ethnic churches have it all covered, it’s interesting to read an article concerned with the ‘white church’ looking for a Latino evangelism game plan.
  • Carlos Whitaker has five or six things he wishes worship leaders would stop saying, followed by 200 more reader suggestions.  (Somewhat related quotation.)
  • It’s small group start-up time again, making this the link you should most want to forward this week.
  • Flashback – One year ago: Psalm 42 in the Pirate translation.
  • Jamie The Very Worst Author talks about a book project that is apparently having trouble getting off the ground.
  • Niche blogging reaches new heights of narrowcasting (Oops! Mixed visual image) with the blog edition of Bearded Gospel Men. Possibly related piece at Christianity Today.
  • Interview of the Week: A Vancouver, Canada journalist talks to Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove about intentional, New Monasticism communities.
  • A Mormon websites trumpets the new stat that a majority of Latter Day Saints now live outside Canada and the U.S, where the religion began.
  • The artist who gave us the 2011 song “Blessings” (and “Indescribable”), Laura Story has a new album on the way.
  • Here’s a blog archive ‘find’ from earlier this year at Adorate: You hear a lot about ‘sheep stealing,’ but not so much about ‘shepherd stealing,’ or ‘pastor prostitution.’
  • It’s a frequently covered topic, but if you’ve got time, this is one of the better articles on taking a social media fast.
  • At a blog for pastors’ wives, a book promo video for Speak Love also becomes a lesson in journalism for Pete Wilson’s son Gage Wilson. (The Zondervan book by Annie Downs sounds good, too.)
  • Just in case you’ve never heard the music of Johnnyswim, enjoy Heartbeats.
  • We leave you with this weekend Tweet from Church Curmudgeon: “Headed over to the seminary barbecue this afternoon. Otherwise known as casting a pig into a herd of D. Mins.”

Hope you enjoyed today’s selection. Our goal is to celebrate people you know and people blogging in relative obscurity. Suggestions accepted by 5:00 EST through the contact page.

Peanuts on Theology

August 3, 2013

Who Plays “Supply Teacher” At Your Church?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:39 am

Preaching - Cake or DeathI’ve mentioned before that I have my feet firmly planted in two different churches.

This summer, the one church is repeating something they started last year where some of the (mostly) younger people in the church are being given a chance to step up and preach the Sunday morning sermon. It’s a great opportunity for these guys (and one woman) to hone their Bible study and leadership skills. As a group, they’ve studied sermon development and have done some practice teaching for each other. The results are usually spectacular: Great messages with both background and application.

The other church is entering into a couple of weeks with the pastor away. They have a list of usual suspects who do pulpit supply, but it seems like both ordination and ministry credentials are required. The pastor prizes education of all kinds; and you are much more greatly esteemed simply by taking a course. As someone committed to lifelong learning, I think courses are most helpful, but unfortunately what I do here online is informal and carries no similar recognition. In this church there is also a smaller pool of potential candidates, but certainly several who are capable.

Meanwhile, back at the first church, they are about half-way through the summer schedule, and while I celebrate what they’re doing, the execution of the plan there is — with a couple of exceptions — somewhat guilty of ageism. Most of the participants are under 35, if not 30. That’s the target. This church is fairly large, and growing, and the list is significant not only for who it includes but who it leaves out.

At North Point Community Church in Atlanta, Andy Stanley is constantly developing a roster of younger leaders. But when he is away — as he has been this summer — the sense you get is that despite the modern mega-church’s penchant for marginalizing older people, his pulpit supply list reflects a mix of ages, and doesn’t skew as young as the one in our town does.

In some ways I can’t complain. I have actually spoken at that church on Sunday morning over a dozen times when I was on staff there, and have spoken twice at the second church. But it frustrates me beyond belief to think that perhaps those opportunities from a previous decade may never return.

Mid-life crisis defined, perhaps?

I was torn with what to do tomorrow, but decided to help out my wife’s worship team at the second church; even though I’d really like to hear what the young man does at the first church. I’ve seen him in a couple of ministry situations, and I know it will be excellent.

It’s just hard to be sidelined, and realize that a generation of newcomers doesn’t really know who I am and what I am capable of. I guess I simply recognize my gift of teaching, and as time slips away, hate to see it under-utilized. But really, it’s more than a desire to be “the guy at the front of the room,” what I call a “gift of teaching” is more a “passion for sharing.” I wrote here about how I like to introduce people to ideas and resources they might never have considered, and with each passing day, I feel I’m better equipped to do this than I was the day before. 


But while I want to celebrate what a particular doing is to foster the next generation of leadership, this is also a lament that more churches aren’t doing the same. Many people are greatly strengthened through sermon preparation. They need to be doing such things, or similar things, and your church needs to hear them share their gifts and ministry.

So what about your church? Especially those of you in small(er) church settings: Who fills in when the pastor is on vacation? What is being done to help lay-people mobilize their spiritual gifts?

Image: Cake or Death (click to link)

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