Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What Is Your Purpose?

As with all illustrations, this does breakdown at some point, but this is an interesting way to understand purpose. Though not all are "paid" for their purpose, the aspiration to align these four broader categories in order to live in a purposeful way could be helpful.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Reflections on the Mars Hill Culture

As a former leader in Mars Hill Church Dave Kraft has some reflections here on what went wrong that lead to its recent demise and how we as pastors and planters can avoid some of these similar pitfalls in our leadership. Here's a good summary of his advice.

As l live my own life as a leader and as I coach other leaders, I am much more aware of doing what I can to make sure there is:

  • Good and genuine accountability, coupled with vulnerability and transparency.
  • A clear value in keeping short accounts, with sin being quickly confessed and owned.
  • An attitude of being teachable and open to new ideas and ways of thinking.
  • A culture of pacing that is realistic and sustainable, resulting in good morale and joy.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Did You Come Here to Die?

This article poses an interesting questions for planters to consider as they establish new churches. It's worth reading and pondering the whole article, but here's a quote.
It’s an intriguing exercise not only to ponder the answer, but to muse on why the Ghanaians would even ask the question. For them, did the credibility of the missionaries’ message depend on the willingness of the missionaries to give their whole life for its sake? It is a question that has pierced by heart, and agonised my soul, and pounded the treadmill of my mind more than any other. What if this was it? For life. All of it. Till death. What if the Lord asked me to give the whole of my life to model discipleship that perseveres until the very end?

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Advice for Pastors

Here's some really good advice from Eugene Peterson to his seminary students. A small quote is below, but you should read the whole thing here.

“I’d tell them that pastoring is not a very glamorous job. It’s a very taking-out-the-laundry and changing-the-diapers kind of job. And I think I would try to disabuse them of any romantic ideas of what it is. As a pastor, you’ve got to be willing to take people as they are. And live with them where they are. And not impose your will on them. Because God has different ways of being with people, and you don’t always know what they are."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Planting Churches, Planting the Gospel

I love this quote by J.A. Medders from this post on why we need to be about planting Gospel-centered churches.

The planting of gospel-centered churches, filled with gospel-centered people who live as grace-leaking, missional monsters as lights in the darkness, inviting the dead to come alive in Jesus Christ and to dwell in the Kingdom of God—that is the hope of your city and mine.

Our cities don’t need more shows. The movie theaters, stadiums, and Redboxes have that covered. Our cities don’t need the planting of services, but they need the missional going of Christians, our disciple-making, our witnessing—that’s church planting.

We have the power of God that makes demons shudder, that sets captives free, that can save a thief on the cross, that can comfort a prostitute, that can redeem a drunk, that can restore a religious hypocrite—that can fulfill all that we are looking for, made for—that power, that word, that name, that person is Jesus.

That is the number one missional strategy of the New Testament. Nothing has changed since Acts 28. We cannot improve upon what Dr. Luke has chronicled. And for us to put more weight behind any other strategy might be the most idiotic thing we could do. This strategy is old, normal, and completely supernatural.

And maybe, just maybe one day we’ll hear, “There is much joy in that city” (Acts 8:8).

(HT: J.A. Medders)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

EFCA Vision Statement Before and After

After unveiling the first version of the new EFCA vision statement during last year's national summit, the national leadership held scores of conversations with denominational leaders around the nation and world and today unveiled our updated version.

VERSION 1: From last year's summit.

We are praying that God would grant us one million disciplemakers impacting one hundred million people with the gospel along with one hundred million people with the gospel along with one hundred Acts 19 locations globally where the gospel is transforming whole cities and regions rather than simply a neighborhood. 

VERSION 2: From this year's summit.

We are praying that God will raise up one million disciplemakers impacting millions with the gospel and transforming entire cities and regions globally. 

Though I think the statement is missing the communal implication of the Gospel in forming churches,  I do think the updated vision is much clearer, easier to understand, and motivating. Though the forming of churches is not in the vision statement, it does continue to be a vital element in our mission statement, which guides our overall direction as a movement.

The EFCA exists to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Depression of a Pastor

Many pastors battle with depression. In light of this reality, I was greatly encouraged this morning reading the classic lecture given by C.H. Spurgeon entitled, "The Minister's Fainting Fits" which was part of a series of lectures given to seminary students. The lecture can be found at chapter 11 in this linked document. Below are a few of my favorite quotes:

Good men are promised tribulation in this world, and ministers may expect a larger share than others, that they may learn sympathy with the Lord’s suffering people, and so may be fitting shepherds of an ailing flock. Disembodied spirits might have been sent to proclaim the word, but they could not have entered into the feelings of those who, being in this body, do groan, being burdened; angels might have been ordained evangelists, but their celestial attributes would have disqualified them from having compassion on the ignorant; men of marble might have been fashioned, but their impassive natures would have been a sarcasm upon our feebleness, and a mockery of our wants. Men, and men subject to human passions, the all-wise God has chosen to be his vessels of grace; hence these tears, hence these perplexities and castings down....

Rest time is not waste time. It is economy to gather fresh strength....

My witness is, that those Who are honored of their Lord in public, have usually to endure a secret chastening, or to carry a peculiar cross, lest by any means they exalt themselves, and fall into the snare of the devil....

Should the power of depression be more than ordinary, think not that all is over with your usefulness. Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise and overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints. Live by the day — ay, by the hour. Put no trust in frames and feelings. Care more for a grain of faith than a ton of excitement. Trust in God alone, and lean not on the reeds of human help. Be not surprised when friends fail you: it is a failing world. Never count upon immutability in man: inconstancy you may reckon upon without fear of disappointment. The disciples of Jesus forsook him; be not amazed if your adherents wander away to other teachers: as they were not your all when with you, all is not gone from you with their departure. Serve God with all your might while the candle is burning, and then when it goes out for a season, you will have the less to regret. Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord. Set small store by present rewards; be grateful for earnests by the way, but look for the recompensing joy hereafter. Continue, with double earnestness to serve your Lord when no visible result is before you. Any simpleton can follow the narrow path in the light: faith’s rare wisdom enables us to march on in the dark with infallible accuracy, since she places her hand in that of her Great Guide. Between this and heaven there may be rougher weather yet, but it is all provided for by our covenant Head. In nothing let us be turned aside from the path which the divine call has urged us to pursue. Come fair or come foul, the pulpit is our watch-tower, and the ministry our warfare; be it ours, when we cannot see the face of our God, to trust UNDER THE SHADOW OF HIS WINGS.