Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Join Me!

Sojourn is hosting a Church Planting for the Rest of Us event. It's FREE and looks to be real good. Dustin's latest post states:

Though we already have some content established for our forum next week, we would like to know what YOU would want to know about church planting to allow us be as helpful as possible to church planters.

Hopefully you will be attending this FREE event in person, but even if you aren’t, if you are a church planter, or are working toward planting a church, and have a “burning question,” we would love to know what it is to help us “answer the questions people are asking” about church planting.

Feel free to begin posting your questions here now and tell your friends to do the same through your blog and Twitter.

Some of the best ones will doubtlessly influence our direction.

It’s not to late to sign up either!

Sojourn/Church Planting for the Rest of Us FREE Lunch Forum

Featuring Acts 29 Church Planters Dustin Neeley, Rick Long, Nick Nye, and Kevin Jamison.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

11 AM – 1 PM

930 Art Center

930 Mary Street
Louisville, KY

The event is FREE, but we need you to register to get a head count for lunch.

Register here and if you live in my area and would like to carpool, let me know!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Got Our Number

In high school, nothing sounded as painful as Probability and Statistics Class. I would just as soon walk down to the shop and drink a pitcher full of sawdust. My distaste was probably a combination of totally maxing out with Trig & Pre-cal, but also for the fact that I tend to shy away from most record keeping involving numbers. It just seems that issues of the Kingdom are not usually assessed with numbers and figures.

This caused me to be very suspicious of Ed Stetzer. Why would anyone in ministry want to spend their time looking at numbers? And how in the world could that benefit the church?

I have recently come to really appreciate Stetzer's ministry and particularly his teaching. As an evidence, consider a wonderful article by Stetzer for Christianity Today.

He lays out how statistics are often misused and misunderstood. He also exposes the panic and conclusions that are often made which are contrary to gospel truth. Of course, most stats used in Christian publications paint a picture of a bleak and dying church. However, Stetzer reminds us:

Reports of Christianity's demise in America have been greatly exaggerated. While the main thrust of good research does indicate that the percentage of Americans who self-identify as Christians is declining, these data are not necessarily a bad thing. If three out of four Americans call themselves Christians, we are in big trouble. Three out of four Americans certainly do not live like Christians. Christianity becomes confused when everyone is a Christian but no one is following Christ. We evangelicals believe that most Americans do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Is the church dying? I wouldn't count on it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Say No to Deodorant

They said to them, "May the LORD look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh's sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us."--Exodus 5:21

What was Moses' crime? How did he make the Hebrews odious in Pharaoh's sight?

He had the nerve to obey the LORD and ask Pharaoh for permission to observe a feast in the wilderness.

Now, fast-forward through all the plagues (except the plague of the first-born) and consider a commandment God gives to the Moses:

"Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold."--Exodus 11:2

The response?

Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people.--Exodus 11:3b

The reason?

The LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians.--Exodus 11:3a

I am by no means advocating that we intentionally act in an offensive way. However, in an era when so much blame is passed on believers when they are not received well by unbelievers, we must remember the reception is in the hands of the LORD.

Beloved, you smell. But please don't try to cover it up:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?--2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Friday, January 8, 2010

Faithful to Martyrdom?

If you are like me, you've read the accounts of martyrs today and wondered, Would my faith be so strong? I remember reading the Martyrdom of Polycarp and being amazed by his strong reliant faith. Of course, the legacy of martyrs in the church begins with Stephen, who was clearly filled with the Spirit at the time of his execution. However, reading in Acts, we also see that filling marked Stephen's life in the "little things" as well. He was identified as a good candidate for deacon because he was one who was filled with the Spirit. We prepare for the call to martyrdom by learning to be faithful in the small things in life.

Steve Timmins shared a few thoughts on such faithfulness recently on his twitter account. They were too good to not share, but I didn't want to just retweet them, so they appear here instead:

How can I be sure I would lay down my life for sake of Jesus & the gospel? Perhaps I'll be like Peter in his bravado and subsequent denial? Can't ultimately be sure until I'm called on to do so. But there are indicators in what I am reluctant to give up...

    If I'm not prepared to give up my bed to go and serve someone, I can be fairly confident I won't give up my life...
    If I refuse to give up a holiday abroad so I can support someone in gospel ministry. I can be fairly confident I won't give up my life...
    If I'm not willing to pursue people who are different from me in order to bless them, I can be failry certain I won't give up my life...
    If I'm not prepared to miss out on promotion so I can stay & help plant churches, I can be fairly certain I won't give up my life...
    If I'm not prepared to jeopardise a friendship so that I can tell others about Christ, I can be fairly certain I won't give up my life.
May God grant us faithfulness in the small things as well as the large!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Review: Trellis and the Vine

The Trellis and the Vine
The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything
by Colin Marshall & Tony Payne
Ⓒ2009, Matthias Media
196 pages

Almost every ministry book seems to be endorsed by a number of prominent pastors, so I rarely buy a book simply off the recommendations. But this book caught my eye, not only for the names that recommended the book, but also for the type of comments they made. These weren't the typical, "these guys have written the perfect book that makes ministry flourish while you sit back and do nothing" kind of prescription. These ministers acknowledged that the work is hard and mind-shifting, yet Biblical and gospel-centered. Some even acknowledged that these men wrote a book that describes their ministry philosophy.

So, I read it.

Ever read a book that so resonates with what you were thinking, yet says it in such a better way and develops it further than you ever dreamt that you almost feel like there is no way you were previously thinking any of it? As I read, I kept highlighting and silently "amen-ing" (and sometimes not silently). Yet the authors experience, Biblical framework and organization so far surpasses anything I've thought on my own that it almost feels silly to say you agree. Sort of like a guy who designs a new abacus trying to take credit for IBM. Sure, I've thought about leadership development and how ministry is about people, not programs, but not like these guys.

Absolutely loved this book! Praying that Grace will love the effects as we move forward to the glory of Christ! And perhaps by His grace, some of it will look like what the Trellis & the Vine illustrates.

If you are a pastor, read it an implement it. If you are not a pastor, read it and help your pastor implement it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Charting the Course

One thing that fascinates me about the glory of God is the absolute diversity of His creation. Not only are there amazing types of animals and plants, but even by those stamped with His own image, there is amazing diversity. I'm always amazed by those who have minds built for charts, grids and columns. (My mind just doesn't work in this way.) I also praise God for the grace He gives people, for I know my scattered approach is not a joy for very many.

I was reminded of my inability to really chart things well when I recently saw a chart from Graeme Goldworthy on Justin Taylor's blog. Though I know the story line, I started at the chart for quite a while trying to figure out what it was saying. (And to be honest, don't think I have figured it out yet!)

However, charts may not be the problem, for I found this one by this one by Tim Stevens to be quite simple:

(Of course, I also noted the need to add Maid-rites to the chart!)

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 Great Questions

Justin Taylor has a great post from Don Whitney where he asks 10 Questions to ask at the start of a New Year:

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?

3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?

8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Whitney includes 21 more you can ask here.