Monday, May 20, 2013
Books by Darrin Patrick here.
Books by Thom Rainer:
I love hearing stories of hope. Instead of waiting for the stories to come to me, I recently interviewed 19 pastors whose churches had moved from struggling to breakout. All of the pastors had been in the church at least four years, and all of them had reached points of frustrations.
Then their churches began to reverse their declines and stagnations.
None of the pastors I interviewed were new at their churches. None of the churches had relocated in recent years. And none of the communities in which the churches were located had grown dramatically.
So what happened at these churches?
All of the pastors were careful to give glory to God. Most of them articulated that their stories were not ones of mere methodological devices. But they did have six common themes worth noting.Read the rest.
- They led the church to become highly intentional about starting new groups. The fewest groups started by any one of the churches were four in a one-year period. These churches were serious about new groups, and most of them saw that, at least from a human perspective, as the primary source of turnaround growth.
- They led the church to a culture of inviting people. These pastors expressed amazement at how many people started coming to their churches simply because they were invited. To be clear, this type of invitation was personal, from a member to someone else. It was not some type of major commercial marketing initiative. Some of the churches had a big event, “invite-a-friend-day,” to kickoff this new culture of inviting.
- They began new member classes. These classes set the tone for new members. They established the expectations for new members. After a few months of these classes, many of the pastors begin to notice an attitudinal change toward the positive among the members.
- They began a major community ministry. Some of the churches “adopted” local schools. Some of the leaders made appointments with key civic leaders to find out how their churches could best help the community. In all cases, church members got out of the comfort of the church buildings and went into the community to serve others.
- They began to pray for the lost and unchurched by name. For many of the churches, this type of praying was a first. Most of them attested that it seemed awkward at first, but it later became a part of their Great Commission culture.
- The leaders began to focus less on negative people and circumstances and more on God’s possibilities. The leaders became, in God’s power, people of faith instead of people of fear. This spirit of faith became pervasive in the churches. Many of the churches saw a negative and unbelieving church culture become a positive and faith-believing culture.
Books by Thom Rainer:
John Piper on C.S. Lewis:
To wake up in the morning and to be aware of the firmness of the mattress, the warmth of the sun’s rays, the sound of the clock ticking, the coldness of the wooden floor, the wetness of the water in the sink, the sheer being of things (quiddity as he called it). And not just to be aware but to wonder. To be amazed that the water is wet. It did not have to be wet. If there were no such thing as water, and one day some one showed it to you, you would simply be astonished.
[Lewis] helped me become alive to life. To look at the sunrise and with say with an amazed smile, “God did it again!” He helped me to see what is there in the world—things which if we didn’t have them, we would pay a million dollars to have, but having them, ignore. He convicts me of my callous inability to enjoy God’s daily gifts. He helps me to awaken my dazed soul so that the realities of life and of God and heaven and hell are seen and felt.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
The Christian Post:
There are an estimated 10 million Christians in the U.S. who tithe more than $50 billion annually, according to a press release for the annual State of the Plate report. The report encompasses survey responses from 4,413 tithers from all 50 states and a variety of different churches and income levels. The fifth annual study reveals that 97 percent of tithers make giving to their local church a priority, and 63 percent started tithing between their childhood and their twenties. It also found that 70 percent give based on their gross income rather than their net income, and 77 percent give more than the traditional 10 percent.Read the rest.
Mike Emlet reflects on Zack Eswine's book on pastoral ministry, Sensing Jesus, and our tendency to want to be omnipotent and omnipresent.
So what does it look like to lean against the temptation to be “everywhere-for-all”?
- Frame your day with pauses that remind you of your absolute dependency on God and ground you in the present. Eswine suggests using the time-honored tradition of breaking the day into four portions—morning, noon, evening, night—and pausing at the beginning and end of each period of time to pray and read Scripture for a few minutes. Although my consistency in this discipline waxes and wanes, I can attest to how it acts as a speed bump to what would otherwise be a frenetic, prayerless, and unreflective day.
- Focus on the here and now as you meet with people. Truly attend to the people in front of you—their words, smiles, grimaces, and furrowed brows. So much of interpersonal ministry is being with a person, not arriving at a destination. We are like children on a long car ride who whine, “Are we there yet?” while missing the glory of the ordinary passing scenery, not to mention the blessing (OK, sometimes!) of being together as a family.
- Learn to value the ordinary, “exult in monotony” (66). If you don’t do this, you miss much of daily life! Without those eyes to see and ears to hear, it’s no wonder the here and now feels insufficient and the whisper to be somewhere else for someone else beckons. Can you smell the sautéed asparagus? Feel the warmth of your child’s hand? See the impish grin of one of the preschoolers in your Sunday School class? Taste the bitter goodness of that first swallow of morning coffee? Savoring these ordinary moments, gifts from God for a given place and time, reminds us that he will give us what is needful for the moments of ministry as well.
- Go to bed! “Sleep is a Sabbath-like act. We rest from it all and leave it all for God’s keeping while we lie motionless in the world for a while” (80). Honestly, this is hard for me. While I don’t have the stamina of twenty years ago, I still am often driven by an everywhere-for-all mentality that trades sleep for the diminishing returns of working late.
The term "gospel" is, as Matt Chandler likes to say, becoming a "junk drawer" term for anything and everything in Christianity. It is very important that we don't implicitly teach our people to enable this dysfunction. This article will help immensely. Don't use the word "gospel" without helping people know what it really means.
From Sex, Dating, and Relationships:
Think of a dating friendship as a precursor to a marriage proposal but without all the romantic, sexual overtones that so often accompany a dating relationship. A couple in a dating friendship, regardless of their attraction to each other, doesn't pretend there is more to the relationship than is warranted. They consciously refrain from sexual and overtly romantic activity and don't become naively optimistic about the commitment level of their friendship. Thus, the main goal of a dating friendship is to explore the viability of marriage while preserving the guidelines of sexual and romantic purity required by the neighbor relationship.Read Challies' review of this book here.
by J. I. Packer
“If you, like me, struggle with discouragement over your weaknesses, you need to read this book. We all long to be admired for our strengths, yet we all find ourselves, ‘beset with weakness’ (Heb. 5:2). Does this mean we’re stuck living with discouragement? No! There is an escape to joyful freedom. Dr. Packer knows the way. Walking us through 2 Corinthians, he shows it to us so that we, like Paul, can ‘boast all the more gladly of [our] weaknesses.’”
—Jon Bloom, President, Desiring God Ministries; author, Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith
Labels: Book Recommendations
The Expositor's Bible Commentary - Luke and Acts
John, Acts: Volume Two: 002 (Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary)
Clinton E. Arnold
Hitler in the Crosshairs
Maurice Possley, John Woodbridge
Thursday, May 16, 2013
No matter your politics you have to admit this is pretty funny. Colbert is brilliant.
Books by Paul Tripp:
It took God employing hardship for me to embrace the inescapable reality that everything I did in ministry was done in allegiance to, and in pursuit of, either the kingdom of self or the kingdom of God. This truth is best exegeted for us in Matthew 6:19-34.Read the rest.
I'm convinced that this passage elaborately unpacks the thoughts, desires, and actions of the kingdom of self. Notice the turn in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus says, "But seek first the kingdom of God." The word BUT tells us this verse is the transition point of the passage. Everything before it explains the operation of another kingdom, the kingdom of self. This makes the passage a very helpful lens on the struggle between these two kingdoms in everyone's heart.
I want to examine four treasure principles that emerge from this passage that I find helpful as I seek to examine the motivations of my own heart in ministry. I have included plenty of personal reflection questions for you to consider, and since you don't always see yourself with accuracy, you could use this as a small group/devotional resource with your fellow pastors or elders or ministry leaders.
Books by Paul Tripp:
- Sex and Money: Pleasures That Leave You Empty and Grace That Satisfies
- Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry
- Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change (Resources for Changing Lives)
- What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage
- Broken-Down House
The conclusion of Ed Stetzer:
Books by Ed Stetzer:
In other words, let's be missional and radical. Let's be careful about making it legalistic. But let's not be afraid to tell a consumer-driven church that has commodified the gospel that the Christian life is rooted in much more than personal comfort.Read the rest.
Books by Ed Stetzer:
- Planting Missional Churches
- Compelled: Living the Mission of God
- Subversive Kingdom: Living as Agents of Gospel Transformation
- Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations
- Lost and Found: The Younger Unchurched and the Churches that Reach Them
- Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned Around and Yours Can, Too
- Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church Can Become a Missionary in Your Community
- Viral Churches: Helping Church Planters Become Movement Makers (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series)