Friday, November 26, 2010

A Joshua Generation - CFNI Spring Graduation 2010

Sorting through some files on my computer today, I came across this video recording of the message I preached at the Christ for the Nations Institute Spring Graduation Ceremony earlier this year entitled, "A Joshua Generation." I am so thankful for the opportunities God has given me to minister there. Nothing gets my "juices" going like a chance to share my heart with a bunch of young "leaders in the making...!"


I attended CFNI myself in 1978 and my life was profoundly impacted, particularly in the areas of worship and missions. Experiencing the manifest presence of God day after day in chapel service and sitting in classes taught by John Garlock, the World Missions teacher, changed me forever.


During this message I share some leadership insights concerning the "forgotten baptism" in Scripture - the baptism into leadership - based on the lives of Moses and Joshua.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Watch Real-Time Decisions for Christ from Around the World...!

My friend, Eric Celier, and his team over at Jesus.net have put together this real-time display of people who have just given their heart to the Lord Jesus somewhere around the world via one of their websites in various languages. If you have the free Google-Earth software installed, the second window below will display an even cooler 3-D version...!



Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Build a Team - Lessons in Leadership from the Life of Jesus

















Part one of my new series entitled, "How to Build A Team - Lessons In Leadership From the Life of Jesus" from our Word and Spirit telecast.

















Part two of "How to Build A Team - Lessons In Leadership From the Life of Jesus."

















Part three of "How to Build A Team - Lessons In Leadership From the Life of Jesus."

















Part four of "How to Build A Team - Lessons In Leadership From the Life of Jesus."

















Part five of "How to Build A Team - Lessons In Leadership From the Life of Jesus."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Is Preaching Against Homosexuality a Hate Crime? - Richard Hammer's legal advice

Monday, January 04, 2010

Why Christian Media Will Get Worse Before It Gets Better - Phil Cooke

If you are interesting in Christian media, you must read a very interesting post by Phil Cooke highlighting a couple of sea changes taking place right now in Christian media. Here's the "skinny" on his perspective...

"...from a demographic perspective, the donors who built the major media ministries of the last few decades are disappearing, and being replaced by a new group that doesn't share the same values and priorities. My opinion is that we have 8-12 years left with the donors that built the major Christian ministries we see today...
...The former donor base that was focused on giving for expansion - particularly building projects - is now being replaced by a generation more interested in great causes...The question that hasn't been answered yet is how to convert them from passionate supporters to actual givers. On that subject, the jury is still out. After all, this is the generation that grew up on Napster, and believes everything online should be free. It will take some time to change those expectations.Most media ministries have never had to listen, and they struggle with change.
With that in mind, here's what I predict: As donors stop giving to the same old traditional Christian TV appeals, here's what will happen:
1. Many of those ministries will panic and start doing "emergency appeals."
2. They'll bring in the fundraising "A Team..."
3. Some will close their doors.
4. A fortunate few will see the shift coming and respond accordingly.
...Brace yourself. Whatever you like or dislike about religious media, it's about to get worse. Most of the media ministries you see today are already struggling, but too many refuse to see the reality of the change they need to make."
I think Phil is right on...as usual! If you are interested in how media and Christianity intersect, I highly encourage you to read his blog at www.philcooke.com and to buy his latest book, The Last TV Evangelist: Why the Next Generation Couldn't Care Less About Religious Media.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Dealing With Dead Horses


Every leader sometimes finds himself or herself trying to resurrect something that is either dying or already dead. Here are a few choice insights on dealing with "dead horses" from our Hillcrest Church Children's Pastor, Susan Rutledge:

Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in business we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Saying things like "This is the way we always have ridden this horse."
4. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
5. Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride horses.
6. Increasing the standards to ride horses.
7. Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.
8. Creating a training session to increase our riding ability.
9. Comparing the state of horses in today's environment.
10. Changing the requirements to specify that "Horses shall not die."
11. Hiring contractors to ride the dead horse.
12. Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed.
13. Declaring that "No horse is too dead to ride."
14. Providing additional funding to increase the horse's performance.
15. Doing a study to see if the horse can be ridden cheaper if outsourced.
16. Purchasing a product to revitalize the dead horse.
17. Declaring the dead horse is "better, faster and cheaper".
18. Forming a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.
19. Revisiting the performance requirements for horses.
20. Saying this horse was procured with cost as an independent variable.
21. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.
Personally, I think the best way to deal with a "dead horse" is the same way Pastor Syvelle Phillips taught me to deal with a "sacred cow" … namely, you shoot it from as far away as possible with a high-powered rifle, then walk up wringing your hands over its untimely demise…! J!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Need for Margin


As part of a homework assignment from the King's Seminary, I have been reading a great book this morning entitled, "The Overload Syndrome: Learning to Live Within Your Limits" by Dr. Richard Swenson.

I shared a few short quotes on Twitter, but here are a couple worth passing on that just won't fit within 140 characters…!

How did Jesus care for people? He focused on the person standing in front of Him at the time…
…If Jesus had chosen to live in modern America instead of ancient Israel, how would He act? Would He have consulted a pocket calendar? Would He have worn a watch? Would He have carried a beeper? Can you imagine Him being paged out of the Last Supper?...
…When I look deeper at the life of Christ, I also notice that there is no indication that He worked twenty-four hour ministry days. He went to sleep each night without having healed every disease in Israel – and He apparently slept well. Neither did He minister to everybody who needed it. Neither did He visit or teach everybody who needed it. There were many needs that He simply chose not to meet…
...Is this to imply that He was lazy or didn't care? Of course not. But it is to imply that He understood what it meant to be human…and His fully human side understood what it meant to have limits. Jesus understood what it meant to prioritize and to balance in light of those limits and how to focus on the truly important. We can learn a lesson from Jesus – it's okay to have limits. It is okay not to be all things to all people all of the time all by ourselves…
…Margin is the space between our load and our limits…
…Margin allows availability for the purposes of God. When God taps us on the shoulder and asks us to do something, he doesn't expect to get a busy signal…
…"In the spiritual life," explains the theologian Henri Nouwen, "the word discipline means 'the effort to create some space in which God can act.' Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from filling up…to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn't planned or counted on."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Convincing Modern Man He Needs to Change – Phil Cooke


In his recent blog post entitled, "Convincing Modern Man He Needs to Change," Phil Cooke gives a very thought-provoking quote from C.S. Lewis,

"When the apostles preached, they could assume even in their Pagan hearers a real consciousness of deserving the divine anger… It was against this background that the gospel appeared as good news. It brought news of possible healing to men who knew they were mortally ill. But all this has changed. Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis - in itself very bad news - before it can win a hearing for the cure."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pastor Dan Scott – The Pathological Metamorphosis of the American Church

Pastor Dan Scott from Christ Church in Nashville, Tennessee gave an interesting quote from a recent message by Church on the Way Worship Pastor Dr. Tom McDonald in a post on his blog this week entitled, "The Pathological Metamorphosis of the American Church:"

"Something serious occurs to our worship and music whenever we change them from sacramental instruments that we employ to connect the human heart with God, into mere tools for church growth."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Last TV Evangelist - Phil Cooke

I love Phil Cooke's books and have read or am currently in the process of reading every one of them, including Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Nonprofits Impact Culture and Others Don't. His lastest book is entitled The Last TV Evangelist: Why the Next Generation Couldn't Care Less About Religious Media. In my view, it is a must-read for anyone in Christian ministry who uses the media in any form. For that matter, if you simply have a heart to reach people with the good news about Jesus in any way, you need to read this book...! Below is a link to his recent interview on the 700 Club. If you are not yet convinced that you need to read his book, I urge you to take a moment to at least view this video clip. Check out his blog at http://www.philcooke.com/ and his free video podcast on Itunes, "The Change Revolution."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Life and Ministry of Pastor's Wives - Teresa Brand & Lois Evans, Word & Spirit Telecast, 05-05-09


Teresa recently interviewed Dr. Lois Evans of Oakcliff Bible Fellowship where her husband, Dr. Tony Evans, is the Senior Pastor, and the Urban Alternative. They discussed the life, role, ministry, and challenges faced by pastor's wives. Dr. Evans leads a ministry to Senior Pastor's Wives which puts on an annual "First Ladies Conference." This is Teresa's favorite ministry event every year.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

WME History Makers conference audio now available free on the web

The sermon audio from the WME Conference is now available free on the internet via an ITunes podcast. Session Five with Rick Bezet was especially good - a "must-listen" for every pastor...!

Friday, March 13, 2009

New Testament Apostolic Ministry (Dale Yerton), Word and Spirit TV



Recently, I had the privilege of hosting Dale Yerton and Ted Flynn from the WME network of ministries on my daily telecast, Word and Spirit. During our conversation, Dale shared some great insights concerning the present-day function of New Testament apostolic gifiting.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Starbucks and Church Marketing

Thanks to Todd Rhoades over at Monday Morning Insight for pointing the way to this very funny video entitled, "What if Starbucks marketed like the church?" at BeyondRelevance.com.



If you found this video thought-provoking, I encourage you to check out Richard Reising's post entitled, "re-Branding on Momentum." Here are a few quotes,

It seems like churches these days have seen the power of marketing and branding just enough to jump onto the band wagon. Churches everywhere are sliding onto the re-branding table and looking for a quick-fix for their "growing" concerns. A few recent conversations have illustrated the often missing link in a church's preparedness to go under the knife for a branding make-over.

...please note that true "branding" goes much deeper than skin deep. True branding is a plum-line from the core of who you are to the people God has called you to reach. It is a promise you deliver on in all that you do and is seen on the surface as your communication, design, image or brand.

...surface re-branding...is an epidemic. It is the concept that if we are not attracting people, it is because we do not have the right name or image, and therefore, we need to change it and re-design our look. With all the love I can muster, if you are not growing what you have, it is not because of your logo. If you are not connecting with people that come through your doors in a way that causes them to come back and bring others, no amount of design can create a long term fix. If you do have momentum however, the right brand can be a catalyst to new levels of growth...

...re-branding should only take place after momentum has been generated. To simply re-brand a church when it has not found its traction is generally just an indication to your community that you’ve tried everything else without success and in your last attempt, you’re changing your style and/or name in order to reinvent yourself...

Here’s the deal: if you aren’t currently connecting with people right where they’re at, no amount of branding/design can solve your problem. Re-branding without momentum is kind of like dressing up for your prom and forgetting to court a date...

...Design cannot obtain what a disconnected ministry cannot reach.

Well said!

Monday, October 27, 2008

On Schuller, Succession, Scripture, and Sin

According to articles in the L.A. Times newspaper entitled, "Schullers' Rift Centers Around Hour of Power" and "Rev. Robert H. Schuller Ousts His Son as 'Hour of Power' Preacher," the son has been sidelined and the father has taken the reins of leadership at the ministry he founded back into his own hands. According to a letter from the father on the Crystal Cathedral website, the move stems in part from a desire by the father to use the television platform he built to highlight some of America's best known preachers, including Bill Hybels and Kirbyjon Caldwell.

I encourage you to join me in prayer for this congregation, one of the most influential in America, and all its leadership, including its pastors, as they walk through these difficult days. I do not have any personal knowledge of any of the dynamics involved, but two very interesting statements in the L.A Times articles stood out to me. One is an assessment by the journalist and the other a direct quote from the father.

As the author of the Times' article put it,

Schuller built his worldwide ministry over a half century on the psychology of positive thinking and appealing to people turned off by the formality of traditional faiths. In contrast, his son's sermons have been full of direct references to the Bible.
He then quotes the father as saying,

"I was called to start a mission, not a church," Schuller told his audience Sunday. "There is a difference. . . . You don't try to preach . . . what is sin and what isn't sin. A mission is a place where you ask nonbelievers to come and find faith and hope and feel love. We're a mission first, a church second."
That concerns were expressed concerning the son's more frequent use of Scripture in preaching strikes me as particularly noteworthy given the fact that back in April of last year news articles in the Christian press were highlighting an unusual move of God that had begun under the son's ministry at the Crystal Cathedral. Over 500 people spontaneously came forward to give their lives to Christ and follow the Lord in water baptism during a single Sunday morning service! (Click here to Christianity Today magazine's account of those events.)

I have great respect for the work the father has done and was powerfully impacted a few years ago when I read his autobiography, "My Journey: From an Iowa Farm to a Cathedral of Dreams," particularly his account of sensing the call of God to spiritual leadership as a young farm boy. I must say, though, that I was intrigued by the fact that he apparently believes evangelism and "mission" should not include any preaching against sin.

He is a good and great man and I do not have any doubt that his concerns are well intentioned, but his paradigm strikes me as markedly different from that which graces the pages of the New Testament, whether Gospels, Epistles, or the Book of Acts. According to the latter, Paul's presentation of the Gospel to Governor Felix, aimed at bringing him to faith in Jesus Christ, included themes like righteousness, self-control, and divine judgment. That approach brought such deep conviction to Felix's heart that he was "afraid." He was not willing to give his heart to the Lord and wanted to put off hearing any more preaching like that until he was ready to be converted.
24 Several days later Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess. He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, “That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.” (Acts 24:24-25 NIV)
According to Jesus, salvation requires both turning away from sin and faith toward God,

"14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”" (Mark 1:14-15 NIV)
Preaching and teaching against sin is not only part of the discipleship process, but passages such as these indicate that it is also a necessary and biblical part of evangelism. Preaching repentance involves preaching against sin, not to condemn the sinner, but in order to bring them to a place where they understand their need of a Saviour.

Friday, October 10, 2008

God and the Financial Crash

Some interesting and thought-provoking articles are popping up on the web regarding the current financial crisis and its impact upon or connection with Christian faith. Here are a few I recently found. Email me links to ones you have discovered and I will add them to this list:

Jesus and the Great Depression: Christianity paid a high price during the 1930's. What Will Happen Now? (Timothy Morgan at Christianity Today magazine discusses scholarly research concerning the impact of the Great Depression on Christian churches, including which kind of churches grew as a result of that crisis and which did not.)

Maybe We Should Blame God for the Subprime Mess (David van Biema at Time magazine thinks unbalanced extremes in prosperity teachings may have led some gullible Chrisitans to think God was giving them the chance to buy homes they could not afford.)

In Crisis, Wall Street Turns to Prayer (Tony Carnes at Christianity Today magazine details how the crisis is driving many in the financial sector to their knees. Let's pray this sparks revival...!)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Church in Times of Economic Crisis

In his very interesting article on Christianity Today's website entitled, "Jesus and the Great Depression," Timothy Morgan cites research into the impact that severe economic crisis in the 1930's had upon Christian churches. Here are a couple of key quotes,

The depression had a devastating effect on the Churches as well as on the nation. In the optimistic flush of the ‘20’s many congregations had built new edifices far too large and expensive. When the depression hit, they found themselves unable to pay. Most carried their huge debts; a few rejected their obligation, thus bringing shame on the Christian Church.

...

While the larger Protestant denominations were busy with their reappraisal and their ministering to the spiritual needs of the nation, there was one segment of Protestantism that profited greatly by the depression. This was the group of Churches usually called "sects." They stressed the radical, emotional conversion of the sinner and the new life lived in all holiness. They stressed the presence of the operation of God’s Holy Spirit and the rebirth through him; thus, they were called Pentecostals. Some of them spoke with strange, unintelligible utterances, most practiced faith healing, and all advocated a rigorous moral life. Among these were such groups as the Nazarenes, the Assemblies of God, and the Holiness or Pentecostal Churches.

...

Though the Protestant Churches did not experience a large increase in membership, except for the extreme sectarian groups, they too went through a profound and invaluable experience as a result of the depression. For too long they had preached and taught a rather shallow message which was a watering down of the full insights of the gospel. No age perfectly comprehends God’s message of judgment and redemption, but some ages become so smug in their interpretation of that message that they fail to stand under it. They often pick that side of it which justifies their own wellbeing and earthly possessions.

Though liberal theology and the social gospel contained many valuable elements necessary for their age, they also played into the hands of the age by their emphasis. People of the ‘20’s were convinced that Christianity meant literally following the Golden Rule -- doing to others as one would wish to be treated; that it stood for the gradual building of the Kingdom on earth by men of good will if only men would exert enough good will; and that through friendliness and kindness that Kingdom was slowly being built in America.

Suddenly the Protestant Churches were confronted with the stark reality of the failure of their dreams. Under all the supposed goodness and friendliness of the prosperous ‘20’s were to be found greed and pride. Man suddenly was shown to be no higher on the moral scale, no less selfish than his medieval brethren. In place of a new stage in the Kingdom of God men had arrived at a shattered economy. The consequence was a new look at some old Protestant doctrines that had been largely ignored -- sin, faith, and justification were once more relevant.
Morgan asks his readers to email him their personal stories of walking out their faith in the midst of the Great Depression and has promised to post some of them along with his article. That should make for interesting and inspiring reading.

My own maternal grandparents came to a personal faith in Jesus through a tent revival held by a Pentecostal evangelist in the rural county where they lived. Grandpa never tired of telling how God supernaturally met their needs in answer to fervant, believing prayer. What the Lord did then, He will do today!

Friday, September 26, 2008

T.D. Jakes "Divine Impulses" Washington Post Video Interview

Monday, September 15, 2008

Palin and the Pentecostals

From time to time, I see things in the press that move me to write out a few of my thoughts in response. The recent attacks on Governor Sarah Palin's Pentecostal heritage are a case in point. I have posted three such items on my Hillcrest Church Blog:

Click on any of the titles to be taken directly to that post.

I would love your thoughts!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Right on, R.T.!!

I never watched or visited a single service from the Lakeland, Florida meetings. The second-hand testimony I received from people varied quite dramatically in its perception of whether or not God was at work there. While I made a private, personal decision to not make our church facility available to persons in our Metroplex who wanted to use it for public, Lakeland related meetings, my words are in no way intended to be an, "I told you so...!" I never took any public stance on the matter. Furthermore, I certainly have no desire to "throw stones" at Todd Bentley. I have never met him. My heart breaks for him, for his wife, and for those who so strongly believed God was powerfully at work in Lakeland and who are now processing deep disappointment, confusion, even disillusionment.

I reference the excellent article I read yesterday in Ministry Today magazine by Dr. R.T. Kendall on the Lakeland phenomenon, written before recent revelations concerning Todd's personal life, because I believe it raises important biblical issues. I know R.T. well enough personally to be absolutely certain that the opening sentence of his piece truly reflects the attitude of his heart,

I can think of nothing worse than for God to be powerfully at work and I miss it—all because I was biased and devoid of discernment.
Over the past five years, the Lord has granted me the inestimable privilege of spending many hours with R.T. in private conversations. I have never met an individual so utterly Scriptural in his life focus and work, yet so completely open to any genuine work of God's Spirit, even those that are way out of his personal comfort zone.

R.T. has paid a high price for his openness to what he believed were moves of God that have been couched in controversy. That is part of what causes me to so appreciate his candid description of his own, inner "process" of evaluating what was going on down in Lakeland. He tried very hard to remain open to what was happening, yet was forced to acknowledge his growing unease in the face of what he increasingly believed were significant deviations from biblical principle. His ultimate conclusion is stated in his closing sentences,
It comes to this: Is the Bible true? Because I believe the Bible, I can testify: The jury of my mind on Lakeland is in.

Leave Lakeland alone.
I urge you to read his article and to prayerfully reflect on his specific concerns, including the following:

  • He never heard the revival's primary leader publically deliver a clear presentation of the Gospel.
  • He was deeply troubled by seeing the precious person of the Holy Spirit referred to as the "Bam! Bam!" during baptisms.
  • He sensed no deepened fear of God and conviction of sin resulting from the meetings.
  • He was taken aback by the leader's testimony that during visits to the Third Heaven he claimed to have been told that he should not preach Jesus (because everybody already knows about Him) but rather angels (which people know little about).
Thanks, R.T., for having the courage to communicate your convictions and to point the Body of Christ back to the Word of God...!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Birthday, America...! (And a few theological reflections on the Revolution...)

After having lived on three different continents, and having visted many countries around the world, as much as I love cultural and linguistic diversity, I still have a deep love for the U.S.A. and a deep gratitude in my heart toward the Lord for the privilege of being born here. America is certanly not a perfect nation, but I believe it has been a blessed nation, in spite of our sins and our shortcomings. On this July 4th, I encourage you to pause for a moment and thank God for the U.S.A., asking God for His continued help and favor upon it.

Historian Mark Noll has written an interesting article in Christianity Today answering the question: "Was the Revolutionary War Justified?" (from a theological point of view.)

Happy Birthday, America, and may God bless all who live here...!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Grassley Houses and Kenneth Copeland's Jet

On a lighter note, concerning the Grassley investigations of television ministries, Doug Wead puts things in perspective in his blog post about ministers and their travel choices entitled, "Kenneth Copeland's Jet." He examines some of Grassley's own ties to a "mansion on the Potomac" in his post entitled, "People Who Live in Grassley Houses Shouldn't Throw Stones."

A Parable of Three Sermons on the Mount by Vinson Synan

During his extended article on the historical and theological roots of the Word of Faith movement, scholar Vinson Synan gives the following "parable" which explains the appeal of the prosperity message around the world. I encourage you to take the time to read his article in full by clicking here. Among other things, it highlights the historical differences between Protestants and Catholics regarding the theology of money, poverty, and prosperity.

A Parable of the Three Sermons on the Mount

Many have wondered why the prosperity message is so popular among the impoverished masses that flock to hear it. To answer, one might imagine the idea of three sermons preached on a “smoky mountain” like many such trash dumps outside large, Third World cities where people fight with rats to salvage food and waste products to survive the grinding poverty in which they seem to be hopelessly trapped. One day, three preachers came to minister to these people: one a traditional Christian teacher, one a social gospel teacher and the other a Pentecostal preacher with a salvation, healing and prosperity gospel.

The first, a traditional Christian, knowing Jesus said, “The poor will be with you always,” gave a message that has been heard for centuries. “Take comfort in your faith. Suffering builds character, and the Lord suffered, too. He will comfort you. In heaven you will have many mansions, but in the meantime, we will give you as much help as possible and try to console you.” Critics call this a “pie in the sky” message.

The second, a “social gospel” teacher spoke out. The gist of his message was, “The reason you are poor is the unjust distribution of wealth, the greediness of the rich and their domination of the government and power structures of society. If we can pass laws to change the situation by taking from the rich and giving to the poor, we can eventually help you. Help us to pass just laws, or if that fails, form a revolution where you will eventually rule, and then the wealth will be equally distributed. Have patience, the government will eventually change your situation.”

The third speaker was a Pentecostal or Charismatic evangelist who said in essence, “If you will believe the gospel, the Lord will immediately break the power of sin in your life and you can be filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues, cast out devils and evangelize the world. You can be instantly set free from your addictions to alcohol, tobacco, sexual promiscuity and drugs, and Jesus will make you into a healthy, honest member of society. God is not against you. There is no virtue in being poor just for the sake of being poor. So God will also bless you materially as you work hard, live honestly, save your money and give a portion of your own income to others.”

I will let the reader decide why many of the masses would listen to the last preacher and run down the smoky mountain as soon as possible to the nearest Pentecostal church or evangelistic crusade to find salvation and deliverance. These are the multitudes that fill the Reinhard Bonnke crusades and are crowding into Pentecostal churches, large and small, around the world. It may be that these people are now poor, but they do not intend to stay poor. They believe in a powerful Jesus who can break the bonds of sin, sickness, demonic oppression and poverty. It is indeed a very attractive message to the poor.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jack Hayford on Pastoral Leadership, Etc.

While I was working at my laptop earlier today, I saw an interview on TBN between Matt Crouch and Jack Hayford that every pastor and church leader needs to watch. Pastor Jack says some great and very needful things about pastoral leadership, genuine ministry, and church growth. Click here to watch the program online from the TBN archives.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Black Pentecostal Voting Patterns - Eugene Rivers (NBC)

I just stumbled onto this interesting clip from the NBC Nightly News of an interview with Rev. Eugene Rivers regarding the way many African American Pentecostals vote for liberal candidates in contrast to their Causasian counterparts. I wish I could have seen the rest of this interview, dated December 18th. Thanks to Carl Thomas of http://www.revivalblog.com/ for pointing the way to this.



Over at the futureag blog, there is some interesting conversation going on in response to River's statements.

Here are a series of videos from BET that tell the life story of this unusual man...parts IV & V are specially good, but after you watch them, you will probably want to watch the others...!













Monday, January 07, 2008

Elusive Excellence

Thanks to Skye Jethani for pointing the way to an article on the perils of pursuing perfection in ministry by Daniel Schantz entitled, Recovering from Excellence. Schantz writes,

To aim for excellence seems like a good thing, but it harbors some subtle dangers...The term excellence is often spoken by church leaders in condescending tones, as if to say, “Others may be content with being average slobs, but not us. We must have only the best.” This can be a slap in the face to members who don’t have the capacity or means to be excellent—the “good,” the “fair,” the “poor.” Can only good-looking, gifted singers serve on the worship team? Must church buildings resemble palaces in order to be useful? Do all preachers have to be Madison Avenue models, professional comedians, celebrities, best-selling authors, and able to speak five languages? The gospel was targeted to the poor, not just to the exceptional.

His words brought to mind a conversation I had once with a friend who pastors a congregation in the same area as one of America's most famous churches, one that I happen to admire, by the way. He recounted how a person with significant musical talent had begun attending the church he serves after having been told by the leadership at the other congregation that they would never be allowed to participate in its music ministry. The reason given? Their minor physical deformity did not fit the image they needed to project from their platform in order to appeal to seekers. Somehow that doesn't sound much like Jesus to me. What do you think?

Pastors and Politics

The Out of Ur blog by Leadership Journal has an informative post entitled Politics from the Pulpit, reviewing the legal limits imposed upon American pastors expressing their opinions regarding the political issues and candidates.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Following up on Willowcreek's Repentance

There is a great, thought-provoking article on Christianity Today's website entitled, "Am I Growing Yet?" by Mark Galli. It is good follow-up reading to the links I have referenced in my post, "The Wake Up Call of His Life" - Bill Hybels on discipleship failures at Willowcreek."

Friday, October 26, 2007

"The Wake Up Call of His Life" - Bill Hybels on discipleship failures at Willowcreek

If you have not yet done so, I urge you to click here and watch Bill Hybels at the last Willowcreek Church Leadership Summit share how their congregation's leadership has recently been confronted with their inneffectiveness at turning seekers into fully commited followers of Jesus Christ. I also urge you to click here to watch Greg Hawkins' comments on the process the Willowcreek leadership went through that led them to that conclusion.

While the congregation I lead (Hillcrest Church) is not a "seeker-driven" church like Willowcreek, I have great respect for Bill Hybels. I am convinced his passion for bringing people to Christ is authentic. Knowing the criticism he and his team have received over the years for some of their innovations, I honor him for the tremendous courage it must have taken to publically acknowledge the results of their research. I urge you as a leader to watch these two video clips and then ask yourself the hard question, "Regardless of whether or not the church I serve is the same style as Willowcreek, do their conclusions apply to us, too?" Chances are they do, at least to some degree, as is the case in certain ways here at Hillcrest Church.

In the final analysis, the command Jesus has given to us to make disciples requires effecting profound life-change in people. May God give us the insight we need in order to know the truth about how well our ministries accomplish that goal, and may He grant us the wisdom we need in order to become much better better at doing it...!

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into, thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually; when the data actually cameback it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for. … We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own." —Willow Creek Community Church senior pastor Bill Hybels [revealnow.com, 10/19/07]

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Missional Leadership from Across the Pond

It is hard to imagine that a full six weeks or so have gone by since I last posted on this blog. Between parenting, pastoring, and pursuing my studies at the King's Seminary, more time has passed than I would have liked.


Here is a link to a new podcast on missional leadership that I encourage you to check out. It is updated regularly throughout the school year by leaders at Mattersey Hall, a Bible College and Seminary in the U.K. which not only offers a Master's level program in Missional Leadership, but also the only fully accredited Pentecostal or Charismatic Phd. program in the world.

After I spoke there in chapel a while back, they asked me if I would be willing to record a couple of these "off the cuff." Here is one dealing with how the four basic leadership styles (Commander, Performer, Scholar, and Parent) each need something very different when leaving a place of long-term ministry. (I hope the striped shirt shows up better on your monitor than it does on mine...! Smile!)

I would love to have your thoughts on my thoughts...! video
I will be back online again, soon!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Decision making paradigms and "A/G Leadership Interrupted"

I just stumbled onto an article by Rich Tatum of PneumaBlogger renown over at BlogRodent that touches on ways we leaders can improve the process we go through when we make and announce major ministry decisions. It deals with the recent, abrupt resignation of Thomas Trask from the senior spot in the American branch of the Assemblies of God denomination.


If you read Rich’s post all the way to the end, past his speculation regarding what political maneuvering or other considerations may or may not have prompted Trask’s recent step, which is not of interest to me personally since I am not A/G and have no plans to be, you will find he expresses some interesting thoughts about the way the Apostle Paul and his peers interacted regarding a critical ministry decision in the Book of Acts. Given the number of times in my life that I have seen Christian leaders announce very drastic ministry changes with a simple, "I feel this to be the leading of the Holy Spirit," I urge you to think about what Rich says.


Let me
hasten to add that, although I have never met the ex-General Superintendent, I have heard wonderful things about him over the years. He may well have extensively and confidentially processed his pending action among a closed circle of peers before announcing it officially, along the lines of the "Pauline model" Rich has sketched out. Be that as it may, for me the greatest personal "take-away" is that each of us who serve as a spiritual leader needs to continually keep in mind just how far-reaching the consequences of our personal decisions are in the lives and ministries of those we serve.


In another vein entirely, reading this and Rich’s other posts about the recent General Council of the Assemblies of God caused me to remember the fact that blog posts on the internet had also substantively impacted the agenda this year at the national convention of the Southern Baptists, another leading evangelical denomination in America. For instance, check out the FutureAG blog hosted by such leaders as Mark Batterson, Paul Stewart, Brad Leach, Jeff Leake, and Tony Farina, especially the bullet point notes of Bryan Jarrett's presentation at the 2005 General Council, and the archives of SBCOutpost.com.


In my view, the astonishing influence of the internet on very weighty deliberations in these two denominations this year highlights the drastically different ways younger people process organizational decisions as compared to their elders. For more of my thoughts on this sea-change in what is perceived to be acceptable process that we all must come to grip with as we lead church groups in conducting their affairs, including the growing desire for greater openness and public debate in all levels of organizational life, see my earlier post entitled, “Generation Gap.”


I would love to hear your thoughts...!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Billy Graham on 20/20 - Pastor to Power

This Friday, August 10, 2007, the ABC News program 20/20 is airing a special entitled, "Billy Graham: Pastor to Power." For a preview following a brief, obligatory commercial, click here.