Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Church being the Church - Hugo, MN tornado response

I'd like to point out a great example of the church being the church. In response to the tornado over Memorial Day weekend in Hugo, MN, Eagle Brook Church has stepped up to serve the community in its time of need. Eagle Brook's Help in Hugo board. The Star Tribune has a great piece with video covering how Eagle Brook Church is helping in the recovery efforts. The family of the 2 year old boy (Nathaniel Prindle) who was killed by the tornado are attenders at Eagle Brook Church.

The tornado tore through neighborhoods almost exactly between the Lino Lakes Campus and White Bear Lake Campus of Eagle Brook Church, so they were positioned to be of great service to the recovery and healing process for these families.

What Eagle Brook has to say:

The Eagle Brook family extends its thoughts and prayers to the many affected by the tornado in Hugo. Pastor Bob and other staff spent some time on Monday with families gathered at the school, and they saw the courage these families are showing even through tremendous loss. But they also realized that while many homes can be eventually rebuilt and possessions replaced, the emotional toll and the need for spiritual support will be ongoing and greatly needed.

We know that nearly 150 Eagle Brook attenders were greatly impacted by the storm, including the Prindle family who tragically lost their two-year-old son, Nathaniel. Pastor Jason Anderson has been in close contact with them, and asks that you keep them in your prayers. It’s our time as the church to be there for our neighbors in big and small ways as people begin to rebuild their lives. We don’t have all of the longer-term responses to this in place yet, but please check back for updates.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sermon - Personal Spiritual Revival: Joy – Philippians 4:4-7

I posted my sermon from last weekend on the web site for First Congregational Church of Waseca.

I am preaching through a sermon series I have titled "Personal Spiritual Revival" from an idea I got from a seminar put on by Rick Warren of Saddleback Church.

I am excited about this series, and have started planning out my messages through the end of August.

I also get to do my first wedding this Friday!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Christianity Leads World Religions

The statistics below came to me through an email from Leadership Network.

Christianity Leads World Religions

Among the world's 6.7 billion population in 2008, 2.2 billion identify with Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and other), 1.4 billion are Muslim, 0.9 billion are Hindu, and 0.4 billion are Buddhist, and only 15 million (0.015 billion) are Jewish, according to International Bulletin of Missionary Research Vol. 32.

Every 24 hours, the world counts a population net growth of 219,000 people. Christianity numbers 170,000 converts per day but 91,000 leave the faith for a net growth of 79,000 Christians each day.

Among those who identify with the Christian faith: 27% are in Europe, 26% in Latin America, 20% are in Africa, 17% in Asia, and 10% in North America. The compilers know of 39,000 separate denominations and 3,684,000 congregations around the world. Church members globally have an income of $18,170 billion. Followers of the Christian faith have comprised approximately 33% of the world population since 1800.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Tracking statistics on my blog

Below are the top 10 posts on where searches have landed people on my blog recently. It's interesting from time to time to look at what people are looking at. Willow Creek Community Church related posts are #2, #5, #10 (and if you haven't yet checked out the site redesign at Willow Creek, check it out! Very nice!!). Eagle Brook Church related posts are #6 and #8. A Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church post comes in at #4.

Hits Site url Hits entry pg Id pag.
279 Main Page 208 0
113 Frazee and Appel leaving 82 0
57 How to prepare a sermon 45 0
37 Grace Driscoll on the role of women 20 0
32 2008 Leadership Summit 30 0
25 Tony Compolo 18 0
15 Death of D. James Kennedy 12 0
11 Bob Merritt post 4 0
9 Main Page 9 0
9 Leadership Summit 8 0

I'll keep working on formatting so the table looks better. I always have troubles with tables in Blogger.

Update, the table looks sweet in Internet Explorer, and like garbage in Firefox. I prefer (read only use) Firefox, but don't know that I can fix this. Not going to worry about it. Sorry!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Carlos Whittaker interviews Mark Driscoll

Carlos "Los" Whittaker interviews Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church - Seattle - at the Purpose Driven Network's stealth leader's conference last Tuesday. Rick Warren invited Driscoll to speak on Discipleship.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Forgotten by God?

Perry Noble, Senior Pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina, has a great post on how we sometimes feel like God isn't there and our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling. The Charisse he refers to is his one year old daughter.

Have You Ever Felt Forgotten By God?

Be honest!

Every Christian who has walked with Christ for any amount of time will admit (if they are honest) that there has seemingly been a time in their life where God was nowhere to be found.

Maybe it was a marriage gone bad, a rebellious child, a lost job, an alarming medical report or an intense battle with an addiction.

And…for some reason…prayer didn’t work. Reading the Bible didn’t work. Going to church didn’t work. Fasting didn’t work. NOTHING SEEMED TO WORK…and the more desperate you cried out for God the more seemingly distant He became.

Ever been there? Are you there right now?

I was thinking about those times in my life the other day after spending some time with Charisse. She’s gotten to be quite the adventurer…and loves to climb the stairs in our home.

For her to climb the stairs is…well…it’s hard. The staircase is long…and she literally has to strain to make it up all the way. (She occasionally stops to take a breather.)

On Saturday morning she began climbing and was completely oblivious to my presence behind her. She thought she was alone. She thought she was doing the work all by herself…

BUT…there I was…right behind her, watching her and holding my hands out behind her…just in case she fell…

She fell…but…I caught her and put her right back on the step. She never turned around to thank me. She never said, “I never knew you were there.” She just kept going and finally made it to the top…in her mind…all by herself; however, she would have never achieved those heights had it not been for her father being willing to walk behind her…one step at a time.

David, a man after God’s own heart said in best in Psalm 23:4–POWERFUL verse…he said that he KNEW that even though he was walking through the valley of the shadow of death…that He KNEW God was with him.

I personally believe that the times we maybe feel that God is the most distant…He’s actually right with us, arms out, waiting to catch us when we fall. And when we think we’ve accomplished something all by ourselves–we haven’t.

God will, at times, allow us to not have the FEELING that we are so close so that our FAITH will be FOUNDED on FACT. The fact is…He’s with me (and you) right now. The fact is…when we cry out He hears us. The fact is…every hair on our head is numbered. The fact is…He gathers our tears in a bottle. The fact is…before we experienced the current pain in our lives He KNEW what we were going to go through…and HE’S RIGHT THERE…whether we feel Him or not.

I’ve forgotten God at times in my life…we all have; however, there has NEVER been a time in your life that He has forgotten about you.

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Conference from a distance - Rick Warren

Today I am listening in (while working on some other stuff) to a Pastor's conference put on by Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven Network. The first session today was pure gold. Perry Noble writes about it. Dave Ferguson writes about it.

Tony Morgan, Carlos "Los" Whitaker, DJ Chuang, and Joshua Griffin are all covering it live.

The panel of speakers is probably the best assembly of leaders under one roof in the Christian world.

Dave Ferguson's summary of what Rick Warren presented (I have a lot more notes beyond this!):

Rick Warren - 5 Moves for Renewal

When God wants to renew a church, a country, a movement he always takes you through five moves:

It is suddenly not about religion, but it's about a relationship. You realize that God is fond of you and you fall in love with Jesus.

After I end the war with God, I end the war with others. These first two renewals are all about loving God and loving others. There are two tell-tale signs of relational renewal: First, the singing gets better. Secondly, people hang around longer after church is over.

The church rediscovers that it has a cause and we get all the purposes of the church in alignment.

You can not bring cultural renewal unless there is already personal, relational and missional renewal. Once that has happened then you are ready to bring cultural renewal in your church. The preaching will change the culture of your church more than anything else.

There is no perfect structure for a church, that is why the Bible doesn't give us a structure.

(This is an extra) Institutions are there to preserve the change of the previous generation. So this will be the last to change.

Just some of the leaders who are at this conference:

Mark Batterson – National Community Church, D.C.
Mark Driscoll – Mars Hills Church, WA
Daniel Kim – Sarang Community Church, CA (a leading Korean American megachurch)
Steve Stroope – Lake Point Baptist Church, TX
Stovall Weems – Celebration Church, FL
Floyd Flake – The Greater Allen Cathedral, NY
Perry Noble – NewSpring Church, SC
Kerry Shook – Fellowship of the Woodlands, TX
Larry Stockstill – Bethany World Prayer Center, LA
Dave Ferguson – Community Christian Church, IL
Kenny Foreman – Cathedral of Faith, CA
Jentezen Franklin – Free Chapel, GA
Greg Surratt – Seacoast Church, NC/SC
Mark Beeson – Granger Community Church, IN
Bryan Crute – Destiny Metropolitan Church, GA
Jimmie Davidson – Highlands Fellowship, VA
Dave Gibbons – NewSong Church, CA
Dave Holden – Lake Gregory Community Church, CA
James Meeks – Salem Baptist Church of Chicago, IL
Bob Roberts – Northwood Church, TX
Nelson Searcy – The Journey Church, NY
Ron Sylvia – The Springs Church, FL
Dave Holden – Lake Gregory Community Church, CA
Bil Cornelius – Bay Area Fellowship, TX
Jonathan Falwell – Thomas Road Baptist Church, VA
Joel Hunter – Northland Church, FL
Dave Stone – Southeast Christian Church, KY
A.R. Bernard – Christian Cultural Center, NY
Troy Gramling – Flamingo Road Church, FL
Tim Keller – Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NY
Miles McPherson – The Rock Church, CA
Lon Solomon – McLean Bible Church, D.C.

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The Shack - A review (by Tim Challies)

Tim Challies is one of the most prolific book readers I know of (Dr. Albert Mohler would be another). While I don't always agree with Tim's reviews (I disagreed with his review of Mark Driscoll's Vintage Jesus for example) I think he is spot on in regards to the book The Shack. Here's the thing that I think about these sorts of books - it is OK for some people to read them, but certainly not everyone should. If we are going to read them, we need to read books of this sort with a discerning eye. They can be entertaining, but we have to guard and protect our theology or we can come to embrace the "heretical view of the Trinity" this book puts forth as Mark Driscoll has pointed out in a sermon recently. Those who are just forming in their faith, still feeling their way through what they believe would be best served to avoid this book.

Tim's explanation for why he's done an extended review (much more in-depth than his Amazon review). The .pdf of Tim's extended review is available for download (it's 17 pages long!).

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sermon - Ephesians 3:14-21

The sermon I preached earlier today is available for viewing at First Congregational Church of Waseca - It's a sermon about prayer for those who might be interested.
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Bill Hybels on Leadership Books

While there are a few nuances of our faiths that are different, I deeply respect Bill Hybels, especially his thinking on the importance of leading the local church well. Below is a list of books Hybels compiled. These are books he suggests people read to hone their leadership thinking and abilities in a variety of areas. I'll highlight in Red those that I have read completely, and in Blue those I have read sections or excerpts.

Brian Tracy

Authentic Leadership
Bill George

Tough Choices
Carly Fiorina

Leadership Can Be Taught
Sharon Daloz Parks

Jack Welch & Suzy Welch

Courage: The Backbone of Leadership
Gus Lee & Diane Elliott-Lee

Leadership: The Inner Side of Greatness
Peter Koestenbaum

The 360° Leader
John Maxwell

Executive Intelligence
Justin Menkes

The Prepared Mind of a Leader
Bill Welter & Jean Egmon

Intuition at Work
Gary Klein

Resonant Leadership
Richard Boyatzis & Annie McKee

Great Leadership
Antony Bell

The Leadership Mystique
Manfred Kets De Vries

Leading in Black and White
Ancella B. Livers & Keith Caver

The One Thing You Need to Know
Marcus Buckingham

Launching a Leadership Revolution
Chris Brady & Orrin Woodward

Leaders: Strategies for Taking Charge (2nd ed.)
Warren Bennis

Paths to Power
Anthony J. Mayo, Nitin Nohria, Laura G. Singleton

Juan Williams.

The Leadership Gap
David S. Weiss & Vince Molinaro

Project Leadership
James P. Lewis

Leading Quietly
Joseph L. Bodarracco, Jr.

Ladder Shifts
Samuel Chand

Taking Advice
Dan Ciampa

Gary Neilson & Bruce Pasternack

Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

Leadership Passages
David L. Dotlich, James L. Noel, Norman Walker

A Bias for Action
Heinke Bruch & Sumantra Ghoshal

The Highest Goal
Jim Collins

Primal Leadership
Daniel Goleman, Annie McKee & Richard E. Boyatzis

Flexible Leadership
Gary Yukl & Richard Lepsinger

The Ethical Challenge
Noel Tichy & Andrew R. McGill

Changing Minds
Howard Gardner

Driven: How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices
Paul Lawrence & Nitin Nohria

Culture Shift
Robert Lewis & Wayne Cordeiro

The Future of Leadership
Warren Bennis, Gretchen Spreitszer & Thomas Cummings

Silos, Politics & Turf Wars
Patrick Lencioni

Building the Bridge As You Walk on It
Robert E. Quinn

Leading the Way
Robert Gandossy & Mark Effron, Hewitt Associates

Value Leadership
Peter S. Cohan

Business Evolves, Leadership Endures
Andrea Redmond & Charles A. Tribbett, III

The Next Generation Leader
Andy Stanley

Grow Your Own Leaders
William C. Byhan, Sudrey B. Smith & Matthew J. Paese

The Go Point
Michael Useem

Competitive Strategy
Michael E. Porter

Henry Cloud

Leadership on the Line
Martin Linsky & Ronald Heifetz

Nobody in Charge
Harlan Cleveland & Warren Bennis

(HT: Todd Rhodes)

(You can also find other great stuff on the Willow Creek Blogs)

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ruth 4:13-22 - Sermon #5 in Ruth Series

This past Sunday I concluded my sermon series from the book of Ruth. The text is posted on the First Congregational Church of Waseca website - The ending of Ruth dovetails quite nicely with Mother's Day. I had intended on only spending 4 weeks on Ruth, one week per chapter, but stretched it when I realized that I had too much in Ruth 4 to cover in one week, and that it would give me a natural sermon that goes with Mother's Day.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Identifying how and why you do church

Larry Brey, Assimilation Pastor at Elevation Church in Charlotte, NC had the following thoughts to share on the Access Elevation Blog. Pastor Brey was examining the idea of closing the back door - keeping people in you church when they visit.

As you evaluate your own church and assimilation strategy ask yourself a few questions:
What is the vision of your church?
What do you want the culture of your church to look like?
What does it mean to be a part of your church?
Who does Sunday morning exist for, is it for the exhortation of the believer or is it for those who are far from God?
The answers to these questions will tell you a lot about what your doors need to look like.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ruth 4:1-12 - Sermon #4 in Ruth Series

I have posted my sermon from this past weekend at - the website for the church I pastor.

Originally I was going to preach all of Chapter 4 this past Sunday, but I cut it back Saturday night to just Ruth 4:1-12. I did this for two reasons. First, we were doing communion and some other stuff during the worship service, and if I had a long sermon or ran long we would have an exceptionally long service. I don't worry a whole lot about my time preaching, though I shoot for 20-30 minutes. I probably would've gone over the 30 minute mark, and with all the other stuff I felt that was just too much. The second reason I saved the last half of Ruth 4 for this coming week is that I think it ties in well with Mother's Day. I thought the way this story ends would be perfect for tie-ins to Mother's Day things, so rather than having to find another message for Mother's Day, I'll use the one I've already been working on.

This sermon series on Ruth has really gone well. People are giving a lot of great feedback on it, and I feel like they are connecting with my message and illustrations.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Honor and Bless Your Pastor

So my congregants know, I'm not pining for the below. I share articles like this because I have a readership that far predates my being a pastor, and is a mix of people in many churches.

For the record, I don't want a Rolls-Royce either. I'd settle for a car that doesn't cost me annually in repair bills what it's actual resale value is! Though a late 60's/early 70's Corvette Stingray with the big block would be nice... :-)

Clayton King writes about Honoring Your Pastor

Restoring Honor

I am sure that a post of this sort offers itself to misunderstanding. I write it nonetheless, in hopes that you will hear my heart and glean the good from it.

The church in America seems to have lost the ancient, and dare I even say Biblical understanding of correctly honoring the man of God; one who dedicates his life to service to God and God’s people (this could be the worship leader, youth minister, or most often the pastor). We have confused honor with obsession, treat our ministers like hired hands, and become addicted to personalities on TV or the internet and swallow anything they try to sell us while starving our local pastor on a salary that allows him to qualify for food stamps.

There is a distrust and skepticism afoot that is a result of the hideous scandals of the 1980’s. And I do believe that the Swaggart and Baker scandals were, in the long run, good for the family of God. That bubble had to burst, and the scripture had to come true that judgement must first begin in the house of God. There have been plenty more, even the Ted Haggard scandal of recent days, that have caused the world to view us with a cynical eye. We should expect this and live our lives accordingly so that the world can see a true Christian witness. But in the wake of these scandals, not to mention Enron and WorldCom, there is a “mood” where it seems that churches treat pastors as expendable, replaceable, for hire and for fire. We almost automatically distrust anyone in leadership now.

I am not advocating that the church makes the pastor a little king of a little kingdom with freedom to do or say whatever he wants. That is insanity. I am advocating for a return to honoring the man of God, not worshiping him, but understanding the heavy burden laid upon him, the struggles and pressures he faces on a daily basis that NOBODY else experiences, and the specific needs the pastor faces that are uncommon to all other people in the church.

Perhaps this is the reason so many pastors burn out and quit ministry. The statistics are staggering, so much so that the Eli Lilly Foundation is pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into churches, seminaries, and other non-profits to try and figure out why pastors walk away and how they can help stop the mass exit. When questioned as to this reality, pastors who quit most often say that a lack of support from the church and lack of understanding from the members as to the stresses and pressures of the job is the largest contributing factor to pastoral burnout.

Can we regain a sense of honoring the man of God without becoming obsessed with personalities or worshiping persona's? Of course we can. Pray for your pastor. Slip a $100 bill in his hand after church. Send him and his wife on a cruise. Give them gift certificates to their favorite restaurants. Babysit their kids so they can have a night out to watch a movie and eat a good meal. Stand up for them when you hear gossip. Get their back when they cannot defend themselves against the untrue accusations of others. Encourage the deacons or the elders to take up a special love offering for your pastors family once a year, honoring them with respect and generosity.

When I was a young boy, my daddy and I got our hair cut every other Saturday morning at Garrett’s barbershop in Fountain Inn. And every time that a local pastor would come in the barbershop to get a haircut, all the men waiting would stand up, take off their hats, shake hands with the pastor, and it made a heavy impression on me as a little boy. Since then, I have made it a personal goal to always honor the pastor when I go somewhere to preach, to always honor him from the stage, to tell him publicly how much I appreciate him and his family and their sacrifice for the church, and then to tell him personally and privately how much I look up to him. This simple practice has opened up friendships between me and hundreds of pastors over the years. Sometimes, they just need to know that we believe in them and that we’ve got their back when they need us. Let’s restore honor, correctly, to the man of God in the church.

John Piper writes about Blessing Your Pastor

Piper says:

How can I bless my pastor?

Lead somebody to Christ. Live a holy life. Don't lose your faith when you get cancer. Bring up your kid to love Christ. Do something radical for missions.

The common denominator for all of those is that you prove by your life that I haven't wasted mine.

Don't give me a Rolls-Royce when I turn sixty. I would've wasted my life if you think you're blessing me with some big financial gift when I'm sixty. I want to see your life changed. I want to see you pour yourself out for others. And I'm sure that's what you're asking about.

I get in prayer meetings and listen to my people pray, and I say, "That's what I'm living for."

They're holding on to Jesus. Life is falling apart for them over here, but they're not giving up on the Lord. They're rejoicing in him. Or I hear a man tell about how he shared Christ at his work.

Those are the things that make a pastor endure anything.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

The Electronic Sign by Tony Morgan

The other day I was driving down the road going about 50 mph. Just in case you're wondering, that's not quite fast enough.

I passed an organization with a big sign out front. Part of the sign includes an electronic message board that rotates messages. I don't know how many messages there are. At 50 mph, I only saw one. And, because of that, I know that it was precisely "8:28" when I passed the sign.

The funny thing about that is that I didn't really need to know that it was 8:28. I already had that information from my car and cell phone clocks.

It made me wonder though...

  • Didn't they realize that I'm going fast and that it's difficult for me to take in more than one message?
  • Or, did they think all their messages were important enough that it would force me to stop?
  • Did they know they were answering a question I wasn't asking?
  • Are they aware that the fancy flashing electronic sign caused me to miss whatever message they were sharing on the non-electronic portion of their sign?
  • Do they know that they caught my attention but failed to generate an opportunity to respond?

You know what's funny about this? There's probably a group of people meeting in that organization thinking, "He missed our message because he wouldn't slow down." Then, to affirm their position, someone will likely point out: "Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."

And, rather than changing the methods for communicating their message, they'll continue blaming me for not hearing it.


Tony is exactly right on this one. You aren't changing the message, just the method. So many churches fail to grasp this, and it is tragic. It limits their kingdom impact.

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