Tag Archives: leadership

Motives of Goodness

 

charity workers

Take a moment and think about your last choice to do the right thing. It have been an internal motivation, but dig a bit deeper. What is behind that? What worldview?

Oswald Chambers describes how our view of authority, obedience, and the human spirit work together.

 

There is nothing miraculous or mysterious about the things we can explain. We control what we are able to explain, consequently it is only natural to seek an explanation for everything. It is not natural to obey, yet it is not necessarily sinful to disobey. There can be no real disobedience, nor any moral virtue in obedience, unless a person recognizes the higher authority of the one giving the orders. If this recognition does not exist, even the one giving the orders may view the other person’s disobedience as freedom. If one rules another by saying, “You must do this,” and, “You will do that,” he breaks the human spirit, making it unfit for God. A person is simply a slave for obeying, unless behind his obedience is the recognition of a holy God.

Oswald Chambers (click here for his full article)

Perhaps you can take just a moment to think of God’s holiness. And think of why you obey. What supports that? And what can improve your practical ethics.

I’d love to hear your ideas.

(part 1) The Living God vs. our dead idols

 

The Holy Fire did not consume the bush

 

Fire:

1. Normally destructive

2. A consuming chemical reaction

3. In art, symbolism, movies, and maybe in the human psyche, fire is seen as a living being, of sorts.

For example, witness lines of the film, Backdraft, 1991.

Robert De Niro’s character- Donald ‘Shadow’ Rimgale: It’s a living thing, Brian. It breathes, it eats, and it hates. The only way to beat it is to think like it. To know that this flame will spread this way across the door and up across the ceiling, not because of the physics of flammable liquids, but because it wants to. Some guys on this job, the fire owns them, makes ’em fight it on it’s level, but the only way to truly kill it is to love it a little. Just like Ronald.

Many times we function in life as if God is an idea. God may be getting frozen in our mind. Static. Stiff. Or maybe we think of God in relationship to things past: Bible stories, fixed doctrinal positions, the holy and immovable One.

Yet God is the only Living God. The Highest. All the other things we worship are dead, or they can make us numb, dead-like. Getting our fix of whatever…people, gossip, technology, gadgets, velocity, power, status, (etc. maybe you can think of others) are all tertiary distractions, fool’s gold. They don’t bring life, or growth, but instead more craving.

Let’s share a bit, shall we? Please list a dead god you’ve worshiped. (If you can, include some adjectives about it.)

Thank you for reading. 🙂

Are You Discouraged?

Oswald Chambers

 

 

Oswald Chambers meditation:

. . . when Moses was grown . . . he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens —Exodus 2:11

 

Moses saw the oppression of his people and felt certain that he was the one to deliver them, and in the righteous indignation of his own spirit he started to right their wrongs. After he launched his first strike for God and for what was right, God allowed Moses to be driven into empty discouragement, sending him into the desert to feed sheep for forty years. At the end of that time, God appeared to Moses and said to him, ” ’. . . bring My people . . . out of Egypt.’ But Moses said to God, ’Who am I that I should go . . . ?’ ” (Exodus 3:10-11). In the beginning Moses had realized that he was the one to deliver the people, but he had to be trained and disciplined by God first. He was right in his individual perspective, but he was not the person for the work until he had learned true fellowship and oneness with God.
We may have the vision of God and a very clear understanding of what God wants, and yet when we start to do it, there comes to us something equivalent to Moses’ forty years in the wilderness. It’s as if God had ignored the entire thing, and when we are thoroughly discouraged, God comes back and revives His call to us. And then we begin to tremble and say, “Who am I that I should go . . . ?” We must learn that God’s great stride is summed up in these words— “I AM WHO I AM . . . has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14). We must also learn that our individual effort for God shows nothing but disrespect for Him— our individuality is to be rendered radiant through a personal relationship with God, so that He may be “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). We are focused on the right individual perspective of things; we have the vision and can say, “I know this is what God wants me to do.” But we have not yet learned to get into God’s stride. If you are going through a time of discouragement, there is a time of great personal growth ahead.

Have you thought about discouragement in this way?

Your thoughts or comments are encouraged.

MLK: Love Your Enemies

 

Pastor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 

 

The following is an excerpt of the last portion of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech entitled,

Loving Your Enemies
November 17 1957

…And our civilization must discover that. Individuals must discover that as they deal with other individuals. There is a little tree planted on a little hill and on that tree hangs the most influential character that ever came in this world. But never feel that that tree is a meaningless drama that took place on the stages of history. Oh no, it is a telescope through which we look out into the long vista of eternity, and see the love of God breaking forth into time. It is an eternal reminder to a power-drunk generation that love is the only way. It is an eternal reminder to a generation depending on nuclear and atomic energy, a generation depending on physical violence, that love is the only creative, redemptive, transforming power in the universe.

So this morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” And I’m foolish enough to believe that through the power of this love somewhere, men of the most recalcitrant bent will be transformed. And then we will be in God’s kingdom. We will be able to matriculate into the university
of eternal life because we had the power to love our enemies, to bless those persons that cursed us, to even decide to be good to those persons who hated us, and we even prayed for those persons who despitefully used us.

Oh God, help us in our lives and in all of our attitudes, to work out this controlling force of love, this controlling power that can solve every problem that we confront in all areas. Oh, we talk about politics; we talk about the problems facing our atomic civilization. Grant that all men will come together and discover that as we solve the crisis and solve these problems—the international problems, the problems of atomic energy, the problems of nuclear energy, and yes, even the race problem—let us join together in a great fellowship of love and bow down at the feet of Jesus. Give us this strong determination. In the name and spirit of this Christ, we pray. Amen.

[full speech here.]

Please leave your comments. Thank you.

[Did you know] Mark Driscoll is Gay?

macho man: Mark Driscoll (in a flattering blouse)

Mark Driscoll is gay? Don’t kill the messenger…I didn’t come up with this.

You can find a pretty solid case here, compiled from his friend Don Miller, who–years ago–coined him, “the cussing pastor” in his best-selling book Blue Like Jazz. (When I say “case”…I mean Donald seems to describe Driscoll, in embarrassing detail, right along with [other] male leaders with gay scandals. Maybe it’s a connect-the-dots, or connect the nipples kind of thing.)

Another person to recently point out Mark’s hyper (and suspicious) masculinity, is Brett McCracken, within the pages of his new book Hipster Christianity, (pages 103-105.) Get a free copy here.

AND-gosh-don’t get me started on John Eldredge!

Over-compensate much, Mark?

  • “There is a strong drift toward the hard theological left. Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” –Mark Driscoll [4]
    (There’s a common theme of guy-on-guy fights/violence with Driscoll. You may remember he showed, the hot and sweaty brawl movie “Fight Club” as an official church event. Hum.)

Mark Driscoll's Jesus: Tough and Buff.

Mark, if you’re reading this, you can stop over-doing it to throw us off track. Don and I both realize you’ve painted yourself into a corner, Mark. The gig is up, dude.

(A bit like gay twins?) Driscoll and Gay WWF wrestler "Giant Gonzales"

Nevertheless. IF Driscoll was gay, we would love him anyway. Right, everyone?

(If you support Mark, no matter what, click the share button at the bottom. If you’re not a fan, um. do the same thing. If you think Mark could NOT be gay, click the share button–Twice.)

And, Don, thanks for bringing up the issue. Where would we be without you? Just in IgnorantVille, I guess.

As a reader, what do you think? There’s a punchline in here somewhere. Can you spot it?

Is Mark Driscoll too overtly macho, and (like recent pastors caught in self-created sexual hypocrisy -Eddie Long and Ted Haggard), too anti-gay to be straight?

Am I joking about Driscoll? Sure. I’m a humorist. (See subheading of this blog.) Despite loads of circumstantial evidence, and the writing stylings of Don Miller, Mark’s certain proclivity could remain a mystery, much like Theodicy, or atonement theories. This is all probably just a loooong series of coincidences. If Mark is gay, or tempted with homosexual thoughts or feelings, I’m sure we could trust that he’d just open up and tell us–straight out. Um. I mean, well, you know. Right? Right?

🙂

DYING Churches: “The boneYARD” interview with John O’Keefe

boneYARD, by John O'Keefe

In his new book, boneYARD: creatives will change the way we lead in the church, John O’Keefe tackles an issue rampant in the United States: the overwhelming trend of dying and dead churches. He also speaks to a pet topic of mine: the prevalent misguided practices that give churches supposed membership growth. [What I’ve called, “Poaching from the Choir”.]

You may know of John through his creative project ginkworld.

Here are his interesting answers to 6 questions about the issues discussed in boneYARD. Your comments or questions are welcome.

1. John, you use the terms “industrial church” and “conceptual church”, and so on, referring to eras. Can you briefly explain the terms you use; and -Do you think most churches are caught somewhere in the middle, or have they been fallen behind?

The industrial church is a church that centers on the principles of “Maxwellian Leadership.”  The ideas that grew out of the Industrial Revolution, where there needs to be a “CEO” (Pastor) and “Vice-CEO” (Associate Pastors) to control the organization.  The central motive of this style of leadership is to see the church as a business, and everything the leader does centers on benefiting the organization.  People are seen as assets and they are used to benefit the organization – “what will help the church.”  They are very logical, linear, and focused on profit.  For them, profit is defined in terms of the offering and getting people in the pews.  But, if the attendance is going down, and offerings are going up they do not see a problem.  I read an article earlier where it explained how the Evangelical Lutherans are declining in numbers (most churches are), but that there was no reason to fear because giving was on an increase.

The conceptual church is forming today.  Leadership (if that is even a valid term in a Conceptual Age) focuses on the organism; the organization holds little value.  Everything a conceptual leader does focuses on the person, the organism, and centers on how we relate to others.  In the Conceptual Age we think in terms of personality traits of a conceptual leader; people have personalities, machines have qualities.

While some are in the middle, struggling to find their voice, even fewer are in front of the curve, in my research I have found most churches are far behind the curve.  They are stuck in the idea that they need to keep doing what they have always done, and those outside the church need to change to fit into their world.

2. Do you think it’s apt to say that for a great many churches, an increase in membership has more to do with (as I like to say) “poaching believers from other churches”? (Or poaching from the choir.)

I love the visual of “poaching.”  Sometime back I wrote an article entitled “Three Kinds of Fishing” where I saw the possibilities as pole fishing, net fishing, or tank fishing, but I love the visual of poaching.   I believe most churches are growing because of poaching.  Poaching is easy for the church.  I love churches that advertise on Christian Radio; the question we need to ask is “Who are they trying to reach?”  I don’t know any “non-follower” listening to Christian Radio.  Churches that advertise on Christian Radio prove the point.  Their ads are targeted to those already going to church and say, “Come to our church, our pastor is cooler, our music is better, our service is exciting, and we will not bug you to get involved.”

Some churches even go as far as to count people who come from other traditions as “new believers.”  The Baptists and the Non-Denominational Church of Christ are the ones who do this the best.  I use to attend a church is Las Vegas called Central Christian (Currently about 15,000 people), when it was just over 300 people.  One of my family members was attending the church also and he was required to be “re-baptized” in order to become a leader in the church.  Even though he had been a follower for years before he attended the church.  They counted him as a “new believer.”  Soon, he left Central and started to attend a Southern Baptist Church in the area, and was required to be “re-baptized” and was counted as a “new believer.”  These churches count everyone who was not baptized in their method as a “new believer.”  This inflates numbers, sure – but more than that, it tells everyone who is not “one of them” you are wrong and we are right.

3. What’s the difference between church growth and kingdom growth? and, What is your best nugget of advise for those in ministry regarding church growth and kingdom growth?

Church growth centers on growing an individual church, so taking from another church is seen as an easy form of church growth.  Kingdom growth centers on growing the Kingdom, and sees people in other traditions as part of the church universal.  Kingdom growth centers on not caring what church the person is involved with, but that they understand the love and grace of God.  When I was at 247 we use to have teens coming to all our events, and many times those teens would ask about our services.  I would encourage them to get connected to the churches their parents attended and go as a family.

I think the best thing I can share with churches today is to not concern yourself with growing your church, center on growing God’s Kingdom.  When we focus on growing God’s Kingdom we move out from the walls of the church, and into the communities we are called to serve.  We desire to share the message of hope with people, who need to know the love of God through Christ, and we are avatars of Christ to the world around us – we are the incarnation of Christ to the world.  Our care is more for inviting people into God, and not into our church.

4. There will always be left-brained thinkers. If the new era of leadership is right-brained, as you say, what should these people do?

Change, embrace their right side.  Keep in mind, being right brain dominate does not ignore those who are left brain dominate.  The idea in a Conceptual Age is that right brains will be the dominate side and left brains will play a subordinate role.  In my research I came upon a study I mention in the book that says 98% of us are born right brain dominate and creative, while 2% are born left brain dominate.  Over time, our educational system causes those numbers to flip, causing 2% to be right brain dominate and 98% left brain dominate.  It is amazing that our educational system flips the numbers to left brain dominance.   This is because, in an Industrial Age, we need more left brain thinkers to “oversee” others.

5. In your opinion, does the “bone yard phenomenon” (of vast numbers of churches closing) have anything to do with apprehending church and/or the church building from a materialist and modernist vantage point? And how can we do better?

While I believe it matters little where a community of faith gathers, for the industrial church the building has become an albatross.  Some churches spend more on building upkeep then they do on ministry and care.   Between salaries, mortgage payments, utility bills and upkeep a major part of the budget is spent just to keep things going.  Because of that, the leadership focuses on keeping the building afloat, and less on reaching those who are not followers of Christ.  So, they strive and strive to increase the numbers in their pews to fill their coffers and less on bringing people into a life changing reality that Christ offers all people.  This is one of the reasons I believe the church is comfortable with poaching.  If they are poaching they are attracting givers who will help keep the building going.

6. With all the churches closing, and new ones not meeting the needs, is there any way out of the boneyard?

You bet there is.  I see all the churches closing as a good thing, not a bad thing.  I see the churches failure to reach a new generation as a good thing as well.  Why?  Because it is causing us to wake-up, and move out of the church.  Many churches are waking up to the realization that what they are doing is not working, so they are now open to change.  The only thing that is holding them back is that they do not know how to make the change.  Keep in mind, deciding to change and actually changing are two different things.

Conversation about change is a waste of time, we simply need to change.  The future looks bright for the church willing to make the change and reach a conceptual mindset.  While boneYARD is not a program, I believe it is a good starting point to make those changes.

Thank you, John.

If you would like to try for a free signed copy of boneYARD, leave a comment, and tell us if you’ve seen churches closing in your region, Or, tell us the approximate % of worshipers per Sunday in your church that may be the product of poaching.

Featured Guest Writer- Professor Doug Jackson (not a futurist)

Professor Doug Jackson

Today’s Featured Writer has something to say about the future of the church. But, he has an altogether different perspective, than our previous guest writer, John O’Keefe, and actually, most people. And this, in a nutshell, is Doug Jackson. But you could ever squeeze him into a nutshell, so never mind. He is a thoughtful and gifted thinker, a searching pilgrim, a devoted Christian, and a baking whiz. And, he’s topped with more than a modest dollop of wisecrackiness.

Please enjoy and interact with Doug’s contribution.

Mini-Bio: Doug Jackson

Director of Logsdon Programs, Instructor of Spiritual Formation at South Texas School of Christian Studies, in Corpus Christi, TX.

  • D.Min. – Truett Seminary ( 2006)
  • M.Div. – Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1985)
  • B.A. – English Literature, Grand Canyon College (1982)

The Church with a Future

-Doug Jackson

John O’Keefe is a futurist.  I find that intimidating as heck.  Personally, I’m a traditionalist.  I can quantify the difference.  Tramping through the jungle, a futurist and a traditionalist happen on some tiger tracks.  “You track him,” suggests the traditionalist, “and find out where he’s going.  I’ll backtrack and find out where he’s been.”

There isn’t even a cool name for the preferred direction for my arrow of time.  “Futurist” conjures up images of, well, guys with shaven heads and soul patches.  “Traditoinalist” calls up images of guys with bald heads (which is SO not the same thing) and no soul at all.  This part I can at least work on.  I think from now on instead of “traditionalist,” I’ll call myself a “past-er.”

So what can a past-er say to the church’s future?  If there is, in the words of T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, “time for a hundred visions and revisions” of the people of God in community, how much time do we have (and should we allow) for a rear-vision?  Not too much, I don’t guess.  Accordingly, I want to state a thesis and offer three theories.  My thesis is that, whatever the church OF the future looks like, the church WITH a future will be the one with a past.

To speak of the church OF the future is simply to make a chronological observation.  It means “the church that isn’t here yet.”  It doesn’t tell us much about what this church will do or how long it will last.  By the church WITH a future I mean the local community with staying power.  And this church, I believe, has a future precisely because it has a past.  Which leaves my three notions of what such a church looks like.

First, I believe that the church with a future cares less about the draft of its craft than the depth of its ocean.  In his eightieth sonnet, Shakespeare admits to his chick that other poets can praise her better.  So why should he keep scribbling?  Then the bard continues:

But since your worth, wide as the ocean is,

The humble as the proudest sail doth bear,

My saucy bark inferior far to his

On your broad main doth willfully appear.

Your shallowest help will hold me up afloat,

Whilst he upon your soundless deep doth ride.

In other words, what matters is that her merit can bear the burden of grand praises and meager ones. I come from a generation of ministers who learned that good meant big so bigger meant better.  I think the church with a future looks back on the mighty acts of God in history and realizes that the Queen Mary of the megachurch and the rowboat dinghy of the corner congregation all float on the vast sea of God’s greatness, and that plumbing this depth, not scaling our own impressive rigging, is what counts.

Second, I believe that the church with a future cares more about reading its story than writing its narrative.  “Narrative” seems to be a big word in church these days.  As far as I can tell, it has a lot to do with composing our own future in a compelling way that attaches single acts of worship or service to a greater purpose.  I’m all for that, but I think it is important to remember that, at best, we’re writing one chapter in a very long book whose plot is already clearly laid out.  This even works at the local church level.  Eugene Peterson warns us in The Contemplative Pastor that, “the cure of souls takes time to read the minutes of the previous meeting, a meeting more likely than not at which I was not present.”

We find those minutes recorded in church history and church hymnals, two documents which have fallen from favor in my own denomination, where we seem to believe that the church poll-vaulted from Pentecost over several regrettable centuries until she landed safely in our own generation.  That’s why we jettisoned a songbook that came to us polished by millennia of theological mulling on the part of the worldwide body of Christ and opted instead for toe-tappers and hand-clappers that can give us no idea of who we are.

I’m not knocking contemporary music, nor do I believe the Spirit quit inspiring songwriters somewhere around the time Fanny Crosby died.  But because more recent music has not had the advantage of the filtering years, I would like to apply C. S. Lewis’ dictum about books to the business of congregational singing:  “After (singing) a new (song), never allow yourself another new one till you have (sung) an old one in between.  If that is too much, you should at least (sing) one old one to every three new ones.”  (I should admit here that Lewis disliked ALL hymns because he thought the poetry was bad.  He’s probably right, but to me it seems that their theology is rather good.)

Finally, I believe that the church with a future cares more about present faithfulness than future viability.  Because the church of the future will be a mess.  Do what we will (and I hope we will), she will remain a morass of carnality and littleness and arguments over service times and carpet samples for the new fellowship hall.  And she will be the Body of Christ, the one institution Jesus ever promised to care about, and one which he said would sit on an unshakable foundation.

So the church with a future doesn’t spend too much time reading the chicken guts of the changing culture and dealing a Tarot deck of trends.  She doesn’t cross with sliver the grasping palms of earringed “consultants” ensconced in dark tents of occult insider info.

Lewis’ Screwtape rightly warns his protégé Wormwood that the proper focus of human endeavor is the junction of Right Now and Forever which leads us to ask what we need to do in the former in order to serve the latter.  But “the future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity.”

The beauty of futurists like John is that they won’t let us rest in Merlin’s tower forever gazing at some ecclesiastical zodiac; they keep demanding that we do something about this stuff.  They refuse to let us fall into Screwtape’s trap of forgetting that the future is not (Screwtape again) “a promised land which favoured heroes attain,” but rather “something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

In short, I should simply say that the Church is the church with a future.  For two thousand years we have hijacked her with our high-handedness, betrayed, bureaucratized, bushwhacked and bamboozled her, tarted her up, sold her out, locked her in and dragged her down.  We have made her impertinent, irrelevant, irreverent and irritating.  We have used her to camouflage our carnality and let the slimming stripes of the martyrs’ scars hide the midriff bulge of our overfed carnality.  “And for all this,” the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins reminds us (if I may take a large liberty), Christ’s church

. . . is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; 10
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over Christ’s bent
(Bride) broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

What feedback do you have for Doug?