Instead of highlighting The Fastest Growing Churches, I recommend we highlight The Slowest Churches, i.e. those that help us most to slow down and pay attention to God, ourselves, and others. When our churches continually remind our people that “only one thing is needful,” we strategically position them to be a gift to the world (Luke 10:42). Here are 5 reasons why I believe this is true: Going slow makes possible… The doing of God’s best plans. I love the story, told in Wayne Mueller’s Sabbath, of a USA international agency in the 1990’s and their frenzied plan to address needs of a famine in equatorial Africa. In failing to be quiet, listen to the people, and study the soil, they developed a short-term solution that actually worsened the problem in the long term. We too are dangerous when we move at high speed. The receiving of Scripture in our hearts. According to Jesus,. Read more.
Geri and I just returned from 7 days in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a 1,090,000-acre (4,400 km2) area on the border of Minnesota and Canada. A motorized boat carried us deep into the wilderness. They picked us up 7 days later at the same location. There would be no emergency number for us or our family, no cell phone contact, and no ability to leave early. This was on Geri’s bucket list. She has been preparing since January and was thrilled. I was reluctant but following her, hoping for the best. Nonetheless, it turned out to be one of the best weeks of my life. God had a few things He wanted to teach me: His love really is found in nature. We canoed from campsite to campsite and portaged, i.e. carried our canoe and gear over land between lakes, as needed. For years Geri had been telling me to get my nose out of a book. Read more.
This blog is an update from last year called Summer Spirituality. I re-wrote it because I believe this theme needs to be revisited each year by each of us, starting with me. The Bible teaches there is a time and a season for “everything under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). God has built this into the very fabric of nature’s seasons as we observe the cycle of death and newness every winter and summer. Our churches experience seasons. And so do we. These seasons are limits given to us by God. They are gifts from His hand meant to keep us grounded and humble. I have violated God’s seasons in my leadership more times than I want to remember. But treating our vacations, and summers, as mini-Sabbaticals can be powerful if we build this into our lives. The way we do this can be summarized in three words. Receive. Summers are a time to do less. Read more.
Human beings have always been in a hurry. God has never been in a hurry. God waited a very, very, very long time, after Adam and Eve, before He called Abraham. God waited almost two thousand more years before entering human history in the person of Jesus. God (in the person of Jesus) waited almost 30 years before beginning his public ministry. God waited to gather and disciple the Twelve. God waited through his arrest and crucifixion rather than call on the legions of angels at his disposal. From the beginning to the end of Scripture, we discover stories of God teaching his people patience. Abraham had to wait 25 years. Joseph waited between 15 and 25 years. Moses waited until he was 80 years old to begin his ministry. Israel waited 40 years in the wilderness. It was Tertullian (204 AD from North Africa) who wrote that, when the Holy Spirit descends, patience. Read more.
I am a great lover of books. I am also a believer that reading broadly and deeply is foundational if we are to offer good leadership in a rapidly changing and global context. Reading offers unique opportunities for us to grow, expand into worlds beyond our own, and to be mentored by people we will never meet. Here are my top 10 books from the last six months that you may want to consider adding to your list: 1. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis – Robert D. Putnam Putnam, a Harvard social scientist, has written a classic that I believe is a “must read” for church leadership teams. He explores in penetrating detail how rich and poor Americans are now living, learning, and raising children in increasingly separate and unequal worlds. Moreover, he shows convincingly that we are facing a crisis in that kids from privileged backgrounds are starting and finishing further and further. Read more.
It is hard to be a Christian at Christmas – especially for pastors and leaders. Why? We can blame the culture, the powers and principalities that want to cut us off from Jesus, or the unrealistic expectations people place on us. While these are indeed factors, the primary responsibility rests with how we understand our role as leaders. These are 5 common mistakes we make: 1. We skimp on our time with Jesus in our work for Jesus. As a result, we preach revelations about the eternal Word of God assuming human flesh without the time to swim and worship in the wonder of it all. The pressure of too much to do, in too little time, causes us to push a button into an “autopilot” spirituality. We speak of profound spiritual realities, but our hearts slowly shrink. What can we do? Follow Jesus by going off “to a solitary place and pray” (Mark 1:35).. Read more.