This past week I presented two workshops at “the largest gathering of church planters in the world” – at the Exponential Conference. Over 5000 people attended while another 20,000 leaders watched through a live webcast. It was extraordinary to see so many men and women with a passion to serve Jesus and offer their entire lives to advance His kingdom in the 21st century. I was in awe of God as I listened to speakers and learned new things about what God was doing in different parts of the world. As I interacted, however, with young pastors, missionaries, superintendents, and denominational leaders, it became readily apparent (to me at least) that at least four temptations threaten to derail what God wants to do through His church going forward: 1. Drivenness – Cattle are driven. Sheep are led. The word doesn’t belong in our vocabulary. The primary call for us as preachers/leaders/pastors is to embrace a. Read more.
The following are a few of my recent questions, puzzles, and reflections around the working out of my active life as a Christian leader with a commitment to serve out of a foundation of a deep, interior, contemplative life. Much like Dag Hammarskjold’s Markings, some of this is disjointed as it comes out of my journal reflections, my puzzles in prayer with god, along with my readings over the past couple of months (This includes: Bernard of Clairvaux’s sermons on the Song of Songs, the Desert Fathers, Merton on St. Bernard, and Alicia Britt Chole’s little book Anonymous: Jesus’ Hidden Years and Yours.) 90% percent of Jesus’ ministry, 29 years, was spent in obscurity, hiddenness, and the unseen. This was as important as his 3 active years. They provided the character foundation for Him to walk through the temptations of the wilderness and the pressures from the people around him. These years also empowered Him to live an eternally fruitful. Read more.
When I became a Christian my sophomore year in college, I was birthed into a community (IVCF) that linked the gospel and the bridging of racial, economic and cultural barriers. It was not a specific “calling” for some but a biblical mandate that filled us with visiona and hope. I see the Holy Spirit moving in a similar way today as large numbers of young people are passionate to build multicultural churches that demonstrate the power of the gospel. When Geri and I planted New Life Fellowship Church 22 years ago, we chose Elmhurst/Corona, Queens, as a strategic location for the church due to the fact that individuals from more than 120 nations live in the area. In addition, the neighborhood consisted then, as it does now, of poor, working, and middle-class New Yorkers. So while we recognized the benefits of such a location and desired to bridge the racial, cultural, and economic barriers for. Read more.
A hermit saw someone laughing , and said to him, “We have to render an account of our whole life before heaven and earth, and you can laugh?” Sayings of the Desert Fathers This coming, at New Life, we will bring in New Year’s Eve, starting at 6 p.m. with food, a couple of dance lessons, games, a brief time of worship around midnight and then dancing till 2 a.m. We have done this for the last nine years. Each year I struggle with the few nasty e-mails we receive (this year they are national). A voice in my head argues, “Every other church in NYC is praying and you are leading your people to a party!, you worldly compromiser! What are you mad?” Geri is the one who patiently encouraged me to break from the pack years ago and “allow” an intergenerational, pleasureable, clean, fun event as part of our spiritual formation/discipleship here at NLF. Most of us leaders are “pleasure/delight deficient”,. Read more.
I have been resisting the enormous changes happening in our culture around social networking and the internet for some time (e.g. responding to Blogs!). But after Drew Hyun, one of our pastors, showed me around Facebook and how he was using it to lead, I finally got it. I now have a “fan club” on Facebook! The following is a summary of what I shared at our all staff meeting at NLF last week: The world has drastically changed. The CEO of Nelson Publishers sent a memo to all writers a few months ago saying that the way we get the word out in the 21st century has gone through a revolution and we had better get adept at the new technologies if we intend to lead. I then read Tribes by Seth Godwin. Godwin describes a Tribe as any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader and an idea. Blogs, social networking sites,. Read more.
Geri and I were in the car last weekend driving in beautiful upstate New York, taking one of our daughters to look at colleges and began talking about the dynamics of leadership. Soon, we realized we had stumbled upon a simple, but powerful process of leading well – at least in God’s church — that is now helping us quite a bit. 1. Monitor Your Heart. Whether it is preparing for sermons, reading a book on strategy, sitting through a staff meeting, or deciding on priorities, I am guarding my heart. Is my motive really God’s glory or is this about me? Am I anxious? If so why, and how is that impacting my decisions now? Am I avoiding a challenging reality? a confrontation? Is the content of this sermon I am preparing simply head knowledge? How does it speak to my life? Am I really living what I am preaching? This of course requires. Read more.