Over my 22 years of pastoring NLF, we have contracted with an outside coach to lead our pastoral staff in a strategic planning process at least 5 different times. I was reluctant to do a strategic plan again. The church was doing well. Yes, we were at a transition in a number of areas. We were growing. But I carried bad mem0ries of striving, about internal my own motivation (e.g. Was this really for God, or was this really about me and the need to prove something?), and of tensions between staff that I had been unwilling to address. This is my first time since my journey into the contemplative almost six years ago. It has been a wonderfully relaxing, enjoyable process. Why? I think the answer is the addition of contemplative spirituality and deeper integration of emotional health into our leadership. What has been different? The following is my short list. 1. God’s will is really what matters. Something. Read more.
My family growing up was never very good at delight, play, and enjoying the healthy, God-given pleasures of life. Added to this was a Christian formation in my early years that reinforced a subtle theology that the more you suffered for Christ, then the more loved you were by Him. We were to work, to do for Christ, especially among those of us serving in urban centers like New York City. The journey of emotional health and contemplative spirituality have helped me enormously, but it has been a long, slow process of growth. I am slowly getting there, learning to enjoy pleasure, gifts, fun, dance, wine, and celebrating! I’ve just completed The Good of Affluence by John Schneider, a professor of theology out of Calvin College in West Michigan. I do not agree with all he says, but he makes a number of excellent points. One, humans were designed by God to enjoy and. Read more.
One of the great challenges for leadership, and the church in any generation, is to see itself as clearly as possible within the large scheme of history so as to not limit or distort the gospel to a cultural, ethnic, or nationalistic agenda. How do I be a Christian in the 21st century West dominated by pleasure, comfort, money, secularism, upward mobility and in a conflict with Islam that looks like it will go on well-beyond our generation? How do we be the church when nominal Christianity is the norm ? Last week my good seminary friend, Scott Sunquist, came and taught a church history course at New Life on Friday night and all day Saturday. For twenty plus years, I have longed to partner with someone like Scott. He is a PHD from Princeton Theological Seminary, a former IVCF staff worker and now a professor at Pittsburg Theological Seminary. He has been studying and writing on. Read more.