Episode 125: An Interview with Lyle Wells – Empire vs. Kingdom Leadership

In this episode we sit down with the president of Integrus Leadership, Lyle Wells, to talk about “empire vs. kingdom” leadership and what it takes to remain resilient as leaders in a challenging environment.

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I think there’s a great exhaustion to come… people have been grinding for so long that at some point your body reacts…

For many leaders, their voice changed during the pandemic… we were focused on the crisis, as we needed to be… but my fear is that many leaders haven’t taken their eyes back up to the horizon…

Many organizations have also developed an addiction to adrenaline… and now it has become their identity and their purpose… for many, endurance has become the goal rather than effectiveness… 

This is a season that ought to grow our ability to be resilient… we need to set our faces back towards our purpose and call and march boldly… but we also need to be still and wait for God to move…

We talk about taking “pit stops” that make the workload more manageable, because we know that the people in our organizations are fatigued…

One of the things we implemented is something we call “no meeting Mondays”… we were doing so much on Mondays that by the time 4:00 rolled around, they were already maxed out… 

If there was one thing I could say to leaders, it is that “your tank is your responsibility”… as a leader, you have to develop a working knowledge of two things: 1) What do you look like when your tank runs low? And 2) What fills up your tank?

Kingdoms and empires are really interesting… we start with the basic premise that no one wants to be average… in ministry it is even more pronounced, because it’s not just a job but a calling… 

We’ve noticed that on the journey people get stuck or they get scared… they need guides to help them overcome their challenges… the most pivotal decision we make when we step into leadership is whether we will be heroes or guides… 

Problems accrue in organizations when leaders—who are supposed to be guides—turn into heroes… that’s when churches become empires… often this happens unintentionally… 

The most fun you can have as a leader is investing in somebody and seeing them thrive in what God’s called them to do… but this is a fundamental shift for a lot of people… 

Episode 124: Intentional Rhythms

In this episode Sarah Jackson sits down with Glenn and Holly Packiam to talk about having intentional rhythms as a family. (Watch for the book Glenn and Holly are writing on this subject—releases next year!)

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Early on in our marriage, I would say yes to certain things, and then realize that our spring break or summer went out the window… we started wondering why we were making plans that way…

We can have good ideas, but without intentions, those ideas never take shape… without intentionality, autopilot kicks in and life just kind of passes you by…

The pandemic really destabilized us… we’re not used to that… one thing that’s interesting to notice is that the monastic movement—with its intentional rhythms—happened during a destabilized time… we need to reclaim that… 

If we only live with a rhythm or order that is imposed from the outside, that may not be a godly rhythm… and it may not be producing the kind of flourishing life that God invites us into… 

Identity is a key part of this—who we are becoming… habits that are built around identity stick… we need to ask what kind of a person our habits are leading us to become…

Years ago, an older couple told us about how they would get away once a year to review their rhythms as a family… we started doing that… 

It’s evolved over the years… now, we start with a dinner, and then the next day is an exercise in looking back over the past year, both to give thanks and also to repent… 

The other thing we do is listen for a word, phrase, or scripture verse for the coming year, and then think through the rhythms we need to have to make that possible… 

For me, if I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t have any built-in times for friends… I was good at planning time for work and spiritual disciplines, but I didn’t have time for friends… 

When we started doing this, I became more aware at how reactive I had been with my schedule… giving space to reflect on my schedule helped me be more proactive with things like prayer… 

It’s like a ship out in the ocean—if you don’t set a course, you won’t get anywhere… 

I’m going to guess that for many pastors and leaders, the area they lack is that there is no intentional rhythm for friendship… you need to make time for friends… 

Episode 123: Emotionally Healthy Discipleship

In this episode Glenn sits down with Sarah Jackson and Holly Packiam to talk about Pete and Geri Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Discipleship curriculum and how it can help churches lead people on a path towards spiritual and emotional maturity. You can find out more about the entire EH curriculum series here.

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What I love about this material is that it gives you the fifty-thousand-foot view, along with really practical skills for you to embrace the lifelong journey of discipleship… 

Many of us learn spiritual disciplines but haven’t been taught how they connect to emotional health and maturity…

This material isn’t just for beginners or people who have been through trauma… it’s for anyone who wants to grow in their emotional maturity and deepen their relationship with God… 

This isn’t a counseling session… but it will require the challenge of digging into our inner world, which is something that we don’t often do a good job of in evangelicalism…

It’s really helped me see Jesus in a different way… I think I had downplayed Jesus’ humanity… but Jesus taking on our humanity in the Incarnation has helped me see that whatever’s going on in my own humanity is part of how I discern God’s work in my life… 

A refusal to pay attention to our past, our trauma, or our hopes and dreams is to miss out on an opportunity to be blown away by the work of God in my life…

Many people grow up feeling like they’re not allowed to feel the more difficult emotions… but I see EH helping people understand how God is speaking in those places… 

Emotions are a mode of perception; they are a way of seeing the world… so part of what we’re trying to do with spiritual formation is learning to use our emotions as modes of connecting with God… 

Emotions are signposts… if we use them appropriately as signposts, we can use them to help us turn to God… which is why we need to pay attention to them… 

The strength of this material is that it pulls together ancient practices with insights from the world of counseling psychology, set within a biblical framework… 

Episode 122: An Interview with Dr. Gregg Okesson – Witnessing To A Complex World (Pt. 2)

In this episode we pick up our conversation with Dr. Gregg Okesson to talk with his book A Public Missiology: How Local Churches Witness to a Complex World and what it looks like for local churches to witness to the reign of Jesus Christ in all of life.

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Sending is an important function for the church… but historically one of the most radical things that Christians have done is to gather… we need to think of local congregations as people who gather in ways that are different from the world…

People talk about the problems of people bringing their politics and ideologies to church… but that happens all the time… we need the sacraments, worship, and preaching to challenge those ideologies…

This is where we need to be a people of difference—we worship the King of the universe… all ideologies need to be challenged at the foot of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…

One of my heroes is Lesslie Newbigin, who said that the cross is a profound “no” to all ideologies… they all need to come to the foot of the cross and die… just like individuals, even “publics” need to come and die…

But Newbigin also said that the resurrection is a glorious “yes” to God’s creating and reconciling work… we need to go out into the fullness of God’s world saying “yes” to politics and economics… 

If we take public witness seriously, we will discover the gospel of Jesus Christ… there’s a lot of preaching out there that has nothing to do with the gospel, or is so thin that it has no ability to speak to the public realm…

To preachers I would say that while it’s wonderful to get into all kinds of exegesis, we need to tell the full story of the gospel over and over again… the world is “storying” us one way, and we have the greatest story of all… we need to tell it to our people… 

Every congregation is different and pastors need to know their congregations… they need to know where and how to affirm the good… but if we are not regularly calling into question the reigning assumptions of our day, we are not fulfilling our role as preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ… 

Pastors need to spend time with people and live in the “publics” around their congregation… we need to do strong biblical exegesis and strong cultural exegesis at the same time…

Episode 121: An Interview with Dr. Gregg Okesson – Witnessing To A Complex World (Pt. 1)

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Gregg Okesson to talk with his book A Public Missiology: How Local Churches Witness to a Complex World and what it looks like for local churches to witness to the reign of Jesus Christ in all of life. This is the first of two episodes.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with us throughout the week!

The challenge for me while planting churches in Tanzania was trying to witness not just to individuals but to large, complex social needs…

In the process of allowing my understanding of the gospel to enter into the day-to-day public realities, I actually found the gospel…

Christ is reconciling all things to himself… so the challenge for us is to enter into complex public spaces with a gospel of salvation that is big enough for the whole world… 

The gospel is good news, but we’ve often made it bad news… it’s about the inauguration of Jesus Christ as king and lord of the whole universe… 

Historically, evangelicals have opted for simplicity over complexity… but when you look at the story of God, it is a complex story… across time and space and ethnicity… 

I use the language of “thickness”—God is weaving a “thick” witness in a “thick” world and too often we have tried to witness to the thickness of the world with a too-simple gospel… 

We need to start to practice the discipline of intentional inconvenience in our churches… if we’re not inconvenienced in our churches, the gospel will become captive to our culture… 

The public realm is drastically shaping the way that we live… from cell phones to music to television to streaming video… we are immersed in it…

“Publics” are spaces of togetherness where humans form life and build community that also have “open weave” in them… 

We tend to think of these “publics” or “domains” as discrete, but they are actually overlapping each other every day of our lives… 

The problem that we face is that we don’t realize how all of these overlapping “publics” are impacting us… it is forming us and shaping us… we need to spend more time exegeting the ways that it is forming us…