Episode 037: Courageous Preaching

For this conversation, we discuss how courageous preaching requires us to say things that are costly.

 

 

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I feel quite honestly that pastors are choosing the charming, winsome, attractional side of preaching at the expense of calling people into the greater good of following Jesus…

 

Every pastor in America is being compared to the four or five most popular preachers… all week long our congregations have instant access to the ten or twelve most popular preachers, and then they gather to listen to us and we’re getting compared to them…

 

The pressure I feel is to be like those other preachers… but that’s not my mission… my mission is to shepherd my congregation in a way that challenges them…

 

Jesus said that it wasn’t the healthy who needed a doctor but the sick… the preacher like the doctor doesn’t have to be boring or mean to be effective but they do have to be truthful… if at the end of the day we’re not diagnosing what’s wrong, we’re not doing our job…

 

If our preaching is void of the medicine that will heal people, we’re giving them appetites for things that will not change their lives…

 

John says that Jesus came full of grace and truth… if we’re preaching the person of Christ, we’re getting grace and truth at the same time…

 

We should be aware of social injustice and social ills… if they are talking about it in the lobby of the church, you should talk about it in the pulpit of the church… if you’re not going to address it, then your congregations will search for answers in other places…

 

Our primary focus, however, is not preaching about social ills… our call is to point people to the person of Christ… our people should walk in with questions about social brokenness, and walk out with a compass that points them to the person of Jesus…

 

When we’re really preaching Jesus, we wind up transcending the petty differences and tribes that are so easy to fall into…

 

I always say to pastors: don’t preach to win fans… the greatest trap we can fall into is preaching in order to win over fans… we’re called to preach to win over disciples…

 

Here’s a practical question for pastors: when was the last time you preached a sermon where you knew ahead of time that it would cost you something? Courageous preaching requires us to say things that are costly… 

 

Episode 036: Contending for the Spirit

For this conversation, Pastors Brady Boyd, Andrew Arndt, and Dr. Glenn Packiam talk about the importance of prayer, and how we are called to lead ministries with prayer at their core, at their essence.

 

When was the last time that you were surprised? I ask myself often, “When was the last time I was surprised by God’s breaking forth into my world?”

 

It is possible for us to become church programming experts who can do this without the surprise of the empowering presence of the Spirit…

 

The Creed says that the Spirit is the GIVER of life, not that he GAVE life… there is a sense in which welcoming the Spirit’s work means recognizing that we don’t just need him for startup but for making the whole thing run…

 

I think there have to be moments in every church’s life where you linger together in prayer… we need regular times where we just wait together on the Lord…

 

Practically, for us, we’ve learned that we just need to schedule it… we need to schedule times to pray together and be together and wait on the Lord…

 

Of all the vocations in the world, pastoral work requires prophetic imagination… and the only way that can happen is to be together in those Spirit-led, Spirit-filled environments…

 

Many pastors take up the Moses model of leadership, but in the New Testament the model was people sitting in prayer meetings together in unity… that’s the model of leadership that the church was birthed in and should be brought back to…

 

It’s easy to tell ourselves that prayer is the warmup… from Paul’s letters we see that prayer is not the prelude but the premise…

 

Prayer meetings help me grow feet… they make my activity more focused and purposeful… a lot of times if I don’t pray, I wander around looking for God’s work in my life, but when I pray it seems like it’s right in front of me…

 

When the Spirit is at work within the way he’s made us, sometimes it will make our minds fire and our hearts burn and make our eyes weep and our bodies want to jump and shout… the different between this and emotionalism is when there is fruit: are we serving our neighbors better and loving Jesus better?

 

There’s a difference between a church that prays and a praying church… every church has some kind of prayer happening… [but] we are called to lead churches that have prayer at their core, at their essence…

Episode 035: A Conversation with Louie Giglio

For this conversation, we sit down with Louie Giglio and discuss the Passion movement, worship, and everything in-between.

 

I love that crossroads of life that is the university moment… we said yes to God and 22 years later we’re still gathering students… it’s not a conference really, or an event, but a purposed movement praying God will open eyes to see what life is really about—the glory of God…

 

We weren’t trying to build a monument; we were trying to be a fuse, we wanted to be an explosion, we wanted to see God start doing something that was unexplainable…

 

When college students come in, everything they’ve learned up to that point suspends… The university is a crossroads of life… people stop deciding for what their parents believed and start deciding what they believe… and that’s where you want to be standing—with the person of Jesus…

 

Early on [in the Passion movement], there was a presumption of “normal American life”… now we’re on the backside of the greatest economic depression in our memory, with lots of instability, and kids now are anxious and depressed and have so many conversations every day that they don’t even know who they are anymore…

 

But there’s also a belief [with this generation] that our voice matters… people want to congregate now… they believe there’s something more than the old school American dream… they want to make their lives count…

 

When I was younger I thought that way you make the biggest impact on the world is that you go to most places you can and speak to the most people you can speak to…

 

At 40 I had a wakeup moment where I realized that you make the greatest impact by staying in the same place for a longest amount of time to see the reproductive power of the gospel at work in the generational cycles that come… I wanted to root somewhere…

 

The calling to lead worship is holy… the heart of worship is still someone who worships in their closet, they like the lobby better than the green room, they like the mirror of the Word better than the mirror, and they come to lead the people and not to lead the songs…

 

There are 1000 people out there who know how to lead songs… we need leaders who have an anointing and an authority to lead people…

 

 

RESOURCES

Episode 034: Reflections on Willow Creek

For this conversation, we discuss the situation at Willow Creek and how this should cause us to reflect and pay attention in a deeper way.

 

This situation should cause us to reflect and pay attention in a deeper way…

 

There are three groups of people here: the victims, the congregation, and Bill and the leadership—it’s important to separate those groups of people, and each group needs special attention…

 

But it starts first with those who were violated… those victims need to be listened to and given every opportunity to heal… they need our primary attention…

 

The first thing the new leadership must do is re-establish trust and credibility, or they won’t be able to help anyone… they need to slow down and simplify…

 

At New Life [after our crises], we cleared our calendars, stopped doing outside events, and became a church family again… for us, it was about prayer, worship, Scripture, and sacraments…

 

What I would say to Willow Creek is that you don’t know how hurt you are right now… take some time, take a deep breath, and do a full evaluation before you move ahead…

 

There are some systemic problems in the American church culture… number one: pastors are not designed or called by God to be celebrities… the moment we embrace a celebrity culture in the church we are headed for a train wreck… it has to stop…

 

We have a lot of orphans that are leading churches who haven’t learned how to be sons and daughters… you can’t be a mom or a dad before you’ve been a son or a daughter… in the church, we’ve skipped this step…

 

If your first thought is “We have to protect the church” you are in huge error… the call is not to protect the institution but to help people get healed… Jesus was not interested in guarding the religious institutions of his day, he was interested in bringing healing… if it cost the institution, then so be it…

 

If you think about the parable of the lost sheep, the 99 represented the economic good of the shepherd… Jesus was willing to risk the institution of the 99 for the sake of the one… if Jesus is the Head of the church, he is capable of sustaining the church when there is bad news…

 

The Lord brought Willow into existence and he is going to bring it back to a place of fruitfulness, so let’s pray and speak blessing over them…