Episode 024: The Creed

 

What can a centuries-old creed teach us about how to lead our ministries? In this conversation, we talk about how and why our church adopted the Nicene Creed and how it informs and shapes our ministry.

Episode 024 – SHOW NOTES – The Creed

 

Instead of having a unique statement of faith that highlights the ways that we are different from other churches, why not go back to this statement of faith that shows how we are all united?

 

In a world that is drunk on individuality, the Creed sobers us… in a world that loves what is new, the Creed takes us back… in a skeptical world, the Creed helps us say, “We actually believe something…”

 

When people come in and they have doubts and they’re afraid and the bottom has fallen out and they’re not sure if “they believe in,” they can step into a space where the community says for them, “We believe in… and you’re going to make it…”

 

This is a question of “What is our bedrock?”—our bedrock is not our distinctiveness; our bedrock is our unitedness in Christ…

 

If my sermon can’t go through the four stanzas, I have not risen to the level of what a “word” ought to be… the Creed has created an infrastructure for me… these are the safe lanes in which a sermon must run…

 

In some ways, the Creed has taught our people how to pray… sometimes in our minds, there is an undifferentiated way of addressing the Triune God… the Creed helps us there… God is one and yet we can shine a light on each Person…

 

We’re trying to keep the Creed part of a “living liturgy”… and so if at any point we’re doing it just to do it, we need to pause…

 

The presence of doubt is the condition in which faith exists… “We believe” says that these are not sureties but acts of belief and mystery… and “in” says that this is something that invites us to cling to a Person… it is an act of worship… it is intimate…

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Take some time to read the Nicene Creed (go here for one version). What do you notice? What stands out to you?
  • Are there ways that you could begin to incorporate the Creed into your church’s worship?
  • Compare the Creed to your church’s statement of faith. How are they similar or different? In what way would utilizing the Creed as a statement of faith be a benefit to you and your church? A challenge?

 

 

Episode 023: Spiritual Authority

Spiritual Authority is a significant biblical concept that recognizes that God sends people into our lives to speak to us and guide us. In this essential conversation, we talk about the importance of spiritual authority, why people don’t accept it, and how, when it is done right, it can be a beautiful gift.

 

Episode 023 – SHOW NOTES – Spiritual Authority

 

Spiritual authority is an awareness that God has placed people in my life to help guide me to the place that the Lord has directed me… It is because of the frailty of human life that we need people around us to help us see our blind spots…

 

We have created an entire generation of consumer believers who come to church because it’s convenient or feels good, but the moment someone begins speaking directly to them, they flee to the next church down the street… this has damaged the message of the gospel…

 

You only have as much authority as you are willing to submit to… everyone wants to be in charge… but delegated spiritual authority is given to us when we are found trustworthy by the Lord… he can’t trust us with leadership if we aren’t willing to serve our way into it…

 

Jesus was constantly telling his disciples: do not fight your way to the top, don’t demand to be in charge, don’t demand the spotlight… if you want to be great, you must serve your way there…

 

If people are talking more about the person who preached the sermon than on the Christ that was preached in the sermon, you need to flee and go to another place… there is a cult of personality happening in the church now that is hurting us… it’s a sign that the leaders of that church are probably not submitted to healthy, biblical authority…

 

The only way you know whether you are really submitted to authority is if someone can tell you “no”… I have some great mentors in my life, and if any of them told me not to do something, I would hit the brakes… if my wife said to me about something “Don’t do it,” I wouldn’t…

 

The three areas we need input and oversight are: your personal life, your theology, and your money/spending (both inside the church and in your house)…

 

A lot of leaders fall into this trap of being “the God expert,” and so they don’t feel like they have permission to question or doubt or wrestle with the deep, troubling questions of Scripture… pastors need people to bounce [theological/interpretive] ideas off of…

 

The way we spend our money reflects our hearts… pastors are notorious for saying this to their congregations, but often we ask it of ourselves because we don’t have anyone challenging us on it…

 

The devil works in the silences, and when you can invite trusted, wise counselors into the silences, the enemy’s power is broken off of us…

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Does your church have a healthy culture of spiritual authority?
  • Do you have people who can tell you “no”? Who are they?
  • Which of the three areas of accountability discussed in the podcast are most difficult for you? How can you grow in that area?

Episode 022: The Purpose of Sunday

Sundays come around with an alarming regularity. As we plan for our weekly worship services, the constancy of the calendar can inhibit us from stopping to focus on the lens through which we plan or what our end-goal should be. In this conversation, we talk about the factors we consider as we plan worship services that allow people to meet Jesus, to be formed into disciples, and to encounter God.

 

Mission, formation, and encounter are the three broad approaches to worship… I’m of the opinion that we are meant to hold all three of these together in tension…

 

Each service should have elements of all three but there are different elements for each service… for instance, I know that on Easter and Christmas Eve we will be filled with guests… so I need to have a service that day that emphasizes that…

 

At the end of 52 weeks, we should be able to look at our worship and see all three in healthy tension and balance throughout the church year…

 

If you want to make your team a bit uncomfortable, take a look at the songs you’ve sung over the last year and ask this question, “If people’s view of God was formed solely by these songs, what kind of God is that…have we said anything about who he is or just how we feel about him?”

 

By doing weekly communion, it’s made us as preachers preach towards the Table… the end of the sermon is turning to God and asking for his grace again… the gospel proclamation moment reaches the lost, forms the faithful, and creates encounter—somehow, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus meets us when we come to the Table…

 

Singing, sermon, sacraments, and prayers should mirror all three of these things… to ignore any of them is to do so at your peril… embracing them helps the church come to maturity…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • What do you think about the “mission, formation, encounter” grid? Would you add any?
  • Which of the three does your church do best? Worst? Why?
  • What can you do to grow in a balanced approach to worship?

 

 

RESOURCES

Andy Stanley – Deep and Wide

James K. A. Smith – Desiring the Kingdom

Glenn Packiam – Discover the Mystery of Faith

Episode 021: Healthy Transitions

Transition is something that every church staff will experience. What matters is how those transitions take place. In this conversation, we discuss how to facilitate and enact healthy transitions.

 

Transitions can be beautiful if we’ll embrace them… when I arrived at New Life, I arrived in a healthy condition [because of how I was sent]…

 

A lot of times, transitions get messy when people arrive with a predetermined future… but when you come openhanded, you give people a chance to send you into the next place…

 

No one should be punished for exploring other opportunities… if you’re a senior pastor, you have to lead the way in this way…

 

I have found that the greatest joy I have as a leader is finding out what’s going on in the hearts of the people on my team… I want to call that out so that it manifests for the greater good…

 

If you bring up the fact that you’re thinking about a transition [to your leadership], you’ll be able to transition in a healthy way, or you’ll see that your desire for transition was actually a little bit of boredom and you’ll grow more fond of the ministry you’re doing…

 

It’s important not to stay around too long; once your heart has left an organization, you’re not going to give your best… so agree on a timeline that’s good for you and for the team…

 

The onus is on the leader to create a safe environment for people to share their hearts; the onus is on the young leaders to respect and honor…

 

The church is known more for its divorces than its marriages… in the case of Gateway and New Life, it was more like a wedding… Gateway felt it wasn’t losing a staff member but gaining a family of people in Colorado… 10 and a half years later, I still go back there to speak…

 

When I am willing to send out good leaders, I am sent good leaders… the same way we teach about generosity with resources and time, we need to be generous with leaders…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Is your culture one in which an emerging leader would feel empowered to share about their desire for transition? Why or why not?
  • Are you regularly checking in with members of your team to see whether they are thriving in their current roles? Why or why not?
  • What can you do to create an environment where the emergence of leadership gifts and callings is not threatening but celebrated?

Episode 020: Hiring and Firing

In this conversation, we talk about what we’ve learned about hiring well and how to navigate firing people well, too. Maybe you’re leading a church staff and facing a big decision regarding staffing, or perhaps you’re curious about how a church staff might handle a staffing issue at your church. We hope that this conversation leads to greater health and trust among the staff at your church.

You hire people for where you’re going not where you are… many pastors hire out of a panicked need or a felt burden right in front of them… most of the time, when I’ve hired people from that place, I’ve regretted it…

 

You’re looking for people who can train others… if you want to use the Jesus model, the people that Jesus called close to him were able to multiply others…

 

I have found that character, chemistry, and competency are a good litmus test for the people you are looking to hire… Chemistry is the tricky one… I want to work with friends, with people that I like… when you are shoulder to shoulder doing the hard work of ministry, it is almost impossible to do it with people that you don’t like…

 

We’re not promoting tribalism here… we want diversity… but at the end of the day, we have to enjoy being with one another, even if you look and think differently from one another… the relationship has to be good for both parties…

 

The hardest person to fire in the local church is the guy with high character, who everyone loves, who is just terrible at his job…

 

Don’t keep people in a place where they are not going to flourish… I owe it to them and to the congregation to steward the relationship well…

 

If we remember that people belong to the Lord, then “endings” can be “sendings” where people transition to new opportunities in godly ways…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Do you tend to hire for where you are going, or where you are? Why? How can you adapt your philosophy of hiring?
  • What criteria do you use in your hiring process? What from this podcast challenged you in that regard?
  • Are you stewarding people’s lives and the culture of your team and church well? How can you improve this through your hiring and firing practices?

 

 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Necessary Endings” by Dr. Henry Cloud.

Episode 019: Finding Your Voice In Preaching

In this conversation, Pastors Brady Boyd, Andrew Arndt, Daniel Grothe, and Glenn Packiam (who are all members of the New Life Church teaching team, talk about finding that unique voice that each preacher (or leader) must discover.

The tension is, on the one hand we have to be learners, and yet one the other hand we have to be comfortable with our own personalities…

 

Often when we begin, we find ourselves practicing on templates that have been given to us… the early years are about finding good mentors and people to follow… and at some point down the road you begin to settle into your voice… now, after I’ve done all my study, I always shut the door and say “God, who am I and how does this text live in me…?”

 

The key is finding that place in yourself that needs to be “amplified”… the issue isn’t whether or not you’re learning from others, but whether you’re letting it get deep enough in you is that it comes out of you naturally…

 

You can only really impart who you are, what you’ve lived and embodied in private… public communication has to be birthed from private impartation…

 

There has to be a great amount of humility when we stand up to preach… if we’re not aware of the moment we’re in and the opportunity we’ve been given, we don’t need to be on the stage…

 

All public figures have an idealized self, which can feed our temptation to ignore the darker sides of who we are… Jesus allows us to integrate both sides of who we are and we need to let people see how the grace of God holds all that together… appropriate transparency helps people to see that you are not just an idealized version of yourself…

 

[When it comes to transparency and vulnerability], if you find yourself oversharing from the pulpit, it might mean that you don’t have enough appropriate community around you…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

 

  • On the spectrum of “learning from others” to “settling into your own voice,” where are you right now? Where do you need to grow?
  • What do you find most challenging about this podcast? Why?
  • Are you living deeply enough in God that you have a surplus out of which to share? How can you improve here?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how well are you and your team doing at modeling appropriate vulnerability from the pulpit? Explain why you gave the rating you did.

Episode 018: Developing a Culture of Generosity, Pt 2

How should pastors and churches help people position themselves to embrace generosity? In this conversation, a continuation from the previous episode, Pastors Brady Boyd and Andrew Arndt are joined by Chris Brown (Nationally Syndicated Radio Host of “Life Money Hope”) to answer this question and more.

The biggest revelation I’ve had in dealing with churches is that people are confused about stewardship… when people think about stewardship, they think the church is just trying to get their money…

 

Fundraising and stewardship are not the same thing… stewardship is about managing God’s blessings in God’s way for God’s glory… not just 10% but 100%…

 

We need to teach people to be faithful with the 100%…

 

At the core, this is about financial discipleship… we need to be teaching people not just what to do, but how to do it…

 

It saddens me that the church is an authority in the eyes of the world when it comes to marriage and parenting, but we’re not when it comes to finances… those churches that are taking stewardship seriously are seeing a lot of results…

 

The reason we teach on financial management and stewardship is not so that we can get their money but so that the Lord can get their hearts… we’re trying to teach people to worship the right thing…

 

People don’t give because they’re broke… so if you want to really do this well, people have got to pick up on the fact that this is something for them, not something that you want from them… it’s about trust…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • How good of a job do you think you and your team are doing at helping people think biblically about managing “the 100%” as opposed to just “the 10%” of their resources?
  • What are some improvements you could make to this area of your ministry?
  • Take some time to list 5-6 practical things you could do this year to help bolster the quality of financial discipleship your church. Talk about them with your team.

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Chris’s Podcast: Life, Money, Hope

stewardshipcentral.org

Episode 017: Developing a Culture of Generosity, Pt 1

Many pastors find it difficult to talk about giving and generosity in their churches, but developing a culture of generosity is essential to Christian living. In this episode, we have a conversation about how pastors can help our churches to embrace generosity.

SHOW NOTES – DEVELOPING A CULTURE OF GENEROSITY PT 1 – 017

 

Talking about money makes me evaluate my motives more than any other topic… I want to make sure that I am asking people to give for the right reasons…

 

At the heart of discipleship is inviting people to transfer allegiance to King Jesus… when you name money, sex, and power, we’re talking about the age-old temptations that have to do with how we orient and order our lives… it gets personal…

 

When worship becomes charitable giving rather than laying our lives on the altar as a living sacrifice, we have lost…

 

Every time I talk about money, I am having to live down the poor behavior of people I have never met… We have to be aware that we are staring in the face of a bad reputation, and the only way to reverse that is by doing the right thing for the right reason for a very long amount of time…

 

When you remember what the church is—the family of God, the household of faith—you can start to compare that to what a family ought to be like… when you are in the family, everyone chips in and contributes their strength…

 

Part of our role is also to help people see giving differently… God is the most generous giver we’ve ever known… the creation is full of excessive gifts that God didn’t need to give… when you understand that the heart of the New Testament is grace, “gift”, then it turns you into someone who becomes like God… you become a giver…

 

I’ve learned not to be ashamed or embarrassed to talk to people with finances about opportunities to give… but the relationship has to be based on shared trust and mutual love and respect, and if you just see them as a pocketbook, you will never gave their love or trust…

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

– Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability: http://www.ecfa.org/

– Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Fundraising

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • What challenges have you experienced in talking about stewardship to your church?
  • Where do you need to develop a larger “frame” for talking about stewardship?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how well have you talked about stewardship in terms of biblical, kingdom mission? Why did you give yourself that rating?

Episode 016: Mental Health and the Local Church

As we launch the second season of the Essential Church Podcast, we sat down with Kay Warren and Tommy Hilliker to talk about the Church’s role in serving those facing mental illness.

 

One study showed that 71% percent of clergy do not feel prepared or equipped to handle a mental health crisis… it’s not really talked about in Bible college or seminary…

 

Reducing the stigma starts with the value: What are we going to be known for in our community as a church? At Saddleback, we want to be known as a church that cares…

 

Half of all mental illness shows signs by the age of 14 and 75% by age 24… so when parents are looking at their kids and they notice behavior changes, they need to pay attention to that…

 

In the church we’ve been too quick to call those behavior problems or blame the parents, and all that does is perpetuate the shame…

 

When it comes to suicide prevention, parents are terrified that if they bring it up with their kids for fear that they will plant the idea in their child’s mine… that has actually proven not to be the case… when you actually ask the question, kids are usually relieved…

 

We’re not usually very good at helping our kids articulate their feelings… make a list of “feeling words” and give them to your kids…

 

It’s almost like mining for gold with your kids… we have to work hard to help them talk about their emotions and feelings…

 

We don’t wait until people are in stage 4 cancer to help people… the earlier we address mental illness, the better…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

1 – Do you and your team feel prepared to help people struggling with mental illness? Why or why not?

2 – To what extent is the culture of your team, church, or family safe for people to admit their mental health struggles?

3 – What can you do to better equip yourself, your team, and your church to identify mental illness when it manifests and lend a helping hand?

 

RESOURCES

National Alliance on Mental Illness – https://www.nami.org/

Mental Health First Aid – https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/

http://kaywarren.com/

Special Episode: #metoo, the Church, and the kingdom

SPECIAL EPISODE – #metoo, the Church, and the kingdom

 

In this special episode, we’re joined by two leaders from the New Life Church staff to address the conversation happening around the #ChurchToo hashtag and to talk about how to cultivate a staff environment that empowers women to lead.

 

 

The worst thing we can do right now is ignore this topic… the Church needs to lead the way…

 

The Scriptures are very clear that God created male and female… the most empowering book ever written for women is the Bible… Jesus empowered women to do ministry…

 

One of the challenges in leading men is that I have to see them as leaders and not [according to their] gender… I can’t treat them differently because I am a woman…

 

The big issue today is that women today have not felt the same privilege to speak out when they see violations…

 

We do not overreact to any issue, but we properly respond to every issue…

 

I realize that I am a middle-aged male that is in power here… so I have to go to extravagant lengths to make sure that the culture and environment is one of openness and honesty…

 

We’re not afraid to talk about the tough things here… we’ve had staff meetings where Brady would say, “The women on staff are like daughters and sisters and mothers” and it really takes the gray area away…

 

New Life has also done a tremendous job under Brady’s leadership of promoting women to leadership… that says to me as a woman that I am trusted, respected, and heard…

 

The Scriptures are very egalitarian in my mind… there are gender distinctions, things we are called to do distinctively, but very few… but for the most part the Scriptures see men and women working alongside, empowering, and strengthening one another…

 

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

 

  • Is your church a safe and empowering place for women? Why or why not?
  • What steps can you take as a leader to ensure this?
  • To what extent does your theology make it difficult for women to flourish in their gifts?

 

 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE

 

Brady Boyd – Let Her Lead