Episode 141: The Love That is God – An Interview with Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

In this episode we sit down with Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt to talk with him about his book The Love That is God: An Invitation to Christian Faith.

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God is love is the radical claim of the Christian faith… but Jesus fills this out by saying that no greater love has a man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends… so the love of God suddenly takes on a hard edge…

My students sometimes really struggle with the idea in Christianity that we might need to undergo a kind of painful loss in order to become truly happy… daily crucifixion is not a mere metaphor… 

We’re called to be countercultural… but if we let that become just another form of tribalism or militancy, we’re not being countercultural… we’re just reproducing the tribalism and militancy of our culture…

I think one of the crosses we run away from is the challenge of listening to the voice of the outsider… in my own tradition (the Roman Catholic Church), it was voices from the outside that finally held us accountable for some of our failures… sometimes the only way we can recognize our own distortions of the gospel is through the voice of the outsider…

I sense a greater openness from my evangelical and charismatic friends to the great tradition of the church… I also think that evangelicals and charismatics are challenging the church to put faith at the center of their lives, and to expect God to show up in ways that are visible…

There are times when I find prayer immensely consoling… you don’t know what to do, and so you lay it at God’s feet… but prayer can also be a kind of therapy… like the physical therapist who stretches you and puts you through pain in order to restore you, prayer can be a stretching of our spirit that heals us… 

I often pray the Psalms… every single human mood is found there… oftentimes the psalm is exactly what I needed, even though I didn’t know I needed it… 

We don’t know where we are in history… we don’t know if we’re at the very beginning of the church’s story or the very end… but we don’t need to… if faith means anything, it means that we’re in a comedy that’s going to end with the marriage of heaven and earth…

Episode 140: Equipping our Youth for the Mission of God

In this episode we chat with Greg Stier, the founder and CEO of Dare to Share, which equips youth leaders and students in relational evangelism. We chat with him about best practices for doing just that. You can learn more about Greg HERE. And also download a free copy of his e-book “Gospelize Your Youth Ministry” for Kindle HERE or iPad HERE.

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What I try to remind everyone of is that everyone’s story is a radical story of salvation… 

We’ve forgotten the power of the gospel to change and decided to focus on politics and culture instead… we’re just hacking at the leaves of evil rather than striking at the root…

Too many people are putting the onus of evangelism on the pastor… it’s a come and see mentality… we need to combine come and see with “go and rescue…”

We read in Acts that the apostle Paul trained and equipped people in the School of Tyrannus so that everyone in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord… we need to start flipping our churches so that they become like little “schools of Tyrannus…” 

We teach youth pastors how to build gospel greenhouses, where evangelism is as normal as breathing and disciples are made and multiplied by the teenagers… 

Intercessory prayer fuels everything… the youth groups that grow the fastest are those that pray for the lost by name…

Relational evangelism drives our efforts… we’re trying to teach kids not only the content of the gospel of giving them strategies for engaging with their unreached friends… 

Leaders have to fully embrace and model this… the youth groups that grew the fastest had leaders who were living out these values of prayer and relational evangelism…

The changing cultural factors make youth ministry more difficult IF we’re stuck in an old approach… we’re stuck in the 80s… 

We need to create gospel-advancing youth groups and make the Great Commission the greatest cause… teenagers have been suffering from depression, anxiety, and isolation and the gospel gives identity, belonging, and purpose… that’s the answer…

Episode 139: The New Landscape of Church Leadership with Sean Morgan

In this conversation we sit down with Sean Morgan, founder of The Ascent Leader, to talk with him about some shifts he’s seeing in the landscape of church leadership over the last few years. You can check out Sean’s work with The Ascent Leader HERE.

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A lot of leadership energy is being spent right now dealing with disgruntled staff… it seems we are losing the ability to disagree in a healthy way…

The question isn’t whether we agree all the time or not, but how we disagree, and Scripture has a lot to say about unity…

This is especially challenging for churches that have campuses… it’s really difficult to have alignment when we’re not in physical proximity to one another…

Even when you have a campus that’s close, if you don’t take advantage of that proximity, you might as well be on the other side of the country… you have to be intentional…

The campuses I’m talking about are the ones that have live preaching… an arrogance can creep in that creates a toxicity which is ultimately unrecoverable…

We need to ask whether we are building churches at the speed that GOD has ordained for us, or are we putting growth hormones into the system to get what WE want…? Some of this is the bitter fruit of speeding things up to our pace, not God’s…

The higher the trust, the fewer the rules… when the trust level is high, you need fewer rules, and I think senior pastors are sending people out to lead churches WAY too early…

Most young leaders are not willing to sit in the hidden places… they see hiddenness as a punishment rather than a place where the Lord can do his best work in us… 

The leaders that are thriving are the leaders who are willing to evaluate what is and is not “today”… are we willing to accurately look at what’s working and what’s not working…?

When you do identify what’s not working, are you willing to stop it or change it…? And can your team speak into that process…? 

Every five years there needs to be serious renewal in vision and strategy… the leaders that are doing this well are leaning into their teams to evaluate vision and strategy and then are taking risks towards what they see needs to be done…

Episode 138: The Five Masculine Instincts with Chase Replogle

In this episode we sit down with pastor and author Chase Replogle to talk about his book The Five Masculine Instincts. For more on Chase’s book and extra resources click here.

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First and foremost, I’m a pastor, and I’ve watched over the last few years how the topic of masculinity has become controversial conversation… 

I was seeing the guys in my congregation struggle with this, and I wanted to create a book that offered a path towards a better conversation—a conversation about character…

The cultural ways of having this conversation are that either we need to deconstruct masculinity, or we need to indulge it… but what both of these approaches have in common is that they focus on externals rather than on the internal realities of a man…

I’m always careful to say that these “instincts” are not the five sins of man, nor are they the five expectations… the question is how we become mature men, given these instincts…

God initiated a conversation with Cain… I think that’s really profound… you’d imagine that Cain would ask God why he rejected his sacrifice… but he doesn’t… he acts impulsively and sarcastically…

Cain’s sarcasm is a thin veil for his contempt for God… his immaturity makes him reactive and winds up perpetually immature… he’s the picture of a lost adolescent, perpetually adrift… 

For men—if you find yourself struggling to take things seriously, or find yourself immediately reactionary, God may be using precisely those things to make you a better man… 

Samson has divine experiences in the midst of adventure, but instead of it enlightening him, he just indulges it and becomes less discerning…

This theme becomes larger and larger until he gives away his secret, I think, as a way of just being done with it… he’s sick of it all…

If you’re constantly trying to find meaning in adventure, and it’s weakening your commitments to place and family and vocation, then perhaps you’re putting something on adventure that it’s never going to be able to deliver…

A lot of pastors, in their search for adventure, are disrupting the framework of their congregations… we need to satisfy that thirst for adventure inside the boundaries of our lives…  

Episode 135: Streams in the Wasteland

In this episode Daniel and Andrew sit down to talk about Andrew’s recently released Streams in the Wasteland: Finding Spiritual Renewal with the Desert Fathers and MothersGrab your copy on Amazon!

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We moved here in 2017 after having been a pastor for eight years in Denver… and I was not prepared for the spiritual crisis that would create… it felt like getting put in a witness protection program… I couldn’t find my equilibrium…

In the midst of that, someone told me I needed to read the desert fathers and mothers… when I asked why, he said, “Because the thing that you feel like is being thrust upon you, they sought out, and found it to be a place where God could be found…”

They gave me language to make sense of the desolate space… God’s people find God in the wilderness… my own healing was not complete where I got to the point where I never needed to lead again… I fell in love with “My God and my All…”

It’s easy for us to look at them as socially awkward misanthropes who justified their retreat with spiritual language… but sometimes a situation is so toxic that you have to separate yourself in order to find the love of God and others again…

A mischaracterization of them is that they severed themselves from the truth… even if they create some creative distance, they still live in community and they still go to church…

Thomas Merton said that now, the wasteland is everywhere… which means that the wisdom of the desert is wisdom for our time… what does it look like to cultivate true humanness?

Our speech is one of the most critical issues in our moment… social media invites and even rewards us for adding more heat to the conversation than light, which is why we’re living in an increasingly polarized society…

God’s speech is creative speech that gives life, and he gives that same gift to human beings… fallen man can take the power of the word and warp it and cause reality to fray… it grieves the Spirit when we use our words to tear down…

Maybe the greatest moral achievement of our age is can we sit in a room with people with whom we vehemently disagree and neither feel the need to conquer them or feel the need to bail out and run away… 

Episode 132: The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb? – An Interview with Kyle Strobel

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Kyle Strobel to talk about the nature of power via his book (co-authored with Jamin Goggin), The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb? Grab it here.

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There’s a power system assumed by the world, the flesh, and the devil, and you see it when Jesus rebukes Peter: he’s set his mind on the things of man…

Another way to talk about the way of the dragon is the way of power in strength for the sake of control and domination; whereas the way of the lamb is the way of power in weakness for the sake of love…

One error is to see power as bad… those who are left-leaning have a tendency to demonize power… those who are right-leaning tend to worry less about power but are almost willing to embrace ANY power as long as it leads to the right ends…

Many of us simply accept the world’s definitions of power and then assume that Jesus is doing something else (not power-related)… but that’s not right… Jesus is redefining power entirely and is calling us to faith…

When we started this project, we knew it was an important issue… it influences everything… how you pray, how you worship, how you engage or don’t engage in politics—it all presupposes power… but the church is refusing to talk about it…

If you assume a vision of worldly power, the way of Jesus just won’t make sense…

Even a lot of the ways we understand spiritual gifts—it tends to be about actualizing strength, which is ironic, because Paul’s correspondence to the Corinthians is all about power being realized in weakness…

For folks in fulltime vocational ministry, the temptation is to construct a self… and if true power is love, if we really internalize that, it will help us realize that our value is received and not generated… 

The central temptation for leaders is to use their natural ability to get things done… that’s the way of the dragon… if you’re a natural speaker, for instance, you’ll be tempted to use that gift to “win”… your strength is a place of wild temptation… 

We need to constantly ask, “Lord, how am I tempted not to trust you? How am I tempted not to have to have faith…?” 

Episode 131: “Where the Light Fell” with Philip Yancey

In this episode we sit down with one of the most prolific authors of the last hundred years, Philip Yancey, to talk with him about his new memoir Where the Light Fell.

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I knew that the version of Christianity I had been given—racist, angry, legalistic—couldn’t be right, and yet I also knew there was something worth salvaging…

I’ll often tell people that I grew up thinking that God was a scowling super-cop in the sky… it took me a long time to realize that the heart of the universe is not a scowl but a smile… the story of history is the story of God’s love…

Many “exvangelicals” have wistful memories of their youth… I wrote this book because I wanted to reach those people… my reasons for becoming an “ex” were stronger than most of theirs… and yet I emerged having discovered the love and grace of God…

My father was a victim of polio… he was 23 and he and my mother had planned to go on the mission field… after he died, my mother made a vow to God that me and my brother would replace him as missionaries to Africa… when we didn’t fit the script, the vow became a kind of curse… it was a theological error… 

My brother and I took different paths in relating to our upbringing… he became one of Atlanta’s original hippies… I saw what that did to him… it was a living illustration of what happens to us when we have nothing to go toward… 

Pain redeemed impresses me more than pain removed… often, it’s the hardest things we go through that are most important as we look back… 

We are at a hinge time for the future of the evangelical church in the United States… we need to adjust to the fact that we’re not the home team anymore… this is new, and a lot of people don’t like it…

We are always called to live both in the city of God and in the city of humanity… we don’t take our marching order from political parties but from God… but there’s such an atmosphere of partisanship that it can be hard for people to know what to do…

The dialogue has gotten so crass and adversarial… Christians need to stand up against that… I want pastors, whatever they believe, to show the style of Jesus… our country needs this…

Episode 126: All Things Beautiful with Dr. Chris Green

In this episode we sit down with Dr. Chris Green to talk about how Jesus reveals himself to us through the arts. This conversation is an engagement with Chris’s book All Things Beautiful. Grab a copy here.

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My encounter with literature and the arts is what led to my becoming a theologian… I grew up in a Pentecostal church, but didn’t read the Bible with any artfulness… but after my encounter with the arts, the Bible became something entirely different…

Too often, we read the Bible for the way it affirms and confirms our ideas… we need to learn to give it the kind of attention Jesus gives to us… not looking for confirmation of our ideas, but receiving it for what it is, and marveling at it…

Proverbs, for instance, opens with a call to the young to learn wisdom… but to do that, you have to attend to “the dark sayings of the wise”… 

This is striking to me because the churches I grew up in put pressure on the preacher to make the truth plain… we didn’t want to do the difficult work of interpretation… but I think what Israel knew and what Jesus embodies is that we need to do the difficult work of interpretation…

The artfulness of the artist is to make art difficult in all the right ways… 

Artfulness opens us up to the way that God saves us… Emily Dickenson tells us to “tell the truth slant”… which speaks to the way that God saves us… God is sometimes startlingly direct in the Bible… but most of the time is like the road to Emmaus—God is there, but not obvious…

We need to recognize the good of difficulty… when something is demanding, it summons parts of yourself you didn’t know were there… so God is demanding in a way that summons out of us gifts we didn’t know we had…

Another part of this is our brokenness… the universe seems “riddled” to us because we are the ones who are “riddled”… in our brokenness, God teaches how to become truthful… 

The arts also give us the skills we need to turn to others… when give our attention to the arts and they surprise us, it teaches me that the next time I’m with a person, if I’ll give them my attention, they will surprise us…

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. You can learn more about Integrus at www.integrus.org and by following @leadwithlyle and @integrusleadership.

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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 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…