Episode 056: Jon Egan “Unveil” Interview

In this episode we sit down to talk with our dear friend and worship leader Jon Egan about his new album “Unveil” and all that he’s seeing and learning as a worship leader and songwriter. (You can pre-order Unveil wherever good music is sold online. You’ll get one song each week till the album releases on March 29th.)

 

 

For me this project was about singing song together… almost like giving the songs back to the people… we have so much going for us in modern worship, but my burden is “Are people actually singing?”

 

My story is not my story but God’s story… I can declare the realities of my life or I can declare something else… these songs are designed to equip the church to rise out of their own reality and sing a greater one…

 

Most of my life I’ve had a propensity to get lost in my feelings, and worship has been the thing that’s “unveiled” my eyes to see something greater… I run toward worship and I want my church to run toward it… worship has been the antidote to my propensity to fear…

 

I could have had the label give me a budget to record in a studio somewhere, but it would have been missing the church… I get emotional about it… my love for the church and their love for me has lifted me…

 

The song “Unveil” is one of those songs that we can only sing now… when all things are made new there will be a fullness of glory… but in this life we can cry out for things we don’t see… we can cry out for the glory, for God to “unveil” our hearts and eyes to know him…

 

The song “the Table” began because I was imagining a table where the Father, Son, and Spirit were at, and there was an empty seat where they were saying, “Come, there is a seat for you here…”

 

The song “Pure Exaltation” came because we didn’t have a song like that on the album… language for the church to help pull them up out of their reality and into heaven…

 

A burden of mine is that the voice of the worship leader is being muffled… we have great production, better than ever… which means you can get by now with echoing and not being an actual voice…

 

My challenge to young worship leaders is to use their voice… to write original songs for their church… churches sing their own songs the loudest…

Episode 055: Good Manners for Guest Speakers

In this episode we sit down to talk about the what’s and why’s behind choosing guest speakers, as well as some “good manners” for guest speakers to abide by.

 

 

Part of the reason to have guest speakers is to bring something to your church that doesn’t exist on your team… like a new voice or a new thought… the body of Christ is much broader and more diverse than most churches can represent out of their own pulpits…

 

Another reason to have a guest speaker is because I want my church to know who my friends are… I want them to know who our overseers are… who is speaking into my life and the life of my staff…

 

When our guest speakers come in, they are interested in us… they want to check in on us… there’s a sense of spiritual enrichment…

 

95% of the time, when I invite a guest speaker, they are pastors of their own congregation… they understand what I’m after and trying to accomplish… they are there to care deeply for the sheep… they’ve come in to add to my work and love the people who are in front of them…

 

Here are some good manners for guest speakers… first, find out how long they want you to speak for and finish on time…

 

Secondly, dress for the culture of the church you’re speaking at… if they do suit and tie, you do suit and tie… if they do jeans and a t-shirt, do jeans and a t-shirt…

 

Third, don’t create any messes… there are sermons I can preach to my congregation that I could never preach to another person’s congregation…

 

Fourth, let other people sell your books… I believe in my books but when I go to another person’s church, I don’t sell my product… if they want to sell them, that’s fine, but that’s not why I’m there…

 

Fifth, don’t be demanding… be low-maintenance… if you’re going to be a blessing, then go to be a blessing…

 

Lastly, go there to learn… a lot of times, my best ideas have come from my preaching trips… if we go in as learners, prepared to ask a lot of questions, it’s amazing the ideas we’ll get…

 

A good guest speaker is a person who, when they leave, the congregation is more in love with their church, and not with the ministry that just got on a plane and left town…

 

I tell young pastors to find older, faithful leaders who are finishing the race well, and have them be your guest speakers… your young congregation will thank you…

Episode 054: Tithing

In this episode we sit down about the spiritual discipline of tithing. Is it still a valid New Testament practice? What does the Scripture teach? How should we talk about it?

 

 

Tithing is the beginning point of generosity not the end point… when people argue with me about tithing, they’re never arguing because they want to give more… they’re looking for a reason not to give…

 

Tithing for me revealed motives that were deep in my heart… it revealed my fear of losing money or not having enough… tithing unsettled and stretched me and made me more disciplined…

 

In Acts, when the Spirit is poured out, people get radical with their generosity… tithing is fulfilled and heightened in the New Testament, it is not done away with…

 

The reason that a lot of people aren’t tithing is that they are living off of more than 100% of their income… you have to learn to live on less…

 

Now of course when people walk through crisis, for that there is grace… in fact, that’s why the rest of us should be tithing—to take care of those people!

 

Sometimes the way that we’ve talked about tithing is transactional… it’s about the person to person interaction with God, and we’ve lost the communal aspect of tithing…

 

The problem with many people is that when they start making $75k or more is they lose contact with the poor… when you lose contact, you lose compassion… tithing keeps us connected to the plight of the poor…

 

One of my own measurements personally with giving is, “Can I pray the prayer: Give us this day our daily bread?” with authenticity… if I can’t pray that prayer and mean it, I’m not being generous enough…

 

Giving to the church is a different kind of giving… it is worshipful and therefore undesignated… there’s a sense in which it is an openhanded gift, where we are saying to God, “I am yours…”

 

If everyone at New Life Church tithed, we could just about solve the problem of homeless, single moms in El Paso County… that’s what drives me to talk about this…

 

Where a lot of pastors fall short is that we don’t tell people where the money is spent… we need to let people know how their collective giving does collective good…

 

Episode 053: The Why’s and How’s of Global Engagement

In this episode we sit down to talk about how the local church can responsibly and wisely enter into a robust engagement with the work of God’s Spirit around the world.

 

 

The mission of God has been a global story from the beginning… the trick that happens with any local church is that it’s easy to be insular…

 

A little perspective is sometimes what we need… we can often get lulled into a comfort where we’re surprised when bad things happen… we need the global for the gift of perspective…

 

Oftentimes when we go global, we think that we need to go preach, but I think it’s better to go and listen… the problem with the American church is that we go in as saviors and superheroes and we tend to do a very bad job of listening…

 

Missionaries often arrive with some “capital” into situations where people are devoid of it… the problem is that it teaches them to see us as a pile of cash… and it teaches us to see them as poor and needy… the Jesus way is emptying ourselves enough to really enter into relationship…

 

Partnerships are what we are looking for… friendships and partnerships sustain themselves… one of the sobering things we heard in Guatemala and Honduras was that pastors there felt abandon by American churches…

 

Countries are not changed by three-day trips, but by long term strategies based on trust and relationships…

 

My greater goal is to change my church here… to bring transformation to the hearts of my people at New Life… I want to change attitude, narrative, and perspective… the political climate is full of vitriol… we had pastors with tears in their eyes pleading with me to help Americans see them as people of hope and potential…

 

There are times when I’m in moments with folks overseas and I am saying to these brothers and sisters, “You are leading the way…” it is the third world showing the first world how to follow Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind and strength…

 

The global south is the church with the oil in their lamps… you see their reckless abandon and passion for Jesus… their zeal for prayer and for the poor… they have oil that we need… for us not to go harms US in the long term…

Episode 052: Leading From The Middle

In this episode we discuss the opportunities and challenges of leading “from the middle” of an organization. How do we become catalysts for health, creativity, and even vision when we don’t occupy the so-called “first chair”?

 

 

There’s a whole band of leadership that takes place “from the middle” where we are leading “upward” to those we report to, “downward” to those under our charge, and “laterally” among peers on the org. chart… we can be agents of change in that space…

 

We believe that vision can come from different places in the organization… Pastor Brady has prepared the way for that… it requires a leader who is willing to do that, to extent the trust, and people who can be trusted…

 

A lot of the work of leading from the middle is the work of translation… you have to be able to relay the feeling on the ground upward, but you also have to be able to take the 35,000 foot view and translate it downward…

 

I want to always remind the leader above me that I know they are in charge so that they never have to wonder about it… there’s a deference that we need to show…

 

Give the leader above you a document that they can edit… propose something, come open-handed, and let the leader above you make a good decision…

 

When no one is trying to win at the other’s expense, everything is fine… it takes all the fear out of the room…

 

Brady has created opportunities for us to practice our craft, giving us covering without always imposing… he’s given us space to practice and fail and has wisdom right there when we need it…

 

The goal on a team is not consensus, the goal is collaboration… for that to happen, everyone needs a voice… if they can weigh in, they can buy in…

 

Don’t squander the opportunity while you’re waiting for the first chair… are you pouting as we wait, or are you actually leading as though this is the place Jesus has planted you, and doing it with everything in you…?

 

And don’t assume that you actually want the first chair… as long as the Lord asks you to wait, wait…

Episode 051: A Culture of Life

In light of the recent abortion legislation passed in New York, we sat down to talk about what it looks like for the Church to not only preach but also work for a culture of life.

 

 

It seems like there’s been a great battle for women’s rights, and there have been great advances… but to associate the abortion law with women’s health is difficult for many people because we believe that life begins at conception…

 

In the name of fighting for more rights, we’ve dropped the conversation about what our responsibility is to these creatures who have been made in God’s image…

 

I want my daughter to have access to every possible health benefit that she can get… there’s not one thing I would withhold from her for the sake of her health… but because we have a different view of when life begins, we can’t back away… babies in the womb are precious in the sight of the Lord…

 

The One that we come to church and worship on Sunday mornings was the product of a difficult pregnancy… Christians are hard people to convince that life isn’t sacred in the womb… it is a theological conversation…

 

Women don’t often see the Church as a place where they can receive compassion and grace… we should be outraged at violence against children… however, when women come to us, we need to receive them, listen to them, and help them…

 

The Church has to go to extravagant lengths to welcome these women into our midst, being empathetic, kind, and compassionate, and offering real solutions…

 

People need to turn their zeal from outrage to outreach… and you’d be surprised at how many churches are quietly and effectively reaching women at this moment of crisis in their lives…

 

Politics do matter… we shouldn’t be partisan, but we should be political… laws matter, and unjust laws will hurt our community like just ones will help people thrive…

 

For all of us, we should contact our state and national legislators and tell them we believe in the sanctity of life and that we are here to help… if you come in combatively, you won’t get invited to the meetings you need to be invited to in order to make a difference…

Episode 050: The Pastor As A Student

In this episode we sit down to talk about the pastor as a student. Why is it important that a pastor be an ongoing learner, and what does that look like?

 

 

One of the traps for a pastor is to only listen to your peers, to people who are right where you are… we need input that is qualitatively greater than our output…

 

We are those who have been entrusted with a message… for pastors, our work is words… so much of our life and ministry lives at the level of perception… that means that the pastor is the ‘first student’ in the congregation…

 

It’s too easy to let the culture at large co-opt our language, where our words all of a sudden carry meanings that wouldn’t have resonated with followers of Christ 1500 years ago… so we’re fighting for an accurate perception of God’s world as it lives at the level of language…

 

We need to be a student because our faith is a received faith… we shouldn’t be the first ones to talk this way about God…

 

In terms of a study rhythm, a lot of us try to keep the mornings open to read, write, or take notes on something… the trick is to devote a few hours a week to study that is not sermon-related…

 

When all you’re doing is taking in and then cranking content back out, it becomes functional and utilitarian… I feel a displeasure in my soul over that… it’s important to submit yourself to the pleasure of reading and learning that is not directly useful to your preaching…

 

All of our learning goes somewhere… we’ve been entrusted with the most beautiful story in the world, you need to tell it beautifully… we submit ourselves to the wordsmiths so that we can tell the story well… I don’t want to tell the greatest story in a mechanical or sleepy way…

 

The enemy of so much of this is our phones… I used to wander around the office with a book, but now I’m [on my phone] scanning Twitter… something is taking up our time… we need to be proactive and choose sources that nourish us, since we are giving out so much…

 

Don’t just read the stuff that’s been written in the last 15 years or so… access the ancients because they are there for you… that’s part of how we sit at the feet of the great cloud of witnesses…

Episode 049: When Is It Time To Resign?

In this episode we sit down to talk about what qualifies and disqualifies a person for ministry. How do you know when it’s time to resign? What kinds of structure and culture do we need to have in our churches to keep them and those who lead them healthy over time?

 

 

God is not after perfection, but he is after holiness… I’m concerned that we’ve lowered the standards of holiness in the church… which means we’re holding leaders everywhere else in our culture to lower standards…

 

In our media-driven culture, we no longer look to 1stTimothy 3 and Titus 1… instead we ask, “Can this person light the stage up?”

 

We made a decision here at New Life that when we ask a guest speaker to come to our conference or church or to impart to our people in any way, we are asking, “Is their character intact?” Sometimes that has meant we don’t invite people…

 

The problem is there are fewer and fewer spiritual moms and dads in the church… we have a lot of young men and women leading the church now with no spiritual moms and dads in their lives…

 

What holds the church together over time is lives that are rooted in Christ Jesus… genuinely righteous lives… if you don’t have those kinds of folks in leadership, the thing will ultimately blow apart…

 

When you have unrepentant sin in your life, where you get caught and you aren’t repentant… where you made efforts to hide it, conceal it, to live a double life… that is a sign that something is really broken inside of you and you need to step away…

 

The world is watching…. and one of the reasons the church has lost so much influence in the culture is that we have not handled our scandals well…

 

Abuses of sex, money, and power are disqualifiers… but also heresy… knowing that you are wrong but continuing to teach it… all of a sudden these people becomes apostles of a new theological movement, standing against the great tradition and doing it defiantly… when you catch a pastor in this kind of condition, it’s time for them to resign…

 

You can scour the documents of the early church all you want, and you won’t find a coordinated evangelistic strategy… mostly the church leaders minded the integrity of their common life… when we mind the integrity of our common life, it’s actually our best ‘growth’ strategy…  

 

Churches that do not have clear government structures inside and outside, I would avoid… a church that doesn’t have a discernible network of elders within and a discernible group on the outside that can hold it to account—chances are it won’t be safe long term…

Episode 048: Starting The Year Out Right

In this episode, we sit down to talk about how to start the congregational year out on the right foot. What should we do? What should we not do? How can January poise us for what the Lord wants to do in our churches over the next 11 months?

 

 

For us, we believe that starting the year out with worship, prayer, and the presence of the Lord does something for the rest of the year in the life of our church… if you can start the year in a holy way, the chances of you finishing in a holy way greatly increase…

 

The essence of the gospel is a new start… we always get a second chance… January gives you a chance to start over and get fresh wind in your sails…

 

Praying churches produce spiritual fruit, and if you’re not praying, then a lot of energy is going to be wasted over the course of the year… when we’re praying, it feels like we do more with less…

 

The right time to teach your church to pray is before a crisis happens… New Life was able to survive its dark seasons because it was a praying church before those seasons…

 

Some of the best prayer meetings that I have been in have been the ones that were stripped of everything and all you had was your naked longing for God… God moves on meetings like that…

 

When people know that their pastors and leaders are willing to sacrifice, are willing to fast and pray, they will show up…

 

There’s a difference between being planned and being produced… we have an idea of the songs we’re going to sing and who is going to lead… but once the service starts, we are saying “Come, Holy Spirit” and we really don’t know what’s going to happen next…

 

I like the fact that these meetings are organic, that we can call audibles… you can feel the room respond to the spontaneity of it…

 

This time of year is the wrong time to try to grow the church… this is the time to build depth and strengthen your core… we need to go deep so that when we go wide later, it can sustain itself…

 

The rest of the year is about to get very busy… if you’re going to add more events at the first of the year, don’t wear your staff out… this needs to benefit them… they’re going to have to empty their cups in the next few months… this is a time for them to fill their cups…

Episode 047: A Conversation with Andrew Wilson

In this episode we sit down to talk to our friend Andrew Wilson about his new book Spirit and Sacrament: An Invitation to Eucharismatic Worship to talk about the what, why, and how of blending the charismatic and sacramental expressions.

 

 

https://www.spiritandsacrament.com/

 

I don’t remember where I first came up with the word (“eucharismatic”), but my history is that I have some Anglicanism in my childhood that was non-charismatic… and then I went to a charismatic church that had almost no awareness of the historical church…

 

At around six or seven years ago I started thinking there was a need for the church to bring together these two gifts… the term eucharismatic is a putting together of two words: eucharistic and charismatic, and the link between them is charis—grace (or chara—joy)…

 

When we understand the gift of God in the spiritual gifts and the gift of God in the Lord’s supper, we can receive all of God’s gifts rather than just some…

 

For me, the sacramental tradition was not associated with joy… but then I began reading the history of the church, these people who had almost unutterable moments of revelation of the beauty of who God is [while celebrating the eucharist]…

 

The Lord’s Supper is the lovely thing where everyone knows that this is something they are supposed to do; the question is how and how often… our church was doing it in homes, like they did in Acts 2…

 

For us, we had to recognize that whatever we did not practice on Sunday we did not ultimately value… you can say the same for the gifts… unless we do this at some point on Sundays, the church will think this is relatively unimportant…

 

I think that for many in more traditional churches, they are concerned about the charismatic out of a concern for orthodoxy and for things to be done in a decently and in order kind of way…

 

One of the things you can do is pick low-hanging fruit… the judicious and careful use of a prophetic impression (and you might not even call it that)—most people, even the most conservative (traditional) are happy with the idea that God might lead them to do something…

 

You just need to be sensitive to the fact that for many people this is really new… you need to be able to explain things in a non-weird way what God is doing…