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

Episode 015: Building Bridges

In this week’s podcast, we take a listen to a recent radio story that tells the story of our recent merger with Iglesia Nueva Vida, a local Spanish-speaking congregation in our city, and now the newest part of the New Life Church family.

 

EPISODE 015 – BUILDING BRIDGES – SHOW NOTES

 

On a macro-level, New Life Church was making a prophetic pronouncement that the Church was going to show the world how to live together…

 

The body of Christ has the ability to show a very divided world how to live together…

 

The Scriptures describe the Spirit as the great unifier of the human race… the church was birthed in a diversified world… and it was the Holy Spirit who was the great unifier…

 

The reason we are so divided is because of a noticeable lack of the Holy Spirit in our lives…

 

When you welcome the Holy Spirit into your church, do not be surprised if he asks you to live alongside people who are different from you… the Holy Spirit is a bridge-builder…

 

When people take a step toward one another and begin to love other human beings, skin color and racial differences begin to melt away and you begin to see the humanity in each other…

 

If the embodiment of the gospel is an earth-to-heaven experience, we should start seeing signposts, we should start seeing heaven being fleshed out among us, so we have to figure out a way for brothers and sisters to worship together…

 

If we’re in the city for the sake of the city, then we need to pastor the entire city… My question for pastors is: are you concerned with every neighborhood in your city?

 

Find out what the poor churches in your city are doing well, and lend them your strength… we weren’t out looking for merger opportunities, but for partners…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Do you see the Holy Spirit as the great unifier? What evidence is there in your church culture of that conviction?
  • How have you sensed the Spirit nudging you out of your comfort zone into relationship with others who are different from you? What steps can you take?
  • What can you do to grow in your concern for the whole city, and not just your neighborhood?

 

Episode 014: Avoiding Cynicism in Ministry

As leaders in the local church, we inevitably encounter criticism from within our congregations and from the outside world. In this week’s conversation, we talk about some ways of addressing this criticism in a Godly way, as well as some ways to protect ourselves from encountering criticism unnecessarily.

 

Episode 014 – Avoiding Cynicism in Ministry – SHOW NOTES

 

There is an ounce of truth in every pound of criticism…I’ve learned over the years that if I keep hearing consistent criticism…there’s probably some truth in it…

 

The vocation we have chosen opens us up to a lot of criticism…pastors need to find a group of trusted friends [to help them discern the truth]…

 

Social media is a modern calamity for pastors…it gives people the ability to immediately criticize and vocalize their discontent…

 

One of the things I’ve learned is that there are certain times in my week when I need to shut down social media…pastors need to be disciplined to stay away from the vitriol of social media…

 

There’s a time to be a shepherd of the sheep…I do not respond to personal attacks out of the pulpit, but I will get up and defend the church…

 

Find the truth in every part of criticism, don’t immediately dismiss it; surround yourself with life-giving people; and honor the Sabbath, make sure you are completely filled up with the presence of Jesus when you get up to preach…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • How are you doing with responding to criticism?
  • Who are your trusted friends who can help you discern the truth in criticism?
  • When are you most vulnerable to criticism? What can you do to become more disciplined?

Episode 013: Developing Ministry with the Hurting

EPISODE 013 – SHOW NOTES – DEVELOPING MINISTRY WITH THE HURTING

For this week’s podcast, we were joined by Matthew Ayers, CEO of Dream Centers of Colorado Springs to talk about how the local church can lead the way in serving the most vulnerable people in their cities.

 

Churches are notoriously bad listeners… the Christian community in America needs to do a better job of asking better questions and listening to the city’s response, and then stepping to the front of the line to meet those needs…

 

It was amazing to me how much good work was happening in our city that we didn’t know about… when we began to explore the areas of pain in our city, we began to unearth some amazing ministries…

 

The early church had a commitment to care for the poor… they took it more seriously than we take it…

 

Most of the people in our church were not aware of the brokenness that was happening in our city… what the Dream Centers brought to New Life was an awareness of the poor… now that they know, I don’t have any trouble motivating them to get involved…

 

The senior pastor of the church has to carry this in a deep way or it will become just a little project on the side…

 

I’ve discovered that this has become a discipleship mechanism for us… people are discovering that they can use what they have to be a blessing to others…

 

The poor are not a problem to be solved but a people to be joined… if you’re not regularly looking into the eyes of the poor, you are probably not seeing Jesus…

 

God’s Spirit is already incredibly active… if we will do the hard work of slowing down, paying attention, talking and listening to others that are already engaged in this way, we have a lot to learn…

 

Any time we get serious about taking care of the poor of our city, you will never lack for resources to do it…

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

1 – On a scale of 1-10, how important is caring for the poor to you and your ministry? Why did you give it the number you did?

2 – What can you begin to do to raise this value in your own heart and in the heart of your congregation?

3 – What would it look like for you to begin genuinely listening to the needs of your city?

4 – How can you begin?

 

RESOURCES

Ray Bakke – Theology as Big as a City

Dream Centers of Colorado Springs

Episode 012: Blending the Contemplative and Charismatic

For this episode of the Essential Church podcast, we’re joined by Pastor Rich Villodas of New Life Fellowship in Queens, NY to discuss the contemplative and charismatic traditions of the Church.

We started noticing that we had lots of gifts, but not a love of love and character… our church went in search of something more to try to balance out…

 

I think we have to root the contemplative and the charismatic streams in the ground of a robust Pneumatology… the intent of the Scriptures is the coming of God’s presence among his people…

 

If the Holy Spirit in John 3 is depicted as wind, then we have to make space for a multi-dimensional Spirit who comes to people in different ways…

 

I see the two married together – these are various, great manifestations of the grace of the Spirit, whether in power or in stillness and silence…

 

What often happens is that you have one sector of the Church that has a narrow view of how God has manifested grace through the ages, and then they get into their enclave or stream [to the neglect of others]…

 

We often don’t pause to see the myriad of ways God has come to us through the centuries…

 

When we swung the pendulum, I think we swung it too far… when you look at Corinthians 13, you don’t see Paul saying that once you get your act together, you can use your gifts again… he just says to use them with love…

 

What this is looking like for us is that I’m teaching on it more… we’re offering more trainings for people… more and more we’re creating space in our worship gatherings for moments of pause to recognize that perhaps God wants to do something right now…

 

For me it feels like I’m getting back to my roots…

 

Pursue the work of the Spirit in your life and don’t put restrictions on what shape or what narrow tradition it needs to take…

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • What did you think about Rich’s discussion of the charismatic and contemplative streams? Which do you most identify with?
  • Does your church have a culture that is open to the multifaceted work of the Spirit, or are your boxes narrow?
  • What can you do to expand your church’s receptivity to the full range of the Spirit’s work and power?

 

 

RESOURCES

Way of the Heart (Nouwen)

Streams of Living Water (Foster)

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Scazerro)

God’s Empowering Presence (Fee)

Sober Intoxication of the Spirit (Cantalamessa)

 

Episode 011: The Church and Race

For this week’s podcast, we’re joined by Pastor Derwin Gray of Transformation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina for a conversation on race, diversity, and leading multiethnic churches.
 

 

Episode 011 – SHOW NOTES – Derwin Gray – The Church and Race

 

We believe that the church is God’s primary vehicle to transform the world, and for us, being multiethnic is intrinsic to the Gospel…

 

Theology is for ecclesiology… God wants a family… and this message isn’t preached… we’ve stripped the Bible of its context and we wonder why we struggle with discipleship…

 

A homogenous church would have been unthinkable to the Apostle Paul… God’s fulfilling his covenant with Abraham must be a front burner issue or we are going to have an underdeveloped view of the gospel…

 

When racism is rarely preached in a church, you can believe that a lot of racism is [present] in that church…

 

I have a pretty good name in Charlotte, and I thought, “If I get treated this way, imagine how people who don’t have my privilege will get treated, constantly…”

 

I think the church is the answer… our Sermon on the Mount ethic needs to shape how we live and move and breathe…

 

We as the church must become a classroom to teach the world what love looks like…

 

Here’s the thing: we haven’t been taught how to do this… we need churches that know how to do this to teach other churches how to do it…

 

You can’t cultivate a multiethnic church if you don’t lead a multiethnic life…

 

You can’t be a consumer and play on a team, but you can be a consumer and be in the church… in the church we’re actually designing our services for you to consume, and so no wonder we struggle with it!

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • Do you believe that the gospel speaks to racial issues? Why or why not?
  • Is your church homogeneous? Why?
  • What can you and your church do to begin to move towards a greater engagement with racial issues and greater ethnic diversity?

 

 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Derwin Gray – The HD Leader

Episode 010: Lessons from 10 Years Pt. 2

We’re picking up where we left off last week and continuing a conversation about the lessons learned from Pastor Brady’s ten years of ministry at New Life Church. Our hope is that these lessons would resonate with and encourage you.

 

SHOW NOTES – 010 – Lessons from 10 Years Pt 2

 

For your young leaders, serve your way into relationship… a lot of mentoring happens when you’re just present…

 

Millennials tend to have this idea of what a mentoring relationship needs to look like, that it has to be perfect and romantic and ideal… I would say just serve and be present and along the way you’ll find the relationships evolve…

 

The question is: who do you want to be like, and will you chase them?

 

Chase character and not charisma… oftentimes charisma on the stage is misleading… so find someone whose character outweighs their charisma…

 

It doesn’t have to be a famous pastor… it doesn’t even have to be a pastor… there are people all around you [who can help you]… it’s about having the eyes to see and the guts to ask…

 

If I don’t pastor my own home, I don’t have the right to pastor the church…

 

We have to honor the Sabbath every week, and that’s different than a day off… a day off is when I mow my yard and get the oil changed… but a Sabbath is when I return to my sonship… Sabbath is when I wake up as a child and let God be Father to me all day long…

 

Your year needs to include Sundays where you know you shouldn’t preach, and it needs to include an extended vacation… I don’t care what size the church is, you need more than one week off at a time…

 

 

Questions for you and your team

  • How can you be more proactive about pursuing mentoring relationships?
  • Do you have people in your life who you want to be like? What can you do to chase them?
  • How are you doing at honoring the Sabbath?
  • What would it look like for you to plan your year in a healthier way?

 

 

Recommended Resource

Abraham Joshua Heschel – The Sabbath

Episode 009: Lessons from 10 Years Pt. 1

Pastor Brady recently celebrated ten years of leading New Life Church as the Senior Pastor. In this episode, we looked back on the past decade and talk about the lessons learned. We hope that these lessons will apply to your ministry and will help strengthen your churches.

 

 

Along with listening to this podcast, check out this recent article from Outreach Magazine that tells the miracle stories of the last ten years at New Life Church.

Episode 009 SHOW NOTES – Ten Years, Ten Lessons

 

There were three things that allowed New Life to survive and thrive… we had a culture of worship, a culture of prayer, and a deep sense of community… if you have spent your time teaching the church to connect deeply with God and deeply with one another, you can weather almost any storm…

 

The hard thing here was winning trust… you can’t spend trust you don’t have and there’s only one way to earn trust: doing the right thing for the right reason for a long time…

 

There are three groups that every pastor speaks to every Sunday: the people that trust you, the people that want to trust you but with time, and the people who will not trust you no matter what you do…

 

Pastors need to be aware that we are facing an increasingly cynical public…

 

The congregation pays attention to how you treat each other… the first test of a pastor’s leadership is how he treats his team…

 

One of the best pieces of advice I got was that our church didn’t need a prophet but a pastor… let them heal and then they’ll follow you to the next place…

 

For pastors, especially of growing churches, it’s easy to get out of the rhythm of actually living with the people you’re working with… over time, pastors that choose that path will wake up one day and discover their values are not being embraced or carried out, and that they’re surrounded not by friends but by strangers…

 

I did not realize how much I was going to need to pray over this thing, and how much I would need spiritual fathers and mothers around me…

 

The most successful pastors I’ve ever been around have been those who have not lost their passion for prayer…

 

 

 

QUESTIONS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM

  • How can you build the kind of culture now in your church that can withstand the storms?
  • What are you doing to earn the trust of your congregation?
  • Does your team reflect the sense of community and friendship you want to see across your congregation? Why or why not?

Episode 008: Restoring Fallen Leaders

In this episode, we’re joined by two incredible leaders, Pastor Jimmy Evans and Pastor Tom Lane. Not only have they led faithfully in local churches for most of their lives, they’ve also played integral roles in restoring fallen leaders back to health. So we sat down with them and asked them to share their wisdom. We pray that it blesses and encourages you.

 

Episode 008 – Restoring Fallen Leaders

 

Repentance is everything… everything is possible when you’re dealing with a repentant leader

 

Don’t go faster than the heart of the person you are trying to restore… 100% of my response [as a leader seeking to help restore another leader] depends on the person’s heart…

 

The sin did not happen overnight… so to expect an instantaneous restoration is unfair and impossible… the foundations of people’s lives need to be rebuilt…

 

The goal is not just to restore them to ministry but to restore them to being a healthy human…

 

The temptation is to try to deal with this from the perspective of “How quickly can we get everything back the way it was?” This is not the goal if you are focused correctly. We’re trying to restore you to your loving relationship with God…

 

There are four things you have to do when there’s been a failure: 1) stabilize the situation, 2) walk in a process of [adapting to] the new reality, 3) reactivate your giftedness, not for vocational purposes but for volunteer purposes, 4) move into a vocation that God opens up…

 

Under the best scenarios, it’s usually about six months per step, IF the person is humble, broken, yielded to God, and submitted…

 

When the person in authority is the one who created the offense, they cannot stay in the home of the people they’ve hurt… for the body to heal and for him to heal, they need to go to a separate place to get healing…

 

In every restoration, there has to be a public repentance to the extent that the offense was public… and afterward, there is a public act of forgiving that leader…

 

The fallen leader has a responsibility to show repentance, and the church has a responsibility to show grace… with those two things in place, we can see miracles happen…

 

 

RESOURCES

Pure Desire Ministries – puredesire.org

Gateway Network – gatewaynetwork.com

Tom’s Book – Foundations of Healthy Church Government