Episode 080: 10 Hopes and Prayers Pt. 1

In this episode we sit down to talk about an article written by Andrew on 10 hopes and prayers for the next 10 years. (The original article can be found here.)

I would love to see the church become more spiritual… there is a vacancy of mystery in the church… we reduce everything to five easy steps, and it doesn’t satisfy the deepest thirst of the human soul…

The church needs to not be ashamed of the one thing it can offer that no one else can…

We need to recapture wonder… I think that we’re not surprised enough in church… the Holy Spirit is right here, and right now, which means that anything can happen…

The late Robert Jenson said that the basic difference between a living God and dead god is that a living God can still surprise us, and that’s what we see in the New Testament…

Our services are not unplanned but they are unscripted… we know that there are elements that will always be there, but it is the unscripted element that brings it to life…

Structure can and should have wonder in it… our way of holding the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer ought to be full of wonder…

In order to do this, we are going to have to slow down… I want the church in North America to swear off the haste that has become characteristic of its life…

God takes time, and we can too… sometimes when I am sermon prepping, the most effective thing I can do is just to leave it alone… go for a half hour walk, take some deep breaths, take in the landscape, and remember the Story…

When we are moving too fast, we don’t listen well, and when we don’t listen well, we don’t engage deeply in relationship, and we miss too much…

We are living in a time that is incredibly angry… the volume is so high and so many people are just talking past one another… it is a symptom of the haste that is in our hearts…

The frightful despotism of “I have to win” where life is a zero sum game is so destructive to our commonwealth, and I think that the church can lead the way on (changing) this…

Episode 079: Four Rules for Teams

In this episode we discuss four rules for how teams should function in their meetings.

Rule number one is you have to tell the truth… if it’s a bad idea, we want to hear about it… I need people in meetings who will tell the truth…

I would rather hear that something is a bad idea on Tuesday rather than on Sunday after my sermon… if you are thinking it in a meeting, don’t walk out carrying it with you…

If we can’t tell the truth in meetings, over time it will weaken the organization…

Rule number two is that you need to share the best ideas… I want creativity in the meetings… if people aren’t sitting in the meetings exploring and pushing the envelope, they don’t need to be in the meeting…

I want there to be a tension in the room that we challenge the status quo… I do not want people sitting there holding onto all their best ideas…

There needs to be robust debate in meetings for them to really work… I want my team members thinking outside their boxes, looking at everything with a fresh set of eyes… the best meetings are when there is really good debate… the best idea always wins…

Rule number three is that you can’t be in the meeting if you are afraid of being decisive… we have to make a decision…

I like to be around people who don’t get bogged down by data… at some point we need to make a decision…

A good leader with good instincts recognizes that if there is division in the room, we can’t move forward… we need to come to unity…

Rule number four is that if we make the decision, the people in the room all need to own it in public… but this is impossible if people haven’t been given an opportunity to weigh in…

The cardinal sin of team is to walk out of the meeting and say, “Well, you know I had a different perspective on this”… you can’t go out of the meetings nodding yes with your head but no with your heart…

Episode 078: The Essential Church Learning Community

In this episode, we revisit a conversation to talk about the “what” and “why” behind the launch of our Essential Church Learning Community.

Register for the Essential Church Learning Community HERE

On Feb 19-20thof 2019 we’re launching our first Essential Church Learning Community… We want to get together with leaders who are hungry to learn in an intentional environment… to explore topics we’re all wrestling with…

In a traditional conference setting, you have one person on the stage giving their best talk… I often walk away from those with 30 questions about what I’ve heard… usually there isn’t space for that in those conferences…

There are great conferences around the country that you should go be part of, but I know there are lots of leaders who want to be at a table with men and women who are in the same stage of life where we can sharpen and shape and learn from each other…

When I was in my 30s, I had a thousand questions and I was so grateful that in that season I found gatherings much like this… at one of them, we all had 30 minutes to share our greatest concerns and fears… the advice and relationship I gained from that have lasted a lifetime…

Very often at conferences, the best ideas go back to the cars in the parking lot, because participants don’t have a space to share them…

What’s beautiful about a learning community is that you don’t give people a solution to a problem, you give people conversations around big ideas that can help them in their ministries…

The format will be plenary sessions plus lots of guided conversations around tables, with food and time for interaction…

I think one of the things we’ve discovered is that we’re trying to live in some healthy tensions: the tension of having a senior pastor PLUS a strong team approach, the tension of the energy of the charismatic PLUS the rootedness of the Tradition, the tension between growth AND discipleship… these are the kinds of conversations we’re going to have and you’re the kind of person who should be here…

Episode 077: An Interview with Preston Sprinkle

In this episode we sit down with the founder and director of the Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, Dr. Preston Sprinkle, to talk about what it looks like to really love our LGBTQ neighbors.

This started as an academic challenge for me, but it quickly ripped my heart out… the journey has been trying to navigate the tension between biblical faithfulness and yet radically loving people…

Many Christians are so concerned to get the truth right that love takes a distant second… love winds up being the icing on the cake rather than the very embodiment of the truth… 

The phrase “our truth will not be heard until our grace is felt” is really directed at the person who is passionate about theology… the person who is concerned about theological integrity needs to also be radically compassionate… 

One of the most profound mysteries of my journey of Christianity is that when you are passionate to go where the text leads, you make Bible-believing Christians really nervous…

When I came at the Scriptures, I gave it a fair a shake as I could… and I think that the traditional view of marriage is clearly the Scriptural one… marriage is a union between a male and a female and that anything beyond that is sin…

N.T. Wright was really the one who helped me see that the meaning of marriage is written into the script of Creation… the ultimate question isn’t whether two people of the same sex can get married… the question is what even is marriage? Difference is woven into the Creation account…

We have no written evidence from church history that any branch of Christendom has defined marriage differently [than the traditional view]… same sex relationships have always been pervasive… and yet globally and historically the church has never had a different position…

We often hear that it’s the church’s theology that is driving people away, but that’s factually untrue… it’s not our theology that drives people away, but it’s how we have held to our theology…

We shouldn’t idolize marriage… we have often made people feel like they are a lesser Christian if they aren’t married… the New Testament defines marriage precisely and celebrates it, but it doesn’t idolize it… it is not essential to human flourishing…

Grab Preston’s book “People to be Loved” HERE. You can also check out his work at https://centerforfaith.com/.

 

Episode 076: Women in Ministry // (The “Tough” Texts)

In this episode, with John MacArthur’s controversial comments regarding Beth Moore in the air, we sit down to talk through some of the key texts for thinking about a theology of women in leadership.

The charismatic movement believes that God pours his Spirit out on all people… so in my journey, I’ve always wondered, “What would prevent a woman from preaching?”

For me, I came to Christ in high school, and my very first youth pastor was a woman, so I didn’t even realize it was an issue… when I started really reading the Bible, I saw women all over the place… so when I got to the troubling passages, I assumed there had to be an explanation…

Our entry point into the conversation really does matter… and we can’t just enter into it through our experience, and try to make the Bible match our experience… but it turns out that the Bible does have a whole lot to say about women in ministry…  

“Suitable helper” in Genesis is actually a bad translation… it is saying that alone, Adam can’t fulfill the commission…

The Hebrew word that is used for “helper” is actually most often used of God in the Old Testament… if the Old Testament had wanted to communicate subordinate status, it did a bad job of that…

With Mary and Martha… “sitting at the feet” is the same description used of Paul with Gamaliel; Martha is mad because Mary is transgressing a social boundary, and Jesus welcomes it…

What winds up happening is that we take a couple troubling texts and use them to dismiss all the others that seem to be saying something else…

In 1 Corinthians 14, we need to remember that this is one side of a correspondence… Paul has already given instructions on women prophesying in the church… in chapter fourteen he is quoting the Corinthians back to them to say, “This is NOT what I teach…”

In 1st Timothy 2, Paul is offering a specific prescription for a specific thing happening in the church… this is Pastor Paul showing up and trying to correct something that’s wonky inside the church…

We need to realize that either we are misreading Paul, or Paul is flat out misreading Genesis… instead what Paul is saying to the Corinthians is, “YOU are misreading Genesis…”

 

Grab Lucy Peppiatt’s book Rediscovering Scripture’s Vision for Women HERE 

Grab Pastor Brady’s Book Let Her Lead HERE

Episode 075: Creating a Culture of Ongoing Leadership Development

In this episode we sit down to talk about how senior leaders can create a culture of ongoing leadership development—both values and methods.

It’s so important in ministry to never stop growing… oftentimes churches get a bad rap for using and using up people… our hope is to actually leave people better than when they joined our team…   

Pastoral ministry is so diverse and requires a really unique toolbelt… people pick some of those tools up naturally, but struggle with others… if we just assume that they’ll pick everything up on their own, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot…  

We used to do a once a month training time for our staff, but we realized it just wasn’t enough… so not we’ve switched to three, eight-week runs of gatherings where we can spend longer on topics and get more return…  

Part of how we’re deciding on topics is that we’re putting our finger on the pulse of our staff and saying, “What is it that we NEED?”

At a very basic level, culture is shaped by the stories, practices, and language we share… these meetings are not just about information transfer but about learning a shared language and developing shared practices…  

The conversations we’ve had have tended to breed a lot of compassion and connection among our staff… we’re sharing about our stories, our families, and the things that have shaped us… it’s helped develop relationship and connection…  

For our volunteers we do three big events a year… one is a huge celebration, one is a vision event, and one is investment… that model gets replicated at a smaller level across our ministry teams…  

The truth of this is that if you don’t invest in other leaders, it dies with you, or is limited by you… your limitations will become the boundaries of your ministry… if you invest in others, you increase the Lord’s work exponentially…

Start small… find an initial group of key leaders and do what is manageable and life-giving for you… start there and let it build and flow naturally… don’t try to do too much at first…

Episode 074: A Conversation with Amy Julia Becker

In this episode we sit down to talk with author Amy Julia Becker about her book White Picket Fences: Turning Toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege.

I was planning on writing a book about children’s literature… I began to notice that the books I read to my kids were the ones that were read to me as a child… but I saw that they were all mirrors: they were all about white suburban families who had nice lives and similar problems to ours…

I began to recognize that we did not have books about people of color, which set me on a journey to find them, and to realize that a lot of them just hadn’t been written… which led me to ask some serious questions about my childhood…

Eventually I realized that I wasn’t writing a book about children’s literature; I’m writing a book about privilege, about what it means to be a person born into relative affluence, access to opportunity and education, and whiteness… what does that mean and how do I reckon with it?

My image of my (southern) childhood was idyllic… it was somewhat horrifying to look back and realize that I went to a private school that was founded because of desegregation… I loved that school, but as an adult I needed to recognize that that was an injustice…

Trying to hold grief and gratitude about my past together was where I ultimately landed…

Many people feel as though they are forced to either reject their parents and their childhood in order to reckon with injustice, or simply tow the party line and ignore it all…

One of reasons we shouldn’t demonize privilege is that we need to recognize that we are born into a social location… as Christians we need to ask what is God doing in me and through me in this place? God blesses us to be a blessing…

As my daughter (who has Down Syndrome) grew up, I began to recognize my own impoverishment… getting to know people with intellectual disabilities helped me see what I needed… the ways in which I didn’t understand love or relationships being more valuable than productivity… I desperately needed them…

What I am hopeful for is a holistic response to the harm of privilege… we need to do the intellectual work of reckoning with our history, learning about our cities, etc.… we need to engage our hearts in lament… and after that work, we need to, in community with others, determine what we will do to participate in God’s healing of the world…

Pick up Amy Julia’s book White Picket Fences here.

Episode 073: Discipleship and Spiritual Formation

In this episode we sit down with Sarah and Jason Jackson to talk about discipleship and spiritual formation and what we can do in our churches to encourage it.

Spiritual formation language can be helpful because it helps direct our attention to the holistic aspect of discipleship…

In my mind, I see discipleship as the process which you avail yourself to that helps to you know God more fully and make him known… spiritual formation is the lifelong journey of surrendering to the love and will of God, which includes the practices that help us conform to the image of Christ… 

One of the things that hurts the cause is that we tend to see this [only] as a mechanical process… that if we just do the right things or tick the right boxes, we are producing real Christians…  

I think what I wish for in the church is a better integration of spiritual and emotional maturity, emotional health and physical health…

The paradox of all of this is that it feels like hard work… it would be easier to silo our lives… but to really be sold out to the love of God, that’s harder…  

I picked through the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship (EHD) material with a fine-toothed comb, and couldn’t find anything I’d want to remove… they really do a good job boiling down discipleship and spiritual formation… what I love about it is that it helps us with integration…  

The whole idea behind the EHD material is that we cannot be spiritually mature but emotionally immature… this is a revolutionary idea for many… this material helps us to attend to our emotions in an integrative way… this isn’t just information, it’s about practices, too…  

The big recognition for our people has been that there is a space in their personal lives where Jesus wants to come to meet with them and speak to them… when people have opened up those spaces to Jesus, something has happened…  

Find out more about EHD at https://www.emotionallyhealthy.org

 

Episode 072: Evangelism: What and How

In this episode Andrew, Glenn Packiam, and Jason Jackson sit down to talk about how to tilt the culture of our churches towards evangelism, and how they’ve seen the Spirit use the ministry of Alpha to help.

Barna did a study about evangelism and while there was agreement that Christians should be witnesses for Jesus and that it is good for people to come to know Jesus, there was more ambivalence on whether or not it was wrong to try to convince someone to become a Christian…  

It seems that many people would like folks to come to know Jesus, and they believe that it’s the best thing that could happen to a person, but at the same time they think it might be morally wrong to “impose” their beliefs on another person…

Part of this is that we’re trying to figure out what “tolerance” means… so, when I start talking about my beliefs with you, is that a form of intolerance? For many, especially millennials, it’s easy to get hung up on that…

There might be a righteous impulse here… underneath our fears, the righteous impulse is that we believe that evangelism works best when Jesus is presented in a way that creates maximum space for the Spirit to work…  

Evangelism is living in a way that embodies the reality of Jesus in the world so that it is something that the church does in their life together… 

Alpha is a great example of this… in the 70s or 80s a church on the west side of London called Holy Trinity Brompton created a new believers course… what they discovered was that it was a great way for nonbelievers to enter the conversation about Christianity in a safe way…

Its values became focused around hospitality… creating a space where people could ask questions and just be heard…  

What I love about it is that it checks all the boxes… there’s space for the Holy Spirit to do something through prayer and worship, there’s a talk that presents an idea in a winsome and compelling way, and then it makes space for wrestling and questions… somehow it all works… 

They recommend that all of this happens around a meal… meals are great equalizers… where I’m getting to know you and you’re getting to know me…  

Learn more about Alpha at https://alpha.org/

Episode 071: A Conversation with Tim Lucas and Warren Bird

In this episode we sit down with Tim Lucas and Warren Bird to talk about their new book Liquid Church and what they are seeing the Spirit do both on the east coast and across the country.

We call our church “bapticostal”… we are open to the Holy Spirit but we keep our seatbelt on and have guardrails built in… 

The east coast is very post-Christian… the church is viewed with a great deal of suspicion… the tip of our evangelism spear is the good deeds that we do in the community—which open the door for the gospel…

In the early days of Liquid Church, we didn’t just teach about the Holy Spirit, but created space to experience what we taught… it was scary…

The congregation cannot go somewhere the pastor hasn’t gone personally… for anyone wanting to explore the role of the Spirit in their congregation, they’ll have to take the first step…  

The premise both of the book and our church is based on Ezekiel’s vision of the river coming from the Temple… the farther Ezekiel goes away from the Temple, the deeper the water gets… we think that the farther you go outside the walls of the church, the deeper in the Spirit you’ll go…  

The people we’re trying to reach are spiritually thirsty people… they may not care about traditional church, but are open to the things of God…

One of the ministries that God is blessing right now is the ministry to people with special needs… it is a magnet to those in the community… one person said to us, “For my child, everyone who cares for him is paid to do so, except for this church; here their primary motive is simply to care for my son…”  

This segment is the fastest growing segment of our church’s population… we see the Holy Spirit moving in a unique way through special needs ministry…

Something else we’re seeing the Spirit breathe on is the development of lay talent… commissioning people to lead ministries… one-third of Liquid Church’s staff is volunteers… they’re not just doing ministry, they are leading ministry…

At our church, we even have volunteer associate pastors who give 15-20 hours a week doing things like weddings, funerals, marriage mentoring, etc…

Grab a copy of Liquid Church HERE.