One of the things that I found as a leader that if you want to continue to grow you need to read books, and not just any book you need to read good books. The problem I have found is there are so many books out there many are great some not so great. A good book should feel like a conversation. Books give you the ability to have a conversation with people you will likely never meet. Great books do that. One of the best strategies I have found to find a good book then read the books by the people they recommend and quote often. Here is a list of 12 good books to get you started.
True Spirituality – Francis Schaeffer
Prodigal God – Tim Keller
Mere Christianity – CS Lewis
Pilgrims Progress – John Bunyon
Confessions – St. Augustine
Reclaiming Conversation – Sherry Turkle
Leadership and Self-Deception – Arbinger Institute
The Call To Joy and Pain – Ajith Fernando
How to Read a Book – Mortimer J Adler
Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
Amazing Grace – Eric Metaxas
Bonhoeffer – Eric Metaxas
Let me be frank. Multi-site is not easy and is not for everyone. I have hated it at times and am thankful at other times. One of the things I love about multi-site is it forces you to grow, invest in and pray for more leaders. Sometimes people will call asking about Multi-site kids ministry I always tell them we have far from figured it out. Here are the other six things I tell them.
1. Two sites will stretch your parents more than you. Three sites plus will stretch you and your staff more than your parents.
2. There is no perfect model. Everyone has a different take. What you need is not a model to follow but clarity from your pastor on his desire and what that looks like in the context of your church.
3. Multi-site is hardest on the kids ministry because of the massive amounts of leaders and infrastructure need to pull off a Sunday. Once your pastor does one location start planning for five.
4. You have to be more sure of your values they need to be more clear and more simple than ever before.
5. You need a point person staff or volunteer who you trust and who understands the churches DNA and understands you and how you work.
6. You need to trust God more than ever because it really is bigger than you. One site you can manage but get to three or four and your God dependence gets greater. A greater dependence on the work of the Holy spirit and our trust in a God who works all things according to the counsel of His will in our kids ministry has been by far the best thing to come out of our multi-site experience.
12 years in and as we start our 5th campus I still have much to learn.
This week marks nine years blogging. It’s crazy to think of all the change that has taken place in our world and in our family in the past nine years. As I think back over those nine years I think of the things that I only could have learned by blogging.
- Starting is always the scariest part of most everything – It was scary to start blogging. It was scary to make myself vulnerable enough to write what I was thinking, learning and failing at. It still is scary.
There are few things more intimidating in life than a blank page and blinking cursor. How do you beat this fear? Start typing.
- Consistency was my biggest challenge. When starting a blog or most things in life you have to be consistent. Pushing through bloggers block was tough till I created a system for ideas and then learned how to make old ideas new. Most bloggers don’t survive because of a lack of consistency, not because of lack of good ideas or content. There are many of you out there reading this that need to start blogging. You should. How consistent should you be? I think to start out you need to do three times a week for a couple of years till ideas and execution become reflexive.
Everyone is a critic. Don’t believe me? Go on-line to Facebook or twitter during an awards show. Don’t believe me? Ask someone how they feel about a local restaurant, if they like your new haircut, and where you should go on vacation.
We all love to share our opinion. We love it when people ask what we think. Where we tend to have a hard time is when people share their opinion with us. Especially when that opinion is different than ours or when it is aimed at us specifically.
Everyone is a critic but no one likes to be criticized.
One of the best things we can do when others criticize you is to take a look at yourself and ask what does this criticism tell me about me?Here are some of the things that I have found in my life criticism tells me about me.
1. It shows me the things in my life that I hold onto more tightly than I do Christ. – The things that matter to me more than anything else hurt far more when they are poked at by others.
2. It reminds me that I need to care what others think about me but not how often they think about me. We need to care about others but not to the point that our identity and security is informed by what they think about me.
3. It helps me find a joy that is real. It frees me from the need to be loved by others. Jesus said in Luke:
Luke 6:26 26 “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.
4. Criticism allows me to a small extent identify with Christ. He was rejected by God and man for us. He was separated from his father so we never have to be. The problem with most of us is we exchange beauty and honor of partaking even in a small portion of the suffering Christ experienced on our behalf because we value comfort and the opinions of man.
1 Peter 4:12-14
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.
I have been reading a book by Os Guinness entitled “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Lost Art of Christian Persuasion.” In his book Dr. Guinness talks about how we have to move from convincing people to become Christian to persuading them to search for Christ. Towards the end of the book he talks about the dangers of revisionism. Revisionism advocates for change in longstanding doctrines that the church has believed to be true over the course of thousands of years. Guinness speaks to the dangers that revisionism has on the Church and Christian Orthodoxy. Revisionism is not just a liberal concept it can be found in both the liberal and conservative wings of Christianity. What Guinness has to say is both telling and challenging. It is telling because it is becoming more widespread it is challenging because it calls us to action. It requires us to do more than sit back and wait for the dust to settle. What we believe to be true must be founded in love but we must be faithful to what is true.
How does this play into kids and youth ministry? We can no longer teach our kids to be good citizens we must prepare them to be Christian advocates. We must teach them what is true so they do not make decisions based on what they experience, that feels true. Our job as pastors of the young in our flock is not just to create spaces that are creative and fun but we must teach them what is true.
Relevance is not giving people what they want, it’s giving them what they need. Sometimes they don’t even know they need it. What kids need from us is a is not just facts about life and ways to do life better they need a new framework to see the world. Without a framework their facts about life will wither under the relentlessness of the experience that our generation uses to trump truth. We can not run away or put our head in the sand we must meet the challenge of our day full force with the timeless truth that has been handed to us. Here is what Os Guinness says in his book “Fools Talk” about liberal Christian revisionists.
Christian advocates, then, must be ready to focus their attention on those inside the church as well as those outside— resisting modern revisionism just as St. Paul resisted ancient Gnosticism and St. Athanasius stood fast against Arianism and the world of his day. Are today’s evangelists and apologists prepared to count the cost and pick up their crosses again and truly be contra mundum— even to the point of scorn, shame, and perhaps imprisonment and death? Let there be no misunderstanding: the greatest crisis now facing the church in the West today is the crisis of authority caused by the church’s capitulation to the pressures of the sexual revolution, and in particular to the bullying agenda of the Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender-Queer coalition. It will not do for evangelists and apologists to keep silent for fear of losing opportunities to present the gospel. As Luther made plain in his day, to fight the battle at any point other than where the battle is being fought in one’s day is to lose the battle.
Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous regret in failing to stand against National Socialism in his time carries an equivalent warning for evangelists and apologists today. They raised the question of authority, but I was an evangelist and an apologist and not a theologian, so I didn’t stand up . . .