Submission Not Innovation

In seeking innovation are we missing what's better?

I have always thought of myself as an innovative person. Twenty years in kids ministry with many of those years having a very small budget to no budget at all, I had to learn to be innovative. The problem came for me when innovation became part of my identity. I identified as an innovative person. I liked finding new solutions to problems. I would find out new tricks and shortcuts that made my life easier and the lives of those around me easier. I was praised as an innovator. I thought innovation was always the answer. New ideas to new problems.

A Darwinian Dilemma

The problem was that I started to measure success in terms of progress. I saw all change as good. I thought in terms of trying to come up with solutions to new problems. This is what I call Darwins Dilemma. We don’t even fully realize how much Darwin’s theory of evolution and his idea of the survival of the fittest has infiltrated our thinking. The Greeks measured their thought in terms of geometry it was a mental puzzle to be solved (this isn’t perfect either).  After the release of The Origin of Species that rational geometric thought was exchanged for a more biological framework. We no longer look at problems in terms of logic but in terms of progress. Darwin has sewn into the fabric of the west this pernicious idea that all change is good that all progress is right. Innovation at all costs. We may not even believe in evolution but we have collectively bought into the faulty framework of ideas that new is better that progress is good.

This was the way I thought for years. What changed my viewpoint was reading old books. Books written before Darwin’s theory became the new gospel of our culture and a  functional reality in our churches. So many of the church planting ideas and strategies are Darwinian. Church growth is hard work coupled with deep trust with an attitude of gospel humility. The gospel of pragmatism, if it works do it and is based on Darwinian thinking.

Why Gospel Centered Curriculum Matters

Filtering everything we tell our kids though God's story.

The Bible is not a story about heroes we should emulate, but about a Savior we are to adore. JD Greer

Is the Gospel clearly articulated? – The big mistake we make here in our teaching, and our curriculum is we limit the gospel to an event. We very easily limit the gospel both actively and passively shrink the gospel to something that is a box to be checked rather than as sustaining truth that continues to shape, empower and sustain or lives.

Love how John Piper puts it.
Parents teach your kids the gospel is not just something that begins the Christian life but empowers it, shapes it and sustains it. Pray, love, correct and demonstrate the love of God to your kids until he draws them they respond and He becomes their treasure and their great reward. John Piper

For a curriculum to be life transforming it has be centered around the gospel. I remember In 1989 Rick Moranis entered into the vernacular of our culture the words “honey I shrunk the kids” Moranis portrays a wacky inventor who accidentally shrinks his kids and the neighbor kids with his shrink ray he invented. Moranis’ character is unaware that his kids were shrunk by the very invention he destroys because he thinks it doesn’t work. There were multiple spin-offs of the movie and “honey I shrunk the (fill in the blank with something witty)” became a staple of sitcoms and watercolors alike for most of the 90’s.

Growing up in the 80’s has created a passion in me for all things 80’s. I love 80’s music, and 80’s movies and like it or not 80’s fashion is coming back full force. Being a fan of the 80’s it’s only natural that the analogy I will use for how we at times treat the gospel was born out of a movie from the 1980’s.

One of the problems that are very real and very dangerous in the church today is the fact that we have simplified, truncated and have made the gospel powerless in our churches and in our homes. Honey we have shrunk the gospel.

What is the gospel? Terms matter and many people refer to the gospel, but I’m not sure that we are always talking about the same thing. The gospel is the good news. It’s the good news that we have been longing to hear since God created a perfect world that we messed up when we introduced sin to this perfect world. Because we have sinned and have broken God’s perfect world, He had to send His sinless son to live the life we could not live die a death we should have died. Jesus came back to life, ascended into heaven, and will come back to us to make right all the things that are wrong about our world. That is the good news in a nutshell. We don’t have to be good enough because Jesus is, was and continues to be our spotless sacrifice.

So how have we shrunk the gospel?

8 Profitable Ways to Read the Bible

By J.C. Ryle

One of the most insightful and practical preacher theologians I have ever read is J.C. Ryle his insights are deep his love for Christ is palpable. My only regreat in reading all the things he has written is that I didn’t find him when I was younger. Of all past theologians, I am most confident that J.C. Ryle would have had a blog his passion for truth and his ability to speak the truth plainly would have demanded it. I pray that you are encouraged by his practical insights and deep love for Christ as I have been over the years.

1. Begin reading your Bible this very day. The way to do a thing is to do it; and the way to read the Bible is actually to read it! It is not merely meaning, or wishing, or resolving, or intending, or thinking about it , which will advance you one step. You must positively read. There is no royal road in this matter, any more than in the matter of prayer. If you cannot read yourself, you must persuade somebody else to read it to you. But one way or another, through eyes or ears, the words of Scripture must actually pass before your mind.
2. Read the Bible with an earnest desire to understand it. Do not think for a moment, that the great object is to turn over a certain quantity of printed paper, and that it matters nothing whether you understand it or not. Some ignorant people seem to imagine, that all is done if they advance so many chapters every day, though they may not have a notion what they are all about, and only know that they have pushed on their bookmark ahead so many pages. This is turning Bible reading into a mere ritual form. Settle it down in your mind as a general principle, that a Bible not understood is a Bible that does no good! Say to yourself often as you read, “What is this all about?” Dig for the meaning like a man digging for gold.
3. Read the Bible with child-like faith and humility.
Open your heart as you open God’s book, and say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!” Resolve to believe implicitly whatever you find there, however much it may run counter to your own desires and prejudices. Resolve to receive heartily every statement of truth, whether you like it or not. Beware of that miserable habit into which some readers of the Bible fall, they receive some doctrines because they like them; and they reject others because they are condemning to themselves, or to some relation, or friend. At this rate, the Bible is useless! Are we to be judges of what ought to be in God’s Word? Do we know better than God? Settle it down in your mind that you will receive all and believe all, and that what you cannot understand, you will take on trust. Remember, when you pray that you are speaking to God, and God hears you. But, remember, when you read Scripture that God is speaking to you, and you are not to “dictate,” but to listen!
4. Read the Bible in a spirit of obedience and self-application.
Sit down to the study of it with a daily determination that you will live by its rules, rest on its statements, and act on its commands. Consider, as you travel through every chapter, “How does this affect my thinking and daily conduct? What does this teach me?” It is poor work to read the Bible from mere curiosity, and for speculative purposes in order to fill your head and store your mind with mere opinions; while you do not allow the book to influence your heart and life. That Bible is read best which is practiced most!

How To Hear God’s Voice

Listening to Others

One of the things that many adults struggle with and most kids I’ve encountered, struggle with is the ability to hear God’s voice. Hearing God’s voice is not as easy as some simplistically explain and it’s not impossible as many believe.

Hearing God’s voice is made possible by a few basic practices;

  1. Listening to God starts with learning to listen to those you can see.
  2. Knowing God’s voice comes from knowing his word.
  3. Hearing God’s voice requires discernment.

Learning to listen is not a skill that is taught anywhere. It is a gift a few are born with, a skill most can learn, and is indispensable in our ability to hear God and love our fellow believers. The world we live in is crowded, loud, and chaotic. We are surrounded by digital noise that demands little focus from us. To truly listen to others is a difficult thing to do but is a practice we must grow in. To grow in our ability to listen we must understand the importance of it and must actively practice the discipline of it.

Why Listening matters so much.

  1. It is our primary duty as a Christian, loving our brother by listening to him. We have this insatiable urge to say the right thing when often times what people need most is someone who will truly listen to them.

    “The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God’s Word but also lends us God’s ear.”  – Bonhoeffer

  2. We must train ourselves to listen to our fellow believers or we will only know how to speak at people rather than listen to or converse with others. If we train ourselves to ignore our fellow man which we can see how will we ever listen to a God we can’t see.

    “Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God.” – Bonhoeffer

Listening is something I think most people struggle with. It is something I have to consciously work on. In pastoral ministry, listening is something that you must learn. As a parent, if your kids want to hear God’s voice they need to learn how to listen to yours.

How do we grow in our ability to listen and teach our kids how to listen to others well.

  1. Listen with your face – don’t “Multitask” and believe you are doing your duty. You are not. In fact, you are not listening and you are also not focusing. Multitasking is a myth.
  2. Listen long and patiently – “Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.” Bonhoeffer
  3. Fully listen, don’t think about a response while listening.
  4. Wait till the other person has finished before you begin to speak.
  5. Listening understands that our duty to our fellow believers is to hear their confession.

Few people have spoken out on our need to listen to others as clearly as Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his powerful book on the Christian fellowship. He offers this dire warning to those who won’t listen “The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end, there is nothing left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it.”

May we be as James says in his epistle  “Quick to listen and slow to speak.”

Resource Links from my Kidmin 2017 Precon

Hey just wanted to thank all of you who came out to my precon really enjoyed sharing with you and hearing from many of you. Here are the links to my prezi’s and some of the resources I referenced in our time together today.


What Is Family Ministry

What The Gospel Demonstrates to Leaders

What The Gospel Demands of Parents

Family Minstry 101: Basics of Family Ministry

Family Ministry 201: Advanced intergration

First Step Next Step Cards

Here is a blog Post that discribes our first step next steps cards. – 

Here is where you can find all the expanded “Next Step” PDF’s. If you want me to send you the templates for the cards shoot me an email – [email protected]

Books every kids pastor should read their first year in kids ministry.

Books You Should Read Your First Year in Kidmin

Here are are the examples of one of the Reformer of the Month Papers we give our leders and one we give our kids.
Zwingli Leader Page
Zwingli Take Home

Here are a couple of family ministry posts you may also enjoy.

A Family Ministry Manifesto.

Rabbit Starvation and Missional Youth Ministry

The next revolution in family ministry