ideas shaping the future of the church From the makers of Relevant | Fall 2010
WHEN LEADERS FALL
Ted Haggard and other leaders look at the Church’s responsibility when moral failings happen p. 44
Doubt can be a good thing— even for leaders p. 56
the next christians p. 58
IS JOHN MARK McMILLAN CHANGING HOW WE WORSHIP? p. 32
Fusion is Where It’s At.
There are leaders who want the intimacy of small house churches. Then there are leaders who want the impact of large megachurches. What if there was a way to fuse both approaches into one?
Hybrid Church is a practical guide for leaders who want both intimacy and impact. Dave Browning says Church isn’t about numbers—it’s about people—so we need a new model. One that draws from the best of both worlds.
TONIGHT 2,000 CHILDREN WILL DIE FROM MOSQUITO BITES
AND IT’S ENTIRELY PREVENTABLE
WE CAN END MALARIA DEATHS BY 2015. HERE’S HOW: IGNITE A MOVEMENT THROUGH CREATIVE ACTIVISM ACT:S to END MALARIA is a campaign to mobilize our churches, campuses and communities to use our voices and actions to end malaria deaths by 2015. Creative activism moves people from awareness to action. Experiential activities and events bring issues to life and change hearts and minds. Whether it’s simple or extravagant, start taking action to raise awareness around malaria today. We will equip you with the following tools to create your own campaign to end malaria: • A compelling DVD explaining the deadly disease, why we need to act and what will happen if we don’t.The video was created by RELEVANT and is perfect to show to a group of friends, church/campus group or large gathering • An “ACT:S to END MALARIA” booklet to help you develop your own creative activism campaign for taking over your community, hosting meaningful events and mobilizing life-saving actions • Tools for creating your own grassroots shirts, art, posters and more for raising awareness and promoting action • Action resources to educate, raise funds and mobilize advocacy around ending malaria
Visit www.actstoendmalaria.org to order your free kit.
PROVIDE LIFE-SAVING BED NETS For just $6, you can donate an insecticide-treated bed net that can save two lives and help kill malaria-carrying mosquitoes. When 80 percent of a community is covered by these nets, malaria deaths are dramatically reduced. If maintained, malaria could be eliminated. Visit www.actstoendmalaria.org to make a donation.
PRESSURE OUR GOVERNMENT
To combat malaria effectively, the United States must increase its funding to at least $1 billion a year. They passed a law promising to do so, but haven’t yet followed through. • Call or email your senators, representative and the president, and tell them to keep our promises to end malaria. • Your voice is powerful. Just 10 phone calls can persuade your representative to fund life-saving interventions.
For more information on how to contact your elected leaders, visit www.actstoendmalaria.org.
MILLIONS OF LIVES ARE DEPENDING ON US. PLEASE TAKE ACTION TODAY. TOGETHER, WE CAN END MALARIA DEATHS BY 2015.
“Cracking Your Church’s Code is a must-read for every church leader! If you want your ministry to move forward, buy this book for everyone on your leadership team!”
Senior Pastor LifeChurch.tv
Often the best strategic plans and good leadership are not able to move churches in the desired direction. Sam Chand contends that toxic culture is to blame. Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code will allow you to identify the strengths and needs of your church’s culture, and apply practical strategies to make your church’s culture more positive.
Q&A with worship artist John Mark McMillan, pg 32
30 Jaeson Ma | by Ryan Hamm
18 Neue Info
22 Neue Church
40 From Top to Bottom | by Mark Batterson
24 Neue Thought
Ted Haggard and three restoration experts weigh in on why leaders fail the Church—
and how the Church fails leaders
28 Neue Conversation
52 City on a Hill | by Jeff Cook
Rice Bowls Mocha Club
44 What Is True Restoration? | by Josh Loveless & Roxanne Wieman
A Church Divided by Dave Ramsey Evangelism Reclaimed by Joan Ball
38 The Gender Divide | by Nancy Ortberg
Roland Joffé, director of The Mission, talks about his new film, There Be Dragons, and why art has to ask the deeper questions
62 Neue Recommends
50 The Tested Faith of Matt Chandler | by David Roark 56 Why So Serious, Philip Yancey? | by Roxanne Wieman 58 The Next Christians | by Gabe Lyons
64 Last Word
What Does a City See? by Josh Loveless
ACT. THINK. DISCUSS. In the following pages, we invite you to interact with the content we’ve assembled by acting, thinking and discussing. The prompts we offer at the bottom of each page are meant for both you and your team as you wrestle with the ideas shaping the future of the Church.
Ideas shaping the future of the church From the makers of Relevant | Fall 2010 | Issue 04
Editor & PUBLISHER
Cameron Strang > firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial Director | Roxanne Wieman > email@example.com Senior Editor | Josh Loveless > firstname.lastname@example.org Associate Editor | Ashley Emert > email@example.com Associate Editor | Ryan Hamm > firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Assistant | Alyce Gilligan > email@example.com Contributing Writers: Joan Ball, Mark Batterson, Jeff Cook, Gabe Lyons, Nancy Ortberg, Dave Ramsey, David Roark, Steve Saccone Print Design Manager | Amy Duty > firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Marketing Designer | Jesse Penico > email@example.com Junior Designer | Justin Mezzell > firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Photographers: Rachel Hansen, Joshua MacLeod, John Park, Drew Rodgers, Luca Venter, Gage Young Audio/Video Producer | Chad Michael Snavely > email@example.com Systems Administrator | Josh Strohm > firstname.lastname@example.org Programmer | Casey Morford > email@example.com Web Production Assistant | David Barratt > firstname.lastname@example.org Chief Operations Officer | Josh Babyar > email@example.com Director of Channel Development | Philip Self > firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Strategic Development | Josh Loveless > email@example.com Account Manager | Michael Romero > firstname.lastname@example.org Marketing Coordinator | Sarahbeth Wesley > email@example.com Marketing Assistant | Richard Butcher > firstname.lastname@example.org Finance & Ad Traffic Manager | Maya Strang > email@example.com Executive Assistant & Ad Coordinator | Theresa Dobritch > theresa@relevantmediagroup. com Fulfillment Manager | Rachel Gittens > firstname.lastname@example.org
TO SUBSCRIBE Annual subscriptions to Neue are currently available in combination with RELEVANT magazine. Rates: 1 year (4 issues of Neue, 6 issues of RELEVANT) U.S. $25, Canada $42, International $52 Order: Online at NeueMagazine.com/ subscribe or call toll-free (877) 538-4417 U.S. and Canada
bulk discounts Call 877-538-4417 for special bulk subscription discounts for your organization
Subscriber Services NeueMagazine.com/subservices Phone: (Toll-free) 877-538-4417 U.S. and Canada, 651-251-9689 International
Media Group 1220 Alden Road, Orlando, FL 32803 Phone: (407) 660-1411 Fax: (407) 401-9100 www.RELEVANTmediagroup.com
ADVERTISING For advertising inquiries, please contact: Michael Romero (407) 660-1411 x125 email@example.com
Distribution If you are a retailer or church and would like to carry Neue, or would like Neue at your next leadership event, please contact: Sarahbeth Wesley firstname.lastname@example.org (407) 660-1411 x102
Reprints & permissions Love an article so much you want to pretend you wrote it, put your name on it and print up copies? You canâ€™t. For what you can do, visit NeueMagazine.com.
Dear Ms. Rice Here’s what some leaders of the faith community wrote to Anne Rice regarding her decision to leave Christianity: Donald Miller
Author of A Million Miles in a Thousand Years I am only thankful that Anne has had a wonderful encounter with Christ, and that she wisely differentiates between Christ Himself and the rather confusing religion that has been organized since He walked the earth.
Karen Spears Zacharias
Author of Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? The thing about opting out of the clan of Christians, Ms. Rice, is that when we do that, we run the risk of missing the blessing God created us for.
Author of A New Kind of Christianity If Christianity means “following Christ’s followers,” what do you call someone who wants to skip the middlemen? Some might say you call such a person a Protestant.
Author Anne Rice recently renounced Christianity in a Facebook post.
Why Does Finding Faith Mean Leaving Christianity? A growing number of people claim they love Jesus but not the Church It was 12 years ago when author Anne Rice famously converted from atheism to Christianity. The Interview with a Vampire writer made a vow to God that she would only “write for Him or about Him.” But this summer, Rice posted a Facebook status that would prompt countless ministers, authors and fans to post pleading open letters. “Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out,” Rice wrote. “It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group.” While her renouncement sparked a media frenzy, studies indicate that American Christianity has, in many ways, been quietly crumbling from the inside for years. From 1980 to 2005, the U.S. population grew by 27 percent. In contrast, the amount of people baptized into the Southern Baptist church dropped 52 percent. The Southern Baptists, who claim six times the members of any other
white evangelical church, set out to baptize 1 million in 2006, but came in two-thirds short of their goal. The trend continued between 2000 and 2005 as church attendance plummeted in all 50 states. But perhaps more damaging than decreasing numbers is a diminishing reputation. According to Christine Wicker’s The Fall of the Evangelical Nation, when non-believers were asked to rank their level of respect for various groups, only prostitutes scored lower than evangelicals. Yet while 1,200 evangelicals leave the faith each day, Barna reports that 67 percent of adults still claim an active personal relationship with Christ. Such a response gives hope that Christianity will not be abandoned on account of the past shortcomings of its members but revived on account of the grace of its Savior. In Rice’s words, “I remain committed to Christ as always.”
DISCUSS: We’ve all known people who have left their church. How do you think we should respond to people who consciously walk away?
STRING THE ORY. DARK MATTER.
HUMAN G E N O M E. I 190
IDEAS THAT SHOULDN’T BE REMOVED FROM THE FAITH CONVERSATION.
THE V I B R ANT DANCE C O N FERENCE
PROMOTING A DIALOGUE BETWEEN FAITH AND SCIENCE
REGISTER AT VIBRANTDANCE.ORG
OCTOBER 26-28, 2010 AUSTIN, TX
A N ø
SPEAKERS: ANDY CROUCH, DARREL FALK, DEBORAH HAARSMA, HUGH ROSS, ROSS HASTINGS, STEPHEN MEYER, JACK COLLINS, WALTER BRADLEY, ROB NORRIS, FUZ RANA twitter.com/VibrantDance facebook.com/VibrantDance.faithandscience
THE VIBRANT DANCE OF FAITH AND SCIENCE
Sleep in, Catch Up
A new study says it’s OK to press snooze on Saturday
Katy Perry Defends Her Roots
The pastor’s kid-turned-pop star on faith and sexuality Perhaps just as surprising as Katy Perry’s provocative lyrics is her close relationship with her conservative minister parents. The controversial singer has “Jesus” tattooed on her left wrist and once couldn’t refer to luck, only “blessings.” And let’s just say she and her parents don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to songs like “I Kissed a Girl.” Yet
while Perry prefers to sing about topics most ministers typically caution against, a recent Rolling Stone interview suggests a continued respect for her evangelical upbringing. “Speaking in tongues is as normal to me as, ‘Pass the salt.’ It’s a secret, direct prayer language to God,” Perry said. She also disapproves of Lady Gaga’s fusion of sexual
and spiritual imagery, saying, “I think when you put sex and spirituality in the same bottle and shake it up, bad things happen.” When Perry saw Gaga’s video for “Alejandro,” in which Gaga puts rosary beads in her mouth, she tweeted, “Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke.” Classy as always.
Remember when you would sleep as little as possible during the week, believing two (or five) extra hours of snoozing on Saturday would cancel it out? Then some know-it-all informed you lost sleep can never be regained? Well, a new study from the journal Sleep gives you permission to get a late start this weekend. Experiments with adults around 30 years old showed that a couple days with extra sleep after a particularly restless five-day work week can give you a real boost. Now if only somebody would research the Sunday nap ...
“The bottom line is that adequate recovery is important for coping with the effects of chronic sleep restriction on the brain.” — Dr. David Dinges, University of Pennsylvania
Indiana Jones No Longer Necessary | Computers decode lost biblical language Ugaritic is an ancient written language last used in Syria in 1200 B.C. In 1932, experts finally decoded it, which advanced the study of Israelite culture and biblical texts. However, the complex dots and wedges remained difficult to translate—until now. A new computer program developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology automatically translates Ugaritic into the
similar language of Hebrew. Not only has this program revived a “lost language,” but it lends credibility to using computers in the analysis of dead scripts, something often disregarded by language scholars who argue machines lack the necessary intuition. The program will also lend credibility to that tattoo of your favorite Scripture verse in its Ugaritic translation.
THINK: What do you think about mixing faith and sexuality? Does God have a place in conversations about sex?
DISCUSS: How late do you sleep on Saturdays? What’s the latest you’ve ever slept? The “winner” should be both proud and ashamed.
It’s For Charity | Top 10 Corporate Donors of 2009 Money is tight, even for major corporations. But according to The Chronicle’s survey of the nation’s largest companies, businesses are still championing for charity. Cash and product donations to nonprofits saw a 5 percent increase in the last year, and should stay on track for 2010. Here are the current greatest corporate donors. $300 MILLION
“HOUSE CHURCH” Still a Fluid Term How many people attend a house church? According to Barna Group, the better question may be, what is a “house church”? Barna found the record of attendees fluctuates because the definition remains inconsistent. For a given month, 3-6% said they meet with believers independently and regularly in a home or place other than a church building or congregational-
form church. When this independent meeting is called a “religious service,” the number of participants jumped to 22-24%. The most general phrasing received the greatest response, with 33% saying they experienced God or expressed faith in a house or simple church. Still, only 10% attended a home worship service specifically known as a “house church.”
Spirit Quits Talking | No, not that spirit. But it’s still inconvenient. We were outraged when they started charging for checked baggage. Now, Spirit Airlines is planning to make passengers pay to interact with agents. It’s already become common to charge for purchasing flights from an agent over the phone in order to encourage online booking. Spirit is simply taking impersonal service one step farther.
ACT: Next time you want to send someone an email or social networking note, take an extra moment to call or visit them. Demonstrate the power of personal communication.
Johnson & Johnson
Bank of America
Christians have quite a history of protesting, from burning books to rallying at movie theaters. But one minister saw fit to protest a local high school’s mascot—the Demons—and got arrested for it. Pastor Donald Crosby first petitioned that Warner Robins High School change their moniker before taking his protests to the campus on the first day of classes. Police officers arrested the minister for not having a cityrequired picketing permit. Does he have any regrets? Not especially. “Lock me up as many times as you have to lock me up. Even kill me if you have to. I’m standing up for Jesus,” Crosby declared. No word yet about protests for the countless schools still winning football games as the Crusaders ...
b Demons 1, Pastor 0
Wells Fargo & Co.
“When talking to a human being becomes an option rather than a necessity, then we’re willing to charge for it,” Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza says. It’s clear human connection still holds value to people—which is something all of us should keep in mind when it’s easier to keep “relationships” going via technology.
DISCUSS: Have you ever attended a house church? What was your experience like?
”Let us press on to know the LORD...who will come to us like... the spring rains that give drink to the earth.”—Hosea 6:3
A f re s h t ra n s la t i o n to touch the heart and mind
Relevant. Readable. Reliable. The Common English Bible offers a fresh look at the Bible, making it readable and understandable without compromising accuracy. More than 100 biblical scholars (men and women) from 22 faith traditions are translating the Common English Bible, and 77 reading groups are ensuring a natural, enjoyable reading and listening experience.
Discover for yourself Visit w w w . C o m m o n E n g l i s h B i b l e . c o m for features, updates, and free downloads.
Available at bookstores and online everywhere! NUM116950001 PACP00859329-01
I want my 4shbab
Unhealthy Habits Lead to Clergy Burnout From obesity to depression, “clergy burnout” has become a major concern. A Duke University report found that in the Evangelical Lutheran church alone, 69 percent of ministers are obese, 64 percent have high blood pressure and 13 percent take antidepressants. Of all Christian clergy, 76 percent were overweight—15 percent higher than the general U.S population. With ministers working up to 60 hours a week, experts say they must make room for sabbaticals, Sabbath days and healthy habits. “I really don’t think people think about their pastors,” says Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative. “They don’t want them to be as human as they themselves are.”
from t h e Neue Podcast The Neue Podcast is a weekly conversation with ministers and thinkers shaping the future of the Church.
Nancy Ortberg “It’s always important for the group of the oppressed to have a voice. ... [But] the strength of the change is going to come from those of us who aren’t oppressed and who have a voice.”
A new channel is looking to become the MTV of the Middle East. Created by Egyptian entrepreneur Ahmed Abu Haiba, 4Shbab (Arabic meaning “for youth”) airs music videos and reality shows, including Your Voice Is Heard—their version of American Idol. Rather than music videos with champagneswilling singers and scantily clad women, though, they feature moralistic tales—like one where a young man gets drunk at a club, then has a hangover the next day while lyrics urge listeners to “go back to him” (“him” being Allah). Abu Haiba hopes to give younger generations a less boring alternative to the extreme, conservative side of Islam they usually see. “If 4Shbab can show that there is no clash between faith and being modern, it will be bigger than anything on television,” says Amr Khaled, an Egyptian Muslim televangelist. Abu Haiba hopes to eventually establish an HBO-style channel.
“Islam is like a big bus. You can be standing at the door, or you can be at the steering wheel. My plan is to be at the steering wheel.” — Ahmed Abu Haiba, creator of 4Shbab, the world’s first Islamic version of MTV
Len Sweet & Frank Viola
Pete Wilson “The problem for so many of us, if we’re really honest with ourselves, is we want our dreams more than we want God. We want our life to turn out the way we want it to turn out more than we’re willing to really trust Him with our lives. We trust Him with our eternity, but we don’t trust Him with our lives here on this earth.”
Audrey Assad “Worship is literally interwoven into every task throughout the day, and that includes performing. So even if I’m performing a song that isn’t a ‘worship’ song, I call that worship too. I’m just doing what I’m gifted to do and being myself in the process and doing it for love of God.”
Subscribe at iTunes. Search keyword “Neue.”
ACT: If you find yourself getting a little rotund around the waist, try P90X: http://www.90dayworkoutplan.com.
“Unarguably, Jesus is the most captivating person in all of human history. … But the Church can’t even capture the human side of it, the way in which the culture and the world has been enthralled and entranced by this figure. It’s a major mystery to me what we have done to domesticate and to tame and almost to dismiss this Person that was more than a person.”
Scott Sabin “That vignette of faith amidst that devastation was just so poignant. The whole country [of Haiti] dedicated three days to prayer and fasting about a month after the quake. That’s the one thing, over and over again, I keep hearing. The faith goes on.”
“God Speaks to Me” | One in six people say God speaks to them in the following ways
Americans Feel “Connected” to Jesus In the digital age, there are always concerns about fostering authentic connections. But recent research from Barna shows more people feel “connected” to Jesus than have social networking accounts. In fact, 67 percent of adults have what they call an active personal relationship with Christ. The majority included women, conservatives, Protestants or senior citizens, though there were high numbers from a variety of backgrounds. Furthermore, most regard this relationship as a fairly intimate give-and-take. Thirty-eight percent say Jesus speaks to them directly in some way, and 59 percent believe He shares their pain and suffering. People don’t feel they are petitioning to a distant deity but are instead having conversations with a personal Savior. How is He responding? At least one out of every six adults says Jesus communicates with them in one or more of the ways detailed in the chart to the right.
Fifty-nine percent of Americans believe Jesus is personal enough to feel their pain and share in their sufferings.
by influencing or connecting directly with their mind, emotions or feelings
through the content of a Bible passage they read or which was read to them
by providing a sign
through sermon or teaching content concerning their immediate situation or need
31% through miraculous or inexplicable circumstances or outcomes
through words spoken to them by someone else who was speaking for God
through a passage they read in a book other than the Bible
through an audible voice or whisper they could hear
DISCUSS: How do you feel God communicates with you and your leadership team? Are there ways you could better allow others’ gifts of discernment and understanding to be used in your church?
KEEP GETTING NEUE
FOR ONE YEAR
OR ADD A YEAR OF RELEVANT FOR ONLY $8* MORE!
THAT’S LIKE GETTING 6 FREE ISSUES!
IDEAS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
Order online at NEUEMAGAZINE.COM/SUBSCRIBE *Rate valid in the U.S. only.
[How To…] … Plant an Urban Garden 01
Find the Perfect Plot
Fruits (and Veggies) of Your Labor
While working on an urban garden, you can create community with those outside your church—and feed them in the process. If you live in an area that offers a rooftop or community garden, scout out the perfect plot and determine what to grow accordingly. Many cities even allow you to adopt a tree or grassy area in need of some TLC.
Choose fruits and vegetables that grow well in confined spaces, like radishes, squash and carrots. Basil, thyme and some other herbs can be mixed in to stimulate growth or repel insects.
Use Waste, Don’t Waste
Growing in a window or on a rooftop has its challenges, but it means you get to choose your own soil. Compost soil is recommended, as it’s full of nutrients and recycles waste and kitchen scraps.
... throw a party people actually want to come to
We’ve all been to church parties. Usually they consist of gathering in a gym or the “all-purpose room,” with folding tables and Jell-O concoctions or “ethnic” food provided by a missionary. In almost every case, they infringe on a Saturday night. This year, throw a “church party” people want to come to. How? First, don’t have it at your church. Even the people who go to your church would probably have more fun if they didn’t have to go to the parish hall. Instead, have it at someone’s house, a park or a local restaurant. Serve good food and drinks. The unwritten rule is to have a potluck—so the good stuff goes first and those at the end of the line are left with Tuna Surprise. Grill up a bunch of meat and veggie shish kebabs and have people bring sides or desserts. Keep it laid-back. A party isn’t the time for fundraising (unless it’s a benefit party). Parties often take on a character of their own—don’t force anything. Have fun. Everyone wants to see the host have a good time, so get out from behind the grill and hang out. You’ll be surprised how much fun you have—and how many people ask when the next church party is.
... Find Your Own Health Insurance Yes, you really do need it.
Avoid the risk.
Do your research.
Diversify, if needed.
In a bad economy, health insurance is often the first thing to go. If your church isn’t providing health insurance and you’re on your own, here are a few tips for finding a plan that fits you and your family. So don’t even think about going without.
Everyone is used to copays, but they’re pricey. Go with a catastrophic policy that has a large deductible. You can stomach $5,000 if an emergency happens—it’s better than $500,000. Just make sure the policy covers ER visits and doctors in your area.
Look for state-subsidized programs (like Blue Cross Blue Shield), or use finders like Netquote to see what’s available in your area. You should be able to find an individual catastrophic policy for around $30 a month or $200 for a family. Worth it.
None of this applies for preexisting conditions. Most individual policies won’t cover those. But not everyone in your family needs the same insurance. If someone has a preexisting condition or is high-risk, get that person a different policy.
ACT: Make sure everyone on your staff has health insurance. If they don’t, hand this to them and follow up a week later to make sure they’re covered.
THINK: To throw a party no one wants to come to, simply announce, “Now is when we release the bears.” And then do so.
... Preach Through Advent Advent is a unique season. It’s a perfect time to study the theme of waiting on the Lord and the fulfillment of God’s promised Kingdom. Make sure you have an Advent wreath and candles to observe this season in the Church calendar.
… Influence People without Forcing an Agenda | by Steve Saccone When it comes to the impact we long to have, we must be intelligent in how we approach relationships. To build true relational influence, we have to be invited into someone’s relational space versus what we sometimes do, which is invade someone’s relational space. “Relational space” is the dynamic inside people where they open themselves to someone else’s advice, or resist it. For instance, if someone refuses to allow someone into his relational space, he is resisting advice. Leaders often don’t know how to handle this dynamic. If we invade someone’s space, we break trust and diminish our capacity to influence. Think about it this way: Imagine hiring a personal trainer. You give him permission to offer his advice and push you to exercise with greater effort. You are inviting him into your “space.” Now imagine seeing a friend at the mall. After saying hello, he verbally assesses your physical health, explains how much exercise you need and then commands you to do 50 pushups.
This may sound bizarre, but enter the world of relationships and people often ignore this same principle. Even if our motives are sincere in wanting to make a positive impact, when we force our way into a person’s relational space, they sense relational invasion and will usually resist. As leaders, we will become more relationally intelligent if we wait to be invited—it will build our credibility and expand our influence capacity. A primary way to identify when someone is inviting us in comes down to discerning non-verbal cues. To be relationally intelligent, we must pay attention to these cues. Over time, this will help us build relational capital and expand our influence. There are moments when we need to push through resistance and challenge people to grow, but, in many circles, we rarely acknowledge this dynamic and overlook the cues. Jesus doesn’t force Himself on people, and neither should we. But His posture is always bent toward serving others, and He’s a model we can emulate in our conversations.
Nov. 28 | HOPE SUNDAY (light the first candle) Preach from Isaiah 11:1-10. Teach on how Advent is all about the hope of God—both the hope we are already given and the completion of that hope we are promised. Dec. 5 | PEACE SUNDAY (light the second candle) Preach on Matthew 3:1-6. Remind people that just as John the Baptist “prepared the way” for Jesus, so we are called to prepare the way for His Second Coming. Dec. 12 | JOY SUNDAY (light the third candle) Preach on John 1:19-34, reflecting on the joyous anticipation we have that the Lamb of God will redeem our brokenness. Dec. 19 | LOVE SUNDAY (light the fourth candle) Preach from Revelation 21:1-4. Talk about how God’s love will be fulfilled when He “makes all things new.” Discuss how we can be mindful of our period of waiting even beyond Advent. Dec. 24 | CHRISTMAS EVE (light the center candle) Preach from Luke 2:1-20. Talk about how Christ is the Light of the World, and how His coming ushered in a new life.
… undo a gmail message you regret sending Have you ever sent an email you immediately regretted? Maybe it was an email you’d written to a co-worker about your boss … but you accidentally sent it to your boss. Or you realized you forgot to check the name in that template email. Well, now Gmail’s got your back. The email provider lets you hold the message for 30 seconds before sending it in case you change your mind—or need to double-check the recipients list. You can
set it up by going to Google.com and clicking the word “more” in the top left corner, then click “even more.” Then click on the word “Labs.” Once you’ve done that, click “Gmail Labs” on the right. Scroll down until you see “Undo Send” and click on “enable”—make sure to hit the “Save Changes” box. Now enjoy a new level of peace of mind—and realize the make-orbreak-it quality 30 seconds can have.
ACT: The next time you have lunch or coffee with someone, make mental notes about their non-verbal cues. Write them down afterward, and evaluate how well you did in agenda-less communication.
DISCUSS: Does your church preach through Advent? Why or why not? What are the benefits of observing the Advent season instead of just Christmas?
[How To…] ... Get Familiar With Henri Nouwen He’s an author you know you should read. You’ve heard this or that quote and thought, I need to read more of his stuff—but then you don’t know where to start. So allow us to recommend a few of his best: The Return of the Prodigal Son Part memoir, part art history and all theology of hope and peace, Nouwen’s reflections on a painting of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son are at once personal and profound. The Wounded Healer How can we lead when we feel just as wounded (or more) than the people we’re ministering to? Here, Nouwen writes about how our brokenness mirrors that of Christ and makes us the best ministers of the Gospel we can be. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership This short book is startling in its breadth. Nouwen looks at the current state of how Christian leaders minister and have relationships with people they are caring for—and finds much that needs to be changed. Compassion (written with Donald P. McNeill and Douglas A. Morrison) This book reflects what true, Christian (and God-given) compassion looks like. Nouwen gracefully relates compassion to social justice and action, and emphasizes that prayer is about empathy and grace. A must-read. Life of the Beloved Written in response to a question from a secular journalist who asked Nouwen to explain faith, this book will feed your soul with its exhortations to daily encounter and echo Christ’s love. A powerful reminder of God’s love for us.
... PREACH ABOUT POLITICS WITHOUT PREACHING ABOUT POLITICS Don’t endorse a specific candidate. While many churches name candidates their people should vote for, the IRS prohibits tax-exempt organizations from engaging in partisan politics. There are moments when your faith may take you to the edge of what is legal, but this isn’t that moment. Preach about what matters in the Kingdom. People are in need of a strong Kingdom filter they can use to make decisions about politics. The Scriptures and the Holy Spirit will obviously lead all of us, but our role is to help explain to our church
communities the values of the Kingdom that need stronger reflections in our society. Preach with bravery and emotion. Don’t be afraid to communicate strongly about what matters. Being emotional about political issues isn’t wrong as long as we align ourselves around how God feels rather than push personal agendas. Remember: the Jesus way is upside-down. Jesus was political in what He said and did, but He regularly stirred new thinking and change without leading a march on the front lawn of Caesar’s palace.
“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” —Francis Chan
THINK: Have you ever preached about politics? What did you say? What was the reaction?
A Look at Unique Types of Community
g Mocha Club Resident of Jach, Sudan draws clean water from a well Mocha Club helped build. a Rice Bowls
Change collected in the U.S. can have a huge impact on kids around the world.
Barrett Ward, executive director of Mocha Club, had a “cataclysmic” experience when he saw a little girl emerge from a tin shack in Peru. “I just was so struck by this image I’d never seen before. It was poverty, up-close and personal.” After leaving his career in the for-profit world, Ward spent significant time in Africa and later returned with photographer Jeremy Cowart and
“[We’ve] helped people see the ‘why,’ and as that happens, people often pick up their own ‘how.’”—Barrett Ward
Rice bowls spartanburg, sc In 1980, a pastor from South Carolina went on a trip to Calcutta. Confronted with poverty, famine and disease, he became determined to contribute to orphanages in such communities. His goal was to innovate traditional giving, creating a tangible reminder of need. The result was the Rice Bowl: a plastic, piggy bank-like container that resembles a full bowl of rice, the standard meal for much of the world. Thirty years later, Rice Bowls continues to feed and provide for orphans around the world. Last year, about 1,000 organizations participated in Rice Bowl collections. The banks, which hold $20-30, are provided at no cost to the churches, schools, businesses and college students involved.
Dodd Caldwell, Rice Bowls’ acting volunteer president, says their method particularly appeals to younger age groups. “Giving and service are really abstract concepts,” he says. “They can take this tangible, visible thing they have in their hands and really learn about giving.” Donations are distributed among 25 different Christian orphanages, located in places like Haiti, India and South Africa. “Every child has four basic necessities: affection, provision, protection and instruction. … We think that means teaching about Jesus, but also how they’re going to grow up to be global citizens, to impact their communities and be leaders. “We want these kids to be lights in their communities now, but also when they grow
up. That’s the only way these communities are going to change,” Caldwell says. Rice Bowls works alongside the orphanages, allowing them to free up their funds and better provide for the children. “What we really like to do is find more well-run grassroots orphanages, ones that can be accountable but maybe don’t have a lot of access to outside funding. We want to make sure the money is being used correctly,” Caldwell explains. Rice Bowls views the “orphan crisis” as a chance for positive change. “It’s a terrible tragedy that they’ve lost their parents. But if we can get them into a loving, faith-based home, we have the opportunity to break generational cycles that otherwise would not have been broken.”
ACT: For one month, add an additional tithing time during your services by passing around one of these banks.
musicians Dave Barnes and Matt Wertz. They realized the $7 it took to buy two mochas in the U.S. could mean provisions such as clean water or AIDS medication in under-developed areas. “When we describe the problems or the challenges many Africans face, it is placed on such a global level that people don’t feel like they can have an effect,” Ward says. “Translating that message to a one-on-one basis between a Westerner and an African is where we’ve had the most impact.” Mocha Club has an online community where members can create profiles and teams to donate to and advocate for one of five projects: clean water, education, orphan/vulnerable children care, HIV/AIDS and health care, or child/mothers/ women at risk. Musicians and artists—such as Gungor, Lady Antebellum and Sanctus Real, among others— serve as sponsors for the various causes. Donations to Mocha Club go to development projects in 20 different communities located in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Each project is completely staffed by locals, and is often tested for efficiency. Over the summer, teams can travel to Africa to observe projects their donations have supported. “One of the things that has happened recently along social justice lines is that [we’ve] helped people see the ‘why,’ and as that happens, people often pick up their own ‘how.’ Once people have seen, they feel an appropriate responsibility to make it part of their daily life to advocate for the poor,” Ward says. “Action has to follow faith.”
DISCUSS: What justice issues occupy your mind both for your community and around the world? How is your church addressing those needs? How can your church do so?
We Can End Hunger
One of David Beckmann’s most important contributions to the discussion of overcoming world hunger is his insistence that it is achievable… Beckmann also presents the biblical basis for people of faith calling the government to its appropriate responsibility. Influencing Congress, he argues, is an act of faith, not a sidetracking of the Gospel… Facts are presented and misconceptions about poverty are corrected. Beckmann’s bipartisan commitment makes this book useful to evangelicals, as well as mainline and Roman Catholic Christians, and people from other traditions and faiths.” – Rev. Dr. Glenn R. Palmberg President Emeritus, Evangelical Covenant Church
David Beckmann will be my chief guide to solving world hunger from now on. His experience, expertise, and problem-solving applications are just what I needed to help me understand and lead my church in battling hunger.” – Dr. Joel C. Hunter Senior Pastor, Northland—A Church Distributed
Order your copies of Exodus from Hunger, by David Beckmann, Bread for the World president and 2010 World Food Prize Laureate, from www.bread.org/go/exodus. Available October 2010.
A Church Divided Dave Ramsey Do you remember the story of the Tower of Babel? Most remember that as a negative story where people were misbehaving and God came down and scattered them, but there is an interesting and positive verse in that story. Genesis 11:6 says, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” That is a statement about unity. The impact you can have when you are people of one mind is amazing. Few organizations—churches included— experience true unity. There are five main enemies of unity: poor communication, gossip, unresolved disagreements, lack of shared purpose, and sanctioned incompetence. Poor communication. Poor communication can take many forms. When the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, conflict sets in. If somebody doesn’t know what someone is doing and why they are doing it, they are misinterpreted and seen as competition. This creates intercompany strife. You get the Youth Department mad at the Children’s Minister because they are both trying to use the same resources. They start competing instead of understanding those things should be connected. Gossip. Gossip is degrading and will destroy an organization. By definition, gossip is when a negative is discussed with anyone who can’t solve the problem. A leader should develop and maintain a culture in which negatives are handed up and positives are handed down. At our organization, I will fire you for gossiping. You are told this during the hiring process. I will warn you once and fire you the second time. It’s a big deal! We can do anything if we are of one mind, but gossip will destroy this. Hand negatives up and positives down. Don’t go complain to your co-worker about your boss. This is a sanctioned and tolerated evil spirit in Christianity today. I have no sympathy for this spirit at all. It’s interesting to me that people would never consider committing adultery, but they gossip
all the time. In Galatians 5:19–22, they are in the same list. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God” (NIV). “Dissension” is another word for gossip. There are people who would never consider coming to work drunk, but they’re gossiping right after they step in the door. Galatians 5:15 says, “But if you bite and devour one another, be careful that you don’t consume one another ” (WEB). How many of us have been in organizations where this is the philosophy of life? This does not create unity—this destroys unity. No gossip is a cultural icon at our organization. If you formed a habit at your last organization of gossiping, it can be hard to break that habit. Our team values unity so much that once you are with our company, you will begin to self-reprimand. If you sit down and start gossiping, someone else will stop you. Unresolved disagreements. This happens when a leader doesn’t know a disagreement exists or avoids confrontation. If you know there is a disagreement and you don’t deal with it, it just brews and forms into full-blown warfare. People are allowed to not like each other, but they are not allowed to question the integrity of a person. That needs to be solved, or there will be some kind of an issue. A little confrontation cleanses the wound
DISCUSS: Is gossip tolerated in your church? How have you (and how can you) work to stop gossip?
and allows the parties to go forward in a spirit of unity. When you are aware there are hurt feelings and/or disagreements, act quickly and decisively. Lack of shared purpose. This is caused by the leader not stating the goal, vision and mission statement early and often. Andy Stanley says you have to tell people 10 times what the vision is before they hear it once. You have to tell the story and the vision so much, people start to make fun of you. It’s a repetition process. Sanctioned incompetence. If there are two people who do the same thing and one of them doesn’t work or is just incompetent while the other is always on time and working hard, the incompetence of the one will demoralize the hard worker. When you sanction this incompetence or behavior by not dealing with it, you demoralize the rest of the team. If you don’t sanction it, everyone on the team will get fired up and take that person with them. A leader must go to battle early and often with any of these five enemies of unity. And when your organization has made it clear unity is a strong value, the team will also act to keep these enemies away from the gate. I need to know everyone in our organization is on the same team. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, and I take it personally when people aren’t united together. Building unity within an organization can definitely be difficult. But if your team sticks together, they will survive and achieve results that will blow you away. The spiritual, emotional and practical power of unity is amazing when put into motion.
is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author. His 13-week program, Financial Peace University, helps people learn new behaviors for stewarding their money effectively and biblically. Visit DaveRamsey.com for more information.
ACT: Come up with a plan to deal with gossip on your staff. Define what gossip is and have a conversation about practical ways you can address it.
Evangelism Reclaimed Joan Ball I talk to lots of people about Jesus. Some go to church and others fell away. Many have never been to church and are honest about why they’d never start. Some are heterosexual, others homosexual. They are atheists, agnostics, believers and “spiritual, but not religious.” They include friends, family and strangers. They come from a variety of Christian and non-Christian faith traditions in the U.S. and beyond. Like it or not, that makes me an evangelist. When I first confronted the possibility that this tired old term might apply to me, I was skeptical. Evangelists are old men like Billy Graham or nutty guys who stand on the corner in mid-town with megaphones, right? How could a woman who grew up in a secular home and spent a lifetime thumbing her nose at Christ and Christians possibly be an evangelist? The thought of becoming a Christian, not to mention “sharing the Good News,” seemed awkward and embarrassing. Yet, in the weeks and months following my unlikely conversion to Christianity in 2003, I kept meeting people whose circumstances dovetailed so perfectly with that of a particular Bible character or my own experience of enjoying (or enduring) the transforming power of Jesus that offering them encouragement or insight through any other lens seemed entirely inadequate. In those uncomfortable but energizing encounters, sharing my faith happened in spite of me rather than because of me. It transcended duty or obligation and morphed into inexplicable moments that surprised and humbled me every time. This sort of raw and unpredictably organic evangelism cannot be taught by formula. Nor can it be accomplished consistently by standing on the corner and hoping for the best. As with every other aspect of living this faith that we claim, it requires less “us” and more “Christ in us.” Less programming and more heart-transforming discipleship. But how can we, as leaders, help people get there? And, if we are honest, how can we learn to get there ourselves? One thing I’ve learned since coming to faith
is that my best thinking rarely compares to God’s best idea. While most leaders or aspiring leaders would agree with this in theory, many life-long Christians, especially those with ministry responsibilities, spend more time pursing a deeper understanding of leadership principles than they do learning to hear God and submitting themselves to following. Confident in the strength of their unique perceived gifts and calling, many leaders agonize over the ins and outs of daily ministry while barely making time to listen. As a result, questions like, What’s next for evangelism in a rapidly secularizing culture? are often answered based upon the latest Christian or secular marketing communications best seller rather than according to the prayerfully discerned guidance of the Holy Spirit. But what if there’s more? What if we really believed the wisdom, knowledge and understanding promised in Proverbs was accessible to us? What if, rather than seeking answers in books, pastors and ministry leaders opened their minds and hearts to the less certain possibilities that emerge when we let go and let God be God? What if we let go of statistics and demographics and instead allow prayer, meditation, fasting and reflection to lead us to God’s answers about what it takes to equip our people to share their faith—even when they take us in unpopular directions? I’d been chewing on the first two chapters of Proverbs for a few weeks before I began writing this piece, and when I reached this line again, it hit me like a ton of bricks: The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Really, God?
DISCUSS: Think of some other “tired old terms.” Do you think they can be redeemed from the baggage they’ve collected?
I lamented. People barely tolerate those two words in the same sentence these days, not to mention in the context of sharing “Good News.” Yet, while contemplating the relationship between evangelism and the fear of God over the next few days, some thoughts about fear began to gel. Whether it’s admitted publicly or not, many pastors and ministry leaders are riddled with it. Fear of empty seats. Fear of losing the Millennial generation. Fear of falling behind in the race to be leaders of influence. Fear of moral failure. Fear of turning people off with old church tactics and fear of not being able to come up with new ones. But broach the subject of the fear of God with the same people and they pull back like they’ve touched a hot stove. “Not the right message for a new generation,” they’ll quickly reply. But what if our perception of the fear of God is wrong? What if we’ve allowed this threshold of wisdom to be co-opted by bad experiences with power-mongers and an unforgiving media? What if the Moorish proverb that says, “He who fears something gives it power over him” is true? Could that be what the author was getting at when he described the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom? Could submitting ourselves fully to God’s power over us rather than relying on our own skills and perceived gifts be the key that unlocks the door to discernment? Might corralling our fear of the details of life and ministry into a single reverential fear of Father, Son and Spirit alleviate the growing anxiety, depression and addiction issues that plague our churches? I’m not sure, but this fledgling evangelist would love to be part of a community of believers willing to submit themselves, their churches and their ministries to God long enough to find out.
is the author of Flirting with Faith and a professor at the Peter J. Tobin College of Business at St. John’s University in New York. You can read her blog at Beliefnet.com. She and her husband, Martin, have three children and live in suburban New York.
ACT: Write down a list of your deepest and most personal fears. Each day for 30 days, pray over them and try to confront them with God’s perfect love.
What if your savings account did more than just earn interest? What if your deposits helped churches and other ministries fulfill their missions? That’s exactly what happens when you save with Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU). We’re not just a financial institution. ECCU is a financial cooperative, which means our deposits are used exclusively to resource evangelical ministries and never for causes contrary to Scripture. So if you’d like your savings account to earn a competitive return while serving people and ministries all over the world (including more than 3,500 missionaries in over 100 countries), give us a call. We’re also known for above-and-beyond customer service, so we’ll walk you through the membership process and help you get started. Put your savings to work serving the kingdom. Call us today at 800.288.4846.
Your savings federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government. National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a U.S. Government Agency.
conversation In a recent interview, you describe yourself as a “wobbly agnostic.” What is your impression of Christianity?
The acclaimed director of The Mission and The Killing Fields is taking on another controversial film with deeply religious content. Joffé talks about his new movie, There Be Dragons, and why art has to ask the deeper questions. by Ryan Hamm
What is it specifically that draws you to a particular script or film?
I find constant themes running through my work. What does it mean to be a human being? What do we want our lives to mean? In that last moment before we die, what would we like to have achieved? What makes us feel everything was worthwhile? Why do we go on? What should we value, and how? With There Be Dragons, I was fascinated by this story of a man who believed you can live a faithful, loving life not in a rigid way, but in a wonderfully open way ... someone who believed we as human beings can offer something better to society, and in offering that to society we were offering it to God. I was much younger when I made The Mission and The Killing Fields. There Be Dragons is a combination; it reflects elements of both those movies, but with the added significance of the heroic need for forgiveness, both given and taken, as a crucial element in the web of actions and emotions that makes up our existence.
We need to appreciate the value we have in our humanness, in our smallness. Maybe a failure of modern humanism is its confident trumpeting of human progress. This presents a one-sided view of humanity. We can’t hope to understand humanity unless we accept its enormous failings, and look both within us and beyond us for meaning. I believe God’s presence poses a giant question. We don’t fully understand what He is; therefore, we only partly understand what we are. Therefore, for me, He is a question. The ultimate question.
Do you think the film industry (in general) treats people of faith fairly?
There is a view, held by some extreme materialists, that religion is somehow old-fashioned and childish. But that just seems to illustrate their rather naïve and superficial sense of what religion actually is. This reductive idea is quite deeply buried in otherwise thoughtful liberal perceptions of what it is to be a human being. There is an attractive but narrow sense of heroism in the thought of being part of the lonely human consciousness sturdily facing a sea of meaninglessness. This sense of the heroic has permeated our culture, leeching away our sense of the full range of human experience. This reflects in rather reductive ways of accessing and expressing human experience, where violence loses its redemptive and spiritual aspects and human beings are reduced to killing machines or sex objects or clowns. This is immensely sad for all of us because we hunger to ask questions about who we really are and why we are and what we are.
Why do you think there is a perceived dichotomy between Christianity and the creation of good art? Well, that’s a postmodern view and it hardly holds up. Christianity has influenced art for
ACT: Go rent The Mission right now. Even if you’ve seen it before. It’s worth a re-watch.
generations. All you have to do is take a walk through the Vatican and you can see the impact the Church has had on artists. Not only did the Church support many of the most famous artists, but faith has also influenced poets, painters, songwriters, even filmmakers. Hollywood seems not to recognize as commercial proposition that something can be entertaining and spiritual at the same time. If Hollywood doesn’t support that idea, then it translates quickly into received wisdom and makes it hard for filmmakers who want to offer something more than sex and carnage or cynicism. Many manage, of course, with great courage and persistence. I hope There Be Dragons is an example of how individuals can come together, to tell a story they love, that will confound Hollywood’s preconceptions.
What can Christians do to create better art?
The way to do this is not to shy away from the power of the Spiritual, and at the same time not shy away from the extreme brutality that lies seemingly at much of the heart of creation. This dichotomy is crucial, ducking it means not addressing what we know about ourselves. And without confronting this truth, it will be difficult for the spiritual in art to feel relevant. So people need to seek to discover new ways: What’s a new way of being Christian? What’s a new way of approaching God? What’s a new way of confronting reality? That’s exactly what art does. Art says, “Let’s do away with figurative painting, maybe a new truth is found in the white space.” Maybe God is found in the white space. In other words, God created the world and, as far as I can see, created an ongoing project. He didn’t say, “And then it was finished.”
There Be Dragons Mount Santa Fe
The Mission Warner Home Video
Set against the Spanish Civil War, a journalist investigates a candidate for canonization, only to find dark secrets in his own family’s past.
The Oscar-winning film tells the story of 18thcentury Spanish Jesuits who try to protect a remote South American Indian tribe from proslavery Portugal.
THINK: How would you answer this question? What are you—personally and as a church community—doing about it?
Jaeson Ma By Ryan Hamm
The church planter and media innovator on the church in China, the role of house churches and what makes a movement
Jaeson Ma is a church planter, undergroundchurch visitor ... and hip-hop artist. Ma ventured into church planting after working at Sony among industry greats (including MC Hammer, who he considers a mentor) for almost 10 years. His newest project is 1040, a film by his production company, Adventures.tv. The documentary centers on the 10/40 window—the area between 10 and 40 degrees north of the Equator, which is home to the world’s largest population of non-Christians. Here, we talk to Ma about megachurches vs. house churches, caring about disciples over numbers and why the greatest missionary force will soon come out of Asia and Africa.
You have a few different ministries. How do they all work together?
About 10 years ago, we started planting house churches on universities. Today it’s called Student Church Movements, and we’ve launched about 300 student church networks around the world in the last decade on different universities, from North America all the way to East Asia, through the Middle East. … And that went on for about 10 years, and I passed that ministry on about two years ago. Originally, before I got into church planting, I was working with Sony. I was also working with MC Hammer. I worked with him for basically about 10 years. I was [the] vice president of development
and his right-hand man for about five years, developing all kinds of media projects, from social media companies, to tech companies, to music, to film and other projects. When I felt led and called to go to Bible college, that’s when I switched and transitioned for a season into church planting. I [also] started a media company a little more than a year ago called Adventures.tv. We’re basically a global Asian entertainment TV network that is going to be primarily digital broadband. We just produced a documentary film called 1040 about Christianity in the new Asia. Everything works together because we target that young adult demographic.
Why do you think house churches resonate with younger generations?
What you’re seeing is a great divide or exodus from the institutional church or the organized church or the Western church as we’ve known it for the last few decades or the last century. You have a whole generation that is basically disgruntled or looking for answers, so to them the only truth that is truth to them is what they experience. Within this house church movement and this model, you find a generation that is not just going to go to church, sit down for two hours on a Sunday, and buy into that, and listen to a sermon or a message and believe that that’s true. What you see now is that young men and women want to fight for a cause, they want to die for a cause, they want to get involved with something. That’s why you see today in postmodernism and the culture, young adults, college students that want to get involved in social action and social justice where they can put their belief systems into practice.
What are your thoughts on the original house church model?
There was a lot of messiness within each of the churches Paul had to apostle and watch over, but a movement is truly not a movement until it gets out of control. And so we look at what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2: “Timothy, whatever I teach you, find faithful men to teach others.” What you see in that line of Scripture is four generations of disciples, four generations of churches. We would say Paul was the first church, Timothy was the daughter church, then the faithful men would be the granddaughter church and the others would be the great-granddaughter church. I normally tell people, unless you have a fourth-generation church, you do not have a movement.
Do you have a problem with existing models?
No, I’m not disgruntled with institutionalized churches at all. We need the megachurches, we need the congregational churches, we need the backing, the prayers, the resources. The Church is the Church. But what I’m talking about right now is, what is the most effective and efficient way to reach this generation? Millions upon millions are leaving the institutionalized church every day. It says in Barna’s book Revolution, they’re not leaving the institutionalized church because they’re losing their faith—they’re leaving the institutionalized church to find faith. And they’re having different
forms of expressions, of understanding, of searching and experiencing spirituality. Many people I know who grew up in church and are jaded by church and who left church are still believers in Jesus who love God, but just don’t fit in that cultural model. We need to understand how we can reach them where they are. I do believe in a local church, but I don’t believe we are to just grow our churches. I believe, ultimately, we are to make disciples.
A lot of your work is done in China with the underground church movement. What role do house churches play there?
I work 50 percent of my time in Asia. I’m in and out of China, in and out of all the southeast Asian nations, and I’m seeing revival break out like wildfire in Asia. On a monthly basis, 40,000 believers come to Christ in China. The interesting thing in China [is that] most of the house churches are not led by men, they’re led by women, and most of them [are] under the age of 25. In 1949, there were only 800,000 Christians in China, and they had the most missionaries from Europe and North America. But when the cultural revolution happened, missionaries were kicked out of the country, pastors were sent to jail, church buildings were burned down and budgets were taken away. But instead of the Church dying and being destroyed, the Church exponentially exploded, where every person now realized how precious the pages of the Bible were, and how real Jesus must be if I’m to follow Him.
What are some primary differences you see between believers in China and the States?
A church apostle from China came to L.A., and my friend [took] him to different large churches there. After visiting half a dozen of them, he asked, “What do you think of the churches here?” And this is what he said: “It’s amazing what your churches in America can do without the Holy Spirit.” We’re good at building buildings, at doing programs, at raising money, but are we good at changing lives, investing into people that create radical disciples, that are willing not only to live for the Gospel, but to die for the Gospel? Why we made this movie, 1040, is we want to educate and awaken the Western church world, the global culture that people are not just wanting to live for it, they’re wanting to die for it. It’s not just a belief, it’s a behavior.
DISCUSS: Does your church retain some of the qualities of a house church that Ma lays out? What are some things your church can learn from the house church movement?
How have you seen the Church in Asia and the Global South beginning to influence the Western Church?
I believe the greatest missionary forces of our day will not come out of America—they’ll come out of Asia and Africa. Europe is being re-evangelized right now by Africans, and the largest growing churches, most charismatic and Spirit-filled and radically reproducing movements within England and Europe, are with Africans. If you look in the Middle East, in Central Asia, Northern Africa, even Iraq and Arabia, you see more Chinese and Korean missionaries going into these areas. It’s called the Jerusalem movement. They’re taking the Gospel from South Korea and China through the Silk Road to the last remaining Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic nations. They’ve been through persecution—they’re not afraid to die, and they can get in, whereas Westerners cannot get in with their passports and their faces. There is a spiritual shift from the West to the East, a baton is being passed and I truly believe the next century will be 100 years of Asian and African Christianity, where they will be the ones at the forefront, leading the way, showing how to live radical faith beyond the institution, writing the kind of books that are going to so challenge us to follow Christ whole-heartedly and radically.
What are practical ways Western churches and leaders can support the Eastern church?
Number one is to change our mindset from a mindset of giving to a mindset of learning. As Westerners we always think when we come into another country or a foreign nation, “We’re here to teach them, we’re here to show them, to tell them what they need to know.” But really this is an imperialistic, very proud approach rather than coming in a spirit of humility to learn. And by asking the questions and listening, and then asking the Holy Spirit, “OK, what within our arsenal in the West can we supply those in the East, those in Africa, those in South America, those in other countries, those in other cultures?” The Western church is not obsolete, is not insignificant; it is very much a huge part of God’s purpose and plan. Many people would not have heard the Gospel had it not been for Western missionaries. But now we need to recognize: “OK, we have resources, we have technology, we have finances, we have certain things we’ve learned theologically, doctrinally. What do we have that we can give and serve them with?”
ACT: Come up with several very practical ways you can partner with churches in the 3/5 world to aid in their spread of the Gospel. That could be through your denomination or through parachurch organizations.
John Mark McMillan might just be changing the language of worship By Josh loveless
hen you meet John Mark McMillan, your first thought probably isn’t “worship leader.” He comes off like a member of an indie-folk-rock group, and lacks the gelled, put-together look stereotypical of worship artists. Maybe that’s part of his appeal; when he says he makes music he believes in himself, you trust him. He doesn’t seem like he’s selling a product, and his persona is as honest as his lyrics. While he might be best known for writing the moving “How He Loves,” McMillan also specializes in a kind of hyper-authentic type of worship music, with the grit and the pain of the human condition fully intact. It might seem weird to sing sometimes ... but it also feels right. McMillan has become one of our favorite new artists, and we recently talked to him about writing music for church, the importance of letting artists fail and why he doesn’t comfortably fit in the “industry” of worship music.
You have said before you’re trying to create a new language for worship. How did you approach that goal when making this album? I think for any song that makes an album, at some point when I’m playing it I have to feel something; I have to feel like this is important. Sometimes there is a formula to doing music for a living and we learn that formula and the same with church, we learn that formula, we learn what works, and that can be one of the biggest hindrances to really doing something right. Because it’s easier to do the formula—and the formula is not bad. “If we did this and this works, let’s do it again.” It’s harder to sit down and say: “What do I actually feel about what I’m saying right now? What do I actually believe?” And when I’m writing or creating, I try to be completely honest with myself about it. I’m like: “I’m not sure I believe this ... I think I
DISCUSS: If you had to describe the current “language of worship,” what would you say?
do, I know I’m supposed to, but what do I really believe?” I try and communicate those things. I think it’s really easy to let that go because that’s really hard to do, and you have to be vulnerable, and for men especially it’s hard to do. But I feel like, if you’re going to communicate in a way that’s going to change someone’s life, you have to be willing to bleed and be naked.
When you hear people talk about Christian music and then think about what you’re trying to do, are they the same idea? I think they can be opposing, but I hope they can work together. What I’d like to do is create at least an expectation for something different. It’s not to say, “All this is bad and wrong,” I just want to bring another voice into the conversation. I don’t want to do it because I have a chip on my shoulder ‘cause what’s there is bad—there is good stuff there too. But I feel like there are a lot of people who, for one reason or another, have left the conversation and they left a long time ago. I want to create something that can offer them a door back into the conversation. And I would hope we can do that somewhat within the industry, ‘cause I’m in it now!
You sing about cynicism at a few pivotal moments on The Medicine. Have you struggled with that toward God or the Church at all? Totally. Not so much toward God, because I feel like God’s always treated me pretty good. I don’t say that in a theological way; I know He’s always done me well when He didn’t have to. I grew up in church, my dad was a pastor—you know the whole story, everybody has it. You struggle with cynicism. You grow up and you idolize these leaders, and then you find out they’re human and it’s sometimes devastating—a lot of people
DISCUSS: How have you dealt with the cynicism you’ve felt toward church and Christians?
>>>>>> McMillan’s Recent Releases
The Medicine Integrity Originally released in 2008, McMillan decided to re-release Medicine this year, hoping it would get a chance to be heard by a wider audience.
The Song Inside the Sounds of Breaking Down Independent McMillan’s second album, Song was independently released in 2005. “How He Loves” originally appeared on this album, but it was also included on The Medicine.
don’t get past that. I guess I just realized when you look in the Bible, everybody is that way. That’s kind of the point. There are no perfect people, there is just Jesus, and it’s just the way it is and I kind of like it that way better. It makes me not feel so bad about myself. “Oh, there is hope for me, too.” When someone gets in trouble, you feel bad for them, but then it’s like: “OK, this guy has a heartbeat and a pulse, he’s not a robot. He’s not a Terminator with a Bible in his hand, he’s a person. And if he can do things, that means I can too.” That’s kind of my whole thing now, is just real people and a real Jesus. I think we have a tendency to create this sort of hype about what church and Jesus are, we forget that [if] Jesus prayed for unity and prayed for the Church before He died, it must be pretty important. It’s made up of all these incredibly flawed individuals, and I think the point is that that’s OK. We like to cover up those things and put our best face on so that people who aren’t Christians will like what they see. But I think that same thing can also drive people away from church because it doesn’t feel real.
Is it healthy or beneficial for the Kingdom when the cynical leave the Church while still loving Jesus? I think it just depends. I think you absolutely have to have relationships in your life, people who are holding you accountable—not just holding you accountable as to not get into sin, but holding you accountable as to become who you’re supposed to be. I have a lot of friends who did that. They were like, “I’m a Christian, but I’m done with church” and they walked away, and three years later they call me and they’re like, “I don’t know how I got where I am, I hate who I am, I don’t like what I’m doing, the drugs, the girls, I hate it, but I do it and I don’t know why.” And I’m like, “I think you lost the battle three years ago when you walked away from any relationship that would challenge you on the way you’re living your life, because no man’s an island.” When Adam [was] in the garden, he had the perfect relationship with God; God physically walked around with him, at least that’s what the Bible says. And even in that situation God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” It’s immaturity to think we can make it on our own. I don’t think anyone can; nobody is strong enough. Whether it’s a big church or just a few intentional relationships, there’s got to be intention with other believers in your Christian experience. It might take two or three years, but I think everybody learns that eventually.
be as genuine as we can in what we’re doing. The guys filming are good friends who I’ve known for years and years. I know the guy who was running the sound; [all those] involved were people I’ve known forever. So everyone had a stake in the game. They had ownership of what we were doing, it wasn’t just a production. There is nothing wrong with production, we do that all the time; but especially for those moments, I wanted the camera guy to feel like he was serving Jesus on the camera and he is worshipping God on the camera, and I wanted everyone involved to feel like they are as important as I am, on the guitar with a camera in my face. We wanted to create a vibe that said, “This is community, this is no big deal, this is what we do every day.” I don’t want to get too weird or spiritual, [but] I don’t know any other way to answer it; the Bible says that God abides in the praises of people, He’s enthroned in the praises of His people. There is something about genuine praise when it’s expressed in a genuine way—it’s almost like the spirit of God rests inside of it. I don’t really know how to quantify that, but I think that’s always what we’re looking for. I think sometimes you can produce God out of the music. We’re always trying to create these pieces where we feel what we consider to be the spirit of God, where we feel it. That’s what I wanted for all these videos. I don’t want to send this out the door until everyone involved feels something, whether it’s emotional or otherwise.
What kind of church community do you long to be part of?
Sometimes you can’t make awesome moments happen; you just have to hang around and let them happen, and be willing to wait until they do. As far as that particular moment, I think what it was is a community. Everyone in that video is a good friend or a friend of a friend. There are no actors. We try to
A group of people who can be very honest with one another, but not in the way where we stand up at the front and talk about our deep dark sins, [like,] “Let’s shock each other with our worst thoughts and sins.” No, just people who can be genuine with one another and can talk about things. I want to be involved with a group of people who have intention for the city we live in, for the communities we live in. And I want to be a part of a community of people who see value in what goes on outside of their Sunday program. In fact, I want to be a part of a group of people who see more value in what goes on outside of their Sunday program, and whatever we do on Sunday or whenever we get together, it’s more like a pep meeting for the rest of what we do.
ACT: You can watch the seven-minute video for “How He Loves” at Vimeo.com or NeueMagazine.com.
THINK: In what ways does your church community fulfill your desires for it, and what would you like to see change?
Why do you think your video for “How He Loves” resonates so much with people who are questioning their faith?
You just started a church. How will it be different than other churches in your city?
take some nuggets to chew on for the rest of the week, and hopefully give us something to help us in our everyday lives.
We actually started a church about two months ago with several of my friends in town and my dad—he’s been a pastor in the city for 30, 40 years. I had this longing in my heart for a lot of these young guys in the city who are Christians who are just absolutely in a rough situation. They want community, [but] they may not know how to say they want it. But they all want Jesus, they all want the same things, and for some reason they’re not finding it in the traditional established church. I wanted to create an environment where they felt like they wanted to come and be a part. But more than that, I think I just wanted a place where my family could go, where my friends in the city who had become disconnected for one reason or another could get together and have sort of an intentional place, a place where we could connect intentionally with one another and we could set aside time to connect with Jesus. I think it’s really easy to say we’ll just do it when we feel it, spontaneously, but I think anybody who has been in a marriage more than a couple years realizes you’ve got to love intentionally and you’ve got to make plans, mark things on your calendar and stuff like that. We have a time we set aside to sing together and talk together, and have someone get up and talk about Jesus, and teach a little bit, and
Do artists have a specific and unique role to play in the church community? Yeah, absolutely. I think the arts really are, in my opinion—I’m obviously a songwriter—but arts, in my opinion, are the voice in any community, and when you limit the artist, you limit your voice in a lot of ways. I think it’s really important. What is the point of the Church, what is the Kingdom of God exactly, what are we doing? If it’s something that is supposed to be reaching out into the world, we have to have a voice to do it. It’s really important that we have songwriters and people in the church who are creating a language for our conversations with one another, within ourselves and with God.
Many churches hire musicians from outside. How can churches better develop artists from within their community?
Watch our john mark mcmillan interview at NeueMagazine.com John Mark McMillan stopped by our studio for this interview and a live acoustic performance. Watch the whole interview and performances at NeueMagazine.com.
The way I grew up, the church I grew up in, their concept of a church meeting was the pastor used to say: “We look at church as a workshop and not as a trophy case. We’re not here to
ACT: Think of three ways you can concretely make your church more supportive of the arts. Bring them to your next staff meeting and discuss how to encourage more art in your church.
“If you really want to do something significant, you’ve got to give people an opportunity to fail.”
display the things we’ve done—we’re here to learn and to grow. We’re here to make mistakes.” So they would let me as a young guy lead worship before I could really even sing very well. They were like, “You’ve got to write most of your own songs, so when you have a song, come.” So I’d go up and I’d play this song, and sometimes the people would get it and other times they wouldn’t, but the people understood what was going on so they went there with you. They weren’t like, “Man, this song is weird”; they were like, “He’s trying so hard and we love it.” You’ve got to have a situation where people are allowed to make mistakes. I’m not an anti-big church guy, but a lot of big churches don’t want you to come out and mess up. They don’t want you make a mistake—they want you to land on the minute, and they want you to do the song that fits perfectly in the message. All that is awesome, but in that situation there’s not room for someone to grow and become who they’re supposed to be. So you’ve got to create another situation where you have people come in and know it’s gonna be weird, it may not work, but it’s going to be fun. Not only might it fail, there are times it most definitely will fail. But you have to fail to succeed. That’s really how I became a songwriter—I had the opportunity to fail. If you really want to do something significant, you’ve got to give people an opportunity to fail.
When David Crowder covered “How He Loves,” he replaced the end of the line “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss” with “like an unforeseen kiss.” On your blog, you responded by writing, “I applaud David for changing the line to serve his people, and at the same time I boo the machinery that would cause him to have to do so.” Explain this machinery you want to boo. I’m not trying to pick a fight. David Crowder is awesome, so not even with him. I don’t want to pick a fight with theology people and church people, but you look at the Bible and just how awesome and graphic [it is], and the smell, the taste. There is no sheen to it at all; it’s nasty and beautiful all at the same time. So we go to church, and we walk up, and we sing our hymns, and we listen to the preacher and in the backdrop there is this massive instrument of murder and destruction—just the most graphic, almost disgusting sort of symbol. The cross! And the way Jesus died, it was not even a pretty death; it was the most unbelievably, horrific, grim [thing]—you couldn’t show it. When people saw The Passion of the Christ and they were like, “Aw, man, I just couldn’t believe it.” I was like: “Really? That’s what the Bible says, that’s what happened!” For centuries, we’ll worship, and we’ll wear the suits—though I’m not an anti-suit guy—and we’ll dress up, and we’ll polish our fingernails, and we get our hair right and we go and worship underneath this symbol that, if we really thought about it, is pretty disgusting. It’s beautiful because of what it means, but what it is is pretty rough. And then for people to make a big deal about a sloppy wet kiss, I just think, what are we thinking? Where is our mind?
THINK: There is no better way to start an argument than to begin with “Nietzsche said.”
Are we really so [concerned] with offending people with that line? Who or what is the machinery? I think the machinery—I mean, I’m on a record label—I think a lot of it is industry. And I’m not anti-commerce at all, I’m a capitalist! I’m cool with capitalism. But I think what happens is we don’t want to offend people. I’m not saying everyone is motivated by money. But the culture that’s been created around the money coming into the church creates situations where we don’t want to offend people. We’ve created these systems, and overall they’re good, but [they can become bad] when the systems don’t allow people to be honest and real, at least as real as the purpose they were supposedly built to maintain and to serve. If, within the system, I can’t be as real as the Bible and Jesus, it’s kind of like the purpose is defeated in a lot of ways. That’s the machinery; we create this moving thing and we’ve got this huge momentum, and so we don’t want to say anything that offends anybody, and sometimes we remove the offensive things. At what point does Jesus also get kicked out of that machine because He doesn’t keep the machine running?
You recently quoted Nietzsche on your blog: “They would have to sing better songs for me to learn to have faith in their Redeemer.” Do you think Christians have a hard time making good art? I honestly can fall on either side of the argument there. A lot of situations, a lot of people I meet, they don’t want to pursue anything in their art. You know how you get in those catch-22 situations where they say, “This song isn’t going to work because it doesn’t serve the people right, it doesn’t do well with the people.” And then, “Well, this song doesn’t work right because, really, worship is about God, it’s not about people.” And I’m like, “Well, is it about God or is it about people?” And you have this catch-22, but the truth is it’s both. Because it is about God, but God is about people, so at some point it has to go around the horn and it has to bless the people, or it doesn’t work. But at the same time, it has to be focused and have some sort of foundation in God and who God is. I feel like we do need to challenge ourselves. We like to talk nice about what everybody does, and I’m cool with that, I don’t want to put anybody down or hurt anybody’s feelings. But in my community, we challenge each other. If I write a song and someone’s like, “I don’t really feel it,” instead of saying, “Bless his heart, he’s really trying.” There’s got to be a point where you’re like, “Is it legit or is it not legit?” You’ve got to be tough. I’m not saying my music is legit, but I’m really hard on myself, I give my absolute best. I’m doing it because I believe somebody out there has got to hear what I’m saying, and if it’s not done the way I feel it needs to be done, there is someone out there who isn’t going to hear it. There is someone out there who isn’t going to get a voice. There is someone out there who isn’t going to have the conversation they need to have that maybe will change their life.
DISCUSS: How do you handle this paradox in your church?
THE GENDER DIVIDE Why working with the opposite sex really isn’t that big a deal By Nancy Ortberg
One of my first leaders in ministry was a man. I was 19 years old and volunteering in the youth ministry and the youth pastor, Jamie Barr, met with me regularly and was a strong mentor. The fact that he was a man and I was a woman just never came up. We were both very comfortable with it. Since then, I’ve had both male and female mentors and have learned deeply from all of them. In the church world, we often make more than we need to of women and men working together. In my role leading the Axis Ministry at Willow Creek, I had people on my team date, break up, get married. But work went on—we moved forward. Gender differences don’t have to be a big deal. There is so much more to be gained than lost when we choose to work together.
Fear keeps us at arms’ length
So what is it that makes church settings such a difficult and awkward environment for working together with the opposite sex? If we know working together will build our community and enrich our Gospel message, what keeps us from it? Fear is certainly one factor—that’s true when it comes to working with anyone different from us. Intelligent men keep intelligent women at arm’s
length (and vice versa) out of fear. Fear of different leadership styles, of awkward conversations, even fear of “being shown up.” Some people also fear they might find a co-worker attractive and it would be too awkward or hard to work together. Sometimes we become so intent on dividing the kinds of work men and women can do that it really gets in the way of us working well together. We over-stereotype male and female to the point that it gets to be almost a caricature, or it becomes polemic in a way that is not helpful or accurate. That’s why I think the issue of gender is tertiary—it’s not primary. A lot of the work a team can do together to understand their differences (whether gender related or not) involves different understandings of our personalities and types of leadership, whether it is Myers Briggs or Strength Finder or Spiritual Gifts. Working on those kinds of things as a team can really help us understand who we are as individuals and what that means for us as a team and who we are collectively. Fear ceases to exist when we get really comfortable in our own skin, when we become who God has made us to be and let go of who He has not made us to be. We learn as a team to work together and value what everybody brings to the table
Addressing our differences
At the same time, there are issues regarding men and women working together that need to be addressed—but, again, they are tertiary. We need to begin to have conversations about handling those relationships wisely. Those discussions don’t need to be had in an alarmist way that puts gender at the forefront, but every organization should address how men and women work together. We need to approach the topic carefully so it doesn’t become a huge obstacle and doesn’t eclipse the wonder of community, but guidelines do need to be set and everyone needs to be aware of them. There’s something to the way it’s handled in the business world we can learn from. Are there mistakes and lines crossed? Sometimes, yes; but mostly, no. There are always the stories that make the rounds and the big explosions we hear about. But they’re the exception, not the rule. Of course it’s wise to talk about it if someone is attracted to a co-worker, but it’s also just as important to talk when someone is frustrated with a co-worker. The issue of attraction probably needs to be talked about more than just at the first day of orientation, but it doesn’t need to be made into such a huge issue that we can’t work together.
ACT: At your next staff meeting, take one of these tests as a group. How do the results explain some of the ways your team communicates? Do you think any of it has to do with gender, or just people’s personalities?
There are also practical, simple boundaries we can install. At Willow, we’d talk about three tests. First, if your spouse were in the room with you, would you be OK with the interaction that was going on? Second, if your interaction was up on the screen at church, would you be comfortable with it? Third, is this the way you would treat a sister or a brother?
A tension to manage
A helpful distinction in issues of working with the opposite sex is to ask yourself: Is this a problem to solve or a tension to manage? Much of the time we put something into the category of “problem to be solved” when it’s actually a “tension to be managed.” The issue of gender is definitely a tension to be managed. It’s not a problem you can solve and then never think about it again. I have a lot of experience working with younger leaders, and I had a staff guy come into my office one day looking very sheepish. It took him a long time to get out what he was wanting to talk about. He had a great marriage, and he finally spit out that he found one of the volunteers in his area very attractive. Honestly, I think the most healing part of our conversation was my response. I simply said, “Oh, let’s talk about that.” I didn’t recoil in horror or say, “You have to get her off of your team, get away from her.” After all, it was his issue. Why should she suffer the consequence of getting booted off the team? My first question was, “Have you thought about telling her?” He said yes, and I told him I thought it would be one of the biggest mistakes he could make. I told him it would be like pouring fuel onto a fire, and offered several other ideas for how he might handle it instead. We had a great conversation, and I helped him think through some things he was already thinking about doing. I suggested setting up a time to meet with a couple of guys he could talk to about it—a couple of people he could check in with. I also suggested some ways to handle his feelings when he was with her and the way he thought about his feelings. One of the other things I said was, “Probably in a couple years, you’re going to look back on this experience and even being around her and laugh inside at what you went through.” At the time he didn’t think that was possible, but sure enough, I talked to him a couple years later and that was exactly what happened. Attraction between the sexes is going to happen. Of course it’s going to happen, but when it does, it’s more important to ask ourselves what that says about us and what we need to do
internally with God than it is to immediately try and figure out how to get that other person out of our sphere so we don’t have to deal with it. The attraction issue is one that needs to be talked about in a very mature way. I have a girlfriend who is not a leader—that’s not her giftedness—but she has other gifts and she is a very valuable asset to the church and to the world. She is very creative ... and she is very beautiful. She’s noticed men pull away from her in church and women— especially married women—get between her and their husband in a sort of protective stance. I don’t want to dismiss that; there is a power there. But what’s really sad is she has a longing for healthy connected relationships with both men and women, and she is not allowed to have it with many men because of her external appearance. If you knew her internal spirit and who she is on the inside, that wouldn’t be happening. We give a power to certain kinds of people as a result of the way they look, but there simply needs to be a place to talk about that in order to take some of the power out of it.
Sometimes people mess up
There is always going to be a small percentage of people who are going to make mistakes, and when that happens, I don’t know that making more rules is the best way to handle it, unless you didn’t have any guidelines in place. So when somebody makes a mistake in this area, sadness, not surprise, is the better response. You have to avoid treating it like the unpardonable sin and use restoration processes that are about healing, not shame. Restoration processes are year- to year-and-ahalf-long programs where the person is taken out of a leadership capacity and takes part in counseling and small groups. Then we are able to sign-off on them at the end of the process, saying, “We feel like this person has grown in significant ways, and we would reinstate them in a position of leadership in our church or give our blessing for them to lead in a different church.” There have been people in our churches who needed to go through restoration processes. Those who have crossed a line have been, in different capacities, more or less open to this process. And, for the most part, I haven’t seen a lot of growth or change in the ones who have rejected the processes. But most of those who have sought restoration have had true remorse and healing inside. That response positions them not only for spiritual growth, but also to avoid the same mistake in the future.
DISCUSS: What restoration processes do you have in place? If you answered “none,” please stop reading and go set some up immediately!
Tips for Working with the Opposite Sex Don’t Assume
Don’t assume because you have a conflict it’s a result of gender differences. It might be personality.
If you’re attracted to one of your co-workers, be honest about it with yourself and, if necessary, your boss. Take steps to prevent being alone with the person.
Don’t go out outside work
Sure, you’ll have the occasional work lunch together and that’s fine. But don’t invite your co-workers of the opposite sex out alone outside of work. Invite your spouses along or ask other co-workers to join you.
The Gospel is for men and women
In my experience, having both sexes on a team has made it more fun. It also made us grow in the understanding of other people. Sometimes the male leaders would suggest something that would be too aggressive, and sometimes the female leaders would bring up the issue of thinking about how decisions would affect people and how it could be communicated. Other times it would be flipped, but it always added to the experience of community to really understand each other in different, fresh ways. I think it made us all much more open to having friendships of opposite sexes that have enriched our lives beyond belief. The challenge is not just to think differently than what you’re used to, but to act on it. Somebody took a chance on me and helped me develop my gifts. We need to turn around and do that for other people because that was done for us. We need to stop looking only at the people who we’re comfortable with and we need to expand our vision. The Gospel is for everyone, and part of growing up, maturing and leading the Church into the future is a vision of men and women leading together in the church. Nancy ortberg is a speaker and the author of Looking for God (Tyndale, 2008). She and her husband, John, live in San Francisco.
DISCUSS: Regardless of where your church comes down on gender roles, how are you presenting the Gospel as something in which both men and women can participate?
From Top To
Why the wrong motives will bring down an ideaâ€” no matter how good it seems By Mark Batterson
It was the day of my ordination interview. I was 22 years old and surrounded by pastors who had been in ministry longer than I’d been alive. I sat anxiously, bracing myself for a barrage of theological questions.
I secretly hoped they would ask me an eschatological question, because I had just figured out when Jesus would return in the tribulation timeline. I also thought I was on the verge of resolving the age-old tension between Calvinism and Arminianism. I was armed and ready for any and every question. Every question, that is, except the very first question posed by one of the pastors. It has since become one of my favorite questions because it’s a great way to get a glimpse into someone’s soul. Here’s the question: “If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?” I was expecting questions about the Bible. I wasn’t expecting them to ask me about me. I understood the Bible. But me? No clue. Then a word came to mind, and I was pretty sure it would wow them. In fact, I wondered if my one-word answer would end the interview. I thought they might just give me my credentials on the spot without even checking references. My answer? “Driven.” I was so proud of my answer then. Not so much now. The longer I lead, the more I realize how unsanctified and unhealthy my answer really was. This is embarrassing to admit, but my dream at that point in ministry was to pastor a thousand people by the time I turned 30. Now, there is nothing wrong with church growth. In fact, no one wants to grow His church more than the One who originally established it. But I wanted the right thing for the wrong reasons. It was less about building His church and more about building my ego. It was less about His reputation and more about mine. I cared more about the numbers than the people. The unholy drivenness I felt earlier in my career isn’t unique to ministry. Every occupation has its
ladder, and if you climb over people to climb the ladder, it’ll be awfully lonely at the top. If you skip rungs, you may get to the top quicker, but you’ll also be much more likely to fall. Without integrity, the ladder has nothing to lean against. Without integrity, you cannot fulfill your destiny, because your integrity is your destiny. It’s been more than 15 years since that interview, and I still wrestle with unsanctified motives. I’m as imperfect now as I was then, but I’m better at recognizing and admitting my imperfections. I’ve also learned a valuable lesson: what we think of as the goal isn’t really the goal. The goal is not accomplishing the dream God has given to you. The dream is a secondary issue. The primary issue is who you become in the process. We fixate on what and when and where. God’s primary concern is always who. And He won’t get you where He wants you to go until you become who He wants you to be.
Seek the shadows Sometimes you have to die to the dream God has given you so God can resurrect the dream in its glorified form. And by glorified form, I simply mean doing it for God’s glory. We try so hard to manufacture opportunities, but anything manufactured by human effort doesn’t come with God’s warranty. We try so hard to impress people, but our attempts to impress are utterly unimpressive. What’s really impressive is someone who isn’t trying to impress at all. Our attempts to manufacture opportunities or impress people are the byproducts of an unsanctified ego that wants to glorify self rather than die to self. Until we experience that death to self, we’ll never come to life in the truest and fullest sense of the word.
DISCUSS: What would your answer to this question be? Share it in a group discussion. What do you think your answer says about you?
During my driven years, I coveted speaking opportunities. I called the covetousness a calling, but I was the one trying to do everything within my power to manufacture those opportunities. I wanted to be on the stage. I wanted to be in the lights. But once again, I wanted it for the wrong reasons. And I had to allow Christ to crucify my covetousness over and over again. It wasn’t until God sanctified my motives and I stopped seeking opportunities that those opportunities started seeking me. I recently spoke at a leadership conference, and I happened to be coupled with Louie Giglio for one of the sessions. Louie is the founder of the Passion movement and pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta. I got 12 minutes to speak— Louie got 30 minutes. In other words, we both got what we deserved. Louie is one of my favorite communicators, so I was excited to hear him speak, but it’s a situation like this when your true motives are tested. If you’re playing the comparison game, the better others do the worse you look, and the worse they do the better you look. As I sat there at the conference with Louie, I had a flashback to when I was a younger pastor full of insecurities and immaturities. I had mixed reactions to guest speakers. I wanted them to do well. After all, I was giving them our pulpit to preach in. But honestly, I didn’t want them to do too well. Why? It might reflect poorly on me. And I don’t want to be in someone else’s shadow. I want the spotlight. As Louie was speaking, I heard that still, small voice of the Spirit, and this is what I wrote in my conference notebook: “Seek the shadows.” Like sunflowers that face east to soak in the morning sunlight, we crave the praise of people. We want every ounce of credit we think we deserve. But you don’t get honor by seeking honor. You get honor by giving honor. Jesus said it this way: “Don’t sit in the seat of honor.” But His challenge to His original disciples to sit in the lowest seat didn’t keep them from asking the comparison question: “Who is the greatest among us?” We want to know where we rank, but Jesus never pulled rank. He challenged us to follow in His footsteps and wash feet. And that is what seeking the shadows is all about. You aren’t
THINK: Is this something you ever struggle with if you’re speaking? How can you protect against it?
looking for opportunities to get credit or get noticed. You’re actually looking for opportunities to do things where you won’t get credit or won’t get noticed. Why? Because it proves you aren’t living for the applause of people. You’re living for the applause of nail-scarred hands. Most of us wait to do something wrong until no one is watching, and we wait to do something right until someone is watching. That’s not human nature. That’s our sin nature. It’s our unsanctified
wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe. This is where my seminary training comes in handy. This is where I dive into the original Hebrew and ask questions like: What does the word “relieve” really mean? Are we talking number one or number two? What do the text and context suggest? What is the scholarly consensus on the point? Based on the amount of time spent in the cave, the evidence points to number two, because David
Just because something looks like or feels like a God thing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a God thing. desire for self-glorification. This will seem counterintuitive, but you don’t really care about people until you don’t care what they think. Until you’ve been crucified to their opinion of you, you can’t really help them the way you should. You have to die to them. You also have to die to your agenda, your approval ratings and your reputation. One of my deepest desires is to be a better person in private than I am in public. I’m not there yet, but that’s the goal. I want those who know me best to respect me most. That is the essence of integrity. And that test is never taken in the light. It’s always taken in the shadows, just as David took it.
Epic integrity Let me set the scene. David is hiding out in the crags of the wild goats. For the record, that is precisely where I would have gone to hide out, simply because it just feels manly saying it: “Where are you going?” “I’m going to the crags of the wild goats.” David is a fugitive because his father-in-law, King Saul, is trying to kill him. (And you thought you had in-law issues!) The man who walked David’s wife down the aisle is now hunting him down like a wild animal. At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave. “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you
has time to cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. And I think this number one vs. number two business has far more spiritual significance than we may realize. If we’re talking number two, his integrity is far more impressive because he had plenty of time to kill Saul. He didn’t just resist a short-fused temptation. It had to feel like an eternity to David as he weighed his options. Do I kill the king and assume the throne that rightfully belongs to me? Or do I risk missing the opportunity of a lifetime and keep living as a fugitive? The men who are with him certainly perceive it as a divine opportunity, but just because something looks like or feels like a God thing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a God thing. Just because it’s endorsed by your closest confidants doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. Just because it seems like a golden opportunity doesn’t mean it’s a God thing. An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity. If you have to lie on a résumé or withhold information during an interview process, then it’s not worth getting the job. If you get the job by compromising your integrity, then you’ll keep compromising your integrity. But if you are straight-up from the get-go, then either your potential employer will respect you for it and hire you because of your integrity, or they’ll do you a favor and not hire you. When National Community Church was just getting off the ground, we were presented with what seemed like a golden opportunity. Another church approached us about a possible merger. The church was incredibly dysfunctional, with lots
of internal issues, but they had $12 million worth of facilities debt-free. I thought we could handle a little dysfunction for $12 million, but I knew we would be doing it for all the wrong reasons. In order to seize that opportunity, we would have had to compromise our integrity. And when you compromise your integrity, what you’re really compromising is the opportunity itself. In retrospect, I’m glad we didn’t move forward with the merger. Why? I’m convinced it would have destroyed our DNA as a church. It also would have destroyed our integrity. It was tough to walk away from a piece of property worth that kind of money, especially considering the fact that property on Capitol Hill was going for about $10 million an acre, but it was the right thing to do. The opportunity wasn’t an opportunity, because it would have compromised our integrity as a church. There are moments when every person’s integrity is tested, and these are the most important tests you’ll ever take. You’ll be tempted to take the shortcut, but if you do, it’ll short-circuit God’s plans for your life. Don’t go there. Forfeit what looks like an opportunity for the sake of your integrity. David is a few inches and a few moments away from becoming king of Israel. All he has to do is stab Saul in the back. This situation seems like a God-ordained opportunity, but you cannot judge the will of God by the uniqueness of the circumstances. And the ends never justify the means. David knew Saul was anointed and appointed by God. It was against the law to kill the king. God was the one who put Saul in, and God was the one who could take him out. David refused to take matters into his own hands because then his fingerprints would have been all over it. And when we get our fingerprints all over something, it usually means we are taking matters into our own hands instead of putting them into the hands of Almighty God. When I look back at the defining moments in my life and dust for prints, the greatest moments are the moments when my fingerprints are nowhere to be seen. All I see are the fingerprints of God. mark batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. He’s the author of Primal and SoulPrint, from which this article is adapted. (© 2011, Multnomah) Used by permission.
Integrate Your Faith You believe your faith and your profession should not be separated. At Regent, we will teach you to perfect your God-given talents in a faith-based environment. Become the Christian artist you’ve always wanted to be.
888.777.7729 | www.regent.edu/communication Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees Animation • Cinema-Television • Journalism • Theatre
Christian Leadership to Change the World
Regent University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award associates, baccalaureate, masters, and doctorate degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404.679.4500 for questions about the accreditation of Regent University. Regent University admits students without discrimination on the basis of race, color, disability, gender, religion or national or ethnic origin. Regent University is certified by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to operate campuses within the Commonwealth of Virginia. COM096152
WHAT IS TRUE RESTORATION? TED HAGGARD AND THREE RESTORATION EXPERTS WEIGH IN ON WHY LEADERS FAIL THE CHURCH—AND HOW The CHURCH FAILS LEADERS By Josh Loveless & Roxanne Wieman
Ted Haggard. Jimmy Swaggart. Jim Bakker. The names have become synonymous with moral failure, corrupt leadership and hidden, sinful lifestyles. Above all, though, they have become synonymous with embarrassment. When scandals like theirs become public, the first thing many leaders do is distance themselves. To say: “This is not the way of Christians. They are outliers, hypocrites.” And, in doing so, keep the face of the Church as clean as possible. What happens, though, when the moral failure is by a pastor you know? What if it’s your old youth pastor? What happens when it’s a pastor at your church? Sin happens every day, at all churches, at all levels. Failure in leadership is inevitable. How the church responds, then, is imperative—both for its own sake and for the sake of the watching world. Responding to a leader’s failure is complicated. There are many factors to consider: the emotions of everyone involved (the leader, the spouse, the person or people wounded, the church body), salary, counseling, interim leadership, the church’s reputation ... and, of course, a Gospel message of forgiveness and restoration. So what does an ideal response look like? What should the ultimate goal be—and what does restoration really mean? The key, according to Bill Johnson, senior pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif., a church with a holistic healing ministry, is to keep a Kingdom mentality. “There are three basic mindsets in the world,” Johnson says. “There is the Kingdom, there is the religious mindset and there is the political, humanistic mindset. Those three influences try to govern the thought patterns and processes of every person on this planet. The religious system has God at the center, but He is impersonal and powerless. The political system has man at the center. The Kingdom functions differently than both. The Kingdom is willing to get your hands dirty, to be associated with people when it hurts your reputation to remain a friend with them. But you do it, because that’s Kingdom.”
For many churches, this process begins with a confrontation. No one knows this more than Ted Haggard. In 2006, Haggard was president of the National Association of Evangelicals, senior pastor of a vibrant megachurch (New Life in Colorado Springs, Colo.) and had the ear of President George
W. Bush. Then, in an instant, everything came crashing down. A male prostitute and masseur named Mike Jones came forward with allegations that Haggard had paid him for sex for three years and had purchased and used crystal meth from him. Haggard admitted to purchasing the meth, but denied ever using it or having sex with Jones. He resigned from his positions of authority and stepped down as pastor, saying he was guilty of sexual immorality. Now, four years later and amidst much controversy, Haggard has moved back to Colorado Springs and started St. James, a non-denominational church, which, much like New Life once did, started out meeting in his basement. Haggard admits he was caught in a cycle of addiction and destructive behavior but wasn’t truly able to give it up and seek healing until it became public. “I love the Scriptures. I love the Lord. I love the body of Christ. But I found myself in a somewhat addictive behavior. It was a cycle I hated. I would fall and then I would hate it and then I would fall. The instrument God uses— which is a wonderful mercy and grace—is that people get caught.” It’s in those initial hours and days surrounding the confrontation when the foundation for a church’s response is laid. For many, the knee-jerk reaction is to create distance, which has its roots in many motivations: to maintain a reputation of blamelessness, to ensure no one associates that sin with them or with their church, to squelch the “hypocrisy” label as early as possible. “There is a big movement right now for leaders to prove their commitment to holiness by speaking words of judgment and punishment,” Johnson says.“[But] if we’re going to be people who help broken people, we have to be willing to be associated with them to help them long-term. We have to put the stones away, because judgment won’t help.” This is not to say the church should turn a blind eye to sin or wave it away with a casual, “Well, who hasn’t sinned?” “Discipline is needed,” Johnson says. “I’m as fed up as anybody with the immorality that has been tolerated in the Church, but the answer is not the political spirit or the religious spirit. We’ve got to come at it with a Kingdom mindset, which means restoration.” What about in a highly publicized case like Haggard’s? When asked what he longed for the most in the days following his confrontation, Haggard quickly replies: “Hope. Kindness. Love. Patience. Gentleness. Mercy. Direction.”
DISCUSS: Think about a time in your life when you’ve dealt with a moral failure in church. How did the church deal with it? In retrospect, did they handle it well?
ACT: During the next month, come up with very specific ways to address issues of failure in leadership in your church. Keep in mind how “Kingdom discipline” will look in your context.
“If we’re going to be people who help broken people, we have to be willing to be associated with them to help them longterm.” — Bill Johnson
“I found myself in a somewhat addictive behavior. … I would fall and then I would hate it and then I would fall.” — Ted Haggard
Restoration means different things to different people. For some churches, restoration means having that pastor back in the pulpit. For other denominations, it means welcoming the pastor back into ministry, but not at the same church. Most agree, though, the ultimate aim shouldn’t be about the pulpit. “The ultimate goal of restoration is not to be placed back into the ministry,” says Fred Antonelli, a pastor for 23 years and the founder and president of Life Counseling Center, which specializes in addiction workshops and pastoral care. “The absolute, ultimate goal for restoration is not anything other than healing.” Johnson agrees. “The goal is never for us to get someone back into ministry. We hope it works out that way, but we’re not interested in their position as a pastor, evangelist or whatever. We’re interested in them as a person. So we put our energies just into seeing them restored. I think it’s a mistake to try to help somebody so they can return to ministry. It’s all backward. I’m not opposed to people returning to ministry. I have no problem with that. But it’s a wrong goal. The goal is to get the person settled in their own life. Then if we see the Lord releasing favor
and anointing on their life and they are truly restored, then of course the option of putting them back in ministry is wonderful. But we don’t do it so they’re preaching again. We do it so they’ll be restored as a person and their family will be healed.” Haggard says he is healed, that through counseling and the support of family, he has come to a place of restoration—both personally and with God. “Prior to my failure, I didn’t have a high view of counseling, but after my failure, I went to counseling, and my counselor was able to identify the source of the problem, and treat it and take care of it. [He] gave me the tools I needed, and I’m glad to report the tremendous treatment I’ve received.” Although New Life Church leaders declined to comment for this story, in 2008 they released a statement deeming the recovery process they outlined with Haggard as incomplete. Because of that, in another statement later that year, they said, “We cannot endorse his return to vocational ministry.” So how can you tell if a pastor is ready to return to ministry? Even biblically, there’s no set guideline. King David never left leadership, but his moral failings certainly haunted him and his family. Peter was reinstated after only a few days following his. Paul began ministering right away, but it took him years to gain the trust of many believers. Antonelli says so much of it depends on the person, but humility and a willingness to go through the process are key. “Often they are very compliant, but sometimes they come in full of themselves. They’ve been self-medicating off of people for so long, and are so approval addicted. They want to go into denial. But unless they’re willing to take a look at that and go to the places of wounding and pain, then it’s just about getting back into position, and that’s a very dangerous thing. By the grace of God, probably 95 percent of the pastors that come here, at some point, they want to go through that healing and they reduce themselves to be humbled in those areas. It’s not about putting them back in, and if it’s a moral problem, normally not back into that particular local church. But it’s possible they can get back into the ministry.” George Wood, the chief executive officer for the Assemblies of God, who helped put together the restoration curriculum for the A.G., agrees that the process is critical—and that it truly can work. “The hope is, if a person is truly repentant and goes through the process, that they will be stronger in the broken places than they were before they entered the rehab process. And we’ve had many good successes of persons who have emerged through the rehab program and have gone on to have very productive ministry.” But Wood is also careful to say that even when fully restored, going back to the same area isn’t advised. “If a minister who had gone through our rehab program wanted to start a church, we would say: ‘Get away from where you were. Pick another town far away so it doesn’t become an object of discussion, or hurt or division within the community in which you were. Pick another city far away, or preferably out of state, and start over. But don’t go back to the area where you caused so much trauma in people.’ “That’s exactly what happened with Haggard,” Wood continued. “He caused a lot of trauma to the church of Jesus Christ there, and
DISCUSS: If the goal isn’t to restore people to leadership, what do you think it is? Do you agree with Antonelli, who says the answer is “healing”? Why or why not?
THINK: Have you known a pastor or leader who has had a moral failure? Do you feel they were treated fairly? Would you have changed how their restoration process was handled?
What does restoration look like?
if he were an Assemblies of God minister, he would be expected to reboot his ministry, if he is rehabilitated, in an area where he had not previously been serving.” The repercussions for the church body itself certainly cannot be dismissed or minimized. The members of the church are often the forgotten victims of a scandal within leadership. “A minister’s failure is a devastating experience to a congregation,” Wood says. “It’s frequently followed by an increase in sexual immorality in couples in the congregation already having difficulty. It results in young Christians being disillusioned with their spiritual example. It’s worse than a death. The congregation needs time to heal.” Wood feels that healing can’t take place with the minister there, but Haggard disagrees, insisting that part of being a church body is supporting one another during those hard times. “It’s inherent in dealing with any group of human beings— there are going to be violations,” he says. “When those violations happen, they need to be committed [to unity and] not to divorce, because God hates divorce. Instead, if there is repentance at all, they need to understand process. What marriage counselor in the world would say, ‘The greatest hope for your marriage and family is for you to never communicate again’? We don’t believe that.” It’s a tension all churches feel in the wake of a leader’s failure. The church body is hurt. The leader is hurt. The church’s reputation is hurt. What does it mean to embody Christ in that moment? How should churches balance discipline and forgiveness? In Haggard’s situation, New Life Church addressed that tension by attempting to care for Haggard for a year: paying his salary, sending him to counseling, providing his children with education and letting him keep his truck. But they asked him to do undergo the restoration process in a place removed from Colorado Springs. Was it enough? It’s hard to say. Haggard says he’s “eternally grateful” for the ways they supported him, but says it was the lack of relationship and the presence of his church family that he felt most keenly. “When a person goes through whatever kind of struggle,” Haggard says, “they need to know it’s going to be like a family. The Bible says we’re a family. The Bible says we’re a body of believers. If you injure your body today, the rest of your body will rally around with antibodies to heal your body. It won’t withdraw from it. When I sinned, my wife and children drew closer to me and provided an environment where I could heal. If they would have withdrawn from me the way others did, I would have died.”
A safe place
Whatever the response, it’s critical for churches and leadership teams to consider what that response says to other pastors. Whether in an effort to restore the fear of the Lord or to control the image of the church to the outside world, there’s a certain temptation to throw the book at pastors who fail, to make an example of them. But such efforts, while meant to dissuade other pastors and congregants from sinning, can often have the opposite effect. Pastors see the condemnation and life-shattering punishments doled out to their colleagues, and it reinforces an idea they may already have that they have to be perfect. Which, in
turn, can keep them from admitting any failures or temptations they experience for fear they’ll receive the same treatment. So they sit on those feelings, wrestling with them alone. They don’t seek help or treatment, and eventually the temptation becomes too much to handle and they sin. “We actually do this to our pastors,” Antonelli says. “We make them. We put all these stipulations on them—we need this guy who won’t show a crack in the armor. We say, ‘Give us a king, give us Saul.’ Churches are built around people. They’re built around personalities. That’s the reason why the loneliest man in town is your local pastor. He has no one to go to. He has issues like everyone else. And they’re good men and good women. But we contribute to their demise, we contribute to their fall, and if we don’t get this right as men and women of God in community, we are coconspirators to some of the demise of these pastors.” Pastors don’t commit adultery—or any other moral sins—in a vacuum. Something has to lead up to it. So why weren’t the causes caught long before the symptoms showed up? Where are the people in a pastor’s life to help them with those struggles? “I hate to keep beating on the same drum, but it really does come back to this whole religious spirit and political spirit,” Johnson says. “Let’s say there is a pastor who goes to a board and says [he’s] struggling with [his] thoughts, or an attachment to this secretary, or pornography or whatever. If a board reacts to that and fires him, then they’re probably not honest with themselves on things they’ve had to deal with in their own life. That’s the product of the religious spirit. More than one time, we’ve had spiritual leaders who were extremely harsh in preaching on immorality but were leading a secret life. It’s like they outwardly make up for what they’re lacking inwardly. When you find that, you’ve just got to address that, because it’s not Kingdom.” Haggard says changing this is part of his goal moving forward in ministry. “Many church environments make it so people cannot talk about their weakest areas in life,” he says. “One of the things I want to do is make it so church is an increasingly safe place. We’re in trouble right now because a local support group is a safer place to talk about real problems than most church groups, and certainly most elders’ meetings. There are very few people [who] would say the most loving, safest place to process the darkest, deepest areas of your life is the church up the street.” On top of that, Haggard says when you do go to leaders at your church for accountability and support, they often don’t really know how to help. At least he says that was the case for him. “They said things like, ‘Memorize Romans 6 and repeat it every day in your mind.’ And that’s not a stupid thing to do, it just didn’t work in this particular situation. Now get this: I was leading a 14,000-member church, I was the president of the NAE, 30 million [congregants], I had WorldPrayerTeam.org, the most active Internet prayer site in the world, and I had the Association of Life-Giving Churches, several hundred churches in our network—and one of the guys I talked to told me I just needed to be busier at church, I had too much free time. So it was just people guessing.” Safe accountability and support within the church is critical, but Antonelli says churches need to also provide professional
<<<<<< Facing a Broken world
Why I Stayed Gayle Haggard Tyndale Haggard’s wife recounts her darkest hour and her renewed passion for the central message of the Bible: forgiveness and love.
Rebuilding Your Broken World Gordon MacDonald Thomas Nelson Drawing from personal experiences, MacDonald discusses likely sources of pain and consequences of a broken personal world. He also offers encouragement and advice for moving on.
ACT: Set up an appointment with a counselor in the next two weeks. Talk to your board to decide how to implement this “preventative maintenance therapy.”
realize they are capable of more than just staying out of sin; they are capable of really breaking into Kingdom lifestyle.”
What is the church’s responsibility?
“Churches are built around people. That’s the reason why the loneliest man in town is not the maytag repairman— it’s your local pastor.” — Fred Antonelli
counseling services for their leaders. “There needs to be preventive maintenance therapy. It should be mandatory, whether you’re pastoring 10,000 people or 100 people or 50 people. It should be built within the support system for the pastor to periodically go and be with a licensed clinical Christian marriage and family therapist—once a month, or maybe three or four times a year. Churches need to pay for this therapy for their pastors. They need to place them in the right center with the right therapist, to address the right issues in the right way.” Johnson agrees, saying it has to be a balance of grace and confrontation—and all of it stems from the culture of the church. “We’ve got to get the practical mind of Christ for those who have fallen without the fear of punishment,” he says. “It’s not that there’s no discipline and anything goes and we turn the other way. It’s the opposite. We are very [confrontational], but extremely honoring too. We honor people into repentance.” And that, he says, is what accountability must be about. It can’t merely be about confronting people with sin, but more importantly, it has to be about holding people accountable to what they could be. “I want people to hold me accountable not just because they are afraid I might fall into sin. I want them to hold me accountable so that I might reach my destiny. So we’re trying to take it a notch higher. We start with a basic conviction that people want to do the right thing, that they don’t have the bent to do wrong. That’s the old nature. We don’t teach to elevate the power of the old nature—we teach to elevate the power of the new. We are finding that has tremendous benefits because people
DISCUSS: At first glance, how do you feel about Haggard’s response to this question? Do you agree or disagree?
If churches have a responsibility in holding pastors accountable and supporting them in order to prevent failure, what role should the church have in the restoration of their leader after a failure? “Everything,” Haggard says. “If they’re repentant and submissive, even though they go through the stages that sin puts a person through, [restoration] should be the expertise of the church. CBS did a great job with David Letterman’s sin, and they have him restored and functioning and his marriage is doing fine. The NFL did a great job with Michael Vick’s sin. So [if] CBS and the NFL do a better job at restoring its people than the Church, maybe we’ve lost our message.” Staying within the same church is paramount to Haggard, who says being forced out is the equivalent of a divorce. But few would agree with him—even those in restoration ministry generally say leaving the home church is healthy for everyone, at least for a time. Antonelli emphasizes the importance for continued communication, though, and for good friends to stay close. “You stick with that person, and you follow through with them, and you be Christ to them,” he says. “Don’t forsake them, don’t exclude them, don’t evaporate out of their lives because then they feel like they have a third eye in the middle of their forehead, and even though they’re getting healing, where is the body of Christ? Where is the community of believers? Where are the leaders that are instituting grace and mercy in their lives?” For Johnson, recognizing the church’s responsibility in the healing and restoration process is critical. “There are a lot of people not just in leadership but in the church who need help,” he says. “If we can get a few good successes under our belt where we treat them honorably and bring them into a place of real repentance and real healing, there are a lot of folks who are going to come out of the woodwork and want help.”
It all comes down to the message
“What message do we have if we can’t deal with one another’s sin and make it as if the sin wasn’t the biggest thing in their life?” Haggard asks. It’s a question that isn’t merely personal for Haggard. He remembers talking to one of the presidents of a major network before a television interview. “He’s not a believer, and he said to me, ‘The reason I don’t believe the Gospel is, every time you guys deal with a sin issue, you prove you don’t believe it either.’ I looked at him [and] I said, ‘I believe history has proven you right.’ I think we need to think about it, because the only time love counts is when love has been violated. That’s why turning the other cheek is meaningful, going the second mile is meaningful. The only time kindness counts is when we’re in an atmosphere that would engender a lack of kindness, and the only time the Gospel counts is when somebody is wrestling with sin. We need to be able to go on as if Jesus’ blood actually does forgive people of their sins.”
DISCUSS: If we really believed this in our day-to-day walk with God, how would it change the way we operate?
SAVE UP TO $1,300 ON
NEUE RESOURCES ESSENTIAL TOOLS FOR CHURCH INNOVATION & IMPACT!
Our lowest prices EVER!
2 years | 8 kits $499 1 year | 4 kits $275
From the makers of Neue magazine, Neue Resources gives you hand-selected books, music and multimedia—plus exclusive study guides and discussion notes—to encourage and support you in your ministry!
Order online at NEUEMAGAZINE.COM/RESOURCES
SUBSCRIBE NOW TO RECEIVE RESOURCES FROM
FRANCIS CHAN, JOHN MARK McMILLAN, JOHN ORTBERG & MORE!
IDEAS SHAPING THE FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
The Tested Faith of Matt Chandler By David Roark
How the Texas pastor sees God’s handiwork in his cancer Suffering in mercy—that’s been the theme of Matt Chandler’s life the past 11 months. When Chandler, the lead pastor of North Texas megachurch The Village, woke up last Thanksgiving, all was well: 35 years old and healthy, a beautiful wife, three cute kids and a church of nearly 8,000 people. He was an up-and-coming speaker who often taught at national pastors’ conventions. Chandler was an emerging superstar.
Life was good. “Up to this point, everything we touched turned to gold,” says Chandler, now bald with a scar on his head, sitting on a couch in his church office. That Thanksgiving morning, his wife, Lauren, was in the kitchen preparing a few dishes for a family dinner at her parents’ house less than a mile away. He was in the living room feeding their then-6-month-old daughter, Norah. “I fed Norah, went to put her in the Johnny Jump-up, and turned around to head back to my chair. And that’s literally the last memory I have,” Chandler says. Hours later, he woke up in a hospital surrounded by family and friends. The doctors told him he had suffered a seizure, and before he knew it, he was being hauled upstairs for an MRI. “To be honest with you, I could care less about the diagnosis then,” Chandler says. All he could think about was going home and the agonizing pain in his mouth that came from biting through his tongue. So he didn’t think twice when the ER doctor said he had a mass on his right frontal lobe.
A heavy reality It wasn’t until a few days later that Chandler experienced what he calls “the first punch to the gut,” when his neurologist confirmed the mass wasn’t a glioma and called for immediate brain surgery, reading off a nearly endless list of dangers surrounding a craniotomy. A few days later, just before surgery, Chandler responded publicly—through a vlog, in which he sighed over missing the first service in his church’s building and nearly wept over the thought of not being able to someday walk his two daughters down the aisle or to see his son grow into the athlete who he never was. It was an emotional five minutes. Chandler says the toughest part of his circumstances has to do with his family. He believes Lauren’s love for God and independent nature would carry her through the grief should he pass away, yet he fears the effects on his children. “None of my kids have a real understanding of the Lord yet. They’re the ones I worry about,” he says.
THINK: Think back to a time when you experienced a “stomach punch.” What was your immediate response?
Matt Chandler—seen here during the filming of his Philippians sermon series DVD in 2009—has been undergoing radiation treatments since last Thanksgiving, when a tumor was discovered in his brain.
Right now his oldest, 7-year-old Audrey, understands what is going on, but 4-year-old Noah has no clue, praying the night before our interview that his daddy’s hair would grow back. But the cancer Chandler has, which wasn’t fully removed in surgery, doesn’t historically end in sudden death; it gradually deteriorates the brain, eventually putting the patient in a vegetative state. He hurts to think about his children seeing him leave in that way. Chandler, nevertheless, concluded his video with a perplexing statement: “There’s this part of me that’s so grateful that the Lord counted me worthy for this.” It’s what he told the Associated Press the next month, and it’s what he’s still saying today, taking high rounds of chemo that make him constantly nauseous: “To have the opportunity to battle what’s life-threatening, to have everything that’s dear put on the table next to Christ and to be able to go, ‘No, He’s better; He’s still my preference,’ and to have been given the public forum from which I get to do this, that for me is why this is a real gift.”
God’s will Chandler’s public display of faith in the midst of terrible circumstances has resonated. That initial vlog has led to many more, most of which have more than 20,000 views on YouTube. And Chandler’s thousands of Twitter and Facebook
THINK: Do you agree or disagree with Matt’s response? Why?
followers keep up with his ups and downs as he documents each doctor visit and health milestone. Chandler has used social media to communicate with people—near and far—who love and pray for him. In ways not possible five years ago, Chandler has an army of support from whom he can request prayer at any given moment. When Chandler went in for an MRI in September, his wife tweeted about his upcoming appointment and asked for prayer. In today’s world of quick diagnoses turnarounds and immediate updates, Lauren was able to announce just a few hours later that there were no signs of a recurrent tumor in the scans. Like his mentor John Piper, Chandler has always aligned himself with a reformed doctrine—derived from the teachings of Martin Luther and John Calvin— that stresses the centrality of Scripture and God’s control in salvation and everyday life. In a way there’s irony in his situation, as he has become a modern Job and Jeremiah. After all, if he believes God is sovereign in all things and that events in a Christian’s life are God’s will, does that mean God gave him cancer? And if He didn’t, what does that say about His sovereignty and perfect will?
the beginning when he thought he had just three years to live. “For as bad a rap as theology gets, at the end of the day,” Chandler says, “it was doctrine and theology that became the firm foundation in all that bad news. It comforted us and became warm blankets for our souls, and enabled us to go, ‘God’s God.’”
Finding purpose in his pain
Though Chandler’s beliefs haven’t changed, nothing has been easy, either. “I’m in no way wearing a cape in all this,” he says. Some days he’s depressed. And some days he has what he says are “wicked” thoughts, when he wonders, “Why me and not someone else?” Here he was, a successful pastor with a successful life, but suddenly the things that mattered—the things that had sometimes been obscured by that fog— were crystal clear. “It’s not as difficult to fight sin and to fight thoughts and to fight those kind of things off when you’re going, ‘I could be dead in a few months,’” Chandler says. It’s that change—and a refusal to compromise beliefs despite suffering—that’s making all the difference. In a recent sermon, which focused on suffering for the sake of the Gospel, Chandler
“For as bad a rap as theology gets, at the end of the day, it was doctrine and theology that became the firm foundation in all that bad news.” Many people whom he deeply respects, including close friends, however, have disagreed with his response. “I’ve had plenty of email tennis matches with guys who say: ‘God doesn’t have anything to do with this. This is a fallen world,’” Chandler says. “I don’t think God gave me cancer … but He knew it was coming. He certainly didn’t stop it, and He’s certainly able to. The whole Scripture is: bad things happen in a fallen world, and God is enough in those things and uses those things to the Glory of His own name.” So Chandler is still preaching the same message he has been for the last 15 years; only this time his life is the illustration, along with the belief that the Lord is using him to teach in this. And that’s exactly what he’s done—even from
elaborated: “Now, let me be very clear here. I’d much rather bring Him glory by preaching; I’d much rather bring Him glory by driving an ‘01 Impala that backfires in school zones; I’d much rather bring Him glory by giving away a large part of our income; I’d much rather glorify Him in those ways, than to have brain cancer. But I don’t get to choose that. “It’s not punitive; it’s not random; and it has not been given to us by God to show us who’s boss,” Chandler says. “There’s a purpose in it; there’s a limit in it; and in the end, God is not going to give to us what He will not sustain us in. And I believe at that moment, the Holy Spirit gives you the power to stand. That’s exactly what we found out. And I’m rejoicing in what He’s doing in it.”
ACT: It might be difficult to imagine this, but put yourself in Matt’s shoes. What would be your “things that matter”? Write down a list of those things and reflect on them. Do you feel your list reflects Kingdom values?
By Jeff Cook
I teach philosophy at a university in Colorado, and after all the papers are in, I take my students out to pizza at the pub across the street for our “final.” That rumor has gotten out, and I now have no trouble filling my classes. Last semester, I had just one student over the age of 25. He was a strong man, very intelligent and he had just finished his time overseas in Iraq. Near the end of the semester, a friend of his, who had returned with him from the war, committed suicide. My student skipped some of the classes to go the funeral, and I hadn’t spoken to him since he got back, but he came out to the pub for the final. We sat talking about all kinds of things as the other students left one by one to prepare for other tests that week. We stayed late, and after one too many beers and a discussion of warfare and events happening in the Middle East, he got quiet and said: “So imagine you are walking down an alley and you’ve got a job to do, and a 12-year-old jumps out in front of you with a gun. … You shoot, right?” Most people aren’t malicious. They don’t desire the destruction of others, but they find themselves doing things and saying things that are deeply troubling. That night the only place my student had to turn to address his past, to wrestle with his demons and his own suicidal thoughts, to ask if he was somehow in the right or if he was just another killer, to ask if any of the memories that haunted him were possibly acceptable, was with the philosophy teacher who mentions Jesus sometimes. But what he needed most at that moment—more than a justification for his actions or somebody telling him he was OK—was someone to repair his past. He needed someone to make a bad situation right again. What he needed was forgiveness. In ancient Israel, the place of forgiveness was the temple. The temple was no mere
religious building. The early Hebrews saw the temple as God’s home, the location in which heaven and earth came together. At first, they referred to this space by two names: the “Tabernacle” (which means dwelling) and the “tent of meeting” because it was here that a human being could meet and experience God. As such, there are many ancient ceremonies that picture a person coming to the temple with an offering to encounter God. These offerings are expressions of both love and need. They represent the deep desire of a person who has failed—by injuring themselves, or God’s world
have brought destruction and making them both right again. It’s interesting, then, that some of the early Christians embraced the symbolism of the temple as a new picture of their own identity. As Paul wrote to some of his friends in Ephesus, “You are no longer foreigners and aliens … in [Christ] you are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19, 22, NIV), and elsewhere, “We are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16). Among many others, these words reflect those of Jesus, who called His followers “a city on a hill [that] cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). Of course, the city on a hill was Jerusalem sitting atop Mount Zion—and seen for miles glistening on its peak was the temple. God confirmed the identity of His people as His new temple with signs like those found in the ancient Scriptures. In the book of Acts, the first written history of the Christian movement, something extraordinary happens. As fire had descended in a pillar on the Tabernacle at its
we are the space in which heaven and earth overlap, shining like a city on a hill. or God’s other children—to be repaired. An offering at the temple was a request for God to both cleanse a person of their wrongdoing and, just as important, set all their failures right—to work on their behalf to remake the places they had broken and heal the people who their sins had injured. The temple was the place of forgiveness, and like so much God does, forgiveness is an act of creation. Forgiveness is the work of taking both a person who is broken and the places where they
dedication in the book of Exodus, as smoke had filled the temple at its dedication in First Kings—the writer of Acts pictured the early Jesus followers assembled, praying together and suddenly a rushing wind and images of fire descended and filled not their church building, but the early Christians themselves. It was a sign God had dedicated a new home. As Jesus said in one of His parables, God would build a new temple upon a stone that the builders rejected, a stone Jesus identified as God’s dead son (Matthew 21:33-44 and
THINK: In our culture, where do you think we seek forgiveness? Explain.
Preach This: Four Reflections on Hope 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
This famous passage has the line, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” Preach on the reconciliation Christ invites us into.
“Behold, I am making all things new.” Those words sum up the hope all Christians have and offers a note of encouragement to the broken people we seek to serve.
These verses of assurance remind us that we are “more than conquerors” and that nothing separates us from God’s love. Share these thoughts of encouragement and trust.
This powerful passage tells us we have been made co-heirs with Christ in God’s promises. It also shows us the hope we can have in our faith—a hope that Christ has made us free and has made us one.
parallels). Through His own cross, Jesus believed He was creating a new altar, a new blood and even a new community of priests pointing to God’s new sacrifice, and yet God still needed a house in which to dwell to make sure all people knew their sins were forgiven. In another telling of what happened after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus walked into a room in which the disciples were hiding (for they were still considered political dissidents) and Jesus did something God, the Creator, did in the early chapters of Genesis. Just as God had breathed into Adam’s lungs and he became a living being, so in John’s story Jesus breathed on His disciples and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven” (John 20:22-23). The picture again is of a temple dedication. Like temples past, the presence and glory of God filled these men and women, and they became the place where God could be seen and experienced, but most important to Jesus here, they would be the place where the rest
of humanity would know God works on behalf of everyone to repair all the things we have broken—to know this God forgives. Presently the leaders in my church are wrestling with how we ought to relate to and engage the relatively large gay population that have been our friends and have decided to be part of our church community. We are wrestling with how we should address couples in our community who are addicted to work and hurting their children. We are wrestling with how to speak to those who refuse to invest themselves
To not become people who are magnets for the sexually confused, the violent, the greedy, the arrogant and the addicts is to miss our primary function in God’s kingdom. in healthy relationships and choose solitary lives. We are wrestling with marriages that severely soured weeks after the wedding. We are wrestling with what to say to soldiers going to and returning from war. We are wrestling with addictions, cutting, thefts and our own pride and insecurities. These are places where those in our culture are in deep pain, and we are choosing to suffer there alongside them. In those situations, the identity of the collective body of Jesus’ followers is much bigger than just another voice of reason. We are not simply bearers of more council. We aren’t even just listeners (and please let us not be the voice of condemnation for people who have no problem beating themselves up). We are the temple of the living God. We are the space in which heaven and earth overlap, shining like a city on hill for the world to see. We are the location in which God dwells and from which He is announcing a new reality. We must own that identity so we can announce to the killer and to the sexually confused, and to the masochist and to the angry, the envious and the moral failure, that there is hope: “God has not left anybody alone. He is here. You can be remade and every wrong you’ve committed repaired.” Jesus Christ has not given us His Spirit so we can have a bunch of ecstatic worship experiences. The Spirit dwells within us because Jesus desires you and me to live out the weighty
DISCUSS: What needs are in the community you serve? Talk about ways your leadership team can be the temple for the hurting in your midst.
task of being His temple—that place where hurting people can encounter God caring for them, bandaging them up, shining light into places that are disgusting and dysfunctional. We are the Church, the Church is God’s temple and the temple is the place of forgiveness. As such, we must be careful about how we present ourselves. If we are not consistently working to be seen in the eyes of our culture as trustworthy, as the people in whom God lives, we fail. If our political agenda, the messages we give or the conversations we have in public ostracize
us from others, we fail. If no one is coming to us in their times of trial (which are numerous and widespread) to say, “I need help,” that ought to be a major red flag. It means the broken human beings in our culture who we do life with are not coming to God to be repaired—perhaps because they can’t see Him, or they think He will reject them or they think He is irrelevant. All of these are unacceptable. To not become people who are magnets for the sexually confused, the violent, the greedy, the arrogant and the addicts is to miss our primary function in God’s Kingdom. The Bible begins with God speaking over disorder and orchestrating a universe. So too the new creation and the rebirth of a human soul begins with speech—God’s Spirit alive in us, hovering over chaotic lives and speaking over them fresh words of life: “God is repairing the people and places you have broken. You are no longer a slave to your past, to your dependencies, to those who have hurt you. You are free! God is here and you are forgiven.”
JEFF COOK teaches philosophy at the University of Northern Colorado. He is the author of Seven and Reimagining Heaven and Hell (both Zondervan).
your Ministry is drawing you
are you prepared
to take the plunge?
A customizable program that meets the needs you define through • Elective course selection • Flexible scheduling • Intentional biblical and theological integration • Diversity among theological traditions and ministry roles
The TEDS Doctor of Ministry program will equip you to take that plunge so that you can effectively lead your ministry deeper.
Enrich your vision. Enhance your ministry. Go deeper.
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School 800.578.8036 | www.teds.edu/DMin
to be thought of as, “Oh, that’s God’s area.” We can explain a lot of these things now, and that is a different, new thing that is a challenge to the church.
Is there a way to address doubt differently in these various cultures?
Why So Serious, Philip Yancey? By Roxanne Wieman
The popular author, journalist and speaker is known for his willingness to ask tough questions. Where is God when it hurts? What if I’m disappointed with God? Does prayer really work? Millions of readers have sought comfort in his books when they’ve faced tragedy, wrestled with doubt or wanted to ask questions about God. Yancey spoke to us recently about keeping your faith in good times, why doubt isn’t the end and how to gracefully minister to those who are hurting. Your book, What Good is God? is an exploration of that question in the midst of difficult circumstances. What draws you to those big faith questions? Several things. When people do polls on why people do not believe, the problem of pain and suffering is one of the largest reasons for people not believing. If you look at some of those books coming out from the new atheists—God Is Not Good, God Is Not Great—once again, the problem of suffering is right up there at the top. In a couple of my books, I’ve told the story of my own father who I never knew. I was a year old when he died. He died in one of the polio epidemics of 1950, and people in his church prayed, believing he would be healed. He was planning to be a missionary and they couldn’t see any reason why someone with that kind of potential and that kind of Christian commitment would die. And yet, he did, and ever since, my whole life has been lived under the shadow of some of those questions: unanswered prayer, why do bad things happen to
good people? Unless the Church gets that right, unless the Church addresses it realistically, we’re just not going to sound authentic and trustworthy to the watching world.
How does our culture and our era uniquely doubt and question? There is a huge difference between those countries that are defined by the technological and industrial revolution and the enlightenment that came out of Europe, and the countries that aren’t. In Jesus’ day, there probably weren’t many atheists. Even the pagans, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the people who make appearances in the Bible, they all had their own gods. They all believed there were forces going on. So in that sense, the modern atheism is of a different order, a different kind, because over the years we’ve learned to explain how weather happens, how tornados happen, how thunderstorms happen, how disease happens. And the more we can explain, the more we remove from that mysterious area that used
DISCUSS: Think about a time you doubted. Where did the doubt come from? Did you deal with it? If not, why? And how did you address it if you dealt with it?
I wrote [this book] quite aware that there is this whole new atheism getting a lot of press. There are people like Josh McDowell or Alister McGraff who will take on the arguments, the apologetics, as it were, that the atheists are using, and take them on and answer them philosophically. This is not that kind of book. I’m a journalist, not a philosopher. I ask the same questions, but quite frankly, the biggest encouragement to my faith has not been losing an argument or winning an argument; the biggest encouragement to my faith is seeing it lived out in real life. So in this book, I take a look at 10 different situations, some of them quite different situations, some of them horrific, like the Mumbai atrocities or Virginia Tech, and some of them very personal, like prostitutes or alcoholics struggling with the concept of: “Does God love me? Am I accepted?” And I [ask], “Does faith matter, does it make a difference, does it hold up?” I call it the “tabletop test” because in electronics, when a new gizmo comes out, like an iPad, you can have the greatest electronic gizmo in the world, but when you put it out in the real world, people are going to drop it, they’re going to knock it out of an airplane bin, they’re going to knock it off a table. And unless it survives that test, it’s worthless. That’s really how I examine my faith. I came back to faith largely because I saw it lived out in people who sacrificially and humbly follow Jesus, and do it in a way that serves others.
The American church seems to be dying—or at least somewhat diminishing in number. Why is that? I wouldn’t use words like “dying” or “apathetic.” I would use terms like “institutionalized.” In the United States, the church in many places operates much like a corporation. The best way to get out of self-indulgence is to get out into the real world. And when I travel overseas, I see that everywhere I go. It’s not just United States churches. There are a lot of missionaries coming from Latin America, coming from Korea especially. Those who are blessed, those who have resources, the more you sit around and enjoy those resources, the more you are in danger of becoming complacent and
Philip Yancey is the bestselling author of What’s So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew. His new book, What Good Is God? releases on October 19.
the questions. Point to one of the dark Psalms that asks the same questions and say: “You’re not the first person. It’s OK to feel angry at God. God welcomes that. But I do want you at some point, and you have to carefully judge what that point is, to understand that God is not against you. God is on your side.” self-indulgent. But what we are commanded to do, really, is to take those resources and go out and address human need, address justice issues, address poverty issues, address human suffering. And when we do that, that’s really the life that flows back into the church and helps us understand what we’re supposed to do on earth.
What is your advice to those ministering to the hurting? My first advice is to be slow with words. There is a large church here in Denver, it’s so large (several thousand, it’s a megachurch) that they actually have a full-time grief pastor, and he goes to hospitals, he goes to one or two funerals a week. I interviewed him when I was writing a book on prayer and asked what I could learn from his experience. And he said: “Well, I’m also a deep sea scuba diver, and what I learned in diving is that you can go really deep, you can go several hundred feet deep, and there are ways with an oxygen mixture you can still breathe underwater. But the other thing I learned is don’t come up too fast. People who get in trouble, divers who get in trouble are usually those who come up too fast.” And he said: “The same thing applies to people who are grieving. The church wants to get you back to the surface. Part of what we should do is stay down in the depths with them.” One of the first things is to go down where the people are, and when they’re asking questions, let them ask
What do you say to leaders who are questioning their faith? I think one of the main contributions a congregation can make is to give an environment that allows [leaders] to work it out through repentance, through restoration of health. We should be reaching out to the weakest parts, restoring, keeping that connection, that life going and flowing to those struggling weak parts. Most pastors can find at least colleagues in their town and their cities, maybe from other denominations, so they’re not as threatening. But a Baptist can talk to a Methodist, can talk to a Presbyterian and say: “This is what I’m struggling with. What’s your advice?” And sometimes people say, “I’m struggling with the same thing,” and in a sense, that’s a kind of comfort. Or they may be able to say, “I went through a difficult time like that and this is what helped me.” There are ways to handle it, and probably the worst way is what we encourage—to deny it, to repress it, because things like that don’t go away. I encourage anyone going through a time like that to find a safe place for doubt. Pastors are going to have a different safe place than other church members because they are leaders. Their safe place might be a denomination, [or] a couple weeks out at one of these retreat centers that deal with pastors, it might be colleagues in their town, but they need to find a safe place when they are going through dark times.
DISCUSS: Who handles grief counseling at your church? Talk about who should have that role, and take practical steps to address grieving community members.
When people ask, “What good is God?” you say they are really asking why doesn’t God intervene more directly in the world. How do you answer that? I don’t know if I can answer that. Of course, like in World War II, you have to wonder. All God had to do was somehow knock off Hitler, and think of the tens of thousands, maybe millions of lives that would have been saved. I mean, whenever something happens. Why didn’t God prevent this earthquake in Haiti? I can’t answer those questions, nobody can answer those questions. What I see is a pattern, where God is getting ready over thousands of years to turn over the mission on earth to people like us. When Jesus came, He could do the same sorts of miracles. This was the Son of God living on earth, and yet He said: “I’m going away, and it’s actually for your good that I’m going away. I’m turning it over to you.” And all that’s happened in Christian history since then has been a result of Jesus’ leaving, not doing it Himself, but turning it over to us with the Holy Spirit living in the Church and guiding the Church. We’ve made so many more mistakes than Jesus would have on His own. But God seems to take pleasure not in doing it Himself, but in turning it over to the rest of us to see what we can do.
You believe the story of Christianity is Creation. Fall. Redemption. This begs the question: If the fall is inevitable, what’s the point of creating at all? There is this phrase in the book of Revelation that says “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.” So God was not surprised by human disobedience, human failure, and yet God judged all of history, including the tragedies, including the rebellions, including the crucifixion of His own son, and judged it as worth it. It seems to me that the answer clearly in the Bible is it will be worth it. I don’t think at the end of time anybody will be able to come to God and say, “You made a mistake.” C.S. Lewis says our first words when we get to heaven will be, “Oh, now I understand.” And that is an issue of faith, that’s a leap of faith and of trust, and we have to [decide], is God a trustworthy God or not? We make that decision best by examining Jesus. If we believe God is trustworthy, then we join that process of redemption. We stand on the side of redemption to take the results of fallenness— the brokenness, the poverty, the pain—and demonstrate what God plans to do about those on a cosmic scale someday.
ACT: Think of one person you’re in relationship with who is grieving or going through an intense time of spiritual doubt. Write down three ways you can help them “come back up to the surface.”
THE NEXT CHRISTIANS
WHY THIS GENERATION’S CHRISTIANS ARE DETERMINED TO STAY FOCUSED BY GABE LYONS
I’ve seen many talented Christians who assume they have the maturity to handle anything the world throws at them. They participate indiscriminatingly in every opportunity presented to them. But the consequences are often disastrous. The next Christians (those who are inheriting the leadership of Christianity in America) must beware that operating in the center of the world requires a deep anchoring in Christ, a grounding that’s achieved only through means unbecoming to most. Otherwise, it hardly ever works. Stories of moral failure are almost cliché. Together, they present another sad report on the state of Christianity in culture and remind us that no matter how progressive our approach is to our faith, we’re susceptible to stumbling. Think about the story of Daniel in Daniel 1. Daniel was a person who pursued a disciplined life of cultural engagement but avoided being distracted by the very world he’d been called to restore. A young adult himself, Daniel lived some 3,000 years ago when he engaged the godless and corrupt city of Babylon in the 7th century B.C. by challenging their morality with the morality of their God. The lesson is critical. Daniel and his friends did something counterintuitive. They trusted their faith would intersect with God’s faithfulness. They believed that following God’s laws—remaining disciplined no matter the consequence—was important for them. They trusted that living God’s way was better than the alternative. And they were absolutely right. Success on the new Christian frontier looks a lot like Daniel’s. By observing a few crucial practices, the next Christians are restoring brokenness without disconnecting from the Restorer Himself. The next Christians share at least four critical disciplines that stand out in our moment. They seem to be oddities for the typical 21st-century American Christian. But these restorers have found them to be the grounding factor that allows them to remain pure, yet proximate to our changing world.
Immersed in Scripture (instead of entertainment) The average American spends almost three hours a day watching television. Play that out over a life span, and it accumulates to almost 10 years. Our culture is inundated with entertainment: television, music, film, talk radio—most people spend more time on these forms of entertainment than on anything else except sleep and work. None of them are inherently evil, but the collective impact of their overwhelming presence in our lives has the ability to reshape our thinking
exodus and liberation, exile and return. It gives them focus, but with a much bigger picture in mind. They don’t encumber themselves with specific, and often legalistic, dos and don’ts (although these principles can be helpful); instead, they open themselves to learning and communing with the Creator. Understanding Scripture is difficult. Passively watching television or quickly clicking though Internet links and Facebook updates is much easier. Engaging with our sacred texts takes time. But these Christians are making time for it.
By restoring a few crucial practices, the next Christians are restoring brokenness without disconnecting from the restorer himself. and skew our perspective. Entertainment easily distracts us from our brokenness, diverting us from the deeper meaning of life by placating our senses as our lives slowly slip away. The next Christians’ answer to this dilemma isn’t simply to turn off the TV (though it’s a good start). Rather, they’ve adopted a practice that counters the escape and buries them deep in real meaning, truth and purpose. They have rediscovered Scripture and immersed themselves in it in a way that differs from the practice of recent generations. To restorer-minded Christians, Scripture wasn’t meant to be a science book, history text or ethics manual, although they acknowledge it provides great insight into each of those subjects. They aren’t determined on finding verses to support their opinions or point of view. Instead, they enjoy Scripture as they believe it was meant to be: a grand narrative that tells the story of a God who loves His creations and pursues, rescues, gives grace and goes to any length to restore relationships with His most prized creations. Without robbing the Scriptures of their timeless, propositional truths, the next Christians are also rediscovering the thematic Hebrew stories of
DISCUSS: Read Daniel 1 as a group. Discuss the ministry implications of living “God’s way.” How does that look practically?
Observing the Sabbath (instead of being productive) Society today (at least in the West) rewards productivity and efficiency. Our personal value is often derived from what we check off our to-do lists each day. Pastor Rob Bell suggests this isn’t anything new. Since the beginning of time, every society has lived between two questions: “What did I not get done yesterday? And what do I have to do tomorrow?” Our culture is no different. We tend to spend most of our energy regretting what we haven’t completed and being preoccupied by what we need to accomplish. In direct contrast, the discipline of practicing the Sabbath is all about ignoring yesterday and tomorrow—and being present in the moment. Restorers understand how important and vital it is to take a break. This ancient idea is rooted in Jewish and Christian tradition taken straight from God Himself, who rested on the seventh day of creation. The term comes from the Hebrew word shabbath, meaning to cease, stop or rest. But the Sabbath is bigger than just a way for people to be replenished and restored; it’s
THINK: How often do you observe the Sabbath? If you do, how does that practice affect your relationship with God?
meaningful for the creation itself. Even the experienced farmer practices this in how he rotates his crops. By God’s design, fields need periodic time off from planting and harvest to replenish the nutrients that make them productive in future years. The Sabbath “gives the world the energy it needs to live for another six days” (the Hebrew Schmita). It’s part of God’s original design for a good creation. This may seem like an archaic concept to you, but it’s timely. It gives the next Christians a healthy way to disengage from a hyperproductive culture of efficiency so God can restore them.
Fasting for simplicity (instead of consuming)
The idea of self-denial is popular, but actually practicing it is altogether different. Historically, fasting meant to go without food for a period of time; but today, the next Christians apply this concept in almost every area where consumption can become an idol or a distraction. Fasting— whether not eating certain foods, not watching TV, buying less stuff or intentionally escaping the magnetic force of online social networking—is providing a way for them to break free of earthly encumbrances. They are living more simplistic lives and it sets them apart from most of their peers. In his book The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard writes that, historically, fasting from physical needs “confirmed the Christian’s utter dependence upon God, finding Him as the true source of sustenance beyond food.” Fasting squelches the distractions or, as one friend puts it, “removes the veil” between the physical and spiritual worlds within which we exist. The next Christians are finding that this practice leads them to much simpler lives. Practicing this discipline doesn’t always mean selling everything and living among the poor, but it usually requires deliberate choices that don’t make sense to the average person. For a suburban stay-at-home mom, it may mean committing to commute less than five miles from home for everything she needs: groceries, the gym, school for the children. For others, it could mean cleaning out the clutter, buying only what they need, giving stuff away and downsizing their home. Enjoying simplicity is counter to the message our consumer culture is barking from all angles. Society constantly tries to manipulate us into buying and consuming more than we need. Giles Slade, author of Made to Break, points out that this pressure isn’t unintentional. In his book, he illustrates how entire markets have been built off of creating dissatisfaction with the old. Be it disposable diapers, razors, contact lenses, cell phones, houses
or televisions, our new landscape of consumption is based largely on buying products that quickly become obsolete. I see restoration-minded Christians bucking the trend. Usually they don’t buy things they don’t really need, and they fast periodically from those habits that suck them into this alternate reality. This way of life often takes more effort and creativity on the front end. It requires their full imagination and a willingness to part with unneeded comforts. But in the long run, they seem to be creating a more sustainable and less contrived existence. However you apply the practice of fasting for simplicity in your life, you will likely contribute to a more thoughtful way of living that gives people a glimpse into what restoration is all about. By rejecting the status quo and fighting the manipulation to be like everyone else, you will demonstrate a better and more humane way to live.
The sabbath is bigger than just a way for people to be replenished and restored; it’s meaningful for the creation itself. Choosing embodiment (instead of being divided)
More than 20 million Facebook users update their status at least once each day. The rest of us seem tethered to our cell phones, constant companions wherever we go. Combine this with the latent pressure to respond quickly to email, texts and friend requests, or to update photos and online profiles while reading the rush of tweets and RSS feeds spilling into your inbox. We obviously live in a society full of divided people—or, put another way, disembodied human beings. Our attention is distorted, our focus is skewed, and it seems to any casual observer that the days when a one-on-one conversation could be maintained (for more than five minutes) without one of these constant nags interrupting you are long gone. Shane Hipps and a few other authors have uncovered the need for Christians to think seriously about how they manage technology, but imposing the discipline to do it is a whole different story. The next Christians have found a practice that is helping them to navigate this terrain. They are choosing to be embodied. Visiting Kevin Kelly, a heralded futurist and senior writer for Wired magazine, at his home put this practice on display for me in full force. Kevin’s work sits at the heart of technology innovation. If you didn’t know him, you might assume he lives in
DISCUSS: How often do you update your Facebook status or Twitter account? Why?
a digital paradise—constantly online, voraciously keeping up with the latest trends, a real mad scientist of sorts. But Kevin’s life exhibits the complete opposite. As we talked in his home office loft, the signs all around of his eccentricity and the nonconformist way he chooses to live refreshed me. He doesn’t use a cell phone, has never tweeted, rides his bike for transportation and doesn’t even own a laptop. Kevin’s simple life represents a complete anomaly; it’s not how most of us would expect a futurist like him to live, and that’s the point. As a Christian living on the edge of technological innovation, Kevin lives an embodied life. He credits this discipline to the model Jesus gives us when He physically shows up in the world. As Kevin explained in his own terms, this concept “comes from God’s choosing to be embodied through Jesus, to enter into His own creation and relate to His
‘creations’ by being present with them. That’s what I’m trying to mimic.” In a throwback to Daniel’s famous fast, Christians like Kevin find that living an embodied life is giving them something more to contribute to the world than many other people have to offer. They are living in the moment, practicing being fully present, always listening, always aware of the needs sitting right in front of them that tend to go easily overlooked by others. They counter the numbness that overwhelms our society by being conscious of their surroundings and committed to solving problems that present themselves, often by simply showing up. The consistent practice of these four disciplines goes a long way toward shaping the next Christians into the restorers God wants them to be. Most acknowledge that they don’t always get it perfect, but they have been willing to reorder their lives to participate in God’s work in this world.
GAbe Lyons is the co-founder of Catalyst and founder of Q, a community mobilizing Christians to advance the common good in society. He is the author of The Next Christians, from which this article is adapted. (© 2010, Doubleday) Used by permission.
“I provide youth ministry leadership to six countries in the Pacific region, so I need a missional and accessible M.Div. program. Wesley Seminary meets both requirements.” Josh Bowlin National Youth Pastor for New Zealand The Wesleyan Church Master of Divinity Student
Seven Reasons to Choose the New Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University Missional: stay in ministry while pursuing a degree that centers on outreach and service Personal: pursue your degree online or in the classroom Spiritual: focus on spiritual formation throughout the program Integrated: do practical ministry with biblical and theological integrity Economical: save time and money with a streamlined program and low tuition rate Relational: build deep bonds as you move through the program with the same group of students Leading edge: study with expert faculty at one of the nation’s largest Christian universities
To learn more about the 75-hour Master of Divinity or 36-hour Master of Arts degree at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, call our admissions team at 877-673-0009 or visit indwes.edu.
INDIANA WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY 4201 South Washington Street • Marion, IN 46953
Here are a few of the things we’re enjoying these days for inspiration, motivation—and an occasional moment of amusement.
MoonZoo.org | Louie Giglio made it cool for pastors to explore the universe with his infamous talk “Indescribable,” so we thought you’d like this site. It explains what you see happening on the moon without having to recycle Louie’s facts. GoogleFight.com | This site lets you take two people or two random words and have them fight it out to see who is the most popular on the web. We’re sure there’ll be a good reason to use this for message prep. TheRSA.org | The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce seeks to develop and promote new ways of thinking about human fulfillment and social progress. Based in London, this collection of Fellows makes a critical contribution to civic capacity.
Blood, Sweat and Chalk | Just in time for football season, this book by Tim Layden gives a behindthe-scenes look at coaches and the strategies they’ve developed over the years. It also names innovative people and ideas that have transformed the game. The Mentor Leader | It’s common knowledge that Tony Dungy was the head football coach who took the higher road when it came to yelling and swearing at his players. If yelling and swearing at your staff is a problem for you, you might want to pick this one up. “The Web is Dead. Long Live the Internet” | This article illuminates how the Internet is changing our world, while the World Wide Web has become irrelevant. (Yes, they’re different.) Check out the article online here: http://bit.ly/bvRGG0
Online Personal Assistant | FancyHands.com has a team of assistants to do the things you don’t have time for or don’t want to do. For $35, they’ll take 15 tasks off your todo list with no sign-up or cancellation fees. If this could equate to them getting 15 people to pray the sinner’s prayer, you might want to sign up and go on vacation for the rest of the year. The Alexa Toolbar | Download the Alexa toolbar at Alexa.com. It will stay with you as you search the web, and give updated ratings of where sites rank on the list of most-visited. We recommend you disengage it before visiting your church’s website—seeing its rating may cause you to do bodily harm to your IT person. Online Golf | WGT.com (World Golf Tour) has created the best free, online, HD golf game on the planet. It’s easy to use and the courses look beautiful.
DISCUSS: What is your church’s web strategy? Are you fulfilling the possibilities of the web using the resources at your disposal? How could you do better?
http://bit.ly/dkdMlW | The mission of StoryCorps is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected stories from more than 60,000 participants. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind. This video captures a couple’s journey—from their first date to the husband’s final days with terminal cancer. http://bit.ly/ckwHpO | Rather than recommending just one video, check out the collective animated drawing videos the RSA (see RSA recommendation on Sites to Browse) has created. They take influential talks about meaningful ideas the world needs to embrace and creatively illustrate the audio. http://bit.ly/apHgP4 | In case you know a teaching pastor who is low on charisma and short on energy when he or she communicates, send them the video of this 11-year-old who reviews movies for The Early Show. It’s one of the strongest and most competent interviews you’ll ever see a child do.
Jónsi — Go | Jónsi (pronounced “YAWN-see”) is the lead singer of Sigur Rós, the band you love without knowing what a single lyric means. His solo album carries the same beautiful landscape of orchestral arrangements that are familiar qualities of Sigur Rós but with even better pop sensibility. Lucky for you, though, he sings in English. Brandon Grissom — Exhale | Every church community is in search of songs you want to sing with friends. Exhale has some of the songs you’re looking for. Grissom has one of those personalities that makes you want to follow him. His first solo album, Exhale captures the essence of what is powerful about being led in musical worship by Brandon Grissom. Charlie Hall — The Rising | Once again Hall and his talented posse of bandmates have beautifully constructed an album that says what your heart has been feeling but hasn’t found the words for. Honesty is a gift as powerful as strong vocals when it comes to music, and Hall has made a career out of demonstrating vulnerability that parallels Scripture’s great psalmists.
Acts of Sharing - @actsofsharing | Here’s a new organization worth following because of their stream of good ideas. Their vision is to see churches become a catalyst for sharing stuff to create community, save money and live life—shared. Hardly Normal - @hardlynormal | Sixteen years ago, Mark Horvath was homeless in Hollywood. Today, he works in communications and is an activist for the homeless. He vlogs at InvisiblePeople.tv and blogs at HardlyNormal.com. Charles Lee - @charlestlee | Charles is an ideation strategist, CEO, pastor, runs a nonprofit and hosts conferences. We’re dubbing him the Ryan Seacrest of church-dom because he’s involved in so much. Xianity - @xianity | Xianity’s identity remains anonymous, but the newest funnyman (or woman?) in Christian culture regularly tweets unreal news about religion. It’s the Onion for people going to heaven.
THINK: The entire editorial staff may or may not have cried several times during the viewing of this video.
Be careful not to fill your mind with empty mottos and mantras. Instead fill it with the truth of God’s Word. In 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart, you’ll be greatly encouraged by pastor Rob Morgan as he walks you through an enriching routine you may not have considered. You can also find Scripture memory apps for iPhone and iPad, plus other Scripture memory resources at RobertMorganBooks.com. It’s something worth thinking about.
Available online and at bookstores everywhere RobertMorganBooks.com
WHAT IF JESUS SPOKE TO YOU
IN FIRST PERSON
ABOUT HIS TIME ON EARTH
Read the account of the life and ministry of Jesus that combines all four Gospels into a single narrative and allows Jesus himself to tell you the story.
Available online and at bookstores everywhere BHPublishingGroup.com
INTEGRITY WORSHIP INSTITUTE
ONLINE CAMPUS The premier online worship education experience! LIVE. LEARN. LEAD.
Tour our online campus today at