One of the things our church has done, since the very beginning, is carve out one night a month for corporate prayer and song. We call it our monthly prayer night. It's not original, but we're not trying to be original. Our goal is to come before our Father in heaven, together, to ask Him to do above and beyond all we ask, think or imagine (Eph 3:20). I've received a lot of questions about these nights from other pastors. What do they look like? Who leads? How many people turn out? What happens? Why do you do them? If you have any of these questions this is for you. I asked many of the same questions when we were starting out. I was particularly helped by Dave Lomas of Reality | San Francisco. I'm not an expert, but we have learned some things over the last four years that you may find helpful.Read More
This morning we kicked-off a new two-year residency for developing eight potential pastors and church planters within our church. Our hope is to raise-up local elders, church planters and leaders for planting teams - domestically and internationally. We're beginning with a study of Charles Spurgeon's Lectures to My Students as a launch pad for discussing personal spiritual vitality. This week we covered "The Minister's Self-Watch", "The Call to Ministry", "The Preacher's Private Prayer" and "The Minister's Ordinary Conversation." Whether you are currently serving as a pastor, or working through a call to it, you should read this book - and then revisit it regularly. If you want to learn more about rolling out something similar at your church, I encourage you to connect with these guys. Here's a sample of Spurgeon's urgent call to a diligent self-watch.Read More
I'm currently in the middle of two weeks of vacation. One of my goals during this time is to revisit a number of books which have impacted me most (so far) this year. One of those is Sensing Jesus, by Zack Eswine. Before reading this book, I had never heard of Zack and, to be honest, would have judged this book by its cover. However, if I had, I would have missed a treasure trove of gospel-laden wisdom for modern-day pastors ministering in a culture of consumerism and celebrity. If you're involved in ministry (particularly in the US), you should read this. In my mind, this book should be read alongside Dangerous Calling, by Paul Tripp. I have lost track of how many times I have recommended it since I first read it. Here are a handful of my favorite quotes...Read More
I recently wrote a piece, "Six suggestions on how to navigate doubt", for Downtown Cornerstone. Doubt is something I personally encounter, from time to time, and frequently deal with as a pastor of a growing church. Doubt shouldn't be something we ignore, but face directly. But, how do we do that? I wrote this short post to help give a starting point for navigating doubt. Here's an excerpt:
No matter what you believe, if you’re thoughtful and honest, you will face some measure of doubt. Is what I believe true? Can we know what is true? Do I believe what I do because it is true or for other reasons (personal experiences, moral preferences, particular environment, etc)? Have I reasonably considered the other options?
I was recently asked by a friend, who is in the thick of considering the claims of Jesus Christ, “How do followers of Jesus manage doubt? How do you not let doubt swallow you up completely?” Those are good questions, no matter what you believe.
In this post, I’d like to specifically deal with doubt within the context of Christianity. Following Jesus is not an isolated hobby for personal enrichment nor for those merely looking to have their spiritual needs met. Rather, Christianity claims to be the truth of the universe and, if true – and I believe it is – that changes everything. As CS Lewis once said: "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
Our church is currently working its way through First Timothy. One of the major topics the Apostle Paul addresses is leadership, particularly qualifications (1 Tim 3:1-13). One of the questions I get from time to time is, "If I feel called to local church leadership, but know that I am not ready, what should I do in the meantime?" Over time I have put the following thoughts together. While I have potential pastors and deacons in view, as that is what the text addresses, clearly these could apply to any form of leadership at home and/or at the office. Wherever you may land, I have the following eight suggestions...Read More
I have lost track of how many church planting books I have read. I have attended conferences. I have read blogs. I have listened to sermons, workshops and seminars. I have talked to seasoned planters and pastors. I have done my homework. As a novice church planter I was told to focus on: converts, leadership development, missional communities, connecting with city leaders, contextualization, strategic planning, social networking, engaging preaching, membership development, and contemporary worship. Those are all good, even needed. I agree with (most of) them. Yet, in focusing on so many things, it is easy to lose focus on the main thing.Read More
This past summer as I was preparing for our church's covenant membership series I dropped by the Seattle Central Library, located in downtown Seattle, to do some research on the history of Jesus' people in Seattle. What I found shocked me. On the bottom shelf of an isolated rack, located in a quiet corner of the Seattle Room on the top floor, I found a box. It was largely unmarked. I don't know why I decided to open it, but I did. The condition of the box made it evident that it hadn't been opened in some time. The box, about the size of a small shoe box, was packed with hundreds of 3x5 cards.Read More