Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Change

Leading can be difficult. It can lead to headaches, heartaches, difficulties, loneliness, and pain. It can also be exhilarating, exciting and filled with incredible joy.

For many pastors, we underestimate the cost of leadership. We think of the cost in terms of suffering or something connected to culture, but many of the costs of leadership will come inside of us or inside of our churches and the people we interact with. Not because they are intentionally out to get us, but because we are all human, and we all struggle with change and being led.

I re-read a few books on my shelf, and Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Change is one of those books.

Let me share three lessons for pastors and leaders, and then I’ll share some favorite quotes.

First, pastors must get to the balcony in their leadership.

Getting to the balcony comes from the idea of being at a dance, and how you experience the dance while you are on the floor versus when you are on the balcony. We experience it differently. The sights, the sounds, the band, our dance partner, the size of the crowd, all of it.

The balcony provides you with a different perspective and experience. Too many leaders only experience their church or business on the dance floor.

This is the white space a leader needs to think, to process, to pray.

The second lesson is to orchestrate the conflict.

Now, for a pastor, this does not sound very pastoral. Yet in relationships, teams, churches, and organizations, conflicts arise. Too often, as the authors point out, we are so attached to our roles that we make ourselves the issue of the conflict instead of something else (not someone else). There’s a crucial difference.

Many times when things have gone awry during conflicts in my leadership, it is because I or another person became the source of the conflict instead of the issue.

Lastly, anchor yourself by separating yourself personally from your role.

Honestly, this is one of the hardest things for me to do because being a pastor is something I love. It is hard to separate that and just be Josh.

When we are not able to separate ourselves from our role as a leader, we do those closest to us and those we lead a disservice.

Here are a few other things that stood out in the book:

  • Exercising leadership can get you into a lot of trouble.
  • People do not resist change, per se. People resist loss.
  • Leadership becomes dangerous, then, when it must confront people with loss.
  • To survive and succeed in exercising leadership, you must work as closely with your opponents as you do with your supporters.
  • People are willing to make sacrifices if they see the reason why.
  • You stay alive in the practice of leadership by reducing the extent to which you become the target of people’s frustrations.
  • Exercising leadership might be understood as disappointing people at a rate they can absorb.
  • If people do not feel the pinch of reality, they are unlikely to feel the need to change.
  • When you lead, people don’t love you or hate you. Mostly they don’t even know you. They love or hate the positions you represent.

Links for Leaders 1/19/18

It’s the weekend…finally. The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Below, you’ll find some articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

Before diving into those, in case you missed them this week. Here are the top 3 posts on my blog this week that I hope you find helpful:

I had a post published on Ministry Pass this week called When You Quit too Soon that got a lot of traction. If you’re struggling to stay engaged in your role, at your church or thinking about leaving a ministry job, I wrote this post to encourage you.

Also, Casey Cease and I released a new podcast this week on self-leadership, weight loss and the role food plays in leadership. I think this is often overlooked by pastors, church planters, and leaders. I hope it helps you reach your goals in 2018!

Now, onto the books, blogs & podcasts I enjoyed this week:

If you’re a reader (and you probably are if you follow my blog), I finished up John Ortberg’s new book this week called I’d Like You More If You Were More Like Me: Getting Real about Getting Close. I’m an 8 on the enneagram, so intimacy and closeness do not come naturally to me. This book was incredibly helpful in that area. If that’s a struggle for you, I’d highly recommend it.

I loved this podcast with Josh Shipp on How to parent annoying kidsNot because I have annoying kids, but because I have kids that can annoy me in my lowest moments as a parent. My annoyance as a parent (and probably yours too) is usually from my lack of patience, lack of sleep or a long day.

If you’re like me, you’re always looking for new leaders, whether that is staff, elders, volunteers. People you can help reach their potential. But how do you find them? Scott Cochrane has 5 helpful ways to spot talent.

You probably have a list of goals for 2018, things you’ll do by the end of the year. But do you have a ‘to not do’ list? You should. Here’s why.

What Really Needs to Change in Your Life

For all of us, something or someone runs our lives. When this happens we find ourselves not living the life God has called us to. When we stop long enough to catch our breath, we realize how tired we are, how much debt we have, how we said yes to things we should have said no to.

If we aren’t careful we simply jump from “I need to lose weight”, to “I need to get out of debt”, to “I need to slow down”, and we try to make changes in those areas. We get on the latest diet, sign up for a financial class or clear our calendar for a week.

If you are like most people who try this approach, a month from now you’ll look up and see the same problem.

The question becomes, “What then?”

In most church counseling sessions we would look at the sins in your life. We would talk about your addiction to porn, your willingness to give your heart and body away in relationships, the pace that you keep, how you go into debt buying stuff you can’t afford, how you always gossip, or why you push yourself and your kids to be the best and attain a certain kind of lifestyle. We often want to move to fixing those things and think, “I’ll just stop doing them.”

If you’ve ever tried this approach, you know it doesn’t work. We can’t simply change our behavior and see lasting change. Until we understand why we do something, change and freedom will continue to elude us.

Have you ever been to a buffet – one where the plates are stacked, and whenever you pull a plate off, they all move up? Think of your life and sins as being like that stack of plates. Most of the time when we sin or hear about sin in a sermon, it is about the plate on top. To see true change, to see the things that crowd out our lives get conquered by the power of Jesus, we have to keep pulling up plates until we get to the last one, what we’ll call the sin under the sin.

If we aren’t careful this sin under the sin starts to drive our lives. What makes this easy to miss is that it is often something good that we give prominence to in our lives. Things like our kids, a job, money, keeping a clean house, retirement, a dream house or another goal.

These things are what drive us to go into debt, to run at an unsustainable pace on our calendar, which leads to an unhealthy lifestyle. This is the why.

Let me put it another way: often when we sin, without realizing it we are looking for meaning. We sin from a place of emptiness.

We sin from a place of wanting to be filled up, a hope to feel better, more alive, a part of something, or to take away the fear of missing out on something.

As well, for many Christians we pursue changing the wrongs things. We change what we see, what is obvious to ourselves and those around us. The image of an iceberg comes to mind.

In How People Change by Paul David Tripp & Timothy Lane said:

Many Christians underestimate the presence and power of indwelling sin. They don’t see how easily entrapped they are in this world full of snares (Galatians 6:1). They don’t grasp the comprehensive nature of the war that is always raging within the heart of every believer (Romans 7). They’re not aware of how prone they are to run after God replacements. They fail to see that their greatest problems exist within them, not outside them.

 The surface of our lives is what we see and present to others. Confidence, fear, approval, control or a drive to succeed. These things come from a place deep within us, we don’t experience change until we get to the source. We don’t experience change until we get to the last plate.

The Drive of the Apostle Paul (and a Pastor)

This post originally appeared on Ministry Pass.

Many pastors and churches like the theology of the Apostle Paul but not his drive and urgency.

Let me explain before you get mad.

 

The Drive of the Apostle Paul (and a Pastor)

In many church circles, the Apostle Paul is held up as a theologian of theologians. In the reformed world, the book of Romans and Ephesians are ones every pastor loves to preach from and talk about. Yet, there is a drive in Paul, an urgency that many pastors do not have.

Why?

Pastors are shepherds. They are to be compassionate, have strong character, care for those in their church, helping and walking with them as they grow in their faith. All of those things are good and true.

In fact, when I bring up the drive of a pastor, urgency in ministry, or even feeling the weight of the church I pastor, someone will quote Jesus and say, “Jesus said he will build his church, not you, Josh.” And that is true, and I wholeheartedly believe that.

But feeling the weight of being a pastorthe calling of being a pastor, having a drive, passion, or urgency for what you do is not the same as not trusting Jesus to build his church.

Consider what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 11:28: And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

Urgency

Throughout Acts we see Paul going into places, causing riots and being thrown in prison. Why? He was urgent about what God had called him to. His passion ran all through him.

As you read through Acts or the letters that Paul wrote, you see a deep care he has for the people he is writing to, the churches he planted and the people he is speaking to. You see him understanding their worldview, doing the hard work of understanding their belief systems, what makes them tick. Why? So he can better share the gospel with them.

As you read his letters, you feel the urgency he has. History will tell us that he spent a lot of time in prison and so was that where his urgency came from? Maybe. But think about the culture we minister in. Is it any less difficult? Is it more secular than the Roman Empire Paul was in? No.

An Example

I’ll give you an example, maybe this is extreme. Recently, a pastor reached out to me on Saturday night asking if I knew anyone who could preach for him the next day. I thought something horrible or catastrophic happened to him or his family, so I asked. Nope. He just didn’t feel it for tomorrow morning was his response.

When I read through Acts, I see a man driven by the passion of redemption that he experienced in Jesus. An urgency that says, “My life is not forever.” The moment Paul stands up to speak, you feel that this might be the last time he preaches.

If you’re a pastor, can you take control of your church and believe that everything rises and falls on your efforts? Yes. Is that a sin? Yes.

A Deep Calling

I also believe you can and should be a pastor who feels a deep calling to your church and your city and feels the weight of what God has called you to. If you don’t, I don’t know if you are serious about what you are doing, because so much hangs in the balance of what God has called you to. Eternities, lives, kids, parents, marriages, careers, hopes, dreams, joys and failures. We are brought into so many holy moments as pastors that we should always feel the weight of.

Remember, feeling the weight of something is different than feeling it is all up to you.

We have a saying at our church that we stole from another church. We tell our volunteers and teams, “Every Sunday is someone’s first Sunday at Revolution.” If you’re a church planter, do you remember your first Sunday? When you arrived at your new job at your new church, do you remember you first Sunday? The butterflies, the wondering if anyone would show up, what they would think, how you would connect, the excitement and passion you had. You probably put a lot of thought, energy, and prayer into that morning and sermon.

Let me ask you, did you put the same energy, prayer, and thought into your last sermon?

Letting Go of Shame

Shame.

We begin to hear it and feel it as children.

Being the last picked for dodgeball, not being asked to the dance, parents telling us “we should be ashamed of ourselves.” Boys don’t feel that. Girls don’t do that.

As adults, it grows and gains ground in our souls.

This doesn’t even scratch the surface that many of us feel from things like abuse, abandonment, divorce, isolation. As we push those down, and they inevitably find their way to the surface, we wonder, “What else am I hiding? What else am I forgetting?”

What we often overlook is how much shame shapes our identity and our lives. It becomes a driving force in our lives, how we work and how we relate to others and God.

In Future Grace: The Purifying Power of the Promises of God, John Piper says shame comes from three causes:

1. Guilt. This is the one many of us know well. The addiction, the hidden sin, the abuse we don’t talk about, the affair, the divorce, the poor parenting, our failure at work and in life. We carry around guilt for ourselves and often without thinking, for others. When guilt becomes public knowledge, we have shame. Now we are known for what we have feared.

2. Shortcomings. Shortcomings and failures are something all of us experience. Some of them are real and others imagined. Some are life shaping, and other shortcomings we simply shrug off. It is the ones that are life shaping that lead to shame. When our frame of mind says, “You are a failure, you aren’t good enough, you aren’t beautiful, strong enough or worthwhile”, we experience shame.

3. Improprieties. These are the experiences in our life where we feel silly, look stupid or are embarrassed. We make a mistake, and it feels like everyone knows about it.

What hope do we have with our shame?

After all, Romans 10:11 tells us that if you are a follower of Jesus, you will not be put to shame. But we feel shame. Many of us see ourselves as shame.

I think Jesus’ first miracle is telling. It is often talked about as a miracle about wine, but more is going on here.

Jesus’ first miracle wasn’t just about wine—it was an act of purification from the Messiah, one that saved people from generations of sin and shame.

It wasn’t until working on a sermon on John 2 that I began to see the significance of Jesus’ first miracle. A miracle that, according to Tim Keller, can be seen as simply fixing a social oversight, but has so much more going on:

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. –John 2:3–11

During this time, marriage was an enormous event. The entire town would be invited and the celebration would last for up to a week. This was not simply about the couple, but was a sign of the strength of the town and community.

For the wine to run out was not a simple party oversight. This would be seen as an insult to the town and the guests. The ramifications of this happening could be felt for decades to come in terms of standing in the community, business dealings, and overall appearance. The shame heaped upon this family would be no small thing. In the same way, the shame in our lives that we carry around often comes from things in our family’s past. We feel the effects of an abusive grandfather we have never met or an alcoholic grandmother who is whispered about.

But Jesus didn’t just change water into wine to save this family from embarrassment and shame.

You see, for the Jewish people, weddings were a sign of the Messiah. Weddings were a picture of his coming, of what heaven would be like. There were also prophecies in Joel, Hosea, and Amos indicating that wine would flow freely over a barren, dry land from the Messiah (Joel 2:24, 3:18; Hosea 14:7; Amos 9:3). This imagery would not be lost on the Jews who saw this miracle.

John also points out that Jesus had them fill up purification jars. This was not what they normally used for wine, as these were the jars the Jews used to cleanse themselves to worship God, to enter the temple, to purify them. Jesus, at a wedding, which is a picture of the Messiah coming, with wine. Using purification jars that are used to make one right with God, turning guilt and shame into joy.

Later in the Gospels, Jesus will bring his disciples together for a Passover meal, hold up wine and declare it to be his blood (Matt. 26:28). Then, in Revelation 21, John tells us that when Jesus returns, it will be as a bridegroom at a wedding (Rev. 21:2).

It is easy for us to miss all this without the history and picture. But, we do another thing that hinders our joy. When we read in the Gospel and Epistles of John about God loving the world or Jesus taking away the sins of the world, we picture “the world,” a globe filled with people. We don’t picture ourselves.

How do we apply this to our lives? Can I suggest six ways to apply this passage and the message of grace that combats our shame?

1. Name your shame. If you don’t name something, it takes ownership of you. This is a crucial step. You must name the hurt, the guilt, the shortcoming, the impropriety, the embarrassment, the abuse, the loss, the misstep, the sin. If you don’t, you stay stuck.

I’ve met countless people who couldn’t say the name of an ex, name the situation of hurt or talk about something. This doesn’t mean that you are a victim or wallow in your pain, but naming something is crucial. Without this first step, the others become difficult to impossible.

The saying, “Whatever we don’t own, owns us”, applies here. This is a crucial, crucial step.

2. Identify the emotions attached to it. Many times when we are hurt, we are an emotional wreck and can’t see a way forward. All we know is that we are hurt, that life isn’t as we’d hoped, but we aren’t sure what to do.

What emotions are attached to your shame? Is it guilt? Loss? Failure? Missed opportunity? Sadness? Hopelessness? Indifference?

Name them.

Name the emotion that goes with your abuse, abandonment, divorce, failed business, dropping out of school, not meeting your expectations or the expectations of someone else.

Often times we feel shame when we have a different emotion attached to it, but shame is far more familiar to us. Do you feel neglected or hurt or sad? What emotion is conjured up from a memory.

3. Confess the sins that are there. Do you always have sin when you feel shameful? No. Sometimes it is misplaced shame. It is shame you have no business owning. You didn’t sin; someone else sinned against you.

Sometimes, though, there is a sin on your part. You may have sinned, and that’s why you feel shame. Sometimes your sin might be holding on to that person or situation.

Sometimes you need to confess that your shame is keeping you from moving forward and keeping you stuck.

Bring those sins to light.

4. Grieve the loss. When we have shame, there is a loss. This loss might be a missed opportunity or missed happiness. It might be bigger than that and be a missed childhood, a loss of your 20’s, a loss of health or job opportunity.

It might be a relationship that will never be, something you can never go back to.

As you think about your shame, what did you lose? What did you miss out on? What did that situation prevent you from doing or experiencing? What hurt do you carry around? What will never be the same because of that situation.

5. Name what you want. This one is new for me, but it has to do with your desires.

Often the reason we stay stuck is because we know what stuck is. We don’t know what the future holds. Beyond that, we don’t know what we actually want.

We carry shame around from a relationship with a father who walked out. Do you want a relationship? Do you want to be in touch?

We carry shame from a failed business. Do you want to get back in the game?

Can you name, in the situation associated with your shame, what you want?

Sadly, many people cannot.

If you can’t name what you want, if you can’t identify a desire, you will struggle to move forward.

6. Identify what God wants you to know about Him. When we carry around shame, we carry around a lie. In identifying that lie, we are identifying the truth that God wants us to know about Him.

If you feel unloved, the truth that God wants you to know is that you are loved. If you feel unwanted, God wants you to know you are wanted. If you feel dirty, God wants you to know the truth that in Him you are clean.

All throughout scripture we are told that God is a Father, that He is as close to us as a mother nursing her child, that God is compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love, gracious, tender, strong and for us.

The list goes on and on.

In that list, though, is the truth, the antidote to your shame and what you need to remind yourself of to move forward and live into the freedom of Jesus.

Freedom is hard.

Let’s be honest, freedom is difficult. Living in sin, shame, guilt and regret is easy. It is what we know. It is where most people live and reside.

Freedom is scary. Freedom is unknown. Freedom leaves us vulnerable. Freedom leaves us not in control.

Yet, this is what it means to be a child of God. To live in freedom. Overflowing freedom.

Getting Unstuck in Life

The fog.

It hits us in our prayer lives. We pray and pray and it seems like nothing happens.

We look for clarity in decisions, figuring out God’s will, what to do with this marital situation, this career move. Do we have kids now, get married now?

The fog.

It comes around us and paralyzes us, and it keeps us stuck.

Life isn’t meant to be a fog. Faith isn’t meant to be a fog.

Are there times when it is difficult to see through something? Yes.

Does God use those times to teach us some incredible lessons? Yes.

One of the best ways that I’ve learned to see through the fog of life and faith is through distance and relationships.

We need distance from what is holding us up or causing a struggle in our lives. We need to remove ourselves from that place and pull back. Mark Batterson says, “Change of place + change of pace = change of perspective”, and he’s right.

Distance allows us to see things in a new perspective. Distance also allows us to let go of things that stress us out or seem difficult. If you look back on your life, you can see how there are some things that were a big deal in the moment, but now you wonder why you lost sleep over it.

That’s the benefit of distance.

The second thing that helps to clear the fog is relationships.

Other people bring a perspective that you don’t have. They are able to see things you don’t and push on things you might miss. They are also able to remind you of truths that you can easily forget. This is crucial as you wrestle through past hurts or navigate a choice that can change your life in dramatic ways (like marriage or a cross country move).

Goals Tip: Focus on 1, Not 5

It’s the time of year when everyone is talking about resolutions or goals.

Some people are only talking about them because they plan to avoid them.

But the reality is, all of us set goals at different times in our lives.

It might be the goal to lose weight, change a relationship, get a new job, ask for a raise or promotion, go back to school, read more and get outside and start a hobby.

Here’s a goal tip.

Focus on one, not five (or two or three or ten).

Too often we set out to change our marriage, help with a child’s school, fix our heart issues or problems, get ahead at work or school, lose weight or get out of debt.

Do you know what that will all take?

Time and energy.

A lot of it.

We often underestimate the cost in those areas when we set a goal or make a change.

Changing your marriage will not happen overnight. You can’t fix a problem that has been growing for 13 years in eight weeks. That pain or hurt you’ve carried around for a decade will not go away from a few counseling sessions.

It will take time.

And we hate that.

Be okay that it might take a year or two for major progress to be seen.

Many of our goals are not one month projects but life altering processes.

It will also take energy, not just physical energy but often emotional energy.

I remember when I lost 130 pounds in 18 months. Yes, it took physical energy and time, but it took a lot of emotional energy as I confronted why I turned to food and the role food played in my life.

This is never easy work.

I think that is why goals often get set aside, because we get into them and see how difficult they’ll be.

But it is also why we choose more than one. If we fail, we shrug and move on.

As you set your goal for the year, and I hope you do,

lay out the time and energy it will take. Ask, “Do I have the time and energy for this? Do I have the bandwidth to tackle this? What needs to change in my schedule, rhythm or outlook for me to move forward on this?”

Let me close with this.

Often we get discouraged not only because we don’t feel like we’re moving forward but because we feel like we are moving backwards or at best standing still. If you have a goal, this isn’t true (even if it feels like it).

Be okay with how long it will take. Enter that process.

But don’t try to short cut it and move past the hard things. It’s okay if you aren’t done, but (and this is key) don’t try to live like it is. Stay engaged in the change that is happening and what is going on in your life.

Christmas is Over, Now What?

I don’t know about you, but there is something about the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. For some of us it is a hopeful, fun time as we look towards the coming year. For others, it is a time of regret from Christmas or simply going through the motions from the holiday.

Some call it the Christmas blues, others chalk it up as getting older. But they are real feelings.

I came across this quote a few years ago, and I feel like it encapsulates what a lot of people feel around Christmas (I can’t remember where I found it):

Christmas Eve. The perfect picture of anticipation: sleepless excitement for something we’ve been waiting for all year. Every year on December 24, my parents let us open a present. This was a teaser, a taste of things to come, and we kids relished it. Of course, it wasn’t much of a surprise – my mom always got us new pajamas, even when we didn’t need them. But still, it was a ritual of hope, one in which we celebrated the gift of giving and the joy of gratitude. Christmas morning. An unfortunate picture of disappointment. I am obviously only one person with his own set of experiences, but as I talk to others, I find similar feelings of frustration. As they get older, many people seem to develop a general distrust toward any day that promises to fill the emptiness they’ve felt all year long. This explains the rise in suicides during this season and why, for some, Christmas is a reminder of the inevitable letdown of life. The unfortunate answer to the question, “Did you get everything you wanted?” is, of course, no. And we feel terrible about this. Why can’t we be happy? Why can’t we be satisfied? Will we ever be content with what we have – with the gifts in our stockings, the toys under the tree? Why is there this constant thirst for more?

As I thought about it today, I started to wonder if we set ourselves up for failure leading up to Christmas. Christmas in many ways can be like a wedding and the letdown afterwards on the honeymoon. Follow me for a second. All of this pressure, build up, energy, stress, thinking and money go into Christmas and a wedding. Then it’s over. The parties, the gifts, family, friends, the tree, decorations, cards, Christmas specials, church services, and meals are over. Then we sit around looking at our gifts, watching our kids play with them and get tired of them and play with them some more.

You wake up on December 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th or 30th and wonder, “What now?”

Here are some things that came to mind as I prayed through this feeling for me that might be helpful for you:

Stop and take a breath. Slow down. December is a mad sprint for most of us. You went to more parties than you can count and ate more calories than you care to remember. You are tired. Take a break. Maybe take a nap. Read a good book, spend some extended time in your Bible. But give some time to slow down. Stop rushing. Sit down.

Get moving. As important as it is to sit down and take a break, it is equally important to get moving. Not in the way you did in December but moving around. Sitting around your house can be depressing after Christmas. You need to get out, take a run, a long walk, or a hike. Exercise. Get moving. I love to take a walk and listen to some good worship music (here’s my favorite playlist for that) and connect with God in creation.

Say thanks. Be thankful for what you have. Remember, someone is grateful with less than what you have. You may not have as much as someone else, but you have what God has seen fit to give you right now. Also, you may not see the next Christmas, or someone you just celebrated with may not see the next Christmas, so savor the moments. That isn’t meant to be depressing but a challenge to enjoy and savor what you have and what you’ve experienced. Take a little longer in those hugs or laughs or cries. We rush through Christmas and miss these moments, and then when family is gone and life is back to normal, we miss them.

Links for Leaders 12/22/17

It’s the weekend…finally (and it’s almost Christmas!!!). The perfect time to grab a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Below, you’ll find some articles I came across this week that I found helpful as a leader and parent and hope you do as well.

Before diving into those, in case you missed them this week. Here are the top 3 posts from my blog this week that I hope you find helpful:

Now, onto the posts I liked:

When should you give your kids a phone and what do you need to know before doing that? These are questions Katie and I are asking right now and this article from parent cue was incredibly helpful.

Christmas Eve is this weekend, which means lots of excitement and guests at many churches across America. But will those guests come back in January? Greg Atkinson who consults with a lot of churches on first impressions and guest services has 8 reasons why they won’t. 

The week between Christmas and New Years should be restful but for many of us, we’ll struggle with that. Here are some ideas to help you rest after Christmas.

What Christmas Tells Us

The emphasis on light in darkness comes form the Christian belief that the world’s hope comes from outside of it. The giving of gifts is a natural response to Jesus’ stupendous act of self-giving, when he laid aside his glory and was born into the human race. The concern for the needy recalls that the Son of God was born not into an aristocratic family but into a poor one. The Lord of the universe identified with the least and the most excluded of the human race. -Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ