Links to Start the Week

  1. Dave Mathis on The fairy tale of Universalism.
  2. John Piper on How to say what you believe. Really helpful.
  3. George Barna on 6 huge themes emerging in churches from the year 2010. Really insightful research for pastors and leaders.
  4. Andy Stanley on Being a courageous pastor.
  5. 5 things you have to believe and know before you plant a church. If you are thinking about planting a church, this is a good gut check to look at.
  6. A free chapter from the book “For the fame of God’s name.” This book is so good. This chapter is called “Abortion is about God.”
  7. Recently, Tim Keller was interviewed on his book Generous Justice. I’ve nothing but amazing things about the book and it is getting closer and closer to the top of the pile. Here is part 1 and part 2 of the interview.
  8. A primer on reformed theology. This is a great list for those that are curious about reformed theology.
  9. Will Mancini on The 5 horizons of leadership and how to use them.

Links of the Week

  1. The Village Church on Churches planting churches. Right now, we are starting to work through plans to plant our first church as Revolution. I’m hoping this happens in the next 2 – 5 years. This vision is also one of the reasons I am excited about Revolution joining Acts 29.
  2. To your tweets into a journal.
  3. Sam Harris of Fast Company wrote an article about contradictions in the Bible. Justin Holcomb and Matt Perman wrote two great responses to the article. You can read Justin’s here (love Justin’s title Why Fast Company need to do their homework) and Matt’s here. On the same topic, if you have questions about the Bible, how we got it, if there are contradictions in it. A great book to check out is The Big Book of Bible Difficulties.
  4. Is the church afraid of modesty?
  5. Jamie Munson on Leading your family in stewardship. One of the roles of a husband/father is to lead their family. The area of stewardship, how your family spends their money, time and resources all fits under the category of stewardship.
  6. How great leaders aspire action.
  7. Ed Stetzer’s take on George Barna’s research on the resurgence of the reformed camp.
  8. Josh Buice on The troubling view of Joel Osteen. Joel has a new book out and was recently on The View and continued his teaching of not wanting to offend anyone with the gospel.
  9. The journey of Lecrae. If more rap was like Lecrae, I would listen to more rap.
  10. Perry Noble on The price of being a leader.
  11. Is it possible to be too nice as a leader? Ron Edmondson thinks so, great stuff.
  12. Mark Driscoll on Daddy christmas tips. These are great and a must read for every dad.

Thoughts on Burnout, Sleep, Adrenalin, Stress, Sex and Eating

Right now, I am on my summer preaching break. I am very grateful for an elder team who makes it a priority for me to get rest, refreshed, have time to work ahead. I am also grateful for a leadership team who doesn’t miss a beat while I am taking a break from preaching. During this month off from having to prepare a weekly message, I have the opportunity to think about some big picture things for Revolution (things like, what does Revolution look like this fall after we move, in 2011? What is the next mountain for us? What needs to happen for Revolution to continue growing past 200, 300, 500 and beyond?), I’m working on upcoming sermon series and study guides (The Perfect Kid, Ultimate Fighter (2 Timothy) and The Blessed Life (Philippians), our Acts 29 application and I’m jotting out ideas for a book.

Today I was taking a break from studying and writing and I was thinking about stress and pace. Someone left a comment on the blog the other day asking some questions about it and so I thought I would give some thoughts. Right now, one of the books I’m reading is Archibald Hart’s book Adrenalin and Stress and Katie is reading his book on Sleep (I can’t recommend these books high enough). One of the topics I read a lot about in books or magazines has to do with stress, anxiety, adrenalin and ultimately, burnout. The stats on pastor’s making it to the end of their ministry career are dismal. Here are some stats about pastors and their wives according to George Barna and Focus on the Family:

  • 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
  • 50% of pastors’ marriage end in divorce.
  • 80% of pastors and 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors.
  • 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
  • 80% of seminary and bible college graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first 5 years.
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression.
  • Almost 40% polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.
  • 70% said the only time they spend studying the word is when they are preparing their sermons.
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is overworked.
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession.
  • The majority of pastor’s wives surveyed said that the most destructive even that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered the ministry.

Those last two kill me.

What I’ve learned personally, through reading and watching other pastors is that we forget the basics in life. When it comes to stress and adrenalin, we live off of those things in our culture. In fact, according to Hart, not all stress is bad. Some stress can be good, but our bodies need to come down and recuperate. When we have stressful seasons of life and ministry, we need to be aware of it and not stop doing certain things.

Think about it, when we get busy, we cut things out of our lives. It makes sense because we are busy. But the things we cut out first are the things that can help us the most to get through those seasons. For couples to survive marriage without stress, they need a weekly date night. To survive stressful seasons, this becomes even more important. For guys, when the stress level goes up in ministry and life, they need sex for that connection to their wives and that release. Yet, this is one of the first things to go because of being tired, not having date night so their wife is not in the mood, not feeling relationally connected because they are tired. You see how the circle goes. When we are stressed, we eat terribly. We eat quickly, late and do not eat food that is healthy. We drink more caffeine and we drink it later in the day. Even if you claim that caffeine doesn’t affect you, studies show we should not have caffeine after 4pm. Every person needs to have at least 8 – 9 hours of sleep. When a person tells me they can get by on less I look at them and know burnout is not far away.

What about a day off. Even though every pastor preaches Sabbath is good, studies show that pastors rarely take one, let alone a vacation. Our bodies have to have that down time. I have learned that it doesn’t matter if I work 7 days, I actually get more done and better quality of work done if I am taking a day off. Our bodies need it. It reminds us that we are weak, that we need God and that we are not in charge. All good things for leaders to remember.

What is interesting about all of this is that we all know this. In fact, God created us this way. I think it is interesting that many Christians try to prove God wrong. We will be the first human to show God how we can work against his creation when it comes to our health.

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Revolutionary Parenting

For the last few weeks, I’ve been prepping for our next series at Revolution called The Perfect Kid. I have to say, I am really, really excited about this series.

The goal of the series is to look at the topic of parenting and what scripture has to say about it. But we are also going to look at the idea that scripture teaches that as a follower of Jesus, we are a child of God. So, what does God expect from us as his children? One of the books I read for the series was George Barna’s book Revolutionary Parenting. Right off the bat, great title (but I’m biased towards a Revolution).

In the book, Barna and a team of researchers looked for what they called revolutionary parents. Their definition was someone that raised a spiritual champion. How does a family raise a child to love God, be involved in a church and ministry and have that continue after they leave the house. What was most interesting was how each time he pointed out a different attribute he mentioned how this surprised the team of researchers. Meaning, revolutionary parents do not do what everyone else does. It is the simple philosophy, if you want what no one else has, you have to do what no one else does. It applies to parenting as well. Many parents seem content to do what everyone else does when it comes to parenting and then, wonder why they get the same results as everyone else.

This book lined up really well with 3 of the 5 weeks in this series:  your vision and goals for parenting, how you pass on a faith to your kids and the most important thing a parent does (I’ve had a few people guess what I’m talking about on this week, you are welcome to submit your guesses in the comment section).

Overall, this book wasn’t great, there are better parenting books out there. There were some dry sections that kind of went on. But what sets this book apart is that it is based on years of research, and because of that, there were several nuggets in this book that make it worth reading.

The biggest nugget, as well as the main point of our series is what is your goal, your vision for parenting? For many parents, their vision is to get through today. That is not a vision. Katie and I have been spending more and more time talking about what we want our kids to become. Not what we want them to do with their lives, but the kind of people they will become. Whether I realize it or not, I am shaping that in them everyday, I’d rather realize it and make sure I’m okay with who they are shaping up to be.

Revolutionary parents, according to Barna, behave differently, think about influences, friends, schedules, priorities differently. They are more proactive instead of reactive. They have a plan for how they will develop their child’s spiritual journey, how they will pass on their faith. They think through media, movies, friends and how their child will be influenced instead of putting up a bubble or throwing their hands up in surrender.

At the end of the day, parenting is hard work. Only the best survive and from every book I’ve read on parenting, including this one, the best have a plan. It is not accidental how our kids end up (good or bad). Because, as Barna points out, no plan is a plan, just not a good one.

Links of the Week

  1. 18 Questions for a Church Planters Soul (from Acts 29). Great thoughts as the busyness of church can often eclipse our souls.
  2. Tony Morgan on Ministry is messy. This is the beauty and heartache of church. Real life.
  3. Barna’s latest study on generational perspectives of the Bible.
  4. C.J. Mahaney on What precisely is the gospel?
  5. How staff and leaders can set volunteers up for success.
  6. Scot McKnight on OMG and taking the Lord’s name in vain. Is it still a sin if you abbreviate it?

Sam Rainer on How Generations View the Bible

The Barna Group recently released research that reveals how attitudes about Bible usage are changing across generations. They interviewed over 1,000 people in five separate studies. They defined each generation in the study: the Mosaic generation (ages 18 to 25), the Busters (ages 26 to 44), Boomers (ages 45 to 63), and Elders (ages 64-plus).

You can read the full report here, but below are some of the differences they found between generations:

Less Sacred – While most Americans of all ages identify the Bible as sacred, the drop-off among the youngest adults is striking: 9 out of 10 Boomers and Elders described the Bible as sacred, which compares to 8 out of 10 Busters (81%) and just 2 out of 3 Mosaics (67%).

Less Accurate – Young adults are significantly less likely than older adults to strongly agree that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Just 30% of Mosaics and 39% of Busters firmly embraced this view, compared with 46% of Boomers and 58% of Elders.

More Universalism – Among Mosaics, a majority (56%) believes the Bible teaches the same spiritual truths as other sacred texts, which compares with 4 out of 10 Busters and Boomers, and one-third of Elders.

Skepticism of Origins – Another generational difference is that young adults are more likely to express skepticism about the original manuscripts of the Bible than is true of older adults.

Less Engagement – While many young adults are active users of the Bible, the pattern shows a clear generational drop-off – the younger the person, the less likely they are to read the Bible. In particular, Busters and Mosaics are less likely than average to have spent time alone in the last week praying and reading the Bible for at least 15 minutes. Interestingly, none of the four generations were particularly likely to say they aspired to read the Bible more as a means of improving their spiritual lives.

Bible Appetite – Despite the generational decline in many Bible metrics, one departure from the typical pattern is the fact that younger adults, especially Mosaics (19%), express a slightly above-average interest in gaining additional Bible knowledge. This compares with 12% of Boomers and 9% of Elders.

You can read the rest of the post here:  Church Forward

Why People Don’t Give Back to God

“Some people lack the motivation to give away their hard-earned money because the church has failed to provide a compelling vision for how the money will make a difference in the world. These are donors who can find other uses for their money and are not excited about simply handing money over to the church. The second group is those who see their giving as leverage on the future. They withhold money from the church because they do not see a sufficient return on their investment. The third segment is comprised of people who do not realize the church needs their money to be effective. Their church has done an inadequate job of asking for money, so people remain oblivious to the church’s expectations and potential. The fourth group is composed of those who are ignorant of what the Bible teaches about our responsibility to apply God’s resources in ways that affect lives. The final category contains those who are just selfish. They figure they worked hard for their money and it’s theirs to use as they please. Their priorities revolve around their personal needs and desires.” – Barna Research quoted in Money Matters in Church

Links of the Week

  1. Perry Noble nailed it on The spiritual warfare that pastors/leaders and their families often experience. This is right on.
  2. Tim Stevens on how to handle when you grow and when you don’t grow as a church. Interestingly, both can be dangerous in their own ways.
  3. Dan & Chip Heath on Why your gut is more ethical than your brain.
  4. Rick White on Addressing questions regarding gender roles. This is a great article that articulates clearly the complementarian view that I hold to.
  5. Ed Stetzer & George Barna on A church’s size and its theology. Fascinating that the larger the church, the more conservative they tend to be.

Links of the Week

  1. Ed Stetzer on Americans doing it their way. Recently, George Barna came out with some new research on how Americans are connecting to God and there is a surge of creating your own way. This is Ed’s thoughts and how the church should respond.
  2. Perry Noble on Two facts about spiritual warfare part 1, part 2. These are so true and a great look at what a pastor and their family go through.
  3. Church Marketing Sucks on Pick One. Your church can’t be all things, it can be one thing. You have to pick. Even though you think you shouldn’t, your church has already chosen, now, you need to find out what you’ve chosen and become better at that.
  4. Scot McKnight interviews Ruth Haley Barton on The Pastor & Spirituality. Barton’s book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership is a must read for any leader. Too often pastors forget the spiritual side of what they do, this is a great reminder of why your soul is so important.
  5. Dan Reiland on Top 10 hiring lessons. It is easy to forget these when you are excited about filling a spot, but so important to hire the right person.
  6. Sam Rainer on 10 bad church work habits.
  7. Scot McKnight on Christianity vs. Following Jesus. Is there a difference? Did Christianity get off track at some point?