Archives For Church

Part of the reason I love Twitter is that I can scan it so quickly. Since it’s short, 140 character-max text-only updates, it’s easy to scan and get the highlights. It tends to be just the type and length content I’m looking for many days.

And from a writing standpoint, I love that Twitter forces you to distill what you want to say into 140 characters. You’ve got to cull down the content that you could unpack for 3 pages…into a sentence or two.

So I thought I’d share a few things I have been stewing on. Some of these I’ve found myself needing to stew on because I need to change…others I’ve noticed in others and hope I never see in myself.

These truths could each be pages long, with lots of references to research and theology. But I don’t want to bore you with all of that. :)

Screen Shot 2013-04-23 at 6.51.38 AM

12 tips for pastors. Twitter style.

  • Your family is your primary ministry calling. Other people come and go, but your family sticks around…for better or worse. #PastorTips
  • Quit complaining about people. It makes others wonder when you’ll complain about them. #PastorTips
  • Leading with a heavy hand will leave you with few people to actually lead. #PastorTips
  • Having a seminary degree doesn’t make you a good pastor any more than having a set of clubs makes you a good golfer. Love people. #PastorTips
  • The day you quit recruiting volunteers is the day you should start looking for another job. #PastorTips
  • If you ‘don’t have time for a small group’ then you will ‘have time to look like a hypocrite’ when you lead people to join one. #PastorTips
  • Put the theology book down and read a book on leadership. Your staff will thank you. #PastorTips
  • Work with the door open way more than you work with it closed. People need YOU, not just your ability to study. #PastorTips
  • Little steps in the wrong direction lead to bigger ones. Guard your heart NOW. #PastorTips
  • Encouragement begins when you help people see God at work in them when they don’t see it in themselves. #PastorTips
  • If you’re not leading people towards small group, your view of their spiritual growth is too short-sighted. #PastorTips
  • Quit letting ‘comfort’ drive your decisions. Let faith punch your comfort in the throat. #PastorTips

 Any Twitter-length tips you’d add?

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

Working on a church staff, I deal with “church” people a lot. A lot.

Sometimes, we’re really cool. But sometimes we can be a bit quirky, especially to those outside of the faith. I mean, come on. We sometimes:

  • Overspiritualize everything
  • Spend 8 nights/week at church
  • Close our eyes mid-conversation and mutter things like, “Praise Him!” while raising our hand in the air and shaking it.
  • Brag about the new Bible app we just downloaded.
  • Judge someone for not going to church on Sunday, while we shove deep-fried potatoes down our throats by the handful.

And we tend to be wrong on our assessment of most people who are unbelievers. We think we know them because we used to be one. But we’ve quickly forgotten the way we thought about God, ourselves, and others. We’ve forgotten our past views on church, spirituality, and family. And it hurts our (the Church’s) reputation and perception in our community. It undercuts our opportunities to lead our friends towards Hope.

In turn, we treat them differently.

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 8.50.46 AM

image credit: CreationSwap user Ty Carlson, edits mine

bigot: verb, to treat someone differently based on your spiritual beliefs

We assume certain things about unbelievers that may or may not be true, and that drives our behavior towards them. In other words, we bigot them.

6 easy ways to bigot an unbeliever

1. Assume people hate God.

Most people don’t hate God, and aren’t antagonistic towards Him. They may be antagonistic towards you, and the way you’ve presented, and lived, the Truth. Especially if you’ve been forceful and pesky about it. But most people don’t hate God. Quit thinking that they do.

2. Assume they’re not curious about spiritual things.

Most people have thoughts and opinions about spiritual things. Most also have questions. Not necessarily questions that they want an academic theologian to answer. These are questions that they want you to answer. Some of these questions may be apologetic in nature (like inconsistencies in the Bible, or how the Bible and science line up), but many are much more practical in nature, like what God has to say about how to be a good parent. Or what it looks like to have purpose in life. Quit assuming people aren’t curious. Instead, be ready to give and answer…in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2)

3. Assume they love a good tract.

Nope. Stop it. You know they don’t. You don’t either. If someone stops by your house to try to sell you on something, and they give you a brochure on it, what do you do with that paperwork? You throw it away. *Don’t make sharing your faith harder than it has to be.

4. Assume they love to be preached at.

They don’t. You don’t. Nobody enjoys being preached at, and told why they’re wrong. Nobody wants to hear the 11 reasons, all starting with the letter ‘P,’ why they are being a bad parent, why church is the best place to be on Sunday morning, or why sleeping with their girlfriend is wrong. Instead of preaching at someone, try loving them. That’s a better apologetic anyway.

5. Assume they won’t join your small group.

You’d be surprised how open people are to coming over to your house to eat, study the Bible, and pray. Oftentimes, because of past hurts, people are hesitant to step a foot in a church building. But they’re not hesitant to grow closer to God. You’ve just got to make the ask.

6. Assume they won’t visit your church with you.

If you’ve built a relationship with someone, maybe it’s time to invite them to church with you. Don’t pressure them in to this, but make it relaxed. Maybe invite them to join you for lunch afterwards, or invite them on a Sunday you know will be conducive for people curious about faith. Stop assuming your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family won’t come to church with you. If you’ve done a good job building a relationship with them, loving them despite their shortcomings, you’d be surprised how far down the road of faith that’ll take you.

Can you think of anything else that we wrongly assume about non-Christians that drives our behavior and responses to wards them?

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

My son gets to hang out in my office quite often. I love that he loves it. Maybe his love is rooted in the toys and candy I keep in the bottom drawer, just for him. But maybe it’s because he just genuinely loves me. I’m banking solely on #1 at this point in his life.

This week, though, my wife was out of town, and Rex had to go to work with me all day.

I had to jump on a conference call, and the movie he was watching was a little loud. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind putting some headphones on. Then he gave me this look.

He’s got the sass of his mama. :)

 

photo (1)

One of my goals of fatherhood is to raise a son that doesn’t hate church. It’s not a given reality that my son will grow up loving the Church. As a pastor’s kid, he’s got an uphill battle ahead, especially considering the pastor’s kids I knew growing up. Right now, he’s loving Longhollow, where I’m on staff. But we’ve got a lot of years ahead of us, and I’ve got a lot of work to do to keep us on this path.

My child loving the church his whole life isn’t a given…and neither is it for yours.

Should you ‘force’ your kids to go to church? Or let them choose?

Should you let them go to the main worship service with you when they want? Or put them in the kids area?

Let them wear what they want? Or dress them to the nines?

Here are some intentional actions I’m taking to keep my son from growing up to hate the Church.

8 Ways to Ensure Your Kids Won’t Hate Church

1. Make small group a priority in your life.

Every week, my wife and I go to small group. We help Rex understand how important it is for mommy and daddy to do this, and that through it, we become better parents.

2. Go to churches with amazing children’s ministries.

Check (Grace Community Church) and check (Long Hollow). Without ministries intentionally investing truth, and fun, into my child’s life, why would I expect him to want to come back?

3. Give your family your best time, not just your leftover time.

I don’t want to always come home tired and frustrated and burned out. It’s easy in the church world to give others your best consistently, and forget that your family is your priority. Whether you’re a volunteer or on staff, giving others your best is easy to give your best to others, because they “need” you and constantly affirm you. When you give others your best, you create resentment in your family.

4. Don’t make church attendance an option for your kids.

Our son never has the option of ‘bargaining’ his way out of going to church. Just like he never bargains his way out of going to bed at night or buckling up in his car seat. It’s not that we ‘force’ anything. We just never give him another option. “How dare you force your kids to go to church?!?” Really? Don’t you ‘force’ your kids to go to school? To go to bed? To eat dinner? To go to the doctor?

5. When I’m home, I’m home.

I don’t want him to think that daddy has to “work” all of the time. I want him to know that when I’m home, I’m really home, not just distracted by work. If you don’t work in a church, it might be different for you, but the principle is the same. Don’t be so distracted by ministry that you neglect the ministry right in front of you.

6. Live out your faith at home and at church.

I’m nowhere near perfect in my life, but my faith is real and active at home and at church. We talk about spiritual things at home, read our Bibles, and pray together consistently.

7. Make prayer a regular part of your public, and private, life.

We don’t just pray at church, or when other people are watching us. We pray together as a family even when it’s not what we ‘have’ to do. When all you do is pray at church, and for others to see, you create an unhealthy, hypocritical dynamic for your children.

8. Don’t rip your pastor in front of your kids.

I don’t try to hold our local church, or any, on a pedestal of perfection…but I also guard my words carefully so that my son doesn’t grow up with a jaded view of the bride for whom Christ died. I don’t want him thinking everybody is perfect, but I also don’t want him growing up not trusting anyone.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Do your kids enjoy church? What about you? What did your parents do to help you not hate church?

 

 

 

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

Nobody wants to wreck their ministry. Nobody.

Screen Shot 2013-04-03 at 1.43.14 PM

image credit: CreationSwap user Boaz Crawford

Everybody wants to be a part of a church (or non-profit) that is flourishing. Everybody that steps into ministry wants to be a part of an organization that helps others grow, and take courageous steps of faith. I’ve never met someone who said, “Gee, I’d sure like to ruin some innocent people’s lives today at my church. Let’s get after it!”

But the truth is that wrecking your ministry, and the ministry of others, is easier than you think. Typically, through a series of poor decisions (or a lack of intentionality), a slippery slope leads you quickly to a rocky, muddy ditch.

The good news, though, is that with intentionality, flourishing in ministry is possible.

How to wreck your ministry

Obvious:

  • Have an affair
  • Kill someone
  • Quit praying
  • Develop an illegal addiction

Not so obvious:

Anything you’d add?
 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

Buried in the grave

Ben Reed —  March 30, 2013 — Leave a comment

Buried in the Grave, by All Sons & Daughters, is far-and-away my favorite Easter song right now.

Enjoy!

(lyrics below the video)


 

There was a day we held our breath
And felt the sting of bitter death
When all our hopes were buried in the grave
Our eyes awake our hearts were torn
Between our faith and what we knew
Before our king was buried in the grave

And grace was in the tension
Of everything we’ve lost
Standing empty handed
Shattered by the cross

All we had
All we had
Was a promise like a thread
Holding us keeping us
Oh from fraying at the edge
All we knew
All we knew
Was you said you’d come again
You’d rise up from the dead

There was a day we looked for proof
That you had risen from the tomb
And all our doubts began to roll away
We touched the scars upon your hands
You kept your word
Oh son of man
You buried death by taking on the grave

You came here to save us
Cuz everything was lost
No longer empty handed
Clinging to the cross

All we had
All we had
Was a promise like a thread
Holding us
Keeping us
From fraying at the edge
All we knew
All we knew
Was you said you’d come again
You’d rise up from the dead

It is is won
It is done

All we have
All we have
Is the promise like a thread
Holding us keeping us
Oh from fraying at the edge
All we know
All we know
Is you said you’d come again
You rose up from the dead

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

RebukEncouragement

Ben Reed —  March 20, 2013 — 5 Comments
Screen Shot 2013-03-20 at 9.26.49 AM

image via Amber Sprung, CreationSwap, quote mine

Just the other day, someone was trying to give me a compliment. I think.

It’s great you are able to do ministry like this at such a young age, and be able to learn so much. You’re doing a great job for your age in life.

I smiled and cordially thanked him. My mind racing as he walked away. I kept thinking, “Was that an encouragement? A rebuke? A compliment? A slap in the face?”

A backhanded slap feels a little better when it’s couched with something nice, right? Especially if you can somehow mix God, ministry, theology, and “spiritual growth” all together. It’s kinda like being slapped by a sweet old grandma, while she gives you a kiss on the cheek. It’s kinda sweet. And kinda mean. And you don’t know whether to smile, be angry, run and hide, stand and fight, or curl up in the fetal position.

A few weeks ago, I was told, “For the task you’ve got in front of you, you’re doing well.” Again, I smiled and said thanks, but thought, “What does that even mean? If it were easier, would I not be doing well? If it were harder, would I be an abysmal failure?”

This is probably a reflection of my broken, depraved mind.

But I started thinking if there were other ways of encouraging someone…and backhanding them all at the same time. I came up with a few that we use in the Christian world. I call them “RebukEncouragements.” See what I did there? I brought together two biblical words and…well, you get it.

RebukEncouragements

  • You’re doing a great job for your age.
  • For the task in front of you, you’re doing well.
  • I’m glad God isn’t done with you yet.
  • If God can save you he can save anyone.
  • To pastors: Most pastors aren’t as normal as you are.
  • To pastors: It must be nice having a job where you only have to work one day/week.
  • To pastors: For all of the extra “ministry stuff” you had to do this week, it’s amazing you could have pulled together a sermon at all. I’m glad you at least preached something.
  • God can love someone even as difficult as you.
  • It must be exciting for you that you still have so much to learn.
  • God has used you in my life to teach me patience.
  • Without you I wouldn’t know how to deal with difficult people.
  • I can’t even imagine how God’s going to use you when you grow in maturity.

Anything you’ve heard/said before that is a RebukEncouragement?

 

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

My pastor

Ben Reed —  March 19, 2013 — 4 Comments

My pastor, David Landrith, has just been diagnosed with an incurable cancer. He, and our church, covet your prayers.

 

PrayForDavid.com

#PrayForDavid

The Mission Ahead from Long Hollow Creative on Vimeo.

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

IMG_4048

I love Sunday morning corporate worship. It energizes me to worship with other believers, and be challenged by good, solid preaching.

But corporate gatherings alone will dry me up, spiritually. I need small group life.

You do, too.

Why Small Groups are Vital to Your Spiritual Growth

1. It’s too easy to hide in a large gathering.

It’s tougher to hide in a small group. 

2. It’s too easy to be passive during a sermon.

Wallflowers don’t last long in a small group.

3. There is little to no accountability.

Follow-through is much easier in a small group.

4. We’re prone to think we matter too little.

Small groups remind us that we are loved.

5. We’re prone to think we matter too much.

Small groups remind us that others have problems, too.

6. We’re prone to think, “they need to hear this.”

Small groups challenge us to personally apply Truth.

7. We’re prone to think, “this is only for me…”

Small groups keep us from cycling into destructive self-pity and loathing.

8. When we cry, there’s nobody to ask us, “What’s going on?”

Small groups don’t let tears go unchecked.

9. No food is allowed in most worship gatherings. #Lame.

We eat well in our small group.

10. “Be quiet while the pastor is preaching!”

Small group gives you time to have deep, life-stirring conversations with people.

11. Convictions go unchecked.

When the Spirit moves in small group, you’ve got time to slow down.

12. Specific needs go un-prayed for.

Small groups pray for the specific needs of their group members.

13. There’s no time for questions.

Small groups ask hard questions and allow for discovery.

Are you in a small group? Has it helped you grow spiritually?

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

383569_10151221544390909_1009723194_n

My wife and I are building a house for the first time. It’s the 2nd home we’ve owned, and instead of buying an existing house, we decided to build. People told us we were stupid for doing this. We were moving cities, changing churches, changing jobs, and starting all new relationships. And building meant we’d be living with my in-laws for a season throughout all of this change. (let it be known…my in-laws are saints for putting up with us for this long!)

This has been a fun journey, building our house. And I have learned a few leadership principles along the way. (if you’re a pastor, before you’re critical of me for devaluing theology to leadership, read my thoughts on what I wish seminary had taught me. The Gospel needs to be proclaimed, and its sustainability rests well on the back of good, solid, God-honoring leadership.)

7 Leadership Lessons Pastors Can Learn from Building a House

1. Trust, but don’t abandon.

I trust my builder to do the job right…but that doesn’t mean I just abandon him. I check in, almost daily. Not because I want to micromanage, but to make sure that we’re tracking in the same direction. To make sure that the extra plug we wanted has been put in. To make sure that the trim work was done up to par. The builder is great, but he’s just one person, and we’re in on this project together. Two eyes are better than one.

Pastoral leadership trust doesn’t mean you don’t give accountability, oversight, and direction. Management is essential in leadership.

2. Keep a constant stream of communication.

Working on our house, we have a developer, a builder, electricians, roofers, landscapers, other subcontractors, and various paid laborers. On top of that, we’re working on securing our loan, and there are 3 different people I’m working with there. Lots of streams of work are happening. Without a constant dripping of communication from me, things would quickly get off track, off schedule, and way out of whack.

Good leadership keeps open, active lines of communication moving. When communication seems to dry up, leaders drip water back in.

3. Document where you were so you can celebrate where you’ve been.

Along the way, we’ve taken pictures. We’ve got pictures of our empty lot, the slab, the frame, the guys on the roof, a skid-steer moving dirt in our front yard, and the concrete guys pouring our driveway.

Good pastors help people see where they, and the church as a whole, has been…and where you’re headed. It’s hard to celebrate what you don’t remember.

4. Always keep the end in mind.

Along the way, we’ve had to continually remind ourselves that this process will end in us moving into our home. If we didn’t have that end in mind, I’d go crazy. All of the checking in, the communication, and the pickiness would be worthless if we weren’t actually going to move in one day. I need that reminder!

Leaders help others see what the end goal is. In your church, that may be an increased community engagement, more small groups, an upcoming event, a new building, or student camp. Paint a picture and point people to it often.

5. Be picky when the goal isn’t exactly what you wanted.

Most of the time, the builder has hit exactly the mark we want. But on occasion, he’s missed it. Just the other day, I had to make a correction in our bathroom because something was out of place.

Don’t settle for less-than-perfect when it comes to your overall goal. There will be compromises that you have to make along the way, but at the end of the day, make sure you actually do accomplish the goal you set out for. 

6. A little incentive never hurt.

I dropped the workers a little cash, and they helped me out with a little project in my garage. Happily.

As a leader, celebrate with people! Celebrate steps of faith. Celebrate God’s work in their lives. Because what you celebrate gets replicated. Thank, encourage, and…buy people a gift every once-in-a-while.

7. Don’t give up before the project’s done.

It would have been easy at times to just throw our hands up in the air because this project was taking too long, was too detail-intensive, and was too frustrating. With us being this close to the finish line, I’m thrilled we didn’t give up.

There may be times when you need to give up on certain portions of a project or an event, certain timings, and certain details along the way. But seeing a project to completion is the only real way you can learn what needs to be done better next time. 

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS

Being called out from the pulpit

Ben Reed —  February 12, 2013 — 8 Comments

It’s one thing to be “called out” in a general way because you’re convicted by Truth. That’s the work of the Spirit, and it’s a great thing (though in the moment we don’t always think so).

It’s another thing entirely when you’re specifically “called out” from stage, the sermon stopped, and you’re told “I hope if you’re going to be a preacher that everybody in the audience talks when you preach. You’ll reap what you sow.”

Ouch. (you’ll see that in the video below)

I was called out once for using an electronic Bible. That was fun.

Check out this clip.

Is it ever appropriate to call out somebody publicly, from the pulpit?

 

(HT: Todd Rhoades)

 

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • RSS