Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Why We Need Anonymous, Plodding Church Planters

We don’t need more rock stars. We don’t need more men seeking the limelight. We need more anonymous, plodding church planters who labor faithfully for the spread of the Gospel and the glory of King Jesus.

Silencing God's Megaphone

If your goal is to make Christ famous, instead of yourselves, have we ever wondered if achieving personal fame is the best way to go?

Listen to the Little Guy Too

Here are some reasons we ought to seek out and listen well to (and perhaps even give large public platforms to) the guys who pastor small churches, especially if they’ve been doing it for a while.

Ten Principles for Personal Productivity

I have ten things to say.

3 Ways to Get Involved in Church Planting

Let me encourage you to not adopt the posture of waiting to be involved in church planting. And if you aren't sure where to start, here are three possible ways to get going.

Ten Tips for Leading Church Well

Practically speaking, the person who leads church can have a massive influence, for good or for ill, on the experience. Here’s what we tell our service leaders to aim for on a Sunday.

Reformed “Spotlight”: What is Spiritual Abuse?

Here’s my suggestion to start the conversation, followed by my “exposition."

Ministering to the Sick - Some Practical Considerations

I came across this little list the other day and thought it might prove helpful for young pastors in particular. Much of this I learned from tagging along with my father-in-law to hospital visits during our summer vacations. But this is the kind of stuff every Christian can do.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Clarity

One of the greatest lessons I've learned in the past few years is about clarity. I agree with Will Mancini, self-proclaimed clarity evangelist, who says, "Clarity isn't everything, but it changes everything." I've been learning this lesson in three areas.

Ministry Clarity

When I began the process of church planting, I found myself confused. I began reading all the church planting books. Everyone had a different model, and they were all sure that theirs was right.

I remember closing the books while on a retreat. I pulled out a journal, and began to write about the church I sensed God was calling us to plant. I incorporated insights from what I'd learned, but sensed that I needed to get clear about what God was calling us to do.

Since then I've worked on developing greater clarity with our team using Will Mancini's books Church Unique and God Dreams. We have a one-page summary of our mission, values, strategy, and marks. We also have a one-page planning document that summarizes our five-year vision, three-year vision, and one-year and 90-day initiatives.

I've served in churches that lacked clarity. It cost us. Looking back, I wish we had forced ourselves to wrestle through the process of gaining clarity about what God was calling us to do. Not only would it have prevented pain, but it would have helped our ministry.

Personal Clarity

I knew Will Mancini as the church clarity guy. A couple of years ago I heard Will talk about personal clarity. I attended every session that I could, and became hooked on the idea.

When I heard that Will as leading a personal vision cohort, I jumped in. The process was helpful, and I ended up with a two-page document that I have with me almost all the time. The first page outlines my mission, values, measures, strategy. The second page outlines what I'm working on using different time horizons: 3 years, 1 year, 90 days, and next week.

Here's what I wrote at the end of the process:

Over the years, I’ve tried many tools to help me get personal clarity. Most of them were helpful, but it always felt like I was missing something, or that the tools were too complicated to meaningfully guide my life.  The Younique Personal Vision Journey is the first one that has been comprehensive enough to encompass all of my life, and simple enough to use every day. I have greater clarity than ever before about God’s call on my life, and how to translate this into action.

Business Clarity

My wife and I are working on a new initiative right now. I'm excited about it, and I'll be writing more about it soon. We're working hard at getting clarity about what we are trying to do. I'm finding Business Model Generator helpful. When we're done, we will have a one-page document that outlines our business plan and clarifies what we hope to do.

I love the process of gaining clarity, so that every area of my life — ministry, personal, and business — is summarized in just a few pages. "It’s simple to make things complex, but it’s complex to make things simple," says Mancini. It's hard work to get to simple clarity, but it's worth it.

Visual Theology

We need truth. The problem, though, is that truth is sometimes presented in ugly ways, while falsehood is presented winsomely. It helps us all if truth is offered compellingly, and seen to be both true and beautiful.

This applies to theology. We need to know the truth about God, but we also need to be drawn to its beauty. The best theology feeds the mind, warms the soul, and leads to praise. "We cannot study this subject dispassionately!" writes Wayne Grudem. "We must love all that God is, all that he says and all that he does."

I've been grateful, therefore, for the infographics by Tim Challies and others. They began with this post by Challies in 2008:

Infographics have become all the rage over the past few years and are used to display all manner of information. Last year I found myself wondering if infographics could be used to display theology in a helpful and visually-appealing way. I soon spoke to a few graphic artists and commissioned a series of twelve infographics, each of which dealt with a particular point of theology.

If you've followed Challies, you've benefited from many of these graphics over the years.

Today marks the release of Visual Theology by Tim Challies and Josh Byers. It's a book that presents many of the principles of systematic theology in a clear and beautiful way. It's divided into four sections: grow close to Christ, understand the work of Christ, become like Christ, and live for Christ. It's a book of words, and the words are very good. But the graphics add another layer, "presenting information in fresh, powerful, and attractive ways — and in ways words cannot express."

If the book came without graphics, it would still be a good book. But it comes with graphics, and they are helpful and beautiful. I've been browsing through the book, and love them. My favorites are "How to Put Sin to Death" (pages 96-97) and the "one another" command graphic (pages 136-137). You can see samples of some of the images at the Visual Theology website.

It's the first theology book I've owned that belongs on the coffee table.

I have three recommendations.

First, get this book. Put it somewhere where you'll have opportunity to read it. Although this is a book you can read from start to finish, it's also a book you'll enjoy browsing. Leave it out where you and others will see it, and dip into it often.

Second, give this book to others. I don't know any believer who wouldn't benefit from this book. It's a great introduction to theology for a new believer, and it's a great presentation of theological truth for even the most mature disciple.

My final recommendation is for Tim Challies and Josh Byers. Please continue producing these graphics. I hope that this is the first of many volumes.

Get this book, enjoy and absorb it, and join me in begging Tim and Josh for more.

Find out more at the Visual Theology website | Amazon.com | WTS Books

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

5 Ways to Make It through a Difficult Season

What do we do when we’re in a negative season or environment? Here are five strategies I’ve learned to abide by.

That Smiling Missionary Family

Every time you look at that smiling family on that refrigerator magnet, think about the issues they are facing. There is too much at stake, and the mission they have been called to is far too important to fail.

Navigating Dangers and Temptations in Ministry

There is no simple policy that we can implement to protect us. But there are four principles that should guide us through the dangers and temptations connected to ministry.

The One Passion Every Pastor Must Have

Unless you have a singular, overarching passion that will pull you forward in ministry, it may be best not to pursue it. That passion must be for the gospel and the Great Commission.

My Love/Hate Relationship with Leadership

Everything is not about leadership, but we must recognize leadership impacts every other area.

7 Suggestions for When You Preach About Homosexuality

Here are some points to consider if you are preaching or teaching on homosexuality.

Schedule Meeting Margins

It’s a simple strategy, and, importantly, can be implemented covertly; that is, no one needs to know that you’re adding these extra margins as you fill in your calendar.

1 Comment

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Revitalization

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it's like to be part of revitalizing a church, compared to starting one. Both ministries are needed. We need new churches planted, and we also need to see lots of churches revitalized. The two, by the way, go really well together.

I have the privilege of watching some gifted revitalizers at work in my city. I take off my hat to them, because I know that the work they're doing is both hard and important.

Here's what I wish someone had told me years ago when I first pastored an established church.

Revitalization is hard. Ed Stetzer writes, "Church revitalization does not happen much, but it does happen sometimes. I have been struck by how infrequently it actually occurs" (Planting Missional Churches). Read that over a few times. Thom Rainer says that the most common method of revitalization succeeds only 2% of the time. I wish I'd known that earlier.

The most important issues aren't what you think. The issues go much deeper than updating the worship or making some cosmetic changes. Common issues include spiritual lethargy, dysfunctional patterns of relating, and spiritual pride. Unless you're willing to confront deep issues, and to be unpopular, don't take on this ministry.

Revitalization begins with spiritual renewal. I like what Bill Hogg says: "It’s not about coming up with a plan. The first order of business is to surrender to Jesus. The idea is not to work a plan but to hear from the Lord, and then from dependence upon Him walk in obedience to what he speaks into the life of the church.” Richard Lovelace's Dynamics of Spiritual Life and Jack Miller's Outgrowing the Ingrown Church are great resources here.

You can't do it alone. Just as you can't plant a church alone, you can't lead a church revitalization alone. You need a core group, or as John Kotter calls it, a guiding coalition. These people can be inside the church, or they can come from outside the church, although they would first have to earn trust. You need 10-20% of the church's core engaged in mission and ministry. Never try to lead a revitalization alone.

Look up and outside. Church renewal doesn't happen by pursuing church renewal. It happens by pursuing God and joining him on mission. Get the focus on God and the harvest. Plant a church, or at least partner in doing so; serve the community; lead the church to risk and sacrifice; focus on God and his greatness.

Get your identity from God. If you get your identity from how well the revitalization is going, you will not survive. Get your security from your union with Christ. Go deep into the gospel. The renewal project may fail (see my first point), but the gospel will still be true. Dwell in God's love.

If you've been part of leading a revitalization, I'd love to get your thoughts.

3 Comments

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.