Top 11 Posts of 2015

It feels funny to pick my own favorite posts from the past year. If nothing else, it was interesting to take a step back and read what I've posted over the course of the year and get a sense of what's been on my mind.

Here are eleven of my picks from oldest to newest:

They Fired Jonathan Edwards

The opinion of others surely must matter, but in the end, His evaluation is the only one that counts.

Leah's Babies

All the church planting success or recognition from others will never give me what I am looking for most, and what I already have: the smile and recognition that is mine through the gospel. With that I will be content.

The Legacy of Bob Shaker

A man who loved the Lord set up a bookstore with some of the best books available. He used his humble bookstore as a front of sorts for mentoring countless numbers of pastors, professors, and ordinary Christians. He invested his life and prayed like a man who understood what’s at stake. He did all of this well under the radar.

The Open Kitchen Ministry

There's nowhere to hide in an open kitchen, and maybe that's a good thing.

The Slow, Hard Work Of Making Disciples

Entrusting the gospel to others is slow, hard, painful work. But what else would you want to do with your life?

"The Bible Says" Or "Paul Says"? A Response To Andy Stanley

Stanley loves Scripture, and is clearly a good communicator, and his suggestion has a lot going for it. But I never want to let the listeners escape having to wrestle with the fact that God, not just Paul or James, has spoken, and that we need to listen. We can quote the authors, but let’s never be afraid to say, “The Bible says…”

What Church Plants Have That Established Churches (Often) Don't

Church plants have very little. Yet church plants have a few things that older churches often don't have, and that makes all the difference.

The $100 Church Plant

Instead of dreaming of church plants that require tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, perhaps there is a way to begin with a simple, reproducible model with little overhead for salaries and facilities.

Saying True Things In A True Way

I somehow want to say and hear true things in a way that’s congruent with the truth, even if it means listening to people we tend to overlook, and speaking truth’s we’d rather keep to ourselves.

Is the Revolution Still On?

We all need a small group of those who know our dreams, who know our longings and our prayers,” Os Guiness says. “As time goes by, things slip. We need to hold each other’s feet to the fire.”

Guinness has a pastor-friend who regularly asks him, “Is the revolution still on?”

What Keeps A Church Planter Going?

Church planting is hard, but not necessarily harder than the work that soldiers, athletes, farmers, and small business owners do. If they are willing to put a good part of their lives on the line, why wouldn’t I?

Interviews from 2013

I linked to some of the top posts from this blog in the past year. In reality, some of my favorite posts are the interviews I conducted from the past year. Here's a list:

Planting with New Kingdom Citizens: An Interview with J.D. Payne

Church planting is missionary work. It is more apostolic and less pastoral. It is about raising up new believers, not working to fulfill the desires of long-term Kingdom citizens.

Urban Church Planting: An Interview with Mark Reynolds

I’m also seeing a growing awareness of the need and opportunity in cities for church planters, but we’re still lagging behind in the competencies and proficiencies to do it well.

Ministry in a Post-Christendom Context: An Interview with Barry Parker

We need a radical humility that is grounded in the Saviour of the World because we are not the saviour of anything.

Scholarship and Warmth: An Interview with Bruce Walkte

If my theology does not change my life, it is not good theology, but an idol.

Kutoa — How to Make a Difference for $1 a Month

Kutoa is about people everywhere helping people everywhere because people everywhere matter.

The Ongoing Influence of C.S. Lewis — An Interview with Kathy Keller

Lewis fits into no category, theologically or culturally, and yet he punctures all manner of pompous cultural assumptions of our day.

Top Posts from 2013

A look back at some posts from the past year:

Planting is for Every Church

It's the way to reach new people, and it's the way for the established Church to maintain its vibrancy.

Sabbatical Reflections Three Years Later

Here’s what I can say now, some of which I wouldn’t have realized then.

All That Remains

What will remain in our churches long after we're gone?

Wrestling the Text

I think I know what the text is going to say, but as I study I find out that the text isn't interested in conforming to my ideas. The wrestling match begins.

How Many Hours Should Pastors Work?

There's no place for laziness in the pastorate, but there's no place for capitulating to unhealthy cultural patterns either.

Weakness Evangelism

What if our weaknesses are actually part of the way God wants to use us in ministry?

Going to Pastor an Established Church?

I’d go about pastoring an established church differently than before. Here’s what I would do differently.

Learning Missional Community

I’ve read and listened to a lot of material on missional community, but this is one of the first examples I’ve seen of people living this way in Toronto.

Playing It Safe?

For the past couple of years, I've been thinking a lot about Jesus' famous parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30).

The Forgotten Parts are the Most Important Parts

I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing apart from Jesus' promise of his authority and presence. It's the only way that church planting and evangelism could ever make sense.

Be Famous for Not Trying to be Famous

Be okay with being overlooked. Be okay with getting less than your due, a smaller share than what you had coming.

Hope for Difficult Churches

Learning to deal with churches that attack pastors is, I think, one of the key pieces we need to address if we're going to see revitalization happen more.

Comfort and Contentment

Be on guard against drifting into a life of comfort. At the same time, work hard to develop a life of contentment.

Seven Reasons to Preach God-Centered Messages

Here are seven reasons why God-centered preaching is better than human-centered preaching.

Blogging and Social Media

I've written a short piece for The Institute of Evangelism in Toronto on how and why you should consider starting a blog. Here's an excerpt:

One of the best ways to maintain an online presence is through a blog. Mohler says that we used to think that bloggers were all “twentysomethings in their pyjamas writing online rants.” But blogs are now “one of the most significant platforms for our cultural conversation.” It’s one of history’s “most cost-efficient way of communicating big ideas and solid content. If you are not writing a blog, you should be.”
I agree. Here are four reasons why you should blog...

Read the rest here.

Speaking of web stuff, I was interested to read about how astronaut Chris Hadfield made it onto Twitter:

He initially balked when his sons began preaching the merits of Twitter and Facebook more than three years ago...
During a family Christmas get-together in 2009 his son Evan, who now lives in Germany, and Kyle, who's in China, pointed out that they relied on the Internet to find out what's going on.
They got on his case again when his five-month mission was announced in early September 2010. It was then that they decided to set up his two social-media sites...
Upon his return to Earth this week, Hadfield was hovering around one million Twitter followers and more than 325,000 "Likes" on Facebook.

I'm sure glad his sons got on his case. I'm glad the same thing happened to Tim Keller (except, of course, the part about going into space or singing a David Bowie song). What I should say is that I'm glad his son pushed him onto Twitter.

I agree with Al Mohler.  If you’re not active online, you’re limited in your ministry to those who aren’t online. “That population is shrinking every moment. The clock is ticking.”

RSS for the Top 200 Ministry Blogs

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I'm grateful for the list of the Top 200 Ministry Blogs compiled by ChurchRelevance.com. I always learn a lot from that list every time it's updated.

I've often wished that someone would do the tedious work of taking that list of 200 or so blogs and converting them to a file that I could import into my RSS reader. That would save the work of going through each of the blogs and adding them manually. I finally gave up waiting for someone else to do the work, and did it myself, with a little help.

So here are the files. You can download the complete list, or just the top 100 or 50, or a compressed file with all of these options:

What can you do with these files? Download them by clicking on the link (or right-clicking and saving the file). Import them into your preferred RSS reader like Feedly or Google Reader (while it lasts). Most blog readers support importing a list of blogs in this format. You can also import them into a program like Fever, which is what I plan to do.

Enjoy!