Field Guide for Volatile Topics

Inspired in part by recent events online, as well as by ministry as a church planter in a post-Christian culture:

  1. Not all topics are equal. You can swing at some subjects with a big stick and nobody will care. Other topics require delicate treatment. Learn finesse.

  2. If you can be misunderstood, you will be misunderstood. Expect that what you say will be taken out of context. Don't be surprised.

  3. Be aware of stereotypes. Know how people will misconstrue your position, and don't reenforce their mistaken beliefs. If you're Canadian, for instance, don't talk about beavers and wear a Mountie hat. If you're complementarian, don't say anything that could remotely be taken as chauvinist. Some people will build straw men; be careful not to hand them straw.

  4. Know that you belong to a camp. Some people hate that camp and are waiting for you to say something stupid. Speak accordingly.

  5. Being a nice guy doesn't count. Your mother, wife, kids, and dog love you; this won't count much for those you offend.

  6. Show grace to those who criticize you. They won't always deserve it, but neither do you. Show grace anyways.

  7. Apologize. Nothing will defuse the situation like an honest apology. People will know if it's sincere or not, so don't try to fake this one.

  8. Move on. Some people will be angry with you anyways. Rest in God's grace.

My guess is that the skill of dealing with volatile topics is going to become even more important than it is now. I'd love to hear your ideas on how we can do so.


Saturday Links

Criticizing Poorly and Poorly Criticized

Thoughtful maturity would take time to listen and hear an individual as a human being beyond their sorts, would recognize their need for the Savior, and would humbly assume that like us, they too need time, grace and room to grow alongside of all that can by grace, already find praise.

You — Shut Your Mouth

A.W. Tozer and many other men of God have had, throughout their ministries, a policy of ‘no attack, no defense’ when the opposition involved unjust or untrue statements from those outside of their own churches. Instead they chose silence, and I believe we should do the same.

Inspired vs. Required

People want to feel part of something bigger than themselves … You are not the “something bigger” they had in mind. But, if you use your position and authority and privilege to inspire them instead, they will do what is required, even the mundane, with pride and commitment…and so will you.

Ministry: It’s Not About You

We are called to be faithful where God plants us. God sees success differently. The first will be last and the last first. We are servants, mere earthen vessels, clay pots, brown paper bags.

Killing the Clergy-Laity Caste System

A new level of ownership must be given to the people of God, and the people of God must embrace what they are given. God's desire is to have a church made up of every day Christians living like missionaries.

Take Courage: You Are Not the First Domino

He is at work before we arrive. Do we realize and rest in this important truth?

J. I. Packer's Advice To Aspiring Writers

  1. Go deep in personal worship.
  2. Write to hit hearts.
  3. Write from a sense of calling.

Daniel in the Lions’ Den (Daniel 6): 2 Ways to Miss the Point

If the story of Daniel in the Lions’ Den is one of the most well known, it is also one of the least understood. Too many view it only as a sentimental story. Below are two ways to miss the point.

21 Things They Don't Tell You About Church Planting

It's been six months and a day since I started the adventure of church planting. We're still early on, but I'm learning lots. Here are 21 things I've learned that they don't tell you about church planting:

  1. Church planting is fun. Really fun.
  2. Church planting is a lot of work. I'm busier now than I was pastoring an established church.
  3. If you plant like you should, you probably won't have as much time for blogging.
  4. Church planting is lonely, especially in the early days when you're doing the work but have little to show for it.
  5. Church planting involves spiritual warfare. I've experienced more of this in six months of church planting than in ten years of pastoring an established church.
  6. The book of Acts is better than all the other church planting books put together.
  7. People will have ideas about what you should be doing. You'll go crazy if you listen to all of them.
  8. Organic types will think you're too institutional. Institutional types will think you're too organic. That's life.
  9. The admin work will catch up with you, even if you try to ignore it.
  10. Outsourcing as much admin work as possible is a really good idea.
  11. People's prayers really count.
  12. People you think will be supportive often aren't, and people you don't think will be supportive often are.
  13. You're going to confront the money issue more than you expect. Don't get into church planting if you're not prepared for the uncertainty of where the money is going to come from.
  14. Church planting involves the whole family.
  15. Other church planters start to make a lot more sense to you when you plant.
  16. Church planting reveals your idols and issues.
  17. You will tell people that you aren't just replicating the traditional church model. They will nod and ask you where your building is and what time you meet.
  18. When you pastor an established church, you have to work at spending time outside of the church world. When you plant a church, that's not a problem.
  19. God surprises you when you least expect it.
  20. Planting and ministry is an overflow of your relationship with Christ.
  21. Planting makes no sense apart from Jesus' promise: "Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

Saturday Links

Talking to Doubters

They need to know that you have been there. They need to see your battle scars with the Lord. They need to see that you have truly wrestled with these issues. They need to see that you walk with a limp too. Otherwise, you are immediately going to be written off as a naive Christian. In our postmodern society, naivety is the greatest disqualifier for your counsel and witness. So it is important that you raise your shirt and show your scar across your heart.

Seven Questions to Help Leaders Avoid Committing Sins of Omission

So how can we leaders make certain we are not seeking the comfort of sameness and committing sins of omission? What checks can we have to remind us that we must ever be vigilant lest we fail as a leader who acts and takes risks? I suggest we constantly ask ourselves these seven questions.

11 Reasons Why Working with Kids is not Second Rate Ministry

Sadly, children’s ministry in the local church can often be seen as second rate ministry, not much more than crowd control and waiting out the clock … So then, in the hopes that more Christians and churches will begin cherishing this ministry and investing in it more copiously, here are11 reasons why children’s ministry is not second rate ministry.

5 Practical Thoughts on Rest

In practical terms, how do we figure out how much time we need for Sabbath rest, and how do we spend that time? The following are a few suggestions or guidelines, by no means exhaustive.

Puddleglum’s Lesson

Lewis’ point was that Christians should obey God even when it looks as though obeying him will make our lives more difficult. We must trust God’s word, rather than how we think things will turn out.

A Triperspectival Approach to Blogging

Triperspectival blogging encourages a balance of head (content, and knowing the truth), heart (subtext, and experiencing the truth), and hands (context, and applying the truth). Where I find blogs become less helpful or useful is when one emphasizes one perspective to the exclusion of others.

Social Media Posting Guide (Free Download)

I knew that a lot of organizations don’t know where to start in terms of a social media posting strategy. I also knew that we could use a constant reference ourselves. For this reason, I created this one-page social media posting guide to serve as a helpful free resource to anyone on the web.