Saturday Links

The Priority of Character

All the causes of either visible or pending failure stem from a failure to cultivate the inner life. Look at the list of the causes of fruitlessness. They are the results of failing to know ourselves, failing to believe the gospel, and forgetting the truth of God’s word. Thus, we must cultivate the work of the inner life.

Awe Puts Us in Our Place

It is hard to overstate the importance of functional awe of God to your ministry. Awe of God is one thing that will keep a church from running off its rails and being diverted by the many agendas that can sidetrack any congregation.

Seven Characteristics of Advancing Leaders

Recently, I made an attempt to summarize seven general characteristics of these leaders who are advancing in their organizations and in life in general. Here are the seven traits I noted, none of which should be a surprise…

Why "It's Not My Fault" Doesn't Cut It in Leadership

Whether or not something is your fault is kind of beside the point: if you’re the leader, you’re actually responsible. And while it’s not your fault every time, sometimes it is your fault, whether you admit it or not. When you fail to admit to yourself that it’s your fault, you will never grow. As long as someone else was to blame, you don’t need to do anything about it.

Where and How Do We Draw the Line?

Everyone wants to be unified in what really matters, agree to disagree on what isn’t as important, and exercise love in all things. But no one seems to agree on what really matters a lot, a little, or not at all. As hard as it can be determining the content of our faith, it can be even harder figuring out where to put our fences.

Church Busy-ness

What if I told you that our church’s busyness could actually be hindering the movement of God in our world? What if I told you that our church busyness could be insulating our church members from the very people Jesus wants Christians to be interacting with?

10 Reasons to Underprogram Your Church

I’m a devotee the “simple church” concept, but I have experienced just how daunting a task it can be to lead the under-programming of my church…

Toward Better Short-Term Missions

In the first article I laid out the history of short-term missions and some of the opportunities it has provided. The second article pointed to some of the problems that surround the enterprise. Now I want to offer a way forward.

How I Coach People into TRUE Missional Leadership

Every leader gets lost and blind in their own world and sometimes the most powerful way to influence leaders is by asking the right questions.

Is Church Membership Biblical?

While it is true that the term church membership is nowhere to be found in the New Testament, it is inferred and assumed throughout. (see also: “trinity”) Membership is not only biblical, but vital to the overall health of every local church.

Three Ways to Build a Better Church Website

Be yourself, serve people and meet them where they are. If your website can do those things, you’ll build a better website and your effectiveness in sharing the Gospel through the Internet will increase dramatically.

The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what's interesting to you as an audience, not what's fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won't see what the story is actually about til you're at the end of it. Now rewrite…

Posted on June 30, 2012 and filed under Links.

Date Your Wife: An Interview with Justin Buzzard

Justin Buzzard is a church planter and blogger. If you're not reading his blog, repent and start now. He's also author of Date Your Wife, which releases this week.

Justin was kind enough to answer some questions about his new book.

Most guys date their wives before marriage. Why do we tend to stop?

Because we're idiots. We think the mission is over. It's not. The real dating — the real adventure, mission, work, and excitement — begins in marriage.

Some guys may think you're about to lay on a guilt trip with this book. Be honest. Are you?

No. Read the endorsements. I hold men responsible for their sin, then pour gospel all over them and encourage them to get busy steering their marriage in a fresh direction.

120627I remember beginning to date my wife again after we had our first child. It was tough! What would you say to couples who are frankly too tired and broke to date?

Exhaustion and financial hardship are weak excuses. Any excuse for not dating your wife is just that, an excuse. That's what I would say: Husband, quit using all these teenage excuses, get your heart back the gospel, get creative, and start taking great care of your wife.

What does the gospel have to do with dating our wives?

Everything. Once a man rediscover how loved, forgiven, and pursued he is by Jesus, he is set free to love his wife in a whole new way. That's what Date Your Wife is all about.

I've enjoyed reading your blog, and it's been exciting to hear about your church plant. How can we pray for you?

I'm in way over my head, having fun and learning a lot planting Garden City Church in Silicon Valley. Pray:

  1. For God to give me wisdom,
  2. For Jesus to save thousands of lives through our church,
  3. For rest and refreshment, I'm kind of tired right now.

Thanks, Justin.

Check out Date Your Wife at Amazon.com.

Posted on June 27, 2012 and filed under Books.

Reflections from an Itinerant Preacher

This year has been a different one for me. Ever since I've begun the process of church planting, I've been an itinerant preacher. Most Sundays I'm visiting a different church and sharing God's Word, as well as the ministry of Liberty Grace Church.

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This has been a mixed blessing. On one hand, I'm very encouraged by what I've seen on Sundays as I visit different churches. If you believe the press, you would think that there's very little good news in churches, especially in a place like Toronto. I've found the opposite to be true. We've discovered that God is at work in incredibly diverse churches. We've visited downtown churches, suburban churches, young churches, old churches, ethnic churches, big churches, small churches, Anglican, Pentecostal, and Baptist churches, and have been surprised at the depth and richness of what we've experienced.

I've enjoyed visiting churches because it's given me a window into what God is doing in our city.

But I miss pastoring! Here is some of what I miss:

  • being part of the rhythms of community life, with all of its highs and lows
  • preaching to a congregation of which I am a part
  • preaching on days like Easter, when guest preachers generally are benched
  • time devoted to study the Word in preparation for preaching
  • the accountability of being part of a particular church

In short, I miss the unique relationship that a pastor has with his congregation.

If you're a pastor, you probably sometimes long to be free from the burdens of your particular congregation, just like parents of teenagers look forward to the day the kids leave home. Here's my advice: Enjoy it. One day you'll miss the highs and lows of being the pastor of a particular congregation. It's not glamourous work, but there's nothing like it.

But I'm encouraged. I'm encouraged because I'm discovering churches that are alive all over the city. And I'm encouraged because I'm looking forward to the congregation that will grow as God gives grace in our church planting efforts in Liberty Village.

Posted on June 26, 2012 and filed under Pastoring.

Saturday Links

Domain of Influence

I’m afraid that we may have bred in the hearts of pastors today a desire for greater platforms instead of greater faithfulness. Humbly accepting our domains of influence and being faithful to them is the key to being content in the ministry God gives us.

The Limping, Elevenish Recipients of the Great Commission

It was never about the quality of the disciples, it was always about the greatness of the King who graciously includes us in His Kingdom work.

The Minimalist Pastoral Library: 19 Book Recommendations for Those Starting Out

If you are just starting to build your library, this list will point you in some helpful directions. If you have a growing library, perhaps a recommendation or two will reveal a title that you haven’t read yet.

The Curse Of Motivational Speaking

Motivational speaking is not biblical preaching. It is a blight on the landscape of true evangelicalism. It is filling the churches with dead people who are being told to live as if they are alive. We need to return to the good old gospel that truly gives life to the dead and sets men and women free.

Three Characteristics of a Good Leader

  1. Good leaders clearly communicate expectations.
  2. Good leaders keep the target stationary.
  3. Good leaders listen to the voices of those they lead.

How 30 Days Without Social Media Changed My Life

30 days ago, I made the decision to give up social media for a month. Well, here I am, reporting that I'm still alive and that the past month has been life changing - the most successful month of my existence.

Posted on June 23, 2012 and filed under Links.