Archive for category Cross Posts
Michael Hyatt recently posted a summary of what he believes is the four keys to effective communication:
- Effective communicators know how to prepare a message with a singular and crystal clear focus.
- If you know where you are going, you can take anyone with you.
- If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.
- Effective communicators know how to read an audience and are able to customize their presentation to make that audience want to listen.
- Until the audience is engaged, communication has not taken place.
- An engaging presentation puts people on the edge of their seats.
- Effective communicators are passionate about their subject.
- They pour every part of their being into the presentation.
- If the subject is not worthy of your passion, it should be distributed in a memo.
- Effective communicators leave the audience no doubt about how to benefit from the objective of the talk.
- They call people to action.
- They make it easy to respond.
I never took a course with Michael, but I have to say that I have long tried to practice these four things. Generally speaking, when I speak I have one single point to get to; I always adapt to the audience; you can always tell if I am passionate about the subject; and no one is ever left with ambiguity about what we are discussing, even when I leave things open-ended.
That’s my own self-evaluation anyway. I am always trying to get better at communicating. What do you think?
The Gospel Coalition had a good article today on the need for the church to include youth in congregations rather than segregating them out as a special “ministry”.
My friend and brother in Christ, Eric Davis shares some thoughts on the way extreme fundamentalism often becomes exactly what it was started to oppose.
Check it out here.
Thanks to GeekRev for posting a link to lifehacker’s quick review of Windows 8′s Metro UI.
I am not a fan of the UI, personally. It probably works great with a phone or tablet, but I can’t imagine working with it on a large screen. I have the same feeling toward the way Apple added the Launchpad from iOS to Mac OS 10.7. It just seems awkward and unnecessary.
Kurt Willems shared this from Tim Hawkins. It made me laugh.
This morning, I want to encourage you to head over to Justin Taylor’s blog and read on “How to Listen to a Sermon”.
This morning, I am reposting an entry from back in February 2009. Back then, the church I mention - Next Level Church - was in its infancy. Since then, NLC has grown to several locations. This was months before we began the merger process that produced Bedford Road Baptist Church, and I was the pastor of one of our seed churches – Heritage Baptist Church. Any references to Heritage still apply to Bedford Road, but I thought I would leave the article intact as originally published. I am reposting because I think the ideas still matter and are worth revisiting.
This week on his blog, my friend Josh Gagnon over at Next Level Church in Dover has been doing a series on the dangers of idolatry in Christian ministry. Thus far, he has hit on three major areas where pastors and Christian leaders can slip into a subtle idolatry.
PART 1: Focusing on the visual impression rather than spiritual brokenness before Jesus
PART 2: Being consumed with how many people come rather than how many lives are changed
PART 3: Trying to trick God into blessing what we’re doing (the tool) rather than seek God first.
Josh’s thoughts are simple, straightforward and definitely worth a think. In fact, I believe every pastor and Christian leader in our current ministry environment needs to ask the questions he is asking.
You can check out his most recent post on youtube:
Some of Josh’s thoughts really resonate with me because I went through a similar exchange of ideas. Those of you who worship with us at Heritage know that we emerged with a different kind of ministry there than Josh and the guys are pursuing at NLC. We’re more stripped down and raw without a lot of the visual elements a lot of churches use – not because those things are wrong. In fact, we think they’re awesome. But in order to keep our focus (at Heritage) on Jesus, we needed to “do without” for awhile because we risked slipping into this subtle idolatry.
I call it a subtle idolatry because it is often an idolatry with the name of GOD or JESUS plastered over it. It is subtle because it is not idolatry in the sense of worshiping an image of another god but of giving God’s name to an image of your own making. It is a subtle mingling of worshiping the true God and satisfying our own needs – whether they are for security or fame or affirmation.
Don’t Fall for the Ole’ Golden Calf Switch
This is the same form of idolatry that Israel’s children engaged in at the foot of Mount Sinai. As soon as Moses was out of sight, they were wondering, “We don’t know what has become of him.” [Exodus 32:1] They had Aaron build a golden calf for them. And why? Because they needed the security of a god they could see.
Don’t miss that. They needed the security of a god they could see. Who was their god up until that point? It wasn’t YHWH; it was Moses. They were following Moses, not Moses’ god. If ever there was a warning to Christian leaders, that’s it. No matter how much credit you give to God, expect people to worship YOU, your wizz-bang, your personality. They will adore you when things are going great (and abandon you as soon as your out of sight).
But what is most fascinating about this whole thing is what Aaron does. Aaron builds their golden calf and then says to them, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt!” Watch his next statement though, “Tomorrow shall be a fear to YHWH!” [Exodus 32:4-5]
(Just as a side note, Aaron built that golden calf with their offerings. You can have financial liquidity and still be practicing subtle idolatry. People are quicker to give to a cause that benefits them than they are to the cause of Christ. Ok, digression done.)
The Weight of Leadership
Most of us are pretty familiar with the story. YHWH tells Moses to go down to the people and leave him alone because YHWH is going to kill the “stiff-necked” people. Moses pleads for them; YHWH shows some leniency and Moses heads down to fix the problem.
Moses shows up, breaks the tablets of that contain the ASHARETH DABARIM (Ten Commandments, literally “the ten words”), kills the rebels and the people move on. This is essentially how it went down, but there’s something that leaders need to read in this as well.
Watch what YHWH says to Moses, “Go down, for your people, who you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the that I commanded them.” [Genesis 32:7, italics mine]
Did all of you leaders out there catch what YHWH said? Despite the fact that the Israelites were violating YHWH’s commands, they were still Moses’ people. Moses was still responsible for his congregation’s failings. Their mistakes weren’t his fault, but it was his job to correct it because he was the shepherd.
It is easy for us to get sucked into the mentality of doing what we think we should do, keeping ourselves true to Jesus and when people start worshiping the idol they call “church”, we think to ourselves, “Well, we didn’t do that. It’s their own fault.” If Moses had thought that way, Israel would have been wiped out in the wilderness – a footnote in history.
Our Potential Golden Calves
Josh’s final post – the video one – really gets to the core of this issue. The modern church growth movement has fed (unintentionally, I think) a mentality that says: whatever works is God’s thing. This simply is not true.
The church of Jesus Christ is founded on the teachings of the apostles – initially a bunch of Galileans screwups who became Jesus’ screwups and eventually submitted to his authority and changed the world. They learned from Jesus how to step into a culture but remain Jesus’ servants.
What are our potential golden calves in our church?
Well, the church (little c) for one. When we worship they way we do it and compare it to how everybody else does it, then we begin to worship our particular manifestation of the kingdom and lose sight of the whole deal.
I’d never do things the way Josh does them. Josh would never do things the way we do them. And neither of us would do things the ways our friends Steve, Rob, or Anthony would do them. More than that, we shouldn’t; and we should not be envious of what God is doing through them. (Josh throws a subtle barb at those kinds of comparisons, calling them “peeing contests” which they are!)
When we (leaders and congregation) see our churches (again, little c) as part of something much bigger, something God-sized we minimize the risk of idolizing our own little manifestations.
Another golden calf? Our wizz-bang. This is my little anachronistic onomatopeia for everything “cool” we do in church, and that’s whether it was cool in 2009, 1959, 1429 or 309. It is easy to worship the visual appearances, the appropriateness of our worship gatherings. It is easy to become divas because we believe that if everything is just right, God will show up. If we’re not careful, we worship the ritual rather than the Lord.
Here are some other golden calves: preaching styles, other preachers, our families, education (or the semblance of such), social causes. The list just goes on an on. I mean, some of us have even made idols out of not making idols. The golden calf does not have to be an actual object. In fact, those are the least prevalent idols in our culture.
I loved Josh’s conclusions. But I’m not going to give them to you. If you want to know where he went with his thoughts, you’ll have to listen yourself.
The guys who lead music for our congregation (it’s mostly men, and we don’t have a “worship leader”) are not like this, but here ya go:
Many of us have wound up in services where the worship leader was either over emotional or way, way too friendly (in a Rock Hudson meets Liberace at Elton John’s place kind of too friendly, if you get my drift).
So, I provide for you an oldie but a goodie – Jon Acuff’s Metrosexual Worship Leader Scorecard. I think it is safe to say that all of our musicians would score very low on this card – which is a good thing, like in golf.
Here is the scorecard for those who don’t want to click the link:
As a service to churches around the world, here is an easy rating system by which to analyze to what degree your worship leader is a metrosexual.
1. Has a faux hawk hair style = +1
2. Has more product in his hair than your wife = +1
3. Has Rob Bell, black rimmed glasses = +1
4. They are not prescription, but just for effect = +2
5. Attends the Catalyst Conference = +3
6. Performs at the Catalyst Conference = +10
7. Owns Puma, Vans or Diesel sneakers = +2 per each pair
8. Wears jeans on stage = +1
9. Wears designer jeans on stage = +2
10. Wears Wrangler or Rustler jeans on stage = -3
11. Has a goatee = +2
12. Wears one of those Castro revolution looking hats = +2
13. Drinks coffee on stage = +1
14. Drinks some kind of coffee you did not know existed = +2
15. Brings a French Press on stage and makes his own coffee during service = +5
16. Has a handlebar mustache = -3
17. Good at Frisbee but hates getting all “sweaty” = +1
18. Has a haircut that covers one of his eyes while singing = +1
19. Owns a white belt = +2
20. Owns suspenders = -3
21. Wears a scarf with a t-shirt = +1
22. Wears a winter knit hat even in the summer = +2
23. You think he covered a My Chemical Romance song last week = +3
24. Drives an Audi or VW, silver of course = +2
25. Uses the words, “postmodern, relevant” or “emergent” nonstop = +2
26. Cringes a little when people say the “H word.” (Hymnal) = +3
27. Has ever said some form of the phrase, “That song is so 1990s” = +1
28. Owns a Grizzly Adams red and black flannel shirt = -2
29. Named his kid after a color or a number = +2
30. References Norwegian punk bands you’ve never heard of = +2
31. Wears a tie = -1
32. Wears a tie as a belt = +2
33. Looks as if he might exfoliate = +2
34. Has a man bag or European Carry All = +2
35. Brings said bag on stage with him = +2
36. Has a tattoo = +2
37. Has a visible tattoo = +4
38. Wife accompanies him on stage and plays tambourine = -4
39. Was formerly in a punk new wave band = +2
40. Knows the names of all the people on the scripted MTV show, “the Hills” = +3
41. Refuses to drink anything but Vitamin Water = +2
42. Your wife ever says, “he needs a barrette for his hair.” = +2
43. Has a nickname with “the” in it, as in “the edge,” = +2
44. Owns every Nooma video = +2
45. Has a soul patch = +3
46. Won’t play barefoot on stage until he gets a pedicure = +2
47. Refers to California as “the left coast” = +2
48. Currently subscribes to Dwell or Details magazine = +2
49. Owns a pair of lady jeans = +2
50. Twitters you from his iPhone = +2
51. His toddler dresses cooler than you = +2
52. He wears graphic t-shirts over button down, long sleeve shirts = +2
53. Ever says “we got a hot mic here” = -4
54. Shops at the Gap = 0
55. Shops at Urban Outfitters = +2
I scored one of the worship leaders at North Point and he did pretty well. At some point I will do a lady version, but for right now, I feel like a 55 item list of analyzing worship leaders is enough to earn me a new batch of “you are weird” emails, and at the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for.
What does your worship leader score?
As I read the article, I identified three things that keep the author returning to the worship gatherings of this congregation.
- The highly relational way people connect
- The celebratory, participatory worship music
- Identifying with other congregants
Despite the fact that she disagrees with the core beliefs in the church, despite the fact that she has no real religious leanings of her own, she participates both in the worship and in a weekly Bible study.
This is a strange case of someone loving the church while not agreeing with its beliefs. The Vineyard is a very evangelistic movement. There is no doubt in my mind that the gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed boldly and often, and yet this young atheist continues to engage with the congregational life. She does it of her own free will.
More that anything else, I think this article should speak to our sense of self as the church. We sometimes get so involved in trying to make people change or to conform people to an ideal Christian mold. We want people to know our language, sing our songs, become “part of our thing” so we don’t have to accommodate them anymore. This is not just unhealthy, it is unbiblical.
We have mentioned the idea of doxological evangelism, that glorifying Jesus through worship and the teaching of the Scriptures is perhaps the best way to share the gospel.
In our postmodern world, trying to compare Christianity to their worldview or assaulting their beliefs in classic apologetics does little or nothing. But glorifying God publicly? Letting the Spirit of God speak through His Word? That does more.
Glorify God in authenticity and truth. Be a true, real community of faith. Invite those “outside” into the community. Believe that where we are gathered, Jesus is present and he is drawing his people to Him. Be ready to answer questions. Be ready to discuss things. Be ready to teach. But also be ready to allow the Spirit to work in His own time.