Leadership Lessons: World Vision & Same Sex Marriage

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Yesterday, my twitter feed consisted of people reacting to the news that World Vision changed its policy and World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

The reaction, as you would expect, was swift, vicious and all over the map.

Some tweeted about how World Vision has gone off the deep end, how they were ruining their Christian witness and going against the Bible. Others applauded the move and bashed Christians who would stop supporting children with World Vision, because “it’s wrong to say you’re okay with a child going hungry instead of a gay person having a job. That’s hate.”

The whole time I just sat there shaking my head.

In watching this unfold in the last 24 hours, reading several blogs on both sides (that were sometimes helpful and sometimes hurtful), I wanted to share some thoughts for leaders:

  1. Same sex marriage is the issue. Same sex marriage is not going away, no matter what any conservatives hope. It is here to stay. We need to learn how we will live in a culture that is okay with it and encourages it. We need to speak the gospel truth to it, love those struggling with same sex attraction, walk with those who are in relationships, be their friends (as we would a heterosexual couple living together before marriage) and share the truth and beauty of Jesus with them. Almost every person I meet who finds out I’m a Christian or a pastor asks me what I think about same sex marriage. This is the issue. A follower of Jesus needs to learn how to talk about it in a loving, gospel centered way and point to the truth so that the person listening will want to continue talking about it.
  2. Taking a stand, is a stand. I’m surprised by the number of people who seem surprised by the outrage. World Vision said “they are making a narrow policy change.” And that it “is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S. based on this single issue, and nothing more. . . . This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. . . . We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. . . . This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues.” I understand it. The reality is, any stand is a stand. Any decision, even a non-decision of silence, is a decision. By allowing this and not allowing employees to commit adultery, theft, fornication outside of marriage and other things labeled as sins in the Bible, you are saying one is okay and one is not.
  3. Christians need to stand up for other issues as well. I believe the Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman. I’ve also done a lot of reading recently on this issue because in the fall we’re doing a series at Revolution called Why I’m Not a Christian on some of the main things people have against Christianity and one of the weeks will be on “Christians are homophobic.” When homosexuality is talked about in the New Testament, it is often listed with other sins such as sexual immortality, idolaters, adulterers, stealing, and swindlers (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Let’s be against those things as well. It makes no sense how Christians seem to not bat an eye at a heterosexual couple living together before marriage or having sex, or a man cheating his employer by watching March Madness at work instead of working (that’s stealing). Let’s be careful and not just be one issue. Let’s talk about them all.

Should a Christian support world vision? That’s up to you. Christians buy and support organizations all the time that hold to different values and beliefs than they do. They buy food from people in same sex relationships. I realize that Christians say it is different when it is a faith-based organization like World Vision and I understand that and can agree with that. At the end of the day, World Vision is not the only organization that does what it does, so if this is a make or break it issue for you, then support children through another organization. If you stop working with World Vision, tell them in a kind, loving way. Don’t send a mean spirited email with a long list of Bible verses. If you disagree with their decision but choose to continue working with World Vision, tell them that as well.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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John Piper on When we send someone to their death.

Ronnie Smith was shot and killed in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday. He was 33. He was a husband and father. The leaders of his home church have given me permission to respond to his death publicly and carefully. You can read the fuller story at World or in the mainstream media. One of the reasons I want to respond is because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya. Now Anita is a widow, and his son Hosea has lost his father.

Jon Bloom on For all who have ever lost a child.

Suffering. Evil. Death. All of us experience them. They consume the lives of our precious loved ones — sometimes in unspeakably horrible ways. They bend us to the ground and produce tearful groanings too deep for words.

Thom Rainer on One of the biggest mistakes pastors make.

Pastors, I want to talk frankly and, hopefully, with a spirit of love, about one of the biggest mistakes I see many of you make. Most pastors have little emphasis, or sometimes, even knowledge about the content that is taught in groups in their churches.

Jonathan Holmes on Why does he look at pornography.

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

Letting pastors be real.

We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it’s because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we’re creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.

One Family’s Adoption Journey

Top Posts for the Month of November

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If you missed them, here are the top posts for the month of November:

  1. What do Stay-at-Home Mom’s Do All Day?
  2. Accountability
  3. What do you do With Kids in a Missional Community?
  4. Why Doesn’t Revolution Have a Women’s Ministry
  5. Martyrs Read Joel Osteen Tweets!
  6. How to do Crossfit on Your Own
  7. Make Church Memorable
  8. Planning a Preaching Calendar
  9. Interacting with the Opposite Sex as a Pastor
  10. How the Church Should Respond to Homosexuality (and other Sins)

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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Josh Watt on The technology question every parent must answer.

A lot of parents are hesitant to be proactive in their children’s life of technology, because they just can’t keep up with the speed at which it’s changing. Other parents are hesitant, because they haven’t seen good parenting modeled in this area. The other reality is parents are on the front end of parenting the digital generation and frankly we are all learning as we go. Yet there is another hindrance to parents being proactive in their children’s online lives, and it is this inner struggle we all have to varying degrees: “Don’t my kids have the right to some privacy?”

What you need to know as a pastor about the new ruling from the Wisconsin judge concerning housing allowance.

The clergy housing allowance isn’t a government establishment of religion, but just the reverse. The allowance is neutral to all religions. Without it, clergy in small congregations of all sorts would be penalized and harmed.

Andrew Walker on Jesus and the same-sex marriage debate.

If Christians are to support same-sex marriage, they should do so by way of intellectual honesty and acknowledge their abandonment of biblical authority, for there is no reasonable way to deduce from Scripture an exegetical case for same-sex marriage.

Mike Niebauer on Is it actually harder to be a pastor than doing another job?

As a pastor who often hears other ministers teach and preach, I am disturbed by the number of times pastors allude to their jobs as being particularly difficult. Yes, we face many challenges—ministry may involve times of high emotional and spiritual duress—but I don’t think these difficulties merit special recognition with regard to other vocations. After all, being a pastor involves almost no manual labor, which makes it physically easier than most other occupations in history. It doesn’t require a 60- to 80-hour work week, unless you somehow equate longer working hours with more of the Holy Spirit’s presence. And although the emotional and spiritual challenges faced are difficult, teachers and social workers—to take just two examples—face similar or greater obstacles.

Aaron Armstrong on She’s done the impossible.

This weekend, Mark Driscoll broke the Internet in half. Again.

Ron Edmondson on 5 ways for an introvert to survive the holidays.

It’s the holiday season again. I love the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I really do. But, for us introverts, it can also be a very difficult season. We are far more likely to be placed in awkward, uncomfortable situations.

Tim Challies on 10 steps to preach from an iPad.

There are many ways to go about it, but I will tell you about the system I have been using for the past year or so. I have found that it works very well. You need only two programs to do this: Pages and GoodReader (or Word and GoodReader if you use a PC). While I continue to use a full-size iPad, this system will work just as well with the Mini.

Tuesday Morning Book Review || Start with Why

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Every Tuesday morning, I review a book that I read recently. If you missed any, you can read past reviews here. This week’s book is Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (kindle version) by Simon Sinek.

As of today, this is the best book I’ve read all year. This is a book that if you are a leader, you need to read.

The thrust of the book is what Sinek calls The Golden Circle of “Why, what, and how” (see image below).

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Most pastors struggle with this concept. They can talk all day about “what” their church does. They can even tell you the inner workings of “how” their church works. Very few can tell you “why” they do anything. And, if they are seeing the results (“what”) based off of why.

In fact, this is what many churches and pastors do at conferences. They hear a speaker talk about “what” they do a their church, go home and copy it. That church grew because they preach through books of the Bible. That church grew because of video sermons. That church grew because of louder music. Yet, they never ask “why” did that church do that in the first place? What made them have to do that? That’s what the why is.

This book came at the right time for me and was a great reminder. Revolution Church is about to turn 5 years old in a couple of weeks. We are beginning plans to plant our first church in the next year. Our missional communities are growing, more leaders are getting developed. Everything is working. We are seeing results. At this point, it is easy for a church to drift and get fuzzy as Sinek calls it.

Here’s a video of Sinek talking in this topic at TED:

My Arms are Too Short

Last week we got an email that our sweet Mamush had conjunctivitis, so he got eye ointment, it cleared up. This week we got another email saying that he is on a round of antibiotics for pharyngitis, which according to the internet is a sore-throat. I know that it is a small thing, but can you imagine your child not feeling well and you can do NOTHING. I wish I could have brought him home last week so that my arms could hold him while he isn’t feeling well… but my arms are too short.

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In actuality, my arms are too short even for the kids under my roof. Even if I can hold them and kiss their boo-boos and tell them how much I love them, my arms are too short to save their little souls. So I do, for all of my children, the only thing that I can- I cry out to God. I don’t always pray like I want to, like my heart says I should, but that is changing and I know that a prayer can be answered if it is asked in the chaos that is my life, or in those serious times of fasting and solitude. Right now the prayers made while over my kitchen sink with the kids’ noise in the background will have to do. And I feel like God is pleased. Image

(A woman waiting to be healed at the church on top of EntotoMountain; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

I pray that He is pleased to heal Mamush of the discomfort that he is in, that his little heart does not lose hope as he waits for us to return, and that at our return he does not scorn us because he has felt abandoned by us. I pray that Nehemiah continues to meet developmental milestones and we are not burdened by the relationship with his Birth-mom and Birth-dad, but are able to extend grace and know our role.  My prayer for Ashton, is that He will continue to develop into a man of character and substance. For Gavin, I pray that his spirit for adventure and attention does not distract from the calling that you have on his life, that he is able to submit that to You for Your Glory. Ava’s heart is so sweet and helpful, I pray that You would protect it from the arrows of the evil one, and that she is able to grow into a strong women, who’s confidence is not in herself, but in You. Image

(Walking into the church on top of EntotoMountain; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)

This is a great place to start praying daily for your children: http://www.inspiredtoaction.com/wp-content/uploads/kat/I2A_Prayer_Calendar.pdf

If you would like to help us complete our adoption and bring Mamush home as we travel back to Ethiopia in 5-10 weeks, you can donate here. At last count, we still need to raise $5,000.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. What your church can learn from Joel Osteen and his church. While I disagree with much of Osteen’s theology, this article is a great read for pastors and what they can learn from him.
  2. Brian Croft on How a pastors should schedule his week.
  3. How to help your child read with discernment.
  4. Bob Franquiz on The challenges of an introverted pastor. Definitely have applied these in my ministry.
  5. How do Tim Keller, John Piper, Mark Driscoll & Alistair Begg prepare a sermon.
  6. Rich Birch on 5 time wasters for pastors.
  7. What to learn from a church spy. Pastors need to read this.
  8. Doug Wilson on A childish life. Great look at the growing desire of what Time Magazine calls “The Childfree life.”
  9. What the teen choice awards tell us about youth culture. If you don’t read Walt’s blog and you are a parent or a pastor, shame on you.
  10. Sam Storms on Why God doesn’t save everyone.
  11. When you pray with your children, you are teaching them how to pray.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Ben Reed on 18 things you should never, EVER, say to a woman. Solid stuff to keep in mind.
  2. Mark Driscoll on Rick Warren, critics and the hope of God’s Son.
  3. What to say when someone says, “All religions are basically the same.”
  4. Ron Edmondson on What every leader at the top knows, but those in the second chair don’t.
  5. What happens when you don’t manage your time well.
  6. John Piper on Regrets and retirement as he looks back over 33 years of pastoral ministry.
  7. 25 leadership quotes from Catalyst Leader. Really excited to read this book.

How Animals Eat their Food

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.

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  1. Melissa Kruger on Is it better for kids to hear about sex in church or at school? Great point of view from this parent.
  2. Rob Bell on Whether we should call God “mother.” Rob Bell has always challenged my thinking, but he keeps getting further and further into bad theology.
  3. Ed Stetzer on What the changing opinion of same sex marriage in our culture means for churches and pastors. This is a dividing issue. It is not a civil rights issue as some would want you to think. Here are some resources I put together on how a Christians should respond to homosexuality through the lens of the gospel, along with 10 gospel truths about homosexuality.
  4. Seth McBee on How kids learn to follow Jesus.
  5. Brian Howard on Why family meals are so important. I couldn’t agree more.
  6. How to know if you have what it takes to be a preacher.

Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like
  1. The biggest mistake church leaders make.
  2. Christianity Today shares The top 100 things people are giving up for Lent.
  3. Forbes Magazine on The 5 biggest mistakes Steve Jobs made. I love Steve Jobs. As a communicator and leader he made a ton of great choices and was extremely talented. This is a great post on what we can learn from his mistakes.
  4. Thom Rainer on 10 reflections of being a church consultant for a decade. Tons of wisdom here for church leaders.
  5. Daniel Darling on 5 things every son needs to hear from his dad and 5 things every daughter needs to hear from her dad. If you’re a parent, read and re-read these posts. Wow.
  6. Children and the culture of pornography. As a parent, this will be the most disturbing and sad thing you’ll read today. But read it, because it is real.

Drive Thru Invisible Driver Prank