Links for Your Weekend Reading


Patrick Lencioni on The healthiest organizations win.

A healthy organization is one that maintains a cohesive leadership team, establishes clarity about what it stands for, communicates that clarity repetitively, and puts in place processes and systems to reinforce that clarity over time.

 How one church is using orderliness to attract millenials.

Jen Wilkin on Daughters and dating and how to intimidate their suitors.

Here’s the problem with shotgun jokes and applications posted on the fridge: to anyone paying attention, they announce that you fully expect your daughter to have poor judgment. Be assured that your daughter is paying attention. And don’t be shocked if she meets your expectation. You might want to worry less about terrorizing or retro-fitting prospective suitors and worry more about preparing your daughter to choose wisely. And that means building a wall. Instead of intimidating all your daughter’s potential suitors, raise a daughter who intimidates them just fine on her own.

The #1 lie parents believe about social media.

The #1 lie parents believe about social media is that that they have to be as tech savvy as their kids. Why is that a lie? Because you will NEVER be as tech savvy as your kids.

Thom Rainer on 10 tips to becoming a more productive pastor.

Pastors are thus expected to “run the race” constantly. But how can a pastor keep the pace in this marathon of ministry without burning out? How can a pastor remain productive with such demands? Allow me to offer ten tips to becoming a more productive pastor.

6 Tips to getting a better night sleep.

OK GO new song (Always blown away by the creativity of this band and this is incredible)

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Don’t Hide Behind “God Isn’t Moving”


Pastors and churches often find themselves in a predicament. They want their church to grow, they want to see people start following Jesus, marriages saved, people get baptized, use their gifts, but many do not see that happen. What’s worse is when the church down the road sees these things happening, which let’s be honest, simply means they are preaching an easy gospel or at the very least, “watering down the truth.”

Recently, I heard a pastor say, “My church isn’t growing because God isn’t moving.” I heard another church say, “God just isn’t blessing like he used to.” And then they both talked about how hard our culture is towards God, etc.

I’m sorry, but these are simply excuses.

I know, the church down the road has a bigger budget, more staff members, better staff members, cooler music, they have a building, they meet in a school so they don’t have the traditional trappings, they are a church plant, they an established church so people don’t think they are playing church like a church plant.


What pastors and churches uses these excuses for is to push off having to deal with issues as to why a church isn’t healthy or growing.

If people aren’t getting baptized, why not? Is it unclear? If people aren’t taking that first step to follow Jesus, why not? Do you present the gospel each week?

When these thoughts creep into my mind and they do and have. We’ve had weeks at Revolution where I preached to 11 people, our offering was $84, no one responded to anything, we cancelled baptisms and went 6 months without seeing a salvation.

Here are a few questions for pastors, leaders and churches to ask when “God isn’t moving” the way they would like or think he should be:

  1. Is there any sin I or our leaders or church need to confess?
  2. When preaching a sermon, are next steps clear?
  3. Is the gospel clearly presented each week with a call to take that step?
  4. How clear is the strategy of the church? How clear is the next step for a person from sunday morning?
  5. How complex and busy is the church? The busier the harder it is to know what is important.
  6. Are you being the church God called you to be or are you trying to be the church down the road or the one from the conference you just went to?
  7. How clear and compelling is our vision?

Churches that aren’t healthy and effective often don’t have good answers to these questions. Next time, when your church hits a plateau, instead of giving up or getting jealous about the church down the road, celebrate how God is moving at that church and begin working on why God isn’t working in your heart and church the way you’d like to see him.


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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.


Ron Edmondson on 7 suggestions for an effective Easter.

This is an “all hands on deck” Sunday. Plan every detail you possibly can. Plan for and expect excellence. It’s that important. Hopefully by now you have already started talking about it, but people need to know the importance you are placing on the day. Make it a big deal, because it is a big deal.

Forbes ranks the 9 toughest leadership roles. Interesting where pastor and stay-at-home mom landed.

Tim Elmore on The different types of parents and how they affect their kids.

Tragically, this is often the case for many of us.  Instead of learning from our parent’s shortcomings, we echo them in our parenting. The opposite can also be true–in an effort to learn from our parent’s mistakes, we can swing the pendulum too far and commit the opposite error.  Instead of being passive, we smother (or vice versa).

7 reasons preachers should read fiction.

Imagination is a muscle. It needs to be exercised. Unlike movies, books make you use that imagination. When I think of Charles Spurgeon or Jonathan Edwards – what strikes me about their preaching is their vivid imagination.

Sutton Turner on How an executive pastor frees up a lead pastor.

One of the easiest ways an executive pastor can complement the lead pastor is by doing the things the lead pastor isn’t gifted to do. The lead pastor needs to do the things that only he can do, and the executive pastor needs to do the things that he and the lead pastor can both do.

5 reasons why one Christian teen didn’t rebel. Super helpful for parents.

My parents never encouraged any idea of teenage-hood rebellion. They never joked about us rolling our eyes, acting exasperated, or having attitude at all. Rather, they actually made us think that teenagers and the whole rebellion process was stupid and unnecessary. I always figured that I would grow up straight from child to adult, with no “silly teenage stage” in-between. You may think that this is no fun, or that kids need their time to be silly and make mistakes.

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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.


Frank on “It’s okay, it’s not your fault” and other lies our culture tells us.

There doesn’t seem to be an end to the list of things that our culture says are “okay” and that the person in question is not responsible for, such as:

  • being really out of shape
  • getting lousy grades
  • being addicted to drugs, alcohol, or porn
  • not being able to find a job
  • living with your Mom until you’re 50 years old

Tim Chester on How the growth of a church changes the church.

  • We have to accept that the preacher may not be our pastor.
  • We have to work harder at welcoming new people.
  • We have to embrace the face that there’s a greater diversity among us.
  • We have to accept things won’t ‘just happen’ with organization.
  • We have to be more willing to volunteer because initially we may not be working with people we know.
  • We have to communicate better because we can’t rely on word of mouth.

Burk Parsons on Real love wins.

“One of the more loving and merciful things Jesus did was preach on hell. He preached on hell more than He preached on heaven, and He did so in order to point the lost to Himself as the way, the truth, and the life apart from condemnation and eternal punishment in hell—which He created. Although most preachers have not denied the doctrine of hell outright, they might as well have, since it is entirely absent from their sermons . . .”

Scott Williams on Pastors need to keep calm and practice what they preach.

Pastors often preach about rest, worship and time off, while their team members can’t remember the last time they had a day off, attended a worship service or had a couple free weekends with family. Pastors often preach about not comparing ourselves to one another, while obsessing, comparing and ranking themselves to pastors down the street, around the corner and from around the country.

Thom Rainer on 11 of the most common mistakes churches make.

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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.


Lara Croft on Depression and the Pastor’s Wife.

My struggle with depression is not the result of being a pastor’s wife. If my husband was in another vocation I believe I would still struggle. However, being a pastor’s wife intensifies this struggle. The exhausting nature of caring for the church, the temptation to carry the burdens of those who are struggling in our midst, the demands on our time and on our family, and the spiritual battle that we daily face all contribute to exhaustion and vulnerability. This exhaustion is especially intensified as we try to do all of these things in our own strength, apart from God. Therefore, finding pastors and their wives struggling with depression is not uncommon.

Kayla North on May have a compromise? Great parenting advice that we use.

When people hear our kids ask, “May I have a compromise?” they tend to look at us a bit funny. They seem completely confused when we respond to our kids as if their request for a compromise is normal. But at our house it is normal. In fact, it’s a request we hear no less than a dozen times each day.

10 possible reasons your church isn’t growing.

In the end, healthy things grow. The mission of the church at its best throughout the centuries has been an outward mission focused on sharing the love Jesus has for the world with the world.

Chad Pierce on The Religion of Crossfit.

CrossFit is demanding. It can be expensive. It takes time, commitment and a willingness to be pushed beyond your comfort zone. It does not make things easier to get more to sign up. The opposite is true. People are flocking to it because it demands much.

Trevin Wax on Why pastors should engage in social media and what they should know.

Here’s the truth: people are communicating through Tweets, Facebook, and blogs. I recommend pastors join Facebook and Twitter in order to be involved in the conversations of their people.

Brandon Hilgeman on 5 common preaching mistakes.

Being a pastor is hard work. This is especially true for those of us who carry the heavy expectation of preaching a mind-blowing, original sermon every seven days. Because of this difficulty, many pastors make simple preaching mistakes that can be easily corrected. These common mistakes can often be the difference between a memorable message and a forgettable one.

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Links for Your Weekend Reading

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.


My latest post on The Blog of Manly: How to set goals and accomplish them.

Since we’re now into January and the luster of New Years Resolutions has begun to wear off, I felt like its time to share some ideas on how to set goals and keep them. Resolutions are just that, goals. They are hopes for the future. In December we look at our lives, the things we don’t like about them and set a goal to change that specific area of our lives.

The title makes it clear someone is really important—and that someone is you. God is Not Mad at You, Reposition Yourself, Your Best Life Now, Become a Better You, It’s Your Time… I’m noticing a trend here. Someone’s a pretty big deal, and apparently that someone is me. I feel so much better now. It’s advice that could easily be confused with the message from a fortune cookie.

Brian Howard on How to free up 8 hours in your week.

11 traits of churches that will impact the future.

To reach a changing culture, the church needs to change. Rapidly. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t need to change the message. Just the method. One is sacred. The other is not. What isn’t as clear is what the future church will look like, and what kind of characteristics will mark those churches. However, I think a few trends are becoming clear. Not all of these might be correct, but I think the following eleven traits describe the kind of churches that will have a significant impact a decade from now.

Ron Edmondson on 7 ways a wife is injuring her husband without even knowing it.

It’s an emotional injury. Sometimes those are the worst kind of hurts. The person doing the injuring: His wife. And she…most likely…doesn’t even know she’s doing it.

What one pastor would like to ask President Obama concerning abortion.

Let your husband love you. Great words for wives and moms.

I get it. The kids have been climbing on you all day. One or both of your boobs have been exposed 87% of the day and you’re sick of being clawed at, sucked on, licked, punched, kicked, pulled, snotted on, cried on, spit up on, pooped on, and peed on. You’ve wiped butts and noses and counters and walls all day. You’ve battled attitudes and arched backs and Dora the Explorer since dawn and you’re tired. So. So. Tired. I know. I really really do.

Taylor Gahm on The Gift of Inadequacy (This has a warning on language but the ideas he shares are really good)

More NFL Lip Reading (so funny)
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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.


Marrying a Man Who Looks at Porn

Heath Lambert provides a sound answer to an urgent question: Should I marry a man who has a problem with pornography?

Tim Challies on I’m better than you.

I’m kind of a jerk. For as long as I’ve been able to think about myself, my heart, my life, I’ve known that I’m a sinful person. I’ve never doubted the reality of my depravity. And if there ever had been any doubt, being married and having children and immersing myself in a local church has provided all the proof I, and they, need. I’m just plain better than you. Somewhere deep inside I believe it’s true and too often I live and act like it’s true. But lately I’ve been considering one simple and disturbing aspect of this sin: I’m better than you.

How a church grows past 200, 400, & and 800.

I’m going to assume leaders are praying and that the church is biblical and authentic in its mission. I’ll also assume that leaders want to church to grow. But even with all those conditions in place, too many churches just can’t push through. And even once you get past 200, some churches can’t make it past 400 or 800.  Again, not for lack of desire or opportunity. So why can’t they grow? They simply haven’t structured for growth.

Mike Leake on Parenting and the sufficiency of Scripture.

My wife and I poured over article upon article. Book upon book. We were met with rules upon rules. Occasional grace but mostly a list of things to do as a parent and things not to do. We learned about how to biblically discipline. How to shepherd our child’s heart. How to bring up a boy. How to talk to him. How to swaddle him. What not to do. What to do. 30 reasons why pacifiers are the devil incarnate. And 55 reasons why they aren’t. Through all of this reading we developed a theology of parenting. And in that theology of parenting were several rules. If we broke these rules we were being bad parents. (For some reason, a couple of years later I found myself back on Amazon searching for books on grace for parents).

Al Mohler on How to read books.

In the course of any given week, I will read several books. I know how much I thrive on this learning and the intellectual stimulation I get from reading. As my wife and family would be first to tell you, I can read almost anytime, anywhere, under almost any kind of conditions. I have a book with me virtually all the time, and have been known to snatch a few moments for reading at stop lights. No, I do not read while driving (though I must admit that it has been a temptation at times). I took books to high school athletic events when I played in the band. (Heap coals of scorn and nerdliness here). I remember the books; do you remember the games?

You are not a Christian just because you like Jesus.

Jesus is even popular with people who aren’t Christians. He garners a lot of respect from the great men and women of other faiths. The fourteenth Dalai Lama, one of the primary leaders of Tibetan Buddhism, called Jesus “an enlightened person” and heralded him as a master teacher. Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi wrote warmly about Jesus, “The gentle figure of Christ, so patient, so kind, so loving, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retaliate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek, I thought it was a beautiful example of the perfect man.” The renowned scientist Albert Einstein once told The Saturday Evening Post, “I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene [Jesus].… No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” Even the Qur’an refers to Jesus as a prophet and messenger of God.

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.


Thom Rainer on 11 things churches can learn from a church that died.

There was no attempt to reach the community. More and more emphasis was placed on the past. When a church loses its passion to reach the lost, the congregation begins to die.

Aubrey Malphurs on Surviving the busiest season of the year.

Psychologist Dr. Richard Blackmon finds pastors to be “the single most occupationally frustrated group in America” resulting in 30 to 40% of them dropping out of ministry altogether.

14 hints on how to add new service times at your church.

Is your church thinking about adding new service times in the future? We recently interviewed a number of church leaders within the unSeminary community who have led their churches through this change to help extract some helpful hints for you.

Kevin DeYoung on 7 thoughts for pastors writing books.

Rewind my life six years and I would tell you that one of my biggest dreams in life is to get a book published. I hoped that someday, somehow, somewhere, for somebody I would be able to write a book. I never dreamt I would have that opportunity so soon and so often. It’s much more than I deserve.

Thomas Kidd on Why homeschool.

Homeschooling is all too often treated as a monolith: Homeschoolers are either fundamentalists or anarchists, religious extremists or hippies. Rarely, if ever, is it explored as a potential educational setting for so-called “gifted” children–those looking for an academic challenge beyond that which their local educational facilities can provide.

What I Wish I’d Known About Energy, Family & Mistakes


Your energy—spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational—is the most important thing you can give your church, and only you can control it.

It may seem obvious, but this is crucial. Church planters tend to be the driven, entrepreneurial, take-the-hill kind of leaders. They are also usually young, which means they think they have endless amounts of energy. They eat like college freshmen and often sleep like them. It’s unsustainable.

While planting is a busy season, filled with meetings, getting stuff done, making phone calls, rallying a core group, and raising funds, you have to hit the pause button. No one can make you sleep, spend time with Jesus, exercise, or eat well. No one can make sure you have friends—and not just church planting friends, but real friends. If you miss this, the extent of the damage can be huge.

Your energy is the most important thing you can give your church, and only you control it.

Many guys who fail in ministry and sin will tell you that it goes back to not managing one of these areas. Several years ago, I did not manage my energy well and I hit a wall. It slowed our church down, demoralized our leaders, and hurt my family, and it took a year to recover as a church.

The first question I ask my leaders when I coach them is to tell me how they are doing in these four areas: spiritual, emotional, physical, and relational energy. You as the leader set the tone.


Your family has to come first. They need to know it, and so does your church.

Every pastor says their wife and kids are more important than their job, but sometimes it’s not true in practice. Though it happens occasionally, when missing time with your family is the pattern, I believe it is sin. One thing I learned from Eugene Peterson was that he started to call everything he did an “appointment.” If someone asked him to meet and he already had a date planned with his wife or an activity with his kids, he said he had an appointment. No one questions your appointments.

Talk about this up front. In your sermons, lift up your wife and kids—don’t make them sermon illustrations of what not to do. Talk about how you date and pursue your wife, and talk about spending time with your kids. You are the model to men of what it means to be a man, a father, and a husband.


Who you surround yourself with will determine your effectiveness, and the leaders you choose will determine the health and future of your church. This means you must know who you are, your gift mix, what you can and can’t do, and what you do that brings the most glory to God. Then you must look for leaders who complement your gifts.

If you are a strong visionary and can see the future, you must find someone who can think in steps and can see the map, not just the destination. If you love to shepherd people and want to make sure no one falls through the cracks, you’ll need a leader to remind you that sometimes people need hard truth and not coddling.

Your first hire is the most important. Don’t rush this. If someone isn’t working out, don’t wait around. Move quickly to help them find a new role and responsibility. If they don’t line up with your vision and DNA, have the tough conversation. Everyone you start with will not finish with you, and it is naive to think otherwise.


Think twice your size. Too many planters simply want to get started, which is a good goal. As the church gets off the ground, they can quickly move into maintenance mode. They stop thinking ahead and the grind of preaching every week starts to set in.

When before you had dream sessions, now you are having counseling sessions. Before you used to talk about the future, but now you are dealing with what just happened. In this time, it is easy to stop dreaming, stop vision-casting, and just do.

But that is dangerous. At all times, as the leader, you must think twice your size. You must ask, “if we do this, will it keep us from doubling?” Or, “When we are twice our size, will we do that?”


You will make mistakes—so learn from them. In fact, you’ll make mistakes before you have your first core group member. That’s okay. Learn from them.

When we started, we did small groups a certain way. Yet they didn’t give us the results we hoped to get: we weren’t seeing disciples made and community happen. So two years into our church plant, we scrapped what we were doing and started over. That was hard to admit, because we had 85% of our adults in a small group. But we learned.

Today, I know how to shut a ministry down. I can raise $45,000 in a month to make a big move. I know how to kill a worship service. How to start a new worship service. How to hire a leader. How to fire one. How to have tough and easy conversations. You can blow through those experiences, but I would encourage you to go through them slowly, write down what you learned, and process it with someone.

Lastly, get a coach—someone who is steps ahead of you in the journey. Get someone you respect who can speak into your leadership, give advice, and be a sounding board. It is helpful if this person is not at your church so you can be completely honest with them and not hold back.


Commit to outlast everyone. Put down roots and commit to one church and city. When you start a church, it is exciting. Then the hard work starts. People stop coming, someone gets angry, shepherding sets in, and it is hard work. That is why, before you start a church, commit to that church and to that city. Put down roots.

When we started our church, our prayer was that we would die in Tucson. We wanted to give our lives to one church, to one city, and to one movement. We prayed that a million people would follow Jesus because of our church. This commitment has helped when times are the darkest, because sometimes your calling is all you have. You will come back to it, question it, and wonder if you heard God correctly. If you commit to stay, it makes difficult situations a little easier. They still hurt and are painful, but when we hit rough patches, my wife and I would look at each other and say, “We decided to outlast them, so let’s push through.”

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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.


  1. Ed Stetzer on Has Dr. King’s dream come true?
  2. Mark Driscoll on It’s all about the numbers. Really well said.
  3. 6 subtle signs your organization has silos.
  4. Jay Dennis on Pornography and pastors.
  5. 10 questions to ask about your work/life balance.
  6. Perry Noble on The one thing that holds leaders back.
  7. Seeing God in your work.
  8. John Stott on How to preach with authority.
  9. 10 football books leaders should read.
  10. Dave Bruskas on How to rest in ministry.
  11. Donald Miller on People aren’t following you because you aren’t clear.
  12. What Matt Chandler wished he knew when he started ministry. This series is gold for pastors and those entering ministry.