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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Aaron Armstrong on Encourage your pastor, be fruitful.

How do you encourage your pastor? In some ways, the answer seems obvious. We know we should pray for them (and hopefully we do). We know we should thank them. We know we should find ways to help them (all ideas I’ve discussed here). But there’s another way we can do this—simply, by being fruitful.

Marlena Graves on Raising Christians kids in a sex filled culture.

I believe the porn pandemic and other forms of illicit sex are really a result of our failure to love God and our neighbors. Consequently, we cannot merely fixate on “Don’t do this, don’t do that” instruction or on isolating our children. They need to know deep down why we do what we do or don’t do.

Tim Challies on Stopping an affair before it begins.

At one time or another, most of us witnessed the devastation that comes through infidelity in marriage. We have seen marriages stretched almost to the breaking point and we have seen marriages destroyed by an unfaithful husband or unfaithful wife. Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is simply one step in a long chain of events, one decision in a long series of poor decisions.

10 Ways to leverage Christmas to reach unchurched people.

So…how are you leveraging Christmas to reach unchurched people? After all, there is really only one time of year left in Western culture when our culture still celebrates something Christians hold dear, and that’s Christmas. What surprising is that many churches don’t really leverage it to make the impact it could.

David Murrow on How to preach to men.

It’s been said that a good sermon is like a good skirt: long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep you interested.

Thom Rainer on 6 pastoral lessons from the coach of a football team that never punts.

The joy, work and beauty of motherhood.

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.

book

Thom Rainer on Pastors and vacations.

Two years ago I spoke to a pastor about his church. After he shared with me all the areas in which he had been involved and the ministries he led, I asked him an innocent question: When do you take vacation? His answer flabbergasted me. “I don’t,” he said. I thought maybe he had misunderstood me, so I clarified. In the past six years that you have served as pastor, when did you take a vacation? “I haven’t,” he reiterated. I had heard him right the first time. This pastor had deprived himself and his family for the past six years. I anticipated burnout was not far away. Unfortunately, I was right.

A peek inside Max Lucado’s writing process.

Max is the author of almost 100 books with more than 80 million copies in print. There are probably less than five authors in the world who are that prolific—or that successful. It’s mind-boggling.

Paul Levy on Success in ministry is dangerous, accountability doesn’t work and other thoughts on falling from grace.

Recently I’ve spent some time with two friends who were in ministry but have fallen morally and so now find themselves out of a job that they loved, separated from their families and, in all honesty, struggling. I’ve showed what I’ve written to them and I wouldn’t say they were overjoyed at what I had to say but both agreed I could put this on here.

David Murrow on Holiday services and men.

Why are holiday services, which draw huge numbers of irreligious men, so ineffective at engaging them? I believe that holiday services are, by their very nature, poorly suited for men. They tend to hide the church’s greater mission under a mountain of religious tradition and ceremony. Holiday services also give men a skewed perspective on what the gospel is all about.

Kara Powell on What your calendar says about your view of God.

If I want to find out what a leader thinks about God, I don’t look at their prayer journal or their preaching. I look at their calendar. Everyone I know grapples with busyness. It’s often how we define ourselves. When someone asks us, “How are you?” our default answer is frequently one word: “Busy”. This busyness cuts across boundaries of faith, vocation, and socio-economic status.

Shawn Wood on His sermon prep system.

The job of a church planter and pastor has a lot of moving parts, but for me, the biggest of them is my time preparing to preach.

James MacDonald on When men act like men.

Everywhere you look, men are in trouble—falling to superficiality, entertainment lifestyles, sensuality, secularism, lives lived apart from God, reaping for themselves and their families the harvest of what they have sown. Someone needs to throw men a life line. Men are are sinking, and only Jesus Christ can save them. Christ Himself must invade the territory of men’s hearts and rule without rival or equal.

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.

book

  1. Yancey Arrington on The grace of repenting to your kids. We do confession each night together as a family and it is becoming an important practice in our family when we reconcile with each other.
  2. Removing the lid of your organization.
  3. Tony Morgan on 10 things people want before they start to give at your church.
  4. Ron Edmondson on 7 ways to protect a pastor’s kid.
  5. The leader who can’t let go.
  6. Mike Leake on 5 reasons why our small groups stopped doing book studies and why I’m glad about it. We do sermon based discussions in our missional communities and it is the healthiest thing our church does.
  7. Jonathan Dodson on Sermon prep.
  8. One reason why parents (especially men) church attendance is declining.

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

Links of the Week

  1. Matt Chandler on “Success” is a hollow goal
  2. To get ahead, do what others don’t do. This is a helpful list. 
  3. Download a free album from Page CXVI. If you don’t know this band, you should. They put out some great mixes of hymns. 
  4. Michael Hyatt on 5 Reasons Why You Should Take A Nap Every Day.
  5. Easter services and men. Great insight here for pastors and churches. 

Links of the Week

  1. 6 reasons why people don’t attend your church.
  2. David Murrow on How your church can free your pastor up to reach men. I’m grateful that Revolution has embraced the vision of reaching men, more churches need to do that.
  3. Bob Kauflin on How you address modesty.
  4. Will Mancini on 4 personal hazards to pastoring a growing church. Some really helpful things here.
  5. Jon Ferguson on Making the ask part 1 and part 2. This is a section from his book Exponential that was incredibly helpful to me. Making a big ask of someone that is busy, doing a lot, but high capacity is hard, but so important for a leader of a growing church.
  6. Tim Keller on Leadership & church size dynamics. Helpful stuff as always from Keller.
  7. Jared Wilson on Steps to a grace driven marriage.
  8. Ed Stetzer on the myth of teenage rebellion.

What Guides Revolution #9 [Rewind]

On January 9th, we launched a brand new series on the book of Nehemiah called Building a City Within the City. Every church, organization or family has a list of seen and unseen things that guide decisions, what they value and how they function. Since we have so many new people at Revolution, I thought it would be good to share what guides us.

#9:  We will target men.

Whether you realize it or not, every church and organization has a target. I hear pastors say all the time, “We’re trying to reach everyone.” This sounds right and biblical, but is not possible. Whether a church admits it, they have a target.

What kind of music is played?

How loud is it?

What is the preaching like?

What is the dress like?

How much money and manpower is spent on kids and student ministries?

What time are the services?

These are just a few basic questions. Another way to figure out your target if you don’t know, look at who is coming to your church.

When we started Revolution, we looked at this idea and we looked at who we could best reach with the people already in our church, who was on our heart and who didn’t go to church. Across the nation, the least likely group to go to church are 20 – 40 year old men. So we set out to reach them.

When we think about sermon ideas, music, videos, how we do church, we filter it through the lens of a 20 – 40 year old man.

This gets misinterpreted as “Revolution doesn’t like women.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here is one thing that is true about churches. When it comes to graphics, sermons, songs, atmosphere. Women like what men like, but men don’t like what women like. Don’t believe me? Ask a man.

This was brought home to me yesterday. We were hanging out with some new Revolutionaries and she said that before coming to Revolution she was told, “we don’t like women.” We talked with them about it and she shared some of her thoughts about it. I mentioned, that if a woman gets connected at a church in women’s ministry and gets her spiritual needs met, not only does this keep her husband from having to fulfill his God given role as the spiritual leader of the family, but it will keep him from getting connected at that church. He will come home from work, feel tired and think to himself, “She’s connected, I’m tired, so we don’t need to do anything else at church.”

At this point, most women will speak up in disagreement. Yet (and her husband did this), almost all men will say, “That is exactly true.”

Ask most Christian husbands why they aren’t more involved at church and they will eventually tell you it is because they don’t need to be because she is. He is “So and so’s husband.” Too many churches by looking through the lens of women have actually created a place where a man doesn’t want to or feel connected to. (A great book on this is David Murrow’s Why men hate going to church).

The funny thing is that if I didn’t tell you this was our target, you might not be able to tell. We try to do it in subtle ways, but the reality is women will go to church with a man, but it doesn’t always happen the other way around. In fact, I can’t tell you how many women have come up to me and said, “This is the first church my husband likes.”

We believe that biblically, the husband is to lovingly lead his house, he is to pastor his wife (and kids), he is responsible to God for the spiritual well-being of his wife and kids and will one day make an account for this before God. Not the woman. This doesn’t mean that men rule over their wives in a domineering way or always get there way. Men are called to love and serve their wives and kids. But they are also called to lead them spiritually. That’s what we want to do, call men to fulfill their roles and responsibility. We want men to be men.

If we pull this off, we will be the most family friendly church in Tucson.

What Guides Revolution #9

Every church, organization or family has a list of seen and unseen things that guide decisions, what they value and how they function. Since we have so many new people at Revolution, I thought it would be good to share what guides us.

#9:  We will target men.

Whether you realize it or not, every church and organization has a target. I hear pastors say all the time, “We’re trying to reach everyone.” This sounds right and biblical, but is not possible. Whether a church admits it, they have a target.

What kind of music is played?

How loud is it?

What is the preaching like?

What is the dress like?

How much money and manpower is spent on kids and student ministries?

What time are the services?

These are just a few basic questions. Another way to figure out your target if you don’t know, look at who is coming to your church.

When we started Revolution, we looked at this idea and we looked at who we could best reach with the people already in our church, who was on our heart and who didn’t go to church. Across the nation, the least likely group to go to church are 20 – 40 year old men. So we set out to reach them.

When we think about sermon ideas, music, videos, how we do church, we filter it through the lens of a 20 – 40 year old man.

We still try to reach women, we still try to reach men over 40. But the reality is that we are best positioned and feel called to reach this group. The reality is that women will go to something men like when it comes to church, but it rarely works the other way around. A great book on this is David Murrow’s Why men hate going to church. This book got us moving down this track. The funny thing is that if I didn’t tell you this was our target, you might not be able to tell. We try to do it in subtle ways, but the reality is women will go to church with a man, but it doesn’t always happen the other way around.

Here is what is funny about this, the only people to ever give us pushback on this idea are people who don’t attend Revolution. In fact, I can’t tell you how many women have come up to me and said, “This is the first church my husband likes.”

I believe that biblically, the husband is to lead his house, he is responsible to God for the spiritual well-being of his wife and kids and will one day make an account for this before God. Not the woman. This doesn’t mean that men rule over their wives in a domineering way or always get there. Men are called to love and serve their wives and kids. But they are also called to lead them spiritually. That’s what we want to do, call men to fulfill their roles and responsibility. We want men to be men.

A Search for What is Real: Does Prayer Really Work?

Today was the last day of our series through the book of James. We have been looking at what makes a real faith, a real spirituality. Today we talked about whether or not prayer really works? Is there a formula you have to follow? Why do some prayers get answered and others “don’t?” What about ‘unanswered’ prayer?

Personally, I think there is no such thing as unanswered prayerd. We may not get the answer we want, but we get an answer. The one thing I have learned is that prayer is more about changing me than changing God. When we ask questions, does prayer change God’s mind? While a good question, I think it misses the mark.

For many people though, prayer is an intimidating thing. How do you do it? Where do you start? In his book, Why men hate going to church, David Murrow said, “Have you ever noticed how Christians speak conversationally to each other, but they speak strangely to God? For example, some faith groups expect people to pray in Elizabethan English: “We beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thou wouldst shew Thyself amongst us this day.” Others repeat God’s name again and again in prayer, like a mantra. “Lord, we just thank You, Lord, for this day, Lord, and Lord, we just ask You, Lord, to bless us Lord.” Would you call a friend and say, “Helen, how are you, Helen? Helen, would you like to go to lunch, Helen? Okay, Helen, see you at noon, Helen”? Helen would think you were nuts.

Prayer is supposed to be a conversation between two friends, us and God. Or our community and God. It should be simply talking and listening with God. Just like you would talk and listen to anyone.

O. Hallesby, who was a Norwegian Theologian during World War 2 said, “To pray is to let Jesus into our hearts…It is not our prayer which moves the Lord Jesus. It is Jesus who moves us to pray. He knocks. Our prayers are always a result of Jesus knocking at our heart’s doors. This throws light upon the old prophetic passages: “Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24)…To pray is nothing more involved than to let Jesus into our needs. To pray is to give Jesus permission to employ His powers in the alleviation of our distress. To pray is to let Jesus glorify His name in the midst of our needs…To pray is nothing more than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting Him to exercise His own power in dealing with them.”

I have always said, one of my goals as a speaker is to create more questions than answers. To help people have a hunger to go and find answers. When it comes to the topic of prayer, that is not difficult to do.

No matter how much we read about prayer, no matter how many conversations we have about it, not matter how many seminars or sermons we hear on it, we won’t get it until we start doing it. So just start talking to God. If you are hurting right now, tell him. If you are celebrating, tell him. Just tell him whatever is on your mind.

We also had a meeting today to talk about the future of our worship and arts ministry at Beginnings. Ryan Romeo who has been leading this area for almost 5 years is feeling God call him in a different direction. So today, we met as a team to introduce Ryan Green who will be taking over. I am excited about what God is doing in both areas. To see where God is taking Ryan and Blake Romeo and to see what God has in store for us as a community as Ryan Green takes this on.

We are blessed to have so many talented musicians and artists within our community. I know of a lot of churches that are 5 times are size that do not even have the quantity of musicians and artists, let alone the quality, so we are blessed.