Top Posts of February 2012

In case you missed them, here are the top posts from February, 2012:

  1. Stephen Colbert on a Christian Nation
  2. Letters to a Young Pastor
  3. Q: Preaching to Believers & Seekers
  4. The Next 100 Days
  5. My Wallpaper for Lent
  6. 15 Ways to Improve Your Marriage
  7. Great Leaders Grow
  8. Prayer for the Future of Revolution Church
  9. What’s the Point of Marriage
  10. Sifted: Pursuing Growth Through Challenges, Trials & Disappointments

Letters to a Young Pastor

Letters to a Young Pastor (kindle version) by Calvin Miller is one of those books I wished I had read several years ago. Miller is in his 70’s after spending most of his life as a pastor and writes about the things he’s learned, what he’d differently. It reads like sitting with an older mentor at Starbucks. Each chapter averages 4 pages and are written as short emails or letters from Miller to a young pastor.

I was struck by how much time Miller spent talking about character. Most books on pastoral leadership and church growth center on techniques, but it was refreshing to see him spend such a bulk of time on character. Without character, you won’t last in ministry. I also appreciated how by the time you are Miller’s age, in your mid-70’s, the things that used to matter don’t matter like they used to.

The other thing he emphasized was tenure, gutting it out when being a leader or pastor becomes difficult. The average pastor now stays at his church 18 months. This is one of the main reasons for a lack of effectiveness among pastors and churches. I am 3 and a half years into Revolution and we are more effective and healthy than we’ve ever been. I thought back to my 18 month mark and it was one of the hardest seasons of my leadership, but on the other side of that came a lot of vitality.

Here are a few things that jumped out, some of the best advice if it were:

  • “People will endure anything in a church except an absence of vitality.”
  • Not everyone seems to believe it, but at the center of this minor formula for success is tenure. So many of the letters in this book focus on the long haul and the power of sticking to one thing: tenure.
  • Every call makes one statement: One preaches because one must.
  • “Pastoral care is a world of unbearable pain. However high we lift our spirits in personal or public worship, it is good to remember that many in our congregations come and go from our worship with broken hearts. In some ways this is what is most wrong with public invitations. We ask all those who are shrinking back from life to come forward. But they are refugees from sociability. They want to hide; they do not want to come forward. They want to hide out, so pastors must go to their hiding places. We must come down from our soaring worship and agree to enter the world of unbearable hurt.”
  • Churches that ignore their communities will not grow, and churches that will not globalize don’t matter much.
  • When you can’t find Jesus, just play Jesus for someone else, and you’ll soon have all the Jesus your errant heart can hold.
  • Theology only really matters when it is affecting and changing the culture.
  • Read the Bible as though the faith depended upon it.
  • Never ask your people to do anything you have never done and wouldn’t do. Never ask them to run a play you consider beneath your dignity.
  • Visions should always be bigger than our life span.
  • One of the things I wish I had learned earlier is that my sermons do not have to get better week by week. This would seem an easy thing to know. But we get caught in a trap for approval. We are so eager for our people to keep bragging us up, and so we work even harder, to keep getting better. This is a snare. Avoid it.
  • Anytime you speak over people’s heads to exhibit your own brilliance, you injure the gospel.
  • People will sooner or later guess by the powerless life you live that you’ve lost your openness with a holy God.
  • Never go into the pulpit without a definite plan to change the world in some way. Preaching is to change.
  • The apostle Paul was more famous for his trials than his successes, I suppose.

If you are a young church planter or leader, then this is a book that should move up your reading list.

Links of the Week

  1. Letters to a young pastor. I’m reading this book right now and it is a great book for young pastors, tons of wisdom.
  2. Phil Cooke on the secret to great teams.
  3. Porn blamed for children’s sexual behavior.
  4. Dave Ferguson on What stats a church should count.
  5. Russell Moore answers “Should I marry a man addicted to porn?
  6. Start – Stop – Continue. Great advice for pastors and leaders.
  7. Teens & porn: stats you need to know.
  8. Dave Kraft on The importance of picking the right people for the right teams.
  9. Forbes on Girls for Sale! Changing the Conversation on Exploited Kids in the U.S.

Sunday Afternoon Mind Dump…

  • Been loving this series we are in right now on 1 & 2 Peter, seems to be perfectly timed for our church
  • Last night was one of those nights where the message seemed to hit its mark and be exactly where many people were
  • If you missed it, you can listen here
  • You can also download the study guide questions and family bible study guide questions here
  • Talked through the idols of the heart and how they fall short on giving us the hope we long for
  • If you’re curious about discerning the idols you live out of, you can check out the questions we worked through last night here
  • Finalized the preaching schedule for the rest of 2012 this past week
  • After we finish up 1 & 2 Peter, we’ll do series on Habakkuk and Joshua
  • Really, really excited about working through these 2 books
  • Last night after church, I started reading Letters to a Young Pastor by Calvin Miller, if you are young pastor, you need to read this book, so much wisdom in it
  • I’ll share next week where things are with our Christmas offering, if you’d still like to give to it and help us move forward with church planting, you can do so here or next Saturday night
  • Speaking of church planting, we are looking for where we’d like to plant our second site, so please be praying as we look towards that
  • Lots of details and we need the Holy Spirit to open the right doors and close the ones we need to not walk through
  • This week, Katie and I are going to see The Civil Wars in concert, so excited about seeing them
  • We keep getting requests from guys about being church planting interns, so I’m beginning to work on what that will look like
  • Excited to see how that turns out
  • Pretty excited about next week at Revolution
  • I’ll be preaching from 1 Peter 1:6 – 12 and talking about how we handle life when it doesn’t go as we planned, what that says about God and what that says about us
  • I think it will be a powerful night
  • Gonna sign off and spend some time watching some football with some friends and some people that attended Revolution for the first time last night
  • Love hanging with Revolutionaries
  • In case you missed it on twitter, my super bowl prediction is 49ers vs. Pats, although the Giants would make it a better game against the Pats
  • As a Steelers fan, I hate the Ravens so I can’t pick them