Switching to LAhope.org – RSS feed is changing

12 07 2010

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This blog is moving over to LAhope.org. If you are subscribing to this via a feed reader, please go to LAhope.org to update your feed (or use http://www.lahope.org/?feed=rss2). This feed will no longer be active.

Some of our readers have had trouble reaching the wordpress site through some filters, so we are hopeful that the move over to LAhope.org will make the site more accessible.

A big thank you to Nate’s Technology for help with the transfer – also take a look at their new site http://californiachurchplanting.com/

Team or Teamwork, Part 3

5 07 2010

In part two, we noted that the differences between team members can hinder (or help!) teamwork. The same is true about disagreements. They can tear teamwork apart – or be the very thing that makes the teamwork so valuable. The books of Acts and the epistles assure us repeatedly that Christians dealt with disagreements from the very beginning.

Many people have a desire to avoid conflict at all costs. They handle disagreements by pretending they don’t exist. This creates a fake peace, but it kills teamwork. So how should we handle disagreements? I want to think about this very practically. Let’s suppose that there is some disagreement about the songs that the music leader is selecting for worship. Maybe some people in the congregation have some disagreements with the words, or think they are just too boring. Maybe the pastor is not especially comfortable with the style. Maybe the musicians think they are too hard to sing (and play).

So here is a team (a local church family, and a church leadership team), and some people on the team disagree with some decisions being made by someone else on the team (the music leader). What should they do about their disagreement? Here are some questions they might ask themselves:

  • How important is this disagreement? Put it in perspective. Because we generally hate conflict so much, we tend to tense up and get worked up when we sniff any disagreement. Take a deep breath: in the big picture, how important is this?
  • What is my role? In our example, the pastor has a much greater role in this situation than the people in the congregation. Their opinions matter – but the pastor is responsible before God for the music that is used in the church. So the people involved can ask: “Am I overstepping my bounds? Do I have a God-given responsibility here?” They also may need to ask “If I ignore this, would I be avoiding a God-given responsibility?” This would be the case for the pastor: if he has serious concerns about the music and does nothing about it, he is chickening out of his God-given role.
  • Am I sure that my perspective is right? We have a sad tendency to jump to conclusions, assuming that our opinion, perspective, or “gut reaction” is right. Is it really? Do I have all of the facts? Do I know why the music leader is choosing the songs he is choosing? What criteria is he using? What guidelines has the pastor given him? Is my opinion based purely on personal taste? Proverbs 28:26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool. We need to differentiate between disagreements based on facts, and disagreements based on opinions (or even our ignorance!).
  • Am I complaining to others without talking to the people who can do something about it? Am I griping to others in the congregation without ever having brought it up with the music leader? This connects to the previous question: am I spreading my opinions before I’ve even checked to verify that they are correct? Where there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise (Prov. 10:19).
  • Am I stewing over this, yet I’m too afraid to do anything about it? Because we hate conflict, we have a tendency to just mull over our disagreements instead of doing something about it. Unless our “mulling” is carefully directed by Scripture, we will get more upset the longer we stew.
  • What does God want me to do about it? Maybe you should do nothing: you realize it’s just a matter of opinion or taste, and it’s not really within your God-given responsibilities to change things (i.e., it’s not really your business). Other times it will be clear that you should do something about it. The musicians should talk to their music leader. The pastor should spend time with him, talking through the philosophy of church music. Don’t wait until you’ve stewed on something so long that your pot is ready to boil over and burn anyone nearby.

Now some people are glad to tell you how they disagree, but it never seems to be very helpful. In the next post, we’ll talk about how can you bring up a disagreement in a helpful way.

The Runner from Ravenshead Movie

3 07 2010

Movie reviews aren’t exactly a common topic on this blog (this would be the first time ever, I believe), but I have to recommend The Runner from Ravenshead. This is a family-produced movie, and the 2 to 9 year old siblings form the entire cast. But don’t expect something cheap and cheesy. The cast makes it fun and adorably cute, but they’re also good. The videography and music are high quality. But the story is the real key: an allegory of basic principles about the gospel, those who share it, and those who run from it. Hit the pause button a few times, and you’ll have some sweet gospel teaching opportunities with your family. So:

watch the trailer and then buy it!

a fun, riveting allegory of basic principles about the gospel, those who share it, and those who run from it. The cast of 2-9 year olds make it fun and adorably cute, but they don’t cheapen the power of the story. Hit the “pause” button a few times, and you’ll have some sweet gospel teaching opportunities with your family.

Team or Teamwork, Part 2

30 06 2010

In the first post, we established that we need teamwork, not just a team. What are some of the characteristics of teamwork? It is no surprise that most of the biblical characteristics focus on how we think.

In I Corinthians 12:21, Paul writes that in the body of Christ “the eye cannot say to the hand ‘I have no need of you’; or again the head to the feet ‘I have no need of you.'” This is a principle of mutual respect, not because we all deserve the respect of others, but because we believe that “God has composed the body” (v.24). If He composed the body the way He wanted it, then I certainly should demonstrate great respect for the other parts.

I’m certain to foul up the teamwork if I think: “I am the only one who can do this the right way,” or: “I’m the only one who truly understands the situation.” That kind of thinking breeds isolation, competition, and jealousy.

Here’s the kind of thinking that breeds teamwork: “The members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (v.22). Note again that this right thinking about others is rooted in right thinking about God: each part of the body is necessary because of what God has done. He made us mutually dependent on purpose: “so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (v.25).

So here we have one of the foundational principles for teamwork: God-centered mutual respect. More in the next post.

A Helpful Improvement in Logos 4

30 06 2010

The latest update to Logos Bible Software 4 (4.0d) includes a very helpful feature: clippings can now be exported in .rtf format for use in a word processor. The “clippings” feature is a great way to quickly collect information from various sources. The ability to export them is important to me, because once I have gathered relevant information, I love to print it out and see it on paper. I sometimes have a hard time seeing the big picture and organizing material on the computer screen. Kudos to Logos for getting this functionality added.

Let Go and Let God: A Pastoral Crisis Regarding Sanctification

29 06 2010

I just finished reading Dr. Andy Naselli’s new book Let Go and Let God: A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology. The book is being released for Logos Bible Software, and is currently available at the pre-publication price of $17.95.

This is a book about sanctification, and every pastor ought to read it. Anyone with a pastor’s heart will be unable to digest the book’s contents without experiencing considerable introspection: what are the assumptions behind my view of sanctification? Dr. Naselli’s work may well lead pastors to put in more time systematizing their own views and then systematically teaching their congregation a healthy biblical theology of sanctification.

The historical survey in Let Go and Let God focuses on the history of the Keswick movement from 1875-1920, while summarizing the movement’s predecessors and influence in the mid to late 20th century.  This history is surprising and confusing. The influences and theological ideas of the Keswick movement cut across the grain of traditional Calvinist/Arminian dichotomies. Though some may be frustrated at Dr. Naselli’s open affinity for the Reformed view of sanctification, the issues in this book are not questions related to theological systems, but biblical exegesis.

Speaking of exegesis: while Let Go and Let God does not attempt to teach a theology of sanctification, Dr. Naselli provides a significant amount of helpful exegetical work to aid the pastor in refining his own. This includes word studies on crucial terms such as “spiritual,” “abide,” and “flesh,” as well as topics such as the carnal Christian  (I Cor. 2-3), Spirit baptism (I Cor. 12:13), abiding in Christ (John 15), Spirit filling (Eph. 5:18), and the question of one or two natures in the believer. Very helpful charts illustrate significant points, and a thorough reading list provides direction for further study.

For thoughts on the book’s exclusive availability in Logos, see Dr. Naselli’s recent blog post.

Pastors spend the majority of their time dealing with matters of sanctification, yet this is an area of theology that may not be very well developed in the pastor’s own thinking (I speak to my own hurt).  For a book that seeks to undermine a crisis view of sanctification, Let Go and Let God may well leave a pastor with a crisis of his own regarding sanctification. That crisis may lead to great blessing for his congregation.

Team or Teamwork?

28 06 2010

You can have a team without teamwork. We tend to place the emphasis on compiling a team of talented individuals – though we realize that teamwork is often a better indicator of success than team members. I just read these quotes in a Fast Company article by Dan & Chip Heath:

We tend to underestimate the amount of effort needed to coordinate with other people…. The relay team with the fastest sprinters doesn’t always win, and the business with the most talented employees doesn’t either. Coordination is the unsung hero of successful teams.

The World Cup provides a beautiful illustration of the importance of teamwork. A superstar like Wayne Rooney struggled to even touch the ball in some of England’s matches. Unlike the NBA, where late in a game a superstar like Lebron James can take the ball every possession and try to bull his way through the defense, soccer absolutely demands teamwork.

Soccer is a beautiful game, but nothing should be more beautiful than the teamwork of God’s people doing God’s work together as the body of Christ. Be of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another. I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly that he ought to think. We are one body in Christ and individually members one of another. That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. (Phil. 2:2; I Pet. 4:10; Rom. 12:3, 5; I Cor. 12:26)

In the next post, we’ll consider some of the key components of teamwork. But until then, reflect on the team that you are a part of, whether it be in church planting, missions, or simply a local church. Are you like a coordinated team demonstrating teamwork, or like a group of individuals pulling in separate directions?