To Pizza or Not to Pizza, That is the Question… Seriously?

To pizza or not to pizza, that is the question. At least that is what appears to be the crucial topic in youth ministry by a simple observation of Leadership Journal this year. In the Spring 2011 volume of Leadership Journal, a cover story “A Red Bull Gospel” takes readers to page 33 where you find a large picture of pizza with this subtitle, “It takes more than pizza and video games to give people a faith that endures”. A few months earlier, in the Fall 2010 edition, on page 13 you find two articles about youth ministry and pizza, “Pizza Still Works”, and “The Fading of Youth Ministry”. In this edition the two stories are placed right next to each other on the same page and espouse contradictory messages about the use of pizza in ministry. “Pizza Still Works” tells readers to email the pastor for details of their effective outreach. “The Fading of Youth Ministry” tells us “They’re not even coming for the pizza anymore”. Continue reading

Does God “Hate” Sinners?

image As I was hanging out with a bunch of friends at In-N-Out a few weeks ago a friend of mine told me about a sermon she recently heard. In the sermon the pastor, of whom I always here great things, was said to have told his congregation that God hates sinners and that is a basis for God’s amazing love for sinners. It really didn’t sit right with me. I am a proponent of total depravity, but honestly I couldn’t believe anyone could say that. It is not true, and even if I am wrong, it not wise.

In a few follow-up conversations my friend shared some scriptures with me that seemed to support this view. As I started to look into it, the easiest way for me to capture my response was in a short paper. I decided to attach it here. (It has a few Hebrew words that might not show up correctly if you don’t have the fonts installed, but honestly you don’t need them to get the gist of it unless you know Hebrew.)

Continue reading

What is the BEST way to help in Haiti for Christians?

Here is a disclaimer… There is so much happening right now in Haiti that I hope no words, thoughts or disagreements will slow the aid to the desperate physical, emotional and spiritual needs that are so abundant right now.

I will just come out and say it… There is something that bugs me about how some Christians are responding to the needs in Haiti right now. Really it is a deeper philosophical issue that I have with the approach of local churches and ministers, but it is just on display right now. The thing that bugs me is not that some churches and ministers are actually helping; they are! And because of that I am thankful. Sitting on our hands and doing nothing would be more tragic then anything I am going to say. But my concern is that we are not providing the BEST help that we can for the sake of Christ. Continue reading

How To Leave Your Church or Ministry

I remember the day in college when I went into my youth pastor’s office and started crying when I told him I was going to step out of the leadership team. If you know me I don’t do these two things very often… quit and cry. For some reason my emotions just overwhelmed me.

Over the last 10-15 years I have led a lot of leadership teams. I have seen some great exits and some terrible ones. Usually I see two versions…

1) The fade – The person just fades off the radar and loses touch. This is usually initiated by some new event in their life (a new job/class/major/boy or girl friend, etc). Usually the fade is a bad exit.

2) The train wreck – The person gives you a call the day of event and says they won’t be there, in fact they never will because they are leaving for good.

When I follow up on these exits the people normally tell me they have been praying about it for a while and it is what God wants them to do. This leads me to question a lot of their process and understanding of how God communicates. But my main wish is that the person simply would have brought me into the process earlier so I can help them.

As opposed to a recent major ministry strategic planning meeting I was involved in, I am not into “retaining” people. I want them to respond to the seasons of their life with the support of an encouraging community. This is one reason I try to celebrate people who are leaving our ministry on good terms. I want to say “well done” in front of all their friends as we pray them into their next assignment in the Kingdom of God.

Along these lines I saw this post and thought it had some great recommendations:

Thinking of leaving your church? Here’s how I would do it…

* I would write a letter to the pastors and leaders. In this letter, I would talk about the way God had changed my life through the ministry of that church. I would talk about how some of my family members met Christ there, were baptized, went on missions trips and more. I would talk about how my own thoughts and beliefs were formed through my years at the church. I would talk about how I am more like Christ because of my time there. I would tell stories of specific retreats or camps or services where my life (or those of my family) was changed because of the church and it’s; leaders.

* In this letter, I would not gripe or complain. I would not talk about the stuff I don’t like or decisions with which I disagree.

* In a short paragraph, I would say that “my wife and I have decided to attend and serve in a different church for this next season of our spiritual growth.”

* I would end the letter by assuring the pastor that he/she will never hear us talk badly about this church. I would encourage the pastor to feel free to share this letter with anyone who questions why we left.

* THEN, and this is most important, I would not mail this letter. Rather, I would set an appointment with the pastor and I would hand-deliver the letter. I would read it aloud to him–or ask him to read it in my presence. I would re-state my love for him and profound thanks for the ministry he had in my life.

* Then I would walk away and keep my promise. I would never speak negatively to anyone about that church. In fact, when people asked, I would say, “God changed my life at that church!”

via LeadingSmart: How To Leave Your Church.

Questions for my daughter’s prospective husband

I have two wonderful daughters. Erin and I have already been praying for their future husbands for years, and the girls are only 2 and 4 years old!

I like these questions below. But I think I would add one about his commitment to Christ.

A young man asked a girl’s father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. I know the father and the questions he asked the young man come as no surprise to me.

1. Have you prayed about this? What has God said? How do you know?

2. Of all the girls in the world, why our daughter?

3. Tell us what love means to you.

4. What does it mean to you to be a godly husband? What does it mean to be a godly father?

5. What does it mean to you to serve your wife? To sacrifice for her?

via “Trust Rather to their Friendship” | Think Christian. lets see where this goes…

So I decided to start a new blog. I have, and a few other things going. But I want to start posting some other thoughts that don’t fit nicely in those categories.

A couple areas I might talk about:

  • Theology
  • Technology
  • Leadership
  • Education
  • Mentoring
  • Who knows maybe even golf, basketball, coaching high school sports, thoughts about other blogs…

I guess we will see where this goes…