“Christian Paramedics?”

In an effort to blog more and interact more, I share the following quote from a book I read about three years ago.

“Christians should stop trying to be the police and start being the paramedics.”
Kyle Idleman, AHA book
aha-book
  • Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  • What do you think has lead this to be a more dominant attitude in the Christian church in America than it should be?
  • As Christian leaders, what are some successful ways you have lead people to this kind of urgency related to God’s mission and sharing Jesus with friends and family members?
Let’s interact some regarding this idea.

Gracefully Leading

I love what one author has written about. I  love it so much that I keep coming back to it in my mind and my ministry.

It is a simple truth, but very profound. It is easy to understand and has implications in a myriad of situations (from parenting, to work, to friendships, etc.)

GraceTruthParadox

Here it is. Jesus was full of grace and truth John 1:14). Simple, yet far reaching. Key for us as Christian leaders, but deep enough to challenge us at every turn.

Jesus was full of grace and full of truth. He didn’t fall too hard on one side or the other.

So I need to ask myself, “Based on my belief in Jesus, am I full of grace and truth?” If we aren’t full of both, do we lean too heavily to one side at the expense of the other?

Let’s meditate on this thought (filling our minds with it) and ask God to help us live and lead full of grace and truth. When we do, we will be like and lead like Jesus.

PrintAs leaders in church world, we want to be both gospel-centered and grace-centered in our leading. And really they are both inextricably linked.

We want to lead others in a way that’s full of grace.

So let’s lead other as we follow Jesus and let’s gracefully lead them.

Called to Lead

We can go to many examples in scripture regarding God’s call in different people’s lives.

Abraham, Noah, Elijah, David, and Samuel are just a few that come to mind.

But there are few calls that are as clear as God’s call on the life of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:4-19.

After reading that, we uncover some key principles for us and how to lead others for God’s kingdom and God’s glory.

In other places in scripture, we see and know that how we lead is what sets up apart as Christians (see Mark 10:42 & 43).

So some principles we can glean from God’s call in Jeremiah’s life are:

  • God knows us and calls us – 1:5.
  • We need to take action on this call – 1:7, 17.
  • We find courage as God’s presence goes with us – 1:8, 17.
  • God provides for and protects His own – 1:8, 19.

These thoughts and ideas can bring us hope, strength, and comfort during those times when we like Jeremiah here and Moses centuries before, are humanly reluctant to accept what God has called us to.

So lets’ go forward, knowing that He who called us is faithful. Let’s take action trusting that He will provide the strength, the words, the wisdom, and whatever other resources we may need. And let’s move ahead with faith in God and determination in spirit.

 

 

 

Decisions or Disciples?

One question we must ask ourselves as leaders in church world is, “Am I leading people to make decisions or am I making disciples?”

Which one of those do you think Jesus prefers according to Matthew 28:18-20?

What is the difference between the two?

With all this in mind, I feel more and more compelled to be about making disciples. It is not only in written about in books and spoken about at pastor conferences, but it’s on my mind and heart a lot.

That being said, I’d love to hear from you.

What are some success stories you’ve had in making disciples in the last 6-12 months?

What are your best practices for doing so?

Please feel free to share comments below. I look forward to reading them.

Exegesis

One skill most professors and seminaries are good at teaching pastors is exegeting scripture. This is a needed and necessary skill. Most pastors or weekly speakers at evangelical churches are fairly adept at this.

I want to post here for a few minutes about a skill we need to improve in. That skill is the exegeting of culture.

It needs to be said, though, we start with theology and scripture and let those direct and drive our sermons. In addition to that, we’d do well to do a little anthropological digging as it regards our people and where they are coming from related to the biblical message and walking in faith.

For a case study loosely based on this premise, see Acts 17 and how Paul approached the philosophers and other thinkers on Mars Hill.

This skill has to do with knowing the context of the culture around us and what society thinks or believes (and our congregation specifically) regarding different biblical texts or topics. Some would call it “knowing your audience.”

That being said, we do need to be careful and not put too much sermon prep time or stock into this. In the past, most communicators have relied heavily on recent surveys or statistics. We can spend too much time on it in an effort to be trendy or hip. Or we can put too much stock in it and be discouraged before we step up to share God’s Word. So we need to be balanced in our approach.

With some of the tools available to us today, however, we can get information from our own people that is more fresh and more current than the latest Gallup or Barna poll. Investing 10-15 minutes in some well-worded questions to be sent out to people within our congregations in preparation for a sermon can uncover a wealth of information and insight for us as communicators.

Our goal in this is simply to find out where culture and our people are at so we can lead them through the text and to where God wants them to be. And when I say “them,” I mean their thoughts, their attitudes and their actions.

I like to use the analogy of GPS or a mall map. Before we can find out where we want to go, we need to find where we’re at.

Think of exegeting culture as the “You are here” dot on a mall map.

Let’s do this alongside the needed and valuable biblical exegesis; not in place of it. If we do, I think it can assist us in helping God’s people to grow and walk humbly with God.

What are your thoughts on this topic?

Faithfulness and Fruitfulness

I was at a conference recently and was just reviewing my notes today.

There was definitely one thought that caught my attention and has stuck with me.

Transformation = grace + truth + time

I know in church world, we tend to focus on truth and sometimes interject grace, but often forget or neglect the idea of time. We want God to work and we want to see it happen now. We want people to get it….now.

I was also at a local pastors gathering recently and that was a predominant theme. We may or may not have vented some frustration over lack of life change. We dialoged about the tension between faithfulness and fruitfulness. We have a great deal of control over the first and often obsess about the second. It’s over the fruitfulness aspect that we have frustration and over which we have little control.

Let me share a few verses that may bring some needed to perspective and some necessary encouragement to those of us impatient people in church world leadership.

“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Underline and underscore the thoughts of doing God’s work, doing it “in the Lord,” and seeing a harvest, “at the proper time.” The proper time is determined by the One called the Lord of the harvest (Luke 10:2), not by us.

So stand firm in speaking the truth and doing it in a grace-giving way. But don’t forget that it takes time for those we lead to “get it.” So stand firm. Rely on God and His strength. Remember…

Transformation = grace + truth + time

Don’t forget that God is the One who brings about life transformation. And keep sharing God’s love, God’s truth, and God’s grace.