Bible stories can be so weird sometimes. Like 1 Kings 13 where a "man of God" is killed by a lion for eating and drinking before leaving town. But the weirdest thing is the repetition of the phrase, "saddled the donkey." Why make such a big deal about saddling donkeys?
Yesterday morning my wife looked out the window and saw a package on our doorstep. She asked if I was expecting a book, and I said, "Oh, I bet it's the one I'm in!" Sure enough, it was my copy of Finding Church: Stories of Leaving, Switching, and Reforming, edited by Jeremy Myers and written by a bunch of people.
I love preaching. There I said it. Somehow, because of the way God wired me, I absolutely love getting in front of people and unfolding the Scriptures with them in a way that (I hope and pray) leads to life transformation. Believe it or not, I also love the whole process leading up to preaching the sermon. I love studying the text. I love reading the commentaries. I love looking for and brainstorming stories and illustrations. I love pulling all the ideas together. I love outlining the sermon. I even love practicing the sermon.
The book, Finding Church: Stories of Leaving, Switching, and Reforming, will be released in early December, 2012. The book is edited by Jeremy Myers and will consist of 36 stories by people who have either left their churches, switched to another church, or worked to reform their churches.
Last week, I wrote about a practice we use at my church to start off our leadership team meetings. We call it "dwelling in scripture" (this name comes from The Missional Leader by Alan Roxburgh and Fred Romanuk). In that post, I explained how we do this; in this post, I want to explain why it's such a great practice.
In my post on building community in a membership class, I mentioned that one of our key practices is something called "dwelling in Scripture." But it's not something I use only in membership classes. I use it in nearly all of my regular leadership meetings: Session (our board of elders), Deacons, and staff. It's so easy to do and so beneficial for the spiritual growth of our teams.
I'm always amazed when I hear of churches whose membership process consists of little more than one or two classes. I've heard one large church pastor say, "Why make it hard to become a member? Why make people sit through a bunch of classes?" I don't agree with that approach. Not that we need people to sit through a bunch of classes. But I think we lose something really important when we rush people through into membership.
I've been getting some constructive criticism from some folks in my church these past few weeks. I hate getting constructive criticism. You know why? Because it means I'm not perfect. It means I could be doing something better. I would much rather hear someone say, "Way to go, pastor!" or "Great job, pastor!" That has a much sweeter ring to it, doesn't it?
We just finished a sermon series at my church based on the book Sticky Faith by Kara Powell and Chap Clark (I provide an outline of that sermon series below). This is a breakthrough book in the area of youth ministry. The problem this book addresses is the fact that 40-50% of kids who grow up in the church end up leaving their faith and the church after high school.
Kathleen Ward at Church in a Circle recently posted about how to bring about change in an established church environment. Which is the environment I'm most familiar with. And her post got me to thinking about what is involved in leading change.