Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Senior Pastor Expects Of His Staff ...

  1. I expect loyalty. I've got your back and you've got my back.
  2. I expect you to be growing spiritually. This is my primary concern. It is so easy for those of us in full-time ministry to seek God for others instead of seeking God for ourselves. We’ve got to do ministry out of the overflow of what God is doing in our lives!
  3. I expect a positive attitude. Attitude really is everything. And I’ve learned that how much you enjoy ministry depends on who you’re doing ministry with. Let me just say it like it is: negativity sucks. Literally. It sucks the life out of a staff.
  4. I expect staff to verbalize rather than internalize. I want a staff culture where people can have tough conversations about tough topics. Life is too short to hold a grudge. My philosophy of conflict is John 1:14. Jesus was full of grace and full of truth. Truth means I’m going to be honest no matter what. Grace means I’m going to love you no matter what.
  5. I expect staff to have fun. We all have bad days. We all have long days. But if ministry isn’t enjoyable you need to get out of the game! The top quality I look for in prospective staff, besides a thriving relationship with Christ, is a sense of humor!
  6. I expect you to make mistakes. We have a core value: everything is an experiment. Part of experimenting is failing and learning. I have no problem with mistakes. I just don’t want staff to make the same mistake over and over again!
  7. I expect excellence! I think a dose of divine discontent is healthy! We need to keep getting better and better at what we do. It is that commitment to excellence that allow staff to morph in greater responsibilities…

Pastor, how much fear do you experience?

Speaking from my experience, I feel like so much of the problem with pastors is they are just scared to death. They’re scared of their people, they’re scared of deacons, they’re scared of their overseer, they’re just scared. You know, if you’re scared of someone, you can’t lead them; you can hardly even influence them. I tell businessmen all the time, “You’d never go to work for an organization where the customers can hire and fire the president of the company they bought products from.” But that’s the church world in many cases.

If the people can make the decision about the pastor (directly or indirectly through the overseer), they are saying, “We’ll follow you unless we don’t like the way you’re leading us, then we’ll get us another leader.” What other organization can the clients and the customers hire and fire the leader? So the church is set up, upside-down. It’s an environment that is not conducive to leadership in some ways. Consequently to lead a church, you just have to have a lot of courage because the group to which you’re saying “follow me” can get together and fire you. Well, that’s just the way it is. That’s not going to change very soon, so it requires a lot of courage. Otherwise, we start bending toward the people that hired us (instead of God) and we’re in trouble.

The irony is, we stand up and talk about Daniel in the lion’s den but then we won’t even confront elders. All of these bible heroes – David and Goliath – and we love to preach those sermons and draw these parallels, and then we’re scared to confront people. I think that dynamic alone is a big part of why the church is where it is. The leadership – or lack of leadership – is just so much fear of people.

When I see pastors who are scared, I want to tell them, “Just lead.” If they fire you and you don’t think God will take care of you, then you have no message for your people anyway. Because, we get up every Sunday and say God’s grace is sufficient. He’s going to take care of you, He’ll meet your every need and you’ll never see the “righteous go hungry.” It’s what we preach, but if our lack of faith in those practical things causes us to not to be able to lead then what’s our message anyway?

[from Pastor Andy Stanley]

Christian Guesthouse Sued For Refusing Gay Couple

The Christian owners of a guesthouse who were ordered by a judge to pay a gay couple more than $5000 in damages for refusing to let them stay in a double room have appealed the ruling.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull are challenging the decision after several days of consultation with their legal team following last week’s ruling.

The Bulls have implemented a policy of allowing only heterosexual married couples to stay in their double rooms since they opened the Chymorvah guesthouse in 1986.

However, a judge ruled last week that the policy is “unlawful” under Equality Laws, which make it a crime to discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The Christian Institute’s director, Colin Hart, said the guesthouse had since been “besieged” with demands for double rooms by homosexual couples “seemingly in a bid to destroy the business.”

He also said that Hazelmary Bull had received “abusive and menacing” phone calls and her husband is in the hospital recovering from serious heart surgery.

The Bulls were sued by civil partners Steven Preddy and Martyn Hall when they were turned away from the guesthouse after staff realized that the booking had not been made for a heterosexual couple.

The guesthouse had received a letter from gay rights group Stonewall the month earlier informing the owners of equality law, prompting suspicion that the Bulls were specifically targeted.

Responding to the judge’s decision last week, Hazelmary Bull said that their policy had been based on “our sincere beliefs about marriage, not hostility to anybody.”

In making his ruling, Judge Andrew Rutherford admitted that it “does affect the human rights of the defendants to manifest their religion and forces them to act in a manner contrary to their deeply and genuinely held beliefs.”

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pastor Passionate

10 Things I Believe About The Church And You:

  1. I believe the potential for the local church to do good and create positive change in the world is greater than it has ever been.
  2. I believe that the ROOT of the desire to do good and create positive change in the world HAS to be the GOSPEL … and if it isn't what will develop is cool ministry fads and ideas … but nothing revolutionary that will impact the world.
  3. I believe that some of the greatest Christian leaders that the world will ever know are currently in elementary school, middle school and high school … thus making youth and children’s ministry one of the greatest mission opportunities that the local church can invest in.
  4. I believe that more and more church leaders are going to begin to take radical steps of faith rather than trying to repair broken systems.
  5. I believe that more and more church leaders are going to continually put personal preferences of ministry aside and work together with other people to accomplish more ministry than they could have ever done alone.
  6. I believe that we’re going to see some of the greatest moves of God this world has ever seen in the next 10 years (2020 Vision) … MOST of them happening because the local church led by the pastor finally decided to step up and be the church.
  7. I believe God wants to use your church to do unbelievable things in the community in which HE has planted you.
  8. I believe the key to a healthy church is healthy church leadership … leaders cannot fly at the speed of sound and expect to hear God’s still small voice. The healthier pastors get the healthier our churches can be.
  9. I believe that if ALL leaders took the advice God gave us in Galatians 6:9 that we would see breakthroughs like we’ve NEVER seen before.
  10. I believe God has called the church to CHANGE the world … not complain about it! We are an empowered body of believer whom He has called to attempt the “impossible” so that people can see HIM! (So … what is that thing that you know you should do next?)

[from Perry Noble dot com by perry]

Extreme Discipleship

Five principles pastors must teach members, including VISION.

1) Don’t Believe Everything You Think

We all have a mental illness. It’s called sin. This means we can’t trust what we ourselves even think.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

We have an amazing ability to lie to ourselves.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

The upcoming generation places great value on authenticity. But it’s important to see that you’re not authentic until you can publicly admit how inauthentic you are most of the time.

Reasons we can’t trust ourselves:
  • We all have blind spots.
  • We don’t stop to really think.
  • We fail to notice important details.
  • We have background biases.
  • We jump to conclusions.
  • We get trapped by categories.
  • We miss the big picture.
  • We see what we want to see.

2) Guard Your Minds from Garbage

A wise person is hungry for truth, while the fool feeds on trash. (Proverbs 15:14, NLT)

Nutritionists will tell you that there are three kinds of food: brain food, junk food, and toxic food. The same is true with what you see and hear. We need to fill our minds with the right things.

I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. (Psalm 101:3, ESV)

How do you guard your mind against garbage? There are two ways from Philippians 4:6-8:
  • Conversational prayer (“pray about everything”)
  • Concentrated focusing (“fix your thoughts”)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.... Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:6-8, NLT)

One of the keys to overcoming temptation is not to resist it, but to replace it. It’s “the expulsive power of a new affection” that helps us overcome temptation.

3) Never Let Up on Learning

Growing churches require growing pastors.

The mind of a smart person is eager to get knowledge. The wise person listens to learn more. (Proverbs 18:15, ICB)

Wise men store up knowledge . . . (Proverbs 10:14)

One of the ways you can store up knowledge is to start a godly family library and leave it as a legacy to the next generation.

You should read 25 percent of your books from the first 1500 years of church history, 25 percent from the last 500 years, 25 percent from the last 100 years, and 25 percent from recent years.

Those who get wisdom do themselves a favor, and those who love learning will succeed. (Proverbs 19:8, NCV)

The Five Levels of Learning
  1. Knowledge - “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6, NIV)
  2. Perspective (Wisdom) - “I don’t think the way you think, and the way you work isn’t the way I work.” (Isaiah 55:8, MSG)
  3. Conviction - “Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:5, NIV)
  4. Character - “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT)
  5. Skills - “If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed. But skill will bring success.” (Ecclesiastes 10:10)
You only believe in the part of the Bible that you actually do. We’re supposed to be doers of the word and not hearers only. The problem today is that we are teaching too much. We’re learning more than we can do. There’s a wide gap between knowing and doing in American Christianity. It’s because we’re teaching too much.

4) Feed Yourself Daily with God’s Word

Another problem is that we’re not teaching people to be self-feeders. We’re not teaching them to study the Bible on their own.

Interpretation without application is abortion. We have huge heads but little hands and hearts and feet.

People need more than bread for their life; they must feed on every Word of God. (Matthew 4:4, NLT)

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3, NLT)

5) Let God Stretch Your Imagination

Nothing happens till somebody starts dreaming. What we need today are great dreamers.

Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:8)

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. (Acts 2:17, NIV)

What is your dream for your next ten years? For your church? Your family?

Innovators see what everyone else sees but they ask questions that no one else asks.

Why do we do this? For the glory of God.

Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 3:20-21, LB)


Some of you are naturally great thinkers. Some of you are naturally great doers. Those of you who are thinkers, you need to do more. Those of you who are doers, you need to think more. It’s not one or the other. It’s both/and.

Let's covenant together. It’s a mental covenant for the mind.
  • Test every thought.
  • Helmet your head.
  • Imagine great things.
  • Nourish a godly mind.
  • Keep on learning.

[from Another day ... Another opportunity ... by Chris Jordan]

Saturday, January 8, 2011

What happens in a Godless society?

U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) was shot in the head outside a grocery store in Tucson while holding a public event, the Arizona media is reporting. The Associated Press says the gunman has been identified as Jared Laughner.

Day 8 of 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

"We pray because our vision exceeds our abilities. Prayer is the soul's deepest cry of rebellion against the way things are, seeing the lost world and crying out, This does not glorify God and, by God’s grace, it must change! Prayer comes from God and ascends back to God on behalf of those who do not know God. (David Garrison, Church Planting Movements, p176-177)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Moving Toward 2020 Vision in 2011

Introductory Thoughts
  • One of the greatest gifts to the church is Twitter.
  • We're not here to build a program. Programs start big and die quickly. We're here to continue a Movement.
Vision Is A Team Sport
  • We think of vision as solely for the communicators or point leaders. But, Vision is a team sport. It’s football. Vision is for all. It’s not golf.
  • Vision-casters are vision-carriers. Vision-carriers are vision-casters.
  • “What we need is not new insights. What we need is what we already know.” – Mark Twain
  • The long-range impact of vision casting depends on the number of vision-carriers moving and carrying the vision forward.
  • The four words that limit the vision of any organization: “It’s not my job.”
Three Things All Leaders Must Do To Make Vision A Reality
  • Cast It
  • Live It
  • Celebrate It
Levels Of Vision Buy-In
  • Level 1 – People buy-in to the vision in order to benefit from it.
  • Level 2 – People buy-in to the vision in order to contribute comfortably to it.
  • Level 3 – People buy-in to the vision enough to give their lives to it.
If you're in the church, you're a vision caster.
Your role as a leader is to convince people if they don't join your movement they will miss out.
Your role as a leader is to also move people from Level 1 and 2 to Level 3.
Most people in Level 1 are complainers.

What Vision Is NOT
  • Vision is not limited to a one-time event.
  • Vision is not information. Your people are saying ”Don't inform me. I am already bombarded with information. Inspire me.”
  • Vision is never urgent until it’s too late.
Prioritizing Vision
  • Vision must be put on your calendar.
  • Each day ask “What did I do today to cast Vision?”
  • Make people feel uncomfortable with the statement “I did nothing today relative to the Vision.”
  • Vision is daily.
  • Vision is consistent.
  • Vision not repeated is just a one-time dream.
How To Continue A Movement
  • Start where you are.
  • Use what you have.
  • Do what you can.
  • Know that vision-casters and vision-carriers are great story-tellers.
  • You have an incredible vision-casting tool called a Thank You card. My goal is to send three handwritten cards daily … Here’s how you helped make the vision a reality.

Great book for Rural Churches

I highly recommend “Transforming Church in Rural America” which is a great read for anyone in the ministry. Shannon doesn’t merely teach you in this book how grow a big church in a small community. He doesn’t give you step by step, “here’s how you do exactly what we are doing.” Those kind of books are on my bookshelf – unread. I’ve grown tired of those. Instead, Shannon shares how to hear from God, how to stick to His vision, how to pursue the vision, and how to maintain it.

11 Ways A Leader Can Serve The People He/She Works With

I read Mark 10:35-45 the other morning and made a list of eleven ways that a leader can serve people (after all, Jesus said that is how to be a great leader.)
  1. Adopt the mindset that these people work with me and not for me.
  2. Provide enough margin for the people who serve with you to be creative and brainstorm ahead. (The pastor that works “week of” in regards to his message really does a great disservice to those who support him in regards to creative elements.)
  3. Make sure that the people you serve with have the resources they need to do the job they are expected to do.
  4. Say “thank you” and “great job” A LOT instead of just pointing out all of the areas where a person came up short.
  5. Try your best to make sure that if an area of the church is going to be impacted by a certain decision that someone from that area had input in the decision making process. (Learned this one from Andy Stanley.)
  6. Make sure the expectations for the people you lead are both spoken and realistic. (We cannot hold people accountable for unspoken, unrealistic expectations.)
  7. Don’t confuse personal preferences with conviction from the Holy Spirit … if you tell the people you serve with that “God told me” then you had better be willing to bet your last Bible than you heard from the Lord!
  8. Model what you consider to be important … in other words, when you are walking into the building and see a piece of trash on the ground … pick it up.
  9. Listen to them!!!
  10. Understand that your words weight 1,000 pounds … choose them carefully!
  11. Understand that WHAT you say and HOW you say it matter … the people you serve with are human beings with hearts, minds and souls … they deserve to be treated as such.

Fight for your dreams in 2011

If you’re like me, you spent some time in the past few weeks reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the coming one. I’m already excited about what’s in store for the next twelve months!

What dreams do you have for 2011? Or maybe a better question is, do you have dreams for 2011? For some people, dreaming is easy. Your mind is full of dreams just waiting to be expressed. But what about those who find it hard to dream? What if you’re not sure if you have a dream you want to pursue?

Let’s face it: Many of us were not encouraged to dream. Others had dreams, only to see them actively discouraged. The world is filled with dream crushers and idea killers. Why? Some people without dreams of their own hate to see others pursuing theirs. Other people’s passion and success makes them feel inadequate or insecure. Others think they’re being helpful: keeping us from risk or hurt.

Business professors Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad wrote about an experiment conducted with a group of monkeys. Four monkeys were placed in a room that had a tall pole in the center. Suspended from the top of that pole was a bunch of bananas.

One of the hungry monkeys started climbing the pole to get something to eat, but just as he reached out to grab a banana, he was doused with a torrent of cold water. Squealing, he scampered down the pole and abandoned his attempt to feed himself. Each monkey made a similar attempt, and each one was drenched with cold water. After making several attempts, they finally gave up.

Then researchers removed one of the monkeys from the room and replaced him with a new monkey. As the newcomer began to climb the pole, the other three grabbed him and pulled him down to the ground. After trying to climb the pole several times and being dragged down by the others, he finally gave up and never attempted to climb the pole again.

The researchers replaced the original monkeys, one by one, with new ones, and each time a new monkey was brought in, he would be dragged down by the others before he could reach the bananas. In time, only monkeys who had never received a cold shower were in the room, but none of them would climb the pole. They prevented one another from climbing, but none of them knew why.

Perhaps others have dragged you down in life. They’ve discouraged you from dreaming. Maybe they resented the fact that you wanted to move up or to do something significant with your life. Or maybe they were trying to protect you from pain or disappointment. Either way, you’ve been discouraged from dreaming.

Take heart. It’s never too late to start dreaming and pursuing your dreams. My friend Dale Turner asserts, “Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.”

If you haven’t done any dreaming yet this year, set aside some time to explore possibilities and commit yourself to new opportunities. It’s never too late to dream.

[by John Maxwell]


2010 was a great year with regard to incredible books for church leaders. We've seen proven additions from Bruce Wilkinson, C. Peter Wagner and John Maxwell, among others. As the old saying goes, all leaders are readers, and that's especially true of growing church leaders. With that in mind, here's the Top 10 Books of 2010 for Church Leaders:

#10: You Were Born For This by Bruce Wilkinson - Anyone can do a good deed, but some good works can only happen by an act of God. Around the world these acts are called miracles-not that even religious people expect to see one any time soon. But what would happen if millions of ordinary people walked out each morning expecting God to deliver a miracle through them to a person in need? You Were Born for This starts with the dramatic premise that everyone at all times is in need of a miracle, and that God is ready to meet those needs supernaturally through ordinary people who are willing to learn the "protocol of heaven."

#9: How to Become a Fierce Competitor: What Winning Companies Do and Great Managers Do in Tough Times by Jeffrey J. Fox - Economic downturns separate the winning companies from the struggling. And as best-selling author Jeffrey J. Fox shows, tough times also give solid companies, strong managers, and potential rainmakers the opportunity to seize market share. In this eminently readable, practical resource for business leaders and managers, Fox explains exactly how the savvy few who rise to the top stay focused and alert, get new market share, hire good recently fired talent, increase investments into customer service, speed innovation, train all customer facing people, make acquisitions, get rid of underperformers, build brand names, pay for measurable performance, and lots more.

#8: Rework by Jason Fried - Jason Fried and David Hansson follow their own advice in REWORK, laying bare the surprising philosophies at the core of 37signals' success and inspiring us to put them into practice. There's no jargon or filler here just hundreds of brilliantly simple rules for success. Part entrepreneurial handbook for the twenty-first century, part manifesto for anyone wondering how work really works in the modern age, REWORK is required reading for anyone tired of business platitudes.

#7: The Confession by John Grisham - For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one left on the outside. He doesn't understand how the police and prosecutors got the wrong man, and he certainly doesn't care. He just can't believe his good luck. Time passes and he realizes that the mistake will not be corrected: the authorities believe in their case and are determined to get a conviction. He may even watch the trial of the person wrongly accused of his crime. He is relieved when the verdict is guilty. He laughs when the police and prosecutors congratulate themselves. He is content to allow an innocent person to go to prison, to serve hard time, even to be executed.

#6: Outrageous Advertising by Bill Glazer - Here is an OUTRAGEOUS idea – it's easy to make a lot of money from advertising. That's right, easy money! This book, OUTRAGEOUS ADVERTISING THAT'S OUTRAGEOUSLY SUCCESSFUL, explains in certain terms how to advertise and make money. No more guesswork. That's OUTRAGEOUS by itself! Lots of advertising programs claim to want to help you stand out. This one works. This is material you can use immediately. Presented by Advertising Guru Bill Glazer, who has spent years teaching this at seminars, implementing it in the trenches in his own Baltimore menswear business, and providing it to dozens of clients in all industries,

#5: The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE by Thomas J. Peters - This book from Tom Peters is packed with insight that immediately applicable to us as church leaders. Over 160 short chapters on 'getting the little things right.' As church leaders, we know that the little things matter - they matter to assimilation, they matter to leadership and, of course, they matter to theology. While a few chapters only apply to big business and Tom's language can be a bit salty from time to time, the gold that is found from mining this book makes it more than worth it for any Senior Pastor. If you've never read a Tom Peters book, this one is also a great one to start with.

#4: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell - You have a good idea but can't convince your peers of its merit. You crafted a groundbreaking strategy, but the team trudges on in the same old way. Certain people move forward in their career while you seem to be stuck. If this describes you or someone you know, the problem is not the quality of what you have to offer. The problem is how you connect with people to create the results you desire.

#3: Bod 4 God: The Four Keys to Weight Loss by Steve Reynolds - The media labeled Steve Reynolds, The Anti-Fat Pastor after he lost more than 100 pounds and launched a stunningly successful weight-loss program in his church and community. In Bod 4 God, Pastor Steve reveals the four keys that have unlocked the door to health and fitness for him and for countless others who have dedicated their bodies to God! Steve had been overweight all of his life-he weighed over 100 pounds in the first grade! After playing football during high school and college, he vowed never to exercise or run laps again. That was one promise he kept, ballooning to 340 pounds and staying there for years. Now, in Bod 4 God, he shares the simple lifestyle changes-both inside and out-that led to his incredible weight loss, and he invites readers to change their lives forever by committing their bodies to God's glory! In addition, Steve shows local churches how to impact the health of their entire community, by hosting Losing to Live events, such as weight-loss competitions and team-driven fitness campaigns.

#2: Wrestling with Alligators, Prophets and Theologians by C. Peter Wagner - For the past half-century, C. Peter Wagner has been at the leading edge of the key spiritual paradigm shifts which have been accompanied by major moves of the Holy Spirit. In the 1960s the missionary movement in South America was at its peak-and Dr. Wagner was there. In the 1970s he was a recognized authority in the church-growth movement. In the 1980s he taught a popular course at Fuller Seminary with Vineyard movement leader John Wimber that advocated praying healing for the sick, spiritual mapping, identificational repentance and spiritual warfare; Dr. Wagner coined the phrase "Third Wave" to describe this fresh move of the Holy Spirit-the impact of which is still being felt today. In the 1990s he became a leader of the New Apostolic Reformation, and in the new millennium he has championed the Dominion Mandate, adopting the Seven Mountain (or 7M) template for reclaiming the culture for God's Kingdom.

#1: The Truth about Leadership: The No-fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner - In these turbulent times, when the very foundations of organizations and societies are shaken, leaders need to move beyond pessimistic predictions, trendy fads, and simplistic solutions. They need to turn to what's real and what's proven. In their engaging, personal, and bold new book, Kouzes and Posner reveal ten time-tested truths that show what every leader must know, the questions they must be prepared to answer, and the real-world issues they will likely face.

“Generation Ex-Christian” Uncovers Why People Leave the Faith

Research and surveys show that many atheists, agnostics, and spiritual-seekers who lack religious affiliation are former Christians. But there was no research-based book that explained in depth why people were leaving, until Generation Ex-Christian.

These categories were formed after Dyck interviewed nearly 100 people while researching for the book.

“I’m not a sociologist or statistician, but I knew as a journalist I could bring something to this issue by introducing people to some of the faces and the stories behind the statistics,” said Dyck to The Christian Post. “And just providing profiles of these, what I call ‘leavers,’ these 20-somethings and early-30s that have walked away from the faith. And then provide some kind of tips on how to engage them in meaningful conversations about God that will ultimately lead them back.”

While much is known about the challenges in reaching a postmodern and modern (think Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens) audience with the gospel, little if anything has been said about the other four categories in Dyck’s book.

The recoilers are not easily identifiable as a leaver category because they tend to avoid talking about their painful childhood or teenage experiences with the church that are the primary reasons they left the faith. If pressed to explain why they left the faith, many recoilers will find intellectual reasons to back up their emotional reasons, Dyck writes.

“For a child who suffers some form of ‘sanctified’ abuse, the resulting spiritual damage can haunt that person for a lifetime,” he explains in the book. “Such is the case for many recoilers – they often have experienced some form of abuse in the name of God.”

“They have become disillusioned with faith because the people they sanctified let them down. God is guilty by association.”

The author suggests finding out if a leaver is a recoiler by asking questions about their experience with the faith community, but avoiding to put them on the defensive. If someone is a recoiler, then concentrate on listening to the person’s story and empathizing with his/her pain. It is important to establish a friendship and earn trust with recoilers, Dyck writes, and to help them to reconcile with God before His people.

For neo-pagan leavers, the author spotlights Wicca, which is the fastest growing religion in the United States. Out of all the categories, Dyck reports that neo-pagan leavers have “the strongest emotional reaction to Christian faith.” Although neo-pagans are not as verbally combative as modernist leavers, if they do open up it is usually “a river of molten rage.”

Wiccans have negative feelings toward Christians because they have been repeatedly portrayed by believers as Satan-worshippers and accused of sacrificing animals and rumored to murder babies. Dyck says the first step in having a meaningful relationship with Wiccans is to defuse their negative feelings by showing familiarity with their basic beliefs and asking them what attracted them to Wicca and what problems they have with Christianity.

“Reaching neo-pagans begins with showing an appreciation for nature and a desire to protect it, all while directing them to the God of whom nature is a grand reflection,” writes Dyck.

Also, neo-pagans are attracted to spirituality so it is helpful for Christians to not be shy about talking about their own spiritual experiences.

Drifters, meanwhile, are those Christians whose faith was never that deep to begin with and it is hard to pinpoint when they actually left. These drifters, like their name suggests, just gradually drifted away without notice. They do not argue against Christianity and do not have emotional baggage from the faith. They still identify as Christians, but their life in no way reflects a commitment to Christ.

“They’re the kind who blend in, go with the flow. They were likely swept up in the faith in the first place because it was what everyone else around them was doing. Then they left for the same reason. They found themselves in a new context where Christian faith wasn’t the norm,” Dyck writes.

The author suggests challenging drifters with the hard demands of the gospel and to emphasize that church is not a social club but an “all-or-nothing proposition.” Also, it is good for drifters to form intergenerational bonds within the church instead of only being associated with the youth group.

In the interview with The Christian Post, Dyck said that he thinks the hardest leaver to bring back to Jesus Christ is the spiritual rebel. Spiritual rebels are those that have a hard time accepting the divine authority of God. They do not have an intellectual objection but a heart issue, observes Dyck. The only suggestion he has for reaching spiritual rebels is to pray a lot for them and to form relationships with them.

The other type of rebel is the one that loves to party. This type of rebel does not have an intellectual or emotional problem with the faith, but they are just unwilling to abide to Christian morality.

“A lot of young people are walking away not only from the church, but from their faith,” says Dyck. “And I don’t think that they will come back automatically. I don’t think we can count on that - some automatic return to the faith.”

The author urges older members in the church to build relationships with young people.

“Often what I found is the break from their faith came in the context of relationships, something went wrong with either a youth pastor, a parent, or some other spiritual authority. If they are going to be reconciled, come back to the church, it is going to have to happen in the context of relationships.”

[By Michelle A. Vu - Christian Post Reporter]

Monday, January 3, 2011







God’s Word brings power, healing, direction, and freedom.

Most people who have a great relationship with God read the Bible consistently. Spending time in Scripture each day gives you the opportunity to hear from Him in a unique way.

Following a reading plan helps you stay on track with your Bible reading goals. Pick one (or several) and then fine tune it to match your schedule.

Read the Bible through in 2011.

To read more, CLICK HERE.

New Year Brings New Hope for Bible Literacy

As people draft New Year's resolutions, many Christians are adopting plans to read the entire Bible in 2011.

That would be a good resolution given a study by the Center for Bible Engagement, an arm of Back to the Bible, which found Christians simply do not read the Bible enough. The Center’s study found that only one-third of Americans read the Bible every week, and even fewer, 13.9 percent, do so on most days of the week. According to the CIA World Factbook, 76.8 percent of the U.S. population is Christian.

To read more, CLICK HERE.