The Church on the Ground Versus the Church In Your Head

I'm over at Southern Seminary Equip today talking about the reality of shepherding. Here is an excerpt: You envisioned, in your first ministry, leading with the help of a robust elder board, made up of guys who read Calvin, together, on the weekends. You were going to launch a human trafficking ministry in your first year, an apprenticeship program in your second year, and, if all goes well, a church planting initiative in your third. But the church on the ground seems vastly different than the church in your head. One of your elders wonders why you don’t let the congregation know who you think the antichrist is. The other thinks projecting music on the wall is a slippery slope toward Laodicea. And yet another wants to show Carman’s patriotic video from 1980 on the Sunday before the the Fourth of July. None of your ecclesiology books covered this. I’m exaggerating these situations...

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Equipping Students for Ministry in a Post-Christian Age

Facebook may not seem like a discipleship tool to most pastors. But when I served my congregation in northern Illinois, this social networking tool provided me with an unexpected assist in discerning the spiritual lives of my parishioners, particularly the students. Facebook provides a platform for young people to share what they really think, liberating them in ways they may not feel comfortable with in front of parents or other influencers. One night I was scrolling my timeline and I came across a shocking post from a kid I thought I knew. This was a young person I thought I knew. She had regularly attended youth group and church. But what she posted—about a major cultural issue—was in direct opposition to the gospel truth she heard on Sundays. It reminded me of how important my job was as a pastor. I couldn’t assume the young people in my circle of influence...

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A modest, post-election goal for everyone

We just finished perhaps the most divisive election in modern history. The good news is that the election is over and we are experiencing what few countries experience: a peaceful transfer of power. It was good to see the President and President-elect meet and discuss the transition. But there is stil much division in the country. I can commend a few pieces to you on this. First one by my boss Russell Moore and another by a favorite pastor of mine, Erwin Lutzer. You might also read this great piece at Desiring God and this analysis of the election by Kirsten Powers. I also loved this beautiful gospel testimony by Ernie Johnson. We are a divided nation and, even if they give it their best, our political leaders and parties and movements cannot bring the kind of unity we need. Only neighbor-love, expressed by the people of God, can help show a...

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Passing the Faith Along

Here is a post I wrote for Green Hill Church on parenting as discipleship. A few tips for passing the faith along: Remember we do this in community. We don’t parent in isolation, we parent in community with the body of Christ in our local church. The church is there to equip, strengthen, and resource parents. And parents should learn, grow, confess, repent, and laugh together as they raise their children to love Jesus. Rely on the Spirit of God. This job of parenting is bigger than we can handle. This is why we need Holy Spirit power and wisdom. Doing it alone will lead us to burn out or give up on the enterprise all together. Resources are our friends. There are many, incredible resources out there that make this job of passing the faith along that much easier. In a follow up blog post, I will highlight a few that have...

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