Maximize Your Summer

Resources on Seeing the Story of God in the Bible

Michael Wallenmeyer has put together a good list of resources on the Story of God in Scripture:

My buddy, Cam Potts, also pointed me to this great resource that "provides a beautiful, powerful, yet simple explanation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ using 4 major themes found in the Bible: Creation. The Fall. The Rescue. The Restoration." Check out the website for more info.

Get to Know John Dickson

My friend, Matt Perman, recently guest blogged at the Leadership Summit at Willow Creek. He wrote that John Dickson's message on humility was the best he's heard on the subject. Dickson is Director of the Centre for Public Christianity and Sr. Minister, St. Andrews Anglican Church, Sydney, Australia. I had the privilege of meeting him at a conference we held for pastors back in 2008. He's the real deal - probably the clearest (and most encouraging) speaker on the topic of evangelism I've ever heard. I encourage you to read John's books and listen to some of his messages here.

How Do We Reach Over-Churched Kids? (Video)

Tony Kummer, from ministry-to-children.com, recently asked me to respond to the problem of over-churched kids. By over-churched kids, he means kids with too much religion and not enough actual interaction with Jesus. This is a relevant issue for pastors' kids. My short answer is that we must model the gospel to our kids and get them on mission early as a church family.

  • Check out a few other video responses to the question here
  • Read Tony's 9 Strategies for Reaching Over-Churched Kids

Are You Engaging Your Neighborhood?

Michael Wallenmeyer challenges us to ask these questions as we seek to engage our neighborhoods:

  1. Without asking someone else, can I provide the first and last names of the people who live beside (or above and below) me?
  2. What can I describe about their lives that can be known only by someone who has been inside their home?
  3. What are some of the God-shaped longings and/or questions that currently shape their lives?

And I'm especially challenged by this last question:

How cool would it be if when people asked us what God was up to in our church, instead of heading to our buildings, we took them for a extended tour through our neighborhood to show them?

Read the whole thing.

Basics Conference: Do the Work of an Evangelist

Basics 2011

Alistair Begg, John Dickson and Rico Tice teamed up for this year's Basics Conference at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio. The theme: Doing the Work of an Evangelist. Everyone loves Begg. Dickson is one of the clearest speakers on evangelism I've ever heard. And Tice spent the last few years developing the highly acclaimed, Christianity Explored. Quite a line-up.

My pastor, Tony Rose, said it was one of the best conferences he's been to in awhile. Check out all the sessions here.

What Will They See this Easter Sunday?

As people enter our doors this Easter Sunday, will they see us as real people worshiping a real Savior? Will they enter a community of grace? Tim Chester, in his excellent book, You Can Change, lists some great questions to discern if your church is a community of grace, and thus attractive to broken, needy sinners.

  • Are people open about their sin or is there a culture of pretending?
  • Is community life messy or sanitized?
  • Are broken people attracted to your community?
  • Is conflict out in the open or is it suppressed?
  • Are forgiveness and reconciliation actively pursued?
  • Do you constantly return to the cross in your conversation, prayers and praise?

Bringing the Gospel Home

Randy Newman on his new book, Bringing the Gospel Home:

Whenever I have spoken about evangelism, the number one question I get asked is, “How do I witness to my family.” Often the question is posed with tears and anguish. So I decided to tackle this emotionally charged topic by focussing on the goodness of the gospel, the high priority of family, and the complexity of communication. My goal in writing this book is to offer people hope by pointing them to scripture and telling a variety of stories of others who have witnessed to family.

This book comes out in April 2011 - pre-order a copy.

Discerning a Child's Profession of Faith

Sometimes it's difficult to discern the validity of a child's profession of faith. We complicate things further when we look for the wrong thing. When I started out in ministry I remember someone telling me that a child's love for Jesus is a good indicator that he or she is saved. There's some truth to that. Our faith should be evidenced by a change in our affections. We ought to love Jesus and hate our sin. Yet discerning how much a child loves Jesus is difficult to gauge. Indeed, many children grow up "loving Jesus" and admiring him as a great person. So the question of how much a child loves Jesus isn't very helpful. A better question is how much does this child understand (and embrace) the love Jesus has for him. 1 John 4:10 says,

"Herein is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."

This verse puts the emphasis in the right place. It's not what I do for Jesus that saves me, it's what Jesus has done for me. My salvation (and assurance of salvation) is not based on how much I love Jesus, it's based on how much Jesus has loved me through his substitutionary death on the cross.

Community that Pushes Us Out of Our Comfort Zone

When we picture community in the church we usually think about sitting in a safe, comfortable home with our small group laughing and hanging out together.  And that's a good thing.  We need that! But I often wonder if real community can only happen when we get off the couch and get into the lives of people and risk something for the gospel. Alan Hirsch calls this communitas--the next level of community where individuals come together in a common mission that may include suffering and opposition.  His thoughts are compelling:

What do you think?  Do you agree with Hirsch?  Can real community (communitas) happen without moving into the lives of people outside the church?

Now is the Time to Invite

I saw this statistic today and thought it was worthy to share: Top Five Times People Are Open To Considering Matters Of Faith…

* #5 – After the birth of a baby (28%) * #4 – After a natural disaster (34%) * #3 – After a major national crisis i.e. 9/11 (38%) * #2 – During the Easter season (38%) * #1 – During the Christmas season (47%)

Who will you personally invite into your church and into your home this Christmas?

Using Silly Bands to Share the Gospel

A couple weeks ago at our Wed. night ministry to families (called SEEDS), I shared the gospel using giant silly bands!  I got the idea from this great website and made it my own.  The basic outline: God is the King (Gold Crown), We are Sinners (Black Heart), Jesus is the Savior (Red Cross), and Turn, Trust and Follow (Green Foot), is an easy way for kids to remember the gospel visually.  Special thanks to Connie Homola for making these silly bands out of PVC pipe!