Comfort in Andy Stanley’s Bad Words

Not long ago Andy Stanley goofed. He made a brassy statement from the pulpit that received immediate backlash from the Christian internet community, and I for one find comfort in the whole ordeal.

Here’s the context.

While preaching a sermon that was aired online Stanley attempted to make a case for large churches because he believes bigger churches facilitate better communities in which to situation their youth and junior youth.

That’s fine. Big church folk have always advocated the big church model, and small church folk have often advocated for the small church model.

There’s nothing new about that ugly family feud, as unfortunate as it is.

But here’s where Stanley crossed the line:

“When I hear adults say, ‘Well, I don’t like a big church. I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,’ I say, ‘You are so stinkin’ selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids, anybody else’s kids…I’m saying if you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big old church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church.”

Those are some of the most audacious and loaded phrases I’ve ever heard a Christian professional utter.

The online community’s response was swift and led to this follow up tweet:

I have said some stupid things from the pulpit. I mean, I’ve said some really, REALLY dumb things that were, at the time, completely out of line.

In fact (and this might come as a surprise to some people but…) just because something comes from the pulpit doesn’t mean it’s God ordained.

And like Stanley, it often isn’t until after I’ve watched the sermon on video did I realize how dumb something I said was.

It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating. And it has happened to almost every pastor, every lay minster, every itinerate preacher that I’ve ever known.

So I for one find this whole ordeal with Andy Stanley’s comments comforting.

Sorry Andy, I don’t mean to take comfort in your very public blunder.

But it is comforting to know that if it could happen to such a high-profile, well respect pastor, leader and author, that it could happen to any of us. Especially me.

I no longer feel like a little guy standing up next to the impervious giants of the pulpits.

I’m still a little guy in a little (small church) pulpit. That hasn’t’ changed.

What has changed is that the impervious giants of the pulpits aren’t actually impervious and aren’t actually giants.

It’s a comfort to know that we’re all human.

Even in the pulpit.

Andy, apology accepted!

Do you need a degree to minister and be heard?

Hey, recently I read about a guy who hated writing and who dropped out of college to become a bestselling author. Yes, you heard that right. He hated writing, but he dropped out of college to become a bestselling author.

And from that book he launched a business and career and influences hundreds and thousand of people every single day.

Today he has courses online. He teaches. He has other bestselling books.

And he doesn’t even have a college degree.

Isn’t that crazy?

Why would so many people read a book written by a recent college drop out?

It used to be that if you wanted to be heard, you had to have “something under your belt.”

Even if you wanted to start a ministry, nobody would take you seriously if you didn’t at least finish Bible college.

But that’s not the case anymore.

There’s a young homeschooled girl here in my hometown who recently graduated high school and when she did she started a ministry using nothing more than a blog and social media.

In one year her Facebook page grew to more than 3,000 followers, her blog has exploded. She developed a team of ministry partners and leads and facilitates online Bible studies.

Why would so many people gather around, follow and be influenced by a young girl fresh out of homeschooling?

The answer is we live in a world radically different than anything before.

Today people will judge you on your passion before they judge you on your level of education.

If you’re passionate about helping people, you win. It really is that simple. The more passionate you are, the more you win.

Technology has made this possible.

We no longer need permission from gatekeepers to have influence, get our message out and help people around the world.

All you need is to use the technology that is already at your fingertips, And when you combine that with the right strategy, you’ll have a fool-proof recipe for…

  • Launching a ministry
  • Planting a church
  • Writing a book
  • Teaching online courses
  • Leading online Bible studies
  • Creating innovation within your local community
  • Starting an apologetics or evangelism ministry
  • Running a discipleship program
  • Beginning a coaching ministry
  • Or whatever else you can imagine…

And the best part is nobody is standing in your way.

But there are people willing to help you. And I’m one of them.

I took a college run class on social media (heck, I could have taught the class, but I wanted to see what it had to offer), and here’s the thing: the curriculum for the class was only six months old and already it was outdated!

In the past this wouldn’t be a problem. Post-secondary curriculum would often be good for a decade or so. Maybe longer.

But after six months the material used to teach me in this college class last year on social media was already out of date!

There goes $500 bucks!

Today’s challenge and opportunity

If you’re in ministry – whether you’re a pastor, small group leader, evangelist, youth leader, etc. – or if you want to start your own ministry like the young women I mentioned above, you need to stay on top of the best ways to use this technology for God’s kingdom.

You need to stay current. You need training.

But traditional education will take up too much of your time. Too much money. And by the time you enrol the material will already be outdated!

So that’s the challenge. And that’s why I created iGospel Academy. iGospel Academy is a cheap and highly effective solution to your greatest challenge: how to continue to innovate and use today’s technology for God’s Kingdom in a way that’s affordable and flexible with your time.

iGospel Academy is a ministry-training and empowering website designed to help mission-minded Christians learn to use today’s technology and leadership tools to reach more people for God’s Kingdom.

In the Academy you’ll find interviews and presentations by church leaders and social media practitioners who are having amazing results through their unique approaches to ministry.

Learn what they are doing, learn from them, discover how they are doing it and then follow the accompanying action guides that will help you produce similar results.

In the Academy…

  • Vince Antonucci, pastor of the Verve church in Las Vegas, will teach you how to do innovative church services for people who don’t like church
  • Jason Caston, author of the iChurch Method, will teach you how to launch an Internet Church Campus
  • Anna Powers will talk about Periscope and what live video can do for your ministry
  • Janet Sewell, a missionary and apologist in Greece, will share with you how to Evangelize in the digital space
  • Keith Webb, author of The Coach Model, will show you how to become a ministry coach
  • And that’s just to name of few of the many presentations in the Academy.
  • Plus you’ll learn:
    • How to launch a ministry with a book, and get it on one of Amazon’s #1 lists
    • How to increase your Facebook organic reach
    • How to grow your Twitter account fast with maximum impact
    • How to be more consistent and save time on social media with content buckets
    • And more…

My goal with iGospel Academy is to bring solid, high quality training to ministry leaders and mission-minded Christians at a price anybody can afford.

If this sounds like something you’re interested in then let me tell you about an early bird special that ends Wednesday, March 16th, at midnight (EST). You can scoop up a membership into the Academy for only $15 a month, or $130 a year or $400 for a lifetime membership (which is cheaper than taking one class at your local college!).

Plus, if you enrol before midnight Wednesday, you won’t pay anything for 30 days. This will give you some time to check out the content in the Academy to see if it’s right for you before you pay.

Today is the best time to join the Academy. After Wednesday the price will go up (slightly) and the first month free option will be gone.

So click here if you want to learn more or to take advantage of this opportunity.

LEARN MORE!

I hope to see you on the inside!

What we talk about when we talk about the Gospel?

Remarkable Gospel! Series - II

In this post I’ll be continuing my Remarkable Gospel! series. We launched this series in the previous post (click here) where I challenged you to take an honest look at the gospel and ask yourself, is it still remarkable today? To answer that question we’re now stepping back and asking ourselves, what do we mean when we talk about the “Gospel”?

How-To Guides Are Unremarkable

Have you ever seen a Tweet that looks like this:ikea3

I bet in the history of social media nobody has ever Tweeted that.

Because nobody finds instructions remarkable. I know I don’t. In fact, much to the chagrin of my wife, I’d prefer not even looking at instructions when putting something together if I can avoid it.

Instruction manuals are a means to an end and most people only look over as few of the instructions as absolutely necessary to arrive at their goals.

Recently we purchased a brand new SUV to accommodate our growing family (with baby #2 on the way, our little Fiesta will no longer do). With our new Escape came a “user manual.” And guess how many times we read it?

Zero. We haven’t even cracked the spine even though there are features in this new car that we’ve never seen before.

Because user manuals, how-to guides, instruction books – they are boring. They are completely unremarkable. We use them when necessary, and not a moment more than that, and we certainly don’t talk about them.

The Gospel Is Not A How-To Guide

Is the Gospel Still Remarkable?

Remarkable Gospel! Series - I

Over the next few weeks I’ll be running a series called “Remarkable Gospel!” The way I see it, if the Gospel is still remarkable, then it should be sharable, contagious and impactful enough for it to spread organically in the digital space. So I hope you enjoy this Remarkable Gospel! series. No. I hope you find it, remarkable!

The word “remarkable” means “worth remarking about.” The dictionary goes on to use these synonyms: striking, exceptional, stunning.

For something to be remarkable it has to be absolutely stunning. It has to stun people. Stop them in their tracks. Stand out as exceptional.

That’s another good one. Exceptional, which the dictionary defines as unusual.

When something is so unusual that it stuns people into a moment of silence (often followed by exhilarating enthusiasm), it gets shared. And then shared again, and again and again.

That’s why Robert Stephens, founder of Geek Squad, said “Advertising is a tax you pay for being unremarkable.” Because if something is unremarkable, people won’t share it. If it’s unremarkable you have to pay to get the word out. But if something is remarkable, it goes viral. It spreads naturally.

Now does that sound like the Gospel to you?

Is the Gospel remarkable?

Before you answer, take off your church hat, or your “spirituality hat” or your “I’m just a Jesus follower” hat or whatever hat you’re wearing. Take it off, and take off your shoes too. Those holy shoes. Those churchy shoes. Those ministry shoes. Take them off.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you naked. You can keep your clothes on (for now).

But now that you’ve got your churchy hat off, and you’re barefoot, I want you to slip on shoes that belong to someone who has never stepped foot into a church.

Feels weird doesn’t it? To wear shoes that have been worn by other people. The toe grooves are in a different place. You get the sense that their sweat and foot oder is mingling with your own, and you don’t like that. We can tolerate our own foot oder, but a goulash of other people’s foot oder mixed with ours is just too much.

Good. This exercise isn’t meant to be comfortable. It’s meant to give you perspective.

When I asked ten Christians if they believed the Gospel was remarkable, each one said it was. But they had to say that, didn’t they? I mean, it’s part of the script. Can you imagine if one of them said, “No way, it’s boring as hell!”

The room would come alive with gasps of shock (admit it, someone reading this just gasped too!).

But when we follow a script (and we Christians are so good at following our script that we don’t even realize it!), we’re not being very honest.

There’s a difference between whether something is remarkable, and whether something should be remarkable.

No question the Gospel should be remarkable. No question the Gospel was remarkable in the past.

But is it remarkable today?

To answer that question we need to go back and ask ourselves what made the Gospel remarkable in the first place. We’ll explore that in the next post in this series. But for now, I have a little assignment for you.

ASSIGNMENT: Ask ten Christians from three different generations if they believe the Gospel is remarkable and document their answers. Pay particular attention to the responses that Millennials give.

Question: Share the results from your assignment in the comment section beneath this post. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

A Sunday In The Life Of A SoundTech Person

When my good friend Bob first trained me to be a part of the sound team at church I was only 14 years old. He began by giving me an overview of the soundboard. Then proceeded to walk me around the sanctuary while blaring loud tunes through the system to show me how the various sounds waves intersect, where the dead zones are and how to be sensitive to it’s impact on the audience depending on where they are in the room. Finally he brought me up to the platform and with great care explained how important it was to keep the cords nice and tidy, coiled up near the stands, but not too tightly as to break the wiring on the inside. Recently he posted an essay on Facebook titled, ‘A Typical Day In The Life Of A Sound Tech At Church.’ With permission I’m sharing it with you. Hats off to the real silent heroes of Sunday morning. People don’t even notice you, unless of course someone on stage points a mic to a speaker and a godawful screeching sound reels through the building. Then you get all the attention.

A Typical Day In The Life Of A Sound Tech At Church

I warn you … you will not like it!!!

1) The Sound Tech (hereafter referred to as the ST) always arrives first. They turn on the lights, stoke the fire, apply power to the entire system (then the mixer, amps first, then any other peripheral gear like CD players). Since they are really nice people, they also turn on the video projector and boot the computer (preferably in that order).

2) Before turning on the mixer, the wise ST will scan the board – and bring down any sliders that may have inadvertently been turned to max (by very little children, of course). We do not want blown tweeters or horns, minutes before the show.

3) The ST will now don their running shoes and jog (must stay in shape!) to the platform and make sure that the musicians actually cleaned up their cords, re-wound all mike cables, replaced all music stands and picked up any broken guitar strings. The musicians will have done this OF COURSE, but the ST will double check, JUST IN CASE. Before they leave the stage, it will look immaculate – as if the Grammy Awards were about to happen – only better because this is for the Lord and His people. The wise ST will also listen for any weird hums, hisses, crackles and other rude sounds that indicate the stage is about to burn down. They will correct these, faster than Scotty can fix the Enterprise and Samantha Carter can blow up a sun. Neater too!

Facebook Debating Is A Bad Idea

ChristianWeek
February 2, 2016

Recently I contributed an article for the Canadian Christian online magazine titled, “Facebook Debating Is A Bad Idea.”

You can check out the whole article by clicking here.

But if all you need are the cliffsnotes, here are six reasons why Facebook debating is a bad idea:

1. Everyone with an keyboard and an opinion can chime in

“It’s difficult to have a reasonable conversation with a high percentage of people on Facebook. And if we’re going to be honest, that sometimes includes us too.” ⇐Tweet That

2. Some people just want to debate

“When someone wants to debate, lives to debate, thrives on debate (for God only knows what reasons), they will never stop. They live and move for the last word.” ⇐Tweet That

3. It accomplishes nothing

“Almost nothing good ever comes out of debating on Facebook.” ⇐Tweet That

4. It destroys testimonies

“It’s a relational buzz-kill. If you’re trying to build credibility and relationships, don’t get caught up in petty debates.” ⇐Tweet That

5. A Facebook debate is not a debate ⇐Tweet That

“In real debates no one expects that either side will change their views (I don’t know that it has ever happened in a professional debate). The purpose of the debate is so that the audience can hear the opposing views and make an educated opinion on who has the stronger arguments.”

6. Faceless Facebook

“I have seen relationships ruined over a debate that could have been better served up and resolved over a cup of coffee.” ⇐Tweet That

Read the full article here. And if you liked this content and found it helpful, why not subscribe to receive them right in your e-box. Click Here!

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5 Tips for a Better Year

How to avoid the habit of defeat

Every year is the same. On New Year’s Eve my Facebook and Twitter feeds get flooded with memes, tweets and text updates of people bemoaning the year and hoping for a better one. And despite their best hopes, I’m confident that the next New Year’s Eve I’ll see the same memes, tweets and text updates, often by the same people. It’s a habit of defeat.

I’m familiar with the habit of defeat because I practically invented it.

It’s easy to identify if you have a habit of defeat. You have a habit of defeat if: 1) you find it difficult to recall the highlights of your year; 2) your negative experiences overshadow your positive ones; 3) you find it difficult to smile and be thankful for the little things in the monotony of life; 4) you feel like life is a treadmill; and 5) you have a victim’s mentality, always having to defend yourself.

These traits defined me for too many years. But something my wife said to me years ago while we were still dating started me on a journey from having a habit of defeat to a habit of joy. She said, “When I grow old, I want to have happy wrinkles.” What an emotionally powerful statement! And in that moment I realized that if I stayed my course, I’d have angry wrinkles. I was too accustomed to frowning and arguing and drinking from a life I thought was half empty.

Today I have a different attitude. Not that I don’t struggle. I spent twenty-seven years practicing a habit of defeat, and only seven learning to develop of habit of joy.

And here are five things I’ve learned to do to avoid a habit of defeat and make the most of my year with every passing cycle.