Category Archives: Ministry

The Institutional Suppression of Confession

When Colin Kaepernick took his stand, well really his kneel, during the National Anthem, it was a classic case of our post-modern temptation to blur the lines between categories. When I watch football, I don’t watch it for politics. I don’t watch it to relate to the players or to learn how to be a good father. I watch it for entertainment. I watch it to see athleticism and skill at the highest level. That doesn’t diminish the power of protest or even the necessity of protest by those who feel they have influence…it is just that most people don’t really want to know what their favorite athletes or even their least favorite athletes believe about particular issues. At least that is my opinion…feel free to disagree.

That brings us to the topic at hand. Do you want to know what your preacher or elders struggle with or would you rather be in the dark on that? Would it be helpful to hear Christian leaders share from experience and offer transparency via public confession or like an NFL player voicing political opinions, would you rather just not know?

I believe we need open environments to discuss things in our churches. One of the barriers to that is the fact that a preacher is tasked both with being authentic but not so transparent as to lose their job. The institutional, business environment developed in our churches make this sort of things difficult to pull off, resulting in people lacking healthy examples of confession. One could argue that healthy examples of confession should come from elsewhere and I would agree with that. You could also argue that people don’t want to hear things like that from the pulpit. Maybe they only want to hear about it after their minister or elder is on the “other side” of the issue…after healing has already taken place or maybe not at all. Who wants to believe their preacher is human? Instead, we put them on a pedestal and are devastated when the news breaks that the preacher is a real human being who made bad mistakes…the results are usually devastating to a congregation. I don’t think it has to be that way.

I don’t not believe all of our dirty laundry needs to be aired publicly nor do I believe that the pulpit should become a therapy session for the preacher where they spill their guts about everything in front of 500 people. I do believe there is a place for confession. There are weeks at the invitation where I feel like saying something that has been difficult for me during the week and I truly believe in the congregations where I have ministered they would have been okay with that…so maybe this is more about my own lack of openness than anything else!

So let me ask a few questions:

1 – Do you want to know what your preacher struggles with?

2 – How do you believe is the best way to go about sharing that?

3 – How can we both uphold the need for confession and transparency without turning the sermon into 30 minutes of a counseling session for the preacher?

Being Direct

Every eldership I have ever worked with I have told up front that I will trust them and that I expect for them to tell me anything I would need to know including any criticism that they are directing toward me. This is a very important thing to establish in any important relationship. Often weContinue Reading

Biblical Preaching and Teaching Should Stress High Expectations of Christians

The Bible is clear. Christians should be involved in ministry. Christians should be working together for the good of the kingdom. The body of Christ is the body as it is connecting and functioning together as Paul tells us in Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12. In all of my life I cannot think ofContinue Reading

The 30% shift

I am a firm believer that the mission of the church is both inward and outward. The thing many churches face is that the inward focus has so far outweighed the outward focus that we find ourselves in need of balance and so we have a tendency to over correct. In a new article atContinue Reading

Being Sent and Being Present

We live a life of sending…always another place to go and another thing to do. It is important that we are purposeful about the space between our departure and arrival…that we take time to understand that our purpose is not just when we get there but how we get there and what happens along theContinue Reading

The Power of Story Only Takes One So Far

Stories are powerful. They tap into the emotions a lot more quickly and effectively than raw data. Because they are both effective and efficient it is easy to rely on them too heavily. I have heard sermons that had many powerful stories in them but in the mix of the story telling I wasn’t reallyContinue Reading

Transition: The Space Between

Transition is an interesting place to be. When you live in the “space between” what is and what will be it creates an interesting tension that has a built in capacity to act as our teacher. Israel went through this in the wilderness. Ministers go through this between ministries. Churches go through this in theContinue Reading

The Fallacy in Pareto’s Principle…Proving the 80/20 rule wrong

The Pareto Principle is an organizational principle that goes back a number of years that states in an organization 80% of the work typically gets done by 20% of the people. I have heard this principle applied to congregational life and ministry ad nauseum and I do not believe it is correct from one particularContinue Reading

One of the Biggest Ministry Lessons I Have Ever Learned

I am still working on this little by little every day. Maybe you can relate to my latest post at Wineskins about how we as ministers often try to rescue people from things, take on burdens we shouldn’t be carrying and in the process enable people to continue to be spiritually and emotionally immature. SeeContinue Reading

Self-differentiation

This is a term that has meant a great deal to me in 2015. It is a term that helps us define where we end and where everyone and everything else begins. When we let people or circumstances define our emotions we have problems with self-differentiation. It is important to not let others steal yourContinue Reading

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