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Leadership, Leadership, Start Here
When John Piper was asked what he learned in ministry the hard way, this was his response:
Don’t assume that all fat people are gluttons. And don’t use the word fat. There is a principle here. Learn from logic and experience not to associate things—especially in preaching—that don’t necessarily go together. Another way to say it is: be hyper-vigilant to avoid and explode stereotypes. Not all single women want to be married. Not all boys like football. Not all homemakers like to cook. Not all messy people are lazy. And not all the obese are gluttons. There are glands and diabetes and a dozen conditions you never heard of that may account for things. Put your sermon through the counter-stereotype sieve.
via On stereotypes, risks, and Jesus: Driscoll interviews Piper | The Resurgence (link no longer available) What is the ONE thing that YOU would say you had to learn the HARD way in ministry? Please DO share! Todd

“The church in America today is slowly awakening from the distortion of about 350 years of dominance and prosperity.” Until recently, being a Christian has been seen as normal. Until recently, being a Christian has generally resulted in things going well for you. We are Christian.  We are Americans. The distortion has created an unbiblical mindset that hasn’t been good for us. keep reading

I really like the post that Michael Lukaszewski posted yesterday.  He talks about how pastors always think that the people in their churches are just like them. The reality is… they’re not. Here are some of Michael’s examples: They don’t know who John Piper or Steven Furtick are.  They are confused when you quote them without context. They aren’t familiar with their Bibles.  When you say, “You know…like it says in First Timothy,” they absolutely don’t know. They don’t work in a Christian environment.  They aren’t surrounded by Christians who love worship music and some have bosses who are jerks. They don’t go to conferences.  It’s a way of life for many church leaders, but the most people don’t do it. They don’t go to church every week.  This might be the biggest of all.  You’re there every week; they are not. Here are some more differences… Here some additional ones that I’d add: 1.  They don’t have a clue what you do all week, and they probably think you make too much money. 2.  They expect totally different things from you than the way you are spending your day today. 3.  For 90% of your attenders, the next time they think about you or your church is the next Sunday morning or Saturday night… and the thought is “Am I going to get up and go to church?” 4.  They think you’ve got a pretty easy job.  You think you have the hardest job in the world. What would YOU add to the list?

From the Knoxville News: One of the most influential pastors of the 21st century is stepping down from his Minnesota pulpit and moving to East Tennessee. Evangelical preacher, theologian and author John Piper, 66, recently told the Minnesota Star Tribune that he and his wife of 44 years, Noel, and their 17-year-old daughter Talitha will move to the Knoxville area in the spring for about a year while he works on his writing. The family plans to return to their home in Minneapolis, Minn., afterward. Piper said he is giving up the daily responsibilities of running megachurch Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, which has three campuses and close to 5,000 weekly attendees. // Read more here… Wise move on John Piper’s part.  That will give his successor room to lead without Piper’s shadow for at least the next year. I love it when you hear of things being conducted in a healthy manner!
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John Piper talks about some of the biggest risks he has taken in ministry: I took a risk in hiring a minister for students. The church consisted of 300 gray heads when I came—virtually no students at first. But across the street were 55,000 students at the University of Minnesota. The less visionary folks said, “Students are here today and gone tomorrow—bad investment.” I said, “What a way to spread!” We called Tom Steller. Before long, the student ministry on Sunday morning was half as big as the rest of us. Tom is still with me at Bethlehem. I took a risk less than two years into my ministry by proposing that the Church Covenant be amended to remove the requirement of teetotalism for membership. I’m a teetotaler. But to me, this came so close to Galatianism (the idea that, to be a complete Christian, you need circumcision) that I staked my ministry on it. Some of my supporters were shocked, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union chapter said the church had called a liberal who would take us down the road to unbelief. It passed, but barely. I’m still here and have not heard the charge of liberal in a long time. Read more via On stereotypes, risks, and Jesus: Driscoll interviews Piper What is the biggest risk YOU’VE ever taken in ministry? Todd

Recently, Mark Driscoll sat down with John Piper and asked him what advice he would have given himself when he started in the ministry: John Piper: I would quote to him V. Raymond Edman: “Don’t question in the dark what God showed you in the light.” Darkness comes. In the middle of it, the future looks blank. The temptation to quit is huge. Don’t. You are in good company. You are in the pit with King David. He waited. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction” (Ps. 40:1–2). God will do that for you. You will argue with yourself that there is no way forward. But with God, nothing is impossible. He has more ropes and ladders and tunnels out of pits than you can conceive. Wait. Pray without ceasing. Hope. To that, I’d add: Outrun your people and your colleagues in thinking. That is, stay ahead of them in thinking through biblical implications of what is being said or proposed. Make a practice of thinking before a meeting. Think of as many implications of a proposal as you can. Think of as many objections to the proposal as you can. Think of good biblical answers to all those objections. Think of how much it will cost and how it will be paid for. Think of who might implement it. Think of the ways that it will bring joy—or temporary sorrow. Think about its relation to a dozen other things that people like or don’t like. Sit with your pencil in your hand (or your fingers on the keyboard) and doodle until you’ve exhausted the possibilities, or the time you have. Go to the meeting having thought more than any one else, and more deeply than anyone else. This is what good leaders do. Read more via On stereotypes, risks, and Jesus: Driscoll interviews Piper What would YOU have told yourself if you had the chance? Todd

10,000+ comments. John Piper. Why homosexuality is wrong. Watch the video. What did you think? Now read the comments. Does it change your feelings at all? How do you respond to someone who says that this is just more ‘conservative christian bullshit rhetoric’? Before you quickly respond… look at the sheer number of people represented by these comments. Many of them look at Piper’s words as hateful, or at best, ill-advised. So… how do you respond to these souls? (My first thought here is that many times we make issues like homosexuality the first point people hear.  It’s far more important that they hear about the gospel than about our view on homosexuality). I’m not down on Piper at all for answering the question.  It’s an important question, with an equally important answer. I’m just wondering how we can answer the question without alienating so many people with our response… because our answer to the homosexuality question is not the most important question that should be asked. How do YOU answer the question when you’re asked? Todd HT:

Agree or Disagree?
“The mature worshiper is easily edified.” When hearing lackluster (even if biblical) preaching, immatureworshipers will typically not listen to the message because they wish the messenger was more exciting. Conversely, mature worshipers eagerly receive the truth as it is proclaimed, even if it sounds like the preacher is reading a phone book.
Found here… Agree or disagree? If I got up and read from Lamentations like Ben Stine for 50 minutes, is it right for me to think that you should be edified? I certainly hope not. (OK… hearing Ben Stine read Lamentations could actually be interesting). And if you agree with the quote… why is all the burden on the worshipper?  I could be really into Jesus and worship, but if you’re reading from a phonebook, my mind is bound to wander. How immature is THAT?

Check out this quote from John Piper:
We should never deal with sexual attraction in the abstract. It is always entangled with other facets of our soul, that may, at first glance seem disconnected from our sexual drives.
Here’s another excerpt:
We should deepen our analysis of what is really going on in a person’s soul before we conclude that a person is fixed in a same-sex orientation. For example, we may find that a man’s homosexual exploits are really a manifestation of a deeper spiritual issue of being harsh and controlling.
As I look at it… of course… most of our sins (whatever they are) are ‘entangled with other facets of our soul’.  Sin is highly complex.  That is how someone called to ministry falls from grace in the most unbelievably embarrassing way.  It is a dark journey that, as Piper states, is entangled with so many other facets of our soul. Read Piper’s comments here. But can you say that, and draw the conclusion that a man’s homosexual ‘exploits’ are really just a manifestation of other things like harshness or the need to control? I suppose it could be. Or… they could be gay. I understand what Piper is saying, and I agree to an extent. But I wonder if sometimes we try to read in to what sin is really committed (and why). There is none of us that is righteous.  (No not one). As you deal with homosexuals in your community, church, family, for example,… how do you deal with them? Do you try to diagnose the base level sin (pride, control, selfishness)? Piper’s main point is that we can not over-generalize when it comes to people with same-sex issues.  His examples are ‘predatory lesbians’ (what in the WORLD is that?) and men experimenting because they’re lonely. What do YOU think? How would you counsel a ‘predatory lesbian’? How would you counsel a man experimenting?  (Would you say he’s gay or just trying to not be lonely?) And how would you counsel overall?  Would you look for root issues that are causing the homosexual behavior to flare, or would you start with the fact that they are just ‘gay’? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Todd

Interesting quote from John Piper.  Agree or disagree? I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching. And I think that, to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it’s going to backfire. It’s going to backfire. It’s going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn’t save, preaching doesn’t hold, but entertainment does. And we’ll just go further and further. So we don’t do video clips during the sermon. We don’t do skits. What do YOU think? A few of my initial thoughts, (which will probably get me in trouble)… 1.  Preaching DOESN’T save. 2.  Most preaching doesn’t hold attention these days. 3.  Do you think that preaching is the ultimate?  Can God not work without preaching?  Will people not be saved?  Will people not grow without preaching?  Is preaching the ultimate reason we gather on the weekend?  Is it far over and above worship, fellowship, giving, etc.? 4.  Jesus did preach in the NT, but we also see Jesus doing many other things that seemed, at least to him, to be really (really) important. 5.  Piper is right.  I mean… Jesus and Paul never used video clips or skits when they preached. 6.  Jesus was a storyteller.  To say that he would only tell his stories today through spoken word is a stretch, I think. I like John Piper… but I think that he’s kind of putting his type of preaching on a pretty big pedestal, which is fine.  Many pastors do. Don’t get me wrong.  Preaching is important.  But it’s not the be all end all as some would like us to think. At least not in my opinion. OK… take your shots at me.  I’m wearing my armor. 🙂 Todd Here’s the link to the article…

Current Events
C.J. Mahaney, one of the leaders of the resurgence in Calvinism among some conservative evangelicals, is taking a leave of absence from his ministry due to unspecific but serious charges, he and his board have announced. Mahaney has been president of the Maryland-based Sovereign Grace Ministries, a church-planting network that says it has 97 churches here and abroad. They are mainly clustered on the East Coast — none in Kentucky or Indiana — with others scattered throughout the country and abroad. But his influence extends beyond that church, as he is a popular author and speaker. He was one of the main speakers at a Together for the Gospel convention that drew thousands of attendees last year to the Kentucky International Convention Center. He appeared on a program that included Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Minnesota pastor John Piper and other A-list speakers from the New Calvinist movement, which promotes beliefs in such things as in male authority in churches and homes, the divine direction of events rather than human free will, and church discipline of its members. via ‘Serious’ charges vs. popular pastor, author Mahaney | Faith & Works.