Archives For Leadership development

In whom should a pastor invest?

Chris —  February 5, 2010

Guys –-here is one of the reasons I am making ministry to our men such a priority.

Colin Marshall and Tony Payne in the recommended, The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind Shift that Changes Everything:

But if we pour all our time into caring for those who need help, the stable Christians will stagnate and never be trained to minister to others, the non-Christians will stay unevangelized, and a rule of thumb will quickly emerge within the congregation: if you want the pastor’s time and attention, get yourself a problem.  Ministry becomes about problems and counselling, and not about the gospel and growing in godliness.

And over time, the vine withers.

A new Bible is like fresh snow

Chris —  February 3, 2010

I have a new Bible in my cupboard.  Once Sabbatical arrives, I will peel the shrink wrapping off and begin devouring it (Jeremiah 15:16).  And, my prayer (Psalm 119:18 –-see here) is that God will speak into my life in new and exciting ways.  When He answers that prayer, I will track up the snow of my new Bible by writing out in the margins what God is teaching me – – meditating with pen in hand – – ready to hear from God in living and dynamic ways. 

Remember, the principle means by which God speaks to us today is through His Word.  When we read prayerfully hear the Word of God, then the Spirit will illuminate it in ways that revive our souls,make wise the simple, give joy to the heart, and light to the eyes (Psalm 19:7-11).

With the fresh white pages of my new Bible, I will feel like our friends in the last Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, who looking at a fresh blanket of snow say to one another, “It’s a magical world, let’s go exploring.” 

After the exploring of Sabbatical is over, I’ll have a marked up Bible that will remind me of fresh tracks on my heart. 

And, the reality is, believers have a new Bible every day.  God’s Word is always living and active.  Let’s go exploring.


My son will be proud of me for putting in the below link.

Meditate with pen in hand

Chris —  January 27, 2010

One of the things we’re encouraging our leaders to do is to write in their Bibles.

  • When you read the day’s chapter of Proverbs, paraphrase the Proverb that gets your attention (See here).  So, today is the 27th.  Read Proverbs 27 with pen in hand!
  • Journal your prayers.  Write out sentence prayers.  Pray with pen in hand.
  • Write out your Scripture memory verses (See here).
  • Write the date at the end of a book of the Bible each time you read it (See here).

Stephen Altrogge has a very helpful post on how to meditate on Scripture.

Meditate With Pen In Hand
I first heard of this from John Piper, who said the following:

“A pastor will not be able to feed his flock rich and challenging insight into God’s word unless he becomes a disciplined thinker. But almost none of us does this by nature. We must train ourselves to do it. And one of the best ways to train ourselves to think about what we read is to read with pen in hand and to write down a train of thought that comes to mind. Without this, we simply cannot sustain a sequence of questions and answers long enough to come to penetrating conclusions”

The practice of writing down my thoughts as I read my Bible has had a transforming effect on my devotional times. Writing forces me to think through each verse, and to trace the logic of each passage. It helps me to fight distraction and to focus all my attention on the words before me. Go out and get yourself a Moleskine Watercolor Notebook Large journal and start writing as you read.

Read more of Stephen Altrogge’s excellent thoughts here.

One of our central values as a local church is the preaching of the Word.  The Bible teaches that the proclamation of the Word is God’s appointed means (2 Timothy 4:1) for building up God’s people (Ephesians 4:11-13, Titus 1:3).

The goal for our local church is to increasingly value biblical preaching.  One of our most immediate goals is to demonstrate our commitment to preaching by seeing a group of men consistently pray with me before the sermon.

There is a great deal to be learned by the below article by Al Mohler.

Al Mohler:

Preaching has fallen on hard times. So suggests a report out of Durham University’s College of Preachers. The British university’s CODEC research center, which aims to explore “the interfaces between the Bible, the digital environment and contemporary culture,” conducted the study to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the College of Preachers. The report is not very encouraging.

As Ruth Gledhill of The Times [London] reports, “Sermons, history shows, can be among the most revolutionary forms of human speech. From John Calvin to Billy Graham, preaching has had the power to topple princes, to set nation against nation, to inspire campaigners to change the world and impel people to begin life anew.”

Indeed, preaching is the central act of Christian worship, but its great aim reaches far above merely changing the world. The preaching of the Word of God is the chief means by which God conforms Christians to the image of Christ. Rightly understood, true Christian preaching is not aimed only at this earthly life, but is the means whereby God prepares his people for eternity.

Yet, you wouldn’t know this if you judged the importance of preaching by its place in many of today’s congregations. Gledhill observes, “In many churches this most vibrant of moments has withered to little more than 20 minutes of tired droning that serves only to pad out the gap between hymns and lunch.”

More here.

I am having the right kind of fast food for lunch today, meaning I’m having no food at all.  Rather than allowing my stomach to always pound out marching orders, I am using the extra time to focus on prayer (1 Cor 9:27).  Every time my stomach protests, I am going to be reminded to pray.

In Matthew 6, Jesus said that WHEN we fast . . . The Lord assumed that his people would fast.

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.(Mt 6:16-18)."

So, today I am skipping my noon meal in order to focus on prayer.  One of my primary goals today is to follow the model of Jesus in Luke 6:12 when we are told that the Lord prayed all night before choosing the Apostles.  A goal for our church in the next 5 years is to see men grow in a special way as leaders.  And, that won’t happen apart from prayer.

You might chide me a bit for telling everyone on the world wide web that I am fasting.  Isn’t it supposed to be done in secret (Matt 6:1).  But, this is a matter of motivation.  And, there is a place to give leadership in prayer and to challenge God’s people.

Why not fast for at least one meal and really pray?

Philippians reading ever day cropped

One way to immerse yourself in God’s Word is to choose a book of the Bible and read it over and over again.  Each time you read that book, write the date down in your Bible at the end of the book.  The book of Titus is a good place to begin.


In 1985 I knew that I needed to grow spiritually, but I didn’t know sic ‘em about how to get started.

By God’s grace, I got involved in a Christ-centered church and started attending Campus Bible Fellowship at the University of Northern Iowa which was one of the best decisions I ever made.  We were led by our intrepid leader, the late Tom Hammond, and the fruit of the ministry continues to this day.

Along with being in church and under Tom’s leadership, I also knew that I needed to be a man of the Word – – – – but I didn’t know beans from buckshot about how to get started.

A friend suggested that I would really get to know the Word if I chose a particular book of the Bible and read it over and over again.  So, I bought a NIV Scofield Bible at the CBF bookstore.  At the time, we thought there was nothing more cutting edge than a combination of the NIV and Scofield’s notes.  I started reading Philippians over and over again.

In the beginning, each time I read Philippians, I wrote the date down in my Scofield Bible at the end of Philippians.  I still have the Bible and you can see a scan above of a number of days in 1985 and early 1986 when I read Philippians (note that I forgot to change the year in January).

I quickly learned that it was easy to just go through the motions of reading Philippians.  So, I determined that each time I read it, I would try and identify at least one thing that I had missed before, that I could focus and meditate on.  Often, I would write a note in the margin of my Bible.

Along with that, I attended CBF and Cedar Heights Baptist Church and prayerfully processed all that I was learning with other believers.

Twenty four years later, one of my major goals in the next five years is to see God develop Brick leaders.  To that end, I will be challenging our men to use the strategy of really getting to know a book of the Bible.  In our case, I will be encouraging them to read the book of Titus over and over again.

I’ll post more about why I am choosing Titus in the very near future.  For now, read Titus repeatedly.  Discipline yourself to prayerfully identify a fresh insight with every reading (Psalm 119:18 – – see this post).  Write the date down each time you do so.

One of the most important ways you can serve your local church is by praying for the preaching of the Word.  Here is a note I recently sent to a number of men in our church.

I wanted to share with you a special item of praise.

If you had asked me to rate yesterday’s sermon relative to my other sermons (I never try and compare myself to others per se), I would have said it was solid.  I thought I preached the point that flowed out of the text – – that sin gives way to sin and that we need to know we not only reap what we sow, but we also sow what we reap.

I was in know way tempted to think, that was some incredible sermon.  Far from it.

But, what has been interesting to see is how God has used it in the lives of our church.  I received feedback from multiple people that it was a real encouragement.  I was in a home last night praying with a couple and they commented.  Jamie received an email today from someone who was encouraged and is making some important decisions.

Of course, God only knows why some sermons are especially blessed, but I believe a key part of what sermon was your prayer support. I believe several of you were praying in a special way.  Shawn came by and prayed before church with me and I was conscious of how the Spirit was working.  Even while we were there praying together, I was aware of it.

Let’s keep praying.  If we are really on our knees (either literally or figuratively), and we preach and teach the Word, then we can COUNT on God to do a powerful work.
Titus 2:11-14,

If you’re from my era, the word picture of “clouds in my coffee” doesn’t bring to mind verses from the Bible.  Rather, my generation immediately hears Carly singing about the vanity of an unknown ex-boyfriend who probably thought the song was about him. (And, for the record he was right, it was about him).

But, long before Carly Simon, the Bible used the picture of clouds in our coffee to talk about the brevity of life; our years are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

Would you read this passage aloud to yourself?

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:13-17).”

One of the things that leaders do is plan for the future.  Indeed, we should be envisioning and thinking daily about where we will lead our families.  But this should always be done in a heart attitude of humble submission to God.  (D.V. !)

James cautions that those who presume that they can control their futures foolishly plan a future for the clouds in the coffee.  Why is it so hard to grasp that apart from God’s help, we are mists that appear for a little while and vanish?

Questions I need to consider:

  1. In what areas I tend to presumptuously plan apart from looking to God for His direction?  To the extent that I’m not praying, I am presuming.  So, how much am I praying about my plans for the future?
  2. Do I make a point of always praying with an attitude of submission –like a weaned child with its mother (Psalm 131:2) – – or, am I more like a demanding baby?
  3. What should I do today that I know God wants me to get done?


P.S. My theory is that Carly was singing about James Taylor.

I have a list of men that I email.  Building leaders is one of my major goals at our church.  If you would like to be on the list let me know.


Aren’t you surprised we are having school?  The snow is piling up!  It is the 7th so that means our goal for today is to read Proverbs 7.

Remember, this isn’t hard.  It will take you a few minutes to read that chapter.  And, always write the date at the type of the chapter – -today, jot 1/10 at the top of the chapter.  No need to put down a "7"; you know it is the 7th because you are reading Proverbs 7:1-27.

This chapter warns us against adultery and I would encourage you to notice two phrases at a minimum:

  • "keep": Proverbs 7:1-2 says, "My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you;; keep my commandments . . . the next verse adds "bind."  Knowing God’s Word is not something we learn at some point in time and it is always there.  We need an active discipline of making God’s Word part of our lives.  That’s one reason I think every man should read the days’ chapter of Proverbs.  This book of the Bible is given to us so that we can bind wisdom to our hearts.
  • "all at once": Proverbs 7:22-23 says, "All at once [a man] follows [a woman with whom he will commit adultery], as an ox goes to the slaughter or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.  Be aware: You can be faithful to your wives for 20 years.  And, then in a moment you can walk into the airplane propeller of adultery.

Today, spend time in God’s Word – – lest, “all at once”, you step into an awful mess.

Read Proverbs 7; if you’re married, kiss your wife.


One of my major goals for the coming years is to continue to develop male leadership in our church.  There are a group of guys that I sent this email out to today.


Did you read Proverbs 30 today? What stood out to you? I am going to start putting these on my blog too. So, if you want, you can comment there. Or, you can hit reply-all to this message and share what stood out.

I have a confession. During our trip to Iowa I didn’t do Proverbs every day. I know, your confidence in me is shattered. Truth of the matter is, it isn’t that uncommon for me to miss a day. But, this is why I see Proverbs as a discipline for the rest of my life. I don’t get too stressed out if I miss a day or two because I know that I am going to come back to it over and over again.

Indeed, today’s chapter which points to the example of how the ant works (Proverbs 30:25) reminds us that smart workers know how to accumulate bit size portions of work over long periods of time.

I approach Proverbs like an ant.  I’ve told you before that whenever I read a chapter of Proverbs, I write the day and the month at the top of the chapter. I have different Bibles so no one Bible gives a comprehensive record of my Proverbs reading. But, in the Bible I used this morning I have down these days written at the top of Proverbs 30: (1/3, 5/7, 11/7, 6/3, 10/3, 5/4, 11/3, 9/4, 12/9) – – Over time, like the ant, reading a chapter of Proverbs a day will accumulate.

Press on. Rinse your minds in Scripture. Do just an ant-like portion of work today. Just pick up a crumb and carry it into the next room.


P.S. Proverbs 30:2 is not my life verse, but maybe it should be. (If you think so, please don’t tell me).  Of course, that verse could be read in a wrong way that is just a form of self-pity. But, I use it as motivation to crave the Word of God.  After all, apart from it, I know nothing.