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Hols reading…

It’s that time of year (late, I know, but cheaper) when Ali and I get to go away for a break.

My idea of a holiday?  Well it varies, but this time around we are going for the Villa, pool and outdoor BBQ.  It’s made all the better as we are spending it with great friends too.  Can’t wait!

It also gives me tremendous thinking / planning / reading time (which can easily get pushed out with the busyness of life), so here are my book choices :

Spiritual Depression – Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones

If Christianity is such “good news” why are its followers often unhappy? Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was possibly the greatest Christian preacher and teacher of the twentieth century. A medical doctor by training, Spiritual Depression draws together his professional understanding of the mind with a profound understanding of Christian teaching and the Bible. It diagnoses the causes of the ill feeling that many Christians experience. It prescribes the practical care that is needed to lift people’s spirits and bring them freedom, power and joy. Spiritual health is possible and this book explains how everyone can grasp it for themselves.

Sticky Teams – Larry Osborne

Serving as a church leader can be a tough assignment. Whatever your role, odds are you’ve known your share of the frustration, conflict, and disillusionment that comes with silly turf battles, conflicting vision, and marathon meetings. With practical and accessible wisdom, Larry Osborne exposes the hidden roadblocks, structures, and goofy thinking that sabotage even the best intentioned teams. Then with time-tested and proven strategies he shows what it takes to get (and keep) a board, staff, and congregation on the same page. Whatever your situation; from start-up phase, to mid-sized, to megachurch, Osborne has been there. As the pastor of North Coast Church he’s walked his board, staff, and congregation through the process. Now with warm encouragement and penetrating insights he shares his secrets to building and maintaining a healthy and unified ministry team that sticks together for the long haul.

Multisite Church Revolution – Surratt, Ligon & Bird

Fueled by a desire to reach people for Christ, a revolution is underway. Churches are growing beyond the limitations of a single service in one building. Expanding the traditional model, they are embracing the concept of one church with more than one site: multiple congregations sharing a common vision, budget, leadership, and board. The Multi-Site Church Revolution offers guidance, insights, and specific action steps as well as appendixes with practical leadership resources and self-diagnostic tools.  This book is part of the Leadership Network Innovation Series.

Pass me another cold one…..!


For busy pastors…

Let’s face it.  However you’ve scheduled your busy life (especially if you are bi-vocational like me), you gotta give time to reading the paper.  It’s called staying ‘culturally abreast’ of things, and it’s very important.

The last thing you want to be is an ill-informed but well-meaning chap.  Why not be informed alongside well-meaning?  Easy.  Read ‘The Week’.  No, I’m not being sponsored to give their readership some added profile……..I’m just saying what works for me.

Some years back whilst doing NF Leadership Training we had a lecturer (who shall remain nameless) who unfolded the machinations of his weekly schedule to us.  As a full-time (hate that phrase – we’re all full time!) pastor/elder, he used the practice of dividing his week up into 21 sessions (3 per day – morning, afternoon & evening).

He figured that ‘working’ in more than 14 of these sessions was tantamount to ‘pushing it’ in terms of your health (let alone your marriage, family etc!), and also that some of this time should be given over to ‘cultural study’.  This ‘sessions’ idea…..well, that’s a whole new blog post I shall tackle sometime soon.

But the beauty of this publication is that it dips into the entire spectrum of news reporting (all the broadsheets & red tops rolled into one), thus granting you a flavour of opinion (politcal or otherwise).  It simultaneously keeps you entertained and up to date when thinking about relevant touchpoints in the culture around you (vital for preaching!).  The best way to buy it is online, which means you get a hard copy through the post AND the facility to read it online.  Perfect.

For busy pastor types

Of course, if you are bi-vocational, far from thinking it would be easier to imbibe the realities of life ongoing, it’s actually even more important to set aside time for such an exercise.  We are probably (don’t shoot me!) busier than our fellow elders who enjoy the privilege of operating all week for their churches, and we are therefore potentially more susceptible to dropping the ball when it comes to staying up with it.

Excuse me while I just put the kettle on………… I’ve got some reading to do!

Straight arrows…

A former pastor/elder of mine once told me ‘You never wanna be outside the will of God mate…’ (aussie accent required!), and as time marches on those words ring louder and louder in my ears.  Not through a sense of condemnation, but motivated purely from grace extended in my direction.

The truth is, I totally wasted my twenties by being rebelliously outside the will of God for my life.  But, in straightening out my theology, I can now see how despite my path, God did and will still use my own poor choices for His purposes.  Quite a relief!

But where am I going with this?  What have straight arrows gotta do with anything?

In our church (CCK) we have learnt to ‘send’ people to other parts of the UK and to the nations.  I say ‘learnt’ because it doesn’t come naturally to us (to give away our best people), but it is in line with Gods will for us as a church.  He said ‘send’, so we do.  And in doing so, we obey God rather than chasing down our own agendas.  It’s one massive adventure with eternal significance!

My dear friends Jon & Sal Lyndon come from a brood of other fab Lyndons who have made such an impact on the strength of CCK, leaving a great legacy of folk who have been changed by the gospel through their gifts.  And what a gifted couple!  For his young years, Jon is a quality pastor already.  Sally has a complimentary knack of creating order out of chaos……. together a formidable team!

With the Lyndons Senior (Pete & Sue) having left Brighton for Manchester, this family are now ‘scattered’ for the sake of the gospel.  They have been truly ‘sent’.

One memorable and highly significant prophetic word about us as a church suggested that as leaders  ‘…grew straight with genuine integrity, God would cause young shoots to grow between them that would ultimately be cut and sent as arrows to the ends of the earth’.

Jon and Sally have grown straight, under great leadership, and have now been cut, shaped and fired like arrows into Fredericton, Canada.  We miss them, and they leave a gap.  But they are in the will of God and I’m especially proud of them for that.  Let’s face it, they are not that far away to visit (sounds like a holiday destination for sure!) and regular Skyping is a technological blessing.

They have gone to help a Newfrontiers church The Meeting Place  grow and influence Fredericton with the gospel, and they will be a tremendous blessing to the leadership in that place.

So the deal is this.  Do as God asks, and walk in His will.  The leaders at CCK have sent them well…….. and straight arrows always hit the target!

Jon & Sally Lyndon

Jon & Sally Lyndon

For more about this fab couple, click here………

All good?

Hilariously, but also with great poignancy, I need to recount to you a recent exchange between a guest and one of our pastoral team on a Sunday at CCK.  Pastor: ‘Hello there, all good?’  Guest: ‘What, since the day of my birth? No, not really!’

Having had this repeated to me by the pastor in question, I began to appreciate it in a number of ways :

Firstly, for its comedic value…. which was priceless, and made even funnier because of who the pastor is (a chap of the finest quality!).  The quick-witted retort of the guest, the twinkle in the eye, and the flash of needle in the use of words, putting most TV sitcom writers to shame.

Secondly, the reality of life hits hard….  The humour of the moment (for me anyway) was only a thin veil over hard truth. You’re born, you live, you die.  ‘We are like grass that withers and dies…’  Here one moment, gone the next.  And the bit in between is tough going.  This guest had realised this the hard way.  ‘All good?  You must be kidding!’

Thirdly, the brutal honesty of the guest….  I love it when folk speak truth out loud!  We are always thinking it, but often speaking it through filters that utterly disguise it.  That’s why it’s so refreshing when people tell it how it is.  Brutal.  ‘All good?  No, actually my life has been rubbish for as long as I can remember.’ 

Fourthly, it gave me a sharp poke in the ribs about how we live in a seriously post-christian (or should I say ‘pagan’) culture with 90% of folk out there with no clue about Jesus, let alone the gospel!  If we (CCK) are to reach our prophetic promise of a church of thousands in this City, we cant afford to sell the gospel short by pretending that a response on a Sunday will result in a life of health and wealth.  Nope, it aint true.  Jesus said it himself.  ‘In this world you will have trouble…’ 

The more I get my teeth into pastoral work, the more understanding I get of the great weights folk are carrying through life.  Are these situations just, or unjust?  A good question to ask yourself.  Much of the ‘weight’ we carry is directly or indirectly as a result of our own poor choices.  But some of it is seemingly unjust, inflicted on us for reasons we cannot explain.  Sometimes we will never know why we suffered, but how we handle it hangs on our perspective of the character of God.  Who do we know Him to be?  Do we correctly understand our own ill-deserving nature? Are we fully aware of the far reaching mercy of God to rescue us?  Can we say we have fully lived within His design for life?  Are we clear in our understanding of the kingdom coming but not yet in fulness?  Do we see the cross of Christ as central to our wholeness?

So.  All good?  Only God is good.  Tough lives or otherwise, we are so quick to put ourselves where God deserves to be, yet He has put Himself where we deserve to be.  Amazing, humbling truth helps us to acknowledge that it is indeed (despite tough circumstances)……….ultimately all good.

Blogging pastors…

Not everyone on the interweb (that’s what olds call it) would have spotted Mr John Piper’s succinct bunch of reasons for blogging.  So here they are (paraphased a bit by me) for your delectation :

1. …to write

If you’re a pastor, you probably already know the value writing has for thinking.  Through writing, you delve into new ideas and new insights. If you strive to write well, you will at the same time be striving to think well.

There is no better way to simply and quickly share your writing than by maintaining a blog.  And if you’re serious about your blog, it will help you not only in your thinking, but in your discipline as well, as people begin to regularly expect quality insight from you.

2. …to teach

Most pastors I’ve run into love to talk.  Many of them laugh at themselves about how long-winded they’re sometimes tempted to be.

Your blog is where you can pass on that perfect analogy you only just thought of;  a blog is a perfect place for those 30-second nuggets of truth that come in your devotions or while you’re reading the newspaper.  You may never write a full-fledged article about these brief insights, but via your blog, people can still learn from them just like you did.

3. …to recommend

With every counselling session or conversation, a pastor is recommending something.  Sometimes it’s a book or another web link. Maybe it’s a bed-and-breakfast for couple that really needs to get away. And sometimes it’s simply Jesus.

With a blog, you can recommend something to hundreds of people instead of just a few. Some recommendations may be specific to certain people, but that seems like it would be rare. It’s more likely to be the case that if one man asks you whether you know of any good help for a pornography addiction, then dozens of other men out there also need to know, but aren’t asking.

People want to know that you are an ordinary, imperfect human being.  They want to know that you’re recommending things that have helped you in your own weakness.  If you use your blog to encourage people through suggesting and commending everything from local restaurants to Jesus, it will complement the biblical authority that you rightly assume as a pastor.

4. …to interact

There are a lot of ways for a pastor to keep his finger on the pulse of his people. A blog is by no means necessary in this regard. However, it does add a helpful new way to stay abreast of people’s opinions and questions.

5. …to develop an eye for what is meaningful

For good or ill, most committed bloggers live with the constant question in their mind: Is this bloggable?  This could become a neurosis, but I’ll put a positive spin on it: It nurtures a habit of looking for insight and wisdom and value in every situation, no matter how mundane.

6. …to be known

This is where I see the greatest advantage for blogging pastors.  The blog is a window into your personality. Sometimes people need to look in—not allthe way in, and not into every room—but people need some access to you as a person.  A blog is one way to help them.  You can’t be everybody’s friend, and keeping a blog is not a way of pretending that you can. It’s simply a way for people to know you as a human being, even if you can’t know them back.  This is valuable, not because you’re so extraordinary, but because leadership is more than the words you say.


For most of you, anything you post online will only be a small piece in the grand scheme of your pastoral leadership. But if you can maintain a blog that is both compelling and personal, it can be an important small piece.  Letting people catch an honest glimpse of your life will add authenticity to your pastoral role.

Thanks John.  You can check out his own blog here, and/or follow him on Twitter here.