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Category Archives: Mentors

Expanding my resume

Two months ago, I added another job title to my resume—Professor. For the past 8 weeks, I taught an online class for Regent University in Virginia. Other than family members and my references, I chose not to tell anyone for a couple of reasons, which I will explain shortly.

When I pursued my doctorate in the 80’s, it was with the idea that I would be on staff at a church for 5-10 years, and then teach at a college or seminary. However, God had other ideas. My passion for the local church increased and my love of academia decreased. Over the years I have explored various teaching options, but God always closed the door and kept me in the church.

Last fall, I applied for a position as an Adjunct Professor (fancy term for “part-time”) at Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA. It is a leading Christian University started in the late 70’s.

During the fall and winter, I went through the application process, including an interview and reference check. The process was completed in February just after I returned from New Zealand and I was approved as an Adjunct Professor. Shortly after that, I was invited to teach an 8-week course on Christian Ministry from March 13 – May 6. I quickly learned Blackboard, the instructional software used for online classes. The class started … the day after I left for Russia. The class just finished this past weekend. This course exposed the students to the philosophy and purpose of the church, something I know a thing or two about.

I chose not to tell anyone what I was doing for two primary reasons. One is that some might question my sanity for adding one more responsibility to my plate! I admit that I had the same thought and I wanted to see if I could do it before letting people know.

As it turned out, the class required about 2-3 hours of work per week. Other than the time difference and sporadic internet, it was not difficult to manage while I was in Russia. Regent designed the curriculum, assignments, tests, and textbooks. The assignments were of the read & report type with two papers to be written. My role was not to teach per se, but rather to mentor the students, giving feedback on their reading assignments and papers. Since the assignments were due on Thursday and Sunday evenings, I did my work on Saturday & Monday.

The second reason I didn’t tell folks beforehand was that some might worry I was planning to leave my current ministry and this was part of my exit strategy. Far from it. While I am committed to be the pastor of First Central Bible Church, I also desire to have a broader and deeper impact in the larger body of Christ. It is why I continue to teach for Walk Thru the Bible, go to Russia once a year, and write a blog. As I have shared before, I have no plans or timeline for retirement.

While I would like to continue, I don’t know what Regent’s plans are for the future. I suspect it will be later this summer before I am contacted about the next school year’s classes. We will see what God does and how he leads.

 

Ministry to/with Millennials

A guest missionary speaker showed the following video in church yesterday morning as he spoke about the challenges of mentoring those in the millennial generation. His thoughts fit in nicely with the book, Meet Generation Z, which speaks of the challenges of ministering to the newest generation, the one that follows the millennials.

A friend also shared the following video which is slightly tongue-in-cheek about a new ministry, Millennial International. Pretty funny.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Mentors, Ministry, Videos

 

Gaining evaluated experience

In order to grow and develop your skills, one needs not just experience, but evaluated experience. That is one of the many lessons I learned from “Prof.”, Dr. Howard Hendricks. As I work with and mentor pastoral interns at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, I try to build those kind of experiences into their training.

Whenever one of our interns preaches, I ask several people in the congregation to fill out an evaluation form on their sermon and delivery. I then compile the forms and go over the results and comments with the individual. The goal is to help them build on their strengths and improve their weak areas. Below is the form that I use. Click on the link to download a pdf version of the template.

Sermon Feedback Form

 

Preacher: ___________________   Scripture ___________________ Date ___________

 

Introduction Low   High
_________________________ got my attention 1 2 3 4 5
_________________________ touched a felt need in my life 1 2 3 4 5
_________________________ introduced the text or topic of the sermon 1 2 3 4 5
Exposition          
_________________________ exposed and explained the text clearly 1 2 3 4 5
_________________________’s message had a main idea that was faithful to the message and relevant to my life 1 2 3 4 5
Summarize what you sensed was the main idea of the message:

 

 

_________________________ engaged my mind and heart through the message 1 2 3 4 5
_________________________ helped me apply biblical truth to my life experience 1 2 3 4 5
Communication          
_________________________ came across as sincere and genuine 1 2 3 4 5
_________________________ looked me in the eye and appeared comfortable 1 2 3 4 5
Summary          
Two strengths of the message:

1.

 

2.

 

One area to develop for further growth:

 

 

 
 

The goal of preaching is lifechange

One of the benefits of working with interns in assigning them to read books and watch DVDs on preaching that I have found helpful. A second benefit is rereading those texts and rewatching the videos so as to discuss them accurately. For next week’s discussion with Chris & Jack, I reread Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lane Jones.

Stanley and Jones employ a style similar to the business books written by Patrick Lencioni. The first half of the book is a well-written parable while the second half goes into greater detail explaining the principles told in the story. The story is about a pastor who feels inadequate as a preacher. Willing to go to any lengths to improve, he takes a ride with a truck driver who explains seven principles of effective communication. Less than 200 pages, the book is a treasure trove of insights.

Stanley and Jones place an emphasis on simplifying the content of the sermon. Rather than dumbing down a sermon and being simplistic, they mean to simplify the content to one point and illustrating and applying so that it sticks with the audience when they leave. The more points you present, they argue, the less people remember. This idea dovetails with principles presented by Haddon Robinson in his book, Biblical Preaching, and Donald Sunukjian in Invitation to Biblical Preaching. Both men advocate identifying the main idea of a Scripture passage and focusing the sermon on explaining and applying it to the audience.

I also appreciated Stanley and Jones’ reminder of the need for transitions so as to help the audience move from one point to the next. That way you make sure people are tracking with you.

The greatest lesson I learned the first time through the book was in “Finding your voice.” It is the principle of discovering your own style of speaking and staying true to your style. A few years back, I blogged about how that chapter impacted me. For me, that chapter alone was worth the price of the book.

I enjoyed rereading the book and look forward to next week’s discussion.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2015 in Books, Mentors, Ministry, Preaching

 

The wisdom of Prof

The Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Kindred Spirit (a publication of Dallas Theological Seminary) included an article on “A Lasting Legacy ” of Howard Hendricks. It included a number of the witty sayings, or “Prof-isms” he used to say. I was encouraged once again as I read them.

A belief is something you will argue about; a conviction is something you will die for.

Nothing is more common than unfulfilled potential.

You can impress people at a distance, but you can impact them only up close.

Biblically speaking, to hear and not to do is not to hear at all.

Experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is.

The size of your God determines the size of everything.

People tell me they want to make the Bible relevant. Nonsense. The Bible is already relevant. You’re the one that’s irrelevant.

Never traffic in unpracticed truth.

You cannot impart that which you do not possess.

All people are born originals, but most die a copy.

Heaven is a person: Jesus Christ.

The measure of you as a leader is not what you do, but what others do because of what you do.

There’s no such thing as faith apart from risk-taking. Creativity takes risks. The people who are most secure in Jesus Christ shouldn’t be scared to try new things.

You career is what you’re paid to do; your calling is what you’re made to do.

My fear is not that you would fail, but that you will succeed in doing the wrong thing.

You are able to do many things. Be sure you find the one thing you must do.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Leadership, Mentors, Quotes

 

Mentored by a master teacher

Ezra 7:10 provides a model for all who aspire to teach the Scriptures.

For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

Ezra:

  • Set his heart – In a Hebrew mindset, the heart is the center of the will. Ezra made a conscious choice and committed himself to the task.
  • To study the Law of the Lord – Study comes before teaching, preparation before preaching. As Howard Hendricks said, “If you stop learning today, you stop teaching tomorrow.”
  • And to do it – The Scriptures were not given for information, but for transformation. I cannot be satisfied with only teaching knowledge or theory. I can only teach what I have learned and practiced and owned. If I don’t live out what I believe, how can I expect others to follow my instructions?
  • And to teach his statutes and rules in Israel – I do not fully know a subject until I can teach it to others. Commitment, study, and application come before explanation and teaching.

Lord, help me to follow Ezra’s example. Help me to set my heart to study your word and practice it and to teach it to your people.

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2013 in Mentors, Preaching, Scripture

 

Passing the Baton to the Next Generation

Can children grow spiritually?

Isn’t children’s ministry just glorified babysitting? Adult Bible study and adult worship services are where true learning takes place. Children’s ministry is simply expensive child care while their parents are being taught, fed, and discipled. That’s what some people tend to think.

According the Barna research group, 43% of Christians made the decision to accept Christ as savior before the age of 13. 21% made the decision between 13-18; 13% between 18-21; and the remaining 21% after the age of 21. That says that 64% of all Christians came to faith before they turned 18 years of age.

If you study the book of 1 Samuel, you discover that Samuel ministered in the temple as a boy (2:18), and heard God’s voice as a young man (3:1). David was anointed as king of Israel at the age of 12 (16:13). At the age of 19, he relied on God to defeat the giant Goliath.

While surveys demonstrate the majority of Christians came to faith as children or youth, and while Scripture points out children can grow spiritually, many parents are not discipling their children. According to Barna, “Fewer than 10 percent of parents who regularly attend church with their kids read the Bible together, pray together or participate in an act of service as a family unit. . . . Most churchgoing parents are neither spiritually mature nor spiritually inclined and, therefore, they do not have a sense of urgency or necessity about raising their kids to be spiritual champions.”

As a pastor, I believe in the importance of ministry to children. I agree with Barna who said in another place, the “primary window of opportunity for effectively reaching people with the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection is during the pre-teen years . . . . Consistently explaining and modeling truth principles for young people is the most critical factor in their spiritual development.

My conviction on the importance of children’s ministry is not based solely on quotes and statistics. The Scriptures also state the importance of teaching children. Deuteronomy 6:4-15 is the foundational passage in Scripture on the responsibility for one generation to pass the baton of faith to the next.

In verse 4-6, we see parents and teachers cannot teach what they do not possess. They must first love God and obey his word. In our minds, the heart is the center of emotion. To a Hebrew mindset, the heart was the center of the will. To love God with all our heart means that we know his commands and we live them out in daily practice.

Verses 7, 10-15 explain the end goal. We want our children and students to love God and obey his word. Both parents and children or teachers and students engage in this learning process so they do not forget who God is and what he has done.

Verses 7-9 explain there are four primary ways parents/teachers are to teach their children/students. The first is to teach diligently. This comes from two possible root words. One means to repeat while the other means to whet or sharpen. Weaving the two together, you get the idea that a parent/teacher is “an engraver who inscribes a message with indelible sharpness and precision.” As parents/teachers, we inscribe the truth of God on the hearts of our children/students.

The second method is to talk constantly. When we sit down to dinner, when we go for a walk, when we put the kids to bed, when we go on a road trip . . . any and every activity can be a teachable moment. Some of the best conversations our family enjoyed were on road trips up and down I-5 from Seattle to Los Angeles. We talked about leadership, friendship, character, integrity, finances, loyalty, loving Jesus, ministry, and countless other topics.

The third method is a personal reminder. After teaching a six-week men’s Bible study on the life of Joseph, we gave each of the men a cross key chain. Since a key phrase in this section of Genesis is, “The Lord was with Joseph,” the key chain reminded the men that God was with them.

The fourth method is a public reminder. The doorposts of the house refer to where one lives while the gates refer to where one works. If I entered your home or workplace, could I tell what you believe by what I see on your desk or walls?

As a parent/teacher, how could you employ these methods in daily life? If you wanted to teach your children about personal purity, you might: (1) Teach diligently: Study 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 where Paul explains that God’s will is for us to be sexually pure. Study the account of David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12 and the consequences of adultery. (2) Talk constantly: Discuss the sexual values portrayed in movies, TV, and commercials. Discuss real life examples. (3) Personal reminder: Give your son or daughter a “Promise” ring on their 16th birthday, signifying they promise to remain sexually pure until marriage. (4) Public reminder: When our son was in high school, his youth pastor gave every guy in the youth group a Sparkletts water bottle to use a bank to save for their future honeymoon. It was a visual testimony that each teen pledged themselves to remain sexually pure.

If we want to teach the next generation to love God and obey his word, we must begin by making sure those qualities characterize our lives first. We must then teach with intentionality, using every method available to us to pass on the knowledge, character, skills, and values we want to communicate. We must commit ourselves to pass the baton of faith to the next generation.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on May 19, 2013. It is the first of a three-week sermon series on Passing the Baton. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.