• Who Is Leading Your Church?

    Senior leadership teams of a church, whether they be a parish council, a staff team, an elder board or something else, are crucial for healthy, high functioning churches.

    I have been reading a book by Tony Morgan called Take the Lid Off Your Church: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Senior Leadership Team. He says this about senior leadership teams in churches:

    The reality is, the decision about who will be on your senior leadership team is probably the biggest determining factor of health and success for your church. This decision is much bigger than those about discipleship strategies, series plans, buildings, budgets, etc. Determining who is on your senior leadership team will shape every other decision.

    Did you see how crucial senior leadership teams are? They are “probably the biggest determining factor of health and success for your church” Now of course Tony is speaking here on a human level. He would be the first to admit that God grows his church and so we need to be careful before we think all that we need to do to grow a church is to get the right people in the right positions. It is God who gives the growth. But God does work through humans and our good and bad decisions and so we need to think carefully about who is on our senior leadership teams.

    The wrong person(s) in a senior leadership team can frustrate the growth of a church and the right person(s) can make a church flourish as Tony says:

     I’ve seen firsthand how the right person can propel a church forward. I’ve also seen how the wrong person—though talented and gifted by God—can truly disrupt culture and growth. There is simply too much at stake for a church not to do everything within its power to make sure they understand who needs to hold the senior leadership positions in their church.”

    I love that sentence There is simply too much at stake for a church not to do everything within its power to make sure they understand who needs to hold the senior leadership positions in their church.” There is a lot at stake isn’t there? If your church has the wrong people in positions of leadership and the work of the church is hampered and as a knock on effect evangelism, pastoral care and the like doesn’t happen or doesn’t happen in the manner in which it should there are eternal consequences.

    Pastor, are you going to have the courage to build the right senior leadership team for your church? If you do some people will be offended and some people may leave. But the stakes are far too high for you not to get the right people in the right positions on your senior leadership team.

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  • Rob Bell’s New Book

    The great communicator and heretic Rob Bell has got a new book coming out. It is called What We Talk About When We Talk About GodThe trailer for the book is below

    Comparing this video to his the infamous “Love Wins” video this one is kind of boring.

    Will I read the book? Probably.

    Will it be entertaining? Probably.

    Will it be seriously misleading? Probably.

    There are my thoughts, what do you think?

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  • How to Grow as a Christian

    We live in a time where people are so busy that really important things get pushed to the periphery of life. For example reading the Bible and praying. This is the stuff that Christian growth is made of and yet we are more likely to listen to podcast than hear from God himself or read a book rather than read the Bible.

    I have been reading a book by Andy Stanley called Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend. In it he has this quote about devotions or time where you read your Bible and pray:

    “Personal spiritual disciplines introduce a sense of intimacy and accountability to our faith walks. Private spiritual disciplines tune our hearts to the heart of God and underscore personal accountability to our heavenly Father. There is a direct correlation between a person’s private devotional life and his or her personal faith. And regardless of how long you’ve been in ministry, this is something you can’t afford to lose sight of. When God speaks to us personally through his Word or answers a specific prayer, our faith is strengthened. This is why private disciplines is a faith catalyst. One of the most impactful things I heard my dad say growing up was, “The most important thing in your life is your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” That’s direct. And I have found it to be absolutely correct. As my personal devotional life goes, so goes my faith, my confidence in God. And I don’t know if this is true for everybody, but as my confidence in God goes, so goes my personal confidence.”

    Andy Stanley – Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend

    Did you read those sentences “As my personal devotional life goes, so goes my faith, my confidence in God. And I don’t know if this is true for everybody, but as my confidence in God goes, so goes my personal confidence” Wow.

    I have seen that if a Christian is reading their Bible and praying then their walk with Jesus will be much stronger than if they aren’t. In fact when people are feeling far from God the first thing that I try to get them to do again is pick up their Bible, read it and pray. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other factors that make people feel far from Jesus it just means that the cure for feeling distant from God is something that all Christians know they should do but a lot of us (including myself) need reminding to do.

    How is your Bible reading and prayer?

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  • Tim Keller on Pastors and Gospel Identity

    Absolute brilliance from Tim Keller:

    “Perhaps the greatest dilemma of the pastor – or any Christian leader – is the danger of hypocrisy. By this I mean that, unlike other professionals, we as ministers are expected to proclaim God’s goodness and to provide encouragement at all times. We are always pointing people toward God in one way or another, in order to show them his worth and beauty. That’s the essence of our ministry. But seldom will our hearts be in a condition to say such a thing with complete integrity, since our own hearts are often in need of encouragement, gospel centeredness, and genuine gladness. Thus, we have two choices: either we have to guard our hearts continually in order to practice what we are preaching, or we live bifurcated lives of outward ministry and inward gloominess.

    In this way, the ministry will make you a far better or a far worse Christian than you would have been otherwise. But it will not leave you where you were! And it will put enormous pressure on your integrity and character. The key problem will be preaching the gospel while not believing the gospel. As ministers, we must be willing to admit that ministerial success often becomes the real basis for our joy and significance, much more so than the love and acceptance we have in Jesus Christ. Ministry success often becomes what we look to in order to measure our worth to others and our confidence before God. In other words, we look to ministry success to be for us what only Christ can be. All ministers who know themselves will be fighting this all their lives. It is the reason for jealousy, for comparing ourselves to other ministers, for needing to control people and programs in the church, and for feeling defensive toward criticism. At one level we believe the gospel that we are saved by grace not works, but at a deeper level we don’t believe it much at all. We are still trying to create our own righteousness through spiritual performance, albeit one that is sanctioned by our call to ministry.”

    What resonates with you from this quote?

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  • A Quick Leadership Lesson from Bill Hybels

    One of the biggest questions a leader has to ask is ‘What should I focus on?’ As a leader there are always so many things competing for your time.

    Last year I read Axiom by Bill Hybels and he has a great little piece of advice for leaders. You can’t focus on everything so pick six things that you will focus on for six weeks that will bring the greatest impact to your organisation. Then purposely neglect everything else.

    I think this is a brilliant idea. It gives you laser like focus and it gives you goals that should be attainable and that if they are achieved will bring the greatest impact in your organisation.

    What are the top six contributions I could make in the next six weeks?

    Choose them, execute them and make an impact!

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  • A Question About Predestination

    Predestination is one of the hardest biblical concepts to grasp. I once heard an older Christian gentleman say that if you think you fully understand predestination then you don’t. Probably the biggest question regarding predestination that people have is “How does God choose people?”. In effect does God say something like “Well that person is good looking. I will choose them. But that person likes country music so I will leave that person!”

    Here is a quote from R.C. Sproul which helped me on this matter. It doesn’t make predestination any more easy to grasp but it shapes predestination in away that is biblical and it clarifies our question:

    “The ground on which God chooses the objects of his mercy solely on the good pleasure of his will. Paul makes this clear: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will… (Ephesians 1:3-5)

    That God chooses according to the good pleasure of his will does not mean that his choices are capricious or arbitrary. An arbitrary choice is one made for no reason at all. Though Reformed Theology insists that election is based on nothing foreseen in the individuals  lives, this does not mean he makes the choice for no reason at all. It simply means that the reason is not something God finds in us. In his inscrutable, mysterious will, God chooses according to his own pleasure, which is his divine right. His pleasure is described as his good pleasure. If something pleases God, it must be good. The is no evil pleasure in God.”

    R.C. Sproul What is Reformed Theology? pg. 147

    Does this clarify predestination for you? What questions still remain?

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  • Something that both Evangelical Egalitarians and Complimentarians Can Agree on

    The two sides of any issue seem to find it very hard to really hear each other. This is very true when it comes to the question of biblical gender. It seems complementarians are pigeonholed as oppressive and women haters and Evangelical egalitarians are painted as liberals in drag.

    Recently I read Michael Bird’s E-Book Bourgeois Babes, Bossy Wives, and Bobby Haircuts: A Case for Gender Equality in Ministry from the Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry series. He writes something that I think no matter where we are on the “women’s issue” we can agree on:

    “Evangelical egalitarians remain in the tradition of an orthodox Christianity and possess a high regard for Scripture even if (like all of us) they occasionally fall prey to the cultural ethos of our time. At the same time, complementarians do not wake up every morning and conspire how to oppress and abuse women. Many of them are deeply concerned with protecting women from abuse and stemming the exploitation of women, and they wish to see women reach their highest potential in Christ even if their own patriarchal culture rather than Scripture has shaped their thinking at times. In a nutshell, egalitarians are not opposed to biblical authority and complementarians are not deliberate oppressors of women. When both sides concede as much, then perhaps the gender war will be over.”

    As Christians, we need to represent the views of others and not caricature them. This is love. To caricature anyone is sin.

    This is especially true when we are talking about such a vital topic as gender. To caricature is to not listen and not really engage in conversation and when that happens, we all lose.

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  • Unexpected Pastoral Ramifications from the Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry series

    Martin Luther is reported to have said “Theology is never naked.” What he meant by that is that all theology is connected, so if you change one part of your theology over here it will have knock on effects to this part over here.

    This is never any more true with how we read the Bible. If we read the Bible on one issue in certain way we have to be consistent and allow people to read all parts of the Bible in the same way that we have read that one part.

    This principle has hit home recently with the publication of John Dickson, Michael Bird and Kathy Keller’s books in the “Fresh Perspectives on Women in Ministry series”. Around Christmas and in the days following there was a lot of chatter on social media about these e-books and it seems that a lot of people have read them or have understood the books arguments because the authors have given summaries of their arguments. This is not only good marketing but it is very generous. This I applaud.

    But since these books have been released two Christian men who have been struggling with same sex attraction for years have asked me “If these guys can read the Bible in such a way that gets us out from under what the Bible appears to be saying about gender in the church why can’t I read the Bible in such a way that lets me live in a committed same sex relationship?” Now I am not sure how Bird and Dickson would respond to these men. No doubt they would respond biblically and with great care but the question still remains if Dickson and Bird are allowed to deal with words in a way which makes us read the texts entirely differently than what they seem to be saying. (I think this is what Dickson does as he defines the words “to exhort” Gk. parakaleo and “to teach” Gk.didasko.) Why can’t a pro gay reader redefine the words that seem to prohibit homosexual unions in the Bible (i.e. the Greek words Malakoi and Arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians 6:9 where we get prohibitions of homosexual sexual sexual activity)?

    In putting forward this blog I am not saying that Dickson and Bird are pro gay. That would be stupid and sinful on my part. But the question I would love to know is “How they would respond to this question that our brothers in Christ have put forward?”

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  • Hope you Have a Great Christmas!

    I just want to say to all those who have read my blog this year thank you! Thanks for pushing me and making me think. Thanks for keeping the conversation going!

    I will be blogging again in February so look out for more blogs then!

    Hope you have a great Christmas and remember that 2000 years ago God set his son on a rescue mission to save the world. What a great God we serve!

    Merry Christmas from the Kristensen clan and see you in the blogosphere in the new year!

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  • Why American Christians Should Support Better Gun Control

    In the wake of the Sandy Hook School massacre (so soon after the Denver movie theatre shooting), there is a new call for America to enact more gun control laws, even ban guns.

    There are lots of good reasons why this makes sense, one of the clearest being the
    success of other countries such as Australia in reducing their gun-related crimes by
    banning guns (sounds so obvious doesn’t it?).

    What concerns me more though, is that the biggest opponents to gun control are largely
    right wing, Republican, conservative, CHRISTIAN Americans. The word we often hear
    from these guys is rights. I have the right to bear arms under the constitution, I have the
    right to defend myself, I have the right to engage in recreational gun activities.

    Whether or not these arguments are valid (and people have argued both ways to
    exhaustion), what seems strange to me is that somehow rights are being used by
    Christians as the unbeatable principle in guiding their actions and lifestyles.

    Philippians 2:5-8 says.

    In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

    Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

    rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.

    And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
    even death on a cross!

    2 Corinthians 5:21,

    God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the
    righteousness of God.

    Jesus had the right to do what he pleased. That he came on earth to sacrifice himself for
    us instead is the amazing centre of Christian belief. It is what shapes the Christian
    worldview and life. It is the non-negotiable crux of the Gospel that forms a lens that
    Christians should have their opinions and attitudes seen through.
    Note also that we are specifically encouraged in the beginning of the Philippians passage
    to emulate Jesus in this. Actually more than that, we are to have the same mindset as
    Jesus. One of the foundations of our lives, thoughts and actions should be to give up our
    rights for the sake of others.

    For the American Christian (or any Christian) who argues they have the right to bear arms,
    what matters isn’t whether you have that right or not, what matters is whether you are
    willing to give up that right in the same way that Jesus gave up his life.

    Are we all as Christians doing this same thing to things in our lives? What other things do
    we hold tightly to because we have the right to instead of considering that our rights don’t
    necessarily come first?

    The author of this post is Jackson Stace. Jackson loves Jesus. He is moving to Sydney to study Gods word at Moore College and join the team at Resolved Church to reach the people of Sydney. He loves fantasy fiction but thinks that Game of Thrones book 4 was boring.

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