October 30, 2007

How Do I Hear From God?

Steve Furtick wrote an interesting article about the most important thing a church planter needs. Of all the skills needed, he says that the ability to hear from God is and should be number 1.

Many of us would, to use the 80's phrase, say, "No DUH!" But often, we don't act like we know or believe that to be true. We spend more time and money going to the last leadership conference or marketing seminar, or whatever, and we could have spent less than half of that on a private retreat that would allow us to hear God better. Am I against conferences? My it never be. I love them, but I also recognize that they often cause as much exhaustion as anything else we cram into our schedule.

Here are some ways that I have learned to hear God's voice:

1. Get Consistent. I have struggled to be consistent. I still struggle. I have written about this before, and hope it continues to help people. The reality is that we need to be spending consistent amounts of time in God's presence in order to hear his voice. Are we going to hear His voice every time we crack open the Bible? No, but if we are not spending time with God on a consistent basis, we are more likely to miss it when He does speak.

I believe Paul was onto something when he related spiritual growth with athletics. In athletic training, it is the day-in day-out training that prepares the person for competition. If they didn't practice and workout, they would never be able to perform at the high level required. We too must practice (that is the reason they are called the spiritual practices or disciplines).

2. Get Away. We all know the value of leaving our job for a few weeks to spend time vacationing. But we can often forget to leave the routine and normal things behind in order to hear God. Get away, go to a cabin, hotel room, or secluded park. Get out of the norm. If possible, spend a few days in the new environment. Use the time to specifically seek God and hear His voice.

3. Get Alone. Solitude is a valuable resource for hearing God's voice. When we are with people, we are tempted to put up our guards and barriers. We are tempted to talk. This leads to point 4...

4. Get Quiet. Turn off the TV, the radio, the mp3, the computer (not yet though), and sit quietly. Go for a quiet walk in a secluded area. Go to a monastery or prayer chapel. Get away from the noise of everyday life. When you begin to include large sections of noiseless time in your day, you will notice God's voice more often.

5. Get Out. When people think of drawing closer to God they most often think about reading the Bible and praying. Both of these are necessary, but I think you also need to get out and serve someone. I have found that serving others in my community has made me more generous, understanding, caring, and compassionate. I think a major part of hearing God's voice is serving the people that God loves in practical, loving ways.

Out of the Grey had a great song on their first album titled, "He is Not Silent." One line from the song is "He is not silent, we are not listening." I have found that when I want to hear from God, I am often to blame because I haven't been listening.

What are some ways you use to hear God's voice?

Here are a few other posts you might find helpful:
How to Read Scripture
Is Skepticism Killing Your Spiritual Growth
We Need More Than Band Aids
5 Steps to Have a Consistent Time with God

October 29, 2007

Trunk or Treat??????????

Does anyone else find it strange when an adult tries to give you candy from the trunk of a car?

October 26, 2007

Said More Eloquently Than I

Rene DeHaan-Canetti, executive director of Nooma:
"You can't separate the design from the content. If it's not consistent, it's detrimental. From the color palette to every single word in our films, we make sure that it's a reflection of our choices."

October 24, 2007

Passe PowerPoint

Here is an interesting interview with Leith Anderson from ChristianityToday.com.

Once again the question of how the medium affects the message is brought up, but it also forces us to ask the question "Is PowerPoint dead?"

I, personally, think the answer is...somewhat. We will still use PowerPoint type programs to blast graphics, songs, and some sermon points onto a screen. But there is also the recognition that a point-by-point presentation of a sermon on the screen may be on the way out. I think it still has its place in certain settings, but there are often more effective ways of making a point.

Leith makes a good point about balancing the techno-savvy side with a simplistic, natural feel. We are looking at an entirely different approach to technology, the web, and sermonic interaction than most of our previous generations.

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October 22, 2007

Virtual Presence and the Multi-site Movement

Despite my fear of being labeled a multi-site hater (again!), I am going to post this because I think it causes us to ask some important questions. These questions remind us that every medium we choose affects the message we are trying to send.

Again THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON MULTI-SITE!

I just want to ask the question, "How does our medium affect our message?"

I know many people who "attend" church in front of a tele-evangelist or TV preacher or in nature. The problem with this is that they are disconnected from a community. They have reduced the worship (if they really do worship) to nothing more than their receiving. There is no serving. There is no wrestling to "get along" with other people in the community. There is no accountability.

We also know that, while not inherently evil, different mediums of communication affect the way a message is delivered and even the message itself. The ability to write changed the way messages are communicated and changed the art of story-telling forever. The internet has changed the way people read.

Here is an article about changing from a real presence to a virtual presence in the pulpit. The article writer is speaking specifically to the preaching pastor, and their role in being connected to the people to whom they are preaching. Multi-sites really only work if there is a site pastor, so there is a real presence to care for the people. My take on this is that the person preaching must be connected to actual people, and cannot and should not be just a preacher.

What do you think?

October 9, 2007

October 1, 2007

5 Leadership Lessons from Jim Tressel

Considering Ohio State's quantum leap up the charts this week, I thought I would post about my observations of Jim Tressel's leadership. Over the his lifetime, Jim Tressel has 5 national championships (1 with Ohio State), an overall record of 66-14, and most importantly 5-1 record against Michigan. Despite the loss to Florida last year, Tressel has coached Ohio State to two National Championship appearance.

Watching Tressel coach the Ohio State Buckeyes is a master's level course in leadership. Here are 5 things that characterize Jim Tressel's leadership:

1. Stay calm. Jim Tressel is one of the calmest coaches I have ever seen. It is not that he doesn't care, it is that he knows panic accomplishes nothing. If he panics, then his team panics, and if his team panics, that is the end. Tressel approaches his games with a calm assurance that he has done everything he can to prepare his team.

2. Know your opponent. Tressel knows his opponents strength and weaknesses. He prepares his team to attack the weakness and tries to diminish the damage of their strength. He has watched hour upon hour of game tape, and has prepared a game plan to achieve his goals.

3. Respect the adversary. Political savvy is part of the game, but Tressel is always respectful of his opponents. He knows and respects their strengths, and NEVER verbally attacks a player or coach. If Ohio State is losing, Tressel affirms the positives of his opponent and recognizes his team's weaknesses.

4. Take calculated risk. Tressel is a rather conservative play caller...until he recognizes the potential for something big or the element of surprise. Jim Tressel has opted for a 30+ yard pass play on a 4th and short. He has run a fake field goal in the early part of the game. He knows the dangers, and is willing to take a risk that is well thought out and is well timed.

5. Invest in people. Tressel is first and foremost about the players. He is a teacher, not just of football, but of life. My respect for him skyrocketed when he tied his bonuses to his players grades and graduations. He wants to win, but he also respects the people involved.

Who is a good leadership model for you? What are some qualities you respect in your favorite team's coach?

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