Archives For January 2012

Sharing Sermons

January 23, 2012 — Leave a comment

You know me. I like sharing.

One thing I wish people would share more of is what sermons they’ve listened to recently that they enjoyed.


So in the spirit of the Golden Rule . . .

Here are some sermons I’ve listened to recently that I loved. I’m talking mind-blowing.

Leave a comment and share with all of us what great sermons you’ve listened to recently.

Ranked in order of awesomeness:

Beau Hughes – Learning Contentment (click to go to download/read the transcript – also available in The Village Podcast feed)

Skipped right over this on the Village podcast because, well, it wasn’t Matt Chandler. And Beau is definitely not Matt Chandler. In style, probably his polar opposite. Kind of like Keller (at least in this sermon), somehow enthralling despite its dry delivery.

  • I think it’s good for us to be sobered by how horrible our discontentment is. It’s not just a respectable sin that we can deal with here and there.
  • Contentment= Our highest ambition is to be the Lord’s and to be at His disposal
  • The first sin in the Bible is mankind being discontent with the blessings of God.
  • Discontentment erodes worship, rejects ministry and hinders joyful obedience.
  • It’s really hard to follow someone that you don’t trust, and it’s even harder to follow someone with whom you are angry. So discontentment is not the soil that joyful obedience grows in. Do you think you’re going to be obedient to God when you’re frustrated with Him and you don’t trust Him?


Tim Keller – Marriage as Commitment (click to go to podcast in iTunes)

So good (and I assume he unpacks a lot of this in his book that is still sitting on my night stand waiting to be read)

  • Marriage is a commitment first, and a feeling second
  • Marriage requires the ability to hear criticism without being crushed
  • The ability to give criticism without crushing
  • God takes your selfishness in marriage and uses it against you for your own good
  • You finally have to come to grips with your sin/selfishness because its ruining your life in your marriage. For the first time in your life, you can’t run


Matt Chandler – A Call to Pray (click to go to download/read the transcript – also available in The Village Podcast feed)

This is how to give a talk on prayer

  • The main issue in our prayerlessness is we have a problem believing and grasping that God likes us, enjoys us and delights in us.
  • “Do you think God delights in, rejoices in and enjoys you right now?”
  • I do not think that you struggle with believing that God likes you ten years from now. Because you ten years from now is awesome.
  • “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden.”
  • You’ve got to hear this invitation as it relates to prayer. Because the invitation isn’t, “Start doing what’s right.” The invitation is, “Come to Me. You’re not doing what’s right.” So the solution to what ails us, what weighs heavy on us and what exhausts us is not us trying harder at overcoming those things, but it’s rather us coming to Jesus, walking with Jesus, being in a relationship with Jesus that overpowers our affection for the struggle.
  • It’s, “Come to Me. Are you a train wreck? Come here. Are you broken? Are you stuck in lust? Are you stuck in anger? Are you stuck in fear? Get over here!”


Tim Keller – The Story of the Lamb  (click to go to podcast in iTunes)

Keller helps us “Behold the lamb of God” through unpacking one of THE dominant threads of the Bible.

Brilliant in making clear (even to a secular mind) the need for substitutionary atonement.


Tim Keller – God With Us (click to go to podcast in iTunes)

A Christmas message that matters all year long. Tim Keller takes a sometimes trite phrase “God with us” and makes it come alive. Why “God with us” should excite and transform us.


Share the wealth – what great sermons have you listened to recently?


I shared this with our Leadership students this last week and I think it was really helpful in clarifying what we want them to accomplish.


Quick background: We’ve noticed that our student leaders are great at doing ministry but not great at recruiting new leaders to join with us (whether that’s to Winter Conference, Summer Project, to our weekly leadership time, or even initiating with new people at Cru).


So we’re seeking to create a culture where Leaders not only do ministry but act as mobilizers.


Kind of like “Teach them how to fish”,

Be a Barnabas” is sticky – it vividly and memorably captures what a leader does.


Just wanted to share for others to be able to use/adapt for their leadership times.

Here’s my notes:

  • Tell me everything you know about Paul [greatest missionary ever, wrote most of the New Testament, persecutor, dramatic conversion, etc.]
  • Now tell me everything you know about Barnabus [not much- the only response from students: “he was an encourager”]
  • Lets read Acts 9:26-31; 11:19-26
    • What did Barnabas do in each of these situations?
    • Barnabas sought out Paul, Barnabas brought Paul to stuff
    • He saw something in Paul that others did not
    • He gave Paul his start and connected Paul to a missional community that eventually sent him out to become the greatest missionary the world has ever seen
  • Paul’s influence/impact far exceed Barnabas’
  • God may have you here at the University of Arkansas, leading a freshman Bible study, to raise up 3 missionaries to Ethiopia. To raise up the next great leader whom God will use to bring revival to this campus.
  • Your job as a leader is to get as many people on the playing field (doing ministry) as possible.
  • To not only lead for Christ but to raise up as many leaders as possible.
  • To be a Barnabas – To raise up the next Paul.

“Sir Humphry Davy was a distinguished chemist of the nineteenth century. When asked late in life what he considered to be his greatest discovery, he replied, ‘Michael Faraday.’

Davy had found Faraday, the ignorant son of a blacksmith, taking notes at his lectures and longing to study science. As Davy began to teach young Faraday, he found a brilliant mind that promised to eclipse even his own achievements. He knew that no one discovery of his could possibly compare with the many discoveries Faraday would make.”

– From Tim Elmore’s book Nurturing the Leader within your child


What sticky metaphors/ideas/phrases do you use to create a missional culture?


photo courtesy of  Lawrence OP

The Christian bloggers haven’t been this worked up since Rob Bell’s Love Wins.

The critiques have been pouring in on the very popular video “Why I hate religion but love Jesus” (you can watch it below).

Mega-blogger Justin Taylor tweeted this good perspective:

  • in 6 days 12 million people have watched @JeffuhsonBethke’s “Why I hate religion” video.
  • In 10 months 650,000 watched the Love Wins trailer.


Several differences in the two firestorms:

  • Love Wins was an internal fight among Christians.
  • Why I Hate Religion has reached viral status among the broader world.
  • Love Wins was justifiably critiqued. It’s pretty much heresy.
  • The Why I hate religion but love Jesus video is not flawless in its wording but it’s a great attempt at evangelism


Tullian Tchividjian responds to the critics with, I think, a very helpful correction that’s well worth the read.

I’ve found that in college ministry our main battle is definitely what Tullian writes: that the gospel is “going to have to be distinguished from religion because “religion” is what most people outside the church think Christianity is all about—rules and . . . cleaning yourself up and politics . . . and self-salvation”


Cru’s “Changing Evangelism” research project found an interesting pattern among most non-Christians:

“They are convinced they’ve already heard.

Regardless of how we adapt our evangelistic approaches, it is significant to know that our audience thinks they’ve already heard the message of Jesus (even if, in fact, they haven’t).

We found that 31 of 34 unbelievers we interviewed felt that they’d already heard the message of Jesus . . .

When in fact, most needed someone to correct misconceptions they had about God.

Many New Believers expressed having had misconceptions and a lack of understanding about what it meant to be a Christian. In fact, though many New Believers grew up around Christianity, they would say that they’d never really heard a clear presentation of the gospel before college.”


I have found that when you talk to most college students about Jesus they will immediately think you are talking about religion and they will dismiss you out of hand (and won’t hear anything you’re saying). On our campus, one of our chief goals in evangelism is to contrast religion with the gospel (a la Tim Keller: “there are three ways to approach God: Religion, Irreligion, and the Gospel; which makes me think – what does Keller think about all this fuss?? and how come people are lining up to criticize this video when no one has taken on Keller for his use of “religion” as the word to represent a moralistic approach to God).


I think the “Why I hate religion” video, while not perfect, definitely creates tension to where a person might for the first time think:

“Maybe I don’t really understand Christianity and the gospel.”

And that’s a great place to start.


To be fair, I have tremendous respect for guys like Kevin Deyoung and others who have criticized the video. And Kevin, et al, have some valid (though I’d say relatively minor) quibbles.

And you should definitely read Kevin Deyoung’s post where Jeff Bethke, the creator of the “I hate religion” video writes to Kevin to thank him (with incredible humility) for his loving critique:

“If I redid the video tomorrow, I’d keep the overall message, but would articulate, elaborate, and expand on the parts where my words and delivery were chosen poorly. . . thankful for your words and more importantly thankful for your tone and fatherly like grace on me as my elder”


But one commenter on Tullian’s post says it well:

“This young man should have received a pat on the back, instead he got thrown under the bus by a lot of people who should have known better. Props to him for boldly speaking about Christ in a public medium. Not to mention taking all of the criticism in a humble, teachable way.”


As the saying goes: No one has ever built a monument to a critic.

Or to paraphrase another of my favorite sayings: I like the way Jeff is sharing the gospel better than the way they’re not (not saying they don’t share their faith. There just seems to be far more concern for semantics than passion for the lost).

He made a very well produced video that obviously connected with a lot of people (presumably a lot of whom were non-Christians) and created tension on a critical issue, hopefully awakening many to the fact that they really do not understand the amazing news of the gospel.


What are your thoughts?

How do you get through to students/others who hear “religion” when you say “Jesus”?



Teaching How to Fish

January 13, 2012 — 1 Comment

A conversation I had this summer with my brother-in-law:

Me: “How was fishing this morning?”

Brother-in-law: “Um, it was fun in a different way. It was a lot of work.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Brother in law:

“Well, I never got to fish. I took a friend and his kids out fishing.

They’d never been fishing before so I spent the whole time baiting their hooks, netting their fish they caught, retrieving fishing poles the kids dropped overboard. So it wasn’t fun per se. More rewarding than fun- but so fun to see their faces as they caught their first fish.”

What a great metaphor for ministry.

I told my team that story and we used it all fall: “Remember, teach students how to fish even if it means that you don’t get to fish much yourself.”


I’m convinced that staff’s primary job is not to do ministry but to equip others to do ministry.

But the problem is that most staff go into full time ministry to fish not to make fishers of men.


If you’re interested you can read more thoughts here on how staff’s job is to get more people on the playing field (and how empowered leadership is what Millennials crave). [Update: apparently that linked post no longer exists. I’ll work on getting it back up]


What that’s looked like for us:

  • In the midst of a crazy first week of following up thousands of contacts, Jon (one of our senior staff) spent his first day of follow up with 4 new Community Group leaders walking through how to call contacts and what to do during follow up. He “lost” a valuable afternoon of follow up but was able to equip and mobilize 4 students to pursue freshmen.
  • Staff never share their faith alone. Staff Success in evangelism= sharing the gospel while a student leader watches/learns.


What has “Teaching How to Fish” looked like for you and your team?


photo courtesy of Tassava

Great quote from Brian McCollister, Cru director at Ohio University:

 If you’re not growing the number of small group leaders:

    • You either have a problem on the front end – involving more freshmen
    • Or on the back end – of identifying and developing leaders


I think the converse holds true:

If you’re not growing the number of freshmen involved, you are not raising up enough small group leaders (we count “involved” as # of freshmen in Bible studies).


Either way, the focus remains: I think the primary win for the spring is growing the number of small group leaders who will lead in the fall (here are some thoughts on how we plan to do that).



Let’s say we want to involve 80 freshmen in the fall. We need to work backward from there:

  • If an average study has 6 students in it. . . we need 14 successful freshmen studies
  • If each study has 2 co-leaders, at the very least we need to have 28 students leading freshmen studies
  • So our goal for the spring should be to raise up 28 freshman Bible study leaders


It’s been said: “Good falls begin in the spring.”

Would love to hear: What is your team doing this spring in order to have a good fall?

Top Posts of 2011

January 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

I started blogging to share. As I stated in my first post:

“Inspired by others who have taken the time to share their thoughts/learnings/resources I thought I would stop mooching and start contributing to the conversation.”

 And blogging has been a better investment than I initially could have imagined. Definitely worth the time.


Especially for those of you in college ministry, I’d encourage you to consider how you could contribute to the conversation in 2012. I’d love to see more staff in Cru sharing – always love to see what other campuses are doing and learning. You can read my recent post,

Shares Well With Others, on CruPressGreen for more thoughts on Sharing.


With that being said, here’s a look back at what were the

12 most popular posts on my blog in 2011:


#1 – Everything you need to know about the Cru name change

  • By far the most visited post of 2011 – more people looked at that post than the rest of the top 12 combined. Still don’t understand what the big deal is re: the name change . . .


#2 – Stuff you can use for your weekly meeting

  • An intro video and music playlist to use at a weekly meeting.


#3 – How to start well with your staff

  • Practical thoughts on what to cover during staff planning


#4 – Should we do more ministry online?

  • Should campus ministers incorporate online presence into our work schedule? Should we ever spend “hot hours” (afternoon hours) online?


#5 – Why you shouldn’t go to seminary

  • Aside from the Cru name-change post, this is probably the post that gets the most google search traffic. Proof that sensationalist titles work  : )


#6 – Vale la pena

  • Is college ministry worth the pain of enduring humiliation and contempt so that hundreds and thousands of future world changers can encounter Jesus?


#7 – 5 Things we want every student to experience

  • Great 2 part guest post on narrowing the focus of what we do with students in discipleship. If you only had 5 appointments with a student, what would you do with them?
  • Part 1  and  Part 2


#8 – How we do ministry

  • A one page summary of how we do ministry on our campus. Our ministry philosophy and what we are seeking to accomplish.


 #9 – The Generation changing the world.

  • It’s an exciting time to be working with this generation of college students. 2 Posts on this world-changing generation:
  • Post 1 – This generation of Millenials (age 10-30) is the largest American generation (larger than the Baby Boomer generation). They and their global counterparts will change the world.
  • Post 2 – The role of young people in changing the world in 2011


#10 – Blogging, Ministry Growth and Ambition 

  • How do you strive for excellence, success, and growth in ministry (and blogging) while remaining humble and God-honoring?


#11 – Planning for Year 2023 – Goals

  • How does having a numerical goal (connected to a long term plan) change things?
    • It forces you to plan differently
    • It gives your staff and students hope/vision


#12 – Raising AND lowering the bar

  • “We’re constantly raising the bar of what it takes to be a leader, and lowering the bar on what it takes to get involved”


photo courtesy of Leo Reynolds