Join Me at the World Leaders Conference

I have been invited to blog at the World Leaders Conference next month and I am pumped for the opportunity.

Join me! 

This is unlike any other conference I have been a part of in the past. This conference attracts church leaders and business leaders — alike. And, it’s all about servant leadership. What a wonderful concept to combine the church with the business world for this powerful Biblical principle!

Here’s a brief description from the website:

Designed to provide participants with a uniquely personal experience in an intimate setting, the World LEADERS Conference (WLC) brings together top executives in business and ministry with prominent leadership experts from around the world. The two-day conference provides opportunities for interacting and networking with other business and church leaders, and focuses on the critical issues and trends that are shaping business and the church today.

The speaker list is incredible. The location — wow!  Best of all, the Kingdom-building opportunities are off the charts! I have heard some incredible behind-the-scene stories of transformations that have occurred as  a direct result of this conference.

Join me in Florida next month! I look forward to meeting you.

BONUS: If you’d like a 20% discount, use this code: wlcadvocate

Lasting Transformation vs. Routine Fundraiser

This is a guest post by Kevin Herr, with Water Missions.

(This is not a paid post. I believe in this mission.)

In my role at Water Missions International I often talk with church leaders who want to get their churches involved in our ministry, which provides safe water solutions and the Living Water message of Jesus Christ to people around the world. These groups often participate in a special event like our Water Sunday initiative and while many encounter great breakthrough and mountain top experiences, some end up disheartened with little lasting impact.

Here are a few key points that can drive your church event towards transformation and action rather than being just another fundraiser.

Cast The Vision

Casting the vision means praying about how God can use your church, speaking with other key leaders and making a clear case for what you’d like to see accomplished. Want your church to provide safe water to an entire community? GREAT! Share that vision and what it will take for your church to achieve it. Make a goal, communicate it, and go for it! If you don’t set a clear goal, you will never reach it.

Engage More than Checkbook

Take your missions engagement a step further than simply asking them to write a check. Start to engage their hearts! How can you incorporate the mission or message into other activities they’re involved in? How can they engage spiritually and actively?

Start engaging your church early: the longer the involvement the deeper the impact. For Water Sunday, we encourage groups to do a beverage fast where they drink only water for a period of time, keep a tally of the money they would have spent on other beverages, then donate that amount on Water Sunday to provide safe water to people around the world. During this time they pray for those who lack safe water, develop the spiritual discipline of fasting, talk about it with their friends, and realize how much they spend on something that’s really not important.

Another fun way for people to engage actively is by participating in Walk for Water where they simulate the trek that people around the world do every day for dirty water. Take buckets and walk from your church to a local water source then walk back.

The key idea here is to provide them with an experiential touch-point that re-emphasizes the theme of your message.

Make it a Team Effort.

Don’t do it alone! Use it as an opportunity to draw out leadership in some of your church members or staff. As people prepare and talk about the event, God will be at work in their hearts. Allow others to participate and be impacted!

Celebrate The Win

In order to effectively motivate your members to participate and experience life-change, you need to emphasize the outcome and celebration. What happens if you achieve your goal? How are you going to celebrate?

Water Sunday 2015 | Chris Ndikumana from Water Missions on Vimeo.

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To learn about how your church can make a transformational difference both around the world and in the lives of your own members, visit www.watermissions.org/watersunday.

We’re praying for 100 churches to come alongside us on April 26th and focus on the global water crisis through a variety of activities, studies, and sermon. All the resources are done for you, totally free, and designed to transform lives in your church! Take your next step HERE.

Dr. Martin Luther King Wasn’t Perfect — And That Should Be Encouraging

Dr. Martin Luther King wasn’t perfect.

And that should be encouraging to all of us.

I’m reminded of the great prophet Elijah from the Bible. God used him once to hold back the rain. He was fed by ravens. He kept a widow and her son alive — miraculously.

Yet, one of the most encouraging Bible verses about Elijah to me is James 5:17: Elijah was a person just like us.

And, I’m reminded of that when I think of Dr. King.

Dr. King was a person — just like us.

If we aren’t careful, because he accomplished so much, we can make Dr. King something he wasn’t.

He wasn’t perfect.

Wait, don’t throw things. I’m a fan. I’ve studied him beyond his most famous speech.

Was he great? Of course.

Was he extraordinaire? Absolutely.

Did he do great things? Without a doubt.

These lines from his famous “I Have a Dream Speech” alone are grand enough for celebration:

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope.

As a pastor, knowing these words were obviously inspired by Dr. King’s knowledge of Scripture, I’m impressed. So inspiring. I wish I could do it that well.

But, was Dr. King perfect?

I don’t think so.

I doubt, based on what I know of his faith as a Gospel preacher that he would even claim perfection apart from Christ. Only Jesus is perfect. Dr. King surely believed this.

We honor his birth because of his impact on our world.

In fact, he’s one of the best examples of leaving a legacy that we have in modern history. His work keeps encouraging, inspiring, and making us better.

We honor him because he was fighting for a perfect dream.

We honor him because he was willing to sacrificially give everything to achieve his dream.

Yet, sadly, his dream is yet to be fully realized. His work is not finished.

This year alone should teach us we haven’t reached the dream Dr. King fought for with his very life. Ferguson. New York. Chicago. Baltimore. Your city.

Every hill and mountain has not been made low. The rough places are not yet plain. There are still crooked places. The glory of our Lord hasn’t been fully revealed.

Peace has not been achieved.

And, here’s why it matters so much, in my opinion, that Dr. King — the man — wasn’t perfect.

If we see him as perfect, then, those of us who know we are not, (people like you and me) may feel we can never measure up to his standard. We could never attain greatness – never make a difference in our part of the world – because we don’t have the charisma of Dr. King. Or, the courage. Or, the oratory ability.

In fact, we may not even try. We may not give ourselves the chance for God to use us for His glory.

So, we will dismiss any dream we have as unattainable. Even our efforts to continue the dream Dr. King had will cease because we falsely believe such acts of greatness were reserved for the one man — Dr. King. Or, maybe a few like him.

But, it’s not true, is it?

Dr. King was great, but only His Savior Jesus is perfect.

The best way to honor Dr. King is to strive for impact.

Strive for a perfect dream. Strive for an end to racism, an end to the fighting, a reality of peace — where all God’s children are able to sing, “Free at last. Praise God Almighty we are free at last.”

Have a dream. A big, hairy audacious dream.

That kind of living honors the legacy.

The fact is all of us are capable of greatness. If we have big dreams — ones which honor others and make the world a better place — and we do everything in our power to realize them, we can be used of God to accomplish great things.

There will never be another Dr. King. Just like there never was another Elijah.

But, there will never be another you either.

And, we need your dream.

We need your work.

We need your energy and your vision and your passionate attempt to make things better in our world. We need your contribution to the peace and prosperity of our land.

So start honoring Dr. King!

Be brave. Be bold. Dream big. Live strong. Do good things!

Why I Require Our Staff to Work on Christmas Eve

I’m not a huge rule-maker. I like to operate in freedom and so I try to leader others that way. I’m strict about very few things.

(Can I be completely honest? — I’d rather break a rule than keep one. Certainly I love to write better rules.)

I’m a little different on Christmas Eve.

I’m strict. I write rules. An ole’ controlling leader.

Our ministerial staff works on Christmas Eve.

Period. No excuses.

That’s harsh, isn’t it?

Christmas Eve is a big deal in this church. Always has been. Long before I became pastor.

We now have 3 services to accommodate crowds, but the church has always had one packed service, which is live on television. Near 100,000 people in our region watch the show and the past couple years we’ve rebroadcast the show several times on Christmas Day. It’s somewhat of a community event.

But, there’s another reason.

Culturally speaking, Christmas has in many ways become the new Easter.

Not theologically of course. You can’t trump the resurrection, but as an opportunity to reach lost people.

They’ll come at Christmas. It’s a culturally acceptable thing to do. A familiar affair. Get dressed up (or not) and gather together to sing familiar Christmas songs. It’s a great family tradition. (I read recently – 57% of people say they’d visit church at Christmas if someone they knows asks.)

And, who can’t love a baby in a manger story? You can attract people at Christmas like no other time of the year.

Think about it: We would never think of staff missing Easter. It’s an “all hands on deck” kind of day.

So, I make Christmas Eve a priority and require our staff to be here.

(Now, in complete transparency, if there were extenuating circumstances with a staff member we would certainly consider them.)

And, sure, it’s difficult on families to understand. I get that. My family has to sacrifice also. We live 4 hours from our family and we now miss Christmas Eve together.

But, if we had a job as a policeman or at a hospital emergency room, no one would question why we had to work. It comes with the job.

And, in church work, Christmas Eve, if it’s done well, can be a great part of the job. Lives are at stake. It’s a vital work. An “all hands on deck” kind of day.

The Gospel is our mission and it shares well on Christmas Eve.

10 Bible Truths Of Freedom

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord Psalm 33:12

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. Psalm 119:45

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. Philippians 3:20-21

What My Fitbit Taught Me about Myself — and Life

I’m a Fitbit wearer.

It’s a wristband that syncs with an application on my phone to count the number of steps I take each day. It’s set with an automatic goal of 10,000 steps.

This is not an advertisement — although if Fitbit wants to endorse this page I’d be open to that — but, I’ve been using it for several months now and it’s taught me a few things. About myself. About life.

Granted, I knew these already. They are not new revelations. But certainly I’ve had some principles that have been reinforced by my use of Fitbit.

Here are 4 things I’ve learned:

I respond better when I have a goal. Goals encourage me. Knowing I need to get at least 10,000 steps per day motivates me. Even if it’s at the end of a long day I will find a way to complete the goal. I WILL GET MY STEPS!

There’s a special joy in completing a goal. When you reach 10,000 steps the Fitbit goes crazy. (Or crazy compared to what it had been doing just sitting on my arm.) That tingle. That buzz. Those lights flashing is a pep in my day. Sometimes I use the elliptical and place the Fitbit bracelet around the bars of the machine. (It’s more accurate that way it seems.) I miss my “buzz” of reaching the goal. Okay so I’m being a bit dramatic, but if you like completing a task this does give you something else to get excited about each day.

Accountability challenges me to do my best. Cheryl has a Fitbit too. We keep track of where each other is in our daily goal. If she doesn’t feel like walking the nights we need steps, I’ll challenge her. If I’m not feeling it, she encourages me.

A little competition never hurts. I have “friends” on Fitbit. To be a friend, they have to have a Fitbit too. Granted, I don’t need another social media outlet to keep up with, but with Fitbit, my friends keep me going. I know they are “watching” — and trying to catch me — so I must stay ahead. I must. 🙂

My experience with Fitbit has been a daily reminder how valuable having goals and objectives, accountability, and even competition can be in my life. Think with me:

How can I apply these same principles to other areas of my life?

My 10 Favorite Cities In Which To Run

I’m an avid runner. It’s my best thinking time. If I’m out of town, I usually run longer distances because of the new surroundings. I’ve had some glorious running experiences.

Here are my favorite cities (communities) in which to run, somewhat in order:

  • Chicago
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Philadelphia
  • New York City
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Dallas, TX
  • Lexington, KY
  • Saugatuck, MI
  • Santa Monica, CA

This is actually my domestic list. I have had some international running opportunities. I may rank them someday.

Do you know of a great city in which to run?

Tell me where I am missing.

12 Ways Christians Can be Less Mean

I wrote a post recently encouraging Christians to be less mean — especially online. It was called “When Did Christians Become So Mean?

It seems to me, we’ve lost some of our civility when it comes to what we post on social media. We are quick to blast a company that we feel has wronged us. We criticize people — right on their Facebook page. We load the comments of a blog post with crushing blows.

Surely you’ve seen it. The web has made it much easier to be a critic.

But, it’s also in public. I’ve seen Christians I know act like jerks in a restaurant or grocery store. I consistently hear of bosses who serve smiling on Sunday but are mean to employees during the week.

It all has to hurt our witness as Christians.

The post got a little attention.

Actually, some people, proved the need for the post by the way they responded. 🙂

Still others asked for some suggestions of how we could improve — some even wanted examples.

I decided not to share specific examples. In my opinion, that would be mean. So, you’re meanness will remain anonymous in this post. If you are mean, most likely others already know your name. :).

I did decide to share some ways we can be “less mean” online.

Here are a dozen suggestions:

Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Love one another (John 13:34)

Be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (James 1:19)

Treat others as you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31)

Have the mind of Christ. (Philippians 2:5)

Remember kindness leads to repentance. (Romans 2:4)

Keep your tongue from evil And your lips from speaking deceit. (Psalm 34:13)

Honor everyone. (1 Peter 2:17)

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (Ephesians 4:29)

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (Romans 12:10)

Just a few of those should improve the quality of our online involvement.

And, finally, a bonus one:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14)

Those are some of my suggestions.

Got any others?

When Did Christians Become So Mean?

Okay, this one will get me into trouble. Especially if the shoe fits. Wait for the comments on this one.

But I have to ask…

When did Christians become so mean?

Not all Christians. Most Christians I know are nice. Very nice.

But, I’ve met some mean ones lately.

Now, let me be clear. I am one. A Christian that is. (Hopefully not mean — too often.) In fact, I’ve centered my life around my faith and even am vocationally supported by Christians. (So I love you! I really do.)

But, when did some of you — my brothers and sisters in Christ as we are often referred to — become so mean?

It’s mostly online. You write something they don’t agree with, and instead of a healthy disagreement, they blast you. Right there on your Facebook wall or with a hurting comment on a blog post. Where everyone can read it. In fact, some people read it even before the one who wrote the post reads it. I’ve even had guest bloggers tell me they don’t want to post anymore because of the comments.

I understand that. My blogs are reposted on different websites — with more widespread readers than I have — and I don’t read the comments much, because when I do — I’m tempted to tell them I don’t want to post there anymore. Mean people commenting — calling themselves Christians. I don’t want to play that game either. Who has time for that?

It’s not that they don’t have valid points. Many times they do, but the way they make their point doesn’t come across very Christ-like. Actually rather mean.

I get that it’s cultural now. We’ve become transparent. Honest. Blunt. But — just being honest — sometimes that comes across as mean.

I can’t imagine how those outside the faith view the way we often treat each other.

I wrote a post about Christians behaving online. It wasn’t just because I didn’t have anything else to write about. It’s because some Christians have become mean. Online. For everyone to see.

The Internet has made it so much easier — and faster — to be mean if you choose to be mean. Even anonymously if you want.

But, I’ve seen it in public too.

Why just last week — I saw a Bible study group meeting at a local coffee shop. I didn’t know any of them. I was minding my own business, but it was obvious what they were doing discussing the Bible. They had Bibles. 🙂

I loved it.

Then one of them became a real jerk to the girl that messed up his order.

Mean. Right there in front of his Bible study friends, me, and all the other coffee shop patrons — many who may not have been Christians. And, probably aren’t anymore motivated to be one now.

I was embarrassed.

I’ve had some restaurant people tell me the “church hour” — after the churches finish on Sunday — is one of the hardest hours of their week. Really? That’s sad. I would hope it’d be the opposite.

How’s that for having the mind of Christ? Or being witnesses? Or considering others better than ourselves?

Whenever I’ve asked, well over three fourths of my blog readers identify themselves as believers. So, if you’re in the one fourth who don’t claim Christianity, this post isn’t for you. Sorry about that, but today I’m only addressing the “family”. We call ourselves brothers and sisters. In love, we sometimes gently rebuke one another. That’s what families do.

So, brothers and sisters. Quit being mean.

Consider what you say and the way you say it before you ever say it.

That sounds logical. Biblical. A good discipline even.

Because I can fall into a culture that thinks more about myself than others too. You can too. We all can. We can value our opinion, consider others without our opinion wrong, and talk to people who we know are wrong like they are less human because of it. Sometimes we treat members of our family — people we love — worse than we treat a stranger. I get that.

But, when we are mean it flies in the face of what Christians are taught to do — in the Bible we claim as our guide. And, it’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance. To my knowledge, no one ever comes to faith through meanness. Or watching someone be mean to others.

In fact, there is no “meanness” of God. God is love — even when He’s sharing truth.

And, we are to be like Him. At least becoming more like Him.

So this is an encouragement. A simple, striving to be nice, non-mean intended, encouragement.

Let’s clean up our act. Or, to put it in my Christian like terms — let’s let Jesus clean up our act. Let’s be more like our Savior. The One by whom we are called Christians. Christ.

Let’s set an example for others. Not be so mean. Actually be nicer. A kinder, gentler breed of Christians. Let’s learn how to disagree with one another the right way. Full of grace and truth. Let’s love one another. And, demonstrate the peace of Christ to those who are seeking peace.

If they can’t find kindness, forgiveness, love in us — where will they find it?

“A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings disaster on himself.” Proverbs 11:17

Now read 12 Ways Christians Can Be Less Mean Online.